The musicians among PGH’s forebears were mostly on her mother’s side of the family. Her maternal grandfather Charles Edward Barley, born in Gorlston Suffolk to an unmarried house servant, became a Methodist minister and emigrated to New Zealand, while his sister Emma, a milliner and dressmaker, married a professor of music in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Several of Charles Barley’s descendants were musicians. His eldest son Alf became a dentist in the town of Hawera on the north island of New Zealand, and in his spare time played in the pit orchestra at the local theatre. Alf Barley’s son Ron became a cinema organist in Sydney and in 2018, in his late 80s, was still playing the organ at the Majestic Theatre in Pomona in Queensland. Charles Barley’s eldest daughter Myrtle, PGH’s mother, could be described as a ceramic artist, but this would restrict her to only one of the many crafts she practised. According to her son Beric, she had a beautiful singing voice and was an exceptional pianist. Her sister Acacia was a pianist who was said to have accompanied Melba on a tour of New Zealand. She married a Methodist minister and although official records simply describe her as a wife, her relatives refer to her as a musician. Her granddaughter Deirdre Tarrant is a well-known dancer in New Zealand, a former dancer with the Royal Ballet School and the founder of Footnote Dance, described as “New Zealand’s most enduring and influential contemporary dance company”. Although Ron West and his brother both immigrated to Australia they were born in the 1930s, after PGH had left for London. Among her personal papers, however, are several photos of her very beautiful aunt Acacia taken probably in 1908 when Myrtle Barley became engaged to Ernest Hicks.
Images: Myrtle and Acacia Barley, c. 1908: MLMSS 6394/27, SLNSW; Deirdre Tarrant: New Zealand Listener; Ron West: In Noosa Magazine.