Saturday, December 08, 2007

Horace Batts- chauffeur?

Is this Horace Batts, former chauffeur to landed gentry in Hay-on-Wye who died in Craig-y-nos, age 29, 1933?.

I have just had an email from John Batts in Australia. He is a distant relative of Horace Batts and he was responsible for despositing all the memoribilia relating to Horace in the Powys archives.

He says it is news to him that Horace had worked as a chauffeur! he recalls being told as a young child that Horace had died in a fishing accident on the Wye - much more respectable than dying of TB, which he did in Craig-y-nos in 1933.

So who is the mystery chauffeur? Perhaps there is someone out there who can help? it was in the same archival box in Llandrindrod Wells as the rest of the Horace Batts material.

John says:
" I did not recognise Horace from that photo; under a large hat, there is not a lot to go on, of course. But if you are asking me for any confirmation, I am unable to be at all sure. The other photo' gave instant recognition by contrast. Not that I ever met him, of course, but there were certainly pix around in albums and I was a regular visitor to the surviving sisters, Tillie (Matilda) and Gertie in Hay. If Horace is not actually in that photograph, then that may explain why the notion that he was a chauffeur was all news to me within the past hour.

I found that U-Tube reunion quite fascinating. I'm not at all surprised that it was regarded by some as a prison! In any case, I have no objection to your using that material provided the source is acknowledged, as is required I think by Powys CRO.

The only other material I have is a series of postcards written by his older sister Matilda ("Tillie") to Horace in the months after he was sent there; most of these, if not all, are written from Bournemouth where she was clearly working at the time -- not that I ever heard her talk of those days so I was utterly surprised when I found these postcards.

Tillie never mentioned Horace to me either, or at least not that I can recall, whereas the youngest surviving sister, the bed-ridden Gertie, did so. So this may be indirect evidence of one of your correspondents remarking that Craig-y-nos were not normally spoken of as if there was some stigma attached -- rather like cancer-sufferers today I surmise.

The other reflection about Horace I can offer you is somewhat allied to that, namely, I am sure that someone in the family told me at a young age that Horace had met his death by drowning in the River Wye, perhaps in an attempt to make me more circumspect when walking on the riverside Warren or when fishing! Strange how these recollections surface decades later!! "

Twenty minutes later John sent the following postscript from Australia:

I don't think that I had seen that photo of Horace Batts as chauffeur before. I spent some minutes staring at his female companion sitting on the board of the car with him. I wondered if it might not have been his first cousin and my Aunt, Ann Batts, who died of TB in May, 1947. The picture is undated but probably is from the late 20s. However, Ann was born in 1918 and the personage in the pic' appears to be more than aged 10. I am not sure that I even knew that he had been a chauffeur; my recollection is that he had been a bit of a gad-about in Hay, having worked as a shop assistant (in a draper's?). And if you enjoy speculation -- though with more than a 1000 photos in this project, you probably won't need too much of this -- I wondered if the car might have belonged to Lord Glanusk. I doubt if the young person is one of that family because social mores of that age probably preclude it, but that relationship may explain why the Glanusk family were writing letters to and even visiting Horace's sister, Gertie Batts (also an invalid), in the 1930s, a correspondence that continues after the Glanusk people had left Hay Castle. Just theorizing! John. "

I think you theory is right John because I did read in Gertie's diary that Lady Glanusk had visited her on several occasions and had spent the afternoon reading to her. If Horace was their chauffeur it would excplain this relationship - and the Rolls Royce!I

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