Chapter 3

3.1 Hugh and Maria Chisholm

Almost all that I know of my grandfather, Hugh Chisholm [C1], I have gleaned from his marriage certificate, a Census Return and the birth certificates of his children.

His marriage certificate says that his father was John Chisholm, a shoemaker. The 1881 Census of Cambridge gives his birthplace as Scotland – no town or parish given, to enable further research. His marriage also states that he was a bachelor of 28, and a draper at Burwell, in Cambridgeshire, when he married Maria Mansfield at Hundon, near Clare, in Suffolk, in September 1873.


Figure 3.1: The House where my mother, Kate Chisholm was born, 38 Northgate St, Bury St. Edmunds.

The five birth certificates of their children, record his changing abodes and occupations. In High Town, Burwell, where Alice and John Martin were born, Hugh was a draper, then a grocer. At 25 Union terrace, Cambridge, where Maria was born, he was a draper – the Census says, a Travelling Draper. Kate, my mother, was born on 15 March, 1886 at 38 Northgate Street, in Bury St. Edmunds. By this time, Hugh was an Assistant Superintendent for the Pearl Life Insurance Company. In November, 1886, they moved to Reading, where he was promoted to Superintendent. Here, Harriet was born on April 4, 1888 – and a week later Hugh left his wife and five children.

My mother told me when I was a child, that her father had died, when she was two, but when the time came for me to talk of marrying, she cautioned me that the women in her family hadn’t made happy marriages, and admitted that her father had deserted his wife and family, when she was two years old, and Harriet just a baby.

In the County Record Office of Cambridge, the archivist found a statement made by Maria Chisholm, written out roughly in pencil, in which she says she returned to Cambridge with her children, after Hugh deserted her. At the time the statement was taken, in June 1889, she was living at 2 Edna Cottages in Sedgewick Street – and the bailiffs had been sent in to demand the rent! Life cannot have been easy for Maria.

Five years later, in 1894, Maria gave birth to a baby boy. His birth certificate gives the address as 77 Cavendish Road and names Hugh Chisholm, draper, as the father. Cavendish Road was a new development just over the Railway line, on the Romsey Town Side, away from Cambridge Town Centre. Number 77 appears first in the Directory of 1895 – and the occupier is named – Edmund Cross. It seems very likely that he was the father of the baby bearing his name - named Albert Edmund Chisholm. My mother and Aunt Harrie were very fond of this little boy, whom my Cousin Rita spoke of as a “love-child”.

Street directories were not published every year at this time. By the next, the 1898 Directory, Edmund Cross’s name is not listed, and Maria Chisholm is named as the occupier of 77 Cavendish Road. She was not to be there much longer. On January 7, 1899 – two days after Bertie’s fifth birthday - Maria died of cancer, in Addenbrooks Hospital. She was aged 47 years.

Hugh’s occupations were variously described on his children’s marriage certificates. John Martin in 1900, said his father was a Master Draper; May, in 1902, said Hugh was a gentleman!; Alice, in 1903, described her father as a traveller; and Kathleen, in 1915, said he was a school master! But the one thing they all agreed about, was that by their marriage dates, their father was deceased.

The St. Catherine’s Index of Deaths in England, however, does not record a death for a Hugh Chisholm until 1919. The Hugh Chisholm, who died in St. Pancras, London in 1919, was 72 years of age which is the age “our” Hugh would have been in that year. This Hugh was a retired Plasterer with the informant of death, a daughter named K. Chisholm!

Perhaps his children agreed to think of him as dead after he deserted their mother. Perhaps he had left England and died somewhere else – or perhaps he had another family and another occupation and died in London in 1919.

3.2 Children of Hugh & Maria Chisholm

Alice, aged 24, John, 21, and May, 18, [C1] were grown-up and had probably left home before their mother died, though none of them was married until a few years later. John, or Jack, as his sisters called him, was the informant named on his mother’s death certificate, and gave his address as Stepney, London. My mother remembered him stepping into the street outside their home in Cambridge, and snapping his fingers to stop a passing rag merchant – to take away their mother’s belongings.


Figure 3.2: Harriet and Kathleen , aged about 10 and 12 respectively.

Who looked after Kate, aged 12, Harriet, 10, and little Bertie, only 5? Their grandparents, John and Ann Mansfield, had left Hundon, and were living in Chesterton, just out of Cambridge by the 1881 Census, but I do not know if they were still there or even if they were both still alive, nearly 20 years later. A studio photograph I have, which is I think of Grandma Mansfield, was taken in Cambridge sometime between 1891 and 1901, and shows her as an old lady, with very arthritic hands. The Chisholm sisters did remember their grandmother, because many years later they told Rita, May’s daughter, that she reminded them of her – but we never heard that she looked after them when their mother died.

I think the children were separated, which must have been very sad for them. Kate, my mother, told us she lived with her sister Alice, in London. Rita said that Harriet lived with an Aunt in Cambridge – I don’t know who looked after Bertie.

Maria’s younger sister, Alice Mansfield, [M1] married a young brewer, George Scales, son of a well-known brewer and spirit dealer, who was a Town Councilor in Cambridge for 20 years and who owned a number of public houses in and around the town. At one of these, the Scales Hotel, on Chesterton Road, lived the young George and Alice at the time of the 1881 Census. George was the Publican and Alice may have been the aunt with whom Harriet came to live in 1899.

My sister Joan has Bertie’s Anglican Prayer Book, inscribed on the flyleaf “A.E. Chisholm, 78 Walnut Tree Avenue, 1907” – this gives a key to his whereabouts – at least by the time he was 13. There is no Walnut Tree Avenue in Cambridge – but two in London, one in Dartford in the Southeast, one in Mitcham in the South. Mother had photographs of him, a smiling young man, in his early 20’s in Army Uniform – a Lance Corporal – “not to be mistaken for ‘Lieutenant Colonel’ ” he had scribbled on the back of one! He was killed in World War I, in 1917, aged 23.


Figure 3.3: Bertie, Kathleen’s half-brother, killed in World War I.

John Martin was the first of the Chisholm family to marry. In 1900, at the age of 22, he married Daisy Mary Rebekah Littlejohns, aged 18, daughter of James Littlejohns, a Temperance Hotel Keeper in Newport, Monmouthshire. The marriage was solemnized in the Bible Christian Chapel in that Town. John’s occupation was also given as a Temperance Hotel Keeper.

Alice married in 1903, 4 years after her mother’s death when she was 29 years of age. Her husband was Augustus Cooper, a widower and Licensed Victualler at the “Elephant and Castle” – a well-known tavern at the junction of six important thoroughfares in South East London. It was probably here that Kathleen lived with her eldest sister. She used to tell us how she climbed out on to the roof to gaze at the stars – and how she banged her head against the wall, to relieve her toothache! She didn’t go to a dentist until she was 25.

The information about the marriages of the two eldest Chisholms was gleaned from their marriage certificates but the story of May’s marriage to a high-born Indian Law student at London University in 1902 – was told to me by my mother, probably before our 1935 trip to England when I would be meeting my half-Indian cousins. Maria, as she was baptised, and Syed Noorul Huque married at St. Mathews Church, Hammersmith, in London. They were both aged 21, Noorul already a widower, very likely from an arranged child marriage in India. They had four children in London – Mollie Ina in Richmond in 1904, Noorul in Brentford in 1906, Geoffrey who died soon after birth in 1907, and Rita Margaret in Willesden in 1910 [C1].

May went to India with her husband and children, presumably after he graduated, but she found life intolerable there for herself and the children. She was probably looked down on by Indians and English alike, and the children became ill and suffered from the heat. Before long, she went back to England, left her children there and went to Canada to find work. She was caught by the outbreak of the war and stayed there for it’s duration.

Mollie, the eldest of May’s children, lived I think, with her Aunt Alice, who had a daughter Joy, about the same age. My mother, Kathleen, paid for Mollie’s keep out of her meagre salary, and was very sad when Mollie died of meningitis aged 17 in 1920.

Noorul and Rita were boarded out – Rita with a couple she called “Auntie Ida and Uncle Len” who really loved her, and would have liked to adopt her. When she was 12, she was apprenticed to Whiteleys Department Store in Knightsbridge, in London. She lived there, I think, in the basement and worked for a pittance. Her job was to sit beside the cashier, and hand out the change. If she made a mistake, it was taken out of her pay! When she told me this, sixty years later, saying that she had really had no childhood, or education to speak of – the tears were rolling down her cheeks. She said she didn’t know why she was crying, as she hadn’t been unhappy – but she confessed that when she was 25, she dreaded the visit of a young cousin from New Zealand – a 15 year old educated at a private school! but that comes later in my tale.


Figure 3.4: Paddington Green Children’s Hospital where Kathleen was a nurse and Jim, a House Surgeon.


Figure 3.5: Nurses at Paddington Green Children’s Hospital, Kathleen at back right.

It was probably around 1910, when Kathleen, aged 24 followed the advice of a doctor who was concerned about her health and well-being, and started her training as a Children’s Nurse at Paddington Green Children’s Hospital in London. The course at this time was a two year one. Probationer nurses lived in at the Hospital and their lives were strictly controlled by the Matron. They were 16 hours a day, on duty in pointed shoes – no wonder the Mother I knew, had painful bunions and unsightly varicose veins! There were two resident “Housemen” in this small hospital of 46 cots – a House Surgeon who in 1912, was James Renfrew White from Dunedin, New Zealand! – and a House Physician, a Hugh Patterson.


Figure 3.6: Harriet.

So this was where and when my mother and father met.

Auntie Harrie told Joan that she used to visit her sister, just for the pleasure of seeing her so attractive in her uniform, with her hair curling in tendrils, escaping from under her Nurse’s cap. She told me that “Kath had the devil in her eye”. My father used to read to her when they were both on night duty. He would whip a book out of his pocket, to win her attention in slack moments, and he bought her a warm coat – she had few clothes other than her uniform – to take her walking on Hampstead Heath when they were off duty. Kathleen earned 40 a year, most of which she gave for the upkeep of Mollie.

After his year as House Surgeon, James was a Junior doctor at the Dreadnought Hospital in Greenwich, with live-in quarters. In May of that year, 1913, his father, Professor D.R. White, just retired, with his mother and sister Ida arrived from New Zealand for a long stay in London. They wrote very detailed and frequent letters to the two sons back in Dunedin. According to these “diaries” as they really were, Jim was extremely busy with his work and very tired, but very attentive to his parents and sister, spending his off-duty times going with them to church, opera, concerts and museums, and for dinners and evenings round their fire. Even his birthdays in July, 1913 and 1914, he celebrated with his family. It is hard to see that he could have spent any time, in between these outings and his work, with Kathleen!

Ida wrote several times to her brothers – “how quiet and preoccupied Jim seems”. In October 1913, she wrote “I feel I want to be jolly and gay – I wish you were here – I don’t see a great deal of Jim, and besides, he is not exactly noisy – I think he has got much quieter since he left Dunedin”. Maybe his thoughts were with Kathleen Chisholm.

She had made up her mind as a girl, that she was not going to marry. When she left Paddinton Green Hospital she took many positions as children’s nurse in private homes – and at one stage, she disappeared for some months – without telling Jim her whereabouts – perhaps to test her own feelings, as well as his.

This may have been when she took the position for three months as nurse to Alice, Edith and Cornelia, the children of the Count and Countess Szechenyi. They travelled to Hungary, for six weeks, to visit the Count’s parents – in great luxury, with a private train – and for the next six weeks to visit the Countesses family – the Vanderbilts of New York. The Countess was Gladys Vanderbilt – only a few years older than Kathleen.


Figure 3.7: The home of Cornelius Vanderbilt in New York.


Figure 3.8: The “Breakers”.


Figure 3.9: Children’s playhouse built for Gladys at the “Breakers”.


Figure 3.10: An interior view at “The Breakers”.

Three generations of Vanderbilts had amassed fabulous fortunes in steamships and the railways, and they left behind their magnificent mansions. Built in the late 1800’s, many are wonderfully preserved with their original lavish furnishings and park-like grounds and are open to the public.

In New York, a mansion in Spanish Moroccan style, (Figure 3.7) overlooking Long Island Sound, was probably the home of Cornelius and Alice Vanderbilt, the parents of Gladys Vanderbilt Szechenyi, and where Mrs. Vanderbilt was living, though her husband had died in 1894, when Gladys, her husband, their children, nurses and maids came to New York just before the outbreak of World War I. There were two nurses, and they had their own maid – so doubtless there were other servants as well in the entourage. While they were in New York, Mrs. Vanderbilt gave the nurses gifts of handbags – and Kathleen exchanged hers for a Brownie Box Camera – which I used for many years and which is now in Mark’s collection of old cameras.

They probably also visited “The Breakers” – the magnificent summer mansion built for Cornelius Vanderbilt at Newport , Rhode Island (Figure 3.8) in the mid 1890s, when Newport was the social capital of America. The property was appropriately named – built on a promontory jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. Gladys would surely have wanted her little girls to play in the Victorian children’s playhouse (Figure 3.9) which was built for her alongside the house, when she was a little girl. We visited “The Breakers” in the mid 1950s – we marveled at the elegance of the house (Figure 3.10), modeled on the Renaissance Palaces of Italy; the exquisite wrought iron gates, the grand staircase, the decorative details, the sumptuous furnishings, the fountain playing in the entrance hall, the bathrooms plumbed with a choice of water – hot or cold, fresh or salt, the latter pumped to tanks in the attic, direct from the ocean! The playhouse contained a living room and kitchen. The china cups had the name “Gladys” as part of the design – I was excited to think of Nurse Chisholm in these fabulous surroundings!

In the fall of 1986, when Alan and I were driving up the Upper Hudson Valley on a visit to Boston, we came upon another Vanderbilt mansion, at Hyde Park, New York. It was built for Frederic Vanderbilt, a brother of Cornelius and uncle of Gladys, as his family summer house. It is set in 200 acres of parkland, with unsurpassed views, from the north drive, of the Hudson River and mountains beyond. There was a framed list of famous visitors to the mansion, and I was excited to see Count Szechenyi’s name among them. The upper floor of this mansion was set aside for the servants of the visitors! It had, I remember, most miserably dim lighting and low ceilings – such a contrast to the grandeur and spaciousness of the state rooms below. I hope, if Kathleen were there, she would have slept with her charges – not with the maids!

My mother also talked of her time as nurse to the Bonham-Carter family at Sevenoaks. When a measles epidemic broke out at the Boarding School, attended by the older boys of the family, she was sent there to help with the nursing of the sick boys. My mother was a wonderful nurse!

The Vanbergens – another family – gave Kathleen a very lovely little ornament, which my sister Joan treasures.

In January 1914, Jim sent his parents (still in London) a telegram to announce that he had passed his MRCS and LRCP examinations. He was studying very hard, and did not take a holiday until the middle of the year, when he went to the Isle of Wight for a week with Ida’s devoted friend, Mr. Hughes – again no mention to his parents of his seeing Kathleen.

About this time, the White family went through a great upset and heartbreak when they had news that their second son David, – left at home in Dunedin at Knox College – and aged about 23, had eloped to Melbourne with Alice Campbell, with no money or prospects at that early age. Although no mention is made in the letters of this shock, it is apparent that Jim was particularly attentive to his parents – and he would have found it not an appropriate time to introduce Kathleen to his family!

It was not until a few months later, in the middle of August, 1914, just after War was declared, that a paragraph was added to one of Jim’s father’s letters to Dunedin in which Miss Chisholm was mentioned for the first time – Sunday, 16th August – “James came to dinner This was our last Sunday in the maisonette and Mother had invited Mr. Hughes and Miss Chisholm to dinner also. It was a most beautiful day and we went to Kew Gardens in the afternoon .”

In Ida’s letter to her brother, she wrote of the same occasion “Sunday (our last here) mother invited the boys to dinner. It was a beautiful day – we went out to Kew Gardens

So Ida did not mention Miss Chisholm coming to Sunday dinner and later, when rewriting her father’s letters for posterity, she crossed out the above paragraph in which he did. I do not know why. I can only guess that they did not approve of Kathleen for their son James, and that they did not want gossip going round the many relatives in Dunedin – enough there would surely have been over David’s elopement! Although Kathleen had a natural dignity – and a lovely speaking voice – I think she lacked confidence and would have been overwhelmed to find Jim’s family so cultured and correct, so knowledgeable about music, art and politics, when she herself had had little education. It is not to be wondered at, if she told them that her father was a schoolmaster, now deceased! – instead of the grocer, draper and insurance agent who deserted her mother and five children when she was two years old.

After war was declared, Jim felt very unsettled in his studies. The hospital where he worked, was offered to the Government as a hospital for the war wounded – students and doctors were offering their services at the Front. His Father wrote “Jim has asked for my consent to join up – I do not see my way to refuse – but I hope and pray it may not be necessary.” (Figure 3.11)


Figure 3.11: James Renfrew White, RAMC, 1914.

In November, Jim passed his F.R.C.S. (Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons) – and in December the White trio sailed off to New Zealand, their trip brought to a sudden end by the war. There is no record in the letters of what happened to Mr. Hughes. James joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, in a Calvary Regiment! He spent the best part of a year in France, as a Regimental, and later as an Ambulance Medical Officer. In 1915 he was invalided back to England. He was kept there by Sir Robert Jones, to assist him on the staff of Military Orthopaedic Hospitals in London. This gave him the experience and the qualifications for which he was brought out to New Zealand after the war.

When Jim was very ill in the trenches and invalided back to London, Kathleen must have felt he was in need of a next of kin. They became engaged. My father gave me their engagement ring when Alan and I became engaged after my mother died. On August 28, 1915 the marriage of Kathleen Chisholm, aged 29, and James Renfrew White, 27, Lieutenant in the R.A.M.C. – the Royal Army Medical Corps, took place in the Parish Church of South Farnborough, not far from the Aldershot Barracks, where James was in residence. Kathleen had travelled from South Wales on the day – and no accommodation could she find where she could change into a fresh blouse for the ceremony. Everywhere was crowded with soldiers, their girlfriends, wives and families. She had to use a telephone box as a changing room! Two people were brought in from the street to act as witnesses to the marriage.

They honeymooned at Linton and Linmouth, in North Devon. Harriet joined them for part or all of their stay, and Jim used to read aloud to the sisters in the evening. On their last day, their landlady accused them of stealing some gardening tool or other – and they left in haste! – but story has it that Harrie suddenly realised she had left behind her best hat, and they had to brave the landlady once more to retrieve it.

Jim’s youngest brother Jack left New Zealand with the 5th Reinforcements – in 1915. So Kathleen met another of Jim’s family – and she and Harrie and Jim and Jack had some jolly times together in London. In June 1916 Jack was wounded in France – and sent again to London until invalided back to New Zealand at the end of that year.

Kathleen Joan was born in Dulwich on March 12 1917 – and in August 1918, Kathleen and Jim and their little Joan, travelled out to New Zealand on a Troop ship “The Ionic”, James having been appointed Orthopaedic Surgeon to the New Zealand Military Forces with the rank of Major.

It must have been very hard for Kathleen coming to live on the other side of the world from her sisters. It was also a very bad beginning for her – that they had to live with her in-laws in Dunedin for a year and a half. It is hard to understand why that had to be – I don’t suppose they had much money and James would have been very busy plunged into his orthopaedic work of patching up the returned soldiers. However, Grandpa had bought a house on the corner of George and Union Streets in 1918, presumably with James and Kathleen in mind, so it is hard to see why the young family had to stay so long at Tirokatoa. Kathleen had brought with her, the latest fashions from London. In those days New Zealand was several seasons behind, and the hem lines several inches lower – Grandpa insisted that Kathleen let down her dresses, before she could accompany Grandma and Ida on their social calls round Dunedin. Grandma rationed the washing to be put out for the maid to do – and she prided herself that her firm knock on the bedroom door quietened the baby more surely than anything Kathleen could do. Kathleen was desperately unhappy – her only comfort was her growing friendship with her sister-in-law, Alice. Alice and David lived in George Street, almost opposite the house that Kathleen and James were to move into. They had a little boy, David, a few years older than Joan. The two daughters-in-law had a lot in common, both disapproved of by their snobbish in-laws!

In 1919, the house at No. 456 George Street, was transferred into Grandma’s name, and James paid rent to her for the rest of her life – when she died, the house became his. How pleased Kathleen must have been when they moved, but at the same time she became very sick with her second pregnancy – so sick that her doctor suggested she have an abortion! My mother very courageously refused this, although she had to stay in bed for most of the nine months - and was at the mercy of a housekeeper – and visits from her mother-in-law and Ida, who did not even approve of her nightgowns! My father felt helpless. Auntie Ida used to tell us that he would buy expensive presents, which his wife could only push away, in her misery – not a happy story for us to hear. I was born on October 15, 1920 – five weeks after Alice gave birth to a little girl, Valerie. Again, it cannot have been easy, three years later, for Kathleen to leave her two little girls, aged 6 and 3, with their grandparents and Ida, while she accompanied her husband on a 9 month study tour of North America. She was not a good traveller, and she must have had some very lonely times, while James was studying. While they were in New York, James sent for Harriet to join them, for two weeks, which must have been some comfort after their 5 year separation. But it was in New York that Kathleen sat on a sidewalk and cried “I want my babies.”

It was to be 12 years before the Chisholm sisters were together again. Joan tells how she loved to be the one to find a letter from England addressed in Harriet’s beautiful writing – for the pleasure of seeing mother’s face light up when she gave it to her.

In 1925, my parents bought a lovely home on an acre of land at 68 Cannington Road in Maori Hill. Mother had a maid in the house, and a gardener one day a week – but it was another lonely period for her. In 1928, the David Whites moved to Wellington, so she lost her supportive friendship with Alice. The bus service was infrequent, it was miles from shops – my father often left the house at 7.30am – and Joan and I were growing more involved in school and our own activities.

Joan remembers Kathleen and James going through unhappy times in the early 30s. James was at the height of his career. He was senior surgeon in Orthopaedics at the Dunedin Public Hospital, as well as in private practice at the George Street Clinic. He was a Senior Lecturer at the Medical School, also involved with the School of Physiotherapy – and from 1928-1932 he was virtually in charge of New Zealand’s Physical Education System. In 1931, his text-book for teachers, “The Growing Body” was written and published and he was very involved with third year Training College students of Physical Education – and held refresher courses for their instruction.

He had also started composing. Our evenings which used to be filled with reading aloud, and music round the piano or from the wind-up gramophone, became instead, several hours of what sounded like tinkling on the piano, often the same notes and phrases played over and over again with much scribbling and rubbing out! It was very trying to listen to – no wonder Kathleen became depressed and unhappy. Because James could see that this was upsetting his wife, he hired a piano at the Clinic – and caused more trouble, because Kathleen didn’t know what kept him longer at work.

Joan and I both remember a tense picnic at Cemetery Point, Broad Bay – in April or May 1935 – when our father suddenly announced that he would take Mother a trip to England to see her sisters. I was taken out of school, the Cannington Road house was let, and in less than a month we were off on a cargo ship, Mother, Daddy and I – Joan choosing to stay behind to continue with her University course. It was a long journey for Kathleen. She was not a good sailor, and for seven weeks she spent the mornings in her cabin, sick and queasy, only appearing to sit on deck for a little while in the afternoons. Her lovely hair lost it’s sheen and curl, and was never so thick and luxuriant again. But she had five wonderful months with her sisters. James told Rita many years later, how much pleasure he got from seeing the three together again – that they seemed “to repose in one another”.

I think Harriet had taken responsibility for May’s younger daughter Rita years before, as Alice and Kathleen had for Mollie, leaving May with her one son, Noorul. At the time of our visit to London in 1935, May, with Noorul, and Harriet with Rita, were living a few doors apart on Hanover road, Bronsbury Park in northwest London. I don’t know what May and Noorul did for a living. May was very tiny, quiet and very asthmatic. She may not have met James before, as she was in Canada during the war years. Noorul had just become engaged to a nurse, Paddy (When they married they were called Nick and Eunice). They had two children, Christopher, a haemophiliac, who died at the age of 12, after a tooth extraction – and Margaret, who is married and lives with her husband Bill Eakets in Tunbridge Wells. They have no children.

Harriet did not marry. She was a business woman – head of the London Branch of an American Comptometer Company, Felt and Tarrant – and Rita worked under her in the office at Aldwych House. Indeed, they seemed to do everything together – were more like two sisters than Aunt and niece. Harrie was very bright and full of fun. I found her somewhat alarming, with her quick wit and dry sense of humour. She and Rita often visited at our flat in Notting Hill Gate. One day I made her a cup of tea – a very weak one it must have been. “Water bewitched and tea be damned” she said dryly, probably with a twinkle, but nevertheless I haven’t forgotten that I felt taken aback!

Rita was very loving, warm and generous; very gentle and modest too, and although there were ten years of age between us, we got on wonderfully well. She seemed to adore my father, and sang very naturally in a pure and rich soprano voice “I Know that my Redeemer Liveth” to his piano accompaniment.

Every morning my father and I set off with the guidebook “London for Everyman”. We visited Art Galleries and Museums - and graveyards. Sometimes in the weekends Rita accompanied us. She very imaginatively bought me a set of leather working tools – took me to George and Company, the Leather Merchants to buy a variety of calf and fine linings, and we spent evenings cutting, embossing and thonging together. She and I spent a week of her holiday, walking on the Sussex Downs. Harrie accompanied us for a week at Bournemouth and they both, Harrie and Rita, came to the theatre to see “Romeo and Juliet” with us. A matinee it was and afternoon tea in fine bone china was served on trays at the interval. I remember Rita trying to comfort me, when I sobbed hysterically at the end of the performance. We didn’t see so much of Noorul and May – Noorul gave me his very old stamp collection – and took my father, one evening, to “The Dogs” – the greyhound races. I did not ever hear any reference made to the older Chisholms - Alice and John Martin, or their families. Looking back, this seems strange that my mother didn’t make contact with them.

I will never forget the farewells at Southampton – when we were sailing for home. Harrie and Rita stood, two solitary figures on the wharf, waiting and waiting to see the last of us – until the ship pulled away, and we watched from the ship’s side, through a blur of tears as they grew smaller and smaller.

May, Kathleen and Harriet were not to meet again. May died just a few years after our visit, in 1939. Nearly ten years later, in 1948, when James wrote to tell Harrie that Kathleen had cancer – and only a short time to live – she and Rita sent the biggest bouquet of flowers that I have ever seen or so it seems to me, looking back. It filled the hearth in Mother’s bedroom for many days. Kathleen died, aged 63, on February 4, 1949.

Harrie lived long after. She and Rita lived at 16 Moreland Court, Finchley road, until Rita retired when they went together to Grove Park Road, Weston-Super-Mare, where Nick and Eunice had retired several years before. Harrie and Rita were devoted to one another, and to their church. Rita, with her true, beautiful voice sang in her church choir leading in the solos at Easter, Christmas and other special festivals. After many years, when she was well into her 70s and had stopped singing in the choir, a man in the congregation turned to compliment her on her beautiful singing of the hymns. About the same time, a young man in the Post Office complimented her on her beautiful writing, and it is still so, though she is 86.

Alan and I paid several visits – sometimes with our children – to Harrie and Rita at Finchley Road – and at Weston-Super-Mare. Always we were treated to delicious meals, beautifully served. They were most generous to us. Joan and I remember beautiful gifts sent to us as children, dolls, and the Squirrel Nutkin tea set, and very lovely brush and comb sets - and for our wedding presents a canteen of cutlery each. When I was in London with Judith, aged four, they bought her the most beautiful duffel coat – navy blue lined with red – and a handsome coat for me at the same time. The “rabbit puzzle” which they gave to Judith on the same birthday we still have for our grandchildren!

On my first visit to England after mother died, I asked Auntie Harrie to tell me about their childhood. She answered firmly “Whatever your mother wanted you to know, she will have told you”. After Harriet died in 1974, I asked Rita a carefully thought out question – “What part of England do you associate with our mothers?” She didn’t hesitate. “Hundon and Clare, in Suffolk” was her answer. This enabled me to trace the Mansfields and Martins as far back as the 1700s, and to find the house where my mother was born and the Inn where my grandmother was born. But of Hugh Chisholm, nothing could or would she tell me. I have written here what I know of his descendants, but the tale of my grandfather’s forbears remains a closed book.