Notes by Angus Willson (1985)
One remarkable feature of “The Onlooker“, and one which provides further insight into Alice’s character, is the form of the original manuscript. It was written, in pencil, on one hundred and fifty nine used Christmas cards. (see image on first page) It is clearly marked “Rough Draft” and the “Synopsis” is no more than the chapter headings as given. In preparing the text very few changes have been made beyond the expansion of abbreviations and the plentiful addition of commas. The occasional, but tantalising, inserted notes have been included in square brackets, thus [ ]. Alice made few corrections in the course of writing which is creditable bearing in mind that it consists of nine interwoven chronologies.
Although much of her own life is told through events involving others in the family, the story ends with a brief, almost plaintive, self-analysis. Contrasted with the purposeful, and almost strident, introduction this emphasises that we are sharing an unfinished version of the memoirs.
It might be considered peculiar that there is so very little about the second world war and the post-war period. However, it was clearly Alice’s main intention to relate personal incidents concerning the family. Although her occasional references to wider matters are illuminating, the appeal is in her identification of character traits. It is a shame that her role as observer does not extend into the later period of her life and include more on the generation for whom “The Onlooker” was intended. Alice died in 1965 and over twenty years later it is intriguing to consider how she might view the “new age” in terms of the social changes influencing the role of the family.
1 The Parents
Curiously. Alice does not refer to her mother’s name which was Jane Elizabeth Palmer. Her father’s name, Marcus Ascoli, is identified in Chapter 3 as Walter’s middle name.
W E Forster, in charge of the Education Department in Gladstone’s first administration, was a Quaker and a Radical.
The East End Mission where both parents worked was called ….
Fathers time in the army
Location of the Guildhall Library
Chas. H. Spurgeon was a well-known non-conformist preacher.
Boer War 1899-1902
Marcus interred in Chingford Cemetery
Jane interred in Chingford Mount Cemetery. Family Grave No. 43870. (The In Memoriam card was mis-printed as No. 48370 and corrected by hand.)
2 Elizabeth Alice Ascoli
Locations of houses:
Locations of schools:
Stepney old and new
Walthamstow small private school
Sunday School and Baptist Church Mission School
Y.W.’s Bible Class
small cottage in country
moved to town, near sea
Interred in Sutton Road Cemetery, Grave No. 17904 Plot U.
3 Walter Marcus Ascoli
Walthamstow Grammar School
Tottenham Grammar School
LMS branch to Southend
Is it possible that the scholarship book allowance could be a quarter of a qualified teacher’s salary?
Woodford, Essex. 1 Marlborough Road
South Benfleet, Kitscroft
Married Emily Mary Simmons and had two sons:
Reginald Marcus Ascoli, who married Hilda and had two sons
Eric Walter Ascoli – emigrated to Rhodesia – married (1) Marion who had a son Peter and married (2) ?
“NOTICE is hereby given that by a deed poll dated the 8th day of July 1940 and duly enrolled in the Supreme Court of Judicature on the ninth day of August 1940 I ERIC WALTER ASCOTT of The Elms Newbridge Gardens Bridgend in the county of Glamorgan B.Sc. M.R.C.V.S. a natural born British subject renounced and abandoned the surname -of Ascoli. —Dated the l0th day of August 1940. ERIC WALTER ASCOTT, formerly Eric Walter Ascoli. (079)”
The London Gazette, 20 August 1940 (page 5122)
4 Edith Amelia Ascoli
Aunt Jenny (note alternative spelling in chapter on Percy)
Royal Normal College for the Blind, Upper Norwood
School in Rhyl, North Wales
Although Alice twice refers to Edith having died in 1917, an In Memoriam card says May 4th, 1919. Aged 37 years. Interred at Chingford Mount Cemetery. Private Grave.
5 Herbert Albert
Scheme for land in Canada and charitable organisation
Canadian Regiment at Vimy Ridge
In Memory of Private H A ASCOLI
874052, 27th Bn., Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment)
who diedon 10 April 1917
Remembered with honour
BOIS-CARRE BRITISH CEMETERY, THELUS
Veterans Affairs Canada
Book of Remembrance
6 The twins – Henrietta Lilian and Beatrice
Short-hand typists school
Swedish iron firm
Friend’s Meeting House, Walthamstow
George Hamilton Archibald
James Ryan was studying at Livingstone College when they met. They engaged in 1909.
Kingsmead Training College, Selly Oak
Pathe family at Trouville, Summer 1911
Father’s relative in Paris
Beatrice went to Madagascar in 1909 ?
John Ormerod Greenwood, 1978, Whispers of Truth. Quaker Encounters Volume 3. William Sessions: York. (pages 84-88)
Location of Mission
Young woman who accompanied Beatrice to Madagascar
Beatrice buried in Norwegian cemetery close to Morondara
Henrietta interred at Chingford Mount cemetery, No. Grave 43870.
Molly Ryan married Tom Watson: one daughter, one son
Susan Mary Watson, married Christopher: two sons, Jonathan, Matthew (15 July 1977)
Michael Watson, married two daughters, Rebecca?, Phillipa.
7 Arthur Ascoli
London Missionary Society
Married Bertha Toms
The names of Arthur’s children are not given: girl (died age 6) +1
2 boys, bachelors in 1962. Walter married Lucille, Henry married Laura?
2 girls, both married. Alice
Arthur died in
8 Percy Edwin Ascoli
Interred in Walthamstow Cemetery, Family Grave No. 301 C/A.
Married Margaret Ramsey
Margaret Ascoli later re-married to become Margaret Wiltshire
Lorna Ascoli married Alfred Willson and later married Peter Fermer:
Janet Willson married David Thomas: Andrew, Philip
Stephen Willson married Elizabeth Smith: Robyn, Natasha, Amy
Angus Willson married Margaret Prince
9 The Onlooker herself – Alice Maud Ascoli