My Great Aunt Kate

Katharine Faraday Boyd was born in 1879 in Hampstead, London, England to Philip and Lucy Boyd.  She is my Great Aunt, on my mother’s side, and played an important role in the family.  Although I never met her, she died 2 years before I was born, I was always told about “Aunt Kate”.

Great Aunt Kate wrote a daily diary from 1894 (so she started when she was 15 years old) until the day she died at 81.  This is amazing and I now have 67 years’ worth of personal diaries about to be sent up to Shetland.

There are a couple of years missing but I think I can live with that.  They may turn up somewhere else or actually may have never been written (though, I doubt that).

The writing is teensy-tinesy and there is a weather summary for each day written on the side.

The writing is small because the diaries (mostly Letts) are also ridiculously little too.  About the size of half a passport.

Great Aunt Kate led an extraordinary life.  She lived through two world wars, volunteered helping refugees in London and Belgium (received an OBE and a Belgium medal), went to the Slade School of Fine Art (the Henry Tonks era), looked after her younger sister when her mother died very young amongst many other achievements.

I am not quite sure what I want to do with the diaries at present. I have a feeling I should transcribe them, or some of them, because the history will be fascinating.  So that’s a project for the winter, and possibly many more to come.  Realistically possibly the rest of my life will be spent trying to decipher teensy-tinesy writing.  Am I mad to want to do this?

16 thoughts on “My Great Aunt Kate

  1. Celeste Nossiter

    Such a treasure you have! I love to read books about women who did both heroic and small daily things, always fascinating to learn how they made their way through life. Just in case you feel like publishing them someday, I’m sure there would be an audience.

  2. Liz Roberts

    I love family history and your Great Aunt sounds as though she had an extremely interesting life, transcribing her diaries will be fascinating for you and your family.

  3. Judith Garbutt

    On the 7th and 8th November, 1941, your aunt mentions Darlington and Gainford. Gainford is about 6 miles from me and Darlington station is 12 miles!! I’ll be fascinated to know more of her links with Teesdale, Frances.

  4. Judith Garbutt

    And two more references to local places on the same page! She mentions having lunch in Binns – Binns is a large department store in Darlington and is still there but is now part of the House of Fraser group. Richmond is a lovely small town a few miles south. I’d love to know where she actually lived. If there’s an address anywhere, I could take a photograph for you of it as it is now . Please feel free to email me if this would be of interest.

  5. Joe Boyd

    “Aunt Kate” must have been an extraordinary woman. I have set our family genealogist to work on this, thinking we might discover a family connection. When son David and I visited Scotland many years ago we met a William Boyd and his wife in Moffat.

  6. Margaret Robinson

    Nope; not mad, mindful. Especially because you realize just how much time this will take. However, the upsides outweigh anything and it would be fascinating (at least some of it). Good luck!

  7. Sherry Walter

    Oh do it if you can. I’m the youngest in my family by 8 years and I only remember dibs and dabs of the stories about my grand and great grands – I heard one great grandmother was orphaned on the boat from Prussia, taken in my someone and somehow ended up in east central Wisconsin! – and now the stories are pretty much lost in time. How I wish I’d had the interest then that I do now.

  8. Sumiko Keay

    What a treasure!!!

    Think of all that your Great-Aunt Kate experienced. It gives me goosebumps just thinking of it.

  9. Lisa Doucette

    What an awesome find! You must do it as a blog. I guess that was their version of a blog. I know I kept a diary when I was a girl but that only lasted a few years. So your aunt was a dedicated person and these deserve to be cherished and preserved.

    Spring Peeper Farm
    Nova Scotia Canada.

  10. Kathy Cunagin

    How wonderful those old diaries!! I have 44 of my mom’s to read thru, and 10 of my grandmother’s. My plan is to transcribe for my 3 sisters each entry where they are mentioned, and present it to each of them on some future Christmas. Some future Christmas very far away…


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