A Convict in my past…
This year I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to include pieces in two historical anthologies. One fiction, one very factual. In two of the three pieces for the editions, my forbear, William Owen Millington was the subject and the inspiration.
In Castles, Customs and Kings a wonderful compendium of historical essays, I wrote about what I had learned from my cousin Peter’s research on our convict ancestor. I hoped to give readers a basic understanding of what precipitated a convict’s life and how the punishment was served.
In Historical Tales, a power-packed anthology of short stories released to raise money for cancer research, I took William’s story and wrote a fictionalised account of the man and his servitude, leading to the marriage to his second wife as a free man.
Whilst writing the story I visited Bothwell, the small town to which William, a carpenter, was sent to serve his time and I confess I looked at the town with new eyes.
Did William build that doorway?
Perhaps he built that fanlight.
I know he was assigned to the vicar of the Anglican Church so perhaps he built much of the woodwork inside the church.
When he was held prior to his lashing, was it at this barracks?
Did he grow to love Bothwell?
I suppose we will never know but it’s rather wonderful to look at all those colonial buildings and ‘assume’ he had a hand in their creation. I did my best to give his story wings in the fictionalised account and looking at a door, window or pew that might have been touched by my great great grandfather’s hands was an enormous inspiration.
(I would like to say that without all the research given to me by Peter Fuglsang, my cousin, I would never have known I had a convict forbear let alone just what William was and what he did. I can’t begin to thank Peter enough and sadly he will never see what I wrote as he died on 26th December, 2012.)