On the Death of Margaret Wolfe Argles Hungerford [H.2a=]
The Water Colourist of Redcamp: Constance Evans (née Burton-Bradley), by D Evan Evans
Frederick Richard Hungerford [E.6.6a] – loved brother, by Lesley Abrahams
Hungerford Roots in Ireland: Rathbarry, Rosscarbery and Inchydoney Island, by Gavin Donald
Rounding the Horn and More: James Kilpatrick, by Lesley Abrahams
The Tale of Four Houses – Part 1, by Brett Harvey
Understanding context is a vital element in assessing the experiences, motivations and sensitivities of people in their places and times. Walking a mile (or more) in someone else’s shoes often illuminates our regard for them.
It was a comment by Lesley Abrahams, in writing about Frederick Richard Hungerford, which alerted me to this theme. She notes of his book, British Difficulties under Solution, that “Some of his suggestions are dated, but remain an interesting reflection of the social and industrial politics of the day".
Another example is Gavin Donald’s comment about the arrival in Ireland of Emanuel Hungerford’s ancestor, Captain Thomas Hungerford. Whether he came in 1640 to marry, or in 1647 or 1649 for military reasons, sharply changes one’s perception of the Captain, and of the Irish Hungerfords.
Life at sea offers very different contexts to those that most readers experience. The many and varied voyages of Captain James Kilpatrick, elegantly outlined by Lesley Abrahams, meant that his domestic situation seems to have left much to be desired in the eyes of his wife, Florence. How do we regard James’ outlook on home life when we read of his life experiences? See more of his voyages on the HAFS website.
Letters – so valuable for the family historian – no longer exist in the context of most lives (unless we are unusually fortunate). Reading a deeply personal letter, penned by a grief-stricken husband to his sister, is a privilege that few of the younger generation are likely to have. Further, the Christian concern shown by Thomas Henry Hungerford for his sister Alys is likely to come across as unfamiliar, even repellent, to moderns who do not share his faith.
Visual representation communicates across the ages, transcending the need for literacy. Yet interpreting things is more open to contextual factors than texts, since "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" - a phrase coined by a Hungerford, as we learn from Lesley Abrahams’ introduction to Thomas’ letter! But botanical painting is less open to interpretation than other forms of paintings: it is a delight to have Constance Evans’ beautiful work on the inside cover.
This issue is rounded out with text and a gallery of pictures from Brett Harvey of homes in which Hungerfords have lived – a formative factor in all our lives.
Another way of affirming the importance of context is to state that, if we give a fair reading to something, we must be aware of our own life-experiences, assumptions, world-views – and prejudices! Many thanks to the writers who have contributed to this issue. That each article is not only grounded in research but reads well is a credit to their skills.
Please login to continue reading. Not a member? Subscriptions support our research costs. Find out about joining us at our Membership page.