William Henry ELPHICK who was initiated into the Golden Dawn in April 1896 and chose the motto ‘Gradation’.   His address at that time was 2 Napier Road, Amersham Vale, New Cross Gate south London.


Another failure!  Trying the census data for 1891, 1901 and 1911 I couldn’t find anyone that I thought might be him though I did get the impression that ‘Elphick’ was a common surname in Kent so perhaps that was where he grown up.  I found two pieces of information that might refer to him:


The first I found in the British Library India Office family history section.  A book listing men serving in the Indian Medical Service had details of a Henry William Elphick who joined the service in 1889 and died in 1906 (for full details see the end of this biography).  IF this was the GD member it would certainly explain why I couldn’t find the man on the UK census.  He might have been offered GD membership during one of those long home-leaves that you got when you served the imperial government overseas.  But I worried about his forenames being the wrong way round.


The second was a publication I found in the British Library catalogue: the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK - it had a big publishing business) published a book by a man called  William Elphick (no Henry at all this time) called The Loveliness of God: Some Meditations on the First and Greatest Commandment.  But the publication date was 1946 - too late, really, for someone old enough to join the GD in the 1890s; though it could have been written by a son of such a man.


So I decided that I couldn’t say that either reference was to William Henry Elphick of the GD.  That person remains a mystery.



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. 


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.



The India Office reference:

Roll of the Indian Medical Service p1889 Henry William Elphick born 10 July 1865.  University College London.  Member Royal College of Surgeons 1888.  Member Royal College of Physicians 1888.  MB London University 1888.  Surgeon Indian Medical Service 1889.  Major September 1901.  Put on half pay 1905 and died Rugby 20 May 1906.




23 April 2012