Dear Reader

Dear Reader #139

Dear Reader,

Operation Rose, Operation Watchmaker and Operation Overlord, books seven, eight and nine in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series are now available for pre-order. Full details here

I’ve always felt Welsh and European, and my updated DNA test result (covering seven generations) confirms that fact. The Welsh half of my family is very Welsh, 48/50% while the European half is made up of 37/50% from Belgium/England/France/Germany/Luxembourg/Switzerland/The Netherlands plus a further 8% from Scotland/Ireland, 4% from Scandinavia, and 1% from Wales.

The Wilder branch of my family tree starts with my 7 x great grandmother Lucy Wilder. Sadly, in the historical record women are usually recorded as little more than wives or daughters, so it’s difficult to discover many personal details about them. Lucy was born on 8 December 1714, married Thomas Stokes on 17 February 1736 and died on 17 October 1777, all in Pangbourne. She gave birth to at least three children, possibly more. The records for Pangbourne are fairly good, but it’s possible that some of her children’s births escaped the register.

Lucy’s father, my 8 x great grandfather, was Richard Wilder (1681 – 1731). Richard was a churchwarden at St James the Less in Pangbourne. Churchwardens were expected to set a good example, and maintain order and peace. They were responsible for almost everything in a church except those duties performed by a priest.

Churchwardens were usually elected to their office and served as volunteers in a part-time capacity. This suggests that Richard was a respected member of the community. It also begs the questions: how did Richard make a living, and how did the Wilders achieve a prominent place in their community? I’m hoping Richard’s parents and grandparents will provide the answers.

St James the Less, Pangbourne. Wikipedia.

My 9 x great grandfather Richard Wilder was a boat builder in Pangbourne, Berkshire with workshops on the River Thames. Born on 25 September 1648, Richard married Dorothy Fryzer on 30 May 1675 and within five years, 27 March 1676 to 15 May 1681, she gave birth to four children. The fourth child, Richard, was my 8 x great grandfather. Dorothy died eleven days after Richard’s birth. During the seventeenth century 1.5% of all births ended in the mother’s death as a result of exhaustion, dehydration, infection, hemorrhage, or convulsions.

Richard’s boat building business was a success because in 1703 he left that business, two houses and the equivalent of £43,000 to his second wife, Lucie. Here are highlights from his will.

I, Richard Wilder of Panborn in the County of Berks Boat Builder, being weak of body but of sound and perfect memory doe make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and forme following.

I give and bequeath to my loving wife Luci Wilder being my executrix hereafter named 400l-00s-00d. Item I give and bequeath my house and land in Baswelldon to my said wife during her naturall life and afterwards to be divided share and part alike between my two sonns Richard and Edward and to their heirs forever. 

Item I give and bequeath my house and land at Streetly to my aforesaid wife during her naturall life and after her death to my sonn John and his heirs forever. 

Item give all my household goods to my wife except my wearing apparell and that I give amongst my sonns share and part alike equally divided.

Item I give and bequeath to all my brothers and sisters one shilling apiece except my sister Elizabeth and to her I give 40 shillings.

Item I give and bequeath to my daughter Dorothy Howard sixty pounds and to her daughter twenty pounds.

Item I give to the poor of Pangborn 50s in bread and to the poor of Basweldon 50s in bread at the day of my ffunerall.

Item I give and bequeath all the rest of my goods and chattells and money to be divided equally share and part alike amongst the rest of my children.

Item I doe make my loving wife Luci Wilder my full and whole executrix of this my last Will and Testament.

Item I desire that all of my Debts may be paid out of my [s?] without [doors?] and afterwards to be divided as before mentioned In witness hereof I have hereunto put my hand and seale this 4 day of August Anno 1703 The mark of Richard Wilder sealed and delivered with the 13 stamp being to the full effect in the presence of Richard Lyne, Ruth Lyne, William Woolford.

I doe make choice of Mr Thomas Burteridge of Baswelldon and of Mr John Wilder of Sulham to be my Trustees to see this my will performed.

My desire is that my wife and my two sonns carry on the Trade of building and that my wife may be got half shares with my two sonns in the trade and my two sonns the other half between them.

Probate granted to Lucie Wilder in London on the 19th November 1703.

Richard’s will makes mention of gifts of bread to the poor on the day of his funeral and his wish that his wife Lucie should continue with his business. The acknowledgment that women ran businesses in the 1600s and 1700s is rare, so this is a nice find.

Picture: River Thames Above Pangbourne by Harry Pennell.

Lucie died in 1730. She left a will and here are the highlights.

I Lucy Wilder of Pangbourne in the County of Berks

Widow being indisposed in body but of sound mind and

memory (thanks be to God) therefore doe this Twenty third

day of December in the year of our Lord One Thousand

seven hundred twenty and nine make publish and declare

this to be my last Will and Testament in manner ffollowing

I give devise and bequeath unto my son John Wilder All

those my two Messuages or Tenements with the appurts

lyeing and being in Streatly in the County of Berks and the

Land thereunto belonging and also my Messuage or Tenement

with the appurtenonites lyeing and being in Sutton in the said

County of Berks To hold to him his heirs or assigns forever

chargable nevertheless with the true payment of One hundred

pounds unto my son Edward Wilder in one year after my

decease and I doe hereby accordingly make lyable my said

Messuages and Land in Streatly and also my Messuage

and premises in Sutton with the true payment thereof

Item whereas my son in Law Thomas Howard who

Married my Daughter Lucy stands indebted unto me in the

Sum of ffifty pounds for Rent now I doe hereby forgive them

the said sum of ffifty pounds and likewise give unto my

said Daughter Lucy the Looking Glass that now stands in

my Parlour 

Item I give to my Daughter Anne Rawlins Twenty five pounds to be paid

unto her by my Executors hereinafter named in twelve months next after my


Item I give to my Daughter Catherine Giles five pounds

and that her receipt notwithstanding her Coverture shall

be my Executors sufficient discharge for the same 

Item I doe hereby forgive my Son Edward Wilder all moneys

he now owes me whether on Bond Bill or otherwise he

having promised me that his sister Giles shall Occupy

and enjoy the house at Wantage which he lately

purchased during her Life without paying any ffurther

or other rent than one Pepper Corn by the year and

keeping the said House and Premises in Repair and

that her receipt to any Tennant or Occupier thereof

shall be a good discharge notwithstanding her Coverture

I likewise give unto my said Daughter Giles the Quilt

Curtains and Vallance in my best Chamber 

Item as [touching?] my wearing Apparell and Rings I give equally

between my three Daughters namely Lucy Howard

Anne Rawlins and Catherine Giles share and part


Item as [touching?] all other my Linnen of all kinds

I give equally between my two Sons John and Edward

Wilder and my three Daughters Lucy Howard, Anne

Rawlings and Catherine Giles share and part alike

desiring them to be loving and kind to one to the other 

Item all other my Plate and all other of my household Goods not herein before

dispose of I give to my son John Wilder (except the

Bed Bolster and two Pillows on which I now lye on the

Rugg and Blankets which now cover me and the hanging

Press in my (room) I am now in which I give to my Son Edward


Item I give to my Son in Law Richard Wilder a Ring of Twelve shillings

value and to his sister Dorcas [Hersey] a Ring of the like Value 

Item I give to my son John Wilder and my son Edward Wilder all my Estate

Title term and Interest which I have of and in Messuage ffarme and Lands

lyeing in the said Parish of Pangbourne called

Slipers together with the Lease whereby I hold the same To hold to them their

Executors Administrators and Assigns for and during all the remainder of my

said Term therein 

Item I give to my said Daughter Giles the Chair she wrought now standing in

my best Chamber

Item all the rest residue and remainder of all and singular

my Goods Chattells moneys lent on any Securities

whatsoever and not by me herein disposed of after all

my just debts Testamentary expences and Legacies are

first paid off and discharged I give the same equally to

my said Sons the said John and Edward Wilder share and

part alike and I do hereby make them the said John and

Edward Wilder joynt Executors of this my last Will and

Testament hereby revoking all former and other Wills

and Testaments by me heretofore made and doe Publish

and Declare this to be my last Will and Testament In

Testimony whereof I have to this my last Will contained

in two sheets of Paper to the ffirst thereof Sett my hand

and the last sheet hereof Sett my hand and Seal the

day and year ffirst above written ~ Lucy Wilder. Signed

Sealed Published and declared by the Testatrix to be

for and as her last Will and Testament in the presence

of us who subscribed our names as Witnesses in her

presence ~ Joanna Leader, Dorothy Emans, Ral Guise

Picture: House at Pangbourne by John Belcher.

To date, I haven’t discovered many details about my 10 x great grandfather Richard Wilder (1628 – 1675). However, his father, my 11 x great grandfather, William Wilder, left a will. Here are the highlights.

I William Wilder of Basledon in the Countie of Berks being sick and weak in bodie but in good and perfect memorie first give and bequeath my Soule into the hands of God my Saviour and Redeemer trusting in Jesus Christ for the pardon and remission of all my sinns.

Secondlie I give unto Richard Wilder my sonne all the goods in the Shop the bedstead in the Loft and the great Chest in the Loft that was my wife’s and all the wood and lumber in and about the house and the [Farm?]

Item I give unto Elizabeth his wife all my wearing Apparell except that which I have given William [?] Elizabeth.

Item my wearing Apparrell I give to my sonne Richard and his children.

Item I give to my Daughter in Law Elizabeth Wilder all my bees in the upper fold And to my God Sonne William Wilder I give all the Bees in the Lower fold.

Item all the rest of my goods whole I give unto William my God Sonne making him my whole Executor.

And this is the Last will and Testament of me the said William Wilder Dated this two [&] Twentieth Day of August in the year of our Lord One thousand Six Hundred ffiftie Six.

The mark of William Wilder 

Witnesses: Robert Hulett Hanna Hulett

William was obviously ill when he made his will. The wood and lumber mentioned might relate to the Wilder’s boat building business, although mention of a shop might indicate that they ran a store of some kind.

Bees were clearly important to them. In medieval and later centuries beeswax was highly prized for candles while fermented honey was used to make mead in areas where grapes could not be grown for wine.

Little is known about my 12 x great grandfather Richard Wilder, born 21 October 1575, except that his parents Thomas Wilder and Joan Sharland married a month after his birth, 26 November 1575. Sometimes, especially when an inheritance was concerned, these birth-marriage patterns were deliberate, to ensure that the potential bride was fertile.

In the early 1600s members of my Wilder family emigrated to Charlestown, Massachusetts. However, my ancestor John Wilder remained in Berkshire where he married Alice Keats. John, Alice and later generations developed Sulham House, now a listed building. Picture: Wikipedia.

According to the Book of the Wilders written by Moses Hale Wilder in 1878 my branch of the Wilder family originated from Nicholas Wilder. “The first Wilder known in history was Nicholas, a military chieftain, in the army of the Earl of Richmond, at the battle of Bosworth, in 1485. The fact that it is a German name, and that it is quite common in some parts of Germany at the present time, would indicate that he was one of those who came with the Earl from France, and landed at Milford Haven.”

However, some modern genealogists think that the Wilders were farmers from Basildon. Wilder is of German origin, meaning “untamed” or “wild”, so I suspect both theories contain a grain of truth.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.


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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #119

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, the Portuguese version of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing author, playwright and journalist Tim Walker for Mom’s Favorite Reads. Meanwhile, Tim’s just published a new book, his thoughts on meeting stars of stage and screen. You can learn more about Tim’s book here

Ancestry have updated my DNA result. I’m 65% Welsh. The other 35% is shared between Belgium, the Channel Islands, England, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway.

My main genetic communities are Wales, Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, Northern West Virginia and Maryland.

I have cousins in Australia, New Zealand, California, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Toronto, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey and North Carolina.

I’m sure I have relatives in other countries and territories that this DNA test doesn’t cover, but it’s fascinating to see where my ancestors came from and where they settled as emigrants.

My ancestor Arthur Iveson was born on 16 June 1772 in Hawes, Yorkshire to Thomas Iveson and Margaret Taylor. Maybe due to complications from the birth Margaret died in October 1772 while Thomas died in 1788. As the youngest child, Arthur followed a tradition common amongst well-to-do families – he entered the Church.

St Margaret’s Church, Hawes. Credit: Wikipedia.

In 1793 the Bishop of Carlisle ordained Arthur as a deacon and a year later he became a priest in York. From York the Church sent Arthur to Nottinghamshire then to Norfolk where he established himself as Rector of East Bradenham.

In Norfolk, on 6 March 1797, Arthur married Martha English. Of course, as a rector Arthur could read and write, and he signed his name. Martha also signed her name, something not many women of the time could do, even women born into wealthy families.

Between 1798 and 1806 the couple produced six children: Ann, Thomas, born 18 March 1799, Arthur, Martha, Martha and Arthur. Martha #1 and Arthur #1 died in infancy.

Apart from the tragic infant deaths, everything was going well for Arthur. Between 1802 and 1817 he appeared on the Electoral Roll in Norfolk, which placed him in a privileged position, one of the elite in the country who could vote. In 1816 his son Thomas became a clerk to William James Murray in Kings Lynn and shortly after that he followed his father into the Church, becoming a vicar.

St Mary’s Church, East Bradenham. Credit: Wikipedia.

Arthur’s wife, Martha, died in 1828, and from that point events took a sinister turn.

At ten o’clock on the evening of 28 May 1832 Thomas entered Arthur’s rooms to talk with his father. The talk developed into an argument and Thomas produced a gun. He fired one shot, which entered Arthur’s heart.

With his father dying, Thomas ran next door to summon Captain Lake. He informed the captain of the shooting and Lake hastened to Arthur’s aid. The captain summoned two medical men, Mr Murlin, a surgeon, and Dr Tweedale, and they tended to Arthur, alas in vain, for he died within twenty minutes of the shooting.

The moment Arthur died, Thomas entered the kitchen and took a considerable amount of laudanum, which Mr Murlin promptly forced from his body. The Officers of Justice arrived and Thomas surrendered to them.

In July 1832 an inquest into the death of Arthur Iveson was held in a local public house, followed by a trial at the Quarter Sessions. During the inquest and trial it emerged that Thomas was ‘intelligent’ and a ‘gentleman’, although his behaviour of late had been eccentric.

The trial established that Thomas entered Arthur’s rooms with intent to shoot his father and that the bullet fired from his gun killed him. However, the jury acquitted Thomas on the grounds of insanity.

After the trial, Thomas entered a local infirmary and died there on 15 February 1836.

A Victorian Inquest

There is a postscript to this remarkable story. On 4 January 1848 in Hawes, Yorkshire, two cousins, John and Arthur Iveson, cousins of Arthur of Norfolk’s offspring, went drinking in a local pub, The Fountain Inn. They got drunk, argued, and engaged in a brawl. The brawl resulted in the death of Arthur Iveson.

The trail that followed delivered a verdict of manslaughter and John was sentenced to two months hard labour. After his prison sentence John resumed his role of local butcher. Twenty-two at the time of the manslaughter, he later married, raised a family and enjoyed a long life.

What to make of the Ivesons? Are they a violent branch of my family? I’m in touch with four first cousins, Iverson sisters, and no one would regard them as violent. Indeed, the opposite is true. It would appear that Thomas killed Arthur when in a troubled state of mind while John killed his cousin Arthur due to excessive alcohol consumption. 

History repeats, so they say, but when it comes to family members killing each other maybe it’s better if it doesn’t. 

To all current and future Ivesons, pax vobiscum – peace be with you.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #88

Dear Reader,

This week, I discovered that my direct ancestors John Dean and Joan Fuller emigrated to America. They arrived in Massachusetts in the 1630s, following Joan’s uncles, Edward and Samuel Fuller, who arrived as Founding Fathers on the Mayflower. More about this in future posts.

The Moon doing its Saturn impersonation.

A great week for my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, #1 in America, Australia, Britain and Canada. Many thanks to everyone who made this possible.

Merthyr Mawr this week.

For the man who has everything, Madame Dowding‘s Carlton corsets.

For Christmas, I received a DNA test kit to assist me with my family history research. The result arrived today.

I’m 52% Welsh
26% European, which includes Belgium, England, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland
19% Scottish, which in this case also includes Ireland and Brittany
3% Scandinavian, mainly Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden 

Some of my ancestors emigrated and settled in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and California.

The great thing about ancestry and DNA is that the DNA link enables you to identify ancestors who have escaped the written record, so I anticipate lots of new exciting discoveries 🙂

Breaking news: through DNA, I’ve discovered that my 9 x great grandfather, John ap Evan (John son of Evan) and his wife, Barbara Aubrey, established the Welsh Tract, pictured, in Pennsylvania. He arrived in America with his fellow Quakers in 1683.

A DNA map. My ancestors, 100 years after arriving in Pennsylvania. More about this in future posts.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader

Dear Reader #77

Dear Reader,

Published today, The Olive Tree Book Two: Branches.
Separately, young nurse Heini Hopkins and successful novelist Naomi Parker travel to Spain where they take opposing sides in the Spanish Civil War, learning life lessons about love and war.

An elf tells me that Santa will deliver a DNA kit at Christmas to help with my genealogical research. I expect to find Welsh, English, a bit of Scots and maybe a few Irish strands. The big question is, do I have any Scandinavian ancestors? Howe is Old Norse. Picture: Wikipedia.

Local gossip from 30 May 1868, which I’m sure would have reached the ears of my 3 x great grandmother Mary Hopkin. Two women fighting over chilblains.

Wales as seen from the international space station.

The USA team for the People’s Olympiad bound for Barcelona, July 1936. This was an anti-fascist response to the Nazi Olympics. The People’s Olympiad was due to begin on 19 July, but was cancelled because of a fascist coup attempt.

Two hundred athletes from around the world fought in the Spanish Civil War including Chick Chakin, fifth from right, who was shot by Franco’s fascist forces in 1938.

Campbell Pleasure Steamers at Cardiff Docks, 1910. 

From Victorian times well into the twentieth century my ancestors used to take day excursions on these paddle steamers with Ilfracombe being a popular destination.

Gloves say so much…

Delighted that Santiago will start work this week on the Spanish translation of Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Meanwhile, here’s one we made earlier.

This probably means I have a minute left today 😉

On 25 November 1942, the SOE in cooperation with the Greek Resistance destroyed the heavily guarded Gorgopotamos viaduct. This was a major success for the SOE and their biggest operation to date.

To follow the crowd or take a moral stand?

Derby County players offering a Nazi salute during their 1934 tour of Nazi Germany.

Goalkeeper Jack Kirby, left, refused.

I’m Jack Kirby.


William Howe, my 3 x great grandfather, was born on 31 August 1823 and baptised on 14 September 1823 in Southerndown, St Brides, Glamorgan. His parents were John Howe 1786 – 1856 and Christiana John 1795 – 1874.

In 1841, William aged eighteen was working as an agricultural labourer on Cadogan Thomas’ farm in Merthyr Mawr. In common with all agricultural labourers he moved from farm to farm in search of work. In the late 1840s his travels took him five miles west to South Corneli where he met his future bride, my 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin.

Mary had led an eventful life before she met William. Born on 27 August 1818 in South Corneli and baptised on 20 September 1818 in St James Church, Pyle, Mary was the daughter of Daniel Hopkin  1781 – 1864 and Anne Lewis 1783 – 1863, both agricultural labourers.

By 1841, Mary’s brother, Hopkin, had died aged twenty while her sister Anne had married David Price and moved to Neath. Along with her younger sister, Margaret, Mary lived at the family home in South Corneli. However, she was conducting an affair with a young agricultural labourer, Thomas Reynolds.

The family home also contained Mary’s niece, Anne Price. Anne was born in 1839 and she lived with her grandparents, and later Mary, into adulthood. Then an orphan, fifteen-year-old Anne Beynon, joined the family. Anne was the daughter of John Beynon and Anne Nicholl, who owned a shop in Corneli. John died in 1837 and his wife Anne in 1832. With Anne Beynon facing destitution, it was generous of the Hopkin family to take her into their home.

Mary Hopkin’s relationship with Thomas Reynolds produced a son, also called Thomas, born in 1842. The couple did not marry and Thomas senior died in 1845.

So, when William Howe met Mary Hopkin in the late 1840s she was a single mother. Mary earned a living as a dress and hat maker. She used to walk fifteen miles from Corneli to the market at Neath to sell her wares. Her sister Anne probably walked with her to the market and there she met her husband, David Price.

The thirty mile round journey was obviously worth Mary’s while so it’s fair to assume that she was a talented dressmaker. She was also physically fit and one would imagine quite slender.

William Howe and Mary Hopkin married on the 24 August 1850 at St James’ Church in Pyle with Mary’s sister, Margaret, and Catherine Lewis as witnesses. William signed the marriage certificate with a cross, so was not as literate as his father or grandfather. Mary was pregnant when she married William. However, unlike her affair with Thomas Reynolds, she sustained this relationship for the rest of her life.

An exciting discovery, the family home of my 3 x great grandparents, William Howe and Mary Hopkin. They lived three doors down from Ty Maen, ’the big house’, which places them in plot 122. A small village. Everyone must have known everyone else. Image: National Library of Wales. Date: 1847.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx