Category Archives: history

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

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