JRRI Medieval and Early Modern Research Seminar Series

Latin MS 182

Rylands Latin MS 182, fo. 4r

JRRI Medieval and Early Modern Research Seminar Series

(Re-)Framing Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica in Twelfth-century Germany:
Rylands Latin MS 182

Dr Benjamin Pohl
Lecturer in Medieval History c. 1000-1400
University of Bristol

Thursday 16 March, 5.45pm
Christie Room, John Rylands Library Deansgate

For info, email: anne.kirkham@manchester.ac.uk

Illustrated scrapbook of Leonard Sheldrake in the Christian Brethren Archive now online


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Dr Graham Johnson writes:

This extensive annotated scrapbook was produced by Leonard Sheldrake (1885-1952) during his travels around the United States as an itinerant preacher in the 1930s. It contains photographs of individuals, groups, chapels, gospel vans, gospel tents and motor cars. There are advertising leaflets and notices drawing attention to gospel meetings, alongside cards, photographic postcards and evangelical tracts. Sheldrake collected newspaper cuttings of the meetings and activities he was involved with, as well as cartoons, obituaries, and records of interesting incidents and events coinciding with his visits. Included are photographs and press cuttings of missionaries in Northern Rhodesia [Zambia], China, Syria, France, Angola and Czechoslovakia. There are also maps, tickets and travel details, printed records of services and letters to Sheldrake related to his activities.

Leonard Sheldrake was a Brethren preacher, author and editor. He was born in England in 1885 to John and Susan Sheldrake. His immediate family was not religious, but after the death of his father he came into contact with family members who were Baptist, and was himself baptized. As a young man he became a Sunday school superintendent, standing in for the local preacher during his absence. He moved to Canada in 1905 beginning his association with the Brethren through the Broadview assembly in Toronto. Here he became an active gospel preacher. Moving to Winnipeg, he abandoned his job working for a mail order company in 1911 to devote himself to full-time ministry. He married Ada Pearl Clapp on 20 September 1911. They moved to America in 1913 where he began writing gospel tracts, publishing them in the magazines Words of Peace and The North American Evangelist, both of which he edited. The former brought him into contact with William J. Pell who set up the Gospel Folio Press to produce this and other evangelical literature. In 1927 they created Look on the Fields to encourage missionary work abroad. He also produced three books: The Other Side of the Wall (a collection of articles reprinted from Look on the Fields), Tabernacle Types and Shadows, and Our Lord Jesus Christ: a Plant of Renown, which is still in print. He died on 8 May 1952.

The scrapbook is now online at http://luna.manchester.ac.uk/luna/servlet/s/66i8tf.

Behind the scenes of an Exhibition: Come and Join Us!


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Gemma Henderson, Visitor Engagement Co-ordinator for Public Programmes, writes:

Clare and Karen asked me to write about my involvement in The Life of Objects Exhibition.

Where to start?

Devising and developing a programme of events for an exhibition can often be complex. The programme not only has to be steeped in the content of the exhibition but offer something extra and deeper for the audience to engage with. It can be a bit like internet dating, matching audiences with events and hoping they get along.

Being part of the exhibition working group is essential as it gives you real understanding of the exhibition and what it is trying to say (and who to attract). Working with people across Special Collections is also integral, as they bring their own ideas and expertise. Often it’s their passion that makes the exhibition come alive and that helps me understand how to create a programme that will transmit this passion to an audience.

Our Young Visitors

Our Young Visitors

I have a “toolbox” of event types that I can choose from that we know work well with our audiences, for example our Collection Encounters which give visitors an amazing opportunity to get close to items from the collection. This is a dialogue, so not us telling people about the material (although having simple background knowledge is good) it’s more about creating conversation and building a connection between the items and the people viewing them. They are often exciting and unpredictable and are a unique way to connect our visitors to the Library. However, sometimes I get the opportunity to be daring so for The Life of Objects we’re hoping to have some life drawing classes in the Historic Reading Room. I’m not sure what Mr and Mrs Rylands would think of naked people in the Library!

Gather round

Gather round

At the start of an exhibition I often have a brainstorming session with the Public Programmes champions from the Visitor Engagement Team. Once we’ve looked at the content hierarchy to understand to message of the exhibition we can then start to think about our audiences and what events we can create that would motivate them to visit and participate in an event. From then on it’s planning, which can range from co-opting curators from Special Collections to give talks to buying ribbon and glue for a family workshop.

Being Creative

Being Creative

It’s always a team effort, so from the inception of an exhibition idea to the curators and archivists who seek out the material to the Visitor Engagement manager who looks after deadlines making sure we have exhibition to open to the Visitor Engagement team who deliver the programme plus a thousand steps in between. It is always enjoyable and gratifying when an event is a success. If visitors come away from the Library with more than they came in with, whether that be some new knowledge or a strange handmade craft object covered in glitter and pom-poms…our job is done!

With the opening date fast approaching everyone is busy getting their element of the project ready.  There’s a real sense of excitement about how the exhibition will be received by the public and what their reaction will be to the objects and stories on display. Details of all the events accompanying Life of Objects are to be found here:  What’s On Guide.

If you would like to see and hear staff discussing Stories Behind the Exhibition why not have a look here:

Stella Halkyard, Joint head of Special Collections and Visual Collections Manager, discussing the Library’s Changing Collections.

Anne Anderton, Collection and Research Support Assistant, discussing Walt Whitman.

Jamie Robinson, Special Collections Photographer, and Clare Baker, Collections Assistant, discussing Li Yuan-Chia.

Share your experience of The Life of Objects: #jrlobjects @TheJohnRylands

All images unless otherwise stated are copyright of the University of Manchester.


JRRI Medieval and Early Modern Research Seminar


‘Logic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic’ in Myrrour of the Worlde (Westminster: William Caxton, 1480) Rylands 3469, c4v-c5r

JRRI Medieval and Early Modern Research Seminar Series

Thursday 9 March, 5.30pm

Rosie Shute, University of Sheffield

William Caxton (c. 1422-91) began printing in England in 1476, publishing over one hundred texts throughout his lifetime.  We tend to think that Caxton’s texts represent Caxton’s language; however this talk demonstrates the influence of the type-setter on the language of Caxton’s printed work, focusing on spelling in particular and drawing on methods from mathematics, computer science, and the history of the book.

Christie Room, John Rylands Library Deansgate

For info, email: anne.kirkham@manchester.ac.uk

Edward Schunck and the history of dyeing


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Dr James Peters writes:

As reported in a recent blog post, the Library has acquired the archives of the ICI dyestuffs division. This provides a vital record of the synthetic dyestuffs industry in Britain, and some of this archive will shortly be on public display in the Rylands Gallery. These dyestuffs were a novel industry of the Victorian age, and their development depended heavily on expert chemists and laboratory research.

Traditional dyes were vegetable-based; not much was known about their chemical make-up until they were systematically analysed in the mid-19th century. The resulting findings on their chemical composition played an important part in creating synthetic dyes.


Edward Schunck (right) with Henry Roscoe, Dmitri Mendeleev, and Georg Hermann Quincke, British Association meeting, Manchester 1887.

One of the most important figures in this field was the Manchester chemist, Edward Schunck (1820-1903). Of German origin (his grandfather had fought with the British in the American War of Independence), Schunck started work in his father’s calico printing business. Unlike other Manchester businessmen of the time, he received an excellent scientific education in Germany, studying at the universities of Berlin and Geissen.

On completing his Ph.D., Schunck  returned to work at the family firm. He became sufficiently wealthy to be able to spend time in private research, and his laboratory at his Kersal residence was considered one of the best in the country.

Schunck’s special interest was the chemistry of colouring matters found in natural products. He successfully identified the chemical constitution of dyes yielded by plants such as madder and indigo, and although Schunck did not manufacture dyes himself, this research was commercially valuable to the dyeing industry. His work on alizarin, the colouring agent present in madder, paved the way for the synthetic dye alizarine in the 1860s and 1870s.

In the late 1880s, Schunck became interested in the dyes used in ancient fabrics. Flinders Petrie, the leading Egyptologist of the time, gave him fabric samples he had excavated at Lahun, Egypt  in the late 1880s, which Petrie dated to the 7th century AD. Several such textile samples are present in Schunck’s analysis book (Eng Ms 1552), which has recently been uncovered at the Library.


Egyptian cloth sample, English MS 1552.

The samples are likely to be similar to those discussed in  Schunck’s paper, “Notes on some ancient dyes”, delivered to the Manchester Literary & Philosophical Society on 8 March 1892  (Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, 4th series, volume 5, 1892). The paper reported his analysis of the Egyptian fabrics , and he concluded that madder had been used for red and maroon dyes  and indigo for blue dyes, with various combinations of both combined with mordants to produce other colours. Schunck’s research was testament to his passionate interest in the history of dyestuffs

Schunck left generous legacies to the University for  scientific research. He also bequeathed his laboratory, which was moved to the University campus in 1904, and a fine library, and it seems likely that this volume of samples was part of that collection. Images of both the laboratory and the library are available on Luna.

I am grateful to Dr Alice Stevenson, UCL Institute of Archaeology, who provided information for this article.

The Suffragettes Incarcerated


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Jane Donaldson writes:

Working through the letters from the Pankhurst family to C.P. Scott in the Guardian archives, I have come across a number of letters concerned with Suffragettes in prison. They comment on the length of sentences of imprisonment, hunger strikes, forcible-feeding and also on the prison division that the prisoners have been placed in. I have undertaken further research into these divisions, as I had no knowledge that prisons were divided at this time, and that each division would give prisoners different rights.

Prisons were divided into three divisions, with criminals being placed into each division according to their crime. Suffragettes argued that they were political prisoners, rather than criminal, and therefore should be placed into the first division. Letters from the Pankhurst family cite Russia and Turkey as examples of where militant action has taken place and has been successful in changing the political landscape, and therefore that their militant action should be seen as political too. If the Suffragettes gained acknowledgement as political prisoners, and were placed in the first division, they would be allowed to have visitors, write and receive letters, read books and to see other prisoners. Parliament reports from 1906 show that, at first, this campaign was successful, as supportive politicians Keir Hardie and Lord Robert Cecil were able to get the home secretary, Herbert Gladstone, to agree that a group of women, which included Sylvia Pankhurst, would be treated as political prisoners and placed in the first division.

Those in the second division were often kept in solitary confinement, had no access to reading or writing materials and allowed a visitor and letters only after a month. As the majority of Suffragettes belonged to the middle or upper classes, they were usually placed in the second division. Working class women were generally placed in the third division, and would sometimes undertake work such as the cleaning of cells for women prisoners in other divisions, especially if they were unable to do this themselves following forcible feeding.

Emmeline Pankhurst wrote to C.P. Scott on 7 January 1909 from Holloway prison, following her arrest, and placement in the second division of prisoners. Despite being placed in the second division, Emmeline Pankhurst was still afforded certain rights. Whilst serving her sentence, she wrote about her reading, and visits from Kier Hardie. She mentions that Scott had visited her daughter, Sylvia, and had: Interested [himself] in the treatment of the women political prisoners.


reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

However, these rights were not extended to other prisoners. In a later letter, Herbert Gladstone discusses the privileges given to Mary Clarke, Emmeline Pankhurst’s sister, whilst in prison in Holloway. Gladstone wrote that Emmeline Pankhurst’s rights whilst in prison were exceptional, and that Mrs. Clarke would not be allowed the same rights, as this would set a precedent.

As more Suffragettes were imprisoned and their treatment became more consistent, there are letters to Scott asking for his help to pressure politicians to allow greater rights to those in prison, and examples of letters from Scott questioning MPs on the treatment of prisoners.

A letter from Emmeline Pankhurst on 17th February 1909, mentions a visit C.P. Scott made to Holloway. She refers to his being able to get an understanding of the conditions in prison, of why the Suffragettes are using militant action and why their action should be seen as political.



reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

In 1910, Winston Churchill, passed rule 243a which meant that all Suffragette prisoners would be placed in the second or third divisions. They would have much the same comforts as those in the first division, but were not awarded political status and so denied any rights as such. By placing them in the second division, Churchill was trying to ensure that suffragettes would not be able to continue with propaganda for their cause whilst incarcerated, as is discussed in the letter below from Reginald McKenna, who succeeded Churchill as home secretary.


The treatment of Suffragettes in prison would become a notorious and infamous part of the history of the movement, with women subjected to forcible feeding, and the introduction of the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’, in 1913, where women who went on hunger strike were released and then imprisoned again when their health improved.

The refusal to acknowledge the Suffragettes as political prisoners, to class them in the first division, and to allow them to communicate with the outside world, provide clear illustration of the attempts made by the government to silence the protests of the Suffragettes.

Samuel Hird and Lancashire mill life


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Dr James Peters writes:


Samuel Hird (1878-1956), factory inspector

The Library has recently acquired the papers of Samuel Hird (1878-1956), a factory inspector in Manchester during the first half of the twentieth century.  This archive provides an original and illuminating perspective on industrial life and work, which complements the official (public) records of the Factory Inspectorate, held at The National Archives.

We are fortunate that this archive has survived. After Hird’s death in 1956, his papers were passed to family members, until they came to rest in the attic of his son’s home in Orpington, Kent. There they remained until 2015, when his granddaughters began to investigate the collection. Realising their significance, they very kindly offered to donate the archive to the Library.

Samuel Hird was a factory inspector  in Manchester from 1908 to 1941. At retirement he was the superintending inspector for the East Lancashire division, i.e. the senior factory inspector in the Greater Manchester region. Hird’s papers describe this working life. He was a reflective man, who wrote about his work throughout his professional life and retirement.  Hird was an acknowledged expert on the cotton industry, and witnessed the changes in that industry as it went from its Edwardian prime to the inter-war slump.

Perhaps the most important constituent of this archive is Hird’s unpublished memoir, a lengthy manuscript conceived “as an attempt to record the life and times in which I lived”.  This is an extremely informative document which describes Lancashire factory and mill life over several decades of change and upheaval. Hird describes not only the work of the factory inspector, but also offers his reflections about the economic, social and political contexts in which it was undertaken.


Extract from Samuel Hird’s memoir.

Hird’s memoir is perhaps most informative about the Lancashire cotton industry. He was deeply ambivalent about the industry; as a patriotic Lancastrian, he appreciated its global economic success, but he was critical of the human cost to the millworkers. This was something he knew from personal experience, having worked in his teens as a little piecer – the junior member of a mule-spinning team – in an Oldham mill.  Hird seems to have hated his time there, finding the environment alien and hostile: “Everybody was driving or being driven, and the machinery set the pace for all”.   Here he witnessed the short-cuts taken with safety: “there is no place like a cotton mill…for learning awareness of danger.” As visits from ‘T’Finer’ (as factory inspectors were known locally from their former powers to levy fines directly) were rare, employers paid scant attention to the Factory Acts.

By sheer hard work, Samuel Hird managed to escape the mill. He studied at night school in Oldham, and then at Owens College, where he took a degree in engineering. After a short period teaching, he became a factory inspector initially in the West Midlands, and then in the [South] East Lancashire Division, centred on Manchester, which was considered to be a particularly complex and challenging posting.

The Factory Inspectorate had been created by the Factory Act of 1833 to oversee enforcement of statutory factory regulations. The Factory Acts had initially focussed on the working conditions of children, but over time, inspectors became involved in wider issues of health and safety.

The memoir provides a wealth of information about how factory inspectors conducted their work through routine and special inspections, dealt with recalcitrant employers in the courts, and tried to educate both employers and workers in health and safety matters. Hird became the Inspectorate’s acknowledged expert on the cotton industry, and having experienced mill life he had few illusions about the industry: “the cotton trade was the one trade in which there was a deliberate intention to cheat operatives and to evade the most important provisions of the Factory Acts.” Inspectors spent much time in ensuring mill machinery was properly fenced off, and that workers were not subjected to “time cribbing” (the illegal use of time to operate and clean machinery).

The memoir notes the differences within the cotton industry in different localities, for example, between spinning firms in Bolton and Oldham. On balance, Hird  believed that some of the older family-run firms were better in complying with the Factory Acts than the “Oldham Limiteds”, believing standards at the latter were poor because of excessive competition between too many firms. However, he was also damning about the mediocrity of some second- and third-generation family firms, and welcomed the growing professionalism of management in some of the larger cotton combines, which saw greater compliance with safety regulations.

Looking back on his work at the end of his life, Hird  believed that factory inspectors had achieved their greatest successes through education and suasion, rather than prosecutions:  “the best results are achieved …by the quiet unobtrusive workings of a comparatively small number of people…teaching self help with competent and active guidance, and, above all, introducing and cultivating that spirit of good will through which alone reform is accomplished.”

Samuel Hird’s papers are an important addition to our existing collection of archives relating to industrial history, which include the records of cotton spinning trades unions and employers’ associations. They provide a vivid sense of what factory and mill life was like in this period, and of the struggle to make it more humane.

Incidences of Syphilis Amongst Jefferson’s Neurosurgery Patients


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There are a handful of incidents of syphilis, more specifically neurosyphilis, amongst Geoffrey Jefferson’s neurosurgery patient files. Given the prevalence of syphilis during the first half of the 20th century prior to the widespread introduction of penicillin in the 1940s this is hardly surprising. The onset of neurological symptoms can come at any point in the course of infection and can easily be mistaken for a number of other neurological manifestations, hence why these cases were referred to Jefferson. The diagnosis of syphilis was usually unknown when these patients were first sent to Jefferson, but knowing how common neurological symptoms as a result of syphilis were the majority of Jefferson’s patients were tested for the infection soon after their admission. Once it had been determined that they were not suffering from any form of brain tumour and so would not benefit from surgical treatment these patients would be transferred over to the medical wards where mercury was still employed as a treatment.

The detrimental effects of syphilis can be seen in many different types of medical archives, most notably 19th/20th century asylum records where patients were admitted suffering from ‘general paralysis’. Further reading of some of Jefferson’s cases can reveal the general symptoms associated with neurosyphilis, the very varied demographics of its sufferers, and in some cases the attitudes to such a diagnosis.

Case 1



Patient 1931/96 was an 11 year old boy admitted to the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) on 24 August 1931 presenting with recurrent watering from his eyes, sudden development of almost complete blindness, discharge from the ears, and headaches over his eyes. Originally a cerebellar tumour was suspected but x-rays showed no evidence of this and the Wassermann reaction (a test for syphilis) came back strongly positive. Once it was established there was nothing that could be done for the boy surgically he was transferred over to the medical wards with a diagnosis of syphilis of the central nervous system.

Case 2

Patient 1932/2, a 25 year old salesman, was admitted to the MRI on 16 January 1932 with a suspected cerebral tumour presenting with headaches, signs of aphasia, vomiting, and weakness in the right leg. Following a positive Wassermann reaction and confirmation of syphilitic meningitis Jefferson comments in the patient’s notes:

“Father told diagnosis – grieved and puzzled. [Patient] says he had intercourse only with friends of the family and sisters of his friends – plenty of them apparently! Can’t think which one infected him. (That’s his story).”

The patient was then discharged and treated for his condition at home.


Case 3



Patient 1934/238, was a 45 year old female shopkeeper admitted to the MRI in 1934. She did not present with the same psychological or neurological symptoms as some of the other patients but rather had developed large abscesses of the head and shoulder. A diagnosis of chronic syphilitic osteomyelitis (bone infection) of the skull was arrived and with consultation from the orthopaedic surgeon Sir Harry Platt her abscesses were aspirated.



The Jefferson case files are a fantastic source not only for the study of the manifestation of disease and the development of different treatments but also the various attitudes expressed by both medical staff and patients surrounding such issues as sexually transmitted diseases, fear of hospital treatment, and attitudes to women.

The Sons of C.P. Scott, and The Scott Trust


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This month’s blog post focuses upon Edward Taylor Scott, and John Russell Scott, sons of C.P. Scott, both of whom worked at the Manchester Guardian, E.T. Scott as a journalist, and J.R. Scott as business manager.

E.T. Scott succeeded his father as editor of the paper on C.P. Scott’s retirement in 1929, but his time in this role was to be short, owing to his unexpected death in 1932 in a boating accident on Lake Windermere, in the company of his son, Richard. He would outlive his father by less than 4 months.

The overriding intention of both E.T. Scott and J.R. Scott, following the death of their father, was to ensure that the Manchester Guardian continued to operate according to the ideals and standards set by C.P. Scott. It was a little poignant, therefore, to discover the last letter ever written by J.R. Scott to his brother, in 1932, and for that letter to relate to the Scott brothers’ last will and testaments, the appointment of executors, and the preparation of an agreement for the distribution of their shares in the Manchester Guardian.


Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

The envelope which contained the letter has also been included, and has been inscribed, in an unknown hand: ‘Letter written to E.T.S. on the day of his death and posted to him at Windermere – recovered unopened.’


Reproduced courtesy of Guardian News and Media Ltd

Following his brother’s death, in accordance with this proposed agreement, J.R. Scott bought all of his brother’s shares, becoming the sole holder of the ordinary shares in the paper. The death duties generated by E.T. Scott’s unexpected demise meant that J.R. Scott had to find a new solution for ensuring the future of the Manchester Guardian as the Liberal paper of international renown that his father had shaped.

J.R. Scott’s answer was the creation of The Scott Trust. He divested himself of all financial interest in the paper, transferring all of the ordinary shares to the trust, and appointed seven trustees, who would henceforth be responsible for the management of the paper. These seven trustees included J.R. Scott’s son, Lawrence Scott, his nephew, Evelyn Montague, and the editors of the Manchester Guardian and the Manchester Evening News, W.P. Crozier and Sir William Haley.

The core purpose of The Scott Trust is outlined as: ‘to secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to its liberal tradition; as a profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner.’

E.T. Scott’s son, Richard Scott, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a journalist, and also a member of the Scott Trust. Today, the Guardian continues to be owned and managed by The Scott Trust Ltd, and there is still a member of the Scott family on the board, Russell Scott. As a result of J.R. Scott’s unusually selfless action, he was able to achieve for perpetuity the pledge to the future of the Manchester Guardian that he and his brother made in 1932.


Researching the Macklin Bible (1800), by Dr Naomi Billingsley

Art History UoM Index

The John Rylands Research Institute is a diverse community of researchers, working in partnership with the John Rylands Library. I joined the Institute last month as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, and I am also affiliated with Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester. I was previously at Manchester for my PhD (2012-2015), which focused on William Blake’s depictions of Christ.

My new research project is about the Macklin Bible. Thomas Macklin (1752/3-1800) was a publisher and dealer of pictures, based in London in the late eighteenth century. In 1788 he opened a ‘Poet’s Gallery’ to exhibit and reproduce in engravings paintings by eminent British artists of great works of English poetry. The following year, Macklin announced that he would add scripture pictures to the exhibition, which would be reproduced in an ambitious illustrated Bible. Biblical paintings were included in Macklin’s exhibitions in the years 1790-93, and the printed…

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