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Argue if you like.

The research for this story uncovered untruths and misconceptions recorded as history. This site invites counter arguments.

I hope that as I write a certain ancestor is not narrowing her eyes at my back as I emblazon the family's worst - and best kept - secret across my work.

I hope I will be forgiven. To search for the truth is so fundamentally human : "What's going on?" "What happened?" ... No ... what really happened? It's the same drive whether it's detective fiction, gossip, or scientific research. But when it comes to the truth about your own identity or your place in the world it can become an obsession.

The search began by accident. My sister phoned from Canada and asked me to look something up as I was in England at the time. What I found was not what was expected, and a story began to unravel.

Hearts have been won and broken, wars have been won and lost, history has been shaped ...

kings assassinated, royal uncles garrotted, princes misplaced in towers ...

... all for the sake of an heir ...

An heir : our own little stake in the future, some one small person who will grow up and carry whatever baggage we have into a future we can't live for ourselves ...
Increasingly gripped, I followed the trail as it led through the women of the family - a route full of pitfalls because of women's tendency to change their names roughly once a generation. But easily as relevant as the male line, because while she may not have passed on her name it was mostly mother who raised the children, and gave them their basic outlook on life, their rites and rituals, their culture. The guys would marry into the line bringing with them their genes, their jobs, their names, and so often new locations, but mother showed you how to live it. Taught you who you were.

Then there's the child that has not been sought. That in Victorian times stood to inherit nothing, that had no standing - legal or otherwise - in this world at all.

An anathema. To be covered up and denied.

Most of the main characters were already known to us before the search was begun, but known just as great grandparents, great uncles or aunts.

The search on the other hand discovered soldiers, sailors, blacksmiths, a waif and an heiress. And - most importantly - histories that had been wrongly recorded and that could be disproven, and histories - like so many, and no less important - that had never been recorded at all.

And so this book. The search itself is a fictionalised version of the truth - mainly to protect the privacy of living members of the family.

The biggest question was this : who is it that makes history, and who gets to say how it was. What makes one historian ask questions that another may not, and how does their personal quest affect the story they find? And how far can the reader of a history trust what they are reading? Whose story is it anyway?

The narrator is the searcher, and all of her family and her story are made up. But the history that was found is stated as it was found. There are sources for every shred of information. The reader at all times knows whether they are reading historical fact or speculation, or that imagination is being used to bring a scene to life.

So what reads like fact is actually fiction, and the story that reads like a historical romance is true.

But one must as always be careful when reading any history, of what may be suggested even if not stated.

I have written what I found. But if you find anything different - gossip or gospel - just click on the link and send me an email. List your sources, state your case. If what you know reshapes this story, who am I to say my version is any better than yours? I'll put it here for all to read.

© M M McKenna 2020