Category 18th century

Grinling Gibbon – a wood graver par none.

It was Sunday 3rd August 1721 that saw the death of Grinling Gibbons – arguably the most famous woodcarver of all time; and certainly in Britain. Born in Rotterdam in 1648, he ‘arrived’ in England in 1670/1. The diarist John Evelyn first discovered Gibbons’ talent by chance in 1671. In his diary for 18th January […]

John Knill and St. James’s Day

‘Till St. James’s Day be come and gone, you may have hops or you may have none.’ John Knill was an articled clerk to a solicitor in Penzance and was a Collector of Customs at St. Ives between 1762 and 1782.  He was also Mayor of the town in 1767. He was a well-respected citizen […]

Enjoying a ‘Furry Dance’

On 8th May every year (or Saturday 7th if the 8th is a Sunday) the Cornish town of Helston is home to ‘The Furry Dance’. A Gentleman’s Magazine report in 1790 tells us that: ‘At Helstone (sic), a genteel and populous borough town in Cornwall, it is customary to dedicate the 8th of May to […]

Robert Burns – and his night!

In 1864 he original Chambers Book of Days wrote:  ‘Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, first saw the light on this day, the 25th January 1759, in a small cottage by the wayside near the Bridge of Doon, two miles from Ayr.  A wonderful destiny was that of the peasant’s babe born that day – a […]

The story of William Bligh

William Bligh was born on this day, Monday 9th September 1754.  As a sea captain he is  invariably considered to be a tyrannical and cruel bully who brought a ships mutiny down on himself. But is that really true? There is a very good case for saying that that persona is not true and it […]

Matthew Boulton enters the world – and leaves it all the better 80 years later.

Matthew Boulton was born on Monday 3rd September 1728 in Birmingham and died just short of his 81st birthday on Thursday 17th August 1809 in that same city.  In between these two events he made a tremendous impact on the life of his time – an impact that remains to this day. After managing his […]

The man who created Britain’s postal system

During 1979 the British Post Office Philatelic Bureau published 8 new stamps. That issued on this day – 22nd August 1979 – told the story of Sir Rowland Hill, a man that they described as ‘Reformer Extraordinary’. Roland Hill was born in 1795.  By 1836, already a famous educational reformer, he had turned his remarkable […]