Saturday, 9 April 2016

H is for heartbreak in Heathcote

My great great great grandfather Philip Chauncy wrote about the death of his son at Heathcote and sketched his grave. The headstone, although damaged, still survives.


Sketch by Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy of the grave of his son Philip who died at Heathcote , aged 3 years, from his book 'Memoirs of Mrs. Poole and Mrs. Chauncy' (facing p. 33).

Philip Lamothe Chauncy (23 March 1851 - 19 May 1854)  was the first son of Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy and his wife Susan née Mitchell. He died before my great great grandmother, Annie Frances Chauncy was born.In his memoir about his wife, Philip wrote:
... our first son, named Philip Lamothe, was born on the 23rd March, 1851. I think my dear Susie's maternal instincts were unusually strong, and oh how true she was to them! How devoted she was to that child! He grew up to be a lovely boy, the admiration of all who knew him; but he had too heavenly a look for this world. He was the source of the most inexpressible delight to his mother; her eyes used to feast on his beaming little face; she looked the most un-utterable blessings on him. But alas, he was too exotic a plant to live on this earth, and was taken from us by our all-wise God, at Heathcote, Victoria, on the 19th of May, 1854. To the day of her death, his words and looks and little actions were fresh in her memory. I think she never completely recovered from the shock occasioned by the death of our little Philip; indeed, I now remember she said, shortly before she was taken from us, that she had never got over it, although she was quite resigned to the will of God, and would not have been so selfish as to have wished him back again.  (Chauncy, Philip Lamothe Snell Memoirs of Mrs Poole and Mrs Chauncy. Lowden, Kilmore, Vic, 1976.Pages 37-8)
In May 1854, our darling little Philly caught cold, and Dr Sconce, the Government Assistant Surgeon, was called in to attend him. On the 12th of that month, Dr Robinson happening to be in our parlor-tent, and hearing Philly cough, said, "That child has croup." O what agony the information caused his dear mother. A day or two after this we removed him into the large new stone building which had just been erected for officer's quarters, but he gradually sank, and expired on the 19th May 1854, after a week's illness. (Chauncy Memoirs already cited, page 47)

Croup is a viral respiratory infection. Before modern treatments were developed it was frequently fatal.

A recent photo of the grave of  Philip Lamothe Chauncy at Heathcote, from http://www.ozgenonline.com/~Carols_Headstones/ Thanks to Carol Judkins for her permission to reproduce this image.

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