By late December 1918, Margaret Box had been Nursing in Salonica and Serbia for around three months, and her Father, John Robert Box must have written to Scottish Women’s Hospitals, with the aim of sending her a tie as a Christmas present. On the morning of 20th December they sent him a letter, telling him that they would not obtain the tie, as his daughter would be returning home soon.
On the afternoon of the same day they wrote again, to tell him that she would probably be there for another three months, and that it was very cold there !
Margaret did indeed return to Britain in April 1919, but it must have been a little worrying for her parents to have Margaret in such a distant and cold foreign country over Christmas.
Every time I dig into the treasure trove of family letters I find that both sides of the family seem to have been in the habit of cramming as much into a letter as possible. This letter, send from my Great Aunt Margaret – of Nursing in Salonica and Serbia fame – to my mother in January 1978 is no exception. It starts with some remarks about Christmas presents, but then moves on to cover a lot of ground in Box Family history. I suspect Margaret is answering questions my mother asked in a previous letter, as she jumps straight into the topic of a shawl.
6 Furness Close, Furness Road
East Sussex BN21 4EZ
6 Jan 1978
My Dear Jane
I expect you are home again now after your Christmas with the Lines, I expect as usual it was a full & busy time with all the members crowding in.
Thank you ever so much for the nice Scots calendar. I recognize some of the places – & also the hippeastrum, which is now in the cellar beside the boiler, the warmest place I have to bring it to life as I have not got a radiator with a shelf on it. Do you remember you sent me one in 1970 white and pink feathers, I sitll have in in the kitchen window facing south & in 1977 it excelled itself, two stems 30 ins. high, four flowers on each, it was the biggest & best effort it has made all these years, people going by the house stop to look at it. I repotted it last August, Norah had one of the young off bulbs, but I don’t think it will flower this year, now it will have competition with the red one ! I also loved the dear little Tunnicliffe and the blue tits, I have read his life & he is one of my favourite bird artists.
The Paisley Shawl belonged to & was worn by my Grandmother Box, as an outdoor coat, as was the fashion then. Aunt Edie had it & on her 90th birthday in March 1958 in the nursing home in Eastbourne she had Rose, Mary & me to tea & draped the shawl around her. She died a year later & I inherited it, it was in very good condition & I expect it still is.
A friend of mine had one made into a “housecoat” but I think it a pity to cut it up, a bed spread seems about the best use for it nowadays. I expect it must be quite valuable – being all wool and well over 100 years old.
What went on at Launceston ?? My Grandfather Box was born in 1814! was baptized and married there in St Mary’s Church, went to Clerkenwell in London & set up his clockmaker’s business. My father (& the others I suppose), was born there, so they were Cockneys being born within the sound of Bow Bells, the church in Cheapside.
Sometime ago I saw on the Tele. craftsmen working in quaint old rooms & corners in silver, clock making & repairing & other old crafts still in Clerkenwell – well worth a visit if you can find the area somewhere behind St Bartholemews in the City.
When Evelyn Green died last year she left me a miniature of John Box of Launceston., born in 1788, he was my grandfathers father, my great grandfather, he was a clockmaker well known all over Cornwall specially for grandfather clocks. His father was William Box of Marhamchurch, the iron foundry, there was also one in Launceston, which for a time Uncle Arthur ran, he was Leonards Godfather & Leonard used to go & stay with them in Launceston.
Evelyn was the only child of my youngest Uncle (Charles). She married but has no children. I want you to have the miniature when I pass on.
The Los Angeles Box’s are descended from the Marhamchurch lot. This Christmas they have sent me a snap of Bill, his 2nd wife (Bill’s first wife died when their youngest was 2 years old) & their combined family. They are all grown up now & Tom, the eldest got married last summer, the first & only one of Bill’s family to be married. There were six of them, 4 boys & 2 girls, but the 2nd boy, John Robert, was killed in Vietnam.
I have a business card of myMy Grandfather, WIlliam, W.B.Box, chronometer and watch manufacturer, 21, Upper Charles Street, Northampton Square, London”. I expect it was all bombed in the war & gone now.
My maternal Grandfather was a master baker & confectioner in Gresham Street, also near Cheapside & within the sound of Bow bells, he also had a “Coffee house” in Moorgate Street where of course he also dealt in wine. He catered for banquets in Guildhall & also the Yacht Club on the Thames & was a city alderman.
Now it is bedtime ! so I will say Goodnight & wish you all a happy & adventurous 1978 full of interest & love, bye the way if you plant a clove of garlic beside your rose bush it will banish the green fly !
p.s. My grandfather W.. B. Box when he was young made a small engine or machine in brass probably in Launceston. Later this was kept in our house on a small inlaid table, it had a glass case, it was about the size of a mantlepiece clock. Leonard inherited it (& the table which I think you have) & kept it at the office no. 28.
You must get it from Mr Smith, who will soon be retiring, it is a family heirloom. Your father-in-law would be interested in it. M
The Paisley Shawl does not appear to be in the collection of cloth heirloom items, such as Blackout Curtains from Little Cucknells, and the waistcoat which William Braund Box wore at his wedding to Rosina Williams. It does however remain in the family, and is a thing of beauty, made of Cashmere wool, as well as remarkable size ! (3.42m x 2.66m)
Aunt Edie would be Edith Alice Bryson Box (1868-1959), daughter of William Braund Box and Rosina Williams, and Margaret’s Aunt.
Launceston and Clerkenwell
I think Margarets grandfather, William Braund Box was baptised on 5th June 1815, in Lawhitton, which is a little village 3km from Launceston, with is own church (St Michaels), but I only have a date and place for this. Family records show he was married on 10th February 1845, He had already been living, in the 1841 Census, in Finsbury, I assume as a lodger, with his profession shown as Watchmaker. He must have returned to Cornwall to marry, and by 1851 he is living at 21, Upper Charles Street in Clerkenwell. where my Great Grandfather, John Robert Box was born in 1849.
By a curious coincidence my Great Great Grandfather on my father’s side, Abel Lines (1807-1877) was born in Clerkenwell, although he had moved to Saffron Hill by the time Joseph Lines was born in 1848.
Miniature of John Box
I think the miniature referred to is probably this
Evelyn Alice Box (1894-1977), daughter of Charles Joseph Box, married John Lawrence Green.
I know from several sources that John Box’s father was William Box, but although the inherited family trees show his wife at Sarah Pope, other evidence suggests Thomasin Heard.
Los Angles Box family
My parents went and stayed with them and were in touch. I may revisit this to update how exactly they fit in. I think they saw the announcement of my Grandmothers death, and got in touch then.
William Webster (1823-1889)
The maternal grandfather, and master baker was William Webster, who married Elizabeth Reitze, daughter of Justus Reitze. He will probably get an article of his own.
The small brass engine
This does not sound like the Model Beam Engine now in the museum in Launceston, I do not think I have seen it, so it may have never been retrieved from Mr Smith (who was my Grandfather’s Clerk).