This article was sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Jan 2018:
Ginger and Ginger haired people:
Over the summer of 2017, with some help from Jane Buckle, I catalogued the graves and cremation stones of St. Saviour’s Cemetery in Eddington.
I have written several articles about some of the “internees” based upon information from their monumental inscriptions. But the challenge of exploring the life of one resident was more difficult because of the meagre details carved on a piece of marble:
Happy Memories of Dear Ginger
Jane Buckle knew that he was a Franklin boy who died young, a brother of Gillie Franklin.
Some days later, while I was undergoing research at the graveyard, who should I spot but my long time drinking buddy from past days and fellow quiz team supremo, Gary Devlin, enjoying a lunch break in the tranquil settings. It was Gary, back in the early 80s who had introduced me to genealogy and he confirmed that Ginger was a “Franklin”. Co-incidentally, Ginger had also been his uncle. Ginger’s parents were Ernest (Ernie) A.G. Franklin and Lilian E Dibble.
So, the Franklin siblings were:
- Naomi Jean, b 1929 (known as Jean)
- Anthony G., b 1930 (known as Ginger)
- Graham N, b 1932
- Gwyneth H, b 1934 (known as Gwen)
- David G, b 1942 (known as Gillie)
- Glenys R, b 1947
What do we know about Ginger?
Ginger (Anthony G) was born on 30 Apr 1930 in Hungerford, had a healthy childhood and did his two years’ National Service serving with the Royal Air Force. He probably served from around 1947 to 1949. The National Service Act which came into being in 1947 meant it was compulsory for all healthy males born between 1927 and 1939 to serve “their country” for 18 months. In 1950, due to the Korean War, this period was extended to two years. Thankfully for many, its abolition was announced in 1958 although some conscripts were not demobbed until 1963.
During the period of conscription after WW2, over two million young men were called up. It is even said today in some quarters that it should be brought back to teach the youth of today conformity and respect for authority, although some argue that it would encourage resentment and insubordination.
After being demobbed, Ginger was offered a job in 1950 at James’s Mill in Church Street, where he taken ill. He was diagnosed as having polio and was admitted to the Abingdon Joint Isolation Hospital (later part of the Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospita) in Marcham Road, Abingdon for specialist treatment on Friday 8 Dec and died five days later at the tender age of 20. Prior to his admittance to hospital, young Ginger had never been ill.
What is polio?
Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease. It is caused by the polio virus which spreads from person to
person and can, in severe cases, invade an infected person's brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis with the loss of mobility of the limbs.
The polio virus is spread when the person comes into contact with the faeces of someone with the infection, or from the droplets launched into the air when the infected person coughs or sneezes.
It wasn’t until 1952 that Dr Jonas Salk developed the first effective vaccine against polio. Routine vaccinations began in the mid-1950s
and in 1961, Albert Sabin pioneered the more easily administered oral polio vaccine (OPV). This was effectively a dose of the vaccine on a
sugar lump, a combination that might just have inspired the Mary Poppins song, “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”!
The success of the polio vaccination programme meant that by 1988, this “childhood” disease had been completely eradicated in England,
alas too late for young Ginger Franklin.
Why was Anthony G Franklin nicknamed Ginger?
Not too surprisingly, Ginger was nicknamed because of the colour of his hair. I remember that Ginger’s sister, Naomi (Devlin) known as Jean had ginger hair and that his niece, Elizabeth (Devlin), was also a redhead. Gary mentioned that his son Zachary is also ginger-haired.
If you wonder why some people are born with ginger hair as in the case of the Franklin/Devlin line, the answer lies in the genes.
The Genetics of Red Hair
It was only in 1997 that the genetics of red hair became fully understood. Red hair appears in people who have two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16 which causes a mutation of the MC1R protein. This protein in turn then controls the amount of pheomelanin, the reddish pigment found in the hair. As the amount of pheomelanin can vary from person to person, so too can “gingerness” vary from burgundy to auburn to strawberry blonde.
To inherit the “ginger gene”, both parents must carry it and even then, there is just a one in four chance of their child turning out to be redheaded. The same gene is also responsible for skin complexion and eye colour in red-haired people, who are often fair-skinned with freckles, with light coloured eyes.
The occurrence of red hair in English people is around 1 to 2% but in Scotland and Ireland, it jumps to around 6% and 10%, respectively. If you have red or ginger hair coupled with a fair complexion and pale eye colour, the chances are that you are of Irish or Scottish descent. Of course, these days it is possible to discover more about your global ancestry using an affordable DNA genetic test.
- Anthony "Ginger" Franklin's memorial in St Saviour's churchyard, Oct 2017 (by Dr Jimmy Whittaker)