Untold lives blog

Sharing stories from the past, worldwide

27 February 2020

A Ship-Board Romance: Lucia Green and Captain Luke Dodds

In December 1807, Miss Lucia Green boarded the East India Company ship Walmer Castle, bound for St Helena and a new life with her fiancé, the naturalist William John Burchell.  By the time the ship arrived in April 1808, Lucia had decided to break off her engagement.  And the reason for her change of heart?  During the voyage on the cramped East Indiaman, Lucia had fallen in love with the ship's Captain, Luke Dodds.  Burchell was devastated and never married. But what happened to Lucia and her Captain?

View of the Island of St Helena 1806 View of the Island of St Helena 1806 - Maps K.Top.117.131.e  Images Online

According to the journal of the Walmer Castle, Lucia disembarked at the Cape of Good Hope in June 1808.  In July 1809, she boarded the Warley at the Cape, and reached St Helena in August.  Captain Luke also returned to St Helena that summer, which must have been distressing for William Burchell.  The Walmer Castle arrived back in England in September 1809.  It must have still been love for the reunited Lucia and Luke, because they married in Lingfield, Surrey on 29 May 1810.

Passenger list of the Walmer Castle Passenger list of the Walmer Castle IOR/L/MAR/B/181F

Luke Dodds was 20 years older than Lucia when they met.  He was born in Heworth, near Newcastle in 1768.  He went to sea aged 11 or 12, working the Northumberland coast as a seaman before finding work on the EIC ship Sulivan in 1785.  He worked variously as quartermaster, gunner’s mate, and boatswain on EIC ships on the China run, interspersed with voyages to the West Indies, becoming 1st mate on the Walmer Castle in 1798.  By 1805 he was Captain, and was to stay with the Walmer Castle on its runs to China via India until 1813.  It was a rapid rise, and Dodds would have made a comfortable amount of money on the way during his East India Company voyages.

Description of commanders and mates examined by the Committee of Shipping - entry for Luke Dodds

Description of commanders and mates examined by the Committee of Shipping - entry for Luke DoddsIOR/L/MAR/C/659 Description of commanders and mates examined by the Committee of Shipping. Entry for Luke Dodds, pp.120-121.

The Dodds had two children - Henry Luke, born 5 February 1811, in Woodford, Essex, and Lucia, baptised Hastings, Sussex, 5 July 1815.  By the 1841 census Luke and Lucia were living comfortably in Hythe, Hampshire.  A magistrate, an 'Esquire' and a man of independent means, Luke Dodds died on 28 February 1849, aged 80.  He lived to see his daughter Lucia marry Graham Eden William Hamond on 7 December 1843.  She married well, Hamond being the son of Admiral Sir Graham Eden Hammond.  Unfortunately, the marriage was short-lived as tragedy struck when Hamond died at Woolwich on 23 January 1847 while in command of the steam-sloop Medea.  They had a daughter, Elizabeth Anne, and a son Graham Eden, an officer in the 7th Hussars, who died in 1872.  Elizabeth Ann married the Reverend John Henry Good, vicar of Hythe, in 1879.  Their son Cecil Henry Brent Good was born in April 1880.  In 1948, his daughter (and novelist) Cecily Good, great grand-daughter of Luke and Lucia, married Sir Basil Gould, becoming Lady Gould in the process.

Luke and Lucia's son Henry Luke Dodds never married.  He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and gained an MA from Cambridge in 1843.  He was vicar of Great Glen (or Glenn), Leicestershire from 1855 until his death in May 1886.  By the 1871 census his mother Lucia was living with him in the vicarage.  She died there on 6 November 1878 age 90 and was buried in the graveyard of St Cuthbert's Church.  Her headstone records her date of birth as 7 July 1788, meaning she was just 19 when she met Captain Dodds on that fateful journey to St Helena.  Lucia's headstone reads 'Dearly Beloved and Longed For' and the burial register is annotated (presumably by Henry Dodds) 'eheu! desideratissima' (Alas! Most longed for).  William Burchell may well have agreed.

Lesley Shapland
Cataloguer, India Office Records

Further reading
IOR/L/MAR/B/181F: Log of the Walmer Castle, October 1807-November 1809
IOR/L/MAR/B/182H: Log of the Warley, April 1807-October 1809

Heartbroken on St Helena: the naturalist William John Burchell - Part One and Part Two

 

25 February 2020

17th Century Recipes for Those Feeling Under the Weather

It is that time of year again when almost everyone is getting ill.  Luckily, the British Library manuscript collections are full of historic and innovative gastronomic concoctions to help alleviate your various ailments.

A fine place to start is with the Sloane manuscripts, which contain a formidable number of medical recipes, or receipts, as they were known before the 1700s.  On his death, collector and physician Sir Hans Sloane bequeathed his vast collections to the nation.  Chief among Sloane’s academic interests was medicine and he collected many manuscripts that illuminated approaches to medicine through the ages.  These manuscripts date back as early as the 10th century.  They form a fascinating record of the varying treatments used for illnesses over time, as well as highlighting the persistent impulse to treat ailments with food.

From the 1600’s onwards, we can read some of these recipes in modern English and see just what sort of potions we may have had to drink for an illness had we lived during the 17th century.  Here are a few informative examples:

Recipe for the treatment of consumptionRecipe for the treatment of consumption, Sloane MS 3949

For the treatment of consumption, it was recommended to take 3 pints of cow milk, 12 yolks of fresh eggs, 6 ounces of fine breadcrumbs, 3 ounces of fine cinnamon, 2 or 3 pieces of fine gold (surely a staple of every good chef’s kitchen cupboard), 5 ounces of fine sugar, mix together and bring to the boil.  Then one would drink as much of it at a time as possible, or as the recipe states, as much ‘as you shall think convenient’.

Recipe2Recipe to ward off fever, Sloane MS 3949

This was a nice simple recipe to ward off fever:  Take a piece of white bread and dip it in red rose water, then strew it with sugar and eat it an hour before the fit (obviously it helped to know when you were due to be ill for this one).

Recipe 3Recipe against the plague, Add MS 4376

If you were feeling particularly unwell, had buboes in your armpits and a progressively aggressive fever that hinted at your impending doom, then you more than likely had the plague.  In this case, you would have needed to consult the following advice by order of the Corporation of London.  It involves taking rue, sage, mint, rosemary, wormwood and lavender and infusing them together in a gallon of white wine vinegar (so far, so very Waitrose), cooking them in a pot for eight days, draining the liquid and then applying this to the body every day.  You would also have to pour a bit of the mixture onto a sponge to smell when you happened to pass by a particularly plague-ridden avenue.  This receipt even includes its own product review.  It states that criminals would put some of the recipe on their bodies before robbing the houses of those deceased from plague, and that despite them entering these sites of contagion, they had remained healthy.

Although very different from a modern cough medicine, one can recognise in these recipes a few familiar tendencies, such as: equating infused herbs with health; using warm dairy products to comfort; and the use of sugar to make the mixtures more palatable.

Jessica Gregory
Curatorial Support Officer, Modern Archives and Manuscripts

Further Reading:
Ayscough, S., A Catalogue of the Manuscripts Preserved in the British Museum (London: John Rivington, 1782), 2 vols
Hunter, Michael, and others, eds, From books to bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane and his Collections (London: British Library, 2012)
Scott, E. J. L., Index to the Sloane manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1904)

 

20 February 2020

Baptisms, Barracks, Bazaars: indexing the India Office Records

'Cleverness is not required in an indexer; brilliancy is dangerous.  The desirable quality is clearness.'

So begins The Technique of Indexing (1904), a manual by a pioneer in the field of indexing, Mary Petherbridge.  A graduate in natural sciences from Cambridge University, Mary set up The Secretarial Bureau in London in 1895.  The Bureau offered a range of services; enterprisingly, it also gave training in secretarial and indexing work.  For women, this was an opportunity to learn skills that could help them to earn an independent living.

Mary’s timing was fortunate.  The great department of state, the India Office, held many volumes of historical documents that were effectively unusable because they had no indexes.  Of particular concern were 488 volumes of East India Company letters to India, covering the Company’s history from 1753 to 1858.  In 1901 the Superintendent of Records, Arthur Wollaston, decided that male clerks could not be spared for indexing work.  Women from the Bureau were commissioned instead.

Although freelance, Mary quickly established a firm relationship with the India Office.  She set up an office in the Record Department, at one point even bringing in her own furniture.  There her small staff, usually between four and eight women, indexed the correspondence, Royal Commission reports, and other records.  Mary also acted as the Department’s Dutch and Portuguese translator.  Her business flourished, as her office stationery shows:

Office stationery from The Secretarial BureauIOR/L/R/7/101

For the Bureau, the India Office commission was clearly prestigious.  Examples from the East India Company’s records featured in The Technique of Indexing:

The Technique of IndexingPage from The Technique of Indexing

Mary selected her best pupils to be trained on the India Office premises.  One of these was Theodora Bosanquet, who later was to become well known as the secretary to Henry James.  Years afterwards, Theodora recalled being hard at work in the office when she heard The Ambassadors being read aloud to a fellow pupil – a dictation exercise.  James had approached the Bureau to find a secretary; Theodora volunteered for the role.  The scene that she evokes is an appealing one: James’s words echoing in the offices upstairs, while the business of government carried on in the formal rooms below.

The indexing of the India correspondence was finally completed in 1929.  Mary and her staff had created a remarkable 430,000 index entries, filling 72 volumes.  Not long afterwards, Mary closed down the Bureau.  She herself continued to work as Official Indexer to Government until her death in 1940.

These index entries make up almost a third of the entries in the Records catalogue today.  Mary’s contribution is recorded only in the invoices that she submitted (at a rate of 2s 6d per 100 entries by 1929).  But no one did more to open up the East India Company’s later archives than she.  Generations of researchers have reason to be grateful!

Antonia Moon
Lead Curator, Post-1858 India Office Reocrds

Further reading:
India Office Records: IOR/L/R/6/224
Hazel K Bell, From Flock Beds to Professionalism: a history of index makers (Oak Knoll Press: Hatfield, Herts, 2008)
Theodora Bosanquet, ‘As I Remember Henry James’, Time & Tide, 3 July 1954, pp. 875-76
Mary Petherbridge, The Technique of Indexing (The Secretarial Bureau: London, 1904)