Geoffs Genealogy Update 01 April 2012

Sunday April 1st, 2012 | Geoff

It’s always a pleasure to me to receive messages from people who have contacted me via the Geoffs Genealogy website, having seen something on the site that is of interest to them. Over the past couple of months I’ve had two really valuable contacts of this type, and I’m using this blog entry to tell you about them. Hopefully you will find them as interesting as I have.

The first of these contacts came from Geoff, a Lethbridge descendant who lives in Australia. He had read my blog entry dated 30th November 2011, in which I mentioned my recent discovery of the Lethbridge line of descent. These people appear as a branch off my Holliday line and as such are not actually Bankes descendants. My maternal grandmother was a Holliday.

In particular, Geoff was stirred to contact me by my mention of Alice Matilda Lethbridge (b 1866 in Islington), who I had traced with her mother on the 1891 census, described as an Actress. I had failed to find her on the 1881 returns, and could not trace the family of her parents at that date. Geoff told me that he had found Alice’s mother – Louisa in 1881 – on Ancestry, but the family name name had been mis-transcribed as “Luckbridge”. Sure enough, with the benefit of this piece of advice I was able to locate Louisa at that date, living in Marylebone with three of her sons, but no trace of Alice. Where could she have been?

A possible answer to this question lies in another census entry for 1881, which shows a certain A Lethbridge, a female servant born in Clerkenwell as a servant in a household in the Coleman Street area of the City of London. The only fact shown in this entry that would discourage us from thinking that this may well have been our Alice was the age shown, which was 17. For it to agree strictly with other records this would need to read 15, but I’m not sure how much weight to attach to this discrepancy, as ages were often stated incorrectlty in census returns. This may well have been our lady, but we shall never know for sure unless we find another record with more certitude.

Geoff was also able to tell me that Alice was married a certain Henry Jameson Turner (1863-1898) in 1889 in Camberwell, South London. I traced this marriage, and then saw that on the 1901 census Alice was listed as a widow, which alerted me to her spouse’s death. In this entry she was enumerated in the household of her brother – Sidney T Lethbridge – at Hampstead, but Geoff tells me that there is a theory that she remarried in 1908 in London, to a man named Thomas Reginald St Johnston.

I have not managed to trace Alice in the 1911 census, and have been unable to trace a source that tells me what became of her or where she died.

Ancestry have recently added London school records to their online archive, and we have been able to use these to trace Alice Matilda Lethbridge and her siblings starting at school. These are most interesting records, and  apart from any other uses, they confirm these people’s dates of birth.

All this information, of course, does not bear on Alice’s career as an actress. However, if you are interested in following up on this there is much information about her available online, and a lovely picture of her on the National Portrait Gallery website.Alice Matilda Lethbridge was a very significant person in the acting profession, and performed all over the world. She was reputed to be one of the very best exponents of skirt dancing, and there are many sources that bear witness to her fame.

Geoff also mentioned another descendant of Thomas & Louisa Lethbridge, who achieved considerable fame. I mentioned above the brother of Alice matilda Lethbridge – Sidney Thomas Lethbridge (1868-1937). He married Grace Emily Willis (1875-1947) and enjoyed a very prosperous lifestyle as a Director of Spratt Plant Ltd – Dog & poultry food manufacturerers of London. Sidney and Grace had two daughters, the eldest of whom was Grace Marguerite Lethbridge, born in Liverpool in 1894.

In 1920 Grace Marguerite married Sir Robert Hay Drummond-Hay, a British diplomat,in Hampstead. He was 48 years older than her, and this was his second marriage. He died in 1926. Grace Marguerite never married again, but she carved out a career as a notable journalist, working for a number of prominent newspapers, but particularly for the Hearst group. She was also a pioneer Aviatrix,  and was the first female to travel around the world in a Zeppelin.

Grace was a war reporter, reporting in many war zones before being interned in a Japanese POW camp in the Far East. Although she was released at the end of the Second World War, her health had evidently been ruined by her period in captivity, and she died in New York in February 1946. Her funeral in New York was attended by a host of well known people.

There is not enough space here for me to do justice to this lady’s extraordinary life, but if you are interested I urge you to look her up on some of the many internet sources that are available to us, by entering her name into the search field on your search engine..

My sincere thanks go to Geoff for contacting me about this most interesting sprig off my Holliday tree. My grandmother’s family were ordinary working Lo0ndners, and I’m sure that she did not know that she had close relatives in Alice matilda Lethbridge and Grace Marguerite Lethbridge who achieved such fame and fortune. I’m sure she would have been thrilled!

The second of my recent contacts deserves its own entry on this blog, so I shall add a separate entry about it

13 responses to “Geoffs Genealogy Update 01 April 2012”

  1. Ian Sims says:

    Hi Geoff,

    Interested in corresponding with you re Alice |Lethbridge and TR St Johnston. At the point Alice married TR, there were only 2 Alice Lethbridge’s I could find in England, but I have never been able to narrow down which one. There are various articles about TR on the internet- he is the author of many books and was knighted.

    TR was very interested in dance, which is why I think he married Alice Lethbridge the dancer/ actress, although I have been told that this type of dance was considered bawdy and this could be unlikely for someone who then became knighted… interested to know your thoughts/ links to the Lethbridge name!


    Ian 07882455890

    • Geoff says:

      Hello Ian

      Many thanks for your comment about Alice Lethbridge, who was my first cousin, twice removed, on my Holliday line. The Hollidays were the forebears of my maternal grandmother – Alice Louisa (Holliday) Smith (1891-1982). I don’t believe she was aware of her connection to Alice Lethbridge, as for sure she would have tole me if she had been!

      Alice Lethbridge was a daughter of Thomas & Louisa Lethbridge (nee Holliday). She was born in 1866 in Clerkenwell, London. She married Henry Turner in 1889, but in 1889 she was widowed. In 1901 she was enumerated as Alice Turner, an actress, widow. Thanks to the help of another Lethbridge researcher I had noted the marriage to TR, but I have not had time to investigate this further. I am, therefore very grateful for the information in your message about TR. I had no idea that he was an author and a knight!

      From what I read in the article on the Dance History Archive website it would seem that the skirt dancing that Alice was so famous may well have ben considered bawdy. That may be a reason for its popularity!

      I’m not sure that being knighted necessarily precludes an interest in bawdy pursuits!

      There is obviously much more research to be done into these people, and hopefully I’ll be able to give it some time before too long. Can I ask what is your interest in Alice and her spouse?

      • Ian says:

        Hi Geoff,

        After a few years absence from genealogy, I’m back. Evidence for the link between Sir Thomas Reginald St Johnston and your Lethbridges is that on p46 of his book “From A Colonial Governors Notebook”, he mentions “my wife’s niece Lady Drummond Hay was the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airship”. Happy to photocopy the page fro anyone. Also, this is undoubtedly how Grace Marguerite Lethbridge met Sir Robert Hay Drummond-Hay as T R St Johnston himself worked for the Colonial Service also. His picture is in the National Portrait Gallery; his first name Thomas is omitted as was the custom in the St Johnston family



        • Geoff says:

          Hi Ian.

          Good to hear from you, and great that you are again active in genealogy. That’s fantastic news re Sir Thomas Reginald St Johnston, and as you say it seems to prove the relationship between Alice Lethbridge and Sir Thomas. Thankyou very much.If you could send me a scan I’d be very grateful. Thanks again. Geoff

          • Ian says:

            Yes, can send you a scan no problem Geoff, have you got an email address please? In return would appreciate anything you have on this branch of the Lethbridges please.

          • Geoff says:

            Thanks Ian. If you use one of the email links on the Geoffs Genealogy website that will get you to me.

            On looking at the 1891 census entry I mentioned before I can see that this was a different St Johnston family. Could not have been Alice & hubby, as they weren’t married until 1906, I think. Getting over excited, I’m afraid.

            So I can decide what to send you, are you specifically interested in Alice Lethbridge , or in her parents and siblings?

      • Ian says:

        1948 PROBATE

        St Johnston, Alice Matilda otherwise Alice of Belsaye, Ratton Road, Eastbourne wife of Sir Thomas Reginald St Johnston KCMG died 4 February 1948. Probate Lewes 10 April to the said Sir Thomas Reginald St Johnston KCMG retired colonial governor. Effects £327 11s 9d

        • Geoff says:

          Thanks for this, Ian. I’ve now seen it in the probale calendar as well. Can’t understand why I didn’t think of looking for this before. It just shows how we all have mental blocks, and good on you for thinking of it. This certainly proves the relationship, and tells us about Alice’s death. I can now see her on the 1891 census in Birmingham as well. Need to track her on the other censuses, assuming she wasn’t abroad, of course. Fantastic. You are a star! Geoff

  2. James says:

    Grace Marguerite Lethbridge was my great-aunt, her sister Mamie being my paternal grand-mother. I have a great deal of her old possessions.

    Any help in linking to the Australian Lethbridges would be most helpful.

    My whole tree is available on


  3. James says:

    I’ve also been working on the Alice Lethbridge twig of the tree but have not found a definite link to her as the Skirt Dance. Many on ancestry have the dancer as Alice Maud Lethbridge, with a different parentage, as seen in this thread:

    Also, I can’t find Sidney T Lethbridge, my paternal great grandfather in the 1901 census at all, any help there would be wonderful

    • Geoff says:

      Hello James. Thanks for your two comments. Sorry it’s taken me a while to reply, but I have been rather busy of late, and this is the first chance I’ve had to reprise my records re Alice Matilda Lethbridge (b 1866).

      There is a sound link betweem Alice Matilda and Mr Turner. The record that persuaded me that our Alice was Mrs Turner was the 1891 census entry, ref RG12/464, fo 87, p68, sch 634. This is the household of Louisa M Lethbridge, a widow aged 47, living on her own means, and her children. Alice’s children were listed:
      Alice M Turner, a widow aged 25, an actress, b Clerkenwell
      Sidney, aged 23, a commercial traveller, b Camberwell:
      Herbert, aged 21, a Soldier, b Islington
      Horace, aged 14, a (cant read) Clerk.
      The household also included a female Domestic Servant, aged 19. There were no other people enumerated in the house.

      The details of the children tie up with the baptism entries that we have traced for our Alice’s siblings.

      As I think you know, the civil reg indexes show that Alice Matilda Lethbridge m Henry Jameson Turner in Camberwell in 1889. I haven’t yet found the marriage entry, and haven’t bought the certificate because of the need to keep down my research costs. Notwithstanding this, I’m confident that this is correct. To clinch it, there was a libel case that proved quite costly to Alice in 1896, which explicitly refers to Mrs Turner being Alice Lethbridge the dancer . It appears from this that her spouse was an actor. If you have any other information about Alice, and what happened to her after the death of her spouse in 1898, I’d be grateful if you could share it with me. I’d love to fill in the remaining years of her life.

      Now to your second query, re Sidney T Lethbridge and the 1901 census. I found him in the following entry: RG13/127, fo 19, p 29, sch 185. Sidney was enumerated at Hampstead with his young wife, and included in his household was Alice Turner, widow. If you feel able to share with me any info re your line of descent from Sidney I’d be very grateful. Possibly you may find it best to contact me using one of the links on the Geoffs Genealogy website for this purpose. Happy hunting.

  4. Peter says:

    I’m currently researching Henry Jameson Turner and can confirm that your Mr Turner was indeed an actor/manager.
    His father was also Henry Jameson Turner an actor, comedian and occasional entrepreneur with a career lasting into his 80’s.
    Other members of the family were also in the business, including two ladies, probably step-sisters to your Henry, described as comediennes.
    There are many references to both Henry’s in “The Era” a theatrical newspaper.
    Henry’s sister, Henrietta Jameson Turner, was married to a brother of my wife’s grandfather, Walter Alexander Thomson. All, in the 1980’s, were residing in the Ashburnham triangle in Greenwich.

    • Geoff says:

      Many thanks for your comment, Peter. It is interesting that our Mr Turner came from a show business family. Sad that he died at the young age of 35. Alice Lethbridge remarried in 1906, and her second spouse was Thomas Reginald St Johnston (1881-1950), a diplomat. I’m not sure when Alice’s career on the stage ended, but she will have had something of a change of lifestyle with her second husband. He was Governor of the Leeward Islands for a number of years. He also wrote a numbe rof books, most of them draw on his experiences as a diplomat, but one of which was “A History of Dancing”, which contains a lengthy chapter about his wife’s career on the stage.

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