Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lists, Lists, Lists


This week was my first official week digging through the list of Court Records for Prince George and Princess Caroline. I've been using the online Magnæ Britanniæ notitia, a list of officers and statistics complied by the English writer John Chamberlayne, to get a closer look at the specifics of who worked in the royal household and what they did. Because Chamberlayne's Magnæ Britanniæ is organized by year, the snapshots beneath only cover those in service during the year 1723.

So, I've been comparing lists such as these...
Just one of several pages for Prince George.
Princess Caroline's for 1723 wasn't quite as extensive.

This list Dr. Bucholz found covers the year 1716; the earliest record I'll have for the Court.

To lists like these compiled by my predecessor:
Ignore the highlighting, those are just notes to myself.

 "Occ." means occupied and "vac." means vacated.

It's been a lot of back and forth and squinting at the names on the screen while trying to make sure I don't forget anyone or add unnecessary information (shout out to Antonín Dvořák and my classical music station on Pandora for keeping me calm when the database logs me out for the fourth time in an hour). By comparing the two lists I can get a better idea of when people started working in the Royal Court, when they left, and what jobs they had in their time there. Some people seemed to have worked their way into different positions. Augustus Schutz (Esq.), for example, was recorded in 1716 as a Groom of the Bed Chamber for Prince George, but in Chamberlayne's records for the year 1723, he was mentioned as Master of the Robes. Evidently, there were opportunities to shift positions within the Royal Household.

One thing I've learning this week is that William, John, Henry, and Charles are all incredibly popular 18th century male British names. I counted over 30 Williams, at least 35 Johns, and about 20 for Henry and Charles. Praise be to whomever managed to keep all those straight (although, it probably made learning names easier). My favorite name was for a Waterman in the Court of Prince George, William Williams. It does not get much more English than that. I've also picked up on what could be familial relations amongst the names on my lists. Stephen Towers and Samuel Towers both first appear on the record in 1716 and although they held different positions, one was a groom to the cellar and the other a servant to the clerk of the kitchen, there is a possibility that they were related. Nevertheless, this is just mere speculation and would require more research to back up that claim.

Another tidbit I couldn't help but notice was the fact that names are sometimes spelled differently from source to source. This isn't entirely surprising consider people still manage to misspell or mishear names in this age (I recently received a magazine addressed to Sarha Deas) so a missing "e" in Bos or an added "i" in Gardner could likely be due to some sort of transcription error. Perhaps the recorder was accustomed to spelling it "Franklyn" instead of "Franklin"(fun fact: that's my dog's name. No, he wasn't named after one of Prince George's Grooms). Either way, I'm not sure we'll ever know which spelling was the proper one.

Next week I will begin blogging about specific people who served in the Royal Court as well as combing through records for the year 1726. The name Sir Andrew Fountaine has already nabbed my attention; partly because I could actually track him down in the DNB database but also due to his background as an art collector (unfortunately, I could not find any information about William Williams, but if I did he would be at the top of my list).

Stay tuned!

(Pssst. There's an option to follow this blog to the right of this post. Just throwing that out there.)

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