Jayda crosses the religious divide

What has an English Catholic, the grandaughter of Anglicised Dutch and Irish Catholic immigrants and a proud ‘Essex girl’ to do with Ulster Unionists?

Jayda Fransen Britain First leader NI Northern Ireland.pngTo be honest, we’ve no idea but Jayda Fransen clearly thinks she’s the very woman to lead Northern Ireland’s protestant contingent to victory over… well… other Irish people apparently.

This weekend the heroine of the Battle of Hexthorpe, this Roman Catholic of Jewish ancestry who ran so bravely from the children of a small South Yorkshire mining village seems set to take on the Irish Catholics of her own ancestry in all their paramilitary splendour. You really couldn’t make it up… and so we didn’t.

Amid the barely audible cheers of a couple of dozen Belfast bigots, watched by bemused (and armed) police from the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Fransen declared herself the unelected leader of Ireland’s Unionists.

This really could end in tears.

Dear Jayda

BF Jayda Dudley speeches 3We’re really grateful to this follower who also happens to be something of an expert in ancestry research. There has been much speculation about Jayda “Dutchy” Fransen’s roots over the last year or so. There has been much speculation about her heritage – her degree of ‘Britishness’, if you like. There has been much speculation about the possibility that she may be an immigrant or hail from a family of recent immigrants to our fine, welcoming, multicultural society. Now we can all stop speculating and start ‘knowing’, thanks to the painstaking research of one of EBF’s dedicated followers.

So, without further ado we invite you to boil the kettle, make a nice hot cup of tea, put your feet up and read this wonderful open letter to Miss Jayda Fransen, a British citizen of distinctly foreign heritage…

Dear Jayda

You don’t deserve this. You don’t deserve my time, my energy or this gift. But I am going to give this to you anyway because as the adage goes; you don’t always get what you deserve.

I am a family history enthusiast. I am an amateur but after 10 years enjoying this hobby, I’m pretty good at it. I started following Exposing Britain First about a year ago and something struck me. Your surname. I’ve been studying family history now for long enough to suspect that you aren’t completely British. Fransen is not a British name. So I decided to have a little dig around. All the records I researched are in the public domain. You can look for yourself if you like.

Your family history is rich and I have to confess I am jealous. So far in my ancestry I have found no-one (and my “tree” is over one thousand people strong) who isn’t English. I am the product of an endless stream of Agricultural Labourers. I remember finding a shop-keeper once – and dancing round the room in delight. I am unremittingly English, through ten generations. Your family history on the other hand is exciting and shows tremendous courage and vibrancy. It is rooted in the East End of London. As now, the East End has always been a melting pot of cultures, religions and immigrants. It’s where people new to this country often start their lives.

Let’s start with your paternal grandparents; John Joseph Fransen, or rather Jan Jozef Wynand Fransen. Born in the Netherlands in 1927, Jan came to England with the Dutch Naval fleet. 26710 Leading writer Fransen was in the Royal Netherlands Navy and based in London during the Second World War, fighting the Nazis when most of the Netherlands was occupied or destroyed. The name Jan Jozef would have been a difficult one to live with during and after the Second World War; anything the least bit Germanic sounding was not something to be flaunted or advertised. So he changed it to John Joseph, the name you probably knew him by when he died in 1999.

BF compassion EBFWhilst here, he met and married your grandmother, Elizabeth Mary Cotter. They married in the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady in Lisson Grove. I can find no record of Elizabeth being born in the UK. Most likely, both she and her father, John William Cotter were born in Ireland.

John William Cotter joined the Royal Leinster Regiment in 1913, intending perhaps to have a career in the Army. He was discharged before the beginning of the First World War for misconduct. From the records it appears that he was incessantly drunk and insubordinate. I can’t find out how he made it to London but there are records that appear to show him in the Fulham Road Workhouse in 1922. The workhouse was the somewhat barbaric “benefits” system of the day; where those too sick or without work were forced to go in order to survive. Your ancestor was not alone; throughout your family history there are frequent examples of your family receiving support in this most degrading and undiginified fashion.

On your maternal grandparent’s side of the family, the history is equally fascinating. Your great-grandfather is recorded in prison in the 1901 census. His crime isn’t mentioned and the records are currently sealed but wait a few years and you’ll be able to find out. And then there’s his surname; Silver. The Silver family were highly skilled workers, polishers and cabinet-makers. Why would they marry “beneath” their skill or financial status continually throughout the 19th Century. Speculating, the Silver’s had Jewish ancestry and even in the 19th Century, even though they were surrounded by other immigrants and those struggling with poverty, being Jewish or of Jewish ancestry wasn’t considered to be an asset. Silver is an extremely common anglicised surname, usually from Silber. I’ll keep searching, not for your benefit but for mine. You have no idea how exciting and interesting from an intellectual perspective it is to research such a diverse family history.

Immigrant ancestry Jayda BF EBFI imagine you would rather this was not your family history. I would give my “eye-teeth” to swap your ancestry for mine; endless farm workers get a little boring after a while. I am very, very English. You, on the other hand, are not. You are a melting pot of Dutch, Irish and Jewish roots. So I wonder, not “Who do you think you are?” but “What on earth do you think you are doing?” Your grandfather John (Jan Jozef) came to this country to fight for freedom and settled here. Your great-grandfather, an Irish immigrant was supported by the English “benefits” system, harsh though it was despite being an immigrant. And the Silvers? The highly skilled workers who married beneath them, integrated into English society so that their children and their children’s children, leading right to you could be part of this country and its culture, what would they say to you if they could. Probably much the same as the good, decent people of Exposing Britain First do now.

I’m sorry if this has upset you and I am sure you will want to deny it. But stop. It’s time to grow up and start representing your incredible family, your diverse, culturally rich ancestry like most British people do. With pride. This is who you are.