Katherine Mary Harley nee French, sister of Sir John French, (leader of the British army at the outbreak of World War 1,) and Charlotte Despard, was born on May 3rd 1855, less than three months after the death of her father. Her childhood was blighted by her mother’s ill health and by the age of ten she was an orphan. Katherine was sent to boarding school and then travelled to India to stay with her sister Maggie. There she met and married George Ernest Harley, a soldier. A little over a year later still in India she gave birth to her first child Florence.[i]
Charlotte Despard was a woman of many passions, she fought for the vote, for Irish freedom, for peace & for animal welfare. She formed, or was part of, many political groups & movements paving the way for others committed to these freedoms.
Born in 1844 Charlotte’s upbringing wasn’t easy. Her father died when she was young and her mother was mentally ill and hospitalised. Charlotte was sent to London to live with relatives.