Nobly And Faithfully, She Did Her Duty

Bessie, wife of  J.H. Henderson, was a woman it seems with little history other than this beautiful tribute given in her memory at St Mary’s Church in Tenby, Wales. Like many places of worship in the UK, there has been a church at this location in some form as far back as Norman times although the oldest part of this structure is only as old as the 13th century.

You may laugh when I tell you that I spent at least six hours trying to discover more about the woman who inspired the memorial above. I wanted to know what type of duty she did, ‘ Nobly, and Faithfully.’

I was disappointed to find little information about her, right down to not being 100 percent sure I’d discovered her true given name. I found evidence of a son who died at 38 in wartime France in 1917, but as hard as I searched I could not find much more than that.

I’m usually very good at this type of detective work and while I located loads of family, Bessie, Betsey A, or Betsy, never seemed to be around at census time and with no marriage license it was hard for me to confirm some of what I found.

She showed up in documents twice during her childhood, but only once during her adult years and even then, she was with her in-laws on the day of the census. While her plaque identifies her as Bessie of Red House, in the two census reports that occurred during the time she and her husband were living at Red House, only John Henderson, her husband, made the census report.

All of the dead ends today made me think about what someone might be able to discover about me 92 years from now. I think I’ve made it pretty easy having written and published 470 posts (a combination of this blog site and my first GOTJ) so even if I don’t get to say everything I’d like to before I die, I will have left enough for someone to have a pretty good idea who I actually was in this life.

While standing close to the memorial, I snapped a few photos quietly, respectfully, and without flash, just like I always do when I’m visiting a church and then I snuck the two pictures you see here. I never moved from my location and was a fair distance away so I don’t think woman I was trying to photograph noticed me at all.

I didn’t linger after taking the photo as I didn’t want to disturb her, but I wondered then as I still do now, who she might be remembering with her candle.

Nobly And Faithfully, She did Her Duty

How about you … do you have any idea of how you might want to be remembered ?

10 thoughts on “Nobly And Faithfully, She Did Her Duty

  1. “History is written by men.” I’m not sure who said that, but the truth about women’s lives (especially historically) is that their stories were so seldom told. They lived lives as wives, mothers, and sometimes even other things but; because they couldn’t own land, keep their names, or even admit the work they did their stories remain untold.I would really love to know the woman’s story that we glimpse briefly in your wonderful photo. I find it comforting that so many women blog and share stories now. We have found an outlet for our voices so that our stories can live on.

  2. What a wonderful portrait of the lady lighting her candle. How would I like to be remembered? As someone who could make people laugh, is probably the best I could hope for. My daughters would say it would be as someone who didn’t know the meaning of “cutting a long story short” – a phrase I use a lot but never adhere to.

  3. Elizabeth, this post really grabbed me today. Probably because I’ve lost a lot of older, dear friends lately — and the topic of “remembering” loved ones is high on my list now. But I was also fascinated by the memorial you wrote about … am also attracted to churches, especially older ones. I could have spent hours in St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney, where my grandfather was born and my great uncle (and other ancestors) are buried. As for how do I want to be remembered? A good question. I hope a few of my published writings and books will live on, at least in the hearts of those I loved, since they chronicle the everyday moments that mattered most to me. And I hope people will think I was kind, or that I helped them in some way.

  4. In many ways, it might better this way. As it will add to to the mystery and wonder of someones life. Sometimes it’s better to question, than to think they know all. Where as, if there is too much information, well, people always want to dissect, breakdown and quantify with, What do you think this meant or was going through her mind when?
    This simple truth that you have found would be enough for me.
    Sandy.

  5. What a lovely tribute.

    I think I’d like to be remembered as a truth-teller, a gin drinker, as someone who knows the names of many trees and flowers, as someone who can imagine living almost anywhere, as someone who believes in love.

  6. Loved this post and the art nouveau ..what is it? Is it tiled covered to protect them, or a poster, or..?

    How wouldI like to be remembered? Let me count the ways, but I think it boils down to: that the person I was made a difference in the world, even if it was only in the very smallest things, in inconsequential events and actions with every day people. That people wanted to be like the person I was – not what I did per se, but the philosophy and character that motivated that.

  7. Betsy Ann Henderson (nee May) was my great grandmother and I do have some information about her if you are interested. She was born in Newark on 12 September 1849 and went to live in Hawaii in about 1868………..but that’s another story.

    • Hello Mark, thanks so much for leaving this information about your great-grandmother. I would love to know more. Please feel free to share more here or by email. You can find my email address on the About Me page at the top. Thanks again.

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