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George Archer-Shee

George Archer-Shee was a Royal Navy cadet whose case of whether he stole a five shilling postal order was decided in the High Court of Justice in 1910. Archer-Shee was defended by barrister and politician Sir Edward Carson; the trial, which became a British cause célèbre, was the inspiration for the 1946 Terence Rattigan play The Winslow Boy, the basis of two films. Following his acquittal, the boy's family were paid compensation in July 1911. Archer-Shee was commissioned in the British Army in 1913, killed aged 19, at the First Battle of Ypres on 31 October 1914. George Archer-Shee was the son of his second wife Helen Treloar, his father was an official at the Bank of England and grandson of the painter Sir Martin Archer Shee. His half-brother was an army officer and Member of Parliament. Actor Robert Bathurst is his great nephew. In January 1908 Archer-Shee became a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Osborne, at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight; the college, part of the estate of the late Queen Victoria and trained 14- to 16-year-olds in their first two years of officer training for a career in the Royal Navy.

Further studies continued at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in Devon. The theft occurred on 7 October 1908, shortly after the start of the autumn term, when a cadet named Terence Hugh Back received a postal order from a relative for five shillings. On the same afternoon, Archer-Shee had been given permission to go to a post office outside the college grounds to buy a postal order and a stamp because he wanted to buy a model train costing fifteen shillings and sixpence. On returning to the college, he discovered that Back had reported that his postal order had been stolen. Miss Tucker, the elderly clerk at Osborne Post Office, was contacted, she produced Back's cashed postal order and stated that only two cadets had visited her that afternoon. However, she claimed the same cadet who had bought a postal order for 15s 6d was the one who cashed the 5s order; when the Admiralty wrote to Archer-Shee's father telling him that his son was being expelled for theft, his father responded that "Nothing will make me believe the boy guilty of this charge, which shall be sifted by independent experts".

The father's reaction reflected the family's values. They were devout Roman Catholics and the background in banking meant all the sons had been brought up to regard misuse of money as sinful. Martin Archer-Shee contacted several lawyers to help clear his son's name, he contacted his son Major Martin Archer-Shee, the half brother of George, active in politics. Major Archer-Shee obtained the services of Sir Edward Carson, regarded as one of the United Kingdom's best barristers of the age, who had a son at Osborne. Before he took the case, Carson subjected the boy to questioning to test his story, only accepting once he had satisfied himself of the boy's innocence. Several problems prevented Carson from taking the case straight to court. Firstly as Archer-Shee was a naval cadet at the time, this excluded him from the jurisdiction of a civil court. Secondly as he was not enlisted in the Royal Navy, he was not entitled to a court-martial. In order to help his client, Carson brought a petition of right against the Crown to bring the matter before the courts.

The case came to the High Court of Justice on 26 July 1910. The Solicitor-General, Sir Rufus Isaacs, appeared for the Crown and Carson, himself a former Solicitor-General, for Archer-Shee. Carson's opening remarks set the tone of the case: A boy 13 years old has been labelled and ticketed for all his future life as a thief and a forger. Gentlemen, I protest against the injustice to a child, without communication with his parents, without his case being put, or an opportunity of its being put forward by those on his behalf; that little boy from the day that he was first charged, up to this moment, whether in the ordeal of being called in before his Commander and his Captain, or whether under the softer influences of the persuasion of his own loving parents, has never faltered in the statement that he is innocent. Carson soon proved that the grounds on which the Admiralty had dismissed Archer-Shee were unsubstantiated; the barrister proved that the elderly postmistress, Miss Tucker, could have been mistaken.

She admitted in court that all of the cadets looked alike, conceding that in the course of dealing with one cadet and her various other tasks and duties, another boy could have entered without her noticing. The court heard Miss Tucker was unable to identify Archer-Shee among the other cadets when given the opportunity to do so. On the fourth day of the trial, the Solicitor-General accepted the statement that George Archer-Shee did not cash the postal order "and that he is innocent of the charge. I say further, in order that there may be no misapprehension about it, that I make that statement without any reserve of any description, intending that it shall be a complete justification of the statement of the boy and the evidence he has given before the court." Following the verdict, the Archer-Shee family began to press the Admiralty to pay restitution. On 16 March 1911 the First Lord of the Admiralty said that he thought the House of Commons would think it inappropriate; the family continued to press their claim, circulating a booklet within the Establishment presenting their side of the case.

On 6 April, the Archer-Shee case was raised in the Commons during a Naval Estimates debate. As most MPs supported compensation, the Admiralty was forced to concede to a judicial hearing to decide the matter, otherwise the business would be

People of the Black Mountains

People of the Black Mountains is an historical novel by Raymond Williams. This book is a work in two volumes, published in 1989 and 1990, it features a great diversity of people in a single place across the ages. Most of them are ordinary people living unprivileged lives, it is told thorough a series of flashbacks featuring an ordinary man in modern times. He is looking for his grandfather who has not returned from a hill-walk, but has visions of the past as it might have been, it begins in the Old Stone Age and extends through to the Middle Ages, telling a series of fictionalized short stories about ordinary people in the Welsh-border region of the Black Mountains where he was born and grew up. The series is solidly based on what archaeologists have found – some of the tales are speculative reconstructions based on real burials, it has been praised for "brilliant clarity and imaginative vision" and hailed as "the great historic novel Wales has long deserved". The story-sequence would have extended to modern times had Williams lived to finish it.

What exists is a complete story arc extending from the Old Stone Age to the late-Mediaeval period. The story begins in the Old Stone Age and was intended to come right up to modern times, always focusing on ordinary people, he had completed it as mediaeval times when he died in 1988. It was prepared for publication by his wife Joy Williams and was published in two volumes, along with a Postscript that gives a brief description of what the remaining work would have been. All of the stories were completed in typescript revised many times by the author. Only one story, The Comet was left incomplete and needed some small additions to make a continuous narrative Primitive hunters living before the last Ice-age Similar hunter gatherers returning after the ice, their possible marriage-customs The arrival of the first Neolithic farmers. A visiting astronomer-priest from the culture that produced the Stonehenge trilithons The defeat of a Roman force by Welsh tribesmen, the Silures.'King Arthur', here seen as Artorius, a warlord who had defeated the Saxons but here seen as a burden to the ordinary farmers who produced the food that the warriors ate.

Harold Godwinson riding through, having chased out the Normans during the reign of Edward the Confessor. The Normans pushing into Wales after 1066 A local revolt that merges into the general rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr in the early 15th century. Sir John Oldcastle seeking refuge after being persecuted for supporting the Lollards