Monday, 9 December 2013

Micro-histories (and blogs): a search for the meaning of life or an exercise in privileging the marginal, the bizarre and the obscure?

In The Kiss of Lamourette,[1] Robert Darnton suggested that ambition of historians in studying individual people, documents or rituals was ‘to understand the meaning of life.That put me in mind in Douglas Adams’ The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, in which Ford Prefect concluded that a search for ‘the meaning of life’ was a ‘frivolous exercise.’ So how reliable are micro-historical studies and blogs in enhancing our understanding of social history?
Richard Evans described micro-history as the ‘privileging of the marginal, the bizarre and the obscure,[2] in that micro-historical methods can enhance our understanding of human nature, social circumstances and cultural life. For similar reasons, Edoardo Grendi described micro-studies in terms of the ‘exceptional normal.’[3]
The application of micro-historical methods by historians such as Carlo Ginzburg’s[4] and Giovanni Levi’s[5], particularly in a redefinition of the scale of observation, can also be seen in the work of historians and who are otherwise better known for their association with the Annales school and long-term social history. For example, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie in his Carnival in Romans[6] relates the events of two weeks in the history of sixteenth-century, Romans in France, against the background of religious wars. The book considers events through the actions of two main characters, Jean Serve-Paumier, a craftsman, and Judge Antoine Guerin.
Carmentran au Carnaval de Romans 2008 dans la Drôme: Gachepi, 16 February 2008.

Similarly, postmodernist, Michel Foucault’s case of Pierre Riviere[7] concerns the tale of a nineteenth-century peasant who killed his mother, sister and brother. Foucault considers the judge’s treatment of the assassin’s testimony and his refusal to analyse or interpret the psychiatry of the case.

Part of text: Moi, Pierre Rivière, ayant egorgé ma mére, ma soeur et mon frére. (1835).

One of the better known micro-studies is Natalie Zemon Davis’ The Return of Martin Guerre,[8]which has since been made into a film starring Gerard Depardieu and as Sommersby with Richard Gere and Jodie Foster. Sometime during the 1540s, in a village in the Languedoc region of France, Martin Guerre married Bertrande de Rois. It appears that Guerre suffered from impotence, had financial problems and subsequently left his wife. In 1560 Guerre returned to the village and was accepted by his wife and the villagers. However, some three or four years later it transpired that this was not Martin Guerre but a peasant, Arnaud de Tilh. The imposter was revealed following a dispute between ‘Guerre’ and his uncle when, during the course of those proceedings, the real Martin Guerre returned.

The story has been retold many times, most notably by Michel Eyquem de Mantaigne (1533-1592) an intellectual and philosopher of sixteenth-century Renaissance France. Like Ladurie, Davis recounts events using court records and the accounts of the two judges in the case, however, it is criticised for the many ‘perhaps’ and ‘may have been’s’ in her version of events.[9] For example, Davis concluded that Bertrande was a willing accomplice in the deceit practiced by Tilh: while that may have been the case, there is no documentary evidence to support that conclusion. Davis reached that conclusion, chiefly on an assumption that a wife would at least recognise her husband when it came to their experiences in the bedroom. However, Bertrande was very young at the time of her marriage and Guerre was thought to have suffered from impotency. Therefore, it is possible that his wife had limited sexual knowledge of her husband prior to his disappearance and accepted the improvement in that area of their relationship upon his return. We do not and cannot know what Bertrande really believed and the court found her innocent of practicing any deceit.
Micro-histories are not welcomed by all historians as a legitimate methodical process because of the limitations when one is unable to test a theory through the repetition of events or collective experiences. However, the reduction in scale does not have to mean a reduction in the value or extent of the results of that research. Micro-histories can, and have, uncovered social trends and factors otherwise unobserved from serial or quantitative methods. In Inheriting Power[10] Levi found that by reducing the scale of observation to a local area and putting names and places to data, it became possible to see the effect of family relationships on land prices between contracting parties, which was a previously unobserved phenomena. 
Micro-histories draw on practices usually associated with anthropology, in particular ‘thick description’, which asks ‘why?’, in contrast to ‘thin description’, which looks at the evidence and says what it is.[11] Asking ‘why?’ allows historians to place the object of study in context, as a means of enhancing our understanding of the social history revealed. Reading the evidence with reference to the social context in which it was created should help allay reservations about the cultural relativism of the object of study.
In the case of Martin Guerre, the question is whether Davis crossed the boundary between reconstruction and invention. Authors of micro-histories can resolve that problem by identifying the research procedures followed, noting any documentary limitations, and explaining the techniques of construction and interpretation applied. Postmodernists would argue that recreating the past is not possible, it has happened and we were not there - history is merely a discourse on one’s interpretation of the discourses of others. 
Carlo Ginzburg identified what we now understand to be ‘microhistory’ as being the only model that provides a ‘radical alternative to the lies of constituted society... represented by these victims of social exclusion.[12] Studies of feminist, black and civil rights movements have benefitted from micro-historical methods which reveal matters previously hidden from traditional histories. Once uncovered, the obscure individual, hidden in the archives, reveals an understanding of the lives of ordinary people which have for so long been excluded from historical records. As Fernand Braudel observed: ‘do not believe that only the actors which make the most noise are the most authentic – there are quieter ones too.’
Postscript: in the 2013 film ‘The Butler’, Hollywood has missed another opportunity to offer an accurate interpretation of a social history through the life of one individual. The film fictionalises the real life of Eugene Allen as Cecil Gaines, who served in the White House under eight US presidents, from Truman to Reagan. It moves his 1920s childhood from Virginia to Georgia while, in the film, the white overseer rapes his mother and shoots his father dead, even though there is nothing to suggest that anything like this happened to Allen’s parents. Surely Allen’s life was remarkable in its own right without the addition of a stereo-typical story of the white overseer’s rape and murder of his black workers.

[1] Darnton, R. (1990) The Kiss of Lamourette (Reflections in Cultural History), London: Faber and Faber.
[2] Evans, R.J. (2000) In Defense of History, New York: Norton.
[3] Grendi, E. (1972) ‘Microanalisi e Storia Sociale’, Quanderni Storici 7, pp. 506 –520, and (1978) Polanyi: dall’anthropologia economica alla microanalisi storica, Milan.
[4] Ginzburg, C. (1993) ‘Microhistory: Two or Three Things That I know about It’, Critical Inquiry, 20 pp. 10-35.
[5] Levi, G. (1991) ‘On Microhistory’, New Perspectives on Historical Writing, ed P. Burke, Cambridge: Polity, pp. 93-103.
[6] Le Roy Ladurie, E. (1979) Carnival in Romans, New York: George Braziller, Inc.
[7] Foucault, M., et al., (1973) Moi, Pierre Riviere, ayant egorge ma mere, ma soeur, et mon frere, France.
[8] Davis , Natalie Zemon (1984) The Return of Martin Guerre, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
[9] Finlay, R. (1988) ‘The Refashioning of Martin Guerre’, American Historical Review 93, pp. 553-571.
[10] Levi, G. (1988) Inheriting Power: the Story of an Exorcist, London: University of Chicago Press, (first published in Italy (1985) as L’eredita immateriale: carriera di un esorcista nel Piemonte del Seicento, Turin, 1976).
[11] Geertz, C. (1975, 1993) The Interpretation of Cultures, London: Hutchinson.
[12] Ginzburg, C. (1992) The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a sixteenth-century Miller, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The ‘measure of iniquity’ of an unmarried, pregnant woman in eighteenth-century England

The Leeds Intelligencer, 25 November 1755:

Last Wednesday the Coroner’s inquest sat upon the Body of a Child found dead, shockingly mangled and torn. It appeared to have been clandestinely buried [in St. Peter’s churchyard] at night and thro haste buried near the surface so that dogs or swine had rooted it out. When people throw aside all Care and Tenderness for their own Children, and never procure them the Benefit of Baptism into the Christian Church – nor after breathing out their little Souls (which most probably is owing to want of proper Nourishment) pay their poor tender Remains the Duty of common Burial, - but can so far divest themselves of Humanity as to throw them into Holes dug in Gardens, Lanes, or Ditches, as is but too often the Case, - surely the World has filled up its Measure of Iniquity. 

What was the ‘measure of iniquity’ of an unmarried girl who found herself pregnant and without the support of the child’s father in eighteenth-century England?
A woman who was pregnant was unlikely to be believed if she claimed rape, that she had been forced into a sexual encounter with her master, another man in the household, or a stranger, because the extent of medical beliefs during the eighteenth century was that the fact that a woman became was pregnant was sufficient evidence that she had been a willing partner and had ‘enjoyed’ the experience (Farr, Samuel (1788) Elements of Medical Jurisprudence).
It may have been some months before a young woman realised that she was pregnant and if she was a servant she was surely likely to lose her position and fall upon parish relief. If she was not ‘settled’ in that parish it is likely that the woman would be removed to her original place of settlement before her bastard child was born and gain a right to settlement in the place of its birth.  (See my earlier blog ) A pregnant woman with settlement in the parish would have be brought before a magistrate by the overseers of the poor and questioned as to the father of her unborn child. If his name was given and her version of event believed, the father would be expected to marry the woman or otherwise enter into a bastardy bond, committing him to support the child when born. 

These are familiar themes visited in George Eliot’s ‘Adam Bede’ and Thomas Hardy’s ‘Tess of the D'Urbervilles’. In Adam Bede, Captain Donnithorne, grandson of the local squire, flirts secretly with seventeen year old dairymaid, Hetty Sorrel. They enter into an affair and Hetty discovers that she is pregnant only after her Captain has left the area.  En route to find him, she gives birth to her child and in her distraught state she takes the baby into the woods and buries it under a tree. Hetty’s actions are discovered and she is subsequently convicted and sentenced to hang.



Hardy’s Tess spends several months as a servant, resisting the son of the family’s attempts to seduce her. Finally, Alec d’Urberville takes advantage of her and Tess returns home to her family to give birth to a child, whom she christens Sorrow. Sorrow dies soon after he is born.
Nastassja Kinski as Tess, 1980

A woman who did not know she was pregnant, or chose to hide the fact rather than admit the same to a parent or employer, might give birth to the baby alone. So many stories in the indictment records tell of young, unmarried servants giving birth alone, suppressing the noise of childbirth and hurrying to hide the signs of blood and the baby. Inevitably, the existence of an indictment relates to cases where a baby died and the mother was accused of causing its death, i.e., infanticide. The accompanying witness statements make no reference to the possibility that the delivery of a baby without medical support, however crude, by someone with no knowledge of how to cut an umbilical cord or clear the baby’s airwaves to enable it to breathe, may well have resulted in an apparently still birth.
What incentive was there for a woman in this position to admit that she had been pregnant and delivered a still-born child? Her immoral behaviour might at best result in her dismissal from her post, particularly if it was believed that a member of the household had fathered the child. At worst the woman might be wrongly accused of the murder of her child. The Concealment Act of 1624 (21 Jac. c. 27 ) defined infanticide as arising if a child was born alive, that it was a bastard child, and the means could be shown by which the mother killed it. The Act further provided, that in the absence of a witness to the birth, evidence that the mother attempted to conceal the body was evidence of her having murdered it, thus placing the burden of proof onto the accused woman to prove her innocence, in contradiction to all other rules of evidence in criminal law.
Indictments tell of the bodies of babies hidden in cupboards, boxes and dung-hills, i.e., the first hiding place that came to hand. Therefore, the fact of a baby buried in a churchyard conjures up the image of a woman who, in desperate circumstances, sought to find a spiritual resting place for her child. In a period when the burden of original sin was still prevalent, a mother would be concerned for the soul of her baby who died before it could be baptised. Burying a child in a churchyard, albeit without official baptism, is surely evidence of a mother’s attempt to ensure that the soul of her child might benefit and find its way to heaven. (See my earlier blog

If synonyms for ‘iniquity’ include not only ‘wickedness’ and ‘sin’ but also ‘injustice’ – I am sure that I know where the injustice lay in respect of many abused and abandoned women.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Gambling: a past-time of the rich, a vice of the poor.

Following the restoration of the monarchy in England in 1660, ‘vices’ supressed under the Commonwealth were allowed to resurface and flourish, with London leading the way. In 1684, Sir Thomas Neale (1641–1699) gambler and entrepreneur, responsible for the supervision of gaming at court, was appointed by Charles II to oversee gambling in London. His duties included settling disputes at gaming tables and shutting down illegal gambling houses. Neale was variously M.P. for Petersfield, Ludgershall and Stockbridge, Master of the Mint and the Transfer Office, and the first person to hold a position equivalent to postmaster-general of the North American colonies. As groom porter to Charles II, James II and William III, Neale’s interest gaming led him to devise ‘a new sort of table to be played on with balls’, and a dice, known as ‘the mathematics’, intended to eliminate cheating.[1]

Thomas Neale (postage stamp USA) 
A gaming mechanism, continental, late 18th century.[2]

Gaming continued to be a matter of concern into the eighteenth century and, while gaming among politicians and aristocrats was criticised, it was not as much of a concern as gaming among the poor. Concerns about the relationship between vice and the working poor are illustrated in Admiralty records, ADM 106/1043/19, 11 April 1747:

Commissioner Richard Hughes, Portsmouth, gives … leave to Build a small hut, for the convening of workmen, employ’d on the said [Gosport] Hospital, who are of opinion with me, a small conveniency of that kind, maybe useful and necessary  for them to Dress their victuals, eat it, refresh themselves in: But than, if granted, it ought only to be a shed, under the following Restrictions ... not to suffer the workmen, or any other Persons whatever, to  idle away their time there, to game, or tipple, so as to Intoxicate themselves …

 In 1749 magistrate and novelist, Henry Fielding, expressed a similar view on the desirability of controlling vice amongst the working poor: ‘to prevent Gaming among the lower Sort of People is principally the Business of Society … because they are the most useful Members of the Society; which by such means will lose the benefit of their Labour.’ The consequence of gambling for the ‘Rich and Great’, wrote Fielding, was ‘generally no other than the Exchange of Property from the Hands of a Fool into those of a Sharper, who is, perhaps, the more worthy of the two to enjoy it.’[3]

 While gambling and gin were considered the main ‘vices’ of eighteenth-century London, it should not be imagined that illegal gambling dens were the preserve of the poor, although there was a distinction between gambling clubs known as ‘hells’ and gambling slums known as ‘lower hells’.

Table from around 1750 has a backgammon board under a chess/checkers/draughts board, and nine men's morris at the other end. Probably German.[4]

In 1745, Lady Mordington and Lady Mary Cassillis tried to use privilege of title to prevent their illegal gambling houses from being shut down. Local officials trying to enforce the gaming laws provided the House of Lords with a letter from Lady Mordington in which she asserted that all of the employees of her Covent Garden gaming house were ‘domestic servant’ and demanded ‘all those Privileges as belong to me, as a Peeress of Great Britain’.[5]

Extracts from the Journals of the House of Lords and State Papers, April 1745:
Claims of Privilege of Peerage, to prevent Gaming Houses being suppressed.[6]

The House being informed, ‘That Mr. Burdus, Chairman of the Quarter Session for the City and Liberty of Westm'r, Sir Thomas De Veil, and Mr. Lane Chairman of the Quarter Session for the County of Midd'x, were at the Door:’

Justices of Peace were called in and, at the Bar, severally gave an Account, ‘That Claims of Privilege of Peerage were made, and insisted on, by the Ladies Mordington and Cassillis, in order to intimidate the Peace officers from doing their Duty, in suppressing the public Gaming-houses kept by the said Ladies.’

SP 36/65, f, 157, 8 April 1745: Affidavit of John Mangar and Samuel Barnes, constables, of the parish of St Paul, Covent Garden, Westminster, on the ‘notorious common gaming houses’ kept in the parish by Ladies Mordington and Cassillis; the officers being reluctant to take any action while it was possible that those involved could claim exemption from the law as peeresses of the realm.

SP 36/65, f. 159, 8 April 1745: Affidavit of Daniel Carne, high constable of Westminster relating to the claims of Lady Cassillis that as a peeress of the realm she had a right to keep a common gaming house and to protect those frequenting it, being exempted from the jurisdiction of the justices of the peace.
SP 36/65, f. 217, 17 April 1745: Order of Westminster quarter sessions for the chairman to present an account to the Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State, of all their actions in apprehending street robbers and vagrants, and with regard to the gaming houses kept by Ladies Mordington and Cassillis.

And the said Burdus thereupon delivered in an Instrument in Writing, under the Hand of the said Lady Mordington, containing the Claim she made of Privilege, for her Officers and Servants employed by her in her said Gaming-house.

And then they were directed to withdraw.

And the said Instrument was read, as follows:

Lady Mordington's Claim of Privilege:
            I, Dame Mary Baroness of Mordington, do hold a House in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden, for and as an Assembly; where all Persons of Credit are at Liberty to frequent, and play at such Diversions as are used at other Assemblies. And I have hired Joseph Dewberry, William Horsely, Ham Cropper, and George Sanders, as my Servants or Managers (under me) thereof. I have given them Orders to direct the Management of the other inferior Servants; (namely,)John Bright, Richard Davies, John Hill, John Vandenvoren, as Box-keepers, Gilbert Richardson Housekeeper, John Chaplain Regulator, William Stanley and Henry Huggins Servants that wait on the Company at the said Assembly, William Penny and Joseph Penny as Porters thereof.
           And all the above mentioned Persons I claim, as my domestic Servants; and demand all those    Privileges as belong to me, as a Peeress of Great Britain, appertaining to my said Assembly.

            M. Mordington:   Dated 8th January, 1744. 

The Lords were unimpressed and resolved on 29 April 1745 as follows:
Resolved and Declared, That no Person is entitled to Privilege of Peerage, against any Prosecution or Proceeding for keeping any Public or Common Gaming House, or any House, Room, or Place, for playing at any Game or Games prohibited by any Law now in Force.

Box Set of Gaming Pieces (Boîte de jeu), Austrian (Vienna), about 1735–40, Du Paquier Porcelain Manufactory, hard-paste porcelain, polychrome enamel decoration, gilding; gold mounts; diamonds.[7]
In his ‘Inquiry into the Causes of the late Increase of Robbers’ (1750) Henry Fielding recommend the introduction of repressive measures in the control of alcohol, gaming and the movements of vagrants, as a means of overcoming ‘the excessive leniency’ of prosecutors, juries and judges who were reluctant to convict and punish those accused of any one of an increasing number of capital offences. In the same year, George II called upon the House of Commons to consider measures ‘for enforcing the Execution of the Laws; and for suppressing those outrages and Violences, which are inconsistent with all good Order and Government; and endanger the Lives and Properties of my subjects’.[8]  In the following year (1751) he spoke of the need ‘to suppress those audacious Crimes of Robbery and Violence, which are now become so frequent, especially about this great Capital, and which have proceeded in a great Measure from that profligate Spirit of Irreligion, Idleness, Gaming, and Extravagance’.[9]

Nevertheless,despite public concerns about the vice of gambling, particularly in the area around Covent Garden, in 1870, ‘King Street’, Covent Garden, was renamed ‘Neal Street’ after the aforementioned Sir Thomas Neale.

Covent Garden: 18th century, Sutton Nicholls, © Museum of London, id: 143427

Links between gambling and excessive drinking, aggravated by the poor example set by members of the aristocracy, are highlighted in this article from The Leeds Mercury, 8 November 1763, on drinking races in public houses:

In however ridiculous a Light we might view the fashionable tho’ too prevailing Custom of Gambling among the Great, it had little Effect upon us while confined to Newmarket, and other Places of public Resort; but we are sorry to observe, that it is not only making its Way with long Strides into this manufacturing Part of the Country, but is so degenerated withal, that Wagers are now laid, even among Men ‘who call themselves Christians’, which of them shall soonest drown their Reason, and become Beasts.

 250 years later, governments are still trying to get to grips with the same problems:
[M]echanisms proposed in the alcohol field, such as restricting the availability of alcohol, tightening marketing rules, and providing tougher measures to protect the young, may be equally effective in curtailing problematic gambling …Without the necessary restrictions, there is a real danger that this will be matched in future by more people suffering alcohol and gambling problems. Mark Leyshon, policy officer for Alcohol Concern Cymru, 21 February 2013.[10]

[1], Author: D. W. Hayton.[2]
[3] Henry Fielding, A Charge Delivered to the Grand Jury at the Sessions of the Peace held for the City and Liberty of Westminster, in Lamoine, Georges (editor) (1992) ‘Charges to the Grand Jury 1689-1803’, Camden Fourth Series, volume 43, The Royal Historical Society, p. 340.
[4] Photo by Thomas Quine,
[5] Journals of the House of Lords: Chafetz, Joshua A., (2007) Democracy's Privileged Few: Legislative Privilege and Democratic Norms in the British and American Constitutions, pp. 126-127.
[6] Journal of the House of Lords volume 26: 1741-1746, pp. 485-494;, accessed: 9 November 2013.
[7] Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago.:
[8] Journals of the House of Commons (1750-1754) Volume 26, 15 May 1751, p. 233.
[9] Journals of the House of Commons (1750-1754) Volume 26, 15 November, 1752, p. 301.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The Quill Pen in the Archives

Following my earlier blog on ‘speech, manuscript and print’,, I pondered on the relationship between speech and written text, and the importance of the quill pen in times preceding the typewriter and computer keyboard.
A number of years ago, while working on the MH12 (Manchester Workhouse) project at The National Archives (TNA), I was sitting alongside Malcolm Mercer, their medieval specialist at the time, who was looking at 14th century rolls of the Coram Rege: in particular, KB 27/168/1, November 1301 - November 1302. About half way through the roll a quill pen was found twisted into the cord of the spine. The ink on the nib was a black as it would have been on the day it was left, having been protected against exposure to sunlight for 600 years. What was more important, the roll or the pen? The answer must be both: material artifacts such as the quill pen tell their own story: one can imagine the scribe going to work the following day, sitting at his desk, scratching his head and wondering where on earth he had left his pen. Likewise, Dr Susanne Jenks found a quill pen in a 1620 plea roll (CP 40/2068 part 2), an image of which can be found on the TNA website.
Quill pens were the principal writing instrument in the Western World from the 6th to the 19th century.  Quill pens were most commonly made from goose or swan feathers during the medieval period because of their compatibility with parchment and vellum: some say that the feathers of the Lincolnshire goose are the best.
If you enter ‘pen’ AND quill’ into The National Archive catalogue you get 55 results, which include quill pens left with a related document, wills left by pen and quill manufacturers and dealers, the image of quill pens to decorate tithe maps, and photographs of individuals holding a quill pen. Additional references for quill pens in TNA records can be found by a general search of the home page for ‘quill pen’.

COPY 1/460/547 - 'Photograph of oil painting by Gabriel Metsu entitled 'The Little Writer Surprised' (c. 1662): Young girl writing with quill pen at a table with a young man looking over her shoulder.

E 192/15/5 - Bills and receipts for the Countess of Warwick and Holland (many for Walter Mortimer on her behalf), 12 May 1684:
For the a/c of my Lord
                             For a book called Quintus Curtius 00  03  00
                             Latin Grammar                               00 01  06
                             For Quills                                       00  01  06
                             For paper                                       00  01  00
                             For Ink                                           00  00  06
                                                                     In all      00  07  06   
                                       I received in full the sume of 7s 6d
                                                                        I Disecote

In 1823, the Encyclopaedia Britannica offered the following helpful instructions for preparing a quill:
“In order to harden a quill that is soft, thrust the barrel into hot ashes, stirring it till it is soft; then taking it out, press it almost flat upon your knees with the back of a penknife, and afterwards reduce it to a roundness with your fingers."

IR 30/42/252- Tithe map of Middleton Quernhow (township in the parish of Wath), North Riding of Yorkshire. Decorative border: dividers, quill pen and pencil surmount the scale bar. (1838)

Metallic pens and pen nibs were introduced in the mid-19th century (although a bronze pen was found in the ruins of Pompeii). John Mitchell of Birmingham is credited with having introduced the machine-made steel pen point in 1828.
BT 51/5/8613 - Class 1: metal goods. Registered design No 8613: registered by C Brandauer and Company, Steel Pen and Pen Holder Manufacturer, of New John Street West, Birmingham.  Metallic tip of penholder. The novelty is the shape of the internal tube which admits of an ordinary pen or a crow quill or mapping pen being held in the same holder. (18 June, 1884)
A physical representation of the design can be found in BT 50/12.

While the earliest record of a reservoir pen dates to the Caliph of Egypt in 953, it wasn’t until the 1850’s that patents for fountain pens began to appear and mass production did not begin until the 1880s.
COPY 1/371/7 - "Photograph of Marianne Farmingham holding a quill pen (6 January, 1885)

COPY 1/444/552 - The Right Honourable John Blair Balfour, Lord Justice, General of Scotland. (10 February, 1900). 

A visual history of the quill pen, produced by the Museum of Writing, can be found on YouTube at