Author Topic: Hook's origin  (Read 11791 times)

Robert Greenham

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Hook's origin
« on: September 27, 2005, 12:59:05 PM »
There have been various ideas about Hook's origin.  While investigating Barrie's visits to Hastings (in Sussex, UK), I came across this piece which makes a claim for one Reverend John Maher, who once  was a pirate, for being Barrie's inspiration for Captain James Hook:

The 19th-century owner of Brede Place was Moretown Frewin who married one of the daughters of Mr Leonard Jerome of New York. Mrs Frewin's sister, Jenny, became Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Sir Winston.

In 1899, the Frewins let the house to the American writer Stephen Crane and his wife Cora.

An invitation to Brede Place became a must in the literary world and the Cranes entertained the greatest writers of the day. Henry James, Joseph Conrad, H.G.Wells, A.E.W.Mason, Rudyard Kipling and J.M.Barrie all stayed at Brede Place at one time or another.

It was during one of these visits that J.M.Barrie first heard the story which, years later, he was to use to help him to create one of the greatest characters of Children's Literature - Captain Hook........

In the early part of the 19th century, the parson of St. George's Church was a certain John Maher. To the good folk of Brede, he seemed a kind and caring man and was much loved in the village; nobody suspected that there was anything amiss.True, the Reverend Maher had a hook in place of his left hand but his story of a coaching accident was so convincingly told that nobody ever suspected anything different. The truth was far darker ... that hook was, in reality, the evidence of his murky past.

Far from having lost his hand under the wheel of the Oxford Mail Coach, it had, in fact, been unceremoniously and violently removed when the good Mr Maher had been illegally boarding a Tobacco Clipper in the Carribbean with a view to stealing the ship and its cargo; for before taking Holy Orders and buying the Living of Brede, the Reverend John Maher had, indeed been a Pirate!

Maher's eventual downfall came at the hands of a man called Smith.

Smith had been Captain Maher's bo'sun during his Piratical Adventures in the West Indies but the two men had fallen out and Maher had given Smith the slip while ashore on a Carribbean Island and had sailed back to England without him. Smith vowed  "to wander the World" until he found his ex-Captain and could gain his revenge. Having worked his passage back on a Merchant Ship, Smith set about travelling from port to port to try to learn of the whereabouts of a sailor with a hook. One night, talking to seafarers in a tavern in Hastings, Smith came across the story of the Parson of Brede with the missing hand. A few discrete questions later, Smith was in no doubt. The genteel Parson _had_ to be none other than his former Pirate Captain.

Smith persuaded a local carter to take him to Brede and by the following morning, The Reverend Maher found himself  being confronted, in his own church, by his worst nightmare.

Smith set out to break Maher by threats and blackmail. Eventually, the unhappy Parson was driven insane.

There is no doubt that some years after hearing this story, J.M.Barrie used it in the stories he told the Llewellyn-Davies children and in time, Maher became the demonic Captain Hook and Smith his 'loveable' bo'sun, Smee - who, Barrie tells us at the end of "Peter & Wendy", was condemned "to wander the World searching for his former mentor, Captain Jas. Hook".


Source: http://brede_with_udimore.homestead.com/Stories.html

jonathan

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Re: Hook's origin
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2005, 09:58:59 PM »
Quote from: "Robert Greenham"
The 19th-century owner of Brede Place was Moretown Frewin who married one of the daughters of Mr Leonard Jerome of New York. Mrs Frewin's sister, Jenny, became Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Sir Winston.Source: http://brede_with_udimore.homestead.com/Stories.html


In fact his name is Moreton Frewen. I have a copy of his Melton Mowbray & Other Memories on my bookshelf, and there aren't many people who can say that.