A discussion of a premodern painting, viewed through the prism of modern notions of trans identity and genderqueerness.
We are looking forward to the LGBT History Month Lecture on 24 February 2021, 5.30 pm, which will be delivered by Professor Robert Mills.
The point of departure for this talk is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch depicting a crucified saint whose identity, including their gender identity, has sparked controversy.
Current consensus is that the image represents the bearded female martyr, Saint Wilgefortis, also known as Uncumber, Ontcommer, Kümmernis etc. But other identifications have been proposed.
Contextualising the artwork with reference to medieval and early modern understandings of gender diversity and transformation, this paper will stage a dialogue between Bosch’s painting and current debates about the role of identity categories and terminology in histories of gender and sexuality.
What happens when a premodern image is viewed through the prism of modern notions of trans identity and genderqueerness?
What’s in a name?
Robert Mills is Professor of Medieval Studies and Head of the History of Art Department at UCL. Between 2015 and 2018 Mills directed qUCL, UCL’s LGBTQ research network. Previously he was director of the Queer@King’s research centre at King’s College London. Mills’s publications include Suspended Animation: Pain, Pleasure and Punishment in Medieval Culture (2005), Seeing Sodomy in the Middle Ages (2015) and Derek Jarman’s Medieval Modern (2018). He also contributed the medieval section to A Gay History of Britain (2007).
Free online event. Joining instructions will be sent automatically via email nearer the date of the event.
Queries can be addressed to Heather Shore – H.Shore@mmu.ac.uk, Craig Griffiths – C. Griffiths@mmu.ac.uk or Haseeb Khan – Mohammed.Khan@mmu.ac.uk
Being born and brought up in Oldham I was familiar with the name of Olive Claydon. There was a house in her name on Belgrave Road which supported disadvantaged children and their families, not far from the Congregational Church I attended. Every Christmas we collected toys and other treats to take there. In my memory in the 1950s and 1960s it was not residential and I don’t know when it closed, unfortunately in the current climate I can’t go to Oldham Archives to try to find out exactly how it functioned.
But who was Olive Claydon? I never asked. In fact she was a pioneer woman doctor, the first female GP in Oldham, she supported women’s suffrage and worked to improve the lot of impoverished mothers and their babies.
The registers of Manchester High School for Girls (MHSG) show that Olive was born on February 24th 1876 and entered the Lower School in January 1888. From the 1881 census we can see the family were living in Wigan and that five year old Olive (mistranscribed as Alice by the census enumerator) was born in Hove, Sussex to George Spark Claydon, a solicitor, and Sarah Maria Claydon. The family must have moved to Wigan when she was three years old because the same census shows her younger brother Eric was born there. A further move brought them to Oldham where her father joined a firm of solicitors, which became known as Wrigley Claydon and still exists in the town. When eleven year old Olive started at MHSG the family were living at 26 Marlborough Street, Oldham and they were still there at the 1891 census.
MHSG has an extensive archive and very helpful archivists. On January 27th 1892 the Governors’ Minutes show that they agreed to pay fees to Owens College, Manchester so sixteen year old Olive could have higher science lessons there. They also awarded her a scholarship on July 6th 1892 and a leaving exhibition on July 3rd 1895. A report in the Manchester Guardian July 20th 1895 about the school’s annual meeting at the Free Trade Hall lists the six girls who were awarded leaving exhibitions. All were for three years; two girls received £27, one got £30, two more were given £35 and Olive was awarded £40 for three years.
Olive’s success at school must have involved hard work and she also had to travel into Manchester each day. Her home in Marlborough Street was a short walk from Oldham’s Central Railway Station (closed many years ago) and from there she would have been able to catch a train into Manchester Victoria and probably a bus to complete her journey to school. However, she had another talent which required a lot of her time.
Oldham Local Studies and Archives holds bound copies of programmes of the Oldham Orchestral Society. Each year they gave a concert in Oldham Town Hall for the benefit of Oldham Infirmary and on January 11th 1893 sixteen year old Olive Claydon was solo pianist, she performed Concerto in G Minor by Mendelssohn on a concert grand piano loaned for the occasion. The following year on April 27th 1894 she performed Andante and Presto Agitato by Mendelssohn. Quite something for a teenager!
After leaving school Olive moved on to the London University School of Medicine for Women, she specialised in obstetrics and gained a BSc degree. She then continued to gain experience in a series of brief appointments which are listed in the MHSG archives. She started as a Clinical Assistant at Northumberland County Asylum in 1901, then moved to be Resident Medical Officer at the Edinburgh Hospital for Women and Children from April to October 1902. Next she went to Canning Town Medical Mission where she became Assistant Medical Officer until April 1903. She moved nearer home to be House Surgeon at Chorlton on Medlock Dispensary for thirteen months until May 1904. The last post listed in the archives is Resident Medical Officer, Maternity Department, New Hospital for Women, Euston Road, London from July to December 1904.
In December 1905 Olive graduated with an MD from the London Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine for Women and moved back to Oldham to become the town’s first female GP. The 1911 census shows that she was living with her parents at 29 Belgrave Road and was described as a Medical Practitioner. The census also says that the house had eleven rooms and she was working at home so her surgery must have been in the house, which was common for GPs until modern medical practices were built.
My research after this point moved to the online British Newspaper Archive. Putting Olive’s name into the search turns up no fewer than eleven mentions in The Common Cause, a weekly paper published by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and it’s clear that she played a prominent part in the local branch and in surrounding areas.
In November 1910 Dame Sarah Lees became the first female Mayor of Oldham and only the second in the country at that time. She came from a wealthy mill owning family who were great philanthropists in the town and had a daughter Marjory Lees who was just two years younger than Olive. The family lived in a large house in Werneth Park which was often the venue for meetings for causes supported by Dame Sarah and Marjory.
The first time Olive’s name appeared in The Common Cause was on November 17th 1910.
The Common Cause next reported on The Oldham Debate or what the Oldham Chronicle described as The Great Debate held in February 1911 when a large audience – as many men as women – gathered to hear Olive challenged by Mr Beaumont, an anti suffragist from Manchester. Both papers reported that his challenge was demolished and new recruits signed up to the campaign.
The reports show that Olive continued to campaign in Oldham and surrounding areas for women’s rights and particularly on the health needs of them and their children. She supported the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in Serbia and France, she addressed meetings on maternity and child welfare, she was invited to speak in Rochdale on the need for maternity centres and health visitors and she urged local authorities to support the Notification of Births Act.
Sadly, while the earlier references in The Common Cause had been of Olive’s activities, by 1915 there are reports of donations she made but not of rallies or meetings. While she was a medical student she had been diagnosed with mitral stenosis, a serious heart condition for which there was no effective treatment in her lifetime. Olive fell ill in March 1916 and died at home on October 5th 1916 aged only 40 years and it is from obituaries that we learn of her medical achievements.
The British Medical Journal described her medical politics. She represented the Society of Medical Women on the Insurance Acts Committee of the BMA which involved visits to London. She was a member of the Oldham Panel Committee and of the Oldham Insurance Committee, Medical Benefits Subcommittee, Medical Service Subcommittee and of the Lancashire Insurance Committee. She was invited to London to give evidence before the Commission on Excessive Sickness Claims, this took two days and she answered over 1500 questions. Olive strongly believed that people should not be deterred from seeking medical advice because of fear of being denied sickness benefit.
An obituary in The Common Cause quoted a letter from “one of the highest Government officials” which she received shortly before her death: “What I am trying to do is to rejoice that you have had the great joy of fighting in a great cause and of practically winning it … to bring about more just, more humane consideration for those in need of it.”
The Maternity and Child Welfare Act was passed in 1918 and contained much for which Olive worked so hard. It promoted public health and placed responsibility on city, town and county councils to provide welfare clinics and health workers.
Olive was cremated in Manchester and her remains were taken by her family to Long Melford in Suffolk to the vault where her relatives were buried. At noon on Monday October 9th 1916 simultaneous services were held in Suffolk and at Hope Congregational Church, Oldham to celebrate the life of Olive Claydon. The Oldham Chronicle reported that the church was packed and there were people standing outside. The service was attended by the Mayor, Councillors and many doctors.
In memory of his daughter, George Spark Claydon gave the family home 29 Belgrave Road to the Oldham Guardians to be converted into a nursery and place for convalescent children. There was a ceremony on August 13th 1918 where the keys were handed over and the building was named Olive Claydon House, this was also reported in the Oldham Chronicle.
As I said at the beginning, Olive’s name was known to me and my friends in the 1950s. We had no idea what a full but short life she lived.
Sources: Archives of Manchester High School for Girls
British Newspaper Archive (online via Find My Past)
Oldham Chronicle (not online, microfilms at Oldham Local Studies and Archives)
By Thomas McGrath, PhD Candidate and Associate Lecturer in History at MMU
The study of the home and the domestic sphere can tell us so much about the lives of those who have come before us. In the same way you open up a doll’s house to explore inside; we can metaphorically open up houses in the past to what was going on within that domestic space, and what it can tell us about the people who lived there. My thesis examines the homes and domestic material culture of merchants and manufacturers in Manchester and Liverpool in the period c.1780-1880. This blog post will touch upon some of the wider themes of my research regarding the changing location of elite residences by examining the homes of Sir Thomas Potter, a merchant and Manchester’s first mayor.
A Potted History of Sir Thomas Potter
Thomas Potter was born at Tadcaster, near York in 1774. He was the son of John Potter and Anne Hartley and the family lived on an extensive farm named Wingate Hill (also referred to as Wengate Hill). Potter followed his father’s footsteps and he eventually took sole control of the farm. However, around 1803 he decided to join his two brothers, William and Richard, in Manchester. The brothers entered into the mercantile world with a capital of £14,000 given to them by their father and this early investment secured their future successes.
Potter became involved with several other merchants and manufacturers through his Unitarian connections with the Cross Street Chapel. He formed the ‘Little Circle’ with men such as John Edward Taylor, Archibald Prentice, Absalom Watkin and Joseph Brotherton, where they shared ideas and thoughts based on philosophical teachings. The group supported Taylor in his foundation of the Manchester Guardian in the wake of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 and the subsequent legislation which restricted the press.
Potter was a keen supporter of the 1832 Reform Act which granted Manchester its first Member of Parliament. The Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 enabled Manchester to form its own corporation which Potter was a part of. In 1838 he was elected as the first Mayor of Manchester, eventually serving two terms and he was knighted in 1840. He died in 1845 and was buried in Ardwick Cemetery. The cemetery itself was converted into a recreational ground after its closure in the late 1950s and Potter’s remains lie with around 80,000 other underneath a football pitch.
Potter’s Homes in Manchester and Salford
The various different locations where Potter lived in Manchester and Salford are reflective of wider residential patterns of Manchester’s wealthier classes in the early-nineteenth century and they mirror his changing status and concerns in life. In 1810 when his first wife, Elizabeth (nee Palmer) died; the Potters were living on Oldham Street. Today this street lies in the heart of the Northern Quarter and it was formerly one of the main retail streets in the city but in the early 1800s it was lined with townhouses and it led to relatively undeveloped district of Ancoats. This was a central location and it was close to his warehouse on Cannon Street (now under the Arndale) and the Manchester Exchange as well as the amenities of the urban town.
A decade later Potter had left the centre of Manchester and moved a few miles west of the town to Salford. There he lived on Adelphi Street on the banks of the River Irwell. In the early-1820s this part of Salford was considered attractive countryside and Potter’s house was surrounded by open fields. By the 1820s many of Manchester’s wealthier residents were replicating this move from urban to suburban/rural. Salford and its districts were not the only popular locations for the elite, other places to the south of the town such as Ardwick and Chorlton Row (later Chorlton-upon-Medlock) were popular, as was Broughton and Cheetham to the north of Manchester.
By this time Potter had remarried to Esther Bayley and they had four children together, as well as two daughters from Potter’s first marriage. Like many of his contemporaries, Potter moved his young family out of Manchester to avoid the pollution caused by heavy industry and the rapidly increasing population. However, as James Pigot’s 1821 Map of Manchester and Salford shows, the land around Potter’s home in Adelphi Street was already being laid out with a network of streets, which highlights the rapid development of Salford. St. Philips Church would later be built in this spot between 1822-1824. The maps are part of the wonderful collection of digitised material made available by the John Rylands Library and the University of Manchester Special Collections.
Potter’s final home was at the Buile Hill Estate in Seedley and Pendleton, Salford. In 1825 Potter commissioned the architect Sir Charles Barry to design a country house to stand at the centre of this estate. By this time Barry had already constructed a number of important public buildings in Manchester such as St. Matthew’s Church and the Royal Manchester Institution (later Manchester City Art Gallery). Later in his career Barry’s other local buildings included the Manchester Atheneum and the Unitarian Chapel on Upper Brook Street. Some of his more famous works are; the Houses of Parliament, Cliveden and Highclere Castle. By choosing Barry as the architect of his home, Potter was making a clear and definitive statement about his wealth, status and taste. Buile Hill was completed in 1827 and it is thought to be Barry’s only example of a Greek, neo-classical house.
The house was depicted in Edward Twycross’s The Mansions of England and Wales: The County of Lancaster, Vol. III (1847). The book gave descriptions and presented lithographs of several, large country houses and villas across the areas covered by the hundreds of West Derby and Salford. Twycross’s volumes also covered the rest of Lancashire, Cheshire and Cornwall. It was thought he intended to cover other counties in England and Wales but this never came to fruition and he died young. As such only 52 copies of the five-volume series were ever published, making surviving copies of the books extremely rare; especially as the books have often been broken up and the lithographs sold separately. The John Rylands Library hold a copy of Twycross’s publications. The image of Buile Hill from the publication shows the house without the large porte cochère (covered porchway) which was likely added during extensions made in the 1860s.
Buile Hill continued to be occupied by the Potter family until 1877 when it was sold to John Marsland Bennett, a merchant and another former-mayor of Manchester. The Bennett family sold the house and grounds to the Salford Corporation in 1902. The house was used as a natural history museum and the grounds landscaped as a public park. In 1975 the house was turned into the Lancashire Mining Museum and the cellars were converted into replica of underground mines. It closed in 2000 and unfortunately, Buile Hill house has sat empty since.
Manchester Times, 22 March 1845, p.5
Illustrated London News, 5 April 1845, p.5
Manchester Times, 3 March 1877, p.6
Edward Twycross, The Mansions of England and Wales: The County Palatine of Lancaster, Vol. III, Southern Division, The Hundreds of West Derby and Salford, (London: Ackerman and Co., 1847)
We were delighted to learn that Professor Catherine Fletcher’s new book, The Beauty and the Terror: An Alternative History of the Italian Renaissance has been included as a Sunday Times history book of the year.
The Italian Renaissance is often remembered in glowing terms. It has been depicted as the period that brought Europe from the Middle Ages into modernity. However, as Catherine’s book explores, there is more to it than meets the eye.
Leonardo Da Vinci was famous for his art, yet he also designed weapons. Who knew that Mona Lisa was married to a slave trader? Florence is famous for Michelangelo’s David sculpture, not the massacre which forced the republic’s surrender. Where are the women writers, Jewish merchants, the mercenaries, engineers, prostitutes, farmers and citizens in the histories of the Renaissance?
The great Renaissance figures did not appear out of a fifteenth century “rebirth”, rather a tumultuous sixteenth century defined by war, famine and disease.
As Jessie Childs, author of God’s Traitors, describes, Catherine’s work is “a wonderfully dark, gritty, hard-edged tour behind the scenes of the Italian Renaissance. Catherine Fletcher is an expert and eloquent guide through the fire, blood and steel that inspired some of the greatest art in the world”.
You can purchase Catherine’s book here and see the full roundup of the Sunday Times best history books of 2020 here.
Professor Catherine Fletcher is a historian of Renaissance and early modern Europe. Her previous books include The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici and The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story. Catherine is Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University and broadcasts regularly for the BBC.
These are extracts from letters written from composer, socialist and suffragist Hope Squire, 12 Parsonage Road, Withington, Manchester to her husband the RNCM pianist Frank Merrick, imprisoned in Wormwood Scrubs during WW1, as a Conscientious Objector.
‘June 14th, 1918: ‘Supper party: Elsie Hill came to tea and Phillis with little Jack and a Mrs. Hayes (a peculiar little woman with a 15-year-old daughter- the mother looks about 16!) and McMurdo. We had rissoles of lentils and barley.’
August 14th, 1918: ‘[Phillis’s] friend Mrs. Hayes has married Mr. Rodway, recently discharged from prison on ill health.
Letter from Frank Merrick to Hope Squire:
27th August 1918: I am glad Rodway is out, I think his was the first CO face I saw when Childe Merrick to the Dark Tower came. Felicitations to him and Mrs. Hayes.
(DM2103 Bristol University Archive)
For the last few years, I have been researching the life of a Manchester woman, a socialist and pacifist, Phillis Annie Skinner (1874-1950) who was arrested in June 1917 for handing out anti-war leaflets (see below: Social Pamphlets R188260 John Rylands Library) near the Prees Heath training camp in Cheshire where her conscientious objector husband Allen Skinner had been court martialed in the autumn 1916.
Phillis Skinner was arrested with her friend Mrs. Hayes and both were sentenced to three and one month respectively in Strangeways prison in Manchester. I also knew a little bit about Mrs. Hayes from an announcement in the Manchester Conscientious Objectors Journal, which was co-edited by Phillis Annie Skinner and trade unionist Emily Cox, celebrating Mrs. Hayes’ marriage to conscientious objector Edwin Rodway in July 1918:
Not often do we hear of our COs walking from the prison to the altar. But such a thing happened on Tuesday July 22.  Mr Edwin Rodway who was discharged from Winchester prison on June 28 celebrated his release in a most tangible manner by taking’ unto himself a wife’. The happy bride, Mrs Hayes, being herself a staunch CO, also has done a term in the ‘mansion of the Blest’ just twelve months ago.
And I had gathered a little more information about Mrs. Hayes from the two references cited above, in the Squire/Merrick collection of letters.
However, recently I have discovered even more, and here is the story of my detection.
I knew nothing else about Mrs. Hayes until I began to read through some newspaper cuttings about the arrest of the two women in 1917, in what became known as ‘The Peace Crusade Case.’ The Women’s Peace Crusade was a series of over 120 women-led spontaneous demonstrations against the war. It ran through the country like wildfire during 1917-1918, mobilised by socialist and suffrage women. Manchester had at least two Crusades and Manchester women were regular speakers on Crusade platforms across the country. This photo is of a Crusade badge, owned by Emma Binns of Bradford.
The Peace Crusade case and the imprisonment of Phillis and Maud was brought up in the House of Commons by sympathetic Quaker MP George Trevelyan in July 1918. But then, one of the newspaper cuttings about the arrest mentioned that one of the women was a Mrs. Maud Hayes and from that one clue, I was able to start building up a picture. Searching through the census I discovered that in 1911, Maud Hayes (b.1886) was living as a lodger with the Worthern family in Chorlton cum Medlock. She put ‘married’ on the form: but there was no daughter listed and so I wondered if Hope Squire had made a mistake. And where was Mr. Hayes?
I then worked alongside the Genealogy team at Manchester Archives and we discovered that a John Percy Hayes (b.1873) a bookkeeper from Hulme, had married a Maud Edwards in Chorlton in 1906. I looked up Maud Edwards on the 1901 census, discovering that she was the daughter of Edward Edwards a warehouseman and his wife Emily, a midwife. They lived in Chorlton cum Hardy. I sent away for the 1906 marriage certificate and found that 20-year-old Maud Edwards living at 14, Vine Street Hulme had married her neighbour 33-year-old JP Hayes who lived at 12 Vine Street in January 1906. The witnesses were her stepfather Frank Thornton Moore and her mother Emily Moore. But there was still no mention of a daughter. John Percy Hayes had left Manchester before 1911, and worked for some time in Africa, returning home in May 1917 on the SS Tarquam. He died on June 19th, 1917, in the Manchester Royal Infirmary leaving £256 8s 5d to his widow Maud Hayes. But there was still no mention of a daughter.
In early July 1917, just after JP Hayes’ death, Maud and Phillis were at Prees Heath camp and then both women were imprisoned in Strangeways until the autumn. Allen Skinner was still in prison as was Maud’s sweetheart Edwin Rodway. Both men were released early because of ill health. Last month, I sent away for Edwin Rodway and Maud Hayes’ 1918 marriage certificate. You can do that now if you have got the right details from the archive and can spare £10. I don’t know why I hadn’t sent for it before. When the certificate arrived, in a plain brown envelope, I had almost forgotten about it, so when I saw what it was, I let out an instinctive squeak of delight. The ceremony, at Chorlton Registry Office, was witnessed by none other than my favourite activist, the elusive Phillis Annie Skinner. By this time, Allen Skinner was in a sanatorium in Manchester with severe arthritis in his legs. He always walked with a limp after that.
On a whim, I decided to visit the 1939 register on the archive site and saw that Edwin and Maud, living in suburban Manchester, had a son in 1919, whom they called Allan, perhaps after Phillis’ CO husband Allen Skinner. I had time on my hands- well, who doesn’t in these lockdown days? – so, I looked up Allan Rodway on another site to see if he married and yes, in 1946, Allan Rodway married Kathleen Harrop in Oldham. Idly, I ran Rodway/Harrop through the system, to see if they had had children, I was guessing at birth dates in the late 40s or early 50s. And there was Christine (b. 1947) and her sister born in 1949. Here is a picture of Maud with Allan and Kathleen with their daughters in the 1950s.
I then ran Christine’s name through the system and saw that she had married in 1974, and with those two names to play with, I saw that they had three children. One daughter, born in 1983, had an unusual name, so I took a chance and googled her. I saw that she had worked for a company in Oxford, so I emailed them and got a reply from a work colleague saying he would forward my email and he copied in her mother. Her mother was Christine Gamble nee Rodway. I emailed Christine and indeed she confirmed that Edwin (known as Ted) and Maud were her grandparents. I squeaked again with delight.
Her father Allan had died in 2008, having been imprisoned briefly as a CO in WW2, leaving a large bequest to CND. His story is also an amazing one, starting out as an insurance clerk in Manchester, he taught himself while working in a CO forestry project during the war, won an exhibition to Cambridge and then taught English at Nottingham University. His obituary was in the Guardian.
Chris and I met recently, drinking tea outside her home, while mindful of social distance. She showed me pictures of Maud with Allen, in the early 1920s. She had no idea that Maud had been in prison in 1917 although she knew that Maud had been cautioned in WW2 for handing out anti-war Peace Pledge leaflets.
And then she asked me if I knew that Maud had had a daughter before she was married. Of course, I had suspected that Maud had had a baby but now I knew that Hope Squire had been right: baby Ethel was born in 1903, and she lived until she was 101,dying in 2004! Christine knew her as Aunt Jane, and she had lived with her mother after Ted’s death in 1945 and after Janes’ failed marriage.
The baby had been named Ethel Hayes Edwards on her birth certificate, which suggested strongly that she was the daughter of John Percy Hayes. In 1902 after the death of Edward Edwards, Maud’s father, Emily had remarried an auctioneer’s clerk, Frank Moore. Her father’s death and her mother’s swift remarriage in 1902 coincided with Maud’s pregnancy and Ethel’s birth in 1903. A complicated year for the 16-year-old Maud.
Perhaps JP Hayes was a sympathetic neighbour? Perhaps it was a fleeting affair? But what really happened is, of course, a matter of conjecture. We can only imagine why it took three years for Maud and JP Hayes to marry in 1906. Here is a photo of Jane, taken in the 1930s. She is in the centre of the photo, with Ted and Maud, Honor (b1927) and Gerry (b1928).
However, in 1911, aged seven and at school, little Ethel was living with her grandmother Emily, in Denmark Road, Moss Side while Maud was boarding at the Worthens in Hulme. The reasons for Maud to be living apart from them in 1911 are still unclear and I don’t know how Maud met Ted Rodway. Perhaps they were ramblers, certainly their surviving son Gerry (b1928) remembers them walking for miles when he was a child.
The address on the marriage certificate for Maud and Ted in 1918 was 168 Denmark Rd in Moss Side which was next door to the address given for her mother in the 1911 census: 170 Denmark Rd. However, Allan was born in Hayfield Derbyshire and Ted’s brother John was recorded as living in Hayfield on his military papers. John died at the Somme in July 1916 aged 29. The Rodways seem to have lived in Hayfield until the mid-1920s, when they moved back to Manchester to ensure that their children got a good education. This is a picture of Maud with her son Allan in the early 20s.
Chris gave me a copy of the letter that Ted wrote to the Military Tribunal in 1917: Ted declared himself a freethinker and an absolutist, meaning he would do no work that supported the war in any way. He was sent to Wormwood Scrubs and then to Winchester prison. When he was released in 1918, Hope Squires wrote to Frank Merrick that, ‘his firm have received him with open arms and gave him a cheque for £10 to go and have a holiday.’ (August 1918 DM2103/F5/1/2) This was a rare example of support for conscientious objectors whose usual experience was one of rejection and dismissal from work.
Maud and Ted had three children. This is a photo of Ted and his daughter Honor (b1927) in their garden at Heswall Avenue in Manchester.
Gerry (b 1928) is still alive and living in New Zealand but cannot remember any further political activity by his parents during the 30s or during WW2. He recalled that the Skinners were mentioned and that his parents continued to be ramblers. Both Ted and Maud were socialists and may have met through a local branch of the Independent Labour Party. Chris recalled that Granny Maud was a staunch anti- monarchist and was the only person not to stand up for the National Anthem at one of her prize givings at school in the 1960s. Determined as ever, free thinker, agnostic and anti-monarchist, Maud Hayes/Rodway is a forgotten radical, but piecing her story together and looking at Phillis’ story, I wonder if there were more radical women than the accepted ‘narrative’ of WW1, suggests.
There is a similarly dense backstory to Phillis and Allen Skinner and their son Jack, who was another CO in WW2. However, the Skinners were politically active for the rest of their lives and were under surveillance by M15 through the 30s,40s, and the 1950s. This – hopefully – will be my next blog post.
By Haseeb Khan, Graduate Research Assistant for the MCPHH and PhD candidate in History at MMU
“the Indian Mussulmans are deeply irritated to learn of the proposed mockery of the prophet on the stage of a country which has pledged itself to respect their religious feelings”
Letter in The Times protesting the performance of “Mahomet”
The above quote is remarkably relevant today, yet it is not a recent one. It is in fact a response to the 1890 play “Mahomet”, which was due to be performed in the Lyceum Theatre, London. A letter in The Times, signed by the vice president of the Liverpool Muslim Institute (LMI) with the hall mark of the Victorian convert Abdullah Quilliam, urged that the play be cancelled. By the summer of 1890 news of the play had reached India. It was met with protests matched in size by those protesting Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses around a century later. The Satanic Verses have been depicted as a turning point for the development of a British Muslim identity, and the symbolism of such a similar event occurring one hundred years earlier is important.
Not to be confused with the Quilliam foundation, who have arguably co-opted the Quilliam name to further their own political ends, Abdullah Quilliam is starkly understudied. He is a vital figure in the history of Muslims in Britain. This history did not start with migration from the collapsing British empire in the 1950s. Whether as slaves, prisoners, travellers, diplomats, traders, students or lascars (sailors), Muslims have existed in Britain for several centuries. Towards the end of the nineteenth century settled Muslim communities began to emerge in port towns such as Cardiff, Liverpool and South Shields. The Muslim community in Liverpool was diverse. Alongside lascars, visiting students, and dignitaries from the Muslim world were a group of Victorian converts, led by the lawyer and philanthropist Abdullah William Quilliam. These early British Muslims founded the LMI in 1891. They established a fully-fledged community and had a mosque, school, library, lecture hall, provided accommodation and Islamic marriage and funeral services. The LMI left behind a plentiful array of sources including their own regular newspapers, The Crescent and Islamic World, and many of Quilliam’s own writings. These sources formed the basis of Ron Geaves’ work which recounted the story of Quilliam and the Liverpool Muslims. The availability of such valuable source material makes it more surprising that only a handful of historians have tackled this seemingly forgotten history.
My research seeks to question the accepted historiographical timeline of British Muslim identity. That being, it was not until the 1990s and events such as the Rushdie Affair and the War on Terror that a British Muslim identity emerged. Rather before this, Muslims in Britain identified themselves and were identified by state and society in terms of their “race” or country of origin. The use of “race” in the previous sentence appears to assume that religion cannot be racialised. Can “race” not subsume religious identities? There have been studies of this topic in relation to Catholic and Jewish communities in Britain but less so for Muslims. Accordingly, I will engage with theories of race and religion and apply them to Muslim groups.
The Abdullah Quilliam Society in Liverpool have restored the LMI’s mosque on Brougham Street. With help from the British Library they have also digitised many of the available sources on Quilliam and the Victorian Liverpudlian Muslim community. I hope to utilise this material in the pursuit of uncovering some of the lost history of Muslims in Britain.
You can learn more about the Abdullah Quilliam Society’s work here.
Mischling: the contrasted destiny of ‘half-jews’ in the Third Reich, between persecution and survival
We are delighted to be hosting Jean-Marc Dreyfus on 3 December for the Sam Johnson Memorial Lecture.
‘Mischling’ : the contrasted destiny of ‘half-Jews’ in the Third Reich, between persecution and survival Nazi policy obsessively classified people. With the Nuremburg racial laws of September 1935, the status of ‘half-blood’ Jews, whether of ‘first’ or ‘second degree’, was inscribed in the German civil code. At least 700 000 Germans fell into those categories and were submitted to severe legal restrictions. At the end of the war, many were interned in labour camps. We now know that they survived; the final decision on their fate remained pending. This presentation will describe the state of the research on the topic of ‘half-Jews’ in Germany and also the difficult memory of their persecution. Jean-Marc Dreyfus is Reader in Holocaust Studies at the University of Manchester. His last book (in French), describes the life story of Vollrath von Maltzan, a ‘Mischling’ who became the first West-German ambassador to Paris after WWII.
Jean-Marc Dreyfus is Reader in Holocaust Studies at the University of Manchester. His last book (in French), describes the life story of Vollrath von Maltzan, a ‘Mischling’ who became the first West-German ambassador to Paris after WWII.