Reading Branch meeting 12th December 2019

Speaker: Members

There were two short talks by members, a Berkshire dialect quiz from Vicki and the traditional non-alcoholic mulled wine and mince pie courtesy of Rosemary and Angie.

Angie Catt spoke about her great-grandfather John Gibbons (West) born in Bath who enlisted in the 12th Prince of Wales Lancers in 1849 in Reading. At his attestation he was stated as being eighteen and a half, and five feet nine inches tall. He was involved in the 8th Kafir War which was the longest military action in Africa lasting 100 years. It was actually nine wars in the Eastern Cape where Smith was disgraced and dismissed. He survived the sinking of HMS Birkenhead where the first use of the command “Women and Children first” was issued in 1852. His military career took him from battles with the Xhosa in Africa; Crimea 1845, Sevastopol 1855 and his last campaign was in the Indian Mutiny 1857. Retiring after 12 years’ service he married Frances Caroline Abbott in 1861.

Peter Caton spoke of a re union with an old college friend Ian Rodwell Dixon who had researched the Luddites. Sadly, the friend died shortly after and Peter has taken up the story with an idea of publishing it. It revolves around lace making in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire which was a traditional industry carried out by women. Industrialisation by way of power looms in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Ned Lud has been associated with destroying machinery in the name of the Luddites so who was he? A prime candidate had been identified by Peter’s friend as Edward Ludlam b1735 d1776 son of William who had died when he was young. The background to the story revolves around the Poor Law Guardians, lace frames, and Edward not being able to bring home the bread from a factory in Anstey Leicestershire, due to possible autism. Records show he was “slow” and had marks on his back from being lashed. Further research found that damage had been caused in the factory where Edward worked and he was blamed, later the factory foreman was charged with the damage which he had received payment from a rival factory in Nottinghamshire. Peter intends to do more in this excellent piece of detective work in which no one has identified the mysterious General Ned Lud.

Picture of Vicki