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