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Today I want to talk about Captain Thomas Maria Wingfield. When you write historical fiction, eventually you’re going to have to write about historical people. One way to write historical fiction is to minimize these characters, focusing on a historical event that your fictional character has to deal with. In the middle of the plot, you pepper the story with those historical characters, having them interact at certain plot points. This is what I have done with Captain Wingfield.
Captain Wingfield is a mercurial character. An Englishmen with family ties to the Irish government, history tells us that he took charge of the Royal Irish Army in Ulster. It also tells us that he had campaigned in Ireland for quite some time. We have much more information about his brother Edward Maria Wingfield. Edward fought in the Netherlands, fought in Ireland, was a Member of Parliament, and eventually was a leader of the London Virginia Company that started Jamestown. He worked with Captain John Smith and was eventually a rival. There is a very good chance that Thomas Maria Wingfield followed his brother from political position to political position.
Captain Thomas Wingfield plays the councilor and friend to my protagonist, Captain Philip Williams. He explains things to Philip, encourages him when things are down, and helps in other ways throughout the book. I won’t say too much about what happens to Wingfield, but he does play a pivotal role in the story at several times.
So, what happened to the captain? Well, we don’t know. I have read documents that said he served as a Member of Parliament around the end of the 16th century – which would place him in England after the events of the book. I have also read that he may have moved to Virginia with his brother, but the information is sketchy.
Does he survive Ulster in my book? You’ll have to read and find out.