Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A very sad story from long ago

The last post introduced you to Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, botanist. Joseph had an older brother, William, born 4th April 1816. It’s a very sad story. William contracted ‘consumption’ and in 1839, aged only 23, (the same year as Joseph sets sail for the Antarctic on the Erebus voyage) William is sent off to Jamaica for the good of his health. The arrangement is that Willie will go out to Jamaica, build up his medical practice and then send for his wife, Isabella. There is family strife from Isabella’s parents who say that a young married couple should not be separated (they had only married in April 1839) and that if she stays [in Britain] they will not be responsible for her. Isabella says she will stay. Isabella is pregnant.

Quoting directly from Mea Allan’s The Hookers of Kew (wonderful title!!) “Only Isabella went to Greenock [outside Glasgow] to see him off, for these were their last hours together. The farewell was almost unbearable. Willie knew he would never see her again.”

Willie died on New Year’s Day 1840, aged only 24. The Hookers took Isabella in & she gave birth to Willielma on 6th March 1840. Isabella lived on until January 1880, never re-marrying and outliving Willielma by 6 months.

Blimey, they knew how to do tear-jerkers in those days!

Willielma married in due course and had seven children, the youngest of whom died only in 1960.


Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

I can see you are retired and finding things to interest you in winter. It is a sad story but I guess typical of those days.

Woody Wilbury said...

Yes indeed; we easily forget how much we benefit from modern medicine.