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Jessie Margaret WALL (née WILSON) (1867-1948)

Known As
Aunt Jessie
Biographical Details

Jessie Margaret Wall, née Wilson (1867-1948) was the aunt by marriage of Mela Brown Constable (the fiancée of Cyril Sladden).

Jessie Wilson was born on 12th August 1867 at Lucknow, India, the daughter of Joseph William Wilson, an accountant, and his wife, Jessie (née Humfress).  Jessie was aged only two and a half when her mother died; her father remarried when Jessie was 17.

On 4th February 1889 at Jhansi, Bengal, Jessie married Benson Parsick Wall.  They had two daughters, both born in India:  Jessie Irene (1890-1953) known as Irene and Maud Amy Margaret (1891-1959).

Ben was an engineer and they lived in many different places during his working career:  Bedford; Compton Lodge, Walton-on-Thames; Bombay; Johannesburg, South Africa; Mottingham.  At the time of the 1901 census, Jessie was living with her daughters and two servants at 6 Richmond Road, Bedford, whilst Ben was working away. 

The Walls were living at Compton Lodge, Walton-on-Thames, in 1914-1915.  A letter of 7th April 1915 reveals that the Walls took in some Belgian refugees to their home; they were the widow and two young children of a man who had worked for Ben in the Congo.  But the following month Jessie had to make alternative arrangements for them because of servant problems in the household.

Jessie, along with her husband, acted as a kind of guardian to Ben’s nieces and nephews, the children of his sister, Clara.  With Mela, they provided her with an allowance to enable her to start nursing in October 1914.  With Ben in full-time employment, it was left to Jessie to deal with the administration of the allowance.  Whilst meaning well, she was not always prompt at sending the money which sometimes caused Mela some anguish.  She also sent a hamper of food from time to time.

In March 1916, Jessie and Ben moved to Lancashire and, after a month or two, moved into Kent House, 2 Columbia Road, Oxton, near Birkenhead.  It was just before this, when Mela had given up nursing for the time being, that Jessie wrote to Mela inviting her to make her home with them until she married and offered to help with her trousseau (at that stage Mela was fondly hoping that Cyril might be home that year and they could marry).

In the event, it was not until the following year that Mela went to stay with the Walls.  She lived with them for just under three months from March to June 1917.  As Mela said in a letter begun on 6th April 1917:  “Aunt Jessie simply lives in church, and has the care of the fair linen and vestments.  It is a beautiful life, but to a certain extent - selfish, because she neglects everything else, her husband, home and children, and no one can convince her that she does so, and if one does nearly convince her, then she replies that her work for the Church is a higher work, and she will put it first.”

In 1919, the Walls moved to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.  In both 1926 and 1936 they lived at Greet, Mottingham.  In 1939 they lived at Old Nans, Adderbury Road, Oxford.  Benson died in 1940 and Jessie died at Leys Close, Adderbury Road, Iffley, on 6th June 1948.  She was buried three days later at Rose Hill Cemetery, Oxford.

Letters mentioning this person: