Cleaver, Llewellyn - I2932

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The Cleavers in the Netherlands

Told through the words of Violet Agnes Cleaver


Llewellyn Cleaver and Emilie le Doux met in Jersey where Llewellyn was stationed as a non-commissioned officer. Llewellyn had also served in a military capacity in India and Africa. Emilie lived on Jersey at the farm of her god-parents having been born into a family of 14 children in Normandy, France.

Llewellyn was still a soldier when he married Emilie on 26 October 1880 but by the following year, the 1881 census shows that he had quit the army and was working as an agricultural labourer in Tetbury, Gloucestershire.

The Dutchman, Baron Van Brienen had a house near Tetbury, and it was whilst he was in the area scouting for horses that he met Llewellyn. Van Brienen lived in a house at Clingendaal, The Hague and he had gone to Tetbury to look for horses for the Duindigt racecourse near The Hague. (It is probable that Llewellyn was knowledgeable on the subject of horses as a result of his military service).

Van Brienen invited Llewellyn to The Hague to work for him looking after his horses. Llewellyn agreed and the family moved out there to live in the gate-keeper's lodge of the Clingendaal Estate. Violet recalls that she was 2 years old when the family left England for the new life in Holland.

Some time later, Llewellyn quit his job with Van Brienen and went to work at the British Embassy in The Hague. Initially, he would have been working with the horses but later, motor cars were added. According to Violet, Llewellyn worked at the Embassy for 40 years.

Conversation in the Cleaver household must have been arduous; Llewellyn didn't speak a word of French and Emilie didn't speak a word of English! Nevertheless, it was Emilie that had to adapt as Violet spoke English at home!

Violet remembers her time at the Clingendaal Estate as a happy time. She played with the Van Brienen children and with other children of well known families of nobility. She was really spoilt as a child during the 10 years (approximately) they lived on the estate.

Llewellyn's employment with the Embassy meant moving to a "big" house in The Hague, Laan 19.

Of all her siblings, Violet had the best relationship with her younger sister, Ada. There was too much difference in character between Violet and Alice. Unfortunately for Violet, Ada went to Brussels, Belgium after WW1. Soon after moving there she died of typhoid and pneumonia.

Violet liked her father more than her mother and spent much more time with him. Sadly, her mother Emilie, passed away at just 61 while her father lived to be nearly 81.

Violet learned French at home after Primary School and later trained to be a hat maker. She went to London when she was 18 to take care of the child of Van Brienen's sister-in-law. She also worked in Tetbury as a nanny for a while. After about 2 years, she returned to Holland.

Up until the first world war, Violet had held various jobs in child care and English tuition, including spending a year in Brussels. Following the war, she spent a year on the Holland-America Line as a stewardess. During this time, she made numerous trips to New York looking after passengers in their luxurious cabins.

Violet married Jan J Bouman in 1919 and became a "Housewife". The family then spent about 2 years in the Dutch Indies.

Victor died in India from cholera at the age of 23.

As for Percy, he lived and worked in Paris, France as a cab driver but after contracting tuberculosis, Violet brought him back to a sanatorium in Holland. Violet recalls Percy as "a cheerful person".


The following are links to the genealogy pages of those mentioned above (in order of mention):
Llewellyn Cleaver
Emilie Delphine le Doux
Violet Agnes Cleaver
Ada Louise Cleaver
Alice Emelie Cleaver
Jan Jacobus Bouman
Lewis 'Victor' Llewellyn Cleaver
Percy Cleaver

Acknowledgements and Thanks

Grateful thanks and acknowledgements to Jan Bouman for donating the original cassette tape made by his mother, Violet Agnes Cleaver, and also to Edward Toet for his permission to publish, and for the translation from Dutch into English.