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Dear Reader #131

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, the French version of Mind Games, available soon 🙂

This week, Magnus Carlsen retained his world chess championship title with a convincing 7.5 – 3.5 victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi, four victories to zero. Carlsen won the sixth game and effectively broke Nepomniachtchi’s spirit because the other three victories were all based on Nepomniachtchi’s errors. Proof yet again that chess is the ultimate mind game.

In the festive issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads…

Holiday traditions and Christmas books.

Plus a seasonal blend of short stories, flash fiction, poetry, photography, travel, articles, activities, puzzles, recipes and so much more!

Father Christmas, delivering his presents in 1940.

My direct ancestor Thomas Stradling Esq was born c1454 in St Donats Castle, Glamorgan, Wales. The son of Henry Stradling and Elizabeth Herbert, Thomas married Janet Mathew c1473 in St Athan, Glamorgan. I was born in St Athan so the village is obviously special to me. Thomas fathered Edward, my direct ancestor, Henry and Jane. He died on 8 September 1480 in Cardiff, Glamorgan having secured the family estates and having served as Lieutenant of Ogmore lordship and castle.

Thomas Stradling Esq and Janet Mathew. Wikitree.

Thomas’ son, Sir Edward Stradling, left a more indelible mark on history. Born c1473 in Merthyr Mawr, Glamorgan, a stone’s throw from my home, Sir Edward married Elizabeth Arundel in St Athan. Politically and financially this was a fine marriage for Edward, although it did end in tragedy when Elizabeth died during childbirth on 20 February 1513 at Merthyr Mawr.

After Elizabeth’s death, Edward remarried. His second wife, and my direct ancestor, was Felice aka Ffelys, daughter of John Llwyd. There is a suggestion that Felice was one of Edward’s mistresses before their marriage. Edward had a number of mistresses. We shall explore that aspect of his life shortly.

When Edward’s father, Thomas, died in 1480 Richard III placed his guardianship with Sir James Tyrrell. This lasted until Richard III’s defeat at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Sir James was Elizabeth Arundel’s uncle and he probably arranged Edward and Elizabeth’s marriage. 

Medieval marriages were often political affairs with little thought given to romance. The main aims were to produce heirs and build up the family fortune. Therefore, with a lack of romance, mistresses were common. Often, knights and lords found love with these mistresses although given the circumstances the modern phrase “it’s complicated” springs to mind. Wives finding lovers was frowned upon, but human nature found its way and affairs were more common than we might suppose.

Sir Edward and Elizabeth produced six children, four sons and two daughters. With Felice, Edward produced two sons and one daughter, Elizabeth, my direct ancestor. Through various mistresses, Edward produced a further seventeen children, possibly more. At least three of these children were named Elizabeth bringing the total to four daughters named Elizabeth. Maybe Edward named them after his first wife and the repeated use of the name suggests that he held her in genuine affection?

Sir Edward Stradling and Elizabeth Arundel. Wikitree.

Sir Edward owned vast swathes of land including manors, estates and castles in Glamorgan, Somerset and Dorset. Nevertheless, with over twenty children looking for an inheritance there were problems.

On 17 June 1531, the Countess of Worcester wrote to Thomas Cromwell, the King’s councillor, expressing her concerns about the Stradling claims against her husband. She described Edward Stradling’s sons as, ‘twelve brothers, most of them bastards, and they have no living but by extortion and pillaging of the King’s subjects’.

Furthermore, in 1547 Thomas Fflemyng filed an assault complaint against seven of Edward’s sons and a daughter. Around this time Elizabeth, my direct ancestor, married Sir Edmund Morgan, Baron of Machen and Tredegar, securing her future. However, for many of the Stradling offspring, particularly the bastards, banditry and extortion became a way of life.

After the Battle of the Spurs and the Siege of Tournai in 1513, one hundred men-at-arms, including Edward Stradling, were knighted by Henry VIII in the Norte Dame Cathedral of Tournai on 2 October 1513.

Battle of the Spurs, 16 August 1513.

Sir Edward died on 8 May 1535 in St. Donats Castle. He signed his will on 27 April 1535, a clear indication that he was slipping away. He was buried in the chancel of St. Donats Church. However, Edward Stradling MP, the fifth Edward in the family, moved the bones of his grandfather Sir Edward and grandmother Elizabeth to the new Lady Chapel of St Donats. 

Edward and Elizabeth might well have married for political reasons, but the family realised, maybe through family folklore and stories, that they should be together in the end.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

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

For Authors

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

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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 #122

Dear Reader,

Some chart news. The pre-order for Damaged has entered the hot new releases chart at #48 alongside international bestselling authors Robert Bryndza and Michael Connelly.

Damaged is book nineteen in my Sam Smith Mystery Series. Many thanks to everyone who has followed Sam’s story.

A new year’s 2021 resolution achieved. Victory against chess.com’s computer, level 2000. This is the final position from a Réti Opening: Nimzowitsch-Larsen Variation. The computer over-extended in the centre (a common motif in this variation) lost a pawn and allowed my rook to reach the seventh rank. My a and b pawns became active and the computer had to sacrifice material to stop them queening.

Computers are very good at calculation, and can out-calculate me, so I use positional openings against them. If I gain a positional advantage, sometimes I can convert that into a winning position.

In this month’s issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine…

An exclusive interview with bestselling author Caro Ramsey

Healing

Short Stories 

Recipes

An exclusive interview with artist Carl Jacobs

Paranormal Podcasts

World Space Week

And so much more!

A cosmopolitan branch of my family tree. My direct ancestor Ярослав Владимирович “Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev” married Ingegerd Ирина (Irina) “Sankta Anna” Olofsdottir of Sweden (both pictured). Their branch led to Gundreda de Warenne who married Roger Beaumont and continued through the Beauchamp, Turberville and Berkerolles families to the Stradlings who were lords of my home manor.

I often wonder how my ancestors met and decided to marry. For my noble ancestors marriages were arranged and I hope love developed from their union. At the other end of the scale I suspect that some of my pauper ancestors married out of financial need and for companionship. For the rest, the majority, I believe love was a factor. It was certainly a factor in this story, because my direct ancestor Sir Maurice Berkeley lost an inheritance over his choice of bride.

Maurice Berkeley, also known as Maurice the Lawyer, (1435- 1506) de jure the 3rd Baron Berkeley of Thornbury, Gloucestershire, was an English nobleman. He was born at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, the youngest son of James Berkeley, the 1st Baron Berkeley, (1394–1463). Contemporaries also referred to James as James the Just.

Berkeley coat of arms.

Maurice’s mother was Lady Isabel, daughter of Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, while his elder brother was William Berkeley, 1st Marquess of Berkeley, the 2nd Baron Berkeley. William was known as William the Waste-All. In terms of succession, because William had no children, Maurice was in line to inherit the Berkeley fortune.

In 1465 Maurice married Isabel Meade (1444 – 29 May 1514), the daughter of Philip Meade (c1415-1475) of Wraxall Place in the parish of Wraxall, Somerset. Philip was an Alderman of Bristol, an MP, and thrice Mayor of Bristol, in 1458-9, 1461-2 and 1468-9. 

Maurice and Isabel produced four children.

  • Sir Maurice Berkeley, de jure 4th Baron Berkeley (1467 – 12 September 1523), eldest son and heir, who was made a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of King Henry VIII in 1509. 
  • Thomas Berkeley de jure 5th Baron Berkeley (1472 – 22 January 1532), second son, who was knighted on 9 September 1513 by Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, at the Battle of Flodden.
  • James Berkeley (c1474 – 1515).
  • Anne Berkeley (d.1560), my direct ancestor who married Sir William Denys (1470–1533) of Dyrham, Gloucestershire, a courtier of King Henry VIII and Sheriff of Gloucestershire in 1518 and 1526.

Maurice and his brother William were participants in the  Battle of Nibley Green, which was fought near North Nibley in Gloucestershire on 20 March 1470 between the troops of Thomas Talbot, 2nd Viscount Lisle, and William Berkeley. This battle was notable for being the last fought in England between private armies of feudal magnates.

North Nibley (Wikipedia).

The Battle of Nibley Green took place because of a dispute over the inheritance of Berkeley Castle and associated lands. Lisle challenged William Berkeley to a battle, a challenge William accepted.

Lisle raised a force among his ill-equipped local tenants while William Berkeley drew upon the garrison at Berkeley Castle, his local levies, and miners from the Forest of Dean. Maurice, with his retinue, also rode to his brother’s aid.

In terms of numbers, the Berkeley brothers held the advantage, 1,000 men to 300. Philip Meade, Maurice’s father-in-law, also provided men to support the Berkeley brothers’ cause.

Lisle encouraged his men to charge against Berkeley’s troops. In response, Berkeley’s archers loosed their arrows and broke up the charge. One of the Dean Foresters, an archer named ‘Black Will’, shot Lisle in the left temple through his open visor and unhorsed him. In the melee, dagger thrusts put an end to Lisle’s life. Leaderless, Lisle’s army scattered and fled.

Jan Kip’s aerial view of Berkeley Castle engraved for the antiquary Sir Robert Atkyns’ The Ancient and Present State of Glostershire, 1712.

Despite Maurice Berkeley and Philip Meade’s support, William Berkeley disinherited his brother. The reason? William reckoned that Maurice had married beneath himself; he’d married a ‘commoner’ a person of ‘mean blood’.

In reality, Isabel’s father, Philip, was a wealthy merchant, but William reckoned that the marriage brought the noble family of Berkeley into disrepute. However, Maurice stood by Isabel and forsook his inheritance, which included Berkeley Castle.

Maurice died in September 1506 aged 70 and was buried in the Austin Friary in the City of London. Isabel was also buried there, in 1514.

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 31 occasions.

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #56

Dear Reader,

That noble beast, the thesaurus…

The great philosophers…

My Song of the Week

We can be anything, anything at all

We can be everything, everything and more

Another new project, the translation of The Olive Tree: Roots into Spanish. This series is about the Spanish Civil War so I’m delighted that the books are being translated into Spanish.

Chess and music are two of my passions. This is brilliant, a U2 cover of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” performed by Juga. The lyrics, by Vladimir Kramnik, refer to his World Championship match with Garry Kasparov.

My article about SOE agent Alix d’Unienville appears on page 20 of the magazine. Lots of other interesting features too 🙂

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

Difficult times for everyone at the moment with some political leaders making it even more difficult than it needs to be. Hopefully, this calendar will help you in some small way.

Resistance Couples

Lucie Samuel, better known as Lucie Aubrac, was born on 29 June 1912. A history teacher in peacetime, Lucie became a leading member of the French Resistance.

In 1939, Lucie married Raymond Aubrac and after the Nazis occupied France in 1940 the couple joined the Resistance. In 1941, the Aubrac’s group sabotaged the train stations at Perpignan and Cannes, and distributed thousands of anti-Nazi flyers. 

Lucie and Raymond Aubrac

Despite harassment and threats from the Nazis, the Aubracs published an underground newspaper, Libération. With the help of local printers and trade-unionists, 10,000 copies of Libération were produced and distributed in July 1941, bringing news and hope to the French people; a reminder that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

An issue of Libération

In March 1943, the Gestapo arrested Raymond. In May, they released him, only to arrest him again in June. With Raymond sentenced to death, Lucie concocted an audacious escape plan.

Under French law, engaged couples were allowed to marry if one of them was soon to die. Therefore, Lucie claimed that Raymond was her fiancé. She was pregnant at the time, carrying her second child (of three). 

Lucie informed the Nazis that Raymond’s name was “Ermelin” (one of his many aliases) and that he had been caught in a raid while innocently visiting a doctor. She claimed that she was unmarried and that Raymond was the father of her expected child. 

Furthermore, Lucie pleaded with the Gestapo that they should allow Raymond to marry her before his execution. The Gestapo believed her story and granted her wish.

Later, after the ‘marriage’ ceremony, as the Gestapo escorted Raymond back to his prison the local Resistance executed Lucie’s plan. In cars, they ambushed the prison lorry and liberated fifteen prisoners. In the melee, Lucie freed Raymond and the couple escaped.

In 1944, Lucie was the first woman to sit in a French parliamentary assembly and in 1945 she published a short history of the French Resistance.

Outwitting the Gestapo, a semi-fictional version of Lucie’s wartime diaries, followed in 1984. Lucie published her book after notorious psychopath, Klaus Barbie ‘The Butcher of Leon’ claimed that Raymond had betrayed the Resistance after his arrest. 

Undoubtedly, there were factions and conflicts within the Resistance, particularly between the Gaullists and the Communists. As a result of these conflicts, betrayals did occur. However, when seeking the truth it is difficult to place great faith in a psychopath, particularly one who had reason to hate the Aubracs.

In support of the Aubracs, twenty leading Resistance survivors published a letter, condemning the accusations. Voluntarily, the Aubracs appeared before a panel of leading French historians. After examining the case, the historians concluded that Raymond was not a traitor.

To date, the Aubracs’ story has featured in two films – Boulevard des hirondelles, 1992, and Lucie Aubrac, 1997. While, in 1996, Lucie was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government for her heroism during the Second World War.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a statement after Raymond’s death in 2012, said that Raymond’s escape from the Nazis had “become a legend in the history of the Resistance” and praised him and all Resistance members as “heroes of the shadows who saved France’s honor, at a time when it seemed lost.”

While President François Hollande said, “In our darkest times, he [Raymond] was, with Lucie Aubrac, among the righteous, who found, in themselves and in the universal values of our Republic, the strength to resist Nazi barbarism.”

Lucie once said: “Resistance is not just something locked away in the period 1939-45. Resistance is a way of life, an intellectual and emotional reaction to anything which threatens human liberty.”

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx