Mum--Diamond (Roberts) Blanchette
Mum, Diamond (Roberts) Blanchette (b 1912 m 1932) is the great great granddaughter of
the Welsh soldier Robert Roberts who came to India in 1805. She was born in Neemuch. Neemuch's sole
reason for existence was to service the railway
and the Army.
Mum is the daughter of Clarence Herbert Edward Roberts and
Lillian (Nierces) Roberts. The family consisted of the twins Diamond and Pearl, an elder sister, Vera, and the eldest
child a boy named Alexander. Apparently as a young man Alex was constantly
terrified he was going to get TB or something else equally horrible. The
girls ministered to him when he took to his bed which happened with some
Alex too worked for the railway and the two other girls also married railway
employees. Vera married Henry Dubois, and Pearl married Cyril Dady.
All Mum's siblings and her mother emigrated to England. Alex
and his family eventually went to Australia.
Mum's family appears to have been an extraordinarily strict Victorian
Baptist family. Mum tells of having to have a servant with a lamp follow
her anywhere she went, or might have gone with a young man.
My mother went to the same convent school in Mhow which I went to when I was
seven years old. She was a boarder at the Mhow Convent and later at the
convent in Cawnpore. Cawnpore is another one of those evocative names for
English schoolchildren. It is a town which figured in the Sepoy Rebellion.
Mum wanted to become a nurse but her father did not approve of educating
women. She left school when she was 15. Her twin sister did actually get a
nurses training--her husband paid for it.
Despite my Mothers lack of a formal education, and maybe because of it, she
has been fiercely insistent on all her children getting a good education.
She is still, at the age of 92 very much in touch with what is going on in
the world. The reason we left India after Independence is due to her. She
could see no future for British educated "kinda British" families in an
independent India, and it was she who badgered Dad and literally forced the
family to emigrate. Dad was being relatively successful in his career, and
would probably have stayed in India much longer if it wasn't for mother.
Mum spent most of her growing up years in an army town called
(Military Headquarters Of War) where her father too was with the railway.
The family was transferred to Ajmer when my mother was about 12 which is
where she later met my father.
Mum married Dad when she was 20 and converted from Baptist to Roman
Catholic; I was born when she was 21. Her father was strongly against the
marriage. The night before the wedding he was still refusing to give his
daughter away. Mum's brother Alex said not to worry he would walk her down
the aisle. In the end her father did walk her down the aisle.
Mum got married from her sister Vera's house in Bandikui--another bend in
the road!. Because of her father's strong opposition there is no official
wedding photograph. There is however, a snapshot of the bride and groom
on the left. There is a good photograph of the
wedding group from Pearl's wedding in Neemuch
here, and a photo of her brother
Alex's wedding in about 1928 here.
From Mum's stories I gather her father was a very silent, morose, rather
unhappy man who hardly ever spoke to the children and probably drank to
excess. He was involved with railway track maintenance--he was a Permanent
Way Inspector (PWI) at a fairly senior level.
Mum's sister Aunt Vera was also married to a PWI. The PWI's tended to get
posted to very small towns out in the jungle or desert. Mum was very close
to her sister Vera who she used to visit frequently. Between her father and
her sister, Mum spent a number of her growing up years in teeny weeny towns
like Phulera and Bandikui.
Our family went to England in 1949 when Mum was
37 and my youngest brother Clive was three and a half . She and Dad raised us four kids in England and
she worked part
time to supplement the family income. I have the utmost respect for my
mother's iron will. Here was a young woman with no particularly
marketable skills who voluntarily left a comfortable life to bring four
children to a country of which she knew nothing, and then proceeded to
educate them as well as she possibly could. All four of us got
excellent high school educations and three of us got University degrees.
At 91, when this was written, Mum still has her iron will and is well aware
of the world around her and her children and grand children and great grand
children's lives. There is a lot more on Mum in the
"Life in India" section.
On to .William Blanchette
Table of Contents | Preface | An Indian Childhood | Genealogy | Colonialism and The Raj
[Genealogy] [IndoEuropeans] [Separate and Unequal] [Mum and Dad] [Dad] [Mum] [William Blanchette] [Thomas Blanchette II] [Thomas Blanchett 1] [Mum Paternal] [Robert Roberts] [Dad Maternal] [Mum Maternal]