The following story is my imagining of how my 2nd Great Grandfather William Henry Archer (1841-1920) may have proposed to his second wife, Catherine Carmichael Grayson (1873-1968). He was 61 and she was 30 when they married in 1902, so quite an age gap there! (Although Catherine scribbled over the number 30 and wrote 26 on the wedding certificate!). Catherine lived in Geelong for most of her life so I assume he met her there and took her back to Bundaberg. Here’s how I imagined his thoughts and conversation with her…
In the sunny drawing room of my host’s house in Geelong I sit, with my well-worn book of psalms. The verses serve me well in my darkest times, especially this past year after my poor Maria went home to the Lord. She deserved better. Forgive me Lord. I am tired and my bones ache. In all these years, no children came to bless us. No comfort for this old man.
For a few years now, I have encountered Miss Grayson. With a pot of tea, she steps in quietly.
So happy to see you again Miss Grayson. That womanly smell. Oh, good grief.
Dark curls peek from under her bonnet. Good Day Mr Archer, Sir. I trust you are having a pleasant stay?
Oh of course! I am always received so warmly here.
A smile plays on her thin lips.
Shall this be the time to ask? Yes, she’s quite plain, and a housemaid, but she is always so pleased to see me.
How old are you my dear? Rude of me perhaps but I must know.
Twenty – Five, says she, clasping her small hands together. My goodness, I am more than twice her age!
Miss Grayson, you have seen me now a few times. Did you know that my dear wife passed less than a year ago? God rest her soul.
She focuses on me, with her deeply set dark eyes.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start again? Shaking, I hold out my right hand towards her.
This is a photograph of their wedding in 1902. The quality of the photo is not great, however it shows William H Archer seated with Catherine the bride on the right with her hand on his shoulder. I’m not 100% sure who the other people are but I think his great niece Laurie is standing back left and it looks like his sister Elizabeth Archer Young is seated at the right next to Catherine. William and Catherine went on to have my Great Grandfather William Henry Archer (Bon) the next year. He was their only much loved child.