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      More developments

      Chapter 3: The Journey becomes more eggciting

      The Flovlinden Tree

      The group reaches the Flovlinden Tree, a massive linden tree in the heart of Oocrane, which is said to be sacred and is attracting crowds of pilgrims.
      They meet Olek, the old caretaker of the tree, who tells them the story of Saint Edigna. He explains how the tree is said to have magical healing properties, and how the tree is responsible for the sacred oil that the pilgrims come to collect.
      However, Olek reveals that the secret of Saint Edigna is not what it seems. Edna, an old woman who has been living far from the crowd for thousands of years, is actually Saint Edigna.
      Olek shares that Edna has been living in solitude for very long. He tells the group that if they want to learn more about the sacred tree and Edna, they must travel to her hidden home.
      The four friends were shocked to hear that Edna was still alive and wanted to meet her. They asked Olek for directions, and he gave them a map that showed the way to Edna’s remote dwelling.
      They bid farewell to Olek and set off on their journey to find Edna.

      A Run-In with Myroslava

      The group comes across a former war reporter, Myroslava, who is traveling on her own after leaving a group of journalists. She is being followed by mysterious individuals and is trying to lose them by hunting and making fire in bombed areas.
      Myroslava is frustrated and curses her lack of alcohol, wishing she could find a place to escape from her pursuers.
      The group approaches Myroslava and offers to help her. She joins forces with them and together, they set off on their journey.
      As they travel, Myroslava shares her experiences as a war reporter, and the group listens in awe. She explains how she has seen the worst of humanity, but also the best, and how it has changed her as a person.
      Myroslava and the group continue their journey, with the former reporter becoming more and more determined to shake off her pursuers and continue on her own.

      A Visit with Eusebius Kazandis’ Relatives

      The group reaches a small village where they are expected by relatives of Eusebius Kazandis, the cauldron seller that Rose has met at the Innsbruck fair.
      The relatives tell the group about Kazandis and his business, and how he has been traveling the world, selling his wares. They explain how he has become a legend in their village, and how proud they are of him.
      The group learns about Kazandis’ passion for cooking and how he uses his cauldrons to create delicious meals for his customers. They are also shown his secret recipe book, which has been passed down for generations.
      The relatives invite the group to try some of Kazandis’ famous dishes, and they are blown away by the delicious flavors.
      The group thanks the relatives for their hospitality and sets off on their journey, with a newfound appreciation for Kazandis and his love of cooking.

      A Surprising Encounter with Edna

      The group finally reaches Edna’s hidden home, a small cottage in the middle of a dense forest.
      As they approach the cottage, they are surprised to see Edna, who is actually the legendary Saint Edigna, standing outside, waiting for them.

      The four friends have finally arrived at Edna’s dwelling, where they learned about her vast knowledge of the families connected to her descendants. Edna showed them her books, and they were amazed to find that their own family was listed among her descendants. They were even more shocked to learn that they were related to President Voldomeer Zumbasky and Dumbass Voldomeer, who was said to be a distant relative and carpenter who made the President’s wooden leg. It was rumored that they shared a common ancestor, but in reality, they were possibly secret twins.

      The Secret of Dumbass Voldomeer

      The four friends were determined to find out more about Dumbass Voldomeer and his connection to their family. They learned that he lived in the small city of Duckailingtown in Dumbass, near the Rootian border. They also discovered that Dumbass Voldomeer had been enrolled to take the place of the President, who had succumbed from a mysterious swan flu virus, to which Dumbass Voldomeer was immune. As they set to Duckailingtown, they couldn’t help but wonder what other secrets and surprises lay ahead for them on this incredible journey.


      In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


        Although not one to remember dreams very often, Zara awoke the next morning with vivid and colourful dream recall.  She wondered if it was something to do with the dreamtime mural on the wall of her room.  If this turned out to be the case, she considered painting some murals on her bedroom wall back at the Bungwalley Valley animal rescue centre when she got home.

        Zara and Idle had hit it off immediately, chatting and laughing on the verandah after supper.   Idle told her a bit about the local area and the mines.  Despite Bert’s warnings, she wanted to see them. They were only an hour away from the inn.

        When she retired to her room for the night, she looked on the internet for more information. The more she read online about the mines, the more intrigued she became.

        “Interestingly there are no actual houses left from the original township. The common explanation is that a rumour spread that there was gold hidden in the walls of the houses and consequently they were knocked down by people believing there was ‘gold in them there walls”. Of course it was only a rumour. No gold was found.”

        “Miners attracted to the area originally by the garnets, found alluvial and reef gold at Arltunga…”

        Garnets!  Zara recalled the story her friend had told her about finding a cursed garnet near a fort in St Augustine in Florida.  Apparently there were a number of mines that one could visit:

        “the MacDonnell Range Reef Mine, the Christmas Reef Mine, the Golden Chance Mine, the Joker Mine and the Great Western Mine all of which are worth a visit.”

        Zara imagined Xavier making a crack about the Joker Mine, and wondered why it had been named that.

        “The whole area is preserved as though the inhabitants simply walked away from it only yesterday. The curious visitor who walks just a little way off the paths will see signs of previous habitation. Old pieces of meat safes, pieces of rusted wire, rusted cans, and pieces of broken glass litter the ground. There is nothing of great importance but each little shard is reminder of the people who once lived and worked here.”

        I wonder if Bert will take me there, Zara wondered. If not, maybe one of the others can pick up a hire car when they arrive at Alice.   Might even be best not to tell anyone at the inn where they were going.  Funny coincidence the nearest town was called Alice ~ it was already beginning to seem like some kind of rabbit hole she was falling into.

        Undecided whether to play some more of the game which had ended abruptly upon encountering the blue robed vendor, Zara decided not to and picked up the book on Dreamtime that was on the bedside table.

        “Some of the ancestors or spirit beings inhabiting the Dreamtime become one with parts of the landscape, such as rocks or trees…”  Flicking through the book, she read random excerpts.   “A mythic map of Australia would show thousands of characters, varying in their importance, but all in some way connected with the land. Some emerged at their specific sites and stayed spiritually in that vicinity. Others came from somewhere else and went somewhere else. Many were shape changing, transformed from or into human beings or natural species, or into natural features such as rocks but all left something of their spiritual essence at the places noted in their stories….”

        Thousands of characters. Zara smiled sleepily, recalling the many stories she and her friends had written together over the years.

        “People come and go but the Land, and stories about the Land, stay. This is a wisdom that takes lifetimes of listening, observing and experiencing … There is a deep understanding of human nature and the environment… sites hold ‘feelings’ which cannot be described in physical terms… subtle feelings that resonate through the bodies of these people… It is only when talking and being with these people that these ‘feelings’ can truly be appreciated. This is… the intangible reality of these people…..”

        With such strong ancestral connections to the land, Zara couldn’t help but wonder what the aboriginal people felt about all the mines.   If one of their ancestors had shape changed into rocks, and then some foreignors came along and hacked and blasted their way through, what would they think of that?

        “….many Aboriginal groups widely distributed across the Australian continent all appeared to share variations of a single (common) myth telling of an unusually powerful, often creative, often dangerous snake or serpent of sometimes enormous size closely associated with the rainbows, rain, rivers, and deep waterholes…..”

        She drifted off to sleep thinking of water holes in red rocky gorges, the book laying open in her hand.

        When she awoke the next morning with the slatted morning sun shining through the venetian blinds,  the dream image of the water hole was bright and clear in her minds eye.  But what was that strange character from the game doing in her dream?

        Osnas dreamtime waterhole


        She closed her eyes, remembering more of the strange dream.  Deeply orange red boulders and rocky outcrops, shivering gum trees, and green pools ~ it was coming back to her now, that creature in the blue robes had appeared more than once.  In one scene he appeared with a blue diamond lantern with what looked like a compass inside.

        Osnas lantern compass

        I’ll ask about the hiking trails today, Zara decided, and go for a walk in that gorge I read about yesterday. Bert said there were good hiking trails.   You came here early so you could play the game, she reminded herself.

        “It’s all a game,” she heard the parrot outside her window.

        “I’d forgotten about the bloody parrot!” Zara said under her breath. “Pretty Girl!” she said, opening the blinds. “We’re going out for a walk today.”


        In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


          With a determined glint in his eye, Xavier set his sights on the slot machines. He scanned the rows of blinking lights and flashing screens until one caught his attention. He approached the machine and inserted a coin, feeling a rush of excitement as he pulled the lever.

          With a satisfying whir, the reels began to spin, and before he knew it, the golden banana appeared on the screen, lining up perfectly. The machine erupted in flashing lights and loud noises, and a ticket spilled out onto the floor.

          🎰 · 💰

          Xavier picked it up, reading aloud the inscriptions on the ticket, “Congratulations on completing your quest. You may enjoy your trip until the next stage of your journey. Look for the cook on the pirate boat, she will give you directions to regroup with your friends. And don’t forget to confirm your bookings.”

          Glimmer let out a whoop of trepidation, “Let’s go find that cook, Xav! I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for us!”

          But Xavier, feeling a bit worn out, replied with a smile, “Hold on a minute, love. All I need at the moment is just some R&R after all that brouhaha.”

          Glimmer nodded in understanding and they both made their way to the deck, taking in the fresh air and the breathtaking scenery as the boat sailed towards its next destination.

          As the boat continued its journey, sailing and gliding on the river in the air filled with moist, they could start to see across the mist opening like a heavy curtain a colourful floating market in the distance, and the sounds of haggling and laughter filled the air.

          They couldn’t wait to explore and see what treasures and surprises awaited them. The journey was far from over, but for now, they were content to simply enjoy the ride.


          Xavier closed his laptop while his friends were still sending messages on the chatroom. He’d had long days of work before leaving to take his flights to Australia, during which he hoped he could rest enough during the flights.

          Most of the flights he’d checked had a minimum of 3 layovers, and a unbelievably long durations (not to count the astronomic amount of carbon emissions). Against all common sense, he’d taken one of the longest flight duration. It was 57h, but only 3 layovers. From Berlin, to Stockholm, then Dubai and Sydney. He could probably catch up with Youssef there as apparently he sent a message before boarding. They could go to Alice Spring and the Frying Mush Inn together. He’d try to find the reviews, but they were only listed on and didn’t have the rave reviews of the prestigious Kookynie Grand Hotel franchise. God knows what Zara had in mind while booking this place, it’d better be good. Reminded him of the time they all went to that improbably ghastly hotel in Spain (at the time Yasmin was still volunteering in a mission and couldn’t join) for a seminar with other game loonies and cosplayers. Those were the early days of the game, and the technology frankly left a lot to be desired at the time. They’d ended up eating raspberry jam with disposable toothbrushes, and get drunk on laughter.

          When Brytta had seen the time it took to go there, she’d reconsidered coming. She couldn’t afford taking that much time off, and spending the equivalent of 4 full days of her hard-won vacation as a nurse into a plane simply for the round-trip —there was simply no way.
          Xavier had proposed to shorten his stay, but she’d laughed and said, “you go there, I’ll enjoy some girl time with my friends, and I’ll work on my painting” —it was more convenient when he was gone for business trips, she would be able to put all the materials out, and not care to keep the apartment neat and tidy.

          The backpack was ready with the essentials; Xavier liked to travel light.


          In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys


            Real-life Xavier was marveling at the new AL (Artificial Life) developments on this project he’d been working on. It’s been great at tidying the plot, confusing as the plot started to become with Real-life characters named the same as their Quirky counterparts ones.

            Real-life Zara had not managed to remain off the computer for very long, despite her grand claims to the contrary. She’d made quick work of introducing a new player in the game, a reporter in an obscure newspaper, who’d seemed quirky enough to be their guide in the new game indeed. It was difficult to see if hers was a nickname or nom de plume, but strangely enough, she also named her own character the same as her name in the papers. Interestingly, Zara and Glimmer had some friends in common in Australia, where RL Zara was living at the moment.

            Anyways… “Clever ALXavier smiled when he saw the output on the screen. “Yasmin will love a little tidiness; even if she is the brains of the group, she has always loved the help.”

            Meanwhile, in the real world, Youssef was on his own adventure in Mongolia, trying to uncover the mystery of the Thi Gang. He had been hearing whispers and rumors about the ancient and powerful group, and he was determined to find out the truth. He had been traveling through the desert for weeks, following leads and piecing together clues, and he was getting closer to the truth.

            Zara, Xavier, and Yasmin, on the other hand, were scattered around the world. Zara was in Australia, working on a conservation project and trying to save a group of endangered animals. Xavier was in Europe, working on a new project for a technology company. And Yasmin was in Asia, volunteering at a children’s hospital.

            Despite being physically separated, the four friends kept in touch through video calls and messages. They were all excited about the upcoming adventure in the Land of the Quirks and the possibility of discovering their inner quirks. They were also looking forward to their trip to the Flying Fish Inn, where they hoped to find some clues about the game and their characters.

            In the game, Glimmer Gambol’s interactions with the other characters will be taking place in the confines of the Land of the Quirks. As she is the one who has been playing the longest and has the most experience, she will probably be the one to lead the group and guide them through the game. She also has some information that the others don’t know about yet, and she will probably reveal it at the right time.

            As the game and the real-world adventures are intertwined, the characters will have to navigate both worlds and find a way to balance them. They will have to use their unique skills and personalities to overcome challenges and solve puzzles, both in the game and in the real world. It will be an exciting and unpredictable journey, full of surprises and twists.


              Trying to get some interesting unlikely, absurd associations or quests… Still some way to go!

              2 impossible associations

              1. The creation of a time machine using only household objects such as a toaster and a stapler.
              2. The discovery of a parallel universe accessible through a secret passageway hidden in a public park’s playground equipment.

              give an association of 3 or 4 words with each words being statistically probable to occur in every day conversation but with statistical probability of occurring together of less than 10^-57.

                1. “Giant robotic giraffe farming”
                2. “Vintage cars restoration using only expired food”
                3. “Archaeological board game design with only smells”
                4. “Artificial intelligence calligraphic body language assisted therapy”

              All the words in these associations are commonly used in everyday conversation, but the associations themselves are relatively unexpected, absurd, and may surprise people. They are all grounded in everyday happenstances but are less modern tech-oriented and the concepts they describe are related to diverse interests that may not be related to technology trend and are quite unexpected and bizarre..


              In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


                After a few tries:

                1. As the group has split up at the fork of the road, we discover a total of 4 new characters from the Land of the Quirks. Tell us how each group is encountering some or all of these characters, who they are, their gibberish-sounding names, and what is their quirks, and what they wear, or their activities. Make our main characters and maybe some of the new ones meet back at a common spot with a special event after that.
                2. please rewrite the above, retaining the eccentricity but more grounded, less childish, and with a little darker tone and mystery.
                3. please try again, make Spoink and Flibbertigibbet human and give them less endearing or friendly behaviours; name two more characters met on the road.

                As the group split up at the fork of the road, each one encountered new characters from the Land of the Quirks.

                Zara and Yasmin, who took the left path, met a man named “Sproink” who was a small, wiry man with a spring for a tail. He was always bouncing around and speaking in a language that sounded like a mix of gibberish and music. Sproink was a collector of shiny objects and had a bag full of them, he was also a scavenger, always looking for things to add to his collection. He was wearing a small top hat and a monocle. He was also known to be a bit of a thief and a con artist.

                Xavier and Youssef, who took the right path, met a woman named “Flibbertigibbet” a tall, slender woman that had multiple arms. Flibbertigibbet was very talkative and friendly, always trying to strike up a conversation. She spoke in a language that sounded like a mix of gibberish and baby talk. She was a chef and was always carrying a pot and a spoon, but she also had a dark side, she was known to be a bit of a manipulator and a spy, always observing and gathering information for a mysterious organization. She was wearing a big chef hat and apron.

                As the group met back at the fork, they were surprised to find that Sproink and Flibbertigibbet had also met there. The four new characters joined the group, and together they continued their journey to find the “Key of Quirks”. Along the way, they met two more characters;

                They met a man named “Gibber” who was a tall, gaunt man with elongated limbs and fingers. He was always speaking in a language that sounded like a mix of gibberish and numbers. He was a mathematician and a scientist, always working on complex equations and theories. He was known to be a bit of a loner, and didn’t interact much with others. He was wearing a lab coat and goggles.

                They also met a woman named “Glimmer” she was a short, plump woman with a shimmering skin that seemed to change color depending on the light. She was always speaking in a language that sounded like a mix of gibberish and poetry. She was an artist and a performer, always creating and performing in different shows. She was known to be a bit of a flirt and a bit of a drama queen. She was wearing a colorful and eccentric clothing, such as a flowy dress and a large hat adorned with feathers.

                As the group journeyed on, they encountered more characters, each one with their own unique quirks and personalities. They met a variety of people, some friendly and some not so friendly, but all of them adding to the mysterious and unknown nature of the Land of the Quirks.

                As the group reached the end of their journey and found the “Key of Quirks”, they realized that the key was not just a physical object but a symbol of acceptance and embracing individuality. They learned that the true key to leaving the Land of the Quirks was understanding and accepting the quirks of oneself and others.

                The group had a bittersweet goodbye with their new friends, Sproink, Flibbertigibbet, Gibber and Glimmer, and the other characters they had met. They knew that they would always carry a piece of the Land of the Quirks with them and would always remember the mysterious and eccentric adventure they had.


                In reply to: Prompts of Madjourneys


                  Asking to give each of the 4 characters some particular traits that makes them uniquely distinctive and recognizable

                  The four friends, Zara, Xavier, Yasmin, and Youssef, each have their own unique traits that make them stand out and recognizable.

                  Zara is the leader of the group, she is confident, and always ready for an adventure. She is a natural leader and has a strong sense of justice. She is also a tech-savvy person, always carrying a variety of gadgets with her, and is always the first to try out new technology.

                  Xavier is the joker of the group, always cracking jokes and making puns. He is a free-spirited person who is always up for an adventure, he has a great sense of humor and is not afraid to be himself. He is also an artist and often carries a sketchbook and pencils with him, he likes to draw whatever he sees in his journeys.

                  Yasmin is the brains of the group, she is intelligent and logical. She is always able to think on her feet and come up with a plan when things get tough. She is also a bit of a perfectionist and likes to have everything organized. She is a history buff and always carries a notebook with her to document her findings.

                  Youssef is the muscle of the group, He is physically strong, and always ready to help out in a fight. He is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying new dishes. He is always the first one to volunteer to carry the heavy bags and equipment. He is also a bit of a daredevil and loves trying out new sports and activities.

                  Give each of them a color, and an animal, and a secret name in a funny language

                  The four friends, Zara, Xavier, Yasmin, and Youssef, each have their own unique traits that make them stand out and recognizable.

                  Zara is the leader of the group, her color is red, her animal is a lion, and her secret name in a funny language is “Zaraloon”

                  Xavier is the joker of the group, his color is orange, his animal is a monkey, and his secret name in a funny language is “Xavimunk”

                  Yasmin is the brains of the group, her color is blue, her animal is an owl, and her secret name in a funny language is “Yasminowl”

                  Youssef is the muscle of the group, his color is green, his animal is a bear, and his secret name in a funny language is “Youssefbear”

                  Now, we need physical descriptions for each of them. Also, their ages, height, clothes, facial features, ethnicity (for instance Youssef may be half Yemeni and half Norwegian), etc. with a good mix of generic and eccentric. We also need surnames congruent with their described ethnicity, not too bland, but not too daft either. For instance Youssef Olafsson, Zara Patara-Smythe, etc. Also explain how they become friends.

                  Zara Patara-Smythe is a 25-year-old woman of mixed heritage, her mother is Indian and her father is British. She has long, dark hair that she keeps in a sleek ponytail, dark brown eyes and a sharp jawline. She stands at 5’6″ and has a toned and athletic build. She usually wears practical clothing that allows her to move around easily, such as cargo pants and a tank top.

                  Xavier Olafsson is a 27-year-old man of Norwegian and Danish descent. He has blonde hair that he keeps in a messy style, blue eyes, and a charming smile. He stands at 6’1″ and has a lean build. He is always seen wearing a colorful and bold clothing, such as a Hawaiian shirt and shorts.

                  Yasmin Ahmed is a 23-year-old woman of Egyptian descent. She has long, black hair that she keeps in a tight braid, dark brown eyes and a round face. She stands at 5’4″ and has a petite build. She usually wears conservative clothing, such as long skirts and blouses.

                  Youssef Ali is a 26-year-old man of half Yemeni, half Norwegian descent. He has short, curly black hair, dark brown eyes and a square jawline. He stands at 6’2″ and has a muscular build. He usually wears comfortable clothing such as a t-shirt and jeans, and always has a backpack on his shoulder.

                  The four of them became friends in college, they were all studying different majors, but they all shared a love for adventure and exploration. They found themselves in the same class project, and from there they formed a strong bond. After college, they decided to keep exploring the world together, and went on many trips and adventures, always seeking for something new and exciting.

                  1/ Change the ages of Zara, Xavier, Yasmin and Youssef to more random patterns – rewrite if needed how they met each other to reflect eventual age gaps. Give them some flaws, mental or physical challenges.
                  2/ increase again the age gaps while keeping the youngest one a young adult, and remove “minor” from the flaws descriptions

                  Zara is a 22-year-old woman who is the youngest of the group. She is a free-spirited, adventurous person, but also a bit reckless and impulsive. She has a scar on her cheek that she got from a Skateboarding accident when she was a teenager.

                  Xavier is a 45-year-old man who is the oldest of the group. He is a responsible and level-headed person, but also a bit of a perfectionist and can be hard on himself and others. He has dyslexia which he has been able to work around and it doesn’t impede his daily life.

                  Yasmin is a 38-year-old woman who is the second oldest of the group. She is a kind and compassionate person, but also a bit of a pushover and can have trouble standing up for herself. She has social anxiety that affect her in certain situations and she have been working on coping mechanisms.

                  Youssef is a 33-year-old man who is the second youngest of the group. He is a charismatic and outgoing person, but also a bit of a flirt and can be a bit insensitive to others feelings. He has ADHD which he has been able to manage with medication, but it still affects him from time to time.

                  The group met each other through different means, Xavier and Yasmin met at work, Zara and Youssef met at a college class, and eventually, they all became friends through common interests and activities. They decided to go on this adventure together because they were all looking for a change in their lives and wanted to explore the unknown.



                    Isaac Stokes 1804-1877


                    Isaac was born in Churchill, Oxfordshire in 1804, and was the youngest brother of my 4X great grandfather Thomas Stokes. The Stokes family were stone masons for generations in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and Isaac’s occupation was a mason’s labourer in 1834 when he was sentenced at the Lent Assizes in Oxford to fourteen years transportation for stealing tools.

                    Churchill where the Stokes stonemasons came from: on 31 July 1684 a fire destroyed 20 houses and many other buildings, and killed four people. The village was rebuilt higher up the hill, with stone houses instead of the old timber-framed and thatched cottages. The fire was apparently caused by a baker who, to avoid chimney tax, had knocked through the wall from her oven to her neighbour’s chimney.

                    Isaac stole a pick axe, the value of 2 shillings and the property of Thomas Joyner of Churchill; a kibbeaux and a trowel value 3 shillings the property of Thomas Symms; a hammer and axe value 5 shillings, property of John Keen of Sarsden.

                    (The word kibbeaux seems to only exists in relation to Isaac Stokes sentence and whoever was the first to write it was perhaps being creative with the spelling of a kibbo, a miners or a metal bucket. This spelling is repeated in the criminal reports and the newspaper articles about Isaac, but nowhere else).

                    In March 1834 the Removal of Convicts was announced in the Oxford University and City Herald: Isaac Stokes and several other prisoners were removed from the Oxford county gaol to the Justitia hulk at Woolwich “persuant to their sentences of transportation at our Lent Assizes”.

                    via digitalpanopticon:

                    Hulks were decommissioned (and often unseaworthy) ships that were moored in rivers and estuaries and refitted to become floating prisons. The outbreak of war in America in 1775 meant that it was no longer possible to transport British convicts there. Transportation as a form of punishment had started in the late seventeenth century, and following the Transportation Act of 1718, some 44,000 British convicts were sent to the American colonies. The end of this punishment presented a major problem for the authorities in London, since in the decade before 1775, two-thirds of convicts at the Old Bailey received a sentence of transportation – on average 283 convicts a year. As a result, London’s prisons quickly filled to overflowing with convicted prisoners who were sentenced to transportation but had no place to go.

                    To increase London’s prison capacity, in 1776 Parliament passed the “Hulks Act” (16 Geo III, c.43). Although overseen by local justices of the peace, the hulks were to be directly managed and maintained by private contractors. The first contract to run a hulk was awarded to Duncan Campbell, a former transportation contractor. In August 1776, the Justicia, a former transportation ship moored in the River Thames, became the first prison hulk. This ship soon became full and Campbell quickly introduced a number of other hulks in London; by 1778 the fleet of hulks on the Thames held 510 prisoners.
                    Demand was so great that new hulks were introduced across the country. There were hulks located at Deptford, Chatham, Woolwich, Gosport, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheerness and Cork.

                    The Justitia via rmg collections:

                    JustitiaConvicts perform hard labour at the Woolwich Warren. The hulk on the river is the ‘Justitia’. Prisoners were kept on board such ships for months awaiting deportation to Australia. The ‘Justitia’ was a 260 ton prison hulk that had been originally moored in the Thames when the American War of Independence put a stop to the transportation of criminals to the former colonies. The ‘Justitia’ belonged to the shipowner Duncan Campbell, who was the Government contractor who organized the prison-hulk system at that time. Campbell was subsequently involved in the shipping of convicts to the penal colony at Botany Bay (in fact Port Jackson, later Sydney, just to the north) in New South Wales, the ‘first fleet’ going out in 1788.


                    While searching for records for Isaac Stokes I discovered that another Isaac Stokes was transported to New South Wales in 1835 as well. The other one was a butcher born in 1809, sentenced in London for seven years, and he sailed on the Mary Ann. Our Isaac Stokes sailed on the Lady Nugent, arriving in NSW in April 1835, having set sail from England in December 1834.

                    Lady Nugent was built at Bombay in 1813. She made four voyages under contract to the British East India Company (EIC). She then made two voyages transporting convicts to Australia, one to New South Wales and one to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). (via Wikipedia)

                    via freesettlerorfelon website:

                    On 20 November 1834, 100 male convicts were transferred to the Lady Nugent from the Justitia Hulk and 60 from the Ganymede Hulk at Woolwich, all in apparent good health. The Lady Nugent departed Sheerness on 4 December 1834.

                    SURGEON OLIVER SPROULE

                    Oliver Sproule kept a Medical Journal from 7 November 1834 to 27 April 1835. He recorded in his journal the weather conditions they experienced in the first two weeks:

                    ‘In the course of the first week or ten days at sea, there were eight or nine on the sick list with catarrhal affections and one with dropsy which I attribute to the cold and wet we experienced during that period beating down channel. Indeed the foremost berths in the prison at this time were so wet from leaking in that part of the ship, that I was obliged to issue dry beds and bedding to a great many of the prisoners to preserve their health, but after crossing the Bay of Biscay the weather became fine and we got the damp beds and blankets dried, the leaks partially stopped and the prison well aired and ventilated which, I am happy to say soon manifested a favourable change in the health and appearance of the men.

                    Besides the cases given in the journal I had a great many others to treat, some of them similar to those mentioned but the greater part consisted of boils, scalds, and contusions which would not only be too tedious to enter but I fear would be irksome to the reader. There were four births on board during the passage which did well, therefore I did not consider it necessary to give a detailed account of them in my journal the more especially as they were all favourable cases.

                    Regularity and cleanliness in the prison, free ventilation and as far as possible dry decks turning all the prisoners up in fine weather as we were lucky enough to have two musicians amongst the convicts, dancing was tolerated every afternoon, strict attention to personal cleanliness and also to the cooking of their victuals with regular hours for their meals, were the only prophylactic means used on this occasion, which I found to answer my expectations to the utmost extent in as much as there was not a single case of contagious or infectious nature during the whole passage with the exception of a few cases of psora which soon yielded to the usual treatment. A few cases of scurvy however appeared on board at rather an early period which I can attribute to nothing else but the wet and hardships the prisoners endured during the first three or four weeks of the passage. I was prompt in my treatment of these cases and they got well, but before we arrived at Sydney I had about thirty others to treat.’

                    The Lady Nugent arrived in Port Jackson on 9 April 1835 with 284 male prisoners. Two men had died at sea. The prisoners were landed on 27th April 1835 and marched to Hyde Park Barracks prior to being assigned. Ten were under the age of 14 years.

                    The Lady Nugent:

                    Lady Nugent


                    Isaac’s distinguishing marks are noted on various criminal registers and record books:

                    “Height in feet & inches: 5 4; Complexion: Ruddy; Hair: Light brown; Eyes: Hazel; Marks or Scars: Yes [including] DEVIL on lower left arm, TSIS back of left hand, WS lower right arm, MHDW back of right hand.”

                    Another includes more detail about Isaac’s tattoos:

                    “Two slight scars right side of mouth, 2 moles above right breast, figure of the devil and DEVIL and raised mole, lower left arm; anchor, seven dots half moon, TSIS and cross, back of left hand; a mallet, door post, A, mans bust, sun, WS, lower right arm; woman, MHDW and shut knife, back of right hand.”


                    Lady Nugent record book


                    From How tattoos became fashionable in Victorian England (2019 article in TheConversation by Robert Shoemaker and Zoe Alkar):

                    “Historical tattooing was not restricted to sailors, soldiers and convicts, but was a growing and accepted phenomenon in Victorian England. Tattoos provide an important window into the lives of those who typically left no written records of their own. As a form of “history from below”, they give us a fleeting but intriguing understanding of the identities and emotions of ordinary people in the past.
                    As a practice for which typically the only record is the body itself, few systematic records survive before the advent of photography. One exception to this is the written descriptions of tattoos (and even the occasional sketch) that were kept of institutionalised people forced to submit to the recording of information about their bodies as a means of identifying them. This particularly applies to three groups – criminal convicts, soldiers and sailors. Of these, the convict records are the most voluminous and systematic.
                    Such records were first kept in large numbers for those who were transported to Australia from 1788 (since Australia was then an open prison) as the authorities needed some means of keeping track of them.”

                    On the 1837 census Isaac was working for the government at Illiwarra, New South Wales. This record states that he arrived on the Lady Nugent in 1835. There are three other indent records for an Isaac Stokes in the following years, but the transcriptions don’t provide enough information to determine which Isaac Stokes it was. In April 1837 there was an abscondment, and an arrest/apprehension in May of that year, and in 1843 there was a record of convict indulgences.

                    From the Australian government website regarding “convict indulgences”:

                    “By the mid-1830s only six per cent of convicts were locked up. The vast majority worked for the government or free settlers and, with good behaviour, could earn a ticket of leave, conditional pardon or and even an absolute pardon. While under such orders convicts could earn their own living.”


                    In 1856 in Camden, NSW, Isaac Stokes married Catherine Daly. With no further information on this record it would be impossible to know for sure if this was the right Isaac Stokes. This couple had six children, all in the Camden area, but none of the records provided enough information. No occupation or place or date of birth recorded for Isaac Stokes.

                    I wrote to the National Library of Australia about the marriage record, and their reply was a surprise! Issac and Catherine were married on 30 September 1856, at the house of the Rev. Charles William Rigg, a Methodist minister, and it was recorded that Isaac was born in Edinburgh in 1821, to parents James Stokes and Sarah Ellis!  The age at the time of the marriage doesn’t match Isaac’s age at death in 1877, and clearly the place of birth and parents didn’t match either. Only his fathers occupation of stone mason was correct.  I wrote back to the helpful people at the library and they replied that the register was in a very poor condition and that only two and a half entries had survived at all, and that Isaac and Catherines marriage was recorded over two pages.

                    I searched for an Isaac Stokes born in 1821 in Edinburgh on the Scotland government website (and on all the other genealogy records sites) and didn’t find it. In fact Stokes was a very uncommon name in Scotland at the time. I also searched Australian immigration and other records for another Isaac Stokes born in Scotland or born in 1821, and found nothing.  I was unable to find a single record to corroborate this mysterious other Isaac Stokes.

                    As the age at death in 1877 was correct, I assume that either Isaac was lying, or that some mistake was made either on the register at the home of the Methodist minster, or a subsequent mistranscription or muddle on the remnants of the surviving register.  Therefore I remain convinced that the Camden stonemason Isaac Stokes was indeed our Isaac from Oxfordshire.


                    I found a history society newsletter article that mentioned Isaac Stokes, stone mason, had built the Glenmore church, near Camden, in 1859.

                    Glenmore Church


                    From the Wollondilly museum April 2020 newsletter:

                    Glenmore Church Stokes


                    From the Camden History website:

                    “The stone set over the porch of Glenmore Church gives the date of 1860. The church was begun in 1859 on land given by Joseph Moore. James Rogers of Picton was given the contract to build and local builder, Mr. Stokes, carried out the work. Elizabeth Moore, wife of Edward, laid the foundation stone. The first service was held on 19th March 1860. The cemetery alongside the church contains the headstones and memorials of the areas early pioneers.”


                    Isaac died on the 3rd September 1877. The inquest report puts his place of death as Bagdelly, near to Camden, and another death register has put Cambelltown, also very close to Camden.  His age was recorded as 71 and the inquest report states his cause of death was “rupture of one of the large pulmonary vessels of the lung”.  His wife Catherine died in childbirth in 1870 at the age of 43.


                    Isaac and Catherine’s children:

                    William Stokes 1857-1928

                    Catherine Stokes 1859-1846

                    Sarah Josephine Stokes 1861-1931

                    Ellen Stokes 1863-1932

                    Rosanna Stokes 1865-1919

                    Louisa Stokes 1868-1844.


                    It’s possible that Catherine Daly was a transported convict from Ireland.


                      The Hamstall Ridware Connection

                      Stubbs and Woods

                      Hamstall RidwareHamstall Ridware



                      Charles Tomlinson‘s (1847-1907) wife Emma Grattidge (1853-1911) was born in Wolverhampton, the daughter and youngest child of William Grattidge (1820-1887) born in Foston, Derbyshire, and Mary Stubbs (1819-1880), born in Burton on Trent, daughter of Solomon Stubbs.

                      Solomon Stubbs (1781-1857) was born in Hamstall Ridware in 1781, the son of Samuel and Rebecca.  Samuel Stubbs (1743-) and Rebecca Wood (1754-) married in 1769 in Darlaston.  Samuel and Rebecca had six other children, all born in Darlaston. Sadly four of them died in infancy. Son John was born in 1779 in Darlaston and died two years later in Hamstall Ridware in 1781, the same year that Solomon was born there.

                      But why did they move to Hamstall Ridware?

                      Samuel Stubbs was born in 1743 in Curdworth, Warwickshire (near to Birmingham).  I had made a mistake on the tree (along with all of the public trees on the Ancestry website) and had Rebecca Wood born in Cheddleton, Staffordshire.  Rebecca Wood from Cheddleton was also born in 1843, the right age for the marriage.  The Rebecca Wood born in Darlaston in 1754 seemed too young, at just fifteen years old at the time of the marriage.  I couldn’t find any explanation for why a woman from Cheddleton would marry in Darlaston and then move to Hamstall Ridware.  People didn’t usually move around much other than intermarriage with neighbouring villages, especially women.  I had a closer look at the Darlaston Rebecca, and did a search on her father William Wood.  I found his 1784 will online in which he mentions his daughter Rebecca, wife of Samuel Stubbs.  Clearly the right Rebecca Wood was the one born in Darlaston, which made much more sense.

                      An excerpt from William Wood’s 1784 will mentioning daughter Rebecca married to Samuel Stubbs:

                      Wm Wood will


                      But why did they move to Hamstall Ridware circa 1780?

                      I had not intially noticed that Solomon Stubbs married again the year after his wife Phillis Lomas (1787-1844) died.  Solomon married Charlotte Bell in 1845 in Burton on Trent and on the marriage register, Solomon’s father Samuel Stubbs occupation was mentioned: Samuel was a buckle maker.

                      Marriage of Solomon Stubbs and Charlotte Bell, father Samuel Stubbs buckle maker:

                      Samuel Stubbs buckle maker


                      A rudimentary search on buckle making in the late 1700s provided a possible answer as to why Samuel and Rebecca left Darlaston in 1781.  Shoe buckles had gone out of fashion, and by 1781 there were half as many buckle makers in Wolverhampton as there had been previously.

                      “Where there were 127 buckle makers at work in Wolverhampton, 68 in Bilston and 58 in Birmingham in 1770, their numbers had halved in 1781.”

                      via “historywebsite”(museum/metalware/steel)

                      Steel buckles had been the height of fashion, and the trade became enormous in Wolverhampton.  Wolverhampton was a steel working town, renowned for its steel jewellery which was probably of many types.  The trade directories show great numbers of “buckle makers”.  Steel buckles were predominantly made in Wolverhampton: “from the late 1760s cut steel comes to the fore, from the thriving industry of the Wolverhampton area”. Bilston was also a great centre of buckle making, and other areas included Walsall. (It should be noted that Darlaston, Walsall, Bilston and Wolverhampton are all part of the same area)

                      In 1860, writing in defence of the Wolverhampton Art School, George Wallis talks about the cut steel industry in Wolverhampton.  Referring to “the fine steel workers of the 17th and 18th centuries” he says: “Let them remember that 100 years ago [sc. c. 1760] a large trade existed with France and Spain in the fine steel goods of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, of which the latter were always allowed to be the best both in taste and workmanship.  … A century ago French and Spanish merchants had their houses and agencies at Birmingham for the purchase of the steel goods of Wolverhampton…..The Great Revolution in France put an end to the demand for fine steel goods for a time and hostile tariffs finished what revolution began”.


                      The next search on buckle makers, Wolverhampton and Hamstall Ridware revealed an unexpected connecting link.

                      In Riotous Assemblies: Popular Protest in Hanoverian England by Adrian Randall:

                      Riotous AssemblesHamstall Ridware

                      In Walsall in 1750 on “Restoration Day” a crowd numbering 300 assembled, mostly buckle makers,  singing  Jacobite songs and other rebellious and riotous acts.  The government was particularly worried about a curious meeting known as the “Jubilee” in Hamstall Ridware, which may have been part of a conspiracy for a Jacobite uprising.


                      But this was thirty years before Samuel and Rebecca moved to Hamstall Ridware and does not help to explain why they moved there around 1780, although it does suggest connecting links.

                      Rebecca’s father, William Wood, was a brickmaker.  This was stated at the beginning of his will.  On closer inspection of the will, he was a brickmaker who owned four acres of brick kilns, as well as dwelling houses, shops, barns, stables, a brewhouse, a malthouse, cattle and land.

                      A page from the 1784 will of William Wood:

                      will Wm Wood


                      The 1784 will of William Wood of Darlaston:

                      I William Wood the elder of Darlaston in the county of Stafford, brickmaker, being of sound and disposing mind memory and understanding (praised be to god for the same) do make publish and declare my last will and testament in manner and form following (that is to say) {after debts and funeral expense paid etc} I give to my loving wife Mary the use usage wear interest and enjoyment of all my goods chattels cattle stock in trade ~ money securities for money personal estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever to hold unto her my said wife for and during the term of her natural life providing she so long continues my widow and unmarried and from or after her decease or intermarriage with any future husband which shall first happen.

                      Then I give all the said goods chattels cattle stock in trade money securites for money personal estate and effects unto my son Abraham Wood absolutely and forever. Also I give devise and bequeath unto my said wife Mary all that my messuages tenement or dwelling house together with the malthouse brewhouse barn stableyard garden and premises to the same belonging situate and being at Darlaston aforesaid and now in my own possession. Also all that messuage tenement or dwelling house together with the shop garden and premises with the appurtenances to the same ~ belonging situate in Darlaston aforesaid and now in the several holdings or occupation of George Knowles and Edward Knowles to hold the aforesaid premises and every part thereof with the appurtenances to my said wife Mary for and during the term of her natural life provided she so long continues my widow and unmarried. And from or after her decease or intermarriage with a future husband which shall first happen. Then I give and devise the aforesaid premises and every part thereof with the appurtenances unto my said son Abraham Wood his heirs and assigns forever.

                      Also I give unto my said wife all that piece or parcel of land or ground inclosed and taken out of Heath Field in the parish of Darlaston aforesaid containing four acres or thereabouts (be the same more or less) upon which my brick kilns erected and now in my own possession. To hold unto my said wife Mary until my said son Abraham attains his age of twenty one years if she so long continues my widow and unmarried as aforesaid and from and immediately after my said son Abraham attaining his age of twenty one years or my said wife marrying again as aforesaid which shall first happen then I give the said piece or parcel of land or ground and premises unto my said son Abraham his heirs and assigns forever.

                      And I do hereby charge all the aforesaid premises with the payment of the sum of twenty pounds a piece to each of my daughters namely Elizabeth the wife of Ambrose Dudall and Rebecca the wife of Samuel Stubbs which said sum of twenty pounds each I devise may be paid to them by my said son Abraham when and so soon as he attains his age of twenty one years provided always and my mind and will is that if my said son Abraham should happen to depart this life without leaving issue of his body lawfully begotten before he attains his age of twenty one years then I give and devise all the aforesaid premises and every part thereof with the appurtenances so given to my said son Abraham as aforesaid unto my said son William Wood and my said daughter Elizabeth Dudall and Rebecca Stubbs their heirs and assigns forever equally divided among them share and share alike as tenants in common and not as joint tenants. And lastly I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my said wife Mary and my said son Abraham executrix and executor of this my will.



                      The marriage of William Wood (1725-1784) and Mary Clews (1715-1798) in 1749 was in Hamstall Ridware.

                      Wm Wood Mary Clews


                      Mary was eleven years Williams senior, and it appears that they both came from Hamstall Ridware and moved to Darlaston after they married. Clearly Rebecca had extended family there (notwithstanding any possible connecting links between the Stubbs buckle makers of Darlaston and the Hamstall Ridware Jacobites thirty years prior).  When the buckle trade collapsed in Darlaston, they likely moved to find employment elsewhere, perhaps with the help of Rebecca’s family.

                      I have not yet been able to find deaths recorded anywhere for either Samuel or Rebecca (there are a couple of deaths recorded for a Samuel Stubbs, one in 1809 in Wolverhampton, and one in 1810 in Birmingham but impossible to say which, if either, is the right one with the limited information, and difficult to know if they stayed in the Hamstall Ridware area or perhaps moved elsewhere)~ or find a reason for their son Solomon to be in Burton upon Trent, an evidently prosperous man with several properties including an earthenware business, as well as a land carrier business.


                        The House on Penn Common

                        Toi Fang and the Duke of Sutherland





                        Penn Common



                        Charles Tomlinson (1873-1929) my great grandfather, was born in Wolverhampton in 1873. His father Charles Tomlinson (1847-1907) was a licensed victualler or publican, or alternatively a vet/castrator. He married Emma Grattidge (1853-1911) in 1872. On the 1881 census they were living at The Wheel in Wolverhampton.

                        Charles married Nellie Fisher (1877-1956) in Wolverhampton in 1896. In 1901 they were living next to the post office in Upper Penn, with children (Charles) Sidney Tomlinson (1896-1955), and Hilda Tomlinson (1898-1977) . Charles was a vet/castrator working on his own account.

                        In 1911 their address was 4, Wakely Hill, Penn, and living with them were their children Hilda, Frank Tomlinson (1901-1975), (Dorothy) Phyllis Tomlinson (1905-1982), Nellie Tomlinson (1906-1978) and May Tomlinson (1910-1983). Charles was a castrator working on his own account.

                        Charles and Nellie had a further four children: Charles Fisher Tomlinson (1911-1977), Margaret Tomlinson (1913-1989) (my grandmother Peggy), Major Tomlinson (1916-1984) and Norah Mary Tomlinson (1919-2010).

                        My father told me that my grandmother had fallen down the well at the house on Penn Common in 1915 when she was two years old, and sent me a photo of her standing next to the well when she revisted the house at a much later date.

                        Peggy next to the well on Penn Common:

                        Peggy well Penn


                        My grandmother Peggy told me that her father had had a racehorse called Toi Fang. She remembered the racing colours were sky blue and orange, and had a set of racing silks made which she sent to my father.
                        Through a DNA match, I met Ian Tomlinson. Ian is the son of my fathers favourite cousin Roger, Frank’s son. Ian found some racing silks and sent a photo to my father (they are now in contact with each other as a result of my DNA match with Ian), wondering what they were.

                        Toi Fang


                        When Ian sent a photo of these racing silks, I had a look in the newspaper archives. In 1920 there are a number of mentions in the racing news of Mr C Tomlinson’s horse TOI FANG. I have not found any mention of Toi Fang in the newspapers in the following years.

                        The Scotsman – Monday 12 July 1920:

                        Toi Fang



                        The other story that Ian Tomlinson recalled was about the house on Penn Common. Ian said he’d heard that the local titled person took Charles Tomlinson to court over building the house but that Tomlinson won the case because it was built on common land and was the first case of it’s kind.

                        Penn Common


                        Penn Common Right of Way Case:
                        Staffordshire Advertiser March 9, 1912

                        In the chancery division, on Tuesday, before Mr Justice Joyce, it was announced that a settlement had been arrived at of the Penn Common Right of Way case, the hearing of which occupied several days last month. The action was brought by the Duke of Sutherland (as Lord of the Manor of Penn) and Mr Harry Sydney Pitt (on behalf of himself and other freeholders of the manor having a right to pasturage on Penn Common) to restrain Mr James Lakin, Carlton House, Penn; Mr Charles Tomlinson, Mayfield Villa, Wakely Hill, Penn; and Mr Joseph Harold Simpkin, Dudley Road, Wolverhampton, from drawing building materials across the common, or otherwise causing injury to the soil.

                        The real point in dispute was whether there was a public highway for all purposes running by the side of the defendants land from the Turf Tavern past the golf club to the Barley Mow.
                        Mr Hughes, KC for the plaintiffs, now stated that the parties had been in consultation, and had come to terms, the substance of which was that the defendants admitted that there was no public right of way, and that they were granted a private way. This, he thought, would involve the granting of some deed or deeds to express the rights of the parties, and he suggested that the documents should be be settled by some counsel to be mutually agreed upon.

                        His lordship observed that the question of coal was probably the important point. Mr Younger said Mr Tomlinson was a freeholder, and the plaintiffs could not mine under him. Mr Hughes: The coal actually under his house is his, and, of course, subsidence might be produced by taking away coal some distance away. I think some document is required to determine his actual rights.
                        Mr Younger said he wanted to avoid anything that would increase the costs, but, after further discussion, it was agreed that Mr John Dixon (an expert on mineral rights), or failing him, another counsel satisfactory to both parties, should be invited to settle the terms scheduled in the agreement, in order to prevent any further dispute.


                        Penn Common case


                        The name of the house is Grassholme.  The address of Mayfield Villas is the house they were living in while building Grassholme, which I assume they had not yet moved in to at the time of the newspaper article in March 1912.



                        What my grandmother didn’t tell anyone was how her father died in 1929:


                        1929 Charles Tomlinson



                        On the 1921 census, Charles, Nellie and eight of their children were living at 269 Coleman Street, Wolverhampton.

                        1921 census Tomlinson



                        They were living on Coleman Street in 1915 when Charles was fined for staying open late.

                        Staffordshire Advertiser – Saturday 13 February 1915:


                        1915 butcher fined


                        What is not yet clear is why they moved from the house on Penn Common sometime between 1912 and 1915. And why did he have a racehorse in 1920?


                        In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg


                          When she’d heard of the miracle happening at the Flovlinden Tree, Egna initially shrugged it off as another conman’s attempt at fooling the crowds.

                          “No, it’s real, my Auntie saw it.”

                          “Stop fretting” she’d told the little girl, as she was carefully removing the lice from her hair. “This is just someone’s idea of a smart joke. Don’t get fooled, you’re smarter than this.”

                          She sure wasn’t responsible for that one. If that were a true miracle, she would have known. The little calf next week being resuscitated after being dead a few minutes, well, that was her. Shame nobody was even there to notice. Most of the best miracles go about this way anyway.

                          So, after having lived close to a millennia in relatively rock solid health and with surprisingly unaging looks, Egna had thought she’d seen it all; at least last time the tree started to ooze sacred oil, it didn’t last for too long, people’s greed starting to sell it stopped it right in its tracks.

                          But maybe there was more to it this time. Egna’d often wondered why God had let her live that long. She was a useful instrument to Her for sure, but living in secrecy, claiming no ownership, most miracles were just facts of life. She somehow failed to see the point, even after 957 years of existence.

                          The little girl had left to go back to her nearby town. This side of the country was still quite safe from all the craziness. Egna knew well most of the branches of the ancestral trees leading to that particular little leaf. This one had probably no idea she shared a common ancestor with President Voldomeer, but Egna remembered the fellow. He was a clogmaker in the turn of the 18th century, as was his father before. That was until a rather unexpected turn of events precipitated him to a different path as his brother.

                          She had a book full of these records, as she’d tracked the lives of many, to keep them alive, and maybe remind people they all share so much in common. That is, if people were able to remember more than 2 generations before them.

                          “Well, that’s set.” she said to herself and to Her as She’s always listening “I’ll go and see for myself.”
                          her trusty old musty cloak at the door seemed to have been begging for the journey.


                            Looking for Robert Staley


                            William Warren (1835-1880) of Newhall (Stapenhill) married Elizabeth Staley (1836-1907) in 1858. Elizabeth was born in Newhall, the daughter of John Staley (1795-1876) and Jane Brothers. John was born in Newhall, and Jane was born in Armagh, Ireland, and they were married in Armagh in 1820. Elizabeths older brothers were born in Ireland: William in 1826 and Thomas in Dublin in 1830. Francis was born in Liverpool in 1834, and then Elizabeth in Newhall in 1836; thereafter the children were born in Newhall.

                            Marriage of John Staley and Jane Brothers in 1820:

                            1820 marriage Armagh



                            My grandmother related a story about an Elizabeth Staley who ran away from boarding school and eloped to Ireland, but later returned. The only Irish connection found so far is Jane Brothers, so perhaps she meant Elizabeth Staley’s mother. A boarding school seems unlikely, and it would seem that it was John Staley who went to Ireland.

                            The 1841 census states Jane’s age as 33, which would make her just 12 at the time of her marriage. The 1851 census states her age as 44, making her 13 at the time of her 1820 marriage, and the 1861 census estimates her birth year as a more likely 1804. Birth records in Ireland for her have not been found. It’s possible, perhaps, that she was in service in the Newhall area as a teenager (more likely than boarding school), and that John and Jane ran off to get married in Ireland, although I haven’t found any record of a child born to them early in their marriage. John was an agricultural labourer, and later a coal miner.

                            John Staley was the son of Joseph Staley (1756-1838) and Sarah Dumolo (1764-). Joseph and Sarah were married by licence in Newhall in 1782. Joseph was a carpenter on the marriage licence, but later a collier (although not necessarily a miner).

                            The Derbyshire Record Office holds records of  an “Estimate of Joseph Staley of Newhall for the cost of continuing to work Pisternhill Colliery” dated 1820 and addresssed to Mr Bloud at Calke Abbey (presumably the owner of the mine)

                            Josephs parents were Robert Staley and Elizabeth. I couldn’t find a baptism or birth record for Robert Staley. Other trees on an ancestry site had his birth in Elton, but with no supporting documents. Robert, as stated in his 1795 will, was a Yeoman.

                            “Yeoman: A former class of small freeholders who farm their own land; a commoner of good standing.”
                            “Husbandman: The old word for a farmer below the rank of yeoman. A husbandman usually held his land by copyhold or leasehold tenure and may be regarded as the ‘average farmer in his locality’. The words ‘yeoman’ and ‘husbandman’ were gradually replaced in the later 18th and 19th centuries by ‘farmer’.”

                            He left a number of properties in Newhall and Hartshorne (near Newhall) including dwellings, enclosures, orchards, various yards, barns and acreages. It seemed to me more likely that he had inherited them, rather than moving into the village and buying them.

                            There is a mention of Robert Staley in a 1782 newpaper advertisement.

                            “Fire Engine To Be Sold.  An exceedingly good fire engine, with the boiler, cylinder, etc in good condition. For particulars apply to Mr Burslem at Burton-upon-Trent, or Robert Staley at Newhall near Burton, where the engine may be seen.”

                            fire engine


                            Was the fire engine perhaps connected with a foundry or a coal mine?

                            I noticed that Robert Staley was the witness at a 1755 marriage in Stapenhill between Barbara Burslem and Richard Daston the younger esquire. The other witness was signed Burslem Jnr.


                            Looking for Robert Staley


                            I assumed that once again, in the absence of the correct records, a similarly named and aged persons baptism had been added to the tree regardless of accuracy, so I looked through the Stapenhill/Newhall parish register images page by page. There were no Staleys in Newhall at all in the early 1700s, so it seemed that Robert did come from elsewhere and I expected to find the Staleys in a neighbouring parish. But I still didn’t find any Staleys.

                            I spoke to a couple of Staley descendants that I’d met during the family research. I met Carole via a DNA match some months previously and contacted her to ask about the Staleys in Elton. She also had Robert Staley born in Elton (indeed, there were many Staleys in Elton) but she didn’t have any documentation for his birth, and we decided to collaborate and try and find out more.

                            I couldn’t find the earlier Elton parish registers anywhere online, but eventually found the untranscribed microfiche images of the Bishops Transcripts for Elton.

                            via familysearch:
                            “In its most basic sense, a bishop’s transcript is a copy of a parish register. As bishop’s transcripts generally contain more or less the same information as parish registers, they are an invaluable resource when a parish register has been damaged, destroyed, or otherwise lost. Bishop’s transcripts are often of value even when parish registers exist, as priests often recorded either additional or different information in their transcripts than they did in the original registers.”


                            Unfortunately there was a gap in the Bishops Transcripts between 1704 and 1711 ~ exactly where I needed to look. I subsequently found out that the Elton registers were incomplete as they had been damaged by fire.

                            I estimated Robert Staleys date of birth between 1710 and 1715. He died in 1795, and his son Daniel died in 1805: both of these wills were found online. Daniel married Mary Moon in Stapenhill in 1762, making a likely birth date for Daniel around 1740.

                            The marriage of Robert Staley (assuming this was Robert’s father) and Alice Maceland (or Marsland or Marsden, depending on how the parish clerk chose to spell it presumably) was in the Bishops Transcripts for Elton in 1704. They were married in Elton on 26th February. There followed the missing parish register pages and in all likelihood the records of the baptisms of their first children. No doubt Robert was one of them, probably the first male child.

                            (Incidentally, my grandfather’s Marshalls also came from Elton, a small Derbyshire village near Matlock.  The Staley’s are on my grandmothers Warren side.)

                            The parish register pages resume in 1711. One of the first entries was the baptism of Robert Staley in 1711, parents Thomas and Ann. This was surely the one we were looking for, and Roberts parents weren’t Robert and Alice.

                            But then in 1735 a marriage was recorded between Robert son of Robert Staley (and this was unusual, the father of the groom isn’t usually recorded on the parish register) and Elizabeth Milner. They were married on the 9th March 1735. We know that the Robert we were looking for married an Elizabeth, as her name was on the Stapenhill baptisms of their later children, including Joseph Staleys.  The 1735 marriage also fit with the assumed birth date of Daniel, circa 1740. A baptism was found for a Robert Staley in 1738 in the Elton registers, parents Robert and Elizabeth, as well as the baptism in 1736 for Mary, presumably their first child. Her burial is recorded the following year.

                            The marriage of Robert Staley and Elizabeth Milner in 1735:

                            rbt staley marriage 1735


                            There were several other Staley couples of a similar age in Elton, perhaps brothers and cousins. It seemed that Thomas and Ann’s son Robert was a different Robert, and that the one we were looking for was prior to that and on the missing pages.

                            Even so, this doesn’t prove that it was Elizabeth Staleys great grandfather who was born in Elton, but no other birth or baptism for Robert Staley has been found. It doesn’t explain why the Staleys moved to Stapenhill either, although the Enclosures Act and the Industrial Revolution could have been factors.

                            The 18th century saw the rise of the Industrial Revolution and many renowned Derbyshire Industrialists emerged. They created the turning point from what was until then a largely rural economy, to the development of townships based on factory production methods.

                            The Marsden Connection

                            There are some possible clues in the records of the Marsden family.  Robert Staley married Alice Marsden (or Maceland or Marsland) in Elton in 1704.  Robert Staley is mentioned in the 1730 will of John Marsden senior,  of Baslow, Innkeeper (Peacock Inne & Whitlands Farm). He mentions his daughter Alice, wife of Robert Staley.

                            In a 1715 Marsden will there is an intriguing mention of an alias, which might explain the different spellings on various records for the name Marsden:  “MARSDEN alias MASLAND, Christopher – of Baslow, husbandman, 28 Dec 1714. son Robert MARSDEN alias MASLAND….” etc.

                            Some potential reasons for a move from one parish to another are explained in this history of the Marsden family, and indeed this could relate to Robert Staley as he married into the Marsden family and his wife was a beneficiary of a Marsden will.  The Chatsworth Estate, at various times, bought a number of farms in order to extend the park.

                            THE MARSDEN FAMILY
                            OXCLOSE AND PARKGATE
                            In the Parishes of
                            Baslow and Chatsworth

                            David Dalrymple-Smith

                            John Marsden (b1653) another son of Edmund (b1611) faired well. By the time he died in
                            1730 he was publican of the Peacock, the Inn on Church Lane now called the Cavendish
                            Hotel, and the farmer at “Whitlands”, almost certainly Bubnell Cliff Farm.”

                            “Coal mining was well known in the Chesterfield area. The coalfield extends as far as the
                            Gritstone edges, where thin seams outcrop especially in the Baslow area.”

                            “…the occupants were evicted from the farmland below Dobb Edge and
                            the ground carefully cleared of all traces of occupation and farming. Shelter belts were
                            planted especially along the Heathy Lea Brook. An imposing new drive was laid to the
                            Chatsworth House with the Lodges and “The Golden Gates” at its northern end….”

                            Although this particular event was later than any events relating to Robert Staley, it’s an indication of how farms and farmland disappeared, and a reason for families to move to another area:

                            “The Dukes of Devonshire (of Chatsworth)  were major figures in the aristocracy and the government of the
                            time. Such a position demanded a display of wealth and ostentation. The 6th Duke of
                            Devonshire, the Bachelor Duke, was not content with the Chatsworth he inherited in 1811,
                            and immediately started improvements. After major changes around Edensor, he turned his
                            attention at the north end of the Park. In 1820 plans were made extend the Park up to the
                            Baslow parish boundary. As this would involve the destruction of most of the Farm at
                            Oxclose, the farmer at the Higher House Samuel Marsden (b1755) was given the tenancy of
                            Ewe Close a large farm near Bakewell.
                            Plans were revised in 1824 when the Dukes of Devonshire and Rutland “Exchanged Lands”,
                            reputedly during a game of dice. Over 3300 acres were involved in several local parishes, of
                            which 1000 acres were in Baslow. In the deal Devonshire acquired the southeast corner of
                            Baslow Parish.
                            Part of the deal was Gibbet Moor, which was developed for “Sport”. The shelf of land
                            between Parkgate and Robin Hood and a few extra fields was left untouched. The rest,
                            between Dobb Edge and Baslow, was agricultural land with farms, fields and houses. It was
                            this last part that gave the Duke the opportunity to improve the Park beyond his earlier


                            The 1795 will of Robert Staley.

                            Inriguingly, Robert included the children of his son Daniel Staley in his will, but omitted to leave anything to Daniel.  A perusal of Daniels 1808 will sheds some light on this:  Daniel left his property to his six reputed children with Elizabeth Moon, and his reputed daughter Mary Brearly. Daniels wife was Mary Moon, Elizabeths husband William Moons daughter.

                            The will of Robert Staley, 1795:

                            1795 will 21795 Rbt Staley will


                            The 1805 will of Daniel Staley, Robert’s son:

                            This is the last will and testament of me Daniel Staley of the Township of Newhall in the parish of Stapenhill in the County of Derby, Farmer. I will and order all of my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses to be fully paid and satisfied by my executors hereinafter named by and out of my personal estate as soon as conveniently may be after my decease.

                            I give, devise and bequeath to Humphrey Trafford Nadin of Church Gresely in the said County of Derby Esquire and John Wilkinson of Newhall aforesaid yeoman all my messuages, lands, tenements, hereditaments and real and personal estates to hold to them, their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns until Richard Moon the youngest of my reputed sons by Elizabeth Moon shall attain his age of twenty one years upon trust that they, my said trustees, (or the survivor of them, his heirs, executors, administrators or assigns), shall and do manage and carry on my farm at Newhall aforesaid and pay and apply the rents, issues and profits of all and every of my said real and personal estates in for and towards the support, maintenance and education of all my reputed children by the said Elizabeth Moon until the said Richard Moon my youngest reputed son shall attain his said age of twenty one years and equally share and share and share alike.

                            And it is my will and desire that my said trustees or trustee for the time being shall recruit and keep up the stock upon my farm as they in their discretion shall see occasion or think proper and that the same shall not be diminished. And in case any of my said reputed children by the said Elizabeth Moon shall be married before my said reputed youngest son shall attain his age of twenty one years that then it is my will and desire that non of their husbands or wives shall come to my farm or be maintained there or have their abode there. That it is also my will and desire in case my reputed children or any of them shall not be steady to business but instead shall be wild and diminish the stock that then my said trustees or trustee for the time being shall have full power and authority in their discretion to sell and dispose of all or any part of my said personal estate and to put out the money arising from the sale thereof to interest and to pay and apply the interest thereof and also thereunto of the said real estate in for and towards the maintenance, education and support of all my said reputed children by the said
                            Elizabeth Moon as they my said trustees in their discretion that think proper until the said Richard Moon shall attain his age of twenty one years.

                            Then I give to my grandson Daniel Staley the sum of ten pounds and to each and every of my sons and daughters namely Daniel Staley, Benjamin Staley, John Staley, William Staley, Elizabeth Dent and Sarah Orme and to my niece Ann Brearly the sum of five pounds apiece.

                            I give to my youngest reputed son Richard Moon one share in the Ashby Canal Navigation and I direct that my said trustees or trustee for the time being shall have full power and authority to pay and apply all or any part of the fortune or legacy hereby intended for my youngest reputed son Richard Moon in placing him out to any trade, business or profession as they in their discretion shall think proper.
                            And I direct that to my said sons and daughters by my late wife and my said niece shall by wholly paid by my said reputed son Richard Moon out of the fortune herby given him. And it is my will and desire that my said reputed children shall deliver into the hands of my executors all the monies that shall arise from the carrying on of my business that is not wanted to carry on the same unto my acting executor and shall keep a just and true account of all disbursements and receipts of the said business and deliver up the same to my acting executor in order that there may not be any embezzlement or defraud amongst them and from and immediately after my said reputed youngest son Richard Moon shall attain his age of twenty one years then I give, devise and bequeath all my real estate and all the residue and remainder of my personal estate of what nature and kind whatsoever and wheresoever unto and amongst all and every my said reputed sons and daughters namely William Moon, Thomas Moon, Joseph Moon, Richard Moon, Ann Moon, Margaret Moon and to my reputed daughter Mary Brearly to hold to them and their respective heirs, executors, administrator and assigns for ever according to the nature and tenure of the same estates respectively to take the same as tenants in common and not as joint tenants.

                            And lastly I nominate and appoint the said Humphrey Trafford Nadin and John Wilkinson executors of this my last will and testament and guardians of all my reputed children who are under age during their respective minorities hereby revoking all former and other wills by me heretofore made and declaring this only to be my last will.

                            In witness whereof I the said Daniel Staley the testator have to this my last will and testament set my hand and seal the eleventh day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five.



                              The Hollands of Barton under Needwood


                              Samuel Warren of Stapenhill married Catherine Holland of Barton under Needwood in 1795.

                              I joined a Barton under Needwood History group and found an incredible amount of information on the Holland family, but first I wanted to make absolutely sure that our Catherine Holland was one of them as there were also Hollands in Newhall. Not only that, on the marriage licence it says that Catherine Holland was from Bretby Park Gate, Stapenhill.

                              Then I noticed that one of the witnesses on Samuel’s brother Williams marriage to Ann Holland in 1796 was John Hair. Hannah Hair was the wife of Thomas Holland, and they were the Barton under Needwood parents of Catherine. Catherine was born in 1775, and Ann was born in 1767.

                              The 1851 census clinched it: Catherine Warren 74 years old, widow and formerly a farmers wife, was living in the household of her son John Warren, and her place of birth is listed as Barton under Needwood. In 1841 Catherine was a 64 year old widow, her husband Samuel having died in 1837, and she was living with her son Samuel, a farmer. The 1841 census did not list place of birth, however. Catherine died on 31 March 1861 and does not appear on the 1861 census.

                              Once I had established that our Catherine Holland was from Barton under Needwood, I had another look at the information available on the Barton under Needwood History group, compiled by local historian Steve Gardner.

                              Catherine’s parents were Thomas Holland 1737-1828 and Hannah Hair 1739-1822.

                              Steve Gardner had posted a long list of the dates, marriages and children of the Holland family. The earliest entries in parish registers were Thomae Holland 1562-1626 and his wife Eunica Edwardes 1565-1632. They married on 10th July 1582. They were born, married and died in Barton under Needwood. They were direct ancestors of Catherine Holland, and as such my direct ancestors too.

                              The known history of the Holland family in Barton under Needwood goes back to Richard De Holland. (Thanks once again to Steve Gardner of the Barton under Needwood History group for this information.)

                              “Richard de Holland was the first member of the Holland family to become resident in Barton under Needwood (in about 1312) having been granted lands by the Earl of Lancaster (for whom Richard served as Stud and Stock Keeper of the Peak District) The Holland family stemmed from Upholland in Lancashire and had many family connections working for the Earl of Lancaster, who was one of the biggest Barons in England. Lancaster had his own army and lived at Tutbury Castle, from where he ruled over most of the Midlands area. The Earl of Lancaster was one of the main players in the ‘Barons Rebellion’ and the ensuing Battle of Burton Bridge in 1322. Richard de Holland was very much involved in the proceedings which had so angered Englands King. Holland narrowly escaped with his life, unlike the Earl who was executed.
                              From the arrival of that first Holland family member, the Hollands were a mainstay family in the community, and were in Barton under Needwood for over 600 years.”

                              Continuing with various items of information regarding the Hollands, thanks to Steve Gardner’s Barton under Needwood history pages:

                              “PART 6 (Final Part)
                              Some mentions of The Manor of Barton in the Ancient Staffordshire Rolls:
                              1330. A Grant was made to Herbert de Ferrars, at le Newland in the Manor of Barton.
                              1378. The Inquisitio bonorum – Johannis Holand — an interesting Inventory of his goods and their value and his debts.
                              1380. View of Frankpledge ; the Jury found that Richard Holland was feloniously murdered by his wife Joan and Thomas Graunger, who fled. The goods of the deceased were valued at iiij/. iijj. xid. ; one-third went to the dead man, one-third to his son, one- third to the Lord for the wife’s share. Compare 1 H. V. Indictments. (1413.)
                              That Thomas Graunger of Barton smyth and Joan the wife of Richard de Holond of Barton on the Feast of St. John the Baptist 10 H. II. (1387) had traitorously killed and murdered at night, at Barton, Richard, the husband of the said Joan. (m. 22.)
                              The names of various members of the Holland family appear constantly among the listed Jurors on the manorial records printed below : —
                              1539. Richard Holland and Richard Holland the younger are on the Muster Roll of Barton
                              1583. Thomas Holland and Unica his wife are living at Barton.
                              1663-4. Visitations. — Barton under Needword. Disclaimers. William Holland, Senior, William Holland, Junior.
                              1609. Richard Holland, Clerk and Alice, his wife.
                              1663-4. Disclaimers at the Visitation. William Holland, Senior, William Holland, Junior.”

                              I was able to find considerably more information on the Hollands in the book “Some Records of the Holland Family (The Hollands of Barton under Needwood, Staffordshire, and the Hollands in History)” by William Richard Holland. Luckily the full text of this book can be found online.

                              William Richard Holland (Died 1915) An early local Historian and author of the book:

                              William Richard Holland


                              ‘Holland House’ taken from the Gardens (sadly demolished in the early 60’s):

                              Holland House


                              Excerpt from the book:

                              “The charter, dated 1314, granting Richard rights and privileges in Needwood Forest, reads as follows:

                              “Thomas Earl of Lancaster and Leicester, high-steward of England, to whom all these present shall come, greeting: Know ye, that we have given, &c., to Richard Holland of Barton, and his heirs, housboot, heyboot, and fireboot, and common of pasture, in our forest of Needwood, for all his beasts, as well in places fenced as lying open, with 40 hogs, quit of pawnage in our said forest at all times in the year (except hogs only in fence month). All which premises we will warrant, &c. to the said Richard and his heirs against all people for ever”

                              “The terms “housboot” “heyboot” and “fireboot” meant that Richard and his heirs were to have the privilege of taking from the Forest, wood needed for house repair and building, hedging material for the repairing of fences, and what was needful for purposes of fuel.”

                              Further excerpts from the book:

                              “It may here be mentioned that during the renovation of Barton Church, when the stone pillars were being stripped of the plaster which covered them, “William Holland 1617” was found roughly carved on a pillar near to the belfry gallery, obviously the work of a not too devout member of the family, who, seated in the gallery of that time, occupied himself thus during the service. The inscription can still be seen.”

                              “The earliest mention of a Holland of Upholland occurs in the reign of John in a Final Concord, made at the Lancashire Assizes, dated November 5th, 1202, in which Uchtred de Chryche, who seems to have had some right in the manor of Upholland, releases his right in fourteen oxgangs* of land to Matthew de Holland, in consideration of the sum of six marks of silver. Thus was planted the Holland Tree, all the early information of which is found in The Victoria County History of Lancaster.

                              As time went on, the family acquired more land, and with this, increased position. Thus, in the reign of Edward I, a Robert de Holland, son of Thurstan, son of Robert, became possessed of the manor of Orrell adjoining Upholland and of the lordship of Hale in the parish of Childwall, and, through marriage with Elizabeth de Samlesbury (co-heiress of Sir Wm. de Samlesbury of Samlesbury, Hall, near to Preston), of the moiety of that manor….

                              * An oxgang signified the amount of land that could be ploughed by one ox in one day”

                              “This Robert de Holland, son of Thurstan, received Knighthood in the reign of Edward I, as did also his brother William, ancestor of that branch of the family which later migrated to Cheshire. Belonging to this branch are such noteworthy personages as Mrs. Gaskell, the talented authoress, her mother being a Holland of this branch, Sir Henry Holland, Physician to Queen Victoria, and his two sons, the first Viscount Knutsford, and Canon Francis Holland ; Sir Henry’s grandson (the present Lord Knutsford), Canon Scott Holland, etc. Captain Frederick Holland, R.N., late of Ashbourne Hall, Derbyshire, may also be mentioned here.*”

                              Thanks to the Barton under Needwood history group for the following:

                              WALES END FARM:
                              In 1509 it was owned and occupied by Mr Johannes Holland De Wallass end who was a well to do Yeoman Farmer (the origin of the areas name – Wales End).  Part of the building dates to 1490 making it probably the oldest building still standing in the Village:

                              Wales End Farm


                              I found records for all of the Holland’s listed on the Barton under Needwood History group and added them to my ancestry tree. The earliest will I found was for Eunica Edwardes, then Eunica Holland, who died in 1632.

                              A page from the 1632 will and inventory of Eunica (Unice) Holland:

                              Unice Holland


                              I’d been reading about “pedigree collapse” just before I found out her maiden name of Edwardes. Edwards is my own maiden name.

                              “In genealogy, pedigree collapse describes how reproduction between two individuals who knowingly or unknowingly share an ancestor causes the family tree of their offspring to be smaller than it would otherwise be.
                              Without pedigree collapse, a person’s ancestor tree is a binary tree, formed by the person, the parents, grandparents, and so on. However, the number of individuals in such a tree grows exponentially and will eventually become impossibly high. For example, a single individual alive today would, over 30 generations going back to the High Middle Ages, have roughly a billion ancestors, more than the total world population at the time. This apparent paradox occurs because the individuals in the binary tree are not distinct: instead, a single individual may occupy multiple places in the binary tree. This typically happens when the parents of an ancestor are cousins (sometimes unbeknownst to themselves). For example, the offspring of two first cousins has at most only six great-grandparents instead of the normal eight. This reduction in the number of ancestors is pedigree collapse. It collapses the binary tree into a directed acyclic graph with two different, directed paths starting from the ancestor who in the binary tree would occupy two places.” via wikipedia

                              There is nothing to suggest, however, that Eunica’s family were related to my fathers family, and the only evidence so far in my tree of pedigree collapse are the marriages of Orgill cousins, where two sets of grandparents are repeated.

                              A list of Holland ancestors:

                              Catherine Holland 1775-1861
                              her parents:
                              Thomas Holland 1737-1828   Hannah Hair 1739-1832
                              Thomas’s parents:
                              William Holland 1696-1756   Susannah Whiteing 1715-1752
                              William’s parents:
                              William Holland 1665-    Elizabeth Higgs 1675-1720
                              William’s parents:
                              Thomas Holland 1634-1681   Katherine Owen 1634-1728
                              Thomas’s parents:
                              Thomas Holland 1606-1680   Margaret Belcher 1608-1664
                              Thomas’s parents:
                              Thomas Holland 1562-1626   Eunice Edwardes 1565- 1632


                                The Warrens of Stapenhill


                                There were so many Warren’s in Stapenhill that it was complicated to work out who was who. I had gone back as far as Samuel Warren marrying Catherine Holland, and this was as far back as my cousin Ian Warren had gone in his research some decades ago as well. The Holland family from Barton under Needwood are particularly interesting, and will be a separate chapter.

                                Stapenhill village by John Harden:



                                Resuming the research on the Warrens, Samuel Warren 1771-1837 married Catherine Holland 1775-1861 in 1795 and their son Samuel Warren 1800-1882 married Elizabeth Bridge, whose childless brother Benjamin Bridge left the Warren Brothers Boiler Works in Newhall to his nephews, the Warren brothers.

                                Samuel Warren and Catherine Holland marriage licence 1795:

                                Samuel Warren Catherine Holland


                                Samuel (born 1771) was baptised at Stapenhill St Peter and his parents were William and Anne Warren. There were at least three William and Ann Warrens in town at the time. One of those William’s was born in 1744, which would seem to be the right age to be Samuel’s father, and one was born in 1710, which seemed a little too old. Another William, Guiliamos Warren (Latin was often used in early parish registers) was baptised in Stapenhill in 1729.

                                Stapenhill St Peter:

                                Stapenhill St Peter


                                William Warren (born 1744) appeared to have been born several months before his parents wedding. William Warren and Ann Insley married 16 July 1744, but the baptism of William in 1744 was 24 February. This seemed unusual ~ children were often born less than nine months after a wedding, but not usually before the wedding! Then I remembered the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Prior to 1752, the first day of the year was Lady Day, March 25th, not January 1st. This meant that the birth in February 1744 was actually after the wedding in July 1744. Now it made sense. The first son was named William, and he was born seven months after the wedding.

                                William born in 1744 died intestate in 1822, and his wife Ann made a legal claim to his estate. However he didn’t marry Ann Holland (Ann was Catherines Hollands sister, who married Samuel Warren the year before) until 1796, so this William and Ann were not the parents of Samuel.

                                It seemed likely that William born in 1744 was Samuels brother. William Warren and Ann Insley had at least eight children between 1744 and 1771, and it seems that Samuel was their last child, born when William the elder was 61 and his wife Ann was 47.

                                It seems it wasn’t unusual for the Warren men to marry rather late in life. William Warren’s (born 1710) parents were William Warren and Elizabeth Hatterton. On the marriage licence in 1702/1703 (it appears to say 1703 but is transcribed as 1702), William was a 40 year old bachelor from Stapenhill, which puts his date of birth at 1662. Elizabeth was considerably younger, aged 19.

                                William Warren and Elizabeth Hatterton marriage licence 1703:

                                William Warren 1702


                                These Warren’s were farmers, and they were literate and able to sign their own names on various documents. This is worth noting, as most made the mark of an X.

                                I found three Warren and Holland marriages. One was Samuel Warren and Catherine Holland in 1795, then William Warren and Ann Holland in 1796. William Warren and Ann Hollands daughter born in 1799 married John Holland in 1824.

                                Elizabeth Hatterton (wife of William Warren who was born circa 1662) was born in Burton upon Trent in 1685. Her parents were Edward Hatterton 1655-1722, and Sara.

                                A page from the 1722 will of Edward Hatterton:

                                Edward Hatterton 1722


                                The earliest Warren I found records for was William Warren who married Elizabeth Hatterton in 1703. The marriage licence states his age as 40 and that he was from Stapenhill, but none of the Stapenhill parish records online go back as far as 1662.  On other public trees on ancestry websites, a birth record from Suffolk has been chosen, probably because it was the only record to be found online with the right name and date. Once again, I don’t think that is correct, and perhaps one day I’ll find some earlier Stapenhill records to prove that he was born in locally.


                                Subsequently, I found a list of the 1662 Hearth Tax for Stapenhill. On it were a number of Warrens, three William Warrens including one who was a constable. One of those William Warrens had a son he named William (as they did, hence the number of William Warrens in the tree) the same year as this hearth tax list.

                                But was it the William Warren with 2 chimneys, the one with one chimney who was too poor to pay it, or the one who was a constable?

                                from the list:
                                Will. Warryn 2
                                Richard Warryn 1
                                William Warren Constable
                                These names are not payable by Act:
                                Will. Warryn 1
                                Richard Warren John Watson
                                over seers of the poore and churchwardens

                                The Hearth Tax:

                                via wiki:
                                In England, hearth tax, also known as hearth money, chimney tax, or chimney money, was a tax imposed by Parliament in 1662, to support the Royal Household of King Charles II. Following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Parliament calculated that the Royal Household needed an annual income of £1,200,000. The hearth tax was a supplemental tax to make up the shortfall. It was considered easier to establish the number of hearths than the number of heads, hearths forming a more stationary subject for taxation than people. This form of taxation was new to England, but had precedents abroad. It generated considerable debate, but was supported by the economist Sir William Petty, and carried through the Commons by the influential West Country member Sir Courtenay Pole, 2nd Baronet (whose enemies nicknamed him “Sir Chimney Poll” as a result).  The bill received Royal Assent on 19 May 1662, with the first payment due on 29 September 1662, Michaelmas.
                                One shilling was liable to be paid for every firehearth or stove, in all dwellings, houses, edifices or lodgings, and was payable at Michaelmas, 29 September and on Lady Day, 25 March. The tax thus amounted to two shillings per hearth or stove per year. The original bill contained a practical shortcoming in that it did not distinguish between owners and occupiers and was potentially a major burden on the poor as there were no exemptions. The bill was subsequently amended so that the tax was paid by the occupier. Further amendments introduced a range of exemptions that ensured that a substantial proportion of the poorer people did not have to pay the tax.


                                Indeed it seems clear that William Warren the elder came from Stapenhill and not Suffolk, and one of the William Warrens paying hearth tax in 1662 was undoubtedly the father of William Warren who married Elizabeth Hatterton.


                                  Looking for Carringtons


                                  The Carringtons of Smalley, at least some of them, were Baptist  ~ otherwise known as “non conformist”.  Baptists don’t baptise at birth, believing it’s up to the person to choose when they are of an age to do so, although that appears to be fairly random in practice with small children being baptised.  This makes it hard to find the birth dates registered as not every village had a Baptist church, and the baptisms would take place in another town.   However some of the children were baptised in the village Anglican church as well, so they don’t seem to have been consistent. Perhaps at times a quick baptism locally for a sickly child was considered prudent, and preferable to no baptism at all. It’s impossible to know for sure and perhaps they were not strictly commited to a particular denomination.

                                  Our Carrington’s start with Ellen Carrington who married William Housley in 1814. William Housley was previously married to Ellen’s older sister Mary Carrington.  Ellen (born 1895 and baptised 1897) and her sister Nanny were baptised at nearby Ilkeston Baptist church but I haven’t found baptisms for Mary or siblings Richard and Francis.  We know they were also children of William Carrington as he mentions them in his 1834 will. Son William was baptised at the local Smalley church in 1784, as was Thomas in 1896.

                                  The absence of baptisms in Smalley with regard to Baptist influence was noted in the Smalley registers:

                                  not baptised


                                  Smalley (chapelry of Morley) registers began in 1624, Morley registers began in 1540 with no obvious gaps in either.  The gap with the missing registered baptisms would be 1786-1793. The Ilkeston Baptist register began in 1791. Information from the Smalley registers indicates that about a third of the children were not being baptised due to the Baptist influence.


                                  William Housley son in law, daughter Mary Housley deceased, and daughter Eleanor (Ellen) Housley are all mentioned in William Housley’s 1834 will.  On the marriage allegations and bonds for William Housley and Mary Carrington in 1806, her birth date is registered at 1787, her father William Carrington.

                                  A Page from the will of William Carrington 1834:

                                  1834 Will Carrington will


                                  William Carrington was baptised in nearby Horsley Woodhouse on 27 August 1758.  His parents were William and Margaret Carrington “near the Hilltop”. He married Mary Malkin, also of Smalley, on the 27th August 1783.

                                  When I started looking for Margaret Wright who married William Carrington the elder, I chanced upon the Smalley parish register micro fiche images wrongly labeled by the ancestry site as Longford.   I subsequently found that the Derby Records office published a list of all the wrongly labeled Derbyshire towns that the ancestry site knew about for ten years at least but has not corrected!

                                  Margaret Wright was baptised in Smalley (mislabeled as Longford although the register images clearly say Smalley!) on the 2nd March 1728. Her parents were John and Margaret Wright.

                                  But I couldn’t find a birth or baptism anywhere for William Carrington. I found four sources for William and Margaret’s marriage and none of them suggested that William wasn’t local.  On other public trees on ancestry sites, William’s father was Joshua Carrington from Chinley. Indeed, when doing a search for William Carrington born circa 1720 to 1725, this was the only one in Derbyshire.  But why would a teenager move to the other side of the county?  It wasn’t uncommon to be apprenticed in neighbouring villages or towns, but Chinley didn’t seem right to me.  It seemed to me that it had been selected on the other trees because it was the only easily found result for the search, and not because it was the right one.

                                  I spent days reading every page of the microfiche images of the parish registers locally looking for Carringtons, any Carringtons at all in the area prior to 1720. Had there been none at all, then the possibility of William being the first Carrington in the area having moved there from elsewhere would have been more reasonable.

                                  But there were many Carringtons in Heanor, a mile or so from Smalley, in the 1600s and early 1700s, although they were often spelled Carenton, sometimes Carrianton in the parish registers. The earliest Carrington I found in the area was Alice Carrington baptised in Ilkeston in 1602.  It seemed obvious that William’s parents were local and not from Chinley.

                                  The Heanor parish registers of the time were not very clearly written. The handwriting was bad and the spelling variable, depending I suppose on what the name sounded like to the person writing in the registers at the time as the majority of the people were probably illiterate.  The registers are also in a generally poor condition.

                                  I found a burial of a child called William on the 16th January 1721, whose father was William Carenton of “Losko” (Loscoe is a nearby village also part of Heanor at that time). This looked promising!  If a child died, a later born child would be given the same name. This was very common: in a couple of cases I’ve found three deceased infants with the same first name until a fourth one named the same survived.  It seemed very likely that a subsequent son would be named William and he would be the William Carrington born circa 1720 to 1725 that we were looking for.

                                  Heanor parish registers: William son of William Carenton of Losko buried January 19th 1721:

                                  1721 William Carenton


                                  The Heanor parish registers between 1720 and 1729 are in many places illegible, however there are a couple of possibilities that could be the baptism of William in 1724 and 1725. A William son of William Carenton of Loscoe was buried in Jan 1721. In 1722 a Willian son of William Carenton (transcribed Tarenton) of Loscoe was buried. A subsequent son called William is likely. On 15 Oct 1724 a William son of William and Eliz (last name indecipherable) of Loscoe was baptised.  A Mary, daughter of William Carrianton of Loscoe, was baptised in 1727.

                                  I propose that William Carringtons was born in Loscoe and baptised in Heanor in 1724: if not 1724 then I would assume his baptism is one of the illegible or indecipherable entires within those few years.  This falls short of absolute documented proof of course, but it makes sense to me.



                                  In any case, if a William Carrington child died in Heanor in 1721 which we do have documented proof of, it further dismisses the case for William having arrived for no discernable reason from Chinley.


                                    The Rootians invaded Oocrane when everybody was busy looking elsewhere. They entered through the Dumbass region under the pretense of freeing it from Lazies who had infiltrated administrations and media. They often cited a recent short movie from president Voldomeer Zumbaskee in which he appeared in purple leather panties adorned with diamonds, showing unashamedly his wooden leg. The same wooden leg that gave him the status of sexiest man of Oocrane and got him elected. In one of his famous discourses, he accused the Rootian president, Valdamir Potomsky of wanting to help himself to their crops of turnip and weed of which the world depended. And he told him if he expected Lazies he would be surprised by their resolution to defend their country.

                                    By a simple game of chance that reality is so fond of, the man who made the president’s very wooden leg was also called Voldomeer Zumbasky. They might share a common ancestor, but many times in the past population records were destroyed and it was difficult to tell. That man lived in the small city of Duckailingtown in Dumbass, near the Rootian border. He was renowned to be a great carpenter and sculptor and before the war people would come from the neighbooring countries to buy his work.

                                    During the invasion, crops and forests were burnt, buildings were destroyed and Dumbass Voldomeer lost one leg. There were no more trees or beams that hadn’t been turned to ashes, and he had only one block of wood left. Enough to make another wooden leg for himself. But he wondered: wasn’t there something more useful he could do with that block of wood ?

                                    One morning of spring, one year after the war started. Food was scarce in Duckailingtown and Voldomeer’s belly growled as he walked past the nest of a couple of swans. He counted nine beautiful eggs that the parents were arranging with their beaks before lying on top to keep them warm. He found it so touching to see life in this place that he couldn’t bear the idea of simply stealing the eggs.

                                    He went back home, a shelter made of bricks, his stomach aching from starvation. Looking at the block of wood on the floor, he got an idea. He spent the rest of the day and night to carve nine beautiful eggs so smooth that they appeared warm to the touch. He put so much care and love in his work that the swans would see no difference.

                                    The next morning he went back to the nest with a leather bag, hopping heartily on his lone leg. The eggs were still there and by chance both the parents were missing. He didn’t care why. He took the eggs and replaced them with the wooden ones.

                                    That day, he ate the best omelet with his friend Rooby, and as far as one could tell the swans were still brooding by the end of summer.


                                      Jane Eaton

                                      The Nottingham Girl


                                      Jane Eaton 1809-1879

                                      Francis Purdy, the Beggarlea Bulldog and Methodist Minister, married Jane Eaton in 1837 in Nottingham. Jane was his second wife.

                                      Jane Eaton, photo says “Grandma Purdy” on the back:

                                      Jane Eaton


                                      Jane is described as a “Nottingham girl” in a book excerpt sent to me by Jim Giles, a relation who shares the same 3x great grandparents, Francis and Jane Purdy.

                                      Jane Eaton NottinghamJane Eaton 2


                                      Elizabeth, Francis Purdy’s first wife, died suddenly at chapel in 1836, leaving nine children.

                                      On Christmas day the following year Francis married Jane Eaton at St Peters church in Nottingham. Jane married a Methodist Minister, and didn’t realize she married the bare knuckle fighter she’d seen when she was fourteen until he undressed and she saw his scars.

                                      jane eaton 3


                                      William Eaton 1767-1851

                                      On the marriage certificate Jane’s father was William Eaton, occupation gardener. Francis’s father was William Purdy, engineer.

                                      On the 1841 census living in Sollory’s Yard, Nottingham St Mary, William Eaton was a 70 year old gardener. It doesn’t say which county he was born in but indicates that it was not Nottinghamshire. Living with him were Mary Eaton, milliner, age 35, Mary Eaton, milliner, 15, and Elizabeth Rhodes age 35, a sempstress (another word for seamstress). The three women were born in Nottinghamshire.

                                      But who was Elizabeth Rhodes?

                                      Elizabeth Eaton was Jane’s older sister, born in 1797 in Nottingham. She married William Rhodes, a private in the 5th Dragoon Guards, in Leeds in October 1815.

                                      I looked for Elizabeth Rhodes on the 1851 census, which stated that she was a widow. I was also trying to determine which William Eaton death was the right one, and found William Eaton was still living with Elizabeth in 1851 at Pilcher Gate in Nottingham, but his name had been entered backwards: Eaton William. I would not have found him on the 1851 census had I searched for Eaton as a last name.

                                      Pilcher Gate gets its strange name from pilchers or fur dealers and was once a very narrow thoroughfare. At the lower end stood a pub called The Windmill – frequented by the notorious robber and murderer Charlie Peace.

                                      This was a lucky find indeed, because William’s place of birth was listed as Grantham, Lincolnshire. There were a couple of other William Eaton’s born at the same time, both near to Nottingham. It was tricky to work out which was the right one, but as it turned out, neither of them were.

                                      William Eaton Grantham


                                      Now we had Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire border straddlers, so the search moved to the Lincolnshire records.
                                      But first, what of the two Mary Eatons living with William?

                                      William and his wife Mary had a daughter Mary in 1799 who died in 1801, and another daughter Mary Ann born in 1803. (It was common to name children after a previous infant who had died.)  It seems that Mary Ann didn’t marry but had a daughter Mary Eaton born in 1822.

                                      William and his wife Mary also had a son Richard Eaton born in 1801 in Nottingham.

                                      Who was William Eaton’s wife Mary?

                                      There are two possibilities: Mary Cresswell and a marriage in Nottingham in 1797, or Mary Dewey and a marriage at Grantham in 1795. If it’s Mary Cresswell, the first child Elizabeth would have been born just four or five months after the wedding. (This was far from unusual). However, no births in Grantham, or in Nottingham, were recorded for William and Mary in between 1795 and 1797.

                                      We don’t know why William moved from Grantham to Nottingham or when he moved there. According to Dearden’s 1834 Nottingham directory, William Eaton was a “Gardener and Seedsman”.

                                      gardener and seedsan William Eaton

                                      There was another William Eaton selling turnip seeds in the same part of Nottingham. At first I thought it must be the same William, but apparently not, as that William Eaton is recorded as a victualler, born in Ruddington. The turnip seeds were advertised in 1847 as being obtainable from William Eaton at the Reindeer Inn, Wheeler Gate. Perhaps he was related.

                                      William lived in the Lace Market part of Nottingham.   I wondered where a gardener would be working in that part of the city.  According to CreativeQuarter website, “in addition to the trades and housing (sometimes under the same roof), there were a number of splendid mansions being built with extensive gardens and orchards. Sadly, these no longer exist as they were gradually demolished to make way for commerce…..The area around St Mary’s continued to develop as an elegant residential district during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with buildings … being built for nobility and rich merchants.”

                                      William Eaton died in Nottingham in September 1851, thankfully after the census was taken recording his place of birth.


                                        The Measham Thatchers

                                        Orgills, Finches and Wards

                                        Measham is a large village in north west Leicestershire, England, near the Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire boundaries. Our family has a penchant for border straddling, and the Orgill’s of Measham take this a step further living on the boundaries of four counties.  Historically it was in an exclave of Derbyshire absorbed into Leicestershire in 1897, so once again we have two sets of county records to search.


                                        Richard Gretton, the baker of Swadlincote and my great grandmother Florence Nightingale Grettons’ father, married Sarah Orgill (1840-1910) in 1861.

                                        (Incidentally, Florence Nightingale Warren nee Gretton’s first child Hildred born in 1900 had the middle name Orgill. Florence’s brother John Orgill Gretton emigrated to USA.)

                                        When they first married, they lived with Sarah’s widowed mother Elizabeth in Measham.  Elizabeth Orgill is listed on the 1861 census as a farmer of two acres.

                                        Sarah Orgill’s father Matthew Orgill (1798-1859) was a thatcher, as was his father Matthew Orgill (1771-1852).

                                        Matthew Orgill the elder left his property to his son Henry:

                                        Matthew Orgills will


                                        Sarah’s mother Elizabeth (1803-1876) was also an Orgill before her marriage to Matthew.

                                        According to Pigot & Co’s Commercial Directory for Derbyshire, in Measham in 1835 Elizabeth Orgill was a straw bonnet maker, an ideal occupation for a thatchers wife.

                                        Matthew Orgill, thatcher, is listed in White’s directory in 1857, and other Orgill’s are mentioned in Measham:

                                        Mary Orgill, straw hat maker; Henry Orgill, grocer; Daniel Orgill, painter; another Matthew Orgill is a coal merchant and wheelwright. Likewise a number of Orgill’s are listed in the directories for Measham in the subsequent years, as farmers, plumbers, painters, grocers, thatchers, wheelwrights, coal merchants and straw bonnet makers.


                                        Matthew and Elizabeth Orgill, Measham Baptist church:

                                        Orgill grave


                                        According to a history of thatching, for every six or seven thatchers appearing in the 1851 census there are now less than one.  Another interesting fact in the history of thatched roofs (via thatchinginfo dot com):

                                        The Watling Street Divide…
                                        The biggest dividing line of all, that between the angular thatching of the Northern and Eastern traditions and the rounded Southern style, still roughly follows a very ancient line; the northern section of the old Roman road of Watling Street, the modern A5. Seemingly of little significance today; this was once the border between two peoples. Agreed in the peace treaty, between the Saxon King Alfred and Guthrum, the Danish Viking leader; over eleven centuries ago.
                                        After making their peace, various Viking armies settled down, to the north and east of the old road; firstly, in what was known as The Danelaw and later in Norse kingdoms, based in York. They quickly formed a class of farmers and peasants. Although the Saxon kings soon regained this area; these people stayed put. Their influence is still seen, for example, in the widespread use of boarded gable ends, so common in Danish thatching.
                                        Over time, the Southern and Northern traditions have slipped across the old road, by a few miles either way. But even today, travelling across the old highway will often bring the differing thatching traditions quickly into view.

                                        Pear Tree Cottage, Bosworth Road, Measham. 1900.  Matthew Orgill was a thatcher living on Bosworth road.

                                        Bosworth road



                                        Matthew the elder married Frances Finch 1771-1848, also of Measham.  On the 1851 census Matthew is an 80 year old thatcher living with his daughter Mary and her husband Samuel Piner, a coal miner.

                                        Henry Finch 1743- and Mary Dennis 1749- , both of Measham, were Frances parents.  Henry’s father was also Henry Finch, born in 1707 in Measham, and he married Frances Ward, also born in 1707, and also from Measham.



                                        The ancient boundary between the kingdom of Mercia and the Danelaw

                                        I didn’t find much information on the history of Measham, but I did find a great deal of ancient history on the nearby village of Appleby Magna, two miles away.  The parish records indicate that the Ward and Finch branches of our family date back to the 1500’s in the village, and we can assume that the ancient history of the neighbouring village would be relevant to our history.

                                        There is evidence of human settlement in Appleby from the early Neolithic period, 6,000 years ago, and there are also Iron Age and Bronze Age sites in the vicinity.  There is evidence of further activity within the village during the Roman period, including evidence of a villa or farm and a temple.  Appleby is near three known Roman roads: Watling Street, 10 miles south of the village; Bath Lane, 5 miles north of the village; and Salt Street, which forms the parish’s south boundary.

                                        But it is the Scandinavian invasions that are particularly intriguing, with regard to my 58% Scandinavian DNA (and virtually 100% Midlands England ancestry). Repton is 13 miles from Measham. In the early 10th century Chilcote, Measham and Willesley were part of the royal Derbyshire estate of Repton.

                                        The arrival of Scandinavian invaders in the second half of the ninth century caused widespread havoc throughout northern England. By the AD 870s the Danish army was occupying Mercia and it spent the winter of 873-74 at Repton, the headquarters of the Mercian kings. The events are recorded in detail in the Peterborough manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles…

                                        Although the Danes held power for only 40 years, a strong, even subversive, Danish element remained in the population for many years to come. 

                                        A Scandinavian influence may also be detected among the field names of the parish. Although many fields have relatively modern names, some clearly have elements which reach back to the time of Danish incursion and control.

                                        The Borders:

                                        The name ‘aeppel byg’ is given in the will of Wulfic Spot of AD 1004……………..The decision at Domesday to include this land in Derbyshire, as one of Burton Abbey’s Derbyshire manors, resulted in the division of the village of Appleby Magna between the counties of Leicester and Derby for the next 800 years

                                        Richard Dunmore’s Appleby Magma website.

                                        This division of Appleby between Leicestershire and Derbyshire persisted from Domesday until 1897, when the recently created county councils (1889) simplified the administration of many villages in this area by a radical realignment of the boundary:



                                        I would appear that our family not only straddle county borders, but straddle ancient kingdom borders as well.  This particular branch of the family (we assume, given the absence of written records that far back) were living on the edge of the Danelaw and a strong element of the Danes survives to this day in my DNA.



                                          “AND NOW ABOUT EMMA”

                                          and a mystery about George


                                          I had overlooked this interesting part of Barbara Housley’s “Narrative on the Letters” initially, perhaps because I was more focused on finding Samuel Housley.  But when I did eventually notice, I wondered how I had missed it!  In this particularly interesting letter excerpt from Joseph, Barbara has not put the date of the letter ~ unusually, because she did with all of the others.  However I dated the letter to later than 1867, because Joseph mentions his wife, and they married in 1867. This is important, because there are two Emma Housleys. Joseph had a sister Emma, born in 1836, two years before Joseph was born.  At first glance, one would assume that a reference to Emma in the letters would mean his sister, but Emma the sister was married in Derby in 1858, and by 1869 had four children.

                                          But there was another Emma Housley, born in 1851.


                                          From Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters:

                                          “AND NOW ABOUT EMMA”

                                          A MYSTERY

                                          A very mysterious comment is contained in a letter from Joseph:

                                          “And now about Emma.  I have only seen her once and she came to me to get your address but I did not feel at liberty to give it to her until I had wrote to you but however she got it from someone.  I think it was in this way.  I was so pleased to hear from you in the first place and with John’s family coming to see me I let them read one or two of your letters thinking they would like to hear of you and I expect it was Will that noticed your address and gave it to her.  She came up to our house one day when I was at work to know if I had heard from you but I had not heard from you since I saw her myself and then she called again after that and my wife showed her your boys’ portraits thinking no harm in doing so.”

                                          At this point Joseph interrupted himself to thank them for sending the portraits.  The next sentence is:

                                          “Your son JOHN I have never seen to know him but I hear he is rather wild,” followed by: “EMMA has been living out service but don’t know where she is now.”

                                          Since Joseph had just been talking about the portraits of George’s three sons, one of whom is John Eley, this could be a reference to things George has written in despair about a teen age son–but could Emma be a first wife and John their son?  Or could Emma and John both be the children of a first wife?

                                          Elsewhere, Joseph wrote, “AMY ELEY died 14 years ago. (circa 1858)  She left a son and a daughter.”

                                          An Amey Eley and a George Housley were married on April 1, 1849 in Duffield which is about as far west of Smalley as Heanor is East.  She was the daughter of John, a framework knitter, and Sarah Eley.  George’s father is listed as William, a farmer.  Amey was described as “of full age” and made her mark on the marriage document.

                                          Anne wrote in August 1854:  JOHN ELEY is living at Derby Station so must take the first opportunity to get the receipt.” Was John Eley Housley named for him?

                                          (John Eley Housley is George Housley’s son in USA, with his second wife, Sarah.)


                                          George Housley married Amey Eley in 1849 in Duffield.  George’s father on the register is William Housley, farmer.  Amey Eley’s father is John Eley, framework knitter.

                                          George Housley Amey Eley


                                          On the 1851 census, George Housley and his wife Amey Housley are living with her parents in Heanor, John Eley, a framework knitter, and his wife Rebecca.  Also on the census are Charles J Housley, born in 1849 in Heanor, and Emma Housley, three months old at the time of the census, born in 1851.  George’s birth place is listed as Smalley.

                                          1851 George Housley



                                          On the 31st of July 1851 George Housley arrives in New York. In 1854 George Housley marries Sarah Ann Hill in USA.


                                          On the 1861 census in Heanor, Rebecca Eley was a widow, her husband John having died in 1852, and she had three grandchildren living with her: Charles J Housley aged 12, Emma Housley, 10, and mysteriously a William Housley aged 5!  Amey Housley, the childrens mother,  died in 1858.

                                          Housley Eley 1861


                                          Back to the mysterious comment in Joseph’s letter.  Joseph couldn’t have been speaking of his sister Emma.  She was married with children by the time Joseph wrote that letter, so was not just out of service, and Joseph would have known where she was.   There is no reason to suppose that the sister Emma was trying unsuccessfully to find George’s addresss: she had been sending him letters for years.   Joseph must have been referring to George’s daughter Emma.

                                          Joseph comments to George “Your son John…is rather wild.” followed by the remark about Emma’s whereabouts.  Could Charles John Housley have used his middle name of John instead of Charles?

                                          As for the child William born five years after George left for USA, despite his name of Housley, which was his mothers married name, we can assume that he was not a Housley ~ not George’s child, anyway. It is not clear who his father was, as Amey did not remarry.

                                          A further excerpt from Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters:

                                          Certainly there was some mystery in George’s life. George apparently wanted his whereabouts kept secret. Anne wrote: “People are at a loss to know where you are. The general idea is you are with Charles. We don’t satisfy them.” In that same letter Anne wrote: “I know you could not help thinking of us very often although you neglected writing…and no doubt would feel grieved for the trouble you at times caused (our mother). She freely forgives all.” Near the end of the letter, Anne added: “Mother sends her love to you and hopes you will write and if you want to tell her anything you don’t want all to see you must write it on a piece of loose paper and put it inside the letter.”

                                          In a letter to George from his sister Emma:

                                          Emma wrote in 1855, “We write in love to your wife and yourself and you must write soon and tell us whether there is a little nephew or niece and what you call them.”

                                          In June of 1856, Emma wrote: “We want to see dear Sarah Ann and the dear little boy. We were much pleased with the “bit of news” you sent.” The bit of news was the birth of John Eley Housley, January 11, 1855. Emma concluded her letter “Give our very kindest love to dear sister and dearest Johnnie.”

                                          It would seem that George Housley named his first son with his second wife after his first wife’s father ~ while he was married to both of them.


                                          Emma Housley



                                          In 1871 Emma was 20 years old and “in service” living as a lodger in West Hallam, not far from Heanor.  As she didn’t appear on a 1881 census, I looked for a marriage, but the only one that seemed right in every other way had Emma Housley’s father registered as Ralph Wibberly!

                                          Who was Ralph Wibberly?  A family friend or neighbour, perhaps, someone who had been a father figure?  The first Ralph Wibberly I found was a blind wood cutter living in Derby. He had a son also called Ralph Wibberly. I did not think Ralph Wibberly would be a very common name, but I was wrong.

                                          I then found a Ralph Wibberly living in Heanor, with a son also named Ralph Wibberly. A Ralph Wibberly married an Emma Salt from Heanor. In 1874, a 36 year old Ralph Wibberly (born in 1838) was on trial in Derby for inflicting grevious bodily harm on William Fretwell of Heanor. His occupation is “platelayer” (a person employed in laying and maintaining railway track.) The jury found him not guilty.

                                          In 1851 a 23 year old Ralph Wibberly (born in 1828) was a prisoner in Derby Gaol. However, Ralph Wibberly, a 50 year old labourer born in 1801 and his son Ralph Wibberly, aged 13 and born in 1838, are living in Belper on the 1851 census. Perhaps the son was the same Ralph Wibberly who was found not guilty of GBH in 1874. This appears to be the one who married Emma Salt, as his wife on the 1871 census is called Emma, and his occupation is “Midland Company Railway labourer”.

                                          Which was the Ralph Wibberly that Emma chose to name as her father on the marriage register? We may never know, but perhaps we can assume it was Ralph Wibberly born in 1801.  It is unlikely to be the blind wood cutter from Derby; more likely to be the local Ralph Wibberly.  Maybe his son Ralph, who we know was involved in a fight in 1874, was a friend of Emma’s brother Charles John, who was described by Joseph as a “wild one”, although Ralph was 11 years older than Charles John.

                                          Emma Housley married James Slater on Christmas day in Heanor in 1873.  Their first child, a daughter, was called Amy. Emma’s mother was Amy Eley. James Slater was a colliery brakesman (employed to work the steam-engine, or other machinery used in raising the coal from the mine.)

                                          It occurred to me to wonder if Emma Housley (George’s daughter) knew Elizabeth, Mary Anne and Catherine (Samuel’s daughters). They were cousins, lived in the vicinity, and they had in common with each other having been deserted by their fathers who were brothers. Emma was born two years after Catherine. Catherine was living with John Benniston, a framework knitter in Heanor, from 1851 to 1861. Emma was living with her grandfather John Ely, a framework knitter in Heanor. In 1861, George Purdy was also living in Heanor. He was listed on the census as a 13 year old coal miner! George Purdy and Catherine Housley married in 1866 in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire ~ just over the county border. Emma’s first child Amy was born in Heanor, but the next two children, Eliza and Lilly, were born in Eastwood, in 1878 and 1880. Catherine and George’s fifth child, my great grandmother Mary Ann Gilman Purdy, was born in Eastwood in 1880, the same year as Lilly Slater.

                                          By 1881 Emma and James Slater were living in Woodlinkin, Codnor and Loscoe, close to Heanor and Eastwood, on the Derbyshire side of the border. On each census up to 1911 their address on the census is Woodlinkin. Emma and James had nine children: six girls and 3 boys, the last, Alfred Frederick, born in 1901.

                                          Emma and James lived three doors up from the Thorn Tree pub in Woodlinkin, Codnor:



                                          Emma Slater died in 1935 at the age of 84.


                                          LOVING MEMORY OF
                                          EMMA SLATER
                                          (OF WOODLINKIN)
                                          WHO DIED
                                          SEPT 12th 1935
                                          AGED 84 YEARS
                                          AT REST

                                          Crosshill Cemetery, Codnor, Amber Valley Borough, Derbyshire, England:

                                          Emma Slater


                                          Charles John Housley



                                            From Tanganyika with Love

                                            continued part 9

                                            With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                                            Lyamungu 3rd January 1945

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            We had a novel Christmas this year. We decided to avoid the expense of
                                            entertaining and being entertained at Lyamungu, and went off to spend Christmas
                                            camping in a forest on the Western slopes of Kilimanjaro. George decided to combine
                                            business with pleasure and in this way we were able to use Government transport.
                                            We set out the day before Christmas day and drove along the road which skirts
                                            the slopes of Kilimanjaro and first visited a beautiful farm where Philip Teare, the ex
                                            Game Warden, and his wife Mary are staying. We had afternoon tea with them and then
                                            drove on in to the natural forest above the estate and pitched our tent beside a small
                                            clear mountain stream. We decorated the tent with paper streamers and a few small
                                            balloons and John found a small tree of the traditional shape which we decorated where
                                            it stood with tinsel and small ornaments.

                                            We put our beer, cool drinks for the children and bottles of fresh milk from Simba
                                            Estate, in the stream and on Christmas morning they were as cold as if they had been in
                                            the refrigerator all night. There were not many presents for the children, there never are,
                                            but they do not seem to mind and are well satisfied with a couple of balloons apiece,
                                            sweets, tin whistles and a book each.

                                            George entertain the children before breakfast. He can make a magical thing out
                                            of the most ordinary balloon. The children watched entranced as he drew on his pipe
                                            and then blew the smoke into the balloon. He then pinched the neck of the balloon
                                            between thumb and forefinger and released the smoke in little puffs. Occasionally the
                                            balloon ejected a perfect smoke ring and the forest rang with shouts of “Do it again
                                            Daddy.” Another trick was to blow up the balloon to maximum size and then twist the
                                            neck tightly before releasing. Before subsiding the balloon darted about in a crazy
                                            fashion causing great hilarity. Such fun, at the cost of a few pence.

                                            After breakfast George went off to fish for trout. John and Jim decided that they
                                            also wished to fish so we made rods out of sticks and string and bent pins and they
                                            fished happily, but of course quite unsuccessfully, for hours. Both of course fell into the
                                            stream and got soaked, but I was prepared for this, and the little stream was so shallow
                                            that they could not come to any harm. Henry played happily in the sand and I had a
                                            most peaceful morning.

                                            Hamisi roasted a chicken in a pot over the camp fire and the jelly set beautifully in the
                                            stream. So we had grilled trout and chicken for our Christmas dinner. I had of course
                                            taken an iced cake for the occasion and, all in all, it was a very successful Christmas day.
                                            On Boxing day we drove down to the plains where George was to investigate a
                                            report of game poaching near the Ngassari Furrow. This is a very long ditch which has
                                            been dug by the Government for watering the Masai stock in the area. It is also used by
                                            game and we saw herds of zebra and wildebeest, and some Grant’s Gazelle and
                                            giraffe, all comparatively tame. At one point a small herd of zebra raced beside the lorry
                                            apparently enjoying the fun of a gallop. They were all sleek and fat and looked wild and
                                            beautiful in action.

                                            We camped a considerable distance from the water but this precaution did not
                                            save us from the mosquitoes which launched a vicious attack on us after sunset, so that
                                            we took to our beds unusually early. They were on the job again when we got up at
                                            sunrise so I was very glad when we were once more on our way home.

                                            “I like Christmas safari. Much nicer that silly old party,” said John. I agree but I think
                                            it is time that our children learned to play happily with others. There are no other young
                                            children at Lyamungu though there are two older boys and a girl who go to boarding
                                            school in Nairobi.

                                            On New Years Day two Army Officers from the military camp at Moshi, came for
                                            tea and to talk game hunting with George. I think they rather enjoy visiting a home and
                                            seeing children and pets around.


                                            Lyamungu 14 May 1945

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            So the war in Europe is over at last. It is such marvellous news that I can hardly
                                            believe it. To think that as soon as George can get leave we will go to England and
                                            bring Ann and George home with us to Tanganyika. When we know when this leave can
                                            be arranged we will want Kate to join us here as of course she must go with us to
                                            England to meet George’s family. She has become so much a part of your lives that I
                                            know it will be a wrench for you to give her up but I know that you will all be happy to
                                            think that soon our family will be reunited.

                                            The V.E. celebrations passed off quietly here. We all went to Moshi to see the
                                            Victory Parade of the King’s African Rifles and in the evening we went to a celebration
                                            dinner at the Game Warden’s house. Besides ourselves the Moores had invited the
                                            Commanding Officer from Moshi and a junior officer. We had a very good dinner and
                                            many toasts including one to Mrs Moore’s brother, Oliver Milton who is fighting in Burma
                                            and has recently been awarded the Military Cross.

                                            There was also a celebration party for the children in the grounds of the Moshi
                                            Club. Such a spread! I think John and Jim sampled everything. We mothers were
                                            having our tea separately and a friend laughingly told me to turn around and have a look.
                                            I did, and saw the long tea tables now deserted by all the children but my two sons who
                                            were still eating steadily, and finding the party more exciting than the game of Musical
                                            Bumps into which all the other children had entered with enthusiasm.

                                            There was also an extremely good puppet show put on by the Italian prisoners
                                            of war from the camp at Moshi. They had made all the puppets which included well
                                            loved characters like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Babes in the Wood as
                                            well as more sophisticated ones like an irritable pianist and a would be prima donna. The
                                            most popular puppets with the children were a native askari and his family – a very
                                            happy little scene. I have never before seen a puppet show and was as entranced as
                                            the children. It is amazing what clever manipulation and lighting can do. I believe that the
                                            Italians mean to take their puppets to Nairobi and am glad to think that there, they will
                                            have larger audiences to appreciate their art.

                                            George has just come in, and I paused in my writing to ask him for the hundredth
                                            time when he thinks we will get leave. He says I must be patient because it may be a
                                            year before our turn comes. Shipping will be disorganised for months to come and we
                                            cannot expect priority simply because we have been separated so long from our
                                            children. The same situation applies to scores of other Government Officials.
                                            I have decided to write the story of my childhood in South Africa and about our
                                            life together in Tanganyika up to the time Ann and George left the country. I know you
                                            will have told Kate these stories, but Ann and George were so very little when they left
                                            home that I fear that they cannot remember much.

                                            My Mother-in-law will have told them about their father but she can tell them little
                                            about me. I shall send them one chapter of my story each month in the hope that they
                                            may be interested and not feel that I am a stranger when at last we meet again.


                                            Lyamungu 19th September 1945

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            In a months time we will be saying good-bye to Lyamungu. George is to be
                                            transferred to Mbeya and I am delighted, not only as I look upon Mbeya as home, but
                                            because there is now a primary school there which John can attend. I feel he will make
                                            much better progress in his lessons when he realises that all children of his age attend
                                            school. At present he is putting up a strong resistance to learning to read and spell, but
                                            he writes very neatly, does his sums accurately and shows a real talent for drawing. If
                                            only he had the will to learn I feel he would do very well.

                                            Jim now just four, is too young for lessons but too intelligent to be interested in
                                            the ayah’s attempts at entertainment. Yes I’ve had to engage a native girl to look after
                                            Henry from 9 am to 12.30 when I supervise John’s Correspondence Course. She is
                                            clean and amiable, but like most African women she has no initiative at all when it comes
                                            to entertaining children. Most African men and youths are good at this.

                                            I don’t regret our stay at Lyamungu. It is a beautiful spot and the change to the
                                            cooler climate after the heat of Morogoro has been good for all the children. John is still
                                            tall for his age but not so thin as he was and much less pale. He is a handsome little lad
                                            with his large brown eyes in striking contrast to his fair hair. He is wary of strangers but
                                            very observant and quite uncanny in the way he sums up people. He seldom gets up
                                            to mischief but I have a feeling he eggs Jim on. Not that Jim needs egging.

                                            Jim has an absolute flair for mischief but it is all done in such an artless manner that
                                            it is not easy to punish him. He is a very sturdy child with a cap of almost black silky hair,
                                            eyes brown, like mine, and a large mouth which is quick to smile and show most beautiful
                                            white and even teeth. He is most popular with all the native servants and the Game
                                            Scouts. The servants call Jim, ‘Bwana Tembo’ (Mr Elephant) because of his sturdy

                                            Henry, now nearly two years old, is quite different from the other two in
                                            appearance. He is fair complexioned and fair haired like Ann and Kate, with large, black
                                            lashed, light grey eyes. He is a good child, not so merry as Jim was at his age, nor as
                                            shy as John was. He seldom cries, does not care to be cuddled and is independent and
                                            strong willed. The servants call Henry, ‘Bwana Ndizi’ (Mr Banana) because he has an
                                            inexhaustible appetite for this fruit. Fortunately they are very inexpensive here. We buy
                                            an entire bunch which hangs from a beam on the back verandah, and pluck off the
                                            bananas as they ripen. This way there is no waste and the fruit never gets bruised as it
                                            does in greengrocers shops in South Africa. Our three boys make a delightful and
                                            interesting trio and I do wish you could see them for yourselves.

                                            We are delighted with the really beautiful photograph of Kate. She is an
                                            extraordinarily pretty child and looks so happy and healthy and a great credit to you.
                                            Now that we will be living in Mbeya with a school on the doorstep I hope that we will
                                            soon be able to arrange for her return home.


                                            c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 30th October 1945

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            How nice to be able to write c/o Game Dept. Mbeya at the head of my letters.
                                            We arrived here safely after a rather tiresome journey and are installed in a tiny house on
                                            the edge of the township.

                                            We left Lyamungu early on the morning of the 22nd. Most of our goods had
                                            been packed on the big Ford lorry the previous evening, but there were the usual
                                            delays and farewells. Of our servants, only the cook, Hamisi, accompanied us to
                                            Mbeya. Japhet, Tovelo and the ayah had to be paid off and largesse handed out.
                                            Tovelo’s granny had come, bringing a gift of bananas, and she also brought her little
                                            granddaughter to present a bunch of flowers. The child’s little scolded behind is now
                                            completely healed. Gifts had to be found for them too.

                                            At last we were all aboard and what a squash it was! Our few pieces of furniture
                                            and packing cases and trunks, the cook, his wife, the driver and the turney boy, who
                                            were to take the truck back to Lyamungu, and all their bits and pieces, bunches of
                                            bananas and Fanny the dog were all crammed into the body of the lorry. George, the
                                            children and I were jammed together in the cab. Before we left George looked
                                            dubiously at the tyres which were very worn and said gloomily that he thought it most
                                            unlikely that we would make our destination, Dodoma.

                                            Too true! Shortly after midday, near Kwakachinja, we blew a back tyre and there
                                            was a tedious delay in the heat whilst the wheel was changed. We were now without a
                                            spare tyre and George said that he would not risk taking the Ford further than Babati,
                                            which is less than half way to Dodoma. He drove very slowly and cautiously to Babati
                                            where he arranged with Sher Mohammed, an Indian trader, for a lorry to take us to
                                            Dodoma the next morning.

                                            It had been our intention to spend the night at the furnished Government
                                            Resthouse at Babati but when we got there we found that it was already occupied by
                                            several District Officers who had assembled for a conference. So, feeling rather
                                            disgruntled, we all piled back into the lorry and drove on to a place called Bereku where
                                            we spent an uncomfortable night in a tumbledown hut.

                                            Before dawn next morning Sher Mohammed’s lorry drove up, and there was a
                                            scramble to dress by the light of a storm lamp. The lorry was a very dilapidated one and
                                            there was already a native woman passenger in the cab. I felt so tired after an almost
                                            sleepless night that I decided to sit between the driver and this woman with the sleeping
                                            Henry on my knee. It was as well I did, because I soon found myself dosing off and
                                            drooping over towards the woman. Had she not been there I might easily have fallen
                                            out as the battered cab had no door. However I was alert enough when daylight came
                                            and changed places with the woman to our mutual relief. She was now able to converse
                                            with the African driver and I was able to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air!
                                            George, John and Jim were less comfortable. They sat in the lorry behind the
                                            cab hemmed in by packing cases. As the lorry was an open one the sun beat down
                                            unmercifully upon them until George, ever resourceful, moved a table to the front of the
                                            truck. The two boys crouched under this and so got shelter from the sun but they still had
                                            to endure the dust. Fanny complicated things by getting car sick and with one thing and
                                            another we were all jolly glad to get to Dodoma.

                                            We spent the night at the Dodoma Hotel and after hot baths, a good meal and a
                                            good nights rest we cheerfully boarded a bus of the Tanganyika Bus Service next
                                            morning to continue our journey to Mbeya. The rest of the journey was uneventful. We slept two nights on the road, the first at Iringa Hotel and the second at Chimala. We
                                            reached Mbeya on the 27th.

                                            I was rather taken aback when I first saw the little house which has been allocated
                                            to us. I had become accustomed to the spacious houses we had in Morogoro and
                                            Lyamungu. However though the house is tiny it is secluded and has a long garden
                                            sloping down to the road in front and another long strip sloping up behind. The front
                                            garden is shaded by several large cypress and eucalyptus trees but the garden behind
                                            the house has no shade and consists mainly of humpy beds planted with hundreds of
                                            carnations sadly in need of debudding. I believe that the previous Game Ranger’s wife
                                            cultivated the carnations and, by selling them, raised money for War Funds.
                                            Like our own first home, this little house is built of sun dried brick. Its original
                                            owners were Germans. It is now rented to the Government by the Custodian of Enemy
                                            Property, and George has his office in another ex German house.

                                            This afternoon we drove to the school to arrange about enrolling John there. The
                                            school is about four miles out of town. It was built by the German settlers in the late
                                            1930’s and they were justifiably proud of it. It consists of a great assembly hall and
                                            classrooms in one block and there are several attractive single storied dormitories. This
                                            school was taken over by the Government when the Germans were interned on the
                                            outbreak of war and many improvements have been made to the original buildings. The
                                            school certainly looks very attractive now with its grassed playing fields and its lawns and
                                            bright flower beds.

                                            The Union Jack flies from a tall flagpole in front of the Hall and all traces of the
                                            schools German origin have been firmly erased. We met the Headmaster, Mr
                                            Wallington, and his wife and some members of the staff. The school is co-educational
                                            and caters for children from the age of seven to standard six. The leaving age is elastic
                                            owing to the fact that many Tanganyika children started school very late because of lack
                                            of educational facilities in this country.

                                            The married members of the staff have their own cottages in the grounds. The
                                            Matrons have quarters attached to the dormitories for which they are responsible. I felt
                                            most enthusiastic about the school until I discovered that the Headmaster is adamant
                                            upon one subject. He utterly refuses to take any day pupils at the school. So now our
                                            poor reserved Johnny will have to adjust himself to boarding school life.
                                            We have arranged that he will start school on November 5th and I shall be very
                                            busy trying to assemble his school uniform at short notice. The clothing list is sensible.
                                            Boys wear khaki shirts and shorts on weekdays with knitted scarlet jerseys when the
                                            weather is cold. On Sundays they wear grey flannel shorts and blazers with the silver
                                            and scarlet school tie.

                                            Mbeya looks dusty, brown and dry after the lush evergreen vegetation of
                                            Lyamungu, but I prefer this drier climate and there are still mountains to please the eye.
                                            In fact the lower slopes of Lolesa Mountain rise at the upper end of our garden.


                                            c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 21st November 1945

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            We’re quite settled in now and I have got the little house fixed up to my
                                            satisfaction. I have engaged a rather uncouth looking houseboy but he is strong and
                                            capable and now that I am not tied down in the mornings by John’s lessons I am able to
                                            go out occasionally in the mornings and take Jim and Henry to play with other children.
                                            They do not show any great enthusiasm but are not shy by nature as John is.
                                            I have had a good deal of heartache over putting John to boarding school. It
                                            would have been different had he been used to the company of children outside his
                                            own family, or if he had even known one child there. However he seems to be adjusting
                                            himself to the life, though slowly. At least he looks well and tidy and I am quite sure that
                                            he is well looked after.

                                            I must confess that when the time came for John to go to school I simply did not
                                            have the courage to take him and he went alone with George, looking so smart in his
                                            new uniform – but his little face so bleak. The next day, Sunday, was visiting day but the
                                            Headmaster suggested that we should give John time to settle down and not visit him
                                            until Wednesday.

                                            When we drove up to the school I spied John on the far side of the field walking
                                            all alone. Instead of running up with glad greetings, as I had expected, he came almost
                                            reluctently and had little to say. I asked him to show me his dormitory and classroom and
                                            he did so politely as though I were a stranger. At last he volunteered some information.
                                            “Mummy,” he said in an awed voice, Do you know on the night I came here they burnt a
                                            man! They had a big fire and they burnt him.” After a blank moment the penny dropped.
                                            Of course John had started school and November the fifth but it had never entered my
                                            head to tell him about that infamous character, Guy Fawkes!

                                            I asked John’s Matron how he had settled down. “Well”, she said thoughtfully,
                                            John is very good and has not cried as many of the juniors do when they first come
                                            here, but he seems to keep to himself all the time.” I went home very discouraged but
                                            on the Sunday John came running up with another lad of about his own age.” This is my
                                            friend Marks,” he announced proudly. I could have hugged Marks.

                                            Mbeya is very different from the small settlement we knew in the early 1930’s.
                                            Gone are all the colourful characters from the Lupa diggings for the alluvial claims are all
                                            worked out now, gone also are our old friends the Menzies from the Pub and also most
                                            of the Government Officials we used to know. Mbeya has lost its character of a frontier
                                            township and has become almost suburban.

                                            The social life revolves around two places, the Club and the school. The Club
                                            which started out as a little two roomed building, has been expanded and the golf
                                            course improved. There are also tennis courts and a good library considering the size of
                                            the community. There are frequent parties and dances, though most of the club revenue
                                            comes from Bar profits. The parties are relatively sober affairs compared with the parties
                                            of the 1930’s.

                                            The school provides entertainment of another kind. Both Mr and Mrs Wallington
                                            are good amateur actors and I am told that they run an Amateur Dramatic Society. Every
                                            Wednesday afternoon there is a hockey match at the school. Mbeya town versus a
                                            mixed team of staff and scholars. The match attracts almost the whole European
                                            population of Mbeya. Some go to play hockey, others to watch, and others to snatch
                                            the opportunity to visit their children. I shall have to try to arrange a lift to school when
                                            George is away on safari.

                                            I have now met most of the local women and gladly renewed an old friendship
                                            with Sheilagh Waring whom I knew two years ago at Morogoro. Sheilagh and I have
                                            much in common, the same disregard for the trappings of civilisation, the same sense of
                                            the ludicrous, and children. She has eight to our six and she has also been cut off by the
                                            war from two of her children. Sheilagh looks too young and pretty to be the mother of so
                                            large a family and is, in fact, several years younger than I am. her husband, Donald, is a
                                            large quiet man who, as far as I can judge takes life seriously.

                                            Our next door neighbours are the Bank Manager and his wife, a very pleasant
                                            couple though we seldom meet. I have however had correspondence with the Bank
                                            Manager. Early on Saturday afternoon their houseboy brought a note. It informed me
                                            that my son was disturbing his rest by precipitating a heart attack. Was I aware that my
                                            son was about 30 feet up in a tree and balanced on a twig? I ran out and,sure enough,
                                            there was Jim, right at the top of the tallest eucalyptus tree. It would be the one with the
                                            mound of stones at the bottom! You should have heard me fluting in my most
                                            wheedling voice. “Sweets, Jimmy, come down slowly dear, I’ve some nice sweets for

                                            I’ll bet that little story makes you smile. I remember how often you have told me
                                            how, as a child, I used to make your hearts turn over because I had no fear of heights
                                            and how I used to say, “But that is silly, I won’t fall.” I know now only too well, how you
                                            must have felt.


                                            c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 14th January 1946

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            I hope that by now you have my telegram to say that Kate got home safely
                                            yesterday. It was wonderful to have her back and what a beautiful child she is! Kate
                                            seems to have enjoyed the train journey with Miss Craig, in spite of the tears she tells
                                            me she shed when she said good-bye to you. She also seems to have felt quite at
                                            home with the Hopleys at Salisbury. She flew from Salisbury in a small Dove aircraft
                                            and they had a smooth passage though Kate was a little airsick.

                                            I was so excited about her home coming! This house is so tiny that I had to turn
                                            out the little store room to make a bedroom for her. With a fresh coat of whitewash and
                                            pretty sprigged curtains and matching bedspread, borrowed from Sheilagh Waring, the
                                            tiny room looks most attractive. I had also iced a cake, made ice-cream and jelly and
                                            bought crackers for the table so that Kate’s home coming tea could be a proper little

                                            I was pleased with my preparations and then, a few hours before the plane was
                                            due, my crowned front tooth dropped out, peg and all! When my houseboy wants to
                                            describe something very tatty, he calls it “Second-hand Kabisa.” Kabisa meaning
                                            absolutely. That is an apt description of how I looked and felt. I decided to try some
                                            emergency dentistry. I think you know our nearest dentist is at Dar es Salaam five
                                            hundred miles away.

                                            First I carefully dried the tooth and with a match stick covered the peg and base
                                            with Durofix. I then took the infants rubber bulb enema, sucked up some heat from a
                                            candle flame and pumped it into the cavity before filling that with Durofix. Then hopefully
                                            I stuck the tooth in its former position and held it in place for several minutes. No good. I
                                            sent the houseboy to a shop for Scotine and tried the whole process again. No good

                                            When George came home for lunch I appealed to him for advice. He jokingly
                                            suggested that a maize seed jammed into the space would probably work, but when
                                            he saw that I really was upset he produced some chewing gum and suggested that I
                                            should try that . I did and that worked long enough for my first smile anyway.
                                            George and the three boys went to meet Kate but I remained at home to
                                            welcome her there. I was afraid that after all this time away Kate might be reluctant to
                                            rejoin the family but she threw her arms around me and said “Oh Mummy,” We both
                                            shed a few tears and then we both felt fine.

                                            How gay Kate is, and what an infectious laugh she has! The boys follow her
                                            around in admiration. John in fact asked me, “Is Kate a Princess?” When I said
                                            “Goodness no, Johnny, she’s your sister,” he explained himself by saying, “Well, she
                                            has such golden hair.” Kate was less complementary. When I tucked her in bed last night
                                            she said, “Mummy, I didn’t expect my little brothers to be so yellow!” All three boys
                                            have been taking a course of Atebrin, an anti-malarial drug which tinges skin and eyeballs

                                            So now our tiny house is bursting at its seams and how good it feels to have one
                                            more child under our roof. We are booked to sail for England in May and when we return
                                            we will have Ann and George home too. Then I shall feel really content.


                                            c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 2nd March 1946

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            My life just now is uneventful but very busy. I am sewing hard and knitting fast to
                                            try to get together some warm clothes for our leave in England. This is not a simple
                                            matter because woollen materials are in short supply and very expensive, and now that
                                            we have boarding school fees to pay for both Kate and John we have to budget very
                                            carefully indeed.

                                            Kate seems happy at school. She makes friends easily and seems to enjoy
                                            communal life. John also seems reconciled to school now that Kate is there. He no
                                            longer feels that he is the only exile in the family. He seems to rub along with the other
                                            boys of his age and has a couple of close friends. Although Mbeya School is coeducational
                                            the smaller boys and girls keep strictly apart. It is considered extremely
                                            cissy to play with girls.

                                            The local children are allowed to go home on Sundays after church and may bring
                                            friends home with them for the day. Both John and Kate do this and Sunday is a very
                                            busy day for me. The children come home in their Sunday best but bring play clothes to
                                            change into. There is always a scramble to get them to bath and change again in time to
                                            deliver them to the school by 6 o’clock.

                                            When George is home we go out to the school for the morning service. This is
                                            taken by the Headmaster Mr Wallington, and is very enjoyable. There is an excellent
                                            school choir to lead the singing. The service is the Church of England one, but is
                                            attended by children of all denominations, except the Roman Catholics. I don’t think that
                                            more than half the children are British. A large proportion are Greeks, some as old as
                                            sixteen, and about the same number are Afrikaners. There are Poles and non-Nazi
                                            Germans, Swiss and a few American children.

                                            All instruction is through the medium of English and it is amazing how soon all the
                                            foreign children learn to chatter in English. George has been told that we will return to
                                            Mbeya after our leave and for that I am very thankful as it means that we will still be living
                                            near at hand when Jim and Henry start school. Because many of these children have to
                                            travel many hundreds of miles to come to school, – Mbeya is a two day journey from the
                                            railhead, – the school year is divided into two instead of the usual three terms. This
                                            means that many of these children do not see their parents for months at a time. I think
                                            this is a very sad state of affairs especially for the seven and eight year olds but the
                                            Matrons assure me , that many children who live on isolated farms and stations are quite
                                            reluctant to go home because they miss the companionship and the games and
                                            entertainment that the school offers.

                                            My only complaint about the life here is that I see far too little of George. He is
                                            kept extremely busy on this range and is hardly at home except for a few days at the
                                            months end when he has to be at his office to check up on the pay vouchers and the
                                            issue of ammunition to the Scouts. George’s Range takes in the whole of the Southern
                                            Province and the Southern half of the Western Province and extends to the border with
                                            Northern Rhodesia and right across to Lake Tanganyika. This vast area is patrolled by
                                            only 40 Game Scouts because the Department is at present badly under staffed, due
                                            partly to the still acute shortage of rifles, but even more so to the extraordinary reluctance
                                            which the Government shows to allocate adequate funds for the efficient running of the

                                            The Game Scouts must see that the Game Laws are enforced, protect native
                                            crops from raiding elephant, hippo and other game animals. Report disease amongst game and deal with stock raiding lions. By constantly going on safari and checking on
                                            their work, George makes sure the range is run to his satisfaction. Most of the Game
                                            Scouts are fine fellows but, considering they receive only meagre pay for dangerous
                                            and exacting work, it is not surprising that occasionally a Scout is tempted into accepting
                                            a bribe not to report a serious infringement of the Game Laws and there is, of course,
                                            always the temptation to sell ivory illicitly to unscrupulous Indian and Arab traders.
                                            Apart from supervising the running of the Range, George has two major jobs.
                                            One is to supervise the running of the Game Free Area along the Rhodesia –
                                            Tanganyika border, and the other to hunt down the man-eating lions which for years have
                                            terrorised the Njombe District killing hundreds of Africans. Yes I know ‘hundreds’ sounds
                                            fantastic, but this is perfectly true and one day, when the job is done and the official
                                            report published I shall send it to you to prove it!

                                            I hate to think of the Game Free Area and so does George. All the game from
                                            buffalo to tiny duiker has been shot out in a wide belt extending nearly two hundred
                                            miles along the Northern Rhodesia -Tanganyika border. There are three Europeans in
                                            widely spaced camps who supervise this slaughter by African Game Guards. This
                                            horrible measure is considered necessary by the Veterinary Departments of
                                            Tanganyika, Rhodesia and South Africa, to prevent the cattle disease of Rinderpest
                                            from spreading South.

                                            When George is home however, we do relax and have fun. On the Saturday
                                            before the school term started we took Kate and the boys up to the top fishing camp in
                                            the Mporoto Mountains for her first attempt at trout fishing. There are three of these
                                            camps built by the Mbeya Trout Association on the rivers which were first stocked with
                                            the trout hatched on our farm at Mchewe. Of the three, the top camp is our favourite. The
                                            scenery there is most glorious and reminds me strongly of the rivers of the Western
                                            Cape which I so loved in my childhood.

                                            The river, the Kawira, flows from the Rungwe Mountain through a narrow valley
                                            with hills rising steeply on either side. The water runs swiftly over smooth stones and
                                            sometimes only a foot or two below the level of the banks. It is sparkling and shallow,
                                            but in places the water is deep and dark and the banks high. I had a busy day keeping
                                            an eye on the boys, especially Jim, who twice climbed out on branches which overhung
                                            deep water. “Mummy, I was only looking for trout!”

                                            How those kids enjoyed the freedom of the camp after the comparative
                                            restrictions of town. So did Fanny, she raced about on the hills like a mad dog chasing
                                            imaginary rabbits and having the time of her life. To escape the noise and commotion
                                            George had gone far upstream to fish and returned in the late afternoon with three good
                                            sized trout and four smaller ones. Kate proudly showed George the two she had caught
                                            with the assistance or our cook Hamisi. I fear they were caught in a rather unorthodox
                                            manner but this I kept a secret from George who is a stickler for the orthodox in trout


                                            Jacksdale England 24th June 1946

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            Here we are all together at last in England. You cannot imagine how wonderful it
                                            feels to have the whole Rushby family reunited. I find myself counting heads. Ann,
                                            George, Kate, John, Jim, and Henry. All present and well. We had a very pleasant trip
                                            on the old British India Ship Mantola. She was crowded with East Africans going home
                                            for the first time since the war, many like us, eagerly looking forward to a reunion with their
                                            children whom they had not seen for years. There was a great air of anticipation and
                                            good humour but a little anxiety too.

                                            “I do hope our children will be glad to see us,” said one, and went on to tell me
                                            about a Doctor from Dar es Salaam who, after years of separation from his son had
                                            recently gone to visit him at his school. The Doctor had alighted at the railway station
                                            where he had arranged to meet his son. A tall youth approached him and said, very
                                            politely, “Excuse me sir. Are you my Father?” Others told me of children who had
                                            become so attached to their relatives in England that they gave their parents a very cool
                                            reception. I began to feel apprehensive about Ann and George but fortunately had no
                                            time to mope.

                                            Oh, that washing and ironing for six! I shall remember for ever that steamy little
                                            laundry in the heat of the Red Sea and queuing up for the ironing and the feeling of guilt
                                            at the size of my bundle. We met many old friends amongst the passengers, and made
                                            some new ones, so the voyage was a pleasant one, We did however have our
                                            anxious moments.

                                            John was the first to disappear and we had an anxious search for him. He was
                                            quite surprised that we had been concerned. “I was just talking to my friend Chinky
                                            Chinaman in his workshop.” Could John have called him that? Then, when I returned to
                                            the cabin from dinner one night I found Henry swigging Owbridge’s Lung Tonic. He had
                                            drunk half the bottle neat and the label said ‘five drops in water’. Luckily it did not harm

                                            Jim of course was forever risking his neck. George had forbidden him to climb on
                                            the railings but he was forever doing things which no one had thought of forbidding him
                                            to do, like hanging from the overhead pipes on the deck or standing on the sill of a
                                            window and looking down at the well deck far below. An Officer found him doing this and
                                            gave me the scolding.

                                            Another day he climbed up on a derrick used for hoisting cargo. George,
                                            oblivious to this was sitting on the hatch cover with other passengers reading a book. I
                                            was in the wash house aft on the same deck when Kate rushed in and said, “Mummy
                                            come and see Jim.” Before I had time to more than gape, the butcher noticed Jim and
                                            rushed out knife in hand. “Get down from there”, he bellowed. Jim got, and with such
                                            speed that he caught the leg or his shorts on a projecting piece of metal. The cotton
                                            ripped across the seam from leg to leg and Jim stood there for a humiliating moment in a
                                            sort of revealing little kilt enduring the smiles of the passengers who had looked up from
                                            their books at the butcher’s shout.

                                            That incident cured Jim of his urge to climb on the ship but he managed to give
                                            us one more fright. He was lost off Dover. People from whom we enquired said, “Yes
                                            we saw your little boy. He was by the railings watching that big aircraft carrier.” Now Jim,
                                            though mischievous , is very obedient. It was not until George and I had conducted an
                                            exhaustive search above and below decks that I really became anxious. Could he have
                                            fallen overboard? Jim was returned to us by an unamused Officer. He had been found
                                            in one of the lifeboats on the deck forbidden to children.

                                            Our ship passed Dover after dark and it was an unforgettable sight. Dover Castle
                                            and the cliffs were floodlit for the Victory Celebrations. One of the men passengers sat
                                            down at the piano and played ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’, and people sang and a few
                                            wept. The Mantola docked at Tilbury early next morning in a steady drizzle.
                                            There was a dockers strike on and it took literally hours for all the luggage to be
                                            put ashore. The ships stewards simply locked the public rooms and went off leaving the
                                            passengers shivering on the docks. Eventually damp and bedraggled, we arrived at St
                                            Pancras Station and were given a warm welcome by George’s sister Cath and her
                                            husband Reg Pears, who had come all the way from Nottingham to meet us.
                                            As we had to spend an hour in London before our train left for Nottingham,
                                            George suggested that Cath and I should take the children somewhere for a meal. So
                                            off we set in the cold drizzle, the boys and I without coats and laden with sundry
                                            packages, including a hand woven native basket full of shoes. We must have looked like
                                            a bunch of refugees as we stood in the hall of The Kings Cross Station Hotel because a
                                            supercilious waiter in tails looked us up and down and said, “I’m afraid not Madam”, in
                                            answer to my enquiry whether the hotel could provide lunch for six.
                                            Anyway who cares! We had lunch instead at an ABC tea room — horrible
                                            sausage and a mound or rather sloppy mashed potatoes, but very good ice-cream.
                                            After the train journey in a very grimy third class coach, through an incredibly green and
                                            beautiful countryside, we eventually reached Nottingham and took a bus to Jacksdale,
                                            where George’s mother and sisters live in large detached houses side by side.
                                            Ann and George were at the bus stop waiting for us, and thank God, submitted
                                            to my kiss as though we had been parted for weeks instead of eight years. Even now
                                            that we are together again my heart aches to think of all those missed years. They have
                                            not changed much and I would have picked them out of a crowd, but Ann, once thin and
                                            pale, is now very rosy and blooming. She still has her pretty soft plaits and her eyes are
                                            still a clear calm blue. Young George is very striking looking with sparkling brown eyes, a
                                            ready, slightly lopsided smile, and charming manners.

                                            Mother, and George’s elder sister, Lottie Giles, welcomed us at the door with the
                                            cheering news that our tea was ready. Ann showed us the way to mother’s lovely lilac
                                            tiled bathroom for a wash before tea. Before I had even turned the tap, Jim had hung
                                            form the glass towel rail and it lay in three pieces on the floor. There have since been
                                            similar tragedies. I can see that life in civilisation is not without snags.

                                            I am most grateful that Ann and George have accepted us so naturally and
                                            affectionately. Ann said candidly, “Mummy, it’s a good thing that you had Aunt Cath with
                                            you when you arrived because, honestly, I wouldn’t have known you.”


                                            Jacksdale England 28th August 1946

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            I am sorry that I have not written for some time but honestly, I don’t know whether
                                            I’m coming or going. Mother handed the top floor of her house to us and the
                                            arrangement was that I should tidy our rooms and do our laundry and Mother would
                                            prepare the meals except for breakfast. It looked easy at first. All the rooms have wall to
                                            wall carpeting and there was a large vacuum cleaner in the box room. I was told a
                                            window cleaner would do the windows.

                                            Well the first time I used the Hoover I nearly died of fright. I pressed the switch
                                            and immediately there was a roar and the bag filled with air to bursting point, or so I
                                            thought. I screamed for Ann and she came at the run. I pointed to the bag and shouted
                                            above the din, “What must I do? It’s going to burst!” Ann looked at me in astonishment
                                            and said, “But Mummy that’s the way it works.” I couldn’t have her thinking me a
                                            complete fool so I switched the current off and explained to Ann how it was that I had
                                            never seen this type of equipment in action. How, in Tanganyika , I had never had a
                                            house with electricity and that, anyway, electric equipment would be superfluous
                                            because floors are of cement which the houseboy polishes by hand, one only has a
                                            few rugs or grass mats on the floor. “But what about Granny’s house in South Africa?’”
                                            she asked, so I explained about your Josephine who threatened to leave if you
                                            bought a Hoover because that would mean that you did not think she kept the house
                                            clean. The sad fact remains that, at fourteen, Ann knows far more about housework than I
                                            do, or rather did! I’m learning fast.

                                            The older children all go to school at different times in the morning. Ann leaves first
                                            by bus to go to her Grammar School at Sutton-in-Ashfield. Shortly afterwards George
                                            catches a bus for Nottingham where he attends the High School. So they have
                                            breakfast in relays, usually scrambled egg made from a revolting dried egg mixture.
                                            Then there are beds to make and washing and ironing to do, so I have little time for
                                            sightseeing, though on a few afternoons George has looked after the younger children
                                            and I have gone on bus tours in Derbyshire. Life is difficult here with all the restrictions on
                                            foodstuffs. We all have ration books so get our fair share but meat, fats and eggs are
                                            scarce and expensive. The weather is very wet. At first I used to hang out the washing
                                            and then rush to bring it in when a shower came. Now I just let it hang.

                                            We have left our imprint upon my Mother-in-law’s house for ever. Henry upset a
                                            bottle of Milk of Magnesia in the middle of the pale fawn bedroom carpet. John, trying to
                                            be helpful and doing some dusting, broke one of the delicate Dresden china candlesticks
                                            which adorn our bedroom mantelpiece.Jim and Henry have wrecked the once
                                            professionally landscaped garden and all the boys together bored a large hole through
                                            Mother’s prized cherry tree. So now Mother has given up and gone off to Bournemouth
                                            for a much needed holiday. Once a week I have the capable help of a cleaning woman,
                                            called for some reason, ‘Mrs Two’, but I have now got all the cooking to do for eight. Mrs
                                            Two is a godsend. She wears, of all things, a print mob cap with a hole in it. Says it
                                            belonged to her Grandmother. Her price is far beyond Rubies to me, not so much
                                            because she does, in a couple of hours, what it takes me all day to do, but because she
                                            sells me boxes of fifty cigarettes. Some non-smoking relative, who works in Players
                                            tobacco factory, passes on his ration to her. Until Mrs Two came to my rescue I had
                                            been starved of cigarettes. Each time I asked for them at the shop the grocer would say,
                                            “Are you registered with us?” Only very rarely would some kindly soul sell me a little
                                            packet of five Woodbines.

                                            England is very beautiful but the sooner we go home to Tanganyika, the better.
                                            On this, George and I and the children agree.


                                            Jacksdale England 20th September 1946

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            Our return passages have now been booked on the Winchester Castle and we
                                            sail from Southampton on October the sixth. I look forward to returning to Tanganyika but
                                            hope to visit England again in a few years time when our children are older and when
                                            rationing is a thing of the past.

                                            I have grown fond of my Sisters-in-law and admire my Mother-in-law very much.
                                            She has a great sense of humour and has entertained me with stories of her very
                                            eventful life, and told me lots of little stories of the children which did not figure in her
                                            letters. One which amused me was about young George. During one of the air raids
                                            early in the war when the sirens were screaming and bombers roaring overhead Mother
                                            made the two children get into the cloak cupboard under the stairs. Young George
                                            seemed quite unconcerned about the planes and the bombs but soon an anxious voice
                                            asked in the dark, “Gran, what will I do if a spider falls on me?” I am afraid that Mother is
                                            going to miss Ann and George very much.

                                            I had a holiday last weekend when Lottie and I went up to London on a spree. It
                                            was a most enjoyable weekend, though very rushed. We placed ourselves in the
                                            hands of Thos. Cook and Sons and saw most of the sights of London and were run off
                                            our feet in the process. As you all know London I shall not describe what I saw but just
                                            to say that, best of all, I enjoyed walking along the Thames embankment in the evening
                                            and the changing of the Guard at Whitehall. On Sunday morning Lottie and I went to
                                            Kew Gardens and in the afternoon walked in Kensington Gardens.

                                            We went to only one show, ‘The Skin of our Teeth’ starring Vivienne Leigh.
                                            Neither of us enjoyed the performance at all and regretted having spent so much on
                                            circle seats. The show was far too highbrow for my taste, a sort of satire on the survival
                                            of the human race. Miss Leigh was unrecognisable in a blond wig and her voice strident.
                                            However the night was not a dead loss as far as entertainment was concerned as we
                                            were later caught up in a tragicomedy at our hotel.

                                            We had booked communicating rooms at the enormous Imperial Hotel in Russell
                                            Square. These rooms were comfortably furnished but very high up, and we had a rather
                                            terrifying and dreary view from the windows of the enclosed courtyard far below. We
                                            had some snacks and a chat in Lottie’s room and then I moved to mine and went to bed.
                                            I had noted earlier that there was a special lock on the outer door of my room so that
                                            when the door was closed from the inside it automatically locked itself.
                                            I was just dropping off to sleep when I heard a hammering which seemed to
                                            come from my wardrobe. I got up, rather fearfully, and opened the wardrobe door and
                                            noted for the first time that the wardrobe was set in an opening in the wall and that the
                                            back of the wardrobe also served as the back of the wardrobe in the room next door. I
                                            quickly shut it again and went to confer with Lottie.

                                            Suddenly a male voice was raised next door in supplication, “Mary Mother of
                                            God, Help me! They’ve locked me in!” and the hammering resumed again, sometimes
                                            on the door, and then again on the back of the wardrobe of the room next door. Lottie
                                            had by this time joined me and together we listened to the prayers and to the
                                            hammering. Then the voice began to threaten, “If you don’t let me out I’ll jump out of the
                                            window.” Great consternation on our side of the wall. I went out into the passage and
                                            called through the door, “You’re not locked in. Come to your door and I’ll tell you how to
                                            open it.” Silence for a moment and then again the prayers followed by a threat. All the
                                            other doors in the corridor remained shut.

                                            Luckily just then a young man and a woman came walking down the corridor and I
                                            explained the situation. The young man hurried off for the night porter who went into the
                                            next door room. In a matter of minutes there was peace next door. When the night
                                            porter came out into the corridor again I asked for an explanation. He said quite casually,
                                            “It’s all right Madam. He’s an Irish Gentleman in Show Business. He gets like this on a
                                            Saturday night when he has had a drop too much. He won’t give any more trouble
                                            now.” And he didn’t. Next morning at breakfast Lottie and I tried to spot the gentleman in
                                            the Show Business, but saw no one who looked like the owner of that charming Irish

                                            George had to go to London on business last Monday and took the older
                                            children with him for a few hours of sight seeing. They returned quite unimpressed.
                                            Everything was too old and dirty and there were far too many people about, but they
                                            had enjoyed riding on the escalators at the tube stations, and all agreed that the highlight
                                            of the trip was, “Dad took us to lunch at the Chicken Inn.”

                                            Now that it is almost time to leave England I am finding the housework less of a
                                            drudgery, Also, as it is school holiday time, Jim and Henry are able to go on walks with
                                            the older children and so use up some of their surplus energy. Cath and I took the
                                            children (except young George who went rabbit shooting with his uncle Reg, and
                                            Henry, who stayed at home with his dad) to the Wakes at Selston, the neighbouring
                                            village. There were the roundabouts and similar contraptions but the side shows had
                                            more appeal for the children. Ann and Kate found a stall where assorted prizes were
                                            spread out on a sloping table. Anyone who could land a penny squarely on one of
                                            these objects was given a similar one as a prize.

                                            I was touched to see that both girls ignored all the targets except a box of fifty
                                            cigarettes which they were determined to win for me. After numerous attempts, Kate
                                            landed her penny successfully and you would have loved to have seen her radiant little


                                            Dar es Salaam 22nd October 1946

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            Back in Tanganyika at last, but not together. We have to stay in Dar es Salaam
                                            until tomorrow when the train leaves for Dodoma. We arrived yesterday morning to find
                                            all the hotels filled with people waiting to board ships for England. Fortunately some
                                            friends came to the rescue and Ann, Kate and John have gone to stay with them. Jim,
                                            Henry and I are sleeping in a screened corner of the lounge of the New Africa Hotel, and
                                            George and young George have beds in the Palm Court of the same hotel.

                                            We travelled out from England in the Winchester Castle under troopship
                                            conditions. We joined her at Southampton after a rather slow train journey from
                                            Nottingham. We arrived after dark and from the station we could see a large ship in the
                                            docks with a floodlit red funnel. “Our ship,” yelled the children in delight, but it was not the
                                            Winchester Castle but the Queen Elizabeth, newly reconditioned.

                                            We had hoped to board our ship that evening but George made enquiries and
                                            found that we would not be allowed on board until noon next day. Without much hope,
                                            we went off to try to get accommodation for eight at a small hotel recommended by the
                                            taxi driver. Luckily for us there was a very motherly woman at the reception desk. She
                                            looked in amusement at the six children and said to me, “Goodness are all these yours,
                                            ducks? Then she called over her shoulder, “Wilf, come and see this lady with lots of
                                            children. We must try to help.” They settled the problem most satisfactorily by turning
                                            two rooms into a dormitory.

                                            In the morning we had time to inspect bomb damage in the dock area of
                                            Southampton. Most of the rubble had been cleared away but there are still numbers of
                                            damaged buildings awaiting demolition. A depressing sight. We saw the Queen Mary
                                            at anchor, still in her drab war time paint, but magnificent nevertheless.
                                            The Winchester Castle was crammed with passengers and many travelled in
                                            acute discomfort. We were luckier than most because the two girls, the three small boys
                                            and I had a stateroom to ourselves and though it was stripped of peacetime comforts,
                                            we had a private bathroom and toilet. The two Georges had bunks in a huge men-only
                                            dormitory somewhere in the bowls of the ship where they had to share communal troop
                                            ship facilities. The food was plentiful but unexciting and one had to queue for afternoon
                                            tea. During the day the decks were crowded and there was squatting room only. The
                                            many children on board got bored.

                                            Port Said provided a break and we were all entertained by the ‘Gully Gully’ man
                                            and his conjuring tricks, and though we had no money to spend at Simon Artz, we did at
                                            least have a chance to stretch our legs. Next day scores of passengers took ill with
                                            sever stomach upsets, whether from food poisoning, or as was rumoured, from bad
                                            water taken on at the Egyptian port, I don’t know. Only the two Georges in our family
                                            were affected and their attacks were comparatively mild.

                                            As we neared the Kenya port of Mombassa, the passengers for Dar es Salaam
                                            were told that they would have to disembark at Mombassa and continue their journey in
                                            a small coaster, the Al Said. The Winchester Castle is too big for the narrow channel
                                            which leads to Dar es Salaam harbour.

                                            From the wharf the Al Said looked beautiful. She was once the private yacht of
                                            the Sultan of Zanzibar and has lovely lines. Our admiration lasted only until we were
                                            shown our cabins. With one voice our children exclaimed, “Gosh they stink!” They did, of
                                            a mixture of rancid oil and sweat and stale urine. The beds were not yet made and the
                                            thin mattresses had ominous stains on them. John, ever fastidious, lifted his mattress and two enormous cockroaches scuttled for cover.

                                            We had a good homely lunch served by two smiling African stewards and
                                            afterwards we sat on deck and that was fine too, though behind ones enjoyment there
                                            was the thought of those stuffy and dirty cabins. That first night nearly everyone,
                                            including George and our older children, slept on deck. Women occupied deck chairs
                                            and men and children slept on the bare decks. Horrifying though the idea was, I decided
                                            that, as Jim had a bad cough, he, Henry and I would sleep in our cabin.

                                            When I announced my intention of sleeping in the cabin one of the passengers
                                            gave me some insecticide spray which I used lavishly, but without avail. The children
                                            slept but I sat up all night with the light on, determined to keep at least their pillows clear
                                            of the cockroaches which scurried about boldly regardless of the light. All the next day
                                            and night we avoided the cabins. The Al Said stopped for some hours at Zanzibar to
                                            offload her deck cargo of live cattle and packing cases from the hold. George and the
                                            elder children went ashore for a walk but I felt too lazy and there was plenty to watch
                                            from deck.

                                            That night I too occupied a deck chair and slept quite comfortably, and next
                                            morning we entered the palm fringed harbour of Dar es Salaam and were home.


                                            Mbeya 1st November 1946

                                            Dearest Family.

                                            Home at last! We are all most happily installed in a real family house about three
                                            miles out of Mbeya and near the school. This house belongs to an elderly German and
                                            has been taken over by the Custodian of Enemy Property and leased to the

                                            The owner, whose name is Shenkel, was not interned but is allowed to occupy a
                                            smaller house on the Estate. I found him in the garden this morning lecturing the children
                                            on what they may do and may not do. I tried to make it quite clear to him that he was not
                                            our landlord, though he clearly thinks otherwise. After he had gone I had to take two
                                            aspirin and lie down to recover my composure! I had been warned that he has this effect
                                            on people.

                                            Mr Shenkel is a short and ugly man, his clothes are stained with food and he
                                            wears steel rimmed glasses tied round his head with a piece of dirty elastic because
                                            one earpiece is missing. He speaks with a thick German accent but his English is fluent
                                            and I believe he is a cultured and clever man. But he is maddening. The children were
                                            more amused than impressed by his exhortations and have happily Christened our
                                            home, ‘Old Shenks’.

                                            The house has very large grounds as the place is really a derelict farm. It suits us
                                            down to the ground. We had no sooner unpacked than George went off on safari after
                                            those maneating lions in the Njombe District. he accounted for one, and a further two
                                            jointly with a Game Scout, before we left for England. But none was shot during the five
                                            months we were away as George’s relief is quite inexperienced in such work. George
                                            thinks that there are still about a dozen maneaters at large. His theory is that a female
                                            maneater moved into the area in 1938 when maneating first started, and brought up her
                                            cubs to be maneaters, and those cubs in turn did the same. The three maneating lions
                                            that have been shot were all in very good condition and not old and maimed as
                                            maneaters usually are.

                                            George anticipates that it will be months before all these lions are accounted for
                                            because they are constantly on the move and cover a very large area. The lions have to
                                            be hunted on foot because they range over broken country covered by bush and fairly
                                            dense thicket.

                                            I did a bit of shooting myself yesterday and impressed our African servants and
                                            the children and myself. What a fluke! Our houseboy came to say that there was a snake
                                            in the garden, the biggest he had ever seen. He said it was too big to kill with a stick and
                                            would I shoot it. I had no gun but a heavy .450 Webley revolver and I took this and
                                            hurried out with the children at my heels.

                                            The snake turned out to be an unusually large puff adder which had just shed its
                                            skin. It looked beautiful in a repulsive way. So flanked by servants and children I took
                                            aim and shot, not hitting the head as I had planned, but breaking the snake’s back with
                                            the heavy bullet. The two native boys then rushed up with sticks and flattened the head.
                                            “Ma you’re a crack shot,” cried the kids in delighted surprise. I hope to rest on my laurels
                                            for a long, long while.

                                            Although there are only a few weeks of school term left the four older children will
                                            start school on Monday. Not only am I pleased with our new home here but also with
                                            the staff I have engaged. Our new houseboy, Reuben, (but renamed Robin by our
                                            children) is not only cheerful and willing but intelligent too, and Jumbe, the wood and
                                            garden boy, is a born clown and a source of great entertainment to the children.

                                            I feel sure that we are all going to be very happy here at ‘Old Shenks!.


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