Thursday, 1 April 2021

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Formby, Lancashire

I'm starting to feel quite sorry for Charles Weld-Blundell, despite his initial appearance as a bullying landowner.

Somewhere it was mentioned that his male line died out when his two sons died young. That seemed odd for wealthy men in the 20th century. Then I remembered that they were born in 1887 and 1889. Meaning that they were in their twenties at the time of WW I. As posh young men, they would have served as junior officers. A position which would have put them in the trenches. And officers were the favourite target of snipers. WW I wrought carnage amongst the British  upper classes.

Except that wasn't what happened. The reality was way more tragic.

Richard Weld-Blundell married Mary Mayne while home on leave in February 1915. He died less than a year later in January 1916. I was puzzled that his grave is in Liverpool. Because they didn't repatriate bodies in WW I. If he'd died in action, he'd be buried in France or some other front. In fact, he died in the UK, killed in an accident at Ramsgate. I haven't yet been able to discover what that accident was.

His brother Louis enlisted in August 1914 but, unlike his brother, who was a lieutenant, he was a simple rifleman. He served more than two years in France and more than a year in Salonika and Palestine. Having survived all four years of the war, he died of Spanish flu in February 1919, while serving in France.

It must have been heartbreaking for his parents that he'd got through all the dangers of the war and was presumably safe. Only to succumb to disease a couple of months into the peace.

Where's the connection with F. Scott Fitzgerald? In 1927, Richard's wife, Mary Blundell remarried. Her new spouse being Alfred Noyes, a well-known writer. His first wife had been American and Noyes had taught modern literature at Princeton. Where one of his students had been F. Scott Fitzgerald. Tenuous, I know, but there is a connection with Formby.

Both Richard and Louis Weld-Blundell had a one daughter. 

Almost forgot. Mary Mayne's grandfather was Sir Frederick Weld, who had been Governor of West Australia. Meaning she was almost certainly related to her husband.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Just reading about Alfred Noyes and discovered a religious angle to the connection between him and the Weld-Blundells. He converted to Catholicism in 1927 after he married Richard's widow Mary. The Weld-Blundells were one of several aristocratic Catholic recusant families in Lancashire who continued to practise their faith secretly in their houses' private chapels after the Reformation (there's a story that as a young man Shakespeare worked as a tutor for another, the Hoghtons, who lived near Chorley, and walked across the sands of the Lancashire coast).