Tuesday, 20 March 2018

This Month in Hull: March

This is the first in a new series of blogs, which we will be posting regularly. The series will highlight some of the city's interesting historical happenings for a given month. So today, Verity launches our 'This Month in Hull' blog with some historical happenings from March 1915/16.  

On 5 March 1916, Hull came under attack from the air. Having failed to reach Scotland because of bad weather, two German zeppelins bombed Hull. The bombs, which included both incendiaries and explosive bombs, fell on the city centre, damaging parts of Paragon Station, Hull Grammar School and Holy Trinity Church. Seventeen people were killed and 52 injured. This, however, was not the first such raid on Hull. The first zeppelin raid had been on the 6 and 7 June 1915 and had resulted in the deaths of 24 people. During the First World War, Hull was bombed on at least 8 separate occasions, the courses of the Humber and River Hull making navigation to the city easy for the zeppelin pilots. 

A Zeppelin visiting the North East Coast, 1915

The raid of 5-6 March was terrifying for the inhabitants of Hull and many first-hand accounts of the devastation wreaked by the bombs were related in the local papers in the days following the attack. Shortly afterwards, details of the inquests held for those who died were also printed in the newspapers. The tragic stories were ones of family members seeing their loved ones killed but also ones of heroic rescue attempts.

Midnight raid on Market Place, Hull, by Zeppelin, 1915

The attack heightened calls for greater air raid defences and the provision of anti-aircraft guns for Hull. Since the first air raids, Hull had established their own warning system, using steam whistles (‘buzzers’) to alert the city’s inhabitants to the imminent threat. The largest buzzer in the country was made in Hull and was known affectionately as ‘Big Lizzie’. The city had also established air raid drills and following the raising of the alarm, 3000 volunteer Special Constables would walk the streets to ensure citizens were adhering to blackout rules. Like the Blitz during the Second World War, messengers, dispatch riders and stretcher bearers were also recruited and first aid stations were created. However, Hull had no means of retaliating against the bombardment and people could only look on helplessly as parts of the city were destroyed and neighbours were killed. Subsequent angry protests, however, quickly led to authorities providing mobile guns and searchlights for Hull’s defence.

Zeppelin damage in Queen Street, Hull, 1916

The attack in March 1916 was not the last. Hull suffered a further two attacks in 1916, one in 1917 and another two in 1918. Over the course of the First World War, there were 160 casualties in Hull from air raids. If you would like to learn more about the zeppelin raids on Hull during the First World War, please see Arthur Credland’s book The Hull Zeppelin Raids 1916-1918 [L 9.7083].

Verity, Archives Assistant

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Out with the old in with the new catalogues

Staff kept calm and carried on despite operating under a restricted service for the last six weeks, and have been working hard to improve access to our collections whilst continuing to offer a limited public service.

We may not have been able to access the collections themselves whilst the building work was on-going, but we did have access to the old catalogues typed many years ago and to standards we no longer recognise. A process, known as retro-conversion enables us to take an old list and re-key the data into our database ensuring that they adhere to the modern standards of cataloguing and allowing us to create an on line searchable catalogue.

Collections which will be available to search on our on-line catalogue shortly include:

C DSMS - Records of the Hull Mission to Seafarers formerly known as the Mission to Seamen and associated records including Hull Mariners' Church and Sailors' Rest Society Records  1796-1977, Hull Sailors' Home Society Records 1858-1943, and Hull Mission to Seafarers/Seamen Records 1913-2002

C DDEY - East Yorkshire Deeds 1573-1826, Deeds of the Bacchus estate at Melton, Cottingham, Knottingley, 16th century-18th century; and of properties in Trippett 17th century; Whitefriargate 17th-18th century; Kendal 18th century.

The new version of the list (right) follows modern standards with a clean layout to make it easy to read 

Some of the collections were too large to complete during the six weeks so work is on-going on the following:

C DDO - a set of historical documents relating to Hull and District and old deeds covering the period 1392-1842.  Within this set is a document dated 1694 stating that one Elizabeth Crake of Lelay was to pay William Crake £3, being the amount she owed him since time began! How this was calculated we’ll never know but it would be interesting to know when William thought that time began!

C SBH - Hull School Board, 1871-1903. This vast collection contains over 1500 individual items and includes Election papers 1871-1901; minutes of the Board and the various committee papers 1871-1903; reports 1871-1903 and Letter books and correspondence 1877-1903.

C BRA – Title deeds of properties acquired by the Borough of Kingston upon Hull, 1300-1835. Originally produced as part of a Calendar of Ancient Deeds, Letters, and Miscellaneous Old Documents in the Archives of the Corporation, this collection gives a fascinating insight into the workings of the Corporation over 535 years.

L WH – The Winifred Holtby archive consists of over 9000 items and includes the original manuscript of South Riding. Although this collection can be accessed online, the absence of a hard copy list meant that it was impossible to browse a catalogue in the searchroom. The list is now well under way and will be available to read in the searchroom in the near future.

Work on Theatre Programmes continues as programmes from the Theatre Royal and the Grand Theatre are added to the 3000+ New Theatre programmes already available to search on-line.

Additions to the book stock have continued including Hull City: the Boothferry Park Years by Nicholas Turner and new OS maps have been added to our stock to replace those that were worn out through heavy use!

As we return to normal service we can reflect that the last six weeks may have had their challenges but that throughout we have managed to offer a public service and worked on collections to improve access in the future.

Carol Tanner
Access and Collections Manager, Hull City Archives

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Medieval women in the archives

March is Women’s History Month and so I thought it would be interesting to look at how women appear in some of the earliest records held here at Hull History Centre – deeds recording property transactions. We hold deeds covering nearly a thousand years, from the 12th century up to the 20th.

Studying the lives of medieval women can seem a daunting task, and it’s true that men appear more often than women in medieval records, but that doesn’t mean that women are invisible. We can use deeds to get a glimpse into the lives of some medieval women.

All the deeds featured here are written in Latin, so don’t worry if you can’t read them! The women’s names are highlighted to help you spot them.

Gift of Breithive, daughter of Norman de Elretona

In this 12th-century gift Breithive, daughter of Norman de Ellerton, and Adam, her nephew, give to Ellerton Priory all their land in Ellerton beyond Whitebec to the east and Ruedic to the west. No reason is given for Breithive’s gift, but often priories were given property in remembrance of a deceased family member. (U DDCA2/17/1)

Gift of Agatha de Cleseby

This gift from Agatha de Cleseby to the priory of St Andrew, made in the early 13th century, includes a toft and croft in Manfield along with other property, and was given for the soul of Robert, her son. (U DDCA2/29/43)

Gift of Juliana, widow of Ralph Pilkat

Interestingly, in this 13th-century gift both the parties are women, as Juliana, widow of Ralph Pilkat of Everingham, gives a half part of her house to her daughter Alice. The property given to Alice was 15 feet long and 15 feet wide. (U DDEV/9/4)

Gift of Robert de Sywardby

Finally, another 13th-century document records a demise of a toft in Sywardby from Thomas, son of Robert de Sywardby, to his mother Lady Beatrice for her life, as long as she remains lay (i.e. does not enter a convent). From this it appears that Lady Beatrice was a widow, as it was not uncommon for widows to become nuns. (U DDLG/30/27)

In the Middle Ages women could also witness deeds, but I haven’t yet found a deed in our collections where a woman appears in the witness list. If you know of one please get in touch!