GUERNSEY HISTORY 

5th November 1929
Sibyl Beaumont married Robert Hathaway

Robert Hathaway might very well never have heard of Sark before 1929. That was the year when he first its Dame, Sibyl Beaumont. Their initial encounter was in the October – and just one month later they were married. Suddenly, Robert Hathaway was the island’s de facto ruler.

He had been born in New Jersey, USA, on 20 October 1887. He graduated from Yale University and joined the Royal Flying Corps in Canada. He didn’t meet the Dame until after the war. By then he was working in London and had become a naturalised British citizen.

Like many of the best couples, they’d been introduced by a friend. Sibyl was due to sail to New York, but before she left she was introduced to her future husband by Mona Linton. Linton assured her she would like him and, besides, “Bob” could write her some letters of introduction to his family in New York.

But Bob did more than just write letters. He cabled her daily throughout her trip and, upon her return, asked her to dinner every night for three weeks, at the end of which they wed. Sibyl herself described it as a “whirlwind courtship” in her autobiography, The Dame of Sark.

The new ruler

As soon as they were married, they moved back to Sark. There, Bob Hathaway assumed his responsibilities as its leader, the Seigneur. He ruled the island for 25 years, at one point being deported to Germany during the occupation as a reprisal for the abortive Operation Basalt raid.

Although the Dame ruled in his absence, she was always aware that any decrees she signed were, technically, not fully authorised, since they should have been actioned under his authority. Nonetheless, she was very much the figurehead and was treated with respect by the German forces.

Following Robert Hathaway’s death on 15 December 1954, Dame Sibyl continued to rule until her own passing in 1974.

Category: Guernsey History | Other events tagged

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