Jun 252020

My ancestor Richard Hall loved collecting what might be called ‘factoids’ – snippets of information presented as scientific facts, but often rather lacking in accuracy. One of his factoids, stored in his little notebook, reads: ‘Onions afford little or no nourishment; when eaten liberally, produce flatulencies, occasion thirst, headachs and turbulent dreams.’

I must have too much time on my hands, but during lock-down I thought I would do a google search to see where this gem of knowledge came from.

There it is, sure enough, word for word, in a book entitled The New Dispensatory.

It came out in 1753 and although it was not among Richard’s library of books when he died, he may well have acquired a copy, or he may have borrowed it. He was certainly a raging hypochondriac, fascinated by all-things-medical, and his notebooks contain a number of other  entries about drugs, apothecaries and so on. He also loved jotting down remedies and cures. As for the references to ‘flatulencies’ I know that Richard suffered from acute wind and stomach discomfort, as borne out by his numerous diary entries.

Detail from The Apothecary by Pietro Longhi, c. 1752

I see that there is a copy of the first edition of  the New Dispensatory available from Abe Books – for a mere $958, but you’ll need to add shipping! The Abe Books site tells me that William Lewis was a chemist and physician, born in 1708 and living until 1781. Apparently ‘the English dispensatories of the seventeenth and following century were mainly commentaries based on the London and other pharmacopeias, which began to be expanded, more or less comprehensively, in order to work as reference books.’ As  for the  title page stating that it was intended as ‘a correction and improvement on Quincy’, Quincy was apprenticed as an apothecary and published his own ‘English Dispensatory’ in 1721. By 1749 it had already run to twelve editions and many of the prescriptions contained in it were popular throughout the eighteenth century. Quincy had studied mathematics and the philosophy of Sir Isaac Newton, and received the degree of M.D. from the University of Edinburgh.

The book starts with the words:’PHARMACY is the art of preparing and compounding natural substances for medicinal purposes; in a manner suitable to their respective properties and the intentions of cure.’ It goes on to include a long section on all sorts of vegetables, and I can well imagine Richard Hall wading through lists of edibles, finding out what  the side effects were.

Death and the Apothecary, or, The Quack Doctor, by Thomas Rowlandson

Nowadays, he would no doubt have added that onions are about 89% water,  9% carbohydrates (to include 4% sugar, and  2% dietary fibre) 1% protein – and negligible fat. With hardly any calories, who cares if they give you wind, to say nothing of a somewhat powerful breath…

I have never understood why it was usual for pharmacists to hang a stuffed crocodile outside their shop but I was delighted to see that a Nile croc is on display  in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society museum. I don’t think even they know where it came from – or whether it was just a rag week stunt.

O.K. One final Rowlandson to end with – entitled the Apothecaries Prayer. What did apothecaries pray for? A cure to all ailments, an end to Covid 19? No,  quite the opposite! It actually reads:

“Oh mighty Esculapius! Hear a poor little man overwhelm’d with misfortunes, grant I beseech thee to send a few smart Fevers and some obstinate Catarrhs amongst us or thy humble supplicant must shut up shop…”

“and if it would please thee to throw in a few Cramps and Agues, it would greatly help thy miserable servant, for on the word of an apothecary, I have scarcely heard the music of Mortar these two month…”


Jun 182020

We are used to all sorts of indices measuring inflation – retail prices being just one. I always like the Mars Bar Inflation Index, looking at the fluctuating cost of a simple piece of confectionery, after factoring in all the variables such as shrinking bar sizes, alterations to the chocolate content etc. I seem to recall buying Mars bars for around six (pre-decimal) pennies when I was a child – equivalent to two and a half  pence nowadays. Modern bars are now roughly 20% smaller and cost around sixty-five pence. So the inflation rate is around 33-fold over a sixty year period.

And of course we also have the house prices index. Suffice to say that the first house I bought, just half a century ago, cost me £3000. It now can be yours for the bargain price of  half a million pounds – a rise of 166-fold in a fifty year period.

Richard Hall’s calculation of agricultural wages from around 1785

Another index is that of agricultural wages. I was interested to see that my ancestor was sufficiently aware of rising agricultural wages to jot down the  figures. From a day-rate of four pence (one groat) in 1568 it rose by fifty per cent in the next one hundred years, so that it was sixpence a day around the time of the restoration of the monarchy. Over the next one hundred year period it had gone up to one shilling a day – in other words it had doubled in a century, but had trebled over the two centuries.







By 1783 Richard was recording a day rate of one shilling and fourpence and I thought it would be fun just to look at what agricultural wages have done in my lifetime. In reply to a parliamentary question put to the Min. of Ag. and Fish in 1960 I see that the average farm worker toiled for 46 hours a week to earn an average of £8 – for the entire week. The same lucky blighter was only working a 44 hour week by 1969 and yet was being paid  £11/11/-.  Putting that in context, today’s minimum wage is £8.72 per hour which, if you worked a 44 hour week, would give you £383.68 in your pocket every week. So, on my calculations, wages for an agricultural worker have gone up  more than thirty three times over, during a fifty year period.

I am not sure how many working hours there were in a farm workers day in 1760, but let us assume that it was ten. In the two hundred and sixty years between Richard’s calculation of a shilling-a-day in 1760 (five pence in decimal currency rates) and 2020, the rate has risen from 0.5 pence an hour to 872 pence an hour. So, if Richard was concerned at the rate of inflation in his lifetime, you have to wonder how on earth he would react if he knew that wages would be 1744 times higher by the time his great great great great great grandson started rifling through his jottings and memoranda …

And to end with, no post is complete without a Rowlandson, so here is his: Rural Sports, or a Pleasant Way of Making Hay, printed in 1814 and shown courtesy of the excellent  Metropolitan Museum

Apparently, not such a hard life after all, being a farm labourer…..


Apr 112019

In 1758 Richard Hall was living in the area of Southwark called the Bridgefoot when London Corporation decided “to do something” about London Bridge. Until 1749 it had been the only structure linking the North and South banks of the River Thames, but the medieval bridge was hopelessly outdated. I rather like the description of it as “a wall with holes in it” since ships were held up for days trying to pass through the narrow gaps between the arches. Pedestrians jostled and fought their way across the carriageway, threading their way round the shops and houses cluttering up the road.

A View of London Bridge before the Late Alterations engraved 1758 by Samuel Scott circa 1702-1772

A View of ‘London Bridge before the Late Alterations’ engraved 1758 by Samuel Scott and shown courtesy of the Tate Gallery

Parliament finally got round to tackling the problem in 1756 when it passed a Bill enabling the Corporation to  buy up and demolish the buildings littering the superstructure, and to improve the access routes. A passage of thirty one feet open for carriages, and seven feet on each side for foot passengers, was to be constructed and it was directed that there should be a balustrade on each side. The Corporation were authorised to demolish one or more of the central piers so as to create the new Great Arch.

Pulling down the shops and tenements, and dismantling the central pier would have caused chaos if temporary arrangements had not been put in place to enable pedestrians to continue to be able to cross the river. A decision was made to construct a temporary wooden bridge immediately along the western side of the stone bridge, supported on the starlings (lozenge-shaped buttresses on either side of the piers).

The improvements didn’t go down too well with the ferrymen who made their living transporting people across the river: there is every indication that it was a disgruntled river worker who set fire to the temporary structure on the night of 11th April 1758.


A reward of two hundred pounds was offered to catch the culprit but no-one was brought to justice. The temporary bridge had been totally destroyed in the blaze and workmen had to start all over again.

bridge 2

Grace’s Guide has this picture of the fire , and I can well imagine Richard rushing down to the river bank at eleven o’clock at night to see the blaze which had just broken out.

The British Museum site has this etching  showing the damaged bridge the day after the fire, with its central pier missing:

In the foreground you can see the timbers from the temporary bridge structure floating on the river. Ironically when the bridge repairs were finally accomplished it left the Corporation of London with a spare piece of land on the City side of the river (on the extreme left, just in front of the spire of the Wren church of St Magnus the Martyr). Here, my ancestor constructed a haberdashery shop and four-bedroom house  above – the original Number One London Bridge.

Mar 242019

Richard Hall rarely mentioned party politics in his diaries – I suspect that he simply wasn’t that interested. But he did mention politics and current events if he felt that they represented a threat to stable government and the rule of law.

This is his entry in a review of the year 1784.

Gt Seal

Thieves had broken into the Gt Ormond Street house of Lord Thurlow, the Chancellor, and had stolen the Great Seal, complete with its leather pouch and silk container. It was never recovered and a new seal had to be hastily made the next day. It was all part of a period of turmoil in Britain’s parliament linked to the rivalry between William Pitt, the Prime Minister, and Charles James Fox, the leader of the opposition.

Pitt had been endeavouring to govern from a power-base in the House of Lords. Indeed he was the only member of the government to have a seat in the House of Commons, with all the other Ministers being peers of the realm. But Pitt enjoyed the support of King George III and managed to resist all of the attempts by Fox to force him to resign.

In March 1784 Pitt asked George III to dissolve parliament so he could hold a General Election. Foxite supporters were believed to have been behind the plot to steal the Great Seal, a symbol of royal authority. In the event Pitt was returned to power and 160 opposition M.P.’s lost their seats. Caricaturists of the time suggested that the theft was part of a plot by the Prince of Wales, aided and abetted by Fox, to undermine the power of the Government. Here, a caricature from 1784 showing Fox, dressed as Falstaff, supporting the PoW on his shoulders while he takes delivery of the Great Seal, being handed to him out of the window by a man believed to be Colonel Richard FitzPatrick, who is disguised by wearing a stocking mask. Fitzpatrick was a lifelong friend of Fox, but in reality there is no shred of evidence to suggest that he theft was anything but the work of a petty criminal.

The adventures of Prince Pretty Man, courtesy of the British Museum

Lord Thurlow,From a painting by Thomas Phillips, R.A. By permission of the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery. Lord Thurlow, from a painting by Thomas Phillips, R.A.
By permission of the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery.

But for Lord Thurlow it must have been an embarrassing time, losing the ultimate symbol of his authority. For Richard? Well, it was a time of turmoil and uncertainty – not good for business! He was definitely a Law’nOrder man, who hated any challenge to the status quo because it might be bad for trade.

A wax impression of the reverse of the present Great Seal of England.

Feb 132019

Richard Hall’s diaries for 1780-85

I last kept a diary when I was at school, rather a lot of years ago, but I remember one thing about the diaries – Letts made them – and that was that they always showed the phases of the moon. Which struck me as slightly odd, because nowadays it matters very little whether it is a new moon, a full moon, or something in between. Unless you are a vampire. Or believe that you should only sow seeds in your vegetable garden if the moon is full.

But I suspect that our Georgian ancestors would have taken a very keen interest in the moon, not least because it could make a huge difference to travel times and to the cost of travel.

Take the trip from London to Bath – normally a two-day journey. The person arranging the coach would need to factor in an overnight stop, including dinner and breakfast the next day, when calculating the ticket price. But if it was a full moon, as long as the roads were in decent repair (i.e. no potholes, like there are in today’s roads, because a broken axle was best avoided!) the coach could simply keep going through the night. OK the carriage lamps were not exactly headlights and perhaps were more used to make sure people could see you rather than so that you could see them, but every little bit helps. Especially if you wanted to be able to see if there were people lurking in the undergrowth at the side of the road, ready to hold you up at gun point….

The highwayman – Stand and Deliver!

I have previously used these two paper cuts by Richard to show the difference which the Turnpike Trusts made to road transport in the middle of the 18th Century:

Before: note the front wheel about to crash down over a large rock…

After: – a smoother road surface

The attempted Jacobite uprising in 1745 drew attention to the appalling state of the roads – troop movements were hampered because equipment got bogged down as the army tried to move north. It led to a great push to improve the roads throughout England, funded by each locality via tolls raised at turnpikes across the land. Roads became safer, rides became more comfortable…

 So I was interested to see that Richard Hall recorded a novelty (for him) in his diary: a night-time trip from London on the Gloucester coach. “Thursday 23 March 1780, set out in the Gloucester Coach after Dinner, to travel all night – was thru the goodness of God very kindly preserv’d”. There was a frost and Richard remarked that it was cold in the morning. In the early hours of Friday 24 March they reached Oxford at a quarter past two, took an early breakfast, got to Burford between 7 and 8, and had a second breakfast. I imagine that he then changed coaches, because he got to Bourton on the Water at midday. (“Oh what occasion for thankfulness. A frost, cold day, rain at night”).

On checking the records, I see that there had been a full moon at around the time of his journey. I suspect that he must have been pretty knackered after travelling all night – unless the rattling monotony of the coach sent him to sleep. He certainly didn’t have a busy schedule the next day – the only appointment was to “take teas with Mr Palmer”.

I am sure that the overnight journey would not have been attempted if there had been no moon to guide the way – a reminder of just how much the Georgians were dependent upon planetary movements. In the summer Richard got up 15 minutes earlier every week from the beginning of April, meaning that he would be rising at 4 a.m. by the end of August – but in the winter he hibernated, unless, of course, the moon was full so that he could prowl the Gloucester countryside…

Sep 262018

228 years ago my ancestor Richard Hall noted that following the passing of the Duke of Cumberland, there was a period of mourning at Court which was to last six weeks. The entry echoes the way that my ancestor always referred to the monarch as “good” King George. He clearly approved of the King, sympathised with him over his bouts of illnesses, and previously had remarked whenever there were signs of recovery.

DoC 001 I am not quite clear why the period of general mourning was delayed, since Prince  Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn, actually shuffled off this mortal coil on 18 September. Perhaps it took a week for anyone to notice…. the Prince was the son of Prince Frederick, and was 44 at the date of his death. I like the man because of his colourful affairs. When caught in flagrante with the wife of Lord Grosvenor he was sued for damages in crim. con. and ended up having to touch up his brother (the King) for ten thousand pounds, plus costs of three thousand pounds. Lawyers, even then, didn’t come cheap!

On the debit side, he helped popularise Brighton by introducing the Prince of Wales to the delights of sea bathing and general carousing, away from the court of George III. I don’t think I can forgive him for that, because Brighton has been a nightmare for motorists ever since…

What else was happening to ancestor Richard Hall on This Day in History? Well, in 1780 it was “a fine day, very warm”, but Richard omits saying what he did with his time so he may well have been sitting around with his feet up, catching the late autumn rays! The following year was positively hectic, as he caught the Oxford Stage and got there,  in safety, in time for a spot of Supper. It was a fine day mind you, but “very Cold”. In 1782 it was the night of the Harvest Supper (“pretty fine day, mild”). The following year was “a delightful fine day” spent taking tea with Mr Freeman, dining with Mrs Snooke,and attending a sermon taken from Jeremiah  2, part 31. Things hadn’t improved by the following year when it was ” very wet in the morning, after, part dull, fine-ish with some rain in the evening.” So, nothing exceptional  ever happened on 26 September, and then to cap it all, Richard would have had to close his shop just because the Duke had popped his clogs….

It is however interesting to compare and contrast what Richard had to say, with the comments made by his brother-in-law William Snooke. Richard always wrote about the weather, whereas William never once tells us if it raining or shining. Instead, he busied himself on 26 September 1775 saying that he”went afield and had a syllabub instead of Tea”. That day he also mended the stucco, and paid two shillings to Thomas Reynolds for half a hundred crayfish which he had “had some time ago” and forgotten to pay for! The year before that he had attended Burford Fair, while “Mrs Dunn and Mrs Roper went to Cirencester in a chaise a little after 8 o’clock”. He appears to have had a full house that night, because he notes that  “Mr Willis and Mr Whiting also supp’d, and slept in our house in one bed”. (Mind you, I can still remember  the family putting up people in a shared bed, usually end to end!).

Good old William: he always jotted down if he had a memorably fine  meal, and on this day 1768 he “din’d on a Gammon of Bacon, Apple Dumplings and Fillet of Veal”. It must have put him in a good mood, because he promptly gave his wife a present of five guineas, paid one shilling and sixpence for a hare, and “gave an old man at Mr Freeman’s one shilling.”

Somehow I get the impression that William always enjoyed 26 September (and every other day of the year come to that) rather more than Richard did!

Apr 262018

Following on from high-lighting some of Richard’s lists, here is a repeat of an earlier blog about the entire list of household contents at One London Bridge, at the time when Richard’s son William was in residence:

When Richard and  William terminated their partnership (selling hosiery and general haberdashery from Number One London Bridge) they commissioned an Inventory of the items at the premises. This excluded trade items but covered all the furniture and effects, right down to bed-linen, pictures and books. The inventory was dated 15th May 1794. William stayed a haberdasher but concentrated on the import of silks – and eventually became Master of the Haberdashers Guild (1820). His place in the family business was taken by his younger brother Francis, who remained living over the shop for another twentyfive years.

The list reveals that the building (other than the shop and counting room) consisted of thirteen separate rooms. No mention is made of a privy – presumably because it was outside.

Even the shop had a feather bed – no doubt because an apprentice slept there overnight. Indeed it is the sheer number of beds which catches the eye. Assuming that a bolster would not have been appropriate to a single bed, it looks as though there were seven double beds, one single, plus a “straw pallice” i.e. palliasse. In theory sixteen people could be in occupation. From the description of the Hall household it is assumed that there were only two domestic servants “living in” – presumably in “Room No. 3 – Left hand” with its “Stump bedstead…a wainscoat chest of drawers, round table, square dressing glass” (i.e. mirror) and stove with “tin fender”.

The other rooms contain rather more furniture and benefit from “window curtains” (as distinct from “bed curtains”).

In the main bedroom there is a half tester bed (i.e. with a canopy) with what is described as “Harrateen furniture” (Harrateen being a type of woollen fabric, used here for the drapes, canopy and curtains). The main bed had a goose feather mattress and pillows – other mattresses appear to have been mostly “feather” (of unspecified origin) or “flock” or straw. “Scotch carpet” appears to have been laid in strips – presumably around the sides and bottom of the bed – in most rooms. Only the Dining Room had a Wilton carpet.

As the Hall family would only have justified half the beds, the rest were either an indication that rooms were let out (a common way of generating an income, then as now) or shows rather more than one apprentice or shop assistant living in.

I appreciate that a mere list can seem as dry as dust, but just in case any novel writers out there are looking for authenticity, here is the list of all the things at One London Bridge this week, 218 years ago.

Inventory of the Household Furniture Linen China & Books taken at Mr Wm. Hall, hosier

No.1 London Bridge May 15, 1794

No. 1 Right hand and spair back

A half-tester bedstead and crimson Harrateen Furniture

A goose-feather bed, bolster and pillow. 2 blankets and a quilt

A truckle bedstead – a feather bed. Bolster, three blankets and a quilt

A walnut chest of drawers. 6 stained chairs – canvas seats

A corner night chair. A table clock – black Ebony Case by Smolling (?).

3 slips of carpets. A Harrateen window curtain

No 2 Right hand front

A bath stove, serpentine fender. Shovel, tongs and fender

A 4-part bedstead, Linen furniture. A feather bed, bolster & pillow

3 blankets. A linen quilt. A pair glass in a walnut tree Gilt frame.

A walnut tree kneehole dressing table. A ditto low chest of drawers.

6 black dyed chairs – matted seat A square Scotch carpet 2 slips of Ditto.

A wainscoat. Pillow, Chair, Table.  5 paintings on Glass.

No 3 left hand

A Stump (?) bedstead. A feather bed bolster & pillow. 3 blankets a wainscoat chest of drawers a ditto round table. A square dressing glass

A Scotch carpet. A brass front stove, tin fender.

No 4 Back room

A high wire fender. A parrot cage. 3 Cloaths horses. A large round table

A (?) Lanthorn (lantern). Sundry boxes. A folding board and sundries

A hatch and stairs

No. 5 Spair back room

A 4 part bedstead with Green Damask furniture – a goose feather bed bolster,

2 pillows, a flock mattress. A blanket, a green damask window curtain.

A Mahogany one drawer table. An oval swing Dressing Glass.

4 Mahogany Chairs – horse hair seats. Sundry fossils and shells.

A  basin stand, a wainscoat bureau. A Scotch carpet to go around the bed.

No. 6 – Spair right hand front room

A bath stove. Shovel tongs and poker. A 4 part bedstead, mahogany feet.

Pillows. Printed cotton furniture. A feather bed, bolster, 2 pillows. A straw pallice.

3 blankets, a white cotton counterpane. 2 sets of cotton festoon window curtains.

A compress front mahogany Chest of drawers. A swing glass in a Mahogany frame.

A Mahogany double chest of drawers. 6 Mahogany chairs, horsehair seats.

A Scotch carpet and 2 bedsides (i.e. slips). A Mahogany basin stand Jug and Basin

A small ditto Cloaths Horse. Side bed. A small feather bed.

2 pillows, 2 flannel blankets a Marseilles quilt, an India picture. 2 China jars & Covers. 2 ….(?) & 2 pieces blown glass.

No. 7 – Spair left hand

An iron grate on hearth stones. A harrateen window curtain & rod

A Mahogany cloaths press with folding doors & drawer under.

A Mahogany bureau. A small ditto. An easy chair. Cushion. Linen case.

A Scotch carpet 2 setts of window curtains. ….….(?) A purple ditto.


4 Diaper Table cloths,2 small ditto. 4 Damask Breakfast Ditto

4 Diaper Table Cloths. 1 pair Lancashire Sheets

4 pairs Russia Ditto, 3 pair Ditto. 2 pair Lancashire Ditto, 2 odd sheets

8 pairs Pillowcases, 6 Diaper Hand Towels. 9 Huckerback towels – 2 Jack Ditto

2 old Ditto. 20 hand towels. A breakfast cloth – 2 Pudding Ditto

A cotton counterpane. A sett of blue check bed Curtains


One vol. Folio ½ bound. 1 Ditto unbound. 5 Ditto 4to (Quarto). Plates to ditto. Miscellaneous Tracks (tracts) relating to Antiquity. Baileys Dictionary. Buchans Domestic Medicine. Thompsons Travels. Non-conformists Memorial, 2 volumes, Winchesters Tracks. Philadelphian Magazine. A Dictionary. Harveys Meditations. Herberts Poems. James Beauties (?). 36 bound books. Sundry pamphlets – 4 bound. Pashams Bible. Hymns & Psalms. A family bible. Crudens Concordances. Clark on the Testament.4 maps of Europe Asia Africa & America. An orrery. 3 Portraits framed & Glazed.

No.8 Spair back room

A fretwork Mahogany Tea Table. A Japan Ditto. A variable (?) one-draw Table.

A Draft Board. A slip of floor cloth. Sundry stones shells & fossils.

A painting of fruit, sundry shells in a drawer.

No. 9 Dining Room

Fender shovel Tongs & Poker. 3 sett of blue Damask festoon window curtains.

A steel stove.  2 oval pier glasses in carved gilt frames. A square pillar & claw Table.

2 square mahogany Dining Tables with 2 flaps.  A round Ditto.

A Mahogany Dumb Waiter. 6 Ditto Chairs Sattin hair seats brass nailed. 2 Elbow Ditto. A Wilton carpet.

A marble slab on a Mahogany stand – a Mahogany book Case, Glass Doors.

A Harpsichord in a walnut tree case by Kirkhoffe …(?), a violin, a flute, a high Mahogany Chair, a Ditto stool, a Japan’d Urn, a Mahogany stand, 2 waiters.

Cut(lery) and knife tray. Sundry Moths & insects framed & Glazed. Sundry Stones Shells & Fossils. A Canary Bird & Cage. A Mahogany Knife case.

A set of cruets with Silver Tops – 2 small miniature portraits.

No. 10 Kitchen

1 Trivet, 2 Crane Hooks. Footman(i.e. kettle stand) 2 Spits…(?) Dripping Pan Stand.

2 Gridirons. A copper Boiler. A Tea Kettle. 2 Porrage pots & covers. 3 Saucepans.

A chocolate pot. A pair of Princes metal candlesticks. 1 pr shorter Ditto.3 high brass Ditto. A brass ladle. A tin fish kettle plate & cover. 5 Saucepans & covers.

6 candlesticks. 10 patties. Loose tea ware (?). Bread basket. Japan Sugar Ditto. 3 Tin Cannisters. 14 Oval & round dishes.12 large plates. 6 small Ditto.

Sundry Queens Ware. 4 water (?) plates. A meat steamer(?) lined with Tin. A Deal table with 2 flaps.6 wood chairs. A pair of bellows. Salt box. Spice Box.2 sieves. A Japan Patent Jack. A Deal cupboard under Dresser. A Hatch on stairs.

No. 11 Store Room

An eight day clock in a walnut tree case by Wright. A Square Mahogany 2-flap Dining Table. A 2-flap Deal Table. A small cloaths horse. A plate warmer.

2 Frying pans. A footman (i.e. kettle stand). A tin Fish Kettle. A copper warming pan. A brass Ditto. A small Lanthorn (lantern). A Japan Tea Tray. 3 Flat irons & 2 stands.

A pewter(?) water dish. 4 round dishes. 10 plates. A tureen. A copper stew pan. A bell. Metal Saucepan.

1 brass 1 copper Urn. Part of a set of China containing 35 pieces. A tea-pot

Cover.6 cups & saucers. 6 blue and white cups & saucers. Basin. 6 candle

Basins & Saucers. 27 china plates. 3 Ditto bowls. A dragon basin. 2 mugs.

A tureen cover. 14 soup plates. 4 Dishes. 9 Patties. 4 basons.2 jugs. 4

Round dishes. 15 pieces of Queens Ware.4 Red dishes & sundry Jars. 2

Glass Decanters. 20 wine & jelly Glasses. A Tumbler. A Mahogany

knife tray. 2 Waiters. 1 Japan Ditto. Candle box, lamp, 2 pairs of plated

Candlesticks. A dish cross (?). 2 pairs of snuffers. A plated stand. A plated

Cruet (?) with 5 glasses. 12 brown-handled knives & forks.12 small Ditto.

10 forks.

Shop No. 12

A feather bed, bolster & pillows. 2 blankets & a rug.

No. 13 Cellar

A beer stand. 2 wash tubs. 2 pails. Sundry Garden Pots

All the Effects in the Foregoing Inventory is valued at One Hundred & Twenty Five pounds fifteen shillings & 6d by

John Fletcher

for Samuel Burton, Houndsditch.

The family interest in astronomy was reflected in the “orrery” – a clockwork mechanism used to show the movement of the planets around the sun, and named after the Earl of Orrery. Some years earlier the Earl had commissioned the instrument maker J Rowley to make just such an instrument copying the invention of George Graham.

The list of linen is interesting with its reference to “Diaper Table Cloths” – diaper meaning “diamond patterned”, Huckerback towels – which the Oxford Dictionary defines as being “made of stout linen or cotton fabric” and “Jack Towels” meaning roller towels. The family appear to have been musical, with a “harpsichord in a Walnut Tree case” along with a violin and a flute. Ornaments seem to have been dominated by shells and fossils,many of which are still in my possession, along with miniature portraits and “sundry Moths and Insects framed and glazed”.

Even the canary in its cage was listed in the inventory (in the Dining Room, next to the Mahogany Knife Case). The parrot cage in the Back Room was presumably without an inmate (since none was mentioned) but indicates the popularity of keeping caged birds as pets.

The total value of the entire household contents came to a modest £125.15s.6d. (the equivalent of perhaps £6,500) but this may well have reflected that at ten pounds per room this was a “family valuation”.

A picture showing One London Bridge (then, the postal address of premises North of the River Thames, immediately to the left of the Church of St Magnus the Martyr, and behind the old water wheel).

Many more details about One London Bridge can be found in The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman but I find it fascinating to think that I actually know in which room in the house some of the items I now own were originally kept.

Apr 232018

Richard filled book after book with distances between towns which he visited, sometimes combined with the turnpike fees paid along the way. Here his list gives  the distances by road when travelling from Bath to Bristol, from Gloucester to Bath and from Bourton to both Stow-on-the-Wold and to London. Richard would also follow his progress on journeys by looking at the route on his linear maps, such as this one, showing a journey between Bristol and Banbury:

More lists – and what they meant – in the Journal of a Georgian Gentleman !

Apr 192018

My ancestor Richard Hall loved lists – even lists of lists. Quite why some of these lists have survived the centuries is a bit of a mystery. OK, it has helped that the males in my family have all been inveterate hoarders, but I still find it strange that at no stage  have any of the women in the family come along and binned the whole lot, as being a load of rubbish. Only now, 250 years, can you say that they have any historic value!

Take Richard’s shopping lists: I have dozens of them. This is an example, showing two sets of purchases from ‘Messrs Johnson’ – which I take to be the name of a shopping emporium in Burford in the Cotswolds (the nearest large town to where Richard lived).  Decipher it yourselves – and let me know if you hit any stumbling blocks and I will give you a transcription!

Apr 172018

My idea of packing for a few days away is to put a few things in a suitcase and hope that I have remembered something waterproof. My Dear Lady’s Wife has a rather different approach: she sits down and makes a list. (Boring!)

She would therefore empathise with ancestor Richard Hall: he never went anywhere without making a list – of how far the journey was, what it cost, how long it took, where he stayed, what he ate – and what he needed to pack for the journey. Take a five day trip, made in May 1784. Here is his packing list:

I will refrain from spoiling the fun by translating the handwriting. Suffice to say I like the idea that you had a silk waistcoat for evening-wear, quite separate from the white dining waistcoat, and from the cloth (‘cloath’) waistcoat and coat for outdoor wear.

The list ends with muflatees – fingerless gloves to help keep the hands warm in an unheated post chaise. And I am glad he remembered his night-caps – two of them!