Monday, November 10, 2008

on the subject of interesting things


these are the indenture papers of Spot's best friend's great great great grandfather, born in 1795, and apprenticed at the tender age of eight on 8 December 1803, two years before the battle of Trafalgar. Painter was, I think, a seaman trade in the merchant navy. By the strange path that these things follow, his grand-daughter met and married the son of a Naval boatswain, presumably because they moved in sea faring circles (lots of tacking?). Her husband went on to design the great battleships of the late Victorian era and the first world war. I showed this document to a friend today, who visits the web site occasionally. His grandfather was a Naval constructor and helped to build several ships, including HMS Indefatigable; his family tradition has it that most of them were sunk at the battle of Jutland. When I checked out HMS Indefatigable today, who should have designed it but my very own great grandfather. It is odd to think that our (g) grandfathers must have spent many hours working together and that a hundred years later, after a multitude of life events and moves all over the world, their (g) grandsons found themselves sitting around discussing life and philosophy, and examined a document that was to link them together in a most unexpected way.

Great GP also went on to write a English Italian dictionary of Naval Terms, the only available copy of which is in the Congress library; can a love of things Italian be genetic? And his son Stanley, my great uncle was a midshipman on a battleship in the battle of Jutland. The ship was beached on the Goodwin sands, and all escaped including the ship's cat. I do not know whether to attribute his escape to good design or sound construction. Great grandpa made a fortune out of it anyway, which he dissipated on the French Riviera, and on an annuity, dying shortly after the purchase of which, thus setting the family on a new and entirely unjustified path of poverty, and proving the old saw of rags to rags in three generations.

More interesting things another day (and see this link to amongst the oaks which set me thinking).

5 comments:

rjleaman said...

It is possible that I've been reading too much Patrick O'Brian lately, but "interesting" strikes me as a bit of an understatement. The photograph of this document gives me chills: it's both personally and historically significant, and there's not much more that one could ask of a piece of paper. Thank you for sharing it.

Tara said...

WOW! Could the great grandfathers ever have imagined their grandsons being together discussing life? So fascinating! Also fascinating that your people have stayed in that part of the world for so long!

Anonymous said...

Did you know that there were 2 sailors from Stoke Climsland who went down on the Indefatigable? They were:

COLWILL C Charley
Stoker 1st Class 308535 31/05/1916 HMS Indefatigable

DOIDGE W William Thomas Leading Stoker K/4259 31/05/1916 HMS Indefatigable

Anonymous said...

In search of further connections, I had wondered if either of the sailors had lived in Venterdon. Unfortunately not, Charley Colwill was from Lezant and William Doidge hailed from Lifton.

spot said...

the strange thing is that neither of our families stayed in the area, far from it both travelled all over the place, but we both moved to this area within the last 15 years.