Politic365

 
 


Culture

3:30pm May 7, 2013

Lost History in Downton Abbey

large

By Pearl Duncan.  Duncan is completing two books, tentatively titled, “DNA Adventure, Rebels’ Birthright Reclaimed,” and “A Pirate Ship of Old New York:  Colonial Slavery, The Founding Fathers and a Remarkable 9/11 Discovery.”

 

Now that it is announced by the producers of Downton Abbey that Gary Carr, the star of the BBC’s Death in Paradise, a mystery set on a Caribbean island, will join the show as an attractive, charming and charismatic jazz musician, some viewers who love the popular British television show set in the 1920s, flushed with Edwardian style, fashion and upstairs downstairs shenanigans, ask if the show will continue to be historically accurate.  Why do they ask?  They ask because the jazz musician being added to a show about British aristocrats and their servants is black.

As an African American who has delighted in the show since it first aired on PBS, I ask instead, Will the black jazz musician be related to the aristocratic Grantham family?  I ask because I have ancestors who were British nobles, connected to other dukes and earls, and who were steeped in the actions of one of the real life castles featured on show.  There are black descendants of the nobles featured on the show, and even in the 1920s, there were a few who were aware of the relationship of British aristocrats and African Americans in the United States and the Caribbean Islands.  Even in literature, the relationship was hinted, but few of the black characters were portrayed.

Downton Abbey has dramatic themes and storylines in the melodrama, and one theme that looms large is the law of primogeniture, a practice, which decrees that male heirs inherit instead of female heirs.  But primogeniture also applies to whether a black, male or female, can or cannot inherit.  My black descendants of British nobles, for example, were prevented from inheriting anything because of their race.  A decade ago, I uncovered records showing that my 13th-century noble British male ancestors said, “only the male heirs of my loins shall inherit” titles, castles and estates.  It was also the law that the black heirs of their loins also could not inherit.  That was the practice.  The British descendants of these 13th-century lords, the later lords such as those featured in the era of the television show also said blacks and whites in the Colonies could not marry.  They also could not inherit the lords’ titles or property.

So the laws of primogeniture applied in real time history, and in fiction.  But that should not prevent creative writers from highlighting primogeniture.  Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, already has fesatured the restrictions of primogeniture, in terms of male female inheritors, and which male has to inherit, because the females cannot.  So now he can also feature the laws of primogeniture, in terms of race.  He can do so in ways that other creative writers did or did not do.

 
 


About the Author

Guest Contributor
Guest Contributor
The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and have complete editorial independence from any Politic365 partners, sponsors, or advertisers. For additional information about Politic365, please visit http://politic365.com/about/.




 
 

 
16491577129_5c4a442f19_k

Marco Rubio to enter presidential race on April 13

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Florida Senator Marco Rubio will announce that he is going to enter the race to be the Republican nominee for president on April 13: “Senator Marco Rubio plans to announce his cam...
by Adriana Maestas
0

 
 
senator6

6 Black U.S. Senators in 2017?

Six in 2017? Could it happen that there will be six African Americans sworn-in to the U.S. Senate in January 2017? (CA) Kamala Harris (IL) Robin Kelly (MD) Elijah Cummings/Donna Edwards (NV) Steve Horsford? (SC) Sen. Tim Scot...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 
 
pence4

Indiana Governor Just Can’t Say “No” to LGBT Discrimination

In a failed attempt at misdirection, double talk and dodged questions, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence made the mistake of saying yes to a twenty minute interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.  What Pence failed to do is giv...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 

Advertisement
 
Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.38.25 AM

Senator Harry Reid announces retirement, eyes turn toward Nevada’s Latino electorate

Today Nevada Senator Harry Reid announced his retirement. The Senate Minority Leader insisted that this announcement had nothing to do with a recent eye injury, and it is being reported that Reid had made this decision privatel...
by Adriana Maestas
2

 
 
g-k-butterfield

Butterfield: Politically Driven Open Internet Debate Should Not Slow Sound Broadband Policy

Hailing from Wilson, North Carolina, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Congressman G.K. Butterfield understands well the challenges facing many Americans today. Comprised of roughly three-quarters of a million people, 53% of ...
by Kristal High
1

 




2 Comments


  1. [...] to give DA fans even more to chew on, here is a fascinating discussion about  the role of race in English [...]


    • Pearl Duncan

      So sorry I missed the discussion. I just saw your note. I hope I can make the next discussion; it should be quite interesting. I will check to see what was discussed in the June 13 meeting in Morristown.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>