Greater Love…

…hath no man, that he give his name to a flatworm.

Arthurdendylus somehow made its way from New Zealand the UK, where it was first seen in Northern Ireland about sixty years ago. Harmless in Aotearoa, the creature has no natural enemies here.

The New Zealand flatworm is formidably hardy: it can reproduce without mating and live for a year or more without feeding. The problem, though, is its appetite for earthworms. It hunts them by gliding nightmarishly through their burrows. Lacking teeth or jaws, the flatworm slithers alongside its prey in a clammy embrace and pumps out a lethal, earthworm-dissolving enzyme. Once the earthworm’s innards have been sufficiently liquidised, the flatworm simply wallows in the worm soup and soaks it up through its skin. Under certain conditions, whole populations have been wiped out in this way. Then the knock-on effects begin. Without earthworms to turn over and aerate the soil, it becomes sour and ill-drained…A recent survey discovered that, while the flatworm was detected in only 4 percent of grass fields [in Ireland] in 1991, the proportion had risen to 70 per cent by the end of the decade. The loss of earthworms has meant a corresponding diminution in the numbers of wild birds and mammals, notably moles and hedgehogs.

Bugs Britannica, Peter Marren & Richard Mabey

More about the little monster here.

The eponymous zoologist can be found on the Shared Tree and there is a photographic portrait of the man on his Wikipedia page.

(Bugs Britannica is my breakfast reading now, and for the next couple of months probably.)

Bird 105 · Reed Bunting♂

Emberiza schoeniclus, Carr Naze

Sweet Baby Rounds Cape Horn

On 17 November 1867, ship’s surgeon Andrew ALEXANDER assisted in the birth of Maud Marian Grey, daughter of William Hales SWEET and Elizabeth née EVANS. All sources I have seen agree that Maud was born on Brunel’s “ship that changed the world”, SS Great Britain. Some say, though, that the vessel was passing the Cape of Good Hope at the time. One census enumerator writes “Good Hope” in his book but this is rubbed out and “Horn” substituted. Transcribers give Maud’s birthplace variously as Chile or South Africa.

SS Great Britain was on its 29th Voyage and after leaving Melbourne, where Maud was most likely conceived, the captain set an eastbound course.

Maud’s father was the son of John Hales SWEET and Mary Ann GOFF. After much searching over the last couple of days, I am still unable to explain John Hales’ second family. There seems to be little doubt that there was only one John Hales and two “wives” called Mary Ann but I have been unable to find a marriage record for his union with Mary Ann PULLAN, nor birth registrations for thei seven children. It is as if he had something to hide. Perhaps if he had been other than a man of the cloth…

Marriage in March 1840 to Miss Goff is clear enough and there are registrations or family notices in newspapers for their four children. The last of these, Charles Henry, was born in Hunslet, Leeds, on 3 September 1845. Mary Ann Pullan’s first child with John, Amy Adela Selina, was born later that year, on 7 December. Miss Pullan was a Leeds girl, about eight years younger than Mary Ann the First.

The former Miss GOFF didn’t die until 1882. If John didn’t divorce her, might the Church have “turned a blind eye” to his second family? The first Mary Ann considered herself still married to John. In 1871 she was living with William, Elizabeth and grandchildren “Cape Horn” Maud and Charles Iberson. She told the enumerator she was married and living on “income derived from funds”. Ten years later she declared sherself a “clergyman’s widow”. There is a sad reference to Maud’s father on this census page – William Hales SWEET “rambles very much at times”. He would die in a lunatic asylum in 1883. His mother had breathed her last the year before in a different asylum.

Our sea-born child married in 1890 and had several children with Frederick William CRISP. She died in 1945 in Hastings, aged 78. Find her on the FamilySearch Tree, born in the wrong part of the world, still single and with a dubious bunch of great aunts and great uncles.

Found Object 37 · Princess

On the bench that encircles Charles Laughton’s sycamore.