Picture by Rupert Fox from a design by Michael William Alabaster

 

The Alabaster Chronicle 

The Journal of the Alabaster Society 


 
NUMBER NINE,  AUTUMN 1997 

Contents


Editorial

by Laraine Hake - March 1997 

The character of this Alabaster Chronicle is not so much of Alabasters past as of Alabasters present; but the happenings of today are tomorrow's history, so here are the details of some history in the making!

Since this is the ninth Alabaster Chronicle, t'would appear that four years have elapsed since the Society was started - eight since we commenced the planning for the first Gathering. That is history in itself. Eight years ago, I had not thought I would be corresponding with other Alabasters directly from my computer, but now new Alabasters and members are being found via the Internet and I correspond with various members, new and old, through this medium. The Alabaster Society even has its own Website! The address is on the inside front cover. If you have access to the Internet, do visit it and, pleeeease, sign the visitors' book!!! (You will make me very happy!)

I am sad to report that my very own Uncle Alf Oram, son of Adeline Bertha Alabaster, (IIA), died 28th June. He, it was, who wrote about his own "Uncle Sid" in the last Alabaster Chronicle, and stirred me to contact Tricia Dyer, nee Alabaster, granddaughter of Sidney Herbert. Uncle Alf had attended, and thoroughly enjoyed, each Alabaster Gathering. He will be sadly missed. Also Ernest Thomas Alabaster, (WofW) father of Brian, died in Australia on 17th September.

"A Quintet of Alabasters", the book that Adrian Alabaster (IIA) has been researching for several years, is about to be published; fuller details appear on pages 10 and 11. There will be a limited print-run of the book so it would be useful if we could have some indication of the possible interest in buying a copy. With no commitment whatsoever, please complete the relevant section of the enclosed renewal form. Mentioning the enclosed form, brings me to the point where I can conveniently remind you that this is the first of the two Chronicles covered by subscriptions for the year 1st September 1997 to 31st August 1998. If you have not already renewed, please would you do so ASAP! Note also, we have been able to reduce the price of back-copies of the Chronicle to £1 each, plus p&p, so do feel free to order these on the same form.

During the last half-year, I have continued to dig for Alabasters. Once again, I have been grave-digging (or gravestone-digging) with Peter Alabaster (WofW), with some success; I have also been digging for Alabaster information at Public Record Office, Kew, with less success, but I did hit upon some amazing information for Shirley Rowe about her Ashdown ancestors, and all because I had ordered the wrong box! It's an ill-wind...................!

I wish all of you, dear friends and relations, a happy 1998! Thank you for the letters, telephone calls and emails. Please keep them coming in!

Laraine Hake September 1997
To Contents


News from Around the World

Pauline Alabaster (WofW) 28th March 1997:
Our second grandson arrived on 12th March - his name is COEN, the second child for our son Mark and his partner Christine Evans. Mark said his name is Aborigine - bit of a change from Welsh Rhys!

Tricia Dyer (IIA) 4th May 1997:
I was really pleased to get your letter and enclosure. ............As you suspected I was very interested in "Uncle Sid's visit". Made me laugh. He was quite a character.........................I always remember him with affection, although I was quite young. He was a great tease and used to tell me that there was a huge box of chocolates strapped under his car, or a coach and horse outside. I was always disappointed when I found there was not!! He is said to haunt the building where he and my father had offices............... In the Chronicle I was struck by the likeness of Adeline to my Grandfather and also my Aunt, Irene.
I was delighted to re-establish contact with Tricia, granddaughter of "Uncle Sid" from Alabaster Chronicle Number Eight. Tricia's lyrical tribute to the Alabaster name is on page 9. My father and she are second cousins, although they have never met, or been aware of each other's existence until now. We are hoping to remedy the former in the near future! LH

Nancy Findlater Cutway of Kingston, Ontario, Canada:
My 13th-great-grandmother was Elizabeth Alabaster who married John Allen (b abt 1538, Thaxted, Co Essex, d 1 Dec 1572). Their granddaughter Jane Allen was first wife of Rev.Peter Bulkeley of Bedfordshire and Concord, Mass. So my Alabaster connection is remote, but I'd love to find more about Elizabeth's parents.

R. Clifford Alabaster (IIIA) 22nd July 1997:
A friend who trained in Arizona with the RAF in about 1943 is trying to trace an R. Alabaster (not another one, you might well say!) who was there at the same time. He would now be aged 70 - 74 . I wonder if you would put a note in the next issue of the Chronicle, please.
I was able to establish that, sadly, Reginald Alabaster, gt grandson of Thomas & Sarah Letitia (IIA), died in Scotland in1944, aged 21, on War Service. LH

Elisa Alabaster (IIC) 30th July 1997:
Thanks for your suggestion to check out the Alabaster Society website. It's certainly interesting to know that someone is out there doing research and keeping the family in touch. In fact, I'm an Alabaster by marriage to Richard Alabaster of Whangerei, New Zealand. Some aunt of his was contacted about the family reunion in '92 or '93, but that's all he's heard about your efforts. Now we live in France and so may get a chance at some point to go back to the family roots in England.
It turns out that Richard is the son of Grenville David Alabaster, of New Zealand cricketing fame, and the "aunt" is our own Molly Duffy who came over from New Zealand for the first Gathering in 1990. I am pleased to say that Elisa and Richard, who live in France, have now joined the Society! LH

Robin Alabaster 31st July 1997:
We now have a grandson, James George, born to Christopher and Jo on 25 July '97 4.55 p.m. 7lb 14oz. 27th July 1997.

John Alabaster (R.W.J. Alabaster, Branch IIIA):
Hi Laraine, It's amazing what the Internet will turn up! Yes it's true I am another Alabaster and yes you know Dad. R.C.Alabaster of Guildford. Good bit of sleuthing around, WELL DONE! I've only been on the Internet for a couple of weeks but it seems to be growing at such a great pace so I suppose it's worth checking for new Alabasters every month or so, you're bound to pick up on a few more so good luck on that AND I'll be looking at the home page AND signing it!!! Hopefully that will bring a smile to Suffolk. In case my father hadn't mentioned it to you there are two more Alabasters in Hong Kong you may not know about. My wife and daughter. My wife is Suzanne born Suzanne CHIN in 1963 and daughter Kimberley-Anne Alabaster born 31st Dec last year 1996. My father sometimes forgets some of these details. If there are any other bits 'n' bobs you need to keep records up to date I'll be happy to help if I can. Kindest regards    

Virginia Bird (IIC) 27th July:
Dear Laraine, Just called Bangkok to make sure about Uncle Siddhi's Birthday ... Born in Bangkok ..... 7 January 1919 .... or the Thai year 2462 !!! year of the Ram ... which makes him 78 years old. I definitely want a copy of "the book" ... please put me down ! Has R.W.J. replied your e-mail yet ? He's not far away from where we live !!! If he does ... please let me know and I'll give him a call ! This is exciting ! Will check the HK phone book as well and let you know. Ginny    :-)
I had emailed Ginny in an attempt to ascertain her uncle's age, a detail needed for Adrian's book! It amazes me how small the world has become. LH

Beryl Neumann, Sydney, Australia (IIA) 27th June 1997:
Dare we mention anything from pre-Hadleigh? Here I was sitting on the beach - Hans was fishing - and lo! and behold! my eyes spotted the following article from a magazine that was left in our motel room.
 

WOOL GATHERING AT WORSTEAD

    Although worsted is a famous name in the clothing industry. it is probably less well-known that this world renowned wool fabric originates in the village of Worstead, (spelt with an a) in Norfolk. Inside the 14th century Parish Church are the looms that are still used by the ladies of St Marys Guild of Weavers who are dedicated to carrying on the traditions of their predecessors. The fleece door curtain was made by them from the wool of long haired sheep which was spun and dyed by members of the Guild.
    Near the Church are several weavers' houses. The weaving was always done in the home, each house having its own cellar with wooden beams overhead where the wool was hung in a cool temperature. The Flemish weavers came to Worstead from the Continent during the reign of Henry III bringing new methods and expertise which was not always appreciated. They had fled their own country's persecutors and were issued with letters of protection from England's King but even so they were often attached or had their looms broken by malicious villagers jealous of their success.
    Despite all this, the Worsted Industry flourished. Nearby Norwich became in the words of a scribe at the time, the most fluential city in all England by means of this trade in worsted, friezes and other woollen manufacturing.
    The difference between Worsted cloth and other woollens was that the wool yarn was firm and smooth and set into its weave by scouring, so that the pattern showed clearly, unlike other varieties of woollen cloth. The wool itself came from the different breeds of long haired sheep such as Southdown, Suffolk and White Welsh. The Worstead Festival originally launched to raise money for the Church repairs has now been running since 1975 and is held annually in July. But even at ordinary times Worstead is worth a visit - particularly if you want to do a bit of peaceful wool.

Although I read this on the beach in the sunshine, I immediately got a cold shiver going down my spine and many memories flooded back.

Beryl and Hans visited Worstead whilst in England for the first Alabaster Gathering in 1990. [Beryl did not say if the magazine was Australian or British, so my apologies to whoever wrote the original article!] In case anybody is unaware of it, the name Arblaster was in evidence in Worstead until the 16th century; in fact the name Balistarious appears in the Domesday survey of Worstead in 1086 (see Alabaster Chronicle Number One) The inscription on the screen in Worstead church, erected 1512, shows that John Alblastyr and his wife were connected with it, according to "Suffolk and Norfolk" by M.R. James. An existing document dated 1562, which I found in the Public Record Office some years ago, shows Thomas Alabaster of Hadleigh (c1522-1592) laying claim to land in Worstead, which appears to prove the Worstead/Hadleigh connection! LH

To Contents


History in the Making

"Ginny" is Virginia Bird, a member of Branch IIC, great granddaughter of Henry Alabaster "of Siam"(1836-1884) and his Siamese/Thai wife. Ginny was born in Thailand but now lives in Hong Kong. This is a copy of the email that she sent to me, and to friends around the world, immediately after Hong Kong was transferred back to China this summer. Maybe it should have been included in my Letters Page, but I thought it worthy of being a feature on its own!

The Hand-Over?

I am sure that you have been watching the events of the Historical Hand-Over which was broadcasted live to all corners of the Globe. There were 8,000 media people here ... all of them literally running around Hong Kong with their cameras searching for happenings! At one point they must have been truly desperate as I spotted CNN taking photos of the new PLA Green Mail Box on Queen's Road! Well, more importantly, here are some highlights of our own festivities! We had friends who came from far away.. some of whom I'm sure you know and may recognise although my collage is somewhat blurry ! Capt. Tom & Moana McGlaughlin came in all the way from Honolulu, Alex Kerr from Bangkok, Winston Barrie from Vietnam, Steve Garner from China, Serge Lentz from Paris, Stefanie Powers from LA, Richard Tregaskis from Australia, Pierre Zerdoun from Jakarta, ...and locally we had Jenny Oei, Andrea Gutswirth, Dianne, Peter Sherwood, Dino Asavaintra, Beth, Charles Berzon, Dale Hall, Judith Parkes, EddyBone, Cary Donaldson, Sonia & Remy. Where were you ?!

On June 30th I did the wise thing (considering the rain and all) and organised a Thai dinner at home. Everyone ate too much ! Then we all crowded around the TV to watch the ceremonies live. At 8:15 we dashed up to the roof and viewed the fireworks display which was truly spectacular! At midnight when Prince Charles & Governor Patten sailed away in tears on the Britannia ... and the PLA troops charged across the HK borders with their tanks, etc ... we popped the Champagne and said goodbye to the good old Freedom of HK ! Nothing to be cheerful about really ... but I guess it was just the thing to do ... and no one had any objections to Champagne anyhow ! By 2 am everyone was weary and the party started to wind down. With the heavy rain and the goings-on around town, taxis were not to be found ! We decided to start the distribution of pillows and blankets to the stranded souls! ...Did a 'body count' at roughly 2:30 am .... 10 spent the night !

On July 1st - I organised a boat which took 20 of us out into the heart of HK Harbour to watch the extravagant HK$100 Million fireworks display which blasted from 8 barges, with hundreds of colourful floats, fountains and laser displays from a gigantic "Pearl of China" structure which was constructed in the middle of the Harbour for the occasion. China put on this whole performance with the intention to out-do the Brits the previous night ! They sort of succeeded for the most part, except that a few of the fireworks didn't take off as they had expected due to the constant drizzle which dampened just about everything including the lasers ! Our spirits were not dampened and none of us was bothered by the rain ! Food and booze were plentiful and good times were had by all.

Naturally, in between all of the above, there were teas, lunches and dinners to attend to. Our heads were in a spin most of the time, but miraculously, we managed! Our last house-guests Tom & Moana left for Honolulu yesterday ... we miss them ... and how quiet it is all of a sudden ! Back to reality and work ! Until the next occurrence, we will in the meantime take a much needed 'rest'!!! As far as the changes in HK are concerned ... there is nothing 'visible' to us yet. We're taking everything a day at a time and do hope for the best !

With love, Ginny, Francesco & Marisa 10 July 1997
To Contents


What's in a Name?

              "What's in a name?" Will Shakespeare rhymed.
              Alabaster - that was mine,
              And always proud to own the same,
              But after all, what's in a name?

              Then one day the answer came
              From a cousin called Laraine,
              She had raised a family tree
              And traced it right back down to me.

              A Chronicle, and then a Crest,
              Goodness me, whatever next!
              The Tree revealed some men of fame,
              But after all, what's in a name?

              What Tree is this? - I would believe
              A sturdy Oak, with "shady" leaves,
              And who within its branches hid?
              For one, my Grand-dad, Uncle Sid.

              Names so grand and sounding fine,
              Cordelia and Adeline,
              Christian and Chaloner,
              Which one of these do I prefer?

              Interpreter, explorer bold,
              Clergyman, poet, so I'm told,
              Crossbowman, Captain, Scholar too,
              I'm sure I've only named a few.

              And then the Convict - oh for shame!
              But after all, what's in a name?
              Infamous or men of fame,
              and ALABASTER was their name.

Tricia Dyer, nee Alabaster (IIA)
To Contents


Book Review

"A Quintet of Alabasters" by Adrian Alabaster

Adrian Alabaster (Branch IIA) who has had a long-standing interest in his roots, has now provided us with a fascinating insight into five of his chosen representatives of the Alabaster family. That he has fitted them so tellingly into their historical context is hardly surprising to those who know that, tutored by Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, he took his Degree in Modern History at Oxford (in 1949), taught History at Reigate Grammar School for a substantial part of his life (1960-1982) and was Head of History there for 10 years, and has already published an interesting account of some of his historical researches (1).

Those, like me, who have known him since 1982, when he circulated his questionnaire on the Alabaster family, are fully aware of the meticulous attention he has given to establishing the facts about the people involved in this book and in placing them clearly in their backgrounds. We know, also, that he has collected and shared with us a considerable amount of material on Alabasters in general.

He begins in the Elizabethan period with two very different cousins: Thomas Alabaster, the Merchant, and Dr William Alabaster. This is followed by an introduction to James Chaloner Alabaster (Branch IIC), with an account of two of his three remarkable Victorian sons, Chaloner and Henry. He concludes with Captain R. Clifford Alabaster (Branch IIIA) of World War II fame.

When he describes Chaloner Alabaster's difficulties in learning Chinese, he is writing from his own experience, for he too had to learn the language as Secretary for Chinese Affairs in the Colonial Service in Malaya (1950-1958) - but he would be the last to try to edge himself into any limelight. Urdu was the other language that he says, "broke me out of European speech", when he was a General Staff Officer, Northern Command, Rawalpindi (1942-1946).

His early years in South Africa (he was born there in 1922), gave him a love of cricket - reflected in his being in charge of the sport at Reigate Grammar School for twelve years - and so he was sorely tempted to write of the cricketing Alabasters of New Zealand whose great-grandfather, Charles (the eldest son of James Chaloner) he mentions only briefly, accounts having already been written of him and his wife (2),(3),(4), whilst the cricketing careers of John Chaloner (Jack) and his brother Grenville David (Gren) have also been described (5). No biographies of other Alabasters have yet been published, although there is an account of Percy Criddle, cousin to the three brothers, Chaloner, Henry and Charles, to whom Adrian refers (6), and snippets have also appeared in the account of the first Alabaster Gathering, 21-22 April 1990, and especially in this Journal.

In recent years Adrian's wife, Angela, was able to help with the present work, especially with compiling the chapter on Henry of Siam and in seeing the book through the final publication stage.

The book will be shortly available direct from Able Publishing, 13 Station Road, Knebworth, Herts, SG3 6AP at £8.95, plus £1.50 for package and posting and will make an ideal Christmas present for members of the Alabaster family and others interested in the Elizabethan, Victorian and Modern periods.

John S. Alabaster (Branch I) August, 1997 

1  Alabaster, Adrian (1988) The Lord Admiral from Reigate. An account of the life and achievements of Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham, Baron Effingham. Chapter 4, in "People of Reigate at St Mary's from 1500-1930" Compiled by Audrey Taylor, London, 1988. 23-53.
2  Alabaster, Margaret Alison (1977) Lincoln College Preparatory School. B.A. Research Essay, Canterbury, New Zealand.
3  Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand. Manuscript biography of Rev. Charles Alabaster (1834-1865)
4  Francis, Margaret [nee Margaret Alison Alabaster] (1990) Alabaster, Ann O'Conner, Teacher [wife of Charles Alabaster]. Note for The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Volume One (1769-1869) 4pp University of Auckland Press.
5  Romanos, J. (1992) Great New Zealand Cricket Families: A Celebration. The Alabaster Family, 1-15. Random House, New Zealand
6  Criddle, Alma (1973) Criddle-de-diddle-ensis. A Biographical History of the Criddles of Aweme: Manitoba Pioneers of the 1880's. 288 pp.

To Contents


The Opening of the Guildhall Garden

by Robin Alabaster

On the evening of Wednesday 2nd July, 1997, the Hadleigh Guildhall Garden was officially declared open. The short formal ceremony culminated in an address from Ronald Blythe, a local writer whose best known work is "Akenfield" a tale of Suffolk rural life in the 19th century.
A number of local dignitaries were present, together with Friends of Hadleigh Guildhall and sponsors. Penny Cook, Chairman of the Friends of Hadleigh Guildhall, presented a number of certificates to sponsors in recognition of their contributions. Two "Alabaster" certificates were presented, one to Martin Alabaster (IIB) in recognition of his help with equipment for the water feature, and another to the Society for its financial help towards the Knot Garden.
The garden area is now radically transformed from the 'rubbish tip' seen at our first Gathering into a pleasant, green, peaceful backwater where the visitor is serenaded by the sound of tumbling water and amorous doves.

The Garden

The garden is small, approximately 20m by 25m. It is enclosed on three sides by the building and on the fourth side by the remains of the medieval kitchen. To make weeding easy the garden is divided into small areas:

Knot Gardens: The two small knot gardens are edged in box. The square knot has a bay tree in the centre circled by chives, the outline pattern is santolina and the corners are planted with thyme, sage, marjoram and rue. The larger knot has two gooseberry bushes to give height and the pattern is interlocking circles for box and santolina infilled with balm, pennyroyal, sorrel and feverfew.

Orchard and Pond: Symbolism played an important part in the design of early gardens and water represented the source of life. The pond and fountain are set in a 'orchard'. The fish are purely ornamental but fish would have been kept in large pools as a food source.

Round the pond a cherry, fig, plum and D'Arcy Spice apple have been planted with strawberries as a ground cover.

Other areas of the garden include a Rose Arbour, Sundial Garden, Iris Bed and Paved Area with a maze in decorative brick.

To Contents


Brian Alabaster - Hampton Court Flower Show, 1997

by Robin Alabaster

A visit to this year's Hampton Court Flower Show brought an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Listed amongst the exhibitors was Brian Alabaster, purveyor of life-size lead and bronze figures of children. Brian is the sculptor and the models are from his own and friends' children. Each item is produced in limited editions from lead or bronze based on original clay models. After a life in agriculture, Brian has become a full-time sculptor in a period of about five years.

One work in particular caught my imagination, that of a small boy pond-dipping. It was so reminiscent of my son, Christopher's activities as a small child (incidentally the habit stayed with Christopher, who now manages the tropical fish section of a large local aquatics centre). The model for this particular work was Brian's son Alexander Stammers Alabaster (yes, Brian is the son of one of the Society's co-founders and leading members.) Alex Fishing is now "sold out" and I am waiting to take my delivery of the very last edition in the Autumn.

This particular work also caught the eye of a show-business personality, Cliff Richard, and I assume that his sculpture already resides against his water feature in a rather grander setting than I will be able to provide. Nevertheless, it will be very much appreciated, not only as a work of art but for its dual sense of "family".

Christopher, who already has his own son, James George (born 25 July 1997), has been told that he is the natural heir to the statue and I like to think that it will be residing by another Alabaster pond long after I have departed this life.

To Contents


Postscript to
An Alabaster Family in Bethnal Green

In the previous Alabaster Chronicle, I wrote about the discovery of two pages from a family bible which listed the births and deaths of the infant children of my great grandparents, Thomas and Cordelia Alabaster. Inspired by this basic information, I had researched for more detail and found that

    "in June of 1883, the remaining family of six children were alive and, probably, well. Emily the eldest was nine years old, George was seven, Cordelia six, Alfred was three, Adeline two and Walter, the baby just four months old............On 23rd June 1883, Walter Ambrose, the baby of this family of six children, died. The death certificate records the cause of death as "Violent Shock Scalds Accidental" .............. Just one month later, Alfred Ernest, aged three years and eight months, died. This time the cause of death was "Stomatitis Exhaustion". In less than five weeks the family of six children had become a family of four."

I wrote these words for Alabaster Chronicle Number Eight, and became quite emotionally involved! After all, Adeline, aged two, was my grandmother, responsible for my interest in the Alabaster Family. But there is more.............

In the Evening Standard, Thursday, June 28, 1883, I found the following, under a heading "Inquests Today":Inquest on Walter Ambrose Alabaster

_______

Sir J. Humphreys also held an inquest at the Olive Branch Tavern, Minerva-street, Bethnal-green, on the body of Walter Ambrose Alabaster, aged four (months). Cordelia Victoria Alabaster stated that the Deceased was her son. Up to Wednesday last he was in the usual good health, and she had no reason to expect his death. On that day she left the Deceased in (the) charge of his sister Emily, aged nine years. Whilst nursing him in the doorway at the back of the house, another child pushed her in the back, causing her to stumble forward, and the child's feet and legs went into a pail of hot water. This, Witness believed, caused the child's death. Her daughter has since been at home very ill. At the time the pail was standing in the yard. She believed the occurrence was purely accidental. --- George Alabaster, a child seven years of age, stated that his sister first pushed him, and he pushed her back again, causing the Deceased to fall into the water. He did not intend to hurt him. -- Mary Ann Roper proved that the parents were kind and good to their children. -- Mr Kelshaw, surgeon, stated that when he was called to the Deceased he was suffering from severe scalds, and death resulted from exhaustion consequent on the scalds.-- The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death.

_______

Words fail to describe my feelings on reading this. The accident must have happened on Wednesday June 20th: Ambrose Walter actually died on June 23rd.
Emily and George, who had the childish squabble, and were indeed just children, lived until they were 82 and 81 years respectively.  

Laraine Hake
To Contents


Murderous Assault

January 17th 1880 - "The City Press"

MURDEROUS ASSAULT – GEORGE BARRETT, 47, japaner, was convicted of a murderous assault upon Eliza Alabaster with a chopper, and was sentenced by Mr. Justice Lopes to five years’ penal servitude. Mr. Ribton prosecuted. The prisoner is addition to the assault with the chopper fired at her, but fortunately the bullet by some extraordinary means became fixed in the breech of the revolver, although the cartridge had exploded. This accident prevented the breech revolving.

This interesting article led to the Old Bailey Sessions papers which gives a fuller story.

GEORGE BARRETT (47), Feloniously cutting and wounding Eliza Alabaster with the intent to murder.
Second Count, with intent to do her some grievous bodily harm.

Mr RIBTON Prosecuted

ELIZA ALABASTER. I live at 13, Elwin Street, Bethnal Green Road – the prisoner and his wife and two daughters lived with us about two years and a half – I was in the kitchen on Saturday, 6th December, about 7.30, and the prisoner passed through into the yard; he was not there a second before he came back into the kitchen where I was ironing – he had been wanting an improper intercourse with me for some time, and he closed the door, and said "When may I know you" – I said "Don’t talk to me about such things" – he said "Now or never, you allow that b – b—cow to come near you, you won’t allow me," and struck me on the head – I did not see what with, but I saw a chopper on the table afterwards – the kitchen door is hard to open, and while I was trying to open it he fired – I heard a report, and ran into the parlour, and shut myself in, and his wife and daughter then came down – I am a widow – the police and the doctor were sent for – I lost a good deal of blood from my head.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner. I am sure you fired because I heard the report and saw the smoke – you spoke to me about young Wiltshire, the single man lodger, that is what you meant.

EDWARD BAGLEY. On 6th December, about 8 p.m., I was called by the prisoner’s daughter, aged about 18 – I went to the house and saw the prosecutrix lying on the floor, bleeding from her head – I went a few steps up stairs and met the prisoner coming down – he said "I done it, I done it" – when I went down with him the prosecutrix, who had gone into the kitchen handed me this chopper, and said "This is what he did it with" – the prisoner heard that, but said nothing – on the way to the station he said "Now she has got two single men lodgers in the house she does not want me" – I found these two bullets in his left waistcoat pocket – he asked at the station if the pistol was found – I said "No; where did you put it?" – he said "I throwed it somewhere: I fired one shot, and the next I meant for her, "pointing to his forehead – I believe he was sober – I searched for a bullet mark on the door, but could not find one.

JAMES RUGBY (Police Inspector). The revolver produced was brought to me by the prisoner’s wife – five chambers are loaded, and one had been recently discharged.

GEORGE AYLMER MAJOR. I am a surgeon – I was called, and found the prosecutrix suffering from profuse hemorrhage from a large wound on the scalp, and across the crown of her head – I stopped the bleeding with perchloride of iron, and then dressed the wound – the bone was not injured; it was only laceration of the scalp – this chopper would produce it – it was a clean cut – it must have been inflected with violence, even if an instrument like this had been used.

Cross-examined. When I was dressing the wound I asked the constable whether he had the criminal – you were standing by, holding a basin, and you said "I am the man" and you touched yourself on the breast.

ARTHUR OWEN TYLER I am an iron-bedstead maker – the prisoner has worked for my father for 28 years – I gave him this revolver two or three years ago – it was out of repair, and utterly useless, but he did something to it about two months ago, and I saw it in his possession about six weeks ago – when I gave it to him the barrel was broken – the revolving part did not correspond with the barrel, and it could not be fired – it has been fired since, and the bullet has stuck between the two barrels – it will go off now, but the bullet will stick.

EDWARD BAGLEY (Re-examined) The cartridges fit the chambers, but they are too large for the barrel – the pistol was given to me two days afterwards, and the wife told me that it had been between the beds in the interval – the bullet is still sticking in the breech, and therefore it cannot be fired now – the powder would explode if it were fired now.

The prisoner produced a written defence, stating that the prosecutrix refused to renew her intimacy with him, and that in his excitement he struck her with something, he did not know what. He then intended to shoot himself, but the pistol would not work.

GEORGE AYLMER MAJOR (Re-examined). The wound was well in three weeks – I feared erysipelas taking place – it was only dangerous from loss of blood. It was four and a half inches long – it must have been done with considerable violence, but it had not penetrated the bone because it would require great force even to go through her hair.

GUILTY on the Second Count – Five years Penal Servitude

I checked the 1881 census for 13 Elwin Street, Bethnal Green, which would have been 18 months after this event. Luckily, Eliza Alabaster, boot machinist, aged 40, was still living at this address. With her were various younger relations including her niece, Susan Alabaster, aged 19, her nephew, Frederick Bant, aged 22 and another nephew, Arthur Riches, aged 11. This information enabled me to identify Eliza with certainty. She must have been Eliza Alabaster, nee Ban, the widow of Thomas William Alabaster, son of Thomas and Susan Alabaster (nee Lingley) born in Shoreditch in 1835 (WofW branch). Eliza married Thomas William Alabaster in St Judes, Bethnal Green, in 1864. A Thomas Alabaster, aged 41, died in 1877.      LH

To Contents


More Book News!

The 25 year old grandson of Valerie Henrietta Fowler, nee Alabaster (IIIA), Bo Fowler, has recently signed a book deal with the publishers, Jonathan Cape. The book, a novel, will be called Scepticism Inc. and is narrated by a supermarket trolley which climbs Mount Everest. The book is principally a satirical attach on religion. It was written while Bo was on the Creative Writing postgraduate course at the University of East Anglia with Malcolm Bradbury. Valerie Alabaster (Hetty) financially supported her grandson while he worked on the book and Bo doubts very much if he would have been able to write the novel without her help and her wise observations about life. "She's a very funny lady," he says. Scepticism Inc. will be published next April.

From the trade press:

At Cape, Dan Franklin has acquired world rights in two books by .....Bo Fowler.....The first of the two, which will be published next spring as a paperback original has the working title of The Nihilist Evangelist but will probably be published as Scepticism Inc. It is narrated by a supermarket trolley --- not an ordinary trolley, this being somewhat in the future --- but a souped-up, hi-tech number with a mind of its own. A trolley in search of God, no less. "Comparisons are always invidious but he's like an English Kurt Vonnegut," says Franklin. Or as disappointed Patrick Janson-Smith of Transworld, bidding with John Saddler, puts it, "Kurt Vonnegut meets Terry Pratchett".........."It is very funny, very brilliant," says a delighted Franklin............Gill Coleridge at Rogers, Coleridge & White..says it is the most striking and original novel she has read in many a year. "It's very funny but with a deep philosophical theme.."

Publishing News, July 25th 1997

To Contents