Tracing your ancestors has never been more popular, but what if your ancestor was far more intriguing than you ever thought?
After 15 years of extensive family research, tracing my family back to the 16th century, I could still not trace my great-great-grandfather, Enoch Thomas Price, who seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth. That was until, through a fluke of luck, my cousin, Susan Sperry from California found the missing link. Enoch Price, was, in fact, Harry Mason, who had died in Jacksonville, Florida in 1919.
An ancestor found, a name changed, bare-knuckle fighting in London's criminal underworld and much more in Harry Mason's great great grandson's fictionalised retelling of this extraordinary life.
Working with my American cousins, Susan from California and Kimberley from Virginia, the story emerges of Enoch going bankrupt in London and, fearing for his life, he abandons his wife and children and flees to Jacksonville, Florida. A decision he will regret for the rest of his life.
Burning Secret begins in 1844, when Enoch Price is born into poverty. An ambitious youth, he becomes a bare-knuckle fighter in London's squalid underworld. In debt to a violent and unscrupulous moneylender and facing ruin and imprisonment, he escapes to Jacksonville, Florida.
Through a series of thrilling and risky escapes, he plays an important role in the development and history of Jacksonville, building an extraordinary new life of political and financial notoriety involving the shooting of a rival and the concealment of a murder.
Despite imploring his wife to join him, she declines, exhausted by his lies. Tormented by loneliness and guilt, Harry seeks solace through a bigamous marriage, leading him further into a web of deceit as he tries to conceal his true identity.
Meanwhile, lauded and enjoying popular success, Harry is elected in 1903 to the Florida State House of Representatives with the prospect of becoming State Governor. Through a series of corrupt ventures and scandals he advances his business empire, becoming a wealthy and successful politician. However, wealth and success brings neither happiness nor contentment, and, seeking redemption, Harry plans to return home - but life is never that simple as the First World War breaks out, the Spanish flu takes its toll, and the American government introduces prohibition. Will there be a good end for Harry, or will his secrets prove to be the death of him?
After retiring as a senior police officer, I turned my detective skills to genealogy, tracing my family history to the 16th century. However, after 15 years of extensive research, I couldn’t track down my great-great-grandfather, Enoch Price, whose wife, Eliza, had, in living memory, helped raise my mother.
I graduated from Warwick with a joint in Philosophy and Psychology and a Masters in Marketing from UWE. Since leaving a thirty-year career in policing, I’ve been a non-executive director with the NHS, social housing, and other charities. I live with my wife in Bristol, spending my time travelling, writing and producing delicious plum jam from the trees on my award-winning allotment.
In 1844 Enoch Price was born into poverty. An ambitious youth, he became a bare-knuckle fighter amongst London's underworld. In debt to a violent and unscrupulous moneylender and facing imprisonment, he escapes to Jacksonville, Florida. By the time he arrives in Florida, Enoch Price has become Harry Mason.
Through a series of thrilling and risky escapes, he plays an important role in the development and history of Jacksonville, building an extraordinary new life of political and financial notoriety, the shooting of a rival, and the concealment of a murder.
Born Bristol in 1844 - Died Jacksonville, Florida 1919.
This is his only known photograph, taken in 1903 in Tallahassee, Florida, after being elected to the State House of Representatives, with every prospect of becoming State Governor.
Photos below L to R. His mother, Bethia Price. His wife, Eliza Price. Daughter, Florence Price.
After a brief honeymoon at Torquay, Devon, my father was called up on 7 September 1939 for military service, being posted with the Royal Army Medical Corps to Lille, France. He was evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk on 2 June aboard HMS Kelly. He was then rested and reequipped before being dispatched to Malta, where he was to spend three and half years working at the RNH Mtarfa Hospital, returning home January 1946.
My grandfather, Albert Lloyd. Born at Witney, Oxfordshire 1875. After a seven year apprenticeship he became a master coach builder and wheelwright. He volunteered on 1 August 1914 for military service on the outbreak of WWI. He was posted to France and served for four years in the Amiens area repairing the wagon trains supplying the front line with millions of shells. He did not return home until Christmas 1918. He married his beloved wife, Elizabeth, in 1897 and had 10 children. He worked until his death in 1955 aged 77 years.
Mark Lloyd was born at Witney, Oxfordshire in 1841. He was a master weaver, working in the blanket factories of Witney. His father John Lloyd had also been a master weaver. The middle of the three smaller photographs is of my maternal great grandparents, Albert and Sarah Rowles, both blanket factory workers at Witney in the 1860s.
The photograph on the far right is of my mother being held by her favourite aunt, Jesse King. The photograph was taken around 1919. Jesse tragically committed suicide on 5 February 1924, aged 23 years, when she threw herself over the cliffs at the sea walls adjacent to the Clifton Suspension Bridge.