Orbis non sufficit – Another Reason to love James Bond

Orbis non sufficit – Another Reason to love James Bond

After watching the newest installment of the James Bond series, Skyfall, I thought I’d inaugurate my first film review or comment on my blog.  I hope in the future to give video commentaries on recent and past films.  One thing that I found particularly pleasing in Skyfall was learning more about one of my favourite fictional hero’s back-story.

The title of the movie is taken from the name of the family estate in Scotland.  One scene, while under attack by a gang of henchmen led by one of the creepiest Bond villains ever, shows the family’s custodian showing them a “priest-hide” from the time of the Protestant Reformation.  This little tidbit suggests that the Bond family may have been recusant Catholics, perhaps Jacobites.

For those unfamiliar with what “recusant Catholic” means, it meant those who in opposition to the English Sovereign, refused to recant their Catholic faith and swear an oath to the monarch as head of the Church in England. Recusant Catholics remained loyal to the Church and often kept the faith alive by going underground.

Many Jesuit priests and faithful clergy were protected by Catholic families, particularly in the north and the countryside. Catholicism was essentially illegal in Britain until the 19th century.  Skyfall is the name of the Bond family manor, a gothic estate in the Scottish countryside.

The following is from a blog article written five years ago and includes some interesting information about our beloved Bond:

Commander Sir James Bond, KCMG, RNVR, was the fictional creation of British journalist Ian Fleming who portrays him as an officer of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, commonly known as MI6). He was created in January 1952 by Fleming while on holiday at his Jamaican estate, Goldeneye.

Fleming, a keen birdwatcher, had a copy of a book on ornithology at Goldeneye by an American named Bond. This partly gave him the idea. However, he already had the name in his mind because it was the name of a Dorset family whom he had known of when at school.

In the novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond’s family motto is found to be Orbis non sufficit (“The world is not enough”). In fact, however, there was another family called Bond who had their country seat in Dorset, only some miles from Durnford House, in Langton Matravers, the prep school where Fleming spent an unhappy few years of his childhood.  Their family motto was, indeed, Orbis non sufficit.

This being said – one of the family, John Bond, had been a spy for Sir Francis Drake in Elizabethan times.  A blacksheep?  My guess is a double-agent 🙂 (comment from Fr. Geoff)

William Bond, the current head of the family, had his ancestor’s journal transcribed after rediscovering it in the family archives. He says Fleming would certainly have been aware of the family and its unusual motto.  The Bonds of Dorset, despite having had a family member who spied for Drake, were Catholic recusants and, later, Jacobites.

Their country seat is Hulme Priory, Wareham, Dorset, an old Cluniac priory later turned into a country house and not too far from the Weld family at Lulworth Castle, another recusant and Jacobite family. They are also both not far from the Royal Armoured Corps Training Centre at Bovington outside Wareham and the Royal Armoured Corps Gunnery School at West Lulworth.

The fictional James Bond may thus have been based upon a Dorset Catholic family who supported King James II and VII and the Catholic Stuart dynasty.

There you have it, yet another reason for me to love the James Bond series!

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