Two Coryn brothers, Herbert and Sidney, became members of the Order of the Golden Dawn; and so, for a time, did Sidney’s sister-in-law Jessie Horne.  Sidney Glasson Pearce Coryn was the first of the three to become a member of the Golden Dawn.  He was initiated at its Isis-Urania temple in London on 22 September 1891 and took the Latin motto ‘veritas praevaleat’.  At that time he was living at 21 Sudbourne Road Brixton.  Any member who actually wanted to try some practical magic had to become a member of the GD’s inner, 2nd Order.  To be initiated into that, you needed to have completed an exacting and wide-ranging study of the occult.  Not everybody managed that, but Sidney did so, being initiated into the 2nd Order on 12 January 1893.  However, he resigned from the GD in May 1895.


At the risk of boring people who have arrived at this biography of Sidney having read the biography 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 Public Elementary Education Act of 1870 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.




The information on the 1881 census shows that Sidney had already left school but unlike Herbert, who was studying medicine, he was working, as a clerk in the office of a business.  The 1881 census official didn’t write down any more details than that and perhaps it doesn’t matter particularly because Sidney didn’t stay in that job for very long.  In 1891 he told that year’s census official that he was a “foreign correspondent”.  This suggests to me that he was working for a newspaper; but I haven’t been able to find out whether that’s correct, or which one it was.  His subsequent career does suggest he wasn’t exaggerating in 1891; but I can’t give more details of his early career except to say that he may have spent a few months based in Liverpool around 1891; he definitely continued visited the city from time to time during the 1890s though I’m not clear whether this was for work or to see the friends he’d made at Liverpool TS Lodge; perhaps it was a bit of both. 


My next certain information about Sidney’s working life comes from the late 1890s.  At that time he was working in the London offices of Canadian Railways.  He was acting as a publicist, not only for the railways but for Canada as a whole.  Canadian Pacific’s rail service to British Columbia had begun in 1887 and was opening up the plains and the Pacific coast to colonisation.  The Canadian government wanted to encourage the right kind of people to settle in Canada.  As part of this effort, Sidney was required to supply information and statistics for newspaper articles on Canada.  He also gave several talks as part of a series on Canada organised at the South Place Institute in Finsbury.  He used the latest technology to illustrate these talks - lantern slides and even “cinematograph” - and for one on the native American population of Canada he worked with someone identified only as “W. Williams” but who might have been the GD member based in Bradford but known to members of TS’s Liverpool Lodge. Some of the talks were published around 1900 in the ‘British Empire’ series.  At this time, Sidney was also acting as honorary secretary to the Royal Society of Canada.


It seems odd, then, that when Sidney emigrated, he went to the United States; but I guess you go where the work is.


The 1890s were a very busy decade for Sidney Coryn; beginning in 1888 when he married Agnes Sophia Horne.  Agnes was the daughter of a woman who kept a dress and hat shop in Stockwell, and had worked as a pottery designer before her marriage.  Agnes’ sister Jessie Louisa Horne became a GD member in 1891, though Agnes was never in the GD herself.  Sidney and Agnes had the small family that was becoming more common amongst the middle-classes though nobody seems to have been talking about the means used to achieve it: Frederick Sidney was born in 1892; and Marjorie Stella was born in 1894.  So at the time Sidney was being initiated into the Golden Dawn and studying for its 2nd Order, he also had new family responsibilities.  He was also very busy at the Theosophical Society, which he, brother Herbert and sister Frances all joined in 1889.  Herbert was a regular at meetings of the TS’s Esoteric Section, which stepped outside the main thrust of the TS by studying western occult texts.  William Wynn Westcott, one of the Golden Dawn’s three founders, was a senior member of the TS and almost certainly in its Esoteric Section (though I’ve never found a list of the Esoteric Section’s members so this is just a guess).  I have less evidence for Sidney being involved with the Esoteric Section; but even if he didn’t attend the meetings he could hear of them from Herbert and read the recommended texts.


For a few years in the early 1890s both Herbert and Sidney Coryn were serious and committed members of the TS, in south London and elsewhere, with the involvement of each brother reflecting his own personality.  Herbert became a member of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s inner group; he wrote articles on theosophy; he edited a number of theosophical magazines; and was a committee man.  Although Sidney did do some work editing theosphical magazines, he usually did so in cooperation with Herbert and I think of him as the younger brother being co-opted by his older brother but not really wanting to do in his spare time something he spent all the working day doing.  Sidney also wrote fewer articles than Herbert; I think he preferred to write pamphlets, which didn’t have the deadlines of pieces of work destined for a magazine.  He gave talks - which Herbert rarely did.  And he didn’t do so much committee work; of course, with a family and an office job, Sidney left that to Herbert, who was single, and worked in their father’s medical practice.


Sidney, Herbert and Frances recruited an astonishing number of new members to the TS; I sometimes wonder whether they went round button-holing people in the street.  The connections between the TS and the Golden Dawn are so close that I’m going to be dealing with them in a separate file.


Sidney’s writings in the early 1890s were inspired by Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled.  At the time he was a member of both the TS and the GD, he was also preparing his booklet The Zodiac.  In it he discussed the symbolism of each astrological sign; the importance of the then Pole Star to the Egyptians and the fact that the star we see at the north pole is not the one they saw; and the zodiac’s connection with the great cycles of Hindu mythology.

In another pamphlet, The Language of Symbols, Sidney - whose parents were both Baptists - discussed the use of symbol to express belief, concluding that without it, religions die.


Even after he had left the TS, the GD, and Britain, Sidney’s interest in the religion and astronomical knowledge of ancient Egypt continued, and in 1913 his The Faith of Ancient Egypt was published by the Theosophical Publishing Company in New York.  He was certainly still in touch with his old friend Frederick Dick, who published his own book on astronomy in ancient Egypt in 1916; by this time (I think - I haven’t been able to find a date for it) Frederick Dick was married to Sidney’s sister Frances.


Sidney also wrote an article on Alchemy, which appeared in Lucifer, the magazine of the TS worldwide, in 1890.  But after that, he preferred to talk: on the Kabbalah (1892 at Brixton Lodge where his sister-in-law Jessie Horne was the secretary); and on The Magic of Numbers (1892) and Paracelsus (1893).   The last two talks were given at Adelphi Lodge, whose lecture-programme was the most orientated towards the western occult of all the London-based TS lodges; probably because it was organised by Percy William Bullock, member of the TS’s Esoteric Section and of the Golden Dawn.


Originally Sidney had been a member of the TS’s Brixton Lodge, but by the early 1890s he had moved out of the district.  In 1892 he was one of the group that founded the Croydon Lodge; he became its first president, with William A Dunn (who became a member of the Golden Dawn) as its secretary.  He was still in close touch with the members of Liverpool Lodge and often attended their meetings when he was in town.


Early in 1894, an effort was made by the TS worldwide to bring theosophy to a wider audience.  As part of this initiative, in May 1894, Sidney and brother Herbert Coryn borrowed a room at Streatham High School, and Sidney delivered a more general talk on theosophy while Herbert chaired the subsequent discussion.  As part of this attempt by the TS to reach the un-converted, Sidney and Herbert Kitchin (a TS member based in Leeds) tried to organise a group of TS members to write articles introducing theosophy, to be sent to the newspapers.  I couldn’t find out how successful this scheme was, because by the time Sidney and Herbert Kitchin were trying to set it up, the TS was beginning to be engulfed in the dispute about William Quan Judge.


I’ve explained in my file on Herbert Coryn that all three of the Coryns, and Jessie Horne as well, were firm supporters of William Quan Judge, the American president-for-life of the TS’s European Section; and against the attempt to oust him being made by the TS worldwide led by Annie Besant and Colonel Olcott.  I won’t go into the reasons for the struggle here, except to say  that by early 1895, the opposing factions were at such loggerheads that an anonymous writer (almost certainly Annie Besant but she wasn’t going to admit it) could complain in Lucifer that “two or three London and suburban lodges” (again almost certainly Brixton Lodge and Croydon Lodge) were “bitterly hostile to me”, and that Croydon Lodge was no longer letting its members know of forthcoming events at the TS’s headquarters in Avenue Road St John’s Wood where Annie Besant held sway.  The dispute reached a head at the TS European Section’s annual conference held in England in July 1895 where Besant and Olcott found themselves facing what seems like an orchestrated campaign to unseat them from their positions in the European Section, which they held as the senior figures in the TS worldwide, the two organisations being very close and both run from the headquarters building in London.  If there was such a campaign, Sidney and Herbert Coryn were likely to have been amongst the leaders of it.  Firstly, members of Bow Lodge declared that Olcott had no right to chair a European Section meeting.  Having ruled Bow  Lodge’s argument unconstitutional, Olcott then found Sidney Coryn putting forward a resolution that challenged the “de jure existence of the Society” (I think the TS worldwide is the ‘Society’ that’s meant).  Olcott ruled Sidney’s argument out of order, but his ruling was so “hotly challenged” that he had to let it go to a vote.  Sidney lost the vote 39:14 and probably decided there and then to resign from the TS worldwide; Herbert and Frances resigned as well though Herbert stayed on as an influential member of the TS European Section until 1898.  The fact that GD founder-member William Wynn Westcott had backed Besant and Olcott against the supporters of Judge, is what probably caused Sidney to leave the GD as well.


William Quan Judge died in 1896.  Sidney wrote an obituary for Theosophic Isis, a journal mostly written and edited by him and Herbert.   That same year a new star began to rise in the theosophical firmament in America, in the shape of Katherine Tingley.  When Mrs Tingley and a group of her supporters organised a world lecture tour, Sidney and Herbert supported her cry of ‘universal brotherhood’ with articles in Theosophic Isis, where they gave Mrs Tingley’s group publicity denied them in the TS’s journals.  Once Mrs Tingley’s world tour had ended, early in 1897, Theosophic Isis ceased publication; perhaps because it was just to much hard work for the brothers, with all their other commitments; but possibly because its purpose had been to give Judge’s cause and Mrs Tingley’s group publicity denied it in journals run by the TS in England.  As well as promoting the cause of ‘universal brotherhood’, Mrs Tingley’s tour had been raising money for the theosophical community she was in the process of founding at Point Loma, just outside San Diego California.  In 1898, Mrs Tingley succeed Judge as president-for-life of the TS in America, and her idea of ‘universal brotherhood’ was adopted as its creed.  These events seem to have made up Herbert’s mind: in 1898 he emigrated to take up a job with the American TS and in 1901 he went to live at Point Loma.


Though there’s plenty of evidence for Sidney as a supporter of William Quan Judge, there’s rather less for him as a supporter of Katherine Tingley.  He never lived at Point Loma, but he was a married man, he did not have only himself to consider.  Sidney’s wife Agnes is rather a shadowy figure in the lives of the Coryns: I’ve found out almost nothing about her except that she was not as committed a theosophist as they were and possibly not a theosophist at all.  Agnes did join the TS in February 1893, and - with Sidney - sponsored a woman they knew as a new member later that year; but I can’t find any of the evidence of the activism that I’ve found for Sidney, Herbert and even Frances.  I do wonder if Agnes just joined the TS out of curiosity about what her husband and in-laws were so committed to; or from an understanding that - in the Coryn family - she would have no social life at all if she didn’t get involved with theosophy.  I think she would not have wanted to live as a member of a theosophical community; so although Sidney visited Point Loma at least once and probably regularly, he didn’t settle there.  And I also think that Agnes didn’t really want to go to America.


Sidney Coryn emigrated to the USA in 1902 and had arrived in California by May of that year; his family either went with him or followed soon after.  I haven’t been able to discover whether Sidney had a job to go to when he left England, but by 1908 he was working for the San Francisco literary and politcal weekly, the Argonaut (usually known as the San Francisco Argonaut) and he probably continued as an employee there until he died, eventually becoming associate editor.  If Sidney was employed by the San Francisco Argonaut by 1906, he and his family will have been living somewhere in the city on Wednesday 18 April, the day of the famous San Francisco earthquake, which was followed by several days of fierce fires.  The Coryns may have been amongst the 300,000 people made homeless by the destruction of nearly all of the city; and would have been able to watch as a new, modern city rose in the years after, literally out of the ashes.  They won’t have seen the Golden Gate bridge, however; that was built after their time.


1908 is the earliest year for which I have confirmation that Sidney was employed by the San Francisco Argonaut.  By 1911, articles by Sidney were appearing in it and being quoted by newspapers in other parts of the USA.  These will have needed to take a Republican view on events, as the San Francisco Argonaut had been founded to support the Republican cause.  One that Sidney wrote in 1909 on what the San Francisco Argonaut saw as the problem of Japanese immigrants in the Bay Area, is the most widely-cited article I’ve found by Sidney.  It takes a pessimistic view of the future of California if this immigrant population is not curbed, concluding that it was likely that their success as businessmen was going to force white people into taking the low-paid jobs the Japanese had been allowed into America to do; and could have been written with only a few changes by a supporter of UKIP. 


By 1912 Sidney was writing the San Francisco Argonaut’s literary review column.  A review that Sidney wrote early in 1914 is perhaps an indication of his reading tastes.  It’s also a timely reminder to me that an interest in the occult is no guarantee of radical views in other areas of life - until I started researching the members of the Golden Dawn I was inclined to think otherwise.  It puts me in mind of Aleister Crowley’s assessment of the members of the Golden Dawn as nonentities, not giants; and of Maud Gonne’s assessment of them as too middle-class for her taste.  (Never mind - they both made up for the deficiency in their own lives.)  In a review of works that I think must be by the poet Richard le Gallienne, another English immigrant to the USA, Sidney accuses the author of being “no better than he should be” apparently as a result of reading too much of what Sidney thought of as modern literature - he mentioned George Bernard Shaw particularly - and not enough great literature from the 18th century.  Sidney declared that this bias in Mr Le Gallienne’s reading had led le Gallienne to view anyone allowing “his or her thoughts to wander, even inadvertently, from the sex problem” as “a traitor to his or her age and country”. 


Those who emigrated did so in full knowledge that they might never see their parents again (unless they had gone too) before they died, and not even be able to attend their funerals.  William John Corin/Coryn died in 1910; and Mary Corin/Coryn in 1915. 


Sidney never lost his interest in theosophy, astronomy and astrology and he was probably a member of the American TS.  Even while Herbert was in the US and Sidney was still in London, the brothers had collaborated on another theosophical magazine, The Crusader, named for Mrs Tingley’s lecturing group from the 1896-97 world tour; this ran from 1900 to 1904.  At the same time they were also co-editors of the Theosophical Chronicle, which turned into the International Theosophical Chronicle in 1905 when Frederick John Dick joined them as another editor, probably after he too had emigrated to Point Loma.  In the next few years Sidney worked on the survey of ancient Egyptian religion that I’ve considered above.  But that was his last published work on theosophy because in 1917 the first World War arrived in the USA and engulfed Sidney’s family.


Unlike Herbert Coryn, Sidney had not become an American citizen.  And despite having lived in the USA for 15 years, his children Frederick Sidney and Marjorie Stella still felt English.  Frederick Sidney had been working as a printer in San Francisco but I think he must have received call-up papers anyway at some time during 1916  because as a second lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment he had been sent to Belgium by 1917.   In 1917 the 2nd Battalion were at Passchendaele (officially the 3rd Battle of Ypres) and then on the the Messines Ridge.   At 1918 they were at St Quentin before being moved in May to Bligny where they were attacked by German forces on 29 May 1918 in the action called the Battle of Champagne; they were surrounded and had to retreat on 7 June.  At some point in 1918 - probably during the battle of Champagne - the Wiltshire Regiment got gassed, and though he did not die (apparently few men did die immediately from poison gas), Frederick Sidney suffered from its effects for the rest of his life.


Sidney’s daughter Marjorie Stella also went to war.  She went to France as a volunteer nurse, probably as a member of the American Red Cross because she doesn’t seem to have tended wounded British soldiers, but wounded French and possibly American ones.  She and Florence Billings and probably all the members of their nursing unit were all awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1918 for their work just behind the front line at Chalons-sur-Marne (now called Chalons-en-Champagne).


Back in San Francisco, Sidney became the San Francisco Argonaut’s war correspondent.  His articles gained him something of a reputation in California as The Man who Understood the War, and he was asked to give lectures on various aspects of the war and its aftermath, at Stanford University and other venues, some of which were published and made him more widely known (for a time) than he had been in the USA at large.  It was in this guise that he was approached in 1918 by Stanton Coblentz, a law student bored by the law, who was looking for somewhere to publish his writing.  From Coblentz’s memoirs of his career as a New York journalist I have a description of Sidney, who was now 53: Coblentz saw “a courtly, bespectacled elderly man with a bookish look and a fatherly smile”.  Not your typical magician.  Or was he?  It depends, I suppose, on whether you want your magicians à la Crowley or as they probably mostly are!


The latest article by Sidney in the San Francisco Argonaut was one published in 1919 where he seems to have combined his earlier lit-crit role with the more political articles he’d been writing during the war.  In it, Sidney seems to have suggested H G Wells had Bolshevist sympathies: spoken like a true US Republican?


One source I found seemed to be suggesting that Agnes Coryn had gone with Marjorie Stella to Europe in 1917, to nurse the wounded.  However, I think this particular source has confused mother and daughter: there’s a photograph on the website, apparently of the woman being referred to, which is of someone too young to be Agnes.  It’s rather more likely that Agnes remained in the United States with her husband - by 1921 they were living at Post Street - and was with him on 15 November 1921 when Sidney died, at Auburn California.  However, with both her children still in Europe, Agnes had returned to England by November 1922.  I do wonder if only Sidney had really taken to living in the United States because Agnes, Frederick Sidney and Marjorie Stella all spent the rest of their lives in Europe.


I don’t know when Frederick Sidney left the army but he went back to England not the USA.  The gas attack sustained by the Wiltshire Regiment in 1917 had probably affected his lungs; he may not have been able to work and he will have needed care and treatment.  My evidence for his poor health after World War 1 is the date of his death: he died in 1936 aged only 45.  I can’t find any evidence that he ever married.


Marjorie Stella never married either.  Using the French she had acquired while nursing, she worked during the 1920s as a translator for two of the first World War Reparation Committees, both based in Paris.  Particularly after Sidney’s death, Marjorie Stella may have been the family’s major bread-winner; Agnes - as was typical of a middle-class woman of her generation - never did paid work after her marriage.  In 1930 Marjorie Stella felt secure enough financially to leave her translating job and embark on a new career as a writer (in English) publishing biographies and some novels between 1932 and 1954.  The most successful of these was The Marriage of Josephine (1945): it was translated into several languages and is the book with most responses if you key Marjorie Stella’s name into google.  The latest published works by Marjorie Stella Coryn that I’ve been able to find references to were two series in the 1960s English girls’ paper, Princess: Royal Daughters, and Daughters of Adventure.  The Corin family website says that Agnes and Marjorie Stella lived in France until around 1937 when they returned to England.  Agnes died in 1951 and Marjorie Stella in 1968, both of them in England.


As neither Frederick Sidney nor Marjorie Stella ever had children, Sidney Coryn has no descendants.




IDA was the only member of the Corin/Coryn siblings NOT to join the Theosophical Society. I found information to show that she was a student at London University during the mid-1880s.  She was a teacher before her marriage. In 1895 Ida married Roland von der Heyde (who despite his name was English, born in Lambeth) and moved with him to run a fruit farm at Billericay in Essex.  She had no children of her own but seems to have had the care of some of her husband’s nieces and nephews, at least some of the time.  At some point after census day 1911 (I don’t know exactly when) Ida and Roland emigrated to run a farm in New Zealand.  Ida died in New Zealand in 1925.


EDGAR did join the TS, though he was never involved in its activities to the extent that Herbert, Sidney and Frances were.  He married another TS member - Catherine Edith Allen (known as Edith) - in 1893.  Edgar went into partnership with Ida and Roland in the fruit-growing business, and he and Edith moved to Essex.  They had four children, the only grand-children of William John and Mary Corin/Coryn.  Edith had been born in Canada, and records on Ancestry and findmypast show Edgar at least, going to and from Canada several times before the first World War; and crossing into the USA, perhaps to visit Sidney and Herbert.  However, he died in England in 1939.  Edith died in 1941.  I don’t know what happened to the fruit-growing business when the von der Heydes emigrated but it doesn’t seem to have been inherited by Edgar and Edith’s sons.



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.




Freemasons’ Library Golden Dawn collection GBR GD2/2/8a Receipts for items borrowed from William Wynn Westcott during the period 1891-1892.  On 18 April 1892 Sidney borrowed some lectures, some information on the tarot, the General Guidance for the Soul and some rituals. 




The Corin/Coryn family has a good family history website at //herbert/ which you can also reach via Ancestry.  It’s easier to follow than most, being carefully laid out.  It gave me lots of indications of where to start - for example, with information on the lives of Sidney Coryn’s children; and on some of Sidney’s publications.

In addition I’ve used the usual freebmd, ancestry and familysearch sites.


1906 SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE from wikipedia; also the information that the Golden Gate Bridge is later.



Theosophical Society Membership Register September 1891 to January 1893 (though actually covering to May 1893): Agnes Coryn, date of application February 1893. 



University of London: the Historical Record 1836-1912 published for the University of London Press in London by Hodder and Stoughton 1912.  Ida Mary Coryn is in this somewhere, with a reference to 1886 presumably her date of graduation.  I couldn’t see more from google’s snippet and when I uploaded the book, my search for her came back with ‘no finds’.  7 March 2013 had that a lot lately, wonder if it’s my laptop.



Theosophical Society Membership Register January 1889-September 1891: new member Edgar Coryn, application dated June 1891, membership sponsors Sidney and Frances Coryn.  TS Membership Register September 1891-January 1893: new member Edith Allen, application dated February 1893. 

It’s the herbertdavie website that says Edgar’s wife had been born in Canada.  At Edgar Coryn arriving by ship 1913 at Grimsby Ontario.  This website doesn’t say whether his wife and child were were him.  Also saw references to Edgar travelling to and within North America when looking on Ancestry for his records at the Probate Registry; though I didn’t follow them up for more precise dates.




He’s not in SCOOP!, a database of 19th and 20th-century journalists held at the British Library.  However, neither are some other GD members who definitely worked as journalists - database clearly not exhaustive.


A reference in The Theosophist October 1890-April 1891, p61 has Sidney as a member of the TS’s Liverpool Lodge rather than any London one.  It was this that made me wonder whether Sidney had been working in Liverpool around 1891.  The friendships he made with Liverpool-based TS members were important for Golden Dawn recruitment in the next few years.  By

Lucifer’s editions of 1892 he was back as a member of Croydon Lodge. 


Via to Daily Mail and Empire issue of 19 April 1899 p12 article: The Prospects of Anglo-Canadian Trade for the future.  This article describes Sidney Coryn as working in the offices of the Canadian Railway, and mentions particularly his work publicising Canada with lectures illustrated by “lantern views and the cinematograph”.


For details of Canadian Pacific Railway and its importance in the opening up of Canada’s interior: see the very detailed page in wikipedia.


Via ebooks to British America by Arthur Penrhyn Stanley.  New York: Funk and Wagnalls Co. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co 1900.  Sidney Coryn is a contributor to this book, as as Honorary Secretary of the Royal Society of Canada.  At the contents of the book can be downloaded.  The Preface by William Sheo Wring of the South Place Institute Finsbury EC says all the pieces published in the volume were originally given between 1895 and 1898 as talks, part of a Sunday afternoon lecture course.  Sidney Coryn contributed two lectures which were all his own work:

            British North America: Manitoba

            Brititsh North America: the North-West Territories of Canada.

And with someone only identified as W Williams, Sidney had been co-author of:

            The Canadian Aborigines.  Using statistics from the Hudson Bay Co etc.


The British Empire Series volume 5 published New York: Funk and Wagnalls, and London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co 1902 p263 the first page of an article by Sidney: The Railways of Canada. 



Wikipedia on The Argonaut, better known as the The San Francisco Argonaut.  It’s NOT a newspaper, it’s a literary journal, published 1877-1956 and again since 1991.  Founded and originally run by Frank M Pixley.  It regularly published work by Gertrude Atherton, Yda Addis and Ambrose Bierce and was an important publication witin California with a great deal of political influence, solidly Republican.  On google I saw some compendium volumes issued by the Argonaut, eg one on China and the Chinese published in 1907, author apparently Charles William Wason.  On google I found The San Francisco Argonaut 1877-1907 by James Richard Wotherspoon 1962.  I tried to investigate further but the British Library doesn’t have a copy of it.


My earliest reference to Sidney working for the San Francisco Argonaut is in magazine Current Opinion volume 44 1908 p641.


Just noting that at least in 1915 Sidney is NOT the journal’s editor and I think he never was the senior man.  Via the web to full text of The Argonaut volume LXXVI 1 January to 30 June 1915 at the website of the San Francisco Public Library.  The volume was so big my laptop couldn’t load it all but I did see the first page of the 1 January 1915 issue.  The editor of that issue was Alfred Holman.  Unlike most literary journals it’s a weekly and laid out like a newspaper.


Via to the Berkeley Daily Gazette issue of 9 April 1919: an announcment that Sidney would give a talk on The League of Nations, at the monthly meeting of the Goodfellows Club.  The article described Sidney as “war correspondent of the San Francisco Argonaut where his articles have attracted wide attention.”  Apparently the articles had shown “unfailing optimism” about the war’s outcome and as a result of writing them, Sidney had gained a reputation as an interpreter of war strategy.


My San Francisco: A Wayward Biography by Gertrude Atherton.  Published Indianapolis and New York: the Bobbs-Merrill Co.  No publication date but the British Library stamp says “29 JUN 49".  There’s one mention of Sidney in the book: on p76 in the chapter San Francisco Bookstores.  Atherton mentions a building on Grant Avenue which had to be rebuilt after the fire (she means the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake).  The rebuilt building had a lecture room on its 4th floor and Sidney gave an “important series” of talks there “dealing with the campaigns of World War 1".  Atherton describes Sidney as “associated editor of the San Francisco Argonaut” at the time of the talks; and also as the father of “that brilliant young author, Marjorie Coryn”.   There’s no mention of any other person called Coryn in the book.  Gertrude Atherton had good reason to be grateful to the San Francisco Argonaut as (p71) it was the first magazine to publish any of her work.  She started writing at age 22, to relieve the boredom of her married life in rural California.  And Atherton also saved me the trouble of searching all over to identify Stanton Coblentz: (pp116-117) p116 Stanton Coblentz was doing the San FranciscoArgonaut’s book review between 1917 and 1920, at the outset of his writing career.


I found work by Sidney that had appeared in San Francisco Argonaut being used in New Zealand newspapers: at

(Wellington?) Evening Post volume LXXXIII issue 106 4 May 1912 p13 quoted an article by Sidney on the Three Musketeers.

(Wellington?) Evening Post volume XXXXVII issued 14 February 1914 p13 it’s the Bookman column is the source for Sidney’s attack on the work of Le Gallienne.  I hope I have identified the man correctly: Richard Le Gallienne 1866-1947 (see wikipedia) seems the only person of that name whose dates are right: author, poet, journalist, member of the Rhymers’ Club (so he will have known Yeats) contributor to The Yellow Book (1890s).  Emigrated to the USA in 1897.

(Wellington?) Evening Post no volume number, issued 17 March 1917 p4 a long article on current state of World War 1 quotes an article by Sidney from the San Francisco Argonaut discussing possible peace negotiations and arguing that Germany could give a lot up - eg Alsace/Lorraine - and still come out of the war at a profit.


At there were also quotes from work by Sidney in 2 issues of The Atlanta Constitution, those of: 12 March 1911; and 11 Oct 1913.


Just found via google: in the San Francisco Argonaut of 21 February 1919 an article by Sidney: Mr Wells’ Bolshevism.  He means H G Wells, of course.



Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science volume 34 number 2, September 1909: pp42-48: The Japanese Problem in California.

The first later use of this article was as early as 1921 when it appeared (or a précis of it did) in a special American supplement in the Times on Monday 4 July 1921: p27 et seq.

It has been referred to in several more recent works:

1975    Prejudice War and the Constitution by Jacobus Ten Broek, Edward Norton Barnhart and Floyd W Mason p340

1982    Bitter Harvest: A History of California Farmworkers 1870-1941 by Cletus E Daniel; p282

1995    Laws Harsh as Tigers which is actually about Chinese immigrants not Japanese ones; by Lucy E Salyer 

2007    Meiji ‘Buddhism’ in America by Tara Keiko Koda p354



Serbia and Human Freedom: An Address Delivered at the Palace Hotel June 28. Via google to New York Public Library volume 22 1918 p491, probably in a list of recent acquisitions.  A note says that Sidney’s lecture was published by the Serbian Information Bureau as a 16-page pamphlet with a map by Serbian Information Bureau.  The date of the lecture (as opposed to the date of its being published) isn’t clear to me: the lecture may have been given in 1916 rather than 1918.  The pamphlet isn’t in the British Library and I couldn’t find the text on the web.

Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine volume 53 1919 p312 mentioned a talk given by Sidney on Is the World Safe for Democracy?

Annual Report of the President [of Stanford Univ that is] Stanford University 1918 p120 Sidney had given a lecture at the University on The Cause of the War).  Sidney was described as associate editor of the San Franciso Argonaut.



Adventures of a Freelancer by Stanton A Coblentz, Jeffrey M Elliott and Scott Alan Burgess 1993: pp33-34 with the quote about what Sidney looked like to a young man in 1918.



The Faith of Ancient Egypt by Sidney G P Coryn.  Published 1913 by the Theosophical Publishing Co of 25 West 45th Street New York; it also has an English copyright dated 1913.  It’s not in the British Library but via I was able to download from the copy now in the New York Public Library.  As I’m not an occultist I just noted down the contents table:

            Records of the Ages

            Egyptian Science Unequalled Today

            The Rosetta Stone

            Eternal Life, the faith of Egypt

            The Cycles and Gods of the Cycles


            Entering into Heaven - the fields of Aanru





The Zodiac variously described as being written by Sidney on his own, and by Sidney with Lafcadio Hearn.  Pamphlet published by the Theosophical Publishing Society 1893.

Theosophic Isis is edited by Herbert who also does most of the writing, though there are 2 items by Sidney:

1896 volume 1 April p81          Obituary of W Q Judge

1897 volume 2 January p387    Our Opportunity

the 1897 January issue also had (p380) Some Persian Hymns by F Coryn, probably Frances Coryn.



Theosophical Siftings volumes 5-7 1892-95 has a reprint of Sidney or Sidney and Lafcadio Hearn’s pamphlet The Zodiac.  Also in this volume is an item by Sidney that I haven’t found anywhere else: The Language of Symbols.


Sidney has only three items in the British Library catalogue: all as editor, 2 jointly with brother Herbert:

1900-04           The Crusader.  A Supplement to ‘Ourselves’ volumes 1-4. 

1900-04           The Theosophical Chronicle first 5 volumes 1900-04; Herbert and Sidney as co-editors

1905                The International Theosophical Chronicle as one of several editors.



Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume VII September 1890 to February 1891, editors Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Annie Besant.  Published London: Theosophical Publishing Society of 7 Duke Street Adelphi.  Volume VII issue of 15 October 1890, article by Sidney Coryn: Alchemy.

Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume XI September 1892- February 1893, editor Annie Besant.  Published London: Theosophical Publishing Society 7 Duke Street Adelphi.  P170 issue of 15 November 1892 in the news section: very short report on events at Brixton Lodge sent in by its secretary Jessie Horne.  Recent talks had included one given by Sidney Coryn on The Kabbalah, on 16 September 1892.  Volume XI no 64 issued 15 December 1892 p342 in the news section: Sidney Coryn had been elected president of the TS’s Croydon Lodge. Volume XI no 65 issued 15 January 1893 p431 in the news section: recent lectures at Adelphi Lodge had included one by Sidney Coryn on The Magic of Numbers.  Volume XI no 66 issued 15 February 1893 p517 in the news section: report on Liverpool Lodge said that TS member Williams of Bradford Lodge; and S Coryn had attended recent meetings of the Lodge.

Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Vol XIII covering September 1893 to February 1894, editor Annie Besant.  Volume XIII no 74 issued 15 October 1893 p165 forthcoming lectures at Adelphi Lodge would include one by Sidney Coryn on Paracelsus, due 4 December [1893].  Volume XIII no 78 issued 15 February 1894 in the very short news section p522: S Coryn and Herbert Kitchin were trying to start a scheme whereby theosophists would send articles introducing theosophy to the weekly papers.  Anyone with a suitable article should send it to S G P Coryn at Lawn House, Ramsden Heath Essex; or to Kitchin (his contact address is in Leeds).

Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine covers March-August 1894, editor Annie Besant.  Volume XIV no 82 issued 15 June 1894 p 347 news section; on 30 May [1894] S G P Coryn gave a lecture on theosophy at a meeting at Streatham high school; H Coryn chaired the meeting and the hall had been “quite full”.

Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume XV covers September 1894-February 1895, joint editors Annie Besant and G R S Mead.  This volume is dominated by the Judge dispute.  Long article by Besand (p459) in the issue of 15 Feb 1895 saying that she had 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.  Olcott, Sinnett and WWW had all signed the statement. 


Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine volume XVI March-August 1895, joint editors Annie Besant  and G R S Mead. again dominated by the Judge dispute.  Volume XVI 15 March 1895 p79 an uncredited report on the Judge dispute said that both Brixton and Croydon lodges had issued statements supporting Judge.  Volume XVI no 94 15 June 1895 p270 uncredited but almost certainly written by Besant, an item saying that “two or three London and suburban lodges” were “bitterly hostile to me” and that Croydon Lodge was not letting its members know of forthcoming events at the TS’s English headquarters.

Volume XVI no 95 15 July 1895 p358: a report on what had happened at the 5th annual convention of TS’s European Section, which had been held on 4 July [1895] at the Portman Rooms Baker St, London.  The large number of delegates had made life difficult for those in charge.  Members of Bow Lodge had challenged Olcott’s right to take the chair; their challenge was ruled unconstitutional.  Then meeting considered a resolution put before the convention by “Mr Coryn” (Sidney) that challenged the “de jure existence of the Society”; that too was ruled out of order but the ruling was “hotly challenged”, so much so that it went to a vote where Coryn lost 39:14.  Elections to official posts for the coming year then went ahead; A P Sinnett and G R S Mead were elected to the TS European Section’s executive committee for the first time; and William Wynn Westcott was re-elected to it.  The convention agreed to form a committee to look at changes to the TS worldwide’s constitution - something Judge’s supporters were demanding - but all the names put forward to be elected to this committee were put forward by members of Blavatsky Lodge which was dominated by Besant and Mead.  The members of this new committee were listed on p360; they included “Dr Coryn” (Herbert), “Firth” (Oliver, of Bradford, a GD member in the past); “Jevons” (Rowland, of Liverpool Lodge); Annie Besant and others.


AN ARTICLE AND A TALK BY SIDNEY PUBLISHED IN THE USA; the talk dates his arrival in California:

Universal Brotherhood Path volume XVII April 1902 an article by Sidney: A New Study of Our Growth and Possibilities.  This was a google snippet and I couldn’t see page numbers.

Via the web to the Los Angeles Herald volume XXIX no 217 issue of 6 May 1902 p3 a report written 5 May 1902 by the paper’s correspondent in San Diego: Growth of Character: Sydney (sic) Coryn addresses theosophists.  Report is on a talk given by Sidney at the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society in San Diego.  It has the sub-title “Selfishness the one crime in the world”.  Sidney is described by the reporter as a “Student of Late Mme (sic) Blavatsky”. 


CROWLEY AND MAUD GONNE ON THE GOLDEN DAWN.  Both disparagements are mentioned, and Gonne’s is quoted, in Richard Kaczynski’s biography of Aleister Crowley: Perdurabo.  Revised and expanded edition published by North Atlantic Books of Berkeley California 2010: p60.  Gonne’s quote is from her: A Servant of the Queen: Reminiscences published London: Victor Gollancz 1938 p248; I’ve actually seen this book referred to as extrememly cavalier with the facts, but in this instance I hope you can trust Maud to have emembered her opinion of the Golden Dawn’s magicians accurately enough.



It’s the Corin family history website that mentions that Frederick Sidney Coryn was gassed in the first World War.  No source is given for the information - it may have been known in the family - but it may also have come from this book: The 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment (99th): a Record of their Fighting in the Great War 1914-18 by W Scott Shepherd.  Printed by Gale and Polden 1927.  On p162 2nd Lt Coryn is one member of the Regiment “who was gassed” but I couldn’t read where from the snippet I saw on google.  I couldn’t see the date of the incident either except that it was in 1918.  Shepherd says also (p162) that having pushed the front line forward 1000 yards the Wiltshire Regiment was relieved by the 9th Welsh Regiment “that night” and had “a few days’ rest”.

Website is the Home of the Infantry Regiments of Berkshire and Wiltshire.  According to this website this is what the 2nd Battalion were doing in 1917:

Jan-Mar           at Arras

9-11 April        getting bad losses taking part in an attack on the Hindenburg Line

then to Ypres

31 July             first day of  3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

late Aug            relieves the Aus troops on Messines Ridge

Aug-Nov          on Messines Ridge doing some raiding

Nov                 moved to the Gehluvelt area.  There till end 1917.

And 1918:

Jan                   relieving French troops S of St Quentin

March              attacked at St Quentin by German forces and surrounded; heavy losses and Wilts Regiment had to be reformed as a result

April                 Ypres again

May-Aug         at Bligny.  Came under heavy attack from German forces 29 May; again they were surrounded; they had to retreat 7 June 1918

Aug                  at Loos

Sep-Nov          moving from Neuve Chapelle to Haussy; at Haussy quite a few deaths from friendly fire

on day of armistice 11 November 1918: they were at Eth.

Looking for an action in 1918 in which both the Wiltshire Regiment and the 9th Welsh Regiment were involved: at I found an account written by a man who had fought at the Battle of Champagne 27 May to 19 June 1918.  This is the most likely candidate for the attack in which 2nd Lt Coryn was gassed.  


The gas used will have been mustard gas: wikipedia on Chemical Weapons in WW1: mustard gas, called Vesicant by the Germans, 1st used by them in July 1917 at the 3rd Battle of Ypres.  The stuff was loaded onto a shell.  After the shell had exploded the stuff stayed in the ground for up to months depending on the weather, and could cause injury all that time.  Relatively few people died in the immediate aftermath of being gassed; it was used to cause injury and disablement, and to demoralise.  Damage from the gas was not confined to inhaling it: you could get blisters; sore eyes up to blindness; vomiting; internal and external bleeding; damage to bronchial tubes. 



From the wikipedia World War 1 timeline, trying to date the account of Marjorie Stella’s wartime work as described in the Paul Horguelin website which I’ve reproduced in the original French below:

            6 April 1917     USA declares war on Germany

            25 June 1917   first US troops arrive in France

            7 Dec 1917      USA declares war on Austria-Hungary.


Extract from which is a website on the life of the French radio pioneer Paul Horguelin, founder (1930) of Paul Horguelin et Cie.  From 1916-19 Horguelin was working as an engineer at the Institut Agricole de Beauvais while building and experimenting with radios in his spare time.  He was called up aged 19 and during his national service, worked on telephone communications for the French army.  This is the extract, which I believe has confused Marjorie Stella and Agnes Sophia Coryn - it seems to be saying that Marjorie was Agnes’ writing name.  It’s Marjorie Stella whose dates are 1894-1968.


Agnès Sydney Coryn (1894-1968), mieux connue sous son nom de plume de Marjorie Coryn (ou encore "Gipsy" pour les intimes) est une femme de lettre d'origine anglaise auteur de nombreux romans historiques entre les 2 guerres ("Le Chevalier d'Éon", "Le mariage de Joséphine" pour les plus connus). En 1917, alors qu'elle est établie à San Francisco, les États-Unis entrent en guerre. Elle se porte volontaire en même temps que sa mère pour rejoindre le front en Europe. Elle est alors affectée à l'accueil des permissionnaires à la gare de Châlons (en qualité d'infirmière) et fait rapidement connaissance avec Paul Horguelin, tout juste 18 ans, qui ne tarde pas à lui faire la cour. Agnés Coryn est bientôt reçue à Nuisement et devient une intime de la famille. La guerre finie "Gipsy" quitte la France pour s'installer en Angleterre. Elle garde cependant des contacts étroits avec Paul Horguelin durant toute sa vie.


The Paul Horguelin website mentions that he also knew Florence Billings, another holder of the croix de guerre.  To, the website of the Five Colleges Archives and manuscript Collections, which has Florence Billings’ papers.  Billings was born into a wealthy family in Hatfield Massachusetts in 1879; they family moved to Redlands California in 1893 but Florence spent most of the years before World War 1 in Europe and was in Europe when the war broke out.  War work.  When the USA joined the war she returned to America to join the American Red Cross.  As a member of the US Red Cross she served in a canteen and did relief work just behind the front line at Chalons-sur-Marne; she was awarded a croix de guerre for this work.  Later, she knew Atarturk and was involved in post-World War 1 Turkey as a translator.  I’m supposing that Florence Billings and Marjorie Stella Coryn were working in the same hospital/canteen in 1917-18.


The Supplement to Who’s Who volumes 3-4 published in the USA 1942 p129 Marjorie Stella Coryn.  Born Billericay 8 May 1895.  Unmarried.  Served in a French army canteen and hospital 1917-18.  Croix de Guerre France 1918.  Reparation Committee translation bureau Paris 1921-25.  Turkish Reparation Committee Paris 1924-30.  Then a list of publications see below for my list. 


Just noting that I found the names of two English women who’d been awarded the croix de guerre.  They were both nurses: Millicent Sylvia Armstrong who got it specifically for rescuing wounded soldiers while under fire; and Dorothy Feilding.  According to the website, there are 40 British holders of the croix de guerre.  I couldn’t find Marjorie’s name among those listed at the website and I’m sure whether Marjorie counts as British for these purposes.  Other holders included the actor James Stewart.


Marjorie Stella Coryn’s publications:

In the British Library Catalogue; all works pubished London

1932    The Chevalier d’Éon 1728-1810.  Thornton Butterworth.

1933    Black Mastiff [A biography of Bertrand de Guesclin].  Arthur Barker.

1934    The Acquirer. [A biography of William the Conqueror.] Arthur Barker.

1934    The Black Prince 133-1376.  Arthur Barker.

1936    House of Orleans.  Arthur Barker.

1937    Knave of Hearts; being the Romantic Adventures of Count de Lauzun a gentleman of Gascony.  Thornton Butterworth.

1938    Marie-Antoinette and Axel de Fersen.  Arthur Barker.  W the Marr of Josephine, the title that came up most on the web.

1944    Ridiculous Dictator. [A novel].  Constable and Co.

1945    The Marriage of Josephine.  Hodder and Stoughton.  Easily the m responses on the web; and sevl transl

1947    A Swarm of Bees. [A novel.].  Hodder and Stoughton.

1947    Power Instead.  Hodder and Stoughton.

1950    Sorrow by Day: a royal love story of no importance.  Hodder and Stoughton


Not all Marjorie Stella’s books are in the British Library.  Via google I also found these:

1943    The Incorruptible

1947    Alone among Men

1951    Sorrow.  Though this might be a shortened title of ‘Sorrow by Day’

1954    Enchanters of Men


Some later work in 1960s girls’ comic Princess: Royal Daughters; and Daughters of Adventure; both illustrated by John Millar Watt.  I found this information at but that website was quoting Masters of Fun and Thrills: The British Comic Artists volume 1 by Norman Wright and David Ashford.  Published by Norman Wright 2008; p112.






17 March 2013