Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Old Documents


I love researching. I love old documents - not that I often get to see the like of the one in the above picture though. Today I spent the morning at the County Records Office, where I started off researching one thing, looking through old newspapers from the late 1830s , and ended up jotting down all sorts of obscure bits and pieces too. I started with the Indexes and really MUST go back and look up this enigmatic comment: 26 January 1872: Swansea Police - Thomas Richards of Knelstone, fined 20 shillings or 14 days' imprisonment for riding without reins . . . The mind boggles.

On the 9th November 1839, there was a piece about the shennanigans at the Windsor Fair the previous year, when "the most frightful rows were got up by the Etonians, who proceeded to Windsor, 500 strong, dragged down stalls, seriously maltreated the fair folk, and violently assaulted the Police." Several Masters at the school overheard some boys planning a similar event that year, despite their being banned from the Fair. Dorms and rooms were searched and "several thick clubs . . . . heavily loaded at one end with lead" were discovered and confiscated. Even so, about 26 boys were caught at the fair, and publicly flogged next day, using the personal rods each boy possessed "every boy his own rod" - 3 feet long and of birch. They were also downgraded one term.

At the beginning of 1838, The Welshman newspaper carried a short paragraph: "Lately at the parish church of Bettws, near Abergele, Denbighshire, Mr Owen Williams of Llansaintfraid, to Miss Sarah Jones of Bettws. Each party was above 65 years of age. They had courted above 40 years, he having to go and return a distance of 7 miles to see his sweetheart, and the journey he never failed to perform once a week. Thus in the space of 40 years he walked 29,120 miles on love expectations!" One wonders why they delayed so long in tying the knot.

Another small paragraph mentioned the British were very bad at making tea, and often left the brew to stand for too long. A Jesuit from China declared that "to a drachm of tea they (Chinese one assumes) put a pint of water and frequently take the yolks of 2 new laid eggs, and beat them up with as much fine sugar as is sufficient for the tea, and stir them up altogether . . . . ." Urgh!

Mind you, perhaps if folks did make tea that way then they would be in need of Dr John Armstong's Liver Pills or Dr Brandreth's Vegetable Pills (this latter a safe antibilious medicine). Anderson's True Scots Pills for digestion might also be helpful, or a drop of Dicey & Co's True Daffy's Elixir. Coughs and colds were well treated by Bateman's Pectoral Drops, and Marshall's Heal-all was excellent for cuts, scratches and bruises. If all else failed, then Friend In Need Ointment could be relied upon . . .

6 comments:

MammyT said...

Oh, what fun. I do love reading in some of the old catalogs and newspapers. Also, I've read some of the obscure laws which are still standing on the books in some cities and counties of the U.S. -- things like bans against riding a horse on the Sabbath or some such, which have never been taken out of the law books.
Nancy

LBP said...

LOL!! Love those old newspaper articles. Our towns paper publishes a section each Sunday of articles that were in the paper 100 years ago, 50 years ago, 25 years ago, and 10 years ago. It is always so interesting.

Blessings

Linda

Leanne said...

interesting post jennie! ;-)

Leanne x

solsticedreamer said...

hi there~came here via Pixie-dust!
I love this post~i have started my family tree and the most excitement I have is going through the census to see what occupations they had, where they live etc. how lovely to sit in a records office and pour over all that information! lucky you!

solsticedreamer said...

hi there~came here via Pixie-dust!
I love this post~i have started my family tree and the most excitement I have is going through the census to see what occupations they had, where they live etc. how lovely to sit in a records office and pour over all that information! lucky you!

Bovey Belle said...

I research our family history too solsticedreamer - now I have a fascination with Victorian social history (esp. with regard to Ag. Labs!)