Sunday, 12 February 2017

Richard Whately on genealogical folly, John Hurt and Kevin Whately

An instance has been known of persons, who were the descendants of a celebrated and prominent character in the Civil War, and who was one of the Regicides, being themselves zealous royalists, and professing to be ashamed of their ancestor. And it is likely that if he were now living, they would renounce all intercourse with him. Yet it may be doubted whether they would not feel mortified if any one should prove to them that they had been under a mistake, and that they were in reality descended from another person, a respectable but obscure individual, not at all akin to the celebrated regicide.
(from Richard Whately's annotations to Bacon's Essay On Nobility)

I was reminded of the actor John Hurt, recently deceased, who was on the genealogy programme Who do you think you are and who hoped to discover that he was a descendent on the sinister side of Lord Altamount the Marquess of Sligo whose residence is at Westport. The present incumbent is reduced to the status of the purveyor of heritage. 'Boating on the lake, m'Lud', Chinese pigs and a saunter round the house by the peasantry. What John Hurt discovered was wholly other.

After this discovery that he was not in fact Irish though he felt himself so to be John went off to England. Whether it was the locals 'takin' the Arfur Bliss' or humming the tune from HMS Pinafore, 'and its greatly to his credit', we shall never know. Fair play to him, he was a great actor. Will you ever forget the surprise on his face when the Bitch jumped out of his chest in Alien?

Another actor Kevin Whately on the same genealogy program. discovered that Richard Whately was his great-great- grandfather. Looking at images of the two men a resemblance can be discerned. But there I am, projecting again.

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