Mary Offer Discovers – but too late!

My mother, as I have related in a previous article (see Longshot Vol. 8 No. 1), joined the ranks of the Lindfields at the age of 40. She came from an old Cornish family: her father was one of 14, born in a wee cottage – called a “farmhouse” – on the banks of the river Lyner. Only seven of the family grew up, and only two of them were boys! My grandfather was the elder of the two; the other – Richard Maynard – seeing no future, emigrated to Australia to work in the gold mines. Settling in Queensland, he married and began to rear 3 children.

Then a sad accident happened – he was killed while blasting the rock face. This was in 1864. Our family kept in touch for a number of years. One boy – Richard Absolom Maynard – became a missionary and was sent out to Kenya where he did well. During his working life among the natives, he spent considerable time with one tribe whose language had never been written down. Over the years he managed to transmit this into written words and eventually, after years of hard work, he was able to translate several of the books of the Bible into the language of the tribe! Then with the help of his wife they were able to teach young children to read and understand, in their own language. The Church had ordained him as a priest and he also became an Archdeacon – in Mombassa.

But long before this, the family in England and Australia lost all touch with them. My mother often wondered if there were any left of the lost branch. Later, after I was born and grew up as the only surviving child of my father’s family, I loved to hear my mother speak of this lost branch.

My father died when I was 17, and my mother and I lived together until I married. Being a Baptist minister, my husband was posted to a church in Eastbourne which had been bombed during the war. He was able to help with the restoration of the church and its congregation, remaining there for twenty years from 1947 till his retirement in 1968. My mother lived with us for the remaining years of her life. I got to know many people in Eastbourne as they returned to the town and among them was a large family of Maynards, mostly connected with a large furnishing company in the town. But they were not related to the Cornish branch as far as I knew.

Long after my mother had died, and my husband too – in fact, it was about 1998 – I received a ‘phone call from a complete stranger who claimed to be a relation! I answered her very cautiously, you may be sure! But to each of my questions she was able to give me the correct information. We wrote and exchanged family photos and so it was eventually proved that we both belonged to the same family. As a young teenager, she had left Australia and came to England where she married and now had two teenage children of her own. She was descended from the Richard Maynard who was killed in the mining accident; her grandfather was one of Richard’s sons, a brother of Richard Absalom the missionary. She was able to produce so much evidence of what had happened since. Marlo went on searching for months and was particularly interested in what happened to Richard Absalom. Through the Missionary Society she was told that when he retired from a long working life at the Mission, he and his wife had gone to England and not -as we would have expected – back to Australia!

Knowing this, we anticipated we might be able to find them in the records of Cornwall or Derbyshire, where his wife hailed from. But no! They had gone to Eastbourne! The Archdeacon had found a spiritual home in the Church of Holy Trinity in Eastbourne where he proffered his services as a helper for the ageing incumbent! This was in 1933. And here in the town he moved among the people for some 15 years.

We tried to discover his home. A local directory for 1939 listed the Rev. Richard A. Maynard in Willingdon Road, the road parallel to the one in which we were living at the same time! Oh the agony! Why didn’t I know? More searching through old newspapers revealed an obituary in 1953 and burial in the cemetery at the end of our road. It revealed the love and esteem with which he had been held.

Marlo also found more about his family. The elder son qualified as a medical practitioner and spent his life in Southampton, where we discovered a road named in his memory – Maynard Road. The second son was sadly killed whilst serving with the Royal Air Force during the war. The church at Holy trinity displays a small window in his memory. There were also two girls who continued to live at the house in Willingdon Road after the deaths of their parents. One has since died and we found the other still living – aged 92 – but living in a nursing home and sadly too senile to meet strangers researching their family history.

Oh why did I not find this out before?!! But at least I have found Marlo and her husband and family, but I do so want to tell my mother all about it! How thrilled she would have been.

So there it is . . . we found the missing branch in the end. And how glad I was! It was a most wonderful end to nearly a century of silence.

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