Archive / Papers / Chapman, Lady J. Papers


Donated by Lady Chapman.

Small Collections Box 6

Lady Chapman’s father (Captain H. Allcard) went out to India as a Public Works engineer in 1913 when she was five and served until 1915 in Sind, Quetta and Meerut. Between 1931 and 1933 Lady Chapman visited her brother-in-law and sister in Western India.

Xeroxed copy of letter from Lady Chapman’s maternal grandmother, Mrs Harry Molyneux Carter, to her daughter Beryl, describing their silver wedding preparations in Karachi in August 1896. 11 ff.

Memoir by Lady Chapman British India Recollected’:

This memoir is divided into two to correspond with the two phases of Lady Chapman’s Recollections. She explains that she grew up in a family with many Indian connections and mementos so it came as no surprise to be told as a child that the family were to go to India. Her memories of the first visit are vivid and detailed. She describes the preparations for the journey and the clothes that were selected for India. There is a full account of the journey out on the ‘India’ – an elderly ship plagued by ants. Descriptions follow of the bungalows in Sind, Quetta and Meerut and of the Chapmans’ life and outings. Her mother was particularly solicitous of the family’s health.

Lady Chapman considers the life of a Service ‘Memsahib’ before World War I was not entirely enviable. Few opportunities existed for the more intellectually able women who were often posted to remote stations where there were constant anxieties over family health. There were few contacts with ordinary Indians but the concept of racism, as known today, was not evident.

By 1931 there were considerable differences in the clothes that were taken to India and of routine on board the ship. Once in India, social life and mobility had improved because of the advent of the motor car and there was more mingling with Indians. Lady Chapman describes life and social events, such as horse racing, in Bombay and Poona. In summer visits were made to the hill station of Mahabaleshwar. Lady Chapman and her sister had a final season in a bungalow at Pali Hill, Bombay.

Lady Chapman concludes that in the 1930s the life of a Memsahib was very much easier than before and many women were able to return to their children in England during the summer. However for many who lived outside the big cities, life remained narrow, not to say idle. The attitudes of many Europeans towards Indians had not basically changed. 45pp.