750 years ago this month, a historic event unfolded as Parliament convened for the first time in Westminster Hall. The catalyst behind this gathering was Simon de Montfort, a courageous leader who had boldly called for its assembly, defying the need for prior royal approval. Faced with the abandonment of the nobles, de Montfort sought to fortify his own influence by summoning representatives from the gentry class. These individuals would come to be known as 'the Commons,' embodying a united 'community of the realm.' Although tragedy struck when de Montfort lost his life at the Battle of Evesham later that same year, his vision of a regular parliament persevered.
I would really appreciate some help with my 'brick wall’. My great-x2-grandfather was Jesse Colgrave Simpson, born 1834, the son of Robert and Mary Simpson. Jesse went on to live a very eventful life, most of which I have been able to trace via census and BMD records. His baptism was on 9 June 1833 in Turkdean, Gloucestershire. The 1851 census shows him living with his parents and older brother, Thomas, and described as “farmer’s son employed on farm". In 1854 he married Elizabeth Talbot in Bath – occupation farmer. In 1856 an account in Jackson’s Oxford Journal has him as defendant in a court case about a dead horse.
Afew minutes’ walk from the top of Dublin’s Grafton Street is Bishop Street. The buildings of the Dublin Institute of Technology and the National Archives dominate much of the street, and preserved in the college’s modern façade are two pieces of old stone, each incised with the words ‘W. & R. JACOB & Co.’. The buildings stand on the site of the Jacob’s biscuit factory, famous in many countries for its fig rolls and cream crackers, and in Ireland at least for being an important rebel garrison during the Easter Rising of 1916.
While working on a book about researching sporting ancestors a couple of years ago, I knew I’d have to differentiate between those who played sport for fun and those who played for money. It wasn’t easy. Even a definition of sport itself caused a problem as there were people around in the Victorian period who considered sport to consist of chasing a quarry while what we consider to be sports today were noted down as mere 'pastimes’.
Summer 2014 saw cycling mania take to the streets of England as thousands of spectators cheered on the hardy riders when the Tour de France’s Grand Départ came to town. Many of the towns, and chocolate-box villages, lay in the heart of Yorkshire, England’s largest county. But very few, if any, of the gathered masses would have heard of a champion cyclist of the 19th century; a product of one of Yorkshire’s countless former mining communities. A working-class hero to his fellow colliers, he led a turbulent life and went by the name of Elijah Scott, the Darfield Flier.
I have spent many thousands of hours over the last 40 years in Sheffield Archives reading and making notes from the archives of a number of local landed estates, principally those of the Duke of Norfolk (the Arundel Castle Manuscripts (ACM)), Earl Fitzwilliam (the Wentworth Woodhouse Muniments (WWM)) and the Earl of Wharncliffe (the Wharncliffe Muniments (WM)), and of various families of the non-aristocratic landed gentry such as the Spencer-Stanhopes of Cannon Hall. This has led to many books and articles, and even an invitation to research the family history of Graham Norton for BBC 1’s Who Do You Think You Are? – his ancestors were migrants from South Yorkshire to Ireland. Using the Wentworth Woodhouse Muniments it was possible to pinpoint exactly which cottage his earliest Irish ancestor had inhabited in the early 18th century in the town of Carnew in County Wicklow.
The origins of British rule in India lie with the East India Company, a British trading company that operated from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The EIC received a Royal Charter in 1600, from Elizabeth I, was owned by wealthy often mercantile or aristocratic shareholders, and was not dissolved until 1874. Although it was originally founded to trade with the East Indies, its domain expanded to include the Indian subcontinent and areas of China.
The warm hand-covering termed a muff probably evolved gradually from the winter fur sleeves first recorded in Roman times. Sheepskin hand coverings were issued to monks by the ninth century and during the Middle Ages the words muffulae (Medieval Latin), moufle (Old French: thick glove or mitten) and English muff were in circulation. Engravings of high-ranking Englishwomen dating to 1567 and 1588 each depict a small muff suspended on a chain from the girdle, although muffs did not become significant dress items until the 17th century.
During WW1, Britain’s Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) fought alongside one another in the greatest conflict mankind had ever experienced. This period was also one of dramatic technological advances, in which both air arms made significant contributions to the development of air interception and strategic bombing. The RFC and RNAS were the precursors of arguably the finest, most efficient, and certainly the oldest, independent air arm in the world – the Royal Air Force.
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