CHRIST CHURCH, BARBADOS, MAY 27, 2012 I spent a good part of Friday at the Barbados Supreme Court in Bridgetown to see what I could find out about my father’s sister, Maude, whom he wrote about in a column when she died in February 1934.
The item simply said: “News was received Friday evening last of the death of my sister Maude Victoria, aged 26 years on Friday, February 2, at her home in Barbados, BWI. May the sod rest lightly on her.”
When the administrator at the courthouse came back with the death certificate, he commented on what a tragic, horrible death Maude’s had been. “She died in childbirth, he said, “five days of labor.”
The death certificate lists the cause of death as “Puerperal septicemia. ; Cardiac failure and exhaustion from prolonged and difficult labour.” The “informant” was listed as “Noel Alkins, printer,” ; my father’s brother. It was a role he would take on again ; two years later when their mother, Malvina, died.
There was a lot of waiting and appealing (Getting such documents is not usually a one-day process. Many of the court staff worked right through their lunch hours to accommodate the lines of those seeking records.) I did not ; find out whether the child (or children) Maude was birthing lived or died.
Malvina did apparently have a granddaughter, Carmen, who I had assumed was Noel’s child, but perhaps not.
My father’s column item about Maude’s death seemed much more ; detached than what he wrote when his mother died. He did refer to her as “my” sister rather than referring to himself in his customary third-person. Of course, it is always a tragedy when you lose someone in their mid 20s, but my father’s column betrayed no indication of Maude’s agony, or that a baby died or was born an orphan.
I imagine Malvina was heartbroken when she died in 1936. She’d lost her husband just a month before her own death and two years before she had buried her own child.
Meanwhile, I had a delightful meeting with Barbados family historian Patricia Stafford Friday morning. She took copious notes on the Wray/Ray/Alkins clan and, with no guarantees, said she would try to find more on our family’s tree.