Guy Neville Lomax 1889 – 1973

Guy Lomax with his daughter Alison

Guy came from a fascinating family. His paternal grandfather, Thomas Smith, was a currier ( a leather worker) in Bermondsey but was also an extraordinary businessman who  made enough money to study at Cambridge and qualify as a vicar. He retired to Weston-super-Mare, with a most impressive property portfolio, the modern day equivalent of a multimillionaire. 

Guy’s father, Montagu changed his name from Smith to Lomax-Smith and finally Lomax. I am not sure why. He was a general practitioner by training. He wrote an expose of the lunatic asylum system in the early 1920s and his work laid the foundations for the 1930 Mental Treatment Act which introduced much needed reforms to psychiatric care in the UK.

Guy’s mother Ethel, born in Cape Colonies, was the daughter of a colonial chaplain, Edward Pickering. Her brother, Neville Pickering, was Cecil Rhodes’ lover . Following Neville’s early death, Ethel’s younger brother William took over Neville’s post as company secretary and then director of  the De Beers diamond corporation.

Guy was born in London but spent his early childhood in New Zealand where his father was a GP.  His brother and sister were born in New Zealand The family returned to the UK in the summer of 1896, when Guy was 7 years old, probably to ensure a good standard of education for Guy.

Guy went to prep school at Leamington College. For some reason, possibly his health, his father moved the family briefly to Norfolk. Guy won a scholarship to Gresham’s school in Norfolk with a value of £30 . This would have covered half his boarding fees of £60 per year, according to Gresham’s archivist. The balance of his fees would most likely have been covered by an inheritance from his paternal aunt, Mary. He started Gresham’s during the Lent Term of 1901 and left In August 1906, aged 17. He was a good sportsman , like his father representing his house at rugby and hockey. He was also a prefect

The Gresham’s leavers’ records suggested that he was planning  to go to Canada, and I found shipping records that confirmed he went to Vermont in 1907. The archivist at Gresham’s said a lot of boys did this for farming experience. I haven’t been able to find out much more about his time there, but according to the literature, there was a considerable anti- British feeling in Canada at the time. This was because the Canadian Government suspected that the British Government was encouraging its urban poor to emigrate to Canada for a better life. These people were totally unsuitable for the agricultural labour required and became a drain on the Canadian economy. Whilst Guy was not a member of the urban poor, he may not have found the welcome he was hoping for, and  had returned home to the UK by 1909.

The next available record is a shipping log showing him going out from the UK to Durban in 1909. He was 20 years old at this point, and I suspect he was visiting his maternal uncle (William Pickering) and aunt (Minna Sampson) who both lived in the Cape Colony.

At 21, he was able to receive the rental monies from his inheritance, so he had a source of income to finance university. I know he went to Oxford university but can’t find a record of subject or college or year. He entered Edinburgh University Medical School in 1913, and passed his first MB in April 1914. On his 25th birthday in 1914, Guy was able to take control of the three Kensington properties left to him by his Aunt Mary. It is not clear whether he sold them, or used the rents as a continuing source of income. The future must have looked very rosy indeed with a prestigious career in medicine ahead of him, and an assured income.

Then of course, the Great War broke out in the summer of 1914. Only final year medical students were allowed to continue their studies at first, with junior students encouraged to ‘do their bit’ by joining up as combatants. In common with many of his classmates, Guy joined the army, and  never went back to complete his medical studies. Guy fought with The Prince of Wales (North Staffordshire Regiment) and was confirmed Lieutenant  12/10/1915. He served in France and was wounded in 1916. He did return to active service, and was gazetted as Captain before the end of the war.

Once Guy had been demobilised, he went out to Africa. Shipping records from 5th June 1920 show his occupation as ‘Planter’ in British East Africa (Kenya Colonies). I haven’t managed to find out much more about this, but I assume he was trying his luck as a coffee/tea/flax planter in Kenya, perhaps as part of the soldier settler scheme.

Guy married Norah Prendergast at the Brompton Oratory in July 1922. Her family were based in Durban, but were originally from Ireland.  In March 1924, shipping records show him heading to Kenya with occupation still declared as ‘Planter’. According to his grandaughter, he was also a tea planter in Ceylon. By 1933, he was  Secretary of the prestigious Durban Club, so I have assumed that the planting venture didn’t work out. He had some wealthy  relatives living in and around Durban at the time, so I wondered if they had pulled strings for him. At any rate, he remained as secretary at the Durban Club for the rest of his working life.

Guy had two children – Armine Guy Greville Lomax, and  Alison Lomax. Armine joined the Coldstream Guards, and later became a businessman and stockbroker living in London. Alison qualified as a doctor, training in the UK and going back to work and live in South Africa.

He died in Durban in 1973.

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