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Knock, Knock .... Who Was There?


nalist, Nancy Spain (died 1964), the daughter of William’s young- est daughter, Norah.


Dr Samuel Smiles was to outlive both his sons – Samuel jun- ior died in 1903 – and two of his three daughters. He survived William by three months, dying at the age of 91. On Saturday 9 January 1904 William Holmes Smiles took the train to Newcastle to play golf. He died in the changing rooms at 2 pm, a fortnight short of his 58th birthday, as his daughter later wrote: “already worn out by rope and children”. His body was returned to Belfast on the 6.35 pm train. On the following day the entire congrega- tion at St Mark’s rose as a mark of respect as the organ played the melancholic ‘Dead March’ from Handel’s Saul. Ten shillings were paid to open the grave at Belfast City Cemetery following ‘a strictly private’ funeral on the Tuesday. It was a tribute to his management style that, as the cortège travelled under the Holywood Arches and passed by the entrance of the Belfast Ropework Company on the Newtownards Road, “Tere was no stoppage of work ... the ma- chines were going full tilt. Only a yard man, hat in hand, stood at the gate to pay homage”.


William had made his will only three months earlier on 5 October 1903. His wife, Lucy, who was to live to the age of 91, was to be allowed to stay in Westbank as long as she wished. William be- queathed to her the standard contemporary legacy, which included his watches, jewels, ornaments, plate, furniture, linen, glass, pic- tures, musical instruments, horses, carriages, saddlery, stable fur- niture, and household stores and provisions, and even any live and dead stock – plus an immediate payment of £500. Te Directors of his creation were equally generous sending, along with their sin- cere tribute, a cheque for £875. One suspects that, in common with so many wealthy widows, she would probably have preferred a few more years of her husband’s personal companionship.


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