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

Somewhere in Africa – 30th October 1917

Bully beef WWI

Henry is still on the move, his brigade heading south to keep on the tail of von Lettow.

I have just received a batch of your letters up to 19th July and this is a line to acknowledge same and report all well. We have been making good progress with the campaign but at the moment we are held up for lack of transport. We are hoping to give the Hun the knock-out any day now, but if we don’t it will have to be after the rains – six months hence at least – so here’s hoping.

Bully beef WWIThe country has improved a bit as we trek south but it is not much for all that, especially as the enemy has stripped it bare in his retreat and we have a hungry population on our hands, amongst our other troubles. Patrolling and traversing the country generally for our maps keeps us busy. [I wonder what he means here.] We shall resume our march when we have accumulated some food. We are subsisting on bully beef [see photo] and green bananas, which when boiled or fried make an excellent substitute for potatoes and occasionally we come on some small tomatoes to vary the menu. Game is conspicuous by its absence which is a pity, as it is always a welcome addition to the larder. It is possible to get a guinea fowl now and again, even with a rifle, as he is pretty slow in the take off, and he makes a fine meal.

We have had some pretty stiff marching and counter-marching lately. One evening we had just reached our camping place with that feeling of relief and anticipation, which we always associate with the evening halt, when we got orders to “carry on” and establish contact with the Gold Coast regiment, who were half a day’s march ahead. After a hasty uncooked meal we trailed off again into the blue. It was my turn for advance guard and I had to pick up a field telephone wire which had been laid through the bush and was my only guide. It has its comical side, which of course we only appreciated later.

Our C.O. (an acquisition from South Africa) is a worthy but fussy sort of man and certainly errs on the side of discretion. I was able to pick up the trail all right but the difficulty was for the rest of the battalion to keep in touch, while our baggage train, consisting for the most part of donkeys, was miles behind and was giving our transport officer something to think about. You can imagine the confusion of a night march in the bush; it can be bad enough in the daytime.

The C.O. has a whistle on which he signals all his commands. At one of the many halts while he was trying to close up the ever increasing gaps I had gone back to see what was doing. I met the adjutant and another captain and we were discussing the general hash we were making of things. The adjutant made a reference, more forcible than polite, to the Colonel, when out of the darkness the latter’s voice was heard. “Capt. —, you will rejoin your company and report to me in the morning. Another South African has got the vacant post.

The South Africans have a big pull in this show, for political reasons, and all promotions and decorations go their way. I have twice been recommended for the M.C. [I think this means Military Cross – a significant decoration] but that is as far as it has got. We got through the night somehow but as for making contact with the Gold Coast, we might as well have stayed in camp.

On another occasion when I was advance guard in a night march, this time to the whole column, or brigade, I came most unexpectedly on the tail of von Lettow’s main body. It was a stroke of luck and I got most urgent orders from the General to maintain contact until morning. This I did with the loss of six men. The telephone was run out to me and I had to report hourly to his nibs. Next day we forced him to a rearguard action, but it was only to cover his retreat. During the action I heard the German buglers sounding the “retreat” which I had never heard before in the war.

There are strong rumours that an air-ship has left Germany for these regions to pick up von Lettow and I am sure it is the best thing that could happen, as he will never surrender, and he will keep us chasing him all over Africa.

According to, “Colonel Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck (1870-1964) was remarkable among military commanders of the First World War in that he served for the entire period without ever having suffered defeat.”


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 Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website

Outlaw King – and a crazy connection

We were at TIFF last week – Toronto International Film Festival – which is always a fantastic event. We choose a range of films from various countries and genres with the added bonus of hearing from directors, actors and producers after the films screened.

One of this year’s films was Outlaw King – directed by David Mackenzie of Hell or High Water fame and with Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s king during the early 14th century. It will come as no surprise to you that I love films with historical settings and this was no exception. The battle scenes and Scottish countryside alone were worth it!

So what’s the crazy connection?

Well, it turns out that I’m descended from Robert the Bruce (aka Robert I). I knew my grandmother on my father’s side always claimed that we were descendants, but I have to admit I always assumed it was one of the family myths that have little to do with reality.

I have a folder containing some family genealogy research my father did a long time ago (he died in 1981, well before!), so after seeing the film, I decided to examine it more closely. The challenge was to figure out how all the different family trees he had in the folder were connected. One tree begins in 1806 with the 5th Duke of Buccleuch, another shows the Stewart tree beginning with Robert the Bruce (sometimes spelled Bruys). Then there are trees for the Douglas clan, the earlier Buccleuch clan, and another for the Dukes of Queensberry.

Tracing the peerage of Scotland is a difficult task. Dad did it well, but he left no roadmap for those of us who might wish to understand the labyrinthine connections.

Now that I’ve scrutinized the details and checked various Internet sites for clarification, I think I’ve figured it out.

  • a grandson of Robert the Bruce (Robert I) through his daughter Marjory was Robert II
  • Robert II has many children including Isabel (also found spelled as Isabelle)
  • Isabel married James, 2nd Earl of Douglas
  • following the Douglas line down through the centuries, we find Jane, daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Queensberry and 1st Duke of Queensberry (now isn’t that confusing)
  • Jane marries Francis, 2nd Duke of Buccleuch
  • following the Buccleuch line we come to Walter Francis, 5th Duke of Buccleuch and 7th Duke of Queensberry and Walter’s son Lord Francis Scott
  • Lord Francis Scott has a daughter Hester Anna Scott
  • Hester marries George W Shields of Ireland; they have a daughter also Hester Anna, who marries Herbert Francis Thomas my great-grandfather

So there you have it … I’m connected to Scottish royalty!

By the way, I highly recommend Outlaw King.


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 Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website