Jane Anna Davies was initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London in September 1891, choosing the Latin motto ‘Excelsior’. She was initiated into its inner, 2nd Order in March 1893, but then resigned from the Order in July 1894.
Jane Anna Davies was born in October 1834, the eldest child of Edward Greenaway, who with his father Thomas, ran a business selling hats and hosiery at 38 Bishopsgate in the City of London. Jane Anna was named after two Janes already in the family, her mother Jane Anna and her grandmother Jane Greenaway. The business run by Thomas and Edward Greenaway had been established in the mid-18th century and was a flourishing concern. In 1837 it could afford to spare £500 to buy shares in the London and Blackwall Railway and Steam Navigation Depot Company, which built and then operated the first rail link into the City; it ran from the ferry stop at Blackwall, through the heavily populated areas of Limehouse and Shadwell north of the West India Dock, and then into Fenchurch Street station. No doubt the Greenaways thought that the tunnel would bring their firm more business; but all the same, £500 was serious money. In July 1845 Thomas Greenaway retired, and from then until his own death in 1872, Jane Anna’s father Edward was head of the business.
Both Thomas and Edward Greenaway were well-known in the City; Thomas Greenaway slightly more so as he was elected to the City Corporation (the City’s equivalent to a town council) and served on the committee which dealt with the City’s pavements and sewerage system. In due course both Greenaways became members of the Drapers’ Company. The Company was run by an elected Master, who served for 12 months, and a group of Wardens. Thomas Greenaway served as a Warden during the 12 month period 1836 to 1837. Edward Greenaway first became a member of the Company in 1853. He spent 12 months as a warden in 1860-61 and served as Master (a great honour and it meant presiding at all the banquets and other official functions) in 1862-63.
Edward Greenaway was a cultured man. He loved music and was also interested in the science of his day. He was a member of the London Institution, a more London-focused equivalent of the Royal Institution, which held evening conversazioni and ran lecture programmes and classes taught by scientists such as T H Huxley. At its premises in Finsbury Circus were rooms and equipment which scientists including Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday used for their experiments. Edward Greenaway became a member of the Institution’s management committee in 1834 (so he will have known the Thomas Baring of Baring Brothers’ bank, who was its chairman) and was still a member in 1872, attending his last meeting only weeks before he died.
As well as being a mainstay of the London Institution for almost forty years, Edward Greenaway was also a manager of the children’s charity run by St Paul’s Cathedral; treasurer of the charity school run by the parish of St Ethelburga, where he had grown up; a member of the governing committee of a savings bank, the London Provident Institution of Blomfield Street; and an auditor of the Zoological Society of London.
Edward Greenaway married Jane Anna Cox at St Helen Bishopsgate in December 1833 and Jane Anna was born on 7 October 1834. Her sister Fanny was born in the City too; but by the time the youngest daughter, Emily, was born in 1838, although the family business stayed at the same address the Greenaways had moved out from living over the shop and moved to Islington, then a suburb of London. In 1841 they were living in the parish of St Mary, near Upper Street; by 1851 they had moved to Finsbury. How much the three daughters understood or even knew about the ideas regularly discussed by their father and his acquaintances at the London Institution is debatable - such get-togethers tended to be ‘all male’ affairs. However, Jane Anna and her sisters had a good education, even a quite expensive one, by the (low) standards of the day for women: their parents employed a French governess to teach them not only the language but also the manners of the country seen as the most cultured in Europe; and French governesses did not come cheap. Although there was no son to work with Edward Greenaway in the business, there was never any question of any of the daughters working in it at any level. By 1856 the Greenaways had moved even further from Bishopsgate in any case, to Kensington, where in the autumn of 1856 Jane Anna Greenaway married Charles Maurice Davies.
Charles Maurice Davies (always known as Maurice rather than Charles) came from a very similar background to Jane Anna, though I think not such a financially comfortable one: his father ran a drapery business in the cathedral town of Wells in Somerset. She and Maurice also had a shared interest in music. Maurice played the violin; and Jane Anna should have been taught to play the piano - it was a standard part of the education of a middle-class girl at that time. Even if Jane Anna had not shown any talent as a musician herself, she inherited her father’s enjoyment of the playing of other people, and at least during the 1870s, she and Maurice held musical parties for their friends, regularly on Friday evenings.
Maurice’s family had made efforts to ensure that their sons got the best education they could obtain and afford. Maurice had been sent to live with two maiden aunts while he attended King’s College School in London; from there he had gone to Durham University, graduated with a degree in classics and become a Fellow of the university before being ordained as a priest in the Church of England. In this way he had done what his parents had no doubt intended and stepped out of the merchants’ class, into the professional one; rather like Jane Anna Greenaway.
In many ways, Jane Anna’s life after her marriage was typical of married women in mid-Victorian England. She gave birth to 11 children: Charles and his still-born twin, 1857; Arthur 1859; John 1860; Robert 1861; Mary 1863; Dora 1865; Frederick 1866; Amy 1870; Rosalie 1872; and lastly Edmund 1873. And she managed a large household on a budget which seems to have got more limited after the early 1860s as her family and its expenses grew. For example, Jane Anna never employed a cook after the early 1860s, and it’s likely that the cook who was a member of the household on the day of the 1861 census was taken on to cook for more than just the family; and she never employed a nursery nurse at all, though she did employ a governess for a few years in the early 1880s. This implies that Jane Anna will have been doing a great deal of the housework herself: daily management, hiring and firing, childcare, shopping, cooking; while a general servant - two if the family income could cover it that year - did the cleaning. None of this was unusual. However, in other ways Jane Anna’s life was not especially typical, and that was down to the character of her husband.
Not for the Rev Maurice Davies the normal working life of a priest in the Church of England: moving on from periods spent as a curate to find a patron and be appointed vicar or rector of a parish, and stay working in that parish for life unless promotion intervened, doing no other work. A job in the Church of England did give a man an understood place in the community, and a guaranteed income, however small; this would be important to the son of a provincial shop-keeper trying to make his way through the shifting social sands of London. However, it’s clear from my research, that a life as a priest didn’t satisfy Maurice Davies; in particular, it couldn’t contain his curiosity and his urge to communicate with and about his fellow men and women. From the year of his marriage, Maurice Davies never did just do the work of a priest. From 1858 to 1860 he wrote three novels. In the 1860s he was headmaster and a teacher at the West London Collegiate school and his family lived on the school’s premises. As early as 1861 and as late as 1891, he also taught private pupils, about four at any time, who lived as part of the Davies’ household. From 1856 to the early 1880s at least and maybe later, he did reporting, journalism, leader-writing and editing for a variety of newspapers and magazines including the Daily Telegraph and the Western Morning News. In the 1850s he did translations of some Latin texts; and his last paid work, in the 1890s, was as managing editor of a group translating the texts used by Gibbon for his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. You can see from this paragraph that he was often doing several of these different types of work at the same time. And there were also periods where he wasn’t doing any work at all and wondering where the next year’s income was going to come from. If Jane Anna had been wanting the busy but quiet life of the conventional vicar’s wife, she should definitely have married someone else.
During the late 1860s and early 1870s, Maurice Davies became well-known for the newspaper articles he wrote in which he reported on his visits, firstly to the services of all the different Christian sects he could locate in London, and later to what he considered as the main alternatives to Christianity that he knew of in the capital city, for which purpose he went to meetings of Fenians, Secularists, Muslims and the Cooperative movement amongst others. On the borders between the two categories lay the Mormons and the Unitarians. Maurice Davies went to meetings of both of those groups and interviewed a Mormon newly arrived from the USA to begin what most have been the sect’s first attempts at prosyletising in Europe. The articles were later published as a series of books and it’s to them that I owe almost all of what I’ve found out about Jane Anna Davies; particularly about her and Maurice’s life in Spiritualism.
Maurice and Jane Anna Davies went to Paris for their honeymoon and stayed there nearly a year. Maurice was unemployed when they arrived but soon got his first newspaper job, as the Paris correspondent of a London weekly paper. This took him out of the flat a lot and Jane Anna got bored. To help make ends meet, they had let one of their rooms to Jane Anna’s ex-governess. When Maurice was out in the evenings the two women started to try out some of the methods that were supposed to put you in touch with spirits. The method called automatic writing worked the best: you all sat at a table and asked questions of the spirits, and one of you acted as medium, writing down the spirits’ answers. Her ex-governess thought that Jane Anna seemed to have a talent for acting as the medium. At first Maurice was inclined to laugh at them, but when his brother came to stay he was persuaded to join in a seance and his curiosity got him hooked. Maurice and Jane Anna started to hold seances regularly.
Maurice Davies makes it very plain in both his books that Jane Anna’s talent as a medium caused her much anxiety, on several counts, and she discussed her concerns about it very often with her husband. Firstly, she felt that automatic writing - with the writer passively writing what they were told by the spirits - was a most unsatisfactory way of communicating with the world beyond. When one particular spirit replied to a tricky question by causing her to write that the purpose of the spirits in communicating like this was to encourage people to believe in God, Jane Anna told Maurice that if people wanted to get in touch with God, they should use what she called the “regularly ordained” channels - that is, prayer and going to church services. Many years of seances later, she still felt that. In addition, she was always worried about whether she was quite as passive, during the automatic writing, as everyone assumed: could she be sure that the spirit was in charge of what was being written? Or was she, in some way, controlling the pen herself and “simply writing down her own ideas”? As their involvement in spiritualism grew, Maurice began trying out other ways of allowing messages from the spirit world to get through to this one. Jane Anna was particularly alarmed and unnerved during several sessions in which Maurice successfully hypnotised people. And during one particularly highly-charged seance she felt an atmosphere so negative that she got quite hysterical and rushed out of the room. However, despite all her reservations, Jane Anna continued to act as a medium in seances at home with people she knew well, and there was a very good reason for this.
Jane Anna and Maurice’s own sons were educated at the West London Collegiate school during the years they ran it (1861-68), and slept in the dormitories with the other pupils. In the autumn of 1865 the worst happened - the school had a scarlet fever outbreak. As was customary at the time, Jane Anna and Maurice sent those who were ill into isolation in the country. Their own son Johnny had caught it and had to go with them, and he died shortly afterwards with neither of his parents with him. They had been sent a telegram warning of Johnny’s dangerous state and had set out at once but arrived too late. The day after their son’s death they had sat down to a seance, and Jane Anna had written down a comforting message sent by Johnny, now in the spirit world.
Even 30 years after Johnny’s death Maurice Davies still felt his loss acutely - Johnny had been his favourite child. But he was able to look back and think that perhaps the message Jane Anna had received might have been a reflection not of spirits in the world beyond but of the intensity of her grief and her guilt at not being with her son as he was dying. In 1894 Maurice was able to reflect that they had never had another message direct from the dead child, despite all their attempts to reach him; they had only had messages from a spirit that had claimed to be a spirit-world guardian of Johnny. My own researches have found that in the spring of 1865, Jane Anna’s mother had died, so even before Johnny’s death Jane Anna had already been in a period of mourning, of heightened emotion. The message from Johnny gave her some relief from her misery. She still felt all the uncertainty she had always done about the whole spiritualist business but she kept on using seances to make herself available for any other messages he might send her, and by the 1870s she was also receiving messages from her other dead child, her eldest son Charles’ still-born twin. She was also sure that on one precious occasion, she had seen Johnny’s ghost.
Despite the ambivalence she felt about her talent at automatic writing, Jane Anna started to use it to help others, though she never took any payment for it. During the early 1870s Maurice Davies was working again as a curate, at St Paul’s Kensington. Jane Anna started going to seances organised by her husband’s parishioners, using her talent as a means of getting to know them better. She also acted as a medium, when asked, for other parishioners whose children had died.
The message from Johnny also made a big difference to Maurice Davies, though not in the same way. Whereas he had been sceptical before it, about the existence of the spirit world, and had kept his interest in spiritualism within the family, he now acted convinced and became a well-known figure in the wider social world which had sprung up around spiritualism, attending seances with its celebrity mediums and with the professionals (not always the same people as the celebrities), who charged for their services. He also accepted invitations to seances organised by people he only knew through mutual acquaintances, and he started writing about his experiences for the papers. Exactly how often Jane Anna went with her husband to these more public spiritualist occasions is difficult to tell, even from Maurice Davies’ books, but I think that he went to most of them on his own. He mentions particular occasions when his wife went with him to the seances he was invited to, but these seem quite rare (after all, she did have her own very busy life). It’s still possible that in this way, Jane Anna may have met the Rev Hugh Haweis and his wife Mary Eliza; and the scientist William Crookes. Years later, both Mary Eliza Haweis and William Crookes were initiated into the Golden Dawn.
The Rev Hugh Haweis and Maurice Davies were the two members of the Church of England most associated with what came to be known as Christian spiritualism. However, spiritualism was a topic that divided the church and its congregations, and Maurice Davies lost one job as a curate because of the way he publicised spiritualism and openly believed in it; and neither man was not offered any promotion within the Church of England. Throughout the 1870s Maurice Davies continued to believe in both the Church of England’s Christianity and the existence of the spirit world, and he undertook an experiment in which he hoped he would bring the two together: an experiment he called a “mystic oratory”. It’s not clear whether Jane Anna played a part in the mystic oratory experiment: Maurice does not name anyone who made up the congregation. Only a few, very carefully chosen people were involved in it. Some ordinary rooms were hired and prepared, and Maurice Davies held two religious services per week, complete with a sermon and followed by a seance. As he describes it, the idea was that the spirits of the dead should come from the spirit world into this one and take their place amongst the living at these services and seances; so that the congregation would be made up of both the living and the dead. The start of the experiment has been dated to early in 1881 but in that case, it had lasted only a month or two before Maurice Davies left the country.
In March 1881, fired up with enthusiasm as the mystic oratory experiment began, Maurice Davies wrote to the two Church of England archbishops defending spiritualism and arguing that it was possible to be both a spiritualist and a Christian; and offering to speak on the subject at the forthcoming Church Congress. And then - he was gone, at the end of May, to start a new job in South Africa. So suddenly did he depart that his family was left behind in England; in August, the readers of the spiritualist magazine Light were being asked to find the sum of £250 for Jane Anna and the children to follow him. I haven’t been able to find out what job it was that Maurice Davies did in South Africa; nor do I know whether Jane Anna managed to join him there. All the family were back in England in 1891.
If the mystic oratory continued after Maurice Davies rushed away to Africa, it must have been under someone else’s auspices. In any case it was a failure. The dead did not come. At the end of the lease on the rooms, the congregation went their separate ways. And Maurice Davies lost both his faith in spiritualism and his faith in God. He never held another post with the Church of England, and dropped out of spiritualist society as well. I’m not sure whether the family-centred seances also stopped but it sounds from Maurice’s writings that they did. His own belief in God and the spirit world now in tatters, Maurice envied Jane Anna’s own faith, which he described as “all along so utterly unshadowed by doubt”. She had never tried to force her own beliefs on anyone, however, and she did not do so now, even when - perhaps - her husband might have been grateful for being persuaded.
As with acting as a spiritualist medium, so with astrology: it was Maurice Davies who had the greater interest in it, but Jane Anna who turned out to be better at it. They both went for lessons in its techniques to a Mr Hockley. Maurice soon gave up the lessons, seeing he did so badly in them, but Jane Anna continued to learn. However, when Maurice wanted astrological advice, he went to an astrologer called Mr Wilson when he wanted to discover what future could be seen in the stars (like, would he be offered a job soon? - to which the answer was yes).
Meanwhile the wheels of family life were turning. Jane Anna’s father had died in 1872 and later in that decade her children began to leave school and find work - including two of her daughters. By 1881 Arthur Davies had gone to work in the offices of the Prudential Mutual Assurance Investment and Loan Association (the ‘Pru’) and in due course Amy and then Edmund also got work there. The tradition was continued into a second generation when Arthur’s sons Dudley and Roy worked there too. Charles worked for an estate agent; Robert for a firm of solicitors and Frederick for a trading company; and Rosalie became a teacher. It’s likely that three of Jane Anna’s sons went abroad to work: I can’t find Charles or Frederick on any census after 1881and Edmund after 1891, though they may just have liked to take their holidays around census day (which was usually near Easter).
In due course all of Jane Anna’s sons and daughters who were still living in England married. Arthur and Robert married two sisters, Mary Clara and Edith Georgina Killik (sometimes spelled Killick on the census). Dora married one of Maurice Davies’ living-in pupils, Charles Otto Dubois (known as Otto) who despite his French surname was actually Swedish. Amy married a senior bank official, Clarence Ravenscroft. And Rosalie married Henry Carr, though not until 1915. Mary married and produced (in 1882) what was probably Jane Anna’s first grand-child, a daughter; but I can’t read Mary’s married surname on the 1891 census, or find her in the two later ones, so I don’t know who her husband was.
By the day of the 1901 census, only Rosalie was still living with Jane Anna and Maurice Davies. It’s possible that she was still working as a teacher and the census official didn’t ask her about it; but she may have given up work to look after her parents. Jane Anna and Maurice had always changed their address fairly regularly, moving steadily out through west London from Notting Hill to Hammersmith; now they were at 7 Acton Lane on the fringes of Bedford Park where several GD members had been living in the 1890s. During 1901, Maurice Davies retired from work. He and Jane Anna made one more move, to 50 Connaught Road Harlesden, where Jane Anna died on 17 September 1908. Maurice survived for two more years, dying in September 1910. Rosalie went to live with her sister Amy.
I’ve indicated above that Jane Anna may have known, as early as the 1870s, several people who were subsequently initiated into the Golden Dawn. However, Jane Anna’s contact in the GD in the months before she was initiated was someone else entirely: Anne Carden. Jane Anna asked the GD to send correspondence addressed to her to Anne Carden’s house in Leinster Square. Anne Carden and her husband Alexander were initiated into the GD in March 1891; in 1892 a third family member was initiated, their daughter Pamela, who later married another GD member. Maurice Davies never mentions the Cardens in any of his writings that I’ve read and I think they may have been friends of Jane Anna rather than Maurice. Anne Carden, Alexander Carden and Jane Anna Davies all made the step up into the GD’s 2nd, inner, Order during March 1893 and probably prepared for it together. The subjects GD initiates studied were difficult, and candidates for the 2nd Order were tested on their knowledge and understanding, so it reflects well on Jane Anna’s education and application that she reached 2nd Order level in only 18 months (though she probably sailed through the astrology, being well-trained in it already). But then, all three only stayed as members of the GD for just over a year longer before they all resigned, the Cardens in June 1894 and Jane Anna in July (Pamela Carden continued as a member). None of the books on the GD that I’ve read discuss this sudden walk-out by three senior members; so I’ve no idea whether it was as a result of one of the bouts of in-fighting to which the GD was all too prone, or whether problems arose in the rest of their lives. My feeling is that the problems, if there were any, were in the Cardens lives; and the GD without them was just not going to be the same for Jane Anna Davies so she gave it up too.
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.
On the GD’s history:
The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: a Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923 by Ellic Howe. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972.
The Golden Dawn Scrapbook: the Rise and Fall of a Magical Order, another book on the GD by R A Gilbert. York Beach Maine: Samuel Weiser Inc 1997.
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.
ON THE GREENAWAY FAMILY
At there’s the text of the 1794 directory for London, Westminster and Southwark; Thomas Greenaway, hosier and hatter, is already in business at 38 Bishopsgate.
House of Commons Papers number 37, printed 7 March 1837: Private Bills presented to Parliament during 1837. On piv there’s a list of subscribers to the share issue of the London and Blackwall Railway and Steam Navigation Depot Company. The list includes Edward Greenaway, hatter, of 38 Bishopsgate; he bought 10 shares for a total of £500.
For more information on the London to Blackwall Railway: London’s Local Railways by Alan A Jackson. Newton Abbot, London and North Pomfret Vermont: David and Charles publishers, 1978; pp160-165. The stations were designed by William Tite, who was later employed as Secretary of the London Institution. The engineering contractors who built the railway were George Parker Bidder and George Stephenson.
Post Office Directory for London issued of 1846 p254 has the business called Edward Greenaway.
London Gazette, there was no date at top of page but the page must date from July 1845 and after the 25th; p2277 in a list of legal notices dissolving business partnerships includes one issued by Thomas Greenaway and Edward Greenaway, trading as Greenaway and Sons, hatters, of Bishopsgate Street. Their partnership was dissolved and in future Edward Greenaway would continue the business “on his own account”. Signed by both men and dated 25 July 1845.
For general information on the Drapers’ Company, see The Hall is at Throgmorton Avenue EC2N. I found the details of the Greenaways’ membership in The History of the Worshipful Company of the Drapers of London, by Rev A H Johnson. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1922. Details of the Greenaways’ membership are in Volume IV p438 and p444.
Annals of Science volume 39 1982 pp229-54 has an article on the life of William Robert Grove who was Secretary of the London Institution from 1841 to 1845 by M L Cooper and V M D Hall. P238 the London Institution was run on a daily basis by 4 managers; in 1840 Edward Greenaway was one of the four.
Journal of the London Institution volume 2 1872 published London: Unwin Brothers 1873. On p74 is an obituary of Edward Greenaway, who’d died on 25 April 1872. Virtually all my information on Edward Greenaway’s varied interests and commitments came from this and it was also very informative about his father.
At the website The auditors had been appointed on 21 January 1869, Edward Greenaway was one of them. in August 2012 I found a Report of the Auditors of the Zoological Society of London.
Via the Mormon family history website familysearch.org, details of the Greenaway family from the original records of St Helen Bishopsgate:
- Edward Greenaway was born on 12 January 1789, son of Thomas Greenaway and his wife Jane.
- Edward Greenaway married Jane Anna Cox at St Helen Bishopsgate on 14 December 1883
- Jane Anna Greenaway was born on 7 October 1834 and baptised, at St Helen Bishopsgate, on 1 November 1834
- Fanny Cox Greenaway was born on 13 August 1835 and baptised, at St Helen Bishopsgate, on 19 August 1835.
There was no record of the baptism of Emily Greenaway at St Helen Bishopsgate.
Times of Friday 9 September 1910 p11b has a short obituary but my researches since I read it have made me a bit worried about one or two details. It also makes no reference at all to his family life - in the way of obituaries at that time.
Dictionary of National Biography 2nd Supplement volume 1 A-E p474. This also has no reference to Maurice’s family.
MAURICE DAVIES AS A CHURCHMAN
Issues of Crockford’s Clerical Directory from 1851 to 1880 list his career to date. I looked at the issues of 1886 and 1904; both did not have a listing for him, so he was not employed by the Church of England in those years. The evidence that he did not work as a priest after 1881 comes from his writings on spiritualism - see below.
At the outset of Maurice’s career he seems to have had very ‘high church’ views: wikipedia’s page on Rev Charles Lowder says that he and a group of other young trainees for the priesthood founded the Society of the Holy Cross in 1855. The others in the group were: Charles Maurice Davies; David Nicols; Alfred Poole; Joseph Newton Smith; and Henry Augustus Rawes. Several of the group converted to Roman Catholicism later in their lives but Maurice had left the Society altogether by the late 1850s; his writings indicate a very ‘broad church’ attitude.
MAURICE DAVIES AS A NEWSPAPER-MAN
Most of the evidence for the various journals and papers he worked for comes from his own writings - see below.
Website has a Dictionary of Victorian London containing a number of Maurice Davies’ newspaper articles, including one in which he describes the execution by hanging of the baby farmer Margaret Waters; he’d got special dispensation from the Home Office to be present.
MAURICE DAVIES AND SPIRITUALISM
The two texts from which I’ve drawn my account of Jane Anna as a practising spiritualist are: Mystic London; and The Great Secret.
Mystic London: Or, Phases of Occult Life in the Metropolis by Charles Maurice Davies. London: Tinsley Brothers 1874. This is not as ‘occult’ as its title suggests: there’s nothing about hermeticism or magic or freemasonry or Rosicrucianism in it, although p205 begins an account of Maurice’s visit to an astrologer, not the one who taught him and Jane Anna. By ‘occult’ Maurice really means spiritualism: pp290 to the end of the book on p406 are concerned with different aspects of it and on p406 Maurice sums up his beliefs (this is before the Mystic Oratory experiment) by quoting from S C Hall’s poem Philosophy which is arguing that belief in spiritualism is a belief in Christ; and that death is a release into a Celestial Life free from pain and sorrow. S C Hall was one of Maurice’s parishioners.
The Great Secret and its Unfoldment in Occultism. Published London: George Redway 1895. In fact, it was published anonymously, as by “a Church of England clergyman”. However, the author is taken to be Rev Charles Maurice Davies by Janet Oppenheim in her The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychic Research in England 1850-1916 published Cambridge University Press 1985; and certainly various events described in it are the same as events that appear in Mystic London, including an account of the seance Jane Anna and Maurice held the day after the death of John Davies in 1865. The start at least of the Mystic Oratory experiment was dated by Janet Oppenheim very precisely to February 1881: see her footnote on p411.
Although Maurice Davies constantly refers to ‘my wife’ in both books, he never mentions her name.
The flight to South Africa:
Light: A Journal Devoted to the Highest Interests of Humanity, both Here and Hereafter. London: Eclectic Publishing Co Ltd of 4 New Bridge Street Ludgate Circus. Volume 1 January-December 1881: p93 issue of 26 March 1881; p108 issue of 9 April 1881; p164 issue of 28 May 1881; p253 issue of 13 August 1881. Neither Rev Maurice nor his family were mentioned in any subsequent issue; so I don’t know whether Jane Anna went to South Africa or had to remain in England. Just noting that I’ve looked at volumes of the magazine for 1881, 1885, 1890, 1895 and 1900 and haven’t seen any reference to Jane Anna attending any functions of the British National Association of Spiritualists or the London Spiritualist Alliance. And after this 1881 volume, I don’t actually remember seeing any references to her husband either.
GENERALLY ON SPIRITUALISM
Janet Oppenheim’s book as above; it has a section on Maurice Davies. And more specifically on women in spiritualism: The Darkened Room: Women, Power and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England by Alex Owen. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press 1989.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
9 August 2015
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: