the family story, Part 3 – Remarriage

To round off this part of the story, I should describe my paternal grandfather. But I realise that I know practically nothing about him at this stage of his life – about 1910-1920.

His name was Selwyn, poor chap, and he was about 20 at the turn of the century. He was educated at Glenalmond College in Perthshire (his mother was Scottish, his father English, and so the elder son went to Winchester (I think) and the younger to Glenalmond) and then Oxford. He became an electrical engineer.

During the course of the Great War he became a major, and that became the name he was called by for the rest of his life. One can hardly blame him; Selwyn does not trip off the tongue.

At the time of my grandparents’ separation, a divorce was not that easy to obtain. There had to be a guilty and an innocent party, usually of adultery. Sometimes, the husband offered to ‘provide the evidence’ so as not to blacken his wife’s name by an accusation of unfaithfulness, but there had to be no hint of collusion, nor an indication of guilt on both sides as the one cancelled out the other and a divorce was not granted.

However, in this case, I imagine that it was a clear case as Helen had run away with her lover and the Major divorced Helen. She went on to marry Colonel Wake and had two more sons, William and John. She was, of course, cut off from her considerable inheritance by her horrified parents and so, when the Colonel became ill with cancer and died, she was left very poor – presumably the Colonel didn’t have much money himself.

The Major was a gentleman and could not see his former wife destitute. He and Helen had kept in touch for their son’s sake – how much affection was still there I don’t know, but forgiveness there must have been. They remarried and he brought up her sons as his own.

4 comments on “the family story, Part 3 – Remarriage

  1. Geena

    I cannot imagine it! Two extra-marital affairs cancel each other out? Two wrongs make a right? Bwah ha ha ha…how insane. Gosh but those old laws look silly nowadays.

    Your Major was a true gentleman..that is one of the things that we don’t have these days. Forgiveness and reconciliation. Nope – it’s all mud-slinging and hatred and’s all about ME, ME, ME…

    Where has the world gone wrong?

    Z – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you have a remarkable life. And your family background is fascinating.

    You could write a book, you know.

  2. Z

    It’s true, one of you had to be innocent to be able to be granted a divorce.

    Writing this down makes me aware of how little I know about the people concerned. It’s quite hard to make anything of a story of it!

  3. Geena

    I should do this too..I also know so little about my family background. I’m going to ask my Mom for details, and maybe blog it..something to write about. And a record of stories for the kids?

  4. Z

    Geena, do ask your mum. Anything I know about family backgrounds was from my mum, but now there’s no one left to ask. Though next time I’m with my sister I’ll see if she can add anything – she is older than me so at least remembers our paternal grandparents.

    I suppose this is for my children as much as anything. My sons don’t read it, but El does. She will be the repository of family stories, hee hee (just thinking of her by the fireside with nieces & nephews hanging on every word).


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