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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #97

Dear Reader,

My home overlooks Margam Park and I just discovered that my 15 x great grandfather Sir Rice (Rhys) Mansell bought the park, and Margam Abbey, when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1536. Sir Rice demolished the monastery and built Margam House, pictured. 

This line dates back to Philip Mansell, born 1040 in Normandy. Philip was cup bearer to William the Conqueror, a highly responsible position. Philip served William his wine and made sure it wasn’t poisoned.

View of Margam House, Glamorgan, Looking North, c.1700 Attributed to Thomas Smith (fl.1680s-1719)

Oil on canvas

A baptismal record for my 4 x great grandmother Ann Locock has led to sixteen new branches on my family tree. My DNA revealed Dutch ancestors and one of these branches is Dutch, a family from Amsterdam. My 8 x great grandfather, Melgior Rosewel, worked for the Dutch East India Company, which offers scope for a lot more research.

My direct ancestor Sir John Mansell, 1188 – 1264, was a busy man.

  • Privy Counsellor 
  • Constable of Dover Castle, pictured (Wikipedia)
  • Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
  • Lord of the manor in Berkshire, Suffolk, Sussex, Lancashire, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Kent
  • Cup Bearer to Henry III
  • Founder of a priory in Bilsington
  • Provost of Beverley
  • Treasurer of York
  • Lord Justiciary of England
  • Member of the Council of Fifteen
  • Constable of the Tower of London
  • Chancellor to Henry III
  • England’s first Secretary of State

I think I inherited my multi-tasking from him 😉

An article about Sir John Mansell will follow in a future post.

From my research, a lobby card for The City That Never Sleeps, a 1924 silent movie directed by James Cruze.

Many thanks to everyone who has placed my forthcoming Eve’s War story, Operation Sherlock, at #32 on the Hot New Releases chart.

One of modern life’s great imponderables…

I never expected to discover ancestors in Kiev, so I double-checked this line and established that it is correct. 

This is an image of my direct ancestor Olga ‘the beauty’ a Pskov woman of Varangian extraction who married Igor of Kiev. After Igor’s death, she ruled Kievan Rus as regent, c945-963, for their son, Svyatoslav.

Only joking 😉

I’ve traced the Preston branch of my family tree back to Leolphus de Preston, who lived during the reign of William the Lion of Scotland, floruit 1165 – 1214. 

Leolphus’ son, also Leolphus, made donations to Newbattle Abbey while his grandson, William de Preston, was one of the twenty-four Scottish nobles chosen by Edward I of England to arbitrate between John Balliol and Robert the Bruce, the main disputants for the crown of Scotland after the death of Margaret Maid of Norway, Queen of Scots.

The nobles met on 3 June 1291 to debate the succession. Debates and adjournments continued until 14 October 1292 when William de Preston and his fellow nobles decided that ‘succession by one degree from the eldest sister was preferable to succession nearer in degree from the second.’

Thus informed, on 17 November 1292 Edward I decided in favour of Balliol who ruled for four years, mainly as Edward I puppet. In 1296 the Scottish nobility deposed Balliol and appointed a Council of Twelve to rule instead. In retaliation, Edward I invaded Scotland, triggering the Wars of Scottish Independence.

Meanwhile, William de Preston’s role of arbiter set a family trend, which resulted in later generations of arbiters and judges.

John Balliol, his crown and sceptre symbolically broken, as depicted in the 1562 Forman Armorial, produced for Mary Queen of Scots.

Sir William’s son, Nichol de Preston, was one of the Scottish barons who signed the Ragman Roll in 1296, swearing his allegiance to Edward I.

The Preston line continued with Laurence and his son, Richard. With these generations the Prestons moved south, into Northern England where they owned vast estates in Westmorland, founding the towns of Preston Richard and Preston Patrick.

More Richards followed: Sir Richard Preston, his son Richard, and his son Sir Richard. The latter was called as one of the jurors to settle a dispute between the King of England and the Abbot of St Mary convent, Yorkshire. The dispute centred on the rights to make appointments to the two churches at Appleby. 

Yet another Richard followed and he married Annabella. They produced a son – you’ve guessed it – Richard, later knighted. Sir Richard represented Westmorland in Edward III’s parliament in the mid-1300s, the height of chivalry.

During Edward III’s reign membership of the English baronage was restricted to those who received a personal summons to parliament. At this point parliament developed into a House of Lords and a House of Commons, with the Commons gaining the ascendancy, thus marking a watershed in English political history.

Parliament, 13th century.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #83

Dear Reader,

Many thanks to my loyal readers for their pre-orders and for placing Stormy Weather, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eighteen, on the Hot 💯 chart.

Delighted to announce that my Ann’s War series will be translated into French 🙂

More translation news. We started work on two new translations this week both in Spanish: The Devil and Ms Devlin, Sam Smith Mystery Series book fifteen and The Olive Tree: Branches, book two in my Spanish Civil War saga. Many thanks to all my translators for their contributions to our translation projects.

Mom’s Favorite Reads

Happy New Year to All Our Readers!

In our New Year issue…

Surviving the Stone Age

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

Nicolas Winton – The British Schindler 

Meditation

National Hat Day

Stories, Puzzles, Recipes, Humour, Poetry, International Bestsellers and so much more…

20 February 1927, the wedding of Louisa and John, my grand aunt and uncle.

The French Grand Prix, 1906.

Marseille, the setting for my Heroine’s of SOE story, Eve’s War: Operation Zigzag, drawn in 1886.

A Roll of Honour produced by the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company in recognition of company officials who served in the First World War.

Ancestry

Three letters from Ken Howe (born 13.3.1919 in Corneli, the son of Billy Howe and Gwendolyne Thomas). In 1940 when the call came Ken responded to the threat of fascism and joined the Queen’s Own Hussars. His letters offer an insight into life at the front and here is the first of them.

30.9.1940

Dear Sis (Priscilla) Handel (brother-in-law) and Clive (nephew),

Thanks for your letter, which I received this morning. Glad to here that you are all okay, as I am. I have just come from dinner, which wasn’t so hot, and after reading about that rabbit my mouth is watering.

Jerry was around here (Newmarket) last night dropping his eggs, but far enough from us. As long as he keeps that distance I’ll be quite satisfied. I was in Newmarket last night with one of the boys from our tent and we spent most of our time in a church canteen reading and talking and it was a pleasant evening, what with free tea and cake. We were issued with a suit of denim last week, the stuff that the Home Guards use, and we use it for our work. We look like Home Guards walking around our camp. There has been talk of us moving this week, but I don’t know if it is right or not.

It is getting cold in the night time now, and I woke last night with my feet like lumps of ice. I think I will have to get a hot-water bottle sez me. We have been on wireless training this morning and I was nearly sleeping on my feet. We are going out in tanks this afternoon, messing about.

I had a letter from Aunt Edie yesterday, and she said she hoped to see me on my next leave, remember the 48 hours.

Joan (sister) sent me some fruit and biscuits in her parcel and I’ve been doing alright the last two days. Well old girl this is about all the news this time so I will sign off. Give my regards to the sergeant (his father?).

Till the next time, love to all,

Ken

Here is the second letter written by Ken Howe of the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars. Undated, 1940.

We have been cleaning this place out today. We will be a long way from here (Newmarket) by Saturday. Well, Sis, I’m not feeling too good about leaving the old country. It’s been a lovely autumn day, with the sun out, and it brings back memories of South Cornelly, and walks in the moonlight with the boys. It will be a new experience like when I was called up, and I expect I shall get used to it.

Ken Howe’s third letter, 9.2.1941, Middle East Forces

Dear Sis, Handel and Clive,

Just a few lines to say how we are getting on here. We are doing alright so far, and we haven’t got much to grumble at. Elwyn and myself were in Cairo a few days ago on leave, and we had quite a good time there. It isn’t as modern as I thought it would be, and in the native quarters how it smells. We stayed at the barracks there and it cost us nothing, though the money doesn’t half go. I ordered two cushion covers from one of the shops, with our badge on it. They make them and post them duty free for the troops. I’m afraid it will take a long time before you have them, one for you and Joan.

While in Cairo we met a few of our boys who were in our squad in Catterick and we hadn’t seen them for months, and in one of the clubs for our troops I met a chap named Thomas. He owns the Swan in Nottage and he knows Handel and Roy Edwards well. Surprising how small the world is, eh. We went to see the pyramids and Sphinx and other sites.

We both played football yesterday afternoon for the squadron and had our snaps taken by one of the boys, so I’ll send you some on when they are developed. We have had a few sandstorms and boy is there a mess. There’s sand in your nose, eyes, everywhere, and they blow for hours. Well old girl I’m afraid this is all for now. Hoping you are all in the best of health as I am. Cheerio for the present.

Love to all,

Ken

The cushion covers, made of black velvet, were sent to Priscilla and Joan with the message ‘To Sis All My Love Ken’ embroidered on them.

In March 1941 the Queen’s Own Hussars were mobilised to Crete and then to mainland Greece in the forces gathered together at short notice to defend Greece. Sadly, Ken was killed in action on the 23.4.1941, the day the Greek forces surrendered to the Axis. He was twenty-two years old.

The Greek campaign ended with a complete German and Italian victory. In many respects it was a ‘pointless’ campaign for the British because they did not have the military resources to carry out big simultaneous operations in North Africa and the Balkans. Even if they had been able to block the Axis advance, a counter-thrust across the Balkans was impossible.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #65

Dear Reader,

My latest audiobook, available soon 🙂

The Rance in Dinan. Eve was in Dinan this week, in Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War series. She is trying to get rid of a million francs, which is proving surprisingly difficult.

The print copies of Operation Locksmith have arrived 🙂

Café Society, Paris 1925.

I’m eclectic. Which one are you?

My latest translation, the German version of Operation Zigzag, book one in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Great to see that readers in Germany are also downloading the English version.

The streets of London, 1930. The car on the right is a Burney, made by Streamline Cars Ltd and designed by Dennis Burney in 1927.

A walk through the woods this week, Craig yr Aber, Glamorgan.

First Officer Maureen Dunlop was a ferry pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary. The women of the ATA transported newly manufactured aircraft from factories to aerodromes throughout Britain. She was trained to fly 38 types of aircraft, including Spitfires, Mustangs, Typhoons and bombers.

Four ‘It Girls’ dressed for an evening out, 1927.

I’m a Surrealist. How about you?

Excited to see that Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, is ranked #32 as a hot new release. The book will be published in November 🙂

Heroines of the SOE

Anne-Marie Walters 

On 21 June 1944, 2,000 Nazi soldiers attacked a pocket of the French Resistance. During the battle, Anne-Marie distributed hand-grenades and buried incriminating documents in a cave under a church. She also collected SOE money and took it with her as the Resistance withdrew from the village. 

Read Anne-Marie’s remarkable story here 👇

https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/anne-marie-walters/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Ann's War Sam Smith Mystery Series Sam Smith Private Eye Saving Grace

Snow and Sales

This week saw a record-breaking mid-week sales day for my books. The Big Chill topped my personal chart, maybe because of the snow that fell recently.  Incidently, in this picture the book under The Big Chill was written by Howard Marks who hails from the village next door to me. I’m also pleased to report that Mariel is making good progress with the translation of Sam’s Song into Spanish. More news of that in future posts.

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Invasion, Ann’s War Mystery Series book two, is now available as an audio book from iBooks, Audible and Amazon. In partnership with my narrator, Suzan Lynn Lorraine, this is my tenth audio book. More will follow, including Smoke and Mirrors, Sam Smith Mystery Series book nine; Blackmail, Ann’s War book three; and Saving Grace. The paperback copies of Invasion arrived from the printer this week and are now available from my Store.

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Pictured, Helena Normanton. In the 1920s, Helena Normanton was one of the first women to practice law as a barrister in Britain. I’m working on an idea to create a mini-series about a female barrister set in the 1920s. I had in mind two support characters and while writing this a third character, her brother, has suggested himself.

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The editing of Saving Grace is going well. For me, the editing process is about polishing the words. I storyboard everything before I write the story, therefore when I edit I never alter the plotline.

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In the coming months I will be publishing an eMagazine, called Mystery. If you would like to follow progress and receive a free copy of the magazine please like my Facebook Page

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In case you missed it, here is my second mini mystery for the Seaside News.

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 More news next time. As ever, thanks for your interest and support.