James and Elizabeth's children
Charlotte Elizabeth (14 February 1860-8 August 1933) married William Davies Downing (1854-1940)(CR) in the Anglican Holy Trinity church, Tulse Hill, Lambeth, in 1880. William was born in Penzance, Cornwall, to Nicholas Berriman Downing and Ethel Mathews (both CR). An idle search finds that Downing père’s occupation was paper maker. However, the search suggests his interests were much broader than that. In 1871, he lists his occupations as Justice of the Peace, banker, vice-consul for France and Sweden and, in 1876, he was granted the Freedom of the City of London (in the Company of Tinplate Workers).
Son William was a paper maker in Wookey, Somerset, in 1881. In 1911, he was a solicitor in Islington, London, and an employer of an unknown number of staff. Given that the family lived in Australia for part of the 1890s, returning to England in 1902, I’m assuming he did his legal training in Australia. Unhappily, a university degree wasn’t part of that training at the time, making their records irrelevant to search, and newspaper archives have offered nothing to indicate where he may have been doing his articles. Charlotte died in Margate (probate to her daughter, Mabel), seven years before William’s death in Thanet, Kent. The couple were parents to six children, all of whom emigrated leaving Charlotte and William head of a very widespread family.
• Mabel Mary (1883-) was born in Wells, Somerset. She was with her family when they returned from Australia but must have travelled to South Africa because she returned to the UK from Durban in 1916 and the incoming documentation makes it clear she wasn’t intending to stay. She is next found migrating to Australia in 1920 with her younger sister, Charlotte. Mabel’s occupation was “poultry expert”. Unhappily, this hint has been insufficient to find her thereafter. A plaque for Mabel Downing (d. 17 February 1957) is in Victoria’s Springvale cemetery but there are no identifying details for us to know whether this is our Mabel.
• Dorothy Clare (1884-) was also born in Wells. The 1911 census has her a married woman living in her parents’ house with a son, Leonard Bain Wilson (1908-), who had been born in Johannesburg. Migration records have a Dorothy Wilson (housewife) with son Leonard (13) and daughter Kathleen (9) sailing from Canada to England in 1922, their intended address Margate, Kent. While the ages match, there are no further details to confirm this is our Dorothy and children.
• Ivan Nicholson Anderson (1889-) was the first of the Downing family to be born in Australia, in Woollahra, Sydney. Wikipedia says that Woollahra is an extremely affluent suburb, I suppose it always was. Ivan is not living with his parents for the 1911 census and the next record I have found is for when he arrived in Quebec in 1913. He was an automobile engineer when he married Vera Edith Raven in 1916 in Ontario, a son John Robert joined the family in 1920. By this time, both Ivan and English-born Vera were naturalized Canadian citizens (1913 and 1910, respectively) and Ivan was a wholesale salesman. My final sighting is of Mr and Mrs I Downing in the 1957 Canadian Voters List.
• Gladys Hamlyn (1892-1946) was born in Queanbeyan, NSW, at the time a small country town. The English 1911 census reports she was a post office girl clerk, presumably somewhere in London. She emigrated, in December 1923, travelling alone in the Corinthic’s second saloon to New Zealand where she arrived in Wellington in early 1924. Electoral rolls have her living in Harvey House, Collegiate School, where her brother-in-law, Hugh Warren Austin, was chaplain. She died in Wanganui in 1946, always single, aged 55 and her headstone is in the Aramoho Cemetery in Wanganui. Probate of her estate of £1,437/12/7 was to Hugh Warren Austin.
• Vera Emily (1894-1970) was also born in Queanbeyan. Single in 1911, she married Hugh Warren Austin in 1917, the same year he was awarded a Master of Arts degree from Cambridge. At the time of the marriage, in South Kensington’s St Luke’s Anglican church, he was a clerk in Holy Orders having been ordained at Wells Cathedral in June 1915. He served as chaplain in the Imperial Army 1915-1919 and was mentioned in dispatches. In 1919, the Rev. and Mrs HW Austin were on board the Empress of France, destined for a life in Canada. However, according to NZ’s newspaper archives, they clearly moved on because he was appointed chaplain of the Anglican Collegiate School, Wanganui, in 1921 after a stint as curate of the Cathedral, Nelson. He and Vera appear to have stayed at the Collegiate School for the rest of his career. Hugh died in October 1966, Vera in April 1970. They are buried together in Aramoho Cemetery. I have found no record of their having had any children.
• Curiously, Charlotte Elizabeth (1896-1979) was born in Hackney six years before the records show the family returning to England from Australia, although there is a five-year-old daughter in their party at that time. She may have been the Elizabeth Charlotte Downing the 1911 census finds at the Downes College, Folkestone, Kent. (Downes College? – I haven’t found a link between Elizabeth’s Downes family and this establishment, there may be none). In any event, Charlotte, a music teacher, migrated with Mabel in 1920 to Australia. By 1927, she was in NZ where she married Eric Fleming Clarkson (1894-). Eric was a sheep farmer, born in Sevenfontein, South Africa. According to cemetery and NZ’s marriage and death records, the couple’s son, Hugh Neville, was born ca1924 and died in 1929, meaning he was aged around three when his parents married. A myheritage entry says the couple had two children. Charlotte and Eric lived in the Hawke’s Bay area for the rest of their lives and are buried, with Hugh, in New Zealand’s Havelock North cemetery.
The second of James and Elizabeth’s daughters, Vida Mary (23 March 1861-16 March 1894), was a schoolteacher, presumably in her mother’s school, before she married Hardy Bertram McCall (1859-1934)(CR) in 1882. McCall was a man of independent means whose passion was archaeology, a field in which he was renowned. From his specialist knowledge of Scottish genealogy, he published The history and antiquities of the parish of Midcalder, which is where Vida died in 1894, aged 32. His CR entry has details of his family seal and specific mention of an 1889 Grant of Confirmation to our man “of certain Ensigns Armorial borne by the said William (his grandfather) and his forefathers, but not recorded in Our Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland,' namely: Azure a pheon argent, on a chief of the second two spurrowells gules. Creft: A Griffin's head between two wings proper. A bordure of ermine is added for difference”. Your guess is as good as mine.
Vida died around three weeks after giving birth to her son. The cause of her death was puerperal mania (16 days) with pneumonia (2 days). Puerperal mania is a rare psychotic condition typically manifest in extreme mood swings and hallucinations. It has genetic origins.
Eighteen months later, the Newcastle Courier reported Hardy Bertram’s second marriage, to the daughter of a “well-known and much-respected” Durham family who were “held in high esteem” in their parish of St Margaret’s. The ceremony was witnessed by “a large gathering” and “the presents were numerous and costly”. (Yes, you can hear my sarcasm dripping.) He died in Yorkshire in July 1934.
Vida and Hardy had two children.
• Vida Mary (1885-1970) was born in Edgbaston, Warwickshire. In 1901, she was at boarding school in Parkstone, Dorset then there is a record of her staying in the house of John George Sheldon, with others, in 1911. JG Sheldon was a man of private means, a son of a soap maker and landowner. Vida, aged 33, married Charles Herbert Duncan in 1918. He was from a family of doctors but I have not found his occupation (a Charles H Duncan was a showman/comedian but I think it’s unlikely to be our man). He was with his brother, later Dr Percy James Duncan, at the Epsom Downs Royal Medical Benevolent College in 1881. The College provided education to the sons of medical men in straitened circumstances. He died in 1927 and, in 1930, Vida married Basil Frederic Forrester Jackson, physician and surgeon. Apart from the couple’s mention in the attendees’ list at her father’s funeral in 1934, their Putney residence in the 1940 and hers in the 1950 voter lists, and her being awarded probate following Basil’s death in 1941, I have found no more about Vida, including whether she had any children.
• Thomas Hardy (1894-1940) earned a masters degree from Cambridge and was a structural engineer. He served in the Leeds Rifles in WWI and re-enlisted for service for WWII. After several mentions in dispatches, Major Thomas Hardy McCall of the Sherwood Foresters died in Oignies, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France in 1940. His effects were valued at £24,093/0/2 and probate was to his widow, Kathleen Grace Will, and half-brother, Bertram McCall.
I can find little about Blanche Evelyn (21 August 1864-22 October 1948) although what there is is tantalising. Born in Dundee, she, too, aged 16, was teaching in her mother’s school in 1881. In 1887, she married Henry Alexander Malcolm (1862-1924)(CR), also in the Holy Trinity church, Dulse Hill, Lambeth. His occupation at marriage was manufacturer and he was living in Viewbank, Dundee. He may have been in his father’s business, which employed 458 people to spin jute and manufacture associated products. In the 1901 census, Henry was secretary in a public company. It may be pure coincidence that an accountant, Henry Alexander Malcolm, gave lengthy evidence in a major financial case at the beginning of the 1900s about authorizing assets transfer between companies that defrauded their shareholders and other stakeholders. The company’s principal, James Whitaker Wright, committed suicide by swallowing cyanide in London’s Royal Courts of Justice immediately after the guilty verdict. In 1911, the couple, without their children, were boarders at an address in Bayswater, London. Henry recorded his occupation as chartered accountant and employed an unspecified number of staff. There are records of Henry travelling to New York in September 1912 with an ambiguous mark that might indicate his wife was with him, their (or his) future permanent residence to be the USA. He died 12 years later in New York. Blanche died in Worthing, Sussex in 1948. Blanche and Henry had three children, both sons were lost to WW1.
• Henry Drummond Alexander (1888-1917) was born in Dundee and was living with his parents in Milford, Surrey, in 1901. I have found no record for him in 1911. The next mention I could find was his promotion in January 1916 to Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. He was killed in action on 17 February 1917. He is buried in Hem Farm Military Cemetery, Men-Monacu, Somme France. The war record gives a Margate address for both his parents.
• Muriel's (1890-) entry in the 1911 census, records she was a nursery governess to a family in Twickenham, London. After that, there are possible “sightings” in passenger lists and newspaper reports of funeral attendees but nothing definitive. Then the London Electoral Registers have a Muriel Malcolm living in the Milton Court Hotel, in Kensington, in 1933 and 1934. In 1939, Muriel and her mother were living in Lancaster Gate (generally my closest Tube station when I’m in London). The final listing for Muriel Malcolm is in 1960 when a woman of that name is living in Paddington. We know she remained single because she was awarded probate of her mother’s estate in 1948, and described as "spinster". She also was the beneficiary of her father’s estate (there was no mention of his widow in the probate record) and that of her older brother.
• John Evelyn (1892-1919) was with his family in 1901 but missed the 1911 census because he, a bank clerk, arrived in New York in July 1910, naming his father as his closest relative. He was en route to Toronto where his father was living at the time. If his father moved to New York in 1912, John remained in Canada because Lt/Captain John Evelyn Malcolm enlisted in the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force. Who knows what had happened with his father because John named his mother as his next-of-kin. She was living in Northcliffe Lodge, Lowestoft. According to the Canadian Great War Project, he was a civil engineer when he enlisted in December 1914. He was serving with the Royal Monmouthshire Engineers, 271st Railway Company, when he died on 19 February 1919. He is buried at Tournai, Arrondissement de Tournai, Hainaut, Belgium. John’s effects went to his mother.
It looks as though Nora Constance (17 April 1866-21 January 1944) also had her trials. In 1888, she married Richard Beaumont-Thomas (1860-1917)(CR)(whose name may not have been hyphenated at the time), chairman and managing director of Messrs Richard Thomas and Co., Ltd., tin-plate manufacturers. In 1914, she unsuccessfully petitioned for a judicial separation, citing domestic violence as her reason. This was an extraordinary step for Nora to take. Her assailant was landed gentry, a JP who served on a number of civic committees, a benefactor who built a hospital for their community (Nora laid the foundation stone), whose addresses included Bryncaerau Castle in Wales, and who was the richest tinplate maker in the UK. He was apparently renowned for his efforts to social reform; unhappily, this benevolence clearly did not include his wife’s wellbeing. His 1917 obituary spreads for three full columns over a broadsheet page. He left £447,588/11/8 (presumably this did not include his immovable assets such as factories and other real estate), some of which was to support the religious, educational and temperance issues and institutions that he had established or otherwise promoted during his life. The majority of his estate was held in trust for Nora’s use, and for the benefit of his two sons and surviving daughter. His will also included bequeathal of one share in the Melingriffith Company Ltd to each of Charlotte Elizabeth’s children, and to his other sisters-in-law, Clara Gertrude and Elizabeth (sic) Maud Anderson. According to Wikipedia (confirmed in UK archives), his will was so complex it became a private Bill (the Beaumont Thomas Estate Bill) and read into the House of Lords records. With survival the best revenge, Nora lived another 27 years, dying at the beginning of 1944 aged 77. Probate of her £41,760/18/4 was to Lloyds Bank.
Nora and Richard had four children and it is this twig of our family that provided many surprises, not the least their inclusion in the memoirs of the British biographer, Michael Holroyd (see box below), who even has the Beaumont-Thomas family tree as Appendix One of the second volume, Mosaic.
• Vera Nora (1889-1900), the couple’s first child, lived a short life. She is buried in the Felinfoel Churchyard, Llanelli, Wales, where she was joined by her father 17 years later.
• The life story of Nora’s elder son, Lionel (1893-1942) is on the CR site and on Wikipedia. Both report his mother's reaction to his first wife, Pauline Grace Marriott, which is not flattering and suggests Nora was a snob although history is written to favour the powerful. Another description, by Holroyd, is that Nora was “ambitious”; further, that she had "married for reasons of pure wealth and position". Lionel was active in public service, including being an elected Member of the British parliament, a position he vacated when his marital, ah…, irregularities were about to become public. Colonel Lionel Beaumont-Thomas died, missing in action, in 1942, when the merchant ship he was on was sunk in the Caribbean by a U-boat. It seems he was on a secret mission at the time to do with Allied landings on Crete. His first wife, Pauline, who petitioned for divorce from Lionel in 1933, may have been born in NZ. Her father, Sydney Frederick Marriott, was in the Colonial Service in Fiji when she was born. On her death in 1954, her substantial estate passed to Lionel and Pauline’s daughter, Pearl Paulina Ridgeway. Another child, Captain Nigel Beaumont-Thomas, died two years after his father, during the Battle of Arnhem. He had earned a Military Cross (as his father had done in WWI) when with the Kings Own Bengal Sappers and Miners (his Cambridge BA may have given him his engineering qualifications) and he’d joined the 4th Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers, just four months before his death. Lionel was thrice married: twice (according to Holroyd) to Pauline, then to Isuelt Marjery Bland.
• Irene Muriel (1894-1975) married Indian-born Joseph Stransham Oldham (1882-1966)(CR) in 1918; the couple had two sons before their divorce in 1929. Their engagement notice curiously begins “a marriage has been arranged…” rather than the more conventional “an engagement has been announced”, perhaps a clue to the brevity of their union. Irene lived in Westminster and Chelsea for the rest of her life but she spent much of it on the road, so to speak. The shipping passenger lists are full of her travels, mainly to and from Africa (1929,
Pauline and Lionel Beaumont-Thomas
on their wedding day
National Portrait Gallery, London
James’ and Elizabeth’s only son, Henry Robert William (1873-1943) was also born in Whittlesea. There is somewhat more known about Harry, whom I presume to refer to as such because of the notation “Reverend Harry” on the back of the picture of his parents in a bible I have here. Because, yes, he trained to be an Episcopalian clergyman and was ordained in Durham in 1895, licensed to Holy Trinity, Margate, Kent. Between the 1891 and 1901 censuses, he married Frances (Fanny) who was born in Dublin and was a good 15 years older than her husband. In 1901, they were in the civil parish of Girthon (where there was the Episcopalian Chapel of Cally), Kirkcudbrightshire. It may have been that the small congregation (it comprised only one family in the 1840s) had amalgamated with the Anglicans because in 1911, Harry was a vicar of St John, Lowestoft (now demolished). The census shows the couple had three servants: a cook, a parlourmaid and a housemaid. Other than mention of the Rev. Harry in newspaper reports of wills and probate records, where he was probably an executor, little more is known about him. He died in Margate on 4 July 1943; probate records value his effects at £8,120/18/2, to his widow, Fanny.
St John Lowestoft
Holroyd M (1999/2004). Basil Street Blues/Mosaic. London: Vintage Books.
These two volumes are published together as Basil Street blues/Mosaic although they were originally published separately. They are a memoir of Holroyd's family and the circles they moved in. The Beaumont-Thomases feature through-out, there is even their family tree as an appendix of Mosaic. Michael Holroyd is a British biographer, married to Margaret Drabble.
Ethel Maud (1874-1949), born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, was the youngest of James’ and Elizabeth’s brood. I have found even less about Maud than any of the other siblings. There may be mention of her in the 1911 census when a Maud Anderson of private means was taking a course of treatment at a “hydropathic estate” in Richmond, Surrey. She and other patients were boarders at the premises of a Richard Metcalfe whose death was reported in 1919. According to the obituary, he had practised for over 50 years and was famed for “his treatment of hydrophobia, mainly by means of the Turkish bath and wet-sheet packing” not to mention his free treatment of anybody bitten by a rabid animal. In a sort of a link with us, between 1922-1939, Maud lived at 74 Christchurch Street, Chelsea. From the probate record:
Anderson Ethel Maud otherwise Maud of 19 Chesham street London SW1 spinster died 5 April 1949
at The Red House Northdown avenue Margate. Probate Ipswich 4 August to Barclays Bank Limited London.
1948, 1950, 1952) but also Portugal (1959) and NZ (1960) and probably elsewhere for which I haven’t found a record. She lived into her 80s, dying in Surrey in 1975. She and her elder son, Wilton Joseph, shared the same Chelsea address in the 1950s electoral rolls and there is a May 1952 newspaper announcement that she relinquished all her interest in Ruttingham Farm, Piltdown in favour of Wilton, so it seems mother and son were close. (Ruttingham Farm was a “small model farm” when it went on the market in 1945 and it was sold before it reached auction, presumably bought by the Oldhams. Some months later, its “live & dead farming stock” and its “nearly new machinery & implements” were auctioned.) That same year, 1945, Wilton married Margaret E Clews. (The CR site tells me they had a daughter, Victoria Margaret, who married Edward Robert James Jervis 8th Viscount Saint Vincent of Meaford in 1977.) Wilton died on Jersey, Channel Islands in 1987 where his father had died in 1966. Irene Muriel's younger son, David Anthony, seems to have spent his life around Chelsea and Kensington before his death in Surrey in 1981. He may have married twice, and had two children, but the record for both possible wives says “still living” so those names are unavailable although there is a record of a David A Oldham marrying a Rita Clews in 1974. Surely a coincidence for both brothers to marry a Clews girl although, I suppose, stranger things have happened.
• Nora’s younger son, Reginald (Reggie) Alexander Beaumont-Thomas (1903-1982), was born at Bryncaerau Castle in Wales. He, too, had an unconventional personal life. According to the unreliable CR, he married three times: to Frenchwoman Germaine Duboc in August 1925, she filed for divorce in 1932 (confirmed by the UK National Archives); to Agnes May Bickerstaff in 1934, divorced in September 1942 (also confirmed), and to Vera (last name unknown) although Holroyd labels this a 'liaison' rather than a marriage. There’s a chapter in the first of Holroyd’s memoirs, Basil Street Blues, about Reggie’s second wife headed “the coming of Agnes May”. By all accounts, Agnes May was a self-made woman, recreating herself through several marriages and affairs, at no time (sneers Holroyd) revealing her rather humble beginnings as a glass grinder’s daughter as she moved through the social circles of
Kensington and Piccadilly. She was the mistress of Holroyd's grandfather, Fraser, for several years. Apparently the separation arrangements impoverished his family. She found her next companion in recently divorced Reggie and they married in 1934. They seemed to have had a full life with several mentions in passenger lists as they travelled to and from the US. His occupation was variously ‘company manager’ and ‘none’, hers 'housewife' which seems an unlikely designation. Holroyd puts quotation marks around Reggie’s stated occupation of company director when he and Agnes May married, commenting derisively that the only time Reggie was ever employed was for a short consultancy to Rolls Royce about their coachwork. When he died in Brighton, Reggie was with Vera who was granted probate of his estate of £643,247.
Her estate, according to CR, was £2,498,308 when she died in
Hove, Sussex, in 1991. I was relieved to read that Holroyd
also had problems keeping track of the Beaumont-Thomas
wives. The family’s personal lives must have been a nightmare
for their contemporaries when writing Christmas cards each
However, thanks to the memoirs, we know that the
Beaumont-Thomas boys were very tall. Pauline and Lionel's
daughter, Pearl, told Holroyd her father was around 6 ft 5 ins,
her uncle Reggie was nearly 7 ft. He had a small head with what sounds like some cranial malformation, was semi-paralysed and accident-prone. Apropos of nothing (my narrative, not Holroyd's), Pearl also said her siblings, Lionel and Pauline's children, were quite sickly.
James and family were in Whittlesea, Cambridgeshire, when Clare Gertrude (1869-1951?) was born. I have found very little about her life. Up to the 1891 census, she was living with her parents. The next trace of her is the 1911 census when she was living on private means but occasionally creating millinery in the home of James Minter, umbrella maker, of Willesdon, Middlesex. She was a recipient of Richard Beaumont-Thomas’ largesse when he died and the CR site references Nora Constance’s 1944 will as an information source so, presumably, she was a beneficiary of her sister’s estate. There are 1951 probate records for Clare Gertrude Anderson: probate of her effects (£2,194/3/3) was to the Public Trustee. There is a Clare Anderson in WD’s photo album but nothing more to give any hint as to who she might be, or even what country she was photographed in. There is a record of a Miss C Anderson returning to England from NZ in 1899, and one of a Miss CG Anderson travelling to NZ in 1903 but no further information about either of these travellers to help decide whether they belong to us.