Category Archives: Customs

The Red Cross and Empress Augusta

Empress Auugusta was a noble woman who led a joyless painful life; her connection with the Red Cross Society is perhaps not generally known, nor the substantial encouragement she gave to the scheme when first introduced in 1864.  She excelled as a organiser, and the number and wide scope of her charities testify to her capabilities.

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The Red Cross and Empress Augusta

Excerpt from Augusta Empress of Germany by Clara Tschudi published in 1900

Augusta Empress of GermanyThirty years ago, the care of wounded soldiers was far removed from the present organised system; it was then usual, in accordance with established custom, to fire on an ambulance, to capture army surgeons and their nursing staff, and to ransack the hospitals of the enemy. It was barbarous, but admitted, and it was not until after the Italian war of [1859], that the question of the neutrality of the wounded was first ventilated in an address delivered by the Neapolitan, Dr. Palasciano, which gave rise to the Geneva Convention. The thought became enlarged and worked out in many directions, notably by the Swiss author Henri Dunant, who in his book, “Recollections of Solferino,” depicted in burning words the horrors which he himself had witnessed on the battle-fields of Italy. He maintained that in order to introduce a better condition of things in future wars, it was not only necessary that the military sanitary system should benefit by neutrality, but that “relief societies should be formed in time of war by means of qualified volunteers.”

His words aroused attention, and an International Conference was held at Geneva, October 26th, [1863], to discuss the proposition of Dr. Palasciano and Henri Dunant, after which a committee was formed to deliberate on the means of developing them in a practical manner. Later on the International Society termed “The Red Cross Society,” again assembled, when the meeting at Geneva was attended by official, delegates from Austria, Spain, France, England, Holland, Prussia, six minor German States, Switzerland and Sweden, while addresses expressing approbation were received from Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Portugal.

Under the presidency of the respected Swiss General Dufour, these representatives of the rulers of fourteen states were unanimous, and the Geneva Convention was signed, August 22nd, [1864], in consequence of which the sick and wounded and all belonging to a military nursing staff are recognised as neutral in time of war.

“The Red Cross” became the badge of the Society and the international code was henceforth acknowledged by every European State. Such a merciful decision could not fail to awaken the keenest interest in Augusta of Prussia, who was the first to make her kingdom really energetic in carrying out the ideas suggested by the Geneva Convention. During her many sleepless nights on a bed of sickness, the concerns of “The Red Cross” became her chief subject of thought, and her practical experience of life helped to render her in the course of years an authority on every detail connected with the institution.

Before the war of [1864], Prussia had few societies occupied with the care of the sick and these were in no way in touch with each other, but on the outbreak of war their respective committees consulted together and then agreed upon co-operative work of which the Queen took the direction, and at the end of the fifth campaign, she became convinced that it was incumbent upon her to introduce the newly developed hospital system.

Excerpt from Augusta Empress of Germany by Clara Tschudi published in 1900

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Further Reading and External links

International Committee of the Red Cross – War and Law

Henry Durant

The Geneva Convention and The Red Cross

 

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The Red Cross

by Charles Bernard

Excerpt from The Chautauquan Voume 9 article The Red Cross by Charles Bernard published in 1889

At last the newspaper reporter invaded the battlefield. He cared nothing for glory and he saw the wounded. Then it was that people really began to understand what a fight means. It was the reporter who sent Florence Nightingale to the Crimea. The English government hospital service was totally inadequate to the care of the sick and wounded. After Florence Nightingale’s work no more was done to replace glory with a nurse, until after the battle of Solferino.

At this battle Henri Dunant, a Swiss gentleman, played the part of a reporter and pointed out to the people of Europe the truth about a battle. His paper, “A Souvenir of Solferino,” was the inspiration of a wholly new method of treating battles. It was the same in our war. The reporters told the truth, left out the glory and described the misery and suffering. The moment the people knew the facts they invented the greatest charity organization the world had then known. In these days of peace we are apt to forget what a remarkable institution our Sanitary Commission proved to be. It was a work by the people for the people’s army and it gave the greatest aid to the country that any government had ever received in time of war.

The reporter at Solferino, for M. Dunant deserves this title as he did a good reporter’s work, set all Europe to consider whether glory was not another name for barbarism, inhumanity, neglect, and cruelty. Our Sanitary Commission had done a great work and then disappeared. It was like the yellow “lion’s tooth” of the field, a plant with winged seeds; and its seeds sprang up in the minds of men in Europe beside the new thoughts inspired by the reporter at Solferino. There was in Switzerland a society of persons interested in the welfare of their country and of humanity at large, resembling our own Social Science Association. This association held its meetings at Geneva and was known as the Society of Public Utility. Three friends, M. Gustave Moynier, Dr. Louis Appia, and M. Dunant, the reporter, decided to call upon this society for aid. Could not something be done whereby the people could help the sick and wounded in time of war? The governments could not, if they would, do all that was needed. The people must help, not alone their own armies but all sick and wounded of every name and kin wherever there should be war. Humanity knows no nations but only suffering men.

The Society of Public Utility gave the idea favorable consideration, and a convention was called at Geneva of all persons who might be interested in the care of the sick and wounded in time of war. The convention was opened on the 26th of October, [1863], and was in session four days. The outcome of this meeting of the friends of humanity was a proposal for an international treaty in regard to the treatment of sick, wounded, and prisoners in war, and the formation of an international society for the care of the sick and wounded of both sides in every war and in all countries.

A treaty could only be considered by governments, and such a charitable society must have a recognized official status from the various governments or its labor would be in vain. No general would permit a society of nurses, however useful they might be, to follow his army lest they give aid and comfort to the enemy. Accordingly a call was issued for a convention of representatives from various governments and the first international treaty of mercy was read in the town hall at Geneva. It was a wholly new idea, and it is not surprising that many years passed before all the civilized governments of the world joined hands in this international agreement to admit that humanity is worth more than glory.

This first treaty, known as the Treaty of Geneva, consisted of ten articles.

Excerpt from The Chautauquan Voume 9 article The Red Cross by Charles Bernard published in 1889

 

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Further Reading and External links

International Committee of the Red Cross – War and Law

Henry Durant

 

The Geneva Convention – 1864

 

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The Geneva Convention – 1864

Excerpt from The Westminster Review Volume 143, article ‘International Agreements and the Sufferers in War’ by Joseph King Published in 1895

In many of the wars during the first sixty years of this century the wounded on the field were great sufferers. In some it is notorious that these sufferings were most cruelly aggravated. In the Crimean war English soldiers were killed or tortured by Cossacks when lying on the battlefield; in the great Civil War in the United States the wounded, as well as the prisoners, were treated by the Southerners with a brutality worthy of men fighting to maintain a system of slavery; in the wars of Italian Independence there were intense suffering and great mortality among the wounded, aggravated by the ferocity and ruthlessness of the enemy. But the last half of the century was to see a great advance of feeling on the subject, an advance indeed so extraordinary that it is only explicable on the theory that the great national and democratic movements of the day prepared men to recognise the rights of the wounded and of those attending upon them. So after the Austrian-Italian war of [1861] the conception of neutralising the wounded on the battlefield became all at once familiar. Within a short period Dr. Palasiano in Italy, M. Henri Arrault in Paris, and M. Henry Dunant in Geneva published pamphlets in which the same generous proposal was put forward.

The Swiss writer, M. Dunant, though in point of time the latest, was able to achieve the most. His work, the famous Souvenirs de Soferino, described his experiences as an eye-witness on the field, and after the victory of Solferino. Perhaps no more realistic account of the ghastliness of a battle and its consequences was ever published; after long pages of description M. Dunant made two fruitful suggestions: (1) That associations should be formed in time of peace which, in time of war, should take up an active existence and send as volunteers the doctors and nurses to attend the wounded; (2) That an International Conference should be summoned to consider the whole question. Both of these proposals were realised within a few years.

The credit of having realised them belongs to M. Dunant, whose ability and energy have placed thousands of wounded soldiers under the greatest obligations to him.

In [1863] the Societe Genevoise d’Utilite Publique, of which M. Dunant was a prominent member, assembled at Geneva a conference of representative men from almost all the European countries. It was from this Conference that the establishment of the International Committee for Aiding the Wounded in War dates, with its federated National Aid or Red Cross Societies in the various countries. The Conference also arrived at conclusions which justified the Swiss Federal Council in inviting the various Powers to attend a Diplomatic Congress, which was held in Geneva in August [1864]. To this Congress fifteen European Powers and the United States sent delegates; the conclusions of the Congress were embodied in the so-called Geneva Convention, which was signed on the 22nd August [1864].

The idea, which is the foundation of the Geneva “Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Soldiers Wounded in Armies in the Field,”  is that the wounded themselves, those that attend on them, their hospitals, ambulances, etc., are “acknowledged to be neuter,” and are to be protected and respected as such by the belligerents. The Convention is short and contains only ten articles.

Excerpt from The Westminster Review Volume 143, article ‘International Agreements and the Sufferers in War’ by Joseph King Published in 1895

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Further Rading and External Links

International Committee of the Red Cross – War and Law

Henry Dunant


Rivington Pike – Bolton – 1588

 

 

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Continuing our series on the History of Bolton – an ancient manufacturing town famed as the original seat of the cotton trade. Here we cover the historic site of Rivington Pike –  which was a signalling post used to warn the Spanish Armada was heading towards the English coast.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Rivington Pike – Bolton – 1588

Rivington ChurchBut Rivington and its vicinity have other associations to claim attention not less interesting than the fading memories of the extinct Wiiloughbys. The tower-crowned summit of the Pike, rising to the height of 1,545 feet above the sea level, calls to remembrance the stirring times of the Armada, and the scarcely less anxious days of nearly a century ago when our grandfathers were in daily dread of invasion, and constant watch was kept in order that the beacon fire might flash the signal of danger from hill to hill should their fears be realised; and the “Two-lads,” a double pile of stones on the further side, has its tale of disaster to beguile the time if we care to listen to it.  Those bleak mountain ridges that stretch away towards the south were once included within the limits of the great forest of Horwich, “a place of great sport,” as the old chroniclers have it, with its series of eagles, of hawks, and of herons.

Rivington was for centuries the home of the Pilkingtons, “gentlemen of repute in their shire before the Conquest,” as old Fuller tells us; if tradition is to be relied on, the chief of them bore himself bravely upon the red field of Hastings, and when sought for by the victors for espousing the cause of the defeated Harold, to avoid discovery, disguised himself as a mower, in commemoration of which circumstance his descendants have ever since borne the man and scythe for their crest.

A scion of this ancient house, Richard Pilkington, in the days of the Eighth Harry or shortly after, founded the church of Rivington, and his son, James Pilkington, who had suffered exile for the reformed faith in the time of the Marian persecutions, was nominated by Queen Elizabeth first Protestant bishop of the palatinate see of Durham, and was also founder of the Grammar School at Rivington, an institution that to this day perpetuates his name.

Excerpt from Historic Sites of Lancashire and Cheshire by James Croston published in 1883

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Further Reading and External Links

About Rivington

Legend of the Stone of Scone

Scotland is in all the news this week, so in an 1866 letter from the Joseph Robertson, of the Register House, Edinburgh we’re covering one of the old legends ‘The Stone of Scone’ – popularly also known as the Coronation Stone and the Stone of Destiny – which today rests in Edinburgh Castle.  It was returned to Scotland on St Andrews Day in 1996 after seven centuries in England.  Whenever there is a coronation in England the stone will travel from Scotland to England and back to Scotland again.

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Excerpt from Historical Memorial of Westminster Abbey by Arthur Penrhyn Stanley – 1869

Legend of the Stone of Scone

Letter from the late Joseph Robertson, of the Register House, Edinburgh, July 7, 1866.

Progress of the Legend of the Stone of Scone.

Stone of SconeWe have a few Scottish Chronicles, written at various periods from the tenth to the middle or latter part of the thirteenth century; but in no one of these is there notice of the Stone of Scone. Their silence is remarkable, as, although they are for the most part brief, they mention things of less mark.  They show, at the same time, that at least as early as A.D. 906, Scone was a royal city, the meeting-place of a national council or assembly.  We have proof of its being the acknowledged capital of the realm in royal charters of the twelfth and fourteenth centuries.  Thus, King Malcolm the Maiden (A.D. 1163-1164), in a charter to the Abbey of Scone, describes it as ‘in principali sede regni nostri fondate.’  So, again, King Robert Bruce (in A.D. 1325), in a charter to the Abbey of Scone, sets forth, as the cause of his bounty to it. ‘pro eo ‘quod Beges regni ibidem dignitates suas recipiunt et honores.’

Footnote from the Author: I have a melancholy pleasure in printing this letter, which was written (apparently currente calamo) in answer to some questions arising out of a long conversation in 1864.  Even in its present rough state, it is an instance of the extraordinary readiness with which he met every question relating to Scottish  history. 

It is sufficiently certain that, from the beginning of our historical record, about the year 1100, the Scottish Kings were inaugurated at Scone by being placed in the Royal Chair of Stone.

‘in Regiam Sedera,’ ‘in Cathedra Regali,’ ‘in Sede Regali,’ ‘super Cathedram’ ‘Regalem lapideam,’ etc.

But these brief records of inauguration are silent as to the history of the Stone.  So far as I see at this moment, the oldest writer who tells the legend of the Royal Stone is William of Rishanger, who appears to have lived until after A.D. 1327.  Under A.D. 1292, he thus describes the coronation of King John Balliol at Scone.

“Johannes de Balliolo, in festo Sancti Andreae sequenti, collocatus super lapidem Regalem, quem Jacob supposuerat capiti suo, dum iret de Bersabee et pergeret Aran, in ecclesia Canonicorum Regularium de Scone solemniter coronatur.”

The passage is repeated, word for word, in Thomas Walsingham’s ‘ Historia Anglicana,’ and probably in other English Chronicles.

The next writer, in point of antiquity, who speaks of the history of the Stone of Scone, is John of Fordun, a canon of the Church of Aberdeen, who was alive in 1386.  He tells two stories about it.  One is that Milo, King of the Scots in Spain, gave it to his favourite son, Simon Brek, the first King of the Scots in Ireland and that Simon Brek placed it in Tara, where it remained until it was brought to Scotland by Fergus, the son of Erch or Ferchard.

He adds that, according to some, Gathelus, the founder of the race of the Scots (so named from his wife Scots, daughter of King Pharaoh), brought the Stone from Egypt to Spain.  The other story is, that Simon Brek dragged it up from the bottom of the sea, along with the anchor of his ship, during a gale on the Irish coast.  Both stories speak of the Stone as of marble hewn into the form of a chair.

Excerpt from Historical memorial of Westminster Abbey by  Arthur Penrhyn Stanley – 1869

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Further Reading and External Links

Edinburgh Castle – Home to Stone of Scone 

Encyclopaedia Britannica – Stone of Scone

London Club-houses – 1800s

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This is the first in a series of postings about 19th century London Club-houses, popularly known today as a Gentleman’s Club.  John Weale (this posting is an excerpt from his book) describes how the ‘clubs’ have changed over the last 30 years (between about 1820 and 1850).

London Club-houses of the 1800s

“The feast of reason and the flow of soul”

A Popular London Club-HouseAs at present constituted, the London clubs and club life have produced a new phase in English society, at least in the metropolis one that will claim the notice of some future Macaulay, as showing the very “form and pressure of the time;” while to the more patient chronicler of anecdotes, club-house traditions and reminiscences will afford materials all the more interesting, perhaps, for not being encumbered with the dignity of formal history.  Our task is merely to touch upon and attempt a slight characteristic outline of them; not to trace the history of clubs to their origin in the heroic ages of Greece.  We shall not go back even to the clubs of the last century, except just to indicate cursorily some of the special differences between them and those of the present day.

Until about thirty years ago a club was seldom more than a mere knot of acquaintances who met together of an evening, at stated times, in a room engaged for that purpose at some tavern, and some of them held their meetings at considerable intervals apart.  Most of them were anything but fashionable some of them upon a footing not at all higher than that of a club of mechanics.  Among the regulations of the Essex Street Club, for instance (instituted by Dr. Johnson shortly before his death, and which was limited to twenty-four members), one was, that each person should spend not less than sixpence; another, that each absentee should forfeit threepence, and each of the company was to contribute a penny as a douceur to the waiter!

At that period the chief object of such associations was relaxation after the business of the day, and the enjoyment of a social evening in a homely way in what would now be called a snug party.  The celebrated “Literary Club,” which was founded by Reynolds in [1763], and whose meetings were held once a week at the Turk’s Head, in Gerrard Street, Soho, now a very unfashionable locality, consisted at first of only nine members, which number was, however, gradually increased to the large number of thirty-five; yet, limited as it was, it would not be easy even now to bring together as large a number of equally distinguished characters.  That club dined together once a fortnight, on which occasions “the feast of reason and the flow of soul” were, no doubt, enjoyed in perfection.

In most clubs of that period, on the contrary, the flow of wine, or other liquor, was far more abundant than that of mind, and the conversation was generally more easy and hilarious than intellectual or refined.  The bottle, or else the punch-bowl, played too prominent a part; and sociality too frequently partook of bacchanalian festivity, if not revelry, at least, of what would now be considered such according to our more temperate habits; and it deserves to be remarked that, though in general the elder clubs encouraged compotation and habits of free indulgence as indispensable to goodfellowship and sociality, the modern clubs, on the contrary, have done much to discourage them as low and ungentlemanly.  “Reeling home from a club” used to be formerly a common expression; whereas now inebriety, or the symptom of it, in a club-house, would bring down disgrace upon him who should be guilty of such an indiscretion.

The old clubs have passed away, for though some of them, or similar societies, may still exist, it is behind the scenes, instead of figuring conspicuously upon the stage.  Quite a new order of things has come up, the clubs of the present time being upon quite a different footing, and also, comparatively, gigantic in scale.  From small social meetings held periodically, they have become permanent establishments, luxurious in all their appointments; and of some of them the locales are quite palatial.  No longer limited to a few acquaintances familiarly known to each other, they count their members by hundreds, and, sleeping accommodation excepted, provide for them abundantly all the agrimens of an aristocratic home and admirably-regulated menage, without any of the trouble inseparable from a private household, unless it be one whose management is, as in a club-house, confided to responsible superintendents.

 Excerpt from London Exhibited in 1852 – by John Weale – published in 1852

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Further Reading and External Links

19th Century Gentlemans Clubs

London Regency Clubs

 

The Firedog of Capel Garmon – 1852

Below is an article from our library about a local archaeological discovery in 1852; interestingly enough there was also a  story about the same 2000 year old Firedog in the local BBC news recently – when it was used to pay a tax bill – read the story!

The Firedog of Capel Garmon – 1852

Firedog found near Capel GarmonThere are several objects of interest to the antiquary in the neighbourhood.  In close proximity is Carreg y lleon, (Rock of the legion,) suggestive of Roman domination.  A mile to the south is Dinas, commanding the junction of the Dolwyddelan and Penmachno vales.  At the foot of this rock was discovered an ancient firedog, in [1852].  Two miles to the north-east is Garneddwen, which, within living memory, was an immense heap of stones, under which, about the year [1803], several cistvaens were discovered and broken up.  Near this is the fragment of a maenhir, called Maenpebyll, (stone of tents or tabernacles,) which was wantonly blasted and thrown down in [1850].  To these may be added the Trebeddau graves, where the Brochmael inscription was found, Gaerfawr, and Yr hen foel, (which gave its name to the mansion and parish of Voelas,) with the inscribed pillar which has baffled palaeologists from Camden down to this day.

The relic of which a representation is appended was discovered in [May, 1852], by a man cutting a ditch through a turbary on the farm of Carreg Goedog, near Capel Garmon, Llanrwst.  It lay on the clay subsoil, flat upon its side, with a large stone at each end, and at a considerable depth.  The spot is quite unfrequented, nor are there any remains of ancient buildings.  It is all of iron, and the execution indicates considerable taste and skill.  It is in some parts much corroded, and exposure to the air decomposed the metal considerably.

The knobs on the crest and sides are, apparently, of cast iron, with rivets through.  The lower row of round marks on the crest are perforations.  Should a remote age be suggested, corroborative memorials are not wanting; such as the dinas, or fort, close to which it was found; Carreg y lleon, rock of the legion;  and the neighbouring Roman road through Dolwyddelan to Conovium – not to mention the cromlech.

Those who would maintain a mediaeval, or still more recent, date, might find a warrant for that supposition, in the circumstance of this neighbourhood having been the scene of many warlike conflicts, incursions and depredations.

The characteristics set forth in the following account of a Roman firedog, tally so well with those of the article above mentioned, that there appears good reason to believe it to be of Roman workmanship:-

“Mr. Roach Smith has given an engraving, in the second volume of his Collections, of a pair of andirons, or firedogs, of iron, discovered in [1839], in a sepulchral vault near Colchester.  Each consisted of a frame, the two upright sides of which were crowned with heads of oxen, with a brass knob on the tip of each horn.  Two very similar implements, also of iron, had been found near Shefford, in Bedfordshire, in [1832], and an engraving of them has also been given by Mr. Roach Smith.

Articles of the same character, but smaller, have been found at Pompeii, and in a tomb at Paestum.  The Italian antiquaries seem to consider that they were used, not like the mediaeval firedogs, to support the fuel, but that they were cooking utensils, intended to support iron bars to serve as a gridiron.  The two firedogs found near Shefford terminated in stags heads.  Even in these homely utensils, the imitations of nature are of the boldest order; the graceful turn of the stag’s neck, and the outline of the head, which form the ornamental part of each end, are singularly effective” – Celt, Roman and Saxon, by Thomas Wright, Esq., p. 335.

On the other hand, one of our members, Mr. O. Jewitt, observes as follows:

“I would suggest that this instrument is intended to hold the spits for roasting fowls, game, or other small animals, such as we see in mediaeval MSS.  The loops on the side are evidently intended for that purpose, and it is probable that the horns of the two heads are intended for supporting a larger one.  We see in the Bayeux Tapestry, and in MSS. of the fourteenth century, these spits continually used, and that boys were employed to turn them.  In the Bayeux Tapestry the small animals are always brought up to the table on the spits”  – J. EVANS. January, [1856].

Excerpt from Archaeologia Cambrensis Volume 2 by Thomas Rowland Powel & Donald Moore – 1856

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Further Reading and External Links

Tax bill paid with 2,000-year-old Iron Age fire guard – BBC News 19 December 2011

Other Firedog discoveries – Hertfordshire

Santa Claus and St Nicholas

 

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Old years have been – new years have been – and fleeted away, since the first brave Father Christmas came and caroll’d at the door.  He always found a cheerful cup and a jesting word to say, and a thousand fervent wishes – he deserves a thousand more.

The excerpt below is from the book – The Life Story of Father Christmas by Sarah A Tooley in the English Illustrated Magazine December 1905

The Good Bishop St Nicholas

Santa Claus began his career as the good Bishop St. Nicholas, and doubtless considers that he scores heavily over Father Christmas by having a recorded history.  St. Nicholas was born of wealthy parents, in the City of Patara, in Asia Minor, and gave evidence that he was not an ordinary child by standing upright in his bath, immediately after his birth. He appears to have known nothing of original sin, for such was his infantile piety, that on fast days he declined the natural nourishment offered by his mother.  Of course he entered the Church, and became a bishop.

For many years he ruled over the See of Myra, and by several miraculous deeds on behalf of young people, became known as the special benefactor of children. There are several versions of the famous miracle he performed in raising three boys to life.  One relates that a wealthy gentleman sent his two sons to Myra to pay their respects to the good Bishop Nicholas.  As the youths arrived late in the city they went to an inn for the night, intending to call on the bishop next morning.  During the night they were murdered by the landlord, in order to secure their belongings, and he concealed their bodies in a pickling tub.

St. Nicholas saw in a vision what had taken place, and, crozier in hand, went to the inn.  The landlord confessed his crime, and the bishop, on being shown the pickling tub, waved his hand over it, and the boys hopped out alive, none the worse for their adventure.

Although two boys are mentioned in this story, the representations of St. Nicholas performing the miracle invariably show three.  There is a picture over the altar of the Church of St. Nicholas, in Ghent, in which the bishop, in full robes, stands with uplifted forefinger beside a tub, in which the three boys, restored to life, are praising him with uplifted hands.  There is a similar representation in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

One of a more gruesome character appears in the Salisbury Missal of 1534, in which a butcher man is shown in the act of chopping the limb of one of the unfortunate boys, while under the table is seen the pickle tub, in which the three boys have been brought to life by St. Nicholas, who stands over them.  This latter picture illustrates another version of the legend which has been described in doggerel verse, and is the favourite with children.

Excerpt from the English Illustrated Magazine – 1905

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Further Reading and External Links

The History of Santa Claus and Father Christmas