Sunday 30 July 2017

Extraordinary Lives : Swashbuckling Across France Part 2

Two weeks ago I wrote about the extraordinary exploits of Julie d’Aubigny (1673-1707) pictured above. Today we continue her story.

After spending several years on the run for kidnapping a nun and burning down a convent Julie arrived in Paris at the age of 18 with a royal pardon and a glorious future as a star of the Paris Opera. She became a celebrity. Composers wrote parts especially for her and high society feted her.

In true celebrity style Julie’s off-stage behaviour continued to attract attention. She fell in love with the lead female singer, the prima donna of the Paris Opera, Marie Le Rochois (c.1658-1728). There was another singer Julie fell for, a rising male star called Franchon Moreau (1668-after 1743). He turned her down and Julie was shattered. She became so depressed, so it is said, that she attempted suicide.

But there’s always someone who wants a bit of the action and is jealous of being left out. A famous tenor at the opera, Louis Gaulard Dumesny (d.1702), had been trying to earn the affection of both Julie and Marie, and just about any other women he thought he had a chance with. When he made a concerted effort to woo Julie she turned him down. Dumesny responded by insulting her. Julie’s response to that was characteristic.

One evening Julie laid in wait for Dumesny in a public square. When he appeared Julie leapt out in front of him and challenged him to a duel. Dumesny didn’t recognise her because he hadn’t seen Julie in her male attire before and turned into a wimp. He refused to fight. Whereupon Julie got out her walking cane and thrashed the living daylights out of him. For good measure she took his watch and snuff box.

The following day Dumesny arrived at the opera covered in bruises. People asked what had happened and he said that he had been attacked by a bunch of ruffians who stole his watch and snuff box. This was Julie’s cue. She called him a liar and a coward and took out the watch and snuff box and threw them back at him. How embarrassed he must have been.

Life at the opera and in society circles continued. One very posh royal ball in 1697 provided more extraordinary behaviour from Julie. She was attending in her finest male attire. One young woman attracted her attention and Julie began chatting her up and flirting. They even danced together. Julie also knew there were three men who were equally vying for the young lady’s attention. There were strict conventions and rules about courtship at public events like this ball where royalty is present, but Julie threw them all out of the window when she kissed the young lady in full view of the other guests. At this point the three would-be suitors challenged Julie to a duel.

There’s no time like the present, they say, and the four of them marched out of the ballroom and into the palace gardens. Julie took on all three of the men, one after the other, and beat them all. The king was not amused. When Julie returned to the ballroom he reminded her that duels were banned. The king’s brother, however, was very amused and persuaded the king to let her off because the ban only applies to men not women.

However, the scandal was a bit too much and Julie felt the urge to travel again. She left Paris and went to Brussels. There she took up a guest role at the Brussels opera. Her tempestuous behaviour wasn’t dampened. At one time she had an argument with the “Duchess of Luxembourg” (there was no such title at the time, so I assume this lady would have been the wife of the Duke of Nassau, Prince of Orange, who ruled the area we now call Luxembourg). Julie threatened to blow the Duchess’s brains out!

Julie’s reputation attracted the attention of Prince Maximilian I Emanuel von Wittelsbach, the Elector of Bavaria. It wasn’t long before the two were having an affair. But Julie proved to be a bit too much for him, especially after seeing her stab herself with a real dagger during one opera performance. To help ease the pain of dumping her he thought a gift of 40,000 livres and a gentle hint to go away might do the trick. It backfired spectacularly after he chose the husband of his new mistress to deliver the money to her. Julie was outraged. She threw the money back at him and chased him out of her house. When he returned to retrieve the money both it and Julie had gone.

Madrid was Julie’s next destination. Perhaps she was trying to keep a low profile there, because she got a job as the maid to a Spanish countess. You just know something is going to happen before too long, and so it did. Julie didn’t like the countess very much. One evening when Julie was getting the countess ready for a grand ball she thought it would be amusing to put radishes in the countess’s hair. The countess went to the ball unaware of her unusual hair adornments. She probably didn’t stay at the grand ball very long, but by the time she got back home Julie was long gone.

Julie returned to Paris and the opera. When her ex-lover Marie Le Rochois retired Julie became her replacement as prima donna. There were a few more altercations with the law, usually involving herself and her old friend the Count d’Albret, and her continual verbal duels with Gabriel-Vincent Théverard, the singer who got her the job at the Paris Opera in the first place.

Life was relatively uneventful after that. In 1703 she met and fell in love with Marie Thérèse de Senneterre de Crussol d’Uzès (1670-1705), wife of the much older Louis, Marques of Florensac. Marie Thérèse was said to be the most beautiful woman in France. The two women became a couple. Marie Thérèse left her 68-year-old husband, and her two young children by him, and went to live with Julie until her death two years later.

Julie was heart-broken. She retired from the opera and from her swashbuckling activities. She may have decided that life wasn’t worth living without Marie Thérèse and set about putting all her affairs in order. This included reconciling herself with her husband. Remember him from Part 1? He was the unfortunate man who was packed off to the south of France to become a tax collector as soon as they had married.

It is ironic that her extraordinary life on an adventure all over France started with her setting fire to a convent, for it is in a convent that she spent the final two years of her life.

Julie d’Aubigny’s reputation during her lifetime not only meant that she was a national celebrity but that stories about her were exaggerated through the years. From recent research undertaken by her biographers who have trawled through the archives to separate fact from fiction it seems that Julie’s life story needed no exaggeration and that on the face of it she did indeed lead an extraordinary life.

Thursday 27 July 2017

The Day We Stopped Being Criminals (Most Of Us)

Today is the actual 50th anniversary of the day when the Sexual Offences Act received Royal Assent and became law in England and Wales. Although Scotland and Northern Ireland had to wait until 1980 and 1982 respectively before similar acts applied to them, the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was the beginning of a long road to equality and acceptance that has not yet ended.

While it was a pivotal moment in the history of gay rights in the UK the Sexual Offences Act had its problems. It was not a blanket decriminalisation. It didn’t apply to members of the armed forces or merchant navy and the age of consent was 21 not 16 as it was with heterosexuals. To illustrate the long road it took to get to the Sexual Offences Act here is a timeline of the important events that led there.

1953 December
Conservative MP Sir RobertBoothby (1900-1986) and Labour MP Desmond Donnelly (1920-1974) call on the Conservative government to set up a Royal Commission to investigate the laws relating to homosexual offences.

Rather than appoint a Royal Commission the government decides to widen the scope to include prostitution. The Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. David Maxwell-Fyfe (1900-1967), sets up a Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution. The committee is to be chaired by John Wolfenden (1906-1985). The committee is commonly referred to as the Wolfenden Committee. The committee meets for the first time on 15th September. (You can read my article on John Wolfenden, his gay son Jeremy and their ancestry, here.)

1957 September 4th
The Wolfenden Committee publishes its report, commonly referred to as the Wolfenden Report. It recommends that homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence. The recommendations on prostitution formed the basis of the Street Offences Act 1959.

1958 May 12th
The Homosexual Law Reform Society was formed to lobby the government to implement the recommendations of the Wolfenden Report.

MPs in the House of Commons debate the Wolfenden Report for the first time. The Home Secretary, Rt. Hon R. A. Butler (1902-1982), rejects calls to implement its proposals.

1960 June 29th
Labour MP Kenneth Robinson (1911-1996) proposes a motion in the House of Commons to enact the Wolfenden recommendations. The motion is defeated. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the vote, in view of future events, is that those who voted in favour of the motion was Conservative MP Mrs. Margaret Thatcher. As Prime Minister she introduced Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools. Labour MP and future Prime Minister Harold Wilson (1916-1995) abstains.

MP Desmond Donnelly presents a Private Members Bill calling for the repeal of the Labouchère Amendment (I’ll write more about this Amendment on August 6th). The Bill is rejected.

1962 March
Labour MP Leo Abse (1917-2008) introduces the first Sexual Offences Bill in which he advocates more lenient sentences for homosexual offences. The House of Commons debates the Bill for less than an hour, after which parliamentary time ran out and no vote was taken. The Bill was abandoned.

1965 May
Conservative peer Arthur Gore, 8th earl of Arran (1910-1983), whose older brother, the 7th Earl (1903-1958), was gay, reintroduces the Sexual Offences Bill into the House of Lords. It is supported by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. The Bill is passed in October 1965 and awaits a similar result in the House of Commons.

1966 February
Conservative MP Humphry Berkeley (1926-1994) re-introduces the Sexual Offences Bill into the House of Commons. At its Second Reading on February 11th the Bill is passed by 164 votes to 107. Before the Bill reaches its Third Reading the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who again abstains in the vote, calls a General Election. Humphry Berkeley loses his seat in the election and, because the Bill has thus lost its sponsor, it is dropped.

1966 April
The Earl of Arran and MP Leo Abse re-introduce the Sexual Offences Bill into both Houses of Parliament. After accepting some compromise amendments, such as the exemption of merchant seamen and the increase in the age of consent to 21, the Bill manages to get to the final report stage and Third Reading.

1967 July 4
The Sexual Offences Bill passes its final report stage and Third Reading. It awaits Royal Assent before it becomes law.

1967 July 21
Royal Assent is given and the Sexual Offences Bill becomes the Sexual Offences Act 1967.

Monday 24 July 2017

On Trial For The Olympics

No, the title isn’t about crime. Believe it or not there’s only 200 days to go before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter games in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. My world-renowned list of lgbt Olympians is very close to 300 names. I wonder if I will reach that number before the games begin.

But I already have a list of reserve or alternate team members whose only reason for not being on the Olympian list is because no other Olympic team member fell ill or injured. A few of these alternate athletes took part in the parade at the opening ceremony with the rest of their team. And then there are the lgbt athletes who competed in Olympic trials and qualifying tournaments. If I add them to my list I get a total of 379. If I add the Paralympians and their alternates to the list we increase that number by 20. Which means that there is an accumulative list of lgbt Olympians, Paralympians, reserves and alternates of

This far ahead of the Pyeong Chang games it isn’t possible to know how many lgbt athletes will appear in 2018. However, we can get a good idea if we look at the qualification tournaments and Olympic selection trials, which all sports go through these days before the final selection of the national teams, for the previous three Winter Olympics. For the Sochi 2014 there were 5 lgbt athletes who competed in trials but didn’t make the team (there were 18 lgbt Olympians who did go to Sochi). For Vancouver 2010 there were 10 who went no further than the trials (19 Olympians and 2 alternates). For Turin 2006 there were 14 (19 Olympians and 1 alternate). I hope the downward trend in lgbt athletes taking part in trials is not an indication that there are fewer wanting to compete.

There are many athletes who are openly lgbt but do not shout about it. They are not national celebrities and often disappear into a regular life after they finish their competitive career without making the news. They are by no means “in the closet”, nor were they when they competed.

Competing in an Olympic trial does not necessarily imply an athlete is hoping for a place on the team. He/she may just be trying to achieve their best performance in national ranking. Or they may be competing to gain qualification for their nation; nations often have to compete for qualification as well as individual athletes, e.g. in football/soccer, ice hockey or beach volleyball. Another example is in equestrian eventing. Former Olympian Blyth Tait competed in the qualifying tournament which was to select which nations would for Rio 2016. He helped to secure a place for New Zealand but did not compete in any further qualification events for individual team members. That is why I have chosen to list all lgbt athletes who competed in trials and qualifying tournaments.

There seems to be a trend which reinforces sporting stereotypes, a fact which may seem undesirable in a perfect world. For instance, the stereotype of many male figure skaters being gay men and many female football/soccer players being lesbian has been around for decades. But we cannot escape the fact that it is true, and it is further reinforced by the number of athletes competing in the trials.

Here are some of the figures. In the table I have listed the top ten sports. I have counted all athletes who have competed in trials and qualifying tournaments, including those who were later banned or deselected. Transgender athletes have been counted in the gender category in which they first competed. All of the Olympians and alternate/reserves also competed in trials or selections. I have not included any Paralympians in this table. 

Figure skating
Track and field
Field hockey

One statistic may stick out more than any other. The number of lgbt figure skaters who competed in Olympic trials who have never been selected as an Olympic team member or alternate actually outnumbers those who have.

My research never stops. There are about a dozen athletes, past and present, I am still researching. The further back in time we go the less information there is about which events were official qualifying events.

For the time being I am following the progress of known lgbt athletes who hope to appear in the next Winter Games in South Korea in 200 days time. Good luck to them all.

Friday 21 July 2017

A Flower Power Legacy

There have been many homophobic murders through the years. Too many to list. One which received a lot of media attention at the time, and in the years since, is the double murder of partners Gary Matson (1949-1999) and Winfield Mowder (1959-1999) in July 1999.

The murders were featured in the true crime television series “Forensic Files” in 2004. If you want to know more about the actual crime and how it was solved (with a fleck of paint and a chicken feather) you can watch the episode below on Youtube, or go to the Wikipedia entry.

Rather than go over the crime again let’s take time to pay tribute to the victims Gary and Winfield, a couple who devoted their lives to plants and horticulture. Specifically they advocated environmental horticulture, a branch of the science that deals with the way plants and environment exist together.

Gary Matson in particular was horticulturally gifted and used his “flower power” to establish or contribute to many projects over the years, many of which would never have got off the ground (or should that be “in the ground”) if it hadn’t been for his contribution.

Winfield Mowder was 10 years younger than Gary and was his partner since 1985. He also had an extensive horticultural knowledge though his talents were concentrated on the businesses he and Gary formed, starting with the Matson Horticulture and Florabundance Nursery in Redding, North California. They embraced the growing internet sales business by starting, an online ordering services for plants, in 1997, for which Winfield also designed the packaging.

Gary Matson, the oldest of the four sons of Oscar and Stella Matson, was born in 1949. When Gary was in high school his father bought some land on which he planned to turn into a vineyard. Gary was already interested in horticulture and the soil and went to study at the University of California Santa Cruz. It was there that he met Marcia Howe (1949-2003), a fellow student, and they started dating. They were a couple for around 15 years and they had one daughter who was born in 1979.

Together Gary and Marcia founded the Carter House National Science Museum in Redding on the site of a previous vacated museum. Carter House was an educational resource, mainly for schools, which provided natural walks and talks in the Redding countryside. It was staffed by volunteers originally and in 1992 Redding city council provided operating funds and two full-time paid staff. In 1997 Carter House merged with the Alliance of Redding Museums, which is now the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Marcia remained as Senior Vice-President of Carter House until the merger.

During this time Gary also led in the establishing of community gardens in Happy Valley just south of Redding and the Redding Farmer’s market.

In the 1980s Gary came to realise his homosexuality and he and Marcia separated. They remained close, and Gary continued to help raise their young daughter. At around this time Gary and Marcia created the Redding Arboretum which, like Carter House, was absorbed into Turtle Bay Exploration Park. It formed part of the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Garden, though little of the original layout remains.

In 1985 Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder became a couple. Winfield’s experience in horticulture were gained at the Orchard Supply Hardware Garden Department while he was studying at Chico State University. Unfortunately, it was through local horticulture that Gary and Winfield first encountered the young brothers who were to murder them in 1999. Winfield had worked briefly with one of the brothers at Redding Farmer’s Market which was founded by his partner just a few years earlier.

Gary and Winfield were a well-known, highly-respected and well-liked couple. They didn’t hide their sexuality and Winfield often spoke to local schools. The murdering brothers would have been well aware of it too.

In reaction to the murder of Gary and Winfield in July 1999 the Redding community banded together to form the Matson Mowder Pride Alliance, an annual celebration of their lives that took place on the anniversary of their deaths. It was a celebration of unity and diversity and was held for about ten years.

Another memorial was an online garden, the Gary Matson Memorial Garden. This was created by Cyndi Kirkpatrick, a member of the same Google newsgroup to which Gary belonged and contributed regularly. The idea behind the memorial was to create a visual garden of images and photographs of flower and plants on the website to create a colourful commemoration of the lives of both Gary and Winfield. Unfortunately, this memorial garden seems to have disappeared from the internet.

It’s a shame this no longer exists. But at least we can still enjoy the legacy and creativity of Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder in the Turtle Bay Exploration Park which continues the educational work of the original Carter House and Redding Arboretum.

You can also enjoy that legacy from the comfort of your own garden with a glass of wine. Remember that vineyard Gary’s father had planned? In 1981 Gary planted grape vines on the property and the wine business flourished and is still going strong. The Matson Vineyard is currently run by Gary’s youngest brother Roger, and if you’re ever in the Redding area you can pop along and buy a bottle of their wine.

So I raise a glass in tribute to a couple whose Flower Power has survived the hateful events surrounding their untimely passing.

Monday 17 July 2017

Extraordinary Lives : Swashbuckling Across France

A French print from around 1700 by an anonymous artist entitled
“Mademoiselle Maupin d’Opera” depicting Julie d’Aubigny as an opera singer.
There was quite a remarkable group of women who lived in the17th and 18th centuries who lived extraordinary lives for their times – the pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and the soldier-adventurer Catalina de Erauso to name a few. At the moment I’m quite taken with the life of Julie d’Aubigny (1673-1707), whose action-packed, swash-buckling, body-snatching, opera-singing life was extraordinary for enough for her to feature as a companion to Doctor Who in a comic book adventure. In fact, there can be very few men of her time had more extraordinary lives than hers.

Julie was perhaps fortunate in having the father she had, for Gaston d’Aubigny was secretary to Prince Louis de Lorraine-Guise, Count of Armagnac. Gaston was also responsible for the education and training of the pages of the royal court of King Louis XIV of France. Julius was accepted into the classes, which included horse-riding and fencing, and she got used to wearing male clothes like the young male trainees. Sensing the restrictions of female clothes at an early age Julie chose to wear men’s clothes for the majority of the rest of her life.

So far, so dull, except for learning how to fight with a sword, which other young women didn’t. Then, at the age of 14 she became the Count of Armagnac’s mistress. That would have caused as bit of a scandal, even if there were other royal mistresses around the court. But Julie was a teenager and unmarried. So the Count married her off to an aristocrat called the Sire de Maupin de Sainte-Germain-en-Laye. From then on Julie became known as the Madame de Maupin, or just La Maupin when a later career choice took off.

Now that Julie was married Armagnac packed her husband off to the south of France to be a tax collector while he had his way with her.

Then things really started to hot up. Julie spent her time in the fencing schools of Paris, challenging the tutors to matches. One of these tutors, Monsieur Sérannes, became her lover after Armagnac dropped her. But her cushy life as a privileged aristocrat ended when Sérannes killed a man in a duel. Duels were illegal at the time, so the couple fled Paris. Deprived of income they headed south earning money in the fairs and inns as a fencing-singing (not at the same time) double-act.

Julie dressed as a man the whole time but always made it clear that she was a woman (a female singing fencer was a big attraction). But one young man in one audience challenged her. He didn’t believe she was a woman. So, what did she do? She did what any other 16-year-old would do. She flashed her boobs at the crowd.

Julie also had quite a talent for singing as well. When they got to Marseille she trained as a singer under Pierre Gaultier, a friend of the composer who invented the military marching band and modern ballet, Jean-Baptiste Lully.

It wasn’t long before Julie tired of Sérannes. She had found another love, a merchant’s daughter who was even younger than she was. The girl’s parents were horrified, so they packed her daughter off to a convent. Undaunted, Julie followed, and abandoned her male attire to join the same convent. The two teenagers could be together, but life in a convent was not the best environment for a relationship so they decided to run away together.

Knowing Julie, just running away from a convent was no ordinary task. She waited until an elderly nun had died. Then, Julie dug up the body. Yes, grave-robbing was another of her skills, and put the corpse in her girlfriend’s bed. To cover up the switch Julie set fire to the convent and she and her girlfriend escaped amid the chaos.

The plan backfired, sort of. In her absence Julie was accused of kidnapping, grave-robbing and arson. She was condemned to death – as a man, because they couldn’t believe a woman could do such a thing.

On the run again Julie enjoyed three months with her young lover (whose name is not known). But boredom set in again and the girl was sent back to her parents while Julie returned to her singing-fencing career in the inns and fairs of rural France. She was talent-spotted by an alcoholic former singing star who offered to train her properly. Perhaps now, at the age of 18, Julie though about finding a more normal life.

But no. She enjoyed singing, but she enjoyed fencing just as much. On her way to Paris to start her professional singing career she encountered a young man who insulted her (in one version of the tale). Julie challenged him to a duel and succeeded in thrusting her sword straight through his shoulder. The next day the man’s servant came to apologise for his master’s insult and took Julie up to see him in his room. It was only then that Julie revealed her true gender and identity and, guess what? She and the injured man, who turned out to be Count Louis-Joseph d’Albret, became lovers. This was perhaps the only true love relationship Julie had with a man. They were only lovers for a short time but they remained close friends for the rest of their lives.

Julie continued on to Paris, picking up yet another lover, a fellow singer also heading for Paris called Gabriel-Vincent Thévenard. Don’t forget that Julie had a death sentence hanging over her in Paris, and once there her identity would be revealed and she risked arrest. Calling on her former lover, the Count of Armagnac, for help he persuaded the king to drop all charges against her.

Still only 18 years old Julie found herself performing at the Paris Opera. It wasn’t long before she realised her best singing voice was as a contralto, and this turned her into a star. There weren’t many starring roles for a contralto at that time, but Julie found composers were writing leading roles especially for her. This was the time she became known as La Maupin. She stayed at the Paris Opera for 15 years.

And if you think the first 18 years of her life were packed with enough packed and that she has decided to settle down and become a singing celebrity you’d be wrong.

The next 18 years of her life were just as extraordinary, and included a duel with three men one after the other, an affair with the ruler of Bavaria, and a disagreement with the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg all made sure her teenage reputation stayed with her. Unfortunately, we can’t. Julie d’Aubigny’s life is so extraordinary that I’ve split it into two parts. Part 2 will appear at the end of the month. And you’ll never guess what she did with a handful of radishes.

Thursday 13 July 2017

Out Of His Tree : Police, Painters and Protestants

There are two cousins who, in their own way, helped to establish more acceptance of gay men in the UK. They are both called Paddick.

The first, Hugh Paddick (1915-2000), was a comedy actor and starred in a BBC radio comedy series in the 1960s called “Round the Horne”. His most memorable character was Julian of Julian and Sandy, an overtly camp couple. In 2015 I gave a brief look at how this character helped, however unconsciously, to establish some form of acceptance of gay men in society.

The second, Brian Paddick (b.1958), was one of the first openly gay police officers in the UK and rose to become the highest ranking out gay police officer with the rank of Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. On his retirement he entered politics and was appointed a Life Peer in 2013, taking the title Baron Paddick. For the uncertain among you, a Life Peer is appointed by the political parties to represent them in the House of Lords. The title is not hereditary and dies with the owner. “Lord” is the general title for all ranks of the peerage (except Duke), the lowest rank being Baron.

This is how the two men are related. Technically they are second cousins once removed.
I’m going to concentrate on the ancestry of Lord Paddick to tie in with my “Law and Citizenship : Police and Law Enforcement” series. His ancestry shows the influence of the Essex countryside, the aristocratic homes of Victorian London, and the persecution of French Protestants.

It’ll be most appropriate to begin with Lord Paddick’s grandfather, his most obvious influence.

Police Constable Peter Perkin (1880-1940) joined the Metropolitan Police in 1901. He served for 26 years before resigning in 1927. During that time he met and married his wife Eleanor and had several children, one of whom was Evelyn, Lord Paddick’s mother. Peter Perkin died before Lord Paddick was born, but no doubt stories about his grandfather’s career as a policeman is probably what inspired Brian to enter the Metropolitan Police force himself.

But Peter Perkin was not a London boy born and bred. He was a country boy. He was born in the village of Great Bardfield in Essex some 51 miles north-east of London. The Perkin family had lived there for several generations and were closely linked to the land. Peter’s father was a hurdle-maker, someone who made fence panels and windbreaks from willow and wattle. Peter’s grandfather was a sheep-dresser, someone who killed and prepared sheep for sale in a butcher’s shop (there’s butchering of a different animal later).

Lord Paddick’s male-line ancestry had lived in London for a little longer than the Perkins. The Paddicks originate in rural Hertfordshire. Lord Paddick’s branch of the family, starting with his great-grandfather James Joseph (see family tree above), moved to London in the early 1870s. James used his experiences working on the land with horses (as a boy he helped to deliver milk around the villages by horse and cart) by becoming a groom and coachman to the wealthy families of London. I haven’t discovered the names of any of his employers, but I found that in 1881 he and his family were living at 14 Marylebone Mews which backs directly onto the home of Maj. Herbert Gye and his wife the Hon. Adelaide Gye (great-great-niece of Lord Nelson). Was James Joseph Paddick their coachman?

Lord Paddick’s grandfather Horace, one of the 11 children of James Joseph, married Ethel Guerrier in 1915. Without trying to denigrate Lord Paddick’s other ancestors his Guerrier family line is a bit more interesting.

Guerrier is a French name. The Guerriers were one of the many Huguenot families, French Protestants, who were persecuted in France and who fled to other countries from the 1680s. The earliest member of the family I have uncovered in London is one Mathieu Guerrier in 1697. How he is related to Lord Paddick’s ancestor Edward Guerrier is not known. Edward is recorded in the archives of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers, a London guild, as a fan painter (a stainer was an artist who stained cloth for decorative coloured wall hangings). The Huguenots were renowned as the premier fan painters in Europe. The influx of these skilled artists into London led to the formation of the Worshipful Company of Fan-Makers in 1709. However, In 1733 Edward enrolled his son George Guerrier (1718-1753) as an apprentice to a member of the Painter-Stainers guild. By then there were thousands of cheap printed fans being imported from Asia and the market was flooded. Fans became cheaper and fan painters like Edward Guerrier found their work in less demand. Perhaps this is why he enrolled his son with the Painter-Stainers guild and not the Fan-makers.

George’s son William Guerrier (1747-1821) was also a member of the Painter-Stainers guild. But then something happened. Two of his sons joined the same guild in the 1790s, thereby joining their father as Freeman of the City of London. However, neither of these sons were painters. They were butchers!

What seems to have happened is that William Guerrier, a skilled painter and stainer, had fallen on hard times and by the 1770s was working as a porter in the London docks. I’ve tried to discover if this was a different man, but the evidence suggests not.

The Guerrier family fortunes declined, but not for long. They became a dynasty of successful cattle-dealers and butchers until well into the 20th century. Lord Paddick’s branch of the family descend from a younger son of one of these successful butchers who went into labouring work (for a brewer in Bethnal Green, so it probably wasn’t all that bad!).

Let’s end on one final surprising link to law and order in Lord Paddick’s ancestry. Through his grandfather PC Peter Perkin Lord Paddick’s family line can be traced back in the census to Robert Perkin (1793-1875), a farm labourer who was born in Thaxted, Essex. I’ve not found any proof of the Perkin family ancestry before that but various family websites online give unverified information which says that Robert’s grandmother was called Elizabeth Turpin. Does that surname sound familiar? It should, because according to those online sites she was the daughter of the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin. It’s a claim that needs further research (by others, not me), but on the whole I am highly sceptical of the link.