Monday 1 April 2024

In Search of John Ferguson - and Ferguson's Gang

Writing this blog continues to give me great pleasure. That would be so even if hardly anyone ever looked at it, but in fact I've gained immeasurably by hearing from many people who read the blog or my other writings, some of whom I've enjoyed meeting, some of whom I may never meet, but all of whom have something interesting to say. Their messages, as well as their comments on the blog, are always fascinating.

Someone who got in touch with me recently is Hilary Tolputt. She is interested in John Ferguson, whose books - such as Death of Mr Dodsley and Death Comes to Perigord - I find appealing. She told me she ' became interested in John Alexander Ferguson when I was researching schools in Folkestone including Eversley, the private girls’ school where Ferguson was Chaplain from 1915 to 1938. The school was at Lymington between1935-38 and Ferguson oved there with the school. The search widened and I found more about Ferguson’s life in Callander, Glasgow, Guernsey, Drumtochty, Culross and Lymington.'

Hilary pointed out an interesting apparent connection between Ferguson and 'the women who were involved in raising and presenting money to the National Trust in the late 1920’s and 1930’s. Known as Ferguson’s Gang, they indulged in somewhat strange rituals and had bizarre ways of presenting the cash which gave considerable publicity to the National Trust projects which they supported.' Did Ferguson give his name to the gang? One possible clue is that the leader of the gang was Peggy Pollard (nee Margaret Gladstone), who attended Eversley School.

Hilary asked me if I knew anything about Ferguson's papers that might cast light on this. I'm afraid I am not aware of any John Ferguson archive (his full name was John Alexander Ferguson, by the way). However, I know that a great many people who read this blog are very well-informed about all manner of things. So if any of you can offer any clues, Hilary and I would be delighted to hear from you!

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