Category Archives: information


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

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

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