Thursday, 16 May 2019

A Mercantile Family's Correspondence 1743-1866

In September 2018, papers relating to the Terry family of Hull were deposited with Hull History Centre.

The papers consist of a large quantity of correspondence which has the potential to reveal a great deal about the religious development of the Hull area and beyond during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It could also be useful in telling us more about merchant family relationships in Hull as well as helping to shed light on the many battles for social reform and philanthropic causes that took place during this time, including William Wilberforce’s campaign to end slavery. The correspondence makes a fascinating read and has now been catalogued under the reference C DFTF. Additionally, the depositor created transcriptions of the correspondence, copies which are available in our search room [C SRL/T/46].

The Terry family were merchants. Richard Terry (c.1740-1804) was a Hull shipowner. His company ‘Richard Terry & Sons’, traded primarily with the Baltic and Russia importing timber. He was also an Evangelical Anglican. A Methodist sympathiser, he was a devotee of John Wesley, who visited Richard’s Hull home at Newland several times and once even preached in his garden. Richard married Anne Avison in in 1767.

One of Richard and Anne's sons was Avison Terry, another merchant and ship owner who served Hull twice as Mayor (1827, 1829) and once as Sheriff (1813). He was the person responsible for raising £1,110 by public subscription for the building of St. John's Church, Newland. The Church was consecrated by the Archbishop of York on 23rd September 1833.

Newland Parish Church, Hull [L RH/3/315]

Ann Terry’s brother was William Charles Avison (1746-1821), another Baltic trader who spent most of his working life in Baltic ports, mainly Narva (Russia) and Elsinore (Denmark). From the correspondence it is clear that he was in close business contact with Richard Terry. However there had been a short period when the suitability of Richard as a husband for Ann was in doubt. Some of the letters make astonishing reading and are certainly good examples of what women faced when they dared to marry someone whom their family and friends deemed unsuitable!

Other letters in the collection are from members of the Stillingfleet family. Rev. James Stillingfleet [1741-1826], a noted evangelical, attended Oxford University and became a Master of Arts and fellow of Merton College. He was ordained as a deacon in 1764 and as a priest in 1766. He became rector of Hotham in 1771, where he remained for nearly 56 years until his death. One of his closest friends was the Rev. Joseph Milner headmaster of Hull Grammar School, himself a prominent evangelical and historian.

Another contributor is John Thornton of Clapham, London (1720-1790). He was a merchant involved in the Baltic trades and Russia and an early patron of the evangelical movement in Britain. Some sources suggest that John Thornton was the second richest man in Europe. He traveled extensively and spent most of his fortune on promoting the Evangelical movement and buying up parish patronages so that they could install evangelical priests thus contributing to churches in many different parts of the country. Some correspondence is between John Thornton and Richard Terry and relates to the churches in and around Hull, including Cottingham. During this period the mainstream Church of England was in a parlous state with much corruption and absentee clergymen claiming their salaries.

John Thornton married Lucy Watson in 1753. Their sons; Henry, Samuel and Robert all became Members of Parliament and members of the Clapham Sect of evangelical reformers determined to reform the established church. The Clapham Sect was led by Rev. Henry Venn, curate at Holy Trinity, Clapham Common. The Thornton brothers, close friends and cousins of William Wilberforce, were also associated with the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade and many other campaigns for social reform and philanthropic causes, as were the Terry and the Stillingfleet families.

Portrait of William Wilberforce, 1836 [L DFWW/3/1]

This is a fantastic collection and we are really happy to be able to promote it as a valuable historical research resource. As a hitherto undiscovered collection, the research value is huge and would make a fantastic project for any student of history.

Anyone wishing to learn more about this collection can visit us at the History Centre. For visiting information please see our website. A full descriptive catalogue is available to view in paper format in the searchroom and will shortly be available through the online catalogue.

Elspeth Bower, Archivist Librarian (Hull City Archives)

Friday, 10 May 2019

Unlocking the Treasures Project

When processing the Methodist Sunday School Union Hymn Book [L.245], I was struck by the ornate front cover which was embossed with “Crowned E R June 26th 1902”. Pasted inside the book there is a printed certificate showing that it was presented by the Brunswick Wesleyan Sunday School, Hull to Olive Hawes as a memento of the Coronation of His Majesty King Edward VII, June 26th 1902 from the officers of the school. The 26th June is crossed through and “Aug 9” is written over it in pen.

Edward VII was 59 when he became King on 22 January 1901, on the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.  His coronation was set for 26 June 1902 [hence the embossed date on the front cover and printed certificate] but only two days before hand the King was forced to postpone it until 9th August of the same year owing to an attack of appendicitis which required an emergency operation. 

After all the loving care put into the front cover, I am pleased that the Sunday School Officers decided to go ahead and give out the hymnal as it was – although I suspect the cost of rebinding the cover was the overriding consideration since the printed certificate would indicate that a copy of the hymnal was presented to many [if not all] of the children in the Brunswick Wesleyan Sunday School.

It also serves as a timely reminder that not everything in print is accurate!

Caoimhe West, Reader Assistant, Unlocking the Treasures Project

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Volunteering for peace in the aftermath of the Second World War

The IVSP logo

One of the collections currently being catalogued here at the History Centre is the records of the International Voluntary Service, formerly the International Voluntary Service for Peace, which is the British branch of an organisation called Service Civil International. Above is the IVSP logo, a shovel over a background of a broken sword, with the slogan “Pick and shovel peacemaking” – a reference to the organisation’s founding idea that useful physical work carried out by volunteers from many countries could contribute to international peace.

One of the most interesting parts of the collection is a section about relief work the IVSP took part in from 1944 until 1949 before and after the end of the Second World War. This section contains minutes and reports, but also contains some personal letters and photos. Most of the reports relate to Units 1 and 2, which went to Greece and Crete, and Units 4, 5 and 7, which went to Germany and the Netherlands.

IVSP Unit 4, taken just before leaving London
IVSP Unit 4 left London for the Netherlands in April 1945, and they were there for about three months before being moved into Brunswick, Germany, just a few miles from the border with the Russian zone of occupation. 

A report by Unit 4, July 1945

After several months working with Polish displaced persons awaiting repatriation, in September 1946 the unit was moved to northern Schleswig Holstein, not far from Denmark. Here the volunteers assisted in the coordination of refugees from former eastern German territories which had been ceded to Poland. Ethnic Germans had been expelled from these areas in huge numbers. They were assigned to the occupied zones in Germany, with around 1.5 million being assigned to the British zone. They were ordered to be billeted on the local population, in an attempt to quickly assimilate them, which did not work as there were simply too many people to accommodate.

In December 1946, the conditions reported by the IVSP team were poor. Huge numbers of displaced Germans had arrived, but there was simply nowhere for them to go, so most were living in camps. In the better camps the large rooms had been partitioned to allow each family a small room of their own, but in the worse ones five or six families would be sharing a room. There was no electric lighting as, although there was electricity, there were no lightbulbs. The roofs almost universally leaked, as there was no tar or felt to be found.

The Unit’s area was the northern part of the province, and they reported that in their initial survey of the district they had seen over 200 camps containing a total population of some 40,000 refugees. They were trying to help the refugees help themselves and “avoid falling into apathy and despair”, as they reported: “This is our aim in establishing camp workshops, where the refugees can make themselves pots and pans from old food tins and from scrap metal which we have scrounged from dumps and aerodromes. Old tyres are good for shoe repairing, bits of wood are turned into beds… Toys made from driftwood are being kept for Christmas…”

A few months later, in March 1947, conditions had deteriorated further. The winter had been cold – it was still snowing – and there was almost no fuel for heating the camps.

Food was also in short supply and the unit was trying to supplement the camp rations, as they reported, “With supplies obtained from Red Cross stores and sent by friends in England, we have been able to extend our child feeding schemes which are now in full swing in 91 out of our total of 185 camps. Our stocks will still only run to feeding ten out of every hundred children and the local doctor has considerable difficulty in selecting those most in need of extra nourishment. A hot drink provided every other day consists either of thick soup containing dried vegetables and meat extract, or of cocoa and dried milk, with margarine or jam to spread on their own bread ration, and in addition half a bar of chocolate or a Horlicks tablet on the alternating days.”

Despite the conditions, the unit members were still committed to IVSP values. The unit leader wrote, “I do not think we should consider our presence in Germany entirely justified if our job consisted solely of ministering to the material needs of the refugees. It has become obvious at our fortnightly International Discussion Group meetings that young Germans are tired of talking and are wanting something practical to do… Discussion Group meetings, for which we have secured speakers on subjects such as “A Comparison of the German and English Social Insurance Legislation”, “The Ideals of Youth” and “English and German Manners and Customs” are always packed to overflowing and there is no shyness or hesitation at expressing frank opinions.”

IVSP personnel in Germany, 1947

The work of unit 4 continued in Schleswig throughout 1947, as conditions continued to be difficult and food shortages carried on into 1948. The IVSP units were now making more progress beyond just relief. In the summer of 1948 they had started a pen-friend scheme for 14-22-year-olds, and there were 66 Germans corresponding with British young people. They reported back to headquarters, “More directly we help the German branch of Service Civil International… We have two very keen groups meeting weekly… and a third meeting occasionally… The group programmes are mainly concerned with the deepening of international understanding through the discussion of mutual problems, hearing guest speakers from other countries when such opportunities occur, and through international workcamps.”

By late 1948 it was clear that IVSP’s role in providing civilian relief had come to an end. Their ongoing projects were passed over to the West German branch of Service Civil International, which the units had helped to get on its feet, and the last IVSP team left the country in early 1949.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Publishing, Printing and Authors

We are now two months in to the 2.5 year Unlocking the Treasures project, and at present almost one thousand books have been catalogued and are now available to search using the Hull Libraries online catalogue. Previous to this very few of these books were available to search using the libraries online catalogue. A large number of these books relate to local authors [Ref: L.001] together with books published or printed in Hull and the surrounding area, including Beverley or Hedon [Ref: L.003-L.009].

During the cataloguing process it was surprising to see the number of books published or printed in Hull especially as we think of London, Oxford and Cambridge at the centre of printing and the publishing of literature. Hull was not alone, however. Beverley and Hedon, and indeed other towns and cities around the United Kingdom were printing and publishing books.

Eleven Sermons, by Daniel Rowland – printed and
published by T. Briggs of Hull in 1788. Ref: L.003 BRI
The History Centre has some excellent examples of early Hull printing. These include T. Briggs, whose premises were on Church Lane and Innes & Gray with premises in Whitehorse Yard in the latter half of the 18th century. Printing, driven by the greater efficiency through industrialisation, expanded and with it printed material became cheaper and more widely available. 

The nineteenth century saw a dramatic increase in the number of printers in Hull. In 1851 at least 20 printers were present in Hull, but by end of the century this number had increased threefold to 80.

One of the earliest books in among our holdings is John Clarke’s An essay upon education shewing how Latin and Greek, published in 1711 [Ref: L.001 CLA]. Clarke became the Master of the Hull’s Grammar School, and it is possible that this book would be familiar to pupils at Hull’s Grammar School.

Captain Luke Foxe's account of his voyage to the 
North West Passage - printed in 1635. Ref: L.001 FOX
An even earlier book in the History Centre’s holding is that by Captain Luke Foxe of Kingston upon Hull [b.1586-d.1635]. As an explorer, Foxe sought to seek out the elusive North West Passage. 

Unfortunately Foxe never found the passage, and it was not until the early 20th century that this passage was eventually traversed. He did, however, leave his mark with the Foxe Basin and Peninsular named after him. 

You can, read the account of Captain Luke Foxe voyage at the History Centre [Ref: North-West or Fox from the North-west passage, L.001 FOX].

Portrait of William Andrews, from The F.O.S 
Portrait Gallery, publication unknown, 1903 
Of all the authors William Andrews has to be one of the most prolific. A native of Kirkby Woodhouse, William Andrews spent 30 years of his life in Hull. A distinguished antiquarian, he played a major role in all things connected with literary life in the city and beyond. He wrote articles and volumes, especially the bygone ecclesiastical customs and curiosities, (of which copies are available at the History Centre, Ref: L.001 AND). 

He was the founder and secretary of the Hull Literary Society, the originator of the East Riding Antiquarian Society and Vice-President of the Northern Counties Library Association. Added to this he was a member of the Yorkshire Dialect Society and founded the Hull Press, which had its office in Dock Street. It was here where a large number of books and antiquarian material was published and printed. 

He was later appointed as Librarian to the Hull Subscription Library where his knowledge of literature was of great assistance to the library. William Andrews died in 1908 but many of his local works can be found among the Local Studies books here at the Hull History Centre.

Don’t forget to keep checking the blog as the project progresses. And remember new books are added almost daily and can be searched using the Hull Libraries online catalogue. (the newly catalogued material will also appear on the History Centre online catalogue when the next update is processed). Searches can search by subject, author, or under the class number. You can even narrow your search to a specific publication date and library.

Happy searching!

Neil Chadwick
Project Officer, Unlocking the Treasures