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





 
 

 
6316413344_309861dd7d_b

Senate passes bill expanding drug war with Transnational Drug Trafficking Act

On Monday, the Senate passed the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, which expands the war on drugs. This law gives the Justice Department the authority to prosecute drug traffickers from foreign countries. The law also ensures...
by Adriana Maestas
1

 
 
193624822_de6bb92462_z

Government funding bill with Wall Street giveaways passes in House

On Thursday night, the House of Representatives voted to pass a government funding bill, but some of the more progressive members of the House stood in opposition to this spending bill because it contained policy riders that be...
by Adriana Maestas
1

 
 
5708625905_502f6d8f08_b

Latino support for President Obama up, and majority of Americans still support path to legalization

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released some new data today from a recently conducted survey that shows a mixed response from the public for the President’s recent executive action expanding the numb...
by Adriana Maestas
0

 

Advertisement
 
4bill

Four Ferguson Related Bills in Congress

Four Ferguson Related Bills in Congress. This week will likely be the last week of the 113th Congress. When Congress reconvenes again in January, Republicans will control both the House and the Senate. But the last week of a C...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
1

 
 
eric3

First #Ferguson Bill Set to Become Law: Deaths in Custody Reporting Act

First Piece of #Ferguson Related Legislation Passes Congress and Will Become Law. H.R. 1447, the Death in Custody Reporting Act, authored by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), passed the Senate (Wednesday) tonight and is on its way to be...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
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>