Kate Evelyn Nason
Kate Evelyn Nason, most well-known as Kate Meyrick, or even Ma Meyrick, is our only famous, notorious even, ancestor. Owner of nightclubs, mother of eight, mother-in-law of British aristocracy, convicted criminal, she must have been a daunting lady.
Somewhere in the family possession is a portrait of the young Kate, painted at the age of 16 when the future looked bright. And the future was bright then, and at her birth, but always it seemed disaster was just around the corner. It is a tribute to this woman’s character that she achieved as much as she did, and more or less completely on her own too.
I’m not sure whether one would consider her beautiful - the photograph above is taken before she embarked on her night-club career, but it is certainly a lively face. She is the maternal grandmother of the current elder Dearmans, but never known to this particular line of grandchildren, having succumbed to the influenza pandemic of 1933.
She wrote a book, or rather, I suspect, had it ghostwritten - though a very distinctive voice does shine through. The book is called Secrets of the 43 Club and purports to be a tell-all story of her life. But it actually tells us very little about her personal life, concentrating as it does on the rich and famous who passed through the doors of her various clubs. It also has to be said that it is not very well-written, but it was banned at the time - supposedly for the secrets about some of her customers that she revealed. I don’t recall anything terribly risqué, indeed it is all very discreet. But I have quoted from it here and there. They’re making it into a musical it seems! Andrew Marr has also included Kate in his series on Modern Britain. If you live in the UK you can watch the program Having a Ball.
Kate Evelyn Nason
b 7 August 1875, Dun Loaghaire, Dublin
m Ferdinand Richard Holmes Merrick 12 December 1899 Monkstown, Co. Dublin
d 1933 London
Mary Ethel Isobel 1901-1938
Dorothy Evelyn 1902-1987
Henry Lyster 1903
Kathleen Holmes 1907
Gordon Holmes 1909-1947
Eileen Margaret N. 1910-1959
Lilian Agnes 1912-
Gwendoline Irene 1914-2002
Census for 1901, 1911
Secrets of the 43 Club by Kate Meyrick
Various articles from The Times and other newspapers
A diminutive of Katherine which comes from the Greek meaning ‘pure’. Common in Ireland - the Anglo-Saxon version was Catherine. Kate is still popular today.
Katherine, Catherine, Caitlin
Katie, Kat, Kath, Kay
Comes from the surname of a Norman lord in 1495. Well there are other suggestions - Germanic meaning ‘desired’, and Hebrew meaning ‘light’. Another common Irish name though, and sometimes used for boys as well, though nowadays it is used almost exclusively for girls, albeit not very often.