Family - Waddells - Robin - Larry O'Shaughnessy

Huntons, O'Shaughnessys and Orwells

I'd like to pay especial tribute to 'ghgraham' (George H. Graham of Tulsa, Oklahoma) for his admirably assiduous researches – we all owe the most enormous debt to such meticulous investigators, from whose findings the rest of us all too often skim off the results without acknowledging their fons et origo. Respect!

Another mention of thanks goes to 'JackieJura' (Jackie Someone resident on Jura, Inner Hebrides), whose contributions are wide-ranging and eclectic, in a dramatically emphatic style.

The O'Shaughnessy males are referred to as Laurence below, but this is spelt as Lawrence in some sources. The one we knew was always as Larry and the spelling of his given name was never gone into. In any case he was an extraordinarily private person, and apart from saying he was the nephew of George Orwell (technically this was debatable, and nephew-in-law might have been a better way of putting it) he never ever referred to his background or upbringing.

Note that the writer whose name is immortalised by his satires Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, depicting the vileness, evil and hypocrisy of totalitarian tyrannies such as Nazi Germany and (particularly) Soviet Russia, married his first wife as Eric Arthur Blair and his second as George Orwell. They are therefore correctly known as Eileen Blair and Sonia Orwell respectively.

This is also as good a place as any to declare my undying admiration for George Orwell – the hero of my teenage years, during which I read Animal Farm (a true masterpiece), 1984, Aspidistra, Clergyman's Daughter, Down & Out, Wigan Pier, Burmese Days, and all his essays that I could find. Brought up as I was in a family atmosphere of claustrophobic deceit, concealment and pretence, I found his works exhilarating. Some of them are inevitably dated now, but Animal Farm is easily on a par with Gulliver's Travels (I read that in the authentic, complete eighteenth century version published by Collins, with wonderfully intricate typography, and saucy bits).

Hilary Spurling, The Girl from the Fiction Department:
A Portrait of Sonia Orwell
, Penguin Books, 2003

(nb cover very artfully pre-distressed!)

Needless to say, Larry (the nephew of Eileen) had no time for Sonia and maintained that she had misappropriated, or at best grossly mismanaged, the huge royalties that would accrue from Orwell's literary legacy. The real villain is now known to have been Orwell's accountant. Well whatever next. Or the Inland Revenue. Or both. It's all very complicated.

The lives of the Huntons, the O'Shaughnessys and the Blairs were closely intertwined, and in the table below I try to recount them simultaneously, generation by generation.

It is ironic that Gwendoline Hunton, who in 1938 bore Larry O'Shaughnessy in wedlock, also rescued a three-week-old baby born out of wedlock in 1944, who was then adopted by Eric Blair (aka George Orwell) and christened Richard Blair. Both boys lost their fathers at an early age, and Richard's childhood thereafter was rather precarious, but Larry's subsequent upbringing by Gwen seems to have been secure. As adults however, their fortunes diverged dramatically, as I shall try to outline later on.

#IndividualSpouse / PartnerFamily
‑3Dr Frederick Hunton1,  2
(25 Jun 1869 –
4 May 1917, KIA Gaza WW1)

Sedgefield, Co Durham

His antecedents have been traced as far back as emanuelhunton1757.html
Maude Mary Laing Young
(1876 3Q Stockton 10a 88 –
8 Sep 1902)
(m 1898, 1Q Stockton 10a 105)
Gwendolen Mary Hunton
(1899, 3Q Sedgefield 10a 97 –
31 Aug 1963, 3Q Norwich 4b 521)

Winifred Hunton
(b Feb 1901, 2Q Sedgefield 10a 104)

Maude Ænid Hunton
(b ca Sep 1902, 3Q Sedgefield 10a 109)
Eleanor Mary Webster Young (triplet sister of his first wife)
(1876, 3Q Stockton 10a 88 –
3 May 1929)
(m 1907, 4Q Sedgefield 10a 193)
Doreen Hunton
(1910, 2Q Sedgefield 10a 177 –
30 Jul 1969)

Arthur F[rederick?] Hunton
(b 1912, 1Q Sedgefield 10a 353)
‑3Laurence O'Shaughnessy
(24 Jan 1866 –
5 Nov 1929,
4Q Windsor 2c 491)

Customs & Excise official in Sunderland area
Marie/Mary Westgate
(1866 –
21 Mar 1941, 1Q Greenwich 1d 1325)
Laurence O'Shaughnessy
(24 Dec 1900 –
27 May 1940)

Eileen Maud O'Shaughnessy
(25 Sep 1905, 4Q South Shields 10a 766 –
29 Mar 1945, 2Q Newcastle T 10b 110)
‑3Richard Walmesley Blair
(ca 1857 –

lowly and ill-paid official in Indian Civil Service, monitoring opium trade from India to China
Ida Mabel Limouzin
(18 May 1875 –
19 Mar 1943)

trained midwife

Eric with Ida Blair
Marjorie Frances Blair
(21 Apr 1898, W Bengal –
3 May 1946)

Eric Arthur Blair
(25 Jun 1903, Motihari –
21 Jan 1950)

Avril Nora Blair
(6 Apr 1908 –
11 Jan 1978)

Eric and Marjorie with their parents Ida and Richard Blair

Marjorie, Avril and Eric Blair
‑2Dr Laurence Frederick O'Shaughnessy1,  2,  3 MB BS FRCS
(24 Dec 1900 –
27 May 1940)
Dr Gwendolen Mary Hunton MB, BS Durham
(ca 1899 –
31 Aug 1963, 3Q Norwich 4b 521)
(m 3 Oct 1926 Khartoum)
Laurence (Larry) O'Shaughnessy
(13 Nov 1938
3 May 2003)

no photograph exists, but he looked very like his father, though with large rather lustrous eyes and the perpetual threat of a dark 5 o'clock shadow

Mary Catherine O'Shaughnessy
(m George Vowles Moncure IV, 27 Jun 1964)
‑2Georges Kopp1,  2
(1902, St Petersburg –
15 Jul 1951, Marseilles)

Georges and Doreen admiring their second son Quentin
Germaine Warnotte
(14 Feb 1901 –
(m ca 1925)
Michel Kopp
(b 8 Feb 1926)

Pierre Kopp
(22 Oct 1927 –
17 May 2010)

Jean Kopp
(9 Feb1929 –

Anne-Marie Kopp
(b 6 Jul 1930)

Paul Kopp
(b 26 Jan 1932)
Doreen Hunton
(1910 –
30 Jul 1969)
(m 1944)
Stephen M Kopp
(24 Feb 1945 –
12 Sep 1964)

Quentin Kopp
(m Liz Pošner)

Mary Geraldine Kopp
(m Andrew William Wheeler, 20 Sep 1980)

George & Doreen are implausibly saidA to have adopted Richard Blair after Orwell's death
‑2Beatrice Binning
(b 1891?)

see opening chapter of The Girl from the Fiction Department
Charles Brownell
(ca 1882 –
29 Dec 1918)
Beatrice Brownell

Sonia Mary Brownell
(25 Aug 1918, Ranchi –
11 Dec 1980)
Geoffrey Dixon
(m 5 Jan 1920)
Michael Dixon
(b 1921)
‑1Sonia Mary Brownell
(25 Aug 1918, Ranchi –
11 Dec 1980)
Eric Arthur Blair
aka George Orwell
(25 Jun 1903, Motihari, India –
21 Jan 1950)
(m 13 Oct 1949)
Maj Michael Augustus Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers
(27 May 1917 –
Dec 1999)
(m 1958 –

strange bedfellows
‑1Marjorie Frances Blair
(21 Apr 1898, W Bengal –
3 May 1946)
Humphrey Burns Dakin
(12 Jul 1895 –
Q4 1970)
(m 1920)

civil servant
he subsequently (Q3 1946) married Vera S Vardon, daughter Charlotte Dakin
Jane Frances Dakin
(b Q2 1923)

Henry Burns Blair Dakin
(b Q3 1926)

Lucy Penelope Dakin
(b Q4 1930)
‑1 Eric Arthur Blair
aka George Orwell 1,   2,   3,   4,  B
(25 Jun 1903, Motihari –
21 Jan 1950)
(m 13 Oct 1949)
the most brilliantly savage satirist since Jonathan Swift

he certainly merited his reputation as a secular saint, but he wasn't terribly likeable, and had few if any social skills

(that's the trouble with saints and prophets in general, and why they so often get cold-shouldered by the wayward populace)

his diction was also criticised by a BBC mandarin as being unattractive and likely to repel his Indian target audience; it was variously described as strangulated (not helped by the bullet through his throat or his chain smoking), and a peculiar mixture of old-Etonian and Estuarine
Eileen O'Shaughnessy
(BA English, Oxon, 1927)
(MA Psychology, UCL 1936)
(25 Sep 1905 –
29 Mar 1945)
(m 9 Jun 1936)
much the nicer and more accomplished wife IHMO
Richard Horatio Blair1,  2,  3
(b May 1944, Tyneside, rescued by Gwen Hunton, and adopted Jun 1944)

Orwell was a most devoted, affectionate and responsible father to him
implausibly said A' to have been re-adopted by Georges Kopp and Doreen née Hunton after Orwell's death

in reality he lived with Orwell's sister Avril and her husband Bill Dunn, initially on Jura, later on the mainland

(m Eleanor Moir,
24 Jun 1964)
Sonia Mary Brownell
(25 Aug 1918, Ranchi –
11 Dec 1980)
(m 13 Oct 1949,
1949 4Q Pancras 4d 801)
‑1Avril Nora Blair
(6 Apr 1908 –
11 Jan 1978)
Bill Dunn
(b ca 1921 –
(m 1950)

he subsequently married Jane Dakin
Avril and Bill brought up Richard Blair after Orwell's death
0Jane Frances Dakin
(b Q2 1923)
Bill Dunn  
Bill Morgan  
0Henry Burns Blair Dakin
(b Q3 1926)
0Lucy Penelope Dakin
(b Q4 1930)
Harold Robert Bestley
inter alia,
Peter Bestley


A A'!/2013/02/george-at-greystone.html

Eileen and Orwell also adopted a son, Richard, which made life very difficult when their flat was bombed in a German air raid. Fortunately, early in 1944, Eileen's sister-in-law, Gwen, invited them to stay at Greystone. Gwen was a Hunton - a family of Sedgefield doctors and Stockton solicitors whose home was Greystone. (v)) Her husband, Lawrence, a world-renowned chest surgeon, was Eileen's brother, but he had been killed at Dunkirk in 1940. Eileen was obviously close to the Huntons. She had introduced Gwen's sister, Doreen, to Orwell's Marxist commander in the Spanish Civil War, a Russian revolutionary called Georges Kopp, and they had married.(vi)

How the worries of the world must have crowded in on [Orwell] as he sat for a few dreadful days at Greystone. There was Eileen's funeral to arrange (she was buried in Jesmond, Newcastle); there was Richard's future to sort out (he was adopted by Doreen, the doctor's daughter from Sedgefield, and Kopp, the Russian revolutionary).(vii) There was his own health to worry about – he was coughing and spitting blood – and there were ideas and notes for his new book nagging away at the back of his mind.

After the funeral, Orwell packed up at Greystone and severed his ten-year association with the North-East – an association that had brought him love, happiness, security and ideas, but which had ultimately ended in tragedy.


The later stages of Orwell's terminal pulmonary tuberculosis, then known as consumption, were marked by cachexia, maybe these days still an accepted medical terminology, meaning pathological wastage of the body. A similar (though archaic) diagnosis in such circumstances (as I've noticed) seems to have been phthisis, which in a specific context implies wastage of any bodily organ such as the eye, but if stated without qualification implies overall bodily shrivelling – cachexia would seem to mean bodily phthisis.

Laurence (Larry) O'Shaughnessy
(13 Nov 1938 – 3 May 2003)

Churchill once described Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. The same could have been said of Larry, both during his lifetime and to this very day. The allusion is particularly apt in view of both Larry's and Churchill's connections with 34 Redcliffe Gardens.

At the moment (Jan 2017), Larry's only unequivocally-established achievement is to have written, and had published, an authoritative, well-written and very clearly-presented guidebook to social security for the unemployed,

Please click here for a pdf of the Table of Contents and the Introduction – the information itself is not included as it is by now (Jan 2017) 40 years out of date.

As noted on the back cover, Larry published under a pseudonym, possibly to avoid being targeted by the authorities for giving the game away, though in fact he wasn't revealing any secrets as such. However, I suspect he'd been 'on the dole' for rather more than three years.

To Be Continued.