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Sister Isabel.

There are many Sisters within our Community who have used their middle names, rather than their first ones, starting with M. Lavinia and reaching all the way through our history to some of the present Sisters. Some use their first and middle names (Sr Mary Rose and Sr Mary Sophia, for example); Sr Isobel used not her first or her second name, but her third middle name, which is more unusual; Sr Lenora also had three middle names, but used her second name. It is somehow easier to identify a Sister using her second name rather than her third. I have no problem with Sarah Louisa Daggs being Sr Louisa; somehow, I find it more difficult to remember that Eliza Jessie Isabel Hogg is Sr Isabel, not Sr Eliza. Why she used her third name, I do not know. Initially, I assumed it was because we already had a Sr Eliza, but research showed that Sr Isabel was professed in 1894, whereas Sr Eliza was professed in 1900, so it couldn’t have been that. There are many reasons why a Sister should choose to use a name other than her first name, including personal choice, clashing with another Sister (or Novice) and your first name not being the one you commonly use anyway.

Whatever the reason, Eliza J I Hogg did choose to use Isabel as her name in community, and is usually down as Isabel Hogg in the Census. She was born in Australia, and I had much difficulty in tracing her family background. Nothing would come up with her name, and she remained on the list of Sisters difficult to trace for some time. However, with Sr Isabel I eventually struck lucky, and discovered Eliza J I Hogg in the 1871 Census, living in Surrey with her parents Edward and Marianne, together with 8 siblings. Both Eliza and her older brother were born in Australia, as was their mother. Here it gets more complicated. Whereas most of the Census data I’ve found for Sr Isabel state just that she was born in Australia, one says that she was born in Melbourne. The Census for Eliza J I Hogg, daughter of Edward and Marianne, says she was born in New Norfolk, Tasmania, Australia. Melbourne is in Victoria, not Tasmania, implying that I’ve found the wrong Hogg family. But: Marianne was born in Hobart Town, Tasmania (which, according to Google, is not far from New Norfolk) whereas her oldest child, Eliza’s older brother James, was born in Melbourne. Is it at all possible to suggest that the family lived in Melbourne, but that Marianne’s family (or some of them) were in Tasmania, and that Marianne was staying there when Eliza was born? Sr Isabel (Eliza, in case the names confuse you as they do me) was born on the 28th December 1860, making this possibility more likely. I know from the 1871 census that the family were back in England by 1864, when Eliza’s younger sister was born, and when Eliza would have been only 3 or 4; she may not have had many memories of Australia, and may just have known that they lived in Melbourne. Is it possible that she recorded her place of birth wrongly? I’ll leave it to you to decide how likely that is, but it does bring in an element of doubt as to whether this is indeed Sr Isabel’s background.

Edward Hogg was an Average Adjuster (no, I’d never heard of it either, but googling it provides much information, if you’re interested). Marianne died in 1875, when the family were living in Kent, having had at least one more child since 1871; Eliza would have been only 15, and her youngest siblings not much more than toddlers. Edward married again, to Agnes, although I’m not sure when. Agnes had at least one son, before she too died: suddenly in 1883. Edward again re-married, in 1890, to a younger woman, Mary, who lived in Norfolk. Whether this Norfolk connection introduced Eliza to CAH, I don’t know. She is still living with her father in 1891, together with two younger sisters and some of her brothers. It was not much later that she joined the Community, being clothed probably in 1892, presumably as Sr Isabel. She was professed on St Michael’s day in 1894, and by 1899 was Sister in Charge at our Orphanage (pictured); she may have taken over from Sr Constance, who was in charge in 1891. It seems, from our records, that Sr Constance became Sister-in-Charge there again, although we do not have exact dates. But Sr Isabel is Sister in charge there in 1901, 1911 and 1921, by which time the Orphanage was operating mainly as a school; but that is not to say that there may have been a break in between Censuses. It is interesting that both Sr Isabel and Sr Constance had lost a parent early in life (see my blog Known, April 14th 2022, for Sr Constance’s story). Would this would have given them an insight into the lives of the girls they were caring for, or was it just accidental? They must both also have been capable Sisters, able to run the institution, care for the girls, as well as work with the secular staff and those responsible for teaching. However it worked, Sr Isabel seems to have spent most of those early years in Community at the Orphanage/School. When exactly she left, I am not clear about, but Sr Jessie Mary became Sister in Charge in 1929, and the electoral registers show Sr Isabel was based there until that year. By 1939, she was back at the Community House, and she died peacefully in August 1944, after a day’s illness, and after 52 years in religion.

Was Sr Isabel the daughter of Edward and Marianne Hogg? I am working on the basis that she was, although bearing in mind that I could be wrong. But it is easy to make judgements about people, and assumptions that malign them. Sr Constance was born in Gorleston, and my assumptions of a Norfolk childhood by the coast were proved completely wrong when I investigated. It is better to tread carefully, aware that the data we have is not complete, and may be misleading us. The same is true of those we meet day by day; we cannot know the whole story and the easy judgements and assumptions we make about people could turn out to be completely wrong, if we knew the whole story. Jesus tells us not to judge, and maybe what we can take away from Sr Isabel’s story is just that: not to judge other people, and assume we know more about them than we do.

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