Regal rhymes from historic regal times



A READER from Millisle has forwarded some snippets of information about John Gaw, whose majestic rhymes were shared with us a few weeks ago by Ballymoney reader Tom Ferguson.

One of Gaw’s lengthy poetic works, with an equally long title, was called ‘Lines of Congratulation to their Most Gracious Majesties King George V and Queen Mary’, and was written in advance of their coronation on June 22, 1911. It contained 13 verses, each with eight extended lines! The new King, though presumably engrossed with preparations for his coronation, stole time to read them, because on June 15, his Majesty’s Private Secretary was “commanded by the King to acknowledge the receipt of Mr John Gaw’s letter, and of the verses enclosed in it, and to express His Majesty’s thanks for the same.” Tom Ferguson was keen to know more about the author. A Millisle reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote to Roamer: “I can remember my late father talking about John Gaw’s poems.”

The reader is quite sure that members of Gaw’s family line - a grandson and a great grandson - are still living in the Donaghadee area. They may have a collection of John’s original poems. The reader added: “The Gaw family apparently came over from Scotland in the 1800s and settled around Donaghadee and Newtownards, especially based in the small village of Ballyfrenis, between Carrowdore and Millisle.” The 1911 census for Ballyfrenis records a Sarah and John Gaw living in “house number 11” with two children, John and Lizzie. I hope someone from the family will contact me via the address below, and tell us more about their literary ancestor who was extremely prolific and had honed the very difficult art of making history rhyme, and readable.