A Friday Pie

As it’s National Pie Week, I thought I’d try making a pie from one of the recipe books in our collection, and what better for today, particularly as we’re in Lent, than ‘A frydayes pye without either flesh or fish’ from Jane Mosley’s 17th century recipe book (reference number D770/C/EZ/394) . The recipes in this book were published by the Record Office in the 1970s.

Here’s the recipe:

Wash greene beets cleane, picke out the middle string, and chop them small with two or three well relisht ripe apples. Season it with pepper, salt and ginger: then take a good handfull of raisins of the sunne, and put them all in a coffin of fine paste, with a peece of sweet butter, and so bake it: but before you serve it in, cut it up, and wring in the Juyce of an orange and sugar.

My first question when I looked at this was: is this a sweet or savoury pie? It uses beet greens, salt and pepper, but also apple, raisins, orange juice and sugar. If this seems strange then it’s worth remembering that the concept of ending a savoury meal with something sweet is relatively modern. In the 17th and 18th centuries sweet and savoury dishes would all be put on the table together, so it’s not necessarily surprising that a pie might be a combination of both. However, the proof is in the pudding (or pie!) so the only way to know for sure was to taste it.

If you’re wondering about the ‘coffin of fine paste’, this referred to a standing pastry crust – in other words a thick pastry that formed a container for the filling without the need of a pie dish, which is a technique used in traditional British pork pies today. As I was more interested in the filling than the crust, I didn’t bother with the ‘coffin’ but made my pie in a standard pie dish, using my regular fool-proof pastry recipe. Inside this, I put:

200g Swiss chard, stalks removed and the leaves finely sliced (I couldn’t find beet greens at this time of year)
2 apples, peeled and sliced. I used 1 Bramley apple, which would be a bit more tart (i.e. ‘well relisht’) and 1 Cox
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp ginger
a handful of raisins
a couple of knobs of unsalted butter

I put a lid on the pie and baked it for around 40 minutes at 180 degrees C. After letting it cool for 10 minutes, I cut a slice, sprinkled on a bit of sugar and squeezed some orange juice over it. The result was definitely sweet, but that wasn’t surprising as there was a lot of apple in my pie. It tasted like a slightly gingery apple pie.

I had wondered whether this recipe might not be a sneaky way of getting children to eat some greens without them realising it, but although apple and ginger were the predominant flavours in the pie, the greens were definitely visible, so wouldn’t fool a picky eater.

When I tried the pie cold the next day, without the orange juice and sugar, the chard flavour was stronger. I suspect that the original pie may have been made with a lot more greens and have therefore been a more savoury dish – it would probably go well with a bit of cheese.

This week is not only National Pie Week, but also Food Waste Action Week, so if you’ve got some greens and apples you need to use up, don’t throw them away – you can always try something different, and put them together in a pie.

Researching LGBTQ+ history

The criminalization, stigmatisation and persecution of the LGBTQ+ community has made researching LGBTQ+ history a challenge. Throughout history people have for religious, social and personal reasons been forced to conceal this aspect of their lives. You’ll often see it referred to as a ‘hidden history’. Knowing where to start researching this subject can seem a daunting task. 

Homosexuality and sex between men was made an illegal act in 1553.  With punishments ranging from hanging, to the pillory and ‘chemical rehabilitation’, fines and hard labour, it’s easy to understand why members of the LGBTQ+ community would not have openly advertised their lives.

The National Archives has useful guidance on researching gay, lesbian and bisexual histories, and following consultation with LGBTQ+ history researchers, they have also included information about researching transgender and gender identity history. In the past, the state often combined gender identity and sexuality meaning that references are often found in the same types of records. As an area of study which is still in its infancy The National Archives’ guide on Sexuality and Gender Identity History is a great resource for both researchers and archive repositories which may hold relevant records, including which sources can be searched online.

The state has played a major role in oppressing, controlling and censoring the lives of LGBTQ+ people whom it considered a threat to the ‘natural’ order of society.  As a result, the main sources of information tend be court and police records and those outlining policy and legislation, reflecting society’s attitude towards homosexuality over time.  Lesbian lives are almost invisible in this historical record as female homosexuality was never criminalised.  This often leaves us with a negative view of LGBTQ+ history. 

Searching for LGBTQ+ history in traditional family history resources can be particularly difficult simply because this information was not asked for. Census returns, for example, did not ask for a person’s sexual orientation.  Many of the main sources of records used by family historians are related to births and marriages.  You may be left to ‘read between the lines’ with regards to information you find, for example, same sex single persons living together.

Descriptions and how to search

When you consult original records, it is useful to be aware of the different terms that have been used for sexuality and gender identity, and for the offences which people were charged with, and that this language has changed over time. The term homosexuality, for example, was not used with its contemporary meaning until the end of the 19th century. Many terms used in historical records are considered offensive today, reflecting the attitudes of the time.

Identifying records relating to sexuality and gender identity is particularly difficult as catalogue descriptions may not always make it clear that they contain relevant material and many sources are not immediately obvious. Here at Derbyshire Record Office we work hard to improve the descriptions on our online catalogue in order to make material easier to find.

Below are some historical terms to consider when searching for and consulting archive material. The list contains terminology which you may find offensive:

Historical terms relating to sexuality: character defect, pervert, queer, deviant, immoral, invert, sapphism, sodomite, tribade

Historical terms for relevant criminal offences: unnatural offences, unnatural act, against the order of nature, buggery, disorderly house, gross indecency, importuning, indecency, obscenity, sexual offences, sodomy, soliciting, street offences

Historical terms relating to gender identity: males in female attire, females in male attire, female husband, cross-dressing, hermaphrodite, masquerading, sex change, change of sex, transvestite, gender, gender recognition, transsexuals

Records to consult

Records of crime and punishment – As male homosexuality was illegal until 1967 the legal control of homosexual sex has created the bulk of surviving LGBTQ+ relevant archives in county record offices.  For example, Calendars of Prisoners, found within the records of the court of Quarter Sessions, provide lists of prisoners held before trial.  They provide the prisoner’s name, crime and date of arrest. See the record office’s guide to the records of crime and punishment for more information.  

Extract from a Calendar of Prisoners dating from 1879, recording “a crime against the order of nature”

Divorce records – The homosexuality of one partner was often cited in divorce proceedings.  Divorce records aren’t held at county record offices but certain records of divorce prior to 1937 can be found at The National Archives  . Case files dating from 1858-1916 can be viewed online via Ancestry. For legal proof of divorce in England or Wales since 1858 to the present, go to the GOV.UK website.

Hospitals and health – in the past LGBTQ+ men and women were perceived as mentally ill.  The records of hospitals, particularly asylums, may contain admissions of gay, lesbian and transsexual people.  Bear in mind that hospital records dating within 100 years are likely to be unavailable under General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Search our catalogue for records of hospitals and asylums.

Local Authority records – these can be consulted when tracing the implementation and repeal of laws.  For example, the implementation of the Wolfenden recommendations in 1967 which legalised homosexual acts between consenting adults and Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 (repealed in 2003). This controversial amendment stated that a local authority should “not intentionally promote homosexuality, or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” nor “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. 

Papers of individuals and family collections – diaries, letters and photographs can be sources of information.

Same sex institutions – same sex institutions, such as same-sex schools and prisons presented a constant source of concern for those in authority.  Where there are large groups of men, or women, these will often be material recount anxieties about homosexuality. See our guide to the records of schools and colleges. Try looking in punishment books, minutes and correspondence relating to these institutions, GDPR permission permitting, of course.

Local Studies collections – articles can be found within newspapers, periodicals and published works on LGBTQ+ subjects or by LGBTQ+ authors.  See a previous LGBT History Month blog post for examples from the record office collection

From our Local Authors collection – ‘Born this Way: the life of Joshua’ by Brett Bradley-Howarth.  A coming of age story about Joshua, growing up as a young man coming to terms with being gay

Other sources:

Our blog post from earlier this month on Gay Rights pioneer Edward Carpenter and his Chesterfield connections

The LGBT Archive (formerly the LGBT UK History Project)

England’s LGBTQ Heritage on Historic England website

If you would like to help us improve our collections for LGBTQ+ communities, we’d love to hear from you.

Eleanor Anne Porden: “this truly amiable and accomplished lady”

Portrait of Eleanor Anne Porden by her friend Mary Anne Flaxman, 1811 (Derbyshire Record Office reference D8760/F/LIB/11/8)

Eleanor Anne Porden died on 22 February 1825 following a long and ultimately unsuccessful battle against tuberculosis. Rather than concentrate on the fact of her being John Franklin’s lesser known first wife who died so tragically young, we thought we would try to paint a brighter and more positive picture of a young woman who lived as full and as happy a life as she could. Personally speaking, I have to admit that while cataloguing the Franklin collection, it was Eleanor who soon became the “star of the show”. It was particularly in her letters that her character shone really through; lively, intelligent, witty, bright, compassionate, articulate, insightful, with a streak of playful mischief. I would defy anyone who reads her letters not to think she would have made a great best friend!

Letter from Eleanor Anne Porden to John Franklin, 18 Dec 1822 (Derbyshire Record Office reference D8760/F/FSJ/1/1/7)

Hastings Decr 18 1822
Dear Sir, I hope you have by this time received a fine saucy message of mine which I sent you through my sister, and that you have been duly angry in consequence. I had half a mind to have threatened you with endeavouring to pick up a second hand copy of “the complete letter writer” for your especial use- but to speak seriously. I am aware that you have so much compelled writing on hand that when you have done your daily task you are glad to fling the pens in the fire, and seek amusement in any other form – nevertheless

Eleanor Anne was born on 14 July 1795, the youngest child of architect William Porden and his wife Mary. She had a much older sister, Sarah Henrietta, known affectionately as Henny, but there were also other siblings whom she never had the chance to meet. The shadow of high infant mortality was ever-present at this time, and William and Mary knew the reality of it all too well. In one of William’s notebook he records the sad details of the early deaths of their several children, including two stillborn boys. In such a context the late arrival of Eleanor and her survival beyond infancy must have seemed almost a miracle in itself.

William Porden took pains to ensure that his young daughter had the best education possible. It was later described in a lengthy printed obituary as “private, and under the immediate direction her father” and “of a superior and uncommon description”.  I like to think that Porden was an enlightened man and recognised the intellectual capabilities of his daughter at any early stage, doing everything to make sure that she developed them as much as she could, well beyond what would have been available to most girls. at that time. What is clear is that he did not waste his time, as Eleanor proved the most able and responsive of pupils and went on to exceed his expectations.

In Jane Austen’s Price and Prejudice (Chapter 8), the conversation among the well-heeled at Netherfield turns to the accomplishments of young ladies, with Elizabeth Bennet eventually responding to Mr Darcy’s assertion that he knew only six young ladies whom he considered really accomplished. with her amazement, given his exacting standards, that he knew any at all. I do like to think that that Eleanor would have satisfied all of Mr Darcy’s criteria and may even have exceeded them. In real life, a not dissimilar sort of conversation did take place involving Eleanor and her friend Miss Jane Griffin when they first dined together at the Pordens’ home. The following passage came from one of Miss Griffin’s journals.

“On our retiring to the drawing room we talked and joked with Miss Porden on her universal talents. She makes all her own clothes, preserves and pickles, dances, quadrilles con amore, belongs to a poetical book club, pays mornings visits, sees all the sights, never Denies herself to any body at any hour, and lies in bed or is not dressed till 9 o’clock in the morning.” [copied from Martyn Beardsley’s biography of Franklin “Deadly Winter”]

Her “universal talents” did extend well beyond those listed in that passage. In terms of her domestic skills, Eleanor, of course, would not have been unique in practicing those, but she did have to take on the extra duties of nursing her invalid mother for the last 10 years (she died in 1819) and then her father for the last year or two of his life (he died in 1822). She did indeed like a dance: even when in very poor health, she loved to take part in dancing, as in one letter wheer she tried to reassure her husband that she hadn’t overdone it. Eleanor certainly did her best to cultivate a busy social life for herself in spite of her own shyness in social gatherings (something she actually shared with her husband). She did the social rounds of morning visits, went out and saw things, and generally enjoyed what London had to offer in terms of entertainment. Once she had overcome her initial shyness with people she did not know, she was able to make and keep friends. One such friend was Miss Jane Griffin, who, in her first encounter in 1819, noted her “embarrassment and timidity of  manner”, but also added that she was “a plain, stout, short woman, having rather a vulgar … countenance … and a reddish coarse face”, the consciousness of which (if really true) must have added to her shyness. This description always seems to me to go against the portrait painted by Mary Anne Flaxman, but we are dealing there with a romanticised image painted by a friend eight years earlier, when Eleanor was just sweet sixteen. In 1819 she was 23, although Miss Griffin also added that she looked more like 30! The important thing to be remembered, however, is that Miss Griffin soon saw beyond the superficial and recognised a kindred spirit in Eleanor with her intelligence, and they went on to become the best of friends. It would, in fact, be Miss Griffin who would go on to be the second wife of John Franklin in 1828, known to posterity as the formidable Lady Jane Franklin.

A less flattering portrait of Eleanor Porden, possibly by her sister Sarah Henrietta Kay (Derbyshire Record Office reference D8760/F/FEP/8/3/4)

The “poetical book club” mentioned above now moves us on to the area in which Eleanor Porden made her mark in the wider world. This was the Attic Society, members of which were invited to write poems and deliver them to the Pordens’ family home in Berners Street, where they were put in the “Attic Chest”. This had nothing to do with a room in a house but referred to a chest made of Grecian cedarwood, the contents of which were read out loud at the meetings regularly held at the house. Eleanor was the prime force behind setting up of the Society, albeit with plenty of help from her father, who roped in some of his older male friends to take part. Among those also contributing was the renowned poet Anna Vardill, whose works are being championed and re-evaluated as those of a “lost” Romantic female poet, a fate which might perhaps be Eleanor’s as well in the future. A few people have queried the actual merit of the various contributions and the overall conceit, but the fact is that the society met for ten years between 1808-1818. It says a lot for Eleanor’s commitment, tenacity and social skills that she was able to keep the enthusiasm for it going for so long. The Attic Chest poems still survive here at the Derbyshire Record Office in the form of 41 collated manuscript “journals”, which covered no less than 95 such meetings. Transcriptions of the poems have been made by the Vardill Society and are available at https://attic.vardill.org.

An example of Eleanor Porden’s contributions to the Attic Chest in 1816, expressing in poetry her interest in experiments about electricity (Derbyshire Record Office D8760/F/FEP/5/32)

Eleanor’s Attic Chest material fully attest to the extent and success of her education. Her contributions display her wide knowledge of different forms of literature, several of which she successfully pastiched, such as romantic verse (particularly Valentine Day poems), sonnets, lyric poems and literary letters. A couple of her commonplace or copy books show that she read widely, including several works by foreign authors, and she kept up to date with contemporary authors such as Byron and Walter Scott. She seems to have known some Latin, but it was Greek in which she seems to have excelled, judging by the immaculately written passages in her hand to be found in that language. It was no mere fad for Eleanor, as can be seen in the Greek books that got handed down in the family after her death. She knew Italian but was evidently much more proficient in French, as proved during the two continental holidays taken abroad with her father in 1816 and 1818. She even occasionally started letters in French to Franklin, which were examples of her “jeux d’esprit”, if nothing else.

Following on from her involvement with the Attic Chest, Eleanor took the major step to become a printed poet in her own right. With a little help from her father, she was able to get the publisher John Murray to print and bring out her work “The Veils” in 1815. This was a long poem in one volume, which sought to explain in poetical form some of the mysteries of one of her passions, science. She read widely on the subject and often attended lectures on it, including at the famous Royal Institute, occasionally to the irritation of a few fellow male attendees. Given the current anxiety to get girls more interested and involved in science, think how much more unusual it would have been then for a young woman to actually write a book about it, and what’s more, to have a success with it. “The Veils” sold well and was very well received by the critics. It even earned Eleanor a certain celebrity status, as even 4 years later she was being asked for autographs, much to her father’s delight. She was even honoured in France for her work, being elected a member of the Institut de Paris in 1816, and when on holiday in Paris she and her father was allowed in to attend a meeting at the Institut, she was alarmed to find that they were put in seats at the front, as honoured guests, rather than somewhere at the back, which she would have undoubtedly preferred much more.

Her second and last major work was “Coeur de Lion”, an epic poem based on the exploits of King Richard I during the Third Crusade. She was deeply interested in history, geography and travel in general, and for this work thoroughly researched the historical background (one notebook for it has survived). The poem itself was published in two volumes in June 1822. In the printed obituary for her cited earlier goes so far as to describe it as “one of the greatest efforts of a female pen in the annals of English literature”, no doubt an outbreak of hyperbole common to many obituaries, but still quite a thing to say.

It was, however, a smaller scale poem that Eleanor produced between these two major works which had the biggest affect on her life. Her poem “The Arctic Expeditions”, written in 1818 in response to setting off of the first set of 19th Arctic century expeditions, attracted the attention of one of its participants, John Franklin. He admired the work and made sure that he got to meet the author, thus setting off a chain of events which ultimately led to their marriage on 23 August 1823. It has been said that their union could not have been a happy one given the incompatibility of their natures, the lively intelligent Eleanor and the dour plodding John. It was just as well that neither of them was made aware of this, as it had not occurred to them that this was the case. It seems to me that it was very much a love match. There certainly were differences between them, particularly evident for a few tricky moments during their engagement, but they did actually manage to compromise and resolve them like adults to the satisfaction of both.

An example of Eleanor’s straight talking to to John Franklin, early on in their relationship, 5 Dec 1822 (Derbyshire Record Office D8760/F/FSJ/1/1/5)

[All] I can say is that there is no one else in all my acquaintance, who, if I am any judge of my own feelings, could have spoken to me on the subject you have done, without meeting an instant and positive denial. But I am not prepared to say more- I sometimes fear you have a little mistaken my character- or that you may find it changed- I can feel I am not quite the same in feelings or dispositions that I was four years ago.

There is nothing I have seen to suggest they were anything but happy in their marriage. The couple had a daughter, also called Eleanor, who was born on 3 June 1824, something which united them in joy. Unfortunately, their final months together would take place under the long shadow of the tuberculosis which would eventually kill her. Eleanor’s letters after the marriage show her determination not to let the illness overwhelm her, but also are written in the same style as before, often affectionately teasing her husband but not being afraid to speak out on their differences, as in one letter where she raised the question of Sunday observance, a subject on which they were divided. Unfortunately, we do not have Franklin’s actual response to this, but the letters we do have show no lessening of his love for her. I think their marriage was actually characterised by a huge amount of mutual respect. He responded to her lively, affectionate character, her honesty and her intelligence, a very different presence to anything he had ever experienced before. She responded to his goodness, kindness and thoroughly decent nature, making allowances for his weaknesses and perhaps crediting him with more intelligence than others have done.

Much material on Eleanor Anne Porden is held at the Derbyshire Record Office in the Gell collection under reference number D8760. One of her volunteers, Fiona Buist, has been transcribing the letters from Eleanor to John Franklin, and the majority of these can now be viewed in our online catalogue. Only the letters after their marriage remain to be done, and, hopefully, these will become available in the next couple of months.

New catalogues now available for Chesterfield collections

During 2020, we did add a small number of these to the online catalogue (for example, D9 Dakeyne of Darley), and work continues to process the remaining drafts and recent transfers, so there are lots more to come this year.

Last week, catalogues for several collections that were transferred to us from the Local Studies collection Chesterfield Library back in 2016 were published online. Lists for some of these collections had been created by our predecessors in the 1970s and 1980s on behalf of the library, but of course this was in the days before word processors (at least in the library service). Since 2016, these lists have been available to download from our online catalogue, but they weren’t text searchable so unless you knew to look in a particular catalogue you wouldn’t know whether any relevant records existed.

The new catalogues relate to the following collections – click the reference number to see a full overview in the online catalogue:

Chesterfield and District Education Council, formerly Chesterfield and District Sunday School Union (ref: D7691)

The National Sunday School Union was established in 1803 and the earliest Chesterfield records survive from 1818, with reports up to 1995 and minutes up to 1995.

Small collection of family and business papers for Joseph Clayton & Sons (Chesterfield) Ltd, Tanners and Curriers (D7993)

Joseph Clayton & Sons (Chesterfield) Ltd was founded in 1840 by the 20-year old Joseph Clayton (born Peak Forest). The first works were established in Spa Lane and as business increased extended to a site in Clayton Street. Eventually the Spa Lane works were closed and the whole of the business concentrated and expanded in Clayton Street. The Clayton Street tannery was taken over by Spire Leather Company in 2018.

Toc H, Chesterfield branch (D8008)

This small collection contains mostly financial ephemera, including relating to Garden fêtes in the 1930s. The original Toc H had been founded in 1915 in Poperinghe, Belgium as a rest and recreation centre for British soldiers. A youth centre was established in London in 1920 and branches were formed across the UK and the world, the Chesterfield branch had been founded by 1928 when these records begin.

Chesterfield Harriers and Athletic Club (D7996)

Unfortunately, the original list for this collection did not include a history of the club. However, as the collection includes minutes from 1950 and scrapbook 1956-c1962, we will at least be able to include a brief history once it is possible to directly access the records. Perhaps someone you know remembers the Club or was a member? The current Chesterfield and District Athletics Club was established in 1978, so my current theory (and it is no more than that) is that the CHAC was disbanded about 1970 and the new club took its place a few years later.

Personal papers of Colonel Victor Owen Robinson of Chesterfield, 1891-1972 (D8003)

Chairman of Robinson and Sons (see D5395), Robinson was also involved in various civic projects in the town, and this probably incomplete collection of his personal papers particularly relates to efforts to memorialise in the town the “Father of the Railways”, George Stephenson, who died at Chesterfield in 1848. The collection also includes minutes and other papers for the Derbyshire Playing Fields Association 1927-1933.

Stephenson Memorial Hall (D8005)

The Stephenson Memorial Hall was built by public subscription in 1879. It was used for lectures, classes, and a library. A room was also originally intended to be used as a museum. The building was extended when the building was sold to Chesterfield Corporation in 1889 to include a theatre (now the Pomegranate), and hosted Council meetings and the town’s library. The Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery has also occupied the building since 1994.

Sheet music compositions by Ezra Read and Ida Hampden, composers (D8007)

Although Ezra Reed and his wife Ida Hampden were not originally from Derbyshire, they settled in Shirebrook in 1908 and amongst other things Ezra was employed at the Empire and Town Hall theatres in Chesterfield. The couple were itinerant musicians and composers, travelling particularly in the West Midlands and Derbyshire, they shared 120 pseudonyms between them and are believed to have composed up to 6,000 separate published musical items, including one which sold over 1 million copies worldwide.

An artificial collection of title deeds and related papers known as the Oakley collection (D7987)

Including some items relating to the manors and manor courts of Eckington, Bolsover, Nether Padley and Hathersage

A small collection of items primarily relating to Freemason lodges in Chesterfield (D7999)

Plus several items for the Third Derbyshire Rifle Volunteers

Also added were catalogues for the Twigg family of Bonsall and Ashover (D7990), Chesterfield Townswomen’s Guild (D7998) and Chesterfield Business and Professional Women’s Guild (D8002), but more on these to come another day.

With special thanks to Lien, our Senior Conservator, who re-typed all these lists so as to enable them to be published in the online catalogue.

Gay Rights pioneer Edward Carpenter and his Chesterfield connections

February is LGBT History Month, which recognises and celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. Researching LGBT history is challenging (we’ll cover that subject in a future blog post) but today we will celebrate an early pioneer of gay rights who was a Derbyshire resident for many years: Edward Carpenter.

Edward Carpenter was born in Sussex in 1844 and educated at Cambridge. After a period as a curate in the Anglican Church he became a lecturer, and in the 1870s, he moved to Chesterfield, although finding it rather dull, he moved on to Sheffield soon after!  On inheriting £6,000 from his father in 1882, Carpenter left Sheffield and built a house in Millthorpe, Derbyshire, which lies between Chesterfield and Sheffield.

This blog post will be too long if I detail everything that made Edward Carpenter remarkable – he was a poet, author, philosopher and socialist who espoused many views that were ahead of their time, including feminism, vegetarianism, and environmentalism.  What made Edward Carpenter particularly remarkable, however, is that he lived openly as a gay man when male homosexuality was still illegal.  His life partner was George Merrill, with whom he lived from 1893 until Merrill’s death in 1928.  George Merrill was a working-class man from Sheffield and the relationship between Carpenter and Merrill inspired H M Forster’s novel ‘Maurice’, in which the upper-class Maurice finds love and happiness with Alec Scudder, a young gamekeeper.

Edward Carpenter (left) and George Merrill c1900.
Unknown photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Carpenter not only lived openly with Merrill, but published books about homosexuality. His first pamphlet on the topic, ‘Homogenic Love’, was published privately but ‘The Intermediate Sex’, published in 1908 by George Allen & Unwin and subsequently reprinted several times, was the first book which was generally available to anyone, and which discussed homosexuality positively.

This is all by way of preamble to talk about a hitherto unseen collection of letters from Edward Carpenter to the Ashmore family of Chesterfield which will eventually be coming to Derbyshire Record Office.  The letters were part of a small family collection which came up for auction in 2019 and were bought by Ed Fordham, who lives in Chesterfield and is a campaigner for LGBT rights, with the intention that they will ultimately be transferred to the Record Office. In the meantime Ed and Luke Povey have transcribed and published the letters in a new book called ‘The Chesterfield Letters of Edward Carpenter’

Whilst living in Chesterfield, Edward Carpenter befriended Samuel Ashmore and his family, and many of the letters are to Samuel’s son William, a young architect. (We have a small archive collection for William Ashmore already, which includes a letter book for his architectural practice – catalogue reference D2772). Indeed it was William Ashmore who designed Carpenter’s new house in Millthorpe.

Edward Carpenter’s house in Millthorpe, designed by William Ashmore (Picture the Past reference no. DCHQ000336)

The letters from Carpenter to the Ashmore family are charming, and evidence a close and long lasting friendship. If you’d like to read them for yourself, we shall be getting lending copies of the book for the library service (and of course we will ultimately be getting the original letters themselves), but in the meantime you can buy a copy of the book from Ed Fordham by emailing ed.fordham@gmail.com, or if you frequent Chesterfield Market you can pick one up in person from Ed’s Brockwell Books stall.

Edward Carpenter deserves to be much better known, so if you’d like to find out more about this remarkable man there is a 2008 biography of him by Sheila Rowbotham called ‘Edward Carpenter: a life of liberty and love’, and Sheffield Archives holds Carpenter’s personal library plus his published works, manuscripts and personal papers in the Edward Carpenter Collection. And if you’re stuck indoors, unable to visit the library or a bookshop, quite a few of Carpenter’s published works are available for free online on Google Books, Project Gutenburg and the Internet Archive, including ‘Homogenic Love and its place in a Free Society’ (1894), ‘The Intermediate Sex‘ (1908), and My Days and Dreams, being autobiographical notes (1916).

Willie Foulke: Blackwell Miners’ Welfare Football Club’s Famous Goalkeeper

Colliery companies offered many activities to their workers in an attempt to promote the health and welfare of their workers. Sports were a popular way of doing this, ranging from the more usual football and cricket, to more unusual ones such as hockey, tennis and fishing. Welfare grounds were a common feature in pit villages, including space for sports to be played not just by the employees, but also by their families.

Today, football is probably the most famous activity that miners were known to take part in, other than the brass bands that often still keep their colliery title, long after the closure of the collieries they once played for. The football played by miners paved the way to the professional leagues and teams we know today. Many miners who played football went onto have a successful career, not just for their own colliery’s non-professional teams, but for the professional teams that still exist today.

One of the best examples of a colliery footballer is William, better known as Willie, Foulke. He was a talented and popular footballer in his day, but he wasn’t the athletic build of footballer we imagine today. He was around 6 foot tall and weighed around 24 stone, giving him the nickname ‘fatty’. With stories of eating  breakfasts provided for his whole team when they played away, it’s no wonder he earned this nickname. Despite his unusual sporting physique, he was actually a very able player and started off his career at Blackwell Miners’ Welfare Football Club, which was originally just known as Blackwell Football Club. He was also a miner who worked at Blackwell, so he was quite a fit man for his size.

Willie Foulke

Photograph of Willie Foulke

The first reference to him, alongside another successful player who originally started at Blackwell, Willie Layton, was in December 1893, when Blackwell won a 2-0 victory over Belper. Both of these players went on to have successful professional careers. For Foulke though, these early days meant a mixture of goalkeeping and goal scoring. He was one of the goal scorers in a 4-1 win over Heanor Town in February of 1894, but this would be one of his last matches with the Blackwell team before he moved on to play as a professional for Sheffield United. He was one of many players for the Blackwell team that would eventually make it to professional level and these players all started their official career at one of the two Sheffield teams, either Sheffield United or Sheffield Wednesday.

Foulke was brought for £20 by Sheffield United, around £1500 in today’s money (certainly not the millions spent on players today), and soon showed to a wider group of football fans, why he shouldn’t be messed with by the opposition. One of his main tricks was to punch a ball over the half way line, often at the expense of an opposition player’s face. It was usually either that, or being put in goal standing on their heads. In all seriousness, it is thought Foulke was the first goalkeeper to adopt the tactic of punching a ball away from the goal.

sheffield united 1902 team

Photograph of Sheffield United’s 1902 team (Foulke at back)

His anger was also taken out on referees, not just opposition players. One story has it that in a 1902 FA Cup final match against Southampton, when a controversial equalising goal by Southampton was allowed by the referee, Foulke went on the rampage after the match. Leaving the dressing room naked, he chased the rather scared referee, probably giving more than a few choice words, until the poor man hid in a cleaning cupboard. Officials had to try and stop Willie from tearing the door off its hinges in his desperate attempt of making the referee pay. Whether this tale is true or not, it certainly helped to bolster his reputation as a somewhat scary character to opposition and fans alike.

After playing at Sheffield United for 11 seasons, including a stint in Blades XI, with his only England captain’s cap for a 4-0 win against Wales at Bramall Lane in March 1897, Willie then went on to play for the newly formed Chelsea. He was their goalkeeper during their first ever season, moving on to play a final season at Bradford before retiring from a leg injury. Unfortunately, this forced retirement was the start of a downhill struggle for this once famous goalkeeper. He moved back to Sheffield and became a shop and beer house owner instead. Neighbours from this time remembered him walking around proudly in smart suits and wearing his FA Cup medal around his neck. He died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1916 at the age of 42.

Despite his rather sad end, Foulke did leave a footballing legacy behind. His nephew, Jimmy Simmons, who also originally started his football career at Blackwell, went on to play for Sheffield United too. Funnily enough, Simmons went onto to be the first goal scorer in an FA Cup final match against Chelsea in 1915. To this day, Chelsea still celebrate Willie Foulke as their first goalkeeper and have a waxwork of him at their museum.


‘Can Footballers Large It?’, BBC Sport,  7th August 2002

‘William Foulke’, Chelsea Football Club, https://www.chelseafc.com/en/about-chelsea/history/former-players/william-foulke

Dawkes, P., ‘’Fatty’ Foulke: The legend of Sheffield United & Chelsea keeper’, BBC Sport, 30th August 2019

Photographs of football teams, including Willie Foulke (Blackwell Colliery and England goalkeeper), c1905, Chesterfield FC, 1899, and Sheepsbridge Ladies, 1916, D5693/2/1

Mining the Seams is a Wellcome Trust funded project aiming to catalogue coal mining documents, originally held by the National Coal Board, so they can eventually be viewed by the public. Alongside the Warwickshire County Record Office, the project aims to focus on the welfare and health services provided to miners. 

Are you ok? – the importance of staying connected

Thursday 4 February is national Time to Talk Day. A chance to start a conversation about mental health and wellbeing.

The focus this year is on the power of small, because however you have a conversation about mental health – whether it’s a quick text to a friend, a virtual coffee morning with colleagues, asking a loved one if they’re ok – has the power to make a big difference.

Looking forward to face-to-face natters

Time to Talk Day aims to get the nation talking about mental health and at times like this open conversations about mental health are more important than ever. See the Time to Change website for advice and support and information on how to get involved.

Connecting with people and just having a chat can really help our mental health. So why not use those conversations to capture and share memories and stories?

We’ve blogged about the History Begins at Home campaign before so here’s a reminder of how it’s a great way to get a conversation started.

The idea behind the campaign is to encourage family members of different generations to connect or re-connect by discovering previously unknown facts or family stories, sharing memories, experiences and expertise, and then capturing these conversations and findings for the future.

At the launch of the campaign back in May, Gary Tuson, County Archivist at Norfolk Record Office and Campaign Lead at History Begins at Home, commented: “COVID-19 has created all sorts of challenges such as separation, isolation, hardship, the need for resilience, the power of community and the desire to help one another. History Begins at Home is the perfect antidote during this period when people can’t visit their family members due to the current restrictions. It’s a fun way to pass some time together on the phone, via FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp or other apps. And, with so much emphasis on mental health and well-being during the lockdown, the campaign is an ideal way for people to engage with the recommended ‘5 ways to well-being’: Connect, Give, Be active, Take Notice and Keep Learning.” 

As we all live through another lockdown, this message is just as relevant and still so important.

Getting involved in History Begins at Home is easy – start off by asking a relative for one of their old recipes and share it, find and share a picture of a family member’s favourite childhood toy, an old love letter (or a new one), or ask them about a funny, incredible, interesting, remarkable or obscure story or memory from their past. Who knows what you might discover.

The record office is supporting the History Begins at Home project via Twitter, and you can follow us at @FranklinArchive to see all our posts. Now, more than ever, it’s so important to stay connected and look after your mental health.

A Wayward Ward

Although much has changed in the last 200 years, some things remain constant, and the troubles of teenagers is one of them. I recently found a wonderful set of letters within the Miller Mundy family archive that tell the tale of a ward of Edward Miller Mundy, whose transition into adulthood didn’t go very smoothly! As I was going through a box of correspondence, a sentence in a letter dated 1805 caught my eye:

The Girl says she has told Mr P- that she will either pay the ten guineas at the end of a week or leave his family, in which case she must go on the stage.

Ref no D517/BOX/12/9/4/23

In threatening to ‘go on the stage’, by the way, ‘the Girl’ is not saying that she will get on a stagecoach, but that she is going to become an actress – a particularly scandalous profession at the time.  I didn’t think young women threatened to go on the stage in real life (it seems more of a cliché of romantic fiction) so I was immediately intrigued as to who this outrageous ‘Girl’ was.

Thankfully within the group of over 60 letters from and about the ‘Girl’, she signed one with her full name, written with a flourish:


If she’d just been a Mary Feilding I would have struggled to trace her, but her unusual middle name, Victorine, made life much easier and I found her baptism in France in 1787 on Ancestry.com. It transpires she was the youngest of the three illegitimate children of Viscount Feilding (1760-1799) and Maria Magdalena Huntley, also known as Maria Magdalena Groeschner.  Despite their illegitimate status, all the children were given suitably aristocratic names: her brothers were William George Augustus Feilding and Louis Victor William Feilding. Illegitimate children can’t inherit titles, though, so Viscount Feilding married the respectable Anne Powys in 1791 and produced two more sons and a daughter.  In his will, however, he provided for his illegitimate children as well as the legitimate ones, and Edward Miller Mundy (1750-1822) became guardian to young Mary.

The fact that there are over 60 letters and bills for a two year period, just about Mary, are a good clue that she caused quite a bit of trouble! In 1804, when Mary was 17, she was placed in Bath to learn a respectable trade as a milliner and dressmaker. She was, however, clearly more interested in spending money than earning it, paid little attention to her work and constantly ran up debts. One bill for £11 9s 6d (the equivalent to around £500 in today’s money) lists 30 purchases between May and August 1804 from the Miss Hoblyn’s, with whom she had been placed to learn the business. Her purchases included a split straw bonnet, fabric (net and buff gingham, etc.), gloves, buttons, ribbons and trimmings, and a few made-up garments such as a muslin dress and a cambric spencer.

Ref no D517/BOX/12/9/4/13

In September 1804, she was placed with another milliner and dressmaker in Bath, Miss Edgell, but at Christmas Mary left Miss Edgell’s and moved in with some haberdashers, Mr and Mrs Percival. She hadn’t obtained her guardian’s permission for the move, and although she implied that she moved because of Miss Edgell’s treatment of her, Miss Edgell wrote to one of Mr Mundy’s sisters:

I… treated her with all the kind attention in my power, in return for which I have received the greatest neglect of my business, my advice, & such a general mark’d contempt that it was impossible I could submit to having such an example before the rest of my family.

It was when she moved to the Percivals that she threatened to go on the stage if her guardian wouldn’t agree to her staying there. She certainly seems to have had a flair for the dramatic. In a letter dated 2 February 1805, Edward Miller Mundy’s sister, Mrs Oliver, described a visit to Mary in which Mrs Oliver suggested that going into service with a lady of good character would be a much more creditable way of earning her living than going on the stage.  Like the persecuted heroine of a popular novel, Mary declaimed:

‘Do you think Lord Feilding’s Daughter will condescend to go to service? No, I have too much pride for that & since you will not assist me in the only way which is in your power, I can truly say it shall be the last favour I will ever ask of you or any of the Mundys, who have all used me cruelly.

Eventually Mary was persuaded to return to her mother, now called Mrs Williams, who was living in Turnham Green in London. Mrs Williams intended to travel to India, and a letter from Harriet Bowdler (a cousin of the Feildings) to Edward’s sister Nelly Mundy on 30 September 1805 said that Mary was anxious to travel to India with Mrs Williams but needed money to do so.  She wrote about Mary and her mother in less than flattering terms (Mrs Williams’ ‘trade’, which Mrs Bowdler mentions, refers to her being a man’s mistress, rather than a respectable wife):

I hope the whole of this troublesome business will now be settled.  If poor Mary escapes mischief during the voyage, (for which ugliness seems to be her only security), & makes an honest marriage, I shall be truly glad of it; but I cannot think that Mrs W- can teach her anything but her own trade, & for that, luckily, she has not the qualification of beauty.’ 

Unfortunately for the Mundys, they were not so easily able to get rid of Mary, as she and her mother had a falling out. In November 1805, Mrs Williams wrote a couple of letters to the Mundys complaining of her daughter’s behaviour. She had thrown Mary out and now refused to have anything to do with her. Her laments might be familiar to some other mothers of teenagers:

‘When after some time, I desired her to attend to our small domestic concerns… & learn a little Housekeeping, she caused me so much vexation, that I was obliged to give up that point…. In the morning she will not get up, her carelessness & behaviour all together is such that I could not endure it any longer… When she is severely rebuked then she gets sulky.’

Mary’s lack of money sense was also an enduring problem, as was her propensity for telling tall stories to cover up her spending. Mrs Williams wrote:

‘I had sent her a two pound note for her journey from Bath to Turnham Green, Mrs Mundy had given her from you ten pounds, & more than half of that money she had spend in perfumes, Rouge, punch, cider & all sorts of cakes,… to hide her extravagance she told me story after story till I threatened to write to you.

Ref no D517/BOX/12/9/4/36

That double underlined ‘Rouge’ speaks volumes about Mary’s wickedness! It wasn’t only Mrs Williams who threatened to cast off Mary. Nelly Mundy wrote to Mrs Chaffer of Hammersmith, who had taken in Mary when she left her mother’s house, that Mary had been:

totally given up, both by my Brother & myself … she has been dishonestly making use of my Brother’s name for the purpose of Absolute Swindling … & whenever it is known where she can be found they will probably throw her into jail. The kindest thing you can do is to advise her to seek shelter with some honest farmer or cottager where she may exist & repent.  Nothing else can keep her from perdition.

This is strong language! I can’t deny, however, that Mary did behave badly. Her letters are masterpieces of duplicity – sometimes she is the wronged party, sometimes she is very sorry and promises to behave better (repeatedly!) and she almost always needs some money. The kindly Mrs Chaffer is less harsh than Nelly Mundy but has to admit that :

‘I do not think Miss F possesses much gratitude. I have advised her to take care of herself & keep from bad company which she promises to do. I believe her abilities for the stage are very great, If she succeeds I shall be very glad as she never will attend to Business.’

Despite everything, the Mundys didn’t totally cast Mary off and Nelly Mundy continued to help her, although to one request for £20, Nelly pointed out that over just three months, Mary had gone through £240 – that’s the equivalent of over £11,000 today. To be fair to Mary, it must have been difficult to have the status of a Viscount’s daughter, which I suspect she had been taught to be proud of, but without the advantages of legitimacy. If she had been a legitimate daughter, she would have had plenty of spending money and would never have needed to work for her living. No doubt her relations would have still complained of her irresponsible ways (and the fact that she bought rouge!), but she wouldn’t have been thrown out of the house.

So what happened to Mary?  She did give up her aspirations to become an actress, beg forgiveness and appear to knuckle down to becoming a milliner, although in the last letter, dated June 1806, Mary confesses that she has had to leave her situation in Lichfield, not due to bad conduct but because ‘it is the cry of everyone that my experience is not sufficient to manage a Business’. I’m guessing that although she might have been genuinely penitent, Mary had been somewhat overconfident when she applied for this job and imagined that her millinery skills were much greater than they were. What came of her after that I don’t know, but she did eventually make that ‘honest marriage’. Her eldest brother, William, bequeathed his house and possessions to his sister Mary Victorine Pollock, wife of Hugh Pollock, and their daughter Isabella in his will dated 1864.

Reading through these letters is reminiscent of reading a novel full of fascinating characters. There’s the deceitful and irresponsible young Mary with shades of Lydia Bennet and Becky Sharp about her. Mrs Williams, whose German accent comes out in her spelling (which I’ve tidied up for this blog), and whose temperament doesn’t help her to cope with a trying teenager – not to mention the references to her relationship with Viscount Feilding and her wish for his widow, Lady Feilding, to read the letters he wrote to her, which I can’t imagine she would have been keen to do! Mrs Chaffer’s letters include misspellings with dropped and extra ‘h’s that are in themselves worthy of a character from Dickens. And then there are Nelly Mundy, Mrs Oliver and Mrs Bowdler, trying to deal with all of Mary’s missteps with the air of disapproving matrons from an Austen novel.

The letters are all now individually listed on our online catalogue and some of the catalogue records include full transcriptions. You can read the transcribed letters yourself and see where your sympathies lie.

Charted Territory – celebrating the maps of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site

The Derwent Valley Mills and the surrounding landscape were inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001. This recognition is well deserved as the valley saw the birth of the factory system, when new types of building were erected to house new technology for spinning cotton.

Snaking 15 miles down the valley of the River Derwent from Matlock Bath to Derby the World Heritage Site contains a fascinating series of historic mill complexes. No less important are the watercourses that powered them, the settlements that were built for the mill workers and the remains of one of the world’s earliest railways – all nestling within a stunningly beautiful landscape that has changed little over two centuries.

The building of mills, along with the need to provide housing and other facilities, resulted in the creation of the first modern industrial settlements.  With the expansion of these areas, maps were created to record these developments.

The Charted Territory exhibition, available on the Google Arts and Culture platform, is an exhibition which celebrates not only the informative and often beautiful maps and plans but also the project created to digitise them.   

Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site volunteers working on one of the Strutt maps

Born out of the Great Place Scheme, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England, a dedicated group of local volunteers catalogued over 200 historic maps and plans of the World Heritage Site held at the Record Office. Over 40 of these maps have been digitised to make them easily accessible to researchers.

Many of the maps featured in the exhibition are from the archive of the Strutt family who owned a large amount of land and property in the area.

The Charted Territory exhibition, and other exhibitions from the record office, can be accessed via our website.