Portrait of Muriel Harriet Fletcher

Andrew Sanders has very kindly sent me a photograph of this portrait of Muriel Harriet Fletcher, daughter of Colonel Henry Charles Fletcher and Lady Harriet Marsham. She married Captain Henry FitzHerbert Wright (see Wiki entry here). He was the son of my great great grandparents FitzHerbert Wright and Charlotte Rudolphine Louise von Beckman. 

Muriel and Captain Henry lived in the Old Hall between 1903 & 1913 that as demolished in 1929 and stood on the site of what is now Hall Court in West Hallam. It’s close to where Andrew now lives and he is currently writing a book called ‘Ilkeston’s & surrounding area Subterranean Past – Truth or Legend’. The portrait was handed to the Head Gardener John Burrows when they left to live at Yeldersley Hall, where my grandmother was born. Would make nice wedding present for Princess Eugenie later this year, as she is descendent of Muriel but neither Andrew or I have been invited ;)






The Patrick McDonald Collection


Late last year I went to a rather magical cultural gathering of second cousins that have common Maitland and McDonnell of Keppoch ancestors. I took my mother along as she had been to the weddings of the parents of both sets of cousins. Not only did they offer a fantastic spread and mulled wine on cold winters day, but played music and read poetry including the The Wee Town of Effen. I didn’t bring much more than myself, some booze, chocolates and stories about their ancestors. But my mother read some of her poems and now attends poetry reading with one of my cousins she met there. Continue reading

More on (Birtwistle) Coat of Arms

My posts about my Birtwistle family ancestry have by far the most active comments. There seems to be a common ancestor we might all be descended from with some commenters being more rigorous at proving so than me:

Ralph de Bridtwisell (c.1160) of Bridtwisell in Hapton (between Burnley & Accrington)

There’s an archaeological dig that may have even discovered the small Hamlet of Hapton Cum Bridtwistle we may all hail from in Lancashire:


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Alan Birtwhistle: onBirtwistle, Birtwhistle, Birtwisle, Bertwistle and Birdwhistell family trees

I am still plugging along keeping up with our family tree which you can have access to if you want. Just let me know. I may have to give you permission to access.  I just need your email address. The tree is quite large since the tree also includes both my and my wife Martha’s ancestries. Martha’s ancestry also goes back quite a ways in England, in fact, further than ours. (I can also supply you with your direct line back to Ralph, our so far earliest ancestor, to make it easier to follow your line and correct me for any mistakes or provide me with better information.) You will be given credit as the source of such data.

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Photos of Walker Ancestors


Kathryn Neville has very kindly sent me some photos from the album of John Vincent Walker of my Walker ancestors. The note attached to the one above says, ‘Mother (Eliza Walker) and Aunt Polly with Great Grandfather and housekeeper at Brownedge’. We think that the Aunt Polly in the photo is my maternal great grandmother Mary Agnes “Polly” Walker of Avenham Towers. Eliza Walker (née Holden) was the wife of Charles Aloysius Walker (Polly’s brother) who lived at Brownedge House, Bamber Bridge, near Preston. We are guessing that the Great Grandfather in the photo is Charles and Polly’s father James Walker of Avenham Tower.

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A toffee pig for Christmas – Chapter Six

This is the sixth and last installment of my mother’s memories of her childhood in Lancashire. You can read the other chapters here:

Now we can start the long, delicious, shivery  countdown to Christmas . In the kitchen, tables are scrubbed and heavy with fat-bottomed, cream-glazed bowls of cake or pudding mixtures; curds of sugared, brandied butter and eggs by the dozen, all beaten within an inch of their lives till smooth and pale. These mixtures are thickened with dried fruit: with raisins, sultanas, currents, candied peel, angelica and cherries.  Suet, grated carrots and bread crumbs are added to the pudding mixes, flour and spice is folded into the cake bowls.  We take it in turn to stir, to make wishes, to fill the cake tins and pudding bowls, to scrape them out and lick the spoons, the raw mixtures being so infinitely more delicious to us than they will be after their long metamorphoses. Pudding bowls are wrapped up in butter muslin and steamed for seven hours then hung in the larder to await a further hour’s steaming on Christmas Day.  The largest, deepest cake-tins, lined and covered with greaseproof paper, are slipped  into the middle ovens of the Eagle range; Molly, the young cook, hovers over them until, after three hours or so, they are taken out and pierced with a  skewer … if it comes out clean, the cakes are done and can be left on wire racks to cool before being covered with a thick layer of marzipan then coated and piped with a hard, tooth-cracking shell of royal icing. When finished, they are stored in sealed tins, to  await Christmas Eve  and the final trimmings of snowmen and esquimaux,  of robins, logs, polar bears, miniature Christmas trees, gold and silvered-paper frills, scarlet ribbons.

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