A WORD OF WARNING BEFORE I START: this is my biography of a member of the Golden Dawn’s Horus Temple at Bradford. The Horus Temple had two groups of people in it: one group who actually lived in Bradford or the surrounding villages, and a second group who lived in Liverpool and Birkenhead. This person was one of the Liverpool/Birkenhead group. Exactly what the connection between the two groups of people was I’m not sure - it’s probably that they were all in the Theosophical Society. Anyway, I could have done a much better job of this person’s biography if I lived in the Liverpool area myself and could look at local archives.
Herbert Crooke was initiated into the Golden Dawn’s Horus Temple in September 1894; at that time he was living at 67 Lord Street Liverpool. He chose the Latin motto ‘Pax et caritas’. As the records of the Horus Temple have been lost, it isn’t possible for me to know how keen a member he was, but from records at the GD headquarters in London it seems he didn’t pursue his initiation very far. I shall show in this biography that Herbert found that his main interests lay elsewhere.
Crooke is an unusual surname (the spelling without the ‘e’ is much more common) but I’ve still found it difficult to identify Herbert’s parents on the 19th century censuses, so I don’t know much about them. John Whitehead Crooke and Ann Eliza Monk were both born in Lancashire in the 1830s; John W in Burnley, Ann Eliza in Preston. I haven’t been able to identify either of them or their families for certain on the censuses of 1841 and 1851; though on the day of the 1861 census - after John W had left home - his widowed mother Hannah was running a post office and ironmonger’s shop in Clifton Street, Lytham St Anne’s. Herbert Crooke and his mother were staying with Hannah that day; John W seems to have been out of the country.
John W Crooke and Ann Eliza Monk married each other in 1859 and Herbert was born in 1860, the eldest of their five children. On the day of the 1871 census John W, Ann Eliza and their family were living in Fulwood Lancashire. John W told the census official that he was working as a “cashier”; there are no details of his employer on the census form but the skills he had made him very employable - he could have been working for a bank, a cooperative society, in local government or for a business big enough to have a special department for cash transactions (like paying the work-force).
Herbert’s working life indicates he had a good education. I don’t know how he got it but he was just young enough to have benefited from the 1870 Education Act. If that hadn’t been rolled out in the Lytham area when Herbert was of school age, the most likely alternative would have been a Church of England school run by the National Society for Promoting Religious Education. He would have left such a school at age 14 or so and by 1881 he had found work and left Liverpool. On the day of the 1881 census he was working as an engine fitter in Hull, and boarding with Martha Kelwick at 10 Thomas Street Drypool.
My assumption that Herbert Crooke had a good education is based on the next phase of his life, which I do find a bit baffling: at some point between 1881 and 1891 he returned to Lancashire and got an office job with an insurance company. It’s a rare jump - engine fitting to office job. Perhaps there was something about his experience as an engine fitter with a railway company that gave hims skills suited to an insurance company in an era when the business of insurance seems to have been expanding faster than the number of people experienced in the work. Perhaps Herbert Crooke had developed skills in assessing claims. Or possibly in man management, because on the day of the 1891 census he described his occupation as “manager” - he wasn’t just a clerk, he managed clerks. It was a very senior position for a man just over 30 to fill.
Herbert Crooke had married Mary Allen in Preston in 1886. There are so many women called Mary Allen in the census that I haven’t been able to identify Herbert’s wife prior to her marriage, to discover where she grew up and whether she worked before her marriage. She and Herbert had three children, all boys: another Herbert; Norman Whitehead Crooke (born 1889); and Sidney Egerton Crooke (born 1893 and probably the godson of a GD member mentioned in the next paragraph). Herbert was born around 1886, but not in England; Mary Crooke was from Glasgow and perhaps returned to her family for the birth of her first child. Norman and Sidney were born in the Liverpool area. On the day of the 1891 census Herbert, Mary, the two elder boys and Mary’s widowed mother (also called Mary) were living at 7 Windsor Road, North Meols Southport. It was in these circumstances - married with a young family and working in an insurance office probably in central Liverpool - that Herbert Crooke discovered the Theosophical Society (TS).
Herbert Crooke applied to become a member of the TS in August 1893. At that time, you had to find two members to sponsor your application and both Herbert’s sponsors were members of the GD as well as the TS: Sidney Coryn; and Joseph K Gardner, who was a local man. Sidney Coryn was from London but was working in Liverpool around 1891 and kept in contact with his Liverpool acquaintances after he returned to the capital. He was from a family very actively involved in theosophy, and had studied with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in person at the TS’s worldwide headquarters in Regent’s Park. He and Herbert Crooke became good friends, sharing an interest in one particular facet of theosophy which did not necessarily concern all TS members - the idea that theosophy made all men (and women) brothers under the skin.
Herbert Crooke joined the TS’s Liverpool Lodge, where Joseph Gardner was based (theosophically speaking) and where he probably knew many of the members already. However, at the end of 1893 he and Mary moved to Southport, where Herbert was soon busy helping to found a new lodge. He became its first secretary in 1894. Both lodges had very committed members and organised a busy programme of talks and study sessions; Southport Lodge even produced its own magazine, called Aura, at one stage. However, most of the members of both lodges took the side of the American William Quan Judge, in the struggle for power in the TS that broke out around 1894; against Annie Besant, who also claimed the right to lead the TS after the death of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Although Besant’s claim was endorsed by Colonel Olcott, who had helped Blavatsky found the TS, support for Judge was so strong in Liverpool that it was there that the committee was founded to orchestrate Judge’s campaign in England. And when Judge lost the debate, and was censured by senior figures in the TS worldwide - that happened in July 1894 - most of the members of the Liverpool and Southport lodges resigned from the TS, including Herbert Crooke.
Although Herbert Crooke no longer wanted to be a member of the TS worldwide, he had managed to keep hold of his belief in the principles of theosophy throughout the power struggle (which got very nasty and very public in 1895). For a couple of years, all the theosophists in his position had nowhere to go (though I’m sure they kept up their friendships with like-minded ex-TS members). However, only a couple of months after Judge’s death (which took place in April 1896) a new leader, Katherine Tingley, began to rise to power in the TS in America, calling on theosophists to band together under the banner ‘universal brotherhood’. In June 1896, Mrs Tingley and a group of followers began a world tour. They arrived at Southampton on Sunday 21 June 1896 and passing through London, made Liverpool their first important stop. Herbert Crooke and Joseph Gardner were amongst those who met Mrs Tingley and her ‘Crusaders’ at Lime Street station in Liverpool. The following day there was an informal meeting between Mrs Tingley’s group and Liverpool-based theosophists in the afternoon, and then an event in the evening called a “Brotherhood Supper”, with poor people invited in to sit down with the theosophists to a meal. Herbert Crooke may not have been able to get time off work to attend the afternoon meeting but he was definitely at the Brotherhood Supper and wrote up an account of it afterwards. On the evening of Tuesday 23 June 1896 there was a public meeting at the Picton Lecture Hall. Sidney Coryn’s brother Herbert came from London to attend it, with Archibald Keightley (who had also questioned Annie Besant’s right to succeed Blavatsky though he did stay a member of the TS worldwide). During the meeting Herbert Crooke presented Mrs Tingley with a Union Jack, on behalf of those English theosophists who wished her well. The following day, the Crusaders left Liverpool for Bradford; but for Herbert Crooke those two days had been a life-changing, life-enhancing event. He committed himself to Katherine Tingley’s vision of the future of theosophy and became the secretary of her Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society in England, an (unpaid) post he held until the mid-1920s.
At the end of her lecture tour of the world, Mrs Tingley returned to America and began the work of building the universal brotherhood community at Point Loma. In February 1897 Herbert also went on a tour (not such a grand one), acting as Mrs Tingley’s agent by visiting the Universal Brotherhood groups that had been set up in Paris and England by theosophists wanting to support her. At this time, he was described as “always ready to address meetings anywhere” about universal brotherhood, and he was still giving talks on theosophy in 1918.
As far as I know, no records of the UB/TS in England have survived, but it must have been based on the groups Herbert visited in 1897; and it had been set up formally by 1900, possibly in 1898 when its sister organisation was founded in the USA. As well as keeping the membership records, Herbert Crooke organised a New Year’s meeting of all members based in or near London - rather like the GD’s Whitsun meeting, I should imagine - which was held even in wartime from 1900 to 1922 and probably for a few more years than that. He sent regular reports to Mrs Tingley of how the UB/TS in England was doing and, though he never lived there, he went to visit her theosophical community at Point Loma California at least twice. The first visit that I know of was under extraordinary circumstances. In June 1915 Herbert Crooke represented the UB/TS in England at Mrs Tingley’s Parliament of Peace and Universal Brotherhood; the only foreign delegate from any of the countries involved in the first World War (there were some delegates from neutral European countries). He probably met Mrs Tingley in Europe whenever she visited it on a lecture tour: for example, when she and others from Point Loma attended the Theosophical Peace Congress held in Sweden in 1913.
In partnership with Sidney Coryn and others, Herbert Crooke edited The Crusader (1897-99) and the Theosophical Chronicle (1900-05), magazines which tried to bring universal brotherhood to a wider audience. He also contributed a few articles to Point Loma’s journal, The Theosophical Path, which Mrs Tingley edited.
Herbert Crooke continued as secretary of the UB/TS in England into the 1920s and was even given a kind of promotion, the job changing its name to ‘director’ in his later years. However, he had retired from the post by October 1927 when he met Mrs Tingley in London at the end of her latest lecture tour and accompanied her back to Point Loma. Two years later, Mrs Tingley died, in Europe, during another lecture tour and I imagine Herbert felt the loss very deeply. Of course, I don’t know how much Herbert knew about it, but the community at Point Loma declined very rapidly in the early 1930s, many people leaving it once Mrs Tingley was no longer there to lead and inspire them. I imagine the UB/TS in the UK declined as well though I do not know when it eventually folded (as far as I know it doesn’t exist any longer).
Herbert Crooke might be committed to universal brotherhood but he had a family to support and had to work. His working life followed a pattern more associated with the 20th century than with the 19th, with the complete change of career I’ve already mentioned, from skilled labourer to office worker; and also with several changes of employer. I think his hard work and enthusiasm got him noticed by more than just Katherine Tingley. By 1901, Herbert had moved to Bristol - where one of the Universal Brotherhood groups had been set up in 1897 - and was working for Rock Life Assurance Company as supervisor of their Bristol office. I don’t have any information about which firm or firms he was employed by before this date, but perhaps he had been working for Rock Life in Liverpool and the move to Bristol involved a promotion. Rock Life was a very old-established firm - it had been founded in 1806. If Herbert Crooke worked for Rock Life in Liverpool, he wasn’t in the firm’s head office - that was in London, at 15 New Bridge Street, Liverpool had a branch office only, which at least in 1870 was in Baltic Buildings, Red Cross Street. In 1904, Herbert changed employer again, when he was appointed by British Law Fire Insurance Company to be secretary of their South Midlands district, which covered some of the Home Counties and Oxfordshire. The new job was based at the firm’s head office, at 5 Lothbury Bank in the City of London; so the Crookes moved to west London and on the day of the 1911 census were settled at 84 Goldsmith Avenue, in the newly-developed area of Acton. By this time Herbert’s name-sake son Herbert had left home - I can’t find him after the 1901 census so he may have gone abroad. Norman and Sidney were still at home. Norman had graduated from London University and was working as an estimating clerk - that sounds like a City of London job to me although Norman’s employer wasn’t named on the census form. And Sidney was working as a jig and tool draughtsman. I note that Herbert’s wife Mary was a hard worker too, and the family was still being careful with its money, even now there were three wage-earners in it: at no time up to 1911 did Mary Crooke employ a live-in servant.
The trauma of the first World War affected the Crooke family directly: both Norman and Sidney went into the forces and Norman was killed. Norman must have been one of the young men who volunteered as soon as war was declared (4 August 1914) and by the end of the year he was dead. Knowing that gives a poignancy to Herbert’s determination to go to the Peace Parliament despite all the difficulties and dangers of travel in wartime (though the US was not in the war as yet). The last year of the war may have brought anxiety of a different kind, as British Law Fire Insurance Company was taken over, by London Assurance, with all the uncertainties that being bought out brings. Having had three different employers, he may not have had much of a pension - I wonder what he did about that? He may not have been able to retire.
Herbert Crooke died in 1931. The death was registered in Liverpool. Maybe he was living there, able to retire after all. Many years later, a theosophical magazine described him as “strong-souled”; I think he would have liked to be remembered that way.
A WORD ABOUT SIDNEY EGERTON CROOKE
It looks as though Sidney Crooke was doing an apprenticeship in 1911. By 1914 he had qualified and was a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Though he certainly served in some capacity during World War 1 I don’t think he was sent to the Front, his skills were too important for him to be wasted that way. By 1927, he was working for Crossley Motors of Manchester. The firm held the rights to a gas-fuelled internal combustion engine - the sort used by Leyland buses - and made buses, cars and military vehicles. He continued to work for the firm until 1951 and was involved in developing several modifications to engines which the firm had patented.
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. The records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have not survived beyond 1896 either, but there’s a history of the TS in Bradford on the web (though originally written in 1941) at www.ts-bradford.org.uk/theosoc/btshisto.htm in which a lot of the same people who joined the GD are mentioned. After surviving some difficult times in the 1890s, Bradford TS still seems to be going strong (as at December 2012). In April 2012 the History page was updated with the names of all the members at least up to 1941.
The members of the GD at its Horus Temple were rather a bolshy lot, and needed a lot of careful management!
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 HERBERT CROOKE
HE’S A THEOSOPHIST, JUDGE THEN TINGLEY
Theosophical Society Membership Register June 1893 to March 1895 p29 entry for Herbert Crooke. Application dated 25 August 1893. Sponsors Sidney Coryn and J K Gardner. Yearly subscription paid 1893-95. Handwritten note: “W Q Judge”. Addresses during his time as a member:
67 Lord Street Liverpool
19 Windsor Road Southport
Main lodge: Southport (J K Gardner was also a member of Southport Lodge). There’s no evidence that Mary Crooke was ever a member of the TS.
Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine Volume XIV covers March-August 1894, editor Annie Besant. Published by Theosophical Publishing Society of 7 Duke Street Adelphi London WC. Volume XIV number 79 issued 15 March 1894; p82 news section, item on Southport Lodge. Its new Secretary was Herbert Crooke of 19 Windsor Road. The lodge had begun issuing its own journal, called Aura.
British Library catalogue - nothing as author; but as co-editor:
1897-99 volumes 1-3 of Ourselves. Editors were Sidney Coryn, Herbert Crooke, Frederick John Dick and Katherine Tingley.
1900-04 The Theosophical Chronicle volumes 1-5, with Sidney Coryn as editor-in-chief but Crooke, Dick and Tingley also listed.
1905 then discontinued: International Theosophical Chronicle, editors Sidney Coryn and Herbert Crooke.
Website www.scribd.com had put online the US theosophical magazine Theosophy. In volume XI number 1 April 1896 p28: the announcement of the death of William Quan Judge, on 21 March . He had been the journal’s editor.
At www.scribd.com, Theosophy volume XI number 2 May-Dec 1896. On pp130-34 there’s an account (written on 4 July 1896) of the first few days spent by Katherine Tingley’s Crusaders’ group in England after their arrival at Southampton on 21 June 1896.
http://www.theosociety.org/pasadenaVia the web to The Labour Annual: the Reformers’ Yearbook volume 3 1897 p121 describes Herbert Crooke as a “home crusader” and as “always ready to address meetings anywhere”. Which he certainly does: www.scribd.com has also put online Point Loma’s journal The Theosophical Path. In volume XII number 1 January-April 1897 p30 gives a description of Herbert’s recent tour. He’d “spent the first week of February  in Paris” before going to Portsmouth, Brighton, Market Lavington, Clifton, Manchester, Chesterfield, Baildon and Scarborough; where he spoke to recently-formed Universal Brotherhood groups.
Also at website www.scribd.com, the magazine Universal Brotherhood (which I think may be the previous name of The Theosophical Path; or a continuation of the magazine Theosophy, with a new name). In volume XIII number 1 January-April 1898 pp226-228 an article by Herbert Crooke: A Chinese Fable. He says he’d first come across the story in a children’s book.
Via web to snippet from the International Directory of Booksellers and Bibliophile’s Manual issued by Dodd, Mead and Co 1910. On p479 Herbert Crooke is described as Honorary Director of the Univeral Brotherhood and Theosophical Society. There was an address on the snippet - 18 Bartlett’s Buildings London - but because it was a snippet I’m not sure whether it’s to do with Crooke, or another entry on the same page.
Via googlebooks to The Theosophical Path Jan-June 1922 p197-98 pubn of an article orig in Du and pubd 27 Aug 1913 in Niewe Arnhemsche Courant. Article was a visit to Arnhem by Tingley and the Raja-Yoga orchestra fllwg the 20th World Peace Congress wh had tkn pl at The Hague. Tingley and R-Y orchestra had come to the Peace Congress from the Theosl Peace Congress in Sweden. I couldn’t find anything which listed the people who attended the Theosophical Peace Congress.
At www.scribd.com, The Theosophical Path I couldn’t see the volume number but it’s covering July-December 1915. On p80 Herbert Crooke at the Parliament of Peace and Universal Brotherhood p79 which took place 22-25 June 1915 at Point Loma in its Aryan Memorial Temple and at Tingley’s house. The only other people from Europe who were present were delegates from Holland and Sweden.
At ww.scribd.com, The Theosophical Path volume XIV number 2 Feb 1918 p1 list of contents includes a short article by Herbert Crooke: The Rise and Fall of Dogma, part of a larger series (not all written by him) called Theosophical Manual XVI. Herbert’s article is on pp192-93 and strikes a note that I’ve noticed very often in theosophical journals - Herbert states his belief that dogma is on the decline and looks forward to the “Light of a New Day” full of “Ancient Wisdom”.
At www.scribd.com, The Theosophical Path volume XV number 1 covers July-December 1918; I think I couldn’t find the page number but there was a reference in this volume to Herbert Crooke’s Talks on Theosophy.
At www.scribd.com, The Theosophical Path. I couldn’t find the first page of this volume so I don’t know the volume and issue number but it’s covering January-June 1922. On p154 is part of a letter written by Herbert Crooke to Katherine Tingley on 1 January 1922; the latest in a long correspondence. Herbert is described as “for many years Director of the Universal Brotherhood and TS in England”. In his letter he’s reporting on the 22nd New Year ceremony for London-bsd members of the UB/TS in England. The first such ceremony had been held in December 1900 and they’d been held every year since, even during World War 1.
Via googlebooks to The Theosophical Path volume 32 January-June 1927. On p92 there’s mention of Herbert Crooke as now retired from his post as “Director of the Univeral Brotherhood and TS in England”. On p101 there’s a description of the return of Katherine Tingley to San Diego after a lecture tour in Europe which ended with a date at the Wigmore Hall on 31 October 1926. Accompanying her were on her return to the US was (inter alia) Herbert Crooke.
Via the web to Theosophical Forum volume 26 1948 p36 where Herbert Crooke is described as “strong-souled”.
FOR MORE ON POINT LOMA
HERBERT CROOKE’S WORKING LIFE
Insurance Directory and Year Book 1901 p90 H Crooke is in a list of senior officials of insurance companies: “Sup’t Rock Life” Bristol Agency.
At www.aim25.ac.uk, website of archives within the M25: Rock Life Assur Company operated from 1806 to 1942. Its headquarters were at 14 New Bridge Street (later renumbered as 15 New Bridge St). By 1912 it had a number of subsidiaries, eg in Canada. Its records are now at the London Metropolitan Archive.
At www.britishonlinearchives.co.uk is a transcription of Gore’s Directory for Liverpool and its Environs issue of 1870; on p5 Rock Life Assurance Co is at Baltic Buildings, Red Cross St.
The Bankers’ Magazine volume 77 1904 p507 announcement by the British Law Fire Insur Co of Herbert Crooke’s appointment. The same information is published in Post Magazine and Insurance Monitor issue of 13 February 1904 p118.
At www.aim25.ac.uk, website of archives within M25: British Law Fire Insurance Co Ltd existed 1888-1955 though in 1918 it was bought by London Assurance who in their turn were bought much later by Sun Alliance. The headquarters of British Law Fire Insurance Co was at 5 Lothbury Bank London EC. It did everything except life assurance. Its records have since been deposited by Sun Alliance at the Guildhall Business Library.
HERBERT CROOKE junior
He didn’t die or get married between 1901 and 1910. The two military/World War 1 sites below did not list him as among the dead (though of course he might have been badly injured).
NORMAN WHITEHEAD CROOKE
University of London Calendar 1910 p505 in a list alphabetical by surname, I’m assuming its of this year’s graduates: Crooke, Norman Whitehead
Ahttp://www.genesreunited.co.ukt www.military-genealogy.com information that Norman Whitehead Crooke was killed during World War 1. Confirmed at www.genesreunited.co.uk with a bit more detail: he died in 1914 and he was in the army.
SIDNEY EGERTON CROOKE
Via booksnow1.scholarsportal.info to a list of members issued 2 March 1914 by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers: includes Sidney E Crooke. So does another list from 1922 seen via archive.org/stream.
London Gazette Supplement issued 1 January 1919. On p24 there’s the middle of a very long list and with no details at the top of the page to make clear what list it is. It might be a list of men recently demobbed, I suppose: Sidney Egerton Crooke, described as “Lt (A/Maj) SEC D/286th (W Lancs)” Brigade, “RFA, TF”. (I transcribed this carefully as I’ve very little idea what it means.)
Via www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/ to the records of the Invicta Bridge and Engineerin Co Ltd. I don’t quite understand the connection between the two firms but the records include details of S E Crooke’s appointment as assistant works manager at Crossley Motors, in 1927; and as works manager 1929. There’s also a list of assignments of patents involving him, and Crossley Motors Ltd and Crossley Marine Engines Ltd covering 1937-51. The file is 80/104/1/75-CRO-1 held at the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust at Banbury Road Gaydon near Coventry.
At www.patentmaps.com Sidney E Crooke is the assignee in 5 patents all involving improvements to ignition-type oil engines: Crossley Motors 1927; 1928; 1937; 1940; 1942.
Crossley Motors has a website: www.crossley-motors.org.uk Originally Crossley Brothers and founded 1867 by Francis Crossley (1839-97) and (Sir) William Crossley (1844-1911). In 1869 they bought the rights to a German-invented gas-fuelled internal combustion engine as used eg by Leyland buses. The firm became a limited company in 1881 and changed its name to Crossley Motors Ltd in 1904. It made cars until 1938; buses 1926-58; and military vehicles 1914-45. When the business was founded its address was Great Marlborough Street Manchester, though it moved to Openshaw in 1882 and moved again much later.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
1 April 2013