Thursday 25 September 2014

Family history again

Last week's Church Times turns out to include a photograph of my great-grandfather, the Revd G. Henry Mullins - third from left in the back row.  The graves of his parents, parents-in-law and four of his children have featured here recently - along with a picture of him with his family.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Some Launde Abbey windows

Two in the Chapel and one from the bedroom in which I spent a night last week.

I've also been working on a prayer to use at a Methodist District Safeguarding Conference at which I am due to speak.  I used it at the beginning of a session at the Bishop's Council residential meeting, which is why we were at Launde.

O God, 

you know our stance is perilous, 
fragile as pottery: 
safeguard those we endanger 
as we carry your richness 
within our frailty.

It obviously draws on my recent attention to 2 Corinthians 4.7:

We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.  

It is also developed from a sixth century prayer (here in Latin, in a literal translation and in the Book of Common Prayer version):

Deus, qui nos in tantis periculis constitutos, pro humana scis fragilitate non posse subsistere: da nobis salutem mentis et corporis ut ea quae pro peccatis nostris patimur, te adjuvante, vincamus.

O God, you who know that we, set in such great dangers, are not able to hold out because of human fragility: grant us health of mind and body; so that, you helping us, we may vanquish those things which we suffer on account of our sins.

O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations.       

Monday 8 September 2014

Marrying clergy

I won’t begin to clutter up this Blog with too much family history, but all four grandparents of the siblings whose grave I posted about yesterday are buried in two graves near each other in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery in Oxford and it was a place to which I recently said I’d return.

The children’s father Henry was the son of George and Susannah Mullins whose grave pictured twice above has been featured before.

The children’s mother Jessie was the daughter of Thomas and Martha Mallam whose grave is pictured three times above; Jessie’s middle name was Martha. 

Thomas Mallam was involved in the building of St Philip & James' Church in Oxford near his home on the Woodstock Road.  Newly ordained Henry Mullins was the first Curate at that church.  So this provides a simple setting for their meeting.

Yesterday’s post identified the Revd J E Stocks and E J Mallam as godparents of Henry and Jessie Mullins’ son Cecil in 1871 - Emily Mallam was Jessie’s sister and Stocks was Curate at St Philip & James and they were married later in the year so the pattern repeated itself.

And the following year one of Jessie and Emily’s sisters (twenty-two year old Adelaide) married the first Vicar of the church (the Revd J B Gray, seventeen years her senior).

So three of Thomas and Martha Mallam’s daughters in turn married clergy from the church – I’m not clear whether their home provided a safe marriage bureau for the single clergy of the church or whether the church provided one for the daughters.

Sunday 7 September 2014

Uppingham agony

There is a poem by David Scott (which I have used on some Good Fridays in particular) responding to the ‘quiet agony’ of the deaths from scarlet fever in one month in 1856 of five daughters of the Dean of Carlisle .  It  concludes

...  at their prayers each day
in a borrowed house, they tested
the Bible texts against a silent nursery

and ‘testing the Bible texts against a silent nursery’ remains a definitive phrase for me.

It came to mind yesterday when I re-visited after a number of years the single grave at Uppingham of four of my grandfather’s siblings, although they did not die within the space of a month; I had to work hard at clearing the surface before I could read the rapidly disappearing inscription.

Henry Mullins was a clergyman and a Housemaster at Uppingham School.  He and his wife Jessie lost their first and third children (a Jessie and Reginald) as babies in turn in 1867 and in 1870, and their fourth child (Cecil) aged four and a half in 1875. 

I have a small notebook in which Jessie recorded the details of all ten of their children including this entry for Cecil.  The typhoid epidemic came close to ruining the School and therefore I know of Henry’s quiet agony almost directly from the published diaries of the Headmaster of the time:

Mullins had already told me there was no hope for his little boy... I found him quite perplexed... overdone in body and mind, expecting his little boy to die every minute.

Here is the family at the centre of a house photograph nearly nine years later.  Henry is on the right in the back row and their very tall sixteen year old second child Herbert is next to him. 

Jessie is at the centre of the second row.  She has sons Walter (aged seven) and Joe (aged nine – he was a new born baby in the house when typhoid took his brother Cecil) on either side of her and Jack (aged four) holding her hand.  My grandfather Lance (aged six) is in front of Walter and his sister Agnes (aged eleven) is in front of Jack.

A tenth and youngest child Charles was two at the time of the photograph and does not appear in it.

It is Walter who is the fourth occupant of the grave, re-opened for him twenty-six years after it was first dug for his oldest sister; he died of pneumonia  aged sixteen while at the school in 1893.