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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 #95

Dear Reader,

Nice to receive correspondence from readers who enjoy my books and wish to discuss the subject matter. My Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series has generated a lot of interest in that respect.

My DNA result indicated that my ancestors were in the Caribbean. Now, this record suggests that my 7 x great grandfather Edward King was baptised in St Michael Parish, Barbados on 6 October 1722, aged two. What were his parents, Thomas and Anne, doing in Barbados? Were they involved in the sugar plantations? More research required…

Sulham House, home to the Wilder branch of my family. The Wilders arrived in Britain during the second half of the fifteen century, possibly from Bohemia.

My latest translation, Stardust in Portuguese.

I’ve traced one branch of my family tree back to Lord Tancrède (Tancred) “the Viking” aka de la Ville Tancréde, born c880 in Schleswig-Holstein, Denmark. One of the foremost Vikings of his generation, Tancrède built a castle on a spur overlooking the Seine.

“Tancarville castle was the seat of one of the most powerful lineages of the Pays de Caux. This family, grand officers of the crown, were as mentioned, early landowners in the Lillebonne region. Infamous in Knightly accomplishments and during the ducal epoch, becoming that of the Hereditary Chamberlains of Normandy.” 

Tancarville Castle – le Château Fort de la Ville Tancrède

The April 2021 issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads!

In this month’s issue…

Do Pets Really Make You Healthy?

Memories of Ireland

Author Features

Escape to Simplicity 

Women of Courage 

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

My 6 x great grandfather Jasper Wheeler was born in 1745 in Westminster, London. He married Mary Cherien on 24 May 1773 and the couple had two children, including my direct ancestor, Thomas Wheeler.

At this stage, little is known about Mary. Further research is required. Her surname suggests French origin and the marriage and birth dates suggest that her son Thomas was born out of wedlock.

The scene of Jasper and Mary’s wedding, St George the Martyr, Queen Square, Holborn (Picture: Wikipedia).

Jasper earned a living as a pawnbroker in Kew Road, Richmond. He rented a property from Henry Edmead and his rent at 16 shillings was considerably higher than the eight other tenants who rented property from Henry Edmead.

Richmond contained areas of great poverty, although on the whole it was well-to-do. I sense that Jasper and Mary straddled these two worlds, living in modest comfort while dealing in the main with people who had little money.

Pawnbrokers, with their distinctive symbols of three golden balls, were integral to working class life in the 1800s. Their symbols were initially associated with St Nicholas who, according to legend, saved three young girls from destitution by loaning them each a bag of gold, paving their way towards marriage.

The Pawnbroker’s Shop, Harry Furniss, 1910.

Modern pawnbroking began with the Pawnbrokers Act of 1800. Lord Eldon, who promoted the Bill, admitted that he had used pawnshops in his youth. The Act increased the interest rate to 20 percent per year with licence fees set at £15 in London and £7 10 shillings in the countryside. Although sometimes associated with crime and stolen goods, a report in the Victorian era concluded that only one in 14,000 items were pawned dishonestly.

Often referred to as ‘Uncle’, quite often the pawnbroker was the difference between a regular meal and starvation. Indeed, some communities boasted more pawnbrokers than public houses, the pawnbroker lending money on anything from bedlinen to cutlery, from jewellery to furniture, from tools to the family’s Sunday best clothes.

With the workhouse an ever-present threat, pawning became acceptable, a way of life. Families, and pawnbrokers, recognised a regular pattern, centred on Saturdays and Mondays. A family, usually through the wife, would pledge its clothing on Monday then redeem it on Saturday, after pay day. Suitably dressed, the family would attend church on a Sunday, then resume the pawning cycle, the pawnbroker earning his living from the interest charged.

The Pawnbroker’s Shop, 1876. 

The entrance to a pawnbroker’s shop was usually via a side-street. In Sketches by Boz, Charles Dickens offered this description of a pawnshop near Drury Lane, ‘which affords a side entrance for the accommodation of such customers as may be desirous of avoiding the observation of the passers-by, or the chance of recognition in the public street’. The door, ‘half inviting, half repelling the hesitating visitor, who, if he be as yet uninitiated, examines one of the old garnet brooches in the window for a minute or two with affected eagerness, as if he contemplated making a purchase; and then cautiously looking round to ascertain that no one watches him, hastily slinks in…’

Although associated with the working class, a pawnbroker also received visits from the middle and upper classes in need of instant cash. Due to the sums involved, these clients offered the pawnbroker richer pickings and a chance to make sizeable profits from the transactions.

The pawnbroker was entitled to keep and sell items valued at under ten shillings once the redemption period of one year and seven days elapsed. Items valued at over ten shillings were sold at public auction.

No one described the scene better than Charles Dickens, ‘several sets of chessmen, two or three flutes, a few fiddles…some gaudily-bound prayer books and testaments, two rows of silver watches…numerous old-fashioned tables and tea spoons….cards of rings and brooches….cheap silver penholders and snuff-boxes…silk and cotton handkerchiefs, and wearing apparel of every description…’ 

Charles Dickens, 1868.

Did Jasper exploit the poor, or offer an essential service? He made a living from their poverty. However, he also placed food on their dining tables. With little support from the state, the pawnbroker was an essential member of the community.

Jasper’s Will – he died in late January 1812, aged 67, and was buried on 2 February – makes no mention of his wife Mary or his son Thomas. Instead, he bequeathed money to a widow, Elizabeth Tibbs, and her family. Was this bequest a business arrangement or the result of a romantic relationship? I suspect the latter. Given that Jasper and Mary only had two children it suggests that Mary died young. But what of Thomas?

Although there is no record of Jasper falling foul of the law, the Wheelers were regular visitors to the Old Bailey. More about that, and Thomas’ fate, in a future post.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #93

Dear Reader,

While searching for ancestors who witnessed the Great Fire of London – an ongoing search – I discovered that my 10 x great grandfather Benjamin Troutbeck served on the 100 gun warship HMS Sovereign of the Seas, later renamed The Royal Sovereign. 

While serving as a mariner on The Royal Sovereign, Benjamin participated in two major battles, the Battle of Beachy Head (1690) after which he made his will, and the Battle of La Hougue (1692). The ship went down in 1697, the year Benjamin died. Coincidence? More research required.

‘The true portrait of His Majesty’s royal ship the Sovereign of the Seas’, a contemporaneous engraving by J. Payne

A romantic headline. Meanwhile, some of the sub-headlines are relevant today, and grim.

‘Wealthiest Woman in England Marries Penniless Poet – the Romance of Modern Times.’ The engagement of heiress Annie Winifred Ellerman to American poet and athlete Robert L. McAlmon is announced, Nottingham Journal, 14 March 1921.

My latest translations, the Spanish and Portuguese versions of The Devil and Ms Devlin, Sam Smith Mystery Series book fifteen.

Whitby Market Place 1880 by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe.

Nancy Wheeler, my 3 x great grandmother, was born in 1857 in Lambeth, London the twelfth and youngest child of Henry Wheeler, and the fourth child of his second wife, Mary Ann Thorpe.

As a teenager, Nancy worked as a servant for James W Micklefield, a lighterman, and his young family. Lightermen transferred goods to and from ships on the River Thames.

In May 1873, aged sixteen, Nancy left James W Micklefield’s employment because she was six months pregnant. On 1 June 1873, she married the baby’s father, twenty-five year old James Noulton, in St Mary’s, Lambeth.

Along with the social stigma of giving birth to an illegitimate child, Annie would have faced practical considerations for herself and her baby, therefore whatever her romantic feelings towards James Noulton marriage to him would have appeared the best option. Although the parish would have granted Annie some relief, without James’ support circumstances might have forced her to place the baby in a foundling hospital.

Illegitimacy in England was never common. During the post-medieval period the figure was under two per cent. That number increased to three per cent between 1590 and 1610 and rose again to three per cent in the 1700s. However, by the 1840s seven per cent of babies were born out of wedlock, a figure that decreased to four per cent in the 1890s. When Annie was pregnant with her first child she was not alone, for around a third of women were pregnant at the time they took their marriage vows.

A detail from Henry Nelson O’Neil’s 1855 painting ‘A Mother Depositing Her Child at a Foundling Hospital.’

Earlier, in 1866, eighteen year old James fell foul of the authorities and spent three months in Wandsworth Prison. His crime: he stole fifteen feet of lead. James’ prison record reveals that he was 4’ 10” tall with a lean left leg. Blue eyed and fair haired, he worked in the local pottery. James entered Wandsworth Prison weighing 6st 12lbs and left weighing 6st 8lbs. After his release, James does not appear in the criminal records, so presumably he’d learned his lesson.

On 31 August 1873, Nancy gave birth to James Henry Noulton, the first of six children she had with James. The family lived at 13 Salamanca Street, Lambeth, while James worked as a cement porter. Charles Booth’s poverty map of Victorian London reveals that Salamanca Street was a poor area with families existing on 18s. to 21s. a week.

Salamanca Street on Charles Booth’s poverty map.

After her marriage, Nancy changed not only her surname, but also her first name. She created a new identity for herself as Annie Noulton, and gave that name to her fourth child, my 2 x great grandmother, Annie Noulton.

My 2 x great grandmother Annie Noulton with two of her daughters, c1920.

Aged forty, James died on 20 December 1888 and on 22 May 1893 at St John the Evangelist, Walworth, Annie married widower, Frederick Thomas Canty, a stoker. The couple produced one daughter, Elizabeth.

On 8 May 1897, Frederick entered the county asylum. He died in the asylum on 20 June 1897.

After a hard life in a rough neighbourhood, Annie died on 27 July 1904 aged forty seven. In her forties, she lived at 39 Neville Street, LambethOn 6 August 1924, Eveline Downing died from an illegal operation in Neville StreetThe Coroner said that it was “a very unsatisfactory case that would have to be left undecided because there was a conspiracy of silence to defeat the ends of justice.”

Eveline Downing’s death remains a mystery, but what of Annie Noulton; why did she change her name from Nancy Wheeler? Her parents and upbringing offer an explanation and I will explore that in a future post.

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 #86

Dear Reader,

This week, I discovered that Henry Wheeler, my 4 x great grandfather, was a regular visitor to the Old Bailey (pictured), as a defendant 😱 More about Henry, his two wives, eleven children and larcenous life on the streets of nineteenth century Westminster in future posts.

Our garden this week…

Incredible picture of the Earth from the Japanese Kayuga spacecraft orbiting the Moon.

New pools formed in Kenfig sand dunes this week.

My article about SOE heroine Phyllis Latour, still alive at 99, features on page 36 of the Seaside News.

Latest translation news. I’m delighted that Kamila has agreed to translate The Devil and Ms Devlin into Portuguese. Translation work started this week. Meanwhile, here’s one we made earlier.

My 9 x great grandfather, Captain John Hodsoll, was baptised on 31 March 1622 in Ash By Wrotham, Kent. A captain in the merchant navy, he married Mary Bucher in 1656.

Little is known of Mary Bucher. She was born in 1629, in Wadhurst, Sussex, the daughter of John and Elizabeth Bucher. Her surname suggests German ancestry and in some documents it features as Butcher or Batcher. There is a suggestion that Mary was a Quaker, but this might be a result of coincidental names and dates. Certainly, Quakers did marry into the Hodsell family, so the idea deserves consideration.

Seventeenth Century Lady, artwork by the French School.

During the 17th century, sea trade experienced significant change.  British shipbuilders adapted the superior design of the Dutch fluits to create ships that required smaller crews, yet had larger storage.  This resulted in a growth in maritime shipping through trade with the Mediterranean, the East Indies, the North American Colonies and Newfoundland. John became a captain and took advantage of that trade.

Captain John Hodsoll’s sailing exploits established a naval tradition within the family. Two Hodsolls, including an admiral, served in Charles II’s navy and later generations set sail for America where they were among the earliest settlers in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and California.

“Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor,” by William Halsall.

In his Will, John mentions his “eldest sonne, William” his “deare and loveinge wife, Mary” and his “two youngerst daughters, Anne and Jane”, bequeathing the girls “the summe of ffifty pounds a peece out of her house in Wadhurst Towne in the County of Sussex.” John also left money to his “Seaven Sonns”, William, John, Henry, Charles, Thomas, Edmund and James. His sixth born son, Robert, died in infancy.

Branches, incomplete, of the Hodsoll family tree.

In the Hodsoll chancel in the Ash-by-Wrotham church, a monumental inscription above John Hodsoll reads, “Hereunder rests in hope of a joyfull resurrection the body of Captayne John Hodsoll, of South Ash, esq., who departed this life to enjoy a better (life) on the 6th day of July, 1683, aged 61 years. He was marryed to Mary, the daughter of John Batcher, of Wadhurst, in the county of Sussex, gent., whose Conjugall love hath occasioned this pious memorial of him.” 

John and Mary produced twelve children, eight boys and four girls. Their daughter, Mary, my direct ancestor, married the Reverend James Axe, uniting the Hodsoll and Axe branches of my family.

The birth date of William – John and Mary’s first born – looks sound –  9 January 1656 in Wadhurst, Sussex. Equally, their marriage date –  9 September 1656 in Cowden, Kent – is a matter of public record. This begs the question: why did John and Mary wait eight months to get married? Maybe John was away at sea and returned to find Mary cradling a baby in her arms.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx