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Author Archives: William Pavey Meskan

A Penny For The Guy

A Penny For The Guy

“Erected in the fifth year of the reign of James I …”

– The Valley of Fear (VALL)


James I (1603-25) silver Thistle Penny.
S-2661. N-2106. Famous ROSA SINE SPINA (rose without thorns) issue,
the legend surrounding an open Tudor rose. Reverse: legend  (translated as “May God Guard These United” Kingdoms) within two beaded circles in the center of which is a Scottish thistle (James
was son of Mary Queen of Scots, also King James VI of Scotland). A classic Stewart coin, paying homage to the clan’s Welsh origins, the Tudor family.

King James I

During the reign of King James I (1603-1625), famous for footing the bill for a translation into English of the Holy Bible – the King James Bible – there was major change brewing in England. Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 and was succeeded by the son of Mary, Queen of Scots; thus, James VI of Scotland became James I of England, in 1603. The name JAMES was very popular with the Scots; in fact, there were 6 kings named James in a row, from 1406 (James I) to 1567 (James IV). I believe that all were named after their respective fathers. He moved from Scotland to England as London offered a more glamorous lifestyle. And he lived life to the fullest. Except for smoking tobacco, about which he wrote “A custome loathsome to the eye, hateful to nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs.” A bit ahead of his time!

Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes

But he was Protestant and a group of Catholics wanted to replace him with one of their own, hence “The Gunpowder Plot” of 1605. One of the plotters, Guy Fawkes by name, was caught with dozens of kegs of gunpowder in the basement of the Houses of Parliament. He was waiting for a signal that the King had arrived to open Parliament, to light the fuses. He and his fellow plotters were rounded up and dispatched from this world with very nasty means of execution. But the event is celebrated to this day with bonfires, fireworks and burning Guy in effigy, while children sort of “Trick or Treat,” asking for “a penny for the Guy.” The mask used in the movie V for Vendetta is Guy Fawkes’ visage. The event is immortalized thus:

Remember, remember, the fifth of November,

gunpowder, treason and plot,

I see no reason why gunpowder treason

should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes

’twas his intent

to blow up the King and the Parliament.

Three score barrels of powder below, Poor old England to overthrow

By God’s providence he was catch’d

With a dark lantern and burning match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the belles ring.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Hip hip hoorah!

This story is copyrighted © 2015 by the author, William “Beau” Meskan.

2015-08-16 20.44.39William Pavey Meskan, aka “Beau”, is the 12th Garrideb, invested as the Lord High Constable. In addition, he is a member of The Scotland Yarders, Col. Sebastian Moran’s Secret Gun Club, The Sherlockian by Invitation Only Society, The Detectives of Chicago Central, STUD Sherlockian Society, Hugo’s Companions and the Hounds of the Baskervilles.

Some Observations on the Traditions of Christmas in the Holmes – Queen Victoria Era

Some Observations on the Traditions of Christmas in the Holmes – Queen Victoria Era

“I had called upon my friend Sherlock Holmes upon the second morning after Christmas, with the intention of wishing him the compliments of the season.” – The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (BLUE) In Holmes and Watson’s day, the celebration of Christmas was very different from what we expect in this modern age. It is… Continue Reading

A Victorian Recipe for Christmas “Pud”

A Victorian Recipe for Christmas “Pud”

With Christmas approaching, let us examine a recipe for traditional Christmas Pudding. I say “traditional,” because this particular item has been concocted by my family for over 100 years, having been brought to the colonies by my late Grandmother (born Chapwick, Somerset, in 1883). It was her Mother’s recipe. From my earliest recollections, I can remember… Continue Reading