Secret History of the Noble House


The Wold Newton Connection
According to genealogy records:
  • John Shipley Sr. was born March 2, 1746 in Foxholes, North Yorkshire, England. 
  • He was the son of George Shipley (1722-1782) and Mary Colley (1726-1788). 
  • John Shipley Sr. died May 28, 1832 in Foxholes, North Yorkshire, England. 
  • He married Isabell Craven (1745-1826), daughter of John Craven and Anne Swales, November 25, 1769 in Foxholes, North Yorkshire, England.
Children of John Shipley Sr. and Isabell Craven: 
  • Mary Catherine Shipley was born February 16, 1770 in Foxholes, North Yorkshire, England.
  • Ann Shipley was born October 25, 1772) in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England. She died July 4, 1790) in Foxholes, North Yorkshire, England.
  • Hannah Shipley was born May 5, 1775 in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England.
  • John Shipley Jr. was born August 7, 1778 in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England. He died May 17, 1821 in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England.
  • Elizabeth Shipley (April 3, 1784 in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England.
  • Jane Shipley (September 23, 1786 in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England. She married Mark Elvidge November 4, 1809 in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England.
  • Frances Shipley was born April 4, 1789 in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England.
  • William Shipley was born April 12, 1791 in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England. He died April 22, 1827 in Flamborough, East Yorkshire, England. 

According to records in the Struan family Bible:
  • Parlan Duncan Struan married Bonnie McCloud June 14, 1783 in Struan Kirk, Perthshire, Scotland. 
  • Bonnie McCloud died September 27, 1794 in Struan Kirk, Perthshire, Scotland. 
  • Parlan Duncan Struan married Mary Catherine Shipley, daughter of John Shipley Sr. and Isabell Craven, May 2, 1795 in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England. 

  • Dirk Lochlin Struan was born February 24, 1784 in Struan Kirk, Perthshire, Scotland.
  • He was the son of Parlan Duncan Struan and Bonnie McCloud-Struan.
  • Dirk Struan died July 21, 1841 in Honk Kong, China.

  • Robb Struan was born October 17, 1794 in Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, England.
  • He was the illegitimate son of Catherine Shipley.

Taken together, these two sources of information suggest that Catherine Shipley was the sister of John Shipley Jr. The very same John Shipley struck by mud and earth as the falling Wold Newton meteorite burrowed into the ground.

The Wold Newton Meteor
On December 13, 1795, at 3:00 pm, a meteorite plunged to earth. It landed near the English village of Wold Newton in Yorkshire. The impact site became part of the local folklore. The meteorite was named after The Wold Cottage, the house owned by Edward Topham, who was a poet, playwright, landowner, and local magistrate.

Magistrate Topham was instrumental to the Wold Cottage meteorite's role in promoting worldwide acceptance of the fact that some stones are not of this Earth. The Wold Cottage is still privately owned, and is currently the site of a micro-brewery where one can procure the local brew, Falling Stone Bitter. Pieces of the Wold Cottage Meteorite are held at the London Natural History Museum.

In 1799, Edward Topham erected a brick monument to commemorate the event.


Historical Accounts
History records several people observed the object in the sky. Topham's shepherd was within 150 yards of the impact and a farmhand, John Shipley, was so near that he was forcibly struck by mud and earth as the falling meteorite burrowed into the ground. John Shipley signed a deposition, published alongside a reprinted letter by Topham in the Gentleman's Magazine for July 1797, that "he was within eight or nine yards of the stone when it fell, saw it distinct seven or eight yards from the ground, and then strike into the earth, which flew up all about him, and which alarmed him very much."
[ Source Link ]

A contemporaneous account observes that:
"Several persons at Wold Cottage, in Yorkshire, Dec. 13, 1795, heard various noises in the air, like pistols, or distant guns at sea, felt two distinct concussions of the earth, and heard a hissing noise passing through the air; and a labouring man plainly saw (as we are told) that something was so passing, and beheld a stone, as it seemed at last, (about 10 yards, or 30 feet, distant from the ground), descending, and striking into the ground, which flew up all about him, and, in falling, sparks of fire seemed to fly from it. Afterwards he went to the place, in common with others who had witnessed part of the phaenomenon, and dug the stone up from the place where it was buried about 21 inches deep. It smelled, as is said, very strongly of sulphur when it was dug up, and was even warm, and smoked. It was said to be 30 inches in length, and 28 ½ in breadth, and it weighed 56lb." 
[ Remarks concerning Stones said to have fallen from the Clouds, Both in these Days and in ancient Times by Edward King. ]

Many historians fail to adequately record is the presence of other persons in the immediate vicinity at the time of the Wold Newton meteor strike. We know about these other people through the extraordinary and singular work of one historian. The historian was, of course, Philip José Farmer.

It has since been revealed, by researchers inspired by Farmer's original discoveries, there were several more persons present that fateful day, not named by Farmer.
Source Link ]

Placing Dirk Struan in Wold Newton
According to research:

1784 February
Dirk Lochlin Struan is born on a small farm in Struan Kirk, Perthshire, Scotland. He is the son of Parlan Duncan Struan and Bonnie McCloud-Struan.

1794 September
Death of Bonnie McCloud.

1795 May
Marriage of Parlan Struan and Catherine Shipley. Parlan adopts Catherine's son Robb. Lands belonging to the clan of Struan are purchased by the Earl of Struan. Preferring to live near her brothers and sisters, Catherine convinces Parlan to relocate the family to Wold Newton, England.

1795 December
A meteorite plunges to earth, landing near the English village of Wold Newton. This impact site becomes part of local folklore.

Conclusion
In consideration of all available information, I suggest:
  • The young Dirk Struan was working with his step-uncle, John Shipley, when the Wold Newton meteor fell to Earth.
Of course, I am unable conclusively prove such a conclusion. However for matters of law, in absence of evidence to the contrary, any claim that is not rebutted stands as true. That is a position I have adopted in similar matters. With that said, on with our investigation and as Farmer himself suggested "let the reader decide".

When this information is combined with information revealed in "Tai-Pan", "Gai-Jin", "Noble House" by James Clavell and "Hell Cat of Hong Kong" by Marc A. Cerasini & Charles Hoffman, we can build a chronology.

1784
February
Birth of Dirk Lochlin Struan.
He is the son of Parlan Duncan Struan and Bonnie McCloud-Struan. He is born on a small farm in Struan Kirk, Perthshire, Scotland.
1794
September
Death of Bonnie McCloud-Struan.

October
Birth of Robb Shipley.
He is the illegitimate son of Mary "Catherine" Shipley and an unidentified man.
1795
May
Marriage of Parlan Struan and Catherine Shipley.
Parlan adopts Catherine's son Robb. Lands belonging to the clan of Struan are purchased by the Earl of Struan. Preferring to live near her brothers and sisters, Catherine convinces Parlan to relocate the family to Wold Newton, England.
[ Secret History of the Noble House by Dixon Kinqade. ]

December
A meteorite plunges to earth, landing near the English village of Wold Newton. This impact site becomes part of local folklore.
1796
October
At the age of twelve, Dirk Struan begins his nautical adventures as a powder monkey on a King's ship of the Royal Navy at the battle of Trafalgar.

By the end of this Year
Dirk Struan finds service as a cabin boy on the East India Company merchant ship "Vagrant Star" to China. Under the command of Tyler Brock, Third Mate and future nemesis, Dirk Struan is whipped mercilessly. Dirk Struan vows to someday destroy Brock.
1798
On a fateful night in the Malacca Strait, the Vagrant Star runs aground on a reef and sinks. At the age of fourteen, Struan swims ashore and finds his way to Singapore. Later, Dirk Struan discovers that Tyler Brock survives as well.
1804
Dirk Struan is a Captain-Owner of his own ship on the opium run. Tyler Brock is his chief rival.

Marriage of Dirk Struan and Ronalda.
They are married in Scotland, but immediately leave for Macau.
1805
Birth of Chen Kai Sung.
She is the daughter of Jin Qua and his fifth wife.
1810
Dirk Struan and Tyler Brock dominate the opium trade.
[ Tai-Pan by James Clavell. ]
1820
Birth of Mei-Mei (Chen Chun Jin).
She is the daughter of Hau Qua and his fifth wife. Hau Qua is the first son of Jin Qua. Mei-Mei is the favorite granddaughter of Jin Qua. 
[ Noble House by James Clavell. ]
1823
Jin Qua arranges for Chen Kai Sung, his daughter by a fifth wife, to become Dirk Struan's mistress.
[ Tai-Pan by James Clavell. ] [ Noble House by James Clavell. ]
1824
Birth of Culum Struan.
He is the son of Dirk Struan and Ronalda. Shortly after his birth, Ronalda and Culum are sent to Glasgow. Ronalda will never return to China.

Birth of Gordon Chen (Chen Guo Dan).
He is the son of Dirk Struan and Chen Kai Sung.
1825
Birth of Tess Brock.
She is the daughter of Tyler Brock and Liza Brock. Her brothers are Gorth, Morgan, and Tom. Her sister is Elizabeth.
1826
January
The British East India Company decides to make an example of Struan and Brock. The Company withdraws their licenses and the two men are financially wiped out. Brock is left with his ship, Struan with nothing. Brock enters a secret agreement with another opium trader.

Dirk Struan sells Chen Kai Sung to Chen Sheng (Chen Chun Sheng). Chen Sheng is the first comprador of Struan & Company and nephew of Jin Qua (Chen Jin An). Chen Sheng takes Chen Kai Sung as his third wife.

Chen Guo Dan is adopted by Chen Sheng. Chen Guo Dan elects to take his adoptive father's family name of Chen. Gordon is the English mispronunciation of his Chinese name Guo Dan. Furthermore, Gordon Chen chooses to be "more Chinese than British".

Dirk Struan pilfers a lorcha from pirates in Macau. He becomes a clandestine opium smuggler for other China traders. He relentlessly confiscates more pirate ships. Using them to make dangerous illicit opium runs up the China coast, he makes even greater profits.
[ Tai-Pan by James Clavell. ]

By the end of this Year
Dirk Struan takes a new mistress.
1827
Birth of Ling Ju Hai.
[ Secret History of the Noble House by Dixon Kinqade. ]
1834
In England, free trade reform advocates succeed in ending the monopoly of the British East India Company under the Charter Act of the previous year. Finally, British trade opens to private entrepreneurs. With the freedom to legally trade, Dirk Struan and Tyler Brock became merchant princes. Their armed fleets expand and bitter rivalry hones their enmity even keener.
[ Tai-Pan by James Clavell. ]
1837
Jin Qua arranges for Mei-Mei (Chen Chun Jin), his favorite granddaughter, to become Dirk Struan's mistress. She's secretly assigned the task of teaching "the green-eyed devil" Struan civilized ways.
[ Tai-Pan by James Clavell. ] [ Noble House by James Clavell. ]
1838
Dirk Struan is considered the Tai Pan of all Tai Pan. Struan & Company is recognized as The Noble House. Business concerns of The Noble House include smuggling opium from India into China, trading spices and sugar from the Philippines, importing Chinese tea and silk into England, handling cargo papers, cargo insurance, renting of dockyard facilities and warehouse space, trade financing, and other numerous lines of business and trade.

The company possesses nineteen intercontinental clipper ships. A close rival, Brock & Sons Trading Company, possesses thirteen. Additionally, Struan & Company possesses hundreds of small ships and lorchas for upriver coastal smuggling.
1839
Gordon Chen is remarkably intelligent and a very skilled businessman. However, he longs for recognition from his biological father, Dirk Struan. Gordon Chen decides the most effective way to achieve this objective is to become indispensable to Dirk Struan and The Noble House.
[ Tai-Pan by James Clavell. ]

Ling Ju Hai is abducted.
She is rescued by Sir William Clayton.
[ The Devil Doctor: The Early History of Fu Manchu by Dennis E. Power. ] [ Secret History of the Noble House by Dixon Kinqade. ]
1840
May
Birth of Fu Manchu (Shan Ming Fu) .
Born on the 28th day of the fifth month in the year of the snake (Wednesday - May 28, 1840), he is the son of Sir William Clayton and Ling Ju Hai. His twin brother is named Shan Lan Fu. Primarily raised by his mother, Shan Ming Fu possesses two qualities frowned upon in Asian societies: illegitimate birth and mixed blood. Likely, these form the fundamental psychological roots of his animosity toward western society.
[ The precise month and day are speculation. It seems only appropriate that he was born under the astrological sign of Gemini - the twins. ]
1841
January - July
Events detailed in "Tai-Pan" unfold.
The Noble House is on the brink of financial collapse and about to be destroyed by rival Tyler Brock. In desperation and upon prompting by Mary Sinclair, Dirk Struan turns to Jin Qua. In exchange for a series of favours and promises, Dirk Struan receives a loan of "40 Lac" (approximately £1,000,000) in silver bullion from the Jin Qua.

The first part of the arrangement, Struan must agree to certain trade concessions. The second part of the arrangement, Struan must agree that a member of the Chen family would forever be comprador of Noble House. The third part of the arrangement, Struan must agree to sell Jin Qua a sizable plot of land in Hong Kong with the deed to be recorded in the name of Gordon Chen. The fourth part of the arrangement, Struan must agree to the "coin debt".

Four bronze coins are split in half. Four halves are given to Dirk Struan and the other four halves are kept by Jin Qua. Anyone who presents a half coin to the Tai-Pan of The Noble House must be granted whatever he asks, whether legal or illegal. All future Tai-Pan of The Noble House must swear to keep this bargain. This serves as repayment for the loan of silver.

Tess Brock and Culum Struan fall in love and are married. The couple condemn their fathers' hatred. Tyler Brock disowns his little Tess, a grudging act that has terrible consequences.

Due to the bargain struck between Dirk Struan and Jin Qua, Gordon Chen manages Jin Qua's financial interests in Hong Kong, investing in land and money lending. Gordon Chen seizes leadership of the Hong Kong Triads (Chinese: 三 合 會Pinyin: Sān Hé Huì). Partly due to assistance from his father and partly due to running protection rackets, Gordon Chen quickly becomes the wealthiest Chinese man in Hong Kong.

Gordon Chen conceals this information from his father. When his status as Dragon Head of the Triad is revealed, his position is nearly ruined. Fortunately, facts are dismissed as lies. Although, Dirk Struan is not entirely convinced.

As part of his efforts to protect his father, Gordon Chen arranges the assassination of Gorth Brock and seeks to acquire a cure for Mei-Mei's malaria. The first half-coin of Jin Qua is presented to Dirk Struan by the pirate warlord Wu Fang Choi.

Dirk Struan is killed in a typhoon. Culum Struan becomes the second Tai Pan of The Noble House. Gordon Chen begin's placing spies on Struan & Company's ships. Gordon Chen raises Duncan and Kate Struan, the children of Dirk Struan and Mei-Mei.
[ Tai-Pan by James Clavell. ] [ Noble House by James Clavell. ]
1850
December
The Taiping Rebellion begins.
1856
October
The Second Opium War begins.
1860
October
The Second Opium War ends.
1862
September
Events detailed in "Gai-Jin" unfold.
While Culum Struan is Tai Pan, Gordon Chen is named as second comprador of The Noble House, replacing his adoptive father Chen Chung Sheng. Gordon is known as Illustrious Chen for his great wealth and social status among the native Chinese people of Hong Kong.

Culum proves to be a weak Tai-Pan and his wife, Tess, is forced to take ever-increasing responsibility. Gordon Chen's spies are placed among the Chinese servants of important European officials in Japan.

Malcolm Struan, son of Culum Struan and Tess Struan, manages Struan & Company's interests in Japan. Upon Culum's death, he assumes the role of Tai Pan. His mother and Gordon Chen urge Malcolm to return to Hong Kong and formally become Tai Pan. However, Malcolm Struan is unable to travel due to an ambush by samurai, which nearly kills him and leaves him severely wounded.

In a series of letters from his mother and uncle Gordon, it's revealed that, on his deathbed, Culum officially passed the mantle of Tai Pan to Tess in complete accordance with Dirk Struan's "Legacy". As Tai Pan of The Noble House, Tess orders Malcolm to return to Hong Kong by Christmas or be removed from Struan & Company permanently, with the mantle of Tai Pan being handed to another.

December
Malcolm dies of an internal hemorrhage.
1863
January
As Tai Pan of The Noble House, Tess "The Hag" Struan orchestrates the destruction of her father, Tyler Brock. A penniless Tyler pirates a Chinese junk sailing north, screaming vows to rebuild his fortune and come back for the coveted title of "Noble House". He is never seen or heard from again.
[ Gai-Jin by James Clavell. ]
1864
July
The Taiping Rebellion ends.
1894
October
The second half-coin of Jin Qua is presented to Lochlin Struan, fifth Tai-Pan of The Noble House, by Chinese revolutionary Chiang Wu Tah. He requests The Noble House give sanctuary to Sun Yat-Sen and assist him to overthrow the Manchu Dynasty. This eventually leads to the Xinhai Revolution in 1911.
1911
October
The Xinhai Revolution begins.
Gordon Chen, second comprador of The Noble House and Fu Manchu's uncle, helps finance the Xinhai Revolution, led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen to establish the Republic of China.
[ Noble House by James Clavell. ]
1912
February
The Xinhai Revolution ends.
1913
Sometime this Year
Events detailed in "Hell Cat of Hong Kong" unfold.
Ho Yen's half-coin of Jin Qua is stolen by The White Tigress and her gang. Fu Manchu is contacted by his aunt, Tess "The Hag" Struan of The Noble House. She desires to employ the services of a Burmese Dacoit in order to eliminate the White Tigress. This attempt is unsuccessful.

John Gorman arrives as a merchant seaman in Hong Kong. A dispute with his ship's captain renders Gorman unemployed. He's soon recruited by the White Tigress, who makes Gorman both her chief lieutenant and her lover.

The Tigress and Gorman purloin a valuable report on Manchuria's mineral wealth. The Tigress intends to sell this report to the Japanese. A lover's quarrel causes Gorman to leave the Tigress' service.

Gorman is contacted by Tess "The Hag" Struan, matriarch of Struan & Company, the most powerful trading company in Hong Kong. Tess convinces Gorman the Tigress' plan to sell the Manchurian report to the Japanese will lead to war in the Far East. Gorman provides information which allows Tess to capture both the Tigress and the report.

Tess intends to give the Tigress to Ho Yen for punishment. However, Gorman still harbors affection for his former lover. Gorman obtains the half-coin of Jin Qua gives it to Tess in exchange for the Tigress' freedom.
[ Hell Cat of Hong Kong by Marc A. Cerasini & Charles Hoffman ] [ The Saga of John Gorman by Rick Lai. ]
1915
Gordon Chen, second comprador of The Noble House and Fu Manchu's uncle, is knighted and granted title of Sir Gordon Chen.
1917
Tess "The Hag" Struan, dies.
1963
August
Events detailed in "Noble House" unfold.
The third half-coin of Jin Qua is presented to Ian Dunross, tenth Tai-Pan of The Noble House, by Paul "Profitable" Choy, seventh son of Wu Sang Fang aka "Four Finger Wu".
[ Noble House by James Clavell. ]


According to this record, Tess "The Hag" Struan's position as third Tai Pan was consolidated with Culum Struan's as second Tai Pan.


Notes:
  • James Clavell's Dirk Struan was loosely based on William Jardine (February 24, 1784 - February 27, 1843). This is the source for Dirk Struan's month and day of birth. The year was determined from information revealed in the novel "Tai-Pan". 
  • Dirk Struan's biological mother was explicitly stated to be named McCloud in James Clavell's "Tai-Pan". 
  • Dirk Struan's "second mother" was explicitly stated to be named Catherine in James Clavell's "Tai-Pan". 
  • Robb Struan was explicitly stated to be Dirk Struan's step-brother in James Clavell's "Tai-Pan". 
  • It's explicitly stated that lands belonging to the clan of Struan were purchased by the Earl of Struan in James Clavell's "Tai-Pan". 
  • In a chronology of events, the second half of 1926 seems the most likely time for Dirk Struan to take an undocumented and temporary mistress, resulting in the birth of Ling Ju Hai the next year. 
  • The typhoon that destroyed much of Hong Kong and killed Dirk Struan was an actual historical event. It occurred on July 21, 1841. 
  • James Clavell's Gordon Chen was loosely based on Sir Robert Ho Tung Bosman, KBE JP (December 22, 1862 - April 26, 1956). This is the source for the date of Gordon Chen's knighthood.

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