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Author Archives: Diana Devlin

Families – happy and unhappy

I disagree with Tolstoy.  (‘Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’ – Anna Karenina.) It seems to me that when we witness, in fact or fiction, some pain or difficulty in family life, we often see connections to our own.  I have just seen a searing play about two sisters (Little Light by … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write | Leave a comment

Will Christmas really be Christmas?

I wonder what books and films and plays you most associate with Christmas. Not to mention Christmas songs and carols. I think many of us have traditions that go back years and are as important a part of the festivities as the crackers and mince pies.  And each generation establishes new ones. When I was … Continue reading »

Categories: Festivals and Customs, Legacies | 2 Comments

Sail and Steam

When I was a child, there were still working horses on the streets, though motor cars had been around for over fifty years.  The milkman, the coal merchant and the rag-and-bone man all had horses.  One of my earliest children’s books had a picture of a milkman’s horse ‘eating its breakfast out of a nosebag’.  … Continue reading »

Categories: 19th Century, Journeys | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

House clearance: a miscellaneous archive

One small reference in Richard Holmes’ Footsteps set me thinking about my family archive. He mentions Virginibus Puerisque, a collection of four essays by Robert Louis Stevenson.  When I read that title, a clear memory came to me of a set of dark volumes of Stevenson’s works that sat on the bookshelves at Cedar Cottage, … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write | 1 Comment

And by the way . . . encounters while researching

Until this last April, Errol – I don’t know his last name – was still working the quarry at Llechwedd, Blaunau Ffestiniog.  Then, over twenty men were laid off, while he and one other chap were kept on to maintain the site.  The main enterprise now is the visitor experience ‘Llechwedd Slate Cavern’ and adventure … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write | 1 Comment

The King of Instruments

Do you know your diapason from your dulcet treble?  Would you recommend unisonal duplication of manual stops and couplers?  Do you approve of Robert Hope-Jones’s innovations?  To whom would you attribute the introduction of the ‘Melody attachment’? My great-grandfather, Thomas Casson, designed church organs at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th … Continue reading »

Categories: 19th Century | Tags: | 1 Comment

Some Victorian weddings

I have just heard of a wedding taking place this summer which is to cost £55,000, a shocking expenditure in my opinion.  But will it be any more festive than some of the weddings  that took place between 1863 and 1870, uniting various members of my family then resident in Merioneth, North Wales? The most … Continue reading »

Categories: 19th Century, Festivals and Customs | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The redoubtable May Osmund Alonzo Durant

As promised in my last blog, I now reveal some of the history of this remarkable man. He was born at Tong Castle, Shropshire, in May 1816, the youngest of 14 legitimate children. We know little about his childhood, except that by 1822 his mother left the family home for the last time. At the … Continue reading »

Categories: 19th Century | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Detour with the Durants

Some time ago I blogged about the last will and testament of one of my ancestors.  He had stipulated that if the husband of his married daughter Catharine so much as crossed the threshold of the family home, she would lose her inheritance.  I was not particularly interested in following up this daughter, as the … Continue reading »

Categories: 18th Century, 19th Century | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Lloyd George Knew My . . .

. . .well, not my Father, but my great-great uncle. We usually think of family history as covering the lives of people who were not public figures in their own right, but they sometimes appear at the periphery of the lives of the famous. Randal Casson (1850 – 1914), younger brother of my great grandfather, … Continue reading »

Categories: 19th Century | Tags: , , | 5 Comments