The Ascent of Miss Ann Watt
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The Mystery of Ormonde
I was born Carl Robert Halling at 3.50 in the afternoon of 7 October 1955 at the tail end of West London’s Goldhawk Road which is a bit of a no-man’s-land inasmuch as it’s the only part of the road – prominently featured Franc Roddam’s 1979 film of the Who’s “Quadrophenia” - not to bisect Shepherds Bush, being officially in Hammersmith, but considered by some to be part of the more bourgeois area of Chiswick.
My first home was a small workman’s cottage in Notting Hill, but by the time of his brother's birth on the 2cnd May 1958, the family had already moved to nearby Bedford Park, which while also in Chiswick, but by postcode this time, is part of the Southfields ward of the largely working class district of South Acton, which contains the largest council estate in West London, the South Acton estate.
My father had been born in Rowella in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, but largely raised in Sydney, the son of an Englishwoman, Phyllis Mary Pinnock, probably hailing from the Dulwich area of south London, and a Dane by the name of Carl Halling. However, his paternity is uncertain, given that his two siblings, Peter and Suzanne, had been born in Britain to a British father, one Peter Robinson, and Phyllis had left her husband while already pregnant with Patrick.
According to Phyllis’s younger sister Joan, their maternal grandmother’s maiden name had been Butler, which allegedly links the family to the Butlers of Ormond, a dynasty of Anglo-Norman nobles named after the Earldom they went on to rule in Munster, Ireland, although Walter was the name by which they were first known.
The Butler saga begins in earnest with the Norman Invasions of Ireland, which took place in 1169 at the behest of one Dermot MacMurrough, who ruled over Leinster, one of the five kingdoms of pre-Norman Ireland. He'd recently been forced into exile by a coalition of forces led by the High King of Ireland Rory O'Connor, and had fled first to Bristol and then to Normandy, where from King Henry II, first English King of the House of Plantagenet, he'd asked permission to use Norman soldiers in regaining his kingdom. Henry granted his desire.
A beautiful land once given over to Druidry and the worship of the Sidhe or Faery Folk, Ireland had long been Christian. Nonetheless, an invasion had already been authorised by the first English Pope Adrian IV in 1155, before being blessed by his successor, Pope Alexander III, and facilitated by the King of England. However, it was carried out by native Normans under the leadership of the Earl of Pembroke, Richard de Clare, and their English, Irish, Welsh and Flemish allies. Also allegedly taking part was the said Theobald Walter, patriarch of the Butlers of Ormond.
Two years after the invasion, Henry II set foot in Ireland, the first English King to do so, and so High Kingship was brought to an end, to be replaced by over 750 years of English rule. Henry was an ancestor of future generations of Butlers, and a grandson of William the Conqueror, which allegedly links the Butler family to the mysterious Merovingian dynasty of Frankish Kings.
When Henry's son with Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the future King John of England Prince John arrived in Ireland in 1185, he was accompanied by Theobald Walter, and as his father had been Butler of England, he was appointed Butler of Ireland and given a portion of land in eastern Munster that would become known as Ormond. Hence the name, the Butlers of Ormond.
Theobald married Maud le Vavasour, probably around 1200, and they had one son, Theobald le Botiller, 2cnd Baron Butler (1200-1230), who himself married Joan du Marais, having one son, Theobald Butler. In around 1242, he married Margery de Burgh, a descendant of both Dermot McMurrough and the legendary Brian Boru, thereby bringing royal Gaelic blood into the Butler bloodline.
One of their grand-children James Butler was appointed Earl of Ormond in 1328, the Earldom having been created for him. His mother was Lady Eleanor de Bohun, grand-daughter of Edward I of the House of Plantagenet, also known as the Angevins from their origins in Anjou, France. Known as The Hammer of the Scots, he was the King who'd so cruelly put Scottish landowner Sir William Wallace to death in 1305 for having led a resistance during the Wars of Scottish independence, as depicted in "Braveheart" (1993), the Oscar-winning epic directed by Mel Gibson.
As if this weren't enough, he'd earlier expelled all the Jews from England through his Edict of Expulsion of 1290, and they didn't return in any great numbers until 1656. Their readmission was largely thanks to the Dutch Rabbi, Menasseh Ben Israel, whose Humble Addresses to the Lord Protector of 1655 resulted in the Whitehall Conference being convened by Cromwell in December of that year. Attended by prominent statesmen, lawyers, and theologians, its main result was a declaration that "there was no law which forbade the Jews' return to England", which was true since they'd been expelled by Royal decree and not through an act of parliament.
Of the Millenarians present, most hoped to convert the returning Jews to Christianity, thereby hastening the Second Coming and the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth prophesied in Scripture, a more radical wing insisting that it was England's duty to accept them or face the full fury of God's wrath. Cromwell himself is believed to have shared their millenarian hopes. More practically, he was aware of the contribution made by Jews to the economic success of the Netherlands, and believed they might also benefit an England exhausted by the Civil War. Sadly, the conference could reach no definite decision on the Jews, and Menasseh returned to Holland a broken man convinced he'd failed in his mission, and devastated by his son's recent death, dying himself soon afterwards at only 53.
Shortly after his death, however, Jews began returning in small numbers to England and a synagogue in the City of London swelled to 35 families, while a Jewish presence was established in the Square Mile when Menasseh's nephew Solomon Dormido became a member of the Royal Exchange. This marked the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship between the Jews and the British Establishment which culminated in the creation of the first Jewish prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in 1874.
Returning to my own purported ancestry, the Earldom of Ormond was created for Theobald's grandson, James Butler, son of Sir Edmund and Lady Joan Fitzgerald in. Through their issue all subsequent Earls of Ormonde were descended. The 7th Earl, Thomas Butler was the great-grandfather of Anne and Mary Boleyn. On his death, Piers Roe Butler became the 8th Earl, but as the King wanted the Earldom of Ormond for Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne and Mary, Piers resigned his claim in 1528. Ten years later, it was restored to him, heralding the title's third creation. By this time, England had become a Protestant nation, and the Anglican faith established in Ireland as the state religion, despite the fact that the vast majority of the people were Catholic.
Years of vicious feuding between Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond - known as the Black Earl - and his own mother's family the Fitzgeralds, culminated in a victory for the Butlers in 1565 at the Battle of Afane. which helped provoke the Desmond Rebellions of 1569-73 and 1579-83, the second of which was bolstered by hundreds of Papal troops. Defeated by the Elizabethan Armies and their Irish allies - Court favourites the Butlers predominant among them - they were succeeded by the first English Plantations carried out in a devastated Munster.
A few years later in 1609 the first Ulster Plantation came into being in the wake of the Nine Years War which was largely fought in Ulster, the island's most Gaelic region, between Ulster chieftains and their Catholic allies, including in 1601-1602, 6000 Spanish soldiers sent by Phillip II, and the Protestant Elizabethan government. The routing of the Ulster Earls and their allies led to the famous Flight of the Earls to Europe, the end of the Gaelic Clan system, and the colonization of Ulster by English and Scottish Protestants.
As for the Earldom of Ormond, the fifth Earl of its third creation James Butler was placed in command of English government forces based in Dublin following The Irish Rebellion of 1641, which was an uprising by the Old English Catholic gentry who had become more Irish than the Irish themselves. Most of the country was taken by the Catholic rebels, whose leader was the Duke's own cousin Richard Butler, 3rd Viscount Mountgarret, and in time it evolved into a conflict between the native Irish and the newly arrived Protestant settlers from Britain which resulted in the massacre of thousands of Protestants, the precise number being a matter of much debate.
A year later, with the English Civil War (1641-1651) under way, Ormond, who was a Royalist sympathizer, despatched an estimated 4000 troops to England to fight for King Charles I of the Scottish House of Stuart against the English Calvinist Roundheads under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, and was made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland by Royal Appointment in 1643.
By 1649, Ireland had become a stronghold of support for the King with Ormonde in overall charge of the Royalist forces and Irish Confederation of native Gaels and Old English Catholics, all of which had the effect of attracting the attention of Cromwell and his New Model Army. Ormonde attempted to thwart the English Puritan invaders by holding a line of fortified towns across the country, but their leader defeated them one after the other, beginning in 1649 with the Siege of Drogheda.
In the summer of 1650, following a long series of humiliating defeats for the Irish, Ormond, having been deserted by Protestants and Catholics alike, was urged to leave the country by the Catholic clergy, which he promptly did, seeking refuge in Paris with the exiled Charles II. On the Restoration of the Stuart Monarchy in 1660, James Butler was showered with honours by the new King of England, Scotland and Ireland including being made Duke of Ormonde in the peerage of Ireland in the spring of '61.
Eight year later, he fell from favour as a result, allegedly, of courtly intrigue on the part of Royal favourite James Villiers, the 2cnd Duke of Buckingham. In 1671, an attempt was made on his life by an Irish adventurer named Thomas Blood, but Ormonde escaped, convinced that Buckingham had put him up to it, but nothing was ever proven. In 1682, he became Duke of Ormonde in the peerage of England, dying four years later in Dorset, and soon after his death, a poem was published which celebrated his great nobility of character, an essential decency that was never compromised.
One of his sons, the 2cnd Duke of Ormonde, commanded a regiment at the Battle of the Boyne under William of Orange, and took part in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. His son was the third and final Duke of Ormonde. The Earldom, however, lasted until the end of the 20th Century, becoming dormant in October 1997 with the death of James Butler the 7th Marquess of Ormonde, who had two daughters, but no sons. It may be that Carl Robert Halling is a distant relative...and there is no reason to doubt this given that his great aunt Joan was an honest and down to earth woman little given to moonspinning.
According to her testimony, her paternal grandfather had been a coachman whose employer bequeathed him a fortune, an act of extraordinary generosity which presumably had the effect of introducing the family to wealth, which had not existed previously, because despite being allegedly related by blood to the Butlers of Ormonde, theirs was a lost or aberrant branch…if of course the story is actually true in the first place, rather than being part of family mythology.
If it is, then I'm related to many perhaps even all of the most blue-blooded families not just in Europe but the entire world.
My grandmother Phyllis Mary Pinnock was born- probably on the 12th of March- sometime towards the end of the 19th or beginning of the 20th century.
According to my father's account, her first true love David Wilson was 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. Sadly, he perished during the First World War like so many of England’s most gilded young men, the flower of England, immortalised in Wilfred Owen’s “Anthem for Doomed Youth”.
She subsequently married an officer in the British army, the aforesaid Peter Robinson, and they had two children, Peter Bevan who went on to become a successful musician, and Suzanne, known as Dinny. At some point between Peter’s birth and that of Patrick, Phyllis decamped with her husband to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, with the purpose of working as a tea planter. In Ceylon, two other men were working as tea planters at the same time as her, namely, Carl Halling, her second husband, and Christopher Evans, her third. Carl was a mysterious seeker and student of Eastern mysticism fluent in Sanscrit who’d somehow managed to lose a considerable personal fortune and so ended up in Ceylon.
At some point after becoming pregnant with her third child, she took off with Carl to Tasmania, where the child was born Patrick Clancy Halling, to be raised as Carl’s son, but largely 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.
All three children were musically gifted, Patrick as a violinist, Peter as a cellist and Suzanne as a pianist, but of all of them Pat was the true prodigy. By the time he was just nine years old he was already the soloist for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, but he reserved his real passion for the water, this love of the sea and ships and specifically sailing being a legacy from his mother Mary - as she went on to be known by Pat and his immediate family – who spent much of her adult life by the sea.
Soon after Carl’s death on the eve of the second world war, Mary and her family set off for Denmark, Carl having wished to be buried in his native country, and then to London where Pat studied both at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under the tutelage of the great Austrian violinist Max Rostal.
He joined the London Philharmonic 0rchestra while still a teenager during the Blitz on London, serving in the Sea Cadets as a signaller, and seeing action as such on the hospital ships of the Thames River Emergency Service, which had been formed in 1938 and lasted for three years, using converted Thames pleasure steamers as floating ambulances or first aid stations
Following his time with the LP0, Pat played with the London Symphony Orchestra together with his brother Peter, going on to specialize in Chamber music, his career incorporating eight years with the Hirsch quartet, led by Leonard Hirsch, with Pat, Stephen Shingles and Francisco Gabarro on violin, viola and cello respectively, and the formation of his own string quartet, the Quartet Pro Musica, with Ernest Scott, Gwynne Edwards, and Peter. He also played with the Virtuoso Ensemble, whose distinctions have included first British performances of works by Peter Racine Fricker and Humphrey Searle, among other British 20th Century composers.
The Ascent of Miss Ann Watt
In the late 1940s, he married my mother, the Canadian singer Ann Watt. She had been born Angela Jean Watt to British-born parents in the city of Brandon, Manitoba. Her father an Irish builder from Castlederg in County Tyrone had been born into a Presbyterian family of probable Scottish extraction, while her mother was from Glasgow, having been born there to an English father from Liverpool or Manchester, and a Scottish mother, which means my mother is of mixed Lowland Scottish, Scots-Irish and English ancestry, whatever that might signify.
My paternal grandfather was probably a descendant of the planters sent by the English to Ulster, many of them originally inhabitants of the Anglo-Scottish border country and the Lowland region of Scotland. Lowlanders are traditionally distinct from their Highland counterparts, being Anglo-Saxon rather than Gaelic, although sense dictates that in their bloodline a variety of strains would be found including as well as Anglo-Saxon, Pictish, Gaelic, Norman, and so on.
Many of these Ulster Scots emigrated to the United States in the 1600s, and their descendants are to be found all throughout the US, but most famously perhaps in the South, where the greatest proportion of those identifying as just American are believed to be the descendants of the original Colonials and therefore mainly of British (English and Scots-Irish) ancestry.
Angela Watt was the youngest of six children – with only five surviving - born to James and Elizabeth Watt and the only one not to be born in either Scotland or Ireland. While still an infant, the family moved to the Grandview area of East Vancouver where James found work as a carpenter. By this time, James had abandoned the extreme Presbyterian Calvinism of his Ulster boyhood and youth for the sake of the Wesleyan theology of the Salvation Army, and my mother was raised in the Army at a time their approach to Scripture was what would be called Fundamentalist today.
His swing from the extreme (Calvinist) Protestantism of his youth in Ulster to the Wesleyan Arminianism of the Salvation Army could not have been more radical.
To explain, Calvinists are those Christians who've traditionally subscribed to what is known as the Doctrines of Grace - or Five Points of Calvinism - which stem from the Protestant Reformation. According to these doctrines, God predestined a limited Elect of men and women to be saved and that this election is unconditional, given Man's total inability to respond to the Gospel without Grace, which is irresistible, and that salvation is irrevocable.
Calvin was himself powerfully influenced by Augustine of Hippo (345-430), the great North African Church Father who was an early proponent of a type of Christian determinism known as Predestination. This is based on the belief that God has foreordained every minute detail of history from the foundation of the world, including who would come to salvation in Christ, and who would be passed over. Double predestination, which was emphasized by John Calvin involves God's active reprobation - or rejection - of the non-Elect. Up until Augustine, the majority of Church Fathers were advocates of the doctrine of Free Will, later revived by Jacobus Arminius and John Wesley.
Some Calvinists are what is known as supralapsarian, from the Latin lapsus meaning fall. They believe that God's Elective Decree occurred prior to the Creation and Fall, and that it was accompanied by the reprobation of the non-elect. Calvin himself was a supralapsarian. Others, known as infralapsarian, maintain that Election followed the Fall. Most have been supporters of double predestination, thereby allegedly forming part of the largest group within Reformed theology.
Calvinist Churches became known as Reformed in Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, and Presbyterian In Britain and the nations colonised by British Presbyterians such as the United States, Canada and Australia. Their faith was early expressed in written confessions, or creeds, such as the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession of Faith, and the Canons of Dordt, as well as the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Catechisms. All are in essential agreement, together with the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, which has been upheld by Calvinist Baptist churches to this day.
After having been employed to defend Predestination from the attacks of fellow Dutchman Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert, The Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius began to have doubts about the doctrine himself and so the seeds of Arminianism was born, although this was never formulated in Arminius' lifetime, and Arminius himself never saw himself as anything other than Reformed. According to Arminianism, Election doesn't involve reprobation and is in accordance to God's foreknowledge of who will and who won't come to saving faith under the influence of God's universal or prevenient Grace.
After Arminius' death, his followers became known as the Remonstrants. They maintained Election came through, rather than being as a result of unconditional predestination (followed by spiritual regeneration), that atonement was universal and Grace resistible, and that salvation can be lost. The only one of the five points of Calvinism which they upheld was Total Depravity, although for them, this didn't involve a total inability to respond to the Gospel. They expressed their beliefs through the Five Articles of Remonstrance known as the
However, the Synod of Dordrecht of 1618-'19, which had been organised for the express purpose of condemning Arminius' theology, declared both it and its followers anathemas, before drawing up the Five Points of Calvinism, and expelling all Arminian pastors from the Netherlands.
Were it not for one man, Arminianism might have been in danger of vanishing into the shadows of history. That man was Anglican Minister John Wesley. Wesley effectively revived the reviled doctrine of Arminianism, handing it down to succeedent generations of Arminians, including members of the Methodist, Nazarene and Holiness churches, as well as most Pentecostals and Charismatics, and of course the Salvation Army, possibly the most famous manifestation of Wesley's emphasis of God's love for Man, and specifically the poor, the unfortunate and the maltreated.
At the same time, like Arminius, John Wesley never saw himself as anything other than Reformed, a word now almost completely associated with Calvinism. What's more he remained a faithful Anglican for the entirety of his life. Yet, while a passionate opponent of slavery and other violations of human rights, he was a conservative Biblicist who upheld God's fierce hatred of sin. He passed this fiery Arminianism on to the Methodist and Holiness churches, including the Salvation Army and the Church of the Nazarene, and it's still in existence today, not just within Pentecostalism, which contains Christians devoted to a return Biblical or Classical Pentecostalism, but Fundamental Wesleyanism. The Salvation Army was once a haven of Fundamental Wesleyanism, and one of its zealots was my paternal grandfather James Watt, who was opposed to worldly pleasures such as dancing and the theatre, and in his day, even the drinking of tea or coffee was frowned upon.
At the age of 14, Angela joined her friend Marie and Marie’s mother on a car trip just beyond the US-Canadian border into the state of Washington, where she saw her very first movie, a romantic civil war picture entitled “Only the Brave” starring Gary Cooper and Mary Brian. Its effect on her was little short of seismic, as by her own admission it introduced worldly ideas into her psyche for the very first time.
After leaving school, Angela trained as a secretary before working as such, until she was able to make her living exclusively as a soprano singer. Many of her greatest triumphs took place at the Theatre Under the Stars, one of Vancouver’s most famous musical theatres, which officially opened on August the 6th 1940. At the TUTS, Miss Ann Watt as she became known played the lead in such classic operettas – which were the musical comedies of their day – as Oscar Straus’ “The Chocolate Soldier” (1908 ), based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Arms and the Man”, “Naughty Marietta” (1910) by Victor Herbert, with libretto by Rida Johnson Young, and “The Student Prince” (1924 ) by Sigmund Romberg, with libretto by Dorothy Donnelly.
For the CBC with full orchestra, she broadcast many popular classics. She sang Noel Coward’s “I’ll See You Again” from “Bittersweet” for a programme called “Music from the Pacific” to the accompaniment of Percy Harvey and the Golden Strings, as well as an exquisite medley of songs by Victor Herbert with Greg Miller, namely. On other occasions, she sang another lovely song by Herbert, “’Neath the Southern Moon” from “Naughty Marietta”, as well as “Strange Music” from “The Song of Norway” (1942), which had been adapted by Wright and Forrest from Grieg’s “Wedding in Troldhaugen”, and “Can’t Help Singing” by Kern and Yarburg from the 1944 movie of the same name. She also broadcast Classical songs such as “les Filles de Cadiz” by Delibes and “Depuis le Jour” by Edouard Charpentier, and German Liede to the piano accompaniement of Phyllis Dylworth, among these Schubert’s “To be Sung on the Water” (“Auf dem Wasser zu singen”) and Richard Strauss’s exquisite “Night” (“Die Nacht”).
After the war, she hoped to expand her career either in the US or the UK, but despite a successful audition for the San Franciso opera, she ultimately opted for England, once a ticket to sail had become available to her.
She set sail for Britain laden with letters of recommendation from her singing teacher Avis Phillips, as well as presumably press cuttings from her brilliant Canadian career. She'd been led to believe that once in London, she'd effectively take the singing world by storm, in Covent Garden, Drury Lane and elsewhere. Sadly though, soon after arriving, she failed an audition for the internationally famous Glyndebourne Opera House, home of the annual festival of the same name.
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