The Unusual Obituary of Archibald Hugh Conway Fargus

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Archibald Hugh Conway Fargus: photo courtesy of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club

Dr Kim Price has already touched on the devastating effect that WWI had on the second and third generations of the Victorian Professions cohort in his blog post The Sludge of Flanders. There was significant loss of life, with the officer class to which most of our sample belonged suffering the greatest fatalities, but survivors also experienced great difficulties acclimatising to life back home.

Archibald Hugh Conway Fargus was the son of cohort member Bristolian auctioneer Frederick John Fargus, perhaps better known as novelist Hugh Conway. Educated at Clifton College, Haileybury, and Pembroke College, Cambridge, Archibald was ordained as a Vicar and joined the Royal Navy in 1907 as a Chaplain. Although he had left the Navy in 1913, the outbreak of WWI in 1914 prompted Archibald to reenlist, and he was assigned to H.M.S Monmouth which set sail for the Pacific in January 1914. In November 1914, the H.M.S Monmouth engaged in the Battle of Coronel off the coast of Chile where it was sunk, with the loss of all on board.

During his time at school and Cambridge, Archibald had proved himself to be a talented cricketer, winning his Blue for cricket in 1900 and 1901, and representing Gloucestershire County Cricket Club. This cricketing prowess meant that Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack picked up on the story of Archibald’s death at sea, and printed his obituary in their 1915 edition. Somewhat embarrassingly for Wisden (but much to Archibald’s relief!), he had in fact never been on board H.M.S Monmouth because he missed his train to the port, thus placing him in the very unusual position of being alive to read his own obituary. Somewhat ironically, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack failed to record Archibald’s actual death in 1963, only finally printing his correct obituary in 1994.

Dr Jennifer Aston

 

With thanks to Roger Gibbons of Gloucester County Cricket Club. His book In Memoriam Gloucestershire Cricketers Killed in the Great War is available here http://www.gloscricket.co.uk/product/in-memoriam/

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Anonymous Heroes: the Dinas Mine Rescue Service

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Dinas Mine Rescue Service c.1912.
Photograph courtesy of Merthyr Tydfil Local Studies Department

 

On a recent trip to Merthyr Tydfil Library, I was searching through several large boxes of uncatalogued photographs, newspaper articles, and photocopies of handwritten notes when I discovered the image of a mine rescue team above. There were no annotations on the back of the photograph to give any clue as to the names of the men, the date of the photograph, or even where it was taken. However, from the hair (and moustache!) style of the subjects, I estimated that the picture was probably taken circa 1910.

This was an exciting discovery. Although mining disasters had sadly long been commonplace, any serious rescue and recovery efforts only became possible after Johann Heinrich Dräger and his son Bernhard invented valves that allowed the successful removal of carbon dioxide and the regulation of oxygen flow in tanks in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Therefore, the equipment in this photograph must have been among the very earliest available[i].

Some online detective work led me to Andrew Watson at MRS Training and Rescue (formerly Mines Rescue Service), who confirmed that the equipment in the picture was the 1904 Dräger model which had been used by rescuers in the Courrières mining disaster in 1906, saving many lives. Astoundingly, despite the small amount of background shown in the picture, Andrew also managed to tell me where the photograph was taken; the Dinas Mine Rescue Station, some 16 miles south of Merthyr Tydfil. The station was opened by King George V and Queen Mary in June 1912, and I suggest that this picture is most likely from around this date.

 

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One last mystery remains: who were the men in the photograph? Or perhaps more accurately, who were the men and boys in the photograph? While none of the men are old, the two figures in the top left corner, particularly the one on the left, cannot be any older than their mid-teens. It is unlikely that we will ever discover the identity of any of the men (although if you recognise anyone, please do get in touch), but the harrowing accounts of miners and mine rescue workers from the early 1900s shows that serving in the Mines Rescue Service must have required an extraordinary amount of bravery, and one can only imagine the horrors they faced, even with cutting-edge breathing apparatus.

 

Dr Jennifer Aston

With thanks to Mary Oates at Merthyr Tydfil Library and Andrew Watson at MRS Training & Rescue.

[i] For more information see: http://www.draeger.com/sites/assets/PublishingImages/Segments/Corporate/EN/About-Draeger/Company-profile/the_history_of_draeger.pdf

Pandora’s Box: Family Trees on the High Seas

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HMS Montagu Forcing the Enemy to Move from Bertheaume Bay, 22 August 1800
by Jeffrey Raigersfeld (1771-1844)
(Photo credit: National Maritime Museum)

I’m sure many a Victorian schoolboy day-dreamed himself to the South Seas and onboard the HMS Bounty for the most famous of all mutinies. The Bounty left England just before Christmas 1787 on a ten-month-journey to collect breadfruit saplings for slave food in Jamaica. Following an arduous sail, the crew enjoyed themselves a little too much on the paradise island of Tahiti – many of the men took Tahitian ‘wives’. Three weeks into the second leg of the journey, reluctant to leave their new lives behind and later claiming their captain was tyrannical, the Bounty‘s First Mate, 23-year-old Fletcher Christian, 15-year-old Peter Heywood and others staged the infamous mutiny. Setting Captain Bligh and company adrift in an open boat, Christian and some of the mutineers settled with their wives on Pitcairn island, 1350 miles south east of Tahiti. Although murder and suicide claimed the lives of 8 of the 9 mutineers on Pitcairn, their community eventually thrived. The last mutineer, John Adams, was ultimately pardoned and Pitcairn Island incorporated into the British Empire. By 1855 and with 200 residents Queen Victoria even granted them more territory in the form of Norfolk Island, a former penal colony, 3700 miles to the west. [The illustration below is on Whatman paper, the finest paper at this time and a detail that will become important later in our story.]

 

Norfolk Island

Whatman watermarked paper:
1893 facsimile of ‘Plan and view of the landing place in Cascade Bay Norfolk Island, 1793’ by C. Grimes Depy. Surveyor
(Photo credit: State Library, New South Wales, Australia)

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.47.00Those mutineers that chose to remain in Tahiti, if they were not murdered, were eventually captured. Amazingly Bligh’s navigational skills had successfully guided his overloaded open (!) boat across treacherous waters to Timor and from there he eventually made it to England where he reported them. The admiralty despatched HMS Pandora under Captain Edwards which successfully captured those mutineers still alive on Tahiti but not those hiding on Pitcairn. In a further dramatic turn of events, Pandora ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef. Many in “Pandora’s Box” drowned because they were still in shackles while the crew tried to save the ship but Peter Heywood and nine other prisoners were released just in time but only to be transported back to England. This etching of the Pandora foundering by Robert Batty (1789-1848) is actually based on a sketch by Heywood. Back in England, the Court Martial in 1792 sentenced three of the captured mutineers to hanging and the other three, including Heywood, were eventually pardoned. Class and patronage played a substantial role in their exoneration. Heywood’s family had secured expensive representation and were very well connected. Ironically, it was family connections that had put both Heywood and Christian on Bligh’s Bounty in the first place. Heywood was very much part of a family project – from a long line of Manx naval men – and had been recommended by Bligh’s father-in-law. Fletcher Christian hailed from the Cumberland gentry and a family devoted to the law but had spurned their old profession for the excitement of the sea.

 

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Captain Peter Heywood (1772-1831) by John Simpson (1742-1787)
Photo Credit: National Maritime Museum

 

Heywood was even subsequently re-commissioned by the Royal Navy, under Admiral Lord Hood – the man who had resided over his very court martial. Despite the scandal, Heywood went on to be well thought of in naval circles and continued to be promoted up the ranks. By 1803 he had achieved the rank of Captain. By 1808, now safe from his past and successful again, he writes to fellow Captain and friend Jeffrey Raigersfeld – the painter of the delightful header image for this blog post – of his relief that his sister’s little book is restoring his good name. His sister, Hester (“Nessy”), had petitioned relentlessly for his pardon (and no doubt to protect the family’s reputation also). Some said this relentless task contributed to her early death.

Letter

Extract of letter from Peter Heywood to Jeffry Raigersfeld, 24 Nov. 1808
(Library of New South Wales, Australia)

 

A contemporary of our Leeds cohort member and Bishop of Beverly, Benjamin Crosthwaite (1803-1887), Jeffrey Raigersfeld joins our Victorian Professions Project family tree in generation 3 when his great-great grand-daughter, Augusta, married Benjamin’s son, Robert Crosthwaite (1868-1953). Captain Jeffrey Baron de Raigersfeld (eventually Rear Admiral) was not only a successful navy man but also a hereditary baron, talented painter and published writer. His book Life of a Sea Officer (c.1Ru840) portrays the trials and adventures of life at sea from his time as a boy sailor through to becoming an officer. We learn that after serving as a young lieutenant on HMS Speedy, he then joined Cuthbert Collingwood’s HMS Mediator – a 44-gun frigate – for a series of adventures. Mediator had been sent to enforce the Navigation Acts, which now applied to American ships trading with the British colonies (and they would later be joined by Nelson himself and HMS Boreas in this endeavour). Collingwood is arguably the inspiration behind the character Jack Aubry in Patrick O’Brien’s book Master and Commander – portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film of the same name.

Raigersfeld was well connected. His father had been the Secretary of the London embassy for the Holy Roman Empire. The family appear to be of Slovenian descent and related to the enigmatic Marija Ana Elizabeta Baroness Raigersfeld (1710-1752), portrayed here:

 

Baroness Marija Raigersfeld

Marija Ana Elizabeta Baroness Raigersfeld (late 1750s) by Franc Linder (1736-1802)
Photo credit: National Museum of Slovenia

Marija, daughter of Baron Erberg, was spotted when aged just 14 at the Provincial Theatre in Llubljana by Franc Henrik Raigersfeld. He noted her beauty and ‘angelic face’. They were married a year later. Franc was one of Carniola’s (a historical region of Slovenia) most successful and wealthiest businessmen and also a high state official. He was granted a hereditary barony in 1747. Marija had a staggering twenty-two children but died in her early forties. The artist Franc Linder was commissioned by her husband to create the posthumous miniature shown here from an existing portrait.

Map

On their way to uniting with the Crosthwaite’s family tree, the adventurous and well-travelled Raigersfelds married into the Whatman paper empire (in generation 2 of our project’s tree). The successful Whatmans had themselves married into the Bosanquet bankers (in generation 1 of our project) and all were very well connected and afluent. In 1838 in London, Raigersfeld’s daughter, Harriet Elizabeth (b.1814) – herself eventually Baroness of the Holy Roman Empire – married Eton- and Christ Church (Oxford)- educated, Charles James Whatman (1818-1855). Charles was the grandson of James Whatman the Younger, also a well educated man who attended Cambridge University. Whatman the Younger had married Susannah Bosanquet (1753-1814). His second wife, she was the cousin of Samuel Bosanquet (1744-1806), Director of the Bank of England.

 

Baroness Raigerfeld

Susannah Bosanquet Whatman (1753-1814) by George Romney (1734-1802)

 

Susannah Bosanquet Whatman herself was a purposeful woman and masterfully managed Turkey Court, keeping a detailed notebook of her household management and especially how to ensure the servants performed their duties to an acceptable standard. The Housekeeping Book of Susanna Whatman (1776) reveals the ongoing management issues of being mistress of the Turkey Hill estate, a substantial development. Now a National Trust publication, her book is a fascinating account of the way a large household was run.

 

Turkey Mill

Mr. Whatman’s Turkey Paper Mills by Paul Sandby (1794)

Her husband, James Whatman the Younger (1741-1798), was very prosperous. Inheriting his father’s already successful business of making the finest papers, he innovated from small scale production methods to a more industrial model of manufacturing. The Whatmans were responsible for pioneering ‘wove’ paper – producing paper on a woven mesh material – resulting in a sheet of paper having a much less irregular surface than laid paper immeasurably improving the quality of printed work. Its smooth surface lacked the furrows of traditional laid paper which caused pigment to puddle on the page. Whatman paper was used by JMW Turner, John Robert Cozens, John Sell Cotman and Cornelius Varley. William Blake used it for four of his illuminated books, the public being informed that they were printed on “the most beautiful wove paper that could be procured”. Indeed, many of the masterpieces of Romantic watercolour painting in the early nineteenth century are on paper bearing their watermark. You can read more about their fascinating story on the Turkey Mill website.

Back to Susannah’s son, Charles, who inherited the profitable Whatman paper business. Sadly after marrying Harriet Raigersfeld (b.1814), he died young at just 37 and his son subsequently died even younger at 32. Their daughter faired better in life’s lottery. The lightly named, Augusta Bertha Elizabeth Raigersfeld Whatman (1869-1925) married Sherborne schoolmaster Robert Crosthwaite (by now generation 3 in our Victorian Professions Project family tree) and lived a long life. I’m sure Robert Crosthwaite’s pupils would have all delighted in tales of mutiny on the Bounty and high seas sculduggery, little realising that their teacher’s, wife’s, great-great grandfather sailed those very same seas and knew one of the mutiny’s key protagonists very well. 

 

by Dr. Alison C. Kay 

 

 

References for further reading

 

Mutiny on the Bounty

C. Alexander, The Bounty. The true story of the mutiny on the Bounty (Harper Collins, 2003)

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2003/sep/21/artsandhumanities.books

Captain Peter Heywood 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Heywood

Letter from Peter Heywood to Jeffry Raigersfeld

 

Lord Collingwood

Max Adams on Collingwood and Aubry: http://www.theambulist.co.uk/?page_id=390

 

The Whatman family

James Whatman on ODNB: http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/40776

Turkey Mill website: http://www.turkeymill.com/about-us/view/139/history

Whatman watermarks: http://nga.gov.au/whistler/details/whatman.cfm

Susannah Bosanquet Whatman: Two Nerdy Girl’s blog post

JN Balston, The elder James Whatman: England’s greatest papermaker (1702–1759), JN Balston: West Farleigh, Kent

 

 

A Professional Daughter: The voice of Emily Breare

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Soprano, Emily Breare (1883-1967)
(Image source: http://www.operascotland.org/person/7621/Emily-Breare)

 

Professional projects took many forms for the families in our towns. Celebrated soprano, Miss Emily Breare (1883-1967) represented just such a project. A grand-daughter of our Leeds professional cohort, Emily lived an exciting professional life and fulfilled the ambitions of her own father’s professional project. Trained from an early age by her father, newspaper man William Hammond Breare (1858-1935) , she became well-respected and toured the county, even singing in the Proms at the Queens Hall in September 1907, conducted by Henry Wood.

William H. Breare (born in Massachusetts, US to an English father) had significant vocal talents of his own. Recognising this, when he was fourteen his parents sent him across the Atlantic to Yorkshire to train under F. W. Hirst. His father clearly had his own professional project in mind. In 1917 William recounted that:

“My father was born in Burley-in-Wharfedale, and in his youth was a member of the choir of the Parish Church of Otley. He went to America when he was 18 and settled. He was very musical. Could read anything at sight, play any instrument. Perhaps I inherited a little musical instinct from him. Anyway, I sang in America in public before I was five years old, and continued to do so until after I was 15. I was what is called a boy soprano; travelled long journey to sing anthems in churches and at festivals and other concerts. At one time 365 miles from Boston to New York every Saturday, returning on the Monday.”

Professionally, however, William appears in the Victorian Professions Project‘s database as the husband of Ellen Ackrill* (1851-1932) and rather than a vocal artist he made his career as a literary journalist (1881 Census) and then editor (1891 Census) of his father-in-law’s newspaper, the Harrogate Herald – a paper he would edit for over 50 years. William’s probate of £3353 17s 8d suggests this brought him a comfortable existence and plenty of means to support his daughter in her own professional vocal career. His sons would follow him into the newspaper instead.

 

William Hammond Breare

William Hammond Breare (1858-1935)
(Image source: see Notes)

William also seems to have continued his interest in professional music by means of the pen, authoring Vocalism from an English Standpoint (1904), Elocution. Its First Principals (1905) and Vocal Faults and their Remedies (1907). He also coached his daughter using his extensive music collection, until she was noticed by gifted choir trainer Dr. Henry Coward and her professional career took off. The latter engaged her as his principal soprano for a tour of Canada with the Sheffield Choir in 1908. The 200 strong choir performed at the Montreal Arena to an audience of 4000. The Montreal Gazette declared the event a huge success and choral singing at its best. After a somewhat wobbly start (probably due to nerves), Emily redeemed herself and was specifically praised for her soprano solo of ‘I Know that my Redeemer Liveth and ‘Elizabeth’s Prayer.

Returning triumphant, the celebrated Sir Frederick Bridge recommended her for Callirhoe with the Reading Philharmonic Society shortly afterwards. ‘Flexibility’, ‘power’ and ‘ease’ were all words used to describe Emily’s delivery in the press and the Reading Observer remarked: “Of Miss Breare it is impossible to speak too highly”. Success clearly lead to a life on the road. In 1908 she received high praise for a voice that was “clear as a crystal” in the Tonypandy Harmonic Society Christmas Oratorios (Rhondda, Wales). The next summer Emily was back in Wales again, making her first appearance in the esteemed pier concerts in Llandudno for the first time, alongside Madame Ada Crossley, an Australian singer. Their photos dominated the page in the Llandudno Advertiser, which informed its readers that Emily had the highest credentials, having been one of the Carl Rosa’s Opera Company and that she was also engaged later in the season with the Moody Manners, another touring opera company. Both companies were principal training grounds for British artist before World War One.

 

Emily Breare & Ada Crossley

Emily Breare & Ada Crossley in the Llandudno Advertiser, 17th July, 1909

 

Back on the road again for a more unusual event in December 1910, Emily performed the Messiah with the Western District Choral Society to 100 prisoners at Wormwood Scrubbs Prison. The prisoners were asked not to applaud and to treat the performance as part of their regular chapel service. Apparently more than once their feelings got the better of them and there was some humming and stamping of feet. When Emily performed ‘Come unto Me, the press reported that “many a hand was furtively raised to wipe away a tear…hardened perhaps as they were, [they] could not resist the wonderful power and charm of the singer’s voice”.   The following December we find her in Bournemouth performing the Messiah with British bass singer Robert Radford and the new Bournemouth Municipal Choir (see image), a very grand civic event and quite the opposite of her trip to prison.

 

Bournemouth Municipal Choir

Bournemouth Municipal Choir, December 1911
[Emily is front of stage, viewers left, next to the gentleman with his hands on his knees.]

 

Did Yorkshire remain ‘home’ for Emily despite her professional travels? It is difficult to tell. In the census of 1911 she was boarding in St. Giles and Bloomsbury at the Montague Hotel but this may have been linked to a specific engagement and she seems to have been in demand far and wide. She gives her occupation in that census as ‘Principal Soprano’ and specifically names the Peterhead Choral Society (near Aberdeen). Certainly the next year she is actually in Scotland performing at The Kinnaird Hall, Dundee in the role of Margeurite in the Damnation of Faust, accompanied by the Scottish Orchestra. Wherever she regarded home to be, it is clear that Emily had a long career as a professional singer and was still performing in her forties. There is a record of her performing as a soloist in Birmingham with the Birmingham Choral Union in 1922, conducted by Richard Wasssell, and a few years later in a Yorkshire Evening News concert arranged and directed by Cecil Moon in 1925.

I could not find any evidence of Emily having married or having had children alongside her career but it does seem plausible that she returned to Harrogate to live with her wider family there. Certainly buried there in 1967, having lived to age 86, she shares a commemoration stone in Harlow Hill Cemetery, Harrogate with her brother Robert Ackrill Breare (1878-1955), who had been a newspaper man like their father. There is no mention of her successful career as the soprano with “a voice like crystal”.

Dr. Alison C Kay

Notes

* Ellen’s father, Robert Ackrill (1816-1894), is one of our Leeds cohort for 1851. A former printer, he first became the editor of the Harrogate Herald before later becoming its owner. In the 1870s he also purchased the rival paper, the Harrogate Advertiser. The Breare’s eventually took ownership and a family newspaper dynasty was born, lasting until the 1980s.

 

Further reading & links

Proms 1907: http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/r6np5v/by/date/1907/09/16

W.H. Breare, “To Our Boys on Service”, Harrogate Herald, 27th June 1917: http://www.harrogatepeopleandplaces.info/ww1/breareletters/19170627.htm

Image of W.H. Breare: http://www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk/news/rembering-a-patriot-and-great-editor-wh-breare-1-5006875

Montreal Gazette Nov 3, 1908: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1946&dat=19081103&id=frs0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=7YQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1507,150996&hl=en

The Rhondda Leader: http://papuraunewydd.llyfrgell.cymru/view/3830207/3830210

Bournemouth Choral Society: http://bschorus.co.uk/userfiles/files/BookPDFs/History_All_JM150910.pdf

Kinnaird Hall: http://www.operascotland.org/tour/2356/Damnation-de-Faust-1912

Wormwood Scrubbs Concert: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=CHP19110204.2.37

Llandudno Advertiser: http://newspapers.library.wales/view/3656568/3656571/12/emily

Yorkshire Evening News Concert: http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/0757660dad4944dd929440120cc49576

Birmingham Choral Union: http://www.birminghamchoralunion.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/media/BCU-Concert-Record-1800-1959.pdf

 

 

Capturing social capital

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Dowlais employees wearing the uniforms of the Twelfth Glamorganshire Volunteer Rifle Corps. Dowlais House, 1870. Showing front row: Dr. Burns; William Jenkins [seated]; George T Clark, trustee seated]; Dr. Pearson Cresswell [seated]. Back row: M.C. Harrison; Matthew Hirst; Edward Williams; Matthew Truran; William Menelaus, general manager; George Martin; David James. Photograph courtesy of Glamorgan Archives, Wales.

 

An important part of our project is attempting to chart the interconnected nature of professional men and their families in the nineteenth century, and the photograph above is a wonderful representation of this.

William Jenkins (seated left on the front row) is one of the project’s cohort members, and the subject of another blog entry. He was connected to Edward Williams (standing third from left behind William) through the marriage of his daughter, Alexandra Octavia, to Edward’s son Penry. William and Edward were both members of the South Wales Institute of Engineers and the North of England Mining and Mechanical Engineers alongside Matthew Truran (stood to Edward’s left) and Matthew’s father Samuel (who sadly died in 1860 when a faulty pipe leaked poisonous gas into his office). However their connection ran even deeper, with newspaper reports of Matthew’s funeral revealing that Edward’s son Penry and his brother Aneurin (M.P for Middlesbrough) were Matthew’s nephews, thus making Edward and Matthew brothers-in-law, as well as colleagues.

Alongside volunteering together in the Twelfth Glamorganshire Volunteer Rifle Corps, and working together in the Dowlais Works, many of these men and their families also held important positions in the local community. David James (standing, far right) was the cousin of cohort members Frank James, who served for many years as Registrar to Merthyr Tydfil, and on the committees of the Merthyr Board of Guardians and School Board, and Charles Herbert James who served as M.P. for Merthyr Tydfil and was chairman of the Merthyr Newspaper Company.

It seems that the relationships and connections between the men who posed in their smart uniforms in front of Dowlais House in 1870 are almost too numerous to count. Yet the scope of the Professions project allows us to examine the professional and personal interactions of these men on a scale that has not previously been attempted. This analysis is slowly revealing an incredibly complex and intricate network of social capital, a concept that was central to defining and enforcing the boundaries of the professional classes.

 

Dr Jennifer Aston

The Sludge of Flanders

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A transnational history does not always resonate well with the beautifully clear resurrection symbolism of the poppy. The Great War was the dawn of a twentieth century, which led to an even more devastating war and a century of global conflicts, culminating in a redrawing of international borders and the Cold War. The Middle East has been the site of consistent regional war zones and intervention, leading to a new dawn of international terrorism. The poppy represents military sacrifice (and hope), but the sludge of Flanders also seems pressingly symbolic of a century of post-war chaos. Crushed nations. Lost lives. Broken families. Instability. Above it all, the white noise of politicians seeking a catch-all political ‘message’ from the ruin. The glib messages they frequently utter each Remembrance Day creates a distraction from what could be a moment to reach into and retrieve something of value from that sludge of Flanders, without being consumed by it.

My own great-grandfather never quite recovered from his experiences of the First World War. He tried to forget it and bury it, but – like others – he died young and tormented by the death and the mud. The stories of those who died in Flanders in the First World War have become so much a part of the British psyche that it would be difficult to add a fresh perspective. Yet, it would be doing a disservice to the families in our study, if we were to let Remembrance Day pass in a centenary year without observing the historical magnitude of the First World War. Our Victorian families are now being researched into their third generation, which means that we are finding more and more who experienced the First World War. As an ex-soldier, I couldn’t help but identify with the Hill family and be moved by the death in Flanders of a Dundonian, John Fairweather Hill (1878-1915).

John entered our ambit because he is the grandson of James Fairweather Hill (1803-1858) and Margaret Johnston (1801-1870). James was an accountant, but his financial interests left only a small amount in his will, amounting to approximately £579 and some limited property interest. He also died relatively young from chronic diseases of the lungs, kidneys and bladder (this was not a healthy, successful professional). His family were therefore facing a financially unstable future at the time of his death. He left everything to his wife, but Margaret would have struggled to maintain their children. Their ensuing fortunes seem to reflect this uncertainty. Three of their eight children may have died in infancy. Of the others, James (1832-c1900) seems to have been a sailor, but further research is needed. John (1833-1875) emigrated to Australia where he became a rector, before his death in Evendale, Tasmania at only 43 years of age. He was single and childless. David (1841-c1911) was a clerk in marine insurance and moved to Bristol. He also died single and childless. Only Helen and Samuel appear to have had children. Helen (1843-1882) sensibly married John Duncan Minto (1844-1918), a brushmaker master. They had six children, with a range of occupations, from New Zealand bushman to Dundee press photographer. Yet, as with the Fairweather Hills, professional success also evaded the Minto family.

The final child of John and Margaret Fairweather Hill, Samuel (1835-1893), married Christian Gray Spence (1840-?) in Edinburgh in 1864. He was a soldier in the hospital corps. On demobilisation, he became a sometime night watchman and a clerk. Samuel died in Glasgow. He and Margaret had two children. Their first child, Samuel (1874-1943) was born in Bengal, India. At various times, he was a clerk, chemist or druggist. Despite his seeming professional ties, he remained single and ended his days in ‘Rottenrow’, one of Glasgow’s poorest and most notoriously named locations (now in the grounds of the University of Strathclyde). His brother John (1878-1915) was a mercantile clerk, but he had been killed nearly two decades before on 25 September, 1915, in Flanders, France.

John was with the first wave of volunteers in Kitchener’s New Army. He joined the Seaforth Highlanders, which were part of the 9th Division’s ill-fated offensive at Loos in September and October of 1915. They had spent months training in preparation for battle but were ill-prepared for what greeted them in France. John’s regiment were decimated during the opening battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. The Hohenzollern Redoubt was a heavily fortified position in the German lines, known as Hellfire Corner. It was key to the Loos battlefield and, after four days of bombing, the British threw wave after wave of men at the enemy’s lines. It was also the first time that the British used gas against the Germans. The log book of John’s regiment describes the incomprehensible death toll in chilling matter-of-fact detail. His regiment was involved in very heavy fighting. Twenty officers and 509 men of the Seaforth Highlanders were killed, wounded or missing during a few days. That is essentially an entire regiment. At the end of the fighting at Loos, the Germans retook the ground – the sludge – that had been taken by the British. The Seaforth Highlanders’ huge losses are indescribable in the face of such little gain. Following a family history in detail, though, allows one to comprehend the human life among the numbers. Such sacrifice is breathtaking and horrifying in equal measure.

Critics suggest that Remembrance Day glorifies the sacrifice of war. Perhaps it has its own jingoistic heritage to surmount, but it isn’t about revelling in war, nor is it a driver for recruitment. Before and after the First World War, the armed forces offered a tantalising choice to the less wealthy, outcast and desperate – and for centuries it was the career of choice for professionally-aspiring sons. Victorian professional families in Dundee were frequently teetering on the edge of a professional abyss or struggling to enter a concentrically shrinking circle of power. The armed services provided a career for those with limited horizons. Remembrance Day exposes us to the hypocritical relationship that we all have with our own view of war. Those of every political ilk are guilty of discrediting one point of view to misrepresent their own. Remembrance Day should compel us all to be more honest about our own role in the creation, continuation and consumption of war.

 

Dr Kim Price

Guest blog: The Anderson Women & the Bequests of Broughty Ferry ladies

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Dundee Evening Telegraph, 7 October 1897

We welcome another guest post to the Victorian Professions Project blog. Andrea Shoebridge is a descendent of one of our Dundee professionals, banker David Anderson. Andrea examines the relationship between women, inheritance and independence as played out in her own family. You can visit Andrea’s wonderful blog here: AJS Writing 

If you too are connected to any of our professional families and feel you have a story to tell, please do not hesitate to contact me: alison.kay@oxford.ac.uk

Unless women are exceptional in a masculine milieu – that is, throughout recorded history – their lives remain at best a shadow of humanity’s story. In Victorian times, industrialisation had really gendered social organisation, limiting competition for its riches or just for economic survival to men and working class women whose labour was necessary to keep the factories belching out products and pollution. Women of the propertied classes were quarantined to the private, domestic world that left little trace other than through official record keeping and personal communication.

So the subheading in the 7 October 1897 edition of the Dundee Evening Telegraph, alerting readers to the distribution of wealth to local women, implies such a thing was remarkable enough to be the headline. Bequests to Broughty Ferry ladies recorded the distribution of legacies from the estate of Mrs Janet Anderson or Robertson to Mrs Maria Anderson or Oldfield, Mrs Louisa Anderson or Ferrier (sic), Mrs Jessie Anderson or Ferrier, Mrs Rebecca Anderson, Mrs Jessie Oldfield or Willison, Mrs Marion Oldfield or Stone and to Miss Winifred Ferrier. Other legatees were James Anderson, Andrew Gowan, and two Edinburgh charities.

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[Click image to open a larger version of the Anderson family tree]

Janet (1804-1897) was the widow of Edinburgh baker, James Robertson. Providing their daily bread to Edinburgh’s residents may have been how James and Janet made their dough (sorry), sufficient for her to live a life of independence after his death and to be disbursed after hers. But Janet was also the daughter of James Anderson (1777-1827) and Janet Lownie (b. 1781). James had become a man of economic substance during his career as a wright and house builder in Dundee. On his death, Janet received a small legacy then her part of the remaining disposable estate when her mother died. An indication of the size of James’ estate is that his widow lived independently on an annuity of £70 plus expenses at a time when the average annual wage was around £11 and the elderly poor were allocated £4-6 for the year.

The bequests make curious reading. Janet was a mature woman, approaching 40 years old, when she and James married in 1840. It may have been her age that meant there were no children of the marriage to inherit her estate because most of the beneficiaries named in her will were the descendents of her brother, Dundee banker David Anderson (1800-1875), and his wife, Martha Bain (b. ca 1800). However, the benevolence did not extend to all of their children and grandchildren.

David and Martha had six daughters and four sons. Of the six daughters, three had died before their aunt. At the time of Janet’s death, Maria Oldfield (1827-1907), Louisa Farrar (not Ferrier)(b. 1835), and Jessie Ferrier (1842-1900) were still living. Of the four brothers, three were living but only one, James (1828-1913), was a legatee. David and Martha had also been blessed with 36 grandchildren, 31 of whom were alive in 1897, but only three of whom were remembered in her will by Janet. These were Maria’s daughters, Jessie Willison (1857-1905) and Marion Stone (1858-1935), and Jessie’s daughter, Winifred Ferrier (1880-1960). To further pique the reader’s interest, Janet was not equally generous to her great-nieces although the size of their bequests may have been a simple weighting of their expectations and possible future need as indicated by their marital status and likely share of parental estates.

But need was not necessarily a factor. Of the beneficiaries, only Rebecca (1857-1937) is known to have been struggling. Her husband, Charles Anderson (1839-1890), had drowned leaving her with four young sons to raise on her own.

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Rebecca Anderson with sons Stan, Les, Fin and Douglas (the author’s grandfather) after their father, Charles’, death.

While the boys all eventually lived successful professional lives, these were achieved by their own efforts. Money was very tight during their childhoods with at least one of them unable to go to high school, despite being a high academic achiever, because of the prohibitive cost.

Louisa had married Thomas Farrar, a Halifax wool stapler. The 1881 census records that all the young family was living at home, with live-in domestic help, and that Thomas employed seven people in his business. In 1891, only Thomas, Louisa and their eldest daughter were living together. No employees were mentioned and two teenaged daughters were living with an aunt who ran a boarding house in Islington, London. Sometime between the 1891 census and the 1897 Dundee Evening Telegraph report, Louisa, aged around 60, left Britain for reasons yet to be discovered. It may be that times had become tough, so encouraging a move to the colonies where prospects looked brighter or it may have been that the daughters, one of whom was an invalid, were unwilling or unable to leave England. Yet, in the nineteenth century, economic opportunity rather than deprivation could drive emigration. Certainly, within a decade, at least two of Louisa’s nephews, and possibly a niece, were also in South Africa. This suggests their aunt’s family was doing well enough in its new country to attract the interest of the next generation in sharing the prosperity.

Halifax was home, too, for Maria after her marriage in 1856 to wool merchant and land proprietor James Oldfield. Their family expanded every 18 months or so until James’ death in 1871. Interestingly, most of Maria’s siblings had also decamped from Dundee to Halifax in the mid 1800s but, excepting Louisa, had all gradually either moved away or died before she returned to Dundee in the 1880s. In 1891, Maria was a woman of independent means living with her daughter, Marion Stone, and two granddaughters in the parish of St Andrew. Marion had been widowed in 1890 after only four years’ marriage. She remained a widow, a lady of independent means, for the rest of her life.

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Marion Stone’s lifetime as a widow.

At the time of the bequest, Jessie was married to textile merchant, GH Ferrier, who traded in Dundee’s famed jute and linen industry and whose eventual estate reflected his success. The couple were parents to three sons and a daughter, Winifred. At least one son, Charles, was living in Dundee in 1897 and assumed control of the family business when his father died in 1900. Winifred herself migrated to the US in 1910 and was a career nurse, never marrying, until her death in 1960.

The final Broughty Ferry Lady in Janet’s will was Maria’s firstborn, Jessie Willison. Breaking the pattern of marrying into the textile industry, Jessie wed Andrew Willison, an oil merchant, insurance broker and commission agent. They married in York in 1875 but were living in Dundee from at least 1881, in the same district of St Andrew that Maria moved to when she returned to Scotland. Jessie and Andrew had seven children, several of whom migrated to the US in the early twentieth century.

An obvious explanation for Janet’s selectivity is proximity. Three of David and Martha’s sons – William (1934-1900), Charles and John (1846-1914) – had emigrated to New Zealand in the mid to late 1870s. Many of the grandchildren had also distributed themselves around the colonies and the United States of America. This might be thought sufficient explanation for their exclusion, their having to be in the UK to qualify. Yet Louisa was in Johannesburg, according to the report, and Rebecca, whom Janet may never have met, was in Gore, at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island.

Another explanation for Janet’s bequests may have been the perceived worthiness of the recipients. For example, the only nephew remembered, James, had an exemplary, if peripatetic, life in England as a tea merchant after rising through the banking ranks in Dundee early in his career.

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James Anderson and his wife Elizabeth around the turn of the century.

That his son’s vocation was in the Episcopalian church, which seems to have been the Andersons’ religious denomination, would not have hurt. James’ brothers, on the other hand, had a somewhat chequered history. Both William and Charles had started out as bank clerks in Dundee before veering into the wool industry in Halifax, trading under the name Anderson Brothers. In 1869, they were bankrupt and their partnership dissolved although they regrouped because they were winning prizes for the quality of their fleeces at the Halifax Agricultural Show in 1871. At the time of his father’s death, Charles seems to have been back in the world of finance but he was again bankrupt in 1878. Not only that, but the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligence reported he had not turned up to a creditors meeting “having absconded and left the country”. There is no evidence of John having such difficulties. However, the inventory in his father’s will lists among the assets a £296 debt owed by John to his father, which may or may not have been repaid. Although William and John thrived in New Zealand, Janet may well have thought it prudent to leave her estate to steady hands. It is all the more poignant that widow Rebecca was remembered with a bequest that was unlikely to have been made to her husband, Charles, had he been alive.

It has increasingly  been recognised independent women not uncommonly have bestowed their estate, in part or in full, on other women. This was to enable younger women to maintain an independent life, or to recognise services rendered by servants, family or friends, or just to acknowledge bonds of affection. Financially secure widows who controlled their own means were less likely to remarry while unmarried women with financial wherewithal were more likely to stay that way. Janet’s bequests reflect this pattern, as do the long widowhoods of Maria Oldfield (36 years) and Marion Stone (45 years). The length of Janet’s widowhood is unknown. While Winifred Ferrier’s independence was more likely to result from her share of her parents’ estate, Janet’s earlier bequest would have begun her lifetime of self-sufficiency.

Without any personal communications to narrate the stories of the Anderson women, I have used official sources such as census data, birth, marriage and death records, wills, and newspaper accounts (from the wonderful British newspaper archives) to speculate about their lives. All my inferences are clearly just that but what, I think, can be said is that they were women of substance who took responsibility for their destinies insofar as the fates allowed.

By Andrea Shoebridge

Descendent of David Anderson, banker, Dundee

Stocks, Shares & Skeletons

The marvellously named William Horatio Nelson Myers (1803-1869) was a well-heeled stock and share broker from our Leeds cohort. His story highlights the role of the educational society in middle-class and professional life in a fascinating way.

Although we know William Horatio Nelson’s parent’s names (John Myers and Ann Acham), we do not yet know their occupations but it would seem that William Horatio Nelson faired well in life, gathering property and wealth. For example, the Leeds Tythe Map Project reveals that in 1857 he owned a 2-acre meadow with buildings that he leased to a Henry Temple. Certainly at his death in 1869, his probate valuation of £30,000 indicates considerable financial success. Although we do not yet know much about his background [please let us know if you do], we do know that he married well, to Mary Elizabeth Beswick (b.1812) the daughter of a local landowner and Justice of the Peace. This marriage would later secure the Myers family an ancestral manor and a little local celebrity status.

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Digging into a mound on his Gristhorpe estate near Scarborough in 1834, Mary’s father William Beswick (b.1781), discovered a substantial log buried deep in the barrow. He called in his friends from the Scarborough Philosophical Society to help remove the ancient oak log. Lifting it out of the barrow, the log split to reveal it was in fact hollowed out and contained the remains of a man.

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Gristhorpe Man, The Rotunda Museum, Scarborough

The height (almost six feet) of this man, his advanced age (around sixty years old) and hence seemingly good diet, along with the grave goods, have led archeologists to conclude that he is likely a Bronze Age warrior chieftain. It would seem that William Beswick and the Scarborough Philosophical Society thought carefully about how best to look after Gristhorpe man. Interviewed by the BBC in 2009, Dr Nigel Malton of Bradford University’s Archeology Department noted that:

“We were lucky that the people involved in the 1834 dig were members of the Philosophical Society which included local doctors and so forth. He was actually treated very well. They even attempted to conserve him because he was so fragile. They boiled him in a washing tub for eight hours in a solution of animal glue, and it seems to have worked because he’s still here. He’s fantastically complete, right down to his toe bones!”

The 4000-year–old Gristhorpe Man was given to the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough where he still resides, where William Crawford Williamson (1816-1895), then little more than sixteen years of age, quickly wrote up a monograph on the ancient man.

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William Crawford Williamson (1816-1895)

In recent years Gristhorpe Man has undergone a facial reconstruction which you can view here:

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Facial reconstruction of William Beswick’s Gristhorpe Man.

 

Although he did not have any real skeletons in his closet like his father-in-law, William Horatio Nelson was also a society man and a member of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. He was also on the committee of the ‘Lancashire Cotton Districts Relief Fund, Leeds’ in the 1860s when the American Civil War cause unemployment and poverty in the region when its impact on cotton supplies forced many cotton mills to close.

Turning to generation 2, his son William Beswick Myers (1850-1904) did not follow him into the stockbroking profession, instead training in hydraulic engineering, studying in Berlin and returning to join the firm of respected engineer, John Fraser (1819-1881), whose daughter he later married. (The latter was the son of an architect and was well regarded in his field.) William Beswick was involved in constructing many important branches of the Great Northern Railway among other works but he also inherited the estate and title of Lord of the Manor of Gristhorpe in 1895 when his unmarried uncle, Thomas Keld Beswick died. A man of the community, he became a magistrate for the North Riding of Yorkshire and like his father and grandfather before him was a society man, joining the Leeds Philosophical & Literary Society.

William Beswick Myer’s four daughters appear to have been well educated; certainly Marjorie (b.1887) was educated at Roedean. They all seem to have lived independently on private means, although Joan Fraser did eventually marry automobile engineer, Major Kenneth Sporswood Jones, possibly later in life. William Beswick’s only son Bryan Beswick Myers (b.1879) sadly was unable to carry on this family’s professional project and died aged just 18 in 1896.

By Alison C Kay

 

 

References:

 

Victorian Professions Project: http://www.victorianprofessions.ox.ac.uk/

Leeds Tythe Map Project: http://tithemaps.leeds.gov.uk/TwinMaps.aspx?singleplot=WYL333_340*43*WYL333_340&singlesrch=st.6!lwd.Temple

 

Gristhorpe Man:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2007/07/10/bradford_gristhorpe_man_feature.shtml

http://www.bradford.ac.uk/life-sciences/news-and-events/news/monograph-of-the-gristhorpe-man-is-launched.php

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/york/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8877000/8877132.stm

 

The Jenkins Family – An Engineering Dynasty

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William Jenkins, c.1890

 

Cohort member William Jenkins first came to the attention of the Victorian Professions team because he is recorded as an accountant in the 1851 census. However, it quickly became apparent that we had stumbled across a family with at least seven generations of men and women whose lives were deeply intertwined with the development of one of the most important industries in the making of modern Britain: iron.

The 1851 census reveals that William Jenkins (b.1825) lived at 1 Chapel Street, Merthyr Tydfil with his father Thomas Jenkins (b.1801), mother Jane (b.1799), and younger sisters Mary (b.1828), Elizabeth (b.1836), and Catherine (b.1841). Thomas is recorded as being a ‘Shore Clerk’, but his obituary shows that Thomas was the Head Teacher of Dowlais School, and this was where William was educated. The school was founded by Sir John Guest, owner of the Dowlais Ironworks, and the buildings were designed by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament.

 

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IMAGE OF DOWLAIS SCHOOL c.1900 – http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/DowlaisCentralSchool.htm

 

A few months after the census was taken, William married Rosina Kirkhouse (b.1827), the youngest daughter of George Kirkhouse (b.1779 d.1842) and his wife Mary née Williams (b.1794), at Dowlais Parish Church. The Dowlais Ironworks was central to the very existence of Merthyr Tydfil, and it played a similarly important role in the lives of the Jenkins family. Not only was William employed as an accountant by the works and Thomas ran the school founded by its owner, but William’s late father-in-law George Kirkhouse had held the important positions of Chief Mineral Agent and General Manager. George was descended from the Kirkhouse-Bedlington family, a name synonymous with mining in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was George’s grandfather and great-grandfather, originally from the north-east of England, who were responsible for introducing deep-shaft mining and furnace ventilation to the coalfields of South-West Wales, innovations that made the scale of mining in Merthyr Tydfil possible.

The next census reveals that by 1861 William and Rosina had welcomed their first three children, daughters Edith Rosina (b.1852), Constance Gwenhyfar (b.1856) and Bertha Mary (b.1860), and that they remained living in Merthyr Tydfil. During this time William had progressed from being an accountant to acting as the ‘Principal Clerk and Book-Keeper at the Dowlais Iron Works’, and he worked closely with the Lady Charlotte Guest and the trustees of Sir John Josiah Guest’s estate in an attempt to make the Ironworks more profitable. William’s hard work was rewarded and in 1869 he was invited by the Consett Iron Company LTD to become the General Manager of Consett Iron Works in County Durham, only a few miles from where Rosina’s Kirkhouse and Bedlington ancestors had established their engineering and mining dynasty.

William, Rosina, Edith, Constance and Bertha moved to Consett Hall, along with their fourth daughter Alexandra Octavia (b.1864), and son William (b.1868), and William quickly became a well-known and popular local figure, serving on a wide range of committees, boards and commissions. That William was a talented engineer and manager is of little doubt; he led the Consett Iron Company to great financial success. However, the fluidity of his professional identity whereby he was able to move from accountant, to chief clerk, to general manager, is likely to also owe a debt to the network afforded to him through his marriage. These relationships were extended even further upon the marriage of William and Rosina’s daughter Alexandra to Penry Williams on 8th January 1890.

Penry Williams (b.1866) was the son of Edward Williams (b.1826) and his wife Mary née Trick (b.1826), and although he was born in Middlesbrough, his family only moved to the north-east in 1865 when his father became general manager of Bolckow, Vaughan and Co, managing some 9,000 workers. Prior to this, the Williams family had also lived in Merthyr Tydfil, where Edward’s father Taliesin Edwards had founded a school in 1816. Taliesin was the son of Edward Williams (b.1747) better known as Iolo Morganwg, the controversial Welsh poet and literary forger, which means that Penry could therefore (allegedly!) trace his lineage through 15 generations to Gwaithfoed Fawr, Prince of Dyfed and Ceredigion. The Jenkins family lived some fifty miles north of Penry and Alexandra’s home at Pinchinthorpe Hall in Guisborough and Edward and Mary’s home Cleveland Lodge in Middlesbrough, but we know that the professional activities of Edward Williams and William Jenkins had long overlapped, for example the two men were among the six founding members of the Institute of South Wales Engineers in 1857 and served as President and Vice-President respectively. In later decades both men attended the funeral of a fellow engineer and former general manager of Dowlais, William Menelaus at Tenby, Wales in 1882.

Penry was an engineer in his own right, with the 1891 census revealing that he was an ‘iron master and joint owner and manager of blast furnaces’ – all by the age of 24. He and wife Alexandra had two children, Edward (b.1891) and Bertha Mary Dorothy (b.1894), and the 1911 census shows that Penry continued to own and manage iron works. However, alongside his role as Managing Director of Linthorpe, Dinsdale Smelting Company Limited, Penry was also incredibly involved in the local community. Among many other activities, he served as a Justice of the Peace for the North Riding of Yorkshire, held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of the 1st North Riding Yorkshire Volunteer Artillery, and was the Vice-President of the South Bank Minor Football League in Middlesbrough. Penry also had a successful political career, representing Middlesbrough East as a Liberal Member of Parliament from 1918-1924. More on this to follow in a later blog (along with tales of his siblings, Aneurin and Mary Elizabeth, who aligned themselves with opposing sides of the Suffrage movement…). It is safe to say that Penry and Alexandra built upon the successes of their Welsh father and father-in-law, and managed to secure exactly the kind of socio-economic status that we might expect of a subsequent generation of a successful professional family. This success is reflected in their marital home, Pinchinthorpe Hall, an impressive building dating back to the 12th century currently on the market for £2.5m.

 

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Picture of Pinchinthorpe Hall courtesy of Liz Morgan at Strutt and Parker

 

Edward Williams died in June 1886 leaving an estate valued at £89,111, and William Jenkins passed away nine years later in May 1895, just a few days after his wife Rosina, leaving an estate valued at £92,522. Estimates of what these estates would be worth today are £8,670,000 and £9,545,000 respectively and the same calculator estimates that the £84,910 left by Penry Williams in 1945 would be worth £3,005,000 – clearly they were all men of considerable means, but it is interesting to note the decrease in the estate values in real terms between generations.

The Bedlington – Kirkhouse – Jenkins – Williams engineering and mining dynasty was further expanded upon the marriage of Edward Williams (son of Penry and Alexandra), to Muriel Hodgson Le Neve Foster (b.1892) the youngest child of Herbert Le Neve Foster (b.1854), and Annie Margaret Le Neve Foster (b.1858) in 1915. Before his untimely death in 1904, the 1901 census return shows that Herbert was employed as a ‘Metallurgist Chemist and Owner of Limestone Quarries’. Metallurgists examine the physical reactions of metal elements, and therefore they offered a crucial service to heavy industry and their relentless search for new, more efficient, production methods. Herbert was the son of eminent photographer Peter Le Neve Foster, and one of eight brothers, six of whom were either engineers or in some way connected with engineering. Interestingly, one of the few surviving records of William Jenkins’ son William, reveal that he was also employed as a metallurgist chemist in Durham, suggesting that he might possibly have shared a professional network with his nephew-in-law.

After the success of our cohort member William Jenkins, his daughter Alexandra and her husband Penry Williams, we might expect his grandchildren to go onto even greater achievements, however this does not seem to have been the case. We have not yet managed to discover the occupations of Edward Williams, or Bertha Mary Dorothy’s two husbands Geoffrey Arnold Putnam and John Leslie McKinley, and although John’s father John Joseph Harrison McKinley (b.1871) is recorded in the 1911 census as ‘Blast Furnace Manager and Engineer’, none of this final generation in our project have left the same archival footprints as their forebears.

Many aspects of William’s story show a very definite ‘Professional Project’ – through marriage and birth William and his family played an important role in the mining industry of Wales and the North-East for two centuries – but what happened that meant this social and economic advancement slowed? Come back to the Victorian Professions blog in the coming months and discover more about William Jenkins and his family network that spanned the breadth of Britain.

Dr Jennifer Aston

 

Sources:

Photograph of William Jenkins taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:William_Jenkins_general_manager_Consett_Iron_Company_ca_1892.jpg

Photograph of Dowlais School taken from http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/DowlaisCentralSchool.htm

Photograph of Pinchinthorpe Hall reproduced by the kind permission of Strutt and Parker (Harrogate) and the Hall’s present owners.

Will value calculated using http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/

BDM, Census and probate information can be requested via the family tree constructed on ancestry.co.uk – http://trees.ancestry.co.uk/tree/67860545/family?fpid=40176418693

Guest blog: Old Leeds Cold Cures

Thanks for this guest reblog go to the author Ross Horsley who is the Librarian Manager in the Local and Family History Library and Information Service (Leeds City Council).
The Library’s excellent blog, ‘The Secret Library’, can be found here: http://secretlibraryleeds.net

Blanche L. Leigh was the wife of one of our professional grandsons, Percival Leigh (dentist).

Dr. Alison Kay

The Secret Library | Leeds Libraries Heritage Blog

Cough pills advert from the Leeds Mercury, November 1917 Cough pills advert from the Leeds Mercury, November 1917

When coughs and colds sweep the offices of The Secret Library – as they do around the beginning of every winter – it’s not a pretty sight. But we are, after all, a hardy bunch, accustomed to the draughts and drips of a 130-year-old building, so we soldier on. And one of our most invaluable weapons in the defence against disease is the Leeds Household Book of 1917.

If you’ve ever fancied a knock-up supper of Oyster Custard, Boiled Cheese or Spiff Pudding, then this is the book for you. Indeed, it’s also for you if you’ve ever wondered what Spiff Pudding actually is. But where the volume really comes into its own is in its plethora of easy home remedies for illnesses of all kinds – all collected by editor Blanche L. Leigh.

Leigh seems to have been quite the…

View original post 584 more words

Show Me The Money! Harold Robert Prideaux – Railway Clerk

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Staff wages, Great Western Railway, 1833-1956

One of the trickiest issues facing the Victorian Professions team is determining how much the Professionals in our cohort and their family members were actually earning. Whilst there was a pecking order of ‘pukka’ professions, such as law, medicine and the Church, over the ‘new’ professions such as accountancy, clerks and teaching, this was not always reflected in the associated salaries. The frequently poor lot of the clergy is a common trope in nineteenth-century literature, with authors including Trollope regularly questioning how a man could be expected to support a family in a decent manner on incomes as low as £80 per annum. To give some context, historians generally agree that an income of £200 – £300 would have been necessary to secure and maintain the trappings of middle-class status.

The image above is of the Great Western Railway Employment Record, and gives the name of the company’s clerks, their age, and the date that service commenced. The ledgers also provide the starting salary of the worker, but even more excitingly they detail any pay rises that the clerk was awarded thus allowing us to chart their journey through the company.

 

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Record of Harold Robert Prideaux

Focussing on the record of Harold Robert Prideaux (b.1870) shows very clearly why knowing the salary of a professional is so important. Harold is the son of cohort member Thomas Symes Prideaux (b.1814), a chemist and engineer who was born in Devon but worked in Merthyr Tydfil, and he began work as a Clerk for the Great Western Railway on 25th February 1886 at the age of 16. Harold’s starting annual salary was £25, which is not an enormous amount when one considers that a skilled artisan of the same period might earn upwards of £100 per annum, but this marks the beginning of his training and we can see that Harold’s wage quickly increased. By the time that Harold married Hebe Alice Connor (b.1874) in 1899, he was earning £125, an amount which had risen further to £140 p.a. when they welcomed their daughter Joan in 1901.

Harold must have continued to progress through the ranks at the Great Western Railway because although he is still recorded as a ‘Railway Clerk’ in the 1901 and 1911 census, his salary increases are greater than would be expected from simple annual increments. The seven years between 1920 and 1927 represent a very lucrative period for Harold, and his salary more than doubled from £650 to £1550, where it remained until his retirement in 1930 after forty-four years of service. A quick comparison of Harold’s record to others on the same page in the ledger show that although other clerks received the same pay rises in the initial stages of their career, none achieved the rapid increase in salary that Harold saw in the latter half of his time at the Great Western Railway; indeed, Frederick John Dawe who worked for the GWR as a clerk for thirty-eight years had a salary of £360 when he retired.

Without the staff records of the Great Western Railway, it would not have been possible to determine exactly how long Harold had worked as a clerk (he would only be picked up in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 census records), or how his career had progressed from joining the company as a 16 year old trainee to retiring age 60 in 1930. Most importantly however, this source gives the Victorian Professions team some quantitative data about the salary of clerks in the GWR during the nineteenth century which we will be able to compare against the salaries of other professions – both actual salaries, and those discussed in contemporary literature – allowing us to draw wider conclusions about the status of clerks and their place in the professional world of nineteenth-century Britain.

Dr Jennifer Aston

 

Sources:

Staff wages, Great Western Railway, UK, Railway Employment Records, 1833-1956 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Accessed via www.ancestry.com Last accessed 10/09/2015

Middle class income information see: L. Davidoff & C. Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850, (London, 2002 edn), p.23-24

Artisan wage information see: D.E.C. Eversley, ‘Industry and Trade 1550-1880’, in W.B. Stephens [ed.], VCH Warwickshire VII, pp. 81-139, p. 136

 

Guest blog: Henry Harwood & the artist’s profession in Dundee

In the late 19th century, Dundee became one of the major art centres of Britain. When the Dundee Graphic Arts Association was founded in 1890, many of Scotland’s most notable artists wrote from Edinburgh or London to express their opinions of the city in the most enthusiastic terms. John Pettie claimed that “Dundee has been and is one of the art centres of the North”, while William Darling McKay proposed it as “perhaps the most vital centre of art appreciation in Scotland.”

At the beginning of the 19th century, Dundee was a small but reasonably prosperous town noted for its shipbuilding and linen production. The rapid development of the jute industry saw the population quadruple and an extraordinary amount of wealth generated for the factory owners, many of whom turned to art collecting as a way of showing off their new-found prosperity. They sought out and befriended leading painters of the day such as William McTaggart and George Paul Chalmers, commissioning them to create pictures for their ever-increasing mansions. But they also began to encourage local talent for the first time.

Before the mid-19th century, even the most talented Dundee artist had to travel to make a living – to Edinburgh and London in the case of the Simson brothers (George, William and David); to Italy and India for George Willison; and to Paris and Rome in the case of John Zephaniah Bell. Writing in 1906, the architect and art collector T S Robertson recalled those painters that stayed in Dundee and tried to make ends meet: “There were three artists in Dundee 50 years ago who were all portrait painters – Harwood, Stewart, and Macgillivray [sic]… Dundee in those days was not able to support three portrait painters, and although Harwood, as far as I know, never painted out of Dundee, the others occasionally had to find employment in neighbouring towns.” Of these three painters, George McGillivray is better known for his topographical paintings; John Stewart is known only through a few surviving medical portraits; but the best-known and most intriguing character is Henry Harwood.

 

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Untitled etching by Henry Harwood (University of Dundee Museum Services)

 

Born in Ireland in 1803, Harwood was the son of Lieutenant Coleshurst, who had retired from the Royal Navy and married an actress, changing his name to Harwood when he too took to the stage. He died when young Henry was still in infancy and his widow came to Dundee seeking work in the theatre (another increasingly popular profession at the time). Harwood soon earned a reputation as a painter, his first major commission being a monumental frieze for the Shoemakers’ Room in the Trade House, representing the procession of St Crispin (now on permanent display in The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum).

In 1821 he achieved considerable notoriety when he created his best-known work, a caricature of Dundee worthies called The Executive, which was widely reproduced as an engraving. Satirising the town’s most influential men was not an obvious route to success – indeed it had already seen the end of another artist’s career. Robert Mudie came to Dundee in 1808 as drawing master at the Academy. His interest in politics led him to join the Town Council, but when he began writing satirical accounts accusing his fellow councillors of corruption, they took a dim view of his sense of humour and he was forced to resign his post and flee to London (where among other things he became editor of the Sunday Times).

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The Executive, engraving after a painting by Henry Harwood (University of Dundee Museum Services)

 

Unlike Mudie, Harwood seems to have been forgiven, since he later received various commissions by members of the Town Council for more flattering portraits. These included Provosts William Lindsay and Alexander Lawson, and his clients also included the local aristocracy – Lord Kinnaird commissioned him to paint “Whistle o’er the lave o’t”, a humorous scene of a hen-pecked husband. It was later acquired by the dentist Dr John Stewart and was singled out by the Dundee Courier as a particular highlight of his extensive art collection.

Harwood’s early success was not sustained. “His admirers were thus encouraged to expect him to rise to greater eminence than he did,” T S Robertson recalled. Financial problems were not helped by a struggle with alcoholism, and he died “in straitened circumstances” in 1868. Robertson felt that his ultimate failure was caused by “his not being able to come into contact with associates at least as capable as himself.” But, as was later reported in the City Echo, “several of those who appreciated his genius erected a memorial over his grave in the Eastern Cemetery. The [site] is enclosed with a railing – a portion … having been set aside as a burying ground for artists who may die in Dundee, having neither friends nor relatives to afford them a last resting-place.”

This magnanimous scheme was led by Robert Cowie, owner of the Theatre Royal in Castle Street. Cowie had previously worked as a painter and decorator and was known for his extensive knowledge of art. He had sat for a portrait by Harwood (as had various other theatrical figures in Dundee) and owned several other examples of the artist’s work. A group calling themselves “Robert Cowie Inst. Artists” purchased three lairs in the Eastern Cemetery, Harwood being interred in the first. As it transpired, only one other person was ever buried in one of these lairs – a decorative painter called John P Jerome who died aged 24 in 1873, leaving a widow and child.

Harwood is an interesting example of the precarious nature of the artistic profession, both financially and socially. Although he struggled to maintain respectability during his lifetime, Harwood’s paintings became fashionably collectible in the decades following his death, and many are now in the city’s permanent collection. Later critics did not hesitate to sing his praises – in Dundee Celebrities of the Nineteenth Century, William Norrie described Harwood as “an artist whose presentiments were such as only genius could give.” By the end of the Victorian era, Dundee would be home to dozens of professional artists, working as painters, sculptors, printmakers and newspaper artists. The rapid growth of art education in the city, and the establishment of membership bodies such as the Graphic Arts Association, helped professionalise the art workers of Dundee – but it all came too late for Henry Harwood.

 

By Matthew Jarron,

Curator of Museum Services,

University of Dundee

 

References

Part of this text is drawn from my forthcoming book Independent and Individualist: Art in Dundee 1867-1924 (Dundee: Abertay Historical Society, 2015).

 

Other sources:

Anon, ‘Dundee Artists’, Celtic Annual 1918-9, pp15-17.

The City Echo May 1908.

Dundee Courier 13/4/1877.

Dundee Courier 8/3/1886.

Dundee Graphic Arts Association Annual Report 1890 (Dundee Central Library, Local History Centre).

A H Millar, ‘Sketch of Art in Dundee in the Nineteenth Century’, Graphic Arts Association Annual Report 1900 (Dundee Central Library, Local History Centre)

A H Millar, Illustrated Catalogue of the Pictures in the Dundee Corporation Collection, Albert Institute and other Departments of the Dundee Public Libraries Committee (Dundee: 1926).

William Norrie, Dundee Celebrities of the Nineteenth Century (Dundee: Wm Norrie, 1873).

T S Robertson, ‘Reminiscences of Old Dundee – Its Fine Art’, Dundee Courier 17/12/1906.

 

See the Your Paintings website at www.bbc.co.uk/yourpaintings/ for many fine examples of Harwood’s work.

Fraud, Charity and the Status of Professionals

Our project covers a wide variety of occupations, one of the key questions is how newer, potentially professional, occupations compared to the older ‘traditional’ professions of the law, church and medicine. The case of Thomas Hayter Chase (1814-95) provides an interesting example that can be used to consider how one emerging profession, the police, was understood by the public.

Thomas Hayter Chase was appointed superintendent of police for Brighton in 1844 following the murder of the town’s first superintendent, Henry Soloman, by a prisoner he was interviewing. Chase had previously been superintendent of police on the Isle of Wight. He held the office from 1844 until 1853 and during this time appeared frequently in the Brighton newspapers in his professional capacity, notably when giving evidence in court. He was also a rather controversial figure as noted here. He was often criticised in the Brighton Guardian, a liberal newspaper edited by Levi Emanuel Cohen. Chase felt such criticism was unjustified, as he wrote to a rival paper the Brighton Gazette in 1853: ‘I have much to congratulate myself upon in having been abused and mis-represented for more than nine years by this editor’.

Whether or not the Guardian’s criticism of Chase was justified, Chase was dismissed from his office in July 1853. His dismissal was caused by his association with Eliza Amphlett who committed multiple acts of fraud in Brighton in the early 1850s. Chase’s wife, Eliza, had known Amphlett and her family while growing up on the Isle of Wight. As a consequence, Chase claimed in his defence, he had allowed Amphlett to direct letters to her to be sent to Chases home. She was at that time in Lewes jail as an insolvent debtor, and was, unsurprisingly, reticent about advertising the fact. The letters were in fact used by Amphlett to extract money and goods from businesses and people under false pretences, notably through the use of multiple aliases by Amphlett. Chase admitted, as the newspaper report put it, that ‘he had been indiscreet, that he had forgotten his position as an officer and acted as a man only: throughout he was actuated by “that charity which hopeth all things,” and by a desire to alleviate the sufferings of one who had fallen from a high position in society, and suffered a long and painful imprisonment for her misdeed.’

Brighton’s Improvement Commissioners (the local body responsible for the town’s police force at this date) took a rather more dim view of Chase’s behaviour. They pointed out inconsistencies in Chase’s account of his actions and that he had made attempts to obscure the reality of Amphlett’s situation and actions from the investigation undertaken by the Improvement Commission’s Police Committee. One Commissioner rather intemperately stated ‘Any one who made it his business to encourage swindlers ought to be transported.’ This issue arose at the moment at which the local government of Brighton was being fiercely debated. Some sought Brighton’s incorporation as a municipal borough with a town council, others felt the current system of government by the parish vestry and Improvement Commission was adequate. As such, another Commissioner took advantage of Chase’s actions to launch into an attack on the Commissioners and to demonstrate that Brighton needed to be incorporated. Although the Commissioners agreed that Chase had not broken the law, they felt he had acted with ‘folly and indiscretion’ and as a consequence voted for his dismissal by a majority of 30 to 4.

Clearly Chase struggled following his dismissal. On 15th August 1853 a meeting ‘of several respectable inhabitants’ took place to consider how to help Chase and his family in their ‘present unfortunate position’. They agreed to open a subscription to provide him with assistance. By the end of October 1853 they had raised the not inconsiderable sum of £215.11s.0d. and a concert was held on the 27th October to raise further money. Donations came from a number of very prominent Brighton residents including the Vicar of Brighton Rev. H.M. Wagner, and from a number of other individuals included in our study, such as Richard Mallam Webb a local auctioneer and wine merchant who would be Brighton’s Mayor in 1870.

 

The Friends of Mr Chase

The Friends of Mr Chase, Brighton Gazette, 27/10/1853, p. 1.

 

Charity in Victorian Britain has been written about extensively. Yet most of the focus has been on the history of humanitarian international charity or of poverty relief charity. Furthermore, most of studies have focused on philanthropic bodies. The case of Thomas Hayter Chase provides us with an example in which the charity was informal and aimed at an individual of relatively considerable social status.

Plenty of individuals suffered similar distress every year as witnessed by the increasing cost of poor relief in Brighton, yet none of them received over £200 of support, the question, then, is how was Chase able to command this attention? What made the inhabitants of Brighton think he was worthy of such considerable relief? His role as superintendent of Brighton’s police for nine years was presumably important. He had been a prominent figure in the town’s public life throughout that period, wielding significant power over the lives of the town’s inhabitants. He had also himself subscribed to numerous charitable causes throughout that period, subscriptions that were recorded and published in the local press. Such public service and charitable behaviour gave him sufficient status to be able to make a claim on the resources of the Brighton population. This, coupled with his own presentation of himself as having acted foolishly but nobly, made him an appropriate figure for charitable relief. The incident reveals starkly the power and status that public service could convey on professionals in nineteenth-century Britain. A former police chief who was out of work for a relatively short period received over £215 in charitable aid; that amount, raised in just two months, this was more than his yearly salary (which was £194 pa). This is in stark contrast with the relief available to paupers in Brighton in the 1850s.

By Dr. Harry Smith

Sources

This blog was written using the digitised copies of the Brighton Gazette accessible through www.findmypast.co.uk.

Gerard Lee Bevan: fraud, fist fights and rum.

In further investigating the history of the Bevan family, I have come across the case of Gerard Lee Bevan (1870-1936). He was the grandson of one of the professionals in our sample: Robert Cooper Lee Bevan. A number of Robert’s children and grandchildren followed him into banking as partners in Barclays Bank. Gerard Lee Bevan, however, was not deemed quite sharp enough to work for Barclays and so was sent to work as a stockbroker. As Margaret Ackrill and Leslie Hannah have pointed out in their history of Barclay’s Bank, this was a common strategy for dealing with children who were not cut out for life as a clearing banker. Stockbroking was believed to be stable, but easy, work, and the fact that Barclays had extensive dealing with stockbrokers meant it was easy for family members to become partners in stockbroking firms.

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Gerard Lee Bevan.

© gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque Nationale de France

In 1893 Gerard became a partner in Ellis & Co, a stockbroking firm; he became a senior partner in 1912. From 1916 he was also chairman of the City Equitable Insurance Company. Although both firms had other directors, there was little oversight, something that enabled Gerard to commit one of the most notorious financial frauds in Britain in the twentieth century. Gerard amassed a significant fortune while working for Ellis & Co. By 1920 his interest in the partnership of Ellis & Co had increased to about £1 million on paper, while the other partners’ interests were about £100,000 in all. This disparity was reflected in the lack of interest the other partners took in the financial matters of the firm, they revealed considerable ignorance of such matters at the trial of Bevan in 1922. The apparent success of Ellis & Co lead to Gerard accumulating various directorships of other companies, including Leyland Motors. There was a similar lack of oversight at the City Equitable Insurance Company, where the board of directors consisted of men with little knowledge of the insurance business.

The end of the First World War saw a period of increasing speculation in the financial markets. Ellis & Co. became, unbeknownst to its other partners, in effect a front through which money was raised and then channelled into speculative investments. Gerard ensured that Ellis & Co could use the securities held by the City Equitable Fire Insurance Company. He also made loans from one company to the other, these were substantial loans, starting at £319,000 in 1919 and rising to £911,000 in 1921. He also directed the City Equitable Fire Insurance Company’s investments into ventures which he himself had an interest in, notably a Brazilian ranch scheme which was designed to increase the value of land he and a few others had purchased in Brazil in 1918. The City Equitable Fire Insurance Company invested £445,374 in that scheme. Unsurprisingly, these unscrupulous activities left Ellis & Co. and the City Equitable Fire Insurance Company in rather perilous positions with large debts and few assets. In order to cover up the situation, Gerard issued false balance sheets in 1919, 1920 and 1921.

The downturn that began part way through 1920 placed increasing pressure on the two companies. In late 1920 he used his position on the First National Re-Insurance Corporation to gain control of two insurance companies: the Greater Britain Insurance Company Limited and the City of London Insurance Company Limited. Gerard proceeded to strip these two companies of their assets to try and prop up Ellis & Co and the City Equitable Fire Insurance Company. Such measures were not enough and in June 1921, Ellis & Co. and the City Equitable Fire Insurance Company owed nearly £2.5 million while the difference between their liabilities and assets was £560,000 (worth about £24.5 million today).

The two companies struggled on, but eventually both failed. Faced with his schemes collapsing around him, Gerard fled to Vienna with his mistress, the French dancer Maria Pertuisot. It has been suggested that he was hoping to reach Soviet Russia, had he done so extradition would have been unlikely.

He took a number of precautions to avoid detection – he dyed his hair and moustache, and obtained a fake passport. After four months on the run he was eventually tracked down and arrested. However, according to the Cornishman, the two detectives who found Bevan ran into some difficulties arresting him: ‘Bevan fought the detectives for fully half-an-hour, knocking both men down, before being overpowered, and it is reported that he afterwards tried to poison himself, and later shammed insanity.’ Despite these efforts, Gerard was returned to Britain and put on trial. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. Following his incarceration his wife, Sophie Kenrick (a member of the notable Birmingham iron founder family who were closely connected to the Chamberlains), divorced him. He served five of the seven years, his sentence being reduced for good behaviour. The story goes that in his final interview with the prison governor he thanked the governor ‘as one old Etonian to another’. On his release in 1928 he and Pertuisot left Britain and settled in Havana, where they married. Gerard lived out the remainder of his life in Cuba running a distillery.

Besides being entertaining, the story of this rogue banker has a number of implications for our project. It drives home the power that professionals could wield. Gerard came from a highly respectable family, went to Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He entered the world of finance as someone with connections that brought him considerable esteem and trust. He rose to the top of long-standing firms with prestigious histories, Ellis & Co., founded in 1788, had played an important role in funding the war against Napoleonic France. The importance of family and the status of the professions in society as a whole are precisely the issues which we are examining in our project. The regard in which he and his profession were held by people within the City and by his fellow directors (who exercised little oversight) meant he was able to commit fraud on an enormous scale before anyone took an interest. A tale which sounds all too familiar to our ears.

 Dr. Harry Smith

 

Sources

Clear guides to the complexity of Gerard’s fraud are found in:

Matthew Hollow, Rogue Banking: A History of Financial Fraud in Interwar Britain (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 46-54.

P.S. Manley, ‘Gerard Lee Bevan and the City Equitable Companies’, Abacus, 9/2 (1973), 107-15.

Margaret Ackrill and Leslie Hannah, Barclays: The Business of Banking (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 87.

Contemporary newspapers fill in many of the gaps and provide colourful descriptions:

Cornishman, 21 June 1922, p. 3.

Hull Daily Mail, 17 June 1922, p. 1.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, 25 April 1936, p. 1.

Aberdeen Journal, 27 April 1936, p. 7.

Great expectations: sons, daughters and the professional project

Ottilie_McLaren

Ottilie McLaren, c.1900
©  Musee Rodin, Paris.
(Reproduced in Sian Reynolds’ Paris-Edinburgh: Cultural Connections in the Belle Epoque (Ashgate, 2007), p.67.)

 

The overarching question of the Victorian Professions Project is whether the professions, as a group, were energized by a professional project. Did sons and sons-in-law enter the same or similar professions to their fathers; rise through the ranks and then in turn order more of the same for their own sons? Were daughters married off into families of allied professionals and was marriage outside of the professions uncommon and perhaps an annuitant-spinsterhood preferred? We can certainly see evidence of this type of project in our emerging cohort database but we are also revealing families for which the project never really gets off the ground, derails abruptly or just didn’t progress in the fashion intended. Just such a father’s frustration with his son’s career choice survives in the letters and family papers of Greenock physician, James Wallace (1826-1904) and his son William (1860-1940). This clash of wills also leads us via William’s marriage to a family of fascinating women – creative professionals and political campaigners in their own right, with all the verve, vigour and society-improving intentions of their male peers.

 

James Wallace

Dr James Wallace (1826–1904) by unknown artist
© McLean Museum and Art Gallery – Inverclyde CouncilMore about image copyright
http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/dr-james-wallace-18261904-183528

 

James Wallace M.D., the ambitious son of a wire-spinning merchant, was a dedicated and devoted medic, a keen reformer of public heath in his town of Greenock. He was a determined and aspirational man who expected his son William to continue what he regarded as henceforth the family profession. Married well to Mary Williamson (1825-1892), the daughter of the Greenock procurator fiscal, George Williamson (1792-1854) – a very well-established man locally – James invested heavily in his son. When William veered away from his initial training in medicine and chose music instead, his father raged. His surviving letters reveal that he was deeply and furiously disappointed that his son did not follow him into his profession, especially after he had provided William with such a very expensive school education at Fettes.

Although trained as an ophthalmologist and a graduate of Glasgow University (1888), William’s heart was not in climbing the ranks of the medical profession. He served successfully as a medic during the war but otherwise resisted his father’s professional project and devoted himself to a career in musical composition. Although money was an issue, he did eventually marry well – to the upper class Ottilie McLaren (1875-1947), daughter of Lord McLaren – which must have surely pleased his father.

 

William Francis Wallace

William Francis Stuart Wallace (b. 3 Jul. 1860 – d.1940)
http://www.musicweb_international.com/wallace/index.htm?PHPSESSID=58312487013eab3bbfc267e6a0cefe7d

 

 

Ottilie Helen McLaren was the youngest daughter of Lord John McLaren (Lord Advocate of Scotland in Gladstone’s government) and Ottilie Schwabe descended from a wealthy Scottish-German Jewish family. Training first in Scotland under Pittendrigh MacGillivray, Ottilie persuaded her parents to let her go to Paris unaccompanied where she became a pupil of Auguste Rodin between 1897-1901 and would become recognized as a creative professional in her own right. Ottilie and William’s courtship was a long one. Her father insisted that his income as a musician should be no less than £600 a year before he and Ottilie could marry. This prolonged their engagement for nine years. Lord McLaren noted: ‘I have a very good opinion of Mr Wallace’s talent and industry, and it is only the fact of his having taken up a rather unremunerative profession that makes the difficulty.’ [See Sources & National Library of Scotland: MS 21535] Their separation as Ottilie pursued her art provoked a sizeable correspondence between them—Wallace wrote almost daily—letters preserved in a series of small books, covered with white vellum and fastened with coloured ribbon. They were finally married on 11 April 1905 in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Although very little remains of Ottilie’s work, we know that she was admitted to Royal Society of British Sculptors (A.R.B.S.). She was also invested as an Officer, Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.). For much of his creative life as a composer, William remained independent of musical institutions and societies. Later, however, he was a committee member of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and served as honorary secretary of the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Society of British Musicians in the years before the outbreak of war. In 1924, at the invitation of John Blackwood McEwen, he joined the staff of the Royal Academy as a professor of harmony and composition, a post he retained until the year before his death. Though based in London, he and Ottilie bought a retirement home, Westport House, in Malmesbury, where he died on 16 December 1940 from bronchitis and the effects of Parkinson’s disease.

It would be nice to round off this blog post by looking to William and Ottilie’s children’s professions, however they didn’t have any children. We can however look backwards and across at Ottilie’s female relatives to see whether her independence was unusual within her own family’s ‘project’. It would seem that an independent and adventurous spirit was encouraged amongst the McLaren womenfolk. Her grandfather, Duncan McLaren (1800-1886), raised himself from poor origins and little formal education to be Lord Provost of Edinburgh and an M.P. His third wife, Pricilla Bright (1815-1906), was a woman who took women’s suffrage support to be her vocation. Pricilla was the sister of Quaker, British Radical and Liberal statesman John Bright and temperance and suffrage campaigner Margaret Bright Lucas. Indeed she founded the Scottish division of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage. Both she and Duncan campaigned against the Contagious Diseases Acts and were active abolitionists.

Priscilla McLaren

Priscilla McLaren by Elliott & Fry, 1880s
© National Portrait Gallery, London

 

This particular project clearly passed down to the next generation. Ottilie’s aunt (step-daughter of Pricilla McLaren), Helen Rabagliati, MBE (née Bright McLaren) (1851-1934), was a local philanthropist and campaigner for improvements in health, women’s condition and political change. For example, she founded a hospice and a maternity home for young women. Another aunt, this time life-long spinster Agnes McLaren (1837-1913), was both a suffrage campaigner and a doctor. In the 1890s, Agnes began studying medicine in Montpellier and Dublin and thereafter practiced as a GP in France. She joined the roman Catholic Church in 1898 and campaigned for Catholic nuns to be trained for medical missions abroad (an aim fulfilled after her death.) In addition, Ottilie’s cousin, Laura McLaren (1881-1964), the daughter of Charles McLaren, 1st Baron Aberconway (1850-1934), was also an activist and was awarded the Mons Star and mentioned in despatches for her work in running a hospital in France during the first months of the First World War. She was also a Trustee of Imperial War Museum and Justice of the Peace for London.

Florence McLaren

Florence Priscilla McLaren- by Bassano Ltd, 1917 
© National Portrait Gallery, London
http://archive.is/biPe

 

By Alison C Kay

 

 

 

Sources

National Library of Scotland: MS 21504, cl2 and MS 21505, c53

 

‘Mrs Ottilie Helen Wallace’, Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib6_1250520827 (Last accessed May 16th, 2015)

 

Carson, Valerie (1999), ‘A Protean Spirit’: William Wallace: artist, composer and catalyst. Durham theses: MA, 1999, Durham University. E-Theses online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/4482/1/4482_1946.PDF

“His father’s sense of betrayal is evident in the surviving family letters at the National Library of Scotland, and it would appear that his outlet for these feelings was in the form of rage and verbal abuse. Their differences of opinion were a recurring cause of contention between the two men, in spite of the son’s redeeming claim that he had saved his father’s life after an operation where he lost a finger, in about 1891.” [National Library of Scotland: MS 21504, cl2 and MS 21505, c53]

 

Sian Reynolds, Paris-Edinburgh: Cultural Connections in the Belle Epoque (Ashgate, 2007).

 

A Gude cause maks a strong arm’: Biographical sketches of leading figures in the women’s suffrage movement around the time of the Edinburgh procession and women’s demonstration of 1909. (Edinburgh Council) http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/PDFs/WS-Biog.aspx [Last accessed: May 16th, 2015.]