Day after Day 28 - part 1
7 Lansdowne Crescent, Worcester
January 5th, 1908
I so much need a friend at the moment. Why do you have to live so far away? How are we going to cope without my father?
I have copied out the newspaper articles for you. It doesn't tell the whole story. It doesn't say how much we all thought he was getting better again, and how when he collapsed only a few days before he died we couldn't believe that it was the cancer at fault. We thought he had been cured of that, so we blamed overwork, stress, a cold, those sorts of things. When the doctor came and shook his head and said he couldn't do any more, even then we didn't think he would die.
You lost your father not very long ago, so I know you will understand how I am feeling. Mother is even worse. She couldn't cope with going to the funeral. She doesn't get out of bed, or get dressed, or make any attempt at carrying on with life. I thought she might be interested in going to the graveyard, but not at all.
Here is the article from the newspaper on the Saturday after he died. It was actually the Saturday of his burial but of course it was too late for it to get in that day's paper.
From Worcester Chronicle, Saturday, December 28th, 1907
WORCESTER'S EX-MAYOR PASSES AWAY ON CHRISTMAS EVE.
It will be difficult for citizens to realise that the ex-Mayor passed away on Christmas Eve. We record the fact with deep regret. Most of those who observed the stalwart figure of the late Mayor when he was invested with the chain of office in the Worcester City Council Chambers little more than a year ago would have been inclined to take a lease on his life.
And even as recently as the 9th of last November when he in turn invested his successor with the chain of office there was nothing to indicate outwardly the near approach of death, although everyone was then aware that Mr. King had been unwell for some time. During the latter part of his year of office Mr. King had presented ill health from attending regularly to his Mayoral duties and he went away for a few weeks to a health resort without, however beneficial result. To the dismay of his family and friends it was recently recognised that the disease from which he was suffering
was cancer at the base of the throat and it was realised that there was no hope of recovery.
Until nearly the end, Mr. King was taken for a drive daily by his devoted wife and daughter, but all the efforts of medical men to save him proved vain, and he passed away, as stated, at his residence, 6 Lansdowne Crescent, upon a day when most of his fellow citizens were rejoicing at the advent of the festive Christmas season - a sad coincidence. He bore his terrible illness with great fortitude.
Mr. King was head of the well know grocery and provision business at the Cross. A leading Conservative, he headed the poll for St. Martin's ward immediately before his election as Mayor. Before this his connection with municipal affairs was almost a memory to most citizens as it was nearly 20 years since he had held a seat in the city council. He then retired through pressure of
business. He was president of the Chamber of Commerce and a prominent Freemason being Past Senior Grand Warden of the Province of Worcestershire. Until his year of office, Mr. King seldom figured in the public eye, being of a retiring disposition, but it was recognise that he had sound business ability and this served him in good stead.
He was esteemed by a large circle of friends, and acquitted himself well during his year of office, devoting much time to public work when he was able, and assisting every good work in the city by his presence when health and business permitted.
In these duties he was materially assisted by his wife and daughter. It is recalled that Mr. King said that he was influenced to take the office of Mayor by the remarks made in a sermon at the Cathedral by a well-known local clergyman, who urged upon leading citizens that it was their duty to make personal sacrifices in order to undertake public office for the benefit of their fellow citizens.
The late Mayor was not a native or Worcester but he succeeded his uncle, Mr. J. J. Williams, in the business which he has carried on so successfully for many years. He was a member of
the Worcester Grocers' Association from the time of its inception. A strong Churchman, Mr. King was one of the leading members of Holy Trinity Church and was for some time churchwarden.
He was regarded with affection by a considerable number of citizens. To anything in which he took an interest he applied himself with vigour and determination. The scheme for securing a health commissioner for the city was one instance of the concern he felt in the welfare of the city. It was during his Mayoralty and largely due to his sympathy and cooperation that the scheme was started and put on a satisfactory basis. Messrs. J. J.Williams and Co.'s business was carried on in the early part of last century in what was then called Goose Lane by Messr. Archer and
Williams. Mr. King for several years past has as partner Mr. Johnson. Mr. King was 58 years of age.
Then we had the Rector giving his sermon on the
Sunday. The paper reported on that too.
Preaching at Holy Trinity Church on Sunday morning, the Vicar made a short but very sympathetic reference to the death of the deputy Mayor. "Your thoughts and mine, are today filled with the great tragedy that has befallen the Faithful City during last week. I dare not trust myself to speak of it today.
We have lost one who to all human appearance was in the hay day of life, who but 12 months ago, was as hale and as cheerful and as devoted to duty as anyone was. Yesterday we laid his body in the grave with all the honour due to him, and those of us who witnessed the congregation here yesterday afternoon will not soon forget it.
The respect in which the Deputy Mayor was held was fully borne testimony to. It was my privilege to minister to him during the last days of his life and I never met one who was so absolutely certain of the future life."
The day of the funeral was cold and bleak. When I sat there in church, numb and still in shock, do you know what I thought? I remembered us sitting in the Cathedral in February, 1901, for the Queen's memorial service. The same men filed past in their fancy dress outfits. The Bishop wasn't there, but all the other town dignitaries were. They were more interested in getting their names in
the paper for attending than they were in showing any real sympathy or regard for my father. I thought, "From the death of a Queen to the death of a King" all in a very few years. She had many
years to enjoy life - he was taken far too soon. I wonder if he hadn't been Mayor and had all that extra stress if he would have lived longer.
I wonder if we could have recognised the symptoms earlier and had made him go to the doctor. He hated going to see the doctor, and always felt that he could cope with whatever was wrong with him. Anyway, I will append the article, and several others that followed it in regard to the views of the political figures who spoke. The only one who I was pleased to read was the one from Mr. Tree. He spoke nicely of father when he finished his office too. Most of the aldermen and councillors just felt that he was a puppet brought in to get them off the hook from the scandal and now someone
they could do without.
January 4, 1908 Worcestershire Chronicle
LATE MR. G. WILLIAMS KING -
LARGE COMPANY AT FUNERAL
The circumstances that the death of the ex-mayor (Mr. G. Williams King) should have occurred so soon after the termination of his year of office rendered the funeral, which took place at Astwood Cemetery on Saturday, peculiarly sad.
There was general sorrowing in the city, and nearly every shop had a shutter up as a tribute of sympathy. It was a striking tribute to the memory of the ex-Mayor that despite the bitterly cold east wind, the Mayor (Mr. John Stallard) and nearly all the members of the Corporation attended the first part of the funeral service, which took place at Holy Trinity Church. The building was quite filled by those who attended to pay a last mark of respect to the memory of the deceased.
The wreaths were so numerous that they almost hid from view the two carriages in and on which they had been placed. By request of the family no list is published. The service at Holy Trinity Church was at 1.15. At the request of the widow (who was not present at the funeral) the beautiful white flowers with which the altar, chancel and other portions of the church had been decorated for Christmas were left in position and these served to add a touch of brightness and hope to the mournful service. The surpliced choir was in attendance. The organist, Mr. A. Parry, opened with O Rest in the Lord by Mendelssohn.
The funeral cortege was met at the gates of the churchyard by Canon Wilson and vicar of Holy Trinity, Rev. G.H. Hough and the robed Corporation Canon Wilson read the opening sentences and the 90th psalm was then chanted by the choir. The hymn The Saints of God was sung by the choir and congregation and the lesson was read by the vicar, after which the hymn Peace, Perfect
Peace was sung, the service concluding with the Dead March impressively played, the Nunc Dimititis sung as the cortege left the church.
The mourners were: Miss King (daughter) Miss Foulkes, Messr. Brindley, Sondermann, Bromley, Hilditch, Wood, T. Bates and H. Johnson.
I will just interject here how pleased I was that Otto and Gertrude Sondermann came for the funeral and were there to comfort mother and me. Otto is German, you know, and a Professor of Music and they live in Bath. I won't include the list of those who were present. Most weren't really his friends but only there for show. I was so pleased that your John came and gave his support. If only Harold could have been here.
I have put in only a few bits from these other articles in the paper.
MAGISTRATES VOTE OF CONDOLENCE
He (the Mayor) said, "A loss has been created and certainly there has been a great gap made during the last week through the death of Mr. G.W. King. Although not a native of this city, I think he treated the city of his adoption with great respect. Mr. King was perhaps known to most of you more intimately than he was to me, as I have seen very little of him outside public life, but from my experience of Mr. King, his character was of a John Bull type, who I think feared nothing and prepared to discharge any duty however irksome or unpleasant in a most honest and straightforward way.
In various other capacities, I believe, Mr. King showed an Englishman's grit and you gentlemen know better than I the manner in which he discharged his duties on the bench. I believe
he was not a J.P. but he would now be acting as ex-Mayor. I must leave it to Mr. Day to place on record the manner in which he discharged those duties. We have lost a deputy Mayor who most
willingly a few weeks ago undertook the duties which he must then have understood would be more than ordinarily arduous. He undertook them with such readiness that I thought Mr. King must have come to the conclusion that his health was in a far better state than many of us had any hopes. I have to move: "that the Justices of the Peace for the city desire to place on record their expression of deep regret at the loss which the city has sustained in the death of Mr. King who filled with conspicuous success the office of Mayor and chief Magistrate of the city during 1906-7 and to offer to Mrs. King and Miss King their sincere sympathy in their heavy bereavement."