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Biography of a Radical Newspaper
Robert Poole

The newly digitised Manchester Observer (1818–22) was England’s leading radical newspaper at the time of the Peterloo meeting of August 1819, in which it played a central role. For a time it enjoyed the highest circulation of any provincial newspaper, holding a position comparable to that of the Chartist Northern Star twenty years later and pioneering dual publication in Manchester and London. Its columns provide insights into Manchester’s notoriously secretive local government and policing and into the labour and radical movements of its turbulent times. Rich materials in the Home Office papers in the National Archives reveal much about the relationship between radicals in London and in the provinces, and show how local magistrates conspired with government to hound the radical press in the north as prosecutions in London ran into trouble. This article also sheds new light on the founding of the Manchester Guardian, which endured as the Observer’s successor more by avoiding its disasters than by following its example. Despite the imprisonment of four of its main editors and proprietors the Manchester Observer battled on for five years before sinking in calmer water for lack of news.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Katrina Navickas

The Peterloo Massacre was more than just a Manchester event. The attendees, on whom Manchester industry depended, came from a large spread of the wider textile regions. The large demonstrations that followed in the autumn of 1819, protesting against the actions of the authorities, were pan-regional and national. The reaction to Peterloo established the massacre as firmly part of the radical canon of martyrdom in the story of popular protest for democracy. This article argues for the significance of Peterloo in fostering a sense of regional and northern identities in England. Demonstrators expressed an alternative patriotism to the anti-radical loyalism as defined by the authorities and other opponents of mass collective action.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Nathan Bend

The role of the Home Office in the Peterloo Massacre remains contentious. This article assesses the available evidence from the Home Office and the private correspondence of Home Secretary Viscount Sidmouth to contest E. P. Thompson’s claim that the Home Office ‘assented’ to the arrest of Henry Hunt at St Peter’s Fields. Peterloo is placed within the context of government’s response to political radicalism to show how the Tory ministry had no clear counter-radical strategy in the months leading up to the August event. The article further argues that although the Home Office may not have assented to forceful intervention on the day, the event and its aftermath were needed to justify the Six Acts which would ultimately cripple the reform movement.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
The Armorial of Bianca Maria Sforza, Copied for August of Saxony by Lucas Cranach the Younger (Manchester, John Rylands Library, German MS. 2)
Ben Pope

German MS. 2 is a previously unstudied armorial dating from the mid-sixteenth century. This article shows that it was produced in the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Younger for Elector August of Saxony, and that it was copied from an earlier armorial of c.1500 which was kept in Cranach’s workshop, probably as reference material. Much of the original content and structure of this ‘old armorial’ has been preserved in Rylands German 2. On this basis, the original armorial can be located in a late fifteenth-century Upper German tradition of armorial manuscripts known as the ‘Bodensee’ group. It was also closely linked to the Habsburg dynasty, and appears to have been dedicated to Empress Bianca Maria Sforza. The armorial therefore opens significant new perspectives on the relationships between artists and heraldry and between women and heraldic knowledge, and on ways of visualising the Holy Roman Empire through heraldry.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Grevel Lindop

Alex Sanders (1926–88), one of the founders of modern pagan witchcraft in the UK, worked briefly at the John Rylands Library in 1962 as a book duster before being dismissed for ‘neglect of his duties’. The full circumstances were more complex, and although Sanders is now the subject of an article in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography the episode has never been fully investigated. This article makes use of all relevant sources, including unpublished records at the John Rylands Library, books damaged by Sanders, and interviews with former staff, to establish what happened and what bearing the events had on Sanders’s future career as an occultist and propagator of pagan witchcraft.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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Contextualising a Forgotten Missionary Translator of Southwest China
Duncan Poupard

Elise Scharten (1876–1965) was a pioneering Dutch missionary who translated texts into and out of the language of the Naxi people, a Chinese minority group living in the Himalayan foothills of Yunnan province. She was the first to translate the Naxi creation story into English, and the only translator of a western text into Naxi. Her legacy has, however, been overshadowed by the achievements of more prominent Naxiologists. Today, Scharten is almost completely unknown. Nevertheless, Scharten’s unique contribution to the transmission of cultural knowledge between westerners and the Naxi has been preserved in museum and library archives. From these sources we can build a clear picture of her importance to the study of this unique people.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Augustus Toplady’s ‘Calvinism’ and the Anglican Reformed Tradition
Andrew Kloes

This article analyses the theological development of the eighteenth-century Church of England priest Augustus Montague Toplady through two manuscript collections. The first of these is a copy of John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament that Toplady heavily annotated during his time as a university student in 1758. This book is held in the Methodist Archives and Research Centre at the John Rylands Library. Toplady’s handwritten notes total approximately 6,000 words and provide additional information regarding the development of his views of John Wesley and Methodism, ones which he would not put into print until 1769. Toplady’s notes demonstrate how he was significantly influenced by the works of certain Dutch, German and Swiss Reformed theologians. The second is a collection of Toplady’s papers held by Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Together, these sources enable Toplady’s own theology and his controversies with Methodists to be viewed from a new perspective. Moreover, these sources provide new insights into Toplady’s conceptualisation of ‘Calvinism’ and changes in the broader Anglican Reformed tradition during the eighteenth century.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
The Eloquence of Incompletion
Cedric C. Brown

This article gives new information on the so-called Letter-book of John, Viscount Mordaunt (Rylands MS GB 133) beyond that in RHS Camden Series LXIX, identifies the likely scribe, and dates the transcription to late 1660. It shows how the large format book was created to record the heroic role played by Mordaunt and his wife Elizabeth (née Carey) in the achievement of Restoration, and how the unfinished state of the textual project adds to our knowledge of the social and political difficulties experienced by Mordaunt, a client of Clarendon. Beyond its historiographical value for understanding the activities of the plenipotentiary, the book helps to tell the story of Mordaunt’s headlong career from his treason trial in 1658 to his impeachment in 1667, the extraordinary supportive agency of Elizabeth, including managing secret correspondence in 1659, the complexities of the Mordaunts’ friendship with John Evelyn, and their loyalty to their fallen patron Clarendon extending to exile in Montpellier in 1668.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Ian Wood

In the early years of the twentieth century, Professor Karl Lamprecht was a powerful and controversial figure in German academia, offering a universal interpretation of history that drew on an eclectic mix of politics, economics, anthropology and psychology. This article explores Mark Hovell’s experiences of working with Lamprecht at the Institut für Kultur- und Universalgeschichte [Institute for Cultural and Universal History] in Leipzig between 1912 and 1913, while also situating Hovell’s criticisms of the Lamprechtian method within wider contemporary assessments of Lamprecht’s scholarship.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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The Life and Legacy of Mark Hovell
Christopher Godden
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library