Robert Boyle, the Biggleswade Bigamist

With dark eyes, broad shoulders and a black suit with a gold-embroidered waistcoat, former soldier Robert Boyle cut a dashing figure. He used his confidence and charm to win the hearts of young ladies wherever he went – and then ruined them. Bigamist Five days into her marriage, Susannah Boyle was confronted with the reality …

A new view: changes to our Manuscripts Online Catalogue

After ten years of faithful service, our Manuscripts Online Catalogue has had a facelift. Our new CalmView website, like our old catalogue, allows users to search over 250,000 records describing our rich manuscript and archive collections. However, beyond a cosmetic refresh, the launch of CalmView has allowed us to bring thousands of records relating to …

One Born Every Minute

As William and Kate welcome their baby daughter into the world at the state-of-the-art private maternity ward The Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, we had a look back through our collections to see what childbirth was like in the 17th and 18th centuries. Traditionally, pregnancy and birth were social and domestic occurrences, which predominantly …

What’s in a name?

It was Zsa Zsa Gabor who said “I call everyone ‘darling’ because I can’t remember their names”. Perhaps she had never been introduced to people blessed (or cursed?) with creative, unique or downright strange names. Here, in chronological order, are fifteen genuine examples of people’s names taken from the manuscripts that we have come across: Original Steele, of …

Finding your Family

Within the 4 million documents held in Manuscripts and Special Collections are the names of hundreds of thousands of people from Nottinghamshire and the broader East Midlands. Catalogues can never list every person named in documents, so one of the major challenges of family history research is finding which records may refer to your ancestors. …

Black History Month

To mark Black History Month, we’re focussing on one of Nottingham’s most famous black citizens; former slave turned entrepreneur George Africanus. His date and exact place of birth are unknown, but he was about three years old when he was brought to England in 1766, where he became a servant to the Molyneux family in …