Laura Turner is one of the volunteers at Shropshire Archives converting the catalogue of the Shrewsbury Library Collection (a large collection of assorted historic records that were transferred to the care of the service when archives and libraries merged in the 1990s). Laura reports the below:
Rowland, 1st Viscount Hill
Many of you might believe that autograph collecting, or philography, is a fairly modern phenomenon, but that’s where you’d be wrong. The earliest considered autograph is part of a Sumerian Clay table from c 3100 BC which includes the name of the scribe Gar Ama. The earliest known written autograph is by the major historical figure El Cid which dates from 1098. Recently three autographs were found at the Shropshire Archives. Sir Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill, served in the Napoleonic wars under the command of the Duke of Wellington. He was to become Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in 1828. Another related to William Ormsby Gore, 4th Baron Harlech, who was a conservative politician. The third was that of Charles Cecil Cope Jenkinson, 3rd Earl of Liverpool. These were an interesting find.
Also unearthed were two letters from Tom Stevens, first Bishop of Barking, who was educated locally at Shrewsbury School. His letter is beautifully written and illustrated and addressed to a Gertrude. Born in 1841 he was educated at Sherborne and Magdalene College Cambridge and was the son of Thomas Ogden Stevens of Salisbury. He was awarded a Degree of Doctor of Divinity from Magdalene College in May 1901. His first post led him to Charterhouse School as Assistant Master, later becoming the Bishop of Barking 1901 – 1919. He was succeeded by James Inskip. The second of the two letters was written one month before his death in 1920.
15th century miniature of the Battle of Agincourt
James Link is a volunteer at Shropshire Archives who is assisting in the conversion of one of the catalogues into database form. James takes up the story below:
A catalogue of Deeds and Charters in the Shrewsbury Free Public Library, as it was then known, contains a list of assorted documents which have now come into the possession of the Shropshire Archives. It is a series of leather bound volumes, comprising a numbered list of descriptions written from 1905 onwards. The items are in no particular order; they can originate from vastly disparate time periods.
One such item was a roll of apparent 15th century date. It contained a list of “the names of certain Archers lately assigned to certain Knights and Esquires for the King’s journey through Cheshire”, according to the original catalogue entry. In total there were sixteen knights and squires with 182 archers between them. Many of the surnames belonged to well-known Cheshire families. Several knights on the list were appointed commissioners, as indicated by the abbreviation “Chr.” The question was: who was the king that they accompanied through the county?
Among the knights were representatives of the leading nobility of the county, such as Sir Thomas Grosvenor, an ancestor of the present-day Dukes of Westminster, and William Cholmole, probably an abbreviation of Cholmondeley. The prominences of these names made it possible to conduct a basic internet search to find them on various genealogical websites. To my surprise, several of the knights had lived no later than around 1420 (although the tendency for families to reuse forenames made it difficult to narrow down, a few had only one occurrence in the 15th century). That would suggest the reign of Henry V. In fact, some had even fought in the battle of Agincourt alongside the King, such as Sir Philip Leche, Ralph de Bostok and Sir John Savage. Archers were instrumental there in defeating the much larger French force of armoured knights.
What was still unclear was whether this roll dated from before or after the battle, as Henry returned to France after the victory to consolidate his position, and he may have been travelling through the county either to raise revenue or rally his forces. Interestingly, further research indicated that Cheshire was renowned for the quality of its longbowmen, and Henry (who had been Earl of Chester before acceding to the throne) recruited 700 men from the county in 1415 before the battle. He returned several times subsequently for more men, and biographical details on Ralph of Bostock state that he was one of 15 captains who led 180 archers on another expedition to France. This seems highly likely to be the occasion concerned in the roll.
Fabulous news earlier today about the opening of the magnificent new Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery at the Music Hall. Please see http://shropshire.gov.uk/news/2014/03/shrewsburys-new-museum-art-gallery-set-to-open-its-doors-following-ground-breaking-restoration/ for more information.
‘Discover Shropshire Day’ to be held Saturday 26th April at the Shirehall in Shrewsbury is shaping up to be a really interesting event (see http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/media/825738/Discover-Shropshire-2014.pdf). As well as a myriad of local heritage organisations coming along to display their wares, recruit volunteers and dispense advice and information we have the following speakers:
*Peter Francis, author of ‘Shropshire War Memorials’.
*BBC Radio Shropshire’s Stuart Dunn, talking about the history of Shrewsbury Town FC
*John Stretton talking about the Great War and Albrighton
*Luke Neal from the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, talking about the historical significance of the Shropshire peatlands
*Dr Sarah Knight talking about Fulke Greville and his relationship with Shrewsbury (he went to school here, along with Philip Sidney, whose biography he wrote)
FindMyPast will be there to launch ‘The Shropshire Collection’ the digital Shropshire parish register resource and Alison Pritchard and Emily Nicklin will be on hand to launch ‘Heritage Heroes’, the Arts Council England funded project to facilitate remote volunteering. There’ll be some live music and refreshment will be available. Admission is free and there’s no need to book. More information is available from John Benson (firstname.lastname@example.org/ 01743 255377).
If you connect to Shropshire you’ll love ‘Discover Shropshire Day’!