The girl from the village of apple blossoms


While I’m waiting to hear from publishers to whom I’ve submitted the proposal for Syd’s biography I’ve been working on a series of geneological stories. This was a little vignette I wrote about Christiana Link, the mother of … well, you’ll have to read the book to see where she fits. I thought it was a lovely name, lovely village, great story. Only trouble is I made a mistake. Christiana isn’t the mother of my ancestor as I thought. She was married on the same day and I conflated two forms.

Here is the story of Christiana Link and William Hedge, who were not, and never will be, my ancestors.


The girl from the village of apple blossoms.

Putley is an ancient village, close to the Roman road. The eleventh century Domesday Book mentions the collection of houses at Putterlee. A “lee” is a wooded glade. It is a tiny village which, for centuries, has been renowned for  the fragrant orchards which produced cider and sherry for the London market.

The barrels have trundled through the narrow lanes pulled by horse and cart along the Roman Road to London, sometimes slowing for pilgrims who, for centuries, have walked The Way of St James or the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, pilgrimage paths from the cathedral of Santiago da compostela in north-west Spain to St. James Garlickhythe in London. Along the route they would rest and have their credencial, or pilgrim’s passport, stamped with the impression of a scallop shell.

Christiana Links was born in the Herfordshire countryside and was christianed by her parents Thomas and Ann on 5 April 1773 in the Putley church built by William De’Evreux, one of William the Conqueror’s knights. Beside the church in the village graveyard, a 14th century churchyard cross with magnificent carvings still rises up above the humble tombstones, just as it did on the day the girl was baptised.

The villages would sometimes take in the pilgrims and hear their stories, learning more of world beyond their apple orchards. The men who arrived with their wagons to take the cider to London also brought stories of the ancient city and, by the time Christiana was born, they were speaking of a city that was spreading eastwards, and had already consumed the quiet country fields around Bethnal Green.

Putley’s cider and sherry were sold at a market beside the dock at Garlickhythe. Hythe means landing place and the reference to garlic arose because, from at least the twelve century, ships from France arrived with garlic and wine.

Even without the news from the merchants and pilgrims, the villages of Putley knew the world was changing. The nearest village was Mordiford. They were all related, the people of Putley and Mordiford, sharing a limited number of surnames.

Christiana was born into the world of enclosures, when the new merchant class determined to buy land. But the old aristocracy, some the remnans of knights of the Normans but more the landed gentry who had been granted the land confiscated by Henry VIIIth from the Catholic monastries, had land ownership in a stranglehold So the merchants turned their attention to the ancient commons, land surrounding villages on which everyone could graze a limited number of stock and they passed laws which allowed the commons to be sold to private ownership. It was brutal and produced shock waves which ripple to today.

It required harsh new laws which, overnight, produced an explosion of new crimes. From 1765, judges could hand out the death penalty for the following offences:

  • Murder; treason; coining money; arson; rape; sodomy; piracy; forgery; destroying ships; bankrupts concealing their possessions; highway robbery; house breaking; pick pocketing or stealing over one shilling; shoplifting over five shillings; stealing bonds or bills; stealing above 40 shillings in any house; stealing linen; maiming cattle; shooting at a revenue officer; pulling down houses or churches; destroying a fishpond, causing the loss of fish; cutting down trees in an avenue or garden; cutting down river banks; cutting hop binds; setting fire to corn or coal mines; concealing stolen goods; returning from transportation; stabbing an unarmed person; concealing the death of a bastard child; maiming a person; sending threatening letters; riots by 12 or more persons; stealing from a ship in distress; stealing horses, cattle or sheep; servants stealing more than 40 shillings from their master; breaking bail or escaping from prison; attempting to kill privy councillors; sacrilege; armed smuggling; robbery of the mail; destruction of turnpikes or bridges (Steve Jones, Capital Punishment, 1992).

Between 1700 and 1800 there were over 200 crimes which warranted the death penalty. In 1718 the Transportation act was passed, allowing the death penalty to be transmitted to transportation. Between 1718 and 1776, two British people were transported every day, totaling almost 50,000 British convicts were transported to the Americas where they were sold into slavery. By 1772, 60% all male convicts in England were being transported and by 1775 only 10%  received prison sentences.

The villagers of Mordiford were hit hard by this new regime. The Links appear disproportionately in the statute books and many of Christiana’s cousins died in America. Most of the transported Links were sent to Pennysylvania, which remains the state with the largest concentration of that surname in the United States.

Christiana did not suffer this fate. She was in her twenties when she caught the eye of William Hedge. He was from the Parish of St James so he was very likely one of the men who arrived to take the cider to London. They were married on on 26 Nov 1797 in St James Garlickhithe in the City of London. The girl from the village of apple blossums went to live in the city.





About lynettefinch

Dr Lynette Finch. Once I was a poster designer and illustrator. I ran a small poster business called Mantis Prints, specializing in political posters during the odd days of the Bjelke-Petersen Government in Queensland. I’m told my posters hung on the walls of Rizhsky railway station in Moscow, although I’m not sure about that. They are in the collections of the Queensland Art Gallery, on several on-line websites, and in the following book: Lynne Seear and Julie Ewington, eds. Light II, Contemporary Australian Art 1966-2006, Queensland Art Gallery Publishing, 2007, pp. 110-117. In my next incarnation I was a senior lecturer in history. I published books and articles on urban health and feeding people in modern industrial cities, on the Queensland home front in the second world war and the role and history of war propaganda. Sometimes I wrote about Marxism and its impact around the world as well as intimate oral histories of communists in Australia, their experiences in conservative society, their role as social and political radicals in small towns and cities. Once I went through a death phase and wrote about the role of the Coroners Court in colonial society, about abortion and infanticide in nineteenth century cities, and about the role of gossip in policing. My research took a decidedly happier direction when I was granted an Arts Fellowship to Antarctica in the 2007/08 season, as research for a biography about Antarctic surveyor and explorer Syd Kirkby. I bunkered down in a blizzard in Brooke's hut near Davis station and imagined what it was like for Syd, caught for twelve days in a 150-knot blizzard, high in the plateau beyond Mawson in 1960. Some of my books: Australia’s Frontline: Remembering the 1939-45 War. With the rapid escalation of the Pacific War in 1942, Queenslanders suddenly found themselves perilously close to the frontline, especially those in the far north. The book is based on interviews of men and women who worked their farms in the north, some of them Italians and Germans who were interned as enemy aliens. Nevertheless, the book is essentially a story of courage, of community spirit and neighbourliness, and of the public and private war effort of a community facing crisis and loss. Dark Angel: Propaganda in Modern Warfare. This book traces the origins and development of propaganda and media manipulation from the 1800s to today’s ‘spin’ and ‘false news’. Why have governments at war allocated resources to propaganda leaflets, broadcasts, movies and art during major military conflicts? Read the book. You’ll find the answer. The Classing Gaze: Sexuality, Class and Surveillance. Concepts like sexuality and class share the same moment of birth during the nineteenth century as social inquiry turned to analysis of the workings, population growth, thought patterns, economic systems and internal bodily workings of humans (or Man, to be historically accurate). How did these ideological concepts impact in the real world? A great deal, is the short answer, outlined in this book. Young in a Warm Climate: a history of childhood in Queensland is an edited volume about childhood on the Queensland frontiers, at school, at home, in hospitals and other institutions. Fixing Antarctica: Mapping the Frozen South. In 1956, in the height of the cold war, the biggest wintering expedition that Australia had ever sent to Antarctica set out to map the great frozen landmass of Antarctica, driven by official fears that the Soviet Union meant to take the continent for themselves. The fourteen scientists were chosen from a field of hundreds of applicants. The surveyor, the central character in Fixing Antarctica, was Sydney Kirkby. Over the next twenty years, Syd Kirkby explored and map more unknown regions in the world than any other person in history. Earth, Wind and Fire is essentially twelve generations of my father’s mother’s family but it’s much more than that. It’s kind of Game of Thrones without the dragons. It starts with a kidnapped girl in Shelford, Nottinghamshire in the east midlands of England in 1618 and follows an unbroken chain of recorded births, deaths and marriages which spans four centuries until, six generations later, her descendants flee their farms in Ireland and join the diaspora to Australia. Using family stories, family photographs, published diaries and official documents, it’s the interwoven stories of five families struggling to survive amidst the most tumultuous times in European history. What’s next? I’m wandering into the boggy territory of creative fiction, writing a series of crime stories set on King Island, a beautiful windy island in the Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania. I’ve finished the first draft of Book One, The Rock. There will be seven, I think. I’m also writing a stand along novel, called The Key Collector. It’s about a World traveller, Angela who settles in a Tasmanian village near her daughter and grandson where she witnesses a car crash that kills three women. Convinced the collision was an act of murder, she digs into the tragic lives of the victims and is mired in a mystery stretching across three continents and reaching into the second world war.

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