John Charles Beswick’s Philips’ London School-Board Atlas
Whilst research was being made for the Irish Heritage Trust publications Aspects of Fota, a very kind donation of archival material was made by a gentleman in England who had connections to the Beswick family. The Beswicks lived and worked on the estate around the turn of the 19th/20th century, William Beswick (b.1854) being Head Gardener.
Among the items donated is a school atlas which belonged to their youngest son, John Charles Beswick, born in Cork on the 8th October 1888. His name is inscribed and stamped on the title page of the book, published in 1901. Apart from being an interesting document in itself, where one can see the Ireland of 1901 with its then major rail and high ways, the atlas is part of a collection of items pertaining to Charles. These items include a copy of his birth certificate, a photograph of him in his Lieutenant’s uniform during WW1, and most sadly, a letter dated 19th April 1917 to his parents with the opening lines ‘Am just about to go into action leading my platoon. With God’s help shall return safely – then if not, I shall do my duty to the very best of my ability.’ Charlie never returned home – in the same month he was wounded at Cambrai (Northern France) and died in a German field hospital, aged 26. We have a copy of his obituary from a newspaper clipping.
At the time of the outbreak of WW1, Charles was studying Botany at Kew Gardens, on the Thames just outside London. He was following in the same glorious profession as his father.
Fota is very fortunate to have items such as photographs, letters, diaries, inventories and other personal possessions in its collection – all adding to the web of information in telling its story.