On 22 May 1915, ‘a gay-hearted youth’, William Fielding Sames, sat outside his dug-out in Gallipoli (modern-day Turkey) drinking a cup of tea. Even though he was just 22-years-old, William had been in the Army for five years, been promoted to Lieutenant and served in Egypt. Yet, the decision to sit and drink this cup of tea was to prove fatal. While he sat with his tea a bullet penetrated his lung. William died nine days later while on the way to a military hospital in Greece. He was buried at sea on 31 May 1915.
The vast archives produced by the English legal system are some of our most valuable materials for legal, political, social, and family histories. Issuing from national and local courts, from common, ecclesiastical, and equitable jurisdictions, and covering civil and criminal law, they offer a window into the lives of ordinary people and the principles that governed their societies. Yet to the first-time researcher – and even to more experienced scholars – they can seem idiosyncratic, impenetrable, and daunting. As someone who is still on the steep learning curve that comes with reading these records, I have put together some basic advice for those new to working with them.