Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ngaio Marsh



Recently, I have been working on the various DARE family connections to business interests in the Far East. It is all part of building the picture of Sir Thomas JACKSON and his career at HSBC in the mid to late 1800s. Thanks to Peter Jamieson in England and Pamela Dare in Toronto, this quest has also introduced me to the mystery writer, Ngaio Marsh of New Zealand, one of the DARE's far flung relations. It turns out that Ngaio - Dame Ngaio - wrote 32 detective novels and is considered to be one of the four "Queens of Crime", the others being Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham and Agatha Christie . Oh, and I should mention she was also a crack theatre director.

In her autobiography, Black Beech and Honeydew, Ngaio mentions her great uncle Sir William Henry MARSH (1827-1906). He governed Hong Kong as a colonial administrator - twice. His first tenure started in March, 1882, and ended in March 1883, when Sir George Ferguson Bowen succeeded him as the 9th Governor of Hong Kong. His second tenure started in December 1885, and ended in April, 1887, when Major-General William Cameron succeeded him. Marsh Road in Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island was named after him. Ngaio’s delightfully irreverent description of him also includes a reference to Sir Thomas JACKSON:

In Uncle William’s day [actually, William was her great-uncle]  the Governor of Hong Kong – a Pope-Hennessey – was often absent and twice, for long stretches, Uncle William was called upon to administer the government of the Colony. Yellowing photographs portray him in knickerbockers and solar topee, seated rather balefully under a marquee among A.D.C.s in teapot attitudes and ladies with croquet mallets. One of his nieces (“Imported”, my father used to say, “for the purpose.”) was married to Thomas Jackson, the founder of the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank. (“Good Lord! They’ve stuck up a statue to Tom Jackson!”)

The Pope-Hennessey she refers to was Sir John Hope Hennessy, the 8th Governor of Hong Kong, born in 1834 in Co. Cork and Governor of Hong Kong 1877-1882. Hennessey's personal motto was summed up in his Three Grand Qualifications to Success:  The first is audacity, the second is audacity, and the third is audacity. I suspect that Ngaio would have liked that one.

Ngaio’s father, Henry Edmund MARSH, also worked at HSBC. He was first sent to learn Chinese at London University and was then hired at the London office of HSBC. With his skills with Chinese in his educational kit bag, there was no question about where he was expected to go next. From here, aided perhaps by nepotic shoves, he was to mount into the upper reaches of Head Office.  Instead, the poor lad had a bout of consumption, was sent to South Africa and ended up in New Zealand.

As Ngaio described it: Uncle William, now retired visited New Zealand where his brother-in-law had founded the Colonial Bank ... No sooner were my father’s feet planted on the ladder than, owing to political machinations, the Colonial Bank broke. Uncle William returned to England. My father got a clerkship in the Bank of New Zealand, and there remained until he retired. Ngaio's father's uncle would have assumed job-finding responsibilities since Henry's father, a London-based tea broker, had already died when Henry was still in his teens. Unfortunately, since I have no record of sisters for Sir William Henry MARSH, I haven’t a clue who the brother-in-law might have been. Perhaps someone will read this and then I can add it after the fact.

Ngaio’s connection to the story is a farfetched one, coming as it does through her Grandmother Amy ALLEN (1842-1903) who was a sister of Whitworth ALLEN (1835-abt 1899) who in turn was a brother-in-law of Sir Thomas JACKSON (1841-1915). Whitworth’s wife, Whitworth's wife, Anna Maria DARE (1849-1931) was a sister of Amelia Lydia DARE (1851-1944), wife of Sir Thomas. It’s complicated, I know – so here is a family tree:

Descendants of James Edward Allen
  1 James Edward Allen b: 1799 d: 1861 in of Tower St., London
.. +Knowler Ann Allen
........ 2 Whitworth Allen b: Abt. 1835 in 0 d: Abt. 1899 in England
............ +Anna Maria Dare [sister-in-law of Sir Thomas JACKSON] b: 02 Jul 1849 in Singapore d: 14 Jun 1931 in Bexhill
.................. 3 George Edward Allen b: 05 Feb 1871 in Orange Grove d: 1967
...................... +Mary Alice Hartigan b: Abt. 1882 d: 1962 m: 11 Jul 1922 in St. James, Paddington
.................. 3 Winifred Allen b: 1872 d: 1961
...................... +J.C. Nicholson
.................. 3 Alfred Allen
...................... +Bee Lucas
............................. 4 Donald Allen b: 1910 d: 1970
................................. +Midge Archer
............................. 4 Geoffrey Allen b: 1920
................................. +Jean Burgess
.................. 3 Mayard Allen
.................. 3 Marjorie Isobel Allen b: 1886 d: 1964
...................... +Alexander Moir Jamieson b: 1885 d: 1934
.................. 3 Mabel A. Allen b: Abt. 1875 in Penang, Straits Settlements, Malaysia d: 1949
.................. 3 Florence K. Allen b: Abt. 1879 in Penang, Straits Settlements, Malaysia d: 1950
........ 2 James Edward Allen b: 1830 d: 1861
............ +Elizabeth Jessie Hamilton
.................. 3 Frances Mary Allen b: 1851
.................. 3 Thomas William Allen
.................. 3 George Hamilton Allen
........ 2 Bedford Allen b: 1836 d: 1852
........ 2 Margaret Allen b: 1832 d: 1870
............ +R.B. Rowson
........ 2 Knowler Maria Allen b: 1839 d: 1854
........ 2 Amy Allen b: 1842 d: 1903 in Probably London
............ +Edmund Ironside Marsh b: 17 Dec 1830 in Epping d: 17 Sep 1881 in Woodside, Near Epping m: 09 Jul 1862 in St. Barnabus, South Kensington
.................. 3 Henry Edmund Marsh b: 09 May 1863 in Balham, London, Surrey
...................... +Rose Seager b: 27 Jul 1864 in Christchurch, New Zealand m: 24 Apr 1894
............................. 4 Edith Ngaio Marsh b: 23 Apr 1895 in Christchurch, New Zealand d: 18 Feb 1982 in New Zealand
.................. 3 Arthur Herbert Marsh b: 01 Jul 1864 in Balham, London, Surrey
.................. 3 Edward Josiah Marsh b: 06 Oct 1865 in Balham, London, Surrey
.................. 3 Frederick Barlow Marsh b: 04 Mar 1867 in Balham, London, Surrey
.................. 3 Alfred William Marsh b: 21 Jun 1868 in Balham, London, Surrey
.................. 3 James Reginald Marsh b: 30 Oct 1869 in Balham, London, Surrey
.................. 3 Septimus Ferdinand Marsh b: 17 Sep 1871 in Balham, London, Surrey
.................. 3 Edith Amy Marsh b: 29 Nov 1872 in Streatham
...................... +Frederick William Baker m: 10 Oct 1895 in St. Saviours Church, Walthamstow
.................. 3 Lilian Margaret Marsh b: 12 Jun 1874 in Streatham
.................. 3 Alice Gertrude Marsh b: 30 May 1876 in Streatham

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