Sunday, 9 March 2008

Nerves are the Devil

Edith Brooks1889 saw the birth of Frederick's first child, a girl named Edith Mary Brooks. The photograph here dates from around the turn of the last century.

At the age of nineteen, on the 3rd June 1908, Edith married Edward W L Jarrett. We currently know little of their early time together other than they had soon produced both a son and a daughter.

By the mid 1920's Frederick's old school acquaintance Cecil Rhodes had moved up in the world and Edith's youngest brother Herbert Cecil Brooks was working as a Assistant Native Commissioner in what was then Northern Rhodesia. Although far removed from the luxuries of London, while the kids boarded at school, Edith and Edward Jarrett decided on a little holiday.

On Christmas day 1927 Edith wrote to her brother in Solwezi. She and Ted would be sailing on the Arundel Castle out of Southampton on Jan 27th bound for Cape Town. She had booked directly with Union Castle as, "I know someone there and got 10% back off the passage money". Ted had problems with depression but on this Christmas morning at 33 Wilbury Gardens he had managed to get himself out of bed.

Ted's health also prolonged their stay once they had reached Cape Town. Whilst staying at the Mount Nelson Hotel Edith took the time to finalise the details of the trip. The Walmer Castle would take them on the six day voyage to Durban. From the 11th to the 15th of April they would be staying at the Marine Hotel before heading for the Carlton in Johannesburg. After a further stay in Bulawayo they would be staying at Victoria Falls for a week before making the final leg of their journey to Elisabethville (modern day Lubumbashi) and Solwezi.We see from Edith's letters that she arranged with Thomas Cook to have supplies for their stay sent straight up to Solwezi. As well as extra food and camp kit, a collection of gramophone records was also dispatched. Unfortunately Thomas Cook had trouble with this request, the road between Elisabethville and Solwezi "is at present impassable the bridge having been carried away". Another request for a car to take Edith and Ted on the final leg of the journey from Sakania was also in doubt as the car due to collect them was, "apparently held up at Kasenga; we understand there are five lorries bogged on the Kasenga road and the position at present does not appear hopeful".

While still in Cape Town Ted visited a Doctor recommended by a friend. Whilst waiting Edith pencilled another letter to Solwezi. "Friday, Saturday and Sunday Ted seemed much better and took quite an interest in everything but hasn't been to grand since. Nerves are the devil. I'm only hoping it will be such an immense change with you it will make him forget there is such a person as E. Jarrett for a bit". They had some luck at the horse races and attended a dance at Sea Point but Edith ends her letter, "Ted hasn't brought a gun as he said he should shoot himself if he had one so I dropped the question quietly".

The next letter we have dates from 19th April 1928, two weeks after Edith and Ted arrived in Solwezi. Herbert wrote to Thomas Cook in Elisabethville asking for arrangements to be made for their return to Cape Town via Durban. It is only in a letter from the following day that a clearer picture starts to emerge. Herbert wrote to a friend in Elisabethville, "the visit of my sister and brother-in-law, Mr & Mrs Jarrett, has unfortunately been a failure and Jarrett is now suffering with a bad type of nervous breakdown. The Doctor has ordered him home and they will leave Elisabethville for Durban on the 28th April".
He goes on to ask if a travelling companion can be found for Edith for the journey as, "my sister is nervous of the journey down to Durban, without anyone on the train that she knows, as Jarrett is at times very difficult to handle".

On the 16th May Edith once again writes to Herbert's wife Hilda. Having arrived back in Cape Town she is now at the Cape of Good Hope. "Dear Hilda, Many thanks for forwarding letters and sending home address book. I got your letter the day of Ted's funeral. He died on board the Edinburgh Castle on May 12th and was buried at Maitland cemetery on Monday...I am now staying with Miss Fairbridge till Friday when I am going on on the Edinburgh. I am very sorry I created such a disturbance in your household. Lots of love to you & Bill, Edith [p.s] Ted especially wanted to be remembered to Kinross whom he said he felt liked & was sorry for him".

The events in Solwezi and the cause of Edward's death are not covered by any of our present documents. The story told by 'Bill', now in his eighties, is that Ted tried to attack his brother-in-law with a knife. The death on the Edinburgh Castle while officially being recorded as malaria, again according to Bill, was in fact suicide.

Back in the UK their son Jack Jarrett went on to marry Molly (maiden name unknown) who apparently was a pioneer in the flower business, being the first to grow carnations under glass and establishing a very early floral mail order service. Jack and Molly had two boys together, one of which being David Allan Robert Jarrett born at Puncharden, Willian, Hertfordshire on 6th December 1936. Edith's daughter Kathleen, or Kay as she is better know, married Alfred Wall. They had two children Judith and Robert.

Following the unexpected end to her first marriage, Edith later tied the knot with Herbert Edward Newsum. Herbert was nearly twenty years her senior and was the fourth child of Henry Newsum the famous timber merchant of Lincoln. In his younger days Herbert made an appearance for Lincoln City FC in an FA Cup match against Hull. Both him and his brother Clement scored in the 5-1 victory. Later, as a Captain, he headed the Lincolnshire Volunteer Company during the Boer war. Later still, in 1913, he followed in his brothers foot steps and became mayor of Lincoln.

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