Apr 16, 2015

Welsh Week: There's Welsh in the Heart of Liverpool by June Francis

Mary Rogers, June Francis's Welsh great grandmother


By June Francis
Our house was build by a Welshman of the not uncommon name of Jones. He was far from being the first Welsh builder to leave his mark on Liverpool. In Victorian times as the port prospered, the Welsh flooded into Liverpool to build homes for the increasing population and settled. Some streets bore names such as Rhiwlas, Kinmel as well as Madryn where Ringo Starr, Beetles drummer was born.
     When I traced my ancestry I found Ann Jones and Thomas Rogers who came from Denbighshire, he was no builder but became a carter working out of the Liverpool docks. My great-great grandmother, Eleanor Nicholson, was from Holyhead, Anglesey. She married a Lancastrian bricklayer and her mother was a Judith Owen, which sounds nicely Welsh, just like Jones.
         Wales has always had a welcome in the hillside for thousands of Liverpudlians. Although I was never evacuated to Wales during WW2, I know people who were and were willing to help me with research. Part of Liverpool Museum’s collection was hidden away in castles and country houses in Flint and Denbighshire. 
       I was eleven when I went on my first family camping holiday in Towyn, nr Rhyl, and discovered real fresh sea air and the beauty of the mountains. When I was much more older and had children of my own I climbed Snowdon and spent many a holiday in Anglesey as well as discovering the wonderful Pembrokeshire coast where my father did his army training during WW2.
     My husband has an 18th century farmer, Theophilus Eynon in his ancestry. Eynon was the name of a prince in medieval times and there is still a Port Eynon on the Gower peninsular. Whilst Theophilus gets a mention in the Bible. No doubt our one sung in the chapel choir. 
      So perhaps it’s not surprising that when I became a writer my first book to be published should be a medieval romance set in Wales and Cheshire called “The Bride Price”. When I began to write Liverpool family sagas there were characters with as much of a Welsh connection as there were Irish, Scottish, and English. In my latest reissue “A Mother’s Duty” there is a chapter set in Wales based on a true event told to me by my uncle who introduced my family to camping. In my novel “Lily’s War” Lily spends her honeymoon in Llandudno and in “Someone to Trust” one of my characters is Welsh and accompanies the silent movies on the piano. While in “A Place to Call Home” my young heroine, Greta, is evacuated to Llanberis during WW2 while the bombs fall on Liverpool.
     So many stories linking Wales to Liverpool, not unusual perhaps then that some of us occasionally think Liverpool should be a city in that fair land? 


Author information

I was brought up in Liverpool and still live on Merseyside. I started writing when I was forty and to date I have written thirty books. My sagas are mainly set in Liverpool but I have a series of five books that are linked to the historical city of Chester as well. My stories span the period between the Edwardian era to the rock’ n’ roll years. I also write historical novels for Harlequin Mills & Boon set in the turbulent times of the 15th and 16th centuries. I am amongst the top earners of PLR (Public Lending Rights) from the libraries and I am available for talks on writing & being a writer. My other interests include swimming, walking, old movies and my ancestry.  

Find out more about June Francis here.

1 comment:

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