Thomé Ariste BOISSARD Joan Mary BOISSARD Guy Peter Bartholomew BOISSARD Nelson Valdemar LINKLATER Robin Valdemar LINKLATER Duncan Melville LINKLATER Violet Agatha MELVILLE treeI2.gif

Margaret Lilian BOISSARD

also known as Peggy BOISSARD

also known as Margaret Lilian LINKLATER

6th Oct 1916 - 21st Aug 2003

Life History

6th Oct 1916

Born

31st Jul 1944

Married Nelson Valdemar LINKLATER in St Stephen and St Mawnon, Cornwall

4th May 1945

Birth of son Robin Valdemar LINKLATER

10th Apr 1948

Birth of son Duncan Melville LINKLATER in York, England

19th Oct 1997

Death of Nelson Valdemar LINKLATER in Oxford

21st Aug 2003

Died

[img src="images/small/pjg1917.jpg" width="450" height="271" alt="Peg, Jo, Guy and nurses ca 1917" /]

Peggy, the youngest of three children born to Tomé Ariste BOISSARD and his wife Violet Agatha née Melville (always known as 'Shuffle'), was born, according to her birth certificate, at El Salto, Escuintla, Guatemala. Her father, described as a “planter” had a finca in Guatemala called ‘Mauricio’ at a place called Palin on which he grew sugar. In the above photo, taken around 1917, Peggy is the one being held. They had a nanny who was known as ‘Nenen’ of whom Peggy always spoke very fondly. ‘Nenen’'s proper name was Roselda, and she is seen here standing on the left. Her husband, Evariste, also had a nick-name; ‘Cucul’. Although it seems he spent most of his time in the sugar plantation, he was apparently also a fine cook and on high days and holidays, especially if a fancy tiered cake was required, the cry went up for “Evariste!” from the older generation or “Cucul!” from the younger. Roselda and Evariste may have been with the family in Mauritius before moving with them to Guatemala.

There was also a cat.

[img src="images/small/pegandcat.jpg" width="450" height="646" alt="Peg and Cat" /]

I only came across this photo when Peg was in her 80's. When she saw it, it evidently evoked memories as clear as yesterday as she straight away said that the cat was wrapped in a towel to stop it scratching her legs. She must have been about 3 or 4 years old at the time the photo was taken.

Peggy's paternal grandmother always stated firmly that she was French whereas Peggy's grandfather as well as her father insisted they were British - this in spite of the fact that Peggy always referred to her grandparents as Grandmère and Grandpère, which of course is English for ‘a French grandmother’ and ‘a French grandfather’. The Anglophile tendency prevailed and all the children were sent to boarding school in England as was common among ex-pats in Guatemala at the time. In Peggy's case that meant to a prep-school in Malvern then to Malvern School for Girls. While Peg, Guy and Jo were still at school their father Tomé died comparatively young in about 1928. The vfinca was managed in their absence by ‘Uncle Bill’, Edwin (known as ‘Teddy’) Melville, their mother's (Shuffle's) brother. It seems that during their remaining time at school and subsequent training in their various professions, income from the finca helped meet some of the family's expenses.

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Apart from playing lacrosse, Peggy ‘matriculated’ around 1934 and wanted to go to Oxford and become a teacher but fell foul of her headmistress, Miss Brook, who swore she would see to it that Peggy never got a place. What exactly was at the bottom of this alleged animosity was never made clear. Brother Guy suggested as an alternative that Peggy take up nursing, and so it was that Peggy decided that if she could not have charge of children's minds then she could at least take care of their bodies and embarked on her basic training at Great Ormonde Street Children's hospital.

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She must have qualified around 1936 and started work. However, things did not go entirely smoothly. Feathers were ruffled, hackles were raised, there was a great stabbing of backs; “scandalous allegations” were made concerning Peggy, which were promptly relayed by her to her mother. Apparently, though not easily aroused, when goaded into action, Shuffle was a force to be reckoned with. Traipsing half way round the globe with three children in tow cannot have been a push-over. Now on a war footing, along with the rest of Europe, Shuffle sailed into action and apparently had a massive row with the authorities at Great Ormonde Street - which helped to the extent that Peggy became a secretary!

I think Peggy jumped rather than was pushed into secretarial training (see later) but in any event her training as a short-hand typist was to stand her in good stead. A year or so before the outbreak of the Second World War Shuffle decided to revisit Guatemala with Peggy. The trip was, it seems, principally intended to tidy up any loose ends and to hand over the finca on a permanent basis to ‘Teddy’ Melville. Whether any money passed hands I do not know. It would seem very unlikely that some did not, but whether it did or did not the vfinca certainly remained partly theirs until the early 1950s when Pat Murray of Murray Beith and Murray saw through the final buy-out. It was Peg's share of the proceeds that partly enabled her and Dick to buy their first house. But that is to get ahead.

Peg and Shuffle returned to England shortly before the war and, although Peggy was apparently offered private nursing work by or through Great Ormonde Street, the allure of the qwerty keyboard seemed irresistible. And in any case, it was time to sort out Herr Hitler.

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To that end she joined the WRNS and trained as a cypher clerk at Chatham. She was then promoted to ‘codes’ which eventually led to her being posted to Falmouth. It was while serving there that she met and eventually married ‘Dick’ Linklater who was also stationed there at the time. The manner of their courtship may owe something to Dick's theatrical training and knowledge of ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream.’ Rather than through a hole in a wall however, they exchanged messages through a hole in the floor - or ceiling, depending on your view point. They resorted to this bizarre method to avoid gossip and were so successful that the Admiral, who prided himself on knowing everything that was going on, was apparently ignorant that any ‘negotiations’ were afoot until presented with a fait accomplis by their engagement. Being a good loser he none-the-less agreed to ‘give Peg away’ in the absence of her father, who was by that time of course otherwise engaged with Beelzebub.

But before all that there was evidently plenty of time to enjoy oneself. Here for example is bay watch nineteen thirties style. Peggy is second from the left.

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But if you would rather see the bawds without [a href="images/small/3nudes.jpg" rel="lightbox"]without[/a] their boards take a look! But be warned; this image contains adult material. Both the original prints I have are very poor alas.

Peggy gets a mention in a mysterious ‘book’ from which Dick copied and preserved a number of references to his own wartime service. Peggy crops up as follows; I was living in rooms a short distance from the office and Dick joined me thus furthering our friendship. His work load was considerable as he was responsible for issuing Confidential Books to both R.N. and U.S.N. Ships and Establishments throughout the Command. Also serving on the Admiral's Staff was Second Officer Peggy Boissard WRNS of a talented family, who hailed from Guatemala where her Father had a plantation. They fell in love and were married on 31st July 1944. I was thus left on my own and moved to Church Farm, near Budock Water 2 miles approx. distant from Falmouth. Living was good with plenty of eggs, Cornish Cream etc. and kind hosts. I bicycled up and down steep hills, partly on church paths, but when the Admiral and I were working late, he insisted that I be taken back by service transport, a procedure which worried the Maintenance Captain to no avail.

A newspaper notice stated that “on 31 July 1944 at the Church of St Stephen and St Mawnon, Cornwall, Sub-Lt N.V. Linklater R.N.V.R... [married] ...Margaret Lilian Boissard...” She had two sons; Robin, born at Barry in Glamorgan in 1945 and myself, Duncan in case you have not had the pleasure, born in York in 1948. I am not sure why Robin was born in Glamorgan (or why I was born in York!) but the war being nearly over, and the couple being basically homeless, Peggy I think probably went to Glamorgan because her sister Jo was by that time working there and recommended her ‘quack’ to Peggy. From Glamorgan Peggy then lived in Norfolk for a month or two with the infant Robin while Dick, recently demobbed, looked for a job which ultimately led to their settling in York for a year or two at ‘Tranby Croft’, The Avenue, Clifton, York where I think they were lodgers.

From York Peggy and family moved to 636, Wollaton Road, Nottingham, around 1949 when Dick began work for the Regional Arts Council. It was this property which I think they were enabled to buy partly with the proceeds from settlemnt of the finca. When Dick's job moved him to London the family moved first to a house called ‘Long Waters’ in Dorney, on the Thames, for about 6 years. During that time Dick's parents joined them in the house, moving there from Wallasey, near Liverpool. Peggy's father in law, ‘Dum’, was by then quite an old man, going blind and in poor health, and he died in 1955 while they were still in Dorney.

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The next move was to 102 King's Road, Windsor in about 1955 where they stayed for the next 18 years. The house had a clear view across the Long Walk towards the Mausoleum at Frogmore and was immediately to the left of the view shown and two doors up from the pub, The Prince Albert, which clearly did not have the same connotations as it does nowadays or the pub sign might have been more remarkable than it was. With both her sons now in private schools, (and working really hard!) Peg took to the keyboard again, starting with secretarial work mainly at schools before settling for a while at the Berkshire Education Office. Eventually, giving Miss Brook her come-uppance, she decided if you can't beat them you might as well join them so the poacher then turned game-keeper and trained as a teacher at East Hampstead College when she was in her late forties. For most of the remainder of her working life Peggy was a state primary teacher mainly in schools in or near Windsor.

Prior to Dick's retiring they made one more move to get away from the increasingly tedious numbers of low-flying aircraft on the flight path to Heathrow laden with tourists who, no sooner landed, seemed to head straight for the pavements of Windsor. Looking for a smaller house with a bigger garden they bought a bigger house with a smaller garden with the uninspiring name of 1 Church Close giving no hint to the fact that the house was a Grade II listed building of brick and half timber in the picturesque village of East Hagbourne. 1 Church Close is the property immediately in front of the church tower.

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In spite of the house only having a small garden, it gave Peg ample scope to indulge in one of her two main obsessions. In fact it might be said that Peggy became a manic gardener, her energy and enthusiasm for turning the sod knowing no bounds. Her other obsession, especially after Dick's death, was with her little dog Shandy. She was always fond of animals of all sorts - although strangely leery about cows which she would avoid if at all possible, using the dog as her main excuse. But her care of Shandy bordered on the obsessional - which was as it should be as Shandy was a boarder terrier. Here Peggy can be seen indulging in both her favourite things - well ok, there's not much gardening actually going on but plenty of evidence that it has been.

pegshandy4.jpg

In fact we had dogs for almost as long as I can remember. In the first instance they were always poodles, a much maligned breed done no favours by stupid owners giving them ridiculous hairdos. We had poodles because Dick's sister, Doris, was a breeder who specialised in toy poodles. We always had ‘normal’ sized ones, whatever they are cooled, not the large ‘standard’ variety. Care of these dogs fell largely on Peg who was a willing victim to the extent that I cannot think of our poodles without the image of Peg clipping and grooming them coming to mind. This picture says it all.

image of peg in river

After Dick's death it became apparent that Peg was unable to take care of herself properly and she came to live with us for a while until the inevitable move into a care home. I asked her once what she called her own father, whom she cannot have known well as he died when Peg was about ten and away at school in England. She astonished me by saying “Dick.” I said something like “no, no, that was my father; but what did you call your father?” She insisted on Dick which I put down to general confusion. But then we had a vsit from a very old family friend, Sandra Smith, daughter of Owen Smith and niece of John Smith who had recently written and had published a history of his family. This is what John Smith wrote about Tomé.

“Aristide (Dick) Boissard died of cancer in December 1928. Originally from the Island of Mauritius, he had gained experience in the growing of sugar cane and had been contracted by Chalmers, Guthrie and Co. to work at the sugar mill Ingenio El Salto in Escuintla. Like Gordon [Smith, John’s brother] he had also acquired a finca, a small cane finca near Escuintla, which he christened ‘Mauricio’. He left his widow Violet Melville with three young children to educate and only a small income. She finally moved to England where she taught at Malvern Girl’s School, got her children well educated (with financial help from Gordon for Guy’s education) and lived a long life near Cambridge.” [John Gordon Smith: ‘Finca Moca’ (2003) p. 46]

Peg's ashes were scattered in the same place as Dick's in the churchyard of St Andrew's, East Hagbourne and both are remembered in an inscription on some stone steps that my brother and I installed in the south-eastern corner of the churchyard by way of sneaking in an unofficial monument, the churchyard no longer being used for burials which take place some distance away on a rather dispiriting corporation plot.

IMAGE of steps