Henry Howard Lewis

Henry Howard Lewis, c. 1905. Photo by Stearn & Sons, Cambridge

Henry Howard Lewis, c. 1905. Photo by Stearn & Sons, Cambridge

Henry Howard Lewis, known as Hal, was born on 25 Oct 1888, the only son of Henrietta Lewis (Nettie), wife of William Howard Lewis. His childhood must have been somewhat difficult as his parents divorced and his estranged father died in Malta in 1898. From the photos, Hal and his mother spent time with the family of Aunt Floss, who also lived in Wolverhampton up until 1895.

Hal Lewis, Molly Evans and WIlmot Evans on the beach about 1893

Hal Lewis, Molly Evans and WIlmot Evans on the beach about 1893

He and his mother moved to Cheltenham in about 1899 and lived with her bachelor brother Teddy, who was a Civil Engineer working on the Severn. Hal attended school at Cheltenham College before going on to study atĀ Gonville and Caius College Cambridge – the college where another uncle Robert Humphrey Marten had studied medicine. Dr Marten had moved to Adelaide, Australia and practised as a surgeon there, but both his children were sent to Cheltenham for their education and evidently stayed in the extended household. Both these Australian cousins, Roy Marten and Henry Humphrey Marten, followed the same educational pattern and went on to Caius College and at the outbreak of war all three joined up.

Although Hal evidently broke his undergraduate studies to visit Australia in about 1910, he had returned to England and the London Gazette shows that he gained a commission as second lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery (3rd Wessex Brigade) in Oct 1914. If this is correct this was a territorial unit and he would have been sent to India for most of the duration of the war as this unit relieved a regular unit there that was sent to the front line in France.

He married Dorothy P Growse (Dolly) on 9 Dec 1914 in Cheltenham seemingly days before the brigade’s departure, and it is a possibility she was in India with him, her father being an Indian Civil Servant.

This part of his career seems patchy but in the later correspondence of the 1950’s he is always referred to by Molly Downing (nee Evans) as Major H Howard Lewis, which was presumably his rank on leaving the forces at the end of the war.

In 1927 when he obtains probate on his mother’s estate in Stoke-by-Clare in Suffolk he is described as a journalist. The diaries of his cousin Fiffy would suggest that the family moved back and forth between Cheltenham and Stoke.

We can only presume therefore that this was his civilian profession and for most of the rest of his life he lived in Cheltenham – 63 Montpellier Terrace. There is also an address in Blackpool. His children were Bill Lewis (b 1921) and Ann Lewis (b 1925) who were direct contemporaries of Molly Downing’s own children Pamela, Hazel and Jill and the families remained in close contact. Ann Howard Lewis married Michael Tottenham in 1955.

Molly’s sister Fiffy also lived in Cheltenham through much of this time.

Hal Lewis died about 1960, a couple of years after his wife Dolly.

Last updated on 15 January 2021 by JJ Morgan