Pre 2016 Notes

Return to History main page.

Katherine of Aragon - Queen Consort, 1st wife of King Henry VIII 1485 - 1536 and
Mary (May) of Teck - Queen Consort of King George V 1867 - 1953

With this study or comparison of the lives of two Queens, Katherine of Aragon and Mary (May) of Teck, both married to the second sons, my aim has been to follow events as they unfolded, and to try to understand the personality and strengths of both women. Not only shown in their determined manner and at times ability to manipulate things, but also in their dress and demeanor.
Katherine, betrothed at the age of 3, was born to be a Queen. She appears to have accepted her marriage to the first son of Henry VII, Prince Arthur, and then following his early death to his brother Prince Henry.
Had Katherine been able to give Henry VIII a son and heir, then I believe the question of divorce would never have arisen. Throughout the first 18 years of their marriage and extravagant lifestyle, she had ignored the many mistresses of Henry, strongly believing in her Catholic faith. There would also appear to have been a different attitude to royalty at that time. Indeed her own father Ferdinand of Spain had several illegitimate children.
Mary (May) of Teck, a minor and somewhat impoverished royal, was fully aware of the position and indeed influence of the Royal family. despite knowing of the disreputable behaviour of Prince Edward (Eddy), with the blessing of Queen Victoria and her parents she knew the wealth and prestige marriage would give to her family. Edward died when they were betrothed, and she married the second son Prince George, later to become King George V, who was a faithful husband.
Queen Mary is reported to have said “Royalty is a profession. One of the great arts of royalty is to be liked, even by those who do not know you.”
Both women, once Queen, were extremely popular in their own right. Strong and determined women.
Joyce Fletcher
February 2012


The Discovery and Development of Electrical Energy

Human knowledge of Magnetism and Static electricity began 2000 years before they were recognised to be separate, although inter-related phenomena. Once that intellectual boundary was crossed around 1500 AD steps were taken to understand and harness these forces. The next 400 years saw a succession of discoveries that advanced human knowledge of the interplay between the forces, which in turn led to revolutionary inventions. The following pages are an extract from this history and of one man’s contribution to the harnessing of Electricity and a brief look at his life and work. Michael Faraday is that man, one most people will have heard of.
Michael Faraday was born in 1791 and had only a basic education before he became apprenticed to a London book seller and binder. It was during his period of apprenticeship that he educated himself by reading the books he was required to bind. Also during this time he became very interested in science and attended many lectures given by the renowned scientist Sir Humphrey Davy. He subsequently sent Davy a three hundred page book of notes he had taken over the course of those lectures. Initially he did not receive a reply. Sometime later however when Davy damaged an eye during one of his experiments he sent for Michael and employed him as a secretary. Michael’s practical experience took off when the Royal Institute asked Davy to find a replacement for one of their chemical assistants, Michael was recommended and given the position. He continued to assist Davy in the study of chemicals and he succeeded in liquefying several gases. This helped establish that gases are vapours of liquids possessing very low boiling points.
Faraday is however best known for his work on electricity and magnetism. Utilising the discovery by Hans Orstead of electromagnetism he succeeded where Davy failed and produced a device in 1821 which he called an ‘Electromagnetic Rotary Device’. At this point however he fell foul of Davy when he published his results without making any reference to Davy with whom he had worked on the theory. This omission strained his relationship with the Royal Society and he was assigned to other work. He then spent much of the next seven years working on recipes for optical glass.
Two years after the death of Davy Faraday began a series of experiments in which he discovered ‘Electromagnetic Induction’. His breakthrough came when he wrapped two insulated wires around an iron ring. He then found that when he passed an electric current through one wire a current was induced in the other. This effect is now called ‘Mutual Induction’. In another experiment he found that moving a magnet through a loop of wire caused an electric current to flow in the wire. Faraday after a series of experiments concluded a relationship between electricity and chemistry and stated ‘There is an absolute quantity of electric power associated with each atom of matter.
Michael Faraday was active in many fields other than that of electricity. He undertook projects for both private and Government bodies. One of these was a highly detailed report into the colliery explosion in 1844 at Haswell in Co. Durham where 95 miners were killed. Unfortunately although his report advised that coal dust had greatly contributed to the explosion the mine owners ignored the risk for another sixty years. Other projects included the construction of Lighthouses, the protection of ships hulls from corrosion and investigations into air and industrial pollution. Michael Faraday is still considered to be one of the most influential scientists in history. He died in 1867.

Gavin Butterfield.
Jan. 2014


The following is an extract of a longer article written by Gavin Butterfield.
The ritual denunciation of women reaches back to the Old Testament as well as to Ancient Greece. Found also in Roman tradition, it dominated ecclesiastical writing, letters and sermons. The discussion of misogyny runs throughout medieval literature.
Documents of all ancient cultures depict women as subordinate to men both socially and legally. Among many quotes from the Bible is one from Genesis 3:xvi which states ‘thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee’. Ancient texts that influenced Western European thought and law for many centuries mention and in some cases ‘justify’ the subjection of women to men.
The Gentoo Code is a legal code translated from Sanskrit to Persian and then into English. One chapter entitled ‘Of what concerns women’ includes the edict ‘a man both by day and night, must keep his wife so much in subjection that she by no means be mistress of her own actions’. English law, culture and customs derived much from these ancient cultures and their texts and patriarchal attitudes were deeply embedded and for so long that they seemed completely natural, and indisputable. It was just the way life was. In Britain an interlude to this way of life was during the Pagan period of the Anglo-Saxons when women occupied the same important and independent rank in society. They were allowed to possess, inherit and transmit land and property. They shared in all social activities and were present at Parliament and County Councils
By the time the Christian religion had been fully accepted, Britain was an almost entirely misogynistic culture. Under English Common law a women’s legal identity disappeared upon marriage. She could no longer contract, sue or be sued. All her property and dowry belonged automatically to her husband. The Church was extremely powerful and religious fundamentalism dominated every aspect of life. Girls were indoctrinated from birth that they were the instruments of the devil, who lured men into sin. People believed that Adam was created first, then Eve was created from his body to serve and obey him. In order to be useful wives, girls were taught how to manage a household, their marriages were arranged and the age of fourteen was considered suitable for them to be married. The average life expectancy for a woman was thirty.
Prior to the 19th and 20th centuries when women took active means of demonstration to pursue for equal rights, women in earlier centuries put forth their views on misogyny in poetry, prose and writings. Some of the better known are the following.
Christine de Pizan. Born 1365 in Italy but raised in France.
Anne Bradstreet. Born 1612 in Northampton but emigrated to America at the age of 18.
Modesta Pozzo. Born 1555 in Venice, Italy.


Stephanie Louise Kwolek was born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania on July 31st 1923. Her parents were Polish immigrants John and Nellie Zajdel Kwolek. John worked in the Pittsburgh steel industry and Nellie was first a mother to Stephanie and her brother Anthony but she was also an accomplished home seamstress and designer. John loved nature and his daughter spent her early years collecting leaves, seeds and grasses during their walks together and developed an inquiring mind. John Kwolek died suddenly when Stephanie was 10 years old and Nellie by necessity became a career woman, designing and making gowns for the ladies of New Kensington.
Stephanie inherited a love of fabrics and sewing from her mother but Nellie warned her that she would never make a living from sewing because she was too much of a perfectionist in everything she did. As she grew older Stephanie became interested in chemistry and medicine. In 1946 she earned a BS in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh but, lacking the funds to go to medical school, she took a research position in the DuPont textile fibres laboratory in Buffalo, New York. At DuPont the polymer research she was working on was so interesting she dropped her plans for medical school and made chemistry her lifelong work. Stephanie earned a transfer to DuPonts Pioneering Research Laboratory in Wilmington, Delaware when it opened in 1950 and it was here that she had many successes in her search for better polymers. Stephanie specialized in low temperature 0 to 40deg C processes for the preparation of condensing polymers, creating long molecule chains resulting in synthetic fibres of great strength and rigidity.
In the 1960`s she discovered an entirely new type of synthetics liquid crystalline polymers and then went on to discover a process by which these rod-like polymers could be spun directly into fibres of great strength and rigidity. One of the fibres spun from the liquid crystalline solution was the yellow fibre which became “Kevlar”. “Kevlar”, first marketed in 1971, was a fibre five times stronger than an ounce of steel with half the density of fibre glass, and it became best known for its use in the bullet proof vests which have save many thousands of lives. Kevlar has dozens of applications, it replaced the asbestos radial tyres and brake pads, became fibre optic cables, racing sails, spacecraft shells, mooring and suspension bridge cables, skis, safety helmets and hiking/camping gear.
Stephanie Kwolek continued advancing the design and use of polymer fibre research until her retirement in 1986. She holds 17 US patents and has received many awards from industry, universities and governments. Stephanie never married, chemistry was her life.

Extract from History Project “Women of Science in the 20th Century”, Pauline Butterfield
Return to History main page.