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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back from South Island Camping - Happy New Year!

Well we had a great break though the weather was pretty foul most of the time. The camping included Theo peeing on the floor of the tent in the middle of the night in a reverie, 14 hours of rain at one site, and Sam, Jane and Theo being struck down with food poisoning and trenchant vomiting (what 7 year old Sam calls 'spewering') from 11pm onwards in a small tent with rain threatening, at another location.

We are much enjoying the comforts of home.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Indomitable Presence: The Slim Mother of Twins in the Red Dress



I began to feel a lot healthier when I was around eighteen. On holiday in Jersey at that time, I was willing to enter into everything in the holiday camp, and was voted most popular girl.

I went to a dance, a local hop, in a church hall. I was with three girlfriends. I did not see Eric in the hall but when we were walking down the road, four girls all arm in arm, this young man runs down the road after us and comes between the lot of us. I was the one who lived farthest, so he walked me home. [Eric was her future husband Eric Harry Johnson]

I went on holidays then with Eric. We went to Cornwall, Devon and North Wales. We did lots of walking – I was then about 22 years old. We used to go dancing or go up to Town on Saturday nights with all our friends and family. We would walk around the West End of London, have a couple of drinks, thoroughly enjoy ourselves and come home.

We decided to get married in 1938. At that time, Eric was into the long distance walking and I used to walk with him when he trained. When he walked the London-Brighton Road Walk, I got the train and took his change of clothes so that when he got there he could change and we could go out and have a meal and go to the pictures – and then take the train home from Brighton. We had a very good courtship.

When the War did not come as expected in 1938, we decided to get married on the 24th June 1939. But in August, Eric was gone – drafted into the Territorial Army. So that wasn’t it! He was sent to Thames Haven and I used to go around the different camps to see him. We rented as house at 240 Clockhouse Road in Elmers End, near Beckenham. Once I got home to find water pouring down the stairs – the upstairs tank had burst.

I was a fully qualified milliner by then who made hats from scratch on the wooden head blocks. I had been working on the tables doing piece work for a couple of years when the fur lady said ‘I am picking three of you ladies out to make me hats that are fashionable’. We were given the material and left to make up a design.

When I made my four hats, three of them went into the show room and they received huge orders on them. So I became a hat designer with the head designer and stayed there for six years. I used to go to the show room and model the hats for the buyers. I don’t know why he chose me as I don’t know if I were good looking or not, with my broken nose that I got from the car accident in my earlier years – but I had to have my hair done every other day!

When I got married, we lived on four pounds a week. Our rent was 27s 6d per week and we lived well on the remainder for a couple of months. When my husband was called up for the Army, we got more money but the price of everything went up because of the shortages.

During the War, I went to a farm to get out of London. I was four months pregnant and my husband was stationed at Wittering on a gun site. When I visited him, I stayed on a farm with Mrs Naylor and her husband. They had a little boy and Mrs Naylor was also pregnant. Mrs Naylor had her little baby girl while I was there and I looked after the farm and the farm hands for about four months. Eventually, I could not stand the sight of potatoes, as when the farm boys and girls came in from the fields, there would be a huge dish of mashed potatoes in the middle of the table.

At the farm, if you wanted a bath, you had to pump the water and it was two hundred pumps to get enough water. I left home for Christmas in 1940. My husband, father, grandfather and brother Lionel were at home. My mother had gone up north because she was afraid of the bombs. We had a good Christmas although it was very noisy with the sirens going all the time. My husband left and became an officer in the Army. In the following April, I gave birth to my twin daughters.

When I had twin daughters in 1941, I did not go back to work as the War was on. I did however go for another job and they gave me material to make a trial hat. The hat was to have taken tree days but it only took me one. On the day that I was to start work a bomb fell on the factory – as also happened to my old work place – and so that was the end of the job. So I stayed at home and started dressmaking. My husband Eric was away for nearly five and a half years.

I had not been to a doctor during my pregnancy as I had been away in the country, and so no one told me I was getting too big. When I got too heavy, I went to the Nursing Home and was admitted for three days to try to start the baby coming – but with no luck. I left and went to stay with a friend, Gladys Bell, who live near the Nursing Home, as I lived alone and could not get there in time without an ambulance.

I was so big I could not walk properly and I was getting really uncomfortable – so I went back to the Nursing Home and told them I would throw myself under a train if they did not do something for me as they had no idea what I was going through. The matron gave me a prescription to start the baby and I returned to Gladys’. I took the prescription at 7.30 pm and my waters broke at nine o’clock.

Gladys and her husband Mont took me to the Nursing Home and left quickly as there was an air-raid going on. There were two guns situated by the Home and when they fired, all the beds would move across the floor. They put me in a room at 9.45 pm and nobody came near me until 6.15 am the next day. I was in shocking pain but the nurses were looking after the babies because of the bombing.

Then they took me to the delivery room and I had one baby – but the nurse said ‘don’t relax yet, you are having another baby’. I was so surprised, and when they weighed the babies, one was 7lb 4oz and the other 6lb 10oz. They were beautiful babies and the biggest on the ward. I was in the Nursing Home for 17 days as I was not fit enough to come out.

The twins were born on 8th April. Someone sent their father a telegram but he could not get there for a week. The Matron took him to the nursery and asked him if he could pick out his twin daughters – and he did from the whole nursery as he said that they were the best looking ones.

I lost a lot of blood for weeks but I have never had a blood transfusion in my life. I had to drink three pints of water and three pints of milk every day. I had to pay a guinea a day for my stay while everyone else was charged 4 shillings per day.

Mr Johnson, the paternal grandfather (Keith’s grandfather Harry), used to walk around the Nursing Home like a lord – he was so proud of his granddaughters.

The Matron did not like me, as after I had had the babies at 7.30 am, the doctor did not come until 1.00 pm to stitch me up. He had no chloroform and when I was being stitched up, I screamed the place down – and the Matron said I was a spoilt brat.

When I left, I thought I would show up the Matron and I asked my mother to buy me a new girdle and bring me my red dress that fitted me like a glove so that I could wear the dress when I left the Nursing Home. I walked down the corridor and two doctors were walking towards me with a nurse who told them I was the mother of the beautiful twins. The doctors were amazed to see such a slim woman in a red dress walking towards them. When I got home, I could not wait to get off the red dress and the girdle.

I used to take my twin daughters out in a double perambulator in the summer months all dressed in white laying on white pretty pillowcases. People used to come up and peer into the pram and I used to ask them not to breathe on the babies. Every shop I went into, I had to ask the people not to pick up the babies as everyone wanted to hold them.

I had to beg the milkman to give me more milk as we were rationed for one pint a day. I used to wait until the milkman had finished his round and then buy what he had left over for extra money. I never had enough meat because of the rationing. The twins did not like potatoes but really liked minced meat. I used my meat ration as they were not old enough for a meat ration.

I never had any trouble with the twins but myself, I was in a bad way. All my insides were pulled out and I had to see a gynaecologist and wear something inside for about a year. When I felt better, I used to push them in the pram all the way from Elmers End to Courthill Road in Lewisham. Sometimes my parents would meet me in Catford and take me for a small drink at the Rising Sun. My father would go out to the pram and give the twins a sip.

My twin daughters were about 20 months old when their father was posted overseas on active service. They were going to school when he came back. I used to take them all over the place in the double pushchair, on the buses and taxis. When the war was over - so were the taxi days. I used to take the twins to see the ballet at the Lewisham Hippodrome – this has now been pulled down. We went on the Tune and had days in Town. We got around, even before my husband came home.

When the twins were about two years old, I took them down to Westcott in Surrey to visit the other grandfather (Harry Johnson) who used to take them to the pubs and sit them in the pub gardens and buy them shandies (beer with lemonade). Everywhere I went, people used to make a fuss of them. I used to make all their clothes and always bought them expensive shoes so they looked good.

Initially we lived in Clockhouse Road but moved to 65 Conisborough Crescent, Catford when they were about nine years old. During the War, after the twins had been put to bed, I used to get on the sewing machine and do a lot of dressmaking. I used to cut up blankets and make all sorts of things. Then I started making clothes for other people and that’s how I started my dressmaking business. My next door neighbours used to get very annoyed as they could hear the trundle of the sewing machine through the walls at night.

As the twins grew up, I made all their clothes. I used to make wedding dresses, an awful lot of wedding dresses – I can’t believe I made that many. I also made wedding dresses for both my daughters.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Native Son Downunder

I have always had a soft spot for the story told by Beatrice Tunstall in her Romantic Novel ‘The Shiny Night’ (1931).


Quite apart from anything else, The Shiny Night presents a cameo portrait of Cheshire dairy farming in the period 1840 – 1885, recounting the struggles of a farmer through such events as the 1865 – 1866 Rinderpest Epidemic.

It is told quite largely in Cheshire Dialect such that the hero, Seth Shone, having entered the cow shippons for the morning milking, and having been devastated to find that his cattle have died overnight during the outbreak, sobs to his wife that ‘t(he) kine an gone jed’’.

But the story is also interesting for its links to witchcraft – and Australia. It starts with Seth standing near Beeston Castle watching the fire on the crag and the bonfires that have been lit across the countryside to mark the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.

Seth has recently returned to England from Van Diemen’s Land following a seven year sentence of Transportation for poaching. It is suggested that he was wrongly accused and convicted to defraud him of his rights of succession to the family farm.

Facing a hostile establishment, with the help of a friend, he establishes squatter’s rights to a cottage that he builds on the village Common. Having built it overnight and met the condition that smoke should be seen from the chimney at daybreak, he is free to keep it and graze a few young stock.

He then sets about rebuilding his fortunes and recovering the family farm. But not before cursing the three people who he believes conspired to deprive him of his freedom and farm. These include the local Squire who was the sentencing Magistrate; a rival for his betrothed; and his Derbyshire relatives who want to move down from the moors to the fat pastures of Cheshire.

The story is set in Bunbury, Cheshire (called Clock Abbot in the book) and draws on the local legend of the Image House. This house is known for the sandstone images that have been attached to the brick frontage. The images are taken to represent people who were cursed by the house’s original inhabitants, following a local dispute.

The main theme of The Shiny Night is the unfolding of the curses – and their eventual undoing of Seth himself – but not before he has risen to prosperity and respectability, and settled the old farm successfully on his son Yedmunt (Edmund).


Well, from the ‘facts’ we can deduce that Seth probably spent about 10 years in Australia, with seven of these at ‘his Majesty’s pleasure’ and remainder working to pay for his fare home. He would have been sentenced then around 1827, probably at around the age of 20. He was therefore born around 1807 - and was 58 when he lost his dairy stock to the rinderpest and had to start all over again.

A typical surviving record is the one referring to his ‘Shropshire Cousin’, Samuel Shone, who was one of 130 convicts transported on the ship the Sir Charles Forbes, 23 November 1824. Samuel had been sentenced for a term of 7 years at Shrewsbury Quarter Sessions. Like Seth, his ‘Place of Arrival’ was Van Diemen’s Land.

Governor Philip (1788-1792) had founded a system of convict labour in which people, whatever their crime, were employed according to their skills - as brick makers, carpenters, nurses, servants, cattlemen, shepherds and farmers.

Educated convicts were set to the relatively easy work of record-keeping for the convict administration. Women convicts were assumed to be most useful as wives and mothers, and marriage effectively freed a woman convict from her servitude.

The discipline of rural labour (for which Seth would have been well-placed) was seen to be the best chance of reform. This view was adopted by Commissioner Bigge in a series of reports for the British Government published in 1822-23. The assignment of convicts to private employers was expanded in the 1820s and 1830s, the period when most convicts were sent to the colonies, and this became the major form of employment.

In the mid-1830s only around six per cent of the convict population were 'locked up', the majority working for free settlers and the authorities around the nation.

Even so, convicts were often subject to cruelties such as leg-irons and the lash. Places like Port Arthur or Norfolk Island were well known for this.

Convicts sometimes shared deplorable conditions. One convict described the working thus:

'We have to work from 14-18 hours a day, sometimes up to our knees in cold water, 'til we are ready to sink with fatigue... The inhuman driver struck one, John Smith, with a heavy thong.'

However, good behaviour meant that convicts rarely served their full term and could qualify for a Ticket of Leave, Certificate of Freedom, Conditional Pardon or even an Absolute Pardon. This allowed convicts to earn their own living and live independently.

For the period of their sentence though, they were still subject to surveillance and the ticket could be withdrawn for misbehaviour. This sanction was found to work better in securing good behaviour then the threat of flogging.

Governor Brisbane (1821-1825) codified the regulations for eligibility. Convicts normally sentenced to seven year terms could qualify for a Ticket of Leave after four years, while those serving 14 years could expect to serve between six to eight years. 'Lifers' could qualify for their 'Ticket' after about 10 or 12 years. Those who failed to qualify for a pardon were entitled to a Certificate of Freedom on the completion of their term.


The colony of Van Diemen's Land was established in its own right in 1825 and officially became known as Tasmania in 1856. In the 50 years from 1803-1853 around 75,000 convicts were transported to Tasmania. By 1835 there were over 800 convicts working in chain-gangs at the infamous Port Arthur penal station, which operated between 1830 and 1877.

Australia's first census was held in November 1828 in the colony of New South Wales. Previous government statistical reports had been taken from "musters" where inhabitants were brought together for counting. In 1828, the white population was 36,598 of whom 20,870 were free and 15,728 were convicts. 23.8% of the population were born in the colony. 24.5% were women. There were 25,248 Protestants and 11,236 Catholics. Indigenous Australians were not counted.

Of the 36,598, 638 were living in what is now Queensland. There were also 18,128 people in Tasmania.


April 13 - Melbourne's first post office opens.
June 18 - Official proclamation of the Swan River Colony (Western Australia)
August 12 - Mrs Helen Dance, wife of the Captain of the ship Sulphur, cuts down a tree to mark the day of the founding of the town of Perth, Western Australia.

September 20 - The Port Arthur penal settlement was established.
September 23 - The Bathurst Rebellion begins outside of Bathurst, New South Wales, following the escape of a group of convicts known as the 'Ribbon Gang' under the leadership of convict-servant Ralph Entwistle. Ten of the rebels are later captured and publicly hung after being tried and found guilty of murder.
October 7 - The 'Black Line' campaign of the Black War begins in an attempt to capture all Tasmanian Aborigines. The campaign lasts 7 weeks and only succeeds in bringing two Aborigines to the authorities.
Economy in 1830 - Wool exports from Australia reach 2 million pounds.



Shone (pronounced ‘shown’, as in ‘I was shown the picture’) is an interesting surname. However, it is not common in south and western Cheshire in my experience and Tunstall may have chosen it partly because it rhymes with Done (pronouced 'D-Oh-an)– a very venerable local surname (the Dones were the hereditary keepers of Delamere Forest). My only personal memory of the name is that it was held by one of the reasonably prominent amateur jockeys in the ‘Point-to-Point’ horse racing circuit in the 1955-65 period.

Shone is originally a Welsh surname. Like Jones and Johnson, it is a patronymic of John. The spelling and pronunciation though have a more Celtic ring and direct affinities with the Irish Gaelic forms Sean (John), McShane (son of John) and O’Shea (grandson of John).

Until the 15th Century, cascading patronymic naming predominated in Wales, with a person's baptismal name being linked by ap, ab (son of) to the father's baptismal name back to perhaps the seventh generation. For example, Evan son of Thomas would be known as Evan (ap) Thomas; Evan's son, John would be John (ap) Evan; John's son Rees would be Rees (ap) John; and David's son, James, would be James (ap) David.

In areas where English influence was strong, like the borders of Shropshire and Cheshire, cascading patronymics were abandoned in favour of fixed surnames at an earlier date as settlers melded into the local population and acquired property that they wished to bequeath to descendants.

Overall, the stock of Welsh surnames is very small, which is partly attributed to the reduction in the variety of baptismal names after the Protestant Reformation. The typically Welsh surnames Jones, Williams, Davies, Evans and Thomas were all found in the top ten surnames recorded in England and Wales in 2000. However, some of these names originated in England in the 14th century or earlier, long before they arose in Wales.


Seth’s conversations in The Shiny Night appear completely uninfluenced by his exile in Australia. This seems unrealistic. Almost certainly, he would have picked up and incorporated some of the emerging Australian argot.

Apparently as early as 1827 Peter Cunningham, in his book Two Years in New South Wales, reported that native-born white Australians of the time—known as "currency lads and lasses" — spoke with a distinctive accent and vocabulary, with a strong Cockney influence.

Also there were borrowings from the aboriginal languages like 'cooee', hard 'yakka' and 'bung'. The first is used as a high-pitched call, for attracting attention, which travels long distances. Cooee is also a notional distance, as in ‘if he's within cooee, we'll spot him’.

Hard yakka means hard work and the word bung means broken or pretending to be hurt. A failed piece of equipment may be described as having bunged up or as "on the bung" or "gone bung". A person pretending to be hurt is said to be "bunging it on". A hurt person could say, "I've got a bung knee".

Perhaps its worth commenting here though that 'being bunged up' is a common local description of constipation in Cheshire - and one that obviously derives from bunging or sealing a bottle.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Death on the Silver River

One of the precious gifts of the Internet is the ability that it provides to retrace one’s steps in life by researching documents, memoirs and blogs about times and places.

Everywhere that I have worked internationally as an Economic Consultant, I have also tucked away in my memory local stories – and I can now unearth most of these and give them colour.

In 1974, I was a member of a consulting team that produced the ‘North Perak Regional Planning and Development Study’, and I spent 6 months in Ipoh preparing the recommendations on industrial development.

The story that I garnered there was the tale of the Demise of the British Resident of Perak, J.W.W. Birch in 1875. My understanding was that he met an essentially unhygienic and un-heroic end - speared while smoking a cheroot, toileting over the Perak River.

I believed that, as was so often reported in this era; ‘Queen Victoria was not amused’.

I present a more accurate and extensive account below. [There is excellent additional reading at the Sejarah Melayu Library online, developed by Sabri Zain found at: http://www.sabrizain.org/malaya/library/index.htm]


The British interest in disputing and maintaining maritime control over the Straits of Malacca from British India led to intervention in Peninsula Malaya. In the 19th century, the Sultanate of Perak was relatively weak and it was only British intervention in 1820 that prevented Siam (Thailand) from annexing it.

This led on to the annexation of the Straits Settlement in 1826, as territories controlled by the British East India Company. The Straits Settlements consisted of the individual settlements of Malacca, Penang (also known as Prince of Wales Island), and Singapore.

The establishment of the Straits Settlements followed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, by which the Malay archipelago was divided into a British zone in the north and a Dutch zone in the south. This gave the British undisputed control of Singapore. The Straits Settlements capital was moved from Penang to Singapore in 1832.

The Straits Settlements came under direct British control as a Crown Colony on 1 April 1867 and this in turn involved the British Government in the politics of the neighbouring Malay Sultanates.

It appears that the British were initially reluctant to establish a colonial presence in inland Malaya. However, increasing development of the tin mines of Perak brought an influx of Chinese immigrants, who formed rival clan groups allied with Malay chiefs and local gangsters, battling to control the mines. The Perak sultanate, involved in a protracted succession struggle, was unable to maintain order.

At the behest of English and Chinese merchants, the unreliable and duplicitous Raja Muda Abdullah was persuaded to approach Governor Sir Andrew Clarke to place Perak under British protection, requesting from the British ‘a man of sufficient abilities to show (him) a good system of government.’ The British then confirmed their support for Abdullah’s succession.


The subsequent Pangkor Treaty required that the new Sultan should accept a British Resident, who would control all administrative issues ‘other than those pertaining to religion or Malay custom’.

James Wheeler Woodford Birch, commonly known as J. W. W. Birch (3 April 1826 - 2 November 1875) was the first British Resident in Perak, which became a British Protectorate. Birch was killed on 2 November 1875 at Pasir Panjang on the Perak River.

Sir Frank Swettenham who was a subsequent Governor, describes the event in the following terms in his ‘Malay Sketches’ (1895):

‘Meanwhile, Mr Birch had handed to his interpreter some more proclamations (setting out the role of the Resident) to replace those removed, and, after giving directions to prepare his breakfast, went to the China-man’s bath-house to bathe, leaving a Sikh orderly at the door with a loaded revolver.

This bath house was of the type common in Perak, two large logs floating in the stream, fastened together by cross-pieces of wood, and on them built a small house with mat sides about five feet high, and a roof closing on the sides but leaving open triangular spaces at front and back. The structure is so moored that it floats parallel to the bank, and a person even standing up inside it cannot see what is taking place on the shoreclose by.

The interpreter disposed of, Pandak Indut cried out, “Here is Mr Birch in the bath house, come let us kill him”, and followed by three or four others shouting amok, amok, they leapt on the floating timbers and thrust their spears through the open space in front of the house.

At that time, the men in the boats could see Mr Birch’s head above the mat wall – it disappeared without any sound from him. A moment after he came to the surface of the water astern of the house. Some of the murderers were already waiting there, and one of them, a man called Siputum, slashed the Resident over the head with a sword.

He sank and was not seen again.’


The general assessment is that Birch was assassinated because of his disrespect for local customs and traditions, and his poor diplomacy with local Malay chiefs. He was regarded as arrogant - and disrespectful of even the Sultan. Another interpretation is that the outlawing of slavery was the main reason why Birch was assassinated.

The direct instigator of the assassination, Dato Maharaja Lela apparently drew income from a range of corrupt practices, including capturing and selling the local indigenous people, the Orang Asli, as slaves.

Birch was recorded as saying: "it concerns us little what were the customs of the country nor do I think they are worthy of any consideration".

With respect to Dato Maharaja Lela, an article in the New Straits Times (7 June 1993) pays tribute to him as ‘the famed Malay warrior who stood up to the excessive demands of the British’.

In the aftermath of the assassination, there was a short-lived Perak War in 1867. Sultan Abdullah was deposed and sent to exile in Seychelles. Dato Maharaja Lela and others involved in the death of Birch were hanged. The new resident, Sir Hugh Low, was well versed in the Malay language and customs, and proved to be a more capable administrator. He also introduced the first rubber trees to Malaya.

Still standing in front of the Ipoh State Mosque, is the Birch Memorial unveiled in 1909. This is a square clock tower comprising a portrait bust and four panels illustrating the growth of civilisation.

At the corners of the belfry, mounted on pedestals, are terracotta figures, representing the four "Virtues of British Administration":
• Loyalty, with sword and shield
• Justice, blind and carrying a sword and a pair of scales
• Patience, unarmed, and
• Fortitude, with a calm face and bearing a spear (some irony here).

On a more personal note, Birch was described by R.O. Windstedt and R. J. Wilkinson in The History of Perak as "a lonely pathetic figure of an Englishman with narrow rigid ideas as his daily companions".

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Alice Ellen Cottingham: Early Life 1909 - 1927 (in her own words)


I am Alice Johnson, 85 years old, and this is April 25, 1995. I was born in 1909 in the City of London, within the sound of Bow Bells in Shoreditch. My father and mother were James Cottingham and Alice Packham. My father was born in Hull and my mother in Peckham. I had two brothers James and Lionel, and a sister Beatrice.

When I was a little girl, we moved to a flat in Lewisham. It was a downstairs flat with no bathroom and an outside toilet. We had two bedrooms, a large sitting room and a large kitchen diner. In the diner was a range, a coal fire that we did all our cooking on. When we wanted a bath we had to fill the copper up with water, get the hot water on the range and fill the tin bath.

The coal man used to deliver the coal at the door at a hundredweight per week. He delivered by horse and cart. We had many delivery people with horse and cart but some delivery mean used to pull a barrow with their merchandise. They sold oil for lamps, nuts and toffee apples, dried meat for cats, milk, muffins, winkles and shrimps etc. The meat man used to put the meat on a skewer and drop it through the letter box for the cat and pick up his payment next time.

Down the road from us lived a couple who had ten children who had only one pair of shoes between them. If they had to go to the hospital or to see the doctor, they had to wear the communal shoes. For the little ones, the shoes were far too big. For the older, they were far too small. They used to play out in the road without shoes. They were a strong and healthy family. Their flat had shelves set up the walls as bunks. The father was a printer who earned good money but there were too many children.

My brother Jim used to play with the boy next door in the street. One day Ginger had Jim on his shoulders and fell. Jim smashed his face on the ground and that is why his teeth are crooked.

We did have it tough in our younger years but mother was very good and we were mainly happy.

For dinners we always had a good homemade soup with everything in it. Afterwards we always had a pudding - apple pudding, raisin pudding or rice pudding. On a Sunday, my mother always cooked a roast dinner. We were well fed as my mother, during the First World War, worked in the Arsenal in the kitchens. When they were finished in the kitchen, the food was brought home for us. In the evening, we would amuse ourselves by reading, playing board games and sitting around the kitchen table and talking. The boys had plenty of homework.

Life is so different today. We used to go to church three times on a Sunday dressed in our Sunday-best that we did not wear all week. As we were not allowed out very much, we did not mind going out to church. When my mother wanted some fresh mint leaves for cooking, we go on a Sunday, all dressed up to see the lady, who would pull up some fresh mint.This lady always made a great fuss of us children and gave us sweets. We could eat so many sweets that we would not want any dinner.

The school that I went to was Loampit Vale. It was a nice little school. We only had one teacher to take all the classes. I used to play Netball when I could. I could not stand up long or I fainted. The class used to leave the classroom for prayers but I used to stay behind and do some sewing for the teacher. When I was fourteen I had a sewing machine – that is what I have done all my life.

We used to play hopscotch, hide and seek, hoop and stick that we played along the road. My parents would not allow us to play in the road. All the other children in the road used to go out to play.

My father was in the Marines. As a young man, he joined up and he was a Marine in the First World War in 1914, when I was 5 years old. He got rheumatic fever in the First World War and had to leave the Marines – and was too old for the Second World War that came in 1939. My father travelled everywhere and he was fond of Japan – he had Geisha Ladies tattooed on his arms.

When I was about 8 years old, I was run over by an automobile. It was during the First World War and my father came home on leave and sent me out to buy some cigarettes. He said to me here is a shilling, buy a packet of 20 cigarettes for 11 pence halfpenny – and they used to put the halfpenny change from the shilling in the packet.

In those days there were not many cars on the road. I was standing behind the Baker’s horse and cart when I stepped in the road and a car came around the corner and knocked me right over the top and under the car, which dragged me to the Clock Tower in Lewisham (about ¾ mile).

The couple in the car had just got married – he was a Naval Officer and they were off on their honeymoon.

When they got me from under the car, the people got the bride out and told the man to drive me to Miller Hospital in Greenwich, which is now pulled down. I spent about three years going back and forwards to that place. I had my head split open, I was nearly scalped and the scar still shows. I had a broken nose and all sorts of things wrong with me. I lost a lot of blood.

It took me years and years before I made up the loss of blood, till I was 18 years old. I had to drink a lot of milk and used to take it to school in a tin can that had a lid – it was horrible. I was also sent down to Lee Green where there was a butcher’s slaughter house to drink a cup of ox blood twice a week from the freshly slaughtered ox. I also had to eat raw liver. I did everything to make my blood up. They did not have blood transfusions in those days.

I began to feel better when I was 18 and then I met a couple of lads who used to cycle. One of them asked me to tandem with him and we went all over the place – around the Cotswolds and everywhere. That was the making of me with the fresh air and exercise. It was marvellous.

We had moved from Lewisham to Bellingham when I was in my teens. There, I started an apprenticeship as a milliner and eventually ended up in town designing hats in a factory. The first year of my apprenticeship I did not earn any money. The second I was paid enough to buy my pins and the third was very little. When I was an ‘improver’, I earned 7s 6d per week. That was a lot of money in those days. When I left work at 29 years old, I was earning four pounds a week – that was more than my husband earned!

The factory was in City Road, which runs through North London, and it was situated next to some buildings called Peabody Buildings. They were built for old people. The rats used to come up from the water, climb the walls and, if the old people hung a leg of lamb out of a window on string to keep it fresh, the rats would bite the string – and the string and the lamb and the rat would fall after it and then the rats would feast.

In the factory, they had a lot of straw to make the hats. If the hats were left in a cupboard overnight the rats would eat the hats. The rat man in the basement, who used to do the blocking, would come a couple of evenings a week with a shot gun and shoot the rats as they moved around the beams in the workroom.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cardinal Wolsey and the Aleppo Hamster

Recent mitochondrial DNA studies have established that all domestic golden hamsters are descended from one female – probably the one captured in 1930 in Aleppo, Syria by Israel Aharoni, a zoologist and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1980, Wesley Brown noted that there were relatively few differences in the mtDNA of human beings, as compared to the levels of difference found in other primates – for example chimpanzees. This suggested that humans share a much more recent common ancestor than other primates do.

Human beings are not as closely inbred as domesticated hamsters – though in terms of the Natural World in general, there isn’t actually that much difference between hamsters and humans. Rather than best being characterized as mongrels we are more properly all classified (all 6-7 billion of us) as purebreds.

As most of us are already aware, all 6-7 billion of the human beings alive today share a male-line ‘Most Recent Common Ancestor’ or Concestor. This man has been termed the ‘Y-chromosomal Adam’. He probably lived between 90,000 and 60,000 years ago.

In non-scientific terms, Adam’s female counterpart is Mitochondrial Eve. She is estimated to have lived around 200,000 years ago. Unlike Adam, she is not a Concestor. This woman is 'simply' the most recent person to whom all people can trace their female-line genealogy. She is the actual matrilineal ancestor of us all. Since mtDNA are inherited maternally and recombination is either rare or absent, it is relatively easy to track the ancestry of the lineages back.

She wasn't the only woman alive when she was living - it is simply that of the women who were alive at that time, her mitochondrial dna best survived. And the dna of the other women didn't disappear - as it is non-mitochondrial it is simply not separately identifiable.

Rohde, Olson & Chang (2004) 'indicate that the overwhelming majority of humans have a recent common ancestor within the last 5000 years (albeit between any two individuals, it may not be the same ancestor), however the genetic relationship between well diverged individuals may not reflect the theoretical relationship, as geographic and cultural barriers may slow gene migration’.

Taking up this point, Richard Dawkins (The Ancestor’s Tale) makes some interesting general observations, using model estimates:

‘Everyone alive in the world at the time of Geoffrey Chaucer (say 1450) will have either the entire world population as descendants or no descendants at all’.

‘The point in time at which everybody was either the ancestor of all modern British people or of none, is only about 40 generations, or about 1000 AD’.

And it only takes the construction of a very simple EXCEL spreadsheet to illustrate the explosion in the numbers of ancestors that we all have, as the generations pass. I have done this below, basing it on my own birth date 1944:

Birth-Generation-Numbers of Ancestors

1917-2-4 (Father born 1909, mother 1915)
1836-5-32 (All 32 great, great grandparents identified)
1782-7-128 (Earliest paternal ancestor - Shorrocks)
1485-18-262,144 (Earliest relative - Lubbock)
1053-34-17,179,869,184 (Norman Conquest)

432-57-144,115,188,075,856,000 (Anglo-Saxon 'Replacement' starts)

0-73-9,444,732,965,739,290,000,000 (The Roman World)

Of course, the reality is that we share our dna through 'diamonds' rather than constantly widening 'triangles'. This is because, beyond a certain point, the progenitors of one of our sets of ancestors also become the progenitors of another set of our ancestors. This is particularly true within geographically restricted ancestral homelands.

So, for example, both my father's father and my mother's maternal grandfather may also share an ancestry with Cardinal Wolsey.


Thomas Lubbock is one of the earliest people who can be named in my Family Tree: Thomas LUBBOCK*, 161
Bapt: 18 Mar 1586/1587, Erpingham, Norfolk, England
30 Mar 1672/1673
Burial: 25 Oct 1673, Erpingham, Norfolk, England

Spouse: Mary WOLSEY, 162
Death: 1669
Burial: 14 Nov 1669
Marr: 27 Jun 1614

Now it is known that the Tudor-era senior public servant and mercantilist economist Cardinal Wolsey (he apparently spelt his name as Wulcy) originated in East Anglia. His family and a branch of mine therefore share a common geographic origin.

Thomas Wolsey was born circa 1471, the son of Robert Wolsey of Ipswich (1438–85) and his wife Joan Daundy. His father was widely thought to have been a butcher and a cattle-dealer.

Although he was a Catholic priest, Cardinal Tom had a long-term mistress Joan Larke who was born around 1490 in Yarmouth, Norfolk - another geographic link.

I have no hesitation then in claiming that I am directly related to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, with the link being confirmed by the marriage of my ancestor Thomas Lubbock to Mary Wolsey in 1614.

On the other hand, we are talking links here within a body of between 500,000 and 1 million of potentially shared ancestors - many of whom, as we have noted, are surely cross-related both to me and to you.

My (& your) genealogical links to the Aleppo Hamster can also be similarly established though they are not quite so direct.


The fact that we are all genetically related in the not too distant past becomes very obvious in the case of famous people for whom cursory records and sufficiently creative research is available.

In the case of newly settled countries like the USA, the Founder Effect amplifies these linkages. Simply stated, the few early settlers have a proportionately greater influence on a population that is rapidly expanding from high rates of natural increase and high rates of immigration.

It is therefore quite possible that although, overall, the number of German immigrants to the USA exceeded the number of English immigrants, the proportion of the population that has one or more English ancestors is greater than the proportion that has one or more German ancestors.

Take President Barack Obama as an example.

It seems that through his mother Ann Dunham, President Obama can trace his ancestry back to Richard Singletary who was born around 1599 in England. When Richard’s son Jonathan moved from Massachusetts to New Jersey about 1665, he changed his name from Jonathan Singletary to Jonathan Dunham alias Singletary – for reasons unknown.

Ancestry details for Barack Obama compiled by William Addams Reitwiesner are available at:


Overall, the genealogical research suggests that through his mother Stanley Ann Dunham, US President Barack is distantly related to U.S. Presidents James Madison, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. He is also apparently also related to British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, U.S. Civil War General Robert E. Lee, and actor Brad Pitt, as well as Edward I of England (and through him to Queen Elizabeth II) - and Elvis Presley.

The President’s daughters Sasha and Malia Obama are eligible to join the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) through 14 ancestors.

But then much of this (excluding the Revolutionary bit) applies to most of those who have English / UK roots of some kind. In fact it has been claimed that anyone who can prove an English ancestor living pre-1750, is inevitably related to the Royal Family.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Continuity & Replacement: What can we learn from New Zealand?

Oppenheimer assumes the 'mantle of a genetic detective' in his book 'The Origins of the British'. Adjusting his deerstalker hat and his meerchaum pipe, he tries to reconcile his findings about the relatively low contribution of Anglo-Saxon male-line ydna in England with the rapid supplanting of the original Celtic languages by English.

He deduces the prior existence of a Germanic language in southern England in the Pre-Roman period and claims that this laid the foundations for the wider language shift.

However, he is not able to present any tangible evidence whatsoever to support his hypothesis.

Oppenheimer's Continuity Hypothesis is not shared by all and there is something of a mother and father of a row between experts about the issue - with respect to both the language and the ydna evidence.

The alternative Replacement view is given below.


Jonathan Shaw explains, writing on the intersection of written history, genomics, evolution, demography, and molecular archaeology:

"There are no signs of a massacre—no mass graves, no piles of bones. Yet more than a million men vanished without a trace. They left no descendants.

Historians know that something dramatic happened in England just as the Roman empire was collapsing. When the Anglo-Saxons first arrived in that northern outpost in the fourth century a.d.—whether as immigrants or invaders is debated—they encountered an existing Romano-Celtic population estimated at between 2 million and 3.7 million people. Latin and Celtic were the dominant languages.

Yet the ensuing cultural transformation was so complete, says Goelet professor of medieval history Michael McCormick, that by the eighth century, English civilization considered itself completely Anglo-Saxon, spoke only Anglo-Saxon, and thought that everyone had “come over on the Mayflower, as it were.”

This extraordinary change has had ramifications down to the present, and is why so many people speak English rather than Latin or Celtic today. But how English culture was completely remade, the historical record does not say.

Then, in 2002, scientists found a genetic signature in the DNA of living British men that hinted at an untold story of Anglo-Saxon conquest. The researchers were sampling Y-chromosomes, the sex chromosome passed down only in males, from men living in market towns named in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Working along an east-west transect through central England and Wales, the scientists discovered that the mix of Y-chromosomes characteristic of men in the English towns was very different from that of men in the Welsh towns: Wales was the primary Celtic holdout in Western Britannia during the ascendance of the Anglo-Saxons.

Using computer analysis, the researchers explored how such a pattern could have arisen and concluded that a massive replacement of the native fourth-century male Britons had taken place. Between 50 percent and 100 percent of indigenous English men today, the researchers estimated, are descended from Anglo-Saxons who arrived on England’s eastern coast 16 centuries ago.

'So what happened? Mass killing, or “population replacement,” is one possible explanation. Mass migration of Anglo-Saxons, so that they swamped the native gene pool, is another."

This theory of course is easy to reconcile with the triumph of English over the Brythonic language of England's Romano-British inhabitants.

In countering this line of argument, Oppenheimer feels it necessary to invent the pre-existence of settlements of Germanic-language speakers.

Well, I think that I can strengthen the case for ydna continuity while retaining consistency with the history that there was an initially thoroughgoing Anglo-Saxon invasion and little prior Germanic influence.

In this 'Mixed Model' the intruder language is eventually adopted by all while the proportion of ydna from initially dominant immigrants becomes overwhelmed by the resurgence of the native population.

Here I believe New Zealand's ongoing relative shifts in ydna and language can provide a possible template.


The Model

The population of the original inhabitants is 100,000 prior to contact and subjugation by a dominant settler group. The intrusion is preceded by a period of savage inter-tribal warfare and population decline. The newcomers are welcomed initially for their capacity to impose order and security.

Within 60 years, the population of the indigenous group has declined to about 40,000 as a result of social collapse, introduced diseases and warfare with the intruders. The indigenous group now represent 7.5% of the total population.

The dominant settler group talk of ‘smoothing the pillow of the dying race’. They sing sagas to celebrate the demise of their erstwhile enemies:

Newer nations yet press onward:
Their brave warriors' fight is over —
One by one they yield their place,
Peace-slain chieftains of their race.

But the indigenous race is hardy and resourceful. They learn the intruders’ language. They enlist in the intruders’ armies and distinguish themselves in warfare. There is significant and expanding inter-marriage between the two groups.

The population of the indigenous group gradually recovers.

150 years after the onslaught of colonisation, looking at children in the 0-14 years old age category, 374,000 live in households who who at least in part identify with the indigenous group (& more recent immigrants from the periphery who share the same cultural background), while 577,000 live in households that identify in part with the settler group. There is a huge overlap and the gap itself is closing.

Two hundred or so years on from the initial subjugation event, the population of the indigenous group has reached 1 million. However, all the inhabitants increasingly see themselves as a united and distinct entity. English is the dominant everyday language.

Well, that's the history of New Zealand since 1840. Could it also explain the history of England from 440?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Native Sons

My reference in my previous post to ‘Vikings and Natives’ raises some interesting issues.

While there are only 6 YDNA test results in the Shorrock Surname Study, we have three distinct lines – and three distinct paternal ancestries. Two of these – 'North Country Ruy' and 'Rob' descend from the aboriginal British group - and the third 'Ian' is Viking. (i.e. R1b-13, R1b-8 and I1a).

This illustrates the revolution that has overtaken the understanding that the English have of their origins. Paraphrasing Oppenheimer from his 2006 book ‘The Origins of the British’:

‘The latest scientific evidence challenges the notion that the Romans found a uniformly Celtic population throughout the British Isles and that the indigenous folk of the English heartland fell victim to genocide and replacement by the Anglo-Saxons in the fifth and sixth centuries and by an admixture of Vikings somewhat later.

Research shows that these late invasions contributed a tiny fraction of the English gene pool. Two thirds of the English people show an unbroken line of genetic descent from south-western Europeans arriving long before the introduction of farming and the adoption of Celtic languages in Britain’.

All this has been something of a shock to the English who have been wont to regard themselves as best exemplified as a tall, blond, blue-eyed Germanic Race that seized and colonized England, wresting the land from shorter and darker aboriginals, who they drove into the mountains of Wales and Scotland before they set about subduing all of the native tribes of the British Isles

Myths are of course at the core of nationhood (neither of which I might add are taken too seriously by Buddhists – Joko Beck gave an interesting talk on this issue with the title ‘New Jersey does not exist’).

However, we are at liberty to inquire and interpret.

The problems arise when we start playing moralizing and playing politics. Oppenheimer cannot resist this:

‘England has, however, benefited from considerably more recent immigration. As transport improved, passenger ships began to cross the oceans between continents, with vessels, from the Empire Windrush’ onwards, bringing immigrants from Jamaica. With the advent of regular intercontinental air travel, immigrants now fly to the British Isles from all over the world. These islands have, as on numerous occasions before, changed from a multicultural to an even more multicultural society.

Not altogether surprisingly, Oppenheimer’s facts and deductions about the ‘mongrel nation’ can be turned on their heads, as illustrated by the following extract from the newspaper British Pride:

‘WE’VE ALWAYS BEEN HERE’: about Nick Griffin (Leader of the British National Party)
British Pride , 4th October 4, 2008

‘Nick Griffin shows that the argument put forward by the multiculturalists that ‘we are a mongrel nation of immigrants’ is a lie. Importantly he also reveals that the revolution in DNA studies indicates that the ancestors of some two-thirds of our indigenous population came to these islands at the end of the last Ice Age, and that those of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon ancestry are far fewer than originally thought.

All the evidence of the scientific revolution of DNA studies over the last few years points to the fact that two-thirds of the indigenous people of the British Isles are the direct descendents of the first pioneers who followed the retreating ice sheets at the end of the last glaciation, and the vast majority of the remainder of our ancestors arrived during Neolithic times.

The invasions of Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans which form the backbone of the ‘nation of immigrants’ story between them contributed little more than a ripple on our genetic pond. Far from being immigrants and ‘mongrels’, we the native folk of these islands, are the First People. We are the aborigines here and to deny that is both implicitly and explicitly racist’.

Well, we can all play numbers games and have a go at having the last word.

I had a wry smile though at Nick Griffin when I recently flipped through one of my father’s old books on British History (my father was a professional historian before he joined the RAF in 1942).

Charles Osman in his 1907 ‘History of England’, helping to create the original myth, has the following, none-too complimentary-things to say about the country’s aboriginal inhabitants:

‘First had come a short dark people, who knew not the use of metals, and wielded weapons of flint and bone. They were in the lowest grade of savagery, had not even learnt to till the soil and lived by fishing and hunting. They dwelt in rude huts, or even in the caves from which they had driven out the bear and the wolf... There are to this day regions where the survival of the ancient inhabitants can be traced by the preponderance of short stature and dark hair. Many such are to be found in both South Wales, and in the Highlands of Scotland’.

And Lancashire, it seems from my own YDNA – Ouch!

I end on an altogether more positive note about a Return of a Native Son:

Huffington Post, 16th December 2009

‘DUBLIN — Muhammad Ali made a sentimental journey Tuesday to discover his Irish roots, and met distant relatives during celebrations at the local town hall and a nearby castle.

Thousands lined the streets of Ennis, western Ireland, to cheer his motorcade as the three-time heavyweight champion visited the home of his great-grandfather Abe Grady.

Fans adorned streets with red, white and blue bunting and flags, while shop windows competed to display the most impressive posters honoring Ali – including one tongue-in-cheek portrait of him appearing ready to knock out an unpopular Irish politician.

Ali, who is 67 and battling Parkinson's disease, fought only once in Ireland, knocking out Alvin Lewis at Dublin's Croke Park on July 19, 1972.

Ali offered a few playful jabs to cameras but made no public comments and steered clear of throngs of autograph-seekers Tuesday, among them hundreds of kids whose schools closed early for the event. Police blocked off roads and kept crowds in line with railings.

Grady settled in Kentucky in the 1860s and married a freed slave. One of their grandchildren, Odessa Lee Grady Clay, gave birth to Ali – then Cassius Clay – in 1942.

Genealogists pinpointed Ali's Irish links in 2002, but Ali had never visited Ennis’.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shorrock(s) Country, Lancashire - Mellor Church & Pub

Vikings & Natives - Shorrock Hey!

I became interested male-line YDNA genetics, and in the Shorrock(s) family and its history, following the discovery (from male-line YDNA tests) that my grandfather changed his name from Harry Shorrocks to Harry Johnson when he left Salford around 1903 to 1905 and settled in south London.

In the light of this, I have become involved in the wider history of the Shorrock(s), Sharrock(s), Shurrock families and the degree to which people holding these names may descend from a common ancestor. The work of Professor Bryan Sykes who is a molecular biologist at Oxford University has suggested that around 50 percent of the males who share a relatively uncommon surname may descend from a single male progenitor.

Male line YDNA is a bit like a supermarket barcode that is passed down from generation to generation by the males in the family.

The website for the wider study that I am running can be found at:



From Syke’s work, it seemed probable that all the males who share one of the Shorrock(s), Sharrock(s), Shurrock and related surnames originate from a single ancestor (i.e. the name is monogenetic). The name apparently relates to a former hamlet 4 miles west of Blackburn in Lancashire called Shorrock Green (there was also a nearby place called Shorrock Hey). The name probably comes from Old English 'scora' = bank + 'ac' = oak.

In the 1881 Census nearly all the UK name holders (about 2,200 in total) were strongly focused on Lancashire. It seems that the variants may also be monogenetic in that they broke away from the parent name 'Shorrock' (1,480 people in 1881) one by one with specific ancestors being associated with each name. In 1881, the main localities and numbers were:

Shorrock (1,480) Blackburn,Preston,Haslingden
Sharrock (938) Wigan, Ormskirk, Bolton, Liverpool
Shorrocks (395) Bolton, Chorlton, Salford, Manchester
Sharrocks (352) Rochdale

The study aims to build friendship and kinship while exploring the inter-relationships between the family groups (including Shurrocks and other possible variants). In 1881 in the UK the Shurrocks group were heavily focused on Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

The results for the 6 people who have tested so far are summarised below.


Ken, Keith and John

John Shorrocks (Warwickshire, UK) and Keith Johnson / Shorrocks are confirmed as directly related through James Shorrocks, Brushmanufacturer of Salford, England born c1796. John is a descendant of James' son Edwin Shorrocks and Keith is a descendant of another of James' sons Walter Shorrocks. This solves a long-standing 'brickwall' in Keith's genealogy / family history, as Keith's grandfather Harry Shorrocks changed his name to Harry Johnson around 1905 when he moved from Salford to South London.

Interestingly, Keith's first inkling that there may have been a name change in his family from Shorrocks to Johnson came from a 12:12 match with Ken Grist on the Ysearch site. Keith and Ken then compared their markers at the 25:25 level and found a 24:25 match. Now Ken has a 25:25 match with John Shorrocks. It appears that the marker that Keith differs on with respect to Ken and John (464c) is sometimes prone to slipping back to the value of the marker that precedes it - hence his final four value sequence of 15:15:15:18 as compared to their 15:15:18:18.

The DNA that is shared by Keith, John and Ken has been typed using the classification devised by Stephen Oppenheimer for his study ‘The Origins of the British: a Genetic Detective Story – The Surprising Roots of the English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh’. Basically the DNA is ancestral, aboriginal northern English. However, this does not mean that it is Anglo-Saxon. It goes much deeper than the invasions from the eastern North Sea coast of the period 450 to 600AD. Rather, it stems from the first hunters in Britain who followed retreating glaciers north from the Catalonia (Barcelona area) of Spain around 8,000 years ago hunting for mammoths and other game.

Oppenheimer calls the wider gene cluster that contains this strand R1b-13. About 4 percent of males in the British Isles belong to the R1b-13 group. It is most prevalent in the English Pennines, Cumbria, North West Wales, South East Ireland and South Central Scotland. Our ancestors, over the period 8,000 BC to 2000BC, gradually evolved from hunters into livestock keepers and then to farmer cultivators of limited patches of oats, rye and other coarse grains. They would have spoken a Basque-related language. Their religion probably included the sacrifice of treasured objects and human victims to sacred waters and bogs.

At some point in the first millennium BC, they would have come into contact with more advanced Celtic speaking farmers moving in from the east. Gradually, the Basque-related language of those who lived in what is now England was superseded by a Celtic language akin to Welsh (known as Cumbric). By the time the Romans conquered Britain, our ancestors would have been drawn into Celtic tribes – the most important of which were the Brigantes, who straddled the English Pennines and had an offshoot in South East Ireland.

Overall, it is worth noting that the North West of England was relatively sparsely populated, backward and conservative until the 18th Century, in comparison to the south and east of England. It is likely that there were as few as 2,000 people in Lancashire 1500 years ago. The area then underwent successive conquests and settlements that led to the eventual abandonment of Cumbric in favour of English. The invaders included the Romans, the Northumbrian Angles, the Danes, Norse settlers from Ireland, and the Normans (with periodic invasions from Scotland). No doubt most of these strands can be found in our wider DNA profiles.
David and Larry


There was a new development in the study when David Sharrock joined. David Sharrock has set up an excellent website at:


David joined the study to test the hypothesis that the Sharrocks of Veryan Cornwall are indeed part of the extended Shorrock family from Lancashire.

The historic reference is as follows from a Heraldic Visitation in the 16th Century:

"Sharrockes of Ribbelsdale in Com. Lanc. first of wh. was Ralph Shorrock of Shorockhayes wch in the Barrons' Wars was advanced to be a Captaine and therein lost his life, his descent grewe poore, and when the Scotts overan the Northern borders & parte of Lancashire and Chesheire the most part of this familie fled into Dublyn in Ireland, where by the Corruption of the Irish Ideoam they were termed Sharlock wch name of necessitie they were constrained to hold in the time of King Henrie the Seventh."

(The Barons War took place between 1258 and 1267. Henry the seventh was on the throne from 1485 to 1509.)

However, the results indicate that David is not directly related to Ken, Keith and John. David’s results are from the same general family (over 10,000 years ago) but there is no recent link. David has what is termed a ‘Friesian haplotype profile’ which has a geographical focus on southern and eastern England.

David then sought another person with the same surname (Larry Sharrock) to test the possibility that he could link to Lancashire through them. The results were intriguing. They show that Larry has an even weaker link to Ken, Keith and John – and the same weak level of linkage to David. The probability is that Larry is a descendant of Norse / Viking settlers in North West England.

There seems to be some possibility that the original Sharrock in Cornwall enlisted or colluded with the Heralds to identify a location that could be ‘tied’ to a supposed manorial, aristocratic origin. This was the 16th Century equivalent of boosting one’s CV!


Keith identified a local subject John Shorrock from Feniscowles, near Blackburn when he visited Central Lancashire in September 2009.

Larry Sharrock has tested 12:12 with the new Study Member John Shorrock.

As already commented, Larry's YDNA appears to have a Viking tinge. The Vikings dominated the Irish Sea in the 7th and 8th Centuries and settled along the coast. In addition, in AD 902, significant numbers were expelled from Dublin and allowed to settle in Cheshire and Lancashire (e.g. the settlement of Thurstaston = Thor’s Stone Town, in the Wirral, Cheshire).

Two distinct groups therefore seem to be emerging in the wider Study Group that have direct links to Lancashire 1.) Larry Sharrock & John Shorrock, 2) Keith Johnson (Shorrocks), John Shorrocks, and Ken (Shorrock) Grist - with the first group being Viking, and the latter ‘indigenous’.

Whether one of these groups represents the original / authentic 'Shorrock' type tied to the small hamlets of Shorrock Green & Shorrock Hey, near Blackburn remains unproven.

It is interesting though that both Ken Grist's family and new subject John Shorrock's family both have links to Blackburn - perhaps there was a crossover / non-paternal event there at an early date.


There are possible multiple points of origin for the name in central / north Lancashire.

When I first started to research the name, I came across a reference to it being related to Sharoe Green - this was a hamlet that is now part of metropolitan Preston.

Ekwall's 'The Placenames of Lancashire' has this name as derived from 'scaru' (boundary), 'haugr' (hill) and mentions a reference to 'Charaudhoke', near Fulwood.

On the other hand, Ekwall derives Shorrock Green from 'the oak of Scorra' with Scorra being an Anglo-Saxon personal name, and cross-references a place called Scorranstone in Gloucestershire.

So it may simply be that we have multiple families because there were multiple placenames.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Paul Samuelson (15 May 1915 - 13 December 2009)

Paul A. Samuelson has died (Nobel Prize in Economics in 1970). He was a brilliant, innovative, questioning centrist who cared about costs and cared about people. He distrusted government but he also distrusted the rich. He gave advice that matched the needs of the times.

He was widely regarded as the 'foremost academic economist of the 20th century'. In terms of economic philosophy, he called himself "a 'modern' economist... in the right wing of the Democratic New Deal economists."

From the New York Times Obituary

'A historian could well tell the story of 20th-century public debate over economic policy in America through the jousting between Mr. Samuelson and Milton Friedman, who won the Nobel in 1976.

Unlike the liberal Mr. Samuelson, the conservative Mr. Friedman opposed active government participation in most areas of the economy except national defense and law enforcement. He thought private enterprise and competition could do better and that government controls posed risks to individual freedoms.

Mr. Samuelson said he had never regarded Keynesianism as a religion, and he criticized some of his liberal colleagues for seeming to do so.

The experience of nations in the second half of the century, he said, had diminished his optimism about the ability of government to perform miracles.

If government gets too big, and too great a portion of the nation’s income passes through it, he said, government becomes inefficient and unresponsive to the human needs “we do-gooders extol” - and thus risks infringing on freedoms.

But, he said, no serious political or economic thinker would reject the fundamental Keynesian idea that a benevolent democratic government must do what it can to avert economic trouble in areas the free markets cannot.

Neither government alone nor the markets alone, he said, could serve the public welfare without help from the other.

As nations became locked in global competition, and as the computerization of the workplace created daunting employment problems, he agreed with the economic conservatives in advocating that American corporations must stay lean and efficient and follow the general dictates of the free market.

But he warned that the harshness of the marketplace had to be tempered and that corporate downsizing and the reduction of government programs “must be done with a heart.”

Despite his celebrated accomplishments, Mr. Samuelson preached and practiced humility. The M.I.T. economics department became famous for collegiality, in no small part because no one else could play prima donna if Mr. Samuelson refused the role, and, of course, he did.

Economists, he told his students, as Churchill said of political colleagues, “have much to be humble about.”

Advice to President John H. Kennedy

In his report to President-elect Kennedy in 1961 on the state of the American economy, he wrote: "Various experts, here and abroad, believe that the immediate postwar inflationary climate has now been converted into an epoch of price stability. One hopes this cheerful diagnosis is correct.

However, a careful survey of the behavior of prices and costs shows that our recent stability in the wholesale price index has come in a period of admittedly high unemployment and slackness in our economy. For this reason it is premature to believe that the restoration of high employment will no longer involve problems concerning the stability of prices.

"Economists are not yet agreed how serious this new malady of inflation really is. Many feel that new institutional programs, other than conventional fiscal and monetary policies, must be devised to meet this new challenge.

But whatever the merits of the varying views on this subject, it should be made manifest that the goal of high employment and effective real growth cannot be abandoned because of the problematical fear that re-attaining prosperity in America may bring with it some difficulties; if recovery means a reopening of the cost-push problem, then we have no choice but to move closer to the day when that problem has to be successfully grappled with."

In this report to President-elect Kennedy, Professor Samuelson made certain minimal policy recommendations "that need to be pushed hard even if the current recession turns out to be one that can be reversed by next summer at the latest."

He urged strong support of pledged expenditure programs, including: increasing defense expenditures and foreign aid on a basis of merit and need, vigorously pushing educational programs, high priority for urban renewal and health and welfare programs, highest priority on improving unemployment compensation, acceleration of useful public works and highway construction programs, help for depressed areas programs, and natural resource development projects.

To stimulate residential housing, he recommended reducing mortgage rates, mortgage discounts, insurance fees, and extension of maximum amortization periods, and a step-up in the Federal National Mortgage Association mortgage purchasing program.

In monetary policy he specifically urged more reliance upon short term issues (to nudge a reduction in long term rates), and decisive actions to improve the US international balance of payments position.

On the question of unemployment levels, Professor Samuelson made these comments in an interview with U.S. News World Report in December, 1960:

"I think, without question, that unemployment of more than 6 per cent is something to be concerned about. You don't push the panic button, but you don't relax and enjoy it either... I myself don't believe in a numbers game in which you give a maximum tolerable percentage, because I think, truly, it does vary with the times...

I would hesitate to specify the figure today, but I will say this: it would be, in my mind, less than a 4 per cent figure - that is, for the period ahead. I would not, realistically, think we could hope for a 2 per cent figure in the near future, as certain European countries have been able to do. But I do think that if we are pretty zealous in this matter and insist upon getting low figures - say, 3.5 per cent - then our very success in accomplishing that may lead to a new epoch just beyond when we could hope to go below 3 per cent... "

A further question in the interview asked what degree of responsibility the government has to insure high employment.

Replied Professor Samuelson: "I think I would say simply that the American people have expressed the choice that it is their concern to see that large departures from high employment will not be tolerated... I never look upon the government as something in Washington that does something to us or for us.

I think of public policy as a way in which we organize our affairs, and so I do think it is part of fiscal responsibility and monetary-policy responsibility to be discontented with the sort of unemployment we had in the prewar decade, and with the sort of exuberant booms leading to crises and panics that we have had throughout the history of our capitalistic system."

Summing up, he made this prediction for the decade: "I think the '60s will give us the potentiality of very good growth. More and more of our social problems of the past are, in fact, being licked. So I would face the '60s not complacently, but optimistically."

In his own words: Advice to President Obama

The new president will be splashed with contradictory advice.

Here is my suggestion: Seek the middle way by being a centrist.

That's not because you can't make up your mind. On the left are the failed notions of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Castro and Mao. All of these were like idiotic Keystone cops when it came to organising any large economy. On the right are the extremist libertarian views of the post-Reagan crowd. Yes, market systems alone can preserve this millennium's affluence and progress.

However, unregulated markets will generate their own demise, as we have seen.

Centrists are doomed to have to make compromises. In good times, it can be folly to keep bumbling Detroit auto companies in business. (Harvard's Joseph Schumpeter called this "capitalism in an oxygen tent.") When rates of unemployment swell to 10 per cent or above, a different decision might be justifiable.

Dropping newly printed greenbacks from helicopters can be one way to generate growth. Such new currency will get spent rather than being hoarded or saved.

However, spending that new currency on roads to somewhere will be better than roads to nowhere.

In Japan, construction-industry lobbyists determined where public spending should be directed. In America we can do better, provided that the old Bush gang has become only an unpleasant memory.

Moral: Be centrist in your decisions about helping the poor as well as the middle classes. Females and Hispanics and others who come late to the feast deserve justice in the centrist court.

Those who presume to give advice become boring fast. Still, I will offer a final important caveat. A centrist must, of necessity, be a "limited" centrist. A centrist can be successful only in a limited degree to lessen the inequalities that are inevitable in a market system.

That's far from abolishing most inequality. To pursue that unobtainable, quixotic goal would be a sure way to plunge the modern world back into the past stages of stagnation.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Xmas Greetings from across the Ditch (i.e. The Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand)

My niece Diane writes in her Xmas Letter from her home in Brisbane of her daughter Imogen and husband Michael:

'Imogen turns 14years old on 27th December and I think I can truly say that she is a teenager in many ways now. She’s had a good year at school and has enjoyed being in the choir and doing her elected subjects, especially drama and business. She has continued jazz dancing and soccer.

Michael was the soccer team manager again and his most glorious moment was getting his medal at the grand final. Unfortunately, they just missed out but the lead up to that last game was very exciting. She has made some great friends through soccer and a group of them have made a futsal team in order to keep their fitness going during the summer.

With respect to the Blog, she comments:

It was great to hear from you and I checked out your blog. I have to say it made me cry, (but I'm a very sentimental old Hector!).

I loved seeing the photos (Beeston Castle - that set me off - Meg meant a lot to me. Ross, the boys, Horace etc.)

All very interesting to read though. Keep in touch. It was nice to see some up to date photos of the boys. Hope you have a great Christmas. Lots of love Di

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sam's 7th Birthday Party

One of Kusama's 'Otherworlds'

Kusama and 'Trance & Magic in the Painted Cave'

Our Wellington City Gallery is running a wonderful exhibition of the work of the zany, crazy and obsessive Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. She is renowned for 'her life-long interest in visual perception and sensory experiences, her fixation with repetitive patterns and forms, her iconic use of dots and her dizzying installations'.

'Mixing Op Art, Pop Art and sculptural practice, her all-enveloping room-installations mirrored to infinity are hallucinatory, surreal and utterly unlike anything else you will experience in the art world'.

Well perhaps - unless you step back to the Cave Paintings of our prehistoric ancestors or sideways to those of, say, the Hottentots in the Drakensbergs, South Africa or the Aboriginal people of the Kimberleys, Western Australia.

Clottes and Lewis Williams have proposed that the walls of such caves were a portal into another dimension that could be accessed through ancient cave paintings.

'Perhaps the Otherworld was located behind, or inside, the rocks. The painter shamans appear to have entered altered states of consciousness in order to get in touch with the spiritual realm. They were the mediators between our reality and our needs and the Otherworld, the home of the gods who had been identified as responsible for the creation of this world.

The cave was therefore the first temple, where sacred space was created to allow contact with the divine. It was in its innermost recesses, in the belly of Mother Earth, that the Otherworld was closest – and where the darkness of the cave created a silence and solitude everyday reality did not offer'.

Well these ideas certainly have resonance when you step inside a Kusama artwork alone. You enter a cave and face challenges to your sense of reality.

Not altogether surprising then that the grim-faced little painter claims 'I, Kusama, am the modern Alice in Wonderland' - who fell and fell deep into the Earth.

Tom Paine & the Australian Light Horse

Browsing yesterday in the Ferret Bookshop in Cuba Street, I decided to see whether I could buy a replacement copy of Tom Paine's 'Age of Reason'. Its the sort of book to carry in one's breast pocket when leaving the trenches to open up a public policy front - I'm convinced it has protective powers against the heavy artillery of bureaucracy.

I was introduced to Tom Paine while going bush with Jack Kelly back of Cairns and up into the Cape Yorke Peninsula of Australia in 1967. We were interviewing cattle station owners and operators in the Outback. His main interest lay in the closer settlement of inland Australia - mine in the pure economics of transport investment and land development.

Jack was an extraordinary character who proudly blended the larrikin history of the Outback with a fierce Irish nationalism. It was not surprising that a fiery, highly opinionated Irish-Australian should clash with a measured and somewhat pedantic Newcomeover Englishman - echoes of a clash that has been happening for generations.

It did leave though one last impression on me. Tom Paine was the only Englishman that Jack was prepared to admit into his pantheon of heroes. He quoted with reverence Paine's axiom 'My country is the World - to do good is my Religion'.

It is hard to go past that. I ended up building Paine's words into my own outlook on the world. So I owe a great debt to Jack - 'you old bastard!'

Jack H. Kelly (1895-1983)

Biographical Note

1895 - Born 17 May, at Hornsby, NSW.
1907 - Left home for two years; worked in mining, shearing, timber industries
1909? – Trainee opera singer in Italy (personal statement to me)
1914-19 - Served in Australian Imperial Force (as a mounted trooper in the Australian Light Horse force fighting against the Turks in Palestine)
1919-40 - Farmed a block in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area as part of the Soldier Settlement Scheme – suffering considerable hardship during the Great Depression
1925-37 - Landholders' advocate in the Land and Valuation Court.
1927 - Elected president of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Authority.
1928 - Elected president of Wade-Mirrool Irrigation Area Shire Council.
1937-45 - Member of Statutory Special Land Board, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area
1940-44 - Served in RAAF.
1941 - United Country Party candidate for Murrumbidgee in the State elections.
1945-47 – Appointed (with wide powers) to War Service Land Settlement Scheme (WSLS).
1949 - Snowy Mountains Scheme established. Kelly played a major role in its development and implementation.
1948-60 – Founding member of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Surveyed the cattle industry in Northern Australia, resulting in a major report published in 1952. Retired in May, 1960.
1961-64 - Involved in Beef Roads Scheme in Northern Australia.
1967-74 - Honorary Fellow, Department of Economic History, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University
1983 - Died April, in Canberra, aged 88.


1952: Report on the Beef Cattle Industry in Northern Australia.
1958: Beef Industry Studies in Northern Australia: Economic Survey of Queensland's Gulf Region.
1959: The Beef Cattle Industry in the Leichhardt-Gilbert Region of Queensland: An Economic Survey.
1966: The Struggle for the North.
1966-67: Human rights for aborigines: a prerequisite for northern development.
1967: Northern Australia's Beef Cattle Economy: A Major Field Study in 1967.
1971: Beef in Northern Australia.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Post-War Boys, 1948

The picture shows Keith with his cousins Christopher and David Clarke. Keith is on the left, being held in check by sister Sue aged 11. The photograph was taken at 'Linwood', Wistaston, near Nantwich - the suburban house occupied by Meg after she left Loughton, Essex in early 1944.

I have a sense of resistant and diffident boys, adrift from missing or aloof fathers - the generation of young men that later cut loose in the 1960s as they discovered their own (in the case of these cousins, very different) paths.

P.S. A tinge of envy still at David's Bus Conductor's ticket-clipper - toys were in very short supply!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Public Policy and the 'Trolley Problem'

Well – for starters - What the hell is the Trolley Problem?

The Trolley Problem is a post-medieval ‘Angels on a Pinhead’ conundrum posed by modern philosophers and public policy analysts. Introduced some decades ago by Philippa Foot, it exemplifies ‘experimental philosophy’.

As Professor Simon Blackburn of the Department of Moral Science at the University of Cambridge explains: ‘Here a railway trolley is careering down a track, certain to kill five workers, unless you pull a lever deflecting onto a sidetrack – on which, unfortunately there is one worker who will then be killed. Is it permissible, or obligatory, to pull the lever? Would you say the same about pushing an innocent but fat bystander off a bridge into the path of the trolley, stopping it – but only by killing him?’

Experimental philosophers poll people on issues like this to probe the influence of responsibility, intention, proximity and outcomes, under various scenarios.

Peter Singer’s book set me thinking about this again.

He describes how his grandmother Amalie survived Theresienstadt and possible transportation to Auschwitz by making herself indispensable to the German authorities. Among her task was the compilation of lists for the transports - in response to demands from the Germans to the Camp Elders to organize quotas of Jews who were to be transported. As time passed, she was all too well aware that the transport dockets were death tickets and not passports to a new settlement.

Peter singer quotes Norbert Teller who was faced with similar dilemmas: ‘Self-doubts arise in all of us about our ethics, our humanity, fairness, justice, and decency’... and in ‘life threatening circumstances we relinquish hesitantly, slowly, unhappily all the rules, laws and principles of decency’... ‘Who can say today whether all of this was excusable? Whoever has not lived for a few weeks, months or even years in such a situation can hardly comprehend the indescribably immense power of self-preservation’.

Better I think that philosophers and public policy advisors consult biographies and family histories on ethics and morality, than that they postulate abstract problems that allow them and their guinea pig subjects to pretend to play God.

One possible test of good public policy formulation could be that both the process and its outcomes exhibit and extend the best of common humanity - in the circumstances.

Meg at Haus Rheinland, Wiesbaden 1933

Well, looking for ‘Keith’s Connections’ are there any more personal links to Peter Singer’s history of the Oppenheim Family and the collapse of morality in the Third Reich?

The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is ‘Yes’. The lattice of life connects Nantwich, Cheshire in the 1930s to Theresienstadt through Vienna and Wiesbaden.

In 1933, Keith’s future mother, 18 year old Mabel Kenyon Clarke, travelled to Germany to take up a position as a guest pupil at the House Rhineland, 34 Parkstrasse, Wiesbaden – a Finishing School for girls. It is a reasonable supposition that the placement resulted from the work of a foundation that sought to mend fences between the British and the Germans in the aftermath of World War I.

The brochure for House Rhineland begins by stating that ‘House Rhineland is a nice delightful house standing just in front of the very healthy Kurpark of Wiesbaden known all over the world on account of its beauty – a lovely source takes its murmuring way through bright paths. The rooms are bright, airy and homelike and the internal arrangements are thoroughly modern including central heating, electric light etc.’

It goes on to claim that it ‘receives young girls of good families and gives individual teaching on modern lines and calculated to develop individual gifts and to inculcate habits of self-reliance and duty. At the same time emphasis is laid upon the importance of good manners’.

Continuing (with the English gradually becoming more ragged), ‘The Kurhaus Concerts as well as the wellknown Opera have always been an attraction for Wiesbaden, Excursions to the famous Goethe-town of Francfort, to Darmstadt and Heidelberg, the dream of young students, as well as to the Castles and mountains of the Rhine are made’.

Finally it notes soberly that ‘As individual attention is given to each girl and as there will be only a limited number of girls there will be no allowance to leave the house without a chaperon’.

The fees were 35 Guineas per term, with extra charges of 4 shillings per course for special lessons. ‘Entrance fee 2 Guineas for use of plate and knives. Use of piano – half a Guinea per term etc.’

Meg had mixed feelings about the experience. She became warm friends with some of the girls (including having something of a crush it seems on ‘Erica’). They were young and fun-loving. When she first arrived, she was desperately homesick and she spoke no German. Seeing her hanging around the gate in the morning waiting for a letter from England, they advised her to inquire of the postman ‘Haben sie ein kuss fur mich’.

She also had a playful romance with a well-connected young German named Dieter – apparently he was a nephew of Goering. The story was that he used to yodel to her as he left their assignations. Extraordinarily, they kept in touch and he wrote after World War II telling her that fortunately he had fought on the Eastern Front (which meant for him that he did not have to face English enemies directly).

But there were also shadows. Meg attended a Nazi Rally that was addressed by Hitler. She came away shocked and fearful at the ranting of the speakers and the obsequious roaring of the crowd. She also recounted how the Head Mistress had recounted to her some comments from the townsfolk about the girls following a walk through the town. It was obvious it was said that one of the girls was not a pure German.

I will leave the reader to sketch in the relevance of the school’s emphasis on modernity, duty and good manners to the developments that took place in the Reich between the Wiesbaden of 1933 and Theresienstadt in 1943.