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Family Life

Hart Family c. 1888

Hart Family c. 1888 (MS 15/6/1/D2)

In 1866, after twelve years in China, Hart returned home to Ireland on leave. Whilst on leave he met and married Hester (Hessie) Jane Bredon, also from Portadown. She was nineteen years old and must have had a keen interest in adventure and travel. After a brief honeymoon in Killarney the couple sailed for China. Hessie remained in China until March 1876, when she returned to Europe with their two children – a daughter, Evelyn Amy (Evey) and a son, Edgar Bruce. Hart was reunited with his family in Paris in 1878 when he travelled there for the international exhibition as President of the Chinese Commission. The family returned to China in Spring 1879, leaving Evey at school in Dublin. Hart’s second daughter, Mabel Milburne (Nollie) was born in November, 1879. Hart settled back into family life in Peking, moving into a new residence, ordering fittings from Campbell, his agent in London, and working hard for China’s interests at the CIMC. However, in 1882 Hessie and the children returned to Europe – this time for good. Robert Hart was not to see his wife again until she came to visit with Nollie in 1906, when they spent 3 months in Peking. In a letter to Campbell Hart wrote, “It is, of course, pleasant to have wife and daughter here, but, after two dozen years of solitariness, I don’t run as easily in ‘double harness’ as I would have done had I been at it all the time!” He was committed to his work at CIMC and hoped that Lady Hart and Nollie wouldn’t remain in China until it was time for him to retire, “for I want to be alone to attend to the hundred and one things ‘winding up’ will involve.”

Family Life