|Thomas and Alice. Family Tittle-Tattle.|
Thomas and Alice lived at Writtle House, a huge square uninteresting
house with a large garden. Alice's father had added three dignified
large ground floor rooms but nothing could ever make the house
beautiful. The brewery, source of the family fortune, was just over the
garden wall. When the hops were boiled a strong, sickly-sweet smell
pervaded the whole estate. Thomas was a middle class business man,
director of the Anglo-Egyptian Bank, a really great financier and
well-known and respected in the City. He spoke in a husky voice and had
a large under-jaw. He was careful of every sixpence that he spent and,
when needing a Hansom Cab, would walk down the steps of the Carlton Club
and up the steps of the Reform, because he could get one for 1/6d.
instead of 2/-.
He was a true victorian father whose slightest wish was law in the home. There were very respectful manners but no intimacy between him and his eleven children. He kept a large stable with eight or ten beautiful horses for hunting and driving, notably a pair of pretty Norwegian cream-coloured ponies who were driven in a governess cart. Hunting and making money were his only tastes except for a little mild gambling at Monte Carlo.
Alice, at nineteen was calmly beautiful and had already turned down nineteen proposals of marriage. Thomas or Tummas as Alice preferred to call him was a young, rather unattractive Irishman who had been roped in to manage the brewery. He won her heart and she bore him six sons and six daughters. He remained a faithful husband.
Alice was a remarkable woman with large eyes and fine wavy hair. She would have been considered
|beautiful had she not become enormously stout. She had given
birth every second year for twelve years or more, yet never complained
about anything. She organised her large household with quiet but very
firm discipline and held the complete devotion of her husband and eleven
children. Her genius for command was always effortless and unconscious.
She had a beautiful voice, singing through all the psalms and hymns on a
Sunday morning. She had no conversation to speak of, scarcely any real
education, and absolutely no intellectual ability of any kind. There was
hardly a single book in that house. The meals were prodigious, they all
ate and drank with enormous appetites and were frequently obliged to
take the cure at Aix les Bains or Carlsbad. The daughters were so strong
they could hunt all day and dance all night. They were not elegant but
had a great many friends of the same type as themselves among the
families who lived round about where the father was 'something in the
Tom Hooson M.P. wrote in 1983: "Thomas Usborne appears to have been a man of the nineteenth century. He wisely retired from parliament rather than move into this turbulent century. Nor did he stain his hand excessively with the vulgarities of contested elections. As MP for Chelmsford for eight years he only endured one contested election, in 1892 when he gained 4,168 vote against the Liberal's 2,799. The family is therefore entitled to say "Never defeated"."
Phillip Whitehead MEP wrote in 2004: "In ten years as an MP, Thomas spoke only twice in parliament, on both occasions against the taxation of beer".
For more family photos click here