Bonum Certa Men Certa

Sheriff of Cork & Debian Edward Brocklesby or Brockelsby Street confusion

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Jun 25, 2024,
updated Jun 26, 2024

Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock.

We've seen lots of rude comments about confusion between domain names and trademarks but what about the confusion between different permutations of the name Brocklesby / Brockelsby?

In my last blog, we looked at some of the most unique names in the Debian and FSFE world and I noted that it may be foolish for infiltrators to use names like this because every change they make in the code would attract extra scrutiny.

On the other hand, a name that looks very English and is easily confused like Brocklesby/Brockelsby would appear to be a far more subtle opportunity to obfuscate the real identity.

By coincidence, the office of the Sheriff of Cork, a city in Ireland was held by two men, Joseph Austin and Edward Brocklesby, in the year 1718. One of the sheriff's roles is that of returning officer, in other words, running the elections, counting the votes and declaring the winners. If the European Union had existed in the year 1718, Edward Brocklesby would have been responsible for counting all those enormous ballot papers in the Ireland South district for the European Parliament.

Five years later and Edward Brocklesby was elected mayor of Cork.

Genealogy sites suggest that Brocklesby died in America without specifying where or when.

According to reports William Dunlea, the tenor was born in Brocklesby Street, Cork:

When Bill Dunlea senior married his sweetheart, Clara Whooley, they were both 24 years old. The happy couple settled down at 10 Brocklesby Street, a narrow street on the verge of Blackpool in the Northside of Cork city. The street was named in honour of Edward Brocklesby, the Mayor of Cork in 1723.

They have used the more common spelling of the name. So far, so good.

Trying to find Brocklesby Street, Cork in OpenStreetMap is currently unsuccessful:

Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

Trying to find Brocklesby in the Eircode search site is also unsuccessful:

Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

Looking in Google Maps we find this:

Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

Looking at the same location in OpenStreetMap we can see it is called Brockelsby Street, the alternative spelling, instead. There is another issue: OpenStreetMap incorrectly extends Great William O'Brien Street into a part of Brocklesby / Brockelsby Street.

Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

Looking in the Eircode search site again we can now find some addresses in Brockelsby Street too:

Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

In the Eircode site search results, we can click the Map button and it takes us to a different map. On that map the original spelling is used again, Brocklesby:

Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

After observing this, I felt the only thing to do was to fact check the street in person on my next visit to Cork.

Here we can see the point where Brocklesby / Brockelsby Street begins. It is the small street going to the right. The street sign is for Great William O'Brien Street which goes to the left of the picture. There is no sign for Brocklesby / Brockelsby Street itself.

Great William O'Brien Street, Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

I walked to the other end of the street and there is no sign there either:

Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

Just inside the north end of the street, there is an ESB substation and they have a label on the door which says Brockelsby Street:

ESB, substation, Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

As I walked up and down the street, I noticed that residents are highly concerned about security. Every house has at least one surveillance camera and one of the houses had three cameras. They seem to be far more security conscious than the Debian cabal members who totally failed to recognized risks associated with Edward Brocklesby's packages.

Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

Brocklesby Street, Brockelsby Street, Blackpool, Cork

There are a couple of businesses in the street.

The web site for Green Rooms Cork is using the original spelling, Brocklesby St.

More significantly, there is a business called Donovan Access. The name reminded me of all the access rights that Edward J Brocklesby had acquired, including root access on servers and the passwords of other admins.

Donovan Access (web site), however, simply provides scaffolding to access elevated parts of buildings. Their web site uses the original spelling of the name, Brocklesby Street.

Here is a picture of the scaffolding on the Doughnut building, GCHQ headquarters, while it was under construction:

GCHQ, Doughnut, scaffolding, construction

To summarize:

When people engage in PGP keysigning for Debian and other communities, are they always going to notice whether the exact form of Brocklesby on an identity document matches the spelling used in the PGP fingerprint slip?

This is a feast for conspiracy theorists indeed.

Read more articles about the mysterious Edward Brocklesby & Debian affair.

Please see the chronological history of how the Debian harassment and abuse culture evolved.

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