Reflection on Q

QEDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the A to Z Challenge, an exercise in self-flagellation we bloggers inflict upon ourselves to teach us discipline as writers and to build audience. During the month of April, I’ll be posting 26 times, once for every letter in the alphabet. Looking on the bright side, we can each be thankful this is an English language exercise and not Khmer, the language of Cambodia, which sets the world record with a 74-character alphabet! After some misgivings, I’ve decided to proceed with my initial idea of blogging about the special people in my life whose names begin with the appropriate letter. There will be difficulties, like having more than one special person whose names begin with the same letter, forcing me to choose. And then there are those letters — O, Q and X among them — where no name springs readily to mind. What will I do then? We’ll have to wait and see!


Q is for Queen

A temperamental queen lives inside my cupboard. She doesn’t like the cold, and only comes out when the weather’s fair.

On warm summer evenings I’ll get reacquainted with my frosty queen, for she is Queen Victoria, and her visage adorns my bottle of Bombay Dry Gin. I’ll pour a measure of that juniper-scented liquor over ice, add a wedge of lime and top it with that other Q word, quinine water. After a quick stir, I’ll sit on my deck and think about my English ancestors, who crossed the sea in wooden ships.

According to a genealogical record compiled by my uncle, my forebears arrived in America in 1697. Details are sketchy, and some of the dates don’t make a lot of sense, but it appears that back in England, a law was passed to restore property to people who had fled religious persecution, and because of that, my earliest known ancestors, James and Catherine, left their children in the care of “loyal servants” while they went back across the Atlantic to claim property in Dorchester.

Lulworth Castle in Dorset, England. Could this be my ancestral home? Might I still have a claim?
Lulworth Castle in Dorset. Could this be my ancestral home? Might I still have a claim?

Well, as fate would have it, my relatives were apparently lost at sea, though nobody knows that for sure. I guess it’s possible they reached England safely, reacquired their land, and decided to leave the kids in America, which seems reasonable. As a parent, I know I’ve had days like that.

But whatever happened, James and Catherine were never heard from again, at least not in America, where their loyal servants’ loyalty had a limit, because they soon gave the children up, making them wards of the state.

What that means is that my earliest ancestors were on the public dole right off the bat, which makes me wonder at the logic of latter-day relatives who ended up as heartless Republicans. But that’s just one of many things to consider as I lean back in my chair on a warm summer evening, the ice cubes gently clinking as I raise the glass to my lips.

Preparing a toast.
Preparing a toast.

Would I have left my children in the servants’ charge while tempting fate by crossing the ocean a second time aboard a wooden ship? And if James and Catherine never reached England again, might I still have rights to their unclaimed property?

No, probably not, I tell myself, in answer to both questions.

Perhaps I lack their spirit of adventure, or at least have a better notion of where my true responsibilities lie. At any rate, their decision is well out of my hands, something I can’t say about this bottle bearing Queen Victoria’s image, which is still within easy reach.

I think I’ll pour myself another, and raise my glass in toast to James and Catherine, who perhaps stood at the taffrail and raised their own glasses in a farewell toast to small children on a dwindling shore.



Add yours →

  1. I was waiting for Q – and I am mind-blown. This is so interesting. What if you do have a claim to that castle. You’d be royalty! And what if James and Catherine had more children in Dorchester! Soo many possibilities 😛
    But on a serious note it is so cool that you have a genealogy compiled . I wish I had that tooo!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah what an awesome castle! I hope you can still claim a right – I shall surely come visiting! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This reads like a novel–intriguing characters, peril, alcohol…! I sometimes wonder what Queen Victoria would think about her visage used on a bottle of gin. She certainly had a lot of influence during her lengthy reign. Your post has me wanting to go read some more Victorian history–it’s such a great period!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I took a bit of liberty with Queen Victoria, since it’s her picture on the bottle of gin. She didn’t actually reign until much after my relatives were (apparently) lost at sea. I think it was King William III who was on the throne in 1697. Since there are so many Williams in my family, I wonder if he’s the inspiration … hmmmm. Anyway, Queen Vickie, or rather the contents of her bottle, merely provided the brain lubrication for dreaming up what in the world I was going to write about for the letter Q, so I can’t blame her for leading poor James and Catherine to their presumed watery deaths.


  4. Wow, very interesting. You should publish a book with your A to Z.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh dear, I need a Gin (Gordans) and Tonic after reading that. Poor relatives. I would also like my own castle in Dorset. Beautiful place.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was also waiting anxiously for Q! Fascinating family history. Perhaps you are 142nd in line for the throne (or at least can claim ownership to one of the turrets). All Hail the Queen!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Quinine is a great Q word! I’m going to keep that in mind for next year. If I do a sailing theme again, I can definitely work that in as lots of folks like a nice G&T to drink when the sun goes down.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As a duchess, I will attempt to make a claim to any property you may have in England. Though I’ll leave the nasty stuff (like taxes) to you.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: