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Biography of George Major

Minister to forgiveness ministries

George sitting on a car

When George asked me to do a biography for his web site I was both lost for words and honoured, in the years that I have known George he has always been ready to help anyone in need and apart from all the charity work he does as the Pearly King of Peckham. George Major was born in 1938, George's childhood found that he had to fend for himself and his two sisters, one sister of which was Violet, who is mentally handicapped. He was abandoned by his mother, who George has spent many years trying to find. Drawn into the Pearly Kings tradition from the age of seven, which George found out was in his mother's family. Raised by his abusive father and a terrifying maiden aunt that is documented in his first book "The Hidden Whistle and Flute, stich one", which describes how he fought back from a childhood of poverty, neglect and brutality and had to learn to live by his wits. When he was hungry he would pull down a fence and chop it up to make bundles of firewood to sell back to his neighbours, then use the money to take his two sisters to the café and buy food for them. His life was extraordinarily hard from the beginning his childhood draws inevitable comparison with the Charles Dickens story, but despite all that George became the most famous Pearly King carrying the banner of the Pearly Kings and Queens History both with pride and honour, dedicating most of his life for the good of its history. For it is said by many that he does more for the Pearly history than any other, to which most of his life has dedicated to helping others and the Pearly History.

George is a living testament of a man who has overcome extreme obstacles but is still determined to help others no matter what the odds. Long before David Jason from memorable TV comedy show "Only Fools and Horses" was immortalising as Dell Trotter. George was a well known character within the Peckham area, to where I came from. Famous for his scams many of which led him to be regularly hauled in front of the Magistrate for illegal trading. George also sold genuine London smog that went down a storm with the Americans in typical del boy style, he would fill half pint bottles with car fumes and cigarette smoke seal them then take them into the London streets to sell. There were cauliflowers that needed to be white washed before he could sell them and the one legged tights that needed a quick-witted sales patter. George was always the cheeky chappie with his quick-witted banter and showmanship in his full sparkling Pearly suit. George had used his gift from his young days to raise money for charities and as a true regaining Pearly King of Peckham has raised a lot of money over the last 60 years for charities and in turn helped change many peoples' lives forever.

There have been three women that have helped change George's life, first his mother who he spent a great deal of time looking for and to which he found out about his pearly history. Then there was Rosey Lea who was his father's girlfriend for a short time and who had introduced George to the markets at the age of four. Then there was Iris Thompson his neighbour who took a great interest in George. It was Iris who made George's first Pearly suit, in which began George's first contribution to the Pearly tradition. As Iris was determined for George to inherit his tradition despite having rheumatoid arthritis, she sat up all night sewing on hundreds of pearly buttons on his suit, to which George would visit his mentally handicapped sister Violet at the hospital where she resided. Wearing his spectacular pearl suit. People who passed him on the streets on his way would put money in his collecting tin, which he always carried with him. George could have kept the money for himself but despite being hungry and wretched poor he donated the money to his sister's hospital which became the first of many charities George would then go forward to help. George has taken his duties as Pearly King seriously and when challenged to help the homeless he insisted on living amongst them. He stayed day and night suffering the same hardships and getting to know the stories of how they had come to be in the gutter, which lasted for six weeks living with them. It's stories like that he will be telling you in his second book "The stolen whistle and flute, stitch two". He has had many sad and some humorous stories to tell during his reign as Pearly King of Peckham.

He will also tell o f the wars waged amongst the various pearly families from other districts as the vied they for position and influence, some of which George was very reluctant to be dragged into. George founded and set up the first Cockney Museum, to which I and my wife eagerly helped to bring George's dream closer to a reality for the Pearly history. Which when opened had over six thousand visitors in one week who showed great interest, which helped keep alive the Pearly story for future generations to come. Sadly, though the Cockney Museum had to be closed due to extreme conflicts of which at that time was documented through the media. George still has many old pearly suits and other regalia dating back to the 1860s. George is still determined to have a Cockney museum and not to let the story of the Pearly Kings and Queens be forgotten.

George has reformed with the Pearly Queen of Finsbury the original Pearly Kings and Queens back in 1969 in order to bring the old Pearlies together from by gone days, he also reformed the Pearly Kings and Queens Guild that was the very first club of the Pearlies that originated in 1902 but finished after the war. He was made life president in recognition of his work for all the Pearlies.

It is said that he is now the longest serving true Pearly King of his time. I have often seen George in action in his sparkling Pearly King suit. I have seen him walk into a hall full of sadness and lost hope, then fill it with the most overwhelming rays of sunshine and replace the shiniest glimmer of hope into many a lives. He has done so much for others yet seeks no praise or honour, George is and inspiring story of a man who has fought against many obstacles to serve others. I think both of George's books will be a revelation to many people, it gives a true insight of no matter what backgrounds we come from, what hardships we ever face in life, we can still help our fellow man. Long may we have our help George on this earth and for years to come God Bless....

Ray Donavan