The following table provides a summary of the family tree with the names of the individuals who are descended from Willoughby Marston and his wife Mina Frances Williams. The numbers on the left-hand side give the generation number with Willoughby Marston as number one. The symbols ‘b’, ‘m’ and ‘d’ refer to dates of birth, marriage and death respectively. Source references are provided in later sections. At the end of this section I have included a time-line showing some of the significant dates for this family.
1 Willoughby Marston GARSIA b. 13 Feb 1834 d. 20 Sep 1909 m. 24 May 1884 Minna Frances WILLIAMS b. 7 Nov 1860 d. 24 Dec 1935
2 Marston de la Paz GARSIA b. 17 Jul 1891 d. 18 Jul 1972 m. 5 Apr 1941 Magdelin Maria Wilhelmina (Peeps) BOBBE b. 28 Apr 1909 d. ?? Apr 1999
3 Marilyn Ursula GARSIA b. 6 Mar 1944 m. 23 Jun 1966 Christopher Michael CARNE
4 Amanda Lisa CARNE b. 19 Oct 1967
4 Nicola Karen CARNE b. 7 Mar 1972
2 Willoughby de la Paz GARSIA b. 10 Mar 1893 d. 14 Sep 1968 m. Ivy Mary GROVE, b. 20 Feb ???? d. 11 Jan 1967
2 Christina de la Paz GARSIA b. 13 Oct 1894 d. 6 Oct 1964
m1. 26 Mar 1915 Ralph Edgar RUCK KEENE b. 4 Mar 1888 d. 16 Jan 1916
m2. 3 June 1926 Edward WILLIS-FLEMING b. 4 Mar 1893 d. 4 Oct 1972
3 Thelma RUCK KEENE b. 9 Jan 1916
m1. fourth quarter 1935 Arthur LYONS,
m2, second quarter 1947, Alexander P, MITCHELL-INNES,
m3, third quarter 1951, Harry EDGE.
4 Leo Ralph EDGE b. 20 dec. 1952
3 Felicity WILLIS-FLEMING b. 30 May 1931 m. 27 March 1958 John Greville POCOCK
4 Stephen Greville POCOCK b. 10 Aug. 1961 m. 3 Oct 1999 Elizabeth (Liz) HIGHT
5 Henry Greville POCOCK b. 6 Feb 2001
5 Charlotte Annabelle POCOCK b. 6 Feb 2001
4 Hugh Edward POCOCK b. 26 Aug. 1963 m. 31 Aug. 1997 Davina GRUNSTEIN b. 1970
5 Rowan Albert POCOCK b. Sep 2001
5 Jasper Garcia POCOCK b. June 2006
3 Christina Joy WILLIS-FLEMING b. 24 Apr 1935 m. 15 Feb 1958 Robert William Peter MCWHIRTER b. 15 Dec 1927
4 Tessa MCWHIRTER b. 28 Mar 1960 m. 16 Nov. 1985 Peter James SLATER b. 3 June 1953
5 Hannah SLATER b. 22 Aug. 1989
5 Jamie Peter SLATER b. 21 May 1992
4 Fiona MCWHIRTER b. 16 Aug 1961 m. 11 Sep 1992 Wouter Marinus vanGALEN
5 Jack Marinus vanGALEN b. 31 Dec 1997
5 Leo Peter vanGALEN b. 30 Sep 1999
4 Gavin John MCWHIRTER b. 23 Apr 1965 m. 23 Jul 1994 Emily Tamelayne BURNETT b. 7 Jul 1968
5 Felix George MCWHIRTER b. 26 Sep 1997
5 Harry Arthur MCWHIRTER b. 13 Jan 2000
5 Angus Hugh MCWHIRTER b. 13 Jan 2000
2 Freda GARSIA b. 20 Mar 1900 d. 25 Aug 1960 m. Oct.-Dec. 1923 Wilfred Frank WILLIS
3 Jaqueline Freda WILLIS b. 27 Jan. 1926 d. 28 Apr. 2000
Willoughby Marston Garsia was born in Kingston, Jamaica of parents Dr Aaron Garsia and his wife Sarah Ann Melhado. His baptism and birth are recorded in the transcripts of the church records held in Spanish Town. There are two entries giving slightly different dates thus: (1) Baptised 21 June 1834, born 8 February 1834, Parents Aaron Garsia and Sarah his wife, Hanover Street, Surgeon. (2) Baptised 18 August 1834, born 13 February 1834, Parents Aaron Garsia and Sarah his wife, Hanover Street, Physician. The second date is the one when his older sisters were also baptised. In Joy Willis-Fleming (CJW-F)’s birthday book there is an entry for February 13 thus: “Willoughby Marston Garsia, M.D. 1834 – 1909 (or 1835 or 1836) Count Garsia de la Paz of Bourgos, Spain. My father.” This was written by Christina (CdlPG), WMG’s daughter. We have adopted 13 February 1834 as the more likely correct date.
We may presume that he grew up in Kingston, Jamaica till his father died in 1848. Thus at that stage Aaron’s widow SAM was left with their ten children ranging in age from three to seventeen years. About that time the Jamaican economy was collapsing as the slaves were freed and the price of sugar fell by half as free trade was introduced in the UK. This was probably a major factor in persuading SAM and her family to leave Jamaica. We know that eventually, before 1865, at least some of them had moved to the UK and others to the USA. There is a period from 1848 to 1865 when we have only very sketchy information about them. As we know from later information that he became a doctor he must have spent some four or five years of this period training and later practicing as a doctor. We have only sketchy clues as to where. The first was the discovery that he had been granted a certificate to practice medicine in Uruguay at Montevideo on 9 Aug. 1862 and that he was listed as of Chilean nationality It is possible therefore that he graduated from the medical school in Santiago, Chile a year or so earlier. Santiago had one of the few medical schools operating at that time in South America. So far we have been unable to get any documented proof of this.
We have no first-hand recollections of WMG by living people as he was dead before any of his grandchildren (of whom all but one are all still alive in 2009) were born. However we are fortunate that his first grandchild Thelma Ruck Keene (TRK) had many conversations with WMG’s widow Minna Frances Williams (MFW) and has recorded her memory of many of these in her autobiography. Her two sisters (Felicity Willis-Fleming FW-F and CJW-F) both agree that this material is consistent with their own memory of what their mother (CdlPG) told them. TRK in her book describes various incidents in his life. Typical of these are the following: “… my grandfather, Dr Willoughby Marston de la Paz Garsia was Spanish” and “The father [WMG] was a Count and a doctor and everybody loved him” and “… a confusing story of Dr Garsia’s adventurous past as a young doctor in South America … He was often paid in precious stones and chunks of gold [TRK has a gold bracelet set with stones that was given to her by her grandmother and came from her grandfather] … and once was taken by two masked men to save the life of a boy with a gunshot wound”. One of the photographs that has survived is of a lady and has the following inscription on the back: “Sara Melhado of Chile (born 1815), wife of Dr. Adrian Garsia.” At the bottom of the photograph is briefly added, “W.M. Garsia, born 1834”. We now know that Sara Melhado was WMG’s mother and that Adrian was the version of Aaron, his father’s name, used by his family in documents in the UK.
There are two records of Drs Garcia sailing into New York in the 1860s, which may be WMG. This is the time when WMG would most likely to have been practicing medicine in Uruguay and these trips could have been from there.
He is listed in the 1871 U.K. census living with his mother and two of his sisters in Bristol all born in Jamaica. Under ‘Rank, Profession or Occupation’ his mother is described as ‘Supported by son’ while he has ‘Income from foreign securities’ indicating that he had already made a substantial fortune.
In the census returns of 1881 for Middlesex, he is listed as Willoughby M Garsia. Unmarried. Age 47. Doctor. Lodging at the Palace Hotel, 9 Buckingham Gate, Westminster. Born in Jamaica.
If he practiced medicine in the UK he should appear in the Medical Register. A search of these from about 1850 to 1910 established that he is not there. This may mean that the British medical establishment did not recognise his degree.
The New York Passenger Lists show that he arrived in New York on 13 Aug. 1883 from Liverpool and must have returned to the U.K. for his wedding a year later.
TRK also records some of her memories of what her grandmother had to say about WMG’s introduction to his future wife MFW. Thus: “I first met dear Willoughby in London when I was fifteen [therefore 1875] and my parents were on leave there. When they went back to India he promised my mother that he would visit me in Heidelberg and send them news of me. The next two years he came quite often. I’d grown to love him very much – I was seventeen and no longer a child”. The problem with this account of their meeting is that by 1875 MFW’s father was dead and presumably her mother MH was no longer living in India. On the other hand the story was told by MFW herself. Another clue relating to the way that MFW and WMG met comes from the will of her aunt Frances Mary Williams. In it she leaves a substantial part of her estate to MFW and in addition some Indian artefacts. She was living at 38 Royal York Crescent, Clifton, Bristol when she died in 1883 and she is listed in the 1871 and 1881 censuses at the same address. Now we know that the Garsia family were also living in this area of Clifton in 1871 as noted above. There has also been some confusion in TRK’s early accounts about the name of MFW’s mother. With the help of the documented evidence it seems probable that it was Frances Mary Williams who acted as foster mother to MFW when she was sent to Europe from India for her education. Thus it is likely that it was she who introduced MFW to WMG. Dates are notoriously difficult to remember and maybe by subtracting a few years it is possible to square the story with the documented information. These stories by TRK provided the first information we had about the history of the family (circulated to her half-sisters by TRK in preliminary versions of her book) and this was critical in guiding our early research, which started about 1998.
Their marriage certificate records WMG’s marriage to MFW on 24 May 1884 in St Barnabus church Kensington. At the time of her marriage MFW was 24 years old while WMG was 50. Her (supposed) foster mother (FMW) had died in 1883 and in the same year her mother had married again and of course her father had been dead for fourteen years so marriage to a wealthy doctor although older than she was could have seemed an attractive prospect; after all her mother had been younger when she married an even older man.
The earliest address that we have for them after their marriage is that given in the will of MH’s father William Dickson Hagart written on 27 Jul. 1887 thus: “…Minna Williams or Garsia, wife of Marston Willoughby Garsia, Doctor of Medicine, presently residing at twenty five Park Parade, Harrogate, …”. They must have moved on within a year or so for we next found them in Weston-super-Mare, which TRK remembers, and where they must have moved to between 1889 and 1891.
He and MFW stayed first in the large house called ‘Fairholme’ where their first three children were born. Between 1894 and 1897 they moved to ‘Woodford’, 21 Clarence Park where Freda was born. The 1901 census gives 9 St Pauls Road as their address but this appears to be the result of the name of the road being changed. It is where they lived till WMG died in 1909. The rest of the family stayed on there after his death until they went their separate ways. This house has been demolished – possibly by a bomb in 1941 during the Second World War at the same time as the church was damaged and which is only a few doors along from it.
WMG’s death certificate provides the following information:- He died on 20 September 1909 at the age of 75. His occupation is given as ‘M.D. (retired)’ and the cause of death ‘heart disease’.
WMG’s will which is dated 10 August 1905 and has associated with it four Codicils dated 1. 29 August 1906, 2. 2 January 1907, 3. 19 November 1907, 4. 25 June 1909. His estate was worth almost 25 thousand pounds, which in present day values is almost 2 million pounds. Since he didn’t practice medicine in the UK this must be the fortune that he made in South America (Uruguay). The will provides the following information:-
The executors were Minna his wife, his brother Christopher Garsia of 7 St Pauls Road, W-s-M retired captain in the Indian Army and his nephew Harry Cardew Garsia of 9 Old Square, Lincolns Inn, London, Barrister-at-Law. He directs that he should be cremated and that no mourning should be worn at the time of his death. He leaves his estate to Minna. Much of the will and all of the codicils are concerned with instructions to the bank on how he wants them to deal with his shares. He lists some of his shares, which are mostly in Railways in Uruguay and Argentina (valued at that time between fifteen and sixteen thousand pounds) but also in a small number in the Antwerp Water Works Company. He directs that they should not be sold exonerating the Bank from any responsibility for any loss due to a fall in value of the shares. In a letter concerned with CdlPG’s will the same Antwerp Water Works shares are mentioned by that time of virtually no value. TRK in an earlier version of her book makes the following remark when describing how WMG had made his fortune in South America: “…my sisters and I inherited a quantity of almost worthless shares in obscure South American railways, suggesting he may have been prone to hopeless investments.” These were no doubt the same shares that WMG was so insistent should not be sold. This comment by TRK may be rather harsh as it is clear from his obituary (see below) for example that he was well regarded in matters of finance. He lived through a period of virtually zero inflation so he should be excused for assuming that it would continue into the future, which it didn’t, after his death. Be that as it may there is no doubt that WMG left a lot of money when he died some of it trapped in the ‘obscure South American railway’ shares. But there must have been enough, that she could get her hands on, for MFW to live in reasonable comfort and own various houses till her death in 1935 and even then to leave an estate worth about £3,500 which in today’s prices would be worth about £200,000 a substantial amount.
The Weston Mercury and Somerset Herald for Saturday 25 September 1909 had the following obituary to WMG:-
“Death of Dr. Marston Garsia. His death certainly involves a public loss, as well as a keen sense of bereavement to the wide circle of friends and acquaintances to whom he had endeared himself. Dr. Garsia, who descended from one of the most ancient Spanish families, practiced for many years in South America, and on relinquishing professional work came to this country, and shortly afterwards settled at Weston-super-Mare, residing first at Eastfield-park and afterwards at Clarence-park. He was one of the most whole-hearted workers and staunchest friends connected with St. Paul’s Church, In connection with which he had for some years past held the post of honorary treasurer. The body was cremated at Woking on Thursday”.
A letter to the manager of the Woking Crematorium produced the following information: “Willoughby Marston Garsia MD cremated at Woking Crematorium 23.9.1909. Cremated remains removed to Golders Green Crematorium, Hoop Lane, London NW11 7NL. Placed in Niche number 543 West Columbarium.”
A visit to Golders Green Crematorium on 1999 September 14 established that WMG’s ashes had indeed been deposited in their niche. The plaque, which covered the niche, indicated that it also contained MFW’s remains. Unfortunately it was not possible to switch on the lights in the very cramped chamber and although we had a torch it was difficult to read neighbouring inscriptions for family members. It is worth noting that this chamber formed two and a bit of the surrounds of, but separate from, a small room that was devoted to Jewish ashes.
The obituary with its information about his interest in the church sent us to visit the current vicar the Rev. Huw Davis, 33 Clarence Road North, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset whose wife passed us on to Mr Gordon Pratt, 31 Brighton Road, W-s-M. who had written a short history of the church. He took us to the church and showed us the lectern that Minna had given to the church in memory of WMG. It has a brass plate with the following inscription: “This lectern is given to St Pauls Church in ever loving memory of Dr W M Garsia from his wife and children.”
Minna Frances Williams. MFW was born on 7 November 1860 of parents Thomas Williams (b. 1804, d. 1870) and Minna Hagart (b. 1838, d. 1886) in Ahmadabad, India where her father was serving in the army as a Lieutenant Colonel (later promoted to Major General). We have been unable to find an official record of her birth but she is included in Joy’s birthday book and her death certificate confirms the year. Alan Gray has researched the Hagart family and has produced an extended family tree showing that it was firmly rooted in Scotland. MFW’s mother was born in Portobello, Edinburgh on 8 July 1838.
Thomas Williams appears to be descended from a well-established family of Welsh landowners with a seat in Llangibby near Usk, Monmouth. His father was called David Williams and also had an army career rising to Colonel. It appears that David (b. 1783) was the natural son of a liaison between a William Addams Williams (d. 1806) and his housekeeper Mary Hart that took place after the death of his wife. We know little more about the Williams family beyond the fact that Thomas fought in the Crimean War for which he was awarded a C.B. His brother Woodford John Williams (b. 1809) became an Admiral in the British Navy. The sister of Thomas and Woodford John may have acted as foster mother to MFW and introduced her to WMG as noted above. Thomas returned to London after the Crimean War on 19 June 1856. While he was in London he must have met Minna Hagart MH whom he married on 6 May 1857 in Trinity Church, Stepney. He was 53 years old while MH was only 17 years although she declared her age to be 19 years on the marriage certificate (loc.cit.) TW’s age is recorded as ‘full’ and his address as ‘Royal Barracks, Dublin’. Neither of the witnesses (William and Sophia Hawkins) appears to be members of either family. After their marriage Thomas Williams was posted to Mauritius (departure on 23 May 1857) for a short while before going on to India. There in Ahmadabad their son Frederick Pode Williams was born circa 1858. He is listed later in the 1871 British census as a student at the Hurstpierpoint College in Sussex He became a tea planter in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) working on the Minna Tea Estate. This still exists and we had a short period of communication with the Planters’ Association of Ceylon who wrote that between the years 1887 to 1891 the Minna Estate was owned by Mr A.C. White and the manager was Mr F.P. Williams. I was given a contact email address but this yielded nothing. For further information about Frederick Pode see the see the pages of this website devoted to the Williams family.
TRK records something of her grandmother’s (MFW) account of her childhood in India with Indian servants and life with the British army “I only saw my parents once a day before tea, … so I loved my ayah, who told me stories about tigers and wizards, and princesses and princes. But when I was even younger than you, pet, [TRK was between seven and her mid teens] I was sent away to school in Heidelberg, which is in Germany, and I never saw my ayah again”. TRK also writes “She was about six when she was sent off from India to Heidelberg …” The earliest document we have relating to MFW is a photograph taken when she must have been about five or six leading to a tentative date of 1865 for the photograph (Despite the date given on the back as 1875). It was taken by a professional photographer in Poole and has on the back writing, which clearly identifies her as MFW. We have an undated photograph of MFW taken by a professional photographer in Rostock on the Baltic coast of Germany where she looks about fifteen years old. Based on this estimate of her age the photograph may be dated to circa 1875 and provides the only independent evidence we have that she was in Germany at this time. On the other hand the British census for 1871 shows that MFW was attending school in Millbrook, Hampshire. Thus there appear to be contradictory pieces of evidence about where MFW went to school. There is one other account in TRK’s book which is relevant thus: Talking about her schooling in Heidelberg TRK asks her Grandmother MFW “‘Weren’t you lonely at that school? You were so little’. She smiled, ‘Not too long, pet. The older girls were very kind to me. I remember a country walk when I insisted on jumping over a water-filled ditch. I was told to cross by a little bridge, but I was sure I could jump just as well as the others, so I jumped – and in I fell. Oh dear! Fräulein was very angry but the girls said I was a dear thing and shouldn’t be punished’”. This would seem to indicate that MFW was quite young when she was in Heidelberg – not more than ten or twelve.
There is a further account of an incident that took place at the Heidelberg school when WMG was visiting his ward. “It happened that he visited her just when she was being punished for getting mixed up in the tattoo [an incident described by TRK]. But she was allowed to see him, and ran downstairs straight into his arms crying, ‘Take me away from here, oh, take me away!’ which, of course he did though not at once”. These accounts of MFW’s life in Heidelberg (more extensive than there is room to give them here) and meeting with WMG include so much unlikely detail that they cannot be dismissed as fantasy especially as they come so directly from MFW herself. On the other hand the census evidence of her being at school in Millbrook is difficult to square with Heidelberg. We may speculate that at six years old she started school at Millbrook and at some time soon after 1871, when she was eleven, she moved to Heidelberg, maybe as finishing school.
A simpler explanation about the meeting between WMG and MFW is that they met in Clifton, Bristol as discussed above.
On the seventh of June 1870 when MFW was ten years old her father Thomas Williams died of Cerebral Apoplexy at the stated age of 66 at 7 Berners Street, Marylebone, London. The informant of his death was a Susannah Lewis who signed with a cross meaning she was unable to write.
His will is dated 3 March 1863 and there is a codicil dated 12 November 1868. Both are difficult to read because of the old-fashioned writing. He appoints his brother Woodford John Williams, Admiral in the Royal Navy, and his brother-in-law Hugh Hagart as trustees and guardians of any children (who are not named). His money is to be put into a trust. As far as we can gather he leaves the interest on his estate to ‘my dear wife Minna Williams’ until she remarries and then there is provision that she should continue to have a personal income. The Codicil removes Hugh Hagart as a trustee and guardian and replaces him by Park Nelson of Essex Street Strand and Walter Gray Pattison of Leith. Otherwise the will leaves the arrangements as before. The codicil was written in Edinburgh on 12 November 1868. This may indicate that the Williams returned to Edinburgh to be with her father when they left India on his retirement from the army at the end of 1867. They do not appear in the 1871 Scottish census.
The 1881 census records a Minnie F. Williams, a visitor, unmarried aged 20 born in India living with an army family called Waller – probably friends of her parents — at Millbrook, South Hants (Now incorporated into Southampton).
At the time of the same census her mother MH was living at Mt. Edgecombe Cottage, The Common, Spendelhurst, Kent a widow of a major general, recorded aged 32 (her real age was 43) with a cook and housemaid
On 26 September 1883 MH (MFW’s mother) married Frederick Murton aged 66 (Minna was 45) at the Roman Catholic church in the village of Adderbury, Oxfordshire. Frederick Murton was a well respected railway engineer having worked all over the world. He died on 17 January 1889 after only six tears of marriage.
The following year on 24 May 1884 MFW married WMG in St Barnabas church, Kensington. MFW gave the same address as her new step father had given as his address when he married her mother both of whom were witnesses at her wedding. Following the wedding WMG and MFW were in Harrogate for a short while before moving to Weston-super-Mare as already discussed.
Two years later on 21 August 1886 MH died in Edinburgh where she was buried.
We have a photograph of MFW taken by a professional photographer in Weston-super-Mare and with a note on the back in CdlPG’s hand thus: ‘Mother – about 1887’. Another taken this time by a professional photographer in Southampton (near to where her mother-in-law was living in Portsea) and with the note on the back also in CdlPG’s hand thus: ‘Mother – about 1889’.
Over the next decade their four children were born in Weston-super-Mare thus: Marston 17 July 1891, Willoughby 10 March 1893, Christina 6 October 1894 and Freda 20 March 1900. The births of all four children were registered at Axbridge and in each case they were given the middle names of ‘de la Paz’.
Another photograph shows their daughter CdlPG aged about six with a violin taken professionally in Weston-super-Mare and with the following inscription on the back: ‘Me! 1898, 1899 or 1900 aged 5, 6 or 7. I began having my violin lessons when 5 years old! (probably almost 6)’. Yet another shows MFW standing in front of a doorway and with the following on the back: ‘Mother about 1901’.
On the 20 September 1909 MFW’s husband WMG died at their home in Weston-super-Mare aged 75 years and after 25 years of marriage, leaving her with four children aged 9, 15, 16 and 18. She was left well off as she managed to keep servants and when she finally died in 1935 leave a substantial estate.
Following the death of her husband WMG, MFW continued to live at 21 Clarence Road North with her children. Eventually the boys left home for London but the girls stayed. CdlPG married Ralph Ruck Keene, who was killed in the First World War, and returned, with her daughter TRK, to live with her mother. Freda probably continued to live with MFW. By 1919 CdlPG and TRK had moved to another house (104 Quantock Road) in Weston, presumably paid for by MFW, while MFW stayed on at Clarence Park. In 1922 CdlPG and TRK joined Willoughby (WdlPG) going to USA to study Chiropractic and MFW, probably with Freda, moved into the smaller Quantocks Road house. Between 1928 and 1929 MFW moved to yet another house, this time 17 Frenchay Road where she stayed till 1930. By 1931 she had moved to St Leonards Gardens, Hove where she stayed till shortly before her death in 1935. Why did Minna when she was over seventy years decide to move to Hove? Joy has a memory of going to see Freda in a mental institution when the Willis-Fleming family was living at East Grinstead in 1944/45. East Grinstead is about twenty miles from Hove which may have been suitably close to the institution looking after Freda – speculation!.
MFW died on 24 December 1935 at a nursing home only a few hundred yards from her home in St Leonards Gardens.
In her will she directs that her body be cremated and the ashes interred beside those of her husband WMG at Golders Green Crematorium. A visit there confirmed that this had been done. She divided her estate among her four children. From the will it is apparent that she still owned two houses in Weston (17, Frenchay Road and 104 Quantock Road) as well as her more recent house at St Leonards Gardens. The former she left to her two sons and the latter to her daughter Freda, indicating probably that Freda was still living with her at that time. To Christina she left seven hundred and twenty pounds. Her total estate was valued at just under £3500. Clearly her husband (WMG) had left her well provided for despite the instruction in his will preventing the sale of his South American shares.
Children of MFW and WMG.
Marston de la Paz GARSIA, born 17 Jul. 1891, married 5 Apr 1941, died 18 Jul. 1970
Willoughby de la Paz GARSIA, born 10 Mar. 1893, married 2nd quarter 1925, died 14 Sep. 1968
Christina de la Paz GARSIA, born 6 Oct 1894, married 1. 26 Mar 1915, married 2. 3 Jun 1926, died 6 Oct 1964
Freda de la Paz GARSIA, born 20 Mar 1900, married 15 Dec. 1923, died 25 Aug 1960
Marston de la Paz Garsia was born on 17 July 1891 at Fairholme, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset seven years after his parents marriage. By that time his father was fifty seven years old. According to Thelma his father (WMG) ‘was preoccupied with germs … and forbade his children to swim in the public baths, nor did they go to school. Tutors came for the two boys till they went off to London – Marston to study law and Willoughby to attend the Slade School of Art.’ In describing their childhood Thelma writes about the family as their ‘self-sufficiency when young. Marston, Christina and Willoughby were perfectly content with each other, though they played amiably with local children when Minna felt it was time they got out of each other’s pockets.’ She also describes how Marston led the family in putting on plays for their entertainment at home. Her mother Christina is quoted thus: ‘Dear old boy, what fun they had putting on plays when they were children. Willoughby bulding the sets, herself playing the piano, Marston taking the best parts because he could memorise pages and pages without difficulty.’ With the rest of the family he continued to live at this house till he left home before 1912. In the meantime his father had died (1909). Thelma writes that ‘Marston soon went off to London to start his law studies …’ Thelma seems to be wrong here as it appears that he really went to Oxford. ‘In a Congregation held this morning, (November 29, 1912) presided over by the Vice-Chancellor (The Principal of Brasenose), the following degrees were conferred:- B.A. – M. de la P. Garsia, Merton’. Six weeks later the Times announced that he had passed the General Examination of students of the Inns of Court, held in Middle Temple Hall, on December 16 to 20. in Roman Law Class III – Marston De La Paz Garsia, M.T. [M.T. means Middle Temple]. For,a while he had a dream of being an actor but finally abandoned it. ‘But for one never-forgotten season in 1920, he played Fellows (the butler) in Galsworthy’s The Skin Game at St Martin’s Theatre in London. When I married he gave me a copy of the play with a handwritten ‘Gratefully yours, John Galsworthy’ on the flyleaf and all the performers’ signatures. A sheet from the programme is glued inside the cover showing ‘Marston Garsia’ third in the list of characters in order of appearance. He must have been very fond of me to part with that little volume.’ …She goes on to describe how Marston used to take her out to dinner in expensive restaurants where he would teach her the unwritten rules of eating in high society – always break bread on the side plate and never cut it, never eat dessert with a fork alone and never say ‘serviette’ but always ‘napkin’. She goes on to compare her two uncles thus: ‘Marston was nothing like his younger brother Willoughby … Willoughby was gentle and sensitive and somehow a friend. Mardton was kind but the kindness seemed to be delivered from a considerable height, and not just because he was well over six feet and quite old (my mother said he was forty [therefore 1931]). The two brothers, despite family resemblances, had different faces – Willoughby’s features were softly moulded and his voice was mild, Marston had a strong beaked nose, dark velvet-brown eyes and a rich, emphatic voice. I thought he must be rather terrifying in court, irresistible as God if He decided to boom audibly from the sky; I viewed my uncle as every inch the barrister.
‘Even so he was every inch Count Marston de la Paz Garsia of Burgos Castle in Spain, proud possessor of the gold ring engraved with its plumed Garsia crest. I could see him as master of his castle, attended by grave, faithful retainers, host to a few chosen friends at Epicurean dinners in a huge, gloomy dining hall hung with paintings of unsmiling Spanish ancestors. Unfortunately the whole Garsia myth had by now been put in doubt … For now Marston sometimes wore his ring and was reticent about origins’.
His law career is summarised in the Law List as follows: In the 1917 edition he appears for the first time as ‘Garsia, Marston de la Paz. Middle Temple, 28 Apr. 1915’. He continues to appear each year with various address changes till 1941 when the format of the entries changes. The addresses listed are as follows: 1921: 14 Trebovir Rd., Earls Court,W.C.; 1922: 2 Queen Alexander Mansions, Jubb Street, Kings Cross, W.C.1.; 1925: 2 Plowen Buil;dings, Temple E.C.4, S.East Circuit, Herts, Essex, and N. London Sessions, C.C.C.; 1930: 7 Kings Bench Walk, Temple, E.C.4. same circuit; 1934: 1 Hare Court, Temple, E.C.4.; In 1941 the format changed to Garsia, Marston (Middle Temple Apr 1915) 1 Hare Court, Temple E.C.4 (Tel. Central 4411) S.East Circuit, N.London Session, C.C.C. His entries remained the same till 1963 except for address changes and other notes. The entry in 1969 is in italics meaning that he has not expressed an intention to practice.
Possibly of more interest concerning his career are the comments printed in his obituary in the Times on 31 July 1972 as follows: ‘The name of Marston Garsia, whose death at the age of almost 81 occurred on July 18, will recall to some members of the Bar their student days and their recourse to his succession of “Nutshells” which helped them to success in Bar Final examinations.
‘He will be more widely remembered for his long association with Archbold. Apart from a period during the Second World War when he served as an officer in he Royal Air Force, hat association lasted continuously for thirty years and seven successive editions of the work bear the stamp of his industry and clarity of thought as co-editor. He will be remembered too by practitioners in the London and Kent criminal courts as a forceful and courageous advocate, who had a thorough mastery of every case in which he appeared, but, as sometimes happens to advocates who have acquired a reputation for pugnacity in the conduct of hopeless defences, he never achieved the measure of success in the criminal courts which his ability deserved.
‘Before starting practice at the Bar he spent some years on the stage and showed considerable promise as an actor. This background was reflected in sketches and impersonations of legal luminaries which he often gave to delighted audiences at smoking concerts in the Inns of Court or Bar messes. He for many years an active Mason and always regarded Masonic duties as an important part of his spare time pursuits. To those both inside and outside the legal profession who knew him intimately he was always an entertaining and delightful companion.’
He married rather late in his career (aged fifty) on 5 April 1941 Magdelin Maria Wilhelmina (Peeps) BOBBE. They had one daughter Marilyn Ursula de la Paz GARSIA who on 23 June 1966 married Christopher Michael CARNE. They have two children: Amanda Lisa (b. 19 Oct. 1967) and Nicola Karen (b. 7 Mar. 1972). Peeps’ niece provided (from Holland) the following information about the family which is Jewish: ‘Marston Garsia is an uncle of me, he had married a sister of my father, her name was Wilhelmina Bobbe, we called here Peeps, my father was Reinier Bobbe, born in the year 1907. My father grow up in Holland and Peeps was with her parents in England. After the First World War my father was so used to the live in Holland that he stayed by his grand parents in The Hague, [where] the family [was] born. Due to the fact the distance was too far, the contact between the family in England was poor. I remember Marston as a very tall person, a very commanding personality, but a little heart. He showed us London and he was a very good host.’ She also commented that Marston was a freemason.
Also announced in the Times was his death thus:- GARSIA – On July 18th, peacefully in hospital, Marston, beloved husband of Peeps and father of Marilyn. Funeral at Woking Crematorium on Wednesday, 28th July, at 3 p.m. to which all friends are invited. No flowers please, but donations in lieu to Royal Masonic Hospital, Ravenscourt Park, W6 02N
He left a will which provides the following information: Marston de la Paz Garsia died on 18 Jul. 1972. Address 59 Queen Alexander Mansions, London WC1. Probate granted at Winchester 12 Feb. 1973. Effects £1296. In the will he leaves everything to his wife whose name he gives as Wilhelmina Magdelena Maria GARSIA or if she should die first to his daughter Marilyn Ursula de la Paz GARSIA. He appoints two executors of whom one is his son-in-law Christopher Michael CARNE of 45 Fletcher Road, Ottershaw, Surrey. an electrical engineer.
Willoughby de la Paz Garsia was born at Fairholme, Weston-super-Mare of parents Willoughby Marston de la Paz Garsia and Minna Frances Williams his wife on 10 March 1893.As a child Thelma knew him and wrote as follows about him. ‘Willoughby was quiet and painted pictures. I loved Willoughby; he had magic hands. One time I woke and heard a terrible wailing … I cried too and couldn’t stop until Willoughby came and held my hand, and stroked my forehead. … [he explained] “what you heard was just your friend the donkey”’
Of their early life Thelma writes, ‘The only resemblance between the two families [Ruck Keenes and Garsias] was their self-sufficiency when they were young. Marston, Christina and Willoughby were perfectly content with each other, though they played amicably enough with local children when Minna felt it was time they got out of each other’s pockets.’
‘At home all the children had their talents: Christina played the piano and the violin, Willoughby painted pictures, and Marston, in love with the theatre, was an enthusiastic producer of plays (in the drawing room of course). He allotted himself the best parts, but they all had their special roles – my mother played one or other of her instruments and Willoughby built and painted the scenery.’…
‘When Willoughby was a very young child he had been near death with typhoid and his hearing was permanently damaged. This [the danger of infection] is possibly why my grandfather forbade the children to swim in the public baths, nor did they go to school. Tutors came for the two boys until they went off to London – Marston to study law and Willoughby to attend the Slade School of Art.’
By the time he was sixteen Willoughby’s father had died (30 Sep. 1909). We have a rather poor portrait of Willoughby Marston, Willoughby’s father, which may have been painted from life or more likely maybe from a photograph at some later time. In the portrait WMG is supposedly dressed as a medieval Spanish count. It hangs in our dining room.
According to Thelma, ‘Willoughby went on studying with a tutor and being mothered by Christina as she had done ever since he was struggling back to life from typhoid. He was always gentle and biddable, though this was not spinelessness; he and my mother were very close and he was disinterested in opposition unless opposition was important. His deafness was for a long time a disadvantage but it did allow him a quiet world where he was free to devise his own life. When the war started he was twenty [Thelma has written sixteen and this probably explains why she has expressed herself in this way] and already insisting that he wanted to be an artist and would Minna please let him study at the Slade School of Art in London. [After overcoming Minna’s objections she] agreed and off he went.’
It appears that Willoughby must have joined the Officer Training Corps of the Inns of Court – probably arranged by his brother Marston — as we have a report of his discharge from it due to his deafness dated 14 Nov 1917. This shows that he enlisted as a private on 10 October 1914 and that his former trade or occupation was as an artist. The opinion is expressed that his deafness occurred following scarlet fever. His address at that time is given as 53 Guildford Street, Russell Square, London, W.C.
Thelma writes how her father Ralph Ruck Keene described Willoughby to his mother before they were married (probably Mach 1915) as ‘somewhat deaf, so not in uniform, and at a college of Art in London.’
We have a record, from a passenger list, showing that he sailed on 28 May 1918 for Ceylon maybe to visit his Uncle Frederick Pode but it is not clear that Frederick Pode was still there aas he may have returned to Europe by then. Thelma makes no comment about this. It may be the early sign of his unhappiness with life as an artist which lead to his going off to Canada to study chiropractic.
A passenger list shows that on 18 Mar 1920 he sailed to Canada. Thelma’s account of the family discussions concerning this decision goes as follows: ‘Willoughby once said to me, “When I am in doubt I rest in the arms of the Universe,” One of these reposeful periods most likely preceded his decision to quit the Slade School of Art and set off to explore. Willoughby was her (CdlPG) brother, and though she was a year his junior she had styled herself his protector ever since typhoid left him partially deaf. They grew very close, except Christina never truly appreciated that Willoughby’s deafness shielded a treasured inner self. Every time he suddenly glided away with a disarming, slightly apologetic smile she was left nonplussed.
“Why on earth do you want to leave the Slade? Don’t you want to be an artist?”
“I want to travel.”
Minna smiled and was silent, but my mother exclaimed, “Travel! Whatever for and why America?”
“They have interesting ideas of healing. I’ll never be a great artist, and there are other ways of healing.”
…Willoughby said mildly, “Don’t you remember, Christina, what unusual theories our father had about health – didn’t he, mother? Like proper diet and hygiene and exercise instead of filling patients up with useless pills. And I think he knew something about the ideas of a German chap called Freud.”…
So off he went.
In a letter to Minna he described visiting a community in Canada. “It’s in British Columbia,” Minna said as she passed the letter to Christina. “… He says the community is at Hundred Mile House, such a romantic name, and the people call themselves Emissaries of Divine Light.”
Christina was not impressed. …
Several months passed before Christina had a letter from Willoughby which began with enthusiasm about something called chiropractic, and that there was a college in San Antonio where he intended to train as a Chiropractor. ‘What a queer word.’ Christina though – and then read, unbelieving:
Why not come out here and train with me? It’ll give you a career, and we can set up practice together. Burn your boats and give it a try! Just sail to New York ad get a train to San Antonio. Nothing to it.
… At last, between terror and excitement, she told Minna she would burn her boats, then wailed, though knowing the answer, “What will the Ruck Keenes think?” And more practically, “However shall we manage in huge New York?”’
Christina and Thelma sailed for New York and from there by train on to San Antonio where they were met by Willoughby who had secured a place for them to stay. In her book Thelma devotes a Chapter to their life in San Antonio but only mentions Willoughby in passing. They both passed their chiropractic examinations and were photographed holding their scrolls. For some unexplained reason Christina and Thelma when they left Texas sailed down the coast of South America to Montevideo from where on the 24 April 1923 they took a boat home to London arriving on 10 May.
Back in London Christina and Willoughby got down to work setting up a Chiropractic practice together. The three of them settled in London where on 9 January 1924 Thelma had her eighth birthday. In the second quarter of 1925 Willoughby and Ivy Mary Grove got married. It seems that Christina and Ivy did not get along and because of this Christina decided to go back to stay with Minna in Weston-super-Mare.
Thelma has little to say about this phase of their lives until she is finished with school and, at the age of seventeen (1933), has returned to London about which she wrote as follows: ‘As soon as I was settled in London I got in touch with my Garsia uncles. Willoughby and Yedra lived in a pretty little house in Kensington where he was quietly building a solid chiropractic reputation. I had not seen Willoughby since my mother had stormed away from London because of Yedra, but he was still my dear Willoughby, quite unchanged. Yedra was all right, though a bit weird. She was caught up in a current fascination with the psychic phenomena of séances, automatic writing, table turning, and poltergeists. She and Willoughby had both experienced a poltergeist in Spain where they had spent several weeks searching, fruitlessly, for the Garsia family castle’.
There is a record of Willoughby sailing to Gibraltar on 24 December 1935 alone but I have no additional explanation for this.
Thelma writes about visiting her uncle once the war was over. ‘Willoughby and Yedra were still in their little South Kensington house. It was a touch shabby outside but unscathed by bombs, and I soon learnt that Willoughby was making a quiet name for himself as a chiropractor, particularly, after discovering a way of treating what was then called a ‘slipped disc’. …
[When they were alone] Willoughby said, “Did I ever tell you that when I am in difficulties I rest in the arms of the universe?”
“Yes you did,” I said, “but I don’t think I’ve got the knack. At the moment the inside of my head feels a bit like a railway station – a lot of running about trying to find the right platform, and nobody to ask.”
Willoughby said, “Try sitting and thinking of nothing. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s worth it. The universe is busy, but orderly.” I loved Willoughby for being the same as ever, but this advice was no help. I needed somebody to talk to, though wasn’t even sure what I wanted to talk about.’
In 1951 Willoughby published his book on chiropractic — The Original “Chiropractic” Spinal Manipulation. The frontispiece has a photograph of him as a young man with the caption ‘Willoughby Garsia, D.C.’ It is a slim volume running to 228 pages with photographic illustrations. The following description of it appears on the title page: An illustrative guide bookof a concise compilation of the basic essentials of the technique and practice of Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation, with the Garsia Manipolative techniques for the righting of the Slipped Intervertebral Disc divulged for the first time. The copy we have may have been his own as it contains a number of slips of paper with notes in his own hand (which Joy was able to identify).
On 11 January 1967 Ivy Mary his wife died and twenty months later (on 14 September 1968) he died. In his will he left everything to his nieces Thelma, Felicity and Joy and to Miss Filipa Kavanagh Serradas of whom we know nothing.
Christina de la Paz Garsia.
Of their early life of the Garsia family Thelma writes, ‘The only resemblance between the two families [Ruck Keenes and Garsias] was their self-sufficiency when they were young. Marston, Christina and Willoughby were perfectly content with each other, though they played amicably enough with local children when Minna felt it was time they got out of each other’s pockets.’
‘At home all the children had their talents: Christina played the piano and the violin, Willoughby painted pictures, and Marston, in love with the theatre, was an enthusiastic producer of plays (in the drawing room of course). He allotted himself the best parts, but they both had their special roles – my mother played one or other of her instruments and Willoughby built and painted the scenery.’…
Tutors came for the two boys until they went off to London – Marston to study law and Willoughby to attend the Slade School of Art. Learning of a kind rubbed off on Christina from the boys education, Minna was no mean tutor, and all the children had their talents: Christina played the piano and the violin, …’ By the time she was fifteen Christina’s father had died (30 Sep. 1909). After Marston left home to train as a lawyer she remained at home with Minna and Willoughby whom ‘she continued to mother ever since he was struggling back to life from typhoid; he and my mother were very close …’. A year or so later Willoughby went off to study art at the Slade School of Art in London leaving Minna with Christina in Weston-super-Mare. Christina at that time ‘was going through a humble version of high society’s ‘coming out’. I say ‘humble version’ because anything more elaborate was out of the question since Minna was now bringing up the family alone. … [Christina] had no dreams of a career, only of love and marriage and floating down the aisle of a church to the strains of Mendelsshon’s Wedding Marchi. … She graduated to tennis parties and picnics in the Quantock Hills and, of course, dances. … The assembly room dances were seriously formal … hands were encased in long white kid gloves that fitted like a skin … On arrival at the assembly rooms the girls were given a little folded card from which dangled a miniature pencil at the end of a silken cord. Inside was a list of the evenings dances … Prospective (male) partners wrote their names alongside chosen dances. … Christina was talking with Vivien, her special friend. A voice behind her said, “May I introduce myself?” and when she turned added, “Ralph Ruck Keene, second lieutenant, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.” Her heart gave a jump. He was by far the best looking man in the room … Ralph laughed and held out his hand for her card, saying, “May I?” When he gave it back she saw that he had written his name across the last four dances. … All the other dances were fill-ins to the moment when Ralph came and said, “Now you are mine for the rest of the evening.” Not many weeks later when she had agreed to marry him, he said intently, “Now you are mine for the rest of our lives”. It wasn’t, of course, as easy as all that. Ralph appeared at Copford (his home) and Birdie [his mother] fell upon Burke’s Landed Gentry, for reassurance about the girl with the foreign name, and found none. … [Faced with his parents opposition] Ralph was adamant. … As 1915 unrolled Ralph chafed to be at the front, doing his bit, dying if need be. … Birdie was nevertheless unwilling to give up easily. She seized on the fact that Christina was a minor [Christina wouldn’t be twenty one till 13 October 1915]. Even though Mrs Garsia had given her consent to the marriage, was this legal? … the problem of marrying a girl under twenty one whose father was dead … could be overcome by appealing to the Archbishop of Canterbury. When Ralph told her she accepted defeat.’ The certificate that Ralph obtained was dated 25 March 1915 .
‘On March 29th 1915 The Times of London announced that Ralph Edgar Ruck Keene, Sec. Lieut. 9th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, eldest son of the Rev. E.E. Ruck Keene and Mrs Ruck Keene, was married “very quietly at St Michael and All Angels, Copford, Essex” to Christina de la Paz Garsia, eldest daughter of the late W.M. Garsia, Esq. and Mrs Garsia, Woodford, Weston-super-Mare.’ Soon after they were married Ralph was off training in preparation for departure to France.
‘After his stint on Salisbury Plain Ralph left for the front. At the end of September (1915) he took part in the advance on Loos, an engagement in which the Germans used gas for the first time, suffered huge casualties and achieved very little. On her knees at the prie-dieuIn her bedroom Birdie thanked God for her beloved firstborn’s safety. He was one of the few officers In his battalion who emerged from Loos unscathed.
Ralph returned to England for a brief leave, going first to Copford (where his parents lived) for a hurried visit before spending the rest of his short time with Christina. Birdie came to bid him goodnight on his last evening and with the tears running unashamedly down her cheeks said, “I will pray God to keep you safe, my dearest boy.”
Many years later she told me, “He put his arms round me and with such a bright face,’darling’, he said ‘Why Mummy it’s the very best death a man can die!'”.
On January 9th, 1916 I was born. My mother received a telegram from Ralph saying, somewhat tersely, “Awfully pleased Ruck Keene.” Two days later on January llth he wrote a letter, headed simply “France.” It begins:
I can’t tell you how pleased and thankful I am that it is all over and you are all right. How I wish I were with you now to give you a kiss and take you both in my arms. I can’t tell you the immense relief your telegram was darling. It took ten years off my shoulders. I expect that you are feeling very weak and done up now dear. I will come to you as soon as I can, but at present I am very busy with my new duties, and must get things running properly before. I can get away. Gilbert had no system at all and I must start again. I am afraid you will think this is a very cold letter after all you have been through darling, but I am no good at expressing myself in a sentimental way. But don’t think that my love for you is any less for my lack of expression…. Goodnight, darling and give my daughter a kiss from me. Your very loving husband.
The letter travelled slowly, not arriving until January 25th. When the postman handed Minna the grey-brown envelope she stared at the familiar handwriting and the posting date, 11 JAN 16.
“You all right, Missus?”
“Yes – yes, thank you.”
My mother was upstairs with me In the room prepared as a nursery. With a hand not quite steady Minna gave her the envelope. She said, “I will take Thelma for a while, darling” and left my mother alone.
You see just five days previously Christina had received a communication in a plain brown envelope, though not from Ralph, from the War Office. It was a telegram. The brief message informed her that on January 16 my father had died “as the result of a bomb accident.” In fact he had been blown to bits by a faulty British hand grenade. The letter Minna gave her was from a ghost.’
On 9 January Thelma was born and joined Christina to live with Minna in Woodford. Willoughby became disenchanted with life as an artist and went off to Canada to seek a new life. ‘Several months passed before Christina had a letter from Willoughby which began with enthusiasm about something called chiropractic, and that there was a college in San Antonio where he intended to train as a Chiropractor. ‘What a queer word.’ Christina though – and then read, unbelieving:
Why not come out here and train with me? It’ll give you a career, and we can set up practice together. Burn your boats and give it a try! Just sail to New York ad get a train to San Antonio. Nothing to it.
… At last, between terror and excitement, she told Minna she would burn her boats, then wailed, though knowing the answer, “What will the Ruck Keenes think?” And more practically, “However shall we manage in huge New York?”’
Christina and Thelma sailed for New York and from there by train on to San Antonio where they were met by Willoughby who had secured a place for them to stay.
Christina Ruck-Keene 27 and her 5 year old daughter Thelma of Weston-super-Mare arriving [New York] 28 December 1921 from Southampton aboard the Olympic!
In her book Thelma devotes a Chapter to their life in San Antonio but only mentions Christina in passing. She and Willoughby both passed their chiropractic examinations and were photographed holding their scrolls. For some unexplained reason Christina and Thelma when they left Texas sailed down the coast of South America to Montevideo from where on the 24 April 1923 they took a boat home to London arriving on 10 May.
Back in London Christina and Willoughby got down to work setting up a Chiropractic practice together. The three of them settled in London where on 9 January 1924 Thelma had her eighth birthday. In the second quarter of 1925 Willoughby and Ivy Mary Grove got married. It seems that Christina and Ivy did not get along and because of this Christina decided to go back to stay with Minna in Weston-super-Mare. Thelma started a new school and on 3 June 1926 Christina and Edward Willis-Fleming got married.
Christina broke the news to Thelma who was unhappy about this new arrangement. There was an attempt to persuade Thelma to call Edward ‘daddy’ but Thelma stubbornly stuck to ‘Edward’. It seems that Edward’s mother Hanna (the Baroness de Bondelay) was instrumental in this. ‘Years later [Christina] told me that, after the Christmas visit, Hanna lost no time in making my mother understand that it was unacceptable for a child of ten to call an adult by his first name’. It seems that Thelma stuck to her guns and from then on she hardly mentions Christina in her book for whatever reason it is not clear. With Minna’s help Thelma trained as a secretary which meant that she could look forward to an independent career which lead her to a job in the Foreign Office. From London she was posted to Budapest. This happened about 1940 and she didn’t return to Britain till 1944. Her description of that war-time period contains no mention of Christina. It is only after her third marriage (to Harry Edge in 1951) and birth of her grandson (Leo on 20 December 1952) that Christina is mentioned: ‘My mother’s visit in the spring of 1956 was a good landmark. … When we parted I felt closer to her than I had for many years – and her coming was a needed touch of parental blessing’.
It must fall to one or more of Christina’s three daughters, all of whom are still alive in January 2009, to complete the story of her life.
Christina Willis-Fleming died on 6 October 1964 at Newton Abbot, Devon. Did she leave a will?
Freda de la Paz Garsia.
Freda was Willoughby Marston and Minna Frances’ fourth child. She was born on 20 March 1900 at Woodford, Weston-super-Mare. There is a bit of a mystery about her with the implication that mentally she wasn’t quite sound. Thelma’s account certainly gives that impression and there is little else to go on.
‘My Aunt Freda, who laughed a lot, lived with us in Minna’s house. Freda was jolly but when she laughed too much Minna said, “Quieten down now, dear”. I don’t remember much else about her’.
Thelma describes Freda thus: ‘Freda, the youngest, was different [from her other siblings] in lots of ways, with fair hair like Welsh Minna, my grandmother’. In her descriptions of how the family put on amateur plays at home Freda is not mentioned.
The most detailed description we have of Freda is from Thelma in her 1998 unpublished manuscript version of her book thus: ‘Freda was odd. When I was a child she didn’t seem like a grown-up, needing to be told to “quieten down, dear.” We left Weston when I was five, and when we came back two years later Freda wasn’t there. I didn’t notice, and she plays no part in my story – except she’s part of that world where any kind of abnormality was something to be hidden, not mentioned, but she was on the edge of being there because I hear someone telling me, sotto voce, that when Freda was a child a doctor took her away, promising to return her changed for the better, provided no questions about her treatment. This is spooky, and the voice unknown, and in no time frame. The only sense I can muster is that my grandfather was interested in Freud’s revelations and probably in Charcot’s experiments in Hypnosis on ‘hysterical’ patients in France. Whatever was done, Freda remains in my memory as likeable and odd, but grown-ups were odd anyway. The only solid fact I gleaned from another unknown informant is that Freda fell in love with “a most unsuitable young man” and swept away on the back of motor bicycle (married?) and returned to Weston nine months or so later with a baby, Jacqueline, “and never a word of explanation, my dear”. This would have been around 1926, after my mother, Willoughby and I went to live in London. For the next ten years Minna looked after the two waifs, for Jacqueline was also what was vaguely described as “not quite all there”. Then Minna died. Years later my mother said that Freda had worked in some capacity and the little girl had been put in a mental home. “We keep in touch with Freda,” she said, and then confessed she was ashamed of doing nothing about the little girl. “I was afraid of the effect on Felicity and Joy,” she said. When she died none of us knew where Jacqueline was. Freda like Minna, had flaxen hair and a typical pink-and-white English complexion, quite different from the older children who could have passed as Spaniards’.
In the same vein Thelma writes, ‘What was wrong with Freda? We never knew. When I was a child I liked Freda; she was jolly – perhaps a bit too jolly, rather like me when I got over-excited and was told to “quieten down, dear”. She always spoke very quickly with a slight impediment which, combined with the onrush of words, …’
The Registry Office records show that on 15 December 1923 Freda married Wilfred Frank Willis in Weston-super-Mare. The names of the witnesses are: D.E. Davey and M.J. Oatway.
The Registry Office records also show that their child Jacqueline Freda Willis was born on 27 January 1926 in Peterborogh., Cambridgeshire
At some stage Freda and Jacqueline must have returned to live with Minna in Weston-super-Mare.
Describing her life in 1925 Thelma comments: ‘… Minna was trapped in Weston struggling to cope with my happy-go-lucky Aunt Freda and her not-quite-normal daughter Jacqueline. Poor Minna! She seldom visited us in the next ten years, and each time I saw her she looked older and older’.
Another of her comments along the same lines is: ‘I also give thanks to my other grandmother, Minna Garsia. She was so important when I was very young, yet I hardly saw her after I went to school. She remained in Weston, helping my erratic Aunt Freda bring up her daughter Jacqueline, fearing to leave them on their own for any but rare visits to my mother’.
In a letter to me (RWPMW) from Canada dated 22 January 1998 Thelma has this to say about Freda: ‘You’ll see that I date Freda’s marriage in 1923 because we came back from Texas in the spring of that year and she wasn’t at Weston, nor did she return while I was staying with Minna there during the time Willoughby and our mother were deciding where to set up the chiropractic practice in London. She must have turned up sometime in 1924 or ’25: Minna would have been sixty and really served a ten year sentence which killed her – I remember our mother talking sadly about Minna being so tired, looking after Freda and Jacqueline’.
When Minna died on 24 December 1935 she left the house they had been living in, in Hove, to Freda.
Freda died on 25 August 1960. I was unable to confirm this from the GRO Index as the page I wanted was not available through ‘findmypast’. I have written to the RGO about this.
Child of MdlPGarsia and MMWBobbe married 5 Apr. 1941.
Marilyn Ursula de la Paz GARSIA, born 6 Mar. 1944, married 23 Jun. 1966
Children of CdlPGarsia and Ralph Edgar Ruck Keene married 26 Mar, 1915.
Thelma RUCK KEENE, born 9 Jan. 1916 married (1) fourth quarter 1935, married (2) second quarter 1947, , married (3) third quarter 1951
Children of CdlPGarsia and Edward Willis-Fleming, married 3 Jun. 1926.
Felicity WILLIS-FLEMING, born 30 May 1931, married 27 May 1958
Christina Joy WILLIS-FLEMING, born 24 Apr 1935, married 14 Feb. 1958.
Child of FdlPGarsia and Wilfred Frank Willis married 15 Dec. 1923.
Jacqueline WILLIS, born 27 Jan. 1926, died 28 Apr. 2000.
Thelma has written her autobiography which of course provides a very complete account of her life. I include a brief summary of it here. I have adopted the policy of not including any living members of the family unless they provide their own autobiographies or approve of what I write; the only member of the third generation who has died by January 2009 is Jacqueline Freda Willis the daughter of Freda de la Paz and Wilfred Frank Willis. We have very little information about her but what we have is recorded below.
Thelma Ruck Keene.
Thelma was born at Woodford, Weston-super-Mare on 9 January 1916 of parents Ralph Edgar Ruck Keene and Christina de la Paz Garsia. Her father was killed in the First World War on 16 January 1916 and never saw his daughter. Her autobiography tells her life’s story; of how her grandmother had such an influence on her early days in Weston-super-Mare from where at the age of five with her mother and Uncle Willoughby she sailed for the USA and Texas where the other two trained in chiropractic. On return to England after two years she started more serious schooling followed by various jobs and in the last quarter of 1935 marriage to Arthur Lyons. She trained as a secretary. With this she got a job in the Foreign Office which led to her being posted to Budapest at about the start of the Second World War. Her autobiography describes her adventures as the Germans advanced and chased the British out of that part of the world and she escaped to the Middle East. There she spent much of the war having many adventures till finally returning home in 1944. In the second quarter of 1947 she married Arthur Lyons and then in the third quarter of 1951 she married Harry Edge by whom she had her son Leo Edge. When this marriage broke up she emigrated to Canada in 1966 where after a period selling the Encyclopaedia Britannica to the Eskimos she started a very successful shop in Ontario selling native Canadian craft. When she retired from this she moved to Vancouver where her son is living and where, at the age of ninety two, she is active in the Peace Movement. (RWPMW, January 2009)
Jacqueline Freda Willis.
She was born on 27 January 1926 in Petersborough, Cambridgeshire.
What further information we have is meagre and is based on Thelma’s book and Joy’s memory.
Thelma’s record is all written above in the section relating to Freda, Jacqueline’s mother. Joy has a memory of visiting her in some kind of institution in the period about 1944 when the Willis-Flemings were living in East Grimstead, Sussex.
We had no idea if she was dead or still alive till Angela found her death record. She died on 28 April 2000 in a flat on the border between Hove and Brighton. Our son Gavin was living only a few blocks away at the time and we felt particularly sad that we hadn’t found her a few years earlier. She would have had a lot to tell us.
I found her in the Brighton Voters’ list for 2000 at Osprey House thus: 1892 WILLIS, Jacqueline F. 87.
She was not listed in the 1998 list at Osprey House.
The Librarian described Osprey House as located near the boundary between Hove and Brighton and consisting of a large block of flats.
I searched for her in the Brighton street directories but there were too many Willises to be sure of having found her.
Her address at time of death (28 Apr. 2000) was given as 87 Osprey House, Sillwood Place, Brighton. Joy and I found it and took a photograph but were unable to raise any of the neighbours who might have been able to tell us something about Jacqueline. Her date of birth was given as 27 January 1926 at Peterborough (see 04Nov26.doc) I then found the reference to her birth record (see 04Dec3.doc) and ordered the certificate which arrived on 10 Dec (filed as DOC 268). This shows that she was born on 25 Jan. 1926 at 33 Westgate Peterborough and given the name Jacqueline Freda. Her father’s name is recorded as Wilfred Frank Willis a tax officer with the Inland Revenue and her mother as Freda Willis formerly de la paz Garsia. There is no doubt that this is our Jacqueline. How sad that we didn’t find her before she died. She was living only a few blocks away from our son Gavin at that time.
Timeline for Willoughby Marston GARSIA and his descendants.
1834, 13 Feb.WMG born Kingston, Jamaica (Joy’s b’day book.)
1848, 3 Jul.WMG’s father Aaron dies in Kingston.
1856,SAM (WMG’s mother) in London – court case.
1857, 6 MayMH (MFW’s mother) marries Thomas Williams.
1860, 7 Nov.Minna Frances WILLIAMS born in Ahamadabad, India (Joy’s b’day bk.)
1861, CensusSAM in Edinburgh with daughters EAG, CHG and AEG.
1861, 14 Mar.WMG awarded M.D. degree at Univ. of Pennsylvania. (DOC392).
1861, 13 Jul.WMG arrives N.Y. from Panama (WMG’s age is given as 50) (DOC210)
1862, 9 Aug.WMG granted permission to practice medicine in Uruguay.
1863, 16 Feb.WMG arrives N.Y. from Jamaica (WMG’s age is given as 36) (DOC210).
1870, 7 Jun.MFW’s father Thomas Williams dies in London.
1871,WMG appears in UK census living in Bristol.
1871, CensusSAM (WMG’s mother) with daughters EAG and AEG living in Bristol.
1871, CensusMFW at school in Millbrook, Southampton.
1881,WMG appears in UK census living in London.
1881, CensusMFW (age 20) living with the Wallers in Millbrook, Southampton.
1881, CensusSAM (WMG’s mother) living in Portsea.
1881, CensusMH at Speldhurst, Kent.
1883, 13 Aug,WMG arrives in N.Y. from Liverpool (DOC210).
1883, 23 SepMH (MFW’s mother) marries Frederick Murton.
1884, 24 May.WMG marries Minna Frances WILLIAMS.
1886, 21 Aug.MH dies in Edinburgh.
1887, 27 Jul.WMG and MFW living in Harrogate.
1888, 4 Mar.Ralph Edgar Ruck Keene is born.
1888, 9 Oct.SAM dies in London
1891, CensusWMG and MFW living in ‘Fairholme’, Weston-super-Mare.
1891, 17 Jul.Marston de la Paz G. their first child is born.
1893, 4 Mar.Edward WILIS-FLEMING is born.
1893, 10 Mar.Willoughby de la Paz G. is born.
1894, 13 Oct. Christina de la Paz G. is born. (at Fairhome, Eastfield Park, W-s-M.*)
1894, abt 1st Dec. WMG and family move to Woodford, Clarence Pk., W-s-M.
1900, 20 Mar.Freda de la Paz G. is born.
1901, CensusWMG and family at 6 St Pauls Rd. W-s-M.
1909, 28 Apr.Magdelin Maria Wilhelmina BOBBE born.
1909, 20 Sep.WMG dies in Weston-super-Mare.
1915, 26 Mar.CdlPG marries Ralph Edgar Ruck Keene.
1915, 15 Oct.Harry EDGE is born.
1916, 9 Jan.Thelma Ruck Keene is born.
1916, 16 Jan.Ralph Edgar Ruck Keene is killed.
1916, abt. JunMFW and family move to Welch House, Quantock Road, W-s-M.
1917, 14 Nov.Medical report on WdlPG on retiring from the Officers Training Corps.
1918, 28 MayWdlPG sails from London for Ceylon (described as a rubber assistant).
1919,CdlPG and Thelma had moved to 104 Quantock Road, W-s-M.
1920, 18 Mar.WdlPG sails from Liverpool to Canada (described as a clerk age 26).
1921, 21 Dec.CdlPG and TRK sail for New York where they stay for two weeks.
1921, 28 Dec.CdlPG and Thelma arrive in New York on their way to Texas.
1922,CdlPG and Thelma join WdlPG in Texas to study Chiropractic.
????MFW moves to the Quantock Road house.
1923, JuneCdlPG and TRK living in St Johns Wood.
1923, AugCdlPG and TRK move to Emperors Gate, Kensington.
1923, 15 Dec.Freda dlPG marries Wilfred Frank WILLIS.
1924,CdlPG, WdlPG and TRK had moved to London.
1925, Ap-Jun.WdlPG marries Ivy Mary GROVE.
1925, EasterCdlPG and TRK move to Woodlands outside St Albans.
1925, Dec.CdlPG and TRK move to Inglenook, Coombe Hill Rd. E.Grinstead.
1926, 27 Jan.Jaqueline Freda WILLIS is born at Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.
1926, 3 Jun.CdlPG marries Edward WILIS-FLEMING.
1926, JulyCdlPG, TRK and EW-F move to Winton House Dawlish.
1928, Aug.CdlPG and EW-F (?TRK) move to Inglenook, Oathall Av. Haywards Heath.
1931,MFW and Freda with Jacqueline move to Hove/Brighton
1931,Thelma in London meets Marston for dinners, theatres etc.
1931, 30 MayFelicity WILLIS-FLEMING is born.
1935, 24 Apr.Christina Joy WILLIS-FLEMING is born.
1935, 3 Jun.WdlPG sails from Birkenhead to Gibraltar (described as a doctor of Chiropractic).
1935 Oct-DecTRK marries Arthur Lyons.
1935, 24 Dec.MFW. dies in Hove.
1936, 28 Mar.Christina and Edward move to Broken Ridge, Cobham.
1936 19 Aug.Christina and Edward move to Wychwood, Bromley.
1937, 23 Mar.Christina and Edward move to Cannons House, Radlett.
1938, 30 Mar.Christina and Edward move to 7c Branscombe Wood Lane, Bournemouth.
1939 Sep.Christina and Edward move to The Billet, N. Kilmott, Nr. Rugby.
1939, Dec.Christina and Edward move to 41 Hell ? Rd., Rugby.
1941, 5 Apr.MdlPG marries Magdelin Maria Wilhelmina BOBBE.
1943, Dec. 29Christina and Edward move to Avenue Mansions, London.
1944, 6 Mar.Marilyn Ursula de la Paz Garsia born.
1944, 5 Apr.Christina and Edward move to Dorincourt, E. Grinstead.
1945, 27 Jul.Christina and Edward move to Arran, Battle, Sussex.
1945, 10 Oct.Christina and Edward move to Woodford, Hastings.
1946, 16 Oct.Christina and Edward move to 63 Fore St., Chudleigh, Devon.
1947 Apr-JunTRK marries Alexander P. Mitchell-Innes
1948, 22 Oct.Christina and Edward move to Lark Rise, Lustleigh, Devon.
1949, 11 Nov.Christina and Edward move to Harbourland House, Chudleigh.
1951, 28 Jan.Christina and Edward move to Summerhill, Newton Abbot*.
1951, Jul-Sep.TRK marries Harry EDGE.
1952, 20 Dec.Leo Ralph EDGE is born.
1953, 3 Jun.Peter James SLATER is born.
1958, 15 Feb.CJW-F marries Robert William Peter McWHIRTER.
1958, 27 Mar.FW-F marries Johm Greville POCOCK.
1958, 28 Sep.Christina and Edward move to Fairholm, Newton Abbot
1960, 28 Mar.Tessa McWHIRTER is born.
1960, 25 Aug.FdlPG (WILLIS) dies.
1961, 16 Aug.Fiona McWHIRTER is born.
1961, 10 Aug.Stephen Greville POCOCK is born.
1963, 26 Aug.Hugh Edward POCOCK is born.
1964, 6 Oct.CdlPG dies.
1965, 23 Apr.Gavin John McWHIRTER is born.
1966, 23 Jan.MUdlPG marries Christopher Michael CARNE.
1967, 11 Jan.Ivy Mary G. (nee GROVE) dies.
1967, 19 Oct.Amanda Lisa CARNE born.
1968, 7 Jul.Emily Tamelayne BURNETT is born.
1968, 14 Sep.WdlPG dies.
1970,Davina GRUNSTEIN is born.
1972, 7 Mar.Nicola Karen CARNE born.
1972, 18 Jul.MdlPG dies in London.
1985, 16 Nov.TMcW marries Peter James SLATER.
1989, 22 Aug.Hannah SLATER is born.
1992, 21 MayJames Peter SLATER is born.
1992, 11 Sep.FMcW marries Wouter Marinus vanGALEN.
1994, 23 Jul.GJMcW. marries Emily Tamelayne BURNETT.
1997, 31 Aug.HEP marries Davina GRUNSTEIN.
1997, 26 Sep.Felix George McWHIRTER is born.
1997, 31 Dec.Jack Marinus vanGALEN is born.
1999, ?? Apr. MMW BOBBE dies
1999, 30 Sep.Leo Peter vanGALEN is born.
2000, 13 Jan.Harry Arthur McWHIRTER is born.
2000, 13 Jan.Angus Hugh McWHIRTER is born.
2000, 28 Apr.JF WILLIS dies at Hove.
2001, 6 Feb.Henry Greville POCOCK is born.
2001, 6 Feb.Charlotte Annabelle POCOCK is born.
2001, ? Sep.Rowan Albert POCOCK is born.
2006, ? Jun.Jasper Garcia POCOCK is born.
* The information between these ** (1894 to 1958) concerning CdlPG and others comes from the slip of paper in Christina’s hand that is enclosed with her visitors’ book. It is not quite consistent with the entries in the book itself which are more reliable as they were written at the time. Also the book provides more detailed addresses. .