Saturday, August 22, 2015

BOAT RACE: 76th NYC Dinner 2009 - Lord Selkirk of Douglas

Lord Selkirk of Douglas, at
the 2009 dinner.
The Toast to the Universities was given by Lord Selkirk of Douglas (Balliol, Oxford), formerly Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, a Scottish MP before taking his place in the House of Lords. He was introduced by Matthew Nimetz, another Balliol man and U.N. Special Representative, and former partner at the law firm of Paul, Weiss.

Lord Selkirk gave the best Board Race Dinner speech I have ever heard (and I have heard many of them), and in it he revealed that his gggg-uncle was James Smithson (Pembroke, Oxford), FRS (c. 1765-June 27, 1829), English chemist and mineralogist.

Smithson gave the money and initial collection of artifacts that established the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., even though Smithson had never been to the United States.

James Smithson (Pembroke,
Oxford), founder of
the Smithsonian.
Smithson was the natural child of the 1st Duke of Northumberland, born in Paris, it is said in Pentemont Abbey. He had the given name of Jacques-Louis Macie, later anglicized to James Louis Macie.

He became an English citizen and went up to Oxford, studying chemicals and rocks. At  22, he changed his surname from Macie to Smithson, his father's pre-marriage surname, living from inheritances from his mother and other relatives.

Smithson traveled extensively throughout Europe publishing papers about his findings. In 1802, he proved that zinc carbonates were true carbonate minerals, and one such zinc carbonate was later named smithsonite in his honor.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas (Balliol, Oxford), gggg-nephew of
James Smithson MA (Pembroke, Oxford), donor of the
Smithsonian Institution.
Smithson never married and was childless. He left his estate to his nephew Henry James Hungerford, or his estate. If his nephew was to die without heirs, however, Smithson's will stipulated that his estate be donated to the founding of "an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge,” in Washington, D.C. In 1835, his nephew died and so could not claim to be the recipient of his estate.

After a decade of debate about how best to spend the money, President James K. Polk signed the Smithsonian Institution Act.

President Andrew Jackson sent diplomat Richard Rush to England to negotiate for transfer of the funds, and two years later Rush set sail for home with 11 boxes containing a total of 104,960 gold sovereigns, 8 shillings, and 7 pence, as well as Smithson’s mineral collection,scientific notes, and personal effects.

After the gold was melted down, it added up a fortune, well over $500,000. On August 10, 1846, the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution was signed into law by President Polk. Today, the Smithsonian is composed of 19 museums and galleries including the recently announced National Museum of African American History and Culture, nine research facilities throughout the United States and the world, and the national zoo.

Besides the original Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the “Castle,” visitors to Washington, D.C., tour the National Museum of Natural History, which houses the natural science collections, the National Zoological Park, and the National Portrait Gallery.

The National Museum of American History houses the original Star-Spangled Banner and other artifacts of U.S. history. The National Air and Space Museum has the distinction of being the most visited museum in the world, exhibiting such marvels of aviation and space history as the Wright brothers’ plane and Freedom 7, the space capsule that took the first American into space. John Smithson, the Smithsonian Institution’s great benefactor, is interred in a tomb in the Smithsonian Building.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

BOAT RACE: 25th NYC Dinner 1958

The 25th ("Silver Anniversary") Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner was held at the Harvard Club of New York City, on April 11, 1958.

It was chaired by C. F. Martineau (Univ., Oxford), who proposed both toasts, to the President of the United States and H.M. the Queen.

The speaker was John Peck, C.M.G. (Oxford), Director General of British Information Services.

He was introduced by Peter Greig (Cambridge).

The Committee was composed of seven Oxford men and four Cambridge men.

Total attendance was 120 men - all Oxford or Cambridge alums, no spouses or guests - which is the capacity of the Biddle Room.

Quentin Keith prepared the menu card, and invented various Oxford and Cambridge college specialties out of the Harvard Club dinner fare, for example:
  • Olives Oriel
  • Trinity Celery
  • Oxbridge Beef
  • Worcester Saucisse
  • Broccoli a la Balliol
  • Queens' Peaches
  • Creme Pembroke
  • Demi-Tasse Tomquadrivium
  • Haricot Madeleine (presumed ref. to Magdalen College Oxford or Magdalene College Cambridge)
  • Gravy Grantchester is an early (1950s) television murder-mystery series set in Cambridge, an early rough draft, so to speak, of the more sophisticated Inspector Morse.
  • Potatoes Pierremaison seems to refer to a meal that Rumpole of the Bailey had at Maison Pierre. But this reference is the one I am least sure of.
Assistance/corrections/elaborations humbly sought on the menu references. Email john@cityeconomist.com.

BIRTH: Aug. 16–T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), Oxonian

T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)
T[homas] E[dward] Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia", was born on August 16, in Tremadoc (aka Tremadog), Wales. T. E. was the second of five sons born to Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Lawrence Junner. Junner was a Scottish governess to Sir Thomas's daughters. Sir Thomas had an affair with Junner in Wales. He then left his wife and he and Junner lived together as Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence in Ireland. The Lawrences then moved to Oxford.

T. E. matriculated at Jesus College, Oxford in 1907, studying history. He was fluent in Greek, Arabic and French. While at Oxford he joined the Oxford University Officer Training Corps. T.E. became an archaeological scholar and was recruited by the British Army military to conduct a military survey of the Negev Desert while doing archaeological research.

He famously became a champion and military strategist for Arab rebels against Ottoman Turkish rule. He was awarded the DSO but refused the KBE.

His book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926) was an account of his exploits as a military advisor to Arabs in their revolt against the Turks, and was the basis for the film Lawrence of Arabia (1962). He was killed on a motorcycle in 1935 after leaving the military; he had swerved to avoid two boys in the road on bicycles.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

HERALDRY: The College of Arms and Windsor Herald

Nigel Armstrong-Flemming.
All photos by JT Marlin.
On February 7 this year, at the Pitt Dinner at Trinity College, Oxford, I met Nigel Armstrong-Flemming.

A few weeks later he kindly introduced me to Windsor Herald, an officer of arms at the College of Arms, also known as the College of Heralds.

The office of Windsor Herald is older than the College of Arms itself. It was reportedly created by Edward III in 1364 when a Poursuivant of Edward brought him news of the British victory at Auray. He was rewarded by promotion to Herald with the title Windsor.
------------------
Celebratory Note: My article in Oxford Today on the Oxford colleges' coats of arms may be found here.
-------------------

In 1419, Windsor Herald was sent to the Duke of Brittany and has been maintained since then. The badge of office is the sunburst badge of Edward III royally crowned.

William George Hunt, Windsor Herald, out of uniform,
at the Armoury House in London. Photo by JT Marlin.
Best-known of Windsor Heralds is surely 17th century antiquarian Elias Ashmole, a Brasenose College, Oxford graduate.

Ashmole gave his extensive library to Oxford, which in return put his name on its museum, now the Ashmolean Museum (newly renovated and not to be missed, opposite the Randolph).

Windsor Herald today is William George Hunt, TD, BA (Southampton), FCA. We met at lunch at the historic Armoury House in London.

He then gave me a tour of the College of Arms, abbreviated by the fact that the library area is being renovated.

The College corporation is overseen by the Earl Marshal, a hereditary office held by the Duke of Norfolk, currently Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk. The College is composed of 13 officers or heralds:
  • Three Kings of Arms (Garter, Clarenceux and Norroy & Ulster).
  • Six Heralds (Chester, Lancaster, Richmond, Somerset, Windsor and York).
  • Elias Ashmole, by
    John Riley.
  • Four Pursuivants (Bluemantle, Portcullis, Rouge Croix and Rouge Dragon). 
The office of Garter was created in 1415 by Henry V.  Garter Principal King of Arms is Thomas Woodcock, CVO, since April 1, 2010; he succeeded Sir Peter Gwynn-Jones, KCVO.

In addition to these officers, seven officers extraordinary take part in ceremonial occasions but are not part of the College.

College of Arms, London. Photo by JT Marlin.
The College of Arms, a royal corporation that is empowered, among other things,  to give a "grant of arms". Without such a grant, no one can be sure that their coat of arms is unique or will not be copied with impunity. A coat of arms without a grant is called an "unofficial" or "hypothetical" coat of arms.

Windsor Herald in the Library, being renovated, of the College of Arms.
Heralds may design coats of arms, but only the three Kings of Arms may grant them in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and some Commonwealth countries.

The grant of arms certifies that the coat of arms is original and the College of Arms is ready to help stop someone else from using it, e.g., in a civil suit.

Before a grant is made, it is preceded by painstaking research to ensure that no one else has previously used such a coat of arms.

Scotland has its own independent heraldic authority, the Court of the Lord Lyon. Use of arms in Scotland is governed by criminal law and, for example, marks of cadency (for younger sons) must be used to insure that each coat of arms is unique to an individual.

Windsor Herald and other heralds have a skilled staff including the Poursuivants (apprentice heralds) and historic resources, including categorizations by type of "device" on huge numbers of coats of arms. The College of Arms is unusually well equipped to research a coat of arms before providing a design or a grant of arms.

It is a challenge to maintain these resources. The officers are appointed by the British Crown, which delegates authority to act on the Queen's behalf in all matters of
  • heraldry and the granting of new coats of arms, 
  • genealogical research and the recording of pedigrees, and
  • Note that all three Kings of Arms have signed this grant of arms,
    as is customary.
  • vexillogical questions, i.e.,  issues relating to the flying of flags on land and maintaining official registers of flags and other national symbols.
The College of Arms also consults on the planning of many ceremonial occasions such as coronations, state funerals, the annual Garter Service and the State Opening of Parliament.

Heralds of the College accompany the sovereign on many of these occasions.

Though a part of the Royal Household of the United Kingdom, the College is self-financed, not supported by the British taxpayer. If you are thinking of adopting a coat of arms for family or institution, I urge you to go through channels and get a grant of arms. The grant fees, listed on the website of the College of Arms, are lowest, about $9,000 for an individual. The fee is higher for nonprofit institutions and is most expensive for profit-making corporations.

Founded 531 years ago (in 1484) by a royal charter from Richard III, the College is one of the few remaining official heraldic authorities in Europe. It has been located in the City of London since its foundation, and has been at its present address on Queen Victoria Street for 460 years (since 1555), which must be some kind of record.

Americans can contribute to support of the College of Arms through a Foundation administered by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. The foundation web site reports that it is registered as a 501(c)(3) corporation. I have made a modest gift to the foundation. To do the same, you can send dollar contribution checks, which are deductible from taxable income reportable to the IRS, to the Treasurer of the Foundation:

Robert W. Thompson, Treasurer
College of Arms Foundation, Inc.
58 Seneca Place
Oceanport, NJ 07757

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

OXFORD IN USA: Class of 1962 in Washington, 1995

Folger Shakespeare Library, 1995. Oxford Class of 1962. Be the first to get ten names right, win a prize. Send your list to john@cityeconomist.com. Hints: John Kirby front row, on one knee. Alan Henrikson, back row, with Pam in front. Norton Tennille is here, Rex Adams (host), Dave Roe. William Shakespeare is not a correct answer. Photo by JT Marlin.

Monday, August 10, 2015

BIRTHDAY: Smithsonian Institution, Founded by Oxonian James Smithson

James Smithson (Pembroke, Oxford),
founder of the Smithsonian.
On this day was signed the law that created the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The money and initial collection of artifacts was donated by an Oxford man who had never been to the United States.

The founder was James Smithson, MA (Oxon.), FRS (c. 1765-June 27, 1829), English chemist and mineralogist who attended Pembroke College, Oxford.

I first learned that Smithson was an Oxonian at the New York City Boat Race Dinner on April 23, 2009, when Lord Selkirk of Douglas told us about the founding of the Smithsonian in a speech that was the best Boat Race Dinner speech I have ever heard.

Smithson was the natural child of the 1st Duke of Northumberland, born in Paris, it is said in Pentemont Abbey. He had the given name of Jacques-Louis Macie, later anglicized to James Louis Macie.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas (Balliol, Oxford), gggg-nephew of
James Smithson MA (Pembroke, Oxford), donor of the
Smithsonian Institution.
He became an English citizen and went to Oxford, studying chemistry and mineralogy. At  22, he changed his surname from Macie to Smithson, his father's pre-marriage surname, living from  inheritances from his mother and other relatives.

Smithson traveled extensively throughout Europe publishing papers about his findings. In 1802, he  proved that zinc carbonates were true carbonate minerals, and one such zinc carbonate was later named smithsonite in his honor.

Smithson never married and was childless. He left his estate to his nephew Henry James Hungerford, or his estate. If his nephew was to die without heirs, however, Smithson's will stipulated that his estate be donated to the founding of "an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge,” in Washington, D.C. In 1835, his nephew died and so could not claim to be the recipient of his estate.

After a decade of debate about how best to spend the money, President James K. Polk signed the Smithsonian Institution Act.

President Andrew Jackson sent diplomat Richard Rush to England to negotiate for transfer of the funds, and two years later Rush set sail for home with 11 boxes containing a total of 104,960 gold sovereigns, 8 shillings, and 7 pence, as well as Smithson’s mineral collection,scientific notes, and personal effects.

After the gold was melted down, it added up a fortune, well over $500,000. On August 10, 1846, the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution was signed into law by President Polk. Today, the Smithsonian is composed of 19 museums and galleries including the recently announced National Museum of African American History and Culture, nine research facilities throughout the United States and the world, and the national zoo.

Besides the original Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the “Castle,” visitors to Washington, D.C., tour the National Museum of Natural History, which houses the natural science collections, the National Zoological Park, and the National Portrait Gallery.

The National Museum of American History houses the original Star-Spangled Banner and other artifacts of U.S. history. The National Air and Space Museum has the distinction of being the most visited museum in the world, exhibiting such marvels of aviation and space history as the Wright brothers’ plane and Freedom 7, the space capsule that took the first American into space. John Smithson, the Smithsonian Institution’s great benefactor, is interred in a tomb in the Smithsonian Building.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

OXFORD MOVIE: Laurel and Hardy, "A Chump at Oxford" (1940)

This YouTube movie is the full 60-minute version of "A Chump at Oxford" (1940) for European audiences.

This is a "fish out of water" story.

(A 40-minute version was originally made for the American market.)

"Oxford" shows up at the 21-minute mark.

As a reward for capturing a bank robber, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are given places at Oxford.

However, the other students resent their presence, so it doesn't work out so well.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

BOAT RACE: 17th NYC BRD 1949 - Speakers and Menu

This is the first of the menus that I have in my possession, thanks to Quentin Keith (Kings, Cambridge), who passed on to me the earliest menu provided here and many others.

His granddaughter was accepted at Oriel College, Oxford to study physics in 1995.

Other estates that may have early menus among their papers might be those of Committee members in 1949 or 1955.

The Committee list in 1949 was much shorter than in 1955 and the only overlap is Louis B. Warren:
Lawrence C. Hill (BNC, Oxford)
Leslie A. Hyam (Trinity, Cambridge)
John C. Jenkins (Corpus Christi, Cambridge)
James B. Orrick (New College, Oxford)
H. Gregory Thomas (Corpus Christi, Cambridge)
R. A. van der Straeten (Pembroke, Cambridge)
Louis B. Warren (Trinity, Oxford)
John A. Wells (Balliol, Oxford)
H. N. Wilcox (St. John's, Oxford)


The 1955 Committee was:
L. A. Astley-Bell (Pembroke, Cambridge)
Charles G. Bolte (New College, Oxford)
Candler Cobb (Oriel, Oxford)
Bruce F. E. Harvey (BNC, Oxford) - Chairman of the dinner before Denis Woodfield, who preceded me.
Cedric R. Lane (Pembroke, Cambridge)
Malcolm A. MacIntyre (BNC, Oxford)
John M. Martin (Hertford, Oxford)
C. F. Martineau (Univ., Oxford)
V. J. D. Stavridi (Ch.Ch., Oxford)
John Treadwell (Ch.Ch., Oxford) [He died in 1968 or 1969]
Louis B. Warren (Trinity, Oxford)
Hobart G. Weekes (Exeter, Oxford)
G. N. T. Widdrington (SEH, Oxford)
Rivington Winant (Balliol, Oxford)

I have a complete file of dinner menus except for the following years:

1933-1948, 1950-53, 1972, 1977-78.