The Air Mail cover has two KGV Head stamps, the 2d red and 4d olive, as well as a pair of the dull claret Hermes 1 shilling 6 pence stamps, for a total postage of 3 shillings 6 pence. They are all cancelled with the 3 AIR MAIL 3/ 5-P21 DE 36/ SYDNEY N.S.W. postmark. The cover is addressed to Miss Beatrice I. Hassall, Church Missionary Society, Jerusalem, Palestine, and both the Society and Jerusalem are through-lined and it is readdressed to Ramallah (Figure 1).
The reverse has a transit double circle CALCUTTA G.P.O./ 28 DEC 36 and a manuscript ‘Jerusalem 2/1/ ‘37/ MW’ (Figure 2).
A map of Palestine ca. 1936 shows that Ramallah is very close to Jerusalem, 10k (Figure 3).
The Church Missionary Society was founded in 1799 by a small group of thinking evangelists who met as the ‘Eclectic Society’ for three years at the ‘Castle and Falcon’ in London. The group included John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace and William Wilberforce who had slave trading abolished in England. The group discussed “What is the best method of planting and promulgating the Gospel in Botany Bay?” More discussion of mission topics arose over the next few years, and the society would later be known as the Church Missionary Society (CMS).
The Society was responsible for sending the first chaplains to Australia and one notable appointment was Samuel Marsden, well known in both Australia and New Zealand.
Marsden’s efforts saw a CMS Auxilliary set up in Sydney in 1825, primarily to engage in work amongst Aboriginal people. CMS Associations were set up around Australia, and the first Australian missionary, Helen Philips sailed for Ceylon in 1892. In 1916 the States came together and the CMS of Australia was formed. CMS sent missionaries to many countries by this time, including China, India, Palestine and Iran.
The Hassall family – Rowland, Elizabeth, two-year-old Thomas and baby Samuel Otoo sailed from England for Tahiti aboard the Duff in 1796, and they stayed there for a year. On their arrival in Sydney in the Nautilus on 14 May 1798, they and the boys lived on Rev Samuel Marsden’s farm at North Brush, Dundas. They owned three goats, Elizabeth believing the milk would be good for her boys. “After a few weeks was elapsed, His Excellency Governor Hunter gave me 100 acres of land, in the district of Dundas, and two men to work it. “
Fast forward to James Mileham Hassall born at Macquarie Grove on 5 November 1826. He married 18 year old Anne Isabella Hume in 1853 at Gundaroo N.S.W. and they eventually bought a huge run called Wambrook at Cooma N.S.W. where the family settled in 1870. There were 14 children of this marriage all of whom survived into adult life, 8 daughters and six sons, Beatrice Isabel Hassall being the last child born at Berridale N.S.W. in 1875. Her mother Anne aged 43 died only 3 years after Beatrice’s birth. Beatrice never married and she joined the Church Mission Society and served in Palestine for an unknown period. She died in 1955 at Petersham N.S.W. at the age of 80. Attempts at obtaining additional information on her are ongoing, and her photo is shown in Figure 4.
The information on the Hassall family is extracted from the book on 200 years of the Hassall Family in Australia, 1798-1998.
Addendum (December 2009): Another cover addressed to Miss Beatrice Isabel Hassall, Church Missionary Society, Ramallah, Palestine in the 1930s was sent by air mail from Milson’s Point , N.S.W.