Friday, 29 June 2007

The Daglish clockmakers of Alnwick

Have you seen a Daglish clock? I did once - many years ago on a family holiday in Northumberland when our children were still young, we visited a nearby National Trust property and in the team room we saw a grandfather clock with the name "Daglish, Alnwick" on it. We didn't take a photo - and I have never seen another!

I was recently I was in touch with Peter Fenwick, a clock enthusiast who lives near Alnwick and who had owned a Daglish clock - but had recently sold it. The picture on the right (which appeared in the February 2002 edition of Clocks magazine) is of Peter's clock - you can just about see the name of Daglish on the dial.

The Daglishes made fine clocks, mostly grandfathers with brass or painted dials, many of which survive - but most of which are owned privately by collectors and rarely appear for sale.

During the 18th and 19th century, there were three generations of clockmakers called Joseph Daglish who lived and worked in Alnwick, Northumberland.

The family apparently had Scottish origins and are described as "dissenters" or nonconformists. The first Joseph Daglish arrived in Alnwick some time before 1740 - he was married to Ann Forster in that year. They had two sons, Joseph (1749-1798) and Robert (1753-1807), and both became clockmakers. Joseph succeeded his father, whilst Robert remained a journeyman all his life. Robert junior also had a son Joseph (1775-1843) who took over the business on his father's death. Over a hundred years of clockmaking under the Daglish name.

As far as I know, the youngest Joseph did not marry and had no children. He appears in the 1841 Census, living with his sister Ann, also unmarried - so I believe that the clock business ceased when he died.

Some Daglish clocks clocks are described in the book "North Country Clockmakers of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries" by C. Leo Reid (1925). A grandfather clock had a "face decorated with pictures of old English warships and at each corner there is a painting of admirals, one of which is Nelson". Another had a dial showing "old English figures painted with two pheasants and vase, in each corner flowers".

I would be very interested in any information about this clockmaking family - and to know the wherabouts of any Daglish clocks or to see any photos. Maybe we will have to pay a return visit to that National Trust property to see if we can find the clock that we remember seeing all those years ago!

Details from the book "Clock makers of Northumberland and Durham" by Keith Bates (1980). Other information supplied by Peter Fenwick.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Ian Daglish, military historian

Ian Daglish writes books about the Normandy campaign of 1944, and his latest book “Operation Epsom” is due out later this summer - it was originally scheduled to be published this week, but has been delayed due to some production issues. This is a book that has been forming in Ian’s mind for more than ten years.

Ian’s interest in history in general and the Normandy campaign in particular has grown throughout his life. Ian was born in Redhill, Surrey, in 1952, and when he was 8 years old his family moved to the United States for a few years. Ian remembers:

Alabama was in the throes of celebrating the centenary of the American Civil War, and this made school history lessons more exciting than usual. I returned to England with a passion for war stories, toy soldiers and board war games.

He read History at Trinity College, Cambridge, writing a thesis on Napoleon Bonaparte and the Invasion of England.

Some fifteen years later, a chance purchase in a California supermarket of a paperback about the American paratroops of 1944 sowed the first seeds of Ian’s interest in Normandy. The book accompanied Ian on many business trips - and by the 1990s Ian had visited the airborne battlefields of the Cotentin peninsula, written numerous articles about the air campaign and designed a series of board war games on the subject for a New York publisher.

Meanwhile a deeper interest was forming. Returning from a family holiday in the Dordogne in 1994, following a midday picnic by the Orne river, Ian suggested a short cut to avoid the town of Caen. The route led over Hill 112, the site of a key battle in 1944, and on through the village of Gavrus, where Ian recalled that a Scots battalion had fought a brave battle against the Germans. On returning home Ian read everything he could find about the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders’ action there. Ian found it an inspiring story – but one which was not well documented.

The following year he was back in Gavrus to do some serious research, and in the years that followed Ian has learned more and more about the story of the Argylls at Gavrus. A highlight for Ian was a return to Gavrus in 2004, leading a party of surviving Argylls. Ian recalls:

The village turned out, the band played, the anti-tank gunners revisited their gun positions by the bridges and elderly Jocks entertained appreciative visitors with their war stories.

Eventually Ian persuaded a publisher, Pen & Sword, to let him write a book - not about Gavrus, but the later Operation Bluecoat also involving the Argylls. This was well received and the publisher asked Ian to write a second book, Operation Goodwood – both books are part of the publishers Battleground Europe series. By this time Ian was becoming accepted as a military historian – he was inducted to the British Commission for Military History, invited to lecture and to speak on the Normandy campaign and to lead serving soldiers on battlefield tours.

For his third book, Ian persuaded the publishers to let him cover a Normandy battle at greater length and greater depth – and this format provided Ian with the vehicle for a book about the Argylls at Gavrus and the broader Operation Epsom - the book he has wanted to write for so long.

Ian’s father was Anthony Fenwick (Tony) Daglish, the only son of Francis Richard (Frank) Daglish. Frank volunteered with the 10th Northumberland Fusiliers in 1914 and served as a Lewis machine gunner until severely wounded on the Somme. His two brothers also served, one was later killed in WW2 and one was gassed but never regained his health.

His father Tony attended Chester-le-Street Grammar School and won a scholarship – at his headmaster’s suggestion he went to Trinity College, Cambridge where he read Chemistry. On completion of his studies, he was sent to work in armaments production at Bishopton, near Glasgow. Whilst there he served with the Bishopton Home Guard, led by a former Argyll & Sutherland Highland Regiment officer, and wearing the Argylls’ famous cap badge.

Years later during Christmas 2004, Ian mentioned to his father his involvement with the Argylls. His father asked whether Ian knew that this was the largest cap badge in the British Army, and then casually mentioned that he had once worn the badge. Ian remembers that he nearly fell off his chair!

Ian has his own views of the source of the Daglish name. He strongly believes that it is independent of the Scots Dalglish and Douglas names – and has a hunch that it could be a corruption of Danegeld-ish, denoting Danish invaders who first accepted Danegeld as a bribe to go away, and later settled the area which took its name from the tax levied to pay the bribe. Ian heard a radio documentary in which a historian happened to describe these people who settled in the North East as the Danegeld-ish.

Ian's books are:

Battle Ground Europe series
Operation Bluecoat: The British Armoured Breakout (2003)
Operation Goodwood: The Great Tank Charge (2004)

Over the Battlefield series
Operation Goodwood (2005)
Operation Epsom (due summer 2007)

Ian's board games are in the Advanced Squad Leader series, published by Multiman Publishing.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Jenny Hay, contemporary sculpture

Today marks the start of Bucks Visual Arts 2007, an annual event now in its 22nd year, where local artists throw open their doors to meet the public and to show their work. This year's event runs for two weeks, until July 1.

My sister, Jenny Hay (nee Daglish), has participated in this for a number of years, opening her garden in Monks Risborough to visitors who can view and purchase examples of her work.

After her children had grown up in the early 1990s, Jenny took up painting, working in oils, acrylic and watercolours. During the summer of 1997, she took a pottery class in Aylesbury - and found that she liked working with clay. She then took a City & Guilds in ceramics, before beginning a three year degree course in ceramics and glass at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College.

Since then Jenny has continued working with clay and enjoys experimenting using different methods and glaze techniques. She produces large abstract pieces but also enjoys producing smaller, stylized animals.

Jenny's main influence is nature, and she particularly loves the Dorset and Cornish coastline. She is also influenced by the work of Barbara Hepworth, Andy Goldsworthy and Peter Randall-Page.

For anyone interested in visiting Jenny, details can be found under the list of exhibitors on the Bucks Visual Arts website under Sculpture.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Ben Daglish, musician and composer

Returning to the recent theme of people who have worked in the arts, this week we feature the person who always gets the most results when you enter “Daglish” into Google or any other internet search engine - Ben Daglish.

Ben was born in London in 1966, and became involved in music very early in his life. At the age of 5 or 6 he started playing the penny whistle and the harmonica, encouraged by his mother who, with his father, ran the Three Feathers folk club in London.

He then moved to Sheffield, where he studied oboe and played cornet in the Stannington Brass Band before settling on percussion as his main study. He was principal percussionist for the City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra and later played with the Sheffield Youth Orchestra and the Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra, performing extensively as both percussionist and conductor. When he was about 17 he found himself listening to the music of Jethro Tull, and on his 18th birthday received a flute as a birthday present - it is the one he still plays today (and probably the one in the photo).

After an abortive stint at Essex University studying maths, Ben started composing music for computer games in the early 1980s, mainly for the Commodore 64 (usually referred to as the C64). This period is particularly well documented on the internet.

Ben moved on to composing what he describes as more "real" music and spent the next five years composing, performing and acting as musical director for a number of theatre shows, due mainly to the influence of his partner Sarah, a theatre director. He has worked with a number of theatre companies (including being Musical Director of the Marlow International Youth Theatre from 1992 to 2000) and performed in a number of Box Clever productions, including the Canterbury Tales around English Heritage sites and a touring version of Merchant Of Venice which toured from Dublin to Jerusalem.

Now living in Derbyshire, Ben plays with a number of bands, including Loscoe State Opera, and is involved with musical and theatrical projects. Ben owns upwards of a hundred different instruments – but still concentrates on whistle, flute, guitar and percussion. He also continuesto work as a computer programmer and analyst.

Loscoe State Opera is a seven piece group which one reviewer described as:

"Classical and Celtic influences along with the combination of traditional instruments with modern electric guitar give LSO a sound that not only crosses genres of music, but a sound that crosses oceans of time, bringing a familiarity from the past to life".

Their summer appearances this year include appearing at the Belper Music Festival on June 30 and at the Stainsby Festival on July 29.

Ben’s family tree stretches back to Morpeth – and he is a distant relation to Neil Daglish, actor - featured below. Both Ben and Neil have kindly agreed to participate in the Daglish DNA Study. We hope that this may help us to understand whether the "Morpeth Daglish" family is related to the Daglishes from County Durham, something that has been difficult to find from paper records.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Sarah Jane Daglish - Trip Across The Plains

This week I received a transcribed copy of a remarkable diary written about a journey across the plains of the United States from Knoxville, Iowa to San Bernardino, California. It was written by Sarah Jane Rousseau (nee Daglish). Below is a page from the original diary.

The story begins in England in North Shields, Northumberland, where William Daglish (who is my g-g-great uncle) married Mary Elliott in May 1812 at Christ Church, Tynemouth. The couple had two daughters, Mary Ann and Sarah Jane. In the 1820s the family moved to London, from where they emigated to the United States, arriving in New York in 1833.

A picture of family life in London is given in an article written by Sarah's granddaughter Evelyn Anderson-Strait. She wrote that the family lived in Brunswick Square where the girls were taught by tutors "and for seven years they were taught by a music master who had been a pupil of Beethoven".

In America, Sarah met James Rousseau, who had been sent on a government mission to survey the then unknown lands of Michigan. He later became a doctor, and the couple married in 1839, having 4 children. There is a a pair of portraits of Sarah and James, which are reputed to have been painted by Samuel Morse, inventor of Morse code - but otherwise a distinguished portrait painter.

In 1864 the Rousseaus (Sarah, James, and children Elizabeth, John and Albert - elder daughter Mary Ann stayed behind in Iowa) joined three other families in a wagon train to San Bernardino. The others were the Earp, Hamilton and Curtis families. The Earp family included the notorious Wyatt Earp, then 16 years old.

It was a hazardous journey, setting out in May and arriving in December, seven months later. The reason for the Rousseaus making this trip seems to have been for Sarah's health; at this time she was crippled by arthritis and she believed the warmer climate would give some relief.

Their route followed the so-called "Mormon Trail" to Salt Lake City, and then the "Mormon Corridor" to San Bernardino. Although established routes, there were still hardships and dangers, particularly from Indians. During the first part of the journey these were principally from the Sioux, Comanche, Snake and Blackfoot tribes which posed a real and constant threat. During the latter part of the trip, an interesting relationship was created with the Paiute Indians, who would ride with the party by day and at night some would tend the horses and cattle whilst others were "held prisoner" until the morning to ensure the safe return of the animals.

After reaching Salt Lake City, they frequently encountered Mormons, who were invariably friendly and hospitable. The men of the party were invited to meet Brigham Young (pictured right), sometimes known as The American Moses, who Sarah describes in the diary as "easy in manners, affable and a good deal of a gentleman". They also heard his brass band - Sarah notes that they played "A Life On The Ocean Wave", which she says was a great favourite of hers.

On the darker side, they passed the site of the Mountain Meadows massacre, where in September 1857 a Mormon militia and some Paiute Indians killed an entire wagon train - around 120 unarmed men, women and children were killed. Sarah notes that "only 6 small children too young to tell the tale were suffered to live. They are at Salt Lake City. I cannot for a moment suppose that such barbarism will be buried in Oblivion. Oh it cannot be. It will be brought to light and the aggressors punished."

Sarah wrote in her diary every day; the entry normally includes a description of the weather conditions and the daily mileage travelled - 25 miles on a good day. She also records details of the passing landscape and buildings. It is a truly remarkable, historic document that I cannot do justice to here.

Sarah died in San Bernardino in February 1872, and her husband James in July 1882.

So, a story which includes Beethoven, Wyatt Earp and Samuel Morse. The mention of Beethoven seems like a possible embellishment, whilst the portraits appear to me to be a little crude for Morse's normal style - but the Wyatt Earp connection is a historical fact.

Meanwhile Sarah's sister Mary Ann married Albert Miller in 1838. Albert, usually referred to as Judge Albert Miller, was a distinguished pioneer in Michigan - Miller's mother's family claims descent from those who arrived aboard the Mayflower in 1620. Mary Ann and Albert had two daughters. In the 1850s my great great uncle, another William Daglish, also emigrated to America, qualifying as a doctor and lawyer before joining the Millers in Michigan, where he married his cousin Emily Miller. This could be a story for future weeks ...

I am very grateful to Pam Greenwood who so kindly sent me a copy of Sarah Jane's diary and has provided much additional detail, and to Dick Molony who was the source of most of the information and in particular the article by Sarah's granddaughter Evelyn Anderson-Strait and the portait of Sarah. The transcribed version of the diary is in the San Bernardino Historical Society's collection.

Update - July 2008: Sarah Jane and her husband James Rousseau are buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in San Bernardino, California. The following pictures were provided by Dick Molony.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Eric Fitch Daglish, author and engraver

This week I would like to write about my father, Eric Fitch Daglish. He was born in Islington, London in 1892, the son of James William Daglish and Kate Annie Fitch. The family originated in Whickham, County Durham - and had arrived in London in the mid 19th century, via France and Somerset! The family established a business in the area - firstly in cabinet making and upholstery and later as overmantel mirror makers.

Eric studied in London and in Bonn, Germany, before the outbreak of the First World War. During the war, he served in the Middlesex Imperial Yeomanry and the Royal Field Artillery in Ireland, Flanders and France. When the conflict ended, he continued in Army life as Officer in charge of education at Woolwich Garrison until 1922.

The family then moved out of London to the Buckinghamshire Chilterns, where Eric could pursue his lifelong interest in the countryside and natural history. His first of many books was published in 1923.

He became a member of the Society of Wood Engravers, which revived the art first developed in the 18th and 19th centuries by Thomas Bewick and others. Fellow members of the society were his close friends the brothers John and Paul Nash, and Eric Gill who lived close by. More information about wood engraving can be found at the web site of the Society of Wood Engravers.

He used wood engravings as illustrations in many of his books. Most wood enravings are black and white, but it was also possible to hand colour these - as was done in the book Birds Of The British Isles (see cover which shows a coloured wood engraving of goldfinches). He also illustrated books by other authors, including Walton’s Compleat Angler.

His wood engravings are in the permanent collections of the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Art galleries of Liverpool and Manchester, the Metropolitan Museum of New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

As well as engraving, Eric also painted. His paintings show the same level of detail seen in the wood engravings. Shown here is detail from a painting of parrots.

Other interests included breeding dogs and he wrote several popular handbooks on a number of breeds. He judged at many dog shows, including Crufts. The picture above shows him judging at a local show at Thame in September 1953.

My father died in 1966, and his books are now out of print. In recent years there has been something of a revival of interest in the art of wood engraving and I have received a number of enquiries from libraries and museums in the last year about works by my father.