The Circle of Life

Wednesday 2 June 2010: 3 years 9 months on …


My Great Grandfather

Two weeks ago (on 20 May) we celebrated the eighteenth birthday of our eldest son, Sean Charles Lunnon. He, his brother and our other son, Phillip John Lunnon (turning 15 in July) and my cousin Michael’s son, Alistair (24) – now living in New Zealand – are the only three male Lunnons of their generation who will carry our Lunnon line forward.

This morning, at 2am, Helena ‘Peggy’ Walls (nee Lunnon) passed away at the age of 92. She was my aunt (my father’s sister) and the last time I saw her was two years ago when we celebrated her 90th birthday in The Strand. I had hoped to see her when we go to Cape Town later this month. Alas, that is not to be.

In our family tree, Peggy was two levels above Sean, Phillip and Alistair. On that level, only four people out of my twelve aunts and uncles on my father’s side remain – Aunty Irmela, Aunty Elsie and Aunty Doreen (with only Aunty Doreen being a blood “Lunnon”) and Uncle Peter. (Aunty Doreen is now the only one of her siblings that we are still fortunate to have with us.)

Let me try and put it all into some order, starting at the bottom of the Lunnon tree:

Sean Lunnon’s and Phillip Lunnon’s father is me – Edward Charles Lunnon and their mother is Pera Claire Lunnon (nee Southwood).

I have three sisters, Lynette, Ingrid and June. Our father was Herbert Louis Lunnon and our mother was Doris Lunnon (nee Stanbridge).

Herbert had two brothers, George Henry (married Aunty Irmela) and John ‘Guy’ Lunnon (married Aunty Elsie) and three sisters, Helena Harriet ‘Peggy’ (married Uncle Willie Walls), Edith Grace (married Uncle Phillip Hope) and Doreen Elizabeth (married Uncle Peter Volsteedt). Their father (my grandfather) was Walter Charles Lunnon and their mother (my grandmother) was Margaret Susan Shepard Lunnon (nee Van Blerk).


My Lunnon Grandparents

Walter Charles Lunnon (my grandfather) who emigrated to South Africa in 1896 aged 23, was one of nine children of William (2) Lunnon (my great grandfather) and Amelia (nee Crease – 6 children) and second wife Harriet Stevens (nee Webb – 3 children) of Wookey Hole, Somerset, England. His siblings were William, Albert, Eliza, Catherine, Mary, John, Robert and Edith.

Their family home, Chesham House, is on the right as you enter Wookey Hole from Wells. (Pera and I visited there in 1999 when we toured the UK. I revisited Wookey Hole in November 2007 with Jerry Cottignies (my cousin Margaret’s husband from Bristol) when, after I became ill, I spent a month in UK as a guest of some of my ex-pupils of 1984.)

William’s (2) father was also William (1) Lunnon (my great great grandfather) and his mother was Sophia Reeves. He had only one other brother, John Lunnon.

My great great grandfather William (1) had a brother James (Jim) and their father (my great great great grandfather) was Robert (2) Lunnon and their mother is unknown.

Robert (2) Lunnon (my great great great grandfather) had two half sisters Sarah and Anne, and their father (my great great great great grandfather) was also Robert (1) and their mother was Rebecca. 

Robert (1) Lunnon had two brothers, John and William Lunnon and their father (my great great great great great grandfather) was John London (Lunnon being a corruption of London) and their mother was Mary Owen (they married on 9 December 1728).

And that’s how far we can trace the tree!

It’s really all so simple: God created Adam, Adam begat Cain, Abel and Seth; and Seth begat Enosh and Enosh begat Kenan and Kenan begat … the Londons/Lunnons (circa 998 AD) who begat John London who begat Robert (1) Lunnon (1733-1807) who begat Robert (2) Lunnon who begat William (1) (d 1848) who begat William (2) (1828-1901) who begat Walter Charles (1873-1958) who begat Herbert Louis (1915-1976) who begat Edward Charles (b 1956) who begat Sean (b 1992) and Phillip (b 1995).

And yet, it’s not really all that simple – it’s not just a name: Each one of these names represents a person, a life, a story to tell.

John was a linen weaver from London. Robert (1) established a very successful business, W. LUNNON & CO. LTD – Wholesale Paper Merchants & Manufacturing Stationers. Robert (2) owned the Abbey Farm Property. William (1) worked as a vatman in the paper mills of Cheddar and Wookey Hole. William (2) started working in the paper mills as an ‘engine picker’ at the age of 11 for two shillings per week. Besides being a papermaker for 44 years, he became the District Secretary to the Original Paper Makers Society, was a Justice of the Peace for the County of Somerset, a Weslyan preacher and a firm upholder of working men’s rights. At the time of his death in 1901, it was written “He was a leader of his fellows, and amongst children and adults, in religion and trade questions, in politics and social and civil developments, he was placed well to the front by those who looked to him for guidance, and who appreciated his sterling worth. He beared an honoured name. It was a life spent in constant readiness and effort to help others.”

Walter Charles took up an appointment with the Cape Postal Service in South Africa in July 1896 at the age of 23. He worked in the telegraph signallers in Kimberley throughout its siege during the Anglo-Boer War (1899 – 1902). He rubbed shoulders with Cecil Rhodes, Lord Milner and Rudyard Kipling. The desk I work at was given to him when he retired as Postmaster of Swellendam in 1929. Herbert Louis loved the outdoors and spent much of his time angling and climbing the mountains of the Western Cape, until he was struck down by a vicious debilitating stroke in 1969.

And as I make plans to go to Cape Town next week to attend Aunty Peggy’s funeral and to celebrate her life with the rest of the family, I am reminded of The Dash Poem by Linda Ellis:

I read of a man who stood to speak

At the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on her tombstone

From the beginning to the end

He noted that first came the date of her birth

And spoke the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all

Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time

That she spent alive on earth.

And now only those who loved her

Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own;

The cars, the house, the cash,

What matters is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.

Are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left,

That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough

To consider what’s true and real

And always try to understand

The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,

And show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives

Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,

And more often wear a smile

Remembering that this special dash

Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read

With your life’s actions to rehash

Would you be proud of the things they say

About how you spent your dash?

©1996 Linda Ellis

So, again, I have to ask myself

“Would I be proud of the things they say about how I spent my dash?”

To Sean and Phillip, as the “bearers of an honoured name”, we – you and I – have deep footprints in which to follow.  Will they be able to say of us that we lived “a life spent in constant readiness and effort to help others”?

And while I’m pondering about matters of life and death and family, here’s a quote from my cousin-in-law-in-law Maryse Peach (my mother-in-law is a Peach) – What a peach!:

Don’t you sometimes wish life was like a PVR? Then we could fast forward the s*#t, rewind the giggles and record the moments that mean the most!

In loving memory of all the LUNNONS who have gone before us

and especially my aunt,

Helena Harriet (Peggy) Walls (nee Lunnon)

1918 – 2010

Our deepest sympathy to our cousin Jeannie on the loss of her mother