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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #134

Dear Reader,

A lovely start to the year. Damaged, my latest Sam Smith mystery, published 15 January 2022, is a #60 hot new release 🙂

My direct ancestor, Jeanne de Navarra de Champagne (14 January 1273 – 2 April 1305, a bold, courageous and enterprising woman who led an army against the Count of Bar when he rebelled against her. It’s thought that Jeanne, like far too many of my ancestors, died in childbirth.

My direct ancestor, Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd (1090 – 1137). With her husband, Gruffydd ap Rhys, an outlaw who distributed wealth to the poor, ‘like Robin Hood.’ Academic Dr Andrew Breeze argued that Gwenllian wrote the Mabinogion, the tales that influenced Lord of the Rings.

The January 2022 issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads…

Author Features, Genealogy, Poetry, Puzzles, Recipes, Seasonal Articles, Short Stories, National Pharmacist Day and so much more!

My ancestor, Christopher Gadsden (16 February 1724 – 28 August 1805) was an American politician and the principal leader of the South Carolina Patriot movement during the American Revolution. Furthermore, he was a delegate to the Continental Congress, a brigadier general in the Continental Army, Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, a merchant, the designer of the Gadsden flag, a signatory to the Continental Association and a Founding Father of the United States.

Christopher Gadsden. Portrait by Charles Fraser.

The son of Royal Navy officer Thomas Gadsden, Christopher was born in 1724 in Charleston, South Carolina. After service in the Royal Navy, Thomas became a customs collector for the Port of Charleston, hence the family association with the area.

Christopher was schooled in England. He returned to America in 1740 and served as an apprentice at a Philadelphia counting house. When his parents died in 1741, he inherited a large fortune, which made him financially secure for life.

Between 1745 and 1746 Christopher served as a purser on a British warship during King George’s War. In 1747, he developed his mercantile ventures and a few years later he built Beneventum Plantation House. 

Slavery was common practice amongst plantation owners in South Carolina. Although Christopher was ambivalent towards this barbarity, nevertheless he did keep and trade in slaves.

As Christopher Gadsden’s businesses prospered, he invested in projects such as Charleston Wharf. Between 1767 to 1787 and 1803 to 1808, it is estimated that forty percent of enslaved people (about 100,000) were brought to America through this wharf.

The Gadsden flag

Christopher was captain of a militia company during a 1759 expedition against the Cherokee. He was first elected to the Commons House Assembly in 1757 and immediately clashed with the autocratic royal governors. His stance brought him to the attention of Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, which resulted in a long correspondence and friendship.

Christopher Gadsden became one of the founders and leaders of Charleston’s Sons of Liberty. In February 1776, South Carolina President John Rutledge named him a brigadier general in charge of the state’s military forces. He played an active roll in the military, often to great personal financial cost.

In 1778, Christopher was a member of the South Carolina convention that drafted a new state constitution. That year he also served as lieutenant governor, stepping down in 1780.

When the British besieged Charleston in 1780, John Rutledge, as president of the council, fled to North Carolina to ensure a ‘government in exile’. However, Christopher remained and representing the civil government he surrendered the city and was taken as a prisoner of war.

As a prisoner of war, Christopher spent forty-two weeks in solitary confinement in a prison room at the old Spanish fortress of Castillo de San Marcos. Gaining his freedom in 1781, he helped to restore South Carolina’s civil government.

Christopher Gadsden was returned to South Carolina’s House of Representatives. He was elected as the governor, but due to poor health sustained during his imprisonment, he declined. In 1788, as a member of the state convention, he voted for the ratification of the United States Constitution.

The Gadsden house in Charleston (Wikipedia).

In 1798, Christopher built an imposing house at 329 East Bay Street in Charleston, a house that remained in the family for more than a century. He married three times and had four children with his second wife. He died, the result of an accidental fall, on 28 August 1805, in Charleston, and was buried in St Philip’s Churchyard.

Christopher Gadsden was born into privilege. A capable and principled man, he achieved a great deal in his life. He was a man of his times and some of his attitudes look dubious today. 

The world of politics is murky at the best of times, and politics was Christopher’s world. To his credit, he wasn’t a populist. Even when it disadvantaged him personally, he stood up for his beliefs, and I feel that history should commend him for that.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

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

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 #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

#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

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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 #117

Dear Reader,

My latest translations, The Olive Tree: Leaves, Sins of the Father, Smoke and Mirrors, and Mind Games, all in Portuguese.

Just discovered that my 7 x great grandfather Thomas Hopkin lived to be 96 (1730 – 1826). He lived in Hutchens Point, Nottage, Glamorgan. On 29 May 1762 he married Catherine Rees from St Athan.

In the 1980s, Douglas Adams wrote a book, The Meaning of Liff, in which he applied humorous definitions to place names. He included Nottage: items you store in your shed for years, decide to throw out, only to realise that you need them a week later.

From 1918, ’Marriage Advice to Young Ladies’ from a ‘Suffragette Wife’.

Original pamphlet: Pontypridd Museum, Wales.

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

An exclusive interview with author, playwright and journalist Tim Walker featuring his meetings with a range of movie stars

Short Stories

Poetry

New Releases 

Travel

Activities 

Author Resources 

And so much more!

Around twelve years ago this was the first branch of my family tree that I explored in detail.

My 3 x great grandfather Thomas Jones was born to Thomas Jones, a coal miner, and Mary Morgan on 16 July 1843 in Laleston, Glamorgan. Thomas and Mary were not married at the time. This is a common discovery I have made for many of my Victorian ancestors and I will elaborate further in a future post.

Thomas’ wife and my 3 x great grandmother Hannah Morgan (the names Hannah, Morgan and Jones reoccur a lot in my family; indeed, four of the first sixteen branches start with a Jones) was born on 30 July 1848 to Richard Morgan, an ostler, and Margaret Jones in Tythegston, a small village near Laleston. You can read Richard and Margaret’s story here https://hannah-howe.com/ancestry/ancestry-13/

In 1851 Thomas was living with his parents in Laleston along with his three year old sister Ann and his grandmother, Jennet Morgan. Jennet was a widow at this time. Meanwhile, Hannah was living in Tythegston with her patents, four siblings, three lodgers and her grandmother, Mary.

Bridgend, 18 June 1850, a picture commemorating the opening of the railway station.

Ten years later Thomas was employed as a servant at Broadland House, Laleston. The owner of Broadland House, at the time, was Charles Drummond, a Londoner, an ‘esquire’, who later moved to Somerset. Drummond died in Somerset in 1888 leaving £2,500 11 shillings in his will.

Broadland House was set in 70 acres of land and the farm employed five servants, including Thomas, who worked as a ‘cow boy’. Mention of cow boys conjures up images of the Wild West. However, Thomas’ work was more prosaic, milking and feeding the animals. Twelve years old, Hannah was still at school and it’s likely that the couple had yet to meet.

That changed a few years later and on 22 February 1868 Thomas and Hannah found themselves walking down the aisle in Ruhama Baptist Chapel, Bridgend. There is a large church in Laleston so presumably Hannah chose the venue.

A child soon followed, my direct ancestor, Thomas. At the time of Thomas’ birth the landscape around Laleston was changing dramatically with the arrival of the railways and the development of coal mines. Thomas left the land to work in a coal mine and this ushered in a period of transience for the family as they moved from village to village seeking employment.

In 1881 the family found themselves in Llandyfodwg near Bridgend. Now with five children, Thomas and Hannah lived in Cardigan Terrace. The street name is revealing and indicates that it was established when a number of families settled in Llandyfodwg to work on the land and in the local coal mines. These families originated from west Wales. They were joined by families from the West Country of England. 

The west Walians and the locals spoke Welsh while the people from the West Country spoke English. Over time, a period of twenty years, many Welsh speakers became bilingual. However, few of the English people learned Welsh.

No pictures of Thomas Jones or Hannah Morgan exist, but this is their son, Richard Morgan Jones.

Each change of address for Thomas and Hannah represented a move of only a few miles. The baptismal records of their children allow us to chart their movements: Laleston, Newcastle, Llangeinor and Llandyfodwg, all within a five mile radius of Bridgend. 

Within this transience records were lost and Hannah disappeared from history. A death record dated 1881 pointed to Hannah. However, when examined in detail it revealed a different Hannah Jones (her married name, of course). My Hannah’s death was not recorded, or more likely it was lost.

Hannah definitely died before 1891 because at that time Thomas was a widow. He’d moved to Llantrisant, the home town of Hannah’s grandparents. Maybe he moved there to be closer to his extended family.

In 1891 Thomas was still working in the coal mines. His working life  represented stark contrasts: the early years spent in the open air, the latter years spent working in the dark. Both occupations offer a certain romanticism: the pastoral beauty of the countryside, the camaraderie of men working in life-threatening conditions, their existence reliant upon each other.

In 1891 Thomas and his three children, Thomas, Richard and Margaret, lived in Dinas, Llantrisant. Like their father, Thomas Jr and Richard were coal miners while fifteen year old Margaret was their housekeeper. Margaret’s childhood effectively came to an end when her mother died as she assumed the role of ‘woman of the house.’

Thomas’ street contained thirty people. All the men were coal miners. Twenty-three of those people spoke Welsh, six spoke English and only one was bilingual. 

After 1891, like Hannah, Thomas disappeared from the historical record. It’s probable that he died in May 1898.

Bridgend coalfield: Bryndu Colliery.

While at work Thomas diced with death, every day. At random I have selected ten Joneses who worked alongside Thomas in the local coal mines. The brief notes that follow record their fate.

Thomas Jones, aged 22: killed by falling from a byat while moving a stage in the shaft.

Evan Jones, aged 14: killed by a full train passing over him.

William Jones, aged 38: killed when the mineshaft roof fell.

William Jones, aged 37: killed by a fall of coal.

William Jones, aged 16: killed by a fall of coal.

Richard Jones, aged 34: killed when the side of the pit gave way.

David Jones, aged 45: killed when the mine roof collapsed.

Thomas Jones, aged 48: killed by an explosion of firedamp, one of two people killed.

David Jones, aged 26: killed by a gas explosion, one of eleven people killed.

Lewis Jones, aged 12: run over by trams through breakage of coupling chains.

Bridgend coalfield: Aberbaiden Colliery showing the entrance to the slip.

Did my Thomas die in a mining accident? It’s possible, but there is no record. More likely he died from the illnesses associated with working in the coal mines, particularly ‘the dust’, aka emphysema, a cruel illness that smoothers the sufferer. 

Ancestors like my 3 x great grandfather Thomas worked and died so that Victorian society could prosper and a few select men could become obscenely rich. It’s a lesson from history we have yet to learn. Today, rich men pollute the planet and massage their egos by jetting into space. Meanwhile, many of their workers live and die in poverty. We must hope for a wiser generation, our children’s generation, that will look into the past, learn the lessons, and create a better future for us all.

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 🙂