Archive for August, 2022

Marshfield in my Stories

Friday, August 19th, 2022

Recently, I have been discussing various medieval locations found in specific books in my West Country Medieval Mystery Series featuring my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.  This month, I want to describe my selection of Marshfield as the birthplace of the Lady.

Marshfield is a village located so near the southern border of Gloucestershire that it is within walking distance of Colerne, Wiltshire, the village that we discussed in last month’s posting.  I feel a close attachment to Marshfield because my paternal grandmother, whose family name was Isaac, emigrated from Marshfield to Ohio in the 19th century.  She lived in my hometown of Sandusky, Ohio, so that I was able to know her when I was a child.  The picture above is of a plaque concerning one of my grandmother Isaac’s ancestors, Elias Isaac, Esq.  It is prominently displayed on the wall of the medieval parish church in Marshfield, as shown in the picture on the right.

On my first visit to Marshfield in 1986, I was especially interested in my roots in the West Country of England.  Traveling then with my husband, Lou, my brother, Jim Aust, and his wife, we found the parish church to be the best surviving building from the medieval period in all of Marshfield.  The picture on the left shows us in the church on that visit being led by an English friend who was helping us find our roots.

I felt I couldn’t see enough of Marshfield.  The picture below shows a local Marshfield man with me and my husband as we are about to climb the church tower to get an overall view of the village and the surrounding countryside.  The local man had come to the church in the late afternoon to wind the clock high in the tower, but he kindly allowed me to do the honors that day as shown in the picture at the end of this posting.

In my stories, the father of Lady Apollonia was a nobleman, the Earl of Marshfield, a fictional title I also created.  Apollonia had an elder brother, Ferdinand, who inherited the title, Earl of Marshfield, upon the death of her father.  In my stories, Ferdinand had no children; therefore Lady Apollonia’s eldest son, Hugh, became the Earl of Marshfield upon Ferdinand’s death in 1506.  The role of the Earl of Marshfield was important in several of my stories, either because of his participation in the royal court or his help in law enforcement locally in Gloucestershire.

I named Lady Apollonia’s brother using the oldest first name in my Aust family tree: Ferdinando Aust.  Ferdinando seems an unusual English name, but there it is, 13 generations ago in my English family tree, appearing in a couple of later generations along with more common names such as Richard.  My brother, Jim, no history buff, suggested that the first Ferdinando may have washed ashore at the time of the Spanish Armada in 1588, perhaps entering England from Wales using the ferry at the village of Aust.  It is a romantic notion but doesn’t fit the dates.  The first Ferdinando arrived about a century earlier.  Perhaps he emigrated from Spain in 1492 or came from the Spanish Netherlands via the wool business?  We can only speculate, but I hope you see why I wanted to use Marshfield in my stories with Ferdinand as the Earl of Marshfield.

See you again next time.