Enigmas in Editing Early Modern Manuscripts

As part of the 2021 IJBS Blog Series Vera J. Camden, Professor of English at Kent State University, explores the the trials and tribulations of editing the diary of the eighteenth-century Presbyterian widow of a London goldsmith, Hannah Burton.

Margaret Ezell has reflected that the survival of manuscript documents such as early modern women’s diaries are like insects in amber, occupying a ‘long since deceased literary landscape’ that yet offer a ‘continuation of that presence which survives destruction, that matter which the living are permitted still to embrace.’[1]  

Yet such ‘embrace[s]’ are by no means effortless. The challenges of transcribing early modern manuscripts are many, ranging from cramped handwriting, to idiosyncratic punctuation; from protracted notes to obscure biographical details; from pages left intentionally blank to ripped or blotted transcriptions of unknown authors. Such peculiarities faced me when I came to edit the diary of Hannah Burton (1723–1786), since published as She Being Dead Yet Speaketh: The Franklin Family Papers in the Other Voice series. In this blog post, I wish to explore the patience and persistence required when making such manuscript papers ‘press ready’.

The early modern diary of Hannah offers a rare insight into the inner life and outer experience of a destitute widow living at the height of the economic revolutions and dissenting religious resurgences of eighteenth-century London, but its pages require careful decoding.

Hannah’s manuscript diary presented what seemed at first glance almost impenetrable pages of anxious italic script, ink blots, stricken words, pinned portions, upside down insertions from foreign hands, and ripped page remnants, so characteristic of the ‘messy’ manuscripts of the ordinary early modern household (see Figure 1).[2] Hannah writes in the same notebook as her grandmother, Mary Franklin (d. 1711) had written in to keep an account of her own spiritual experiences  during the persecution of the Protestant Dissenters after the Restoration. Such intergenerational manuscripts of course contain many enigmas.

Figure 1. Pages from Hannah Burton’s diary illustrating various revisions and erasures.
Held at the Congregational Library, within the Dr Williams’s Library (DWL), London, CL MS 33 I. h. fols. 20v-21r. Reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the Congregational Memorial Hall.

In the case of Hannah’s diary, we know her name because she autographs nearly all of her daily entries in full or with her initials. Though her grandmother’s notebook contains the autograph signature of Mary Franklin on its front flyleaf, Hannah Burton goes to the extra effort of curating her grandmother’s narrative, adding its title in her own hand ‘The Experiences of my grandmother, Mrs. Mary Franklin.’ (see Figure 2) Naming herself and her grandmother holds a particular significance to Hannah. She explicitly invokes her family legacy of faith in the preamble to her diary where she writes, ‘Oh, may the unfeigned faith, and patient that dwelt in my dear grandmother Franklin, and in my dear and honored mother Ryland dwell in me also’ (p. 175). In titling the narrative of her grandmother and writing her own name, she connects to – and reminds others of—the history she has inherited with these family papers.

Widow of a London goldsmith, Hannah takes pen to paper in September 1782, following her husband’s death, to capture, Job-like, the contours of her sorrows and losses amidst the nearly unbearable economic realities of her destitute state living on a widow’s meager pension. Hannah Burton’s account of her days reflects the tension within herself between a devotion that fosters transcendence of worldly trials and a desperate particularity to record every debt, every conversation, and every dreadful disorder that poverty brings. While she is determined to identify herself as the author of this diary, she paradoxically omits any proper naming of her husband: he is repeatedly mentioned but only by monikers such as ‘wrestling Jacob’, ‘dearest yokefellow’, and, when he was sick, as a bruised and battered house, a crumbling ‘clay building.’ (pp. 206; 221; 196). Whether she was resisting naming her husband because of shame over financial ruin or merely a sense that his worldly identity had been superseded by being now numbered among the citizens of London, the fact remains that the editorial task of finding a biographical context for this spiritual chronicle entailed much sleuthing of the London archives.  More than once my then graduate assistant Valentino Zullo and I pleaded out loud and into the night: ‘who was your husband?’ ‘Who is this wrestling Jacob?’

Figure 2. Page showing the handwritten title Hannah Burton gave to her grandmother’s writings. Held at the Congregational Library, within the DWL, London, CL MS 33 I. h. fol. 3r. Reproduced by kind permission of the Trustees of the Congregational Memorial Hall.

How did we find out, finally, whom Hannah was married to?  We uncovered the truth by following the diarist’s habits of mind, for, throughout her diary, Hannah documents all anniversaries, from the day of the loss of her mother fourteen years ago, to the anniversary of a nearly fatal encounter with a bull on the streets of London! She also documents the details of her purchases and debts, telling us she has no money for cheese and candles and that she has reluctantly sold her husband’s ‘old coats’ and ‘old rags’ (p. 183).  It is the attention to these details that makes this document seem so quintessentially eighteenth century compared to her grandmother’s narrative where domestic details of such things as weaning of children, cradle fires and home intruders pointed to the Lord’s providences (pp. 135; 139). Hannah by contrast keeps to record-keeping, account keeping and mapping her travels, and thus leaves a neat, discernible trail which in the end led us to the Goldsmiths’ Hall, and to William Burton (d. 1781), London master goldsmith, and watchcase maker (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. William Burton’s incuse mark and small workers’ mark. Apprenticeship records of William Burton and William Burton, the younger. Goldsmiths’ Company, London.

The three clues that Hannah offers about her husband are also related to three preoccupying themes of her diary: time, money and death. She reminiscences that of the death of her husband occurred ‘sixty-five weeks ago,’ ‘sixty-seven weeks ago’ and so on and that his illness had been painful and prolonged (pp. 223; 242); she tells us that she has an eight-pound pension because of the charity of his business (p. 182); and, lastly, she tells us he is now among the clods of the valley in Bunhill Fields (p. 179). Thus, by searching pension records, death and burial records from Bunhill fields, and the names of possible apprentices within a span of several years, we were able to locate William Burton, apprenticed to his father, and thrice bankrupted, whose Last Will and Testament left all worldly goods to his widow, Hannah, who receives his small annual pension and other charities from the Goldsmiths’ Hall.

Sources

Hannah Burton, ‘The Diary of Hannah Burton (1782)’, in She Being Dead Yet Speaketh: The Franklin Family Papers, ed. Vera J. Camden (Toronto: Iter Press and the Arizona Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2020), pp. 173-266.

Footnotes


[1] Margaret J. M. Ezell, ‘The Posthumous Publication of Women’s Manuscripts and the History of Authorship’, in Women’s Writing and the Circulation of Ideas: Manuscript Publication in England, 1550–1800, ed. by George Justice and Nathan Tinker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 121-136 (128).

[2] Margaret J. M. Ezell, ‘Invisible Books,’ in Producing the Eighteenth-Century Book: Writers and Publishers in England, 1650–1800, eds. Laura L. Runge and Pat Rogers (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2009), pp. 53–69 (66).

2021 IJBS Early Career Essay Prize

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SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN

Deadline: 1 March 2021

The annual International John Bunyan Society (IJBS) Early Career Essay Prize recognises the cutting-edge research of junior scholars in the field of early modern religion and dissent.

Criteria:

  • The competition is open to PhD students and post-doctoral researchers up to two years after their viva.
  • To be eligible, applicants MUST be members of the IJBS. Membership enquiries/ subscriptions can be made via the Society’s UK Treasurer: r.c.adcock@keele.ac.uk.
  • Applicants can submit an essay of up to 8,000 words (e.g. part of a chapter or a draft of an article or a written version of a conference paper) by 1 March 2021 (as an email attachment). The word count includes footnotes, but excludes title, bibliography and any appendixes (which, however, should not be longer than the text of the essay).
  • The name of the author, their affiliation and their role (e.g. final-year PhD student) as well as the word count should be indicated on the title page.
  • A brief biography outlining the applicant’s current research project (150 words) is to be included.

This year the IJBS particularly welcomes contributions discussing the pastoral care, medical practices, and welfare of religious Dissenters during the Long Reformation (global perspectives are especially welcome). All submissions will be judged by members of the Society’s Executive Committee who may ask other experts to join them. Candidates will be informed of the outcome by email within a month of the submission date. The winner will be officially announced at the next Regional IJBS Conference in April 2021 (TBC) and will receive a certificate, a financial award of £300, one year’s free membership to IJBS and a year’s subscription to the Society’s peer-reviewed journal: Bunyan Studies.

Please send all submissions by 1 March 2021 to the Society’s General Secretary, Robert W. Daniel, via IJBSSecretary@outlook.com.

2020 IJBS Early Career Essay Prize

The International John Bunyan Society is pleased to announce that the 2020 Early Career Essay Prize has been awarded to Eleanor Hedger, for her essay entitled ‘Singing in the Face of Death: Making Martyrs on the Scaffold during the English Reformation’. The prize was intended to have been announced at the Regional IJBS Conference planned for 16 April 2020, but this event had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the winner’s certificate and prize has been sent to Eleanor by David Walker, IJBS President. The selection panel was chaired by Bob Owens, and the members were Rachel Adcock, Isabel Rivers, and David Walker. hedger-eleanor-Cropped-230x230

Eleanor Hedger is a third-year PhD candidate at the University of Birmingham, funded by the Midlands4Cities AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership. A musicologist by training, she completed a BMus in 2014, followed by an MA specialising in Early Music. Her PhD thesis is exploring two unusual and extensive questions: what did the unsettled, conflicted, and turbulent world of post-Reformation England sound like? And what did the sounds associated with conflict, violence, and punishment signify to those that made and heard them? To answer these questions she is carrying out research into the sonic and musical characteristics of conflict and punishment from the start of Mary I’s reign in 1553 until the death of Charles I in 1649. This includes examining the ways in which sound functioned during rituals of punishment, such as public executions and charivari, and also how sound reflected and heightened aspects of social and religious conflict in spaces such as the early modern prison and the parish church. Her argument is that consideration of the sonic experience of such rituals and spaces can serve as a conduit for investigating the complex social, political, and religious tensions that surfaced during this period. Her essay, ‘Heinrich Isaac’s Missa Comme femme desconfortée: A Musical Offering to the Virgin Mary’, has been published in Stefan Gasch, Markus Grassl, and August Valentin Rabe (eds.), Henricus Isaac (ca. 1450–1617): Composition – Reception – Interpretation (Vienna: Hollitzer Verlag, 2019), pp. 177–188.

This is the inaugural year of the IJBS Early Career Essay Prize, which is open to PhD Students and to post-doctoral researchers within the first two years after their viva. Applicants must be members of IJBS. The prize is for outstanding scholarly work in the field of early modern religion and Dissent, including its literature, history and reception. Further details about the prize will be posted on the IJBS website.

9th Triennial IJBS Conferenc

NETWORKS OF DISSENT: CONNECTING AND COMMUNICATING ACROSS THE LONG REFORMATION: THE NINTH TRIENNIAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL JOHN BUNYAN SOCIETY

The draft programme for the Ninth Triennial IJBS Conference is now available. Download the conference schedule here.

Wednesday August 14

12:00-6:00 Registration Table: Business Atrium

1:00-2:00 Salter Room HC 3-95: Reception for graduate student delegates.

Plenary Panel 1: 2:15-3:45: Writing and Reading Among Dissenting Clergy
Chair: Roger Pooley
Helen Wilcox (Bangor University): “The Dissenter’s Journal as a Textual Network: the Case of Oliver Heywood”
Tim Cooper (University of Otago): “The Correspondence of Richard Baxter”
Robert Daniel (University of Warwick): “’Read their lives in Mr. Clarke’s collection’: Writing and Reading Networks amongst Dissenting English Clergymen, 1650-1700”

4:00-6:00 Bruce Peel Special Collections
The official opening of the Bunyan Exhibition in Bruce Peel Special Collections (curated by Sylvia Brown). The Bruce Peel is one of the four largest repositories in the world for rare Bunyan editions.

6:15-7:30 Plenary Address 1: Kathleen Lynch (Folger Institute): “‘We Protestants in masquerade’: Burning the Pope in London.” Chair: Sylvia Brown

Thursday August 15

8:45-10:00 Plenary Address 2: Ariel Hessayon (Goldsmith’s. University of London): “Social networks and the publication of continental European writings during the English Revolution” Chair: David Walker

Concurrent Session 1: 10:30-12:00
Bunyan’s Contemporaries
Chair: Helen Wilcox
Jameela Lares (University of Southern Mississippi): “There Is No Way but Or:  Method in Bunyan and Milton”
Gary Kuchar (University of Victoria): “The Sounds of Appleton House: Andrew Marvell’s Poetic Audioscapes”
Paul Dyck (Canadian Mennonite University): “Dissenting and Conforming Herbert: tracing the uses of The Temple in the later 17th century”

Towards the Modern and Contemporary
Chair: Rachel Adcock
Andy Draycott (Talbot School of Theology): “Bunyan and Bonhoeffer: honoring prison writers among evangelical inheritors of dissent”
Devin Fairchild (Kent State University): “Anarchy in the UK and Terror in the Garden: a Postcolonial Reading of Paradise Lost and V for Vendetta”
Margaret Breen (University of Connecticut): “Toni Morrison, Temporality, and Networks of Dissent”

12:00-1:00 Lunch

Concurrent Session 3:  1:00-2:30
Travel and Translation
Chair: Kathleen Lynch
Rev. Susanne Gregerson (Independent Scholar): “The first translation of “Pilgrim’s Progress” into Danish”
Shitsuyo Masui (Sophia University, Tokyo): “Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative and the 18th-century Transatlantic Evangelical Protestantism”
Roger Pooley (Keele University): “Dissenting Itinerancy”

Memory and Meditation
Chair: Tim Cooper
Rachel Adcock (Keele University): “Memorable Acts and Restoration Dissenting Networks”
Tom Schwanda (Wheaton College): “Remembering John Bunyan through the Writings of George Whitefield”
David Walker (University of Northumbria): “Defoe’s Meditations”

Plenary Panel 2: 3:00-4:45: Women, Print Networks, and Publishing 
Moderator: Sylvia Brown

Part 1: Jenna Townend (Loughborough): “Print and literary cultures of dissenting poetry and its readers, 1642-89:
Gary Kelly (University of Alberta): “Sixpenny Print Networks: Bunyan, the Number-trade and Dissent in the Onset of Modernity”

Part 2: Adrea Johnson (University of Alberta): “’I send thee forth’: Bunyan’s Language of Agency in the Work of Susannah Spurgeon”
Vera J. Camden (Kent State University): “Earthly House and Earthly Testimony: Mary Franklin’s Experience” (read in absentia)

7:00-9:00 Anglican Parish of Christ Church, Oliver Neighbourhood
The Appeal of John Bunyan

Friday August 16

8:45-10:00 Plenary Address 3: Alison Chapman (University of Alabama) “Tithes of War. The Early Modern Law of Tithing and Milton’s War in Heaven”  Chair: Arlette Zinck

Concurrent Session 5: 10:30-12:00

Allegory and Hermeneutics
Chair: Paul Dyck
Michael Arbino (Kent State University): “Predestination and Divinely Appointed Companionship in The Pilgrim’s Progress and The Life and Death of Mr. Badman
Richard Bergen (University of British Columbia): “The Word and the World”
Noam Flinker (University of Haifa): “Psalm 51: From Christian Silencing to Judaic Messianism in Mid-17th-Century England”

Bunyan Texts and Contexts
Chair: Jenna Townend
Donovan Tann (Hesston College) “Early Modern Brewing Discourse and Networks of Culpability in John Bunyan’s Life and Death of Mr. Badman” (1680)
Maxine Hancock (Emerita, Regent College) “Mercie’s Mirrors: Reflections and Deflections in the Pilgrim’s Progress, part 2”
Robert Wiznura (MacEwan University), “Anxiety About Complacency: The Holy War”

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:15 Plenary Address 4: Feisal Mohamed (Graduate Centre CUNY): “Bunyan and the Annus mirabilis of English Law.” Chair: David Gay

AFTERNOON EXCURSIONS: 2:30-5:30

IJBS Business Meeting: 6:15-7:00 Place TBA all are welcome

7:00-10:00 Conference Banquet Papaschase Room: University of Alberta Faculty Club 

Announcement of the Fifth Richard L. Greaves Award / Adjournment

A window onto John Bunyan

Until a few days ago, I wasn’t aware that the St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, in central Cambridge (GB), held a fine set of Bunyan stained-glass windows just behind the pulpit and the organ. I’m very grateful to Dr Paul Scott for bringing them to my attention.

St Andrew's St Window

These windows are much less well-known than the examples at Bunyan Meeting, Bedford, or in Westminster Abbey (by Sir John Ninian Comper), but they belong with a surprisingly large group of 19th- and 20th-century windows around the world. The ones that have come to my notice include : Elstow Abbey Church and Bunyan Memorial Hall, Harlington Church (Bedfordshire), the Geneva McCartney Library (Pennsylvania, by Henry Lee Willett), Chigwell School (Essex, by Reginald Hallward), Tyndale Baptist Church (Bristol, by Arnold Wathen Robinson), Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Boston (by Frederic Crowninshield) and Allegheny Cemetery Mausoleum (Pittsburgh).

The St Andrew’s window in Cambridge is a First World War memorial, depicting in the lower panel Valiant-for-Truth, Christian losing his burden at the Cross and Faithful’s martyrdom, representing ‘Truth’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Self Sacrifice’ respectively. The upper panel has four musician angels (including one with a guitar!) on both sides of the celestial city. If you happen to be in Cambridge, this is well worth a detour. The Church is located on St Andrew’s Street, the present building, in flint, dating from 1903, http://www.stasbaptist.org/

The examples above are taken at random from those that I have encountered. Does anybody know if there is a reliable inventory of Bunyan or Bunyan-inspired windows? It would be good to hear about the artists, the scenes most often depicted and the context in which they are used, including cemeteries and educational institutions as well as churches.

Something to ponder over the Christmas season!

Anne Page

Bunyan in chains

We can gain a remarkable insight into the use of Bunyan’s works thanks to a copy of the 1692 folio that has just been donated to the Angus Library and Archive, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, by the Faringdon Baptist Church, in Berkshire. While working in that Library, I was astonished to be shown what I believe is the only chained copy of the folio in existence. A portion of the rusty chain is still attached to the book, and a fly-leaf note, bearing the name of Philip Farmer, describes how the book was to be used in its original home :

This book was given by Phillip ffarmer to the Church of Christ meeting at their meeting house in Westbrook at ffaringdon, Constituted of such only as are baptized upon profession of their faith; to abide fixed in their meeting house for the use of all such whether members or hearers as shall resort thither at convinient seasons to read in it or hear any part of it read; Never to be moved from their present meeting house so long as they or their succcessours of the same faith and order shall possess and use the same for their meeting house; and if ever that church so constituted shall remove to another meeting place or be [letters deleted] divided, it is the will of the donor that the greatest number of such members as afores[ai]d that shall hold together shall possess and enjoy this book for common use as aforesaid This is declared by the donor the first day of ffebruary anno dom[in]j 1711

                                                                                                Phillip ffarmer

Witness. Tho: Langley

This is a unique document, describing how the Bunyan folio was to be permanently kept in the meeting house, for all those wishing to read it, or be read to from it, when stepping into the building. The volume does not possess the frontispiece, the list of subscribers, or the index dedication.

Faringdon Baptist Church, Bromsgrove face, http://www.geograph.org.uk © Roger Templeman, CC BY-SA 2.0

Faringdon Baptist Church, Bromsgrove face,http://www.geograph.org.uk © Roger Templeman, CC BY-SA 2.0

A 19th-century loose sheet inserted in the volume, simply entitled ‘Baptist Church, Faringdon,’ reveals the full contents of a second fly-leaf, which is unfortunately torn. The text runs:

‘A book of Bunyan’s works, originally presented to the Church in the year 1711, by Philip Farmer, and removed by Thomas Mace to prevent it being stolen in the year 1761, was restored by Mr. J. Broad, of Reading, May 21st 1888, particulars of each circumstances being written on the fly-lead of the book, now chained to [an] antique oak lectern in its original position in the Chapel’.

The Angus Library and Archive now possesses three copies of the folio, whose editorial history might still yield some surprises. For those unfamiliar with their wonderful records, see their website, http://theangus.rpc.ox.ac.uk

With many thanks to Emma Walsh and Emily Burgoyne.

Anne Page, Oxford, July 2014

Baptist Church House

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This is an impressive picture taken on 13 May 2014 outside Baptist Church House on Southampton Row, kindly passed on by Jane Giscombe and Alan Argent (Dr Williams’s Library) to Bunyan lovers, and reproduced here with their permission.

You can see closer photographs of Bunyan statue by Richard Garbe on the Victorian Web page, and visit English Heritage for the building. 

A walking tour…

By Roger Pooley

‘whereas Christian goes on a pilgrimage, Christiana goes on a walking-tour’

This quotation was posted on Facebook by Jameela Lares, with a plea to get the source of it to her before she taught The Pilgrim’s Progress that morning. I’m sorry that it’s taken me rather longer than that, other than a vague memory, but I thought other members of the Society might like to know the results.

It comes from ‘The Identity of the Pseudo-Bunyan’ in Ronald Knox, Essays in Satire (London, 1928: Sheed & Ward), on p.206. The essay is one of a number of satires on biblical source criticism and other ‘modern’ theological ideas of the time – the volume also contains a poem in the manner of Dryden, ‘Absolute and Abitofhell’. The essay itself invents a number of Bunyanesque pseudo-scholars: among them Professor Sack-the-lot, Mr Tithe-mint, and my personal favourite, Canon Obvious, the author of Dear Old Bunyan. The quotation in question is actually ascribed to Mr Muck-rake’s On the Trail of the Pilgrims, as the climax to a whole series of inconsistencies that he has pointed out between Parts One and Two.
The conclusion, after a discussion of the differences between the two parts which (ironies aside) is still worth attending to, is too magnificent not to quote at length. He draws attention to Great-heart’s ‘panegyric upon women’ where:
‘he traces the influence of women in the Gospels with the avowed object of showing that they were ahead of the other sex from end to end of the story. It is my own belief, though one which I offer with all due reserve to the public, that this is the true reading of the problem. The fortunes of Christiana, strange as it may seem, were foisted upon the world by a woman, jealous for the credit of her own sex, and an Anglican, equally jealous for the reputation of a much-maligned and recently persecuted Church.’ (p.219)

Pilgrim’s Progress begins 100-part list of best novels

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The Pilgrim’s Progress begins The Observer‘s 100-part list of best novels written in English. Robert Mc Crum explains his enduring popularity: “The Pilgrim’s Progress is the ultimate English classic, a book that has been continuously in print, from its first publication to the present day, in an extraordinary number of editions.

There’s no book in English, apart from the Bible, to equal Bunyan’s masterpiece for the range of its readership, or its influence on writers as diverse as William Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, CS Lewis, John Steinbeck and even Enid Blyton”.

View the complete article on The Observer’s website: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/23/100-best-novels-pilgrims-progress