F3/5.[4][C] Lois May Freemantle was the third child and third daughter of William Roberts Freemantle and Margaretha Freemantle nee Joubert.  She was born in Burgersdorp on 8.11.1889.  The family remained in Burgersdorp until about 1897 when she was eight years old, so presumably she started her schooling there and continued it in Cala (where there was both a village school and a convent), where they lived until 1900, moving from there to Indwe, where her youngest brother was born.  She was 15 when the family moved to Johannesburg and had a house in what is now the city centre.  After some time they moved to Braamfontein and then to Gardens.

(Lois) May Freemantle was trained as a nurse and in about 1919 she married Jack Cormack in Johannesburg, at the Magistrates Court.  He had also been born in Burgersdorp in 1880, where the Cormack family, like the Jouberts, was quite well known [although the only member of that family traced in detail is a James Davidson Cormack, born 1867 in Burgersdorp, was in the Civil Service in 1888 in Beaufort West, moved to Cape Town and became a clerk at Government House.  He married the daughter of T.H.Parker of Rondebosch.]


Jack Cormack was the son of William Cormack, a Dominee of the Dutch Reformed Church, and Anne Brebner Elliot Cormack (who married in 1862/3).  The other children of William and Anne Cormack were (i) John Brebner Cormack, died young in Burgersdorp; (ii) William James Cormack, who also died young in Burgersdorp; (iii) George William Cormack, again he also died young in Burgersdorp; (iv) Anne Cormack, born 1870, died 13.7.1875 - a very sad history, which was to be repeated in a similar way in the next generation as May and Jack unfortunately lost six babies.

Jack Cormack became a Bank Manager and he died in Bloemfontein in 1943.  Although May and Jack's family started with three sets of twins, during the time they were living in Cape Town, it is understood that they all died very young, as infants.  Then a single child was born, their only remaining child, [6 c.1] Margaret Cormack, who was born on 14.12.1924 in Cape Town.  Her parents separated and were divorced sometime before World War II.  In about 1931/2 May was living in a house in Pretoria and it was there that her mother died on 28.12.1931.

May continued nursing and became a matron of a number of hospitals or nursing homes.   In July, 1944, she married again, to a retired shopkeeper from Ficksburg, who was farming near Bethlehem called George Bishop.  He was a widower, having previously been married to Louisa van Soelen (who died in 1934), by whom he had 5 sons and one daughter; all of whom were living in the Bethlehem-Ficksburg area in the 1970's.  George Bishop died only a few years after this marriage and there was no issue of this union.  May died in Durban in 1959/60.

Her daughter, Margaret married Michael Hathorn on 17th April, 1943 in Johannesburg at St,Martins-in-the-Veld; the reception was held at 'Graystones', the home of her uncle, Eric Freemantle and it was he who 'gave her away'.  Margaret had taken a medical degree at the University of the Witwatersrand and Michael had received both an engineering degree and a medical degree there when they set up practice and ran the Health Clinic in Alexander Township.  Eventually they left South Africa, living for some years in Central Africa, prior to moving to London where they were both still practicing in the Seventies. Margaret also had a practice in Colchester (in about 1972).  They had four children:


7.(a) John Fergus Shaldon Hathorn, born 26.2.1944 in Johannesburg.  He became a doctor living and practicing in Canada.

7.(b) Charles Colin Hathorn, born 23.2.1946 in Pietermaritzburg and he died  in Johannesburg when approximately 14 months old.

7.(c) Alison Rosemary Hathorn (Sally), born 10.6.1948 in Johannesburg and she married Patrick Humphries.

7.(d) Donald James Hathorn, born 21.12.1959 in Durban.


Extract from May Cormack's letter to Gwen Gemmell - 16.2.1939.


Margaret 'arrived back on the morning of 3rd. - the day school started.  I went down to the Station and took her to school.  She was looking very sunburnt and well.  I am so glad she had this lovely holiday as a preliminary to the strenuous year before her.  She is taking the Cambridge matric and is taking 8 subjects for that, in addition to music, art and dancing, not to mention the time spent on sport such as swimming, tennis, lacrosse, etc..  I am told that Margaret is the fourth fastest swimmer in the school.

I was so pleased on my return here to find she had passed the Lower Taalbond exam.  She is the only one among all the cousins who has taken it.

Written by Ruth May:

I recall an incident when all these 'older' [older than me, that is] cousins were at 'Graystones' playing tennis together and a well-known South African tennis star - turned coach - observing them, remarked to my parents, 'If I could choose just one to coach for inter-provincial play and, ultimately to represent this country, it would be that one ...' pointing to Margaret.  She was about 12 at the time.

I so admired Aunt May's snow-white hair and was horrified when she hennaed it bright auburn.[Because the old fashioned dying by henna turned white hair a very bright orange!] Although she explained it was necessary because, when applying for a job as matron, she would be considered too old with her white hair, I could not reconcile myself to the change.

One day when visiting my mother, she was very irate and recounted how, while she was staying with her daughter, Margaret had taken her mackintosh to lend ['give'?] to the maid. 'If she had to help her maid like this, I cannot conceive why she didn't lend her own mackintosh!'


Extract from a letter by Aletta (Jill) Thornton Archer - 10.10.1971


My sister May was also interested at one time [in the family history] but never showed me any of her findings.  I doubt whether her daughter, Margaret will ever swim into our ken again.  I don't know what happened to May's papers, but do not think Margaret was particularly interested - it never occurred to me to ask for the papers if she didn't want them - I was very upset at the time.


Extract from an email from Pamela Bradley - 29.5.2005


Their home is in Hampstead Heath very near to the huge park and they are in easy walking distance from the 'village'.   Our daughter Anne-Marie lives quite close to them.   They bought a place in Highgate near the ancient cemetery.   Michael has a very powerful computer.   He did, and maybe still does, medical research.   I always adored Michael - he was so interesting , with such a warm personality and I was impressed by their politics.   Margaret became a Consultant Psychiatrist in a huge hospital in Essex.   She took me over it once.   She used to write forwards to medical books and of course she plays the piano for hours every day.   She could have been a concert pianist.   Somehow she seemed more formidable.   I saw a lot of them, and Aunt May, when I lived in Durban.   The family gathered for Aunt May's funeral, including your Dad & Aunt Alice.   We provided lunch in our flat before the funeral as some had come a long way.   Margaret & Michael came to Karen & Andrew's wedding 12 years ago.   Margaret was not well then - maybe the beginnings of the form of Parkinson's that she now has.   They had just had the news that their son Donny had been diagnosed as having lymphoma - a form of cancer   He died a few years later.   We went to the funeral - naturally they were inconsolable.   He was a tall, blond, good looking young man with a lovely sense of humour.    Margaret is still very switched on (rather like Pope John Paul II).