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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #161

Dear Reader,

Some exciting news about Tula. The eBook version is now available to pre-order for the special price of £/$ 0.99. We’ll be doing a major promotional blitz on publication, and after that the price will go up. So, don’t delay, pre-order today 🙂

Chapters 16 – 19 of Tula. To enter an acting competition, Tula needs photographs of herself, but she can’t afford a professional photographer. Her father arranges a card game, and a con, to raise funds for the photographs.

📸 “I’ve Got Him Hooked!”, Colleen Moore, fishing, 1921. Taken by Frank B. Howe (no relation).

From the Lima News, Ohio, October 1928, Clara Bow in The Fleet’s In, a silent comedy. Clara played Trixie Deane, a ‘taxi dancer’. The movie was shot in San Pedro and San Francisco, June 18 – July 16, 1928, and released on September 15, 1928. Most 1920s movies were shot in a month.

The Syracuse Herald, 18 January 1931. A sensational trial that seriously damaged Clara Bow’s health and career. Clara’s secretary was accused of stealing thousands of dollars from her. Clara’s fans didn’t like any of it, and their ‘betrayal’ badly damaged her fragile self-esteem.

November 1924, Clara Bow, 19, second on the bill to Thunder the Marvel Dog in Black Lightning. Clara played Martha Larned, Thunder played himself. Later in her career, Clara wrestled with a huge dog in Call Her Savage. The dog was obviously well trained, but that scene took some courage.

“She was beautiful, but especially she was without mercy.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and the Damned, 1932.

In 1923, aged 18, Clara Bow appeared in Grit, a movie based on a story by Fitzgerald. Clara played Orchid McGonigle. As with all her movies, Clara stole the show.

Grit was Clara Bow’s fifth film. Based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Grit was filmed during June and July 1923 and released on January 7, 1924. A silent crime drama with a romantic subplot, Grit offered Clara a tomboy role, a role that, at that stage of her career, she excelled at. 

With no copies available from any archive, Grit is considered a lost film. In 1925 the British Board of Censors banned the movie for an undisclosed reason.

📸 Clara Bow in a still from Grit

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?

Eva’s great grandfather was Jonathan Saint. This US Find a Grave Index links three generations of the family. I have no idea where this trail will lead, but so far it’s not going cold.

Jonathan E. Saint
Gender:Male
Birth Date:3 Jan 1822
Birth Place:Wayne County, Indiana, United States of America
Death Date:18 Sep 1855
Death Place:Henry County, Indiana, United States of America
Cemetery:Greensboro Friends Cemetery
Burial or Cremation Place:Greensboro, Henry County, Indiana, United States of America
Has Bio?:N
Father:William Saint
Mother:Ashah Saint
Spouse:Emily Grace Johnson
Children:Exelina Cain, Martha A Saint, John Quincy Saint, Mary Ella Baker

I discovered this Quaker marriage record for Jonathan Saint and Emily Grace Johnson, but no other details about the family’s Quaker connections. My next task is to see if I can learn more about the Saint’s association with the Quakers through Jonathan’s father, William.

Counter Gambit, Series 1, Episode 16 of The Rockford Files is a cool caper involving stolen pearls. This episode was written by Howard Berk and Juanita Bartlett. As the series progressed Roy Huggins’ (aka John Thomas James) influence as writer and producer faded. To fill the void the writing duties were shared by a network of writers.

In this episode, Eddie Fontaine made his third appearance as a villain, playing a different character each time. He would reappear as yet another villain in a later series.

The highlight of this episode is Stuart Margolin’s portrayal of Angel, his first appearance since the pilot episode. In total, Margolin portrayed Angel on 32 occasions, winning two Emmy Awards in the process. Rockford observes of Angel, “You make a great informer.” Angel’s response, “It’s a gift.”

Joe Santos also features as Sergeant Becker. The series is now taking shape and developing a pattern for future episodes. Interesting to note that another great TV series of this era, M*A*S*H, also took about sixteen episodes before the producers realised how best to portray their characters and the storylines that flowed from them.

Highest grossing film of 1921: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

A silent epic war film, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is widely regarded as the first true anti-war movie. The film catapulted Rudolph Valentino to superstardom. It also inspired a tango craze and a fashion for gaucho pants.

Based on a 1916 novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, the film-script was written by June Mathis. The movie’s success ensured that she became one of the most powerful women in 1920s Hollywood.

🖼 Lobby card for The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Clara Bow Quotes: “Sitting there alone in the darkened theatre, I studied the movements of my favourites. I did not know good acting from bad, but instinctively something within me revolted at portrayals which, to my mind, were off-key. Alone in my bedroom at night, I would re-act the portrayal, according to my own interpretation, in front of my mirror.”

When you get intertitles like this in silent movies, who needs talkies?

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #160

Dear Reader,

Fonts can suggest an atmosphere and sense of time. With Tula, my novel about an actress, I’m looking to invoke the 1920s, so I’m experimenting with Snell Roundhand and American Typewriter.

Brooklyn Bridge is a location in chapter two of Tula. She goes there to deliver a parcel for her father and notices a cameraman filming. While she’s engrossed in the filming, someone steals the parcel.

At the time of its opening, on May 24, 1883, Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world with a span of 1,595.5 feet.

🖼 Chromolithography of the “Great East River Suspension Bridge” by Currier and Ives, 1883.

Was Clara Bow a good actress? On a human level, this question is irrelevant – Clara dragged herself out of abject poverty and pursued her dream; that’s all that matters. On an artistic level, it would be nice to answer the question, so here’s my opinion.

First, what other people said about Clara’s acting ability. Fellow actress Louise Brooks: “She was absolutely sensational in the United States … in Dancing Mothers … she just swept the country … I know I saw her … and I thought … wonderful.”

In 1981, producer Budd Schulberg described Clara as “an easy winner of the dumbbell award” who “couldn’t act.” Furthermore, he compared her to a puppy that his father B. P. Schulberg had trained to become Lassie.

Director Victor Fleming compared Clara to a Stradivarius violin: “Touch her, and she responded with genius.” Another director, William Wellman said, “Movie stardom isn’t acting ability – it’s personality and temperament … I once directed Clara Bow (Wings). She was mad and crazy, but WHAT a personality!”

While Grace Kingsley of the Los Angeles Times said; “Don’t miss Wine. It’s a thoroughly refreshing draught … there are only about five actresses who give me a real thrill on the screen – and Clara is nearly five of them.”

Clara Bow in Stars of the Photoplay, 1924

Clara Bow didn’t require direction: she required background about a particular scene, then a wise director would light the set and allow her to go with the flow. She understood character, and how to convey that character to an audience, not en block, but with subtle asides that would convey different messages to males and females, to those who would love her character, and to those who would disapprove. The net result: (nearly) everyone loved her performances.

Brought up in the silent era, Clara knew how to convey emotions through facial expressions, particularly through her eyes. Her glances were worth a page of dialogue, while her ability to cry on demand was legendary.

My opinion: Clara Bow was a great emotional actress. She knew how to get inside a character, how to portray a character, and how to connect with an audience. I agree with Victor Fleming – on the silver screen, Clara Bow responded with genius.

***

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?

Eva Marie’s grandfather was John Q Saint, a postmaster from Indiana, living in Iowa in 1900. What did the Q stand for? This document provides the answer, and a whole lot more.

The Q in John’s name stood for Quincy. Furthermore, his parents were Jonathan and Emily, and they were Quakers.

John Quincy Saint
Event Type:Birth
Birth Date:19 Dec 1847
Birth Date on Image:19 1847 Twelfth
Birth Place:Henry, Indiana
Father:Jonathan Saint
Mother:Emily Saint
Monthly Meeting:Duck Creek Monthly Meeting
Yearly Meeting:Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Meeting State:Indiana
Meeting County:Henry

So, my next task is to discover more about Jonathan and identify when his family became Quakers – did they join a Quaker community in America, or were they persecuted Quakers in Britain, seeking a new home?

***

Sleight of Hand, Series 1, Episode 15 of The Rockford Files is different to all previous episodes. The main reason for the difference is Sleight of Hand was based on a novel, Thin Air by Howard Browne. 

This episode is Rockford noir with little in the way of humour. Rockford becomes seriously aggressive on a couple of occasions too, both justified. 

In long-running series, writers are always looking for new angles for their characters, so it’s easy to understand why the Rockford writers were drawn to this story, but did it work as an episode of The Rockford Files?

I reckon the radical nature of this story would divide fans. Some would recognise that the story was built on an interesting premise – a baffling disappearance – while others would appreciate that the story was written for a different main character, a married man.

Georgian London established itself as a place for fashionable living with new streets and squares in Westminster, plus plush palaces for entrepreneurs and aristocrats. It fashioned a society based on exploitation and profit. It became a city without a soul.

Through the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange and a network of coffee houses, fortunes were made – and lost. Money, stocks and shares were king. However, the financial pie is of limited size, and for every big time winner there were scores of big time losers. For every palace, scores of slums blighted the city, and ruined peoples’ lives.

Two new bridges across the Thames linked the north and south of London. The city spread into the countryside. Houses sprang up. The landscape altered beyond all recognition. 

Workshops and manufacturing centres fed the need for essentials, and luxury goods. Breweries quenched thirsts – alcohol was safer to drink than London water – while artisans displayed their skills in pottery and porcelain production, in clock and watchmaking, in furniture making, and in silk weaving.

London was a cosmopolitan place. But, as someone might have said at the time, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Westminster Bridge, depicted by Joseph Farrington, 1789. 🖼 Wikipedia.

Roy Clarke was born on 1 June 1925. A winger, he played professional football for Cardiff City, Manchester City, Stockport County and Wales.

A natural sportsman at school, Roy served his country during the Second World War as a coal miner, digging the ‘black gold’ that kept British industry going, which in turn kept the war effort alive.

In 1942, Roy signed for Cardiff City as an amateur. When league football resumed in 1945, he turned professional. 

Cardiff City won promotion from Division Three (South) in 1946 – 47. In May of 1947, Roy signed for Second Division Manchester City for a fee £12,000. 

At that time, Manchester City secured promotion to the First Division. This meant that Roy achieved the unusual feat of playing in three different divisions in consecutive matches.

Roy secured a regular place in the Manchester City team. Over the next decade he made 349 league appearances scoring 73 goals. He was also an FA Cup winner in 1956. During that match his friend, Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann, broke his neck, but played on.

In 1958, Roy wound down his professional career at Stockport County. On the international stage, he won 22 caps for Wales.

After his retirement from football, Roy became the manager of the Manchester City social club. Along with his wife, Kathleen, he provided an environment for fans, management and players to forge closer bonds. The club ran for nearly 25 years.

***

Independent Press-Telegram, Long Beach, California, October 21, 1950. “Lady Stars Gain Height.”

Highest grossing film of 1920: Way Down East.

A silent romantic drama, directed by D.W. Griffith and starring Lilian Gish, Way Down East is best remembered for its climatic scene in which Lillian Gish’s character, Anna, is rescued from doom on an icy river (pictured).

Way Down East was heavy censored. The Pennsylvania film board demanded over sixty cuts, rendering the story meaningless. The mock marriage and honeymoon between Lennox and Anna had to go, along with any hints of her pregnancy. Other cuts included scenes where society women smoked cigarettes and an intertitle, which featured the words “wild oats”.

Clara Bow Quotes: “When I was ten years old I knew what I wanted – to be a screen star was my idea of heaven. But what chance had I? My family was poor. We lived in a not too pleasing section of Brooklyn, and my only contact with the screen was an occasional visit to a neighbourhood theatre, paying my admission with pennies and nickels earned by taking care of neighbours’ children when not looking after my (sick) mother.”

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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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

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #108

Dear Reader,

The munitions factory at Bridgend, 1942, known locally as ‘The Arsenal’. The factory was of huge significance to Britain’s war effort employing 40,000 people.

The chemicals in the munitions turned many of the women’s skin temporarily yellow. When the Americans arrived in 1944 and dated the women they called them their ‘Welsh daffodils’.

‘The Arsenal’ features in my Ann’s War Mystery Series.

Evening at Tenby this week.

I’ve added a Keats branch to my family tree. Thomas Keats Esq built Sulham House, Berkshire (pictured) c1525. His daughter, Alice, married John Wilder and inherited the estate.

The Wilders arrived from Bohemia in the shape of another John, born 1418. John of Bohemia’s son, Nicholas, fought in the Battle of Bosworth alongside Henry Tudor. After his victory, Henry gifted lands to Nicholas Wilder, which secured the family’s fortune.

Researching Burt Lancaster for my writing, seen here as Dr Ernst Janning in the timeless classic Judgement at Nuremberg. Burt Lancaster, “A liberal with balls.” – Screen Actors Guild president Ed Asner.

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

A Family of Mice

Flash Fiction

Picnic Recipes

Author Features

Travel: Azerbaijan

Independent Bookshops

International Tiger Day

Plus, photography, puzzles, poems, short stories and so much more!

George Wood, my 9 x great grandfather, was born on 12 March 1625 in Bonsall, Derbyshire and baptised on 10 January 1632 while Hannah Quick, my 9 x great grandmother, was born in 1635 in Derbyshire. The couple married in 1658 in Matlock, a fact recorded in the Monyash Ashford Meeting of Quakers.

Quakers, a Protestant group also known as the Religious Society of Friends, established themselves in mid-seventeenth century England. Undoubtedly, the English Civil War had a strong bearing on their creation and beliefs. 

The Quakers based their message on the belief that ‘Christ has come to teach his people himself.’ They stressed the importance of a direct relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and a direct religious belief in the universal priesthood of all believers.

Quakers used thee as an ordinary pronoun. They wore plain dress, were teetotal, refused to swear oaths, refused to participate in wars and opposed slavery. Later, they founded banks and financial institutions, including Friends Provident, Lloyds and Barclays. They also founded three major confectionery makers, Cadbury’s, Fry’s and Roundtree’s.

James Naylor, a prominent Quaker leader, being pilloried and whipped.

A notable difference between Quakerism and Orthodox Protestantism was that many of the early Quaker ministers were women. Quakers were noted for their philanthropic efforts, which included the abolition of slavery, prison reform and social justice.

George’s union with Hannah was his second marriage. Previously, he married Anne who produced three children before her death in 1656. George and Hannah’s marriage also produced three children, including their last born, my 8 x great grandmother Elinor Wood.

The upheaval of the English Civil War left a deep scar on society, which took generations to heal. In some communities Quakers were accepted while in others they were ostracised and persecuted. At the age of 57 and 47 respectively, George and Hannah made the momentous decision to create a new lives for themselves and their children by emigrating to Pennsylvania. They began this hazardous journey on 27 May 1682.

George and Hannah were not a young couple looking to make their mark on the world. Indeed, they were approaching the stage where they could contemplate a quiet life. Yet, they embarked on their Pennsylvanian adventure. This suggests that their commitment to the Quaker cause ran deep and was central to their lives.

William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania and West Jersey, as a young man.

Along with his son-in-law Richard Bonsall, and seven other families – six from Derbyshire – George was a founder member of Darby Township, alongside Darby Creek. The records described George as a yeoman or landowner with 1,000 acres of land to his name. George bought the land from William Penn on 23 March 1682. He also subscribed £50 (approximately £5,725 in today’s money) to the Free Society of Traders. A dam, saw mill and grist mill existed on his portion of the creek, which was obviously a hive of activity.

George was also active within the community, serving on the local Assembly. His fellow settlers elected him to this post in 1683, shortly after his arrival in Pennsylvania. 

Darby Township, Pennsylvania.

Quakers introduced many ideas that later became mainstream in American society, such as democracy in the Pennsylvania legislature, the Bill of Rights, trial by jury, equal rights for men and women, and public education. Furthermore, the Liberty Bell was cast by Quakers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Quaker meetings in Delaware recorded the births, marriages and deaths of the Wood family, including Hannah’s death on 9 March 1687, five years after her arrival, and George’s death on 27 April 1705. George bequeathed his land, buildings, purse, apparel and ‘some books’ to his son, John, while his three daughters, Mary, Elizabeth and Elinor received a shilling each.

George and Hannah’s daughter, Elinor, married Evan Bevan, son of John Bevan and Barbara Aubrey, founder members of the Welsh Tract in Pennsylvania. More about the Bevan family and their lives in Pennsylvania in future posts.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #74

Dear Reader,

My article about SOE heroine Yvonne Cormeau is on page 36 of this month’s Seaside News 🙂

Did you know that the road to the IKEA in Valladolid, Spain is “Calle Me Falta un Tornillo” – “I’m Missing a Screw Street”.

Swans and ducks on a local pond this morning.

The Spanish Civil War. French journalist Raymond Vankers crossed the bridge from Irún, Spain to Hendaye, France to save a baby during the Battle of Irún, 6 September 1936.

Where the Sidewalk Ends, a 1950 noir movie, reunites Dana Andrews with Gene Tierney after the success of their 1944 classic, Laura. Where the Sidewalk Ends doesn’t quite match the class of Laura, nevertheless it is a excellent film with solid performances all round and a tight plot centred on one man’s path to redemption.

Occupied France, 1940. No petrol, so the locals converted their trucks to run on wood and coal.

November 5th was Bonfire Night in Britain. These are thought to be the earliest photographs of a bonfire. They were taken in 1853 by John Dillwyn Llewelyn at Penllergare in Swansea.

The Million Pound House

My ancestors in St Hilary owned Howe Mill, which recently went on the market for well over a million pounds.

I read about Howe Mill in a gazetteer that included this line ‘the Regency finery of Howe Mill’. The Regency refers to the period 1795 to 1837. However, further research revealed this entry, ‘Thomas David of Howe Mill was buried in 1699.’ Therefore, the mill existed in the seventeenth century and the Regency finery must refer to a refurbishment.

Howe Mill ground corn until the end of the nineteenth century. It was active in 1889, but maps published in 1899 list the mill as disused. It is situated within a twelfth century ringwork enclosure that might have served as the caput for the knight’s fee of Llandough. 

Howe derives from the Old Norse, haugr, which means hill, knoll, or mound. The Vikings settled, peacefully, in the Vale of Glamorgan in the ninth century so it is possible that my Viking ancestors acquired land that became a ringwork enclosure then a mill. Before 1699 their descendants sold the mill for a considerable sum of money. 

My St Hilary ancestors were wealthy. I know this because for many generations they held prominent places within the community. From a financial point of view they were lucky, probably because of a Viking who settled in the area and made his home on a piece of prime land.

Sger Beach this week.

My Ancestry

John Howe, my 6 x great grandfather, was baptised on 24 July 1726 in St Hilary, Glamorgan, probably a week after his birth. Sadly, many babies died within a week of their birth so baptisms were often swift affairs.

The son of Joseph and Elizabeth, John became a successful farmer. When Joseph died on 5 July 1742, sixteen-year-old John became the ‘man of the house’ and helped his mother to run the farm.

In 1753, John became a churchwarden, Petty Constable and Overseer of the Poor. Overseers of the Poor were chosen from the ‘substantial householders’ within the community and were elected at the annual vestry. Although elected for a year, they often served multiple terms over many years.

As Overseer of the Poor, John made a payment of £1 17s 6d for the making and binding of bibles, 1s for attending a coroner’s inquest and 7d for a pair of male stockings. He also awarded payments of a few pence to ‘the little boy of whom nothing else is known’.

This is John’s account of 1753, written in his own hand.

Continuing the story of John Howe of St Hilary, my 6 x great-grandfather, a successful farmer, churchwarden, Petty Constable and Overseer of the Poor.

The pivotal period of John’s life arrived in April and May, 1761. On 3 April 1761 he married 39 year old Mary Williams, a widow, also of St Hilary. Then his first son, John, my 5 x great grandfather, was born on 28 April 1761. That’s right, Mary was eight months pregnant at the time of her marriage. On 1 May 1761 John’s mother, Elizabeth, died aged 62. A marriage, birth and death within four weeks. A very stressful time for John.

More children followed at regular intervals: Anne, born 17 March 1763, William, 25 November 1764 and Joseph, 12 October 1767. 

William died on 20 April 1795, aged 19, and Mary followed him three years later, on 8 January 1798. Her burial record is the first entry on the parish register for 1798.

The parish register for marriages reveals that both John and Mary were literate and that John’s cousins, John and Margaret, witnessed the wedding. With his farm, community activities and mother at home, John was probably waiting for the right moment to marry. With his standing in the community, he was an eligible bachelor so Mary, four years older than John, must have been pleased with the match. Equally, she must have possessed qualities that set her apart from younger women. The couple spent 37 years together and I trust enriched each other’s lives.

John died on 23 February 1818, aged 91. For the time, he certainly led a privileged life. And through his family, farm and community activities I sense that it was a rewarding life.

In this month’s issue of our Amazon #1 ranked magazine…

Celebrating the Little Things

Things Children Say

A Young Writer’s View of Our Oceans 

Nature

Poetry 

Art

Classic Movies 

And so much more!

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx