Ria Mcfarlane Hannan Reddick 03/11/1921 – 15/06/2015

I was saddened to read this on Facebook this morning:

Ria Mcfarlane Hannan Reddick
03/11/1921 – 15/06/2015
Our lovely Mum, Grandma & Great Grandma sadly passed away yesterday. She was the last of a very special generation & will be greatly missed by us all.

posted by my second cousin, Fiona Hannan Reddick Smyth.

Ria was my mother’s first cousin, and I only met her twice, but both were memorable occasions.

The first time I met her was in 1966 when I scarpered from South Africa to the UK to avoid the attentions of the Security Police (you can read more of the story of that here), passing through Ian Smith’s UDI Rhodesia on the way. I met Ria’s brother, Willie Hannan, who was then MP for Maryhill in Glasgow, and he helped me find my way through the tangled bureaucracy to get a job to support myself while waiting to study st Durham University.

Ria had been living in Rhodesia but when Smith made his UDI she wanted out, and returned to Scotland, and I went with Willie to meet her at the airport. UDI caused great divisions in the family. Another Hannan cousin in Rhodesia, Betty Stewart, had met Ria there, and wrote to my mother referring to their cousin Willie as a “one-man-one-vote bastard and a sick leftist”. So when I first went to the House of Commons to meet him I pictured a wild-eyed revolutionary, a sort of Che Guevara figure, and was rather disappointed to find that he was very mild and rather conservative, and his main concern was not Rhodesia but getting Britain to join the European Union, which he thought would encourage international peace and understanding.

Here’s what I wrote in my diary on the day I went with him to meet Ria at the airport, 4 February 1966:

I went by train and underground to the West London Air Terminal, where I met Willie Hannan. His sister Ria was flying in from Rhodesia with her two children, and were returning to settle again in Scotland. Her plane was due to arrive at 12:20, and then she was going up to Glasgow with Willie at 3:00. On the way to the airport on the bus Willie told me about his family, and how he had met Tommy (Mum’s brother, who died 2 and a half years ago) when he was in the merchant navy during the war, and he said I looked like him. He also told me of his father, who during the First World War was a pacifist and  a socialist, and had spent two years in jail. I told him that Mum had said that my pacifism runs in the family, but did not enquire about the nature of the socialist Sunday School she had said her uncle (Willie’s father) had sent his children to.

At the airport we found the plane with Ria, a South African Airways Boeing, would be late, and we sat having tea and sandwiches, and I told Willie something about the Liberal Party and its policies, and a little of the way in which our activities were hampered by Special Branch intimidation and so on. He said he was not a religious man himself, and I said I wouldn’t have expected it. “Oh, why do you say that?” he asked. “Because so few people are,” I replied. He said he admired John “Honest to God” Robinson, and thought he might be able to accept those views. I then told him how issues in South Africa were sufficiently clearcut to enable one to make a political speech using biblical texts, but that here it was make a political speech using biblical texts, but that here it was not so.

When the plane with Ria arrived at about 1:20 we had to go over to another building for them to get the plane to Glasgow (there are 3 terminal buildings at Heathrow — one internal, one European, and one intercontinental) and there we had tea and talked about Rhodesia. Ria said that she had had a Rhodesian passport and citizenship, and felt that she could not stay after UDI, so had got a British passport on the 9th of November, two days before Smith went mad. Two of Willie’s parliamentary colleagues joined us while we were waiting, and Ria showed us a letter she had had to get from the government giving her permission to resign from her job with Shell Oil. Then Willie and Ria and the children left. The kids were quite sweet — a boy of about 15, called Carson, and Heather, about 12. Both had dark hair, like their mother.

I stayed talking to the other MPs, and showed them my letter instructing me to call at the magistrate’s office for my warning. They wanted to make a copy of it to show round the House, and I resolved to try to get them a copy of a real banning order, which would be of far more interest and value. One of them, the Lancashire whip of the Labour Party, when he heard that I was an ordinand, wanted to know whether my political views arose from my Christian convictions, and was interested in my use of the Bible as a political textbook, or, more accurately, text book. Later, when the two of us were alone together, he said that he himself was a Christian, and seemed quite keen that we should meet again and talk.

I really would like to have known what went on at the Socialist Sunday School, but I got the impression that Willie was rather embarrassed by all that, and had indeed been embarrassed when his father was arrested and jailed as a conscientious objector, and preferred not to talk about it, while I was quite proud to have a great uncle who was a conscientious objector.

Ria’s eldest daughter, Fiona, had stayed in Rhodesia, mainly because she had a boyfriend there, and only returned to Scotland a few months later when she broke up with him, so I did not meet her then.

Hannan family in Glasgow, 6 May 1967

Hannan family in Glasgow, 6 May 1967

Fifteen months later my mother came for a holiday in Europe and the UK and we went to Glasgow to meet the Hannan cousins, and that was when I met Ria for the second time, at a kind of family reunion.

Ella Hayes and Ria Reddick, Glasgow, 6 May 1967

Cousins: Ella Hayes and Ria Reddick, Glasgow, 6 May 1967

We gathered at the house of Willie’s sister Ella (Annabella Buchanan, born Hannan), and there was a whole family reunion there, as two others of his sisters, Ria, who had been in Rhodesia, mother of Carson and Heather, and Tilda, whose daughter Ives Duff and grandson Alastair were also there. Their mother Hannah, who was my mother’s aunt by marriage was there — it was her husband, Tom Hannan, who was twe socialist who had refused to fight in the First World War and gone to jail for it. We talked most of the evening after having supper.

We tried to see Ria when we visited the UK in 2005, but on the day we called to see her she had gone out on a bus trip, so we missed her, and were sad to do so. As Fiona said, she was one of the last of her generation, and I knew her for all too short a time.

Visiting family in Durban, July 2012

After spending a few days in Pietermaritzburg at the Aberfeldy B&B in Scottsville (which we can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone), we came down to Duban and visted Val’s aunt, Pat van der Merwe, formerly Terblanche, born Greene.

Val Hayes, Jared Alldred, Pat van der Merwe, 14 July 2012

We saw aunt Pat when we went to the Western Cape on holiday last year, but had not seen Jared since he was 9 months old, and now he is 12, so perhaps that warrants a special picture.

Jared Alldred, aged 12

Pat is Val’s father’s sister, and Jared is her great grandson (and Val’s first cousin twice removed). Pat is staying with her youngest daughter Edwina (Jared’s great-aunt) in Durban.

While visiting them we warched rugby, the Sharks playing the Cheetahs in the Super-15 tournament, and the Sharks won by a big enough margin to move on to the nextr stage in the competition.

On Sunday morning we went to church at St Nicholas Church in Durban North, and then went down to the Pirates Lifesaving Club to meet some Hannan cousins I do not think I had met before.

Bill Hannan was the son of Duncan McFarlane Hannan, the youngest brother of my grandmother Janet McCartney Hannan, and we met him and his two sons Shawn and Clyde, and had lunch with them at the lifesaving club. Shawn and Clyde are my second cousins, and our great grandparents were William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane of Glasgow in Scotland. William and Ellen had seven children, four of whom came to Southern Africa.

Bill Hannan, Val Hayes, Clyde & Shawn Hannan, at Durban, 15 July 2012

The children who stayed behind were the eldest son, Tom, a daughter Maria, and a son Stanley Livingstone Hannan, who was killed in the First World War.

Bill Hannan

Those who came to Southern Africa were Emily (or Amelia), who married first Charlie Mould and then Arthur Sharp; Janet (my grandmother), who married George Growdon; David, who married Agnes Irvine and lived in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), and Duncan (Bill’s father) who married Margaret Helen Bain.

Earlier in our holiday we visited Peter Badcock Walters, who is descended from David and Agnes Hannan, and another of their descendants is Clyde Alexander Hannan, now an archiect in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. Bill said that his Clyde was named after the other one, because they thought it was a nice name, and Shawn commented that it was a bit wet, since it was a river, but that was probably the origin, since the Hannans lived at Clydeside in Scotland.

We had not known that Clyde and Shawn were married, and Clyde’s wife and daughter are now living in Shropshire, UK, on the Welsh border, where Clyde hopes to join them , and Shawn’s daughters, Giorgia and Maxine are very active in sports, and Giorgia has played hockey for South Africa.

Clyde Hannan

Clyde and Shawn grew up at Scottburgh on the Natal South Coast, and swimming and lifesaving were very much part of their lives on the coast.

It was good to make contact with another branch of the Hannan family, one that we had had little contact with before.

We’ve had a fair bit of contact with the descendants of Tom Hannan, most of whom remained in Scotland. My mother told me about her uncle Tom, who was a conscientious objector in the First World War, and spent two years in jail for it. In my youth this made him something of a hero in  my eyes, even though my mother also told me that uncle Tom Hannan wasn’t a pacifist, but was a conscientious objector because he was a socialist, and she said he sent his children to the socialist Sunday School.

When I went overseas to study I met Tom’s son Willie Hannan, who was MP for Maryhill in Glasgow, and my mother’s Rhodesian cousin Betty regarded him as a terrible man, proposing sanctions against Rhodesia after UDI, so before I met him I pictured him as a wild-eyed Che Guevara-type revolutionary, but was slightly disappointed to find thad he wasn’t at all like that, but was very respectable and rather conservative.

Shawn Hannan

But he was very kind to me, and when my mother travelled to the UK he introduced us to the other members of the family, his sisters Ella, Tilda and Ria, and took us to see the small town of Girvan, where the Hannans had originally lived before they went to Glasgow. I’m still in touch with some members of that branch of the family on Facebook.

The biggest remaining mystery of the seven children of William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane is Maria (Ria) Hannan, born about 1893, and said to have married a Jack Cochrane, but we don’t know if they had any children, or what happened to them at all.

After lunch with the Hannans we then visited Frank and Erna Vause in Durban North. Their main hobby is the collecting of Royal Doulton China, and family history takes second place to that. They have a most amazing collection, which occupies many of the rooms of their house.

We spent quite a bit of time discussing a Vause family tree, which many different members of the family have variants of, which traces the origin of the family to Vaux, De Vaux, or De Vallibus families, but always shows a gap of a couple of hundred years between them and the known ancestors. Different branches of the family have slightlky different versions of this family tree, but I believe the original was drawn up by one Arthur Wyatt Ellis, son of Henry Vause Ellis, who was born about 1880 in Reynoldston, Glamorgan, Wales.

Frank & Erna Vause, Steve Hayes


Family history ups and downs

Over the last year we seem to have been jumping wildly from one branch of the family tree to another. Usually a breakthrough in one branch keeps us working almost exclusively on that for a month or two, and then a breakthrough in another branch gets us busy on that. For the last couple of months it has been the Ellwood family of Cumbria.

We had the family in Whitehaven, Cumberland, and have been chugging along finding a cousin here and a cousin there, going through microfilms of parish registers collecting all the people with names we were interested in, trying to reconstruct families and see what fitted. Then we discovered that the Ellwoods originally came from Westmorland, and that opened up a lot that we are still trying to catch up with.

Before that, in April and May, it was the Hannans. That was mostly because we went on holiday to the Western Cape, visiting relatives, and most of the relatives we saw were on the Hannan side of the family. And also managed to find a few of the Scottish relatives on Facebook, though we haven’t followed that up much yet.

At the beginning of the year it was the Mortons of Colchester in Essex. Val’s great great grandmother came from there and we knew her father’s name from her marriage certificate, and that was about all. Then we found her brothers and sisters, including two sisters who married on the same day as her and came to the Cape Colony, and an uncle Henry Morton who was transported to Australia.

And this time last year it was the Bagot and Cottam families of Lancashire,. where we found a whole bunch of ancestors and descendants we hadn’t known about before, including some who were interested in the family history, and with whom, we were able to share information.

For the moment we are still being kept busy with the Ellwoods, but I’m wondering what next.


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