Monday, June 22, 2009

A Descendant of G.K. Chesterton's brother Cecil's wife Ada Writes to Us

In response to "Gramps"'s advice on the blog of the American Chesterton Society, on how to pronounce Cecil in Dec 2006, I wrote:

Yes, or even Cess-all. I'm two years late, I know, but Ada Elizabeth Jones Chesterton was my great-aunt. When her brother died in 1926, his wife and three daughters went to live with her at 3 Fleet Street. They were my aunts and my mother, who died in 2002. The other day, at my father's house, looking through some old photos, I found one of her grandfather, Charles Frederick Jones. I'd never seen one of him before. It is posted here. My mother was a writer...
... both her parents were too, and a lot of us have Sheridan as a middle name (I do -- but I'm no writer at all). Any idea why? I haven't. Incidentally, Ada Elizabeth was always known (to me from my mother, grandmother and aunts, as 'Keith' -- no idea why, though that's what K in GK stands for.

(On the back is the photographer's name and address, AYLING, 493 OXFORD STREET, and if you google that, you can find a picture of a lady in an enormous skirt posing for her portrait, with the same dado behind her.)

I was idly surfing to see what there was out there re my great grandfather and great aunt (who I never met, though my Nana lived with us at the end of her life, the late 50s). My mother wrote poems, plays and a fictionalised autobiography which included idolisation of 'Keith' and her years there (1926-8, I think). She had one play put on, but mostly earned money as a local journalist. My grandfather, the one who died in 1926, Charles Sheridan Jones, was a journalist and pamphleteer of not much note, and my grandmother wrote pot-boilers. She and her sister-in-law were campaigners, she for nursery school provision, and 'Keith' for homeless people.

I know almost nothing about this man, my great grandfather. I didn't even know his name before two days ago! My father admits never even seeing the picture. Sadly, my mother had Alzheimer's Disease for the last few years of her life, and her papers became very muddled. So did her middle sister. She said her parents should NEVER have married: "she was quite wrong for him". Isn't that a funny thought, that I might never have been here!

Yours sincerely
Nick Barnett

Notes from Nancy: I reminded Nick that Ada chose the name JK Prothero, or John Keith Prothero, as her pen name for her journalist career. She preferred people to call her Keith all her life, and as we see here, she preferred her relatives to call her that as well.

I've written to our British correspondant, Aidan Mackey, to ask about the name Sheridan, as he was a friend of Ada's and knew her.

1 comment:

  1. Nick Barnett! If you are around, please write me nancy at chesterton dot org. I would like to know the names of your aunts and mother. Thank you!


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