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Dear Reader

Dear Reader # 143

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, the Spanish version of Looking for Rosanna Mee, Sam Smith Mystery Series book seventeen.

I’ve been revisiting the Howe branch of my family tree, making some minor corrections and uncovering some amazing stories, including a murder and three female Howes who joined the Pioneer Trail in the Wild West of America. More about them in a future post. But first, to start at the beginning…

The Howes of Glamorgan first appear in the historical record in the 1600s with John Howe, born c1640, of St Hilary. He was the father of my 8 x great grandfather, John Howe. The Hearth Tax of 1670 and later records show that around 150 people lived in St Hilary, with Welsh the dominant language.

St Hilary Church c1900 (People’s Collection Wales).

In 1675 the Welsh Trust established a school in St Hilary. It’s possible that my 7 x great grandfather Joseph Howe, born c1690, attended this school. Certainly, he was literate. In 1678 ten children attended the school, making it the smallest in the county. Education was provided by the vicar and churchwardens, in English and Welsh.

The Vicarage, St Hilary c1900 (People’s Collection Wales).

c1711 my 7 x great grandfather Joseph Howe married Elizabeth (surname unknown). The couple produced four children: Elizabeth, Dorothy, Mary and my direct ancestor John. Sadly, Dorothy died when only nine days old.

Joseph died in July 1742. He was buried on 5 July 1742. That year, ten people died in St Hilary. Five children were baptised while the parish register recorded only one marriage.

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 births 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 helped his mother to run the farm. He didn’t marry until 1761, a month before his mother died.

From the National Library of Wales, the tithe map of St Mary Church Parish, St Hilary. The Howe family farmed thirty-three fields on this map, twenty-six arable and seven meadow. They also owned Howe Mill.

In the eighteenth century St Hilary was a small, close-knit farming community with a population of around 150. It was self-contained and regulated its own affairs. The church remained the focal point for the religious and social life of the village. Dissenting voices were nonexistent. Then, in 1748, my ancestor Priscilla Howe (a name that reoccurs throughout the generations) registered a meeting house for Quakers and literally ‘shook things up’.

St Hilary. People’s Collection Wales.

In 1753, my 6 x great grandfather John Howe 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.

The pivotal period of my 6 x great grandfather John Howe’s life arrived in April and May, 1761. On 3 April 1761 he married 39 year old Mary Robert, a widow with two children. 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. 

From the age of sixteen John had run his mother’s farm. He was probably waiting until she died before he married, but with Mary eight months pregnant he couldn’t wait any longer.

With his standing in the community, John was an eligible bachelor so Mary, four years his senior, must have been pleased with the match. Equally, she must have possessed qualities that set her apart from younger women. The couple had four children and spent 37 years together, and I trust enriched each other’s lives.

John died on 23 February 1818, aged 91, a remarkable age in any era. And through his family, farm and community activities I sense that he lived a rewarding life.

St Hilary parish church (Wikipedia).

Next week, more about the Howes, including a murder.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Sam Smith Mystery Series

Dear Reader #138

Dear Reader,

I’m delighted with this insight in a review for Damaged because it sums up my vision for the series. “Sam is a very compelling modern day female film noir detective. That I realize is a bold statement. Sam surrounds herself with good people and manages them incredibly well.”

Published on 27 February, Operation Cameo, Eve’s War book six, is a top thirty hot new release 🙂

My latest translations, the Spanish and Portuguese versions of The Olive Tree: Leaves. A Spanish Civil War Saga. I’ve worked with Ana on a number of translations and she’s great to work with. Nelson was excellent too, and great to have the series available in Spanish.

My latest article for the Seaside News appears on page 48 of the magazine.

My 8 x great grandfather John Cotterell (1718-75) was a ‘Chinaman and Glass Seller’. Here’s his trade card from 1752. John sold ‘a great variety of glasses, old as well as new china and lacquered wares with various sorts of fine teas, coffee, chocolate and snuff, Indian fans and pictures, etc. Wholesale and Retail at the lowest prices’.

My 8 x great grandfather John Cotterell’s store, selling a variety of items imported from India, was located at the ‘Indian Queen and Canister against the Mansion House’, pictured shortly after John’s time (1718-75). The exact address was 9 Mansion House Street. John’s business appeared in the trade directories for over thirty years.

We all have favourite relatives and the same is true of ancestors. My 4 x great grandmother Jane Esther Axe is one of my favourite ancestors. An educated woman, Jane was born on 10 October 1812 and baptised on 15 August 1813 (a long gap between birth and baptism) in St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, pictured.

The church is mentioned in the line “When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch” from the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons while the crypt beneath the church is the final resting place of many actors from the Tudor period.

My 4 x great grandparents William Stokes and Jane Esther Axe posted their marriage banns in April and May 1835. However, something cropped up because they cancelled the marriage and posted the banns again in August and September. They married on 20 September 1835.

I have a strong sense that my 4 x great grandmother Jane Esther Axe was a well organised woman who knew what she was about. She had four children in six years, but after the age of thirty, no more, which suggests birth control. And despite having five brothers, she was the executrix of her father’s will.

My 4 x great grandfather William Stokes was a corn meter. Corn meters had the exclusive right of measuring all corn delivered within the city and port of London. They were the link between the cargo ships and the markets. Image: William’s workplace, the Customs House on the Thames.

4 Nov 1857. My 4 x great grandfather William Stokes’ son, William Fredrick, aged 21, is awarded ‘The Freedom of the City of London’, which meant he had the right to trade in the City and become a member of a guild or livery company.

The electoral register for 1862, which featured my 4 x great grandfather William Stokes. As a property owner, he was one of only one million men in England and Wales eligible to vote (out of seven million). The Reform Act of 1867 doubled that number. The Tories introduced the Act thinking it would be a vote winner, but they lost the 1868 general election.

The Stokes branch of my family, from Pangbourne, Berkshire, were  carpenters for hundreds of years, the family business passing from father to son. In 1794 and 1795 my 5 x great grandfather Richard Stokes took on two apprentices, William Reeves and William Smith, which suggests his business was doing well.

The poll books of 1796, when my 5 x great grandfather Richard Stokes was twenty-one, and tax register of 1798 reveal that he owned land and therefore was one of the relatively few people in the country eligible to vote. The records also reveal that Richard lived next door to the Monkhouse family. On 15 May 1797 he married their daughter, Martha.

My 6 x great grandfather Richard Wilder Stokes was born on 10 October 1742. A carpenter, he died shortly before his 34th birthday. He didn’t leave a will, which suggests his death was sudden, maybe the result of an accident in his carpentry workshop?

A year later, Richard’s widow, Sarah, married John Challis, a member of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, later renamed the Grenadier Guards. Sadly, Sarah died sixteen months after the wedding.

Beyond the basic dates: born 12 October 1712 in Pangbourne; married Lucy Wilder 17 February 1736, also in Pangbourne; died 7 July 1776, once again in Pangbourne, nothing is known of my  7 x great grandfather Thomas Stokes. The same is true of his father, Thomas: only the dates survive. Born 21 August 1681; married Katherine Whittick 14 July 1707; died 4 June 1754, all in Pangbourne. So, we move on to my 9 x great grandfather, William Stokes.

The will of my 9 x great grandfather William Stokes, carpenter of Pangbourne, shines a light on his times. The will dates from 23 October 1727. 

“I give my loving son Thomas (my ancestor) all those my four Acres of Land lying and being in the parish of Whitchurch in the County of Oxon and all other my lands in the said County of Oxon to hold to him, his heirs and assignes for ever immediately after my decease and ten pounds in money.”

“I give to my son William Stoakes thirty pounds in money. I give to my said son William the Table that stands in the Kitchen of the house wherein I now dwell the Cupboard and the Bedstead.”

“I give to my Son John Stoakes ten pounds in money.” 

“I give to my Daughter, the Wife of Samuel, Mary Wright twenty pounds in money. All the rest and residue of my household goods and other goods (ready money excepted) not herein before bequeathed I give to and amongst my said four Children, Thomas, William, John and Mary share and share alike.”

“I give to my Granddaughter Mary Stoakes daughter of my said Son William ten pounds in money to be paid by my Executor herein after named att her age of twenty one years or day of marryage which shall first happen and in case my said Grandaughter dye before that time then I give the same ten pounds unto my Grandson David Stokes her brother att his age of one and twenty years.”

“I give to my two Grandchildren William Stoakes and John Stoakes sons of my said son John Stoakes five pounds apeice in money to be paid also att their respective age of twenty one years and if either of my said last mentioned two Grandchildren dye before that time then I will that the part or portion of either of them so dying shall be paid to the survivor of my said two last mentioned Grandchildren and if both happen to dye before that time then I give the said five pounds and five pounds to and amongst such children or child (if but one) of my said son John as shall be then living att the time of their decease share and share alike.”

“I give to my Grandaughter Sarah Wright five pounds in money to be paid also att her age of one and twenty years or day of marryage and if she dye before that time then I give the same five pounds to her sister Mary Wright.”

“I give To my two Grandsons William Stoakes and George Stoakes Sons of my Son George Stoakes deceased five pounds apeice to be paid also To them att their respective age of one and twenty years but If either of them may said two last mentioned Grandsons dye Before that time then I will that the part or portion him so Dying shall be paid to the survivor of them attaining that age.”

“All the rest and residue of my Estate whatsoever not herein Before bequeathed I give and bequeath unto my said son William Stoakes whom I do hereby make and Ordaine full and sole Executor of this my Will.”

William left £12,500 in today’s money. I find it interesting that, as a carpenter in Pangboune, he owned land in Oxon. I suspect that he inherited that land, which points towards the Stokes family’s roots.

My 10 x great grandfather Thomas Stokes was born on 5 May 1626 in Whitchurch, Oxon. He married Jane Deane on 10 February 1651 in Caversham, Oxford and died on 16 December 1682 in Tilehurst, Berkshire thus confirming the Stokeses connection between Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

In the 1600s, through civil war, religious conflicts and plagues records were often lost or destroyed, so unless you can connect to an established pedigree identifying ancestors becomes harder. 

Thomas Stokes married Jane Deane in 1651 and there is a suggestion that the Deane family were one of the earliest settlers in America, but that requires further research. In 1736, another Thomas Stokes married Lucy Wilder. An established pedigree does exist for the Wilder family, so my next task is to see where my ancestors fit into that pedigree.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #135

Dear Reader,

Cover reveal for Sugar Daddy, Sam Smith Mystery Series book twenty, due for publication later this year. This story is about an unscrupulous businessman who lures a student into prostitution and the brink of suicide. Sam isn’t impressed and sets out to nail the bastard.

My latest genealogy article for the Seaside News appears on page 48 of the magazine 🙂

My latest translation, the Italian version of Sam’s Song, available soon. And the good news is Stefania has agreed to translate more books in my Sam Smith mystery series 🙂

On 18 April 1887 my grand aunt Elizabeth Middleton was accused of ‘receiving’. It’s likely that she came into contact with stolen goods at a London market. This was common at the time. Also common for the time, the case was dismissed.

I’ve researched the Aubrey branch of my family tree back to Saunder de Sancto Alberico, aka Aubrey, of Normandy. He arrived with William the Conquerer in 1066. Earlier, he produced a son, Sir Reginald Aubrey, born c1060, who married Isabel de Clare. The de Clare family produced William the Conqueror so it’s clear that all these noble families were close.

Sir Reginald was a member of an army commanded by Bernard Newmarche. This army fought the Welsh c1093 in the Brycheiniog (Brecknock) region of Wales. After numerous battles, Newmarche granted Sir Reginald the manors of Abercynrig and Slwch. Unrest continued, so Newmarche’s forces stayed at his castle in present day Brecon until the early 1100s. By that time, through their land-grab, the Aubreys had established themselves in the Brecon Beacons.

The line continued through another Reginald to William. Marriages to other noble families, such as the Gunters, ensured that the Aubreys consolidated their position in society then prospered. William produced a son, William, who produced a son, Thomas, born c1190 in Abercynrig. A hundred years after their arrival in Brecon, the Aubreys were now one of the leading noble families.

The Aubrey Manor House

Five Thomases take us to Richard Aubrey, born c1350 in Abercynrig. Abercynrig Manor in the parish of Llanfrynach is located just over a mile north of Llanfrynach village and just over two miles southeast of Brecon. Aubrey ownership of the manor house is listed as follows:

Reginald Aubrey, born c1095

William, born c1125

William, born c1160

Thomas, born c1190

Thomas, born c1220

Thomas, born c1255

Thomas, born c1285

Thomas, born c1315

Richard, born c1350

Walter, born c1380

Morgan, born c1410

Jenkin, born c1435

Hopkin, born c1465

William, born c1480

Richard, born c1510

Dr William Aubrey, born 1529

Sir Edward Aubrey, born c1550

Sir William Aubrey, born 1583

The succession of father to son was broken in the 1550s when Richard Aubrey sold Abercynrig to his cousin Dr William Aubrey, an anti-Puritan lawyer and judge.

William Aubrey, born c1480, disinherited his sons Morgan and John, my direct ancestor Richard therefore inheriting. Morgan went to London where he established a trade in salt and silk. This made him a wealthy man. Later, he moved to Herefordshire, took over the estate of Clehonger, and established a cadet branch of the family.

Dr William Aubrey was born in 1529 at Cantref, Brecknockshire, the second son of Thomas Aubrey MD and Agnes Vaughan. He was educated at Christ’s College, Brecon, then Oxford. He entered  Oxford c1543 and obtained a degree in 1547. Two years later he was made a Bachelor of Civil Law and five years after that a Doctor of Civil Law.

Dr William Aubrey

After a distinguished career at Oxford, Dr William Aubrey became a prominent member of the group of Welsh civil lawyers who played a notable role in ecclesiastical, judicial and diplomatic affairs during Elizabeth I’s reign. 

John Aubrey, the seventeenth-century antiquary, left an account of his great-grandfather, William, praising his ‘rare skill and science in the law’, and ‘sound judgment and good experience therein.’

John described William as of ‘medium build and somewhat inclining to fatness of visage, with a grave countenance and a delicate, quick, lively and piercing black eye.’

Although he lived most of his life in London or Kent, William considered himself a Welshman. He bought land off family members and became one of the largest landowners in Brecon. Indeed, he was able to ride ‘nine miles together in his own land.’

Through his Welsh and English lands, William acquired an income of £2,500 a year, approximately £350,000 a year in today’s money. He wrote, ‘God of his goodness hath very plentifully bestowed upon me.’

An engraving of Dr William Aubrey’s monument by Wenceslaus Hollar. William’s six daughters and wife are depicted on the bottom, along with two of his sons. It is not known why his third son was not depicted.

William married Wilgiford and the couple produced three sons and six daughters. He died on 25 June 1595 and was buried at Old St Paul’s on 24 July. It’s suggested that his chief clerk, his ‘loving and trusty servant’ Hugh Georges, proved the will on 29 July, then ran away to Ireland with the money. Antiquary and great-grandson John Aubrey stated somewhat tersely, “Georges cosened (deceived) all the legatees.”

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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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 #132

Dear Reader,

This week, Sam’s Song received its 800th review. I can still recall my sense of wonder at reading the first review. Someone actually liked the book and gave it five stars 😱 Sam’s Song was supposed to be a one-off. Nineteen books later…

My direct ancestor, Philippa of Hainault 24 June 1310 – 15 August 1369, Queen of England, wife and political advisor of Edward III. More importantly she was popular because of her compassion. This is an ancestor I can definitely relate to.

Many of my London ancestors worked on the River Thames. Here’s a scene from 1895.

My direct ancestor, Isabelle Capet born 1292 in Paris, died 22 August 1358 in Hertford Castle. Isabelle was noted for her diplomatic skills, intelligence and beauty. She also overthrew her husband, Edward II, and embarked upon an affair with Roger Mortimer. A feisty woman.


The Gadsden branch of my family were millers, travellers, traders and latterly grocers. And in John Gadsden they were involved in ‘Popish plots’.

In 1650 a report stated that John Gadsden, a miller, possessed ‘a very ill character and is a very dangerous person and was very busy in a Popish Plot.’ He left his home ‘for fear of being taken up upon some matters against the government.’ However, he was easily found, betrayed by neighbours, and the deputy took him into custody. John’s fate was not recorded, but his death on 18 August 1666 in Newport Pagnell suggests that he survived that immediate crisis.

John’s son, Richard, my direct ancestor, was born on 6 July 1613 in Stoke Goldington, Buckinghamshire. In Newport Pagnell on 28 October 1633 Richard married Catherine Wright. The couple produced six children.

Around this time various members of the Gadsden family were travelling and trading in America and the West Indies. Some sources suggest that Richard died in St Kitts and Nevis, c1690.

French map of Nevis, 1764.

In 1690, a massive earthquake and tsunami destroyed the city of Jamestown, the capital of Nevis. The damage was so extensive that the survivors abandoned the city. It’s reputed that the whole city sank into the sea. To date, I have not been able to establish whether Richard witnessed this earthquake or was a victim. It’s possible that this might be a family legend with no basis in truth. Before stating the story as true I would like to discover more evidence. Colonial and shipping records show that the Gadsdens were definitely in the region during this period, but more research is required.

Richard and Catherine’s son, William, my direct ancestor, was born on 30 July 1642 in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire. William married Mary Nicholl on 6 January 1668 in Stoke Goldington, Buckinghamshire. The couple produced eight children.

Again there is a suggestion that William died abroad, in 1691 in West Nimba, Liberia. What was he doing in Liberia? To answer that question, we need to look at Liberia’s history.

Map of Liberia, c1830.

Portuguese explorers established contacts with people living in what later became known as Liberia in 1462. They named the area Costa da Pimenta, the Pepper or Grain Coast, because of the abundance of melegueta pepper, a highly desired spice in European cooking.

In 1602 the Dutch established a trading post at Grand Cape Mount, but this was destroyed a year later. In 1663, the English established new trading posts on the Pepper Coast and it would appear that William was involved in them. Again, before confirming this as fact more research is required, but the patterns of the Gadsden’s lives and their interest in trade suggests the tale might contain a grain of truth.

The above generations of the Gadsdens illustrate the fascination and frustration of genealogy. The fascination is there on a personal level because these people are my ancestors and also as a storyteller I’m entranced by their stories. However, sometimes there are gaps in the historical records, which makes definitive proof impossible to find. Sometimes it’s tempting to follow this quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, ‘When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.’ As a storyteller, this appeals to me. However, as a social historian I like to base my family stories on fact.

After John, Richard and William Gadsden, we move on to firmer historical ground with Christopher, Robert and William. Their stories also involved travel, to America and Australia, and they featured in dramatic trials at the Old Bailey. More about them in future posts.

*****

My next blog post will appear after Christmas Day, so I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a healthy and happy Christmas with this Christmas card from 1876.

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

Don’t forget to use the code goylake20 to claim your discount 🙂