What royal secrets did the Reverend Robert Knopwood know?
He was the first chaplain of Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land) who sailed to New South Wales (as Tasmania and Australia were called in those days) at the time of the First Fleets of mainly convicts from England to create the first British settlement here.
He mixed with the highest society back in England including with those in the circle of the Prince of Wales.
What’s more, rumours had it that Dr Desailly’s English practice had been at the court of George IV and that his beautiful wife had been a Lady in Waiting to Queen Caroline.
A vessel under special charter had brought them to Australia and they always had plenty of money which, it was said, was paid regularly from a mysterious pension with great secrecy.
What were they doing in this isolated antipodean outpost? They were certainly not convicts nor did they hold any official position in the colony.
Was it because they knew too much?
I was in the middle of researching the background for my book when I came across an extraordinary find.
I couldn’t believe my luck.
Right there in my small country library I found a numbered limited edition copy of a rare book published 45 years ago by a bookshop in Tasmania, Australia, with the modest title of ‘The Chaplain: Being Some Further Account of the Days of Bobby Knopwood’.
In this old book the author, Mabel Hookey, speculates on a scenario pointing to a lost secret that sailed to Tasmania with Knopwood over 200 years ago.
Quite unexpectedly, the author, Mabel Hookey, provided me with the perfect opening to my own book, a mystery that I had stumbled upon going back over 200 years to Regency England and the Prince of Wales, George IV.
In her foreword Hookey explains that “diaries and bundles of old letters and papers on which I have drawn for my subject matter were bought by my grandfather, George Stokell, at the sale of Knopwood’s effects.”
The author continues to say that for many years Knopwood’s effects were stored in a cupboard in her grandfather’s home and that while most had found their way to the Mitchell Library in Sydney others were still in her possession.
Her shocking royal secret begins my own book ‘The Mystery Of Granny’s Ghost’.
To add to the mystery, when I returned to my library to borrow the book again to check what I had quoted, I found to my surprise that it was no longer on the shelves or even in the library catalogue, having sat there gathering dust for up to 45 years.
Then when I wrote to the publisher in Tasmania requesting permission to quote from the book I received no reply. I could find no record of any such bookshop either.
They had all, apparently, vanished.
And my true romantic adventure seemed to have become a paranormal mystery as well.
Get the book, CLICK HERE.
Reference: “The Chaplain: Being Some Further Account of the Days of Bobby Knopwood” by Mabel Hookey, published by Fuller’s Bookshop, Tasmania, 1970. Pages 177-9.