Here There Be Dragons
by Elaine Cust
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Euphaemia and Margaret Jones were sisters who grew up in Yorkshire, England in the late 1600s.
Back then, life was precarious. Minor injuries, infection, and disease, that today could be treated with over-the-counter medications, carried off both children and adults. People were fearful of anything that wasn’t what they considered to be ordinary. Healers and midwives, wandering beggar-women – all of them could be accused of witchery when the conditions were right.
Most people grew up without travelling further beyond their own village than they could walk in an hour or two. Decisions about marriage were most often made by fathers. Women passed from being the responsibility of their fathers to being the responsibility of their husbands. Margaret and Euphaemia expected to marry and raise their families side by side in Helmsley, a small town in Yorkshire. But, life doesn’t always turn out as expected.
In those days, the wishes of the king could reach across England and touch ordinary families. Margaret’s family moved to Ireland, and the sisters lived out their lives without ever seeing one another again. Their ability to remain connected, despite being separated by the backbone of England and the Irish Sea, provides a fierce testament to the power of love.
These sisters actually lived. Margaret Jones is the author’s eighth great-grandmother. Though the story is fiction, it is based on actual christening dates, marriage dates and burial dates of the Cust family, as found in parish registers and other records of the time.