Madge Darby, BA


Historian and Author

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Madge Darby photographed at her home in Wapping

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The view towards Wapping Old Stairs and the River Thames from Madge's window

Madge Darby and I first met at one of the Society's meetings in the late 1990s at the Union Jack Club, London. Her outstanding knowledge of the Bligh/Bounty subject was immediately evident to me; not just because she had already written a book, published in the 1960s, but in all the stuff she hadn't written about. This so intrigued me when our friendship developed over the years, and when we spent many, I would say 'happy if intensive' hours yarning about the archived records and their historical revelations at her home in Wapping High Street, London. Ironically her house overlooks the spot on the River Thames where Bounty once idled at anchor during the summer months of 1787.

Adjacent to her Regency house is a pub caled 'The Town of Ramsgate'. An alleyway between them leads to 'Wapping Old Stairs' where 18th Century people walked down some steps to climb aboard a ferry boat, man-oared to the opposite, or South Bank of the river. It would likely have been the pub (then called the 'Ramsgate Trader') where some of the Bounty's crew may have downed a few beers when on shore leave, as mariners always pick the nearest pub to where their ship is berthed.

Madge was a London-born girl through-and-through. She was a fountain of knowledge about her home city, maritime history and the South Seas which she visited just the once. Even at her grand old age of 91, amazingly she never needed reading glasses!

I shall miss her; may she rest in peace.

Maurice Bligh

Originally published in edition 58 (January 2019) of The Bounty

The photographs with this article are reproduced with kind permission of 'The Gentle Author' on whose Blog they first appeared in July 2012.