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Dear Reader #110

Dear Reader,

A busy time with the translations. I have eighty books translated and ten in production: one in Afrikaans, one in French and eight in Portuguese. Thanks to my translators, it’s wonderful to see my books reaching an international audience.

The storyboard for Damaged, Sam Smith Mystery Series book nineteen, is nearly complete. The book will be published on 27 December 2021. Pre-order details to follow soon.

From the British Newspaper Archive, The Court Gazette and Fashionable Guide 27 March 1841, manslaughter at the age of 94.

James Inglett appeared in the 1841 census, living in Hemingford Grey workhouse where he died at the age of 98 in 1844.

– 0 –

Lambeth, c1860, a scene very familiar to the Noulton and Wheeler branches of my family.

My 4 x great grandfather James Richard Brereton was baptised on 22 December 1793 at St Dunstan in the West, London. His parents were Thomas Brereton and Sarah Wright of Shoe Lane, Fleet Street, London. 

The Brereton branch of my family originated in Cheshire and arrived in London in the mid-1700s through my 6 x great grandfather Sandford Brereton while the Wright branch of my family had their roots firmly in London.

James was the third born of nine children. In 1807 he became an apprentice cutler, learning the skills required for metalworking. Apprentices usually served a seven-year term and, as with James, commenced their learning at the age of fourteen.

The apprentice became an extra worker in the master’s household. He or she was subject to the absolute authority of the master and by the terms of their ‘indenture’ could not gamble, go to the theatre or a public house, play cards or dice, marry or fornicate. Little wonder that some of the apprentices ran away from their masters.

The indenture signed by James Brereton.

In 1814 James qualified as a cutler. He was unable to establish a business in London so he took to the road as a tinker, making and repairing pots and pans. Various documents also describe James as a metal beater and a gold beater. Obviously, he was adept at working with precious metals and forming them to match the needs of his clients.

On 17 May 1818 James married Ann Lowcock in Martock, Somerset. At the time, Martock, situated on the fringe of the Somerset Levels, was a large village with a regular market. Maybe James and Ann met at the market as he travelled from town to town, selling his wares.

All Saints’ Church, Martock. Picture: Wikipedia.

Ann was the youngest of ten children and her parents, Aaron Lowcock and Mary Ashelford, produced her late in their married lives. Ann was only seventeen at the time of her marriage. It is easy to understand her situation: her parents were elderly and she faced the prospect of being alone. James, the tinker, had a trade and that alone set him apart from the agricultural labourers in the village. For both parties, there was an obvious attraction in the match.

Based mainly in Bristol, in nineteen years James and Ann produced six children, a child born approximately every three years, whereas the standard for the time was a child born every two years. Their sixth child, Fanny, was my 3 x great grandmother. Sadly, James did not live to see Fanny’s birth. He died in the summer of 1837 while Fanny was born on 19 November 1837. 

A 19th century tinker. Photograph by Ignacy Krieger (1817-1889).

Retracing James’ footsteps, Fanny moved to London where she raised her family. She moved there with William Bick, a West Countryman. However, Fanny and William only married on 13 December 1868 when she was carrying his seventh child. Obviously, their relationship was not wholly dependent on their marriage vows.

A widow with a baby and young children to support Ann moved south to Portsmouth and Southampton where she stayed with relatives. It is interesting to note that Ann’s home life revolved around three major ports: Bristol, Portsmouth and Southampton, and the various employment opportunities these ports offered.

In Portsmouth, Ann met William Poole and the couple produced two children. At various times, they lived in the West Country and on the south coast as William travelled, selling his wares as a toy maker.

A widow again in 1870 Ann returned to the West Country where she spent the remainder of her days, passing away on 29 November 1882, aged eighty-one.

James died young and I wonder if working with metal, metal poisoning, was the cause of his death. A skilled man with a trade to call on he provided for his family and ensured that they lived above the poverty line.

As for Ann, she lived a long life for the time. She lost two husbands, and a child in infancy, a child called James. Sadly, this was expected in the Victorian era. Through necessity and choice she travelled throughout her married life. I wonder if her decision to marry James was tied in with a desire to break free of her rural surroundings and village life.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Bestselling psychological and historical mysteries from £0.99. Paperbacks, brand new in mint condition 🙂
https://hannah-howe.com/store/

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #107

Dear Reader,

Exciting translation news. Nelmari will translate my Sam Smith mystery series into Afrikaans. She will start work on Sam’s Song this week. The series will then be available in eleven languages 🙂

From LinkedIn and WikiTrees.

I have my ADGD under control today. I’m in the sixteenth century focusing on the Aubrey and Herbert branches of my family.

This week, I outlined Damaged, Sam Smith Mystery Series book nineteen. This book is set in Wales and France. Next week, I will work on the storyboard and when that is complete the book will be made available for pre-order.

Regent Street, London, May 1860 a familiar sight for my London ancestors.

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were periods of great religious conflict, which resulted in many people entering, and leaving, the Netherlands and the Low Counties. Antwerp witnessed an exodus of fifty percent while the city of Hondschoote saw a decline of 18,000 to 385 inhabitants. My 11 x great grandparents Jacob Quick (1547 – 1604) and Wilhelm Steenberg (1582–1613) joined this migration. 

At the turn of the sixteenth century, Jacob and Wilhelm arrived in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England. Apart from the quest for religious freedom, what drew them there? The answer could well be lead. For centuries the people of Wirksworth had relied on lead mining to make a living and by the 1600s lead had become as important to the national economy as wool. 

T’owd Man, Wirksworth. Image: Wikipedia.

Lead was vital for roofs, windows, water storage and piping. And, as the seventeenth century progressed, it became increasingly important for ammunition. In the mines, flooding was a problem. Therefore, in search of a solution, the locals turned to people who were experts at drainage and flood defences – the Dutch.

Jacob Quick and Wilhelm Steenburg settled into their new lives in Derbyshire. Jacob produced a son, Philip, born on 29 June 1597 in Bonsall, Derbyshire while Wilhelm produced a daughter, Rachel, born on 15 August 1602, also in Derbyshire. c1625, Philip married Rachel and in 1635 they produced my 9 x great grandmother Hannah Quick.

Although lead mining was hard and dangerous work at least the Quicks had the freedom to express themselves through their religion. Or so they thought. Then, in 1642 turmoil in the shape of the English Civil War, which raged until 1651.

Sir John Gell

Led by land and mine owner Sir John Gell, the people of Derbyshire sided with Parliament against the Royalists. A key Derbyshire battle was the Battle of Hopton Heath, which took place on Sunday 19 March 1643 between Parliamentarian forces led by Sir John Gell and Sir William Brereton (also an ancestor) and a Royalist force led by Spencer Compton, 2nd Earl of Northampton. 

After the battle, which involved 2,600 men, evenly divided on each side, both camps claimed victory. The Parliamentarians believed that they had won because they held the field at the end of the day and had killed the Royalist’s commander, the Earl of Northampton. The Royalists claimed victory because they had captured eight artillery pieces and reoccupied the field the next morning. In truth, the battle was typical of war – a bloody draw.

Steel engraving, Battle of Hopton Heath by George Cattermole.

Did Philip Quick participate in the battle? History does not record his involvement. However, he did die c1643, possibly in a battle or skirmish associated with the Civil War.

A widow, Rachel remained in Derbyshire with her daughters Hannah and Sarah. She died in 1676. Meanwhile, Hannah met and married a local man, George Wood, born 1625. Their marriage was recorded at a Quaker Meeting in Matlock, Derbyshire in 1658. 

The Quicks, religious migrants, had discovered Quakerism, the new religion that was sweeping through England. However, George and Hannah’s beliefs would lead to more migration and a new home in America. More about that next time.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Bestselling psychological and historical mysteries from £0.99. Paperbacks, brand new in mint condition 🙂
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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #99

Dear Reader,

On 15 May 2021 we will publish Stormy Weather, book eighteen in my Sam Smith Mystery Series. Meanwhile, I’m working on Damaged, book nineteen in the series. We will publish this book in the autumn. Meanwhile, here’s the cover.

Chester, 1590, den of iniquity.

The Brereton’s are on my family tree. One generation were involved in a murder plot and an attempt to alter a will. The case reached the Star Chamber.

My latest translations, Ann’s War: Victory in Afrikaans and Eve’s War: Operation Broadsword in Portuguese.

The May 2021 issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads.

In this month’s issue…

Am I a Real Mum?

The Benefits of Journaling

International Nurses Day

Discovering Your Eighteenth Century Ancestors 

Things to Celebrate in May

Plus, travel, photography, puzzles, poems, short stories and so much more!

Colourised image of Fleet Street, London, 1888.

Just discovered that my 5 x great grandfather James Noulton served in the Napoleonic Wars, receiving a decoration in 1811 for his participation in the Invasion of Java.

Picture: A plan of the Cornelia, 1808, one of the two ships James Noulton served on.

More about James in future posts.

My 2 x great grandfather Albert Charles Bick was born on 3 September 1879 in Battersea, Surrey, the youngest of William Bick and Fanny Brereton’s eleven children.

William and Fanny moved to Battersea from Gloucestershire. The family also had connections in Hampshire and over several generations moved between these counties. William was a labourer so money for the family was always tight.

Albert started school at a young age, three. He attended Sleaford Street School, one of the new board schools created to give working class children an education.

Albert at school

After school, Albert found a job as a car man at the coal wharf, transporting coal on a horse and cart. He was still in this form of employment when he married Annie Noulton on 22 March 1902 in Lambeth, London. In thirteen years the couple had seven children.

In 1911, Albert was still a car man, now working at Doulton’s Pipe Works in Lambeth. The birth records of Albert and Annie’s children reveal that he worked as a car man throughout his married life. On 7 April 1911 there was a mass baptism when four Bick children from various strands of the family were baptised.

When the First World War broke out in 1914 Albert and Annie had six children with another on the way. During the summer of 1915, after the birth of his seventh child, Albert volunteered to serve in the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. Why did he volunteer? 

Albert’s brothers William, John and Frederick also volunteered, Frederick for the Red Cross. It would appear that the brothers volunteered together, and that it was a family decision. In 1911, the  family baptised four children together, so obviously they were a tight-knit family. By this time, the war had been raging for a year so unlike the first wave of volunteers who set off with naive optimism, the Bicks volunteered in the knowledge that they were entering hell.

The hell Albert entered had a name, the Battle of Loos. He departed for France on 31 August 1915 and engaged in the battle less than a month later, on 25 September 1915. 

The Battle of Loos was the biggest British attack of 1915, and the first time that the British used poisoned gas. The plan was for the French and British forces to break through the German defences in Artois and Champagne, and disrupt the pattern of trench warfare. 

At a conference on 6 September 1915 British commander Douglas Haig suggested that the extensive use of chlorine gas might facilitate an advance as long as the French and British were able to keep the attack secret.

Royal Engineers dug under no-man’s-land and planted mines under the parapets of the German front line trenches, ready to be detonated at zero hour.

Insufficient ammunition hampered the initial bombardment. Also, the British commanders did not fully appreciate the defensive formation of the German machine guns.

Prior to the attack, the British released 140 long tons of chlorine gas. The wind favoured no side and the gas affected both British and German troops.

British infantry advancing at Loos 25 September 1915

The gas masks were inefficient so many soldiers removed them to obtain clear vision and, ironically, to catch their breath. At 6.30 am on 25 September 1915 Albert engaged in battle, charging across open ground, the air full of gas and bullets.

In many places the British artillery had failed to cut the German barbed wire before the attack. Furthermore, the engineers manning the poison gas cylinders warned against their use, because of the unpredictability of the wind. However, they were overruled by General Sir Hubert Gough. 

As the battle developed, the gas claimed more British than German casualties. Despite that disaster, the British did capture the village of Loos-en-Gohelle. Bad planning meant that the breakthrough could not be exploited. A contemporary account stated, ‘From what I can ascertain, some of the divisions did actually reach the enemy’s trenches, for their bodies can now be seen on the barbed wire.’

Major-General Richard Hilton, a Forward Observation Officer, said of the battle, ‘A great deal of nonsense has been written about Loos. The real tragedy of that battle was its nearness to complete success. Most of us who reached the crest of Hill 70, and survived, were firmly convinced that we had broken through on that Sunday, 26 September 1915. There seemed to be nothing ahead of us, but an unoccupied and incomplete trench system. The only two things that prevented our advancing into the suburbs of Lens were, firstly, the exhaustion of the “Jocks” themselves (for they had undergone a bellyfull of marching and fighting that day) and, secondly, the flanking fire of numerous German machine-guns, which swept that bare hill from some factory buildings in Cite St. Auguste to the south of us. All that we needed was more artillery ammunition to blast those clearly-located machine-guns, plus some fresh infantry to take over from the weary and depleted “Jocks.” But, alas, neither ammunition nor reinforcements were immediately available, and the great opportunity passed.’

Twelve attacking battalions suffered 8,000 casualties out of 10,000 men in four hours. In total, the British suffered 48,367 casualties in the main attack and 10,880 more in the second attack, a total of 59,247 losses, a high percentage of the 285,107 British casualties on the Western Front in 1915. Though Haig and Gough were culpable for this disaster, they escaped much of the blame. 

Albert Charles Bick died at Loos on 25 September 1915, whether through gas poisoning, a machine gun bullet or a mortar bomb is not known, for his body was not recovered. In the official files he is listed as ‘presumed dead’.

Annie received a widow’s pension. She did not remarry and died in 1963. Her eldest daughter and my direct ancestor, also Annie, survived her. As a child, I met daughter Annie several times during her later years, although I was too young to appreciate what the family had been through.

Loos War Memorial

The poet Robert Graves featured in the Battle of Loos and wrote about his experiences in Goodbye to All That while the Loos Memorial commemorates over 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who fell in the battle and have no known grave, including Albert Charles Bick.

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 #71

Dear Reader,

I made great progress this week with the writing of Branches, book two in The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War saga, and the editing of Operation Broadsword is nearly complete. My thoughts are turning to Operation Treasure, book four in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, and Stormy Weather, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eighteen, a novel about climate change.

Met some friends on the Bwlch this morning.

My latest translation, available soon, Invasion in Afrikaans. Also, delighted that Nelmari has agreed to translate Blackmail, book three in my Ann’s War series.

‘Potato’ Jones, captain of the cargo steamer Marie Llewellyn. During the Spanish Civil War, ‘Potato’ Jones ferried 800 refugees to safety. In total Welsh sea captains ferried 25,000 refugees to safety.

He also delivered fuel, food, medicines, guns and ammunition to the anti-fascists in Spain, breaking the blockade at Bilbao.

Cardiff International Brigade veteran Tom Williams: “The fight for democracy in Europe is carried on by the British ships carrying predominantly Welsh crews, and we are known on the continent as the ‘Welsh Navy’.”

Eve is back at #1 🙂

Merthyr Mawr this week

It’s a simple job, they said. We want you to wander down to Maddox Street and Conduit Street in Mayfair and attach the main telephone cable to a new support wire…

I’m reading George Orwell at the moment, his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. Very lyrical and insightful.

Meanwhile, no irony here…

With Joana and Sandra, started work on two new translations today, Mind Games, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eleven, into Portuguese and Operation Locksmith, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE book two, into German. Great respect for translators and the talent they bring to these projects.

Hands up if you’ve said or heard these words 🙂

Responding to QI, the other followers said ‘I’d won Tweet of the Day’ and ‘I’d won the Internet’ with this comment 😂

Incidentally, I received well over 1,000 likes, which is easily a record for me.

I’ve completed Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, and now I’m looking forward to January 2021 and Operation Treasure, book four in the series, which is now available for pre-order.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08L9G7V4Z/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx