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24th July 2000. The Good and Bad Face of Capitalism.

The London Stock Exchange which became a private limited company, after 198 years, saw its shares traded Today in 2000 for the first time. Red braces now replaced bowler-hats, which had once needed a hat-rack of 1/8 of a mile.

Capitalism, as we know it,  had taken off in the late 17th century when the Dutch influence, helped by the accession of the Dutch, William III, brought new ideas, including the setting up of the Bank of England in 1694, which meant that capital for Empire could be raised with the backing of government.

After the collapse of the South Sea Company, Prime-Minister, Robert Walpole transferred its stock to the East Indies Company and the new Bank of England.

The late 19thc saw the new technologies of railways and later cars, and it threw up people not always scrupulous in their dealings, notable examples being the ‘Railway King’, Hudson and Ernest Terah Hooley (1859-1947), a Nottingham stockbroker.

Hooley was typical of the company promoters of the 1890.s, making vast sums from buying up under-capitalised companies and re-floating them with vague and glowing prospectuses, not unlike today!

Hooley, along with people of his ilk, pocketed the difference and the public was left with over-valued shares on which no dividends were ever paid. His companies were often fronted by Peers who were in need of funds after the  late 19thc agricultural depression.

Then a new group of middle-class investors were becoming increasingly susceptible to the blandishments of companies having Lords as Directors, with Hooley having a tariff  from £25,000 for a duke to £5,000 for a baronet.

However not all of his company promotions were fraudulent, as some became household names: Bovril, Schweppes and Boots to name three. Then in an age of cycle manufacture, he brought The Humber Company (founded in 1895, in partnership with Harry Lawson), Raleigh, Singer and Swift to the market.

His most successful flotation was the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company from which he netted £2m (£100m in today’s money), for which he managed to secure the names of the Duke of Somerset, Earl de la Warr and the Earl of Albemarle.

His partner in Dunlop was again Harry John Lawson (1852-1925), who had entered the business in a small way in the cycle trade in Brighton, being Sales Manager of the Rudge Cycle Company Ltd when founded in 1887.

Hooley between the years 1888 to 1896 promoted at least 22 companies some of them banks such as the ‘Issue Bank of England and Wales’ and the ‘London and Scottish Trustee and Investment Company’, names reminiscent of the bogus United Bangalore and Disinterested Loan Company, found in Dickens’, ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’. 

His 1891 Beeston Pneumatic Tyre company was liquidated two years later.

The fortune made from the offshoots of the Humber Company enterprises abroad provided Lawson and Hooley with a substantial fortune some of which went into Lawson’s purchase of the Daimler patents and formation of ‘British Motor Syndicate’.

Lawson may have brought the fledgling motor industry into disrepute later, but it was his finance, which enabled the first companies to offer cars for sale in Britain.

The talents making for success in business are sometimes subverted into activities of a less salubrious kind, as when in 1904 Hooley and Lawson promoted the ‘Electric Tramway Construction & Maintenance Company, but were later prosecuted for conspiring to defraud the shareholders: plus ca change.

References:

googleimages.

 

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23rd July 1637. Casting of the Stool.

When James VI of Scotland succeeded to the English throne, the two nations were united as one kingdom, but in his zeal he also wanted to unite church practice, despite the Reformation having taken root deeper in Scotland than England.

The Scots thus were wary of any religious observances imported from England, especially the new Service Book written by Scottish Bishops and revised by the English, Archbishop of Canterbury the High Churchman, William Laud.

Wisely James didn’t press the case, but when his son came to the throne in 1625 as Charles I he decided to plough ahead with religious unification.

Matters came to a head Today in 1637 when a small riot broke out in St.Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, ‘When the Dean…opened the service book and began to read the prayers, this multitude was struck with horror which defied all control’.

‘Casting the Stool’, reasons.

‘They raised their voices in discordant clamours and abusive language, denouncing the Dean as, ‘the progeny of the devil’, and the bishop as a ‘belly-god’, calling out that it was rank popery they were bringing in’.

As was the custom then the men sat in the pews whilst women sat on stools in the aisles, one of which was hurled by Jenny Geddes at the head of the Dean, Richard Hannay, presiding in the pulpit. An action since known to history as the ‘Casting of the Stool’.

This was followed by ‘whole sackfuls of small clasp-bibles’. After the formal dismissal of the now disorderly congregation, the officiating clergy including the bishop escaped, but were mobbed in the street narrowly escaping with their lives.

The incident was one of those seemingly minor occurrences in history which appear out of all proportion to what follows, as in this case Charles pursued his pressures on the Scots to accept the new Prayer Book, with its inherent Catholic overtones.

What followed were the skirmishes of the Bishops’ Wars, the rise of the Scottish Covenanters in 1637, a civil-war and the execution of a king in 1649.

References:

inamidst.com/geddes.

W&R Chambers Book of Days (1864).

Google Images.

thereformation.info.

22nd July 2011. Reading a Pleasure for Life.

The 1930.s saw the introduction of the many faceted ‘Penguin’ paper-backs by Allen Lane. In 1954 ‘One of our Submarines is Missing’, was chosen as the 1,000th book for which Teddy Young, who had designed the first covers for Penguin, produced a new design. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young had started work sharpening pencils at another publisher, Bodley Head, then left with Allen Lane to launch Penguin as the first major paperback imprint.

Routledge [Paul], still publishing in modern times, was one of the first to begin, in the field, with his ’Yellow Books’ Library of 1849. These were cheap novels, also called ’Mustard-Plaster Novels’, brightly coloured and competing with the less wholesome output of the day, the ‘Penny Dreadfuls’.

However the once gentlemanly world of publishing was rocked Today in 2011 when Macmillan Publishers was forced, in a civil-recovery claim, by the High Court to hand over £11.2m after dubious West African deals between 2002-2009.

It constituted one of the highest awards made, though ‘not technically a fine’, said the Daily Telegraph, but no doubt felt like it to the publishers!

It resulted from a Serious Fraud Office investigation into a World Bank claim which said, ‘Macmillan had made bribery payments to secure a deal to print text books in South Sudan’.

Logo of Macmillan’s for Leslie Stephen’s biography of Alexander Pope. 1880.

It represented a sad terminal blow for the publisher founded in 1843 by the grandfather of once Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, responsible for publishing books of many well known Victorian and Edwardian authors such as Thomas Hardy and Tennyson.

The company was the first to publish Charles Kingsley and Lewis Carroll, before making a fortune in educational textbooks. Kipling, Thomas Hardy and W.B. Yeats were dealt with personally by ’Mr Harold’ as he was known.

As with many other large companies, Macmillan’s is now in foreign hands, being owned by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck a German publisher which owns 50 % of Die Zeit newspaper.

Many household name publishers were founded in the 20th with the growth of literacy. The Left Book Club was founded in 1936 by Victor Gollancz who was joined by a new breed of émigré publishers escaping from Nazi Germany, including the eponymous publishers Andre Deutsch  and Paul Hamlyn.

George Weidenfield joined forces with Nigel Nicholson after meeting his father at the BBC and first came to the public eye with his magazine ‘Contact’ at a time of acute paper shortage post war, and many were the war memoirs in the 1960.s.

Other well known publishers were Phaidon, Thames and Hudson, and Faber & Faber who in 2009 celebrated their 80th anniversary. The founder was a brewer at Strong’s Romsey Ales, Geoffrey Faber, whose wife suggested he set up in a new profession, as living ‘over the shop, she didn’t like the smell of beer’.

In 1925 he joined with Lady Gwyer, a publisher of nursing manuals, a company that four years later became Faber & Faber, there wasn’t a second Faber, but it sounded more euphonious.

Faber’s success was in attracting strong-minded people around him such as Richard de la Mare, son of the poet, with much of their work poet orientated, though they did reject Larkin, which must say something.

In 1944 with a paper shortage and rationing the Directors were judging up to twenty manuscripts a week, but accepting two.

70 million books were collected in the early days of World War II, to be pulped, which helped re-stock bombed libraries or sent to servicemen overseas.

One of the Author’s early memories is of the cheap, paper-back, Penguin Book with its simple logo, and instrumental in introducing many to wider horizons. 

References:

wikipedia.org/Macmillan Pic.

googleimages/stir.ac.uk/Pic.

 

 

 

21st July 1948. Staff of Life.

Cereals appeared in the Neolithic Period, a term given by Gordon Childe to describe  the age of tilling, herding and farming, an agriculture said to have developed independently in Mesopotamia (wheat) and Mexico (Maize) in c 7000 BCE.(1)

Diversification based on the environment saw rye and oats becoming the main crops displacing wheat in northern Europe.

Cereals made into bread, became a staple of diet, but didn’t stop its rationing, along with flour, post World-War II, so there was a sigh of relief Today in 1948 when it was announced by Food Minister, John Strachey, that rationing would end at the week-end.(2)

It was in June 1946 when it was announced in the Commons that bread and flour were to be rationed for the first time ever, to come in on 21st July, owing to the government over-reacting to a temporary fall in grain supplies.(3)

Not surprisingly there was a roar of applause from the Government benches and according to reports, ‘Mr. Churchill sat up alertly, as he had been against bread rationing‘

All restrictions on bread were also withdrawn in restaurants, where notices advised customers not to ask for extra bread. However it was stressed that bread and flour should not be used to feed animals and poultry, and the purchase of more than 28lb of flour at a time would be discouraged.

However in order to save on wheat, most of which was imported in the early days of the War, the extraction rate of flour was raided to produce the more nutritious, but widely disliked, wholemeal ‘National Loaf’.

BRA33258 The Dole, c.1868 by Lobley, James (1829-88)
oil on canvas
50×71
© Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, West Yorkshire, UK
English, out of copyright

‘The Dole’ by James Lobley (1829-88) shows a romantically crumbling Lincolnshire church with the bread ceremoniously dumped on the font, being distributed. Bread dole was to be ‘given out to the poor in perpetuity’, as many church memorials record.

(1) Barley, emmer wheat, corn, rice and sorghum (still account for half the calories we consume) a tiny fraction of the 8,000 species of grass. The other food grasses are bamboo and sugar cane.

(2) Strachey according to Punch Magazine, July 1948, ‘Impressions of Parliament’ feature, entered and ‘the Commons had an air of suppressed excitement’.

(3) 27th June 1946.

References:

myprints. the-dole./Pic.

20th July 1951. Right to Flog.

Early in the 19th century radical Thomas Paine was imprisoned and fined £1.000 for publicly criticising the flogging of Militiamen which was later outlawed in the 1879 Cardwell Reforms.

Today in 1951 a memo was issued by the Prison Commission of Dean Ryle Street, London, signed by Controller, F.S. Collins, which referred in clinical terms to unused birches and cat-o’-nine tails, ‘which should be returned immediately to Wandsworth Prison if unused’.

It went on, ‘used ones should be destroyed in accordance with SO Appendix 8. All birches and ‘cats’ were only to be used from the national stock which should be tested and would be issued in triplicate’.

One hundred years before in October 1853 saw the introduction of Circular 131 of the Royal Navy which introduced summary flogging with a ‘reduced cat’ on naked posterior, and for the most serious cases, flogging after a Court Martial, and many was the sailor who ‘kissed the gunner’s daughter’, by being spread-eagled over a cannon.(1)

By 1860, the ‘cat’ was abolished for boys, only to be substituted by the birch, and any under 19 found skulking were ‘sharpened-up’ with the ‘stonnacky’ or the ‘Bosun’s Cane’.(2)

Caning on the Junior Training Ship, HMS Ganges was only abolished in 1970, but still in operation until 1967, the only form of punishment remaining in the armed-forces.

Drawing from the Boys’ House Magazine. Note Chaplain in attendance.

The Bill to abolish civil, judicial corporal punishment had been introduced in September 1948.

The army witnessed the notorious case in 1846 of Private John White of Hounslow Barracks who had died after receiving 150 lashes, which helped to spur efforts at reform.

The original coroner’s jury after hearing evidence from a military surgeon found that White had died from natural causes.

However William Wakley, the medical crusader, coroner of Middlesex, managed to get the original verdict over-turned.

The Penny Illustrated Paper reported that in 1860 the punishment had been administered to 180 soldiers with a total of 1976 lashes, the main crimes being ‘desertion, insubordination and something called disgraceful conduct’. (3)

Flogging in the Army was abolished in 1881 and replaced by Field Punishment No 1, which saw the prisoner attached to a fixed object for up to two hours a day, and repeated according to the level of punishment.

Only in 1929 was the death penalty abolished in the army, too late for those executed in WWI for ‘cowardice’.

In 2006 there was a blanket pardon for all soldiers executed in WWI, irrespective of merit, which draws a line under, which to modern eyes, seems a brutal past. 

(1) On 7th October 1853.

(2) Flogging was suspended in the Navy in peacetime in 1871 and in 1879 in wartime.

(3) London, Saturday March 1st 1862 p.139 Issue 21.

References:

corporun.com/Pics

bluejacket.com.sea-service_discipline./Pic.

 

19th July 1822. Flagrante delicti.

A rare record of transvestism and homosexuality from late Medieval England is revealed in 1395, when in the presence of John Fresh, Mayor and the Aldermen of the City of London that, ‘John Britby of the County of York and John Rykener calling himself Eleanor having been detected in woman’s clothes….[having] committed that unmentionable and ignoble vice’. (sic)

500 years later immorality was still in vogue as Today a Friday in 1822, Percy Jocelyn, the Anglican Bishop of Clogher, whose stipend was the then princely sum of  £20,000, and guardsman John Moverley, went to the White Lion Public House St Alban’s Place in the Haymarket, London, and there in a back room were found flagrante delicti.

Cartoon by Cruickshank of Bishop of Clogher and the soldier, a case which inspired cartoons, pamphlets and limericks.

The good bishop originally a member of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, had also revived an earlier society for the reformation of manners, was eventually deposed.

He spent the rest of his days abroad avoiding justice, and living as a menial in Edinburgh, ending his days in Ireland, with the dubious accreditation of being the most senior churchman in the 19thc to be so convicted.

Acts of immorality were dealt with by Ecclesiastical Courts until Henry VIII’s 1533 ‘Acte for the Punishment of Buggerie’. The Act was replaced by the Offences Against the Person Act 1828, but continued to be a capital offence. (1)

The later 1885 Act was called the ‘Blackmailers’ Charter’; ten years later Oscar Wilde brought an action for criminal libel against Lord Queensbury (Sholto-Douglas), who had publicly accused the writer of ‘posing [as a] somdomite’. (sic).

It arose because Queensbury was angered by Wilde’s relations with his son, Lord Alfred Douglas. As witnesses showed that Wilde had been involved in such activities, he lost his case was bankrupted and died penniless in Paris.

Queensbury who planned to disrupt the performance of Wilde’s, ‘Importance of Being Ernest’, by throwing a bouquet of rotten vegetables on the opening night at the St James’ Theatre in February 1895, continued to harass Wilde, who launched a private prosecution for criminal libel. However the trials and notoriety saw the play end a year later.(2)

Even as late as the early 1950.s homosexuals were persecuted: the scientist, Alan Turing was chemically castrated, later to commit suicide, whilst Lord Montague suffered imprisonment.

The 1885 Act was repealed in part by the Sexual Offences Act 1967 when homosexuality was decriminalised.

History repeated itself in the second decade of the new Millennium when the Bishop of Gloucester was jailed for historic offences against juveniles, whilst the Catholic Church was embroiled in multiple cases concerning senior clerics.

(1) 25 Henry 8c 6.

(2) Opening night on 14th February 1895.

The arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogen Hotel was made into a poem by John Betjeman. Wilde was convicted for two years with hard-labour in Reading Gaol.

References:

wikipedia.org/act-1533/Pic.

A.H. Thomas’ Calendar of Common Pleas in 3 volumes of London 1381-1412. CUP. 1924-32 is the standard reference with a massive amount of information.

For the Rykener case he recorded the minimal example of 2 men charged with immorality one of which implicated several persons male and female of religious orders (p228).

The above to avoid copyright law, the authors had to transcribe from the original document and then translate into modern English from the Latin.

 

18th July 1635. Robert Hooke, Jack of all Trades and Master of Many.

No authenticated portrait survives of the scientist Robert Hooke, though John Aubrey left a verbal  description: ‘he was of middling stature, something crooked, pale-faced…but his head is large, his eye full and popping, and not quick…and a delicate head of hair…’

However what he lacked in looks he made up for in intellect as he was a true Renaissance Man: biologist, physicist, chemist, astronomer and designer and constructor of scientific instruments; irascible he had constant battles with Isaac Newton whom he said had claimed his ideas.

Today saw the birth at Freshwater, Isle of Wight of Robert Hooke in 1635 and when 30 years later his Micrographia was published, Samuel Pepys called it the ‘most ingenious book that I ever read in my life’.

Hooke’s Microscope.

It featured drawings of his observations under a microscope alongside verbal descriptions. ‘By the means of telescopes there is nothing so far distant but may be represented to our view; and by the help of microscopes there is nothing so small, as to escape our enquiry’.

The book was published by the recently formed Royal Society where Hooke served as the Curator of Experiments, but much of the knowledge of his life comes from his friend John Aubrey, a fellow founder of the Society.

He recorded that when Hooke was a schoolboy he had invented 30 different ways of flying, with Hooke remarking that,’contemplation must be postponed for a more convenient time’.

Hooke’s drawing of a flea.

Hooke did much work on colour and put pigments and compounds under the microscope trying to understand the relationship between colours we see, and the external world; work which was to conflict with Newton’s work.

Diagram of louse.

Hooke saw his work as collaborative and part of the pioneering generation helping to further the experimental and empirical science set down by Francis Bacon and Lord Verulam (Viscount St. Alban), of the previous century.

However Hooke was aware of the possibility that his work would be appropriated by others and his originality obscured, no doubt having Newton in mind.

Hooke, whose work on gravity mirrored Newton’s, is also known for his Law on Tension and measurement of time, died on 3rd March 1703 in pitiful circumstances. His health had declined and he was found in his room at Gresham College, living miserly in lice-ridden rags: a chest in the room contained coins valued at £1m in today’s value.

References:

wikipedia.org/Pics.

famousscientists.org/robert-hooke.

historytoday.com.Vol 53.Issue 1. March 2003. Richard Cavendish.