By Lawrence Goldman
Welcome to the twenty–sixth online update of the Oxford DNB, in which, as every May and September, we extend the dictionary’s coverage of men and women ‘from the earliest times’ to the twenty-first century. The May 2013 update adds biographies of 112 individuals active between the eleventh and the early twenty-first century, with a special focus on 70 individuals who shaped the history of British motoring—as drivers, manufacturers, engineers, safety campaigners, and creators of organizations such as the Automobile Association (AA) and the Royal Automobile Club (RAC).
May’s release also includes several smaller sets of biographies on promoters of outdoor living and pursuits and on mid twentieth-century women activists and campaigners. We also continue our new research project (begun in September 2012) to extend the dictionary’s coverage of the abbots, abbesses, priors, prioresses, monks, and canons who made up the late-medieval religious prior to the Reformation. In addition to these sets of biographies, we offer the usual mix of life stories—including Edwin Budding, inventor of the lawnmower; Robert and Frances Andrews, sitters for Thomas Gainsborough’s famous double portrait; and Leslie Green, the architect responsible for London Underground’s well-known red-tiled stations.
Full details of the May 2013 update are available from the new online contents page, and a free selection of extracts and highlights is available here. The complete dictionary (58,664 biographies and 504 theme articles) is available free via nearly all public libraries in the UK. Libraries offer ‘remote access’ that enables you to log in at any time at home (or anywhere they have internet access). Elsewhere the Oxford DNB is available online from schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions worldwide. Full details of participating British public libraries, and how to gain access to the complete dictionary, are available here.
Motoring in Britain
The motoring lives included in the May 2013 update cover noteworthy manufacturers, designers, drivers and racers, lobbyists for roads and motoring, safety campaigners, and those who contributed to the culture of motoring in twentieth-century Britain.
Among the earliest motorists now added to the Dictionary is George Johnston (1855-1945), a Scottish locomotive engineer who in November 1895 drove a petrol-engine dog-cart across Glasgow. Johnston’s business acumen did not match his mechanical ingenuity and his manufacturing efforts were financial failures. His original partners in the Mo-Car syndicate formed to build petrol dog-carts—the Scottish engineers Thomas Blackwood Murray (1871-1929) and Norman Osborne Fulton (1872-1935)—established their own company, the Albion Motor Car Company, and at purpose-built works at Scotstoun successfully concentrated on lorry production. Also in 1895 the Liverpool chemist Edward Shrapnell Shrapnell-Smith (1875-1952) became involved in the Self-Propelled Traffic Association, founded to promote motor transport, and went on to organize trials of motor lorries to demonstrate their ability to transport heavy loads from Liverpool’s docks. Many early motor vehicle manufacturers had backgrounds in cycle manufacture, notably John Marston (1836-1918), a Wolverhampton bicycle maker who early in the twentieth century focused on motor vehicle production and established the Sunbeam marque. At the same time Dan Albone (1860-1906), a Biggleswade bicycle manufacturer, pioneered petrol-engined tractors in Britain. Experiments with steam-powered river launches and motorized bicycles led Wilbur Gunn (1860-1920) to develop four-wheeled motor vehicles; an American engineer and tenor singer who had settled at Staines beside the River Thames, Gunn went on to found the Lagonda company. The unsatisfactory brakes on horse-drawn carriages led the Derbyshire inventor Herbert Frood (1864-1931) to experiment with new materials. His cotton-lined brakes were widely used on horse omnibuses, but motorized road transport opened up a large new market for his Ferodo brand friction products, launched in 1920. A member of the brewing family and an early racing driver Kenelm Edward Lee Guinness (1888-1937) developed effective spark plugs, and founded the highly successful KLG brand. In 1915 another well-connected early racer, Lionel Walter Birch Martin (1878-1945), built and registered the ‘Aston-Martin’ car from his car dealership in Kensington, London.
As early as 1902 private motoring had become the subject of a literary genre, pioneered by an American-born novelist Alice Muriel Williamson (1867/8-1933) and her husband Charles Norris Williamson (1857-1920) who researched and wrote a series of popular novels, organized around the incidents of a motor tour. Among the early private motorists was John Francis Stanley Russell, second Earl Russell (1865-1932), brother of the philosopher Bertrand Russell, and holder of the registration plate A1 when vehicle licensing became compulsory in 1903. Russell championed the interests of motorists in the House of Lords and was active in the early motoring organizations. Though not himself a driver, Sir (Ernest George) Stenson Cooke (1874-1942), secretary of the Automobile Association (AA) from 1905, turned this recently established organization into a mass membership institution, in response to the boom in private motoring in the interwar years. His counterpart at the rival Royal Automobile Club, Sir Julian Walter Orde (1861-1929), as well as presiding over the move to an opulent club house in Pall Mall, initiated the RAC’s popular ‘get you home scheme’ for stranded motorists. Active in both organizations, the civil servant William Rees Jeffreys (1871-1954) was an early promoter of a road network in Britain appropriate to the motor age. In response to a request from the Automobile Club, the governor of the Isle of Man, George Henry Fitzroy Somerset, third Baron Raglan (1857-1921), initiated legislation in 1904 to open the island’s roads to motor racing and speed trials, making possible the famous Tourist Trophy (TT) races. A founder member of the Automobile Club, the Royal Artillery officer and mechanical engineer Sir (Henry) Capel Lofft Holden (1856-1937) was responsible for technical aspects of the banked design of Britain’s first purpose-built motor racing track which opened at Brooklands, Surrey, in 1907.
Brooklands was the venue for many early motoring and aviation feats. A London motor dealer Percy Edgar Lambert (1881-1913), who raced at Brooklands as a works driver, became in February 1913 the first driver to cover more than 100 miles in 60 minutes, but was killed at Brooklands later that year while attempting to regain his record. The Australian aviator and mechanic Harry George Hawker (1889-1921) learned to fly at the Brooklands aerodrome in 1912 and after his heroic attempt at a transatlantic flight seven years later, raced cars at Brooklands from 1920. It was at Brooklands in 1921 that Louis Vorow Zborowski (1895-1924)—son of a wealthy New York real estate owner, and an American citizen but born and resident in Britain—made a winning debut in his aero-engined car, the original Chitty-Bang-Bang which was seen on the track by a young Ian Fleming. Another such ‘monster’ car, using wartime surplus aero engines, was driven at Brooklands by the works driver Ernest Arthur Douglas Eldridge (1897-1935) who used a public road in France to set a land speed record of 146 mph in 1924. Another Brooklands works driver Kaye Ernest Don (1891-1981) became the first driver there to lap at 130 mph, but failed in land speed record attempts at Daytona Beach in 1930; four years later he was imprisoned on the Isle of Man having been convicted of manslaughter arising from a fatality during practice. Two other regular Brooklands drivers, Albert William [Bert] Denly (1900-1989), who made his name as a motorcycle works rider, and Christopher Stainbank Staniland (1905-1942), an RAF officer and motor racer who became a test pilot, co-drove in the twenty-four hour record drive by George Eyston at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, in 1935. Vehicles for several land-speed record attempts in the 1930s by Malcolm Campbell and John Cobb were designed by Reid Antony Railton (1895-1977), chief engineer of a firm based at Brooklands making high-speed cars.
Successes in the twenty-four hour endurance races at Le Mans secured the fame of the Bentley Boys—a group of motoring enthusiasts and playboys off the track, who raced their Bentley cars to a series of victories in the late 1920s. Most were Bentley customers who liked to race their new acquisitions. Many had colourful lives: (Joel) Wolf Barnato (1895-1948), son of a diamond merchant, who held court at his Surrey mansion; Joseph Dudley Benjafield (1887-1957), a respected Harley Street bacteriologist who raced for fun; Sir Henry Ralph Stanley [Tim] Birkin, third baronet (1896-1933) was a former First World War pilot who looked for excitement in peacetime but whose risk-taking led to his death following an accident at the Tripoli grand prix; Frank Charles Clement (1886-1970), a mechanical engineer and professional driver who gave up racing when he married; Sydney Charles Houghton [Sammy] Davis (1887-1981), sports editor of Autocar, who also raced and wrote memoirs of the Bentley era; John Francis Duff (1895-1958), a car dealer turned racer, the son of Canadian missionaries, distinctive in his roll-neck sweaters and plus-fours; George Edward Duller (1891-1962), a racehorse jockey, trainer, and aircraft mechanic who turned to cars; the Dunfee brothers—(Beresford) Clive Dunfee, (1904-1932), who was killed at Brooklands, and Jack Lawson Dunfee (1901-1975), who gave up racing after his brother’s death—both of whom were married to film actresses; (Reginald) Clive Gallop (1892-1960) a former air force engineer who designed Bentley cars and raced in the team; (George Pearson) Glen Kidston (1899- 1931), a one-time naval officer, whose life was a series of dramatic episodes, including an escape from a sinking submarine, a motor boat accident, and a passenger plane crash near Croydon aerodrome; and Bernard Rubin (1896-1936), son of an Australian pearl merchant, who also combined motor racing with aviation, flying from Britain to Australia and back in 1934. The excitement of international racing in these years was captured by two artists who made motoring their subject matter, (Thomas) Frederick Gordon Crosby (1885-1943) of Autocar and Charles William Grineau [Bryan de Grineau] (1883-1957) of Motor.
Many women were prominent competitors in motorsport in the period before the Second World War, and their lives matched the Bentley Boys for glamour and risk-taking. A secretary employed by the Napier motoring company, Dorothy Elizabeth Levitt (1882-1922) was spotted as the ideal person to promote its cars. Having been sent on an apprenticeship, Levitt became a skilful driver and raced between 1903 and 1908, before writing a pioneering manual on motoring for women. Violette Cordery (1900?-1983) took up motor racing in 1920 through her brother-in-law Sir (Albert) Noel Campbell Macklin (1886-1946), the Cobham manufacturer of Invicta cars. With her sister Evelyn, Violette set endurance records at Brooklands in the 1920s, twice holding the RAC’s Dewar Trophy, and also drove round the world. Cordery married a fellow racing driver John Stuart Hindmarsh (1907-1938) who died test flying a Hurricane fighter aircraft from Brooklands. The daughter of a British army general, Gwenda Mary Stewart (1894-1990) drove ambulances in the Balkans in the First World War and, like Cordery, began racing in 1920; she set a series of records at Brooklands and at the Montlhéry autodrome, Paris, and was elected to honorary membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. Stewart’s Brooklands rival—with whom she duelled in highly-publicized lap speed records in 1935—was the Canadian Kay Petre (1903-1994), who was introduced to the Brooklands set by her husband, the air force officer Henry Aloysius Petre (1884-1962). Petre achieved the women’s lap record at Brooklands in 1934 and drove in the Riley works team at Le Mans and in the South African grand prix. Kay Petre’s partner at Le Mans was Elsie Mary [Bill] Wisdom (1904-1972), who took up driving at sixteen and found herself entered for her first race at Brooklands by her racer husband Thomas Henry [Tommy] Wisdom (1907-1972). Wisdom soon broke the ladies’ speed record, before driving for a series of works teams, and competing in mixed events. The Irish-born Helen Francis [Fay] Taylour (1904-1983) settled in England and became a works team motorcycle rider, made a living from prize money, and later turned to speedway racing. After the Auto-Cycle Union banned women from speedway she moved to motor racing, before her active involvement in the fascist movement led to wartime internment.
The Second World War interrupted several motor racing careers. In 1938-9 (Alfred Thomas) Goldie Gardner (1890-1958) set ‘light car’ speed records in MG cars on German autobahns, before returning in the late 1940s to a series of records and two unsuccessful record attempts at Utah in 1951 and 1952. Reginald [Reg] Parnell (1911-1964), a Derbyshire driver, began racing at Donington Park. In a twenty-year racing career from 1935, Parnell was the leading British driver in the immediate post-war period when the sport was dominated by Italian teams, though he subsequently enjoyed international success as manager of the Aston Martin team. (Thomas) Raymond Mays (1899-1980), based at Bourne in Lincolnshire, was the leading light in the ERA (English Racing Automobiles) team which enjoyed success in the late 1930s, and after the war was a founder of BRM (British Racing Motors) which aimed to build an all-British grand prix car. Mays served as BRM’s race manager during the firm’s chequered history, though a Formula 1 victory was finally achieved in 1959. The New Zealander Bruce Leslie McLaren (1937-1970) came to Britain in 1958 and established himself as a Formula 1 driver, securing twenty-seven podium placings in 100 F1 races; from 1963 he achieved his ambition of building cars and running his own team, McLaren. The Hawick-born Robert Steven Hislop (1962-2003) grew up in a motorcycling family and started racing in earnest in 1983. Hislop went on to achieve eleven wins on the Isle of Man, his victory in the senior TT in 1992—by just 4.4 seconds over the 226 mile course—being the most notable.
Alongside speed, road safety is a theme of many of the lives now added to the Oxford DNB. Sir Herbert Edwin Blain (1870-1942) managed municipal tramways in Liverpool and London before the First World War. Concerned at the number of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists, he founded the ‘Safety First’ movement which later became the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). John George Butcher, first Baron Danesfort (1853-1935), vice-president of the Pedestrians’ Association, supported parliamentary bills to impose a maximum speed limit of 5 mph for commercial vehicles in built up areas; he also campaigned for compensation from motorists for injured pedestrians, horse riders, and cyclists, without the need to prove negligence. Conversely Francis Richard Henry Penn Curzon Howe, fifth Earl Howe (1884-1964)—president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and a victorious driver at Le Mans in 1931—accumulated a series of speeding convictions, and spoke in parliament against the speed limit, blaming the recklessness of pedestrians for many accidents. An assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, with responsibility for traffic, Sir Herbert Alker Tripp (1883-1954) proposed planning-based solutions to road safety, advocating the segregation of cars and pedestrians by sending the latter underground into underpasses, or over ground onto bridges. Such ideas, which influenced post-war town planning, were opposed by the pedestrian movement, including the solicitor and MP Sir (Rodney) Graham Page (1911-1981), chairman of the Pedestrians’ Association, whose principal legacy was his series of private members’ bills to curb drink driving, which led to legislation in 1967 introducing breathalyser tests.
Mass motoring was extended through the ingenuity of engineers seeking to build small, low-cost vehicles. The bicycle engineer Tom Laurence Williams (1891-1964) was a strong believer in the potential of three-wheelers, and designed a chain-driven van in his garden shed in Tamworth. This became the starting point for his Reliant firm, which catered for the passenger market in the post-war years of fuel rationing, and enjoyed a flourishing market up to the 1970s. In Longridge, Lancashire, Lawrence Bond (1907-1974) designed a prototype ultra-lightweight microcar which went into production from 1949 as the Bond Minicar. Mass production techniques were imported from the United States to British motoring plants at Cowley, Oxford, and Longbridge, Birmingham, in the 1930s by the engineer, Leonard Percy Lord, Baron Lambury (1896-1967). Lord’s principal legacy, as chairman of the British Motor Corporation in the 1950s, was to press ahead with a fuel-efficient small car, launched in 1959 as the Mini, though BMC failed in the short term to benefit financially from its innovative technology. Initially more successful, though aimed at a smaller market, was the E-type Jaguar sports car, which made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961. Regularly acclaimed as the most beautiful car in the world, the E-type was designed by Malcolm Gilbert Sayer (1916-1970) who had worked as an aeronautical engineer before joining Jaguar.
The more functional world of road haulage is represented by George William Quick Smith (1905-1986), an accountant who worked for the Road Haulage Association and was an early supporter of a Channel Tunnel. An army officer, responsible for road and rail movements in several theatres of the Second World War, George Neville [Charles] Russell (1899-1971) was appointed chairman of the Road Transport Executive in 1948 following nationalization of the road haulage industry, and went on to establish and run the state-owned British Road Services, created out of the firms taken into public ownership, comprising 80,000 staff and 40,000 vehicles. An automobile engineer Donald McIntyre Sinclair (1901-1971) spent most of his career in the bus industry, principally at the Birmingham-based Midland Red firm, the largest outside London. His many innovations included Britain’s first express motorway coach service which he launched between Birmingham and London in 1959 following the opening of the new M1 motorway. Five years earlier London Transport launched the celebrated Routemaster double-decker bus, designed from scratch, with a lightweight aluminium body, by its chief engineer Albert Arthur Molteno [Bill] Durrant (1898-1984) and regarded as ‘the most successful motor bus ever designed’. Finally, a lifetime’s experience behind the wheel of London taxi cabs was recorded in the books written by Maurice Levinson (1910-1984). Having arrived in the East End of London in 1918 as a refugee, Levinson found taxi-driving an escape from unemployment in the depression of the 1930s, and was never out of work in peacetime again.
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Women activists and campaigners
The May 2013 update includes the lives of four women who, for brief periods, were prominent in British public life in the mid-twentieth century. Elsie Florence Eva [Elsy] Borders (1905-1971) and her husband James Walter [Jim] Borders (1901-1967) were among the house buyers on a newly-built estate on the southern outskirts of London, whose homes were found to have major faults as a result of cost-cutting in their construction. The Borders led a mortgage strike which resulted in legal proceedings up to the House of Lords in 1941, in which Elsy conducted her own case. After the Second World War Dorothy Crisp (1906-1987), a political writer during the 1930s, became chairman of the British Housewives’ League which campaigned against food rationing and austerity. In January 1955 Margaret Kennedy Knight (1903-1983), a humanist and lecturer at Aberdeen University, was at the centre of a public controversy when she gave three radio talks for the BBC, discussing morals without religion, and challenging the Christian monopoly of broadcasting on moral issues. In 1968 the Hull fish processor Lillian [Lil] Bilocca (1929-1988) became a household name when she led a ‘headscarf army’ of trawlermen’s wives. Bilocca and her followers demanded improved safety regulations after the loss of three Hull trawlers, and of fifty-eight lives, in less than a month.
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Promoters of outdoor life
Two earlier campaigners now added to the Oxford DNB are remembered as champions of public access to common land. Cobbler’s Walk in Bushy Park, Surrey, commemorates the actions of the cordwainer Timothy Bennett (d. 1756) who successfully campaigned against the closing of a public walk in the park, following the creation of a royal drive to Hampton Court Palace. Bennett’s campaign has many similarities to that of the Richmond brewer John Lewis (1713-1792) who resisted attempts by George II’s daughter, Princess Amelia, to close Richmond Park to all but her friends. In 1756 Lewis brought a successful legal challenge and public access was restored. Subsequently both men have been celebrated as champions of English liberties in the face of authority, and as forebears of the ‘right-to-roam’ movement. The benefits of walking and rambling were championed from the 1880s by Edmund Seyfang Taylor (1853-1908) who explored and mapped a series of public pathways across south-east England. Under the pseudonym ‘Walker Miles’ Taylor’s discoveries were written up in more than 40 guidebooks, in which he encouraged Londoners to use their leisure time to explore the surrounding countryside. In Lancashire Taylor’s contemporary, Thomas Arthur Leonard (1864-1948), established a programme for factory workers to take holidays in the Lake District rather than at nearby seaside resorts. In the 1890s Leonard became secretary of the Co-operative Holiday Association. By 1913 the association had grown to cater for 20,000 guests annually, at which date Leonard left to establish the still extant Holiday Fellowship. As the founding general secretary of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Sir Herbert John Griffin (1889-1969) was responsible for co-ordinating the growing number of rural organizations—including the National Trust and the Ramblers’ Association—as a common voice to champion conservation. Two further additions to the Dictionary are remembered as pioneers of British rock climbing. Walter Parry Haskett Smith (1859-1946) led the way in promoting climbing in Britain, in contrast to the then established fashion for Alpine expeditions. In the 1890s Smith published the first guidebooks to the British climbing landscape, while his fellow mountaineer James Merriman Thomson (1863-1912) popularized Snowdonia as a climbing venue through first-time ascents and publications.
Our selection of ‘outdoor lives’ is completed by a famous landowner, and his wife, and by a man whose invention made possible what has since become a British obsession. Thomas Gainsborough’s double portrait of ‘Mr and Mrs Andrews’ (c.1750), in the National Gallery, London, is one of the best-known works by a British artist. The work depicts Robert Andrews (1725-1806) and his wife Frances Andrews (1732-1780) under an oak surveying their lands on the Sussex/Essex border. The Oxford DNB’s biography of Mr and Mrs Andrews explains their association with Gainsborough and how the painting—as much a work of landscape as portraiture—celebrates the couple’s marriage and the restoration of their respective estates after a complex legal case. Landowners on a smaller scale owe much to the Gloucestershire inventor, Edwin Beard Budding (1796-1846), now best known for his ‘mowing machine’ which he patented in 1830. Budding’s machine used a system of rotating helical blades, derived from techniques used to remove the nap from cloth. His design, which incorporated a tray to catch grass clippings, went into production in the early 1830s and became the model for ‘push’ lawnmowers used by generations of gardeners.
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The late-medieval religious
In September 2012 we published the first biographies of a new research project, to extend the Dictionary’s coverage of abbots, abbesses, priors, prioresses, monks, and canons active in late-medieval England. In May 2013 we add biographies of a further 14 individuals which highlight some key themes in the history of the medieval religious. Common to many of these lives was the importance of relations with bishops and—on some occasions—the monarch. Many religious would experience the detrimental effects of Henrician rule in the 1530s. However, the abbess of Wilton, Isabel Jordayne (d. in or before 1534), was more immediately affected by royal interests in 1528 as Henry’s queen, Anne Boleyn, sought to have her replaced by Anne’s sister-in-law. Jordayne survived as abbess but her authority was greatly weakened, and she failed in her attempts to reform the abbey despite the assistance of Cardinal Wolsey. By contrast, an earlier figure such as Aethelwig (d. 1077/8), abbot of Evesham, enjoyed a more harmonious and fruitful relationship first with Harold II and then with William the Conqueror—the Norman monarch being keen to use the English clergy, and men like Aethelwig, to stabilize the west Midlands following invasion. Secure in this relationship Aethelwig also prospered as abbot, overseeing a house that grew considerably in wealth and numbers. The prior of Norwich, William Worstede (d. 1436), was another whose good relations with his monarch, Henry VI, led to his appointment as an ambassador to the Council of Basle; Worstede was also in step with his bishop, William Alnwick, in the prosecution of heresy trials held at Norwich between 1429 and 1431. As bishop of Lincoln (from 1437), Alnwick had less harmonious relations with John Deeping (d.1439), abbot of Peterborough. Alnwick’s visit to the abbey exposed a series of long-standing derelictions, including drinking, which made clear Deeping’s loss of control and led to his resignation as abbot in 1438.
Coping with wayward elements was a difficulty also faced, with varying degrees of success, by several other new additions to the Oxford DNB. Thomas Colyns (d. 1539), prior of Tywardreath, near St Austell, Cornwall, led a small Benedictine house whose monks were said to consort with women, with the prior himself often the worse for drink. Attempts were made by Wolsey to remove Colyns and the priory was dissolved in 1537. One of Colyns’s failings was to allow internal discipline to deteriorate while nurturing relations between the priory and the outside world, a claim also levelled against the abbot of Glastonbury, John Chinnok (d. 1420), who cultivated the cult of Joseph of Arimathea as the abbey's founder while leaving unpunished misdemeanours among his brethren. At Godstow, near Oxford, the abbess Elizabeth Felmersham (d.1446) was more successful in confronting miscreants, some of whom were encouraged by regular visits by corrupting students from the university; however, it is likely that the strain of bringing the abbey in line ruined Felmersham’s health and hastened her death.
Difficult circumstances, often financial, were on occasions overcome—as in the example of Christabel Cowper (d.1562?), prioress of Marrick, near Richmond, Yorkshire, whose diligent management ensured that the house was described, in 1536, as free from ‘manifest sin’ and ‘abominable living’. John Evesham (d.1370), prior of Worcester, was another commended for his diligence and handling of the priory’s affairs at a time of reduced circumstances. Evesham’s biography again highlights the importance of good relations between a religious head and the episcopacy. Evesham had been appointed prior by the bishop of Worcester, Worstan Bransford, with whom he enjoyed a harmonious relationship; however, the situation worsened markedly from 1352 when Bransford’s successor sought to challenge privileges bestowed on the Evesham by Pope Clement VI. Few suffered as severely as Bonus (fl. 1327-1333), abbot of Tavistock, whose chief adversary, John Grandison, bishop of Exeter, was also the sole source of information about the abbot’s life and work. Bonus repeatedly appealed to Canterbury against the bishop; however, the latter—keen to install his own favourite—finally secured Bonus’s removal in 1333, having accused the abbot of reducing his monks to destitution. Such was Grandison’s antipathy that, as Bonus’s ODNB biographer concludes, his account of the abbot tells us more about the bishop than about his beleaguered subject. Distinctive sources also provide an insight into life at St Mary’s abbey, Winchester, of which Elizabeth Shelley (d. 1547) was head from 1527. Shelley took in girls for education—among them the daughter of Viscount Lisle, the illegitimate son of Edward IV—and her surviving letters to Lady Lisle reveal her efforts to secure sufficient funds to adequately clothe the child. Two final lives—those of the Benedictine monk Richard Clyve (d. 1326) and the Premonstratensian canon Thomas Wyngenhale (d. 1406?)—remind us of the scholarly aspect of religious life. Forty years a monk at Christ Church, Canterbury, Clyve was valued principally for his legal and administrative skills. Wyngenhale, who appears to have been the only theologian and canonist of note among the English Premonstratensians in the later middle ages, affirmed in works of history, canon law, and theology a Catholic doctrine of ‘pastoral theology’ to confront the new Lollard heresy.
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Other lives: in books & in London
Early modern figures added in the May update include the religious conspirator Henry Arthington (fl.1569-1609), the third member of a group who, in 1591, publicly proclaimed their leader William Hacket to be the ‘king of Europe’ and Christ come to judge the world. Imprisoned in London Arthington wrote an account of the incident in which he claimed to have been the ‘possessed’ by Hacket. Unlike his co-conspirators, Arthington was spared execution and was freed after his testimony had been published by the government as part of a co-ordinated propaganda campaign against presbyterianism. Arthington’s contemporary, the London bookseller George Bishop (d. 1610/11), became a prominent member of the Stationers’ Company, established a monopoly on the printing of English bibles, and was instrumental in publishing titles such as John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Between 1592 and 1598, the Suffolk draper Thomas Fella (d. 1639) compiled a pocket-book miscellany comprising poems, botanical drawings, biblical scenes, and a calligraphic alphabet. Fella’s text, which offers a remarkable insight into the life and reading habits of a late sixteenth-century tradesman (including Foxe’s Book of Martyrs), is now in the Folger Institute, Washington DC, and was first published in facsimile in 2012.
Seventeenth and early eighteenth-century literary figures added in this update include the political pamphleteer, Charles Hornby (bap. 1670, d. 1739), known for a long-running series critical of the ‘anarchy’ integral to whig politics and supportive of the political writings of Jonathan Swift. In the late 1710s the Arabic scholar and translator Solomon Negri (bap. 1665, d. 1727) was appointed by the SPCK to supervise and correct an Arabic New Testament and psalter for dissemination among Oriental Christians. Born in Damascus, Negri had studied and worked in Rome and Paris before settling in England in 1717 where he also translated ancient Arabic texts and catalogued the oriental collections of the earls of Oxford. A more sensational publication traces the life of the Dublin-born Dorothea Maunsell (b.1749x51) who secretly married the celebrated Italian castrasto, Ferdinando Tenducci in 1766. What is known of Maunsell’s life derives from her True and Genuine Narrative of Mr and Mrs Tenducci (1768) which describes the couple’s elopement and the dramatic consequences of their marriage which was spent in Britain and Italy. Maunsell again came to public attention in the mid-1770s when she sought, successfully, to have her marriage annulled on the grounds of Tenducci’s impotency. Sir Thomas Gascoigne (1745-1810) was, like Maunsell, another one-time Italian resident, who first visited the peninsula on the grand tour and later with the travel writer Henry Swinburne with whom he toured France, Spain, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. On his Yorkshire estate Gascoigne was a noted agricultural improver and developed Boston Spa as a ‘village resort of some renown’. The vast wealth of the Jamaican planter Simon Taylor (1739-1813) was derived from the slave trade. Resident in Jamaica from the 1760s, his letters provide some of the best evidence on eighteenth-century plantation management, planter politics, and Jamaican slave society. An active opponent of abolition, Taylor made occasional visits to England to petition against the ‘madman Wilberforce’ who, in his words, threatened to ‘spread fire and destruction among us’.
May’s update also adds the life of the writer, rogue, and literary prototype Gerald Hamilton (1890-1970) who is now best known for his association with Christopher Isherwood in the 1930s, recreated in fiction as the sinisterly comic Mr Norris in Isherwood’s Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935). Hamilton’s was a hugely colourful (and much elaborated) life spent travelling in continental Europe and the Middle East, consorting with foreign royalty, variously championing Irish independence, communism, and fascism—as well as periods in prison for sexual and political offences. Hamilton spent his final years on the King’s Road, Chelsea, and London is a shared theme for a final trio of architects who left their mark on the capital. As superintending architect of London County Council from 1899, William Edward Riley (1852-1937) oversaw what was then the largest municipal building programme in the country—comprising public housing, courts, a series of Arts and Crafts-style fire stations, and the laying out of Aldwych and Kingsway. John Henry Forshaw (1895-1973) also headed the LCC’s architects’ department in the 1940s, in which capacity he collaborated (with Patrick Abercrombie) in planning the post-war city and initiated a programme of high-density housing estates based on Swedish models. Forshaw had previously made his name as architect to the Miners’ Welfare Commission where, in the 1930s, he supervised a national welfare programme of redevelopment which put in place facilities for more than 250,000 miners, including 240 pithead baths. Finally, in the 150th anniversary year of the London Underground, we add the biography of Leslie William Green (1875-1908) who designed the well-known ‘red tile’ Tube stations at Covent Garden, Russell Square, Chalk Farm, and over 40 other locations across the capital. Green’s designs were influenced by his time in Paris and used elaborate ox-blood terracotta tiles as exterior decoration, with green tiling and elegant platform signage for the interiors. Green’s stations were designed and built in just four years and his heavy workload likely led to his early death at just thirty-three.
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New portraits for existing entries
Of the biographies added to the Oxford DNB in May 2013, 32 are accompanied by a portrait likeness of an individual or (in the case of the Bentley Boys) of members of a historical group. The May update also adds 24 ‘retrospective’ portraits of subjects already included in the Dictionary. Among those individuals now illustrated are the cellist Jacqueline Du Pré, the tight-rope walker Charles Blondin, Arthur Percival, British commanding officer at the fall of Singapore (1942), and Christopher Merrett, the seventeenth-century natural philosopher who may have pioneered the production of sparkling wines. Other early likenesses include the burial monument of Sir Nicholas Rainton (1569-1649), mayor of London, and a colour illustration of the Tudor court fool, Will Somer (d.1559)—depicted alongside Henry VIII—from a psalter prepared in 1540. A full list of new portraits added in the May 2013 update is available here.
Dictionary updates have now added more than 150 ‘retrospective’ likenesses to biographies published in 2004. These—in addition to the 880 likenesses for new subjects added in updates since 2005—brings to 11,095 the number of biographies now accompanied by a likeness. All portraits are researched in association with curators at the National Portrait Gallery, London, to provide an authentic likeness of the individual.
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Our next online update
Our next online update will be published on Thursday 26 September 2013 and will add biographies of 124 men and women, with a special focus on black and Asian lives and on historical figures from Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Lawrence Goldman, editor
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> New online update, May 2013