The Krays on The Hamble Peninsula

The Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, Hampshire

Royal_Victoria_Military_Hospital,_Netley,_Hampshire;_from_th_Wellcome_V0013983The Royal Victoria Country Park at Netley Abbey is due to undergo a £2.68M restoration of its historic buildings, via the Heritage Lottery Fund, secured by Hampshire County Council.  As part of this the human side of its history is being brought together from memories of the site from locals with family or other links to the site.  In charge of this is Paul Del-A-More, a Hamble local who is Project Manager for the venture.  Paul’s Blog can be seen here:

Being based in the area Timedetectives decided to do some digging of our own, and came up with some interesting connections to the area via the Family History of the Kray Twins.

The Royal Victoria Hospital was a personal project of Queen Victoria, and when built was the largest Hospital in the world.  It served the British armed forces from the time of the Crimean War, through the 19th century and on into the First and Second World Wars, until the demolition of most of the buildings in 1966 during the Philistine demolition boom that destroyed so much British History in the 1960s.

During its time, from the aftermath of the Crimean War to WW2 the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley served generations of soldiers from all over the United Kingdom, its Colonies, and allies.  To understand how such a place could have an effect on generations of British Families I have taken an example of the Kray Twins Family as an extension to other Kray stories in this Blog.

The Kray Twins are of course synonymous with East End Gangsters, but the twins had an enduring connection with this area of Hampshire spreading from Southampton in the West, through Netley and the Hamble Peninsula, out to Waterlooville in the East, even ignoring Reggie Kray’s time in Prison on the Isle of Wight.

The First Kray in Netley Hospital

John William Kray, the Kray twins Great Grandfather’s brother, had left his job hammering rivets all day, to take up a life in the army at 18 years of age and in 1870 when he had joined the 65th Regiment of foot.  His career in the army was a fractious one, with constant bouts of indiscipline and sickness. He came to be in Netley Hospital whilst stationed in England as veteran soldier with seven years under his belt.  He was admitted on 30th April 1877, for a mystery illness, and the doctors scratched their heads whilst John Kray the brawny ex-riveter spent a lovely couple of weeks of bed rest and recuperation chatting to the nurses in the grounds of the large beautiful Hospital bordering the Solent.  Eventually  the Doctors after scratching their heads and listening to his diverse description of his ailments, decided that despite his protests of illness, there was nothing actually wrong with him other than a likely case of malingering by an experienced old lag of a Private.Netley-Pier-01_800

Having failed to prove himself sick, he deserted for six months in 1879, then voluntarily re-joined in the same year having got bored with being on the run.  On his return he was sentenced to a month’s hard labour and stoppages of wages.  Shortly after this the Army decided that he would be better off out of harms way in the Far East, where he spent the next fourteen years serving in the East Indies; India, Aden, and the Soudan (sic).  Having failed to get sick whilst at Netley, John Kray surpassed himself in India where he managed to get six year’s worth of diarrhoea, Malaria, Dysentery, Gonorrhoea, and Syphilis, despite this he continued serving, given his particular ailments he obviously made the most of his time in the tropics.  He no doubt longed to be back in Netley enjoying the sea breezes off the Solent.

In 1884 the regiment was sent to the Sudan to fight the ISIS of their day, The Mahdists, led by the man from whom they derived their name, the “Mahdi” or the “Mad Mullah” as he was nicknamed by the British Troops.  The Mahdi was , who had killed British General Gordon and overrun an Anglo-Egyptian outpost at Khartoum in the Sudan.  John Kray would see some real action in the Sudan for the first time in his military career.  John’s regiment engaged with the Mahdist Army after the Mahdists had destroyed an Egyptian force sent against them, and had captured the Egyptians’ modern British manufactured  firearms in the process, so posed an even greater threat to the British Protectorate.  1884eltebred

The Mahdists had a defended position at El Teb but were overrun by British forces with light casualties (John’s regiment only receiving seven casualties) but killing two thousand Mahdists in the process.  The Mahdists were later re-engaged by John’s regiment at the battle of Tomai where for a loss of just over two hundred the British killed four thousand Mahdists.  1884tamai2red

After the actions in the Sudan John Kray’s regiment is sent home, and in 1889, after nearly twenty years in the Army John went  back to civvie street, where he married, and settled down in Leeds where he worked as a commissionaire.  The only member of the family at this time to move away from the London area.  He would die in Leeds in 1906.

No doubt when John Kray reminisced to the rest of the Kray clan about his adventures in the Army, he would have told stories of his best remembered time during a balmy English Summer malingering in the grounds of Netley Hospital; his two weeks of contented holiday on the Banks of the Solent.

The last Kray at Netley Hospital

Clement Henry Kray, a second cousin of the Kray twins, also ended up in The Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley.  The circumstances of him arriving there were very different from those of his malingering distant cousin John who we heard about above.

While the Kray Twins line of the family had been Lamp Lighters, Clement’s line of the family via his Grandfather had pulled themselves up by the boot straps to open a small tobacconist shop in Bethnal Green, and Clement’s Father, Henry Joseph, had managed to get an education and move into lithographic printing, eventually opening a small printing business for himself.

in 1900 Henry had volunteered for the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), not actually as implied by its name an artillery unit, but a mixed unit of Infantry and supporting artillery, drawn from Londoners from the area of the City of London, and the oldest volunteer Regiment in the British Army.

Clement Kray, Henry’s eldest son, had been doing well for himself before the War, he was a young commercial traveller from Harlesdon, and no doubt enjoyed life and expected great things to develop, as the Country moved from Victorian seriousness and poverty for the working classes, into a time of opportunity and a developing Middle Class in the Edwardian era.  In 1910 he followed his Father as a part time volunteer soldier in the HAC, so had a good career, some status in a well respected volunteer force, and a bright future.  But the Great War would change all of that.

Clement was shipped over to the French/Belgian border to fight the Germans in 1914.  The HAC took part in the Battle of Ypres, and Clement’s unit was dug in around Kemmel, the highest point on the battlefield, which of course put them up as a prime target for the Germans.  The Kray Twins’ Grandfather “Mad’ Jimmy Kray was in France in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) another London regiment, at the same time as Clement, and no doubt heard about the action at Kemmel where his second cousin Clement was fighting.

hackemmelThe HAC were soon heavily engaged during the bitter winter of 1914.  On 15th December 1914 the HAC went over the top and charged the German lines after an artillery bombardment, having to run uphill many of the HAC had been cut down by the Germans on the way in.  Despite this they had overrun the German positions and had taken a terrible revenge on the Germans who had surrendered, shooting many of them out of hand in revenge for their fallen comrades. By their own admission many of the men had a blood lust brought on by battle, and such incidences of brutality outside the rules of war were far from uncommon amongst the hard-bitten British professional soldiers, for example in the same battle 300 German prisoners were reported slaughtered after  surrender by the Royal Scots.  Clement was one of the unlucky HAC soldiers who was wounded in the Battle.  The wounds were far too serious to be treated in the field, or even further back from the battle front, bad enough in fact for Clement to be shipped back to England.

Clement was shipped back to Blighty on a hospital steamer, unloaded onto one of the specilaised Hospital Trains at Southampton Docks, which steamed the few miles down the coast to Netley, where he was taken into the care of the volunteer nurses at the Royal Victoria._wsb_360x203_brcsnetley

Netley, after much criticism, had been added to with a large number of huts to accommodate patients in better conditions than were previously available in the wards, and was visited by Sir Frederick Treves in November, just a month before Clement Kray was shipped across from from to it.  Treves was famous as the rescuer of Joseph Merrick (sometimes mistakenly called John Merrick) better known as The Elephant Man.  Treves was now very senior in the Medical Profession, looking after the Royal Family, and had also served in a field hospital in the Boer War, so was keen to make sure that facilities were as good as they could be for wounded soldiers in the Great War.  In his report he describes The Royal Victoria Hospital as:

“It is a ‘Hut Hospital’ of 500 beds, essentially a Field Hospital capable of being readily moved. When completed at the end of the present month, it will be made up of 45 Huts disposed as follows:- 25 for patients, 9 for nurses, 5 for orderlies, 3 as recreation rooms, and 3 for isolation wards.
At present only 25 Huts are occupied, 10 of these being Ward Huts. The Operating Theatre is not yet completed. The staff under Sir Warren Crooke-Lawless consists of 18 medical officers, 65 female nurses, all fully trained, a matron, 20 quartermasters, and 130 N.C.O.’s and men. The Hospital is rationed from Netley. The wounded are brought into Netley by a special ambulance train, thence they are transported by stretcher to the Hospital, a distance covered in some four or five minutes.

The number of patients in the Hospital is at the moment 140; 80 being British soldiers and 60 belonging to Indian troops. In another week the Hospital will be able to accommodate 300 patients. As an illustration of efficient transport it may be said that a large batch of patients now in the wards were wounded on a certain Friday and were in bed at Netley on the following Monday. There has happily been only one death at the Hospital, that of a soldier with a desperate shell wound of the skull exposing the brain. The first major operation performed in the Hospital was not upon a soldier, but upon one of the Hospital orderlies, who was seized with appendicitis and is now a cheery convalescent in his own ward. The cases are practically all gunshot wounds. There has been no tetanus and little gangrene. No cases of typhoid fever have been received. The medical cases have been light, although among them are six cases of Beri-beri.

The Hospital has the general appearance of a toy town made up of grey Huts arranged, with great formality, in a meadow behind Netley. The Huts are the best of the type I have seen. They are light, airy and well ventilated. They are lit by electric light, are warmed by slow-combustion stoves (two to each Hut) and are amply supplied with water. The sanitary arrangements are quite admirable, the many difficulties that presented themselves having been surmounted with complete success. Each Hut contains 20 beds and has a well-arranged annexe. The furniture, beds, bedding and general equipment of the Huts leave nothing to be desired. The Hospital kit, issued to each man by Lady Wolverton is excellent and – if I may venture to say so – is better than that supplied by the Army. It consists of a blue jacket and trousers, both lined with flannel, a vest, shirt, night dress, towel, handkerchief and slippers.

The Red Cross store, managed by Lady Lawless and Mrs. Miller, is a model of efficiency and order. The new Operating Theatre, built under the direction of Mr. Cuthbert Wallace, is admirably arranged and will soon be completed. The nurses’ huts, with 9 cubicles in each, are very comfortable. The kitchen is furnished with every requirement for a hospital of 500 beds, and the sergeant cook is very proud of it. He exhibited a roast fowl and a bowl of beef tea with the confidence of an artist who was displaying finished works of art.

The Medical Officers, under the direction of Mr. Cuthbert Wallace and Dr. Miller, are doing excellent work, and these gentlemen speak in the highest terms of their efficiency. The matron pays a compliment to the Society in its selection of nurses by her assertion that her staff gives the greatest satisfaction and there is not a single nurse she would wish to change. The orderlies are men drawn from various Voluntary Aid Detachments throughout the country. It will be of interest to the Society to know that Sir Warren is not only entirely satisfied with these men and their exemplary behaviour, but also – although the staff is so large – that he has not had occasion to make a complaint of any one of them.

A whole-hearted enthusiasm and a determination to do their best pervade the entire staff of the Hospital from the highest to the humblest. This excellent spirit derives its inspiration partly from the fine example set by Colonel Crooke-Lawless himself and partly from the fact that everyone at work in Netley is proud of the Hospital he serves. In that pride the Society may well participate.”


Clement spent Christmas 1914/15 and New Year in Netley, but sadly died of his wounds on 22nd January 1915.

Clement’s Father had already lost his youngest son Frederick earlier that year, and had the sad task of having Clement’s body shipped back to London by Trainhis Mother and Father buried him at New Southgate Cemetery Enfield, with the following epitaph:

Clement Henry Kray

1st. Battalion Honourable Artillery Company who fell in the Great War.  Wounded at Kemmel, nr. Ypres, 15th. Dec. 1914, Died at Netley Hospital, 22nd. Jan. 1915, aged 22 years

“Duty bravely done is the rising of the Sun of glory”


The Twins

During the Second World War when Reggie and Ronnie Kray were children, their mother took therm away from the Blitz in London to the relative safety of Hampshire, it is not clear where exactly, but the episode did not end well, as the twins’ unruly behavior proved too much for the kindly Doctor who had agreed to take the family in, and very soon they were back to Lopndon, andn then evacuated again to Suffolk, where they saw out much of the War.

This time in the country made a big impression on the twins, although they were Cockney born and bred and the family had been since the 1700s, they had an abiding love of the country, and when things got a bit too intense in the East End, thye twins would come down to Hampshire for a little holiday, here Ronnie coulkd play Lord of the Manor with his silver topped cane and tweeds, while he and his brother Reggie would drink in their favourite Pub outside of London, The Bugle Pub near the waterfront in Hamble.

So taken were the twins with Hamble, that they bought a small house in the village, Hamble Manor Lodge, right next door to Hamble Manor.  The twins didn’t just take it easy while in Hamble, they are rumoured to have had various dealings with the local underworld in nearby Southampton, where the docks were rife with money making opportunities, and there are even stories of a motor launch that was owned by the Twins being abandoned at Southampton Docks when they were finally banged up for murder.  Maybe it was just a pleasure cruiser, or maybe it was used for other purposes?  “Mad Axeman” Frank Mitchell was said to have been wrapped in Chicken wire, weighted down, and dropped in the Sea after he was murdered by the Kray’s associates.

There are also stories of a collection from a Bank Manager in Waterlooville of £85,000 that was taken to Ronnie Kray while he was in Prison.  Maybe there are still some mysteries to be uncovered?

If you’d like to see the Time Detectives interview with Fred Dinenage on ITVMeridian you can find it here   The Kray Twins on The Hamble Peninsula

…and if you have your own Family Stories about servicemen who spent time in The Royal Victoria Hospital Netley in Hampshire let me know and I’ll pass them on in time for its historic restoration.  Please feel free to leave a comment on this page.

If you’d like your own Family History professionally researched, please contact me on



The Family History of The Kray Twins Part 7: Mad Jimmy Kray

James William (Jimmy), the Grandfather of the Kray Twins had the chance of a reasonable start in life.  His parents only had two children, although there were three children from his mother’s first marriage, but compared to the hordes of children usually living in one room with their parents, the Krays were not in such a bad position.  Jimmy worked as an Electrical Apprentice at a Cable Maker’s Company, this was a great opportunity for him to lift himself out of the poverty of the East End, Electrical works at this time were a New Technology and a qualification in this area would guarantee him a good life for him and any family he may have in the future, even more so he had been made an Overseer Managing staff at the tender age of 17, an indication of his strength of personality as well as natural ability.  But life can be cruel, and the sweetest of things can lead to the bitterest of outcomes.  In his teens Jimmy fell for  a Docker’s daughter five years his senior, Louisa Eliza Turner, lied about his age, meaning that he didn’t have the blessing for the marriage from his father, and married her at St Anne’s Church Hoxton on 5th May 1901.  The reason isn’t hard to find, at the age of 16 he had made her pregnant, and a month after their marriage, James Frederick John Kray was born to them in Hackney.  So it is without a doubt certain that he would have been under massive pressure, and threats of potential violence from Louisa’s family if he didn’t “do the right thing”.

Things started to get worse for him, he lost his job at the Cable Maker’s, had to move house three times in 1901 with a wife and small child, and another one soon on the way, he worked as a Labourer, then a Porter, both poorly paid unqualified jobs, before finding his way to the street markets of the East end where he became a Hawker of flowers, a job he would do for more or less the next ten years.  Wheeling and dealing using his wits and drive to carve out a living, the family growing with child after child, John George in 1902, Albert Charles in 1904, Charles David (The Kray twins father) in 1907, Alfred  1909, William George in 1911, and Louisa in 1914.  So on the eve of the First World War, he was living in one room in the East End with a wife and seven children.  His prospects looked dreadfully bleak.

With the outbreak of the First World War (The Great War) Jimmy found a means of escape from this grinding poverty with the guarantee of regular money being available for his family.   Jimmy Kray joined the King’s Royal Rifle Company (KRRC) on the 14th September 1914, this tells him a bit about him physically, as the KRRC and other Rifle or Light Infantry Regiments were traditionally recruited from smaller fitter men, expected to march at drill at twice the normal speed and deploy at the jog-trot or run.  It also shows that he was quick to sign up.  Just as quickly he was shipped to Boulogne in France and marched to the front.

While he was in France Jimmy may have heard news from home that one of his second cousins, Clement had died of his wounds whilst serving in the Honourable Artillery Company.  Clement had been doing well for himself before the war, he was a young commercial traveller from Harlesdon, and no doubt enjoyed life and expected great things to develop, that was over now.  The Honourable Artillery Company consisted of both Infantry and Artillery, and his Battalion had fought at the first battle of Ypres, they had charged the German lines after an artillery bombardment, many of them had been cut down by the Germans on the way in, and had taken a terrible revenge on the Germans after they had surrendered, shooting many of them out of hand.  By their own admission many of the men had a blood lust brought on by battle, and such incidence were far from uncommon amongst the hard-bitten British professional soldiers, for example in the same battle 300 German prisoners were said to have been slaughtered after their surrender by the Royal Scots.

Ironically the KRRC fought at the 2nd battle of Ypres,  perhaps this made Jimmy want revenge, and would see him through his dramatic engagement with the Germans.where the Rifles were supporting a Canadian Corps.  The Germans had burst a hole through the french Colonial troops holding part of the front by using poison gas on them, the clouds of yellow gas filling trenches and killing thousands of the unsuspecting french troops.  They used the same tactics against the Canadians, and then launched three of their own corps threatening to overrun the Canadian position making a huge dent in the Allied Line, but the Rifles and Canadians fought a ferocious action against Artillery and Gas attacks, and finally faced three times their number of German Infantry pouring over the top and flooding into the Allied trenches.  The fighting was desperate, but despite initially being pushed back by sheer weight of numbers, the KRRC and the Canadians made a final stand and fought the Germans to a standstill; the line was badly dented, but held.

James was wounded in the fighting , “luckily” receiving a “Blighty Wound” that left him in one piece, but got him shipped back to England and honourably discharged after treatment in 1916.  he was awarded The Silver War Badge to wear, a necessary precaution to show the civilians back at home that he had done his duty and had been shipped out of the army because of his wounds, he wore the Silver War Badge as a mark of distinction; men who were thought to be shirking their duty at the front were in danger in the East End of receiving a beating from returned soldiers and their families, so the badge was a necessary precaution.  Having said this, the chances of many people who knew Jimmy Kray trying it on with him was probably small once they’d been toe to toe with him, the little man’s reputation for violence was formidable, and had no doubt been considerably enhanced by his time fighting hand to hand with beefy Germans outnumbering him three to one, there weren’t many situations that he would worry about after that.

The prevailing sentiment at the time was summed up in the poem In Flanders Fields, written by a Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, having just buried a friend who died at the second Battle of Ypres:



In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

The torch; be yours to hold it high.
To you from failing hands we throw

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

This was published in Punch Magazine in December 1915,  it’s not a poem about remorse and hand-wringing guilt, so common after modern conflicts, it was about right and wrong, noble sacrifice and revenge.  The trauma these men suffered was channelled in the public consciousness into pride and action, no thought of surrender, quite the opposite.

One of Jimmy’s other second cousins, Sergeant George Kray of the Middlesex Regiment, was also discharged from the Army in 1916, and received his Silver War Badge, although he was discharged sick rather than wounded.  The number of men suffering debilitating serious illness in the trenches often outnumbered those wounded.

Sidney James Kray (another second cousin to Jimmy) was the only Kray to see the war out without being killed, wounded or having his health destroyed.  He left the army as a Corporal in the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) and like the rest of the cousins, served his time in France.

It wasn’t just the Kray men who did their part, Alice Kray (another second cousin) joined up and served as a Nurse having seen what had happened to her brothers and cousins.

Discharged with his scars and medals, Jimmy Kray came back injured from the horror of the tranches, to a single room filled with children, Elizabeth had been born in 1916, and as a sign of the relentless poverty the family found themselves in, she was the only child to die in childhood in 1918.  With no prospects Jimmy went back to trading in the markets, coming to the conclusion that there was money to be made trading secondhand clothes, what was called a Wardrobe Dealer, and he would carry on doing this for the rest of his life.  It wasn’t a great living, but then wasn’t bad either for a man with his wits about him.  According to Reggie Kray, one of the twins, his grandfather Jimmy would scan the local papers for news of a death, then go around to the house, offer his condolences, and also offer to buy any old clothes from the deceased they may want to get rid of.  The logic he used to get the cloths at a knock down price was that it was hard to sell clothes of those who had recently died, so would a few bob suffice?  Most people went along with this, especially if the main bread-winner had died and they needed some immediate money for the funeral and drinks for the wake.

Using his intelligence Jimmy then took to going around the local housing estates that were springing up in the East End after the First World War offering sets of presentable (cheaply bought) china in exchange for decent clothes, the many new housewives and young couples living on the estates would be only too happy to swap clothes for a nice socially aspirant set of china.  He continued doing the buying for the rest of his life, and had the sense to set his son, the Kray twin’s father Charlie, up in  a shop in Brick Lane to sell the clothes that he bargained for.

The trading brought stability to the family and they continued the family tradition of living in Gorsuch Street from the 1920s till Louisa’s death in the 1950s.  However the there was another side to Jimmy, he carved out a good living for his family in the harshest of circumstances, but was a terror around the markets, the little ex-Rifleman was a notorious brawler, just as well, survival would have been difficult with this fire in his blood. However Jimmy took it to another level, and earned the nickname “Mad Jimmy Kray”.  Some of this is most likely down to drink, as in later years he would have a heart condition most likely aggravated by bouts of heavy drinking that would lead to his death.

Drinking would eventually take its toll on Jimmy; he died in 1949 of a heart condition that was possibly aggravated by past heavy drinking.

To see my brief TV interview concerning the Kray Twins’ relationship to the Hamble Peninsula in Hampshire, and their favourite Pub there click here.

The Family History of The Kray Twins Part 6: Continued Decline

After John died Elizabeth continued to bring in money for the family by dressing the hair of horses, a strange occupation by today’s standards, but highly in demand an age when horses were everywhere as the only form of transportation.  brewery dray horses were especially well-groomed as a walking advert for the breweries they served, and it seems likely that Elizabeth groomed them, as she ends up living with Joseph Brown a Brewer’s Labourer from Mile End, they settle down together in Henrietta Street Bethnal Green, with the younger Krays who take the Brown surname, as well as her son Frederick Kray, who is an adult and retains the Kray name.  Her daughter Esther follows her mother into the Horse Hair Dressing trade.  But once again Elizabeth is dogged by tragedy as her husband Joseph Brown dies in 1895, and she ends up in Bethnal House, a lunatic asylum from 1901 and she sees out her days there.  Was there a hint here of the psychological strain in the Family that would manifest itself in future generations?

The older children had gone their separate ways years before their father’s death.  John William had left his job, hammering rivets, for the army life at 18 and in 1870 had joined the 65th Regiment of foot, where he spent the next fourteen years serving in the East Indies, India and Aden, and the Soudan (sic).  John was shipped out to India after basic training, where he managed to get six year’s worth of diarrhoea, Malaria and Dysentery.  He deserted for six months in 1879, then voluntarily rejoined in the same year, he was sentenced to a month’s hard labour and stoppages of wages. In 1882 the regiment was on its way home when it was diverted to the Sudan to help fight the Mahdists who were staging a revolt against the Anglo-Egyptian Government of the area.  Here John would see some real action; his regiment being sent to engage with the Mahdists who had previously destroyed an Egyptian force sent against them, and had captured the Egyptian’s modern guns in the process.  1884eltebred

They met the Mahdists at their defended position at El Teb where they overran the position with light casualties, but killed two thousand Mahdists in the process.  The Mahdists were later re-engaged by John’s regiment at the battle of Tomai where for a loss of just over two hundred the British killed four thousand Mahdists.  1884tamai2red

After the actions in the Sudan the regiment is sent home, and in 1889, after nearly twenty years in the Army he goes back to civvie street, where he marries, and settles down in Leeds where he worked as a commissionaire.  The only member of the family at this time to move away from the area of London.  he died in Leeds in 1906.

Frederick, after the death of his step father Joseph Brewer, carried on for the rest of his life making shoes and boots, staying until the first world war in the east London area, then moving a little further out to Hampstead where he died in 1941.

James Kray was already an adult in his twenties when his father died, had moved out of the family home some time before and was working as a cork cutter, a semi-skilled profession that was required for corks for bottles and jars, and the shoemaking and cigarette trades, providing soles for shoes and tips for cigarettes, both of which trades his family were already involved in, his uncle James running a tobacconist and his brother Fred making shoes.

In 1884 James marries Jane Sarah Wild in Bethnal Green, they would only have two children James William and Betsy Florence.  The marrage may have been a rushed, as James William is born just three months after the wedding.  The family lived in the Bethnal Green and Shoreditch areas of East London, and this would be the generation that moved into Gorsuch street, Shoreditch, that would provide a haven for them for many years to come.  During this time the family, like all Eastenders, lived in the shadow of the Ripper.  Jack The Ripper killed five prostitutes between August and November 1888, the reality of a few months breeding a myth that has lasted across three centuries.  many other murders were attributed to the Ripper, but only five really are attributable to him.  The horror and worry caused by these murders, whipped up by the press was out of proportion to the reality of the Eastend, where similar, if less flamboyant, sadistic murders were happening constantly, mainly in a domestic setting, or associated with gangs and pimps extorting money from prostitutes and carrying out sadistic punishments when the money wasn’t forthcoming.  But the Ripper murders caused panic and fear, and lead to a paranoia amongst the working classes of the Eastend that would no doubt have been shared by the Krays, making them territorial and very aggressive towards suspicious strangers and foreigners.

But whatever the paranoia of the times, James and his small family had stability, and this stability was reflected in James employment, as he remained in his role of a Cork Cutter for well over 30 years, moving from manual cutting to machine cutting at the turn of the twentieth century, before machines to automate the whole process came in with mass production after the first world war, so just as his father before him had gradually been pushed out of his Lamplighter’s role to become a Gas Fitter, so James was made redundant by mechanisation.  James story was more tragic however, as he falls far down the job scale ending his days as a stoker in the boiler room of the local hospital; back-breaking work for a man in his sixties, where he dies of Cancer at the age of 65.

To see Part 7 of the Kray Twins’ Family Story click here.

The Foreman Family History Part 3

Herbert Arthur Foreman 1870-1934


Emma Watson 1873-1960

Thomas’s death must have had a profound affect on the family, he had struck out on his own after leaving the Navy and started a new life for his family in South London.  But at the age of 63 he was gone. There were cousins north of the river in the east end, but it was the South London in Battersea and Clapham area that the Family grew, and learned to be self sufficient.  They had to be, Thomas and Emily had had seven children on a Blacksmith’s wage, and Herbert and and Emma would have thirteen children on a labourer’s wage.  Times were going to be tough.

Herbert grew up at a time of massive change in Battersea, at the turn of the 1800s the population of Battersea had been a few thousand labourers, market gardeners, and some Gentry, by the time Herbert was born it had risen to about a hundred thousand, the gentry had gone, selling the leases of their land and mansions to speculators and railway men, the railways proliferated, small scale industry followed, and tens of thousands of houses were needed for the workers, rows of small estate houses were thrown up quickly and rented out to the working classes, by the time herbert was a teenager all the market gardens and virtually all the gentry’s houses were were gone, bricks and mortar, iron railways, and cobbled streets had taken over.

Herbert Arthur worked as a Carman, driving carts, a common trade all over London, the equivalent of a van driver today.  He and his family moved frequently, mostly in Battersea, but lived for a while in the early 1890s at Canal Bank in Peckham, literally alongside the Surrey Canal, an interesting, almost rural part of Peckham with a slower pace about it reflected in the leisurely comings and goings of the red sailed Thames barges and long canal boats that plied the quiet back water.  It does make you wonder if Herbert ever told stories to his wife Emma that he had been told by his father and grandfather of the Thames barges and smugglers of the family’s life on Faversham Creek, dodging the revenue men.  Nostalgia aside, Herbert slaved in the local surrey docks and wharfs as a Sawyer in the Deal (Timber) yards.   The family only stayed in Peckham for a year or two, long enough for their first child Ethel Annie to be born, and soon moved back to the family home turf in Battersea, where Herbert gave up the backbreaking sawyer job, and went back to being a Carman.  the family would spend the rest of their days in Battersea.

Between 1894 and 1913 the couple would have a further twelve children in Battersea, which must have been a massive struggle, especially as Herbert worked between 1895 and 1914 as a Labourer, often for a Bricklayer.  This again is hard work, all day in the open lugging bricks and mortar up and down ladders all day, building big hard muscles, and an ability to take care of himself, albeit he must have been dirty and exhausted at every working day.

The family’s poverty was reflected in their constant moves in the streets of Battersea, between lodging houses in the years between 1894 and 1915 no less than ten times that we know of, barely living in the same house for a year at a time.  Battersea became a Metropoltan Borough in 1900, with money and decision making being devolved to the local Council who were quick to start making improvements to the area, building an electricity generating station and updating some of the street lighting from gas to electricity.  They also built a public baths for the many working people in the older houses who had no bathrooms or hot water, and of course well maintained council houses were built.  These improvements would continue during the next decades, a testament to what can be done when decisions and budgets are taken away from central government and devolved to locally accountable decision makers.

Whereas the First World War brought tragedy to many families, for Herbert and his burgeoning brood it was a time of opportunity.  Herbert himself was slightly too old to be conscripted, and fortunately his first four children were all girls, meaning that his sons were just too young to be called up.  Couple this with the fact that most able bodied Labourers were now being blown to bits in France and Flanders, and Herbert, for once in his life would gain some good fortune.

Good fortune is a relative term, he was now working as a Labourer in the Gas Works, a better job than he had had before, but still a tough one, stoking furnaces with coal, and emptying them of of the residue left after the coal gas had been driven off for lighting and heating the homes and Industry of Battersea.  At least he was now working indoors, and would never be cold at work, quite the reverse.  He was also working in an environment composed to a large extent of older men and young able bodied women, who, for the first time were being given roles in what had been male dominated industry.  What Herbert made of this we don’t know.

This new stability is reflected in the family settling at 22 Sheepcote Lane Battersea, where they would stay for decades, living with the active socialism of the various Trades Union men and women living in the same Lane.  The Lane itself was parallel to the omnipresent railway line, and the family would’ve heard the trains rattling by night and day.

For the rest of Herbert’s life from 1919 till 1934, and for at least another generation after this, the family lived on in Sheepcote Lane, a rare degree of stability.  Emma would outlive Herbert by many years dieing in 1960.

The Foreman Family History Part 2

Thomas Foreman 1838-1901
Emily Louisa Miller 1848-1922
Soon after the family moved back down to Faversham, Thomas aged about 21 decided that his prospects would be better served in The Royal Navy than working on dry land in Faversham.  In 1861 we find him sleeping overnight as part of the skeleton watch crew onboard HMS Plover on the Medway River.   On the night of the 1861 census, Thomas now a Stoker 2nd Class, was onboard with Fred Smith another Stoker, the Assistant Engineer, the ship’s boy, and an able seaman who had brought his wife and four sons onboard for the night (a common occurrence in home waters with local families nearby).
Being a Stoker 2nd Class onboard this small gunship, was about as low a rank as you could get, but guaranteed a quick recruitment for those physically fit enough to live up to the job as the Navy had a tremendous need for Stokers now that steam was taking over from sail.  Thomas having trained as a Blacksmith, would have been brawny, and used to hard work in hot environments, a perfect qualification for a life below decks stoking the ship’s boilers, probably the least glamourous job on the ship.
The Plover was  one of the hybrid transitional ships in Navy service at this time rigged with both sails and a steam engine powering twin screw propellers.  It looks as if a life in the Navy suited Thomas for a while, but not for long, as in 1866 he is back on land in Lambeth, South London working again at his old trade of a Blacksmith.
In his late twenties he obviously decided that it was time to settle down, and on 4th November 1866 in St Mary Lambeth, he married Emily Miller, seven years his junior, and technically a minor at the time being barely 18, who married with the permission of her father a local Carpenter.
The marriage was a fruitful one with seven children born between 1867 and 1888, although there is a gap of seven years between 1882 and 1887 when no children are born to the couple, perhaps they had children that died too young to reach the 1891 census, or perhaps there were other reasons for the gap, a separation or an illness?  The children we do know about are Thomas Joseph born 1867, Herbert Arthur 1870, Louisa Emily1873, Ernest Alfred 1875, Edward James 1879, Lillian Emma 1881, and Nelly 1888.

During the 1870s and 1880s he worked as a smith on coach works, an job that guaranteed work at this time in a city awash with private coaches and carriages for hire, the taxis of their day.  Also during this time the family moved from Kennington in South London to Battersea, also in South London, and Battersea would be the home of the Foremans for generations to come.  During this time they saw the old wooden Battersea Bridge come down and the new Iron Bridge go up.  A major undertaking and a sign of the times.
They lived in Acre Street and Sussex Srteet near the Railway.  Small two story houses had been put up by speculators especially from the 1870s onwards who followed the Railway, building over the old Market Gardens that had produced Pumpkins and asparagus for the gentry in the city,  replacing them with workers keeping the railways and factories running.  In 1889 we find Thomas working as a Fitter, which was a logical move for a blacksmith, from horse drawn coach repairs to repairs for steam powered trains and machines in this industrious area of South London.  A skilled job which would have produced a comfortable living if Thomas was careful with his money.  It is most likely that Thomas used his smithing skills on the railways, given the fact that he lived right in between The London Chatham & Dover Railworks, and The London and South Western Railworks in Battersea, with several rail lines clattering alongside the streets he lived in.  Things looked good for the family until Thomas, at the age of 63 in 1901 died leaving his wife to look after the two youngest girls, supported and helped by their older siblings who were at work.
After Thomas’s death, Emily and some of the family stayed in the area when Sussex Street changed to Wadhurst Road, having taken the house over from her son Herbert Arthur who had lived there in 1894.  It lead directly into the Railworks.
Eldest son Thomas Joseph had found work as a Fishmonger, a good trade that guaranteed food on the table, at least fish that is, and was living in Clapham with his family.  Living till 1940 in the Wandsworth area.
Herbert Arthur was less fortunate and worked as a Bricklayer’s Labourer, an unskilled job that meant long days outside in all weathers, carry bricks and mortar in a hod up and down ladders all day. He and his family moved frequently, mostly in Battersea, but lived for a while in the early 1890s at Canal Bank in Peckham, literally alongside the Surrey Canal.  They only stayed in Peckham for a couple of years, long enough for their first two children Ethel and Annie to be born, and soon moved back to the family home turf in Battersea, and initially into what would become the family’s HQ in the area for some years’ 82 Wadhurst Road.
Ernest Alfred took a similar line to Herbert as a labourer, married Florence Holloway in 1901 and moved away from the area to Croydon, where he stayed for the rest of his life, dieing there in 1944.
Edward James worked as a Brewer’s Labourer, a slightly better job than his two labouring brothers as much of the work was inside, and he would get a beer ration along with his wage.  He had married in 1900 to Helen watson and they stayed in Battersea living at 82 Wadhurst Road with other members of the family.
The roads the family  lived in in Battersea were working class, but not slums, the further you moved from Lambeth towards Clapham, the better the area generally became, many slums had been pulled down to make way for new estates of small terraced houses in the 1870s and 1880s.  So the family managed to keep it’s head above water at the turn of the 1900s, despite the shock of Thomas’s death, mainly by mutual support, grouping together in and around Wadhurst Road; there was safety in numbers.  Supporting each other Herbert, Ernest, their Mum Emily, and the younger girls, plus the boys wives, and some of the grandchildren made sure the rent was always paid, the kids went to school, and any trouble could be sorted out quickly.  The elder brother Thomas wasn’t that far away in Clapham, just a tram trip away, and Ernest in Croydon could always get back on the train if needed.

Jamie Foreman’s Family Story; Part 1 Origins in Faversham, Kent

Most people will know Jamie from his many film roles as well as his menacing portrayal of Derek Branning in BBC’s Eastenders.  His family history is equally dramatic, and is outlined here.

Origins of the Family

In Faversham Kent

The Foreman name is predominantly an eastern England Coastal name.  From Northumberland in the North to Kent in the South the name spreads down the English coastline, with the notable almost exception of Essex where the name’s history is sparse. Jamie’s ancestors were no exception to this rule. The name is Old English, and most likely derivation is from “foremost” or “leading” man, exactly as the work position of foreman in the building trade denotes a leader of a team of men, the same was true of the first holders of this name, in this case perhaps a leader of a team of shipwrights or carpenters.  The fact that the name distribution corresponds roughly to the areas first settled by the Angles and Jutes, among the sophisticated seagoing communities of the Romano/Belgic British on the east coast of England, may indicate that this was a name applied by the Germanic incomers to leaders of craftsmen from the original inhabitants of the area who were still prized for their abilities in carpentry and metalwork.

On the North Kent Coast a tidal Creek off The Swale in the Thames Estuary had given a safe harbour to boats navigating around the Isle of Sheppey, trading up the Thames and with mainland Europe.  Since at least the Iron Age British Belgic tribesmen had traded with their cousins in Northern France and the Low Countries, well before the Romans invaded, and the Romans, always having an eye for both the strategic and a profit, developed the port on the creek as a stopping off point between London and Gaul, and dredged the Oyster beds that provided tons of food for Roman households.

This trade port was still prized after the Roman Province of Britannia broke up in the Dark Ages and gave a summer residence to the Jutish Kings of Kent.  At this time name of the town developed from a Belgic/Jutish interpretation of the Roman word for a craftsman Faber, into Faefer, so it became Faeferham the village of the craftsman, possibly Iron workers or boat builders from Roman times.  This direct use of loan words from Latin would seem to indicate that Faversham was one of the earliest areas to settle Germanic speakers before the collapse of Roman Brittania, in addition modern research does seem to indicate that the Belgic tribes were speaking a Germanic rather than “Celtic” derived language when they arrived from the continent in the iron age, so the shift to “English” from Belgic/Latin was probably that much easier, and doesn’t need explanation by the forcing out out the original inhabitants by the incoming Jutish settlers amongst an already thriving community.  The other interesting point is that Faversham is unique as a place name in the UK, a fairly rare occurrence seeming to imply that it was shaped by a unique set of circumstances.

The Creek at Faversham held twelve feet of water at a high tide, so could accommodate most trading vessels of the mediaeval period, and an ancient quay called “The Thorn” had been built to make good use of the deeper parts of the channel near shore.  The Isle of Sheppey nearby is derived from Old English “The Isle of Sheep” and the town thrived under the Normans, and reached a Mediaeval peek with the Wool trade that made Britain rich.  The Traders of Faversham although always in the shadow of the bigger port of Chatham, none the less, built a steady trade between London and Europe, and the town slowly grew.


The boom in building in London from the 18th century made the need for bricks an urgency, and Faversham was ideally placed to ship the yellow Kentish clay bricks up the Thames, straight into the heart of the capital.  Being a busy port the one trade that was guaranteed was that of Boat Building, and from at least the 1700s onwards there was a family in Faversham building the boats of the wool traders, the brick traders and Oyster fishermen.  These were the Foremans.


For at least 200 years from the 1600s into the 1800s smuggling was rife along Faversham Creek, even remarked upon by Daniel Defoe, lamenting the growth of the town on the back of it.  So throughout most of coastal Kent smuggling was accepted and often supported, larger enterprises being financed from London.  Smugglers maintained this position above the law by a mixture of threat, bribery, goodwill, and family connections.  An enterprising family of boatbuilders may have avoided a little tax here and there themselves.

Faversham was ideally placed to support the smugglers, it provided a good port away from the Naval base at Sheerness on Sheppey, and the excise cutters at Whistable.  Surrounded by mud flats, Salt Marshes, with many inlets and creeks, their navigability known only to local men in small boats, and yet the main Faversham Creek deep enough for a large North Sea trading ship.  With the Isle of Sheppey and the swift currents of the Swale providing both cover and means of escape to the smugglers’ fast cutters, and the short passage to France and Flanders reducing the time needed to be at sea, meaning the Faversham Smugglers were not liable to be under the noses of the patrolling revenue cutters for very long.The Gangs, or “Companies” as they liked to style themselves, along the North Kent Coast tended to be smaller than the big organised Gangs of other parts of Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire, therefore attracted less attention from the authorities.  For example the smuggler gangs of Deal were so big notorious and well organised that in 1785 1,000 troops were sent in to attack the town and try to capture their boats!  The smugglers of Faversham were more low key, although openly brazen none-the-less, as when in 1821 two smugglers from the North Kent Company were captured by the excise men as part of a Naval Blockade, and marched to the gaol in Faversham, only to be released a few days later when the gang attacked the town gaol.  A £100 reward (equivalent of about £5,000 today) was posted, but the men were never recaptured.  Faversham had the added advantage of the Oyster trade with the Dutch who turned up surprisingly low in the water for boats with empty holds when coming to legally purchase the Faversham Oysters.

Unless the Foremans were the only honest shipwrights in the whole of North Kent, it is almost impossible to imagine, given the general collusion of the populace of Kent with the smugglers, that a family of carpenters and shipwrights working in the heart of an area that had been smuggling territory from the 1600s through to at least the second half of the 1800s, were not up to their eyes in the business.  However, they were no doubt smart enough not to be manning the boats themselves or exchanging fire with the Navy and Revenue Men.  They would have provided a key lynch pin service, building and repairing the fastest boats, that ran the blockade to the continent, and equally the barges that hoisted their red sails and peacefully slipped up the Thames past the looming floating Prison Hulks that held Dicken’s Magwitch, to London where the real profit lay.  It is unlikely that the Foremans ever went short of Rum, Tobacco, or gold sovereigns.

Samuel Foreman 1810-1897


Ann Transom 1811-1898

The Foreman’s had been documented as shipwrights and carpenters in Faversham from at least the mid 1700s.  Their grandfathers may have been among the “…rabble of seamen and others..” who captured James II on 12th december 1688 during his attempt to flee to France at the end of his fairly disastrous reign.  So Faversham was not a backwater, it was a place with far reaching connections within the Kingdom and the world beyond.

The friction with France during the 18th century was a boon to the Foremans, they were building ships throughout the period of the wars with France into the Napoleonic Wars and the early 19th century; the family prospered during this century of warfare and smuggling.

Samuel Foreman is the first that we can trace with a direct line to Jamie Foreman.  He would have known fairly good living conditions, large houses were built on the back of the legal and illegal trades of the town of Faversham, and there was no reason for any man not to be either gainfully employed, or making money by other means on the waterways of the Town.  The attack on the town gaol and the freeing of the two smugglers by the North Kent Company was no doubt witnessed by a ten year old Samuel, whilst the Family took no notice and got on with their work like the rest of the town.  Samuel’s father stopping work to use words like Kiplings for the boy’s benefit:

Five and twenty ponies,
trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie –

Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!

Samuel would have worked as an apprentice for his Father or Uncles for seven years from the age of 12.  During this time he would have worked long hours for no pay, just board and lodging, and would have had strict rules applied to his conduct.  At the end of the apprenticeship, he would have become a qualified Journeyman Carpenter around 1829/1830.He was obviously very skilled as he subsequently qualifies as a Pattern Maker, a highly skilled branch of carpentry, which involved crafting wooden “patterns” or the outline representations of particular difficult joints for shipbuilding, that could then be used by less skilled men to make the actual parts for a ship in a repeatable way without mistakes, their skills could also be used to make moulds out of wooden models for iron parts for ships and machinery.

By the 1830s the world was changing, peace at the end of The Napoleonic Wars meant that trade with the continent was ongoing, reducing the relative benefits of smuggling, and many of the gangs had been finally overwhelmed and either hanged or transported to Van Dieman’s land by the authorities.   An age of inventiveness, of Businessmen rather than Lords, of steam and engineering was being born in Britain.

Samuel moved up the coast to Dartford in Kent,  as there was a demand for skilled men by entrepreneurs like John Hall, originally a Blacksmith and Millwright, who now built steam engines,  and was applying his knowledge of iron working to build the engines for new ships.  John Hall had purchased the government gunpowder works at Faversham so had a connection with the town that would have made him aware of the best craftsmen there.  Samuel would have found good employment in such an environment, and may have met the inventor of the steam engine Richard Trevithick, who had been contracted to come to Dartford by John Hall to build a new type of steam reaction engine for his steamship design.  Unfortunately Trevithick would never complete the project as he died suddenly in the Inn in the town, and was buried by Hall’s directors and workmen, the funeral being financed by the sale of his gold watch.  Samuel may well have witnessed the great man’s funeral, marking the end of the beginning of the age of Steam.

The coming of the age of the new Queen, Victoria, proved good for Samuel in Dartford, and in 1837 he had saved enough money to return to Faversham to marry a girl from the village of Ospringe, Ann Transom.  They returned to Dartford and raised two children in Park Place; Thomas born in 1838 and Sarah born in 1843.In 1849 modernity in the shape of Steam, continued its impact on Samuel with the Steam Railway line coming to dartford.  This opened up a less parochial market for Samuel’s talents, and in the same year the family had uprooted and moved to Shoreditch in London, to 3 Appleby Street, off the Kingsland Road.  The driver was most certainly work for Samuel, as Appleby Street is within walking distance of the Regent’s Canal and particularly the Kingsland Basin where barges and lighters were moored and repaired.  These barges interestingly transported many of the types of commodities that made their way through Faversham to London such as coal from the North East coast, and timber from Scandinavia.

Appleby Street was working class, relatively rough and ready, but nowhere near as bad as many London areas at this time.   Arthur Samuel was born within a year or so of their arrival, and the Foremans shared the small two story terraced house with a Bricklayer and his family.  Most of their neighbours were London Cockneys, with a small scattering of men from Kent, Surrey, and a few other English Counties.The  Family stayed whilst the work lasted into the 1850s, when they would have seen an Italian called Carlo Gatti build ice storage pits by the canal to sell the ice in warmer periods for people to use for simple refrigeration, and also to make ice cream, bringing widespread sales of Italian ice cream to London for the first time, a great treat for the Foreman children.

But the trade on the canal slowly declined, so Samuel and the family once more took the advantage the railway being extended down the Kent coast to Faversham in 1858 and to Faversham Creek in 1860, the foreman’s moved by train back to their roots in Faversham, settling in Abbey Street.  Many of the houses in Abbey Street had been privately owned by individual families, but during the 19th century many of these well to do owners had moved out and the houses were now let to tenants, such as the Foreman’s.  To Samuel and his family memories of Abbey Street would have been good ones, with well to do families in the street, now it was their turn to live in the same houses, a great contrast to Appleby Street in Shoreditch, but no doubt the children missed the Italian man and his ice cream.

Samuel and Ann would stay in Abbey Street for the rest of their lives, down near the waterfront, and a short distance from Ospringe where Ann had been born.  Samuel carried on working as a Carpenter on the boats of the Swale and Thames tidal waters, large scale smuggling was gone and steam boats were moored in small numbers alongside the large numbers of sailing barges and Dutch and scandinavian vessels along the creek.  samuel and Ann would see their days out among friends and family in the place where their roots were, with memories of travel the length of the Thames, of smugglers, and steam engines, of London and ice cream.

Happy New Year to all my Readers!

A Happy, Healthy, and Hearty New Year to all my readers. More Whitechapel murders, mayhem, and mania in in the next instalment in 2011! Part 5 of the Kray Twins’ Family History coming soon.

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 2:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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Scandinavians Are Descended From Stone Age Immigrants, Ancient DNA Reveals

Scandinavians Are Descended From Stone Age Immigrants, Ancient DNA Reveals

How my Y Chromosome I1a ancestors took over Scandinavia in the Neolithic, see previous blog on Genetic Genealogy

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Published in: on September 30, 2009 at 7:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Genetic Genealogy

Genetic Genealogy


There has been a massive interest in Genetics over the past few years driven by advances in research and improved techniques to decode our Genetic makeup. Most people know about the use of DNA to track down criminals, sometimes decades after the crime was committed, and the political hot potato of a proposed DNA database holding the details of every individual in the country to help prevent crime and terrorism, you may be less aware that it has thrown up some interesting applications when applied to Family History, sometimes throwing up anomalies in family lines, but more often linking people to geographic areas way back before written records were kept, and thereby extending albeit sometimes tentatively, the reach of the Genealogist.

Let me give three examples of what can be achieved using the latest research.


The first is my own Tree for the last 140 years we have gone by the name of “McNeil” and from then till the present generation the family lived in Peckham in South London. Straight forward Genealogy, using Birth, Marriage, and Death Records (BMD) showed the ebb and flow of my direct ancestors over that time, and Parish Registers filled in some of the blanks concerning brothers and sisters of the direct ancestors, added to this were War Service Records, and Census returns which showed a slightly wider picture of family and neighbours, from tall of this a picture of the impoverished family performing constant “Moonlight Flits” one step ahead of the rent man in the back streets of Southwark. But having gone back four generations the records seemed to stop. Eventually the course of the gap was tracked down to the Family changing their name between Neal, Neill, O’Neal, O’Neil, McNeill, and McNeil, which in turn with earlier census records and a lucky break with a marriage in the Catholic Sardinian Chapel in London, showed that the family had come over from Kerry in Ireland. The upshot of all this detective work was a fascinating family tree going back to 1801, but again a gap was found in that generation as records in Ireland are sparse to say the least, most Census records having been destroyed during the Civil War in the 1920s, and most of the remaining being pulped for newspapers between the wars, Catholic Parish records being hard to get hold of made the matter worse. So it looked as though the trail would stop there, until the option of Genetic testing came up.

Surnames are passed down through the male line, and in the same way, the Y chromosome is passed down from father to son generally unchanged through many generations before the odd benign mutation crops up to differentiate branches of a family from the rest of that family with a similar Y chromosome. Using these near identical Y chromosomes a family tree can be built up over thousands and tens of thousands of years, with specific mutations showing a timeline and, because of genetic research, geographic locations for the family line over the years.

So off went the swab of cells gently rubbed from the inside of my cheek, and back came a series of numbers showing specific mutations of my particular Y Chromosome, which fitted in to the latest genetic research showing the modern distribution of the Chromosome, and the journey it would have taken over time. The upshot of the results were that my particular Y Chromosome was of a type found in relatively low levels in the British Isles, and even rarer in Ireland other than in very specific areas/families, but very common in Norway, technically it is classed as I1a.

The reason for this “Norwegian” Gene in County Kerry in Ireland, is because there were very specific enclaves in Ireland, the Vikings having founded various ports in the West of Ireland in Kerry and Cork during the 9th to 11th centuries. That would also help to explain the family’s blonde hair as children, turning much darker with age, and the blue and grey eyes, there were Norse recessive showing up through the dark Irish genes through the generations.

Going back further, this particular I1a Chromosome traces itself back from Kerry to the coast from Bergen/Oslo in Norway through the Iron (500 B.C.) Bronze (1800 B.C.) and late Neolithic (3800 B.C.) periods. In the hundred years before this their Neolithic Culture and genes, perhaps driven by internecine warfare, had pushed across the Mesolithic indigenous tribes in the Baltic marshes and islands of Northern Germany and Denmark. In the 1,100 years before (5000 B.C. to 3900 B.C.) they had multiplied with a sedentary farming way of life in North central Europe, especially Germany, clearing forests, building long houses, raising cattle and crops, as well as the proto-German branch of the Indo-European language tree, and their decorated Linear Band Ceramic (LBK) pots from which their culture took its name. They had pushed up the rivers and river valleys through central and northern Europe along the Danube, Rhine, and Elbe in the 500 years from 5500 B.C. to 5000B.C. driving their cattle and carrying their seed wheat and barley in ceramic pots.

Prior to learning agriculture from their south eastern Balkan neighbours and making their long trek up the Rivers of Europe to the North and West, they hunted deer and boar in the woods and fished along the coastline of Slovenia during the Mesolithic Age for perhaps 6000 years, and the roots of the founding father of the Group lived in the Ice Age Balkan Refuge around 11000 B.C. where he and his family hunted horse and reindeer across the tundra and plains, painted cave walls and carved animal bones into voluptuous platted haired Earth Goddess figurines, before the glaciers receded and allowed them to spread North and West giving us one of the main Germanic/Nordic Gene Pools.

The other interesting research shows that the first individual to have blue eyes in the world (due to the OCA2 mutation) from whom over 99% of all blue eyed people are descended on either their male or female lines was born to this or a related group at the end of the last Ice Age about 10,000 years ago, and the Blonde Hair mutation (MC1R) appeared perhaps just before this around 11,000 B.C. in roughly the same area of the Balkans refuge. Pale skin probably originated (to a great extent via the SLC24A5 mutation) around the time of the earlier ancestral migrants of this and other groups reaching Eurasia in the period 20,000 – 50,000 years ago.

The line goes all the way back from here through various measurable Y Chromosome mutations in a direct line to Genetic “Adam” who lived in North East Africa about 80,000 years ago, and is the genetic Daddy of us all, who would have had black skin, hair, and eyes.

Quite a journey for the lineage of a working class boy from Peckham! This gives the broad picture of what can be discovered by combining genetics with family history, but how can it help in pining down other family research?


Let’s look at a Scottish example I recently traced. The Genealogical research started fairly conventionally with the family in Yorkshire working in engineering in the second half of the 20th century, and farming during WW2, prior to this the family lived in Sunderland, working in the ship yards, the generations living in late Victorian times were still in Sunderland but working as Gardeners in the Parks and Cemeteries of the town. Then I got back to a major leap for the family their Great Grandfather had been the Captain of a small vessel running wine beer and spirits up from the importers and distillers in Northern England to Leith in Scotland, which having gained its political and economic independence from Edinburgh by act of parliament acted as the Port for Edinburgh, and was a boom town in the mid-1800s. His parents and siblings had lived in Dundee and worked in the first Jute and Flax Mills in the city in the Georgian Period.

So far, so good, but then I hit a block, as is often the case, once you get back beyond Census returns and Government Birth, Marriage, and Death registrations, you are back into Parish Records which can be a bit hit and miss in their contents, and for which it can be difficult to find corroborating evidence, albeit that the Scottish Records are somewhat better indexed than their English equivalents. The question was where had the family originated? Were they natives of Dundee, or were they incomers with the flood of people who poured into the city to seek employment in the new Flax and Jute Mills?

Using traditional methods of Census returns, BMD Registers etc, I had narrowed the family origins down to two families, both with the surname Stewart, and the same Mother, father, and child’s name, these were the only two families in Scotland at the time that fitted the bill for my client’s ancestors, sifted through what little supporting evidence I could find it was fifty fifty which of them it would be, and at this point I applied the genetic information we had gathered from a test of my client’s Y Chromosome which swung the balance.

The two candidates for the family were one Family from Dundee, and another from the other side of Scotland in a small Peninsula in Argyll. At first glance the Dundee family looked the obvious candidates because of their Geographic location in Dundee, but there were some very small discrepancies which made me cautious. Applying the Genetic evidence showed that the Y chromosome of my client was of a type loosely referred to as “Celtic” i.e. the genetic “Haplogroup” R1b, the commonest male genetic group in Scotland, on the face of it not a great help, until you start to look more closely at the detail. There is in fact a genetic gradient between Dundee and Argyll, i.e. from West to East for R1b, it being relatively more common in the West (Argyll) than in the East (Dundee), and also my client was from a sub-group commonly referred to as the descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages, “Niall Noigiallach”.

Niall of the Nine Hostages, the High King of Ireland in the second half of the 4th Century AD, the same Irish King who kidnapped Succat a Romano-British youth who escaped back to Britain and took Holy orders, returning to Ireland where he would become known as St Patrick! Niall is believed to be responsible for fathering the ancestors of a disproportionately large number of Irish descended men, up to 25% of the male population in some areas, which goes a way to showing how he left his mark on the tribes he defeated, and the likely size of his own personal “harem”. Niall defeated the Dal Riada (Scots) in battle when they originally lived in the North of Ireland, and forced them to migrate to Argyll and the surrounding area in what was Pictland, but was later to become known as Scotland. Interestingly some of these Scots warriors joined the Roman army as auxiliaries and are mentioned by at least one Roman writer as cannibalistic savages due to their habit of ritually eating the odd captive. As well as forcing the Scots to migrate from Ireland to Pictland, Niall also had his own colonies in Argyll and retained a loose overlordship of the Dal Riada (Scots). Genetically this “legend” is backed up by the replacement of “Pictish” genes and language with Scots Gaelic genes and language in Argyll during the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. It was from this movement of people that my client’s Stewart genes were descended, either from one of Niall’s own colonies in Argyll, or from a subject Dal Riaddic settlement on which he had donated his genetic line to a member of their female aristocracy. Eventually all of these Irish settlers became known collectively as Scots.

The other interesting fact apparent from this is that the Picts were not “Celts”, they had a separate language unintelligible to Gaelic and English speakers, a different genetic mix, pointing to a Scandinavian origin, and rode ponies that can also be traced back genetically to Scandinavia in pre-Viking times; Roman writers compared the Picts to Belgic, Germanic, and Scandinavian tribes in appearance, large limbed and with many red heads, unlike the dark haired dark eyed Gaelic speakers of the western extremes of Britain and Ireland. So counter intuitively, the next time you see a burly red or blonde headed Scot, draped in tartan and balling his Celticness at a Football or Rugby match, you can rest assured that there was probably nothing Celtic about his ancestry till well into the Middle Ages.

Using this genetic information I tied the family into the historical records, tracing them to Morvern in Argyll, and the picture became clearer. A small independent Sept of the clan Stewart held the lands of Morvern in Argyll, in the early 1700s they probably numbered about 1,500 of whom about 300 were men of fighting age. When Charles Edward Stewart landed in Scotland to raise the Scots in war against the house of Hannover in 1745 the 300 Stewart men of Morvern rallied to the Brattach Bhan, the White Banner, under Stewart of Ardshiel culminating in their presence at the Battle of Culloden, where the Highland Scots faced an army of Lowland Scots (there being very few Englishmen present at the battle) at the first sign of a retreat by part of his army of Highlanders “Bonnie” Prince Charlie ran away with his entourage despite being begged to re-enter the fight by the Clan Chief Clunie MacPherson who had arrived with reinforcements.

Despite this and the fact that Appin the wily Clan Chief of the Stewarts had not gone to the battle, Stewart of Ardshiel fought bravely with his men, attacking the Lowland Fusiliers and Cannon that faced him. These tore great gaps in the Highland ranks, and broke their charge. The Brattach Bhan, the White Banner which was the Royal Standard went down with the Standard bearer, and would have fallen to the Lowlanders, had not one of the Morvern Stewart Clan, a man called Mac an t-ledh, snatched it up, tore it from its staff, and wrapped it around his body to prevent it falling into the hands of the Lowlanders as Ardshiel and the bloodied remains of his brave clan including the Morvern Stewarts were forced to make their escape.

After the defeat Bonnie Prince Charlie took ship to France and lived the rest of his days travelling Europe living off the hospitality of whichever sovereign wanted to use him as a political pawn against the British Crown. The Clans were disillusioned by their leadership, and broken as a political force, with the lowlanders imposing harassment and armies of occupation in Highland areas. The Stewarts of Morvern were forced to give up their language, their plaid, and their religion (to a great extent), and settled down to work their crofts and looms for the Clan landlords who had refused to take the field in the rebellion (most Clan Chiefs had one senior member who followed the rebellion, and one that stayed at home and could therefore claim to be blameless if it failed).

In the intervening generations between Culloden where my client’s five times Great Grandfather fought alongside Ardshiel and Mac an t-ledh, and the birth of his three times Great Grandfather, the relationship between Clan Chief and Clansman was slowly eroded by the realisation of the Chiefs that they could become wealthy by turning their lands over to sheep and more intensive farming methods, these would produce more capital and higher rents than they could get from their subsistence farming clansmen growing Potatoes and a little Flax on their smallholdings. The situation was made worse by many of the chiefs preferring to live in Edinburgh or London rather than on their lands, and thereby loosing the connection with their tenants. The clansmen were slowly squeezed off their land by the avarice of their Chiefs, and were forced to embrace the future as best they could. In the case of Morvern the forests were cut down and the timber sold off for ship building and paper making, the tenants were removed from their ancestral homes in the interior and relocated to loch side and coastal settlements where they were instructed to supplement their reduced land holding with kelp collecting and fishing or small scale weaving.

Those who tried to grow Potatoes in the traditional manner were hit with an outbreak of Potato blight; it seemed as if even nature was conspiring against them. Their former farms were given over to sheep rearing by the Duke of Argyll. Betrayed once more by their countrymen, it was ironically English capital and an English industrial revolution that would save my client’s family. In 1829 it was to Dundee that the Stewart Family trekked and it was the English Industrialists in Dundee who welcomed in the starving Stewarts to work in their Flax and Jute Mills, pleased to find dispossessed skilled weavers used to handling flax were abundant and cheap it was a capitalist dream come true.

So the mystery of my client’s ancestry was solved by eliminating an obvious candidate for what was at first site a less obvious candidate via the genetic information which placed the Family’s origin amongst the descendants of a ferociously over-sexed Irish Warlord.


Here we have an example of evidence for a family staying put over a long period rather than throwing light on their travels.

Having traced the family through farming communities in Skipton in Yorkshire, where they had lived since the turn of the 20th century, it turned out that they had originated in Lancashire, over a period of hundreds of years, I followed members of the family from farm to farm, some never rising above labouring status, but the core line tenanting farms of their own paying rent to the local lord, and getting by through thick and thin, back to a single farmhouse out in the bleak marshes of the land between the Lune and Cocker estuaries on the Lancashire coast, where they slowly reclaimed rich farmland from wild marsh during the Georgian period. Generation after generation had been born, farmed and died in that place, side branches of the family never moving than a few miles from the family in the marshes.

This begged the question of how long they had actually been in that area? Civil records will take you back through the 19th century, Parish records, if you are lucky will add maybe a hundred to three hundred years on top of that if they still exist for the Parish, and you can find them, and they are legible, much further than this and you are in the lap of the gods for families that don’t own land or find themselves on the wrong side of the law. But genetics can throw a light further back than this if the circumstances are right.

In this case it was obvious that until the beginning of the 20th century the family had stayed in the same area of the same county, and for a great number of generations before that they had not even left one single isolated farm in the marshes. Given that the great upheavals of the passing of the Stewart, Georgian and Regency Kings and coming of Victoria had barely affected them, let alone the Corn Laws, Cholera Epidemics, Agricultural unrest, Industrial Revolution, The Napoleonic Wars, and Jacobite Rebellions, had not left their mark on them or their life styles, how long had they been there for?

My client carried out a genetic test on the male members of the family’s Y chromosome and came back with some interesting results. These showed that they had the “Celtic” R1b Y chromosome, which in this case pointed to the more or less original “indigenous” population of the West of the British Isles (as well as Ireland), they could have had other “intrusive” chromosomes from other “tribes” of the British Isles, for example the areas to the north in Cumbria, and to the south in the Wirral and Cheshire had strong intrusions of Viking settlers who show up with a different genetic makeup in modern British populations, or specific “indigenous” Eastern British chromosomes from the near continent, not just late Roman and Dark Age “English” markers from Frisia and Denmark, but ancient and related groups from early Neolithic farmers, and invading Belgic tribes. But none of these showed; the line was Celtic, and not obviously associated with sub-groups of the R1b type indicating Scots or Irish descent, it was most likely a native i.e. Mesolithic gene marker, probably in Britain from the repopulation of the land by Iberian hunter gatherers after the last Ice Age.

This gene marker had survived a second wave of immigrants and ideas from Iberia bringing Agriculture, polished stone axes and megalithic worship to North Wales, and ultimately to the indigenous tribes of the surrounding counties including Lancashire, this happened about 6,000 years ago. A third influx brought traders, miners and metal workers from Iberia to the Copper deposits of North Wales, and their trading and culture would have heavily influenced Lancashire leading to the Bronze age Culture between about 2,000 and 750 B.C., they would also have brought their “Lingua Franca” the Celtic language, which appears to have developed as a trading language for the Atlantic seaboard of Europe (rather than a movement of people) from the South of Spain to the North of Scotland.

The next major cultural innovation came with the Iron Age, with it came Belgic tribes (who the latest research would tend to show were not “Celtic” more likely “Germanic” in speech and culture from the North of France and The Low Countries) to the East of England from around 800 B.C. This ushered in an era of slightly colder and wetter weather and a push west against the Celtic speakers in the West by the Belgic speakers in the East. The Celtic speaking tribes with this family’s R1b gene in Lancashire adopted Iron tools and weapons and coalesced as a confederation called the Sistuntes (Sistuntii in Latin) in the coastal areas where their maritime trading and fishing skills helped them survive the climate down turn and warlike raids by the Brigantes from the East in Yorkshire. This places the Sistuntes bang in the middle of the area where the family were from both geographically and genetically.

The Sistuntes would have lived tolerably well in their little corner of Britain during the Iron Age, the climate improved again slightly from the turn of the Millennium from BC to AD, managing to just survive the Brigantian incursions, then came the Romans. In 79 A.D. the Roman Governor of Belgic Britain, the future Emperor Agricola, march to Mona (Anglesey) with a massive force of Legionaries, sweeping the North Welsh tribes aside, he crossed from the mainland to Mona, slaughtered the entire Druidic population there, and cut down their sacred Oak Groves. A Roman hob-nailed marching boot had been stamped down on the throat of Celtic resistance in the north west of Britain.

Agricola then marched north through Cheshire, to Yorkshire where the Brigantes were brought to heel, and into Lancashire where the Sistuntes were encountered. Being more interested in trade, and having seen what had happened to those who resisted, the Sistuntes sensibly acquiesced to Roman domination, and were rewarded with eight fortified military camps, connected by roads, which although built to protect Roman communications in the North of Britain actually protected the Sistuntes from the Brigantes, and enabled the Sistuntes to sell supplies to the garrisons thereby opening up trade and wealth for them. Out of the amalgamation of these Military camps, native civilian shanty towns, and agricultural villages, the Romans built Towns which would become Manchester, Warrington, Lancaster, Overborough, Freckleton, Blackrode, Ribchester, and Colne. The Roman occupation from the Sistuntes viewpoint was almost completely benign and indeed a great leap forward culturally, they could worship and live how they liked as long as they paid their taxes and kept the peace.

400 years of benign Roman rule collapsed over a period of about 100 years between about 400 A.D. and 500 A.D. What was left of the Garrisons in the cities held out under local Romano-British gentry. This was thrown into turmoil when the descendants of the Brigantes now with a veneer of Scandinavian pagan incomers from Angeln in Denmark, decided to push West again in what became known as part of the Anglo-Saxon invasions. In fact this was just a continuation of the Brigantian encroachments that had been going on since the start of the Iron Age 1,200 years previously, and carries up till this day with the rivalry between Yorkshire and Lancashire in Cricket; the names and weapons changed, but the genetic makeup of the players has remained more or less the same for the last 3,000 years.

The outcome of all this was that after initial setbacks when the invaders took some of the old Roman cities, the Celtic British managed to hold out, retake them, and formed the British Christian Kingdom of Rheged (sometimes two Kingdoms North and South) which at various times spread from North Wales and Cheshire to the Scots Border, the Anglo-Brigantes set up the rival “English” Kingdom of Bernicia facing them to the East, initially Pagan, eventually becoming Christian.

Politics being what it is, in 730 A.D. a dynastic marriage and a settling of disputes between the Celtic speakers of Rheged and the English speakers of Bernicia led to an amalgamation to form the Kingdom of Northumbria, giving them a fighting chance against the Picts, Scots, and Irish, who now menaced their coasts and borders. This was short lived as within 150 years Northumbria was effectively overrun by Norwegian Vikings in the West and Danish Vikings in the East.

Despite all of this turmoil the family’s ancestors survived to pass down their “Celtic” Y chromosome; a British “aboriginal” male line, that had survived Brigantes, Romans, Angles, and Vikings to come down intact to the present day. Interestingly names like “Roskell” appear in the early female lines of the tree and are derived from Old Norse, so although the male line went straight beck to Mesolithic times it intertwined over the centuries with genes through the female line from the Viking invaders and no doubt others. The point about the Y Chromosome is that is doesn’t get genetically shuffled every generation they way most genes do, so retains it “character” over millennia bar the occasional mutation which form the “branches” of its tree. Thereby giving us a glimpse of the amazing geographic stability of the families who farmed the marshes.


So as a tool for Genealogical research, genetics provides some certainties, a host of clues from which inferences can be made, but can be a blunt instrument in terms of throwing light on the specifics of a tree, other than proving a negative. As an example, genetics tells us some interesting facts, like if you have blue eyes you have a n ancestor who lived in the Balkans at the end of the last Ice Age more than 10,000 years ago, it can give you clues to an ethnic identity linked to a Celtic tribe allied to the Romans 2,000 years ago, a Viking colony in Ireland 1,200 years ago, and differentiate between two families in Scotland 200 years ago. Using it sensibly adds a new dimension to genealogical research, and paints in broad brush strokes the missing centuries in a family tree.

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If you would like to have your Family’s genetic Origins traced please contact Paul McNeil on the following email address:

Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 7:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Vector Ancestors

Success; a 300 Year Experiment.

“Family History is a succession of Silk Stockings going downstairs, and hob-nailed boots clumping upstairs.” Voltaire

I was always baffled as a child as to why some people lived in nice houses with big gardens, had new clothes, and eat three meals a day, while I lived in a slum in Peckham, didn’t have enough to eat, wore hand me down clothes, why had my parents brought me here rather than in a big house with a garden? Bloody inconsiderate of them I would say. I won’t dwell on my own success, what I’m concerned with here is the wealth of data I’ve accumulated running a Genealogy Business tracing Family Histories and writing up their stories, on the phenomenon of success and failure transmitted down the generations like a gene, until a social mutation crops up in a single generation that takes the family to a dazzling rise or a crashing fall in future generations.

I’ve found that there are key ancestors that have very similar genes to their siblings, and identical upbringings to their peers, who cause these nexus points of success or failure. I will set out the main factors in this article.

For an example of the winning vectors, the Hob-nailed boots clumping upstairs, let’s take the example of a family that approached me to trace and write the father of the family’s ancestry as a birthday present. They are a nice, property owning, middleclass professional family, but unbeknown to them their roots came literally from the Chalk fields of Kent, watered by the sweat of their brows.

Descended from Agricultural Labourers, their forebears had tilled the fields for the landowners of Kent for generations, life for one family being fairly identical to the last generation and so on for hundreds of years with no social movement. The agricultural slump caused by foreign cheap imports of food after the end of the Napoleonic War hit them hard, and they were turned off the land and out of their homes by the struggling tenant farmers who employed them, to find a living elsewhere or face starvation in the years before the harsh sanctuary of the work house. It was at this time in the 1820s that Thomas, the Great Great Grandfather of my clients, left the land and turned up for work in the Chalk Mines of North Kent. These provided the raw material for the Medway cement furnaces, to be shipped to the exploding building programmes in London.

The Chalk diggers were a rough lot, being used by their employers as coercive voting muscle in rotten Boroughs. Swinging a pick at a Chalk face for twelve hours a day, was not a job with prospects, but it put food on the table, and a roof over their heads. It was from this base that their vector ancestor blossomed.

He was Thomas’ son, also a Thomas, the oldest boy, and third of eight children. Three of his siblings died in childhood, so times were hard. Prospects looked as bad for him as they did for his father working in the Chalk Mines, but the turning point came in the 1850s when, after getting a local girl pregnant and marrying her, he left Kent to earn more money in the building boom in London. Engineers in London needed experienced men who could work as navies in hard and dangerous environments, but it wasn’t his expertise that gave him his break, rather it was a break in his bones that gave him his break! Laid up in St Bartholomew’s Hospital he was forced out of the lucrative labour market and back to Kent. Now he couldn’t feed his family, so his wife sewed sacks for a few pence to ward off starvation until he had recovered enough to go back into the chalk pits. Necessity being the mother of invention, the only way for a man with an injury to earn as much as a man without one was by means other than muscle, but how could an illiterate injured man do this?

His route was to join the democratic, and therefore subversive, congregational church, here he learned to read and write, almost unheard of for an adult labourer. He goes from marking his wedding certificate in 1854 with a scrawled “X”, to witnessing the marriages of his siblings with a confidently scripted signature. His ability to read and write enabled him to become the foreman at the mine, which meant less hard labour and more responsibility.

Although this was as far as he got in his life, it was enough, and he made sure his children received the education that he had lacked from an early age. When he died the wonderfully grumpy entry in the local Church register commented that his funeral had “No Church of England Service” so he marched out of the world to the beat of his own drum.

Educated at their father’s insistence the children had a much better chance of dragging themselves out of the Chalk Pits, although two would die young from disease. His eldest son William Edward, started in the same Chalk Pits as his father, but soon left the pick and shovel behind, and moved into the new technology of Cement Milling. This needed skilled and literate operators, so William Edward was freed to use his intelligence to commercial advantage. He built a career on the back of the technology, and went from an operator to running his own Cement Mill, moving from the industrial village to the local town, and eventually retired to the south coast. His surviving brothers did well one becoming a foreman like his father, the second an electrical motor attendant; another new technology.

William Edward’s son, Edward Percy, used his education to become a Commercial Clerk, moved around the country with his job, and was just too old to be called up in WW1, which meant that he could make the most of his position with little competition at home. His son and grandson took up as an Estate Agent and a Solicitor respectively, benefiting from the housing boom that stretched from WW2 to the present day.

This family shares certain decisive factors with others that used their intelligence to rise above their social lot. The 5 common factors that allow people with high intelligence to overcome low social and financial status are:

1. Drive, born out of adversity; a belief that your personal actions will change the situation for the better.
2. A basic education: in order to utilise intelligence, formal qualifications are less important than the skills rendered by the education itself.
3. A lack of regard in your actions for existing social constructs; taboos, and social pressures should not be allowed to act as brakes.
4. Embracing skills in new technology and boom areas of the market; plunge into such areas when demand is high.
5. Avoid making sacrifices “for the greater good” unless you are part of an elite (officer corps, bomber crew etc); the PBI (poor bloody infantry) get the muck and bullets, not the pensions and medals.

Published in: on May 22, 2009 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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