Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rob-a-bob-Robson

Once again the Robsons have been occupying my time, while I wait for correspondent various other material replies from the land of lords, muffins and pounds sterling. Courtesy of mundia (subject to strange machinations of available data: accessible sometimes, and at others, not), google books, two census sites, nineteenth century databases, smaller armada of rabbit holes, and a voo-doo hex, I have been putting together a picture of Charles Robson around whom forces of family swirled, and quite forceful they were too—very driven.

Charles had been born in Kelso where his father, the solicitor Charles Robson of Bridge Street, Kelso, and of "Greenhill" had been in business with John Smith, a senior man of the bar. Charles Robson Senior, was also an esquire—he had property: not only his residence, but properties that paid returns. One of these properties in Kelso itself, he gave while still living, to three sons, George, William and Charles. The latter two were living in London, the former (George) stayed in Kelso.

The family seems to have be bifurcated along the tines of law and printing. Christopher Robson, the London based Barrister of Clifford's Inn, had followed his father into law and an earlier William ( perhaps an uncle) started in printing/lithography in London at the rousing dawn of the 1800s. Charles' boys became master-printers, while two of Christopher's boys went into law.

I wondered from whence came the money to support these enterprises: it seems that Charles Rosbon Senior may have had other brothers, also in Law or other descendant trades of pen-craft. When I dug a little deeper, I found that in 1860, there arrived in Roxburghshire, a James Robson who brought with him, sheep—special sheep—sheep sufficiently special to be featured heavily in agricultural history of the area.

James Robson (and his famous sheep) had come from Northamptonshire, crossbred (the sheep, not James) with local breeds, became a success, and raked in the shekels. Is this the source of the Robson's generational wealth and perpetual oppurtunity?

What is sure, despite my above musings, is that both Christopher and Charles left large families—large enough to warrant aspirin when trying to piece it together.

Christopher Robson (who was by the way, the barrister for George Levey, Charles' partner) married twice: first to Caroline Jenkins Griffiths (connected to Jenkins and Button, barristers of 5 Tavistock Street?) who died in 1851, and who, I assume, bore Christopher lots of little Robsons, though, if she did I haven't found them. He remarried later in 1852, while poor Caroline was barely warm in the box, to Emma Sarah Dove, from whom he certainly did obtain a brood. She was very much younger than him: twenty-five years younger! There is some evidence that Charles Robson Senior had done the same thing—that is, marrying twice. When Christopher died in 1867, his widow married a widower and solicitor, Harman Edgar Tidy, who acted as step-father to the brood, with the addition of his own children. One of Christopher's boys, Charles (another Charles) eventually married his step-sister, Ada.

Charles Robson, printer, Christopher's brother, married once (as far as I know) to Caroline Druitt in 1842. This was actually quite late to marry for Charles (born in about 1806), so he too, may have had an earlier wife—though no facts have surfaced.

Stay tuned: I have nearly finished an exploratory tree, which is my way of saying it is merely a report of what I have found, with question mark icons all over the place. I am happy to say that a picture is beginning to form.






Monday, October 21, 2013

Ideology, metastasized

Some years ago, I was interrupted while reading, on a tram, on my way to Hawthorn. The agent of this uninvited disturbance was a Hare-Krishna devotee (out among the illusional masses) who, in employment of his obvious training, sat down, and asked me what I thought the biggest problem was in the world. I don't quite know what he expected me to say, but I had replied: The mishandling of thought, and the subservience to glamour (my standard method of arresting the dumpling-brains in their tracks and kindling the curious minded into life).

Well, I don't think that was in his manual so, he fell back on his training and asked me if I did not think that the biggest problem was not, in fact, ignorance (obviously this was the reply he wanted). I replied: That I thought that was what I just said. There followed a garbled stream of nonsense that is always ejected from the brain when ideology meets mentation: the collision of the what-to-think with the how-to-think.

The ability to parse information and the skill of relating the gathered facts and forming some sort of relationships the basis of all reasoning; a truth of any kind is the offspring of the proof of a relationship between two real 'things'. This basic model of observation in on its last legs.

The above anecdote brings me to my point; that in our present culture there is such a profound emphasis, to the point of religious like mechanics, on memorizing 'what is so' without any recognition of the evils that flow from isolated single investments. I notice this, particularly among the young, who, are so glamorized (by which I mean the investing of the emotions in a set of lexicon like opinions, beliefs and conceptions, bypassing the natural watchtower tendency of the mind) by the media narrated world as it is presented; they react, without consideration, believing themselves to have been astute in those thoughts they hold to be truths of the world, when in fact they are merely trained well, like Pavlov's dog to respond to the ringing of the bell; they are active, believing themselves to be taking part in the moral husbandry of the world when in fact they are behaving as programmed, and they opine, believing their thoughts are original, correct and in no way corrupted, when they are in fact reinforcing lies. They have  proved their training, acted out their roles, and parroted the propaganda of a sinister financial elite who have planned this all from day one, for control, profit and the hobby of tyranny.

I was trained in advertising; I was trained in the science of colour and how that alters mood and disposition, I was trained in words and how to change advertising copy to alter buyers behaviour, I was trained on how to tailor the same message depending on the demographics. I was trained to manipulate people into behaviour that they thought was their own. This was in the 1980s.

The military-narrative-industrial complex that is the world wide media employees designers, psychologists, research companies, wordsmiths, imagery, associative memetics, all to make you think that such and such, is so and so. It works—brilliantly.

I am constantly surprised by the amount of people that cannot conceive that those in power, whose budgets of industry soar into the billions, are incapable of wishing any vice upon their fellow man. By means of some invisible assumption the fools at the botttom believe that: politics cannot be fixed or owned; democracy is the free from greed and interference; capitalism is bad and the cause of all injustice; that 'science says' is equal in weight to what used to be 'God revealed to me' and that wind-farms will save us from global warming and overpopulation.

Upon examination, it is found that the reverse is true on all these things. This disease of ideology is virulent more in the left wing that the right. The left wing have examples in history of their philosophies gone too far; the left have not yet had that pleasure and so never examine their principles; nor indeed take examination on if they possess them or not. Socrates was right - relentless uncomfortable questions are more important than answers.

It is sad beyond any metric. If you failed to investigate any opinion that you hold, particularly one by which you navigate your life, then your 'ownership' of that opinion by an act of theft, for it is was never yours by right of understanding. To repeat another's opinion without understanding it, is to steal.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Octavia Hamilton, A struggle for contentment


Octavia Hamilton is one of those anorexic footnotes in Australian musical history who despite efforts to feed her citation starves in written memory. She was, most sources tell, the principal contralto in the Philharmonic society and that is usually all one receives in the way of revelation, except in more weighty academic ventures into music of the nineteenth century in Australia, where, you may see mention of the scandalous Mrs. Moon (as she was in married life) and the numerous children associated with her behavior. To further sketch the picture in a way that Cruickshank may have drawn it, there is the tough and bitter husband, Augustus Graham Moon. It was venomous, public and contumelious. 

As with all minor satellites of domestic tragedy, there is usually some kind of knotted psychological mess, and there appears to have been, in Octavia’s case, just such a knot. Positively Gordian. It reaches back into her family’s past, and let me say right here that I am supposing greatly, but making sure my suppositions drift magnetically along the natural currents of likelihood.

She was born Eliza Octavia Scrivenor, eighth child and daughter of John Walter Scrivenor, solicitor of London who suffered intermittent success in his field, being bankrupt on more than one occasion and dissolving at least one professional partnership that is known. His father in turn (Eliza Octavia’s Grandfather) Harry G. Scrivenor - a Surrey man - had married a minor, one Elizabeth Craiston and had a respectable number of children, one of whom became Sir Harry Scrivenor, who made his name, a title and many pounds sterling in mercantile pursuit of Iron, and, who married into the Bayes-Cotton family. The Bayes-Cotton family were a wealthy Victorian family with ministers peppered upon every branch of the family and the hard fog of religious adherence wrapped around all. Some of Sir Harry’s children even emigrated to Australia, including his son, Octavius Scrivernor. Sir Harry did well. John, his solicitor brother , rather struggled (He eventually came out to Australia as well).

On the maternal side the truancy of success made itself well known. Octavia’s maternal grandmother, Caroline Medkaff had been born in about 1768 and was the illegitimate but recognized daughter of Henry Herbert, the badly-behaved, horse-loving, one-tenth-of-an-adventurer, 10th Earl of Pembroke, whom Horace Walpole found intolerable and regular fodder for wit. The poor daughter (the second illegitimate child) Caroline had been the offspring of the libidinous Earl and some poor woman whom he had whisked off, and bedded, on her wedding day to some poor unfortunate groom in Venice. The Pembroke papers do not mention who this unfortunate husband was, nor the name of the woman, nor how or where the pregnancy was carried. But be that as it may, Eliza Octavia was still the great-grand daughter of a peer although I am sure the details were lost on purpose and the nobility part thoroughly elevated and glazed.

Her choice of professional name perhaps may possibly be explained as follows:- her great grandfather John Hoadley Scrivenor had a daughter Ann (thus Aunt to Octavia's father) who married Baron Charles Hamilton, from the family that were on the bloody field at Culloden. The Baron and Ann had a son James who was born in Hamilton in Scotland, and who emigrated in 1839 as a young adventurer to New Zealand and died there in 1844. There is evidence to suggest Octavia and her cousin James were close.

So, Eliza Octavia lived in a family that had a compulsion to achievement,  religious durability on the left and the faded, ‘don’t-ask-too-many-questions’ end of noblesse on the right. John Walter Scrivenor’s family was in the middle. No pressure then.

Augustus Moon then enters the picture, the nephew of Sir Francis Moon, Lord Mayor of London who apart from whatever else he did, managed to receive a portrait in the Illustrated London News (Francis, not Augustus, alas). Augustus enters the scene of Frances’ life as a boarder, living with the Scrivenors in Islington, where he marries her while she was still under age. A little calculation of the marriage entry and the census entry for 1851 shows that hanky was being very definitely panked while Augustus was a guest under John Scrivenor’s roof. That’s not very gentlemanly and rather takes the protective varnish off Augustus’ later hard-done-by husband image he threw into the press. 

After marriage Augustus and Eliza Moon, emigrated to Australia where Augustus had a post with the General Steam Screw Navigation Company but the Crimean war put a stop to whatever venture that had guaranteed and he found himself working in the Post Office in its correspondence branch. Mr. Moon, who looked like he was going to court great success soon settled down to the hard upward climb in a land at least three months sail from England where his choice of station may have fared better.

At some point Eliza Octavia, after giving birth to ‘some’ children to him, takes up with wine merchant Thomas Holme Davis (a music lover and secretary of the Philharmonic in 1860 where he no doubt began some kind of association with her) with whom she brought the total of children issued to fourteen. 

Thomas Holme Davis was the son of a woolstapler and came to Australia as an emigrant starting as a wool dealer, no doubt helped by connections back home. At some point he moved into the import and export of wine. He was the successful self made man that John Walter Scrivenor tried to be, and that Augustus Moon promised to be. What is more - he loved music and was the secretary of the Philharmonic Society where Octavia Hamilton was principal contralto. Mr. Moon was never comfortable with France’s public display of singing, being of that same cast of opinion that reminds me of Armes Beaumont’s father who refused to acknowledge him even in the street because he sang Opera as a profession. Thomas obviously had no such low opinion of  singing.

At some point either side of 1860 Frances Octavia, Madame Augustus G. Moon, moved in with him above his wine store and there seems to have been a genuine rapport between them for in 1874 he sells up and they both move back to England with child number fourteen, Beatrice Connaught Davis, leaving the freshest trail. Thomas and Eliza appeared to have stayed together until death. The descendants of Augustus Moon know little about her, and several told me their impressions were that the parents had been told all manner of wickedness about her and that she was persona non grata.

Whatever the truth, her first marriage cannot have been the choice of the wise and wizened regardless of Frances‘ wishes as a ‘young woman’.  The result was an unhappy one and Augustus Moon’s public outbursts seem to hint at an anger fueled by an indignant spirit. The second ‘marriage’ with T. H. Davis looked to be a match born of music, the bottle and other private sport.


Monday, August 19, 2013

What happened to George?

Robert, Frederic, Eliza and Edward Smith had a brother named George, who after marrying in the 1850s left for Australia with his wife, Mary Victoria née Crump (daughter of Sleath John Crump). I have even got my hands on the shipping entry. They both arrived.

In Robert's will of 1917 there is no mention or bequest to any member of George's family that I am familiar with although there are plenty of names whose connections I have not made, although he never calls any of these spare persons 'nephew.' So either George had died or was persona non grata.

A family genealogist on Ancestry holds details for a Mary Victoria Crump and her sons, accounts for her whereabouts in the censuses but never mentions any further details on the sons, nor the husband, George. If this claimant be in possession of what is true then Mary V. Smith returned to England and is variously listed as a widow.

So what happened to George?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bottom of the Tea canister


Dagnabbit. I really wish someone would have, by this late stage in the day, have documented, and have readily available the history and minutiae of the Sparrow tea family. Apart from the teasing mentions of their shopfront, a few trade cards and regular snippets from the bankruptcy ball that was Victorian London, there is nothing.

It really would help.

It seems now that Edward Sparrow really was the father of Robert Smith (Robert Sparrow Smythe) and that the man did die in a carriage accident leaving an envoy from the 'family' to tell Robert's mother that the two-timer was deceased, as was any money that usually flowed to Eliza Smith. 

George Smith who has disappeared on me, gives his father as Edward Smith, linen draper. How curious. Did Edward Sparrow work at Smith's Emporium and was Edward a member of the Robert and Frederick Smith Tea Merchants from God-knows-whereshire? That would explain the money having been given, and also the lack of any legal action. The Smith's had been poorer than poor with 'Mrs. Smith' sending her children out to the Tea merchants for the dustings of the bottom of the canisters. I wonder if they went up to Sparrow's Tea Merchants or one of the three stores the family owned.

None of the children knew the name of the father until Eliza and her brothers confronted their mother and asked who the father was - and that must have happened before Smythe emigrated for he stated using the name Smythe almost as soon as he arrived. In fact, Edward Steele seems to suggest that the children, especially Smythe, knew of it before he left in 1855 on the Kent.

Why has no-one documented the Sparrows? Why? They were a major the house of the nineteenth century in London, near St, Pauls, and on a fashionable stretch of Ludgate Hill for a long time.

So there it is; Edward, Robert, Eliza, George and Frederick, the progeny of Sparrows and no-one has left the faintest clue. 


Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Tarnished Road to Samarkand

Yesterday, I archived all my tweets ever tweeted or twot on twitter and closed it.


Yesterday, I deleted every post and every picture on Facebook and after five years, I will deactivate that too.

I have deleted all other blogs but this this one which is research based and not defined as Social Media. My reason for this is the increased arrogance and reach of the surveillance state, the futility of social media to advance my habit of self cultivation but most of all by the debilitating stupidity that has peppered my interaction beyond the capacity of a generous intolerance.

People no longer reason, they react. They no longer think, they adopt other's opinions. I have no problem in abandoning such patchwork creatures to the dark misunderstandings that are coming. In the absence of a vibrant mental life culture collapses into myopic simplicity and sterile opinion. Barrenness. 

And, this morning it was revealed that our own tel-co, TELSTRA has been storing for future use on behalf of the United States spy agencies, our personal traffic and data. So, I am switching to writing good old fashioned letters.

I have the contact details of those nearest and dearest and of like mind and similar fire. The rest are about to find themselves in a place they will not like. God help them all.

But, this blog will remain open for my research on R.S.Smythe.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Crumpity, Crumpity, Crump

Edward Steele notes a thing most important regarding my researches, in his journal. He relates the departure in 1858 of George Smith, brother of R.S.Smythe, for Australia. Having recently married in 1857 he was easier to find than I had thought. Married in North Surrey/Wandsworth/Lambeth-ish area with the father's name Edward Smith, and he himself by occupation, a saddler. So far all details correct (father's occupation given as draper). He married a Mary Victoria Crump and sure enough on the shipping list in early 1858 arriving at Melbourne, there he his, the only one of correct age, with a wife, M. V. Smith (daughter of John Sleath Crump). Evidently the plan was for Robert to fund the emigration of the entire family. Eliza and Frederic stayed behind.

Bingo.

There is a small shadow on this revelation; a family on ancestry has already claimed Mary Victoria Crump/Smith as never having left England. We have both made claims upon the same marriage certificate. Having said that I can find no M. V. Smith dying here anywhere, and R.S.Smythe makes no mention of George in his will, nor any offspring of same.

What happened?

Edward Smith Jnr, George's brother was already potted deep in the soil of South Australia and Robert was in the Riverina, I think, but most definitely in Victoria. I hope George settled here in Victoria, for if he settled in South Australia it's as good as throwing him onto the deck of the Flying Dutchman.

So, George - show yourself!

Sparrows, more confused than ever

Edward Steele, the brother in law of robert Sparrow Smythe states quite plainly in his journal that the real father of the family was Edward Sparrow and that the family (the mother) had simply adopted the name Smith, and that in knowledge of this Robert Smith played with the spelling of his name, sometimes changing Smith to Smythe but always taking the name Sparrow as his middle name.

Edward 'Smith' Sparrow was supposed to have died in a carriage accident leaving the mother a 'widow' and indeed in 1851 she enumerates herself as a widow. ten years earlier the father had been alive. So Mr. Sparrow died between 1841 and 1851 and left a real widow and children. So who was he?

His illegitimate eldest son, Edward was born in 1826, seven full years before Robert Sparrow Smith. Why the gap of seven years? What on earth was going on? A syphilitic period? Absence? Legal threats? No other children are mentioned by Edward Steele in his diary.

The man, who ever his was, was meant to be somewhat wealthy as goes the family law. "Of Ludgate Hill" is another piece of lore. F and R. Sparrow were indeed wine merchants and tea-dealer, but there is no Edward at all. The number of Edward Sparrows that died in the 1841-1851 decade are two in number, neither of which match or fit. He is described variously as printer, drapers clerk/merchant or commercial traveller.

So where is the truth of this?

Oh, and George Smith, the remaining brother of Smythe emigrated with Mary Victoria, his wife, to Australia in 1858. Their marriage certificate lists Edward as a draper. Just what the heck is going on?

I'd love to know.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Painter's Companion

With my novel, the erotic part of it concerns me - not that it's there or that the language is explicit - it's that people expect the novel to be either 'romantic' (I hate that word) or erotic (not fond of that word either) but for a whole sense of narrative to develop it has to be part of the landscape. My concern is that it's presence jars.

I think it flows. Maybe I have been a little too restrained. I just don't know and the editor I was working with is beyond questioning on the subject now as I can't afford the funds to pay for her continued and invaluable input.

I'm going to have to read the book, yet again, and, as fond as I am of it, that is difficult. Editing is such hard emotional drudgery.

And there are other books piling up in my head - the sequel, Shakespearian like verse homoerotic performance material, poetry, and a large book on Karma and its mechanics.

Oh, and there is yet another biography, this time of the famous french immortal mystic and traveller Mdme. Adèle Dorothée Sainguery (born in the 1770's in Saint-Bouxères, France) of whom no-one has ever heard. Quite an amazing woman.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Octavia Hamilton, again

In my ever obsessive need to find Frances Eliza Scrivenor, aka 'Octavia Hamilton' (1935-1913) - wicked soprano, or was it contralto (moon in Taurus, must have a had a good voice) I regularly search for her daughter, Beatrice Connaught Davis, the last of her children by Thomas Holme Davis (1827-). Beatrice (1879-1869) had married first to Walter Slater whose descendants lost track of her, because, she had moved country and remarried to Henry John Pinnock (1867-1942). She died in Hove in the 1969, but the tree of the Pinnocks has been put up on ancestry's Mundia, by the mononym of alannahfencker, possibly the NSW based Australian artist Alannah Fencker. I wonder if she knows about Octavia, and more importantly, did Beatrice leave her mother's photographs or stories with the family?

Alannah Fencker! Where are you? Where is Octavia?

I have not yet given up hope. Octavia certainly deserves a short story if nothing else, and on that, I have already started.

I will get your one day Octavia, I already know there is an un-labelled picture of you in the State Library of Victoria. Can't say how I know but I need verification.

Just because...


Tea and Sparrows

The Sparrows were a Tea family, part of the regency and Victorian shopping landscape. The enterprise was started by three brothers; Robert, Frederick and Henry. A consanguineous branch also started in tea and turned into small coffee merchants.

Robert Sparrow was born in about 1782 and was the "R" in "F & R. Sparrow" and retired or died fairly early on as he disappears early on in the tea dynasty story, as did his brother Henry (1794-1820) who did die at age twenty at the shop premises in Ludgate Hill. The man engine seems to have been Frederick (1778-?) who sired several children, one of whom was a Frederick II, another tea merchant, and a grandson, Frederick Hartley Sparrow, also in Tea, taking the house of Sparrow all the way to the end of the Victorian age.

The three brothers had another brother, Francis, of whom I know little, but his daughter Beatrice married Thomas Phythian (born 1804), a Welsh based wine merchant who started Phythian's, another well known Grand Store in London. Francis also had a son Owen, whose own son, another Owen II tried the wine and tea business but died early and hadn't done as well, but Owen II's children, Thomas, George, Henry and even a Fanny Sparrow, all went into small businesses in Wine, Tea, and Henry was particularly well known for Sparrows Continental coffee.

How this family came to start in the business or raise the capital is not known but they came from a Cheshire family, sired from a family of Sparrows in whom the name Ambrose occurs several times over the course of the Jacobean period through to the Restoration. I am assuming this is an indication of some achievement that left a long legacy.  The three big Sparrow brothers had an Uncle Thomas who was the lawyer for the Wedgewood Company.

Ludgate Hill was the epicenter of the Tea Warehouse 'franchise' for the Sparrow brothers, being at 6 and 8 Ludgate Hill, separated by George Smith, Haberdasher at 8 Ludgate Hill. Soon after this George Smith, haberdasher disappears but at No. 10 there was Everington and Graham's Indian Shawl Warehouse for which he became a buyer, often going to the continent for business and buying trips. In 1846 George opens his own Shawl Warehouse at 32 Ludgate Hill, just across the road from No's 8, 9 and 10. But George's success was short lived and he ended up back in the victualler business, ending his days as a grocer.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Octavia, the lost bottle...and Alice Zavistowski

Octavia Hamilton's daughter Beatrice Connaught Davis married a Mr. Pinnock and a local Australian woman has noted this on ancestry. She has an account on flickr and I have contacted her. Nothing my come of it but I am nothing if not hope.

A photo of Alice Zavistowski in her married incarnation as Mrs. Marshall Webb has appeared on the net, sans her grand and wild locks but with that restrained and curtly respectable short 1880s haircut and looking a million miles from burlesque. The album holder notes nothing of the Shailers or of the mysterious Aunt Marie Ludlam who came over as part of the ballet company. Lord knows where they ended up - Emmeline's family split into three tragedies with one branch finally hauling it to California where I loose track. Robert Anton Shailer entered the War but no more is known.

The webmaster has been most helpful.

A report on the Smythean task

So, here is my assessment of the situation regarding Smythe's early life, and my best guesstimation;

Eliza Bridge from Hoxton did indeed marry an Edward Smith, a likely bookseller of Paternoster Row or commercial traveller (jobs changed very quickly in that wage bracket) and that this Edward was in fact the son of the victualler George Smith, turned shawl seller of the famous Indiana Shawl Warehouse, which lasted for a while then George once again went back to la vie de vitaille. It was during this period that his son Edward was very likely a traveller, as George had been. Then in my scenario, Edward ups and dies, splits his tome asunder, rips the binding and is a signature in the book of life no longer. Then his widow takes a lover, a man from the Sparrow family, who fosters the rest of the brood, Robert, Elizabeth, George and Frederic. Edward her first son being very likely the actual 'Smith'.

The Sparrows were intimately connected with Ludgate Hill, through two of shoot premises, belonging to Frederick, Robert and Henry Sparrow. In addition there was a wine connection with the sister of these gentleman who had married a welsh wine merchant Thomas Phythian which gave rise to more dynastical tea tentacles as well as a department store. There is a Henry Sparrow who dies early to fit the bill of progenitor zero and and Owen Sparrow, suspect of character but described as commercial traveller.

Two other relations, Henry and George went into coffee and made a laudable eponymic tilt of the shop shingle.

So there its is, Robert Smith, emigrant to Australia to escape the soot and mire of London came to Australia and became Robert Sparrow Smythe, a dedication to he real father and his patrinominal father - and his first family he visited when he arrived in 1855 was his brother, his eldest brother (step-brother  perhaps) Edward, a man who had tired working and owning a vineyard in Clare, south Australia, starting a school there and eventually marrying three times, the last to his first cousin Jane Bridge, who if I have my imaginings right, was his half-first cousin.

Its even more complicated than this but I don't want to compete with the shuttle jockeys at Gaquelin in levels of complexity and dazzling speed.

At the moment there is a faint lead, the great, great grandson of Elizabeth Smith (married Edward Steele) name David Anthony Steele, currently my age and director of the family trust that deals in the leasing of the magnificent family Hall in Suffollk. I have sent a letter and emails to all those whose help can be mustered. Let us see.

If nothing else, I have all they need to know on the Steeles if they have it not already.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Smythe, stalled

I have recently found out that Smythe's father may not have been a Smith at all. Family rumor has it that his father was from a famous Tea Merchant family. Another branch of the family claims that Smythe's father Edward was a books seller on Paternoster Row and that the grandfather was in wine - in Ludgate Hill near St Pauls. There was indeed such a man, George Smith, right between F. and R. Sparrow's Tea Houses. George Smith sold his wine business and went into Shawl's "Graham and Smith's India Shawl" Warehouse to be specific.

So where does that leave me with Mr. Robert Sparrow Smythe, theatre man? Did his select the name Sparrow to honor his father? He must have. How am I ever going to find out what went on. Did Edward Smith marry Eliza? Family lore says they were not married. Perhaps, Smythe's oldest brother, Edward Smith, the man who died in South Australia was the actual Smith and the rest were, 'Sparrows." By the way, I am now THE MAN to go to for anything to do with the Sparrow Tea Family.

This first part of Smythe's biography is so lean and so lacking real foundations it bothers me.

Oh, and New Zealand have now instituted gay marriage. Australia, hang you head in shame.

Fanny and Stella

I have just finished reading 'Fanny and Stella' by Neil McKenna, who writes like a storyteller, presents facts like a coroner and gives the reader a compassionate account of two gay gents who liked frocking up and getting out and and about at a time when it was really dangerous. A great read. I can't recommend it highly enough. As an exercise alone in how to translate history into fluent narrative without letting go of what once were real people with real emotions, it is alone worth the read. Not once does he, as so many do, leave the reader unsatisfied.

I accidentally found out about it when a local photo dealer showed me two photos of a man in drag; we had arguments about if it be an ugly woman or an effeminate man. As an illustrator I was able to dat the dress, google and search. Found it. Identified the photos, bought the book and am very happy.

As a thank you to Mr McKenna, I have tinted the largest image of them I could find on the web. This is my forte - colour, fashion and tinting. I chose colours that were in vogue and matched the style they were wearing. This was was the era of fadé, but toward the end of the decade colours became brighter as dyes became better. Here it is...