For many years, I grew up assuming our past was from a lineage with Spanish origins. I had vague memories that my paternal grandparents came from the west. But with little understanding of their cultural background, this became a fascination and a mystery to me. My forefathers, for some reason, i wanted to believe, had originally come from Spain, hence the surname Mendez. And my mother’s family, the Edwardians, from an anglo Asian background. And the mystery unfolds.
Tracing family roots back through generations can help me connect more deeply learning about my family's past—where they came from, who they were, what they did, the trials they overcame, the accomplishments they achieved, the dreams they had.
Florence Jenny Lee had an older sister, Pauline, and a brother Peter. Peter was a carpenter, lived his life and died in Ipoh, Malaysia. Florence mother, Julian, and father, Antony Lee, could do all that they could, to support their children during these difficult times. When Florence was 3 years old, her mother, Julian passed. Antony gave their children up for adoption to the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus in Penang, Malaysia. During the time, they moved through different convents. From Penang, then to Malacca and finally to The Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus in Singapore. Pauline did not survive as her health was succumbed to tuberculosis and Pleurisy at a young age of 17.
The nuns at the convent taught Florence to cook, clean and sew for the Eurasian community. Joseph Bernard gave Florence a job to assist his wife, Louisa Gregory, in cooking. Married to Louisa on May 23, 1927
Joseph Bernard was born in Penang on 12 August 1869. He studied and worked as a Compounder and Dresser for the Geil Pauper Hospital in Penang. And later became a State Surgeon and worked for 18 years in the Straits Government Service before retiring to Singapore with a decent pension. He took with him, 5 of his 9 children. They took up residence in Upper Serangoon Road. Joseph died when he was 76 years old.