May 17, 2013 by auntkatefirmin
I have a cardboard box filled with letters, photographs and other memorabilia. As far as I know, it’s the box Aunt Kate used to store the same items. It’s a flat rectangular box, about the size I call a shirt box. In the box is an undated newspaper clipping from the Christian Science Monitor.
The ad was placed at the direction of Fanny Agnes Hall. Fanny is another first cousin, the daughter of John Robert Firmin’s brother George Henry Berkeley Firmin. Many of the letters in the box are from Fanny, who often signed them “your affect. coz, Fan.”
Fanny was a widow living in Farnborough when Constance Trotter died. She did her best to visit Emily and Connie three or four times a year. She had last visited in October 1937. At Christman Connie wrote to Fan her mother had died, but that Fan was not to tell anyone as she “felt too grieved to answer letters.” Fan immediately invited her to visit but Connie declined her offer, saying that she had promised to go to stay with another relative, Mrs. Anthony, in London.
Not too long afterward, it happened that old friend of Fanny’s father sent her a note to say he was on holiday in Bath and enclosed a book of views for her. Being concerned for Connie, Fan wrote back and asked the gentleman to pay a call and inquire if Connie wouldn’t please come and stay with Fan. He wrote back with the disturbing news that Connie had never recovered from her mother’s death and had died just two weeks before his visit. In addition, her cousins on her father’s side had told Connie’s solicitors that there were no other living relatives.
“I at once went to Bath & said that I was niece of Mrs. Trotter & that as such I should like to know how her estate was settled as I knew she had still two sisters & a brother still living. They were most astonished as Mrs Anthony had claimed everything being the only relations they possessed. Now here I must tell you my Aunts were not on visiting terms & knew very little about each other but I loved them all & was very happy with them all but I lost sight of Aunt Harriet for many years however after a lot of thought I decided to go the National Debt office where I know she collected her annuity & at last got in touch with her. In the mean time I was able to prove they were Aunt Emily’s next of kin just in time to stop all the money going to the Trotter side of the family. Fortunately I possessed a list of all the uncles & aunts (my father had given it me one day saying keep this Fan it may come in useful one day) & it certainly did. I was able to prove with out any trouble all their births also our grand parents marriage as the list was a register of all dates but I could not find (although we advertised all over the world) anything of Uncle Tom or Uncle Mick but I did do all I possibly could for the good of them all. I know my dear Aunt Emily would have been glad.”
Even though Kate had not been able to make contact with her cousins until nearly ten years after the ad was placed, Fan’s account after so long is still quite vivid. I do feel sad for Connie – but in a different world Aunt Kate might never have had the chance to correspond with her cousins.
PS. The living aunts and uncles in 1937 were Aunt Harriet, Aunt Kate and Uncle Eddie, who will receive their own posts in due course.
PSS. In case you were wondering, I believe that Elizabeth Marshall Anthony was born Elizabeth Marshall Millar about 1870, the daughter of Elizabeth Marshall Trotter & William Millar who married Robert Stewart Anthony and was living in the greater London area in 1943. Thus she was Connie’s first cousin. While I haven’t subjected this assumption to the highest standard of proof, I’m relatively confident I’m correct.