Terrence B. McMullen: a name on a fly-leaf comes alive

I’m still purging books.  This afternoon I shredded two modern paperback translations of Juvenal and turned them into PDFs.  Both were new, and both are disposable.

But I’ve been caught out slightly.  The next volume was a battered old copy of J. C. Pollock’s A Cambridge Movement (1953), in blue cloth cover.  It’s a history of Christianity at Cambridge.  As I was finishing, I noticed that a name on the fly-leaf was unclear, so I rescanned the page.  The name seemed to read “Terrence B. McMullen.  July 1953”.

Idly I googled the name – and found an obituary in the Times!  It’s behind a paywall so I can’t see much of it, but it sounds like our man:

September 7 2004, 1:00am

Terrence McMullen
Prep-school headmaster who set an example of practical Christian living

TERRENCE McMULLEN was Headmaster of Elstree School for 26 years. He was one of the outstanding prep school headmasters of his generation. He planned and led a period of significant growth in many aspects of the life of the school, and is remembered with affection and respect as a faithful, caring and diligent teacher and administrator.

Terrence Brian McMullen was born on November 11, 1932, in Quetta, India, where his father, Colonel Denis McMullen, CBE, was serving with the British Army. Following the family’s return to England in 1939, he was educated at Cheltenham College and, after National Service in the Royal Engineers, at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He was proud of his membership of 131 Parachute Engineer Regiment (Territorial Army) in 1952-67, for which…

He lived a valuable life, it seems.  A soldier, a Christian, who became a very respected headmaster.

In the Daily Telegraph an announcement:

McMullen.  Terrence Brian, TD, MA on 26th July 2004, aged 71; peacefully at home after a short illness borne faithfully, courageously, calmly. Dearly loved; husband of Margaret, father of Mark, Jonnie, Rachel and Debs, grandfather of Daisy, Willa, Felix, Grace and Eliza, brother of Morrice, Susan and Norman, and of many friends. Much respected Headmaster of Elstree School (1969-95). Private family funeral at St. Peter’s, Woolhampton. Thanksgiving Service, Thursday, 19th August 2004 at 2.30 p.m. St. Mary’s, Funtington (dress cheerful). No flowers please. Donations, if desired, for St. Mary’s Funtington Extension Appeal or Tear Fund, sent to Edward White & Son, 74-77 St. Pancras, Chichester.

Tear Fund is The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund, so this too is right.

McMullen was evidently at Cambridge as an undergraduate in 1953 when the book appeared, and had lived through some of the events described.  He was one of us.  It sat on his shelves all his life, and was disposed of with his books in 2004.  Some years later it came to me, and has probably sat on my shelves for a decade.  Now it’s a PDF.

I wish that I had known this.  I would have preserved his book, battered as it was.  In future I must be more careful.

UPDATE (10 April 2019):  Soon after writing this, on 28 March 2019, I received an email from Mr McMullen’s daughter, Debs Burles!  She very kindly sent me the following:

Terrence B McMullen

She wrote:

Hello, I was very interested to read the above, Terrence is my father! How amazing the internet can be…he would love to know that we have made this connection with you! …

I have found the attached which is probably a bit after his time at Cambridge but might be a good one to post.

Memories of Dad, wow, so many and too many to write.  He was the most amazing father with outstanding morals and Christian values. I blame him for my chocolate addiction and for my love of skiing, sailing, card games, in fact all games including sports and board games! If I have inherited just a few of his qualities I will be happy.

The world is a much smaller place than we realise.


4 thoughts on “Terrence B. McMullen: a name on a fly-leaf comes alive

  1. While I understand the impulse– and probably would’ve put the book back together (looking at the wall of kid’s books behind me, badly)– you have preserved it.

    For so long as those images survive.

    Perhaps hold on to it until the copyright passes, and publish it?

  2. Hello, I was very interested to read the above, Terrence is my father! How amazing the internet can be…he would love to know that we have made this connection with you! All best, Debs

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