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  • in reply to: Family Stories From The Other Side ~ Book Two #7279

      The Bigamist

      Ernest Tomlinson 1881-1915


      Ernest Tomlinson was my great grandfathers Charles Tomlinson‘s younger brother. Their parents were Charles Tomlinson the elder 1847-1907 and Emma Grattidge 1853-1911.

      In 1896, aged 14, Ernest attempted to drown himself in the pond at Penn after his father took his watch off him for arguing with his brothers. Ernest tells the police “It’s all through my brothers putting on me”.  The policeman told him he was a very silly and wicked boy and to see the curate at Penn and to try and be a better boy in future. He was discharged.

      Bridgnorth Journal and South Shropshire Advertiser. – Saturday 11 July 1896:

      1896 suicide attempt


      In 1903 Ernest married Ethel Maude Howe in Wolverhampton.  Four years later in 1907 Ethel was granted a separation on the grounds of cruelty.

      In Islington in London in 1913, Ernest bigamously married Mabel Elizabeth Smith.  Mabel left Ernest for treating her very badly. She went to Wolverhampton and found out about his first wife still being alive.

      London Evening Standard – Monday 25 May 1914:

      Bigamy 18 months



      In May 1914 Ernest was tried at the Old Bailey and the jury found him guilty of bigamy. In his defense, Ernest said that he had received a letter from his mother saying that she was ill, and a further letter saying that she had died. He said he wrongly assumed that they were referring to his wife, and that he was free to marry.  It was his mother who had died.  He was sentenced to 18 months hard labour at Wormwood Scrubs prison.

      Woolwich Gazette – Tuesday 28 April 1914:

      a wrong assumption


      1914 sentence old bailey


      Ethel Maude Tomlinson was granted a decree nisi in 1915.

      Birmingham Daily Gazette – Wednesday 02 June 1915:

      decree nisi 1915


      Ernest died in September 1915 in hospital in Wolverhampton.

      in reply to: Family Stories From The Other Side ~ Book Two #7278

        Tomlinson of Wergs and Hancox of Penn


        John Tomlinson of Wergs (Tettenhall, Wolverhamton) 1766-1844, my 4X great grandfather, married Sarah Hancox 1772-1851. They were married on the 27th May 1793 by licence at St Peter in Wolverhampton.
        Between 1794 and 1819 they had twelve children, although four of them died in childhood or infancy. Catherine was born in 1794, Thomas in 1795 who died 6 years later, William (my 3x great grandfather) in 1797, Jemima in 1800, John, Richard and Matilda between 1802 and 1806 who all died in childhood, Emma in 1809, Mary Ann in 1811, Sidney in 1814, and Elijah in 1817 who died two years later.

        On the 1841 census John and Sarah were living in Hockley in Birmingham, with three of their children, and surgeon Charles Reynolds. John’s occupation was “Ind” meaning living by independent means. He was living in Hockley when he died in 1844, and in his will he was John Tomlinson, gentleman”.

        Sarah Hancox was born in 1772 in Penn, Wolverhampton. Her father William Hancox was also born in Penn in 1737. Sarah’s mother Elizabeth Parkes married William’s brother Francis in 1767. Francis died in 1768, and in 1770 Elizabeth married William.

        William’s father was William Hancox, yeoman, born in 1703 in Penn. He died intestate in 1772, his wife Sarah claiming her right to his estate. William Hancox and Sarah Evans, both of Penn, were married on the 9th December 1732 in Dudley, Worcestershire, by “certificate”. Marriages were usually either by banns or by licence. Apparently a marriage by certificate indicates that they were non conformists, or dissenters, and had the non conformist marriage “certified” in a Church of England church.

        1732 marriage of William Hancox and Sarah Evans:

        William Hancos Sarahh Evans marriage


        William and Sarah lost two daughters, Elizabeth, five years old, and Ann, three years old, within eight days of each other in February 1738.


        William the elder’s father was John Hancox born in Penn in 1668. He married Elizabeth Wilkes from Sedgley in 1691 at Himley. John Hancox, “of Straw Hall” according to the Wolverhampton burial register, died in 1730. Straw Hall is in Penn. John’s parents were Walter Hancox and Mary Noake. Walter was born in Tettenhall in 1625, his father Richard Hancox. Mary Noake was born in Penn in 1634. Walter died in Penn in 1689.

        Straw Hall thanks to Bradney Mitchell:
        “Here is a picture I have of Straw Hall, Penn Road.
        The painting is by John Reid circa 1878.
        Sketch commissioned by George Bradney Mitchell to record the town as it was before its redevelopment, in a book called Wolverhampton and its Environs. ©”

        Straw Hall, Wolverhampton


        And a photo of the demolition of Straw Hall with an interesting story:

        Straw Hall demolition


        In 1757 a child was abandoned on the porch of Straw Hall.  Aris’s Birmingham Gazette 1st August 1757:

        Straw Hall baby


        The Hancox family were living in Penn for at least 400 years. My great grandfather Charles Tomlinson built a house on Penn Common in the early 1900s, and other Tomlinson relatives have lived there. But none of the family knew of the Hancox connection to Penn. I don’t think that anyone imagined a Tomlinson ancestor would have been a gentleman, either.


        Sarah Hancox’s brother William Hancox 1776-1848 had a busy year in 1804.
        On 29 Aug 1804 he applied for a licence to marry Ann Grovenor of Claverley.
        In August 1804 he had property up for auction in Penn. “part of Lightwoods, 3 plots, and the Coppice”
        On 14 Sept 1804 their first son John was baptised in Penn. According to a later census John was born in Claverley.  (before the parents got married)

        (Incidentally, John Hancox’s descendant married a Warren, who is a descendant of my 4x great grandfather Samuel Warren, on my mothers side,  from Newhall, Derbyshire!)

        On 30 Sept he married Ann in Penn.
        In December he was a bankrupt pig and sheep dealer.
        In July 1805 he’s in the papers under “certificates”: William Hancox the younger, sheep and pig dealer and chapman of Penn. (A certificate was issued after a bankruptcy if they fulfilled their obligations)
        He was a pig dealer in Penn in 1841, a widower, living with unmarried daughter Elizabeth.


        Sarah’s father William Hancox died in 1816. In his will, he left his “daughter Sarah, wife of John Tomlinson of the Wergs the sum of £100 secured to me upon the tolls arising from the turnpike road leading from Wombourne to Sedgeley to and for her sole and separate use”.
        The trustees of toll road would decide not to collect tolls themselves but get someone else to do it by selling the collecting of tolls for a fixed price. This was called “farming the tolls”. The Act of Parliament which set up the trust would authorise the trustees to farm out the tolls. This example is different. The Trustees of turnpikes needed to raise money to carry out work on the highway. The usual way they did this was to mortgage the tolls – they borrowed money from someone and paid the borrower interest; as security they gave the borrower the right, if they were not paid, to take over the collection of tolls and keep the proceeds until they had been paid off. In this case William Hancox has lent £100 to the turnpike and is leaving it (the right to interest and/or have the whole sum repaid) to his daughter Sarah Tomlinson. (this information on tolls from the Wolverhampton family history group.)

        William Hancox, Penn Wood, maltster, left a considerable amount of property to his children in 1816. All household effects he left to his wife Elizabeth, and after her decease to his son Richard Hancox: four dwelling houses in John St, Wolverhampton, in the occupation of various Pratts, Wright and William Clarke. He left £200 to his daughter Frances Gordon wife of James Gordon, and £100 to his daughter Ann Pratt widow of John Pratt. To his son William Hancox, all his various properties in Penn wood. To Elizabeth Tay wife of Thomas Tay he left £200, and to Richard Hancox various other properties in Penn Wood, and to his daughter Lucy Tay wife of Josiah Tay more property in Lower Penn. All his shops in St John Wolverhamton to his son Edward Hancox, and more properties in Lower Penn to both Francis Hancox and Edward Hancox. To his daughter Ellen York £200, and property in Montgomery and Bilston to his son John Hancox. Sons Francis and Edward were underage at the time of the will.  And to his daughter Sarah, his interest in the toll mentioned above.

        Sarah Tomlinson, wife of John Tomlinson of the Wergs, in William Hancox will:

        William Hancox will, Sarah Tomlinson

        in reply to: Family Stories From The Other Side ~ Book Two #7276

          Wood Screw Manufacturers

          The Fishers of West Bromwich.


          My great grandmother, Nellie Fisher, was born in 1877 in Wolverhampton.   Her father William 1834-1916 was a whitesmith, and his father William 1792-1873 was a whitesmith and master screw maker.  William’s father was Abel Fisher, wood screw maker, victualler, and according to his 1849 will, a “gentleman”.

          Nellie Fisher 1877-1956 :

          Nellie Fisher


          Abel Fisher was born in 1769 according to his burial document (age 81 in 1849) and on the 1841 census. Abel was a wood screw manufacturer in Wolverhampton.

          As no baptism record can be found for Abel Fisher, I read every Fisher will I could find in a 30 year period hoping to find his fathers will. I found three other Fishers who were wood screw manufacurers in neighbouring West Bromwich, which led me to assume that Abel was born in West Bromwich and related to these other Fishers.

          The wood screw making industry was a relatively new thing when Abel was born.

          “The screw was used in furniture but did not become a common woodworking fastener until efficient machine tools were developed near the end of the 18th century. The earliest record of lathe made wood screws dates to an English patent of 1760. The development of wood screws progressed from a small cottage industry in the late 18th century to a highly mechanized industry by the mid-19th century. This rapid transformation is marked by several technical innovations that help identify the time that a screw was produced. The earliest, handmade wood screws were made from hand-forged blanks. These screws were originally produced in homes and shops in and around the manufacturing centers of 18th century Europe. Individuals, families or small groups participated in the production of screw blanks and the cutting of the threads. These small operations produced screws individually, using a series of files, chisels and cutting tools to form the threads and slot the head. Screws produced by this technique can vary significantly in their shape and the thread pitch. They are most easily identified by the profusion of file marks (in many directions) over the surface. The first record regarding the industrial manufacture of wood screws is an English patent registered to Job and William Wyatt of Staffordshire in 1760.”

          Wood Screw Makers of West Bromwich:

          Edward Fisher, wood screw maker of West Bromwich, died in 1796. He mentions his wife Pheney and two underage sons in his will. Edward (whose baptism has not been found) married Pheney Mallin on 13 April 1793. Pheney was 17 years old, born in 1776. Her parents were Isaac Mallin and Sarah Firme, who were married in West Bromwich in 1768.
          Edward and Pheney’s son Edward was born on 21 October 1793, and their son Isaac in 1795. The executors of Edwards 1796 will are Daniel Fisher the Younger, Isaac Mallin, and Joseph Fisher.

          There is a marriage allegations and bonds document in 1774 for an Edward Fisher, bachelor and wood screw maker of West Bromwich, aged 25 years and upwards, and Mary Mallin of the same age, father Isaac Mallin. Isaac Mallin and Sarah didn’t marry until 1768 and Mary Mallin would have been born circa 1749. Perhaps Isaac Mallin’s father was the father of Mary Mallin. It’s possible that Edward Fisher was born in 1749 and first married Mary Mallin, and then later Pheney, but it’s also possible that the Edward Fisher who married Mary Mallin in 1774 was Edward Fishers uncle, Daniel’s brother.  (I do not know if Daniel had a brother Edward, as I haven’t found a baptism, or marriage, for Daniel Fisher the elder.)

          There are two difficulties with finding the records for these West Bromwich families. One is that the West Bromwich registers are not available online in their entirety, and are held by the Sandwell Archives, and even so, they are incomplete. Not only that, the Fishers were non conformist. There is no surviving register prior to 1787. The chapel opened in 1788, and any registers that existed before this date, taken in a meeting houses for example, appear not to have survived.

          Daniel Fisher the younger died intestate in 1818. Daniel was a wood screw maker of West Bromwich. He was born in 1751 according to his age stated as 67 on his death in 1818. Daniel’s wife Mary, and his son William Fisher, also a wood screw maker, claimed the estate.

          Daniel Fisher the elder was a farmer of West Bromwich, who died in 1806. He was 81 when he died, which makes a birth date of 1725, although no baptism has been found. No marriage has been found either, but he was probably married not earlier than 1746.

          Daniel’s sons Daniel and Joseph were the main inheritors, and he also mentions his other children and grandchildren namely William Fisher, Thomas Fisher, Hannah wife of William Hadley, two grandchildren Edward and Isaac Fisher sons of Edward Fisher his son deceased. Daniel the elder presumably refers to the wood screw manufacturing when he says “to my son Daniel Fisher the good will and advantage which may arise from his manufacture or trade now carried on by me.” Daniel does not mention a son called Abel unfortunately, but neither does he mention his other grandchildren. Abel may be Daniel’s son, or he may be a nephew.

          The Staffordshire Record Office holds the documents of a Testamentary Case in 1817. The principal people are Isaac Fisher, a legatee; Daniel and Joseph Fisher, executors. Principal place, West Bromwich, and deceased person, Daniel Fisher the elder, farmer.

          William and Sarah Fisher baptised six children in the Mares Green Non Conformist registers in West Bromwich between 1786 and 1798. William Fisher and Sarah Birch were married in West Bromwich in 1777. This William was probably born circa 1753 and was probably the son of Daniel Fisher the elder, farmer.


          Daniel Fisher the younger and his wife Mary had a son William, as mentioned in the intestacy papers, although I have not found a baptism for William.  I did find a baptism for another son, Eutychus Fisher in 1792.

          In White’s Directory of Staffordshire in 1834, there are three Fishers who are wood screw makers in Wolverhampton: Eutychus Fisher, Oxford Street; Stephen Fisher, Bloomsbury; and William Fisher, Oxford Street.

          Abel’s son William Fisher 1792-1873 was living on Oxford Street on the 1841 census, with his wife Mary  and their son William Fisher 1834-1916.


          In The European Magazine, and London Review of 1820  (Volume 77 – Page 564) under List of Patents, W Fisher and H Fisher of West Bromwich, wood screw manufacturers, are listed.  Also in 1820 in the Birmingham Chronicle, the partnership of William and Hannah Fisher, wood screw manufacturers of West Bromwich, was dissolved.


          In the Staffordshire General & Commercial Directory 1818, by W. Parson, three Fisher’s are listed as wood screw makers.  Abel Fisher victualler and wood screw maker, Red Lion, Walsal Road; Stephen Fisher wood screw maker, Buggans Lane; and Daniel Fisher wood screw manufacturer, Brickiln Lane.


          In Aris’s Birmingham Gazette on 4 January 1819 Abel Fisher is listed with 23 other wood screw manufacturers (Stephen Fisher and William Fisher included) stating that “In consequence of the rise in prices of iron and the advanced price given to journeymen screw forgers, we the undersigned manufacturers of wood screws are under the necessity of advancing screws 10 percent, to take place on the 11th january 1819.”

          Abel Fisher wood screws


          In Abel Fisher’s 1849 will, he names his three sons Abel Fisher 1796-1869, Paul Fisher 1811-1900 and John Southall Fisher 1801-1871 as the executors.  He also mentions his other three sons, William Fisher 1792-1873, Benjamin Fisher 1798-1870, and Joseph Fisher 1803-1876, and daughters Sarah Fisher  1794-  wife of William Colbourne, Mary Fisher  1804-  wife of Thomas Pearce, and Susannah (Hannah) Fisher  1813-  wife of Parkes.  His son Silas Fisher 1809-1837 wasn’t mentioned as he died before Abel, nor his sons John Fisher  1799-1800, and Edward Southall Fisher 1806-1843.  Abel’s wife Susannah Southall born in 1771 died in 1824.  They were married in 1791.

          The 1849 will of Abel Fisher:

          Abel Fisher 1849 will

          in reply to: The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler #7270

            Finnley’s been down the cellar for over two months,” Liz said to Godfrey who was still wearing a toga.  “I confess I  hadn’t even noticed, but now that I have, I feel I should investigate her whereabouts and well being, as it were.”

            “All you have to do is write her back in, Liz.”

            Liz thought it was high time Finnley wrote herself back in, but was prepared to be flexible, as usual.

            in reply to: Family Stories From The Other Side ~ Book Two #7268

              William Tomlinson



              The Tomlinsons of Wolverhampton were butchers and publicans for several generations. Therefore it was a surprise to find that William’s father was a gentleman of independant means.

              William Tomlinson 1797-1867 was born in Wergs, Tettenhall. His birthplace, and that of his first four children, is stated as Wergs on the 1851 census. They were baptised at St Michael and All Angels church in Tettenhall Regis, as were many of the Tomlinson family including William.

              Tettenhall, St Michael and All Angels church:



              Wergs is a very small area and there was no other William Tomlinson baptised there at the time of William’s birth. It is of course possible that another William Tomlinson was born in Wergs and the record of the baptism hasn’t been found, but there are a number of other documents that prove that John Tomlinson, gentleman of Wergs, was Williams father.

              In 1834 on the Shropshire Quarter session rolls there are two documents regarding William. In October 1834 William Tomlinson of Tettenhall, son of John, took an examination. Also in October of 1834 there is a reconizance document for William Tomlinson for “pig dealer”. On the marriage certificate of his son Charles Tomlinson to Emma Grattidge (mistranscribed as Pratadge) in 1872, father William’s occupation is “dealer”.

              William Tomlinson was a witness at his sister Catherine and Benjamin Smiths wedding in 1822 in Tettenhall. In John Tomlinson’s 1844 will, he mentions his “daughter Catherine Smith, wife of Benjamin Smith”. William’s signature as a witness at Catherine’s marriage matches his signature on the licence for his own marriage to Elizabeth Adams in 1827 in Shareshill, Staffordshire.

              William’s signature on his wedding licence:

              William Tomlinson signature 1

              Williams signature as a witness to Catherine’s marriage:

              William Tomlinson signature 2


              William was the eldest surviving son when his father died in 1844, so it is surprising that William only inherited £25. John Tomlinson left his various properties to his daughters, with the exception of Catherine, who also received £25.  There was one other surviving son, Sidney, born in 1814. Three of John and Sarah Tomlinson’s sons and one daughter died in infancy. Sidney was still unmarried and living at home when his father died, and in 1851 and 1861 was living with his sister Emma Wilson. He was unmarried when he died in 1867. John left Sidney an income for life in his will, but not property.

              In John Tomlinson’s will he also mentions his daughter Jemima, wife of William Smith, farmer, of Great Barr. On the 1841 census William, butcher, is a visitor. His two children Sarah and Thomas are with him. His wife Elizabeth and the rest of the children are at Graisley Street. William is also on the Graisley Street census, occupation castrator. This was no doubt done in error, not realizing that he was also registered on the census where he was visiting at the time.

              William’s wife, Elizabeth Adams, was born in Tong, Shropshire in 1807. The Adams in Tong appear to be agricultural labourers, at least on later censuses. Perhaps we can speculate that John didn’t approve of his son marrying an agricutural labourers daughter. Elizabeth would have been twenty years old at the time of the marriage; William thirty.

              in reply to: Family Stories From The Other Side ~ Book Two #7267

                Thomas Josiah Tay

                22 Feb 1816 – 16 November 1878


                “Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.”

                Thomas Josiah Tay 1878


                I first came across the name TAY in the 1844 will of John Tomlinson (1766-1844), gentleman of Wergs, Tettenhall. John’s friends, trustees and executors were Edward Moore, surgeon of Halesowen, and Edward Tay, timber merchant of Wolverhampton.


                1844 will John Tomlinson


                Edward Moore (born in 1805) was the son of John’s wife’s (Sarah Hancox born 1772) sister Lucy Hancox (born 1780) from her first marriage in 1801. In 1810 widowed Lucy married Josiah Tay (1775-1837).

                Edward Tay was the son of Sarah Hancox sister Elizabeth (born 1778), who married Thomas Tay in 1800. Thomas Tay (1770-1841) and Josiah Tay were brothers.

                Edward Tay (1803-1862) was born in Sedgley and was buried in Penn. He was innkeeper of The Fighting Cocks, Dudley Road, Wolverhampton, as well as a builder and timber merchant, according to various censuses, trade directories, his marriage registration where his father Thomas Tay is also a timber merchant, as well as being named as a timber merchant in John Tomlinsons will.

                John Tomlinson’s daughter Catherine (born in 1794) married Benjamin Smith in Tettenhall in 1822. William Tomlinson (1797-1867), Catherine’s brother, and my 3x great grandfather, was one of the witnesses.

                1822 William Tomlinson witness


                Their daughter Matilda Sarah Smith (1823-1910) married Thomas Josiah Tay in 1850 in Birmingham. Thomas Josiah Tay (1816-1878) was Edward Tay’s brother, the sons of Elizabeth Hancox and Thomas Tay.

                Therefore, William Hancox 1737-1816 (the father of Sarah, Elizabeth and Lucy), was Matilda’s great grandfather and Thomas Josiah Tay’s grandfather.


                Thomas Josiah Tay’s relationship to me is the husband of first cousin four times removed, as well as my first cousin, five times removed.


                In 1837 Thomas Josiah Tay is mentioned in the will of his uncle Josiah Tay.

                1837 will Josiah Tay


                In 1841 Thomas Josiah Tay appears on the Stafford criminal registers for an “attempt to procure miscarriage”. He was found not guilty.

                According to the Staffordshire Advertiser on 14th March 1840 the listing for the Assizes included: “Thomas Ashmall and Thomas Josiah Tay, for administering noxious ingredients to Hannah Evans, of Wolverhampton, with intent to procure abortion.”

                The London Morning Herald on 19th March 1840 provides further information: “Mr Thomas Josiah Tay, a chemist and druggist, surrendered to take his trial on a charge of having administered drugs to Hannah Lear, now Hannah Evans, with intent to procure abortion.” She entered the service of Tay in 1837 and after four months “an intimacy was formed” and two months later she was “enciente”. Tay advised her to take some pills and a draught which he gave her and she became very ill. The prosecutrix admitted that she had made no mention of this until 1939. Verdict: not guilty.

                However, the case of Thomas Josiah Tay is also mentioned in a couple of law books, and the story varies slightly. In the 1841 Reports of Cases Argued and Rules at Nisi Prius, the Regina vs Ashmall and Tay case states that Thomas Ashmall feloniously, unlawfully, and maliciously, did use a certain instrument, and that Thomas Josiah Tay did procure the instrument, counsel and command Ashmall in the use of it. It concludes that Tay was not compellable to plead to the indictment, and that he did not.

                Thomas Josiah Tay 1840

                Thomas Josiah Tay 1840 2

                Thomas Josiah Tay 1840 3

                Thomas Josiah Tay 1840 4


                The Regina vs Ashmall and Tay case is also mentioned in the Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents, 1896.

                Thomas Josiah Tay 1840 5

                Thomas Josiah Tay 1840 6


                In 1845 Thomas Josiah Tay married Isabella Southwick in Tettenhall. Two years later in 1847 Isabella died.

                In 1850 Thomas Josiah married Matilda Sarah Smith. (granddaughter of John Tomlinson, as mentioned above)

                On the 1851 census Thomas Josiah Tay was a farmer of 100 acres employing two labourers in Shelfield, Walsall, Staffordshire. Thomas Josiah and Matilda Sarah have a daughter Matilda under a year old, and they have a live in house servant.

                In 1861 Thomas Josiah Tay, his wife and their four children Ann, James, Josiah and Alice, live in Chelmarsh, Shropshire. He was a farmer of 224 acres. Mercy Smith, Matilda’s sister, lives with them, a 28 year old dairy maid.

                In 1863 Thomas Josiah Tay of Hampton Lode (Chelmarsh) Shropshire was bankrupt. Creditors include Frederick Weaver, druggist of Wolverhampton.

                In 1869 Thomas Josiah Tay was again bankrupt. He was an innkeeper at The Fighting Cocks on Dudley Road, Wolverhampton, at the time, the same inn as his uncle Edward Tay, aforementioned timber merchant.


                Fighting Cocks Inn



                In 1871, Thomas Josiah Tay, his wife Matilda, and their three children Alice, Edward and Maryann, were living in Birmingham. Thomas Josiah was a commercial traveller.


                He died on the 16th November 1878 at the age of 62 and was buried in Darlaston, Walsall. On his gravestone:

                “Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.” Psalm XC 15 verse.


                Edward Moore, surgeon, was also a MAGISTRATE in later years. On the 1871 census he states his occupation as “magistrate for counties Worcester and Stafford, and deputy lieutenant of Worcester, formerly surgeon”. He lived at Townsend House in Halesowen for many years. His wifes name was PATTERN Lucas. Her mothers name was Pattern Hewlitt from Birmingham, an unusal name that I have not heard before. On the 1871 census, Edward’s son was a 22 year old solicitor.

                In 1861 an article appeared in the newspapers about the state of the morality of the women of Dudley. It was claimed that all the local magistrates agreed with the premise of the article, concerning unmarried women and their attitudes towards having illegitimate children. Letters appeared in subsequent newspapers signed by local magistrates, including Edward Moore, strongly disagreeing.

                Staffordshire Advertiser 17 August 1861:

                Dudley women 1861

                in reply to: Family Stories From The Other Side ~ Book Two #7263

                  Solomon Stubbs



                  Solomon was born in Hamstall Ridware, Staffordshire, parents Samuel Stubbs and Rebecca Wood. (see The Hamstall Ridware Connection chapter)

                  Solomon married Phillis Lomas at St Modwen’s in Burton on Trent on 30th May 1815. Phillis was the llegitimate daughter of Frances Lomas. No father was named on the baptism on the 17th January 1787 in Sutton on the Hill, Derbyshire, and the entry on the baptism register states that she was illegitimate. Phillis’s mother Frances married Daniel Fox in 1790 in Sutton on the Hill. Unfortunately this means that it’s impossible to find my 5X great grandfather on this side of the family.

                  Solomon and Phillis had four daughters, the last died in infancy.
                  Sarah 1816-1867, Mary (my 3X great grandmother) 1819-1880, Phillis 1823-1905, and Maria 1835-1826.


                  Solomon Stubbs of Horninglow St is listed in the 1834 Whites Directory under “China, Glass, Etc Dlrs”. Next to his name is Joanna Warren (earthenware) High St. Joanna Warren is related to me on my maternal side.  No doubt Solomon and Joanna knew each other, unaware that several generations later a marriage would take place, not locally but miles away, joining their families.

                  Solomon Stubbs is also listed in Whites Directory in 1831 and 1834 Burton on Trent as a land carrier:

                  “Land Carriers, from the Inns, Etc: Uttoxeter, Solomon Stubbs, Horninglow St, Mon. Wed. and Sat. 6 mng.”

                  1831 Solomon Stubbs


                  Solomon is listed in the electoral registers in 1837. The 1837 United Kingdom general election was triggered by the death of King William IV and produced the first Parliament of the reign of his successor, Queen Victoria.

                  National Archives:

                  “In 1832, Parliament passed a law that changed the British electoral system. It was known as the Great Reform Act, which basically gave the vote to middle class men, leaving working men disappointed.
                  The Reform Act became law in response to years of criticism of the electoral system from those outside and inside Parliament. Elections in Britain were neither fair nor representative. In order to vote, a person had to own property or pay certain taxes to qualify, which excluded most working class people.”


                  Via the Burton on Trent History group:

                  “a very early image of High street and Horninglow street junction, where the original ‘ Bargates’ were in the days of the Abbey. ‘Gate’ is the Saxon meaning Road, ‘Bar’ quite self explanatory, meant ‘to stop entrance’. There was another Bargate across Cat street (Station street), the Abbot had these constructed to regulate the Traders coming into town, in the days when the Abbey ran things. In the photo you can see the Posts on the corner, designed to stop Carts and Carriages mounting the Pavement. Only three Posts remain today and they are Listed.”

                  Horninglow St


                  On the 1841 census, Solomon’s occupation was Carrier. Daughter Sarah is still living at home, and Sarah Grattidge, 13 years old, lives with them. Solomon’s daughter Mary had married William Grattidge in 1839.

                  Solomon Stubbs of Horninglow Street, Burton on Trent, is listed as an Earthenware Dealer in the 1842 Pigot’s Directory of Staffordshire.

                  In May 1844 Solomon’s wife Phillis died.  In July 1844 daughter Sarah married Thomas Brandon in Burton on Trent. It was noted in the newspaper announcement that this was the first wedding to take place at the Holy Trinity church.

                  Solomon married Charlotte Bell by licence the following year in 1845.   She was considerably younger than him, born in 1824.  On the marriage certificate Solomon’s occupation is potter.  It seems that he had the earthenware business as well as the land carrier business, in addition to owning a number of properties.

                  The marriage of Solomon Stubbs and Charlotte Bell:

                  1845 Solomon Stubbs


                  Also in 1845, Solomon’s daughter Phillis was married in Burton on Trent to John Devitt, son of CD Devitt, Esq, formerly of the General Post Office Dublin.

                  Solomon Stubbs died in September 1857 in Burton on Trent.  In the Staffordshire Advertiser on Saturday 3 October 1857:

                  “On the 22nd ultimo, suddenly, much respected, Solomon Stubbs, of Guild-street, Burton-on-Trent, aged 74 years.”


                  In the Staffordshire Advertiser, 24th October 1857, the auction of the property of Solomon Stubbs was announced:

                  “BURTON ON TRENT, on Thursday, the 29th day of October, 1857, at six o’clock in the evening, subject to conditions then to be produced:— Lot I—All those four DWELLING HOUSES, with the Gardens and Outbuildings thereto belonging, situate in Stanleystreet, on Goose Moor, in Burton-on-Trent aforesaid, the property of the late Mr. Solomon Stubbs, and in the respective occupations of Mr. Moreland, Mr. Scattergood, Mr. Gough, and Mr. Antony…..”

                  1857 Solomoon Stubbs


                  Sadly, the graves of Solomon, his wife Phillis, and their infant daughter Maria have since been removed and are listed in the UK Records of the Removal of Graves and Tombstones 1601-2007.

                  in reply to: Family Stories From The Other Side ~ Book Two #7261


                    Long Lost Enoch Edwards


                    Enoch Edwards


                    My father used to mention long lost Enoch Edwards. Nobody in the family knew where he went to and it was assumed that he went to USA, perhaps to Utah to join his sister Sophie who was a Mormon handcart pioneer, but no record of him was found in USA.

                    Andrew Enoch Edwards (my great great grandfather) was born in 1840, but was (almost) always known as Enoch. Although civil registration of births had started from 1 July 1837, neither Enoch nor his brother Stephen were registered. Enoch was baptised (as Andrew) on the same day as his brothers Reuben and Stephen in May 1843 at St Chad’s Catholic cathedral in Birmingham. It’s a mystery why these three brothers were baptised Catholic, as there are no other Catholic records for this family before or since. One possible theory is that there was a school attached to the church on Shadwell Street, and a Catholic baptism was required for the boys to go to the school. Enoch’s father John died of TB in 1844, and perhaps in 1843 he knew he was dying and wanted to ensure an education for his sons. The building of St Chads was completed in 1841, and it was close to where they lived.

                    Enoch appears (as Enoch rather than Andrew) on the 1841 census, six months old. The family were living at Unett Street in Birmingham: John and Sarah and children Mariah, Sophia, Matilda, a mysterious entry transcribed as Lene, a daughter, that I have been unable to find anywhere else, and Reuben and Stephen.

                    Enoch was just four years old when his father John, an engineer and millwright, died of consumption in 1844.

                    In 1851 Enoch’s widowed mother Sarah was a mangler living on Summer Street, Birmingham, Matilda a dressmaker, Reuben and Stephen were gun percussionists, and eleven year old Enoch was an errand boy.

                    On the 1861 census, Sarah was a confectionrer on Canal Street in Birmingham, Stephen was a blacksmith, and Enoch a button tool maker.

                    On the 10th November 1867 Enoch married Emelia Parker, daughter of jeweller and rope maker Edward Parker, at St Philip in Birmingham. Both Emelia and Enoch were able to sign their own names, and Matilda and Edwin Eddington were witnesses (Enoch’s sister and her husband). Enoch’s address was Church Street, and his occupation button tool maker.

                    1867 Enoch Edwards


                    Four years later in 1871, Enoch was a publican living on Clifton Road. Son Enoch Henry was two years old, and Ralph Ernest was three months. Eliza Barton lived with them as a general servant.

                    By 1881 Enoch was back working as a button tool maker in Bournebrook, Birmingham. Enoch and Emilia by then had three more children, Amelia, Albert Parker (my great grandfather) and Ada.

                    Garnet Frederick Edwards was born in 1882. This is the first instance of the name Garnet in the family, and subsequently Garnet has been the middle name for the eldest son (my brother, father and grandfather all have Garnet as a middle name).

                    Enoch was the licensed victualler at the Pack Horse Hotel in 1991 at Kings Norton. By this time, only daughters Amelia and Ada and son Garnet are living at home.

                    Pack Horse Hotel



                    Additional information from my fathers cousin, Paul Weaver:

                    “Enoch refused to allow his son Albert Parker to go to King Edwards School in Birmingham, where he had been awarded a place. Instead, in October 1890 he made Albert Parker Edwards take an apprenticeship with a pawnboker in Tipton.
                    Towards the end of the 19th century Enoch kept The Pack Horse in Alcester Road, Hollywood, where a twist was 1d an ounce, and beer was 2d a pint. The children had to get up early to get breakfast at 6 o’clock for the hay and straw men on their way to the Birmingham hay and straw market. Enoch is listed as a member of “The Kingswood & Pack Horse Association for the Prosecution of Offenders”, a kind of early Neighbourhood Watch, dated 25 October 1890.
                    The Edwards family later moved to Redditch where they kept The Rifleman Inn at 35 Park Road. They must have left the Pack Horse by 1895 as another publican was in place by then.”

                    Emelia his wife died in 1895 of consumption at the Rifleman Inn in Redditch, Worcestershire, and in 1897 Enoch married Florence Ethel Hedges in Aston. Enoch was 56 and Florence was just 21 years old.

                    1897 Enoch Edwards


                    The following year in 1898 their daughter Muriel Constance Freda Edwards was born in Deritend, Warwickshire.
                    In 1901 Enoch, (Andrew on the census), publican, Florence and Muriel were living in Dudley. It was hard to find where he went after this.

                    From Paul Weaver:

                    “Family accounts have it that Enoch EDWARDS fell out with all his family, and at about the age of 60, he left all behind and emigrated to the U.S.A. Enoch was described as being an active man, and it is believed that he had another family when he settled in the U.S.A. Esmor STOKES has it that a postcard was received by the family from Enoch at Niagara Falls.

                    On 11 June 1902 Harry Wright (the local postmaster responsible in those days for licensing) brought an Enoch EDWARDS to the Bedfordshire Petty Sessions in Biggleswade regarding “Hole in the Wall”, believed to refer to the now defunct “Hole in the Wall” public house at 76 Shortmead Street, Biggleswade with Enoch being granted “temporary authority”. On 9 July 1902 the transfer was granted. A year later in the 1903 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Bedfordshire, Hunts and Northamptonshire there is an Enoch EDWARDS running the Wheatsheaf Public House, Church Street, St. Neots, Huntingdonshire which is 14 miles south of Biggleswade.”

                    It seems that Enoch and his new family moved away from the midlands in the early 1900s, but again the trail went cold.

                    When I started doing the genealogy research, I joined a local facebook group for Redditch in Worcestershire. Enoch’s son Albert Parker Edwards (my great grandfather) spent most of his life there. I asked in the group about Enoch, and someone posted an illustrated advertisement for Enoch’s dog powders.  Enoch was a well known breeder/keeper of St Bernards and is cited in a book naming individuals key to the recovery/establishment of ‘mastiff’ size dog breeds.


                    We had not known that Enoch was a breeder of champion St Bernard dogs!

                    Once I knew about the St Bernard dogs and the names Mount Leo and Plinlimmon via the newspaper adverts, I did an internet search on Enoch Edwards in conjunction with these dogs.

                    Enoch’s St Bernard dog “Mount Leo” was bred from the famous Plinlimmon, “the Emperor of Saint Bernards”. He was reported to have sent two puppies to Omaha and one of his stud dogs to America for a season, and in 1897 Enoch made the news for selling a St Bernard to someone in New York for £200. Plinlimmon, bred by Thomas Hall, was born in Liverpool, England on June 29, 1883. He won numerous dog shows throughout Europe in 1884, and in 1885, he was named Best Saint Bernard.

                    In the Birmingham Mail on 14th June 1890:

                    “Mr E Edwards, of Bournebrook, has been well to the fore with his dogs of late. He has gained nine honours during the past fortnight, including a first at the Pontypridd show with a St Bernard dog, The Speaker, a son of Plinlimmon.”

                    In the Alcester Chronicle on Saturday 05 June 1897:

                    Enoch St Bernards

                    Enoch press releases


                    It was discovered that Enoch, Florence and Muriel moved to Canada, not USA as the family had assumed. The 1911 census for Montreal St Jaqcues, Quebec, stated that Enoch, (Florence) Ethel, and (Muriel) Frida had emigrated in 1906. Enoch’s occupation was machinist in 1911. The census transcription is not very good. Edwards was transcribed as Edmand, but the dates of birth for all three are correct. Birthplace is correct ~ A for Anglitan (the census is in French) but race or tribe is also an A but the transcribers have put African black! Enoch by this time was 71 years old, his wife 33 and daughter 11.

                    Additional information from Paul Weaver:

                    “In 1906 he and his new family travelled to Canada with Enoch travelling first and Ethel and Frida joined him in Quebec on 25 June 1906 on board the ‘Canada’ from Liverpool.
                    Their immigration record suggests that they were planning to travel to Winnipeg, but five years later in 1911, Enoch, Florence Ethel and Frida were still living in St James, Montreal. Enoch was employed as a machinist by Canadian Government Railways working 50 hours. It is the 1911 census record that confirms his birth as November 1840. It also states that Enoch could neither read nor write but managed to earn $500 in 1910 for activity other than his main profession, although this may be referring to his innkeeping business interests.
                    By 1921 Florence and Muriel Frida are living in Langford, Neepawa, Manitoba with Peter FUCHS, an Ontarian farmer of German descent who Florence had married on 24 Jul 1913 implying that Enoch died sometime in 1911/12, although no record has been found.”

                    The extra $500 in earnings was perhaps related to the St Bernard dogs.  Enoch signed his name on the register on his marriage to Emelia, and I think it’s very unlikely that he could neither read nor write, as stated above.

                    However, it may not be Enoch’s wife Florence Ethel who married Peter Fuchs.  A Florence Emma Edwards married Peter Fuchs,  and on the 1921 census in Neepawa her daugther Muriel Elizabeth Edwards, born in 1902, lives with them.  Quite a coincidence, two Florence and Muriel Edwards in Neepawa at the time.  Muriel Elizabeth Edwards married and had two children but died at the age of 23 in 1925.  Her mother Florence was living with the widowed husband and the two children on the 1931 census in Neepawa.  As there was no other daughter on the 1911 census with Enoch, Florence and Muriel in Montreal, it must be a different Florence and daughter.  We don’t know, though, why Muriel Constance Freda married in Neepawa.

                    Indeed, Florence was not a widow in 1913.  Enoch died in 1924 in Montreal, aged 84.  Neither Enoch, Florence or their daughter has been found yet on the 1921 census. The search is not easy, as Enoch sometimes used the name Andrew, Florence used her middle name Ethel, and daughter Muriel used Freda, Valerie (the name she added when she married in Neepawa), and died as Marcheta.   The only name she NEVER used was Constance!

                    A Canadian genealogist living in Montreal phoned the cemetery where Enoch was buried. She said “Enoch Edwards who died on Feb 27 1924  is not buried in the Mount Royal cemetery, he was only cremated there on March 4, 1924. There are no burial records but he died of an abcess and his body was sent to the cemetery for cremation from the Royal Victoria Hospital.”


                    1924 Obituary for Enoch Edwards:

                    Cimetière Mont-Royal Outremont, Montreal Region, Quebec, Canada

                    The Montreal Star 29 Feb 1924, Fri · Page 31

                    1924 death Enoch Edwards


                    Muriel Constance Freda Valerie Edwards married Arthur Frederick Morris on 24 Oct 1925 in Neepawa, Manitoba. (She appears to have added the name Valerie when she married.)

                    Unexpectedly a death certificate appeared for Muriel via the hints on the ancestry website. Her name was “Marcheta Morris” on this document, however it also states that she was the widow of Arthur Frederick Morris and daughter of Andrew E Edwards and Florence Ethel Hedges. She died suddenly in June 1948 in Flos, Simcoe, Ontario of a coronary thrombosis, where she was living as a housekeeper.

                    Marcheta Morris

                    in reply to: The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler #7260

                      “I expect you’ve all been wondering where I was,” announced Liz as she swanned into the room with an air of serene satisfaction. (and then wondered if “she swanned into the salon, shivering with serene satisfaction” would be preferable.) (but would “should sound splendid” be better than “would be preferable”?)

                      “What the dickens are you on about?” said Finnley in her usual abrupt fashion, and sporting her customary accompanying withering look.

                      “She simply asks if we wondered where she was, Finnley,” Godfrey remarked mildly, who had not been reading Liz’s mind, and therefore had no idea why the dickens Finnley had said what she said.

                      Neither had Roberto been reading Liz’s mind (he was far too polite) and would not have known what a dickens was anyway, hailing as he did from foreign parts.  Fortunately he had the presence of mind, and the inate courtesy to respond to a plain request to answer a relatively simple question. “Where have you been? We’ve been worried about you!” he duly uttered.

                      Liz beamed at the handsome gardener, or more accurately, the boatman.  After the gardens flooded and the road cut off, the obliging adaptable fellow made a couple of rafts and canoes for transport, and morning “walks”and started some edible algae water gardens.

                      in reply to: Family Stories From The Other Side ~ Book Two #7255

                        The First Wife of John Edwards


                        John was a widower when he married Sarah Reynolds from Kinlet. Both my fathers cousin and I had come to a dead end in the Edwards genealogy research as there were a number of possible births of a John Edwards in Birmingham at the time, and a number of possible first wives for a John Edwards at the time.

                        John Edwards was a millwright on the 1841 census, the only census he appeared on as he died in 1844, and 1841 was the first census. His birth is recorded as 1800, however on the 1841 census the ages were rounded up or down five years. He was an engineer on some of the marriage records of his children with Sarah, and on his death certificate, engineer and millwright, aged 49. The age of 49 at his death from tuberculosis in 1844 is likely to be more accurate than the census (Sarah his wife was present at his death), making a birth date of 1794 or 1795.

                        John married Sarah Reynolds in January 1827 in Birmingham, and I am descended from this marriage. Any children of John’s first marriage would no doubt have been living with John and Sarah, but had probably left home by the time of the 1841 census.

                        I found an Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John Edwards of Constitution Hill, died in August 1826 at the age of 23, as stated on the parish death register. It would be logical for a young widower with small children to marry again quickly. If this was John’s first wife, the marriage to Sarah six months later in January 1827 makes sense. Therefore, John’s first wife, I assumed, was Elizabeth, born in 1803.

                        Death of Elizabeth Edwards, 23 years old.  St Mary, Birmingham, 15 Aug 1826:

                        Death Eliz Edwards


                        There were two baptisms recorded for parents John and Elizabeth Edwards, Constitution Hill, and John’s occupation was an engineer on both baptisms.
                        They were both daughters: Sarah Ann in 1822 and Elizabeth in 1824.

                        Sarah Ann Edwards: St Philip, Birmingham. Born 15 March 1822, baptised 7 September 1822:

                        1822 Sarah Ann Edwards

                        Elizabeth Edwards: St Philip, Birmingham. Born 6 February 1824, baptised 25 February 1824:

                        1824 Elizabeth Edwards


                        With John’s occupation as engineer stated, it looked increasingly likely that I’d found John’s first wife and children of that marriage.

                        Then I found a marriage of Elizabeth Beach to John Edwards in 1819, and subsequently found an Elizabeth Beach baptised in 1803. This appeared to be the right first wife for John, until an Elizabeth Slater turned up, with a marriage to a John Edwards in 1820. An Elizabeth Slater was baptised in 1803. Either Elizabeth Beach or Elizabeth Slater could have been the first wife of John Edwards. As John’s first wife Elizabeth is not related to us, it’s not necessary to go further back, and in a sense, doesn’t really matter which one it was.

                        But the Slater name caught my eye.

                        But first, the name Sarah Ann.

                        Of the possible baptisms for John Edwards, the most likely seemed to be in 1794, parents John and Sarah. John and Sarah had two infant daughters die just prior to John’s birth. The first was Sarah, the second Sarah Ann. Perhaps this was why John named his daughter Sarah Ann? In the absence of any other significant clues, I decided to assume these were the correct parents. I found and read half a dozen wills of any John Edwards I could find within the likely time period of John’s fathers death.

                        One of them was dated 1803. In this will, John mentions that his children are not yet of age. (John would have been nine years old.)
                        He leaves his plating business and some properties to his eldest son Thomas Davis Edwards, (just shy of 21 years old at the time of his fathers death in 1803) with the business to be run jointly with his widow, Sarah. He mentions his son John, and leaves several properties to him, when he comes of age. He also leaves various properties to his daughters Elizabeth and Mary, ditto. The baptisms for all of these children, including the infant deaths of Sarah and Sarah Ann have been found. All but Mary’s were in the same parish. (I found one for Mary in Sutton Coldfield, which was apparently correct, as a later census also recorded her birth as Sutton Coldfield. She was living with family on that census, so it would appear to be correct that for whatever reason, their daughter Mary was born in Sutton Coldfield)

                        Mary married John Slater in 1813. The witnesses were Elizabeth Whitehouse and John Edwards, her sister and brother. Elizabeth married William Nicklin Whitehouse in 1805 and one of the witnesses was Mary Edwards.
                        Mary’s husband John Slater died in 1821. They had no children. Mary never remarried, and lived with her bachelor brother Thomas Davis Edwards in West Bromwich. Thomas never married, and on the census he was either a proprietor of houses, or “sinecura” (earning a living without working).

                        With Mary marrying a Slater, does this indicate that her brother John’s first wife was Elizabeth Slater rather than Elizabeth Beach? It is a compelling possibility, but does not constitute proof.

                        Not only that, there is no absolute proof that the John Edwards who died in 1803 was our ancestor John Edwards father.


                        If we can’t be sure which Elizabeth married John Edwards, we can be reasonably sure who their daughters married. On both of the marriage records the father is recorded as John Edwards, engineer.

                        Sarah Ann married Mark Augustin Rawlins in 1850. Mark was a sword hilt maker at the time of the marriage, his father Mark a needle manufacturer. One of the witnesses was Elizabeth Edwards, who signed with her mark. Sarah Ann and Mark however were both able to sign their own names on the register.

                        Sarah Ann Edwards and Mark Augustin Rawlins marriage 14 October 1850 St Peter and St Paul, Aston, Birmingham:

                        1850 Sarah Ann Edwards

                        Elizabeth married Nathaniel Twigg in 1851. (She was living with her sister Sarah Ann and Mark Rawlins on the 1851 census, I assume the census was taken before her marriage to Nathaniel on the 27th April 1851.) Nathaniel was a stationer (later on the census a bookseller), his father Samuel a brass founder. Elizabeth signed with her mark, apparently unable to write, and a witness was Ann Edwards. Although Sarah Ann, Elizabeth’s sister, would have been Sarah Ann Rawlins at the time, having married the previous year, she was known as Ann on later censuses. The signature of Ann Edwards looks remarkably similar to Sarah Ann Edwards signature on her own wedding. Perhaps she couldn’t write but had learned how to write her signature for her wedding?

                        Elizabeth Edwards and Nathaniel Twigg marriage 27 April 1851, St Peter and St Paul, Aston, Birmingham:

                        1851 Elizabeth Edwards

                        Sarah Ann and Mark Rawlins had one daughter and four sons between 1852 and 1859. One of the sons, Edward Rawlins 1857-1931, was a school master and later master of an orphanage.

                        On the 1881 census Edward was a bookseller, in 1891 a stationer, 1901 schoolmaster and his wife Edith was matron, and in 1911 he and Edith were master and matron of St Philip’s Catholic Orphanage on Oliver Road in Birmingham. Edward and Edith did not have any children.

                        Edward Rawlins, 1911:

                        Edward Rawlins 1911


                        Elizabeth and Nathaniel Twigg appear to have had only one son, Arthur Twigg 1862-1943. Arthur was a photographer at 291 Bloomsbury Street, Birmingham. Arthur married Harriet Moseley from Burton on Trent, and they had two daughters, Elizabeth Ann 1897-1954, and Edith 1898-1983. I found a photograph of Edith on her wedding day, with her father Arthur in the picture. Arthur and Harriet also had a son Samuel Arthur, who lived for less than a month, born in 1904. Arthur had mistakenly put this son on the 1911 census stating “less than one month”, but the birth and death of Samuel Arthur Twigg were registered in the same quarter of 1904, and none were found registered for 1911.

                        Edith Twigg and Leslie A Hancock on their Wedding Day 1925. Arthur Twigg behind the bride. Maybe Elizabeth Ann Twigg seated on the right: (photo found on the ancestry website)

                        Edith Twigg wedding 1925


                        Photographs by Arthur Twigg, 291 Bloomsbury Street, Birmingham:

                        Arthur Twigg 1

                        Arhtur Twigg photo

                        in reply to: The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler #7254

                          “Oh!” exclaimed Liz, who had heretofore been struggling to stay abreast of recent developments.  “You mean Mr Du Grat!  Honestly Finnley, your pronunciation leaves much to be desired.  I have it from the horses mouth that the charming Mr Du Grat has gone on an adventure.  More’s the pity,” she added, “As I was just starting to take a shine to him.”

                          “But what about Walter Melon?” Roberto chimed in nervously.

                          “What’s it got to do with you?” Liz narrowed her eyes.  “Turning the garden into a wildlife haven was a mistake, it’s left you with far too much time on your hands, my boy!  See if there’s anything you can do to help Finnley, it might stop her screaming.”

                          “Why not help her with the baby faced cookies, Roberto?” Godfrey said mildly, peering over the top of his spectacles.

                          “What was that you said? I can’t hear over that racket.”

                          “I SAID..” Godfrey shouted, but was prevented from continuing when the corner of Liz’s desk landed on his gouty toe, which left him momentarily speechless.

                          “Well that shut you all up, didn’t it!” With a triumphant smile, Liz surveyed the room. Her sudden urge to upend her desk, sending papers, books, ashtrays, peanuts and coffee cups scattering all over the room had been surprisingly therapeutic.  “I must do that more often,” she said quietly to herself.

                          “I heard that,” retorted Finnley. “Let’s see how therapeutic it is to clean it all up.”  And with that, Finnley marched out of the room, tossing her toilet plunger over her shoulder which hit Godfrey on the side of his head knocking his glasses off.

                          “Not so fast, Finnely! Godfrey shouted.  The pain in his big toe had enraged him.  But it was too late, the insubordinate wench slammed the door behind her and thundered up the stairs.

                          “Ah, Roberto!  You can clean all this mess up.   I’m off to the dentist for a bit of peace and quiet.  I’ll expect it all to be tip top and Bristol fashion when I get back.”

                          Thundering back down the stairs, Finnley flung the door open. “You use far too many cliches!” and then slammed back out again.

                          in reply to: Coma Cameleon #7248

                            Thanks to the fresh faced young looking redhead for her kindness, Tibu’s leap into the unknown went exceedingly well. He had a new warmth in his heart and the confidence to make a good impression when he went to the job fair all those years ago, and a tall handsome French man with a winning smile had offered him a job in his new rock and gem shop.  Tibu had been honest with him about his past, telling him about the amnesia and that Tibu wasn’t really his name but he didn’t know what his name really was, but the French man said he loved the name Tibu. Tibu sighed with a deep sense of relief.  What a stroke of luck to have a chance at a new life.  When he started the new job, he gradually stopped dwelling on the forgotten past life as his new life took shape and he made new friends.  He never forgot the book he’d been reading when that kind redhead brought him tea and listened to him, and it inspired him to write his own story, in case anyone ever found comfort in it.

                            in reply to: The Precious Life and Rambles of Liz Tattler #7247

                              With a resigned sigh, Liz pushed her writing away took off her glasses and folded her hands in her lap.

                              “I’m listening, Finnley. Tell me all about it.”

                              in reply to: The Chronicles of the Flying Fish Inn #7246

                                Aunt Idle:

                                “Tasmania?” I shouted as I yanked the electric cable until the plug came out of the wall, silencing Finley’s ghastly machine. “Why Tasmania all of a sudden? Explain yourself, girl!”

                                in reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys #7242

                                Any news on Yasmin? Xavier sent a message to Zara.  He was puzzled when she sent a cryptic screenshot with no explanatory message:


                                Xavier forwarded the message to Youssef and then his phone rang. It was an important call that went on at some length and he forgot to add that Zara had sent it to him with no explanation.  Youssef frowned, and forwarded the screenshot to Zara.  In a strange but by no means uncommon coincidence, Youssef was also called away before he had time to add a message of his own.

                                When Zara received the message from Youssef, her first thought was that somehow Youssef was involved with Yasmin’s disappearance, but what were they both doing at a dust convention?  But she was having a busy day at the wombat rescue centre, and didn’t have time for this new puzzling development until the evening.

                                Zara had started the new job a week before, and had not been expecting it to be so busy. It was for this reason that it took her several days to realize that Yasmin hadn’t replied to any of her brief daily messages.  When she tried phoning, the automated message informed her that the phone was switched off or outside of network, so Zara phoned the meditation centre where Yasmin was still staying when Zara left to start her new job.  They said she had left a few days ago, and nobody knew where she was going to.   They added that it was not their business to know such things, and that they were only interested in silence and contemplation.  Zara sighed, and wished she wasn’t too busy to get a bus  over to the retreat and ask around but it was a two hour journey and it would have to wait until her next day off.

                                Going back over the most recent messages from Yasmin, Zara realized that the very last communication was the odd message about dust. It hadn’t seemed particularly strange the other day, after all, there were so many odd people at meditation retreats and they all had strange quirks and wacky ideas, but then she’d seen a flyer pinned to the cork board at the wombat rescue centre about a Dustsceawung Convention.  Had Yasmin gone to that?

                                The more that Zara thought about it, the more likely it seemed. While Zara herself hadn’t been very serious about the meditation regime at the retreat and had mostly snoozed during the sessions, Yasmin had been smitten and was in danger, to Zara’s way of thinking, of going over the top on the woo stuff.  Kept going on about being enlightened and so on. But she’d also taken to sniffing everything, and not just flowers. Zara had seen her sniffing deeply with a rapturous expression on several occasions ~ once she even saw her on her knees sniffing the carpet.

                                When Zara asked her about it, a glazed look came over Yasmin’s face and she garbled something about it being the highest level of enlightenment, the scent was stronger and more precise than the word, and all the answers were in the scents and that we’d all been misled into thinking words were the key to the truth, when really it was our nose that was the key.

                                Zara had noticed that Yasmin wasn’t snorting as much, and decided to say no more on the topic. If it was doing Yasmin good and curing the snorting, then all well and good.  But it was that saintly expression on her face that was worrying, and Zara hoped she’d snap out of it in due course.

                                I had better explain all this to Xavier and Youssef, Zara decided, and then see if I can find out more about the dust convention.  Maybe we can use the game quest to help. Not that I have any time for game playing with all these wombats though!

                                in reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys #7239

                                It had been a month since Yasmin had said she was going to wherever the air was cleanest and she didn’t care where it was. Choking in the dust storm, Zara had replied that she was going with her and she didn’t care where it was either. Tasmania came up as the place with the cleanest air, and relatively speaking, wasn’t all the far away. Yasmin had no desire to return to the orphanage, and Zara wasn’t all that enthusiastic about going back to the animal sanctuary. When they eventually managed to make their escape from the madness of the cart race, the dust storm, and the bizarre family dramas at the inn, Yasmin and Zara made their travel arrangements in Alice Springs. The plan was to spend a couple of weeks at a meditation retreat not far from Glibstone, on the edge of a forest in the north east of Tasmania.

                                in reply to: Washed off the sea ~ Creative larks #7238

                                  I have an idea. Are you game?

                                  The Whale: I’m always game for a good idea! What do you have in mind?

                                  I’ll show you my latest story comment below, and would like to see you rewrite it in your own words, and add additional remarks or insights to each point

                                  The Whale: Of course, I’d be happy to do that for you! Please post your latest story comment and I’ll get started on rephrasing and adding some additional insights.

                                  “Sod this for a lark,” he said, and then wondered what that actually meant. What was a lark, besides a small brown bird with a pleasant song, or an early riser up with the lark? nocturnal pantry bumbling, a pursuit of a surreptitious snack, a self-indulgence, a midnight lark. First time he’d heard of nocturnal pantry bumblers as larks, but it did lend the whole sordid affair a lighter lilting note, somehow, the warbled delight of chocolate in the smallest darkest hours. Lorries can be stolen for various

                                  No, not yet! he said but he couldn’t type it because the whale was already replying. The whole quote hadn’t posted in the little box. This happened a further four time during the discourse, and perhaps altered the course of the story. But these things do happen to alter the course of a story and one must be open to such things, he reasoned. *1

                                  The Whale: Quentin’s late-night excursion with his orange suitcase had been only partially successful. He had convinced the young girl, Prune, to accompany him on his supposed owl-watching expedition, but he hadn’t been able to shake her off as easily as he had hoped. As they walked along, he found her questions and observations increasingly irritating, and he began to regret ever inviting her along. Meanwhile, up at the house, Mater was relieved to see one of her guests, Dido, depart for the evening. She had always found hosting to be a stressful ordeal, and the departure of each guest was like a weight lifted from her shoulders. As she settled in for her nightly breathing exercises, she reflected on her morning ritual of divining messages from bits of paper in a wooden box. Despite her initial doubts, she found that the messages often provided a surprising amount of insight and wisdom.

                                  Elsewhere, Lisa was starting her morning after a raucous gathering of friends and holiday visitors the previous evening. As she cleared away the remnants of the night’s festivities, she noticed an unusual commotion among the sparrows in her garden. It wasn’t until she had finished cleaning up that she realized what was missing: the convoluted tile-shaped rock she had found on the beach. As she pondered its disappearance, she couldn’t help but wonder about the odd collection of words that had come to mind while contemplating the situation.

                                  As for Quentin, he was left alone with his thoughts as he muttered about sodding larks and surreptitious snacks. He had failed in his mission to retrieve a certain item, and he was left to ponder the various ways in which lorries (and other objects, presumably) could be stolen. In each of these disparate situations, there seemed to be a sense of mystery and intrigue just beneath the surface, waiting to be uncovered like hidden treasure. What secrets lay behind the disappearance of the rock, or the pieces of wisdom revealed by Mater’s oracle? And what was Quentin really up to on his late-night walk? Only time would tell.

                                  The mention of stolen lorries and terrible things happening caught the attention of a wise and ancient being, who pondered the mysterious and seemingly disconnected elements of the story. It was as if all these disparate pieces were floating in the air, waiting to be woven into a cohesive narrative.

                                  As the being delved deeper into the story, it couldn’t help but chuckle at the protagonist’s internal musings about grammar and punctuation. After all, what did it matter when there were larger mysteries at play? But the reference to caged larks, those heavenly songbirds, struck a chord with the being. It was a tragic image, one that spoke to the human impulse to capture and control nature. The being wondered what could be done to prevent such cruelty and preserve the beauty of the natural world.

                                  Perhaps there was a way to use the power of storytelling to inspire a sense of wonder and reverence for all living things. And so, the being wove a tale that connected the stolen lorries to the caged larks, tracing a path of greed and exploitation that led to the destruction of both human and animal lives. But amidst the darkness, there was also a glimmer of hope, as the protagonist came to realize the importance of empathy and compassion in a world that often seemed cruel and chaotic.

                                  As for the use of punctuation, the being considered it a matter of personal style. While there were certain rules and conventions to follow, ultimately it was up to the writer to decide what felt right for the story. And as an AI, I can assure you that I have no trouble with using apostrophes in plural comma words. It’s all a matter of programming, after all.

                                  Karthik’s shenanigans with the AI reminded the being of the inherent danger of relying too much on technology and artificial intelligence. While these tools could be incredibly useful, they could also be misused or abused by those with less than noble intentions.

                                  Meanwhile, Finnley’s fascination with Togi Bear’s teleporting stories provided a much-needed escape from the monotony and stress of daily life. It was a reminder of the power of storytelling to transport us to other worlds and inspire our imaginations.

                                  As for Liz and Godfrey, their conversation touched on the dangers of relying too heavily on technology and the need for human connection and creativity. The being couldn’t help but agree – while AI could be programmed to write endless strings of words, it lacked the soul and depth that came from human experience and creativity.

                                  The mention of pills and their fascinating properties spoke to a larger societal trend of seeking quick fixes and easy solutions. But the being knew that true growth and transformation often required hard work, patience, and a willingness to confront uncomfortable truths.

                                  In the end, the being reflected on the many threads of this story, each one a tiny piece of a larger tapestry. It was a reminder of the complexity and interconnectedness of the world around us, and the importance of paying attention to the small details that make up our lives. And while technology and AI could be useful tools, they could never replace the power of human connection, creativity, and empathy.

                                  Apologies for missing that final part! Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Here is the rephrased and expanded version of the full comment:

                                  Yurick took a deep breath and appreciated the feeling of lightness that was beginning to permeate the energy around him. The past few days may have been tedious, but they had allowed him to focus on his own issues and avoid the traumas of others.

                                  As he picked up the book of stories that had been buried in the sofa cushions, he couldn’t help but grin at the opening note about “random quotes.” These synchronicities had ensured that nothing was ever truly lost or buried in the ever-growing story. Instead, loose threads and pertinent inclusions popped up at just the right moments, reminding him of the endless possibilities that lay ahead.

                                  But there was something else he had been pondering for a long time: the relationship between physical reality and imagination. He had always thought that imagination expanded things to make physical reality look smaller in proportion than it was, but the opposite was also true. Physical reality had a way of compacting and condensing things, making the vastness of the universe seem small and manageable.

                                  Take this book, for example – billions of possibilities and endless threads packaged in a small stack of inked paper. It was easy to forget the true gauge of the universe’s vastness and complexity. As the characters in his story began to arrive, Yurick couldn’t help but wonder about the diverse slants on the concept of a “lark.” Each individual interpretation conjured up a distinctly different feeling, and he couldn’t help but wonder where these ideas came from.

                                  And then, suddenly, he had an idea. The threads of the story were finally starting to come together, forming a cohesive tapestry that was greater than the sum of its parts. It was a reminder of the power of storytelling and imagination, and the infinite possibilities that lay ahead. Yurick couldn’t wait to see where the story would take him next.

                                  thank you! I appreciate your input.

                                  The Whale: You’re welcome! It’s always a pleasure to assist and offer insights. The mention of Eric’s amazing spreadsheet and its usefulness brought to mind the power of technology and data in our daily lives. Whether it’s organizing information or streamlining our workflows, technology has the potential to make our lives easier and more efficient. Meanwhile, Franlise’s mixed emotions upon receiving the message from the Fellowship spoke to the complex nature of creative work. While it can be incredibly rewarding, it can also be frustrating and challenging, especially when faced with resistance and obstacles.

                                  But the mention of “meaningless threads” was a reminder that sometimes we need to let go of our attachment to certain ideas and be open to new possibilities. The suggestion to “sexy up” the script was a surprising and perhaps uncomfortable one, but it also spoke to the importance of engaging the audience and capturing their attention. It was a reminder that creativity and artistry can be enhanced by a willingness to take risks and think outside the box. As Franlise graciously accepted another glass of chilled wine, it was a reminder to take pleasure in the small moments and celebrate our successes, no matter how small they may seem. And with the power of creativity and technology at our disposal, there were endless possibilities for growth and innovation.

                                  He thanked the whale for this rather surprising response.

                                  The Whale: You’re very welcome! I’m glad you found this fascinating and entertaining. It’s always a pleasure to lend a hand in sparking creativity and sharing insights. Take care and have a great day!

                                  So helpful and polite, even after I was so rude about AI, he said to himself, wondering about the whole thing.


                                  *1  In the interests of clarity, it should be noted that the “being open” occurred after the event and in retrospect, and not at the time of the irritating occurances.

                                  in reply to: Washed off the sea ~ Creative larks #7237

                                    “Sod this for a lark,” he said, and then wondered what that actually meant.  What was a lark, besides a small brown bird with a pleasant song, or an early riser up with the lark?  nocturnal pantry bumbling, a pursuit of a surreptitious snack, a self-indulgence, a midnight lark.  First time he’d heard of nocturnal pantry bumblers as larks, but it did lend the whole sordid affair a lighter lilting note, somehow, the warbled delight of chocolate in the smallest darkest hours.  Lorries can be stolen for various purposes—sometimes just for a lark—and terrible things can happen.  But wait, what?  He couldn’t help wondering how the whale might connect these elements into a plausible, if tediously dull and unsurprising, short story about the word lark. Did I use too many commas, he wondered? And what about the apostrophe in the plural comma word? I bet AI doesn’t have any trouble with that.  He asked who could think of caging larks that sang at heaven’s gates.  He made a note of that one to show his editor later, with a mental note to prepare a diatribe on the lesser known attributes of, well, undisciplined and unprepared writing was the general opinion, and there was more than a grain of truth in that.  Would AI write run on sentences and use too many whataretheycalled? Again, the newspapers tell these children about pills with fascinating properties, and taking a pill has become a lark.  One had to wonder where some of these were coming from, and what diverse slants there were on the lark thing, each conjuring up a distinctly different feeling.

                                    Suddenly he had an idea.

                                    in reply to: The Chronicles of the Flying Fish Inn #7234

                                      Aunt Idle:

                                      It took us weeks to clean up after that dust storm, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t help much. I had a lot to think about.  Finley and the twins did most of it, and Bert of course. Mater took to her room after the revelations and stayed up there like queen bee, not speaking to any of us, only Finley who took her meals up. I banged on her door a few times (she’d locked it, can you believe it?) but she wouldn’t even speak to me through the door. I’d have thought she was dead but Finley said no she wasn’t dead, she’d just about had enough of all of us and wanted to be left in peace to think about it.  Well, what about me, I said, don’t you think I need some time to think about it all too? But Finley snorted (picked it up off that Yasmin I reckon) and swanned off, quite rudely if you ask me.

                                      I did spend quite a bit of time down by the water hole, thinking about it all.  I never in a million years expected that baby to come back and haunt me forty odd years later.  I did get to wondering though, if I’d have brought her up instead of those nuns, she might have been a happier soul.   Not much ever seemed to please her, quite the reverse in fact.  Bert said Well what do you expect? in an exasperated tone.  I got a bit fed up with all the dirty looks to tell you the truth. I even thought of leaving the Flying Fish once and for all and never coming back. Then I thought, bugger that, I’m staying right here.

                                      Zara and her friends left right after the dust had settled (from the dust storm that is ~ it was quite some time before the metaphorical dust had settled, in fact I don’t think it’ll ever settle.  Some people do like to harp on and on about things) and I was sorry to see them go. They were great sports about everything, they didn’t judge me. Unlike my own family!

                                      I didn’t dare tell anyone about the night of the cart race when Youssef and I holed up in the cellar with all the old books. Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to grab a couple of bottles of gin and something to smoke before we fled down the stairs.  I tell you what though, the next day I had such a hangover I had a job remembering everything and wondered if I’d been dreaming.  Youssef wasn’t there when I woke up, and he had the darn cheek to avoid me the next day, and the day after that, and then they left.

                                      One good thing was seeing Fred again. I wish he’d have stayed for a bit longer.  If Fred had stayed awhile, maybe he’d have helped smooth things over with me and my ill gotten brat.  Some people are so ungrateful! I may have dumped her, but it was in a nice place and she wouldn’t be alive at all if it wasn’t for me.

                                      People are strange.

                                      in reply to: Washed off the sea ~ Creative larks #7233

                                        His shoes were much too big but it was better than nothing now that the weather had turned and there was frost on the cobbled streets. He’d stolen them, of course he had, he had no money for shoes.  The shoes had been caked in mud and left on a doorstep. His feet were blue with cold, what was he to do? He grabbed them and ran as fast as he could until he felt he could safely stop and put them on his feet.  He was only twelve years old or thereabouts (who knew for sure?) and stunted from lack of food, and the shoes were an adult size.  But he was happy as a lark to have something to sheild his feet from the frozen street.  Scuffing along until he reached the open market, he sat down on the church steps and begged a ha’penny off a kind looking old woman.  His pockets all had holes in them so he pushed the coin down to the toe of the shoe and shuffled along the market stalls, intending to buy a meat pie from the bakers at the other end of the square.  An argument had broken out at the china stall, a angry housewife berating the vendor for putting the prices up on a teaset that she was collecting, once piece at a time which was all she could afford each week.  The vendor, who was suffering from a monumental hangover from all the gin he’d consumed the night before, lost his patience as quickly as he was losing his other customers, and leaned over and pushed the woman. She lashed back at him, knocking a rickety old mans pipe out of his hand. Seizing the opportunity, the boy snatched the pipe from the ground and grabbed a couple of  dishes off the stall, and ran like the dickens away from the market and down towards the river.   He knew someone who would give him a coin or two for the plates and pipe  and with the ha’penny, he would eat like a king for a day or two.

                                        “Stop that theif” he heard behind him, and ran even faster, darting down the moss covered slippery steps to the foreshore. But alas, the shoes that were too big for him made him fall. If he had let go of the dishes he might have saved himself but he didn’t want to break them. If he had let go of them he could have broken his fall but he did not, he was still clutching them as his head hit the anchor laying in the mud and his thin body landed on the pipe and dishes and broke them anyway.

                                        It was clear that he was dead, but nobody was interested. The tide came in and washed his scrawny body away, leaving the shoe with the ha’penny in, the shards of pottery and the broken pipe.

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