Protest, poverty and policy in England, c. 1750–c. 1850

In the age of Malthus and the workhouse when the threat of famine and absolute biological want had supposedly been lifted from the peoples of England, hunger remained a potent political force – and problem. Yet hunger has been marginalised as an object of study by scholars of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England: studies are either framed through famine or left to historians of early modern England. The politics of hunger represents the first systematic attempt to think through the ways in which hunger persisted as something both feared and felt, as vital to public policy innovations, and as central to the emergence of new techniques of governing and disciplining populations. Beyond analysing the languages of hunger that informed food riots, other popular protests and popular politics, the study goes on to consider how hunger was made and measured in Speenhamland-style ‘hunger’ payments and workhouse dietaries, and used in the making and disciplining of the poor as racial subjects. Conceptually rich yet empirically grounded, the study draws together work on popular protest, popular politics, the old and new poor laws, Malthus and theories of population, race, biopolitics and the colonial making of famine, as well as reframing debates in social and economic history, historical geography and famine studies more generally. Complex and yet written in an accessible style, The politics of hunger will be relevant to anyone with an interest in the histories of protest, poverty and policy: specialists, students and general readers alike.

Hunger was not just understood directly but something mobilised and mediated through the plight of distant others. In particular, the devastating famine of 1840s Ireland was critical in shaping political languages of hunger in the Empire as a whole as well as amongst the people of Britain. This chapter does not explore the central governmental response to these famines – though this provides a critical context – but instead examines popular responses to the hunger of distant others in the 1840s. In so doing, chapter six examines both the discourses of response (and how these helped to shape understandings of hunger) as well as schemes to relieve famine and the distant hungry. It is argued that against the ideologically driven official governmental response to these different famines, those who were only one act of misfortune away from being incarcerated in the workhouse and only one or two generations away from experiencing absolute hunger were quick to respond, setting up collections and relief schemes. It acknowledges that the popular politics of hunger were not bound by the body or borders but were rooted in the uneven contours of solidarity and reciprocity.

in The politics of hunger
On hunger politics

By the early decades of the eighteenth century the peoples of England, so the received understanding goes, were beyond the ravages of famine. Southern England experienced its last ‘major’ famine in the 1590s, northern England a little later in the 1620s. There is, of course, both a quantitative and a qualitative difference between the experience and effects of mass famine deaths and the fear of hunger. For between being bodily replete with no fear of want in the future and death from want there exists a wide spectrum of hungers. Famine forms one, horrific, end of the spectrum but it is not the spectrum of human experience. This chapter explores these complex understandings and in so doing argues that by fixating on famine – however understandable that is – we necessarily deny the effects that the fear of perishing from want had on the peoples of England beyond the age of famine.

in The politics of hunger

This section presents an overview of what is known about Hall’s life, his background, education, family, his economic and social status, and religious affinities. His work and practice in Stratford-upon-Avon and the surrounding area are described (including, for example, the range in social status among his patients). A specially drawn map illustrates the catchment area of his work. Some brief examples of Hall’s cases and patients (including his conversations with them and his own reactions) will help to open up the casebook and whet the appetite for the reader to find out more. A critical analysis of the possible connections that might be made between Shakespeare’s own dramatisation of doctors (and medical language) and Hall’s practice concludes this part of the introduction. While gathering together and reshaping the basic biographical information about John Hall in relation to presenting the first, full, English translation and edition of his casebook, this section critiques, develops and moves beyond the mainstream literary and medical interest in Hall’s life and work. It has too often been the case that Hall’s medical practice has been considered in the shadow of Shakespeare’s dramatic portrayal of doctors. Wells here presents Hall afresh as a medical professional.

in John Hall, Master of Physicke
A casebook from Shakespeare's Stratford

This is the first complete English translation of the medical casebook of John Hall, Shakespeare’s son-in-law. Greg Wells has produced a groundbreaking new study which significantly refocuses our attention on John Hall’s scholarship, as well as his compassion. Hall’s community of patients, their illnesses and his treatments are all authoritatively represented. But so too is Hall’s own library. In looking again at Hall’s Latin manuscript, Wells has been able to identify Hall’s many borrowings from other medical textbooks, thereby offering a unique insight into the intellectual climate of early seventeenth-century Stratford-upon-Avon. We have been relying on an abridged version of Hall’s casebook for over three centuries. Wells corrects and augments all previous studies, and in so doing retrieves the hitherto unnoticed conversations that Hall had with his patients, his prayers for their well-being, and thanksgivings for their recovery. John Hall emerges as a scholar physician who was immersed in the best thinking and practice of his age, who regularly consulted sixty books within his easy reach in order to treat all levels of society. Presented in association with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, this generously illustrated edition includes portraits of some of Hall’s patients, pictures of some of the houses he travelled to in order to cure them, of the herbs and plants he most frequently used, and of the kinds of medical equipment on which he relied.

This is the edition of John Hall’s medical casebook itself. This is the first complete English translation of the medical casebook of John Hall, Shakespeare’s son-in-law. Greg Wells has produced a groundbreaking new study which significantly refocuses our attention on Hall’s scholarship, as well as his compassion. Hall’s community of patients, their illnesses and his treatments are all authoritatively represented. But so too is Hall’s own library. In looking again at Hall’s Latin manuscript, Wells has been able to identify Hall’s many borrowings from other medical textbooks, thereby offering a unique insight into the intellectual climate of early seventeenth-century Stratford-upon-Avon.

in John Hall, Master of Physicke

John Hall’s manuscript is the one record we have of his authentic voice. This section describes the manuscript and summarises its history. But what do we mean by ‘a casebook’? The term as used by historians covers works of mixed and fluid genres. Hall’s work differs from the majority of casebooks because it represents his draft towards a book he never finished. It shows that a casebook can have an internal structure related to the chronologies of its composition as well as to the cases from which it draws. Hall is not unique in his substantial borrowing from Latin texts, though he does represent an extreme and very rare example. His manuscript is especially valuable because it represents a work in progress, an early modern physician’s mind in the process of thinking about his patients, his conversations with them and his treatments. This first complete English translation presents a highly readable work, full of human interest, insight and compassion. This section of the introduction also outlines the themes of Hall’s casebook and shows how Hall interacted with his patients. This section represents original scholarship in its new understanding of Hall’s manuscript, his Latin, and what it represents in an historical context.

in John Hall, Master of Physicke

Wells’s edition marks the first time that Hall’s extensive borrowings from Latin medical textbooks for the production of his own casebook have been thoroughly and compellingly identified. This section describes the methodology adopted to recreate Hall’s library, and the books and authors themselves are clearly listed. This identification of Hall’s working library sheds completely new light on Hall and is significant in several contexts. It allows us to understand when, why and how Hall acquired his books. His use of them in relation to his patients and how he wrote up his medical cases shows us how Hall used his library: to identify therapies for his patients during his working life, and then to turn his initial case notes into a draft for his own Latin textbook. This section situates Hall’s working library in the context of other early modern medical libraries and describes Hall’s use of books over time. Tables provide a list of books in Hall’s library and show his most frequently used sources. Wells is the first to present Hall’s casebook in terms of the library on which it relies, so this whole section represents a highly original contribution to the field.

in John Hall, Master of Physicke

This section makes clear the compelling case for a full, English translation of Hall. Historians have too easily taken for granted that Cooke’s seventeenth-century translation was both accurate and complete. It is not. Cooke’s translation contains both errors and omissions. For example Cooke misattributes the cure of the Earl of Northampton (case 137) to the Oxford physician Dr Clayton, rather than to Hall himself. Cooke also turns Hall’s conversations with his patients into brisk, radically abridged summaries, and loses much of Hall’s personal views on his relationships with his patients. Until now, anyone wanting to study John Hall has had to rely on Cooke’s 1679 edition (on which Joan Lane’s 1996 edition is also based). Wells’s book does not contain Hall’s Latin text, but annotations to the English text make Hall’s Latin borrowings from his sources clear. Wells’s editorial principles with regard to Hall’s abbreviations, punctuation and handling of pharmaceutical Latin are succinctly described, as are the principles that directed Wells’s own English translation.

in John Hall, Master of Physicke
The biblical identity politics of the Demerara Slave Rebellion

The British missionary enterprise disseminated the Bible across the empire with often unintended consequences. The reception of the Protestant Scriptures among colonial subjects was anything but passive. Readers and hearers appropriated scriptural texts in their own distinctive, even subversive ways. Surviving sources, however, are often less revealing about this process than we might like, and it can be hard to get beyond the voice of the missionary to that of the native convert. This chapter explores a unique set of sources: the trial records of the London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary John Smith, who was prosecuted (and died in prison) for allegedly ‘exciting the negroes to rebellion’ in the sugar colony of Demerara in 1823. Smith and his black congregants were cross-questioned at length about the use and abuse of the Bible. The records offer a unique window on the use of the Bible in missionary chapels, its reception among enslaved hearers, and the sensitivities of colonial authorities. It was also emblematic of a larger shift – the growing identification of black Protestants with Old Testament Israel, and the problematising of Britain’s identity as a new Israel.

in Chosen peoples