MARY CHRYSTIE
AND HER FAMILY

This book, by Judith Witter, who is a member of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society, follows the life of Mary Chrystie and her family in the Victorian period.

She lived in Bookham for nearly 50 years until her death in 1911 aged 73 and she is remembered to this day in the Chrystie Recreation Ground on the Dorking Road. It tells the story of her family who were involved in sugar plantations in Jamaica and the slave trade and how their lives evolved following receipt of compensation when Parliament finally abolished slavery.

Mary married an army captain in 1859 who had fought in the Crimean War but who died in 1864 leaving no children. She moved to Bookham after her husband’s death and had a big impact on the village for the rest of her life. She had inherited large sums of money which she used to acquire an amazing number of properties and land amounting to thirty one lots by the time of her death.

In particular she bought public houses, closing them to prevent the sale of alcohol and building non-alcoholic hotels (Victoria and Merrylands). She was an ardent follower of the Temperance Movement and keen to persuade others to abstain from alcohol. To this day conditions written into deeds of her old properties ban the sale or use of alcohol.

Mary was a generous benefactor during her lifetime; paying fees and organising outings for Bookham school children, paying for people from the East End of London to visit Bookham and giving away land for the Chrystie Recreation Ground.

The book is very well researched and gives a good insight into life at that time and is a valuable addition to the information available on Bookham. It became available in September 2013 and is a good read at 10 +1.50 postage - see publications page.