John Edrie BLAXLAND,
Antony David Davies requested a copy of the biography of his ancestor Rear-Admiral John Edric Blaxland from the book "Hertfordshire's Leaders." This made me wonder what he might have done to "qualify" for inclusion, as the only thing on his biography related to the county was that a some time after his retirement in 1902 he and his wife moved to St Valery, Harpenden and apparently didn't stay there long.
A check in the British Newspaper Archive found only one news item linking him to the county. It was in the Luton Times of 30th November, 1906.
HARPENDEN. RIFLE CLUB.—At a meeting, presided over by Mr. F. Sibley, it was decided on the motion of Mr. Hopwood, seconded by Mr. Busby, to form a Rifle Club for Harpenden and district. The Chairman., who said he began to shoot when he was five years old (laughter), said they were a little behind St. Albans in starting a club, but he believed Harpenden would run them close. Admiral Blaxland, Captain Jeffcock, Messrs. Jackson, Briggs, and Latter were elected as a preliminary committee. About forty gentlemen promised to become members, and 4s. was suggested as the amount of the subscription.
He definitely moved to Petersfield, Hants by the 1911 census and a news item in the Portsmouth Evening News suggests he had probably moved there by June 1908.
All this suggests that, however great his significance as an admiral had been, he really didn't make much of a mark in Hertfordshire. However the book Hertfordshire Leaders was just one of a number of similar county volumes edited by Ernest Gaskell or Allan North - aliases for Carrie Amy Campion who worked with Truman Press. In effect the game was in publishing "Vanity Biographies" - with letters telling people with some status that they are being considered for inclusion in this important county publication - which is so exclusive that it will only be available to subscribers at something like 3 guineas a copy. Once sufficient contributors had been assembled the individual pages were assembled into a volume and sent out.
If you can add to the information given above tell me.
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