Golden Dawn members Sidney Coryn and Herbert Coryn were brothers. Their sister-in-law Jessie Horne (Sidney’s wife’s sister) also joined the GD but I believe she did not stay long. I was going to put all three of them in the same file, but I had so much to say on Herbert alone that they’re now in separate files.
Dr Herbert Alfred William Coryn, Sidney’s elder brother, was the last of the three to become a member, being initiated in August 1893; the GD’s administrative records say that he resigned, but don’t give a date (I suggest one below). All three were committed theosophists.
Three years later: update September 2016. Having fixed Herbert Coryn in my mind as a convinced theosophist, I was very surprised indeed, a few weeks ago, to find his name in a list of members of a Mark Masonry lodge. I’ve added a short section on Herbert Coryn as a freemason.
In March 2013 I keyed ‘Herbert Coryn’ into google. Amongst the list of responses were two photographs of Herbert.
THE CORIN FAMILY
The Corin family came from the far west of Cornwall. There’s a thorough and well laid-out family history website at //hectordavie.Ch/Corin/Corin_L.html, which shows that the Corins ran shops and other small businesses; and that the two names ‘William John’ were traditional in the family. Herbert and Sidney’s father grandfather William John Corin, was born in 1813 and married (in 1837) Jane Glasson, the daughter of a man who ran a shop selling groceries, china and earthenware. Herbert and Sidney’s father, also William John Corin (with an ‘I’ at this stage) was their eldest child, born in 1838.
William John Corin born in 1838 qualified as a doctor, almost certainly by the traditional method of being apprenticed to a general practitioner. In 1860, after serving his apprenticeship, William John Corin was issued with a licence to practice by the Society of Apothecaries. In 1871 William John Corin had an apprentice of his own, but by the 1870s, university teaching, exams and letters after your name had replaced learning on the job, so that William John’s eldest son qualified as a doctor in a very different way. In 1861 William John Corin (born 1838) married Mary Jenkin, whose father is thought by the hectordavie website to have been a mine owner. They married at the baptist chapel in Redruth and had the large family typical of mid-Victorian England (actually it wasn’t as large as some of that period): Ida born 1862; Herbert born 1863; Sidney born 1865; Edgar born 1866; Frances born 1868; and three other children who died as infants. I note that William John and Mary Corin did not call any of their sons ‘William John’. This was not their only break with the past.
In the late 1860s William John and Mary were living at Gwennap, a village between Redruth and Penryn, and the hectordavie website suggests that William John may have worked as a doctor at his father-in-law’s mine for a few years. However, by 1871 they had moved to Church Street Liskeard and William John Corin was in business as a GP in the town. On the day of the 1871 census William John and Mary’s household was a large one, including an assistant doctor and the apprentice in addition to the children; and a cook and one housemaid.
The normal practice for a GP is to stay in one place, in the same practice, for life; but at some time in the 1870s (the hectordavie website says 1876) William John Corin moved his family to London, setting up in practice as a surgeon (rather than a doctor) in Brixton. And it seems to have been as part of the move to London that he changed the spelling of his surname to CorYn with a ‘y’, a spelling used from then on by all his children. On the day of the 1881 census the Coryns were living at 68 Acre Lane Stockwell; William John and Mary, and other members of the family, continued to live in the Brixton/Stockwell area until the 1900s. Herbert by this time was studying medicine at University College London; perhaps it was to open up new educational opportunities for their children that William John and Mary had taken the big decision to leave Cornwall. There was more work available in London, too: Ida and Sidney had left school and had both found work. Ida was a governess. The 1870 Education Act was being rolled out gradually in London so she could have been teaching in a school; but at this stage she could also have been employed by a family to teach its daughters and young sons at home, going to their house each day while still living with her parents. Sidney was a clerk in a business (no more details as to where, but possibly in the City). Edgar and Frances were still at school. William John’s unmarried sister-in-law Sarah Perkins was living with them; so too was a cousin from Cornwall, Frederick Abbott, while he studied medicine; and the Coryns employed two servants, probably a cook and a general maid though their daily tasks were not specified.
I am presuming that - seeing they married in a Baptist chapel - both William John and Mary Corin were from Baptist families. However, their children Herbert, Sidney and Frances all became very active theosophists, Herbert and Frances even making theosophy their life’s work. You could - people did - attempt to combine Christianity with theosophy, but the main sources of theosophical ideas are eastern. The involvement of Herbert, Sidney and Frances does argue a moving away from the old Christian certainties; which was typical of people of their generation, the generation that grew up (as it were) with Darwin.
HERBERT ALFRED WILLIAM CORYN
Herbert was licensed to practice medicine by the Society of Apothecaries in 1888 and became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1889. However, it’s been difficult to find out whether he ever worked as a doctor in England, as he was never registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). You didn’t have to be, if all you were intending to do was go into general practice, but the GMC records have been my best source for the qualifications and working lives of the Golden Dawn’s doctors. Herbert’s obituary says that he worked for a few years in his father’s practice in south London. I’m sure he didn’t shirk his duties there but already the main thrust of his time and effort was concentrated not on medicine but on the study of theosophy. According to a talk given in 1998, Herbert had been an agnostic until he came across a copy of A P Sinnett’s The Occult World (which he must only have found several years after it had been published). Reading the book caused him to undergo an almost instantaneous conversion to all that it was arguing. However, he didn’t seek out Alfred Sinnett; he went straight to the top, and got an introduction to Helen Petrovna Blavatsky. He became a member of the Theosophical Society on 7 February 1889.
Herbert didn’t see spirituality and medicine as occupying completely separate areas of his life. Like many other GD members, particularly its doctor-members, he had an interest in the power of the mind to affect the health of the body. The connection between morality and health is something that the 21st century finds harder to appreciate, but it was an important feature of health campaigning in the 19th. In 1886, while still an undergraduate, Herbert had attracted wider notice when his essay, The Moral and Physical Advantages of Total Abstinence, had won a prize at the National Temperance Society and been published by the Society as a pamphlet. The importance of total abstinence for physical and mental health was something he continued to believe in. In the early 1890s he wrote an article on subject specially for teetotallers in the Theosophical Society - Theosophy and the Alcohol Question - to help them argue their case against the TS’s alcohol-drinking members; in Herbert’s view, drinking alcohol hindered the development of the Soul.
The importance of the Theosophical Society as a recruiting ground for the Golden Dawn can’t be overstated. Here I’ll just say that the Coryns were some of the TS’s most active members in the late 1880s and early 1890s, a period when the TS had a great influx of new members: they helped found several new lodges, they put forward their friends for membership, they wrote articles, they gave talks on theosophical philosophy, they attended conferences and Herbert got elected to committees. Sidney gave more lectures; Herbert did more writing. Sidney and Herbert were also willing - as few theosophists were willing - to take theosophy to the public at large, by giving lectures to non-theosophist audiences and writing about it in the papers (usually correcting mis-assumptions about what it was). Herbert, Frances and Sidney all joined the Theosophical Society together, in 1889 and by 1890, Herbert was being seen as one of the TS’s young stars-in-the-making, being welcomed into the inner circle (of about 12 people) who were taught personally by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. He was also a member of the TS’s (rather short-lived) Esoteric Section, again something presided over by Blavatsky personally. The Esoteric Section was the only part of the TS that studied the western occult tradition. I’ve never found a list of its members but I’m sure that William Wynn Westcott was one of them - it was just the sort of group he would be a member of. As Westcott was one of the Golden Dawn’s founders, it was only a very short walk from the one group to the other, and I think several of the TS’s Esoteric Section made it. They included Percy Bullock, with whom Herbert worked on the pamphlet Egyptian Belief Theosophically Considered, published in 1893.
It was through Herbert Coryn’s privileged position in the TS that the existence of what should have been a third volume of Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine became known many years after she had died. Herbert told a friend about seeing the manuscript of it on Blavatsky’s desk one day. (Not everybody in the TS was allowed to go into Blavatsky’s study.) The third volume was left out of the book as published, and by the time Herbert talked of having seen the preparation work for it, the papers had already disappeared.
Another member of Blavatsky’s select group - who were often referred to in the TS as her disciples - was the engineer Frederick J Dick, who came to Blavatsky’s notice despite living and working in Dublin. He and Herbert struck up a friendship that lasted the rest of their lives; involved them working together as editors and producers of several theosophical journals; and culminated some time before 1920 (I can’t find an exact date) in Frederick marrying Herbert’s sister Frances.
In the years after Blavatsky’s death in 1891, a struggle broke out for control of the Theosophical Society, between the English Annie Besant, favoured candidate of the TS’s co-founder, Colonel Olcott; and the American William Quan Judge. Although other issues were involved, the debate focused on Judge’s claims that since Blavatsky’s death, her Mahatmas had started communicating with him; claims that offended the many TS members. The TS split in two: the TS’s worldwide headquarters in England supported Besant and attempted to impose sanctions on Judge; but the American TS declared itself independent, and most lodges in Europe tended to favour Judge. In England, very many individual members resigned as the dispute raged, and most never returned; a lot of the lodges founded in the early 1890s - the period of TS’s greatest expansion - shut down for lack of members.
The reason I’ve given these details of the power struggle in the TS is that the Coryn family all supported Judge. Though Frances didn’t take any active part in the increasingly bitter debate, Sidney and Herbert were vocal champions of Judge’s rights to communicate with Blavatsky’s Mahatmas and to continue in his posts (to which he had been elected) in the TS in the USA and Europe. They criticised publically (that is, publically within theosophy) the attitude towards him taken by the TS worldwide’s hierarchy. Herbert and B Keightley (A Keightley’s brother, I think) wrote to the TS worldwide’s magazine Lucifer making out Judge’s case and demanding that their letters be published in full; I imagine Herbert was annoyed to find the editor, G R S Mead, refusing to do this or make a response in Lucifer, preferring to answer their criticisms in The Vahan, the TS European Section’s in-house magazine which was of course much less widely-read.
Herbert, Frances and Sidney all resigned from the TS worldwide in 1895 over its handling of the Judge affair, though Frances seems to have had second thoughts, and rejoined, a few years later. I can think of several reasons why they might have decided that they didn’t want to be members any longer: but the one that seems to have mattered most to Herbert was the way the dispute exposed the inability of theosophists to rise above their all-too-human failings to seek out common ground. The divisions in theosophy went right to the top: according to Alice Leighton Cleather, she herself, Herbert, and Dr Archibald Keightley were “a minority of three” amongst Blavatsky’s old inner group who “declined to follow Mrs Besant’s lead” (though Keightley, in the end, decided not to resign). I presume some of Herbert’s friendships came to an end over it all and I suggest that he decided to have nothing further to do with the Golden Dawn when he discovered that William Wynn Westcott was amongst senior members of the TS in England who condemned Judge’s claims and actions.
Herbert and Sidney were still members of the TS’s European Section at least up until its tumultuous annual conference of July 1895, when Judge was called upon to make his case to its members which of course included the TS worldwide hierarchy. Herbert was re-elected to the TS European Section’s governing committee; and so was William Wynn Westcott; but newly elected members included some of Mrs Besant’s strongest supporters so the odds at the end of the conference were stacked against Judge. Judge’s supporters did force the TS worldwide to elect a committee to look at the need for changes to its consititution, and Herbert was elected to that; but I can’t find, from Lucifer or any other theosophical magazine, any evidence of revisions to the existing constitution; and over the next year or so Herbert must gradually have realised that Mrs Besant and her supporters had no desire to make any changes.
Earlier in 1895, theosophical lodges in the United States, formerly part of TS worldwide and ruled from London, had held a conference of their own and had shown where their loyalties lay by voting to split from the TS worldwide under Judge’s leadership. Judge died in 1896 but the split in the TS was not healed. Instead, a new player rose to prominence in the USA, Katherine Tingley. In 1896 she led a group of American theosophists on a world lecture tour, spreading the word of theosophy as universal brotherhood, and asking for money to set up a theosophical community on land she and her backers were negotiating to buy at Point Loma, just outside San Diego in California. Herbert Coryn attended two public meetings during the part of Tingley’s tour that covered England - one in Liverpool and one in London where he gave a farewell address to the group. Although I haven’t been able to find any information on how the tour was organised, I’m fairly sure Herbert Coryn was actively involved in the arrangements.
Universal brotherhood was what Herbert Coryn had wanted and expected from theosophy. I think that during the next couple of years he waited - probably anxiously - to see whether it would establish itself in England. He also found a possible alternative.
I first came across Herbert Coryn as a freemason while I was researching GD member Webster Glynes. It’s very clear from my researches that very few theosophists were freemasons; and vice versa. I had not expected to find Coryn in an 1898 list of current members of Bon Accord Mark Masonry Lodge; not only Coryn, but also his friends in theosophy Archibald Keightley and Basil Crump. You cannot be a Mark Mason unless you already are a member of a craft lodge; all three of them were noted down as members of craft lodge 452.
Craft lodge 452 was the Frederick Lodge of Unity, founded in 1838 and based at Croydon’s freemasons’ hall at 105 High Street. A list of members from 1883 didn’t have Herbert Coryn or his friends in it. It did have in it two men who subsequently joined the GD - Webster Glynes, who was one of the earliest members (1888); and Harold John Levett, who was initiated in 1895. 1883 is much too early for Herbert Coryn and his friends and I haven’t found any later publications from Frederick Lodge of Unity 452 to confirm the date they joined it. However, I think that they never thought of freemasonry as an option until the schism in world theosophy, and so were initiated as freemasons between 1895 and 1897, perhaps on the recommendation of Glynes or Levett; though Herbert Coryn at least had plenty of friends in Croydon, almost certainly including other members of 452.
In the mid to late-1890s two men linked Frederick Lodge of Unity 452 and Bon Accord Mark Masonry Lodge, as long-serving members of both: Charles M Ohren of Lower Sydenham, one of two brothers very active in south London freemasonry at the time; and Webster Glynes, who may have resigned from Bon Accord at around the time that Herbert Coryn joined it. Bon Accord lodge prided itself on its status as the first Mark Masonry lodge in England, founded in 1851. It met in the West End, at the Criterion Restaurant in Piccadilly; but in the 1890s its members tended to be City businessmen, including Glynes who was a solicitor with offices near the Tower of London. There’s no doubt about when Herbert Coryn joined this lodge: a lodge history has him and Archibald Keightley being ‘advanced’ as new members in December 1897. It’s not clear when Basil Crump was ‘advanced’, but his name too is on a list of lodge members as at September 1898.
Even while they were preparing to become Mark Master masons in Bon Accord lodge, it must have been obvious to Herbert Coryn, Archibald Keightley and Basil Crump that Universal Brotherhood was not taking root in England. Early in 1898 what I think was a decisive event for all three of them occurred in the USA: Katherine Tingley was elected leader-for-life of the TS in the United States, and a new constititution was adopted which put universal brotherhood at the centre of theosophical life there. Very soon after this, the TS’s European Section held its annual conference in London. Herbert Coryn had stayed as a member of the European Section despite all the trouble, and he was in a position of some influence there. As chairman of the committee which had prepared the list of conference resolutions, he master-minded the adoption by the TS European Section of the constitution just agreed in the USA. It included statement that William Quan Judge and Katherine Tingley - not Colonel Olcott and Mrs Besant - were Blavatsky’s true heirs in theosophy. A few months later - having burned his theosophical boats in London - Herbert Coryn emigrated to the United States. Keightley and Crump made the same choice.
Herbert Coryn landed at New York in July 1898. His name had gone before him, courtesy of his friend Basil Crump and his article ‘Mind as a Disease Producer’, which had been published in the English journal National Review in February 1898. In this article, Herbert put the same arguments that had appeared in his earlier TS pamphlet ‘Theosophy and the Alcohol Question’; this time, though, they were aimed at a wider audience. His emphasis on the connection between states of mind and illness in the liver and heart caught the attention of some American newspapers. It became Herbert’s most widely-known piece of writing, being reviewed in a variety of medical and other journals in America and Britain.
Herbert had gone to the USA to take up a new appointment, as physician-in-chief to the TS’s International Brotherhood League, based at the American TS’s headquarters at 144 Madison Avenue, New York City. However, he’d only been there a month or two when he was called upon to lead a charitable effort in time of war. War had been declared between the USA and Cuba and Katherine Tingley was leading a voluntary effort by TS members to give medical care and other aid to the US troops at Camp Wikoff, where there was an outbreak of fever. She needed doctors. Herbert was immediately put in charge of all the TS efforts in Cuba. While the volunteers were preparing to leave, he gave them lessons in first aid. When they arrived at Camp Wikoff, Herbert, Mrs Tingley and the volunteers set up a field hospital, and then Herbert did the diagnoses and prescribing while the other volunteers did the nursing and orderly-work. With only 60 beds the TS hospital was soon over-run. Mrs Tingley organised the raising of enough money to charter a ship to take as many cases as could travel, back to the US mainland for treatment there; but the field hospital continued in operation for several months.
In 1900 the American TS moved its headquarters from New York to Point Loma. Herbert was offered a job as resident doctor there. He spent the rest of his life at Point Loma and became a US citizen in 1911.
As well as his work as a general practitioner at Point Loma, Herbert probably was also employed at the hotel-cum-sanatorium founded by Dr Lorin Wood, another member of the community’s medical staff. There will have been other demands on Herbert’s time as well: as was typical of this kind of planned community, manual labour was seen as a philosophical discipline and everybody was expected to do some on a daily basis; time spent doing physical work was even in the time-table of Point Loma’s school. Although Point Loma had never been intended to be completely self-sufficient, the community had a farm and orchards and also kept bees. Point Loma residents did their own plumbing and carpentry, baking and pottery-making; they sold pottery, batik cloth and school uniforms, and ran printing and photography businesses. Besides the Raja Yoga school there was a music school (the Isis Conservatory) and a school of antiquities. Golden Dawn member William A Dunn arrived at Point Loma in 1902 and in 1904 became head of the Isis Conservatory. Frederick J Dick and his first wife Annie reached Point Loma in 1905; Frederick became a teacher at the school of antiquities.
The Point Loma community produced two magazines. The more widely-distributed was the Theosophical Path, to which Herbert sometimes contributed; for example in 1918, with an article he called Evolution and Involution: A Study in Biology. He also edited The New Way, which Katherine Tingley founded in 1911 to bring the message of universal brotherhood to prisons and hospitals.
Life at Point Loma wasn’t all work. It had a theatre; in 1923, Herbert played Socrates in a pageant-cum-symposium put on there.
Herbert also played his part in the defence of theosophy against attacks from outside. In 1901, opposition to the Point Loma community amongst Christian ministers working in the San Diego area was stirred up by an evening of talks given by Colonel Olcott. In August 1901, most of them (the Unitarian minister refused to join them) signed a letter to the local paper making complaints about the Point Loma community. The theosophists challenged the Christian ministers to debate the matter in public, and Herbert was chosen by Point Loma’s governing council to be one of those who spoke for them. The debates went on for several weeks and attracted so much local interest that the Fisher Opera House was hired for to stage them. I don’t know what the outcome of all this debate was; probably nobody changed their minds. And despite some people in San Diego regarding their theosophist neighbours with alarm, Point Loma’s residents were not shunned by the town: two sources I looked at said that Herbert Coryn became a freemason, belonging to a lodge in San Diego.
In due course (I can’t find an exact date) Herbert became a member of the committee that ran Point Loma. By the 1920s, the number of theosophists who had known Blavatsky personally was rapidly decreasing and Herbert, Frederick Dick and Frances (now Mrs Dick and also living at Point Loma) had a kind-of mystique about them amongst the other residents.
Herbert Coryn died on 7 November 1927, at the Burlingame Hospital in San Diego, of complications following a bout of pneumonia. He had never married. At his funeral a poem in his praise was read out. It had been composed by Kenneth Vennor Morris, the Welsh poet and fantasy writer, who had arrived at Point Loma in 1908. Kenneth and his brother Ronald had known Herbert in south London in the 1890s, when they had all been members of the TS. Ronald (but not Kenneth) had become a member of the Golden Dawn.
FRANCES CORYN AFTER 1895
As I mentioned above, Frances Coryn reassessed her decision to resign from the TS worldwide and by 1906 she was not only a member again but working at its headquarters at 19 Avenue Road St John’s Wood, as “Assistant Superintendent” (I’m inclined to think this was a voluntary, not a paid, post). In June 1906, she made a trip to the USA; I presume this was to visit her brothers, so that she will have spent time at Point Loma. She must have been impressed by life there, because some years later (I haven’t been able to find out exactly when) she moved there for good. By 1920 she had married Frederick J Dick. Frederick Dick died in 1927. I think Frances Dick was still living at Point Loma when Herbert Coryn died in 1928; but I don’t know what happened to her after that.
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; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; 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.
SOURCES FOR THE CORYN BROTHERS AND JESSIE HORNE
CORYN brothers: HERBERT and SIDNEY
//hectordavie.Ch/Corin/Corin_L.html gives a history of the Corin family, which originated in Cornwall. The spelling CorYn seems to have applied to their father only, and only when he moved from Cornwall to London. This website has a good lay-out of the family tree, very easy to follow. Forenames ‘William John’ occur very often in the family. Herbert’s grandfather also had the names William John; he was born in 1813 died in 1895 in Lambeth, presumably living with his son and grandchildren. In October 1837 he had married Jane Glasson from Hayle, whose father was a grocer and dealer in china and earthenware. They had at least 6 children. Herbert, Frances and Sidney’s father William John CorIn later CorYn, is their eldest, born 1838.
WILLIAM JOHN CORIN/CORYN as a GP/SURGEON
General Medical Council registers have his name in them only twice, only in Cornwall, and only as CorIn. The first time was 1867: address Rosehill, Gwennap, Cornwall; MRCS 1860; Licensed by the Society of Apothecaries 5 December 1860. The second time was in 1871 still at the Gwennap address. Herbert Coryn was never registered with the GMC though (see below) he was registered in the USA.
The herbertdavie website says that William John Corin/Coryn had moved to London by 1876; and that while living in Cornwall he had been active in local politics, as a Liberal Party member.
HERBERT AS A DOCTOR
Medical Times and Gazette volume 2 1882 p168 snippet showing Herbert at Charing Cross Hospital. I presume he was doing part of his training there.
Documents of the Senate of the State of New York volume 13 1901 p110 Herbert in a list of registered physicians.
Directory of Physicians and Surgeons...Holding Certificates Issued under the Medical Practice Acts of the State of California issue of 1926 p204 Herbert as MRCS 1889 and Licensed by the Society of Apothecaries 1888.
HERBERT EMIGRATES TO THE USA:
From www.findmypast’s outgoing passenger lists: Dr H Coryn travelled to New York from London on the Wilson-Hill Line’s Victoria, setting out on 29 June 1898.
OBITUARY in Point Loma’s magazine:
The Theosophical Path volume XXXIV January-June 1928. Published Point Loma California: New Century Corporation. Pp87-89 with a photograph and the full text of Kenneth Vennor Morris’ memorial poem.
KENNETH MORRIS IS RONALD VENNOR MORRIS’ BROTHER:
Lloyd Alexander, Evangeline Walton Ensley and Kenneth Morris: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography by Kenneth J Zahorski, Robert H Boyer. In the Masters of Science Fiction and Fantasy series. Boston Massachusetts: G K Hall and Co 1981. P163 Kenneth Vennor Morris was a teacher at Point Loma’s Raja Yoga College. P169 he had arrived at Point Loma in 1908; and p175 left it to return to Wales in January 1930.
HERBERT’S EDITING WORK ON THEOSOPHICAL JOURNALS
All the journals seem to have been rather short-lived affairs; and several times two probably ailing publications amalgamated and chose a new name. I’ve put together this list from details in the British Library catalogue and via google:
1 = The Irish Theosophist. BL has volume 1 number 1 to volume 5 number 12: 1892-97.
2 = Theosophic Isis. Only two volumes of this were ever published, in 1896 and 1897, and it seems to have been the idea and work of Herbert and Sidney Coryn. Although predominantly a theosophical magazine it also had articles by and about Golden Dawn members. At the website of the Theosophical Society Australia there are useful lists of articles published in theosophical magazines back to the 1880s, with their authors’ names if known, and some attempts to identify authors using a writing name or just initials. I got the list below from the austheos site:
Volume 1 1896 January Introductory editorial, by Herbert
Article by GD founder Samuel Liddell Mathers
April Obituary of William Quan Judge, by Sidney
Keep open the door, by Herbert
On the study of The Secret Doctrine, by Herbert
May Finding the Self Part I, by Herbert
July The Light of a new day, by Herbert; which I think must be Finding the Self Part II
September Finding the Self Part III, by Herbert
November Occultism in Medicine Part I, by Herbert
December Occultism in Medicine Part II, by Herbert
Volume 2 1897 January Occultism in Medicine Part III, by Herbert
Our opportunity, by Sidney
Some Persian Hymns, by F Coryn who I presume is Frances
Review by ‘P’ of SSDD’s Egyptian Magic.
SSDD is the short form of the GD motto of Florence Farr.
3 = The Grail. BL has volume 1 numbers 1-5: all 1897. Numbers 1-3 were edited by Herbert; 4 and 5 were edited by Basil Crump.
4 = The Internationalist which the BL describes as an amalgamation of the earlier journals the Irish Theosophist and The Grail. BL has volume 1 numbers 1-6: 1897-98. The editors of all six issues are Herbert; and G W Russell, the poet AE.
5 = The Crusader. A Supplement to ‘Ourselves’. This may not be a journal in itself, but a special issue of the journal The People’s Theosophic Monthly issued in 1897. I think Herbert was the editor of this magazine issue but when I requested it at the British Library (March 2013) it didn’t appear so I suppose it has been lost. ‘Crusaders’ was what Katherine Tingley and her 1896 group called themselves on their world tour; so I suppose the magazine was written to support her work. But of course, I haven’t seen it so that’s just a guess.
6 = The International Theosophist. BL has volume 1 number 1 to volume 6 number 9: 1898-1904. The editors were Herbert, and Frederick J Dick.
7 = International Theosophical Journal Devoted to the Brotherhood of Humanity. 1905. Herbert as co-editor with his brother Sidney, who by this time was also living in California.
SOME WORKS BY HERBERT IN Theosophical Siftings, which were collections of pamphlets, talks etc on theosophical themes already published elsewhere. Published: Theosophical Publishing Society, Adelphi, London.
Theosophical Siftings volumes 1-2 1888-90. There’s one work by Herbert in these volumes, one of two items originally published in the same pamphlet: Universal Brotherhood by Alexander Fullerton, originally read to a TS meeting in New York; The Scientific Basis of Occultism by Herbert Coryn.
Theosophical Siftings volumes 5-7 1892-95 has several works by Herbert:
1 = What is Prana?
2 = An Hour in Borderland Occultism. Originally published as pamphlet by the Theosophical Publishing Society in 1894. ‘Borderland’ was a spiritualist/theosophicall magazine edited by W T Stead.
3 = Theosophy and the Alcohol Question. In which Herbert puts the argument that consciousness is inevitably influenced by “bodily states”. He sees p2 alcohol as a “narcotic to every vital funcion”. It’s never a stimulant and it shouldn’t ever be called one. On p11 he ends by stating that consuming alcohol hinders the growth of the Soul.
4 = Devachan also known as ‘Heavenworld’ (the English translation of the Sanskrit word); originally published in Lucifer volume XV:
ARTICLES BY HERBERT CORYN IN LUCIFER, the magazine of TS worldwide
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine volume X March-August 1892, editor Annie Besant. In Volume X number 55 issue of 15 March 1892 pp35-42 article by Herbert Coryn as FTS and MRCS: The Eternal Cell. Herbert argued that understanding The Secret Doctrine was easier if you had some knowledge of current theories of Biology, which - he said - “get constantly nearer the teachings of Occultism”. He gave a quick survey of current methods of species classification. A nice example of how Herbert saw the physical body he was trained to heal, and theosophy, as linked.
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume XI number 63 issued 15 November 1892 pp243-45 an article by Herbert: The Light of Haeckelianism, in which he discussed the esoteric works of Professor Ernst Haeckel, normally a biologist but also a writer on Monism.
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume XV September 1894-February 1895 joint editors Annie Besant and G R S Mead. Herbert Coryn’s series Heavenworld (an English translation of the Sanskrit word Devachan) appeared in this volume in three parts:
Part I in volume XV number 87 issued 15 November 1894 pp230-41 Heavenworld - an introduction to Herbert’s ideas.
Part II in volume XV number 88 issued 15 December 1894 pp291-96 Heavenworld - what happened to the ego and soul after death.
Part III in volume XV number 89 issued 15 January 1895 pp365-71 Heavenworld as not so much a place, more a state of being without suffering.
‘Heavenworld’ was the last article Herbert had published in Lucifer.
THEOSOPHICAL PAMPHLETS AND ARTICLES
Universal Brotherhood by Alexander Fullerton and Herbert Coryn. Pamphlet published 1889. Later published in Theosophical Siftings volumes 1-2 see above.
Man, His Origin and Evolution 189[?] by Herbert Coryn and George Spencer.
Egyptian Belief Theosophically Considered by P W Bullock and Herbert Coryn 1893.
Devachan, or The Heavenworld: the series originally published in three parts in Lucifer now issued together as a pamphlet. The pamphlet version was also included in Theosophical Siftings volumes 5-7.
Two articles in Universal Brotherhood, the new name chosen for the magazine previously published as Theosophy. It was published at Point Loma and edited by Katherine Tingley. A full text of Universal Brotherhood volume 13 numbers 7-12 is on the web at but when I tried to read it, I kept getting interrupted by adverts.
1 = Volume 12 number 8 issue of November 1897: Mind and Ego
2 = Volume 13 number 6 issue of September 1898: Then and Now
The New Century volume 2 issue of 6 June 1899 article by Herbert: The Cuban Colony.
Mislaid Mysteries paper read by Herbert Coryn at the Fisher Opera House San Diego on 24 August 1901; copy now in the Harry Houdini Collection, US Library of Congress. Mislaid Mysteries was still being used by the TS in the late 1920s: in the magazine The Theosophical Path January-June 1927 p103 there’s a list of pamphlets introducing theosophy, called as a group The Path. Number 3 of the group is Herbert’s Mislaid Mysteries.
Contributions by Herbert to The Theosophical Path, published at Point Loma:
* volume January 1917-February 1918 p148 article by Herbert: Evolution and Involution: A Study in Biology
* volume January-June 1924 p93 article by Herbert: New Religious Conceptions, the Need of the Age; originally a speech delivered on 2 Dec 192[?2] at Point Loma.
AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED POSTHUMOUSLY FROM NOTES TAKEN BY HERBERT
At Thackara. At the bottom is a link to another article, The Teacher and Disciple of Old, with Herbert Coryn listed as the author though it’s clear from elsewhere in the text that the words are NOT his, he was merely writing down what was being said by Katherine Tingley, in July 1902. The notes were not published until after both Herbert and Katherine Tingley were dead. It was included in Lucifer: the Light-Bringer a volume celebrating the life of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky published at Point Loma May-June 1931: pp130-31. an article: Rebirth of the Mysteries by W T S
HERBERT’S PUBLICATIONS ON MEDICAL MATTERS
The Moral and Physical Advantages of Total Abstinence, the prize-winning essay. Published by the National Temperance Society, 1886.
Herbert’s article in the National Review February 1898: Mind as a Disease Producer. The National Review ran from 1883 to 1950 and was published in London by W Allen. The publishers regularly put adverts in the Times for the next edition, with lists of the articles it would contain, so Herbert’s article got a mention in the Times of 1 February 1898 p6: forthcoming publications, with the shortened title ‘Mind and Disease’. The article was referred to in a number of periodicals including Review of Reviews and the World’s Work volume 17 1898 p380; Journal of Practical Medicine volume 10 p490; Practical Druggist and Pharmaceutical Review of Reviews volumes 5-8 1900; and in The Speaker volume 17 1898 p176 where the reviewer remarked “the medical men are becoming our moralists”. It was mentioned in several US newspapers and in the American magazine American Monthly Review of Reviews volume 17 1898. Herbert’s assertion that the liver and the heart were affected by states of mind was quoted in almost all of the publications I’ve listed.
HOW HERBERT CORYN DISCOVERED THEOSOPHY
At Thackara, originally a talk given at the Theosophical Library Center on 7 November 1997, then published in Sunrise magazine: published Theosophical Press April/May 1998. In the talk, Thackara said that I found an article: Rebirth of the Mysteries by W T S
Herbert Coryn had been “an agnostic” until coming across a copy of The Occult World. Unfortunately Thackara doesn’t give any clue as to his sources for this very personal account of Herbert’s discovery of theosophy.
The Occult World is NOT by HPB, it’s by Alfred Percy Sinnett. First ed London: Trübner and Co 1881. 3rd ed 1883.
THE CORYN FAMILY AS ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY OF UK; until they sided with Judge in 1894-95. Members’ payment of the yearly subscription only began to be noted down in the Registers in 1891.
Theosophical Society Membership Register January 1889-September 1891 3 applications for membership on p 100:
1 = Frances Jane Coryn of 159 Acre Lane Brixton. Application dated 16 March 1889. Member of the TS’s Brixton lodge. Subscriptions paid 1892-95.
2 = Herbert Coryn, also of 159 Acre Lane Brixton. No date of application, so I’ve assumed he applied on the same day as Frances. Member of TS’s Brixton Lodge. President of the Philalethean Lodge. Subscriptions paid 1892-95. Handwritten note: “W Q Judge”.
3 = Sidney G P Coryn of 21 Sudborne Road Acre Lane Brixton. No date of application but I’m assuming it was the same day as Frances and Herbert. Member of TS’s Croydon Lodge. Subscriptions paid 1891-95. First address crossed out and substituted with Lawn House, Ramsden Head Billericay. Handwritten note: “Judge”.
Once they were members Frances, Herbert and Sidney sponsored the membership applications of a very large number of new TS members, many of whom went on to be initiated into the Golden Dawn; but all those details will be in my file on the TS and the GD.
The Theosophical Congress held by the TS at the Parliament of Religions which was part of the World’s Fair held in Chicago Illinois on 15-17 September . Report of Proceedings and Documents. Published TS American Section headquarters, 144 Madison Avenue New York 1893. On p10 there’s a list of TS members who were in the Congress’ advisory council. They include Sidney Coryn; and Herbert Coryn, both in the group of members in the TS in England. It’s not clear from the text of the Report whether the members of the advisory council actually attended the Parliament of Religions, or just advised on suitable subjects for lectures and debates. Neither Herbert nor Sidney is mentioned in the Report’s account of the speeches; so I guess that neither of them spoke at the event, if they did attend it.
HELENA PETROVNA BLAVATSKY’S INNER CIRCLE
At Petrovna Blavatsky. section on Helena Blavatsky created her Inner Circle in August 1890. The names of the Inner Circle are given as: Constance Wachtmeister; Isabel Cooper-Oakley; Emily Kislingbury; Laura Cooper; Annie Besant; Alice Cleather; Archibald Keightley; Herbert Coryn; Claude Wright; G R S Mead; E T Sturdy; and Walter Old. The website’s footnote 8 gives the source of the names as Theosophy and Mysticism for Joyceans by Jorn Barger seen on the web April 2001. Obviously, Barger’s work is not the ultimate source for these names and I note that Frederick J Dick is not amongst the names he gives.
The Secret Doctrine volume 1 in the edition edited by Boris de Zirkoff and published 1993. De Zirkoff’s Historical Introduction pp70-71 describes Herbert as “a personal pupil of H.P.B. in the London days”. This is the source for the existence of a putative third volume of The Secret Doctrine; seen by Herbert around the time Blavatsky was working on the book. Later, at Point Loma, Herbert mentioned the third volume to Point Loma resident Geoffrey A Baborka (for Baborka, see Greenwalt below).
HERBERT AS THEOSOPHICAL ACTIVIST, SHOWN IN LUCIFER
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume IV March-August 1889, edited by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Published by Theosophical Publishing Society at 7 Duke St Adelphi. In Volume IV issue of 15 April 1889 p240 Herbert Coryn writing in as Secretary of the TS’s Lecturing Staff, calling for TS members to help this work in one of 2 ways. Firstly by letting him know of literary and debating societies that might want a talk or debate about theosophy; and secondly by volunteering to give such talks or get involved in such debates. He was trying to compile a list of willing speakers. Volume IV issue of 15 June 1889 p284 a second such request from Herbert Coryn, which reads as though he’d had very few responses to his first request. He was urging people to get in touch soon, so that he could have a list of speakers ready for the autumn lecture and evening-class season.
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume VII September 1890 to February 1891, edited by Blavatsky and Annie Besant. London: Theosophical Pubishing Society. In Volume VII issue of 15 September 1890 p81 Herbert mentions a series of letters in the Midland Evening News in August and September 1890 in which he’d crossed swords with a Mr McIlwraith, author of Theosophy Critically Examined. In Volume VII issue of 15 November 1890 p256 Herbert asked readers of Lucifer to scrutinise the newspapers for coverage of theosophy and send him any articles they found, at 153 Acre Lane Brixton. This idea, of challenging misrepresentation of theosophy in the press, and of writing articles introducing theosophy to the newspaper-reading public, was later taken up by TS member Agnes, Baroness de Pallandt, who also became a member of the Golden Dawn. In Vol VII issue of 15 December 1890: on p332 in the news section, a list of TS libraries includes the Philalethean Library, run by Herbert Coryn at 153 Acre Lane.
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume XI September 1892- February 1893, sole editor Annie Besant. Published London: Theosophical Publishing Society. On p80 in the news section, there would be a series of talks by Annie Besant, James Pryse and Herbert Coryn at the Peckham and Dulwich Radical Club, at Rye Lane; part of the TS’s efforts to reach more working-class people.
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume XIV covers March-August 1894; edited by Annie Besant. Volume XIV number 82 issued 15 June 1894 p 347 news section; on 30 May  S G P Coryn gave a lecture on theosophy at a meeting at Streatham high school; Herbert chaired the meeting and the hall was “quite full”. On p521 list of officers elected at TS worldwide’s Convention (held 12-13 July 1894 in London) to serve on the TS Europrean Section for the coming year: General Secretary - G R S Mead; Treasurer - O F S Cuffe; H Coryn MRCS was elected to its ruling committee.
HERBERT AND THE DISPUTE ABOUT THE STATUS OF WILLIAM QUAN JUDGE
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Vol XV covers September 1894-February 1895 joint editors Annie Besant and G R S Mead. This volume is dominated by the Judge dispute and can be seen as the mouthpiece of the supporters of Besant and Olcott at TS worldwide. As part of the coverage of the reactions of TS member lodges to the Judge affair, on p341 a response from Herbert Coryn as president of Brixton Lodge, written 30 November 1894, arguing that there was NOT a case against Judge, despite the articles that had appeared in the Westminster Gazette in November as Isis Very Much Unveiled. The refusal of G R S Mead to address in Lucifer the issues raised by Herbert and B Keightley in their letters is on p434. Beginning on p459 issue of 15 Feb 1895 there was a long article by Annie Besant saying that she’d drawn up a statement of the position of the TS hierarchy on the Judge question: which was that they were against the claims he was making. Colonel Olcott, A P Sinnett and William Wynn Westcott had all signed the statement.
Just to make clear why it is the TS European Section that is the focus of the struggle between Annie Besant and W Q Judge: Judge had only recently been elected president-for-life of the TS European section, giving him an excellent power base in theosophy in addition to his American home.
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine volume XVI March-August 1895; editors Annie Besant and G R S Mead and again dominated by the Judge dispute. Volume XVI number 92 issue of 15 March 1895 p79 uncredited report noting that both Brixton and Croydon lodges had issued statements supporting Judge’s position. (Herbert Coryn is president of Brixton Lodge and Sidney Coryn is president of Croydon Lodge.) Volume XVI number 94 issue of 15 June 1895 p270 uncredited item almost certainly by Annie Besant, saying that “two or three London and suburban lodges” were “bitterly hostile to me” and that Croydon Lodge was no longer letting its members know of forthcoming events at TS headquarters. Volume XVI number 95 issue of 15 July 1895 p358 report on what had happened at the 5th annual convention of TS’s European Section on 4 July  at the Portman Rooms Baker St. In the midst of very noisy debate, elections to the TS European Section’s official posts for the coming year did go ahead: William Wynn Westcott was re-elected to its executive committee and A P Sinnett and G R S Mead were elected to it for the first time - known supporters of Annie Besant and Colonel Olcott. On p360 TS worldwide agrees to set up a committee to consider possible changes to the constitution.
KATHERINE TINGLEY’S 1896 TOUR OF BRITAIN
At www.scribd.com, Theosophy volume XI number 2 May-Dec 1896 pp130-31 gives an account of the short tour of England taken by Mrs Tingley’s Crusaders’ group in the summer of 1896. The group arrived from New York on 21 June 1896 and spent three weeks in Britain. Their first public meeting was organised by members of Liverpool TS lodge and took place on the evening of Tuesday 23 June 1896; Archibald Keightley and Herbert Coryn travelled from London to take part in it. The Crusaders spent a couple of days in Bradford and then returned to London. On Friday 3 July 1896 there was another public meeting for them, at Queen’s Hall Regent Street. Herbert Coryn delivered a farewell address to the Crusaders during the meeting. The Crusaders then went on a tour of other English cities and Scotland before going on to Europe.
FLIRTATION WITH FREEMASONY
By-Laws of the Frederick Lodge of Unity 452 printed Jeffrey of Tufton Street Croydon 1883.
Inside the leaflet, a pull-out page lists the lodge’s current members. There’s a very short history of the lodge.
BON ACCORD MARK MASONS LODGE
By-laws of the Regulation of the London “Bon Accord” Mark Masons Lodge which NB has no number. 2nd edition London: 1898. Just noting that in the list of members as at September 1898, Herbert Coryn’s craft lodge is numbered ‘453'. I’m sure this is just a type-setting error: Keightley and Crump are listed as of 452 and 452 is one of the lodges nearest to where the Coryn family lived.
HERBERT AND POINT LOMA
A hostile account of Katherine Tingley from Alice Leighton Cleather, who supported Tingley in the late 1890s but then fell out with her and left the TS. Found at //blavatskyarchives.com where it had been put together from two memoirs written by Cleather:
H P Blavatsky: Her Life and Work for Humanity published 1922 pp121-124
and H P Blavatsky as I Knew Her published 1923 p30.
Cleather accuses Tingley of being a manipulative and power-mad opportunist with virtually no knowledge of theosophy, using the work and deep understanding of theosophy of people like Herbert Coryn to achieve a reputation for wisdom that she did not deserve. So there!
My account of life at Point Loma is based on three modern works:
The Point Loma Community in California 1897-1942: A Theosophical Experiment. By Emmett A Greenwalt 1955: Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. The book uses contemporary records from the Point Loma community, the local papers; accounts by people who had lived at Point Loma; and local government sources.
On p144 Geoffrey A Baborka (to whom Herbert told the tale of the supposed third volume of The Secret Doctrine) is described as “a scholar mechanic” living at Point Loma and working for its publishing business; he got the printing press to do Sanskrit linotype. Baborka was an author as well: he wrote Gods and Heroes of the Bhagavad Gita.
The Dawn of the New Cycle: Point Loma Theosophists and American Culture. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. W Michael Ashcraft 2002. This book has more than Greenwalt’s volume about the life of Katherine Tingley.
Talbot Mundy, Philosopher of Adventure: A Critical Biography by Brian Taves. P120 the TS at Point Loma put on a pageant-cum-symposium at the Isis Theater San Diego in November 1923; Herbert played Socrates.
Via familysearch: Frances Jane Coryn arrived at New York on 23 June 1906 on the SS Etruria, from Liverpool.
The magazine Century Path: A Magazine Devoted to the Brotherhood of Humanity volume 10 part 1 1906 p57 issue of 9 December 1906: people currently in post at the TS worldwide headquarters, at 19 Avenue Road St John’s Wood include Mrs Edith Clayton; directress Miss Ada Robinson; Superintendent Miss Beatrice Taylor; Assistant Superintendent Miss Frances Coryn.
Theosophical Path volume 34 1928 obituary of Herbert Coryn says that Herbert was survived by his brother Edgar, who was still living in England; and by “a sister, Mrs Frances Dick, of Point Loma”.
Confirmation of Frances’s marriage (though no date, unfortunately): Collected Writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, volume 9 editor Boris de Zirkoff published 1962 by the Philosophical Research Society. Via google, a snippet from p411says “Dr Coryn’s sister, Frances, married Professor Fred J Dick (1856-1927) also one of the direct pupils of H.P.B. in the London days and an active worker in the Dublin Lodge of the T.S. in Ireland and later at Point Loma”.
A bit on Frederick J Dick from //theosophy.ph/encyclo/index.php?title=Dick_Frederick_J; website maintained by the Theosophical Publishing House of Manila, Philippines. He’s 1856-1927. Born Dublin. Worked as a civil engineer. Joined the TS worldwide in 1888; was one of Blavatsky’s “personal students”. Later was Secretary of the TS’s Dublin Lodge. Involved with many members of the Irish literary movement through his friendship with George Russell (the poet AE) and W B Yeats. Moved to Point Loma 1905 with wife Annie. Taught in the school there and was member of Tingley’s ruling cabinet there. Unfortunately this website has no mention of Frances; or the date when Annie died.
Ancient Astronomy in Egypt and its Significance by Frederick J Dick issued by the School of Antiquity at Point Loma in 1916.
On familysearch, I couldn’t find any entry for the marriage of Frances Coryn to Frederick Dick. But it did have 1920 census data for the San Diego 7th Precinct: residents included Frances Dick, and her husband Frederick J Dick.
The Theosophical Path volume 33 number 1 issued July 1927. On p97 a reproduction of an article originally in the San Diego Union Friday 27 May 1927: F J Dick had died suddenly on Wednesday 25 May 1927, aged 71. A short biography said that Frederick’s first wife, Annie, had died in 1904. The following year he had moved to Point Loma where he taught maths at the Theosophical University, ran its meteorological station, helped edit Theosophical Path and was a member of the cabinet that ran the Point Loma community. He had married Frances Coryn in 1914. Frances would continue to live at Point Loma. On p98 again from the San Diego Union of Saturday 28 May 1927 a short report of Dick’s funeral. On p99 a list of people who spoke at the funeral included Katharine Tingley and Dr Herbert Coryn.
Familysearch didn’t have a death registration for Frances Dick.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
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: