A Beginner’s Guide to Copyright

We’ll be running our Beginner’s Guide to Copyright session at Derbyshire Record Office at 10.00 am on Tuesday 28th January.

Copyright

The session will help community groups and individuals understand the basic principles of Copyright law and look at how we can use works which are currently protected by copyright.

What can you do? What can’t you do? What is right and what is copyright?

Tickets are £3.72. To book a place, please use our Eventbrite Page.

A Fraudulent Governess

I recently happened upon some material which piqued my interest: it was a small envelope of correspondence 1896-1900 relating to a former governess to Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe’s daughters, named Miss Adams, who was involved in a court case.  If you’ve read my blog posts about Elizabeth Appleton, you’ll know that governesses have a particular fascination for me, so I felt compelled to find out more about Miss Adams.

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Reference number D2375/F/L/1/1/7

There was a suggestion that Lady Crewe might have to testify and letters from his daughter to the governess might be produced as evidence.  Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe was clearly trying to prevent this happening and distance his family from any scandal.  With a bit of judicious searching on Ancestry, Findmypast, and the British Newspaper Archive (all free to use at the Record Office and your local Derbyshire library)  I found a wealth of information about Sarah A’Court which paints an interesting picture of her.

Within the envelope were three notes from the governess herself to Sir Vauncey in 1896, just before she left his employ.  Sir Vauncey had obviously dismissed her, as her notes show she is unhappy to be leaving.  Her writing is difficult to read, but one letter reads ‘Believe me when I tell you I am so bitterly miserable’:

D2375-F-L-1-1-7-3-snip

As Sir Vauncey was a notoriously difficult man, the fact that he decided she had to go wouldn’t necessarily count against her.  As it transpires, however, Sir Vauncey may have had good reason to dismiss her .

Sarah Elizabeth Hamp Adams was born in 1868, the daughter of a solicitor, Francis Hamp Adams, in Upton Bishop near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.  She claimed to have married on 19 December 1892 but had separated from her husband.  The marriage apparently didn’t take place in England and she would give no further details about this mysterious husband; it’s unlikely he ever existed.

In 1900 she took Mr and Mrs Denny to court for false dismissal and slander.  They had employed her as a governess the year before, but had dismissed her on the grounds that she had been previously employed as a parlour maid by a friend under a different name, Susan Adams.  They therefore didn’t believe any of her references that stated she had worked as a ‘high class governess’ to families like the Harpur Crewes, although as we know, at least some of those references were actually true.  She lost her case, however, when the supposed real ‘Susan Adams’ refused to testify in court.

The case caused something of a sensation in the press, as did its sequel when the governess was tried for perjury at the Old Bailey.  Newspapers reported that Sarah A’Court had tried to pay a young woman to say that she was Susan Adams.  In fact, Sarah had taken the job as a parlour maid under the name Susan Adams and had written her own reference as ‘Countess A’Court’.  She was convicted and sentenced to eighteen months’ hard labour.

News cutting

Suffolk and Essex Free Press 30 May 1900

You would think a perjury conviction might be the end of Sarah A’Court’s desire to take people to court but not so!  With the help of the British Newspaper Archive it’s possible to trace at least some of her further career through her legal actions:

In August 1907 she sued the Great Western Railway Company for damaging some furniture and in December of the same year she was herself successfully sued by two former staff of her dressmaking business, ‘Madame Elizabeth’, for wrongful dismissal.  In 1908 she also sued Messrs Debenham & Co for damages to her business from their delivery of goods – a case which the judge clearly found frivolous.  In June 1911 she sued a former employer for the balance of her salary as governess in Scotland and in December 1915 she sued Lady Elsie Arrol for running her over in her car.  By this time she had a business in Great Portland Street, London as a dressmaker, masseuse, and teacher of Swedish Drill.

She finally appears in court in March 1928 when she is a boarding house keeper in Golders Green and has been accused of falsifying a cheque from one of her tenants.  She is described as hitherto of good character but somewhat eccentric.  She died in 1939.

We often have a mental picture of a governess as a worthy but down-trodden woman.  Not so Miss Hamp Adams alias Mrs Sarah A’Court alias Susan Adams alias Miss Marcia alias Countess A’Court!

Did You Know?

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                 Literary,                                     Dramatic and                         Musical Works

remain in copyright for:

                    70 years after death; or 70 years after creation, or of being made available to the public; if this is within the 70 years of the death of the author.

However, if any of these works are unpublished it may remain under copyright protection until at least 31 December 2039.

Even a published work can remain in copyright until this date, if the author of died before 1969.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act defines Published as the issue of copies to the public, by transfer of ownership (for example, by sale).

This definition also covers electronic copies.

 

A timely festive accession

We have just added to our collection papers of the Buxton & High Peak Royal Naval Association (collection ref: D8311).  They had originally been donated to our colleagues at Buxton Museum but are better placed with us here at the record office.

Among the photographs, news cuttings, correspondence and other papers which form part of the accession, is a rather lovely pamphlet on ‘Christmas Fare’ produced by the Middle East Land Force (MELF) Army Catering Corps.  It is dated 1947 and offers advice on how to “make certain that all ranks will enjoy good fare, this Christmas, and particularly that the very large number for whom this will be the first festive season spent away from home, will not be disappointed.”

The pamphlet features menus and recipes for such festive delights as Christmas pudding (offering two choices of recipe), chestnut stuffing and trifle, along with general advice on how Units could plan their Christmas arrangements, including table layouts and decorations.

We are not sure of who owned the pamphlet but ‘Cpl Harvey’ is written on the front cover. Presumably it is he who has made annotations throughout the pamphlet, often humorous.

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With this rather timely addition to our collections I’ll take the opportunity to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas with every best wish for 2020.

Repairing the Richardson letters

In our Franklin collection is an album containing about a hundred letters, mainly written by Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) to his good friend and fellow arctic explorer, Sir John Richardson (1787-1865). The letters had been stuck into the album with a shiny, translucent tape, which had also been used to carry out repairs. In order to ensure the long-term survival of these letters we decided to remove them from the album: many were loose already and at risk of falling out, and the tape was causing further damage to the paper.

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We carried out a few tests on the repair tape and found that the adhesive was water soluble. The inks used were stable in water, so we were able to wash the letters and remove all remnants of the tape this way. An additional benefit to having washed the letters is that it has flushed out all kinds of dirt and degradation that had become ingrained in the paper, and it has re-invigorated the paper fibres, making the letters feel stronger again.

All the letters have now been repaired with handmade conservation repair paper and wheat starch paste. Here are some examples of letters before, during and after the process:

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In case you were wondering, if in a few hundred years’ time one of our successors wants to remove these repairs in order to treat the letters with whatever amazing technique that may be available then, all they will need to do is wash them again and all our repairs will simply float off.

We have of course saved the original album as part of the collection – if you would like to see it and the letters, just pop in and ask for D8760/F/FJR/1/1/1-92. Or have a look on our catalogue for a description of their contents, as they are full of fascinating information about Franklin’s expeditions, his time in Tasmania, and his home life. But as we are in Matlock, my favourite snippet has to be this from 13 June 1823:

D8760 F FJR 1 1 5 Matlock

‘I went up today to Matlock, and was much delighted with the scenery. I think it equals in richness and the picturesque anything I have seen – though it is not so grand as some we have beheld in America. Mrs Richardson will be gratified to learn that its prettiest parts reminded me of different spots in Scotland.’ (D8760/F/FJR/1/1/5)

Looking out of my window as I type this, with the tops of the hills shrouded in mist, I can only agree!

 

Historic Derbyshire maps available online

With the new Derbyshire Heritage Mapping Portal you can now see how the Derwent Valley from Derby to Matlock has changed over the last 200 years.  Featuring selected maps from the collections at the record office, the portal enables free access to digital copies of the maps and an “overlay” feature so you can see the present and the past at the same time:

1811 estate map (ref: D769/B/11/3) of Kedleston Road, Derby laid over current Ordnance Survey map

Watch this video to discover what you can find on the portal:

 

Although there only a handful of maps are available at the moment (out of the thousands in the collections), we hope that we will be able to add many more to eventually cover the whole county – so something to look forward to for 2020 and beyond!

The biggest map in the collection is over 4.5 metres long and over 3 metres wide (ref: D1564/3)

The portal was made possible with funding from Heritage Fund and the Arts Council, with the tremendous effort and support of Derbyshire County Council’s GIS Officer, the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Co-ordinator and several volunteers who helped to identify the maps for digitisation, and provide additional descriptive information for the online catalogue.

Thanks must also go to the creators and benefactors of the original maps, not only for their existence in the first place, but also for the detail and accuracy with which they surveyed the land and produced the maps – the success of the overlaid images is entirely credit to their incredible skills.

 

Canadian Red Cross Special Hospital Buxton 1915 – 1919

A hundred years ago this year, the building that now houses Buxton Museum was just winding up as a military hospital for Canadian First World War servicemen. Buxton Museum have just posted some fascinating new research about the museum’s hospital years.

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

The building that Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is housed in has a varied past, beginning its existence as a spa hotel in the 1800s before becoming a museum in the 1920s. It also had a brief lesser-known role as a war hospital. Derbyshire Museums Manager Ros Westwood sheds light on this dim chapter of Peak Building’s history:

We are often asked about the role of this building in the First World War.

Peak Buildings

The museum was built in about 1875 as a hydropathic hotel, offering cold water treatments. By 1915 the Peak Hotel was (again) up for sale. The Canadian Red Cross Society secured a lease to establish the Canadian Red Cross Convalescent Hospital, No 2, Buxton

The Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Buxton opened in May 1916, under the command of Lt. Col. H.D. Johnson C.A.M.C.  He would soon be relieved by Major F. Guest (later Lt. Col.) and in…

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Opening hours consultation

Between 11 November and 22 December 2019, we will be consulting about reducing our opening hours from 30 to 22.5 hours a week.

Derbyshire County Council’s budget continues to face huge pressures, with greater demands on adult social care and services for vulnerable children.  The council’s budget for the coming year is around £500 million, with a savings target of £33.4 million.

At its meeting on 11 September 2019 our Cabinet agreed a new Five Year Financial Plan
for the County Council and this included a range of budget savings proposals. One of the areas identified was a review of opening hours and staffing levels at the Record Office to achieve savings of £60,000.

We are now consulting over proposals to reduce the opening hours by a day a week. There is no proposal to change the current pattern of Saturday opening.

Please make sure you have your say, either by filling in a paper consultation form at the Record Office or online at: www.derbyshire.gov.uk/recordofficeconsultation before the closing date of 22 December 2019.