Sunday, 30 May 2021

Christina Collins

If you have not heard the story of Christina Collins, find a copy of my Bloody British Histories: Stafford and read the story of the woman who never made it to the rendezvous with her husband, but was murdered on the canal en route.

Four were on that boat - two were hanged, the cabin boy was never charged, but one, William Ellis, was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. However, he was saved by a last-minute reprieve which saw his death sentence commuted to transportation. What happened to him?

We know he departed our shores on 6th April 1841 - sentenced to be transported for 10 years. He travelled aboard the Layton. This was Layton's last voyage of the five it made when transporting convicts to Australia, all but one to Van Diemen's Land. Departing on 13th June 1827, 17th June 1829 (to New South Wales), 26th August 1835, 9th July 1839, and 6th April 1841, the vessel took 1,131 prisoners halfway around the world, 235 of whom were sentenced to life.

Layton arrived in Australia on 1st September 1841 at Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) with 249 other convicts. What happened to him then is unknown, which is revealing in itself as we would expect to find some record had he died in Australia or been released.

If well behaved, the convict could be given a ticket of leave, granting some freedom. At the end of the convict's sentence, seven years in most cases, the convict was issued with a Certificate of Freedom. He was then free to become a settler or to return to England. Convicts who misbehaved, however, were often sent to a place of secondary punishment like Port Arthur, Tasmania or Norfolk Island, where they would suffer additional punishment and solitary confinement.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

When our Planet Earth is not Earth

I thought I'd have a look at the different words for the Earth in different languages and what they actually mean. Most still mean 'earth' but in the sense of 'soil', which was clearly the original sense of 'earth' before it became 'Earth' (if you see what I mean).

Latin - Terra - 'earth' and has given us the name for the planet in many Latin languages.
Romanian - Pamint - again this is 'earth'.
Maltese - Id-Dinija - is different and translates as 'the world'
Dutch - Aards - a little different in 'earthy'.
Scots - Yird - another 'earth'.
Swedish - Jorden - specifically 'the earth'.
Finnish - Maa - again something slightly different, for this is 'land'.
Hungarian - Fold - 'Earth'
Czech - Zeme - again 'Earth'.
Polish - Ziemia - 'earth'
Basque - Lurra - 'earth' again.
Greek - Gaea - is the goddess wife of Uranus, the Greek personification of Earth as a goddess.
Sanskrit - Dhara - not only means 'Earth' but also 'bearer, supporter'.
Gujarati - Prathivi - 'Earth'
Thai - Look - is used to mean 'land, country, mankind, humanity, world. Earth. sphere. globe'. All bases covered there, then.
Irish - An Talamh - translates as 'the land'.
Welsh - Daear - means 'ground'.
Hebrew - Eretz - 'country, land, ground, soil'.
Cantonese - Diqiu - 'Earth'.
Korean - Jigu - 'Earth'.
Japanese - Chikyuu - 'Earth'
Filipino - Daigdig - 'world'.
Indonesian - Bumi - 'Earth'.
Hawaiian - Honua - 'earth'.
Maori - Papatuanuk - 'the land'
Nahuatl - Tlalticpac - literally 'on the ground'.
Swahili - Dunia - 'the world'.
Sesotho - Lefatshe - 'the world'.
Babylonian - Ersetu - was the name of the underworld in the Akkadian language spoken in ancient Mesopotamia.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Bishop Roger de Clinton

In St John Street, Lichfield near the almshouses and the chapel of St John the Baptist hangs a plaque marking the site of the Culstrubbe Gate of the city. This, one of four gates, was erected by Bishop Roger de Clinton (1129-1148). The plaque is attached to what is now the offices of Lichfield Rural District Council, formerly the 16th century grammar school and headmaster's house.

Many famous men were educated here, including the wordsmith Dr Samuel Johnson, actor David Garrick, the Addison family, and Elias Ashmole. The present school of King Edward VI has four houses named after Johnson, Garrick, Addison, and Clinton.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

George Farquhar

A plaque on the George Hotel in Swan Street, Lichfield tells us this was where George Farquahar lived whilst in service as a lieutenant of grenadiers in 1705. He was recruiting troops and later immortalised the place in his comedy The Beau Strategies. More about that comedy can be found in my Coaching Routes of Staffordshire.

Farqhar, an Irish dramatist born in 1677, also penned The Recruiting Officer the previous year. Farquhar died on 29th April 1707, just 52 days after The Beau Strategies' premiere.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Colonel Luke Lillingstone

A blue plaque on the side of the Kings Head in Swan Street, Lichfield tells how, on 25th March 1705, the colonel raised a regiment of foot. This regiment became the 38th foot in 1751, becoming the 1st Staffordshire Regiment the following year, and the South Staffordshire Regiment in 1882.

What is less well known is the 38th Regiment of Foot were first raised as Sir John Guise's Regiment of Foot in 1688 and disbanded in 1694, only to be raised a second time in 1694 (by Colonel Lillingstone) and disbanded two years later.