Life was not always easy in the 19th century. Here is the sad story of David Alderdice, a pawnbroker in Charlemount, Loughgall, County Armagh, as told in the local press of the time –
The Armagh Guardian September 23, 1845 Armagh, County Armagh
A FEMALE CANNIBAL.—On Thursday, Mr. DAVID ALDERDICE, a respectable pawnbroker in Charlemont, had a dispute with a woman about a forfeited pledge, whom, on account of her violent conduct, he endeavoured to eject from the shop. While in the act of so doing the infuriated tigress sprung on the old gentleman with a savage growl and seized one of his thumbs in her ruthless fangs. Poor Mr. ALDERDICE, convulsed with agony, cried loudly for assistance, but was obliged to pummel the vampire (which, for a septuagenarian, he did to admiration) with the hand that was at liberty, before he could be rescued from her blood-thirsty clutches. She was finally removed by the police, and committed by W. OLPHERTS, Esq., J.P., to Armagh gaol—a sorry consolation to Mr. ALDERDICE, who continues to labour under the terrors of lock-jaw.
As I research my own family history, I come across stories that re not related but worth noting. So, I have opened further site that will cover these stories.
The past is about people, these are voices that deserve to be heard.
Researching an Irish family called Switzer I came across the ‘poor Palatines.’ In 1708 the bitterly cold winter in the Rhineland, oppressive taxes and ruined vineyards drove the Lutheran people of the Palatinate to mass exodus. Many were wncouraged to go to Britain – Queen Anne believed that German protestants would be of great political value and offered them support. They were also seen as a valuable group to settle in the British colonies of Northern America.
Around three thousand of these refugees were dispatched to Ireland to reinforce the Protestant faith. However, their settlement was not wholly successful and in the following years many left Ireland for England, North America or to return to Germany.
Sir Thomas Southwell was one of the few Irish landlords who successfully managed to persuade their allotment of Palatine immigrants to remain in rural Ireland. He championed the Palatines to secure government support for the settlement venture and had helped them at considerable personal expense, being reimbursed only just before his death in 1720. In 1711, Southwell had retained only 10 families but by 1714 he had settled about 130 families on his lands, and the region around lands has still the largest concentration of Irish Palatine residents to this day in Killeheen, Ballington, and Courtmatrix.
There are a number of names in Ireland that originate in the Palatine settlers – they include Fizelle, Bethel, Binner and Switzer. Switzer is a name associated with one of the great 19th century Dublin department stores – Switzers in Grafton Street.
Ireland National Archives have now added additional census material onto their site. The only full surviving census for the whole of Ireland are 1901 and 1911. However Fragments survive for 1821 – 1851 for some counties namely Antrim, 1851; Belfast city (one ward only), 1851; Cavan, 1821 and 1841; Cork, 1841;Dublin city (index to heads of household only), 1851; Fermanagh, 1821, 1841 and 1851; Galway, 1813 (numerical returns for Longford barony) and 1821; King’s County (Offaly), 1821; Londonderry (Derry), 1831 – 34; Meath, 1821; Waterford, 1841. These are now freely searchable and of real value to anyone researching their Irish families
The drop down list gives earlier dates.
Amongst some old, family photographs I came across this one. On the reverse is written ‘Lucille Hollingdale, nee a Belndecques …6 June 1939 a Housplines Nord.’ Behind this damaged photograph lies a story.
Lucille is a French national married to an Englishman who was probably working as a gardener for the War Graves Commission in France and may have been an ex-serviceman. When Germany invaded France the couple helped Allied airmen shot down over enemy territory to escape, it is possible that Douglas Bader was among the airman they assisted. In August 1943 they were arrested by the Germans, her husband was killed under interrogation by the Gestapo and she was interned in a number of different concentration camps including Belsen, Buchenwald and Waldheim; she survived and was released in 1945. . She had served with the French Resistance between 1940-1943 (‘Voix du Nord Group’) when she worked on an escape line in France until her capture. Her prison number was 526. Some archives relating to her are in the Imperial War Museum.
My parents befriended her and visited her in France where she lived alone, in poverty, never remarrying. She had been driven to seek the assistance of The Royal British Legion and the Royal Air Forces Escaping Society in her attempt to obtain a pension from Britain, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Basil Embury had also been involved. As a French national married to a British subject, the issue of her pension was probably never fully resolved. She was awarded a British Empire Medal in 1947 for her courage; she was a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur. She probably died in 1995. These stories are so easily lost in the fragility of memory, they are often never written down – as family historians we should guard them.