Gabrielle Margaret Ariana Borthwick was initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London, in July 1891.  She chose the Latin motto ‘Sine metu’.  Although she worked only slowly at the required reading (for reasons I’ll guess at below) she eventually passed the exams was initiated into the GD’s inner order, the 2nd Order, on 8 July 1897.  As a member of the 2nd Order she will have been able to begin doing practical magic; but she wasn’t able to be as active as she might have liked as she lived abroad for most of the year at this time.



I’ve recently read two memoirs by members of the Theosophical Society in England in the early 1880s: Alfred Percy Sinnett, and George Wyld.  They both mention Gabrielle’s family. 



My biographies tend to run out of steam in the 1920s!  There’s a lack of sources for GD members who lived longer than that.  So it was great, in November, to be contacted by Nina Baker with news of Gabrielle’s doings in the 1920s and 1930s.  Many thanks to Nina for alerting me, and for emailing me copies of documents that she was using for her own research.  Inspired by her enthusiasm, I also found some newly available information on my own account. 


Dr Nina Baker researches the history of engineering.  She also works as a voluntary historian for the Women’s Engineering Society: see their blog at






The Borthwick family were Scottish.  At  // you can read more about the clan they belonged to.  Gabrielle was the eldest child of Cunninghame Borthwick, who was either the 16th or the 19th Baron Borthwick, depending on how you count it. 


I shall go into this business of how you count the barons Borthwick as I think it really mattered to Gabrielle’s father in a way that is difficult to appreciate from the 21st century.  The barony of Borthwick had lain dormant since the death of a Baron Borthwick in 1772 without any obvious heirs. Cunninghame Borthwick’s father, Patrick Borthwick, had claimed the dormant peerage in 1816.  Cunninghame’s elder brother Archibald took up the claim when Patrick died; and when Archibald died in his turn in 1867, the baton passed to Cunninghame as Patrick’s younger son.  Cunninghame went into the matter with a great deal more energy and determination than either his father or his brother: he spent a great deal of time and money petitioning the House of Lords to agree that he was the true baron, against the claims being made by two other members of the clan.  After four years of effort by Cunninghame, the House of Lords’ Privileges Committee finally agreed with him, and he was declared the 16th Baron Borthwick on 5 May 1870.


Barons occupied the bottom rung of the peerage: viscounts, earls, marquises and dukes all out-ranked them.  But in an era in which precedence and deference still really counted, some men were prepared to move heaven and earth even to be a baron.  Cunninghame Borthwick really did want to be a baron.  He wanted to claim what his branch of the family thought was their rightful place in the social hierarchy; and to have all the privileges that went with it.  By the mid-19th-century the Borthwick barony lacked one of the most important defining characteristics of a peerage: it no longer had a landed estate.  No matter: Cunninghame bought one in 1870.  It was on the Machars peninsula in what was then the county of Wigtownshire (it’s now in Dumfries and Galloway).  The land came complete with a castle, Ravenstone Castle, some parts of which dated back to the 15th-century.  The Borthwick barony was a Scottish one, and not all Scottish peers had a right to sit in the House of Lords.  No problem for a man who was patient: for 10 years after becoming the 16th Baron, Cunninghame worked for the Conservative Party in Scotland and joined the right clubs in London to build up a circle of useful acquaintances, and in 1880 he was elected as what was called a ‘representative peer’ for Scotland, and took up one of their seats in the House of Lords.



What a fuss about a barony.  But as a historian I’m delighted with it: in order to make his claim to the barony stick, Cunninghame Borthwick was obliged to produce evidence the House of Lords’ Privileges Committee would believe, of births, marriages and deaths in his family.  The evidence he produced was that it showed that the family was known and respected in Scotland, and was well-off as well.  But the family money came from business - and in the endless hierarchy the mid-Victorians always carried in their minds, business always soiled your hands and mattered less than land, no matter how successful you were at it.


Patrick Borthwick was appointed the first manager of the National Bank of Scotland, when it was founded in Edinburgh, with a salary (enormous for those days) of £1000 per year.  He married Ariana Corbett, daughter of Cunninghame Corbett of Tolcross and Glasgow, in 1804.  I’ve seen two descriptions of what Ariana’s father did: one says he was a businessman based in Glasgow; the other says he was a landowner in Renfrewshire. Of course he could have been both. 


Patrick and Ariana’s second son Cunninghame was born in 1813.  By the mid-1830s he was working as an actuary in the family accountancy business in Edinburgh.  However, his father and his  younger brother died around 1840 and although the business in Edinburgh may have continued, at some point in the 1840s Cunninghame had cut loose from it.  He moved to London and become a partner in the stockbroking firm of Dowling and Borthwick of 75 Old Broad Street.  The partnership with Dionysius Wilfred Dowling (what a wonderful name!) was ended by mutual agreement in 1853, I think because Cunninghame had received a better offer.  For the next 20 or so years he was a partner - I think, the senior partner - in another stockbroking firm, Borthwick, Wark and Company of Bartholomew House, Bartholomew Lane (also in the City).  Cunninghame’s daily involvement with Borthwick, Wark and Company ceased in 1877 but the firm continued in business, keeping the full name, and after Cunninghame’s death his son Archibald joined it as a partner. 


I think it was as a partner in a City firm, rather than as a would-be Scottish peer, that

Cunninghame Borthwick married Harriet Alice Day in 1865.  If he was looking for a bride as the hopeful baron Borthwick, Harriet was rather a strange choice, in that she was not related to any peer’s family as far as I can discover, nor from a family of particularly great wealth, from any source.  Harriet - who was over 20 years Cunninghame’s junior - was the daughter of Thomas Hermitage Day, whose family ran a bank in Rochester Kent.  The bank doesn’t seem to have survived long after T H Day’s death in 1869. One of Harriet’s brothers became a clergyman, the other two joined the army - the kinds of career that bring a regular income and respectability as a professional, to men without a high-society or wealthy backgrounds.  Cunninghame was marrying a woman who was like what he was, not like what he wanted to be. 


From the point of view of the Day family, Harriet made a very good marriage: they probably didn’t rate her prospective husband’s chances of becoming a baron very highly, but they could appreciate the more tangible advantages he offered Harriet.  Between 1865 and 1880 the Borthwicks lived most of the year in various houses in fashionable and expensive Mayfair; and after 1870 there was the estate in Scotland where they could spend summers and Christmas.

In her biography of Alva and Consuelo Vanderbilt, Amanda Mackenzie Stuart credits Consuelo with inventing the neat summing-up of the duty of a peeress to her husband: the ‘heir and a spare’.  Consuelo was speaking in the 1890s but of course the understanding of what was required was centuries old.  Harriet Borthwick did part of what was expected, giving birth to a son in 1867 - I think it’s significant that Cunninghame’s efforts to get the barony resuscitated became more systematic from that year.  However, Harriet was not able to supply a spare as well.  Cunninghame and Harriet had five children, but the other four were daughters.  In one other respect, Harriet didn’t measure up to the job-description for the wife of a peer or other man who wished to be upwardly mobile: from my readings of the Court Circular pages in the Times I’ve come away with the impression that she didn’t work the social scene in the way you needed to, to get your husband noticed when jobs were being handed out - giving dinners and balls, holding house parties, attending royal events - meeting and cultivating the right people.  More or less the only times I found her in the Court Circular reports was when she went to Buckingham Palace (on four occasions over 10 years) to launch her daughters’ social careers by presenting them to royalty.  It was not, of course, a way of life Harriet had been bred to; but she didn’t do it.  From what I’ve read of her, I think she was just not very sociable.


Despite the fact that the Borthwicks were not really a part of the upper-class social whirl, they lived in opulent style.  I can’t find them anywhere in the UK on the 1871 census but on the day of the 1881 census they and their daughters were at their Mayfair house, where their household included a butler, footman, cook, a lady’s maid, the daughters’ governess, two housemaids, two nursemaids and a kitchen maid.  Although Cunninghame Borthwick seems to have drawn the line at having his own personal valet, the employment of two male servants indicates the amount he was prepared to spend on giving visitors a good impression, and on his family’s comfort - male servants came expensive.  In addition, he will also have employed a coachman and one groom, perhaps two, to drive at least one carriage and look after its horses; but they were living in a separate household, probably in the rooms over the stables round the back of the house.  Even as a widow, Harriet Borthwick was able to maintain a high standard of living; and she hadn’t had to move out of Mayfair to anywhere cheaper.  On the day of the 1891 census she was living at 14 Seymour Street, and could afford to employ a governess for her youngest daughter, a butler, footman, cook, two housemaids and a kitchen maid.  Almost certainly - although again the coachman and groom lived in a separate household - she will still have had one carriage. 



Gabrielle Margaret Ariana Borthwick was the eldest of the five children growing up in the Borthwicks’ lavishly-funded household.  She was born on 30 June 1866.  The heir Archibald was born in 1867; Alice in 1868; Violet in 1871; and Mary in 1876.  I haven’t found out much about Gabrielle’s childhood other than what I can deduce from her parents’ way of life.  She must have spent her first few years based in London, as her father was still working for the stockbroking partnership; though after 1870, the family had the estate at Ravenstone Castle to go to for summer, and Christmas, and of course they had relations living in Scotland.  From 1877, when Cunninghame left Borthwick, Wark and Co, to 1880 when he got his seat in the House of Lords, it’s possible that the family spent most of the year at Ravenstone.  Archibald was sent away to school; but Gabrielle and her sisters were educated by the governesses I saw on the 1881 and 1891 censuses.   A conscientious member of the House of Lords needed to be in London when Parliament was sitting, so from 1880 the Borthwicks’ yearly schedule changed again.  And as the 1880s advanced, the future began to loom large in the family’s planning - the need to set the heir up for his future career, and find the right kind of husband for the daughters.



In March 1884, Harriet Borthwick overcame her reluctance to socialise with her peers and went with her daughter to Buckingham Palace to introduce the Honourable Gabrielle Borthwick to the Princess of Wales (who was standing in, as she normally did these days, for Queen Victoria).  This bringing of your daughter to the attention of royalty was an important event in what was a longer round of social occasions covering (roughly) April to July each year and referred to as ‘the season’; occasions where social and political links were restated and reinforced; and daughters were introduced to a carefully-selected short-list of possible marriage partners.  If their daughter had the kind of looks, personality and financial backing, she might be lucky and find a husband even in Victorian England, where demand out-stripped supply.  Any one daughter only had a limited time in which to achieve this, especially in families where there were several daughters...


Gabrielle had been through two ‘seasons’ when, on the day before Christmas, 1885, Cunninghame Borthwick died.  It may have suited Harriet Borthwick’s un-sociable personality to have an excuse to observe the one-year-long period of mourning that was expected of the widow and children; but Gabrielle’s momentum as a young woman of marriageable age in British high society was slowed down and I get the impression that it never really speeded up again.  With three other daughters and the heir to establish, Harriet moved on: Alice had her first ‘season’ in 1888; Violet her’s in 1890 and Mary her’s in 1894.  Archibald was introduced to the Prince of Wales by the Earl of Orkney during a levee - the male equivalent of the women-only ‘drawing-room’- in 1889.


Harriet Borthwick married off three of her daughters, but she failed with Gabrielle.  That might have been intentional - some mothers hoped to have, or even schemed at getting, one daughter who remained unmarried to look after them when they were old.  However, Gabrielle and her mother have bit-parts to play in two sets of memoirs that suggest a variation on that story.


Both the memoirs are from Gabrielle’s time in the Golden Dawn and the years immediately after it; and concern a group of wealthy ex-pats who spent all or part of their year in Florence.  The memoir-writers are Walburga Paget, widow of the English diplomat Augustus Berkeley Paget; and Mabel Dodge Luhan, an American banker’s daughter.  And of course, in such a small social group, they knew each other.  I’ll start with Walburga Paget as she seems to have moved to Florence first, in about 1894 while her husband was still alive.  After his death she continued to spend the winters and springs at her house there - the Villa Bellosguardo - before going to England for the summer to spend time with family.


Walburga Paget must have been a very effective diplomat’s wife - even in her widowhood she entertained constantly, and she knew a great variety of people.  She even knew some Italians, which for ex-pat residents in Florence was very unusual.  Everybody from Cosima Wagner through Indian brahmins to Wilfred Scawen Blunt spent time as her guests in Florence.  She was interested in spiritualism and was also a member of the Theosophical Society.  It may have been through the TS in London that Walburga Paget got to know Gabrielle Borthwick - Walburga’s daughter was married to an Englishman and Walburga visited her very often during the London ‘season’.  By June 1900, Gabrielle and Walburga Paget were well enough acquainted for Walburga to write to a friend that, “Miss Bayly with red hair and Gabrielle Borthwick with black, both handsome, are staying with me”.  I couldn’t figure out from Walburga’s memoirs how long Gabrielle was her guest at Villa Bellosguardo, but a typical stay would have lasted weeks - after all, none of these ex-pats had a job to go to.  Harriet Borthwick had not been included in Walburga Paget’s invitation and I think that Gabrielle was able to accept it because her absence in Italy would not have been leaving Harriet alone: Violet was not married yet so she was still living with her mother that summer. 


Walburga Paget doesn’t mention having Gabrielle to stay again but will have seen each other regularly over the next few years.  In November 1900, Violet was the last of Harriet’s other daughters to get married.  With that marriage Harriet decided that her social duties were finally done, as far as they could be, and for the next few years she spent her winters in Florence.  It was Gabrielle’s duty, as her only unmarried daughter, to go with her.


Apart from confusing one year’s events with another’s, Walburga Paget strikes me as a fairly reliable memoir-writer.  I’m not so sure about Mabel Dodge Luhan, however: she exaggerates, and I feel she is a bit too anxious to portray her lifestyle as one of conscious and unashamed rule-breaking.  So I am not quite sure how much reliance to place on Mabel Dodge Luhan’s suggestion that she and Gabrielle Borthwick had a lesbian relationship; although an attraction to women rather than men could be one reason why Gabrielle didn’t marry.


Mabel Dodge Luhan arrived in Florence in 1905, moved into the Villa Curonia, and with Walburga Paget’s help quickly got herself established among the ex-pats.  Here’s how Mabel describes Gabrielle: “Plump and pretty, though her skin was so gray”.  It’s an odd way to describe a woman who had her 40th birthday in 1906, but in my reading around the period I’ve noticed a tendency for unmarried women to be seen as somehow not quite adult, however old they were.  But then Mabel says that Gabrielle, “used to sniff something from a little bottle, and then her child-like, deep-set gray eyes would lighten up a little.”  What would this curious substance have been? Smelling-salts?  If it was smelling-salts I don’t think Mabel would have mentioned them: too conventional!  If any reader can guess what was in the little bottle, do let me know.  And did Gabrielle first find out about this useful aid to cheering yourself up, from members of the Golden Dawn?


Mabel admits in her memoir that she was strongly attracted to Gabrielle from the start; and she means sexually.  Before long she was inviting Gabrielle to stay at her villa.  These visits seem to have taken place in a hot-house atmosphere of the sort that ends in tears.  Mabel likes to feel that everyone she meets is sexually attracted to her; but she describes her son’s nanny, Marguerite, as having feelings towards Mabel that were certainly possessive, if not sexual, and sufficiently out-of-control as to be obvious to others in the house.  She says that Gabrielle was one of several women-friends of Mabel’s who “made Marguerite suffer” over it, but goes further in Gabrielle’s case, describing how “her own [Gabrielle’s] muscles dimpled, reflecting the titillation of her being at someone else’s pain”.  That’s not the way to behave towards anyone, least of all a servant; Gabrielle and Mabel ought both to have been ashamed of themselves.  According to Mabel’s memoir, Gabrielle’s particular way of getting at Marguerite was to suggest to Mabel that they go and lie down together for a while.  Does this mean there was a lesbian relationship between Gabrielle and Mabel?  Maybe.  Or maybe not, but they both wanted Marguerite to think so, and be jealous and hurt. 


I wonder if it doesn’t just mean that these restricted societies full of people with nothing much to do, encourage everyone to act their worst.


Writing her memoir in the 1930s, Mabel hadn’t had second thoughts about Gabrielle’s sexuality - she still believed Gabrielle was a lesbian, and grouped her with women she knew in Florence whom Mabel thought of as never having any men in their lives, the group’s leader (if it had such a thing) being Violet Paget (not sure whether she’s a relation of Walburga), who dressed as a man and preferred to be known as Vernon Lee.  Marriage was not had not been a bar to being one of this group: Mabel includes in it Mary Berenson despite her being married to Bernard Berenson who in his turn seemed to hate all women.


As regards relations between Harriet Borthwick and Gabrielle, Mabel’s memoir does suggest that she was in Gabrielle’s confidence, or close enough to her to make a good guess about things not actually stated in so many words.  Mabel writes that, “The Honorable Gabrielle was in a hateful position of dependence upon her mother whom she disliked but lived with because they were so poor.”  I’m not sure I agree that Harriet Borthwick was poor; she was certainly managing well enough in 1891.  (Neither Harriet nor Gabrielle was on the census in the UK in 1901 or 1911; they were in Italy, I suppose.) It’s probably true, though, that Gabrielle was financially dependent on her mother at this stage in her life.  And I think Mabel got it right when she surmised that mother and daughter had very little in common.  But as the only remaining unmarried daughter, it was expected of Gabrielle that she would live with her ageing mother.


Cunninghame Borthwick had leisure interests which Harriet doesn’t seem to have shared but which he did share with some of his children.  None of them shared his curiosity about spiritualism, but Gabrielle, Archibald and Mary were all interested in that area where archaeology, antiquarianism and folk history all meet.  Archibald was a member of the Glasgow Archaeological Society; Mary’s first book was a selection of folk tales from Lancashire; and in the years before the first World War Gabrielle was a member of the Gypsy Lore Society. 


Gabrielle and her mother were the only members of the family who joined the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society.  They had joined it by August 1885, when the Sinnetts - Alfred Percy and Patience - came to stay with the Borthwicks at Ravenstone.  In his autobiography, Alfred noted that he found Gabrielle’s mother “not altogether an easy person to get on with” but Gabrielle became a close friend of both Sinnetts.  Gabrielle kept up her membership of London Lodge until Patience died, in November 1908.  When the time came for Patience’s friends to pay their subscriptions for 1909, Gabrielle and her mother were amongst several who decided they didn’t want to continue in the TS now she was gone; but Gabrielle was still in touch with Alfred Sinnett as late as 1912.  Another member of London Lodge in its early years (but not later) was George Wyld.  Gabrielle will have known him too, as a friend and business acquaintance of Cunninghame Borthwick. 


London Lodge held itself rather aloof from the TS in general, particularly after Alfred Sinnett and Blavatsky fell out, but the TS held other, regular meetings in London, with a programme of lectures by members and visitors, followed by time for discussion.  If you went to those meetings on a regular basis in the 1880s you will soon have met people who were later in the Golden Dawn - William Forsell Kirby for example, Isabel de Steiger, Lady Eleanor Harbord, Agnes de Pallandt (although these people were all much older than Gabrielle); and GD founder William Wynn Westcott.  The TS was a very fruitful source of GD members especially in the early 1890s.  As Gabrielle was thought interested enough in western occultism to be offered membership of the GD, she might also have gone to meetings of  the Hermetic Society, which started out within the TS but became a separate society in 1884; but that Society’s records are lost and I can’t be certain she knew of it.  If she did go to any Hermetic Society meetings she will have met another founder of the GD, Samuel Liddell Mathers.


During the 1890s Gabrielle kept up her theosophy-based friendship with the Sinnetts and also worked when she could at the reading and other study required of Golden Dawn members if they wanted to be initiated into its inner, second order and do some real magic.  Her progress was slow, though.  In 1896 Gabrielle reached her 30th birthday and passed through the barrier that separated the possibly-still-marriageable from the unlikely-ever-to-marry.  Given the lesbian feelings that Mabel Dodge Luhan was sure Gabrielle had, she may have seen reaching 30 as a release from a burden and a source of tension in the family; but she still would have had social duties to perform, as a member of the upper-classes, and it’s extraordinary how much time these took up: visits to well-known and influential hostesses in Florence, for example.  However, there was another reason why Gabrielle wasn’t willing to give the attention to the GD’s programme of learning that some more enthusiastic members did: Gabrielle had discovered the excitements to be had from another kind of alchemy - the internal combustion engine.


In 1915 the Times described Gabrielle as having many years’ experience as a car driver.  Although they were still very unreliable, the internal combustion engine was still being developed, and petrol had not yet won the battle to be the major source of fuel, cars were beginning to be everywhere in the 1890s.  A quick search of the web established that both Benz and Daimler were attempting to make cars in numbers rather than as one-offs by 1890; the first organised motor race was held in 1894 and the first grand prix in 1901 (both in France).  Bridget Driscoll became he first UK pedestrian to be killed by a car, in 1896; and in 1898 Henry Lindfield was the first UK car driver to be killed in a car crash.  The UK Association of Motor Manufacturers and Traders was founded in 1902 and held its first motor show in 1903.   


The Automobile Club of Great Britain (now the Royal Automobile Club) was founded in 1897.  Like most clubs, it had a ‘men only’ policy; but by 1903 the agitation from women drivers was so noisy that it authorised the setting up of a Ladies’ Automobile Club.  The early members of the LAC were all wealthy aristocrats - Consuelo Duchess of Marlborough was one of them.  Like the fledgling RAC, the LAC was as much a members’ club as a car club - membership was by election; though motoring was such an expensive hobby (both in money and time) that only the rich were able to indulge in it.  By August 1903 the LAC had rented rooms for club meetings and a garage, and in the summer of 1904 it organised its first trip out for its members - a drive beginning on Piccadilly and ending at Ranelagh, the sports club in Fulham, where all the participants had tea.  A few years later the LAC had 400 members.


I’m assuming that Gabrielle’s interest in cars dates from the 1890s but when I researched the founding of the LAC, I didn’t see her name mentioned in connection with it; I suppose being so often in Italy with her mother meant she couldn’t take a very active role.


The fact that the LAC so quickly organised access for its members to a garage reflected the hazards of early motoring: cars broke down so often!  Even a woman driver was going to need to know how to fix the engine; or at least what was wrong with it so she could direct someone else while they attempted repairs.  By 1906 the LAC was employing Mr R Sedgewick Currie to teach its members car mechanics.  By 1907 he’d given four sets of lessons, each attended by 20-30 LAC members.  He taught theory but also practice, on a six-cylinder Minerva supplied by a garage in Marylebone.  I’ve said that I couldn’t find Gabrielle’s name as a member of the LAC in its earliest years, but I’m pretty sure she must have been elected a member of the LAC and done one of the LAC’s courses in car mechanics.  And then practiced a lot on her own cars, despite how unfeminine her mother probably thought it.   


Georgine Classen’s research for her book Eat My Dust: Early Women Motorists has established that Gabrielle went into business as a woman garage proprietor at some time before the first World War, firstly in Slough, later in Northwood in west London.  Late in 1915 Gabrielle rented a garage at 8 Brick Street, a side-alley off Piccadilly.  I think it was in Brick Lane that Gabrielle posed with her great dane dog for a photograph now (February 2013) available through the website  Topfoto dates the portrait to the 1920s or 1930s but for several reasons I think it was taken in 1915 or early 1916.  In it, Gabrielle’s wearing a black dress covered with a loose, long black overall, exactly what she’s wearing in another of the photographs which shows her bending over a car engine watched by two other women, obviously her students.  She must be working on the four-cylinder chassis that she was using at Brick Street to show her students how to take an engine apart.  They also learned how to maintain the car’s valves with grinding equipment, to change a wheel, to take off and put on tyres, and to make running repairs using a soldering iron, screws and a screwdriver, and a hacksaw.


The photographs were part of Gabrielle’s attempt to show that her driving and vehicle maintenance courses could help women make a contribution to the war effort.  Many women had already joined the work-force to do the work of men who had volunteered for the armed forces.  On 11 December 1915, Gabrielle was mentioned by name and her garage featured by the Times in an article called ‘Increasing demand for women drivers’.  A series of adverts for the garage at Brick Street appeared in the Times in January and February 1916, just as the first conscription laws were passed.


In 1918 Gabrielle advertised her courses again, this time focusing on ambulance driving.  A course of 10 lessons would cost 5 guineas.  Later coverage of Gabrielle’s courses said that some of the women she’d taught had gone to drive ambulances in France and Serbia, but they were also needed in the UK.  Georgine Classen feels that charging 5 guineas meant that learning driving and maintenance with Gabrielle was not for the hard-up; but by 1918 enough women had found the money for her to rent a second garage in Kinnerton Street Knightsbridge; which means that by this time she must have had a second tutor.


Running a garage and trying to get women to think of motoring as a source of employment, brought Gabrielle into a world she may not have experienced quite so directly in the rest of her life: the world where women worked, at a disadvantage.  Although the motoring industry was a new one, it was already seen by men and women as a male preserve, so that women seeking a foothold in it were struggling against the same attitudes that prevailed in older industries.  By the time World War 1 began, Gabrielle was taking part in the formation of a trade union for women, the Society of Women Motor Drivers, founded to fight women’s corner in the battle to be taken seriously in the motoring trade and have the same rights as its male workers.  Another of the Society’s founder members was Barbara, social campaigner and wife of Bernard Drake who was a nephew of Beatrice Webb; so Gabrielle was making some very radical acquaintances through her garage business.


The Society’s Secretary, writing in 1918, described how much prejudice there was against the idea of trade unions, amongst upper-class women who might otherwise have joined the Society; Gabrielle may have had to overcome such prejudice in herself before she was able to become a member.  Other women weren’t able to overcome their distrust, unfortunately, and the Society struggled to campaign effectively.  In March 1918, after some difficult negotiations, it became a branch of a union it had probably seen as a rival until then - the (male dominated) Licensed Vehicle Workers’ Union; though the skill of the women in the negotiations ensured their women’s branch was allowed to be self-governing; that women members would pay the same subscriptions as the men and be entitled to the same protection from exploitation; and that the women’s branch would continue to hold its own monthly meetings.  The idea of forming what became the Society of Women Motor Drivers had originally come from the London Society for Women’s Suffrage, and the Society met at its Women’s Service Bureau in 58 Victoria Street London.  I haven’t been able to decide, from the information I’ve found, whether Gabrielle was a member of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage; or whether she was just recruited by them as a well-known woman motorist.  I’d like to think that she was already a member.


Whether Gabrielle was still living with her mother while she was running her garage businesses and getting involved in all this politicised campaigning work, I don’t know.  1910 was a year of tragedy for the Borthwicks: in June Gabrielle’s sister Violet died aged 38; and then Archibald died at the age of only 43.  I imagine Harriet Borthwick was hit hard, especially by the death of her only son.  She was getting very old (she was 80 in 1914).  She will have needed extra care, perhaps even nursing care, and may have been dogged, too, by a sense of her husband’s great project having failed.  The Borthwicks tended to run to daughters, and Archibald had married into another family with the same problem.  He and his wife, Susanna MacTaggart Stewart, had not produced a male heir to the barony Cunninghame had worked so hard to revive.  Apparently, there was some discussion in the family about whether the Borthwick peerage could be inherited by Archibald’s only child, Isolde; but there was no documentation to back that argument up, so the matter was allowed to drop.  The barony went into abeyance again on Archibald’s death and remains dormant to this day.


Harriet Borthwick died at Sevenoaks in Kent, on 17 February 1917.  Gabrielle was the chief mourner when she was buried.  The restrictions of wartime meant that the funeral was a small one. Gabrielle’s brother-in-law Harold Chaloner Dowdall (husband of Gabrielle’s sister Mary) managed to attend - he was the executor of Harriet’s Will; Harriet’s brother Francis Day and his wife and daughter were there; and Archibald’s widow Susanna who was now Countess of Euston.  In January 1916 Susanna had married Alfred Fitzroy, heir of the 7th duke of Grafton; he was a brother of TS and GD member Lady Eleanor Harbord.


It was either when her father died or - more likely - now on her mother’s death, that income from a trust fund became available to Gabrielle; probably with Harold Chaloner Dowdall (who was a barrister) as a trustee.  However, Gabrielle didn’t consider shutting down her garages and retiring, even after the war finally dragged itself to a conclusion.  The Borthwick Garages and her campaigning work gave her a purpose that she had not had before.  She found being in business a challenge, though.  The type of education given to upper-class girls in the 1870s and 1880s didn’t include book-keeping, let alone mechanics and engineering, and Gabrielle was really stretching her mental resources taking them on. Her campaigning work, too, moved her into areas where a woman needed to put ideas across by speaking in public and debate complex issues with a well-educated and possibly hostile audience.  I think this must be why Gabrielle became involved with the Pelman system of mental training.


There’s a good website on the Pelman system of mental training at, compiled by descendants of the man most associated with it in the UK.  The system can be thought of as a kind of mental equivalent of working-out, and was popular from the 1890s (when it was formulated) until the 1960s, with (during Gabrielle’s lifetime) such prominent men (the names I found were all of men) as Herbert Asquith and Lord Baden-Powell using it. I haven’t been able to find out when Gabrielle started using the Pelman system but she was convinced it had benefited her: in April 1920 she chaired an evening meeting at the Pelman Institute at 4 Bloomsbury Street, during which a lecture on how it worked was given by a senior employee, who took questions from the audience afterwards.  I wish I could find out whether she had recently been elected to the board of governors; but I don’t think any such records have survived. 


The other photograph I’ve found of Gabrielle comes from this period of her life.  She had it taken on 5 September 1951 by the fashionable photography firm of Bassano Limited, and it may have been connected with the role she was taking at the Pelman Institute.  Part of the Bassano Collection of portraits is now at the National Portrait Gallery and you can see this photograph of Gabrielle via the NPG’s website.


I have only one source for this, and that from Australia not from the UK, but one thing seems to have led to another with The Borthwick Garages and by the early 1920s Gabrielle’s business had branched out into the running of a restaurant and a hostel (I couldn’t find out where these were located).  She had acquired a business partner, Lady Gertrude Crawford. 


If Gabrielle was a rare bird - a female member of the aristocracy working as a garage proprietor - so was Lady Gertrude though in a rather different way: she was an experienced and talented worker with lathes.  Lady Gertrude Crawford (1868-1937) had been born Lady Gertrude Eleanor Molyneux; she was the daughter of the 4th Earl of Sefton.  Both her father and her grandfather the third earl had been enthusiastic ‘turners’ - they used a lathe to make things out of ivory and wood - and Lady Gertrude’s father had started her off in the craft by buying her a lathe when she was two!  She inherited both his talent and his enthusiasm and continued to do ‘turning’ work all her life, exhibiting her work, winning awards and being made a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Master Turners in  1907; although she never took payment for her work.  Lady Gertrude married Captain John Halket Crawford in 1905.  They lived mostly in London, where Crawford was stationed.  Gabrielle and Lady Gertrude were nearly the same age and could have known each other at least slightly from their days doing the London ‘season’; but it’s nice to speculate that they came together over the question of lathes and car engines and met - for example - on one of the mechanics courses run by the Ladies Automobile Club.


In 1924, Gabrielle and Lady Gertrude expanded their business yet again, opening an estate agency (again I don’t know where its offices were, but they were probably in or near Brick Street).  But taking on yet another outlet was a step too far, in very difficult economic times, and later that year a receiver was appointed to take control of Borthwick Garages Ltd after a court order against Gabrielle’s firm had been obtained by one of its creditors.  Gabrielle and Lady Gertrude seem to have been able to fight off bankruptcy that time but the firm’s financial situation didn’t improve and at the beginning of 1927, another set of bankruptcy proceedings began and this time Borthwick Garages Ltd shut up shop for good.  As the firm was a limited company, neither Gabrielle nor Lady Gertrude will have lost their shirt or their home as a result, but the failure of their firm must still have been very hard to take.  Lady Gertrude held an exhibition of her turning work at Leighton House in 1929 where, for the first time, some of the exhibits were for sale; I couldn’t help wondering if this was a rather forelorn attempt to raise money to pay some of Borthwick Garages Ltd’s creditors and save at least some dignity from the wreck.


At the same time as they were expanding the number of their own businesses, Gabrielle and Lady Gertrude also committed themselves to another company run by a woman, someone Gabrielle at least almost certainly knew as a fellow woman motorist.  The gloriously-named Cleone de Heveningham Benest was from a well-known Channel Islands family, though she herself was born in London; for reasons that aren’t quite clear, between about 1915 and about 1927, she called herself Cleone Griff.  Cleone had taken advantage of the options open to those born a generation after Gabrielle, and had a certificate in motor engineering.  In 1915, she too was running a garage for women, in Dover Street Piccadilly, a short walk away from Gabrielle’s own garage; though later in the war she was employed by Vickers as an inspector of aircraft.  In 1922 or 1923, Cleone had founded the Stainless and Non-Corrosive Metals Company Ltd, based in Birmingham, to make high-quality household goods.  Cleone herself was chairman and managing director, and a list of shareholders in the firm shows that the overwhelming majority of them were women.  At the beginning of 1924, Cleone was planning an expansion of the firm’s range of products and wanted to move to bigger premises.  As part of the fund-raising effort she sold 100 shares from her original holding of 1000: 50 to Lady Gertrude, and 50 to Gabrielle.  Lady Gertrude and Gabrielle joined the Company’s board of directors; though Cleone remained its chairman.  It seems, though, that the Company over-reached itself: at a meeting in December 1925, the shareholders agreed that as it couldn’t pay its current debts, it should be wound up.  Even in this crisis, though, the preponderance of women involved with the Company continued: the liquidator was a woman, Florence Durant of 230 Rotton Park Road Edgbaston.


Gabrielle had celebrated her 60th birthday in 1926, in the wake of the collapse of Cleone Griff’s business and while she was trying hard to prevent herself from going bankrupt a second time. Lady Gertrude was only two years younger, and after the winding-up of Borthwick Garages Ltd neither of them seem to have ventured into business again.  Gabrielle was by no means finished with cars, however: in 1929 she got involved with the Women’s Automobile and Sports Association, which was founded to organise and promote sports events for women competitors. 


As you would expect, WASA was a moneyed, upper-class club.  Its first headquarters were at the St Ermin’s Hotel Westminster and it had negotiated a deal whereby its members could have rooms there, presumably at a discount.  Later it had enough funds to lease its own headquarters building, at 17 Buckingham Palace Gardens.  It held its annual dinners at the Savoy Hotel.  When it decided to hold a motor rally to raise funds for George V’s jubilee, in 1935, it was able to hire the very exclusive Hurlingham Club as the venue. 


WASA’s  first president was Irene Mountbatten, the Marchioness of Carisbrooke; formerly Lady Irene Denison, a relation of GD member Albertina Herbert.  Its second was Ermine Oliphant-Murray, Viscountess Elibank.  WASA’s secretary was the author Edith Waldemar Leverton.  Gabrielle was an active member of WASA from the beginning.  At one of its first meetings she was elected chairman of its executive committee and she continued in that role until the second World War. 


Although it held other events from time to time, WASA’s main function was to organise cross-country trials for vehicles whose drivers were mostly women.  The trials were mostly for cars though one or two, especially in WASA’s early days, were for motorbikes.  The first trial was held in 1929, from Slough to Exeter and back again, and from that year until 1939 there were three trials a year, noted for their good organisation and the level of challenge presented to the drivers and navigators.  The one held on a circuit around Llandrindod Wells was regarded as particularly tough.  Lord Wakefield of Hythe was persuaded to donate a trophy for the trials’ overall winner, which was presented at the annual dinner.  WASA also took part in motor-racing at Brooklands and at Montlhery in France. 


None of the references I found for WASA suggested Gabrielle had ever taken part in any of its trial-races: she was probably too busy running them.  She was also in her 60s and then 70s and might have reached the stage when cross-country driving at night was a step too far for her.


During the 1920s and probably until the second World War, Gabrielle was still living in London, at 106 Ebury Street.   However, she may have had a place in the country for when she could spare a weekend: a house called Wickhurst, in Broadbridge Heath just outside Horsham.  By her death it had become her main residence.  WASA went into abeyance at the start of World War 2 and was not reconstituted afterwards, so Gabrielle would have been free to leave London permanently if she had wanted to. 


The women in Gabrielle’s life had begun to die off in the 1930s.  Lady Gertrude Crawford died in 1937 at her house near Lymington in Hampshire.  Gabrielle’s sister Mary died a few months before the 1939 Register was taken; and her sister Alice died only a few weeks before it, leaving Gabrielle the last survivor of Cunninghame and Harriet’s children, though the oldest.  On the day of the 1939 Register - 29 September 1939 - Gabrielle was at Wickhurst.  With her were two women, though whether they were living there or just visiting isn’t clear, because the Register didn’t note that kind of information down.  Either way, they were friends of Gabrielle, so it’s a pity that I didn’t recognise either of their names and I haven’t been able to identify either of them for sure from other sources.  They were both widows, Mrs Evelyn C White, and Mrs Mary B Carleton.  Mrs White’s year of birth was not transcribed for the Findmypast edition of the Register; but Mrs Carleton was a contemporary of Cleone Griff rather than Gabrielle - born in 1886.  Gabrielle and Mrs White both told the Register official that they had no occupation, but Mrs Carleton told him or her she was a company director. 


Gabrielle died, at Wickhurst, on 10 October 1952, leaving personal belongings valued at about £10,000 - which was worth a lot more than it is now, if you see what I mean.  A few months later some jewellery Gabrielle had owned was sent for sale at Christie’s by her executors.


Gabrielle’s barrister brother-in-law, Harold Chaloner Dowdall lived on until 1955 and she could have made him the executor of her Will.  But he was in his 70s and she could not be sure he would still be alive to do the work, so instead, when she made her Will, she chose two women as her executors: not Evelyn White or Mary Carleton, her friends from 1939, but a Mrs Teresa Mary Cecilia Muckleston, and a Miss Mary Charman.


Teresa Mary Cecilia Healy was born in 1893.  I found her on the 1901 census living in Hornsey, north London, with her mother Margaret and a step-father, Alexander Cheffins, who worked for the Post Office.  In 1901 Teresa had one full sister, Dorothy, and a step-sister, Gladys.  In 1919 Teresa married Bertram Brookes Muckleston, whom she may have known from her childhood as he’d also grown up in north London, in Muswell Hill.  The only information I found about what Bertram Muckleston did for a living was from an official employees list issued in 1941 when he was working in the office of the Permanent Under-Secretary for the Air Force.  What he was doing in 1941 may not have been typical of his working life, but perhaps he was a civil servant.  Bertram Muckleston was born in 1888.  If he was able to retire he would have done so around 1950; perhaps he and his wife retired to Broadbridge Green.  I can’t think how else the upper-class Gabrielle Borthwick would have got to know the wife of a civil servant.


The Charman family had been living in Sussex for many centuries.  Looking on the web and the 1911 census I saw several women called Mary Charman.  The Mary Charman named by Gabrielle must have been over 21 to be old enough (legally speaking) to act on her behalf; but I feel myself that Miss Charman was probably well over 21 at Gabrielle’s death.  On freebmd I also found two girls called Mary Charman born in Sussex in 1911; one in Horsham.  Both of these women would have been 41 when Gabrielle died and, if unmarried, might have had the kind of relationship with Gabrielle that made her trust Mary to act as executor.  This could have included a lesbian relationship, but the Charmans I found on the web seem to be ordinary people; so I suggest the relationship was more likely to be that of elderly upper-class village resident and neighbour who did some work for her. 


Rather an uncertain note to end with; but that’s history for you!




BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.


Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert.  Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986.  Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914.  The list is based on the Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its Members’ Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation.  All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden.  Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh were destroyed in 1900/01.  As far as I know, the records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have not survived either.


Family history: freebmd; (census and probate);; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families;; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.


Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD.  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.


Catalogues: British Library; Freemasons’ Library.


Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources.  I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.



At there’s a timeline indicating that Cunninghame’s branch of the family had been claiming the title since 1816.  Some details on Cunninghame Borthwick: educated Edinburgh High School and Edinburgh University.  Member of London Stock Exchange 1853-77.  Cunninghame’s claim to be barony as 19th baron was allowed on 5 May 1870.

Sessional Papers House of Lords 1869 p6 Cunninghame Borthwick’s plea to revive the barony of Borthwick was heard by the House of Lords Privileges Committee.  This family history evidence formed part of his case and was included in the the Minutes of the hearing:


-           marriage record of Patrick Borthwick to Ariana Corbett daughter of Cunningham (sic) Corbett “merchant in Glasgow”; the marriage took place on 13 November 1804

-           baptism record, parish of South Leith: Archibald Borthwick, August 1811

-           baptism record, parish of South Leith: Cunninghame (sic) Borthwick, born 6 June 1813

-           burial record of Patrick Borthwick dated 16 April 1840; he was buried in the Centre Lair, Borthwick’s Tomb, West Ground

pA7 Patrick Borthwick described as manager of the National Bank of Scotland

-           burial record of Archibald Borthwick, 8 July 1863.

Verification that Patrick Borthwick had three sons: Archibald, Cunninghame and Thomas

-           confirmation that Archibald Borthwick had died without male heirs; he’d only had pA8 daughters


-           confirmation that the last holder of the title recognised by the House of Lords, Henry Lord Borthwick, had died in 1772 without issue.

There were two other men with surname Borthwick attempting to claim the barony.


Notes and Queries 4th Series number IV issued 18 December 1869 p535 has an article: Filius naturalis: Borthwick Peerage.  In it there are a few more details of the evidence Privileges Committee was having to consider.  There were allegations from the other claimants to the barony that Cunninghame’s claim was invalid because of an illegitimacy (I think it was in the 14th century!).  Cunninghame in his turn was alleging that documents supporting the other claims were forgeries.  Evidence p536 was being heard dating back to 1511!


Times Wednesday 4 May 1870 p13 rpt of House of Lords business, about the Borthwick barony.  On behalf of the Crown, the Attorney-General had said at the hearing that he was satisfied that Cunninghame’s claim had been “satisfactorily established”; and so the Committee had allowed Cunninghame’s claim.

Times Thursday 12 May 1870 p9 A Scotch Barony Revived: this report said the barony had originally been created during reign of James II of Scotland, in the mid-15th century.  Cunninghame’s revival of his family’s claim to the barony had begun in 1867.

HE’S VERY ANXIOUS TO ENSURE HIS NEW STATUS IS RECOGNISED: Times Saturday 8 April 1871 p4 letter dated 6 April [1871] to Times from Grahames and Wardlaw of 30 Gt George Street Westminster, who act for Baron Borthwick.  On Lord Borthwick’s behalf, Grahames and Wardlow were protesting that he had been left off a list of peerages issued by the Times recently.  The letter reminded the Times that Borthwick was now a peer and should have been included in the list.



Times Fri 5 August 1870 p7 Election of a Scotch Representative Peer.  Election held “yesterday” at Holyrood House.  Baron Borthwick attended and voted.  Voting ended with the Earl of Strathmore being unanimously elected in place of the late Earl of Haddington.

Times Fri 8 March 1872 p7 coverage of another election of a Scottish representative peer.  Baron Borthwick was there and voted.  This time there was much more argument between advocates of several possible candidates; though eventually the Marquis of Queensberry was elected unanimously.

CUNNINGHAME GETS ELECTED HIMSELF: Times Saturday 17 April 1880 p12 report on elections for Scottish representative peers, issued Edinburgh 16 April [1880].  The elections took place (as usual) at Holyrood Palace and this time there were 10 slots available.  The meeting lasted 4 hours and was very fractious.  Baron Borthwick got elected to one of the 10 slots.

FIRST SPOTTED IN HOUSE OF LORDS: Times Thursday 17 June 1880 p6 report House of Lords business Tuesday 15 June [1880] - voting on the Burials Bill.  Baron Borthwick was in House of Lords and voted.

HE’S A TORY: at // are listings of archives held in Glasgow University’s Special Collections.  The University has a collection of manuscripts from Paisley Beaconsfield Club and Conservative Association, covering 1880-1905.  It includes one letter from Cunninghame Borthwick to Sir A Campbell dated 1 November 1884, apologising for not being able to attend a particular meeting.


RAVENSTONE CASTLE which is the correct sp - with the ‘e’. 

Burke’s Peerage states that the estate at Ravenstone Wigtownshire was bought by Cunninghame Borthwick in 1870.  Wife Harriet Day was dtr of Thomas Hermitage Day, banker. 

Wikipedia: Wigtownshire is now part of the county of Dumfries and Galloway.  The website on Wigtownshire has a picture of Ravenstone Castle which is at Glasserton.


Website is the site of Francis Frith Nostalgic Photographs, maps etc.  Another pic of Ravenstone Castle, taken in 1951.

At // there’s a section on Ravenstone Castle: it’s an L-shaped tower house w interesting barrel-vaulted basements.  In the 18th cent alterations were made to 16th-century oblong tower.  This website isn’t quite up to date - it describes the Castle as derelict and roofless.  It had been put on Buildings at Risk register in 1992. 

However, Ravenstone Castle has recently been rescued:

The website says a wing was added in the early 19th century.  There were more additions to the house c 1875 - by Cunninghame Borthwick.  The result of the alterations was the alteration of the original floor-plan to more or less cruciform shape.  The website has some sad-looking pictures of the Castle without roof and windows.  However, it changed hands in 2000 and by 2008 the new owners had put a new roof on, renewed the windows and replaced a rotten door.  As at July 2011 the Castle is still privately owned, by Mr and Mrs S Atterton, who were engaged in a room-by-room refurbishment of the interior (which sounds like Grand Designs!!)


NOT CLEAR EXACTLY WHERE THIS IS, BUT PRESUMABLY ON THE RAVENSTONE CASTLE ESTATE: Times Tuesday 16 September 1884 p3 Ancient Lake Dwellings in Scotland: there had been an archaeological dig at the crannog at Airrieouland, Dowalton.  Lord Borthwick was now owner of the bed of the lake in which the crannogs were; he had lent some estate workers to help at the dig.




Seekers of Truth: The Scottish Founders of Modern Public Accountancy T A Lee 2006 p80 on Patrick Borthwick, whom the author describes as “a leading merchant and Burgess of Edinburgh”.  In 1825 Patrick was appointed the first ever manager of the National Bank of Scotland on a salary of £1000 pa.  His sons were all in practice together as accountants in the 1830s but the youngest of the brothers died in 1839 aged 22.  This book is the source for two items of information I haven’t found elsewhere: that Archibald made a formal claim to the Borthwick barony, which was rejected; and that the father of Patrick’s wife Ariana was a landowner (rather than a businessman).


London Gazette no date at the top of the page at this early date but p1246 is a list of legal notices issued dissolving partnerships.  The list of includes one issued 29 April 1853 by the partners Dionysius Wilfred Dowling and Cunninghame Borthwick dissolving of their partnership.  They had been stockbrokers at 75 Old Broad Street.  D W Dowling would be carrying on the business.

I searched the Times for mention of Borthwick, Wark and Co but didn’t find a single item between 1850 and 1870; I think that the firm was under the Times’ radar during those years.

Times Thursday 7 September 1871 p5 Money Market and City Intelligence: Borthwick, Wark and Co, the Imperial Bank and Messrs Clews Habicht and Co were all acting together as “authorized agents of the State of Georgia” which was looking to float a loan of $1,400,000.  Clews Habicht and Co were the main contractors for the loan; Borthwick, Wark and Co’s role was subsidiary.

Times Monday 15 February 1875 p13 advert issued by Robert Benson and Co: Bensons and Borthwick, Wark and Co had been authorised to sell 6% Construction Bonds about to be issued by the Illinois Central Railroad and Co.  Borthwick, Wark and Co’s current address is Bartholomew House London EC.

Times Friday 6 July 1877 p10 Money Market and City Intelligence: an announcment that Cunninghame Borthwick had retired from Borthwick, Wark and Co.  Andrew Wark and John Wark junior would continue “under the same style”.  The firm’s address would continue to be Bartholomew House.

The History of Foreign Investment in the United States to 1914 by Mira Wilkins 1989.  P490 Chapter 14: Financial, Commercial and Communication Services, Section on Stockbrokers: Borthwick, Wark worked with London-based merchant bankers “in U.S. (sic) transactions”.  No Other references in the same paragraph are to events in the 1870s and 1880s.

Slow Train to Paradise: How Dutch Investment Helped Build American Railroads by A J  Veenendaal 1996.  California: Stanford University Press.  On p213 not in main text but in a section called Alphabetic Survey: an entry dated 1881 for Borthwick, Wark and Co; they had sold some stocks in Chicago and Lake Superior “div. gold loan” in London though most of the shares were sold in Netherlands.

Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society volume 1 1890 p118 a reference to Baron Borthwick (that’s Gabrielle’s brother Archibald) as “now head of the firm Borthwick, Wark and Co of London, stock-brokers”.


For the location of Bartholomew House: via the web to From Tinfoil to Stereo which is an account of the early record industry, by W W Welch and Leah B S Burt 1994.  On p108 refers to the Edison Bell Phonograph company opening offices in 1892 at Bartholomew House, Bartholomew Lane London.

The firm moved shortly afterwards: at // a London Directory issued 1894 lists Borthwick, Wark and Co stocks and shares brokers at 11 Capthall Court London EC.



PO Court Directory 1880 p2049 Lord Borthwick’s current address is 35 Hertford Street.

PO Court Directory 1881 p2075 Lord Borthwick FSA can now only be contact at Ravenstone, Whithorn Wigtownshire or via the Junior Carlton Club.  He doesn’t have a house in London.



Proceedings of the Society for the Encouragement of the Useful Arts in Scotland issued 1836 p164 at a meeting held at the Royal Institution Edinburgh on 9 March 1836 p166 Cunninghame Borthwick of 27 Albany Street Edinburgh was one of several men elected as Ord members.

Transactions of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts 1841 p45 at a meeting held at the Royal Institution Edinburgh on 13 November 1839 p46 Cunninghame Borthwick “actuary” of 5 North Street David Street Edinburgh was one of several men elected as Ordinary members.


Report on Spiritualism of the Committee of the London Dialectical Society, Together with the Evidence....  London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer 1871.  Pvi the had been formed and the research begun in January 1869.  On p145 giving evidence to the Committee on Tuesday 11 May 1869 was Mr Borthwick now (that is, by the time the Report was published) Lord Borthwick.  His evidence concerned “some spirit drawings that had been produced in his presence” - he couldn’t explain how they had been done.


Probate Registry: notice dated 12 March 1886.  The Rt Hon Cunninghame Lord Borthwick had died at Ravenstone Castle Wigtownshire on 24 December 1885.  This notice is confirmation of the Commissariot of the County of Wigtownshire dated 6 March 1886 that the Rt Hon Lady Borthwick is the “Executrix Nominate” - (the only one!!).  As was usual with notices concerning deaths in Scotland, no financial details were given - alas!

Website has a photo of the grave of Cunninghame Borthwick, their reference GPR 73728; it’s at Dean 2e Cemetery Edinburgh.  Harriet Borthwick is in that grave as well.




Via familysearch reference England-ODM 9002530: baptism record for Thomas Hermitage Day, 10 February 1802 at St Nicholas Rochester.  His parents were David Hermitage Day and wife Mary Ann.

Via familysearch reference England EASy 1469314 first marriage: Thomas Hermitage Day to Harriet Stone; at Bexley Kent 10 June 1828.

Twiggs’ Corrected List of the Country Bankers of England and Wales by T Twigg issued 1830 p67 bankers in Rochester: the only ones listed are Day and Sons, with conns to (the London firm of) Glyn and Co.  The partners in Day and Sons are David Hermitage Day, David John Day and Thomas Hermitage Day.

At is a full transcription of the Will of William Alston of Rochester; from 1833.  It mentions David Hermitage Day, David John Day and Thomas Hermitage Day, all “of the city of Rochester aforesaid Bankers”.

Via familysearch reference England-ODM 0992530: baptism record for Harriet Alice Day, 1 January 1835 at St Nicholas Rochester.

At // is a trans of a Directory issued 1838 and covering Frindsbury in Kent.  Listed under “clergy, gentry etc” are a William Day of Little Hermitage; and Thomas H Day of Frindsbury Road.

Freebmd:        birth of Francis Harry Emilius Day registered North Aylesford Kent July-Sep 1839                      death of Harriet Day registered North Aylesford Kent July-Sep 1839.

Via familysearch ref England EASy 1835969 2nd marriage: Thomas Hermitage Day to Emma Bingham, at St Margaret Next Rochester on 19 May 1846.

Via familysearch but I didn’t note down the dtls: Thomas Hermitage Day’s children.  From the first marriage:

-           Hermitage Charles Day born 1833

-           Harriet born 1834

-           Francis Harry Emilius; he marries Elisa Boulcott Taylor at St James Westminster in 1863

From the second marriage:

-           Thomas Hulkes Bingham-Day; he marries Katharine Margaret Watts in 1884 in Bengal

-           and two more daughters, seen on the 1851 census

Website is the site of Frindsbury Extra Parish Council.  St Philip and St James Upnor, a chapel and a school-building, were built in 1869-78 and paid for by Thomas Hermitage Day and his wife (the second wife, that is - Emma).

London Gazette 5 April 1870 p2076 legal notice issued by Tathams Curling and Walls of 3 Frederick’s Place Old Jewry following the death of Thomas Hermitage Day on 9 December 1869.  The notice mentions a Will and a Trust; Emma is one of a number of executors.

Website is the site for the church of St Weburgh on the Hoo peninsula in north Kent.  The church’s east window is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Hermitage Day.



At // is a transcription by Radley College of the 1847 “Diary of a Victorian Educational Reformer”: Robert Corbet Singleton, co-founder of Radley College.  There’s a note on H Charles Day, taken from College records: born 1833, son of Thomas Hermitage Day.  A pupil at the College 1848-51.  Then Brasenose College Oxford 1851; BA 1855.  Ordained priest 1856.  Vicar of Bredhurst Kent 1864-78.  Died in Frindsbury Kent 29 September 1917.

London Gazette 13 November 1860 p4178 promotions from cadet to Lieutenant include that of Francis Harry Emilius Day, as from 1 November 1860.

Hart’s New Army List 1868 p71 long list of lieutenants in the Royal Artillery includes Francis Harry Emilius Day.

London Gazette 10 November 1871 p4598 Lieutenant Francis Harry Emilius Day had been allowed to retire from the army with an annuity; issued 11 November 1871.

Probate Registry: Francis Harry Emilius Day of West Malling Kent died 21 December 1915.  Probate granted at London 18 January [1916] to Francis Hermitage Day “gentleman” (a son of Francis, I guess)). 


At there are notes on Harriet’s half-brother Thomas Day, though I don’t know why because he didn’t die as a result of injuries incurred during World War 1: Thomas Hulkes Bingham-Day had died on 11 April 1917; son of Thomas Hermitage Day and his wife Emma.  Husband of Katherine Margaret Bingham-Day.  A career army officer: 5th Batt Devonshire Regiment.  Served in South Africa (they mean the Boer War, I think).  Buried in Bishopstrow churchyard Wiltshire.



Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: the Story of a Mother and a Daughter in the Gilded Age by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart.  New York London Toronto Sydney: Harper Perennial 2005.  Pushed into it by her mother, Consuelo married 9th Duke of Marlborough in 1895.  She duly produced two sons but the marriage was unhappy from the start and the miserable parties to it agreed a separation in 1906.  The ‘heir and a spare’ phrase is mentioned on p224 though Mackenzie Stuart does say it’s not absolutely certain who it originated with.


Harriet Borthwick must have been presented at court sometime, because she presented all her daughters and she could only have done so if she had been presented herself.  I searched Times 1865 and 1866 to see if she had been presented on her marriage; but she hadn’t been.  So I searched 1870 and 1871 to see if the presentation had happened on her husband getting the Borthwick peerage, but it didn’t.  I’m a bit puzzled about that.



Details of Harriet Borthwick’s death and funeral were published in  Times Fri 23 February 1917 p9. 


At // there’s stuff on GMAB’s siblings.  Confirmation of most of it is on

-           Archibald 1867-1910 - see a bit further down, for more details on him.

-           Alice Rachel Anne born 17 December 1868 married July 1893 Captain Alexander Stratton Campbell of Weasenham Norfolk.  She died in August 1939

-           Violet Dagmar Marion Olga born 3 June 1871 married November 1900 Captain Lewis Grey Freeland.  Violet died in June 1910.

-           Mary Frances Harriet born 11 February 1876 married July 1897 Harold Chaloner Dowdall (1868-1955); barrister of Inner Temple - see below.


MARY DOWDALL Gabrielle’s youngest sister and the most interesting of them.

Times Wed 28 Feb 1894 p7 report on the Drawing Room held “yesterday” at Buckingham Palace.  Queen Victoria attended it (she usually didn’t); the Prince and Princess of Wales and Princess Alice of Hesse (Queen Victoria’s second daughter) were also there.  Amongst those presented: Hon Mary Borthwick, presented by her mother Lady Borthwick. 

Times 2 July 1897 p10 Court Circ report issued Windsor Castle 1 July [1897].  A short paragraph, with no guest list, giving notice of the marriage of Harold Dowdall to Mary Borthwick at St Mary Abbot’s Kensington.  The service was taken by the bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, assisted by the Rev Lancelot D Dowdall and Rev Charles Ridlay.  Lady Borthwick gave a reception afterwards.


Mary was an author.  Between 1911 and 1927 she published a book of folk tales; several novels; and some essays.

Via the web to a copy of Mary’s novel The Book of Martha.  It has a frontispiece by Augustus John.  Published 1913 by Duckworth and Co.  NB that it is NOT a bible story; it’s a modern-day tale.


At website of the National Gallery of Victoria: a reproduction of a portrait by Augustus John now in its collection, of Harold Chaloner Dowdall dressed for his role as Lord Mayor of Liverpool; portrait by Augustus John.  Apparently there was a companion portrait of Mary Dowdall; but I can’t find a picture of it on the web.

Times Sat 20 May 1939 p14: one-paragraph obituary of Hon Mrs Chaloner Dowdall, wife of Judge Dowdall KC, who’d died “on Thursday after a long illness” at Melfort Cottage, Boar’s Hill Oxford.  Born 11 February 1876; married 1 July 1897; 1son 3daughters.  No mention of her career as a writer.

The obituary of Mary’s husband has more information on Mary: Times Fri 22 April 1955 p15 obituary of Harold Chaloner Dowdall QC who’d died “on Good Friday” at his home near Oxford.  The Dowdall family was Irish.  Harold was the youngest son of Thomas Dowdall, who was a stockbroker.  Trinity College Oxford where he studied Natural Sciences.  Qualified for the bar 1893.  Inner Temple.  Practised as a barrister in Liverpool until 1917.  QC1920.  County Court Judge on Circuit 6 - Liverpool - May 1921 to 1940.  Held a number of posts in the CofE - chancellor etc.  Wife Mary: “a lady of intellect, wit and charm”; a “prominent figure” in Liverpool’s social life especially the circle around the University.  She wrote novels and “amusing sketches and essays”.  There are portraits of Mary by Augustus John and Charles Shannon.  Mary and Harold’s son was also a barrister; and they had three daughters.  All their children were still alive in 1955.


Via to list of contents of Liverpool Record Office.  List includes a large collection, correspondence and other papers of Harold Chaloner Dowdall and Mary Dowdall, covering 1901-54.  Part of the collection is letters to/from Augustus John, who taught at Liverpool School of Art; and became friends with both the Dowdalls then. 

One of Mary Dowdall’s daughters, probably a god-daughter of Gabrielle is mentioned on Ursula Gabrielle Borthwick Dowdall who married 1920 Charles Alexander Petrie later 3rd Baronet but got divorced quite soon afterwards.  Ursula died in October 1962.


GABRIELLE’S BROTHER ARCHIBALD, the 17th Baron Borthwick:

Times Wed 8 May 1889 p13 report on the levee at St James’s Palace yesterday, with the Prinece of Wales presiding.  Amongst the presentations made to the Prince: Baron Borthwick, who was introduced by the Earl of Orkney.  In next few years I saw Baron Borthwick named in the Times as attending quite a few royal functions.

Wikipedia: it must have been the 6th Earl of Orkney: George Fitzmaurice 1827 to 21 October 1889; married, no children, succeeded by his nephew Edmond 1867-1951.

Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society volume 1 1890 p118 a reference to Baron Borthwick “now head of the firm Borthwick, Wark and Co of London, stock-brokers”.  (Presumably, Lord Borthwick is a member of the Society).

Times 19 July 1901 p10 Court Circular, short report on the marriage of Baron Borthwick to Susanna Mary daughter of Sir Mark and Lady Stewart, at Ardwell Church.  Gabrielle was a bridesmaid. 

Armorial Families p300 on Mark John Stewart, later MacTaggart Stewart.  He’s 1st Baronet and his main estate is Southwick Kirkcudbright.  Born 1834.  Tory MP 1874-80 and again 1885.  Married 1866 Marianne Susanna Ommaney whose mother was the only child and heires of Sir John MacTaggart of Ardwell.  Sir John MacTaggart died in 1895 and Mark inherited Sir John’s estate on condition that he take the MacTaggart surname.  Mark and Marianne had a large family, Susanna being one of the younger daughters.  My Book of the Road shows Ardwell on the east side of the Mull of Galloway peninsula; originally it was in Wigtownshire, it’s now in Dumfries and Galloway.


Times 5 October 1910 p11 obituary of 17th Lord Borthwick who’d died “at his town house yesterday”.  He was Archibald P T Bortwick, only son of 16th baron and his wife Harriet Alice née Day.  The 17th baron was born in 1867.  He became a partner in the stockbroking firm Borthwick, Wark and Co which had been founded by his father.  The 17th baron was also an accomplished musician.  In 1901 he married Susanna MacTaggart Stewart.  They had one child, a daughter, and the barony would probably have to go into abeyance again.  The funeral would be on Saturday at Kirkmadryne Ardwell Wigtownshire.  The Hon Gabrielle Borthwick, Lady Cassilis (one of Susanna’s sisters) and Mr E O Stewart, Grenadier Guards (Susanna’s brother) were comforting Lady Borthwick.

Whitaker’s Peerage, Baronetage etc... 1910 p191 a note about the Borthwick barony: “Recently it was a question whether it was open to female succession” as no papers existed any longer which indicated exactly the conditions under which the barony could be inherited. 

Using Burke’s Peerage on the dukes of Grafton.  P1193 the 8th Duke of Grafton’s 2nd marr, in January 1916, was to Susanna Mary, widow of Baron Borthwick.



Times Sat 25 April 1888 p10 rpt on Queen Victoria’s drawing-room held at Buckingham Palace “yesterday afternoon”.  Lady Borthwick presented the Hon Alice Borthwick.

Alice had children, includingl three sons: at there was a message posted February 2007 by Ian Campbell who’s a descendant of Alexander Stratton Campbell and his wife Alice, via their middle son of three, Michael; Patrick was older, David was younger.

Times Thurs 6 March 1890 p10 report on the drawing room at Buckingham Palace yesterday; at which Queen Victoria was actually present, with the Prince and Princess of Wales and Princesses Victoria and Maud.  Amongst those presented was the Hon Violet Borthwick, by her mother Lady Borthwick.

Times Fri 23 Nov 1900 p7 Court Circular issued 22 November [1900] includes a brief notice of the marriage of Violet Borthwick to Captain Lewis Gray Freeland of Northamptonshire Regiment, “lately invalided from South Africa”.  The wedding at Holy Trinity Sloane Square “yesterday afternoon”.  Archibald Borthwick gave Violet away.  Other guests included a Colonel Freeland (probably the groom’s father), another Captain Freeland (a brother?) and his wife; Vicountess Gage; Lord Glenesk; Miss Borthwick (Gabrielle); Captain and the Hon Mrs Campbell (Alice); and Hon Sydney St John.  The Dowdalls aren’t listed so I suppose they couldn’t go to the wedding.

Probate Registry: Hon Violet Dagmar Marion Olga Freeland of Gestingthorpe Castle, Hedingham Essex wife of Lewis Gray Freeland had died on 13 June 1910.  Administration 26 Aug [1910] London to Lewis Freeland as Captain (retd).  At // Freeland family page but no source: Lewis Gray Freeland born 1867 Marylebone, died 1938 Bath.



Via google books found these:

Burke’s Landed Gentry of Great Britain 2001 ed p77 gives Gabrielle’s date of birth as 30 June 1866: Gabrielle Margaret Ariana.



Times Sat 15 March 1884 p12 The Drawing Room held “yesterday afternoon” at Buckingham Palace, at which the Princess of Wales had stood in for Queen Victoria.  Amongst those presented was Hon Gabrielle Borthwick; presented by her mother.



Seen via at the online collection of the University of Toronto:

-           Journal of the Gipsy Lore Society New Series Volume 2 July 1908-April 1909.  Printed for the Society by Edinburgh University Press though the offices of the Society are at 6 Hope Place Liverpool.  On pxii a list of members: Gabrielle at the Ravenstone Castle address.

-           Journal of the Gipsy Lore Society New Series Volume 5 July 1911-April 1912.  Printed for Society by Edinburgh University Press; offices now at 21a Alfred Street Liverpool.  On pxii in members list: Gabrielle still at the Ravenstone Castle address.

No other person called Borthwick is a member; in either publication.



Theosophical Society Membership Register June 1898-February 1901 has her sponsoring a new member: p21 July 1898 it was Miss Annie Roby Evans of Boundary Road London NW.  Annie’s other sponsor was A P Sinnett.  On p184 of the 1898-1901 volume there’s finally a membership entry for her, in a group of members known personally to Patience Sinnett; the details of this group of people only got added to the membership list after Patience Sinnett’s death on 9 November 1908.  None of this group of members has as application date, there are no details of subscriptions paid, no proper addresses and their sponsors are not named: on p184 against the entry for Gabrielle Borthwick are membership dates of 1900-09 (which can’t be correct) and then a note, “Resigned March 1. 1909".  Gabrielle’s address from 1900-09 was: Viale Regina, Vittoria, Florence, but she was a member of the London lodge, not the active lodge based in Florence. The only other GD member in Patience Sinnett’s personal group of friends was Lina Rowan Hamilton.


The Sinnetts:

Autobiography of Alfred Percy Sinnett published in an unedited version by the Theosophical History Centre, Gloucester Place, 1986: pp32-33 although Gabrielle’s parents’ titles are wrongly given as “Lord and Lady Northwick”.

George Wyld:

Notes of My Life by George Wyld MD.  London: Kegan Paul Trench Trübner and Co 1903: p42.


HERMETIC SOCIETY: there’s a very short account of it on pp322-23 of Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times by R van den Broek and Wouter J Hanegraaff, 1998.  There’s more but possibly not so reliable on the web; and search also for Anna Bonus Kingsford, the Society’s president.



FIRST is Mabel Dodge Luhan.  Wikipedia on her: 1879-1962, wealthy American patron of the arts.  Married 4 times (though she was on number two when Gabrielle knew her):

Married (1) 1900 Karl Evans, who was killed in an accident while out shooting, in 1902.  Mabel’s son from this short marriage was her only child.

Married (2) 1904 in France, architect Edwin Dodge. 

Mabel is described on her wikipedia page as actively bisexual.  She lived in Florence from 1905 to 1912; and then again for a few months in 1913 with her lover Maurice Sterne (who became husband number 3).  The wikipedia page has a great deal more on her extraordinary life but from 1912 she lived in the USA.


Mabel Dodge Luhan’s memoirs are in 4 volumes.  Gabrielle Borthwick appears in the 2nd: Intimate Memories published 1935.  The references to Gabrielle come on p164, where Mabel writes that Gabrielle called her ‘houri’.  The fuller description of Gabrielle and her circumstances, and the unpleasant goings-on in Mabel’s house when Gabrielle was a guest there is at p280; and the placing of Gabrielle in a wider group of women-without-men is on p283.  Again on p450 Mabel speaks of Gabrielle as very intimate with her at a time (p445-46) when Mabel’s marriage to Edwin Dodge is in a bad way but she can’t yet face the social consequences (which were very great) of getting a divorce.  Mabel speaks of Walburga Paget’s socialising and her social status in Florence on p450.  On p183 Mabel says that Walburga Paget actually helped to launch Mabel on the Florence social scene when she first came to live there.


I checked the third volume of Mabel Dodge Luhan’s memoirs - Movers and Shakers, published in 1936.  It concerns the years after Mabel returned to live permanently in the USA.  Gabrielle’s name doesn’t appear in it and in Intimate Memories p185 Mabel states that she kept up with very few of her acquaintances in Florence after she stopped living there.


SECOND is Countess Walburga Paget often wrongly spelled WalPurga.  Wikipedia, in French but not in English, on Walburga Paget: Walburga Ehrengarde Helen von/de Hohenthal, daughter of Count Charles von Hohenthal, born 1831 in Berlin.  Lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter Victoria after she married Prince Frederick of Prussia.  Marries Augustus Berkeley Paget (1823-96) British ambassador to Denmark; then Rome; then Vienna.  After her husband’s death Walburga spent winters at Villa Bellosguardo in Florence. She died in 1929 at Newham-on-Severn.


Wikipedia in English, on Augustus Berkeley Paget: 1823-96 son of Sir Arthur Paget and his wife Lady Augusta née Fane; grandson of the 1st Earl of Uxbridge who led the cavalry at the battle of Waterloo.  Married Walburga 1860; 2sons 1daughter.  British minister to Italy 1867-76; British ambassador to Italy 1876-83; British ambassador to Austria-Hungary 1884-93. 


Not always trustworthy website says Walburga and Augustus’ two sons both married but neither had any children.  Their daughter married the 1st Earl of Plymouth.


In My Tower by Walburga, Lady Paget.  London, Hutchinson and Co 1924 and it’s volume 2 of 2 with the index to both volumes.  The ‘name’ Borthwick doesn’t appear in the index which seems just to consist of the famous and the titled.  The book is based on diary entries and letters.  It’s not organised very systematically and has very few fixed dates, so I could anchor events in Walburga’s life only when she referred to events which were taking place in the wider world.  There is a yearly pattern in the book, though: Walburga seems to go to London from about July to about October, most years.  The section containing the reference to Gabrielle begins on p321 with a diary entry p323 dated “January 27"; by p324 we’re at April 28th.  On p327 Walburga says her daughter and daughter’s family have all come to visit. The quote about Gabrielle being one of her houseguests the week  is on p330.  A diary entry on p328 gives this houseparty as including “June 19th”; I established the year from a reference on p329 that it’s one week after Lord Airlie has been killed while on active service in the Boer War.



The date of Lord Airlie: wikipedia on the earls of Airlie establishes that Walburga means the 11th earl, David Stanley William Ogilvy, born 1856 in Florence, son of 10th earl and his wife Henrietta née Stanley.   Career army officer.  He’d married in 1886 and had 6 children; his eldest son inherited the earldom at the age of 6.  At time of his death he’d been fighting in South Africa for a while and had already been badly wounded once.  He was killed during a battle at Diamond Hill Pretoria, leading his troops in a charge, on 11 June 1900.



Journal of the Society for Psychical Research volume 4 1889-90.  Published by the Society for members only.  On p65 issue of May 1889; a list of new associate members includes Lady Paget c/o The Embassy, Vienna.  Just noting p203 that even associate members have to be elected.  Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research volume XI 1895 p618 Lady Paget is still an associate member but now at Villa Bellosguardo Florence.  Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research volume XV 1900-01 p502 Lady Paget still an associate member at the Florence address.



I followed it through the Times from February 1903 to June 1904. 

A Monthly Magazine devoted to the interests of New York Athletic Club volume 12 1903 p20 describes looking down the list of members of the LAC as like reading an edition of Burke’s Peerage.

Good Housekeeping volume 38 1904 p343 names the Duchess of Marlborough as one of the the LAC’s members.


Via google I reached where there was a list of the members of LAC in that year.  Gabrielle was not on the list.

The Horseless Age volume 17 1906 p56 noted that the LAC had taken on an engineer to teach car mechanics, a Mr R Sedgewick Currie.  P604 the LAC’s members had a special day at the Crystal Palace Show in February 1904.

The Auto: The Motorist’s Pictorial volume 12 1907 p329 gave a description of Mr Sedgewick Currie’s classes and the car the students worked on.

Automobile Topics volume 16 1908 p1157 the LAC was already organising races for its members.

Royal Automobile Club Yearbook 1908 p1 lists member clubs, which include the LAC.  On p217 a note that you had to be elected to bec a member of LAC.

Gabrielle’s work during the war:

Times 11 December 1915 p11 an article with title ‘Increasing demand for women drivers’, as indicated by large number of adverts now appearing in the Times’ small ads for women who could drive and act as companion. 

Times 4 February 1916 p13 and 17 February 1916 p2 in small ads: adverts for driving courses at Gabrielle’s driving school, where she was the Principal.  There were no such adverts during the whole of 1917 but in Times 18 September 1918 p3 and 22 October 1918 p13, the advert does appear again.  A slightly different wording was published in Times 27 February 1918 p14a this time specifying a training in driving ambulances.

Woman’s Leader volume 10 1918 p58 and again p223: an advert for a course in driving motor ambulances: 10 lessons for 5guineas with “individual tuition” though the advert doesn’t say who will do the teaching.  The lessons will take place at “the Hon Gabrielle Borthwick’s workshops” at 8 Brick Street; there’s a telephone number, which wasn’t the case in the adverts in the Times.

Aeronautics volume 14 1918 p540 also has an advert for Gabrielle’s training courses.  This gives two addresses: Brick Street, and  87 Kinnerton Street Knightsbridge. 

Sketch: A Journal of Art and Actuality volume 115 number 1493 1921 p360 confirms that Gabrielle herself was able to strip down a car engine.



Via the web to The Common Cause issue of 3 May 1918 article: the women motor drivers TU.  This had been formed at the outset of World War 1 by Mrs Bernard Drake; “the Hon Gabrielle Borthwick, of the Borthwick garage”; Miss McLaren; Miss Tynan, who had experience of trade union organisation; and Mrs Chettle who became its first Secretary.

Via the web to Women’s Leader volume 10 1918 p145 refers to 58 Victoria Street as the headquarters of the Women’s Service Bureau and of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage.


Women in Trade Unions by Barbara Drake.  Saw one via from Cornell Univ’s library but couldn’t find a date of publication on it; though all research ended with 1918.  It’s TU Series no 6, published jointly by the Labour Research Department of 34 Eccleston Square; and George Allen and Unwin.  Couldnt find a page number for this but somewhere in the text it says that the women motor drivers’ union was formed by the London Society for Women’s Suffrage.

Barbara Drake is Mrs Bernard Drake; Bernard Drake is Beatrice Webb’s nephew: all quite clearly stated in a letter from Sidney Webb to John Maynard Keynes dated 6 Dec 1930.  In The Letters of Sidney and Beatrice Webb volume 3, ed Norman Mackenzie, published 2008.


Modern sources on early women motorists:

Eat My Dust: Early Women Motorists by Georgine Classen.  Johns Hopkins University Press 2008.  Gabrielle is the only GD member mentioned in this book. 

Dictionary of British Women’s Organisations 1825-1960 Peter Gordon and David Doughan 2005 On p70 this books states that the LAC was founded because the RAC had decided that it wouldn’t have women as members.  The LAC was formed by a group of women led by Lady Cecil Scott Montague and had a number of objectives: to fund and find a place where women drivers could meet; to help women drivers get the necessary technical skills and experience; to provide driving lessons; to organise touring and competitions; and to help women obtain the necessary papers to drive abroad.


Via the web to The Car and British Society by Sean P O’Connell.  Published Manchester 1998: Manchester University Press p48 the meeting that led to founding of LAC was held in April 1903 and only 17 women were present at it.  However, by 1909 the LAC had 400 members.  (Unlike the RAC) the AA always has allowed women to be members.


Wikipedia: a system of mind-training popular in the first half of 20th century.  Devised in the UK and taught by the Pelman Institute of London through correspondence courses.  Pelman training can be seen as a mind-equivalent of physical training; it was claimed it would get rid of forgetfulness, depression, phobias etc.


Website is run by a descendant of William Joseph Ennever who developed the Pelman system though the name comes from a man claiming to be Christopher Louis Pelman, who is generally thought to have put together the actual course by which the system was taught.  Very little is known about Pelman.  A suggestion made by this site is that he was American but he might also have been German, with his surname originally spelled Poehlman or Pöhlman. 


Ennever’s Pelman course was probably launched in 1900 and in 1901 the School of Memory Training was listed at 70 Berners St, the same house that Ennever’s wife was living in.  The Institute’s office was at 4 Bloomsbury Street until the 1920s.  In 1930s it was at Adam House, Strand. 


These people were listed by as using the Pelman system: Herbert Asquith the Liberal Prime Minister; Baden-Powell founder of the scouts movement; H Rider Haggard, author of She; and others, mostly men but also including the composer Ethel Smyth.


Pelman training was especially popular between the world wars but even survived Ennever’s bankruptcy which happened in 1940; the last ads for the training that the website could find were from 1967.  Some good illustrations on this website.


The Accountant volume 62 1920 p82 advert for an evening meeting due at the Pelman Institute on 15 April [1920]: a talk on the Pelman system would be given by the Institute’s Director of Instruction, T Sharper Knowlson; followed by a discussion.  Gabrielle Borthwick would be chairing the meeting.  Woman’s Leader volume 12 1920 p191 has the same advert.



At //, website of the Worshipful Company of Turners; and entry for her in their page ‘Turners of the Victorian Era’: Lady Gertrude Crawford 1868-1937, daughter of the 4th Earl of Sefton. Both the fourth and third earls were expert turners, using ivory - a collection of pieces they made is still on show at Croxteth Hall.  Gertrude’s father bought her her first lathe when she was 2!  He and his father both used Holtzapffel lathes and in 1897, Lady Gertrude commssioned her own lathe from Holtzapffel - the firm’s number 2332 which is now at Croxteth Hall.  Lady Gertrude moved to live in London on her marriage.  She had received several awards for her turning already, and in 1907 she was made a Freeman of the Company as John Halket Crawford’s wife.  She later won the Company’s silver medal, and then its gold medal, for her work.  In 1923, G A Grace’s Ornamental Turning Design featured illustrations of 10 items by Lady Gertrude.  In 1929 she organised an exhibition of her own work at Leighton House; some items were for sale.  This exhibition was covered in the magazine English Mechanic.  Gertrude had an article on her work in Society of Ornamental Turners Bulletins 88.  The Company of Turners created the Gertrude Crawford medal in her honour. 


Times Sat 27 April 1907 p11 Court Circular issued Marlborough House 26 April [1907].  Gertrude Eleanor wife of Captain John Halket Crawford of 32nd Lancers Indian Army had been admitted to the freedom of the Turners’ Company “yesterday” as a “skilled amateur”.  She was a frequent exhibitor with the Company.  Just noting that Angela Burdett-Coutts had also been a member of the Company.  Gertrude made a speech of acceptance saying that her father had taught her her skills; he’d been an “enthusiastic amateur”.  The ceremony was at the Guildhall.


Via web I came across a book for sale: Original Patent Application Number 4169... pubd HMSO 1898; it’s a patent owned by Lady Gertrude for improvements to the design of the pocket knife.

List of the Fellows...of the Zoological Society of London issued 1922 by the Society; p39 Gertrude Eleanor Crawford is a Fellow; elected 1900. 

List of the Fellows...of the Zoological Society of London issued 1926 by the Society; p49 Gertrude is still a Fellow.



At Gertrude Eleanor Molyneux married John Halket Crawford on 25 April 1905.  There’s no indication that they had any children.  He died 23 September 1936; she died 5 November 1937.

Visitation of England and Wales volume 17, privately printed 1911; by Joseph Jackson Howard.  On pxxxiv report of the marriage of John Halket Crawford to Gertrude Molyneux 25 April 1905.  Crawford was a Captain in the 31st Lancers, Indian Army at the time.

Times Sat 26 Sep 1936 p1 death notices: John Halket Crawford had died “On September 23 1936 at Dieppe”.  He was the eldest son of John Thomson Crawford BCS.


Times Mon 8 Nov 1937 p19 Gertrude Crawford had died in Lymington Hospital “on Friday”.  She had been the wife Lieutenant-Colonel John Halket Crawford; and daughter of the 4th Earl of Sefton.  In 1918 she had became the first ever Chief Commandant of the Women’s Royal Air Force.  She had been known as an “amateur wood turner”.  In 1915 the Turners’ Co had given her a special badge to commemorate her work as an amateur turner and her “patriotic efforts in supervising the manufacture of munitions”.  Her work as a turner had been “distinguished by ingenuity and discovering new possibilities of the lathe and tools”.  She’d been given the freedom of the City of London in 1934.

At her death she was still preparing to show her work: Times Tue 9 November 1937 p13: Gertrude Crawford had got a stall of her work at the 15th Annual Exhibition of Applied Arts and Crafts which had opened “yesterday” at the Royal Horticultural Halls Westminster.  She was the “only woman master turner”.  More coverage of her work appeared in Times Wed 10 November 1937 p16: she worked in wood, ivory and plastic.  Times described Gertrude as a “sound craftswoman” though “a little inclined to over-elaborate”. 

Times 24 December 1937 an advert for Gertrude’s house, Coxhill near Lymington, now up for sale.


WITH GABRIELLE’S GARAGE ONE THING LED TO ANOTHER: via to Launceston Examiner Tue 6 May 1924 p7 short item saying that Gabrielle and Lady Gertrude Cochrane, sister of Lord Sefton, were in business together.  They had been running a garage at Piccadilly, a restaurant and a hostel; and now they were setting up as estate agents.  Gabrielle was described in the article as, “A qualified engineer”.  Gertrude was a master turner and freeman of the Turners’ Company.

NB the Launceston Examiner has got Lady Gertrude’s surname wrong: the woman who fits the description as a master turner and sister of the Earl of Sefton is Lady Gertrude CRAWFORD.



The only other references I found for the businesses run by Gabrielle and Lady Gertrude were these:

RAC Guide and Handbook for 1927 p50 has an advert for The Borthwick Garages.


The World’s Carriers and Carrying Trades’ Review pubd 1925 by the Carriers Pubg Co; p132 notice about Borthwick Garages ltd: Sir William H Peat of 11 Ironmonger Lane had been appointed Receiver and Manager by a court order issued 26 November 1924.


Gabrielle and Lady Gertrude seem to have staved that one off but in 1927:

London Gazette 18 March 1927 p1845 a set of winding-up petitions issued under the Companies Acts 1908-17 includes one issued 15 March 1927 for The Borthwick Garages Ltd of 8 Brick St.

London Gazette 24 May 1927 p3435 winding-up orders under the Companies Acts 1908-17; re The Borthwick Garages Ltd of 8 Brick Street.  The first meeting of the firm’s creditors would take place on  2 June 1927 at 33 Carey St L Inn.

London Gazette 14 Aug 1928 p5496 Notices of Release of Liquidator: the list includes a Notice for Borthwick Garages Ltd, registered office 8 Brick Street Piccadilly.  This company was released 18 July 1928 by the liquidator George Digby Pepys of 33 Carey Street Lincoln’s Inn.

London Gazette 13 March 1931 p1727 and again London Gazette 16 June 1931 p3922.  Both under the Companies Act 1929 Section 295(5): long lists of companies recently dissolved, including Borthwick Garages Ltd.

Sent to me by Nina Baker in her email of 7 Nov 2016: list of items at the National Archives concerning the winding up of Borthwick Garages Ltd, company reference number 150653.  Incorporated 1918.  Document references J 13/11308; J 107/39; BT 34/4281/150563 the liquidator’s accounts; and BT 31/24082/150563.



Items sent in November and December 2016 by Nina Baker PhD who researches the history of engineering and runs the occasional blog Women in Engineering History: 

- extract from The Woman Engineer volume 1 number 17 1923 p280: profile of Cleone Griff.

- London Gazette 29 Dec 1925 p8674 re the winding-up meeting.

- items now at the National Archives concerning the winding-up of the company: list of shareholders with their addresses and the number of shares they owned; and a list of the company’s directors - Cleone, Lady Gertrude and Gabrielle who was described as a “motor car business proprietor” (though Lady Gertrude wasn’t). 


And a couple of items I found:

Via to the Albuquerque Journal of New Mexico Sunday 2 December 1923 p9 a photo of Cleone Griff dressed as a pilot; and as Managing Director of the Stainless and Non-Corrosive Metal (sic) Co ltd of GB, which had what was thought to be the only all-woman board of directors in the world.

At, a short reference to the Company in Commercial Motor 8 September 1925 announcing its new address - 149 Sherborne Street Birmingham.  Its expanded range of products would include stainless steel castings and pressings, particularly suitable for car dashboards.

A modern reference to Cleone Griff, in Women, A Modern Political Dictionary by Cheryl Law.  2000 London: I B Tauris: p70




Sent by email 9 Nov 2016 by Nina Baker.  From The Woman Engineer vol 3 issue 1 1929 p4:

The Women's Automobile and Sports

Association.  An interesting new Club has been formed, with headquarters at St. Ermin 's Hotel, Westminster, to promote women's interest in automobile and sports events. The President is the

Most Hon. the Marchioness of Carisbrooke, and the Vice-President the Viscountess Elibank. We

are pleased to see that Miss Borthwick has been elected Chairman of the Executive Committee.

Full particulars of the Club can be obtained rom the Secretary, Mrs. Waldemar Leverton, St. Ermin's, Westminster. This Association is responsible for the first girl road scout, Miss Grace New, who made her appearance recently on the roads. It also organised the first Women's Classic Motor Trial London-Exeter-London.

Follow up WASA:

Times didn’t have anything on a rally f cars orgd by the Wood Green and Dist MC but on Tue 11 Jan 1927 p12 there was a short rpt on their wmn-only motorcycle trial, through Herts.  There were 50 competitors; some were named but no mention of Gabrielle or Benest/Griff.

Times nothing on the setting up of WASA but Times Wed 6 Nov 1929 p17 in the Arrgts f To-day section of the Ct Circr page: annct of the inaugural dinner of WASA at the St Ermin’s Hotel 8pm.

Wiki on St Ermin’s Hotel wh still exists, horseshoe shaped bldg at 2 Caxton St W/m.  Orig built as a block of flats 1880s converted to a hotel reopening 1899.  Long assoc w MI5 and MI6.

Times Wed 4 Dec 1929 p1 Personal Ads; in the Club Anncts section an ad f WASA “a club f sportswomen” but also offering hotel accomm.  The first 3000 members wldn’t be charged an “entry fee”.  Contact is the Sec.  Club already has a tel number.  Ad rptd in Times 9 Dec and 11 Dec 1929. 

From 1929 no coverage in Times of any event orgd by WASA. 

Times 2 Jan 1935 p13 had a ref to a wedding reception held in WASA’s hq at 17 Buckingham Palace Gdns ((so they’ve still got the bldg at that stage)).

Times 27 March 1935 p11 at the bottom of an article on events orgd to benefit the ((GV)) Jubilee Trust Fund: WASA Ltd (sic) wld be holding a motor gala w proceeds going to the Fund; on Sun 14 July.  Fur dtls wld be avail 8 April [1935].  Lord Rothermere had donated 50gns to get the prize fund started.  After that, Times had no fur coverage of it.  Next mention of WASA was:

Times Fri 22 Nov 1935 p17 Court Circr: Vcts Elibank wld preside at the annual dinner of WASA on “Tues” [26 Nov 1935] at the Savoy Hotel ((perhaps Elibank is the pres now)).  The year’s trial prizes wld be pres’d at the dinner, incl the Lord Wakefield Trophy.  No coverage of the actual event.


Via to issues of Motorsport in which WASA figured.  I searched f Borthwick but all responses were men; searching f Gabrielle got no responses.  Issues of:

December 1931 p32 WASA members were eligible to compete in the 21st London to Gloucester trial.

July 1932 p10. 

April 1934 p34 descg WASA’s trials as “well-orgd”. 

Dec 1935 p17

Aug 1937 p24 WASA did allow men into some but n all of their Wakefield Trophy trials.

Aug 1938 p20 another mention of the Wakefield Trophy named after Lord Wakefield of Hythe.  WASA’s 3 trials per year were consid the “most difficult” trials competitions.

And a mod take on it:

April 1996 p76 by “WB” who mentiond sevl drivers at the time thinking that WASA putting its own scouts out on the road was “overambitious”.  The Wood Green and Dist Motor Club ran a trial f wmn in Jan 1927: Ally Pally to tring in a set time; lunch; then back again.  No mention of any of WASA’s first-year officers in the a/c of that trial but the formn of WASA was a direct res of it.  WASA’s first compv event was a night drive from Slough to Exeter and then back to Basingstoke; some of the navigators were men.  In 1930 there was a trial to Land’s End; and trials at Montlhery in France and at Brooklands.  WASA took part in inter-club racing at Brooklands; some of the team members named in the article - not Gabrielle.  WASA did a Welsh trial bsd round Llandrindod Wells wh was regarded as partic chall.  In 1935 WASA held a gala at Hurl Club as part of King’s Jubilee. 

End Motorsport mag


WASA’s first-year officers:

Pres Mcs Carisbrooke who’s a ?niece ?gt-niece of Albertina Herbert:

Wkp on the only Mqs of Carisbrooke, title cr 1917 f P Alexander of Battenberg 1886-1960, gson of QV via her ygt dtr Ps Beatrice; his sister marr Alfonso of Spain.  Surname change July 1917 to Mountbatten.  Marr July 1917 Irene Francis Adza Denison 1890-1956 only dtr of 2nd E of Londesborough.  They had 1 child, Iris, 1920-1982 but Cecil Beaton’s diaries allege that the Mqs had a long-term male lover.  The Mqs was the first member of the royal family to do a proper day’s work: starting in the offices of Lazard Brothers. 

V-pres Vcts Elibank.  Wkp on the viscounts Elibank.  Viscountcy cr 1911 f a man who was already a baron; old Scottish title.  WASA’s vcts is wife of the 2nd Vct: Gideon Oliphant-Murray 1877-1951; colonial cvl serv; unionist MP to 1922.  V conserv; v implt.  Marr 1908 Ermine M K Aspinwall née Madocks.  No child.  They moved to S Africa 1950 and he d there 1951.

At item X121207 is a photo of Vcts Elibank tkn 1948 at Bassano and Vandyk.  She d 1955. 

Sec Mrs Waldemar Leverton.  Cldn’t see m abt her or indeed abt him via google - no dates, no wkp page.  Google had books incl a copy of her The Veg Cookery Book pubd George Newnes Ltd; no pubn date.

BL catal had others but n that one.  Her name’s Edith:

Little Economies and How to Practice Them.  C Arthur Pearson Ltd 1903

Small Homes and How to Furnish Them.  C Arthur Pearson Ltd 1903

Little Entertainments and How to Manage Them.  C Arthur Pearson Ltd 1904

In entry f mag The World of Dress, pubd 1898-1905 by C Arthur Pearson Ltd she’s listed as the editor of its last volume; but there’s a diff name editing the first few vols. 

Dressmaking Made Easy.  London: George Newnes 1910

Housekeeping Made Easy.  Subtitle states it’s aimed at the m-c mistress of h/h.  London: George Newnes 1910

Servants and their Duties.  A Helpful Manual for Mistress and Servant.  London: C Arthur Pearson Ltd 1912

Modern: Women, Clubs and Assocs in Britain by David Doughan and Peter Gordon 2007.  In section Sporting Clubs p81 it’s mentioned in their a/c of the Wmn’s Billiards Assoc, founded 1931.  Its first Pres was Vcts Elibank; v-chair Teresa Billington-Greig.  Had its hq at 17 Buckingham Palace Gdns SW1 courtesy of WASA.  NB that’s the only ref to WASA in the book.  At, item added 6 Nov 2016 on WASA.  Anon; no sources.  Lots of names of participants but I cldn’t see any ref to Gabrielle in the a/cs of the trials.  WASA was founded fllwg the success of the Wood Green and Dist wmn-only trial of early 1927.  The first event staged by WASA was in 1929: Exeter, w 38 cars and 17 all-wmn crews ((driver and car mech)).  1930 trial to Land’s End staged by WASA.  The WASA trophy (pictured on the site) was awarded at least up to 1938; but WASA didn’t get started again after WW2. 




Probate registry: Gabrielle Margaret Ariana Borthwick of Wickhurst, Broadbridge Heath Sussex, spinster, died on 10 October 1952.  Probate granted at the London office on 9 January 1953 to Teresa Mary Cecilia Muckleston, married woman, and Mary Charman, spinster.  Effects £10589/10/7.

London Gazette 27 February 1953 p1208.  As sent to the web, the page doesn’t say what list this is, but I can tell from experience with other GD members that it’s a list of people lately dead who had an income from a trust fund.  The people are listed in accordance with the Trustee Act 1925 as part of the winding-up of the dead person’s estate.  The list includes Gabrielle Borthwick. Interested parties were to contact Eager and Sons solicitors of 8 North Street Horsham; who were acting for Teresa Mary Cecilia Muckleston and Mary Charman. 



At there’s a page for the Healy family.  Teresa Mary Cecilia Healy is 1893-1973; she married 1919 Bertram Brookes Muckleston 1888-1983 - marriage details from freebmd.

Via to the Air Force List for July 1941.  On p7 a B B Muckleston is working in the Department of the Permanent Under-Secretary; he is not on active duty.


A Complete Memoir of Richard Haines... by Charles Reginald Haines, published 1899 pxxi describes the Charman or Carman family as “an old and important clan in the neighbourhood of Horsham, Warnham and Shinfold”.

At an article from Tue 10 April 2012 about Mike Holmwood, who had traced his family history back to the 16th cent and discovered people called Charman in it.  A John James Charman had gone down with the Titanic (April 1912) aged 26; he was a son of Solomon and Mary Charman who lived in the Gardner’s Cottage, Pondtail Road Horsham. 


Times 3 March 1953 p14e in set of adverts for forthcoming sales at Christies: some jewellery once owned by Gabrielle Borthwick was part of a bigger sale of such items; they were being sold by her executrices.



At there’s a portrait of her done by Bassano on 5 September 1921.  NPG x121152.

Wikipedia on Bassano.  The firm was started by Alexander Bassano 1829-1913, born London of Italian extraction.  He opened his first photography studio in Regent Street in 1850 and bec THE society photographer at that and various other addresses.  His main studio was at 25 Old Bond Street from 1876 to 1921; during 1921 it moved to 38 Dover Street.  Many of Bassano’s company’s original glass plates are now held by the National Portrait Gallery so Gabrielle’s photograph at their website must be one of those. 

Confirmation that Gabrielle’s photo is in the Bassano archives: at //, there’s a list of their collection of photos of society figures taken by Bassano Ltd between 1920 and 1939.  The photograph of Gabrielle Borthwick is in the collection’s Box 3.  The list doesn’t include dates for any of the photographs in it.

A couple of Gabrielle, and several of the garage including her working on an engine: at

-           number 1067006 is Hon G M A Borthwick School of Motoring and Engineering, Piccadilly London.  Showing 3 women removing a car axle.

At // file number 1067012

-           a photo of Gabrielle posing with her Great Dane.  The website suggests the photograph is from the 1920s or 1930s but her dress is nearly to her ankles and her hair is long and done up Edwardian style, so I think it must be earlier.  She’s standing in an empty side-street, between imposing looking stone walls.  I think she must be near her School of Motoring therefore it’s probably Brick Street Piccadilly.  She’s wearing the same dress/overall in the photograph below:


-           She’s leaning over a car engine, watched by 2 other women also in grubby overalls - probably trainees.





14 May 2017


Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: