A legitimate
window into the past

From: John Riseley, Harcourt Drive, Harrogate.

Y CHROMOSOME DNA testing tells us of a “non-paternity event” somewhere between Richard III (assuming not unreasonably that it is he) and what should have been his living agnates.

This discontinuity is unlikely to lie in any of the lines by which the Queen traces her descent from Edward III. Effective legitimacy is in any case derived from relationship to the most recent well-established king or queen, who is undoubtedly Elizabeth II. This and the combined prestige of monarchs later than the possible break rule out any relevance for the contemporary succession.

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But this is not to say that the mystery is without significance. Scientific testing of further medieval remains could tell us much that is of genuine interest, possibly even resolving some of the questions then violently disputed.

We know from the ethos of chivalry that those now dead wished (as many still do) for fame and lasting renown. It would be disingenuous to cite their “privacy” as an excuse to block investigations.

Many people who are ethnically British will be descended (by obscure paths) from great personalities of the Wars of the Roses and most have ancestors whose lives were taken by their quarrels. It would be churlish for those whose descent from them is recorded on vellum or paper to claim exclusive ownership of them or deny information on the descent of others which is written in DNA.

Career “civil libertarians” object to widespread DNA testing, including the risk that it may inadvertently reveal paternity. Other libertarians (including myself) would defend it on the same basis; that it upholds our right to know who we are.

From: Rev Barrie Williams, Chubb Hill Road, Whitby.

YOUR DNA experts (The Yorkshire Post, December 3) should really do their homework properly. Henry VIII and his sister Margaret (direct ancestress of our beloved Queen) had a far superior claim to the throne through their mother, Elizabeth of York, than the Lancaster-Beaufort line of their father Henry VII.

Succession to the English throne has never been by primogeniture alone. Treaties, Papal bulls and Acts of Parliament have all come into it.

Are they to be impugned too?

Debate needed
on councils’ role

From: Prof Paul Salveson MBE, Radcliffe Road, Golcar.

YOU are right to ask “what is the future role of councils?” (The Yorkshire Post, December 9). The cuts being imposed on local government are huge and will force a fundamental re-think about what local government is for. We need a debate which involves all sections of the community and not just the politicians and ask some challenging questions.

We need to ask whether the 1970s re-organisation which replaced smaller councils with strong identities with much larger authorities was the right solution. And if it was then, is it the best shape for local government now?

Germany combines highly effective regional governments with strong local democracy. Instead of meaningless bodies such as “Kirklees” would it not make more sense to have councils which reflect real identities, such as Huddersfield and Dewsbury within a Yorkshire region with its own devolved parliament?

If power and money were taken out of the centre and new, smaller local councils shared some “back office” functions, it would combine efficiency with greater democracy.

Standing up for
second homes

From: Dennis Whiteley, Chairman, Runswick Bay Association.

IN a recent column, GP Taylor wrote that “the buying of second homes should be banned”. This is redolent of an Arthur Scargill rant rather than the measured observations of a professional writer.

In the early 1900s, still within living memory, Runswick Bay was a hovel. A dead-end, down a one in four track with tiny, damp, two-room decrepit fishermen’s cottages without sewers or running water, clinging to the steep and slipping hillside. The population of fishermen and women were ground down by poverty and dreamed of moving to one of the new houses being built at Bank Top.

The opportunity to sell their cottage to one of the visiting holiday-makers or artists who were colonising the village in the summers was eagerly sought as a passport to a better life.

The slum clearance purge by town planners in the 1960s in Northern England saw many such cottages condemned and demolished as unfit for human habitation, with whole communities displaced to council estates and high- rise flats. Fortuitously Runswick Bay was declared a conservation area in 1974. Without the investment of second home owners happy to live for a few weeks of the year in these tiny and cramped cottages, this village may well have perished.

What we have is a vibrant, safe, compassionate and responsible community with many of its residents descended from the early colonists who preserved the village which now benefits the thousands who visit this delightful place and stay in the many cottages let-out to meet overheads.

Runswick’s second-home owners are predominantly Northerners who work hard for a living, pay full council tax on their cottages, spend generously within this community and add to its burgeoning success as a tourist attraction.