Emmie Taylor's recollections

From a document my grandmother Emmie Taylor (née Parker) wrote in 1971 for her grandson John. Based on the Parker Family Tree drawn by Emmie (actually Emma Hester). Emmie had a very good memory.

Emma Hester Parker (Emmie)
circa 1910 —

Emmie wrote:

James Edington Curry – My Grandfather Curry's Father was a school master and died when Grandfather was small and he was brought up by an Uncle in London – he studied painting under an R.A. and died about 1900. Wore a little black skull cap, a very well read man, especially in History knew the causes and details of all the English wars – was something of an artist, did some original pictures but copied some of Constable's. At home we had some of the details of Constable's Haywain, which he painted in oils on canvas, but by 1957 when the home was broken up the canvas had almost disintegrated. My Grandmother Hannah Curry always wore a lace cap in the house and had her hair in ringlets – a fine stately looking old lady – died 1906.

Extract from Who's Who 1941:

WAITE LT. COL. HON. FRED. D.S.O. 1915: Overseas Commissioner New Zealand Patriotic Fund Board since 1940; former chairman of Directors of Otago Executive Diary Co. Otago; Member of Otago Executive; President Balcutha Returned Soldiers Association; Chairman Mortgagora Adjustment Commission 1933; Member of Legislative Council 1934; Born 20th August 1885 married 1912 Ada Philipson daughter of F.W.Taylor Manchester, served European War in Egypt and Dardanelles 1914-18 (despatches, twice, D.S.O. 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Adjutant New Zealand Engineers A.N.Z.A.C. Division 1915-16; Chief Instructor of Engineers N.Z.E.F. Training Corps 1917-18. Member for Clutha N.Z. Parliament 1915-to-31 – Publications: The Newzealanders at Gallipoli (official Government History). There was a daughter called Hester. [End of extract]

Ralph's daughter Ethel died as a child, I can just remember her. I think she had epilectic fits. Clara lived well into her 70's. The last time I saw her, over 20 years ago, she was a typical old maid, her house quite Victorian, just as I remember it as a child. I think Ralph was a Painter and Decorator.

Hannah. I used to regularly go to see her with Auntie Maggie (see the Parker family tree) when I was a child. The Laings were a clever family. Bessie was a school teacher. Emma and Jane (Janey) were both art teachers. Janey is about my age and she is the only one still alive. I wrote to Ernest's daughter Margery Lewis until a year or two ago, but someway or another the correspondence dropped off.

Jane lived at Middlesborough. After she was married I used to love to go there as a child, she was so kind and motherly. I don't remember Christopher, I think he left his wife and lived in London. We used to have a book of bound musical pieces at home and there were 2 or 3 things which he had written. Aunt Jane and Uncle George kept a large music shop and sold pianos and organs. It was a very musical household. Young George used to teach the organ and was the organist and choirmaster at the nearby Church. In his spare time he was continually playing Bach on the organ. He and Annie never married and they both died some years ago. They were a lot older than me. When Annie Hoggart died, George went into a home, but Dora did not hear until a few months after as there were some family treasures she would like to have bought, a doll 80 years old. A breeches Bible, in which in the story of Adam and Eve it says they wore "breeches" not "Fig leaves", a snuff box of silver lined with platinum, which was shown in a painting of her Uncle Alan.

Sarah (Auntie Sally) married Jim Mitchell, a school Board Officer. Their eldest daughter Jessie married and went to South Africa and had several children – she has exhibited paintings and her son Ronnie is an artist who has exhibited in galleries in Johannesburg and sold quite a number of pictures. Jessie's about my age and is still alive but a widow – has several grandchildren. Their (Auntie Sallie's and Uncle Jim's) second daughter Dora is 74. She and I write to each other about once a year and she has given me information which I had not got. She knew a lot about my Grandfather and Grandmother Curry, because they lived in the upstairs flat and the Mitchells in the downstairs flat, only they did not call them flats in those days. Dora's daughter Aileen has also done some painting and she and her family lived in Malaya for a time, but are now in Aberdeen. Dora remembers in 1934 going with her mother to see a Mrs. Hester who was Grandma Curry's Sister-in-law, and was then 91. She was left a widow when quite young with two sons, Dick and Arthur, but this great aunt Hester lived with her younger son Arthur.

Their daughter Jean trained as a Nurse at Newcastle Infirmary, but as they would not take girls until they were 21 she went to Dr. Barnardo's Home for Crippled Children at Harrogate. After she got her S.R.N. she took her Maternity Training and did some private nursing. Then she went as a Sister at the Ratcliffe [Radcliffe] in Oxford. She ended up as the Matron of the National Children's home for Incurables at Chipping Norton. This is the person you met. She would have been a bridesmaid for me, but she had just started her training at Newcastle. We write regularly to each other. She had Auntie Maggie to live with her and Nell after Uncle Will died. Their youngest son Willies was always up to mischief when he was a boy, but when he grew up he always seemed to be unfortunate. He was wounded in the 1st World War and afterwards married a girl who had an illegitimate child and they had three girls. He worked in the Shipyards. I don't know what as, but I did not hear much about him after he was married. He died when about 60. Poor Willie he was so lovable as a little boy, always in mischief and very accident prone.

Thomas Hughes Parker (My Father) He was born at Bishop Aukland, but when he was about 2 they went to live at Hartlepool. I don't know much about his childhood, but when he left school his desire was to be a Congregational Minister, but of course he had to earn some money first and save up, so he became apprenticed to a printer. I think he must have known my Mother's family from childhood and I think they were engaged before he went to college, at any rate they were "going steady". He went to Paton College at Nottingham and I have heard him say that at times he was reduced to ½d, but they used to take "supply" preaching on a Sunday, but I don't suppose they were paid much. After his training he went as Minister to Bourne Congregational Church in Lincs in 1890 and sometime in 1891 married my Mother. He was very much loved in Bourne as he was really a splendid Minister and there was great sympathy for him when my mother died. When he had been there 14 years he married Ether [Ethel] Branston and things were not the same after, so 4 years later he left Bourne and went to Horwich. After 14½ years he retired because a Heart Specialist said he had angina. He went to a Homeopathic doctor who said it was not angina but severe indigestion for which he treated him and he lived to be 82. After retiring he went to live in West Bridgeford, Nottingham and earned money by preaching at different churches for many years. His 2nd marriage was not very happy at first, one reason being that my Stepmother was jealous of me, but after they went to Horwich and later she really made him a splendid wife, and devoted herself to him, when he got old and was semi-invalid.

He was a marvellous Father to me, only those who have been without a Mother can realise how good he was. He taught me to form the habit of reading and to like good books and good poetry. He did not spoil me. I knew there were certain things I could not do, and certain things I could do. When he was in bed for 1 year and 8 months at the end of his life he was always contented and happy. He was a most ardent Liberal. When he was at Bourne he put up for the Old Board of Guardians and was well on top of the Poll. He was for a time President of the Lincs. Congregational Union. He never had much money but always seemed content with what he had. He loved walking and walked miles to do his Church visiting especially after we came to Horwich. He used to say to me "if you have 10/- a week to live on, use 8/- and save 2/-"

Margaret Jane (Auntie Maggie) What can I say about her for anyone to realise what she did for me and what she meant to me? Like my Father I do not know much about her childhood, but they were fond of each other. Once he had Scarlet Fever and she used to creep up into his bedroom without Grandma Parker knowing. One day they heard Grandma and the doctor coming upstairs so she got in bed and hid under the bedclothes. Of course they found her and the doctor said "she is sure to catch it," but she didn't. When she was about 20 she had Rheumatic Fever, and dire consequences were predicted but she never had a bad heart or any form of rheumatism and lived to be nearly 87.

When I was a month old and Auntie Maggie was 24 my Grandma Curry took me to Hartlepool and the problem was what to do with me. Auntie was engaged but she took me back to Bourne. Eventually she broke off her engagement and stayed to look after my Father and me. I suppose she spoiled me. I was always 'My darling' until she died and I think until then she looked on me as someone who had to be mothered. When we had to be parted when my Father re-married both she and I were heartbroken. Shortly after this my Auntie Lizzie (Henderson) became very ill and Uncle Donald asked Auntie to go to look after them (see Curry notes) until Lizzie died and Auntie Maggie stayed there until in a few years she had a very bad accident. She was run into by two young sparks in a horse and trap and fell with her head against the curb and cut the side of her head very badly. She was unconscious for several days and was in bed a long time.

When she was convalescent she came to stay with us at Horwich for several months, but she and my stepmother never got on well, because Auntie never forgave her for the way she treated me. While she was with us and old lady from Pudsey, Mrs. Carr, asked Auntie to go to be her companion which she did. Mrs. Carr was a dear old lady and Auntie lived with her for 18 years. I often went to stay with her there, until I was married. When Mrs. Carr died Auntie came to stay with us at Earlesmere for several months. In the meantime Auntie Liza (Little) had died and Uncle Will asked Auntie to marry him, which she did – she was then 55 and they had at least 27 or 28 years of happy married life. When Uncle Will retired Grandpa allowed Auntie £4 a week until she died. Uncle Will died when Auntie was about 82, and during the last few months of his life he was very ill and Auntie nursed him. Sometimes she had to wash 3 pairs of pyjamas a day and get up to him in the night, although she was then 81, at least. After he died she went to live with Jean and Nell whom you know. She came to stay with us at times, and when she was ill in the Ratcliffe Hospital, Joyce and I went to see her, she was almost stone deaf but always smiling. I was still "My darling" as I had been as a child. When she married Uncle Will she learned to smoke and it was strange to see this sweet old lady puffing away at a cigarette with obvious enjoyment. She had wonderful eyesight and could read with a book on her knee until she died.

Her life was indeed one of loving service to others. I for one could never express what I owe to her.

My Father's eldest Sister Auntie Kate was a beautiful character. My Grandmother lived with her, so every summer Auntie Maggie and I used to go there for the whole of the Summer holidays, while my Father stayed at Auntie Liza's. They all lived at Hartlepool, and although most people will think of it as a dirty engineering town, it has beautiful sands and a lovely promenade. My Mother was born in a house overlooking the promenade. What happy memories I have of the holidays we spent there. Kitty Coulson, Jenny Little and I spent all our time together and Jenny often stayed the night and we all three slept in a double bed. Uncle Willie Coulson worked as head clerk for a Swedish firm Forsland's, but before I can remember, he went into partnership with another man on the Fish Quay. Then he left Auntie Kate with 6 children and went with another woman. Although my Father had only £120 a year he set Auntie Kate up in a sweet shop. She was a beautiful cook and made bread, cakes, pies etc., to sell and kept the home going. After a year Uncle Willie begged to come back. She forgave him absolutely and they lived happily together until she died.

My recollections of the Coulson family are very mixed. James, I only just remember as being very bad tempered. Bert was a very charming young man and was very good to his mother and a great support to his Mother when his Father was away, but he married a social climber and this spoiled him to a great extent. He was apprenticed to a ship chandler named Scott. He was a hard worker and the business was very successful. Mr. Scott had no family so he left the business to Bert. His son took it over when Bert died, but he had been utterly spoiled and the business went down. He drank heavily and died young.

Jennie and Lill. We always spoke of as "the girls". Jennie married a widower with three little boys and was a very good Mother to them and later had a boy of her own. She died when about 60. Lill was a real good sort. She looked after her Father and Mother when they were ill. She married a Mr. McDonald, but he died young and left her with a little girl about 5-yr but she struggled along and was always cheerful. When she was 68 she went with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson to Rhodesia. She is now turned 80 and she and I write regularly to each other.

Tom was alright, but a bit lazy and rather moody. After the 1st world war he went out to Canada and died some years ago, leaving a widow and a daughter Jean who was killed in a car crash.

Catherine (Kitty) was the nearest approach I ever had to a sister. She was my bridesmaid when I was married. Her husband was 1st Engineer on a ship, but after the 1st world war about 1924 they went to Canada. Grandpa and I both liked her husband very much. We went to see them in about 1935, and she came and stayed with us in the Isle of Man about 5 years ago. We keep up a very regular correspondence. Her husband died about 12 years ago.

My Grandfather Parker died when I was a baby and my Grandmother Parker died when she was 63, but she always wore a bonnet and a dolman (a beaded silk cape). They must have moved from S. Wales in their early married life. My Grandmother always called her children by their full names e.g. Catherine Ann, Thomas Hughes.

Auntie Liza who married William Little (whom we still call Uncle Will to distinguish him from Uncle Willie Coulson) was a very jolly person, full of fun. She and a girl called Lizzie Oliver were my mother's great friends. One day my Mother caned a boy at school and was very upset about it, so in the evening Auntie Liza and Lizzie Oliver dressed up in my Grandmother's and called to see my Mother as the boy's Mother and Aunt. After threatening what they would do the girls began to giggle and of course my Mother recognized them. The Littles were a happy family, although Uncle Will was a bit big-headed. He was a really nice man and held several public offices. He was a great man in the Reckabi which I think was a temperance organisation. He had a painting and decorating business and all the family used to have some jolly times there.

Their elder son John went into the Customs Service and did very well. When he was Superintendant in Liverpool he was the youngest in the country and later he was made Head Inspector for all the country. He had to live in London and travelled round the country inspecting the customs service in all the big ports.

He had a painting done by Grandpa Curry of the Church in Newcastle where he and Grandma Curry were married and he promised to give it to Dora for a wedding present, as she was then engaged, but he died suddenly the next week so she did not get it.

Dora's husband was a Golf Professional at Aboyne in Aberdeen, but has now retired,

Elizabeth (Auntie Lizzie) I only saw her a few times, but she married the Rev. Donald Henderson, a Congregational Minister, who was Minister at Pudsey in Yorkshire for 30 years and from there went to Robin Hood's Bay, until he retired to Hawxwell in Yorkshire (near Leyburn). When my Father remarried, Auntie Maggie (See Parker family) went to nurse Auntie Lizzie who was very ill and died so Auntie stayed on to look after the family who consisted of Jessie who was at college when her mother died, Douglas was then about 16. As a young man he emigrated to Canada and I lost sight of him, Christine, whom we called Kitty, then about 12. I often went to stay with them until Auntie Maggie had a bad accident and had to leave them. When she went to Hawxwell Kitty and Bessie Laing ran the village Church of England school and Kitty was organist at the village Church. She and Bessie stayed on when Uncle Donald died until Kitty was killed in a cycling accident when she was in collision with a flock of sheep.

After Auntie Maggie had to leave them Uncle Donald remarried and Kitty volunteered for the London Missionary Society Field, but her stepmother died, so she thought it was her duty to stay and look after her Father.

Emma Hester was my Mother. She married my Father in 1891, when he became Congregational Minister at Bourne in Lincs. Previously she was a schoolteacher. She died when I was 3 weeks old in 1895 at the age of 29. I think she must have been a beautiful character, because although she was only in Bourne 4 years, when I was a child all kinds of people used to talk to me about her with affection and respect. In that short time she became President of the Women's Liberal Association. When the village Churches were short of a Minister, she used to go to take the services, which was an unusual thing in those days. She was born and brought up in Hartlepool and I was always said to be like her in looks. Once when I was about 17 I went into a shop in Hartlepool, the lady who served me said "I don't need to ask who you are, you are Emma Hester Curry's daughter. She used to teach me and you are just like she was then."

John. My father used to say he was the bad lad of the family, but what he did wrong I do not know. He went to America and my Mother kept in touch with him, but when she died no one kept in contact with him.

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Patrick Taylor