All posts by David

Bishopsgate Institute – Smerdon


Mary A Smerdon's straw hat shop at 95 Bishopsgate
Mary A Smerdon’s straw hat shop at 95 Bishopsgate

On 4 September 2014 I set myself a challenge to discover something new on the story of The Smerdons at The Bishopsgate Institute.  Archivist Stefan found this image dated 1839 amongst ‘The London Collection Manuscripts’. It is a sketch of Mary A Smerdon’s straw hat shop at 95 Bishopsgate, then located next to St Ethelburga’s Church.  A great find.

The Smerdon Link


theserpentToday were are defined by the data that exists about us. In a hundred years from now someone could create a profile of me in seconds… I am numbers and I am recorded in so many databases, some I am not even aware of. Existence outside this state is impossible. But it hasn’t always been like this.

A hundred years ago if I had said I was John Smith from London, he is who I was. A few lies could deceive and nobody would have the means to challenge me.

Wilmott Smerdon Mack is an enigma because he may have created his own mystery. Undoubtedly a ‘Black Sheep’ he has made it impossible to find him. In family history research do we really need to find ancestors in their entirety? What I hope to do in these chapters is to put the flesh on the skeleton… the skeleton is the information but the flesh is the picture of a person. In a hundred years from now they may have the data… will they have the picture?

The Enigmatic Wilmott Smerdon Mack

O’Meara page update

The great songwriter Cole Porter cavorting with Eleanor O'Connell Gormley
The great songwriter Cole Porter cavorting with Eleanor O’Connell Gormley

theserpentIf you want to discover where the famous singer/songwriter Cole Porter features in this book take a look at the updated page The O’Meara Paper Company. This great picture, courtesy of Joanie Gormley, shows him cavorting with Eleanor O’Connell Gormley, a Granddaughter of Maurice O’Meara. Eleanor travelled in his entourage on European Tours.

There’s also a fine photo of Maurice O’Meara and his wife Ellen Devy nee Mullane promenading at Atlantic City around 1900

The Marleys of Marske-by-the-Sea

Alfred Hardy with his wife Jane Ann (née Marley) and sons Alfred John & Wilfrid
Alfred Hardy with his wife Jane Ann (née Marley) and sons Alfred John & Wilfrid was the home of  Jane Ann Marley and she was born in September 1872 into a dynasty of drapers and tailors, including The Marleys, Pattons, Wilsons, Harforths and Taylersons. Jane Ann married Alfred Hardy, a Master Grocer from Sunderland at The Parish Church of St Thomas Bishopwearmouth on 23 June 1893. She was shown as the daughter of John Patton Marley (deceased) a tailor of Marske, whilst Alfred was shown as the son of William Hardy, a Police Pensioner. This tale takes us 40 miles south of Sunderland to the North Yorkshire coastal villages of Marske and Saltburn both ‘by-the-Sea’ and others around the ancient town of Guisborough.
The Marleys of Marske-by-the-Sea

Ruby Wedding Anniversary – David & Celia Hardy

Sunday 25th April 2010 is the 40th Wedding Anniversary of David Alexander Hardy & Celia Anne Mack.

Their Wedding Day ceremony was held at St Mary’s Parish Church Ealing, London W.5. on Saturday 25th April 1970.

Blessed with two children, Louise Andrea & Paul Alexander, a Daughter-in-Law Sasha Lorraine Jones and two beautiful Grandchildren Millie Violet and Frank Alexander their progeny is assured and they hope their example has been worthy. For them, it has been a great 40 years, full of life’s delights and many adventures.

Country Cousins

A few Hardy Cousins of this mighty family met at Lewes in Sussex on Sunday 11th April 2010. Very special amongst them was Nick Yarborough (son of Barbara Alexandra Hardy – centre cap) from Phoenix Arizona who has been visiting his English Cousins for a week. Pictured (from left to right) are Philip, Nic & Chris, Lucy, Lou, Nick, Sasha, Amy, Paul, Jack, Beth, Frank & Tilly.

Travellers Tales

Our ancestors have had to be travellers in their own times by necessity. Migration is sometimes necessary in order to survive and our ancestors migrated for many reasons.  Travellers Tales are short stories inspired by the contribution of my cousin David MacKenzie Smith, with whom I share a common great-grandfather, Frank Morse Smith. We live on different continents – he is American and I am English, and that was because of a family member’s migration. There’s an Italian and a Spaniard to start the new page. The fact is, “we are all immigrants, our only difference is that some of us arrived earlier and some of us later”… more

Catalyntje’s Brave New World

The Arms of de Rapelje

Catalyntje’s Brave New World is one for the ladies, especially for the next time a shopping trip to The Big Apple NY is planned. In fact, it is really the chapter of this collection that inspired my interest in family history, some 35 years ago. My American mother, Barbara Linington Lyons, had told me about our ancestor’s The Rapeljes who had been the earliest European settlers in North America in 1623. It’s hardly surprising that a little published book with all the lineage from The Rapeljes of 1623 to me and my family of today might inspire me; it would, I suggest, inspire anyone. Being a supposed descendant of the French noblemen Gaspard Colet de Rapalye of Rochelle in France may allow some of us to have aspirations, based on unexamined claims, of being descendants, too, of The Holy Roman Emperor Charlamange (Charles the Great, King of the Franks – 742 –  814)  and no lesser an English monarch than William the Conqueror (1027 – 1087). Please, if we are related, don’t get too carried away with this revelation, family history is not about this, I argue, and having accidentally drawn blood many times during my life I can assure you that mine is red not blue!

Family Crests may need an explanatory chapter, eventually, but in the meantime it may be worth mentioning that Family Crests are actually individual to a person and not passed down to descendants, although sometimes illusions of some perceived grandeur make us attracted to their use. Crests were actually the ‘colours and mark’ of an individual and his kinsmen on the battlefield and I think, except when it comes to Premier League Football, we have little need of these today.

Catalyntje’s Brave New World is about the hardships, challenges, and the sheer endurance of the Early Settlers of America. The story inspired me and I don’t think the family crest was flying above the hut made of bark with a dirt floor where Catalyntje’s daughter Sarah de Rapelje was born in 1625; she was the first child born to Europeans in the New World… more

Hardy New Year 2010

Sue, Nick, Mike & David Hardy

Siblings David Mike Nick and Sue (Hughes) met for a New Year 2010 bash at Richmond on Sunday 3rd January with wives Dot, Chris & Celia, husband Jim and a good few children/cousins including Beth, Lucy, Tilly, Lou, Jack and George + some new partners Sarah and Phil… lots of reminiscing. They drank a toast to the many others that were not able to be at this great family gathering.