HOUGHTON, Bernard 1864-1933

Born on 4 6 1864 in Leyton. Bernard died in St. Andrews, Burford on 29 9 1933, he was 69. Buried in Burford.

By Violet Houghton." He was educated at Bloxham public school, in the Cotswolds, with his twin brother, Sidney. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin (See note below), and when there he came to know my mother, Isabel Edith Vickers. He took the public examination for the Indian Civil Service and passed third in the list. He was appointed to Burma at the beginning of his career in the Indian Civil Service. and remained there until he retired in 1912. In the early days he took part in active service against the dacoits, a type of armed gang robbers. He wrote a number of small books on Kachin and other native dialects. One of these has survived under the title "The Arakan dialect of the Burman language", published by the Royal Asiatic Society in 1897. At one time he went to China to study the language and my mother joined him in Hong Kong where they were married.
Note by Archivist, Trinity College, Dublin.
“I have consulted the admissions registers for Trinity College, Dublin. Bernard Houghton entered this University in October 1882, aged 18 years, as a pensioner i.e. he paid a fixed annual fee for his education. He was born in India (By Editor. No, Leyton, Essex), the son of Charles J Houghton, a Cochineal Merchant. He received his education at Oxford before being admitted as a student to TCD and his religion was Church of England. He obtained a BA in summer 1895. The BA course was a four year undergraduate course that covered a wide variety of taught subjects. It seems to have taken Bernard Houghton a number of years to become BA. Perhaps he discontinued his study for a while. I have checked the College calendars and there are entries for Bernard Houghton as Junior Freshman 1882, Senior Freshman in 1883 and as Junior Bachelor in 1895. I cannot find any entry under Junior Sophister or Senior Sophister.”
He married for the second time (Christiane Joel) in January 1911. At this time he was living at Fairwood House, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire. He resigned from the Indian Civil Service with effect from 26 November 1912.
They then bought Abbotsham Court, near Bideford, Devon, where the family lived until the house was sold in 1919. They moved to Archers Court, Hastings, which Helen Curtis (nee Houghton) remembers as having seven staircases. (Anyway it was far too big). He separated from Christiane in 1922 and later moved to Burford in Gloucestershire, where he died in 1933. The following quotation from Horace was inscribed on his gravestone: - "Eheu, fugaces, Postume, Postume, labuntur anni"
Extract from India Office List for 1914.
Bernard HOUGHTON, B.A., Indian Civil Service. (Commissioner, Burma)
Education. All Saints, Bloxham. Wellingborough Grammar School (Greek Scholar) and Trinity College, Dublin. Appointed after exam of 1882; Arrived (in India) 23 Nov 1885 and served in Madras as Assistant Collector and Magistrate; transferred to Burma as Assistant Commissioner August, 1886; Deputy Commissioner 1891; (As Deputy Commissioner, Sandoway he was commended for suppressing an uprising of rebels - see letter of 7th. October, 1890 from the Chief Commissioner) Burma Additional Session Judge April 1901; Commissioner May 1903; Officiating Commissioner of the Tenassererim Division, Moulmein, 1905. Commissioner of Arakan Division 1907. Transferred to Irrawaddy Division (based on Bassein) 1908). Retired November 1912. Author of 'An essay on the language of South China', and other linguistic works.
April 1908 Opening of Houghton Reading Room and Library in Akyab, by the Lieutenant Governor of Burma
May 1912 to October 1912 on special leave
26 November 1912 Resigned from the Indian Civil Service with a retiring annuity of £1000 per annum.
While serving, he was a fervent advocate of better education for the Burmese and measures to improve public health.

Article from the Bassein News, May 22nd, 1912.
“'Our Departing Commissioner'. No head of a District or Division has ever left his charge amid such expressions of unfeigned regret from every class of the community as Mr. Bernard Houghton, B.A., I.C.S. And how is it that he has commanded the respect and esteem of all men? By behaving with undeviating inflexibility of honourable purpose as a high-minded English gentleman. His standard of duty was high and he fulfilled it to the letter. He had no favorites (in other words he never encouraged sycophants). He was strict but at the same time sympathetic and kindly. No cabals and plots were possible with him. No parasites could pour envenomed tales into his ears. A MAN IN THE TRUEST SENSE OF THE WORD - a most manly man at the same time that he was a most chivalrous highly-cultured gentleman. A man like Mr. Houghton, maintaining in his own person and by his own example the prestige of the English race, is of more value to the Empire that cohorts or warships.
His administrative ability equaled his scholarly culture - which is saying a great deal indeed. His labours in the cause of education and the uplifting of the people have earned him the gratitude of the people of the country. Mr. Houghton's name is a household word throughout Burma.
Bassein - nay the whole of Burma - loses in Mr. Houghton a tower of strength- a steadfast honourable gentleman who was not afraid to do his duty in accordance with his own brilliant lights and his conscience- who sought not official favour but the approbation of his own sense of honour and duty.
In the name of the people and the community we wish him "God Speed" and a happy sojourn in the homeland. And we ask him to convey to the gracious lady who aided him in the people's cause during the time she spent here our grateful acknowledgements. Mrs. Houghton's name equally with his own honoured one will be kept green in all our memories. Vale Eheu Vale!”

Author of the following articles which appeared in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society; -
January, 1893 Professor Sayce and the Burmese language
January 1894 Short vocabulary of Red Karen
January, 1895 Kami vocabularies
January, 1896 Tibeto-Burmese palaeontology
1897 The Arakan dialect of the Burman language
July, 1913 Purchased `Abbotsham Court, near Bideford

Following his retirement he wrote a number of letters to the newspapers, critical of the Government and urging educational reform in Burma. He continued to keep in contact with his Burmese friends, at least while at Abbotsham. Many of his ideas were ahead of his time and might well have made him unpopular with authority. His early retirement appears, however, to have been for purely personal reasons.

On 27 6 1896 when Bernard was 32, he first married Isabel Edith VICKERS, daughter of Henry Thomas VICKERS & Margaret Isabella PLAYFAIR, in Hong Kong. She was born on 6 9 1867 in Blackrock, The Hermitage, Nr. Dublin and died of cholera in Sagaing, Upper Burma on 31 12 1908 aged 41. She left estate of £2292.19.4 in Ireland and England according to probate which was granted on 7 June 1910 to Bernard Houghton.
They had the following children:
141 i. Violet Edith (1898-1989)
142 ii. Harold Bernard Playfair. Born on 11 4 1900 in Katha, Burma he drowned on 10 8 1915 in a bathing accident on the coast not far from Abbotsham Court, while trying to save his sister, Violet, who had got into difficulties and was buried at Abbotsham church.
143 iii. Aileen Millicent (1901- )
144 iv. Gladys May (1903-1988)
145 v. Hugh Sidney Playfair (1904-1985)
146 vi. Maude Isobel (1905-1993)
147 vii. Evelyn Ethel (1908- )

On 7 1 1911 when Bernard was 46, he second married Christiane Sophie JOEL, daughter of JOEL & NEALE, in Milford-On-Sea, Hampshire. Born about 1 1 1878, she died in 1959 aged 80.
Her mother was reputed to be the only daughter of a north of England family, Neale. While at Birmingham University her tutor was a French national, a Monsieur Joel, who was employed to teach french to the students. They married and had two daughters, Ella and Christiane. Later Monsieur Joel deserted her taking the two girls with him to Paris where (according to Aunt Helen) he attempted to sell them as models!! Mrs. Joel followed him to Paris and, with the assistance of the British Embassy, was successful in getting custody of the girls and taking them back to England.
Christiane went on to study Biology at St. Hughs, Oxford but had to leave after two years before getting a degree when her sister, Ella, wanted to study sculpture in Brussels. She then went to Regent Street Polytechnic and later to Chichester Training College, before joining the teaching staff at Truro High School, and eventually becoming Head of the Branch School.
Ella met and married an artist called Schneider while in Brussels. They had one child, Reimer, and when they later separated, Ella returned to England with the boy to live with her Mother and took the name of Taylor. Subsequently Reimer changed his Christian name to Lance and emigrated to Canada near Vancouver
At the time of her marriage to Bernard Houghton, Christiane’s family consisted of her mother, her sister Ella and Ella’s little boy and while at Abbotsham Court they had one wing of the house. When Christiane decided to leave her husband she took up a post as french teacher at Hastings H.S. Here she became great friends with the Headmistress, Frances Cummings: when Miss Cummings had a house built, each had a half though there was a joint kitchen and dining room.

Bernard and Christiane had one child:
148 i. Helen Lilias.

Born on 27 10 1911 in Milford-On-Sea, Hampshire she died on 24 April 2003 at Letchworth. Occupation: Housing Manager, Church Commissioners.
On 22 10 1959 when Helen Lilias was 47, she married John Chapman CURTIS. He died in 1990.


anaglyph said...

On tracing my own family history, the name Bernard Houghton came up in an official document relating to my grandmother whose father is named as Houghton. The link appears at a time when Mr Bernard Houghton was living and working in Sandoway, Burma. It is probable that Mr Houghton knew my great grandmother, a Burmese woman.
K Taylor

anaglyph said...

Hello again.
I believe that my grandmother was conceived in April 1893 and that Bernard Houghton was her father. She was born in Burma in December 1893 in Sandoway. Her father is named as Bernard Houghton when she subsequently married in Rangoon.
I understand that Bernard Houghton arranged for my grandmother to be educated at his expense in a boarding school in Darjeeling.
Hope this helps to fill in some gaps.

Rina Crick said...

Hello K taylor, please do be in contact with me, at akyabtree@gmail.com; I would like to know more about your grandmother.

harvard said...

hi, I am travelling to Burma soon and would like to contact any Houghton relatives that may still be there my email is lesleyh1942@gmail.com My late husband was Peter Hugo Playfair Houghton and his father Hugo was born in Burma thanks L Houghton new Zealand