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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: British "strangers"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2108  Thursday, 16 November 2000.

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Nov 2000 20:47:21 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2094 Re: British "strangers"

[2]     From:   Frank Whigham <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Nov 2000 17:54:10 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2094 Re: British "strangers"

[3]     From:   Anthony Martin <
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        Date:   Thursday, 16 Nov 2000 10:00:28 +0900
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2094 Re: British "strangers"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Nov 2000 20:47:21 GMT
Subject: 11.2094 Re: British "strangers"
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2094 Re: British "strangers"

As someone who had 'English go home' chalked on his flat in Scotland in
the 1970s I am familiar with the idea that the English are 'strangers'
in Scotland.  More seriously, I have a faint recollection - though no
evidence to back it up to hand - that, in a time when 'country' might
mean 'county', it was possible for a Londoner to greet, say, a
Yorkshireman as a 'stranger'.  It was certainly possible, in the early
seventeenth century, for Lowland Scots to treat their Gaelic-speaking
co-countrymen as strangers, even if the word was not used of them.  It's
a bit too facile to assume that the national boundaries we now draw were
the only markers of significant geographical difference in the early
seventeenth century.

David Lindley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Nov 2000 17:54:10 -0600
Subject: 11.2094 Re: British "strangers"
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2094 Re: British "strangers"

My general thanks to colleagues for their responses. However, no member
of this list can easily be unaware of the following:

>There is still a tension between the peoples of all four countries of
>the British Isles.  It's part of the culture.

Early modern attempts to use Scotland and Ireland against England by the
French and Spanish are likewise well-known.

The question I hope to answer is much more specific, concerning
particular linguistic usage: do we have records that show that early
modern English men and women did or did not call the Welsh, Irish, or
Scots "strangers"?

This term is very complex. It clearly operated in several contexts, so
that we need to distinguish if we can (among other possibilities)
whether the term was used to mark off English from other British
persons; from Europeans (such as competitive quasi-guest-workers from
France or the Netherlands, or from Catholic Europeans from farther
away); from Africans such as Othello (a "wheeling stranger" to a
Venetian) or Asians such as Tamburlaine; from tribal peoples (would a
Native American on quasi-display in London get called a "stranger"?);
from all non-British or non-English persons (an English colleague tells
me that she was taught as a child that "wogs start at Calais"); etc.

My own interest here has to do with whether and how the term "stranger"
might have been used to operate distinctions among the perceived nations
of the British Isles. As rightly noted, the very name of Wales contains
the trace of "original" by-definition radical difference, the currency
of which in the 16th century is borne out by the recent discussion of
Hotspur's wife.

More specifically, Emma Smith reports to me offlist that "49 Scots, for
example, are recorded in the 'Register of Strangers' compiled in 1627 .
. . [and that there was] a good deal of operative uncertainty by the
census takers about what a stranger was." And Kenneth Graham, who has
worked for some time on the term, also reports offlist that "stranger"
was frequently used in England to denote non-English refugees from
Catholic religious persecution, though not in his experience inhabitants
of the British Isles. (This may help explain Stephanie Hughes's early
American reference to Saints and Strangers.)

I hope to learn further how widespread such uncertainty about this term
(or opposed habits of its focused use) may have been.

Thanks again.

Frank Whigham

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anthony Martin <
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Date:           Thursday, 16 Nov 2000 10:00:28 +0900
Subject: 11.2094 Re: British "strangers"
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2094 Re: British "strangers"

Thomas Norton, the co-author of Gorboduc, wrote a brief consideration of
British history in 1582, where he describes the Welsh after the Saxon
invasions: "the noble nation of  Britaines then being begon to be called
Welshemen or strangers in their owne land".

Anthony Martin

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School of Literature
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