Shedding Light on the Past
I always enjoy hearing from readers and it’s particularly gratifying to find that my books have enriched their lives in one way or another. This was the case with Adam Quinan, who emailed me about Betrayal and Conquest. As an aside, one of the joys – and challenges – of being an author of historical fiction is to be able to do our best to bring the past alive. Historians can only go so far, as they are constrained by having to find evidence in the form of primary sources and documents of any assertion they make; the novelist can use his imagination and what-if thinking to join up the dots in an exciting way…
Over to Adam:
‘I’ve been slowly catching up with the Kydd series and have just finished Conquest and Betrayal. My great great great grandfather Lieutenant John Thomson was first lieutenant of HMS Narcissus under Captain Donnelly from 1803 – 1806. He was involved in the Cape Town and Buenos Aires expeditions.
Earlier in his career he had been involved in General Abercrombie’s landing at Aboukir Bay which must have come in useful during the landing in Cape Town.
In Buenos Aires he was appointed as Acting-Commander of the captured Spanish ship Neptuno and appointed Port Captain of Buenos Aires (according to a family memorandum) just as Kydd was.
Unfortunately, unlike Kydd, he was not able to escape after Beresford’s surrender and was captured and held prisoner until the following year’s expedition when he was released and sent back to the UK.
The full story of his naval career which also involved his service with his father under Sir Edward Pellew aboard HMS Indefatigable and his later activities as a commander in the War of 1812 on the North American station, together with some supporting documents from the National Archives etc. can be found at a website that my brother and I prepared a number of years ago.’As a postscript Adam told me:
‘John Thomson 2 had two daughters, one of whom, Emma Jane, married my great great grandfather Dr E.J. Quinan of Dublin in 1851. Unfortunately, John Thomson’s Lloyds Patriotic Fund Sword is no longer in the family, My father years ago traced it to an auction sometime in the 1950s but the purchaser’s name was withheld for privacy reasons. Similarly, the Ottoman medal is no longer in the family.’