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Dear Reader #130

Dear Reader,

My latest translation by Nelmari, the Afrikaans version of Sam’s Song. Available soon 🙂

My latest genealogy article appears on page 48 of the Seaside News.

Another scene familiar to my London ancestors, High Street, Camden Town, c1890.

This week saw the longest game in World Chess Championship history, 136 moves. Eventually, Magnus Carlsen’s rook, knight and two pawns proved too strong for Ian Nepomniachtchi’s queen. Carlsen currently leads the fourteen game series 4 – 3.

Arranging our Christmas decorations with the usual suspects 🌲

I’ve traced the Gadsden branch of my family back to 1086 and the Doomsday Book. At that time the name was recorded as Gatesdene. The family were living in Hertfordshire. Maybe they arrived with William the Conqueror, or shortly after. That said some sources suggest that the name Gadsden has English origins relating to ‘valley’.

A page from the Doomsday Book

The early Gadsdens were well-to-do, landowners who relative to the times enjoyed comfortable lifestyles. For most branches of the family this pattern continued into the nineteenth century.

The Gadsdens mixed with the nobility and moved in royal circles. An example: John of Gadsden was a physician to Edward II and Edward III, the first Englishman to hold that appointment. John wrote a book, Rosa Anglica, the first English textbook on medicine, which compiled the medical knowledge of his age. 

It is believed that John of Gadsden was familiar with the method of distilling fresh water from saltwater. This process, desalination, was thought to be a modern discovery.

Some of John of Gadsden’s contemporaries regarded him as a genius, the ‘brightest man of his age’. He was a philosopher, a philologist, a poet, he was skilled at manual operations and bone-setting, and he was a great oculist. He was skilled at physiognomy and wrote a treatise on chiromancy. A great dealer in ‘secrets’, he also performed ‘miracles’.

John’s greatest skill was in concocting ‘receipts’, potions. However, some people doubted his wisdom and regarded him as a superstitious quack. His doubters accused him of ‘laying baits’ for the delicate, the ladies and the rich. 

When small pox afflicted Edward II’s son, the future Edward III, the king called for John of Gadsden. John’s ‘prescription’ was to dress his patient in scarlet and ensure that everything about the sickbed was made of scarlet. John worked on the ‘sympathetic’ concept, which stated that the colour red cured inflammation. Quackery or not, the king’s son duly recovered ‘without a mark on his face’.

John wrote his book, Rosa Anglica, while resident at Merton College, Oxford. The source of his material stemmed from the Arabians and the moderns ‘who had written in Latin just before him’. His book was an encyclopaedia of all his potions and it offers an insight into the medical practices of the day, as applied to the nobility and common people.

The preface to Rosa Anglica

John wrote ‘Rosa Anglica, or Practical Medicine From Head to Foot’, between 1304 and 1317. His book contained four tracts on urine (a key to medieval medical diagnosis and treatment). The original manuscript was owned by All Souls College, Oxford, a leading centre of medical studies in Europe during the fifteenth century.

In his preface to ‘Rosa Anglica’ John wrote, ‘Just as the rose excels among flowers this book excels among textbooks on practical medicine.’ Clearly, he didn’t suffer from undue modesty.

John found time to be prebendary of St Paul’s. He also held theological posts at Chipping Norton and Chichester. Chaucer knew of him and mentioned him as the ‘Doctor of Physik’.

So, was John of Gadsden a genius or a quack? I suspect that he was a bit of both. Here’s an example of his quackery, a cure for toothache. John recommended that you should extract a tooth by smothering it with the fat from a dead green tree frog, cow dung or partridge brain. For the tooth to grow back, you should apply the brain of a hare to the gums. Clearly, this was nonsense and liable to do more harm than good. Yet, editions of his book were published in 1502 and 1595, and for centuries read throughout Europe.

A dentist with silver forceps and a necklace of large teeth, extracting a tooth c1365.

Many of John’s methods were based on superstition while others were crude. However, whether through luck or good judgment he formed a formidable reputation. 

John was a man of his time. Thankfully, over the centuries we have made advances in medicine. But we should also consider that future generations will look back on us and reckon that some of our methods were based on quackery and that they were crude.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #129

Dear Reader,

Nelmari has completed the translation of Sam’s Song, book one in my Sam Smith Mystery Series, into Afrikaans and I’m delighted to say that soon she will make a start on Love and Bullets, book two in the series.

After the tragic events of this week.

A scene familiar to my London ancestors, Victoria Station in 1912.

The World Chess Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi started this week. I’m a big chess fan so I’m enjoying the coverage on chess.com. Two exciting draws so far. All to play for in the fourteen game series.

https://www.chess.com/news/view/2021-fide-world-chess-championship-game-1-nepomniachtchi-carlsen

The son of Edward Stradling and Joan Beaufort, Sir Henry (Harry) Stradling was born c1412 in St. Donats, Glamorgan. He married Elizabeth Herbert c1440 in St. Athan, Glamorgan, their marriage uniting the powerful Stradling and Herbert families. The marriage produced four children: Thomas, my direct ancestor, Charles, Elizabeth and Jane. 

In 1449, Henry, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Elizabeth, encountered a Breton pirate, Colyn Dolphyn. A native of Brittany, Colyn Dolphyn was based on Lundy, an island in the Bristol Channel. Five kilometres long and a kilometre wide Lundy was granted by Henry II to the Knights Templars in 1160. Over following centuries privateers took control of the island.

Map of Lundy Island by Henry Mangles Denham (1832)

Because of the dangerous shingle banks and the fast flowing River Severn with its tidal range of 8.2 metres, the second largest in the world, ships were forced to navigate close to Lundy. This meant the island was ideally situated for pirates to prey on merchant ships and their rich cargos.

The chroniclers described Colyn Dolphyn as a tall, athletic, and mighty man, ‘like Saul in Israel’. He ‘towered head and shoulders’ above all men and was regarded as ‘a terror in South Wales’.

In 1449, Henry and his family spent a month visiting their estates in Somerset. Whenever possible, for passengers and trade, ships were the preferred mode of transport because the roads were often nothing more than dirt tracks. Therefore, Henry made the return journey by ship.

Aboard the St Barbe, Henry, his family and crew, set sail from Minehead for the Welsh coast. They encountered Colyn Dolphyn, who transferred them to his barque, the Sea Swallow. Dolphyn demanded a ransom of 1,000 marks for Henry, Elizabeth and daughter Elizabeth’s release. 

The ransom was not forthcoming so over a period of two years the price went up to 2,200 marks. At that point the Stradlings were forced to sell their manors of Bassaleg and Rogerstone in South Wales, two manors in Oxfordshire and the Lordship of Sutton in Monmouthshire. With the ransom paid, Dolphyn released Henry and his family.

Nash Point (Wikipedia)

While the coast of South Wales is beautiful it also contains some treacherous rocks, particularly the rocks off Nash Point, Glamorgan. Several years after kidnapping the Stradlings, Colyn Dolphyn was out pirating when a storm blew up. That storm drove his ship on to Nash Rocks near Colhugh Beach. 

The locals alerted Sir Henry Stradling who raised his men. They captured Colyn Dolphyn and his men, and dispensing swift justice hung them the following day.

In 1837, Taliesin Williams wrote a poem, The Doom of Colyn Dolphyn, which concluded with the following lines:

The beach they trod, destruction there,

Had stamped his footsteps ev’ry where.

Above, below, were strown along,

The fragments of a vessel strong.

Here helm and shatter’d masts were seen,

There lay the hull, the rocks between, 

With upward keel and crag-rent side. 

Thro’ which had pass’d the refluent tide.

And, all around, appear’d in view,

The bodies of a numerous crew. 

Whose course was run, confederates sent,

Well armed on Colyn’s rescue bent. 

But, ere they reach’d the rugged strand,

To ply the dirk, and light the brand. 

Justice ordain’d they should abide,

The tempest’s ordeal, and they died!

The story of the Stradling branch of my family and their encounter with a pirate Colyn Dolphyn as illustrated, animated and told by the children of Wick and Marcross Primary School, South Wales.

Like his father, Edward, Henry Stradling visited Jerusalem, in 1475, where he became a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. Also like his father, he died on his journey home, at Famagusta, Cyprus, in 1476.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 32 occasions.

A special offer from my publisher and the Fussy Librarian. https://authors.thefussylibrarian.com/?ref=goylake

Don’t forget to use the code goylake20 to claim your discount 🙂

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Dear Reader

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