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Wednesday, 1 August 2007

The History, Topography and Directory of Warwickshire arrived today, by surface mail presumably as I ordered it (via AbeBooks) from W Hornby of Selly Park, Birmingham, in late May. It cost just over US$300 and is an addition to my collection that will provide details for my Web page.

As it chronicles, the Caldicott branch -- leading down to my paternal grandmother (who died in 1995 aged 90) -- was very much in 'trade'. As I wrote: "In 1763 ribbon manufacturer John Caldicott (b. 1742, baptised in Ebrington, Gloucestershire, d. 1808 in Coventry) marries Sibella Ludford in St Michaels, Coventry."

John decided to spell his name with an 'a', even as his forbears had spelled it 'Coldicott'. On page 308 of my new book are listed two Caldicotts: Henry (habadasher) and James (butcher).

The book is lovely. Published in 1830, it details the heart of the industrial revolution. Manufacturers listed therein or who took ads, as did J. Gillot (steel pen manufacturer; shown here), were truly on the cutting edge of technology.

Birmingham is very much the wellspring of English manufacturing and remains, today, a major centre of innovation.

It is also associated with such novel actors on the stage of history as the Lunar Society. Among its members was Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles. I certainly do not believe my ancestors were involved in their type of inquiry. Nevertheless, knowledge of the city's history and manufacturers must add to my understanding of how the modern world evolved.

It's unlikely that a habadasher could be party to such momentous undertakings. Or is it? Nevertheless the year 1830 is one of great events. The great Reform Bill and the Chartist movement occurred around this time. Britain opened up China (for reasons of commerce, naturally) by force just as the Americans would do in Japan thirty years later.

It is the time when power finally devolved from the monarch to parliament and, as such, deserves our attention.

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