Alfred J HAILEY who was initiated into the Golden Dawn in November 1892, chosing the Latin motto ‘Carpe Diem’.  His membership had lapsed by 1903: that is, he had gone three years without paying the sum all members contributed towards rents, materials and other bills.  At the date of his initiation he was living in the relatively new London suburb of Willesden, at 26 Bruce Road Stonebridge.


I couldn’t identify Alfred on the census either in 1891 or 1901.  I usually use the census as a way in, with GD members, as if you find the right person, you can get their age, parents’ names if they’re still living at home; or their spouse’s name if they’re married; and their profession if they have one.  Without this information it is a lot harder to identify birth and death records for them; and I didn’t identify Alfred’s date of birth or date of death. 


I did find just one piece of information that might say what Alfred did for a living.  Via Google Books I got to the Navy List 1887 which lists an Alfred J Hailey, not as a serving seaman but as an Assistant Clerk.  By his name were two dates, and from the way information is laid out in this type of Government Issue list, I would presume them to be the date he was appointed (15 January 1886) and his first day at his current post (19 February 1886).  The problem was that I couldn’t find his name anywhere on any subsequent Navy List (they were published more or less every year); perhaps - as the number of them grew - the Navy List didn’t bother to publish all the names of its clerks, it just stuck to those who were serving on its ships.  It’s not really likely that Alfred resigned from the Navy office after only a few months and got another job - people tended to stay much longer in the same job in the 19th century.  So IF the Navy List Alfred J Hailey was the GD member, I cautiously suggest that during the 1890s, and probably for the rest of his working life, Alfred was working in the offices at the Admiralty.


I do know, though, that he was a member of the Theosophical Society (TS) - when he applied for membership in 1891 he was living at 37 Buckingham Gardens West Kensington; but later he gave the same address in Stonebridge that he gave the GD.  The TS was subdivided into lodges and most people joined the lodge nearest to where they lived or (more commonly with men living in London) nearest to where they worked.  Alfred started out in the TS as a member of its Blavatsky Lodge, whose meetings were held at the TS headquarters in Regent’s Park, and whose members included many who knew Helena Petrovna Blavatsky personally.  He may have met Blavatsky himself in his first few months as a member, as she didn’t die until 1892.  By late 1892, however, Alfred had moved to Earl’s Court lodge, where he was very active, sponsoring new members and acting as lodge secretary.  For about a year.  Then the TS was torn in two by a dispute about who if anyone should hear from Blavatsky’s mahatmas now that she was dead.  During her lifetime they had communicated with no one but her, and it had been an important part of her mystique that this was so.  Within a year of her death, William Q Judge had begun to claim that now the mahatmas were in touch with him.  The hierarchy of the TS in Britain was adamant that Blavatsky had been unique, and that anyone else claiming to have had communications from the mahatmas was a fraud.  A note on Alfred’s membership details at the TS headquarters shows clearly that he did not agree with that view - which did prevail, at least in Britain.  With many others who ended on the wrong side of the dispute, Alfred let his membership of the TS lapse.


WHO DID HE KNOW IN THE GOLDEN DAWN?  When I started looking through the Theosophical Society membership books I quickly realised that the TS was a very good recruiting ground for the GD, at least in the early 1890s.   Alfred would have met (unknowingly, of course) several members of the GD at meetings of Blavatsky Lodge, but I think it’s quite likely that the person who mentioned his name to the leaders of the GD may have been ALICE GORDON, of Earl’s Court TS lodge.



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; (census and probate);; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families;; and a variety of one-family genealogy websites.


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.


If it’s him: Navy List 1887 p27.  And several later Navy Lists; in which he did NOT appear.


Particular sources for Theosophical Society members: TS membership books, kept at the TS headquarters building at Gloucester Place London W1.  TS magazine Lucifer which was published between 1887 and 1897; it had a news section giving details of talks and lectures due at the various TS lodges.



23 April 2012