I have written previously about ‘The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo’ but in fact, there was more than one man to claim this feat and one of the earliest was the Yorkshireman Joseph Jagger and he achieved this quite legally.
Jagger was born near Halifax in 1830 and worked as an engineer at a mill in the village of Shelf and it was his knowledge of engineering that was to make his fortune. Read more ›››
Sophia Jex-Blake was a feminist and physician who with six others became known as the Edinburgh Seven who campaigned for the right of women to study medicine.
Jex-Blake was born in Hastings on England’s south coast in 1840 the daughter of a retired lawyer. She was home-educated until the age of eight and then attended various private schools. Read more ›››
Nicknamed the Black Eagle, the flamboyant Hubert Fauntleroy Julian was one of the early pioneers of aviation and parachuting and promoter of black civil rights.
Julian was born in 1897 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the son of an affluent cocoa plantation manager. He emigrated to Canada in 1914 where he claimed to have learned to pilot an aeroplane and served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Read more ›››
I usually know at least the basic details of the lives of my ABC Wednesday subjects – when and where they were born, their family life etc – but in the case of James Julian I know nothing at all except that he was the inventor of a most bizarre means of execution, the Julian Gallows.
In the late 19th century, America was obsessed with finding a ‘humane’ means of execution and so it was that in 1892 Julian invented his gallows. Read more ›››
Perhaps the earliest black star of popular entertainment was Ken ‘Snakehips’ Johnson whose career was ended prematurely in tragic circumstances.
He was born Kenrick Reginald Huymans Johnson in 1914 in Britsh Guiana, his father a prominent doctor in the community. He was educated locally until he was fifteen when he was sent to the Sir William Borlase Grammar School in England. Read more ›››
The idea that the earth is flat has persisted over time, even though the concept of a spherical world has been around since the time of Pythagoras, Aristotle, Euclid and Ptolemy.
It is living proof that for some people, it is easier to believe the unbelievable against all evidence to the contrary, as the 1893 map of a ‘square and stationary earth’ handsomely illustrates. Read more ›››
A couple of rounds of ABC Wednesday ago, I wrote about John Elwes, notable eccentric and miser from Oxfordshire, but parsimony seems to have been a local trait because he was followed by Morgan Jones, the miser of Blewbury.
Jones was the vicar of Blewbury for 43 years from 1781 to 1824 and in that time he developed a reputation for inventive miserliness to rival Elwes… Read more ›››
In the latter years of the 19th century, the whaling ship ‘Star of the East’ was operating around the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic when a whale was spotted.
The boats were launched and the whale harpooned, but its thrashing in the water capsized one of the boats and two men were lost, one of them a man called James Bartley… Read more ›››