June 15, 2010

George Hughes

"But never fear. You tell the truth, keep a brave and kind heart, and never listen to or say anything you wouldn't have your mother and sister hear, and you'll never feel ashamed to come home or we to see you."

Thomas Hughes, son of John Hughes (an essayist and storyteller) and Margaret Elizabeth Wilkinson, was born in Uffington, Berkshire, in the Vale of the White Horse, on 22 Oct 1822. He had six brothers and one sister.

Thomas studied law and was called to the Bar in 1847. That same year, he married Frances “Fanny” Ford, daughter of Rev. Dr. James Ford and WHO. She was born abt. 1831 in Exeter, England and died 1910 in WHERE. They eventually settled at Wimbledon, where Thomas wrote his famous story Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1857), a semi-autobiographical work that brought him fame and a small fortune, much of which he later invested in the Rugby Colony. The story is set at Rugby School, a public school for boys, in the 1830s. Hughes had attended Rugby School from 1834-1843. The novel was originally published as being “by an Old Boy of Rugby” and is largely based on his brother, George Hughes.

Many other books followed, including Tom Brown at Oxford (1861); religious works such as A Layman’s Faith; a local color novel, The Scouring of the White Horse; several biographies of famous Victorian men; Rugby, Tennessee: Being Some Account of the Settlement Founded on the Cumberland Plateau (1881); Memoir of a Brother (also about George); and Early Memories for the Children (1899).

His sister, Jane Elizabeth Hughes Senior (shown here in a 1859 painting by George Frederic Watts), later became Britain’s first female civil servant and was co-founder of the Metropolital Assoc. for Befriending Young Servants. Her relief work with soldiers returning from the Franco-Prussian War led to the foundation of the National Society for Aid to Sick and Wounded in War in 1870, forerunner of the British Red Cross.

Due to his strong anti-slavery beliefs, Thomas Hughes was one of the few influential Englishmen to publically support the Union cause during the Civil War. He made his first visit to the U.S. in 1871 on a speaking tour which sought to “heal the breach” between England and America in the aftermath of the war. But the fullest flowering of Hughes’ idealistic principles was in the establishment of his Rugby, Tennessee colony.

Thomas Hughes died of heart failure in Brighton, England on 22 Mar 1896. 'All through his life he strove passionately and ardently for those things in which he believed, deterred neither by the prejudices of the class to which he belonged nor by the strength of the forces arrayed against him. And in the end persistence sometimes won what love and good-fellowship alone could not have accomplished. Were Tom alive today he would still know which way to head, and would be trudging straight down the road that leads there, perhaps drawing with him some of the faint of heart. It would be good to have him with us.' --Mack, Edward. C. & Armytage, W. H. G., 'Thomas Hughes', Ernest Benn Ltd, London, 1952.

Children of Thomas and Frances Hughes:

Maurice Hughes was born 1850 and died 1859.

Evie Hughes was born 1851 and died 1856. 

James “Pardner” Hughes was born 1853 and died 1914. James emigrated to the U.S. in the 1870s.

Caroline “Carrie” Hughes was born 1854 and died 1906.

John “Jack” Hughes was born 1856 and died 1897.

Mary “May” Hughes was born 29 Feb 1860 in Mayfair, England and died 2 Apr 1941 in Whitechapel, England. She became a poor law guardian and district counselor and this is where her social conscience was awakened.

She moved to Whitechapel, joining her sister Lilian and brother-in-law, Henry Carter, the vicar of St. Jude’s Commercial Road. There she became a parish volunteer, work that took her into slums, workhouses, doss houses and infirmaries (including those for people with venereal diseases). In 1917 Mary was made a Justice of the Peace for Shoreditch, specializing in rates and education cases. She was known to commonly cry at the evidence and pay fines for the poor.

In 1928 she took over a former public house, renaming it the Dew Drop Inn which was to act as a social center and refuse for the local homeless. Here she took in the destitute and lived amongst its transient inhabitants and frequently became lice-ridden. On account of this, it was once said of her that 'Her lice were her glory!' Gandhi asked to meet her when he visited Britain in 1931 and George Lansbury, himself a much-loved figure in the East End, said: 'Our frail humanity only produces a Mary Hughes once in a century.'

Arthur Hughes was born 1863.

George “Plump” Hughes was born 1865.

Lilian “Lily” Hughes was born 3 Mar 1867 in St. George’s Hanover Square, London, England. She married Earnest Courtenay Carter, son of George Compton and WHO, 1889 in WHERE. He was born 17 Feb 1858 in Compson, England.

Lilian, with her husband and their two dogs, perished in the sinking of the RMS Titanic on 14 Apr 1912; 2nd Class Passenger. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified:

Their Obituary: Mrs. Ernest Courtenay Carter (Lilian Hughes), 44, daughter of the Tom Hughes (writer of "Tom Brown at Oxford") was married to Rev. Ernest Carter in 1890. They boarded the Titanic at Southampton. During the voyage Mrs. Carter befriended Marion Wright, and Kate Buss who would later name her daughter after Mrs Carter. According to newspaper reports of the period, Carter and his wife were given the opportunity to get into one of the lifeboats, but they refused saying, "Let the others go first" and Mrs. Carter resolutely refused to go with the women. "...they were a devoted couple and childless, and they died together."

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