Annie de Salis HODSON (née MOURILYAN) (1870-1943)
Annie de Salis Hodson, née Mourilyan (1870-1943) was the niece of Eugénie Sladden, being the daughter of her deceased brother, Tom. She is mentioned in a number of letters written at the end of 1914 and early 1915 by her aunts, Polly Robinson and Eugénie Sladden, and her uncle, Fred Mourilyan, who were all concerned about the welfare of her and her family in war-torn Belgium.
Annie was born in Germany in 1870, the only surviving child of Thomas Burton Mourilyan and his wife, Amy (née Irvine). Her mother died in 1872 in Hamburg. Amy and her father then moved to Paris where they lived at 18 Avenue du Roi de Rome. Her paternal grandfather, John Mourilyan, lived in Paris and some of her Mourilyan aunts and uncles.
When Annie’s father died at Ramsgate in 1879, the young orphan girl was brought up by her maternal grandmother, Anne Irvine, and by her aunt, Esther Hamilton Irvine (Essie), who had moved to 18 Avenue Kléber, Paris. Anne Irvine died in Paris in 1895.
Three years later, Annie married Ernest Rust Hodson on 2nd July 1898 in Brussels, Belgium. Ernest was a widower, nearly 17 years her senior, and had three surviving children by his first marriage: Constance Agnes (1881-1963), Margaret Doris (1886-1970) and Lionel Ernest, known as Tommy (1890-1964). Annie had met Ernest through her uncle, Fred Mourilyan, who also lived in Brussels and sang in the same choir at the Church of the Resurrection.
Annie and Ernest had four children: Charles Thomas (1899-1925), Amy Victoria (1901-1967), Arthur Robert Jarvis (1904-1973) and Henry Clarence (1906-1999). They lived firstly at 43 Rue St Bernard, St Gilles, and then at a newly-built house at 27 Rue Africaine.
On 1st August 1914, Annie took with her three younger children to the seaside. They had gone for their summer holidays to stay at Crocodile, a little seaside place between Westend and Middelkerke. Three days later, the landlady of the Villa Hortensias where they were staying came in all of a flurry to say that the Germans were in Belgium. Annie was anxious to get back to her husband, Ernest, and Aunt Essie, in Brussels, so she left the children in the charge of the landlady and returned home, promising to return shortly. This proved impossible, and she was not to see her children again until the end of October when they were rescued by the American Consular-General.
Annie’s daughter, Amy, kept a diary throughout the war. Amy’s great-niece, Monica Kendall, has edited the diaries which were published in 2015 by SilverWood Books under the title, “Miss Cavell was Shot, The Diaries of Amy Hodson 1914-1920”. There are frequent mentions of Annie, who does not always come out very favourably. It appears that Annie had some kind of breakdown later in the war and there were frequent clashes between mother and teenage daughter.
In 1918, Annie accompanied her two youngest sons to England where they attended boarding school. Annie returned to Brussels, but only her youngest son, Henry, remained there as her other three children all emigrated to Canada after the war.
Annie’s husband, Ernest, died in 1934. Following his death, Annie went to live in England where her youngest son, Henry, whose job had taken him to London in 1936. She later moved to a house nearby. Annie died in December 1943 and was buried in Beckenham Cemetery in a common grave.