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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #155

Dear Reader,

“Comic book characters never grow old, evergreen heroes whose stories are told.” – Bernie Taupin. It seems to me that every actor has a ‘perfect’ moment, a moment you remember forever. Eva Marie Saint was 98 recently, but I’ll always think of her as 35 in North By Northwest.

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

The River Thames was, of course, central to London’s development. The dockyards and shipbuilding thrived, and both industries employed a number of my ancestors. Two of London’s most important dockyards were Deptford and Woolwich, with their strategic positions on the Thames.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries corruption in the dockyards was rife. Clerks and labourers were badly paid. Consequently, they cheated the system by falsifying records and siphoning-off goods. Samuel Pepys tried to combat the corruption by introducing new systems of record-keeping, to no avail.

Pepys also reformed the navy and made it more professional. He introduced improved standards for ship construction – which affected the shipbuilding Stokes and Wilder branches of my family – victualling, discipline, officer training and seamen’s welfare. Seamen’s hospitals, like the one in Greenwich, were built, and in later life some of my naval ancestors spent their final years there.

🖼 Samuel Pepys, portrait by John Hayls, 1666.

In Pursuit of Carol Thorne, Series 1, Episode 9 of The Rockford Files is a neat episode where a group of cons try to out-con each other while looking for stolen loot. John Thomas James aka series co-creator Roy Huggins outlined this story. He used this stolen loot motif in another of his successful series, Alias Smith and Jones.

Rockford’s father, Rocky, appears in this episode, but it’s interesting to note that attorney Beth Davenport and Sergeant Dennis Becker are yet to feature regularly. The series was still finding its feet at this stage.

The Rockford producers tried to shoot ten pages of script a day. James Garner appeared on most of those pages, which indicates how hard he worked on The Rockford Files.

This week’s answer machine message was a good one: “This is the Message Phone company. I see you are using our unit, now how about paying for it?

📸 James Garner with Lynette Mettey, who played Carol Thorne.

Len Allchurch, born 12 September 1933, enjoyed a distinguished footballing career, which spanned nearly twenty years. During that time he represented Sheffield United, Swansea Town and Stockport County. 

Born in Swansea, and the brother of the legendary Ivor Allchurch, Len also won eleven caps for Wales and was a member of his country’s 1958 World Cup squad.

📸 BBC

In 1950, at the age of seventeen, Len began his professional career with Swansea Town. In March 1961, for a fee of £18,000, he signed for Sheffield United. Len scored six goals in eight games and helped his new club to clinch promotion. 

Over the following three seasons, Len scored 37 goals in 140 appearances for Sheffield United before, in March 1965, transferring to Stockport County. His transfer fee: £10,000, making him the most expensive signing in the club’s history.

Eventually, Len’s career turned full circle and he ended his professional days at his home club, Swansea Town.

Len enjoyed many highlights during his long and distinguished career, but perhaps this remains the most remarkable fact: he did not receive a single caution or booking throughout his entire Football League career.

***

Operation Zigzag, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE, book one, has returned to the top of the Amazon charts. Many thanks to everyone who has made this possible.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #151

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, the Dutch version of Operation Locksmith, Eve’s War, Heroines of SOE book two.

Tall Woman in Red Wagon, Series 1, Episode 5 of The Rockford Files is a ‘flashback’ story with Rockford recalling events after a bullet-inducing concussion. 

Rockford’s printing press appears in this episode. One of the main features of The Rockford Files was the way Rockford teased information out of various people by impersonating numerous officials, his credentials always supported by cards freshly minted by his printing press.

There is no neat ending to this episode. I like that format and sometimes use it in my stories. In the main, readers and viewers like the author to wrap up all the lose ends, but in real life lose ends often roll on, and on…

📸 A still from Tall Woman in Red Wagon.

The Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed 436 acres of land and made thousands of people destitute. The fire began on Sunday 2 September 1666 in Thomas Farriner’s bakery on Pudding Lane. By 7 am 300 houses had burned down.

The fire raged for four days consuming 13,200 houses, 87 churches, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Guildhall, and 52 livery company halls. Amazingly, the death toll did not reach double figures. However, the fire did make 100,000 people homeless.

London in 1666 was a tinderbox. Timber houses crowded the narrow streets. A dry summer had parched the ground. On the morning of the fire, a strong easterly wind fanned the flames, which leapt from building to building.

Each parish was equipped with axes and hooks to pull down buildings and create firebreaks. However, the fire was so intense that most people grabbed their belongings, tossed them on to boats and fled via the river. Others ran for the city gates.

Looters ran riot. Charles II travelled through the city on his horse, imploring people to fight the flames. The Lord Mayor, Thomas Bludworth, dithered fearing that if he ordered people to pull down their houses, they would respond with compensation claims.

From Pudding Lane, the fire spread to warehouses, then Cheapside, London’s principal street, then St Paul’s Cathedral. John Evelyn reported that the cathedral’s stones exploded like grenades, while molten lead flowed like a stream.

The fire reduced 80% of the city to ruins. For days, the ground was too hot to walk on. Without familiar landmarks, people wandered around, lost. Many camped in nearby fields. 

Charles II, and many Londoners, blamed the fire on an Act of God. Sin was its source, particularly the sin of gluttony. The reasoning for this? – The fire started in Pudding Lane. Indeed, an enquiry concluded that the fire was an accident, delivered by the Hand of God.

Thomas Farriner, the baker, escaped the fire. England was at war with France and the Netherlands at the time so, looking for a human scapegoat, the population persecuted a Frenchman, Robert Hubert, a man who suffered from mental health problems. 

After a trial, the authorities hung Hubert. However, evidence later proved that Hubert’s ship arrived in London after 2 September 1666. 

My ancestors – adults, children, babies – experienced the Great Fire. That horror must have remained with them for the rest of their days.

🖼 Painted in 1675, the Great Fire of London (artist unknown). This scene depicts the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666. To the left is London Bridge; to the right, the Tower of London. Old St Paul’s Cathedral is in the distance, surrounded by the tallest flames. The accuracy suggests that the artist had local knowledge.

Welsh Football Legends

Derek Tapscott was born on 30 June 1932 in Barry, Wales to Stanley and Florence Tapscott. He was one of sixteen children. 

Derek attended High Street Junior School. Upon leaving school he worked as a delivery boy for a butcher, an assistant to a television repairman then as an apprentice bricklayer.

At a time of National Service, Derek received his call in October 1950. He joined 4 Training Regiment of the Royal Engineers. At 18 Derek was already playing for Barry Town and the Royal Engineers granted him permission to link-up with the club on match days. During his National Service, Derek became a member of the drill staff and was promoted to the rank of corporal. 

After his National Service, Derek returned to bricklaying. His appearances for Barry Town continued. His skill caught the eye of the Tottenham Hotspur scouts and they invited him for a trial. However, Derek didn’t sign for Tottenham Hotspur. Instead, in October 1953, he joined their rivals, Arsenal. His transfer fee: £4,000.

Derek began his Arsenal career with a prolific run in the reserves, scoring 13 goals in 15 matches in the London Combination League. On 10 April 1954, he made his first-team debut against Liverpool and scored twice. He scored five more goals in five further matches that season.

During the 1954-55 season Derek established himself in the Arsenal first team. In 1955-56 from inside-forward he became the club’s top scorer, a feat he emulated the following season. He scored 21 and 27 goals respectively. 

European competition, in the form of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, beckoned. On 4 May 1956, Derek played for a London XI that defeated a Basel XI 1 – 0. 

Manchester United’s final domestic match before the tragic Munich air disaster was against Arsenal. That game developed into a nine-goal thriller with Manchester United taking the honours, 5 – 4. Later, Derek described the game as “the best I ever played in.”

Derek’s 1957-58 season was blighted by injury and he lost his first team place to Vic Groves. This resulted in a move, in September 1958, to Cardiff City. The transfer fee: £10,000. Derek left Arsenal with the impressive record of 68 goals in 132 matches.

Derek made his Cardiff City debut in a 4–1 win over Grimsby Town. The club continued to record impressive results and in 1960 they 

won promotion to the First Division. During this period, Derek scored six goals during a 16 – 0 victory over Knighton Town in the Welsh Cup, a club record.

Derek featured in Cardiff City’s first venture into European competition. He played in the team that reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup scoring the winning goal against Sporting Clube de Portugal in the second round.

Further injuries curtailed Derek’s appearances for Cardiff City. At the beginning of the 1965-66 season he joined Newport County. However, he left that club at the end of that season and moved into non-league football where he played until his retirement in 1970.

On his retirement, Derek could look back at successful spells with Arsenal and Cardiff City, for whom he scored 102 goals in 234 appearances. He could also look back at an illustrious international career, representing Wales.

After only one appearance for Arsenal, Derek was named in the Wales squad for a match versus Austria. He made his debut on 9 May 1954 in Vienna. Austria won 2–0. Nine consecutive appearances followed as Derek established himself in the Wales team.

Derek scored his first international goal on 22 October 1955 during a 2–1 win over England. In the 1959 British Home Championship he scored in the final two matches of the competition, against England and Northern Ireland. From 14 appearances for Wales, Derek scored one other goal, at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham on 23 November 1955 against Austria. 

After football, Derek worked for sports goods companies Gola and Diadora. He published his autobiography, Tappy: From Barry Town to Arsenal, Cardiff City and Beyond, in 2004.

Derek died on 12 June 2008. In 2012, Barry Town inducted him into the club’s Hall of Fame.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #147

Dear Reader,

Published this week, The Olive Tree: Fruit, book four of five in my Spanish Civil War Saga.

The blurb:

Christmas 1937. A respite from the fighting allows time for celebrations, and for passions to ignite.

Volunteer nurse Heini Hopkins can deny her feelings no longer: she is attracted to handsome surgeon, Dr Miguel Martinez. However, her love for International Brigades Volunteer Deiniol Price remains strong. What should she do? Which way should she turn?

Meanwhile, author Naomi Parker wrestles with her feelings for the Condor Legion’s ace pilot, Prince Nicolas Esteban. She also falls under suspicion as Luis Rodriguez, the Minister of Propaganda, hunts for a spy in his camp.

Book four in The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga places Heini on the frontline where she battles to save Deiniol, and her heart.

My latest translation, the Spanish version of Operation Cameo, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE book six.

Last week, I started rewatching The Rockford Files. This week, after the pilot episode, the series started with The Kirkoff Case, a good story by John Thomas James with some great one-liners in the teleplay by Stephen J Cannell: Rockford to a thug, “Does your mother know what you do for a living?”

James Woods guest starred and, if anything, was underused. This episode featured more physical violence than later episodes. It also featured a great ‘flicked cigarette’ gag. Overall, an enjoyable episode, but I think the confession at the end, as portrayed in a newspaper headline, went against James Woods’ character: Larry Kirkoff didn’t seem the type to confess.

This week’s answer machine message: “Jim, it’s Norma at the market. It bounced – you want us to tear it up, send it back, or put it with the others?”

Not a relative, but this is touching. The death record of Sarah Slumbers of Drury Lane, 10 February 1833.

It’s always nice when you discover your ancestors’ signatures because they offer an insight into character. My 6 x great grandparents William Wright and Margaret Woodhouse’s signatures, 24 July 1757. Margaret was literate. I get a sense that this branch is leading somewhere…

My 7 x great grandfather Thomas Woodhouse owned a brewery. He was a ‘servant of St Mary’s, Lambeth’, supplying that part of London with ale. On 28 November 1728, Thomas married Mary Fitzherbert. The Fitzherberts go back to medieval times, so nobility is a possibility, if the records exist.

I’ve traced the Woodhouse branch of my family tree back to Droitwich, Worcestershire. My 9 x great grandfather, John Woodhouse, a ‘gentleman’, died on 21 September 1685. However, before his death he arranged for his son, also John, my 8 x great grandfather, to become an apprentice with Lawrence Fullove, a Quaker and distiller, based in London. 

John’s apprenticeship started on 19 April 1687, his fifteenth birthday, and was set for seven years. However, Lawrence Fullove died on 26 September 1689 leaving John without a master.

On 15 July 1690 John’s apprenticeship was turned over to George Vale of the Distiller’s Company. John completed his apprenticeship and established a brewery in St Mary’s, Lambeth, which was inherited by my 7 x great grandfather, Thomas Woodhouse.

A touching memorial to my 7 x great grandmother Mary Fitzherbert and her daughter Elizabeth, commissioned by her husband, Thomas Woodhouse. The ornate nature of the memorial suggests that Thomas’ brewery business was doing well. And the coat of arms connects to the nobility.

Dorset Quarter Sessions, 1729. A payment of 2 shillings 1 1/2 pence made by my 8 x great grandfather Mr William Fitzherbert for maintenance of the highways in the parish of Chidiock.

In 1717 as a popish recusant, my 8 x great grandfather William Fitzherbert forfeited his estates. A common theme with my ancestors: in love, religion and politics they stood up for what they believed in. They didn’t take any bullshit from anyone, especially the government.

Welsh Football Legends

Leigh Richmond Roose was born on 27 November 1877 in Holt near Wrexham. A goalkeeper, and a celebrated amateur at a time when the game was largely professional, Leigh Roose was regarded as one of the best players in his position during the Edwardian era.

Raised by his clergyman father after his mother’s untimely death, Leigh Roose left school in 1895 and attended Aberystwyth University. He also studied medicine at King’s College London, but did not qualify as a doctor.

A big man at over six feet tall and thirteen stone, Leigh Roose began his footballing career in 1895 with Aberystwyth Town. He earned great praise during this phase of his career. Indeed, the eminent Welsh historian Thomas Richards referred to him as Yr Ercwlff synfawr hwn – ‘This wondrous Hercules’.

From Aberystwyth Town, Leigh Roose went on to play for Stoke, two spells, Everton, Sunderland plus several guest appearances for other clubs, including Celtic, Aston Villa and Woolwich Arsenal. Leigh Roose retained his amateur status throughout his club career. However, he did cash-in on expenses.

On the international stage, Leigh Roose played for Wales, in 1900, in a 2 – 0 victory over Ireland. He won 24 caps in total, in an international career that spanned eleven years. The highlight of his career arrived in 1907 when Wales won the British Home Championship for the first time. Because Wales did not play their first international match against an overseas opponent until 1933 all of Leigh Roose’s games were played against England, Scotland or Ireland.

Leigh Roose used his physical presence to intimidate his opponents. He was powerful, recklessly brave and the possessor of amazing reflexes earning a reputation as a shot-stopper and penalty saver.

Leigh Roose was an eccentric and anecdotes about his behaviour appeared frequently in contemporary newspapers. One anecdote stated that in March 1909 he travelled with Wales to play against Ireland in a British Home Championship match. At Liverpool station he appeared with one hand heavily bandaged and informed the waiting press that he had broken two fingers, but would still play.

News of Leigh Roose’s disability reached the Irish fans and they turned out in huge numbers in anticipation of witnessing an Irish victory. Instead Wales won the game 3–2 with Leigh Roose playing superbly. Leigh Roose’s injury had been a ruse, his broken fingers a practical joke.

Injury, in the form of two broken wrists, did curtail Leigh Roose’s career. Nevertheless, he remained a celebrity, the ‘David Beckham of his day’. When a newspaper invited its readers to select a World XI to face another planet, they chose Leigh Roose as the World XI’s goalkeeper by a large margin.

Leigh Roose led a glamorous life. He wore Saville Row suits and owned an apartment in central London. He was popular with the ladies including, it is said, with musical hall star Marie Lloyd.

Although well above the age of recruitment, Leigh Roose joined the British Army at the outbreak of the First World War. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in France and Gallipoli. Later he returned to London and enlisted as a private in the Royal Fusiliers. He served on the Western Front and transferred his fearless attitude on the football field to the battlefield winning the Military Medal for bravery. 

His citation read: “Private Leigh Roose, who had never visited the trenches before, was in the sap when the flamethrower attack began. He managed to get back along the trench and, though nearly choked with fumes with his clothes burnt, refused to go to the dressing station. He continued to throw bombs until his arm gave out, and then, joining the covering party, used his rifle with great effect.”

Promoted to the rank of lance corporal, Leigh Roose fought in the Battle of the Somme. Tragically, he was killed towards the end of the battle, on 7 October 1916, aged 38. His body was not recovered, so his name appears on the war memorial to missing soldiers at Thiepval.

You can read more player profiles here https://hannah-howe.com/sixty-four/

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 #145

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, the Portuguese version of Operation Cameo, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE, book six.

The Howes in America 

Jane Jenkins was born on 24 August 1806 in Marcoss, Glamorgan. A seamstress, she married William Howe, brother of my 4 x great grandfather John Howe, on 7 May 1833 in St Brides, Glamorgan. The couple produced five children. William, a shopkeeper, died on 1 August 1848, and Jane’s life took a dramatic turn.

On 15 December 1851 Jane married William Williams. In February 1866 Jane’s mother, Ann David, died and this appears to have been the catalyst for the dramatic change because, aged sixty, Jane set off for a new life in America.

On 6 July 1866 on the ship Arkwright, Jane set sail for New York. She travelled with her husband, William Williams, William’s grandson, William (Billo) Johns, Eliza Davis, Mary Gibbs, Hugh Morris, John Tardy, William Lewis and his wife Rachel.

From New York, the company travelled in cattle cars to Canada and by boat to Niagara Falls, Chicago, then on to Wyoming and Utah. They departed New York on 25 July 1866 on ‘Daniel Thompson’s Church Train’ and followed the pioneer trail before arriving at Salt Lake City on 27 October 1866. 

Jane’s husband, William Williams, died on the journey, on the plains near Old Fort Kearney. A widow for the second time, she married David Evan Davies on 22 June 1867 in Salt Lake City. Jane lived a further twenty-two years in Utah before her death on 22 December 1889.

My ancestor Cecilia Howe was born on 13 September 1840 in Wick, Glamorgan. Cecilia was a very popular Howe name that featured over many generations. She married Lewis Griffiths on 14 November 1863 in Bridgend, Glamorgan and on 6 April 1867 she gave birth to twins, Lewis and William. Sadly, Lewis died a day later and William died a day after that. 

Cecilia’s husband, Lewis, died on 16 August 1867 when she was two months pregnant. She gave birth to the exotically named Lorenzo Louis Griffiths on 19 March 1868. Thankfully, he survived. A widow with a baby, Cecilia didn’t allow the grass to grow under her feet. She decided to join her mother, Jane Jenkins, in America, arriving in New York on 28 July 1868 before travelling to Salt Lake City.

Cecilia married John Davis Reese on 20 December 1869 in Salt Lake City and in eleven years the couple produced six children. A Welshman from Merthyr Tydfil, John was twenty-five years older than Cecilia.

John Davis Reese

John Davis Reese was a blacksmith and a Mormon. His first wife Mary Morgan had a stillborn child when changing steamers from the Constitution to the Highland Mary. He also married Jane Morgan in 1852, Zillah Mathias in 1857 and Cecilia Howe in 1869. Between his four wives he fathered twenty-seven children.

John returned to Wales as a missionary in 1868. He died on 19 March 1880 in Malad City, Oneida County, Idaho making Cecilia a widow again.

Cecilia didn’t remarry. She died on 7 August 1932 in Benson, Utah aged ninety-one.

Idaho 1918, Cecilia Howe with her son, grandson and great grandson.

My ancestor Anne Howe, sister of Cecilia, was born on 6 February 1843 in Wick, Glamorgan and baptised in Wick on 5 March 1843. Her father, William, died when she was five. At sixteen, she worked as a servant for a solicitor, Thomas Stockwood. Many solicitors moved to Glamorgan in the 1840s to deal with coal mining and railway contracts.

1864, probably taken to commemorate Anne’s twenty-first birthday.

In the 1860s Anne Howe found herself in London. What was she doing there? I believe she was working as a governess for George Crane, a schoolteacher, painter and glazer. George was a widower with four children.

Anne married George Crane on 1 February 1868 in Chelsea, London. Exactly nine months later she gave birth to her first daughter, Mary Ella, in Salt Lake City. Anne was five months pregnant when she set sail with George and his children on 30 June 1868. The family sailed from Liverpool on the SS Minnesota and arrived in New York on 13 July 1868.

George, at a young age, was left alone in England when his parents emigrated to Galt, Canada. They decided that their son should remain in England and complete his apprenticeship as a painter and glazer. 

In 1854 George married Emily. The couple lived in London where George worked. Emily died when her youngest child was six weeks old. Grandparents looked after George’s children until he established his relationship with Anne Howe.

In 1868 upon their arrival in America, Anne Howe, her husband George Crane and his children were given berths in cattle cars for their trip west. Each family was allotted beds and a space to prepare their meals. They travelled with the John R. Murdock Company and completed their 430 mile journey from Laramie, Wyoming to Salt Lake City in covered wagons and on mules and foot. Anne was seven months pregnant at the time.

Anne Howe and George Crane

On 28 October 1868 Anne gave birth to a daughter, Mary Ella, the first of six children. Sadly, only Mary Ella and her sister, Maud Estella, survived into adulthood.

The family stayed in Salt Lake City that winter. George worked on the Utah Central Railroad and the Union Pacific until Leland Stanford drove the Golden Spike on 10 May 1869. Then George moved his family to Kanosh, Utah, where he resumed his career as a schoolteacher.

George was a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. In 1879 he was called on a mission to England. He returned home to Anne in November 1880. 

George held many offices in Millard County including county commissioner, and president and director of the Kanosh Store. Active in the church, he also acted in plays and organised a dramatic society in Kanosh.

Chief Kanosh

As pioneers, one wonders what Anne and George’s relationship was like with the indigenous population. Apparently, it was good because George befriended Chief Kanosh and spoke at his funeral. 

Anne and George were prominent members of their community and a newspaper report carried news of Anne’s ill health. Sadly, the newspaper’s good wishes were in vain and she died on 2 July 1895 aged fifty-two.

*****

From next week a new look for my weekly newsletter. To celebrate Wales qualifying for the football World Cup in Qatar, after a sixty-four year wait, over the summer months I will be profiling players from the past. I will also be featuring insights into the iconic TV series The Rockford Files, along with highlights from my family history research and news of my books.

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 #144

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, the Dutch version of Operation Zigzag, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE, book one.

My latest article for the Seaside News.

John Howe, my 5 x great grandfather, was baptised on 28 April 1761 in St Hilary, Glamorgan. He was one of only ten children baptised in the village that year, including a set of twins. John’s parents were farmers so he spent his formative years learning the business of farm management.

John Howe married Cecily Lewis on 1 January 1785 in Cowbridge, Glamorgan. Cowbridge was the nearest market town to John’s home in St Hilary and it’s likely that he met Cecily there during a social event connected to the market.  

Cecily was born in Cowbridge in 1764 and it was the custom that marriages took place in the bride’s parish.

The interior of Holy Cross Church, Cowbridge (People’s Collection Wales).

Like his father before him, my 5 x great grandfather John Howe was an Overseer of the Poor. In 1797 he paid 2s 6d to ‘Ten men in distress coming from the sea.’ The Vale of Glamorgan coast is beautiful, but dangerous due to hidden rocks.

Le Vainqueur, which sank off Sker Rocks on 17th December 1753.

Taxes greatly affected the direction of the Howe family. In 1798, my 5 x great grandfather John Howe featured in the Land Tax Redemption register for St Hilary ten times (out of twenty-seven entries). Most people featured once while John’s brother, William, featured twice. 

John wasn’t ‘Lord of the Manor’, that title fell to the Bassets (although their influence was on the wane), but he was certainly ‘Mr St Hilary’.

The Land Tax became a permanent charge on the land in 1798 and was fixed at 4/- in the pound (20%). However proprietors were given the option to pay a (considerable) lump sum or purchase government stock to free themselves from future liability.

By 1799, the Napoleonic wars had taken their toll on Britain. The British royal treasury was running out of money to maintain the royal army and navy. Soldiers were starving and His Majesty’s navy had already mutinied. For Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, the solution was simple: impose an income tax.

Under the Act of 1799, all citizens who earned above £60 were to pay a graduated tax of at least one percent. Those with an income of over £200 were taxed ten percent. Some people regarded the tax as a patriotic duty while others complained. 

I don’t know what John Howe thought of the taxes, but it seems they were the reason why he moved his family ten miles west to Coity breaking the Howe connection with St Hilary, which had lasted over 200 years.

After 49 years of marriage, Cecily died  on 7 May 1834, aged 70 while John died on 4 February 1835, aged 73. The couple are buried together in Coity.

John and Cecily’s grave in Coity.

On Wednesday 4 April 1787 Cornelius Gordon and his wife Mary Bevan were gardening, and arguing, at their house in Crichton, Llanrhidian when Mary collapsed. A servant, Thomas Westley, and a neighbour, Elizabeth Long, helped Mary to bed. She slept while Cornelius continued his gardening.

The following morning, Cornelius told his servant Thomas to get Mr Thomas Williams, surgeon and apothecary, from Swansea. Surgeon Williams arrived at Crichton to find Mary dead. Relatives arrived. Accusations were made.

On Friday 6 April 1787, Gabriel Powell, Coroner, summoned twenty-four ‘honest and lawful men’ and held an inquest into Mary’s death. Evidence was taken. The servant, Thomas, “didn’t see anything” while Surgeon Williams stated that “the deceased did not die from a violent blow.”

A second surgeon, Thomas Sylvester, supported Surgeon Williams. The coroner’s inquest concluded that Mary died ‘by the visitation of God’, and she was buried the following day. However, Mary’s family were not happy and they intervened.

On Tuesday 10 April 1787, Rowland Pritchard, a Justice of the Peace, ordered Charles Collins, a surgeon from Swansea, to exhume and examine Mary’s body. He discovered a fractured skull, consistent with a violent blow, possibly caused by a spade. 

Surgeon Sylvester changed his tune and supported Surgeon Collins. Servant Thomas was questioned. His statement revealed that Cornelius had struck his wife about the head, and that during their marriage they had ‘frequently had words’.

Cornelius Gordon was tried four days later, found guilty, and sentenced to death. He was hanged on Stalling Down, Cowbridge, on 20 April 1787, a fortnight after the murder. This was the last hanging to take place at Stalling Down.

In the mid-1800s a Mrs Howe (first name sadly not recorded) spoke to David Jones an antiquarian. She said that as a young child she was taken up to Stalling Down to witness the execution of Cornelius Gordon.

Mrs Howe recalled the scene as Gordon’s family stood by with a coffin ready to transport his body back to Crichton. Mrs Howe stated that at the moment of the execution “the whole ground trembled, as with an earthquake.”

Next week, the Howes in America.

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 🙂