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31st August 1542. Bowmen of England.

The expression, ‘two strings to one’s bow’, to provide is a reminder of the days when an archer would have a spare string in his pouch.

The Staffordshire Muster rolls of 1539 listed the bowmen and billmen of the Household of the Abbot of Burton showing how local monasteries were required to provide for the defence of the country.

It also demonstrates that archery was still a force to be reckoned with, and three years later all Englishmen between the ages of 17 and 60 were required to own a bow and arrow. (1)


Today in 1542 there was a requirement in a Proclamation of Henry VIII that,  ‘bowyers for every bowe of ewe [yew] to make 2 of elme, wyche or other woode of meane price’ (sic). There was also a limitation of what could be charged for bows and arrows in order to encourage their use.(2)

The problem at the time was that our milder climates mitigated against growing straight bow wood, as the best yew trees for the purpose, grow in the sheltered valleys abroad, where slow growth encourages straight trunks.

There was thus a  need to restrict imports, especially as it appears that wood for the bows found on Henry’s flag-ship, the Mary Rose came from Switzerland and Poland.

Just after Henry VIII became king, an Act was passed requiring all under 60, ‘not lame, diseased, maimed or having any other lawful impediment’, clergy and judges excepted, ‘to use shooting on longbow under penalty on default of 12d per month’. Women were not excluded from archery practice and Henry bought bows for his queen, Anne Boleyne in 1534.

According to the reign’s ‘Statutes at Large’ : ‘No bowyer  shall sell any  bow of yew to any person between the age of eight and fourteen years above the price of 12 pence’. But archery however was set to decline nonetheless except for recreational use.(3)

The period in fact was a pivotal era in warfare technology between the Longbow and Arrow and other armoury, as shown in February 1548, when an English landing party in Tayside, Scotland,  saw a line up of: ‘Skirmishers’, of 20 Harquebusiers and 20 bowes . For ‘Battle, 4 ranks of Harquebusiers, 7 ranks of Pike and 4 ranks of Bills. In the Wings, 40 archers, 20 swords and targets for wyfflers’.

In 1566 in the reign of Elizabeth, the price of Longbows was set with best foreign yew at 6/8d and English yew at 2/-shillings reflecting the inferior nature of native yews.

It wasn’t until later in her reign in 1595 that the English army finally abandoned the Longbow as a weapon, by which time it had well and truly become obsolete, as even more lethal mean of killing were now employed.

(1) March 28th 1542.

(2) Boke for a Justyce of the Peace (sic). Pub by printer Thos. Berchelet 1534. Guidance for Tudors.P.33.

(3) 12 pence or 2 days pay for a soldier.


Tudor Royal Proclamation Vol 1 P 313. 31 August Henry VIII.

warbowwales .com. Tudor Archery and the Law. Jonathan Davies.

Forgotten English. Jeffrey Kackirk. 2006.


30th August 1884. The Anodyne Effect of Chlorodyne.

Dr. Collis Browne served as an army surgeon in the 98th Regiment of Foot in far-flung outposts such as China, India and the North-West frontier.

Famous for having invented the patent medicine Chlorodyne, Dr.Browne who died Today in 1884 in Ramsgate, Kent, produced his all-purpose 19th century remedy initially to cure cholera, but with later claims against diarrhoea, neuralgia and migraine.

The formula was later acquired by John Thistlewood Davenport to be marketed by J.T. Davenport & Sons until the 1960.s, selling bottles containing the alcohol solution of Opium called Laudanum, along with tincture of Cannabis and Chloroform.

It so lived up to its claim that it became a best seller, especially as children were frequently given doses to keep them quiet.

The Medical Act 1868 put restrictions on certain proprietary medicines and J.C. Browne’s Compound eventually removed the Cannabis and Opiates were reduced. It was then to be sold under the trade name John Collis’ Mixture for Coughs and Diarrhoea, but still containing Morphine along with Peppermint Oil.









Eventually as a generic medicine it was popularly marketed by competitors, companies such as Freeman’s, Teasdale’s and Towle’s.

Late in her reign, Queen Victoria was advised by her physician Sir James Reid to use Chlorodyne for insomnia which was a version of the widely used hypnotic Chloral Hydrate.

Over the years Chlorodyne brought relief to many but like all drugs/medicines was widely abused, resulting in the deaths of untold people by accident or design: suicide or murder.

Many deaths went unattributed to Chlorodyne owing to lack of expertise in autopsies at the time. In 1974 it was recommended that the preparation be restricted to use by prescription.

Plaque at Collis Browne’s home at Ramsgate, Kent.

References: 19.1.2016/Pic of bottle.

British Medical Journal.1974. March 9th. 1(5905): 427-9. Parkes, Cobb and Connell.

29th August 1797. ‘Lunarticks’

‘Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania’: Midsummer Night’s Dream, when Titania meets Oberon in the forest.

September’s full moon is called the ‘Harvest Moon’; October’s the ‘Hunters’ Moon’, once signalling the start of the hunting season.

Today in 1797 the artist (Joseph) Wright of Derby died, often regarded as the English answer to Caraveggio, in his use of  chiaroscuro (light and dark).

He was an artist who painted the birth of science and its pioneers, particularly the leading figures of The Lunar Society of industrialists and natural philosophers, who met monthly at each other’s houses on the Monday nearest to the full moon.

Experiment on a bird. Wright of Derby.

Notable people of the Lunar Society, painted by Wright, included grandfather of Charles, Erasmus Darwin, doctor, inventor, poet and pioneering theorist of evolution, Joseph Priestley, Josiah Wedgwood, Matthew Boulton, James Watt and scientists, William Withering and John Stokes.

Erasmus Darwin 1770, by Wright. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Another member, Sir Brooke Boothby (Bt) of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, was painted by Wright in a pastoral pose reading a book in the nearby Needwood Forest.

The Lunar Circle was founded in 1765 to be renamed the Lunar Society of Birmingham of 12 members and like the better known Royal Society had leading figures from industry and science.

Meetings were held at various members’ houses including Erasmus Darwin’s at Lichfield and Matthew Boulton’s at Soho, Birmingham.

The ostensible reason for the Lunar Meetings on nights near a Full Moon was the hope that the light would offer some protection against the dangers of 18th century streets. However this ignores the problem of cloud.

Sir Brooke Boothby 1781 Joseph Wright of Derby 1734-1797 Bequeathed by Miss Agnes Ann Best 1925

The members cheerfully called themselves ‘Lunarticks’, reflecting that lunatic suggests the moon’s effect on human behaviour as it does on other natural phenomena such as tides: high and low daily, and spring and neap in alternate weeks. (1)

Orrery Monument, commemorating Wright’s painting on the subject, and sited in Derby.


(1) Blue moons occur, ‘once in a blue moon’ (rarely), when the red light vanishes against the blackness of the sky, but the’ unscattered light’ shining through, makes the moon itself look blue.

References: Pics. of Iron Foundry and Boothby.’s answer to Caraveggio. Hugo Glendinning.


28th August 1861. Fry’s Banking and Chocolate.

‘I have always loved the simplicity of manners of Quakers’: Boswell’s, Life of Johnson.

Under the 1689 Toleration Act, Catholics received no freedom of worship, but Quakers and other Dissenters under certain conditions worshipped freely.

Today Joseph Fry died in 1861. As a member of the the Quakers (founded by George Fox), who had renounced Church of England doctrine and ministry, they were debarred from the two universities and so like many others moved into trade.

Born in 1777 Joseph was a tea dealer and unsuccessful banker, but made a wise move by marrying on 10th August 1800, at Norwich Quaker Meeting House Elizabeth Gurney, who as Elizabeth Fry became a notable reformer.

The Gurney family, were wealthy bankers of Norwich; her mother was a member of the Barclay banking company, so money attracted money.

It was Joseph’s father, William Storrs Fry, who having moved from Wiltshire to London, established a company of tea dealing and banking, W.S. Fry & Sons.

However the Fry name really became famous through William’s brother, Joseph (1728-1787) who founded the famous chocolate factory, J.S. Fry & Sons in Bristol.

1901 Advert.

Meanwhile Joseph and his brother William (1768-1858) were running the family banking business, but neither had much financial acumen.

Then in the 1812 financial panic in the City of London, William precipitated a crisis by lending a large amount of money to his wife’s family undermining the bank’s solvency.

It was left to Joseph’s wife with her Gurney financial connections, to pull the company through, supported by her brother John (1781-1814), brother-in-law, Samuel Hoare III (1783-1847), another banker, and cousin Hudson Gurney, who came to the conclusion that what was needed was investment in the bank of W.S. Fry & Sons.

In 1825 another City crisis saw Elizabeth Fry’s relations again save the firm from bankruptcy, but when in 1828 the problems re-occurred no further Gurney support was forthcoming and on November 21st the bank closed. As a result Joseph Fry was disowned for a time by the Society of Friends, for letting down his investors and creditors.

The family patriarch of the Gurneys was Daniel, born March 9th 1791 and Elizabeth Gurney was born at the family home Earlham Hall, Norwich. Her father was John Gurney, a partner in Gurney Bank and her mother was Catherine a member of the Barclays.

By 1776 there were said to be 150 banks outside London and many founders, such as the Gurneys married into other Quaker families of the old merchant and entrepreneurial class such as the Fry family and the Hanbury and Buxton brewing families.

One wonders what would have happened if Quakers had been allowed to go to university, certainly less wealth would have been created as they would be unlikely to have gone into despised ‘trade’. A lesson for today!



27th August 1666. Inigo Jones: Forgotten Genius.

England was divided by the Reformation from Continental influence in architecture until Inigo Jones, appointed King’s Surveyor in 1615, introduced the classical designs of the Roman Vitruvius.

John Evelyn records in his Diary Today in 1666 how he and Christopher Wren along with Mr. Pratt and Mr. May went to ‘survey the general decays of that ancient and venerable church and to build it with a noble cupola’.

However a few days late the Great Fire of London supervened, which among other things destroyed Jones’s impressive portico for the venerable church, old St. Paul’s Cathedral, then the largest building north of the Alps. (1)

The Queen’s House, Greenwich, built for queen of James I.

Jones had died in 1652, but revolutionized architecture in England by bringing the Italian Renaissance building style to London and Greenwich which swept away the native Jacobean style.

The noble portico of St.Paul’s Covent Garden, London, based by Jones on a Tuscan Temple.

The Banqueting Hall in Whitehall is one of the first buildings in the pure Renaissance style, and with its finely proportioned Classical details, must have seemed extraordinary in Stuart London. As would the purity of Queen’s House at Greenwich, started for Anne of Denmark about 1617.

This took nearly twenty years to complete after he had been taken with the simplicity of the works of Palladio, but there is nothing in the austerity of the building that equates with the Italian.

Jones did not borrow a fashion he used the principles he discovered in his travels in Italy, to invent his own. 

Jones’s architecture so bemused most of the master builders around him that it took two generations for his ideas to be fully appreciated. His works were too intricate and rich for architects to follow immediately.

The downfall of the Court of Charles I, in the Civil War, was Jones’s too. The last we see of him is aged more than seventy being carried away in a blanket from the siege of Basing Castle. He died in 1652 ‘through grief, as is well known, for the fatal calamity of his dread master’.

Sadly out of 46 recorded works, only eight of Inigo Jones’s survive, but what masterpieces! Inigo Jones who is he? I’ve heard of Wren, a common response.

Christopher Wren was to go on to become King’s Surveyor of Works and design the new St. Paul’s Cathedral along with many City churches, and his 202 foot, fluted Doric Monument located in Fish Hill Street in the City, is said to be the tallest isolated stone column in the world.

Or as it says in St. Paul’s: Si monumentum requiris circumspice.

(1) Jones was born 19.7.1573 and died in 1652.

References: studies/inigo jones. builders. Giles Worsley. 11.5.2002.


26th August 55 BCE.

‘Before the Romans came to Rye and out to Severn strode’: G.K. Chesterton.

The farther back one goes in history, dating becomes more problematic for various reasons, often having to be inferred from Roman dating, and later based on constructions from verifiable astronomical phenomena. Then in 1752 the British calendar saw 11 days removed to bring it into line with the Gregorian, so we had Old and New Styles of dating.

The invasion of Julius Caesar to these Islands is usually quoted as Today 55 BCE : Vene Vini Vici: ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’, though he never did conquer.

Despite the fact that Julius Caesar reconnoitred in 55 and 54 BCE, he left no enduring mark. The great moment came a century later in 43 CE when Emperor Claudius overran the south-east establishing the province of Britannia.

Bust of Caesar in Naples Museum. Photo by Andreas Wahay.

Once established the Fosse Way between Exeter and Lincoln was to open up the advance north, but was always to be difficult with manpower shortage, lengthening lines of communication and tribal opposition.

Eventually Wales and the north were conquered, but always required vigilance and the control of ‘marcher territories’ with bases at Chester and Carlisle.

Attempts was made to subjugate Scotland, before Hadrian in 122 CE drew a line in the sand between Newcastle and Carlisle, with his wall, the most impressive military construction in Roman Europe.

Civilised Roman life centred thus is southern England and support staff and trade followed the armies with administrators, engineers, justiciars, builders of roads and bridges. Then came tradesmen, merchants and the first towns and manufacturers.

However the native Britons didn’t give up lightly with St. Albans, Colchester and London being slighted by Boudicca and the Iceni in 60/61 CE. After that matters improved with many administrative centres (civitates), along with about 100 communities being established: London the largest probably had a population of 30,000.

Growing comfort has later been revealed in villas, with their apogee of accrued wealth seen in the 3rd/4th centuries, the age of Chedworth, Fishbourne, Rockbourne in Hampshire and Lullingstone in Kent.

However defensive walls around south-east coast, later known as Forts of the Saxon Shore, show that new invaders were on the horizon, and in 367 came the ‘Barbarians’: the Picts, Scots and Saxons.

Gaul was overrun requiring resources from Britain, three Roman  leaders came in quick succession, mutiny was in the air. In 410 Honorius told the British ‘all was lost’. A ‘Dark Age’, in that we know so little about it, supervened, and a quieter, (for historians), more dispersed and less documented civilisation developed.

Map produced by Roger Sinnott on investigation of tidal and other data.

One authority who disputes the 26th August is Roger W Sinnot of Texas University in 2008, who on a modern reading of Caesar’s reference to full moon and tidal data comes up with a landing  four days earlier. His inference of a turn to the right and landing site is commonly held by historians.

One of the enduring aspects of Roman rule is the calendar. The assassination of Julius Caesar took place in 44 BCE, but not before he had two years before commissioned Sosigenes a Greek astronomer to devise a new calendar based on the solar year which recommended a calendar with a 365-day year and an extra day every 4th year. The Julian Calendar was to last until it was succeeded by the Gregorian, 1500 years later.

References: invasion. Sinnot 30.6.2008. Richard Cavendish V 55. Iss 8. August 2005.


25th August 1867. The Man who Invented the Electric Motor.

Michael Faraday after a basic education was originally apprenticed to a bookbinder, before he started to attend lectures by Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution, to whom he applied later for a job.

However he was turned down because as Davy said: ‘ Science is a hard mistress and in a pecuniary point of view but poorly rewarding those who develop themselves to her service’.

Faraday eventually got a job in 1813 as chemical assistant at the Royal Institution and by his death Today in 1867 he had become famous for discoveries and developments in many scientific fields, building on previous work by the likes of William Gilbert.

One in particular was the discovery of the principle of electromagnetic induction whereby a copper wire inside a circle of a magnet could now drive transformers and generators. 

Faraday, on the right, at work.

He set down in his diary on the 29th August 1831, the principles of electrical induction; from now on electricity from being a curiosity now became the motive power for industry.

Faraday in 1844 was to use the term ‘central point of the atom’, (Latin, nucleus or kernel), later discovered in 1911 by Ernest Rutherford.

The term electrode or electric conductor relates either to an anode (positive electrode) or a cathode (negative electrode): terms coined by Faraday who was also to create the word ‘ion’ for substances which allow a current to ‘go’ (from the Greek going), between electrodes in a solution, when an electric current is applied.

Michael Faraday statue at Savoy Place, London. John Henry Foley RA.

In 1826 Faraday founded the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures which still continue, and his name is honoured by the SI unit, the Farad, used for the measure for Capacitance.(1)

Capacitor found in a camera.

Circuit with a capacitor.








(1) A Capacitor is similar to a battery but doesn’t create a current but stores electricity and has multiple uses in electronics: the flash in a camera uses the sudden burst of energy from a capacitor.


In October 2000 Burnley born Ernest Faraday died, being the great-great nephew of the famous Michael. Ernest aptly made his name in cinema lighting and supervising lighting for George VI’s 1937 coronation.