Sunday, 22 February 2015

Glencoe Massacre

This year is the 300th anniversary of the 1715 Jacobite Rising. Jacobites were supporters of of the deposed James VII of Scotland and his son, James, the 'Old Pretender'. James VII of Scotland was also James II of England and ruled from 6 February 1685 to 1688 when he was deposed for being pro-Catholic and possibly pro-French. By this time England and Scotland were largely protestant countries. When James fled to France at the end of 1688, his daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange, were invited to rule England, Scotland and Ireland. The group of people who wanted James and his son to be restored to the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland were known as Jacobites. The greatest support for the return of the Stuart kings was in Scotland.

In 1690 Scotland officially became a Presbyterian country though other protestant religions were allowed to be followed. Scotland accepted that their rulers were Mary and William. An order was issued that by 1 January 1692 all the chiefs of Scottish clans were to sign an oath of allegiance to William and Mary. Many of the chiefs had already signed an oath to James VII and were not released from this obligation until 28 December, three days before the deadline.
On 31 December the head of the Glencoe branch of the MacDonald clan left for Fort William to sign the oath only to be advised that he had to travel 60 miles to Inveraray to sign the oath before a sheriff. The late signing of the oath was not accepted by the authorities, who were looking for an excuse to punish the highlanders, and an order was given that the MacDonalds of Glencoe were to be killed. Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon carried out the order after he and his men had accepted the hospitality of the MacIain, the chieftain of this branch of the Macdonalds, for several days until on 13 February they carried out the order to kill the MacDonalds - men, women and children. Some escaped the slaughter but 37, including women and children, were killed that day.

This action only increased the divide between the highlanders and the lowlanders in Scotland as well as between the highlanders and their king. The Massacre of Glencoe was part of the lead up to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715.

On the Massacre of Glencoe - time lapse photography - poem by Sir Walter Scott

BBC Scotland - Massacre of Glen Coe

Scotsman - Massacre of Glencoe

Order for the Massacre of Glencoe

The Game of Crowns - the 1715 Jacobite Uprising

History of Glencoe

Wars of the Roses

This week I began a six week online course - England in the time of Richard III - prepared by the University of Leicester and put on line by FutureLearn. During the first week we looked at the Wars of the Roses, a series of battles that took place between 1455 and 1487. The first battles occurred between 1455 and 1464, the second series between 1469 and 1471 while the two final battles occurred in 1485 and 1487.

There are many websites that help to portray the story of this civil war in England between the Lancastrian and Yorkist kings of England and their supporters.

A good starting point is The Wars of the Roses - a website that includes maps and timelines showing the battles and the relevant events in the history of this period. Clicking the links provides summary information about each battle.

Four of the major battles were:
Blore Heath in 1459
Towton in 1461
Tewkesbury in 1471
Bosworth 1485

The battle at Towton resulted in the most deaths in any of the battles. A three minute video, providing a brief summary of the battle, located on the front page of the Towton Battlefield website is recommended viewing.
BBC - Bradford Uni unravels Roses battle puzzle

Re-enactment societies commemorate some of these battles including the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre. Living history groups:
The Wars of the Roses Federation
Towton Battlefield Society
Les Routiers de Rouen
Buckingham's Retinue

Other websites include:
Richard III Society
British Archaeology - The big dig: Discovering Bosworth
Time Team Special (2011) - Wars of the Roses: Relocating the field of the Battle of Bosworth (video)

The Guardian (20 February 2010) - Silver badge and lead shot pinpoint the Battle of Bosworth
York Boar badge as worn by the supporters of Richard III- (video)

The Official Website of the British Monarchy - provides short biographies of British royalty

The letters of the Paston Family of Norwich are a rich resource when studying 15th century history. The letters are available online via the Project Gutenberg website. The book, Blood and Roses, by Helen Castor uses the letters to describe life in 15th century England. See also BBC History: Paston family letters.

Other resources:
National Archives
British History Online - catalogue
National Heritage List for England lists many surviving medieval buildings

The other topics in this online course include Peasants and farmers. Books, literacy and printing, Death and commemoration, Food and The road from Bosworth, including Richard III's reinterment.

This is only one of many online courses on a wide variety of topics, not just history, available on the FutureLearn website - worth having a look at if you have some free time.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Remount Units - World War I

Recently I was checking the record on Discovering Anzacs for David Mullett, an Aborigine from Healesville who enlisted in the First Remount Unit No. 2 Squad on 6 November 1915.

The First World War Embarkation Rolls show that Private David Mullet (service number 500) left Melbourne aboard the HMAT Orsova A67 on 12 November 1915. The digitised record shows that David was 44, was a labourer before enlisting and that his wife was Emily Maude Mullett. The address was c/- of the Healesville Post Office. His religion was listed as C of E.
Remounts in Egypt 1915
The First Remount Service had been formed in Melbourne on 21 September 1915. Members were also from Western Australia. South Australia and Tasmania. Members of the Remount Service were usually older men like David, some having served in the Boer War. Maximum age for the unit was 50. The unit was based in Egypt but in 1917 remounts were taken to Palestine for the Palestine campaign. Members of the Remount Service looked after, and trained, the horses acquired to be used by the army before they were sent overseas and also while the horses were overseas.

The Yea Chronicle published an article about the Victorian Remount Unit on 21 October 1915. The unit was stationed at Maribyrnong and the article describes the make-up of the unit and the initial training before the unit travelled to Egypt where further training would be undertaken.

The Australian War Memorial website has a video of the Army Remount Depot at Maribyrnong which shows the men handling the horses. There is also a collection of 108 photographs relating to Remount Units in Australia and overseas, including some during World War I.

The area were the Remount Depot was stationed was known as Remount Hill. A statement of significance of the area has been prepared by the National Trust. The Australian Heritage Database also contains a statement of significance for the area. The Australian Heritage Places Inventory prepared a report of the area.

The Australian Light Horse Association has a forum which includes posts about the Remount Unit. Another useful resource is the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre which contains several articles about the Remount Section. These include an article about the Training of a Remount, an article by Andrew Banjo Patterson who was a Lieutenant in the Second Remount Service plus an article about the whalers (horses).

There has always been concern about what happened to the horses at the end of the First World War.  The Australian War Memorial has published an article in Wartime No. 44 - They shot horses - didn't they? - which describes what really did happen to most of the horses. Only one of the horses, Sandy, actually made it back to Australia. He returned to live the remainder of his life at Remount Hill at Maribyrnong.

David Mullet remained overseas until he left Port Said for Australia aboard the City of Poona on 9 April 1919. The ship arrived in Melbourne on 14 May 1919 and David was discharged from the AIF on 7 July 1919, classed as medically unfit. By this time he would have been 48.

A letter dated 20 March 1938 shows that David Mullett and his family had moved to Bega in New South Wales. He died later that year aged 64.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Researching Aboriginal Australians in World War I

A number of websites provide information specifically for researching Aboriginal Australians during the First World War.

Australia wide sites
AIATSIS Military links

Indigenous Australians at war Interesting links (AIATSIS)

Aboriginal Anzacs (Australian War Memorial) - post in AWM blog
     The website by Garth O'Connell referred to in this blogpost is now hosted by AIATSIS
     Indigenous Australians at War -

Aboriginals in World War I (Anzac day websites)

Resources for researching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Participation in War (State Library of Queensland)
Nominal Roll
Kurbingui Star - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Soldiers of the First World War

Aboriginal Victorians’ Involvement in World War I (Anzac Centenary)

Aboriginal World War I servicemen – a deliberate silence (NAA)

Indigenous Anzacs (Behind the News – school resource)