Copyright 2008 by Prof M W Thring’s executors.
All rights reserved.
4 Sarah Jenkyns - my father’s great grandmother
58 Dorothy Wooldridge - my father’s mother
84 Margaret Sullivan – my mother’s mother
99 Map of Wiltshire localities featuring in the life of Lydia Meredith
100 Family tree for my father’s family
101 Family tree for my mother’s family
102 Time line for my mother’s family
103 Time line for my father’s family
This has been a labour of love. No – that’s only half true; labour implies some misery and it has been pure enjoyment. The love has been in the fascination with relating the lives of my ancestors to the happenings of their times. Trying to discover the individual habits, foibles and characteristics of my forebears has also been a great interest.
It all started from a vague curiosity. I realized that although we had numerous facts about the men in my father’s family we knew next to nothing about the women. On my mother’s side we knew nothing of either the men or the women. By the time I was aged seven, three of my four grand parents were dead, and in fact the only one I knew well died when I was 11. This grandmother was, I realized later, strangely reticent about her childhood and upbringing. So I missed out completely on the grandparent-grandchild conversation along the lines of “what did you do when you were a little girl/boy”?
As a woman writing primarily for myself and for the, as it happens, all female next generation I decided to explore the lives of the women and fit the men around them in a reversal of the usual mapping of family history. However I hope that my grandchildren will find it of interest when they are adult.
With the great help of a friend, to whom very many thanks, one of the prime sources for family information has been the Victorian census; collected every decade from 1841. Discussion with my uncle and with my father’s cousins has been fascinating and profitable and my thanks go to them too. Googling of family names has also been very fruitful. On my father’s side of the family, because there were hoarders in several generations, a large number of letters, photographs, books, newspaper cuttings and other interesting paper work have survived. I have thus had enough evidence to make informed guesses at the personalities and characteristics of some of my Victorian relatives. However on my mother’s side of the family there are just names and dates with no hint as to their characters and interests.
In an appendix are two simplified family trees and two time lines to try to relate consecutive family and historical events. There is also one map. At the beginning of each section are lists of important dates, which include details of the relevant siblings and offspring.
have only two grandmothers, so the title “Victorian Grandmothers” refers also
to two great-grandmothers, and because we have information about her, one
great-great-grandmother. All these women
were born, or lived most of their lives, in
SARAH JENKYNS - MY FATHER’S GREAT GRANDMOTHER
IMPORTANT DATES IN THE LIFE OF SARAH JENKYNS
Her father was
Reverend J Jenkyns, vicar of Evercreech in
She was born in 1790
Her elder sister married Dr Thomas Gaisford, Dean of Christ Church.
She was the second daughter.
One brother, Richard, was Master of Balliol and Dean of Wells.
brother was Fellow of Oriel, Canon of Durham and Professor of Divinity at
She married John Gale Dalton Thring (born 1784) on 1st October 1811 at Evercreech Somerset
Their children were:
Theresa born 18th July 1815
Theodore born August 1816
Henry born November 1818
Edward born 1821
Godfrey born 25th March 1823
John Charles born 11th June 1824
She died on 16th September 1891
This is the only one of my eight great great grandmothers about whose lives I have any information. Amazingly this obituary from the Mother’s Union Journal of January 1892 survives. I don’t know Sarah’s relationship to the author. Her brother Richard was a reverend gentleman and master of an Oxford college so was probably not allowed to marry by his college; her other brother may have had children when he went from being a fellow of Oriel College Oxford to Durham University, where the dons were allowed to marry. The obituary may have been written by one of his descendants.
A REMARKABLE MOTHER
September the death took place of Sarah Thring, aged 101
years, widow of Rev. John Gale Thring, rector and squire of Alford,
She was the
second daughter of the Rev. J Jenkyns, vicar of Evercreech. Her brother, Rev. Dr R Jenkyns, was Master of
Balliol and Dean of Wells, and another brother, Rev. Dr H Jenkyns, was Fellow
of Oriel, Canon of
Mrs Thring’s sons were no less distinguished than her brothers. Edward, the beloved late headmaster of Uppingham School, made that celebrated school what it is; Henry, now Lord Thring, was a distinguished Parliamentary Counsel of the Government, and his mother lived to see him made a KCB and a peer; Godfrey, prebendary of Wells and rector of Hornblotton, is the author of many well-known hymns, among them “Saviour, blessed Saviour,” and “Fierce rage the tempest o’er the deep,” and he also compiled “The Church of England Hymnbook”. With him his mother lived at Hornblotton since the death of her husband, who lived to the age of ninety.
son, Theodore, was a county magistrate for
It was a most touching sight to see the two graves side by side, lined with moss and flowers, and the two coffins quite covered with beautiful wreaths, and the three surviving sons with their grey hair, looking like a past generation themselves. Out of her twenty-nine grandchildren twelve were present, five of whom were Theodore’s sons, and, with another grandson, carried their father to the grave.
It is remarkable that Mrs Thring spent her whole life almost in one spot: her childhood at Evercreech, her married life at Alford, and her widowhood at Hornblotton, all within five miles of each other. Her long life was one of usefulness and happiness, the greater part of it being spent at Alford.
She travelled very little, and rather despised “change of air;” but that did not prevent her from taking a keen interest in all that was going on in the world. Perhaps the most remarkable traits in her character, retained to the last, were her meekness under provocation, her intense sympathy with the suffering of distressed in mind or body, and her very strong sense of duty. If she saw it was her duty to do or bear anything, it never occurred to her whether it was agreeable or not; it was done, or borne, as a matter of course.
Up to the age of ninety-three she was in good health, and though since then she was a complete invalid, her strong constitution was shown by her surviving five paralytic strokes (the last of which deprived her of speech) and several bad illnesses, such as congestion of the lungs, bronchitis, etc. Those who nursed her during those last years were attached to her, so that it was a pleasure to do anything for her. She seemed to be a mother to them all, and was so good and patient, besides being cheerful and full of fun.
This cheerfulness was a matter of principal with her. She said once, “I have tried all my life to be cheerful, and now I am reaping the benefit”. There were no dismal, long faces in her room. It was the centre of interest in the house, and she enjoyed hearing what went on in the outside world. The Hornblotton choir will never forget how she liked them to come up to her room and sing the Christmas carols, and how she shook hands with them all afterwards.
She has left a blank that can never be filled; but for her own sake we can rejoice that after waiting so long she has gone home to the “rest that remaineth for the people of God”.
SARAH’S BROTHER RICHARD JENKYNS
Jenkyns was master of Balliol College Oxford from 1819 to 1854. Benjamin Jowett, his successor as master,
described Richard in 1888 as “short of stature and very neat in his
appearance; the deficiency of height was more than compensated by a superfluity
of magisterial or ecclesiastical dignity.
He was much respected, and his great services to the College have always
been acknowledged”. He was
apparently no great scholar but he was a shrewd organizer and good judge of men
and had an inflexible view of what was right.
In his last years as Master he instituted an ambitious rebuilding
programme and his obituary in the Times said that “He found Balliol a close
college among the least distinguished collegiate bodies at
The obituary makes Sarah sound almost too good to be true; however there is other evidence concerning her character. In a book about the life of Sarah’s third son, Edward Thring, Parkin describes the family background of the young Edward (and therefore of the other siblings). He also touches on the characters of their mother, Sarah Jenkyns, and their father John Gale Dalton Thring. Parkin tells us that one of her sons said that: “Mother’s idea, too, was that everything should be sacrificed to work and duty” Parkin goes on: “He [i.e. Edward] never spoke of his mother without a tender dropping of his voice, which made one feel that all that sweetness and tender sympathy which was so marked a characteristic of him was an inheritance from her’”.
Later Parkin says: “Once when asked for recollections of Edward’s earliest years, his mother said that he ‘never seemed so happy as when he was lying on his face on the floor reading’. A neighbour used to relate that, making a call one day at Alford, she discovered the lad, then six or seven years old, thus disposed in the library, and completely absorbed in a huge volume of Indian history. The visitor remarked to Mrs. Thring that it seemed a mistake to let the boy read a book so much beyond his years. The mother’s reply was that no book which awakened such deep interest could be considered beyond a child’s years.” Sarah’s reply to her visitor’s criticism seems wonderfully broad-minded for Victorian times. There have been avid “bookworms” in later generations of the family as well, including me.
Parkin concludes “Those who knew her in middle life remember in her a rare combination of mental activity and of Christian character at once gentle and firm. To those who saw her in her later years she presented a wonderful picture of a happy and interesting old age. Till long past ninety she retained her faculties almost unimpaired; her hand-writing was as firm and clear as in middle age; her memory keen and retentive; her literary interest scarcely diminished.” Even when one has discounted the Victorian sentimentality and high moral tone she still sounds a remarkably pleasant, interesting and sensible woman.
Another book about Edward Thring is mostly a summary of the information contained in Parkin, however some of the paragraph concerning Sarah is worth quoting:
“No biography of Mrs Thring has been written and we only know of her from the tributes of her friends and her children, but the picture which these give is one of extraordinary charm. To begin with, she was a woman of strong mental power with a clear, penetrating mind and a sense of duty as definite as her husband’s but with a gaiety and humour in addition which he does not seem to have possessed. This gaiety and sense of fun she shared to the full with her children, entering deeply into the joys and adventures of their second world (i.e. their outdoor life) and reinforcing them, by the strength of her character, in their struggles with the first (i.e. their relationship with their father). She gave them, moreover, the deepest and tenderest parental love without the least trace of spoiling or softness – a combination, one may guess, as rare in those days as it is in these. Finally, she was deeply and serenely religious. Had the boys’ notion of religion been taken solely from the example of their father, worthy man as he was, they might well have dismissed it when they grew older as something detached from real life, but their mother made it quite impossible for them to take any such view. For their father they felt affection and respect, mingled with fear, but their mother they adored…”
JOHN GALE DALTON THRING
According to the family tree drawn up by a Thring in Victorian times John Gale Dalton, Sarah’s husband, had one sister but no other siblings. A note on the tree has some interesting facts about his parents:
morning August 24th 1782, was married at St Edmund’s church
has observations concerning the character of John Gale Dalton Thring: “But the respective influences of father
and mother were in strong contrast. It
was said by a keen and competent observer of men who knew John Gale Dalton
Thring intimately, that he applied to the small details of family and parish
government, abilities which might have made him a great statesman or a great
general. His own early desire had been
to enter the army, but he took orders in deference to the strong wish of his
mother. The duties thus assumed were
not, perhaps entirely congenial to him, but they were discharged with
conscientious care and fidelity”. I guess that
as he was her only son
was small, however, and the work light, leaving time for other things. He was a magistrate for the county as well as
rector of the parish. He managed his own
considerable estate. He had the fondness
of English country gentlemen for outdoor life, and was known as the best and
boldest rider in the
School, where he received his early training, and St. John’s College,
Cambridge, where he was at the head of one “side”,
when Lord Palmerston was at the head of the other, had made him a sound and
polished scholar. His two elder sons
received from him the whole of their preliminary training for Eton and
John Gale Dalton Thring (date unknown)
If his teaching was sound his rule was rigid. He was a man of strong and unbending will, and none had better reason to know this than his own family. His domestic government was not merely strict – it was autocratic and exacting.
‘The fact that the Thrings as boys and young men did not revolt against their father’s arbitrary interference with the details of their daily life always seemed to me a striking proof of the depth and sincerity of their Christianity’, was said by an intimate friend and relative who saw much of the home life at Alford in the early days. ‘Just, but hard’ is the description given by another”.
Parkin quotes an entry from Edward Thring’s diary dated December 14th 1874. It reads thus:
“A solemn epoch. My dear old father passed away on Friday last, December 11th. My dear old father, how thankful I am to have had a brave good man as my father according to his lights! I thank God for him. And my dear, dear mother – O may God keep her and comfort her; sixty-three years married, and for the last fourteen or fifteen all her daily work and thoughts centred on him, and he is gone. But a more saintly woman in practice and faith I believe cannot be found. God does and will support her with His holy comfort”. I wonder if there is any veiled meaning behind “according to his lights”. By all accounts, including his own, Edward had a fairly miserable time when he was sent away to a very unpleasant boarding school at a young age, and Parkin makes John Gale Dalton Thring sound like a bully.
I can’t help thinking that although she lived in great comfort Sarah must have had a somewhat tempestuous life, with an autocratic husband and five robust sons. Interestingly I have seen no mention in Parkin of the two daughters listed on the family tree, Theresa and Elizabeth. Neither died young. Theresa married Augustus Fitzgerald and lived to the age of 52 and Elizabeth, who was unmarried, lived to the age of 40. Possibly Parkin discounted them as being of too little interest to mention.
where Sarah and John Gale Dalton Thring brought up their five sons and two
daughters, is in a small village 2 miles west of Castle Cary in
Parkin mentions life in the village:
“The village contained only a small farming population, and in the life at Alford there was something of that isolation which not unfrequently makes for individuality of character in those brought up subject to its influences. But as the five brothers of the family were not widely separated in age, there was within the home itself abundant material for a cheerful boy life”.
“Other companionship was not entirely wanting. The most intimate holiday playmates of the boys were their cousins of the Hobhouse family, whose seat, Hadspen, is but a few miles distant from Alford. The relations between the two families seem to have been particularly affectionate and intimate. One of the Hadspen family remarks in a note: “I have always reckoned on all Thrings as steadily as brothers, and I never found them fail yet.”
THE LIVES AND CAREERS OF SARAH’S CHILDREN
THERESA married Archdeacon Fitzgerald and had 2 daughters and 2 sons.
THEODORE took over from his father as squire and was also a county
A version of Henry’s career was published in conjunction with a cartoon by ‘Spy’ in Vanity Fair on June 29th 1893. It is entitled “Statesmen Number 615 Lord Thring” and I wonder what he thought of it when he read that he had been “warped into detailed narrowness”.
“He is the second of five sons born to the late Reverend John Gale Dalton Thring, of Alford House in Somerset; of whom three became parsons, one Edward, now dead, was the excellent and popular headmaster of Uppingham school, and himself, Henry, after being grounded at Shrewsbury School, went to Magdalen College Cambridge, got third place in the classical Tripos and became fourteenth Junior Optime and a fellow of his college. Having achieved so much and being still most industriously inclined he went to the bar with qualities and luck that together some three-and thirty years ago improved him into Counsel to the Home Office. Eight years later he rose to be Parliamentary Counsel; after which, as a matter of course, he was honoured with a KCB, and on retiring from Office seven years back, he was very naturally offered a peerage, which he accepted as a slight part of the reward to which his years of service had entitled him from a grateful country.
He has now lived through three quarters of a century; but he found himself in the House of Lords too late to cut the figure that he might there have cut as a younger man. For he had been warped into detailed narrowness by a long life of drudgery spent in the unwholesome drafting of parliamentary documents such as would have made musty the talents of a better man. Yet has he written much outside the routine work of his Office. Among other Bills he drafted the Joint Stock Companies Acts of 1856, 1857, and 1858, the Joint Stock Banking Companies Act f 1857, and the consolidation of those acts by the Companies Act of 1862; whereby he became, as he thought, qualified to contrive that work on ”the law and practice of Joint Stock and Other Companies,” which still, ‘though much edited, bears his name; in which he explained to those concerned how the principle of Limited Liability was meant to work. He has also written on the Succession Duty Act, and on “Practical Open Legislation”; of the clerical parts of which at least he should know as much as any man.
He lives at Egham and he is a
I found another reference to Henry’s work when searching the Internet. In 1851 a pamphlet was published entitled The Supremacy of Great Britain Not Inconsistent with Self-Government for the Colonies. The explanation accompanying this entry reads: “Published on behalf of the Society for the Reform of Colonial Government, this pamphlet discusses the Colonial Bill proposed by Sir William Molesworth. Thring was the Parliament Counsel. Considered one of Parliament’s greatest legislative draftsmen, he had a formidable knowledge of English law and government. He was the author of many books and articles of law and procedure. Many of these, such as his treatises on military law, were important works that went through several editions.”
Three letters Henry Thring wrote to his niece Nona Thring, one of John Charles’ daughters, have survived. Nona went to Newnham College Cambridge to read mathematics in 1891 so the first two must have been written when she was still at school. The story of her life as far as I know it is in the section about her mother, Lydia Meredith. The letters are all on beautiful paper with a very fancy embossed red coronet above a capital T. They read as follows:
January 19th 1889
5 Queen’s Gate Gardens S W
heard with the greatest satisfaction of your success in your examinations- it
shows how steadily and ably you have availed yourself of the opportunities of
learning afforded to you. The greatest
pleasure I think I ever experienced was the receipt of the news that I had
taken a good degree at
Your affectionate old Uncle
Tell your father that I thank him for his letter and will answer it (illegible)
August 12th 1890
We are extremely pleased to hear of your great success in your examinations. It shows not only that you are possessed of the requisite ability to get on in the world but what in my judgement is of still more consequence, of energy, perseverance and force of character – The greatest pleasure I have ever felt in life was the satisfaction of (illegible) a high degree at Cambridge. I began then to feel that I should be able to stand upright on my own legs and make my way for myself – I have little doubt that you think now much as I did then. No doubt you like me will have a sharp struggle and many disappointments but perseverance overcomes everything – and I have little doubt that should life and strength be given to you – you will be a successful and what is still better a useful good woman.
Your affectionate Uncle
June 12th 1895
Of all the honours I have gained in life the one that gave me the greatest pleasure was the attainment of a first class in the Classical Tripos in the year 1841. It came at the opening of my career and seemed to spur me that if I worked hard I might consider that I had ability enough to do what any other man might reasonably expect to achieve. You may imagine then how heartily I congratulate you on your success in becoming a wrangler – You have broken the spell which appeared to hang over our family none of whom except yourself have shown any aptitude for mathematics and I hope and believe that should God grant you health you have a just expectation of a happy and successful life – It is pleasant to think how many doors are now open to a woman in ?literature, teaching in colleges and other vocations which were entirely closed to her when I was young so that a University Honour is not only a great distinction but a substantial benefit – That you may be good successful and happy is the earnest wish of your affectionate Uncle
I can’t help thinking naughtily that these letters make Henry sound somewhat pompous. The reference to being a “useful and good woman” in the second letter is very interesting. I have read that the Victorians put “goodness” as a quality in a person’s character very much higher than “cleverness” – and particularly for a woman. To give Henry credit he does seem to be genuinely pleased with, and proud of, her success. I like the reference to the family non-aptitude for mathematics, which luckily didn’t seem to hold true for subsequent generations of Thrings.
Henry had two
daughters. I can remember being taken to
have tea with one of them in a grand and gloomy
EDWARD was educated at Eton and in later life wrote to his brother Godfrey that “The grind of the schooldays at Eton had much in them that was exceedingly repressive, and whilst I give unabated thanks for the power of working against odds that my early training gave me, I lost a freshness and spring of imagination that has never come back”.
In addition to Parkin’s Life and Letters of Edward Thring I have a memoir of Edward written by a former pupil, and subsequently a teacher at Uppingham, who therefore knew Edward from two perspectives. His initial inscription reads: “I dedicate this memory of our master to those many who praise in silence him who taught them the worth of life”.
Chapter IV is entitled “The Hero as Schoolmaster” with subheadings “The Man – The Leader –The Hero”. In 16 extra-ordinarily flowery Victorian–style pages he gives us an insight into Edward as a man. They can be summarised as follows: Edward was genial and humorous but “altogether, in his sociality there was too much force for general pleasantness”; I’m not sure I like the sound of this! He was short and stocky. He had been an athlete and was “always in hard fighting condition”. He excelled at fives, and was still playing in his fifties, and was also keen on playing football and cricket. He was extremely energetic - “energy seemed to us the very soul of him”. When he spoke to the boys he inspired them and they “believed him to be a hero”. “He treated everything as if it mattered supremely”. “He appeared to have a genius for being unworldly”. “Last, at least in my memories of these times, he invented a smoke–consuming fire-grate, patented it and warmed his study with it: an earthenware eggshell of a thing, swinging on a pivot”. This is a fascinating detail because my father, his great nephew, also invented and patented a smoke-consuming fire-grate, probably with as little success. Skrine concludes by describing Edward giving a sermon “with rarely a movement except to turn the leaves; there was only the firm-outlined figure, energetic in stillness; the voice charged with steady passion, the eye which wonderfully took fire with the voice, and without grace of feature, lit up the stern face into beauty: only a man of faith, speaking of things he knew.”
Photograph of Edward Thring from his “Life and Letters”
An oft-quoted Victorian maxim is “spare the rod and spoil the child” and all public school headmasters at this time were “floggers”. Another book, quotes the following story:
“…He discovered a proposed game posted on the boards as: THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN FLOGGED BY MR THRING V. THOSE WHO HAVE NOT. ‘Ha!’ he said, as he ran his pencil down the list, ‘if that game takes place, all the players will be on the same side’.” However Skrine approves of his methods of discipline and says: “it was only a miserable percentage of them who had a first-hand experience of the beneficent whip. Its exercise was guarded too by strict limitations”. The author tells us that flogging was administered only by the headmaster and in public and also that “his laws were few; they were easy to keep; and there were plenty of things to do which were more amusing than breaking them”. In fact “there was room for all of us on our playing grounds, and the games were organized to include everyone, and not only the cricket or football worthies”. Edward also introduced carpentry and music lessons. The author states, “Another most powerful instrument of discipline was the extension through the school of self-government “. “What Thring did of his own was to make not the sixth form responsible for the society, but the whole society responsible for itself”. One final quote from this memoir on discipline: “but if his severity and justice made discipline inevitable, it was another quality which commended it to us. Among the secret springs of discipline was his tenderness”.
wrote and published many books including the Theory and Practice of Teaching
and Sermons preached at
Edward Thring died suddenly at the age of 66 while still working as head master. While building up the school he had had many worries concerning debt, which may have taken their toll on his health. He had 2 sons and 3 daughters.
Family legend passed down to us by our Great Uncle Ernie, who was Sarah’s youngest grandchild, told us that one of Edward’s sons married a bar maid and that Edward never talked to him again. How true this is I do not know but it certainly seems very Victorian.
Godfrey was first his father’s curate and later became rector. He resided in the vicarage at Hornblotton, which his father had built for him in 1867. He finally married at the age of 47 and he and his wife supervised the building of a simple and beautiful new church at Hornblotton. His bride was aged 38 and they had only one child, a son.
Godfrey was a prolific hymn writer and also edited published collections of hymns. When I started primary school we used a hymnbook, which contained several hymns by Godfrey Thring, and I used to feel a great sense of family pride whenever I saw his name. Godfrey was also an inventor and very forward thinking. He influenced his father to have a hydroelectric generator installed at Alford using the water of the local river. Later a paraffin engine was added to provide electricity when the water flow was low. He installed the “first electric turret clock in the kingdom made with a striking apparatus” in the new Hornblotton church. He invented a stile for walkers, which was easy to negotiate, could not be left open, and was proof against cattle and sheep.
He retired in 1893 at the age of 70 and died in 1903.
As for JOHN CHARLES, Sarah’s youngest child, his story is in the section concerning Lydia Meredith.
IMPORTANT DATES IN THE LIFE OF
Her mother was Lydia Eliza Dyer born 1796
Her father was Samuel Meredith born 5th August 1794
Their marriage date is not known
Her older sister was Mary de Saumary Meredith born May 21st 1826
She was born 4th August 1830
She married John Charles Thring (born 1824) on 18th May 1858
Their children were:
Lydia Marian Ethel born April 18th 1859 at Uppingham
Godmothers: Mary Meredith, Eliza Marian Thring. Godfathers: Edward Thring, Hugh Dyer.
Charles Henry Meredith born January 21st 1861 Uppingham
Godmothers: Lucy Merryman, Mary D S Meredith. Godfathers Henry Thring, Charles Hoskins
Lionel Charles Reginald born September 5th 1862 Uppingham
Godfathers: Godfrey Thring, John Baverstock
Godmother: Anna Eliot
On the 4th December 1863 - a boy stillborn (from a fall)
Godfather: John Medland Dyer
Godmothers: Mabel Sarah Fitzgerald, Mary Bell
Llewellyn Charles Waldron born July 11th
1866 at the Chantry Bradford on
Godfathers Henry Stilwell, Andrew B........... Star........ Godmother: Mary Agnes Roche
Theresa Anne Lydia born November 22nd 1867 at the Chantry
Constance Starky, Clara Wayte. Godfather
Thomas Guy Barlow
Godmothers: Caroline Crabbe, Laura Roche. Godfather: Theodore Thring.
Walter Hugh Charles Samuel Born May 30th 1873 The Chantry
Godmother Ellen Whinfield Godfathers: Francis Baldwin Leighton, Francis H Du Boulay.
Ernest Walsham Charles born Feb 22nd 1875 The Chantry
Godmothers: Arabella Dyer, Ella Jane Robinson. Godfathers: Ernest A Fuller, Wm. Walsham How.
The life must have been rough. I have heard him say that as a middy, his dinner table was often an upturned bucket. He must have made himself liked by the men, as he told me once, that on first going ashore to India, an old sailor said to him ‘if you wants some money, Master Sam, I’ve got some in old stockings and I don’t want it; you can have it’. There had been much prize money taken by the ship’s crew, and some of the crew of the Captain’s gig had pierced guineas as buttons on their jackets. It was five years before my father came back to England.”
Meredith’s mother, who was Lydia Dyer before she married Samuel, was the “eldest
daughter by the second wife of John S. Dyer, Chief Clerk (as it was then
called) of the Admiralty
hideously confusing to have mother and daughter
Dyer married Samuel Meredith, Samuel “was a lieutenant in the RN attached to
of the Vigilant ended Samuel asked for a shore appointment. He was “given the command of the
As an infant
were at Chicklade Samuel was appointed Inspecting Commander of the Swanage
Coast Guard District in
Captain Samuel Meredith R N –
Soon after they arrived at Swanage, when Lydia must have been aged five, her father’s armed mounted guard called Heath, who was a friend of hers, put her up into the saddle of his thoroughbred mare Betsy, where she “sat astride, holding onto his holster pistols. Betsy suddenly broke into a gallop and went up onto the down above Durleston Head. I enjoyed my scamper exceedingly, but my father mounted his horse, headed Betsy and soon caught her. I was ignominiously lifted off and sent to the schoolroom for the day”. Later in the memoir she says “my sister did not care much for riding, but I was devoted to it, and my father often let me ride with him, when he rode to some of his stations. I was then 7 years old, and my father was very much pleased with the way in which I rode Jack”. She tells of riding with her father on a dangerous path on a great slope, which ended in a steep cliff. It sounds as if her father greatly enjoyed the company of his feisty little daughter.
The “plucky governess” was called Miss Swain and “was a good botanist. When taking us out for walks she used to interest us so much in the flowers that I have been grateful to her ever after. Our pony, Jack, went with us on our walks so that either of us could ride when tired, and I remember on one occasion Jack bit out the whole crown of Miss Swain’s straw bonnet as she walked in front of him”.
The description of life in Swanage ends with the following: “My father’s strict rule had great effect in capturing many of the smuggling ‘ventures’ of the Swanage people, and before he left, smuggling had greatly diminished on that coast”.
Swanage appointment ended the family moved to the Old Rectory in Boyton,
fortune I discovered a cache of 31 letters that must have been preserved by
Mary. Four of the letters are written by
The season of Christmas is now fast approaching, what a solemn event it is to commemorate the birth of our blessed saviour, and when we consider the amazing love of God in giving his only son to suffer and die for us it ought to fill us with love and gratitude to him.
You told me in your letter that you were collecting shells and fossils, which must be very amusing to you. I dare say your governess is kind enough to explain them to you and tell you their names; should I have the pleasure of seeing you at some future time, I should very much like to see them.
You I doubt not are as fond of the study of history as I am. I have lately finished that of Rome, which I consider very entertaining and am about to commence the History of Greece which I hope to be as much interested in; our wish however ought not to be merely to read for amusement, but that we may derive benefit and instruction, and endeavour to retain it.
Papa and Mamma unite with me in kind remembrance to your dear parents and your sister. I shall be always pleased to hear from you when you have leisure.
Will you please to present my love to Miss Swain and believe me to remain your affectionate young friend, Frances Elizabeth Frowd”.
that Mary Meredith was aged ten, and guessing that
The next letter was written by Lydia Dyer on August 13th 1839. Mary was staying with friends in Hindon, Wiltshire, and Lydia Dyer, Lydia Meredith and Samuel had gone to stay in Limmington near Ilchester with William Dyer (Lydia Dyer’s brother) and their sister Ann who kept house for him. William was a curate and Lydia Dyer mentions him often in the letters.
“My dearest Mary
I am anxious to fulfil my promise of writing you, because I know you will be anticipating the pleasure of a line from me. We arrived at this place on Saturday in time for dinner at five o’clock and found dear Uncle and Aunt quite well. Sunday was a very happy day with us all, and to none more than Lydia; she often, very often, thought and spoke of you and felt pleased in the reflection that you were also enjoying a similar treat with herself.
spent the evening with Mrs Williams.
SAMUEL MEREDITH’S APPOINTMENT AS CHIEF CONSTABLE OF WILTSHIRE.
Miss Swain, the “dear
left them in late 1840 or early 1841 to take charge of an old relative, and
The letters give a good idea of the kind of life that
It is obvious from the letters that Samuel called in to see Mary frequently
whenever he was in
This is from the first letter sent to Mary after she went away:
“Behind my dressing glass, I found these words written on the wall “ dear Mamma I shall never forget you”. I instantly recognized my Mary’s writing and by that the workings of her heart. May the constant remembrances of your Mother lead you to remember “Him” who has spared her to you and believe me dearest love any blessing you find in her must be traced to God’s love for you in thus smoothing your pilgrim path through life.
think of you, talk of you, and love to hear from you.
You do not mention Elizabeth [one of the servants] in your note, but as I am sure it was a “forget” (which by the bye, is an excuse I do not patronize) I have substituted a remembrance to her, as no one in the house thinks of you more than she does.
I dare say you feel the cold very much, we all do, especially poor Mamma, but I am thankful to say I am quite as well as when you left me. Doubtless you miss your fire in the evening, but my Mary is quite equal to any sacrifice of feeling where duty appeals to her and others are cheerfully complying with circumstances. These little privations must be looked upon as the [???] in the weight of pleasure in the society of so many young friends. When next you write you must give me an account of your daily arrangements. Your Governesses, schoolfellows, nothing is too trivial connected with my darling’s welfare to give pleasure to her fond parents. God bless you my beloved child. Papa sends his affectionate love”.
The following are examples of some of the recurring themes from different letters; the first four show Lydia Dyer’s pre-occupation with health or the lack of it:
“I was a little anxious upon first reading your note, as any thing like spontaneous palpitation of the heart, is quite foreign to your constitution, but upon reflection, I anticipate, that the cause has originated in your need of your aperient medicine which I hope you have received by this time, and have resorted to its salutary aid. Should Mrs Boscawen still think you had better have the “Fluid Magnesia” I shall be obliged to her to send to Quareys for a shilling bottle of it for your use, as Mrs Seagram assures me its qualities are much deteriorated after the cork has been withdrawn; therefore it will be better to have but a small quantity at a time; by promptly replacing the cork that quantity will be available while it is good.”
“ I should like you to purchase a cake of camphor soap and use it to prevent chilblains, but you must take care to keep it carefully wrapped up in the lead paper in which you buy it. Or perhaps it would come lighter to your purse to have two, or three ounces[?] of camphorated spirit and when your hands are dried out of the water after washing them rub them well with the spirit and let it dry in.”
“I am a close prisoner to the house, but thank God in very much better health than is usual with me at this season of the year. I am urged, by no means to venture out, and if that precaution will help to preserve my health to enjoy the companionship of my dear girls, I am well repaid.”
“…….although on my return to Boyton I am reminded continually of the temporary loss of one, who is loved, valued, and missed very much. [Presumably she is referring to Mary away at school.] Still we are expecting gain from our loss, and that seems to qualify everything: your affectionate sympathy in all my weaknesses, is always gratifying; but I wish them to have only their just weight, remember my love, so sensitive a frame as mine, is more susceptible than is to be desired and therefore needs the utmost endeavour to suppress its morbid effects.” (The underlining is mine).
extract makes me fell quite worried about their care of the dormice. “You will think of me I doubt not; dear
Papa left us yesterday for a long tour, and will not return until tomorrow
night. I think he is likely to see you
on Thursday or Friday. I will talk to
The next three extracts are an insight into Lydia Dyer’s attitude to her daughters:
“Your letters are every way cheering to me, because they manifest such a very amiable spirit. Humility is a cardinal Christian grace, the very touchstone of sincerity in our desires to “learn to do well”. The only one which elevates us in proportion, as we can surrender self and selfish principles”, [etc etc for many more lines]
“Lydia has written you a note which served to gratify her – but I do not think it is fit to shew, therefore destroy it when you have an opportunity.”
“ I am afraid I shall not be enabled to dispatch the shoes as I had intended by post tonight as I have been sadly hindered by a great difficulty I found in getting any ribbon to match the pale blue silk, but I have at length succeeded pretty well and if I have no other means of sending them tomorrow shall hope to enclose them in an envelope and send them by post – in that case they will arrive on Sunday morning which I shall regret but as there will not be one line with them you must content yourself with waiting until Monday morning before they are opened, as I am truly sorry they should interfere in the slightest degree with your Sabbath duties. Let me hope you will explain the circumstances under which it so happens”.
Being told exactly when to open a parcel sounds a bit like “control freakery” to me, but also goes to show how very seriously Lydia Dyer took her religious duties.
This extract concerns their servants: “Bright is going to leave us, for his habits have recently become very loose and idle. There is a most respectable man coming as groom, who will live at the cottage and act as porter at the gate. I am sorry, and disappointed at Bright, but am really not sorry to lose him under such circumstances. Sarah and Ellen are quite well and going on extremely well. I have at present a work-woman living in the house from Dr Daws, where she is in almost constant work, but Mrs D has kindly spared her to come and make up curtains, carpets, and different things which our new house requires.”
There is one passage about Mary’s education that I find interesting: “You allude most sweetly to the
little deficiency in French and Music and will I am sure see the propriety of
doing all you can, in a private way, to perfect yourself in both. Mrs Boscawen most kindly and tenderly tells
me of it, as a regret, that you can not commence another language until you are
more familiar with French; and the ground work of music is not well understood
by you. Will
One letter discusses a stay at
the school in
“I am quite delighted to find that you enjoyed dear Lydia’s visit so much, your feelings on parting with her, were nature’s own, such not to be regretted, but improved to the mellowing of your character: may all these little trials have that tendency, and thus fit you for that genuine test of true Christian virtue, “To weep with those who weep” and the greater grace “To rejoice with those who do rejoice”, neither of which could we do, unless there was a kindred chord in our own bosoms, that could feel the “grief” of the “joys” which claimed our sympathy. Our reason tells us that could we take a birds-eye view of all the sorrows human nature displays, at one glance, we should soon feel how insignificant our little trials were in comparison; and yet how soothing, how animating, how cheering, to know, and feel, that when the heart is oppressed, there is no occurrence too trivial for God’s sympathy, that we can conscientiously carry to Him.
I am quite
pleased at the account you give of dear
refer to plans for
“I write you a hasty line to tell you that Papa will certainly see you tomorrow (DV) but not until about 1, or 2 o’clock and will not I fear be enabled to remain long with you.
And later after they had moved from Boyton House to Easterton House:
one disappointment I am anxious to do every thing in my power to soften down to
you, which is the necessity for our deferring
The other item
of note is the appointment of William Dyer (
While staying with William in Imber Lydia Dyer wrote to Mary as follows:
been thought good for me to have a little change of air, and scene; and as your
dear uncle’s Christian society is always soothing and refreshing to me, I have
selected his manse as the most congenial to my wishes and quite as long a journey
as I can comfortably bear [NB
6 miles]. It is apparently, a great delight to him, that such a plan should
have been fixed upon, and I am looking forward to the enjoyment of a spiritual
feast tomorrow in the midst of
The village is all upon the qui vive at our sojourn: and having visited several sick-poor, and enjoyed the blessedness of a visit to the house of mourning there is a general muster of all the invalids in the place to wish their claim upon us for a visit. I have seen several today, but as I am glad of a stronger arm than my own to lean upon, I feel the propriety of submitting to the opinion of my friends as to the prudence of maintaining a system of quiet and repose and therefore cannot hope to see them all, they are however to assemble in the School room where we may all unite in holy communion and take sweet council together”.
There must have been a bereavement in the family as the above letter and all following for the next 3 months are written on black edged paper. At the end of the visit to Imber Uncle William went back to Boyton with them and later Lydia Dyer wrote this:
Uncle William leaves us for Imber this afternoon, for tomorrow’s sacred duties, and returns here on Monday morning. Eliza [William’s house maid] will remain here during his absence. I very much enjoyed the opportunity of passing a Sabbath with him. The whole observance of the day was so primitive, so simple, and so very sweet, it really appeared, a shadow, of heavenly enjoyment. Dear Uncle (in his native ingenuity) has repaired all the flutes and instruments which appear to have been useless for some years, and certainly he had in the easiest and simplest manner secured the most perfect harmony throughout the congregation. So painfully sad had been the sectarian spirit of this little community that the churchwardens assured me not more than 12 persons used to frequent the church at all, but it was truly gratifying to me to witness the mass who were congregated in their most venerable edifice, and during the sermon several old people stepped “softly” to the foot of the pulpit stairs with the intense anxiety to catch every word that fell. May your dear uncle (who appears as a stripling among a hoary-headed flock) be instrumental in imparting that peace which passeth all understanding instead of that false peace in which too many appear to have [illegible] themselves.
On leaving Imber on Monday last it was as amusing as it was interesting to watch the proceedings at the parsonage. The house was to be shut up, and left in charge of the schoolmistress, and it became a consideration to dispose of all perishable articles. A clandestine peep into the movements of “mine host” discovered him with upturned cuffs, dividing a cold lump of beef and quarter of lamb into platefuls, and as the motley group of messengers stood by, they were charged thus “this is for the clerk’s wife”, “this for the tall woman the clerks wife’s friend”, “this is for poor Jacob Meaden the sick thatcher”, “this for the dumb man”, “this for the sick man who is dying”, “and this little pudding for poor old Bartlett”, “the seed cake to be taken to the school and divided amongst the children”. William had been rector for such a short time that he did not yet know their names!
The last of
the letters from Lydia Dyer is dated Feb 19th 1842 when Mary must have
been nearly 14. It looks as if any
subsequent letters have not been preserved.
It is possible that
five letters from
My very dear sister Mary
I am very
much obliged to you for the threads of wool you so kindly sent me by dear
Papa. Last Monday one of the poor little
Mr Roche came yesterday and remained till this morning: he says he has his brother’s collection of coins and will send them to us the first opportunity.
you the account of the Royal Christening. She is your namesake and had 6 godfathers and
godmothers. Hoping you will like it I
remain my dear sister Mary your affectionate sister
SAMUEL’S ROLE AS CHIEF CONSTABLE
Throughout the time-span of the letters Samuel was setting up the Wiltshire County Constabulary. At work he was apparently a fairly remote and awe inspiring character. He instituted a system of instruction for the constables and was rigorous about the importance of documenting every case. The constables worked twelve-hour days and there was approximately one constable to every thousand people. In the absence of any other kind of communication information was passed on at daily meetings between the constables of neighbouring districts. The uniform for the constables was similar to contemporary naval dress and I imagine that Samuel relied upon the experience gained in both his naval and coast guard appointments. By 1864 there was a total of two hundred men in the Wiltshire Constabulary. Samuel retired in 1870 and apparently towards the end of his tenure his health had declined and he had become less and less active. This wasn’t really surprising because he was 76 when he retired. He died three years later. In spite of all the worries about Lydia Dyer’s health she survived Samuel and lived until her mid eighties.
In her memoir
John Charles had a large bible with the inscription “To her nephew and Godson John Charles Thring from his aunt Eliz Anne Jenkyns May 4th 1832”. I am guessing that it was a present at his Confimation as he was aged 12 at this time. On the first three blank pages he wrote his curriculum vitae and other family details. This record shows that he was ordained deacon in Wells in December 1847; and ordained priest in December 1849. He was curate of Alford with Hornblotton, where his father was rector and squire, to April 18th 1855. He then went to be curate at Cirencester and from there to Overton with Fyfield. He was nearly 34 at the time of the marriage.
The memoir continues:
“On May 18th
1858 I was married to the Revd. John Charles Thring, at that time curate of
Overton and Fyfield near
brother-in- law Edward Thring, the headmaster of
reason this is all that
August 8th 1862
“My brother certainly is the best fellow alive in his way, for the last night he spoke to me about my prospects here with a feeling and forbearance wonderfully tender, considering his views that it is a speculation, and his ignorance of the state of affairs. I have promised not to buy anything or borrow again (and please God will keep it faithfully) without acquainting him, which means of course to me not doing it. He says he is responsible to my other brothers for my debt. I trust God will preserve us from the trial, but as they value my blessing, neither my wife nor children must ever accept a penny from him or the family for anything lost in this cause, I am sure God will not let them suffer for what I have honestly done in this cause.”
This is one of
many entries relating to Edward’s perennial financial problems in the building
JOHN CHARLES THRING AND THE RULES OF FOOTBALL
I have another
theory for the reason for the departure of
I have read several wildly conflicting versions of the origins of the rules of football but there is no doubt that in 1862 John Charles published his own set of rules called in one version ‘The Simplest Game’ and in another ‘The Winter Game: Rules of Football’. I have found a facsimile copy of the cover of the Winter Game on the internet and the sub heading is “to which are added the rules of the Cambridge University Committee and London Association.” This version was the 2nd edition and was printed in early 1863. The explanation states “in drawing up this amalgamation of the rules formulated up to this date, Thring became a central figure in the early framing of the laws of football. This is an important early document in the history of football, effectively responsible for all that the game now stands for”. Because of the rise in the number of football clubs the Football Association was formed in late 1863 and John Charles’s rules in the 2nd edition of the Winter Game formed the basis from which the Football Association rules were laid down in December 1863. For me as a non-participant rule number four of the Simplest Game, “kicks must be aimed only at the ball” seems highly practical and of prime importance! .
John Charles Thring painted in watercolour by his daughter Annie in 1900
In 1863, soon
after the formation of the Football Association and without consulting his
brother Edward (the headmaster), John Charles applied for
THRING – CHAPLAIN TO BRADFORD ON
The publication of his Winter Game seems to have been the high spot of John Charles’s career. After another stint as curate at Alford he went on to become chaplain to the workhouse in Bradford on Avon for 16 years but we always got the impression from Great Uncle Ernie that he thought that his father had rather wasted his talents and was fairly lazy. My father in his own memoir calls John Charles’s job as chaplain “a sinecure” but my father would have been influenced strongly by Great Uncle Ernie. The duties of the chaplain were as follows:
§ To read prayers and preach a sermon to the workhouse inmates every Sunday, and on Good Friday and Christmas Day
§ To examine the children, and to catechise such as belong to the Church of England, and to record the dates of attendance, and the general progress and condition of the children, and the moral and religious state of the inmates generally.
§ To visit the sick paupers, and administer religious consolation to them
I imagine that
this job description could entail some very hard work, especially as the
The family bible not only lists John Charles’s CV and the births and godparents of the children, it also records their illnesses. For example:
Whooping Cough 1867 – Ethel, Meredith, Lionel, Gertrude, Waldron.
Fever July 1870 – Ethel, Lionel, Gertie, Llew, Annie, Gwen.
Typhoid Fever 1877 April, May and June- Ethel, Meredith, Lionel, Annie, Gwen, Nona, Hugh Whooping Cough 1879 – Annie, Gwendoline, Nona, Hugh, Ernest Walsham.
The typhoid fever episode must have been alarming for all concerned.
HOUSE BRADFORD ON
the Internet I found a pamphlet called “A Stroll through Bradford on
interesting that although
The Hobhouse family is mentioned in the Life and Letters of Edward
Thring: “The most intimate
holiday playmates of the boys were their cousins of the Hobhouse family, whose
seat, Hadspen, is but a few miles distant from Alford. The relations between the two families seem
to have been particularly affectionate and intimate. One of the Hadspen family remarks in a note:
“I have always reckoned on all Thrings as steadily as brothers, and I never
found them fail yet.” It could be therefore
that Samuel, who purchased the house for
The 1871 census shows both Lydia Dyer (aged
seventy four) and Samuel Meredith (aged seventy seven) living with the large
Thring family at the Chantry House.
Samuel retired in 1870 aged seventy-six and I imagine that when he
bought the Chantry the deal was that he and Lydia Dyer should live there in
of the eldest three boys, Meredith, Lionel and Llew was an academic one,
similar to that of their father. They
were sent as boarders to
I know that
to Nona from the principal of
has it that the money had run out by the time it was the turn of the two
youngest of the ten children to go on to secondary education. This was why Hugh and Ernest were dispatched
to the Navy as midshipmen
at the age of thirteen and not sent to
Hugh in his midshipman’s uniform
experiences of boys in the early days of public schools seem to have been
singularly unpleasant being a midshipman was also very tough indeed; so
THE LIVES AND
child Charles Henry Meredith, known to us as Great Uncle May, made a fortune as
a partner in a scholastic agency called Gabbitas and Thring. The agency found jobs for teachers in
boarding schools. The firm had been set
up in 1873 and Great Uncle May must have joined on coming down from university
in about 1881, becoming a partner fairly soon afterwards. Ronald Searle
produced a lovely cartoon by of two fierce looking gentlemen, one short and one
tall, garbed in black and wearing top hats entitled “Gabbitas and Thring trap a
young man and lead him off to be a master”. An article in The Guardian
stated that Gabbitas and Thring were rarely on speaking terms. This is confirmed in my father’s
writings. He says: “When Gabbitas
retired they had a fight in the office about the terms”. Great Uncle May retired soon after this at
the age of 45. He then married an
American actress of about the same age, and they set off on a trip round the
world. He left her in a hotel in
In the early twentieth century, after both Gabbitas and Thring had departed from the agency, it recruited a string of writers and poets. H G Wells, Flecker, W H Auden, John Betjeman and Evelyn Waugh were all placed in schools by Gabbitas and Thring. In 1993 the name of Thring was dropped and it is now known only as Gabbitas. W H Auden wrote a poem in a letter to a friend in which he referred to it as Rabbitarse and String. At other times it was called “Rabbitguts and String” and “Grabitall and Fling”. “String” amuses me, as this was my nickname at school.
reports that in the First World War, in his fifties, Great Uncle May drove an
My father knew nothing about Ethel (1st child), who died fairly young, but he said that Gertie (4th child) was a “real sweetie, warm and loving to my father (Hugh) and Uncle Ernie when they had asthma attacks as boys and very kind and loving to me. She suffered from serious ill-health all her life”.
Great Aunt Annie (6th child) was an artist. Family rumour said that she trained at the
child) and Nona (8th child) became teachers, and so did Lionel
(3rd child) and Llew (5th child). Gwen was a teacher in
Two references for Nona as she applied for her first job as a teacher survive:
From W H Young MA Peterhouse Cambridge Feb 16, 1896
“Miss Nona Thring, of Newnham College, was my pupil for the three years during which she was preparing for the Mathematical Tripos of the year 1895. The distinguished place she took in that examination - one of the four or five highest that have yet been gained by women candidates - proves that she has acquired a wide range of mathematical knowledge and a considerable grasp of mathematical principles. But I am glad to have an opportunity of adding my testimony to this fact. Miss Thring’s knowledge is in no sense of the word superficial. All her work has been thoughtfully and carefully done, and she has on several occasions shown that she possesses the power of solving problems of decided difficulty. I should like to add that in spending a 4th year in reading Physics she has been acting partly under my advice, and that I am convinced that the knowledge she has thus been gaining will prove to be of immense use to her in teaching mathematics”.
Stephen Vice Principal of
much pleasure in saying that Miss N A L Thring has been at
She is able to get on well with other people, and I feel no doubt that she would be liked as a colleague, and that, owing to her good sense and good nature her help would be valuable to any Head Mistress under whom she worked. I should expect her to teach with clearness and brightness, and to be on good terms with her pupils.
I believe her to be thoroughly conscientious, and to deserve full trust and confidence, and I have no doubt that she would do her utmost to carry out to the full the duties of any post that she undertook”.
There are also
two references from Miss Dorothea Beale, the principal of
Feb 13th 1896
Thring was a pupil here for 3 years. We
think very highly of her ability, and of her character – and should have
wished, had circumstances permitted it, to place her on our own staff. She has devoted all her time at
Dorothea Beale Principal”
July 20th 1897
“Miss Nona Thring was an excellent pupil, and I had always looked forward to engaging her on our staff, as soon as she had passed her Cambridge examinations, I am sorry that she decided to leave us at the end of the year, because we had not enough mathematical work to give her the sort of teaching she wished.
Miss Thring is not a mere specialist – she has a good knowledge of a larger range of subjects – she is a good, painstaking and conscientious teacher.
Personally she is pleasing and one who wins the love and respect of her pupils and colleagues.
I doubt not
that she will fulfil the expectations of those who have appointed her
Mathematical Mistress at
Nona Thring as a child
The next part of Nona’s story is told in two personal letters to her from Miss Beale:
June 19th 1900
I am so sorry you have had to give up work for a time – yet perhaps I ought not to say that – for what is appointed for us must be best – and periods of quiet and repose are as necessary as those of work. You have been often in my mind since I heard – I wonder if this is a touch of influenza .
I wish you could have come to our Guild – would you care to have the words of the performance – I have written a preface.
I heard of your sister from Miss Richardson who was staying with me at Whitsuntide – she seems very clever as an artist (this must have been Great Aunt Annie) – I hope your sister at Manchester (I’m not sure who this is; possibly Great Aunt Gwen) is doing well.
Miss [illegible] is to take up important
I shall hope to get an improved account of you soon
Yours most sincerely
May 3rd 1901
It is nice to hear of your from others – we often think of you, and wish you were well enough to be with us once more – but now you have to remember that those also serve, who only stand and wait – I have just been reading [illegible] beautiful life of S. Francis and it was wonderful what a power he was upon his sick bed – and the most beautiful sermons I know almost are those Adieux d’A………… [illegible].
I hope you will enjoy this lovely spring, and read the glorious book [illegible] before us each spring tide.
I have not
seen your kind uncle for a long time – I may be in
I hear your sisters are getting on well
With much sympathy dear Nona, Yours most sincerely.. Dorothea Beale”
illness was terminal and she died at the age of 31 on January 2nd
1902. I wonder if the “kind uncle” was
Lord Henry Thring, the lawyer, as he was the only Thring brother resident in
remember my grandfather, Hugh, but I do remember Great Aunt Annie, Great Aunt
Gwen and Great Uncle Ernie. My father
says that Great Uncle Ernie told him that
When we were children we stayed many times with Great Uncle Ernie at his
lovely house on the banks of the river Wylie in Heytesbury in Wiltshire. He was a real Victorian and definitely
believed the Victorian edict that “children should be seen and not heard”. He had piercing blue eyes and we were very
much in awe of him. He became a Captain
in the non-executive branch of the Royal Navy because his eyesight was not good
enough for the executive branch. He was
awarded the Commander of the
As for Hugh, his adult life story features in the Dorothy Wooldridge section.
THE DEATHS OF
JOHN CHARLES AND
John Charles died on October 3rd 1909 and a newspaper obituary (probably from the local paper) says: “he had lived in retirement at the Park Dunmow for the past ten years and could take very little part in local church affairs, owing to failing eyesight. One of the rare occasions upon which he spoke in public was at a meeting of the clergy of the rural deanery of Dunmow about a year ago, when he protested against the principles of Socialism which were then advanced. He lived a quiet life, but showed an interest in parochial affairs, and frequently threw open his grounds for meetings connected with the church. He had been ill for four or five months. ……………………He leaves a widow, five sons, and three daughters. He was a kind-hearted and generous clergyman and his loss will be greatly regretted”.
clarifies what happened to
In fact she died on 4th September 1925.
Pen and ink sketch of
Pen and ink sketch of
I have a vague impression from my father that, as a grandmother,
THE LIFE OF
When I was eighteen a bank account was opened for me with great formality at a particular branch of a large bank chain then in Haymarket London. On each cheque was printed “Successor to Messrs Stilwell and Sons, Navy Agents and Bankers since 1772”. I was told that all Thrings banked there, as Stilwells was a family bank. I never thought to enquire about the family connection. However when checking the godparents of Lydia and John Charles’ children I became suspicious that Lydia’s sister Mary featured three times, once as Mary Meredith, once as Mary D S Meredith and once as Mary D S Stilwell.
Research on the internet revealed all. Mary lived at home with her parents in Battle House Bromham Wiltshire until she was 34 and married Henry Stilwell on 16th October 1862 when he was 31. They had two daughters and three sons but one of the sons died aged eleven. From 1871 Census records they were living in Melksham Wiltshire; in 1881 they were living in Lancaster Gate London with Henry listed as a navy agent; in 1891 and 1901 they were in Dorset and Henry is listed as J.P. for Dorset, retired banker and navy agent. At this stage there were just the two of them in the house with no fewer that seven servants, a butler, a page, a cook, a kitchen maid, a lady’s maid, and two housemaids. Mary died aged 75 on 24th June 1901 and in 1907 Henry (aged 73) was married again to a lady aged 58.
Her mother was Jane Ray born 13th September 1825
Her father was Edward Sieveking born 24th August 1816
They married on 5th September 1849
Her siblings were:
Henry Edward born 21st June 1850, died 19th February 1851 aged 8 months
Herbert born 19th April 1853
Arthur born 29th October 1854
Albert born 17th July 1857
Henry born 7 December 1859, died October 1873 aged 13 years
Ella born 20th November 1862
Alexander born early 1864, died 3rd December 1864 aged 10 months
Emmeline born 1st September 1867
Dorothy Wooldridge was born 20th January 1887
Leonard died 6th June 1889
They had four children:
Muriel born June 1892
Phyllis born July 1894
John born January 1898
Ursula born November 1900
August 28th 1874 Edward and Jane Sieveking set off for a month’s
holiday with two of their surviving eight children,
were abroad Ella kept a diary, written in beautiful copperplate handwriting. In
it she pasted various menus, restaurant bills, depictions of the hotels they
stayed in, train tickets, newspaper cuttings and pressed flowers. Her spelling and grammar are impeccable apart
from the spelling of a flower, misspelled as “gerainium”. Their holiday was in
In the diary
THE CAREER OF EDWARD SIEVEKING
father was a wool and timber merchant, a descendant of a distinguished
Edward and his
brothers Gustavus and Hermann were born in
In 1863 Edward
was appointed physician in ordinary to the Prince and Princess of
4th December 1864
Dear Dr Sieveking
I cannot tell you how distressed I was to hear of the death of your youngest child, our godson – which must be a sad blow to yourself and to Mrs Sieveking. I had always understood from you that he had been so healthy and strong, but the hooping (sic) cough at that tender age is I believe always more or less dangerous.
The Princess begs to join me in our sympathy to you and Mrs Sieveking for the sad loss you have sustained, and although the Almighty has blessed you with a numerous family, still the loss of an innocent little child is always very keenly felt. You will be glad to hear that the Princess and our little boy are very well and enjoying our country life.
Yours very sincerely
was written less than a month after the return of the
commentary on Edward’s diaries by Dr Neville Goodman it is suggested that a
possible reason Edward was eventually spurned by the Wales’s was that he was a
favourite of Victoria, and that she used him as a method of spying on her son
and daughter in law and of trying to influence their medical management. It is known that
diaries are interesting evidence of the changes in medical practice since
Victorian times. After the birth of her
first baby Edward restricted the Princess of Wales “to beef tea with arrowroot,
or vermicelli and marmalade water, she having asked for oranges which we
objected to”. The poor woman must have
been starving! At another time he
recommended she have “stout for luncheon and an earlier dinner hour, 7 instead
of 8”. What sort of medical prescription
is that? Dr Goodman says that quinine
was a sovereign remedy at this time, with few other potent drugs save opium and
aperients. There was in the 1860s no
taking of temperatures, testing of urine, weighing of babies, nor antenatal
care. My own facetious theory for the
spurning of Edward by the
In 1873 Edward
became physician extraordinary
Sieveking wrote numerous medical papers and his best-known monograph was
“Epilepsy and Epileptiform Seizures, their causes, Pathology and
Treatment”. With a colleague he
published a Manual of Pathological Anatomy “Which for many years held its
place as a regular text book in our medical schools.” Apparently it was illustrated with reproductions
of his watercolours. In 1858 he invented
an Aesthesiometer, an instrument for testing the sensation on the skin. In 1861 he was elected president of the
Harveian Society. He was physician to
the hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic in
Jane was the daughter of John Ray of Parkgate Finchley. I know that John Ray was born in 1774 in
Wigton Cumberland, that he married Eliza Flint in
It seems that
Edward and Jane had a loving relationship; in a postscript to a letter from
death in 1904 the lease on
THE FURTHER EDUCATION OF THE SIEVEKING GIRLS
I don’t know
what kind of early education Florence, Ella and Emmeline had but I imagine that
they either went to a local day school or were taught at home by a daily
governess; there is no living-in governess on the relevant censuses. Their father Edward, possibly influenced in
this by his Aunt Amelia in
art at the
My dear lady students
I think it necessary for you to know that I make no exception to my rule in Miss Redland’s case, a rule I feel absolutely necessary for the safety of this art colony. Miss Redland owes her success to my having watched her through many, weary, stages and her art has ripened accordingly. She is now engaged to be married; therefore she separates herself from me.
She has a perfect right to be engaged, but as I explained to you in my last lecture, I do not hold it my duty to train in art women, who (to my knowledge) are pledged to be married, for their duties then lie in other directions (to my thinking).
We are here together, men and women, for the study of art. This is not a matrimonial market or agency.
It is to help you succeed in art that I place my experience, and my ability at your disposal, and this I do with all my heart – for half my life is given to my students.
This justifies me in selecting those who are giving their whole life to the study of art and art alone, for my help. But then, when you pledge yourselves to this other great change in life, it is for me to bow my head in silence, and submit to your decision; but it is also necessary that you submit to the laws that I have a right to enforce for the good of the whole art community, composed of earnest art students of both sexes.
Your faithful and affectionate master
I wonder if he made the men leave his art school when they got engaged! I suspect that after this engagements would have been secret ones.
A very fine invitation from Mrs Hubert Herkomer to Miss Sieveking has survived in which Ella is invited to an At Home with Small Dance on Friday Feb 7th from 8 to 12 o’clock. It is printed on stiff card and has on it a fine drawing of a mediaeval maiden in pen and ink with the initials H.H.90 beside it. With such wonderful occasions for fraternisation of male and female students no wonder they had trouble with engagements!
Herkomer was apparently a “controversial figure because of his outspoken
enthusiasm and no-nonsense personality”.
His art school at Bushey, which flourished from 1883 to 1904, drew
I know that Ella was Vice President of Morley College in Lambeth,
In 1888 EMMELINE attended a fund raising evening party on behalf of the Women’s Suffrage Journal at which Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first English woman to complete a medical training, and Fanny Wilkinson were also present. This is the only reference I can find to Women’s Suffrage in my research about the Sievekings, but it is good to know that they supported votes for women.
knowledgeable and enthusiastic about gardening. In 1889 she assisted Fanny Rollo Wilkinson,
later Hon. Secretary of the board of
In her early
A letter from
Florence to Edward written in 1886 relates that Florence and “L”, in the early
days of their marriage, are in charge of the house in Manchester Square while
Jane and Edward, and possibly a son or two, are on holiday in Spa in
Leonard’s lecture title was “On the Coagulation of the blood”. He talks of three coagulable bodies present in the plasma and names them A-. B-. and C-fibrinogen. A footnote in the abstract tells us that these names “are provisional”. It is amazing that he should have been invited to give such a prestigious lecture at the age of 28.
On 20th February 1889 Edward Sieveking wrote to Leonard:
“Would you like to be presented at court? Of course I shall be happy to perform the office of presenter and Herbert thinks his suit would fit you, so that you would be spared expense. There is likely to be a levee in March, ‘though I have not seen it announced yet. With love to Flor and Dorothy I am yours affectionately Edward H Sieveking.”
Less than 4
months later Leonard was dead and I don’t know if he borrowed the suit or
not. From my father I learned that
Leonard ate a dodgy sandwich at a railway station and died of botulism. However another source
says that he “ate a late lunch at Guy’s that, he believed, contained some
elderly fish. He had diarrhoea and
vomiting for a few hours, was then unwell and, in spite of treating himself
with a day’s train trip to
In memory of Leonard Charles Wooldridge MD Dsc Lond.
Joint lecturer in Physiology in this School
And (for only 18 months) Assistant Physician
to the Hospital, who will long be remembered
for the brilliance of his achievements and for the
still more brilliant prospects obliterated
by his early death.
This tablet is erected by his friends and students.
Born Dec 1857
Died May 1889
Memorial to Leonard Wooldridge in the
I have a
letter written on thickly black edged paper that
3 Sylvester Terrace, Bushey, Herts. August 15th 1890
You will be amazed, and yet perhaps not so very, at receiving a
letter dated Bushey, when I ought according to all arrangements to be now at
Mother saw it all and arranged it with Papa; but it was not pleasant, having to turn one’s feelings inside out, and also to disappoint them of Dorothy’s society – ‘though I wished them to take Dorothy just the same with them though Mother would not hear of that. Of course, I have reproached myself, but what can I do? One cannot stifle one’s feeling beyond a certain point, or go on suffering always. To go on living with any comfort, or indeed with anything but misery to myself, - I must forget. I have to lead a new life and to forget the old one and why should I have suffering, 10 times renewed needlessly. I don’t blame them. They don’t know what suffering means – I know everyone is supposed to think their own troubles worse – but have they ever suffered ‘til they felt as if every vein in their body was bursting, have they ever felt they could not live another second, that they would give an eternity for the power to drop down dead at that moment – have they ever felt what it is to have realised the meaning of the words “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood” – have they in fact ever felt suicidal? If I were to have perfect happiness the rest of my life, it would only just make up for the agony of the past year.
Don’t mention dear to them that I have written this to you- but you have known better than I – you thought I could not live at home. I have tried to do the impossible.
We have Miss Lecky’s rooms and also the large front bed and sitting room combined which make a capital nursery for Dorothy, who sleeps with me in the back bedroom: only 16/- a week for the three rooms I have had the piano moved in here, and it seems to furnish the sitting room and make it “homey” at once. Dorothy is out in the field, with Vivien Milner; he passed by with his nurse and little sister yesterday afternoon and I invited him in to tea. He is a nice little chap and gets on admirably with Dorothy, who is equally fond of him. As his mother likes him to have a companion of his own age, as much as I him for Dorothy, I expect they will be always together, especially as we have adopted the plan of Dorothy’s fetching him for walks with her. I notice it seems to make Dorothy really happier to have a constant companion; she is not the least “tiresome” when with him. I think she is so engrossed in her play with him that she has not time to put herself out. She ran home in front; after leaving Vivien yesterday, shouting "Oh I am so happy!”
Nell dear this is a very full letter of self; but it has been a great relief to me to write it; one must be understood or try to make oneself comprehensible to one or two people, whom one feels can understand; as for the rest, on s’en fiche (sic).
Nell dear, your month’s stay abroad is half over – I hope you are having
a good time. I expect you find the climbing rather trying don’t you? It used to make my head ache so much going up
Nell dear goodbye. Write me a p.c. just to say how you are getting on
and with my love to Nora. Yrs ever
I suspect that
Family legend has it that
Ernest Starling was a distinguished research physiologist and professor
of Physiology at
A letter from
Dear Professor Schafer
to Ernest has been forwarded to me at
Since Professor Langley has brought the Journal of Physiology to its high state of efficiency and renown, of which I have heard my husband speak his appreciation, it would seem only just to carry out his wish in this respect.
Since Ernest wished me to undertake his correspondence during his absence, I do not think I am acting ultra vires in thus expressing what I have no doubt would be his opinion.
With kindest regards to Mrs Schafer and yourself and all good wishes for the New Year
A cousin tells me that
beginning of the First World War Florence wrote to her daughter Dorothy in
Nov 20th (1914)
I take a half sheet because the spirit seems not to move me today to write much to you! - esp. as I find Mu has been as I expect telling you all the news. Little Bryn is a year old today and we have not yet seen her! But you and Hugh are having all the pleasure in the world out of her, and she is so thoroughly satisfactory in every way that we just enjoy her through you both. It is delightful to think the little frocks are a success. I thought those embroidered blue and pink ones would be most useful, as no pleat is needed. You know the “first” drawers don’t take much making, just triangles put into a band with a button and buttonhole at bottom of each flap over and one at bottom to fasten between the legs. (A tiny sketch is included).
Am still working at placing Belgian Refugees now among better class families who have used up all their money. Incidentally we are helping Elsie to make 50 pairs mittens by Monday! and we never have the knitting needles out of our hands, servants included.
splendidly Hugh has done! But our line
is so thin in the West; the French and we and the Belgians have not nearly
enough men, and if it were not for
Now I must have a little rest, as I have Belgian Refugee letters to write before the 5.30 post. I do not eat lunch nowadays till 2 or 2.30, after spending an hour or two at Town Hall and Hostel.
Christmas presents for anyone this year.
Babs for her birthday had wool and knitting needles given with which to
knit for the soldiers. (She was only 13!) A destitute medical man’s widow is trying
to let her house (as she can’t get any boarders now and they are (illegible)
35/- a week for B Refugees. I have
obtained complete maintenance for a family of Belgian Refugees from the local council if I can pay
the rent (in
Dear love and God bless you all Mother
to the half sheet in the first line of the letter confirms an observation by
I have not
yet spent any of the £5 you generously gave me for my ex-soldiers who are “down
and out”, as I have been away, but there is a case of a tubercular man (only
29) who is waiting to be received into Papworth (where graduated work is
prescribed) and I have promised to pay the fare of the wife (with baby) to
Wales, where she can live with a married sister, who will look after the child
while she herself goes out to work. It’s
a great thing to lessen the congestion in
I find both
Florence’s care and support of Ernest and her selfless care for people less
well off than herself very praise-worthy, and the evidence from letters and
photos shows her as a concerned mother and grandmother, however it seems sad
that Babs (i.e. Ursula) had to have knitting wool and needles with which to
knit for soldiers as a teenage birthday present!
quotes another of Muriel’s recollections of Florence: “The memories of my
mother in my youth are much associated with her economising every penny, and
she explained to me that it was so important to her to save in order that Papa
should have something to supplement his pension on retirement. And then, after a lifetime of scrimping, he
did not live to retire”.
Ernest died, probably of secondary cancer, in May 1927. A sad letter from
Dear Dr Plesch
Yesterday I found your letter to my husband on his table in the lab.
My beloved died on May 2nd before the steamship arrived at
He came home one evening about a month before this saying that he was very tired and was going to give up work for the time and take a good holiday, and he thought a sea voyage to the sun would set him up. He would not let anyone accompany him saying he should be all right directly he got on board, but our son took him to Bristol, and saw him on the boat at Avonmouth, putting him in the care of the doctor, who wrote us on his return, that my husband gradually sank, without pain, becoming unconscious about 24 hours before his death. I think he suffered from the same streptococcal poisoning (due to removal of ileo colic valve in the operation for cancer 4 years ago) that affected his legs 2 years ago; but this yielded to self-cultures and inoculations; then according to my idea it invaded the brain and heart. But he had no suffering, only weariness.
never cease to remember your kindness with gratitude
A cousin remembers that
ELLA’S MARRIAGE AND LIFE IN ALDEBURGH
Ella married Walter Ewing Crum in 1896 when she was 34. He was the son of Alexander Crum who was at
one time M.P. for Renfrewshire. Ella and
Walter lived in
Ella’s cook, house maid and parlour maid (date unknown)
The first Belstead House school magazine dated Autumn Term 1909 includes a mention of the School’s third birthday party held on October 1st. It tells us that Mrs Crum caused a sensation by arriving dressed in a fancy costume and that Mr Crum was one of the other visitors. By Easter Term 1910 Mrs Walter Ewing Crum features as a visiting mistress for drawing, painting, and sketching. From later magazines it is clear that Ella was a devoted art teacher whose pupils enjoyed her lessons. She organized holiday sketching competitions and she also seems frequently to have had pupils to tea at Mill Edge.
Mill Edge, Aldeburgh
Ella and the headmistress of Belstead House, Mrs Pam Hervey, had a close and intense friendship. There is evidence that they wrote frequently when apart and that they (and their husbands) took holidays together.
I have a small white vellum covered book that belonged to Pam. At the beginning is a card inscribed, “For Ella – this book if I die”. In fact she died in 1929 and indeed it must have passed to Ella. It is full of Pam’s own poems, of photographs, pressed flowers, postcards, letters and so on. Under a photograph of Ella is written, “She walked into my life dressed like this. May 18th 1906 Westfields drawing room 4.30 p.m.” Under another poem is written “Passing of Arthur. Said by Iris and Celia at our first concert. Ella sitting near me. Our eyes met”. Beside a photograph of Ella and GG, the Hervey’s daughter, is a poem which starts “My friend – my Child! They are the world to me”. There are photographs of Ella’s paintings; indeed there is another printed book that consists entirely of Pam’s poems and Ella’s paintings. There are photographs of Ella sketching, of Ella with Belstead pupils, of Ella and Pam on expeditions, of Ella and Stewart, and of Mill Edge. There is one significant photograph of Walter and Ella, which is inscribed “But not a quarrel!” There is a letter taped into the book from Ella to Pam but unfortunately Ella’s handwriting is extremely difficult to decipher. It starts “Beloved and ends, “Take heart beloved Yr. V. loving Ella”. In it Ella asks Pam to come and see her “at 8.30 when W goes to a meeting if you’re not too tired”. She refers to Pam being made unhappy and goes on to say “there are things worth a sacrifice and I think getting Walter back in the right attitude was one. I don’t know what he is thinking, he does not say, but when he (illegible) the envelope at luncheon he got v. red – and gave it to me – without a word. In the evening – he asked me for it – and said “one could not quarrel with friends like these”. On the facing page are two photographs of Ella, Pam, Walter and GG on an outing with “Pam’s and Ella’s answer” written beside them. I can’t help wondering if Walter felt threatened by the amount of time Ella spent with Pam and bemused by such a very close friendship. Or was such intensity between married females common in Victorian times?
Walter Ewing Crum seems to have had a private income although a cousin
tells me that he worked at the
Ella’s visitors’ book for the whole of her time in Aldeburgh, i.e. from
1906 to 1939 show that she had around forty visitors a year, a lot of them
staying for a week or so. Her siblings
and their spouses, nephews and nieces, and great nephews and nieces all
feature. Also of interest is the visit
of Cecil Sharp, who was an expert on vernacular folk song, and who travelled to
many remote areas of
Although it seems that Ella was fond of children, she and Walter never had any of their own. However they do seem to have adopted Walter’s brother’s son Stewart; he features frequently in letters and photographs and I think he must have stayed with Ella after the separation. He was killed aged 19 in the First World War.
My aunt Bryn kept a Report of Inspection of Belstead School held on the
11th, 12th and 13th March 1931. In the section on Art we read as follows: “twelve
of the more advanced pupils have the advantage of special teaching in figure
drawing and sketching in the studio of a lady artist living next door to the
school, who has for many years devoted much time and energy to its
service. Some very pleasing work was
seen both here, and at the lower stages”. It is good to know that
Ella made such good use of her
After she left Aldeburgh Ella went to live
A letter from Ella’s solicitor replying to some pertinent questions about the proceeds of her mother’s will shows her to have had a good head for finance. When she died she left her money to her great niece Bryn who had spent a lot of her later childhood with Ella. Bryn was left so well off that she stopped work and lived on these funds for the rest of her life. Being a great hoarder Bryn kept all Aunt Ella’s papers and letters which have proved a great source of information.
father’s death Emmie lived with her mother in Devonshire Terrace near
A letter from Emmie to Ella written just before Emmie’s wedding very clearly shows her emotional state:
My heart is literally beating with love and gratitude for all that you have always been to me and are and will always be, though I can hardly find the words to tell you so –
You and Walter have made it “roses all the way” not once but many times – and I think it would take more than the time there is left between now and our marriage to tell over all that you have done –
Darling my love and Matthews’ will be our living thanks – Do you know that the older I grow the more I yearn for the deepening and strengthening of all great existing ties – I long that you should know how much I feel and Matthew feels-
Bless you my dear now and always-
M and I hunted high and low to find a little jewel in white or purple to put inside this little box – I think you may like to have it simply because it belonged to Father who was so fond of it.
Will you read into its many coloured gelds the symbol of the love that changes and yet is always the same-
Your sister and friend Emmy
Sadly Emmeline had only 18 years of happy marriage as Mathew died in Snape in 1927.
THE LIVES OF THE SIEVEKING BOYS
Jane and Edward’s first child, Henry Edward, died aged 8 months in
1851. Another son, Alexander, also died
as a baby in 1864. Five of the surviving six brothers were educated at
birthday in 1871 Edward Sieveking’s children presented him with a handsome
green leather folding wallet with space for twelve photographs and with his
initials in gold on the front. At the
beginning is a photograph of his parents; taken in
Some of the following information is written on the back of the photographs in the wallet:
eldest surviving child, was apparently the black sheep of the family. It is suggested that he may have married
twice but another source shows him as unmarried. He does not seem to have had any kind of
training for a career. A cousin has
discovered that he was a farmer in
The second son
Herbert trained as a doctor. His first
post was at St Mary’s Hospital London.
In 1884 he became a physician at the
Arthur went to Caius College Cambridge and became a barrister. He died in 1927.
shows him aged 15 wearing his Navy uniform with a smart cap and numerous gold
buttons. He was an officer in the Royal
Navy from 1881 to 1901 and died in
became a solicitor and was librarian to the
November 11th 1883 Written from Brighthelmstone
“I have been to hear Oscar Wylde (i.e. Oscar Wilde) twice, and got distinct pleasure and profit each time. I do not think I ever heard a pleasanter lecturer – cheerful, vivacious, humorous and even poetical. With the face of a woman, he has the voice and muscular development of a man, and the gesture, dress, bearing and manner of an artist, and withal as little affectation (in lecturing at least) either in matter or manner as you can possibly expect after the noise that has been made about him. I do not believe he is by any means “snuffed out” yet, like that Prophet of Beauty, of whose creed he is a preacher, John Keats.”
October 29th 1889 written from
“I am sending you over my bottle of Fer Bravais to see if it will do you any good. It is accounted a very delicate preparation of iron and may suit you. About 10 drops in water is the dose. The drop measure I did not find easy to manage, perhaps you will be more successful.
I am going to make a final bid for health, by going over to
In fact Albert
lived to a ripe old age and died in 1951.
In the Second World War Albert, Ella and Emmeline all went to live in
Ruthin to be near
Henrys’ photographs were taken in
There is also a depiction of Edward himself wearing court dress, and a lovely one of Jane wearing a fetching cap with flowers on it, with white lace frills at her neck and wrists, and numerous ruffles and flounces on her black satin dress. She is sitting next to a table carrying that favourite Victorian plant, an aspidistra.
EDWARD AND JANE SIEVEKINGS’ GRANDCHILDREN
Herbert and Frederick did not marry.
Arthur married but had no children.
Albert had one daughter called Margot.
THE LIVES AND
obtained an honours degree in English from University College London in
1909. She then taught for three years before
marrying Hugh Thring and having three children; Bryn, Meredith and Jane. She spent the first five years of her
obtained a first class degree in physiology from
as a Red Cross cook (the only female member of her family who learned to cook
when young) during the First World War and married Maurice Trouton in
1917. They had a son and a daughter.
Phyllis and Maurice were killed in the Second World War when the
In a letter
written by Ernest to a friend in
for a diploma in dairy bacteriology at
Her mother was Florence Sieveking born 2nd July 1861
Her father was Leonard Wooldridge born 11th December 1858
They married on 2nd July 1984
Dorothy was born on the 20th January 1887
Leonard Wooldridge died on 6th June 1889
They had four children:
Muriel born 11th June1893
Phyllis born 5th July 1894
John born 18th January 1898
Ursula (also known as Babs) born 10th November 1901
Dorothy married Walter Hugh Charles Samuel Thring (born 30th May 1873) on 11th January 1913
From 1913 to
1919 they lived in Eltham,
They had three children:
Brynhild Wooldridge born 20th November 1913
Meredith Wooldridge born 17th December 1915
Jane Felicity born 15th September 1917
From 1919 to
1922 they lived in Blackheath,
She died on 31st May 1922
Dorothy was born on the 20th January 1887 in Barnes London and was the only child of Leonard Wooldridge and Florence Sieveking. Her father died when she was two. Two years later her mother married Leonard’s colleague Ernest Starling. Dorothy had four Starling half-siblings.
From the various letters and post cards written to Dorothy by her half siblings it seems that she had a close and loving relationship with them. It is good to know that her mother had a happy second marriage and that Dorothy grew up in a close family. She was four when her mother remarried and six when her first half sibling was born.
I know that Dorothy went to Baker Street High School but know little else about her childhood except for a letter that she pasted into a scrapbook and entitled “A letter of Mumu’s, when she was a very little ‘gail’ ”. It is written between carefully pencilled lines in beautiful handwriting with minimal punctuation and interesting spelling and reads:
Dear Puppy I hope you like your volunteering. Yesterday when we went to auntie Ella’s first we picked strawberries next we shelled some peas next we picked bunches of blackcurrants then we had lunch then we played in the hay when we were too hot to play in the hay we went and picked a few wild flowers and then we sat in a little wood and while we picked flowers Dorothy made us wreathes your loveing little gail MURIEL.
I am guessing that Dorothy must have been in her early teens when she
made them “wreathes” at the end of their busy day. Puppy is Muriel’s father, and Dorothy’s
stepfather, Ernest Starling. The letter
paper is headed 8,
Dorothy as a teen-ager
DOROTHY’S STAY IN
Dorothy went to
Monday 3rd. Address illegible
“Frau Fricker and Hedwig met me (they do all wear check flannel blouses as Aunt Emmie said and hideous little black felt boat shaped hats with check ribbon) and they speak the tiniest bit of English and I even less German but still we got on very well.
We have such nice beds, first a scarlet mattress and a wedge shaped scarlet bolster- then a sheet and then two feather beds – the under one red and with a sheet buttoned on to it all the way round and the upper one white and a pillow – very thin over half the bed – these beds are very much more comfortable than English ones.
They all wear aprons – even the grandmother – I must make or get one too.
Hedwig does all the waiting at home – she cooks and clears away and dusts etc. – they ask what English girls do all day instead of Hauswork – I said I didn’t know.
I love being here. It is so funny, the servants come into the sitting room at night and say good night and say “Good Day” whenever they open the door to one.
I have been to the
I do love my German grammar lessons, I have the very nicest girl to give them to me. When I come back I shall get up a German Club among a few friends to meet at one another’s house once a week and read a German book and have tea and talk only German. When they come to my house I shall give them coffee and German cakes.
Tuesday, 12 August Bei Frau Simon, Beutnitz, Neumark
We have got rainy weather here now so I can’t do any sketching either, and do you know, I am rather glad. Isn’t it dreadful of me? If I had any real talent I should want to work at every opportunity – and do you know even the two hours a day at Ackenhausen were rather a labour sometimes? I have done 2 hours painting a day for the last 5 weeks, and not being a genius but a very ordinary girl am going to be lazy for a week or two. I am a lazy pig I know – it really is only laziness – I have no excuse for there is heaps of paintableness round here”.
Taking drawing lessons may have been the idea of her Aunt Ella, a Slade trained artist; Dorothy herself doesn’t seem to be particularly dedicated! However her drawing skills were used in later life in letters, and in a story that she wrote and illustrated for Bryn.
September 2nd Cliestow Frankfurt am O.
“She has invited Mu and me for 4 weeks in 4 years……………….(presumably after Dorothy had finished her degree) but I am afraid war will come before then – the Germans do hate us so – they talk as if there would be sure to be war in a very short time.
It is interesting to read this, written nine years before the onset of World War One.
Ah if we women had votes of power I wonder if we should muddle about like the war office? I really think it would be a good thing – though I don’t like the masculine, bony, waist less creatures who agitate for women’s right – but really when there are women and men together on a council the women always seem to get “forrader”. No the women I mean are the practical “tuchige” ones, who first perfect all home duties to the best of their power and then can give a few hours weekly to such business – I mean like you [her aunt Ella] at Morley and Mother with the School of Medicine and Aunt Emmie with Swanley. I always think the women’s speeches are the best at prize givings and things. Don’t snub me ‘though I know I deserve it.
As far as I know none of my Edwardian female relatives were suffragettes, but it seems that women’s rights were a topic of conversation in the Sieveking family.
I am going to learn to cook ‘though it is hateful. I am ashamed when I think of the many English girls I know who do nothing the whole day but amuse themselves – sometimes not even that – myself among them (when I am not studying for an exam). I don’t believe there is one in 50 in Germany who does that – When they ask me what English girls do – well, I make out a case with dressmaking and charity work – but there really are many girls I know who do absolutely nothing – In fact I really don’t know how they get through the time! I really like German girls very much – especially my 4 particular friends, But German men I can’t bear – the first time they see one they say silly meaningless compliments and then they tease – really tease one so dreadfully…. and then they do say such things about England and the English and the King – it is really awfully rude……. some aren’t so bad – but Englishmen are so much nicer. Polite in a certain way they are – they pick up things one drops and give one roses and so on”.
Thursday + illegible address.
“I had yesterday the most delightful letter from Muriel in which she says “I wish Mrs Fricker would invite me to stay with her, couldn’t you give her a gentle hint and say I am such a dear, pretty, helpful child, and that I adore cooking, washing, ironing, picking fruit (ahem) etc. Please do!”
I find the reference about learning to cook very fascinating. I am told by a cousin, daughter of one of the
Starling children, that none of the Starling girls had any idea of how to cook
in their youth, as they had never had to.
Indeed Muriel didn’t need to cook until her husband retired in the
1960s, although one of her daughters reports that she would have liked to cook,
and that she enjoyed making jam for WI fetes on the gas ring outside their
childhood nursery on the nanny’s day off.
For the latter part of his working life Auntie Mu and Uncle Pat (known
to us by these names even ‘though they were in fact our great aunt and great
uncle) lived in some style in a private wing of
On her return from Germany Dorothy helped her siblings with a Christmas
entertainment. A hand drawn programme with the date Dec 28 1905 is in her
scrapbook. The first half of the
programme features musical and other items by all four of the Starling
children. After the interval is a play called Two Chums, with the two
characters acted by Stewart Crum and Margot Sieveking. I am guessing that this would have been
performed in front of, at least,
DOROTHY’S UNIVERSITY CAREER
The records held by University College London state that Dorothy
attended from “1905 to 09”. In 1906 she
apparently studied “drawing from the antique” for 3 days a week in addition to
her degree subjects. In 1909 she officially achieved a “BA Hons English” but in
fact her degree included English, History and Icelandic and Celtic
languages. Interestingly her sister
Muriel achieved a BSC Hons Physiology from
For some reason unknown to me Dorothy asked her
Letter accompanying reference from W P Ker 28th April 1912
What do you think of this, in official capacity? It is a disgusting language, but I do not mind, in a good cause. Do come and see me on Tuesday morning at the College either 11 or 1.
I meant to
write to you from the
I am quite unfit for work, and can think of nothing but clear streams running between granite rocks, with the April sun on them. Childish, but very natural as the Poet observed.
I have just bought out a shilling shocker on English Medieval Literature which I will give you with the author’s compliments – when I get a copy to give.
Med beztu oskum fra ydar einlaegum vini
W P Ker
Reference from W P Ker 29 April 1912
Miss Dorothy Wooldridge attended my lectures when she was reading for her B A degree; she did a considerable amount of work for me beyond what was required, and I believe that I am justified in recommending her strongly as a teacher of English. She is well qualified by her attainments, by her interest in the subject, and by a remarkable talent for engaging the interest of her pupils.
Miss Wooldridge took up Icelandic literature as her special subject, and read a large amount not only of the classical Icelandic prose but also of the very difficult old poetry. The spirit of her work was excellent. and the results obtained were such as to be of great value to a student of literature. I shall be glad to answer all references that may be made to me on behalf of Miss Wooldridge.
professor of English at the
W P Ker later became my father’s godfather and his name heads the list of Dorothy and Hugh’s wedding presents. He gave her amethysts. I wonder if he was perhaps a family friend through her stepfather.
Reference from Prof of French May 2nd 1912
great pleasure in stating that Miss Dorothy Wooldridge attended my lectures on
She took her BA Hon in English with Icelandic as subsidiary subject; she knows German very well, can speak Swedish, and has a fair knowledge of Italian.
She is then admirably equipped for a post where modern languages (including English) would be taught, and would (two illegible words) services in a secondary day-school. She has the great advantage of having lived both in France and Germany and would thus be able to give a thorough idea not only of the language but also of the life and customs of the countries which she knows so well.
I have no doubt that she would be most popular among her pupils and her colleagues and I feel certain she would fill her post with talent and distinction.
of French and of Romana Philology in the
Reference from Prof of German May 2nd 1912
I have much
pleasure in saying that Miss Dorothy Woolridge (sic) has attended several
courses of my Lectures and Classes in German at
?Priebach (Professor of German in the
Reference from the Provost (illegible signature) June 8th 1912
Miss Dorothy Wooldridge entered this college in October 1905 as a student in the Faculty of Arts. During the first year of her course, she read English, French, German, Latin and Roman History and successfully passed the Intermediate Examination in Arts at the end of that Year. She then proceeded to read for the Bachelor of Arts degree, aiming at Honours In English and reading in conjunction therewith History, Icelandic and Celtic languages. Her work throughout her course was creditable and in many ways original and distinctive. She obtained second Class Honours at her degree examination in 1909.
Since then, Miss Wooldridge has been teaching and has been gaining experience in many directions. I hear that her teaching has been successful. She shows sympathy and insight into the work of her pupils. She combines enthusiasm with a considerable degree of judgement and I am satisfied that she will make a thoroughly good teacher. I shall be glad to answer any further enquiries about her.
Dorothy wearing the
dress in which she was presented at
DOROTHYS DRAMATIC PERFORMANCES
In July 1909 Dorothy played two major parts in Scenes from Shakespeare performed in the original pronunciation. In her scrapbook is a letter of congratulation from the director, and two reviews, one from the Observer and one from the Daily Graphic. Neither mention Dorothy by name.
The last of Dorothy’s recorded performances is in May 1910 when she took part in a Chaucerian Entertainment given under the auspices of the Poetry Recital Society with the pronunciation as it was thought to be in the 14th Century. There are two reviews; one from the Morning Post and the other from the Daily Graphic and Dorothy is mentioned in each. In the first we find: “Dressed as the Prioress, Miss D Wooldridge recited part of the Prologue with dainty grace and expression”. The second tells us: “and Miss D Wooldridge, though she showed a deplorable tendency to forget her lines, brought a delightful humour into her rendering of the passages”.
DOROTHY’S CAREER AS A TEACHER
From January 1910 Dorothy taught “literature, needlework, junior
drawing, and elocution” (this from the prospectus) at
The scrapbook contains another letter in childish handwriting which must have been written soon after Dorothy started teaching. It is entitled “An early letter from Ursula” (Dorothy’s youngest half sister) and again has very interesting spelling. It reads:
Dear Do, I hope you are getting on very well. have you sent any children to report themselves since you saw me last. Was Mrs Harvey very anchouse when you did not arrive or did she expect that you had missed the train. Please write to me and tell me all the queschons I have asked.
On Saturday Papa had a tennis party for his studants nobody I knew
I am inclosing a little note to GG please don’t forget to give it to her. With much love from Ursula.
P.S. I am going to write down the little rhimes you asked me to if you want them seperate write and tell me.
Sweet little birds.
They sing me sweet songs
Oh the sweet little birds
The worm it squerls about the grass
And through its body the earth dose pass.
I have four Belstead House magazines, the first for Autumn Term 1909 and the others for the three terms of 1910. They have a special section entitled Chief Events some of which are of historical interest. By Easter Term 1910 Dorothy Wooldridge is listed as a resident teacher and Mrs Walter Ewing Crum features as a visiting mistress for drawing, painting, and sketching. Ella’s sister Emmie lived nearby in Snape at this time and taught gardening; so the school staff included two sisters and their niece.
In the Autumn Term edition is the following: “The elections occupied our thoughts very much. It is our duty to take a very lively interest in our Country at this moment – now that ‘the old order changeth’ is so clearly brought home to us, we ought to notice the signs of the times, and to hear or read the opinions of those engaged in ‘making England’ when we get the chance”.
We are also told “After many rehearsals, the whole school took part in ‘As You Like It’. It was really a wonderful production. Thanks for endless trouble are due to Miss Wooldridge, who taught it…..(She was the stage manager) The dresses were beautifully carried out from Miss Wooldridge’s drawings…. The garden scene was painted by Miss Wooldridge and some of the children … the wood scene by Mrs Crum.
A tiny photo album records a holiday in
I have a teaching reference for Dorothy written by Mrs Hervey (principal
I have much pleasure in testifying to the excellent qualifications of Mrs Hugh Thring for undertaking in the best way the education of children. Mrs Thring taught during the three years she was at my school (Jan 1910 to Dec 1912) the following subjects:- English Literature, and Recitation, Mathematics (Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry), German, Drawing and Needlework.
Her zeal and enthusiasm awakened keen interest in her pupils; added to this she threw herself heartily into all school life socially and intellectually, and helped largely in the character training and development of individual children, winning their warm affection and confidence.
She was very helpful and clear-headed in arranging time tables and organizing things with me for the benefit of the children, and very ready with help and sympathy at all times, with plenty of cheerful resource on difficult occasions.
I feel sure that were Mrs Thring to start a school, parents would have every confidence in her educational and sympathetic training of those put into her charge.
In October 1906 Dorothy started writing poems in a chunky lined exercise
book, and has written on the front cover “My Rhymes”. It is a collection of more than a hundred
poems; the last one written in April 1913.
Some are humorous, some philosophical, some religious, some record a
Our dazed thoughts in a circle go
Why, why, why? Does nobody know
What we are for, or why we live –
Can no one ever an answer give?
Will nobody ever tell us why
We are born, we live and die
Ever the question comes again
‘What is the good?’ is its refrain –
‘Is it worth while to live at all?
Is there no god to hear our call?
No one can tell us, and if they could
Their efforts wouldn’t be any good
For from each separate heart must come
A reason for life – though there are some
Who simply believe what they are told
For them must life seem a path of gold.
On March 16th 1911 she writes a poem “To him I love” which ends:
You’re good, you’re kind, you’re gentle and beloved!
And yet your cruelty eats out my life!
On March 17th 1911 is a sad poem entitled “To Death” and on April 27th there is ‘The Song of the Woman who is Unloved’. The grief culminates on April 30th in this poem called Love:
It is so horrible to be alive
Oh God! The days, the endless long-drawn hours
At night “Would it were day” and all day long
I struggle not to scream “Would it were night!”
Is there no end, Oh God? Are all the powers
Turned to the making of new worlds where strive
In woeful agony undying souls?
Help me at least to fringe my pain all round
With gentleness (if men are made less sad
Thereby) and oh, give me an iron case
Wherein to hide my shrinking, bleeding soul.
I am all pain, and the one thing on earth
That is still sweet is ever-gentle Death.
Oh Death, be merciful and come to me.
By May 1911 she has at least regained her sense of humour and writes as follows:
Pain is my portion:
No one shall know it.
Joy have I never:
None see I forgo it
“Happy she is” they say,
“Happy and cheerful”
So is the inward pain
Rendered less fearful.
In the night watches
Hug I my grief
It is so sharp it brings
Joy: and relief!
Yet thou, God, knowest
How joy would burn
Flesh and soul in one flame
“Through pain you learn”.
Several more very sad poems follow, and then nothing between September 21st and December 17th except for a torn out page. The December 17th poem is as follows:
How real and deep it seemed-
My little sorrow:
When I nor hope nor dreamed
Of a glad morrow.
If I were not so blind
To what comes after,
In all my griefs I’d find
True cause for laughter!
If you are gay, be glad!
And, if you’re weeping
Know: Time swings soon from sad
Backward to sleeping.
On March 11th 1912 follows a poem called ‘Happiness’ and in June an untitled poem talks of “him I love” and her “true love” for him. On 27th November there is a passionate love poem entitled “To my Beloved” and on 29th November is a poem called “The Fourth Dimension”. It ends:
There are greater richer sorrows there; and work that’s music’s soul,
And love, that here we know in part is there a perfect whole.
Her interest in the fourth dimension greatly intrigued my father, who had even invented a fifth dimension long before he read his mother’s poem. The book of poems was given to me (I think by my mother) when I was a child and I always treasured it. My father was unaware that I had the book until I talked to him about it roughly twenty years ago. He was very thrilled to read the poems because he felt they were a direct link to his mother’s thoughts, and I feel the same.
was born on 30th May 1873 in Bradford on
Another of Med’s recollections is as follows: “Once he told me how the Mediterranean Fleet, which had sails and steam, held drill practice on the masts every day, controlled by a megaphone from the shore, and that most days one man fell to his death from the rigging”.
The service record of Hugh’s navy career has phrases in the remarks column such as: promising youngster, zealous, VG physique, great zeal, strongly tipped for advancement, most zealous and tactful.
In 1900 Hugh received a commendation for bravery from the Admiralty for extinguishing a dangerous cordite fire in the magazine of the battleship Revenge. Thanks to his skill as a mathematician he specialised in gunnery. In 1902 he invented one of the first “change of range indicators”. Its purpose was to enable the gunnery officer of a battleship to make speedy calculations concerning the time taken by the ship to move 50 yards, in relation to the change in distance from the target. This ensured more accurate firing of the ship’s guns. A summary of Hugh’s career in the article describing the above instrument contains the following: “described by a contemporary as a “clever, silent, well-informed man”.
Med continues: “he received the Japanese order of the Rising Sun 4th class as he was one of the officers in the British Battleship watching the Russian fleet being sunk by the Japanese at Port Arthur in 1905”. Hugh progressed through postings on various ships and rose upwards through the ranks to become captain by 1911.
Med also tells us: “In about 1911, he was serving as Flag Lieutenant to Lord Charles Beresford, admiral of the channel fleet. I think it was then that he grew a beard as there was not time to shave every day with 4 hour watches. He got on very well with Beresford, but unfortunately at this point Beresford had a quarrel with the first sea lord, Jackie Fisher, who ran the Admiralty with his own nominees so it was called “the Fishpond”. As a protégée of Beresford this ruined my father’s career chances and he resigned in 1912.”. Promotion in the navy at this time very much depended on personal recommendation; by being so strongly linked to Beresford my grandfather felt that his career was completely blocked. As his service record states “specially recommended for promotion by Admiral Rice 1903” and all the remarks on his record are highly complimentary this must have been a big disappointment to him.
Med remembers that when in his teens: “We used to have great discussions over meals, on politics, religion, his voyages, science, psychology etc. My father’s views on politics were quite simple; he divided the powerful into (firstly) politicians; who were only in it for their own benefit, and (secondly), statesmen; who really wanted to improve the lot of the ordinary person. Statesmen were very rare and he did not recognise any at the time.”
Med also says; “My father told me that he had studied the religions of all parts of the world where he had found himself in his naval career. He had reached the definite conclusion that they all had the same idea at base, but that priests had distorted them differently for their own aggrandisement.
He was anxious to get his children to see that there was something deeper in life and wrote a very careful essay on 'intuition’ which he read to us. He also said (following Buddha) ‘believe nothing anybody tells you, not even what I tell you. I only give you material for thinking about.’
He once helped me write an essay on an ideal society for the 6th form debating society at Malvern. I had the greatest admiration for his clear thinking.
Uncle Ernie once said to me that Daddy should have been a ‘don’, and certainly he was deeply interested in the history of trade routes, but he was also interested in the theory of warfare”.
DOROTHY’S MARRIAGE TO HUGH THRING
I know nothing about how Dorothy and Hugh met, nor about their
courtship. However I do have their
original Certificate of Marriage. They
married at St Mary’s Kilburn NW on the 11th January 1913; Dorothy’s
They left for a honeymoon in
to Ella post mark Gstaad (
Ever so many thanks for your letter and present and good wishes. Hugh didn’t forget to give it to me. We had a splendid journey and I slept all the morning and in the afternoon I went ski-running with Hugh. H thinks I can ski quite well and am up to small expeditions. Such a nice pension. Bright weather – no skating – ski running fair.
My very best love to Mrs Hervey and love to all the school and both of our loves to you
To Ella post
mark Gstaad (
Congratulate me please! I can do the Telemark turn!!! I am so pleased with myself. I’m going to attack the Christiana tomorrow. Some ladies friends (sic) of Hugh’s called on me today – I was out, but it was the first time, so I thought it rather a joke.
to Montreux, where we stay the night.
7a.m. – 11.16 p.m. to
Love to Babs and Mrs Hervey.
To Miss Ursula Starling (i.e. her youngest sister), who must have become a pupil at Belstead while Dorothy was teaching there. Postmark as above 5.2.13
sending you two penholders with Bears on them and if they both arrive safe, I
want you to give one of them to GG. Poor
thing, it is tiresome for her to be in quarantine! But I suppose she’ll be out soon now. It is such lovely weather and today for the
first time we are going to skate so we stay another day and travel straight
through from Montreux to
Have you had your 2 photographs?
FAMILY PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM
I have a home made book with lino-printed cover containing photographs
that were possibly put together by one of Dorothy’s sisters for her to take to
HUGH GO TO
honeymoon Dorothy and Hugh went out to
Dorothy wrote only four poems after her marriage. I can only assume that
life was so fulfilling that she no longer felt the urge to write poetry. The poem entitled ‘Written when Hugh was away
Unwrapped warm in your love, I lie and dream
Of the child that is to be.
And I know the calm of the once wild stream
At rest in the infinite sea.
May our sons, O my love, be loyal like you,
And tender, and noble and free;
May our daughters be safe in a love as true
As the love you bear to me.
The very last poem, ‘To my Wanderer’ is another love poem.
and Hugh arrived in Australia Med records that “they bought a cottage at
Eltham a car drive outside
three stories of Hugh’s time in
broke out he sent a lieutenant to take over a German Merchant Ship in
harbour. The lieutenant went to bed in
the captain’s cabin, and in the middle of the night the captain crept in and
started to lift a floorboard. The
lieutenant switched on the light, pointed his revolver, and captured a German
Naval codebook. For the next 3 months
all signals received by the Admiralty in
2. “He made
the first ever use of radio location. The
Dorothy and Hugh outside
3. “In 1919
his last job for the Australian Navy was to write a report to the Australian
Government on the likelihood of
DOROTHY AND HUGHS CHILDREN
They had three children:
Brynhild Wooldridge born 20th November 1913
Meredith Wooldridge born 17th December 1915
Jane Felicity born 15th September 1917
Like many new parents, Dorothy and Hugh kept a large and detailed baby book for their first child. One diary sentence appeals to me: “On Saturday December 20th her Father and Mother took her for the first walk in her perambulator. They went after dinner at about 8 o’clock to a seat they often walked to before she was born, from which they could watch the sky at sunset.” This entry is in Hugh’s writing.
Later in the book are numerous of Bryn’s amusing sayings. This is a selection:
Mother: “You should wipe your mouth with your napkin Bryn, that’s what it’s for”. Bryn: “Then what’s a tongue for?”
“How did you all get big when it takes me such a long time?”
Hugh: “Have you been a good little girl?” Bryn: “No, but I will tomorrow”.
B hits her father on the head with Dutch hoe and D says “If you murder my husband I’ll give you beans!” B: “Oh, do give me some beans because I have murdered Daddy haven’t I?”
Another diary entry from the baby book reads:
B wants to give Med away now she has the wished-for baby sister. She dresses him up, finds him some toys, and gives him to Mr Bird.
Dorothy, holding Jane and with Bryn and Med, outside the house in Eltham
numerous family photographs from this time, mostly taken by Hugh, showing
Dorothy with the children. They all look
very relaxed and happy, and the enthusiastic notes that accompany them for her
family back in
The baby book for Med is physically half the size of the one for Bryn and I am sorry to say that it peters out completely after four sides of fairly basic information. I don’t know if they even started one for Jane but on this evidence I would guess not.
DURING THE TIME IN
Several letters and a post card survive from the Australian period.
(i) From Phyllis Starling to Dorothy Thring Nov 21st 1913 on receiving the news of Bryn’s birth
Address: “At home”
My darling Do
you how we received the LOVELY news- Telegram boy announced his arrival
by loud rat-tat. Phyllis went to the
door – Oh, a telegram for Mrs
With very much love to all the family (Mummy, Papa and the Baby!)
Hugh demonstrating his skills as a “hands-on” father
(ii) From Aunt Ella to the new born Bryn
Saturday Nov 22nd 1913
It was lovely of you to arrive on my birthday – the most beautiful gift in the whole world. And that very day I had been saying and wondering if you could do so delightful a thing. And I think you must have known how much I wanted you to - And you came, and this, perhaps your first letter, is just to tell you, all to yourself, how much I have been longing for a god-daughter, and how much I love her, and how greatly I long to see her, and hold her in my arms. Give your mother and father my love, my darling and many kisses to your tiny self.
Your most loving Aunt Ella
(iii) From Muriel Starling to the new born Bryn
Friday Dec 5th 1913
Please accept this little gift, which is to bring you happiness, not only on your Christening Day, but all your life, if this can be brought about by the many good wishes of your very loving godmother and Aunt, Muriel
(iv) Post card to Mrs Hugh Thring at
From Phyllis Starling at Hotel Concordia ?
Christmas Day (1913)
This is to wish you very very many happy returns of your birthday. I’m only writing a card as Mumu is telling all the news in her letter.
we 3 took the train to
Very best love to all Phil.
on the front of the post card shows Muriel (aged 18), Phyllis (15 or 16) and
Ernest looking very relaxed under a tree and in Phyllis’s hand writing is
written “Lunch by the wayside St Moritz Dec. 22nd 1913.
(v) Extract from a letter from Florence Starling to Dorothy
Nov 20th (1914)
Little Bryn is a year old today and we have not yet seen her! But you and Hugh are having all the pleasure in the world out of her, and she is so thoroughly satisfactory in every way that we just enjoy her through you both. It is delightful to think the little frocks are a success. I thought those embroidered blue and pink ones would be most useful, as no pleat is needed. You know the “first” drawers don’t take much making, just triangles put into a band with a button and buttonhole at bottom of each flap over and one at bottom to fasten between the legs.
splendidly Hugh has done! But our line
is so thin in the West; the French and we and the Belgians have not nearly
enough men, and if it were not for
Aunt Ella kept two of the letters that Dorothy wrote her during the Australian years.
(vi) Eltham May 26 1918
Dearest Aunt Ella
Thank you so much for the sweater you have made for Jane. It will be ever so nice for her, but I think I shall keep it for next winter, as it is nice and big and she has plenty of ordinary woollen coats now which would not be suitable then. It is a very good idea to send the parcels registered to Hugh, we don’t have to pay duty and they come safely. I have just made Bryn some heather-mixture stockings (she has only blue and white ones) and soon I will make her a brown corduroy skirt to go with the green jersey and cap. I think that will look jolly don’t you? I have just got out for her the frock I wore at my Mother’s wedding and it fits her nicely.
I have been making Med 5 or 6 new rompers and I wanted to try one on and he said ‘No, because tiger might come!’ Bryn always says in her prayers ‘and bring the war to an end’. Med insists on saying his and copying her and said ‘ring the water!’ Nurse took Bryn to Sunday school today and taught the babies. She is so nice. Hugh and I went to church.
we went (B and I) to tea at Traills – Mrs Rutter and Mrs Withers too – to say
goodbye to John Traill, 19, soon to leave with the flying corps. I am going to ask Mother to ask him to stay
when he gets leave on landing in
Bryn can now knit a row of plain knitting. Last week I did 5 and half feet of knitting – 7 arm stump socks 9 inches long and part of a stocking for Bryn. This week I have made Bryn a pair of stockings –15-inch legs too.
I have got to have a doing at the dentist’s. I have been twice – never mind, I have better teeth than most Australians half my age!
One morning Med came into our bedroom when his father was at home and I said “Don’t you love darling daddy?” and he said “ I love daddy’s darling bedroom!”
I have been reading Romeo and Juliet to Hugh.
So many thanks for the New Statesman. It is much appreciated. Mrs Latham used to read it too.
Bryn, when I asked her what she thought she was made of, answered “Food”.
With much love from Do
Jane makes funny faces just as the others used.
(vii) From Dorothy to Aunt Ella
Heading: Eltham Vic. Sun Nov 17th 1918
The great event, of course, is the signing of the armistice, about which we are all very happy. I enclose the notice about Hugh’s appointment and a copy of some praise of the admiral.
the children had their second morning’s lessons with Miss Sweeney, this time at
Myamyn Garth, as
Hugh was at home (Sat till Thursday, comes back on Friday morning and joins
Encounter on Monday 25th)
This time the class consisted of 5 as it included Phyllis. The children are learning “Here’s a ball for
baby”, Looby Loo”, “
lately had 3 fine calves, 2 heifers and a bull.
I am not selling any cattle now as they are very low in price, but I
hope they will go up in the autumn and then I will sell them before we come to
get your parcel from me, tell me if you would like another, and what I shall
put in it. Uncle Laurence
has sent some to
Nov 20 Bryn’s and your birthday- but we kept Xmas. Father Xmas came down the dining room chimney and gave the 8 children (Rutter’s, Rouse’s and Thrings and all the grown ups, such a lot of presents). Mrs Rutter, her nurse, Hugh and I had dinner at the veranda table and Boy, David, Bryn and Merry at the little table on the veranda. We had a turkey, but it was so little we had to have a pullet as well. (I killed it, I have now killed 4 ! ! ! With the large axe! ) And plum pudding, and gooseberry fool with strawberries on it, for the children. And a ham.
And the living room was done with Xmas lilies (lilium album multiflorum) like in the photograph on Jane’s christening day and masses of love in the mist and red roses – red, white and blue, of course. And all the children were so happy.
Here follows a long list of all the presents given to Bryn, Merry and herself …. Hugh gave me a tortoiseshell and silver hair brush, scrumptious, and a light wheelbarrow in which father Xmas had his bundles. It was draped with the printed voile dress lengths which he gave the 3 girls
And the English mail (two of them) came in today and a nice letter from John, which is unusual for me, as well as 2 each from the regulars!
And we had high tea at 6 because dinner was so late and Bryn and Boy stayed up and we had ham and Xmas cake and cherries and lollies, and scone (hot) and cakes. And when it was dark we went out and had a bonfire and left the 3 youngest in the house; we sang all the songs and hymns and carols we could think of and danced Sir Roger and the Swedish by the light of the bonfire! And that’s all! And Hugh is waiting for me to go to bed! I do wish you could have some of the lovely fat cherries I am eating now!
Sun. Hugh and I went up to town on Thursday and he came to tea at the Lyceum and so did Mr Stead and then he went to the office to find they’d been looking for him all over the place, the Encounter had gone and he was to follow her to Sydney on Friday and sail immediately for Samoa, cutting enclosed to explain why.
Much love from Do.
There are in
fact three cuttings, one which states that Captain Walter H C S Thring RAN
has been appointed from the Navy Office,
In a paper
written later by Hugh about this episode and entitled – “Naval Operations in
the Pacific in 1914 An Australian Point of View” he says “six weeks were
lost over the
Dorothy, as a naval wife, must have spent much time on her own. She seems to have become a keen keeper of
livestock, which she followed up on a smaller scale on her return to
this extraordinary as she was born and brought up in
memoir, written when she was 90, contains an extract from a letter written by
Hugh in 1914 while he was in
“ I had a visit yesterday from a Mrs Davy, a fine looking woman of 70,
who reminded me strongly of father. Her
maiden name was Thring, and she came to
THE RETURN TO
In Hugh’s own
words concerning the end of the time in
“In 1919 he
(i.e. Hugh) came
Hugh (centre) on board ship
“When we first came over we lived with my mother’s mother and step-father (Prof
Ernest Starling) in
The only other
photographs from this time are three of Jane with Granny Florence, several of
the children and Dorothy in the garden in Blackheath, and four of Bryn and Med
on a holiday at Over Woolacombe Farm in
letters remain from the time in
Hugh Thring to Ella Crum 25th June 1919
From Brechfa S Wales
My dear Aunt Ella
I am very much touched by all you say in your letter to Do. It is good to be received so heartily into your family, you have all been very kind to me but to yourself in particular I owe a great debt of gratitude for your many acts of kindness and in particular for the very happy time we spent with you at Aldeburgh.
I hope I
may not be very long away this time and that we shall ultimately be able to
settle down happily in
the whole world is in such a state of unrest that the making of very definite
plans is not practicable but we have our dreams of a happy life together in
The children are all that we could wish and we hope to be able to bring them up well.
of my ship has been postponed until Monday so we are staying on here until Saturday when Do and Med will
Do is not quite strong yet and I hope she will be able to rest quietly and get quite well after I am gone.
I hope the time may not be long until we meet again.
Yours very lovingly Hugh Thring.
I’m not sure what the reference to “not quite strong yet” means but a cousin tells me that her mother always said that Dorothy’s health was ruined by the strain of having sole responsibility for three very young children on the six week sea journey from Australia. This however, seems to me to be doubtful.
Bryn, Jane and Med in the boat their father made them
Aunt Ella’s visitors’ book, which records all her visitors from 1906, when she moved to Aldeburgh, up to 1939, confirms that Hugh and Dorothy stayed with her from May 19th to June 4th 1919 soon after their return. In the 33 years covered by the visitors’ book Aunt Ella entertained literally hundreds of friends and relatives. However it must have been pure pleasure for her as she had a cook, parlour maid and house maid to do all the work! It is fascinating to see the signatures of so many relatives. There are even early scrawls by Med one of which reads MEDBY. He obtained his nick-name because he was first of all called Merry, from his full first name Meredith. Bryn turned this into Meddy and it was then shortened to Med. He was known as Med for the rest of his life.
From Dorothy Wooldridge to Bryn just dated Sat.
Address Eliot Vale Blackheath
Our hen only has 2 chickens, we are so disappointed, because she sat so beautifully!
We spent the morning in the garden, planting and sowing.
With love to Aunt Ella
Ever your loving Mother
Letter from Dorothy Wooldridge to Bryn Thring Feb 18th
Address: 14 Eliot Vale S E 3
My darling Brynny
Yesterday I went into the garden and planted some bulbs into pots, 2 pots each of snowdrops and crocuses (in bud) one each for Med and Happy and 2 for me and three bulbs in a pot for you which should develop when you come home. I don’t know what they are, it will be exciting to see.
Did I tell you we have made you two new frocks, a government silk one, blue and green, and a rosy cretonne, very pretty.
We are soon going to make a sand heap in the garden, probably next week.
I send you a plait of sewing cotton to keep in your workbox; I hope you will find it useful.
We are all learning Italian. Happy thinks it a great joke; she is also learning to make letters on the blackboard and Med is learning script. He can nearly read now.
What a nice letter and what fun you had at the fancy dress party.
Dear love, Mother
From Dorothy to Bryn May 23 1922
Address: Eliot Vale, Blackheath, S E
In Bryn’s writing top left “Delivered at Mill Edge 1922”
The Hiawatha is at grandpapas, Daddy can get it when he goes there. I took it up for a reading book for Meddie.
Daddy and I were very pleased with your two nice letters, you used not to tell us so much at Godstowe, but it makes a big difference having Granny. She is very good to write so much. You are having a lovely time aren’t you?
I do so want a hammock and Daddy is going to see if he can make one out of some old stair carpet, with Elsie’s help. Miss Macey is staying on here to look after the house and the children (for Med is coming home on Thursday) and then she will be able to look after me when I come out, so I may be able to come out a week sooner than if I didn’t have a nurse.
I sent Med’s white sailor suit to John Michael Gordon Smith, do you remember him? His mother said it was just what she needed.
Auntie Violet is going to have an operation on the 29th, I wonder which of us will be well first?
We have given you an apple tree and it has flowered beautifully. Daddy says the blossom is like me! I am glad you are going to have a garden of your own, you have one here and it is sown all round with nasturtiums, but they haven’t come up yet. It is splendid that you have such a chance of learning French.
Med is going to sleep in my bed, as he and Happy get into mischief when they are together and wake each other up.
Ever so much love, darling, from us both.
Your very loving Mother
Tragically this was possibly the last letter that Dorothy wrote.
Med takes up
the story again. “1922 was the
disaster year for my Father. My Mother,
to whom he was totally devoted, died of an embolism during an operation for
removal of cancer in the bowel by the top surgeon
In 1921 Edward
Geddes was appointed to chair a committee on government expenditure. Its report came out in February 1922 and
resulted in cuts in the army, navy, education and public health. These cuts were known as the Geddes Axe and
as a result of them Hugh lost his job.
In his own words “This office was done away with in the economies of
1922 Offered unimportant job in
Med continues: “My father was heartbroken at the death of my Mother. I can remember seeing him pacing in the garden, struggling to come to terms with the end of his short 9-year period of real happiness. When he died I found a piece of paper which he carried in his wallet:
3rd June 1922
All is right.
There is no cause for mourning.
We can best make her happy by being happy ourselves
Love one another and keep her loving memory bright.
Don’t worry about trying to understand the future life, remember it’s all right.
(I cannot read the last line but I think it says “Don’t be an idiot.)”
The death certificate shows the place of death as
1. Intestinal obstruction 9 months 2. Pulmonary embolism. The death was certified by E H Starling MRCS (her stepfather). The name and residence of the informant is Ernest Thring, brother in law, 9 Bessborough Gardens SW1 i.e. Hugh’s youngest brother.
I have a letter Hugh wrote to Bryn a year later:
From Hugh Thring to Bryn 30 May 1923
From: Fox and Hounds Hotel
My darling Brynnie
Thank you very much for your sweet little letter and for the birthday shield with its good wishes.
It is very pretty and beautifully done, did you design it yourself?
Your letter too was very nicely written, it is so much better to get into the way of writing well when you are young. I had to try to improve my writing after I had grown up and I have never made a great success of it.
This is a day of sad memories; this day last year I saw your darling mother alive for the last time. We cannot help being sorry that we no longer have her sweet presence with us and her help in our daily affairs but we can be quite sure that all is well with her and we can be thankful that she has no longer to suffer pain.
leaving here tomorrow but shall stay one night in
The weather has been very cold and rather wet all the time I have been here but I think my stay has done me good. I like to get out by myself on the desolate moor. I have caught a few fish on each day I have been out and on Saturday they were really rising for two or three hours. I caught thirty that day. Yes, I eat some of those I catch.
I have had this hotel to myself most of the time, as people do not come here until the summer,
I’m afraid there is no chance of my coming to Aldeburgh for the half term, much as I would like to see you and Aunt Ella, to whom please give my love.
Ever your loving Daddy.
Aunt Ella kept
a letter written to her sister Emmeline by the “old friend with whom Dorothy
Twelve years later on the occasion of her 21st birthday Bryn received the following letter. It makes a very poignant ending to this memoir of Dorothy’s life. Irene Dukes features on Dorothy and Hughes’ wedding present list and gave Chinese embroidery.
From Irene Dukes to Bryn Thring November 18th 1934
It is a great occasion! Perhaps you will be at home for it. Anyway my very best wishes for the day and a happy future.
I’m putting in one or two tokens, the little “Tub” was a keep sake from Do in the last year, and the “Sonnets” were for our joint coming of age, (also) the photo in case you haven’t it already (though I expect you have), such a jolly likeness of you both! Some time when we meet I’ll give you one or two of her letters, though I’ve been too much a wanderer to keep many relics – I wish I had more.
We had a glorious coming-of-age party in West End Lane –(Mrs Starling so kindly including me as mine was just after) – Dorothy was the most radiant witty creature – I suppose it should be some consolation that she got more sparkling fun and happiness into her 30 – odd years than the rest do into threescore-and-ten, but how you would all have adored her!
Love and best wishes – to Hugh, too, when you write, Irene
I knew my
maternal grandmother well; but Dorothy was the grandmother I never met. In fact her own children only knew her as a
loving mother and didn’t know her on adult terms, as they were only 8, 6 and 4
when she died. They must have had very happy memories of their early childhood
but they could not have appreciated her skills, talents and intelligence as an
In summary of my grandfather’s life the following is an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography:
THRING, WALTER HUGH CHARLES SAMUEL (1873-1949), naval officer, was born on
30 May 1873 at Bradford,
the Australian Naval Board was looking for a gunnery expert as assistant to the
first naval member, Rear Admiral Sir William Creswell,
and in December Thring accepted the appointment to the Royal Australian Navy.
On 11 January 1913 at St Mary's Church, Kilburn,
on the priority of eliminating German warships in the Pacific, Thring had
successfully pressed the Naval Board to take precautionary steps on the eve of
war; on 4 August he secured his minister's support for a request to the
Admiralty to change the war orders of the battle-cruiser H.M.A.S. Australia.
The result was the speedy appearance of Australian warships in Rabaul harbour.
Frustrated by orders from
Acting second naval member for three months from October 1914, Thring was promoted captain and appointed director of (naval) ordnance from January 1915. As director of war staff he became the genius of whatever wartime autonomy the Naval Board preserved. In the Navy Office A. W. Jose was required to analyse the history of the R.A.N.'s wartime operations. He and Thring prepared for Prime Minister W. M. Hughes the navy's views on post-war naval policy in the Pacific.
collection of Pacific naval intelligence continued and an expansion of naval
censorship and counter-intelligence work led to conflicts with other
surveillance organizations. In March 1918 the head of the Counter Espionage
Bureau, (Sir) George
Steward, complained that—according to Admiral Creswell—'practically
the whole of the administrative work of the Commonwealth Navy had been and was
being carried out by Captain Thring'. Before Lord Jellicoe arrived in
Routine tasks were found for him in
Hugh Thring in later life
THE CAREERS OF DOROTHY’S CHILDREN
obtained first class honours degrees from
Bryn worked first as an employment supervisor at Ever Ready, then at the Board of Trade and briefly at the Treasury. After the death of her great aunt, Ella Crum, she had enough income to stop work and lived modestly in Kingston Surrey. After Bryn’s death we discovered that she could in fact have afforded to look after herself much better than she did.
first for two different research organisations and then became a Professor,
In addition to
MARGARET SULLIVAN – MY MOTHER’S MOTHER
IMPORTANT DATES IN THE LIFE OF MARGARET SULLIVAN:
Her mother was Margaret Simpson born about 1859
Her father was William Sullivan born about 1859
They married in 1881
Margaret was born 8th March 1882
Her known siblings were:
John born about 1887
Maurice born about 1889
William born about 1891 but probably died very young
Emily born about 1897
Another William born about 1899
Margaret Sullivan married Robert Hooley (born 14th September 1883) on 16th April 1906
His mother was Ann Pearmain born 1858
His father was Henry Hooley born 1850
They had 3 children:
Alice Margaret Ann Hooley was born 28th February 1907
Ralph Hooley was born 13th October 1912
Donald Rowland Hooley was born 28th September 1924
Margaret Sullivan died in 1954
MY MEMORIES OF MY MATERNAL GRANDPARENTS
My grandmother was slim and of
medium height with very dark brown hair; snowy white by the time I knew
her. She was 60 when I was born but was
vigorous and active to the end of her life.
My first memory of her is of having my face vigorously and painfully
scrubbed with a damp flannel before leaving the house. Appearances were very important to her; no
grandchild of hers was going to go out with even a speck of dirt on her
face. If my grandmother was staying with
us it was very important to be a proper “little lady” and always to wear a hat
when out of doors. Please note the
photograph on the next page, in which she is paddling in the sea wearing a
smart hat. I also have a photograph
taken when she lived with us in
I remember that I had a ghastly knitted beret in fair-isle pattern. My grandma had a habit of pulling this beret sideways over one of my eyes, which she obviously thought looked good, but which I hated with a passion. The photograph on the next page shows my beret at exactly the weird angle that I remember, and indeed I do look ridiculous. To this day I am loath to wear a hat of any description. For some reason John’s beret looks less strange; perhaps he adjusted its position.
My mother, grandfather and grandma on holiday in
My mother, Uncle Don, John and I out for a walk in
Another early memory is of
going to stay with my “grandma” on my own in Woodford (
At the back of my grandparent’s kitchen was a scullery with a built in copper in the corner. Early every Monday morning the fire beneath the copper was lit in preparation for the week’s wash. A copper held about twenty gallons of water and was a safer and speedier way of washing than boiling up the water on the range. The scullery was also equipped with a ribbed glass washboard on which the soaped, dampened clothes were rubbed to remove stains before going into the copper. Most of the wash was cotton or linen and could stand this rough treatment. “ Whites” went into the copper first, were removed and followed by the “coloureds”. Any silk or woollen items were washed by hand. After coming out of the copper everything had to be rinsed several times with cold water in the large square porcelain sink. Starching, to add stiffness, and adding Reckitt’s “blue” to prevent a yellow tinge imparted by the soap, were other parts of the process at this stage. Then after a wringing by hand, the water was removed from the washing using an enormous mangle with a handle. My grandmother turned the handle, which caused the rollers to rotate, and I was allowed to feed the clothes between the rollers, which squeezed the water out of the clothes extremely efficiently. The trick was not to get your fingers in the way of the rollers. I remember that I enjoyed working with her, and the feeling of being useful; however I suspect that she would have managed just as well without me. I thank my lucky stars that we now have washing machines and easy care fabrics.
Once the washing had been dried in the garden, or on wooden airers indoors, it had to be dampened and rolled up ready for ironing next day. The ironing was done with a collection of flat irons, which were heated by standing them flat on the black leaded cast iron cooking range. My grandmother’s flat irons were given to me and I believe that they belonged to her own mother. I have a memory of her showing me how to spit on your finger and then touch the wet finger on the base of the iron. The amount of sizzling allowed her to judge expertly the exact temperature of the iron, and she never seemed to burn her fingers. She always ironed the linen first, then the cotton, and the silk last as the iron was cooling down. Naturally there were several irons in circulation. If the iron was too hot disaster ensued. The last part of the laundering process was careful airing on the wooden airers. The Victorians greatly feared illness as a result of wearing damp clothes. TB and rheumatic fever were rife and damp conditions were thought to be causative factors for both of these illnesses. I was brought up to fear wearing damp clothes and always to dry myself meticulously after bathing.
Monday lunch was always cold meat left from the Sunday joint, accompanied by “bubble and squeak” fried up from the cold potatoes and cabbage also remaining from Sunday. It now seems extraordinary to me that my grandmother in the 1940s was still cooking on her old range and using her flat irons, when at home we had a gas cooker and an electric iron. However I guess that she felt comfortable with the Victorian appliances she used earlier in life, and may even have mistrusted more modern equipment.
The medium sized back garden was the province of my grand-dad and was immaculate; he was an expert and knowledgeable gardener. He was very keen on dahlias and I remember watching him dig up the dahlia tubers in the autumn to store them in sturdy wooden boxes under the stairs for the winter. My only other memory of him is of being shown his cigarette papers and tobacco tin and how to roll a cigarette. To go back to the dahlias: if my grandmother heard a horse and delivery cart coming up the street (a reasonably frequent occurrence) she would peek through her lace curtains to see if the horse had left anything useful for the dahlias. If the dahlias were lucky she would quietly sneak out with her bucket and shovel and carry the dung through the house to the back garden. I guess that in this particular case her wish to keep up appearances was subservient to her wish to do what her husband wanted – they were a very devoted couple. My grandfather was a skilled carpenter and had made much of their handsome furniture. I remember that he had an upstairs workshop in the Woodford house and that he had to be careful not to tread the sawdust and wood shavings up and down the stair carpet.
My grandmother had a venerable Singer treadle sewing machine on which I learned to sew. I can remember her showing me various sewing techniques; in particular how to hand sew three parallel rows of gathering stitches, pull them up to the required length and then wind the threads around a pin to fix them. She would then even out the gathers by carefully stroking them with another pin before stitching them in place. She also showed me how to fold and pleat material firmly when making a straight hem in order to avoid using tacking stitches or pins. I learned from the censuses only recently that her mother had been a tailor’s assistant and, that before her marriage at the age of 23, my grandmother herself had worked as a collar turner.
My grandma was a speedy and
skilful knitter and used to make balaclava helmets and warm mittens for us to
wear when out sledging – the winters in
Margaret Sullivan loved the old
music hall songs and sang to me, among others,
“Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do”, “He was a dear little dicky bird,
tweet tweet tweet he went”, and “Oh what a surprise, two lovely black eyes”. I can also remember her singing “the galloping
major” to Rob when he was a toddler while bouncing him up and down on her
outstretched lower leg. These
songs are all very tuneful, while some are histrionic and some very
sentimental. They must have been the pop
songs of their day and many of them encapsulate the typically cheeky
My grandmother was keen on wise little maxims, many of which I still regularly recite to myself and even try to follow! However there was one that, even as a child, I found inexplicable and unpalatable. The offending one was “Be good sweet maid and let who will be clever”. This seems to be the Victorian implication that only women had to be good and only men were allowed to be clever. The other annoying Victorian saying that used occasionally to be quoted to us by our parents, I think with tongue in cheek, was “Children should be seen and not heard”. The wise sayings I remember are: “Moderation in all things”, “A place for everything and everything in its place”, “One good turn deserves another” and “Look to the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you”. My mother told me that my grandmother used to tell her in her youth “Never be a door mat”.
My grandma was a skilled cook.
She used to make melt-in-your-mouth
It was not until many years
after my mother’s death that I realized that we knew almost nothing about her
grandparents. In fact I think that my
mother herself knew nothing about them.
They were never mentioned and at the time it did not occur to me that
this was strange. The only thing my mother did tell us was that her father’s
father had died young, and that after this some rich friends had adopted her
father’s brother (her uncle), and that he was never seen again. I was not told his name. Her father missed his brother for the rest of
his life. Her father was still in touch with his sister Ivy, who lived in
Census records and birth,
marriage and death certificates reveal bare details about the lives of my
mother’s antecedents but there is none of the documentation that brought to
life the facts about my father’s ancestors.
Both my maternal grandparents were born and brought up in the East End of
London and so probably were true Cockneys.
Interestingly they seemed to change address fairly frequently; I suppose
that they were in rented accommodation and circumstance obliged them to move. Sometimes they only moved up the road and
usually stayed in close proximity to the old address. Most of the addresses are
in the St George in the East district immediately to the East of the
LIFE IN THE EAST END IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
In the 1840s the railway came
to the East End of London and “comfortably prosperous company clerks, minor
civil servants and dockyard officials moved out of East London rather than see
their houses covered with grime and soot.……The withdrawal of these white-collar
workers confirmed the character of the East End as a dormitory for the manual labouring
class. At the same time the railways and
steamers made it possible for more and more outsiders to come to
The Reverend Harry Jones
wrote the following about living in
poverty maps codify all the areas of
THE FAMILY BACKGROUND OF MARGARET SULLIVAN
The family tree for my mother
(page 101) compiled from the census records shows that her late 18th
century paternal great grandparents came from
are untraceable because there
were so many William Sullivans in
Margaret Sullivan’s father
William was born in
THE FAMILY BACKGROUND OF ROBERT HOOLEY
A family legend told us that
Robert Hooley’s father was an officer in the Indian army who died young.
However although the army officer story was true, research showed that the
officer was from several generations earlier and that he was in the British
rather than the Indian army. My Uncle
Don showed me a certificate dated 1739 for a certain “Trusty and Welbeloved
Robert Hooley Gent” appointing him as an Ensign to the 15th Regiment
of Foot commanded by Major General Harrison.
An Ensign was a commissioned officer who carried the ensign or flag of a
company or regiment. It was abolished as
a rank in 1871. At this time a
commission had to be purchased and it cost £400 to gain the rank of
ensign. Robert Hooley became a Lieutenant
on 10th April 1741, a Capt-Lieutenant on 25th December
1741 and a Captain on 22nd June 1745. He retired on half pay on 9th
April 1748. He served in the
My grandfather Robert Hooley’s grandfather George (who was either the grandson or great grandson of the 1739 soldier Robert) was born in Marylebone London in 1790 and in later life was a carpenter. He married Isabella Day in 1831 and their son Henry was born in 1850.
By the time of the 1881 census
Henry Hooley was living at the Two Chairmen in South Bruton Mews, close to
Henry’s wife Ann Pearmain was
MARGARET SULLIVAN’S EARLY LIFE
My mother told me that Margaret Sullivan was the eldest of ten children and had to work hard looking after her younger siblings. The two relevant censuses do not show as many as ten children although the name William is repeated; probably the first recipient of the name died young. I am guessing that several babies or very young children died between the 1891 and 1901 census checks. It is also possible that more babies were born after the 1901 census. Margaret must have had in depth knowledge of baby care.
The Education Act of 1880 enforced compulsory education for children aged 5 to 10 years. I imagine that from the age of 10 my grandmother was employed caring for her below school age siblings while her mother was at work as a tailor’s machinist. At least by this time all children had the chance of some education.
My feeling is that Margaret
Sullivan firmly put her
ROBERT HOOLEY’S EARLY LIFE
Before their marriage Robert’s parents both worked in pubs, he as a barman, and she as the servant to a female “licensed victualler” who was a widow. This widow later remarried and had a baby son who died. After the death of Robert’s father from pleuro-pneumonia the widow and her second husband adopted Robert’s brother Ralph. My guess is that Mary and Rowland Tidder (i.e. the widow and her second husband) adopted Ralph for two reasons; partly to help Ann in her straitened situation and partly to replace their own lost boy. Ralph was the middle child of Henry and Ann Hooley, and was three when his father died. The youngest child was a baby girl only a few months old. As far as I know my grandfather Robert did not see his brother Ralph after the adoption. 
Another look at the 1891 census
shows the widowed Ann Hooley aged 31 working as a laundress and living with
Robert aged 7, Alice (Ivy) aged 3 and her aunt Ann Pearmain, a retired nurse.
Sadly Ann Hooley died of TB at the age of 40 in 1899. TB was an illness that was prevalent among
laundresses; they spent a lot of time in cold, damp conditions. The 1901 census shows that Ann Hooley’s
mother, Maria Pearmain aged 61, came to the rescue and moved into the house
Robert’s childhood must have been very unsettled. His father died when he was 5 and his mother when he 16. At least his grandmother cared him for after the death of his mother; many orphaned Victorian East End children were just abandoned and lived on the streets. My mother told me that Robert was absolutely devoted to his sister and always very protective of her, and that he always talked of his lost brother with great affection and regret.
Robert must have benefited from
elementary education and we know that at the age of 17 he was working as a
warehouseman. When he was 20 Robert
Hooley joined the Metropolitan Police as a beat constable in J (or Hackney)
division. This area included the docks
and he would have had to cope with some very tough situations, including the
dock strike of 1912. His joining papers
(which I was able to see at the National Archive in
THE MARRIED LIFE OF MARGARET SULLIVAN AND ROBERT HOOLEY
In his very old age, well after
my mother’s death, my father told me that when Margaret Sullivan, brought up as
a Catholic, married Robert Hooley, a Protestant, her family cast her off .
However there was a William Sullivan as a witness on her marriage certificate
and my uncle Don can remember being taken by his mother to see relatives in an
East End street in which years before a riot had happened. In 1901 the Sullivans were living in
After their marriage Margaret
and Robert lived at
By 1919 I surmise Margaret and
Robert had already moved to Woodford. I
have a Sunday School prize of my mothers dated 1919 and inscribed, “Awarded to
Alice Hooley May 1919 South Woodford Congregational Sunday School”. Incidentally, although she was probably named
after her father’s sister and her first name was
Please note the beautiful ringlets my mother is sporting in both the photographs on the next page. My grandmother once rolled up my very straight hair in strips of torn sheet to achieve this ringlet effect, but neither my mother nor I was keen on the results, and the experiment was not repeated. In addition it was necessary to sleep with the “curl rags” in place, which was extraordinarily uncomfortable. The second photograph is in postcard format and was probably taken by a passing professional photographer.
My mother aged three or four
My mother aged five or six
Robert retired from the police
with a full pension in 1929 at the age of 45. I am told that his colleagues
liked him so much that when he was struggling with arthritis towards the end of
his police career they used to cover for him and help him out. The police retirement form bizarrely contains
not only a description of my grandfather but also of my grandmother. His description is as before, except that he
has grown by an inch, and is now 5 feet 11 inches tall. Her description says that she is 5 feet 7
inches tall with dark brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. It seems that neither of them was
mal-nourished in childhood in spite of their
The earliest photographs of
Margaret and Robert are in a small notated photograph album of my mother’s,
which records holidays and outings from 1921 to 1926. There were seaside family holidays in
My mother and grandfather on holiday in
My uncle reports that Margaret
and Robert had very close friends called Albert and Mabel Anderson with whom
they went on holiday every year. Albert
worked for the Great Western Railway at Paddington. They and their daughter
Eileen feature in the holiday snaps. I
remember my mother talking often of “Auntie Mabel and Uncle Albert”. It was the custom in those days to bestow an
honorary “aunt or uncle-ship” on the friends of your parents. The album also
contains records of yearly visits to Burnham, which look very jolly and seem to
be church youth club outings. 1926 has the ubiquitous open charabanc
photograph with my mother in the middle of a crowd of people in Shanklin on the
I remember my mother saying that Margaret was extremely strict with her when she was in her teens. My mother was forbidden to wear make-up even when she was about 19 and told me that she used to sneak her make-up out of the house and put it on in the street round the corner. Her apparel and behaviour were also strictly supervised. She was much more liberal with me, her only daughter, and not only purchased my first make-up for me but also gave me a dress allowance when I was about 14 so that I could choose my own clothes.
Having looked after so many of her baby siblings in such a short time when she was growing up, my grandmother’s own family was very different. My mother was born early in their marriage. Ralph was born when my mother was five and a half and then Don when my mother was eighteen.
My grandmother holding Don “in the garden in 1925”
A photograph in the book shows
my mother also holding the baby Don in 1925; she looks relaxed and happy. I don’t think that she ever felt that her
nose was put out of joint by the late arrival of siblings. The only thing she did envy was the superior
education that Ralph and Don both had.
Ralph won an open scholarship to
My grandfather died in 1949 at the age of 66. My father said that in later life Robert’s crippling arthritis was treated with gold injections, and that it was this pioneering treatment which led to his early death.
It is good to know that
Margaret and Robert had a secure and happy later life after the tough childhood
they had in the
MARGARET SULLIVAN’S WIDOWHOOD
After the funeral of Robert Hooley, when I was seven, I was dispatched on my own to stay with my grandmother. I suppose that looking after me was supposed to give her something to occupy her and distract her from her bereavement. My grandmother was very kind and loving but the house was extremely quiet and full of dark heavy Victorian furniture and it was obviously not a very jolly time. I can remember that whenever we went out someone would come up to my grandmother to give their condolences and that I had to stand quietly and wait ‘til they had finished. I am never very patient when hanging around with nothing to do, and I still recall my feelings of extreme tedium. I must have stayed with my grandmother for a week or so and I can remember that at the beginning of this stay I was told that if the weather was fine we would go to the cemetery on Sunday to put some flowers on the grave. The thought of this treat in store terrified me, but I didn’t like to confess to this. I prayed every day for rain, but when Sunday came the weather was dry, and off we went. Needless to say the cemetery turned out to be perfectly acceptable and not the terrifying experience I was expecting, but I was greatly relieved when the visit was over.
When we moved from
Grandma, Dad, Mum holding Rob, me, John, and far right, Great-Aunt Annie in about 1950.
The above photograph was taken
before my grandmother came to live with us.
She came on holiday with us to
Margaret Sullivan died in
The Victorians lived through enormous social, industrial, mechanical and political change and the relevance of the political change to my relatives’ lives are intriguing. There is enlightened thinking concerning the education of the Victorian females among my father’s relatives; his great aunt Mary Meredith was sent away to boarding school and his aunts in both the Thring and Sieveking families had good early education which allowed them to go on to further education. My mother’s mother left school at the age of twelve but at least the Education Act of 1880 meant that she and her husband were some of the first to benefit from universal compulsory schooling. The Poor Law of 1834, which proposed the establishment of workhouses, affected John Charles Thring directly as in later-life he was employed as chaplain to the Bradford On Avon workhouse. In 1839 her brother, who was curate to a nearby church, took Lydia Dyer to visit a union house (another name for work house) in Yeovil. Her reactions are of interest. As this establishment was only opened in 1837 she must have been one of their earliest visitors.
The amount of continental travel managed by many of my Victorian relatives was a surprise. The advent of the railways obviously helped, but some of the journeys must still have been lengthy, tedious and on occasion dangerous; as evidenced in Ella Sievekings travel diary when a strap broke on the coach and “Mama was frightened”. The dangers of horse-drawn travel also feature in Lydia Meredith’s memoirs; she documents that the back of the trap broke, she and her nurse were thrown out, and she was nearly trampled by the frightened horse. She had another exciting adventure with a horse which bolted. However she doesn’t seem to have been discouraged from riding.
of the Sieveking name my father always used to say that he supposed “that it
had a Viking origin”. As a child I found
this romantic. It was therefore
astonishing to discover the German origin of the Sieveking family. Although Florence Sieveking and her father
were born and brought up in
I did not know
that Edward Sieveking was an eminent physician when I started looking into the
family history. Indeed I knew nothing of
The health, lack of health, and medical practice in Victorian times, are absorbing themes. There does seem to have been a strain of hypochondria running from Lydia Dyer and then through the Thring family but it is possible that I have made too much of this when reading the letters. With high mortality among children in Victorian times it is natural that a mother should worry about the health of a daughter when separated from her. It is also possible that Lydia Dyer lost very young children who have not shown up in the records and therefore was particularly worried about the health of her two surviving children. However she also seems to worry considerably about her own health. The interesting prescriptions mentioned by Edward Sieveking in his medical diaries when he was physician to the Prince and Princess of Wales were fascinating.
The details of the setting up of a county constabulary by Samuel Meredith as first chief constable of Wiltshire were another revelation. Also in the policing line was my mother’s father who was a beat constable in the London Metropolitan police for twenty-five years. He must have had some thought-provoking stories to tell but unfortunately I was too young when he died to have heard any of them. His early experiences and the naval career of Hugh Thring were also of notice.
There were a number of reverend gentlemen in the Thring family and at least one in the Dyer family. Religion was so obviously at the forefront of Victorian minds and although some of the religious sentiments in the letters seem over-pious to my modern eyes I recognize that it is important to try to accept them in the context of the time. The enormously strong influence of Victorian religion on all members of the Thring, Meredith and Sieveking families is evident from the various religious books, missals and tracts that have survived.
The census details about the number of servants of my father’s ancestors and the size and comparative luxury of the houses they inhabited were an insight into their way of life. Ella Sieveking had the same servants for many years but the others didn’t seem to keep the same employees from one census to the next! However this could have been the normal way of things.
Interestingly both Edward and Jane Sieveking, and
I am extremely happy to feel that I now have some insight into my father’s mother as a personality. My father was only six when his mother died and his own father later remarried to a woman who was very jealous of her predecessor. I think that for these reasons my father didn’t hear his mother talked about and therefore knew very little about her. He certainly never spoke of her to us. Luckily, enough documentation survived to give a picture of her as a delightful person. I did not have access to most of this documentation until first my aunt Bryn and then my father died.
As far as my
mother’s family goes the fact that in Victorian times they lived in the East
End was a complete surprise and of great interest. It is strange to think that at exactly the
same time that some of my father’s ancestors were living in affluence in
Census records show Hooleys and Sullivans living in the East End of London in
the middle and later 1800s it is clear from the addresses and from study of the
Booth’s London Poverty Map that none of the families lived in the destitute
areas. It is also clear from the
behaviour of my grandmother that keeping up appearances was of extreme
importance to some
Finally, thanks to clever detective work on the part of my friend, it was a great thrill to discover my mother’s “lost uncle”. I await with anticipation the release of the 1911 census records and greatly hope that he will be traceable in these.
MY MOTHER’S MOTHER’S TIME LINE - MARGARET SULLIVAN
MY MOTHER’S FATHER’S TIME LINE - ROBERT HOOLEY
George Robert Hooley (his father’s father) born
Isabella Day (his father’s mother) born in
1825 FIRST PASSENGER STEAM TRAIN IN
1829 ACT OF PARLIAMENT TO CREATE A POLICE FORCE FOR
19th May 1831
Isabella Day marries George Robert Hooley (his grandparents)
Octavius Clark Simpson (her mother’s father)
Jane ? (her mother’s mother ) born in Middlesex. Marriage date not known
Maria Pearmain (his mother’s mother) born in
15th Sept 1850
Henry Hooley (his father) born (Marriage date of his parents not known)
1840 PENNY POST INTRODUCED
1851 GREAT EXHIBITION AT
William Sullivan (her father) born
Margaret Simpson ( her mother) born
Ann Pearmain (his mother) born in
1871 CHARLES DARWIN PUBLISHES THE ASCENT OF MAN
1878 WILLIAM BOOTH FOUNDS THE SALVATION ARMY
1880 EDUCATION ACT for compulsory schooling up to the age of 10
William Sullivan marries Margaret Simpson (her parents)
Rowland Tidder marries Mary Newton
8th March 1882
Margaret Elizabeth Sullivan born (my grandmother)
20th Feb 1883
Henry Hooley marries Ann Pearmain ( his parents)
14th Sept 1883
Robert Henry Hooley born (my grandfather)
Ralph Rowland Hooley (his brother) born
Alice Ivy Hooley (his sister) born
Henry Hooley (his father) dies
Ralph Rowland Hooley adopted by Mary and Rowland Tidder
1901 22nd JANUARY QUEEN
16th April 1906 Margaret Sullivan marries Robert Hooley
FIRST WORLD WAR STARTS ON 4th Aug 1914. IT ENDS ON 11th NOV 1918
1926 FIRST PUBLIC RADIO BROADCASTS IN
1926 3rd MAY GENERAL STRIKE STARTS, LASTS 9 DAYS
Robert Hooley dies
Margaret Sullivan dies
MY FATHER’S MOTHER’S TIME LINE - DOROTHY WOOLDRIDGE
MY FATHER’S FATHER’S TIME LINE - WALTER HUGH CHARLES SAMUEL THRING
John Gale D Thring born in Wiltshire (his father’s grandfather)
Sarah Jenkyns born in Wiltshire (his father’s grandmother)
Samuel Meredith born in
Lydia Dyer born in
John Gale Dalton Thring becomes rector of Alford
1811 1st Oct
Sarah Jenkyns marries J G D Thring
1816 24th Aug
Edward Sieveking (her mother’s grandfather) born
1824 11th June
John Charles Thring born (his father)
1825 13th Sept
Jane Ray (her mother’s grandmother) born
1825 FIRST PASSENGER STEAM TRAIN IN
Lydia Dyer marries Samuel Meredith (his grandparents)
1830 4th Aug
Lydia Eliza Dyer Meredith born (his mother)
1834 NEW POOR LAW PROPOSES ESTABLISHMENT OF WORK HOUSES
Samuel Meredith becomes first chief constable of Wiltshire
1840 PENNY POST INTRODUCED
1851 GREAT EXHIBITION AT
1847 23rd Dec
John Charles Thring ordained deacon at Wells
Edward Sieveking marries Jane Ray ( her grandparents)
1849 23rd Dec
John Charles Thring ordained priest at Wells
Edward Thring becomes headmaster of Uppingham
Leonard Wooldridge (her father) born
1858 28th May
Lydia Meredith marries John Charles Thring (his parents)
1861 2nd July
Florence Sieveking (her mother) born
1859 to 1864
John Charles Thring assistant master at Uppingham
1862 20th Nov
Ella Sieveking (her aunt) born
Samuel Meredith retires as chief constable of Wiltshire
1871 CHARLES DARWIN PUBLISHES THE ASCENT OF MAN
Samuel Meredith dies
1873 30th May
Hugh Thring born
John Gale Dalton Thring dies
J C Thring becomes chaplain to Bradford on
1882 MARRIED WOMEN’S PROPERTY ACT allows married women to own property in their own right
Florence Sieveking marries Leonard Wooldridge
Ella Sieveking enters the
1887 20th Jan
Dorothy Wooldridge born
Hugh Thring enters HMS Britannia
Hugh Thring passes out as a midshipman
Leonard Wooldridge dies
Ella Sieveking becomes a post graduate art student
Florence Wooldridge, nee Sieveking, marries Ernest Starling
1891 16th Sept
Sarah Thring, nee Jenkyns, dies
Ella Sieveking marries Walter Crum
1901 22nd JANUARY QUEEN
Edward Sieveking dies
1909 3rd Oct
John Charles Thring dies
Dorothy Wooldridge starts as a student at UCL
Ella Crum, nee Sieveking, moves to Aldeburgh Suffolk
Dorothy Wooldridge becomes a teacher in Aldeburgh
Ella and Walter Crum separate
1913 11th Jan
Dorothy Wooldridge marries Hugh Thring and they go to
1913 20th Nov
Brynhild Wooldridge Thring born
4th Aug 1914 FIRST WORLD WAR STARTS
Jane Sieveking, nee Ray, dies
1915 17th Dec
Meredith Wooldridge Thring born
1917 15th Sept
Jane Felicity Thring born
11th NOV 1918 FIRST WORLD WAR ENDS
Dorothy and the children travel from
Hugh Thring awarded the CBE for his work with the Australian Navy
1922 30th May
Dorothy Thring, nee Wooldridge, dies
1925 4th Sept
Lydia Thring, nee Meredith, dies
1926 FIRST PUBLIC RADIO BROADCASTS IN
1926 3rd MAY GENERAL STRIKE STARTS, LASTS 9 DAYS
Ernest Starling dies
1928 24th Jan
Florence Starling, nee Sieveking, dies
1949 17th Jan
Hugh Thring dies
 John Gale Dalton Thring died in 1874
 All these facts from
 The life and letters of Edward Thring by G.R. Parkin, Macmillan and Co 1898
 The Man who made a School by Geoffrey Hoyland. S.C.M. Press 1946
 The life and letters of Edward Thring by G.R. Parkin. Macmillan and Co 1898
 I have tried, and failed, to discover what are the implications of being head of one “side”.
 The life and letters of Edward Thring by G.R. Parkin. Macmillan and Co 1898
 A Memory of Edward Thring by John Huntley Skrine Macmillan and Co 1889.
 Manly and Muscular Diversions. Public Schools and the 19th Century Sporting Revival by Tony Money. Duckworth 1997
 From a monograph about Godfrey by Arthur Thring.
 Information taken from John Charles’ family bible. The name by which Great Uncle Ernie identified them is in bold.
 It is entitled “The recollections at 90 years of age of our mother, Mrs J C Thring”. It was painstakingly transcribed from the original handwriting by her son Hugh’s grand daughter Anna in 1989.
 i.e. midshipman. Midshipmen were usually the sons of well off families training to become commissioned officers. They were taught navigation, astronomy and trigonometry by the ship’s schoolmaster as well as going on watch when school hours were over.
 See the map on page 99
 William the Fourth 1830 to 1837 – Queen
 A forum for debate and discussion of natural history in all its branches; founded in 1709. It is named after the Swede Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), who first catalogued plants and animals in a consistent scientific way using a Latin two word system which is still used world wide.
 Buildings of
 The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 laid down terms for the building, supervision and conditions in centralised work houses for paupers. Yeovil’s work house opened in 1837. Before this help for poor people was the responsibility of individual parishes and people were not required to go and live institutions.
 ‘The Oldest and the Best’, by Paul Sample. Published by Wiltshire Constabulary to celebrate their 150th anniversary in 1989.
 A laxative.
 DV = Deo Volente or God willing
 See the map on page 99
 I am not sure whose christening this is. The letter is dated 11/2/1841. Queen
 The Oldest and the Best by Paul Sample. See footnote 21.
 See map page 99
 Life and Letters of Edward Thring by G R Parkin. Macmillan and Co 1898
 Manly and Muscular Diversions. Public Schools and the 19th Century Sporting Revival by Tony Money. Duckworth 1997
 The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 laid down terms for the
building, supervision and conditions in centralised work houses for
paupers. Bradford on
 From the Latin sine cura – without care. An office of profit or honour without duties attached
 A Chantry priest is one who sings masses for the soul of a person who has given an endowment to provide this service.
 An entry re John Charles in a list of Cambridge Alumni states “C. of Alford from 1870 to 1874” and “C. of Bradford-on–Avon 1875 – 91”.
 In the Sarah Jenkyns section
 Edward Thring went to Uppingham as head master in 1853
 The Early Days of
 Midshipmen were usually the sons of well-off families training to become commissioned officers. At this time they had 2 years naval education before going to sea.
 Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle. Penguin Classics 2000
 Saturday January 20th 1990
 Cheltenham Ladies’ College was founded in 1853. Dorothea Beale (1831 – 1906) became principal in 1858. When she arrived the school had 58 pupils. When she died in 1906, still working as principal, it had over 1000 pupils. She transformed it from a school concentrating on music, sewing and drawing to the first girls’ academic school offering courses equivalent to those in men’s schools. She was a prominent Suffragette and also founded a teacher training college for women in 1885 and St Hilda’s College Oxford in 1893.
A rhyme of the time links her name
with that of another prominent educator of girls, Frances Buss (1827 – 1894)
principal of the
“Miss Buss and Miss Beale, Cupid’s darts do not feel… How different from us, Miss Beale and Miss Buss”
 Life and Letters of Edward Thring by George Parkin. Macmillan 1898
 The Life of Amelia Wilhelmina Sieveking (originally in German) translated and edited by Catherine Winkworth . Longman Green Roberts 1863
 Presidential address given at the Royal College of Physicians by Sir W S Church on March 28th 1904
 King Edward VII a biography by Sir Sidney Lee. Macmillan 1925. Page 254 in the first volume.
 I assume that “physician in ordinary” means physician on a day-to-day basis and “physician extraordinary” means to be available as a second opinion when called in by “the physician in ordinary”.
 Presidential address given at the Royal College of Physicians by Sir W S Church on March 28th 1904
 Other recipients
 Enterprising Women The Garretts and their Circle by Elizabeth Crawford. Francis Boutle 2002
 Incidentally Gwen John did not go to the
 Enterprising Women The Garretts and their Circle by Elizabeth Crawford. Francis Boutle 2002
 The London Gardener Volume 10 page 36
 Swanley was founded in 1889 and women were first admitted in 1891. The course for “women gardeners” at this time included botany, chemistry, zoology, physics, building, construction and book keeping.
 Enterprising Women The Garretts and their Circle by Elizabeth Crawford. Francis Boutle 2002
 This information comes from the 1861 and 1871 censuses
 The wife of Edward’s brother Gustavus, a merchant like their father
 In 1701, Dr Croone, one of the original members of the Royal Society, left a bequest to fund a yearly lecture. It continues to this day.
 A Life of Ernest Starling by John Henderson 2005
 A Life of Ernest Starling by John Henderson 2005
 In 1701, Dr Croone, one of the original members of the Royal
Society, left a bequest to fund a yearly lecture. It continues to this day.
 A legged undergarment for either sex, worn below the waist. (Collins Concise Dictionary)
 A Life of Ernest Starling by John Henderson 2005
 A Life of Ernest Starling by John Henderson 2005
 A Life of Ernest Starling by John Henderson 2005
 The Mediaeval language of
 All these details from the Concise Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press 1992
 See the letter from the Prince of Wales on page 39
 There is a mention of her as a very small child in the letter from
 This theme reappears in the letter dated September 2nd.
 Dorothy’s mother worked hard helping her stepfather with his books and administration.
 Swanley Horticultural College in
 GG is Mrs Pam Hervey’s daughter
 From the BRNC website: “Beginning in 1863 the training hulks
Britannia and Hindostan were moored on the river side of a tiny peninsula
 The Royal Navy by Captain John Wells. Alan Sutton 1994
 Boarding house.
 I have no other evidence of her visit to
 A Life of Ernest Starling by John Henderson.
 This letter is included in full on page 48
 A legged undergarment for either sex, worn below the waist. (Collins Concise Dictionary)
 Myamyn Garth is the name of their house in Eltham, which is now a
 Laurence Sieveking was one of
 Hugh’s mother
 The maiden name of his father’s mother. His middle name was his mother’s maiden name.
 Happy is the family nickname for Jane; could it have derived partly because Med was originally called Merry? Or was it because Jane’s middle name was Felicity?
 Godstowe was a boarding school in
 My father adds
 The Victorian House by Judith Flanders. Harper Perennial 2004
 Bow church with its tower of bells is situated in the City of
 Charles Booth (1840 – 1916), ship owner and sociologist, not to be
confused with William Booth (1829 –1912) who founded the Salvation Army. Charles Booth initially collected his data by
sending School Board visitors into the streets of
 East and
 See footnote 92
 The seven classes are: (i) Wealthy; hardly found in East London and little found in South London; inhabited by families who keep three or more servants, and whose houses are rated at 100 pounds or more.
(ii) Middle class. Well-to-do. Keep one or two servants. (iii) Working class comfort. Good ordinary earnings. (iv) Mixed. Some comfortable, others poor. (v) Poor. 18s. to 21s. a week for a moderate family. (vi) Very poor, casual labourers and others living from hand to mouth. (vii) Lowest class. Occasional labourers, loafers, and semi criminals – the elements of disorder.
 Saving and Spending: the working-class economy in
 There was a huge influx of people to the East End of London in the
1870s from North Essex,
 It is probable that the fathers of William Sullivan and Margaret
Simpson came to
 The equivalent of the delivery man of today.
 See footnote 92
 A History of the 15th (
 See footnote 92.
 Music halls were a very strong
 A friend, expert in family
history research, cleverly managed to trace the missing brother. The search started with the birth lists of
1885 and revealed a Ralph Rowland Hooley who was therefore 2 years younger than
Robert Hooley. The search involved
moving back and forth between censuses but I will relate the story in calendar
order. The 1881 census showed the
connection between Mary Tidder and Ann Hooley.
A 34 year old widow born in
 The politics of the Poor - the East End of London 1885 –1914 by Marc Brodie. Clarendon Press – Oxford 2004.
 An early open topped motor coach for sight seeing.