Rechabite Letter – a protest

Recently, I posted a letter discovered in my mother’s mementos and written by Reverend William Bell to his offspring, in particular his daughter Isabelle Mallock. Isabelle’s husband, John Mallock, wrote to protest his father-in-law’s Rechabite letter on February 24th, 1842. The protest letter gives an interesting perspective on family dynamics.

To all to whom these presents shall come:

Whereas by a certain document purporting to have been written by the Reverend William Bell, Minister of the first Presbyterian Church at Perth, certain injunction and command are laid upon my family without my authority or permission, and which I believe to be contrary to all law human and Divine. And whereas the said document is not only insulting to me, as the head of my Household, but has for its tendency (?) the disturbance of the peace, happiness, and serenity which has hitherto reigned in my family.

Now Know All Men, by these presents, that I John Glass Mallock of the town of Perth, in the Bathurst District and Province of Canada, Esquire, feeling grateful to Divine Providence for the charge he has given me, and being aware of the great responsibility I am under for the faithful discharge of my duty as a husband and parent – Do hereby Protest against the said Document, and (believing that the curse causeless shall not come) against all the injunctions and commands therein expressed, so far as regards any, and all, of the members of my family, and their descendants.

And I do hereby deny the right of any individual interfering in the management of the temporal affairs of my family so long as it pleaseth the Giver of all good to retain me over them as their head and guide. And under great concern for the danger of those who thus trifle with the Peace, temporal and internal of others, do hereby warn all persons from taking such liberties in future.

Given under my hand at Perth aforesaid, this twenty fourth day of February, one thousand eight hundred and forty two years.

John G Mallock

It seems that John Mallock was very upset with his father-in-law.

Further to the question of who these people are, a cousin (probably 2nd or 3rd cousin by marriage) has put together a bit of a family tree, which I’ll share at some future date. It seems that William Bell is a great-great-great … not sure how many greats – grandfather on my mother’s side. Thank you, Muriel.

In addition, good friends did a little sleuthing and discovered the ‘condensed’ diaries of William Bell – the Reverend mentioned above – plus an entry for him in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Thank you, Patty and Art.

As a final note, I found a plaque dedicated to Reverend William Bell in Perth, Ontario. Note the words ‘uncompromising’, ‘intense’ and the phrase ‘fierce organizational doctrinal disputes’.

I’m feeling like Alice in Wonderland!


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website

The Rechabite Letter

While going through some of my mother’s mementos [she’s still alive, but we were clearing out a few boxes], I found a letter dated 18th February, 1842. It was addressed to Mrs. J. M. Mallock and delivered by hand.

Apparently, there is something called the Independent Order of Rechabites, founded in England in 1835 “as part of the wider temperance movement to promote total abstinence from alcoholic beverages.” Who knew?

The Rechabite Letter

It’s a fascinating letter and clearly one that created quite a fuss amongst the family, including letters sent back to the originator – one Reverend William Bell – protesting his ‘command’.

Here’s the text:

Know all men, by this declaration, that I Willian Bell, Minister of the first Presbyterian Church at Perth, in the Bathurst District of Upper Canada, perceiving the awful and ruinous consequences which follow the use of intoxicating drinks, to the bodies and the souls of mankind, have resolved never again to use any of them myself, as a common beverage, nor to offer them to others, and to enjoin the same thing upon all my children, and their descendants to the latest generation. I therefore, after a scripture example sanctioned by divine authority, do hereby command and enjoin you, my daughter, to follow this my example, and to obey this my command, and to enjoin the same upon your children, in order that they may be honest, industrious, and temperate; – that they may avoid temptation, and live in the fear of God; – that he may bless them in time, and take them to Heaven when they die.

And, in order that happiness, that great end I have here in view, may be the more effectually secured to my posterity, I hereby forbid them to make intermarriages, in all time coming, with any who refuse to join with them in following this my example.

Resolved this 5th day of February 1842, under much painful anxiety for the fate of those who refuse to follow my example and obey my command.

A copy of this to be sent to each of my surviving children, reminding them of the duty of honouring their father and their mother (for she also joins with me in this act) that their days may be long upon the land which the Lord their God giveth them. This duty, it has long been pressed upon my mind, I ought to discharge before I die, as a witness and a guard against the sin of intemperance, to you and to all others to who this shall come; and I now pray that God may bless it to all whose benefit it is intended. Let all remember that no drunkard shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

That you may be saved from all your enemies, and be made a monument of divine mercy, is the fervent prayer of your affectionate, but much afflicted father.

I’m not sure how the Mallocks are related to me, but I am certain that these people are relatives of some sort!


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website

Histories in the Making – with David Lawlor

historiesinthemakingWouldn’t you love to have a view of history personalized to your family? Well, listen up. Journalist, author and blogger David Lawlor talks about his new venture – bringing family history to life – and where the idea came from. Thanks for being here, David.

Histories in the Making – by David Lawlor

There are two routes I used to take to my office when I left the train station to go to work. They both passed a large 18th century building of Palladian, neoclassical design, which I used to admire as a child, long before I knew of its connection to my own family.

Now, as I pass it by, I study its pillars and façade for signs of bullet holes and shrapnel scars, and I imagine the men who died there.

I can almost hear the crack of gunfire, the screams of anger, pain, defiance, and the sight of red-gold flames flashing beneath billowing black-grey smoke.

My nostrils twitch at the imagined smell of cordite, and I wonder what my grandfather Michael’s role was when, aged just 20, he and scores of other IRA men in the Dublin Brigade attacked the Custom House in May 1921, on what would turn out to be the most disastrous raid in IRA history.

At lunchtime on May 25, small groups of IRA men had gathered in the area surrounding the Customs House – a symbol of British rule in Ireland. There were about 120 IRA men in total, many of them inexperienced fighters. Although that could not be said of my own grandfather Michael.

By that stage of the War of Independence he was something of a veteran, having joined up in 1919. Michael was a member of the Active Service Unit (ASU) of the Dublin Brigade.

That day, the ASU had been issued with revolvers (six rounds per man) and hand grenades. Their job was to position themselves beneath the Butt Bridge railway line, running beside the Customs House, and act as a protective force in the event of British troops arriving on the scene. The rest of the men were to enter the building and set it on fire using tins of petrol.

At one o’clock, the attack began. The first casualty was an elderly caretaker who was gunned down as he tried to telephone for help. IRA men herded civilians together and set about torching the rooms.

Auxiliaries and several hundred British troops soon arrived to surround the building, and a heavy firefight ensued. Michael’s unit managed to hold them off for about half an hour, but with just six bullets each against machine-guns, the result was inevitable.

The British forces suffered four wounded. Aside from the seven people killed, the greatest loss was in the capture of 80 volunteers at the scene. Michael was lucky to get out of there in one piece.

The same could not be said of the Customs House. It was gutted, with documents stretching back hundreds of years destroyed in the conflagration. In time, it was restored, and carries its scars to this day.

The attack was a stunt that the hard-pressed IRA, struggling in terms of manpower and resources, could ill afford. The operation was an unnecessary disaster – the truce would come less than two weeks later, bringing an official end to fighting.

Now, as I walk beneath Butt Bridge – the same bridge where grandad fought – the hairs on my arms and neck bristle. Where, precisely, had he stood?  Did he shoot anyone … injure anyone with a well-lobbed grenade?

I think of him … think of his youth and his bravery, and then wonder how I would have fared standing in his shoes.

The ghosts of that day still linger, their barely-heard echo masked amongst the sounds of rush-hour traffic and smothered by our own rush-hour lives. It was partly in answer to their ghostly echo that I decided to put together a small history of Michael’s involvement in Ireland’s War of Independence, using information from his army pension form and from the census, as well as ill-remembered family stories to paint a picture of his life in those turbulent times.

It is the way of most families, that there is one member who will gather together some of the ancestral history in the hope of passing it on to future generations. The problem with most of these documents is that they can be quite uninspiring. Usually only the person who has gone in search of them is actually interested in wading through their dense prose.

It was for this very reason that I decided to knit all the knowledge on my grandfather Michael together and to present it in more readable and accessible format for the rest of the family. The result was an illustrated 12-page brochure and digital file which put all of the information we had on Michael in its historical context, fleshed out and made more real and relevant for those reading it. Now we all have his story – or some of it at least – to read and pass on to our own children.

The call of the past is ever present – its scars waiting to be read on buildings like those shrapnel-scarred, bullet-pocked walls that I walked by every day.

I’ve given up the day job, because I want to tell more stories like that of my grandfather. That’s why I set up HistoriesInTheMaking. I want to put these scraps of information together for other families so that they, too, can have a readable, accessible record of their loved ones’ lives.

We should all seek out those clues to our ancestors before they are lost forever. Talk to elderly relatives, dig out those dusty documents, pick up the scattered pieces of information and then, maybe, give them to me and together let us create a present of the past for your family’s future generations.

Check out for more details or email

David is planning on providing this service for anyone around the world. The digital file ultimately sent out with a printed brochure is unique, secure and updatable. It can be read on mobile devices as well as laptops.

Many thanks, David. Wishing you great success in the new venture!