Death Haunts Her

Mary Audin Clough Clifton Lewis Panchaud


I’m back at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City researching and collecting data that I would never be able to gather without coming here. As I stay up late (as usual) trying to get organized so I can be more productive on Monday, I’ve just had an epiphany.

An aha moment if you will.

And I don’t know why because I’ve had the majority of information for years but apparently, I never really read what I was collecting.

What’s my epiphany, you ask?

On the world’s most celebrated day of love and devotion, I’ve just realized my great-great grandmother was unlucky in love.

Three times.

My great great grandmother was born Mary Audin Clough on March 23, 1846 in Bombay, India. She was the oldest of 10 children, born to Francis Clough and Celindah Elizabeth Jane Brown.


Marriage certificate of Robert Clifton aka Roberts and Mary Audin Clough 1867

She was 21 when she first married on July 27, 1867 to Robert Clifton aka Roberts, in Bombay. The July 27, 1867 edition of the Times of Indiareported, “St John’s Church Colaba, by the Rev Ward Maule, Robert Roberts to Mary Audin, eldest daughter of the late Francis Clough Esq.”


Birth record of Mary Clifton, 1868

The new union produced a daughter, Mary Clifton, born on Aug. 9, 1868 in Colaba, Bombay, India. But what should have been a happy time, quickly turn to heartache.


Death certificate of Robert Clifton aka Roberts

Robert, her new husband, died short seven months later of a hepatitis abscess at the age of 36 on Mar. 1, 1869 in Parell, India.

 The heartache didn’t end there.

Five months after losing her husband, my grandmother lost her daughter. On Aug. 5, 1869, little Mary died of convulsions at the age of 11 months, 27 days old.


Death certificate of Mary Clifton (Roberts), 1869

She was a widow and had lost a child at the age of 23.

The following year offered hope, and on Dec. 22, 1870, she gave love a try again and walked down the aisle of St. Thomas Cathedral into the arms of Henry Lewis, a 31-year old merchant. Again the Times of India reported of her marriage, “Dec 22nd at St Thomas Cathedral by the Rev CT Wilson, BA Henry Lewis, Esq., Bombay of Messrs Pelly & Co to Mary Audin, relict of the late R Roberts, Esq. of Messrs Nicol & Co and eldest daughter of the late Francis Clough, Esq., of Bombay.”


Marriage certificate of Mary Audin Clough Clifton (Roberts) and Henry Lewis, 1870

She was 24.

To this union, two daughters were born. Alice Coultana Lewis, on Dec. 17, 1871 and Edith Nora Farguharson Lewis on Jun. 23, 1873.

But Mary’s happiness once again was short lived.

She once again lost a daughter at 11 months. Her youngest daughter, Edith died on Jun. 17, 1874 at Ranchi, Bengal. Her father, Mary’s second husband, died six months later, passing on Dec. 13, 1874 at Lucknow, Bengal, India at the age of 35.

I think the memories of her native land proved too much for young Mary to handle, and she fled the country of her birth for England. I have yet to discover what happened to their oldest daughter, Alice, but I believe she must have died as well. Mary went alone to England and when she married my great great grandfather, she brought no children to the union.

Mary Audin Clough Clifton Lewis married Louis Panchaud, a widower with two children living in the home, on Jan. 19, 1877 at Glamorgan, West Glamorgan, Wales. Six months later, she gave birth to my great grand uncle Albert Louis Panchaud on Jun. 3, 1877 in Islington, London, England. Happiness seemed to have finally found her.

But once again, death came knocking.

Married just 53 weeks, my great great grandfather, for reasons unknown, committed suicide on Jan. 27, 1878. My great great grandmother was one month pregnant.

At the age of 31, she had buried three husbands and three children.

Eight months after the death of her third husband, Mary gave birth to my great grandfather, Louis Benoni Panchaud on Aug. 30, 1878 at Paddington, Middlesex, England. Once again a widow, but this time she had four children to take care of.

The 1881 census finds Mary and all four children living up the road from where their father and husband ended his life. Her step-children, Henry George Louis and Maud Panchaud, soon moved to their father’s native Switzerland to attend boarding school. Mary’s own sons are sent to boarding school as well, in England. All alone now, Mary moved to Australia sometime about 1889.


Entrance of Dimboola Cemetery in Dimboola, Victoria, Australia where Mary Audin was buried in 1909.

Was she running away from heartache again?

Mary lived in Dimboola, Victoria, Australia for approximately 20 years before she died on Nov. 28, 1909 at the age of 63 after battling illness for three years. The official cause was cholaemia, a leg infected with gangrene, and heart failure. I think she was tired of living alone and died from a broken heart. The undertaker had to submit her info, for she had no family with her at the time of her death. She was laid to rest at Dimboola Cemetery with no marker to let anyone know she’s there.


Mary Audin Panchaud’s death certificate, 1909

She didn’t live to see it, but her sons were strong and grew to manhood. Albert, became a man of the cloth and a headmaster of a private school. He was very much loved by the Bedford community he administered to, and when he died after a long illness on Jun. 3, 1941, his 64th birthday, several newspapers reported of his loss.

My great grandfather, Louis Benoni, who also became a headmaster, moved to Bermuda where he married my great grandmother, Dorothy May Tatem, and had four children. He died at 72 in 1950, surround by children and grandchildren.

I’m sitting here thinking about all the heartache, stress, uncertainty she must have gone through. And I wonder how she did it? How do you bury the men you’ve loved? How do you bury your children? I don’t know that I would have been able to endure what she had to and kept my sanity, especially, during that time. But I am happy that she found the strength to carry on and for not giving up on love. I think my grandmother must have been a strong woman to have endure all that she did and I like to believe that my strength comes from her.

Because of her, I am.



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