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Preface to the online release, May 2014


Summary of new content, May 2014

> New Online Contents, May 2014

> Highlights from the May 2014 update


Welcome to the twenty-ninth 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 modern period. The May 2014 update adds biographies of 99 individuals active between the early thirteenth and the late-twentieth century, with a special focus on the shapers of a century of British cinema. The first of two sets of biographies (the second to appear in May 2015), this selection includes entries on actors, directors, producers, and cinematographers—from the silent era of the 1910s to genre films, such as Carry On and Get Carter, in the 1960s and 1970s. The selection also records the life and work of individuals responsible for three celebrated films with strong British connections—Mary Poppins, Zulu, and Becket—which mark their fiftieth anniversary in 2014.

The May 2014 update also draws on recent scholarly research on the post-Reformation Catholic diaspora to offer a set of biographies of nuns who were among the 4000 ‘women religious’ forced into exile in continental Europe between the mid-sixteenth and late-eighteenth century. A number of those now included were responsible for establishing and running English convents in Europe and North America, several of which continue today. We also have five new feature essays (highlighting existing biographies in the ODNB) which address two notable anniversaries: in June the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn (seen from the perspectives of the Scots and the English); and in August the tercentenary of the Hanoverian succession—with three features on the politics of succession, literary responses to George I, and a wider-ranging discussion of the Hanoverian influence for British politics, society, and culture.

May’s release also includes the first of two sets of biographies that extend the Dictionary’s coverage of individuals active during the period of the British civil wars. Here we focus on those who participated in the conflicts of the 1640s and on the role played by European diplomats who commented on the turbulent events of the mid-seventeenth century. The update also continues another of our long-term research projects: to extend the dictionary’s coverage of the abbots, abbesses, priors, prioresses, monks and canons who made up the late-medieval religious. Finally, and in addition to these themed sets of biographies, we offer a section of lives of men and women active from the thirteenth to the late-twentieth century; these include an early fourteenth-century anchoress, who was unusually twice enclosed in her cell, and two men who did much to promote football in Brazil and Argentina from the 1890s.

As ever, we have a free selection of these new entries, together with a full list of the new biographies and themes. The complete dictionary (59,102 biographies and 511 Theme articles) is available, free, in nearly all public libraries in the UK. Libraries offer ‘remote access’ that enables you to log-in at any time at home (or anywhere you 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.

Our next online update will be published on Thursday 25 September 2014 and will mark the tenth anniversary since the first publication of the Oxford DNB, in print and online, on 23 September 2004. To celebrate the anniversary, September’s update—the 30th to be added to the ODNB’s online edition—will include biographies with a special focus on aspects of British life and national character.

Lawrence Goldman, Editor

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Summary of new content, May 2014

A century of British cinema

The May 2014 update sees the publication of the first of two sets of new biographies (the second to follow in May 2015) of men and women who shaped the history of British cinema. Here we include accounts of twenty-seven individuals who—as actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, and cinematographers—were active in Britain and the United States between the late-nineteenth century and the 1970s.

Producers financed and sought markets for their films. The travelling showman (Arthur) William Haggar (1851-1925) began showing films on fairgrounds in South Wales during the coal-mining boom years of the late 1890s. In the early twentieth century he moved into film production, and displayed an instinctive grasp both for the new techniques of motion pictures, and for the tastes of his audiences, establishing a chain of cinemas across South Wales. During the 1920s the German producer Erich Pommer (1889-1966) headed a series of prestige products for international distribution. Believing in the potential of pan-European cinema, and driven from his native Germany by the Nazis’ racial policies, Pommer moved to Britain where he made patriotic films in the 1930s, and established the ill-fated Mayflower Pictures, aimed at the US market. An insight into British film finance of that period is provided by another refugee from Nazism, Max Schach (1886-1957) whose Capitol Films, funded by City of London loans, made a series of lavish productions before the extent of unfunded borrowings brought the company’s collapse, amidst law suits, in 1939. Gabriel Pascal (1894-1954), born in modern Romania, moved from Hollywood to England to produce a series of film adaptations of George Bernard Shaw’s plays, of which Pygmalion (1938), filmed at Pinewood, was the most expensive British film then made. At the time of his death, Pascal was working on the musical version of what became My Fair Lady. During the 1950s and 1960s the producer Michael Klinger (1920-1989) was at the centre of London’s Soho sex industry, and supplied films for that market, but later his production company, funded by Hollywood studios, made the cult thriller Get Carter (1971). Also included is the writer Alfred Edward [Ted] Lewis (1940-1982) whose novel Jack’s Return Home (1970)—set in Scunthorpe, not Newcastle—was adapted by Lewis as the script for Klinger’s film of the following year.

By the First World War, the phenomenon of cinema stardom had been established, exemplified in Britain by the London-born film actress Alma Louise Taylor (1895-1974) who had begun her career as an extra in Hepworth films, made in Walton-on-Thames, in 1907. Between 1914 and 1924 she was consistently the most popular star in British silent cinema, starring in some forty feature-length films and regular topping polls as voted for by picture-goers. Post-war shorts featured Walter Forde (1898-1984) in the popular character of his creation, Walter, who reappeared in Britain’s first feature-length comedy, Wait and See (1928). After demobilization from the Royal Flying Corps, actor-manager Tod Slaughter (1885-1956) leased the Elephant and Castle theatre, where he revived the villains of Victorian melodrama, which fed into film roles such as Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936). John Stuart [real name John Alfred Louden Croall] (1898-1979) was invalided out of France with trench fever and decided to become an actor in the post-war world. He enjoyed a film career of remarkable longevity, spanning nearly sixty years and traversing the transition from silent to sound, in which he played a range of parts from leading men to character roles. The German actor Conrad Veidt (1893-1943) had been discharged as medically unfit from service with his country’s forces in Poland, and after beginning a stage career was soon spotted by film producers. He was first brought by Michael Balcon to Britain, where his most memorable role was as the U-boat commander in The Spy in Black (1939). A vicar’s son (Arthur) Basil Radford (1897-1952) who saw active service on the Western Front, before training at RADA, is remembered for his screen pairing with the solicitor’s son Naunton Wayne (1901-1970) as Charters and Caldicott in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (1938), as well as a succession of vehicles for their characters. Although principally a stage performer, celebrated for his Shakespearian tragic heroes, Ernest Gianello Milton (1890-1974) had small film parts in the 1930s. Of German descent, Cecil Parker (1897-1971) started out in Shakespearean productions, and appeared in leading West End productions in the 1930s and 1940s, but after the war his career was defined by parts in English comedy films, such as The Chiltern Hundreds (1949) and The Ladykillers (1955). Jill Esmond (1908-1990) was born into a theatrical family and appeared on stage from her teens. She was a major influence on the acting career of her husband, Laurence Olivier, though she herself sacrificed the opportunity for Hollywood stardom; instead she became a regular character player both in the USA and back in Britain. Charles Hawtrey (1914-1988) had a series of small film parts between the wars and it was after an appearance on ITV in 1957 that he gained a role in the first Carry On film. This began an association that established Hawtrey as a key member of that celebrated comic team, though one who was increasingly embittered and disruptive. Born in November 1914, Hawtrey, whose real name was George Frederick Joffre Hartree was named after the French First World War commander Joseph Joffre. Another of the Carry On team, born in the last months of the First World War, was Kenneth Connor (1918-1993). He made his break in radio comedy during the early 1950s, and after Carry On, became an established television presence. Stage appearances by the Liverpool-born repertory-trained actor John Gregson (1919-1975) brought him to the attention of film agents, and to stardom through the comedy Genevieve (1953). The imposing physique of RADA-educated stage actor Nigel McGown Green (1924-1972) led him to be cast in historical action series on television, and then in film as Hercules in Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and most notably as Colour-Sergeant Frank Bourne in Zulu (1964).

Finally, the release explores some significant examples of directorial careers. During the First World War Adrian Hope Brunel (1889-1958) devised instructional films for the Ministry of Information, and his first opportunity to direct a feature film resulted in Blighty (1927)—the story of a family whose son had been killed in action. Reluctant to abandon the sophisticated techniques of silent cinema, Brunel failed to make a successful transition to ‘talkies’, unlike the director and producer (Frederick) George King (1900-1966) for whom the upheaval represented an opportunity to make large numbers of low-budget ‘quota quickies’ in the 1930s, followed by higher-quality productions during the Second World War, notably First of the Few (1942). Compton Bennett (1900-1974) began his career in the film industry as an editor, but during the Second World War had the opportunity to direct documentaries, and achieved a major success with the melodrama The Seventh Veil (1945). He followed this with The Years Between (1946) which, like Brunel’s Blighty, explored the social and emotional aftermath of war on family life. They Drive by Night (1939) was a gritty murder thriller made by Arthur Bickerstaffe Woods (1904-1944), and based on the novel of James Curtis, another recent addition to the Oxford DNB. The film was distinctive in hindsight, though was not followed up immediately with others of this genre. Woods, who directed seventeen films for Warner Bros. at Teddington, was killed in a mid-air collision while serving in the RAF. Another Warner Bros. studio director Roy William Neill (1887-1946) moved from Hollywood to Teddington in the late 1930s, reportedly bored by the endless sunshine and blue skies of southern California. In Britain he directed Max Miller comedies, though he achieved his greatest successes back in the USA during the war, when he directed an updated series of Sherlock Holmes films. These conveyed a Hollywood view of England later associated with Mary Poppins (1964), whose director Robert Edward Stevenson (1905-1986), a former president of the Cambridge Union, had worked for Gainsborough films in Britain during the 1930s before moving to the United States, where he directed nineteen films for Disney Studios between 1957 and 1976 and became Disney’s top director. Among technicians, the director of photography Geoffrey Gilyard Unsworth (1914-1978) won two Oscars (for Cabaret (1972) and Tess (1979); his British Film Academy awards included Becket (1964), in which he lit the reconstruction of Canterbury Cathedral in Shepperton Studios, and 2001: a Space Odyssey (1968).

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Nuns and English convents in exile, 1550-1800

One of the aims of the Oxford DNB since 2005 has been to reflect new scholarship and to record in its updates the lives of historical individuals as they come to light, or as sufficient information becomes known to write first-time biographies. One instance is the addition in May 2014 of the biographies of 20 early modern nuns who were forced into exile following the dissolution of the monasteries in England in the 1530s. It draws on prosopographical research, directed by scholars at Queen Mary, University of London (Who were the nuns?), to identify the nearly 4000 women who joined monastic communities in continental Europe and North America between 1540 and 1800. The biographies now added to the ODNB offer a selection of some of the most notable convent founders, abbesses, and chroniclers active in this period of exile.

In the wake of the Reformation, the majority of nuns professed at convents that had been founded expressly for English and Irish women. However, in the early decades of exile women such as Margaret Clement (1539-1612) joined established continental houses. Clement, a descendant of Sir Thomas More, rose to prominence at the Flemish Augustinian convent of St Ursula’s in Louvain, and was elected prioress at the age of thirty; this despite her being ten years too young to hold the post, and one of only two English women in that community. She was fluent in Greek, Latin, English, and Flemish, and was renowned for her spiritual guidance and strict regulation at the convent.

Clement’s educational accomplishments are remarkable, but by no means unique. There are many examples of well-read women religious who employed their time translating and composing original devotional works, governance documents, chronicles, and letters. The Benedictine nun, Barbara Constable (1617-1684), is now remembered as the translator and author of spiritual guidance manuals written for nuns, monks, priests, and lay people; from her exile in Cambrai, Constable aspired through her writing to re-establish a sense of Catholic heritage and identity that the Reformation had suppressed. Others noted for their literary and intellectual contributions include Winefrid Thimelby (1618/19-1690), whose letters—written first as a choir nun at St Monica’s, Louvain, and later as its prioress—offer insights on religious practice and convent management. Another is Joanne Berkeley (1555/6-1616), the first abbess of the Convent of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady, Brussels, whose house statutes were used well into the nineteenth century. Nuns’ surviving literature reveals the difficulties and dangers of exile. A striking example is Elizabeth Sander (d.1607), a Bridgettine nun and writer of the community of Syon Abbey, who was imprisoned at the Winchester bridewell in 1580 while on a return journey to England—her crime being the possession of Catholic books. Sander escaped several times, once by means of a ‘rope over the castle wall’, but she returned to prison upon the advice of priests who urged her to obey English law. She escaped again, and travelled under a pseudonym to the continent, where she rejoined her community at Rouen, and later wrote about her experience.

Nuns throughout the exile period faced similar perils to those narrated by Sander. The Catholic convert, Catherine Holland (1637-1720), defied her protestant father and ran away from her family home in England in order to join a convent in Bruges, where she penned her lively autobiographical conversion narrative. Others such as the Carmelite Frances Dickinson (1755-1830), travelled to North America to form new communities, in Dickinson’s case the Port Tobacco Carmel, Maryland. Dickinson’s narrative of her transatlantic journey, undertaken in 1790, is one of the few extant accounts of its kind written by a woman in the eighteenth century.

Convent life could be equally dramatic in what were years of political and military turmoil across much of continental Europe. Women religious frequently endured sieges, famine, plagues, and floods, and were sometimes forced to move on in the aftermath of violence, as in the case of the Irish Poor Clare abbess, Mary Browne (d.1694?), who professed in Rough Lee, before relocating to Galway during the civil war and then to Madrid after 1653, the year the convent at Galway was dissolved by Cromwell’s forces. Browne’s history of the Poor Clare order offers a lively account of these events and is now the sole surviving chronicle of its kind relating to early modern Ireland. Convents could also serve as safe-houses or stopping off points for English exiles on the continent. These included not just the friends and family of the nuns, but monarchs and their courts or military forces who relied on the generosity and hospitality of English convents to sustain their time away from Britain. Many exiles bequeathed money, gifts, and relics to the convents, including embalmed hearts, as is described in the group biography of Anne Throckmorton (1664-1734), prioress of Convent of Our Blessed Lady of Syon, Paris, which also includes accounts of her niece, Elizabeth Throckmorton (1693/4-1760), who succeeded her as prioress, and her great aunt Margaret Throckmorton (1591-1668), prioress of St Monica’s, Louvain.

Convents in exile employed British and Irish chaplains and spiritual directors who worked closely with senior nuns to deliver pastoral care. Sometimes these relationships caused controversy, a prime example being the legacy of the writings of the Benedictine monk, Augustine Baker. Baker played a central part in the lives of several women religious—notably Barbara Constable, as well as Catherine Gascoigne (1601-1676), abbess of Cambrai, and Anne Cary (bap. 1614-1671), founder of Our Lady of Good Hope Convent, Paris—who perpetuated the monk’s prayer methods and manuscripts, even under the threat of excommunication. The daughter of Viscountess Falkland, a notable Catholic convert, Anne Cary was one of six sisters whose biographies are also now included in the ODNB. Three of her siblings, Elizabeth (bap.1617-1682), Lucy (bap.1619-1650), noted for the biography of their mother, and Mary (bap.1622-1693), similarly converted and entered the Benedictine order—a reminder of the importance of family connections and kinship networks for sustaining the English convents in exile. Anne’s two sisters who did not convert were Katherine (1609-1625), who became countess of Home, and the dancer, Victoria Cary (bap.1620-1694).

The lives of another two sisters, Margaret Mostyn (1625-1679) and Elizabeth Mostyn (1626-1700), prioresses of the Carmelite convent at Lierre, also provides an unusual example of possession and exorcism at an English convent. Having both displayed symptoms of unexplained illness, the sisters underwent exorcism over an eight-day period in April 1651 during which their confessor, Edward Bedingfield, is said to have exorcized 300 devils. Bedingfield’s detailed narrative of these dramatic events is preserved alongside Mostyn’s ‘Life’ in the convent annals and was clearly considered an important part of the community’s collective history.

Prayer was, of course, central to the nuns’ vocation, but as is demonstrated by these new biographies—and the scholarly work out of which they grew—convent life was multifaceted. In the wake of the Reformation, the convents in exile offered many educational opportunities for Catholic women. A notable educationist is Christina Dennett (1730-1781) who, as prioress of the Holy Sepulchre, Liège, expanded the convent’s small school with the intention of providing Catholic girls with ‘the same advantages which they would have in the great schools in England.’ The school’s registers for 1770-94 include the names of 350 pupils from six nationalities, studying a wide range of subjects. Many of the nuns who held teaching positions went on to become financial managers, abbesses, sub-prioresses, and prioresses. In these positions they controlled budgets, built new premises, and commissioned art works. In several instances their legacy to convent life continues in the survival of houses, such as Frances Dickinson’s Carmel of Port Tobacco (now located in Baltimore) or English Augustinian Convent in Bruges, where Catherine Holland professed in 1664.

Other houses, founded in exile, came to England in the mid-1790s as they sought to escape fresh persecution following the outbreak of the French revolutionary wars. Among these was the Benedictine Convent of Brussels (whose first prioress Joanne Berkeley had been installed in 1599); the English Carmelite convent, Antwerp, whose founding prioress (in 1619) was Anne Worsley (1588-1644); and Our Lady of Consolation, Cambrai, where Catherine Gascoigne was abbess for 44 years. The latter, and its 1651-2 Paris filiation, continue today as Stanbrook Abbey, Wass, North Yorkshire and St Mary’s Abbey, Colwich, Staffordshire—as does as Christina Dennett’s convent school at Liège, which is now the New Hall School, Chelmsford.

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The late-medieval religious, 1280-1540

One of the themes to emerge in the nuns’ biographies is the important administrative role undertaken by prioresses and abbesses both within their houses and with political and religious authorities beyond convent walls. These internal and external responsibilities are likewise to the fore in the latest selection of biographies of the late-medieval religious—the continuation of our research project to extend the ODNB’s coverage of monastic life in the several centuries prior to the Reformation. The successful management and advancement of her institution was a feature of the tenure of Elizabeth Cressener (d.1536/7), prioress of Dartford from 1489. Cressener’s administrative thoroughness can be seen in her careful listing of priory estates and properties, and their rents due, and her willingness to go to law to resolve disputes over the priory’s income. Cressener was also assiduous in building links between the convent and a network of gentry, professionals, and London merchants. Similarly adept was Margaret Pygot (d. in or after 1474), prioress of Carrow, whose success in increasingly her convent’s finances, and developing its site, owed much to her establishment of close connections with the clergy and civic leaders in the nearby city of Norwich. Carrow’s jurisdiction included several local parishes, one of which, the church of St Julian, was the site of the anchorhold, or cell, made famous by Julian of Norwich. The remarkable story of another anchorite is also told in the biography of Christina Carpenter (fl.1329-1332) who, having been enclosed in a cell at Shere, Sussex, in 1329, made a highly unusual exit from her hold. Carpenter’s ‘escape’ was regarded as a serious threat to religious and moral order. Under threat of excommunication, she returned to her cell in 1332 where she was once more enclosed, presumably for life.

In contrast to the success of Cressener and Pygot, the perils of heading a religious house are made clear in other biographies. John Fossor (1283x5-1374), prior of Durham, suffered both a large-scale Scottish invasion in 1346—which wrought considerable damage to his property—and the trauma of the Black Death in which half of his monks died. Despite these set-backs, Fossor oversaw the most comprehensive campaign of renovation in the later medieval convent’s history. His near contemporary, John de Cariloco (d.1396), prior of Lewes, faced an assault by troops from an invading Franco-Castilian in August 1377. Prior John raised 500 men to repel the attackers but was taken prisoner and required to pay 7000 marks to secure his release a year later. The appointment in 1497 of Alexander Banke (c.1467-1531?) as abbot of Furness, then the second richest Cistercian abbey in England, was contested and disputed. He was removed from office between 1514 and 1516 and restored only after an appeal to Pope Leo X, so resuming an abbacy described by Banke’s ODNB biographer as ‘characterized by discord, chicanery and irresponsibility.’ Two final biographies chart religious careers brought to an end by the dissolution. William Browne (d.1557/8) was prior of Monk Bretton, near Barnsley, which escaped suppression in 1536 only to be ‘voluntarily’ surrendered by Browne in late 1538; in retirement, and with a generous settlement, Browne began to reassemble the monastic library. John Stonywell (d.1553), abbot of Pershore, increasingly set himself against the royal administration and its treatment of the monasteries during the 1530s. This led one of his monks to report alleged misdeeds to Thomas Cromwell, including that the brethren ‘cum to mantens as dronck as myss [mice]’; though Stonywell resisted pressure to surrender the abbey until early 1540, he too received a sizeable pension, together with lodging among the abbey buildings, a garden, orchard, and pools.

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Civil war lives, 1630-1660

In addition to the nuns in exile, the Dictionary’s seventeenth-century coverage is extended in May 2014 with fifteen new biographies of men and women active—in different capacities, and in pursuit of different ends—in the period of the British civil wars and the Commonwealth and protectorate. Several, including William Ashhurst (bap.1607-1656) and Robert Scawen (bap.1602-1670), held parliamentary office in the 1640s and 1650s. Elected in 1642, Ashhurst generally sided with the war party at Westminster and with the supporters of the New Model Army. He earned a reputation as a hardliner and one of the ‘violent spiritts’, though in 1648 he published an attack on the Levellers’ Agreement of the People as the route to ‘government without authority’. Elected in 1640, Robert Scawen became a central figure within parliament for the work of recruiting, equipping, and paying the New Model Army, later introducing measures to tighten the Independents’ grip on London. Scawen was able to resume his parliamentary career in 1660 and his son, William (another recent addition to the ODNB), became a prominent City merchant and the second governor of the Bank of England.

Others took to the field in the 1640s and 1650s, among them Edward Carne (1623/4-1650) from Glamorgan. In 1645 Carne raised 1000 men within a week in support of the king, though soon after he declared himself leader of ‘the peaceable army’, and variously declared his sympathies for both parliamentarians and royalists. Edward’s uncle, Thomas Carne (d.1649) was the effective governor of the Isle of Wight between 1642 and 1647. He drew on the support of influential MPs to secure the island from attack, though he was also censured at Westminster for his personal indulgence of royalists. A third army officer, John Humfrey (c.1597-1651) supported the parliamentary cause in Ireland in 1642, but is better known as an agent and apologist for the Massachusetts Bay Company, and for his promotion of further expansion from New England to Providence in modern-day Columbia. In north-east Scotland the brothers George Gordon, Lord Gordon (c.1616-1645) and Lewis Gordon, third marquess of Huntly (c.1626-1653) took up arms for the royalists in the wake of the covenanting revolution before—under the influence of their uncle, the marquess of Argyll—signing the national covenant in 1641 and the solemn league and covenant in 1643. However, both men had a further change of heart and came back to the royalists in 1645. Lord Gordon was killed in action later that year, while Lewis was active in the royalist rising intended to bring Charles II to power in Scotland on his own terms in 1649-50.

There was no such wavering by Samuel Hyland (fl.1638-1663), a distiller from Southwark whose discontent in the early 1640s gave rise to political activism and his recruitment to the Levellers. Through the 1650s Hyland consistently opposed moves to offer the crown to Cromwell and to restore executive government which he believed would ‘set all honest people of this nation to weeping and mourning.’ Another Londoner, though one active a little earlier, was John Squire (c.1587-1653), Church of England clergyman and author of a lord mayor’s show, The Tryumphs of Peace (1620), in which he praised James I’s securing of peace for a unified Britain. Within several decades, however, Squire was caught up in the growing religious tensions, resulting in his arrest in 1642 for declaring support for the king and bishops.

Three of the additions to the Dictionary’s seventeenth-century coverage were overseas observers of events before, during, and after the civil wars. The diplomat René Augier (d.1658/9) worked from 1619 for the British ambassadors to France, though by the mid-1640s he had taken up, in Paris, as the envoy of the English parliament. It was parliament’s hope that their man on the ground would serve to secure a degree of recognition from a foreign power. The Spanish diplomat Alonso de Peralta Cárdenas (c.1592-1666) lived in Britain for 17 years from 1638 in which time he represented the Spanish government first to the king and then, after Charles’s flight to Oxford in 1642, to the parliamentarians at Westminster. However, Cárdenas is better known as the representative of the Spanish crown during the sale of Charles I’s art collection following the king’s execution in 1649. By the time Cárdenas withdrew from the sale in 1653 he had acquired more than fifty of the finest paintings in the late king’s collection, having spent just under £6000 on paintings and £4000 on tapestries and statues. From Geneva, in 1631, came Jean [later Sir John] Colladon (1608-1675) who became the protégé of the royal physician, and fellow Genevan, Sir Theodore Turquet de Mayerne. From the mid-1630s Colladon, who retrained and practised as a physician, established himself as the lynchpin of Anglo-Swiss relations for the coming decades, undertaking several political missions in this period, and taking over the representation of Genevan interests in England following Mayerne’s death in 1655. Anglo-Swiss relations are also the theme of the joint biography of the pious laywoman Elizabeth Penington (bap. 1604/5-d.1642x5) and her husband Daniel Penington (d.1665). In 1634 the Peningtons met the Reform theologian, Johann Heinrich Hummel, who visited England while studying in the Netherlands. The Peningtons offered Hummel support during his time in England, and Elizabeth maintained a correspondence with the Swiss that (extant on her side) exemplifies from the lay perspective the beliefs and mores, the collegiality, and the international networks of the metropolitan godly. Posthumous celebrations of Hummel’s life, published in 1675, acknowledged the support and hospitality given by ‘Mother and Father Penington’. Philanthropy on a grander scale is a theme in the life of a final, slightly later, seventeenth-century individual now added to the ODNB. Sarah Seymour, duchess of Somerset (1631-1692) acquired considerable personal wealth, and a peerage, through three skilfully compiled marriage settlements. Aside from her marriages, Sarah is remembered for her bequests in support of godly learning that saw her wealth divided between two Oxford and Cambridge colleges, and schools in Manchester, Hereford, Marlborough, and Tottenham, Middlesex. Several of these benefactions continue to the modern day, as does her almshouse for poor widows at Froxfield, Wiltshire, which is now the Duchess of Somerset Hospital.

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Britons in Latin America: football and trade

May’s update also extends the Dictionary’s coverage of the British presence in Latin America, the subject of a previous release in October 2009. Charles William Miller (1874-1953) was a prominent figure in the commercial life of São Paolo, to whom legend attributes the introduction of football to Brazil in 1894. The Edinburgh-educated schoolmaster Alexander Watson Hutton (1853-1936), who founded a high school in Buenos Aires, built up a culture of team sports and founded the first football league in Argentina, the third oldest after those of England and the Netherlands. Recently commemorated as England’s first football captain, Cuthbert John Ottaway (1850-1878) was better known in his own lifetime as an Oxford University cricketer, and a member of a touring team who crossed the Atlantic to promote cricket in North America. Lilian Beck (1878-1921), Ottaway’s daughter, who was born after his premature death, had a transatlantic reputation as an equestrian. The interdependence of Britain and Latin America is illustrated by the lives of Horatio Bland (1802?-1876) and his nephew Thomas Bland Garland (1819-1892); the former, based in Chile, made his fortune shipping Peruvian guano, and established a country estate in Berkshire. Bland amassed a collection of anthropological and ethnological artefacts, which his nephew Thomas Garland—also a successful businessman in Chile and heir to the Berkshire property—presented to the corporation at Reading, where it formed the centrepiece of a museum, art gallery, and public library.

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Labour and the Great War

Three lives illustrate the impact of war on the world of labour. Fred Knee (1868-1914) was a socialist-minded printer from Frome in Somerset, who trained as a compositor in the firm of Butler and Tanner. Having moved to London, he promoted housing reform and in 1914 succeeded in creating a united Labour Party, though his hopes that international working class solidarity would avert war were unfulfilled. George James Wardle (1865-1947) was a Wesleyan Methodist railway trade unionist and a member of the Independent Labour Party (ILP). In 1906 he was elected as a Labour MP, but unlike other ILP members Wardle supported the war effort and was one of the first Companions of Honour, a new order instituted by George V in 1917. Also among the first on whom that honour was conferred was the Scottish shipwright and Labour MP Alexander Wilkie (1850-1928), another supporter of the British war effort.

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Birmingham: metals and the stage

Continuing the Dictionary’s recent survey of Birmingham lives (published in September 2013), two additional figures illustrate the city’s long association with metal-working. Sir Henry Samuel Wiggin, first baronet (1824-1905) was head of the business which dominated the nickel industry in Britain, and entered politics as a Liberal Unionist. James Webster (1820/1821-1904), by contrast, avoided public life and secretly conducted experiments at his Solihull home for over a decade to develop a commercially-viable process to manufacture aluminium—which was then a precious metal; his breakthrough in this field was dramatically undercut by a rival method within a year. Three daughters of a Birmingham brass worker began their stage careers in the city before achieving success in variety performance at London’s Gaiety theatre and elsewhere: Letty Lind (1861-1923) was noted for her performances as a skirt dancer as well as musical comedy, while her younger siblings, Millie Hylton (1870-1920) and Fanny Dango (1878-1972), made their name in pantomime and musical hall.

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Medieval and early modern lives, 1200-1800

Other new additions in May 2014 range from the early thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries, and from civic administration and agriculture to the theatre and church architecture. Andrew Bukerel (d. 1237) was a noted civic official in London who rose to become mayor in 1231. He also amassed a considerable fortune from property, which gave him both income and a standing as one of the great men of the city, and he remains a presence in the City of London thanks to Bucklersbury Street. Thirty years on from Bukerel’s appointment, Thomas of Wymondham (d.c.1278) became Henry III’s treasurer. He was set the formidable task of restoring the crown’s finances which he began during his period in office, not least by reviving an exchequer that had effectively ceased to function. Commercial sense was an attribute of John Heritage (c.1470-c.1536), a Gloucestershire sheep farmer and wool dealer whose surviving account book reveals much about the business at a time when few such sources exist, reminding historians of the vital role played by prosperous if seldom wealthy woolmongers in the commercial life of late-medieval England.

Another figure now remembered principally for and through his written work is John Wylde (fl. 1425x1450), an Augustinian canon and musical compiler, whose manuscript anthologies (now in the British and Bodleian libraries) reveal his expertise in English music. So too the Cheshire landowner, Humphrey Newton (1466-1536), whose miscellaneous notebooks were compiled between 1497 and about 1520. Newton recorded household accounts, family prayers, literary extracts, a collection of courtly love lyrics, and more besides. His text that has since been studied by early modern antiquaries (to construct Cheshire genealogies) and by modern historians interested in late-medieval conduct literature, book keeping, and the social and cultural history of the gentry. The Kent-born administrator and poet Peter Idley (d.1473/4) likewise owes his place in the historical literature to conduct writing. Idley’s verse Instructions to his Son was addressed to his eldest child, Thomas, and ran in its fullest form to over 9500 lines. The Instructions proved relatively popular and survives in ten manuscripts, the latest dating from the early sixteenth century, though it was not until 1935 that a critical edition was published. As a young man William Bourchier, third earl of Bath (1557-1623) made what his mother considered to be an inappropriate marriage, leading to its forced annulment and his dispatch to the family’s seat in north Devon; here Bourchier served as lord lieutenant at a time when the county was integral, in the face of a Spanish threat, to England’s defence.

Five eighteenth-century lives are similarly characterized by their lasting associations with several English cities and counties. The Italian-born opera singer Giovanna Sestini (1748/9-1814) arrived in London from Portugal for the 1774-5 season and established herself as a popular performer at theatres in the Haymarket and Covent Garden. Sestini’s was a theatrical family: her brother Vincenzo Sestini (1746/7-1829) began his career as an opera singer and later became a noted costume designer, while Giovanna’s sons also appeared on the London stage in the 1780s. London was also home to the engraver William Henry Toms (d.1765) who made his name through his collaboration with the painter Robert West on his views of London churches in the late 1730s, and later (also with West) as co-illustrator of William Maitland’s monumental History of London. Church architecture, in Leeds and the West Riding of Yorkshire, is the legacy of Thomas Taylor (1777/8-1826) who is known for a succession of accomplished Gothic churches that did much to influence the dominant architectural idiom for northern Anglican churches of the early nineteenth century. Between 1729 and 1755 John Secker (1716-1795), mariner and navigator, sailed the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans aboard East Indiamen, coasters, warships, merchantmen, and privateers. His life as a mariner is known to us on account of his valuable memoir, written soon after 1765 once Secker had settled as a shopkeeper in Norfolk. One of only a handful of personal narratives by a merchant seaman to survive before the Napoleonic wars, the account reminds us that (as his ODNB biography concludes) ‘an empire built on maritime trade, Britain needed its John Seckers just as much as its Horatio Nelsons.’

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Groups and anniversary features: Hanoverians, Noetics, & others

Among the new thematic content in May 2014 are two essays on historical networks that illustrate the interaction between religious commitment and public life. The Noetics (act. 1810s-1840s) were a small group of largely clergymen-scholars, centred on Oriel College, Oxford, whose influence on British governments extended to economic, social, and colonial policy. A century later the revivalist Oxford Group, later Moral Re-Armament (act. 1921-2001), whose roots also lay in college rooms, involved thousands of people, and attracted the interest of public figures under the looming threat of war in the 1930s, before establishing itself after the Second World War as an international movement.

This update also includes five new feature essays which offer introductions to the events of, and the people involved in, notable historical events with anniversaries in 2014. Two of these essays—one from the perspective of the Scots, one from the English—record the participants in the battle of Bannockburn at which Robert Bruce defeated Edward II in June 1314. Our remaining three essays examine aspects of the Hanoverian succession which followed the death of Queen Anne on 1 August 1714. Two of these essays discuss the events and personalities of the years immediately before and after the succession, exploring the reasons for the succession and the literary responses to the King George I, both among his whig champions and later satirists such as Pope and Swift. The third essay looks beyond 1714 to consider some of the principal themes and legacies of the century that came to be known as ‘Georgian’.

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> New online update, May 2014

> More about the Oxford DNB

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