I WAS flattered to be quoted by Maureen Street in her letter (‘More to Sir Mathew than meets the eye’, Craven Herald, September 16).

She refers to the statement in my book ‘Discover Grassington’ that Sir Mathew Wilson had a reputation as a rake and a ladies’ man when he became chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Railway at the age of 22. This was in 1897. The caption to the photograph accompanying the letter suggests that this is the same Sir Mathew depicted as a ‘lushly-sideburned luminary’ in the statue in Skipton High Street.

The once common practice of families using the same first name for the eldest son, generation after generation, is full of pitfalls for historians.

The statue in the High Street commemorates Sir Mathew Wilson, 1st Baronet and noted Liberal MP, and was controversially erected during his lifetime in 1888. His son was christened Mathew – and so was his grandson. It was his great-grandson, the fourth Sir Mathew, who was chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Railway for five turbulent years.

The next generation had as its youngest son Peter Cecil Wilson, who was to play a role in literary immortality. He worked in espionage during the second world when his MI6 code number must have struck a chord with fellow spy sleuth Ian Fleming. It was 007.

David Joy