Baldwin of Étaples (1030–1071) was a vassal to Eustace II of Boulogne. They first fought together against Henry III, and then later at Hastings. He is mentioned in the Gesta Guillelmi by William of Poitiers. Baldwin was present, with Eustace, at the raid (against their own ostensible king, William) on Dover Castle in 1067, but is thought to have been a mole for the Crown due to the leniency shown to him after his capture. He was given land in Sussex where he murdered the local gentry. Five of his children survived to adulthood. The eldest son was Ralph of Étaples.
Ralph of Étaples (1050–1101), overlord of Lowbridge, was a cruel man. Having largely autonomous authority during the post-conflict consolidation of the early ’70s, Ralph tried numerous tenants on trumped-up charges ranging from sedition to “daemonic hand clapping.” He married Mary, daughter of a Saxon house. Three daughters survived to adulthood.
Two of these daughters did not have children. The youngest, of whom there is an extant tapestry portrait, died at twenty-one. The middle daughter, Alceste, married John, overlord of Satham (1077–1099), a deeply religious man who was killed in battle against the Seljuq Turks, during the First Crusade. His sacrifice helped to establish permanent mercantile routes across southeastern Europe. The eldest daughter, Adelaide, became abbess at Barking, and is thought to be the primary contributor to the verse cycle, “A Dream of Water and Red” (c. 1101). It is probable that lines 52–55 refer to the death of her brother-in-law, John Satham, with whom she was in love:
. . . and that was the morning
when the keeper of the bread returned you
to his house which has a large fire
and where you are permitted to sing songs.
trans. Thomas Bosenell
Adelaide had a bastard son by John Satham. The boy, who was raised at the abbey, was named John of Barking (1098–1178). Having received a scholastic education, he became a scribe working at the house of William of Ypres in Kent. He is the second hand of the Rattingham Codex (f. 120r–f. 333v), of which Welsby, in her seminal study, writes:
. . . the text is spacious, with a number of ligatures; abbreviations are common at the end of lines. The opening of each section of the codex begins with an illuminated rectangular headpiece decorated in leafy patterns. Elaborate initials occur throughout: colourful birds and winged beasts, with feathers outstretched to form the bar or arm of a letter; monkeys and other exotic mammals, splayed or curled around themselves to form letters; serpents or smaller animals hang from plant foliage, dangling into the shape of letters.
John Barking would sit in his cell and daydream of creatures contorting into an infinite alphabet. He had one child.
The child, Alan de Neville (1164–1212), was born to Henrietta Nevill of the manor at Raby (though she was wife to Ogden Nevill). Henrietta had sex with John Barking fourteen times during a week’s stay at William of Ypres’s castle in Kent. She slept with William of Ypres too (who, as a consequence, erroneously believed the child to be his, despite an onanistic ejaculation). Cuckoo-like, Alan de Neville, although one of seven, was the only child to survive into adulthood. Inheriting John Barking’s intellect and Ogden Nevill’s money, he spent his life in secluded prayer and scholarship. His largely sexless marriage to Ida, of Northumberland, nevertheless bore fourteen children. The eldest son, James, resenting his father’s hermitage, swore at a young age to be a man of action.
And so, James de Neville (1194–1258), leaving his lands to corvée labor, went on pilgrimage to Europe, settling for a year in Rome in 1218. He wrote a guide book to Rome, under the pseudonym Rufus Angelus, in which he describes his first impressions of the city: “A noisy place, with lots of people. You are likely to be cut-pursed if you do not immediately hire protection.” He adds, enigmatically, that one should “never buy silk indoors.” Returning to England, he pilgrimaged again in ’28, ’38, ’48, and ’55. Although preferring sex with men, James married three times. Each of his wives died in childbirth within a year of their marriage. The first two from high blood pressure; the third from sepsis following the iatrogenic fracturing of her pelvis. This last wife, Alice, left him two sons: James and Rufus.
James and Rufus de Neville (1247–1316) were non-identical twins who both died in the same week of December from pneumonia brought on by starvation. In a time of famine, they shared food equitably with their vassals and peasantry, enforced strict triage management, and punished anthropophagy with the loss of both hands (it being mercifully interpreted by them, as keepers of the peace, to be a form of poaching). Rufus had seven children by two wives. James married but, being infertile, left no heirs.
Alice (1270–1300), the third child and second daughter of Rufus de Neville, was wed to John of Camford, moving to the manor there in 1285. She had five children, though killed two because of deformities. She was musical and sang often.
John and Alice’s eldest child was named Alice. The mother bled to death during the birth of her fifth child.
The child survived and was named William Camford (1300–1340). His father being unknown to the family, William was raised as the son of his grandfather. William greatly improved his wealth and position fighting with Edward III in France. He died of septicemia in Calais, having cut open his foot whilst bathing in a stream. Of his eight children, all daughters, four survived to adulthood, and two secured marriages. The most illustrious was that of his eldest daughter, Katherine (1322–1341), who married Thomas de Beumond, Lord Beumond, in 1340.
Thomas and Katherine had a happy union for the first year, until an accident by a midwife during a late-term miscarriage damaged her cervix. The chronic pain was such that she refused sex with her husband. He was not dissuaded, however, and raped her for four months after that. They had one son, born in agony. A few weeks later Katherine rowed out to the middle of Lake Wen and drowned herself.
That one son was called Thomas, later Lord Beumond (1341–1405). He, less adventurous than his father, oversaw his land with quiet propriety, received guests, married laterally, and issued nine children. The first, Thomas, was autistic. He rarely talked and was thought to be cursed in some way; his education stopped before he was ten. Thomas was murdered by bandits at seventeen, and his horse stolen. The second son, Edward (1371–1410), who had arranged his brother’s murder, inherited upon his father’s death.
Edward de Beumond greatly enjoyed fighting; he killed nine men at tournaments, thirty-six on the battlefield. He fought at the battles of Mynydd Hyddgen, Bryn Glas, and Pwll Melyn, dying from an axe wound to his face before he could see the longed-for defeat of the Welsh. Enjoying, by and large, sex with men, he married reluctantly, siring one child: Margaret.
Margaret (1402–1452) married Edward, Lord Rosse. A year into their marriage, Edward fell from his horse and broke his back, becoming a paraplegic for the last thirty years of his life. Margaret took over the managing of their estates in Suffolk and was generally thought to be devout and commanding. She took a number of lovers and had five children. Her last lover, Peter, a monk who had been leading her in prayer, gave her a son, James, who survived into adulthood.
A man of distinction, James, Lord Rosse (1429–1509), spent a great deal of his time at court, rarely visiting his holdings in Sussex and Kent. He was a protégé of Ralph Boteler, 1st Baron Sudeley, and organized three assassinations on his behalf. Though never able to live up to the military reputation of his grandfather, James performed adequately in battle in France. His association with Baron Sudeley introduced him to trade with Venice and the Levant, and in 1460 he took an interest in a galley ship. He married Sudeley’s second daughter and they had a successful union, though saw each other rarely. Four daughters survived into adulthood.
These four, Alice, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Agnes, suffered from chronic psychopathologies brought on by a genetic predisposition coupled with violence from their mother in childhood. All but Agnes was agoraphobic and obsessive compulsive. Alice, Elizabeth, and Margaret did not marry and lived at the family manor house in Rosse, Sussex. Agnes (1459–1484) married Thomas Benlost, of Kennington, and had three children before dying of breast cancer. Thomas Benlost died in 1486, and his three young children, Thomas, Edward, and Walter moved into the manor house at Rosse to be raised by their aunts.
On his grandfather’s death in 1509, the eldest, Thomas Benlost (1477–1530), inherited both a title and a considerable fortune. He increased his trading interests throughout his lifetime, investing in four more ships which sailed primarily with cargoes of spice, slaves, or silk. Thomas’s childhood had been erratic, having often been witness to the unstable behavior of his aunts. He was nervous and untrusting, and formed no close friendships. His wife, Julia, granddaughter to the Mayor of London, had a lifelong romantic partnership with another woman, Margaret, whom she had known since childhood. They lived together in a small house on the Rosse estate and only rarely visited the main building. She had four children, one of whom survived to adulthood.
This daughter, Margaret (1510–1566), was raised in the small house, only meeting her father on eleven occasions. Margaret wrote poetry, played music, and hosted entertainments in the manor house. She married her first cousin, Walter, son of her father’s brother Edward Benlost. Walter and Margaret had a happy marriage, raising seven children, all of whom lived to adulthood. On Margaret’s gravestone, Walter had lines carved from his wife’s own poetry:
You petal clouds of Death to me are Spring
To thaw the Earth with all Love’s heat shall bring.
She is buried at the Magdalene, Rosse.
Walter and Margaret’s first child, Walter Benlost (1531–1593), was a devout man who, as a teenager, took a vibrant interest in the spiritual improvement of the religious institutions of Rosse and its environs. Upon inheriting, in 1571, his first action was to evict his late grandmother’s “friend,” Margaret, who still lived alone and rent-free in the small house. Margaret, at the age of eighty-four, was taken in by a grand-niece in London, to whom Walter had organized her conveyance by barge along the river. She died there some months later. Walter said to her: “We must atone.”
Walter’s first son, Henry Benlost (1550–1600), like his great-grandfather, was an accomplished merchant. He was one of the first men to invest as a stockholder in the Muscovy Company, which attempted to find a trade route to the East through Russia. He died of colon cancer, leaving three daughters. The eldest, Elizabeth (1577–1606), married her father’s business partner, William Chancellor, who was thirty years her senior. She moved to London, where they lived together in a large house in Cornhill.
William Chancellor died in 1601, when Elizabeth was twenty-four. He left three children, Thomas, John, and Edmund. Elizabeth was to die five years later, but in that short time her residence at Cornhill became well known as a fashionable spot in London. She hosted in her great hall the first performances of John Norris’s The Butcher’s Bacon and Empress Matilda by the Lord Lowes Men. Answering a challenge set one evening by Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, “to pen a ballad that would be sung in all the taverns before the end of the year,” she wrote the famous “John Tom’s One Song,” with its refrain:
He walks when he sits and he sits when he walks
and you ’ave to sing loudly whenever he talks
and clap when he’s sleeping
and drink when he’s thinking
’cause John Tom’s long gone whenever he’s here.
After the death of their mother, Thomas, John, and Edmund were raised by their father’s brother Robert. The eldest son, Thomas Chancellor (1595–1649), would die on the same day as King Charles I, though by more prosaic means. Having inherited his father’s ships upon maturity, he conservatively increased his income by purchasing four more. He lent money to the Crown during the civil war. He married a second cousin on his father’s side and raised ten children, with three daughters living to maturity.
The eldest surviving daughter, Catherine (1627–1645), ran away with a preacher at the age of sixteen and became one of his reputed twenty-five wives. She wrote a number of tracts for the group, who were known as the “Tendrils” for believing that man could live from any food source if he merely asked the Lord to feed him: “the believer,” wrote Catherine, “might one day choose to leave the grape and feast but from the tendrils of the vine.” In 1645 they were found in a manor in Cambridgeshire owned by a local magistrate, who had joined the sect and housed them. There were forty-five in total, all starved to death. That was, with the sole exception of Catherine’s baby, who lay in his cot by her bedside. Until the final days (when she had become too weak), she had secretly fed it.
The child was returned to its grandfather, adopted, christened Thomas, and became four years later inheritor of a small fortune. When the boy came to maturity, it was but a few years until his grandfather’s sizable loan to the Crown could be profitably collected upon. Thomas Chancellor (1644/5–1707) was now in possession of a large fortune. He married well, to a daughter of the Earl of Cardigan, and, in return for a quiet cancellation of remaining debt, was created a baronet by the King. They built a large house in the City after the fire.
Sir Thomas had thirteen children. In 1665, at the age of twenty-one, he had already fathered three sons but lost them all to the plague. Of the next ten children, five would survive to adulthood, the eldest male being his son James (1674–1708), who became Sir James for only the last year of his life.
The baronetcy passed to Sir James’s son Thomas (1699–1780) in 1708. Sir Thomas Chancellor was an influential figure of his age, investing in Lloyd’s, and acting as a patron to John Kent’s Encyclopaedia of Motives, Conceits, Metaphors, and Similes, published in 1751 to some acclaim. Johnson wrote in The Rambler that “wishing to attack this work with a monumental heave-ho, I have, alas, burnt the pies like a cobbler, & misplaced the thing: perhaps the hand has a way of keeping the eye blinded to what it does not wish to hear.”
Sir Thomas married Martha, the daughter of Sir Edward Bunstock; they had eight children, six surviving. Sir Thomas’s house in the City became widely known (by those who knew) for the couple’s Romanesque orgies held throughout the summer of 1761 to celebrate the coronation of George III. As their guests arrived, Sir Thomas and Lady Martha, despite their advanced age, would be happily lying naked across a chaise-longue designed by George Hepplewhite.
Sir Thomas and Lady Martha’s surviving children were named Thomas, William, Michael, Jane, Martha, and Elizabeth. The youngest, Thomas, joined the Royal Navy as a lieutenant aboard the sixty-four-gun Commonwealth in 1721, dying a year later of food poisoning. He was buried at sea. The middle child, William, was a clergyman and fellow of Trinity College and had a successful lifelong love affair with a colleague at Trinity, John van Rojn. William was a noted natural philosopher, gaining a reputation in the subdiscipline of Cartesian physiology for his treatise Motus ab anima ad summum, which describes the mechanics of the soul’s leaving of the body upon morbidity. He had no children. Jane and Martha married brothers Luther and Jeremiah Lux, wealthy London merchants. Elizabeth remained in the family home, unmarried, and died at thirty-two of tuberculosis. The eldest, Michael (1720–1805), worked with his father, expanding their trading company healthily during his lifetime. He became a silent partner in a plantation and copper mine in the Virgin Islands.
Sir Michael had no children with his first wife, Mary, who died of heart disease in 1760. He was married again, at forty-one, to a niece of his sister’s husband. They had two children, Michael and Katherine, both of whom survived to adulthood. Michael, born in 1760, was a hermaphrodite and had no children. He had a short relationship with the minor late-Augustan poet Ambrose Moortle. Michael is the likely source for the image in the first stanza of the twenty-ninth canto of Moortle’s The Carriad (1777):
O we sever’d Mortals wait in fracture
That Cloven Innocence pair’d in rapture;
He is All, we but Half; He doubled, twain
In Day’s bright darkness, Quick in arid rain.
Katherine (1763–1803) married William Le Fere MP, regarded for his essay “Being an Inquiry into the Necessities of Freedom in regard to the changing circumstances of the Events in France.” They had ten children, eight surviving to maturity. In 1805, their eldest, Reginald, inherited estates in Kent, Sussex, and the Virgin Islands, a Palladian manor house in London, and eighteen merchant ships but no title (the baronetcy becoming extinct upon his grandfather’s death.
Throughout his life, Reginald (1787–1843) was able to expand his landownership in Kent when much of the local population chose to migrate to the city. In 1834, he traveled to the Virgin Islands, overseeing for five years the transition from slavery to wage labor, and effectively reshaping the business model of his holdings there. Reginald’s first son, Samuel, suffered from Pott’s disease and lived at home in London until his death at twenty-nine. Samuel was a minor watercolorist and exhibited at the Royal Academy; his lack of knowledge of much of the English countryside gave his landscapes an ethereal quality which was later interpreted by critics as an influence on Turner.
Reginald’s second son, Robert (1813–1861), toured extensively in Europe as a young man, sending back to London a collection of Meissen figurines, becoming of some fame until their destruction in a supposed burglary of 1860, which in fact was a deliberate vandalism paid for by a former mistress. Robert wrote a biography of his grandfather William Le Fere, regarding his opposition to war with both France and the United States, and which looked to reevaluate the so-called Dover Triangle, concerning alleged bribery of Naval officers during the war of 1812. Robert Le Fere sold his father’s assets overseas and invested further in shipping and a textile mill in Leeds. He was murdered by a musket shot to the head in 1861 by an unknown assailant. He was survived by three daughters: Rosaline, Imogen, and Phaedra.
The eldest daughter married Sir Leonard Moore in 1858, moving to a large house in Islington. Lady Rosaline Moore-Le Fere (1838–1874) traveled extensively with Sir Leonard until their joint execution by Muzaffar al-Din bin Nasr- Allah, Amir of Bukhara, for espionage and alcoholism. They were survived by a son, James, who learnt of the sentence by telegram whilst boarding at St. Paul’s.
James Moore (1860–1905) was a financier, with a majority share in the holding company established by his grandfather: Fere, Smith, & Royt. He studied natural sciences at Balliol, and married Eleanor Pinkett in 1881. A keen futurist, he was one of the first men in London to own a telephone and, later, a motor car. He wrote several essays regarding his vision of the future, published in Welles’s Opticon magazine. The most widely regarded, titled “The Infant Thoughts of the Infinite Mind,” advanced the biological necessity of the fusing of the brains of all human beings to create the required intelligence to defend against planetary invasion. “Not too long from now,” wrote Moore, “in a time just beyond the distant horizon that we can imagine, the human species, driven by the ineluctable and inviolable drive for improvement, will transform from one species with many, to one animal from many.” Moore was a vegetarian and a trustee of the League Against Alcohol and Morphine. His wealth increased with purchases by Fere, Smith, & Royt of a metalworks in Birmingham, which secured a contract to supply the Army in India with buttons and belt buckles; a small stake in the merchant bank Raven and Colt; and a japanning factory.
James Moore had four children. One, Rupert, died at age seven of tuberculosis. Another, Philip Moore (1885–1914), the eldest, fought as a captain in the Grenadier Guards in the First World War and was killed at Ypres. His brother Humphrey Moore fought alongside him, and wrote the largely forgotten long poem “Icarus at Ypres” in his memory. These are the closing lines:
Construct a Theophrastus hearse,
Resist the digging of the earth;
Let water creep with fusing bergs
To keep the drowned from being heard.
Humphrey and his sister Rosaline both lived into their eighties. Philip Moore had three children, Esther, Jonathan, and Caroline.
The three children were raised by their mother, Andrea, who married again in 1915. Each inherited, upon maturity, a sizable sum left in trust by their father. The eldest child, Lady Esther Jenkins, née Moore (1910–1940), was an alcoholic and committed suicide by walking the streets during an air raid (doing so on several occasions until she was crushed by a collapsing railway bridge). She was married to Sir Michael Jenkins, managing director of Fere, Smith, Royt, & Jenkins. Sir Michael continued to grow the company until his retirement in 1975. Renamed FSRJ Holdings, the company expanded into television and film production, buying PolyCine Studios, known for Harry Pitt’s Mop Bucket comedies; advertising, by investing in the small company Tentwell & Orion, which would expand rapidly on the back of its innovative cigarette advertising; and extensive office property in the West End.
Lady Esther had two children, who were raised after her death by Sir Michael and a series of female companions. The eldest, Peter Jenkins (1930–2000), took over from his father as managing director at the age of forty-five. In 1991, FSRJ Holdings was renamed SMART, an acronym for “solutions, marketing, television.” The second child, Elizabeth, was elected to Parliament in 1964 as MP for Slough and North Winton. She sat in the House for thirty-three years before losing her seat in the landslide swing of 1997. She wrote several books, including a memoir titled The Copper Lady, a reference to her famous aura of red hair. In her memoir she wrote of her lifelong struggle with alcohol, and after politics she became a patron of the recovery charity Awake. Elizabeth’s daughter, Rose, became a popular actress in the 1980s, appearing, most notably, in Last Gun, with Tom Paul Fox, and Far from Midnight, with Sir Jeremy Winterbourne, the latter receiving a BAFTA for his performance.
Peter Jenkins died of lung cancer. He was survived by his wife Pauline and two daughters, Esther (1955–2015) and Elizabeth. After school, Elizabeth Jenkins had a brief career as a pop singer in the band Blue T’bago, and sang the title track on her cousin Rose’s film Winter Hand, reaching number seven in 1985:
Love is finding in the sand
how to map a distant land.
In the sea the stars are lost;
In your eyes my heart is crossed.
Winter hand, winter hand,
touch me with your winter hand.
She died of a cocaine and heroin overdose in 1995. Esther Jenkins bought properties in New York and Cannes, and married Paul Coty, an Air France Concorde pilot, in 1977. They had two sons, William and Arnaud, both educated at the French Lycée in Kensington.
William Coty (1980–2080) studied physics at Trinity College, Cambridge. He married Danielle in 2012, and they had two children, Stephen and Henry. In 2020, William Coty sold half his ownership of SMART Media and began a business in fossil fermentation, named REfirex International, discovering a means to reuse 0.001 percent of the slag run-off of power stations, a patent that was profitable until the early ’70s. William’s eldest son, Stephen Coty, married John Luttes in 2057, and they adopted a child, Sally, from Nepal.
William Coty’s second child, Henry Coty (2025–2120), became an early investor in the polynet, starting Wonton Inc., with a partial sale of his shares in REfirex. Wonton Inc. developed most of the initial software on which the terrestrial polynet is based. Henry Coty married an architect, Carmen Kris, in 2061; they had one son, Ralph.
Ralph Coty (2054–2160) was educated at Winchester, Harvard, and Shenzhen. He expanded Wonton Inc.’s influence across Asia. In 2095, he married his second wife Chen Chao-xing; they had one bio-daughter, Mary, in 2102. Mary Chen Coty became a renowned painter, programmer, unit-designer, exomorphologist, and poet. She married six times and had no children. She died in a car crash in 2253. Her poem “This” was one of the artworks on board the maiden voyage to Tau Ceti IV in 2266. The final stanza reads:
this commotion, rise, order brings to you
this emotion, like vasents, fall to who? we seek
now color *color* in water castles
this brilliance, its nothingness. take all, calax,
of this and bury all the light that we cannot make.