Celtic Culture & heritage

Remarkable Story Of The Imprisoned Lady of St Kilda

Lady Grange

Kidnapped and imprisoned on a remote and lonely Scottish island the story of Rachel Chiesley, or Lady Grange (1679–1745) as she was known is a remarkable one.  It takes us back to the dangerous period of the Jacobite risings when those that sought the restoration of the Stuart monarchs to the throne took arms against the British government on a number of occasions between 1688 and 1746. A cause to which the Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highland clans were linked and one whose defeat resulted in misery, persecution and would ultimately have a devastating impact upon Gaelic culture and clan society in the Highlands of Scotland.

Rachel Chiesley was one of ten children born to John Chiesley and Margaret Nicholson. Her father was convicted and hanged for the murder of George Lockhart, Lord President of the Court of Session, who was murdered in Edinburgh on 31 March 1689. Rachel Chiesley was described as very beautiful and in about 1707 married James Erskine (1679 – 20 January 1754),  who took the title Lord Grange and was the younger son of Charles Erskine, Earl of Mar. Her husband was a lawyer, who became Lord Justice Clerk in 1710. The marriage produced nine children but then descended into trouble, partly it seems due to his infidelity. The bad relationship that developed between them eventually became public knowledge and led to the remarkable events that saw her abduction and banishment to the remote Scottish islands where she would end her days.

Richard Lower – Royal physician, first physician and scientist who conducted transfusion between animals and animals and also between animals and human beings, philanthropist

Richard Lower

Richard Lower was born in 1631 in St. Tudy in Cornwall, to Margery Billing and Humphry Lower. He completed his education from Westminster school and Christ Church, Oxford. In Westminster, he got acquainted with John Locke and in Oxford he met Robert Boyle and Thomas Wills, who founded the Royal Society in later years. John Locke and Robert Boyle became his companions in research. Under Thomas Wills, he started his medical career and research.

He completed his B.A in 1653 and M.A in 1655.

At Oxford, Richard Lower worked under Thomas Wills. Lower collaborated with him to conduct research on the nervous system. In the meantime, he also did some research on the functioning of the heart and studied the circulation of blood when it passes through the lungs. Here, he came up with some ground-breaking concepts and showed that it is possible to transfuse blood from one animal to another or from an animal to a human being. He successfully performed his first transfusion in 1665 at Oxford where he transfused blood from one animal’s artery to the vein of another animal. After receiving a medical degree in 1665, he relocated to London in 1666, where Thomas Wills had already relocated.

Jan Harvey – TV personality, actress

Jan Harvey

Jan Harvey was born on 1st June 1947 in Penzance.

She is possibly best known for her starring role as Jan Howard in the British TV drama Howards' Way, from 1985–90, in which she ran a fashion boutique named Periplus.

The boutique specialised in the sale of après sail wear (and was also the first UK headquarters of the German mail order franchise, Die Spitz). Subsequently a partnership, Howard Brooke, was formed which ran multiple boutiques as well as producing its own designs. There followed the launch of an internationally renowned couture house (with attendant fragrance and cosmetics lines), the House of Howard, which was successfully floated on the stock exchange.

During the 1990s, Harvey appeared in the action series Bugs, and more recently was a regular cast member in the Five soap opera Family Affairs (in which she played Babs Woods). She has also guest starred in many other high profile British dramas including A Touch of Frost, Inspector Morse and Lovejoy.

John Passmore Edwards – journalist, campaigner for the working people, chartist, pacifist and anti-war campaigner, philanthropist, he twice refused Royal recognition

John Passmore Edwards

John Passmore Edwards was born on 24th March 1823 in Blackwater, between Redruth and Truro, Cornwall, the son of a carpenter.

After an education at the village school, he became a journalist and by the early 1840s was working as a free-lance writer in London.

During this time he became an activist and served on several committees. These included such causes as the abolition of capital punishment, the suppression of the opium trade and the abolition of flogging in the services. Passmore Edwards also helped direct the Political Reform Association.

From 1848 onwards, he attended various peace conferences in Europe as a delegate from the London Peace Society. He also published and edited various magazines, promoting such things as peace and temperance. Over the following years, he purchased several successful publications and in 1876 bought the ‘Echo’, the first London daily halfpenny paper.

Susan Penhaligon – stage, TV and movie actress, author, proudly and outspokenly Cornish

Susan Penhaligon

Susan Penhaligon was born on 3 July 1949 and is a Cornish actress probably best known for her appearances in the controversial 1976 drama Bouquet of Barbed Wire and for playing Judi Dench's sister in the 1981 sitcom A Fine Romance. She also played a British military officer in Paul Verhoeven's Soldier of Orange.

Although born in Manila, both her parents were Cornish and there can be little doubt of her being Cornish with a fine Cornish surname like Penhaligon! She returned with her family to Cornwall, aged 6. She spent her formative years living in St. Ives and Falmouth.

Aged 11 she was sent to boarding school in Bristol where her acting ambitions were encouraged. She has two brothers and a sister in the U.S.A. After her parents divorced, her father went to live in San Francisco and worked as a private detective.

She is a cousin of the late David Penhaligon MP, a former Liberal member of parliament in Cornwall.

While training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art,Penhaligon shared a flat with soon-to-be rock star Peter Hammill. Tagged the 'British Bardot' in the 1970s, Clive Aslet in The Daily Telegraph wrote that Penhaligon ‘was the face of the decade’.

Christopher "Chris" Morris - professional footballer who played for Scotland’s Celtic, played for the Republic of Ireland against England, now a businessman in Cornwall’s pasty industry

Chris Morris

Christopher "Chris" Morris was born 24 December 1963 in Newquay, Cornwall.

He is a former professional footballer who made his name as a defender with Celtic in Scotland and Sheffield Wednesday & Middlesbrough in England, among others. Chris also had a successful playing career with the Republic of Ireland national side during the Jack Charlton era.

Chris first began his career in 1982, signing for Wednesday under ex-England international, Jack Charlton, in the old Division Two. He won promotion to the First Division with Wednesday in 1984. He made seventy-four appearances between 1983 and 1987, scoring one goal along the way. He then moved north of the border to Celtic, signing for £125,000 on 10 August 1987.

He made his debut in the 4-0 win over Morton, at age 23. Between 1987 and 1992, He was the regular right-back for the Bhoys, with 160 appearances and 8 goals to his name. He then moved on to Middlesbrough on 14 August 1992, where he remained for several seasons as a first team regular without ever becoming a crowd favourite. Troubled by an anterior cruciate ligament injury, he retired at the end of the 1996-97 season, when Boro were runners-up in the FA Cup and Football League Cup, but a 3-point deduction for postponing a match at short notice had caused them to be relegated from the Premier League.

St Piran's Day in Redruth - Saturday 5th March, 2016

St Piran's Day

Redruth in Kernow has published the programme brochure for one of the biggest celebrations of Cornish culture and identity with organisers promising that this year's St Piran's Festival will be better than ever!

Saint Piran has been widely accepted now as Cornwall's National Saint and his black flag with its white cross is flown as the flag of Cornwall outside public buildings and other places across the Duchy.

Such is the popularity of the Redruth event, that it was mentioned in a submission by the Westminster Government to the Council of Europe as an example of Cornish difference and National Identity.

John Couch Adams - discovered the planet Neptune, astronomer, mathematical genius

John Couch Adams

John Counch Adams was born in Laneast, near Launceston, Cornwall on June 5, 1819, and died in Cambridge, England on Jan. 21, 1892 . The Cornish name Couch is pronounced 'cooch'.

His parents were were Tabitha Knill Grylls and Thomas Adams.

The family was a poor one with Thomas being a tenant farmer while Tabitha also came from a farming family. Thomas and Tabitha farmed near Launceston, Cornwall, and it was on Lidcott farm that John, the eldest of his parents seven children, was born. John Couch Adams was named after his mother's uncle, John Couch. It is particularly fitting that this should be the case since John Couch provided some education for Tabitha who inherited his library which included several astronomy books. It was this library, particularly the astronomy books in it, which fired John's interest as he grew up.

Young Adams was educated in local schools before being sent to Cambridge University; this being paid for by inheritance money.

Kristin Scott Thomas - Actress

Kristin Scott Thomas

Kristin Scott Thomas was born in Redruth, Cornwall on 24 May 1960.

She was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (Number 50).

She was also chosen by "People" magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World.

She speaks French fluently and dubbed herself in French in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).

She was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2003 Queen's Birthday Honours List for her services to drama.

She was nominated for a 2004 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actress of 2003 for her performance in "Three Sisters" at the Playhouse.

She was awarded Legion d'Honneur, France's highest civilian award, in the January 2005 honors list.

Maria Branwell - mother of the Brontës

Maria Branwell

Maria Branwell was born in 15 April 1783 in Penzance, Cornwall. She was the mother of writers Emily Brontë, Anne Brontë and Charlotte Brontë and of their brother, Branwell Brontë, who was a poet and painter.

Maria Branwell was the eighth child of twelve born to Thomas Branwell and Anne Carne in Penzance, Cornwall, although only five daughters and one son grew to adulthood. Thomas Branwell was a successful merchant and owned many properties throughout Penzance. The men of the Branwell family took part in the town's local public life, several serving as Mayor in the 19th century and also in other civic offices. The family were prominent Methodists, Thomas's sister and two of his daughters marrying clergymen of Wesleyan leanings. With the Carne family and others, they initiated and developed the first Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Penzance.

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