Geoffrey Gowlland & Ruth Harrison (?) correspondence.


Fragment of letter of c 1949 between Geoffrey Gowlland (b. 1903) and Ruth Harrison (?)

The first of the three pages comprising this letter has been lost.  Richard Joscelyne has kindly contributed the following suggestion regarding the probable recipient:-

Your father’s correspondent was definitely not Constance.  If you refer back to your father’s correspondence with his agent in Australia, you will find reference to his representative in Brisbane, a Mr. Harrison who was married to Percy Gowlland’s eldest child Ruth.  Percy, of course, was Jack’s [i.e. John Thomas Ewing Gowlland  -  1838 - 1874] second son and therefore Ruth Harrison was Jack’s granddaughter.  There is reference to another daughter who died during the course of the correspondence and also to their Aunt Maude Chance who was Jack’s only daughter and was at that time still living, although elderly.  I have forgotten the name of the second girl referred to in the correspondence, who died, I think Genevieve.  They were elder sisters of Eleanor Barron, Jo Vink’s mother.  Almost certainly your father was writing to Ruth Harrison.





Sheet marked “Continuation Sheet – (2)”


Colonel [Edward Lake] Gowlland told me that in the 1920s there was a lady who lived in Wimbledon for a little while and who had some of the Gowlland Crested Silver and always regretted that he was never able to possess some of it  -  although at the time I did not really believe the story.


A comprehensive tree I will prepare some time – but it is quite an elaborate document and takes a good many hours of work and Messrs Wynyard Trading [GPG’s company’s Australian representatives] will probably be able to tell you that I have homework from the factory almost every night and non-business matters have to be left rather a long while at present.


My cousin [Gladys] in Montreal, who is a most energetic type, wrote to the Authorities about the Gowlland’s name in Western Canada, and a copy of their most interesting reply is enclosed  [still to be traced].   Since this is your grandfather, I felt sure you would like to have this copy.


Would it be possible for you to give rough particulars of the various Gowllands alive in Australia now, so that I can complete the Tree entries before I send it on to you?


Another fairly close relation was a Mr Richard Gowlland of North London [whom] I interviewed on fairly numerous occasions and he was full of gossip regarding the Australian Branch; but unfortunately he died rather unexpectedly towards the end of the War, and his son, whom I have contacted on two occasions, does not really know much about it, so that a very great deal of gossip has been lost.


The Colonel was very full of a famous Gowlland port decanter, which apparently figures in some lurid naval exploit, clearly in your branch of the family, and I wonder whether you know anything about this.


In my own branch, it has been customary to drink a toast of port, if one can ever get it before rationing) on the 1st June, to commemorate the naval battle of Admiral Howe  -  the Glorious First of June.



Geoff, Rosemary and Mark toasting The Glorious First of June in 1950


It is most exasperating that this little bit of tradition has been held on but I have not be any means been able to discover its origin.


In view of the close naval association of your section, I am very much hoping that you will be able to tell me more about this..


Mr Richard Gowlland said he had a small oil-painted panel of a frigate (?) [GPG’s knowledge of naval vessels was not his strongest point] which had been commanded by a Gowlland, and it seems this may very well have been your grandfather [John Thomas Ewing Gowlland  -  for his biography, click here].


If so, it would be worth trying to get Richard Gowlland’s son to locate this painting and to have copies of it made for you.


Family heirlooms are absolutely non-existent in my bit of the family, my family and uncles having a healthy British contempt for all this kind of thing.


I have however got one or two Birth Certificates and so on  –  of about 150 years ago, when our family came to London from Canterbury.


You will probably hear gossip that we were descended from Huguenot refugees  -  as this is widespread in all the different Gowlland I have met  -  but it is, unfortunately, entirely wrong, because the same family can be traced back in the same part of the country to before the Huguenot Exodus from France and Flanders.


Similarly, we have no connection whatsoever with the Gowllands from Durham, who are entitled to bear the various crests, but which [sic] we are not.


This point is absolutely definite, as one of the Gowllands who died recently, a Stephen Gowlland, was well connected with the College of Heralds, and had made a careful study of Grants of Arms.


I very much hope you will be able to provide me with a little more information in due course, and I, for my part, will proceed with the preparation of a quite elaborate Tree, setting out the whole family between about 1750 and today.


Sincerely yours  . . . .


 In 1952 Geoff sent a follow-up letter - see below.  As the section of the Family Tree the sent was in his inimitable handwriting, it is unclear how much of it she would have been able to decipher!

















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