Happenings between 9th and 15th June in years gone by

Sunday 9 June 1549 was the day that the first Book of Common Prayer was issued to all dioceses in the Church of England. It had been initiated by the first Act of Uniformity of King Edward VI in 1549. Primarily prepared by Thomas Cranmer the Archbishop of Canterbury it was viewed as a compromise between old and new ideas and, as a result, it was diplomatically ambiguous in some of its implied teaching. Not surprisingly this aroused opposition from both conservatives and the more extreme Reformers. It was the ‘extremists’ that ‘won the day’ because when the second version was published in 1552 there were major changes in its text and ceremonies, all in a Protestant direction. In 1553 Mary, the new Catholic queen, restored the old Latin liturgical books.

Wednesday 10 June 1829 saw the first Oxford University vs Cambridge University boat race take place. It was rowed over a two and a quarter mile course from Hambledon Lock to Henley Bridge. The Morning Post of 12th June reported: THE GRAND ROWING MATCH BETWEEN OXONIANS AND THE CANTABS: This match, between the Students of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge took place on Wednesday afternoon in Henley Reach. The interest excited was very great, and the contest was remarkably severe. Both parties exerted themselves to the utmost. For some time the issue was very doubtful; but Victory ultimately decided in favour of the Oxonians.

Tuesday 11 June 1907 – Heavy rain disrupted the County Championship cricket match between Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire in Gloucester and in the end it was abandoned as a draw. The following day’s Gloucester Citizen reported that while the rain fell the players ‘Whiled away the time with golf shots, tent cricket and a running match between Jack Board of Gloucester and King of Northants.’ The report says that ‘Board had to give away several years in age and King, furthermore, ‘is an experienced runner on the track’. As a result Board was given a 5 yard start in a 100 yard race. ‘Mr Jessop acted as starter, and both men got away well. Board surprised everyone with his speed, and running well won a good race by 3 yards. Mr C J T Pool, King’s backer, had to hand over a trifle on the result.’ What about the actual cricket? Well Gloucestershire scored 60 & 88 in their two innings. In their first innings Northamptonshire were bowled out for 12 runs – and this still remains as the lowest innings score in county cricket. They did a bit better in their second innings and were 40 for 7 when the match was abandoned.

Sunday 12 June 1921 was the last occasion that postmen in Britain delivered mail on a Sunday. The Saturday Hull Daily Mail spelled out the situation for their readers: ‘The changes notified by the Postmaster General as to the postage rates and the Sunday collections and deliveries come into force at mid-night on Sunday. Subject to the payment of a special fee of one shilling, plus the ordinary postage and express fee, any letter or posted packet other than a parcel, will be accepted up to time of the general night mail posting on Saturday, at selected offices mentioned below, for special dispatch to any of the towns mentioned, but not elsewhere, and will be delivered by express messenger during the hours that office of destination is open for telegraph business. By the payment of a special fee of one shilling plus postage a letter will be accepted on Sunday for the offices mentioned for express despatch to any of the towns indicated for the first house-to-house delivery after its arrival on Monday. The selected offices are, outside London, the head offices at Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-on-Tyne and Sheffield.’ Hull was disappointed and surprised that it was not one of the selected offices.

On Saturday 13 June 1665 a Dutch fleet of 103 ships attacked an English fleet of 109 vessels some forty miles east of the port of Lowestoft. The aim of the Dutch was to prevent a second English blockade of their ports – the first having been broken off when the English blockaders ran low on supplies. The Dutch fleet had been ordered to attack the English aggressively during a period of stable eastern winds which would have given them a much better ability to manoeuvre than the English. However the Dutch commander Jacob Van Wassenaer was very aware that his fleet was significantly under- trained and lacked the firepower to really challenge the English in full battle. As a result he postponed the fight until the wind turned. In reality it appears his real aim was to have a minor confrontation with the English fleet from a defensive position. This would place him in a position where he could disengage quickly and return without openly disobeying orders. His attitude, though, cost him a sixth of his fleet and his own life. The figures for this often overlooked one day battle are amazing. The 109 ship English fleet had 22,055 men aboard and 4,542 guns to use. They lost just one vessel and somewhere between 300 and 500 men. The Dutch fleet carried 21,613 men and 4,869 guns and they lost 17 vessels in the battle. Somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 Dutchmen vessels died and another 2,000 or so were captured.

Thursday 14 June 1928 has an intriguing ‘double act’. It saw the death in London of the English Suffragette, and founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst. Meanwhile, on this same day but far away in the Argentinian town of Rosario, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara – later Cuban Communist revolutionary – was born.

On Friday 15 June 1945 a family allowance of 5 shillings per child, after the first child, became law in Britain. The weekly newspapers of 8th June had reported that ‘Mr Churchill’s indication in the House yesterday afternoon that the Family Allowance Bill will probably be through Parliament next week, provided that the new clauses which are to be tabled are accepted, seems to be a victory for the critics. It presumably means that Servicemen will receive family allowances – five shillings a week for each child after the first – in addition to their full Service grants. Originally this proposal had been resisted at the Committee stage of the Bill, but critics sprang up on every side of the House to defend the Serviceman’s rights. In view of the demonstration, the new clauses to the Bill, which will appear to-day, are expected to show that the Government has given way.’
On Friday 15th June 1945 the act was formally passed – but not everyone was happy about this. The Dundee Courier of Saturday 16th June carried the following letter: ‘Sir: – Bang goes another 70 million pounds, and under the Family Allowance Bill tens of thousands of people will get a gift from the Exchequer of 5s per week for every child after the first – people to whom this sum will not represent even a drop in the bucket. No matter what they earn (or don’t earn) the 5s is theirs. There are also tens of thousands of people who don’t deserve it – and some who do. I have a strong objection to the paying of this sum to those who don’t need it and those that don’t deserve it. Who pays for this? The taxpayer – the spinsters, bachelors, couples with no children, and couples whose children are over age. Is this fair? Those who have the pleasure of the children and who reap the benefit of them should bring them up’…. This erudite letter continues for many, many, more words… but the die had been cast and Family Allowances were here to stay.

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