At the end of Part 2, we learned of Martindales who survived against the odds in Barbados.
A 1679 census shows a John Marting (an abbreviation for Martingdale, a common misspelling of our name) owning 10 acres, one slave, and no servants in the St. James Parish of Barbados. This John was the grandson of John Sr., from Part 1 of this tale, and 10 acres is the same amount of land his grandfather owned in 1638. In 40 years, the Martindales had not expanded their farm, nor sold up. It seems they had simply stayed put for three generations.
Picking up where we left off in Part 1 of this tale, upon discovering these early Barbados Martindales, I began picturing the lives of 17th century European settlers in the Caribbean, and the literature scholar in me couldn’t help but turn to Shakespeare. The Tempest was written during John Martindale Sr.’s lifetime and epitomizes a popular vision of a faraway, exotic island, uninhabited apart from strange spirits and magical creatures. Shakespeare, who probably never traveled outside of England and certainly never went to the Caribbean, used the collective imagination of his time to set the scene of a wondrous lush, green land with wild, fearful wind and waves.
Like so many retired people, my dad, Peter, has spent the past few years “doing the family tree.” He’s spent hours on genealogy websites, downloading baptism certificates and wills from archives that go back generations, looking out for matches with unusual names, coming up against wall after wall and dismantling them brick by brick, name by name.
In a sense, our family is easier than some—at least through the paternal line. Our surname, Martindale, is fairly unusual, and my dad has worked our line back to a Rowland Martindale who died in 1660 in Cumbria, in the northwest of England.
The Brotherhood of the Blood (la Confrérie de la Sanch) is a religious and charitable organization that has existed in Perpignan since 1416. Its founding mission was to commemorate the Passion of Christ, which is the short, final period of the life of Jesus Christ; to assist prisoners who had been condemned to death; and to preach penance and help sinners prepare for their final judgement and salvation. As part of this mission, members of the brotherhood, known as penitents, would accompany prisoners condemned to death on their final walk through the city to the scaffold.
Today, I saw some storks. Three, to be exact, flying over the Western Mediterranean marshlands where I live, heading to their breeding grounds further north. Late January and a presage of spring already, accompanying the mimosa trees that have suddenly burst into flower as though a child has taken a pot of the brightest yellow paint she could find and splashed drops all over a wintery canvas. It was just as the spring migration was beginning last year that France entered its first lockdown.
It’s hard to state just how catastrophic 2020 was for the performing arts, and it’s hard to imagine the shape of the post-pandemic world. Nobody knows when theatres will reopen, or under what conditions; nobody knows when rehearsals will be able to take place or when audiences will be able to gather. In short, nobody knows what, or when, the new normal will be.