Burntwood Family History Group
   Home      Journal 2018 04-06 Volume 26 Number 2
Extracts from Burntwood Family History Group Journal
 
 
 
 
 
April - June 2018
 
 
 
 
Vol 26.2
 
Contents of this issue.
 
 
View From the Chair 1
You Know You’re a Genealogist When ... 2
Education in Hammerwich in the Mid-18th Century 3
Family History: My 20-year Addiction 4
My Family Mystery 7
Reviews of Talks by Guest Speakers    
    Short Talks by Members: John Catliff and Mike Jennings 8
    Richard Stone on ‘Richard III’ 10
A Soldier’s South African Diary 14
Death Can Be Surprising! 16
Remembering My Grandpa 17
This Issue's Cover Photograph 18
Interesting Days 19

View From the Chair

How time flies, as it doesn’t seem five minutes since I wrote my last ‘view’. So far this year we have had some great talks, organised by Jane. We kicked off with the Lichfield and Hatherton restoration trust, which I found fascinating, and February was another visit by our favourite town crier – this time in other hats But the evening that sticks in my mind was March 12th, when our speaker Judy Hubble, who was going to talk to us about Patrick Lichfield, didn’t turn up. This was the night of the ‘beast from the east’ and the weather was awful, so we were getting increasingly concerned for Judy as time went on. Mike Jennings had been telling me for some time that he had a ten minute talk ready to fill a gap if ever one should arise ... and this was that moment. So Mike stood up and gave us a very interesting talk about research he had done, and this inspired John Catliff to volunteer to talk about his research. Again interesting, but I missed most of it as I was taking a lengthy phone call from our missing speaker who couldn’t get to us, in spite of several diversions, because of flooding. Both of these talks went down really well, and John included a list sources for research that we all found interesting. By the end of the evening, the consensus was that this was actually a good basis for an evening, and we could perhaps plan a night of short talks by a few of our members telling us of their findings from research. So please let us know if you have a short talk in you – you never know, it might come in handy. We have also made progress booking our next trip to France, as we are off again in October, this time to visit ‘the Crimson coast’, again with Leger Holidays, as we had such a fantastic time last year. Helen Bratton, Chair, BFHG, 2017–2018

You Know You’re a Genealogist When ...

> You are more interested in what happened in 1818 than in 2018.
> Many family albums are filled with photos of ancestors.
> You know more about your ancestors than your oldest relatives who actually knew them.
> Your doctor asks about your family background and you reply, “How many generations back?”
> A family holiday is going to visit an ancestor’s home town.
> A perfect holiday includes trips to cemeteries, archives and libraries.
> When you meet new people the first thing you ask is where their ancestors are from.
> You know your great-great-grandmother’s date of birth.
> You write today’s date as 1718, not 2018.
> If you could have any tech gadget, it would be a time machine to go back and meet your ancestors.
> You would rather read census schedules than a good book.
> You thrive on finding an old family heirloom and learning about its history.
*
Education in Hammerwich in the Mid-18th Century by Barbara Williams

In the mid-18th century, the inhabitants of Hammerwich complained, in a petition to Lord Uxbridge, that they had been ‘for a long time’ quite destitute of a schoolmaster. The implication is that they had once had a school. For lack of one, their children were obliged to go to Lichfield for schooling, with resulting expense and ‘variety of inconveniences’. The inhabitants therefore resolved to build a schoolhouse, and they asked Lord Uxbridge to allow them to enclose 19 acres of waste near Pipehill as an endowment for the school. He presumably refused, since nothing more was heard of the project and, when Elizabeth Ball built a charity school at Burntwood in 1769, she stipulated that Hammerwich children were to be eligible to attend. Until the mid-19th century, it remained the only local school for poor children. After its closure in 1878, the rector of Hammerwich received an annual payment, fixed at £8.00 in 1903, from its endowment income for his day and Sunday schools. Ann Willington of Pipehill (d. 1841), the owner of Hammerwich Hall, left the interest from £50.00 for the support of a Sunday school at Hammerwich. The school had 27 pupils in 1846–7. A Church day school had been established by 1857, in a small room behind a building – later the Post Office – east of Mill Lane. Earlier, in the 1860s, a mistress was teaching approximately 40 pupils. In 1863, the incumbent, Robert Gordon, built a schoolroom at Triangle for about 50 infants, with a mistress house attached. For several years, the church continued to support the two schools, each under a mistress, and the combined attendance averaged around 70. In 1869 or 1870, the Triangle school apparently became a private-adventure dame school, perhaps in 1869, when several children were moved to the Colliery school in Chasetown. Taken from A History of Burntwood, Hammerwich and Wall, by M.W. Greenslade and N.J. Tringham. Available from Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service.
 
Family History: My 20-year Addiction by Kaye Penny

I have been doing my family’s ancestral history since 1998, when I expected it to take me a few months. As anyone who has ever studied genealogy or their ancestry will know, it is literally a lifetime’s work. I include anyone in my ancestry, regardless of the surnames of the people involved, whereas some male researchers seem only interested in any ancestors and relatives that share their surname, at least when they first start their research, if not forever. This could be said of my late father-in-law who didn’t consider anyone to be a relative of his unless they bore his surname – Christian. He never seemed to realise that for every married male Christian in his family tree there must be a poor overlooked female ancestor who, more than likely, was not born a Christian but had to change her name to that upon marriage. Similarly, married female Christian family members in his family tree who would have taken their husbands’ names, and any offspring bearing his name, were also ignored. I suppose this preoccupation with their own surname also explains why so many men want a son in order to continue the family name. Men have it so simple – they never have to change their surnames like us women do. But then, many men tend to have a more simplistic view of the world and what’s important, so maybe it’s just as well that life doesn’t have to get too complicated for most of them. Of course, some modern women don’t change their name on marriage any more with many merely adding their husband’s surname somewhere in the run of the name they were born with. I say somewhere a hubby’s name could be added before the bride’s own surname, like a middle name, or maybe hyphenated and preceding their birth surname. The third option, could be to keep their original name in the middle and append hubby’s at the end, hyphenated or not. Whether or not to hyphenate? A difficult decision which could cause confusion, as the husband might find his important papers filed in, say, the Ws if his name is White, but his wife could be folders and folders away, say, in the Bs if she kept her birth surname of, say Blacken, preceding and forever (well, at least until she divorces him) attached by a hyphen, as in Blacken-White. I mean, how on earth is correspondence to this couple going to be addressed: Mr White and Mrs Blacken-White? Are these people married or not? It should be clear if it’s in black and white. I wonder, would their children be named Grey? Not the same thing, but I did try to buck the trend of ‘Mr and Mrs’ once by opening a bank account with my married name first, followed by my husband’s, with only one bank ever allowing the audacity of putting myself before my arguably ‘better’ half. Problems often arose when completing forms, in that they didn’t provide for my name to go before hubby’s when giving the bank account name.

The importance of being Kaye (with an ‘e’) You may wonder why I’m so concerned about filing, but confusion with the location of paperwork is something I’ve lived with all my life and, often, important documents have gone missing. I was born in a small village in Cheshire in 1952, and registered with the surname Penny (my father’s surname), and christened Kaye, with the unexpected ‘e’ at the end. If you don’t find my ramblings too tedious, and manage to read, on you will discover that my surname should never officially have been Penny at all, but Clayton, due to a couple in my ancestry who never married. My concern earlier with man and wife being filed separately and possibly far apart stems from having a name that is more readily accepted by strangers in its reverse order, a problem caused by Penny also being a Christian name and being compounded by the ‘e’ added to my first name, Kaye, which is also a surname. If only the extra ‘e’ had been in Penny, i.e. Penney, instead of Kaye, then maybe the problem would never have arisen, with Kay Penney being more clearly the right way round than Kaye Penny ever was. Some of my indirect ancestors did spell the name Penney in the days when spelling and writing were skills less widely known than in the present day. When I accepted a proposal to marry in my early 20s, the last thing on my mind was filing. However, I should have been aware that on marrying Mr Samuels, my name would now become Kaye Samuels. No problem, you’d think, but you’d be wrong, for now just too many people now read my name as Samuel Kaye. Far too many for comfort! Some members of his family actually spelled the surname Samuel, without the second ‘s’, but even with two of that consonant in my surname, it was still being read as Samuel, not Samuels. When I finally legally vacated the name of Samuels, you would think I’d have carefully vetted the surnames of prospective suitors as closely as I vetted their nature, honesty, reliability, etc. – all the attributes my second husband would have to pass muster on a mental tick-list before I’d risk re-marrying. No, this time I lumbered myself with the name Kaye Christian. And, yes, there I found myself constantly filed under the ‘Ks’. At least with my birth name, when I arrived in person, either way it had been read, at least they were expecting a female visitor. With these two surnames I would be more likely met with vacant looks when they called my name and saw a female responding, expecting a Samuel Kaye or a Christian Kaye. With my most recent surname, when the appointment is in a totally female environment involving bits of anatomy that men don’t have, I have to respond to the call of Christine Kaye. You’d think there’d be a 50/50 chance of my three unfortunate names being read the correct way round but, in truth, they have probably been used the right way about 20% of the time. Marriage to my earlier boyfriends would have borne similar problems, with their surnames being Daniels and Roberts. Maybe I should have searched for a Mr Kaye as a suitable suitor – my name could not be wrongly transposed if I were called Mrs Kaye Kaye.

Those who already know something about the origins of surnames will probably already be aware that there a great number of surnames that derive from male Christian names, and they are termed ‘patronymic’. In countries like Iceland, children are still named to include their father’s (or less often, their mother’s) first name – such as Magnus Magnusson (Magnus, son of Magnus), or Alisa Jonsdottir (Alisa, daughter of Jon). Before I was aware of the Icelandic custom, whenever I saw Magnus Magnusson firing the questions on Mastermind, I used to think his parents must have been short of imagination when naming him. In fact, Iceland’s telephone directory is alphabetically listed by first name, with any further clarification, should there be more than one Magnus Magnusson, being made by where they live or what their occupation is. Rather like the UK’s ancient system before surnames were common, where people would be named something like John, the Taylor, or Joseph of Bredbury. Of course, many early British names were also based on father’s names (patronymic), such as John Johnson (John, son of John), with a fourth type of surname deriving from a nickname, face, figure, temper, morals, or habits, such as Robert Redhead, or even the much more unflattering Robert Kennedy, which apparently is Gaelic for ‘ugly head’. I always wondered why my name was spelt Kaye with the added ‘e’, and often asked my Mum. She used to respond very vaguely saying that she just thought it would be different, but said in a way that made me think she’d never really considered it herself. She was also very vague about the circumstances surrounding my birth, and could never tell me the time of day, who was there or whether I arrived quickly or over a prolonged period. This all led me to believe that I just might be adopted, and that she didn’t either name me or give birth to me. I only had a short form birth certificate, which did not give parents’ names, so the first job on my agenda when I started my family tree was to apply for a full birth certificate. There in black, red and white were the names of the two people who had brought me up – my dear Mum and Dad. Having said that, birth certificates don’t always tell the truth, with couples sometimes acquiring children through non-official means and stating themselves as parents at the child’s registration. The positive identification of my parents was eventually proved when I had a DNA test and myself, my nephew and my first cousin all made the matches expected from such blood relations. As for my given name, Kaye (with the ‘e’ don’t forget), it continues to be rare, although I have made contact with a distant cousin in Australia who shares my name and is about my age. She has a theory that mothers in the 1950s were naming their daughters Kaye after the actor Danny Kaye, with his popular musical film Hans Christian Andersen being released in 1952, the year I was born. If that is true, then I have yet to meet all the other Kayes who are around my age.

My Family Mystery by Jane Leake, née Darnell

When World War II broke out, my father, Edwin Darnell, was working in a small engineering business that had been started by his father, Thomas, in the 1930s. I don’t know much about what they produced, but that they made tubular steel frames for bus seats and were involved in the making of the beautiful wrought iron gates at the entrance to the Memorial Gardens at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. In 1938, he was 41 years old, so too old to be called up for army service. He joined the Home Guard and was often out all night fire-watching, as we lived near to a large Boots Pharmaceutical factory and Ericssons, who made all sorts of communications equipment necessary for the war effort. Things changed in about 1942, when he went to work in London. When people enquired what he was doing, my mother would just say that he was involved in doing ‘war work’. I was just a small child, so do not know much about what was happening at that time. However, my mother and I went to stay with him several times. He was working for a company called Tungsten Metalworks, which was situated on the Slough Trading Estate, and he lived in a rented house in Gray’s Place. The owners had gone to live elsewhere for the duration of the war, so we were able to stay with him on several occasions, which I loved. I have a photograph of my father and five other people who worked with him. There is the manager, Mr. Lipinsky, his secretary, two men in overalls and another two, one of whom was my father, semi-smartly dressed. Behind them was a plaque with the name of the firm. I think the clue might be in the name, as tungsten is a very hard metal and is still used in the making of weapons today. I have often wondered what was happening there and, in more recent years, I made contact with Slough Trading Estate management to see if anyone could find out for me. Unfortunately, nothing has come to light, as no trace of the firm was found in their records. At the end of the war, my father continued to work there until about 1948, when he came home for good. However I have also written to the Archives Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, and this is an excerpt from the reply received from a senior archivist: ‘I have found nothing on the company that your father worked for. It was listed in the Kelly’s Directory for 1939, and that states that the factory was an alloys manufacturer. It could be that the company was on the ‘secret list’, like High Duty Alloys. I know there were a number of factories on the Trading Estate that were but have been unable to find a list of those on it, but I am still trying!’ She went on to suggest other lines of enquiry I might undertake when next I go to London to the National Archives. I still think there is a story to unearth! How I wish I had asked more questions before it was too late!

Reviews of Talks by Guest Speakers

March 2018: Short Talks by Members


Judy Hubble, who had set out to give a talk about Patrick Lichfield, was prevented from completing her journey to us. Sudden floods meant that she was compelled to return home. We will re-book her for next year. We thanked Mike Jennings and John Catliff who stepped into the breach and gave us interesting talks about their research.

John Catliff

John hoped that listening to how he began his research into his family would encourage new members and give them some pointers as to how they can obtain information. He admits that his surname is quite unusual, which does help. However, when he became interested in family history in the early 1980s and asked his father about it, the reply was that they were they only people left in their family! At the time, his grandmother was living with them, but John regrets that she was not quizzed about ancestors. She came from Birmingham and had lived in one of the back-to-back houses. One day, when he was fifteen, he came into contact with someone pushing twins in a pram. It turned out that the babies were cousins he had known nothing about until then. He was told that their father was a Harley Street doctor called Catliff. On the 1939, census this man was recorded as a ‘journeyman’. A Catliff ancestor had been a trader who travelled to India on the clippers. He lived in Calcutta and returned to England in 1870. His wife died in childbirth and he re-married after six months. John has been able to trace many relatives, or has been contacted through the internet by those with the Catliff name, some living in other countries. One ancestor had been a wealthy shopkeeper in Nottingham who, when retiring, went to live in Kent, where he died in 1870. His widow then travelled to Russia as a nanny to the Tsar’s family and, while there, sat at the same table as Queen Victoria. John has been able to trace her there until 1911 but not beyond that. John stressed that there are a number of family history sites on the internet which cost nothing to use. Why pay a large subscription when the same information can be accessed for free, or for only a small charge? John is going to make a list of the most useful sites he has used, and these will be published in the Journal.

Mike Jennings: Old Wives’ Tales Revisited with New Twists

Thirty years ago, I answered an advertisement in the Hereford Times, looking for information about the Arnold family. This led to a meeting with a cousin who lived in Essex. She told me many stories of the Arnold family and the Blossett families that I had not heard before, but she had no documents to substantiate her information. Were her stories just ‘old wives tales’? From this beginning, however, I was able to trace the Arnold family at Hereford back to the early 1800s. I have also been able to trace my Blossett family, who were Huguenots, to the early 1600s. Someone with the name Blossett is mentioned in records as early as the mid-16th century, but l cannot prove a direct connection. This research has taken me thirty years and has taken me on many visits to the PRO at Kew and the Society of Genealogists in London, as well as contacting army museums around the country. One of my most colourful ancestors was my 3x grandfather John Blossett. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1778, and joined the 37th Hampshire regiment as an ensign in 1794. He had been recommended, so did not have to purchase his commission. His British Army career covered 27 years and nine regiments, until he retired in 1816 with the rank of Brevet-Major in the 5th West India Regiment. His service took him to North America, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and North Africa, as well as Britain. He took part in the Helder campaign in Holland in 1799, and the Battle of the Pyramids in 1801. During the capture of Guadeloupe in 1810, he sustained an injury. After he returned to duty, he took part in the Battle of New Orleans (1814/1815). After some tenacious research, I found that, while stationed in Gibraltar, he married Elizabeth Ashton, a Gibraltarian, in Kings Chapel there on 17th September, 1805. She was 14½ at the time. Five surviving children were born between 1808 and 1820. His son, Thomas Eyre Blossett, my 2x grandfather, was born in 1814 at Cumberland Fort, Portsea, Hampshire. After retiring from the British Army in 1816, he was granted a commission as a colonel by Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan military and political leader. This took him to South America, where he commanded a British Expeditionary Force harrying the Spanish. In 1821, he was killed in a duel with another officer in Angostura, Venezuela, a town on the banks of the Orinoco River. Angostura was renamed Ciudad Bolivar (Bolivar City), and is the Venezuelan capital. There is a road there named after John Blossett (Calle Blossett). I have not found out if he was buried in Venezuela, but his wife returned to England between 1808 and 1820. She is recorded as living with her son in England on the 1850 census. The stories about my 2x great grandfather, as well as the family connection to Tyrone Power, the American film star, will have to wait for another time.

April 2018: Richard Stone on ‘Richard III, the Car Park, and the Princes in the Tower – Guilty or not guilty; You decide’

We look forward to Richard Stone’s talks, and the full house at this month’s meeting bore witness to this. Everyone has an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of Richard in regard to the disappearance, and possible murder of Edward and Richard, AKA ‘the Princes in the Tower’. Richard Stone tried to be even-handed in setting out the known facts.

He began by projecting four pictures; a painting of Richard dating from the 15th century; a photograph of the ruins of Richard’s childhood home, Middleham Castle in Yorkshire; the 19th century painting by Millais of the Princes in the Tower; and a 15th century painting of Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward 1V, a renowned beauty of the day and already a widow before her marriage to Edward. After handing out a simplified family tree of the descendants of Edward III, showing the division of the Plantagenet line into the houses of Lancaster and York, Richard set out a chain of events which led to the death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, and the crowning of Henry Tudor as Henry VII. The Wars of the Roses was a series of battles between the Houses of Lancaster and York dating from 1455 during the reign of Lancastrian Henry VI. Edward IV of York was crowned King in March 1461, and he reigned first until October 1470, then regained the throne in April 1471, this second period lasting until his death in April 1483. At Easter of that year, Edward fell fatally ill, but survived long enough to add codicils to his will naming his youngest brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester as protector of his young sons Edward aged 12 and Richard. The Duke had been loyal to his eldest brother and had equipped himself with honour in battle from a young age. His administration of the north of England during Edward’s reign had been competent. When he heard of Edward’s death, he was at Middleham Castle. This castle had belonged to the Earl of Warwick of the Neville family, and was where Richard had spent his childhood. The house and land had been given to Richard by Edward after Warwick’s defeat in battle Barnet. Relations between Edward and Warwick had deteriorated after the clandestine marriage of Edward to Elizabeth Woodville. Warwick switched support to Henry VI and the Lancastrian cause, culminating with his death at the Battle of Barnet in April 1471. Richard married Anne, Warwick’s younger daughter. Previously in 1470, age 14, she had been married to Henry VI son, Edward, Prince of Wales. He died during the battle of Tewksbury in May 1471, leaving Anne a widow. Anne and Richard’s only child, Edward, was born at Middleham. The news of Edward IV’s death reached Richard at Middleham around 15th April 1483. The king’s funeral took place and he was buried at Windsor on 19th April. On the 21st, Gloucester held a funeral service for Edward at York then, together with his entourage, set out towards London on 23rd April. Edward V had been receiving his education at Ludlow under the tutorage of his maternal uncle Anthony, Lord Rivers. They, too, set out for London. The two parties planned to meet up at Northampton on 29th April. What happened at the meeting is not known, but Rivers, Vaughan and Grey, who were escorting the young king, were arrested the following day. On 1st May, the Queen fled with her children to sanctuary in Westminster Abbey. Gloucester, Edward and 500 men arrived in London on 4th May, where they were greeted by the Mayor, Aldermen, and a happy crowd. Edward was lodged in the Tower of London, then a royal residence, to await his coronation.

On 10th June, the coronation was delayed until 24th June and, on 13th June, writs for a parliament to be convened on 25th June were issued in Edward’s name. Around this time, the Bishop of Bath and Wells presented a case that Edward IV had been previously contracted to marry Eleanor Butler. The law at that time meant that a contract was as legally binding as a marriage. This would mean that Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was bigamous, and their children Edward and Richard illegitimate. On 16th June, the young Prince Richard joined his brother in his apartments in the Tower. In the second half of June, the Princes’ attendants were barred from access to them. On the 19th June, the coronation was postponed yet again until 9th November. Between 22nd and 29th June, there were speeches and a sermon claiming the princes’ illegitimacy and putting forward Richard of Gloucester as the only legitimate heir. On 6th July 1483, the lavish Coronation of Richard III and his wife Anne took place in Westminster Abbey. There were no reported sightings of the two princes playing in the Tower gardens after August. The laws which Richard instigated in his short and turbulent reign were workmanlike and pragmatic. During the first few months, he put down a rebellion by his erstwhile ally the Duke of Buckingham, trying to further the cause of Henry Tudor. This plot may have been instigated by the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, and her lady-in-waiting Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry Tudor. On Christmas Day 1483, Henry Tudor made a declaration in France that should he ever become king, he would marry Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. In April 1484, Richard’s son and heir Edward died at Middleham, probably of tuberculosis. At the time, Richard and his wife Anne were at Nottingham, and were reported as being distraught. Less than a year later, in March 1485, Anne herself died in London, possibly also of tuberculosis. In August 1485, Henry Tudor crossed the Channel from France with 2000 troops. They landed in Wales and, by the time the army had reached Shrewsbury, the numbers of soldiers had doubled. Henry was the son of Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor. Edmund Tudor was the son of Henry V’s widow, Catherine de Valois, and Owen Tudor. Henry was born three months after the death of his father. Margaret Beaufort was thirteen at the time of her son’s birth and, although she married twice more, she had no other children. With an army of about 10,000, Richard took up the high ground above Bosworth Field on 22nd August 1485. Adjacent to him were Thomas Stanley, husband of Margaret Beaufort, and his brother William, with a private army of about 6,000 men – ostensibly on Richard’s side but, at that time, taking no part. Neither one side nor the other seemed to gain the upper hand. Richard then led a charge towards Henry. Seeing this, Thomas Stanley joined forces with Henry Tudor, Richard’s horse foundered in marshy ground and Richard was struck down and killed. After death he was stripped, slung across a horse, paraded to Leicester and buried in the church of Greyfriars Priory. Henry claimed that he had won the crown fair and square at Bosworth. Richard was the last English King to die in battle, in the last battle of the Wars of the Roses.

Were Edward V and his brother murdered? Henry VII did not mention them nor their deaths, nor did he claim they were murdered by Richard or anyone else, and neither did their mother, Elizabeth Woodville. Sir Thomas Moore’s papers included a piece about Richard III written during the reign of Henry VIII. Sir Thomas Moore was around seven when King Richard was slain at Bosworth. He wrote about rumours circulating during Tudor times about Richard’s reign, Bones found under a staircase at the Tower during construction in 1674 were assumed be those of the two princes, but they may not have been. There have been other child bones found during work at the Tower, the most recent, in 1977, being carbon-dated as from the Iron Age. William Shakespeare’s play Richard III paints Richard as a consummate villain, and malformed, too. Shakespeare drew on the work by Sir Thomas Moore for his information, and made a very popular and oft-performed play. It has done wonders for Tudor positive publicity. Shakespeare cites Tyrell as the murderer of the ‘Princes in the Tower’, relying heavily on the gossip reported by Sir Thomas Moore. James Tyrell had been in the service of both Edward IV and Richard III, but was pardoned by Henry VII and returned to a post in France until 1503.He then became involved in a plot against King Henry to restore a Yorkist King. On his return to England, he was convicted of treason and executed in 1504. Moore claimed Tyrell confessed to the murder of the princes during his interrogation, and that it was ordered by King Richard. There are no records of such a confession. No other accounts of Tyrell’s trial written at that time mention that he confessed to murdering the princes. In September 2012 an archaeological dig in a car park in Leicester (the site of Greyfriars Priory church) uncovered a grave containing a single skeleton. Through DNA and forensic tests the body was found to be King Richard III. The body had been naked with hands tied at burial. King Richard had sustained several blows to the body during a fierce fight, until a fatal blow to the back of his head after his helmet had been dislodged. Blows and violations continued after death. King Richard was not hunchbacked, but had suffered from scoliosis, which usually develops after the age of ten. When clothed, the only indication would be that one shoulder would appear slightly raised. A facial reconstruction showed a likeness to the contemporary portraits, except that DNA finds that he would have had lighter hair and blue eyes. After much discussion, an appropriate funeral service for the last Plantagenet king took place at Leicester Cathedral on 25 March 2015, after a gun carriage carried the body from Bosworth to the Cathedral. This was followed by interment in the Cathedral. Three kings in this saga had tenuous claims to the throne – Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VII. During their reigns, they were not averse to executing enemies. Edward V and Richard his brother may have died around the time of their last sighting in the Tower. They may have been murdered, but by whom? Was it on behalf of Richard, Henry, or someone else – or did they survive? Why, if those princes were murdered, wasn’t Edward Plantagenet, son of George, the brother of both Edward IV and Richard III, killed at that time, too? We all love mysteries and conspiracy stories!

A Soldier’s South African Diary - Further extracts from the Boer War diary of Charles William Graddon - by Chris Graddon

My grandfather, Charles William Graddon, served his country as a career soldier in the Boer War and the Great War, steadily working his way up through the ranks. During his periods of service, Charles kept a personal day-by-day account of his experiences of those conflicts. We have previously presented extracts from those diaries telling of his journey to the Cape of Good Hope, through more diary extracts.

18 November 1899 (Saturday)

A scorching hot day, no air stirring, up at 6, does not seem any prospect of moving yet. Had my usual chapter, was asked in the tent what I was reading, I said the Bible. Had some cocoa for breakfast, what we bought was very nice. Not much to do today. Washed my khaki jacket this afternoon, does not look much better for it. Must write a few more lines to Rosie’s letter this afternoon. I am trusting, fully trusting, trusting in His word.

19 November 1899 (Sunday)

No church this morning so I went up to the Company office. After dinner went to Stellenbosch village, about 5 miles, it was very hot but I did not seem to mind the walk. On entering the village I overtook a Kaffir, well dressed, who was carrying a Bible; he sat down by the side of the road and I sat beside him and had a look at his Bible, which was printed in the Kaffir language. He told me he was a member of his church and I showed him my Bible and told him I was also a member. Farther on I made enquiries and found there was to be an English service in the Dutch church at 4 o’clock, so I attended. I was the only soldier there, the people were all white and all very well dressed, in fact better than I have seen in England. The choir sang an anthem and the airs of the hymns were quite familiar. The preacher took his text from the 14th chapter of John, “I am the way, the truth and the life”. I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt quite lifted up and was thinking of Rosie at home and how she was spending her Sabbath. We came from church at 5.20 and I asked a policeman outside where I could get a cup of tea, and found I could not get such a thing there as no place of any kind was open on a Sunday, but he invited me into his Barracks and I went with him and had the best tea since leaving home. After tea I went for a walk round the village, the prettiest place I have seen. All the streets are lined with large oak trees and sluits (South Africa term for a gully that has been formed by rain erosion) or streams of beautiful water running down each side, and the gardens in front of the houses are full of roses and other flowers. I wish Rose had been there to see some of the beauties. I also had a look into a Kaffir church while the service was going on but, as I did not understand it, I did not stay. I came home by train at 8.20 and got in camp by 9, very tired but thankful that God had blessed me and watched over me.

 
20 November 1899 (Monday)

Bennett and 36 men went off this morning to Cape Town and thence to De Aar. The weather is changing this morning, the sky is dull and is much cooler, as if rain was near. Posted a letter for Rosie, must write again today and give an account of how I spent my Sabbath, and so get a letter ready for posting by next Monday. By midday the sun came out warm again. Spent the morn and afternoon in the office tent at Company equipment accounts and as it is ½ past 4 I am beginning to look forward for tea time. RSM Mitchell joined the company yesterday and is staying in my tent. I saw by today’s paper that the mail is expected at the Cape on Wednesday next. I hope I shall have a letter from Rosie then. There is still no news of us moving here yet. I shall be glad to get away, farther up country; everything seems to point to troops being kept out here. I would not mind if Rosie and family were here too. It is dark now and I have nothing to do but turn in. I went out in the bush and had a chapter to myself, 17th John, and a few words with the Master which cheered me, otherwise I felt rather low in spirit.

21 November 1899 (Tuesday)

Up at 6 after a most refreshing sleep. A lovely morn – with a cool breeze; waiting for breakfast now and will have my usual chapter after. Just read the 32nd Psalm, and the promise “I will guide thee with mine eye”. The mail has arrived but no letter for me. I felt quite disappointed but I suppose Rosie did not know what address to write to. It is now ¼ to 12 and the sun is very hot; still no news of our moving from this place. Everything seems getting dried up here, although the flowers on the marshy ground are very abundant, and some of the birds I have seen are of beautiful colours. The frogs at night make noises like little fog horns and whistles. After tea before dark I went to the top of a high hill at the back of the camp; it was a good climb but the view was grand, and there had a chapter and some sweet communion with God. I came down through the bush which in some places was as high as my head. I turned in about 8, with a splitting headache, but managed to drop off to sleep about 10.

22 November 1899 (Wednesday)

Up about 6, a slight rain falling which cleared up about 9, with the promise of a hot day, read the 24th and 25th Psalms after breakfast. Have made a bag this afternoon out of a piece of khaki to carry my 10 lbs of baggage allowed up country and now have got the order to go to Natal, so expect to leave early in the morning. Still no letter from Rosie, I can’t make it out. Drew 10/– (10 shillings) today.

Death Can Be Surprising!

We know a lot more about dying than you may think, according to an online article entitled ‘Death Facts: 41 Facts About Death’. Here are just a few of them.

* When a person dies, their sense of hearing is last to go.
* We are born with 270 bones but die with only 206.
* Every 40 seconds, someone commits suicide.
* Every 90 seconds, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth.
* Every hour, at least one person is killed by a drunk driver in the USA.
* Crucifixion is still an official form of death penalty in Sudan.
* It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.
* About 100 billion people have died in all human history.
* 80% of all Soviet males born in 1923 died in World War II.

Remembering My Grandpa by Vickie Dallow

I would like to tell you a bit about my Grandpa, Stanley Watts, who was born in April 1899 in Eynsham, Oxford, the youngest of ten children. He had six sisters and three brothers, and was a keen boxer in his youth. After the outbreak of the Great War he joined the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry in March, 1915, stating that he was born in 1896 and, after little or no training, he fought at the Somme. He didn’t even know how to put on his puttees, and somebody helped him on the boat to France. An older man took Stanley under his wing, but got shot through the head while fighting next to Stanley, who was devastated. He also suffered gas attacks in the trenches, but survived, and he was demobilised in March 1919. After WWI he went to Knutsford (where I think there was a training academy), to begin his career as a policeman. There he met a young lady called Martha, from Stoke, who was a nurse and loved dancing. She had to walk past the gallows on her way home, which was a bit frightening, so Stanley would escort her. They married in September 1920, and their first daughter was born in February, 1921. My mother always said he had led her astray, but Martha was two years his senior, so I’m not so sure! He served at several police stations from 1920, including Burton-on-Trent, Handsacre and Stafford, and he and Martha lived at Armitage police station, where the next two of his daughters were born. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1929 and posted to Brownhills. My mother said they all cried on the way to Brownhills, because they thought it would be just that ‘brown hills’. His fourth daughter was born there. In 1936, he was promoted to inspector and transferred to Rushall. Three years later, when the new police station and court house opened at Aldridge, he took charge of the section, the largest in the county. Martha’s job was to feed the prisoners and keep the jail cells, and she would always make the prisoners clean their cells before they were released, especially if they had been drunk and disorderly. During WWII, my grandpa was assistant liaison officer to the South Staffordshire Home Guard, but his picture was used in Time magazine to encourage the Americans to join us! He also went to Coventry after the Blitz to organise police assistance to the hard-pressed Coventry force. He worked and lived at Aldridge police station until his retirement in December 1950. He became a governor of Druids Heath (approved) School, which was also a Barnardo’s orphanage in 1950, where I believe he ran a boxing club. At the time of his retirement, he was revered and admired by all his colleagues, and by the people of Aldridge.

Stanley’s health was not great; his heart and lungs were not strong, I wonder if the gas attacks he went through had anything to do with it. He had a bungalow built in Aldridge, where he and Martha lived after they retired until they died – Stanley in 1971, and Martha in 1973. I remember the local policemen turned out to Stanley’s funeral as pallbearers to his coffin, and held out their batons to make an archway to the church. On his journey to the crematorium, police were on point duty at every junction to stop the traffic and saluted him. We’ll never forget the respect they showed him. I remember my Grandpa with much pride. My own father didn’t take to married life very well, and he absconded. My mother took lodgers to help pay her rent without a husband around, and my sister and I both caught TB from one of them. Our Grandpa and Grandma took our mother and then us in after our release from the isolation hospital, so Grandpa was something of a father figure to both of us. He was a quiet, patient man, but if ever he pursed his lips, you knew not to push him any further! He looked after his neighbours, shopping for the elderly. Once a policeman, always a policeman, he carried a notebook, making notes of the comings and goings of neighbours and their visitors!

This Issue’s Cover Photograph Saint Peter Church, Stonnall, Staffs. Photograph: Alan Betts

Saint Peter Church was built on land given by William Tennant, Lord of the Manor of Shenstone, who gave £100.00, quite a sizeable sum in those days. Work was begun in 1822, but the new church was not consecrated until January, 1823. The consecration service was conducted by the Bishop of Chester. The church was probably built on the site of a Chapel of Ease, associated with Thomas Hall and mentioned in A History of Shenstone, by the Reverend Saunders, as existing before 1400. The altar screen was originally designed for the cathedral in Adelaide, Australia, but was considered to be too small and was acquired by William Leigh to enhance the chapel. The church is very fortunate in having some beautiful stained glass windows. The lovely East Window depicts Moses addressing the Israelites, with the inscription, ‘So even must the Son of Man be lifted up; whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’.

Interesting Days by Carole Jones

I found a couple of things in the Lichfield Book of Days that may be of interest:

The Robinson family from Chasetown (Lichfield Mercury, 3 January 1879)

On this day, the death was announced of James Robinson, of Chasetown near Lichfield, a veteran of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Robinson had been a private in the Coldstream Guards and on that fateful day had been one of the defenders of Hougoumont – a fortified farmhouse in the centre of the battlefield, where the fight was long and fierce and many died. Robinson himself was hit by a bullet which entered his left eye and lodged in his jaw.

Left for dead among the piles of bodies, it wasn’t until the next morning that someone noticed him moving and he was taken to the surgeon. The operation, in the days before anaesthetics and antibiotics, was deemed too risky, and so the musket ball remained with him until his death. Robinson was known to remark that, apart from the loss of his eye, the only inconvenience that resulted from his injury was a ‘perpetual noise in the head, as of a watermill’. He was, apparently, in all respects a model soldier – his proud boast being that he ‘never had a black mark against his name’. He died well into his 80s, as a result of ‘taking his last cold’.

Predictions for Lichfield (Lichfield Mercury, 8 March 1907)

On this day, the Lichfield Mercury published a feature which speculated on what Lichfield would be like one hundred years into the future. The article took the form of an imaginary tour around the streets in 2007, looking at the changes that would have taken place by that far-off ‘future date’ and, indeed, a few of the guesses were quite accurate. The writer predicts a city lit by electric lights which contains a shopping precinct, and where people used decimal currency. However, other predictions were wide of the mark: the David Garrick Theatre, ‘a magnificent structure’, dominated the market square (now called Johnson Square); the pavement was made up of tessellated tiles of many colours and everywhere is ‘scrupulously clean’; the Lichfield Mercury was published daily; express trains took 20 minutes to get to London; and uniformed guides were provided for all visitors to the city. In the year 2007, according to the article, the Swan and George hotels had been rebuilt, and Sandford Street had become ‘a magnificent thoroughfare’. Perhaps the most remarkable prediction, however, involved Lichfield City Football Club, which would, according to the article, be playing in the top tier of the football league, having won the FA Cup for the previous seven years!
 

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