SOME NOTES AND REMINISCENCES OF SISTER ROSEMARY, C.S.C.
(ROSE MARY BOOLE WRITTEN AT THE TIME OF THE GEORGE BOOLE CENTENARY IN NOVEMBER 1964)
(Also with notes by Michael McCrohan in italics from 2008)
Rosemary Boole - youngest daughter of George Boole (1858 - 1898)
I never heard much about John Boole the father of George, William and Charles except that he took up cobbling in Lincoln to eke out his living. But he was a clever educated man and carried out most of the education of his sons. I knew my grandfather Charles Boole very well as I lived with him and his wife Millicent and their two unmarried daughters, Ellen and Millicent, for some years at Croydon. Charles Boole before his retirement in about 1884 was for a short time (actually from 1865 to about 1881). the colliery manager at "Rainford" in S. Lancashire then a mining district 12 miles from Liverpool . I think my father George Boole was born in Lincoln (actually Sleaford). He went to Cardiff (after studying at Kings College , London ) to qualify as a mining engineer and met my mother Kate (nee Thomas) who lived in Cardiff and was Welsh. They were married at St. John's Church ; Cardiff in about 1880 (actually 1881) and my father held posts as colliery manager in S. Wales at Treherbert and Treharris. When his father Charles Boole retired he followed him as colliery manager at "Rainford" in about 1884 as my brother Leo and I and John Otto were all born at "Rainford" in 1885 and 1886 (and 1891).
Boole Home "Lodge Farm", Bickerstaffe, England C.1890s
George Boole (my father) is still clearly remembered at "Rainford" where he died in April 1898 at the early age of 39. We then moved to Penarth near Cardiff to be near my mother's relatives. The mines at Rainford stopped working not long after this. A well to do farmer now lives in our old house (the Lodge). I went there in 1962 and the farmer let me go all over the house and said his father well remembered my father and mother and all of us as children. After our move to Penarth I was sent to the school at Croydon carried on by Aunt Ellen Boole and I lived with her and my grandparents until I was seventeen, going to Penarth for the holidays.
My father often talked of his Uncle George and we had his portrait in our dining room at Rainford. (My brother Leo was very proud of his resemblance to it) We were very proud that my brother Leo was said to resemble him and, though not mathematical, he was the cleverest of the family and got a classical scholarship to Oxford later on. Whilst we were at Rainford we were visited by Alice Stott, one of great uncle George's daughters living in Liverpool . Her son Leonard also (came) stayed with us for some time. He was rather a delicate boy brought up on mathematical principles but (I believe he did very well afterwards) I never heard what became of him. Mrs Stott was clever and mathematical like her father, & taught her son to put the forks “parallel” on the table which impressed us!
I often heard also of Ethel Voynich whose husband was a Russian who was supposed to move in “anarchist” circles. She wrote a political novel called "The Gadfly", which made quite a sensation & was I believe not allowed in Russia (It was published in 1897. After the Russian Revolution in 1917 it was much read and praised in Russia ). Another daughter married a mathematician Howard Hinton in America . He was supposed to be spending his life in trying to find "the fourth dimension". I don’t know whether he ever found it!
I always liked hearing about this family, all very (clever) learned and rather unusual. Their mother, Mary Boole (nee Everest) was also a clever mathematician and I was told that (she made up her mind to marry George Boole before they ever met) she and George Boole both read each other’s books & determined to get married before they ever met. (So I was told but cannot vouch for the truth of this). She lived to be a great age & was still living in 1907 when I joined the Sisters of the Church and my aunts Ellen and Millicent used to (see) visit her sometimes in London . When she heard that I had joined an Anglican Community her comment was: “Well, I should (like) be glad of a little conventional silence myself especially at breakfast.'
She then lived with her unmarried daughter Lucy I think, and tradition said they were supposed to get on each other’s nerves at times. Mrs Mary Boole was a great friend of H. G. Wells but used to quarrel with him sometimes and he put a man in his book "The New Machiavelli" named Boole. I was told that he made this character very uninteresting to annoy Mary Boole.' (So I was told). (There is no character named Boole in "The New Machiavelli" (written 1911) or any other of H. G. Wells’ works. There is a very brief, one sentence mention of a character named De Booley in his book “The War in the Air” (written 1907). De Booley is described as having mysteriously disappeared while flying an early aeroplane in Paris .)
My grandfather, Charles Boole, thought the world of his brother George and (often talked about him) named his eldest son (my father) after him. Charles Boole was a gifted musician and in his eighties used to play the piano for hours, Beethoven’s sonatas, with no music before him. When Charles Boole retired & left Rainford he and his family settled in Croydon. He had shares in the Rainford mines and for a time was comfortably off, but the mines closed and he lost nearly all his money. His wife, Millicent, my grandmother came from Sleaford, Lincolnshire of a well-to-do family, the Nickolls. Their second son Arthur went to Australia and died in Sydney , I believe left a son there. Their eldest daughter Mary of whom my father thought a great deal (after whom I was named) died before my father. Fanny married an artist, Fred. Hamilton Jackson . Ellen trained as a teacher at Queen's College, London at the Froebel Institute and when her father lost his money she (had a successful school in Croydon) started a school in Croydon in which I was educated, living with my grandparents and two aunts and really kept her parents for some years. Millicent trained as an artist at the Slade School , London and more or less earned her living by illustrating books and magazines. She also taught drawing in Ellen's school. My grandparents and aunts were all well educated and clever and my aunt also had well-qualified teachers in the school and I was fortunate to be brought up by them. The aunts were also devout churchwomen and very " High Church ". Charles Boole died in about 1902 and he and his wife, who died some years later, are both buried in the large cemetery in Mitcham Road , Croydon. Ellen Boole had a long-illness in about (1908) 1906 and had to give up her school, but she recovered, and although about 60 trained as a deaconess in Manchester and worked in parishes for over ten years till well over 70. When she retired she lived near Leo and Enid in Bickley and died there in 1935. Millicent became more or less of an invalid and in 1941 I got her into a home for old ladies under the Wantage Sisters. She died there in 1943. I was always in close touch with these Aunts and Ellen was devoted to my brothers Philip and Leo and used to go and stay with them.
My brother Leo died in Bickley in 1935 leaving one daughter Rose, now Mrs. McCrohan in Doncaster (she died in 1997, leaving 3 children). My eldest brother Philip Arthur George father of the Rev R.H.S.Boole of Grimsby died at his home near Cardiff in 1948 after having being in business in Cardiff for many years. He left three sons and a daughter.