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My maternal grandfather, Francis Henry Smith, was born in Ireland's Dublin as theson of John Smith and Mary Dugan Smith (later of Halifax in Canada's Nova Scotia). Other relatives of mine emigrated to New Zealand. Says the Bible: "Be fruitful and fill the Earth!" — and "Go into all the World!"
Some of my nearer ancestors and their relatives were less than exemplary. It was said of my ancestor Benjamin Joule that he eloped to Gretna Green in Scotland, with the daughter of a banker called Hudson — and that they only later had a church wedding.
My Grandmother Lee's father, a Preacher of Irish extraction who knewtheBiblefrom the beginningtothe end,wasassaultedwhilepreaching in theopen air. Hethenlapsed–and drank himself to death. Her own husband William disappeared when selling goods in Sierra Leone in West Africa, thus prompting her to return with her children from South Africa to England. And, though the granddaughter of a great Christian Preacher, my grandmother's niece Patricia married a Muslim called Aziz — a cousin of the late King Feisal of Arabia or Iraq.
My parents, William Sydney and AliceMaud Lee(née Smith), should neverhavemarried — humanly speaking. For my father grew up a fatherless unbeliever — and later militantly opposed all forms of Christianity. My mother came from a devout Roman Catholic family, which rightly disapproved of her marriage to my father.
Mymother'sauntsBeatrice andEthelranaCatholicBookShopwhichrefusedtocarryany Protestant material. Her one uncle, Will, was the family's black sheep. For he became a Protestant. On the other hand, however, all of my mother's parents'grandsons (including me) were intended for the Roman Catholic Priesthood.
Mymaternalgrandparentsdisapproved ofmymother'sreligiouschoiceofahusbandwhen she married my father in April 1933. Since his emigration as a small boy with his sister and their mother from South Africa to England, he had grown up in the home of the parents of his mother's niece Frances, the Protestants Rev. and Mrs. W.G.F. Pearson. There his mother, my grandmother, served as housekeeper at 15 Gillingate in Kendal (in the County of Cumbria).
My father himself pioneered rediffusion (an early kind of "poor man's radio service") all along the border of England and Scotland. When a Methodist Minister would not help him to make rediffusion available to the poor in his area, my father became a vehement Atheist. Because my father then became a Member of the radical Rationalist Press Association and actively distributed their infidel literature, I can well understand why my mother's staunch Roman Catholic parents did not view him as a desirable husband for their daughter.
However, they relented — when my father, at the time, promised that any children of the marriage could be raised as Roman Catholics. I am an only child. After being born on 5th December 1934, I was baptized on 6th January 1935 (with much water poured on me from above) by Father Arthur L. Gracey in Kendal's (Roman) Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity and St. George — in the blessed Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
That blessed God chose me as His child before time began. He branded me in baptism as one of His sheep soon after my birth. And He saved me in His Own good time. Surely, His
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goodness and mercy shall keep on following me all the days of my life — and I will keep on dwelling in the House of the Lord, for ever!
I am neither proud nor ashamed of my nearer ancestors. For they, like me, are all the descendants of the fallen Adam. But I am intensely proud and unashamed of my wonderful Older Brother and Lord and Saviour, the Second Adam Jesus Christ. And I thank Him for later lifting me up out of the mud — first of Romanism; and later, far worse, of Atheism — and for placing me on His road which leads to everlasting life.