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MEMORIES OF MY POLLITT AND GRIFFIN GRANDPARENTS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS

An extract from the above private publication, with the kind permission of June's son, Tony Cope who is my 4th cousin.

My grandfather Alfred Griffin, who married my grandmother Georgina Barlow, was an interesting man. Short of stature, with large brown eyes, he was an old man when I knew him, but even then I remember a party at his home where my Grandfather, who played the fiddle well, got up and danced a jig. On my Mother’s birth certificate, dated 9 June 1888, her father Alfred Griffin of Stafford Road, St Helens, is described as an Estate Agent.

Clearly he had an artistic side to his nature which was allowed to flower. He opened a photographic studio in St Helens and took some excellent photos. And certainly he was a man of many parts. He believed that world peace could be better achieved if people could understand one another and, inspired by this, was active in the movement to spread Esperanto. I have a photograph of my Mother aged sixteen, in Lucerne in Switzerland where she had been taken by her father to attend a conference on Esperanto. He brought Pitman to tour the North of England introducing shorthand to enable women to be independent wage earners. 

A supporter of the feminist movement, he fought for the passing of the Married Women’s Property Act. Concerned for the security of workers, he worked for the Trades Union movement. And during the depression of the early 1900s, he bought sacks of potatoes and in his kitchen made a great boiler of soup daily to feed men, women and their children who had no money due to unemployment. 

Musical, lively, a man of many interests and a concern for others, I suspect that he might have been subject to depressions. My Mother used to tell me how her mother Georgina Griffin used to tell her brood of children, “Don’t bother your father today, he’s having his period” which showed a certain sang froid, to coin a phrase, for a Victorian wife. 

My last memory of him as an old man was to find him sitting alone in an armchair in his sitting room by an empty grate. I was a little girl and his shiny bald head lured me into picking up a hearth brush and gently brushing his head with it. He got a fright and so did I!

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