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1233133 Ernest 1872-1955

Ernest Charls Clay, was born on 2 December 1872 in Stapenhill, the third son of Charles John Clay and Aggie née Arden, and he was educated at Marlborough before going up to New College, Oxford.  He was called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn in 1899, and practised at the Chancery Bar. In 1901 he was living at 84 Eaton Terrace, London.

When he was 30, he was married, on 29 May 1902, in St Jude's, South Kensington to Dorothy (Mary) Press, then aged 27, whose elder sister Margaret had married his first cousin Charles Leigh Clay five years before.  He was the first of the four brothers to marry. He and Dorothy had a daughter :-

Rosemary Arden - known as Rosie or Ro, was born on 12 August 1908 in Banstead, Surrey.  Her parents kept her "on a very strict rein", and she was hardly allowed to met any young men.  Ro was married aged 40 on 3 September 1948 in London as his second wife to (Alexander) Douglas (Mitchell) Carruthers, explorer and naturalist, with whom she had been living for some years.  His first wife lived in the same village in Norfolk, but refused a divorce. They had no children.  Douglas died on 23 May 1962 in London.  Ro then moved to Fisher's, at Burnham Overy Staithe on the North Norfolk coast, a house designed in a Dutch style by her cousin Bridget Scott, daughter of Charles Leigh Clay.  In 1989 Ro left her beloved Norfolk, and moved to Headbourne Worthy House, near Winchester, whither another cousin, Evie (daughter of Arthur Joseph Clay) had also moved, but she found it claustrophobic after Norfolk, so she returned there in 1993, first to a house on the cliff in Hunstanton, and then to a house in Fakenham.

In 1911, he, Dorothy and Ro were living in The Well House, Stanemore Court Road, Banstead, Surrey.

After the death of his eldest brother Arthur on active service in 1915, Arthur's widow Bridget and her three children, then aged 3, 5 and 9, moved in with Ernest, Dorothy and Ro, then aged 7.

In 1915, Ernest, a barrister aged 43, entered the War Office as Lieutenant Colonel, and he stayed there until he retired at 51 in 1923, staying on the Army's retired list until 1933.  He was mentioned in despatches, awarded an OBE in 1918 and made CBE in 1919.

He was Secretary of Henry Gardner's Trust for the Blind from 5 Feb 1924 to 
31 Jan 1939
.  They lived at Berry Hall, Great Walsingham, Norfolk, where he died on 1 May 1955 at the age of 82.

 

 

Dorothy (Mary) Press

Dorothy was born on 8 February 1875 in Clifton, Bristol, younger daughter of John Latham Press (1833 - 1901) and Sarah Amelia nee Taylor (1838 - 1922), of Reymerston Hall, Norfolk and The Avenue, Clifton.   In 1881 they were in 18 College Road, Clifton, but by 1901 they had moved to 14 The Avenue, Clifton.

In 1897, five yars before she wed, her elder sister Margaret had married Charles Leigh Clay, a first cousin of her future husband.

For more than half her life, Dorothy suffered from mental illness.  It was said that this was prompted by an occasion during the First World War, when she presented a white feather to a woman in the vicinity of Buckingham Palace.  This woman's son had been killed in the trenches, and she had just left Buckingham Palace after having been presented with his medal. She turned on Dorothy, and cursed her high and low.  This affected Dorothy's mind, and she was in and out of institutions ever thereafter.

Dorothy died on 6 February 1957 in Northampton at the age of 82.  She was buried at Walsingham, Norfolk.

 

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