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'Reminiscences. English and Manx'

Date(s): 1908-1952

Creator(s): Sargeaunt, Bertram

Scope & Content: Typescript memoirs of Bertram Sargeaunt MVC CBE FSA up to the year 1944, written at his home Belmont, Isle of Man. The author describes his family and family connections, boyhood, moving to and living in Aberdeen and schooling (St Peter's and Bedford School, York). He covers his young adult life and circumstances which led to his long association with the Isle of Man where he held office as Government Secretary and Treasurer from 1910 until December 1943 in succession to Mr A H Story who had died. On arrival, 'I was fortunate in having John Hobson Aitken to assist me at Government Office. He was a charming man and a walking encyclopaedia on everything that had taken place at the Office during the previous half-century. The filing system, however was very inadequate. Hours of valuable time were lost in hunting for papers. Today the system is so complete that a file can usually be found within a minute or two of its being asked for' (p15).

The memoirs cover many topics including Sargeaunt's marriage and honeymoon (September 1910), visit of Lord Baden Powell and the Committee enquiriing about the constitution of the Isle of Man (1911), witnessing the Tourist Trophy races annually (p17), the visit of a French fisheries cruiser in July 1911 and news of a claim that the French Government claimed possession of certain fishing privileges on the Bahama Bank (p17), the impact on the Island of the August 1911 strike in Liverpool Docks and despatch of HMS Warrior to assist, witnessing the 1913 royal review of Merchant Navy vessels aboard 'Ben my Chree' on the river Mersey.

Sargeaunt recalls Lord and Lady Raglan, Bishop Drury, T Kneen, S Stevenson Moore, C Cheslyn Callow, George Ring, Reverend Hugh Taggart, Leigh Goldie-Taubman, George Drinkwater, assorted High Bailiffs, Canon John Kewley, Cyril Hughes-Games, D Maitland SHK, particular other MHKs and Chief Constable Lt Col H W Madoc among others.

Sargeaunt covers both World Wars in his recollections as well as the interwar years including various royal visits. The requisitioning of boarding houses in the Second World War he attributes to the lack of timber on the Island to build camps. Of his retirement in December 1943, marred by illness due to influenza, he writes, 'After having been such a long time at Government Office I found it very sad saying good-bye. Some of the staff had been there for over a quarter a century. They were an excellent team. I was sorry, too, to sever connection with my many friends in the Departments at Whitehall. I do not think the people of the Isle of Man realize how much they owe to Whitehall for the advice and help so willingly given at all times.'

For Sargeaunt's papers see MS 14818. For his photographs see PG/15398.

Administration / Biographical History: Bertram Edward Sargeaunt MVO, OBE was born at Saltwood, Kent on 4 December 1877. He was the second son of Captain Frederic Antony Sargeaunt RN (who served in the flagship in the Crimean War) and Alice Caroline, sister of Admiral of the Fleet, Lord 'Jacky' Fisher of Kilverstone GCB, OM, GCVO. Of Mr Sargeaunt's nine uncles, three served in the Royal Navy, three were Colonels in the Army and three served in the civil service.

Mr Sargeaunt was educated at Bedford School. In 1899 he was appointed to the staff of the Royal United Services Institution, Whitehall. He served as an officer in one of fhe volunteer battalions of the King's Royal Rifles and in 1908 when the Territorial Army was created was one of the first officers to be appointed to that Army.

In 1910 he took up the position of Government Secretary and Treasurer of the Isle of Man and served in this capacity during the Governorships of Lord Raglan, Sir William Fry, Sir Claude Hill, Sir Montague Butler and Earl Granville. When King George V and Queen Mary visited the Island in 1920 he was awarded the MVO. During the First World War Mr Sargeaunt had the responsibility of erecting and administering detention camps of 26,000 internees and was rewarded for his services by the award of the OBE. In the Second World War his extra duties until retirement included the administration of camps for 16,000 internees.

Mr Sargeaunt was a Church Commissioner for the Isle of Man and a Member of the Council of Church Union in London. He was a keen musician and represented the Royal Schools of Music in the Isle of Man. He was also a Trustee of the Manx Museum and edited the Journal of the Manx Museum for several years. He was an Officer of the Order of St John and was appointed a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1922 and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1976. He wrote numerous journal articles and his published works include 'Weapons', 'The Royal Monmouthshire Militia', 'The Isle of Man and the Great War', 'The Royal Manx Fencibles' and 'A Military History of the Isle of Man'.

On 14 September 1910 he married Kathleen Hamilton Thornewill of Craythorne, Burton on Trent at Stretton. The couple had one child, Fenella who married Captain N S Grant CBE DSC RN. His wife Kathleen died in 1962.

In 1943 Mr Sargeaunt retired from his position in the Isle of Man Government. In 1948 he wrote his memoirs up to the year 1944, at his home Belmont, Douglas.Isle of Man (see MS 14819). He died on 2 February 1978 aged 100 at his home in the village of Hurstpierpoint, Sussex..

Language: English

Extent: 1 file

Item name: memoirs

Collection: Manuscript Archive

Level: FILE

ID number: MS 14819

Record class: Private

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