Saturday, January 2, 2016

The PYGOTT Families of Butley in Cheshire, and of Chetwynd in Shopshire - Coincidences, Conflation, and Corrections.

Robert PYGOT of Butley, Cheshire, died in 1535; by his wife Mary, he had issue, including an eldest son Humphrey, who died before him; andthe had another son Thomas, who survived him and was named as his heir in his Inquisition Post Mortem.

Robert PIGOT of Chetwynd, County Salop, also died in 1535; by his wife, also named Mary, he had issue, including an eldest son also named Humphrey, who also died before him, and another son, also named Thomas, who also survived him, and was named in his will as his son and heir.

A number of historians who have taken an interest in the affairs of families in this area during the century leading up to and including the early TUDOR era, including the PYGOT/PIGOTT families, appear to have stumbled upon this glorious array of extraordinary coincidences, and inevitabley ended up conflating the two men as a result.

It takes a brave or carefree colonial with no academic background in history to challenge the published works of eminent English historians such as George ORMEROD ("History of the County Palatine and City of Chester"), and John Parsons EARWAKER ("East Cheshire, Past and Present; or, A History of the Hundred of Macclesfield in the County Palatine of Chester," London, 1877-80).

But I am seeing that as inevitable - in particular, out of a great respect for the rules of Promigeniture, described by many as being "inviolable."
I propose therefore to attempt what might prove to be near impossible, and seek to recover the separate identities of two esteemed branches of a family which I claim to be my own, or to which my ancestors were probably very nearly related.

The confusions have arisen among the immediate descendants John PYGOT of Butley, who died in 1427, having had issue three sons:
1. William PYGOT; he died during the life of his father, by 1405, without issue.
2. John PYGOTT; he succeeded his father to the Butley estates in 1427.
3. Richard PIGOTT, who established a junior branch of the family at Chetwynd, Shropshire, which "rich" estate he acquired by his marriage to Jacosa de PESHALL, daughter & heiress of Reginald de PESHALL of Chetwynd, who thereby inherited the said Chetwynd estates.

But first, we might profit by a brief survey of the PIGOTT family during this time


EARWAKER, at page 255, under the heading of "Butley Township," recorded the following details:

"...of Inquisitions post mortem now in the Record Office commences with one taken in the 50 Edward III (1376), after the death of William PYGOT, who died seized in his demesne as of fee of the "manor of Butteley," which his ancestors held in capite of Hugh DESPENCER by Knight's service, but owing to the forfeiture of the latter's estates, it was held directly from the Earl of Chester by the same service, and was worth 23 marks. He also held land in Smethwick, near Congleton, and John PYGOT, his son and heir, was the aged 22 years (fn). This "John PYGOT of Buttelegh," as he is always called, took an active part in the management of the affairs of this part of Cheshire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. He was one of the Justices in Eyre for Macclesfield Hundred in 1386, Justice of Cheshire in 1388, and was exercising judicial functions in various parts of the County in 1389-142, having been appointed to the office of sergeant-at-Law in the Counties of Chester and Flint in 1400. His name is also not infrequently met with in deeds and conveyances of this period. He married for his 2nd wife Agnes, the widow of Matthew DOMVILE, the daughter and coheiress of William de Wettenhall of Cholmondeston, who held that manor in her own right, as shown by the Inq p.m. taken after her death in 1417. Her husband survived until 1427, when his Inq. P.M., taken in that year, showed that he held the "Manor of Buttylegh" and "an annual rent going out of Olde Foxwyst and Newton in Buttelegh." He also held a messuage in Dokenfield, a burgage in Macclesfield, and certain portions of the Manor and lands of Alstanton and Alvandeston for his life only, these being inheritances of his 2nd wife, by whom he had no issue. By his first wife, whose name has not occurred, he had two sons, William PIGOT, who died without issue in his father's lifetime, and John PIGOT, who succeeded him (fn 4). The latter appears to have died about 1460, and to have been succeeded by his son, John PIGOT, whose Inq p.m. was taken in 1513, when his son and heir, Robert, was 50 years old. This Robert PIGOT married Marion BLOUNT, by whom he had sons Humphrey PIGOT, who died during his father's lifetime, leaving 3 daughters coheiresses, and Thomas PIGOT, who succeeded to Butley on his father's death in December 1535. Thomas PIGOT, was then 50 years of age, died Feb 20, 1549..."

This John PYGOT the younger was named in an agreement, dated 31 January 1445, as John PYGOT of Butley, in an agreement with Robert LEGH of Adlynton, concerning lands in Cheshire [Manchester Library, TATTON of Wythenshaw Muniments, TNA Ref TW/783]

The above account is nearly identical to other accounts of this family for this period.

But EARWAKER then goes on to describe this Thomas PIGOT as having had his Inq p.m. taken in 1552, and " appears that he left three sons Robert, Richard and John, and three daughters Mary, Katherine and Dorothy."
I believe that this ensuing account is where the conflation begins.

George ORMEROD, in his "History of the County Palatine and City of Chester" fares only marginally better, before falling into the same apparent trap. At page 335, in his Volume III, and under the heading of "Butley cum Newton," he summarises a similar sequence of Inquisitions post mortem, with one exception - he omits one generation, that of the John PYGOT whom EARWAKER states had died ca 1460.
ORMEROD concluded with yet another variation:

"Inq. p.m. 27 Hen VIII. Robert PIGOTT held the manor of Butteley, and lands in old Foxwist and Nether Foxwist, Newton, and Tyehall, from the king as Earl of Chester, as the 2oth part of a knight's fee; val. 23 pounds 4s. 4d; also one capital messuage in Sale, and lands in Smethwick and Prestbury; val. tot. 26 pounds 7s. 10d; died 15 Dec predictus, Margery, Mary and Dorothy TRACY, severally aged 16, 14 and 12 years, Alicia BAGHOLD, aged 12 years, and Elianor wife of John SHARP, aged 20 years, next of kin and co-heiresses.
"Notwithstanding this inquisition, a collateral male line succeeded:
"Inq. p.m. 5 Edw VI. Thomas PIGOTT found to have held as in the last, and to have died 5 February 3 Edw VI, Robert PIGOTT his son and heir.
"Butley was divided between the daughters of this Robert..."

Well, it wasn't, actually.
The real answer probably lies in the full transcript of the 27 Hen VII Inquisition, which is reproduced in the Thirty Ninth Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records, published on 16 May 1878.
At page 214, we find:

"1536, April 27.
"Thomas, writ of livery, setting forth the finding of an inquisition, viz., that Robert PYGGOT, armiger, died seized of the manor of Boteley, and of 5 messuages, 200 acres of land, 50 acres of meadow, 100 acres of pasture, 200 acres of wood, and 400 acres of heath and marsh in Oldfoxwixt, Netherfoxwist, Newton and Lyehall, within the fee of Boteley; of an annual rent of 10s. issuing out of a field called "Hewebirche" in Prestbury; of one messuage and 3 acres of land in Smithweke, and of one messuage, 20 acres of land, 30 acres of meadow, and 20 acres of wood in Sale; in his demesne, as of fee-tail-male, of the reversion of the fee simple pertaining to the said Robert PYGOTT and his heirs; that the said Robert married Mary BLONT and had issue Humphry and Thomas; that Humphry died in the lifetime of his father, without issue male; that afterwards the said Robert died, when the manors, &c, descended to the said Thomas; that the manor of Boteley, and the messuages, &c, in Oldfoxwixt, Netherfoxwixt, Newton and Lyehall were held of the Earl of Chester by the 20th part of a knight's fee, yearly value 24 pounds 4s 4d; that the lands in Smethwik were held of the heir of Thomas SMETHWIK, in socage, yearly value 4s.; those in Sale of the heirs of William de HONFORD by fealty only, yearly value 36s. 6d.; and those in Prestbury of the Abbey of Chester, in socage, yearly value 10s.; that the said Robert died on the 15th Dec., 27 Hen 8; that Margery and Dorothy TRACY, Alice BAGSHAGH, and Eleanor wife of John SHARPE, were kinswomen and heirs of the said Robert, viz., the said Margery, Maria and Dorothea daughters of Joan one of the daughters of Humphry son of the said Robert, and Robert BRADSHAWE son and her of Alice another of the daughters of the said Humphry, and the said Eleanor third daughter of the said Humphry, and of the respective ages of 16, 14, 12, 5 (Robert) and 23; that Thomas PIGOTT was son and heir male of the body of the aforesaid Robert, and of the age of 50. [27 & 28 Hen 8 m (1)]."

It is evident from this transcript that the son Thomas, of ORMEROD's 5 Edw VI Inq. p.m., was heir to his father, but that he had no heirs, nor was he likely to have produced any in what was left of his lifetime.
Further, it is clear that the jury empanelled to return writs to the Escheator in 1536 therefore itemized in advance the co-heiresses of Robert who would, in all likelihood, survive their uncle Thomas. Or that is certainly how it looks!

This is further alluded to by Frank RENAUD, M.D., in his "Contributions towards a History of the ancient parish of Prestbury, in Cheshire," published by the Chetham Society, Vol. 97, 1876, at page 68, where we find the following:

"...William PIGOT, whose history is best set forth in the following post mortem inquisition: 'William PIGOT died seized in fee of a moiety of the Manor of Butley, which said William formerly held the said manor from Hugh Le Despenser, who held it from the earl in capite by military service, which said Hugh forfeited it, by reason whereof the said William at the time of his death held it immediately from the said earl by the like service. He also died seized in fee of a certain parcel of land in Smethwick in socage. He died on Thursday next after the raising of the holy cross, 50 Edw III, leaving John, his son, upwards of 22 years, his next heir.'
"John PIGOT held Butley by the same tenure as his father. He was one of the justices itinerant for Cheshire (Cheshire, Chamberlain's accounts). He died in 1394, and was succeeded by John PIGOT, who held Butley under the Despensers in the 6th Hen VI, 1427. He also held rents issuing out of Old Foxwist, and Newton in Butley. His name occurs as one of the justices itinerant for Maccesfield Hundred in 1402 and 1413 (Ormerod).
"He appears to have been succeeded by a son also named John PIGOT of Butley, whose Inq p.m. is dated 1512, 4 Hen VIII. He had two sons, vizt; Robert PIGOT who succeeded him; and George PIGOT, who settled at Bonishall, and who married Catherine, daughter of Henry HENSHAW of Henshaw, in Siddington.
"Robert PIGOT died in 1535, 27 Hen VIII, leaving one son and four daughters.
"Thomas PIGOT died without issue, leaving four sisters and coheiresses. His Inq. p.m. dated 6 Edw VI, 1552, is as follows: 'Thomas PYGOTTE tenuit terras et tenementas suas in Butlege una cum terris et tenementis in Olde Foxwiste, Newton, et Lee Hall, de Domino Rege ut Comes Cesrtrie foed. Milit." 6 Edw VI.
"One of his sisters, the inheritrix of a fourth part of Butley, married Francis CLINTON of Herefordshire."

RENARD does not cite his sources as to the death of Thomas PIGOTT of Butley without issue, with the four sisters as coheiresses - and he clearly has misunderstood that the heiresses were his nieces, not his sisters. Although I suppose it is possible that Thomas DID have sisters - the wife of Francis CLINTON is evidently not a daughter of Humphrey, so perhaps she was instead his sister, and there may have been others.
But if so, does that mean that all of the nieces and their offspring were now dead, and that four of their aunts had survived them?

Here we have another John PIGOTT in the lineage, over and above the lineages recorded by ORMEROD - but not in the same generation as EARWAKER had recorded his extra John PYGOT. That is the John PIGOT whom RENAUD states as having died in 1394. Once again, he cites no source for this detail.
It is indeed curious that neither this man, nor EARWAKER's ca 1460 death, appear elsewhere in the histories, even though their individual presence does, in each case, make for a more conventional chronology, based on the approximately 30 year elapsed time between successive generations.
But if the 1394 death was of a man who was a tenant in chief of a manor held of the crown, as Butley appears to have been, then there should indeed have been an Inquisition post mortem held on that occasion. I have not yet seen any indications that one has survived for his death. One can, and should, make the identical observation on the ca 1460 death, as well.

However, if we look at the death dates, we see that the placement of EARWAKER's additional generation (with the ca 1460 death) makes much more sense than does RENAUD's - his gap of 86 years between John PYGOTT (died 1427) and John PYGOTT (died 1513), which matches ORMEROD, appears highly unlikely (unless the heir was an infant).

Thomas PYGOT, the grandson of John PYGOT, Esq'r, was named as Plaintiff in a Chancery Court action, PYGOT v DUNCALF, date range 1544-1551, the defendant being Thomas DUNCALF, concerning Detention of Deeds relating to land at Prestbury in the Lordship of Butley, Cheshire [TNA - C 1/1252/88, at Kew].


EARWAKER also fails to record the third son of John PYGOTT (ca 1353-1427) of Butley, who heads the conventional pedigrees of the PIGOTTs of Chetwynd, County Salop.

He is identified as Richard PYGOT by Rev W.G.D. FLETCHER, M.A., F.S.A., in his "Sequestration Papers of Thomas PIGOTT of Chetwynd," which were published in the Transcactions of the Shropshire Archaeology and Natural History Society (G.B.), 3rd Series, Volume VI, 1906, at pages 67 et seq., and where Richard's descent is summarized as follows (page 69):

"...John PYGOT, the son & heir of William [his Inq. p.m. is dated 50 Edw III (1376)], occurs in 1382 in the entail of the manor of Cheadle Hulme. In 1385 he was appointed a justice of the three hundreds of Eyre at Macclesfield, and in 1388 a deputy-justice of Chester. In 1400, Henry, prince of Wales, appointed him serjeant-at-law for the counties of Chester and Flint, and in 1400 justice of Cheshire. His 2nd wife Agnes, daughter & heiress of William de WETTENHALL of Cholmondeston, and widow of Matthew de DOMVILLE. In 1398, John PYGOT and Agnes his wife had an episcopal license for the celebration of divine service in their oratory. She died s.p., and her Inq. p.m., dated 5 Hen V (1417) finds that she died seized in fee of the manor of Cholmondeston and land in Leighton. "John PYGOTT's Inq. p.m. is dated 6 Hen VI (1427), and it was found that he held the manor of Buttylegh, with its appurtenances, of Katherine, queen of England, as tenant in dower of the Manor of Macclesfield, Thomas DESPENCER, who formerly held it of the Earls of Chester, died without heirs, and the same fell to the King; and the same manor was held as the 20th part of a knight's fee, and was worth per annum 20 marks. And he also held 9s. 4d. rent issuing out of lands in Butley, &c, and, as the inheritance of his wife Agnes, certain parts of the Manors of Alsaston and Alvandeston. And John PYGOT was his heir. By his first wife he had three sons:
1. William PYGOT, who died s.p. before 1405.
2. John, who succeeded his father as Lord of Butley.
3. Richard, ancestor of the PIGOTTs of Chetwynd."

"The third son, Richard, with his brother John PIGOT of Butley and Sir John GROSVENOR, appears as party to a suit brought by William de BROMELY, Lord of Badington, in 1429 [Plea Rolls, Henry VI]. In 1432 he had a grant of a messuage called 'le Halle of Pott' in Shrigley, in fee, from Richard SCARRET. In 1423 and 1426, he occurs as justice in Eyre in the Hundred of Macclesfield [sic - this may be in error for his brother John?], and frequently down to 1440 in recognizances to keep the peace [Recognizance Rolls]. He married Joyce, daughter and coheiress of Richard de PESHALL [sic - other sources record him as Reginald] of Chetwynd, and by her he obtained the rich manor of Chetwynd. He died in may 1439, his Inq. p.m. being dated 2 January 19 Hen VI, by which it is found that he left a son and heir, John PYGOT, who was then aged 5 years."

This John PYGOT was named in a deed dated 17 May 1470 [Cheshire Archives & Local Studies - TNA Ref DDS/137], as the son & heir of Richard PYGOT, Esq, as joint 1st party, along with Robert LEGH of Adlynton, Junior, and John SMYTH, Chaplain - the 2nd party being Robert DOWNES, Senior, Esq, and Geoffrey DOWNES - and concerning the Quitclaim of Party 1's claims upon all the lands in Potshryglay once held by Richard, father of John PYGOT.

FLETCHER continues, at page 71:

"John PYGOT of Chetwynd, the son and heir of Richard PIGOT and Joyce PESHALL, was born in 1434. In January 1457-58, a commission was issued for his arrest, together with thirteen others, for using threatening language to Joan, the widow of John PYGOT, his aunt. Probably the dispute was over her dower lands. In 1459, he entered into a recognizance to her in the sum of 100 marks [Recognizance Rolls]. This John PYGOT of Chetwynd married Ellen, daughter of Robert de LEGH of Adlington in Cheshire, by his wife Mabel, daughter of Sir William STANLEY. Their son Robert PIGOTT of Chetwynd was Sheriff of Shropshire in 1517, and married Margaret, daughter of Sir John BLOUNT of Kinlet (sic - his will named her as Mary, and there is no certainty that she was a BLOUNT), by whom he had a son Thomas PIGOTT, who married Elizabeth ONLEY. Their son Robert PIGOTT of Chetwynd married Elizabeth, daughter of William GATACRE, and had issue - Thomas PIGOTT of Chetwynd, who married Dorothy, daughter of Thomas EYTON by his wife Alice CHARLTON, and their eldest son Walter PIGOTT was Sheriff in 1624, and the father of the Royalist Officer [Thomas]."

Robert PIGOTT, of Chetwynd; Plaintiff in a Chancery Court action, brought against John DUKKENFELD, concerning a messuage and land in Dukinfield and Raftbottom (Offerton?), Cheshire, date range 1515-1518 [TNA - Ref C 1/436/31]; Plaintiff in another Chancery Court action, brought against Robert SMETHWYK, concerning a messuage and land in Smethwik, Cheshire, date range 1518-1529 [TNA - Ref C 1/555/18]; Defendant in another Chancery Court action brought on by John ONLEY, one of the co-executors of Adam GRAFTON, Clerk, concerning "...Board and table money and other charges of defendant and his wife and servants for 13 years, at the said Adam's house, amounting to 520 pounds" with a date range of 1529-1532 [TNA - Ref C 1/661/12]; his will dated 25 May 1534, proved Lichfield, 19 May 1536; he married firstly, Mary (he named her in his will, but did not identify her birth surname); Robert married secondly, Jane or Joan ONLEY (widow of John ONLEY, who died in 1512, and daughter of  Thomas PONTESBURY, of Shrewsbury, by his wife Elizabeth GRAFTON), the widowed mother of his daughter-in-law; she was named as "...late the wife of Robert PYGOTT" when she brought a complaint before the Court of Chancery, date range 1533-1538, against his sons Edward and Thomas PYGOTT, concerning "..Goods of the said Robert PYGOTT which defendants have obtained by undue influence, now claiming to be his executors" [TNA - Ref C 1/876/72]; Jane said to have died in 1573 at Albrington, Shropshire.
By his first wife Mary, Robert had issue:
1. Humphrey PIGOTT, who died without issue during his father's lifetime (provision in his father's will for " honest priest to sing prayers" for his Christian soul), without issue and probably unmarried.
2. Thomas PIGOTT, who succeeded to Chetwynd; co-defendant in the Chancery Court action brought on by his step-mother Jane PYGOT, 1533-1538m, concerning his late father's goods. See next below.
3. Richard PIGOTT, who was named in his father's will.
4. Francis PIGOTT, ditto.
5. Edward PIGOTT, ditto; co-defendant in the Chancery Court action brought on by his step-mother Jane PYGOT, 1533-1538m, concerning his late father's goods.

Thomas PIGOTT, of Chetwynd; named in Chancery Court record, ONLEY v PYGOTT [TNA - Ref C 1/661/12] as the son of defendant Robert PYGOTT of Chetwynd, Esq, and the as a co-executor, with the Complainant John ONLEY, of Adam GRAFTON, Clerk, date range 1529-1532; died in 1549; his will, dated 15 September 1546, was proved at Lichfield on 16 May 1549; he married Elizabeth (alias Isabel) ONELEY (a daughter of John ONLEY by his wife Joan or Jane PONTESBURY); her will, dated 15 May 1554, was proved at Lichfield on 15 June 1554.
By her he had issue:
1. Robert PIGOTT of Chetwynd; named in both his parents wills; married Elizabeth GATACRE, with issue.
2. Richard PIGOTT, named in both his parents wills.
3. John PIGOTT, ditto; said to have been a Clerk, at Norbury, Shropshire, and unmarried, when he made his will, dated 6 Apr 1580, which was proved P.C.C. on 12 Dec 1580, in which he named his brother Robert PIGOTTE, Esq, and Robert's son Francis.
I. Mary PIGOTT, named in her father's will; named as Mary WELER in her mother's will.
II. Anne PIGOTT, not named in her father's will; named as Anne YOUNGE in her mother's will.
II. Katherine PIGOTT, named in both her parents wills.
III. Dorothy PIGOTT, ditto.

I am very grateful to Gail STOKES, of Cheadle, Cheshire, for the transcriptions of the secretary hand used in these three Chetwynd wills - and indeed for her willingness to engage in the issues raised in this blog.


As we have seen above, Thomas PIGOTT of Butley, died sometime in or before 1552.
The transmission of the Manor of Butley to his co-heiresses, his late older brother Humprey's daughters and/or their issue, provides very clear evidence that Thomas had no male heirs of his own.

As we have also seen above, Thomas PIGOTT of Chetwynd made his will in September 1546, and it was proven in May 1549. He left three sons, the eldest of whom, Robert PIGOTT, inherited Chetwynd.
This provides further proof that Thomas of Chetwynd and Thomas of Butley were two different people.

The final piece of evidence is the fact that the Manor of Butley is not mentioned anywhere in Thomas of Chetwynd's will - nor was it mentioned in the will of his father Robert (dated 1534, proved 1536).

All of this, I believe, constitutes conclusive evidence that Thomas of Butley and Thomas of Chetwynd were two different PIGOTTs, and were almost certainly 4th or 5th cousins. It follows, therefore, that their fathers, Robert of Butley and Robert of Chetwynd, were also two different PIGOTTs, and probably 3rd or 4th cousins.


Some documents at Kew, for Robert and Thomas PIGOTT, both of Salop, indexed in the Discovery web-site [T.N.A.], may yet prove to be of interest.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

1. Robert PIGOTT, Salop:

C 142/58/40 [Court of Chancery, Inq. p.m.'s Series II, & other Inq's, Hen VII - Chas I]:
Date - 28 Hen VIII [22 Apr 1536 to 21 Apr 1537].
Evidently the Inq. P.M. for Robert PYGOTT

E 150/856/2 [Court of Exchequer, King's Remembrancer's & Escheator's Files, Inq . p.m.'s Series II, & other Inq's, Hen VIII to Eliz I]:
Date - 28 Hen VIII.
Evidently the Inq. P.M. for Robert PYGOT of Butley concerning his holdings in County Salop (in Secretary Hand and abbreviated Latin), in which his grand-daughters (the three daughters of his deceased son Humphrey PYGOTT) are identified as Johanne TRACY (deceased), Alice BAGSHAW, and Eleanor PYGOTT.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

2. Thomas PIGOTT, Salop:

C 142/89/151:
Date - 3 Edw VI [28 Jan 1549 to 27 Jan 1550].
Evidently the Inq. P.M. for Thomas PIGOTT of Chetwynd, identifying his wife Isabel and their sons and daughters.

E 150/865/2:
Date - 3 Edw VI.

WARD 7/5/11 [Court of Wards & Livery, Inq. p.m.'s]:
Date - 3 Edw VI.
The document copied on order did not mention the name PIGOTT, so evidently in error.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I suppose it is possible that these two gentlemen were of the Butley branch, but with property in County Salop. Alternatively, they may just be the final proof of the above assertion - that the Butley line and the Chetwynd line were different branches of the same family. I do look forward to sighting copies of these records, now (Jan 2016) on order.


My own derivation from the PIGOTT's of Butley was speculated by Sir William BETHAM, Chief Herald in Ireland, during the 1830's. His pedigree, perhaps with constructions suggested by the then Baronet of Knapton (for whom he was doing the research), was typed up in 1934 by Michael DIX and deposited in the Society of Genealogists, London - it stated that John PIGOTT, the 1562 grantee of the Dysart Estates in the Queen's County, Ireland, was a son of Robert PIGOTT of "...Butley and Chetwynd" by his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir John BLOUNT of Kinlet.

Clearly, BETHAM was in error, and on a number of counts, as follows:

1. On the above evidence, there were evidently two different Robert PIGOTTs - one of Butley, the other of Chetwynd.

2. Robert PIGOTT of Butley did marry a BLOUNT, and her name was Mary (she was so named in his Inq. p.m.) - but she was probably instead a daughter of Sir Humphey BLOUNT, and so a sister of Sir John BLOUNT. The chronology of the families indicates that any daughter of Sir John BLOUNT would probably have been too young to have had children by this Robert PIGOTT.

3. Robert PIGOTT of Chetwynd did have a wife name Mary, but we have no specific evidence that she was a BLOUNT, and her having been identified as a BLOUNT may simply be the result of the ensuing conflation.
If she was, she was probably too old to have been a daughter of Sir John BLOUNT of Kinlet (as mentioned in item 2 preceding).
The fact that Robert appointed Dame Margaret BLOUNT, Sir John's widow and Robert's own "...faithful and true kinswoman" (and so described by him in his will), as a trustee of his estate, may have been what has led some researchers to see that as evidence of a BLOUNT marriage for this Robert - but Dame Margaret was already a kinswoman of Robert PIGOTT, by virtue of their common descent from the family of PESHALL of Chetwynd. However, there is a possibility that there was an earlier John PIGOTT of Butley with a BLOUNT wife, perhaps even a first wife of the one who died in 1427, or even of his son.

4. Robert & Mary PIGOTT did have a grand-son named John, son of their son & heir Thomas, who was of an age to have gone over to Ireland in ca 1558. But he did not, and died in Shropshire.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Miss Florence WILKES, of Greenacre, Schoolteacher

Florence WILKES was a Primary School Teacher with a difference. She taught, for many years, one of the two Opportunity Classes that were provided at Berala Pubic School, near Lidcombe, for "advanced" pupils from the surrounding district, in 5th and 6th classes.

I had the privilege of being one of her pupils in the class 5 OC in 1959 and 6 OC in 1960, sandwiched between my earlier grades at Rose Hill Primary School (just across the railway line from the Racecourse there), and my five high school years at The King's School in Parramatta.


I don't yet know where Florence Edith WILKES was born, but the event took place on 9 November 1919, according to her Teacher's College Admission record (and her Monumental Inscription - Rookwood, Anglican Remembrance Lawn 1), and quite possibly in New South Wales (under the 100 year privacy rule, Birth Indexes for the year 1919 will not be publicly available until 2019). Her birth was not recorded in England, although it is possible that she may have been born on the voyage of her parents out to Australia.

Her father, Thomas WILKES, worked in the Bankstown area as a Poultry Farmer; he was born in Birmingham, Warwickshire, in March quarter 1890 [Vol.6d, p.118], and he was enumerated at Moland Street, Birmingham, in the 1891 and 1901 Censuses, aged 1 and 12 respectively, with his parents Thomas WILKES, a Wood Turner, and Eliza (formerly HOMER); Thomas served in W.W.1, probably in the British Army.
A Thomas WILKES, aged 24, Cycle Maker's assistant, emigrated to Sydney on the S.S. Osterley, departing London on 16 January 1914. This may have been Florence's father, as he is very close to the right age, and his occupation adds further to the possibility (his two sisters Mary Ann and Clara were both employed in Cycle making in Birmingham in 1911); if so, he probably returned to England to enlist for service in W.W.1 (there is no mention in Australian Army records for his enlistment in Australia or service in Australian Units).
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Florence's mother was Annie RUFFELL, who was born at Cove, Hampshire, on 28 January 1891 (see her M.I. at Rookwood, Anglican Section 7, plots 1174-75); she was enumerated at Cove Green, Cove, Hampshire, 1891 & 1901, aged 2 & 10 respectively, with her parents Alfred RUFFELL, Labourer & Navvy Foreman, & his wife Hannah.
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Thomas WILKES & Annie RUFFELL were married at the parish church of Worplesdon, Surrey, on 31 December 1918, he aged 29, Soldier, of St John's, Lambeth, his father a Master Joiner now deceased, and she aged 27, Spinster, of Worplesdon, her father now a Builder.
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They emigrated to New South Wales, and were living at 31 Northcote Road, Greenacre Park, from as early as 1922 [Electoral Rolls for Reid Division, Bankstown Subdivision], where Thomas was recorded as a Poultry Farmer, and Annie as Home Duties; they were still there in 1966; Thomas died on 19 Jul, 1970, aged 80, and was buried at Rookwood, late of Greenacre [M.I.]:

His widow Annie was subsequently enrolled with daughter Florence at 11 Lauma Avenue, Greenacre (1972 and 1977 Rolls); she died at Mosman on 3 September 1981, and was buried in the plot adjoining her husband [M.I.], having survived her daughter Florence by nearly 4 years.

Florence appears to have had at least two siblings:
1. Thomas H.G. WILKES died at Bankstown, 22 February 1924 (Registered #4229 - parents Thomas & Annie), probably an infant.
2. Gerald Alfred WILKES, born at Punchbowl, 27 September 1927; Canterbury Boys High School; he first appeared in Electoral Rolls in 1949, as a Student at Northcote Road with his family; he graduated in Arts at Sydney University in 1949, and took an M.A. in 1952, with 1st Class Honours in Literature, while a teaching fellow there; in Aug 1953, as an English Lecturer, aged 25, he won a National University Scholarship to study literature at Oxford, & was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1956; he became the foundation Professor in Australian Literature at Sydney University; he was married at Ashfield, on 17 August 1953, to Marie Olive PAULEY; and by 1958, they were living at Eastwood, with their two children.

Florence's uncle, James WILKES, also emigrated to N.S.W., in or before 1914; born in Birmingham on 3 October 1887, he served in W.W. 1 with the A.I.F. as a Gunner, and was wounded in France; he was married at Merrylands, in 1918, to Edith Isabel APPLETON, and they lived at North Strathfield, with their daughters Eunice Frances Isabel WILKES (later the wife of William J. E. FOWLER) and Helen Clare WILKES (later the wife of Donald RILEY). James died at the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, on 4 November 1948, and his death notice in the S.M.H. recorded him as the brother and brother-in-law of Mr and Mrs T. WILKES (Florence's parents), Mrs C. BARNEY (probably Clara, aged 10 in 1901, living with her parents and elder brothers James and Thomas - Clara BARNEY died at Auburn, 16 August 1954, parents Thomas and Eliza), Miss F. WILKES (perhaps Florence, but probably instead an aunt Florence, aged 3 in 1901, living with her parents and older brothers James and Thomas), and Mr and Mrs W. DARBY (probably Ethel WILKES, aged 9 with her widowed mother in 1911, who married William DARBY at Glebe on 19 July 1924, and died at Parramatta on 8 April 1969, parents Thomas and Eliza).


Florence's early creativity became evident to her parents, and to the editors of the Australian Women's Weekly. At age 13, her "...very pretty story" won a 5 shilling prize, and was published on Saturday 15 July 1933, at page 41:

By Flossie WILKES (of 31 Northcote Road, Chullora, via Enfield).
It was a cool evening, one which follows a hot, stuffy day, and Jean was watering her garden. No one was in sight, and as she turned from one of the flower beds, she heard a little voice - "Jean!" She saw nothing. Presently she heard the sound again. It seemed to come from the flowers. Was it possible? But yes! Jean bent forward towards the little rose-tree right on the extreme edge of the bed. "Jean," came the silvery tones again. "Will you give me some water, please, for I am very thirsty?"
"Certainly," replied Jean, and she ran off to fetch some water from the nearest tap.
"Thank you," murmured the rose, "now I'll tell you my story," she began. "A long time ago I was a fairy, and my name was Heart of Rose. I was very mischievous and I played pranks on the other fairies, till at length the Queen turned me into a rose-tree and put me here, where I am scorched by the sun. No one sees me and I get little water. See, I have a little bud, but I'm afraid that it will only be a very small flower, and oh!", she sighed wistfully, "I'd be very happy if only I had beautiful flowers like the other rose-trees!"
"I'll help you," said Jean, eagerly, "I'll water you carefully."
"Thank you," whispered the rose-tree; Jean waited for her to continue, but the rose was very silent.
A month later, her beautiful snowy blossoms showed that Jean had not forgotten her promise.

And two years later, on 10 Aug 1935, The Australian Women's Weekly published one of her poems:

By Flossie WILKES.
I wonder where dreams come from?
     I wonder where they go?
I've often asked my Daddy -
     He doesn't seem to know.
He says they're only shadows
     Of the things that are to be;
Like wind among the treetops
     Or the music in the sea.
But I don't think they're shadows
     I think they're elfin sprites
Who dance their fairy revels
     Upon my bed at night.


According to her Teacher's College Academic Record (courtesy of Nyree MORRISON, Archivist, Sydney University), Florence received her secondary schooling at St George Girls High School, an Academically Selective Public High School, located in Victoria Street, Kogarah.

She achieved an aggregate of 383 in her Leaving Certificate examination, presumably in 1936.

Florence was admitted to the Sydney Teacher's College on 3 March 1937. This College had been founded in premises on Parramatta Road (Broadway) in 1906 under Alexander MACKIE as Principal; it occupied custom built premises in the grounds of Sydney University in 1925; and by 1933 was offering "...a two year course to prepare teachers for primary and kindergarten work" (as well as 3 year diploma and 4 year degree courses for secondary teachers).

She received an overall Teaching Mark of B- to B (74%) in her first year, and B (75.8%) in her second year (1938); she was ranked highly in History (80%, Class 1, 1937) and in English (75%, Class 2, 1937; 81%, Class 1, 1938).

In May 1939, Florence was appointed by the N.S.W. Education Department as a Primary School Teacher at Revesby Public School [Newcastle Morning Herald, Friday 19 May]. This is the first mention of her teaching career in newspaper scans, as found on the National Library's "trove" web-site.

In Feb 1941, it was reported that:
"...Miss WILKS has taken up duties at the Molong Public School to fill the vacancy occasioned by the transfer of Mrs PAULETTE to Kempsey."
[Molong Express & Western District Advocate, 1 February 1941.]

Molong was creative ground for the new arrival.
Florence attended the annual meeting of the Parents & Citizens Association, at Molong Public School, in March 1941; by August 1941 she had become the assistant to Miss ANSTEY, Lady Cub Master for the Molong Cub Pack, when they organised a Birthday party for the Pack at which collections were made for bundles of clothing or money to buy same to be sent to " Cubs and others who have been victims of the hellish air raids" in England, and who were both praised for "...their efforts to train the youngsters of this town" [Molong Express, &c, Saturday 9 August]; in October 1941 she ran a spelling bee at the Annual Scots Fair in Molong, which was won by 8 year-old Mat DOVER, with consolation prizes to Betty YORK, Bill DUNN and Joyce HIGGINS [Molong Express, &c, Saturday 25 October]; in July 1942, Florence was elected Publicity Officer to the Molong Branch of the Red Cross Society [Molong Express, &c, Friday 17 July]; and in 1943, she first appeared in Electoral Rolls, as Florence Edith WILKES, Bank Street, Molong, Teacher.

In March 1943, Florence was transferred to the Eurimbla Public School; great consternation was created by her departure when the Education Department failed to replace her at Molong; and she was enrolled for a second time in 1943, at Hill View, Eurimbla, Calare Division.

By June 1944, Florence had been transferred yet again;
"PERSONAL. Miss WILKES, who was appointed teacher here in succession to Mr HARE, now has charge of the Gunning-Bland school, and, in a recent letter to friends in the district, states that she is happy at her new school, where she has an enrolment of twenty pupils"
[Molong Express, Friday 23 June 1944.]

Her staff record at the Department of Education records her as Assistant, Class 4, at Revesby Primary, under Date of Notification of 3 July 1945. [This information was provided by Brenda McLENNAN, Library and Data Services, Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, Bridge Street, Sydney.]
It looks like she returned to the scene of her first posting.

Florence appears to have taken a break from school duties during the year 1948, as we find in the "Personal Pars from Eurimbla" item in the Molong Express [20 August 1948]:
"...writing to Mrs C. RUTTER recently, Miss F. WILKES, former teacher at Eurimbla School, said she and her mother shortly intended making a tour of the New England district and Brisbane."

By 1949, Florence was back living with her parents, at 31 Northcote Road, Chullora, along with her brother Gerald Alfred WILKES, then a Student.
She won one of the daily prizes of 2 pounds offered in the "name a foal" competition run by the Sydney Sunday Herald, on behalf of the Red Cross, for two foals, one sired by Fisherman out of Lively Lass and the other by Prince Charming out of Black Widow - her suggestions were "Compleat Angler" and "Dark Stranger" [S.M.H., Monday 26 September 1949], although there is no indication as to whether the foals ended up with either of those names.
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Her staff record at the Department of Education contained the following additional entries:
1. Assistant, Revesby G., under dates 4 December 1951 (notification) and 29 January 1952.
2. Assistant, Berala O.C., 12 January 1954 (notification) and 2 February 1954.
3. Dept M., Yagoona, 31 January 1967 - entry struck through and endorsed as "Cancelled."
4. Dept M., Padstow Park, 30 January 1968 - entry also struck through and endorsed as "Cancelled."
5. Assistant Principal, 2 Banksia Road, 7 November 1967 (notification) and 30 January 1968.

Her record further notes that she was trained at Teachers College, 1937 to 1938; Teachers Certificate, with a Date of Award of 1 July 1943; "C" P.P.L., award date 1 January 1953; 3YT (11th year rate), Date of Award 1 January 1966; and that she successfully completed a B.A. degree at the University of New England in 1968, entered under a Date of Decision of 15 August 1969.

The last year date on her record was 1970, with an Efficiency Award APR/2P/E(Pr).

The above information indicates that Florence probably taught Opportunity Classes at Berala from the beginning of 1954 until the end of 1966.
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Florence died at Greenacre Hospital on 21 October 1977; after a funeral service at St David's Church of England, 180 Noble Avenue, Greenacre, she was buried at Rookwood Cemetery, in Anglican Lawn Section 1, Plot 899, Row 22. There is an inscription, recording, with classical allusions, her birth on 9 XI 1919, and her death on 21 X 1977:



Irene BUCKLER, of Glenwood, in reply to a blog-post of Maralyn PARKER dated 30 Oct 2008, in praise of her Teachers, wrote:
"...Then there was Mrs STUDDARD (Chester Hill High School, English again), who patiently guided me through my purple-haired rebellious years, and Miss Florence WILKES (Berala Public, Opportunity Class), who wrote stories for The School Magazine and was idolised by all (including me) many teachers, so many marvellous memories. Teachers are a class act!"
Irene added further details in her November 2011 reply to Dao:
"...when I attended an OC class, there were only a few of these classes to cater for the entire Sydney area - I think (and someone will correct me if I am wrong) there was only one OC class per region - making them much harder to access, I gather, than they are today. For the record, I went to Berala and my teacher was the unforgettable Miss Florence WILKES who loved 'Drumstick' ice-creams and orchestral concerts (we attended so many!), lived at Greenacre and regularly wrote stories for The School Magazine..."

Alan W. STEPHENSON, National Conservation Officer of the Australasian Native Orchid Society, in his nomination of Colin BOWER (one of my fellow students at Berala) for the R.D. FITZGERALD Trophy, for excellence in Australian Orchids, wrote:
"Dr Colin (Col) Charles BOWER... showed enough aptitude at primary school in Fairfield to be admitted to an “opportunity class” at Berala Public School. There was an emphasis at Berala on biology and Miss WILKES, a knowledgeable and inspirational teacher, sparked Colin's interest in natural history, opening up a whole new world through bush excursions..."
I have no recollections of Biology lessons - perhaps I fell asleep during them!

Tyrrell SALTER, a 1959-60 class-mate, remembers Miss WILKES "...very fondly, and as a benign and motherly figure." Tyrrell, in her 28 January 2016 e-mail, recalled "...there being a great library at Berala, unlike that of the school I'd come from... Miss W. devotedly manned the library every lunchtime."

The southern façade of the 1924 school building in 2015.
The 5 OC photo below was probably taken from near the corner of this part of the 1924 building and looking towards the boundary fence through which this shot was taken - the trellis behind the 1959 group photo then ran parallel to the wall, but near the fence.

From across the playground, this view of the eastern end of the 1924 building shows the end wall, under the hipped roof, which is in the first photo above, with the top half hidden by the tree foliage.

The original 1924 Berala Public School building, viewed from the south-western street approach.
The 6 OC photo below was probably taken from a point inside the fence on the extreme left of this picture, looking down the hill.


A former class-mate, Stephen GREEN, has very recently made contact with me, quite out of the blue, and embarrassingly, with 55 years of life events flowing under this bridge or that, I had forgotten all about him.

And I find that many of the names now elude me, although I know I will recognise most of them when the list of them is complete.

I do still have the two class photographs, slightly soiled & creased.

Miss Florence WILKES is, of course, standing on the right (as we look at the picture), then aged 40. Yours truly is the shortest boy standing in the middle of the third row, directly above the sign-board behind Susan NASH with plaits (I think that is her) - on my left, as I am advised, was Robbie (as I remembered him - otherwise known as Billy) PARKER, the unfortunate boy who fell from a train and was killed.

Here, I have migrated to the back row, second from the right-hand end, between John TILLEY and Colin BOWER (he is next to Miss WILKES).

On the personnel front, I remember the names of class-mates Billy LAING (3rd row, 2nd from left), Kevin MENDELSOHN (3rd row, 3rd from right), Colin BOWER (back row, extreme right, next to Miss WILKES), and John TILLEY (back row, 3rd from right).
I also remember Rosslyn DAVIES (front row, 4th from left), Robyn GUNN (2nd row, extreme left), Susan NASH (2nd row, 4th from left), Karen (I think wearing spectacles - perhaps LYNCH), and Gloria (possibly GILLIES).
Which is far too few - with humble apologies to the remainder, for my early onset dementia.

Stephen GREEN (back row, 2nd from the left) has re-acquainted himself, and now I am reminded by him also of Danny O'BRIEN (back row, extreme left) and Warren TIPLADY (back row, 3rd from left); and he further identifies other names for me - Roger PARRY (between Warren TIPLADY & John TILLEY), Grahame TOWLE (right of Billy LAING), Ian PATERSON (left of Billy LAING on the end of the row), & a Richard BLAND (with a question mark - right of Kevin MENDELSOHN and in front of yours truly); also Lynn PROCTOR and a girl named LOUGHMAN (perhaps just LOUGH?).

Tyrrell SALTER has also now added a few more girls names to the list - names which had slipped from my memory, but which were instantly recognisable when I saw them, although several of the nick-names were new to me - Gloria GILLIES & Karen LYNCH, both of whom went on to Parramatta High School with Tyrrell and Stephen GREEN; Susan (Tommy) NASH; Rosslyn (Bunny) DAVIES; Valda LOUGH; Ruth McLEAN (holding the 6 OC signage); Joy WEDDERBURN; Lynette GARNER; and then there was Glenda, Diedre & another Susan, but without remembered surnames.

I met up with Bill LAING and John TILLEY at the Summer School for Science Students at Sydney University in early 1965 (Leaving Certificate year); and several more entered Sydney University with us a year later, including Robyn GUNN (Electrical Engineering), Kevin MENDELSOHN (Medicine - he now practices as a G.P. with emphasis on E.N.T, in Atlanta, Georgia), Colin BOWER (one of the Biological Sciences - he was later an Entomologist, and won an award for work on Orchids), and I think Rosslyn DAVIES (Arts).

I do have some fond memories of my two years at Berala.

It was a two train journey, firstly from Harris Park to Lidcombe, and then change for the Liverpool via Regents Park line to Berala - with occasional glimpses of the steam driven Melbourne daylight express bolting through Lidcombe on its journey south. I am still a bit of a railways "tragic" - have always loved the way the old steam engines had their working bits on the outside, in full view!

I learnt to square dance, although it did nothing for either my confidence or my future careers.

I rather enjoyed the monumental projects that were required of us from time to time - one I remember was on Australian pastoral resources & products, & I think I pasted sample skeins of merino wool into the centre pages just for illustration - and the title of that project was "Australia Rides on the Sheep's Back" (as I am, just today, reminded by Lyn NOLAN, then of Chester Hill, who was in the next of Miss WILKES's classes of 1961-62).
Another, for some unusual and perhaps covert corporate reason, was on the manufacture of a very sugary soft-drink, licensed from its American manufacturers, with the "secret ingredient" that never occurred to me until my adult life had become an illicit recreational drug of choice for many (but not myself, he protesteth very loudly) - and it is likely that we had visited their bottling plant (as did the class of 1961-62, as Lyn NOLAN also remembered).

I think I remember fete days, when we made and/or sold hard and soft toffees & other dentists delights for some school or charitable project or another - but I may be conflating memories from Rose Hill.

And there were the excursions.
One I remember well was to the Agricultural College out west of Sydney (Hawkesbury, I suspect), where one of the girls (Susan NASH, if my memory serves) had her hock broken in a collision with a vehicle.
Another, as I am reminded by Stephen GREEN, was a visit to colonial era houses in historical Parramatta, including Elizabeth Farm (Governor Lachlan MACQUARIE's residence, named for his wife) and Experimental Farm Cottage (James RUSE's early farm grant), being approximately equally spaced from my own then residence at 32 Alice Street, Harris Park, with our view over the flood plain between Coal Cliff Creek and the upper navigable reaches of the Parramatta River, and some of my family waving to us from the back veranda as we inspected Hambledon Cottage (residence of the MACQUARIE family tutor).
And the Museum - spiders, if I remember rightly.

But perhaps the most rewarding of all of our excursions were the Symphony Concerts at the Sydney Town Hall - again, Lyn NOLAN (1961-62) reminds me that Miss WILKES even prepared her charges for choral participation in these concerts - and for me, as for others, a continuing deep love of sacred Choral Music seems to have been a result.

Sadly, towards the close of our year in 5 OC, "Billy" PARKER fell from a train and was killed - I would have been travelling with him, as I normally did, but I had spent that day at home sick with gastric troubles.
Bryan Robert PARKER died "...on 10 December 1959 (as the result of an accident) at St Joseph's Hospital, Auburn, of 9 Leura Road, Auburn, dearly loved son of Bob & Gwen PARKER & loved brother of Allen, aged 11. At Rest" [S.M.H., Friday 11 December], and after service at St Thomas's Church of England, Auburn, was cremated at the Rookwood Crematorium on the 11th.

And I suspect there was a bit of bullying - again, perhaps I am conflating memories of Berala with those of Rose Hill - but I do remember being lined up with the other "book-worms" against a brick wall, being pelted by tennis balls by a small posse of the more sporting types with strong throwing arms, and thereby acquiring the bully's brandings. I don't believe that I suffered any long-term damage as a result.
But we do seem to have been treated as a "tougher" breed back then - even being allowed to walk unattended from home to station and station to school, and back again, 5 days a week, 40 weeks a year, without any fear of becoming victims of predators, and also well before the days of 2 car families (on my first day at Berala, I was shown the way on the train by my mother, who appears to have trusted me to get back home again without her assistance).
Although it wasn't always walking - Tyrrell SALTER remembers me running for the train after school down a lane-way lined by a brick wall - perhaps the dawdlers missed a train, and then a connection or two at Lidcombe.
And Stephen GREEN remembers his friend George PENDER (who does not appear in either Class Photo) tripping over a slippery dip in Berala near the station, while running late, and breaking his arm.

If any of you 1959-1960'ers are out there, and don't mind your identity being revealed, please add a comment below and point yourselves out!
And if you wish to remain anonymous, but would like to make contact, please e-mail me at

Chris PIGOTT, formerly of 32 Alice Street, Harris Park, and now of Potts Point, N.S.W.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sir William PIGOTT - to Baronet or not to Baronet?

A number of references are to be found in the literature concerning a Sir William PIGOTT, Baronet, evidently connected with Dublin, and in the period ca 1830 to ca 1855.

In particular, he is credited as being one of a number of gentlemen whose Book-plates (printed "Ex-Libris" plates, adhered inside book covers to identify ownership) are detailed in the 1880's in a series of entries posted in "Notes & Queries" by Andrew BYRNE, Bertha SMITH, John PIGGOTT, & Alfred L. MONTGOMERY.

This periodical journal had the sub-title of "Medium of Communication for Literary Men, General Readers, &c"; and was, in part, the late 19th century equivalent of today's genealogical web-site Message Boards & surname-Lists. They are a rich source for family history research, although probably not very widely read nowadays.
I was very fortunate to have worked next to an Undergraduate Library at the Australian National University during the 1980s, where a full set of them was readily accessible on open shelves in the Reading Room.


Andrew BYRNE, of Bray, began the Book-plate discussion with his query in the issue of 24 April 1880 [Series 6, Volume I, page 336], as follows:
"Wanted particulars of the above, kindly sent me by Miss B. SMITH."

Bertha SMITH, of St Bees, posted an answer in the issue of 10 July 1880 [Ser. 6, Vol. II, p. 34], as follows:
"The book-plate of Lord KEANE was taken from the cover of a book entitled 'The Attack and Defence of Fortified Places,' by John MULLER, and corrected and enlarged by Isaac LANDMANN, F.S.A., London, 1791. This was likely the plate of Sir John, who was created Baron KEANE in 1839.
"The plate of William MAGUIRE was taken from 'Friendship in Death, in Twenty Letters from the Dead to the Living,' by Mrs Elizabeth ROWE, Dublin, 1752, and on the title-page was written 'Thomas MAGUIRE, Ballyhays, county Cavan, 1759.'
"That of James GREY from 'Histoire des Gaulois,' par Jean PICOT, de Genève, à Genève, 1804; on the front page the name Susanna PIGOTT was written, and in a bundle of old letters I find one addressed to his wife Charlotte GREY, in which he mentions his son John.
"Charles KELLY's plate was pasted in vols of the 'Dublin Theatrical Observer,' 1821, and under one I found written 'Mary Ann KELLY, June 6, 1821.'
"Amongst a heterogeneous mass of books, pamphlets, and old letters, &c, as a bundle of some 270 plates of Arms of Sir William PIGOTT, Bart.; these, with a few more valuable articles, including a handsome silver presentation cup, having the latter's arms with an inscription, were left to my sister by a deceased friend; I believe they were originally purchased at an auction.
"These bits of paper are, apparently, highly prized, and not being collectors ourselves we took the liberty of sending a few impressions to correspondents of 'N. & Q.,' who were collecting plates, in preference to wantonly destroying them. Further information I am unable to furnish."

Evidently one of the "correspondents" to whom Bertha had sent her "impressions" was probably Andrew BYRNE of Bray.

The last three names in the title of the posts I instantly recognize as men who either married into the Dublin family of John PIGOTT (ca 1759-1838) and his wife Mary VICKERS (1769-1829), or was related to them.
They were James GRAY, of Dublin, who married their daughter Charlotte PIGOTT; Charles KELLY, also of Dublin, who married their daughter Susannah PIGOTT; and William MAGUIRE, of Dublin, whose daughter Elizabeth MAGUIRE was the wife of their eldest son John PIGOTT Junior.

Quite how these men's Book-plates came to be associated with those of Lord KEANE remains a bit of an enigma.


John KEANE was born on 6 February 1781, the son of Sir John KEANE, Baronet, of Belmont, County Waterford; he entered the Army in 1793; half-pay, 1795-99; promoted Captain, 44th Foot, Gibraltar, 1799; A.D.C. to Lord Cavan in Egypt, 1801; Major, 60th Foot, 1802; Lieutenant-Colonel, 13th Foot, 1803, joining the Regiment in Gibraltar; Martinique, 1809, & was present at the Siege of Fort Desaix; Lieutenant-Colonel, 60th Foot, June 1812; Peninsular Wars; Major-General, June 1814; attack on New Orleans, Dec 1815, & wounded in January 1815; he served in Jamaica, 1823-30; was a General in India, & Commander-in-Chief of the Army in Bombay, 1833; Colonel of the 43rd Regiment of Foot, 1839; he entered Kabul in 1839; & then retired home, & settled in England; Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Bath (G.C.B.) and of Hanover (G.C.H.); created 1st Baron KEANE, 11 December 1839; he died at Burton Lodge, Hampshire, on 24 August 1844.
John was married firstly, on 10 August 1806, to Grace SMITH, a daughter of Lieutenant-General Sir John SMITH, Royal Artillery; she had 8 children, of whom 6 survived, and died in Kent, on 14 January 1838; John was married secondly, on 20 August 1840, to Charlotte Maria BOLAND, a daughter of the late Lieutenant-Colonel John BOLAND (he died at Clifton in 1820, a Field Officer in Bristol), but she had no issue by Lord KEANE.
His widow Charlotte was married secondly, on 18 October 1847, as his 2nd wife, to William PIGOTT of Dullingham House, Cambridgeshire. See further below.


The "missing link" in the Book-plate story may be the man identified, probably in fantasy, as Sir William PIGOTT, Baronet.

Jno PIGGOTT, of no recorded address, answered the above exchange with a letter published in the issue of 31 July 1880, [Ser. 6, Vol. II, p. 94], as follow:
"The following cutting from the Irish Teachers' Journal, vol. xii, p. 500, probably refers to the Sir William PIGOTT, Bart., mentioned ante, p.34: 'We understand that the diary and manuscripts of the late Sir William PIGOTT, Bart., of Tincurry, comprising political letters and reminiscences of the Irish Court during the reigns of King George IV and King William IV, have been placed in the hands of a well-known literary writer with a view to compilation, and that the work will appear at an early date'."

Further, R. HARVEY, also with no address given, had a query published in the issue of 8 Jul 1882 [Ser. 6, Vol. iv, p. 448], as follows:
"I have in my possession a copy of the brochure on 'Irish Disturbances Remedied, &c,' by Sir William PIGOTT, Bart, of Charlotte Street, Dublin, printed by T. O'FLANAGAN, Bachelor's Walk, Dublin, and dated 1833. Sir William was also the author of another somewhat similar publication."

Of this Sir William PIGOTT we find several further mentions in family records of the Dublin family of John PIGOTT & Mary VICKERS, whose family details are recorded on another page on this blog-spot:


William was born at 2 Grafton Lane, Dublin, on 29 July 1810, youngest son of John PIGOTT & Mary VICKERS,  and was baptised at St Luke's (C. of I.), Dublin, on 19 August 1810; he was admitted to Trinity College, Dublin, in 1832; B.A. (T.C.D.) 1837; he published a pamphlet, in Dublin, 1833, entitled "Is England an Enemy to Irish Progress, Considered; or, Political Disturbances in Ireland, Remedied," then residing at Charlotte Street; he was probably employed as Clerk, Secretary's Office, Paving Board, Dublin, 1835; 1st Clerk, Paving Board, 1841-48; Solicitor, Bolton Street, Dublin, 1842, & 7 Mountjoy Street Upper, 1844.
William died at Mountpleasant Square, Dublin, 11 May 1856, his death notice recording him as W. PIGOTT, and as the "...grandson of Captain John PIGOTT" [Notes & Queries] - further detail on his grandfather was published in the 26 Jul 1873 issue of N. & Q. [Ser. 4, Vol. 12, p. 72], in a JACKSON pedigree supplied by his son (W.J.P.), as "...Captain John PIGOTT of Brockley Park, Queen's County."
William was buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold's Cross, in the grave of his mother-in-law (Sarah JACKSON formerly MILLER, who died in January 1849) and brother-in-law (William JACKSON, who died in May 1850, the last of his line).
William was married at St Bridget's (C. of I.), Dublin, 23 February 1841, to Mary JACKSON (daughter of Joseph JACKSON of Brockfield House, Tencurry, County Tipperary); she remarried at St Thomas's, Dublin, on 3 November 1857, John ROBERTS, of Dundrum, County Down.

William & Mary had issue an only son:
1. William Jackson PIGOTT, born at Dublin, 13 September 1842; a gentleman landowner, of Dundrum Manor, County Down, & the family historian; died at Newcastle, County Down, 26 July 1921; married at Old Monkland Church, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, 21 November 1888, Elizabeth Shairpe MACKINTOSH; with issue 2 daughters.

When William Jackson PIGOTT (1842-1921) erected a memorial stone on his father's grave in Mount Jerome cemetery, probably some years after the death in 1856, he noted upon it that his grandmother's son-in-law was William PIGOTT, Bt.

William was therefore a sibling of the other children of John PIGOTT & Mary VICKERS, as follows:

1. Elizabeth PIGOTT, born at Dublin, 19 August 1795; died on 3 September 1795, aged 2 weeks.

2. John PIGOTT, born at Dublin, 22 October 1796; Tax Collector in Dublin, firstly for the Dublin Foundling Hospital, then for the Paving Board, & finally for the South Dublin Union; retired to the U.S. in ca 1858; married at St Peter's (C. of I.), Dublin, in June 1824, Elizabeth MAGUIRE, with issue.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
When this John PIGOTT Junior died in Kansas, U.S., in 1877, death notices were published in The London Times [15 Oct 1877] and Freeman's Dublin Journal [16 Oct], both of which recorded him as being the " of the late Sir William PIGOTT, Bart."
Further, when I began studying my family history some 35 years ago, one of the first pieces of PIGOTT family lore I found was a pedigree written by my elder brother Bill, which he had compiled during his days a medical student, using information that had arrived in Australia with various members of the PIGOTT family - and at the head of this pedigree was Sir William PIGOTT, of Dundin Castle.
However, much subsequent and detailed research failed to establish the veracity of this last detail.

3. Hester PIGOTT, born at Dublin, 1 October 1797, & baptised at St Luke's (C. of I.), Dublin, 15 October 1797; died aged 2 years.

4. Susannah PIGOTT, born at Dublin, 11 October 1798; she was married at St Peter's, Dublin, on 18 January 1827, Charles Aylmer KELLY, Chandler & Coal Merchant in Dublin, with issue.

5. Joseph PIGOTT, born at 2 Grafton Lane, Dublin, on 6 February 1802; Hairdresser & Perfumer in Cork City; married at Cork, by License dated 14 February 1830, Ellen RUMLEY (or ROMILLY), of Ballytrasna House, Cloyne, with issue.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A marriage notice was the subject of yet another item in Notes & Queries [Ser. 6, Vol. IX, p. 317], in which Joseph was described as " of Sir William PIGOTT, Baronet of Dublin."

6. Charlotte PIGOTT, born at 2 Grafton Lane, 21 July 1805; at Winding Alley, Dundrum, County Dublin, 1877; died at Gloucester Place, North Dublin, 6 November 1882, a widow; she was married at St Peter's (C. of I.), Dublin, 19 January 1837, James Henry GREY, Merchant & Brush Maker of Dublin, with issue.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
When Mrs Charlotte GRAY died in Dublin in late 1882, an obituary notice was published on an end page in Gentleman's Magazine [Vol. 253, p. 732], which identified her as:
"...sister of the late Sir William PIGOTT, Bart..."
The obituary was rather unusually detailed for a commoner, and the writer of it was not identified.

At this stage, it is probably pertinent to note that when William Jackson PIGOTT published his version of his Dublin family's pedigree in HOWARD & CRISP's "Modern Visitation of Ireland," in 1895 [Vol.2, pp. 94-96], his father's alleged Baronetcy had disappeared.

Therein, I believe, lies the kernel of the truth of this tale - and evidence of the likely "fabrication" of the said Baronetcy by his father's family.

And William Jackson PIGOTT does give us a clue about his father's youthful propensity for matters Heraldic - in the issue of Notes & Queries dated 26 Jan 1895 [Ser. 8, Vol. VIII, p. 74], he wrote:
"In a coloured sketch of the arms and crest done by my father, the late William PIGOTT, in 1826, when he was 16 years of age, the motto is 'HIC ET ULUBRIS'."

As to Lord KEANE, there was an association, after his death, with another branch of the Irish PIGOTT family - but it is to a somewhat distant branch of the family associated with Knapton, in the Queen's County, and this branch is the only Irish one for which a baronetcy was created, on 3 October 1808, in the person of Sir George PIGOTT (1764-1844), a member of the Queen's County branch of the PIGOTT family associated with Innishannon and Chetwynd, in County Cork.

Information concerning this family did form a part of the Notes & Queries exchanges on Book-plates in 1880, in an answer from Alfred L. MONTGOMERY in the issue dated 25 September 1880 [Ser. 6, Vol. II, p. 255], as follows:
"Sir George PIGOTT, Bart., of Knapton, married Annabella, daughter of the Right Hon. Thomas KELLY; and their third son, William PIGOTT, Esq., of Dullingham House, married, secondly, Charlotte Maria, relict of John, first Lord KEANE."


This third son, William PIGOTT, was born at Kellyville, Queen's County, on 29 October 1804; he was admitted into Trinity College, Dublin, on 22 April 1823; he married firstly, at the British Embassy in Brussels, on 23 June 1827, Harriett JEAFFRESON, a daughter of Christopher JEAFFRESON of Dullingham House, Cambridgeshire, by Elizabeth ROBINSON - although, curiously, William gave his address to the Ambassador's representative as Innishannon in the County of Cork (which had been the ancestral home of his great-great-grandfather).
William & Harriett had their first child, a son Christopher PIGOTT, born at Dullingham in 1830 (he would later adopt his mother's JEAFFRESON surname, and even later his grandmother ROBINSON's surname, both for inheritance purposes), and then two daughters, Ada & Harriett, were both born in Paris, in ca 1832-34; it was there, in Paris, that Harriett died on 12 March 1838.
William settled at Dullingham House with the three children; and at Dullingham Parish Church, on 18 October 1847, he married the Lady Charlotte Maria, a daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel John BOLAND, and the widow of John, Lord KEANE (see above).

Census returns for Dullingham House recorded, in 1841, William PIGOTT aged 34, Ind, born Ireland, with his son Christopher (5, born Cambridgeshire) and daughters Ada (8) and Harriett (7), bot born in France; in 1851, William PIGOTT, aged 40, Deputy-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire and Magistrate, Born Queen's County, Ireland, his wife Lady KEANE (30), born Sidmouth, Devonshire, his two daughters Ada (18) & Harriett (17), both born Paris, & his brother George PIGOTT (45, unmarried, born Queen's County, late Captain, 60th Rifles); in 1861, William was aged 55, Deputy Lieutenant, with wife Lady KEANE (45, Baroness), son C.W. ROBINSON (25, Esquire, born Dullingham), & daughter Harriett PIGOTT (26, Gentlewoman).

It had occurred to me that this William PIGOTT, with a wife Lady Charlotte, a Dowager Baroness indeed, might have been tempted to style himself Sir William, or had people he met with his wife perhaps assume she was a Lady because of his status in society.

It certainly makes sense that a Book-plate of Lord KEANE could well have ended up in the possession of his widow, and then by her 2nd marriage, into the hands of William PIGOTT of Dullingham.


It had also occurred to me that as this William, being 6 years older than William PIGOTT of Dublin, may have been  a more likely candidate for the Lord Deputy of Ireland's investigator of 1832-33, especially given his family connections.

Mrs Charlotte GRAY's obituary notice [Vol. 253, p. 732] mentioned her brother, the late Sir William PIGOTT, Bart (see above), adding that he was:
" intimate and trusted friend of the late Earl of Carlisle when Chief Secretary of Ireland, and the late Marquis Wellesley, by whom he was privately engaged in inquiry into political intrigues in the Irish Court during his Excellency's vice-royalty."

That William PIGOTT was "an intimate and trusted friend of the late Earl of Carlisle... and the late Marquis Wellesley" asks a few questions about the identity of this William, and how he came to be so intimate and so trusted.

George HOWARD (1802-1864) was the 7th Earl of Carlisle, and served under Lord Melbourne as the Chief Secretary for Ireland between 1835 and 1841. He was educated at Eton, and Christ Church, Oxon; he was a Member of Parliament, and represented the West Riding of Yorkshire during his time in Ireland.
There do not appear to be any parts of his career that he would have shared with either William PIGOTT, although William of Dullingham was obviously more of his age, and lived in England.

Richard Colley WELLESLEY (1760-1842), the Marquis Wellesley and Earl of Mornington, was an older brother of Sir Arthur WELLESLEY, later the Duke of Wellington; the two brothers did not agree on issues surrounding catholic emancipation in Ireland, the Duke being strongly opposed.
Richard served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland under two administrations - firstly from 1821 until 1828, resigning when his brother Arthur became Prime Minister - and secondly, under Earl GREY as P.M., from 1833 until the Whig Ministry was dismissed by King George IV in 1834.
He was clearly a lot older than either William PIGOTT, and there is even less likelihood they had connections with him before his return to Dublin Castle in 1833.
It might be of some significance that WELLESLEY quit Ireland about the time that the younger HOWARD arrived on the scene.

But when William PIGOTT published his pamphlet in Dublin in 1833, entitled "Is England an Enemy to Irish Progress, Considered; or, Political Disturbances in Ireland, Remedied," he was recorded on the pamphlet as being of Charlotte Street, Dublin - which was, of course, the street in which his father, John PIGOTT Senior, resided.

And what is evident from this date, 1833, is that William PIGOTT of Dullingham  does appear to have been having children born in France around this time, and so very  unlikely to have been in Dublin. Further, these children were by his first wife, and William was still nearly 15 years away from becoming the lawful consort of the dowager Baroness, Lady KEANE, in whose shadow he may have been seen by some to have been entitled to the respectfulness of being called "Sir."

The differences of opinion between the WELLESLEY brothers over Catholic emancipation may have been where young William PIGOTT came into "prominence." I have not seen a copy of his 1833 brochure/pamphlet, & am not aware that any copies have survived - but if it was an under-graduate treatise on Irish affairs, and his angle on the matters was in any way sympathetic to the more progressive forces, then the Marquis of Wellesley may well have seen it as supporting his own views, and made young William PIGOTT aware of his approval. But WELLESLEY's departure in 1834 probably saw William's star begin to wane before it ever shone very bright.


There are no official records pertaining to any William PIGOTT being elevated, by purchase, inheritance, or otherwise, into the ranks of the Baronetcy, or with a Knighthood.

From this fact alone, it would appear that the title had to have been "created" by one or other of the two William PIGOTT's mentioned above.
Again, I have been tempted to investigate the possibility that William PIGOTT of Dublin's father, John PIGOTT Senior (ca 1759-1838), may have been a closer relation of William PIGOTT of Dullingham than published pedigrees currently allow, or that he may even have been a son of a William PIGOTT.
As I have calculated, William PIGOTT of Dublin was a 5th cousin of William PIGOTT of Dullingham's father, Sir George, the 1st Baronet of Knapton.
But here, once again, William Jackson PIGOTT gives us the lead, and identifies John Senior's father as Captain John PIGOTT of Stradbally, Queen's County.

There was a reason why Bertha SMITH found 270 plates of Arms of Sir William PIGOTT, Bart, among the trove she was given.
Perhaps that reason was simply that William PIGOTT himself realised the "fantasy" of his own Baronetcy "creation," and was sensible enough not to make "fraudulent" use them.


The Journal of the Ex-Libris Society, Volume 8, 1889 [A. & C. BLACK, London], at page 125, published an image of a set of quartered Arms, as plate 318, which was the subject of a query on page 121, as follows:
"...Nos 310 & 318 - The plates of... 'Sir William PIGOTT, Bart,' (p.125), have been inserted in the hopes that some of our correspondents may be able to explain their curious quarterings."

This was followed up with a reply, at page 137:
"No 318 - This plate has in its first and fourth quarters the arms of PIGOTT and JACKSON, Baronets, but the second and third quarters are apparently bogus, and so far as we can find, there never was a Sir William PIGOTT in either of the families of PIGOTT who are baronets, nor can we find any connection between the families of PIGOTT, Bart, and the extinct family of JACKSON, Bart, of Beach Hill."

The identifications are credited to Rev F.R. ELLIS and others whose names do not appear in the snippet revealed in a, although one of the others was probably a Mr JEWERS.

[An image of the "bogus" Coat of Arms of the alleged Sir William PIGOTT, as published in the Ex-Libris Journal, 1889,  p.125. This image kindly provided by Tony PINCOTT, Hon Treasurer and Membership Secretary of The Bookplate Society, London.] 

I have a copy of an image of these quartered arms, sent from Dublin a few years ago, but am as yet unable to recover them from a mountain of paper at home.
The second and third quarterings are for the families of HILCOCK and VICKERS, both of Dublin. I have no doubt that they were prepared for, or probably by, our friend William PIGOTT of Dublin - the precocious student who was already drawing the PIGOTT family arms as a 16 year-old.

I am no expert on matters Heraldic, but I have read a little on the craft, and it seems that these are probably not an approved model of quartered arms.
I find no evidence that William PIGOTT made any formal application for a grant of Arms to the Office of the Chief Herald in Ireland. He might have got a bit of a surprise if he had - as his father was evidently illegitimate, the arms he would have been granted, had the Chief Herald been aware of that fact, would have been those of the family of PIGOTT adorned with the stick of bastardy.
That William may just have had an inkling of this might account for him not making such an application, and, indeed, going about creating his own, and economising by putting four individual armorial bearings into the one "quartered" set - using the escutcheons associated with the families of his father, his grandmother, his mother and his wife.

But a formal grant would probably not have been a quartered set anyway, if I understand J.P. BROOKE-LITTLE, who wrote in the "Coat of Arms," No 17, in January 1954:
"As convention stands today, the children of an heraldic heiress may quarter their mother's arms with their father's after their mother's death...
"Quarterings can only be acquired through an armigerous person. Your mother may have been as armigerous as anyone, but if you are not armigerous in your own right, you cannot inherit her noble quartering."
I am not suggesting that William PIGOTT's wife, Mary JACKSON, was not an heraldic heiress - indeed, she did become the only surviving child of Joseph JACKSON (1764 - 1849) of Brookfield House, Tencurry (or Tincurry), County Tipperary, when her brother William JACKSON died without issue in May 1850, aged about 35.

Finally, it is evident to me that the four sets of arms were selected by William PIGOTT to represent the following people (some of whom may not actually qualify to have been armigerous in their own right), most of whom were dead before he was born:

1. PIGOTT - "Ermine, Three fusils conjoined in fess, Sable" with "A crescent Or on the middle fusil" - for his father, John PIGOTT (ca 1759 - 1838) of Dublin; and his probable grandfather, Capt John PIGOTT (1704 - 1763) of Stradbally, Queen's County.
The crest depicting a wolf's head, couped at the neck, propre, with a crescent on the neck, is part of the PIGOTT of Queen's County Coat of Arms; as is the motto "Hic et Ulubris" - which has been translated as "Here and at Ulubris" and attributed to HORACE [Eleventh Epistle, First Book], with Ulubrae being identified as a small, decayed village on the edge of the Palatine marshes, the whole being interpreted, by Edward VENABLES [N. & Q., 9 Mar 1895, p. 190], as "True happiness depends on oneself, not a place."

2. HILCOCK - for his great-grandfather, Barnaby HILCOCK, of Dublin, whose daughter Hester was the mother of the said John PIGOTT (William's father).
Barnaby HILCOCK was recorded in "Dated Book-plates (Ex-Libris)," by Walter HAMILTON, London, 1895, at page 72, as:
"1751 - Barnaby HILCOCK, Dublin. Plain. Arm. 'Contra stimulum calces.' Very rough engraving."
This is the correct version of the corrupted motto shown at the top of the quartered image above. It has been translated as "Your opposition is in vain." It is evident from the way the first two letters of the second word stimulus have been severed and attached to the first word contra, that the compiler of it was not too strong on his Latin vocabulary.

3. VICKERS - for his maternal grandfather, Joseph VICKERS (born 1734; living 1792; dead by 1797), Silk Weaver/Manufacturer, of Dublin.
However, there is no conclusive evidence that the Dublin VICKERS family was related to the VICKERS family whose Arms are depicted here. It is possible, perhaps even probable, but not yet proven.
The blazon for a similar but more detailed set of Arms for another VICKERS family in Ireland is - "Argent, on a Cross flory Gules, five mullets of the first, a chief Sable, thereon three millrinds Or."

4. JACKSON - for his father-in-law, Joseph JACKSON.

The "bogus" Baronet, perhaps. But using a little bit of bravura imagination.


William PIGOTT's only child was William Jackson PIGOTT. He may be the man whose photo appears on a post-card advertised on e-bay:

The following inscription appears on the reverse:
"With all well wishes of the season from South Down Sub Unit, Ireland. Wm Jackson PIGOTT, Commandant. Xmas, 1912."

About 10 years ago, I became aware of a bundle of books being advertised for sale by De BURCA's Antiquarian Booksellers, Dublin, that had belonged to William Jackson PIGOTT. The purchase price was then in excess of 1200 Euros, entirely out of my reach, budget-wise. Fortunately, I was able to obtain an appraisal of it by a research colleague and distant relative living in Dublin, and his report indicated that there was very little of genealogical value left in it, and what remained was entirely the antiquarian value, and probably still considerably over-priced. The inscribed presentation cup mentioned in the Book-plate correspondence was certainly not amongst the holdings.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Tribute to Eric Sowerby DRAKE

I spent all five years of my secondary school life, between 1961 and 1965, in Parramatta, N.S.W., with Eric Sowerby DRAKE as my English Teacher.

[E.S.D., as I knew him, tweed jacket with leather elbow patches over dark green pullover, and pipe in hand. 
Photograph published in the King's School Magazine, December 1971, page 10.
Image courtesy of The King's School Archives.]

He was a gifted teacher, and an extraordinary interpreter of Shakespeare, being able to recite large chunks from memory, and doing so in front of the class, sometimes prowling between the rows of desks, and at least once standing on top of one of them, with great evocation of character and rhythm of the language.
And he was a skilled story teller.
"Brother Animals," he would address us, as the class began...
And so another story - this time, if memory serves, he was parachuting behind the lines in China, and giving the Kuomintang Nationalists under Chiang Kai Shek a few lessons in espionage! Or so I believed.
I certainly remember his advice as to how to spot when you were being tailed, by pausing to look in a shop widow, and when you saw the fellow behind you casually stop, out of the corner of your eye or in reflection in the window glass, then make an excuse for going inside by putting your pipe in your mouth & pretend to have no matches, make a quick entry into the said shop, & when your tail had rushed up, go out again & look him in the eye as you went on your way (all right, perhaps I did embellish some of that from my own imagination).
And of how he confronted an attacking tiger by sticking his fist down its throat and strangling it - my brother Peter remembered that from 6 years earlier, which greatly amused his class.
Any disturbances in class were classified as "mucking up" - and the threat for that sin was Grammar. He kept good control by that stratagem, and the stories were legion.

My five years with E.S.D. resulted in my passing the Leaving Certificate with an "A" pass, which was perhaps a little unexpected for a student whose academic talents and curriculum focus lay elsewhere (Honours in Physics and Mathematics I). So off to University I went, leaving the humanities in my wake, to study Civil Engineering (specialising in Structures).

Until years later, when the impact of E.S.D. sowed the seeds of doubt, and I eventually left Engineering for the world of live theatre, albeit in the back-stage and technical departments relating to sets and standing scenery, flying scenery and revolves, lifts and travelators, via brief spells in Lighting and Sound, Props and Stage Management, with even a brief foray into box-office and front-of house in my Canberra days.

And the first indication of this shift came to me in 1974, during my first visit to the United Kingdom, as a 24 year-old Commonwealth Public Servant on 12 months leave-of-absence. After some time with friends in London, I stayed several weeks with my mother's sister, who ran a pub with her husband in Guildford, Surrey, from where I explored a large swathe of the South of England between Surrey & Bristol, where her husband had family.

One night, an unexpected "muse" started moving in my mind, and a series of "poems" flowed out onto paper. And no, it was not the most recent pint of light and bitter at work!
One of them went along the following lines:


Fleet turn of wheel
That rolls on track through foreign land
To open fields vision
Voyeured by another man.
A Teacher,
Not a pedant of the rod and ram and rote,
That some can be
And are.
His lessons were of life -
Not mine at once - but later:
When the chill of test and mark had ceased to be,
When lust for knowledge
Of a type that suits the world of need and greed
And might have been
Is spent...
Like pennies in a store,
To buy the sweetmeats
That can never be.
Now they live,
And with them so does he -
In field and lane,
In lake and hedge and dry stone wall they live,
In people such as he,
In lives of melancholy and glee.
I thank you, Sir,
For not demanding thanks as others did,
In grades and honours
And in misery of mis-spent youth.
I thank you, Sir,
That I can think of you
When others' memory is spent
Like pennies...
1974                                                           C.G.P.

To this, I now add my further tribute to that inspirational English teacher, E. Sowerby DRAKE, our "Brother Animal" extraordinaire. And the following, as patchy as it cannot avoid being, is what I have been able to glean of his life story.


Eric Sowerby DRAKE was born on 22 December 1898, at Chou Ping (or T'sow-ping) City (Fu), Shantung Province, Northern China. Details of the birth were registered at Her Britannic Majesty's Consulate at Chefoo [G.R.O., Consular Birth Indexes, Volume 10, page 373].

Eric's father was Samuel Bingham DRAKE, who was born in 1851 at Oakham, in that "smallest" English County that used to be known as Rutland - his father, Reuben Cole DRAKE, was a Master Tailor in the High Street, Oakham, and his mother was Caroline BINGHAM, from whom Samuel acquired his middle name - they were married in the Baptist Chapel at Oakham on Tuesday 12 September 1848.

Rev Samuel Bingham DRAKE was aged about 28 when he went abroad with the China Inland Mission. Much of the following detail can be found in "China's Millions," the journal of the China Inland Mission (C.I.M.), published annually in London, and edited by their founder, J. Hudson TAYLOR - references to this journal will appear below as "C.M." with year of publication and page number.

[A Map of China produced by the China Inland Mission, showing the coastal Province of Shantung in the north (below Manchuria); with Shansi Province inland and to the west of it (south of the Great Wall).
Image courtesy of the web-site.]

DRAKE was set aside to his work by the C.I.M. Council in London on 8 November 1878, and sailed with two other Missionaries (Messrs ELLISTON & PARROTT) on the Messageries Maritimes steamer Irrawaddy, scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong & Shanghai in the last week of December 1878 [C.M., 1879, p.139]; in the company of W. HILLIER, Esq, of H.B.M.'s Consular Service, he left Hankow (well inland, on the Yangtze River) "in barrows" on 8 January, trekked northwards through Ho-Nan (25 January), crossed the Yellow River (8 February), and passing through Hwai Ch'ing Fu (where he went un-noticed as he was wearing Chinese dress, a common practice among C.I.M. men), reached the city of Ping-yang, in southern Shan-si Province, on 18 February 1879 [C.M., 1880, p.4]; there he joined other missionaries carrying out famine relief, including Canon SCOTT, David HILL, Timothy RICHARD & J.J. TURNER [see Rev DRAKE's "Among the Dark-haired Race in the Flowery Land," Religious Tract Society, London, 1897]; after the relief work was completed, DRAKE went on to his Station at Tai Yuen Fu, and spent some months studying the language, as well as looking after an orphanage school for 40 "famine boys" [C.M., 1880, p.118, citing DRAKE's letter dated 6 May at Tai Yuen Fu]; after 9 months, he went for a break to Pao-ting Fu [C.M., 1880, p.78], before returning to the Mission Station at P'ing Yang Fu (commenced in 1879 by HILL for the Wesley Mission), assisting Joshua TURNER; when TURNER & his wife went home on furlough in the autumn of 1881, he:
"...left the Station in the charge of Rev S.B. DRAKE who had been assisting him. For about 3 years, Mr and Mrs DRAKE worked on at P'ing Yang, most of the time single-handed... in the spring of 1885, Mr and Mrs DRAKE were obliged to leave for needed rest and change."
One of DRAKE's Chinese members was the former Confucionist scholar, Hsi Shengmo, whom DRAKE made an Elder; opium abuse was rife in the area, and users were required to kick the habit before being baptised into the missionary church; DRAKE assisted the process with anti-opium pills, evidently morphine, and Hsi's rival Fan, whose anti-opium "dens" DRAKE frequented to administer the pills, eclipsed Hsi in local influence - until DRAKE went on leave, and the supply of pills stopped. Rev Samuel B. DRAKE's "Story of Mr FAN of P'ing Yang Fu, Shan-si," was published in September 1883 [C.M., 1883, pp. 127-129].
But there was politics among the missionaries as well.
The China Inland Mission, which was Protestant interdenominational, and the Baptist Missionary Society had both established stations in Tai Yuan Fu by 1879, and:
"...the C.I.M. pioneers, Joshua TURNER and Francis JAMES had been joined by two seasoned veterans, Samuel DRAKE and Thomas Wellesley PIGOTT... The B.M.S. consisted mainly of Timothy RICHARD and his wife... The B.M.S. claimed responsibility for the area north of Tai Yuan, as far as Mongolia, while the C.I.M took the south, to the Yellow River..."
[See "China's Millions: The China Inland Mission and Late Qing Society, 1832-1905," by Alvyn AUSTIN, Wm B. EERDMAN's Publishing, 2007, page 186.]
And these Missionaries evidently talked to each other.
In 1881, the C.I.M.'s founder, J. Hudson TAYLOR, raised his suspicions over RICHARD's call for "cultural accommodation" and indigenous leadership, and subsequently ordered his people to sever relations with RICHARD; in protest, C.I.M. members Joshua TURNER, Francis JAMES and Arthur SOWERBY all resigned, with their wives, to be followed later by Samuel DRAKE and Celia HORNE.
Samuel then joined the Baptist Missionary Society, gained his first appointment with them in 1886, and served at Stations in Tsing Chow Fu (1886-1892), Tsowping (1892-1908) and again at Tsing Chow Fu (1908-1910); he retired to England, evidently in 1910; was living at Lee, in Lewisham, in 1911 (Census); and by 1919 was residing at Ercildonne, 55 Hide Road, Harrow-on-the-Hill [see his entry in List of Missionaries, 1918 Annual Report of the B.M.S., page 63].
An alternative address was recorded for him in September 1889, at the English Baptist Mission, Chou-P'ing, Hsien, Shantung (see his daughter Elizabeth's birth details below). I presume this may have been the same place as Tsowping, although the dates don't match.

There were trips back home.
The North-China Herald, &c, [15 October 1885] reported that Mr & Mrs DRAKE, and 2 children (daughters Florence & Frances), sailed for London on the steamer Jason; and their issue of 4 February 1887 recorded their return from London on the steamer Glenfruin.
The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal [1 April 1895] noted the departure on 9 March of Rev S. B. DRAKE and family from Shanghai for England; English newspapers record him preaching at Willingham in August 1895, at Huddersfield in September 1895, and at Honeycastle, Lincolnshire, in March 1896; and Chinese newspapers recorded his arrival back in China in December 1896, from London, with Mrs DRAKE and one child (probably the youngest, Henry Burgess, the elder children perhaps having been left in England for their education), on the steamer Ganges.
English newspapers further report that he preached at Tring, Bucks, in February 1906, and at Taunton, Somerset, in September 1906.
Further, he preached at Zion Chapel in Gloucester, and at Tewkesbury, in February 1910, and again, at Burnham and at Bristol, in November 1910, but whether he went back to China between these 1910 dates is not clear.

Eric's mother was Florence SOWERBY, who was baptised at Dalston St Phillip, County Middlesex, with her twin Arthur, on 3 November 1857, the children of Joseph SOWERBY, Commercial Clerk, and Grace SEGUIER (both of whose fathers were Artists). It was she who gave Eric DRAKE his memorable middle name.
Arthur & Florence were living with their parents in 1861, at 2 Park Villas, Hackney, aged 3, as well as their three older siblings, Edward, Alice & Herbert; they were at 38 Fairford Road, Hampstead St John, in 1871, again with their parents & two older brothers, their father now being a Collector of Town Rates; and in 1881, shortly before she went to China, Florence was boarding at Kingston-upon-Thames, in the household of Henry N. STEPHENS, a Commercial Clerk, his wife Lucy E. (aged 24), and their infant son, Florence being recorded as his "wife's companion."
And it was her brother Arthur SOWERBY, who served in China as a Missionary, from 1881 (at Tai Yuan Fu), who probably encouraged his twin sister to join him there.
Eric knew neither of his SOWERBY grandparents, who were both dead before his parents were married (both at Hampstead, Joseph in 1871, and Grace in 1879). But one of his SOWERBY kin was named as the guardian on his brother Frederick's enrolment at Eltham School in 1902.
But he would probably have known his seven SOWERBY cousins, the children of his uncle Arthur by his wife Louisa CLAYTON, and born between 1885 and 1896, probably in China, where Arthur was posted to Tai-yuen Fu (1881-97), Sinchow (1897-1900), Tai-yuen Fu again (1900-1911), Teintsin (1911-13) and Peking (from 1913).

[A group of Baptist Missionaries and their families, in front of the Gotch-Robinson institute in Qingzhao, Shantung Province, ca 1891. The people in the photo are not yet identified.
The DRAKE family, living in Shantung at the time, may be in the photo.
Image courtesy of the web-site.]

Samuel & Florence were married at Peking on 30 October 1882. The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Herald [1 November 1882] recorded this event as taking place at the British Legation, and between "Mr S.B. DRAKE, China Inland Mission, to Miss SOWERBY, Baptist Mission, Tai-yuen Fu." Perhaps another good reason why DRAKE left the C.I.M and joined the B.M.S. A report in China's Millions [1883, p.57] recorded, among "Tidings from Miss LANCASTER in Tai-yuen Fu," that :
"...Miss KINGSBURY accompanied Miss SOWERBY and Mr DRAKE to Pekin."
On a journey that was undoubtedly connected with their nuptials.

Samuel and Florence raised a family on the move in parts of North China:

1. Florence Caroline DRAKE, born at Tai Yuen Fu, Shansi Province, about 1883, & registered at Tientsin [Consular Birth Index, Vol. 7, 1881-85, page 481]. Aged 17 in the 1901 Census. She was evidently a teacher at Eltham College, 1907-09; an assistant teacher at Crouch End High School & College for Ladies, at Hornsey, 1911, aged 27 (her birth place was recorded); with her parents at 55 Hide Road, Pinner, 1919 Electoral register for Hendon. She died, as the result of a road accident, in a hospital at Hyde Park Corner on 11 October 1847, late of 61 Twyford Abbey Road, Park Royal, County Middlesex, unmarried.
A brief notice appeared in the Eltham College Magazine, noting that the "Old Boys of the 1907-09 generation will be grieved" by the news of her death, and that during that period at Blackheath she was "Mistress in charge of the 'Mangag'." It is likely that this last term is a corruption of Menagerie, and was the term applied by older boys to the most junior form in the school - which is probably what Eric would later (1931) refer to as the "monkey stage" of young boy's development.

2. Frances Grace DRAKE, born in or before October 1885, probably also at Tai Yuen Fu,  & registered at Teintsin [Consular Birth Index, Vol. 7, 1881-85, page 483]; her death was registered at Chefoo [Consular Death Index, Vol.8, 1886-90, page 268], having undoubtedly been the 2nd child who returned to China with her parents in February 1887; a child.

3. Elizabeth DRAKE, born at the English Baptist Mission in Tsing Chou Fu, on 17 April 1887 [Chinese Recorder and Missionary Herald, 4 July 1887], the birth registered a Chefoo [Consular Birth Index, Vol. 8, page 396]. Aged 13 in 1901. Aged 23 in 1911, & unmarried.
It appears highly likely that Elizabeth DRAKE, of St John's, Greenhill, Co Msx, was married in County Middlesex in April 1914 to her cousin William Herbert SOWERBY of St Anslem's, Hatch End (son of Edward Joseph SOWERBY, a brother of Mrs Florence DRAKE); and by him had issue a son - Frederick Peter Seguier SOWERBY, born in Nowra, N.S.W., in 1918  #31855. The family arrived in London on 23 Apr 1920, on the ship S.S. Borda, from Sydney, Elizabeth being then aged 32 years.

4. Samuel Bingham DRAKE, born at the English Baptist Mission at Chou-P'ing, Hsien, Shantung, on 28 June 1889, "...the wife of Rev S.B. DRAKE, English Baptist Mission, of a son" [Chinese Recorder and Missionary Herald, 1 September 1889], the birth registered at Chefoo [Consular Birth Index, Vol. 8, page 402]. He was aged 10 in 1901; attended the School for the Sons of Missionaries, Blackheath (later Eltham College) from 1900 to 1905; and aged 21, Manager of a Real Estate Agency in Prittlewell, Essex, in 1911, boarding with a Mrs PAUL at 33 St Helen's Road, Westcliffe-on-Sea; and later a Surveyor's Clerk, of 23 Salisbury Road, Wealdstone, Middlesex (December 1915). Samuel enlisted on 7 December 1915 (S.N. 7414) in the 14th Battalion, London Regiment (London Scottish); he went to France in August 1916, and was killed by a "flying torpedo" at or near Arras on 11 October 1916; he was buried in Maroeuil War Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, Calais Nord. His name appears on Memorial plaques in the Avenue Road Baptist Church, Westcliff (one of 15 names) and on a much larger memorial in St Saviour's Church, King's Road, Westcliffe-on-Sea (195 men of the parish and its churches). He was married at Westcliffe, Essex, on 8 August 1914, to Martha Louisa (Mattie) FRYER, with his brother Rev F. DRAKE acting as his best-man; they had a daughter, Mollie Florence DRAKE, born at Harrow, Middlesex, on 11 June 1916 [see British Army WW1 Service Records on].

5. Frederick Seguier DRAKE, born in Tsow Ping, Shansi Province, on 13 April 1892, the birth registered at Chefoo [Consular Birth Index, Vol. 9, page 281]. Aged 8 in 1901; attended the S.S.M. (later Eltham College) from 1902 to 1909; aged 18 in 1911; he married firstly, at Shanghai, on 1 December 1916, to Dorothy Mabel PALMER, aged 23, a daughter of Rev John PALMER; her death, during 1917, at Peichen, Shantung, was recorded in the B.M.S.'s 126th Annual Report [1918, p.5]; Frederick married secondly, in China, on 28 January 1930, Dora Mabel CRACKNELL; he later occupied academic posts in China, and Hong Kong; he died in 1976.
In 2011, CHRISTIE's sold the fine art work "Birds and Kapok Flowers," by Zhao Shao'ang, 1959, Pen on paper, Dedicated to Yangshan (Prof F.S. DRAKE), with the following biographical note on Professor DRAKE, from whose former collection the work was sold:
"Professor Frederick Seguier Drake (1892-1976) was born in Shandong, China. From a distinguished English family, Drake was ordained minister as a young man and devoted himself to missionary work. Professor Drake was a traveller, and a scholar in Chinese and Divinity; as an archaeologist he travelled extensively within China and was Dean of the Faculty of Divinity at Qiliu (Cheeloo) University in Ji'nan, Shandong. After a brief return to his native England during the Chinese Civil War, Prof. Drake came to Hong Kong as Chair of Chinese at the University of Hong Kong and occupied the position for twelve years. Prof. Drake was widely respected by his students and within the academia. His most notable achievement included leading the archaeological excavation of the Lei Cheng UK Eastern Han Tomb in Hong Kong in the 1950s. Zhao Shao'ang gifted Prof. Drake with Birds and Flowers (Lot 3150) to celebrate his 72nd birthday and his retirement."

6. Henry Burgess DRAKE, born in Tsien Ping, Shansi, on 14 April 1894, the birth registered at Chefoo [Consular Birth Index, Vol. 9, page 285]; aged 6 in 1901; attended S.S.M. from 1902 to 1912; aged 16, at Eltham College, 1911. He enlisted as a Stretcher Bearer in the R.A.M.C. in 1915, and later transferred to the Royal Field Artillery, and returned to France. B.A. (1st Class Honours in English), University College, London, 1920; Teacher's Diploma, 1921. Identified as the brother whom Eric would join in China in late 1944. For many years a teacher, initially with brother Eric back at Eltham (until 1927), and later, after a stint in Korea as an English Professor in a Japanese University, at Bromley County Grammar School (from 1930) with time out during the War, back in China (at Chanqing, then Xi'an), as a Major in the Intelligence Corps (he requested his brother Eric join him there in 1944), with a mission to recruit spies to penetrate Japanese held territory. He died in September 1963, late of 7 London Road, Widley, near Gosport, Hampshire; he married Rene BOWKER in 1921, and they had 2 sons, who were his executors - Terence Theodore DRAKE, Lecturer, and Alan Reginald DRAKE, Scientist.

And lastly,

7. Our Eric.


Early attempts to anglicise Chinese place names weren't always entirely consistent, relying, as they appear to have done, on phonetic interpretation of local dialects. Few of these variations are readily identifiable on modern maps of China, as they have either been re-named, or re-anglicised by Chinese map-makers who no longer pay lip-service to colonial era traditions.

The earlier C.I.M. map of China (see above) does show a number of towns in both Shantung and Shansi provinces, but the resolution of the digital image is not sufficient to reveal their identities on enlargement. But another map gets us part of the way.

[Part of the Map of China published in the B.M.S. Annual Report of 1918, at page 20.
There was no scale attached, but the distance from Peking to Taiyuanfu is 250 miles or 400 km direct.]
This map does show Chefoo, on the north coast of the Shantung Peninsula; and Tsow Ping in Shantung, & Tai Yuen Fu in Shansi.
Tsing Chow Fu appears to be the name, partially obscured, immediately above the "G" of SHANTUNG and starting under the Ping of Tsow Ping - but which circle it attaches to is not entirely clear. 
Ping Yang Fu is not shown, but would have appeared at or very near the top of the first up-right of the letter "H" in SHANSI.

My current and somewhat feeble attempts to identify the places named above, it only now dawning on me that Fu or Foo means City, are:
1. Che-fu or Chefoo, on the northern coast of Shantung or Shandong province. Also known as Yentai.
2. Tsing Chow Fu, alias Tseng or Ch'ing Chou Fu, in Shantung - now Qingzhou, or Yitu (as shown on a 1973 Bartholomew's map of China).
3. Tsow Ping Fu, alias Chou Ping, also in Shantung.
4. Tai Yuen Fu, principal city of Shansi or Shanxi province - now Taiyuanfu.
5. Ping Yang Fu, in Shansi - now Linfen.


Of this place named Tai-yuen Fu, I have heard much, although not until after I had made a visit there in 1978 - I later discovered that it was the site of a set of Boxer executions of foreigners, including Missionaries, on 9 July 1900 - among these was Rev Thomas William PIGOTT, his wife Jessie (formerly KEMP), and their 14 year-old son Wellesley, and who was, as described by eye-witnesses, the last of his little family group to be beheaded, in a standing position, having to the last minute been holding his mother's hand, even as she fell. These PIGOTTs were distant relations, deriving a descent, as I do, from the PIGOTTs of Dysart in Queen's County (Laois) in Ireland.
Recently discovered newspaper reports indicate that Rev DRAKE was in the area at the time, and may even have been witness to their group being led from an out-station into Tai Yuen Fu in chains just before they were killed.
It sent shock waves around the expatriate European community in China, and among their families at home, and the Church bodies there who sent them - and this resulted in the dependent part of the DRAKE family being withdrawn from the risk of danger, and shipped to the safety of England.

Indeed, on 12 September 1900, the Indianapolis Journal (page 3) carried a report emanating from the U.S. State Department concerning the efforts of the U.S. Consul at Chefoo, John FOWLER, had made to secure a vessel to rescue the missionaries and their families who were escaping from the interior of China, attaching a list of their names, which included, by the steamer Heian Maru, on 2 July, on her first trip, from Chou Ping (English):
"...the Rev S.B. DRAKE, wife and three children."

Nine days later, on 21 September 1900, the Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury published more detail in a report of "The Crisis in China" under the sub-heading of "Stamfordians Had to Leave the Country," as follows:
"Mrs DRAKE, wife of the Rev S.B. DRAKE, formerly of Stamford, and now attached to the Baptist mission in China, has supplied to a representative of the Mercury some interesting observations respecting the position in China, and her experiences in that country since the 'Boxer' rising. Mr DRAKE, whose father lives in Recreation-ground-road, was stationed in the Shan Tung province in the north east of China. When he and his family left for the coast there had been no actual disturbance in that immediate neighbourhood. The American consuls kept them in touch with what was going on elsewhere, and up to a few days before they had warning to leave, they hoped to be able to remain at their Station; but things began to get alarming in the neighbouring provinces, and they had 2 days notice to clear out and get towards Chefoo. The Governor of Chi Nan Fu was asked to supply a guard of soldiers to escort the missionaries and their families, but he sent back that he could not grant one as there were so many guards in request. He advised them to get down to Chi Nan Fu and then, he said, he would see what could be done. At that time the Chinese were getting excited, and the Christians were getting nervous about what might happen, and the missionaries took the precaution to clear out at night. They left the Station at about 9 o'clock in mule carts, the party consisting of 4 ladies and 8 children, the youngest being a fortnight old, and the oldest eight years; and they travelled in these carts to the riverbank. Here the Chinese officials granted them a guard of ten soldiers. Native boats were obtained, and the party continued the journey by water, being on the river three days and two nights. They were subsequently transferred to a big junk, and had to stop in it all night, and afterwards they got on to a Japanese cargo steamer, chartered for the purpose of getting the missionaries away, and then went to Chefoo. Here there was some excitement among the Chinese, but there was no danger. Several missionary parties kept coming in, some of them having travelled three weeks under very trying circumstances, and with only the clothes they stood in. Mr DRAKE's party got away with comparative comfort, and Mrs DRAKE having arranged to go to England in the autumn had been getting prepared for the journey. It was a rough experience to Chefoo, but there were really no hardships. The Governor of the province was very good to them, being anxious to get all the foreigners away, and thus respect the wishes of the Empress to clear China of foreigners...
"After leaving Chefoo, the missionary party were taken to Shanghai..."

Just 2 months after the Tai Yuen Fu massacre, the "Houdini" that I seem to have imagined in Eric DRAKE had survived his first "scrape" with danger, and he was still not yet 3 years old!
And much later, Eric's nephew Alan DRAKE, the son of Henry Burgess, wrote that as the family was making its way down the Yellow River, the young boys had to be hidden in a tea chest!
If the N.Y. Times report of only three children is correct, then it appears likely that the three youngest boys, Frederick, Burgess & Eric, were the ones in the tea chest, and that the three eldest children, Florence, Elizabeth & Samuel Junior, were probably already at schools in England.


On Census night of 1901, Florence DRAKE and 5 of her children were living at Ebenezer House, Queen Street, parish of Stamford St George with St Paul, County Leicester. She was aged 43, a Missionary (Wesleyan), born Dalston, Middlesex; the children were Florence C. (aged 17), Elizabeth (13), Frederick S. (8), Henry B. (6) and Eric S. (2), all born in China, British Subjects.
I wondered if Ebenezer House might have been a church property, or where Rev Samuel Bingham DRAKE had planned to retire to anyway - but there is a simpler explanation.
Eric's grandfather, Reuben Cole DRAKE, formerly a Master Tailor on the High Street of Oakham, had made his residence at Stamford, Lincolnshire, sometime after the Census of 1871, and was recorded there in 1881, as an Assurance Agent, residing at 11 Conduit Road, Stamford St Michael, along with his wife Caroline & 3 children (Emma, Ada & Edwin); in 1891 he was at 3 Recreation Ground Road, All Saints Stamford, with wife & 2 children (Ada & Edwin); and at the same street address in 1901, with just his wife Caroline. She died there on 31 October 1905, in her 78th year [The Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury, Friday 15 September].
Eric's aunt Ada (his father Samuel Bingham's sister), the wife of Frederick CLARKE, a Wine Merchant's Traveller, was living at Stamford St George, Lincolnshire, in 1911, and with her was their father, Reuben Cole DRAKE, aged 84, a Widower and a Pensioner.
And in the same Census, 1911, at 4 Peters Street, in the parish of All Saints with Stamford St Peter, Lincolnshire, we find Samuel Bingham DRAKE, aged 10, born Chou Ping, China, boarding in the household of Mary Elizabeth WAKEFIELD, a Boarding House Keeper, her niece, and one other boarder.

Whether Florence & the family remained here is unclear. Perhaps things settled down in China after the Boxer Rising passed, & perhaps Rev Samuel felt it safe enough for them to re-join him. But if they did go back out, there is no mention of them in Passenger Lists for departures from or arrivals in England between 1901 & 1911 (although their arrival in 1900-01 was not recorded either).

Samuel Bingham & Florence DRAKE were enumerated in 1911 Census at 74 Manor Park, Lee, Borough of Lewisham, London S.W.; he was recorded as a Retired Missionary, with them were two of their children - Elizabeth (aged 23, born Tsing Chou Fu, North China) and Frederick Seguier (aged 18, born Tsow Ping, North China). It was here that they were recorded as having had 7 children born, with 6 surviving. Eric was absent, boarding at the School for Sons of Missionaries in Blackheath, as was his brother Burgess (aged 16); S. Bingham DRAKE Junior was at Prittlewell, Essex, an Estate Agency Manager, boarding with a Mrs Dulcie PAUL.
In his entry in the 1913-14 Annual report of the Baptist Missionary Society, his address was recorded as 65 Welldone Crescent, Harrow-on-the-Hill. And in Electoral Registers for Hendon, he was at 55 Hide Road, Parish of Pinner, with wife Florence, from 1919 onwards.

The Grantham Journal [Saturday 18 March 1933] carried the following report of an "Oakham Native's Golden Wedding" celebrations, summarising Samuel's career:
"Recently, a native of Oakham, the Rev S.B. DRAKE, of Hide Road, Harrow, celebrated that happy event... the eldest son of Mr Reuben DRAKE, of Stamford, was born at Oakham some 82 years ago, and after completing his College training, proceeded to China as a Missionary in connection with the China Inland Mission. That was in 1878, and for about 7 years he worked in Shansi, where he associated himself with the Baptist Missionary Society. He was stationed in Shantung from 1886, and in addition to his ordinary Missionary duties, he engaged in literary work, and on several occasions took a prominent part in relief work. After working in China for a period of 30 years, he retired. For 3 years, 1913-16, he was Professor of Chinese at King's College, London, transferring in 1917 to the School of Oriental Studies, retiring in 1920. He married Miss Florence SOWERBY, and they have 3 sons and 2 daughters, their eldest son being killed in the war. Another son, Mr Fred DRAKE, is a missionary."

While he was at King's College, London, Samuel was credited for his assistance in Chinese, and cited for a piece of Chinese-English translation, by Israel GOLLANCZ in his "A Book of Homage to Shakespeare," Oxford University Press, 1916.

In 1925, Rev Samuel B. DRAKE stood as an Independent candidate, with support from the local Unionist, Liberal and Allotment Associations, to fill a vacancy on the Hendon Rural District Council, for the Headstone Ward. He was elected as the second member. He was re-elected in 1928 (second member again, just behind Miss Julia CURTIS-PRICE); and he was co-opted to continue in office in 1931, after only one candidate (Mrs Florence MARTLEW, Conservative) stood unopposed. The Council was abolished when the new Harrow Urban District Council was created in July 1934.

Eric's father died on 11 June 1935, at St Vincent's Nursing Home, Headstone Lane, Harrow, Middlesex, late of 55 Hide Road, Pinner, Middlesex; Probate was granted at London to Henry Burgess DRAKE, Schoolmaster, Eric Sowerby DRAKE, Fine art gallery Director, and Florence Caroline DRAKE, Spinster; the estate was valued at just over £5,900.
His mother Florence died 4 years later, of 55 Hide Road, Pinner, Middlesex, on 14 December 1939; her probate was granted to the same three children, Eric this time being recorded as a Camouflage Officer; her effects were valued, at £2965 1s & 4d.
These valuations were made undoubtedly for the purposes of assessing death duty obligations, and Florence may well have been assessed on assets she received from her late husband's estate.
But these asset values are not small; and the executors may have been obliged to sell up some of the real property to satisfy the death duty collectors.
Eric would later speak (to Lloyd WADDY) of his "austere" up-bringing, which may have had more to do with his parents judicious economising in the home, as they would probably have had no choice but to do in China, rather than it representing any significant impoverishment in their domestic finances overall.


["Winchester House," Blackheath.
Built in the 1850s as the School for the Sons of Missionaries, it was vacated in 1912 when the school moved to new premises and was thereafter known as Eltham College.
Evidently Eric and his 2nd wife Janna rented separate rooms on the top floor before they were married.]

Eric started at the School for the Sons of Missionaries, at Blackheath, on 13 March 1905, his admission entry recording him as a Day Boy, and his father as Rev S.B. DRAKE of 65 Welldon Crescent, Harrow.
I'm not sure that we can assume that Eric's father was then actually living in London, and some evidence from China sources suggests that he wasn't, but we can probably assume his mother was still in England, otherwise Eric would probably have been admitted as a Boarder.

[School for the Sons of Missionaries, Blackheath, 1909.  
Eric DRAKE, aged 9, is probably there - possibly on the extreme left of 4th row from the front?
Miss DRAKE, the  woman on the right (as we look at the picture) was probably his oldest sister Florence. 
Image courtesy of Eltham College Archives.]

Eric was a gifted student, and his Valete entry records him with French Certificate, 1912; 1st Class Cambridge Senior qualifying for matriculation, 1913; Prix Hatchette, 1914; Inter. Arts, London, 1916; & South African Bursary.
He did well at sports, and played in the 1st XV in 1915-16, with 1st Colours; his "Critique" in the School Magazine [December 1916, page 153] records that he was:
"An extremely good scrum half, lets the ball out well. His tackling, falling on the ball, and picking up the ball, have been very good. Has been handicapped by a sore leg, which has prevented him from kicking, Well deserved the colours."
He also played in the 1st XI, 1916; described [ditto, August 1916, page 127] as:
"Much handicapped by bad eyesight. Uses the strokes very well. A good catch and field in the slips."
Which last accolade would probably have been a little difficult for him to have achieved, I would have thought, with bad eyesight!
He was also awarded, on the votes of the Senior boys, with the Bayard Cup, 1916. I am not sure what this was for, but there were two others similarly awarded to 2 other boys (the "Blackheath Cup" and "Best Fielding," so probably sports oriented), and the Bayard & the Blackheath awards were both won by only very narrow margins over the elder of the two LIDDELL brothers, both of whom played in the 1st XI.
Eric was a Sergeant in the Cadet Corps; and he was Head Boy and Senior Prefect in 1915-16.
A very well-rounded achievement.

[Part of the 1st XI, 1916. Eric standing, with Eric LIDDELL seated. Image courtesy of Eltham College Archives.]

The younger of the two LIDDELL brothers was also named Eric - he was the famous English sprinter, later to be immortalised in the film "Chariots of Fire."

From Eltham, Eric went to University College, London, where he was studying in 1917, having passed the Inter. B.A. London in 1916 (as annotated on his admission record when he went back to Eltham in September 1921).


Eric saw action on the Western Front during the first World War. I find only very scant reference anywhere to his war service; however, a snippet from a search, which have a habit of being frustratingly incomplete, gives us a glimpse.

From "Mervyn PEAKE, Vast Alchemies: The Illustrated Biography" by G. Peter WINNINGTON [Peter Owen Publishers, 2009], at page 49:
"...The other teacher, Eric Sowerby DRAKE, was an Old Elthamian... On leaving school, he enlisted, fought, and been wounded on the eve of his nineteenth birthday..."
This was an up-dated and illustrated version of WINNINGTON's earlier edition published in 2000. (See further below in the section concerning Sark.)

WW1 British Army medal index cards, date range 1914-1920 (, record an Eric S. DRAKE as a Private in The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, Soldier Number 14154; and as a Private in the Middlesex Regiment, Soldier Number G/53862. Mentions are made of Campaign Medal and Silver War Medal index cards [WO 372/6]. It is not clear whether this entry was for 2 different Eric S. DRAKEs, with one of them being our Eric; and if so, which of the two might have been him.

Lloyd WADDY (a former pupil at T.K.S., whom Eric cast in one of his dramatic productions, he delivered the eulogy at Eric's funeral in 1988) mentioned that he was still in hospital when the Armistice was declared. Eleven months hospitalization would suggest that his wounds were not minor ones.

Malcolm YORKE, in his "Mervyn PEAKE: My Eyes Mint Gold: a Life," [Overlook Press, 2002], at page 38, wrote about the:
"...young brothers, Burgess and Eric DRAKE, both former pupils [of Eltham] and sons of Baptist Missionary parents serving in China. They had suffered in the trenches, read the latest psychological and pedagogical theories and were keen to blow fresh air and new ideas through the stuffy staff-room. Eric DRAKE (1898-1988) was a 'small moustachioed man'..."


Electoral Registers in England record Eric at 55 Hale Road, Hendon, Borough of Barrets, in 1920 and 1921, evidently residing with his siblings Henry Burgess and Florence DRAKE, at the family home.
He soon put all his energies back into his future career, continuing his studies at University College, London in 1919, where he gained his B.A. with 1st Class Honours in English (with French subsidiary) in July 1920; and a Teacher's Diploma during his post-graduate year at the London Day Training College, from September 1920 to July 1921.

Eric joined the teaching staff at his old school, Eltham College, on 16 September 1921, being assigned principal duties in the subject of English, "also Latin," and at a starting salary of £305 per annum.

[Eric in the whole-of-School photo, 1921, centre of picture. Image courtesy of Eltham College Archives.]

Peter WINNINGTON's biography of Mervyn PEAKE had originally been published in 2000, as "Vast Alchemies," and, at page 49, he wrote of Eric's second time at Eltham, with his brother Burgess, where:
" a breath of fresh air, 'they stirred the  imagination of staff and boys and threw some doubts on the alleged values of orthodox pedagogy' (The Glory of the Sons, p.200). They had adopted and adapted the 'playway' method of Caldwell COOK (the brilliant English teacher at the Perse School, Cambridge) which involved much creative writing, projects and individual assignments. DRAKE passed on to his pupils his great love of classical literature, English poetry - his nick-name was 'Shelley-belly' - and, above all, drama..."
As he was still doing nearly 40 to 50 years later.

His farewell tribute was published in the School Magazine, by an unidentified contributor, presumably the editor, under the heading of "E.S. - A SYMBOL," and from which I have abstracted a few salient points:
"His going is a wrench to our school life, not because he has become built into us by mere longevity of service - he has only been with us five years - but because he has become part of us by affinity and understanding. We liked him; he belonged to our world; he didn't try to run us into uncongenial moulds...
"We have a much clearer understanding now of our school's particular mission by seeing it exemplified in his personality... we shall remember him not so much for what he did as for what he was. It was his personality that captivated us.
"Our memories of him will be of someone who knew how to handle a rugger pill, how to shoulder a ruck-sack, how to smoke a pipe, how to express disapprobation, how not to play cricket... We shall remember his charming swagger as he strolled the playing fields, the flying of his coat-tails as he chased a kid across the quod (sic), the absurd way his gown would slip off his left shoulder, the way he tossed back his ruffled hair... his way was that of someone who found life delightful as well as purposeful, an adventure as well as a problem, with a challenge in it to keep young as well as to grow wise..."
", like a musical instrument, may be lightly handled in two ways: there is the light touch of the sentimentalist, and the light touch of the master musician. The first is soft and enchanting merely, but behind the second is a reserve of strength. We hope you take our parable. E.S. was no sentimentalist. He knew boys too well to subscribe to the spiritual-comet-theory; for him they most emphatically did not come 'trailing clouds of glory.' But he sympathised with them deeply enough to make it a chief part of his aim to lighten the 'shades of their prison house'! The virtue of his brightness and boyishness lay just in this, that they were based on solid attainments both in experience and scholarship..."
"He will go far, even if he doesn't go high. That is not a distinction without a difference. To go high presupposes a certain pedagogical inflation which is incompatible with our conception of E.S.; but to go far requires just that impetus and energy which was characteristic of all his work.
"We must not grudge him to Outer Darkness; rather we send him forth as our own particular apostle with the special mission to tread on the corns of a decorously inhuman pedantry. May he tread hard and with precision! May his boots not be rubber heeled!"

Fine praise - and even 40 years later, in another school on another continent, these observations of his character, even with the passing of the years, still rang true.

[The present-day Eltham College. Image courtesy of their official web-site.]

Eric's enrolment by the Teacher's Registration Council did not occur until 1 February 1927 (see, after he had left his first job at Eltham College, and perhaps to conform with official requirements for his future visit to the U.S. and Scholarship at Yale University. It recorded the following details:
Eric Sowerby DRAKE, 6 Pembroke Studios, Pembroke Gardens, W.S.
Attainments - B.A., 1st Class Hons, English, French subsidiary. University of London Teacher's Diploma.
Training in Teaching - London Day Training College, W.C.
Experience - War Service, 1917-1919. Assistant Master, Eltham College, S.E.9, 1921-26. Private Teaching, 1929-
Register Number 74174.


Eric arrived in New York on the ship Arabic from Southampton (departed on 17 September 1927), aged 28, single, British Citizen born at Chou Ping, China, on a Visa issued in London on 5 August 1927, his last permanent residence being Harrow, England.

Lloyd WADDY [1988] mentioned Eric's time in America, evidently having won a Commonwealth Fund Scholarship to the School of Drama at Yale University. WINNINGTON (2009, page 50), also noted that he was at Yale from 1927 to 1929.

Indeed, WINNINGTON (page 233, end-notes) records that Eric wrote to him in 1978, stating that it was while he was at Yale that he:
"...conceived the ambition of 'doing for the fine arts what Community Theatre had done for Drama in the USA'..."

WADDY further recorded that he was a cowboy in Wyoming - perhaps during his vacations, although it is just a little difficult to shape a mental image of that from my time with him, then in his 60's; and that he also spent time in New York, which was rather inevitable, I suspect.

But he also spent some time at Columbia University, which is, of course, in New York. His entry in the Staff lists at The King's School recorded his post-graduate work at Yale and Columbia. He was later "stung" into publishing an item in the King's School Magazine, in 1954, to mark the bicentenary of the founding of the King's College, which was closed for 8 years during the Revolutionary War of American Independence, reopening, sans the Royal Crown in its emblem, as Columbia University.
His first marriage took place in Norwich, Connecticut, on 17 October 1929, to Eloise Crowell SMITH.
Eloise was born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 8 December 1903, a daughter Leonard Owen SMITH and Jane CROWELL. They were all enumerated at Norwich, New London, Connecticut, in the 1920 Census.
Eric took his new wife to England, arriving in Liverpool on 28 October 1929 on the R.M.S. Laconia from New York. Their destination address was "Yaver," Mottingham Lane, London, S.E. - Eric was aged 30, Schoolmaster; Eloise was 25, a Student.

His old school magazine recorded in 1930 that he was in Germany, taking in, among other things, "sweet philosophy."

And it may have been about this period that he spent time in Fleet Street in Journalism, as also mentioned by Lloyd WADDY in 1988.

One record does exist of Eric's foray into literary criticism, in the form of his review of  the book "Plays for the Young; The School Drama in England," written from a modern American perspective by T.H. Vaile MOTTER, and published in New York in 1930.
Eric S. DRAKE's review of it appeared in The Saturday Review of Literature (an American weekly magazine that grew out of an earlier Saturday Supplement to the New York Evening Post), on 26 September 1931, at page 151. In it Eric observed that:
"There is a revival in Drama in English Schools, but it is not wrapt up with the individual School, often with the individual headmaster, as it was in the beginning... 
"Mr MOTTER seems to have missed the new orientation, which is based on a very different view of the child and of life from that of the traditional "public" school, and no less important to the audience. It makes such a vital appeal to the child's imagination that is looked on as somewhat uncanny and not quite respectable, and for that very reason is suspect even in Schools which pride themselves on their dramatic traditions. It is not a fulfilment of their traditions, but a disruption both of them and of the whole scholastic philosophy on which they are based."
MOTTRAM evidently bemoaned having had to endure a school performance he had seen with a "blushing youth" cast as Caliban. Eric snorted back:
"This plausible sneer does not alter the fact, though it may obscure it, that it has been demonstrated that boys of twelve and thirteen (i.e. in the maturity of boyhood, not in the monkey stage nor in the blushing adolescence) can act adult plays, and especially SHAKESPEARE, with an intensity and an abandon that are quite startling. To deny this is as sane as denying that boys of the same age can sing adult's songs and with anthems with a loveliness and penetration that are the despair of adults themselves."
The article is not accompanied by any notes identifying who this Eric S. DRAKE actually was, but I think there can be no doubt. This was our Eric the subversive. Our Eric the champion of the child's capacity to do great things when guided and encouraged. Here was a philosophy that Alain PHILLIPS would recognise another 30 to 40 years later.
And I see that Eric had a special category for some of his pupils (perhaps even myself in my junior forms under his tutelage - shock! horror!) - the "monkey stage"!

But whatever the details we do not have of his life at this time, it is clear that the next phase of his career, his engagement with the world of the fine arts, was about to begin in earnest.


Eric was involved in the establishment of an artists colony on Sark, one of the Channel Islands, and the building of a gallery there for exhibiting their work. This small colony of artists is said to have "...lived in holiday huts around a purpose built modernist gallery of pink and blue concrete" [see the Utopia Britannica web-site].

 [Eric & Lisel DRAKE's Art Gallery on Sark. Image courtesy of Peter WINNINGTON.]

Peter WINNINGTON [2009], at page 64, wrote that Gordon SMITH, otherwise known as Goatie:
"...heard from Eric Drake, who had returned from the United States and was announcing his intention of setting up an artists colony on Sark..."
And again, at page 76, he wrote that:
"...Eric DRAKE's ambition was to build on these antecedents and make Sark a famous centre for the arts. To do this, he had to gain the support of the Sarkese, who much resented the colonial attitude of English visitors and feared that his project would reduce the income they derived from serving morning and afternoon teas and hiring out boats. On the contrary, argued DRAKE, his gallery would draw a better class of tourist, and he invited all the islanders to join in the social activities (such as the evening dance-suppers that he planned) on an equal footing with the visitors and residents. That earned their approval, and he started planning. Ultimately DRAKE was so well accepted by the Sarkese that they initiated him into their lodge, the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.
"His negotiations with the islanders were still in progress when Mervyn and Goatie visited him in the summer of 1932..."

Electoral Registers record Eric Sowerby and Eloise Crowell Smith DRAKE at 10 St Loo Mansions, Flood Street, Chelsea, in 1932, suggesting he did his negotiations in Sark while still maintaining a residence in England.

The project was evidently not without some initial resistance, and ongoing complaints, from some of the local Sarkese, which may have had more than just a little to do with what Malcolm YORKE ["My Eyes Mint Gold," 2002], at page 61, wrote, indicating that for enticements, including:
"...pints of beer, some of the Sarkese could be persuaded to sit for artists, but only with their clothes on. It was on this idyllic but inaccessible speck of land that Eric DRAKE proposed to set up an artists colony and a modern art gallery."

Indeed, there are some reports of nudity among the artist group, and one of them, Eric's former pupil at Eltham and his "guest" on Sark, was known to have painted on occasions wearing not much more than a large gold ear-ring and a cape.
That was Mervyn PEAKE, another son of Missionary parents who was also born in China, and educated at Eltham College. At one time he lived above the gallery in a small studio at the top of a prominent circular staircase.

It is well known that artists colonies were established to afford artists some ease and comfort in their lifestyles in order to enhance their creativity. The more prudish members of society might have viewed some aspects of that lifestyle as "bohemian," even louche. I make no judgement on that, and observe that the 1930's were probably less "prudish" in general terms than any other decade prior to the 1960's. But I do note that years later, when Eric re-established his teaching career in one of the more conservative "Greater Public" Schools during the more prudish times in 1950's Australia (see further below), it appears that he did not take too many of his Common Room colleagues (if any at all) into his confidence about his Sark experience.

Eric later wrote of Mervyn PEAKE, as Francesca BELL recorded in her doctoral thesis "The Salvaged Image", May 2001 (University of Newcastle, Ourimbah), probably quoting from Eric's articles in Mervyn Peake Review ("Lost Archives" in issue 4, or Rented Room in issue 9), with an arresting analogy:
"What lies behind Mervyn is too big to be just a cult, or a protest, or what have you. It is the base of a surprising pyramid, a lotus with its roots in the primeval slime and its head in the sun."

Others artists in the Sark group were Eric's wife Lisel, Brenda STEATFEILD, Janice THOMPSON & Antony BRIDGE - their works were displayed at Sark, and several London Galleries, including the Redfern Gallery and the Cooling Gallery.

John BATCHELOR, in his "Mervyn PEAKE: a biographical and critical exploration" (Duckworth, 1974), at page 18, wrote:
"Mervyn PEAKE and Gordon SMITH went on a holiday together to Sark in the Channel Islands, in the summer of... 1932, and PEAKE's appetite for islands was further whetted by this visit. Eric DRAKE, who had taught PEAKE English at Eltham College, was living on Sark. His American wife, Lisel, had helped him to found an art gallery on the island, and he proposed to Mervyn and his friends Tony BRIDGE and Brenda STREETFIELD, that they should go to the gallery and work there during their summer vacations from the R.A. Schools..."

BATCHELOR observed further, at page 20, that:
"Eric and Lisel DRAKE provided the money for both the gallery and the artists, and the whole venture was really created and sustained by them. In reality, the students were their guests, but Eric DRAKE organised things so that they could feel they were independent..."

Eric and Lisel designed the gallery, and he incorporated some novel advances in natural lighting, from ideas he gained during his time at Yale, in particular the principles of stage lighting developed there by Stanley McCANDLESS. And Mervyn PEAKE helped to build it.
I'm not sure who chose the pink and blue colour scheme!
[Eric (although I would not have recognised him without Eric identifying himself) with signature pipe,
and his 1st wife Lisel (lower right corner), relaxing on Sark. 
The photo and caption appear in Peake Studies, Vol.1, No.1, Autumn 1988, at page 4.
Image courtesy of Peter WINNINGTON.]

The Gallery was officially opened in late August 1933, with many in attendance, including the Dame of Sark, who officiated.

An exhibition of the work of the Sark Group was held at the Cooling Galleries, in New Bond Street London, opening on Tuesday 8 May 1934. Several reports on the exhibition were carried in the English Press, including one in the Cornishman [Thursday 10 May], which did not identify the reporter, but stated that:
"The paintings are the work of the Sark Group, a colony of five artists who have, in the words of a London critic, 'stolen a march on the Royal Academy'... Miss Brenda STREETFEILD... Mr Borlase SMART of St Ives...
"Three of the colony are English, and two American. All are young people who are weary of what they declare to be the snobbery, inanity, and herding instinct of art coteries. Their pictures are powerful delineations of Sark characters executed with a total absence of pretense.
"Mr Eric DRAKE, a travelled Englishman, who has graduated at three universities and studied all the arts, is responsible for the movement. With the aid of his friends, who worked as builders and labourers, he built an art gallery, with studios above, out of a tumble-down fish-and-chip shop.
"Mervyn PEAKE, another member, was until a few years ago one of the most promising students at the Royal Academy Schools. Then, he ran away from civilisation to land at last in the Channel Islands, where he lived in a bar that leaked, worked in a potato fields at 8d an hour to earn enough to buy food, fished in the sea, washed his own clothes, and lived more or less like a modern Crusoe.
"Sark is three and a half miles long and one and a half miles wide. Its 500 inhabitants have no motor-cars, no electric light, no gas, no sewerage, and no cinema."

I have to say that I see very little resemblance between the above photo of the Gallery on Sark and a "tumble-down fish-and-chip shop"!

In a later edition of the same newspaper [20 September 1934], under the headline "The Sark Group," mention was also made of:
"...Mr Anthony BRIDGE, who is well known in Cornwall... Mervyn PEAKE's 'Houses and Trees'... some delightful landscapes of Majorca by Miss Lisel DRAKE..." 
This report also mentioned the founder of the colony:
"Mr Eric DRAKE, B.A., M.R.S.T., F.R.S.A., etc, a young man in the twenties who has lived in many countries, speaks several languages fluently, and has an amazing fund of scholarship."

Another paper, the Portsmouth Evening News [Sat 28 April 1934] had previewed the exhibition with this report, under the headline "Art of Sark"
"I suppose few people know that there is an art galley in Sark. But if you mention the Channel Islands to Mr Eric DRAKE, Director of the gallery, you will find him enthusiastic about it.
"He is so keen, in fact, that he has arranged an exhibition of some of the paintings at the Cooling Galleries...
"The idea of the group, I understand, is to encourage Island talent, no matter in what position the talented one may be. If a promising young artist can afford to pay for a room near the studio, they may do so, and thus be close to the artistic centre all the time. If he cannot, but still wants to paint, he can get credit, and do manual work, such as gardening, at ordinary Sark wages, in between his spells of artistic creation."

Electoral Registers later record Eric Sowerby and Eloise Crowell Smith DRAKE at 6 Pembroke Studios, Earl's Court Ward, Kensington, in 1933 and 1934. Perhaps they failed to advise the Electoral Office of the departure, or they may have kept a London address anyway.

Eric S. DRAKE sailed from Southampton on the ship Tanganyika, on 16 December 1933, bound for Laurenco Marques; his last address in the U.K. was Rembrandt Hotel, Thurloe Place, London S.W., he travelled on a 1st Class ticket, was aged 34, and was a "Proprietor and Director of Art Gallery"; his last permanent residence was "not in the British Empire," and he intended to live in Sark, Channel Islands. Travelling with him was Eloise C.S. DRAKE, aged 29.

Eloise was recorded in two subsequent passenger arrivals lists - both in Southampton, both in 1934, both indicating her residence was in Clos Roussel, Sark, Channel Islands - the first voyage on the Usaramo from Laurenco Marques, dated 13 March; the second on the  Albert Ballin from New York, arriving 29 November.

Lisel DRAKE's formal entry in the National Cyclopedia of American Biography (edited by George DERBY & James Terry WHITE, 1960), as Eloise SANEL, recorded that:
"In 1933, with Eric DRAKE, she founded and designed The Art Gallery, Sark, Channel Islands, which was operated until 1937..."


Eric's father died in June 1935 (see above), and he spent that summer in England, leaving Lisel and their manager in charge of the Gallery on Sark.
WINNINGTON [2009], at page 88, wrote that tensions had already arisen among the Sark group, and that while in England, Eric received a letter from Lisel:
" the effect that he was 'de trop...' He returned in the autumn, and she left."

Eric is said to have stayed on at Sark for a while, and may even have had to pay his taxes owing to the Dame of Sark in the form of his own labour, working on the roads, although he admits that he may have done so from the local pub.
The artist Eric had invited to Sark, Mervyn PEAKE may not have helped the cause either, particularly when he insisted on painting the scene as one of the Sarkese was laid out in preparation for burial, which evidently offended the said Dame. One can only hope that he was wearing just a little more than the gold ear-ring and the cape on that sombre occasion!

There are some suggestions that Eric was on Sark until just before the Germans took control. There are reports that the Gallery itself became a brothel under the German occupation. I find no evidence to support these assertions. But by 1946, it had become a shop.

Lisel sailed off into the sun-set. Whether she did so with the gallery manager Eric had left in charge is not clear, but that is a possibility. She spent several years sailing in the Mediterranean and cruising about Northern France ports, and finally headed for home. Well, it was Florida, actually. She was recorded in the Palm Beach Post of 21 September 1939, as the "...feminine skipper" of her small yacht Agwam, which she had been forced to put into dry dock for repairs; and as she was unable to spend the summer in Bahaman waters as she had planned, she decided instead to charter a schooner and sail to Havana for about 10 days. Eric is nowhere mentioned in the report.

Eric Sowerby DRAKE and Eloise C.S. DRAKE were formally divorced in Dade County, Florida, in 1941 [Cert No 1117; Vol.163].

Eloise was married secondly, at Clearwater, Florida, in July 1942 (this event may well have precipitated the 1941 divorce proceedings), to Sanel BEER; she died in Miami, Dade County, Florida, on 5 September 1978; she is recorded in the National Cyclopedia of American Biography as artist and author, with exhibitions or her paintings, in oils and watercolours, in many group shows, including one in the Redfern Gallery in London in 1937; and her first showing in America was in 1952, at the Eve TUCKER Galleries, Miami Beach, Florida.

At this stage, it is not clear what Eric did between the ending if the Sark experiment, sometime between 1935 and 1937, and the outbreak of another World War.


Lloyd WADDY [1988] recorded that Eric was in Farnborough by the start of the war.
Indeed, published R.A.F. Staff Lists for the Royal Aircraft Establishment at South Farnborough, Hampshire, for December 1939 and April 1940, both record E.S. DRAKE, B.A., as their Camouflage Officer.
This institution grew out of the former Royal Aircraft Factory of W.W.1, and during W.W.2 the staff, in both research and technical departments, were fully engaged in work on engine problems in R.A.F. aircraft. It was renamed the Royal Aerospace Establishment in 1988.

Eric served during the better part of the remainder of the second World War as an officer with the Camouflage Directorate, but exactly when he went to Leamington Spa with them is not yet clear.

[The Regent Hotel, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
Image courtesy of the web-site.]

Fergus DURRANT wrote a detailed account of the Directorate, its establishment, and its activities in Leamington Spa, which was published in the Winter 2008 edition of the magazine ArtSpace, at pages 29 to 32, and viewable on the website:
"The Civil Defence Camouflage Establishment, over 150 artists, film set designers, photographers and technicians, who had been recruited and shipped to Leamington to join local carpenters, tradesmen and secretaries... had been given the job of camouflaging Category 'A' factories and infrastructure vital to the war effort. They had also been given the job of Naval camouflage as well...
"In the months up to the start of the war in September 1939, the Camouflage Advisory Panel had already met several times... The Camouflage Panel, based at Whitehall, oversaw camouflage work all over the country... Leamington was not the only unit...
"By September 1939, the research section was already in Leamington, based in "The Gable," a large Victorian manor in its own grounds... just outside Leamington on the Kenilworth Road. It was here that the serious scientific work was done...
"By November 1939 the Unit had commandeered the Leamington Art Gallery and Museum, along with the Regent Hotel, and the roller skating rink in the colonnade that had been the home to Leamington's circus, now the site of the Loft Theatre."

The Directorate had its Control Offices in the Regent Hotel, and comprised two wings, the Naval unit, which worked in the town's Art Gallery and Museum on camouflaging warships at sea, and the Civilian or Factory unit, which occupied large premises at the Rink. There, a force totalling up to 250 was assembled, and worked in secret on aspects of military and civilian camouflage - there they made large mock-ups of buildings & military installations to test their proposed methods, as described by WINNINGTON [2009, page 276], for:
"...making factories look like fields, and fields like factories."

The original heads of staff at Leamington were Captain Lancelot M. GLASSON, M.C., the Chief Camouflage Officer; Christopher IRONSIDE was in charge of the Unit's work at the Rink; and Commander YUNGE-BATEMAN had charge of the Naval Section at the Gallery.

DURRANT also gave some detail of the operations of the Directorate:
"The work at the Rink involved factory camouflage. The unit had been given a Tiger Moth two-seater which was flown by a republican pilot from the Spanish Civil war...
"Once the sketches and photographs were back at the Rink, they would be converted into 3D model done to scale, and made so it could be viewed from around 6,000 feet. It would be placed on a large turntable and viewed in different light conditions that mimicked day/night and the angle of the sun in different seasons. Viewing platforms allowed the onlooker to have a bird's eye view or oblique view, and soon into the war they had bomb sights from downed German bombers fitted to the viewing platforms so that they could simulate the bomb aimers viewpoint. Virginia IRONSIDE... said of the Rink that it 'had been converted into a giant studio' where 'artists slaved over enormous turntables on which they had constructed models of factories and aerodromes, lit by ever moving moons and suns attached to wires'...
"In the Art Gallery, a shallow tank was constructed, and using Jane's Fighting Ship reference book, the carpenters made exact scale models of naval ships. Then with a giant spot-light imitating the sun, and small fans to ripple the water, they placed the ships into different backdrops and environments - North Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, etc... they constructed a haze machine that imitated atmospheric conditions at sea over long distances...
"The unit toiled away for most of the war, but after 1942, when German raids on Britain became less intense, the priority for factory camouflage was not so urgent."

There is an interesting abstract from an untitled book, displayed on the web-site in a post by "fjhuangjun" dated 25 March 2010, under the title of "Chapter 22. Leamington Spa."
It contains some interesting personal observations, made by a woman who is identified on another web-site ( as (Mrs) Felicity FISHER, formerly SUTTON (and a daughter of artist Peggy SUTTON):
"In May 1941 I went to Leamington Spa to take up the job of Junior Technical Assistant in the Department of Camouflage... I was to present myself at the Headquarters which were in the Regent Hotel... On Monday, I turned up at the Naval Section which was stationed in the town Art Gallery, a cruciform building with good lighting from above the glass ceiling. Commander BATEMAN was my boss... Senior Technical Assistant Helen RAE... in the Camouflage studios.
"It was, looking back quite calmly, a very odd set up in both sections of the Camouflage Directorate. Here were gathered about 80 artisans and craftsmen who, for some reason or another, were physically unfit or past calling-up age to be in the Forces fighting for our survival an Land, Sea and in the Air. They were  a kaleidoscopic collection of all different shapes and sizes and ages. Many of them had spouses, either with them or left behind at home somewhere in England. The curious thing that occurred, during the four years that I was there, was the extraordinary re-arrangements of these married couples...
"There were some outstanding personalities...
After detailing some of the "re-arrangements" among the married couples that she had observed, Felicity noted that:
"Janna, who was happily living with Mr BRUCE - who was in another part of the country - finally moved in with Eric DRAKE..."
Well, Miss SUTTON got the bit about Mr BRUCE wrong, as BRUCE was, of course, Janna's maiden surname. And her imagination might have been a little creative - that Eric & Janna took separate lodgings later in London (see below), before they were married, suggests that it is just possible that what she saw was Janna simply moving into digs under the same roof as Eric, perhaps in adjacent rooms, all under the watchful eye of a prying Landlady.

But Felicity did provide some details of how her branch, the Naval unit, operated, as well as, I now see, clandestinely identifying herself, as "that Miss SUTTON":
"A tank of water took the place of the raging seas and various 'weathers' and times of day or night could be switched on by 'that Miss SUTTON' and the vessels conned through binoculars from a black box in the centre of the gallery The effect of reality was astounding. Weather conditions were simulated with dimmed light and a fan (Mountbatten Pink, or Maiden's Blush, was found to be as effective as any camouflage in Northern waters).
"Victorine and I made exact machine drawings from 'Jane's fighting Ships' of plans and elevations of battleships... These were printed. Then we copied onto these prints exact replicas of camouflage designs from the models painted by the Officers. These plans and elevations were sent to the Dockyards with correct colour cards by special courier, Seamen were slung over the ship's sides and painting began."

[Naval Research Laboratory, Leamington Spa. Image courtesy of the web-site.]

And there was gossip, including the mention of a woman named Bettina, a former model and dancer, who was married to another Eric in the Directorate (the sculptor Eric SCHILSKY); Felicity described Bettina as being, "...plainly, a little neurotic," recording that:
" terrible morning, when Victorine and I were taking our jackets off in the cloakroom, Janna BRUCE, physically rather a bruiser with 'blonde' hair and an abrupt manner, burst into the place saying 'I 'm sorry to have to tell you that Bettina died last night.' Poor darling, she had gassed herself..."
This tragedy resulted in the unavoidable involvement of the local Police and a Coronial enquiry.
Felicity's close friend & drawing colleague, Victorine FOOT, would later marry Bettina's widower, the other Eric, the sculptor. Just for the record.

In April 2008, an item appeared in a Leamington Spa newspaper, concerning a Heritage Lottery grant which a local Community theatre group and the local Artists Studio planned to use to:
"...celebrate the work of the Civilian Camouflage Directorate...
"Surveying factories and installations from the ground and air, the unit created models and designs that could be viewed in all weather and light conditions. The men and women used a large turntable with viewing platforms and giant water tanks constructed in the building that is now the old art gallery and museum in York Road."
The plan was to recreate the turntable, the blue-prints of which had evidently survived. Fergus DURRANT (see above) was evidently part of one of these groups.

The article also mentioned that several big names in the art world in Britain had worked at the Directorate there during the war, including Christopher IRONSIDE (who designed Britain's decimal coinage) and Wilfred SHINGLETON (who won an Oscar in 1946 for his work on Great Expectations). So too did Robin DARWIN, a grandson of the great Charles of "Natural Selection" fame.
Further names can be added to this list, from a Press Quote on the web-site, taken from Virginia IRONSIDE's book "Janey and Me: Growing up with my Mother" (Virginia was Christopher's daughter), as follows:
"...the Camouflage Unit teemed with men who would become huge artistic cheeses in the years after the war. They were the painter Tom MONNINGTON and the architect Hugh CASSON (both future presidents of the Royal Academy); Richard GUYATT, the graphic designer (future rector [sic] of the Royal College of Art); Eric SCHILSKY, the sculptor; and Edward WADSWORTH..."
These two separate listings may represent the two divisions of the Directorate.

Eric was already recorded in his mother's probate grant in December 1939 as a camouflage Officer, so he had evidently joined up early on.
We know that Eric's future second wife Janna BRUCE also worked for a Camouflage Unit during the war. I had wondered if they may have already met through fine art circles, but WINNINGTON records that they met while working for the Camouflage Directorate - although the marriage did not take place until October 1946, several years after Eric had left for his second stint in China, and immediately before he went out again, for the last time.
And Lloyd WADDY [1988] mentions that it was while:
"...hanging out of a bomb-bay in a less than serviceable bomber, checking the success or otherwise of the camouflage, that Eric looked up and met Janna BRUCE."

Lloyd WADDY also gives us an interesting insight into Eric's relationship with Janna at about this time, after they left Leamington. They apparently went their separate ways to rent rooms, only to find they were both quite close to each other's, in the same building in Blackheath, which just happened to have been the old School for the Sons of Missionaries, and where Eric had lived as a schoolboy from 1905 until 1912. While Eric was in China, a German bomber missed his target, and demolished part of the building's roof, but not injuring Janna, not then yet married to Eric.

It appears likely that Eric served with them until the latter part of 1944, when the Directorate facilities at Leamington, presumably having served their purpose, were closed down.


There is another snippet from a search, this time from "The Sowerby Saga; being a brief account of the origins and genealogy of the Sowerby Family of..." by Arthur de Carle SOWERBY, 1952, at page 62, where we find that one of Eric's brothers was in:
"... Nationalist China, holding out against Japan. Later he opened a post in Hsian-Fu (sic), capital of Shensi Province, and one of the ancient capitals of China, and did most of his work from there - - right under the Japanese guns, so to speak. He was joined there by Eric Sowerby DRAKE, his younger brother and the youngest member of the family, who had been sent out, after serving most of the war with the Camouflage people. That was in 1945, when he held the rank of Captain..."

I am unable to determine, from the truncation caused by the snippet nature of it, whether this last statement referred to Eric, or to his older brother.
But the identity of the brother is established by WINNINGTON [2009], in an end-note on page 276, who wrote that:
"When the centre at Leamington closed in 1944, DRAKE was called out to China by his brother Burgess in the intelligence Service, spying on the Japanese."
And, as it appears that Burgess by then held the Army rank of Major, it follows that Eric himself was therefore probably the Captain.


Eric's 2nd wife was born Alice Joyce BRUCE, at Chatswood, Sydney, on 26 March 1909, the daughter of Alexander BRUCE, a Wool-buyer, and Alice DAVENPORT. She was on the Electoral Roll for 1935, living with her parents at Pibrac, Pibrac Avenue, Warrawee, the house in which she and Eric would eventually reside from 1950 until their deaths.
She signed her artworks as Janna BRUCE. She had studied at Datillo RUBBO's art school in Sydney, and from 1936 to 1938 at the Westminster Art School in London; she also studied at the Academie Ranson in Paris.

[A painting excursion in the bush in the 1930's. Janna BRUCE with Datillo RUBBO.
Image courtesy of the web-site.]

Janna had been in England since 1936, and their marriage took place in London in October of 1946, and registered at Chelsea, December quarter [Volume 5c, page 621].

She travelled to Sydney very soon afterwards, evidently on her own, and her arrival was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on Fri 3 January 1947, as follows:
"An Australian who returned from the U.K. in the Otranto, Mrs J. Sowerby-DRAKE, formerly Miss Jana BRUCE of Wahroonga, has been art student, camouflage expert and film producer during 10 years abroad in Europe and England.
"During the War, Mrs Sowerby-DRAKE took a job with a camouflage unit. Later she was given direction of a film unit and made responsible for production, from scripts to editing, of documentary and educational films for the Army. Mrs Sowerby-DRAKE is en route to China to join her husband, who has been appointed adviser in English studies to the British Consulate in Nanking."


Eric sailed from Liverpool on 9 December 1946 on the Empress of Scotland bound for Shanghai. He was aged 47, his last address in the U.K. was 18A Alderbrook Road, London S.W. 2, he was employed as a British Council Officer, and he stated that he intended to settle permanently in China.

Again, not much detail has come to hand about Eric's third and last visit to China. From the previous and the next newspaper reports, it is evident that he went out initially either as an adviser in English Studies to the British Consulate in Nanking, or as an educational officer for the British Council in China, or perhaps they amounted to the much same thing.

[Eric's "vintage timber travel trunk" - depicted as Lot 179 on the web-site, with stencilled label "E. Sowerby Drake, British Council, c/o British Embassy, Nanking," and with a number of painted Chinese characters and remnants of several voyage labels.]

He does appear, at a later time, to have been appointed to an academic post at Amoy University, Nanking, as Professor of English. Amoy is now known by the name Xiamen.

He was further described, by e-mail from the Archivist at T.K.S. (probably repeating information recorded in his eulogy), as having been:
" Intelligence Officer 1944-46 in China and Government Adviser in English Studies in the Chiang Kai-Shek Nationalist Administration and Education officer with the British Council in China 1946-49."

His arrival in Sydney, with his second wife Janna, was reported in the daily newspaper, the Sunday Herald (Sydney) on 7 August 1949:
"Chinese Communists and Nationalists had a battle over their heads one night when Professor & Mrs E. DRAKE were journeying down the Yangtze River during their evacuation from Nankin to Shanghai in H.M.S. Black Swan, which was involved in the Amethyst Incident.
"The destroyer was moored during the night, and eventually Mrs DRAKE, who, with her husband arrived in Sydney yesterday in the Shansi, said she became bored with it all and went to sleep.
"Professor Sowerby DRAKE was professor of English at Amoy University, and his wife, formerly Miss Janna BRUCE, is a well known Sydney artist. When her husband was educational officer for the British Council in China, she travelled with him all over the country, sketching as she went."

Once again, 49 years after his first scrape with danger, Eric yet again had found himself  forced to make his way down a Chinese river to safety on the coast, and a passage by sea, this time to the Antipodes.

H.M.S. Amethyst, under orders to replace H.M.S. Consort on guard duty at the British embassy in Nanking, had sailed up the Yangtze River from Shanghai on 20 April 1949, and was fired upon by Peoples Liberation Army forces near Tiangyin, suffering casualties and damage as she returned fire; support from upstream by the Consort, and from downstream by H.M.S. Black Swan, was unsuccessful, and for 10 weeks, P.L.A. forces kept the Amethyst under guard near Fu Te Wei; she made another run for it on the night of 30 Jul, following a passenger ship which absorbed the P.L.A. fire and was sunk with many civilian casualties, and made her rendezvous with Consort near Baoshan at 5.25 a.m. on 31 Jul; and passing the P.L.A. forts there without being sighted, they were out of harm's way by 7.00 a.m., and had cleared the river mouth by noon; they then sailed for Hong Kong. This became known as the Amethyst Incident, or Yangtze Incident, referred to above.


Eric and Janna moved into her old family home in Pibrac Avenue, Warrawee, sometime after their arrival in Sydney.

In August 1949, Eric was cited by the Worker, Brisbane, under an article headlined "Coms Won't Hold China, Says Editor" as follows:
"A British educationist, Mr Sowerby DRAKE, a professor at Amoy University, China, said that the Communist authorities were re-organising every university of which they had gained control. 'They are concentrating on Medicine, Law, Commerce, Economic and Sociology faculties,' he said. 'These subjects are usually taught in English, and that practise is being reorganised. They are advertising for students to do a months course in what amounts to indoctrination in Communist principles.' Mr DRAKE said that he was familiar with the Yangtze River, and he considers the escape of the Amethyst down the river was 'nothing short of a miracle'."
It is, of course, no real surprise that an Englishman who had advised the Anglo-sympathetic Nationalists under Chiang Kai Shek on educational matters, and had held an academic post there under that regime, should see the understandable "reorganisation" - or de-colonialisation - of tertiary education by the ensuing Communist regime as indoctrination. But it is interesting the Eric was being reported saying that, and in a presumably leftist Worker's newspaper.
I could find no further reference to indicate whether Eric was the Editor in the headline.

Eric revived his teaching career in 1951, joining the non-residential staff of The King's School in Parramatta, as an Assistant Master in the English Department. The Head Master was fellow Englishman Herbert Denys HAKE, but there is no indication, or even suggestion, that the two knew each other before Eric arrived at King's.
But he fitted well into HAKE's plan for the school, as Michael de B. PERSSE's biography of HAKE, published in the Australian Dictionary of Biography [Vol. 14, 1966], makes clear:
"World War II delayed reform, as did the conservative staff appointed by PARKINSON's successor, E.M. BAKER. After 1946, HAKE chose younger men, some from England, who brought a more moderate style without rejecting the 'healthy hardness' seen as the school's chief characteristic. Helped and encouraged by [his wife] Elizabeth, he fostered music, drama and art..."

I imagine that HAKE, had he seen Eric's credentials written up in an application, may well have decided, sight unseen, that this was his new man for English and Drama. But WADDY (1988) records a somewhat different story:
"Janna asked the rector's wife to arrange an interview for a position as a master at The King's School, Parramatta. While she sat in the park, Denys HAKE appointed Eric to the staff. It was a momentous appointment for the school, and a happy one for Eric."

Eric's temporary appointment was made permanent in 1952.

It was customary for Masters at King's to coach at least one sporting team, but there is no indication in School Magazine records that he coached anything more serious than the Debating Team.
Masters often found themselves involved with one or other of the Boys Houses, and it does appear that Eric may have been an Assistant to the House Master of Macquarie House Senior, a House for Day-boys (non boarders).

His involvement with the Debating Society began almost as soon as he arrived, when he was invited to take on the responsibilities of Master-in-charge of the Society at the first meeting of the year, held on 5 April 1951 - to which request he agreed. His arrival in the Society coincided with a substantial increase in interest and membership, and it is evident that the two events were not unrelated. He made a regular habit of staying back at School on Wednesday nights to attend their meetings, and offer guidance - not all non-residential masters were so keen to do that.

[Master in charge of the Debating Team, 1951. The King's School Magazine, September 1951, page 43. 
Image courtesy of the King's School Archives.]

Eric quickly turned his attention to another aspect of school life, or created a greater impetus for it - he produced the Macquarie Senior House contribution to the Dramatic Evening held in the School Dining Hall:
"...towards the end of last term."
A Tragedy by James BRIDIE, entitled "The Pardoner's Trail," with a cast of 4 characters, was:
" good that a second performance was staged the following evening. Congratulations to Mr DRAKE for a fine production" [School Magazine, December 1951, page 11].
The date of the Evening was not recorded, but I expect that it probably took place in Term 2, & not too close to final exams.

The success set the stage for the future - in May 1952, the report of the Dramatic Society (School Magazine, page 47) included the news that:
"Mr E.S. DRAKE has been appointed to take control of all Dramatic work throughout the School."
The report added that:
"His wide knowledge of the wonders of Dramatic Art and his study of the subject in England and America abundantly equipped him for his work, and his own enthusiasm is unbounded."
An earlier report in the same Magazine (page 29) had observed that:
"...the School timetable has been re-arranged so that Wednesday afternoon can be devoted to a wider range of activities. These include... Drama, and other forms of artistic expression."
It would surprise me if Eric DRAKE had not contributed towards this decision.

And in December 1952, the School Magazine (page 12) reported that:
"Mr DRAKE and the Dramatic Society presented a full production of 'Antigone' to a highly appreciative audience in the School Library on August 18th."
In that year, he also delivered to a meeting of the Dramatic Society (page 35):
" extremely interesting address on the history of Theatre, illuminated by Epidiascope enlargements..." and they thanked him for "...his interest and enthusiasm..." and "...for the loan of some valuable lighting equipment which he has purchased for us."

In 1953 it was a Shakespeare, the Scottish play, cast from members of the Dramatic Society, and directed by Eric.
Fortunately, the program of improvements to the Dining Room stage was completed in time for this production, including the installation of curtains, a cyclorama, and a demountable stage extension. Again, it would surprise me if Eric DRAKE did not play a significant part in getting these improvements placed on the School's agenda.

And in 1954, "The River Line" by Charles MORGAN, was also staged in the Dining Hall. This one drew praise from the Headmaster, H. Denys HAKE, in his Annual report to the School on Speech Day [and published in the School Magazine of May 1955]:
"Those who were present at the presentation of "The River Line" in the Dining Hall or "The Mikado" at the Town Hall must have realised the great influence that Mr DRAKE and Mr [Cedric] ASHTON have already exerted on our Dramatics and Music. Both performances were of an excellent standard. Dramatics and Music are coming more and more to take their rightful places in the general life of the school."
And that was in a School with a very long tradition of sporting excellence and with a very strong Military Cadet culture. Very well done indeed, Messieurs DRAKE and ASHTON!

In 1955 he produced "The Lady is Not for Burning" by Christopher FRY. Then in May 1956, it was ANOUILH's "The Lark" translated by FRY, as well as Eugene O'NEILL's "Where the Cross is Made" (featuring a young Bruce BERESFORD as one of the ghosts of departed seamen).
And in 1957, he produced COCTEAU's "The Eagle Has Two Heads" (in which his eulogist, a young Lloyd WADDY, played the part of the Chief of Police).

Perhaps his most successful venture came in 1958, when he produced an acclaimed version of the Three Theban Tragedies of Sophocles, with Eric furnishing his own translation of the original. The Headmaster heaped even higher praise upon it in his Speech Day Report:
"Perhaps the most outstanding single event in the school year was the production of the Theban plays of Sophocles in April. The inspiration was entirely E. Sowerby DRAKE's. It was he who conceived the idea of producing the three plays as one play - a thing which has never been attempted before, as far as I know. He then sat down with Mr [Godfrey] TANNER's assistance to translate the plays into language which all could understand and appreciate - in itself a masterly performance. The whole production was executed by him to the minutest detail. It was a great feat of co-operative effort on the part of Masters, several wives of Masters, parents and boys, and an Old Boy who arranged the music - some 80 or so in number. Mr EVANS and a number of boys constructed the stage settings, Mr [Eric] JABOUR and another party painted all the scenery, Mr [Brian] DOWNEY supervised the lighting crew, and Mr TANNER helped Mr DRAKE to co-ordinate the production."

But it does look like he may have overstretched himself.
His earlier management of the Debating Society, almost from the day of his arrival at King's, he was to relinquish after five years, citing his other increasing work commitments, being succeeded as Master in charge in 1956 by Mr HORNE.
Then it was the Dramatic Society's turn. The May 1959 School Magazine identified the cause, and made the following brief report:
"There will be no school play this year owing to the strain on Mr DRAKE's health. It is hoped that this will not be the case in future years."
Later in 1959, the recently arrived Classics Master, Adrian KENT, was already Master in charge of the Dramatic Society.

However, Eric didn't entirely retire from the world of  T.K.S. theatricals - in programme notes to two of Cedric ASHTON's productions of GILBERT and SULLIVAN's Operettas, he is credited with Lighting - "Ruddigore" (1958), and "Pirates of Penzance" (1959).
A later production of "Ruddigore" in 1964 was the last Cedric ASHTON G.& S. production at King's. I played a minor role as one of the ancestral portraits that "came to life" in order to harangue & harass the main character, and this effect does require a particular skill in lighting transformations through painted gauzes before it can become an éclat. It wasn't quite camouflage, but it got close!
And his wife Janna is recorded in several school magazines as having provided expertise in the Make-up Department. As she had to pick him up at the end of the night to ferry him back to Warrawee, it makes sense that she was there for the performance as well, and making herself useful.

Eric was the Senior English Master when I arrived at T.K.S. in 1961. He had charge of the "A" class, and took us from the Removes through to the Sixth form - there was no 2nd form, this being the quaint way that T.K.S. then handled a five year curriculum under the old English Greater Public School form-naming tradition. The "difficulty" was resolved, and the Remove grade abolished, when the year following mine commenced, at the brand new school, as the very first 1st Form, under the elongated 6 year secondary scheme named for the Education Minister, WYNDHAM, who had introduced it.

Eric was one of the diminishing number of old hands who continued on when the school moved to new premises up on Pennant Hills Road, beside the old BURNS family mansion "Gowan Brae", on property most recently owned by the Presbyterian Church.
This move was a culmination of many years planning, in particular by H. Denys HAKE, from the time of his arrival at the School in 1939.
It began with the occupation of the recently completed phase one, with classes in the first term of 1962, and did not end until all the new boarding houses were constructed, and the last of the old "outlying" boarding houses had been closed. I think that was well after I had left at the end of 1965.
They were disruptive times, with boys being bussed to and from the old boarding houses until their new ones were built. But for Eric's wife Janna, being a little closer now to Warrawee, it meant that her daily chauffeuring of the unlicensed Eric probably took up a little less of her dedicated time.

On his arrival in 1951, Eric was listed as the 20th Assistant Master in order of seniority.
By 1961, he had "seen off" a number of his more senior Colleagues from the Masters Common Room - E.M. FISHER in 1953; J.S.B. DOAK and E.A.W. LOGAN in 1955; G.F. AUSTIN and M. SEARLE in 1956; A.I.M. FRASER & E.H. BOYD in 1957; E.G. "Axe" DORSCH, G.V. "Coddy" CARDINAL and J.P. PRINCE in 1960; & F.C. "Fanny" HANCOCK in 1961. Two more left after the school moved - R.G. EDYVEAN in 1962; & W.G. COX in 1963, and there was some movement among staff who had joined after Eric, who was by now 7th in seniority. There is no record of what he thought of them, nor they of him.

And like those of us who were still there in December 1964, Eric joined in farewelling the great Headmaster of the now "previous era," H. Denys HAKE - although he did not join us boys as we hauled H.D.H. from Pennant Hills Road to Futter Hall by two tug-o'-war ropes tied the front bumper-bar of his large American sedan - and yes, alright, it WAS down-hill to start with!
Alas, no more to reverently stand to attention as H.D.H. passed, on his dignified progress around the school, slowed by his built-up shoe & calliper, evidence, I gather, of a war-time injury with the 2/7th Bn, Hampshire Regiment, in India or Mesopotamia. But his is an entirely different story, for another to tell. I cannot now remember whether the staff were like-wise expected to pause during his passing, or whether they may just have done so out of respect.

Eric retired from teaching at the end of 1971.
His departure was noted in the December issue of the Magazine for that year, at pages 10-12, having been almost "eclipsed" by another departure, that of the master of the Book-room (as I remember him, threatening to hit me with his ruler-booler if I didn't stop picking things up that weren't mine), old Robbo ROBERTSON.
A former pupil-turned-colleague, Jonathan PERSSE, commented on Eric's ability to captivate boys in his classes:
" having a deep and genuine enthusiasm and delight in man and his achievements in their rich diversity; by his ability to see the heart of a matter, and yet at the same time comprehend the significance of even the smallest detail; by being able to communicate something interesting and worthwhile, either directly, or through story and analogy (and what wonderful stories they were - narrative, yes, but so much more than that, an inspiration and a delight in themselves); by being himself; by treating other people as sensitive and perceptive persons."
Another Common Room colleague, Alain PHILLIPS (Senior French Master), wrote of his being:
" of the most distinguished minds in Australia... a true educator... with a profoundly worked out educational philosophy... an inspiring teacher..."
And as man who:
 "...sees so clearly the importance of the inter-relatedness of things, and that education should be a humble quest for a glimpse of that truth... the wise man of the Common Room."
Alain (we knew him slightly less than affectionately as "Pinky" PHILLIPS) mentioned Eric's extra-curricular activities, including teaching both German and Chinese lessons after normal school hours; inevitably his work in Drama; and his profound interest in music.
And a former colleague and dramatic collaborator, Godfrey TANNER, who was by then Professor of Classics at Newcastle University, noted Eric's:
"...enthusiasm for Greek Tragedy and a producer of Drama with rare courage and imagination..."
Godfrey also mentioned the two page photo spread of the Theban Plays which was published in the London Illustrated Gazette, under the title of "Sophocles Down Under," which had almost upstaged the six page spread on General de GAULLE's appointment as Premier of the French Republic! TANNER rightly considered that this was no mean achievement!
Although the other Eric (JABOUR, the Art Master) may have been responsible for the photographic appeal of the production to the London Press, TANNER observed that it was Eric DRAKE's "stubborn commitment" that got it to the stage, and that that achievement "...did much to change the tone and direction of the school."
He further recognised "...his wide range and adventurous intellect..." and added that he had "...a most human insight into the needs of the men and boys who worked with him, and a person to appreciate and encourage their efforts."

In 1980, Jonathan PERSSE, who had been a school-boy member of Eric's earliest Debating Team, and subsequently joined the staff at King's, gathered a number of Eric's poems that had appeared in the School Magazine over the years, and had them published in a limited edition of a rather slender volume, under the title of "Fact, Faith and Fantasy: poems contributed to the King's School Magazine by Eric Sowerby DRAKE, 1951-1975."
This work included three memorials to deceased colleagues, including John GRICE (Chemistry - and he materially assisted Eric with the Drama presentations), Adrian KENT (Latin & the Classics), and, of course, Herbert Denys HAKE.
A copy is among holdings of the State Library of New South Wales.

[Eric and his 2nd wife Janna in 1980, on the launch of his book of poetry, prepared for the publisher 
by Jonathan PERSSE, centre rear. The photo was taken by Lloyd WADDY.
Image courtesy of the King's School Archives.]

Eric died on 11 June 1988, in his 90th year.

Lloyd WADDY delivered an impressive eulogy at the funeral service, which I was able to attend. Some information from it has already appeared in this tribute. There is a copy of it in the School Museum.
He began:
"... E.S.D. - To those that had the privilege of knowing him, those... initials conjure up memories of the fondest kind that echo through the recesses of the soul...
"As he lived in such unobtrusive personal humility, so undemanding for his bodily wants, so sparingly of spending anything on himself, so he has slipped away after a year of considerable suffering, his spirit courageous and sparkling to the end. And so we are left to mourn our loss awhile, and yet to rejoice in the sunshine of his effervescent love - of life, of knowledge, of wisdom - and to treasure his great vision of all things, in comity or order - his great legacy to those of us privileged to have known him..."
WADDY said further:
"In my History of the King's School in 1981, I described him as '...bestriding the Common Room like a Colossus.' I do not wish to alter that, nor the further assessment I made then: 'He has the perfect humility of the great scholar, the loving master; a man at peace through his knowledge, intellect and emotional balance.
"But Eric had two further great qualities.
"He was generous of himself to an uncommon degree. To his pupils he said: 'I shall look upon your successes as if, in some small way, they are mine own.'
"The second... was the way he lived his daily life. The only accolade which he may not have heard was in fact the highest those in the world can bestow. After a devoted marriage of almost half a century, through which Janna looked after him in every way, especially this last traumatic and painful year, it is clear Eric's genius went into his life when she could say, as she did, 'Truly, I have lived with a Saint'."

From a Funeral notice in the S.M.H., 14 June 1988, we learn that Eric's funeral service, on the following day (a Wednesday) at St James's Anglican Church, King Street, Turramurra, was appointed to be "...followed by a private cremation."
I do not know whether his last resting place is an identified niche, or he was, after being turned to ashes, and as the Crematorium subtle-speak goes, scattered.

His widow Janna joined him among the ranks of the dead on 11 October 2000. She was aged 91 years.


When I returned from my trip to England in early 1975, I collected my posted travel diary notes from my parent's house, including the "poem" I had written. My father knew Eric well, having served his second term on the staff of the The King's School, for about the same period of time; he suggested I send Eric a copy of "Drake's England."
I thought father had gone slightly mad.
But then, and probably against my better judgement, suspecting Eric either would not remember me, or if he did, it would have been as that insufferable boy who could not deliver any of his allotted five minute lectures-to-the-class exercises in public-speaking, I did find his address, and I did send it to him.

Eric replied, with a very generous acknowledgement that he thought that I had "the real thing," and expressed the view that "...we need your generation to speak up in this new world of the visual clichés of television and the aural clichés of pop-music - but of course not by way of imitation nor of academicism, but as you have demonstrated" -  and he enjoined me to "...set the Nine Muses dancing."
I greatly treasure his reply, feeling it wash away some of the embarrassment I had felt at my failures in "public speaking" in front of him and the class.
He did not pretend that it wasn't "...pleasant to have such appreciation - making one feel he hasn't entirely wasted his life. But setting aside personal feelings, which I have relegated to a poem (if it is a poem)..." he continued, and enclosed the following:

No, not a case of flattery indeed;
It is a penny too well spent ---
No argument.
Nor does it answer to some innate greed
For approbation (lacking from one's peers)
To dry such tears.
It is a deep content
To hear old chords rejuvenate and seed
An unguessed descant on the empty air
Asserting all that had been meant
Beyond compulsion just to sit and stare.
May, 1978                                          E.S.D.

I will close this tribute with a fragment of one of my old term reports, and a rather typical observation, initialled by E.S.D. - perhaps a little less than "poignant" for what was my last report - for Form VI A., Term III, December 1965.

As far as I am aware, Eric had no children of his own.
But he had lots of boys. I estimate perhaps 75 or so at Eltham, and another 400 to 450 in his classes at T.K.S., at a very rough guess.
The Eltham boys are probably all now gone, or close to 100 if still living.
The Parramatta crowd are probably mostly still hanging around, aged from their mid 50s to their early 80's. Many of them no doubt still have fond memories of him.


I am indebted to the following, for their thoughtful and cheerful assistance:
Jenny PEARCE, Archivist at The King's School Museum, near the Masters Common Room.
Mark STICKINGS, Archivist at Eltham College, Grove Park Road, London.
Peter WINNINGTON, author of "Mervyn Peake; Vast Alchemies."
Lloyd WADDY, for the use of his eulogy, and his warm support for this project.
Jonathan PERSSE, for collecting and re-publishing Eric's poetry.
I am also grateful to The State Library of New South Wales, Macquarie Street, Sydney, for the use of their institutional subscriptions to the regular family history resources and digitalised newspapers, and the use of their computer facilities in publishing this tribute.


Madonna KING, in her article, "Teachers inspire young minds to aim high," published in the Courier Mail on 12 Feb 2011, wrote:
"...Film director Bruce BERESFORD had a similar experience. He had read little except Biggles books before meeting his high school English teacher in the 1950s. And it was that teacher, Eric Sowerby DRAKE, who opened up his world, not only to HARDY, but to Joseph CONRAD, William SHAKESPEARE and Ernest HEMINGWAY..."

Henry SHEPPARD, in his 15 February 2014 post on the Adelaide Screenwriters BlogSpot, interviewed Ned MANNING, a Teacher, Writer, and Stage, Film & Television Actor, who answered several questions as follows:
"Q. Where did you go to school?
"A. I went to boarding school at The King's School in Parramatta.
"Q. Who was the teacher who had the biggest influence on you?
"A. Eric Sowerby DRAKE. He taught me English, and performed the whole of Julius Caesar standing on his desk with academic gown flowing."

My 3rd brother Peter, another 5-year pupil of E.S.D., has just recently drawn my attention to yet another tribute to Eric Sowerby DRAKE, which was published on page 211 of The King's School Magazine of 2014. Submitted by Richard KEYS (1954), he must inevitably have been one of Eric's first pupils (probably in the IIIrd Form in Eric's first year there).
Richard observed that Eric was:
"...short in stature and somewhat owl-like in appearance, but to me he was a giant among men...
"To responsive boys, he gave a life-long love of literature and drama, and... he encouraged us to think for ourselves. An iconoclast who was not shy to express heretical opinions (eg, that the Cadet Corps should be voluntary)...
"...his finest hour was his production of Macbeth in the Dining Hall, for which he gave up his Sundays for months... he had only the hall, with a raised dais where the Masters were served their meals. He transformed that 'stage' into Dunsinane, with howling winds and eerie lighting effects... I realize now, if I didn't know it then, I was watching a master theatre director at work...
"The year after I left school, my friends... and I went to visit him... He offered us cigarettes, and in his non-conformist way, told us that going to University was a waste of time! From his point of view, you didn't need to do courses to live the life of the mind..."