Army School Inspectors
Captain Trunball Warren
Royal Hibernian Military School
Royal Military Asylum
Sir Percy Sillitoe
6 June 2007
[Editor's note: The first inquiry regarding John and Bridget Little
originated from Neil Lindstrom of New Zealand. See previous corresp.
Neil, I must assume that as your grandfather was born in 1875, then
his father will have been about 27 (to marry whilst a soldier, permission
had to be had from the commanding officer of the unit. If younger than
25, permission was rarely given. This places your GG Grandfather in
the year bracketing 1845-1849, just outside of the available records.
I have access to records from 1849-1851 and 1853-1859, plus the census
for the RMA 1840-1901. I have not been able to find a trainee schoolmaster
with the name of LITTLE. As he will have married after 1839, then a marriage
certificate should be available via the St Catherine's indexes at the
PRO. This will indicate his regiment at the time of his marriage. With
this information you will be able to check the muster rolls
of this regiment to discover more. If you have details re your GGF,
date of birth, names and regiment, I may be able to direct you a little
further with your research
9 June 2007
Neil, First, some details of John and Bridget Little. I have the
death certificates for both. John died 4 June 1891 and Bridget 16 September
1881. The place of death in each case was Kingsward Road, Moseley(?),
Kings Norton, Worcester. The (?) indicates difficulty deciphering the
handwriting. John was described as "Retired Inspector of Army Schools" and
as an "Army pensioner". His age at death is given as 69 years
which puts his birth date as about 1822. Bridget was described as a "Widow
of Sub Inspector of Army Schools". Her age was 69 years giving a
birth date of about 1820. The informant of the death in both cases was
Mary E. Little, probably the daughter of John and Bridget. (Interestingly,
our mother's name was Mary Elizabeth Little). I found a listing for a
J. Little – Army Schools – Army List August 1885) at www.1837OnLine,
The John Little we are looking for would have been a pensioner by then,
but I have no idea whether or not he would have been on such a list
in that case. The site was expensive to access and I took no further
action. Agnes (Nail's
sister) gave me a copy of a Family Tree she obtained from Ernie
Little of Victoria, Australia, dated 11 January 2003. (Neil's note:
I did not know this.) This gives the birth of John as 1846 and of Bridget
as 1849 and a marriage date of 1866, all taking place in Ireland. The
children were just listed as "son, son, daughter, son". I wrote
to Ernie Little but got no reply. Assuming the marriage date was correct
then they must have left for Canada soon after. I have not been able
to confirm that Earnest Augustus (EAL) was born at sea but a query
on the internet elicited a response that there is a record of EAL being
baptised in Montreal, June 1866, and an Arthur Edmond Little in 1867. The
1886 year of birth of EAL ties in with the ages he gave on the three
marriage certificates I have. To Sarah Jane Postings, 1892, Rose Elizabeth
Barrett, 1895, and to Mary Storie, 1907. (Neil: I didn't about the first
wife.) As you can see from these rather scrappy notes there are some
facts and anomalies to be sorted out. For instance, from the death certificates
of John and Bridget their ages at the time of EAL's birth they were 42
and 46 respectively and there were still tree more children to come!
I just hope I am not confusing two separate Little families.
(Neil: Do you have any
30 May 2007
Hello, My great-grandfather is recorded as having been an Inspector
of Army Schools in the 19th Century. His surname was Little. My Grandfather,
Ernest Little, was born at sea on the way to Montreal. He seems to
have been a bit of a black sheep, perhaps working his passage to New
Zealand in the 1875(?) He is thought to have come from Ireland,
and we are inclined to think that his father, the inspector, might have
been an English civil-servant stationed in Ireland. We have never been
able to define what an Inspector of Army Schools' duties were ...
for the children of Army personnel, or for the military themselves.
Your interesting data is the first time we have found a lead. Do you
have any suggestions that might help us delve further?
30 May 2007
Neil, Yes, your inquiry sounds interesting and there are possibilities.
We might well have your g-grandfather's name on record [that depends
on how far my colleague has got in transcribing the registers and records].
I am passing your inquiry to Peter Goble who is working on the documents
of the Normal School. You may expect to hear from him shortly. Meanwhile,
this subject being of immense interest to us, if you have any further
information, photographs or records on your forebear we should appreciate
copies of them for our records.
31 May 2006
Neil, I must assume that as your grandfather was born in 1875, then
his father will have been approx 27 years old (to marry, a soldier
had to ask permission from his commanding officer and, if younger than
25, permission was rarely given. This places your GGF between 1845
and 1849, just outside of the available records. I have access to records
from 1849-1851 and 1853-1859, plus the census for the RMA 1840-1901.
I have not been able to find a trainee schoolmaster with the name of
LITTLE. As he will have married after 1839, then a Marriage certificate
should be available via the St Catherine's indexes at the PRO. This will
indicate his Regiment at the time of his marriage. With this information you
will be able to check the muster Rolls of this Regiment to discover
more. If you have any details re your GGF, date of birth, names and
possible Regiment, I may be able to direct you a further with your
1 May 2007
Thanks for your emails, both. I have asked my sisters who live in
the Wellington if they can throw more light on this subject. It appears
that the g-g-f's name was John Little as shown on his son Ernest Little's
marriage certificate as being a sub-inspector of Army schools in Ireland.
John Little's wife was named. Bridget. Ernest Augustus Little is now
said to have been born in Montreal in 1867. We had understood him to
have been born at sea while his parents were on the way to Montreal.
Then we discovered that Ernest Little may have come to NZ as an assisted
immigrant in the late 1800s. My mother, his first child, was born in
1896. There is a family story that Ernest Little's brother was a clergyman
at a boys' school in London during WW1. A second child, Sidney,
was a soldier in WW1. If I find further information I'll forward it
to you. Thanks again for your interest and helpful suggestions.
1 June 2007
Neil, I have had a response from the Nat Archives, Kew. Bad news I'm
afraid. It is too difficult for them to find the 20 landscape pages
for July and December of each year 1859-1868, within the 20 minutes
employing a researcher to do the task is too expensive. I cannot continue
with this next ledger. Should you wish to pursue the matter the ledger
is WO143/48 Normal School Letter Book.
24 June 2007
Sir, I am a vintage car enthusiast and Calthorpe car owner and have
found the entry shown below entered on your web site. I am always on
the look out for information and details relating to Calthorpe and was
wondering if it would be possible for you to put
me in touch with Mr Goble?
Calthorpe car web site entry: 14 September 2006:
Miss Colthup, I am transcribing the admission ledgers of the RMA from
1803 to 1926. Two CALTHORPES were admitted. Details in the ledger are
attached as a PDF file. I would be interested in any further information
that you hold re these two boys. My main interest is in the CALTHORPE
Car, my father had one and I have several photos. I am hoping that
these two boys may well have been involved in the 1920-30 era in creating
this classic motor car.
24 June 2007
Steven, You've reached across the Atlantic in your quest for information
on the Caltorpe car. I've passed your enquiry on to my colleague, Peter
Goble. I've no doubt he'll contact you. In any case, you now have his
contact info on the cc line.
25 June 2007
I am a Scout Leader with the 35th/37th Toronto Scout Group in downtown
Toronto. We are investigating our Group’s history because 2007
is the centenary year of Scouting in Canada. In one of our boxes of
historic documents I came across a memorial service card for the late
Captain Trumball Warren who was killed in action during WWI. I have
no idea what, if any, connection he had with our Scouting Group so
I did a Google search on his name and came to your site. I do not know
if you are interested or not, but I scanned the Service Card and have
attached it as a pdf file. Please feel free to do as you wish with
it. If you know of any connection between Capt. Warren and Scouting
in Canada I would be pleased to hear from you.
35th /37th Toronto Scout Group
26 June 2007
Kevin, Thank you for the Order of Service copy for Captain Warren's
remembrance service. I regret to tell you that I cannot offer you any
information regarding Captain Warren's connection with the scouting movement
in Canada. Two of his letters written from the Western front were included
in the Mavor collection, in two bound volumes, collected, collated and
bound by Prof. Mavor of U of T. The collection is now in the possession
of his descendent. All I can tell you about Captain Warren, apart from
his service in the 46th Highlanders, is that he obviously came from a
well-connected Toronto family and that he served on a board of directors
before enlisting for military service. To investigate his connection
with the Canadian scouting movement, I'd suggest a check with, first,
the 48th Highlanders of Toronto, who should have the regimental records
in their museum. Secondly, it is a fair assumption that the Toronto newspapers
of the day would have an in memoriam notice of his death, probably published
somewhere between May and July of 1915. [He was killed 15 April 1915.]
If notice of his death was published, it is fairly certain it would contain
his connection with the city as well as other biographical details. The
University of Toronto library and City of Toronto library would be a
good places to start. Sorry I cannot be of more help.
4 June 2007
John Chapman, a Gunner in the Royal Artillery was my wife's gg Grandfather,
born c1823 in Leicestershire. He married a Sarah Adnams around 1846-50.
They had a son, William J Chapman, born c 1851 in Halifax, N. America.
In the 1861 census he and the family are back in the UK in Woolwich.
Presumably he was on a posting to Canada with the RA around 1851. In
the 1871 census, Sarah Chapman was married to a Henry Stokes, so I
can only assume that John Chapman died or was killed sometime in the
1860s. Would you have any information on J. Chapman's army career etc.
or be able to point me in the right direction?
4 June 2007
Brian, Thanks for the contact. Unfortunately we concentrate on the
boys admitted to the two Military Schools. It may be helpful in your
research if you enroll to the British Regiments list at Yahoo. There
are many members and there must be at least one that specializes in
the Royal Artillery. There are also the muster rolls at the National
Archives. You could try RG42, also at the National Archives, Kew
Royal Hibernian Military School
17 June 2007
Sir/Madam, I am researching the move of the RHMS in 1924. Due to enemy
action, the admission & discharge ledgers were destroyed in 1942.
I have examined WO143/27 RHMS Alpha Index Discharge ledger circa
1840 to 1918; WO143/26 RHMS Alpha Index Discharges after September
1924 including DYRMS discharges 1906 to 1958; WO143/78 RHMS
Chronological admissions 1847-1877; WO143/79 RHMS Chronologic
admissions 1877-1907; WO143/70 DYRMS Alphabetic Index admits
1907-1958 including RHMS admits 1924
I also have a copy of a last parade state of some 250 boys. These
were admitted to the DYRMS on the 5 Sept 1924 including 12 who it seems
must have stayed there for the summer holidays, being admitted in July.
There is no mention in PROCAT, in the WO143/70 section of a Alpha
Index ledger covering the period 1907 to 1958. For some reason,
the RHMS is mentioned in PROCAT under WO /43, but this segment covers
the War office correspondence to approx 1860.
The next logic approach to this problem may well be in the War Office
files in the 1922-1925 era covering the build up and subsequent move
to Dover in 1924. As a retired soldier, I am well aware of the need
of the Military to construct a mass of data, Nominal Rolls, passenger
lists, troop movement and the planning needed to move some 400 boys,
staff & equipment
from Dublin to Shorncliffe. There may well have been some mention in
Mansard during those years. Can you help in locating a possible source
of information re the move of the School? I have been in contact with
the Bursar of the DYRMS, I have been informed that there
are no records of the boys being there, all was sent to the Archives
pre 1942. Your help with this problem would be appreciated.
21 June 2007
Mr Goble, Thank you for you enquiry concerning records of the movement
and disbandment of the Royal Hibernian Military School. A brief search
on the National Archives online Catalogue using the search term "Royal
Hibernian Military School" has brought to light only the following reference:
HO 267/346 Royal Hibernian Military School: army funds not
to be used to replace with other institution 1922 Dec-1923 Jan.
A search for "Duke of York's Royal Military School" within
WO 32 produced the following references:
WO 32/13508 ARMY SCHOOLS AND INSTRUCTIONAL ESTABLISHMENTS: Duke
of Yorks Royal Military School (Code 34L): Formation of Upper
WO 32/13509 ARMY SCHOOLS AND INSTRUCTIONAL ESTABLISHMENTS: Duke
of Yorks Royal Military School (Code 34L): Review of Upper School
WO 32/14796 ARMY SCHOOLS AND INSTRUCTIONAL ESTABLISHMENTS:
Duke of Yorks Royal Military School (Code 34L): Revision of Royal
WO 32/14797 ARMY SCHOOLS AND INSTRUCTIONAL ESTABLISHMENTS:
Duke of Yorks Royal Military School (Code 34L): Appointment of Director
of Military Training as a Commissioner 1927.
It is possible but by no means guaranteed that these records might
contain material on the transfer of the RHMS etc. as the cataloguing
does not always reflect the complete content of the piece but rather
sometimes either the first item or the largest or most significant
item. I would suggest that you examine the catalogue for record series
WO 32 War Office: Registered Files and for WO 143 to see if it
is possible that relevant records or information might be contained
in other documents such as reports or minutes for the years in question.
Although it is entirely possible that a number of records were created
in relation to the RHMS it is also possible, given the requirements
of records management, that these records were not amongst those selected
for preservation and do not survive.
Neil G Cobbett
Reader Information Services Department
27 June 2007
Sir, May Mackenzie at Shropshire Records passed your enquiry to me at
the KSLI museum (across the road!). We are the museum of the 53rd Foot
(Shropshire) Regt. from 1755, the 85th Light Infantry from 1759, the
KSLI to 1968 and also of the Shropshire
Yeomanry, Rifle Volunteers, T. A., Militia and Artillery. Generally,
we do not have personal records - for post 1924 they are still in closed
MOD archives in Kentigern House, Brown St., Glasgow; for pre-1924 (as
I'm sure you know) surviving personal files are in the National Archives
under WO.97 (pre 1913) or WO. 363 or 364 for 1914-18. However, we do
have a small run of attestation books for c.1925-40 which can sometimes
offer a few sentences or facts.
In these cases, we really need the soldier's regimental number- they
are filed by number. I managed to find Walsh - the hard way - and to
give you some idea of how brief the details can be, his full entry is
simply: Walsh, Cecil Vincent. Enlisted 1.8.31, Regular service. [Battalion
not stated but probably 2nd]. Discharged from KSLI 25.3.1937 on transfer
into Army Education Corps. Regtl. number 4031516.
Peter Duckers, Curator
Shropshire Regtl. Museum.
27 June 2007
Peter, Thank you for your response. Although minimal, it proves
to be a direct line from the Hibernian Military School to the Army Education
Corps. Your supplying his Army number and transfer date are certain an
unexpected bonus. Thank you. My interest in Walsh, is that he was the
last of the Royal Hibernian Military School boys to leave the School
in 1931. We, that is Art Cockerill and, I are preparing an article for
the DYRMS web site covering the last days of the school, this will also link
directly to our current project, the Corps of Army Schoolmasters & The
Army Education Corps. The Army Education Corps records pre 1890 are extremely
poor, I work hand in glove with the Curator of the Adj General Corps
Museum, and have a copy of their Schoolmaster data base to 1950, but
many names are missing, including Walsh. However I hope to be able to
follow this new lead. I will keep you informed of my discoveries
and forward details of any subsequent article that we produce, also,
details of all the KSLI connections at both schools.
4 June 2007
What a thrill to find your web site with all the information and especially
the pictures of the D.Y.R.M. School. My Father and my Uncle went to
the School. My Uncle Arthur Michael Keegan joined 3-January 1896 to
7-Sept 1899. His registered Number was 10839. He returned to civil
life. My Father Bertie James Keegan, joined the School 9-December 1898
to 2 July 1903 his Reg. Number was 11239. I have obtained the School
documents for both of them. My Father joined the Royal Field Artillery
at Portsmouth on the same day he left the school, 2 July 1903. I have
a small collection of badges and buttons to the School of which I am
very Proud. We are 5 Generations in the Military starting with my Grandfather (That's
correct) who served, and was wounded at the battle of Inkerman, in the
Crimea, with the 88th Foot The Connaught Rangers, and after served on
the staff of the Permanent Militia, 21 years 59 days. Discharged as Sgt-Major
with the 3rd Admin. Bn. Durham Rifle Volunteers. This is why Grandmother
Keegan was able to enroll the Boys in the D.Y. School. I am looking forward
to hearing from you and once again Thank You for all the information..
Do you have any artifacts from the school?. If you wish I could send
you photo copies of my collections. Hoping to hear from you soon
26 June 2007
I am seeking more details regarding my great-grandfather (John Sharples)
putting two sons (James and Jonas Sharples) in the RMA September
8, 1860 than was contained on the .pdf file on the website. Any
26 June 2007
John, You have as much detail that is available at the National Archives.
Your next step is to write to Lt Col R Say: Bursar: The Duke of York's
School. Dover. Kent. CT15 5EQ. Ask if there is any detail re your relatives
in the school archives. You will need to enter as much detail as you
know. Names, Parents. Father's Regiment. Date of Admission & Discharge,
and most importantly, your relationship to the two boys. i.e.. My Grand
father and Great Uncle. I think that the school closes for the Summer
Holiday on the 7th July. I can't guarantee that there are records existing,
but enquirers to 1823 have been fortunate.
5 June 2007
(Continuing corresp) Peter, many thanks for your extra help. I will
let you know what we turn up, particularly if it is Pemberton linked. We
feel sure that this Sarah O'Malley is our ancestor, arriving 14 May 1849
in Port Phillip Bay (now Melbourne & a mile or so from where I live
between the lake & the sea). I have been advised by a local Portland
expert that she took the brig. Raven to Portland Bay from Port Phillip
Bay (where some of the girls found work) to take up a position with James
Allison, Law Clerk, Postal Master, etc. His father was Edward Allison
who was Superintendent Surgeon on the Shackamaxon; the family settled in
Portland & James' sisters ran a school. You are right, Sarah & the
two Bowen/Bohan girls were not in the RHMS contingent. They were
from Queen's District & Roscrae Tipperary, & all had to have
been in the workhouse for a year to qualify for the passage - no free
rides for those poor girls!
The Forlorn Hope has proved helpful for another ancestor, so I will
return to it when I have finished this semester's assignments for a Master
in Library & Information Management - I've only been in a library, the
Victoria Barracks' Melbourne Library a few months - what was I thinking?
Kindly, Professor Trevor McClaughlin has provided several email/web leads & his
book Barefoot & Pregnant? so I'll be letting you know what I discover;
also for your records as a clue for those who come after us! There
is apparently an Australian Irish Famine Orphan newsletter for relatives & interested
parties, but I haven't had a reply to my email yet.
PS You might like to search Irish Famine Orphan Memorial Williamstown,
Victoria to see a commemorative photo. Have not yet been able to
see it myself, but it's just around the Bay from me.
2 June 2007
Hello, I am a retired Chief Superintendent of Police having served
in the Northern Rhodesia Police prior to Zambian Independence and in
Hong Kong from 1965 to my own retirement in 1996. I am now the guardian
of a Chinese Temple and garden - previously a Hakka nunnery - in Hong
Kong SAR, China. I have read your correspondence with Nicholas
Sillitoe of Norway concerning his grandfather, Sir Percy Sillitoe.
I am interested in leaning more of Percy Sillitoe's life in Africa
as the record shows that he served in both the BSAP and the NRP. The
records do not show that he had a Bemba consort, a son who served with
distinction in the KAR [?] and grandchildren who retain his name in
Zambia. I have a friend who knows at least one of these Zambian grandchildren
very well and I have seen some of the correspondence between them on
the subject of Sir Percy. Can you tell me any more about Percy's early
life, and most importantly, whether Nicholas in Norway knows about,
or wishes to know about his relations in Zambia. I must admit that
I have not yet read either your book or Percy's.
4 June 2007
As you have read the correspondence with Nicolas Sillitoe, there is
no point in my revisiting it. What you write of Percy's Sillitoe's Bemba
consort is news, but it comes as no surprise to me. Before I continue
I must note that I wrote the Sillitoe biography more than thirty years
ago (1977), so I now write entirely from memory. I have no knowledge
of Nicolas Sillitoe's interest in his grandfather's life, early or otherwise
for the reason already given. In my view, Sillitoe was a good man, a
successful policeman, an imaginative and a dedicated public servant.
His grandson wrote asking for information. This I was willing to provide,
but his petulance led me to discontinue the correspondence; a pity as
there was more to tell.
That said, and to now make public what
was known and speculated thirty years ago, it is a matter of significance
that might be hard to quantify. You need to acquire a copy of the biography
to understand the detail regarding his medical problems, for example. This
is available on the secondhand book market for about $25. There is much in
the book for anyone with an inquiring mind to discover and speculate.
For instance, in his autobiography, Cloak
with dagger, Sillitoe said that while stationed at Victoria Falls he contracted
rheumatic fever in one knee, which swelled to the size of a football and was
excruciatingly painful for weeks. An itinerant priest gave him a supply of
aspirin, which helped quell the pain. Following weeks of agony, the swelling
subsided and he was able to continue on 'his appointed rounds'. What he didn't
reveal - and what struck me as anomalous - is that rheumatic fever affects
all the joints: ankles, knees, elbows et al. So, if Sillitoe's problem wasn't
rheumatic fever, what was it? I consulted a number of medical friends and authorities
[long before Google came into existence]. Dr. Jack Leeson [Thank you, anyway – Doctor]
provided the most convincing explanation. If Sillitoe in a physically
active youth suffered an injury, which he did from a kick in some sport,
the cartilage might have been damaged. Had he later contracted an infection,
bacteria being washed out in the blood stream could have lodged in
the cartilage of the bruised knee and settled in for a long stay. We
know Sillitoe suffered increasing pain in his knee throughout his life,
which eventual turned to cancer of the bone from which he died. It
was a convincing argument. The editor agreed, but we decided not to
pursue this because, at that time, the trashing of well-known public
figures was rife. According Richard Sillitoe, Sir Percy's second son,
his father kept four large photographs of Bemba maidens on the mantelpiece
and declared them to be of artistic value and would not allow them
to be removed. They certainly were handsome young women, each one posed
in the same place, which was in the doorway of a grass hut. Propped
against door frame was a bicycle, presumably a police constable's machine.
Close inspection of the photographs confirmed that all four shots were
taken at the same dwelling. This led to the conjecture that Sillitoe
not only had a healthy artistic interest in photography, but enjoyed
a relationship with one or more of his Bemba friends.
please tell me what you can about his descendents in Africa. Most interesting.
I look forward to hearing from you.
4 June 2007
Art, I am sorry to hear that Nicholas Sillitoe was not mature enough
to handle the information you were prepared to give him. I assumed
from your correspondence that you already knew of Sir Percy's African
family. Amazing what the head of MI5 could keep secret for so long!
Since I wrote my first message to you, I have learned from African
grandson Harry, through a mutual friend, that as a result of my sending
Nicholas' web-site to the African family, contact has now been made
between the African Sillitoes and the English ones. Apparently Nicholas had asked them
to have a DNA test, but when the African grandson Percy, went to UK last
year  to attend a wedding, he met with English granddaughter Sue
at a very typically English afternoon tea. She found the Sillitoe likeness
so striking she said a DNA test was not necessary. She was described
as being very gracious to the young black Percy and the afternoon ended
with hugs and kisses. I will ask if Harry, my friend's Sillitoe correspondent,
will allow me to send you his email message which explains how Sir
Percy's son was treated after his birth, sent to a good school and
urged to keep the name Sillitoe. It would be interesting to know if
any of the photographs on Sir Percy's mantelpiece were of his Bemba
As to Percy's swollen knee, I would be inclined to keep a very open
mind on the cause of this. There are still many strange afflictions that
one can get in Africa, which are completely unknown to modern medicine.
I myself caught a strange form of malaise whilst on sick leave in Nyasaland
recovering from Yellow Jaundice. On returning to Lusaka - all my
joints seized up and I developed a fever. It was never properly diagnosed
then, but it eventually cleared up. I later discovered on the internet
that I had contracted a bout of O Nyong Nyong - a mosquito-born malady,
which has since been shown to have been prevalent on Lake Nyasa when
I was there. As for things that may result in cancer - a good friend
of mine was bitten on the hand by a cobra and had to have brain surgery
to survive. He much later died of Brain cancer. The itinerant priest
who gave Percy the aspirins may well have been one of the many Roman
Catholic White Fathers who were present in the two Rhodesias, quinine
would have been amongst their medicine chest goodies. The ones that
I met all carried a small box with two little black or grey stones wrapped
in cotton wool. These if applied to a snake or insect bite would
adhere to the open wound and could absorb the poison and save the life
of the victim. I still have one such stone in my possession -
what it is made of I have yet to discover. Polio was also a hazard
in Central Africa - and an ex-NR Police colleague of mine is on crutches
and calipers to this day as a result of that.
Ex-members of the BSAP in what was Southern Rhodesia and those of us
from Northern Rhodesia are proud of the record of Sir Percy Sillitoe
- his rise to head of MI5 is quite an epic story. Its a pity that
his liaison with an African woman was regarded as such a taboo that it
was necessary to keep it hidden all his life. My colleague, Tim Wright
who wrote the History of the Northern Rhodesia Police was also unaware
of Percy's African family although he did hear of the African family
with that name whilst in NR. There is an entirely new story to be told
about the history of the many descendants of some of the early white
men in Africa and their often secret liaisons with African women. Some
to be proud of and others to be ashamed of.
5 June 2007
Ron, Fascinating news! Thanks for an interesting and absorbing read.
Percy Sillitoe's African family is astonishing news to me, quite new
and, I'm sure, to many familiar with his life. His African descendents
share the same experience as the African descendents of Thomas Jefferson,
third President of the United States and principal author of the American
Declaration of Independence. Only within the past few years have they
been acknowledged as equal descendents of that remarkable man.
It's lovely to know that Sillitoe's African grandson Percy met with
his English relative, the granddaughter Sue and found ready acceptance
in that branch of the family. As for Nicolas Sillitoe's asking for DNA
proof of paternity descendancy, that strikes me as well in keeping with
his nature as I've read it, but the less said on that topic the better.
Sillitoe was a public figure. Public interest in the minutiae of the
lives of people of his stature goes with the territory. You and I share
with many an admiration for his life and accomplishments. I have yet
to come across another police chief who was not only the scourge of criminals
large and small, but as dedicated to the welfare and interests of those
who worked under him. [Can you imagine any police chief today committing
criminals to a mental institution until they agreed to go straight? I
laughed when I got proof of this Sillitoe solution to the rampant criminality
in Glasgow during the 1930s.]
I should be very much interested in an account of Sillitoe's African
son's growing-up experience. It would make a wonderful story, especially
if photographs and related material on the African branch of the family
were available. It is an important story, a compelling one and should
be made public, for Sillitoe was much admired in his day. Mind you,
I think he got sucked into - what today we would call – a corporate
scam. I refer to the De Beers diamond-smuggling investigation he headed
after he left MI5. It's not generally known that Fleming's only non-fiction
work, The Diamond Smugglers, was part of the De Beer's dodge to protect
its monopolistic interests. Also, of course, it was Sillitoe who inspired
Fleming's second Bond novel Diamonds are forever. In the biography
I dealt with the investigation in some detail, pointing out that Fleming's
map of diamond-smuggling routes was bogus and his account one of creative
reporting, but it failed to grab the attention of the national press.
Regarding Sillitoe's 'rheumatic' knee, you might well be right in your
open-minded explanation of the possibilities. My attitude towards it
is as non-judgmental as it was thirty years ago. In any case, the decision
not to speculate as to the most probable cause of his wonky knee was
the right one.
You mention the photographs on the mantelpiece of the Sillitoe home
during his lifetime. I have no knowledge of the identity of the young
women photographed. I'm familiar with some of the tribes of East African,
but not those of Zambia or Zimbabwe. The photographs were supplied
to me by Richard Sillitoe, who died a couple of years ago in Hamilton,
Ontario. I returned them to him with the other documents and letters
he had supplied. I've no idea what happened to them when his estate
got into the hands of the executors. We kept in touch for a few years.
He died a bachelor as far as I know. He had no known relatives in Canada.
Richard struck me as a lonely and troubled man, in an out of security-related
jobs like a Jack-in-the-box. Nor was his childhood a happy one. He
was a well-mannered, gracious, pleasant man and very likeable.