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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Portsmouth Literary and Scientific Society (31 march 1888)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

This article is a report of the Portsmouth Literary and Scientific Society published in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle on 31 march 1888.

The report is about the lecture "Some Results of the Norman Conquest of England" by Alexander Howell, attended on 27 march 1888 by Arthur Conan Doyle where he spoke as well.


Portsmouth Literary and Scientific Society

The last ordinary meeting of the members of this Society was held on Tuesday evening at the Guildhall, High-street, Portsmouth. In the absence of the President, the chair was occupied Mr. Hugh S. Maclauchlan (Vice-President), and the company included the following gentlemen:— The Mayor of Portsmouth (A. Addison. Esq, Gen. A. W. Drayson, F.R.A.S., Messrs. A. Howell, W. Inglis, R.N., G. A. Cook. R.N., G. Ollis, S. R. Ellis, A. Fisher, J. Robson, C. Foran, F. J. Page, R.N., W. Wood, R.N., E. T. Mayne, W. S. M. McCallum, G. Henderson, W. McIntyre, H. R. Ross, W. Newell, C. F. Bell, G. L. Green, Dr. A. Conan Doyle and Dr. J. Ward Cousins (Hon. Secretaries), and a number of ladies. — Mr. ALEXANDER HOWELL, in reading a paper on "Some Results of the Norman Conquest of England," dwelt at length with the time of William the Conqueror, the laws which affected the land, and the "Domesday" book. He showed that Buckland, Fratton, and Copper were the original titles of those manors at Portsmouth in the surveys of the time to which he referred. Soberton, Fareham, Eastmeon, Basingstoke, Alton, Hursthourne, Laverstoke, and other towns of Hampshire, mentioned in "Domesday" book, were referred to in an interesting manner, the reader stating that the entries enabled them to understand how large was the sweeping confiscation in those counties through which the Conqueror's armies passed; and it also taught them that the England of the eleventh and of the nineteenth centuries were one and the same. The most lasting Hampshire memorial in "Domesday," however, was the New Forest, which had furnished deer for pastime and for food long before the accession of William. Although at the first it might be thought that England was a loser by the Conquest, there could be no doubt that she was a great gainer, as since then they had never had occasion to seek a new constitution, nor had they been left without a house of representatives. The reader maintained that the most damaging effect of the Norman Conquest was to the English language, as might be seen by examining any ordinary dictionary, in which it would be found that only one-third of the words were of Teutonic origin, while the remaining two-third were foreign. Another effect of the Conquest was the disuse of old English Christian names. By it, however, great improvements had been made as regarded criminals and criminal laws, and crime was suppressed in a manner to which the English were unaccustomed. The paper closed with mentioning other gradual improvements under the Norman rule. — The CHAIRMAN, in moving a vote thanks to Mr. Howell, said it was very important that the reader of the paper should have reminded them of the divisions of the land which existed before the Norman Conquest when they were just face to face with a new County Government Bail. It had however, occurred to him that it would be a very good thing if William the Conqueror were now alive, for there were still one or two things in existence which existed then. The speaker referred to the selling of wives, which had continued until so recently as 1820, the wives themselves sometimes not being displeased with the alteration (laughter); and, in concluding, he regretted the absence of Mr. Hay (their President), but thought it was a good thing that both at their first and last meetings at the Guildhall the Mayor of the borough should have been present. — Dr. J. WARD COUSINS said that the paper had been brought before them in a clear and scholarly manner, and, in his opinion, the infusion of the brave northern blood into England was in its effects felt until the present day. In touching upon some of the practices introduced by the Norman Conquest, the speaker said he had very little doubt that if they now had a curfew bell it would be for the benefit of many towns parishes in closing the public-houses. (Hear, hear.) He seconded the vote of thanks. — General DRAYSON questioned whether the New Forest had ever been very greatly inhabited, or whether there had ever existed the villages which were said to have been there. — Dr. A. CONAN DOYLE having also discussed the question as to whether or not the English language had suffered by the Conquest, the vote of thanks was unanimously passed. — Mr. HOWELL briefly replied, and the meeting then closed.