Frank Tate Ellis was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London, in September 1888. He chose the Latin motto ‘Nova vita’. However, he was about to leave the country and he never took an active part in the Golden Dawn. As early as 1891, a note was added to the GD administrative files saying that he was no longer a member.

I’m sorry I’m not able to describe Frank Tate Ellis’s life in greater detail, but to do so would require spending several days if not weeks in Birmingham and Durham, examining original records. It would also require my overcoming some deeply-held prejudices against what Frank did for a living. Despite my views, however, I do think he was one of the GD’s most remarkable members: in the 1880s, from a worker’s cottage on the outskirts of York to Jerusalem, was a long way.


Thanks are due for this update to the husband of a distant relative of Frank’s first wife, who emailed me with some details about her early life. I had hardly been able to find out anything about her myself, so I was especially pleased to hear from him. Dorothy Forster turned out to be quite as remarkable a person as Frank was himself.

Frank Tate Ellis was born in 1861, the son of Francis Ellis and his wife Hannah, née Cartwright. Both Francis and Hannah had moved to Acomb from villages a little further from York: Francis from Beningbrough, Hannah from Rufforth. Francis had been a widower when Hannah had married him, so she had taken on the care of his three children from his first marriage: William, John and Wilstrop (the odd forename was his mother’s surname). Frank was Francis and Hannah’s first child. They had two more, Joseph and Mary Jane.

For about 40 years, Francis Ellis worked as a porter. He mentioned his employer to the census official in 1891; the writing was difficult to read but I think it says “NER Goods”. The North Eastern Railway was formed in 1854 by the amalgamation of several railway companies operating between the Humber and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. York was the NER’s hub and the magnificent station building that you see today is one Francis Ellis would have known - it was opened in 1877. The house in Front Street that Francis was living in in 1851 and continued to inhabit until his retirement might have come courtesy of the railway company. I’m not sure what Francis’ eldest son did for a living - William had left home by 1871 but the remaining four sons divide into two groups: John became a bricklayer and Joseph followed his father to work for NER; but Wilstrop left York to take up an apprenticeship with a grocer in Hull and later ran his own grocery and drapery business, and Frank also went away, to college.

It seems that Frank was the most studious of all the Ellis sons; and perhaps the most devout. On the day of the 1881 census, he was in Durham, training to be a teacher. He was a student at college called the College of the Venerable Bede when it was founded (in 1838) but known by the time Frank was a student there as Durham Training College for Masters. It was one of the Church of England’s training colleges for future schoolmasters in elementary schools. Frank was 20 on the day of the census, and would certainly not have gone there straight from school; the College only accepted young men of 18 or over. His most likely route to the college was via what was normal training for teachers in the 1870s, whereby some older pupils at any school were chosen learn how to teach on the job, by teaching younger pupils. By the time he was taken on by Durham Training College for Masters he might have had six or seven years experience as a pupil-teacher and then a school-master. Frank must have showed an aptitude for his work that was better than most other teachers; and have fulfilled the other important requirement of students at the College, of being a practising Anglican; to be chosen to have further training in this way.

Durham Training College for Masters taught young men while St Hild’s College did the same for young women. The training lasted two years, with examinations at the end of each year by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools, which will have included being observed taking lessons as well as written papers. All students studied a core curriculum: study of the Bible and of the Church of England prayer-book; English grammar and composition; English history; geography with a focus on the British empire; music; arithmetic; algebra; and - looking ahead to the their later careers - school management. In addition there were someoptional subjects: Latin, Greek, French and German. Some information I found about Frank from the 1890s indicates that he studied Greek at least, in addition to the basic set of subjects. By the time Frank began at the College, it was training the men (and St Hild’s the women) who would in future head the nationwide local authority-run schools set up by the 1870 Education Act. All the students had to agree to work (I couldn’t find out for how long) in schools that were part of the 1870 scheme when they graduated - and graduated probably is the right word, because only a few years later the College became part of Durham University and started teaching degree courses.

If Frank went to the Durham Training College when he was 18, on the day of the 1881 census he must have been about to take his second-year exams. There are, therefore, about seven years unaccounted for before he applied for the job that changed his life. I haven’t been able to find any information on where he worked. However, the evidence of his involvement in freemasonry suggests he may have taken a job in a school in the Baildon district of Bradford until, in 1888, he accepted the job of headmaster of Bishop Gobat School, which was in Jerusalem.

Frank may have been influenced in his decision to apply for the job at Bishop Gobat School by the death of his mother Hannah in 1887, which might have cut his closest family tie. Perhaps he was even fulfilling a wish of hers in taking the job. He wrote later about how thrilling it was for him as a devout Christian, to be living in the city where Jesus’ death and resurrection had taken place. But he may not have ever left England before setting out to take up his post, and although the CMS had a widespread presence in Palestine, Frank would still be doing something that even most well-travelled Britons never did - taking up permanent residence outside the British empire; in another, Muslim empire.


It was in this context that Frank agreed to be initiated into the Golden Dawn. He was a freemason by this time, a member of Baildon Lodge number 1545. Thomas Henry Pattinson and Oliver Firth were also members of the lodge and either of them could have passed Frank’s name to the GD hierarchy as a suitable member, though a recommendation by Pattinson would have carried more weight with William Wynn Westcott at least. Westcott and Pattinson were members of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia from which most of the early GD members were drawn. Pattinson became one of the founding members of the GD’s Horus temple at Bradford. Frank may also have known two other Bradford residents who were initiated into the GD in due course: Joseph Clayton had had a very varied employment career but in the 1880s he was running a confectioner’s shop in the Bowling district of town. In the evenings, however, studied the bible and the Kabbalah, and had taught himself some Hebrew and some Latin. Joseph’s daughter Fanny Isabel was an elementary school teacher in Bradford.

Frank will have been well aware that he couldn’t be an active member of the GD from Jerusalem, but he might have hoped he’d be able to do some of the study that the GD’s founders expected of its member. He didn’t do so, though.

In the same month as his GD initiation, Frank also joined the freemasons’ lodge Quatuor Coronati 2076, as a corresponding member. The lodge had been founded as a forum for the study of the history of freemasonry. Corresponding members were entitled to receive the lodge’s journal. They were also welcome at its meetings if they were in London, a comforting thought to someone about to go and live abroad for an uncertain period of time. It’s possible that Frank did attend a conversazione held by Quatuor Coronati 2076 in November 1895 at the Holborn Restaurant; though he returned to England very rarely after he moved to Jerusalem. He kept up his membership until around 1900 before letting it drop.


In April 1890 Frank married an Englishwoman, Dorothy Forster, in St Paul’s Church Jerusalem. Dorothy Forster was born in 1865, the third of the ten children of George Carnaby Forster and his wife Isabella. Dorothy was born in New Hall near Burton-on-Trent, but both her parents were from Northumberland and though they moved many times when Dorothy was young, it was usually within that county. On the day of the 1881 census – the last one in which Dorothy appears – the family was living in Corbridge, east of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and quite near Hexham where her father had been born. George Forster and his sons Thomas and George were all working as fire-clay miners; most probably for J Jameson and Son Ltd, makers of salt-glazed earthenware, who mined the local clay at Hook Hill Drift. Later, George and his sons went into business together as mining engineers.

Dorothy was 16 on census day 1881 and had left school. The census official didn’t note her down as working – meaning, of course, that no one was paying her a wage. However, I expect she was working very hard, helping her mother with all the work involved in running a household with 12 residents and one visitor in it, the youngest of whom was only three.

What took Dorothy from an industrial community in Northumberland to Jerusalem? No one seems to know now. The account of Dorothy’s wedding mentions Micklefield in Yorkshire as a stopping-off point on that journey – it’s just east of Leeds – but other than that, information is completely lacking. There’s no indication in the records I’ve seen that she went to Palestine as a missionary; and I have to say that it would be a very unusual trajectory indeed for a working-class women; more unusual by far than Frank Tate Ellis’s.

Whatever were the circumstances in which Dorothy Forster joined the British community in Palestine, its members turned out in force for her wedding to Frank. Dorothy was given away by the Rev John Zeller, another employee of the Church Mission Society, and son-in-law of Bishop Gobat. She had as bridesmaids Zoe, the daughter of Noel Temple Moore, the British Consul in Palestine; and the niece and daughter of the Rev Arthur Hastings Kelk, vicar of Christ Church Jerusalem and worker for the London Jews’ Society’s Mission in Palestine.

The marriage lasted one year: Dorothy died, in Jerusalem, in April 1891, and was buried in the Mount Zion cemetery. There is a memorial plaque to her in Corbridge Church; it was commissioned by Frank.


In 1894, Frank married Charlotte Low in Jerusalem. It’s the most startling marriage I’ve discovered amongst the GD members, because Charlotte was from a level of society several rungs above that of Frank’s family. She was a descendant of William Makepeace Thackeray through a couple of families in the landed gentry; and her father, John Alves Low, was for a time an officer in the royal artillery in the North-West Provinces of India, where Charlotte was born between 1864 and 1866 (I haven’t been able to find a record of the birth). The rigid class divides of previous centuries were beginning to break down in the late 19th, but more at the top of the scale than nearer the bottom, and a marriage between the landed gentry/officer class and the lower middle class was very unusual.

I found Charlotte, her mother Jane, and a younger sister (Augusta) living in Somerset in 1871. By this time John Alves Low had retired from the royal artillery but he was not living with his wife and children. In the decade between 1871 and 1881 Augusta Low died and Jane and Charlotte moved to Guildford, where John Low was still not living with them on the day of the 1881 census. It makes me wonder if Jane and John were, in fact, discreetly separated.

In 1880, the 14-year-old Charlotte Low had made clear her missionary ambitions in a letter to the CMS magazine for young people, the CMS Juvenile Instructor. Perhaps she took after her mother in this respect: I can’t find any information at all about Jane Low after 1881 - where she was living, where and when she died - but I noticed a Mrs Low in a list of missionaries working for the CMS in Palestine in the 1880s, and that might be her. Charlotte Low was a working as a missionary with the CMS in Palestine by 1891, having answered the CMS’s cry for women recruits of a particular kind. All charities could always do with more money than they’ve got, and CMS was no exception; for this and other reasons I spell out more clearly below, the CMS asked unmarried women volunteers to come forward to go to Palestine and take a few pupils into their own homes for Bible and other study. Such in-the-home teachers would have no official status; and the volunteers would have to pay their own living and other expenses. The only women who could possibly answer such a call would be those with a private income; so Charlotte must have had one, however small it was, because she was one of those (few) who answered the call. Like the others, she will have been hampered at the outset by being unable to speak any Arabic; but like the others, she learned it. She will also have had to struggle against the attitudes of local men to their women - that there was no reason why they should be educated. Charlotte could have continued this informal teaching scheme after she and Frank were married. She might even have had more room to carry it out, in the headmaster’s house. However, she would also have found herself with other duties, to do with her husband’s job.

I have not found any evidence that Frank had any children.


I shan’t write a history of Jerusalem during Frank Tate Ellis’ time living there. That would take too much time and too many words. I’m going to concentrate on a few issues, beginning with what the CMS was doing there and what part Frank played in its work. Then I’m going to give a quick description of what life in Jerusalem might have been like for him. And I’ll mention some important events in the history of the city which will have made a difference to him.

When I began my research on Frank’s life I rather supposed that the CMS would be working to convert Muslims to Christianity. That is what they would have liked to have done; and what they set out to do when they began sending missionaries in the 1850s. However, after their first mission in the Turkish empire (in Constantinople) had aroused local fury, the Turkish authorities issued a set of guidelines making it almost impossible for them to do the work they wanted to: Christian missionaries were forbidden to debate; or to hold meetings explaining Christianity, either in public or in private; or to do anything that the local authorities saw as denigrating Islam. In addition, it seems that in its enthusiasm to save souls, the CMS had overlooked an important fact of the Turkish empire: anyone converting from Islam to another religion was breaking the law and might face the death penalty. And in Palestine the CMS faced other problems: the Church of England had a separate organisation which attempted to convert Jews to Christianity. The majority of Jerusalem’s population being Jewish, and most of the rest being Muslims, the CMS workers in the city were and surrounding villages were left having to focus all their efforts on followers of the ancient Christian churches of Palestine. The Turkish authorities did not really care about that, of course, but it caused debate back in Britain and probably meant the CMS didn’t receive as many charitable donations they might have done.

Bishop Gobat School was one of many such schools that had been founded in Palestine by Samuel Gobat, who was consecrated second Anglican bishop of Jerusalem in 1846 after a long spell as a missionary in Ethiopia. All of the bishop’s schools had been taken over by the CMS in 1875-76. Their expenses were not paid from the CMS’s funds but by charitable donations made for that purpose and (if I’ve understood this right) paid directly to the schools. Frank’s salary will have reflected the fact that the school’s employees were expected to have a vocation and not be working solely for the money; and that the school was funded by donors who wouldn’t want to see any evidence of extravagant expenditure. However, in addition to what was probably a modest wage, he had a house provided on the school premises. Perhaps the CMS made it clear to Frank that it was desirable for the headmaster to be a married man; his wife - for no extra pay - could take on the role of school matron, and together they could set an example of Christian marriage to the pupils.

Frank was almost certainly Bishop Gobat School’s only British employee. Most teachers and other staff in CMS schools were local people. A list of CMS employees from the early 1900s shows only five British laymen (rather than clerics) working for them in Palestine. I wonder whether Frank could speak Arabic when he arrived in Jerusalem? I would guess not, though lessons may have been provided once he’d started work. I’m not sure how much actual teaching Frank did; probably not much. His role was managerial and when he was offered the job I’m sure he saw it as a promotion. It was he who prepared the school’s annual report to be sent to the CMS’s head office in London; who attempted to balance the books; and who supervised on the spot the long-term plans that CMS head office wanted carried out. These plans included a big reorganisation of its resources and buildings, which Frank had perhaps campaigned for: even before he had arrived in Jerusalem the school was full, and its rooms crowded. In 1898 its older pupils, their baggage and their teachers moved out to other buildings, creating a separate high school which in due course became Jerusalem’s English College. Frank stayed in charge of what had been the lower school, in the buildings on Mt Zion that had been built for the school when it was founded.

Frank had to play his part in trying to raise the funds that kept the school going from year to year. An article he wrote for a boys’ book on missionaries almost certainly had fund-raising in mind; but also, possibly, future missionary recruitment. Frank gave his schoolboy readers an account of daily life at the school, trying to make it seem like the British prep schools his readers might know (and he could not have known from personal experience): the pupils were all boys and all boarders; they had lessons all the morning; followed by lunch and a break - for cricket (no football here) Frank said, or help with the washing-up; more lessons in the afternoon; and homework in the evening. There were differences of course: English was a second language to the boys, who all spoke Arabic at home; they ate the local food, not a typically English diet; grace before meals was an Arabic hymn; and some pupils were taken out of school and not allowed to return when their relatives found out what they were learning. I know it was not Frank’s fault that he had all the prejudices of his age and background, but he made quite a point of telling his readers firstly that the pupils were “not black as many people think”; and secondly that they had to be taught how to use a knife and fork. With a passing reference to the restrictions CMS was working under, Frank explained that the school was not in the business of training missionaries - at least, not as such; he just hoped that when they left the school and returned to their home villages, their style of life would encourage their neighbours to come forward for conversion. He did not say that most of the pupils had been Christians to start with and he may have given his readers the wrong impression - which might even have been intentional: after all, schoolboys are most unlikely to have known that the CMS was forbidden to seek converts amongst the Muslim population. One source I found did say that occasionally the school might take in Muslim children but it was under very specific circumstances: from time to time CMS schools had dumped on them (by Muslim men) the children of a widow that they were about to marry, as they didn’t want to go to the bother and expense of bringing them up. The widow having no say in the matter, apparently.

The CMS had missions all over the world, so no one area could expect to have too much personal attention from members of the CMS hierarchy. It must have been very pleasant, then, for the CMS’s workers in Palestine to receive a boost in the shape of a visit from Ernest Graham Ingham, who had taken the job of Home Secretary of the CMS in 1897 after surviving 15 years as the bishop of Sierra Leone. He and his wife arrived in Jerusalem in April 1910, as part of a world-wide tour of inspection of CMS missions. They stayed with Frank and Charlotte at the headmaster’s house, and Frank undertook to show them Jerusalem.

I give details of where Frank took Bishop Ingham and his wife partly because I have so little information about Frank’s life, and partly because I expect Frank gave the Inghams a standard set of walks that all his visitors were likely to want to follow. The Inghams had timed their visit to coincide with Easter and with a conference of CMS workers in Palestine. Ingham must have begun his stay with a tour of the school compound and perhaps even sat in on some lessons. He mentions in his account of his time in Jerusalem that despite having 90 pupils and a shortage of space, the school coped very well - which must be down to Frank’s management. The Inghams’ first full day in Jerusalem was Easter Sunday, and Bishop Ingham’s first priority was a formal call on the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, bishop Blyth. That duty done, Frank took his guests to Christ Church Mt Zion, where Bishop Ingham preached the Easter Day sermon. After the service, Frank led the Inghams to the archaelogical site dug by the Palestine Exploration Fund and said by the PEF’s archaeologists to be the Green Hill Without The City Wall. They paused there while Ingham read aloud, from his Greek-language New Testament, St Luke’s account of the crucifixion; and all three prayed. This first guided walk finished with a visit to the Garden Tomb. On the morning of the following day, Easter Monday, Frank took the Inghams on a tour which included Solomon’s Temple; the Dome of the Rock; the Al-Aqsa mosque - where the bishop admired the Turkish carpets on the floor - and the building known as King Solomon’s stables. Then they went to Bethesda and Gabbatha and the house thought to be Pontius Pilate’s home and office headquarters, where the Roman official had washed his hands and allowed Jesus to be condemned. The next port of call was a spot where they could all look down seven feet below the current street level to an exposed stretch of the supposed Via Dolorosa; before the three ended their long walk at the Tower of Antonia. Then, I think, Frank had to go back to work, because beginning on the Tuesday, the Inghams made two trips out of town to visit CMS workers elsewhere: a one-day visit to Bethlehem and Olivet; and a two night stay at Jericho. They didn’t take Frank with them on either trip. The CMS’s spring conference began in Jerusalem at the end of that week. The Inghams attended its first session and then spent the weekend doing more devotional sight-seeing before leaving Jerusalem on Tuesday 5 April, to travel by train and boat to Cairo.

The support shown by bishop Ingham was a welcome break from the normal aggravation of living in the Turkish empire. Frank arrived in Jerusalem just before an event important in the economy of the city: he will have had to make the journey from the port of Jaffa by cart or on the back of a mule but in 1892 the two cities were finally connected by rail. Almost at once Jerusalem saw an increase in the number of people prepared to visit the city and businesses such as hotels and the provision of guides to the biblical sites soon sprang up. The increased visitor numbers were a two-edged sword for the CMS however: Christian pilgrims from Britain - perhaps supporters of the CMS already - could watch the missions at work and meet the workers; but the CMS’s relationship with the rulers of Jerusalem will have been further strained.

No Christians were given much favour by the Turkish authorities in Jerusalem, but the CMS’s missionaries complained continually about the attitude of the Turkish-appointed governor and his staff towards them personally. The CMS wanted to carry on their missionary work unthreatened. The authorities in Jerusalem were not prepared to give any special protection to a group of people whose opinion of Islam and Muslims was so scathing. The situation for all British residents of Palestine was made worse by British actions in Egypt and the Sudan: British people were taking the brunt of local hostility to what was going on there and the Turkish authorities were naturally concerned about where the increasing British involvement was going to end.

The control of the Turkish empire over its constituent parts was in slow decline in any case, and safety especially on the roads could not be guaranteed. In his article in Boys and Boys Frank mentions in passing an incident where some travellers were set upon and robbed at the gates of his school; if the travellers had been British I think Frank would have said so. He was also lucky to escape with his life on a trip out of the city. In April 1893, it being the school holidays, Frank and two acquaintances decided to make a trip to visit the Dead Sea and Jordan. The two acquaintances were a Mr Noel, who was staying at a hotel in the city; and an unnamed English woman - perhaps it was Charlotte Low - it’s not clear from my source whether the woman was a resident or another traveller. As was usual on such a trip, they took what they considered were adequate precautions: together with mules, donkeys and a horse for Mr Noel, they hired a “dragoman” - a local guide - some more local men to take charge of the mules and run the camp, and a native soldier. Despite their guard, at least one of whom was armed, their convoy was attacked on the way back from Jericho. About 15 shots were fired, and the soldier, the dragoman and one of the mule handlers ran off and left Frank and his companions to the mercy of the bandits - perhaps they were all part of the plot. One shot killed the donkey Frank was riding on, but he managed to scramble clear unhurt while Mr Noel tried to protect the woman and her donkey with his horse. The bandits seized the mules and while they were leading them and all their baggage away, Frank and his two companions were able to get back to Jericho and take refuge in an inn. They made it safely to Jerusalem the following day where their story was soon all over town. Edward Herbert Fison, of the Suffolk fertiliser-making firm, had only been in Jerusalem 10 days, but he heard it, and wrote a letter to the Times about it, the point he was making being that attacks like that were happening fairly often around Jerusalem. I shouldn’t imagine that Frank, Mr Noel and the unnamed English woman were attacked because they were British, or because Frank worked for the CMS. They were attacked because their impressive convoy made it look as though they had things worth stealing, to people who were desperately poor. And that was the problem in Palestine.

Not all Frank’s expeditions out of Jerusalem ended in robbery on the high road. On another occasion, in September 1895, he made it to Caesarea and back without mishap. While he was inspecting the ancient town, he copied out a Greek inscription he noticed on a marble slab. A translation of the inscription by Dr A S Murray of the Palestine Exploration Fund was published in 1896.

Ex-pat communities are small and the world of the British in Palestine was a very small one indeed as the country lacked the usual group of locally-based businessmen and official British representatives (although it did have a Consul). If British residents felt beleaguered, it was not surprising. The German presence in Palestine was far more important than the British one, reflecting as it did a political alliance between the ancient Turkish empire and the newly-constructed German one ruled over by Wilhelm II (kaiser bill). When Frank arrived in Jerusalem, it won’t have taken him much time to notice the extent of German charitable work in the city: there were several hospitals including one for children and one giving shelter to lepers; there was a school run by a German order of deaconesses; and there was an orphanage; all financed and most run by Germans. The Germans had control of the Hospital of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, a privilege bestowed on them by the Turkish emperor. And there were German colonists in Palestine: farmers in the area around Haifa and Jaffa; and another group (mostly craftsmen) in Jerusalem itself, who called themselves the Templer Society, Protestants so extreme they had been ejected from the Lutheran community in Germany. The Templer Society were in Jerusalem to prepare for the Second Coming, but they were waiting they had built their own small village around Emek Refaim street in the district now called Moshava. In October 1898 the German presence in Jerusalem was given an enormous boost by a visit from the emperor and empress of Germany with an entourage that required 1500 pack mules and as many carriage horses to move and feed it. They had come to Palestine directly from a state visit to Constantinople. After taking three days to travel by road (not by rail) from Jaffa, Wilhelm II and empress Viktoria Augusta entered Jerusalem on horseback almost as if they were a victorious army, before camping on German-owned ground in the city. On Monday 31 October 1898 they were present at the consecration of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer; perhaps Frank had a view of at least part of the day’s festivities as the new church was on Mt Zion, near his school. The day after, the imperial visitors moved on to Jericho, the Dead Sea and the River Jordan before making their way north to the Lebanon.

The visit completely upstaged the consecration a few days before of the Anglican Collegiate Church of St George the Martyr. In the Times, the new Anglican church was given one paragraph on one day, while the visit of the rulers of Germany occupied its columns for several weeks, indicating how threatening the newspaper’s owners thought the visit was. The new Anglican church was the pet project of bishop of Jerusalem George Francis Popham Blyth (uncle of GD member Lilian Blyth-Praeger). Bishop Blyth had been appointed in 1887 and in his early years in-post, he had done his best to take control of all missionary work in Jerusalem. The CMS had fought him tooth and nail and the dispute had ended up going before the archbishop of Canterbury - who confirmed the CMS’s independence. Relations amongst the two Anglican camps living in Jerusalem were therefore bad; but it might have given them all pause to have the importance of Germany in the Turkish empire paraded before them so ostentatiously at a time of increasing tension between the two nations which even people living abroad must have been aware of.

In 1908, CMS workers must have been astonished when some of the restrictions under which they had been working were lifted by a new constitution for the Turkish empire which allowed freedom of conscience amongst other civil liberties. CMS missionaries now had freedom to seek converts even amongst Muslims; and could claim recourse to the law if necessary. In theory. It was still up to local governors to choose to implement the new constitution; or to drag their feet.

It still behoved the CMS to tread very cautiously. And unfortunately the new constitution coincided with a particularly troubled period for the CMS’s finances: Frank and all other headmasters of schools in Palestine were told that they had to find more money locally and that the CMS’s work at the elementary level would be reduced. Frank managed to survive these cuts, obviously, as Bishop Gobat school continued in operation.

The new freedoms had only been in place a few years before the first World War began, with the Turkish empire entering it on the side of Germany. Although I haven’t been able to find out much about the lives of British residents of Jerusalem at this time, it must have made their situation as undesirable aliens even more precarious. As far as I know, Bishop Gobat school continued in operation throughout and Frank continued to do his job as well as he was able in circumstances that by 1917 comprised (according to a Times correspondent and I’m not sure how much he or she was to be trusted) devaluation of the currency and shortages of basics like bread. Charitable funds coming from Britain to pay his wages and the school’s upkeep had in any case been in decline since around 1900; the CMS was curtailing its overseas commitments by that time because of a lack of donations. So the war years will have been a particularly difficult time for Frank and Charlotte; they may have had good cause to be concerned for the safety of themselves as well as their pupils.

If the inhabitants of Palestine were hoping to avoid the war being fought over their territory they may have been disabused of that idea by early 1916, when there was fighting in Sinai that was kept a secret from Britain but which residents of Jerusalem might have heard rumours of. With new commander General Allenby in charge, an advance into Palestine from Egypt by an army including troops from France, Italy, the West Indies and India as well as the UK began at the end of October 1917. By mid-November Allenby’s troops were moving towards Hebron and Jerusalem and perhaps the planes they had with them could be seen bombing the retreating Turkish troops and doing reconnaissance flights over the hills. Frank and the other British residents must have feared the worst while at the same time longing for a British victory. However, I couldn’t find any evidence that the Turkish authorities took out their peril on foreign residents, and it seems that Allenby’s strategy was to avoid an all-out assault on all those religious buildings so important to so many faiths, if it was at all possible - he concentrated on cutting off access to and from Jerusalem by road and rail. There was fierce fighting in the hills to the south-west of Jerusalem at the end of November and into December, but on 8 December 1917 the city’s last lines of communication were cut and on 9 December - a Sunday - the mayor of Jerusalem surrendered the city. Allenby and his senior officers entered Jerusalem - on foot - on 12 December. A military governor was put in charge to get the city back on its feet and repair damaged infrastructure, and at last CMS workers in Palestine could feel that their lives there would be protected. Not their work, though: the price of their safety under British rule was the loss, in the long term, of all they had been working for: on 2 November 1917 Foreign Secretary Balfour had confirmed in a letter to the 2nd Baron Rothschild that the British government would support the idea of Palestine as a Jewish homeland. Bishop Gobat school continued in operation until 1948, but closed down after the British left.

Frank himself continued as headmaster of Bishop Gobat’s school for a decade under British rule, until he retired in 1927. He was awarded the MBE to commemorate his long service and the contribution he had made to raising the standards of education in Palestine.

One of the drawbacks to even the most exciting job outside Britain was that you would probably not be able to get back in time or at all to be there at weddings and funerals; you would, inevitably, become estranged from your family. Frank’s father Francis had retired at some time between 1891 and 1901. He went to live with his son Wilstrop Ellis, his wife Elizabeth and their family, above Wilstrop’s grocery business in Withernwick, Hull. He lived on until he was 85, dying in 1915; but he and Frank will have had to say what was likely to be their last goodbyes many years before. Frank at least had nephews and nieces, and by that time great-nephews and great-nieces, living in England; but he had probably never met them. Charlotte’s father was still alive and living in Britain; but I’ve said in my account of her childhood that she seems hardly to have known him. Making decisions in 1927 about his retirement, Frank and Charlotte chose to stay in Jerusalem, where their friends and their lives’ work were. They moved to a house in the German district of the city but unfortunately Frank didn’t enjoy a long retirement, perhaps he was already ill. He died in the English Mission Hospital on 5 March 1928. Even then, Charlotte chose to continue her missionary work rather than retire to England. She may have spent a few weeks in England in 1932, after her father finally died at the age of 92; but she died in Jerusalem in 1938. Frank and both his wives are buried in Jerusalem’s Protestant cemetery.

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.

Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette. Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.

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.


Frank is listed amongst the current students at the “Durham Training College for Masters” on the day of the 1881 census.

For more on the college, which still exists although in a very different form, see The College’s records are now at Durham Record Office.

Some contemporary information on the College, including the subjects that were taught, is in Our Schools and Colleges: Volume I Boys by Frederick Shirley de Carteret-Bisson. London: 1879: p482.

Frank’s employer from 1888 to his retirement:

CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY records are now at the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham.

I used Handbooks of the Church Missionary Society Missions: The Palestine Mission published in London by the CMS in 1910, probably as part of a fund-raising effort. In the last few pages, all the CMS’s missionaries are listed. The author of the Handbook is not named. He or she exhibits all the imperialist, racist and religious prejudices of his or her age. It’s no wonder CMS missionaries in Jerusalem were not welcome.

At is the website of Adam Matthew Publications who sell research collections. They have a set of microfilm CMS archive SIX: Middle East Missions. Reel 45 G3PO original papers from 1895: as headmaster of Bishop Gobat school, Frank was responsible for producing its annual report.

At website

// are some details of Frank’s working life in Jerusalem.

Frank’s article on Bishop Gobat School:

Seen at the University of Florida digital collections: Boys and Boys: A Missionary Book now in the Baldwin Library, University of Florida. Published London by the CMS 1896: Boys of Palestine pp40-48.

Just confirming that he was never ordained as a Church of England clergyman: Crockford’s 1880 P315 and 1895 p 418: he is not on the current staff lists.

Bishop Ingham’s visit:

Via to the full text of From Japan to Jerusalem by the Rt Rev Ernest Graham Ingham, one-time bishop of Sierra Leone, now Home Secretary of the CMS. Published London: CMS 1911. Chapter XXVI: pp210-222.


Baildon Lodge number 1545: Celebration of Diamond Jubilee 1935: Historical Sketch 1875-1935 by Henry Riding. Printed Baildon 1935.

IN QC2076: v Ars Quatuor Coronati number 2076 volume 1 1886-88; unnumbered endpages in the list of current members: Frank’s name appears on p[11] as corresponding member 170. Mention of a “Mr T F Ellis” which might or might not be Frank appears in Ars Quatuor Coronati number 2076 volume VIII 1895: p1-2. Ars Quatuor Coronati number 2076 volume XIII 1900 no longer has Frank as a corresponding member.


British Interests in Palestine 1800-1901: A Study of Religious and Educational Enterprise by A L Tibawi. Oxford University Press 1961


Information on George Francis Popham Blyth’s career is in Lilian Blyth-Praeger’s Notes on the Yorkshire Branch of the Family of Blyth of Norton Lees published by The Pan Press 1912.


For general information about the missionary work done by women in Palestine and the problems they faced: Tibawi op cit.


I was hampered in my search for her on the web by the existence of Walter Besant’s novel, Dorothy Forster.

Dorothy’s DOB and details about her family supplied by a family historian whose wife is a distant relation of Dorothy; he also told me about the plaque in Corbridge church.

George Forster’s likely employer:

Mineral Statistics of the UK of GB issue of 1887 published by the Mines Department 1888: p164 lists Jameson and Son of Corbridge as mining fire clay there, at a place called Hook Hill Drift.

At //, papers of J Jameson and Son Ltd are now at Northumberland Archives. Information from the introduction to those papers.

The wedding: Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 3 May 1890.

Information on some of the guests at the wedding:

At // a posting from 2015 gives some information on Arthur Hastings Kelk senior, who died in 1908.

Seen online: Leeds Mercury 14 January 1890 p8: short account of the marriage of Arthur Hastings Kelk junior; with many of the same guests who went three months later to Dorothy and Frank Tate Ellis’s wedding. There were details in the account of Noel Temple Moore and Rev Canon Hastings Kelk.

At the list of incumbents includes Arthur Hastings Kelk senior who was vicar there from 1879 to 1901.

At Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica 1902 p88 is a description of Dorothy Forster Ellis’ tombstone in the Protestant Cemetery in Jerusalem; she died on 14 April 1891.


Her name appears in as a grand-daughter of Augusta Ludlow Shakespeare 1809-92. Augusta was the daughter of John Talbot Shakespeare and his wife Amelia daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray. John Alves Low (born 1840) is a descendant of Augusta Ludlow Shakespeare; possibly a grandson (I couldn’t work out the exact relationship).

John Alves Low married Jane Hooper daughter of Lt William Hooper RN; they are Charlotte Low’s parents, no other children are mentioned on this website.

Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal: Mortimer-Percy Volume p532 Charlotte Low is in this volume because of her mother Jane Hooper, who married Capt John Alves Low on 6 October 1864. This volume confirms the existence of Charlotte’s younger sister Augusta. It was hard to read the snippet but I think Jane Hooper’s parents were William Hooper RN and Elizabeth née Bramston. Jane Hooper’s brother, the Rev William Hooper had quite a lot of coverage: Sanskrit scholar at Oxford; then Church of England clergyman working firstly in New Zealand but in Allahabad by the 1880s. Author of a hebrew-urdu dictionary. He was married twice and had children who must have been Charlotte’s closest relations apart from her father.

Both those family history say that John Alves Low was a naval officer. This isn’t correct:

In the India Office in January 2014 I was hampered in my search for J A Low and Charlotte’s likely birthplace by the fact that all India Register issues between 1861 and 1890 were at the conservators.

India Register 1860 2nd edition, military indexes for Bengal, Madras and Bombay ALL have no record of an officer J A Low. So at that time he must have been stationed somewhere else.

London Gazette 3 September 1867 p4911 in a list of promotions in the Royal Artillery: John Alves Low to be 2nd Captain as of 19 August 1867.

India List January 1891 p368 Capt J A Low is on the Bengal retired list: date of retirement was 30 September 1869. Definitely of the Royal Artillery.

J A Low had a very distinguished elder brother: see wikipedia on Sir Robert Cunliffe Low 1838-1911, Indian Army, Afghan war (the second one, I think).

For Charlotte herself:

Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor 1880 p84 a letter from her, aged 14, written at Vale Terrace Guildford, where she was also living on the day of the 1881 census.

Proceedings of the CMS issue of 1919 plxii confirms that Charlotte started working for the CMS as a missionary in Palestine in 1891.

Handbooks of the Church Missionary Society Missions: The Palestine Mission published in London by the CMS in 1910; no author given. The call for women missionaries with a private income: p23,p33. Bishop Gobat school: p33. Local hostility towards Christian missionaries: pp36-38. Details of staff in Palestine 1900-01: p24 and Appendix 1 pp60-63 a full list of all who had worked for the CMS in Palestine, to date. The Mrs Low who might be Charlotte’s mother is listed as having worked for the CMS from 1884 to 1887; at which point perhaps she died, in Jerusalem.

EDWARD HERBERT FISON’S LETTER appeared in Times 6 May 1893 p6.

THE INSCRIPTION AT CAESAREA:v ia to Gleanings in Archaeology and Epigraphy issue of 1 January 1919, editor Warren J Moulton: pp86-87 as one of a series of short reports, item 4: A Caesarean Inscription with a photograph of the marble slab on p87 which might have been taken by Frank. Dr Murray’s translation of the inscription was pubished in Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Explorn Fund 1896 but the Gleanings... report is making some corrections to Dr Murray’s translation.


For the Templer Society in Jerusalem see wikipedia and at, posted 6 April 2013 article: A German Colony in Jerusalem.

The visit of Wilhelm II and Viktoria Augusta in 1898: Times 3 October 1898 apparently quoting a long and hostile article in a Russian newspaper, giving a full itinerary. Also Times 8 October 1898 etc. The paragraph on the consecration of bishop Blyth’s St George church is in the Ecclesiastical Intelligence colume of 25 October 1898 p11; several items below the news that the Times thought most important that day.


The short report on the collapse of the Turkish economy: Times 2 October 1917 p5 and it may be pure propaganda! On Saturday 13 October 1917 p5 the Times quoted a report in an Italian newspaper saying that the Roman Catholic bishop of Jerusalem was being held prisoner by the city’s Turkish authorities. On Monday 15 October 1917 p7 they were obliged to say that Saturday’s report was completely untrue!

I followed Allenby’s campaign through the Times online, beginning on Thursday 2 November 1917 and continuing until Friday 14 December 1917. The Times had a reporter, W T Massey, at Allenby’s headquarters but he could only pass on what he had been told. The Times quoted War Office statements several times but again, these were censored. The reports were short, usually accompanied by a map showing the latest position of the advancing troops; no details were given of casualties.

The Balfour Declaration: see wikipedia or the original letter which is now in the British Library.


Times 3 June 1927 p17 in the King’s Birthday Honours’ list.

Edinburgh Gazette 7 June 1927 p658 gives the same MBE information.

Times 7 March 1928 p18 Frank’s death “in Jerusalem on Monday” merited a paragraph.

Website is a database created in 2002 and copyright Israel GenWeb Project, giving details of who is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Jerusalem.


27 January 2014

1 August 2021

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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: