On 14 April 1887, the SS State of Nebraska steamship entered the Thames and anchored at Gravesend. At a glance, it appeared to be a fairly ordinary ship – but the Nebraska was carrying a most extraordinary cargo. Its passengers included 176 horses, 16 buffalo, nine elk, a Deadwood stagecoach, materials to construct teepees and log cabins; and a cast of cowboys, sharpshooters, musicians, native Americans and Mexican vaqueros – as well as the legendary figures of Annie Oakley and Colonel William F. Cody, aka Buffalo Bill. The Globe newspaper reported from the scene: ‘The living freight on board the State of Nebraska is probably as curious and certainly as mixed as was ever sent afloat. There stood the Redskins, mute and immovable. Haughty in mien, graceful in manner, picturesque in dress, the Red Indians of the Wild West show and the Last of the Mohicans are one and the same.’ After 14 days at sea – two of which were spent being pummelled by a violent storm – the Americans had come to town. Soon everyone would know of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show – even Queen Victoria.
The origins of the Dicky Bird Society can be traced back to 1876. It was then that ‘Uncle Toby’ first introduced the idea of environmental concern into his ‘Children’s Corner’ in the Chronicle. His main mantra, as the song suggests, was ‘Kindness Everywhere’. ‘How delightful it would be,’ he wrote in his first column, ‘if children would pledge themselves to treat birds and animals with tenderness and affection.’
This month marks the 233rd anniversary of the birth of Sir Robert Peel, who was twice prime minister of the United Kingdom and is credited with being the founder of the Metropolitan Police in London. It was on 5 February 1788 at Chamber Hall in Bury, Lancashire that he was born as the son of a wealthy textile manufacturer and politician, also confusingly named Sir Robert Peel. His father’s industrial background made the younger Robert Peel the first prime minister to have come from such a setting.
Today, 99 Magdalen Road in Cowley, Oxford is a slightly neglected three-storey late Victorian house, in an area that is today popular with the city’s university students. For decades, though, it was home to the Gardner family. Richard Gardner and Elizabeth Ann Matthews had married in 1856, when Richard was 27 and his bride just 17. He was from Kings Sutton, near Banbury, the son of an agricultural labourer; she was from the village of Stanton St John, a few miles outside Oxford. They initially settled in Richard’s home town, where, in 1858, Richard was working as a sergeant of the militia – and presumably this job was why they found themselves living in Dover, Kent in 1860. They then returned to Kings Sutton, before relocating to Oxford by 1871, with the family initially settling near the London Road turnpike gate at Headington Quarry, before moving to Magdalen Road. They were at this property by 1881, and after Richard’s death, Elizabeth continued to live there with various children until her death in 1914. After her own death, her daughter Lucy, and son-in-law George, would stay living at the house.
In February 1889 a man named Richard Pascoe, known locally as ‘Doctor Dick’, was put on trial in Truro, accused of undertaking abortions for two young women. The ‘respectable’ classes keenly wanted to see him convicted, but the working classes felt very differently. Indeed, the common people of the city were so committed to Doctor Dick that vast crowds turned out to cheer him, death threats were sent to a key witness, and a violent mob attacked his enemies in the street. The establishment was horrified — one concerned citizen proclaimed, ‘Few among us had any idea, until these disgraceful scenes, how perverted popular sentiment had become!’
Wool has been part of the human experience for millennia and, discounting animal hides and leather (covered recently in DYA), early felted woollen cloth was the first fabric to be used for clothing. In Britain, sheep’s wool, woollen manufacturing processes and products have been supremely important since the prehistoric era, becoming unrivalled between the 1100s and 1800s. For centuries almost every British town, village and hamlet was involved at some point or other in the rearing of sheep or production of cloth, the development of the woollen industry inextricably linked to the nation’s fortunes throughout history.
TheGenealogist has added to its expanding International Headstone Collection with some interesting and useful new searchable images of gravestones. These enable family historians to see details that have been recorded about their ancestors by the monumental masons in various churches and cemeteries. All the records are fully searchable with transcripts of the inscriptions that help to decipher some of the more weathered memorials.
The region now known as Gloucestershire was originally inhabited by Brythonic peoples (ancestors of the Welsh and other British Celtic peoples) in the Iron Age and Roman periods. In the final quarter of the 6th century, the Saxons of Wessex began to establish control over the area. Gloucestershire probably originated as a shire in the 10th century; towards the close of the 11th century, the boundaries were readjusted to include Winchcombeshire, previously a county by itself, and at the same time the forest district between the Wye and the Severn was added to Gloucestershire.
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