A Thoughtful, Studious Man

A Fathers’ Day Tribute

John Lockhart Junior, February 1905- July 1987

(adapted and abridged from my family history book Tapestry)

My father, John Lockhart Junior, was born in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, in 1905, the third son of John and Georgina Greenfield Lockhart. My grandfather had grown up in London but, with his parents, emigrated to the Garden State in his teens. Georgina, related through common great-grandparents Andrew and Georgina Scott, left Edinburgh and sailed for Cape Town when she was orphaned at the age of seventeen. They married in 1901.

dad2When my father was still a child, the family decided to return to Great Britain and settle in Scotland. John Senior and Georgina had made a life for themselves in the colony. They were not without kin in their new country. The climate in Natal is pleasant; the summers are hot and sunny, the winters warm. Why would they give it all up for the uncertainty and relative poverty of cold, damp Scotland? Yet, had they not done so, I probably would not exist.

My father had almost no memories of South Africa. I cannot recall him ever speaking of life there. He was a thoughtful, studious man, not prone to emotional outburst. I can remember him giving way to anger only twice and, on both occasions, the provocation was extreme. However, I also remember seeing him many times reduced to helpless laughter to the point of tears as he joined in family games. He enjoyed a glass of wine but had an aversion to Scotch, not I think because of a temperance upbringing but because he disliked the taste. His formal schooling ended when he was fourteen but he went on to study at night school, as it was then called, gaining qualifications in business and accounting.

In middle age, he went back to night school to learn French and took singing lessons. In his spare time, he wrote poetry, plays and pantomime, some of it performed. He was fond of literature and would read anything from history, travel and the classics to detective thrillers. He also loved music and had a patient talent for passing on his knowledge and experience.

My father’s tastes and wide range of his interests are reflected in some of the books in my own library. A translation of Homer’s Odyssey in the original Greek metre, published in 1911, is still in  my possession. I now know that he inherited it from his father. It is a large, heavy book, with uncut pages and hard leather binding, now sadly showing its age. Another volume is a little-known work by Charles Dickens, The Life of our Lord, bound in blue leather with marbled end papers and having a foreword by the author’s daughter-in-law. Other books include Shaw’s Plays, leather-bound copies of Shelley’s Poems, Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress and works by Hardy, Stevenson and Scott. (My sister owns his Dickens novels.)

Religion was a subject on which my father and I often disagreed. His certainty over matters of faith was disturbing to a teenage boy intent on changing the world, yet he was a moderate Christian, even a progressive one compared with others of his generation. I must say however that he did not approve the more vigorous diversions of the local church youth club nor some of its extramural activities that were rites of passage into the adult world.

My father died in 1987 at Broxburn, West Lothian, Scotland. I’m sure he would have smiled at the coincidence which took him there, had he but known it. Broxburn is less than five miles from the Hopetoun Estate of Abercorn, where his maternal ancestors had lived and worked.

dad

Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad!

 

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