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





 
 

 
slideshow_1210556_healthreform.0810_10

#Ferguson: Rep. Hank Johnson’s Police Demilitarization Bill Gets GOP Support

Three Republicans have signed on to Rep. Hank Johnson’s (D-GA) bill to stop handing free military equipment to local  police.  The three Republicans are Reps. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Justin Amas...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 
 
markFuller1

Members of Congress Vocal on Ray Rice Go Silent Federal Judge Mark Fuller

After Roland Martin shined a spotlight on Alabama Judge Mark Fuller, Congresswoman Terri Sewell became the first member of Congress to call for the federal judge’s resignation.  Why? Because in the wake of the scandal ov...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
2

 
 
Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.38.57 PM

CA State Sen. Roderick Wright to resign this month, following criminal conviction

California State Senator Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) announced on Monday that he would resign from the state legislature effective September 22. This comes after being convicted for felony perjury and voting fraud charges for...
by Adriana Maestas
2

 

Advertisement
 
hillaryA

Iowa: DREAMers Ask Hillary About Immigration, Get No Answers

DREAMers asked Hillary Clinton about the issue of President Obama’s latest delay on immigration.  Clinton, along with her husband, were in Iowa today at Sen. Harkin’s famous 37th (and final) annual Steak Fry in I...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 
 
hug

Rep. Frederica Wilson Meets with Nigerian Schoolgirls Who Escaped Boko Haram

Despite a change in the news cycle that has featured ISIS, Ray Rice and Ferguson, Miami Congresswoman Frederica Wilson fights to keep the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls in the news. After the kidnappings, Wilson spearheaded a ...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 




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>