Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Odds and Sods

by Anna Campbell

As most of you know (because so many of you very generously popped over to support me on my blog tour and various other promo efforts - thank you!), I've recently had a book out. MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION hit the stands on 26th April and I've been talking to readers all over via interviews, blogs and in person.

One question that often comes up is where do I get my ideas. And I always answer (because it's true) that I get ideas everywhere.

To give you an example, a couple of days ago I was reading the English National Trust magazine - I have a friend who very kindly sends them to me and they're a goldmine of quirky social history - and I came across the sort of thing that might well spark a story idea.

The National Trust has recently bought a wonderful early 18th century (well, I say wonderful but it sounds a bit creepy, frankly!) house in Northumberland in the north of England called Seaton Delaval Hall. It was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh who designed the cold but very impressive Blenheim Palace which formed the inspiration for much of Cranston Abbey in MY RECKLESS SURRENDER. By the way, Vanbrugh combined successful careers as architect and playwright - not a double that immediately comes to mind! He was also a spy and spent time in the Bastille.

Hmm, I can see a blog coming up on him too! See what I mean about ideas being everywhere? Anyway, back to my piece on Seaton Delaval Hall!

When I read about it, Seaton Delaval Hall struck me as an unlucky house. They had a huge fire in 1822 because jackdaws nested in the chimney shafts (bit more dramatic than "I went to bed with the bar heater on," huh?). The family line died out as a series of heirs fell off the perch (for example, the original builder, Admiral Delaval had no living son and his nephew inherited) much like jackdaws in a lit chimney. After the fire, the house wasn't inhabited until the 1980s. There's even a ghost - a white lady who apparently pines for a Delaval heir who couldn't marry her.

Here's a link to the National Trust site for the house: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-seaton-delaval-hall

When I was reading this NT magazine, I came across a fascinating bit of history that really set my synapses firing. In the grounds there's an impressive mausoleum (pictured below) containing the remains of John Seaton who died at the age of twenty. Here's the quote:

"John, the heir of the Seatons, perished in 1775, having been kicked in a vital organ by a laundry maid to whom he was paying addresses. Thus died the last of the Delavals by the foot of a buxom slut. Over the broken remains of so much hope...his father raised a temple."

Oh, dear! Ouch!

Not the way you want your aristocratic line to come to an end (I'd say 'sticky end' but that might be gilding the lily!).

Now these few lines are interesting for a whole stack of reasons.

Did she kick him where we think she did? I suspect she might have!

What happened to the maid? I haven't been able to find out - I hope she wasn't charged although given the power structure of 18th century England, she probably was.

Then there's the very revealing language. Surely calling a lower-class girl defending herself against a predatory sprig of the aristocracy a 'slut' is a bit of a misnomer! Again, a sad indication of the position of women although I love the descriptive detail of 'buxom' - it gives you a vivid picture of her! More power to her left foot!

Was this action the tragic end of a long and loving relationship? Cue chance to put in a very nice picture of Robin Ellis and Angharad Rees in the POLDARK series.

Or was our heroic laundry maid like Verity/Soraya in CLAIMING THE COURTESAN before the start of her career as a courtesan? Preyed upon rather than preying upon?

More importantly, could our feisty washerwoman be the heroine of a romance novel?

You know, I think she's got potential!

Or could our wincing would-be rake be the hero? He'd need to be a bit more robust but I could definitely imagine a bit of sparky dialogue over the washing line if we wrote him as a sexy beast.

Could our laundry maid be a runaway aristocrat? Charis without having enlisted Gideon's help? Grace trying to make a living after they repossessed the farm? The laundry maid isn't that far away from previous heroines I've written and she shares the strength of character which I like to give my girls.

At this stage, I have no intention of writing MY RECKLESS WASHING MACHINE or CLAIMING THE CLOTHES PEGS but you can see how a quirky incident like this sparks ideas that go on to spark other ideas and so on until you've got the basis for a book.

So while I'm digging around looking for inspiration, I'm turning to you! Do you have any quirky bits of family history - hopefully not a randy great-uncle who was done in by one of his squeezes! - that strike you as funny or strange or romantic or scandalous? Any ghosts in the family? Any skeletons? Any feisty laundry maids? Come clean, as they say in the best laundry romances!

95 comments:

Pissenlit said...

*wince* It does sound like she kicked him...where it sounds like she kicked him. :)

Alas, nothing even remotely that interesting in my family...that I know of!

Sheree said...

And here I thought men couldn't die from a kick in the family jewels....

Amaris said...

you sure can die from a kick down there, they can go inside and you have to have them surgically removed! back then i would say such surgery didnt exhist, unlucky for our poor heir. But what a thing to have on your tomb, he could have spiced it up a little and made it sound like an epic battle. Not as creative in those days i guess.

Christine Wells said...

Oh, this was priceless, Anna, thank you! I love this kind of historical anecdote, too. And what amazing feeling behind that quote, wasn't there?

I always wonder about my ancestor who ran off to Australia with the maid. Suspect I wouldn't be here if she'd kicked him instead!

Lolarific said...

I love this blog. I love old creepy castles and such and they always remind me of the Biltmore house here in NC. I'd love to hear some of the more in depth history of that house other than what the tour guides tell you. To me it seems the perfect place for a stateside historical romance.

As far as my family history there's tales that my father's father's side were Scottish people who moved to Ireland and mingled there giving us a Scot-Irish bloodline. On my father's mother's side I had plantation owner's. If I had a time travel machine I'd love to go back and see what both of those familiar histories looked like in first person.

Betty said...

Hmmm..I wonder if we could have been related to him...? Lots of whispered stories in my family, the worst one being my second cousin who most of us are pretty sure is also my aunt. Much of myy family has lived in the same area for over 200 years...the family name is pretty well known lol

jennifertanner said...

What a wonderful post! I have to check out the National Trust mag too.

The smell of starch and steam are a part of my earliest childhood memories. I lived with my aunt and uncle in San Francisco where they had two laundries.

Here's a family dirt clod. Like most wealthy men in Hong Kong, my grand uncle got himself a young mistress. He set her up in a nice apartment and paid for her needs. When my grand aunt found out, she and her daughter went to the apartment and forced their way in. The mistress was alone and they beat her. Afterward, they flung the contents of the ... all over the apartment.(This was post WWII and some buildings still didn't have indoor plumbing.) The mistress took off and my grand uncle was forgiven.

I'm thinking the randy heir may have had a weak heart. The assault on his family jewels could've caused a chest grabber...his, not hers. :)

Congrats on the GR, Pissenlit.

Pink

Pat Cochran said...

My grandparents and their several young children came to the U.S. in 1910. My "abuelito" (little grand- father) always said one of the reasons for departing their small village was safety for the family. The chief reason for leaving: raids made by a well-known guerrilla group. As soon as news of an imminent raid reached the village, all of the women and girls were taken up into the surrounding hills and hidden in caves. They couldn't return home until after
the rebels left the region. True or
not, it made for a colorful story!

Pat Cochran

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

ROFLOL over that poor guy being stuck with that on his tomb forever after! GREAT story, Fo! And fabulous piccies.

One of the more interesting stories that I can repeat here is one my great-gramma told on herself. Seems she conked her 2nd hubby on the head with a frying pan. Her reasoning, "He made me mad." I could TOTALLY see her doing it too!

Congrats on the GR, Pissenlit. Don't let him start any interesting family rumors! ;-)

AC

Pat Cochran said...

Oh, forgot to mention that my grands
came here from Mexico!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Pissenlit, my family had quite a few eccentrics - not a lot of actual scandals, though. Yeah, you think what I think!

Anna Campbell said...

Sheree, I didn't know it could be fatal either but sounds like it might be!

Anna Campbell said...

Amaris, like you, I'm surprised at the frankness of the epitaph. You'd think they'd just say died in his prime or something, wouldn't you? Mind you, wouldn't be nearly so interesting!

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, if he was your ancestor, unless he'd already planted his seed, I suspect you wouldn't be here! It's a fascinating tidbit, isn't it? And that mausoleum is pretty impressive for a man who died such an embarrassing death, isn't it? Oh, well, at least it was a nice clean end. Oh, dear, I can see the laundry jokes are going to come thick and fast!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Lolarific, thanks for saying you loved the blog. I had a ball writing it as you can probably tell. And finding the pics was fun too. I've heard about the Biltmore mansion - I'd love to see it one day. Last time I was in America I went up to some of the big houses up the Hudson Valley - the Rockefeller place and Jay Gould's place. Both amazing! My ancestors were Scottish (no, with a name like Campbell!), German and Danish. Hence I don't like hot weather! ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Lolarific, thanks for saying you loved the blog. I had a ball writing it as you can probably tell. And finding the pics was fun too. I've heard about the Biltmore mansion - I'd love to see it one day. Last time I was in America I went up to some of the big houses up the Hudson Valley - the Rockefeller place and Jay Gould's place. Both amazing! My ancestors were Scottish (no, with a name like Campbell!), German and Danish. Hence I don't like hot weather! ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Betty, that's pretty creepy about the cousin/aunt combo. I wonder sometimes when people do family research how they can be sure they're getting the real truth. A lot of this stuff is never revealed outside the people involved and certainly never makes a written record.

Anna Campbell said...

Jen, I adore the Englishn NT mag and the pictures are really inspirational for a woman who writes historicals. There was a wonderful article in the most recent one I read about the family that now live in Knole in Kent, which is officially the UK's largest private house. It's huge - I've been there, it rambles for miles. Vita Sackville-West grew up there. The NT and the family have a kind of joint-sharing arrangement - it's always nice when these houses still have people living in them.

Anna Campbell said...

Jen, wow, that's some family story! Fascinating! Laughed at the chest-grabbing line - I actually think he might have been a man who grabbed any chest in a storm ;-) Someone in my family I'm always sorry I didn't know was my mum's dad. He was much older than his wife and was a sailor at the turn of the 19th century. He was in South Africa when they started mining for diamonds and sailing in the Baltic and around Russia just before the Revolution. What amazing stories he would have had to tell!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Pat, that is a colorful story! Love it - and it probably is true! Our ancestors were often really brave, weren't they? The German side of the family apparently came to Australia to escape Prussian expansionism. What the Prussians would do was take over an area and then conscript all the young men into a really cruel life in their army.

Anna Campbell said...

AC, did the husband survive? Or is it another laundrymaid case? Mind you, he probably deserved it! ;-) Thanks for saying you enjoyed the blog. I had a ball putting it together - great fun!

Anna Campbell said...

Pat, I kinda guessed that. There was a definite Magnificent Seven vibe going on in that story! Actually that's a scene you could definitely use in a historical romance!

barb said...

enjoy your day with GR Pissenlit

Love reading your blogs Anna.... I have a skeleton in the cupboard regarding my grandmother and my father parentage....my brother has been doing the family history and has not been able to find out and as our father died when we were young we will never find out

Helen said...

Well done pissenlit it has been a while since he has visited you have fun with him

Anna

What a great post and I too hope the laundy maid was not charged.
I am not sure whether we have any skeletons in our family history not that I know of anyway LOL I am sure there are some,
Although My great grandmother did have a son many years after her husband had passed on.
I will see what I can dig up

have Fun
Helen

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Anna!

Too funny about the way the line died out, but if she kicked him where we think and he died, that must've been some powerful kick. To my nurse's mind, I can't recall anyone dying from swollen gonads. Hmmm, might have to look that one up.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Oh, as for family secrets...

Well there is one, but I'm not at liberty to talk about it as there are still some parties still breathing!

CandyAlexandra said...

Oh, Robin Ellis and Poldark, seeing that piccie made my day. I loved the series so much I called my eldest son Ross.

Miranda Neville said...

Lovely post, Anna. As you know, I love Seaton Delaval. The laundry maid story is priceless! Alas, these scandals always got swept under the carpet so we can't find the juicy details. OTOH, it's so much fun to make them up.

Vanbrugh was a fascinating character, famous for his absolutely blazing rows with Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough over the bills for Blenheim Palace. He also designed Castle Howard, used in Brideshead Revisited among others. He liked to build on the monumental scale, that's for sure. Not sure he would have been up to the task of designing a cottage.

I'm keeping my scandalous family history to myself :)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

That woman must have had a kick like a mule! I knew you could do some serious damage that way but didn't know someone could die from it.

No scandals that I know of and if there was one it would probably be centered on me....LOL I was unfortunately the wild child of my generation and a couple of other generations too. No scandals though, I just marched to the beat of a different drummer.

Anna Sugden said...

With a family tree littered with Persians, Russians, Poles and the odd Yorkshireman (in both senses of the word!) I think I can safely say that there are some eccentrics in our family! LOL

Let's see, we have an arranged marriage, a heart-broken gal being sectioned to prevent her marrying her cousin, a maid and aristocrat romance, a gold-digger who made out big with family heirlooms, to name but a few. Wonder if my mum's family's connections to the Shah meant that there was a royal romance in there somewhere too.

jo robertson said...

Hilarious post, Fo! I love the chutzpah of the laundry maid! Definitely the vital organ was the one which held the family jewels.

There are definitely some sticky-wicky characters in my family closet. Descendants of the infamous American outlaws, Jesse and Frank James.

I love the idea of taking an obscure person (like the laundry maid) and spinning a yarn about her!

Becke Davis said...

Oooh, Anna, I love this post! Like you, I wondered if the "buxon slut" was simply defending herself, and I want to know what happened to her. If only we had her name, but they clearly didn't think that was worthy of mention. I do hope she kicked him where it's implied that she did!

Hmm. In my family I haven't found any real scandals, but in my great-great-grandfather's journals he wrote about meeting his wife. It was very romantic - she was only 17 at the time and they married a year later. She died at 47, but by all accounts they had a happy marriage.

Scandals are more fun - maybe I'll stumble across when in my genealogy research. I hope so!

By the way, I LOVED your new book and I'm already getting antsy for the next one!

MsHellion said...

My aunt Brooksie got mad at her husband who came home drunk (she told him not to) and she took a buggy whip to him, to teach him a lesson. (He was supposed to never do it again. I don't think he did.)

My aunt Trixie's husband shot himself, but I'm going to hope it's not because of anything my aunt did (even though she was even more puritan than the other aunt.)

I think an aunt of my mother's side of the family tricked her husband into marrying her by saying she was pregnant....

And regarding the guy who died from being kicked in the balls--they make it out that this hussy killed him, but WHY would kick a man in the balls if he wasn't threatening you in some way? What if she wasn't actually a hussy but some chambermaid that didn't want to sleep with the lord of the manor--and just dealt with him the best way she knew how when he refused to take no for an answer?

Dtchycat said...

Ouch! She had to really have kicked him to kill him!

I had a great-great-great-grandmother who had 4 husbands - all of which died while married to her, the family joke was that she was a 'black widow'.

Dtchycat said...

Ouch! She had to really have kicked him to kill him!

I had a great-great-great-grandmother who had 4 husbands - all of which died while married to her, the family joke was that she was a 'black widow'.

BJ said...

Oh wow...I knew you were fun!!!
Lets see my Ancestry tree so far has....1796 people on it....From there you have the movement of the Mormon religion, Benjamin Franklin (Yes that one!), The Harker family (Harker Island, NC), Frances Gumm (Judy Garland),I have one realtive that even sold land to Abe Lincoln,And then of course I have my fair share of cival war members and few that decided prison was the way to stay...NO wonder I'm so interesting....LOL

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

SNORK! Oh, to have perished at the foot of a buxom washerwoman...now THAT's an ignominious death. As Amaris said, they could have made it sound somewhat better, y'know? Yikes!

Must not have thought much of said heir to have writ THAT on his tomb. Snork! I'm going to be laughing about that all day.

As to my family, there is one funny/*wince* story about a gent who was a rev-war hero, who afterwards returned to farming. He went into town for supplies, but ran late into the evening. Rather than drive the rutted roads at night, he rolled up in a blanket in front of the Inn's fire. Problem was, he'd bought gunpowder. Said gunpowder was in his vest pocket and a stray spark burst from the fire, alighted on said vest and blew the poor chap to kingdom come.

Idiot. You'd think a soldier would know better.

Therefore his eldest inherited and went on to be a good merchant. Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey BJ, isn't Ancestry cool? I love playing on there! I don't keep my info there though because people take it and don't source it and don't use it correctly. Irks the stuffing out of me. :> Also, you probably know this, but beware of taking stuff on there as gospel unless it's multi-sourced. And even sometimes when it is. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Anna said: And that mausoleum is pretty impressive for a man who died such an embarrassing death, isn't it? Oh, well, at least it was a nice clean end. Oh, dear, I can see the laundry jokes are going to come thick and fast!

HAHAHA!! A clean end. HAHAHA!! He died of clean shoes? She cleaned his clock, and knocked him dead? SNORK!!!

Donna MacMeans said...

LOL Anna - what a fun, yet painful, post (grin).

I too find inspiration in the strangest places but so far not in my own family history. Perhaps I need to dig a bit deeper. I do recall my late mother-in-law wrote a class paper about her lineage and indicated one of her great aunts was the cousin to a President. I checked that out and I'm afraid that connection was overly exaggerated - however it does lead one to wonder why she felt the need to exaggerate. To my knowledge, all the family jewels are/were intact - but I haven't researched my Irish lineage very thoroughly (grin).

Kat Sheridan said...

Love this blog, love the Hall, and loved the story. We've traced the family tree back to the 1400s (pretty easy when Henry VIII's sister and Archibald Douglas are on that tree). It would probably be easier to discuss the few who WEREN'T scandalous or eccentric. As just one example of the more common type of ancestor, I have a great aunt who set her hubs's family jewels on fire after he'd come home one night yet AGAIN smelling like cheap booze and cheaper perfume. No permanant harm was done (except I don't think the hair ever grew back), but from that point on he was either very faithful or very careful!

Nancy said...

Pissenlit, congrats on the bird!

Anna, I agree that ideas are everywhere. I envy you that magazine. It sounds like it's chock full of the trivial little facts I so dearly love.

My grandfather on my father's side begat three different families (all legally, so far as we know) with three different wives, one in the U.S. and two in the Phillippines. He lost a son in the AEF in World War I and had three sons who, long after his death, were POWs in World War II.

The last of his three wives was my grandmother, whom he married out of a convent school. After he died (being considerably older than she, as you might've deduced), she begat another family with someone else. One of my father's brothers also married several times, so I have many cousins--in various places--who are unknown to me.

Anna Campbell said...

Barb, how intriguing! Mind you, a lot of this stuff has such emotion and shame and pain attached to it, the families will never let it out. Thanks for saying you enjoyed the blog. I'd REALLY like to know what happened to the maid!

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, so glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, I think every family has skeletons in the cupboard - even if we don't know about them now. I mean, that's why they were in the cupboard!

Anna Campbell said...

Suz, let us know what you find out. Maybe he was a delicate little flower for all his rakishness! It's just one of those stories that begs to have MORE, you know!!!!

Anna Campbell said...

Suz, I think every family has secrets. Or funny little stories that are intriguing.

BJ said...

I know Ancestry is a blast....and I know it has it's nutsos!!!!
I had one lady on my public tree (I have a private one as well), tell me that my father is her father and that the information is incorrect and that I need to correct it. She went as far as to contact ancestry...I got a phone call and it was the funniest thing I've ever went through in my life!!!
Me being the Smart you know what tried my hardest not to say the woman really need to go back on her meds, but I did get three months of ancestry paid for.
My cousin Jim is my go to guy for most of my grave photos since his wife and him love to go on vacations. When there's a photo that he doesn't have and it's a dead relative (and none of us have it) findagrave.com works well to get them. I take pictures for them as well. Yep I'm creepy...LOL
But I like my kids to know their history...my parents didn't really give a butt about their history and when I asked around the family they were more than happy to share about life. I even still have a 4 page story that my ggg uncle wrote about his life. Always nice to past things down.

Anna Campbell said...

Candy, I had SUCH a crush on Ross. I remember I had a picture of him torn out of TV Week above my bed at boarding school. He looked rather out of place with all the other girls' girly-looking pop stars (for some reason, girly boys were quite in at that stage). I devoured the books too. I should read them again!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Miranda, you're a spoilsport, through and through. I'll have to ply you with a few margaritas and see what I can get out of you - and no, I don't mean your famous/notorious rendition of Copacabana! Glad you enjoyed the post - actually I thought you MIGHT have known what happened to the maid.

Anna Campbell said...

Dianna, a lot of people in my family heard that same drummer (although probably playing a different rhythm!). As I say, a few eccentrics in the ranks! Love that you were a wild child! Yeah, it was news to me that a kick in the sensitive area could lead to death.

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Anna, I need to take that margarita out of Miranda's hot little hands and interview you further. What a fascinating family history!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Jo, I didn't know about you being a descendant of the James Brothers. I can remember seeing the movie with Tyrone Power years ago. So glad you got a KICK out of the post. Ho, ho. Yeah, it had to be said!

Anna Campbell said...

Becke, thank you so much for saying you enjoyed MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION! Ooh, what a slave driver? The next one is on its way - I promise you'll be the first to know, LOL! Oh, I love romantic stories like that. My grandfather who was the sailor met my grandmother in Australia just after the turn of the century and said he'd come back for her. She waited and waited and everybody told her she was wasting her time. And then about ten years later, he DID come back for her and they got married and had six kids.

Anna Campbell said...

Helly, that's definitely the interpretation I place on the story. He was pushing her for favors she didn't want to grant and he DESERVED that kick! That's why it strikes me as kinda ridiculous that she got called a 'slut'. Ooh, love the family history. The buggy whip thing is pretty amazing!

Anna Campbell said...

Dtchycat, wow to the ancestor with four husbands! She clearly had staying power - even if they didn't! Yeah, it's an interesting story about the Seaton heir, isn't it? I just want...MORE!!!!

Anna Campbell said...

BJ, that's an amazing list! And how amazing to have Judy Garland thrown into the mix. She has such a heartbreakingly beautiful voice, doesn't she? And hey, I think you're interesting even without the family history ;-)

Jane said...

Everyone has such great stories. I don't know of any exciting characters in our family. I must dig deeper.

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Jeanne, that's not quite as embarrassing but just as interesting as the story about the heir and the washerwoman! As you say, you'd think a soldier knew better. Mind you, I sometimes think stupidity knows no limits. A friend of my brother's at school stuck his finger in a rifle and pulled the trigger to see what happened.

What happened was just what you'd think. Sad but what a stupid thing to do!

Anna Campbell said...

Jeanne, you always make me giggle! Yeah, there's no soft soaping that particular end, is there?

Anna Campbell said...

Donna, I think it's human nature to want to have that connection to the great and good (or not so good!). Everyone in my lineage was a peasant so there's no famous people lurking ready to make an appearance! So glad you enjoyed the post - when I read it, I thought it was such an interesting story (and raised such interesting questions), I just had to share it with the Bandits and Buddies.

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Kat, that was one feisty woman! Good on her! Ouch, though. I bet she and the laundry maid are up in heaven snickering right now! ;-) So glad you loved the post - it was just such an intriguing story!

Anna Campbell said...

By the way, the house is pretty darn impressive, isn't it? That staircase is great! I'd love to visit it one day. Perhaps I could lay a wreath of clean undies on John Seaton's grave!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Nancy, what an amazing family history. And as you say, cousins everywhere! I love the NT mag because it does tend to include those little snippets that make you think of story ideas. And seriously, the pics are GORGEOUS, as you can imagine. The bit that really makes me drool, though, is that they run lots of tours and they all look amazing. Boat trips around the British coast, for example.

BJ said...

Awwwwwww ;0)
Thanks Anna
Big Hugs!!!!

Nancy said...

Anna, I love to look at tours and pine for them. And I love pictures of cool places (which include Endor, Tatooine, and assorted SF lands). This is why my house is so cluttered. Well, one reason why.

Alas, but this summer must be for Getting Rid of Things. There simply is no more room. *sigh*

Anna Campbell said...

BJ, laughed at your story about the woman at Ancestry.com. Aren't you glad you're not related? LOL!

Those old family records are real treasures. A friend of mine who lives in Australia still had extended family in England and when one of them passed on, she received a diary of an ancestor who had been a footsoldier in Wellington's campaigns in Spain and Portugal. How amazing is that? My friend had no idea of this part of the family history.

Anna Campbell said...

Jane, perhaps your people are all respectable, good livers!!!

Nancy said...

BJ, the dh and I love to visit historic cemeteries. We visited one in Devonshire, near the farm where my oft-wed grandfather was born, that contained lots of Northcotts. However, my grandfather's family had emigrated in the mid-19th century, and I had no idea whether any of those in the cemetery were direct relatives.

I would've liked to know.

There's a Northcott Theatre in Exeter.

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, I was going to keep the mags but like you, realized I was drowning under clutter. I had them on to Madame so she can have the clutter ;-)

There was a wonderful tour around the Scottish Islands including St. Kilda that went out as far as the Faroes and Iceland. Drooled over that!

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, Northcott is a reasonably unusual name, at least. All my family had really bog-standard names. Andersen and Hansen for example in Denmark which are the local equivalents of Smith and Jones.

Nancy said...

Anna, I love passing clutter on. It makes me feel so virtuous, and then it's someone else's problem. *g*

You know Christine will likely read this, right?

Nancy said...

Anna wrote: Nancy, Northcott is a reasonably unusual name, at least. All my family had really bog-standard names.

"Bog-standard?" What a cool phrase!

Yes, Northcott is unusual, sufficiently so that despite its being almost entirely phonetic (except for the double T at the end), almost no one in the U.S. spells it right on first crack. The most usual spelling is NorthCUTT, but I also get Northcut, Norcroft, and even, Norcross. Gak!

I was overjoyed when I pulled out my credit card to pay in the shop at Sir Francis Drake's house and the clerk, scrutinizing the signature, said, "Northcott. You've a good Devon name, haven't you?"

Yes, indeedy! *g*

If you lived here, your name would not be so "bog-standard."

This is my new word. Rates right up there with gobsmacked.

Minna said...

Scandalous: supposedly one of my ancestors was the bastard of a Swedish king. He was also nice enough to arrange a marriage for her, but the story doesn't tell if this happened before or after she gave birth.
Ghosts: Yeah! My grandma's brother.

KEVÄT JA MINÄ - TOMMI LÄNTINEN (Spring and I)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FV8cRMmMAFY&feature=related

Sir Elwoodin Hiljaiset Värit - Neiti Kevät (Miss Spring)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwIgXd6avWY&feature=related

Tavaramarkkinat: kevät (Spring)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkxToOpZ3nY&feature=related

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, I KNOW Christine will read this! She passes the mags on again, I think. I love the recycling aspect!

Anna Campbell said...

Snort, Nancy. Bog-standard is kinda bog-standard over here ;-) Actually Campbell is pretty common in the US - even in book signings, I often get to sit next to another Campbell. And I suspect Minnesota is packed to the gills with Hansens and Andersens! Love that Devon name story - it's kinda like you were home!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Minna, that's some interesting family history there. It's a bit like the Seaton Delaval story, though - you feel like you're missing the really JUICY bits and want to know more.

BJ said...

So glad....I'm not...!!!
This has been an awesome subject I must say....I'm so glad I came by today...it's been so much fun reading about everybody :0)
Nancy, I wish I could have been with you and the DH...I bet the cemetery was cool!!!! We have a few old ones here but I've only had two request for pics in the last year so I have been back in a while to explore the stones for dates...but they were old....I know creepy....LOL
Well until tomorrow ladies...Have a wonderful time...Hugs....

Janga said...

What a great blog post, Anna! I think the "buxom slut" definitely deserves to be the heroine of her own story.

One of my paternal aunts, well before the current genealogy boom aided by the Web, paid a professional to research our family history. To my aunt's dismay, the trail went back to a
16th-century burgermeister. Not a rakish aristocrat to be found.

There's only one big scandal in my family that I'm aware of. A cousin
--a generation older than my mother--lived high on the hog as the mistress of a state politician. It was a great scandal in a family filled with a disproportionate number of Baptist preachers and deacons. I only saw The Fallen Woman once, and she was an old lady then. All I remember is her dyed red hair and her cigarette holder, the first I'd ever seen outside the movies. I do remember her tight-mouthed mother asking everyone to pray for her daughter "bound in the ways of sin," even as the mother enjoyed all the things bought with the money her daughter sent.

Christine Wells said...

This has been so much fun, reading about everyone's skeletons! Thank you for such an entertaining post, Anna.

Karyn Gerrard said...

First...
SQUEEEEE~ Ross Poldark!

*catching breath*

This was fascinating, don't you love it? History held nothing back, they described everything! A kick to the bollocks by a buxom washer woman, Wow, think of the story that would make! She definitely has potential has a heroine!

Alas, I can think of no skeletons rattling around in my ancestral closet. I did have an ancestor kicked out of the States for staying loyal to the crown during the Revolutionary War, he was a "Loyalist". Hence how he ended up in Eastern Canada. I often thought there might be a story there. He did fight for the Crown, in the 96th Foot.

Great blog Anna! Love that shot of the manor, wow~

Anna Campbell said...

BJ, often you can picture a whole family history from a cemetery. It's so sad in some of the old ones to see the graves of the children - infant mortality being what it was and all.

catslady said...

I dare say he deserved it but what a way to go lol. I think the answer of 'where do you get your ideas' is more the fact that writers know what to do with all the many pieces of trivia everyone hears every day.
The best I can come up with is we had a horse thief who was hung back in my husband's ancestors. His uncle does genealogy and came up with that tidbit.

Anna Campbell said...

Janga, so glad you enjoyed the post! I had a wonderful time putting it together - and the original spark really intrigued me. I wanted to cheer the laundry maid! Oh, that's a serious scandal in your family! I bet it DID set the chickens squawking in the roost. As you say, though, interesting that the money was still welcome! Actually I have a great aunt (speaking of family history, she was engaged to a guy in World War I who was killed in the trenches so she never married - there were a lot of women in Australia in that situation in the 1920s) who researched her particular side of the family. Actually while I called her 'aunty' she was more like a cousin of some sort so our line wasn't directly within her sights. Anyway, turned out the German side of the family went all the way back to 14th century Jewish coke burners in the Ukraine. I thought that was fascinating!

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, so glad you enjoyed it! It's been such a kick (oh, dear, I'm not even trying to pun now!) that something that really took my interest has intrigued you all too. As you probably know, once I get onto these odd quirks of history, I can bore for Britain so I wasn't sure whether people would enjoy this blog or not. Mind you, sex, death, violence, scandal in high society - it SHOULD be interesting! ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Karyn, isn't that a lovely photo? All that smoldering passion? Sigh! Love Ross Poldark! He was so dashing!

I think the photo with the heart was taken once the NT had bought the house after a national appeal. It's just right for a romance blog, isn't it?

Love your story about your ancestor! The US's loss was Canada's gain!

By the way, love the new avatar with the cover of TIMELESS HEART on it!

Everyone, Karyn's going to be my guest in June when she talks about her debut book! How cool is that?

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Catslady, a horse thief in the family? That's pretty dramatic! Here in Australia, it used to be a badge of shame if you had a convict ancestor. Now it's something people WANT to find!

Karyn Gerrard said...

Really looking forward to it Anna! I mean, The Romance Bandits was the very first romance blog I ever visited and commented on. You ladies are the best, so friendly and welcoming! To give my little ebook the spotlight...wow. Way humbled!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Wow, what a way to way to be done in -- a kick to the family jewels. She must have had one heck of a kick. :)

It's endlessly fascinating where we get story ideas. I've literally had them pop into my head for no apparent reason as I was driving down the road. I think it's just how our brains are wired.

Anna Campbell said...

Karyn, we're all thrilled to have you!

Anna Campbell said...

Trish, I'm picturing something of Thai boxing strength ;-) He probably didn't know what hit him! I find where writers got a particular idea particularly fascinating. As I said, at this stage, I'm NOT thinking of using this tidbit but it's definitely the kind of thing that could spark a story for me.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Anna said: Yeah, there's no soft soaping that particular end, is there?

Heehee. Nope.

Anna Campbell said...

Well, I'm glad you've come clean about that, Duchesse!

Louisa Cornell said...

Speaking of family scandals! Pissenlit got the scandal in residence! Enjoy!

FABULOUS post, La Campbell and well-illustrated as well. I do love a haunted house.

And the tale of the buxom laundry maid who put her foot in it, so to speak is priceless! A jewel without price, or is that jewels! I, for one, hope she made a clean getaway and went on to marry a doddering old baron who left her everything!


My mother's grandfather was full-blooded Creek. He married a Creek woman and had 11 children with her before she died (I always said she died in self-defense!) He then gave away all of his children, some to relatives others to people who wanted them to work their farms. Once he was a "free" man again he moved to the next county, passed himself off as white, married a white woman and had ten more children! I never knew any of this until my grandmother passed and all of her siblings came to the funeral. It looked like a reunion of the winning side at Custer's Last Stand!

My Dad's family is supposedly related to the Earl of Bolton, but on the wrong side of the blanket. My paternal grandmother said she received papers looking for heirs to some sort of family estate, but she threw them away because someone told her they were just looking for someone to pay the taxes!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Louisa, love your fate for our buxom laundry wench! Sounds like fun!!!! Love the jewel stuff too. The jokes just beg to be made about this one, don't they? Wow, what an amazing story about your mother's grandfather - clearly he hadn't been kicked in the goolies!!!!! LOL!

Anna Campbell said...

Guys, thanks for a fun day in the lair. And remember - beware of laundry maids with killer feet!