James and Elizabeth's children

 

Charlotte Elizabeth A (14 February 1860-8 August 1933)

 

 

Probably named for her two grandmothers, Charlotte was born in Dundee on 14 February 1860. Twenty years later, in the spring of 1880, she married William Davies Downing (1854-1940)(CR) in the Anglican Holy Trinity Church, Tulse Hill, Lambeth. William was born in Penzance, Cornwall, to Nicholas Berriman Downing (NBD) (1830-1901)(CR) and Ethel Mathews (ca1827-1906)(CR).

An idle search finds that Downing père was a paper maker. However, 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. In 1869 he was elected Mayor of Penzance and, in 1876, he was granted the Freedom of the City of London (in the Company of Tinplate Workers). On the other hand, in 1879, the Gloucester Citizen advised that he had been declared bankrupt. The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, in February, under the heading “Another great failure” reported NBD of Mendip Paper Mills (Wells, Dublin and London), trading as Burgess & Co., had gone under owing £80,000 although it was expected this would substantially be recovered through asset sales. In the event, creditors were awarded 8/- for every pound owed. A later case was brought to recover debt from him in 1892. It appears the plaintiff had been persuaded to invest in a company that came to grief. Shortly thereafter, NBD had left for Australia. However, he made a return to England in 1891 so was available to be sued for debt recovery. He returned to Australia where he built himself quite a reputation in Australia for public speaking on a range of issues. He died in 1901. His wife, Emily Mathews/Downing (1827-1906) was living with another son, Frederick Harry D (1860-1938) and his family in Manly, Sydney, when she died.

William fils was a paper maker in Wookey, Somerset, in 1881, but his occupation was lawyer when his first-born arrived two years

later. Shortly after that, the family was in Australia. I have found records of his 1891 appointment to the position of coroner in Queanbeyan, NSW, then being relieved of those duties in 1900. There is also a record of him being appointed liquidator (at 2.5% of the amount received, which seems a useful incentive) of the Queanbeyan Co-operative Roller Flour Mill Company (Limited) in 1896. Then the family was on the passenger list for the Persic that arrived in Plymouth in July 1902. In 1911, he was a solicitor in Islington, London, and an employer of an unknown number of staff. There were five boarders in the household, and two servants.

Charlotte died in Margate, Kent (8 August 1933, probate to her daughter, Mabel), seven years before William’s death in Thanet, Kent.

The couple were parents to six children.

Mabel Mary D (1883-)(CR) was born in Wells, Somerset. In 1884, as a toddler, she was one of six bridesmaids attending her aunt

Margaret Emily Downing at 'a fashionable wedding’ in Wells. She was with her family when they returned from Australia but travelled to Durban, South Africa in 1911. She returned to the UK in 1916 and the incoming documentation makes it clear she wasn’t intending to stay. She was next found migrating to Australia in 1920 with her younger sister, Charlotte. Mabel’s occupation was ‘poultry expert’. She returned to the UK from New Zealand in 1926 and, presumably, was still there in 1933 to be awarded probate of her mother’s estate. While there is a Mabel Mary Downing across the years in NZ’s city directories, I doubt this is our Mabel. In the UK’s probate calendar, a Mabel Mary Downing, spinster, died in Bristol in 1976 but this woman was also known as Mary Mabel Downing, which our Mabel was not in any record I’ve found.


Dorothy Clare D (1884-)(CR) was also born in Wells. The 1911 census has her in her parents’ house, a married woman  of five years

standing. The census also reports that she had a son, Leonard Bain Wilson (Johannesburg, 1908- ) with her, another child had died. 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 8 Windsor Avenue, Margate, Kent, her mother’s address. Their intended country of permanent residence was England. I have found few other records, which may mean Dorothy returned overseas. A Dorothy Clare Wilson is living in Lambeth between at least 1925- 29. Two Dorothy Clara Wilsons died in England in 1978 (and another in 1999) but there are no family details. I have also found no records for her children.


Ivan Nicholson Anderson D (1889-)(CR) was the first of the Downing family to be born in Australia, specifically 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 him arriving in Quebec in 1913. He was an automobile engineer when he married Vera Edith Raven in 1916 in Ontario. By 1920, both Ivan and English-born Vera were naturalised 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, living in East York, Ontario. The couple had at least one child.


John Robert D (ca1920- ) is on Canada’s Voters List in 1963 living in Toronto. He was listed with a Mrs Evelyn Downing and was a

manuf. agent.


Gladys Hamlyn D (1892-1946)(CR) 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 D (1894-1970)(CR) was also born in Queanbeyan. Single in 1911, she married Hugh Warren Austin (1891-1966)(CR) 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 Nelson Cathedral. 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 D (1896-1979)(CR) 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. Then, in 1920, Charlotte, a music teacher, travelled with Mabel in 1920 to Australia. By 1927, she was in NZ where she married Eric Fleming Clarkson (1894-1974)(CR). 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 C, 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. The other child was a son and I have found records for a Douglas Fleming Clarkson, farmer in Hawke’s Bay, married to Lorraine (mind you, I’ve also found a Douglas Fleming Clarkson, artist, on the 1980 Australian electoral roll when our farmer was still in Hastings). Charlotte and Eric lived in the Hawke’s Bay area for the rest of their lives and are buried in New Zealand’s Havelock North cemetery. Hugh is also buried there.

 

 

Vida Mary A (23 March 1861-16 March 1894)

 

 

The second of James and Elizabeth’s daughters, Vida (CR), 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 had (they seem to have vanished) 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 and Hardy had two children. She 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 Mary McC (1885-1970)(CR) was born in Kings Norton, Warwickshire. In 1901, she was at boarding school in Parkstone, Dorset, then

there is a record of her staying, with Etheldreda Ryder McNally, in the house of John George Sheldon, at the time of the 1911 census. JG Sheldon was a man of private means, a son of a soap maker and landowner. Newspaper reports of an Edward Rider Sheldon’s 1921 will name JG Sheldon as executor, charged with, among other things, delivery of a £500 bequest to ER Sheldon’s godson, Bertram McCall (Vida’s half brother from her father’s second marriage), and to niece Etheldreda, so it looks as though Vida was amongst family, so to speak.

Vida, aged 33, married Charles Herbert Duncan (1864-1927)(CR) in 1918. He was from a family of doctors and 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. Charles matriculated in June 1881 with preliminary science and intermediate science maths to enrol at the University of London in 1882. I had not found his occupation and rejected out of hand the Charles H Duncan who was a showman/comedian. However, when Charles and Vida married, their occupations were ‘actor’ and ‘actress’...  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, her's 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 McC (1894-1940) earned a masters degree from Cambridge and was a structural engineer. In the 1930s, he was a

director of McCall & Co (Sheffield) Ltd before it became one of the associated companies of United Steel. Also that decade, he was among 29 other offenders fined for speeding "over 30", as many of our ancestors did.

Thomas 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 (1895-1978), and half-brother, Bertram McCall. ancestry.com hints there were two children. The only two children I've found born to a McCall-Hill union were two girls born at the end of the 1930s, which seems a long time after Thomas and Kathleen's marriage.

 

Blanche Evelyn (21 August 1864-22 October 1948)

 

 

I can find little about Blanche (CR) although what there is is tantalising. Born in Dundee, Blanche, aged 16, like her sister Vida, 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 it was an accountant with the same name, Henry Alexander Malcolm, who gave lengthy evidence in a major financial case at the beginning of the 1900s. Apparently he authorized assets transfers 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 Alexander Drummond M (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 M'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, her occupation described as "spinster". She also was awarded probate of her father’s and both brothers’ estates in 1954, some decades after their deaths. Each estate was £990, which implies the same pot of money. ancestry.com offers probate details for two Muriel Malcolms: one died at Sinclair Lodge, Gratwicke Road, Worthing on 19 June 1974. Because Muriel’s mother, Blanche, had died in Worthing around a quarter of a century earlier, I am tentatively opting for this being our Muriel. The other Muriel Malcolm died in Leeds in 1983.

John Evelyn M (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 Overseas 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. (As an aside, he was 6 ft, 2 ins tall, of fair complexion with blue eyes and brown hair.)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.  

 

 

Nora Constance (17 April 1866-21 January 1944)

 

It looks as though Nora (CR) also had her trials. In 1888, she married Richard Beaumont-Thomas (1860-1917)(CR) whose name may not have been hyphenated at the time. He was chairman and managing director of Messrs Richard Thomas and Co., Ltd, a very successful tin-plate manufacturing company. A history of the Thomas family suggests the marriage was not affectionate. The couple had very different temperaments. He was abstemious and averse to public display, she enjoyed the life of a socialite. In his family memoirs Basil Street Blues/Mosaic, British biographer Michael Holroyd describes Nora as “ambitious”; further, without evidence, that she had "married for reasons of pure wealth and position" (p. 471).

Then, in 1914, Nora unsuccessfully petitioned for a judicial separation, citing a history of domestic violence, including being locked

out of the house they were living in at the time. This was an extraordinary step for supposedly society-conscious Nora to take. Her alleged 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 renowned for his efforts to social reform (although he ordered his clerical staff to leave the National Union of Clerks, and they did). His benevolence clearly did not include his wife’s wellbeing if she was prepared to divorce him for assault. He died of pleurisy and heart failure in 1917, possibly the consequence of catching a chill when travelling to London to see his son, Lionel, being awarded the Military Cross by King George V. His obituary spread across three full columns of 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 bequests of one share in the Melingriffith Company Ltd to each of Charlotte Elizabeth Anderson/Downing’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 after Richard’s death. Recreationally, her prowess at croquet regularly made the newspapers. She died at the beginning of 1944 aged 78. 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 least their inclusion in Holroyd’s family memoirs. The Beaumont-Thomas family tree even appears as Appendix One of the second volume of his two-parter. Holroyd is less than generous to the Beaumont-Thomas family except for the only one he actually met.

 

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 B-T (1893-1942)(CR) is on the

CR website (scroll down) and in Wikipedia and deserves a film. A schoolboy in 1911, he was a married man a couple of years later. Both the Thomas and the Holroyd family memoirs report Nora’s reaction to her son’s first wife, Pauline Grace Marriott (1892-1954)(CR). The reports are not flattering and suggests Nora was a snob although history is written to favour the powerful. A minor at the time, Lionel put his age up to match Pauline’s 21 years when they married in 1913 in Paddington’s registry office without his parents’ knowledge. Nora learned of the marriage after Lionel returned from a year in Luxembourg where he had gone to learn more about the steel-making business and also, his mother hoped, given time for the relationship to cool off. Accepting it hadn’t, Nora consented to Lionel marrying only to be told this was very much after the event. Apparently, Nora responded badly to this news the upshot of which was that Lionel and Pauline remarried, this time in the Anglican church, Holy Trinity, Brompton. I can understand some parental consternation: not only had her elder son married without parental consent, lying on an official document may have brought some unpleasant consequences, perhaps even invalidated the marriage

But war interrupted Lionel and Pauline’s marriage. He had a very active

war, reportedly serving in every major campaign. It was during the Battle of the Somme that his bravery earned him the Military Cross. After the war, Lionel turned to public service as well as the family business. He became a Justice of the Peace, a Herefordshire Country Councillor then, with Pauline’s very active support, the Conservative MP for King’s Norton. When the House was sitting, Lionel lived on his boat on the Thames: it caught fire in 1931 and was badly damaged. Holroyd writes there was a small community of Thames-dwelling boaties at the time, with much high-spirited (verging on Bohemian) interplay. Lionel was working his way towards a Ministerial career when, in 1933, he retired from the political life when his marital, ah…, irregularities were about to become public and Pauline petitioned for divorce. He then married Isuelt Marjery Bland/Hazelhurst (1896-1987) whom he had met on

Pauline and Lionel Beaumont-Thomas

on their wedding day

 

National Portrait Gallery, London

the Thames. He continued with public and business interests. I was particularly interested to read he chaired a committee working towards the precursor (the Thames Barrage) to today’s Thames barrier, which I saw up close during a Thames cruise in 2018. 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 that would liberate the island from German occupation. Lionel and Pauline had four children. Unlike their parents, these children largely flew beneath the public radar.

The 1939 census reports Richard Lionel B-T (1915-1993)(CR) was living at Moorcroft, Harrington Road, Uxbridge. His occupation was

both ‘student private' and ‘patient’. Mr Google tells me Moorcroft was a private mental institution. When he died, Richard was living at another mental facility, the Glenside Manor Nursing Home in Salisbury. His estate was valued at £588,514. According to Holroyd, Richard was hospitalised when he was aged 16 and he spent over 60 years in institutionalised care. Mark Beaumont-Thomas advised Richard died at a nursing home in Northamptonshire (the English death index and national probate calendar both nominate the place of his death as Salisbury, Wiltshire).

Nigel B-T (1916-1944)(CR) was a severe asthmatic which didn’t stop his enthusiasm

for outdoor activities and adventure in general. For example, there is a press report of him suffering serious injury (a broken shoulder) when he fell off a cliff while on a climbing expedition in Wales in 1936. He was also an independent thinker not shy about challenging received wisdom. He earned an engineering degree at Cambridge and applied his knowledge, as previous generations had done, to improving the family’s industrial output through technological innovation. His training was also put to good use in WWII. While with the Kings Own Bengal Sappers, in command of two parties of engineers, Nigel earned a Military Cross (as his father had done in WWI) for reconnoitre and continuing while under heavy fire to clear a path through a minefield for British tanks to pass safely. He became a prisoner of war at Tobruk and spent 1942-43 incarcerated in Italy - one of the reasons for Lionel’s joining the secret mission to facilitate the liberation of Crete was, if possible, to also facilitate the liberation of his son. But Nigel achieved this himself, escaping captivity to do the long cross-country march home to England. He then joined the 4th Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers. Tragically, Captain Nigel Beaumont-Thomas died just four months later, two years after his father, during the Battle of Arnhem. A description of his death makes chilling reading. He had been hit by mortar splinters during a battle in Arnhem and “was a bloody mess from the waist down his face was a rictus of agony”. His sister, Pru, paid tribute in The Times (6 October 1944).


His personality was an inspiration to all who knew and loved him. Everything that he undertook was done with thoroughness and zest, and the amount of knowl­edge and achievement he packed into his short life was astounding. He was an expert mountaineer and photographer, had travelled extensively and read widely, and could talk with authority and insight upon very many subjects. His gift of description, his appreci­ation of beauty, and his great sense of humour seemed to bring everything to life as he told it. But, in spite of his many interests in the things of this world and his intense capacity for friendship, his spirit ever lived on the heights. Now he has reached the goal of all his striving, but his gay, vivid, and gallant personality lives on in the hearts of those who loved him and will always cherish his memory.  

Mark and Debbie Beaumont-Thomas paying tribute to Nigel, Oosterbeek War Wemetery, Arnhem

Mark Beaumont-Thomas

Paul Sidney B-T (1919-1996)(CR) married twice. The first was to Gertrud Pederson (1931- ) who was Danish. They met at a sanitarium in

Veile, Denmark, in 1952, when they were both recovering from TB. They had two children before divorcing in 1979. Paul married again in 1990, to Barbara Constance Milne (1918-1994)(CR). Gertrud married Gordon Strickland ( -1996).
In 2019, Mark Lionel B-T (1957- )(CR) was running his own marketing consultancy business after spending 30 years in corporate life in

sales and marketing. He was living in Sheffield, married to Deborah (Debbie) Stoneman (1959- ). On his Lexicon Marketing website, Mark celebrated his and Debbie’s cycling excursion from Land’s End to John O’Groats that they covered in 21 days in 2017, no mean feat. While clicking around I found contact details for Mark and sent him an introductory message. To my great delight, he replied and sent very helpful corrections to, and expansion of, my previous draft about his family. He also sent a copy of the published history of his family, Men of Steel: The history of Richard Thomas and his family. Mark and Debbie have three children: daughters Ashley Jane B-T (1986- ); and Rosie Emma B-T (1989- ), who Mark says is six foot tall, a ‘throwback’ to previous generations of Beaumont-Thomases; and son Ben Arthur B-T (1984- ). The latter is The Guardian’s music editor: you can keep your Cleopatras and royalty, to share a gene with The Guardian’s music editor will do me.

Mark’s sister, Jane Beaumont-Thomas (1963)(CR) unfortunately died when just a few days old.

Pearl Pauline (Pru) B-T (1921-2015)(CR). Mother Pauline presented debutante Pru to British royalty at Buckingham Palace in July 1939 and,

on her death in 1954, her substantial estate passed to her daughter. Pru first married Peter Robert Sandham Bankes (1913-1943)(CR), in August 1940. The Diss Express reported the couple intended living in Burma where Peter worked for the Forest Service of the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Ltd. He had read (studied) forestry at Oxford although his claim to fame there, to this day, was his destruction of several oars while training for the Oxford-Cambridge boat race. Pru was pregnant with their first child when Peter died. He had become a Captain in the Army of Burma, attached to the Western Chin Levies and was posthumously awarded a Military Cross. Pru herself carried the rank of lieutenant. According to the CR site, Pru was a member of the WASBEES (Women’s Auxiliary Services, Burma) and was pictured in The Times in October 1944 standing with colleagues in front of a mobile canteen van. She was the tallest girl in the back row; given comment below about the height of brothers Lionel and Reggie, it seems the Beaumont-Thomases were all tall. From Holroyd’s account of a conversation with her, Pru had gone to India as a trainee nurse and practised this profession during the war. Holroyd was very impressed by Pru, describing her as “a fighter, a survivor. She has a good, strong face, with a firm chin, beaked nose, wide forehead. There is something Churchillian about her “ (p. 482).
Baby Peter B (1944- )(CR) was born shortly after a frightening earthquake had shaken the Shillong mission hospital where Pru

was confined for the birth.
Pru’s second husband was (possibly Irishman) Richard H Ridgway (ca 1913- )(CR) whom she married in 1947. That is my sum

total of knowledge/conjecture about Mr Ridgway.

Charles Richard Wynn Brewis (1914-67)(CR) was Pru’s third husband. He had arrived, aged 11 years, in Plymouth with his

family in 1926 after travelling first class on the Moldavia from Melbourne. In 1937, he married into Scottish aristocracy; the reception was at Scone Palace, lent for the occasion by the bride’s uncle, the Earl of Mansfield. The CR site says the marriage produced two children and ended in 1946. This corresponds with a record that has his wife, Elizabeth Helen Murray (1912-2006), named Mrs Charles Brewis between 1937-46 then thereafter Mrs Elizabeth Brewis. Pru married Brewis in 1956, in Christchurch, Hampshire; the CR site has them divorced in 1960 but I have found no corroboration of this. Other than his early military record, I have found no information as to Charles Brewis’s occupation. After a long, full life, Pru died of old age in a nursing home, people wishing to pay their respects were asked to make a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support rather than send flowers. The couple had a son and a daughter.
Samuel Charles B (1957- ) (CR) married Penelope Fawcettt Cummins (1954- ) in 1978. Their children are: Victoria Stella B

(1982- ), Marianne Elizabeth B (1988- ) and Samantha Claire B (1989- ).

Susan Pauline Brewis/Gilbert (1959- )(CR) married Gary F Gilbert (1957- ) in 1980. Their children are: Alexander Duncan G (1982- );

Liam Daniel G (1983- ); and Richard Thomas G (1984- ).


Irene Muriel B-T (1894-1975) was another family speed hog. The Chelsea News and General Advertiser reported she was fined 20s in

March 1918 for speeding around Pimlico: she had two previous speeding convictions, in mitigation her lawyer said she was on government business on this occasion. Irene married Indian-born Joseph Stransham Oldham (1882-1966)(CR), also in 1918; the couple had two sons before she sued for divorce in 1929. Their engagement notice curiously begins “a marriage has been arranged…” rather than the more conventional “an engagement has been announced”. At the time of her engagement, she was living at The Glades, Englefield Green, Surrey, where her grandmother (Elizabeth) had died in 1915 and her father, Richard, died in 1917. Her other address was Parkside, Knightsbridge.

As an aside, the London Evening Standard (11 April 1908) advertised The Glade (the home of an Arnott family) was for sale,

describing it as a very choice freehold residential property, an excellent family residence with 13 bedrooms and an assortment

of dining and reception rooms, a library, offices and stables, set in 18 acres of grounds that included gardens and orchards.

The final sentence says it offers great facilities for sub-division and this may have happened before Richard and Nora Beaumont-Thomas moved to the property. In 1918, some years after The Glade became one of their addresses, a Lady Mabel Gore Langton, daughter of the fourth Earl Temple of Stowe, was fined £80 for hoarding food at The Glade, an address she shared with her

mother, the Dowager Countess. The defence was that Lady Mabel and/or her mother were accustomed to buying in quantity.

The magistrate felt there was enough tea to last them over a year and confiscated 104 pounds of it. The report said 12 people

lived in the accused’s household. Pictures of The Glade in the 1920s show a large multi-storied house and it may be that it indeed

had been sub-divided into commodious apartments. 

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 (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.

 

Wilton Joseph O (1919-87)(CR), shared the same Chelsea address in the 1950s electoral rolls with his mother 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 (1922- )(CR). Wilton served in the RAF during WWII. He also authored at least three books: The Ismay Line (1961); The Hyphen in Rolls Royce (1967); and The Rolls Royce 40/50 (1975) (his uncle Reggie may have contributed his knowledge to the second two books). From an online book site, he was a great vintage car enthusiast and a collector of vintage Rolls Royce and Austin cars. Wilton died on Jersey, Channel Islands in 1987 where his father had died in 1966.  The CR site tells me the couple had a daughter.
Victoria Margaret O (1956- )(CR) married Edward Robert James Jervis (1951- )(CR), 8th Viscount Saint Vincent of Meaford in

1977. They became parents to Emma Margaret Anne J (1980- )(CR) and James Richard Anthony J (1982- )(CR).

David Anthony O (1921-81)(CR), seems to have spent his life around Chelsea and Kensington before his death in Surrey in 1981.

ancestry.com offers a marriage between David and Elizabeth Anne Preston (1934- )(CR) and there is a David A and Elizabeth A Oldham in the Surrey Electoral Registers until 1970. The CR site says the couple had two children. From an English births, death and marriages site, I have found three possibles, all Oldham whose mother’s name was Preston, born in Mideastern Surrey MidEast England where David and Elizabeth were living in from 1956. It would be an error to definitively say these were David and Elizabeth’s children, all that can be said is the parents names and birth dates are suggestive. My three, coupled with the two from the CR site, gives a total of four children, two living.
The first is Rosemary A O (1958- ) who died in infancy.
        

Sarah Elizabeth O (1960- ) married Clive Graham Constantine in 1981. They are parents of Charlotte Louise C (1985- ) and

John Allen C (1990- ).


Joanna O (1962- ) also died in infancy.
Susan Margaret O (1955- ) married Alan Paul Roy Gregory (1955- ) in 1976 and they are parents of Eleanor Joy G (1978- )

(married to American Christopher Calvin Guider (1976- )); Damian James Alan G (1979-2002); Camilla Jane G (1982- ).

David’s other bride was Marguerite R Simmons, whom he married in 1979. The UK electoral roll indicates she had

previously been neé Marguerita Larking (1928- ) married to a James William Simmons. A Surrey-based David Oldham, secretary of the Surrey anti-apartheid movement was trying to bring a case against Enoch Powell in 1971, under the race relations act, for inflammatory language designed to ferment hatred, I’d like that to be our David. There is also 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. It seems more likely that ’Rita’ was a diminutive of Marguerite (Larking/Simmons). There is no clue as to his widow or his children in the probate record.

Bryncaerau Castle

Caermarthen, Wales

Reginald (Reggie) Alexander B-T (1903-1982)(CR), 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 Blanche Aimeé Duboc (1903-1996) 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). Holroyd labels this a 'liaison' rather than a marriage; CR numbers it marriage #3. There’s a chapter in the first of Holroyd’s memoirs Basil Street Blues about Reggie’s second wife titled “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’s financial arrangements (to keep Agnes May in the manner to which she was accustomed after her

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.

liaison with him) impoverished Fraser’s family, so explaining Holroyd’s animosity towards her. 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. On one of these, on board the Arandora Star in 1938, Reggie caused himself permanent incapacity when he slipped on a wet floor and broke his leg. A jury awarded him £6,000 for his injury but Blue Star Line Ltd won an appeal on the basis that the small print on his travel ticket absolved them from liability for anything untoward happening to their passengers. Later that same year, thieves broke into the couple’s home and made off with some fur coats. Reggie was home at the time but had been unable to stop them because of his incapacity. Agnes May had been out dancing until 5.00 although whether this was in the afternoon or early morning was not specified. Reggie’s occupation was variously ‘company manager’ and ‘none’, Agnes was a '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, “a rather trivial sum” according to the petulant Holroyd. It is likely Reggie had arranged his finances to her advantage because Vera’s estate 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 sending them the annual Christmas card. However, thanks to the memoirs, we know that the Beaumont-Thomas men were very tall. Pauline and Lionel's daughter, Pru, told Holroyd her father was around 6 ft 5 ins, her uncle Reggie was nearly 7 ft (the damages case more precisely gives his height as 6 ft 7 ins). 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 which makes their achievements even more laudable.

Clare Gertrude A (1869-1951)

 

 

James and family were in Whittlesea, Cambridgeshire, when Clare (CR) was born. I have found very little about her life. Up to the 1891 census, she was living with her parents. She was a recipient of Richard Beaumont-Thomas’ largesse when he died and the CR site references Nora Constance A/B-T’s 1944 will as an information source so, presumably, she was a beneficiary of her sister’s estate. 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. What we do know is that in 1939, Clare Gertrude Anderson (b. 1870), a single woman of private means, was a resident of Camberwell House (a mental hospital), 33 Peckham Road, London. There are 1951 probate records for Clare Gertrude Anderson of Peckham Road, London: probate of her effects (£2,194/3/3) went to the Public Trustee.

 

Henry (Harry) Robert William A (1873-1943)

 

 

Harry (CR), James’ and Elizabeth’s only son 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 in my possession. Because, yes, he trained to be an Episcopalian clergyman and was ordained in Durham in 1895, licensed to Holy Trinity, Margate, Kent. In 1897, he married Frances (Fanny) Freeman? (ca 1858-1947) who was born in Dublin and was a good 15 years older than her husband. Harry baptised their only child, Henry Wynne Anderson, on 21 November 1898, shortly before the infant died.    

St John Lowestoft

In 1901, the Rev. Harry and Fanny were in the civil parish of Girthon,

Kirkcudbrightshire, home to the Episcopalian Chapel of Cally. It may have been that the small congregation (it had been only one family 60 years earlier) amalgamated with the Anglicans because, in 1906, he was licensed to St John, Lowestoft (since demolished). His licence was nominated by Rev Sir John Robert Laurie Emelius Laurie, Baronet, of Maxwelton, Dumfries whose claim to fame appears to be that, at death, he was the oldest cricketer in Britain. The Lowestoft Journal reported the occasion of the St Johns sale of work where various stalls offered a full range of what one might expect at a church sale. The Rev. Harry said the church wouldn’t run without a sale of work and that “the ladies deserved a first place in their acknowledgement of their arduous preparation” (27 November 1909). Later that day, he gave a lecture on Milan and the Italian lakes. In 1911, father James and the Rev. Harry each gave a guinea to the Tramway and Electric Light Employees’ Christmas Fund. The census that year shows that Harry and Fanny had three servants: a cook, a parlourmaid and a housemaid. There are several references to him over the years in relation to wills and probate records, probably as an executor. For example, he was an executor of the will, and a trustee (with Nora and Charles Bathurst whose role was later assumed by Lionel) of the management of Richard Beaumont-Thomas’ estate. It was noted in the newspaper report of his own will, that he had been chaplain of Holy Trinity, Cannes, between 1929-34, the parishioners of which were Brits holidaying abroad. He died in Margate (Barn Close, Northdown Way) on 4 July 1943; his effects £8,120/18/2. He left all his property to his wife, “to whom I owe more than words can say for her unchanging love and devotion during our 40 years of married life” (Thanet Advertiser, 25 January 1944).

Ethel Maud A (1874-1949)

 

 

Maud (CR) was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, the youngest of James and Elizabeth’s brood. I have found even less about Maud than the other siblings. In 1906, the Wicklow People advised that “A marriage is arranged between Sir Capel Charles Wolsley, 9th Bart, Carlow, and Miss Ethel Maud Anderson, youngest daughter of Mr James Anderson, of Cliftonville, Margate” (12 May 1906). According to The Peerage, Wolsley actually married Beatrice Sophia Knollys in 1907. The next mention of Maud may be 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 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.

Effects £8494/3/10.

© 2019 by Andrea Shoebridge. All rights reserved.