It seems all focused on Tottington and broadly the Bury/Bolton area. This of course will continue to grow. However my father can trace his history back to Harmston, thence to India, Cornwall and then via London to Tottington. Pix and info to follow. He had a large family too! Then of course is my wife's family, father from what we thought was originally Sussex, but we now know Hampshire! Last but not least my mother-in-Law, part German and part Polish.
Probably time for some sort of Genealogy table!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Jalsa Salana 2012

I had the good fortune to meet the head of the Ahmadiyya community several times, I met him in his private office and we had a deep conversation about my Great Grandfather Henry Martyn-Clark. I found him deep, sincere and extremely likeable man, very knowledgeable about my family. Great charisma and a worthy leader. Liked him a lot.  My host was anxious about the meeting, for him it was the culmination of research and he must have been desperate for it to go well - It did. I visited the Ahmadiyya community display and was extremely impressed and of course visited the mosque, not once but twice. We were very much aware that our Great Grandfather's were at loggerheads - for me I feel that our respective differences have been truly buried!

His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifa-tul Masih V and
Jol Martyn-Clark the Great Grandson of Henry Martyn-Clark

I made a promise to my host that I would speak at Jalsa Salana 2012, about my Great Grandfather - I immediately said yes - then thought what the... Great honour of course. Many thoughts coursed through my mind, most of them help!

I was in the company of very interesting and knowledgble people and an opportunity that would not come again. It was the very last day of the Olymics in London when I caught the train to Alton. Greeted at the station, and transported to Jalsa. Proceedings did not start till later in the day. There were many speeches before mine, all interesting of course. The huge tent filled and I suppose I was left to the very end. His Holiness took the central podium and the air became electric with anticipation - This is not good for the nerves. My host said just read the speech and take your time! (the best advice!) I was called. This is the speech I read:


Your Holiness, my friends,
I am the Great Grandson of Henry Martyn-Clark. He is perhaps infamous in the history of your faith, but I would like to tell you a little more about his background , his character and achievements. Then my perceptions and finally a little about myself and my father.
Henry was adopted by the Reverend Robert Clark and his wife in 1875. It is thought that he was left outside the Reverend Clark’s mission in 1875 in Peshawar. It is believed that Reverend and Mrs Clark has just lost their first born child. He was known to be an Afghan. I suggest that the name Henry Martyn was in acknowledgement and affection for Henry Martyn, the the Priest and Missionary whose life influenced Robert Clarks’s mission. May I point out that the Clarks had eleven children, I think. It is thought from my own family history that some of these were also adopted local children. I am indeed in touch with the grandson of another of Henry’s brothers.
Henry was educated at Edinburgh University and he obtained his Medical Doctors degrees in 1881. At the same time he also passed his divinity qualifications to become a missionary. This was achieved by the age of 24. At the same time he also courted a Scottish girl, Mary Emma Ireland. They married in January 1882.
In February the same year Henry and his new bride of 12 days set off to join his father in Amritsar to work as a Medical Missionary. The same journey that his Father and his new bride took about 30 years previously.
In 1882 his eldest son was born, Walter Martyn-Clark and in 1887 my Grandfather Robert Eric Noel Martyn-Clark was born, he was born on Christmas day. Both sons were born in Amritsar. They became doctors, qualified at Edinburgh University too – there does seem to be a pattern appearing here! I do not know when they qualified or even returned to India. They were caught up in the Great War as Medical men – both returned to Edinburgh on Henry's death in 1916.
Henry had returned to the UK in the years 1892 where he presented a paper on Malaria – he had mentioned the mosquito as the cause, but there was no evidence to support this, I still have the publication as well as letters from Herbert Morton Stanley's wife. Henry had also produced a Punjabi to English dictionary too. He was certainly in London in 1893 to report to a Royal Commission on the use of opium. I must presume that he returned to Amritsar at this time. His father wasn't well.
In 1897 Henry Martyn-Clark filed a complaint against Hudhoor whom he alleged had plotted to murder him. Hudhoor behaved impeccably believing rightly that the truth was above the lies perpetrated towards him.
Robert Clark died in 1900, Henry was present at his death. It is difficult to know when Henry returned to Edinburgh. He did lecture at Edinburgh University on Tropical diseases, He also had an extensive medical practice too. He died buried in the Dean Cemetery. For a man who had a large influence in India and Scotland it really is a little sad and lonely. I did not discover the grave until quite recently -
Henry had dissolved into the mists of time. However I did feel drawn to it by a higher power.
As I was hunting down my late Great Grandfather, little did I realise that my soon to be friend Asif, was also on my trail! I had known that someone had requested a photo of Henry's grave. I had a friend request from him, an email too. Well he's an excellent researcher and also very persuasive. He visited me in Lytham, interviewed me and persuaded me to visit London. I visited the exhibition, also both Mosques, but the highlight was an audience with his Holiness. Very difficult to put in words what I felt. A depth of feeling, warmth and understanding I have never felt before. Here was a good man, a great leader. Sincerity with humility. I was shaken – I still am. I returned for the peace conference. We spoke again. I had the same feelings. As I do now.
I wish to bring the history a little up to date. My father was the male influence in life. I was privileged to know him for 30 years. He spoke little of his parents, he like me had never met Henry. He was educated at boarding school and he and his sister only saw their parents during school holidays. His own father died when he was 7 and his mother when he was 9. He was adopted by his mother's sisters - in Cornwall - they had been nurses in the Punjab too. He was a restless chap, intelligent and articulate – he had started his degree in Horticulture when the Second World War broke out: He signed up immediately – he wanted to go East! And he got his wish! Captured by the Japanese incarcerated with the Ghurkas, most people content to survive, my father had learned their language. It was to become useful. Surviving the war with a gift for languages and immense frustration and a couple of false starts he became a primary school teacher. He loved the job – children loved him but there was always something missing – a deeper need. In the late 50's fuelled by political circumstances, education extended to those with disabilities and difficulties. My father saw this as his vocation. As a remedial teacher he was working in schools in Bury and Manchester. There was tremendous growth in the Asian population at this time. They were astounded and not a little suspicious to find a white man talking in their own language. He was taken to their hearts!
On his early death, the community built a memorial garden in his honour. I together with my mother and wife were guests at the opening. Sadly the school is no longer there.
I have returned to the beginning, Shocked and very pleasantly surprised by the reception I have had. Never dreamed that I would find out so much. The internet is such a fantastic place. So perhaps a few words about myself. Qualified as an engineer, worked for a large electronics company, again like my father became very restless, entered teaching and soon became concerned with those learners with disabilities and difficulties. Wanting to know more, qualified as a Dyslexia teacher from Edinburgh University. Currently working at Blackpool and the Fylde college coordinating support as a Specialist Support Tutor.
I am indebted to you all. Love for all and Hatred for none has been theme in my own family and will continue to be so.
It does indeed feel strange to put this in print - but events overtook me. I suppose that I really wanted to know more about my family and got far more than I bargained for - still coming to terms with it.  Here are pictures of the event:
During the speech

Behind us is sitting the speakers who have spoken,
This is clearer in the lower pictures

On the right, against the wall are the speakers who made speeches
throughout the afternoon. I was one of the later speakers.

It would be good to return, just to soak up the atmosphere. Much of the speech above is contained in the website.

No comments:

Post a Comment