The Russian Revolution leaves Emily Penniless

Emily’s financial trouble may have been building up for some time, even back as far as when she was widowed in 1908. Her husband Captain Weddall, died intestate, however Emily eventually claimed his estate of £276 9s 5d, roughly €18,000 in today’s money. In 1917 it was almost a decade since his death the cash was possibly well spent. One such occasion which easily have put a dent in her finances was the possible purchase of her house Rockfield from the Mission Estate in 1913. By the time revolution broke out in February/March of that year she may have been feeling the pinch. By November, when the second wave of the uprising took place,  her income from her shares in Russian Industry were to be wiped out completely.

Emily possibly kept an eye on the news unfolding in Russia, not necessarily for financial reasons but for her great empathy with the Russian people. Her affinity with the country began years earlier when she visited or perhaps worked there as a nurse. It would have still hit hard the moment that she discovered the gravity of her financial future. Since the death of her husband she had led a pretty independent life, not afforded to many at the time, especially women. She had the financial freedom to do what she pleased and she did. But what she did could not have been considered self indulgent, as she gave her resources freely, including her time.

Emily was as generous with her time as she was with her money. She co-founded the Lower Achill branch of the Gaelic League, Scoil Acla and financed the Hall in Dooagh. She gave her time to the same causes and sat on many committees working tirelessly for all. But now that she had no resources left she would have to go back to work as a nurse. But all was not lost she still managed to help those that needed her assistance. Even in financial trouble herself she still scraped what she could together to help the widows and orphans of 1916.

Her good friend Mary O’Connor recounts the day that Emily asked her to her house. She knew there was something seriously wrong when a gloom looking Emily opened a cupboard, a pile of letters came tumbling out. The documents were notices from the bank, dating back quite a while. All were informing her of her worsening financial state. Emily may have sheepishly admitted to Mary that she had paid no attention to the letters until then.

As the two women went through the documents it was coming more apparent how much debt Emily was actually in. The bottom line was that Emily had no choice but to go back to work immediately and possibly sell her house. She did get work eventually. An unfortunate turn of events in 1918 secured her full employment. But the sale of her house would take nearly a full decade, and a long drawn out legal wrangle.

Liverpool Daily Post 17 March 1917
 Ní Dheirg, Íosold. Emily M. Weddall: Bunaitheoir Scoil Acla. Baile Atha Cliath: Coisceim, 1995.