Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Peculiar. Very peculiar...

My father retired, I think, in 1979. I remember asking him about something and he replied that he hadn't had time to think about it yet.

"Time?" I asked him. "You're retired, Dad."

"I'll tell you," he replied, "I don't know how I ever squeezed in working full-time. It seems like I've more to do now then ever!"

That's basically how I feel just a few weeks into my summer. Time to write about George Mills? Not as much as I would have thought, and having my work e-mail shut down for a week for a system upgrading didn't help at all.

Long ago, it seems, we looked at phone numbers and addresses for the Mills family through 1925, the year of the wedding of George Mills and Vera Louise Beauclerk. It seemed a natural time to graze the British telephone directories for new listings involving George Mills. I knew he and Vera had gone to Portslade to work at Windlesham House School. I'd have expected to find him there.

Geoerge and Vera never crop up in Brighton or Portslade listings, but apparently did surface in the October 1926 London telephone directory—perfect timing, considering George had cut ties with Windlesham at the end of the Summer Term in 1926.

He had appeared at a time I would have expected, given how the events at Windlesham played out, but it was at an address I didn't expect. The 1926 listing reads: "Mills George R. A, 51 Wickham Rd. S.E. 4… New X… 2332." [And, as we know, George's full name is George Ramsay Acland Mills.]

Now, I found these London directory pages at, but their search engine always frustratingly teases you with only occasional dribs and drabs of specifically what you're looking for while often barraging you with completely unrelated references. It took awhile, but I eventually ferreted out listings for that same name, address, and phone number through the March 1929 book.

Thinking about the Mills time-line we know, George worked for some unspecified time at Warren Hill School in Meads, Eastbourne, after he and Windlesham separated in 1926. This address would seem to imply that George remained working on the southeastern coast through the end of the decade. the 51 Wickham Road address is a building housing multiple flats today, as it likely did then.

I speculated things must have been going well for the young couple, being able to both buy a home in Portslade and keep a flat in town. Of course, they may immediately sold the home in 1926. Still, it seemed a bit odd that their flat would have been in Lewisham, so far away from Kensington, where all of the kin on both sides of their families lived within a small radius.

We also know that by 1933, George had also taught in Windermere at The Craig School, and in Glion, Switzerland, at the mysterious English Preparatory School.

A second 1929 London directory came out that September, and the same listing has changed significantly, reading: "Mills, G. R. A, 27 Le May av S.E.12…….LEE Gn.. 4643." G. R. A. Mills then stays listed at 27 Le May Avenue [pictured, upper left] in each year through the May 1934 London directory.

I wondered about that, but realized that Vera would probably not have been inclined to go north with him, or to Switzerland, and probably wanted to stay near her family. 27 Le May Avenue [right] in Lewisham is actually a pretty nice home today, and must have been then as well. Still, it struck me as quite odd that, if George had been living away from home in Windermere and Switzerland, why would Vera have wanted to be residing so far from Kensington?

Vera's mother had passed away in June of 1933, as had George's father in 1932. It wouldn't be surprising if George and Vera had come into some money during that span of time, and there also would have been additional income for the couple from the publication of his first book, Meredith and Co. in 1933.

Given the financial windfalls the couple likely would have experienced, it wasn't surprising for me to find yet another new listing for G. R. A. Mills in the November 1934 phone directory: "Mills, G. R. A, 24 Beadon rd, Bromley….. RAVensbrn 0819." Using Google Maps to take a peek at 24 Beadon Road reveals a extremely fine-looking house to be moving into in the midst of the Great Depression. Not bad for a fellow who, at this time, would seem to have then found some employment as a schoolmaster at institution, seemingly lost in the mists of time, the Eaton Gate Preparatory School, London, S.W.1.

This would all seem to blow my theory about a struggling and often jobless George Mills during this time frame right out of the water! The only thing I wonder: With kin in Kensington and a job right there in Eaton Gate, why keep addresses—no matter how lovely—so far across the river in Lewisham and Bromley. Perhaps, I thought, real estate was much cheaper at the time if one purchased in the southeast of London, on the far side of the Thames.

That 24 Beadon Road listing in Bromley stays in the London telephone directory until the next watershed year in the career of George Mills: 1939. In that year, Mills publishes two books, Minor and Major as well as St. Thomas of Canterbury, after having published his second novel, King Willow, in 1938.

Predictably, with new finacial gain, that 24 Beadon Road listing disappears from the February 1939 London directory. That's not too surprising since G. R. A. Mills seems to change domiciles in tune with the major events of his life. No listing for a G. R. A. Mills replaces it, however.

Perhaps Mills had anticipated the war in a very pragmatic way. We know that George returned to the army in October 1939, becoming a paymaster in the Royal Army Pay Corps, and perhaps, knowing he planned to make that career move, he had already started to make arrangements for a change back to a career in the service of the Colours. No matter, that 24 Beadon Road listing stays out of the London directories for quite a while.

A listing for a Mrs. G. Mills soon shows up in the 1940 Exeter telephone directory: "Mills, Mrs. G, South Vw, 28 Exeter rd……..Crediton 112." Crediton is just a few miles outside of Exeter, where George could have been stationed as a paymaster at the FCO there. It would make sense: He had kin among the Aclands at Killerton and Broad Clyst.

Vera died in 1942, however, in Exmoor—again Acland land, only farther north—where there was also an FCO of the RAPC in nearby Taunton. There are no listings for any Mills, G. R. A., George, or Mrs. George, in Somerset around 1942. In fact, there are hardly any Acland listings there at that time.

By 1943, Mills relinquished his commission in the service due to "ill health." Where did he then go? A recent widower and presumably too ill to work, it would make sense for him to head to Kensington, and the care of his mother, Edith Mills, and his sisters, Agnes and Violet.

By 1948, the listing for G. R. A. Mills at 24 Beadon Road in Bromley returns to the London directory, this time sporting a barand-new telephone number "RAVensbrn 0451." Is Mills finally well again, and ready to resume his life in Bromley once more after so much time?

Again, there are very good reasons to think that 1948 is another key year in the life of George Mills, but that's something we'll get to next time.

Before I finish, here’s the caveat regarding all of this. While preparing to write this post, I happened to notice something I hadn't seen before.

There was a listing—a new London listing— I'd overlooked in the earlier 1926 London directory, the edition that had been published in April: "Newcross .. 2332 Mills, George Robert Alexander .. .. 51 Wickham rd S.E.4."

George Robert Alexander Mills. G. R. A. Mills…

That 51 Wickham Road address apparently never did belong to George and Vera Mills. I'd been fooled by the fact that after one publication, George Robert Alexander had condensed his full name to G. R. A in subsequent editions of the London directory.

What of those other addresses? Have I simply tracked the upwardly-mobile movements of George Robert Alexander Mills through 1948, and not those of George Ramsay Acland Mills at all?

Is it sheer coincidence that key dates in the life of our George Ramsay Acland Mills always seemed to—somehow, through the ether—prompt someone named George Robert Alexander Mills to relocate as well?

Or is the coincidence simply that one of those listings coincidentally saw the permanent removal of the George Robert Alexander Mills listing at the same time George Ramsay Acland Mills began his own new listing?

It's odd: I can't find any other documentation in that a gentleman named George Robert Alexander Mills existed in the United Kingdom. No birth record, no marriage, no death certificate—nothing. The only reference I could squirrel out myself was that single, April 1926 London telephone listing providing his full name.

Peculiar. Very peculiar.

Next time we'll look at some other interesting listings in the London telephone directories between 1925 and 1948 that aren't in doubt and clearly aren't listings for any George Millses at all.

These listings would have had an impact on the life of our George Mills. In two days, I'm leaving for a 10-day holiday in Michigan to spend time with friends and family there.

If you don't hear from me by then, check back around the 14th of July!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Onslow Gardens, Action in South Africa, and an Epic Match on Court No. 18

Some thoughts after watching the U.S. and England advance in the World Cup, and spending the entire rest of the day not working in the garden, but watching the incredible Nicolas Mahut-John Isner match in the inexorably fading lightof Court No. 18 at Wimbledon. After 188 service aces, 108 5th set games, two sweaty players, and a partridge in a pear tree, the match will resume—once again—tomorrow, and apparently during that long-awaited royal visit…

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was wondering about the address 38 Onslow Gardens, S.W. I think I'll just take a moment here to reflect on that.

I'd wondered about George Mills using the 38 Onslow Gardens address on his WWI enlistment papers in 1916. I wondered, since I knew the family had an address of 12 Cranley [or Cranleigh] Gardens in the recent past, might it have been George's own address, one which he shared with his half-brother, Arthur.

We've seen, however, that according to telephone records, the family had, indeed, moved to Onslow Gardens by the publication of the August 1915 London telephone directory. Now there wouldn't be any reason to think that George—who claimed to be a student on his 1916 enlistment form—wasn't residing with his parents.

And Arthur F. H. Mills, George's half-brother, talked of going to his "rooms" in London before embarking to France in 1914. Those rooms might've been at 12 Cranley Gardens, but they almost assuredly weren't at 38 Onslow Gardens, something I'd wondered about.

And as we saw in our last post, it's apparent that Rev. Barton R. V. Mills, George's father, had begun using 7 Manson Place, S.W. as a his address by 1919, even though the family ostensibly was still living at 38 Onslow. It's likely that the aging Sir George Dalhousie Ramsay—almost 92 at the time of his 1920 passing—had a family member caring for him full time in 1919, possibly Barton, or Barton in conjunction with his wife, Edith, Sir George's daughter.

Perhaps, given that the Mills used that address when George was enrolled at Christ Church, it might have been George's address. The young man may have been "enlisted" to care for his ancient grandfather after his return from the First World War, and may have been living there full time before embarking for Oxford.

Most of my questions about 38 Onslow Gardens S.W. have ended up being answered by the London telephone directories. But those directories have propmpted some new queries that we'll examine soon.

"The telephone book is full of facts, but it doesn't contain a single idea" -- Mortimer Adler

It's Father's Day, Sunday morning, 20 June, and as I write this my girls are still in bed. Last night we went out for dinner at my favorite restaurant and I had a wonderful meal: Fried calamari and bell peppers, crab and corn chowder, mussels in a light garlic wine sauce with tomatoes and basil [left], and crème brû·lée. What happy and satisfied guy I was!

This morning I find myself thinking as much about telephones, though, as anything else. They've caused me to readjust my thinking on several issues related to George Mills and his family, and have also left me with as many unanswered questions as the London telephone records have been able to answer.

George's grandfather, Arthur Mills, died on 12 October 1898. His will was probated in 1899. In 1900, George's father, the Rev. Barton R. V. Mills, lists his address as "The Vicarage, Bude Haven, N. Cornwall." Father's Day seems as food a time as any to delve more deeply into the world of Reverend Mills, George's dad!

By the 31 March 1901 census, however, the Mills family—then Barton, his wife Edith Mills, and young children Agnes, 5, and George, 4, were living at 13 Brechin Place [right] in London. In February, he had already preached sermons at the Chapel Royal at the Savoy as Vicar of Bude Haven, Cornwall, but by 24 November, Barton is listed among the Royal Chapel's assistant chaplains.

Then, by 25 April 1902, the family was found living at 16 Cranley Gardens [left, spelled "Cranley-gardens" in the London Gazette], and on 12 November George's younger sister, Violet, was born.

Later, the year of 1907 brought something else: The family's first telephone! The July 1907 listing read: "Western…. 3184 [MILLS] Rev Barton R. V… .. .. 16 Cranley Gdns." I don't know if it was a party or a private line, but it did cost £5 a year, plus long distance and trunk charges.

The next year, 1908, at the age of 51, Reverend Mills and the Savoy part ways around November for reasons that are not clear. The address of the family's listing in that year's January telephone directory changes their address to 12 Cranley Gardens [right]. The move would have been made sometime in late 1907, before Mills left the Savoy.

The telephone records remain the same until August 1915. The family listing then has a new number and a new address: "Kensington 2397 Mills Barton R. V., Rev. .. .. .. 38 Onslow Gdns SW."

The 1920 book adds a listing for "Victoria .. 2285 Mills Arthur .. .. .. .. .. 91a Ebury st S.W.1 [left]." That listing would be for George's older half-brother, Arthur F. H. Mills, and his wife, Lady Dorothy Mills.

Something else in the on-line copy of that April 1920 book is interesting. A handwritten note at the top of page 713 [MIL] reads "K 3545 Mills Barton R. V. Rev. *e/* R 4/6" [* = illegible character].

On 16 January of that year, Edith Mills's father, Sir George Dalhousie Ramsay, passed away. His home was at 7 Manson Place, S.W.7 [right].

Sir George's listing in that 1920 directory stays the same; presumably the note above simply had been switched the billing of that telephone number to the responsibility of Rev. Mills.

1921 found a big change, however: Two listings, this time in the name of "Mrs. Barton Mills," one for 38 Onslow Gardens, S.W. [Kensington 2397], and one for 7 Manson Place, S.W. [Kensington 3545]. Not only has the extra number been added to this single listing, but it has been taken out of Barton's name.

[Note: It's now three days later, Wednesday morning, and I'm finally getting around to finishing this post!]

Now, it's debatable how many siblings Edith Mills—Mrs. Barton Mills—had. Her brother, Alexander Panmure Oswald Ramsay had passed away in 1897 at the age of 30. Ramsay family genealogists today often show a third sibling, Edith Judith Ramsay, in their family trees, but I can find nothing about her except information that clearly belongs to the life of Elizabeth Edith Ramsay [Edith Mills], like a marriage to Rev. Barton R. V. Mills.

It's likely, then, that Sir George's daughter, Edith Mills, was his only surviving heir—his wife, Eleanor Ramsay, had passed away in 1918 at the age of 90. Barton Mills had been using Ramsay's '7 Manson Place' address as his own since 1919, and after Sir George's passing in 1920, that address is firmly associated with the Mills family by telephone records as well. It seems likely that, any Edith Judith Ramsay notwithstanding, Rev. Mills's wife, Edith, had inherited that Manson Place home.

In 1922, the telephone listing for Kensington 2397 returns to the name of "Mills Rev. Barton R. V." and the old Ramsay number, Kensington 3545, is no longer associated with the Mills household. Perhaps they had either sold the property at Manson Place or were renting it.

1923 brought an interesting addition to that April's London telephone directory: "Kensington 4353 Beauclerk, Mrs. Nelthorpe .. .. .. 4 Hans mans S.W.3." After arriving from America in 1919, this is the first telephone listing for the mother of Vera Louise Beauclerk, the future wife of George Mills. Therefore, by April of 1923, Vera had entered Kensington [coat of arms pictured, right], where George had likely returned after his educational stint at Oxford. Target 1923 as the year during which George meets and begins to court and woo Vera.

The last entry we'll consider here will be the 1925 listings for Rev. Barton Mills. In the archival copy of the April edition of the directory, the address of Rev. Barton R. V. Mills has bee crossed out and a note added. In the October edition, the address of the Mills family is listed as residing at "24 Hans rd S.W.3 [pictured below, left]," an address with which I was completely unfamiliar!

As you'll recall, the wedding of George and Vera Mills occurred in April of 1925. It's hard to say this event occasioned this move of the entire Mills family, but we know George and Vera bought a house in Portslade in 1925 as well. With the Mills family dwindled in size to four members: Barton, Edith, Agnes, and Violet, perhaps it was to a location that was more fitting for a family of four adults.

So, we find ourselves approaching the holidays in late 1925. The Mills are settling in at 24 Hans Road, Mrs. Beauclerk and Hilda live at 4 Hans Mansions, Arthur F. H. Mills and his wife, Lady Dorothy, are ensconced at nearby 91a Ebury Street, and George and Vera Mills are off to the southern coast near Brighton for George's junior appointment as a schoolmaster at Windlesham House.

The phone records will begin to take some interesting twists and turns as we enter the records for 1926. They'll verify some speculation, add detail to some things we already knew, and open up some new questions as they reveal some very unexpected information.

But we'll look at all that next time…

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How I've Spent My Summer Vacation

My daughter, Kendra, came down for a Father's Day weekend visit from Philadelphia, so I've spent a good part of the week sprucing our place up.

I've also spent a good deal of time answering a lot of George Mills-related questions I've had—and, unfortunately, finding as many new questions to work on as I go along.

More on that soon, but let me just say: Someone in that branch of the Mills family had a phone at one time or another since 1907!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tracking the Life and Travels of Vera Louise Beauclerk Mills, Part 2

When last we peeked in on the life and travels of Vera Louise Mills [née Beauclerk], she had just pledged her troth to George Mills at the altar of the Holy Trinity Church in Brompton on 23 April 1925.

A reception was held at the Hans-crescent Hotel afterwards, after which the couple must have honeymooned and began their lives together. The honeymoon likely didn't take too long as George was likely on holiday from his duties as a schoolmaster.

Mills, then recently of Oxford, had just secured what appears to have been a "junior appointment", a position that was "seldom held for long," at Windlesham House School [its gardens as seen in Portslade, above left]. Despite that, the new couple apparently bought a house near on Benfield Way in Portslade.

George appears to have been very active at Windlesham and quite happy. Not only was he a master there, likely in "English or English subjects," he was involved in extra-curricular activities, especially in the arts of drama and music.

In fact, to say that Mills had been happy there may be understating the reality of the situation. Mills wrote three children's books based on the acquaintances and experiences he accrued at Windlesham, and was still proudly proclaiming his allegiance to the school as late as 1935.

As we know, however, by the end of the Summer Term in 1926, Mills surprisingly disappeared from the faculty list at the school, and Windlesham seems to have recorded no reason why—although they know a remarkable amount about him personally, even today. It has been speculated that Mills was one of the prep school masters at that time who were "excited about the General Strike" that occured during term.

British teachers at the time, according to the book, The General Teaching Council, by John Sayers, were more politically charged—confrontational and involved in unionization—than ever in the 1920s, and Mills could well have been involved. Still, given his family and connections, and those of his new bride, along with his newfound position as household breadwinner, I simply find it hard to believe that Mills would have been willing to chuck a plum job like the one he'd found in Portslade in favor of playing union politics. I find it more likely that the school found he'd lied about having a "B.A. Oxon" but, liking him very well, allowed him to resign rather than being dismissed.

Over the next decade or more, Mills became an itinerant teacher, and given the economic landscape of the Great Depression, he may well have been forced to find work at other positions as well to support his young bride.

Mills lists his teaching stops between 1926 and 1933 as the defunct Warren Hill School [right] in Eastbourne [actually Meads], The Craig School in Windermere, the mysterious English Preparatory School in Glion. Later, in 1938, he will add the surprisingly unknown Eaton Gate Preparatory School in London. How long Mills taught at each institution is simply unknown as these schools have been largely if not completely forgotten by their various communities.

Vera Mills, we can assume, had a mother still residing at 4 Hans-mansion, S.W., for at least the outset of this time period of one dozen years. Would she have traveled with Mills as he moved about?

It's possible George lived in the master's dormitory at Warren Hill, but perhaps not, preferring to reside in Portslade and drive to Eastbourne. From Benfield Way by automobile, he'd likely have to have driven down Old Shoreham Road east, turned south until it met the coastal highway, A259, through Seaford and between Eastbourne Downs and Beachy Head, on into The Meads. The trip would have been over 35 kilometers, one way, each morning to make the school bell and breakfast with the boys.

Given the technological advances of the time, autos were clearly hardy enough to make that journey easily in 1926. However, with a round-trip of 70 km, each day, all week, one wonders if there was such a 'commuter culture' at the time that Mills would have done it. Would Mills really have spent that much time behind the wheel of an automobile to teach?

It's natural to assume, from today's perspective he might've commuted by auto, but it simply seems to me so unlikely. Perhaps he rode the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, traveling from Brighton into Eastbourne daily on the East Coastway Line. Would that have been a better possibility? I suppose it's also possible he'd sold the house and just moved Vera over to Eastbourne, but I'm not sold on that idea either.

Either way, he was subsequently off to Windermere in Cumbria, anyway, and then to Glion, Switzerland, and one wonders for how long those positions were held, and whether or not Vera was in tow in those cases as well.

Vera's family had been certainly not one to worry about whether or not a wife accompanied a breadwinning husband at his out-of-town [or out-of-country] employment. Her grandmother, Hester Hart, as we know, gained a reputation for being "the absentee wife" of Sir Robert Hart in Peking, China, and she consequently almost evaporates from the family record.

Hester left China with two of her children, Bruce and Nollie, in 1881. Except for what were characterized as "rare and brief visits," she never returned to live with Sir Robert [right]. He faithfully corresponded with her until he left China in 1908, and there was one 17 year period during which the husband and wife never met, although Hart "provided generously for her rather luxurious style of life in England."

By 1878, Hester had "established" her children with her mother in Portadown, Ireland, to arrange for and oversee their educations, and then she began "the life of independence and travel that was to be hers over a long lifetime." Hart's London agent in Customs "reported her whereabouts from time to time, but mainly by hearsay."

Sir Robert provided Hester, then Lady Hart, "a house in a good section of London together with a handsome allowance and frequent presents. [She] entertained well and traveled widely."

Vera's mother, Evelyn Amy Hart Beauclerk, had been educated in England and Ireland and apparently came to visit Sir Robert in Peking in 1892, having been between "Aden and Colombo" in March earlier that year, traveling to China with her uncle, James Hart.

While in Peking with her father, "Evey" decided to marry the First Secretary of the British Legation, William Nelthorpe Beauclerk, a British diplomat who was assigned to China, Hungary, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia from 1890 through his death in 1908.

Her mother, Hester, did not attend the "Jerusalem style" ceremony in Peking.

After her honeymoon, the soon pregnant Evelyn was in England in early in 1893 when her father posted a letter to his London agent, Campbell, on 18 February to cover the cost of a new maid for "Evey." Where Beauclerk was or why he could not cover the cost is unknown. She would soon return to China, however.

Vera was born on 5 September 1893, and Evelyn left China the very next day! "Evey" would soon return to Peking, as her younger sister, Hilda, would be born there in 1895.

By 1896, however, Beauclerk was assigned to the legation in Hungary, and I find it hard to believe that with an endowed mother in London and a rich father in Peking, that "Evey" would be raising her two infant girls in Hungary. This is especially true since the duties he would encounter in his new eastern European locale were characterized as a "hard card to play—against Russia and France politically, and against Germany (von Brandt) economically."

Evelyn, who had family and economic roots in both the United Kingdom and Peking, may indeed have followed Beauclerk, twenty years her senior, from Asia, to Europe, and on to South America. From her earliest life, though, Evelyn would not have seen a her own father and mother together as husband and wife very often, if at all.

And it's quite likely newlywed Vera Mills had never seen that either. It's hard to imagine Vera sitting alone in Bowness-on-Windermere in distant Cumbria, waiting for Mills to come home from a hard day up at The Craig, especially after she had led a relatively cosmopolitan lifestyle—one that certainly was not in any way limited in its opportunities to socialize and travel.

I can imagine her seeing George in Glion once or twice, but not finding herself by any means chained to an English prep school there. It simply doesn't seem to have been something the women in her family would have ever considered!

In my mind, there's no way Vera was following George around the United Kingdom and Europe, simply in his tow. Her own mother was clearly quite established in a nice part of Kensington in 1925, and her monied grandmother, Hester, wouldn't pass on until 1928 in Bournemouth, Hampshire, at the age of 80. Vera clearly had places to stay and people to spend time with while George pursued his career in the preparatory education of boys!

By 1933, however, the sands had begun to shift.

In that year, George Mills published his first book, Meredith and Co.: The Story of a Modern Preparatory School, with the Oxford University Press. Aspects of it indicate that he'd been back in London for a while.

In the book's preface, Mills thanks a close friend, Mr. H. E. Howell, who has been associated with All Saints Church Margaret Street, just to the northeast of Hans-mansions, past Hyde Park Corner and Grosvenor Square, as well as mentioning a headmaster from a school in Brackley.

He's also had a difficult, perhaps even bitter, time editing the book under the eye of a Mr. E. M. Henshaw, whose name disappears from later editions of the book. It's unkown if Henshaw was employed by the O. U. P., but Mills obviously was obliged to pay attention to his "devastating, but most useful, criticisms"—criticisms he may not have found in a softer editor outside of the hard core of British publishing in London.

George's parents were probably still in Onslow Gardens, at least until the passing of George's father, Barton, in 1932. Mills's brother and sister-in-law, Arthur and Lady Dorothy Mills, also lived just south of there on Ebury Street, at least through their divorce in 1933.

Yes, there certainly were a lot of reasons for Mills to have finally returned to this area by the early 1930s!

There's no reason to think, then, that Vera is not with George at this time, 1933, no matter where she may have been during his nomadic years just before. The questions are: Did they have a place of their own in 1933? Were they living with George's parents in Onslow Gardens? Or might they have been residing with Vera's family? One wonders where George was actually sitting as he was writing the manuscript for Meredith and Co.!

1933 brings us to another interesting piece of paperwork as well: A manifest from a ship called the Dempo from the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd Line that steamed into the harbor in Southampton, England, on 10 April 1933. Aboard were Vera's mother, Evelyn Amy Beauclerk, and sister, Hilda de Vere Beauclerk, ages 64 and 38 respectively, sailing in from Surabaya, Indonesia, on an itinerary that had included stops in Singapore, Belawan, Colombo, Tanger, Port Said, Marseilles, Gibraltar, and Lisbon.

The address of both Mrs. Beauclerk and Hilda is listed on that document as "45 Knightsbridge Court, London SW. 1." That address today would seem to be in the vicinity of Harrod's, premier hotels, fine shopping and dining, the Kuwaiti Embassy, and an awful lot of expensive-looking automobiles. Might it have been a pretty nice area back then as well?

Yes, perhaps I can imagine Vera shopping out on Knightsbridge in April 1933 while George pecks at his typewriter near a window in his mother-in-law's fine home, awaiting the arrival of both "Evey" and Hilda from their voyage to the Far East.

Hilda would very soon marry Canadian Miles Malcolm Acheson [who puzzlingly was not aboard the Dempo, at least not as a passenger, but was employed then by Chinese Maritime Customs] on 21 June 1933, just over two months after their arrival in Southampton. Had she arrived home for just in time for her own wedding, which was held in Canterbury, Kent?

Unfortunately her mother, Evelyn Beauclerk, never attended the affair, having passed away on 10 June 1933, exactly two months after their arrival!

Given the 1928 passing of Vera's grandmother, Hester, the 1932 death of George's father, Barton, with his sister-in-law, Lady Dorothy, still recovering from a horrific car 1929 accident, with his brother Arthur's divorce dragging from 1932 into 1933, which had followed on the heels of the death of Lady Dorothy's own father in New Zealand in 1931, it certainly had to have been a difficult five years for the families of George and Vera, particularly with George seemingly having apparently suffered concurrent employment woes and the world having been embroiled in a Great Depression!

1935, however, found George casually visiting Steyning, and singing the praises of Windlesham House School, while mentioning he'd authored a book based on Windlesham and Warren Hill back in 1933. Was Vera along? Perhaps not. Either way, he was apparently in good spirits that day!

1938 saw George publishing a sequel to Meredith and Co. called King Willow, this time with G. G. Harrap & Co. In the book's dedication, dated June 1938, he mentions that "Eaton Gate Preparatory School" in "London, S.W. 1," where he presumably had been teaching sometime between 1933 and that year. Eaton Gate is in Belgravia, just a stone's toss from "Cadogen Gardens" [where George's sisters will be living by 1935] and presumably less than a half-mile south of where Evelyn Beauclerk had lived at Hans-mansions in 1925, and in Knightsbridge in 1933.

Unfortunately, the school using that particular name has been forgotten completely, although there is another prep school at Eaton Gate today.

In 1939, George published two more books, Minor and Major [the third in his trilogy of tomes based at least partly on beloved characters from his fictional Leadham House School] and St. Thomas of Canterbury, which was published in Burns, Oates & Co.'s "Shilling Series" of children's books.

Surprisingly, at least for me, 1939 also found Mills abandoning any career he might have had as an author and returning to the military as a commissioned officer and paymaster at the outset of Britain's entry into the Second World War on 3 September 1939. Mills, 44, was commissioned on 11 October of the same year and given the rank of Lieutenant.

Not bad for a fellow who, some twenty years before, had checked out of the army after the First World war holding the rank of Lance Corporal!

I had assumed Mills had been assigned to a Royal Army Pay Corps in London or Sussex, but I now believe that I was wrong. I think he must have been assigned to the RAPC in Taunton [right].

His grandfather, Arthur Mills, had been an M.P. from Taunton from 1852-1853 and 1857-1865. The family of George's grandmother, Lady Agnes Lucy Acland Mills, owned a great deal of land in northern Devon and into Somerset. His great-grandfather, Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, had been a lord and power broker over an area of land that ranged from the rocky coast of Cornwall, through Devon, past Exmoor, and on into Taunton throughout the late 19th century.

The Holnicote Estate in Exmoor has been owned and managed by the National Trust since 1944, but it had been a home of the Acland family, along with Killerton in Devon. I'm not suggesting that Mills lived there while he worked for the RAPC, but I suspect he at the very least may have lived nearby.

The death certificate of Vera Louise Mills was filed in Exmoor, Somerset, on 5 January 1942. Holnicote House is a good ways from Taunton, but the Aclands would have had plenty of land around there [pictured is a 1890s cottage in part of the estate called Selworthy Green]. Perhaps George rented one of the estate's 170-some cottages from the Aclands. Perhaps, with a war on and George in the service, he was even given a place to stay with Vera free of charge. Could it even be that Vera stayed on as a guest of the estate itself with George at the barracks? One could easily imagine a cosmopolitan girl like Vera making herself quite at home in such surroundings!

Perhaps, though, George Mills simply had been randomly assigned to Taunton. After all, there wouldn't have been too many places around southern England where he could have landed and you couldn't have made a case that he'd have had some kin nearby, or in a locale that had had something to do with his family's history. Still, he didn't end up in Manchester, Leicester, or York with virtually no connections. He landed in Taunton.

The circumstances of Vera's death are unknown to me. Just 48, she seems to have been so very young to have died. Still, I don't know what caused her passing. Illness? An accident? It's hard to say, just as it's hard to say exactly what effect it might have had on George.

Mills, a man who was known for his humorous stories and for "making people laugh, a lot," presumably had a good relationship with his wife. He obviously had been working well at his desk in the Pay Corps, having been promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in April of 1942.

Yet, on 3 November 1943, Mills relinquished his commission on account of "ill health" and was given the honorary rank of Lieutenant.

Is it a coincidence that Mills took so sick within two years of Vera's death that his health drove him from the armed forces during the middle of a global conflict during which Great Britain literally had its hands full?

Perhaps. But one actually might tend think that George—not coming from a nuclear family in which husbands and wives lived separate lives, and by 1942 finally having the chance to spend quality time together with Vera while he was gainfully and steadily employed—took her death very hard.

[To read Part 1, click HERE.]

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sidebar: Considering the Life of Sir Robert Hart and Family

Right now, let's take a breather in the midst of our look at the life of Vera Louise Beauclerk, wife of George Mills. Considering her family of origin's past may help us interpret how she may have reacted to some of the events she'll be facing in her married life with George, as we'll learn next time. Today, though, we'll look at the marriages of both her grandfather and her mother.

As was mentioned yesterday, Vera was the granddaughter of Sir Robert Hart of Ireland [pictured left, in 1866], the Inspector-General of Foreign Customs in Peking, who was born on 20 February 1835. Oddly, quite the opposite of how most of my Mills-related research has gone, gaining information about the life of Robert "Robin" Hart has revealed a proliferation of anecdotes and quirks, instead of the relative dearth of personal details that typically remain after the death of someone who lived so long ago. For example, even his favorite poets, songs, books, and even his tailor are still known!

Hart, already ensconced for 12 years as a key figure in the Chinese legation by the mid-1860s, returned to the United Kingdom in 1866, leaving Hong Kong on Tuesday, 27 March, at 8 am on the steamship Camboge. The passage took 42 days, and he finally arrived at Dover on 5 May 1866, in Dublin the next day, then traveled on to his family's home in Lisburn.

Here is the scene on 25 May in nearby Portadown, Ireland, as Hart was introduced to his future bride, Hester Jane Bredon, as told in the book
Hart of Lisburn by Stanley Bell [I have made some corrections of obvious typographical errors]:

In the course of the afternoon [Mrs. Bredon's] beautiful and attractive young daughter Hester Jane (Hessie) was introduced to him. Hester entertained him by playing on her piano. It is said that she was as skilled a pianist as she was attractive. Robert either had or suddenly acquired a great interest in music and her mother invited him back some time before he left again for China. He liked her music, but most of all he had in the course of a few hours met his ideal girl. Writing in his diary later, he describes her as being intelligent, wide-awake, lively, and able to hold her own against most people.

Robert was not one for wasting time, and so the very next day, Tuesday the 5th June, he had tea again with the Bredons. As he made his way up the long lane to Ballintaggart House, he must have said a few prayers for God's help and guidance. Afterwards whilst Hessie was playing the piano in the drawing room he asked, "Could you find it in your heart to come to China with me?" Those were the exact words Robert wrote in his diary that night. She stopped playing immediately and, although she was only eighteen years old, she agreed right away. How could she refuse? When he was only 10 days old his aunt predicted that she would marry him. Seriously, it was quite a decision to take, involving not only leaving her mother, marrying a man of 31 (and her only 18) whom she had only met for a few hours the previous day, but leaving her home and going to a strange country which she had only heard about 24 hours ago. What a decision!

Pressure to return to China caused their original wedding date to be brought forward: Robert Hart and Hester Jane Bredon were married on the 22nd August 1866 at the Parish Church of St. Thomas, near O'Connell Street in Dublin. Their honeymoon was spent amongst the romantic lakes of Killarney and having rides up and down the lanes of the byways and highways of County Kerry by jaunting car. It was a great time they had, isolated from all the problems of China, and one which they were to remember for the rest of their lives.

After returning to Peking, the Harts had their first child on New Year's Eve, 1868. The event was marked by the following mesaage, sent via a special telegram from the Chinese Post Office, regarding the birth of Vera Beauclerk's future mother, Evelyn Amy Hart: "TO HENRY HART LISBURN IRELAND , GIRL BORN DEC. 31 ST. MOTHER STRONG, CHILD HEALTHY, ALL WELL, HAPPY NEW YEAR."

The story continues:

It was not until the 9th April that arrangements were made by Hessie to have Godmothers for the baby. Mrs. Lowder and Mrs. Burdon (wife of the minister who baptised the baby) were duly appointed. Then the I.G. [Hart] drew up a short list of four names for the baby. His wife was to choose one of the names for the baby. The names on the short list were Evelyn Amy, Evelyn Rose, Florence Isobel, and Gertrude Elaine. On Sunday, 11th April, the baby was christened in church by the Rev. John S. Burdon. The name given to the little lady was Evelyn Amy. She was known to the family as "Evey." Writing to his London agent, Campbell on 27th May 1869, "Mrs. Hart and the baby are quite well; the little one thrives well, and is great company for the mother." And again on the 1st September 1871, "Evey has had whooping-cough, but is now all right again. She's a demure little body, and her Chinese—why it's wonderful! I have worked hard for years, and yet nature, without any effort, has filled her little head with words, and given her little tongue a pliancy, that are miles and miles beyond my aim. But, poor child, her English is of the narrowest dimensions."

Edgar Bruce Hart was born in China on 8 July 1874 [Sir Robert's puzzling comment on the birth of his second child and first son: "Thank God it is all over. I'd as soon have had a girl."]. Lastly, Hart's third child, Mabel Milburne Hart [called "Nollie"] was born in November 1879.

Sir Robert actually had spent much of 1878 abroad in Paris, Ireland, and Germany, and had wintered in Brighton into February of 1879. He departed England in March, traveling with his pregnant wife and his two children, arriving in Shanghai on 5 May 1879. He would not leave China again for some 30 years.

Finally, we take a look at one last excerpt from Bell's 1985 book on Hart:

As the children grew bigger and needed schooling, it was decided for their benefit that Hessie would go back to Europe with them. For nearly 17 years Robert was separated from his wife for this purpose and their only means of communication was by letters, which were written regularly each week, usually on Sunday.

His failing health, and the death on 3 December 1907 of James D. Campbell, his London agent and long-time confidant, convinced him to finally retire. Hart finally placed his position in Peking into the hands of Francis Aglen on 20 April 1908.

In April 1908, Sir Robert left China, technically on leave; he would not officially retire until 1910. The aging Hart sailed alone aboard the the R. P. D. Yorck of the Norddeutscher Lloyd Line, leaving Yokahama and stopping at ports in Yokohama, Singapore, Kobe, Shanghai, Colombo, Hong Kong, Penang, Port Said, Genoa, Naples, Gibraltar, and Algier, before steaming into Southampton, England, on 11 June 1908.

Presumably, Hart knew he would be seeing England and leaving China for the last time.

Now Vera Louise Beauclerk's mother, Evelyn "Evey" Hart, had been raised and educated in Europe in the 1880s, seemingly under the watchful eye of an older cousin, Juliet Bredon. Having been schooled in both Bournemouth and Dublin, she lived half a world away from her father as he worked in Peking. Such an arrangement was not bound to encourage a great deal of familial closeness, especially since Evelyn's mother, Hessie, is obviously neither with her nor with Sir Robert.

Sir Robert, as noted, arrived in England in the summer of 1908. That elder daughter, "Evey" Hart, now Mrs. Evelyn Beauclerk, age 38, had sailed into Southampton a year before. She arrived on the Atrato of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, docking on 13 August 1907 following an itinerary that included Colon, Savanilla, Jamaica, Cartagena, Demerara, Trinidad, Barbados, Antigua, and Grenada. She had obviously been traveling from South America.

Back on 5 September 1892, Evelyn had married William Nelthorpe Beauclerk, a relative of the Duke of St. Albans. Sir Robert was apparently not thrilled by the twenty-year difference in their ages, the groom having been married before and born on 7 April 1849. He, however, didn't approve of any of his children's marriages and once wrote to Campbell in London: "I expected great things from my children and spared no money to procure them educational advantage; it has all been wasted..."

Beauclerk had served as the secretary to the British legation at Peking from 1890 to 1896, where he presumably met and courted Evelyn in 1892, after she'd returned from her education in Europe. Vera was born of that union in 1893, and her sister, Hilda, in 1895.

According to the 1906 edition of
Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, Beauclerk then became consul-general in Hungary from 1896 through 1898. In 1898, he was named resident Minister and consul-general in Lima in the Republic of Peru, while serving as Minister to Ecuador in Quito as well. In 1903, he added Bolivia to his responsibilities.

I can think of no other reason for Evelyn to have been traveling alone from the West Indies to Southampton in 1907 than that she'd recently visited her husband in South America for the last time—Beauclerk died in Lima, Peru, on 5 March 1908 at 58—and then traveled on to England to see relatives. Did she know of her father's impending retirement, or did her presence in England play some role in Sir Robert's decision to retire in that year? Is it even possible that her girls, Vera and Hilda, were there in school, much as she herself had been years before?

Either way, it served to create a reunion in England among some of the family, although it may or may not have included Vera or her sister, Hilda. Sir Robert died of pneumonia at 10 pm on the 20th September 1911 in his home in Great Marlow in "Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire." He was buried nearby in the graveyard of the church of Bisham opposite the River Thames.

Hester Hart later passed away in Bournemouth, Hampshire in 1928. Bournemouth had been one site of Evelyn Amy's early education, before her school closed and "Evey" was moved to Bray, near Dublin. Amazingly, Hester disappears into the proverbial woodwork of Sir Robert Hart's life, and little is really ever known about her. Even Wikipedia's entry on Sir Robert fails to mention her name.

I've been unable to find much about Hester Hart, who apparently did not go about much even during the times she was actually in China, and became known as Hart's "
absentee wife." Her absence likely prompted Hart's romantic involvement with a Chinese concubine, Ayaou. Hester, however, appears on no incoming U.K. manifests that I can find, and was somehow presumably already in England when Sir Robert arrived there in 1908.

Vera Louise Beauclerk was born and probably raised in China. Was she educated abroad, perhaps in England or Europe, as was her mother, Evelyn? Right now, there's nothing solid that would lead us to believe that: We only know for sure that Vera could read and write.

One thing we do know, however, is that among Vera's grandparents [Robert and Hessie Hart] and her parents [William and Evey Beauclerk], an absentee marriage was by far the rule, rather than the exception. In her family of origin, wives and husbands were certainly rarely close geographically, no matter how "close" they may once have been otherwise.

Would this proclivity within her family for husbands and wives to live separately because of a husband's occupational commitments carry into Vera's own marriage with George Mills?

That's something we'll consider next time as we return to taking a closer look at the life of Vera Louise Beauclerk as Mrs. George Mills!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tracking the Life and Travels of Vera Louise Beauclerk Mills, Part 1

What an exciting World Cup match yesterday! The U.S. and England put on quite a show, and despite U.S. expert predictions of a hard-fought American 2-1 win and British prognostications of an easy 3-1 win, no one hit the nail on the head. In the States with our less-than-complete understanding of all of this, it's said that a tie is like kissing your sister. That's why we're still adjusting to games without clear-cut winners and losers on a global stage.

Speaking of the global stage, one character in our story of George Mills who could claim to be an international entity would be his wife, Vera Louise Beauclerk. Let's turn back the clock a bit…

As we know, Sir Robert Hart [pictured, right], 1st Baronet, G.C.M.G., [20 February 1835 – 20 September 1911], was a
British consular official in China, who served from 1863-1911 as the second Inspector General of China's Imperial Maritime Custom Service (IMCS). After his retirement, Hart became Pro-Chancellor of Queen’s University.

Hart's first daughter, Evelyn "Evey" Amy Hart [b. 1869 in China; d. 10 June 1933], married William Nelthorpe Beauclerk [born 7 April 1849] on 5 September 1892 in Peking, China. Beauclerk, twenty years her senior, was of the lineage of the Duke of St. Albans, and eventual consul to Peru, where he died in Lima on 5 March 1908.

They had spent enough time on the same continent to have had two children, Vera Louise Beauclerk, born on 21 September 1893, and Hilda de Vere Beauclerk on 21 January 1895. The girls were also born in China, Vera apparently in the Chefoo British Consulate in Chefoo, Shan-Tung. There is a record on, however, that lists Vera's birthplace as "Wafangdian, Fu Xian, Liaoning, China."

Vera sailed out of Sydney, Australia, on 10 March 1913 on the S.S. Marama with her mother and sister, Hilda. She is listed as being 19 years old at the time, and the family is listed as "tourists" traveling to a final destination in London, England. Other details of that ship's manifest [pictured in excerpts below, left] assure us that each family member could both read and write, that each one was in possession of at least $50 at the time, and that Evelyn had visited the U.S. once for 3 months and had toured "all over," while the 1913 landing in Honolulu was the first visit to the United States for both daughters. The trio is listed as being in "good" mental and physical health, as not being "polygamists" or "anarchists," and are all listed as having been born in Peking, China.

The manifest states that, as citizens of England, they are going "home," and describes the physical appearance of each: Mrs. Beauclerk and Vera Louise both being 5 foot 6 inches tall, with brown hair, blue eyes, and a "dark" complexion. Hilda is also 5' 6", but with "straw" hair [straw-colored? strawberry blonde?], green eyes, and a "fair" complexion.

They arrived in Honolulu on 21 March.

In that year of 1913, Mrs. Beauclerk would have been traveling as a widow with her teen-aged girls.

The next shipping manifest on which we find the ladies listed is dated over six years later [right]. The trio embarked from New York and arrived in London on the 'Saxonia' on 5 May 1919. Although there is less on this manifest, there is still information to be gleaned.

The ladies, now aged 50, 25, and 27 [although the girls' ages are reversed, and Vera is actually only 26], list their address as both "Honk Kong-Shangai Bank." and "9 Grace Street London E C." Their occupations are given as "None."

They list their "Country of Intended Future Permanent Residence" as "England." Very interestingly, however, they list their "Country of Last Permanent Residence" as having been the "USA"—that being defined on the manifest as: "By Permanent Residence is to be understood residence for a year or more."
Thus, we find the Beauclerk women entering the United States via Honolulu in 1913 and departing via New York in 1919 for London. In between, the only thing we can be sure of is that they spent "a year or more" as "permanent residents" in the USA immediately before their departure for England. There is no record of them leaving or re-entering the United States between 1913 and 1919.

Wikipedia describes the state of Atlantic shipping during that time, at the onset of the First World War: "Many of the large liners were laid up over the autumn/winter of 1914-1915, in part due to falling demand for passenger travel across the Atlantic, and in part to protect them from damage due to mines or other dangers. Among the most recognizable of these liners, some were eventually used as troop transports, while others became hospital ships."

Did the Beauclerks initially stay in the U.S. either for fear of crossing the Atlantic to England, or because they had difficulty making arrangements due to declining departures? Were they simply the self-described "tourists" of the Marama's manifest, or did Mrs. Beauclerk have family and/or friends with whom they could connect and stay? After all, she had once traveled "all over" the U.S. for months without her daughters, and that may not have been alone. Is it also possible there were relatives in Canada?

Wikipedia continues: "By early 1915 a new threat began to materialize: submarines. At first they were used by the Germans only to attack naval vessels, and they achieved only occasional – but sometimes spectacular – successes. Then the U-boats began to attack merchant vessels at times, although almost always in accordance with the old cruiser rules. Desperate to gain an advantage on the Atlantic, the German Government decided to step up their submarine campaign. On 4 February 1915 Germany declared the seas around the British Isles a war zone: from 18 February Allied ships in the area would be sunk without warning."

The same Wikipedia entry goes on to say: "At the end of 1917 Allied shipping losses stood at over 6 million GRT for the year overall… [but] by 1918, U-boat losses had reached unacceptable levels, and the morale of their crews had drastically deteriorated; by the autumn it became clear that the Central Powers could not win the war. The Allies insisted that an essential precondition of any armistice was that Germany surrender all her submarines, and on 24 October 1918 all German U-boats were ordered to cease offensive operations and return to their home ports."

By the end of 1918, one can assume that the waters of the North Atlantic were again safe to travel, and the Beauclerks continued their long-delayed journey to London—a journey that could conceivably have taken them six years to complete!
Specifically regarding the Saxonia, here's information from the Cunard Line, via "The outbreak of World War I, in July 1914, forced a change in the [passenger] ship's role. After returning to Liverpool the Saxonia sailed to the Thames to be used as a POW accommodation ship. It soon returned to the company's service and, between May 1915 and October 1916, made several voyages from Liverpool to New York. It was not until 1917 that the Saxonia was again requisitioned by the government, this time to carry troops and cargo between Liverpool and New York. After the war ended the ship was employed transporting American troops from France home to New York. This task was completed by April 1919 and the Saxonia was free to return to commercial service."

The Beauclerks were on board the Saxonia during that first post-WWI trip from New York to Plymouth and London. Why they chose not to sail on passenger cruises between May 1915 and October 1916 is open to conjecture, but it seems likely that while fear may have played into the decision to stay in the U.S., they must also have been in a comfortable situation somewhere over here and were willing to wait for an end to the hostilities.

The Beauclerks would have arrived at 9 Grace Street in London [pictured, left] soon after leaving the Saxonia on 5 May 1919. George Ramsay Acland Mills arrives at Christ Church with his father, Rev. Barton Mills, on 19 October 1919, so the future bride and groom are finally both in London! By 19 October, George was 23 and Vera was 27 years of age.

By the time of the nuptials of Miss V. L. Beauclerk and Mr. G. R. A. Mills on 23 April 1925, Mrs. Beauclerk is residing at "4, Hans-mansion, S.W." according to The Times. While entering that "Hans-mansion" address into Google Maps only turns up a location near Datça, Turkey, I can find a "Hans" area very close to the Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, where George and Vera were wed and the hotel where their reception was held. It's also a stone's throw from "Cadogen Gardens, S.W." where we found George's sisters, Agnes and Violet Mills, living with an unknown "Barbara Mills" in 1938.

In fact, the Mills' homes in both Cranley [Cranleigh] and Onslow Gardens were less than a mile to the southwest of the area of the wedding, making Kensington the hotbed of Mills family activity between the wars in the early 20th century.

Anyway, George Mills spent time at Christ Church [below, left] from October 1919 through May 1921. On the 21st of May that year, Mills entered Oxford. How long he stayed at Oxford is unknown because he neither takes his final examinations nor a degree.

By 1925, however, he is employed as an Oxford graduate at Windlesham House School, then in Portslade, and begins teaching in "Lent 1925." I'm not exactly sure when that term began, but in 1925, Ash Wednesday fell on February 25.

Two months later, Mills was married. I think it's safe to assume from the size of his wedding and location of the reception, it had been planned for some time. Is it safe to say he proposed marriage to Vera and asked for her hand in 1923 or early 1924?

How and when George met Vera is unknown. Their families obviously lived within the same London district, and perhaps they all attended Holy Trinity there in Brompton. By the early 1920's, though, George's brother, Arthur, and sister-in-law, Lady Dorothy Mills, are gaining notoriety as novelists, so perhaps George was invited to functions in exclusive literary circles where he became acquainted with Vera.

No matter how they met, the couple set sail in matrimony in 1925, after Vera, born in China, had probably spent years in the United States.

Next time we'll take a look at Vera's life after her marriage and, unfortunately, her early death. Until then, however, I'd like to extend many thanks to Alan Ramsay and his work on for linking the Beauclerks to the Saxonia's manifest—and for opening up a new line of research for me!

[To read Part 2 right now, click HERE.]