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Thursday, December 30, 2010

On the Road & Under Canvas !!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Posthumous Children - Some insights from Adam Smith and Jonathan Swift


In 1790, a 31 year old Dumfries farmer sat down one evening and penned a sweet and lilting poem ‘On the Birth of a Posthumous Child, born in peculiar circumstances of Family-Distress’. In the same year, another famous Scot died in Edinburgh, regretting that ‘he had not accomplished more'. He had been a posthumous child who had been born in June 1723 in Kirkcaldy, with fate left to 'guard the mother plant, and heal her cruel wounds'.

It is somewhat hard to see Adam Smith in Robert Burn’s lines, but the circumstances of the nativity fit:

‘May He who gives the rain to pour,
And wings the blast to blaw,
Protect thee frae the driving show'r,
The bitter frost and snaw.


Blest be thy bloom, thou lovely gem,
Unscath'd by ruffian hand!
And from thee many a parent stem
Arise to deck our land.’

Except that God, despite best entreaties, was frequently wrong-footed by Smith who walked miles in the rain in his nightgown mulling over his theories and, on one occasion, walked into a tanning pit and had to be rescued while touring a tannery.

He was regarded by contemporaries as an eccentric but benevolent intellectual, comically absent-minded, with peculiar habits of speech and gait, and a smile of "inexpressible benignity". Known for talking to himself, a habit that began during his childhood he would mutter to himself and smile in rapt conversation with invisible companions. He also had occasional spells of imaginary illness, and he is reported to have burrowed into his study through tall stacks of books and paper.

Reportedly an odd-looking fellow, with "a large nose, bulging eyes, a protruding lower lip, a nervous twitch, and a speech impediment", it seems that he had little confidence with the opposite sex and that he maintained a close relationship with his mother, with whom he lived for many years. Smith is said to have acknowledged problems with his looks at one point, saying, "I am a beau in nothing but my books."


Email to: Professor Michael Lamb, Head of the Department of Social and Development Psychology, University of Cambridge

Dear Michael

I was wondering whether you could kindly direct me to any research that is available on the social and developmental psychology of posthumous children?

As an example myself - my father was killed in the RAF on 14-10-1943 and I was born 09-06-1944 - the issue is of both personal and wider interest.Recently, I set out to write a Blog post on the issue [www.kjohnsonnz.blogspot.com] and found a void on the Internet, with the exception of a listing of examples. Perhaps then this is an avenue of research that remains largely unexplored.

Incidentally, I don't envy you being in Cambridge in the current winter - but at least you are likely to have heating and a roof - unlike one of the winters that I spent during my 3 years at Cats (1962-1965)!

All the best


[Dr Keith Johnson
Wellington, NZ]


Dear Keith

Interesting question, but I don't think it's one that has been explored directly and systematically. There have been articles about the effects of dead fathers, including those who died in military service, and a lot of work on family dynamics when men are missing (family not knowing their status).

All of those might be useful for a theoretical framework. I'm sure there are many, many people in situations like yours, and others whose situations are quite different (those fathered by occupying troops) but raise some similar issues.

I would love to see what you do and find.

Good luck!

Michael Lamb
Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ


On reading Michael’s email, I realized that adding ‘Dr’ to my name had confused the issue somewhat. I should have explained to him, as I used to explain to voters on my recent electoral campaign: ‘I’m not a real doctor, I’m an economist – don’t look to me to cure your headache – I probably caused it in the first place’.

Anyhow, I’m not one to back down on a challenge and half-remembered that Adam Smith had been a posthumous child. And that this likely had some bearing on his combination of empathy, rationality and breadth of view.

As prominent contemporary economist Amartya Sen explains:

‘Smith argued that our "first perceptions" of right and wrong "cannot be the object of reason, but of immediate sense and feeling". Even though our first perceptions may change in response to critical examination (as Smith also noted), these perceptions can still give us interesting clues about our inclinations and emotional predispositions.

One of the striking features of Smith's personality is his inclination to be as inclusive as possible, not only locally but also globally. He does acknowledge that we may have special obligations to our neighbours, but the reach of our concern must ultimately transcend that confinement. To this I want to add the understanding that Smith's ethical inclusiveness is matched by a strong inclination to see people everywhere as being essentially similar.

There is something quite remarkable in the ease with which Smith rides over barriers of class, gender, race and nationality to see human beings with a presumed equality of potential, and without any innate difference in talents and abilities’.

Some of these concerns and qualities are also evident in the work of another posthumous child, the Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift, whose character has been summarized in the following terms:

‘This great satirist of the eighteenth century was a genius of complex and enigmatic personality. His character was of a "supersensitive" nature. He possessed a strong sense of justice, a keenness of vision, a generous disposition, and a sincere adhesion to moral and social beliefs – as well as an affinity for practical jokes and a scorn for science but also displayed excessive pride, arrogance, misanthropy, fits of violent temper and a strain of insanity!

Some similarities in the views of Smith and Swift can also be picked up from the following quotes:

‘If a man would register all his opinions upon love, politics, religion, and learning, what a bundle of inconsistencies and contradictions would appear at last!’ - Jonathan Swift

‘On the road from the City of Skepticism, I had to pass through the Valley of Ambiguity’ – Adam Smith

‘The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman’ - Jonathan Swift.

‘What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?’ - Adam Smith


Maybe I’m drawing a long bow but I think I can discern some of the effects of Adam Smith’s early life in his ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’ (1759). I think that the circumstances of the births of both Smith and Swift led them at an early age to discern the frightening fragility in the human condition and the rapid passage of time – and that this led on to both of them trying to rouse and goad society to better foster talent and opportunity across the board.

As Swift used to toast “May you live all the days of your life”.

I’ll leave you the reader and the good Professor to decide from the extracts below. As for me, I found the exercise fascinating – though whether I subscribe to the ideas out of nature, nativity or nurture, I have yet to decide.


The infant, however, feels only the uneasiness of the present instant, which can never be great. With regard to the future, it is perfectly secure, and in its thoughtlessness and want of foresight, possesses an antidote against fear and anxiety, the great tormentors of the human breast, from which reason and philosophy will, in vain, attempt to defend it, when it grows up to a man.


We sympathize even with the dead, and overlooking what is of real importance in their situation, that awful futurity which awaits them, we are chiefly affected by those circumstances which strike our senses, but can have no influence upon their happiness.

It is miserable, we think, to be deprived of the light of the sun; to be shut out from life and conversation; to be laid in the cold grave, a prey to corruption and the reptiles of the earth; to be no more thought of in this world, but to be obliterated, in a little time, from the affections, and almost from the memory, of their dearest friends and relations.

Surely, we imagine, we can never feel too much for those who have suffered so dreadful a calamity. The tribute of our fellow-feeling seems doubly due to them now, when they are in danger of being forgot by everybody; and, by the vain honours which we pay to their memory, we endeavour, for our own misery, artificially to keep alive our melancholy remembrance of their misfortune.

That our sympathy can afford them no consolation seems to be an addition to their calamity; and to think that all we can do is unavailing, and that, what alleviates all other distress, the regret, the love, and the lamentations of their friends, can yield no comfort to them, serves only to exasperate our sense of their misery.


The happiness of the dead, however, most assuredly, is affected by none of these circumstances; nor is it the thought of these things which can ever disturb the profound security of their repose. The idea of that dreary and endless melancholy, which the fancy naturally ascribes to their condition, arises altogether from our joining to the change which has been produced upon them, our own consciousness of that change, from our putting ourselves in their situation, and from our lodging, if I may be allowed to say so, our own living souls in their in-animated bodies, and thence conceiving what would be our emotions in this case.

It is from this very illusion of the imagination, that the foresight of our own dissolution is so terrible to us, and that the idea of those circumstances, which undoubtedly can give us no pain when we are dead, makes us miserable while we are alive. And from thence arises one of the most important principles in human nature, the dread of death, the great poison to the happiness, but the great restraint upon the injustice of mankind, which, while it afflicts and mortifies the individual, guards and protects the society.


We approve, therefore, of the laughter of the company, and feel that it is natural and suitable to its object; because, though in our present mood we cannot easily enter into it, we are sensible that upon most occasions we should very heartily join in it.

The same thing often happens with regard to all the other passions. A stranger passes by us in the street with all the marks of the deepest affliction; and we are immediately told that he has just received the news of the death of his father. It is impossible that, in this case, we should not approve of his grief.

Yet it may often happen, without any defect of humanity on our part, that, so far from entering into the violence of his sorrow, we should scarce conceive the first movements of concern upon his account. Both he and his father, perhaps, are entirely unknown to us, or we happen to be employed about other things, and do not take time to picture out in our imagination the different circumstances of distress which must occur to him.

We have learned, however, from experience, that such a misfortune naturally excites such a degree of sorrow, and we know that if we took time to consider his situation, fully and in all its parts, we should, without doubt, most sincerely sympathize with him. It is upon the consciousness of this conditional sympathy, that our approbation of his sorrow is founded, even in those cases in which that sympathy does not actually take place; and the general rules derived from our preceding experience of what our sentiments would commonly correspond with, correct upon this, as upon many other occasions, the impropriety of our present emotions.

And hence it is, that to feel much for others and little for ourselves, that to restrain our selfish, and to indulge our benevolent affections, constitutes the perfection of human nature; and can alone produce among mankind that harmony of sentiments and passions in which consists their whole grace and propriety. As to love our neighbour as we love ourselves is the great law of Christianity, so it is the great precept of nature to love ourselves only as we love our neighbour, or what comes to the same thing, as our neighbour is capable of loving us.


We have some indulgence for that excessive grief which we cannot entirely go along with. We know what a prodigious effort is requisite before the sufferer can bring down his emotions to complete harmony and concord with those of the spectator. Though he fails, therefore, we easily pardon him.

The weakness of sorrow never appears in any respect agreeable, except when it arises from what we feel for others more than from what we feel for ourselves. A son, upon the death of an indulgent and respectable father, may give way to it without much blame. His sorrow is chiefly founded upon a sort of sympathy with his departed parent and we readily enter into this humane emotion.

But if he should indulge the same weakness upon account of any misfortune which affected himself only, he would no longer meet with any such indulgence. If he should be reduced to beggary and ruin, if he should be exposed to the most dreadful dangers, if he should even be led out to a public execution, and there shed one single tear upon the scaffold, he would disgrace himself for ever in the opinion of all the gallant and generous part of mankind.

Their compassion for him, however, would be very strong, and very sincere; but as it would still fall short of this excessive weakness, they would have no pardon for the man who could thus expose himself in the eyes of the world. His behaviour would affect them with shame rather than with sorrow; and the dishonour which he had thus brought upon himself would appear to them the most lamentable circumstance in his misfortune.


Our sympathy, on the contrary, with deep distress, is very strong and very sincere. It is unnecessary to give an instance. We weep even at the feigned representation of a tragedy. If you labour, therefore, under any signal calamity, if by some extraordinary misfortune you are fallen into poverty, into diseases, into disgrace and disappointment; even though your own fault may have been, in part, the occasion, yet you may generally depend upon the sincerest sympathy of all your friends, and, as far as interest and honour will permit, upon their kindest assistance too.

But if your misfortune is not of this dreadful kind, if you have only been a little baulked in your ambition, if you have only been jilted by your mistress, or are only hen-pecked by your wife, lay your account with the raillery of all your acquaintance.


To those who have been accustomed to the possession, or even to the hope of public admiration, all other pleasures sicken and decay. Of all the discarded statesmen who for their own ease have studied to get the better of ambition, and to despise those honours which they could no longer arrive at, how few have been able to succeed?

The greater part have spent their time in the most listless and insipid indolence, chagrined at the thoughts of their own insignificancy, incapable of being interested in the occupation of private life, without enjoyment, except when they talked of their former greatness, and without satisfaction, except when they were employed in some vain project to recover it.

Are you in earnest resolved never to barter your liberty for the lordly servitude of a court, but to live free, fearless, and independent?

We desire both to be respectable and to be respected. We dread both to be contemptible and to be contemned. But, upon coming into the world, we soon find that wisdom and virtue are by no means the sole objects of respect: nor vice and folly, of contempt.

We frequently see the respectful attentions of the world more strongly directed towards the rich and the great, than towards the wise and the virtuous. We see frequently the vices and follies of the powerful much less despised than the poverty and weakness of the innocent.


In the middling and inferior stations of life, the road to virtue and that to fortune, to such fortune, at least, as men in such stations can reasonably expect to acquire, are, happily in most cases, very nearly the same. In all the middling and inferior professions, real and solid professional abilities, joined to prudent, just, firm, and temperate conduct, can very seldom fail of success.

Abilities will even sometimes prevail where the conduct is by no means correct. Either habitual imprudence, however, or injustice, or weakness, or profligacy, will always cloud, and sometimes depress altogether, the most splendid professional abilities. Men in the inferior and middling stations of life, besides, can never be great enough to be above the law, which must generally overawe them into some sort of respect for, at least, the more important rules of justice.

The success of such people, too, almost always depends upon the favour and good opinion of their neighbours and equals; and without a tolerably regular conduct these can very seldom be obtained. The good old proverb, therefore, that honesty is the best policy, holds, in such situations, almost always perfectly true. In such situations, therefore, we may generally expect a considerable degree of virtue; and, fortunately for the good morals of society, these are the situations of by far the greater part of mankind.


Every man, as the Stoics used to say, is first and principally recommended to his own care; and every man is certainly, in every respect, fitter and abler to take care of himself than of any other person. Every man feels his own pleasures and his own pains more sensibly than those of other people. The former are the original sensations; the latter the reflected or sympathetic images of those sensations. The former may be said to be the substance; the latter the shadow.

After himself, the members of his own family, those who usually live in the same house with him, his parents, his children, his brothers and sisters, are naturally the objects of his warmest affections. They are naturally and usually the persons upon whose happiness or misery his conduct must have the greatest influence.

He is more habituated to sympathize with them. He knows better how everything is likely to affect them, and his sympathy with them is more precise and determinate, than it can be with the greater part of other people. It approaches nearer, in short, to what he feels for himself.

This sympathy too, and the affections which are founded on it, are by nature more strongly directed towards his children than towards his parents, and his tenderness for the former seems generally a more active principle, than his reverence and gratitude towards the latter. In the natural state of things, it has already been observed, the existence of the child, for some time after it comes into the world, depends altogether upon the care of the parent; that of the parent does not naturally depend upon the care of the child.

In the eye of nature, it would seem, a child is a more important object than an old man; and excites a much more lively, as well as a much more universal sympathy. It ought to do so. Everything may be expected, or at least hoped, from the child. In ordinary cases, very little can be either expected or hoped from the old man.

The weakness of childhood interests the affections of the most brutal and hard-hearted. It is only to the virtuous and humane, that the infirmities of old age are not the objects of contempt and aversion. In ordinary cases, an old man dies without being much regretted by anybody.

Scarce a child can die without rending asunder the heart of somebody’.

Sam's 8th Birthday Party in Shorland Park - The Gumboot Throwing Competition

Thursday, December 2, 2010

At every bazaar or sale-of-work she was a large contributor


Occasionally I find a friend who wants to pick up on his family history. I can assist here with advice, and when I was told of a link to one of early Wellington’s Jewish settlers Solomon Levy, I thought that there was a better than even chance that I would be able to help.

In fact I was able to order a book on the family for him from the Wellington City Library ‘Jane Harvey and Solomon Levy – a New Zealand family’ by Rachel F. Baskerville. This is the authoritative source for those who are interested in the family

Before I take the book back, I’ll log a brief report.

Solomon was born in 1817 into a poor London family (which nevertheless included Rothschilds in the maternal line). He arrived in Wellington on board one of the first ships ‘The Oriental’ in 1840, following a four and a half month voyage. The Oriental was a barque of 506 tons, commanded by Captain William Wilson, with Dr J. Fitzgerald as Surgeon Superintendent.

Immediately after arriving he was described as a carpenter living in Mt Cook, the area between the City and Newtown. Early on in the history of the city there is evidence he was registered to vote in the first municipal elections in 1842, and both he and his brother Benjamin were on the 1845 list of jurors. The 1857 Provincial Gazette noted he held land both Leasehold in Lambton Quay, and Freehold in Pirie Street.

Solomon married 14 year old Jane Harvey on 26th November 1844 at the First Independent Church. Jane was the daughter of a coalminer from Somerset – of which more later.


[Wellington Evening Post Oct 30. 1883]

Very deep and widespread regret was experienced today on receipt of the intelligence of the death of Mr. Solomon Levy, one of our oldest and most respected settlers, which took place at Blenheim, whither , accompanied by his wife he had gone to visit a daughter. (This was Kate Hutchings).

Although the deceased gentleman had not been well in health for some time, having recently suffered from heart disease, the news of his death was rather unexpected, as his friends were led to believe that his health was being benefitted by the change. Mr. Levy left Wellington on the 23rd instant, and died, as already stated, on the 29th, the immediate cause of death being apoplexy. He was 66 years of age at the time of his death.

Mr. Levy arrived here about February, 1840, in the ship Oriental, the second of the memorable pioneer expedition, putting in an appearance about 10 days or a fortnight after the Aurora. On board was his brother, the late Mr. Benjamin Levy (died off Acapulco, at sea in 1854).

Landing at the Hutt, Mr. Levy afterward removed to the site now occupied by the city of Wellington. For a considerable time he exercised his trade as a carpenter. Subsequently he proceeded to Victoria, Australia to try his fortunes on the goldfields, where he met with much success. He was married in Wellington , his wife's maiden name being Harvey.

Returning to this city from the Victorian goldfields, he became a commission agent, a profession which he successfully followed. At one time he acted as collector on behalf of the Education Board, and for a large number of years he was rate-collector for the City Council. His popularity and geniality of disposition rendered him exceptionally qualified to fill the duties of such a position, and to use an expression which was commonly heard at the time," it was really a pleasure to pay Mr. Levy."

Owing however to ill-health, the deceased was compelled to sever his connection with the Corporation, greatly to the regret of all with whom he had been associated.

For 25 years he performed the duties of trustee of the Brittania Lodge of Oddfellows, from which office he also retired due to ill-health, and the occasion of his leaving was made the opportunity of presenting a testimonial to him for the services he had rendered on behalf of the brotherhood. His degree in the Order was Past Provincial Grand Master, and though he had been connected with the Lodge for many years, he never on a single occasion found it necessary to apply for the benefits to which he was ordinarily entitled.

He was also a member of the Pacific Lodge of Freemasons for many years, and in connection with the subject of friendly societies in this city, it may be mentioned that he read and address to the Governor on the laying of the foundation stone of the old Oddfellows Hall, which has since been replaced by the existing Central Club and Colonial Insurnace Company's building on Lambton Quay.

He had a large family, most of the members of which are still living; and occupy respectable positions. He was a member of the Jewish faith, and thoroughly proficient in the Hebrew language, having for some time in the early days, acted as a teacher of Hebrew to the children of Jewish parents. He was one of the founders of the Wellington Synagogue, and a member of its building committee.

As one of the pioneer settlers, he of course bore the vicissitudes od early colonial life and during the troublous times with the natives he joined the militia, and helped protect the hearths and homes of the colonists from the raids of the Maoris.

Mr. Levy was universally esteemed for his numerous excellent qualities; for his probity, philanthropy and urbanity, and the thousand and one deeds of kindness and charity to which testimony is not wanting in abundance. Of him it can be truly said that even his most intimate friend could hardly point to any bad trait in his character or disposition.

All, of his affairs have been left in complete order almost unto the day of his death, and his widow is left comfortably off. Out of respect to his memory the flag over the Corporation offices flew at half-mast today, and sincere expressions of regret at the sad occurrence were heard on every side. The remains will be brought over to Wellington in the SS Waihi for internment, and it is proposed to give the deceased a public funeral’.


In our obituary today, notice is given on the death of Mrs Solomon Levy at her residence in Roxburgh Street Mrs Levy came to this colony with her parents on the ship Birman in the year 1842. With her sister, Mrs Edwin Jackson, she went to the Bay of Islands a short time after their arrival in Port Nicholson, and remained there some time.

After her return to Wellington she was married to the late Solomon Levy, the ceremony being performed by Rev. J. Woodward, Congregational minister. She and her husband then remained at Mount Cook for some years, and afterwards went into business on Lambton Quay. The venture proved a successful one, and the business premises were afterwards disposed of to Hallenstein Bros.

Mr. and Mrs. Levy then retired into private life, taking up their residence finally in Roxburgh Street. Mrs Levy was a member of the Congregational Church, and took an active part in promoting the church’s welfare, and her good work will be greatly missed by the congregation.

At every bazaar or sale-of-work she was a large contributor, and she also assisted in person. Mr Solomon Levy predeceased his wife by seventeen years. There are eight children surviving, five having died. There are also numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.


Searching the 1841 English Census for Harveys in Newton St Loe / Keynsham, Somerset, we find living in adjacent houses:

1. Moses Harvey (40), Bailiff of Coalmine, with his wife Mary (40) and children William (17), Henry (15), Jacob (12), Elizabeth (9), Sarah (7), and James (3)

2. Henry Buck (30), Coalminer, with his wife Elizabeth (35) and their children Eli (7), Leah (6) and Levi (4) plus Elizabeth’s children from her former marriage to Aaron Harvey (died 1832) George (15), Anne (10) and Jane (12).

Not having read Rachel’s book properly, I was surprised to find that Jane had probably had a stepfather.

But web research suggested that this was consistent with notes in the journal of early settler William Workman (descendant of a Leith sailor who had married into a Hutt Valley Maori family):

‘We left Te Kopi to go to the Lower Hutt and I remember running about Wellington with only a shirt on. Where Willis Street now is it was called the Beach Road in those days. The settlers who had come there were George Ames and Mrs. Ames. My mother gave a tui, which could talk well to Mrs. Ames. She kept it for many years. This was the first European woman that I had ever seen. My father used to do sawing at the lower Hutt and I remember talking about old Mr. Geo Buck who was at that time at Taita’.


‘I married an English woman, who landed in 1859 on the beach. She and her mother were carried ashore. Her uncle came and met them. Harry Buck was his name. He was a blacksmith. Mr T McKenzie, the newspaper proprietor married one of the daughters of Mr Buck. The Buck family are still living in Wellington and at the Hutt. Mrs Anelson (?) Palmerston who is my wife's cousin and Mrs Jackson of Petone, now dead, was another.’

All this means of course that there are likely to be numerous Buck and Harvey descendants In New Zealand who share an ancestry with Jane’s mother Elizabeth (who was born around 1805, probably in Devon, given her family name Cooz / Coose / Coase).

And further research provides a clincher to the Buck-Harvey link. A full Buck Family ‘Gedcom’ family tree has been posted on the website ‘Early New Zealand Families’ at: http://www.earlynzfamilies.co.nz/buck/ghtindex.html.

Actually, Rachel confirms all this with a report on some NZ research on the Harveys by Jocelyn Benstead. This includes the observations that Jane’s father had died of cholera in Somerset in 1832, aged 33, and that Jane’s full brother George had stayed in England, at least for several decades.

The NZ Rowe family still have a handsome two-handled pottery cup that has the inscription ‘George Harvey, Bailiff Eastern Colliery 1856’. Easton is also on the Somerset Coalfield and George was clearly following in the footsteps of his uncle Moses.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The riches in the river are not for such as Joe


At 6.20 pm on Sunday 28 May 1882, a 40 year-old Texan miner was relaxing after working at dredging gold from the nearby Clutha River in Central Otago, New Zealand. While his wife cleared the dinner table and washed up the dishes, he sat in the rocking chair in the living room of his small wooden cottage, cradling his fifth child Joseph, who was four months old.

Suddenly a shot rang out.

We can pick up the story from the report of the subsequent trial in the local newspaper the Tuapeka Times: ‘The Miller’s Flat Murder – Coroner’s Inquiry Verdict of Wilful Murder returned against Kitto’:

‘An inquiry was held before Jonas Harrop, Esq., J.P., acting-Coroner, on Tuesday last, touching the death of Joseph Augustus Roggiero. After the jury had been sworn, the body of the murdered man Roggiero was viewed, and the adjournment was made to the residence of Peter Kloogh.

Neils Peter Kloogh, the wounded man, whose evidence was taken in bed, deposed (Nils and his wife Tamar are pictured in the lead-in to this story):

‘I am a miner, residing on the east bank of the river at Millers Flat. I was in my house, and about twenty minutes pasty 6 pm I heard the report of a gun. It was moonlight. I heard a scream, and then went outside, I saw two of William Kitto’s children coming towards my house. They were running. They told me that there had been an accidentally shooting. The children are about ten and eleven years of age.

I then ran as hard as I could towards Roggiero’s. On the way I met Betsy Ann Roggiero, wife of the deceased, near John Kitto’s fence, and near his house. She said that the old man (meaning John Kitto) had shot Joe (meaning her husband), now deceased.

When I had proceeded about ten or twelve steps, I received a bullet wound in my right arm. Mrs Roggiero went in the opposite direction. I was shot on the path near John Kitto’s house – the man was about twenty yards distant from me. The man appeared to have dark clothing.

I am acquainted with John Kitto – he is my father-in-law - and he answers the description of the man whom I saw and who wounded me. I am not aware of any ill-feeling, but we have not been speaking for some time. I heard from his family that he did not care to converse with anyone. At the time I received my wound my dog was with me’.

Betsy Ann Roggiero, wife of the deceased deposed:

I remember Sunday evening last. My husband was sitting in the rocking-chair, putting the baby to sleep, at twenty minutes past 6 o’clock by our clock. The child was four months old. I was standing at the end of the table washing up after tea. A shot was fired through the kitchen window, which struck my husband in the breast.

He exclaimed, “My God, Annie, someone has shot me!’. I said “Oh no, Joe it is only someone playing a lark” and I ran out thinking it was someone with Chinese firecrackers. I saw my father John Kitto, walk away frtom the window with his back towards me. I said “You wretch, what did you do that for?”

As I re-entered the door, I met the deceased, with his hand across his chest and saw the infant fall from his arms on to the floor. I then put my arms around his neck. He said. “Don’t stay with me Annoe – run for help – I’m shot”. I then ran out and called my brother-in-law, Nils Peter Kloogh.

I requested him to go to my husband, and was returning with him when I saw my father John Kitto standing between his own house and the wire fence. He held up a gun to his shoulder and deliberately took aim and fired at Peter. The time father put the gun to his shoulder, I saw the flash.

About 10 o’clock, I returned to my own house and my husband expired at about 2 0’clock on the following morning. I have been nine years married in June, and have five children, the youngest four months, and the eldest seven years. So far as I know, my husband and father were on good terms”.

The accused was then brought in and identified by the witness as the man who had shot her husband.

In further evidence, the accused man’s son John Francis Kitto Junior (who was an 18 year old miner) commented that:

“I know of nothing to cause father to shoot the deceased. My father was an inmate of the Lunatic Asylum for six weeks, about four years ago. He appears sulky at times and will not speak. He appears troubled with religious mania as he is frequently talking about religious subjects. When I saw the gun on Sunday, the nipple was on, but now it appears to have been blown out”.

William Poole, constable of the New Zealand Armed Constabulary, in charge of Roxburgh Police Station deposed:

“Last Sunday night at quarter past nine, a man named John Kitto called at the Roxburgh Station and informed me he wished to give himself in charge. I asked him his reason. He replied. “for shooting my two sons-in-law. He had a gun in his left hand, which he handed to me at may request, saying “This is the gun I did it with – take care of it – it is loaded.”

I asked him who his sons-in-law were. He replied “I do not know” - but knowing the accused. I asked if he meant Peter Kloogh and ‘Mexican Joe’. He said I suppose so”. I then locked him up, asking him ‘What brought this about?”. He replied, “I will answer before a Judge.”

Samuel Moore also deposed:

‘I am Sergeant-Major of Constabulary, stationed at Lawrence. On interviewing Kitto, he said: ‘After I shot Roggiero, I went to my own house, and I saw Kloogh running to catch me. He hunted a dog on me – but the dog turned on himself and prevented him getting away when I shot him near the fence.”

The brother of the accused, James Kitto deposed:

‘The accused John Francis Kitto is my brother. He is about 50 years of age, a married man with a wife and ten children, six being at home. When my brother was 15 years of age, he had a severe fall of seven fathoms in a coalmine which injured his head – and since that time he has never appeared to be the same, always appearing light-headed. He was in the Lunatic Asylum four years ago but now appears to be worse than ever I saw him before – and he says he glories in what he has done’.

The Jury then retired and returned with a verdict of “Wilful Murder” against the accused John Francis Kitto.

The trial records note that John Francis Kitto:

‘had been more unsettled than usual for a month past, and that on the day in question he was decidedly worse. He believed himself to be the Saviour (or Joseph), his brothers and son-in-law being imps of Satan, Roggiero being Satan himself’, detailing the following exchange'.

‘Prisoner: I should like to have an explanation from someone to show whether I am a lunatic or not.

Witness: He considers his son-in-law, Roggiero, was possessed of a devil.
Prisoner: Not possessed, but was.
Witness: Was the devil?
His Honor : Anything else?

Witness: That his son-in-law who is wounded is also the devil.
His Honor: Is there anything else, doctor?
Witness: All his delusions, consist of that character.
His Honor : Does he imagine himself to be any particular person?

Witness: l am not aware of his imagining himself to be other than a Jew.

Prisoner: I am professing to be the Christ’.


I was reminded of the Miller’s Flat Murder by my own father-in-law during the weekend that he recently spent with us here in Island Bay. He is the grandson of Nils Peter Kloogh and the great grandson of the unfortunate perpetrator of the crimes John Francis Kitto. Happily though for me, there are ample circumstances that offer protection – for a start Air New Zealand does not allow the carriage of guns but more importantly, my father-in-law is a religious sceptic who is demonstrably sane.

According to the family’s oral history Nils Peter Kloogh was the son of Joachim Christian Kloogh. Joachim Kloogh (perhaps originally Kluch) had been born in Pomerania (North Germany) in 1810 but migrated to southern Sweden as a young man where he was employed as a shepherd. There he married Inga Oldsdotter and they had 6 children.
The four girls remained in Sweden but both of the boys eventually found homes in the Southern Hemisphere - Olaf in Australia and Nils in New Zealand.

Nils Peter who was born in 1853 first migrated to Denmark and then to New Zealand by way of Glasgow and Australia. He arrived in Lyttleton, New Zealand on 16th December 1872 on the ‘Palmerston’. at the age of 19.

We still have the little Book of Household Prayers 'Boner for Andakt i Hemmet' that Nils' mother gave him when he was 15 years old to comfort him during his travels and travails. But gold was the big attraction for young Nils.

In May 1861, Gabriel Read had discovered alluvial gold in a creek bed, close to the banks of the Tuapeka River near the settlement of Lawrence in Central Otago:

"At a place where a kind of road crossed on a shallow bar I shovelled away about two and a half feet of gravel, arrived at a beautiful soft slate and saw the gold shining like the stars in Orion on a dark frosty night".

By the Christmas of 1861, 14,000 prospectors were on the Tuapeka and Waipori fields, and a second major discovery in 1862 at Cromwell led to a further influx of miners from Australia and all points of the compass. By February 1864, there were 18,000 miners but thereafter activity declined rapidly as the main deposits became exhausted.

By the time that Nils arrived, there were around 5,000 miners. He settled in Miller’s Flat as a long period of reworking the Clutha river gravels began, using more highly mechanized processes. Eventually, he and his mates constructed a wheel dredge which harnessed the power of the river but these machines were ineffective in shallow water.

Efforts to develop new techniques culminated in the development of the world’s first steam-powered mechanical gold dredge ‘Dunedin’ in 1881. The Dunedin continued operation until 1901, recovering a total of 17,000 ounces (530 kg) of gold. And Nils and his Kitto brothers-in-law were long associated with the dredge mining business along the Clutha River.

Not surprisingly, the mining had a considerable environmental impact. In 1920, the Rivers Commission estimated that 300 million cubic yards of material had been moved by mining activity in the Clutha river catchment. At that time an estimated 40 million cubic yards had been washed out to sea with a further 60 million in the river.

Getting back to the Family History, John Francis Kitto came from a long line of Cornish miners. The family has been traced back to Thomas Kitto (born Gwennup, a major copper-tin mining area, Cornwall around 1700 – married Margaret Madron). John Francis himself was born in 1832 in East Newlyn, Cornwall and he married Ann Clements in Leicestershire, arriving in New Zealand in 1866. The intervening generations were John Kitto (born 1780, Redruth, married Elizabeth Teague) and Richard Kitto (born 1752, Gwennup, married Mary Trewena).

No doubt John Francis' wife Ann, and her daughters Betsy Ann and Tamar had many a quiet refection on the livelihoods that their men had chosen:

"Spend it in the winter
Or die in the cold.
One a pecker, Tuapeka
Bright fine gold

Some are sons of fortune,
And my man came to see
That the riches in the river
Are not for such as he.

I'm weary of Otago
I'm weary of the snow,
Let my man strike it rich
And then we'll go.

But they stayed and shared their descendants with Central and its marvellous landscapes.

The New Zealand Kitto families have been extensively researched by Joyce Reardon and this material is available on line.

Nowadays, Miller’s Flat is a very sleepy hollow but one that bursts into bucking fits for the annual ‘Miller’s Flat Rodeo’.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Nature of History and the Price of Beer


I have been puzzling for some days on the ‘Nature of History’ – partly in response to reading about Professor Simon Schama’s commitment to revising the UK’s national history curriculum - and partly in response to nagging irritation at a contemporary advertising campaign here in New Zealand on the merits of a locally brewed beer.

Strange counterpoint perhaps but it kicks up some interesting points about objectivity.

So let’s start with Simon. Apparently, he chatted recently to British Prime Minister David Cameron and came away with a remit to reintroduce schools to ‘narrative British history’.

The UK Minister of Education, Michael Gove explains the rationale in the following terms:

"One of the under-appreciated tragedies of our time has been the sundering of our society from its past ... Children are growing up ignorant of one of the most inspiring stories I know – the history of our United Kingdom .... Our history has moments of pride and shame, but unless we fully understand the struggles of the past we will not properly value the liberties of the present."

And it is an acknowledged source of dismay to members of the UK Conservative Party that Winston Churchill is currently left off the history curriculum for 11 to 13-year-olds, while two anti-slavery campaigners, William Wilberforce and Olaudah Equiano, are the only historical figures mentioned by name.

The tension between seeing school history as identity affirming and nation building on the one hand and as virtue inculcating and cross cultural bonding on the other clearly creates dissonance.

This kind of dissonance is also very evident for mainstream New Zealanders, whose need for post-colonial identity affirmation is constantly challenged by the demands of biculturalism.

That we expect too much is partly because, as Oxford Professor of History, Margaret MacMillan points out, history has displaced religion as a means of “setting moral standards and transmitting values.”

Picking up on the UK curriculum issue, Schama has promised to instill "excitement and joy" as pupils connect with their ancestry:

"A return to coherent gripping history is not a step backwards to dry as dust instruction," he claims. "It represents a moment of cultural and educational rediscovery. Without this renewed sense of our common story – one full of contention, not self-congratulation – we will be a poorer and weaker Britain."

James Grant has commented recently though that for Simon Schama, eloquence is the highest virtue, as reflected in the overblown claim that "the survival of eloquence is the condition of both a free political society and a coherent community."

Well, eloquence aside, Winston Churchill has been taking a bit of stick recently and as Johan Hari comments reviewing Richard Toye’s new history, “Churchill’s Empire”:

“After being elected to Parliament in 1900, Churchill demanded a rolling program of more conquests, based on his belief that “the Aryan stock is bound to triumph.”

And Toye’s research confirms that even at the time, Churchill was seen as standing at the most brutal and brutish end of the British imperialist spectrum.

This was clearest in his attitude to India.

When Gandhi began his campaign of peaceful resistance, Churchill raged that he “ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.”

But there again, quoting John Carey:

“One of history’s most useful tasks is to bring home to us how keenly, honestly and painfully, past generations pursued aims that now seem to us wrong or disgraceful”

– UK Conservative Party stalwarts please note!


Well, what better way of illustrating the manipulation of New Zealand history than by watching the beer advert itself (see above).

As you can see, it is very hard on Sir Arnold Henry Nordmeyer who was made Minister of Finance in Walter Nash’s 1957 Labour Government and who had to deliver the infamous 1958 ‘Black Budget’.

At the outset, it is important to be clear then that New Zealand was not without locally brewed beer prior to 1957. One of the founding elements of DB Breweries is the Tui Brewery established in 1889 by Henry Wagstaff, and DB itself was formed in 1930 by Sir Henry Kelliher and W Joseph Coutts with the purchase of Levers and Co. and the Waitemata Brewery Co.

The mainstay brew remains Tui, a 4 percent pale lager which the New Zealand Consumers' Institute recently has recently taken to task for claiming to be an "East India Pale Ale", when it is in fact a pale lager that bears little resemblance to the traditionally hoppy, bitter or malty India Pale Ale styles.

The company did not produce a 5.4 percent premium lager until Nordmeyer’s budget provided a protective tariff, largely because demand in this sector was limited. It was not a run of the mill workingman’s drink.

So I am happy to mount a retort to DB’s claims, partly because they are obvious bunk in economic and social terms and partly because Nordmeyer represented my local Island Bay constituency from 1954 until he retired in 1969.

I even quoted one of Arnie’s dictums in one of my Local Election posters:

• We have obligations towards the young because if we fail to provide for them, we fail to provide for the future.

• We have obligations towards the old and infirm because their work in their earlier and more fruitful years has made it possible for us to enjoy the standards we enjoy today.

• We have obligations towards the sick and the ailing because they cannot care for themselves.

• And it is our duty to ensure that those who do the useful work of the world enjoy the full reward of their toil”.

Taking up the story in more detail, there is an interesting recent article by NZ economic historian Rob Vosslamber: ‘Tax history and tax policy: New Zealand’s 1958 “black” budget’ that explores the reality and its telling.

Ross notes that in New Zealand a 'black budget' is:

A name given to a severely deflationary and hence unpopular budget, especially one which increases taxation on popular consumer items; specifically the name given to a 1930 budget, and especially to Labour Finance Minister Nordmeyer’s deflationary budget of 1958. (Orsman and Orsman, 1995, p. 21)

Ross also quotes Michael Stanford’s distinction between two aspects of history - history as events, and history as story, noting that ‘popular notions of the 1958 budget may bear scant resemblance to the actual budget event’.

Of course the same event can give rise to a range of stories, which are shaped by the availability of sources, the scholarship of the researcher, and the perspective of the story teller.

Ross goes on to show that even eminent historians change their views and let eloquence colour the event.

Keith Sinclair's first edition of his classic ‘A History of New Zealand’ published in 1959 made no mention of Nordmeyer’s budget.

In the second edition published in 1969, Sinclair devoted one paragraph to the second Labour government of 1957-60, simply noting that:

It inherited a major balance of overseas payments crisis. There is no doubt that the stringent import controls and the ‘black budget’ of 1958, which increased taxation, were largely responsible for its defeat in 1960. Since then, as harsher measures have followed, that budget looks less dark than it did. (p. 293)

In the third edition eleven years later, Sinclair virtually identifies the writer of the budget with the budget itself.

Having noted that Labour had inherited a major balance of payments crisis, he then describes the budget not so much as a response to this crisis, but rather as a reflection of its author:

The Minister of Finance was Arnold Nordmeyer, a very able and intelligent administrator who was much respected but inspired little affection. He was a Presbyterian minister and in manner somewhat austere. He and the Cabinet were prepared to impose heroic sacrifices upon the nation. Rigorous import controls were introduced.

Then came the famous ‘black budget’ of 1958. Income tax was raised very substantially. Duties on beer, spirits, tobacco and cars were doubled. The tax on petrol was nearly doubled. It was a puritan’s budget, and cynics noted that neither Nash nor Nordmeyer smoked, drank alcohol, or owned a car. It contrasted very greatly with Labour’s promises at election time. (Sinclair, 1980, p. 293).

As Ross goes on to say, these portrayals of the 1958 budget perhaps tells us as much about the historian as about the history.

Sinclair, a Labour party member, was of a different faction than Nordmeyer and it seemed to him, on reflection that the 1958 Budget 'reflected everything he most disliked: Puritanism, Christianity, Britishness and elitism'.

Ross concludes that:

Looking at the past. the political and personal stories of the 1958 budget suggest several contrasting stories that could be told. One story might recall the tax increases as a prudent response to an unforeseen crisis and that families were better off because of the budget. But this is not the popular story; instead it is Sinclair’s story of a “puritan” budget that is more commonly told.

That story certainly reflects aspects of the events of 1958, but not all. Fifty years on, the black budget metaphor has a life of its own, largely independent of the events which originally gave it rise, and is perpetuated by media usage of the term, and by short entries in the published history.

The black budget highlights the ambiguity of history: history as story may elucidate past events, but only ever in part. Sinclair’s telling of the budget demonstrates that it will also always reflect the background, knowledge, and preferences of the historian’

And we might add the butcher, the baker and the brewer.

Getting back to the advertisement, one would have thought that the DB brewing company would be celebrating Nordmeyer’s initiation of a protective tariff to shelter an infant industry – though the company is now a subsidiary of the international conglomerate Asia Pacific Breweries.

But there again, DB Breweries may have a covert motif in running the advertisement.

Further to the Law Commission's recent report on liquor laws, the current Government has tabled an Alcohol Reform Bill in parliament and this is expected to get its first reading on Thursday.

In this the Government has avoided the big policy decisions, such as increasing prices and restricting advertising, and ended up with a package that has been described as "like treating cancer with a couple of aspirin".

At least though, the Government – with a little nudging from DB and the alcohol lobby – cannot be described as puritan.

And we have a neat illustration of how even the provenance of a beer can be held to be identity affirming and nation building - at the loss of virtue and the possible pursuit of aims that are wrong and even disgraceful.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A truly gorgeous Red-head

BACK IN 1968

Very queer to be back in 1968 while watching the recent film on the sewing machinists' strike at the Ford Dagenham assembly plant (a time when not only were hair styles and hemlines very different - words too meant strangely different things sometimes).

But what a truly great gal was Barbara Castle (she had been Minister of Transport when I was a very junior civil servant in the Department of Economic Affairs in 1965-66).

Her gentle and personal brand of libertarian social democracy is still inspirational - as are her beliefs that egalitarianism is inherently beautiful and that denying access to nature and art risk 'revenge' (see following video link).


By Anne Perkins Radio 4, 3 September 2010

Tipped as a future Prime Minister before Margaret Thatcher came to prominence, Barbara Castle is arguably the most prominent women politician in the history of the Labour party.

If politicians are remembered at all, it is often not in the way they might have wished.

Nor is it a static process. Immediate assessments are revised and revised again so that an individual career might seem quite different from one generation to the next, and individual rankings soar and dive.

Barbara Castle who was born 100 years ago on October 6th and who died in 2001, has soared in public opinion ever since she quit politics, propelled on the updraft of anti-new Labour sentiment and continuing frustration at unequal pay.

Barbara was the third and youngest child of Frank Betts, a tax inspector, an occupation which was both safe at a time of terrible economic uncertainty, and relatively well paid.

More importantly, he was an ardent socialist, and an intellectual who taught himself Greek and Icelandic as well as Spanish and Italian well enough to read key texts in the original.

She was showered with personal abuse and ridiculed by interviewers "You're a woman. And you can't even drive" was a typical introductory remark.”

He and his wife Annie believed in socialism not only as a political creed, but as a way of living. Socialism was, of course, about economic redistribution and justice but it was also about giving everyone access to education, music, art and the countryside.

Male world

Barbara fought her way into the almost all-male Oxford, and out again, into the largely male world of politics.

She began an affair that lasted until his death in 1942 with an older, married man, William Mellor.

Mellor was a leading figure of the intellectual left and became the founder editor of the left-wing magazine Tribune. He gave her the introduction she craved to the London political world.

Barbara was destined to make a contribution to politics. At first it was as a journalist, but in 1944, after a series of rebuffs, she was selected for Blackburn, the seat she represented from 1945 until she retired - passing her seat on to her special adviser Jack Straw - in 1979.

Barbara, the youngest of the handful of women MPs elected in 1945 was marked out by her slightness and above all by her flaming red hair. Women in public life had to be seen to be respectable. Part of the deal of getting selected was getting married.

She chose the journalist Ted Castle, a man who knew how to capture the public imagination.

Barbara's career began with a double page spread in the Picture Post and in terms of publicity never looked back.

Her personal charms won her admirers: her passionate advocacy of the causes of the left guaranteed her criticism.

The commentators rarely knew which way to turn, particularly when she began to protest angrily at the way detainees accused of supporting the Mau Mau were treated in Kenya, or at the brutality of soldiers supposed to be keeping the peace in Cyprus.

Extraordinary fame

Even so, when in 1964 her closest political ally Harold Wilson became prime minister he put her in his first cabinet as minister for overseas aid.

She was from the start a brilliant minister - a woman with a clear sense of purpose, a genius for attracting public notice to her schemes and enough clout with the prime minister to get her way in interdepartmental disputes.

In 1966, despite being a non-driver and - perhaps worse - a woman, Wilson moved her to the Department of Transport. Her battles with the empires of men began. First it was the breathalyser, and then seatbelts.

She was showered with personal abuse and ridiculed by interviewers - "You're a woman. And you can't even drive" was a typical introductory remark.

By 1968 she had achieved an extraordinary fame that encouraged some observers to prefer her over the iconoclastic Roy Jenkins as the next Labour leader.

Just as the relationship between government and the unions came to breaking point over the link between pay claims and inflation and the value of the pound, Wilson gave her an even bigger job - he asked her to go to a new department of employment and productivity.

Barbara brought the government to the brink of catastrophe by trying to introduce trade union reform against the overwhelming opposition of union-backed MPs led by Jim Callaghan who would later be prime minister.

Her initiative, In Place of Strife was a bold and bonkers miscalculation from which at the time it seemed her reputation would never recover.

But immediately she struck back with the introduction of the Equal Pay Act, the last piece of legislation to reach the statute book before Labour's defeat at the 1970 election.

And she was not finished. Back in government between 1974 to 1976, she radically reformed pensions and brought in child benefit as a payment to mothers rather than through the father's pay packet.

Today, when her attempt at union legislation looks insignificant compared with what was to come, when drink-driving is (nearly) socially unacceptable and safety belts treated as part of the process of starting the car, it is for introducing equal pay that Barbara is most warmly remembered.

For a politician who rejected the segregation of women's issues as a way of diverting attention from socialism, who dreamt of a minimum wage, who fought to outlaw private practice and paybeds from the NHS and campaigned for a genuine global redistribution of wealth, equal pay seemed a relatively minor achievement.

But for all her radicalism she also understood that change usually comes in increments. And even incremental change only happens when there is a radical individual demanding much, much more.

Sharing Beauty - Revenge Abstained

Thursday, October 21, 2010

West Won by Milk-thirsty Warriors


Having resorted to male-line ydna research to pin down my paternal great grandparents (and eventually confirm an unsuspected surname change from Shorrocks to Johnson), I was well placed to muse about the prehistoric origins of my family.

And so I bought copies of two rather bad books by Oxford academics: ‘Blood of the Isles’ by Bryan Sykes and ‘Origins of the British’ by Stephen Oppenheimer, and went on to commission the ‘Oppenheimer Test’ from EthnoAncestry.

I rather liked the result in one respect – it appeared that my ancient ancestor had originated in Catalonia and this gave me an affinity with Barcelona. On the other hand, as my ydna is very basically Northern English, I found it hard to credit that anyone in their right mind would trek from the Mediterranean coast to settle in the Pennines.

My doubts it appears were sound.

But first, let Sykes and Oppenheimer have their say:

‘Blood of the Isles’:

“The strongest (ydna) signal is a Celtic one, in the form of the clan of Oisin (R1b), which dominates the scene all over the Isles. The predominance in every part of the Isles of the Atlantis chromosome (the most frequent in the Oisin clan), with its strong affinities to Iberia, along with other matches and the evidence from the maternal side convinces me that it is from this direction that we must look for the origin of Oisin and the great majority of our Y-chromosomes…

I can find no evidence at all of a large-scale arrival from the heartland of the Celts of central Europe amongst the paternic genetic ancestry of the Isles.”

“The Celts of Ireland and the Western Isles are not, as far as I can see from the genetic evidence, related to the Celts who spread south and east to Italy, Greece and Turkey from the heartlands of Hallstadt and La Tene...during the first millennium BC…

The genetic evidence shows that a large proportion of Irish Celts, on both the male and female side, did arrive from Iberia at or about the same time as farming reached the Isles. (…)

The connection to Spain is also there in the myth of Brutus…. This too may be the faint echo of the same origin myth as the Milesian Irish and the connection to Iberia is almost as strong in the British regions as it is in Ireland. (…)”

‘Origins of the British’:

"By far the majority of male gene types in the British Isles derive from Iberia (Spain and Portugal), ranging from a low of 59% in Fakenham, Norfolk to highs of 96% in Llangefni, north Wales and 93% Castlerea, Ireland. On average only 30% of gene types in England derive from north-west Europe. Even without dating the earlier waves of north-west European immigration, this invalidates the Anglo-Saxon wipeout theory..."

"...75-95% of British Isles (genetic) matches derive from Iberia... Ireland, coastal Wales, and central and west-coast Scotland are almost entirely made up from Iberian founders, while the rest of the non-English parts of the British Isles have similarly high rates. England has rather lower rates of Iberian types with marked heterogeneity, but no English sample has less than 58% of Iberian samples..."

This it has turned out is probably a load of old cobblers.

The latest thinking is summarized below in an extensive recent article from Der Spiegel.

So I descend it seems, like many fellow Western Europeans from milk-thirsty and blood thirsty easterners who invaded the Occident in successive waves, and who were, as the Vikings believed, licked into life by a cow at the dawn of history.

The only problem with all this is that it leaves the Basques as an even more enigmatic group – plenty of cultivator and milk-drinking genes but speaking a totally non-IndoEuropean language [see lower map for the current prevalence of R1b male-line ydna].

[See also my post of Monday, February 1, 2010 'Farmers on the Frontier at cross purposes with Atlantic Fringe Hunters']


[by Matthias Schulz, Der Spiegel]

New research has revealed that agriculture came to Europe amid a wave of immigration from the Middle East during the Neolithic period. The newcomers won out over the locals because of their sophisticated culture, mastery of agriculture -- and their miracle food, milk.

Wedged in between dump trucks and excavators, archeologist Birgit Srock is drawing the outline of a 7,200-year-old posthole. A concrete mixing plant is visible on the horizon. She is here because, during the construction of a high-speed rail line between the German cities of Nuremberg and Berlin, workers happened upon a large Neolithic settlement in the Upper Franconia region of northern Bavaria.

The remains of more than 40 houses were unearthed, as well as skeletons, a spinning wheel, bulbous clay vessels, cows' teeth and broken sieves for cheese production -- a typical settlement of the so-called Linear Pottery culture (named after the patterns on their pottery).

This ancient culture provided us with the blessing of bread baking. At around 5300 BC, everyone in Central Europe was suddenly farming and raising livestock. The members of the Linear Pottery culture kept cows in wooden pens, used rubbing stones and harvested grain. Within less than 300 years, the sedentary lifestyle had spread to the Paris basin.

The reasons behind the rapid shift have long been a mystery. Was it an idea that spread through Central Europe at the time, or an entire people?

Peaceful Cooperation or Invasion?

Many academics felt that the latter was inconceivable. Agriculture was invented in the Middle East, but many researchers found it hard to believe that people from that part of the world would have embarked on an endless march across the Bosporus and into the north.

Jens Lüning, a German archaeologist who specializes in the prehistoric period, was influential in establishing the conventional wisdom on the developments, namely that a small group of immigrants inducted the established inhabitants of Central Europe into sowing and milking with "missionary zeal." The new knowledge was then quickly passed on to others. This process continued at a swift pace, in a spirit of "peaceful cooperation," according to Lüning.

But now doubts are being raised on that explanation. New excavations in Turkey, as well as genetic analyses of domestic animals and Stone Age skeletons, paint a completely different picture:

 At around 7000 BC, a mass migration of farmers began from the Middle East to Europe.
 These ancient farmers brought along domesticated cattle and pigs.
 There was no interbreeding between the intruders and the original population.

Mutated for Milk

The new settlers also had something of a miracle food at their disposal. They produced fresh milk, which, as a result of a genetic mutation, they were soon able to drink in large quantities. The result was that the population of farmers grew and grew.

These striking insights come from biologists and chemists. In a barrage of articles in professional journals like Nature and BMC Evolutionary Biology, they have turned many of the prevailing views upside down over the course of the last three years.

The most important group is working on the "Leche" project (the name is inspired by the Spanish word for milk), an association of 13 research institutes in seven European Union countries. The goal of the project is to genetically probe the beginnings of butter, milk and cheese.

An unusual circumstance has made this research possible in the first place. Homo sapiens was originally unable to digest raw milk. Generally, the human body only produces an enzyme that can break down lactose in the small intestine during the first few years of life. Indeed, most adults in Asia and Africa react to cow's milk with nausea, flatulence and diarrhea.

But the situation is different in Europe, where many people carry a minute modification of chromosome 2 that enables them to digest lactose throughout their life without experiencing intestinal problems. The percentage of people with this modification is the highest among Britons and Scandinavians (see graphic).

It has long been known that these differences are based on Europeans' primeval origins. But where did the first milk drinker live? Which early man was the first to feast on cow's milk without suffering the consequences?

Groups Did not Intermingle

In a bid to solve the mystery, molecular biologists have sawed into and analyzed countless Neolithic bones. The breakthrough came last year, when scientists discovered that the first milk drinkers lived in the territory of present-day Austria, Hungary and Slovakia.

But that was also where the nucleus of the Linear Pottery culture was located. "The trait of lactose tolerance quickly became established in the population," explains Joachim Burger, an anthropologist from the University of Mainz in southwestern Germany who is a member of the Leche team.

Deep-frozen thighs are stacked in Burger's laboratory, where assistants wearing masks saw open skulls. Others examine bits of genetic material from the Stone Age under a blue light.

The group will hold a working meeting in Uppsala, Sweden in November. But even at this stage it is already clear that large numbers of people from the Middle East once descended upon Central Europe.

There are also signs of conflict. The intruders differed from the continent's Ice Age inhabitants "through completely different genetic lines," Burger explains. In other words, the two groups did not intermingle.

Part 2: Tension Between Locals and Incomers

This isn't exactly surprising. The old hunter-gatherers on the continent had long been accustomed to hunting and fishing. Their ancestors had entered Europe 46,000 years ago -- early enough to have encountered the Neanderthals.

The early farmers moving into Central Europe were sophisticated compared with these children of nature. The farmers wore different clothing, prayed to other idols and spoke a different language.

It was these differences that probably led to tensions. Researchers have discovered that arsonists set the villages of the Linear Pottery culture on fire. Soon the farmers built tall palisades to protect their villages. Their advance was blocked for a long time by the Rhine River, however.

There are signs that bartering and trade existed, but the two groups did not intermingle sexually. Burger suspects that there was probably a "strict ban on intermarriage."

The farmers even protected their livestock from outside influences, determined to prevent the wild oxen known as aurochs from breeding with their Middle Eastern cows.

They feared that such hybrids would only introduce a new wild element into the domesticated breeds.

Their breeding precautions were completely understandable. The revolutionary idea that man could subjugate plants and animals went hand in hand with enormous efforts, patience and ingenuity. The process took thousands of years.

Getting Animals Under Control

The beginnings can now be delineated relatively well. About 12,000 years ago, the zone between the Zagros Mountains in present-day Iran, Palestine and Turkey was transformed into a giant field experiment.

The first farmers learned to cultivate wild emmer and einkorn wheat. Then they went on to domesticate animals. Goats had been successfully domesticated in Iran by about 9,000 BC. Sheep and pigs were domesticated in southern Anatolia.

Enormous settlements soon sprang up in the region known as the Fertile Crescent. Çatalhöyük, known as "man's first metropolis," had about 5,000 inhabitants, who lived in mud huts packed tightly together. They worshipped an obese mother goddess, depicted in statues as a figure sitting on a throne decorated with the heads of carnivores.

One of the most difficult challenges was the breeding and domestication of Middle Eastern wild cattle. The male specimens of the species weighed up to 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) and had curved horns. People eventually drummed up the courage to approach the beasts somewhere in the central Euphrates Valley.

They found different ways of getting the cattle under control. One Neolithic sculpture depicts a steer with a hole punched through its nasal septum. Removing the testicles was also quickly recognized as a way of improving the animals' temperament. Once the wild cattle had been castrated, they could finally be yoked.

The clever farmers realized that if they gave calves from other mothers to the cows, their udders would always be full of milk.

No Taste for Milk

Oddly enough, the Mesopotamian farmers didn't touch fresh milk. A few weeks ago, Joachim Burger returned from Turkey with a sack full of Neolithic bones from newly discovered cemeteries where the ancient farmers were buried.

When the bones were analyzed, there were no signs of lactose tolerance. "If these people had drunk milk, they would have felt sick," says Burger. This means that at first the farmers only consumed fermented milk products like kefir, yogurt and cheese, which contain very little lactose.

Even more astonishing, as recent excavations in Anatolia show, is the fact that the ancient farmers did not leave their core region for almost 2,000 years. They had put together the complete "Neolithic cultural package," from the rubbing stone to seeds, "without advancing into other areas," says archeologist Mehmet Özdogan.

The coastal zones were long avoided. The people who lived there were probably fishermen who defended themselves against the new way of life with harpoons.

Renegade Settlers

The crossing of the Bosporus did not occur until sometime between 7000 and 6500 BC. The farmers met with little resistance from the hunter-gatherer cultures, whose coastal settlements were being inundated by devastating floods at the time. Melting glaciers had triggered a rise in the sea level of over 100 meters (160 feet).

Nevertheless, the advance across the Balkans was not a triumph. The colonists' dwellings there seem small and shabby. At the 47th parallel north, near Lake Balaton in modern-day Hungary, the advance came to a standstill for 500 years.

The Linear Pottery culture, which was the first to shift to the northern shore of Lake Balaton, gave the movement new life. Lüning talks about "renegade" settlers who had created a "new way of life" and a "reform project" on the other side of the lake.

With military determination, the advancing pioneers constantly established new settlements. The villages often consisted of three to six windowless longhouses, strictly aligned to the northwest, next to livestock pens and masterfully constructed wells. Their tools, picks and bowls (which were basically hemispheric vessels) were almost identical throughout Central Europe, from Ukraine to the Rhine.

Part 3: Migration and Mass Murder

The settlers, wielding their sickles, kept moving farther and farther north, right into the territory of backward peoples. The newcomers were industrious and used to working hard in the fields. Clay statues show that the men were already wearing trousers and shaving. The women dyed their hair red and decorated it with snail shells. Both sexes wore caps, and the men also wore triangular hats.

By comparison, the more primitive existing inhabitants of the continent wore animal hides and lived in spartan huts. They looked on in bewilderment as the newcomers deforested their hunting grounds, tilled the soil and planted seeds. This apparently upset them and motivated them to resist the intruders.

In the Bible, Cain, the crop farmer, slays Abel the shepherd. In the Europe of the Neolithic Age, conditions may have been just as violent. One of the most gruesome discoveries is a mass grave that has been dubbed the "Talheim Death Pit" in the German town of that name. The pit is filled with the remains of 34 bodies.

The members of an entire clan were apparently surprised in their sleep and beaten to death with clubs and hatchets. So far, archeologists haven't been able to figure out whether the incomers killed the existing inhabitants, or vice versa.

Drinking Milk by the Bucketful

It is clear, however, that the dairy farmers won out in the end. During their migration, they encountered increasingly lush pastures, a paradise for their cows. An added benefit of migrating farther to the north was that raw milk lasted longer in the cooler climate.

This probably explains why people soon began drinking the abundant new beverage by the bucketful. Some had genetic mutations that enabled them to drink milk without getting sick. They were the true progenitors of the movement.

As a result of "accelerated evolution," says Burger, lactose tolerance was selected for on a large scale within the population in the space of about 100 generations.

Europe became the land of the eternal infant as people began drinking milk their whole lives.

The new food was especially beneficial for children. In the Neolithic Age, many small children died after being weaned in their fourth year of life. "As a result of consuming healthy milk, this could be greatly reduced," Hamburg biologist Fritz Höffeler speculates. All of this led to population growth and, as a result, further geographical expansion.

'White Revolution'

Does this explain why the inventors of the sickle and the plow conquered Europe so quickly, leading to the demise of the old hunter-gatherers?

Imagine, if you will, a village of the Linear Pottery culture in the middle of winter. As smoke emerges from the top of a wooden hut, the table inside is surrounded by rosy-cheeked children drinking hot milk with honey, which their mother has just prepared for them. It's an image that could help explain why people adopted a sedentary way of life.

Burger, at any rate, is convinced that milk played a major part in shaping history, just as gunpowder did much later. "There was once a white revolution," he says.

[Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Honorary Cumbrian - In Memoriam 14th October 1943


[by Margaret Crosby, Whitehaven News, Friday, 05 January 2007]

THERE was a civic welcome to Whitehaven, this week, for the daughter of a young wartime airman whose plane had crashed into Kells Brows more than 60 years ago.

It was an emotional trip back in time to an October day in 1943, when Whitehaven townspeople going about their daily business were shocked to see a bomber crash-land in their midst.

Susan Hollinshead, was just six years old, when news came through of a tragedy that was to deprive her, and her unborn brother, of their father, Cyril Johnson.

He was one of five young airmen killed on the training flight from RAF Millom, that ended in wreckage strewn over the Brows, at Kells.

On Monday, Susan, who will be 70 next month, and her husband, John, travelled to Whitehaven from their home in Kelsall, Cheshire, to study local records and documentation of the wartime event and pay an emotional visit to the crash site itself.

They were given a civic welcome by the Mayor of Copeland Willis Metherell and the chairman of Cumbria County Council, Alan Caine.

It was on October 14 that the Avro Anson R9780 aircraft was on a routine flight from the unit at RAF Millom, when tragedy struck.

The five crewmen who died were a mixed bunch. There was Susan’s father Sgt Cyril Johnson, who had been a teacher in Nantwich, before joining the RAF, Sgt T Inman, wireless operator, Flying officer H J O’Hare of Glasgow, Canadian navigator, Sgt R H Murphy and American pilot Sgt V J Dunnigan, a baseball player of note, from Buffalo, New York.

Susan’s visit to Whitehaven had been prompted by the interest of her brother, Dr Keith Johnson, who now lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He had never known his father. His mother, Mabel Johnson, was pregnant with him when Cyril died. Sadly Cyril, 33, did not even know his wife was expecting.

Said Susan: “My father had previously been in South Africa with the RAF and he and my mother had stolen a couple of weeks together before he had to go off to the Millom base. My brother was the result but my father never knew.’’

Susan’s decision to revisit the wartime events of 63 years ago had been prompted by her brother’s interest. Keith had contacted Cumbria County Council to help him research the circumstances of his father’s death.

The siblings had understood their father, Cyril, was a navigator but Glynn Griffith of Millom RAF Museum provided old inquiry records that showed he was being trained as a bomb-aimer.

He told Susan: “Because of wartime demands the training role was often undertaken by aircraft that was ‘war-weary’ and it seems this plane suffered a serious structural defect in the wing span.

As a result of this incident all Avro Ansons in use were subsequently checked out and several were found to have cracks.’’

He said the wing had cracked, the plane had begun to disintegrate in mid-air and the pilot lost effective control of the aircraft once the wing was lost. Parachutes had flared but there was insufficient height to enable the men to get out of the aircraft.

Fabric covering from the aircraft was found on Bransty and local children of the time could remember sparks coming from it as it came down and that Border Regiment soldiers had guarded the crash scene.

The Hollinsheads were given copies of Sgt Johnson’s service record from the RAF, the crash inquiry records and research details gathered by the late Gilbert Rothery, who was interested in aviation and had been a boy of 13, waiting for a bus home to St Bees when the crash occurred.

There was also a folio of documents from The Beacon, represented by Averil Dawson, who is appealing to the public for personal memories of the crash on the Brows, which could form part of an oral history collection.

Councillor Metherell said she too had been only 14 at the time but remembered the event being the talk of the area. “It is history we must not forget.’’

Councillor Caine said Sgt Johnson would be made an honorary Cumbrian and the two councils would explore ways in which to create a permanent memorial to him.