Introduction to the First Edition
I am both pleased and proud that this first volume of our series of Cree Booklets should be written by Hilary Cree.
Many readers, especially those with Cree connections, will have enjoyed The Cree Journals by Hilary's grandfather, Dr Edward H Cree, a man who combined his work as a Surgeon in the Royal Navy, with a rare talent as a diarist and accomplished watercolourist. He also had the good fortune (or is it simply ours in hindsight?) to be where the action was, at a time when Britain's sea power was at its zenith. The Chinese Opium Wars of the 1840s, pacifying the Borneo pirates, the War with Russia in the Baltic in 1854 and in the Crimea in 1855.
The biographical notes in Michael Levien's excellent Introduction to the Journals led me to seek links with other branches of Crees, and eventually to visit Hilary and Joan Cree in Devon. Here I was most hospitably received, and invited to rummage through the family papers. What I found, and what Hilary had modestly not told me about, was this almost complete account of his family history researches. He had started these in earnest around 1979, probably while Michael Levien was editing The Cree Journals. The writing up was done mainly around 1985, to be set aside when illness robbed Hilary of his eyesight.
I have tried to restrict editing to a minimum in order to preserve the continuity of style of Hilary's original text. Recent researches have unearthed new information however, and this has been inserted where it is relevant. Editorial insertions are shown in square brackets. The order of the original material has been changed slightly to produce a more logical arrangement. The charts are my own, based on Hilary's manuscript outlines, but with more detail. The reader is urged to refer to the charts, as with any genealogical work, at the first onset of any confusion!
For illustration it was natural to turn to the paintings of E H Cree. The choice has been based not only on relevance to the text, but also on suitability for reproduction in monochrome.
The original diaries of E H Cree, of which the Journals are but a small part, are now deposited in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.
Hilary Cree has produced an excellent family history with just the right blend of anecdote, lively biographical narrative, and sound genealogical research. I hope that it will give pleasure to many readers, of present and future generations, and will encourage some of them at least, to investigate and set down in writing the history of their family.
Note to the Second Edition
Brigadier Gerald Hilary Cree CBE, DSO died on 21st August 1998 at the age of 93. A lengthy obituary appeared in The Times of 25th August 1998. I am pleased to be able to publish this electronic edition of his family history.
MS 15th August 2004