I have always known about Kate’s brother, Edward. The family story was that he went to Hungary to tutor a young girl and fell in love with her. When her father found out, he said “no” and Edward was told to leave. He then fell out of a train (either accident or suicide attempt from love) and was never the same again. Kate used to visit him once a year (possibly in Northampton, my mother remembers) and Alys (his little sister, my great grandmother) never saw him again. And that was all we ever knew.
Until I started to transcribe Kate’s diaries…..
They do not make for happy reading – you have been warned.
Edward Boyd was the eldest child and only brother of Katherine (Kate) and Alys. His father, Phillip Boyd, died of tuberculosis when Edward was only 11 leaving him to be the head of the house, the “man of the family”.
Edward was educated at Clifton College, Bristol and then Sidney College, Cambridge University (1895 – 1898) where he attained Exhibitioner Natural Science Tripos 1st Class.
The family were thrilled with his achievements and, from the diaries, it was clear to see that Edward was a much-loved and admired member of the family.
Entries from Kate’s diaries
“Friday, 17th June 1898
De B’s encore in bed to breakfast. Aunt Ada and I to Westbourne. Had croquet out. Edward got 4 telegrams to congratulate him on his getting a “first class” in his Tripos!!! Oh Joy!!! A drive at 2.30. We played tennis a lot. Speeches at dinner.”
Having taken his Degree, Edward left a few days later to work for the family of Countess Pejacsevich-Mikó,
Kate’s Diary entry…
Thursday, June 23rd 1898
Mother, Alys, Ed and I drove to town; had photographs taken and shopped. Cut sandwiches in afternoon; and had tea-party, as see mem. Wade came and helped to serve. Played tennis and croquet. Uncle P “migraine”.
Friday, June 24th June 1898
Rained all day hard. We packed and saw to Edward’s things. He and Uncle Pierre to town. Wadie came and did sewing. Had songs in evening. Dear old Edward sang “Sleep”. Uncle P sang.
Saturday, June 25th June 1898
Packed and did heaps of things. All morning. Rainy, showery. At 1.30 we all to station to see Edward off to Hungary via see “mem”. Mother and Alys home. The De B’s, Aunt Ada and I to Winter Gardens. Walked home, songs, etc, in evening.
Mem: Edward to Harwich, Rotterdam, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, Danube, etc.
Letters went backwards and forwards, even a lovely birthday present (scarf and ring) for Kate, when suddenly 3 months later a telegram arrived.
“Monday, 19th September 1898
Wrote to Aunt Alice, Tades, Mrs Geddes, Sarah, Minnie. Ella and Alys to tea at Menies. I rested and read Lamb’s Essays 45. Telegram from Uncle H. Ed sunstroke. Mrs Carnie and Hannah and Norah in.”
Lucy (Edward, Kate and Alys’ mother) and Uncle Harold (Lucy’s brother) went straight to Troppau where Edward was in hospital and with that their whole world collapsed.
The diagnosis of sunstroke changed to “malarial fever” and Edward was subsequently declared insane.
Suffering from delusions and auditory hallucinations, Edward had thrown himself out of a train to kill himself. There was no unrequited love story.
With the help of Edward’s Austrian psychiatrist and possibly a man-servant/hospital orderly, Mother and Kate (aged 19) took him home to England where he was swiftly transferred to Holloway Sanatorium Virginia Water in Surrey – a private mental institution known for the care and treatment of the insane. Edward was only 22.
Just over one year later, Edward was discharged from Holloway Sanatorium and moved to Bethlem (Bedlam) Hospital – a psychiatric hospital in London.
He stayed there for 4 years and was then transferred, I think, to Bryn-y-neuadd Mental Hospital, Llanfairfechan, Caernarvonshire (though there may be more hospitals in between – I can find no record.)
Edward died in 1946 aged 69 at St Andrew’s Hospital, Northampton.
If you are interested his mental health records from his stay in Holloway and Bethlem are here. (WARNING: It is fairly brutal reading.)
It must’ve been a very sad state of affairs for the whole family. I may find out more as I transcribe more diaries. The 1899 one is missing, and I don’t know why. Maybe it was all too much in that year and Kate destroyed it. We will probably never know.