A Man of Vision


Two weeks into my retirement and hardly a word written!  It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but then life has a habit of interfering. I have managed to scribble this, hope you like it. Thanks to Kent Bonham for the interesting photo and to Rochelle for steering us through the maze…

15 April

Copyright Kent Bonham

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

A Man of Vision

‘How can we help you if you keep the design in your head Antoni?’

‘I cannot draw a design, as it changes every time I think of it.  It is a fluid, changing thing I cannot confine to paper.  If you will help me, then you must work as I work.’

‘But this bears no resemblance to any cathedral we have ever seen.’

Antoni stopped listening.

Through years of turmoil and political unrest he worked on his masterpiece.  He never finished it, but saw in his mind’s eye all the colours, the textures and the glory of his beloved cathedral.

*******

For more information on Antoni Gaudi and his work, including his beloved cathedral the  Sagrada Familia 

 

 for more stories, click Mr Frog

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And The Band Played On


Thanks to Rochelle for continuing to keep the Fictioneers in tune and to David Stewart for his photo this week, there was a bandstand like this one, in the park near where I grew up, those were the days…

Copyright David Stewart

                        Copyright David Stewart

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

And The Band Played On

‘When we’re married, you won’t go away to sea anymore will you, Wallace?’

‘No love, I promise. But these jobs bring in more money than I was earning in the orchestra.  I get to see more of the world too.’

Maria smiled, sensing it was best to leave things there. He had promised.

The letter telling him the band had been transferred to the White Star Line came three days later.

‘Look, I’ve been assigned as the new bandleader love, I could make some good contacts for the future.’

With Maria’s blessing he boarded RMS Titanic on 10th April 1912

♫ ♫ ♫

Wallace Hartley was born in my home town of Colne in Lancashire.  A large bust of him stood outside the library and I used to pass it most Saturdays when I went shopping with my mother. The story of how the band played on as the Titanic sank, was told to every pupil. The town is very proud of its famous son. You can read more about him here

Wallace_Hartley wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 

180px-Wallace_Hartley_memorial

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 

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Tracking down ‘my convict’


2015 is the year I intend to devote to completing the story of the life of my ancestor, Richard Boothman. I thought it may be good to recap on how I started this journey and where I am so far, for those of you who may not have seen the earlier posts.

Convict in my tree – part 1

I started researching my family tree almost ten years ago and today, like thousands of other people across the world, I am still trying to find my story; where I came from and what shaped me.  I started where all good ancestry researchers should, with my living relatives.  From them I got a lot of basic, necessary information like dates and places of birth and names of spouses etc which was a great place to start.

As I built my family tree, with more and more information gleaned from various sources, not least of which was ancestry.co.uk a story from my childhood kept coming back and niggling at the back of my mind.  My paternal grandmother was a great storyteller; I used to sit at her feet enthralled, listening to stories ranging from fairies at the bottom of my grandfather’s allotment to the tale of the man who, being wrongfully accused of a very, very bad crime, was sent far, far away from his family and friends to a desolate place across the sea, never to return.  I remember my sister and I having very bad dreams about him and my mother telling us not to fret as it was only a story and not true.

Over the years my research dragged on.  Then one day, I got a letter from my aunt, in response to a plea for help with the seemingly endless list of children borne to my great grandparents.  She listed all the children that she knew of and then, at the bottom of the last page, mentioned just how bad life had been for some people in those days and gave as an example,  the visits made to Lancaster Castle by female members of my great great grandmother’s family.  She had been told the stories as a little girl, about women walking miles to visit a male relative imprisoned in the jail there.

This must be the man in my grandmother’s story.  He was real!  I knew then that I wouldn’t rest until I had found out all I could, I just had to know who this man was and if indeed he was one of my ancestors…………….(to be continued)

Convict in my tree – part 2

The story of the convict stayed with me and I spent many nights on the computer, searching the family history sites trying to find out anything I could.  I decided to write to the librarian in Colne, explain what information I had and see if they had any documents that could throw some light on the story my aunt had told me.

I eventually had a reply, telling me there was only one man from the town who seemed to fit the bill.  His name was Richard Boothman and, at a riot in Colne on 10 August 1840 he killed a policeman.

I went onto the Lancaster prison website and typed his name into the database, nothing. There were long lists of prisoners who had stolen bread, horses, murdered their neighbours, husbands and wives, but no mention of Richard Boothman. Then one morning, whilst trying to sort out all the papers and folders I had on my family tree, I came across a package at the bottom of the box.  It contained an old book, all about the history of Colne, that had belonged to my great grandmother and had been given to me when my grandmother died.  It was written by a local historian in 1878.  I had scanned it briefly when I received it, but the writing style was very staid and after a while, just plain boring, so I had not got very far and had stopped not long after the bit about a supposed Roman settlement!

I picked it up again, wondering if there could possibly be anything in it about this case.  I sat on the floor of the study, slowly turning the thin, dry pages of small print until, towards the back of the book, in a chapter entitled “Guilty or Not Guilty” I found the story of Richard Boothman, weaver and murderer.

Since then I have spent hours trying to piece together his story and I am still working on it.  I have transcripts of letters he wrote from prison to his father, who never got over the shock of what happened to his son.  I read of him protesting his innocence and begging his father to find townspeople who would speak on his behalf at his trial and in one letter telling his father that ” the Assizes commence the 20th March” and could he please have a new pair of shoes.  Later, in February, he tells his father that he is” preparing to meet his fate with fortitude and courage”.  Some townspeople do make the long journey to speak for him at his trial, but he is found “guilty of  wilful murder”.

However, very strenuous efforts were made on his behalf for many believed in his innocence, and on 7 April 1841 there was success of a kind as a reprieve was issued.  But any hope was dashed on 14 April as he was served with an order for transportation for life.  Shortly after that he was taken from Lancaster prison to the prison hulks at Woolwich. He and the other prisoners were kept in squalid conditions and sent ashore to work across the river, unloading cargoes at the docks.  He worked there until he was transferred in shackles to the Barossa which set sail for Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and arrived in Hobart on 13 January 1842.

The National Archive in Hobart  were very helpful and I obtained a lot of information from them, including reports that he served his sentence at Impression Bay, Westbury, Quamby, Peth and Launceston; that he was considered a good worker; that in January 1844 his original term of probation expired and on 5 February 1850 he was granted his “Ticket of Leave”. Finally on 7 June 1853 his conditional pardon was approved.  He married another prisoner, Mary Brown who had left London on the convict ship St Vincent and it seems he settled in Launceston where he farmed until his death in 1877.  He is buried just outside Launceston.

The times he lived in were incredibly hard, he was a weaver at the time of the Chartist riots, a period of great unrest and yes, he probably did fight to defend his livelihood. I am glad that he survived transportation when so many convicts perished; I believe in his innocence and feel sad that the punishment he received was so harsh and that he never saw his family again.

I have helped others find a place in their family tree for Richard Boothman and also fill in a few gaps in the lists of the convict ships, but as much as I would dearly love to find a place for him in my family tree, I can’t yet .  I know that some of my great great grandmother’s family lived in the same street as the Boothmans, could it be that the story that has come down to me, is one of  the women of the street coming together to support the family in a time of great need?  Could it be that the women who walked those long, long miles to Lancaster prison with food and clothing for Richard were his sisters and their close friends from the street?  Perhaps I’ll never know, perhaps we are not related, but I know I will go on looking

Extract from ‘Chartist Ancestors’

Richard Boothman: A Lancashire weaver, Boothman was convicted of killing a policeman (named Joseph Halstead) in a riot at Colne on 10 August 1840. George Rude argues that Boothman’s Chartist credentials are not necessarily clear, but that the circumstances of the incident suggest a “better than even” chance of a political motive. Boothman maintained his innocence, but after his original sentence of death was commuted to transportation for life, sailed for Tasmania on the Barossa, arriving in Hobart on 13 January 1842. After two years at Impression Bay, Boothman went to work at in the north of the island. He continued to deny responsibility for the crime and to ask relatives to petition for his return in letters home, but was to die in Launceston, Tasmania, in 1877.

 

10 May 1933


Well I’m back from holiday, feeling refreshed and relaxed, so bring it on!  I missed you all last week, and your stories.  Internet connection was spasmodic to say the least.  I hope you all had a good week.

In answer to Rochelle’s photo prompt this week, two stories popped into my head. I’ve gone with the stronger of the two.  Thank you as always to our gracious hostess Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for her patience and unfailing encouragement.

Copyright - Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

10 May 1933

‘Come with us, it’ll be fun. We can get rid of all those books we hate.’

‘I don’t hate my books, how can you hate a book? Some are difficult to understand, but burning books, whatever are you thinking?’

‘If you don’t come, they’ll know.  All students are expected to be there, they’ll give us books if we don’t bring our own.  It’s time for a change; we are to be re-educated, the Propaganda Minister has said so, he will be there in person.’

Werner watched the burning with great sadness, fearing the world would never be the same again.

 —————————————————

Historical Note: On the night of May 10 1933, an event unseen in Europe since the Middle Ages occurred as German students from universities once regarded as among the finest in the world, gathered in Berlin to burn books regarded as being ‘UnGerman’…  Visit The History Place to read more

 

Read more great stories here,

We’ll Meet Again


I have been AWOL for a few weeks, I hope some of you have missed me…..

I have been busy working on a tender document which has proved much more difficult than I ever imagined when agreeing to do it. I mean, three weeks of my life is too much to spend on writing something that I didn’t enjoy. It has been submitted now, at 11.45 am to be precise so I’m free now to write something I do enjoy enormously…

Thank you to Rochelle for everything, loved your post and photographs about the Friday Fictioneers get together, so lovely to see you all in the flesh, so to speak!  Thanks also this week to Kelly Sands for the photograph.

11 July

 

Genre: Family History

Word Count: 100

We’ll Meet Again

Eight year-old Sheila skipped alongside her mother, so excited to be going on this adventure. They met other families on their way to the station. Some mothers were crying, Sheila idly wondered why.

Her mother, never one for showing much emotion, kissed her as she opened the door to the special carriage on the train.  She checked the gas mask was in its box and Sheila’s name tag was securely fastened to her coat.

‘Be a good girl. Say your prayers and do as you’re told.  I’ll see you soon.’

It would be four eventful years before they met again.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Notes:

Sheila is my aunt.  At the outbreak of WWII almost all the children of the city of Hull were evacuated to safety. Everyone knows how badly London and other cities were bombed, but for reasons explained below, the bombing of Hull was kept off the newsreels and out of the papers.

http://www.mylearning.org/the-hull-blitz/p-3047/

 

 

 

Seeing the light


Hello, it’s great to be here early for once instead of rushing around at the last-minute. I hope you’ve all had a good week. I’m looking forward to the Bank Holiday weekend and Monday off, when I will try to catch up on some of my writing projects (she says with fingers crossed)

Thanks to Renee Heath for the photo prompt this week and a special thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for her continuing support, diplomacy and encouragement.

Copyright Renee Heath

Copyright Renee Heath

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

Seeing the light

Frederick watches the crowd gathered on the pavement.  They are getting restless. Some shout concerns, about their safety, loss of their livelihoods. Not many seem supportive of his demonstration.

‘You’ll blow us all to kingdom come, you mad German!’

‘It’ll never work!’

‘What about the poor candlemakers?’

His wife tightens her grip on his arm.

At 9pm the gas is turned on. Pall Mall is lit up from end to end; the crowd roars approval, some even come to shake his hand.

‘Listen to them now liebling, no need for your fears.  You should have more faith in your husband.’

Artist unknown. Courtesy of National Gas Museum

Artist unknown. Courtesy of National Gas Museum

and now for the history bit…

In 1807, Frederick Winsor, a German born entrepreneur, demonstrated the use of gas to light streets, in London’s Pall Mall. Fifteen years later almost every large town in Britain, as well as Europe and North America, had a gasworks. The company he founded – The Gas Light & Coke Company, continued to supply most of the gas in London, until the industry was nationalised in 1949.  Read more at The National Gas Museum website.

For more stories click on Mr Frog 

 

Moonlight on The Ebro


I thought I wasn’t going to make it again this week – apologies to Doug for missing his very intriguing photo prompt last week.  I have been attending a conference in Italy – no, it was not lovely, nor was I lucky.  The trip went something like this – 2 hour drive – 2.5 hour flight – 2 hours on a bus – 3 hour conference – half hour bus ride – 3.5 hour dinner (no time to change after arriving) 1 hour to hotel – 6 hours sleeping – 1 hour working breakfast – 3 hours of meetings – 2 hours on a bus – 2.5 hour flight back – 2 hour drive back home.

Are you exhausted?  I was!

Thanks this week to Bjorn Rudberg for the photo prompt and as always to Rochelle for brilliantly shepherding the Friday Fictioneers into some semblance of order each week.

24 April

For some reason, I saw Spanish Civil War…

Genre: Historical fiction

Word Count:100

Moonlight on The Ebro

I remember.

The Ebro shimmered in the moonlight, unimpressed by our consuming passion. We lay holding each other so tight, we could scarcely breathe. The Brigade left quietly, at daybreak.

I taste the saltiness of tears and open my eyes. The music of the street floats in through faded shutters, it stirs memories of ‘Viva la Quinta Brigada’ your anthem, our song.

I am old, tired. I’ve waited a lifetime for my passionate fighter, mi amante.

In the cool evening air, I feel again the pressure of your strong arms. I fall freely, as I did all those years ago.

—o—o—o—o—o

 

For more information on the Spanish Civil War and of the men who went to fight against fascism in Spain –  The International Brigade

 

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Free


There has been quite a lot happening in my life just recently and the urge to write just got up and walked out. I had to have the lenses in my eyes replaced – not as horrific as it sounds I assure you – but a worry nevertheless. My work has also taken up too much of my time and I found I didn’t want to write – anything.  I have missed Friday Fictioneers very much indeed; missed the contact with people who had become very supportive friends; missed the exchange with people who are kind enough and interested enough to follow my blog, such as it is. I did try to post something for the prompt last week, then deleted it as it was not much good.  I am back to try again.

Forgive the out-pouring, but it matters to me that you know why I have been AWOL.

 

Copyright - Sandra Cook

Copyright – Sandra Cook

 Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 100

FREE

 Beth found the bones at 6pm.

They lay in a shallow space between the overhanging rock face and the old irrigation channel she was working in; she had been clearing stones and old debris from it for the past two weeks.

Rob came over when she called and casually inspected her find.

‘Looks small, a child perhaps?’

‘No!’ Beth shuddered at the thought.

‘Children worked in places like this; the find is not unusual.’

As he gently moved the bones to one side, a soft sigh whispered past them and floated up on the cool evening air.

Free.

At last

 

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