Saturday, April 7, 2012

Charles Henry Hughes Spivey revisited

Someone who is researching C.H.H. commented on my previous post about Charles Henry Hughes Spivey, and I didn't notice their comment for six months!  I must admit I thought Blogger notified one about any comments, but for some reason this didn't happen.

It occurred to me that I had not included the picture that I think of as the most typical of C.H.H., nor yet had included a proper biography.  So I decided to rectify those oversights here.

Charles Henry Hughes Spivey was born in Carmarthen on 26 October 1870.  He was the son of William Smith Spivey (born 1830), an accountant and solicitors' manager and Maria Elizabeth Jones alias Hughes (born 1838).   His grandfather was Charles Henry Hughes, a solicitor, borough treasurer and Land tax commissioner for Carmarthen.

His mother's birth circumstances seem a little strange.  She was born Maria Elizabeth Jones, and no father is shown on her birth certificate, although she is Maria Elizabeth Hughes on the 1841 census and all those until her marriage to William Spivey.  She lived with her mother and maternal grandmother until the 1861 census, when she is shown living with Charles Henry Hughes and four of her siblings.

This is the astonishing thing:  in the 19th century, and in Wales, which I had always thought of a slightly more puritanical than England, C.H.H.'s grandmother never seems to have lived with the father of her five children.

C.H.H. seems to have had a sad childhood, but to have been born into an amazing group of siblings.  He was one of seven children, who seem to have been born roughly every two years.  The last living child is John H. Spivey, born 1875.  His mother died in 1877.  His namesake grandfather died in 1879, and then, tragically, his father died in 1881, leaving seven orphans, the youngest of whom was six years old.  C.H.H. was only eleven.

I have a photograph which I thought for years must show my great-great grandfather William Smith Spivey and his children after the death of his wife. Due to the fashions that the women are wearing, which are mid 1880s I don't think this is the case:  I think this shows Joseph Spivey, brother of William Smith Spivey, who appears to have taken on the guardianship of the younger children on the death of his brother.  His resemblance to C.H.H. when he was older is striking.

The next information I have about C.H.H. he is living in Walthamstow in 1891 with his brother William, who was a schoolteacher who later went on to be headmaster of Monoux School (see elsewhere on this blog).  His profession is shown as bank clerk on the census.

On 10 September, 1893, he joined the ranks of the Scots Guards.  He served 23 years and 136 days in the ranks before being promoted to a combatant commission on 24 January, 1917, retiring in 1920.

He served in the Boer War, with the second battalion Scots Guards, from 15 March 1900 to 27 October, 1902 in the 8th division. Otherwise, he seems to have been the Superintending Clerk of the Scots Guards for some years. I have a number of fading and crumbling letters which were sent to C.H.H. from various people over the years.  At some stage someone (maybe my grandmother) has typed up the letters onto thin copy paper, but this, too, is aging now.  I do not know if these are of interest to anyone but his descendents, but I will type them up here to become part of his record.


17.1. 14 from 5, Bury Street, St James' S.W
T Sergeant-Major Superintending Clerk C.H. Spivey
I am so very pleased dear Sergeant-Major Spivey that your hard work met with such a brilliant success last night.

Pray allow me to congratulate you, and on behalf of the associates to send you our hearty thanks and a cordial shake of the hand.
Sincerely yours,
Henry Stracey
From: Colonel J.W. Smith Neill, C.B.E.
January 24th, 1917 Headquarters, Scots Guards, Buckingham Gate, SW
Dear Spivey,
I feel I must write to congratulate you, on behalf of the Regiment, on being Gazetted to the Regiment as a Permanent Combatant Officer.  It is no doubt a great honour and one you will appreciate, but I know that all your brother Officers, past and present, will feel that there is no one who more thoroughly deserves such a reward and honour for the long service and splendid work you have done in and on behalf of the whole Regiment.

It is indeed a pleasure to me personally to feel that you have come to us as an Officer and no one, I feel sure, will be more truly and heartily welcomed by all.

I wish you long life to enjoy your honour and trust that further rewards may await you for you deserve everything that can possibly come you way in the way of good fortune and happiness.

It is my earnest wish that you may be long spared to be one of us and to continue your splendid service to the old Regiment.

Yours very sincerely
J.W. Smith Neill
From: don't know.
January 24th, 1917, 62 Warwick Square, SW
Dear Spivey,
It is with the greatest pleasure that I have just seen your name in the Gazette and no one knows better than I do how well you will perform the duties of your new rank.  It has all come out just as I wished it to.  By remaining in your old position as Superintendent-Clerk, you have now what I feel you have always wished for:  a commission to the regiment.  So much better than taking one in some other regiment where everything would have been strange and amongst ones you don't know.  I suppose some day I had better see Sgt Coot about the Association but I have no doubt you have given him over all the papers and you will be able to give us a help if we want it.  I can only end by wishing you many years of good health to perform your work as Quarter Master of the 3rd Battalion, which as I have said before I know how well you will assist your commanding officer and all the Battalion you will have perform your duties with.
yours sincerely
Marked "confidential"
Home Office, Whitehall Ln, 20 December, 1917
Order of the British Empire
I am directed by the Home Secretary to inform you that, in view of the services you have rendered on work connected with the War, it is proposed to submit your name to the King for appointment as a member of the Order of the British Empire.

The Home Secretary desires me to ask you to be so good as to fill up the enclosed form and return it to me in the accompanying addressed envelope at your earliest convenience.

I am sir, your obedient servant,
(Sir) G.G. Whishard
Acting secretary
Order of the British Empire

To Second Lieutenant C.H.H. Spivey.

From Colonel J.W. Smith-Neill, CBE
May 20th 1919 10, Wilbrahim Place, S.W.1
Dear Spivey,
I feel I must write to you a few lines on giving over Comd to thank you for all you did to help me during the time you were at H.Q.. I know how much I owe you for all your advice and help, and I shall always be most grateful to you.  I know so well that my start in the office required all your kind help and that I received so much assistance from you.  I can only try in these few lines to say "Thank You" many times from the bottom of my heart.

I do hope that you are feeling better, or that you soon will be.  Please don't forget me or Mrs Neill.  We shall always remember you and all you have done to help us both.
yours ever
J.W. Smith-Neill.
From:  Lieutenant-Colonel M Romer, OBE
August 10, year undated, 2, Eaton Place, SW
My dear Spivey,
I have been meaning to write to you for some time to thank you for all you did for us,while I was commanding the 3rd battalion.  No one could ever have served me better in every way and I know that during the "winding up" if it hadn't been for you I should have been hundreds of pounds out.

It makes me very sad to think that I have really left and I shall always remember you amongst my earliest and last associations with the Scots Guards, so I hope you will let me have a line from you from time to time and tell me what you are doing.

I sent your name in for the Depot and so hope you may get it, as it would suit you, and you it, down to the ground.

I hope the leg is better and that you will be able to have a good rest now and get it quite well.  Please remember me to your wife and family.
Yours ever
Malcolm Romer.
The mention of a problem with his leg, is all I know about it, but his son, Donald Charles, suffered from leg ulcers that wouldn't heal for some time, and his other son, Leslie William, lost a leg to diabetes too, so it may be a family weakness, rather than a war wound.

C.H.H.  was unusually awarded a civilian MBE for his work for the Guards during the war.  According to my grandfather, the Scots Guards had sent their records to the archives at some stage between the ending of the Boer War and the beginning of the first world war, and I imagine somewhere like the vast warehouse at the end of the Indiana Jones film - a cavernous building piled to the rafters with boxes.

When the Guards wanted to mobilise the troops, they had no records, and C.H.H. apparently managed to recall from memory the names and addresses of many of the men.  I am convinced that I must inherit my love of filing and categorization from him...but unfortunately not the prodigious memory!  The picture above is of Charles Henry Hughes Spivey on the day he collected his MBE.  He said he didn't want any fuss, or any of the family to go with him, but my great aunt, his step-daughter Caterina Mondioli, always known as Laurie to the family, happened along to be included in the photographs.

As to his private life, he married my grandmother, Ruth Elizabeth Charlotte Mondioli, nee Dickens, on 24 May, 1903 at St George's, Hanover Square.  She was a dancer who had been around the world to dance at the newly-formed Metropolitan Opera, and to Sydney to appear in "Turquoisette".  She had previously been married in New York and had a child, but returned home to England on the death of her first husband, Federico Mondioli, who was reputedly an Italian Count, although I have failed to find anything confirming that. Caterina, in the photograph above, is that child.

C.H.H. and Lottie had four children: Olive, who died young, my grandfather Donald Charles, my uncle Leslie, and my aunt Helen Marie, latterly Ingram.

I can see that C.H.H.'s family may not have approved of the dancer wife or the fact that he apparently insisted on joining the army as a private soldier, rather than purchasing a commission.  However, they were beginning to be scattered far and wide, and so it is hard to see that they were in a position to collectively disapprove of him.

Maria Isabel Spivey, his sister born two years before him on 27 December, 1868 was a teacher.  Educated at Carmarthen High School and Whitelands College in Chelsea, she went to Newcastle to teach at Durham College of Science as a teacher of the methods of education.

She married William Richardson on 23 May, 1900, and went to live in Willington-on-Tyne, taking on a number of voluntary and charitable causes in the area of Willington and Wallsend.  When war broke out in 1914, many families were thrown into poverty by the fact that their husbands and fathers had ceased to receive their wages from their peacetime jobs, but had not yet received their pay from the Army.  I didn't understand until I read the dedication in her husband's book about Wallsend, how much hardship this must have caused for families who were living on the breadline anyway.

Maria Isabel worked tirelessly for the wives and families to give them financial assistance until their money came through from the Army Paymaster.  She was later awarded an MBE for her work, and died in 1920, according to her husband, due to overwork. 

William Francis Spivey has already been mentioned, and became Headmaster of Monoux school.  He died in 1914.

Anne Mary Spivey, who must have borne a deal of the responsibility of the family, as the eldest child, later worked as a nurse for the Rothschild family.   I don't know much about Benjamin and Mary, the other two siblings, but the youngest, John, became a pilot in Aden.

What is striking about the group of siblings is that only C.H.H. appears to have gone on to have children himself.  I've found no information that leads me to believe that any of the other Spivey children ever did.

In 1920 C.H.H. retired from the Scots Guards, and he appears to have had a happy retirement with my great grandmother who was known as Lottie.  My grandfather once said that he didn't really have a mother, because she was so wrapped up in his father than she didn't really notice him.  They certainly seemed to have remained deeply involved with each other until his death on 23 June,1935, aged 64.

The newspaper obituary for C.H.H. mentioned that Gyp, his dog, refused to leave his bed and was found to have died on the day of his funeral. I believe it is Gyp who is shown in the above picture.

Lottie only lived a few months after C.H.H.'s death, dying in 1936, and she appears to have become a shadow of her former self, changing from a plump looking woman to a thin fashion plate. 

All three of C.H.H.'s surviving children had children, and many of their children had children too.  I haven't counted up all the surviving grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, but there are 10 great grandchildren and at least 20 great great grandchildren in my grandfather's branch of the family alone.

I will add to this biography as I find more information.


Michael Hendrychs said...

Hello Fee,
I came across your blog while researching a Mrs. Catherine Vanos whom I now believe to be your great-aunt, Caterina Mondioli. I was hoping you might be able to shine some light on a few circumstances and dates regarding your relative. I'm particularly interested in her marriage to Jack Vanos and her, as well as his, time at the Manor House Hospital in Folkestone. From what I've found so far, Mr. Vanos was injured while fighting for the Candadian forces and Mrs. Vanos volunteered as a nurse at Manor House while he was convalescing. During their time there, she made the acquaintance of a Mr. Al Watson, also of the CEF. After the war, the Vanos's made their way to Chicago in 1920 where Mrs. Vanos id'd a previously unidentified murder victim as the Mr. Watson she and her husband met in Folkestone. In a newspaper article Mrs. Vanos mentions her step-father, CH Spivey, a captain of the Scots Guards, whom she lived with while in Folkestone. It then appears that possibly soon after her identification of the murder victim she and Mr. Vanos separate. Does any of this sound familiar? Any assistance you could provide in dates or additional information would be greatly appreciated.

Fee said...

Hi there Michael,
It's definitely the right woman - my great aunt was a half Italian American citizen born in New York, but she went back to the UK with my great grandmother in the early 1900s after her father died. I knew that she married Jack Van Os in 1915, and was later married to Mills Erwin Worcester but don't have much information in between.