ALBERTINA HERBERT in the occult world 1889-98.


This is one file in a wider account of GD member Albertina Herbert’s forays into the occult world of late 19th century London and Canada. It’s based on her diary, now at the National Library of Wales, where it’s catalogued as NLW18744B and that’s how I refer to it below. The first entry in NLW18744B was made on 1 June 1889, the last in June 1895.

The events in this file took place while she was also an active GD member. See the file HERMETIC SOCIETY? And ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN 1889-90 for my coverage of Albertina as a GD member.

There’s also a file covering 1891-1909: CANADA, MORE FORTUNE TELLERS; AND THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY 1896-1909

On my work on the diary

I haven’t identified all the people Albertina refers to in the diary. Sometimes I couldn’t read her handwriting - particularly when she was in a hurry or writing in pencil, it could get pretty wild.

I hope, though, that I’ve spotted all the GD members she mentions.

Square brackets [] in the account below is me supplying further information about diary entries; or possible interpretations of Albertina’s scrawl.


In the same few months that she was becoming a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, Albertina visited several alternative practitioners. Diary NLW18744B doesn’t give any clue as to why she went to see them; and in only one case is the reason fairly obvious. She might have been desperately seeking answers to questions that perplexed or worried her; however, when she was actually doing that, late in 1897, she made notes on what the practitioner in question had told her about her future. It’s more likely that in 1889 she was just doing it out of boredom and curiosity – undertaking a kind-of Cook’s tour of the occult options available to an aristocratic woman in high society England.


Diary entries:

Friday 12 July [1889]...Tea Mrs Nick Wood...”

Monday 22 July [1889]: Mrs Wood to luncheon and with her to see Lottie Fowler at 62 Chester Terrace…”

If Albertina was going to start visiting clairvoyants, Lottie Fowler was an obvious choice for a first such outing – she was experienced, and famous, perhaps even notorious, for predictions she had made at the outset of her career, in her native USA and then in England, which turned out to be true. She had been working in Europe since the mid-1870s and had had a lot of coverage in the spiritualist press. Sessions with her had won over men previously sceptical of spiritualism’s claims; amongst others the Rev Stainton Moses, editor of Light, the most widely-read spiritualist magazine; and later Charles Carleton Massey, a founder of the Hermetic Society (for more on that, see my file on Albertina in the GD). By 1889 Lottie was specialising in diagnosing illness using mediumship, and offering sessions of massage. Earlier in her career she had also given business advice via trance, and she was also known for her ability to cause spirits to manifest themselves during sessions.

Albertina’s acquaintance Mrs Wood must have been one of Lottie’s regular clients but in 1889 you did not need an introduction or an appointment to have a session with her. Her advert in Light indicated that she would welcome callers on spec, each afternoon. Lottie began the year seeing clients at a hotel in Paris. She moved to 62 Chester Terrace, off Eaton Square, for the English social season. It wasn’t her own house; the householder was the artist John George Stokoe. With the main social season over, during the autumn Lottie changed addresses several times, though always within Belgravia and Mayfair. She charged for her services; while in Paris, her rate was 25 francs per session but she had the hotel to pay for so it’s likely that her charges in London were rather less.

As usual, Albertina didn’t make any comment in her diary on what she thought of her session with Lottie Fowler, and there’s no further mention of Lottie in it. And after one more session of tea-drinking with Edith Wood, on 24 July 1889, there’s no mention of her either.

Mrs Wood’s husband, Nicholas Wood (1832-92) was Conservative MP for Houghton-le-Spring. He had trained as a locomotive engineer and then made a fortune from mining and shipping. In 1881 he married Edith Florence daughter of John Swynfen St Vincent Jervis of a Staffordshire family that seems to have been down on its luck by the late 19th century – in 1890 the family estate was sold. Edith was 23 years younger than her husband; not an unusual age difference amongst the people Albertina writes of in the diary. Edith and her husband had a house at Sandling Park, near Hythe in Kent. On the day of the 1891 census they were at their London home, 54 Prince’s Gate, with their four children, a Prussian-born governess, and 13 servants.


NLW18744B diary entry for a few days after Albertina’s GD initiation:

Wednesday 25 September [1889]. ...Called on Younger 20 New Oxford Street.”

I could write a separate file on Albertina and her doctors. From June 1889 to the end of that year she summoned at least half a dozen of them to attend her. Most of them she didn’t call on again and on 1 August she wrote in her diary, “...[1] think all doctors tiresome and useless”. I decided I’d put David Younger in this file because he was not an orthodox doctor; indeed, in the early 1890s he led several campaigns against the horrors of allopathic medicine, especially its willingness to put poisons in its medicines. Also, the entry above suggests that Albertina didn’t think he was tiresome and useless, and had been his patient for a while. She wrote down the full address in diary NLW18744B, as she usually did when she was going somewhere for the first time. Younger must have told her where he had moved to, because it was some weeks before his regular advert in Light was giving the new address.

Because David Younger was not an orthodox doctor and because, in the end, his campaigns against the might of orthodox medicine did fail, it’s been hard to find out anything about him. Eventually I came across two profiles of him, though details are lacking in them just where I’d most like some. From them I gathered that Younger was born near Leeds in the late 1820s; and that his mother was a healer, perhaps the latest in a long line of such women, using her skills as a herbalist and nurse to help her neighbours. Younger learned the basics of herbalism from her. However, she did not charge for her services and perhaps when he was young he didn’t think that herbal medicine could be a means of earning a living. He went to work for a railway company, probably as a mechanic. As late as the 1861 census he was still listed as working as a “smith” so that was probably still his main source of income, but in the late 1880s he said he had been a herbalist since the late 1840s, so he was treating patients in his spare time.

David Younger and his wife Ellen are not on the 1871 census so it must have been during the 1860s and 1870s that they were in the Americas – both north and south America, apparently. During that time Younger qualified as a medical practitioner at what one of the profiles called the Thomsonian College in Cincinatti Ohio; named for Samuel Thomson, a man of similar background to Younger, who had first experimented with the use of native American plants in European herbalism. I think the institution was called the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinatti by the time Younger trained there.

Younger returned to England, probably in the late 1870s. By 1881 he was in private practice as a medical herbalist, based in Bayswater which is perhaps where Albertina first went to consultations with him. As well as treating patients in person and making medicines to order, he founded the Alofas Company to sell his herbal medicines in ready-made packets; and I think it was for a new supply of some of these that Albertina called on him in September 1889.

Younger used mesmerism as part of the process of diagnosing his patients’ ailments; and massage and something he called ‘curative magnetism’ as part of their treatment, when he thought they were appropriate. He had been trained in mesmerism long before he went to America, by the French mesmerist Baron Dupotet de Sennevoy while de Sennevoy was living in England in the late 1830s and early 1840s.

Though mesmerism and its successor hypnotism were not much used by orthodox doctors – they were anathema to most of them – they were of great interest to occultists, who were fascinated by altered states of consciousness (though they wouldn’t have described them in those terms) and were willing to believe that what went on in the mind could influence what happened with the body (a concept orthodox medicine is only just catching up with). Occultists were therefore more willing to look favourably on alternative practitioners, who were perhaps also more affordable than orthodox ones. That Younger should advertise in Light suggests he was expecting or already had many clients from amongst its readers. He also had contacts amongst England’s theosophists, including Dr Herbert Coryn, one of Blavatsky’s inner circle. In the early 1890s, Coryn agreed to be one of the lecturers at the Medico-Botanic College which Younger and his fellow herbalists were trying to found to put herbalism on a more professional footing. Herbert and his brother Sydney joined the Order of the Golden Dawn; though not while Albertina was an active member.

One of the great arguments put forward by alternative practitioners is that their treatments can be successful where orthodox medicine has failed. Younger certainly argued on those lines and went further, saying that his medicines were safer than allopathic ones. Though he thought it important that those charging for services as herbalists should be trained, he didn’t believe that herbalism should be so professionalised as to prevent people diagnosing and treating themselves. In 1887 Younger published two booklets showing readers how to mesmerise someone. The booklets were then included in a larger ‘do it yourself’ herbal, The Magnetic and Botanic Family Physician, and Domestic Practice of Natural Medicine…. When she was in Canada, Albertina wrote on the outer pages of diary NLW18744B a recipe for a herbal medicine, using plants that grew in north America. Perhaps Younger had noted the details down for her; he certainly had experience with American plants. If she had bought and taken with her a copy of Younger’s ‘family physician’ manual, she could have made up the medicine herself.

FORTUNE TELLERS – Albertina has her hand read

Albertina’s writing down of one foreign surname was such a scrawl I thought I would never be able to identify the person. However, I could see that the final part of the surname began and ended with ‘r’ and had a couple of ‘s’s’ somewhere in the middle. I can now (August 2022) cautiously suggest that Albertina’s palm-reader was a Mrs Anna van Rensselaer.

Diary entry during Albertina’s visit to her much older half-sister Henrietta (Etta) and Etta’s husband Sir Philip Grey Egerton; at Oulton Park in Cheshire.

Sunday 29 September [1889] ...Had my hand told by Mrs Van [?Rensselaer]...”

In the late 19th century, everyone was at it – claiming they had occult powers of some sort. Albertina herself believed she had psychic or clairvoyant powers which she could develop if only she knew how – a good reason for joining a society like the Order of the Golden Dawn.

Mrs van Rensselaer was not a professional palmist, she was one of Etta’s other guests. Like a spiritualist séance, or card games, having your hand read could while away aristocratic days in which time often passed very slowly. Anna Lovice van Rensselaer was an American with impeccable ‘eastern seaboard’ family credentials. She was a daughter of Samuel Whitmore and his first wife, Lovice Avery, who were both from families who had been living in Massachusetts for many generations. Anna married Philip van Rensselaer, from a Dutch-American family whose pedigree in New York city and state went back even further.

Philip van Rensselaer had been a Major in the 2nd New Jersey Cavalry during the American Civil War. His war service had probably shortened his life: he died, in Vevey, Switzerland, in 1873, aged only 34. Anna van Rensselaer chose not to return to live permanently in the United States after her husband died. Left a comfortable income, she stayed in Europe and eventually moved to London. On the day of the 1891 census (a few months after Albertina went to Canada) she was living at 20 St James’s Place Westminster. She had a lot of friends amongst the American community in London, including the novelist and diner-out Henry James. Her afternoon teas had a good reputation in the 1890s, though one reminiscer remembered being very shocked when one of Mrs van Rensselaer’s guests, the Countess of Wharncliffe, dared to smoke a cigarette at the tea table.

Albertina’s diary contains no further references to Anna van Rensselaer. Born in 1841, she was over a decade older than Albertina, and her sister Henrietta’s friend, not her own. And perhaps whatever Mrs van Rensselaer had seen in Albertina’s hand had not pleased her!

Albertina’s references in diary NLW18744B to GD founder Samuel Mathers were always respectful, suggesting that despite the difference in their social background, she was rather in awe of him. If she had known him better and had had the nerve to ask him, he could have read her palm for her. An entry in George Bernard Shaw’s diary for 1887 records an ‘at home’ given by a future GD member, the novelist and biographer Joseph Fitzgerald Molloy. Oscar Wilde was one of the other guests, and so was Samuel Mathers, who read Shaw’s hand for him.

FORTUNE TELLERS? - spiritualist art and Elizabeth Wilkinson

NLW18744B diary entries:

Saturday 2 November [1889].,,Went to tea [at] Lady Cottenhams (sic) to meet Mrs Wilkinson.”

Saturday 9 November [1889]. Mrs Wilkinson 3 o’clock...”

Wednesday 1 [January 1890]...Met Mrs Wilkinson in Hill Street”.

By ‘Hill Street’ Albertina means the rooms Violet Chambers had been renting in Hill Street since the autumn. Albertina seems to have met Mrs Wilkinson at Violet’s by accident that day. Violet was a great séance-goer; perhaps Mrs Wilkinson was giving Violet a personal session.

The exploits of many psychics appeared in Light, the most widely read occult magazine in the 1880s and 1890s; and if they were professionals, they were pleased to get the publicity (even the infamy). However, Mrs Wilkinson’s exploits did not appear in Light. She did not do public sessions; she didn’t advertise; and I’m pretty sure she she didn’t charge for her services – her family were members of the Swedenborg church and I think they would have seen taking payment as un-Christian. The result of all that has been that it’s been quite hard to find out anything about her! Fortunately, Florence Marryat – like Violet Chambers and even Albertina, a great tourist of spiritualism - mentioned her as “Mrs Wilkinson, a clairvoyant who has a large clientèle of wealthy and aristocratic patrons”.

Elizabeth Wilkinson’s involvement in spiritualism began, like so much involvement did, with the death of a child; her son Edward, in 1856. As she struggled with her grief, she began to do automatic drawings, described by her husband William Martin Wilkinson as sometimes...buildings or scenes, but more commonly flowers...of no known order”. He began to keep the drawings and in 1858 published a book about them, Spirit Drawings: A Personal Narrative. William Martin Wilkinson was a solicitor, with offices at 44 Lincoln’s Inn Fields and clients who included members of the aristocracy. He dealt with the legal affairs of the very well-known medium William Dunglas Home, who also had many aristocratic clients. In 1860, with Thomas Shorter, Wilkinson founded the Spiritual Magazine; he was its editor until it ceased publication in 1875. William Howitt wrote regularly for it and publicised Elizabeth Wilkinson’s art works amongst his acquaintances. They began to attract wider interest. Georgina Houghton, the much better-known spiritualist artist, was amongst those who were told about them. She was inspired to try painting while in trance herself.

That’s all I’ve been able to find out about Mrs Wilkinson; and it doesn’t quite explain when she first began seeing clients; and what services she offered them. Perhaps she drew automatically in response to the client’s questions and then tried to interpret her drawings as answers. Violet Chambers might have been one of her last clients: by the day of the 1891 census William Martin Wilkinson had retired, and he and Elizabeth had moved to Anglesey.

Lady Cottenham

The tea party was a venue for a great deal of the work of social interaction done by women of Albertina’s class. Parties like Lady Cottenham’s were organised to introduce the hostess’s aquaintances to people they would not have met under other circumstances. Careful use of visiting cards and invitations meant that those guests who turned up had been vetted. Lady Cottenham had undertaken to bring possible clients and a spiritualist medium together; but such events were also a way to launch American visitors (for example) into high society, and some hostesses charged them for the privilege. After that tea party, Theodosia Cottenham is not mentioned in diary NLW18744B; like Anna van Rensselaer she was 10 years older than Albertina and they had probably never been friends. Albertina knew Lady Cottenham’s mother better, perhaps as a friend of her own mother - Frances Henrietta, widow of Sir Robert Charles Dallas. Frances Dallas is mentioned several times in diary NLW18744B and was probably the person who got Albertina her invitation. Lady Dallas’ daughter Theodosia Selina had married William John Pepys, 3rd Earl of Cottenham in 1870. She was a widow now with young children; her husband had died in 1881.

THEOSOPHISTS, with one living a very different life from Albertina

At the same time as she was joining the GD and visiting psychics, Albertina was also taking her first steps into theosophy:

Isabel Cooper-Oakley; and I mention her sister Laura Mary as well as Albertina would have known her too; though she doesn’t seem to have done so in 1889.

NLW18744B diary entries:

Wednesday 17 July [1889],..Mrs Cooper Oakley to dinner”.

[After dinner Albertina went out to a party; on her own, I think.]

Saturday 20 July [1889].,,Lunched at Dorothy Restaurant.”

Sunday 21 July [1889]...Dined under “the red lamps”.

[Albertina’s quote marks; I think she means she went out to a Dorothy restaurant again. An article on the opening night of one of the Dorothy’s describes the décor of the dining-room as cream walls with a crimson dado, and Japanese fans.]

Monday 22 July [1889]” was a very occult day: “Mrs Wood to luncheon and with her to see Lottie Fowler 62 Chester Terrace...Met Mrs Cooper Oakley at dinner.”

I take Albertina’s wording to mean that Isabel turned out to be one of the guests when Albertina went out to dinner that evening, she doesn’t say where.

Then the two women didn’t meet again for three months.

Monday 28 October [1889]...Mrs C Oakley and Violet [Chambers] to dinner.”

Isabel was only mentioned once more in diary NLW18744B:

[Friday] 18 [March 1890]...Mrs Cooper Oakley to dinner.”

There’s no indication in diary NLW18744B as to where Albertina and Isabel Cooper Oakley met and who introduced them. I think of late 19th century Victorian society as a series of circles which overlapped at some venues or on some occasions, making it possible for people in the different circles to meet. Isabel and Laura’s father, Frederick Henry Cooper, had been an administrator in India, for the East India Company and then the Bengal Civil Service. Isabel and Laura were thus not landed gentry or aristocracy, as were most of the people inside Albertina’s circle and mentioned in diary NLW18744B. Despite that, Albertina did have acquaintances in common with them. Albertina’s overlapping circles, however, did not reach many of the people Isabel knew, especially those she knew through her business ventures.

I note that whereas Violet Chambers was already ‘Violet’ or even ‘VC’ in the diary, Albertina was never on other than quite formal terms with Mrs Cooper Oakley. Isabel Cooper Oakley was everything Albertina was not; and so far from thinking to make a friend of her, Albertina may have regarded her with some alarm. Here are some reasons why:

Isabel had been to university. Her education had been sufficient for her to study at Girton College Cambridge, in 1882 and 1883. While she was there, she got to know several undergraduates who were interested in theosophy; including Alfred John Oakley, G R S Mead (who married Laura) and Bertram Keightley. I haven’t been able to find out anything definite about Albertina’s education but all the indications are that it was as limited as that of any other girl in the upper classes: she had been trained for an expected life as the wife of another member of her social class. I think that at least in 1889, Isabel Cooper Oakley was the only woman Albertina had met who had had a university education.

Isabel was living apart from her husband. Actually, Albertina had been living apart from her husband for much of the last few years while Ivor was with the army in Africa and Russia; but they did expect to live together in between these foreign postings; they were a married couple. Isabel’s marriage, however, was over. She had married Alfred John Oakley in January 1884. Shortly afterwards, Alfred executed a deed poll adding Isabel’s surname to his own, and despite what happened later, both he and Isabel used both surnames ever after. They both went with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky when she returned to India at the end of 1884 after several months in Europe; intending to live at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society, at Adyar, near Madras (Chennai). However, in May 1885 Isabel returned to England, on her own. Though she and Alfred were never divorced, they didn’t lived together after the spring of 1885. Alfred stayed in India, and died there. Doubts about Blavatsky’s claims to unique occult knowledge and powers may have driven them apart: it seems that Isabel never had any doubts; but Alfred left theosophy after a few years and pursued his occult interests through freemasonry instead.

I don’t suppose Isabel was the only woman Albertina knew whose marriage had broken down. It was still rare, though, for a woman to live apart from her husband. The social and financial penalties for ending a marriage could be severe for women and it took a lot of courage to ask for a divorce. It’s possible that Isabel allowed a fiction about her marital status to exist, in which all assumed – and she didn’t deny - that she and her husband were like Albertina, separated by circumstance, intending to live together again in due course; but I get the impression that she was too honest to take that road.

After the failure of her marriage Isabel was in need of an income. It’s likely that Albertina knew of Isabel by repute for several years before she met her, because Isabel chose to set up in business as Maison Isabel, selling hats to her own designs, and later clothes from Paris, going over to Paris to choose her suppliers herself. A woman who’d been at Girton, making hats and selling them in a shop – the newspapers loved it. Isabel’s shops, in Wigmore Street and then at 90 Bond Street, received lots of publicity, which Isabel encouraged by sending in adverts and snippets of news, and giving interviews. Articles about Isabel were syndicated and appeared in newspapers all over the UK and even as far away as Toronto. From 1885 she also featured regularly in Queen magazine, which catered for women of Albertina’s class, Isabel’s intended customers; and in the Women’s Penny Paper, aimed at women who could only aspire to shop in Mayfair but who might go looking in their local hat shop for a design similar to one of Isabel’s. In 1886 Isabel showed hats from her shop at the Colonial Exhibition and in 1888 she wrote an article and a short book on changing fashions in hats. Isabel was ‘known’; in a way that Albertina most definitely was not. Albertina may even have thought that there was something not right about a woman who was separated from her husband courting publicity so determinedly; in which case she was making no allowance for the connection between the publicity and Isabel’s income.

Perhaps Albertina met Madame Isabel (as the papers called her) in her shop in Bond Street. It would be neat; but I don’t think they met that way. The dresses sold by Maison Isabel, though having the cachet of being from Paris, were chosen with ‘rational dress’ in mind. Albertina was a keen follower of high fashion and I can’t see her in rational dress; at least not before 1896 when she had a costume of some kind made to go bicycling in.

Whether or not Albertina ever bought a hat or dress from Maison Isabel, she did sample Isabel’s other business venture: she ate out at least once at a Dorothy Restaurant. The Dorothy restaurants were a joint venture, with Isabel and Laura Cooper being joined as partners by James L A Hope and his wife Eliza. They had seen a gap in the eating-out market for a place where women could get a good meal for a fixed, reasonable fee, in central London. The first of the Dorothy’s opened in Mortimer Street in December 1888; another one on Oxford Street soon followed, again amidst lots of publicity; and by mid-1889, when Isabel came to dinner, the papers were reporting that the venture was paying its investors a dividend of 20%. In some ways the Dorothys rather missed the market they were aiming for – the working woman; instead they were popular with the ‘shopping’ woman, and for meetings and meetings-up of women in central London, when there were so few alternatives for women to the gentleman’s club.

In addition to being in business; something completely outside Albertina’s experience, Isabel was also politically involved with women’s rights on various levels. As early as 1885 she was active in the cause of women’s suffrage. By 1890 she was a member of the Women’s Franchise League, one of the women’s groups that used a Dorothy Restaurant for its meetings.

Entry in diary NLW18744B:

[Tuesday] 15 [July 1890]. Mars...Henrietta – to Westminster Town Hall woman’s suffrage meeting…”

Albertina knew several women called Henrietta but this one is probably her half-sister Etta Grey Egerton.

NLW18744B is not a diary in which the writer notes down her thoughts on the issues of her time; but this entry from 1890 is the only reference to women’s suffrage in the diary covering 1889 to 1895, and I think that tells its own tale. Either Albertina wasn’t interested in being able to vote on the same terms as men, and the meeting didn’t make her change her mind; or she was actively against women getting the vote – there were campaigns against women’s suffrage in which women played a leading role, though as far as I’m aware, Albertina wasn’t prominent in any of them.

Isabel’s decision to sell rational dress items in her shop brought her into contact with members of the aesthetic movement - she knew Oscar and Constance Wilde, for example; Lady Harberton; and the author Henrietta Stannard. No one whose name I know from the aesthetic movement (several of whom joined the GD) appears in Albertina’s diary; though Constance Wilde was initiated in November 1888 and Albertina might have met her at its meetings – the GD being one of those venues where circles overlapped. Also in the aesthetic movement were several women Isabel knew and Albertina will have known of, who had fled or been expelled from the circles of the upper classes - like Gertrude, Lady Colin Campbell, who attended the opening of one of the Dorothy restaurants; and Lady Dorothy Nevill who soon ate at one.

Isabel’s daily experiences as a shop-owner in women’s fashion caused her to try to do something about women’s work – the low pay; the lack of skills; the difficulties women of higher social class but no education or training faced when they needed or wanted to work. So she got to know business-women like Henrietta Muller, owner of the Women’s Penny Paper; and campaigners like Clementina Black.

Through the Women’s Franchise League Isabel knew Emmeline Pankhurst and probably Emmeline’s husband Richard as well – it was their idea to set up the League.

None of the women I’ve named as within Isabel’s social circle appear in Albertina’s diary. Albertina may not have wanted to know them - they represented challenges to the thinking with which she had been brought up.

Albertina’s acquaintance with Isabel Cooper Oakley didn’t come to much in 1889; though it was renewed in some form in the late 1890s. In 1889 Isabel was very busy but even if she hadn’t been, the two women had theosophy in common but not much else. Despite that, it’s likely Albertina heard Isabel speak of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky as the great seer of her age; and that was why, when she wanted support in a crisis in April 1890, only Blavatsky would do.


In getting drawn in to occultist circles in London, Albertina was striking out on her own. Members of Albertina’s family, especially her brothers and younger sister, appear constantly in diary NLW18744B – calling on Albertina or being called on by her; eating meals with her; in her sister’s case, making social calls - but none of them go with her on any of her expeditions into the occult; and none of them joined the GD. However, there was one person in Albertina’s sprawling family of siblings and half-siblings who had at least a tepid interest in the occult: her half-brother Lord Londesborough.

Lord Londesborough

Albertina’s half-brother William Henry Forester Denison was the eldest son of their father’s first marriage; Albertina was the youngest daughter of their father’s second marriage. William was 20 years Albertina’s senior: born in 1834 to her 1854. William succeeded their father as the second Baron Londesborough in 1860; and was created first Earl of Londesborough in 1887. He married Edith Somerset, a daughter of the 7th Duke of Beaufort, in 1863; their daughter Lady Ida was mother of ‘the’ Sitwells.

William and Albertina’s father, Albert Londesborough, had been a freemason and William followed him into freemasonry, starting in 1860 and joining over the next decades a large number of craft lodges. Most of the lodges were in Yorkshire, where his estates were. He joined more lodges than he could possibly have given good time to; it’s likely that he saw membership of them as a way to ensure his and the family’s influence in Yorkshire. However, he also became a senior member of the Knights Templar, which did not hold many meetings outside London. He served as the Templars’ Grand Seneschal in 1863 and 1864 – that was a London-based post – and as Provincial Grand Commissioner for North and East England from 1864 to 1888.

Though I’m sure he enjoyed the pageantry, I haven’t found any evidence that Lord Londesborough had any interest in the symbolic and mythological side of freemasonry.

It doesn’t look, from Albertina’s diary NLW18744B, as though she had much to do with the Londesboroughs in 1889 and 1890. They lived in Grosvenor Square on an almost royal scale, with 22 indoor servants on the day of the 1881 census, not counting those who worked with their horses, who lived in a separate household. I daresay Albertina was aware that William was a freemason. I’m sure he didn’t know she’d joined the GD. It’s a pity, though, that they were each barred from discussing the rituals they knew with an outsider – they might have realised that they had something in common.




There’s curiously little about Fowler online. No wikipedia page came up for her and she was only mentioned at few occult websites which mostly focused on her rather tragic end, in an asylum back in the USA.

She has a short entry in The Spirit Book by Raymond Buckland. Full title: The Encyclopedia of Clairvoyance, Channelling and Spirit Communications. Published Visible Ink Press 2005: p148. Buckland found information on her in two near-contemporary books: Arthur Conan Doyle’s History of Spiritualism and Frank Podmore’s Modern Spiritualism published 1902.

Coverage of her from 1870s and 1880s:

The Spiritual Magazine edited by Elizabeth Wilkinson’s husband William Martin Wilkinson: volume 7 1872 p518.

English Mechanic and World of Science 27 March 1874 p41.

Big advert in The Medium and Daybreak 7 April 1876 p220 for an exhibition of spirit photographs taking place at Cambridge Hall Oxford Street. A list of the exhibits includes two photographs in which Lottie Fowler appears with a “spirit form” and “spirit hands”. Perhaps Albertina went to this exhibition.

Psychological Review volume 3 1881 p102.

Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 1 1881 p321 issue of Sat 8 October 1881.

Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 2 1882 p46 issue of Sat 28 Jan 1882. On p95 issue of 25 February 1882 a report on a conversazione held by the British National Association of Spiritualists has Lottie Fowler as a guest. On p253 issue of 27 May 1882 has Lottie conducting weekly séances especially for BNAS members; every Friday evening at its headquarters off Russell Square. She was well in with the leaders of London spiritualism. By now she had her regular advert in the magazine’s small ads section; eg 27 May 1882 pi of that issue. Though she changed address regularly, at this stage in her career she was operating in Bloomsbury.

1889 – the first year of Albertina’s diary NLW18744B:

Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 9 1889 pi of issue of Sat 5 Jan 1889 Lottie’s advert small ads; and so on with changes of address, for most of the rest of the year.

The householder at 62 Chester Terrace Eaton Square: Kelly’s PO Directory of London 1889 street directory p249.

Journal of Society for Psychical Research issue of January 1891 pp5-6 reprints a letter written to the Society by C C [Charles Carleton] Massey on 18 January 1890 in which he refers to events in 1883. Massey had gone to a session with Lottie Fowler taking a glove owned by a friend of his who had recently died. He intended to tell Lottie nothing about the man, and see what she could tell him about his friend. Her responses had convinced Massey that her powers were genuine.

There’s a whole chapter on Lottie Fowler in Florence Marryat’s There is No Death. NewYork: National Book Co c 1891. On p227 Florence had had a session with Lottie in 1874 in which Lottie predicted that Florence would marry again. Lottie’s control was called Annie; supposedly a German when living, Annie spoke very broken English.

Albertina’s contact with Lottie Fowler; Edith Wood

Nicholas Wood’s wikipedia page.

The Jervis family: wikipedia on Darlaston (or Dorleston) Hall near Stone in Staffordshire.

Burke’s Landed Gentry 1906 p870 entry for John Swynfen St Vincent Jervis.

Probate Registry 1890 death of John Swynfen St Vincent Jervis of Chatcull, parish of Eccleshall.

The Upper Ten Thousand 1878 p310 entry for Edith’s brother, St Vincent Walter Fane Jervis.

Bibiotheca Staffordiensis 1894 p249 St Vincent Walter Fane Jervis.

1891 census.

Probate Registry 1893 death of Nicholas Wood who left personal estate alone of £296925/4/3.

Probate Registry 1936 death of Edith Florence Wood of 47 Earl’s Avenue Folkestone


Standard Guide to Non-Poisonous Herbal Medicine edited and compiled by William Henry Webb. Printed by him at his works at Tulketh St Southport 1916. Profile of David Younger pp257-258.

Wikipedia on Jules Denis, Baron du Potet (or Dupotet) de Sennevoy (1796-1881) who was in practice in London as a mesmerist from 1837 to 1845. He believed the dead could be contacted by people in a mesmeric trance. His Study of Animal Magnetism was published in London by Saunders and Otley in 1838.

Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research volume 9 1889. Issue of 5 January 1889 to late October 1889 at 22 Ledbury Road Bayswater. Then there are none until the end of year, presumably while he was in the process of moving.

Younger’s own publications have all the signs of having been small print runs, at least in their first edition, and privately printed. The British Library doesn’t have first editions of any of them though the Wellcome Collection has the ‘family physician’ volume.

Full Concise Instructions in Mesmerism London: E W Allen 1887. 3rd edition 1890.

Mesmerism, Curative Magnetism and Massage E W Allen as 2nd edition 1898; it may be the above with a slightly rearranged title for a new issue. Seen at abebooks August 2022 £145 for a used copy. At a copy from a 3rd edition had been for sale. The description of it sounded like the 1887 title reissued.

The biggest work of the 3:

The Magnetic and Botanic Family Physician, and Domestic Practice of Natural Medicine… by D Younger. Published London: E W Allen 1887. For Younger in practise as a herbalist by the late 1840s: his own Preface, p7.

Issues of Light of Day the Official Organ of the Metropolitan Medico-Botanic College. Volume 1 number 1 July 1891. Mention of Herbert Coryn volume 1 number 6 May 1892 front p; and profile of Younger pp83-86. The British Library only has the one volume of Light of Day and several historians of herbalism have not been successful in finding any later evidence for its existence after that. The last two issues of Light of Day show signs that funding for the College was proving hard to come by.

FORTUNE TELLERS – palmist. Assuming her to be Mrs van Rensselaer, apparently pronounced rens-a-lay-er (four syllables).

Anna van Rensselaer’s husband:

Wikipedia on the very socially and financially prominent van Rensselaer family of New York City and New York state.

Google’s searches came up with many online references to archives of the van Rensselaer family going back to the mid-17th century in what became New York.

At The van Rensselaer Family by Walker Whipple Spooner 1900. On p141 a short entry for Anna’s husband: Philip Livingston van Rensselaer 1839-1873.

Anna’s own family the Whitmores of Boston:

At, Record of the Descendants of Francis Whitmore of Cambridge Massachusetts

by Anna’s brother, William Henry Whitmore. Published 1855. Particularly p18.

Some useful Whitmore family history as part of a legal case: at // a long account of Turnbull v Whitmore in which Anna is the ‘whitmore’. Case heard 1914.

At, the Medford Historical Society Papers volume 2 1899 an article by George A Gordon on William Henry Whitmore who was a founder member of the Society.


Complete Letters of Henry James volume 1 1876-78 editors Pierre A Walker and Greg W Zacharias. And volume 2 1884-86 editors Michael Anesko and Greg W Zacharias. Volume 2 note 192.15: Henry called her the Rensaellina.

Anna’s afternoon teas remembered: Blackfriars volume 9 1928 p539 and this was a snippet so I couldn’t see who was reminiscing.

Census information: 1891 at 20 St James’s Place Westminster; 1901 at 28 Hill Street Mayfair, which was a boarding house so I think Anna was not intending to stay long. I could not identify Anna on the censuses of 1881 or 1911.

Kelly’s PO Directory of London 1889 Court Directory p2433.

Kelly’s PO Dir of London 1897 Court directory p2648 Mrs Van Rensselaer still at 20 St James’s Place.

Probate Registry 1919 re death of Anna Whitmore van Rensselaer on 1 December 1918; address by then - 3 Queen’s Elm Square Chelea.

The GD’s Samuel Mathers as a palm-reader: Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 in 2 volumes, annotated and edited by Stanley Weintraub. University Park Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press 1986: p303 entry for 4 October 1887.

FORTUNE TELLERS – Elizabeth Wilkinson

Theodosia Selina Pepys, Countess of Cottenham.

Wikipedia on the earls of Cottenham. Wikipedia on the Dallas baronets.

The web pages at can often be really difficult to follow but the Pepys’ pages are easier than most. It gives Theodosia Selina Cottenham’s dates as 1844-1919.

A memoir of William Martin Wilkinson’s older brother Dr James John Garth Wilkinson hardly mentions William Martin but does have some family background: James John Garth Wilkinson: A Memoir of His Life with a Selection from his Letters compiled by Garth’s son Clement John Wilkinson. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co Ltd of 43 Gerrard St 1911. Chapter 1; p22 on the family as followers of Swedenborg; p102, family friendships with Thomas Lake Harris and Laurence Oliphant. There’s no mention in the book of Elizabeth Wilkinson.

A research paper on William Martin Wilkinson again does not mention Elizabeth: she seems to be all but invisible; like the stereotypical 19th century ‘angel of the house’. Kingston Univeristy Working Paper. William Martin Wilkinson 1814-97: Swedenborgian, Spiritualist and Charity Campaigner: p3 William Dunglas Home and Wilkinson having high society connections. The research paper said that William Martin Wilkinson married Elizabeth Pratt in 1844; I couldn’t find a record of that at freebmd. William Martin Wilkinson died in 1897 and – still rare at that time – chose to be cremated. There were obituaries in the Manchester Guardian 23 June 1897; Times 22 June 1897; the Daily News 15 June 1897 which described him as “well-known solicitor in the West-end”.

William Martin Wilkinson as a solicitor: The Legal Observer… 1849 p151.

Kelly’s PO Directory of London 1890 Law directory p2228 has Wilkinson and Son at 44 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. William Martin Wilkinson and William John Wilkinson “parliamentary agents”. In the street directory p456 entry for 44 Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

On Elizabeth Wilkinson as an artist-medium:

Spirit Drawings: A Personal Narrative by her husband William Martin Wilkinson; Chapman and Hall 1858.

Modern Spiritualism: A History and a Criticism by Frank Podmore. The section on Mrs Wilkinson is based on Wilkinson’s Spirit Drawings…Volume 2 p39 for the quote from the book describing his wife’s drawings.

Via to Florence Marryat’s There is No Death. New York: National Book Company published ?1891: p99 for Mrs Wilkinson.

Spiritual Séance volume 1 1881 p14 in the serialisation of Georgina Houghton’s memoir Evenings at Home. Houghton made the point that Wilkinson believed her drawings were a means by which her dead son was communicating with her: “beautiful drawings, executed through her hand by her son in spirit life, a lad of about thirteen”.

Violet Chambers and Elizabeth Wilkinson:

Albertina’s friend Violet Chambers was the daughter of Robert Chambers, owner and editor of Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal. Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal volume 8 1857 number 2 p477 Across the Walnuts and the Wine has a reference to Houghton’s drawings being inspired by Mrs Wilkinson’s work. Violet hadn’t even been born yet (DOB 17 March 1861) but if she was in the habit of reading back issues of the journal she could have come across it. In addition, her father was one of those people who know everyone. When Mrs Wilkinson called on Violet on 1 January 1890 they had probably been acquainted for years.

Introduction to Modern Spiritualism by Rev Ronald Koch. Church of Spiritual Illumination 2006.

Spiritual Phenomena 2 Lesson 9 p19 Koch notes that once a medium had developed a particular talent they were often unable to do other kinds of mediumship. Koch cites Mrs Wilkinson as an example of this difficulty: she was able to “draw and paint automatically, she could play the piano in trance, but she could not produce automatic scripts”.

However, some of the other few contemporary sources for her say that Mrs Wilkinson could also do automatic writing.

The Wilkinson family: freebmd. Censuses 1851-81 with them living at New West End Hampstead. Census 1891 with William Martin and Elizabeth having retired to Anglesey.

Their son Hugh as a barrister:

Foster’s...List of Men at the Bar Joseph Foster 1885 p506.

After a lifetime in the law, William Martin Wilkinson doesn’t leave a Will: probate registry 1901.

William John Wilkinson moves to Dublin; at there’s a Private William Martin Wilkinson killed in action 1918. Son of William John Wilkinson of 39 Clanbrassil Street Dublin, and the late Mary Wilkinson.

Probate Registry 1906 death of Elizabeth Wilkinson, widow, of 10 Lower Mount Street Dublin.

THEOSOPHISTS and very different lives. Isabel and Laura Mary Cooper

Their father Frederick Henry Cooper:

At listing for Rev Allen Cooper.

See his wikipedia entry for Frederick (though I’ve also seen Frederic several times) Henry Cooper 1827-69.

Seaches with google came back with quite a lot of information on his ordering of a massacre of mutineers in 1857; largely (of course) from Indian sources including an article from 2014 in the Times of India reporting that archaeologists had found at least 100 bodies at the scene of what is now known as the Ajnala Massacre.

India Register 1853 p15. 1854 p16. 1857 p12. 1858 2nd edition p11. 1860 p11. 1862 p6. 1864 p4. 1866 January issue p4. 1868 p4. 1869 January issue p4, p16. 1869 July issue: there’s no listing for him.

Burial record seen at Familysearch: 28 April 1869. Obituaries in Salisbury and Winchester Journal 1 May 1869; and Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 22 April 1869.

Probate Registry entry for him from 1904; Laura Mary Mead (née Cooper) is the executor.

Familysearch’s India Births and Baptisms 1786-1947: Mary Steele (sic).

At Mary Steel (sic) parents are given as Col James and Adelaide Charlotte Christina née Tremamondo.

Familysearch India Marriages 1792-1948: Frederic (sic) Henry Cooper to Mary Steel (sic), Mussoorie Bengal 4 October 1851.

All sources seem to indicate Frederick and Mary had only the two children.

Familysearch India Births and Baptisms 1786-1947: Harriet Isabella Cooper born Ambala Punjab 31 January 1854. Parents: Frederic (sic) Henry Cooper and wife Mary.

Familysearch India Births and Baptisms 1786-1947: Laura Mary Cooper born 14 October 1855 Amritsar. Parents: Frederic (sic) Henry Cooper and wife Mary.

Census: 1861; 1871 at 12 Powys Square Brighton. I couldn’t identify Mary, Isabel or Laura for certain on 1881 or 1891.

Girton College Register 1869-1946 p20 Cooper, Harriet Isabella. Some sources say Laura also went to Girton but she’s not on the Register.

Isabel’s Marriage:

London Evening Standard Mon 7 Jan 1884 p1 and St James’s Gazette Mon 7 January 1884 p15.

Change of name by deed poll to Cooper-Oakley advertised in Times 12 January 1884 p1. Note that the change only officially applies to Alfred; not to Isabel. The couple would be living at Oaklands, West Enfield.


Old Diary Leaves by Colonel Henry Olcott. The volume covering 1883-87 is the most useful. Published London: The Theosophical Society Publishing Society. Published Madras (Chennai): Offices of The Theosophist. Both 1904. Section on the trip to Europe 1884 pp74 et seq with Blavatsky arriving back in Madras pp186-87. First mention of Isabel and Alfred Cooper Oakley p183 as travelling to India with Blavatsky. Blavatsky was seriously ill in February 1885 and was advised to recuperate in Europe; a recuperation that turned into permanent residence. On p222 her departure from India at the end of March 1885. On p235 Olcott mentions that Isabel had returned to England.

Pall Mall Gazette Sat 24 January 1885 p10 reporting on the arrival of Blavatsky, Isabel and Charles Webster Leadbeater at Madras (Chennai) from London.

Homeward Mail… Tues 26 May 1885 p19 Mrs Cooper Oakley on the list of passengers leaving Madras (Chennai) for Colombo, then London, on the Navarino; departed 4 May 1885. Alfred Cooper Oakley is not on the list of passengers.

Isabel made at least one more trip to Madras: Homeward Mail… Mon 9 January 1888 p28 Mrs Cooper Oakley on the passenger list of the Nizam, travelling India to England via Venice and Brindisi; departed 23 December [1887].

Isabel in business, late 1880s:

// using contemporary newspapers.

News of her reaches Canada: Toronto Daily Mail Sat 29 June 1889 p5.

The hat and dress shop:

Belfast News-Letter Wed 28 October 1885 p7 in its Metropolitan Gossip column.

Ulster Echo Wed 9 December 1885 p4.

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser Mon 17 May 1886 p1.

The Queen Sat 19 May 1888 p74 and many other editions that year: advert for Maison Isabel “Modes” of 90 New Bond St. Also issues of Sat 10 May 1890 p51; Sat 15 March 1890 p55 The New Millinery; Sat 18 April 1891 p57.

Truth volume 24 issue of 4 October 1888 p619 advert for “Maison Isabel” announcing the opening of a dress department.

Eastern Daily Press Sat 18 May 1889 p5.

Truth Thur 30 October 1890 p35 short advert from Mrs Cooper Oakley of 90 New Bond St: clothes from Paris designers such as Félix, Pasquier, Virot and Reboux.

Isabel had started a small trend: The Tablet Sat 25 May 1889 p8 article reporting on a number of aristocratic women who were in business as hatmakers.

Being promoted by the Women’s Penny Paper: quote from it in Good Housekeeping volume 10 1890 p256 article: How I Cheated the Tyrant.

She also got coverage in Theosophical Siftings volume 2 1890 pp19-29 report on those fashion businesses who paid a decent wage; with a list of them compiled by Clementina Black. The list included “Mdme Isabel”. Theosophical Siftings was edited by Herbert A W Coryn, another of Blavatsky’s inner circle.

Association of Lady Dressmakers:

Edinburgh Evening News Thurs 24 June 1886 p4; and similar reports in a lot of other local newspapers.

Kelly’s PO London Directory 1891 Trades directory sub-section Dressmakers: p1715 Ladies’ Dressmaking Association at 4 Camden Road.

Isabel’s publications on hats:

Leicestershire Daily Post Sat 8 September 1888 p3 report on Isabel’s article in Oscar Wilde’s Woman’s World.

Royal Cornwall Gazette Thur 13 September 1888 p6 in list of recent publications from Cassell and Co: Isabel’s History of the Bonnets of Queen Victoria’s Reign. The book was also mentioned in the Morning Post 1 September 1888 p2 and reviewed in The Graphic Sat 1 September 1888 p17.

By 1890 Isabel’s hat and dress shop was sharing 90 New Bond Street with another business run by women for women: A Thirst for Empire by Erika Rappaport. 2019. Chapter 5 p168 tsection on the Ladies’ Own Tea Association.

Isabel had also got a partner in the business; or perhaps she had always had one, who was now happy to be named: Kelly’s PO London Directory 1890 p507 street directory 90 New Bond Street: Mrs Cooper Oakley court milliner; and Lady Mackenzie and Mrs Cooper Oakley court dressmakers. Also trades directory sub-section dressmakers p1691.

I think ‘lady Mackenzie’ may be Lady Muir Mackenzie. In the Court Directory p2361 she lived at 8 West Eaton Place.

Kelly’s PO London Directory 1891 street directory p515 New Bond St; and in the Trades directory sub-section Milliners p1905: Mrs Cooper Oakley at 90 New Bond Street; no mention of a Lady Mackenzie.

A rational dress fashion show:

Shields Daily News Sat 18 April 1891 p4 quoting the “lady correspondent” of the Leeds Mercury, reporting on a two-day fashion show at Kensington Town Hall. Isabel showed two dresses.

Hampshire Independent Sat 18 April 1891 p5 one of the dresses Isabel showed had been designed by Mrs Charles Hancock. Isabel had designed the other herself. It was worn by a Miss Amys: an “accordion-pleated skirt to the feet, which no one wld have supposed to have been divided, but which was divided”. Constance Wilde was also there modelling a dress.

After 1891 Isabel hat and dress shop fell out of the news. Several years after it opened perhaps it was no longer newsworthy. But 1891 was the year Blavatsky died and most newspaper coverage featuring Isabel was about her involvement with theosophy. I didn’t see any evidence that Laura Mary Cooper was involved in the hat and dress business.

The kind of people in Isabel’s circle: Wharfedale and Airedale Observer Fri 29 June 1888 p6 report on the garden party given by Mrs Stannard, author of Bootle’s Baby, at her home, The Cedars Putney Bridge. Isabel “the lady milliner of Bond Street” was one of the guests, “very elegant in a black Directoire coat with wide revers (sic) of tiny black and white check”. Isabel was described as “the lady milliner of Bond St”.

Mrs Stannard: Henrietta Eliza Vaughan, wife of Arthur Stannard, who wrote under the pen-name John Strange Winter. Bootle’s Baby: A Story of the Scarlet Lancers in its 5th edition by 1891. Published Frederick Warne and Co.

Constance Wilde’s GD initiation: R A Gilbert The Golden Dawn Companion p142.

The Dorothy Restaurants:

Shopping for Pleasure: Women in the Making of London’s West End by Erika Diane Rappaport. Princeton University Press 2001. On p256 notes to Chapter 3 footnote 146: the Dorothy restaurant in Mortimer Street opened 24 November 1888. There was an illustrated article on it in The Lady 3 January 1889: 4-5.

Constance: the Tragic and Scandal Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde by Franny Moyle. London: John Murray 2011. This was a google snippet so I couldn’t see the page number. The second Dorothy opened at 448 Oxford Street on Fri 21 June 1889 at 448 Oxford St. They were women-only restaurants, but for the opening Oscar Wilde was allowed to accompany Constance.

Kelly’s PO London Directory 1890 Trade directory sub-section restaurants etc. Dorothy Restaurants p1794 81 Mortimer St with Miss Maria Bell as manageress. And as a restaurant plus the offices of the Dorothy Restaurant Co Ltd at 448 Oxford St.

Pall Mall Gazette Mon 10 December 1888 p14 on the partners in the firm.

Sheffield Evening Telegraph Fri 14 December 1888 p4.

Eastern Daily Press Sat 18 May 1889 p5.

Blackburn Standard Sat 20 July 1889 p3 report on the Dorothys’ financial success.

Morning Post Wed 17 September 1890 p2 list of Partnerships Dissolved. Announcement that the Hopes were leaving the partnership. Isabel and Laura would continue in business.

Women’s Suffrage:

Pall Mall Gazette Sat 24 January 1885 p10 reporting that Isabel Cooper Oakley had “made herself conspicuous” in the cause of votes for women. I’m not sure what was meant by that rather hostile reference; and actually Isabel was in India at the time.

Women’s Franchise League: wikipedia page.

At // a copy of the pamphlet issued after the WFL’s Inaugural Meeting 25 July 1889 at 7 Albert Road NW. Isabel was not a Council member or an executive committee member, at least not at that stage.

The Queen Sat 17 May 1890 p45 Women’s Franchise League. Its meeting of 12 May 1890 had been held in the Dorothy restaurant on Mortimer Street.

Shoreditch Observer Sat 27 September 1890 p3 Isabel speaking on behalf of the Women’s Franchise League at the Borough of Shoreditch Liberal and Radical Club. Emmeline Pankhurst had gone to the meeting with her.

Where Isabel was living in 1889 and 1890:

Kelly’s PO London Directory 1890 Court Directory p2280 Mrs Cooper Oakley at 38 Margaret St. Street directory p480 it runs between Cavendish Square and Regent Street. At 37 and 38, Holmes and Co, coachmakers. Above them at 38: Henry Percival Mackrell; Mrs Cooper-Oakley; and Charles William Moore.

Kelly’s PO London Directory 1891 Court directory p2318 showed her at the same address though she’d moved out a few months before:

Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Theosophical Publishing Co; editors Blavatsky and Besant. Volume VI March-August 1890. Issue 15 June 1890 p342; and issue 15 July 1890 p431 for the day of the official launch of the new building, 3 July 1890.

Glasgow Herald Mon 1 September 1890 p7 listed those who were living in the Theosophical Society headquarters building at 19 Avenue Road: Blavatsky; Annie Besant and her daughter; and Isabel.

Isabel’s sister Laura Mary Cooper:

Familysearch India Births and Baptisms 1786-1947: Laura Cooper born 14 October 1855 Amritsar. Parents Frederick (sic) Henry Cooper and wife Mary.

Pall Mall Gazette Sat 24 January1885 p10 reporting that both Isabel and Laura had been at Girton College.

See section on Dorothy Restaurants.

Women’s Franchise League:

The Queen Sat 17 May 1890 p45 Women’s Franchise League. Laura had chaired the WFL’s meeting at the Dorothy restaurant Mortimer Street on 12 May 1890. The chief guest was Mrs Stanton Blatch on a visit from US. Also present: Mr and Mrs Wolstenholme Elmy; Dr Kate Mitchell; Mrs Cady Stanton.

Laura didn’t join the GD; but she was a co-mason:

July 2022 while googling Laura, came across 2 ?tweets from a Paulina Gruffman doing a biography of GRS Mead as a Phd at the University of Lund. Evidence of Laura as a co-mason including the lodges she was a member of.

She married the TS’s G R S Mead:

Seen at freebmd: marriage of Laura Mary Cooper to George Robert Stow Mead registered Marylebone July-September quarter 1899.

1911 census at 16 Selwood Place South Kensington.

Probate Registry 1924 re death of Laura Mary wife of G R S Mead; of 16 Selwood Place Kensington. Died 4 October 1924.

Isabel’s husband Arthur John Oakley, later Cooper Oakley.

Detailed family history article at this blog: posted April 2009. Arthur’s father, John Jeffryes Oakley was a partner in Fortnum and Mason; and during Arthur’s childhood they lived above the shop at 183 Piccadilly. Alfred was at Pembroke College Cambridge 1880-83.

Albertina and Ivor Herbert in the Theosophical Society:

Theosophical Society Membership Register January 1889-September 1891 p42.

AN OCCULTIST (of sorts) IN THE FAMILY - Lord Londesborough and freemasonry

Membership records of the United Grand Lodge of England; now available at Ancestry.

Listed in the Freemasons’ Library catalogue as Calendars and Reports: Calendar of the Great Priory (that is, the Knights Templar); which changes its name to something in Latin in 1896. Published for the members, it contains each year’s report including lists of senior officers, details of preceptories (the equivalent to a Craft lodge) and coverage of the annual meeting which took place at that time at the City Terminus Hotel Cannon Street.

Report for 1883 p3: national office holders.

Report for 1888 p17: list of senior officers to date.



13 November 2022

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