Note: The following was originally published in a Christmas letter sent in 2015 - minor modifications have been made.
Some of our ancestors took part in great historic events that have been immortalized in art.
“The Spanish Armada Fleet is dispersed by Fireships in the Calais Roads" by Norman Wilkinson (our Captain William Prowse was in command of the fireships along with Captain Young).
“Hoisting the Signal" by Thomas Davidson, showing another Captain William Prowse (later Rear-Admiral)(1752-1826) on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, standing in the background behind Nelson and Capt. Blackwood, with his telescope to his eye watching for his frigate, HMS Sirius to come and fetch him prior to the battle.
Note: this work also known as 'Nelson's Last Signal'
“HMS Sirius. Captain Prowse engaging a French Squadron Off the Mouth of the Tiber. 17th April. 1806", by Thomas Whitcombe, in which Capt. Wm Prowse won the day at the odds of 9 (French ships) to 1 (his frigate, HMS Sirius!). He must have been either immensely brave or totally reckless! This incident obviously caught the public's imagination for it to be immortalized on canvas!
Note: William's name is incorrectly listed as 'Captain Rowse'.
"Drake Playing Bowls at Plymouth Hoe Before the Arrival of the Spanish Armada. Friday 29 July, 1588 ", by John Seymour Lucas. Drake is portrayed by Albert Samuel Whitchurch Prowse, 1856-1950, who later emigrated to Canada and started the British Columbia branch of the family. ABWP was the grandson of Dr. James Prowse and Mary Anne Philpott, my gt-gt-grandparents, and son of Albert Philpott Prowse and MaryAnn Whitchurch.
Note: This work also known as 'The Armada in Sight'
Have you read the medieval Dartmoor mysteries by Michael Jecks, that mentions all the places our medieval Devon ancestors lived in and even mentions the family by name in "The Mad Monk of Gidleigh"? That actually was my least favorite book in the series, which I love for their rich tapestry of life in those early times and rollicking good stories and only because the Prouz's are portrayed as less than honourable - even downright nasty - in that book!!! Shame!
Did you know that a Mr. Thomas Prowse, of Liverpool, England, was an Assistant Pantry Steward on the ill fated RMS Lusitania, and died in the infamous sinking of that ship on 7 May, 1915, along with 1,197 others?
Mr. James Bebbington Prowse was also a British Assistant Steward from the U.K. who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking of that ship on May 29, 1914.
According to Randy Prouse of Oregon, I am the 4th cousin 20 times removed from Piers Gaveston's wife, Margaret de Clare. This link comes through Agnes Bampfield's paternal line. Agnes married John Prous of Chagford c. 1400, and through her line, we can also be connected back to Eudo de Preaux (whose direct ancestry to the Prouz family that my grandfather, Arthur Bancks Prowse, favoured, can not be verified). Piers Gaveston, as you may remember, was an 'intimate' friend of King Edward II and came to a nasty end at the hands of the King's barons (the King himself came to grief at the hands of the Queen, who had had quite enough of his dubious close friendships). Gaveston was arrogant but relatively harmless but his successors, the Despensers, were not. I was intrigued to see the deep stone pit Edward was thrown into in 1327, and where he was brutally slain, at Berkeley Castle, when I celebrated my cousin, Miranda Causton's wedding there in 1998 — a much happier occasion!
A most interesting side story comes from another of my cousins, Anthony Barrington Prowse's wife, June Colville, who has a very distinguished family tree. Her grandfather's naval adventures include a mad dash across the African desert in the attempt to rescue General Gordon in Khartoum in 1884. Sadly, they arrived a day too late and Gordon had already been assassinated by the Mahdi's followers. General Gordon was always a huge hero of mine and when I went to Khartoum in 1967 while working for B.O.A.C., I immediately visited the house where he was killed to pay my respects and was immensely dismayed to discover that the premier belly-dancing nightclub in the city was now named after him - "General Gordon's". Our male B.O.A.C. aircrew members thought the belly dancers were terrific - they certainly were very buxom and more than vigorous, but I was in total shock at the disrespect shown to my hero!
I am always interested in hearing any and all family history stories that you have, as well as any updates or additions to our family story. Please keep in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org