My ancestry is mixed English, Scottish and Scots-Irish. I'm English through my father, the well-known violinist Patrick Halling, born in Rowella in Tasmania's Tamar Valley to an English mother. While his paternity remains uncertain, he was raised the son of a Dane, my namesake Carl Halling, more of whom later. His mother my grandmother was always known to my brother and I as Mary, but she'd been born Phyllis Mary Pinnock possibly in the Dulwich area of south London where her family had been based for many years sometime around the turn of the 20th Century. I'll discuss the Scottish and Ulster-Scots side of the family later on in the story, but for now I'd like to concentrate on my dad's ancestry.
Around 1984, I surreptitiously taped the nostalgic ramblings of my great aunt and Mary's younger sister Joan Parrish who together with her Yorkshire-born husband Eric had come to my parents' house for lunch. Eric and Joan had only recently become friends of the family, together with her son Chris Parrish, Chris's wife Janet, and their three children. Many years later, Mary's niece through a brother who'd emigated to the US dropped by the house for dinner. A resident of upstate New York, to my eyes she bore a considerable ressemblance not just to Mary and Joan, but to my my uncle and aunt, Peter and Suzanne. She also looked a little like Peter's daughter my cousin, Kristina Vals-Halling, known as Kris. I'll be referring to them all in due course of time.
According to Joan's testimony recorded that day, her maternal grandmotherís maiden name had been Butler, name which allegedly links the family to the Butlers of Ormonde, a dynasty of Old English nobles of Norman origin which had dominated the south east of Ireland since the Middle Ages, and so making it a lost or discarded branch. The Norman French were of mixed Viking, Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock, and their territorial conquests included England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Sicily. The Norman conquest of England began in 1066 AD with the success at the Battle of Hastings of William the Conqueror which resulted in Norman control of England, and the introduction into the country of the Norman aristocracy. In other words, the Normans replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class of England and became part of a single French-speaking culture with lands on both sides of the channel. The Norman conquest created one of the most formidable monarchies in Europe as well as a highly sophisticated governmental system. It also changed the English language and culture forever while producing a sporadic but fierce rivalry with France, who became her bitterest enemy, remaining so for centuries. In his 1842 poem "Lady Clara Vere de Vere", Alfred, Lord Tennysonn makes the valid point that "Kind hearts are more than coronets, And simple faith than Norman blood." This of course inspired the classic 1949 black comedy "Kind Hearts and Coronets", produced by Michael Balcon, directed by Robert Hamer, and with photography directed by Douglas Slocombe, all legendary stalwarts of the Ealing Studios of the post-war years.
The Butler saga had begun in 1177 when one Theobold FitzWalter, who'd accompanied Henry II into Ireland, was created Chief Butler of Ireland, although the earldom of Ormonde was not created in the Peerage of Ireland until over two hundred years later in 1328. This for the benefit of James Butler, son of Sir Edmund de Botillier and Lady Joan Fitzgerald, who went on to marry Alionore de Bohun, granddaughter of Edward the 1st of the Norman House of Plantagenet, and the so-called ďHammer of the ScotsĒ.
The fifth earl of this creation, James Butler, born in London in October 1610 became the Marquess of Ormonde in 1642, then the Duke in the Peerage of Ireland in 1660, finally becoming Duke of Ormonde in the Peerage of England 22 years after that. He was the first of the Butlers to assume the Protestant faith, which set him at odds with the remainder of Ireland's Old English ruling class which was resolutely Catholic. If the Old English families such as the Butlers, the Burkes and the Fitzgerlads had been more Irish than the Irish themselves, the New English who'd replaced them as Irelandís ruling class by about 1700, were markedly Anglo-Saxon and Protestant.
Phyllis Mary Pinnock
Again according to Joanís testimony, her paternal great-grandfather had been a humble coachman. He was however left a large sum of money by a grateful employer, an extraordinarily philanthropic act which introduced some wealth into the family, and Joan's own father lived as a gentleman, which means he didn't need to work. His eldest daughter Phyllis Mary Pinnock was born, probably on the 12th of March, sometime towards the end, or following the turn of the 20th Century. She grew into an extraordinarily beautiful young woman, with dark hair, green eyes, high cheekbones and an exquisitely sculpted mouth. According to my fatherís account, her first true love had been a beautiful young man by the name of David Wilson. David, who looked a little like the young F Scott Fitzgerald, was allegedly a scion of the Wilson Line of Hull which had developed into the largest privately owned shipping firm in the world in the early part of the century. Tragically, like so many of the country's finest young men, he was killed during the First World War. She subsequently married an army officer by the name of Peter Robinson, and they had two children in quick succession, Peter Bevan and Suzanne, known as Dinny.
At some point between Peterís birth and that of his younger brother Patrick, Phyllis went with husband to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, with the purpose of working as a tea planter. There she met the aforesaid Carl Halling. What followed next I can't say for certain but through family sources, I've been led to believe that at some point after becoming pregnant with her third child, Mary fled with Carl to the island of Tasmania, Australia, where my dad was born, although he was raised, as Carlís son, in Sydney, new South Wales.
It was in Sydney that Carl contracted multiple sclerosis, after which according to family accounts, Mary made a living variously as a journalist, and teacher. In the meantime, according to what Pat has told me Carl embarked on a desperate spiritual search in the hope no doubt that this would yield a miraculous cure. This search took in Christian Science, although if I'm not mistaken prior to his illness Carl had been a student of Eastern spirituality, which had resulted in his becoming fluent in Sanscrit. Presumably this is how he ended up in south Asia. Carl died immediately immediately before the second world war, at which point the family moved to Denmark, where Carl was buried.
All three children had earlier displayed considerable musical talent, Patrick as a violinist, Peter as a cellist and Suzanne as a pianist. By the time Pat was nine years old he was already the soloist for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, with all his wages according to Pat being duly conveyed by Mary into the family account. Soon after Carlís death, Mary and family set off for London in order that Pat and his siblings might further develop their musical careers. Pat studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He joined the London Philharmonic 0rchestra while still a teenager during the Blitz on London, serving in the Sea Cadets as a signaller. As such he saw action on the ships of the Thames River Emergency Service, which were former Thames pleasure steamers converted into floating ambulances or first aid stations.
All Equal in the Eyes of God
Through my father I'm largely English, and proud to be so, although the Pinnock name itself is common in Cornwall and may therefore be of Celtic rather than Anglo-Saxon origin. And yet, according to recent research, the inhabitants of the British Isles, whether English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish, are still predominantly Celtic. Being of mixed English, Scottish and Ulter-Scots blood I am what could be called quintessentially British, although I self-identify as English. England was where I was born, and I feel a strong bond with people of Anglo-Saxon extraction, not just from England itself, but other nations where they are to be found, such as Scotland, Northern Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and so on; but not in an aggressively nationalistic sense. After all, in the end, there is only one race, created by God, the human race.