Comment: Diaires – the 18th century Twitter

The Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne
The Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne

I’m sometimes asked if I ‘tweet’, to which the reply has to be do I look as if I’m covered in feathers, with a pronounced beak.

And besides, since most of what I do in the working day isn’t of the slightest interest to me, I doubt if any ‘followers’ would find it so.

But in days gone by diaries were the means to convey one’s experiences and thoughts, and in our district among the most well known and fascinating are those of the Reverend Cole in the 18th century, Herbert Bennett during the Second World War, and ‘Betsey’ Wynne of Swanbourne.

She married a naval captain who had fought at Trafalgar and his younger son would also find naval renown, not least for having an Australian port named after him.

During his early career, while in the coastguard service, he was awarded the first gold medal to be issued by the Royal National Institute for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck (forerunner of the R.N.L.I.) for swimming out to a Swedish brig which got into difficulties off Christchurch.

Then, in later achievements he became Flag Officer in charge at Balaklava during the Crimea, but is best remembered for having Fremantle named after him, the principal city and port of Western Australia.

This lies at the mouth of the Swan River, and as a British naval officer Charles had taken possession of the area to prevent French or American intrusions.

He died at the age of 89, and lies buried at Swanbourne. Yet today there is another village resident who deserves universal credit, for our very own Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith , married into the same family.