Delighted that my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series will now be translated into Portuguese, as well as Spanish and German.
27 October 1865. My 3 x great uncle, Thomas Reynolds, made the newspapers in a bastardy case, which wasn’t proved. Maybe it was coincidence, but after this incident he married two other Mary’s, in 1867 and 1875.
The perfect job for the dentophobic.
Byline Times intends to publish Byline Wales. Very excited to be in discussions with their editor about playing a role.
29 May 1858. Some things are timeless. The issue of vaccination.
Smallpox was a common killer in nineteenth century Britain. It spread rapidly and killed around 30% of those who contracted it and left many survivors blinded or scarred. In the 1850s, the government passed a series of laws that made vaccination against smallpox compulsory.
Mary Hopkin, born in 1818, my 3 x great grandmother, gave birth to five children: Thomas Reynolds born 1842, Margaret Howe born 1851, Hopkin Howe born 1853, William Howe born 1855, and Mary Ann Howe born 1858. However, only one of her offspring, my direct ancestor William, survived her.
Margaret Howe was born on 23 January 1851 in South Corneli, Glamorgan. Sadly, she died of ‘brain fever’ on 30 December 1853 in St Brides, Glamorgan. Through her husband, William, Mary had a number of relatives in St Brides, but it’s not clear why Margaret was there and why Mary wasn’t with her. Did Mary have the fever too and was too ill to look after her child? Whatever the reason for Mary’s absence, Margaret’s death was a deviating blow for the family.
Mary Ann was born on 20 June 1858 in South Corneli, Glamorgan. Like her mother, Mary, Mary Ann was a dressmaker. Amazingly, a letter written by Mary Ann in 1877 survives.
As well as sentimental value, the letter is interesting in that it is written in English by a native Welsh speaker, it mentions using the recently installed railway network and, more poignantly, Mary Ann states that she is well ‘at present’. Mary Ann endured poor health throughout her short life and died on 21 January 1886, aged twenty-seven.
South Corneli, October 3, 1877
I have taken the pleasure of writing these few lines to you in hopes to find you well as I am at present. Dear Cousin I could understand in Mary David’s letter the note you sent me that you was greatly offended to me and I don’t know the cause of you being so offended to me unless it is the cause of not sending your hat. The reason I did not send it because you told me you was coming to the tea party. You said that nothing would not keep you from not coming and I have not had no chance of sending it after unless I send it by train. Please write and let me know for what you are offended to me for. I am very uneasy ever since I did receive the note and I do think you don’t care much about me ever since you went away. I do only wish for you to write to me to tell me the reason by return.
So no more at present. From your cousin,
Mary Ann Howe
Mary Ann Howe died of ‘cardiac syncope’ or heart failure. Her brother, Hopkin, a Methodist Minister, was at her side. She died at Alexandria Road in Pontycymer, fourteen miles north of Corneli. What was she doing there?
In 1882, the people of Pontycymer built the Bethel Methodist Chapel (pictured) with modifications added in 1885. The design incorporated a Romanesque style with two storeys, a gable-entry plan and round-headed windows. It seems highly likely that Hopkin was visiting the chapel, accompanied by his sister, Mary Ann. Mary Ann fell ill and was taken around the corner to a house in Alexandria Road where she died.
Because of her letter, I feel close to Mary Ann as an ancestor and remain grateful for her words and the insight into her life.
My 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin, gave birth to Thomas Reynolds on 15 January 1842 in South Corneli, Glamorgan. Thomas’ father, also Thomas, died three years later.
In 1851, Thomas was living with his mother and stepfather, William Howe, and attending the local school. At nineteen he was a carter on a local farm, Morfa Mawr, and in 1867 he married Mary Rees who gave birth to a son, Edward, eighteen months later.
Mary died soon after the birth and while Thomas worked on a farm closer to his mother’s home, Edward lived with his grandmother.
Thomas married Mary Morgan on 15 May 1875 in their local church at Mawdlam. Three children arrived in four years: William 1876, Jenkin 1877 and Catherine 1880. Thomas was a railway packer at this time, living on Heol Las in North Corneli.
Mary died on 13 October 1886 and Thomas died five years later, on 11 March 1891. He was 49.
Thomas left a will bequeathing £79 7s 0d to his son Edward, the equivalent of two horses, eight cows or 242 days pay for a skilled tradesman.
For my 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin, now aged 72, this was a bitter blow, the loss of her third child. Sadly, more tragedy was to follow.
In regard to family life, Mary Hopkin’s second son, Hopkin Howe, followed a similar path to his half-brother, Thomas Reynolds.
Born on 16 June 1853 in South Corneli, Hopkin lived with his parents, siblings and cousin, Anne Price. Anne married David John, who joined them in the family home in South Corneli. This was a significant event for Hopkin because David John was a blacksmith and he taught him the skills of his trade.
In 1871, Hopkin was living with a Welsh family in Stockton, Durham while he plied his trade as a blacksmith. Stockton was the home of the railway and Hopkin’s skills were in great demand.
When Hopkin returned to Wales he changed career. He became a Methodist Minister. The chapel had always been central to the Howe family and it was Hopkin’s great ambition to become a minister. Having saved enough money to finance his training, Hopkin toured South Wales as a preacher of the gospel.
Hopkin married Elizabeth Jones in 1884. This event brought great pleasure and tragedy. Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth May Gwendoline Howe, on 27 November 1885, but died in childbirth. Deprived of her mother, baby Elizabeth died in infancy. One can only imagine how these events tested Hopkin’s faith.
Hopkin married again, Sarah Ann Jones, in December 1890 and he continued to tour South Wales preaching the gospel. However, he died four years later, of a lumber abscess, an infection in his spinal cord, on 19 February 1894. He left a will bequeathing £119 to Sarah Ann, the equivalent of a year’s wages.
My 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin, was 75 at this time. She still had her husband, William, at her side and her only surviving son, also William, lived with his family next door to her.
Marie-Madeleine Fourcade led the French Resistance during the Second World War. This exchange of messages with British Intelligence (MI6) explains how she assumed command.
N1 = Georges Loustaunau-Lacau, founder of Alliance, the French Resistance network.
POZ 55 = Marie-Madeleine Fourcade.
“N1 arrested this morning STOP Network intact STOP Everything continuing STOP Best postpone parachuting next moon STOP Confidence unshakable STOP Regards STOP POZ 55”
From MI6: “Who’s taking over?”
“I am STOP POZ 55”
The Second World War. Inside an Anderson shelter on Christmas Eve.
In this month’s bumper issue of our Amazon #1 ranked magazine…
A Celtic Christmas, stories, articles and gift ideas based on a Celtic theme. Plus seasonal features to entertain you during the festive season and all your regular favorites.
As ever, thank you for your interest and support.