Ada Emily Weeks 3
- Born: 1866, Gravesend, Kent (reg) 2 4
- Marriage: Herbert Walter Hayball on 10 Sep 1890 in St Johns, Brighton? 1 2
- Died: 1949, E St Kilda 5
MY MOTHER - by Doris Hayball
"Ada Emily Weeks, my mother, came out to Australia with her parents, Thomas Byers and Jane (Smith) Weeks in 1875or 1876, at the age of ten, on a ship called the "Northumberland". They went first to Tasmania and came later to Melbourne.
Her father, Thomas Weeks, was Civil Engineer - a brilliant but somewhat erratic man, who was lost without his wife whom he called "his guiding star".
They were married at 18 (she) and 20 (he) years respectively, and my grandmother knew so little that when her mother told her she was "enceinte", she refused to believe it. Convinced at last, she wondered fearfully if the family carving knife would be sharp enough to cut her open! She, however, always believed in ignorance for women and later on told her daughter, in answer to questions, "not to seek to know too much" as "she would get a look on her face" and that "innocence was its own protection". The secrecy was unfortunate for my mother who, when I was "on the way" knew so little about birth that she over-reached herself putting up new drawing-room hangings to celebrate my arrival, went too long a walk on the advice of a neighbouring mother of several children and thereupon suffered false labour pains for two days and nights before I was born, black in the face with the umbilical cord wound firmly several around my neck and me on the point of strangulation. It took some time to get the air into my lungs and me to breathe. This was a very bad and frightening experience for my mother who was very highly-strung, over-modest and full of English shyness and reserve and for one whose health it did not help.
Of the ten children born to her parents, six died in India where grandfather spent twenty years and grandmother eighteen.
The first baby, Jane (Jennie) named after her mother, was adored by her father, but the young parents thought nothing of taking her to the dances where he played the accordion and she danced every dance, returning to the cloakroom between dances where her baby lay wrapped in coats - quite safe! (talk about modern couples!)
The second child, Thomas (named for his father) held his mother's heart as nobody else ever did. Even his stern grandmother (his mother's mother) melted over him. He died, with his regiment, up country in India, of cholera, in early manhood.
Grandfather went out to India, commissioned by the British Government, to build railways. He built the first line (Bombay) tunnels, bridges, etc. Through mountains, over ravines and rrivers, through dense jungle, in the intense heat, tormented by insects, largely with native labour. I do not know whether he had other white help.
When the first engine puffed its way along the line, the natives prostrated themselves , forehead on the ground, and worshipped the "debbil - debbil" as a new god.
He was a big man, over 6' tall and with a hot temper as had all his family - the "temper of a Weeks" was proverbial in Gravesend, England, where they lived - the story went that his father, at the age of sixty, had taken who admired him by the scruff of his neck and "thrown him downstairs". I think they were immensely proud of their temper, I'm sure my mother was, who retailed these stories to me as her mother had done to her in her childhood and at that time I imagined the man flung over the banisters from several stories high to the ground, and was very worried whether he was hurt (being always more concerned with pain to the victim) than admiring of high-handedness - though there is no doubt that that kind of high spirit and determination was a necessity to succeed in an adventurous epoch when the English conquered and dominated an alien and unwilling world. They had no doubt of their right to overlordship of all foreigners, black, brown or white and particularly of course, the colored races.
A hundred years ago the English ruled the world, even when harshly, much more justly than their neighbours!
My grandfather's family was a brilliant one, but subject to T.B. - two of his sisters who were singers and very beautiful women, died in their twenties. They were singers and, according to my grandmother, "faded away like flowers" - she spoke in a kind of poetry, perhaps it was customary in those days! And so did her mother (a very well read woman) said to " know everything" by her friends - "ask Mrs Smith" was the general cry!
She did not, however, believe in education for women (apart from herself, she was, of course, different!) considering that it spoiled them for their domestic duties, and motherhood.
Another of great-grandmother's expressions was about Aunt Jennie, who grew into a very dainty little girl. She said, "Jennie has nut brown hair and hazel eyes and was fit for the Prince of Wales". Grandfather's family was musical and artistic. I fancy his brother, who emigrated to Canada, was also an engineer. He was a rich man but put all his money into an annuity for himself which, of course, died with him. He, after my grandfather's death, wished to marry my grandmother, who was shocked at the idea. I do not think marrying deceased brother's wives was legal at the time - I do not know if he had any children, but he had a sister and a nephew and niece in poor circumstances and they felt he should have considered them. This sister was a widow and there were very few ways for a woman to earn a livelihood in those days. His full name (grandfather's) was Thomas Byers Weeks, and Sir Charles B. Fry, the famous cricketer and classical scholar who was offered a kingdom (Albania) and 10,000 pounds a year, was his second cousin, so that either his mother or father must have been a first cousin and one of their parents brother or sister. That is, one of their grandparents must have been brother or sister. I have wondered if the connecting link was the " Byers", and if Charles's second initial "B" stood for Byers. My mother said that her mother thought a great deal (highly) of the Byers.
Charles and his first cousin Thomas, who married my Aunt Jennie (her third cousin) has classical educations which would seem not to have been designed to help anyone earn a living but quite unsuited to business, and the fourteen children he and my Aunt reared, effectively prevented his amassing any money. They ran away and married very young - in their early teens - and broke my grandfather's heart. He and grandmother had planned to send for their pretty daughter as soon as they stopped moving around in India and had some settled home, where she would have met and married a "nabob" and the family fortune would have been very different.
My mother's parents valued very highly the friendship of General Gordon (Chinese Gordon), the hero of his day. When they were in England, between the two periods spent in India, for a few years (during which time my mother and her elder brother, Ralph, were born) General Gordon was frequent visitor to their home. He came once a week for tea and my mother's mother was very proud of the fact that on one occasion he stopped and picked up my mother, as a baby, who was crawlingat the time, and said, "This is a fine little boy"!
In their stern ways they were all very religious people and the Bible was an integral part of their lives. My mother's grandmother (with whom she lived when her own mother went back to India to join her husband, who was useless without her, "his guiding star") made my mother learn a chapter from the Bible every night before she went to bed.
Great grandmother was a very strict woman and the two little children left in her care had a very lonely and unloved life - my mother was afraid most of the time and expended all her young affections on her elder brother who was a good deal of a scamp. When mother's mother left them to go back to India, she took the two babies (my mother was two) down near the docks and pointed out the ship she was sailing on - she was crying and my mother took her little apron an wiped her mother's eyes saying , "Don't cry, Mumma - don't cry". Next day, finding the mother gone, the two children slipped out and went down to the ships to look for her. Tired and frightened, after a fruitless search, they were delighted to see their grandmother when she came looking for them. They were dark, drear days in England and poverty and crime were rife.
It was a hard thing for a woman of nearly 80 to have to look after two small children and the boy very soon became unmanageable. If she scolded him he would slide down the banisters away from her and she could not catch him, but the small girl was cowed and obedient. School was not compulsory and during the inclement winters the old lady kept her inside, upstairs, dressed in the fashion of a bygone day with low necks and short sleeves - when she got outside for a few minutes she would jump for joy and her brother would snowball her and the snow would run down her low-necked dress wetting her through, consequently she always had a cough or cold. Terrible things happened in the early darkness, and children were often kidnapped - the grandmother had tales to tell of having been snatched up by a man when she was child and of biting his hand so viciously he let her go.
It is hard for us to realize how people lived in England less than100 years ago, flickering kerosene lamps, sludgy snow, water that froze in the winter and pipes which burst. Tinder boxes, open fireplaces, meat being hung from a spit, rowdy public houses, unmade roads, poor wages, little education and less for women.
Nonetheless, they were great days for England and my mother's father and mother were Empire builders, hot of temper, high- spirited, adventurous and ambitious, quite certain they has a right to rule around the world. They needed their courage - on one occasion when my grandfather was "upcountry" in India on his railway building, and my grandmother was left alone with her native servants, any of whom would have robbed her if they dared. She subdued them by her moral force. There were no banks, she hid her money in her mattress, and would not pay her servants till her husband returned. It was very infra dig for the memsahib to do any kind of work and if she wished to do any sewing she had to lock herself in her room so that her servants did not see her.
They hung the meat in wet canvas under the eaves and the jackals came howling in the night to steal the food. The natives could not be relied upon. One man, in revenge for grandfather having punished him, took the baby son whom he was employed to mind, under the "malaria trees" through the "malaria swamp", although he adored the child, but when the child died of malaria, heartbroken and conscience stricken on his knees weeping, he confessed to what he had done, but the dreadful deed could not be undone.
On one occasion when grandfather was away an itinerant seller came to the house and thought it safe to insult the white lady by offering her pictures of the Black Hole of Calcutta. Little grandmother took the lot from him, tore them in ribbons in his face then horsewhipped him down the drive. She feared nothing and nobody in this world except fire.
They lost six children there, watered India with their blood! Some were born in England, some there.
When word came of the eldest son's illness, although she was enceinte with her youngest, she started to go to him and her husband protested "Jenny, Jenny, you can't go in your condition" and she said "if the devil stood at that door, I'd go". .He was dead before she got to him. Travel was very difficult and rough and when the new baby was born, her youngest son, Alfred Leslie, he was not as handsome, strong and clever as her other children and she blamed herself and always favoured him. It was to save his life that they came to Australia and gave up all the benefits grandfather's position entitled them to. They went first to Tasmania where grandfather was Manager of a timber mill, but this did not last long as he ("who had never taken his coat off" to a job) had the keep the men and grandmother used to native servants, had to cook for the employees.
Grandfather, after a day's work, hot and tired, would jump into a cold bath with his clothes on, and in India, the servants would come and undress him and bring him a fresh white suit. Not used to our cold changes or to looking after himself he contracted a series of colds which turned to consumption and they came to Melbourne for treatment. However, the only treatment in those days was a bottle of brandy a day and eggs beaten in milk. He was two years dying and looking after him, his mother (who had come out with them at the age of 86 and who died at 90 after a long illness) and their three children was very hard on the poor lady who had never done a day's work until she came to Australia in middle age. However, she saw them all married and lived to the age of 75. He husband died at 48. My mother, who was a famous beauty - the belle of Geelong with her classical features and English colouring (blue eyes and golden brown hair) she took home for a trip and to show her relations in England before she met and was married to my father, the 14th child of the pioneer Hayballs."
This short biography was written by Doris Hayball in about 1964 - copy held by Brighton Historical Society in their "Hayball" file accessed Aug 2006
She resided in 1871 in Clarance Row, Gravesend, Kent. 6 (with widowed grandmother Elizabeth Smith, 76 and brother Ralph)
She resided in 1890 in W. Melbourne.
Ada married Herbert Walter Hayball, son of Robert Hayball and Eliza Thompson, on 10 Sep 1890 in St Johns, Brighton?.1 2 (Herbert Walter Hayball was born on 12 Aug 1864 in New St, Brighton, Melbourne, Australia 7 8 9 10 and died in 1945 in East St Kilda, Melbourne 11.)
Witnesses: Alfred H Hayball Alfred (Shaw?)