Ernest Francis Fitzherbert Wright was my great uncle and was always called Francis , possibly because his father was called Ernest (FitzHerbert Wright), and possibly because he didn’t like the name Ernest despite being fond of his father. He died in 2007, and is much missed by our family. I’ve included the tribute made by my elder brother at his Funeral Service at Chelsea Old Church in October 2007. There was also a Memorial Service at the parish church in Ebbesborne Wake, Wiltshire (where his ashes were interred with those of his wife, Betty).
My Great Uncle Francis was born just after the Great War as a late child to elderly parents and baby brother to three elder sisters. He was brought up in a formal and traditional way in the nursery and then by a governess in a succession of wonderful houses at Lytchett, Hale Park and Rockley Manor until he went to prep school – an awful experience at a school which was brutal by any standard (now thankfully closed) – but he had a much better time at Eton where he developed a deep affection for the place which lasted until his death, and he was an active member to the OEA.
After a short time at Oxford he, like so many others, left to join the army, took over a year to recover from an accident before going to Belgium and Germany in the aftermath of the war. After completing his MA at Oxford he joined Thomas Cook’s and worked there for forty years until his retirement. He was posted to Paris and to Rome which he loved, and was bitten by the travel bug, but eschewed the offer of promotion to Baghdad office manager and later offers of promotion so that he could “stay close to the customers” as he put it – he liked dealing with people.
He met Betty at the christening of one of his godchildren, and they thoroughly enjoyed the Staff Discounts at Thomas Cooks – travelling all over the world in the next 30 years. They were keen birdwatchers and enjoyed the countryside. They never had any children but he was a generous host and benefactor to all of his widespread relations and friends with a deep sense of Noblesse Oblige which never left him.
In the 1970s he was kind enough to rent out his basement flat in Chester St to me and he could not have been a more generous or understanding landlord – never complaining about the constant stream of visitors and parties during that happy time.
He moved to Chelsea in 1978 and has lived here ever since, worshiping at Chelsea Old Church and the Royal Hospital, as well as at St John the Baptist in Ebbesbourne Wake in Wiltshire. He was deeply if unostentatiously religious.
He was a devoted husband to Betty and personally nursed her through Alzheimer’s for many years despite the deep distress and problems that this awful disease causes.
In fact he was one of nature’s true gentlemen – in the finest sense of that word – a generous if private man, with a deep sense of duty, and we will miss him.