On May 4th 2005 I was in the showroom of Global Cars in Cabo Roig, about 2 miles from our home, when I overheard another customer being addressed as "Mr Malpas".
As I drove away I tried to recall where I had heard that name before.
And then I remembered that it was that of a guy on the Internet Chess Club, an Australian who had bought a copy of Coincidences from me.
So I drove back and mentioned this to the customer; George Malpas.
He said something about a Great uncle Arthur who had jumped ship in Melbourne in 1926.
He then supplied me with the e mail of a related lady, Jackie Malpas, whom he said might be able to cast more light on the matter.
The next day I e mailed Geoff Malpas in Australia about this, but got no reply.
On August 24th 2005, having not yet received any response, I was moved to e mail him again, which prompted this reply
- >G'Day (emphasizing aussie drawl) James>>Same same down under ... pleasant surprise to get an email from the brother of such a famous man :)>>Keeping em on their toes in 103 I hope.>>Geoff
The famous brother was Allan, who had invented the Snickometer, a device for aiding umpire´s decisions in televised cricket matches.
And then again the following day I sent him -
I sent u an e mail about 2 months ago about a possible ancestor Malpas who jumped ship in Aussie about 80 yrs ago. Did you not get it? James
This time he came back promptly with -
>Can't recall the email James>>MORE coincidences eh ?>>The rumour is that my great-grandad (i think) jumped ship in Adelaide ... how come you mention this ?>>Geoff
And, struck that it was now demonstrated that there WAS a clear familial link, explained why I had mentioned it, by sending again the e mail of May 5th, which read -
I went into Global cars showroom yesterday, here in Alicante province of Spain, and overheard a customer referred to as Mr Malpas.I mentioned you and he said that his Uncle Arthur had jumped ship in Melbourne in 1926.
Hmmm..... James Plaskett
Then, at 4:10 the next day, August 26th 2005, an e mail, forwarded from Jimmy Adams, arrived for me at almost exactly the same time as I got another reply from Geoff Malpas.
This one was from a Jean Plaskett of London.
I have been given an old newspaper cutting of you beating Matthew Sadler in a chess game in Hastings. I am into genealogy and with an unusual name it’s easier to find people.
I was wondering if you know where your ancestors come from? Mine are from the Seaton/Camerton area of West Cumberland. I have discovered many branches from my great grandfathers generation in Workington, Whitehaven, and Canada. If you have any information please contact me by e-mail or telephone.
Many thanks Jean
I e mailed her with some family details -
"My father was Allan John Plaskett, born Jan 17th 1922. His father was Harold John, a Chemist in Leicester. My father´s grandfather, Adolphus, took ship to America in 1903, abandoning his wife and two children, and started another family, dying in Chicago circa 1927. My mother is Sheila neé Ingram, born August 23rd 1931, in Lincoln.
Her father was Bertrand Ingram, a signalman in the Navy...
I then mentioned the coincidence of when her letter arrived -
... So, your letter, the only inquiry re Plaskett genealogy I have ever received, and I am now 45, arrives with this mail of Malpas re his great-grandfather, a relation of whom I had overheard in acar showroom in May 2005. My mother´s father, born in 1888, deserted the Navy also, and for 5 years or so was on the run.
Had he been caught he would have been hanged. He therefore adopted the name of his brother, and instead of calling himself, as he had done, Bertie Ingram, became Arthur Ingram. >
As I observe in my book, coincidences generate coincidences.
Best wishes, James
Jean Plaskett would surely have contacted Jimmy Adams in his position as editor of the magazine Chess.
What she would not have known was that he had bought from me a copy of my book Coincidences.
On March 21st 2007 my mother happened to mention to me, for the first time, that her father´s middlename was Charles: Bertrand Charles Ingram.
Following his naval desertion he passed himself of as Arthur Ingram.
Arthur was actually the name of his brother, my Great Uncle Arthur who emigrated to Australia.
She did not know exactly where down under, though.
The Mr Malpas I chanced upon in the show rooms mentioned, after I drove back to ask whether there might be any familial conection with the only other Malpas of whom I had ever heard - the Australian who had bought my book Coincidences - that his Great uncle Arthur had jumped ship in Melbourne in 1926.
Geoff Malpas said that this sounded like his great-grandfather.
And then arrives Jean Plaskett´s e mail saying she has unearthed much about her great grandfather´s generation.
Note that Jean´s e mail only arrived aft the time of my second transmision of the appropriate e mail.
Sending it originally, on May 4th 2005, had met with no response as for some reason Malpas did not seem to receive it then.
My mother thought it more than likely that her uncle Arthur would have been in the navy. As her father hailed from Portsmouth, most of the seven boys of the family took that path in life.
... ... ...
Major Charles Ingram´s brother, Richard, was an R.N Officer, and Commander of HMS Manchester -
All e mails to Jackie Malpas were unproductive.