Monday, 29 January 2018

Saints relics found in Surrey church

If you think that all relics of English saints were destroyed during the English Reformation during Henry VIII’s reign or the English Civil War and subsequent Commonwealth of the mid 17th century, think again.

It is well-known that the relics of St Edward the Confessor remained in place in his Westminster Abbey shrine. Somehow, the relics of the ninth century St Wite can still be found at Whitchurch Canonicorum, near Bridport in west Dorset.

At the weekend, I also found that since the 1920s, there has been a collection of four major English relics and numerous locket reliquaries in Roman Catholic church dedicated to St Edward the Confessor at Sutton Green, near Guildford in Surrey. And it’s a story which has mystery attached.

The tale is told in the church's booklet: "the four major relics were found behind panelling at Sutton Place in a room thought to have been used by priests. There were in a small iron-bound trunk covered with embossed leather. The very faded parchment labels identified them as the bones of St William of York, St Cuthbert Mayne, Blessed Robert Sutton and Fr Henry Garnet." (p.9) No date is given for their discovery.

Reliquary with St William of York's shoulder blade
Sutton Place is a large private estate, once owned by J. Paul Getty, and portrayed in the recent film, All the Money in the World. It was the site of a royal hunting lodge as far back as the late Anglo-Saxon period when it is believed to have been used by King Edward, who became known later as ‘the Confessor’.

Only St William of York's relic (a shoulder blade) may have been at Sutton Place by the early Tudor era. He died in 1154. His cult had little support outside the archdiocese of York and it is of interest how this relic made its way south to Surrey.

Born in Boston, Lincolnshire, Sir Richard Weston was a senior courtier to Henry VIII and was granted the Sutton Place estate by the king who made a state visit there in 1533. Despite his son Sir Francis being beheaded for a relationship with Anne Boleyn, he retained his place as a close adviser to the king including the appointment to meet Henry’s fourth wife Anne of Cleves on her arrival from Germany in 1539. He died in 1542 and was succeeded by his six-year-old grandson Henry.

The other major relics came later:
-       St Cuthbert Mayne was a Catholic priest martyred at Exeter in Cornwall in 1577. He was canonised in 1970;
-       Blessed Robert Sutton was another priest martyred at Stafford in 1588. He was beatified in 1987;
-       Fr Henry Garnet was a Jesuit executed in London in 1606 for his complicity in the Gunpowder Plot
St Edward the Confessor bust with relic (R) and other relics and lockets
It is speculation but Dorothy Arundell (a Catholic family) married Sir Henry Weston in 1559 and may have been given the relic of Cuthbert Mayne's skull, which had been rescued by the Arundell family, before her death in 1592. The assumption must be that the other relics were added by other members of the Weston family and hidden by them or priests in the early 17th century during the Catholic ‘penal’ period.

There is also "small relic" of St Edward the Confessor that was given to Hamilton Walter and Aida Harriet Yeats [no, I don't know who they were] by Pope Leo XIII when they married in 1893. A relative later gave it to the church. Its provenance must be questionable. The bust reliquary was made by Duncan Brown in 1998.

As well as the relic lockets, a Book of Hours and other items, there is a cambric (fabric) wrist frill that may (or may not) have been worn by St Thomas More, chancellor to Henry VIII but beheaded at the Tower of London in 1535 for treason (and defying King Henry).

I wonder how many other relics of medieval saints survived destruction like those of St William of York and SS Edward the Confessor and Wite (also known as St Candida). I haven’t been able to find a register or catalogue. Any advice welcomed.


Brian Taylor, A Closer Look at St Edward’s Sutton Park (Margate: Nordic Press, 2014).

Friday, 5 May 2017

Link to radio interview on PR

Here’s the link to my contribution on (Australian) ABC Radio’s ‘Overnights with Rod Quinn’ broadcast on 6th May:

It was a discussion of public relations, followed by listener questions. There were some rather odd questions, but what do you expect at 4.30am in the morning. The podcast lasts around 45 minutes.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Latest PR history research focuses on post-WWII dictatorships

Our latest public relations history research article is now available free on Public Relations Review for 50 days.

Co-written with Natalia Rodríguez-Salcedo of Universidad di Navarra, Pamplona, it focuses on the evolution of public relations in European dictatorships from 1945 to 1990. If you thought that PR only developed in pluralist, democratic nations, you can think again!

Here's the link, and please pass it on:

There's no registration, just click on the link and open the file.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Fake news in the 15th century

Donald Trump’s problems with ‘fake news’ aren’t new. In February 1472, Edward IV of England issued a statement that “many vagabonds, and ungodly and ill-disposed persons … run through the same our land sowing seeds of discord and division in making and telling of tidings, false lying and tales.”

The solution was that “you will in all haste certify us theoreof” (i.e., turn them in). Edward had regained the throne from Henry VI in the previous year, a period of “great tempests, divisions and troubles” in the first round of the Wars of the Roses. [Source: The Coventry Leet Book, p.373]

Monday, 27 February 2017

Orphan migrants in 1960s Australia

I was born and raised in Australia, going to school from 1956 to 1969 which was a prime period of immigration from western Europe. It’s only recently that it has dawned on me that some youngsters at school with me were of the supposed orphan generation, now being investigated:
I spent most of my infant and primary education at Boronia Park public school in suburban Sydney. It was probably typical of most schools in Australia as among us were children whose families had emigrated from the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia and Hungary. Some of these children were alone.
Close to the school was the well-respected Sir Moses Montefiore home (known unfortunately to locals as the “Jews’ home”) which in the early 1960s had lone youngsters who had come to Sydney as Displaced Persons from Europe. They came to classes for a term or two and then moved on without a farewell. We weren’t told what happened to them – had they rejoined their family or found foster parents? Had they been adopted? Where had they gone? I assume that all was well for them, and no rumours have arisen.
The one boy whose circumstances worried me later was a Scottish lad. We were told that he had come to Sydney to live with his aunt and uncle, which may have been a convenient euphemism for adoptive parents. He was so angry and upset all the time – a schoolyard fight waiting to happen. John told us regularly that he hated Australia, hated living here and loathed his “family”. To this day, I wonder whether he was cruelly uprooted from his home, which may have been Glasgow, and literally shipped half around the world. At least he wasn’t enclosed in one of the residential schools now being investigated.
Australia opened its arms to the world and gave a new life to many. However, to be a migrant child with a non-British name and very limited English was a tough introduction. Nicknames abounded, amusing to those who set them but hard on the recipient. Being white, of British stock and possessing a “normal” name was to be superior. One Norwegian lad named Rune really copped it at primary school as no-one had ever heard his first name before. He’d be greeted with chants of “Roo-nee, Roo-nee” until we found he was quite OK after all. However, if a migrant student was good at sport then acceptance was immediate - he or she was wanted on your team.
This was a time when corporal punishment of boys seemed to be the norm, especially in secondary school when disciplinary issues where addressed with six whacks of the cane across the palm of your outstretched hand. There was also more handling of students than is allowed now. Almost all my teachers were kindly and helpful; they wanted us to succeed but in the two high schools I attended there were always a couple of male teachers who revelled in use of the cane.
During my mid-teens, when I was mixing through sailing or rugby with boys from schools run by Marist or Christian Brothers, it seemed that the state school disciplinary regime was relatively gentle. According to them, caning, detention and harsh sport exercise were their norm.

By the late 1960s, harsh discipline was fading away and the sheer number of fellow students who were from migrant backgrounds had changed the playground situation. But I wonder what happened to some of those children and had they been safe, after all.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Free expression punished in Turkey

We take freedom of expression on political matters to be a right. There must be a tempering of this to avoid extremes but it’s generally accepted in liberal democracies. The signing of a petition to criticise government(s) is part of that free expression.

However, in Turkey, an academic colleague and friend was dismissed by her university on Tuesday for being one of several hundred people who supported a petition criticising the Erdogan government’s treatment of the Kurds. This was signed well before the ‘coup’ of July 15 last year.

Her working life in Turkey has ended, as she told me: “I am blocked from all universities and public institutions in Turkey, plus no private companies hire expelled professors because no one wants to deal with Erdogan. We are now persona non grata in our own country. Unfortunately I don't have a future in Turkey anymore.”

She was not alone in being dismissed from their university. As I have other good friends in Turkey, I don’t want this to be perceived as an attack on all Turks but it’s deeply concerning that something as basic as a dissenting voice is punished so harshly. My colleague is well known to many academic friends but I haven’t named her for fear of worsening her situation.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Time to recognise Australia's indigenous explorers

In Australian history, which now portrays the First Australians as victims, there is a group of indigenous people who are as fundamentally important to national heritage as the well-recognised white explorers. Yet, they play only a limited part in the white narrative of the country and none in the indigenous history since 1788. They are largely unrecognised in written and spoken history.
These are the aboriginal guides who were alongside some of the great names of exploration – Thomas Mitchell, Charles Sturt, Ludwig Leichhardt, Edward Eyre, Edmund Kennedy, John and Alexander Forrest - and who were brave and intrepid explorers in their own right. For these guides, the journey from their tribal region into unknown territory was as problematic and personally threatening as it was for the white explorers. They brought their language, bush-craft skills and social knowledge, but the further they travelled from their home area, the greater their linguistic skills diminished and the higher were their chances of being perceived as an equal threat as the white explorer they guided. The guides were equally a target for spears as the pale strangers.
Is it blindness or political correctness that few historians, other than Henry Reynolds, have recognised the guides for their essential role as “ambassadors” to other indigenous people and as fellow explorers? Or is there embarrassment that talented indigenous people were an essential part of the development of nineteenth century Australia into a major primary exporting nation? 225 years after Captain Phillip established the colony at Sydney Cove it is time the story of the aboriginal explorers was told. Their names should become as well known as the British and European explorers who have dominated the national narrative since the mid-late Victorian era.
Two and a half kilometres east of Molong on the Mitchell Highway in central NSW is a left turn to Yuranigh Road. Drive down it for 750 metres and you’ll notice a parking point on the left and a sign to Yuranigh’s grave. Open the gate and drive along to the parking area and you will soon see an extraordinary symbol of recognition and respect for a little-known indigenous explorer and guide, which was set up over 150 years ago. The grave, surrounded by a low wooden fence in an open field, comprises a gravestone with extensive and effusive text at head of a stone grave. Yuranigh was the lead guide to the explorer Thomas Mitchell’s fourth and longest expedition in 1845/6. The grave is testament to a rare, highly respectful relationship between a white man and an indigenous Australian in the mid-nineteenth century. Yet it is little known.
The gravestone, organised by Mitchell soon after Yuranigh death, reads:

IN 1852

In the same field is the last remnant of sacred tree that the Wiradjuri people had placed to recognise Yuranigh who had been highly respected and possibly a leader of his tribe in the Orange and Molong area.
Yuranigh joined Mitchell’s expedition at Boree, 27km west of Orange in the Central West in December 1845. He worked as a guide and negotiator and gained the notoriously fractious explorer’s friendship and deep respect. He safely guided the 12-month-long expedition, which travelled north into what is now central Queensland, through the territories of other tribes under very hot drought conditions. Yuranigh was the expedition’s diplomat and liaised with local aboriginals, secured guides, and tracked wandering stock and lost members of the party.
Mitchell made numerous references to Yuranigh in his records. The first came three weeks after the start of the journey when he tracked and brought back to camp three cattle that had strayed. The Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) notes that “he was frequently and gratefully referred to for finding water, scanning the country from lofty trees, pacifying the Aborigines who shadowed the expedition, and generally imparting bush lore.”
At the end of the expedition in late 1846, Mitchell wrote of his “guide, companion, counsellor and friend” that “his intelligence and his judgment rendered him so necessary to me that he was ever at my elbow … Confidence in him was never misplaced. He well knew the character of all the white men in the party. Nothing escaped his penetrating eye and quick ear. Yuranigh was particularly clean in his person, frequently washing, and his glossy shining black hair, always well-combed, gave him an uncommonly clean and decent appearance.”
Yuranigh was a small slender man who had adopted some European ways and wore European style clothing by the time he was recruited by Mitchell. He and another Boree-enlisted guide, Dicky, returned with Mitchell to Sydney as the expedition completed its travels. They were rewarded with small gratuities but Yuranigh tired of Sydney and went to work as a stockman in northern NSW. He found his way back to the Molong area and died in autumn 1850, probably in April.
After his death, Yuranigh’s people marked his grave with traditional carved trees. Sir Thomas Mitchell obtained government consent to fence the site and paid for a European-style headstone with its effusive recognition of the local guide’s “Native Courage” and “Honesty and Fidelity”. In 1900 the government renovated the headstone which was re-erected on a base of Molong marble.
It is notable that Yuranigh gained Mitchell’s confidence and deep respect in such a public manner, although the Surveyor-General mostly had good relationships with aboriginal guides in his three previous expeditions, but the one with Yuranigh appears to have been of high mutual respect.  In the first expedition Jerram quickly deserted, and was replaced by Mr Brown. In the 1836 expedition, “The Bathurst Aborigine” guide known as John Piper was rewarded with clothing including Mitchell’s red coat and a cocked hat and feather that originated with Governor Darling. As well as old guns and blankets, John Piper was given a breastplate with the “Conqueror of the Interior” inscription which he had chosen. Reynolds comments that while his reward was little, “the preferred inscription gave clear recognition of the crucial role played by Aboriginal advisers and Aboriginal expertise in the exploration and settlement of Australia.”
Others who served Mitchell in 1836 included Tommy Came-First and Tommy Came-Last, who were also from the Central West. Mitchell met Tommy Came-Last when surveying the new gold fields around Ophir in 1851, describing him as “now grown a powerful man in prime of manhood, but from Mr. Davidson I learnt that he was still remarkable for docility and good conduct.”
Aboriginal ambassadors
Yuranigh is the most evidently recognised of those indigenous guides, whom Reynolds titles as “aboriginal ambassador”. Without these guides, it is unlikely that the exploration of Australia would have progressed so swiftly. They were partners in it but their skill, knowledge and diplomacy are under-recognised.
Although none mounted an expedition, as they had neither access to funds or organisational power, some were more than just guides. In some cases, they were as much of the exploration team as subordinate white men. Often, they placed themselves in danger because they were perceived as threatening strangers in the same manner as the white men. For indigenous people, the threat to their women, land and freedom had traditionally come from other tribes. So a John Piper or Yuranigh was a much a stranger as the pale skinned explorers. Their skills included identifying existing tracks for the explorers to follow, finding sources of water, using local knowledge and gathering intelligence about the tribes in the direction of travel, and applying bush craft to aid white men unused to the Australian climate and landscape. Yuranigh was able to negotiate with tribesmen even though he did not speak their language and, after one slow and delicate negotiation, induced a young man whose language he did not understand to guide Mitchell’s party to a river. Many of the tracks identified by the indigenous advisers soon became important paths for trade and communication and later developed into roads.
In the margins
The Australian Dictionary of Biography refers to twelve in its “indigenous guide” category. Some like Yuranigh, Jackey Jackey and Wylie are linked to the famous explorers like Mitchell, Edmund Kennedy and Edward Eyre. Jackey Jackey and Wylie’s stories have been told to generations of Australians as examples of loyal aboriginals. Less well known, although recorded in the ADB are Bungaree, Colebe, Cubadgee, Mokare, Tommy Windich and Erlikilyika. Many others are only mentioned in the margins of explorers’ reports. Some are just recorded as “four aboriginals”.
They range from Governor Philip’s guide Colebe, Bolandree and Colbee who aided Watkin Tench’s early explorations from the Port Jackson colony to the Nepean and Hawkesbury river system, to Bongaree who accompanied Matthew Flinders on his exploration to Moreton Bay and the later 1802 circumnavigation. Also recorded in some detail are Charley Fisher and Harry Brown who were guides to Ludwig Leichhardt’s second, successful expedition from Brisbane to Port Essington in 1844.
The records of Charles Sturt’s extensive exploration only record the names of Nadbuck and Jacky (Camboli) in his final 1844-45 search for the fabled inland sea, but not in two earlier expeditions of river systems in NSW and Victoria.
By mid-century, the use of familiar white nicknames was common. For the next sixty years of exploration, reports are littered with Bob, Billy, Charlie or Charley, Daniel, Dick, Dicky, Harry, Jimmy, Joey, John, Tommy and even a rather formal Warwick (Parunda) in Spencer and Gillen’s 1902 cross-continental anthropological expedition.
In the first 40 years of the NSW colony, the guides are given anglicised versions of their tribal name except for Moowattin who was also known as Daniel. The reports of many early explorers from 1789 to 1830, however, often don’t mention the indigenous guides. They were non-people, but appear to have been widely employed.
Some guides are still recognised by landmarks, such the Tarra River is Gippsland, named after the Polish explorer Strzelecki’s guide Charlie Tarra who led the expedition across the Australian Alps, where Mt Kosciusko was named in 1840, to Western Port and Melbourne. The Gippsland historian P.D. Gardner comments that it was the “hunting and bushcraft of Charlie Tarra that enabled them to reach Western Port alive”. Yuranigh is recorded by a creek near Molong, a lagoon and a county in Queensland, while Charley Fisher, a guide to Ludwig Leichhardt, is commemorated by Charley’s Creek near Chinchilla, Queensland and north of the Condamine River.
The histories on which generations of Australians were raised on largely ignored the role of aboriginal guides and ambassadors. Henry Reynolds in his 2000 book Black Pioneers attributed this blindness to the celebration of the explorers as necessary heroes for the creation of national image. “The explorers were seized on by writers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to provide colour and romance to what was thought to be a ‘rather tame and uneventful story’ singularly ‘devoid of stirring incident’. Before the exploits of the Anzacs were brought to the nation after Gallipoli, these white and mainly British explorers “provided the heroism supplied in other nations by military prowess and success in battle.” The explorers “were paraded through the minds of several generations of Australian children to promote an ‘honest and manly’ pride in the nation.” And so the role of the aboriginal explorers was erased.
There were the mid-Victorian heroic tales of Wylie, guide to Edward Eyre’s crossing of the Great Australian Bight, and Jacky Jacky (also referred to as Jackey Jackey in ADB), the guide to the stricken Edmund Kennedy in Cape York who carried on after the white explorer was speared and died. These were examples of the “faithful native” rather than partners in the exploration of this country.
Examples of explorer-centric imperialist history can be found in Sir Ernest Scott’s A Short History of Australia (1947) and Alan Shaw's The Story of Australia (1955). These books were the staple of history education in Australia at secondary school and undergraduate education for a generation. In Scott's sole chapter on exploration, which starts with Matthew Flinders at the beginning of the 19th century and ends with the Forrest’s expeditions in the 1870s, not one indigenous guide is mentioned by name. Even the celebrated Wylie is referred as “one black” who stayed with Eyre for the bleak two-month journey across the Nullarbor. The expeditions of Leichhardt and Kennedy in the late 1840s have no reference to the guides and Kennedy’s death in 1848 does not mention Jacky Jacky’s heroic support for him.
Cultural change
Not surprisingly with the sudden cultural impact of the white British culture, some guides weren’t always faithful and loyal. Philip Clarke writes that the mass arrival of European settlers after the initial 50 years of the colony “came in such overwhelming numbers that they dominated the Indigenous people”. This massive cultural change was hard for some to comprehend, compared with their more open and sharing society. In Gippsland, Jemmy Gibber, chief of the Maneroo tribe, acted as guide to Angus McMillan but left him after six days because he was frightened of “Warrigals, or wild blacks” in an area beyond the Maneroo region.
In Leichhardt’s expedition of 1844, Charley Fisher and Harry Brown performed well as guides but had failings as diplomats, mainly because Charley liked “native gins” (indigenous women) too much which brought the expedition into conflict with tribes in the areas that they passed through. One of Charley and Harry’ forays in Cape York led to an attack by the Kokopera people in which one explorer was killed and two wounded by spears. Leichhardt, who had been punched by Charley after reprimanding him in mid-expedition, jailed the guide in Port Essington for a night for stealing a sword and selling it to a carpenter.
Although Wylie travelled across the Great Australian Bight with Eyre in their terrible journey, there were other black guides who were less loyal to the explorer and with good reason. Eyre effectively kidnapped two eight-year-old boys named Cootachah and Joshuing from the Murray River area while driving stock to the new colony of Port Phillip. He took them on to Hobart as “crowd pleasing trophies” and they stayed with him for his next journey from NSW to South Australia. As they neared the Murray River, the boys’ families met Eyre but he would not return them. Joshuing deserted soon after but Cootachah stayed and was joined by another indigenous boy, Neramberein, whom Eyre had “got”. Their revenge on Eyre for this enslavement came three years later as the explorer prepared to go westward into the desert wilderness across the Bight. Cootachah and Neramberein shot Eyre’s companion Baxter and ran off, as they feared for their lives. The treatment of these boys and young men went unquestioned and was only recently noted by Reynolds.
Tommy Windich
In Western Australia, Tommy Windich was a guide to the Forrest brothers’ exploration and accompanied them on four expeditions from 1869 to 1874. The Forrests were expert surveyors using celestial navigation to plot their paths and so the aboriginal guides’ role was to search for water and horse feed. Windich was adept at finding native wells and waterholes, sometimes saving the expedition. John Forrest commented that without a waterhole found by him, “our position would be critical”. Windich gained small rewards in his lifetime and the gratitude of the Forrests. When he died of pneumonia in 1876 at the age of 36, they erected a tombstone over his grave inscribed with “He was an aboriginal native of Western Australia, of great intelligence and fidelity, who accompanied them on exploring expeditions into the interior of Australia, two of which were from Perth to Adelaide. Be Ye Also Ready”.
Rewards and recognition
By his marble headstone and its inscription by Mitchell, Yuranigh may be the most recognised of the aboriginal guides, although in his lifetime he was only given a small payment at the end of the expedition before returning to farm work. Wylie was rewarded with a pension and remained in Albany among his people. Others went back to their tribal areas but many faded away. Jacky Jacky, although recognised by Governor Fitzroy with a commemorative breast plate, returned to the Muswellbrook area in the NSW Hunter Valley. It is recorded that he fell into a fire while drunk and died of his burns. Geoffrey Blainey bemoaned their lack of reward and recognition: "When these guides died - mostly at an early age - a few were honoured with an obituary notice in a colonial newspaper and even an iron railing around their grave."

As Australia celebrates its national day on January 26, it is time to recognise and commemorate those indigenous explorers – guides and trackers – who helped develop understanding of the landscape and ecology, as well as aiding the economic exploitation that followed. The role of the "aboriginal ambassadors" is a story that deserves to be better known and their contribution recognised in Australia and in the histories of indigenous people, world-wide.