Rutland Record 28 – A Coconut Cup, a Royal Governess,and a Man who Sold his WifeThe Rutland Local History & Record Society has just published the 28th issue of its annual journal, Rutland Record. As always, this publication contains articles on different aspects of the county’s past as well as notes on the activities of local organisations involved in work on its archaeology, history, museums and archives. The first article, by Professor Alan Rogers, publishes for the first time a selection of late medieval wills from various sources covering five generations of the families of Browne (of Stamford and of Tolethorpe, Rutland), Stokes (of Warmington and Easton on the Hill) and Elmes (of Lilford and Stamford) who were closely related to each other. They reveal much about the standard of living of the wealthy urban merchants and country gentry of the period, and describe the contents of their houses. Amongst them was a drinking cup made out of a coconut and mounted on a silver-gilt stand which became a family heirloom. The Society’s Editor, Tim Clough, said, ‘These wills are of enormous interest to historians of all kinds. They describe the possessions of these people in fascinating detail, from feather beds to silver cutlery, and demonstrate how great a part religious belief played in their day-to-day lives’.
Another article, by retired librarian J D Bennett, gives details of the life of Lady Charlotte Finch, who became governess to the children of George III in the later eighteenth century, and was probably the first person to use jigsaws made from maps as teaching aids: some of her maps survive, as does the cabinet in which she kept them which is now on display at Kew.In a third article, Brian Palmer sheds light on the life of Thomas Hotchkin of Tixover, an influential member of Rutland’s lesser but still wealthy landed gentry in the nineteenth century, whose family also owned plantations in Jamaica as well as the negro slaves that went with them at the time. Thomas Hotchkin was also well known in Lincolnshire for building the Victoria Hotel at Woodhall Spa, where thousands of people took advantage of the mineral-rich waters to treat a multitude of ailments.Two other articles give details of the almshouse charity that Lord Harborough endowed at Stapleford in 1732, and of an astonishing case heard by Rutland magistrates in 1819 when Richard Hack of Clipsham, a well-to-do farmer, was up in court for having sold his wife to Charles Garfoot for half-a-crown (12½p) – a story that would have been front-page news for today’s tabloids. The outcome? Hack pleaded guilty and was fined the princely sum of one shilling (5p).Rutland Record 28 concludes with descriptions of archaeological fieldwork across the county, of Rutland archives acquired by the record office in Leicester, and of the activities of the Rutland Historic Churches Preservation Trust and of the Rutland’s own County Museum Service in 2007-08.Copies of the new publication can be obtained from the Rutland Local History & Record Society at the Rutland County Museum for £4.00 (plus £1.25 p&p), or via local bookshops. - ISBN-13: 978-0-907464-42-6.For further information, please contact: Tim Clough, Honorary Editor, RLHRS, Rutland County Museum, Catmose Street, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 6HW, or tel 01572 722316, or e-mail email@example.com