For those who do not know me. I Married the same man twice!
My Name is Margaret Williamson wife of the late Rev Robin J H Williamson who was minister of Ballycarry Old Presbyterian Church and Raloo Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church and his last Ministry was at Larne and Kilwaughter Old Presbyterian Church.
I was born in Kidlington, near Oxford on 12 May 1934 to Isabel and Frank Brown, both active members in the Church of England, and my dad being an honorary Thurifer. We later moved to Headington, Oxford.
I trained as a nurse and worked as a nurse in Queen Mary’s Hospital Carshalton for the princely sum of £1.10d in old money. After some time I retrained and became a Bank Clerk, and about this time I met Robin who was a trainee minister at Manchester College, Oxford.
I was at one of the College dances where several young men wanted to take me home, I chose the tall handsome Irish one and our relationship developed from there. We often met up secretly to go to the pictures.
Our first wedding
When we decided to get married, it was not allowed, One of those rules that the church and college authorities had imposed: “No one was allowed to marry while they were in training for the ministry”.
However we found a way around this and we slipped quietly into the local Registration Office in Oxford and married with only the Registrar and our witnesses.
Wedding Number 2
When Robin finished his training and before his appointment to Walsall and West Bromwich we thought it time to have a more public wedding which we did at the ancient Church of St Michael, North Gate where it was rumoured that Cromwell once stabled his horses.
The Rector here was of great assistance and supported us. When we supposedly retired to sign the official register, in the vestry we simply sat and chatted until he felt a suitable time had passed so he looked at his watch and said, “I think we can rejoin the congregation now”.
A Baby for £1
At an early stage in our marriage we decided we would adopt children but were met with numerous obstacles by local council officials and adoption agency (The nicest refusal coming from the Catholic Church) but we managed to adopt our first child Tracy through a private arrangement at a cost of £1.
Northern Ireland and a culture shock
After about three years as Minister in West Bromwich Robin received a call back to Northern Ireland, from Ballycarry and Raloo.
I must admit I was never comfortable being a minister’s wife and on coming to Northern Ireland I was informed by one of the senior ministers that as I was now a Non-Subscribing Presbyterian I would be expected to be actively involved in Church work and the Women’s League as well as being a support to Robin.
I had been happy being his wife and remaining in the background. Now I had moved from my comfort zone as a High Church Anglican to being the wife of a Liberal Christian and singing Hymns often with different words. It was a difficult transition.
It was while we were in Ballycarry that we adopted two more children, Sean and Melanie.
Tracy and her family now live in Inverness, while Sean a Consultant Anaesthetist lives with his family in Yorkshire. and Melanie in Lisburn.
For a time, while in Larne, I was a Registered Child Minder, fostering and providing security for a number of young folks.
My fondest memories are when we were able to hold each of our adopted children for the first time, attending their respective weddings and sharing their joy when the grand children and great grand children were born.
One of our highlights was being invited and being able, to attend the Queen’s Garden party at Buckingham Palace on a beautiful sunny day in July 1972 when Robin was first Moderator.
My great interest, which I have developed while living here in Larne, has been the breeding of dogs, and the showing my dogs throughout Ireland and the UK which has included Bearded Collies. Initially Robin had spent a long time look for my first Dachshund.
Over the years I have had Long Haired and Smooth Haired Dachshunds, and of course my Crufts winner, Wire Haired Miniature Dachshund, Banya. She has just recently had three pups which I hope will also be Cruft winners.
If I had my life over again I would strive to be more assertive. I would travel more and visit places like Australia where I could meet up with my sister Priscilla and her three daughters. Greece would also appeal to me, I am fascinated by ancient history and Greek culture. I feel I should experience Auschwitz, Poland which has interested me for the reason that I feel humanity has a debt to the Jews for the way the world allowed them to be treated by the Nazis.
With regard to entertainment, I very much appreciate classical music and enjoy watching hospital and medical dramas and documentaries. They give me the opportunity of making comparisons between my experiences and how things are changing.
My advice to the denomination would be to be more supportive of your ministers. They strive to be spiritual and moral teachers, not fundraisers. They are only human. Value them!
Can you Name these ladies with my husband Rev. Robin Williamson ?