Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pickering village flooded

My future great-grandfather William John Pïckering [1843-1914] left London for the Antipodes aboard the Zealandia in 1860, at the age of 17. He got off the ship in Auckland, New Zealand, where he ended up working as a surveyor, planning the layout of the future great city. It wasn’t until a couple of decades later that he decided to step across to Australia, where he purchased an outback sheep property, got married to a local girl, and raised a large family.

Meanwhile, his youngest brother, John Edward Latton Pïckering [1851-1926], remained in London, where he became a librarian at the law courts known as the Inner Temple. He seems to have led a sophisticated existence, residing in an elegant old house called Cedar Cottage in Datchet, on the opposite side of the Thames to Windsor Castle.

Over the last few days, this lovely old village has been on the front page of British news because of the severe flooding.

It was in Datchet that we saw images of the two princes, William and Harry, manipulating sandbags alongside their military comrades.

For a long time, I liked to imagine that my great-grandfather had immigrated to a harsh Down Under environment that provided me with the title of my genealogical writings: They Sought the Last of Lands. Meanwhile, I had the impression that his young brother led a relatively cosy existence in Datchet, enhanced by his unexpected decision to get involved in a bigamous union with a parson’s daughter from Chelsea, enabling them to create a family of five offspring.

Today, I’m no longer sure about the relative environmental harshness of the two places: the dusty plains of  Currabubula Station out beyond Tamworth, or the submerged banks of the Thames.

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