Harriet’s Eulogy

A Grandmother’s Journey

#52Ancestors52Weeks – Solitude

This week’s theme of solitude reminded me of my grandmother’s life – a widow at the age of 41. A strong woman whose strength was tested by the loss of children, her widowhood, and her struggles to support her young family as the head of the household from 1915 to 1955 when she died.

My prompt for Chat GPT this week began like this:
‘Please write an outline for the story of my grandmother, Harriet Priscilla Wright, noting the many tragic deaths of her children’. I added a copy of the timeline for her life from the family tree in FindMyPast.


Title: The Life and Losses of Harriet Priscilla Wright: A Grandmother’s Journey

I. Introduction 

  • A. Brief overview of Harriet Priscilla Wright’s life 
  • B. Importance of family in Harriet’s life

II. Early Years A. Birth of Harriet Priscilla Wright 

  • A. Biological parents: Alfred Thomas Wright and Eliza Goats
  • B. Childhood and upbringing

III. Marriage to Walter Frederick Allery

  • A. Meeting and courtship 
  • B. Wedding 
  • C. Life together

IV. Children of Harriet and Walter 

A. Lilian Georgina Allery (1896-1915) 

  • 1. Birth and childhood 
  • 2. Tragic death at age 19 

B. Walter Frederick Alfred Joshua Allery (1898-1900) 

  • 1. Birth and infancy 
  • 2. Tragic death at age 2 

C. Cecil Henry Allery (1900-1985) 

  • 1. Birth and childhood 
  • 2. Life as an adult 

D. Edward Lionel Allery (1901-1930) 

  • 1. Birth and childhood 
  • 2. Tragic death at age 29 

E. Ivy Dorothy Allery (1904-1904) 

  • 1. Birth and infancy 
  • 2. Tragic death in the same year of her birth 

F. William Francis Allery (1905-2004) 

  • 1. Birth and childhood 
  • 2. Life as an adult 

G. Imee P. Allery (1907-1992) 

  • 1. Birth and childhood 
  • 2. Life as an adult 

H. Samuel John R. Allery (1909-1989) 

  • 1. Birth and childhood 
  • 2. Life as an adult

V. Coping with Loss 

  • A. Harriet’s emotional journey 
  • B. Support from family and community 
  • C. Lessons learned from loss and resilience

VI. Later Years 

  • A. Death of a spouse, Walter Frederick Allery (1915) 
  • B. Harriet’s life as a widow 
  • C. Death of a son, Edward Lionel Allery (1930), 
  • D. Relationships with surviving children and grandchildren

VII. Legacy of Harriet Priscilla Wright 

  • A. Impact on her family 
  • B. Strength and resilience as an inspiration to future generations

VIII. Conclusion 

  • A. Recap of Harriet’s life as a Eulogy 
  • B. The significance of her story in understanding family history and the human spirit

Harriet’s Eulogy

Prompt: from all that we know of Harriet Priscilla Allery (nee Wright) please write a suitable Eulogy upon her death as it might be written by her sons William Francis Allery and Samuel John Reginald, and delivered by them and their sister Imee Priscilla. Her other remaining son Cecil Henry was by then living in Australia and unable to attend the funeral.

To this response from Chat GPT, I have added glimpses of life for Harriet’s family as told by her son William Francis in his own potted history of the Allery family, written as part of his memoirs.


Ladies and gentlemen, we gather here today to pay our final respects and celebrate the life of our beloved mother, Harriet Priscilla Allery (née Wright). She was a remarkable woman, and we are truly grateful for the time we shared with her.

Born in 1872 in Stratford, Essex, Harriet was a woman of immense strength, resilience, and love. Throughout her life, she faced many challenges, including the untimely death of her husband, Walter Frederick Allery, and the tragic loss of several children. Despite the many hardships she encountered, Harriet remained steadfast and devoted to her family.

As a talented tailoress, Harriet provided for her family, working alongside her husband and later, as a widow, using her skills to support her children. She was the backbone of our family, always ensuring that we were cared for and loved. Her first child, Walter Frederick Joshua, died on the 25th of March 1900, only 18 months old and one can imagine the shock to my mother as she was then expecting another child very soon. Cecil Henry was born on the 25th of April 1900. Cecil Henry, now living in Australia, was born at the same address that we lived in Surbiton.

Her next son was Edward Lionel born on the 30th of December 1901 at Eudora 51 Chatham Road. The subsequent history of births and deaths in the family indicates that we stayed in that area though we moved around quite often. Edward Lionel was killed in the Double Twelve cross-racing tragedy at Brooklands on 9th May 1930.

Imee, Reg and I came along later and I can still see us as children gathered on the front lawn at Eudora.

During a heavy fall of snow, one winter Mother organized a snowball attack on Dad as he came around the side entrance of the house. A shopping basket was lowered down from a window and when it was full of snowballs it was hoisted back upstairs to await his arrival. Great excitement prevailed and as soon as he appeared, we were dropping snowballs on him but my recollection is that he wasn’t too pleased. Can you wonder why?

Harriet’s devotion to her family was unwavering. After the death of our father Walter in 1915, she took on the role of both mother and father, guiding us through life’s challenges with wisdom, patience, and affection. Her love knew no bounds, and her sacrifices for us were immeasurable.

From then on life became a struggle for Mother. She tried to run the shop with the aid of the staff, but she had eventually to sell out as the man in charge was stealing lengths of cloth and losing trade, and being very inefficient. She had one very loyal employee Millie Moore. She helped Mother a lot over those very difficult times and became a friend for years after. Millie was a small frail spinster but an excellent worker and an expert with the needle. The hallmark of a master tailor was hand sewing in those days.

With the loss of the shop, Mother tried doing work at home with Millie’s help but even this dwindled away as more and more Tailors lost work due to the war and later to the mass-produced suits coming on the market. One of the first was the Fifty Shilling Tailors, now John Collier. We now had moved to the smaller house #53 and to exist, Mother had to sell the houses that Dad had bought around Kingston and one after another had to go to help pay the mortgage on the others.

Though we must have been a burden we were often taken out to Oxshot Woods and other places around but most of all we enjoyed our trips to Richmond Park and looking back the long hot summers seemed to have gone on for weeks during our holidays.

I remember when Mother would go to the family’s tailoring shop to help, and we were left in the care of our maid Emily. The fun and games under her encouragement must have made us a very noisy house even though it was a detached property. How she managed to get the housework and the shopping done I shall never know, unless it was that we did most of the dusting and polishing with the promise of fun and games afterward. The house had a long flight of stairs, and she would put us one at a time in a large flat-bottomed Wicker basket and send a sliding down finishing with a bump and a slide at the bottom amid rows of laughter.

Our sister Imee, who stands with us today, shares our profound love and admiration for our mother. Imme inherited our mother’s skills in tailoring and has secured her reputation as a fine haute couture seamstress. Together, we remember her as a woman of incredible strength, a pillar of support, and a beacon of love and warmth that brightened our lives.

We were never allowed to play in the front room as this had a full-sized billiard table but I can remember that someone had left the door open and it was either Imee or me who went in there with a box of matches and set fire to the string type pockets of the billiard table. Fortunately, the maid heard the shouting and quickly put the fire out but I am afraid she had to take the blame for the damage.

One of the pleasures of our trips to Peckham to see Grandfather Samuel was the pocket money given to us by the uncles or my grandmother Jemima. We would save some of this to spend at the Penny Bazaar in Peckham Rye, the forerunner of the Marks and Spencer empire, buying something to take proudly home to Mother. Nearly always a jam dish or a sugar basin or some other article which we carefully carried home in the tram.

Cecil, Ted, and I had a passion for motorbikes. It was during our bike ride to Bookham we noticed a new bungalow for sale along Hook Road in Surbiton and we encourage Mother to sell 53 Chatham Road and move into the country with our own 1 1/2 acres of land. Cecil was now in business running a cycle shop and operating a hire car service.

Although our brother Cecil Henry could not be here today, his heart is with us, and he joins us in honoring our mother’s memory. His departure from England in 1948 was difficult for Mother to bear. When Cecil’s whole family of six children emigrated in 1949, Mother was devastated. All she had then were the letters exchanged over the next 5 years.

Harriet’s legacy will live on through her surviving children, grandchildren, and all those whose lives she touched.

As we bid farewell to our dear mother, let us remember her not just for the challenges she faced but for the love and light she brought to our lives. Harriet Priscilla Allery was a shining example of resilience, courage, and unwavering love, and she will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

Rest in peace, dear mother, with your beloved son Edward Lionel, united in death. Your memory will live on, and we will cherish the moments we shared with you for the rest of our lives.

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