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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #159

Dear Reader,

I’ve completed the basic outline for Tula, my novel about an actress finding fame in the 1920s, and losing her mind in the process. Sixty-eight chapters. I’ve written the prologue and chapter one. The prologue is Tula’s asylum admission form, with her doctor’s notes. 

The form and notes are based on 1920s asylum records, and a record from my family archive – a Victorian aunt spent a number of years in an asylum. My youngest son, who hopes to become a psychologist, helped with my research. He also named the doctor, Dr Brooks.

Continuing my research into Eva Marie Saint’s ancestry using public records. I’m looking to answer two questions: was Eva’s talent the result of nurture, or nature? And why am I drawn to her as an actress? Can I find the answers to these questions in her roots?

I’ve traced the Saint family back to the 1900 US Federal Census, which reveals the following about the family:

John Q Saint
Age52
Birth DateDec 1847
BirthplaceIndiana, USA
Home in 1900Marshall, Marshall, Iowa
Ward of City2nd
StreetNorth Fourth Street
House Number410
Sheet Number17
Number of Dwelling in Order of Visitation412 322
Family Number447
RaceWhite
GenderMale
Relation to Head of HouseHead
Marital StatusMarried
Spouse’s NameLydia G Saint
Marriage Year1870
Years Married30
Father’s BirthplaceIndiana, USA
Mother’s BirthplaceIndiana, USA
OccupationPost Master
Months Not Employed0
Can ReadYes
Can WriteYes
Can Speak EnglishYes
House Owned or RentedRent
Farm or House

So, Eva Marie’s grandfather was John Q Saint, a postmaster from Indiana, now living in Iowa. In 1900, John had been married to Lydia for thirty years, and they had three children living with them, including Eva’s father, John.

John Q Saint’s neighbours all had respectable professions, as insurance and real estate agents, clerks, etc. The Saints lived in a respectable neighbourhood and, it would seem, enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle.

John Q Saint’s parents were from Indiana, but before searching for them, I’d like to discover more about John Q including what the Q stood for – Quentin? Quincy? Quillan?

More next time.

***

An official in 1922 checking that swimsuits were no more than six inches above the knee. However, emboldened by the right to vote, and the crazes for dance, jazz, ragtime and blues, women were in the mood to throw away the tape measures and challenge authority in general.

Alvin ‘Shipwreck’ Kelly, 1893 – 1952, achieved fame in the 1920s and 1930s as a pole sitter. He calculated that he spent 20,613 hours sitting on flagpoles, including 210 hours in sub-freezing weather and 1,400 hours in the rain. 

Kelly married Frances Vivian Steele, an elevator operator, a match clearly made in heaven, or at least close to it.

Some social historians contend that sex was ‘invented’ in the 1960s. However, the rest of us know that it began in the 1920s when people started necking in automobiles, like the Austin 7, introduced in 1922.

Aura Lee, Farewell, Series 1, Episode 14 of The Rockford Files contains echoes of the pilot episode. Lindsay Wagner reprises her role as Sara Butler. Bill Mumy, who was Sara’s brother in the pilot, also appears, but as a different character.

Bill Mumy appears as Trask, an artist. Trask’s paintings are abstracts, to say the least. In a classic exchange, Rockford asks Trask if he requires a permit to sell his paintings (because they are so bad). Trask replies, “I told you, I paint what I feel.” Rockford: “You must not feel well.”

My honest opinion: the premise of this episode was excellent – a senator is involved in a hit-and-run accident, which leads to murder. The resolution though was a bit convoluted, explained in a brief conversation, rather than shown over several scenes. 

Instead of the mystery, the writers of this episode decided to concentrate on Rockford and Sara’s relationship, which was fine because James Garner and Lindsay Wagner sparkled in their scenes.

Between 1700 and 1800 the population of London increased from 600,000 to over one million. The city established itself as the largest in the world, with commercial and military interests providing the bedrock.

London derived its energy from the free market, which basically meant ‘anything goes’. Services, goods and people – yes, people – could be bought without legislative restraint. Shipowners exploited the colonies while, at the other end of the scale, pickpockets sold gold watches. In eighteenth century London, these people were much of the same: steal from someone, then make a handsome profit.

Some people were offended by the scale of the greed. They compared London to a modern Babylon, devoid of morals and probity. However, writer James Boswell stated that his blood ‘thrilled with pleasure’ and that he regarded London as a city of happiness.

Maybe Boswell didn’t notice that, at its heart, London was still a medieval city without the capacity to deal with a huge rise in the population. In the eighteenth century,  London became notorious for its high volume of prostitutes, it’s large numbers of feral children, and its disgruntled mobs.

Wise heads reasoned that such chaos could not continue, that the quest for ever-larger profits was unsustainable, that the city was in danger of spiralling out of control. The wise heads were proved right because by the fourth quarter of the century, revolution was in the air.

🖼 London from the east, 1751.

John Charles was born on 27 December 1931. He is regarded by many as Wales’ finest-ever footballer. Indeed, many rate him as Britain’s greatest all-round footballer.

During his glory years at Leeds United and Juventus, John excelled as a centre-forward and as a centre-back. He moved to Leeds United, in 1949, from his hometown club, Swansea Town. After a break for National Service, John was the Second Division’s top goalscorer in 1954. 

As club captain in 1955, John led Leeds United to second place and promotion. The following season, Leeds finished eighth in the First Division while John was the division’s top goalscorer.

John’s qualities included strength, pace, technique and vision. Furthermore, he was a great header of a football and possessed a keen eye for goal.

John’s qualities attracted the attentions of Italian giants, Juventus. In his five seasons with Juventus, John won the Scudetto three times and the Coppa Italia twice. 

In 1962, John returned to Leeds; moves to Roma and Cardiff City followed. He was never cautioned nor sent off during his entire career. Indeed, John’s respect for his opponents earned him the nickname Il Gigante Buono – The Gentle Giant.

John represented Wales over a period of fifteen years, from 1950 to 1965. In 1958, he was a member of the Wales World Cup squad.  During that tournament, John scored in the 1 – 1 draw with Hungary. 

Injury ruled John out of the quarter-final against Brazil. Wales lost 1 – 0. Who knows what would have happened if John had been fit to participate in that match.

Next week, more news about my new project, Tula, plus background information.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #158

Dear Reader,

Delighted to say that my books are now available in twelve languages. Here’s my latest, the Dutch version of Operation Broadsword, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE book three, my 112th translation 🙂

Continuing my research into Eva Marie Saint’s ancestry using public records. I’m looking to answer two questions: was Eva’s talent the result of nurture, or nature? And why am I drawn to her as an actress? Can I find the answers to these questions in her roots?

John Merle Saint. Picture courtesy of Eva Marie Saint.

I’ve discovered that John Merle Saint was Eva Marie’s father and that he served in World War One. Today’s record is a US World War One Draft Registration Card. This card provides the following information:

John Merle Saint
RaceCaucasian (White)
Marital StatusSingle
Birth Date13 Oct 1891
Birth PlaceIowa
Residence Date1917-1918
Street Address354 So. Highland
Residence PlacePittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, USA
Draft Board06
Physical BuildSlender
HeightMedium
Hair ColorBrown
Eye ColorBrown

So, John Merle Saint was born in Iowa, another good lead, one which should enable me to locate his parents. This record also led me to other World War One records that featured John, including his burial record. John was buried, on 18 July 1965, at Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. This name strongly suggests that the region was developed by Welsh settlers, so does that mean that Eva Marie has Welsh roots? More research required.

***

Profit and Loss, Series 1, Episodes 12 & 13 of The Rockford Files is a two-parter. Written by John Thomas James and Stephen J. Cannell this is the strongest Rockford story to date. If you are new to the series, start with this one.

Profit and Loss contains a great storyline with sparkling dialogue. James Garner is having a ball with this story; his comic timing is perfect while his casual asides are sublime. Also, some social commentary about business corruption adds depth to the story.

There’s a great running joke about the trash dispenser, plus Beth and Becker make an appearance. If the writers could have included Angel, this would have been the perfect Rockford episode. As it is, it comes very close.

The answer machine message is brilliant too: (Slightly manic voice) “Hey, Jimmy – this here’s Teeter Skerritt. Remember me? From the Army. I’m stuck here in town. How ‘bout I come over and bunk with you, buddy?”

Ned Beatty, who co-starred in Profit and Loss. 📸 Wikipedia.

My latest article for the Seaside News appears on page 34 of the magazine.

Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in effect closed London’s hospitals because most hospitals at that time were run by the Church.

Henry VIII’s successors re-founded some of these hospitals, although their purpose differed from the hospitals of today. In the seventeenth century hospitals served the poor and destitute; they were places of shelter rather than centres of medical treatment.

Some hospitals specialised. For example, St Mary Bethlehem, pictured, was established for ‘lunatic people’ while St Thomas’ in Southwalk was established for the ‘sick and aged’. 

People of means were expected to pay for their upkeep. However, many hospitals provided the poor with bedding, clothes, food and three pints of ale a day.

Mel Charles was born on 14 May 1935. The brother of the legendary John Charles, Mel was a versatile player. He played as a centre-half, centre-forward and wing-half.

In 1952, Mel turned professional with his local club, Swansea Town. After seven years at the Second Division club, he secured a lucrative move to First Division Arsenal. However, injury blighted his period at the Gunners and, in February 1962, he joined Cardiff City, enjoying a three-year spell with the club. In total, Mel scored 122 goals in 401 league and cup matches.

At international level, Mel represented Wales on 31 occasions, scoring six goals. He captained Wales and was a member of his country’s 1958 World Cup squad. He also represented Wales in the British Home Championship over eight seasons.

In the BHC, Mel scored four goals in a 4 – 0 win over Northern Ireland, becoming only the third Welshman to score four goals in an international game.

One other remarkable fact about Mel: throughout his illustrious career he was never booked or sent off.

Mel Charles 📸 Arsenal.com

Clara Bow was born into a family of alcoholics and psychologically damaged people. Abuse, in all its ugly forms, was common. Clara’s family needed help, but in New York in 1905 few people, and certainly not the authorities, were prepared to offer a helping hand.

Clara’s neighbourhood was a network of slums and brothels, populated by the likes of ‘Submarine’ Mary – her name speaks for itself. House fires were common. Cholera, diphtheria, scarlet fever, smallpox and tuberculosis were rife. Violence was a way of life. 

During the summer heatwave of 1905, the New York infant mortality rate was estimated at eighty percent. Clara’s parents, Robert and Sarah, were convinced that she would die, so they didn’t even bother obtaining a birth certificate.

To understand Clara’s later choices in life, you need to understand where she came from: a hellhole where love was just a four-letter word. 

Welcome to the world, Clara Bow. 

Next week, news about my new project, Tula, plus background information.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #120

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, Eve’s War: Operation Sherlock, in Spanish.

Through my gateway ancestor Barbara Aubrey (1637 – 1711) I am directly related to the Welsh nobility including The Lord Rhys, Yr Arglwydd Rhys, Prince of Wales. A ‘bit of a lad’ The Lord Rhys married twice, had eleven mistresses and fathered at least twenty-four children. A successful leader for over fifty years he was “a man of excellent wit and quick in repartee.”

My ancestor Rev William Aubrey (1573 – 1646) was the rector of Pendoylon parish church. William married Jane Mathews (1580 – 1650), whose line takes my ancestry back to Robert de Vere, the Third Earl of Oxford. Robert was a Surety Baron who witnessed the signing of Magna Carta.

Pedigree chart: Jeremy Crick.

My ancestor Humphrey Mathew (1567 – 1651) owned Castell-y-Mynach a late medieval mansion remodelled in the early seventeenth century and largely refenestrated in the late eighteenth-early nineteenth century. Humphrey married Mary Lewis.

This branch of my family leads to seven Magna Carta Surety Barons: Hugh le Bigod, Roger Bigod, Gilbert de Clare, Richard de Clare, John de Lacy, William de Mowbray and Saher de Quincy.

Looks like Magna Carta was our family gathering 🙂

Image: CBHC

The Iveson/Iverson branch of my family arrived in Britain with William the Conqueror in 1066 – the surname Iveson derives from Ives or Yves the French for yew or bow. Initially, they settled in the north of England, and Scotland. In Scotland they formed the Clan MacIver.

Born in 1586 in Edinburgh my ancestor Abraham Iveson migrated to Gloucester County, Virginia in 1636. He accompanied nineteen other settlers. 

On 17 October 1636 Abraham was listed as a headright for James Vanerit who had acquired 1,000 acres of land in Elizabeth City County, Virginia from a Mr Stafferton. Stafferton was owed the land for providing the transportation of the twenty colonists, including Abraham.

Dated 26 April 1637, a bill of landing listing Joseph Clifton, a London merchant, showed goods conveyed on the Tristan and Jane of London to ‘Abraham Iveson, planter’, and several others. The settlers were in need of home comforts and supplies, which arrived on the trade ships from Britain. In return, those ships carried the planters crops, including tobacco.

Tobacco advertisement, 18th century.

The planers in Virginia were cultivating hay, cotton, wheat, peanuts, barely, but mainly tobacco. Captain Francis Willis owned 3,000 acres of land, four others including Abraham owned 1,000 acres, and fifty-five others owned smaller parcels. 

A patent dated 10 June 1651 stated that Mr Abraham Iveson acquired 655 acres of land on the southwest side of the North River in Mobjack Bay, Gloucester County. As well as a landowner and planter Abraham was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, the elected lower house of the colonial Virginia General Assembly.

Abraham married twice, in Scotland Rebecca Gifford and later in Virginia (after Rebecca’s death), Joan Towson. He had six children: Hugh, Sarah, Richard, Lucy, Elizabeth and Abraham. He died in Virginia, in 1655.

After Abraham’s death, on 9 October 1677, his second wife Joan made a gift of an African slave girl to her grandson William, son of James Kay. William was to receive the slave girl when he came of age, and the children of this slave were to be bequeathed to James’ other children. Witnesses to this transaction were William Kay and Abraham’s son, also Abraham.

The slave trade triangle. Image: Wikipedia.

What to make of Abraham and his family?

At the beginning in the seventeenth century, many Scottish people emigrated to America, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa. These emigrants included freemen who left Scotland to promote trade or to set up military outposts and way stations for merchant ships. They also included people fleeing poverty and religious groups fleeing oppression. Abraham’s status in Virginia suggests that he was in the freeman category.

No surviving documents link Abraham to the tobacco trade, but given the size of his landholding and the fact that tobacco was the main crop cultivated in Virginia it seems fair to assume that he was involved in the tobacco trade. To make money from such a harmful drug is morally dubious, but maybe we can forgive Abraham in this instance because he was ‘of his time’.

Virginia tobacco slaves, 17th century.

You could also argue that his slave ownership was ‘of its time’, but I find that a flimsy argument. By ‘owning’ people and restricting their freedom he knew what he was doing. Maybe he was kind to his slaves – I hope so – nevertheless, he did own them. 

Of my ancestors, Abraham is not alone in owning slaves in America and the West Indies. I will write about these ancestors in due course. Most of the ancestors I write about fill me with pride and I would love to have met them. Even though I’m not sure that I would have liked Abraham, I would have enjoyed talking with him too, if only to hear the moral defence of his position.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #100

Dear Reader,

Some chart news. Operation Zigzag is #1, my thirtieth #1. Also, Operation Sherlock is a top thirty hot new release. And one for the album, Stormy Weather is a hot new release alongside Raymond Chandler and Lee Child. Many thanks to everyone who made this possible.

My article about SOE heroine Virginia Hall appears on page 36 of the Seaside News 🙂

My latest translation, Operation Broadsword in German. Sandra has translated nine of my books. It’s wonderful to work with someone so talented.

Wales and England in 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Source: Find My Past.

The Noulton branch of my family were season ticket holders at the Old Bailey with several generations of the family in trouble with the law.

I’ve just discovered that my 5 x great grandfather James Noulton, aged twelve, was sent to the Royal Philanthropic Society’s School in 1801. Established by gentlemen in London in 1788, the Philanthropic Society was concerned with the caring of homeless children left to fend for themselves by begging or thieving. Those admitted were children of criminals or those who had been convicted of crimes themselves. The school, pictured, moved to Redhill in 1849.

Many of the children were encouraged to emigrate to Australia, Canada or South Africa, or to join the army or navy. This ties in perfectly with my ancestor James because he joined the navy and served in the Napoleonic wars. More details in a future post.

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

Meet my ancestors, my 15 x great grandfather, Sir Rhys ap Thomas (1449 – 1525), the chief Welsh supporter of Henry VII.

Sir Rhys was the third son of Thomas ap Gruffudd ap Nicolas and Elizabeth Gruffydd. Through marriage to Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir John Gruffydd of Abermarlais, Thomas ap Gruffudd ap Nicolas linked his family and thus this branch of my tree to the Welsh princes. 

Sir Rhys ap Thomas

With the Yorkists in the ascendant, as a child Sir Rhys joined his father at the court of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. Father and son returned to Wales in 1467. On the death of his father, who had been predeceased by his two elder sons, Sir Rhys succeeded to the family estate. 

Lancastrian by tradition, Sir Rhys’ family opposed Richard III and made overtures to Henry Tudor while the latter was in exile in Brittany. 

Sir Rhys welcomed Henry Tudor when the latter landed at Milford Haven and used his considerable influence to rally support for the future king, recruiting 500 men. Henry and Rhys’ forces marched separately through Wales before meeting at Welshpool and crossing into England. Chroniclers described Rhys’ Welsh force as by far the most powerful being ‘large enough to annihilate the rest of Henry’s army.’

Source: Wikipedia

On 22 August 1485, Henry’s army supported by Rhys’ followers met Richard III’s army at the Battle of Bosworth. Richard launched an attack, which Rhys’ men repelled. In desperation, Richard and his knights charged at Henry. The king was unhorsed, surrounded and killed. Some sources claim that Sir Rhys personally delivered the death blow to Richard III with his poleaxe. Whatever the truth, Henry knighted Rhys on the battlefield.

Grateful for his support, Henry Tudor bestowed more honours on Sir Rhys, including the offices of constable and steward of the lordship of Brecknock, chamberlain of the counties of Carmarthen and Cardigan, and steward of the lordship of Builth. Through these posts Sir Rhys held all the chief appointments that were in the king’s gift in South Wales. 

Henry Tudor

In support of the new king, Sir Rhys commanded of a troop of horse at the battle of Stoke (16 June 1487), capturing the pretender, Lambert Simnel, and he participated in the expedition against Boulogne in October 1492. 

At the battle of Blackheath (17 June 1497), Sir Rhys took the rebel leader, Lord Audeley, prisoner and was created a knight-banneret. Also, he was present at the surrender of Perkin Warbeck at Beaulieu Abbey in September 1497. For services to the king, he was was made Knight of the Garter on 22 April 1505. 

Carew Castle

Sir Rhys spent his latter years at Carew Castle. There, he held a great tournament to celebrate his admission to the Order of the Garter, inviting all the leading families of Wales. He also updated the castle, adding a gatehouse and windows.

Sir Rhys ap Thomas married twice, first to Eva, daughter of Henri ap Gwilym of Cwrt Henri, and second to Janet, daughter of Thomas Mathew of Radyr and widow of Thomas Stradling of St Donats. He died in 1525 and was buried at Greyfriars church, Carmarthen. 

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #98

Dear Reader,

Through Joyce Alneto and Robert Mansell I have traced my family tree back to Alfred the Great, he who burned the cakes. At least I now know where my gene for burning the family dinner comes from 😄

Currently in production and available soon, Operation Broadsword the third audiobook in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, all narrated by Paula Branch.

America, 1930s. Not a competition for ‘Miss Ku Klux Klan’, but contestants for a ‘Miss Lovely Eyes’ pageant.

Horse-drawn and motorised traffic at the junction of Holborn and Kingsway in London, 1912. My 2 x great grandfather Albert Charles Bick was a car man, a person who drove a horse and cart in this area during this period. Albert transported coal and pipes.

A colourised version of the same picture.

Continuing the story of the Preston branch of my family.

Sir Richard had a son, Sir Richard, whose son Sir John also served in Edward III’s parliament. Sir John was the last of the Prestons to hold Preston Richard and Preston Patrick. Sir John’s daughter, Margaret, married Alan Pennington and he inherited Preston Richard.

Sir John’s son, Sir John, was a judge at the Court of Common Pleas under Henry IV and Henry V. Sir John retired in 1427 due to old age.

The Court of Common Pleas was a common law court in the English legal system that dealt with actions between individuals, actions that did not concern the king. Created at the end of the 12th century, the Court of Common Pleas remained as a mainstay of the legal system for around 600 years. 

Sir John had three children: John, who became a priest; Richard, my direct ancestor; and a daughter who married Thomas de Ros. The de Ros’ feature on another branch of my family tree and they produced Catherine Parr, wife of Henry VIII.

The Court of Common Pleas

Richard Preston married Jacobina Middleton, daughter of John Middleton of Middleton Hall. He added the manor of Under Levins Hall to the family estate and the couple produced my direct ancestor, Thomas.

Thomas married Miss Redmayne, adding Twistleton to the family estate. They produced a son, John, who also married into the Redmayne family. John married Margaret, daughter of Richard, of Harewood Castle and Over Levins Hall.

John and Margaret’s son, Sir Thomas, married Ann Thornburgh, daughter of William Thornburgh, of Hampsfield in Lancashire. Through the Musgrave, FitzWilliam, Plantagenet and de Warren families, Ann’s branch leads to William the Conqueror. Many noble families intermarried so I have several branches that lead to William the Conqueror.

Sir Thomas further enriched the family estate by adding Furness Abbey and Holker Park in Lancashire. Furness Abbey was the second richest Cistercian abbey in England, after Fountains Abbey.

Sir Thomas acquired Furness Abbey thanks to Henry VIII and his dissolution of the monasteries. Sir Thomas’ estates generated an income of £3,000 a year, approximately £2 million a year in today’s money.

Furness Abbey, c1895.

Sir Thomas had three sons and six daughters, including my direct ancestor, Christopher who founded the powerful Preston branch at Holker Hall. The line of Ellen, Christopher’s sister, led to William Morley who discovered the Gunpowder Plot in 1605.

Christopher married three times: Miss Pickering, Margaret Southworth and Anne Jepson. The union with Margaret Southworth produced my direct ancestor, John Preston of Holker Hall. Christopher had a further son and two daughters, and died on 27 May 1594. 

Holker Hall

John Preston married Mabel Benson, daughter of William Benson Esq of Hughill. This marriage brought part of the Preston Richard manor back into the Preston family’s hands. John’s successor and only child was George Preston, my direct ancestor. John died three years after his father, on 11 September 1597, aged 48.

George Preston was a great benefactor of the stately church at Cartmel, Lancashire where the remains of his grandfather, Christopher, and of his father, John, lay buried. He also supported the poor people of Cartmel by arranging apprenticeships. Furthermore, he established a foundation for scholars so that they could attend St John’s College, Oxford.

George died on 5 April 1640, and was buried at Cartmel. His marriage to Margaret Strickland, daughter of Sir Thomas Strickland of Sizergh Castle, Westmoreland, produced my direct ancestor, Elizabeth. Elizabeth married John Sayer, uniting the Preston and Sayer branches of my family.

Memorial to the Preston family, Cartmel Priory

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx