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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #146

Dear Reader,

My latest translation, the Italian version of Operation Broadsword, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE, book three.

This week, I started rewatching The Rockford Files. Most of the regular cast appeared in the pilot, including Stuart Margolin as Angel. Jamie Farr of M*A*S*H was considered for the part, and would have done a fine job, but Stuart Margolin made it his own. He portrayed the character so well with just the movements of his eyes. Around this time Margolin also featured in an episode of M*A*S*H.

The answering machine messages at the start are iconic. In the pilot, Luis Delgado (who appears as ‘himself’ in a marriage scene later in the episode) said, “Billings, L.A.P.D. You know, Thursday is Chapman’s 20th year, and we’re giving a little surprise party at the Captain’s. I think you should come. By the way, we need five bucks for the present…” Cue the equally iconic theme music…

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

Writer and historian Mary W Craig interviewed by Wendy H Jones. Plus, Author Features, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Recipes, Short Stories, Young Writers, Nature Photography Day, and so much more!

Do you have one of these, a Princess Mary Christmas Gift Box? As you can see, I have two, from both sides of my family, one in better condition than the other.

Each box was decorated with an image of Mary and other military and imperial symbols and typically filled with an ounce of tobacco, a packet of cigarettes in a yellow monogrammed wrapper, a cigarette lighter, and a Christmas card and photograph from Princess Mary. Some contained sweets, chocolates and lemon drops.

The boxes were distributed to all members of the British armed forces on Christmas Day 1914, although some servicemen had to wait until 1920.

Most baptism records tend to be scrawled, but for some reason many in the West Country were recorded with a neat hand. Here’s the baptism record for my 5 x great grandfather, John Bick.

Many of my Bick ancestors were baptised in St Mary de Lode Church, Gloucester. It is believed that St Mary’s was built on the site of the first Christian church in Britain. Certainly, it was built on top of two Roman structures, possibly temples.

Photo: Wikipedia

In honour of the Wales football team and their World Cup qualifying achievement, I intend to feature pen-portraits of past players on Twitter and my website. I will feature some ‘big names’, but the majority will be ‘unsung heroes’ from the 19th and 20th centuries. 

I’m starting with Alf Sherwood because he used to visit my great grandmother. For more details, read on…

The son of Herbert Sherwood, a labourer and coal miner from Wiltshire, and Alice Maud Williams, a labourer’s daughter from Aberdare, Alfred Thomas Sherwood was born on 13 November 1923 in North View Terrace, Aberaman, a stone’s throw away from his hometown football club. 

In 1939 Alf was an apprentice wagon painter. Then, during the Second World War, he was drafted into the coal mines to work as a ‘Bevin Boy’.

Scouts recognised Alf’s footballing prowess at an early age and he gained caps at youth level for Wales. He was also an accomplished cricketer. 

In 1942, Alf joined Cardiff City from Aberaman Athletic. A wing-half at Aberaman, he switched to full-back at Cardiff. He was so impressive that he made that position his own for the rest of his career.

When the Football League returned for the 1946–47 season, Alf missed just one match for Cardiff City. That season the club gained promotion as champions of Third Division South. In the 1951–52 season, Alf was appointed club captain and under his leadership Cardiff City gained promotion to the First Division.

Alf’s senior international career began on his 23rd birthday in a match against England in the British Home Championship. The score: 3 – 0 to England. However, on 22 October 1955 in the British Home Championship match played at Ninian Park, as captain Alf led Wales to a famous 2-1 victory over England.

In total, Alf won 41 Welsh caps. He earned a reputation as ‘the king of the slide-tacklers’. Indeed, Stanley Matthews described him as “the most difficult opponent he ever played against.” Students of the game reckoned that Alf’s main qualities were outstanding pace, sound tackling and a wonderful positional sense.

Alf also served club and country as a stand-in goalkeeper. On 17 April 1954 in a match against Liverpool, he saved a penalty taken by Scottish international Billy Liddell, which ultimately condemned Liverpool to relegation.

After an illustrious career, Alf worked for the National Coal Board. He also worked as an insurance agent and during the course of this work he called on my great grandmother, Edith, to collect her monthly insurance premiums and chat.

Alf died on 12 March 1990.

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

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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

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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

For Authors

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #131

Dear Reader,

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

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

In the festive issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads…

Holiday traditions and Christmas books.

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

Father Christmas, delivering his presents in 1940.

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

Thomas Stradling Esq and Janet Mathew. Wikitree.

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

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

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

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

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

Sir Edward Stradling and Elizabeth Arundel. Wikitree.

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

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

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

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

Battle of the Spurs, 16 August 1513.

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

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

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

For Authors

#1 for value with 565,000 readers, The Fussy Librarian has helped my books to reach #1 on 32 occasions.

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #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.

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 🙂