Lieutenant-Colonel John Hay Shaw, his wife Rebecca Marian and daughter Lettice Hay Shaw
John Hay Shaw 1840-1923
John was born on 22 September 1840 in Madras, India, (now called Chennai) the son of James Shaw and Anne Amelia Stuart Hay. His mother came from Midlothian, Scotland and her maiden name, Hay, became part of his name. He came from an eminent family which originated from Ayr in Scotland.
His Father’s Medical Career
His father, James, born on 20 February 1809, in Ayr, Scotland, joined the Indian Medical Service, having gained his M.R.C.S. in 1832. In 1834 he entered the Madras Army service as Assistant Surgeon, becoming Surgeon in 1851. He subsequently held a number of positions including Professor of Surgery and Principal of Madras Medical College, Inspector-General, then Principal Inspector-General of the Madras Medical Service, before his retirement in 1867. His death, aged 81, is recorded in the ‘Belfast News’ of 6 December 1889, living at 68 Thicket Road, Anerley, Kent. His wife had died in 1851 and is buried at St Mary’s Church, Madras.
His brother, John’s uncle, also born in Scotland, was Brigadier General Sir Charles Shaw, who eventually became Chief Commissioner of Manchester Police, prior to his death on 22 February 1871 in Germany, where he had been living.
John Hay Shaw’s Military Career
John joined the Madras Infantry, the 108th Regiment of Foot, as 2nd Lieutenant. The Madras Infantry was transferred to the British Army Service after the Indian Mutiny (1857-9) and was eventually merged into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1881. In the 1881 census he is recorded as living in the Fulwood Barracks near Preston. John had reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, as recorded in the London Gazette, on 28 October 1889 announcing his retirement on half pay.
On March 14 1876 Captain John Hay Shaw married Rebecca Maryanne Minchin Jeffers at St Stephen’s Church, Westbourne Park, London. This was announced in the Belfast News-Letter of 17 March 1876, reflecting that both parties had strong links to Ireland.
Later Census Records
In the 1891 census he is recorded as living at ‘Belmont’ (Upper Tooting) Streatham, London, with his wife Rebecca and their 2 children, Clara (11) and Lettice Barbara (4) His oldest child, son James Donald, was away at boarding school in Sussex.
In the 1901 census he is recorded as living at 8 The Crescent, Bedford, aged 60, with Rebecca aged 46 and Lettice aged 14. He had brought his family to Bedford, possibly attracted by the education offered by the Harpur Trust Schools, as were many families from the military and the Empire. He enrolled his daughter Lettice at the High School in 1895.
He continued to live at 8 The Crescent, as recorded in the 1911 census, with his wife Rebecca and his daughter Clara (31) Lettice having tragically died in 1904.
Following his retirement from The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and move to Bedford he was involved in many charitable activities. He was the originator and founder of the Guild of Help, serving for many years as Honorary Secretary. He was the first President of the ‘After Care Committee of Hospital Patients’ resigning after about 12 years due to ill health. He was then elected Honorary Governor of Bedford County Hospital, a high distinction.
He died at 8 The Crescent on 24 November 1923 aged 83. The inscription on the grave stone reads ‘amavimus amamus amabimus’ ( we have loved, we love, we will love) inspired by St Luke’s gospel; the same inscription is also on the grave of Charles Kingsley, the Christian Socialist author of the Water Babies, and the graves of a number of World War 1 victims.
Grave Reference- E4.77
Rebecca Maryanne Minchin Hay Shaw 1854-1948
(Recorded as Marian on the memorial window to Lettice in St Paul’s Church, Bedford)
Background of her parents
Rebecca was born on 6 December 1854 in London, the daughter of the Reverend Michael Haynes Jeffers and Rebecca Mary Ann Minchin. Both her parents were born in Ireland. In December 1850 her mother had married Captain Minchin of the 95th Ceylon Rifles and was widowed soon after their arrival in Ceylon. (Sri Lanka today) She returned to England.
In 1853 her mother married the Reverend Michael Haynes Jeffers and Rebecca was born in London in1854, and later was joined by a brother, Robert William. The Reverend Michael Haynes Jeffers had applied to serve the church in Madras and the family was on their way to Madras when he died of Consumption (TB) at sea in 1862. Again her mother returned to England a widow, this time with 2 young children.
Her mother married for a third time Captain George Vernon Gideon in London in 1865 and a son George Gideon was born, Rebecca’s half- brother. The 1871 census records her mother, now Rebecca Gideon, living in Teignmouth, Devon with her daughter Rebecca Maryanne M Jeffers, aged 16, Robert Jeffers aged 13, and George Gideon aged 3. She died on 18 August 1880.
Marriage to John Hay Shaw, and children
In March 1876 Rebecca was married to John Hay Shaw in London and they lived in Inniskilling, Ireland, where John was serving in the military. A son, James Donald Hay Shaw was born on 9 July 1877 in Inniskilling and a daughter Clara Marian Hay Shaw was born on 3 December 1879 also in Inniskilling. In 1887 a second daughter was born in London, Lettice Barbara Hay Shaw.
In the 1881 census Rebecca is recorded as living in a lodging house in London with her 2 children, James Donald Hay aged 3 and Clara Marian Hay aged 1. (Her husband was recorded at Fulwood Barracks, near Preston, presumably on military duties)
Living in Bedford
The 1901 and 1911 censuses record her living at 8 The Crescent Bedford, in 1901 with John and Lettice, and in 1911 just with John (Lettice having died in 1904) Following the death of her husband John in 1923 it appears that she stayed living on The Crescent, as the 1939 Register records her living at number 4 aged 85 with William Corner, the local Air Raid Warden, and his wife Isobel and other ladies. She died on 24 May 1948 in the County Hospital, Michelover, Derbyshire, aged 93, with her address recorded as The Crescent, Bedford. Her granddaughter, Lettice Cecilia, the daughter of her son, James Donald Hay Shaw, lived in Repton, Derbyshire, recorded on the 1939 Register working as a psychiatric social worker. Was her grandmother visiting her when she died or had she been looking after her grandmother in Derbyshire? Her funeral took place in St Paul’s Church, Bedford.
Grave Reference- E4.77
Lettice Barbara Hay Shaw 1887-1904
Lettice was born on 27 January 1887 at the family home, ‘Belmont’, Upper Tooting, London. The birth was announced in the Belfast News-Letter of 3 February 1887, a reminder of John’s military links with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Ireland. The censuses of 1891 and 1901 record her living with her parents, at ‘Belmont’, Upper Tooting, 1891, and at 8 The Crescent in Bedford in 1901.
Following the family move to Bedford she was enrolled in May 1895 at the High School, a Harpur Trust Girls’ School renowned for its education. She was a very talented pupil and in 1902 came first in the Senior Girls’ Oxford Local Examinations and was therefore awarded the High School Exhibition. She was well regarded also for her poetry, encouraged by her teacher Ethel Woods. Tragically she died on 4 June 1904, aged 17, while still at school. After her death a collection of her poems and letters to Miss Woods and others were published.
In June 1908 a stained glass window was dedicated as a memorial to Lettice in St Paul’s Church, Bedford. The Bedfordshire Times of 5 June 1908 writes that it is inserted in the south wall of the Lady Chapel, now called the Chapel of the Holy Trinity or Trinity Chapel. Lettice’s family wanted a semi private ceremony and the small group of those present included her parents and sister Clara, a few close friends and Miss Collie, Headmistress of the High School, some of the High School mistresses and girls.
The window has 3 lights:
Centre: The Virgin and Child Right: St Francis of Assisi Left: St Clare
There are inscriptions from Acts 26 and St Paul’s epistles to the Galatians.
The window is next to the stained-glass window in memory of Miss Marian Belcher, the second Headmistress of the High School.
Lettice is buried in the Cemetery Grave Reference- E.4.72
John and Rebecca had 2 other children, James and Clara, who are buried elsewhere:
James Donald Hay Shaw 1877-1940
Son James, born in Inniskilling, had a military career like his father, recorded as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1895. In April 1902 he was a Captain in the Royal Marines Artillery.
In October 1902 he married Rhodda Spitta in Portsmouth, Hants. Sadly she died in September 1904 and in March 1905 he married Beatrice Mary Studdy. They had 2 children, a daughter Lettice Cecilia Hay Shaw, born in London in June 1906 and a son Carill John Hay Shaw, born in Seaham, Durham in November 1907. In 1912 he left for Canada with his family and served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War 1.
In 1921 he is recorded in Nova Scotia having become a Canadian citizen.
In 1928 he is recorded living in Quebec.
In 1939 the National Register records him in the ‘Commandant Hospital for Officers in Brighton, Sussex, as a ‘totally disabled ex-officer’.
His wife died that year and he died on 28 December 1940 in Surrey.
Clara (Clare) Marian Hay Shaw 1879-1955
Clara, born in Inniskilling, is recorded as living with her parents until the 1901 census when she is recorded as living at ‘Brook House’ in East Barnet, Herts, aged 21. The Head of the house was Henry Corner, a physician, living with his wife Janet and family. Also in the house were a number of other young people and teachers.
The 1911 census shows Clara living with her parents at 8 The Crescent. Her sister Lettice had died in 1904 and there is a newspaper record that she had attended the memorial ceremony and dedication of the stained glass window to Lettice in St Paul’s Church, Bedford, in 1908.
The National Register of 1939 shows her as a patient at St Andrews Hospital, Northampton, with the note ‘incapacitated, not previously employed’. Her mother died in 1948 and she died on 17 June 1955 in Ayr, Scotland, from where her grandfather, James Shaw, and family had originated.
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