Meet A Forlorn Hope’s James Ellison

Please note this post contains SPOILERS for The Fitzgeralds of Dublin Series books one to three. If you haven’t read them yet, click/tap on the banner to catch up!

Fifty-eight year-old James Ellison is Will Fitzgerald‘s solicitor. James was in partnership with Ronald Henderson for thirty years until Ronald’s sudden death in late 1880. Unknown to James, Ronald was gay and died in a brothel in Dublin’s red light district known as Monto. James ensured that a scandal was averted and only scant details of Ronald’s death appeared in the newspapers. James’ eagerness to avert a scandal was not only out of respect for his friend and business partner but also because he was in love with Ronald’s widow, Martha, Isobel Fitzgerald’s mother.

James’ only son died aged fourteen of consumption and when his wife died, James expected to be alone for the rest of his life but when Ronald introduced him to Martha shortly before their marriage, James fell in love with her instantly despite knowing nothing could come of it. When Ronald died and Martha discovered he had married her solely for companionship, James had to put his feelings aside and assist her with the settlement of Ronald’s estate.

But James couldn’t keep away from Martha and Alfie Stevens, Isobel’s brother, noticed how often James was calling to number 55 Fitzwilliam Square. Realising James was courting her mother far too soon after Ronald’s death, Isobel went to James’ offices and asked him what his intentions were towards her mother. James told Isobel that he and her mother were in love, they would be extremely circumspect and when a year had passed since Ronald’s death, they would marry.

James and Martha married in December 1881 at St Peter’s Church and James moved into number 55. He continued to practise law alone from his offices on Westmoreland Street.

When Will and Isobel discovered Will’s father, John, had persuaded Fred Simpson’s childless widow, Margaret to enter into a marriage of convenience with Alfie’s former lover David Powell, it enraged them and they retaliated by denying John access to his three grandchildren.

When A Forlorn Hope begins, over a year has passed since the marriage and when John meets Will and Isobel in St Stephen’s Green, he threatens legal action if they continue to deny him access to young John, Ben and Belle. Will and Isobel ask James for assistance but will they want to hear, agree to and comply with his legal advice?

Dublin, Ireland, September 1883. The rift between the Fitzgeralds deepens when Will’s father threatens legal action to gain visiting rights to his three grandchildren. But Will, Isobel and John are brought unexpectedly together by Will’s mother when Sarah’s increasingly erratic behaviour spirals beyond their control.

Isobel is reunited with a ghost from her past unearthing memories she would rather have kept buried while the fragile marriage of convenience orchestrated by John becomes more and more brittle before it snaps with horrifying consequences.

Read an excerpt from Chapter One…

Will managed to swallow his anger at his father for most of the afternoon as he made house calls. Closing number 30’s front door at just before half past four, it rose again and he shook his head as Isobel came out of the morning room.

“Young John has made a friend and I may have made one, too,” she announced with a smile and kissed his lips.

“Oh?” he replied, hanging his hat on the stand and placing his medical bag on the hall table before following her into the morning room while she told him about the Pearsons. “Her husband lost an arm?”

“Yes. His right arm.”

“Where was he stationed with the army?”

“India, where he and Marianne got married, and then Egypt.”

“And they are moving into number 7. Well, well. I’m glad the house won’t be standing empty for much longer. What is Daniel like?”

“Small and blonde and I don’t think he had ever seen ducks before.”

Will smiled, hearing voices in the hall. “How was Mother?” he asked just as the door opened and Zaineb, one of their house-parlourmaids, showed a worried-looking James Ellison into the room.

“Gorman said you asked that I call and that it was a professional matter.”

“I’m afraid it is,” Will replied, nodding his thanks to Zaineb and the maid left the room. “Please sit down, James, and we’ll explain.”

He and Isobel sat on the huge reddish-brown leather sofa while James sat in one of the armchairs and listened intently while Will recounted the meeting with his father in St Stephen’s Green.

“And he said, ‘If you and Will continue to deny me that right, I shall have no choice but to speak with my solicitor,’” the solicitor clarified.

“Yes.” Will nodded.

“And did you reply?” James added.

“I told him not to dare threaten us. Then a few minutes later, Isobel saw him go into the offices of Hugo Blackwood & Son – Hugo Blackwood is his solicitor. James, does my father have a legal right to visit his grandchildren?”

“Well.” James sighed. “He is the children’s grandfather and you have been denying him access to them for over a year…”

“So what do you propose we do?”

“You and Isobel have two choices. The first is to grant your father visitation rights before he has the opportunity to take the matter any further. The second is to do nothing for now. Wait and see what your father does. His going into the offices of Hugo Blackwood & Son this morning could have been a bluff as he may just have been doing as you are doing now and seeking legal advice. The problem is that the longer he is denied access to the children, the more likely it is that he does instruct Hugo Blackwood to take legal action against you both.”

Explore my blog for more excerpts, character profiles and historical background information

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Amazon ASIN: B08JGX4TLP

Paperback ISBN: 9798688108330

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Photo credit: Portret van Jules Verne by Félix Nadar, c.1880 – c.1886, Rijksmuseum is in the Public Domain, CC0 1.0 / A derivative from the original work