Friday, 25 May 2007

Peter Daglish, artist

This week I had the pleasure to meet Peter Daglish and his wife at their home and studio in London.

Peter Daglish was born in Gillingham, Kent in 1930. It was his grandfather William Daglish (1874-1949) who moved from Newcastle upon Tyne to Gillingham in the 1890s, where he married and raised a family. William worked as a coppersmith in the Chatham dockyard. Peter's father, another William (1898-1968) also worked in the same dockyard - and I was interested to find that both Peter's father and grandfather were awarded the Imperial Service Medal in recognition of their services - William senior in 1934 and his son in 1958.

At the age of 25, Peter emigrated to Canada where his interest in painting developed whilst he was working at a hotel in Banff. He received encouragement from artists such as Maxwell Bates (1906-1980), and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Montreal where he studied from 1956 to 1960. He then won a Max Beckman Scholarship to continue his studies at the Brooklyn Museum Arts School in New York.

In 1961 Peter married Marian Brown in Banff and soon after returned to the UK, where he continued his studies at the Slade School in London from 1963 to 1965. This was followed by teaching posts at Ealing College, London and from 1969 to 1971 at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. Back in London, Peter taught printmaking at the Slade School and Chelsea School of Art in London from 1973 until his retirement in 1996.

Since his retirement, Peter has continued to be active with exhibitions and workshops around the world - most recently solo exhibitions in Canada and Cuba.


Peter's early works were paintings in oil - but he soon focussed on linocuts and lithographs. Since 1985 he has made fired enamel on steel plate. When we saw him this week he was busy preparing for work to be collected the next day for an exhibition in Bristol, where he has recently been working at the University which has an enamel research department.

Among the many public institutions that own work by Peter are The British Council, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada, Portland Museum of Fine Art and the University of New Mexico.

Peter's other passion is jazz and Cuban music. He plays saxophone and plays regularly with a number of jazz ensembles around London.

In a strange coincidences, we discovered that Peter's son now lives in the small village in the Buckinghamshire Chilterns where I grew up and attended the local primary school, and where my father is buried in the churchyard. It can sometimes be a small world!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Gordon James Daglish

I am hoping that someone can help with this, please.

This painting was sold at auction by Bonhams at Knowle, UK, in September 2006. It is attributed to Gordon James Daglish (19th century), and entitled "A Dinghy and A Barge On An Estuary, A Town Beyond".

The problem is that I have no knowledge of Gordon James Daglish, and can find no reference to him in the art reference books. I have written to Bonhams to check the details but, so far, have received no reply.

Is this the correct name - or could the artist perhaps be a Dalglish, or similar? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Robert Daglish - our man in Moscow

Robert Cyril Daglish (1924-1987) is now mostly remembered as an accomplished translator of books from Russian to English.

Robert was born in Honor Oak Park, London, the son of Walter Daglish and Ethel Stocken. His grandfather, James Daglish, was born in North Shields, Northumberland, and the family moved to Bermondsey, London in the late 1880s. Robert read Russian history and literature at Jesus College, Cambridge. He started work at the British Embassy in Moscow in 1949, where he met and married his Russian wife, Ina Gregorievna Nogtich, in 1954.

In March 1982 in a letter written to Richard Daglish, Robert wrote:
“You will be surprised to find me domiciled out here. I have been working in Moscow for over thirty years on translations and dictionaries and am at present producing a complete English edition of the works of Mikhail Sholokhov (author of “Quiet Flows the Don”). I have also played small parts in eight Russian films.”

He also wrote:
“My interest in the family history has been mainly confined to wondering about the origin of our name, which is so often distorted by all and sundry, even the BBC pronounced it with the stress on the last syllable!”.

A more colourful account of Robert’s life in Moscow written by Lev Navrozov appeared under the title of “Why an Englishman Did Not Become a Soviet Citizen”, which makes an interesting read.

Robert is remembered at his old University through the Robert Daglish Fund. The Fund was established 'for the encouragement of Russian studies' through a bequest from his wife Ina in memory of her husband. The purpose of the Fund is to 'make grants or loans to undergraduate members of the University to assist them in travelling to or in Russia in connection with their studies in the University'.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Neil Daglish, actor

In the next few weeks I hope to feature some Daglishes who have worked in the arts. I will start with Neil Daglish, an actor with an impressive career working in the theatre and in television.

Neil was born in in Hebburn, Co. Durham in December 1949, the son of Matthew Daglish and Mary Dobson. When he was ten, the family moved to the East End of London. After the death of his father, Neil left school at 15, working in a Magistrates Court as an assistant court clerk.

Neil writes: “After three years working in the Magistrates Court, I decided that I’d rather be an actor than a court clerk. I went to the Webber Douglas School of Acting in South Kensington and completed a 3 year course. I was employed (off and on) for the next 30 years as an actor in the theatre and television and thoroughly enjoyed it. I still work as an actor, but mostly in television and do very little theatre work”.

Among the highlights of his career, Neil lists:
  • appearing in the West End production of Terence Rattigan’s last play “Cause Celebre”, with Glynis Johns;
  • playing Ernest in “The Importance of Being Earnest”, with Penelope Keith;
  • appearing as Sir Robert Chiltern in Sir Peter Hall’s production of “An Ideal Husband”;
  • starring with Nicholas Lyndhurst in “Straight And Narrow” at the Wyndham’s Theatre;
  • five plays at The National Theatre, including Arthur Miller’s “The American Clock”, William Congreve’s “Love For Love” and “The Beggar’s Opera” with Tim Curry;
  • World tours with the Derek Nimmo British Airways Playhouse Company.

The programmes from two of these productions are shown here.

Neil’s many TV credits include everything from Dr. Who (with Peter Davison) to Rumpole of The Bailey, and his recent TV work has included appearance in popular favourites such as The Bill, Casualty and Eastenders.

My thanks to Neil for providing the information. I contacted Neil a couple of weeks ago to ask his permission and it has been a pleasure to find out more about his life and work.

Research shows that Neil's family tree goes back from Hebburn, where Neil was born, to Gateshead and then to Morpeth in the mid 19th century, back John Daglish who married Hannah Hall in Morpeth in 1768 - and we know that there were Daglishes living in Morpeth long before this date. This is a large and extensive family tree that we will visit again in coming weeks.

For anyone with connections to Hebburn, there are some interesting sites. The Hebburn Website has many old school photos - there are more on Norman Dunn's Hebburn on Tyne site.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

The Australian Gold Rush - a Daglish story

The Australian gold rush of the 1850s had a big impact on Australia, and in particular the newly formed state of Victoria.

In 1851 the Australian population was 437,655, of which 77,345, or just under 18%, were Victorians. A decade later the Australian population had grown to 1,151,947 and the Victorian population had increased to 538,628; just under 47% of the Australian total and a seven-fold increase from ten years earlier.

Many of those arriving in Australia at that time were from England, particulary from the mining communities - and the following account of the life of Matthew Storey Daglish has been kindly sent by Jenny Clark, who is his great, great granddaughter.

Matthew Storey Daglish, the son of James and Mary Daglish, was born on 30 December 1828 in North Shields, and christened at Christ Church, Tynemouth (pictured above).

He married Mary Chambers in 1851 in Easington, County Durham, and their two eldest children, James and Margaret, were born there. Some time between 1854 and 1857, the family emigrated to Australia. They went to Ballarat in Victoria where Matthew mined in the new Victorian goldfields.

Gold had been discovered in Ballarat in 1851. At first this was alluvial gold, found on the surface or in creeks and rivers; gold pans, puddling boxes and cradles were used to separate the gold from the dirt and water. When this ran out underground mining began; this was much more difficult and dangerous.

Six more children were born in Ballarat – but in 1867 Matthew was killed in a mining accident, leaving Mary with 7 children aged under 13 (the eldest son James had died in 1864, aged 12), and another on the way. The family moved to Chiltern where the last child, another James, was born. This last little James Storey died the following year aged 8 months.

Many Ballarat families moved to Chiltern in the late 1860s as a new goldfield opened up there. It may be that Mary had other family or close friends who were moving – otherwise why would she relocate 250 miles?

These are Matthew and Mary Daglish’s children -
James (1852), Margaret (1854), Mary (1857), Elizabeth (1859), Thomas Brown (1861), Matthew Clark (1863), Robert (1864), Ann (1866) and James Storey (1868).


Elizabeth married Thomas Arthur Robert Skerry in Chiltern in 1883. Thomas Skerry was also the child of an immigrant gold miner who had moved from Carngham near Ballarat to Chiltern in the 1860s. Elizabeth and Thomas had six children; after Elizabeth’s death in 1910, Thomas remarried and had three more children, the last born when Thomas was 62 years old! Mary Maud Skerry married Alfred (Dick) Lappin, the youngest in the large family of immigrant Irish farmers in 1906. Dick was a mining engineer who began his career in gold mining but moved on to earthworks associated with dams in Victoria’s irrigation schemes. They had 14 children between 1907 and 1930, 11 of whom survived to adulthood. The youngest, Norman Richard (Dick) Lappin was my father.

Jenny Clark, Hamilton, Victoria.


For reasons of space, this is an abbreviated account of the article that Jenny sent to me. If you are interested in more details of Matthew Storey Daglish and his family please e-mail me.

Some further research has found that Matthew had a sister Mary Ann and two brothers, James and Abner.

Sadly James also died in a mining accident, this time at Percy Main colliery, near North Shields (see watercolour above painted by Thomas Hair). An article in the Newcastle Journal of 15 September 1849 which reads:

The same coroner (J.G. Stoker) held another inquest on Thursday at Percy Main on the bodies of Thomas Pattison aged 29 and James Daglish aged 23. The deceased were pitmen at Percy Main Colliery and it appeared that after the had got into the corf to descend the pit the chain broke and they were precipitated to the bottom of the shaft and killed. The jury ... are of the opinion that the chain was not of good quality and recommend that in future the chains be properly tested to ascertain their strength before being put into use".

Matthew's other brother Abner married Elizabeth Kears and had 12 children. His eldest daughters married and emigrated to Australia and New Zealand, and there are descendents of Abner's family living today in the UK.

The National Archives of Australia has recently added a section to its web site entitled A Gift To The Nation which makes available WW1 services records online, with free access - an excellent resource. There are only two Daglish entries – Roydon (Roy) Oliver Clark Daglish and Henry William Daglish.

Roy was the grandson of Matthew Storey Daglish, and the son of Matthew Clark Daglish and Malinda Keat. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force to serve in WW1 as soon as he turned 18. There are twenty pages of Roy's service history available on the site, with high quality scans -see extract below. Roy returned from overseas service and married Mary Gertude Kavanagh in Albury, New South Wales. Their son Reginald James Daglish died in 1966.


There is also an interesting site for the Chiltern Athenaeum Museum, which records the births of the family after the move from Ballarat to Chiltern.

As a footnote, gold production ceased in Ballarat in 1918 – but the last few years has seen mining begin again, in deeper mines and using the latest technology.