Happiest Day of My Life? It REALLY Was!

‘I just want to say that it the happiest day of my life, it really was. And everybody said it would be and it was.’

With an arm firmly around the waist of her adoring husband and as she gazes up at his handsome face; Nicole talks about the ‘happiest day of my life’ to the videographer on the eve of her wedding day and perhaps if history had taken her and her spouse along a different path; February 2 2018 could have been the 33rd year of her union to one Orenthal James Simpson.

Alas, their union as man and wife lasted a mere seven years and all that remains to us of that fateful day in 1985 are the poignant images of the happy couple and that unanswered question; ‘How could it have all gone so terribly wrong?’

It’s probably a question that the poet Lord Byron was also asking himself on this very day in 1816 as his union of 54 weeks to the former Annabella Milbanke was beginning to unravel in a spectacular fashion and although the popular newspapers had a field day with the tales of the poet’s acrimonious separation which hinted at incest, sodomy and murder precipitating Byron’s exile to Europe and which is still  discussed and argued about some 202 years later!

My 3 x Great Grandparents also married on this day in the coastal town of Scarboro in 1868 and as they are buried together in the local cemetery after a long union which produced nine off-spring; I am quietly confident that no skeletons will come tumbling out of the family closet in the very near future but please don’t hold me to it.

Come to think of it, the month of February remains a strong favourite for a family betrothal as my history journals chronicle several more who journeyed into wedlock during this month; myself included; however and in the words of one Judge Lance Ito let’s return to the Simpson matter!

Having shamelessly neglected my Facebook page in memory of Nicole for several week, today I shared a few edited images of her as a bride and although most have been well received, I had to delete some of the abusive comments posted by one visitor to the site who was furious with me for including the name of ‘Simpson’ as if the man she married had no place in the history of her life.

Now, what’s in a name I hear you ask?

The lady herself is known the world over as Nicole Brown Simpson; a name her family still  use and which remained her legal name until her death and  let’s not forget that in those 911 calls recorded in October 1993 when asked her name; she replied that she was called ‘Nicole Simpson’ even though she had been divorced for over a year and despite the fact that Simpson was still  causing her emotional trouble.

However tempting it is to scribble over those unpleasant tales in the narrative of our history and to air-brush those we dislike from our family tree or to simply deny the existence of others who demean our sense of who we belong to; I have always believed that our duty to the truth is to let our history stand; no matter how imperfect or offensive we may later find it.

And as history records that on this day, Nicole believed that she had married the man of her dreams, her ‘one true love’ and that February 2 1985 was for her at least the ‘best day’ of her life.

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Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho! It’s Off to Bow I Go….

“Look to the past to see what the future holds.” I like this quote from the author Celia Conrad in Wilful Murder, the second of her Alicia Allen Investigates.

I find myself looking to the past on most days at the moment for if I’m not in search of an elusive ancestor for a client or trawling through the 1911 Census for a few of my pesky relatives who still appear reluctant to reveal themselves some 106 years later; I could either be immersed in the year 1815 as the work on my Lord Byron abode continues or otherwise curled up in a quiet corner somewhere with Lady Byron and Her Daughters; and before you ask, it is the title of a new biography about His Lordship’s much maligned spouse!

However, one rainy weekend and in the company of my genealogical assistant, I literally took a walk in the past during a visit to London for as I trekked up and down Fairfield Road in Bow which is not only the road that my family live near but also the road that Hargrave Potter, the son of my 4 x Great Grandfather was trekking along on that very weekend an incredible 130 years earlier!

The History Sleuth’s Companion Pauses Before the Spot Where Number 36 Fairfield Road Had Once Stood Some 130 Years Earlier…

I have only recently acquainted myself with Hewitson Potter, my 4 x Great Grandfather who was born in Scarborough in 1815 and with the blessing of an unusual first name (a boon for any genealogist, however well experienced!) and an illustrious career as a Master Mariner; Hewitson was also the patriarch of an impressive number of off-spring.

However in 1865 with Hewitson’s early death in Nova Scotia, little Hargrave along with his mother Susannah and siblings Mary and John would make their home in Scarborough with his older sister Ann Stephenson and her husband John Edeson.

And there Hargrave was to remain living alongside his sister’s family and his many cousins (including my 2 x Great Grandfather Charles Edward) in their cozy home on Seamer Road until after his eighteenth birthday in 1881 and when shortly after as a skilled carpenter, he would make his way to London and make the acquaintance of one Mary Jane Duffus, who despite sharing the same birthplace as Hargrave, was to spend her childhood with her family in Mile End.

November 13 1887 is a date infamous with London’s long and troubled history and known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ when over 30,000 protesters including the playwright George Bernard Shaw marched around Trafalgar Square in a demonstration against rising unemployment, the poor living wage and the British government Coercion Acts that gave rise to the suspension of a number of civil rights including imprisonment without trial.

Despite the violent clashes that took place between the police and the protesters with over 400 arrests and many badly injured, the demonstrations were to continue until February 1888 when the political landscape began to eventually change for the better.

Sunday November 13 1887 also witnessed the betrothal of Hargrave and Mary Jane at the Parish Church of Holy Trinity in Mile End.

And despite the inauspicious date of their union as man and wife and the early death of their first-born James Hewitson Potter before his second birthday in 1889; history indicates that their marriage was of some duration and Hargrave lived until his 76th year.

However, I think that a return to the present is now called for as I’m off to search for those chocolate biscuits that I have hidden somewhere…

For an interesting read about ‘Bloody Sunday’, why not pay a visit to TURBULENT LONDON The Historical Geography of Protests, Riots and General Mischief in London… Enjoy!