Sunday, April 27, 2014

Final Reflection: Changing History

This will be my last post for this blog, and I just wanted to close out this record of my semester's research for Dr. Bucholz with a brief reflection on the work I've done.
I'll start, unsurprisingly, with history. History, as I have come to learn over my four years at Loyola, is a bit of a tricky word. It's tricky because it is one word that represents two very different concepts: history can mean the events of the past themselves (what happened, when it happened, who did it, etc.); and history as our record, story, and interpretation of those events. The work that I've been doing for Dr. Bucholz deals, I think, with both types, but particularly with the second notion of history, our records and presentation of the past. Generally, in the past, history was only concerned with the doings of the great or notable people: kings, generals, statesmen, religious leaders, great minds, genius artists, etc. Accordingly, past lists of officials of the English courts tended to focus mainly on the great people at court: the King, the Queen, various Princes and Princesses, as well as the various Earls, Duchesses, Knights, and Esquires who formed the social heart of the court. However, the goal of Professor Bucholz's project (and thus the focus of much of my grunt work) is to create a list of court officials that looks beyond just all these beautiful and noble people flitting around Westminster, Hampton Court, and St. James' and to uncover the hundreds of common working people who did much of the work that allowed the courts to function. This is in keeping with the fairly recent trends of social and popular history that have worked to shift the focus of history and historical study away from exclusive focus on the "great", and into a broader view of society as a whole, with a particular emphasis on those who have so often been left out of the historical picture: the workers, the servants, and the great common mass of humanity.
Thus, by charting the names and careers of all of the various working people who made up the courts (the laundresses, the grooms, the watermen, the footmen, and even our friends the turnbrooches) and ensuring their names are recorded for posterity along with the Earls and Princes and Dukes, I have helped create a new and different record of the past, have worked to bring a broader focus to the study of the court, and have, in my own small way, changed history.
I'd like to thank Dr. Bucholz for allowing me this excellent opportunity to help him in his research and to gain some actual experience in the field, and Dr. Roberts for his excellent work in coordinating and advising me and my fellow students throughout the course of this year's History 398 class.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Final Update (Reflection Forthcoming!)

I'm up a bit early on this, my last day of undergraduate classes, to provide one last update on my progress before closing this blog with a reflection piece on what I've done so far, which will be out a bit later this weekend. To my annoyance and disappointment, I discovered some serious formatting problems with my lists that I've had to spend rather a lot of time going back to fix. The lists still are not in the complete and final form in which they would be published/released, but after dealing with some of the format problems (involving a bunch of wrongly entered numbers of Establishment Books and some confusion on proper abbreviations) I think they're at least in a format that will be more useful to Professor Bucholz (or even me) in the future in constructing the more polished versions of the lists.  I've unfortunately not been left with enough time to get into the Notitiae that I've been hoping to get into for weeks now. I'm particularly frustrated with myself since I feel like if I'd not made the mistakes with the layout of the lists in the first place, I likely could have finished all of the raw info gathering and begun to get down to reorganizing the lists for presentation. Still, the raw data gathering was a substantial task that took me the better part of the time I've devoted to this project, and seeing the pages upon pages of names, dates, and positions is some satisfaction, at least. At this point, since I don't like leaving a job like this undone, I may ask Professor Bucholz for the Notitiae so I can put together the final (or at least a more final) version of the lists over the summer, but for now I'm just putting the last few touches on the lists for Caroline and George before sending them in for his evaluation. On that note, I've got to get back to work polishing up what I've got, so I'll close with this Interesting Historical Tidbit(!!!!!!!!) I came across several weeks ago while going through the lists of Prince George's Household, but was reminded of yesterday going over a section of the list:
The Turnbrooch
I came across this position in Prince George's kitchen staff, along with cool sounding positions like Yeoman Cook and Soyl-Carrier for the Kitchen. The Establishment Book listed two Turnbrooches, Thomas Carpenter and Timothy Poole. Their job, possibly the least interesting in the kitchen, was to sit around and turn the meat that was roasting on a spit, which took a while. Fortunately for Thomas and Timothy, they were compensated for their spit-spinning efforts with an annual salary of 30 pounds, which wasn't a bad salary at all for a working person in the 1710s.

A merry young Turnbrooch happily plying his craft.

Source for Turnbrooch Info
Image Source
Interesting Wage Comparison Source

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 14th Update

Due to some business in other classes and some travel, I haven't got as much done in the past two weeks as I might like, but I'm planning on putting the finishing touches on George's list so I can get around to getting the Chamberlayne lists from the Magna Britanniae Notitiae this week so I can complete the set of lists for Caroline and Fredrick soon! I'll try to get a post up this week before Easter break if I can get my hands on the Notitiae giving a bit more background on the source and how I'm going to use them in the lists!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Even More Continuing Collation

I've made some serious progress on George's court list since last week, and am nearing completion on his section of the Establishment Books. I hope to finish with this process by the end of this week or fairly early next week, so that I can pick up the next (and final, I believe) source(s) I'll be using to compile these court lists, the Magna Britanniae Notitiae, which I've described in an earlier post. Once I've finished collating the sources for George's court list, I'm planning on putting up a post comparing the courts of George and Caroline, in terms of size, differences in offices, etc...and I hope to have that up within the next week or so. For now, however, still plugging away!
This week's Interesting Historical Tidbit!!! is actually unrelated to my project, but it's a big example of British History in the news, so I figured I'd throw it in! This is a really fascinating find, and hopefully the archaeologists and researchers who will investigate the site and bodies will be able to learn more about life (and death) in medieval London!
British Experts find Plague Cemetery in Downtown London
Also, an interesting related article:
Apparently Black Death may have been airborne, rather than flea-borne.
Also, as a HUGE admirer of Greater London's Rail Infrastructure, I'm going to shamelessly include a link to the absolutely awesome Crossrail project. The tunneling for this project is what unearthed the skeletons, so its definitely related to British History. Right? Right. (No, but seriously, this is a pretty good source for more info on the find and the ongoing excavations).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Nothing too exciting to report at the moment. I'm still going through George's court officials, continuing to rely on the Establishment Books, which will ideally (time permitting!) be collated with information from Chamberlayne. I hope to have a meatier post midweek with more details on my research, and hopefully a few interesting facts or people I've come across. So, until midweek!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Midweek Update

As I hoped, I've been able to keep making some good progress on the research this week...not having midterms to deal with makes this much easier! I've moved into compiling the list for Prince George, using the Establishment Books to get a sense of some of the nobles and commoners who could be found at his court. Beyond that, though, there's not much of interest to report on the research front, so I thought I'd devote this weeks post mainly to our...
Interesting Historical Tidbit of the Week!
Our tidbit this week will deal with an important aspect of English record keeping I've had to deal with fairly extensively while going through the Establishment Books: the English fiscal calendar.
Like modern businesses and financial systems, the English used a fiscal calender that did not correspond with the regular calendar. The English fiscal calendar was, like modern fiscal years, divided into quarters. These quarters were based on the traditional liturgical year, and the dates were reckoned by the old Julian Calendar, since the new Gregorian Calendar would not be implemented in Britain until the 1750s. The four days that marked the quarters of the year were the following:
  • Lady Day-March 25th. The traditional feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, "Our Lady's Day"...hence "Lady Day". This day marked the beginning of the ecclesiastical and fiscal year.
  • Midsummer Day-June 24th
  • Michelmas- September 29th. The feast of St. Michael the Archangel. As the midpoint of the fiscal year, it is fairly common in the Establishment Books for terms of service to begin or end on this day.
  • Christmas Day- December 25th

Monday, March 10, 2014

Creeping towards Completion of the Continuing Collation of Caroline's Courtiers

In some ways I got a bit ahead of myself with my post two weeks ago. I had hoped to post several updates over the last two weeks, but unfortunately I underestimated the drain midterms would make on my research time, and so didn't get nearly as much as I might have liked done over that week. Fortunately, however, I did get a good amount of research done over Spring Break, and look forward to biting off some more big chunks of the project in the coming weeks now that I'm not weighed down with three different papers every night.
Today's post is going to be a brief update on what I got done over break, and a preview of what I plan on taking care of this week. I've just about finished going through the lists for the court of Princess/Queen Caroline and collating the information in the Establishment Books with the information in Sir John's lists. I've found the Establishment Books to be rather more comprehensive in terms of sheer numbers of names, which Prof. Bucholz told me was likely to be the case, while Sir John tends to have more information on the terms of the officeholders. I suppose it's fairly unsurprising that the Establishment Books are more complete, though, since they are essentially financial records...when in doubt, follow the money!
This week I'll be moving on to Prince/King George II and his court, doing the same thing I've been doing for Caroline, but in this case relying exclusively on the Establishment books. Hopefully, my next step will be to procure .pdf scans of Magna Britannia Notitiae, a series of contemporary lists of court officials compiled by John Chamberlayne.
I look forward to adding a few additional posts this later this week as my research continues to progress!
Interesting Historical Tidbit/Courtier of the Week!
I think this week I'll forgo an interesting tidbit, and instead provide some information about a selected courtier (or, in this case, pair of courtiers) I came across in my research this week: Thomas Fermor, the Earl of Pomfret, and his wife Henrietta. Henrietta Louisa Fermor (1698-1761) served Princess Caroline as a Lady of the Bed Chamber and continued in the same post after Caroline's Coronation, while Thomas (1698-1753) served as Master of the Horse after Caroline's coronation. Although Thomas was born a Lord, he was elevated to Earl of Pomfret, a town in Yorkshire today known as Pontefract, in 1721. Here's a picture of the First Earl of Pomfret:
"My Title is Earl"