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This Chater Family Bible was very generously lent to me for scanning and copying by my late "Uncle Michael" [Chater] who has held it for many years. He is the 5th generation of Chater to hold it and it will no doubt get passed on to may more generations in the future. I am also grateful to Steve Rac, a Chater descendant through his late mother Stella, for making contact in December 2004, and for organising and co-ordinating the meetings between us.
The next section
is my own personal analysis of how our Family Bible has taken shape over
This bible is dated 1871 and published by the Oxford University Press. Whilst it was on loan to me many thoughts about how it became the Family Bible have occupied me. I have therefore taken a very close look at the bible and tried to interpret how the events were recorded and by whom.
Those very first entries, could they really have been written by Abraham Martyrose Chater? The more I look at it the more I have decided that it probably wasn’t written by him but by Arakiel Chater his son. Bearing in mind this Bible was published in 1872 and by that time Arakiel had fathered 10 children by three different wives. In the year of the Bible’s publication in 1872, Angelina Grace was born to Arakiel. However, I suspect that the Bible was probably a gift to Arakiel and his third wife Caroline on the birth of their next child, a son, they called Arakiel Johanes who was born in 1873, a year after the publish date of the Bible.
The handwriting of the above words “1st Generation” do not match the rest of the writing on that page. I believe the above was added and written by Annie Chater (nee De Souza) wife of Abraham (son of Arakiel), whose marriage appears later in the Bible.
This first paragraph on the first page of the Bible shows a good, strong handwriting. I believe this to be consistent with Arakiel’s job as a clerk in a Government Office, an occupation he listed on his marriage to Caroline Sophia Letts. The ink is heavy and dark and the lettering is thick by comparison to that below, and I can quite imagine him having settled himself at a table, dipped his pen in a new bottle of ink and begin something that would be passed down the generations and survive 132 years and counting. For me, it was a very exciting moment to see, not just the names and the dates of my Chater ancestors but to see days and times listed for the various birth, marriage and deaths recorded in the Bible. This is what truly makes it a Family Bible.
This next section above, still on the first page entitled “Issues” has some illegible scribble at the beginning of that word, perhaps a simple error. The style of the writing is exactly the same as the first paragraph, so again, I would say this writing is that of Arakiel Chater. The writing is even, steady and neat, but the ink is lighter and the writing is lighter, maybe he was using a new nib. Because of the style and the consistency with the ink flow, I would say that this whole section was written at the same time. Maybe it was a moment of reflection knowing that he was embarking on another marriage, but not knowing where it would end.
This section above also entitled “Issues” shows the children of Arakiel and Caroline Sophia. The majority of this section I believe was written by Arakiel with the exception of child number 8 “Rachal Carroline Beatrice”. This entry shows a slightly different style of handwriting compared to that previously seen. Also the way that “Rachal” and “Carroline” are spelt and written tells me that Arakiel did not write this particular entry, it was quite possibly Caroline Sophia herself who wrote this line. The other entry that I believe Caroline wrote is the one at the bottom which sadly, shows the death of her husband Arakiel in Dinapore.
This section above, although written by
Abraham Chater until the entry at 1886, clearly shows the heading “2nd
Generation” written by a different hand and style. I believe the words “2nd
Generation” are written by Annie, Abraham’s wife as later on it can be
seen that the handwriting changes when recording the death of Abraham. The
writing and handstokes of Abraham show he was a man used to writing
legibly. The first and second paragraphs were written at the same time,
these two paragraphs are completely uniform in style, ink which is heavy
and dark and the pressure of the nib of the pen on the paper. I would say
that this section of the Family Bible was written after the birth of
Abraham and Annie’s first child Walter.
The entries for Ida Ellen Julia and Herbert Alfred Henry were written on two separate occasions. Each entry having different pressure strokes and ink density. Note the light and gentle commas Abraham put after each Christian name of his children. This is peculiar only to Abraham; Arakiel did not use the same type of punctuation.
Moving on to the lower section of the same page (above), it can now been seen that the writing style is very different and the ink colour has changed from black to blue. The majority of these entries, I would guess, would have been made by Abraham’s wife, Annie. It is nice, tidy clear writing, indicating someone who perhaps wrote a great deal. Maybe she wrote regular letters back to her family in Calcutta. As can been seen from the entries, Abraham and Annie moved around a great deal. 1883-1887 they were in Port Blair. Cyril Steven was born in 1888 in Purneah and Annie Irene was born back in Port Blair in 1890 as was William Allen born in 1892. Abraham and Annie had moved to Dinapur by April 1893 when William Allen died. Their next two children, Mary and Victor were born in Calcutta and although their deaths are recorded in the Bible the places are not. Hugh Gerald was born in Purneah in March 1899 followed quickly by Mabel Violet also in Purneah in November 1900. The next entry which is for Cynthia Isabelle is made by Abraham, his clear but gentle looping writing style so different from Annie’s which could almost be described as slightly hurried. The final entries, the death of “Darling Sonny Victor Paul”, the birth of their last child Lionel and the death of her husband Abraham, are made by Annie. The entry for Abraham is in thick heavy blue ink, and one can only try to imagine what Annie was thinking and feeling as she made that entry. The very last entry is for the death of Cynthia Isobel and interestingly the name is spelt differently from the entry of her birth.
The entries on this page are extremely neat and clear with no flourish to the style. The entries are all written in blue ink and are all uniform which would indicate that they were all written at the same time. This page I believe to have been written by Herbert Alfred Henry Chater, this is based on other documents seen with Herbert’s signature on. This page was written and only partly completely, obviously spaces left for dates to be filled in, but they never were.
And so the final page entry (above) of the Chater Family Bible. This shows at the top the handwriting of Herbert Alfred Henry recording the death of his mother in December 1927. By 1931 he had come to England and started a new relationship. The entries for the children from that relationship are the last entries to be made in the Chater Family Bible which has travelled many thousands of miles, over several continents and many countries in well over 130 years of its existence.
It was published in Oxford in 1872. I wonder how it came to be in the possession of Arakiel in the first place? It has been packed and unpacked for travel on numerous occasions by various members of the family, it has taken pride of place in the homes of the Chater’s that have been written about here, it has travelled through time zones, typhoons, feasts, famines, wars, conflicts and times of peace. It’s final long distance journey was with Herbert from Calcutta to England. Here’s hoping that many more Chater’s are added to it as time goes by.
Full Transcription of the Chater Family Bible Pages
Arakiel Chater, son of Abraham Martyrose and Magdaline Chater, born on the 11th October 1832 at 7a.m. Tuesday in Dacca married Miss Elizabeth Florentine 4th October 1851. she died on the 20 Nov 1857 at 6p.m. Friday.
1st Magdaline born 15th May
2nd Elizabeth born 2 February 1856, Saturday. Died 5 October 1880
3rd Martyrose born 25 October 1857 Thursday. Died September 1858
Arakiel Chater, married secondly to Miss Rachel Jahans on the 12th February 1858 - she died on the 26th October 1865.
1st Abraham born 15th June 1859
2nd Sultana Sophia born 30 October 186
3rd Arratoon born 16 March 1862, Sunday
Arakiel Chater's 3rd marriage was with Miss Caroline Sophia Letts on the 2nd April 1866, Monday.
1st A boy born on the
6th (Tuesday), died on the 7th March 1867 Wednesday
2nd Henry born on the 4 September 1868 Friday - died on the 24 October 1868 Saturday
3rd Georgiana Katharine Josephine born on the 25th October 1869 Monday
4th Angelina Grace born on the 14 September 1871, Thursday
5th Arakiel Johanes born on the 17th November 1873 Monday at 41/2 a.m.
6th Emma Mabel born on the 23rd October 1875, Saturday
7th Eugenie Ethel born on the 31st August 1877, Friday
8th Rachal Carroline Beatrice born on the 30th May 1879, Friday
9th Osburn born on the 25th August 1881, Thursday at 4p.m.
10th Frederick Charles born on the 21 Nov/83 Wednesday at 3p.m.
Arrakiel Chater died on the 25th November 1884 at 5am in Dinapore.
Abraham Chater 2nd son of Arakiel married Annie Rosabelle D'Souza born 6th Feby 1867. Married 4th June 1883 Arrah.
Walter Albert Ross. Born on Monday 31st December 1882 at Port Blair
Ida Ellen Julia. Born at Port Blair on Monday 6 April died on 18th August 1885 at Port Blair aged 4 months 7 days
Herbert Alfred Henry. Born at Port Blair on Thursday 25th Feby 1886
Bernice Constance Stella. Born 11 July 1887 at Port Blair
Cyril Steven. Born at Purneah on the 28th September
Annie Irene Elsie. Born at Port Blair on 6th April
William Allen. Born at Blair on 10th June 1892 then died at Dinapur on 17th April 1893
Mary. Born at Calcutta on the 8 Decr 1895 [died] in Calcutta on the 14th April 1896
Victor Paul. Born at Calcutta on the 10 October 18?
Hugh Gerald. Born at Purneah on the 10 March
Mabel Violet. Born at Purneah on the 10 November 1899
Cynthia Isabelle. Born at Monghyr on 6th September 190?
Darling Sonny Victor Paul departed this life on ?
Lionel Edgar. Born at Bankipur on 10 Decr 1909
Abraham son of Arakeil Chater, died Calcutta Presidency General Hospital 24th May 1914. Age ? 11 months and 9 days.
Cynthia Isabel departed
this life on the 15th December 1917
Cyril Steven Chater, son of Abraham Chater married Grace Eola Pearson on [space left for insertion] at Calcutta Grace Eola died on [space left for insertion] at Calcutta
Walter Albert Ross Chater eldest son of Abraham Chater married space left for insertion]
Herbert Alfred Henry Chater 2nd son of Abraham Chater married Florence Louisa May Taylor born 19th February 1894 - married 5th January 1923 London, England
Henry Walter John, born on Sunday the 21st October
1923 at 8.45p.m at Calcutta.
Cyril Alexander, born on Monday the 20th October 1924 at 9.15p.m at Calcutta
Herbert Alfred Henry Chater 2nd son of Abraham Chater separated from his wife Florence Louisa May nee Taylor setting up home with Mary Howson with whom he continued to live with for the remainder of his days.
Mister Michael Herbert Chater, born 19th day of March
1934. Son of Herbert Henry Alfred Chater this
should read Herbert Alfred Henry Chater]
Norma Mary Chater. Born September 28th 1932 daughter of Herbert Alfred Henry Chater.
Elizabeth Stella Chater born October 1st 1936 - daughter of Herbert Alfred Henry Chater
Hugh Gerald, son of Abraham Chater, married Muriel Ivy Green on the 22nd February 1924 at Calcutta.
Mrs. Annie Rosabelle Chater, wife of Abraham Chater, born 6th February 1867, died 16th December 1927 aged 61 years 10 months, 10 days at Calcutta.
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