Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Malvina Hughan

Malvina Hughan ( above)has always seemed to me to be an amazing woman of her time. The first born child of Hannah Oakley and Robert Hughan, she was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, on February 2, 1822.
She was very well educated, and as a young woman travelled to different countries on her own. She became a very competent linguist, particularly in the languages of Hebrew and Arabic. Rather than being a missionary worker, who tended to remain in the same area for several years at least, I believe that perhaps Malvina was a member of a society such as the Bible Translation Society. This society was formed in 1840 in Holborn, London, and their aim was “to translate, print and publish versions of the sacred scriptures, especially for the circulation in Baptist Mission fields, and for the support of colporteurs and bible women.” Malvina’s travelling, and her capacity as a linguist, suggests she may have been engaged in the translation of the Bible.
A deeply religious woman, in late 1845 Malvina married John Octavus Lord, a fellow religious traveller, and they continued to travel. Together they journeyed extensively throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean.
We are incredibly fortunate to have two of Malvina’s letters, which have survived from the 1840’s – one written to her mother in 1845 from Beyruit, and a shorter note written to her sister Jessie McCallum. They both portray a gentle, intelligent woman who had a strong empathy with the repressed peoples of the countries she was visiting. Her faith also shines through her words after 150 years….I look at the portrait of her that hangs on our wall and wish I could have known her.

Almost a century after her death, two of Malvina’s nieces, neither of whom knew her, sat down to write what they knew of the Hughan history. One of them was my great grandmother, Olive Bishop, who was the daughter of Malvina’s youngest sister, Bertha. The other was her first cousin, Ivy McCallum, the youngest daughter of Malvina’s sister Jessie. Following is what the pair scribbled down – in grey lead pencil – about their Aunt Malvina:

“ Malvina Hughan – the wife of Reverend John Lord. Died on the way home from Palestine where she had been travelling. Linguist – spoke several languages and at the time of her death was studying Hebrew- she learned in 3 months. The Rabbi of Jerusalem was so pleased he gave her his own copy of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible collectively).
Malvina lectured in London when she was 17 years old. The Earl of Shaftsbury was in/on (?) the chair.
She went out to Palestine to be married to Rev. Lord. Was quarantined because of the plague. He was allowed to talk to her only and when free they were married.
They had two babies who died. Malvina died at Salonica on the way home from Palestine. Baby died at Malta.’

The information that Olive’s son, Gordon Oakley, gave me in the 1980’s was as follows:

‘ Malvina had two children, both of whom died in infancy. Tragedy struck the young couple during their travels when returning to England from an excursion to Palestine. They both contracted typhoid fever in Salonica, and died there.’

Salonica, also known as Thessaloniki, is situated in Greece.

Recent research (March 2005) has at last given me the name of one of the two Lord babies who died in infancy. Son James or John Henry Lord died on April 19, 1847, at Malta. Details given in Maltese records state “Suddenly of croup, the infant son of the Reverend Lord, aged 5 months”.
This puts James’ month of birth as November, 1846. He must have been John and Malvina Lord’s first child, as the couple were married in December of 1845.

“ James Henry LORD, died 19th April 1847, suddenly of croup, the infant son of the Reverend Lord, aged 5 months.”
REF: Malta Family History Online ( )

Two death notices were published in November of 1847 back in England, and both named the child as "John Henry" Lord, the infant and beloved son of John Octavus and Malvina Lord, aged five months. I favour the baby being named 'John Henry' as 'John' is a family name.

I had always interpreted Olive’s and Ivy’s information on the Lords as suggesting that John Lord died with Malvina whilst overseas. Over the past week I have discovered information that has made me change my mind about this…I now in fact know that John Lord returned to England, married a lady named Louise Hore in 1852, took his Holy Orders and lived a long life as Rector of St. Marys, Northiam, Sussex, where he had been born and had long family ties!

John Octavus Lord, Malvina’s husband, was born in 1824 at Northiam Rectory, Sussex, a member of a family with a long tradition in the church. Father, uncles, grandfather, brothers….all were men of the cloth, and John was born in the rectory where his father held the position of rector.

“20/06/1823 Name John Octavus LORD, son. Father's Name Henry LORD Mother's Name Sarah LORD Occupation Minister Abode Northiam Parish Northiam St Mary Notes Henry Lord DD, Rector” - From the Sussex Baptism Index.

After the heartbreaking loss of his wife and two infant children, John returned home to England. The 1851 census finds him at Bedford Square, St. Giles, London, staying at the home of his brother, James Lord, a wealthy barrister-at-law. John’s occupation was given as “Candidate for Holy Orders, Church of England”. This strengthens the evidence that he and Malvina were doing missionary-based work overseas, as during their marriage John was not yet ordained as an Anglican minister.

The ensuing decade was a very busy one for John Lord- he married Louisa Hore of Dulwich, Surrey, in 1852, and had increased his family by four sons and a daughter by the time the 1861 census had rolled around.
The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1852 carried the following entry:

“ At St. Giles, Camberwell, the Rev. J.O. Lord, youngest son of the late H. Lord, DD, rector of Northiam, Sussex, and Barfreystone, Kent, to Louisa, second daughter of James Hore Esq of Lincolns-Inn-Fields and Dulwich.”

He was back at his home in Northiam, having taken the position of Rector of Northiam parish. In a touching gesture, he named his first daughter Malvina. His sons were James H b c. 1854; John D b c. 1857; Hugh b c 1858 and Frederick b c. 1859.

From an 1867 Postal Directory comes the following information:
“The living is a rectory, value about £800 per annum, with residence, in the gift of the executors of the late Rev. W. E. Lord, D.D., and held by the Rev. John Octavus Lord.”

In 1871, John was still at Northiam, and the family had been added to by the birth of another son, Christopher Lord, in c. 1862.
The 1881 census reveals that John is a widower for the second time, and living at the rectory with two servants and a visitor. His wife, Louisa Hore Lord, had died at the Rectory in December ¼ of 1875, aged 49.
Name: John A. LORD Relationship Head Condition W Gender M Age 57 Occupation Rector Of Northiam Birthplace Northiam, Sussex, England Address Rectory, Northiam, Sussex, England 2. Name: Mary MABBS Relationship Housekeeper Condition U Gender F Age 38 Occupation Servt(Dom)(Housekeeper) Birthplace Dulwich, Surrey, England Address Rectory, Northiam, Sussex, England
3. Name: Henrietta SANTER Relationship Visitor Condition W Gender F Age 79 Occupation Visitor Birthplace Newenden, Kent, England Address Rectory, Northiam, Sussex, England 4. Name: Sarah MAY Relationship Serv Condition U Gender F Age 17 Occupation Serv(Dom)(Housemaid) Birthplace Canterbury, Kent, England Address Rectory, Northiam, Sussex.

Our Malvina Hughan’s namesake, Malvina Lord, was also found in the 1881 census, living with her brother in London:
Name: James H. LORD Relationship Head Condition U Gender M Age 27 Occupation Curate Of St Olaves Birthplace Ickeskaw, Sussex, England Address 148 Hanbury St, London, Middlesex, England
Malvina LORD Relationship Sister Condition U Gender F Age 25 Occupation – Birthplace Dartford, Kent, England Address 148 Hanbury St, London, Middlesex, England
In 1891 John Lord was still at the Northiam Rectory, but again was surrounded by family as with him were his daughter in law Alice Lord and her two little boys, 2 year old Wilfred and 8 month old Geoffrey.
The last census available in 1901 gives us our last glimpse of John Octavus Lord. At the age of 77 he is still rector of St. Marys, Northiam, and living with three female servants.
I have tried all avenues to find the details of Malvina Hughan’s death, all to no avail. It was prior to 1851, when her husband John was a widower back in England, but after the birth of son James in 1846. Family tradition has it that Malvina was the mother of two children, and James was her first, so I would guess that she died between 1847-1850.

Malvina’s brother, Fergus McIvor Hughan, published a book of poems in 1856 in his adopted home town of Geelong in Victoria. One of the poems was entitled “Mena”, and upon reading the verse it was obvious that he had written it for his eldest sister Malvina, using what must have been a pet name amongst her family. The poem reads as follows:

Gently, fondly, softly bear her
To the place of rest,
Silent as her soul was wafted
Upwards by the blest;
Let the sods ye place above her
By sweet flowers be prest.

Hers was a spirit
Pure and mild,
Tender in love
As a little child;

By her hand
Was many a tear
Dried from the eyes
Of grief and fear;
In many a home
Where want had been,
“ Contentment smiled,”
And peace was seen;
Many a heart
To her laid bare,
Throbbed with delight
O’er vanquished care.

Her’s was the power
Which day by day
Scattered gifts
In the needy’s way.
Her’s the sweet smile
At whose glad sight
Morning dashed
Thro’ the shield of night,
Goodness linger’d
In her track,
And hope from its slumbers
Started back.

Gently, fondly, softly name her
When the shadows glide
O’er her tomb as calm as moonbeams
Rest upon the tide.
May thy virtues, darling Mena,
Circle far and wide

F.M. Hughan.

‘To Mrs. Robert Hughan,
96 Westbourne Street,
Eaton Square, London, England.

In Quarantine at Beyrout,
11 November, 1845.

My Dear Mother,
Since I left you I have travelled in Europe, Asia and Africa, not much in the latter quarter of our globe. I just realized I have been and seen something of Egypt. I have endured many trials and difficulties and experienced mercies from our Father in Heaven. He has carried me safely after nearly 4000 miles. Surely, that is cause for gratitude.
I arrived in Beyrout on Saturday, and was obliged to go into quarantine immediately. It is another trouble but doubtless it is best if you know that plague often breaks out in these eastern towns, especially Alexandria, a city in Egypt, and in Syria.
Whenever, therefore, a report leaves either place all passengers are obliged to enter a place called Lacyarelle where they have to stay a certain time, and if anyone touched them, or anything belonging to them, they too are quarantined directly.
Two Majors are here with me, who were fellow travellers from Egypt. Hither they are and have been very good and attentive to me.
I was afraid Mr. Lord would not have arrived, as I was not expected here for two or three weeks, but I am thankful to say he was here on Saturday when I arrived. He and Mr. Corebolt, a clergyman with whom he is staying, may come and see me as often as they like, only they must not touch me, not even shake my hands, or they too would be prisoners. We have four Arabs as guards who watch our every movement, and go wherever we go.

Dear John and I have been sitting by the side of the Mediterranean all the morning with my little Syrian maid and two guardsmen. We are not allowed to walk far and only by the sea side. Our stay here is to be thirteen days. It is very trying, but all right none the less. There has been no plague in these parts over many months, but the Pasha of Egypt and the Sultan are great enemies and annoy each other in this way.
This town is very pretty. Lebanon is its northern boundary. It is a splendid range of hills, and when the sun sets behind it the colours are (...part of letter missing). The houses are built on detached (missing) stone floors and bars of iron across windows instead of glass. Now the winter is on they are very cold indeed. Winters here are not like the winters in England... We expect, if the Lord (..missing..)married in about a fortnight (missing) anxious to have it done soon (missing) stay here for
a month or two (missing). John is not looking very well – he (missing) than he was when he left England (missing) trails this year. He desires his love to you.
How are you all? I should like to see you. Is Oscar getting on nicely with his studies? Tell him that great perseverance and trust in God will enable him to do all things. Give my kind love to all.
You will, I hope, get this about 5th or 6th next month, then if you will get a letter ready for me, you must post it by the 2nd of January or the first if you can. We have only post in Syria in a month. As I may still be here when your letters arrive, I think it will be better to write here as it can be forwarded if I leave for Lafet. I will write on a paper how you must address for me. It will be necessary to put “Mrs. Lord”, tho’ we are not yet married but long ‘ere your letter arrives we hope to be.
I would write more but if I do I shall lose the mail leaving at sunset. Sometime soon perhaps I may be able to send you further accounts of our journey. I wish I could stay the posting but I cannot. Goodbye, dear Mother. I have not been able to give John his seal at present, for he must not take anything from me.
Believe me ever your affectionate daughter,
Malvina Hughan.

The Consul’s Lady paid me a visit yesterday and was very kind, and offered to do anything she could for me. I am just hoping to see her again – farewell.”

“I am sorry to hear, my dearest Jessie, that you are so unwell. I hope God will be pleased to make you better soon. Write to me as soon as you can, and tell me how you are.
The poor Jews in Lithuania are enduring such cruel persecution from the Prussian Emperor. He has ordered them all to leave the Kingdom in a few weeks, 21,5000 families are turned out of their homes in the winter, which is very cold there, and no home have they to which they can go. My heart aches for the sufferings of these unhappy people, and earnestly do I pray God to hasten the time, when His Mercy shall be shown to them and they shall one again be His believing Happy people. Are you not very sorry for them dear?
We have one Jewess with us and another is coming on Thursday from Palestine Palace to be our school maid. Goodbye dear Jessie.
Your affectionate sister Malvina.”

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