The Vexation of Lady Dale

‘Tell me more of the trade,” I beg, knowing that my lord had visited markets. “Ah lady, these you should see,” murmurs Edward and his voice takes on the rhythm of a story teller. “Traders and merchants fill the market areas, shouting and calling out their wares or bargaining in many different languages. Their voices rise and fall like music rather than my solid tones. And all about, the ladies dart like brightly coloured birds in flowing draperies of reds and oranges and yellows with their long-plaited hair flying behind.   
   He turns toward my spice box and gently pushes open the front so the scents seep into the room.
   “And this, my lady,” he says sniffing deeply, “this is how you know you are near the market!’

I am a lecturer in Primary history at the University of Roehampton (south west London) where I train Primary teachers. I am a member of the Historical Association and regularly contribute to the Primary History Journal. These articles are about how to teach different units. This is the first time I have written historical fiction.

I was interested in the idea of using sources to find an individual with a story. I knew a little of India but nothing much about the exploits of the East India Company. I find the individuals hidden behind documentary sources fascinating and wanted to see if I could tell their tale.

I have found the project to be hugely stimulating. I have become fascinated by Lady Elizabeth’s story as she and the other players in the tale have become very real to me. I have spent many happy hours rootling through sources and tracking down clues on websites to see if my story would do what I wanted it to. Sadly, there is no image of Lady Elizabeth although Sir Thomas has a portrait. The historical research has been a joy and I was very excited to see Thomas’s own letter that he sent home from Java.  To touch the real thing is also to connect with those from the past. The visits were useful in introducing the project and providing possible ideas to develop. It was good to meet different people and see what they were thinking of writing about.

Elizabeth Dale’s name on her petition requesting the return of her money held at the National Archives reference C 2 ChasI/D1/1
Short title: Lady Dale v East India Company

My story is about Lady Elizabeth Dale and her attempt to force the East India Company to return the wealth stolen from her husband Sir Thomas Dale. Sir Thomas was serving as Admiral of the Fleet for the EIC when he caught the flux and died in Masulipatnam in 1619. Lady Elizabeth was his executrix. She discovered that the company had broken into Sir Thomas’s cabin and stolen all his goods. Lady Elizabeth took the company to court, claiming £20,000. While she does not appear to have got any of the money back, she did make a tremendous fuss about it and caused the Company much irritation and loss of reputation. I was interested in the relation between Sir Thomas and Lady Elizabeth. I found it sad that he had been dead for six months before she knew he was gone. I was also interested in the theme of the Thames as a river of trade.Type your paragraph here.

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