Wednesday, 14 April 2010

I felt touched by family history at Denny Abbey

On the way to the South East Cambridgeshire village of Waterbeach today, I passed the entrance to Denny Abbey and the Farmland Museum (both well worth a visit) and remembered that I have a project that is, temporarily at least, on hold.

My second cousin three times removed, Mr John George Witt, Q.C., (later K.C.) was born at Denny Abbey in 1836. He lived until 1906 and his life was so fascinating that I decided to write a biography of the old boy.

Well, seven hundred or so pages on, it still isn't finished and, if I am elected on the 6th of May, further research and finishing the book will have to take a back seat for another five or ten years. (I believe that, say, two terms in the House of Commons will be about right). Here is Mr Witt's portrait. I own the copyright of this picture and would be grateful if readers resist copying it.

Mr Witt himself wrote books, among them, 'Three Villages,' in which he mentions his early life in Waterbeach and he and his father, Mr James Maling Witt, knowing the young C.H. Spurgeon. He wrote, "The most notable of all our neighbours was the famous young preacher the late Rev. C.H. Spurgeon, then aged seventeen years, of whom my father said: ‘If this young man stops here six months longer he will break the parson.’"  

Of course, if I am not elected on the 6th of May, it will be back to the research and to the book!

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