Category Archives: Family

From The Weekly Telegraph 1905

I must admit that I do not know the actual source of the following but it is from a very reliable friend of mine who ‘published’ it in our Family History magazine quite some time ago.

Issue no. 2272 – Estab. 1862      Saturday 28th October 1905     Postage One Penny

                                                               Deceased Wife’s Sister
He: “I can’t understand why an Englishman always wants to marry his deceased wife’s sister”

She:  “Why? I should have thought anyone could see.  It saves him the bother of breaking in a new mother-in-law.”

John Knill – St James’s Day – and a 5 yearly habit

John Knill was an articled clerk to a solicitor in Penzance. He was a Collector of Customs at St. Ives between 1762 and 1782 and was, also, Mayor of the town in 1767. He was a well-respected citizen and travelled a lot in a time when roads were little more that cart tracks, and where all communication was poor. In his position as Customs Officer, both in St. Ives and London, his advice was eagerly sought and he inspected Custom Houses as far away as Jamaica. He also became a magistrate; was called to The Bar and was Treasurer to the Bench of the Inn. He appeared to enjoy life to the full and socially he met many eminent people, including John Wesley and the engineer John Smeaton. In 1782 he had a three-sided stone obelisk built high on a hill as a landmark to those at sea. In his will he left money for the upkeep of the obelisk and also £25 for celebrations to take place every five years on St. James’ Day, 25th July although the first ceremony took place in 1801 with him present. This is known as the John Knill Celebrations.

The people of St. Ives have been faithful to his wishes ever since and a ceremony has taken place every five years, even during war time. The £25 was to be spent thus:-

£10 for a dinner for the Trustees (the Mayor, Vicar and Customs Officer at the time plus two guests each; the dinner to take place at the George and Dragon Inn in St. Ives);
£5 to ten little girls who are daughters of either fishermen, tinners or seamen);
£1 to the fiddler; £2 to two widows; £1 for white ribbon for breast knots; £1 to be set aside for a vellum book for the Clerk to the Trustees to enter a Minute of the proceedings and £5 to the man and wife, widower or widow who shall raise the greatest family of legitimate children who have reached the age of ten years.

Not a new King – just a new family name

It was on Tuesday 17th July 1917 that the British Royal Family formally adopted the name ‘Windsor’ in the place of ‘Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’.

‘The Cornishman’ carried a typical statement of the facts with the heading:
A Proclamation was signed at the Privy Council at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday that the British Royal Family henceforce be styled “The House of Windsor.”

The Western Gazette carried a similar outline but added: ‘M.P.’s AND ENEMY DUKES: Mr Swift McNeill, on the second reading of the Titles’ Deprivation Bill (Lords), in the House of Commons on Tuesday, said the Bill aimed at the Dukes of Cumberland and Albany, who still retained their high British titles. Why had it taken the Government three years to eliminate traitors and introduce this measure? He hoped German influence would be a thing of the past, and there would be no more presents of fortresses like Heligoland to the German Emperor.’

A Daughter’s letter to Dad, 16th April 1915

Based on our first meeting with Nellie Lant a couple of weeks ago this letter is out of place. Last time we were in 1916 – this one is from 1915, almost to the day.  The war is some 9 months old and Nellie is at Wesley School, King Street, Cambridge – a different, but still residential, girl’s school – Nellie will only come home at the end of each of the three terms.  and is writing home to her father on Friday 16th April 1915.

Dear Dad
Christ’s Pieces are now our playground.  We have been turned out of our proper school by the soldiers.  On Christ’s Pieces there is a band stand nearly every Sunday evening.  The bands play and crowds of people listen to it.  Not very long ago there were some soldier’s horses on there.  At the middle of every morning and afternoon we have ten minutes play time.  At playtime we all go out and play until the bell rings.  On certain days of the week we have drill on the Piece.

                      I am                               
 Your loving daughter


She murmured ‘I’m scared’

It had been a youth-club outing to somewhere or other – probably to a pop concert in one of the nearby towns.  We were to meet at the Village Hall.  I could easily walk there but others came by bike.  These were the days when you could leave your bike against a wall and it would still be there when you came back.

Off we went – 20/25 teenage kids and a couple of grown-up youth club helpers; we had a good time; and we got back quite late.  We all got off the coach and set about going home.  It was around 10.30pm.  Jamie and Christine lived in the same close as me – about a five minute walk from where the coach had dropped us off.  Rosemary lived about two miles away, in a smaller village – but she had come by bike so there was no problem there.  She walked with us the couple of hundred yards to the road junction where she would turn right and ride off home while we walked another 200 or so yards and went to bed.

This was the time to say good-night and go our separate ways.  I quite liked Rosemary and gave her a cuddle and a kiss on the cheek.  She clung to me and murmured ‘I’m scared’.

‘Why?’ I asked. ‘You’ll be OK.  You’ve ridden home before and it’s a nice night.’
‘No,’ she murmured, ‘I’ve ridden home in the light but dad has always picked me up when it’s dark – and he’s away on business this week.’

I looked at her, and then looked down the road.  It was only a couple of miles or so to her home but there were very few house between where we stood and there; and absolutely no street lights.  There was nothing for it but to escort her home.  It would mean that I had to walk two ways but what else could a fellow do?   Jamie and Christine had carried on walking when I had stopped with Rosemary and were now nowhere to be seen.  Never mind – a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

‘Don’t worry,’ I said to Rosemary, ‘I’ll walk home with you.’
‘Will you?  Really?  Oh thank you Ben – you’re an angel.’

We set off into the darkness; talking some of the time, keeping quiet at others.  It’s amazing how your eyes quickly adjust as you walk in the dark.  Quite soon it the road was clearly visible but the grass and the hedges on either side remained a dark mass.  Then the Moon broke through the clouds and we had a glimpse of the road edges.

Neither of us had a watch so we couldn’t check the time but it didn’t take us long, it seemed, to reach her small village.  Rosemary said that her house was just up the road, held her bike in one hand while she threw her other arm round my shoulder, gave me a kiss on the cheek, said ‘thank you so much’ and headed off to her home.

I stood there alone for a while, then turned round and walked back homeward.  The moon kept peeping through the clouds to watch over me and it didn’t seem too long before I reached the corner where this had all started.  I turned right, then right again into our cul-de-sac – all ten houses were in darkness; including mine!  No one was up and wondering where I had got to it seemed!

The back door was locked but I had a key and could let myself in. All was dark inside.  I turned on the kitchen light; locked the back door; took off my coat and shoes and looked up at the clock.

It showed a ‘Quarter to One’!  I looked at my watch – I could see it now – ‘yep, that was the time’!

It was a bit late for a 14 year old like me but I shrugged my shoulders, turned off the light and made my way, quietly, to bed.

In the morning my parents said just one thing – ‘How was it last night?’
I replied ‘Pretty good’ and that was the end of it!  Nothing more was said!

To this day I don’t know if they knew I was very late home but didn’t care or that they had both gone to sleep and didn’t care about anything else.

Me?  I never did that again – but I did one or two other things that were not too much different!  Maybe I’ll tell you about these some other time!

The Sunday after

The Sunday papers all told of the story – this one is from the Sunday Express – it says:

‘Sometimes a baby’s cry broke the stillness’: Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers, Princes and Chancellors from 111 nations joined a countless throng of humble people yesterday in the final massive act of homage to Sir Winston Churchill.  It was an occasion of pomp and pageantry, pride and sorry, which will not be equalled in the lifetime of any who saw it.

And yet what there was to say could be said simply.

The thoughts of those who stood in the windswept streets and the millions who watched on television were summed up in one message.  It was from the Queen, and was in the circular wreath of white flowers – freesias, arum lilies, gladioli, and lilies of the valley – which she sent to the interment at Bladon Church.  It was written in her own hand and said:

“From the nation and the Commonwealth:
In grateful remembrance.
Elizabeth R”

No one can say with certainty how many people stood and shivered in the bitter east wind to honour Sir Winston. Probably there were around half a million.

Janine is home!

Dear Folks

Janine is home!  We had all set to and made the place spotless for her …. we just couldn’t let her come back to the mess we’d allowed the place to become could we!  Peter was here from the hospital and it is great having her back.  We don’t know how long she’ll stay though.   With us all together for the first time we heard the whole story of their ‘friendship’.
Apparently Peter and Janine have known each other for a long time.  Both their families are quite well off and it seems Peter and Janine sort of kept bumping into each other at social events.  Friendship grew into fondness and then into love.  Unfortunately Janine’s mother died around this time and it really knocked her father sideways.  Janine had to give up virtually everything to keep him afloat.

Just after then, Peter’s parents moved abroad on business and he went with them.  He and Janine kept in touch by letter but ob saw nothing of each other.  Janine’s father got over his deep depression and then rushed into a second marriage after an instant romance.
Apparently Janine’s step-mother and her struck sparks off each other from day one.  They argued about everything, especially Janine’s friends and particularly Peter.  It finally got to the stage where her step-mother was tearing up all Peter’s letters before Janine ever saw them.

Janine was still writing to Peter but – she thought – never getting a reply.  What with that and constant rows with her step mother she finally walked out without telling anyone.  That was when she turned up here – with us.
It appears that her step-mother wouldn’t let it stop there though.  She got a private detective to track her down.  He finally found her here and reported back.  That’s what caused Janine’s problem.  She came to see her, claiming that she wanted to make it up with her.  She had brought some apples for them to share.  Like a fool Janine believed her.  The apple had obviously been tampered with in some way because Janine could remember biting it but nothing else until she heard Peter’s voice yesterday.

The whole room went silent as each thought of what the two had gone through.  It was Grumpy that broke the silence.  ‘Disgusting’ he said, then, ‘anyone for tea or coffee?’

It really and quickly brought us back to the real world.  Orders were place and everyone started talking to everyone.  We were and are all so pleased to have ‘our’ Janine back.

Bye for now

Love Albert

A disaster befalls us

Dear Mum & Dad

We have a disaster! Janine has been taken ill and we don’t know what is wrong. When we got home yesterday we found her lying on the settee. She was breathing perfectly but seemed to respond to nothing. She seemed to be in a coma of some sort.

We called the Doctor and he got here pretty quickly.  He checked her very thoroughly but could not work out was wrong. As a result they have taken her into intensive care and we have told them to spare no expense in getting her better.

We are all very worried about our Janine – and I’m certainly not being called, or feeling, Happy!

Our major problem now is visiting time. They won’t let the seven of us in together.  At first that caused some agro at the hospital.  No-one would believe that she lived with seven fellers at the flat – and when we told them that we did not know Janine’s home address, or her surname, or anything about her family they got very iffy!

‘Our’ Doctor told them that we were telling the truth and they, a bit grudgingly though, said that it was OK for us to visit Janine – BUT only one at a time.

Well it’s my turn to visit tonight so I’m off.  I’ll keep you up-to-date with how things progress.

Pray for Janine please mum. We’d all be lost without her now.

no longer ‘Happy’, Albert


The story of a ‘biggish’ house

Before I tell you this story I should introduce you to my family:  My name is Albert Forester – not a name that you would normally expect for the owner of a pile like this. It makes sense, though, when you go back over my family tree.

I was born in 1950; my father was born in 1910 and died quite recently; my grandfather was born in 1880 and died in 1943 in an air raid. His father, my great grandfather, was born around 1840 – the illegitimate son of Alice the wayward daughter of Sir William St John and Charles, the young man who looked after the woodlands of the estate – he was the Forester. Match the date with the husband of Queen Victoria and you get the baptismal name of my Great Grandfather – Albert Forester. That has been the given name of the first-born son ever since.

The male line of the St Johns got weaker over the years until the last of the line passed away 9 years ago. The powers that be finally established me as the most appropriate member of the bloodline to inherit the house. I got the house but I didn’t get the ‘Sir’ status. So …. Thornhill Hall is now the legal property of Albert Forester Esq. and his charming wife Samantha. Who will inherit when I pass on? That may be interesting as we have twin boys – Patrick and Robert – and none of us are quite sure which was born first. In fact, there are times when Sam and I can’t tell which is which even now!

Following the death of Sir William the Great House was more like a Great Shell. From the outside it was all there but inside the heart was missing. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t devoid of buildings, or of occupation. This was all there. Someone returning from 100, 200 or even 300 years ago would have recognised it – would know it. As I said, it was the heart that was missing – and it was now my aim, my job, to get that heart beating again.

What we should do with Thornhill Hall was our first decision to make. Sam’s suggestion was to demolish it and sell the stone.
‘No can do – it’s a Grade 2 listed building.’
Suggestion two was to sell it.

Another ‘no can do’. There’s a nasty clause, according to the solicitors, that says it cannot be sold while a male heir can be found!
There was nothing for it then; we had to make a go of it ourselves.
It was Sam who had the idea – ‘let’s open it to the public. There are lots of places that have done it.’
‘It’ll be hell’, I said but, as usual, I came second in the ‘discussion’.

The first year was exciting though. We visited many houses – mainly the smaller ones – that were open to the public. These gave us ideas – and some worries as well. Late in that summer we made contact with James and Helen who had gone through the process three years before. Their background was much the same as ours. When we arrived the first thing they did was to take us round their ‘public space’ as they called it. There were six rooms and they looked good. James and Helen were positive and descriptive about the things they were showing us – effectively giving us a guided tour as the said they did for their visitors.

We felt buoyant as we went into their private part of the house for coffee.
It was there that their ‘professional’ face slipped. A non-stop stream of negatives hit us. They complained about their volunteer helpers – unreliable and unhelpful. They complained about their visitors – noisy and forever complaining about their entrance fee; the quality of the coffee and how little there was to see. This diatribe continued for 10 minutes or more before Sam interrupted.

‘There must be some plusses’ she said.
‘Can’t think of any off-hand’ said James, almost as a question to Helen.
‘We have had some tax benefits’ she said to him.
Not much of that’ James said.

The conversation struggled on for another half an hour or so. That was enough for me. I twitched my eyebrows as I glanced at Sam and she turned her eyes toward the door – our pre-arranged sign. I glanced at my watch in a way James and Helen couldn’t miss; then looked up at them.

‘I’m terribly sorry. I’ve just noticed what the time is. We have another viewing this afternoon and I’m afraid we really must be on our way. Thank you so much for showing us around and sharing your experience with us. It has been a great help.’
We shook hands and left; waving to them as we headed off down their drive.

‘What a miserable pair of …’ I stopped Sam in mid-description.
‘Forget it. Forget them. Let’s get home.’
‘I thought you said we had somewhere else to go.’
‘I did. We have. We call it home.’

For the rest of the journey we were both quiet with our own thoughts.


This all took place some five years ago. Now we are ready to open up our house, Thornhill Hall, to the public. The first time such a thing has happened. We have absolutely no idea what to expect. For this start we have three rooms of our living area open to view and three of the outbuildings. We have decided not to have a set entrance fee – in fact NO FEE.

We have been dropping little posters in the areas around us. It’s been a bit tough at times but the rain hasn’t been too heavy and the general weather quite mild. The posters have said that we open on Saturday 5th March – with a little nudge that Sunday 6th March is Mother’s Day – and Helen and her friend Sue will be having tea, coffee, soft drinks and homemade biscuits available for children, mothers and grand-mothers. At the other end of this March we have Easter.

We have put together a nice little – free – booklet telling the history of the house and what we have been doing to it over the last 5 years. At the exits of the house and the outbuildings we have put theft-secure opportunities for visitor contributions.

Wish us well. We’ll let you know after April Fool’s Day how we got on!

A walk round the streets can do you good.

As a youngster Tim had been a loner – partly by choice and partly because of circumstance. Dad had always seemed to be changing jobs – changes that caused his son to be continually changing schools. He coped very well as a loner. On leaving school he went to Technical College to learn extra skills and from there earned a place at University. It was not one of the top ones – Oxford, Cambridge and the like were beyond him – but it was a pretty good one.

Today was the first time that Tim Peterson had been back in this University town since he had graduated. In those long gone days his life had been beer in the pubs by the river, rowing with the girls on the river and late-night combinations of beer, girls and a trad-jazz band of some quality in the bar close by the river. Oh, he had studied as well and had obtained a reasonable 2:1 at the end of it all.

He had arrived late yesterday, checked into the hotel, sampled the mini-bar contents and then fallen asleep.

His alarm told him it was eight o’clock already – and reminded him why he was there. He had a 10 o’clock appointment with the local college selection board for a teaching post there. Julie, his wife, had seen the advertisement in the Sunday paper and had convinced him that it was a post that fitted him to a tee. He wasn’t so sure but he had humoured her by applying. The college, much to his surprise, had invited him for interview – and here he was. Not only that – he was determined to make a good case for the powers-that-be to hire him.

To be honest – he could not really care less about it, but Julie did. She was getting fed up with his frequent changes of jobs. It was not too bad while she was working as well – between them they had a more than adequate income for their needs. Now things were changing. Julie was six months pregnant and it was time Tim got himself a stable job; one of security, stability, and a decent income. Today was the day he was out to prove that he had what it took. Julie deserved it.

A church clock struck twelve noon as Tim stood outside the college gates. He was disgusted, disappointed and extremely angry – and that was an understatement. The optimism, ambition and determination he had felt when he had left home were all gone. The dismissive interview had destroyed all that. He had forced himself to believe that this opportunity would make a fresh start for him and Julie and their soon-to-be little one. Now it was crushed; he was crushed; he had let Julie and himself down. He could blame the ‘interrogation board’ but they were just doing their job, even if it seemed a bit one sided.

He felt that it was him – Tim the failure again. He walked across to the taxi rank – ‘Station please’ he said as the driver opened the door.

When he reached the station despondency, fear, self-loathing hit him. It was made worse by his mobile ringing. It was probably Julie. He didn’t answer it. How could he ‘face’ her? He had failed.

When the call had ended he played it back. It was Julie. ‘Hello Tim; just wondering how things went. Give me a call when you pick this up. I love you – and little one has just wriggled in my tummy. Bye.’

Tim turned the mobile off; put it in his overnight bag and put the bag in one of the security boxes at the station. He just couldn’t face going home just yet.

He wandered out of the station and meandered along a street he hadn’t seen for years. West Street had changed in many ways since he had seen it last. There was a lot more traffic for one, but it was still recognisable in others. It was certainly more appropriate to his feelings than a stroll through the ancient colleges of the city centre. As he walked, the ‘feel’ of the street began to merge into his mood. He became aware of the tattooists, the bicycle repair shop, an Asian general store and a couple of Chinese restaurants. He stopped and looked at the low-cost furniture shop’s display and thought of the conversation he had with Julie about moving and refurnishing when little-one arrived. There were estate agents – no need of those now, they wouldn’t be moving to this town after this morning’s debacle.

He walked on to a road junction. Across the road was ‘The Blue Boar’ – a sleazy looking pub that told all and sundry that they were ‘open all day’. It didn’t look much like the pub he would normally frequent – but he needed a drink. To his left and right was a narrower – much less busy –street. The one to his left headed to ‘who knows where’. To his right was a street of drab looking houses. Tim forgot about the ‘Blue Boar’ across the road, and his plan to drown his sorrows, and turned up the street of those drab houses. They matched his feelings, so he thought he would join them.

He hadn’t walked far when he began to feel at home – not that it was anything like his home with Julie. This street had a ‘feel’ that suited his present mind-set – depressed, frustrated, yet now becoming determined.   All the houses opened straight on to a narrow pavement no more than a single stride wide. He walked on, then, without warning, the pavement did widened. A low wall filled the gap and behind that was a single cottage with grass that needed cutting and some shrubs that had seen younger days. The building was something tangible, cosy in its’ own right yet seemingly unoccupied and lonely; a house saying ‘you’re welcome here, I know how you feel’ to Tim.

Tim stood and looked – something in the back of his mind was trying to get out. Something was beginning to establish itself when an aged man stood behind the window – staring at him. Before Tim could react the man had thrown open the window and shouted angrily in a dialect Tim didn’t recognise. He didn’t need to know what was being said – it was very clear that he was not welcome standing and staring just there. Tim mouthed a silent ‘sorry’ and moved on. The man reminded him of his grandfather who didn’t like people ‘gorping’ at him either.

It also brought back the interview he had attended that morning. The interviewers had not really wanted him. Tim was convinced that they knew the one that they wanted from the beginning. For them Tim – and probably one or two others – was ‘cannon fodder’. They were just going through the motions to make it look legit.

This street – strangely devoid of traffic – was taking hold of him. Was it showing the same depression that he felt? Was it in need of a ‘pick-me-up’ to bring it back to life? Tim mumbled ‘I know how you feel’. He walked on a short way then saw a welcome sign. ‘The King’s Arms’ it said. Tim still wanted a drink and went in. The place was empty apart for a middle-aged woman behind the bar – and she seemed to have the same amount of drive and humour as Tim felt – ZERO. He looked around – the place had seen better days and could do with a clean. He settled for a bottled beer and a bag of crisps. The woman served him then turned her back – she obviously did not want to talk. Tim drank his beer straight from the bottle, finished off his crisps and was just leaving as half a dozen men pushed in. They were obviously regulars as the woman started pulling beer as they walked in.

Outside the pub Tim looked at his watch. He should retrace his steps and get back to the station and his journey home but something in his mind told him – ‘not yet – walk a little further’. He looked again at his watch – ‘ten minutes more he said to himself’ then I’ll head back.

Twenty yards or so from the pub there was a road joining from the right. Sandison Street – a new name as far as he could recall from his past time here – looked like it should head back to the railway station. Tim turned into it. He hadn’t gone far when he saw a house that was so different from everything thing else he had seen.

It stood back a little from the road – there looked as if one or two cars could park there – and had been spruced up. The large window facing the road did not have a domestic look about it.   Moving a little closer Tim could see that interior was a workshop – a workshop with a very cluttered bench inside. It may be surrounded on either side by houses, and behind the workshop there may be a house as well – but in front it presented itself as ‘Peter Barker – Bow Maker’. Tim went closer. The workspace was crowded but not scruffy – and the bows were very obviously not for shooting arrows. Lying on a table were five musical bows for strung instruments. On the door hung a handwritten sign ‘Back soon’.

Tim stood there. Hadn’t there been a Peter Barker at his time at the Uni? Hadn’t he been a musician? ‘It can’t be the same guy can it’ Tim thought. With a shrug he looked at his watch and walked on.

The road turned to the left – it wasn’t heading to the station it seemed so Tim turned round and began retracing his steps.

The ‘Back soon’ sign on the door had gone and Tim paused and looked through the window. A man – presumably Peter Barker – was there, putting on an apron. As Tim watched he selected something from his bench before sitting down with a work-in-process bow on his lap. There was something about him – the way he’d walked; the way he held his head – that reminded Tim of the past. Could this be that fellow student of days gone by? Certainly the Peter Barker he remembered was musical with both voice and instrument. This one looked at ease with his work – work that no doubt he enjoyed. He looked up, saw Tim, smiled and nodded to him, then carried on with his shaping of another bow. Tim smiled, raised his hand in acknowledgement and headed back to catch a train. ‘If only I had more time’ Tim thought.

At the station he retrieved his bags and caught the next train heading homeward. Once on his way, Tim tex’d a simple message to Julie – ‘Been here; done it; taken a walk; home soon. Love you – and little wriggly-one’.

Once home he told Julie the whole story of the day. She cursed the appraisal board; said it was their loss not Tim’s; and then changed the subject to what the ‘little wriggly-one’ had been doing.

Tim decided that the board’s decision was their loss, and that the walk round the streets was his gain. There were more educational establishments around that needed staff – and anyway, there were more important things pending. One of these was only three months or so away.

Over the following days Tim found himself having a more positive attitude than he had enjoyed for ages. The forthcoming ‘little wriggly-one’ was a great boost, and if he started to feel down he recalled watching Peter Barker.

He envied that man’s apparent self-sufficiency and every time he began to feel down Tim looked for ‘the Barker effect’. It worked – but he didn’t tell Julie that; she might get the wrong idea. In any case – when little William Timothy Peterson arrived there would be more pressing needs anyway.

One thing Tim never did tell Julie was that he had toyed with the idea of having their little fellow christened William Timothy Barker Peterson in memory of a day that began a change in his daddy’s view on life.

2,042 words