Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Pictures to Words


“Well that’s done with“ Emily Baldock said with a sigh and was glad that it was over.
The midwife made sure everything was ok and had left. Jason looked a bit weary, but happy.
“It’s a girl Emily, what we have been waiting for all those years.” He said.
“Jason, what you have been waiting for. I was just waiting for the day when I would stop having babies. At the age of 39 I think we could give it up.”
“Now come on Emily, think of all the pleasure our sons have given us and now we have a little girl. That will definitely be the last.”
“Jason may I remind you what you said by the birth of our twin sons two years ago. No more children, and now we have a baby girl to look after. And the twins were just not able to survive. Thomas dying last year, poor little mite, and Rueben a month ago, just as if he wanted to join his little baby brother at the churchyard. No, Jason, I love all my children, but please let Emily be our last. She is sleeping so peacefully in her bed.”
“Of course, you are right Emily, but the children are really a product of our love for each other.”
“Jason Baldock, we must be the most loving people in the village, even Hetty Gurr down the road only brought it to eight children and she has been married for at least thirty years. I sometimes think I am in competition with mankind. Have you thought of a name for our little girl.”
Jason looked at his wife “You must know my choice.”
“Yes I do, it will be Emily Agnes, named after me and my mother.”
“Our first daughter” and even a hardened farm labourer like Jason Baldock had to wipe a tear away from his eye, although he hid it in pretending to blow his nose. After so many years of marriage and bearing children Emily knew her husband well, but pretended she didn’t see through the handkerchief.

And so life went on in the Baldock family as usual. Emily made a quick recovery from the birth and within a week was back in the midst of her family. Jason was not unhappy with that, with six other hungry mouths to feed he could not stay at home looking after his wife. Little Emily was their eleventh child, although not all had survived.

Jason had married his Emily when he was only 19 years old and Edward, their first son, was born a month after the marriage. There was a bit of talk in the village about not being able to wait, but as soon as Jason and Emily were married things got back to normal. Jason would have married his Emily earlier, but being a farm labourer and her being in service at the squire’s house the only holiday they had in the year was Christmas day and on that day they married. Eleven months later George was born. The two boys were so close in age that it was just like having twins.

One fateful day Edward and George decided to go fishing. Children then did not have super fishing tackle: all they needed was a length of string and a wooden stick, the rest looked after itself. Near the house in a meadow was a pond filled by the rainwater. Suddenly George reached out too far and fell into the pond. Edward was only seven years old, George six, but Edward knew that his mother’s sister lived only just across the path and called her. When she arrived at the pond there was only George’s cap to be seen floating on the water. In the meanwhile help was organised and the village constable together with some men from the village and Emily and Jason had been called. The constable waded into the water but could only recover the lifeless body of George. Although by that time there were two other sons, one aged 3 and the other only one year old, the loss of George was so very sad. An inquest was made into the death, with the result accidental drowning.

Emily decided on that day that she wanted no more children. To go through life watching the little mites start to stand on their own feet and then be taken again, but this was the nineteenth century and birth control was something then not known. Emily’s sons all worked on the fields as labourers. Even when they got married and had families of their own, they moved into another village perhaps, but were working on the land.

The Baldock family grew and eventually there were six surviving sons and little Emily out of 12 children. One of the boys, Henry, had left the family to find fortune in America with a friend from the village. Emily and Jason were sad, but Jason’s brother had gone there some time ago and had made his way and Henry could stay with him until he found his feet in a town called Kansas City which sounded so far and strange to the likes of Jason and his wife.. After the birth of little Emily, Emily’s mothering days were not finished. A year later she gave birth to Annie Isobel who only lived for one and a half years, but she was disabled from birth so the village doctor said: something wrong with her lungs and could not breathe properly.

Emily junior grew up with her parents a happy child., Jason and Emily were proud of their little girl, When they attended church on Sunday mornings Jason always took Emily by the hand and she always had her place between her mother and father. As she grew up her elder brothers got married one after the other and went to other villages to live with their families. Emily found work in the village diary. She was also a help to her mother in the household.

One day Emily was sent to her uncle Thomas’s house. Her mother’s brother Thomas and his family had relations visiting from London and help was needed in the household. Emily welcomed the chance to visit Uncle Thomas. When she arrived at his house the London relations were already there. Amongst them was a tall good looking young man who quite took Emily’s fancy. He was from London and was related to Uncle Thomas’s wife Alice.

“Well, uncle Thomas I didn’t know you had such pretty ladies in the village.” the visitor said.
“Henry, you are making the young lady blush. That is Emily my niece and the youngest of the Baldock family. She is the only lady in the household, except for her mother, but has many brothers.”
“Hello Emily” said the London stranger, whose name seemed to be Henry. “I don’t know this place very well, would you mind if I called on your parents and asked for permission for you to show me around.”
“Not at all sir” Emily answered, blushing just a little bit. That was the only time she said “Sir” to Henry. Emily became my grandmother and Henry my grandfather.

I just couldn’t resist that one. My grandmother grew up at Sissinghurst castle in South East England and according to what I have pieced together with my family history studies it probably happened like that, although I added a bit from my imagination. Although I knew my grandmother and grandfather quite well they both died when I was still a teenager, and as it was, you just did not ask the questions you should have. My grandmother left a lot of photos showing family members as well as the area where she lived. I made a short visit to Sissinghurst two years ago. The castle is now famous for its gardens. At the time when my grandmother lived there, it was really just a farm.

The case of her brother George drowning in the pond is true. I got the records on the inquest from the authorities in England. They are written in the old handwriting and very interesting to read. There are reports given by my great grand parents and my great grandmother’s sister who was first on the scene. Very said, but George Baldock has never been forgotten, he would have been my great uncle.

The thing about marrying on Christmas day is a fact at that time. Looking in my family records I see that nearly all got married on 25th December in the last century. My grandmother and grandfather were married on 25th December 1900.

Brother Henry did go to America, did well and became a well-known figure where he lived. He was a composer, played piano well as did most of the family, and when he died my grandmother received a newspaper from her American relations showing the obituaries.

I just had to set this to paper as it is part of my family long gone, but as we say not forgotten. The story based on facts.

No comments:

Post a Comment