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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #91

Dear Reader,

My Top Ten Sales Countries in February.

In total, my eBooks were downloaded in 29 countries during February. Very exciting to see such diversity and grateful that I decided to publish wide and not limit myself to Amazon.

Through Smashwords

America 🇺🇸 Canada 🇨🇦 Australia 🇦🇺 Bulgaria 🇧🇬 Britain 🇬🇧 Japan 🇯🇵 Spain 🇪🇸 New Zealand 🇳🇿 Germany 🇩🇪 Italy 🇮🇹

Through Gardners

America 🇺🇸 Canada 🇨🇦 South Africa 🇿🇦 India 🇮🇳 Britain 🇬🇧 Netherlands 🇳🇱 Indonesia 🇮🇩 Malaysia 🇲🇾 Vietnam 🇻🇳 Venezuela 🇻🇪

Through Amazon

America 🇺🇸 Britain 🇬🇧 Canada 🇨🇦 Australia 🇦🇺 Germany 🇩🇪 Mexico 🇲🇽 Spain 🇪🇸 Brazil 🇧🇷 France 🇫🇷 India 🇮🇳

My latest translation, the Spanish version of The Olive Tree: Branches. Leaves, book three in my Spanish Civil War saga will be available in numerous languages in the summer.

Kenfig Pool sand dunes this week. And Mawdlam church, which overlooks the dunes, the final resting place for many of my ancestors.

Included in this month’s Seaside News, my article about SOE heroine Peggy Knight. In her 100th year, this remarkable woman now lives in New Zealand.

Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine March 2021. Our spring issue.

In this issue…

A seasonal blend of articles including Mad as a March Hare, Dr Seuss, Reiki, World Wildlife Day, International Day of Forests, plus short stories, recipes, puzzles, humour, photographs and so much more!

Sheep took over the sand dunes this week 🐑 🐑 🐑

My 4 x great grandfather, Richard Morgan, was baptised on 2 December 1792 in Llantrisant, Glamorgan. The ninth of twelve children born to James Morgan and Hannah David, Richard established himself as an ostler tending the coaching horses that travelled through Glamorgan, transporting people and goods from Ireland to London, and vice-versa.

‘Ostler at Margam 1818’ by George Orleans Delamotte

At the relatively advanced age of 43, Richard married Margaret Jones in St James’ Church, Pyle. Born in 1811 to John and Mary, Margaret hailed from Pyle, a rural village that contained the main highway in Glamorgan.

During my research, I wondered what persuaded Richard to travel twenty miles west to settle in Pyle. Then, I hit upon a theory. As an ostler, he moved there to work at Pyle Coaching Inn, the main Inn on the main highway. Then, while researching the births of Richard and Margaret’s children, I discovered that Richard was listed as a horse keeper at Pyle Coaching Inn, and living in nearby Cefn Cribwr, or Tythegston Higher as it was also called. It’s lovely when your theories are confirmed in that fashion.

Mail deliveries had become available to the public in 1635 and the introduction of national mail coaches in 1785 further increased the traffic travelling along the highways. The ongoing war with France meant that the gentry could no longer take the ‘grand tour’ of Europe and so they looked around for alternatives, their eyes and minds soon focusing on Wales with its romantic landscapes and medieval ruins. All of this led to the building of Pyle Coaching Inn during the 1780s by Thomas Mansel Talbot of Margam.

Thomas Mansel Talbot took a private apartment at the Inn and he would stay there while indulging in his passion for hunting and fishing. He had built the Inn in the fashionable Georgian style with three floors and rooms of various sizes. The largest room was five metres by four and a half metres, and the building contained forty beds and twelve double-bedded rooms. Moreover, the Inn also boasted a spacious dining room and stables for eight coaching horses.

Many 18th and 19th century antiquarians who travelled through South Wales would visit the buried medieval town at nearby Kenfig and invariably they would stay at the Inn. Also, it is rumoured that Admiral Lord Nelson resided there on one occasion. 

Pyle Coaching Inn, c1950

Isambard Kingdom Brunel did stay at the Inn in 1849 – 50 to oversee the construction of the South Wales leg of the Great Western Railway. Another distinguished guest was Josiah Wedgwood and it is said that he gained inspiration for some of his pottery from the colour of the rocks and pebbles on the beach at Pink Bay.

Richard and Margaret produced five children: Catherine, Thomas, Mary Ann, Richard and my direct ancestor, Hannah. With secure employment in a job that he clearly loved and in the green pastures and open spaces of Cefn Cribwr, life must have been good. Then, in the late 1840s, the railways arrived.

The railways took passenger and commercial trade away from the horse carriages and Richard lost his job at Pyle Coaching Inn. However, the family adapted. Richard became a colt breaker then a horse keeper. With his love and knowledge of horses, he worked with the animals for the rest of his life. 

Meanwhile, Margaret established her own ‘Inn’ boarding navigators who had travelled from their homes in Ireland to help construct the railways.

Residents of Pyle Coaching Inn in the early 1900s

Richard died in 1865 after a life well lived. By this time his children had married. After Richard’s death, Margaret moved to Mountain Ash to live with her son-in-law, John Davies, and help raise his children. Sadly, Margaret’s daughter, Mary Ann, had died and John was a widower.

I cannot leave this branch of my family without mentioning Margaret’s mother, Mary Jones. Born in 1765 in Carmarthen, she’d moved east with her husband, John, to work on the land. Mary lived with Richard and Margaret in later life. She had a strong constitution, which only failed on 19 January 1864 when she was ninety-nine years of age.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #90

Dear Reader,

Ideas for my Sam Smith mysteries usually appear a year or more before I write the stories. My latest idea in development, for book nineteen in the series, has an international flavour with characters from America, and France as the main setting. More news and pre-order details in future weeks.

My latest translation, Operation Zigzag in Portuguese. Available soon 🙂

A lovely find from 1839. Hannah Thorp, my 5 x great grandmother, in Pigot’s Directory as a straw hat maker 🙂

This picture, one of a series by George Orleans Delamotte, is titled ‘Ostler at Margam, 1818’. By coincidence, my 4 x great grandfather, Richard Morgan, was an ostler at Margam in 1818 🙂

An intriguing find, the union of my 8 x great grandparents, James Cottrell and Elizabeth Vincent, recorded in the Clandestine Marriage Register.

Another intriguing find from the Cottrell branch of my family, a Marriage Allegation and Bond signed by my 7 x great grandparents Daniel Cottrell and Mary Troutbeck on 9 October 1767.

Marriage Allegations and Bonds were signed by couples in a hurry or requiring privacy. Reasons included:

1. The bride was pregnant (in this case she wasn’t) or the groom was on leave from the Army or Navy.

2. The parties differed greatly in age, such as a widow marrying a much younger man or an old man marrying a young woman (not applicable here).

3. The parties differed in social standing, such as a master marrying a servant.

4. The parties differed in religion or did not attend the parish church because they were Nonconformists or Roman Catholics (this is the most likely reason for Daniel and Mary marrying in this fashion because the Cottrells were renowned nonconformists).

5. The parties were of full age but still faced family opposition to their marriage.

The Birth Certificate and the Blank Space

The youngest of seven children, my 2 x great grandmother, Margaret Jones, was born on 15 October 1871 in the village of Laleston, Glamorgan. Her parents, James and Margaret, had moved east from Carmarthen to Laleston to work on the land.

Initially, Margaret found employment as a maid. Then she married coal miner Thomas Jones (in Wales it’s very common for a number of intertwining branches to carry the surname Jones). The couple moved to North Corneli where Thomas worked in the nearby newly opened Newlands Colliery. The couple had ten children and family legend states that each week when the working members of her family returned home from the coal mines Margaret told them to place their wages on the living room table so that she could control the finances.

In many respects, Thomas and Margaret were a typical working class couple. However, Margaret harboured a secret. When she left Laleston to begin her family with Thomas, she left behind a son, Edward Robert Jones.

Throughout his childhood, Edward Robert Jones lived in Laleston with his aunt and uncle. Born before Thomas and Margaret married, it’s clear that Edward Robert was not Thomas’ son. So, who was his father? The mystery deepens because the space on Edward Robert’s birth certificate for his father’s name was left blank.

Margaret gave birth to Edward Robert out of wedlock, a scandalous thing for a woman to do in the Victorian era. Throughout my ancestry, I’ve discovered many pregnant brides and ‘shotgun weddings’. On every occasion, apart from this one, the father married the illegitimate child’s mother or at least acknowledged the child. 

As well as the psychological factor, it was important for the mother to identify the father so that she could receive maintenance for her child. The blank space on this birth certificate suggests that the father refused to acknowledge the child. That happened on occasion, but the mother could always challenge him. In Edward Robert’s case, the father remained anonymous. For what reason? Did he have something to hide?

The story, repeated throughout the generations, is that Margaret worked as a maid for John Picton Warlow in Laleston House, the ‘Big House’ in the village. That seems logical because in 1891 John Picton Warlow employed two housemaids along with a cook and a nurse. Furthermore, when Margaret moved to Corneli she named her home ‘Laleston House’.

Laleston House, Laleston

Everything points to the family stories being true – Margaret worked for John Picton Warlow as a maid in Laleston House. But who was John Picton Warlow?

The son of Captain Thomas Warlow of the Bengal Engineers and Mary Prudence Ord, John Picton Warlow was born on 6 November 1837 in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, British India. When John was two years old his father died and the family returned to Britain. 

As a teenager, in 1854 John joined the East India Company in Madras, India. A successful career involving regular international travel followed. This included spells in India, South Africa and Turkey. 

John married three times and fathered at least twelve children. In 1865, a year after the death of his first wife, Josephine, John suffered a breakdown while in India and returned to Britain where he stayed with his cousin, Miss Turbervill, at Ewenny Priory. The Turbervill’s have a long lineage in Glamorgan dating back to medieval times and they are, incidentally, my direct ancestors. 

Ewenny Priory, from ewennypriory.co.uk

In 1891, John inherited the Turbervill Estate of Ewenny Priory and changed his name to Picton-Turbervill. He served as High Sheriff of Glamorgan and as a Justice of the Peace. It’s often been recorded that privileged Victorians took advantage of their servants. Did John take advantage of Margaret?

During the time Margaret worked for John, he lost his second wife, Eleanor. However, by the time Margaret gave birth to Edward Robert, John had married his third wife, Caroline. Would a husband cheat on his new wife?

Margaret died in 1945 and the gossip within my family, amongst ancestors who knew her, suggests that Edward Robert’s father resided at Laleston House in Laleston. If John was not the father, is there another candidate? All the servants at the ‘Big House’ in Laleston were female, so that leaves John’s three of age sons, one of whom was named Robert…

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #89

Dear Reader,

Next week, I will complete the writing of Stormy Weather, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eighteen. I write my Sam Smith mysteries in ‘real time’ so the main decision was whether to include the pandemic. I realised early on that the nature of the pandemic and the government’s negligent response meant that the problem would remain with us for some time. Therefore, I decided to include the pandemic. The main theme of the story is the climate crisis so the pandemic and the way we abuse nature tied in with that theme. Stormy Weather is available for pre-order from all major Internet outlets.

Available soon, my latest translation, Escape in Afrikaans. We now have four books in this series published in Afrikaans while Nelmari is currently working on Victory, book five. It’s wonderful to see my books available in a number of languages, twelve at the latest count.

This week, I created the characters for Operation Sherlock, book five in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. This story is set in Paris and like all the stories in the series it’s based on true events. Character creation is my favourite part of the writing process. Once I’ve created the characters, I sit back and allow them to tell the stories. Operation Sherlock will be available for pre-order soon.

Meet the ancestors, my 29th great grandfather, Saunder de Sancto Alberico also know as Awbrey. He arrived with William the Conquerer (also a direct ancestor) in 1066. His son Sir Reginald Awbrey established a manor house and estate in Abercynrig, Brecon in 1093. The property, pictured, remained in the family until 1630.


One of my favourite pictures. This is a colourised image of Lamb Row, South Corneli. The original dates from 1905. During the Victorian era, Lamb Row was home to the Howe branch of my family. You can see their house on the top left of the picture. It’s possible that some of my ancestors are in this picture. The image is deceptive because every time you look at it you see a new person. How many people can you identify?

Property Developing, Freedom of the City and Carnal Knowledge 

Samuel Axe, my 5 x great grandfather, was born in Greenwich in April 1771, the son of William Axe and Ann. He was baptised on 14 April 1771 at St Alfege Church, Greenwich.

Samuel married Grace Austin (1786–1823) on 22 September 1803 at St Luke Old Street, Finsbury, London and the couple lived in Hoxton, Middlesex where they produced eight children, including my direct ancestor, Jane Esther Axe.

As a property owner, Samuel was eligible to vote and therefore appeared on the electoral registers, which confirm his address. 

Various documents describe Samuel’s occupation as ‘bricklayer’. In the first half of the nineteenth century a bricklayer was a builder, someone who designed and constructed houses. These houses could range from humble dwellings to huge city projects.

Colourised, Pitfield Street, Hoxton, London, 1896 – buildings built by Samuel? I love this image, it’s so full of life.

It would appear that all was not well with Samuel and Grace’s marriage because on 21 June 1816 Maria Hammont, single woman, petitioned the parish with the claim that ‘Samuel Axe, bricklayer of Hoxton Town gained carnal knowledge of her body.’ Maria gave birth to a bastard female on 12 May 1815 at her mother’s house in Hoxton Fields. The outcome of her petition was not recorded. However, Samuel was a wealthy man so hopefully he supported his child.

Samuel died on 26 November 1838 in Shoreditch, London and was buried on 2 December 1838. 

My direct ancestor, Jane Esther Axe, who lived in the same street as Samuel and Grace, was the sole executrix of Samuel’s will. Samuel left £600, approximately £40,000 in today’s money, which suggests he was successful in his trade.

On 17 January 1845 Samuel’s youngest son, John, paid £5 to acquire the ‘Benefits of a Fellowship Porter’. In other words, he could trade in ‘measurable goods’ such as coal, grain, flour and salt, overseeing their transportation from trading ships to dockside warehouses. This was a good position with the opportunity to make considerable sums of money.

The above records suggest that the Axe family lived in comfort during the first half of the nineteenth century. However, only five of Samuel’s eight children survived into adulthood.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #88

Dear Reader,

This week, I discovered that my direct ancestors John Dean and Joan Fuller emigrated to America. They arrived in Massachusetts in the 1630s, following Joan’s uncles, Edward and Samuel Fuller, who arrived as Founding Fathers on the Mayflower. More about this in future posts.

The Moon doing its Saturn impersonation.

A great week for my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, #1 in America, Australia, Britain and Canada. Many thanks to everyone who made this possible.

Merthyr Mawr this week.

For the man who has everything, Madame Dowding‘s Carlton corsets.

For Christmas, I received a DNA test kit to assist me with my family history research. The result arrived today.

I’m 52% Welsh
26% European, which includes Belgium, England, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland
19% Scottish, which in this case also includes Ireland and Brittany
3% Scandinavian, mainly Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden 

Some of my ancestors emigrated and settled in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and California.

The great thing about ancestry and DNA is that the DNA link enables you to identify ancestors who have escaped the written record, so I anticipate lots of new exciting discoveries 🙂

Breaking news: through DNA, I’ve discovered that my 9 x great grandfather, John ap Evan (John son of Evan) and his wife, Barbara Aubrey, established the Welsh Tract, pictured, in Pennsylvania. He arrived in America with his fellow Quakers in 1683.

A DNA map. My ancestors, 100 years after arriving in Pennsylvania. More about this in future posts.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #87

Dear Reader,

Starlings in duck formation.

This week, we published Operation Treasure and it’s always great when readers anticipate and enjoy your stories. A review from Amazon.

“Hanna Howe was a great treasure discovered in 2020, and she continues to deliver in 2021 with the Eve’s War series, in this #4 of an anticipated 12 volume set. A quick read novella, it continues the series intent to deliver stories of many female (and male) SOE agents operating in France during WWII, helping recruit, equip and train local resistance groups to sabotage Hitler’s war machine. While the characters are fictional, they and their actions are based upon real people and events. Howe is a gifted writer with many other books as well (most of which I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed) and I look forward with great anticipation to Eve’s War #5!”

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08L9G7V4Z/

Wales, Christmas Day, 2010.

Humphrey Llwyd’s ‘Cambriae Typus’ is the earliest printed map to show Wales as a separate nation. Published in 1573.

Found this while searching for my Gloucestershire ancestors. A sad note from 1733.

Theft from my ancestor, Thomas Thompson Dent. In 1842, Isabella Hutchinson, aged 22, stole oats from his field. Verdict: guilt, one month hard labour. Thomas was a wealthy man so I’m sure he could have spared those oats. However, Isabella was a serial offender. Three years earlier she was convicted for larceny and sentenced to three months in prison.

Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2021

In this month’s bumper issue…

Our Ever Changing Language, Short Stories, Mediation, Poetry, Nature, Humour, Bestsellers, Photography, Puzzles, Genealogy, Recipes and so much more!

On 1 January 2021, to my great surprise, I discovered that I was directly related to William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders.

William, also known as William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. 

William the Conqueror

In 1060, secure as Duke of Normandy, William plotted the Norman conquest of England, which culminated on 14 October 1066 in the Battle of Hastings and the defeat of Harold Godwinson.

William was the son of the unmarried Robert I, Duke of Normandy, by his mistress Herleva. His illegitimate status led to many struggles as he sought to establish his authority. Marriage to Matilda of Flanders, c1051, allowed him to consolidate his power in Normandy.

William’s genealogy

On his deathbed, Edward the Confessor, the childless King of England, named Harold Godwinson as his successor. However, William disputed this succession and with a large fleet sailed for England where he engaged Harold in battle.

Bayeux Tapestry. Scene 57: the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Titulus: HIC HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST (Here King Harold is slain).

After the Battle of Hastings, further military victories ensured that William was crowned king on Christmas Day, 1066, in London. In 1067, he made arrangements for the governance of England then returned to Normandy. 

Rebellions followed, all unsuccessful, and by 1075 William had established a secure hold on England, which allowed him to spend the majority of his reign in Europe.

In 1086, William ordered the compilation of the Doomsday Book, a survey listing all the land-holdings in England. This great administrative feat went unmatched until the compilation of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873.

William died in September 1087 while leading a campaign in northern France. He was buried in Caen.

Matilda of Flanders was Queen of England and Duchess of Normandy by marriage to William the Conqueror. She was the mother of nine children (some sources list ten) including two kings, William II and my direct ancestor Henry I.

Nineteenth-century depiction of Matilda in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris (Wikipedia).

In 1031, Matilda was born into the House of Flanders as the second daughter of Baldwin V of Flanders and Adela of France. Strategically placed, Flanders served as an important centre for European trade and political expansion.

As granddaughter of Robert II of France, Matilda boasted a greater lineage than William. Like many royal marriages of the period, their union breached the rules of consanguinity. She was about 20 when the marriage took place in 1051, while William was some four years older. 

The marriage appears to have been successful in that William is not recorded to have fathered any bastards. Matilda was about 35 and had already borne most of her children when William embarked on his conquest of England, sailing on his flagship, Mora, a gift from his wife.

The Bayeux Tapestry’s depiction of the Norman invasion fleet, with the Mora in front, marked by the papal banner on the masthead.

Matilda governed the Duchy of Normandy in her husband’s absence. Occasionally, she travelled to England, but spent most of her life in Normandy where she oversaw her children’s education. Indeed, Matilda’s children were unusually well educated for contemporary royalty with the boys tutored by Lanfranc, who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, while the girls learned Latin in Sainte-Trinité Abbey, Caen, an abbey founded by William and Matilda as part of the papal dispensation that allowed their marriage.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx