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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #128

Dear Reader,

Some chart news. Operation Cameo, book six in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series, is a top twenty hot new release in Britain. We will publish the book in February 2022. Many thanks to all my readers for their support.

This week I parcelled 84 books to send to the Bodleian Library, Oxford; Cambridge University Library; National Library of Scotland; Trinity College Dublin; The British Library and the National Library of Wales. Publishers have been fulfilling this requirement since 1662. A great tradition 🙂

Researching the Gadsden branch of my family I discovered grocers in London and Newport Pagnell. Further research revealed that earlier they had been traders in Liberia, Nevis and South Carolina. 

Here’s Christopher Gadsden (16 February 1724 – 28 August 1805) an American politician who was the principal leader of the South Carolina Patriot movement during the American Revolution. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress, a brigadier general, Governor of South Carolina, a merchant and the designer of the Gadsden flag. He was also a signatory to the Continental Association and a Founding Father of the United States. 

More about the Gadsdens in future posts.

I reckon I should award the prize for my most exotically named ancestors to Zephaniah Thorpe and his wife Mary Discipline.

The son of Ralph Thorpe and Mary Wakefield, Zephaniah was baptised on 25 April 1790 in Lakenham, Norfolk. He was named after his grandfather, Zephaniah.

Mary Discipline was born on 25 January 1789 and baptised on 1 February 1789 in Heacham, Norfolk. Her parents were Thomas Discipline and Mary Smith.

Zephaniah Thorpe and Mary Discipline married on 22 August 1813 in St Dunstan, Stepney, which indicates that they had moved from Norfolk to London. However, this was a small step before they embarked on an even greater adventure. Before detailing that adventure it is worth noting that Zephaniah and Mary signed their names on their marriage certificate. For a well-to-do man this was common, but for a woman, even one from the middle classes, it was a rarity. Often, women of the age were not taught how to read or write for fear that it would ‘corrupt’ their minds.

In 1829, Zephaniah and Mary found themselves in New York. You would think that emigration was a ‘young man’s game’, but Zephaniah was 39 and Mary 40 when they embarked on their journey. What compelled them to leave? For settlers in earlier centuries religious persecution offered the main motivation, but in Zephaniah and Mary’s case it would seem that a better quality of life was the main factor.

Zephaniah had a skill – he was a sculptor specialising in marble. In the 1830s New York was a developing city with a need for artisans. Zephaniah and New York were made for each other, so he took the gamble and transferred his family across the Atlantic Ocean.

Using a chisel, sculptors would remove large portions of unwanted stone. During this roughing out phase they would work rhythmically ensuring that the stone was removed quickly and evenly. Some artists would carve directly on to the stone while others used a model formed from wax or clay.

An example of a sculpture created during Zephaniah’s era can be found in Green-Wood Cemetery. There is no evidence that Zephaniah worked on this sculpture, but he definitely saw it and maybe it offered him some inspiration. 

The sculpture is called Charlotte Canda (3 February 1828 – 3 February 1845). It’s a memorial to a young debutant, Charlotte, who died in a horse carriage accident on her way home from her seventeenth birthday party.

Stereoscopic view of Charlotte’s memorial by E & H T Anthony.

On 11 April 1838 at the Common Pleas Court in New York, Zephaniah and Mary applied for naturalisation. The application, sponsored by James Bryson, was granted and Zephaniah settled his family in Brooklyn.

Application for naturalisation.

In 1855 Zephaniah was living at Number 59 Ward 7, New York with his wife, Mary, their son, Thomas aged 39, a lodger Bartu Durando a jeweller from New Jersey also aged 39, and granddaughter Josephine A Thorp aged 10.

The street contained families from Canada, Germany, Ireland and Prussia plying their trades as bookkeepers, carpenters, clerks and grocers. A cosmopolitan area. Zephaniah’s son Thomas was also a sculptor. What did father and son sculpt? Probably the great marble columns and artefacts in New York’s burgeoning churches and civic buildings. Certainly, there was plenty of work available because by this time they had been plying their trade for 26 years.

Ten years later, Zephaniah, Mary, Thomas and Josephine were living in Brooklyn, in a house valued at $800. In this census Josephine was described as a niece from Alabama. Ten years earlier the census had described her as a grandchild. Official records are not always accurate, sometimes through accident, other times through design – particularly when people wish to hide something. Often, you need to read between the lines. There is no record of Thomas’ wife, so I’m inclined to believe that she died young and that Josephine was Thomas’ daughter. Certainly, she lived with him throughout her childhood.

New York, c1865, a scene familiar to Zephaniah. Maybe he worked on these buildings?

Zephaniah died in Kings, New York on 9 September 1868 aged 80. He was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.

A Brooklyn directory of 1877 listed Mary as the widow of Zephaniah. It also listed Thomas as a sculptor, living at the same address. Josephine was not listed so it’s fair to assume that she had married and started her own family.

Mary died on 3 September 1876 of pneumonia at 287 Jay Street, Kings, New York. She was buried with Zephaniah in Green-Wood. By this time she had lived amongst the tall buildings of New York for 47 years, a far cry from her birthplace in the flat Norfolk Broads.

Green-Wood Cemetery. Credit: Find a Grave.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #126

Dear Reader,

Some chart news. Operation Zigzag, book one in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series, is #1 on the Amazon charts while Operation Cameo, which I’m currently writing, is a #34 hot new release. Many thanks to all my readers for making this possible.

Through Ellen, born c1320, daughter and heiress of Sir Gilbert Strongbow, I’ve added a Strongbow branch to my family tree. I wonder if this entitles me to free cider 🤔

As mentioned above, Operation Cameo is now available for pre-order. You can find full details here https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Cameo-Eves-Heroines-Book-ebook/dp/B09K82MQNY/

A view familiar to my London ancestors, the Strand looking west towards Trafalgar Square, 1890.

Just asked my youngest son, “What do you want for Christmas?”

“A skeleton.” (He’s thinking of becoming a doctor).

“Where are we going to keep it?”

“The front room.”

Welcome to the Addams family.

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

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Joanna Penn interviewed by Wendy H Jones

Plus…Art, Author Resources, Flash Fiction, New Releases, Photography, Poetry, Puzzles, Recipes, Travel and so much more!

The son of Zephaniah Thorpe and Margaret Entwistle, my direct ancestor Ralph Thorpe was baptised on 14 March 1753 in Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire.

A warper, a common trade in Lancashire with its proliferation of cotton mills, Ralph moved south in the early 1780s and plied his trade in Essex and Norfolk.

A cotton warper oversaw the industrial process of winding threads from various bobbins on to a warp beam, which had one large bobbin at the back of the loom containing all the warp threads. These threads would gradually unwind during the weaving process, producing the cloth. Warping was the second stage of cotton cloth production, following winding.

A warping machine. Image: Wikipedia.

On 9 December 1783, Ralph married Mary Wakefield in Wanstead, Essex. The couple produced six children including my direct ancestor Thomas Thorpe who, on 9 October 1814, married Mary Ann Freeman and settled in Essex.

Mary Wakefield died on 25 February 1796. A few months later Ralph spent some time in St Thomas’ Hospital, London. That the couple were ill at roughly the same time suggests that they were affected by a transmittable disease. One possibility was smallpox.

Ironically, that same year, 1796, Edward Jenner demonstrated that an infection with the relatively mild cowpox virus conferred immunity against the deadly smallpox virus. His research was crucial in the development of the smallpox vaccine, the first effective vaccine against a contagious disease.

Painting by Ernest Board. Dr Edward Jenner performing his first vaccination on eight year old James Phipps, 14 May 1796.

St Thomas’ Hospital originated as an Augustinian infirmary in the twelfth century and was dissolved in 1540. In 1551 the hospital was refounded by royal charter and functioned as a general hospital for the sick-poor, including sufferers of venereal disease. 

Endowments gave St Thomas’ a degree of financial security. Nevertheless, they still charged patients admission fees, a policy that was condemned by the hospital’s critics for limiting the ability of the very poor to access its services.

A central court of governors governed the hospital and they could number over two hundred. These governors were wealthy individuals who gifted £50 each to the hospital.

Old St Thomas’ Hospital, Southwark, 1739. Image: The Wellcome Library.

The original St Thomas’s Hospital survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. However, upgrades were needed and between 1693 and 1720 more than £37,000 was raised in order to create an elegant classical structure around three spacious courtyards. The rebuilt hospital had nineteen wards, including two foule wards for venereal patients and a cutting ward with room for more than 400 patients. Male and female patients were strictly segregated, as were the venereal patients.

The medical staff included physicians, surgeons and an apothecary, who was not allowed to marry or run a private practice. The nursing staff included a matron, sisters and nurses. The sisters and their nurses lived in the hospital and had to be single or widowed. 

St Thomas’ catered for patients with a wide range of medical and surgical conditions although they did exclude people classed as ‘incurable’ or ‘insane’. Patients were not allowed to stay longer than three months, after which time they were deemed incurable. Ralph left St Thomas’ Hospital on 9 June 1796. Therefore, he must have entered a month or so after Mary died.

St Thomas’ Hospital treated large numbers of patients. In 1800 the total number of inpatients was more than 3,200 with a further 4,700 outpatients. In wartime the patients were often supplemented by large numbers of wounded soldiers and sailors.

‘Taking Physic’. Image: The Trustees of the British Museum.

The death rates at St Thomas’ were relatively low, although it must be remembered that the hospital did not admit ‘incurable’ patients. In 1726, 4,873 patients were cured while 392 died, a mortality rate of 7.4 percent. In 1735, 4,688 patients were cured while 307 died, a mortality rate of 6.1 per cent. This pattern of mortality rates continued throughout the century.

The patients could be disruptive with harassment, petty theft and ‘ward wandering’ reported. Some patients ran away before the completion of their treatment, especially venereal patients who were subjected to the deeply unpleasant and extremely painful mercury-based ‘salivation’ therapies.

Having recovered, but without his wife, Ralph returned to Bolton-le-Moors where, on 23 January 1803, he married Mary Holden. Ralph died on 28 August 1826 in Bolton-le-Moors.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #125

Dear Reader,

I’m researching the Cannes Film Festival for Damaged my latest Sam Smith mystery. The film festival began in 1939 as a response to fascism – Hitler and Mussolini had fixed the only international film festival, at Venice, in their favour. 

The first movie premiered at Cannes, on 31 August 1939, was The Hunchback of Norte Dame. The followed day, Hitler invaded Poland and the festival was cancelled.

A sneak preview of Mom’s Favorite Reads’ November 2021 issue, a poem by my youngest son, Rhys. He wrote this poem from scratch in one draft.

A scene familiar to my Bristol ancestors, the Dutch House on the corner of Wine Street and High Street, 1884.

Through my gateway ancestor Barbara Aubrey (1637 – 1711) I’ve traced the Stradling branch of my family tree back to Sir John d’Estratlinges, born c1240 in Strättligen, Kingdom of Arles, Switzerland. He married a niece of Otho de Grandson and they produced a son, my direct ancestor Peter de Stratelinges, before her premature death. Later, in 1284, Sir John married Mathilda de Wauton, but the marriage produced no children.

Strättligen consisted of villages in the possession of the von Strättligen noble family, named after their home castle of Strättligburg. This family, my ancestors, ruled over much of western Bernese Oberland. Strättligburg was destroyed by the Bernese in 1332 and later generations of the Strättligens lost most of their possessions.

The minnesinger Heinrich von Stretlingin in Codex Manesse (fol. 70v), depicted with the arms of the von Strättligen family.

On 20 May 1290, Edward I granted Sir John d’Estratlinges a charter for a weekly market and an annual two-day fair for the Feasts of Saint Peter and Paul, which occurred on 29 June. The fair was held at Sir John’s Little Wellsbourne Manor.

On 3 July 1290, before his departure to Palestine, Sir Otho divided his Irish lands amongst three of his living nephews, including Sir John. Sir Otho’s charter, witnessed by many nobles, granted Sir John the following: 

Castle and Town of Kilfekle

Land of Muskerye

Manor of Kilsilam

Town of Clummele

On 4 May 1292, Henry de Foun quitclaimed a third of the following to Sir John de Strattelinges:

In Warwickshire: 36 messuages, 9 carucates, 9 virgates of land, 3 mills, 7 acres of wood, 15 acres of meadow, plus £51 10s of rent in Walton Deyuile, Walton Maudut, Wellsbourne, Lokesleye, Hunstanescote, Tysho and Ouer Pylardyngton.

In Oxfordshire: 1 messuage, 2 carucates of land, 1 mill, 5 acres of meadow plus £7 rent in Alkington.

In Gloucsestershire: 1 messuage and 4 virgates of land in Shenington.

Because his marriage to Mathilda produced no heir, all the de Wauton estates remained with her when she remarried. Subsequently, they were withheld from Sir John’s son, Sir Peter.

Sir John died c1294. A trusted servant of Edward I, the king cleared all of Sir John’s debts post mortem, ‘in consideration of John’s good service to him.’ Two points to note here: 1. If I had been alive at the time I would have been an opponent of Edward I, and therefore my ancestor Sir John, because of the king’s oppression of the Welsh people. 2. Even privileged nobles like Sir John ran up considerable debts. An example:

On 3 February 1294, John de Stratelinges, deceased, acknowledged in chancery that he owed Henry de Podio of Lucca and his merchants the considerable sum of £200. Edward I covered that debt.

St Donats Castle Door Header. Image: Todd Gilbert, WikiTree.

Sir Peter de Stratelinges, son of Sir John, was born c1260 in Strättligen. He travelled to England with his father and in c1290 married Joan de Hawey, heiress of her brother, Thomas de Hawey. Their marriage produced two children: John Stradling and my direct ancestor Edward Stradling.

Sir Peter was governor of Neath Castle, Glamorgan, Wales. Through his wife’s inheritence, after her brother’s early death, he also obtained the following de Hawey estates:

St. Donat’s Manor, Glamorgan, Wales

Combe Hawey Manor, Somerset, England

Compton Hawey Manor, Somerset, England

Compton Hawey Manor, Dorset, England

In July 1297 Sir Peter was governor of Neath Castle when the king mandated ‘Peter de Straddeleye’ to deliver the castle to Walter Hakelute, ‘with its armour, victuals and other goods.’

The Gnoll and Castle, Neath, 1790-1810 by Hendrik Frans de Cort.

On 1 April 1298 at Westminster, Sir Peter was nominated as attorney for the following men, who were out of the country tending to the king’s affairs:

  1. Otto de Grandson, who had gone to the Court of Rome.
  2. Peter de Stanye (d’Estavayer), who was ‘staying beyond the seas.’
  3. Aymo de Carto, provost of Beverley, who had also gone to the Court of Rome.

As attorney, Sir Peter spent a considerable amount of time in Ireland, up to three years, overseeing his nominators’ affairs. He died c1300 possibly in Ireland. By this time he had acquired lands in Ireland through inheritance.

Through his wife’s inheritance, Sir Peter established the Stradlings in Glamorgan, my home county. Through marriage to other noble houses, they produced links to many of the castles in Glamorgan. It’s ironic that, in the past, I visited these castles without the knowledge that my ancestors used to reside there.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #124

Dear Reader,

I’m researching the Victorian era and my poverty-stricken London ancestors. This is a view of Whitehall from Trafalgar Square, 1839. Produced by M de St Croix, it’s one of the earliest daguerreotype photographs of England, taken when M de St Croix was in London demonstrating Louis Daguerre’s pioneering photographic process during September and December 1839. 

In the foreground is Le Sueur’s statue of Charles I on horseback, and in the distance Inigo Jones’ Banqueting House – practically everything else has subsequently disappeared. The image has been reversed to show the scene as it was, as daguerreotypes only produce reversed views.

My direct ancestor Joan Plantagenet, daughter of Edward I of England and Eleanor of Castile. Joan was born in April 1272 in Akko (Acre), Hazofan, Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Joan has appeared many times in fiction, often depicted as a ‘spoiled brat’.  There is no evidence that this depiction represents her true character, but the myth remains. That’s the power of fiction.

A lovely drawing of St Mary’s, West Bergholt, Essex, in the 1600s and 1700s the parish church of the Fincham, Balls, Clark and Sturgeon branches of my family.

My 4 x great grandmother Mary Ann Thorpe was baptised on 4 August 1816 in Great Braxted, Essex. The daughter of Thomas Thorpe and Mary Ann Freeman, she married Henry Wheeler on 3 November 1844 in St Mary, Lambeth, Surrey.

Mary Ann was Henry’s second wife. He was a petty thief. Also, she was eighteen years younger than him. Why did a young woman marry a far older, disreputable man? We will explore that question later.

A slum in Market Court, Kensington, 1860s.

Mary Ann and Henry produced four children: Mary Ann, Charlotte, Joseph and Nancy, my direct ancestor, who when married at sixteen changed her name to Annie. There was a nine year gap between Mary Ann’s birth and Charlotte’s birth. This pattern replicated Henry’s first marriage to Elizabeth Mitchell where there was a nine year gap between their first two children, Henry and Eliza. That marriage produced five children in total. Why the nine year gaps? Henry’s wives were clearly fertile, but he was not around. Where was he? Read on…

After each marriage and the birth of the first child, Henry resorted to petty crime to make ends meet. The family endured great hardship, extreme poverty, and with new mothers and babies to feed Henry became ‘light-fingered’.

At other times, Henry was no saint. His name features frequently in the criminal records. However, on many occasions he was found ‘not guilty’. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the Wheeler family lived their lives on the fringes of society and mixed with petty, and possibly, hardened criminals.

“Wentworth Street, Whitechapel”, 1872, by Gustave Doré (Wellcome Trust).

In 1845, after the birth of his daughter Mary Ann, Henry served a seven year prison sentence. The Victorians were keen on multiples of seven for their prison sentences, and this pattern extended to periods of transportation as well.

While Henry was in prison, his wife Mary Ann endured a difficult time. On 24 August 1849 it’s possible that she entered St Luke’s asylum. The records are sketchy, so it’s difficult to be certain, but the facts and circumstances fit so I am inclined to believe that she did spend some time in the asylum, maybe due to the burden of her circumstances. 

Or maybe Mary Ann suffered from long-standing mental health issues. It’s possible that those issues made a match with a man her own age unlikely, hence her choice of Henry, the eighteen year older petty criminal. The psychological profile certainly fits. That said, maybe it was a love match. Love can still blossom even in the most dire of circumstances.

Earlier, on 20 September 1848, Mary Ann entered the workhouse, a foreboding institution that was more a place of punishment than support. The Victorian era through the Industrial Revolution generated great wealth, but that wealth was concentrated on a relatively small number of individuals. These people were extremely rich, but they treated the poor with contempt. We can see a parallel in our own times.

Mary Ann left the workhouse on 10 January 1849, but her troubles were far from over. She still had a baby to feed, no husband to call on, and a fight against the diseases poverty brings. For all her troubles Mary Ann was a strong woman and lived to be eighty-six.

Before exploring Mary Ann’s later years, first we must go back in time, to 3 February 1845 when she found herself following her husband’s well-trodden path to the Old Bailey.

A trial at the Old Bailey.

Mary Ann was indicted for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Susan Laws, on the 18 January 1845, and stealing two gowns, value 30s., the goods of Caroline Allen; and one shawl, 6s., the goods of Henry George Steer.

Caroline Allen, a dressmaker, gave evidence: she locked her door and went to bed late. In the morning, she discovered the door open and her possessions gone. She had no knowledge of Mary Ann. She also stated that two families and an old gentleman shared the dwelling-house.

John Robert Davis stated that he was a shopman to Mr. Folkard, a pawnbroker, in Blackfriars Road. On the 18 January, at half-past nine in the morning, Mary Ann pledged the stolen gown at the pawnbrokers and he gave her an inferior duplicate. He reckoned that Mary Ann made three shillings on the trade.

The Pawnbroker’s Shop, 1876. 

Police constable Michael Cregan stated that he visited Mary Ann’s lodging and found the gown and shawl hidden under bedclothes. The court also established that the main door was ‘broken open’ although there were no marks of violence. The conclusion was that someone had used a skeleton key.

Eliza Beale, a fellow lodger, stated that she knew Mary Ann and that she was ‘an unfortunate girl.’ – An observation on Mary Ann’s mental health? Crucially, Eliza added that she came home at four o’clock in the morning when a man and woman asked her if she knew where they could get a bed. She let them into her room. They had a bundle with them, but she did not see them the following morning.

Martha Winfield, the landlady, contradicted Eliza Beale. However, Martha did not live in the house and therefore she was not an eyewitness to the events that night. Her contradiction was based on opinion, not on fact.

Verdict: Not Guilty.

In her closing years, as a widow, Mary Ann lodged with other elderly people. Over her eight-six years she certainly witnessed the darker aspects of London life. She also witnessed a period of dramatic change. At no stage was Mary Ann’s life easy. But she battled through and her life stands as a testimony to the human spirit.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #121

Dear Reader,

I’ve received messages asking me when Operation Cameo, book six in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series, will be available. I’m pleased to say that the book will be listed on all major platforms as a pre-order later this month.

The earliest photograph to feature people. The Boulevard du Temple 1838 by Louis Daguerre. Because the exposure lasted for several minutes the moving traffic in the busy street left no trace. Only a shoe polisher and his client remained in place long enough to appear on the printed image. Sam mentions this in my latest Sam Smith mystery, Damaged.

Summer 1915, C Company, The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, Number Nine Platoon. This picture includes my 2 x great grandfather Albert Charles Bick. 

On 25 September 1915 the Royal West Surrey Regiment engaged in the Battle of Loos, which resulted in 80% British casualties, including Albert, when the generals gassed their own men.

A State Lottery was recorded in 1569. The tickets were sold at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, pictured c1560.

A poem written in Welsh c1920 about my 2 x great grandfather William Howe. Lines include: ‘He deserves all the praise he receives’. ‘A Christian in his warm home’. ‘William Howe is a godly saint for getting us all to pray again in the chapel with the children’. ‘We will enjoy a big feast at the Sunday School’. ‘We will sing his praises when we meet in heaven’.

My latest article for the Seaside News appears on page 36 of this month’s magazine.

I’ve traced the Bick branch of my family back to the fifteenth century. They settled in Badgeworth, Gloucestershire and lived there for hundreds of years. My branch of the family moved to London in the Victorian era, but you can still find Bicks in numerous numbers in Gloucestershire.

Unfortunately, the records for the Bicks of Badgeworth are not extensive, but I have uncovered a few nuggets of information that add details to my ancestors’ lives.

The surname Bick is of Dutch and German origin. It derives from the Middle Dutch and Middle High German word bicke meaning pickaxe or chisel. The name was associated with stonemasons and people who worked with pickaxes and chisels.

It’s likely that the Bicks arrived in Gloucestershire from the Netherlands or Germany in the early Middle Ages. My branch of the family feature in many land deeds during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These deeds indicate that they farmed land as yeomen. However, they were never described as ‘gentlemen’, which suggests that there was no link with the gentry.

Bick sons married the daughters of the following families: Meek, Fawkes, Spring, Blush, Izod and Netherton. Evocative names. These families were also of the yeomen class. The name Fawkes suggests a link to the infamous Guy Fawkes. However, Guy was from York and it is unlikely that my ancestor, Jane Fawkes, was closely related to him.

From the land, my Bick ancestors became innkeepers, running coaching inns. George was a popular name over four successive generations. George ‘the second’ – 22 October 1668 to 3 June 1738 – was an innkeeper in Badgeworth. Some of the Bicks left wills, but they are difficult to read and those that are legible contain only basic details of modest inheritances for sons and daughters.

The Bick ancestor who captured my attention was Thomas Bick, born 1575 in Badgeworth. He died in 1623 of the ‘pest’, also known as the pestilence or plague. The plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which mainly infects rats and other rodents who become the prime reservoir for the bacteria.

Seventeenth century plague doctor with protective mask and clothing.

The Pestilence was a bubonic plague pandemic that occurred in Afro-Eurasia from 1346 to 1353. The plague created religious, social and economic upheavals with profound effects for the inhabitants of the time. It also drastically altered the course of European history.

Further waves of the plague swept over Europe throughout the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. Certain years were more blighted than others, including 1623 the year that Thomas died. That bout of the pestilence lasted until 1640. It reoccurred again in 1644–54 and 1664–67. 

The 1664 to 1667 episode was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague to occur in England. In 1665-66 it swept through London producing the ‘Great Plague of London’. Then, in September 1666, the ‘Great Fire of London’ destroyed the city. Some people speculated that the fire killed the pestilence, although records suggest that the disease was already on the wane. My London ancestors were caught up in the ‘Great Fire of London’, but more about them in future posts.

London 1665.

As we know to our cost, when we abuse nature and animals we create pandemics. Our ancestors did not have the scientific knowledge to appreciate this, but we do; there is no excuse.

Along with the pestilence, our ancestors died from a range of diseases and illnesses. Here is an example from 1632 with a few definitions.

Cut of the Stone – The surgical removal of a bladder stone

French Pox – Syphilis

Jawfaln – Locked jaw

Impostume – An abscess

King’s Evil – A tuberculous swelling of the lymph glands

Livergrown – Liver disease, possibly caused by alcoholism 

Murthered – Murdered

Planet – To be stricken with terror or affected adversely by the supposed influence of a planet

Purples – Purple blotches on the skin caused by broken blood vessels, indicative of an underlying illness, such as scurvy

Rising of the Lights – A condition of the larynx, trachea or lungs

Tissick – A cough

Tympany – Bloating

The saddest entry on this list, and the largest in number, is chrisomes and infants. Chrisomes refers to a baby less than a month old, which indicates that the start could often be the most dangerous period of a person’s life.

Stay safe. Wishing you well.

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.

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 🙂