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A bunch of bananas being offered to a girl from a sailor on a boat at Bristol Harbour

The Life & Sea-faring Times of Richard Hendy, Mariner

Richard Hendy is a Bristol man who spent much of his life at sea, starting as a galley boy (aged 14) in Atlantic Convoys (oil tankers) with the Norwegian Merchant Fleet. After the war...

“Free Coloured Persons”: the ancestral story of Charles Walter Cumberbatch

“Going to Barbados” (a euphemism for being “under the influence”.)  Benjamin Franklin, 1737. (attrib.) [1] “Barbados is the other place where I like to be.” Cliff Richard. Introduction This is the sequel to “Pamela...

My Pillinger Women: No. 4 – Martha Britton Pillinger and her daughter, Pamela Pillinger Cumberbatch

On 12th May 1850 when a baby girl was baptised at a small village in Somerset called Queen Charlton, her first name may have caused a slight flutter of interest, as it did to...
Fossil Hunters on Charmouth Beach

Charmouth Tales: “All he did was sell Monmouth some fish……”

Only a few days back from Charmouth in Dorset, so I’m still demob-happy, not yet ready to contemplate the list of historical ideas I’ve got for future blogs in the dark days and long...
Finding Pollie Wells letter

Finding Pollie Wells

In 1874 a young woman called Pollie Wells wrote to her brother Charlie at Southampton. Exactly a hundred years later I saved the letter from the flames – her niece, an old lady called...
A Party of Barnardo Girls ready for embarkation in Liverpool, 1909

‘No Place like Home’  –  Clements & Hodgetts: a Family Story

Chapter 11 of my book, ‘Killed in a Coalpit’, about the lives of the Kingswood district colliers is entitled ‘A Young Hero – Edward Albert Powell’, who was known as Ted. At the age...

My Pillinger Women: No. 2 Amelia Pillinger (1835-1882)

In the present year, 2022, Amelia is number 3 in the top one-hundred girls’ names. Before we get to Amelia Pillinger let’s start with…two historical Amelias: The name first became popular when the German...

‘WANTON WENCHES’ AND ‘INCORRIGIBLE ROGUES’ CHAPTER 3: The Bristol First Fleeters

The majority were young men all convicted by the Bristol courts for (usually) petty thefts committed in the city. Most had waited years in Newgate gaol, and suffered further imprisonment and hard labour in...

More of the Peters family story

The history of Jimmy Peters, the first black man to play Rugby Union for England, and the sketchy life of his father George is told in a previous blog. In this post, I return...
Cap badge of the Gloucestershire Regiment

‘Uncle Norman’: Perrett Park Keeper and veteran of ‘the Forgotten War’

We had it pretty sticky for a few days – our casualties up to Wednesday were approximately a thousand, The Gloucesters were over 600 and the other two battalions about 150 each.”    ...