Francis Freeman was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London in July 1895.He chose the Lating motto ĎServo fidemí.He had the time, ability and persistence to do the study necessary for initiation into its inner, second order and was initiated in January 1897.You could not do practical magic in the GD unless and until you were a member of that inner order.He was still a member of the GD when the surviving records run out, around 1903; but never joined either of its daughter orders.



I have found out very little about Francis Freeman.He led the kind of life which just doesnít appear on the web or in local record offices except in the Electoral Roll.So here is a rather short biography of him.



Francis Freeman was born on the fringes of the City of London and lived in suburban London all his life.Using google I references going back to the 16th century to people (mostly men of course) with the surname Freeman, who lived either in the City of London or on its outskirts.Itís likely that some if not all of these people were relations of Francis; but I havenít been able to find enough information on any of them to work out a family tree.My hopes were raised by finding at a Freeman Genealogy in Three Parts; but this well-researched book was about the Freemans of New England, and no one living in the UK in the 18th or 19th century was named in it.


A Francis Freeman who might have been the GD memberís grandfather or great-grandfather lived in the parish of St Sepulchre Farringdon, to the west of the City proper, in July 1790 when he served on a coronerís jury.And in the 1820s a man called William Freeman, who might be Francisí father or grandfather, was either living or working at Woburn Place in Bloomsbury.

However, I only move from speculation to history with the marriage of the GD memberís father, William Freeman to his mother Amelia Ann Mole (always called Ann) in April 1841 at St Pancras church.On Francis Freemanís baptism record William Freeman was described as a ďgentlemanĒ - a term often used to indicate men who did not need to work.†† However, William Freeman had a profession - on the 1851 census heís called a ďhouse agentĒ, essentially an estate agent.


In the 1840s William and Ann were living at 19 Cloudesley Terrace, off Upper Street in Islington.They had six children: Annie; William; Elizabeth; Francis; Isabel and Kathleen.Francis Freeman was born on 14 June 1848 and was baptised at St James Clerkenwell, the borough in which both his parents had been born.His baptism didnít take place until October; perhaps either Ann or the baby had been ill after the birth.The Freeman family lived carefully but comfortably: on the day of the 1851 census they employed a cook as well as a housemaid, but were funding their money as many middle-class families did when it came to the future of their children: Annie was doing lessons at home and thatís probably all the schooling the Freeman daughters got; but William junior was at a school, where Francis will have joined him when he was six or seven.


I couldnít find the family on the census in 1861 but by 1871 some changes had been made.William, now 62, had retired from work and was living off the income from rented property and share-holdings.Both William junior and Francis had left school and were working. William had gone to work in the office of an import/export business with connections to the colonies.Francis was working in a bank.Though eldest child Annie was away on census day 1871, all the other Freeman children were still living at home, Ďhomeí now being rather further out of town than before, at 324 Liverpool Road.With four daughters able to help with the household chores, the Freemans now only employed the one general servant.


Francis had probably started work there when he left school - in 1863 or 1864 - and he stayed working in a bank, almost certainly the same bank, until he retired, in what was a typical 19th-century working-pattern.I donít know which bank; nor whether he worked at the bankís head office in the City or in one or more of its branches.


Francisí father William Freeman died in March 1875, leaving his widow some at least of the rented-out houses he owned.Some documents at the London Metropolitan Archive show Francis Freeman dealing with mortgages and lettings on property at Enfield Chase, in the late 1880s.This might have been property Francis had inherited from his father but itís more likely that Francis was acting for his mother at this time; though he may have inherited the land from her much later.††

At some time during the 1870s Francisí sister Elizabeth married; I couldnít identify her husband for certain.Francisí brother William married Alice Freeman - presumably a relation - in 1879; they set up home at 27 Florence Road Hornsey.On census day 1881, Ann Freeman, her unmarried daughters Anne, Isabel and Kathleen, and Francis were living at 3 Hill Side, Crouch Hill.The Crouch Hill/Crouch End/upper Holloway district was being turned into new suburbs at the time; and although they did move several times within it, Francis and his sisters lived in that area for the rest of his life.I suppose itís possible - though I havenít found any evidence of it - that some of the roads were being built on land owned by the Freeman family.


Francisí sister-in-law Alice seems not to have been very strong.She and brother William had only two children: Alice Ethelwyn, born in 1880, and William Hugh born in the summer of 1887.Alice only survived her sonís birth by a few months; and for a time Francisí youngest sister Kathleen moved in with the widower William, to run the household and bring up his two children.On the day of the 1891 census William junior, Ethelwyn, William Hugh and Kathleen were living in Islington; while Ann, daughter Annie and Francis had moved to 4 Ashley Road Upper Holloway.


A few weeks after census day, Francisí mother Ann died while on a visit out-of-town; perhaps she was visiting her married daughter Elizabeth.Francis became the head of a household reduced to himself, his sister Annie, and - when she returned from helping out at her brotherís - Kathleen.These three Freemans continued to live together until Francisí death.One general servant was employed; and Annie ran the household.In May 1904, Annie advertised in the London Middlesex Gazette for a ďclean, capableĒ general servant.She held out the lure of it being a ďSmall familyĒ (I think she should have mentioned there were no children) but she was expecting the woman appointed to cook as well as doing the cleaning and maybe the shopping; all for £16 per year.Domestic service was notoriously unregulated; and is notoriously hard to research.However both Roger and I thought that was rather a low wage for someone who would be cooking as well as cleaning; though of course the wage would include bed and board.I wonder if Annieís advert got many responses?I canít decide whether financial times were getting tough for the Freemans despite their incomes from rents and Francisí salary; or whether Annie just begrudged spending too much of her housekeeping budget on servants.


At some point between 1891 and 1901 - the years in which he was in the GD - Francis had an important promotion, to the position of cashier.Perhaps the extra salary that went with it funded another move, to 9 Ella Road to the south of Crouch End, where the three unmarried siblings were on census day 1901, being visited by their niece Elinor Key.The household did have a general servant on the day of the 1911 census; but I imagine it was not the woman whom Annie took on - if she found one - in 1904.Francis, Annie and Kathleen were still at 9 Ella Road; and as in 1901 they had a visitor, their niece Kathleen Marjorie Key, sister of Elinor.


The Key sistersí father, Walter Henry Key, seems to have been the Ďgreat maní of the Freeman family.His daughters were described as nieces of Francis Freeman on the census but I think the relationship wasnít quite so simple: they were the nieces of Francisí married sister Isabel.In 1883 Isabel Freeman married a man called John Key; although I havenít found evidence to prove it, I think he must be Walter Henry Keyís brother.Walter Henry Key was slightly younger than Francis Freeman, having been born in 1855.He was born in Islington and married a local girl, Mary Ann Partridge.He rose to be the director of a provisions business based in the City; possibly employing both Francisí brother William and his own brother John, who was a commercial traveller.Francis Freeman wasnít active in the civic affairs of London, but Walter Henry Key was almost ubiquitous in them: a member of the London School Board, the Common Council of the Corporation of London and the Port of London Authority; elected to the London County Council, for Hackney Central in 1907 and for Stoke Newington in 1919, on both occasions as a Conservative.


Francis Freeman was, of course, far too old to serve in World War 1 at all.Unless already retired, was probably needed at his bank to hold things together while so many of the younger employees went off to fight.He contined to live with his unmarried sisters at 9 Ella Road throughout the war, and he died there on 10 March 1920.




When Iím doing a biography of a GD initiate I always like to try to work out who it was who recommended them for membership.It has been surprisingly difficult, for most members, to nail that information down.I can say, in Francis Freemanís case, that he did not enter the GD by way of freemasonry or as a member of the Theosophical Society - two much-travelled routes into the GD, especially in the early 1890s though less so towards the end of the decade.He was not a member of the TS; and as far as the evidence goes that Iíve been able to find, he was never a freemason.There are two other possibilities in his case, two other circles of acquaintances; though I canít prove a connection with either of them.


The first circle of acquaintanceship is banking.In the late 19th century the City of London had an extraordinary number of banks, both British and foreign; with an insatiable need for young men to work as clerks - a job that was usually for life.It was inevitable that some of them should find their way into the GD; though most of those who did were rather younger than Francis Freeman. One who was more his age was Harold John Levett and I do know which bank he worked for because he was careful to give full details when filling in the 1911 census form.His employer was the London Joint Stock Bank.He worked in branches in various suburbs, rather than at its head office, ending his career as manager of the branch at Westbourne Terrace.Harold Levett introduced to the GD at least one other bank clerk - Herbert Morris - but the connection there was the Theosophical Society and they may not have had the same employer.Altogether, this possible way in to the GD for Francis Freeman does seem a bit tenuous.

The other possibility is an acquaintanceship based on Crouch End.As Francis Freeman would have been away from Crouch End all day, friendships based there would involve his sisters as well as himself; though he was the only Freeman to join the GD.Although most of them didnít stay very long, several members of the GD did live in the Crouch Hill area during the 1890s; beginning with John Collinson, who moved there in the early 1880s and was still there in the late 1890s; and taking in A E Waite who passed through in 1891 and M W Blackden who spent a similarly transitory time there in 1900.Itís possible that Francis Freeman knew John Collinson but Collinson was no longer active in the GD by the mid-1890s so heís not very likely to have been Francisí sponsor.Two men who arrived in the district in the mid-1890s seem more likely than any of those Iíve mentioned so far.For a few years at that time John Herbert Slater (heís called Herbert) and his family were living at 35 Tivoli Road, to the north of Crouch End on the way to Alexandra Park.He was initiated into the GD in the same month as Francis Freeman, July 1895.Herbert Slater was trying to carve out a career as a barrister in the mid-1890s but in the end, he earned more money and became better known as a writer on collectables and collecting, especially books.He looks like a good candidate for bringing Francis Freeman to the GDís notice; but it could equally well have been the other way round, Francis Freeman introducing him.I think the most likely route in for both Francis Freeman and Herbert Slater was through knowing the Felkins.Robert William Felkin and his wife Mary Jane moved to London in 1893 or early 1894 and rented 6 Crouch Hall Road, just off The Broadway where the districtís main shops were.After several years teaching tropical medicine at Edinburgh University Robert Felkin was known to many members of the GD there.He and his wife were initiated into the GD in London in March 1894.Both the Felkins were very sociable, and Robert in particular had a crusading spirit about recruiting suitable people into the GD.


So thatís it.Historical records being what they are - more misses than hits - it is very easy for an ordinary 19th-century person to live a longish life, about which you can hardly find out anything, now, with any certainty.




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 Dawnís administrative records and its Membersí 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 itís now in the Freemasonsí 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.I have recently (July 2014) discovered that some records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have survived, though most have not; however those that have survived are not yet accessible to the public.


For the history of the GD during the 1890s I usually use Ellic Howeís The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923.Published Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972.Foreword by Gerald Yorke.Howe is a historian of printing rather than of magic; he also makes no claims to be a magician himself, or even an occultist.He has no axe to grind.


Family history: freebmd; (census and probate);; familysearch; Burkeís Peerage and Baronetage; Burkeís 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; Freemasonsí Library.


Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources.I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historianís point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.



At thereís a Freeman Genealogy in Three Parts privately published in Boston Mass 1875.Author Frederick Freeman has been amassing family data for 50 years.However, there was no sign of Francis Freeman on it and I think itís a history of the Freeman families of New England, some of whom had arrived there in the 1630s.



Searches on google came up with references to people called Freeman, living in the City or in Farringdon, that went back to 1535.Impossible to build up a family tree from them, though.

At, City of London coronersí inquests, LL ref LMCL1C6500 30514 parish of St Sepulchre Farringdon.

House of Commons Papers 1824 p105 in a list of men eligible for jury service in Mddx 1820-23: a William Freeman of Woburn Place.



Marriage details for his parents from familysearch England-EASy GS film number 413297.Unfortunately none of the births of the children were on familysearch.

Seen on ancestry: baptism record for Francis Freeman St James Clerkenwell October 1848 with a note of his date of birth.


IF this is the GDís Francis Freeman: property transaction details held at London Metropolitan Archive for land at Enfield Chase:

-†††††††††† document number ACC/0999/LA/SG/26 dated 7 September 1885

-†††††††††† document number ACC/0999/LA/SG/27 dated 9 April 1888

-†††††††††† document number ACC/0999/LA/SG/30 dated 23 July 1890.



Lots of references to him on the web, see for example wikipedia on elected representatives at the London County Council.Also these:

At, a City of London Report 1915 of the Medical Officer for Health for the Port of London Authority.Walter Henry Key is on this Report as a member of the Port of London Sanitary Committee; as its member for Farringdon Without.


Just a note about Isabel Freeman Key.Probate Registry records show that she died in December 1895 in Yeovil, Somerset.I think she had no children.



Seen at genesreunited, issue of the Morning Post dated 1 December 1887 death notice for Alice, wife of William Gates Freeman of Stroud Green; aged 35.



Seen on the web: London Middlesex Gazette for Saturday 21 May 1904 p5 in the small ads.





10 December 2014


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: