Saturday, 29 November 2014

A conversation with Mr Paterson

"Son", said Mr Paterson, "if you are going out West, never pass a waterhole without having a clean-up, and if you want to make a success of it, when you meet people, listen to what they have to say and take note of it for future reference. If you do that, you will have a healthy life, learn to appreciate water and you will learn a darned more about the world than you do today. What is more you will meet real men and women. Men and women who are the backbone of this country."

There was no one more qualified to give this advice to a 17 year-old brash youngster who was about to go bush for the first time to make a living and worried like hell as to whether he had made the right decision or not. The place where this sound advice was handed down was the Marble Bar of Adams Hotel in Sydney in 1935.

Mr Paterson was known to his colleagues and Australians in general as Banjo Paterson, the bush ballad king, novelist, journalist, war correspondent, and an Australian living legend. He was in his early 70s and looked a young 60. He looked a tough weather beaten bushman who somehow seemed uncomfortable and out-of-place in a crowded city bar, although it was a countryman's bar, surrounded by oil paintings, but as Mr Paterson pointed out liberally sprinkled with con-men and phonies. His face had that permanent tan I was to get to know in the years to come. A tan only obtained from years out of doors exposed to all the tantrums of nature from the fierce unrelenting sun in a cloudless sky, blinding biting dust storms and occasional pelting stinging rain.

He had that wizened squinting look of the stockman and the way he sucked at his short stemmed beloved pipe under his grey bushy moustache, it was easy to picture him sitting on the stockyard rails or hunched alert in the saddle tailing a mob of cattle along an unfriendly stock route. The instant you met him, you immediately realised the man who had written The man from Snowy River, Mulga Bill, Clancy of the Overflow, the words of Waltzing Matilda and other bush classics, had really lived the life he wrote about. He was most sincere and spoke in a slow deliberate manner. Every word he uttered made sense. He told me that I was doing exactly what he had done more than 50 years before. He had been born in the country near Orange and had been brought up early on his father's properties around Yass, had been educated at Sydney Grammar, been articled in a law firm, rebelled against city life and made for the back of Queensland at my age.

That gave me a great deal of confidence as he looked a pretty healthy specimen puffing away at his pipe, which was failing to respond to the puffing.

My father had arranged this meeting with "the living legend of the outback". They were literary acquaintances. Dad was editor of Smith's Weekly and Mr Paterson was a Bulletin man. When I had broken the news to Dad that the city life was not for me and I wanted to go bush he immediately arranged for the meeting. If he had thought that a few home truths about the back country was going to make me have second thoughts his tactic backfired. After our lengthy yarn that day nothing would have stopped me, even if I had had to carry a swag.

Banjo Paterson spoke as he wrote, real down to earth common sense and the advice he gave me was invaluable. I followed it with the best of my ability and was never able to prove him wrong. He told me simple things in that bar at Adams, but things I was never to forget and to thank him for. Things like if I wanted a cool drink, to ride my horse as far as I could into the middle of a dam or creek and fill my quart pot as far below the surface as I could. He told me, if possible, not to drink water before lunch camp. "Once you start, son, you can't stop, you get thirstier and thirstier and end up with water poisoning. Also you watch out for greenhead ants, son," he added. He would not elaborate on the last piece of advice but said I would know all about them if I was going into the mulga country.
I felt the effects of a greenhead my second day in the south-west of Queensland and from then on every greenhead that nipped me was Mr Paterson's passport to authenticity. He had definitely been there before me. He told me of the type of people I would meet. There was a Mulga Bill on every property, a Clancy in every outback town and a Saltbush Bill with every droving outfit that passed down the stock route.

The above conversation with Banjo Paterson is from a collection of stories written by Ken Moses about his experiences in outback Queensland before the Second World War. The account is part of a chapter entitled, Banjo Paterson and the Greenheads.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Bourke Wool Scour


Advertisement in Western Herald 14 July 1939
Some time, possibly in 1939, Ken Moses left Durella near Morven in south west Queensland to work as a wool scourer in Bourke, New South Wales. From an article in the Western Herald we know he was definitely in the town in March of that year, participating in swimming carnivals.

The following articles sourced via Trove provide a description of the Bourke Wool Scour and the experience of the manager of the facility.

Bourke Wool Scour.
UP TO DATE PLANT.
A visit to the Bourke Wool Scour by a representative of this paper was made a short time ago, when the plant was seen in full working order.
 The newly erected large building which houses the machinery is a very substantial one and all the works are under the one roof, which is a decided advantage for the organisation of the industry.
 On the southern end the wool to be scoured enters the building, where it is taken from the bales and automatically fed into the first tank or tub, where huge rakes take it gradually along to the end and it is transferred to the second tub. Here similar process ensues and it empties into the third tub. The fourth tub contains a hot water solution from whence it passes through a large mangle arrangement and is thence taken to the drier.
This drier is a Dyson-Hall machine, which is heated by hot air and the wool being fed on a flat bed moves in a circular direction and comes out perfectly dry.
Thence it is baled, branded and weighed, and ready for dispatch to the railway for transfer to the Sydney market.
The whole of the machinery has been completely overhauled and is stated to be equal to any scour in the State.
Country residents are invited to visit the Scour and see the competent work that is carried out. The advantage to country wool growers in having their wool scoured locally and thereby saving the railway freight is one that should receive earnest consideration. More especially does this apply to low grade or inferior wool, and a trial with this class of wool at the local scour will fully repay clients and we feel sure be the means of them giving a local concern their best co-operation and support.
Mr. M. E. Wring, who is the lessee, very kindly and courteously showed us over the entire plant and fully explained the workings to us. He is a man of experience in this line, having had many years training in leading Botany scours and well able to give the advantages of his knowledge in managing the local works. Undoubtedly the scour is an acquisition to the district and one that the graziers should avail themselves of the advantages of.
 
Western Herald 9 July 1937

BOURKE WOOL SCOUR.
By advertisement in this issue, Mr. H. G. Morgan notifies that he has taken over the Bourke Wool Scour, and that wool will receive personal attention, and be scoured on commission basis only. Mr. Morgan for some six years worked for Hayes Bros, and was for a time manager of their Walgett and Goodoega scours. For the past 10 years he has classed the Elsinora clip and has managed the Thurloo Downs scour. It will therefore be seen that Mr. Morgan has had up wards of 39 years experience in wool scouring works and amongst wool, and is therefore competent to give good service to the pastoralists in this district.
Western Herald 13 January 1939

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Olympic Games Melbourne 1956

Thursday 22 November 1956 saw the opening of the Olympic Games in Melbourne. The games continued until 8 December. As a child sitting in one of the stands of the MCG watching the athletes from 67 countries march into the arena was a wonderful, colourful experience.
The Argus Friday 23 Nov 1956
Digitised copies of The Argus are now available on Trove so it is possible not only to read about the Olympic Games in Melbourne but also events leading up to the running of the games. 
The women in the Australian Team marching into the MCG


The men in the Australian Team marching into the MCG
 The organisation of a successful Olympic Games is a mammoth task and it took four years to organise the Melbourne Games. The Official Report of the Organising Committee for the Games of the XVI Olympiad Melbourne 1956 can now be viewed online. The report consists of more than 700 pages and includes reports of all the sub-committees as well as the main committee including the report of the Press and Publicity Sub-Committee pp138-160. This sub-committee was established in January 1954 and monthly meetings were held.

One of the members of the Press and Publicity Sub-Committee was Ken Moses, a sports journalist for The Argus newspaper, who had attended the London Olympic Games in 1948.
The main role of the committee was to ensure that suitable arrangements were in place for members of the international press who would be in Melbourne to report on the Games and also to ensure that they had information about what to expect when they were in Melbourne. The press attending the Melbourne Games would not only be from print organisations but also radio and the new communications media - television.
Ken Moses is seated in the front on the left side of the table
Articles were circulated to the overseas press, particularly in the United States, such as this article entitled Are you going to the Melbourne Games? A group of journalists travelled overseas in the year before the Olympic Games to publicise the Games and Melbourne. On 10 June Ken Moses, with Harry Gordon from the Sun News Pictorial,  left for California for five weeks to promote the Games and to also report to readers on the selection of American athletes who would be coming to Australia. Ken sent regular reports back to The Argus.

The day after the Opening Ceremony the following article - 'You - the man in the street - made it tick' - appeared in The Argus congratulating the people of Melbourne for their contribution to make this sporting event occur in their city.
In the run-up to the staging of the Olympic Games in Melbourne there were many challenges to overcome, however the Games themselves generally ran smoothly and by the end of the competition they were known as the friendly games.

Melbourne Olympics - State Library of Victoria

Melbourne Olympics Committee - Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Olympic Games - Australian Olympic Committee

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Test Cricketer in the family

Henry Moses (normally known as Harry) was born on 13 February 1858 in Windsor, New South Wales. He was the eldest son of Henry Moses (1832-1926) and Anne Primrose (1833-1923). Both of Harry's grandfathers (William Roberts and Uriah Moses) had been convicts as was one of his grandmothers (Kezia Brown). Two of his great grandparents had also been convicts (Charles Daley and Susannah Alderson). However by the time Harry was born this part of his family history would not have been referred to and may not have been passed down to that generation, even though many of his peer group born in Windsor would have had a similar background.

Harry's father, Henry, was a successful businessman and a politician. He was the director of a number of companies and owned several large properties. Henry was a founder of the Hawkesbury Race Club and the family maintained their interests in racing, including the breeding of racehorses. He was also interested in cricket and no doubt encouraged his son, Harry, in his cricket career.
Australian Town and Country Journal 4 Feb 1888
Harry played cricket for the colony of New South Wales and was captain in the 1889-90 season and again in the 1893-94 season. The following report about Harry was published in the Australian Cricket Album in 1898. The complete album can be viewed online.
Henry Moses, who was born on February 13, 1858, is one of the finest batsmen New South Wales, or for that matter, Australia has had. He played practically no cricket as a lad, but when he did take up the game, quickly came into prominence, and for many years was the most reliable batsman in his colony. In the seasons of 1886-87 and 1887-88 he made many remarkable scores, notably 297 not out in the latter season against Victoria, which is next to W. L. Murdoch's 321, the highest score of an Australian in a first-class match. Moses, though repeatedly asked, was never, owing to the claims of business, able to join an Australian Eleven to tour England, but he distinguished himself in Test Matches in Australia. He was a left-handed batsman with a wonderfully sound defence, and his strokes, particularly one to the leg, were executed with remarkable precision and safety. He was a very popular player.
Harry made his test debut for Australia on 28 January 1887. He played six test matches. A summary of his test career. Exploring Trove provides a number of reports of cricket matches in which Harry played.

When my son visited the Bradman Museum some years ago he found the fob watch presented to Harry Moses on display.
Harry was later involved in cricket administration in New South Wales. He was appointed a member of the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust in 1907 and he was chairman from 1928 until his death in 1938.

Harry continued to play cricket socially for many years but also played lawn bowls in New South Wales teams. In 1905 he played in a bowls competition in Adelaide where one of his team mates was Alfred Percy Lord.

Two of Harry's brothers, Bill and Fred, bred racehorses incuding Poitrel, winner of the 1920 Melbourne Cup.

Harry Moses died in Sydney on 7 December 1938. He was 80.

Harry Moses was a first cousin of my grandfather.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Battle of Bannockburn

At Edinburgh Castle statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace are set into the wall on either side of the entrance.
Robert the Bruce
 Recently SBS showed the History Channel production - Battle of the Kings: Bannockburn- about the battle between the armies of Robert the Bruce and King Edward II near Stirling Castle in Scotland in June 1314.

Robert the Bruce was born in Turnberry Castle, on the coast of south west Scotland, on 11 July 1274. His father was Robert de Brus (1243-1304) who was the 6th Lord of Annandale while his mother was Marjorie (1246-1292), the Countess of Carrick. Robert the Bruce was born in a time of political unrest in Scotland. Not only were there disputes as to who should lead the country there was constant unrest as the Scots attempted to gain independence from England. The following notes provide a short summary of some of the events leading to the Battle of Bannockburn.

When King Alexander II died in March 1286 six Guardians were appointed to govern Scotland. On 20 September 1286 a group of noblemen, including members of the Bruce family, met at Turnberry Castle asserting their claim to the Scottish throne. This group became known as the Turnberry Band. The following years were years of uncertainty as Scotland had a succession of leaders. In November 1292 John Balliol was crowned King rather than Robert the Bruce's grandfather who had also laid claim to the throne. King John paid homage to Edward I of England who controlled much of the political activity in Scotland. In March 1296 Edward I and his army invaded Scotland and in April 1296 the Scots were defeated at the Battle of Dunbar. King John abdicated a few months later in July and in September Edward I installed John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, to govern Scotland.

A number of uprisings led by William Wallace, Andrew Murray and Robert the Bruce occurred in parts of Scotland against the English in 1297. Wallace was appointed Guardian in February 1298. However in July 1298 Edward I returned with his army and defeated the Scots at the Battle of Falkirk.

In September 1298 William Wallace resigned the Guardianship and Robert the Bruce and John (Red) Comyn became joint Guardians. Robert the Bruce and John Comyn were related. John Comyn was a nephew of John Balliol. John Balliol's mother (Margaret) was the sister of Robert the Bruce's great mother (Isobel). Bishop Lamberton was made the third Guardian in August 1299. In November 1299 the Scots reclaimed Stirling Castle from the British.

In May 1300 Robert the Bruce resigned from the position of Guardian. In February 1302 he submitted to Edward I and married Elizabeth de Burgh. They were to have four children - Matilda, Margaret, John and David (who became David II of Scotland). Previously Robert had married Isabella of Mar (1277-1296) and they had one daughter, Marjorie, (1296-1316). Marjorie's son became Robert II of Scotland in 1371.

In 1304 John Comyn submitted to Edward I and later a secret band was made between Robert the Bruce and Bishop Lamberton. Stirling Castle once again fell to the British. In February 1305 Edward I ordered a new constitution for the Scots. In April the father of Robert the Bruce died. In August William Wallace was captured by British soldiers near Glasgow and was executed in London.

1306 proved to be an eventful year for Robert the Bruce. On 10 February he arranged to meet John Comyn at Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries. Swords were left outside the church when the two men entered. No-one is sure what actually happened except that John Comyn died from knife wounds. Numerous theories and stories have been written about the event. Robert the Bruce left the church and, realising that he would be excommunicated by the Pope for his actions, he immediately made his claim for the throne and was crowned by Isobel of Buchan at Scone on 26 March. Later in the year the Scots were defeated at a number of battles but Robert escaped first to Dunavert and then to Rathlin. However his brother, Nigel, was captured and executed while Robert's wife and his daughter, Marjorie, were captured and imprisoned in England along with some of his other supporters.

In February 1307 the King returned to Turnberry Castle and during the next few years he and his supporters staged a number of small battles, gradually recapturing most of the castles occupied by the British. In August 1310 King Edward II of England (his father died in July 1307) invaded part of Scotland. The following year Robert retaliated by moving his forces into northern England. By 1313 King Robert has control of most of the castles in Scotland except for Stirling Castle. His brother, Edward, was sent to lay siege to the castle and, in June 1313, made a settlement with the governor of the castle that if the English did not come to the aid of the castle within the next twelve months the castle would be handed over to the Scots.

This set the scene for the Battle of Bannockburn that took place near the Stirling Castle in June 1314 when Edward II and his extensive army and cavalry arrived to relieve the castle. Robert's successful battles prior to the Battle of Bannockburn had been small swift battles usually taking the occupants of the castles by surprise. This encounter was to be a fully fledged battle with the Scottish troops being outnumbered by the English soldiers. Many of Robert's soldiers had little or no military experience. The English soldiers however had spent many weeks walking through England to reach the battle site and they were tired when they arrived. The English camped in the open while the Scots remained in the forest until the battle. The Scots had also laid trenches and spikes in parts of the open ground to impede the advances of the English cavalry. The Scottish soldiers were also divided into groups and armed with long spears to form a wall of spears (a schilitron) against the cavalry.

The battle took place on 23 and 24 June. The main battle was on 24 June but there was a smaller battle the previous day when a group of Englishmen attacked a party of Scots and one of the Englishmen, Sir Henry de Bohun, unsuccessfully attempted to to kill Robert. Much to the surprise of the English, the Scots defeated the larger English army and forced them to retreat back to England.

Although the Scots had won this battle, battles against the English continued for many years and it was not until 1328 that King Edward II fully conceded that Robert was King of Scotland with the signing of the Treaty of Edinburgh. The Pope had recognised Robert as King of Scotland in 1324.

Robert the Bruce died on 7 June 1329.

Robert the Bruce was my great (x 21) grandfather.
Edward II was also my great (x 21) grandfather.

Some references:
Turnberry Castle - Undiscovered Scotland 

Bruce kills Comyn  Scotland's history

SCOTS - was it murder? John Comyn of Badenoch
 
Robert the Bruce Trust

Battle of Bannockburn  - BBC Scotland's history

Battle of Bannockburn - what was it all about? - BBC News - Scotland

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Henry Moses MLC

News in Brief
A recent return of the large areas held by private owners in N.S.W., shows that the Hon Henry Moses, M.L.C. has 41,649 acres of leasehold land in his possession.
Windsor and Richmond Gazette Saturday 20 February 1892 p3

AUSTRALIAN GASLIGHT COMPANY.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING.
NOTICE is hereby given that the Annual General MEETING of this Company will be held at the Company's Office, Kent-street, Sydney, on MONDAY, 25th July instant, at a quarter past 2 o'clock in the afternoon, to receive the Report of the Directors for the past half-year, to elect Directors, to appoint Auditors, and to transact suoh other business as may be brought forward in conformity with rule.
Candidates for the Directions are to give not less than seven days notice in writing to the Secretary.
The retiring Directors, viz , Goorge Judah Cohen, Peter Reid, William Barnard Walford, Samuel Dickinson, John Rae, Hon Jas Norton, William Cornelius Goddard, Charles Henry Myles, Joseph Henry Storey, Hon. Henry Moses, William Munnings Montagu Arnold, and James Scroggie, Esqs., have given the requisite notice that they are Candi- detes for re-election, for which they are eligible under the Act.
By order of the Board
W. JOHNSTON,
Secretary. Company's Office,
Sydney. 4th July,1892
Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday 13 July 1892 page 2

The " Daily Telegraph" London correspondent :.-" Among the recent arrivals in London is Mr. Henry Moses, M.L.C. (once M.P. for the Hawkesbury, and brother to Mr. W. Moses, of Windsor), who came as far as Perim by the China, and thence journeyed to Brindisi in the Carthage and spent an enjoyable week or two on the Continent before crossing the Channel. Mr. Moses, I understand, intends to remain in the old country till the fall of the year."
Windsor and Richnond Gazette Saturday 18 June 1898 page 3

Our Sydney correspondent reports that Mrs. Annie Moses, the wife of Mr. H. Moses, M.L.C., of Macleay-street. Potts Point, who died on January 15, left an estate valued for probate purposes at £71, 472. The bulk of the estate was left for the benefit of the testator's sons, Messrs. William Moses, Herbert Charles Moses, and Frank Sydney Moses.
The Advertiser (Adelaide) Saturday 7 April 1923 page 15

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Family connections with the Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is known as "the race that stops the nation". Currently held on the first Tuesday in November, the Melbourne Cup (first run in 1861) was initially run on a Thursday but in 1875 it was changed to a Tuesday (except for 1942, 1943 and 1945 when it was run on a Saturday). Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday for those living in Melbourne but throughout Australia most people stop what they are doing at 3.00pm to watch or listen to the race. The horses in this handicap race run 32,000 metres and come from many countries. The Melbourne Cup has always been a popular racing event with huge crowds attending the event.
In 1920 the Melbourne Cup was won by Poitrel, a horse owned and bred by William Moses (1861-1926) and his brother, Frederick Albert Moses (1863-1942). Trove contains many articles about the racing career of Poitrel, particularly about the lead up to and the running of the Melbourne Cup race. Some of the articles have been transcribed elsewhere in this blog - (Melbourne Cup 1920 and Poitrel wins the Melbourne Cup)

William (Bill) and Frederick (Fred) Moses were sons of Henry Moses (1832-1926). Henry Moses was a son of Uriah Moses (1780-1847) who came to Australia as a convict in 1800. Henry was a successful businessman, landowner and a New South Wales parliamentarian. William and Frederick were both owners of properties in New South Wales. They also bred racehorses, the most successful being Poitrel. An interview with the owners after the 1920 race revealed that the horse had been offered for sale at the Yearling Sales but the reserve price of £300 was not met so the brothers decided to keep the horse themselves. In hindsight this would appear to have been a wise decision. As well as winning the Melbourne Cup Poitrel was second in the Sydney Cup and won the AJC Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Racerate.com provides a record of Poitrel's racing career. Poitrel retired from racing in March 1921 and was sent to the Arrowfield Stud, owned by the Moses brothers, in the Hunter Valley. Arrowfield Stud is now part of the Coolmore Stud. Poitrel died in 1932.

Racing and Sports carries an article about connections of the Moses family with horseracing.

Obituary William Moses - Obituaries Australia

William and Frederick Moses were first cousins of my grandfather.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Magna Carta

Magna Carta - British Library
The travel section of The Age newspaper this morning (1 November 2014) contained an article about the British Library which holds two copies of the Magna Carta signed by King John in June 1215. Exhibitions and events are currently being planned to celebrate the eight hundred years since the signing of the original document.
King John
John of Angvin (King John) was born on 24 December 1167 and died 18 October 1216. John was the youngest child of Henry II and Eleanor d'Aquitaine. Articles written about the family of Henry and Eleanor suggest that the family, in today's parlance, was a good example of a dysfunctional family. There were constant family disputes as to who owned land in parts of France and in England and Henry had his wife imprisoned for a number of years. At one stage the brothers joined forces to rebel against their father (1173-1174).
Statue of Richard I - Palace of Westminster
In 1189 Henry II died and John's brother, Richard, became King of England. Shortly after becoming king, Richard set off with King Phillip of France on a journey to the Holy Land as part of the Third Crusade. Initially William Longchamp was appointed Chancellor of England while Richard was on crusade but in 1191 John took over the power of government. In 1192 Richard was captured, while retuning home and a ransom of 150,000 marks was demanded by Henry VI of Germany for Richard's release. Richard was once again free in February 1194, after partial payment of the ransom, and returned to England for a short time before leaving for France where he remained until his death on 6 April 1199.

In order for Richard and his knights and army to join the Third Crusade money needed to be raised to support such a venture. When a ransom was demanded for the return of Richard, additional taxes were extracted from the people of England to pay for the return of their king. When Richard returned to France after the Crusades money was required to maintain the army. After Richard's death John, and his army, were involved in battles to retain Normandy as an English possession. Normandy was lost to the English in 1204 as was also Anjou and Poitou. Aquitaine was now the only remaining English possession on the European continent.

John had many enemies in places of power especially among the barons and also in the Church. There were many objections but the additional taxes imposed for the continued battles with the French, especially as land in France previously belonging to England was being lost, caused unrest among the barons. John also had strained relationships with the Church particularly after he had opposed the election of Stephen Langton as the new Archbishop of Canterbury in 1208. By 1213 the rebel barons had met with the archbishop to put forward their grievances against John as king. When in 1214 John lost the Battle of Bouvines in northern France the unrest among many of the barons of England escalated. Early in 1215 John refused the demands of the barons so in retaliation a rebel group took over the City of London. This action forced John to negotiate with the barons and clergy and on 15 June 1215 they met at Runnymede where the Charter of Liberties was signed. No doubt a number of copies were made but four copies exist today.

The Magna Carta website prepared by the British Library provides detailed information about these documents and their significance.

The barons renewed their allegiance to the king but tensions remained and several months later the Pope, at John's request, annulled the document. The barons invited Louis, the son of the King of France, to be king and he invaded England in 1216. Several months later John died from dysentery on 18 October.

In November 1216 a revised version of the Magna Carta was produced and amended again in 1225 and in 1297. Most of the clauses in the original document have been repealed over time but versions of the 29th clause have formed the basis of constitutions of many democratic countries.

King John was no doubt a ruthless king with many failings but to some extent his actions need to be examined in context of his times. His brother, Richard, may have a better reputation than John but the reality is that Richard was only in England for a few months once he became king and was responsible for many of the financial problems faced by the English. It was left to John and his supporters to find the funds to pay for Richard's European expeditions and his ransom plus his battles in France. The story of Richard, however, was recorded by the chroniclers and later retold by Shakespeare and other story-tellers.  In stories such as Robin Hood Richard is portrayed as the good king, the champion of his people, while John is the bad king oppressing the people. However some historians, more recently, concede that John, despite his many faults, did work hard in trying to govern the country and lead the army. He also spoke English, unlike the previous kings since the Norman Conquest. Many of the criticisms of John's rule were written and circulated years after he died by his enemies.  Like Richard III (1452-1485), John was almost certainly not as bad as portrayed in popular literature and film. An article in BBC News Magazine 1 March 2011 provides some views on the interpretation of King John in history.

King John (good or bad) was my great (x24) grandfather.