My parents

My parents were married in 1888. Mother was Asst. Matron at the Hemel Hempstead Convalescent Home where her eldest sister was Matron and my Father, Arthur John Hubbard. M.D. was the visiting consultant. They became engaged on Tuesday, 10th Jan. 1888, and Married on Tuesday 10th July 1888. Mother has told me that during the whole period of their married life, those two dates have never again coincided on Tuesdays. My Father was born on the 7th Nov. 1856 and died on 3rd. Feb. 1935. While he was proposing to Mother in the Dispensary at the Hospital he was exceedingly nervous and was fidgeting all the time with one of the drug jars. Later on Mother annexed this jar, and it is still in my possession, holding a collection of precious and semi-precious stones which she brought back with her from South Africa, from the Vaal River.

My parents' children

Their first child was a daughter, born 27th April 1889. She was to have been called Mary Waddington, but the birth was so difficult and protracted that she was stillborn. Mother contracted the dreaded puerperal fever, and her life hung in the balance for months. Despite Father’s best efforts, and it must be remembered that by this time anaesthetics and antiseptics were in common use, though penicillin and the antibiotics were still unknown, she was desperately ill for a very long time, and it was feared that she would never be able to have any more children.

However my eldest brother, the Rev. John Waddington Hubbard was born on 15th Jan. 1896, amid much rejoicing. He (Jack) was a gentle amenable boy, extremely brainy and intellectual, and he and I were always, and have always remained, the greatest of friends.

My second brother, the Rev. George Edward Hubbard was born the 31st July 1897. George was not put too fine a point on it a perfect little devil, disobedient and utterly perverse, and how Mother ever coped with him I cannot imagine.

The only daughter (myself) Frances Ann Hubbard, was born on the 6th of Dec. 1899.

My youngest brother, Arthur Benoni Hubbard, was born on the 20th Jan.1901. Ben was a Mongol, but a very “High-grade” one. I spent a great deal of my childhood in looking after him and eventually taught him to read and write. hen I eventually went to boarding school at the age of 13, Mother could no longer cope with him, and they flatly refused to send him into an Institution. He was sent to live with the widow of a clergyman, and Mother would only have him home during my school holidays, so that I could look after him. He died at the age of 44.


During the time we lived at Ealing we saw very little of Father. He had built up a very prosperous practice in the West End and was away all day, only getting home after we were all in bed. We only saw him for couple of hours on Sunday afternoons. He retired in 1910 when we left Ealing and went to Little Dean, Gloucestershire, and he and I became devoted to each other. I had much more of the mentality and temperament of his family than of my Mother’s, though I was so like her in face.

My Husband

On August 22nd 1933 I married Arthur Cecil Roper (“Doc”). He was the brother of a college friend of mine, and when she first introduced us in 1920 our dislike of each other was instant, mutual and intense. Many years later I learned that he had told her not to bring "That tow - headed chatterer” (me) near him” and to myself I always though of him as “that great, rough bear”. We lost sight of each other for the next nine or ten years, but when we eventually met once more, it was another three years before we realised that we were right for each other and have now been blessed with 42 years of superbly happy life. We have no children.

Doc was born 14th June 1890 , and comes of a very old and interesting family. His Father was cousin of Lord Teynham, and was for many years heir to the title and estates. When at last an heir in the direct line was born, he relinquished his heritage with the utmost relief. The name Musard was the original name of the family, and from this is derived the name Miserden, a village on the Cotswolds. In the grounds of Miserden House is a very large mound which obviously covers the original castle, for on a visit there we found roofing stones amid the grass and leaf mound at the top of the mound. An ancestor at the time of William Rufus must have been a most ferocious swashbuckler, for he gained the soubriquet of  “de Rubra Spatha” (of the red sword). The name Roper is derived from this. The spatha is the huge double-handed sword, as distinct from the Gladius which was the short sword normally worn on the hip. One of the same family married Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas (now Saint) More, who wrote the life of More. The name Roper has nothing to do with ropes or rope-making. The name Musard means “the Dreamer”, and Doc has inherited these genes, for he is a prolific and most unusually interesting dreamer.


All the Vizard sisters had the most glorious heads of hair. As a child my Mother’s hair was so thick that she often had chinks cut out of it, as it was believed at the time that too much hair “took your strength”. Aunt Wese in particular had the most wonderful hair, golden in colour and very curly. Of course they all had to wear their hair in the Victorian fashion, with centre parting and pinned up into a tremendous bun of plaits at the back, the two sides being brushed flat. Aunt Wese was in constant trouble with her Father about her hair. He considered curls frivolous and “worldly”, and was constantly sending her up to her room to brush her hair down flat. She would dampen the brush and do her utmost to flatten it, but of course directly it dried it curled as much as ever, and she was in trouble all over again. The Vizard hair has the curious property of never going grey. Even in her old age Aunt Wese’s hair never went a true grey and still showed traces of its early gold. Mother’s hair was much darker than mine, but even at her death at the age of 80 it hardly had more than a sprinkling of grey. My own hair gets its very fair colouring from my Father’s family (Hubbards) but in thickness and fineness of texture it comes from my Mother’s family.

Although at the time of writing this, I am 75 years of age, my hair is almost exactly the same colour as it has been ever since my childhood. As a child it was extremely beautiful, being very long and curly and a clear gold. I believe Mother was very proud of it but was so afraid that I should become vain of it that she never gave me the slightest hint about it, except that she would never have it cut or plaited. I crew up hating my hair, which was always getting terribly tangled and was a perfect pest to keep properly brushed, While I was at school during the 1914 1918 war, “bobbed” hair was coming in and all my contemporaries were having theirs off. Over and over again I begged Mother to let me have mine off, but was invariably met with a stonewall refusal, with no explanation. The natural result was that, as soon as I became 21 and thus attained my majority, the first thing I did was to go and have my hair off. I shall never forget the feeling of lightness and relief on being able to get rid of all the pins and combs which I had had to use to keep it “up”. I was studying pharmacy in London at the time, and when I wrote and told Mother what I had done, she refused to have me at home for my holidays for a long time. If she had told me that she took so much pride in the beauty of my hair I should not have become vain - it was too much of a nuisance for that, but I should have been more ready to fall in with her wishes. Mother’s hair was much darker than mine though she had the same blue eyes and very fair, close-grained skin that I have inherited from her, and to the day of her death she was almost unwrinkled, though of course she had the usual nose to mouth laughter lines.

Piano Playing

Mother was extremely musical and an excellent pianist, though she had never been professionally trained. She started to teach the piano while I was still so small that the piano stool had to be turned to its highest limit, and a very thick book placed on top, in order that my tiny hands could be in the right position. I had to do five finger exercises with a penny on the back of my hand, and it must be remembered that these were the real old, large pennies, not the miserable little metric "pence" in use today. Her teaching was so good that when I went to a large boarding school at the age of 13, I was the only one in the Junior house to be put with the Senior Music mistress. However she was very quick tempered and taught in a very florid style, and she frightened me so much that on my first holidays Mother found that my playing had deteriorated so badly that she acceded to my request to be put with the Junior Music mistress, who was young and pretty and gentle, and very kind to me. Under her tuition my playing rapidly recovered, and she also gave me lessons on the School Chapel Organ, at which she was the Organist. As a child I well remember the thrill when my fingers at last became long enough to compass an octave, though they eventually lengthened to such an extent that one note over the octave was my natural span, and I could hold down two notes over.

I loved the piano as much as Mother did, and inherited much of her gift, and was never tired of practising while at home. In fact I became so good that I was nearly up to Concert Standard by the time I was in my early twenties, though I never had the professional training that my cousin, Pats Carter, did.

Frances Ann Roper, née Hubbard, 1975