The Lady and The Bus Conductor

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In memory/of/George William Wallace/D’Arcy Evans/who died on Sept 8th 1906/aged 46 year

A simple gravestone, no indication of family, or expressions of regret or piety, but it conceals a story which stretches from Ireland to England to South Africa and Canada.

George William Wallace D’Arcy Evans was born on 4 October 1860 at Knockaderry House, County Limerick. He was the second son of John D’Arcy Evans and Marion Evans nee Wallace, perhaps best described as minor Anglo-Irish landed gentry.

Knockaderry House

As befits a second son who had no great expectations, he joined the army as a young man, but it seems there was not even enough money to buy him a commission, as he joined as a trooper and served for three years in the ranks of the South Wales Borderers. He was finally commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Irish Rifles in 1886. and served as Superintendent of Gymnasia in Colchester. He was promoted to Captain in 1894.

He had married Harriette George Marion Gledstanes Richards on 18 July 1889 at Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin.  She came from a similar background to George and was the daughter of Captain George Gledstanes Richards of Macmine Castle, County Wexford. She was born on 11 August 1869.

Macmine Castle – not really a castle, but a country house

Three sons were born to the couple over the next three years, though the third died before his second birthday. Then, in 1895, George exchanged into the 20th Hussars and sailed with his young family to India, where his only daughter was born.  However, their stay on the sub-continent was brief. After just a year, George exchanged again, this time into the Bedfordshire Regiment. Life in India did not suit everyone.  They were living in Mhow (now  Dr. Ambedkar Nagar) in Bengal, where summer temperatures can reach 43 degrees centigrade and winter fall to minus 4.

Back in the UK, George seems to have found his niche in the army in writing textbooks. These included Field Training Made Easy in Accordance with the Revised Syllabus Contained in the New Infantry Drill and The Non-Commissioned Officer’s Guide to Promotion in the Infantry.  The Army & Navy Gazette praised them for their clarity and usefulness. Harriette also wrote a book, In Mermaidland, and Other Stories, which the Gazette dismissed as ‘a very slight production for children.’ The Liverpool Mercury, however said that they were four beautiful stories and that the humour pervading the book made it very enjoyable.

But in December 1897, Harriette admitted to her husband that she had been unfaithful to him. They separated, but in 1900, on learning that she had given birth to a child in 1898, George took her back. The child seems to have been accepted by George as his own, and given Evans family names: Hardress Waller Eyre D’Arcy Evans. George told Harriette that she had ‘a clear, fresh start’ and that he would protect her against anybody. The family lived for a while together at 34 St Leonard’s Avenue, Bedford.

However, the next year, Harriette started a new liaison with a man she met on a bus, Charles Abbott. He was, in fact, the conductor of the station omnibus, which ran from the George Hotel in Bedford. Charles was already married, a fact which, Harriette said later, he did not share with her immediately. He was also, at nineteen, very much younger than her, although he may not have told her that immediately either. He had lied about his age at his marriage to Edith Bainbridge only the year before, saying that he was twenty-one, whereas his Canadian death record shows his date of birth as 22 May 1882. Since by the time he died there was no need for subterfuge, this is likely to be correct. He was the son of William Abbott, a shepherd, and his wife Martha.

Image result for george hotel bedford

The George Hotel, Bedford, on the left of the picture

The couple corresponded. He called her ‘my dearest darling’, she wrote him ‘hysterical’ letters. Harriette was confronted by Edith in the street, but refused to give up her lover. She wrote to Charles suggesting that they elope to Canada, where they could live on her small private income of £200 a year.

He agreed.  On 1 June 1901, while George was out riding, Harriette escaped from the house and met Charles at Bedford station. They took a train to Liverpool where they stayed at a hotel under the names Mr and Mrs Brown, and under those names they sailed for Canada.

George had run out of patience, and divorced Harriette the next year, though he was by then in South Africa, fighting the Boers. He was adjutant of the 36th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry during the Boer War.  Charles was divorced by Edith in 1905. She had heard nothing at all from him since his elopement.

George relinquished his South African post in 1903 and rejoined the Bedfordshire Regiment. It is unclear why he was in Hythe when he died, although he may have had business with the School of Musketry in the town.

Meanwhile, Charles and Harriette married in Canada in 1908 and spent the rest of their lives together in south Saskatchewan as Mr and Mrs Abbott-Brown, a good compromise. They had five children together, although their only son,  born in 1912,  predeceased them, dying in a house fire in 1955.  Harriette’s only daughter by her first marriage, Silvia,  was able to spend time with her mother in Canada.

Charles and Harriette died in British Columbia within months of each other, he on 20 February 1960, she on 30 September that year.

The grave marker for Harriette and Charles. .

Burke’s Peerage air-brushed Harriette from their history.  It gives her date of death, but no details of her second family.  However, since then, descendants of both her first and second husbands have made contact and met.

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15 thoughts on “The Lady and The Bus Conductor

  1. I have no idea who these people were, or any connection, but I enjoyed the story. It seems that even the most obscure points on the planet are full of the stuff of novels.

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  2. Oh My goodness … I cannot believe what I just read !

    I know of this family here in Canada, the names are exact as are the places. Could you please contact me at my email address below. Alane .. waiting with baiting breath !

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  3. I am the great granddaughter of Charles and Harriett. They had 5 children together. Were legally married in 1908. Their youngest and only son John, noted in your blog, was the youngest member at that time, age 15, accepted to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. John never drove truck except for personal use. The second family has a great relationship with the grand and great grand children of the first family. The only daughter from the first family, Silvia, spent much time with her mother in Canada. I am the same age as Hardress’ grand daughter who resides in Cape Town and have had the pleasure of visiting with her twice while she completed her PhD studies in Canada. Your blog has filled some grey areas of my great grand parents transition to Canada, specifically through Charles work back ground.

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  4. Charles and Harriette had about 14 grandchildren who primarily established their families in two provinces, Alberta and British Colombia even though the 5 children were raised in southern Saskatchewan. The one daughter, Violet, went to the US and her two children had their families in California. The cousins interact as cousins do in such a large family. The great and great-great grandchildren are becoming further removed. The second family maintain relationships with Silvia’s children in Oregon and New Zealand. Elyston’s daughter in Brisbane Australia is another contact and finally Hardress’ granddaughter in Cape Town. Those grandchildren who are alive are well into their seventies and eighties now but are the best maintainers of the family relationship.

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    1. Hello, “Posy” I am writing on behalf of another Great Granddaughter of Charles and Harriett, who is also the Granddaughter of:
      Rosamond Marian Abbott-Brown
      BIRTH 12 AUGUST 1905 • Willowbrook, Saskatchewan, Canada
      DEATH 10 MAY 2004 • Edmonton, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

      I am writing you in hopes you and your family may reach out to her. Your cousin has such a kind heart and warm infectious laugh and I am proud to call her my friend. She has no idea I am writing to you but feel its important that I do, as she is part of your family & the history that comes with it.
      Not sure you aware, but your cousin lost her parents much too young in life, and it would be wonderful for her to get to know her Grandma’s side of the family. Would love to hear from you, as I am sure she would as well, Sincerely Alane
      Contact: alane_beyer@hotmail.com

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  5. I was at the McMine castle in 2009 with Harriet’s great grandson and his wife. The present owners of the land allowed them to tour what was left of the castle. It’s in the middle of a hog field. Harriet’s great grandson told us the story of Harriet and that she had four daughters in Canada. She named them after flowers-Daisy, Posy, Lily and…?
    Harriet’s life could very well make an interesting book or movie.

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  6. My research of my Grandmother Posy’s genealogy is extensive. For both her parents lineage the research extends to the late 1600s. According to census, Charles’ grandfather William was the shepherd. Two birth sources indicate that my half Great Aunt Sylvia was born in Mhow, Bengal, India, bringing into question information that her father George switched regiments to remain in England. The husbands’ surnames of Charles and Harriette’s four daughters, Lily, Posy, Vily and Daisy, were trees; Light, Willows, Oak, Fennel.

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