What is History? To many it is the remembering and celebrating of important dates. To others, it might be the study of influential people in the past. However, History must be more than this. Historiography is the study of the methodologies and perspectives employed by Historians and it involves examining how and why historians have divergent perspectives on the same event or individual. In this sense, History can often be fluid and dynamic; the past is rarely fixed.
For example, let’s look at Whitechapel, London in 1888. Jack the Ripper murdered five women and apparently left a series of letters taunting the London police and ridiculing their attempts to catch him. Simple enough, perhaps. However, historians have debated whether Jack actually murdered more than five women and whether the letters were actually from the killer. In Philip Sugden’s book, The Complete History of Jack the Ripper, he claims that many historians have actually invented detailed about the murders from incorrect research. Although he reaches a conclusion that the murderer was most likely to have been George Chapman, Sugden argues that an important reason for studying the Whitechapel murders involves more than identifying a serial killer. He argues that looking at living conditions in Whitechapel is of great value to Ripperologists. To Sugden, the socio-economic conditions and poverty of Whitechapel are of equal importance to, or at the very least heavily informing of, the study of the murders themselves.
Sugden’s views were challenged in the early 1990s when a ‘startling’ discovery was made. Michael Barrett claimed to have found the diaries of Jack the Ripper, claiming that he had evidence to prove their validity and truth. Shirley Harrison’s book The Diary of Jack the Ripper claims to have been supported by scientists who date the diaries to the 1880s. Although Sugden challenged the diaries, it proves that 100 years after the Whitechapel murders, historical debate is still very much alive. Every historian has their own interpretation of the facts available, which is what makes studying History unique and exciting.
Therefore, as interpretations of the murders continue to develop, the role of the historian becomes ever more crucial. Although the identity of Jack the Ripper is unlikely to be solved any time soon, the murders themselves and the historiography surrounding them are incredibly useful for highlighting the varying approaches to the collection and study of evidence. One recent publication of obvious note on the subject of the Whitechapel murders - and one which clearly demonstrates the need for renewed perspectives on history - is Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five, which examines the lives of the five female victims rather than attempting to solve the crimes. It is a remarkable book, and one that is vital in its refocusing of our historical lenses.
Tim Love, Guest Contributor
5 historical premier league facts!
The first Premier League season was in 1992-1993. Whilst this might seem like a long time ago, the highest tier of English football is actually quite young. By the time the Premier League was founded, the USSR had already dissolved and Margaret Thatcher had already resigned as the British Prime Minister. Whatever the relative youth of the top English division, how many of these 'Historical Pub Quiz Specials' do you know?
Here they come - 5 Historical Premier League Football Facts.
Oldest Player in the Premier League
The oldest Premier League player was John Burridge, aged 43 years, 5 months and 11 days. The veteran Goalkeeper appeared for Manchester City on May 14, 1995, in a 2-3 home defeat to Queen’s Park Rangers. Having played his first league game back in 1969, that really is quite an achievement! Burridge didn't finish his playing career until 1997 when he served as player-manager at Blyth Spartans. What a career and what a piece of history.
Youngest Player in the Premier League
The youngest Premier League player was Matthew Briggs, aged 16 years, 2 months and 4 days old at the time. He appeared for Fulham in a 3-1 away defeat to Middlesborough back in May 2007. Briggs would go on to play for Millwall, Colchester United, Barnet and at the time of writing, was playing for Maldon and Tiptree in the Isthmian League North Division.
Highest Transfer Fee received by a Premier League Club
The highest transfer fee received by a Premier League club at the time of writing (March 2019) was for the services of attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho in the 2017/2018 season, who left Liverpool for Barcelona in LaLiga. The fee was rumoured to be in the region of GBP105 million, with clauses that could see the fee rise to over GBP140 million.
Most Own Goals by a Premier League Player
This is probably the least wanted ‘football history pub quiz’ accolade of all for a football player. The most own goals scored by any Premier League player goals goes to Richard Dunne, with a total of 10. Dunne player for Everton, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Queen’s Park Rangers during his career, as well as making 8- starts for the Republic of Ireland. Second is retired England and Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, with 7.
Fewest Points in a Premier League Season
This honour goes to Derby County from the East Midlands. Derby endured a torrid season in 2007-2008, accumulating just 11 points. Kenny Miller was Derby County’s top scorer with just 4 in the Premier League. Derby managed to accrue just one win, which came on 17 September 2007 against Newcastle. This was supplemented by 8 draws. One of these was also against Newcastle.
We hope that you enjoyed those historical football facts.
Patrick OShaughnessy (@historychappy)
...NEWCASTLE UNITED’S OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHER INVENTED THE CAR WINDSCREEN WIPER AND ORGANISED THE FUNERAL OF THE ‘RED BARON’.
Gladstone Adams was born on the 16th May, 1880 in a terraced house on St Ann’s Row in Ouseburn, Newcastle Upon Tyne. The life that Adams would go on to lead might, if one was so inclined, make for an appraisal of the accomplishments of one’s own life. Such was the variety of industry and achievement of Gladstone Adams that any comparison would inevitably fall in favor of his life over one’s own. Consequently, this short blog post is written to highlight, rather than explore, a couple of interesting vignettes in the life of Newcastle’s Gladstone Adams.
Photograph taken by Gladstone Adams in his capacity as Newcastle United's official photographer
After an apprenticeship with professional photographer William Auty, Adams decided to open his own studio in Whitley Bay in 1904. He began to document local life with his camera - from the launch of RMS Mauretania into the River Tyne in 1907, to the lives of everyday Geordies. His talents led to him being appointed the official photographer of Newcastle United Football Club. In 1908 Adams drove down to London in his 1904 Darracq to cover Newcastle United’s FA Cup final against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Crystal Palace Park. Newcastle lost 3-1 that day and a dejected Gladstone Adams had to drive back home in his open-top Darracq car. To make matters more miserable, it began to snow. After several stops and attempts to clean his windscreen, he hit upon an idea: a contraption that would wipe the windscreen while driving. Thus, upon his return to Newcastle (albeit three years later) Adams filed a patent that detailed, what is recognisable as, a windscreen wiper. Unfortunately for Gladstone Adams, his version of the wiper was never manufactured - that distinction went to American inventor Mary Anderson. Nonetheless, the original prototype for his wiper is on display in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum.
The prototype of Adam's windscreen wiper being held by John Clayson of the Discovery Museum in Newcastle Upon Tyne
When the First World War erupted in Europe, Adams became a reconnaissance photographer for the Royal Flying Corps. On the 21st April, 1918 the 25 year old Manfred von Richthofen - the Red Baron - was shot down over Morlancourt Ridge near the Somme. One of the first on the scene was Gladstone Adams. Once identified as Richthofen, Adams was asked to photograph the body in order that these photographs be used as propaganda across Germany; the death of Germany’s greatest soldier would, it was hoped, shatter morale. Despite this, the Australian Imperial Force - from which the bullet that killed the Red Baron appeared to have been fired - gave the felled flying ace a celebrated funeral. Gladstone Adams helped to organise this funeral and can clearly be seen directing the pall bearers in footage from the time.
The destroyed plane of Manfred von Richthofen - the Red Baron
The body of the Red Baron was photographed by Gladstone Adams
Although there is little written about Gladstone Adams, his life was rich and full of incredible achievements - only three of which are briefly touched upon here. Perhaps, as a Geordie of historical importance, it might be time to devote some greater energies in the direction of this man.
Dr. Elliott L. Watson
...many words we use in english originate from the arabic language.
There are well over 300 million native Arabic speakers in the world and Arabic is an official language in over 20 countries. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that some of the words which we use in the English language today originate from the Arabic. A study of the etymology of many words with mathematical meanings and connotations will reveal that their root is in Arabic, even though they are now used in English. Here are ten words - they all begin with the letter 'A'. In some cases, they were adopted into English from intermediary languages, having already been borrowed from Arabic. So, let's take a look!
Did any come as a surprise? There are many, many more, such as Jumper, Giraffe and Candy, to name but a few. The history and evolution of languages is a complex, yet entirely fascinating one. Etymology really is something to get excited about!
...How to avoid execution for any crime in the Middle Ages
The system of justice in the Middle Ages was rather complicated. If you committed a crime there were an array of ways in which justice could be dealt to you. If your crime was minor (a trespass as it was then known), such as not paying rent or petty theft, you would find yourself in a local manorial court run by the local lord. For more serious crimes such as murder, serious theft and burglary of goods over 12 pence(!) you were more likely to face the King’s justice, which could be rather severe; all of these crimes were capital offences if committed by any over the age of 10, and those found guilty would be hanged.
There was one sure-fire way to avoid this fate however; alongside this manorial and royal systems of justice ran the Church courts. If you were a member of the clergy, you escaped the King’s justice and would be tried by your fellow churchmen. Here punishments tended to focus more on penance. Though standing in the village square in nothing but your smallclothes sounds far from pleasant, it certainly sounds preferable to hanging.
Surely this was only open to real members of the clergy though?
Wrong. ANYONE could claim benefit of the clergy. The ‘proof’ if one can call it that was merely the ability to read a passage in latin. Still think that sounds tough as you had to learn latin? Wrong again. There was a set passage, which became known as the ‘neck verse’ that was used to test this. Hence, even if you could not speak latin, you could learn psalm 51 (below) by heart and then simply recount it when the bible was placed in front of you to test whether you were indeed clergy.
Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam;
et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam.
Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea, et a peccato meo munda me.
Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco, et peccatum meum contra me est semper.
So there you have it, the simple route to avoid execution even if you commit murder in the Middle Ages. I hope you never need it.
...the english language includes many words from the languages of the indian subcontinent?
British links with the Indian subcontinent go back a long, long way. The East India Company (EIC) was founded in 1600, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. By 1763, victory in the Seven Years’ War meant that the enduring colonial power in the region until the twentieth century would be Britain, rather than France or Spain. In 1858, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Crown took possession of India from the EIC. The subsequent ‘British Raj’ lasted until 1947 when India gained independence from the British Empire.
To be sure, the English language has evolved over time, often as a result of British interactions with people from other geographical locations and cultures. Anyone who has studied Shakespeare or studied the Norman Conquest will no doubt be aware of that! Given the extensive history of the British in India, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that many words used in the English language are actually of Indian origin. Here are just a few of them. Some might well surprise you ...
Punch (as in the drink)
It is clear, therefore, that history has made its mark on the English language.
...That pigeons helped win wwii.
While back in the UK over the most recent holidays my family and I were in the vicinity of Bletchley Park and so, as an indulgence to me, we decided to pay a visit. On visiting I was expecting to learn some nuggets about the mechanics of ciphers, codebreaking or the mechanics of the early calculating machine, the bombe. However, that my takeaway memory was provided courtesy of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association was something of a surprise.
Attaching small messages to a bird in the form of a scroll and then allowing the bird to fly home has been a method of sending messages for a long time. Records of this date back to the Romans and possibly the Persians, but this practice has disappeared more recently than you might think.
Pigeon post was very widespread in WWI and the stories of some of the more famous birds like the wooden-legged Cher Ami, are relatively well known. As a History teacher I have included them in lessons on WWI. Students are very often to hear of the scale of animals’ involvement in WWI with horses being the ‘backbone’ of transportation through much of the war; indeed the war saw the death of some 8 million horses!
After WWI however, surely the widespread adoption of radio, telephone lines and technology made such ‘old-school’ methods as homing pigeons redundant? Not so, as I discovered to my surprise. During WWII, a conflict which saw such incredibly advanced technology as the atomic bomb, pilotless V2 rockets and radar, pigeons still played a mainstream role. Something of the order of 250,000 birds were used by the UK alone. Each and every RAF bomber took one with them on missions! Nor was this a solely British phenomenon, with virtually every nation and theatre of war seeing their widespread use.
One could argue that this shows we should not discount analogue solutions so readily and, as I did, assume technology renders them otiose. However, it also serves to remind me that you never know what you will find as you get out and explore the History on your doorstep.
To discover more about the role of pigeons in war visit https://www.rpra.org/pigeon-history/