A Priaulx Library first?
Christmas 2008 saw us feature a selection of letters and excerpts of seasonal interest from our collection. This electic mix included a couple of letters dated 1799 from the teenaged William Pierre Le Cocq, spending a miserable Christmas away from his Guernsey home at boarding school in Chesham Bois in Buckinghamshire. In the first letter to his parents, he makes the following observation:
I must now describe to you the game of Hockey; we have each a stick turning up at the end. We get a bung. There are two sides one of them knocks one way and the other side the other way. If any one of the sides makes the bung reach that end of the churchyard it is victorious.
It has been claimed by Dr Carl Gíden and Patrick Houda of Stockholm, researchers of the history of hockey, in their 'Hockey Timeline,' that this letter of 1799 constitutes 'the first contemporary use of the word 'hockey,' referring to a stick and ball game.' Hockey became very popular in public schools at the end of the 18th century. The poet William Cowper was a schoolmaster in Olney, also in Buckinghamshire, and in a letter of 1785 mentions the boys playing hockey, but describes it simply as 'dashing each other with mud.' We await developments!