Fam­ily shares Lord Nel­son link

Au­thor’s visit re­veals his­toric con­nec­tion

The Daily Examiner - - NEWS - Tim Howard tim.howard@dai­lyex­am­iner.com.au

RON HEARFIELD has been telling peo­ple all his life he is a de­scen­dant of Lord Ho­ra­tio Nel­son, the hero of the Bat­tle of Trafal­gar and now he is de­lighted to have schol­arly proof to back his be­lief.

Mr Hearfield, from See­lands, heard au­thor Ed­win Wil­son was go­ing to talk about his lat­est book, Lord Nel­son, Un­cle Oliver and I, at the Grafton Li­brary on Wed­nes­day and turned up with two sis­ters, Pa­tri­cia He­witt and Mar­garet Smith, to hear the story.

“Dad al­ways told us we were de­scended from Lord Nel­son and we al­ways be­lieved him,” Mr Hearfield said.

Mr Wil­son’s book, the re­sult of nearly 50 years of re­search, is an ac­count of the colour­ful life of Oliver Bain­bridge, born Frank Nel­son, in Up­per Cop­man­hurst in 1877.

By the time he died in 1922, pos­si­bly shot by an IRA as­sas­sin in Syd­ney, Nel­son had changed his name to Oliver Bain­bridge and lived a life as an ad­ven­turer, writer, diplo­mat and spy.

The records show he had meet­ings with pres­i­dents, prime min­is­ters and kings and served as an am­bas­sador for the King of Eng­land to the court of King Fer­di­nand II of Bul­garia.

He trav­elled ex­ten­sively in Europe, Asia, Africa, the USA, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Not bad for a man who spent a year in Grafton Jail and was dis­owned by his fa­ther for dis­grac­ing the Nel­son name.

Mr Wil­son said one of the main sources of in­for­ma­tion for his book was his great aunt, Grafton woman Nina Shore, who had looked af­ter him as a young boy.

He said he had stayed at her house with a pic­ture of Oliver Bain­bridge over­look­ing his bed.

Af­ter talk­ing on Wed­nes­day Mr Wil­son signed copies of the book and spoke to other peo­ple from the re­gion who shared his story.

“It’s re­mark­able how sim­i­lar all these sto­ries are,” Mr Wil­son said.

“I’ve never met many of these peo­ple, but they’ve all had the same story as the grew up that they are de­scended from Lord Nel­son.”

Mr Hearfield’s sis­ter Mar­garet Smith, from Yamba, said she had al­ways been im­pressed with the story of the young Nel­son press­ing his tele­scope to his blind eye so he could ig­nore his ad­mi­ral’s or­ders to break off en­gag­ing the en­emy at the 1801 Bat­tle of Copen­hagen.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to be de­scended from some­one who could do that,” she said.

Mr Wil­son said while he had con­cen­trated on find­ing doc­u­mented links to Lord Nel­son, he had also tried DNA test­ing.

He said be­cause of the length of time and the dif­fi­culty in find­ing suit­able sam­ple ma­te­rial, the chances of a suc­cess­ful match were only about 3%.

PHOTO: TIM HOWARD

DE­SCEN­DANTS: Clarence Val­ley res­i­dents, Ron Hearfield, Pa­tri­cia He­witt, Val­mae Collins and Mar­garet Smith, share their sto­ries about their con­nec­tion with Lord Nel­son with au­thor Ed­win Wil­son, seated.

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