Thursday, October 20, 2022



Robert Fowler, "Martin Litchfield West, 23 September 1937 - 13 July 2015," Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the British Academy 17 (2018) 89–120 (at 92):
In a sparkling and typically amusing (unpublished) memoir of his childhood written for his family, West tells how on both parents’ sides he could lay dubious claim to royal ancestry: John Stainthorpe’s mother was said to have been an illegitimate daughter of George, the second Marquis of Normanby, and thus descended from James II; Robert West traced his lineage (via a great-great-grandmother who had eloped with the gardener) to Sir William Courtenay, ‘de jure eighth Earl of Devon and second Viscount of Powderham Castle’. Consequently, West calculated, he was tenth cousin to the Queen. More than that, the ultimate ancestor of all the royals, Egbert of Wessex, was separated by a mere twenty generations from Woden. ‘Once’, he confesses, ‘in filling up a form for some French biographical reference work, I amused myself by naming him as my ancestor. And so it appeared in my entry: “Ascendance: Woden, dieu germanique”.’
Id. (at 93, quoting West):
One does have—at least I have—a deep-seated desire for a tribal identity. I always thought of myself as an Englishman, and now I have learned how I can think of myself as a Briton too. Having grown up during the Second World War, I could hardly avoid being imbued with patriotic feeling, which I have never disavowed. I cannot imagine living permanently in another country, and have more than once turned down invitations to do so.

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