Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Dr. Ferriar or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and See Ghosts

We are very pleased to announce a new acquisition, John Ferriar’s An essay towards a theory of apparitions (1813), purchased from one of our favourite bookshops, Ken Spelman of York. 

Ferriar (1761-1815), was a Scottish physician and a poet, but particularly noted in Manchester for his leadership of the Infirmary, and for his studies of the causes of diseases such as typhoid. In the theory of apparitions Ferriar set forward an argument that spectral illusions were to be traced to disorders and diseases of the human bodily apparatus. Ferriar considered it a fact that ‘the forms of dead, or absent persons have been seen, and their voices have been heard, by witnesses whose testimony is entitled to belief’. How then to explain these occurrences among people classed as ‘normal’ and ‘sane’? For Ferriar apparitions could be explained by what he termed a ‘renewal of external impressions’ through which a visual memory could be reanimated via the visual sense; a sort of 'waking dreams composed of the shreds and patches of past sensations’.

John Ferriar, sporting a stunning quiff

The theory of apparitions was Ferriar’s last published work. It was preceded by his Medical Histories and Reflections, a series of medical papers 3 vols (1792-98) the poem Bibliomania, an Epistle to Richard Heber, Esq. (1809), and his best-known book, Illustrations of Sterne, with other Essays and Verses (1798; 2nd edn, 2 vols., with additions, 1812), in which he traced Sterne's indebtedness to older French novelists.

Laurence Sterne's signature in Le Moyen de Parvenir

Ferriar’s books at the Library are especially interesting for their provenance. Our copy of vol. 1 of his Medical Histories and Reflections was owned at one time by Edward Jenner, the pioneer of the smallpox vaccination. A copy of BĂ©roalde de Verville’s Le Moyen de Parvenir (1757) came into Ferriar’s possession from Richard Heber. But before Heber the book was owned by Laurence Sterne and contains his inscription on the flyleaf of vol. 1.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Hulme-orous Photos

These wonderful pictures of Hulme (mainly from around the 1970s) have been generously donated by the legendary Terry Wyke, Senior Lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Two Libraries and an Orrery...

A guest blog by Patti Collins, Chetham's Library Volunteer

As a new Room Guide at the National Trust's Dunham Massey Hall, I've been struck by the enthusiasm which many visitors display for the scientific instruments on display in the library there. The piece that excites most interest is the brass and oak Orrery made by 'Tho. Wright instrument maker to his Majesty in Fleet Street London' around 1730.

An Orrery is basically a mechanical model of the solar system and, although the Greeks developed something similar around 125 BC, early models were of course geocentric (ie the planets were believed to circle around the earth). It wasn't until after Copernicus published De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543 that scientific models were developed which reflected the discovery that the Sun revolved daily round the Earth.

The renowned clock makers George Graham and Thomas Tompion reputedly built the first modern orreries and tellariums around 1704 in England. It is thought that the instrument maker John Rowley saw one of these when it was awaiting shipment to Prince Eugene of Savoy, along with instruments which he had made. Rowley noted its detail and about 1712 produced an improved model. Sir Richard Steele then saw this instrument and, being ignorant of those made by Graham, misguidedly named it an orrery in honour of Charles Boyle, Earl of Cork and Orrery. Tellurions and planetariums subsequently became known as orreries.

Back at Chetham's, whilst returning books to the stacks a couple of weeks ago, I was delighted to come across John Harris' book, published in 1729, Astronomical dialogues between a gentleman and a lady...which also promises on its title page 'With a Description of the famous Instrument called the ORRERY; made by Mr John Rowley, Master of the Mechanicks to the King.'
MAIN Collection - Shelf position: 2.A.6.44

John Harris (c.1666-1719) was an Anglican clergyman and fellow of the Royal Society who through private teachings, public lectures and published writing shared new developments in science with a wide audience. Harris also published by subscription the first volume of his famous Lexicon technicum, or, An Universal English Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1704), which became one of the first books to display the importance to the public of Newton's science.

As Harris explains in The Preface 'The Reader will easily see that the Conversation in these Dialogues is feigned, and in Imitation of Those of the excellent Mr. Fontenelle, On the Plurality of Worlds. And that the Digressions, Reflexions, Poetry and Turns of Wit, are introduced to render Those Notions pleasing and agreeable, which perhaps without such a kind of Dress, would appear too crabbed and abstracted.'

Entretiens sur la pluralite des Mondes or Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, was published in 1686 by Bernard le Bovier de Fontanelle. In this work Fontanellle speculates on the possibility of life existing on other planets and on space travel. The book became hugely popular - it wasn't written by a scientist for other scientists but took the form of a series of conversations between 'a charming philosopher and his hostess, a Marquise, as they strolled through her moonlit gardens.'

Harris declares that he gave Fontanelle's book to 'the most engaging Lady M' some seven years earlier and that...
'Some Years before her Death, when I went to visit that accomplish'd Lady at her Country Seat, I was a little surprised to find her, the next Morning after my Arrival, studiously viewing a pair of large Globes, which stood in the Drawing-Room, looking into the Garden, and which I used to make my Place of Study. Good Morrow, said I, Madam, what! hath Fontenelle made an Astronomer of you in good earnest? Are you really contemplating the Order and Motions of the Heavenly Bodies? Or are you rather seeking on the Earthly Globe, where to make new Conquests?'

Harris, like Fontanelle is taking quite a radical stance in choosing to publish a conversation with a woman about scientific theories but states that he…
'…Often wished that the same Curiosity and Love of Knowledge would inspire more of the fair Sex, for it would mightily enlarge their Empire and Power over ours, by endowing them with more real and lasting Beauties, such as would improve with Time, and strengthen even in Age itself.'

In the section of the Dialogues which relates to the ‘Description of the Orrery, Lady M makes a request that he might...
‘Get me a sight of the famous Orrery, which I have heard you and others so often speak of; and which I think was made by Mr. Rowley, the famous Mathematical Instrument-Maker, and Master of Mechanicks to the King; and whom I find you have always recommended in your Books, as the best workman of his Profession…’

Harris gallantly responds 'Madam, said I, the fine Instrument of that Name, which Mr. Rowley made for the East-India Company, is now luckily in a Place where I can come at it; I will go thither to morrow, and then appoint you a Day when I will wait on you to see it.'

Once the orrery is provided Harris proceeds to give Lady M full instructions on how it works  including a description of the instrument can illustrate day and night.

‘He hath provided this little Lamp to put on upon the Body of the Sun; which casting, you see, by the Means of a Convex Glass, and the Room made a little dark, a strong Light upon the Earth; will shew you at once all these things; first how one half of our Globe is always illuminated by the Sun, while the other Hemisphere is in the dark; and consequently, how Day and Night are formed, by the Revolution of the Earth round her Axis; for as she turns from West to East, she makes the Sun appear to move from East to West. And you will please to observe also, Madam, that as I turn the Instrument about in Order to shew you the several Seasons of the Year, and the Length and Decrease of Day and Night, how the Shadow of the Moon's Body will cover some part of the Earth, and thereby shew you, that to the Inhabitants of that part of the Earth there will be a Solar Eclipse.’

There is a famous and very dramatic painting by Joseph Wright A Philosopher Giving that Lecture on the Orrery, in which a Lamp is put in the Place of the Sun held by Derby Museums and first exhibited in 1766.

Scientific lectures and demonstrations presented by traveling scientists were a popular form of public entertainment during Wright’s lifetime. As an artist who showed an early interest in mechanics and science, Wright may have attended lectures on astronomy and pneumatics, among other topics, held at the town hall in Derby during the 1750s and 1760s.

Chetham's Library holds flyers for two such events, promoted locally by Mr Lloyd in 1818...

'Grand illuminated orrery. Mr Longstaff respectfully announces to the ladies and gentlemen of Manchester, his intention of delivering in February next, a course of familiar lectures on astronomy, which will be illustrated by his newly-invented and superior transparent orrery, fifty feet in circumference...'
MAIN Collection - Shelf position: Cambrics.25(1)

And Mr Longstaff in 1822...

'Mr. Lloyd has the honour, most respectfully, to inform the ladies and gentlemen of Manchester and its vicinity, whose friendship he is ambitious to conciliate and maintain, that he has appropriated...: Three evenings. Minor-Theatre, Manchester. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The 18th, 20th, and 22d of May, 1818. The dioastrodoxon, or grand transparent orrery. The largest and most magnificent in the British Empire...'

MAIN Collection - Shelf position: Scrapbook B.9.41.161(1)

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Second city of the Empire

We have just acquired a copy of the The Graphic thanks to our colleague Ian Mayer in Chetham’s School of Music. 

The Graphic was a British weekly illustrated newspaper, first published on 4 December 1869 by William Luson Thomas as a rival to the world's most successful illustrated paper, The Illustrated London News. Luson Thomas was exasperated by the unsympathetic treatment of artists by the ILN and created The Graphic as "a superior illustrated weekly newspaper, containing twenty-four pages imperial printed on fine toned paper of beautiful quality, made expressly for the purpose and admirably adapted for the display of engravings." The Graphic covered home news as well as news from around the Empire and devoted much attention to literature, arts, sciences, fashion, sport, music and opera. 

It continued to be published weekly under this title until 23 April 1932 and then changed title to The National Graphic between 28 April and 14 July 1932; it then ceased publication after 3,266 issues.

The volume that we have acquired is of particular interest because of a sixteen-page article published on 4 October 1876 devoted to Manchester. According to the editor, "We have an especial pleasure in endeavouring to depict 'Manchester' for it was in Manchester during our early struggles (when such an enterprise as ours was regarded as Quixotic) that The Graphic first took firm root; and we take it as a high compliment tour labours that the City so justly celebrated as foremost in collecting works of Art (long before the days when such collections became a matter of profit) should have always been a steady upholder of The Graphic.”

The article covers all of Manchester’s principal buildings, including the Cathedral, Chetham’s, Town Hall, Grammar School, Assize Courts, and Royal Exchange. There are two pictures of Chetham’s - boys dining in the baronial hall and a picture of the interior of the Library - one of the very few illustrations that we have that shows women visiting the Library.

As well as short descriptions of attractions, the article has lengthy accounts of ‘a bird’s eye view’, the history and religion of the city, and Manchester men, concluding that "'The second city of the Empire' is rapidly rivalling the first in eternal beauty and splendour, in setting an example of municipal administration which Londoners can only envy without the hope of copying it, and has a life of its own which points to a magnificent future. The climate may be depressing, the atmosphere heavy, the surroundings of the city unlovely, but all these things count for little when the spirit of the people is so high."

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Novel Experiences of Horses' Heads - the Origins of the Palatine Building

The Palatine Building demolition continues apace. It won't be long until it's gone and many more Mancunians will be treated to a view of our smiley faces waving to them from the windows of the lovely medieval buildings. Now seems an appropriate time to look at the origins of the building. Below is an excerpt from 1908's Manchester Streets and Manchester Men by T. Swindell...

"The next change to be noted took place in 1842, when the pile now known as Palatine Hotel and Buildings were erected. They were evidently put up in anticipation of the demand for hotel accommodation that would follow the projected extension of the Manchester and Leeds Railway line from Collyhurst to Hunt’s Bank. The speculator was Robert Gill of Mansfield Woodhouse, Notts, who was the manager of the railway company. Over the shops were a number of stables, and the top storey was intended to serve the purposes of a riding school. The approach to the stables and school was by means of an inclined slope to which there was a doorway next to the gateway of the Chetham College. It was a novel experience to see a horse’s head thrust through a window on the third floor, but such an experience was by no means rare. The venture paid for a while, but after the novelty had worn off patronage fell away, and about fifty years ago the stables and school were altered into sitting and bed rooms and added to the hotel."

Palatine Building with shop fronts

Current view of the site
Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures of said horse heads poking out of windows, although the demolition team have said that, if you listen quietly, you can hear faint neighing and a distant clip clop...

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Samuel Bamford (1788-1872)

        ‘The more the bloody tyrants bind us
         the more united they shall find us.'

The Manchester Scrapbook is a fascinating miscellany of drawings, pen and ink sketches, watercolours, maps, prints and engravings depicting  Manchester places, buildings and people in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was compiled by Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere, and presented to the Library in 1838. Many of the characters portrayed are rarely remembered, but others such as Samuel Bamford are still familiar, at least to readers interested in Manchester’s radical history.  Finding Bamford’s portrait in the scrapbook led me to explore the library’s comprehensive collection of publications by and about Bamford.  His writing is particularly valuable as accounts written by working people are remarkably absent from our history. 

Samuel Bamford - Manchester Scrapbook portrait


Bamford, a silk weaver born in 1788, was a well known political activist immersed in the reform movements of the period. The library holds several editions of his two volume political autobiography, Passages in the Life of a Radical.  The 3rd edition was printed by Bamford's friend John Heywood, a local bookseller and printer.

Cover - Passages in the life of a Radical

Bamford's first hand account of his life as an activist from 1816 to 1821 contains vivid, passionate writing from a witness who conveys the excitement and optimism and well as the disapointments and bitterness of his struggles, for instance his response to the suspension of Habeas Corpus which :

 ‘… seemed as if the sun of freedom were gone down and a rayless expanse of oppression had finally closed over us.’

Many aspects of Bamford account will be familiar to today’s activists: meetings, discussions, resolutions, writing, marching, arguments, splits, arrests and imprisonment, although fortunately we are no longer hung for high treason.  Groups were also plagued by infiltrators and informers such as ‘Oliver the spy’ who reported on the activities of the  Middleton Hampden Club, which Bamford set up in 1816  to campaign for parliamentary and social reform:

'It was not until we became infested by spies, incendiaries, and their dupes – distracting, misleading, and betraying – that physical force was mentioned among us.’

Bamford was a man of strong opinions.  On the 1 January 1817 the Hampden club passed resolutions calling for universal manhood suffrage and annual parliaments.  Although he was committed to universal manhood suffrage, Bamford’s depiction of the 'bungling knavery' of the election process illustrates his objection to an annual repetition:

‘Behold the banners: hear the music; mere glare and noise; the speakers – one side yelled dumb, the other drummed deaf – good men bullied by ruffians, and spit upon by poltroons, - demagogues cheered – scurrility applauded – fraud devised and practised – truth suppressed – falsehood blazoned – friendship – severed hatred gratified – courage threatened - cowardice rewarded – vanity flattered – modesty disparaged – cupidity bribed – sobriety scoffed - gluttony indulged - conscience hushed – honour abandoned- wrong triumphant- right abashed and contemned.'

Bamford played a significant part in organising the Middleton contingent of the reform meeting in St Peter’s Fields, Manchester, that became the Peterloo Massacre.  His eyewitness account of the day, in Passages in the Life of a Radical, depicts the horror of the cavalry charge on the crowd:

‘The cavalry were in confusion : they evidently could not, with all the weight of man and horse, penetrate that compact mass of human beings ; and their sabres were plied to hew a way through naked held – up hands and defenceless heads ; and then chopped limbs, and wound – gaping skills were seen ; and groans and cries were mingled with the din of that horrid confusion. Then, “Break ! Break! They are killing them in front and they cannot get away ;” and there was a general cry of “Break! Break.” For a moment the crowd held back as in a pause ; then was a rush, heavy and resistless as a headlong sea; and a sound like low thunder, with screams, prayers, and imprecations from the crowd-moiled, and sabre-doomed, who could not escape.’

 Social comment

Bamford was imprisoned in Lincoln Castle jail for his part in Peterloo.  After his release, his political activity became less central to his life.  He returned to work as a silk loom weaver but found it hard to make a living and started to focus on writing to supplement his income. In addition to his autobiographical writing, he was Manchester correspondent for the London based Morning Herald and wrote material about Middleton for the Manchester Guardian. 

The library has recently acquired a rare first edition of Walks in South Lancashire and on its Borders which Bamford published in 1844.  Marbling and gilt lettering on the cover make this a lovely volume. In this publication he portrays the lives and social and industrial conditions of Lancashire working people through a series of chapters and sketches with headings such as  'An Insane Genius', 'The Traveller', 'A Temperance Orator', 'Robert, the Waiter', 'Walks amongst the Workers' and 'What should be Done'?

Cover - Walks in South Lancashire


Bamford was interested in dialect even though he wrote most of his work in standard English.  He used the vernacular when reporting  working men’s dialogue in Passages in the life of a Radical and wrote a small number of dialect  poems such 'Tim Bobbin' Grave', published in Hours in the Bowers.

The library holds an 1850 edition of Bamford's Dialect of South Lancashire published by Heywood who was also a dialect writer.  John Collier, who was also known as Tim Bobbin, wrote the original volume but Bamford thought it represented Cheshire rather than Lancashire dialect so published his own ‘correct’ version.

Dialect of South Lancashire title page
Vernacular title page

This text takes the form of a dialect conversation between Tummus and Meary (Thomas and Mary) in which Tummus tells about his misfortunes on a journey to Rochdale. The piece is a fascinating illustration of how words become obsolete as language evolves over time. The glossary of words and phrases at the back is essential the modern reader confronted with passages such as:

‘Zeans! O' Inglanshoyr'll think at yoar glenting at toose fratching, byzen, cradinly tykes, at writ'n sitch papers osth' Test : an sitch cawf-teles as Cornish Peter, at fund a new ward, snying weh glums an gawries.’

‘Inglun-shoyer all England, Glentin glancing, Toose those, Byzen blind.’
We don't find Fratching' in the glossary, perhaps it was in common use at the time and readers didn't need to be told that it means quarreling.


The Library holds several volumes of Bamford’s poetry including Hours in the Bowers, 1834 and Poems, which he self published in 1843.  Miscellaneous Poetry was published in 1821 by Thomas Dolby at Brittania Press, The Strand, price 2s. 6d.  A clue to the  intended reader is seen in the description of the author as 'Samuel Bamford Weaver of Middleton in Lancashire, lately imprisoned in the Castle of Lincoln' as well as in the cover illustration by George Cruikshank,  a prolific and popular caricaturist and satirical politic artist. 

Miscellaneous Poetry front cover

There is an extraordinary warning in the preface:

'In laying before the public the poems of SAMUEL BAMFORD , the Publisher is totally unmindful of the swift and bitter arrows of Criticism.  His Author is unlettered. The arrows of Criticism which to Book Poets convey bitterness and and dismay , fall pointless and powerless against SAMUEL BAMFORD. He lives not in books. He sings to the motion of his loom…'

Bamford’s poetry is very variable. His prison writings include Eclogue, written when he was incarcerated in Coldbath-Fields prison awaiting trial for High Treason in 1817 and Hymn to Hope written in Lincoln Castle.  He wrote lyrical as well as political works, addressing themes of life, love, nature and death.

Bamford wrote for the rest of his life. In 1858 on his 70th birthday started a diary which has been edited by Martin Hewitt and Robert Poole and published as The Diaries of Samuel Bamford.  The diaries offer invaluable insights into the activities, contacts and reflections of a long lived working class man:

  ‘Above all, they reveal the poignant struggle for dignity of an old radical fallen on hard times and determined to set the historical record straight.’

Look in the library catalogue for publications by and about Bamford : http://www.chethams.org.uk/catalogue.html

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Poet's Corner - Manchester After Hours at Chetham's Library

Chetham's Library collaborates with the University of Manchester's MA Arts Management, Policy and Practice and MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies students to bring you an evening of entertainment as part of Manchester After Hours! Join us from 7-10pm in the Baronial Hall where there will be poetry and writing workshops, spoken word performances, live music and a specially curated exhibition!

As part of Manchester After Hours, this exhibition explores the artistic milieu of local poets, as well as the domestic and working lives of Mancunians in the 19th century. Brought to you by the MA Museum Studies and Art Management students from the University of Manchester, the exhibition showcases our finest collection of manuscripts and early printed books published in Greater Manchester.

The Poet's Corner, formerly known as the Sun Inn, was once situated outside Chetham’s gates and became a prominent hub of Manchester culture in the 19th century where authors and poets gathered to write and hold irregular social meetings. Some of the works produced by these poets are on display.

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