22nd December 1737. Quacks and Bone-Setters.

Manipulation of joint problems and fractures has been the concern of bone-setters going back to antiquity.

The dissolution of the monasteries in the 16thc released into the community many nuns and monks versed in the primitive medicine of the time notable among these being the bone-setters.

Later the art and mystery of bone-setting became associated with certain families such as the Matthews of the Midlands and Taylors of Whitworth who passed on their skills to offspring as with Mrs (‘Crazy-Sal’) Mapp the celebrated bone-setter who learned her craft from her father, becoming in the process well renowned in 18th London and nearby.

However later according to a description of the day, ‘she became so miserably poor that the parish was obliged to bury her’, according to the London Daily Post dated 22nd December 1737. ‘She was the subject of a melancholy obituary notice and who for a time had been the object of popular wonder and enthusiasm’.(1)

Thus the death of a country bone setter who had settled at Epsom, Surrey received widespread coverage after a wonder-working career, ‘noted more for her boldness and strength than skill’.

She had married, according to the Grub Street Journal, a mercer’s servant on the 19th April 1736 who ran away from her ‘taking 100 guineas upwards’.

Working from the Grecian Coffee House, where a number of physicians and quacks operated,  when coming in from Epsom, she travelled in style in coach and four and was once mistaken as a mistress of George II.

A shield showing a group of physicians with Mapp at the top portrayed as ugly to discredit her. It is described as a Company of Undertakers.

Her fame was sealed when she was supposedly cured Sir Hans Sloane’s niece and a play in her honour was presented at the Lincoln Inn Field’s Theatre called The Husband’s Relief or The Female Bone-Setter.

Mapp was present on the first night accompanied by two quacks: Ward the Worm Doctor and Taylor the Oculist and her presence at the theatre had the effect of boosting attendance.

She later removed to Pall Mall but didn’t forget her country friends and gave a 10 guineas for a plate at Epsom Races.

Mapp was cheaper than the licensed physicians and their status was enhanced by the Apothecaries Act of 1815 which enabled them to take courses as the physicians which enabled bone-setters to increase their standing thus increasing their medical proficiency and competence and an interest in joint and bone surgery, instruments and tools.

However as the 18thc progressed there was a increasing campaign against the quacks which adversely affected Sally Mapp’s business and with falling income she fell  from public favour and died in penury.

In the modern world bone-setting operates under various names as osteopaths, chiropractors whose skills were acknowledged in 1993 in professional status.

It was rightly said that the main difference, as medical science progressed, was that the quacks manipulated all deformity, but physicians were to learn that many deformities especially in the spine resulted from for example, tuberculosis which caused humps on the spine which bone-setting techniques would have been injurious.

(1) Chambers Book of Days. c1880.






19th December 1851. J.M.W.Turner.

Today in 1851 Joseph Mallord William Turner, romantic painter died aged 76 later to be buried at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Turner-self-portrait c 1799.


Turner was born in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London and was to make his name for imaginative landscapes and turbulent, violent marine paintings.

He was an intensively private, eccentric and later reclusive person who in his life produced 550 oils and 2000 water colours.

House where Turner was born. c1850.

Raby Castle, seat of the earl of Darlington. 1817. Oil on Canvas.

Rain, Steam and Speed. Great Western 1844.
Oil on canvas. National Gallery.

Turner was championed by the leading art critic John Ruskin from 1840 and was regarded as elevating landscape painting to an eminence which has never been surpassed.

References in public domain including wikipedia. org.

Ingleborough from Chapel le Dale. c1810-15. Water colour on paper. Yale Center for British Art.

Clare Hall and west  end of Kings College, Cambridge and Chapel 1793 . Water colour on paper.




18th December 2012. Fall of a Comet.

Today in 2012 Comet Retail supplier of white goods, telecommunications and home entertainment became dufunct; the company had been founded January 1933 in Hull.

Comet was acquired by private equity company OpCapita earlier in 2012 along with other failing companies: Game (videos) and furniture retailer (MFI) in 2006.

Another significant ‘investment’ for OpCapita was the acquisition from Sportech, of their football division, which in 2000 had acquired Littlewood’s Pools and eventually the other major ‘Pools’ players Zetters and Vernons, all of which had suffered from the competition of the National Lottery.

The collapse of Comet raised serious questions about Henry Jackson the ex-banker who had founded OpCapita and who proved skilful in pinpointing companies which offereded returns even if they didn’t survive.

At the time private equity company said it would ensure Comet was to be run as a going concern for at least 18 months: it never happened, and so was responsible for sending another business into Administration.

It was in 2006 when OpCapita, in a debut move, saw failing MFI acquired for £1, backed by the US Hedge Fund Cerberus and Goldman Sachs; in 2 years MFI had crashed with debts of £145m which Jackson described as, ‘a success story for investers’.

In fact insolvency documents showed Jackson and his investors were ‘secured lenders’ who received preferential treatment in the collapse; Goldman Sachs came away with the biggest cheque in the placing into Administration, whilst Jackson (ex-Merchant Equity Partners) received £3.2m.

MFI had left Jackson with a dowry of £60.6m and with £51.9m of customers’ deposits. Then MFI saw part of its vital Customer Credit Insurance withdrawn. Jackson off-loaded the Company to management, in months it was in Administration. Capitalism par-excellence.




thetelegraph.org. 1.11.2012. Helia Ebrahime. Comet: Another OpCapital Kiss of Death.

17th December 1939. A Failed Raid.

At 3pm on 17th December, 1939, 3 Group’s AOC Air Vice Marshall, John ‘Jackie’ Baldwin telephoned Air Commodore Bottomley at Bomber Command HQ at High Wycombe to urge further operations against the German fleet to follow the attacks on 4th September and 3rd and 12th December.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt agreed to mount an attack on Wilhelmshaven the next day subject to a proviso that the Wellingtons bombed from at least 10,000 ft taking them above flak.

Twenty-four Wellingtons took part, nine from 149 Squadron at Mildenhall, nine from 9 Squadron at Honington and six from 37 Squadron at Feltwell, their task being to attack enemy ships in the Schillig Roads or Wilhelmshaven.(1)

The directive ordered that, ‘Great care to be taken that no bombs fall on shore and no merchant ships to be attacked. Formations shall not loiter in the target area, and all aircraft are to complete bombing as soon as possible’.

Before dawn a Whitley of 4 Group from 78 squadron Dishforth, had flown out and approached Heligoland and signalled a favourable weather report, the raid was on.

However it was to prove a disaster as no bombs were dropped, as there was no guarantee that the shore wouldn’t be hit, two turned back, one just misread instructions and followed the damaged plane to return and of the others ten returned.

Poor leadership and poor formation flying were blamed and it was accepted that the Wellingtons needed beam guns and self-sealing tanks. The 1939 disastrous operation against Wilhelmshaven by the RAF was a raid, which had been conceived months before the war by the Air Ministry’s Directorate of Plans.

It called for the bombing of the German Fleet in or around its base there. While the Government shrank from assaulting German industry, it seized the plan to be carried out by Bomber Command Western Air Plan 7B, as it was thought the Navy was a legitimate target surrounded by water and therefore safe from civilian damage.

The raid saw a beginning of the confrontation between theory and practice, which would dominate Bomber Command’s long campaign and many had joined the RAF in the mid 1930s before the era of 350mph cannon fighters.

There was reluctance to believe the Germans had radar technology, but in reality at about the same time as the German coast had been sited fifty miles ahead our unescorted planes were thus picked off by Luftwaffe’s Freya radar stations among the sand dunes of the offshore island of Wangerooge and by the radar station at Heligoland.

So fifty-three doomed men were granted an hour extra of life because the Germans couldn’t believe the RAF would flaunt itself on a brilliant winter’s day that promised only massacre.

(1) Pre-war, the backbone of the bomber squadrons were the Battles, Blenheims, Wellingtons, Whitleys and Hampdens (found to be good at mine laying) being split into 55 squadrons and 6 Groups, a huge improvement on 1938, but all except the Wellington were found to be lacking in the new air scenario.

In the Whitley there was a crew of five: two pilots, a wireless operator, a rear gunner and a navigator (the old classification of observer was abolished). By the end of 1940 a bomb-aimer/ navigator was seen.



16th December 1773. It Was No Tea Party.

The demonstration known to history as the ‘Boston Tea Party’ took place Today in 1773 when the Sons of Liberation against British rule and taxation in America, and with a few dressed as Mohawks, tipped tea into the harbour.

Three ships of Enderby and Sons of Greenwich. had come in from England, the Dartmouth, Eleanor and Beaver, and were riding at anchor carrying 340 tea-chests of the East India Company weighing 90,000 pounds and worth about £9,000, 

1846 lithograph by Nathaniel Currier of the destruction of tea at Boston Harbour.

The export of tea to New England was often made in the vessels of Samuel Enderby and Sons a whaling and sealing company founded c1775. In return the Company despatched much in demand whale oil to England.

One ship for the return cargo at the time of the troubles was the Britannia which had Thomas Melville as captain, whose grandson wrote Moby Dick, in which the Enderby’s are mentioned. There is an Enderby Land in Antarctica where the Enderby Company was involved in whaling.

The import and export of Tea had become big business after it  was made fashionable by Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, an invitation to a ‘dish’ of tea becoming for the rich a treasured social occasion. Samuel Pepys, the diarist recorded drinking a ‘cupp of tee’(sic) for the first time in 1660, the year of the Restoration of the monarchy.

In  1767 Chancellor, Charles Townshend had introduced taxes on the import of Tea along with glass, paper and dyestuffs.

A Tea Act had passed the British Parliament in May 1773 the receipts of which it was thought would help  the payment for defence against the France and for the American Colony’s administration. (1)

In 1784 duty on imported tea to England was cut from 119% to 12.5% thus making it a less exclusive beverage.

The Term ‘Boston Tea Party’ was not used at the time of the tea confiscation and is probably a term introduced by Victorian historians. Also few of the Sons of Liberation were disguised as national Mowhawk Indians: history is full of such false assertions.

Three years later the American War of Independence started in earnest.

(1) The Tea Act was passed on 10th May 1773.





15th December 1969. The Grasshopper Bank.

Today in 1969 was the day appointed by Act of Parliament for the merger of Martins Bank with Barclays. (1)

The Bank’s origins are said to lie in the 16thc and having as its sign the Grasshopper was known as the ‘Grasshopper Bank’.(2)

The Martin Family were early London goldsmiths and in 1558 Richard was elected a liveryman of the Goldsmith’s Company later becoming Master of the Mint and Lord Mayor.

Apostrophe dropped in 1918.

HQ building, Liverpool.







The Bank went through many titles: Martin, Stone and Blackwell and Martin, Stone and Foote before in 1918 being acquired by the Bank of Liverpool (founded in 1831), becoming Bank of Liverpool and Martins and simply Martins in 1928.

Its HQ was in Water Street, Liverpool in a building by Herbert Rowse which opened in 1932 and was considered among the best Classical Revival buildings in the country.

Mobile Banking 1948.

Drive-thru’ banking 1959.





In World War II Martins housed the bulk of English gold from the Bank of England. Women were expected to leave on marriage and up to 1965 men were allowed to marry only when having achieved a certain salary level.

Martin’s was a bank of many innovations with drive-through banks (in Leicester) (1959); cash-machines in 1967 and Epsom (1969) and many of its forms and processes were later adopted by Barclays as being more advanced.

Also between 1958 and 1967 they had in-house banks at Lewis’s Stores, as Lewis’s Bank, and also in Selfridges. Those in Lewis’s were sold to Lloyds in 1967 and set to last until the 1980s.

Martins Bank history gives an insight into how a relatively small bank can be a leader in innovation but can still finally be swallowed by a larger one.

(1) In 1968 the Monopolies Commission vetoed a merger between Lloyds, Barclays and Martins.

(2) The Logo has been associated with Sir Thomas Gresham the Tudor financier who also had a grasshopper sign but showing a different crest.







14th December 1264. Early Parliament.

The double root of the English parliament goes back to the Anglo-Saxon Witan and the Anglo-Norman Magnum Concilium and by the 1240s development of the notion of a king in parliament is seen. 

Henry III. Westminster Abbey c 1272

Thus kingship had changed from the days of a be-crowned Conqueror meeting his magnates and foreign ambassadors in the King’s Council at Winchester, Westminster and Gloucester over the Easter, Whitsuntide and Christmas periods.

The first recorded use of word ‘parliament’, by Henry III, was at Merton Augustinian Priory Surrey in 1236. It resulted in the first Statute that of Merton allowing the Lords of the Manor to enclose Common Land, provided that pasture was left for tenants.

Parliament meeting on 27th January 1254 was the earliest recorded of Knights being summoned as representatives of individual counties along with the attendance of the lower clergy. Ominously it was notable by Simon de Montfort’s opposition to the King’s demand for a subsidy.(1)

1254 saw two parliaments reflecting a need for money after the King had departed the previous year to Gascony to combat the threat by Alfonso X of Castile, leaving the kingdom in the hands of his wife Eleanor of Provence, and his brother Richard of Cornwall, soon to be exiled to France.

Ten years later, in December, with the threat of invasion from Eleanor supported by the French king Louis, a parliament was summoned Today by someone other than the king, namely the rebel Simon de Montfort, in year when England came nearest to the abolition of the Monarchy before the Commonwealth Period 1649-60.

de Montfort. Clock Tower, Leicester.

However the date gave little time for attendees as the de Montfort parliament met on the 20th of the following month.  Held at Westminster Hall, London it can be construed as the first gathering to be defined as a parliament we might todayrecognise. It was set to continue until mid-March.

It comprised two knights from the shires and two burgesses from the boroughs, elected locally, who now joined barons, bishops and abbots of the Great Council and dictated by the Earl of Leicester, de Montfort’s need for financial and military support.The presence of these newcomers was required primarily to consent to taxation.

The Earl of Leicester whose star was once in the ascendancy was to meet his Nemesis a year after his parliament at the Battle of Evesham; monarchy had survived.


(1) The Parliament was summoned on 14th December 1253 and not dissolved until 15th February 1254 and proceedings were reported to Henry in a letter of 14th February 1254.



English Parliaments in Middle Ages. MUP. Holt 1999.