|Some Factual Bits of Silhouettes in a Silent Land
I spent many hours researching facts about the times, locations, dialect, wildlife, dress etc. to make my story telling as accurate as possible. The novel lists all the pertinent facts as endnotes
Here are just a few of them:
For over 300 hundred years, Shibden Hall was the home of the Lister family, but the house itself is even older, first built in about 1420. Many generations of people and their families have lived and worked here, and all have left their mark on its history. It was the home of the Lister family from 1615 to 1933. Dr John Lister who had a practice in Sandown on the Isle of Wight inherited the Hall in 1855. The family shared their time between the Hall and the Island. On the doctor's death in 1867, he was succeeded by his son John.
Charles Phillips (my great x 3 grandfather) was born on the Isle of Wight. In the 1841 and 1851 censuses, he is listed as an agricultural labourer. By 1861, he was the gardener at Shibden Hall, no doubt hired by Dr Lister on the island.
In 1871, he was still working for the Listers and living in Garden House, which, although no longer standing, is thought to be a cottage in nearby Cunnery Wood where the remains can still be seen. The 1871 census also shows Charles's granddaughter Jane Price working as a maid at the Hall.
The present Dinder House was built by Rev. William Somerville, who inherited the estate from his father Hon. George Somerville in 1782. William died in 1803 leaving the manor to his widow for life. Upon her death in 1830, it devolved under his will to his nephew and heir James Somerville Fownes, esq. (who assumed under a royal grant made 1st January 1831, the name and arms of Somerville, pursuant to a condition of the will of the late Rev William Somerville). James's eldest son William died young and it is his second son James Curtis who would have been the resident heir to the estate when Jim was gamekeeper. He married fairly late in life aged thirty-eight in 1846. Two years later when his father died, he inherited the manor.
William Huntington (the preacher that so influenced my great x 4 grandfather, Robert Clark in my story) was born William Hunt in Cranbrook in Kent. He was an orthodox but controversial Calvinist preacher whose early life had been somewhat less than Christian. He changed his name when he moved to London. After being "saved", he added the initials S.S. to his name, which stood for "Sinner Saved". He founded several Calvinist chapels in London and the South East. Huntington died in 1813 and was buried in a small graveyard behind the Chapel. The inscription on his tombstone reads: "Here lies the coalheaver who departed his life July 1st 1813 in the 69th year of his age, beloved of his God but abhorred of men. The omniscient Judge at the grand assize shall ratify and confirm this to the confusion of many thousands, for England and its metropolis will know that there has been a prophet amongst them."
The Weavers & the Luddites
In Daniel Defoe's book of 1724, he recorded his journey through Great Britain and describes the working and living conditions of the labouring classes he found on his travels:
"and so nearer we came to Halifax we found the houses thicker and the villages greater. If we knocked at the door of any of the master manufacturers, we presently saw a house full of lusty fellows, some at the dye vat, some dressing the cloth, some in the loom. These people are full of business, not a beggar not an idle person to be seen. This business is the clothing trade."
In the early months of 1811 the first threatening letters from General Ned Ludd and the Army of Redressers, were sent to employers in Nottingham. It is probable that Ned Ludd never actually existed but was a fictional character invented by the agitators themselves, which led to them being known as Luddites.
On 9th March 1812 a letter was delivered to a Mr Smith of Huddersfield, signed by "the General of the Army of Redressers, Ned Ludd, Clerk":
"Sir: Information has just been given in that you are a holder of those detestable Shearing Frames and I was desired by my Men to write to you and give you fair warning to pull them down... You will take Notice that if they are not taken down by the end of next week, I will detach one of my Lieutenants with at least 300 Men to destroy them. We will never lay down our Arms... [until] the House of Commons passes an Act to put down all Machinery hurtful to Commonality, and repeal that to hang Frame Breakers..."
The Factory Acts
The 1833 Factory Act had limited the working hours of children. Those aged under twelve were only allowed to work eight hours a day and older children only twelve hours. It also stipulated that no one under eighteen could work between 8.30 p.m. and 5.30 a.m. and that, all children between the ages of nine and thirteen working in factories, were to be given two hours education a day. In 1844, a law was brought out forbidding the employment of any child under eight years old and three years later, the 1847 Factory Act stated that women and children could only work 10 hours a day in textile mills. This was later extended to all factories.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the chimney sweeps had their own cant or secret language. A derivation of 18th century slang, it was chiefly adapted by dishonest sweeps to deceive their customers. For example when a customer refused to pay the demanded fee for a particularly difficult chimney, a Master might call up to the climbing boy to "pike the lew" which meant to leave the top half of the chimney unswept.
The Swing Riots
The Swing Riots was an uprising of agricultural labourers, protesting at the conditions they were forced to work in and the poverty they lived in. They name swing came from the mysterious "Captain Swing" who like "Ned Ludd" two decades earlier had written letters of protest to the upper echelons of society. Labourers didn't have the vote or any way of protesting lawfully so frustrations began to build as working conditions continued to slide after the Napoleonic wars. Wages fell and jobs became scarce.
When the threshing machine (used to separate grain from stalks and husks) was introduced, labourers were deprived of their winter work. In August 1830 farm workers set fire to a threshing machine in Kent, in a desperate bid to highlight their plight and need for fairer wages. This was the first reported incident of the Swing Riots. They quickly spread across southern Britain and on 8th November 1830, they arrived in Wiltshire. A Special Commission was quickly set up to deal with the worst affected counties. In Wiltshire 339 of those arrested were tried. 139 were acquitted, 47 jailed, 52 sentenced to death, of which 1 was executed and 152 transported; 36 landed in New South Wales and 115 in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). By the 1840s after much pressure from the public, most of those transported were pardoned, although few returned home.
One of the many arrests was made at the Green Dragon Inn at Alderbury where a dozen rioters were gathered.
Smuggling started in the reign of Edward I, about 1300, when a customs duty was placed on the export of wool, which was in great demand in Europe. This was the first permanent customs system established in England, and until it was set up all trade in and out of England was free. In 1614, the export of any wool was made illegal, and so the volumes being exported increased the smuggling of wool. This was known as Owling after the owl like noises the smugglers made to communicate with each other. By 1724, the number of wool smuggling runs was reducing, as the French could get wool from Ireland for about the same price, but with less problems. Import smuggling became more common than export as excise was increased on items such as brandy and tea, the latter selling for eight times the cost price if duty had not been paid.
Various deterrents and Acts were passed during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1671 Charles II created the Board of Customs, prior to that the collection of Customs Duties was generally let out to private individuals.
During the 1680's the Revenue Officers were provided with Customs sloops to enable them to patrol the coasts, and catch the smugglers.
In the 1717 Smuggling Act, those caught who refused to plead guilty were liable to transportation.
In 1724, Robert Walpole imposed excise duty on tea. In 1729, duties were increased on spirits.
1736 saw the introduction of harsher penalties; severe fines for bribing officers, death for wounding or taking up arms against officers, transportation for resisting arrest if unarmed. An Act of Indemnity was given to all smugglers if they confessed and gave the names of associates.
The 1746 Act imposed even harsher penalties. The death penalty was given for running contraband or harbouring smugglers. The killing of officers became punishable by gibbeting.
In 1782 came the Act of Oblivion. Smugglers could redeem their crimes by joining the army or navy.
In 1784, the duty on tea and French wines was reduced by Pitt the Younger, being replaced by increasing window tax.
There is a settlement certificate for my great x 5 grandfather, Cephas Tree, who moved to Hastings in the middle of the 18th century.
After the introduction of the Settlement Act of 1662, it was mandatory for each person to have a parish of legal settlement. This was the only parish in which they were entitled to receive poor relief. The parish of settlement was usually a person's parish of birth, or where they had lived or worked for at least a year. A person had to undergo a settlement examination by the vestry or Justices of the Peace in order to obtain legal settlement in a different parish. If successful, they were granted a settlement certificate. If someone required relief when living in a parish where they did not have legal settlement, the overseers could issue a removal order to have them transferred back to their parish of settlement.
Songs and Poems used in the Book
Below are some songs and poems that feature in the book:
Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did the sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
By William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
The Cropper's Song
Come Cropper lads of high renown,
Who love to drink strong ale that's brown
And strike each haughty tyrant down
With hatchet, pike and gun.
Oh the cropper lads for me,
The gallant lads for me,
Who with lusty stroke the shear frame broke,
The cropper lads for me...
And night by night when all is still
And the moon is hid behind the hill,
We forward march to do our will
With hatchet, pike and gun.
Oh the cropper lads for me,
The gallant lads for me,
Who with lusty stroke the shear frame broke,
The cropper lads for me.
I be come a-shrovin;
A piece of bread, a piece of cheese,
A bit o' your fat bacon,
Or a dish of dough-nuts,
All of your own makin!
The Smuggler's Song
If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Trotting through the dark - Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine;
Don't you shout to come and look, nor take 'em for your play;
Put the brushwood back again, - and they'll be gone next day!
If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining's wet and warm - don't you ask no more!
If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you 'pretty maid,' and chuck you 'neath the chin,
Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!
Knocks and footsteps round the house - whistles after dark -
You've no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty's here, and Pincher's here, and see how dumb they lie -
They don't fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!
If you do as you've been told, likely there's a chance
You'll be give a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood -
A present from the Gentlemen, along o' being good!
Trotting through the dark -
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk.
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie -
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by.
By Rudyard Kipling
Christmas Day in the Workhouse
It is Christmas Day in the workhouse,
And the cold, bare walls are bright
With garlands of green and holly,
And the place is a pleasant sight;
For with clean-washed hands and faces,
In a long and hungry line
The paupers sit at the table,
For this is the hour they dine.
And the guardians and their ladies,
Although the wind is east,
Have come in their furs and wrappers,
To watch their charges feast;
To smile and be condescending,
Put pudding on pauper plates.
To be hosts at the workhouse banquet
They've paid for - with the rates.
By George R Sims
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