Biographical Notes

Agnes Mary Franklin WONTNER

(24-Apr-1893 to 25-Mar-1950)

Notes supplied by R M Wallis, daughter of Agnes Mary Franklin Wontner:

Born on 24-Apr-1894, daughter of Algernon Joseph WONTNER and Mary Hannah Wontner, nee Dennis. Her mother was taken up to London from Tonbridge Wells so that she could be born within the sound of Bow Bells, as so be able to claim to be a Cockney. Her father was a London stockbrocker.

She was educated at Roedean School. After school she did what would be called "Speech and Drama" under Dame Sybil Thorkdyke.

At the start of World War I, she enlisted as a V.A.D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse.

She married G L Wallis in 1915 and their son Edmund George was born on 14-Jul-1916. George Edmund died of what was then described as "Teething Convulsions" on 01-Nov-1917.

Soon after the death of her son, she was affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis from which she was to suffer for the rest of her life. She never complained and from her wheelchair, she was involved in all that was happening on the farm (Ebc: Dinedor) and in the country (Ebc: Swaziland)

She was an avid letter writer and wrote to friends and relations all over the world, many of whoom did not know that she was an invalid. She was dearly loved by all with she came in contact. She died on 25-Mar-1950 at the age of 56.

After her death GLW received letters from people in all walks of life who had heard of her fortitude, as one doctor said of her "She is the bravest person I have ever known". She was known as "The Wonder Woman of Swaziland".

In 1937, totally crippled and with only one kidney. she became very ill. My father was advised to take her to Johannesburg for treatment. The doctors there told GLW that if they did not operate she would die, and even if they did, she had only a 50/50 chance. It was a difficult decision for GLW to make, but he had no choice. Four years later,Ann, my youngest sister was born when my mother was 48,

AMFW's father had invested much of his money in mining in the Ural Mountains in Russia. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, he lost the lot. He was a broken man and died just before they (my mother and her parents) were due to come out here (Ebc: Swaziland).

My mother and grandmother did come out in 1923. On the voyage out from England Old Mrs Wontner was asked if she had ever been round the Cape of Storms (Cape Town). She replied that she had gone round in a sailing ship as a child of 4 years, accompanying her parents who were missionaries in India. Her father John Joll Dennis died of Cholera while in India.

  1. To be updated.

Last updated 26th March 2010 Person Reference No: 55