` History of Women’s Right to Work Act ‘

A Woman's Work

A Woman’s Work (Photo credit: jumpinjimmyjava)

#AceHistoryNews says following on from `International Woman’s Day‘ l thought this post about `Women’s Right to Work’ was apt.

Firstly this act changed the previous legal situation, in which all property automatically transferred to the control of a husband on marriage.

It granted some limited separate protection to a married woman’s property and also permitted women to retain up to £200 of their own wages or earnings.

Similar changes did not take effect in Scotland until 1877.

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International Woman's Day :*Denomination: 60 F...

International Woman’s Day :*Denomination: 60 Filler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Families and households:

Because of high birth rates and improving life expectancy, Victorian families were generally large. The growth of residential domestic service, even low down the social scale, and the prevalence of lodgers, especially in towns, meant that many households were further swollen in size and complex in formation.

Although households consisting of more than two generations or containing more than one husband/wife partnership had never been common in Britain, there was a tendency, especially in textile districts, for grandparents to live in households containing young children, particularly where mothers were working outside the home.

…many households were dependent upon female earnings, especially those households run by widows.

Many young people, especially young women, migrated to towns and cities in search of work as the possibilities of agricultural employment declined. Migration was facilitated by family and other connections: communities were recreated in towns and cities through local concentrations of settlement of particular ethnic, religious, regional or familial groups and by the possibility of finding accommodation through lodging or domestic service in the homes of contacts of this kind.

Most households necessarily drew income from a number of sources, with many women and juveniles adding to wage earning even if their employment was usually more intermittent and low-paid than that of adult males. Although the male breadwinner wage was increasingly regarded as the ideal and even the norm, in practice many households were dependent upon female earnings, especially those households run by widows.

As the mid-Victorian boom got under-way the demand for female and juvenile labour expanded, particularly where new technologies or patterns of work were resented by skilled men. Cheap female and immigrant labour was often used to undercut male workers. Urbanisation created manifold opportunities for female employment despite the regulation of hours and conditions of work for women and juveniles in certain sectors, and the coming of compulsory education after 1871. Thus most women in Victorian society, in the two-thirds of the population below the upper and middle classes, worked for wages. But in what occupations and how much?

The evidence of women’s work:

Two Victorian woman at work in a hat factoryWorkers in a hat factory  ©One of the greatest problems facing the historian of women’s work is the absence of reliable information. The census enumerators’ books are the most obvious source, especially for the period after 1841 when occupations were included; but in practice such information is vastly more accurate for men than for women for several reasons. Firstly, contradictory and inconsistent instructions were given about how to classify women’s work, particularly where this involved home-working or consisted of helping in a family run business (such work was sometimes deliberately excluded from the record). Furthermore, women’s work was often part-time, casual, and not regarded as important enough to declare.

Women may have also have preferred to keep their income-earning a secret from their husband.

Sometimes it was illegal (as with prostitution) or performed in unregulated sweatshops (a further reason for failure to record). Women may have also have preferred to keep their income-earning a secret from their husband. An occupational designation, for whatever reason, meant something very different for men than for women.
With the emphasis primarily upon their role as wives and mothers, women workers did not usually see their occupation as a centrally defining characteristic of their lives, and therefore frequently failed to declare it.

Business records can be used to supplement the census and to give an indication of the gender-specific nature of employment and wage earning in certain firms and regions. But the survival of wage books is generally poor and biased in favour of larger firms in the regulated sector – for example factory textile employment, where wages and employment levels were generally much higher than the norm.

Trade directories are another useful source but suffer from the fact that they were published irregularly, and record not employment but the names of business proprietorships. Household budgets have recently been used for research on women’s work. They have the advantage that they generally record all incomes, including poor relief and self-provisioning, allowing one to assess the contribution of women and juveniles to the family economy. Their disadvantage is that they have patchy survival over time and region, and they have varying levels of detail, accuracy and comparability because they were compiled for differing purposes.

The varieties of women’s work:

Two Victorian woman working on the stitch work of a womans dressWorking in the rag trade  ©What do we know from the difficult evidence about patterns of women’s work over time and in different regions and sectors of the economy? The most obvious feature of women’s work was its importance to most families, its variability across time and space and its persistent association with certain trades and sectors.

Female employment in the 1850s, 60s and 70s appears to have been higher than any recorded again until after World War II. Family budget evidence suggests that around 30-40 per cent of women from working class families contributed significantly to household incomes in the mid-Victorian years. This might have been even higher during the industrial revolution decades, before the rise of State and trade union policies regulating female labour and promoting the male breadwinner ideal.

Domestic service of all kinds was the single largest employer of women ...

As in earlier centuries, the bulk of waged work for women appears to have been found in trades associated with female skills or proclivities, particularly where these were also casual and low paid.
Domestic service of all kinds was the single largest employer of women (40 per cent of female occupations stated in the census of 1851 in provincial cities and 50 per cent in London). The textile and clothing sectors came a close second. Women were also found in large numbers in metal wares and pottery and in a variety of petty trades, especially in towns: confectionery, brewing and other provisioning, seam-stressing, laundry work, cleaning and retailing. Because many sectors which employed large numbers of women were concentrated in certain regions of the country (as with the cotton and woollen industries of south Lancashire and west Yorkshire), the statistics of female labour force participation varied across the country.
Women and the family firm:

Outside the working classes the traditional view of Victorian women is that they were little involved in business or enterprise and that their lives were largely devoted to the private sphere of domestic and family life. Certainly the cultural and evangelical ideals of the period placed women on a pedestal of moral probity, motherhood and domestic orderliness. There is some evidence that middle class women in some sectors of the economy did increasingly withdraw from direct involvement in family firms in the mid-Victorian period, whilst the legal status of married women and their limited property rights made it difficult for them to operate in business on their own account at least before the 1880s.

…the stereotype of the middle-class woman as the angel in the house can easily be overplayed.

 However, the stereotype of the middle class woman as the angel in the house can easily be overplayed. Widows and spinsters were rarely in a position to rest on their laurels or be ladies of leisure. Many of the former carried on family businesses after the death of their husbands, whilst the significant surplus of spinsters in Victorian society found work as governesses or in trades which were regarded as suitable for women such as millinery and inn-keeping, grocery retailing and other victualling.
Both widows and spinsters were prominent in property ownership and in financing businesses as sleeping partners. The typical firm in the 19th century was a small family partnership. Because of this many opportunities existed for wives and daughters to be closely involved. There is evidence of their important roles, especially behind the scenes: in retailing, book-keeping, correspondence, dealing with clients, arranging deals.
Women’s work, industrialisation and gender:

A photograph showing a Victorian woman working on making hat boxesMaking hat boxes  ©The nature of industrialisation was much influenced by the prevalence of women’s work and by the wider role of women in Victorian society. Women were prominent in many sectors which underwent considerable technological and organisational change partly because employers at first found it easier to recruit women and juveniles to new practices in the face of opposition from established, unionised or skilled adult male workers. Women provided a flexible, cheap and adaptive workforce for factories and sweatshops, and had feminine skills associated with some of the most rapidly expanding consumer goods industries at the forefront of industrialisation such as textiles, pottery, clothing and victualling. Some new technologies were adapted and modified with young female workers in mind, while the cheap labour of women and children could also hold back mechanisation in favour of traditional labour intensive methods.

Women provided a flexible, cheap and adaptive workforce…

Regional and sectoral variations in the extent to which women were involved in waged work had a major impact upon regional differences in gender relations within families and communities, and upon the complexion of local politics and trade unionism. Women’s wage-earning ability often gave them more influence over wider familial and community decision-making. This included decisions about consumption, and has been held partly responsible for the increasing independence and fashion consciousness of young women, and the rise in mass spending on household goods, clothing, furniture, curtains and foodstuffs. The more women worked for wages the less time they had to produce their own goods for the home.
A double burden:

A Victorian wife keeps house for her on looking husbandVictorian working women bore the brunt of household duties (Punch cartoon, 1894)  ©In areas where many women, including married women, worked full-time for wages (for example in some of the cotton textile towns of the north-west such as Preston) there may have developed greater sharing of housework between men and women, and a more prominent role for women in local politics. However, there are more examples where working women shouldered the double burden of waged work and the bulk of household responsibilities, and where their role in politics remained marginal.

…working women shouldered the double burden of waged work and the bulk of household responsibilities…

As the 19th century progressed, there was a greater prevalence of gender-specific employment which was often used to enhance control and discipline in the workplace.
Supervisory roles were almost exclusively taken by men, and men also came to operate the most expensive and sophisticated machinery and to monopolise the high status and higher paid jobs even in textiles.
The expansion of heavy industries such as iron, steel, mining, engineering and ship building in the later century also created sectors which employed almost exclusively male labour, which were associated solely with male attributes and which endorsed the male breadwinner ideal. Thus a hardening of gender assumptions in the nineteenth century was closely associated with corresponding changes in the workplace.
Find out more:

Books

Women’s History in Britain, 1850-1945 ed. June Purvis (London UCL Press 1995) A collection of essays covering a range of topics from women’s work and the family to education, health, sexuality and politics.

Women, Gender and Industrialisation in England, 1700-1870 by Katrina Honeyman (Basingstoke Macmillan, 2000) A concise volume good on gender, class and industrialisation.

The First Industrial Woman by Deborah Valenze (Oxford OUP, 1995) Good on the implications of shifting employment patterns, agricultural work and domestic service.

A History of European Women’s Work, 1700 to the present by Deborah Simonton, (New York Routledge, 1998) Good for the longer time perspective and for European similarities and contrasts.

Links:

The Womens’ Library An organisation of historians of women in Britain promoting research and writing on women’s history. This website also contains a number of very useful links to other websites associated with the history of women.

Spartacus Schoolnet A website directed at schools containing biographies of key women in the history of the British women’s movement.

Places to visit:

There a several museums which help to recapture the nature of Victorian society and the place of women within it, most obviously the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which has wonderful collections of art and artefacts reflecting the nature of the middle and upper-class Victorian home. Smaller museums yield information and evidence of women’s work and their patterns of dress and consumption. Most notably Quarry Bank Mill at Style, Cheshire; the textile museum in the Halifax Piece Hall; and Platt Hall Museum, Manchester.

The new industrial and commercial middle classes of the Victorian era were great patrons of the arts, and some British provincial art galleries contain major collections of the sorts of works which they commissioned as well as work depicting domestic interiors and women. Amongst the best of these art galleries are the Birmingham City Art Gallery and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

Consult some primary sourcesT detailing the nature of women’s work and household activities such as business records, census enumerator’s books, trade directories, household budgets and private diaries. Details of business records relating to women in the West Yorkshire textile industries can be found in The West Riding Wool Textile Industry: a catalogue of business records by Pat Hudson, (Edington, Pasold, 1976). Other guides to archive holdings can be found on the websites of most major repositories. Many collections of working class autobiographies have been published and include several written by women. For a guide see for example, The Autobiography of the Working Class: an annotated critical bibliography vols 1-3 ed. by J. Burnett, D. Vincent and J. Mayall, (Hassocks Harvester 1984, 1987, 1989).

Examining surviving Victorian housing from outside and from within can be very revealing particularly if these can be matched to information from Census returns. It is possible to reconstruct Victorian households at each census point and to imagine where each household member resided within the house. In many major cities there are now organised walks which are helpful in tracing Victorian history and women’s history trails. Details of these can usually be obtained from local history libraries.

About the author:

Pat Hudson is Professor of History in the School of History and Archaeology at Cardiff University. She specialises in the impact of economic and social change within different local and regional, economic, social and cultural settings. Her books include The Industrial Revolution (London, 1992).

 

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” I Have A Dream Sculpture in St Helens Lancashire”

#AceHistoryNews says the Dream is a sculpture and a piece of public art by Jaume Plensa in SuttonSt HelensMerseyside. Costing approximately £1.8m, it was funded through The Big Art Project in coordination with the Arts Council Englandthe Art Fund and Channel 4.

Dream at Sutton Manor Colliery outside of St H...

Dream at Sutton Manor Colliery outside of St Helens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Origin:

 Channel 4‘s “The Big Art Project” along with several other sites. The project culminated in the unveiling of “Dream”, a 66 feet sculpture located on the old Sutton Manor Colliery site. St Helens retains strong cultural ties to the coal industry and has several monuments including the wrought iron gates of Sutton Manor Colliery, as well as the 1995 town centre installation by Thompson Dagnall known as “The Landings” (depicting individuals working a coal seam) and Arthur Fleischmann‘s Anderton Shearer monument (a piece of machinery first used at the Ravenhead Mine).

The council and local residents (including approximately 15 former miners from the colliery) were involved in the consultation and commission process through which the Dream was selected. The plans involved a full landscaping of the surrounding area on land previously allowed to go wild after the closure of the pit.

English: Dream Sutton Manor New sculpture near...

English: Dream Sutton Manor New sculpture nearing completion on the site of Sutton Manor Colliery. The workmen give scale to the 20 metre high work of art. Dream is fabricated in pre-cast concrete, with a white, almost luminescent finish using a marble/concrete aggregate mix in marked contrast to the black of the coal that still lies below. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dream consists of an elongated white structure 66 feet (20 m) tall, weighing 500 tons, which has been cast to resemble the head and neck of a young woman with her eyes closed in meditation. The structure is coated in sparkling white Spanish dolomite, as a contrast to the coal which used to be mined here. It cost nearly £1.9 million and it is hoped it will become as powerful a symbol in North West England as Antony Gormley‘s Angel of the North is in North East England.

Jaume Plensa himself stated “When I first came to the site I immediately thought something coming out of the earth was needed. I decided to do a head of a nine-year-old girl who is representing this idea of the future. It’s unique.”

The original design of the sculpture called for a skyward beam of light from the top of the head, and the sculpture’s working title was “Ex Terra Lucem” (“From the ground, light”), a reference to St Helens’ previous motto. Due to objections from the Highways Agency, the sculpture was not lit, but in 2010 a new planning application was submitted to St Helens Council for it to be floodlit.

The Dream sculpture is built out of moulded and cast unique concrete shapes, 90 pieces in all contributing to over 14 tiers (54 individual elements for the head, each weighing 9 tonnes). Dolomite was utilised as a concrete aggregate in order to provide the brilliant white finish. Additionally titanium dioxide was added to the mix in order to provide a self-cleaning mechanism. The construction required the construction of individual moulds for each piece and took a total of 60 days to cast.

The foundations of the sculpture extend 125 feet into the ground with 8 piles driven in to secure it.

The sculpture is sited on an old spoil tip of Sutton Manor Colliery which closed in 1991 and it overlooks the M62 motorway. Prospective visitors may download audio guides and smart phone apps before visiting.

  1. “The Daily Mirror Website”. The Mirror. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  2. “St. Helens Dream”. St. Helens Council.
  3. “The Channel 4 Big Art Project In St.Helens”. Channel 4.
  4. Sooke, Alastair (25 April 2009). The new face of the North West. Telegraph Review. The Daily Telegraph. p. 16
  5. “The St Helens Star Website”. St Helens Star. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  6. “Visiting Dream. Dream-St. Helens. Retrieved 4 March 2012.

 

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“Lindisfarne Gospels”

#AceHistoryNews says the story of the “Lindisfarne Gospels” are part of our very fabric of Britain, this is how they came into being.    

LGStLukecarpetpg.jpg

The Lindisfarne Gospels, British Library

An Eight Century monk’s artistic legacy is one of Britain’s greatest literary and religious treasures.

The Lindisfarne Gospels were produced more than 1300 years ago at the monastery of Lindisfarne on the Northumbrian coast. The single volume manuscript consists of 500 pages of beautiful calligraphy and decorative symbols. An Anglo-Saxon translation of the Latin text was added two centuries later and is the earliest known English version of the gospels. The book survived the centuries in spectacular condition and is now held by the British Library.

Dr Michelle Brown, curator of illuminated manuscripts for the British Library, has researched the origins and craftsmanship of the work. Her findings are shared at an exhibition called Painted Labyrinth – the World of the Lindisfarne Gospels. The original manuscript is the centrepiece of the free event alongside an exact duplicate which visitors will be able to handle.

Dr Brown said: “The gospels hold a timeless universal appeal. It was made in an era of immense multiculturalism in England and the imagery is a mix of Roman British, Irish, Germanic, Mediterranean and even Middle Eastern influences. This was a deliberate attempt to include all aspects of society and faith resulting in a breathtaking piece of art.”

LGStLuke.jpg

The central text is the Christian gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with prefaces by Saint Jerome. Dr Brown said: “The Lindisfarne Gospels were made in memory of Saint Cuthbert who lived near the abbey and was Bishop of Lindisfarne for a time. He was canonised soon after his death in 687. The work was probably carried out from 715 to 720. The book was clearly made by one skilled artist unlike many medieval manuscripts which were made by a team of scholars.”

Bishop Eadfrith, leader of the monastery from 698 to 721, is credited as the creator of the work. Dr Brown said: “The monastery was responsible for the spiritual welfare of people living across the north of England and southern Scotland up to Edinburgh. Eadfrith administered this social service. He also attended church eight times every day as part of his duties. It is amazing he was able to dedicate time to the production of the Gospels.”

Eadfrith was inventive and came up with modern solutions to problems he encountered. Dr Brown said: “We now understand the process used to generate the lavish pages. Each piece of vellum covered two pages, for example a spread of pages two and seven, which when folded and bound together created the book. The elaborate designs took up more space than the text in the Naples gospels he was copying from so it was a complex task to visualise the end design at the early stages. Eadfrith created test sheets using his own costly vellum to solve the problem. First he drew out his designs on one piece of vellum. Then he placed another piece over the top and carefully copied the markings. He rubbed the vellum in order to transfer the ‘pencil’ drawings onto the back of the sheet, as a reversed design.”

Images from the British Library

LGStMatthew.jpg

Dr Brown continued: “He then turned the sheet over and painted on the other side from the drawings, using candles to backlight, like a modern light box. This ensured his detailed drawings were not obscured by the first layers of pigment and could be followed and consulted throughout the painting process. He worked on the front of the second piece using a candle as a backlight. The finished work has no preparation markings on the painted side because the layout is all on the back.”

Research also shows Eadfrith adapted and expanded on existing artistic practice. Dr Brown said: “Pigment analysis reveals the gospels have 108 distinct shades. This is in an era when just three colours were generally used for work of this type. Eadfrith used a palette of six base colours made from locally available substances from which he expanded his range. We also believe Eadfrith may have been the inventor of the pencil. The traditional method of marking a design was to score the page using bone, it was difficult to read and paint was often trapped in the indentations. Eadfrith used a metal point with a lead graphite element so the grooves were not as deep. This is about 400 years before any other recorded use of a pencil.”

The exhibition features the different production styles used on the manuscript. It also looks at how the book has been passed down through the ages. Dr Brown said: “The Lindisfarne monks fled in 875 to escape Viking invaders and took the book with them to Chester-Le-Street, near Durham. A priest called Aldred added the Anglo-Saxon translation in about 950. He also made notes about what was known of Eadfrith. The monks and the book moved to Durham in 995 where they stayed until at least the time of Dissolution of the Monasteries. It came into the hands of Sir Robert Cotton in the Seventeenth Century and was part of the collection his heirs bequeathed to the nation.”

Painted Labyrinth – the World of the Lindisfarne Gospels is at the Pearson Gallery, British Library, London

#History2Research


www.bl.uk/collections/treasures/lindis.html
The British Library, 96 Euston Road
London, NW1 2DB

 

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Snapshot of History: “Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale (1864–92”

#AceHistoryNews says “Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale (1864–92)” was a member of the British Royal Family. He was the eldest son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and Alexandra, Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra), and the grandson of the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. From the time of his birth, he was second in the line of succession to the throne, but he did not become king because he died before his father and his grandmother.

Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence (1864-1892)

He travelled the world extensively as a naval cadet and joined the army, but did not undertake any active military duties. After two unsuccessful courtship’s, he was engaged to be married to Mary of Teck in late 1891.

Just a few weeks later, he died in an influenza pandemic. Mary later married his younger brother, George, who became King George V in 1910. Albert Victor’s intellect, sexuality and sanity have been the subject of much speculation. Rumours in 1889 linked him with the Cleveland Street
scandal, which involved a homosexual brothel, but there is no conclusive evidence verifying or disproving them. Some authors have argued that he
was the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper but the claim is widely dismissed.

 

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Snapshot of History: The Kingdom of D`al Riata Circa 574 – 609

#AceHistoryNews says Áedán mac Gabráin was a king of Dál Riata from circa 574 until circa 609. The kingdom of Dál Riata was situated in modern Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and parts of County Antrim, Ireland. Genealogies record that Áedán was a son of Gabrán mac Domangairt. He was a contemporary of Saint Columba, and much that is recorded of his life comes from hagiography such as Adomnán of Iona’s Life of Saint Columba.

A manuscript of Bede's, Historia Ecclesiastica...

A manuscript of Bede’s, Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other sources include Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum and Irish annals; none of the sources are contemporary. Áedán appears as a
character in Old Irish and Middle Irish language works of prose and verse, some now lost. Áedán also appears in some Welsh sources, making
him one of the few non-Britons to figure in Welsh tradition. The Irish annals record his campaigns against his neighbours, in Ireland, and in
northern Britain, including expeditions to the Orkney Islands, the Isle of Man, and the east coast of Scotland. As recorded by Bede, Áedán was
decisively defeated by Æthelfrith of Bernicia at the Battle of Degsastan. Áedán may have been deposed, or have abdicated, following
this defeat, and the annals report nothing of him until his death around six years later.

More Stories at: #History2Research 

 

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Snapshot of History:”Lamplighter an Employee of a Town Who Lit Street Lights”

Lamplighter#AceHistoryNews says  lamplighter, historically, was an employee of a town who lit street lights. Lights were lit each evening, generally with a wick on a long-pole. At dawn, they would return to put them out using a small hook on the same pole. Early street lights were generally candles, oil, and similar consumable liquid or solid lighting sources with wicks.

Another lamplighter duty was to carry a ladder and renew the candles, oil, or gas mantles.

In some communities, lamplighters served in a role akin to a town watchman; in others, it may have been seen as little more than a sinecure.

Watchmen were groups of men, usually authorised by a state, government, or society, to deter criminal activity and provide law enforcement. Watchmen have existed in various guises throughout the world and were generally succeeded by the emergence of formerly organised policing.

In the 19th century, gas lights became the dominant form of street lighting. Early gaslights required lamplighters, but eventually systems were developed which allowed the lights to operate automatically.

Gas Street Lighting - information sheet - c1950

Gas Street Lighting – information sheet – c1950 (Photo credit: mikeyashworth)

Gas lighting is production of artificial light from combustion of a gaseous fuel, including hydrogenmethanecarbon monoxidepropanebutaneacetyleneethylene, or natural gas. Before electricity became sufficiently widespread and economical to allow for general public use, gas was the most popular means of lighting in cities and suburbs. Early gas lights had to be lit manually, but later gas lights were self-igniting.

Early lighting fuels consisted of olive oilbeeswaxfish oilwhale oilsesame oil, nut oil, and similar substances. These were the most commonly used fuels until the late 18th century. Chinese records dating back 1700 years note the use of natural gas in the home for light and heat via bamboo pipes to the dwellings.

Public illumination preceded the discovery and adoption of gaslight by centuries. In 1417, Sir Henry BartonMayor of London, ordained “lanterns with lights to be hanged out on the winter evenings between Hallowtide and Candlemasse.” Paris was first  lit by an order issued in 1524, and, in the beginning of the 16th century, the inhabitants were ordered to keep lights burning in the windows of all houses that faced the streets. In 1668, when some regulations were made for improving the streets of London, the residents were reminded to hang out their lanterns at the usual time, and, in 1690, an order was issued to hang out a light, or lamp, every night as soon as it was dark, from Michaelmas to Christmas. By an Act of the Common Council in 1716, all housekeepers, whose houses faced any street, lane, or passage, were required to hang out, every dark night, one or more lights, to burn from six to eleven o’clock, under the penalty of one shilling as a fine for failing to do so.

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Snapshot of History: Oswald Watt – Australian Aviator and British Businessman

Captain Oswald Watt, an English-born Australia...

Captain Oswald Watt, an English-born Australian aviator who was a member of the French Foreign Legion before joining the Australian Flying Corps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceHistoryNews says Oswald Watt (1878–1921) was an Australian aviator and businessman. He was born in England and came to Sydney when he was a year old, returning to England for his education. In 1900 he went back to Australia and enlisted in the Militia, before acquiring cattle stations in New South Wales and Queensland. He was also a partner in the family shipping firm. Becoming in 1911 the first Australian to qualify for a Royal Aero Club flying certificate, Watt joined the French Foreign Legion as a pilot on the outbreak of World War I. He transferred to the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) in 1916, quickly progressing to become commanding officer of No. 2 Squadron on the Western Front. By February 1918, he had been promoted to lieutenant colonel and taken command of the AFC’s 1st Training Wing in England. A recipient of France’s Legion of Honour and Croix de Guerre, Watt was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1919. He left the military to pursue business interests in Australia. In 1921, he drowned at Bilgola Beach, New South Wales. He is commemorated by the Oswald Watt Gold Medal for outstanding achievement in Australian aviation, and the Oswald Watt Fund at the University of Sydney.

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