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Thomas Oldcastle

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Published : 1 Article
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : N/A
Death : N/A
Views : 1216

Author of 'From Mr. T. Oldcastle concerning the Coal Exchange'. This item may be the actual writing of a Thomas Oldcastle, or it may be a hoax. The Office Book assigns to Horne the item; it records no payment. Horne was at the time on the H.W. staff.


The motivation for the item was Home's account, in "The Black Diamonds of England", June 8 1850, of his meeting at the London Coal Exchange "Thomas Oldcastle, of Durham, captain of the collier brig 'Shiner' of South Shields". Horne unflatteringly described the captain's appearance, recorded some of his conversation, ridiculed his quoting twenty-year-old statistics as though they were current, and remarked—of the captain's liking for the brightly coloured wall decorations of the Exchange—that "our honest friend had no good taste in pictures".

The item is in the form of a letter to the editor, written from the Blue Dragon Arms, South Shields, and signed "Thomas Oldcastle". The writer states that the information given by him to the author "of these coal-papers" is true, and stoutly defends his own taste in pictures. He is somewhat dubious about the honour of being mentioned by name in H.W.: "I suppose I ought—and therefore I do consider it a great honour; and what Captain of a collier-brig would not?".

Available directories do not list an Oldcastle or a Blue Dragon Arms in South Shields or in North Shields. North Shields was the port of registry of the Shiner; no crew lists for the vessel have been preserved (information from Public Record Office, London).

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971.

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