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Monday, October 16, 2006

Why Mother Damnable?

At first I named myself Mother Damnable because I knew that I had been referred to as “That Damnable Woman” by various officials which I had bothered by my assertiveness over the years, sometimes it seems many women are referred to thus.

Once I began looking into the name I found Mother Damnable and according to some records her friend Mother Redcap, as far as I understand the tale Mother Redcap ran a pub where Camden Tube station stands today and mother Damnable ran “The World’s End” pub opposite. Some stories give Mother Damnable and Mother Redcap as the same woman, Moll Cut Purse, the highway woman, allegedly lodged at Mother Damnable’s and I love to think of these brave, independent women sharing a bite to eat and catching up with news, I can imagine much laughter and fun but also much wisdom and possibly melancholy for what might have been.

There is a pamphlet that describes the way in which Mother Damnable at the World’s End met her end in this life, it says:

"Hundreds of men, women, and children were witnesses of the devil entering her house in his very appearance and state, and that, although his return was narrowly watched for, he was not seen again; and that Mother Damnable was found dead on the following morning, sitting before the fire-place, holding a crutch over it, with a tea-pot full of herbs, drugs, and liquid, part of which being given to the cat, the hair fell off in two hours, and the cat soon after died; that the body was stiff when found, and that the undertaker was obliged to break her limbs before he could place them in the coffin, and that the justices have put men in possession of the house to examine its contents.'

"Such is the history of this strange being, whose name will ever be associated with Camden Town, and whose reminiscence will ever be revived by the old wayside house, which, built on the site of the old beldame's cottage, wears her head as the sign of the tavern."*

Personally I think that Mother Damnable’s Lord, perhaps a lover, from her life or a previous one came to take her home, after I originally researched this I found that my change was wrong once I looked I found two old shillings, one from three years before I was born and one from a year before I was born, I think these shillings were sent from Mother Damnable and Mother Redcap predicting what year I was to be born and to keep with me in case I need to pay the ferryman.

The next Mother Damnable that I discovered was Mother Mary Anne Damnable Conklin who led a fascinating life, Mary Ann was at one time the wife of a whale boat captain and she went out on his boat with him, which at that time must have been one of the most exciting things anyone on earth could do.

Mary Ann Damnable could, it seems curse in 6 languages, although just how she came to learn profanities in such a wealth of language is shrouded by the mists of time. Mary Ann Damnable ran a guest house, and later a brothel in Seattle, Washington USA, which was then a tiny village.

“Apparently she ran an efficient business, with clean sheets, good food, and a no-nonsense attitude toward guests. Her salty language, which she likely learned at sea with her mate "Bull" Conklin, became legendary, not only in Seattle but among West Coast travellers. It was said that her profanity was equally colourful in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, and German. Mother Conklin's reputation grew and the Felker establishment became known as "The Conklin House," or "Mother Damnable's."

Conklin also purveyed meeting rooms, presumably in competition with Yesler's Hall. She charged the Territorial Government $25 for the use of one of her rooms as a "court room" and $10 for rooms occupied by jurors. One rather officious prosecuting attorney made the mistake of asking for a receipt. She hollered, "There's your receipt" and flung in his direction a few sticks of stove wood.

In later years she earned the name "Madame Damnable" because, according to Seattle historian Bill Speidel, she ran a brothel in the upstairs of her hotel.

Mary Ann Conklin died in 1873. She was buried in the Seattle Cemetery, the city's first municipal cemetery located at the site of the future Denny Park. In 1884, these graves were removed to other cemeteries and the site was made into a park. When it came time to remove the coffin of Mary Conklin, it took about a half a dozen men to raise the coffin. When the lid was removed, it was found that her body had somehow "turned to stone" with all features intact. “ **

I believe that Mary Ann Damnable turned her body to stone to remember, she had some thing to remember and turning her own body to stone would help her to remember. Another strong independent woman that I am sure I would have loved to share a supper with.

Mother Virago Damnable is the earliest Mother Damnable that I am able to prove, and is remarkable to me because although she lived circa. 1676 we are able, it seems to see what she looked like because there is an anonymous print made of her, in her lifetime. I know very little about the lifetime of Virago Damnable, though she must have been a very strong character to have an image made of her in those times.

The print of Mother Virago Damnable is published in a book entitled:
The Art Of Frenzy: Public madness in the visual culture of Europe, 1500-1850
By Jane Kromm ***

I have not yet seen the picture, but once I do I’ll let you know how she looks.

Documentation before 1672 is hard to come by, records were destroyed and perhaps the Mothers Damnable were called by a more affectionate name in times that favoured brave, strong women, I am looking and so are the Damnable’s that have already returned. Sometimes whilst we enjoy a quiet supper, and remember, we skip many, many generations, we remember Queens and great Ladies, wondrous perfumes, much love and laughter.

We always try and remember the good days, the fun, the things we want to remember, but sometimes in the dawn, as the sky shows us an earthly sunrise, of gold and purple and orange. We remember the sadness, the pain, the murder, the times when we were called a much worse name than Mother Damnable, a name that provoked torture and worse, our name, never to be spoken.

We remember a time that we were not mothers but whore’s, when we rarely survived much beyond our first glow of youth, we always it seemed too much for the world that had little time for women as men controlled and defiled the land. We send much love to our sisters of then, dancing with the Fairies now, still beautiful, still beloved, still us.

True we sometime allow a tear to fall as finally we raise a glass, sigh and drink our final toast.

“The Whores of Babylon, Bless us one and all.”

*{From: 'Camden Town and Kentish Town', Old and New London: Volume 5 (1878), pp. 309-24. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=45239. Date accessed: 16 October 2006.}

** http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=1934

*** http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=546377


Blogger Granny said...

I'm glad you're revisiting all the old legends again.

Friday, 20 October, 2006  
Blogger Mother Damnable said...

..and special love to you Granny for returning Mary Ann to us :>)

Join us for a jape......

Four ladies were having coffee. The first woman tells her friends "My son is a priest. When he walks into a room, everyone calls him 'Father.'"

The second woman chirps, "My son is a bishop. Whenever he walks into a room, people call him 'Your Grace.'"

The third crone says "My son is a cardinal. Whenever he walks into a room, people say 'Your Eminence.'"

Since the fourth woman sips her coffee in silence, the first three women give her this subtle "Well...?"

Finally she replies, "My son is a gorgeous, sexy, antler wearing, body building Pagan. When he walks into a room, women say,

'Oh my God.'"

Friday, 20 October, 2006  

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