John Girardot ''JACK'' Hawke

John Girardot ''JACK'' Hawke

Male 1903 - 1983  (80 years)

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  • Name John Girardot ''JACK'' Hawke 
    Born 03 Feb 1903  Norbury, SRY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Buried 1983  Queen's Road Cemetery, Thornton Heath Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 02 Mar 1983  Croydon, SRY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I575  CATH UK
    Last Modified 21 Mar 2016 

    Father John Goodridge Hawke,   b. 10 Feb 1869, Montfleury, Grenoble, FRA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Aug 1921, Thornton Heath, SRY Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 52 years) 
    Relationship Natural 
    Mother Jenny Louisa Girardot,   b. 15 Jun 1875, Montfleury, Grenoble, FRA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Feb 1952, Croydon, Surrey Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 76 years) 
    Relationship Natural 
    Married 20 Jul 1898  Meylan, Grenoble, FRA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • John and Jenny

      Jenny Girardot fell in love with John Hawke when she was twelve years old. And she pushed him into the piece d'eau.
      I'm not saying that love was born at the tinkle of that surprising splash - for him perhaps? But for her I believe it had already happened for she thought him so strong that it never occurred to the diabolical child that if she lurched against him as he stood poised at the rim of the pond - goldfish baiting? fountain admiring? just stirring after-lunch coffee? - caught off balance he would fall in. Such a pillar of strength, such a marvellous young man could not fall. Well, he did. No doubt she wanted to be noticed and no doubt she was. How they must have exclaimed and cried out! English though they mostly were, French mannerisms are contagious ... ah non alors! mais voyons! .... And how they must have laughed. He would have been immaculate, for he always was (military in bearing), and probably they had all been to church. I imagine it after Sunday lunch at the Goodridges' at Mont Fleuri where one sat to watch the sunset?
      When, half a century later I sat with Mother and her godfather to watch sunset on the Alps, did she say, that was the pond? She found everything so changed, naturally ... it was. But I caught the afterglow of what had been their paradise and knew that paradisal it had been.
      The Hawkes lived in another pleasing house a walking distance up the mountain in the then-village of Mont Fleuri. They had four children: John, Jim, Willie and Dot who was so tiny at birth she was never known by any other name though christened after her Mother, Jane, my grandma Hawke, who was born in 1839 Sarah Jane Norrish Goodridge. Her father, William, was a corn merchant in Devon. She was the daughter of his second marriage. William Snow Goodridge of the house in Mont Fleuri was her half brother and my grandpa Hawke's will names him as guardian for his children should they be orphaned. William Goodridge married a French woman, Elise Vallet. They had no children.
      The Hawkes were descended from millers in Cornwall, and then in the wool trade, and in one of England's flourishing periods were making their way up admirably, but how John Andrew was with Morley's, a well-known clothier, as their representative in Grenoble I don't know. Probably William Goodridge (doubtless in gloves) got his brother-in-law Hawke a position out there. Anyway it was all set to be a happy and prosperous life for all of them. And then, on a business trip back to England, John Andrew dropped dead on the station platform in Lyons. He was not forty. He left his adoring wife with four children under ten.
      Grandma Hawke was a terribly reserved person. She must have been absolutely shattered and even English Mary Girardot (a "woman to whom you felt you could tell anything" a cousin told me, years after) could not get near her. John Andrew Hawke was never spoken of by his widow and never known to his children. All we ever heard was that he enjoyed fishing which was an infliction for his eldest son, having to be quiet, sitting there drowning worms. Was that young John's only memory of the ten short years they knew each other? Jane Hawke did not go back to Devon where, presumably, her parents were still alive. It was many years before she moved from the French house John Andrew left her.
      The elder Hawke boys were sent to school in England, and John and Jim spent holidays with cousins on the farm - the Leighs at Kennerleigh Manor. There was their love for life, their enchanted memories, but cum manhood John was placed with Fothergill and Harvey, clothiers of Manchester. He became manager of the Bow Street office in London and took Jim in with him. John detested his office. He did not whine. He saw it as an opportunity to establish himself well and eventually for buying a farm in Devon. He understood business. He worked hard.
      Meantime in La Tronche Jenny waited.... Tante Elise (William Goodridge's French wife) predicted she would marry John because, after those Sunday lunches, it was always in his cup the child chose to dip her sugar for her coffee "canard". If anything else ever encouraged Jenny to cling to her belief in their united destiny she never mentioned it. He was seven years older, a popular young man living in England. Grandmère gave her a ring of turquoise and pearls. She made it her talisman for happiness, certain if she wore it, it would bring her her love. The dream grew as she grew. Languid in her teens she was taken to the doctor. English Mary was incensed by the question, "Is she perhaps in love?" These French and their ideas! Her daughter hardly more than a child....
      Jenny flirted with John's youngest brother Willy - the darling whom his mother could not bear to send away - it kept her secret safer, and she never flirted, so she insisted, other than in fun, never to be misunderstood, never to hurt. Girls can do such damage she told us over and over again. As children all the English colony went up to Mont Fleuri where Mrs Hawke gave them lessons with her own Willy and Dot. Willy was a nasty spoilt little bully, he swung on Flo Benson's fair plaits and made her cry, but never bullied Jenny, "I would not have cried." Teaching must have been thorough for when they went on to school, lessons were the last thing Jenny bothered with. Extremely entertaining, she clowned, good-hearted and popular. "I had no memory", so higher learning she dismissed as a waste of life, as for her it probably was, knowing so precisely what she wanted, touching her turquoise and pearls.
      At her eighteenth birthday her photo was taken. In it she wears a pin brooch in the shape of a dragonfly, tiny turquoise again. Dot gave it to her. And Dot had the photo on her dressing table. John stole it to take back to England. His incensed sister told Jenny sternly not to start trifling with that heart.
      Jenny was past master at saying nothing with daunting dignity. She never trifled with any heart. Gaston Cambefort loved her all his life, and so did Georges, the young officer. Another far more splendid officer had asked for her hand before she was eighteen. Nothing ever altered what she knew: that John Hawke was her destiny and she his.
      He proposed as they walked together from Les Ombrages up to the Hawke's house at Mont Fleuri. She was nineteen and her parents would not hear of their marrying before she was twenty-three. That was not a long engagement for those days (Dot was to be engaged twelve years), "and we were not together," said Mother, "engagements are all right if you are not on top of each other."
      Grandmère was not pleased that her Jenny was to marry an Englishman, and it occurs to me that in all the odd fragmented memories that is all we have of la fameuse Pauline not one suggests that she were ever stupid. What indeed was Jenny Girardot doing, French as she was and born in the Alpes, following a young Englishman whose heart was in the damp Devonshire she hated, who worked in fog-bound London and gave her a home in suburbia? How strange is love.
      They married on a broiling hot day in July 1898 and honeymooned at La Grande Chartreuse, in a hotel (not the monastery...) where Jenny objected to English John's cursory ordering of the waiters, "it is not how we speak in France". He changed his tone completely; s'il vous plait, and veiullez bien, and, surely merci beaucoup - for any bread roll or lump of sugar so that they were served before anyone else and bowed round like nobody else, perhaps because of his teasing her but where and when do the French not love young lovers?
      John chose a house in Thornton Heath where he had been living, chose it facing a green that had trees on it, not noticing the neighbourhood, only hoping the trees and the dusty green would give a country atmosphere. They did not replace the Alpes, nor had the people anything in common with the community at La Tronche. Jenny for all her liveliness was extremely shy and totally déplacé. Her loneliness was appalling until her child was born and they moved to Norbury where she flouted convention by proudly pushing her own pram.
      Eda was a most beautiful baby and a radiant little girl. She was clever, she was lively. Every photo shows a lovely child. The baby that came soon after her when Eda began to talk she called her little titta, from which, somehow, Helen Mary was renamed Cis for life. Eda talked all in a rush: "Titta has-ou cleaned ous goffsticks?" bouncing on the end of Auntie Sunny's bed, polishing the brass bed knobs with her nightie, and Cis, who drawled, "Noah, Edaaa."
      When Jack was born Jenny contracted puerperal fever, the children were taken to Les Ombrages, Tiwi came to Norbury, and when they gave up hope Nurse Coker arrived. Jenny recovered. They wheeled her in the bath chair to see the first non-horsedrawn trams go by on the London road. The children came home. "But," Mother would tell us when we were very little, "Dad had lost all his curly hair and I had only married him for that you know."
      John and Jenny's youth was over, but they were all together and well again - friends in and out, kindly 'aunts', boisterous 'uncles....
      A year later Eda caught a chill, was ailing. They took her to Hastings to benefit from change of air, to get well. And there Eda died (of meningitis?) in the December of her fifth year. The eyes do not cry but the heart cries all the time.
    Family ID F7  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    John Girardot Hawke [1903-1983]
    John Girardot Hawke [1903-1983]

  • Notes 
    • Irène's letter (Sept 2000) to me about Jack; (part also under Lorraine)

      I will try to find a writer's gift to talk to you of Jack, but don't think anything there can be explained. Some facts:
      48 [Coombe Road] was never, ever his house.
      Mother stayed on at the Hermy after Dad died really because she couldn't make big decisions without him. Uncle Maurice said she should have gone back to Grenoble "where she had friends", and that was true. She never made friends in England. To start with she never met educated English - the suburban Ladies could not talk to someone who pushed a pram - and proudly. It must have been quite different when she was mistress of the Big House, but not different for her. The Hermy's great advantage was that it was easy for the French to jump on train at Victoria and tram or cab from Norbury station to Hermy.
      You can see that a return to France might have been feasible with Cis and Jack, OR with Irène and Lorraine, but having two big ones and two little ones made a spread out family awkward. So we dodged the worst of the wars.
      We stayed at the Hermy till all of a sudden the three sisters decided to marry: first Roy and me, then your parents. Norm's sisters were friends of Auntie Maggie's (Roy's mother). Don't know when they went to Australia. When he - a flautist - came back with a musical comedy he had written and hoped to see on in the West End - and similar hopeful ideas - Auntie Maggie lent him "Nonsuch" while it was empty. And there Roy and I met him, living on rice and raisins, and writing a play. When Nonsuch was let, I asked Mum if he could live in the old kitchen at the Hermy. Cis said "Who IS this chap you are landing on us?" I said he is having the kitchen to live in - nothing to do with you - or any of us. As you may imagine dear Norm became at once the one sane head in the sort of bedlam the Hermy was becoming. He did everything the place needed to keep it standing.
      We all felt superior because it was a silly idea to imagine one could write a successful musical. Uncle Bert Sayers said "Someone should tell that young man." But when he had played the music, he thought everything should be done to encourage him. Instead he flabbergasted everyone by marrying Cis, and when war came took a job in armaments up North where he would be unlikely to hear bombs.
      Mum was left with Jack and the huge Hermitage. She put it on the market. It didn't sell till after the war. She bought 155 for your parents and, to be near Lorraine, 48 for herself. Jack and Uncle Brindley (her uncle and Auntie Wee's youngest half-brother) with the upstairs arranged for the Whitlams, disastrous protegés of hers. Lil Whitlam, with whom Mum became obsessed, was to be her housekeeper
      Mum had a four-figure overdraft at the Bank (we didn't know). When war broke out, the Bank foreclosed. She lost a lot, and was panic stricken, with no one to turn to.
      She decided to sell 48 and live in future between her daughters' homes. Precisely what she envisaged for Jack no one knows. Jack had no intention of moving and never did.
      In the war a friend got him work in an armament factory and saw to it that he was not sacked though he worked so slowly (atrophy) but immaculately.He'd get in exhausted, falling asleep at super when I lived at 48. After that he talked of broadcasting, which he could have done so well, but he never did anything at all. Worse than atrophy (or because of?) he had no self-confidence. Once he said to me "I was never big and strong, but I can see into people's minds and know what hurts. No one came against me at school."
      Or anywhere? People only wanted to please him, to have his friendship (we watch it all over again with Geoff). You say "I know some of what Jack did was pretty awful:" I don't know what that means. He never married Dod Allcorn (it would have been disaster). The year I was in Switzerland Cis wrote to me that Mrs Allcorn had turned Jack out of the house and forbidden him ever to have anything more to do with Dod. If that ever rmade any difference to either, I never noticed it. Eventually (as you may have seen) Dod had close friendship with Dick Wakeford (whom - had it not been for Jack - she might long before so sensibly have married) and so Midge, always so demanding and jealous, "sided" with Jack. Therby the four of them grew old together.
      Jack, never reasonable, was at times clean crazy. When Mother died she left 48 to her daughters, but Jack was to have use of it, or was not to be turned out and left homeless. At her death Jack, heartbroken, said to me, how wonderful she had been always thinking of him, but we must never forget that 48 was ours should we ever need to sell he would never stand in the way, etc. When he had to go into the Home, questions came up as to what was the financial situation, and it was pointed out that the house was not his. He was so furious Bryan got Mother's will to re-read to him. Furiously Jack simply said Horace and Martin had forged it.....
      You see there were tragic difficulties to deal with.

      Mum once said to me had Dad lived she did not know how she would have coped between them. Dad was never able to "understand" Jack - or simply didn't cope with the way all the women in the house spoilt him.
      I have beguiled some sleepless hours wondering how it would have been if Dad had bought "Milams", a garage in Thornton Heath where Jack spent hours talking motorbikes. Somehow I suppose Dad would have put him to work somehow and kept him in it. After Dad died, I don't know now how Thurloe Place came into it. At some stage someone exporting something?? had a position for a young partner. He met a charming young man with widowed mother. Mum advanced Jack his share of her capital he would inherit. The elder man vanished with it so Jack was left having lost his money and endangered what his sisters might expect? or something - and no one noticed that he still owned the building in Thurloe Place which, after the war sold WELL and had Mum hung on a bit could have made fortunes. When the money came through, she was worried stiff lest Jack considered it all his. She was with us at the time.
      He wrote her a really lovely letter saying of course not, he owed her everything anyway, etc.
      Many people could only see him as a ne'er do well, spoilt rigid by a mother "who should have turned him out". Many people are very stupid! But how Jack, who over and above all else adored his Mother, could have been so unable to be useful as a son, I shall never understand.
      After the war she would not go and live with him in 48 (the Whitlams had vanished when she lost her money). She "couldn't cope". I can understand the feeling, but it wasn't right. Still, without proper house help, perhaps nursing help, no, she couldn't. Families are complicated.

      Mother nearly died when Jack was born and the trauma of it made Dad hate the baby (briefly : Mum said to me "Can you imagine a man being so stupid?!)
      At the end of his life Jack said "I was never allowed to be a Hawke", but when I pointed out that, without Dad, all naturally revolved round Mum (who was so French) he agreed it was inevitable. And he did hate the Hawkes. The cousins were real thorn-in-flesh. Lorraine took pity on Selwyn, who always turned up at the wrong time in the wrong place, prone to stammer and always under everybody's feet. there was always an open fire in Mum's huge bedroom, and Lorraine and Molly May used the hearth as a good venue for whatever they were up to, and included Selwyn.

      Did you know that Jack was very musical? He played the (now your) piano with a touch that rivetted our music mistress once when she happened to be in the house as he magically rendered "The Rustle of Spring". "Who has that wonderful touch?" she asked me. He played drums at private dances, etc.

      I'm not telling you anything sensible about Jack. It is too difficult. After Whitgift he was sent to Malvern because there was a good engineering dept. but, because of the War (WWI) it was only making armaments. He absolutely loathed going away to school. I have seen his desperate letters to Cis. I imagine Dad must have thought it imperative to get him away from women (Mum and Auntie Wee and all) where adoring sympathy would wreck him permanently. So at Malvern he managed to catch pneumonia and only began to show hope of recovery after Mum arrived. That is why we all lived in that ghastly place for seven months. It is known for the peculiar misery it breeds. After he left I think no one knew what to make him aim for. And after Dad died there was no hope of authority.
      The Harveys of Fothergill & Harvey offered him a job. It was Dad's firm, clothiers, and in order to train him invited him to their workshops in Wales. Never have I seen him - or any young man - more high wide and wonderful than Jack then. He had got shot of school. And when he arrived chez boss of Dad's firm at Llandudno, they fell flat all round him, the senior Harvey treating him like a grandson, servants adoring. He joyously toured the works and learnt all he was there to learn. The Harvey grand-daughters (?) fell for him with outrageious enthusiasm: world at his feet. Then he came back. To work in Dad's office under Uncle Jim, who never spoke to him, never noticed him, left him to show initiative? or meant to be rid of him anyway? It was all failure from then on - but can one wonder?

      There is nothing "pretty awful" to tell you about Jack - nothing hushed up or never mentioned. The worst was when he grew so eccentric as he aged. In a sense he might have been a gentleman. Great-aunt Helen, one of Auntie Wee's half-sisters, wrote reprovingly to Mother "Gentlemen do not have jobs, Jenny"......!!! Agatha Christie wrote of her father who never did anything at all but was always so agreeable - and invited friends to dine. She considered agreeableness a very underworked virtue. But I think it requires unearned income for a start, perhaps? And it was never a characteristic of Jack's - just one of his many disguises. Jack hated the Whitlams, the woman with a son and a husband that Mum took up so disasterously the year I was in Switzerland. At times he would have liked to murder - but I think only Cis and I knew that.
      Once he was ill, and Lil Whitlam who was a good cook, to please Mum made him a special something and took it up four flights of stairs to his bedroom. She came down glowing "such a sweet boy". I never knew which astonished me most, her naïvité or his genius.
      Jack had a gift of deep understanding sympathy. I learnt a lot from him and loved him so much. But, try as I did, I could never belch quite as loud as he could, at will. When Wallace Beery famously did it on film, Pilly cried to Jack "Got you beat!" but Jack scathingly answered "Fool, HE has a microphone" When we surged round Pilly opening packet of fags, all wanting the cigarette card, Pilly said "How they flock around! I must be attractive." Jack said "Never seen a crowd round a nasty street accident?" One never had the last word.
      From boyhood his heart and soul were in the Hermitage and perhaps losing it (leaving it) was too much for someone so precariously balanced, so needing props. And he lost all his old friends, mostly so suddenly: Rollo, Ron Chapman, Midge, Gerry all dropped dead. Mother always believed her illness (peritonitis??) at his birth affected the child. She stated that as a medical fact. Does it mean anything?

      Jack's Allcorn friends in 1911 Census :
      Arthur William Allcorn Head Married Male 36 1875 Kent Tonbridge Commercial Traveller Confectionery
      Amy Allcorn Wife Married Female 37 1874 Essex Roxwell -
      Winifred Doris (Dod) Allcorn Daughter - Female 10 1901 Surrey Croydon -
      Marjorie (Midge) Allcorn Daughter - Female 5 1906 Surrey Croydon -

      Address 40 Broughton Road Thornton Heath Surrey