John William Ernest Pearce (1864-1951), my mother Effie’s father, is shown here with her. He did well, in 1898, to marry my grandmother Irene Kate Chaplin, for he was a born academic, whereas she had social skills in abundance. After a spell of teaching classics at Eastbourne College, Dover College, and University College School London, where he was Housemaster at Yarth House, he built and ran, with her, his own boys Prep School, at Merton Court, Sidcup, Kent, to the south of London, but sadly many of his boys died in France in the 1914-18 war. There were a few girls in the school as well, including Effie, who became a bit of a tomboy. In 1922 the family moved to Lewes Crescent in Brighton, but in 1926 they moved again, to 10 Cromwell Place, South Kensington, in London near the Natural History Museum, and he had a second career, as a world authority on the Roman coinage of the 4th Century AD, working with Harold Mattingly of the British Museum. On a numismatic website recently I came across an entry: “Pearce, J. W. E. Harold Mattingly, C. H. V. Sutherland, and R. A. G. Carson Eds. The Roman Imperial Coinage v. I through X London: Spink & Son Ltd., 1968”.
My grandparents said they would leave London if and when the Natural History Museum was bombed. Not soon afterwards, in 1941, bombed it was, and they moved to Tunbridge Wells in Kent – and finally, after the war, back to London, to the Vale of Health in Hampstead. I lived with them for some time in both places.
Their four children were, from left to right – the youngest, my uncle Jack – John Allan Chaplin Pearce (1912-2006) – a solicitor; the oldest, my mother Effie Irene Pearce (1899-1996); my uncle Edward Holroyd Pearce (1901-1990), who was later a Law Lord, Chairman of the Press Council for five years from 1969 and author of the Pearce Report on Rhodesia in 1972; and, on the right looking worried – as she often did – my aunt Phyllis Pearce (1910-1973). All four married and had children: My mother married Raymond Ray-Jones, an artist; Edward’s wife was Erica, daughter of Bertram Priestman, a well known landscape artist; John Allan Chaplin Pearce married Raffaella Elisabetta Maria Baione (Lella), whom he met in Italy when serving in the army; and Phyllis Pearce married Edward Eade (1911-1984), an artist whose work has recently been brought to the attention of the public through exhibitions and this website, and by his sons Oliver and his grandson Jeremy.
J W E Pearce’s father, Henry Edward Pearce, from Bristol, emigrated to Canada in about 1882, with the whole of his family except J W E P, who was already at Oxford University. Of his grandfather, Edward Pearce wrote:
“It was typical of Grandfather Pearce that on my father going to Oxford at the age of 17 he gave him no advice and no money, but he did give him a tasteful tea set of Minton china (a few pieces of which even survived the Blitz), three tolerable water colours, and a dozen bottles of very fine Claret….. Grandfather Pearce, undismayed by his own ill-success [in the UK], was persuaded that Canada opened a wider field for his talents. He took his younger children there, and lived to a very ripe old age, full of culture, keen on freemasonry, spoilt by his sweet and loving wife, comforted and helped by kindly sons and daughters who went with him. I never heard that he earned any money, but he bred affection and nice children.”
Unfortunately I have no information about the life of Henry and his wife in Toronto, but my mother and I have kept in touch with the descendants of two of their children, Mabel and Elsie. I have a little information on William (Billy) Pearce but the trail has gone cold. I think that Cecil died in Toronto in 1909 and I have no information on the others – Henry Edmund, Leonard, Swinton, Lionel, Lincoln and Tom. For Edward’s wife Harriet and the parents of both of them, click here.