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An Introduction to the Rowntree Family
One Branch in the First World War Era
Contents - Index page
Colin Rowntree and Mary Begg
There is more to the story about
Colin and Mary during WW1
How Colin met Mary is a mystery but there is a letter from him dated 16th Jan 1913 saying
"The dance on the 24th begins at 7.30,
At that time Mary Begg, still only 19 years old, lived with her mother and father, Sam Begg, an artist for the Illustrated London News at 23 Fairfax Road, Bedford Park, Chiswick..
Sam was born in New Zealand but had settled in England after an interesting career in New Zealand, Australia and art training in Paris. Mary was Sam and Ada’s only child with serious artistic capabilities. She was also beautiful and obviously noticed by Colin who was about 3 years older. A map of Chiswick, on page 31, shows that they did not live that far apart and that Bedford Park and Hammersmith Terrace are less than a mile apart as the crow flies.
Bedford Park had been designed and built in the late 1800’s inspired by Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s that followed the ideals of men such as John Ruskin and William Morris.
There is circumstantial evidence that Fred was interested in the Arts and Crafts movement and may have worked with Rene Macintosh in Scotland and most likely knew of William Morris who had lived along the Thames in Kelmscott House before his death in 1896.
Also Emery Walker - Process Engraver Friend and mentor to William Morris, lived at No. 7 Hammersmith Terrace, a few doors away. The geographical proximity of all these people is too significant to be coincidence, and as the story develops it is noticeable how the family that had its roots in Yorkshire, settles down well in one of "arts" areas of the capital.
Colin and Mary were married on the 30th Oct 1914, 3 months after the start of WW1 and Colin himself left for France that very day having had a few weeks training in First Aid, Ambulance work and no doubt military matters, with the Friends Ambulance Unit at Jordans, near Beaconfield, in Buckinghamshire.
From his diaries for the next 4 years, we get a fairly clear idea of the type of work he was doing and from the letters between him and Mary and from Fred and Mary Anna ( Annie) a picture of some of the Rowntree family’s activities can be gleaned.
It is interesting to observe how, as must have been the case so often during the First World War, despite spending 4 years on the continent involved in a horrific war, there was still a domestic element to their lives with wives and families sorting houses and babies and entertaining family amidst working endlessly to support their men at the front.
In this respect interesting comparisons can be made with the lives of the Dibdin family at that time, when William Joseph Dibdin continues to run an engineering – chemistry consultancy and business while his sons are doing their bit in Europe.
Details of this, available, again from letters and documents of the time, are available on the website.
Letters to and from Colin during the War refer often to his complaint and to pain. Based on family anecdotal evidence this was most likely to be a stomach ulcer which was inherited for a further 2 generations, and which may have been why he was in Glasgow hospital in 1929 having an operation, watched over by his cousin Doctor Arnold Gray from Tavyalich