Thomas Ruddy seemed able to become acquainted throughout his life with people who could guide, inform, influence and befriend him. Many of these shaped the course of his life and interests. Two examples referred to in the early pages of the journal are Robert Daniel, a friend of Thomas’ father who advised Thomas to become a gardener and Adam Mathieson, curator of the Jedburgh museum, and significant amateur geologist, inspirer of Thomas’ geological interest.
None, however, was as significant as his friendship with William Pamplin was to become. Drawn together by a shared love of botany, ornithology and horticulture, they were later to become related by marriage, when in 1881 the widowed Thomas would marry William’s niece Frances Harriet. It was for this reason that some of the Pamplin papers passed down with the Ruddy papers, residing in the trunk which I first opened in 2005, and which has so considerably influenced the course of my own life.
William had a remarkable life, and he was already about 64 when Thomas first refers to him in the journal in 1870. Born in London and living there for most of his life, it was a matter of chance that both men came to live in what was then a fairly remote area of Wales. I will try in later posts to trace the history of William’s family as well as that of Thomas’. Meanwhile this link to the Welsh Archives will begin to sketch the man who was to become Thomas’ greatest friend in Wales. They are buried close to one another in Llandderfel churchyard, the nearest village to Palé Hall.
I am not an expert on William Pamplin – others are better equipped than I to give an account of his life – and I may draw on their expertise for future posts. His life story, pieced together by Internet research, items from the collection in my care and the researches of other Pamplin enthusiasts, and not least from online census reports, is fascinating and intriguing. From now on I shall be interspersing Thomas Ruddy’s journal entries with the story of William’s ancestors, and the lives of other members of the Pamplin family.