North Street, Newry, County Down

North Street, Newry, County Down
North Street, Newry, County Down

Sunday, 4 December 2022

May Teresa Biddulph [1879-1925]

May Teresa Biddulph was born on the 29th of May 1879 in St. Kilda’s, Parsonstown, now Birr, County Offaly.  She was the 13th child of Francis Edward Biddulph and Annabella Kennedy, and had two sisters close to her in age, Amy, born in 1875 and Beatrice Anne Biddulph, born in 1880.

Before she married, May visited India, to stay with her brother Nicholas (Nick) who had married Marion Warburton in Poona in 1894. She wrote a graphic account of ‘How I shot my first tiger’ some extracts from which are included here.

At noon on Christmas Day, we got khubber (news) that a tiger had killed a buffalo near a village between two and three miles from our camp, so N. and Mr D. started off at once to make arrangements for a shoot. They came back about 3 p.m. having had a machan, or platform, put up in a tree just over the carcase of the buffalo. Mr. D. and I then tossed as to who should sit up with N. in the machan; I gave him my lucky Jubilee sovereign to toss with, and, much to my delight, won the toss. About 3.30 p.m. N. and I started off on an elephant for the scene of the action…

…after about half an hour’s wait, sitting so still that I could even hear my heart beat, we heard the tiger coming stealthily along…he came around behind my back and then stopped right under our tree; then he walked slowly out  into a little glade, where N. could get a good view of him, but I could not get my rifle round without making a noise, and as the animal seemed to think something had been altered about the place since morning, and was turning round as if to go into the jungle again, M. fired , and rolled her over by a good shot in the back of the neck. I then stood up, and as she rolled her head around gave her a shot right in the throat, then another where N. had hit her. She roared loudly as each shot hit her, and of course was mortally wounded, and would have died if left alone, but as we wanted to get off her machan before it got quite dark, and we could not shout to the men to come up till we were quite sure the beast was dead, N. gave her a last shot, after which she roared no more, but succumbed to her fate.

We came back to camp on the elephant, arriving about 7.30 in good time for dinner, and the tiger was brought soon after. She was a beautiful tigress, measuring 8ft 2in., and had such a magnificent winter coat. The fur was about 2 inches long and very thick; it will be lovely skin when cured…

…Our ride home through the jungle was a bit jumpy, as there are several more tigers about, and we only had a lantern to show the way, and that seemed to make the pitch darkness and dense jungle all around even more intense….the natives were very pleased, and came in crowds the next day to see the tiger and salaam to the memsahib who had shot him, as they are always delighted when a tiger is killed.[1]

May was a keen cyclist. Her name appears in an account of the Bog of Allen Club Bicycle Gymkhana which took place in July 1897. She was clearly an enthusiast of the bicycling craze which swept America and Europe at this time and promised greater freedom for women.

The Annual Gymkhana, promoted by the Bog of Allen Club, came off successfully at Oldtown, Naas, in tropical weather, and in the presence of a large and fashionable concourse of spectators. The Band of the 5th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers played a fine selection of music during the afternoon, under the baton of Mr. Colvet.

She took part in the Hallow Eve Race (for Pairs) with Rev. L. Fletcher, and also in the Bending Race (for Ladies). Her sister Bea also took part in the Bending Race.

The final race of the day was a One-legged Race (Ladies and Gentlemen). It’s not known if either May or Bea took part.[2]

So it was no surprise when May married Charles Francis Pease who was ‘a well known Irish cyclist’. He was the son of Charles Clifford Pease of Hesslewood, Yorkshire.

Like her sister Amy, eight years earlier, May was married in St. George’s Church, Belfast in 1904 to Charles Francis Pease.[3]

Pease and Biddulph - March 26, at St. George's Church , Belfast, by the Reverend H.D. Murphy, D.D., Charles Pease, Lieutenant Royal Garrison Regiment, only son of the late   Captain Clifford Pease Oxfordshire Light Infantry, to May Teresa, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Francis E. Biddulph, late 19th Regiment, of Marie Lodge, Dalkey. No cards.[4]

May and Charlie had two children, Ellen Marion Pease b. 1905 in Dublin and Francis Kennedy Pease b. 1908 in Great Connell, Newbridge, County Kildare, then the British Cavalry Barracks.

Pease - February 13th, at Great Connell, Newbridge, the wife of C. Pease, Lieutenant North Lancashire Regiment, of a son.

Early in 1915, May and Amy, together with their parents Annabella and Francis, and four of their children, travelled to Queenstown for a short holiday. May’s brother Hugh who served with the Connaught Rangers, was stationed on Spike Island with his wife Violet. On the 7th of May, the Lusitania, a passenger ship, was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Cork with the loss of many lives. All four women helped the survivors as they were brought in and Annabella is said to have run around administering measures of brandy.  May was later rewarded for her efforts.

Mrs Charles Pease, who is the daughter of Colonel Biddulph, 'Marie Lodge’ Dalkey, and wife of Capt. Pease, champion cyclist, and at present fighting in the Cameroons, has just been made the recipient of a beautifully-finished and costly gold bangle, modelled in the form of a life belt, as a token of appreciation for the valuable services she rendered to Lusitania survivors in Queenstown. With her father she was staying at the Queen’s Hotel, Queenstown, and it was her fate to witness the pathetic scenes in connection with the great disaster. Trained in the Meath Hospital, Mrs Pease is a skilled nurse and she devoted herself to succouring the sufferers untiringly. Three days of such superhuman work almost broke her down. She returned to Dalkey and it was there the anonymous gift inscribed, ‘To Mrs Pease, for her kindness, from a few survivors of the Lusitania,’ reached her. She is most anxious to impress on her generous donors that it is not she alone but other ladies who shared her labours who are entitled to any thanks she may merit.[5]

Her sister-in-law, Violet Biddulph (nee Martyn), also received the gift of a watch.

There was more bad news to follow, as May’s husband Charlie Pease was wounded in West Africa.

Famous Cyclist Wounded. The friends of Lieut. Charles Pease, the well-known Irish cyclist, will regret to learn that he has been severely wounded in the arm in the Cameroons. Lieut. Pease belongs to the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, but has been serving recently with the West African Regiment, which is composed of natives led by white officers. Lieut. Pease is known as the British Empire and Irish Cycling Champion and holder of numerous racing records.[6]

At first he appeared to recover from his wounds.

Captain Charles Pease, the Irish cycling champion, who is well known in Belfast, has recovered from the wounds he received in the Cameroons early in the year, and has left for Sierra Leone to rejoin the West African Frontier Forces. During his leave Capt and Mrs Pease paid a visit to Belfast friends. Captain Pease is well known in Ballymena, and several of his Irish cycling record performances were made on ‘Ireland’s only’ cement track at the Ballymena Recreation Grounds.[7]

But in 1916, in a letter to Amy from Mill Cottage, Fermoy, Francis tells her that Charlie Pease is ill.

He died on the 22nd of October 1919, at 19, The Avenue, Blackheath, according to a newspaper report.

Pease – on the 22nd inst (suddenly), at 20 Montpelier Row, Blackheath, London, Capt. Charles Pease, 1st Batt. Loyal North Lancs. Regt., aged 42.[8]

He had met with an accident on the 13th of October,  when he sustained abrasions and concussion, and had been treated at the Miller Hospital.

At the inquest in Greenwich on Saturday, Dr. Townsend of New Eltham, attributed death to heart failure, and meningitis, accelerated by the fall. A verdict of “accidental death” was recorded. A brother-in-law said the deceased officer served during the war, and was gassed, and since then his heart had been affected.[9]

He is buried in Charlton Cemetery, London.[10]

May married again in 1921. Her second husband was Walter Angus Campbell of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Born in 1886 in Kohat, on the North West Frontier, he was seven years younger than May, and had suffered serious injury in the First World War being left for dead. His injuries caused him to have a metal plate in his head, and he had seizures. He had been treated in Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital, Millbank, London.

The wedding took place in St. Jude’s Church, Southsea, where May’s parents had gone to live in 1917. Her father, Francis, was no longer living, but a photograph of the wedding shows that many of the Biddulph family were present.

Mrs Campbell made a charming bride. She was robed in a gown of grey crepe-de-chine and ninon, and wore a picture hat of black lace, with veil d’or. She was given away by her brother, Major Biddulph, late of the Connaught Rangers, and was supported as maids-in-waiting by her daughter (Miss Ellen Pease), her niece (Miss Sheila Biddulph), and the bride-groom’s niece (Miss Pamela Mackintosh). They were daintily gowned in pink crepe-de-chine, with pale blue sashes and picture hats. Their bouquets were the gift of the bridegroom. Miss Nellie FitzGerald was prevented from attending as maid-in-waiting, owing to injuries unfortunately received in a motor accident the previous afternoon. The duties of best man were performed by the bridegroom’s brother, Captain Campbell, E. Surrey Regiment.

A reception was afterwards held at the residence of the bride’s mother, Mrs Biddulph, 46 Shaftesbury-road, Southsea. The hostess was charmingly gowned in a confection of black satin and mauve crepe-de-chine. The many handsome presents included a number of cheques. The ladies-in-waiting were presented with handsome wristlet watches by the bridegroom. The happy pair departed for a Continental honeymoon amidst showers of rice and confetti.

Among the guests we noticed – Bishop Ingham, D.D.;  Inspector-General R. Biddulph, R.N., and Mrs Biddulph; Major and Mrs H. W. Biddulph, Mrs FitzGerald, Capt and Mrs Mateer, Miss Campbell, Miss A. Campbell, Miss G. Campbell, Mrs Mackintosh, Revd and Mrs Langdon and Miss Langdon, Commander Drought, R.N.; Captain Court R.N., and Mrs Court; Captain Stenhouse R.N.,; Captain and Mrs Sparks, Lieut.-Colonel N. T. Biddulph, the bride’s brother, was unavoidably absent, being abroad at present.[11]

Notable among the guests was Captain J. R. Stenhouse.

Commander Joseph Russell Stenhouse, DSO, OBE, DSC, RD, RNR (1887–1941) was a Scottish-born seaman, Royal Navy Officer and Antarctic navigator, who commanded the expedition vessel SY Aurora during her 283-day drift in the ice while on service with the Ross Sea Party component of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914–17. After Aurora's escape from the ice he brought her safely to New Zealand, but was thereafter replaced as the vessel's commander. He later served with distinction in the Royal Navy during both World Wars.[12]

Francis Pease, May’s son, sailed with Captain Stenhouse.

The Captain of the Discovery, J R Stenhouse, who had served with Shackleton, and being a relation of Pease secured Pease a place in the crew.

Pease himself had met Shackleton as a schoolboy and wrote “I, myself, had met Shackleton. It was years before, when I was a boy, aged 15, a pupil of St. Helen's College, South Sea and I had had the great privilege of been presented to him. He was then just departing on one of his expeditions to the Antarctic. It was he who first inspired me with desire for Polar Exploration. Looking at him I thought how wonderful, it would be to be a man like him.”[13]

May died on the 20th November 1925, in Alassio, Italy.

Campbell - On November 20th, suddenly, from acute peritonitis, at Alassio, Italy, May Theresa, wife of Major Walter Angus Campbell, and daughter of the late Lieut.-Col. F. E. Biddulph, of Fortal, King's County, and Marie Lodge, Dalkey, Ireland.[14]

A photograph of her grave has a note on the reverse: Poor May's grave beside the grave with the cross. June 1927.

Walter Campbell died many years after May, in 1963, in Norfolk, England.

[1]Newspaper cutting source unknown.

[2] The Irish Times July 19, 1897.

[3] 1904 Jan/Mar Marriage Belfast May Theresa [GRO 1 257]

[4]  Newspaper cutting source unknown.

[5] Wicklow News-letter and County Advertiser 12 June 1915.

[6] The Irish Times, Saturday, June 26, 1915.

[7] Ballymena Weekly Telegraph 18 December 1915

[8] Lancashire Evening Post 25 October 1919

[9] Kentish Independent 31 October 1919

[10] Charlton, Royal Borough of Greenwich, Greater London, England Plot 2 C." J. 316.

[11] News-cutting source unknown

[12] Wikipedia


[14] News cutting source unknown.