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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 #131

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, the French version of Mind Games, available soon 🙂

This week, Magnus Carlsen retained his world chess championship title with a convincing 7.5 – 3.5 victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi, four victories to zero. Carlsen won the sixth game and effectively broke Nepomniachtchi’s spirit because the other three victories were all based on Nepomniachtchi’s errors. Proof yet again that chess is the ultimate mind game.

In the festive issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads…

Holiday traditions and Christmas books.

Plus a seasonal blend of short stories, flash fiction, poetry, photography, travel, articles, activities, puzzles, recipes and so much more!

Father Christmas, delivering his presents in 1940.

My direct ancestor Thomas Stradling Esq was born c1454 in St Donats Castle, Glamorgan, Wales. The son of Henry Stradling and Elizabeth Herbert, Thomas married Janet Mathew c1473 in St Athan, Glamorgan. I was born in St Athan so the village is obviously special to me. Thomas fathered Edward, my direct ancestor, Henry and Jane. He died on 8 September 1480 in Cardiff, Glamorgan having secured the family estates and having served as Lieutenant of Ogmore lordship and castle.

Thomas Stradling Esq and Janet Mathew. Wikitree.

Thomas’ son, Sir Edward Stradling, left a more indelible mark on history. Born c1473 in Merthyr Mawr, Glamorgan, a stone’s throw from my home, Sir Edward married Elizabeth Arundel in St Athan. Politically and financially this was a fine marriage for Edward, although it did end in tragedy when Elizabeth died during childbirth on 20 February 1513 at Merthyr Mawr.

After Elizabeth’s death, Edward remarried. His second wife, and my direct ancestor, was Felice aka Ffelys, daughter of John Llwyd. There is a suggestion that Felice was one of Edward’s mistresses before their marriage. Edward had a number of mistresses. We shall explore that aspect of his life shortly.

When Edward’s father, Thomas, died in 1480 Richard III placed his guardianship with Sir James Tyrrell. This lasted until Richard III’s defeat at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Sir James was Elizabeth Arundel’s uncle and he probably arranged Edward and Elizabeth’s marriage. 

Medieval marriages were often political affairs with little thought given to romance. The main aims were to produce heirs and build up the family fortune. Therefore, with a lack of romance, mistresses were common. Often, knights and lords found love with these mistresses although given the circumstances the modern phrase “it’s complicated” springs to mind. Wives finding lovers was frowned upon, but human nature found its way and affairs were more common than we might suppose.

Sir Edward and Elizabeth produced six children, four sons and two daughters. With Felice, Edward produced two sons and one daughter, Elizabeth, my direct ancestor. Through various mistresses, Edward produced a further seventeen children, possibly more. At least three of these children were named Elizabeth bringing the total to four daughters named Elizabeth. Maybe Edward named them after his first wife and the repeated use of the name suggests that he held her in genuine affection?

Sir Edward Stradling and Elizabeth Arundel. Wikitree.

Sir Edward owned vast swathes of land including manors, estates and castles in Glamorgan, Somerset and Dorset. Nevertheless, with over twenty children looking for an inheritance there were problems.

On 17 June 1531, the Countess of Worcester wrote to Thomas Cromwell, the King’s councillor, expressing her concerns about the Stradling claims against her husband. She described Edward Stradling’s sons as, ‘twelve brothers, most of them bastards, and they have no living but by extortion and pillaging of the King’s subjects’.

Furthermore, in 1547 Thomas Fflemyng filed an assault complaint against seven of Edward’s sons and a daughter. Around this time Elizabeth, my direct ancestor, married Sir Edmund Morgan, Baron of Machen and Tredegar, securing her future. However, for many of the Stradling offspring, particularly the bastards, banditry and extortion became a way of life.

After the Battle of the Spurs and the Siege of Tournai in 1513, one hundred men-at-arms, including Edward Stradling, were knighted by Henry VIII in the Norte Dame Cathedral of Tournai on 2 October 1513.

Battle of the Spurs, 16 August 1513.

Sir Edward died on 8 May 1535 in St. Donats Castle. He signed his will on 27 April 1535, a clear indication that he was slipping away. He was buried in the chancel of St. Donats Church. However, Edward Stradling MP, the fifth Edward in the family, moved the bones of his grandfather Sir Edward and grandmother Elizabeth to the new Lady Chapel of St Donats. 

Edward and Elizabeth might well have married for political reasons, but the family realised, maybe through family folklore and stories, that they should be together in the end.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #129

Dear Reader,

Nelmari has completed the translation of Sam’s Song, book one in my Sam Smith Mystery Series, into Afrikaans and I’m delighted to say that soon she will make a start on Love and Bullets, book two in the series.

After the tragic events of this week.

A scene familiar to my London ancestors, Victoria Station in 1912.

The World Chess Championship between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi started this week. I’m a big chess fan so I’m enjoying the coverage on chess.com. Two exciting draws so far. All to play for in the fourteen game series.

https://www.chess.com/news/view/2021-fide-world-chess-championship-game-1-nepomniachtchi-carlsen

The son of Edward Stradling and Joan Beaufort, Sir Henry (Harry) Stradling was born c1412 in St. Donats, Glamorgan. He married Elizabeth Herbert c1440 in St. Athan, Glamorgan, their marriage uniting the powerful Stradling and Herbert families. The marriage produced four children: Thomas, my direct ancestor, Charles, Elizabeth and Jane. 

In 1449, Henry, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Elizabeth, encountered a Breton pirate, Colyn Dolphyn. A native of Brittany, Colyn Dolphyn was based on Lundy, an island in the Bristol Channel. Five kilometres long and a kilometre wide Lundy was granted by Henry II to the Knights Templars in 1160. Over following centuries privateers took control of the island.

Map of Lundy Island by Henry Mangles Denham (1832)

Because of the dangerous shingle banks and the fast flowing River Severn with its tidal range of 8.2 metres, the second largest in the world, ships were forced to navigate close to Lundy. This meant the island was ideally situated for pirates to prey on merchant ships and their rich cargos.

The chroniclers described Colyn Dolphyn as a tall, athletic, and mighty man, ‘like Saul in Israel’. He ‘towered head and shoulders’ above all men and was regarded as ‘a terror in South Wales’.

In 1449, Henry and his family spent a month visiting their estates in Somerset. Whenever possible, for passengers and trade, ships were the preferred mode of transport because the roads were often nothing more than dirt tracks. Therefore, Henry made the return journey by ship.

Aboard the St Barbe, Henry, his family and crew, set sail from Minehead for the Welsh coast. They encountered Colyn Dolphyn, who transferred them to his barque, the Sea Swallow. Dolphyn demanded a ransom of 1,000 marks for Henry, Elizabeth and daughter Elizabeth’s release. 

The ransom was not forthcoming so over a period of two years the price went up to 2,200 marks. At that point the Stradlings were forced to sell their manors of Bassaleg and Rogerstone in South Wales, two manors in Oxfordshire and the Lordship of Sutton in Monmouthshire. With the ransom paid, Dolphyn released Henry and his family.

Nash Point (Wikipedia)

While the coast of South Wales is beautiful it also contains some treacherous rocks, particularly the rocks off Nash Point, Glamorgan. Several years after kidnapping the Stradlings, Colyn Dolphyn was out pirating when a storm blew up. That storm drove his ship on to Nash Rocks near Colhugh Beach. 

The locals alerted Sir Henry Stradling who raised his men. They captured Colyn Dolphyn and his men, and dispensing swift justice hung them the following day.

In 1837, Taliesin Williams wrote a poem, The Doom of Colyn Dolphyn, which concluded with the following lines:

The beach they trod, destruction there,

Had stamped his footsteps ev’ry where.

Above, below, were strown along,

The fragments of a vessel strong.

Here helm and shatter’d masts were seen,

There lay the hull, the rocks between, 

With upward keel and crag-rent side. 

Thro’ which had pass’d the refluent tide.

And, all around, appear’d in view,

The bodies of a numerous crew. 

Whose course was run, confederates sent,

Well armed on Colyn’s rescue bent. 

But, ere they reach’d the rugged strand,

To ply the dirk, and light the brand. 

Justice ordain’d they should abide,

The tempest’s ordeal, and they died!

The story of the Stradling branch of my family and their encounter with a pirate Colyn Dolphyn as illustrated, animated and told by the children of Wick and Marcross Primary School, South Wales.

Like his father, Edward, Henry Stradling visited Jerusalem, in 1475, where he became a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. Also like his father, he died on his journey home, at Famagusta, Cyprus, in 1476.

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 #125

Dear Reader,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Castle and Town of Kilfekle

Land of Muskerye

Manor of Kilsilam

Town of Clummele

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Donat’s Manor, Glamorgan, Wales

Combe Hawey Manor, Somerset, England

Compton Hawey Manor, Somerset, England

Compton Hawey Manor, Dorset, England

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

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

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

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

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

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

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #123

Dear Reader,

Always a satisfying moment, I’ve completed the storyboard for Operation Cameo, book six in my (Amazon #1 🙂) Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series. Next week, I will start on the first draft. Eve is feisty while her partner Guy is a pacifist. Based on true events.

My direct ancestor Joan, Countess of Kent (29 September 1328 – 7 August 1385) known to history as ‘The Fair Maid of Kent.’ French chronicler Jean Froissart described her as “the most beautiful woman in all the realm of England, and the most loving.”

Joan gave birth to my ancestor Thomas Holland and later when married to her third husband Edward Plantagenet ‘the Black Prince’, Richard II.

My direct ancestor Thomas Meade was born c1380 in Wraxall, Somerset. His parents were Thomas Atte Meade and Agnes Wycliff.

Thomas died in 1455 and this extract from his will offers an insight into the times.

“I leave to Philip Meade my son two pipes of woad, two whole woollen cloths, my beat goblet with a cover, made of silver and gilded, and my best brass bowl. I leave to Joan, the wife of Roger Ringeston, my daughter, one pipe of woad and 40s sterling.”

Lots of Quakers on my family tree. Here’s the latest discovery, Joan Ford, daughter of William Ford and Elizabeth Penny, born 11 December 1668 in Curry Mallet, Somerset. Joan was three years older than her husband, John Lowcock, not a big difference, but unusual for the era.

Just discovered that my direct ancestor Sir John Cobham, Third Baron Cobham, paid for the construction of Rochester Bridge (in the background on this painting) across the River Medway. This route, originally established by the Romans, was essential for traffic between London, Dover and mainland Europe.

Painting: Artist unknown, Dutch style, 17th century.

My 19 x great grandmother, Constance of York, Countess of Gloucester, was born in 1374, the only daughter of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, and his wife Isabella of Castile. 

In November 1397, Constance married Thomas Despenser, 1st Earl of Gloucester, one of Richard II’s favourites. The couple produced three children: a son, Richard, and two daughters. The first daughter, Elizabeth, died in infancy, while the second daughter, Isabel, was born after her father’s death.

When Henry IV deposed and murdered Richard II, the Crown seized the Despenser lands. In consequence, in December 1399, Thomas Despenser and other nobles hatched a plot known as the Epiphany Rising. Their plan was to assassinate Henry IV and restore Richard, who was alive at this point, to the throne.

According to a French chronicle, Edward, Constance’s brother, betrayed the plot, although English chronicles make no mention of his role. Thomas Despenser evaded immediate capture, but a mob cornered him in Bristol and beheaded him on 13 January 1400.

After Thomas’ death, Constance was granted a life interest in the greater part of the Despenser lands and custody of her son. However, in February 1405, during the Owain Glyndwr rebellion to liberate Wales, Constance instigated a plot to abduct Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, and his brother, Roger, from Windsor Castle. 

Constance’s plan was to deliver the young Earl, who had a claim to the English throne, to his uncle Sir Edmund Mortimer, who was married to Glyndwr’s daughter.

The first part of Constance’s plan went well, only to stumble when Henry’s men captured Edmund and Roger Mortimer as they entered Wales.

With the plot over, Constance implicated her elder brother, Edward – clearly sibling love was not a priority in the House of York – and he was imprisoned for seventeen weeks at Pevensey Castle. Meanwhile, Constance languished in Kenilworth Castle.

With the rebellions quashed, Henry IV released Constance and she became the mistress of Edmund Holland, 4th Earl of Kent. Out of wedlock, they produced my direct ancestor, Eleanor, who married James Tuchet, 5th Baron Audley.

Constance outlived Henry IV and her brother, Edward. She died on 28 November 1416 and was buried in Reading Abbey.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 31 occasions.

A special offer from my publisher and the Fussy Librarian. https://authors.thefussylibrarian.com/?ref=goylake

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