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Preston Subscription Assemblies of the Year 1808

Preston Subscription Assemblies of the Year 1808 by ROBINSON, Dr; Mr Pilkington etc (1808)

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Author: ROBINSON, Dr; Mr Pilkington etc
Title: Preston Subscription Assemblies of the Year 1808
Year: 1808
Publisher: Unpublished
Place: Preston
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: Yes
Price: £250
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Added under Manuscripts  

[pp] 100 + blanks. Jane Austen-era records of an Assembly society complete with lists of attendees including just enough officers to thrill the likes of Lydia Bennet. These are the subscription, attendance and financial records of the Preston Subscription Assembly society in rural Lancashire for 1808-1815. Contained in an octavo sized manuscript book, lined paper, bound in half calf over marbled boards, chipping and drying to the spine leather but quite sound. There are 100 unnumbered pages of manuscript records which record both membership and individual meetings which took place once every three weeks. Beginning each year's records is a list of subscribers names - about even numbers of men and women amounting to around 60 or 70 in total - with details of their subscription payments followed by named stewards, attendees and expenses for each of the assembly events. The lists of attendees makes fascinating reading, the majority of the women being unmarried - 'Miss Grimshaw, Miss Wilson...' and an occasional glamorous guest such as 'Genl. Fletcher' who attended several assemblies in the winter of 1812 while recuperating from his injury in the Peninsular War. (Sir Richard Fletcher was the mastermind of Wellington's Lines of Torres Vedras and would return to Spain to die the following August.) Other military figures included 'Major Whitehead' and 'Capt Langdon' as well as Preston notables such as Dr William St Clare. The finances are set out in detail: at the assembly on 14 November 1810 the violinists or 'fidlers' received £3 13s 6d with payments to the doorkeepers, other musicians as well as publicity and ticketing by 'C Parsons deliv.g handbills twice, tickets and applictions for subscriptions' who received 10 shillings. The biggest expense was the hiring of the hall 'Whiteheads' which seems to have been attached to the Old Bull Inn in Preston with specific payments for candles. There are occasional extras including alcohol and even a harpist who was paid a pound for performing. The format of the assemblies also varied with reference to 'masqued' events.
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