William Evans Hugh Humphrys was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London in November 1899.He had had a classical education and chose a motto in Greek: the transliteration is gnothi seauton.He made quick progress through the study that was necessary to join the inner order and was initiated into that Second Order in March 1901.He stood aside from the strife and upset that was engulfing the GD at that time; but he also didnít join either of the daughter orders that emerged in 1903.


Iíve found so much information on some parts of Williamís life that this biography has had to be split into three.This is the first part and covers 1876 to end 1906 including his time in the GD.The other two parts are 1907 to end 1909 and 1910 to 1950.



TO BEGIN WITH, A NOTE ON THE SPELLING OF HIS SURNAME: itís definitely HumphrYs although Iíve seen other spellings, especially HumphrIEs, on the census and elsewhere.



On his fatherís side, William was Protestant Irish landed gentry.The family could trace itself as far back as a man from Cumberland, John Humfrey (sic), who emigrated to Ireland in 1655.John Humfrey settled in Wexford but by the time Williamís father was born his descendentsí main estate was at Ballyhaise House in county Cavan; and they were spelling the surname Humphrys.


Younger sons in the family tended to go into the army and at first Williamís father, Hugh Humphrys (born 1838) followed this trend, passing from Trinity College Cambridge into the Hussars in 1860.However, he left the army in 1869 and at that point thereís a blank of nearly 20 years in his life, before he took holy orders in 1885 when William was 9.After the usual few years as a curate, he was appointed vicar of Knocktopher, Thomastown in 1892.However, the defining appointment of his time in the Church of England was being installed as rector of Eccles-next-the-sea in Norfolk.In 1901 the vicar of Knocktopher had an annual income of £240 while the rector of Eccles-next-the-Sea had an annual income of about £72 before tax, derived from a population of 17.However, Rev Hugh did not live all the year round in Ireland; he seemed to spend as much time in England, either in his London house or in the household of his wifeís father, whose family had the right to appoint the rectors of Eccles-next-the-Sea. As far as I can see, Rev Hugh never lived in his Eccles-next-the-Sea parish.



In 1875 - during those blank 20 years - Hugh Humphrys had married Louisa Charlotte Catherine Evans-Lombe, whose family owned one of the largest landed estates in Norfolk.Louisaís father, Henry Evans Lombe, had also been ordained a priest of the Church of England but by 1881 did not have the care of any parish.From the mid-19th century to sometime in the 1890s he and his wife (another Louisa) chose to live in the newest of the familyís several houses, the recently-finished Bylaugh House, at Smallburgh in Norfolk.Williamís parents, the Rev Hugh and his Louisa, had a house in London, and made long visits to Ireland, but also spent large parts of their lives at Bylaugh.



The GDís William Humphrys, the Rev Hugh and his Louisaís eldest son, was born in February 1876 at their London house at 19 Hatherly Grove Bayswater.He had two brothers - Julian Shirley Lombe Humphrys (born 1880) and Hugh Everard Humphrys (born probably 1883); I havenít found birth registrations in England for either of them so perhaps they were both born in Ireland.


When William was living with his grandparents he was in one of the largest households of any GD member.He was with them on the day of the 1881 census when were 14 indoor servants at Bylaugh: a butler, two footmen, two grooms, a cook, a ladyís maid, four housemaids, two kitchenmaids and a nursemaid, employed to look after Henry and Louisa Evans-Lombe and their daughterís family.In addition, there will have been a coachman and gardeners who were lodged elsewhere.On census day 1891 there were 15 servants living-in, though with household tasks slightly differently allotted: a butler with only one footman; the two grooms and the cook; a kitchenmaid and a scullery maid to support one less housemaid; a nursery maid; the ladyís maid; and two gardeners.The coachman and his family were the next household listed on that page of the census.However, the times they were a-changing - during the 1870s, the Evans Lombe family began selling off bits of the estate; and this process was speeded up around 1890 when the land at Bylaugh (though not the house, it seems, at least not at first) was leased or possibly bought outright by William Knox díArcy who had made a fortune in mining in Australia and Mexico.By 1898 Henry and Louisa Evans Lombe had moved out of Bylaugh to a smaller house they owned, Melton Lodge near Great Yarmouth.They were both in their late 70s by this time and perhaps not in good health, but other aspects of the family history from the 1870s suggest that the Lombes - and consequently the Hugh Humphrys - were feeling the pinch financially: a smaller house meant a much scaled-down household, with more spare money for school and university fees and nursing care.†† Despite these indications that the family was drawing in its horns, it was his descent from the Lombes that mattered to William later in his life; and as he seems to have had a private income (I donít know how much per year) itís most likely from them that he had inherited it.



Times may have been harder than they had been, in the 1890s, but suffering in the Lombe and Humphrys family does seem to have been relative.The GDís William spent 1890 to 1893 at Rugby School (census day 1891 fell during the school holidays) before going to Cambridge University.He started out in 1895 at Queenís College; but in 1898 he moved over to Downing College, graduating with a science degree in 1899.I canít explain the change of college, except to say that I found one reference to it having a reputation at that time for dealing very generously with students who broke the rules, especially the curfew rules.Perhaps Williamís undergraduate night-life was being hampered at Queenís. Cambridge University was traditional in the Humphrys family (though neither of Williamís brothers went there) and two cousins of Williamís were undergraduates when he was: brothers Llewellyn Winter Humphrys and Percy Raymond Humphrys were both at Corpus Christi.However, Williamís future was decided not by his relatives but, by acquaintances that he made as an undergraduate: Frank Rutter the future art critic, who gave William work on at least two occasions; and Aleister Crowley.


William Humphrys was pretty busy as an undergraduate at Cambridge but not necessarily with his studies.Cambridge University was where he began his career as a journalist and perhaps also where he first began to take an interest in cars and how they work.


Frank Rutter, in his memoirs, says that while they were at Cambridge both he and William Humphrys were stage-struck: they did a lot of amateur theatricals, and Williamís first efforts at journalism were theatre reviews for one of the universityís undergraduate papers.Frank thought William had that desire to get the news first that is the basis of a successful career as a reporter: he used to go to Cambridge railway station to intercept visiting entertainment groups before anyone else, and take their stars to lunch.In this way he got exclusive interviews with Minnie Cunningham, the music hall singer; and Constance Collier, then the tallest of the Gaiety Girls.William also managed to get access to Alfred Milner (later Viscount Milner) advisor to the British Government on the situation in South Africa.And to a man whose surname Rutter spells as ĎRajitsinghií but who I think must have been the great batsman Ranjitsinhji (later the Maharaja jam Sahib of Nawanagar) who had been at Cambridge University from 1889 to 1894 and who was - when William must have interviewed him - playing for Sussex, and England.


Motoring was such a new thing that it was only while William was at Cambridge University that the first few cars were driven through Cambridge town.The very first was owned by the Hon Charles Stewart Rolls (born 1877, future co-founder of Rolls-Royce) during his time as an undergraduate at Trinity Hall.Probably not very long afterwards, Aleister Crowley bought himself one, though he never developed the interest in cars that Charles Rolls and William did.The paths of William and Charles Stewart Rolls often crossed between their university days and Rollsí death in 1910; though I havenít been able to discover how well they knew each other so I donít know whether it was Rollsí car that William first got under the bonnet of, to find out what was inside.


In his last year at university William took the next step from journalism and founded his own magazine, the latest version of the Cambridge Magazine.It was in that magazine that the interview with Alfred Milner was first published, and political sketches by the barrister and Liberal MP Sir Frank Lockwood also appeared in it.William may have found himself with the money to fund such a venture after his grandfather Henry Evans Lombe died, in December 1897.When Rev Lombeís estate had its probate granted, his personal effects came to about £54000; this didnít include what was left of the family estates, which Williamís uncle Edward Evans Lombe will have inherited.Williamís father the Rev Hugh also had more money coming in after March 1899 when he was appointed a canon of St Canineís Cathedral Kilkenny.




Thereís some information on Ballyhaise house on wikipedia.Itís now the Teagasc Agricultural College.

The Book of Irish Families Great and Small by Michael C OíLaughlin p152.

At www.libraryireland.com information originally in A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland published 1837.

A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland Burke 1899 edition, p211.


HUGH HUMPHRYS, Williamís father.

Alumni Cantabrigiensis Part II volume 3 G-J p489.

Via genesunited, information on his time in the army:

Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent 20 March 1861 and several other newspapers; purchase of a lieutenancy by Cornet Hugh Humphrys.

Southern Reporter and Cork Cmmrl Courier 11 May 1865 and also several other newspapers; purchase of a captaincy by Lt Hugh Humphrys.

Dublin Evening Courant 11 November 1869 announcing the retirement of Hugh Humphrys from the army.

Crockfordís Clerical Directory issues of 1886; 1901 pp696-97.

Hampshire Advertiser 4 March 1899 Ecclesiastical Intelligence: appointment as a canon of St Canineís Cathedral Kilkenny of Rev Hugh Humphrys BA.

Armorial Families 1929 volume 1 p1003.

BIRTH OF WILLIAM, though he isnít named.Seen at archiver.rootsweb.com, items from Cavan Weekly News posted by Kay Stanton 2006, including the issue of Friday 18 February 1876.Birth announcements included a son, on 11 February [1876] at 19 Hatherly Grove Bayswater; to the wife of Hugh Humphrys.

Times Friday 3 February 1922 p1a death notices: Canon Rev Hugh Humphrys had died on 31 January 1922.



Melton Hall, which was rented by other people at least as late as 1865:

Excursions in the County of Norfolk by Thomas Kitson Cromwell 1818 p173.

PO Directory of Norfolk and Suffolk issue of 1865 p300.

At visionofbritain.org.uk a paragraph from John Marius Wilsonís 1870-72 Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales: Melton Hall and Great Melton (Melton Magna).

At www.south-norfolk.gov.uk a photo of Melton Hall.Jacobean.Grade 2 listed but in a bad way.

Bylaugh House:

See wikipedia on how the estate was rumoured to have come into the Lombe family.And some of its later history which unfortunately conflicts with other sources Iíve found, for example at www.bylaugh.info

At www.norfolkchurches.co thereís information on the church at Bylaugh, built in 1809 by the Lombe family.

Via www.ebooksread.com to Armorial Families.

On the importance of the Evans Lombe family to William Humphrys: the announcement of Williamís death in the Times Thursday 23 March 1950 p1a only mentions his descent the Evans-Lombe family.†† It was not until the announcement was repeated in the Times of Friday 24 March 1950 that Williamís father was mentioned.



Crockfordís Clerical Directory 1886 p739 does not have an entry for him, confirming that at least by that time he did not have a job in the Church of England.



Rugby School Register covering May 1874 to May 1904; p171 which is also the source for Williamís addresses in 1904.

Times Saturday 11 July 1936 p19d coverage of the Old Rugbeian triennial dinner held ďon Tuesday at the Cafť RoyalĒ.William was on the eventís very long guest list.



University Magazines and their Makers Henry Currie Marillier 1902 p93.


See wikipedia and also www.the-camerino-players.com


At www.tate.org a reproduction of Walter Sickertís 1892 picture of her in costume at the Old Bedford; now in Tate Britain.With a small amount of information on her life.

At footlightnotes.tumbir.com, a photo of her dancing in her stage costume (showing quite a lot of leg).And a profile as far as 1905, based on information originally published in The Variety Theatre London Friday 19 May 1905 p19a.

ALFRED MILNER later the first and last Viscount Milner.See wikipedia and heís also in ODNB.

And assuming my identification is correct: RANJITSINHJI.A long article on him in wikipedia.

SIR FRANK LOCKWOOD see wikipedia.He was Liberal MP for York from 1883 to his death in 1897.


FRANK RUTTER whoís mentioned a lot in the life-by-dates section too:

Since I was Twenty-Five by Frank Rutter.London: Constable and Co Ltd 1927.An important source though William is not actually mentioned in it very much.

Times Mon 19 April 1937 p16 obituary.

Times Tue 20 April 1937 p1 death notices.

Probate Registry 1937

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography volume 48 p421although thereís no mention of William Humphrys in it.

And for his commitment to votes for women, see The Womenís Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 by Elizabeth Crawford.London: University College London Press 1999: pp611-12; though it doesnít mention Frankís first wife Thirsa, who was quite as active as he was.

Just noting that thereís no entry for William Humphrys in the book; nor is Williamís wife mentioned as far as I can see.



There are several biographies - he managed to pack a lot into his short life, as a driver and aeroplane pilot and as co-founder of Rolls-Royce.

Source for his having a car while he was still at Cambridge: Aleister Crowley, The Biography.Tobias Churton.London: Watkins Publishing 2011: p28.

In the 1900s Charles Stewart Rolls published a couple of items on car maintenance, very much in the manner of Williamís articles between 1907 and 1912 though as far as I know Rolls never wrote for Williamís magazine:

An article The Caprices of the Petrol Motor, in A C W Northcliffe (Baron Harmsworth)ís Motors and Motor Driving published 1902.

Co-author with Frederick Henry Royce in Instructions for Care of Rolls-Royce Cars, 40-50hp published Watford: Acme Tone Engraving Co 1908.




Iíve found a lot of information on what William was doing and where he was living from when he graduated to just before the first World War.But on the other hand, some projects he got involved with are still pretty-much a mystery to me despite all my ferreting about amongst the sources Iíve found.So Iíve decided to do a life-by-dates sequence to cover the rest of Williamís life.As usual with a life-by-dates, Iíll be typing what the subject was doing in italics; with any comments, and the sources, in Times New Roman.Beginning with:



William graduated from Cambridge University.

Comment by Sally Davis: I think William moved to London in the autumn if not straight away after leaving his College rooms.He lived in central London until his marriage.

Sources: Alumni Cantabrigiensis Part II volume 3 G-J p489.

Kellyís Post Office Directory issues between 1900 and 1914.




William must have worked as a journalist.

Comment on the lack of sources, by Sally Davis: William is in the Scoop! database of professional journalists held at the British Library but without any detail of where his work was published.Scoop! is based on the members of the Institute of Journalists.William joined the Institute in 1909 and was a member until 1913 but possibly not beyond that.


Finding out which journals and/or newspapers published his work would be such a task I havenít really tackled it: though Williamís own magazine did name some of its writers, most articles and editorials in most publications were published anonymously, and their authors are mostly still unidentified today.


If William wanted to be taken seriously as a writer on motors, the magazine he will have aimed to get published in was the The Automotor and Horseless Vehicle Journal: A Record and Review of Applied Automatic Locomotion.First published as a monthly in 1896, it went weekly in April 1902 and shortened its title to The Automotor Journal.It continued to be published until 1931, always by the same firm - F King and Co Ltd of 62 St Martinís Lane, London WC.Authoritative and scientific, it was the magazine for professionals working in the fast-moving, highly technical world of car design and building.Although William wasnít a professional in that sense, he was a scientifically trained, highly skilled amateur and I can see him as a reader of this magazine; though most car drivers would have found the articles too difficult to understand.Williamís own motoring magazine was a direct competitor of The Automotor Journal, which outlasted it and others.


I have found references in other publications, of articles by William published in the Pall Mall Gazette; but these were from 1919 and 1923, not much help for his earliest work.



William learned a lot about motor engines, both in theory and in practice.Later he was able to write technical articles on motoring and was considered by others to be an expert on internal combustion engines for submarines.

Comment by Sally Davis.For the evidence about Williamís knowledge of cars, read the rest of this life-by-dates.If he wasnít interested in them before he went to university, he might have got his start with them through driving and trying to mend the cars owned by Charles Stewart Rolls and Aleister Crowley that Iíve mentioned above.Iíve only found one mention of his knowledge of submarines: several articles published in 1904/05, obviously all using the same source - they have the same basic information and all spell his surname wrongly in the same way.Itís an intriguing aspect of Williamís life. Perhaps it was or became an official secret.However, it did cause him to meet Captain Ernest du Boulay, a marine engineer and author of a text book published in 1902.Later on, du Boulay was marine manager for the Automobile Co-operative Association, about which a great deal more below.

Sources: see 1904/05 for more on the articles.

Ernest du Boulay:

At www.bembridgesailingclub.org as co-founder, in a history of the club.

The text book:

A Text Book on Marine Motors published London: The Yachtsman 1902 and 2nd ed 1907.

The British Library has him as a contributor to B Heckstall-Smithís The Complete Yachtsman published London: Methuen and Co 1912 and obviously the standard work for many years - thereís a revised 8th edition from 1949.



William was initiated into the GD.

Source for the date: RAG see the Sources section.



William visited Aleister Crowley at Boleskine.Also there was Lilian Horniblow, Crowleyís mistress at that time.On 12 December 1899, William was Crowleyís assistant in a magical ceremony.

Source: probably Crowleyís A Magicall Diarie 1899, manuscript now in the collection of the Ordo Templi Orientis.Quoted pp52-53 ofAleister Crowley, The Biography, by Tobias Churton. London: Watkins Publishing 2011 though the source is not specified in so many words.According to Churton the purpose of the ceremony was to ďobsess GardnerĒ - that is, Frederick Leigh Gardner whom Crowley thought was an enemy within the GD.I find this explanation rather odd, as Gardner had been ejected from the GD a couple of years before, though he was still in regular touch with some of its members.The important aspectfrom Williamís point of view, though, was that - a ccording to Crowley - at the end of the ceremony, William was showing ďsymptoms of panic and fearĒ.Lilian Horniblow hadnít been a participant in the ritual but she had watched part of it.Shortly after it, she decided to return to London and Crowley attributes her sudden departure to her having taken fright at his use of magic.

Comment by Sally Davis: just noting that for the purposes of her relationships outside her marriage, Mrs Horniblow called herself Laura Grahame and thatís how sheís referred to in Churtonís biography.



Crowley started to believe that William wanted to have an affair with Lilian Horniblow, and that he was trying to be rid of Crowley so he could pursue a potential relationship without Crowley as a rival.


Aleister Crowley, The Biography, by Tobias Churton. London: Watkins Publishing 2011 p58; Churtonís source is the Abramelin Diary (I think) for an incident where Crowley surprised William and Lilian together on 17 April 1900.In writing up the incident, Crowley described William as ďnearly as big a blackguard as myselfĒ.A short while afterwards, Crowley and William met in Cambridge (itís not clear whether it was by accident or not).During the meeting Crowley told William about some rumours heíd been hearing -that residents at 67 Chancery Lane, himself included, were being watched by the police.William replied that the rumours were true and that Crowleyís danger would be greatest around Easter.Crowley took this warning as a clear attempt by William to get him to leave the country.It seems to have led to the end of whatever friendship the two of them had had up until that time - William is not mentioned after spring 1900 in either Churtonís biography of Crowley; or in Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley by Richard Kaczynski.Berkeley CA: NAH Books originally 2000 this revised edition 2010.Crowley left England in spring 1900 in any case.


Comment by Sally Davis: whether William did have an affair with Lilian Horniblow; or whether Crowley was making it all up; goodness knows!


APRIL 1901

William was renting rooms at 17 John Street in Bloomsbury.His was the third of the three separate households at that address, so he probably occupied the top floor.He told the census official that he was self-employed; and that he was the proprietor of a newspaper.

Comment by Sally Davis.Iíve not known where to look for the newspaper William claimed to own, so soon after heíd left University; or what title to look for.Perhaps he was still the owner of the Cambridge Review although I must say that seems unlikely. ††Whatever newspaper it was, William didnít mention owning one when filling in the 1911 census form, so I suppose it had ceased publication or he had sold it by then.Just noting at this point that he didnít call himself a journalist when speaking to the census official in 1901; though he did do so when filling out his own form in 1911.

Source: 1901 census.


21 JULY 1901 to 20 AUGUST 1901

William may have been involved in a series of trance sessions in which the medium (who wasnít William) took the Enochian alphabet as a starting-point.


Gerald Yorke Collection at the Warburg Institute: catalogue numbers NS59, NS60 and NS100 (the notebooks) and NS103 Item 7 (a typescript of some but not all of their contents).

Comment by Sally Davis:

Please note that in the Sources section at the end of this file I lay out my concerns about the authorship of those notebooks.In the next paragraph or so, however, I will assume that it was indeed William who owned them and wrote up his occult notes in them.If he was their owner, they show that he was working towards a greater understanding of the Enochian magical language, both on his own and with others, in the summer of 1901.Beginning on Sunday 21 July and ending on Tuesday 20 August 1901, two people undertook a series of guided visualisations - one woman who was the medium on each occasion, and one person who wrote down the mediumís account of what she saw while in her trance.Occasionally Florence Farr was present at the sessions, but at most of them it was just the medium and the scribe.Gerald Yorke says in some notes written on the notebooks, that William was the scribe and the sessions took place in his home.For his and my trouble in identifying the medium, see the Sources section.The names of two of the mediumís guides during the last few sessions were given in the notes and I repeat them here in case they are known to occultists: Adan, in the sessions of 11, 12 and 13 August; and Zaran in the last session.For the two people who were there for each session, they were a serious commitment of time and energy: the only session whose start- and end-times were noted down lasted one hour.You can see from the handwritten notebooks how furiously the scribe had to write, to keep up with what the medium was saying.How his or her arm must have ached, by the end!


The Yorke Collection notebooks are the latest evidence there is for William as an active member of the GD.When the GD finally fell apart into its two daughter orders (in 1903) he didnít join either of them.How much he needed to earn a living is a moot point, given the wealth there was in his motherís family; but he had other interests which were taking up more and more of his time.In the end he seems to have abandoned the occult altogether.



Williamís grand-mother Louisa Evans Lombe died.After the death of her husband she had moved to a house in Great Yarmouth.

Source: Probate Registry 1902.


BY WINTER 1902 - which might either mean 1901-02; or 1902-03; the source wasnít clear about it.

William had already bought what seems to have been his first car, a De Dion-Bouton, which he later recommended as an excellent car for a beginner - reliable, and easy to maintain.

Comment by Sally Davis.Itís likely that William bought the de Dion-Bouton Model D, which first went on sale in 1900.Although the firm had started out making electric vehicles, this very popular car had an internal combustion engine.


The Automobile Owner and Steam and Electric Car Review Volume 2 number 1, February 1907:pp4-5 in an article by William.

The Automotor and Horseless Vehicle Journal: A Record and Review of Applied Automatic Locomotion issue of 15 January 1902 p35 happened to mention that a steam-powered de Dion-Bouton had won the first ever road race to be staged in France; in 1894.

Further information on de Dion-Bouton: see wikipedia and other sources on the web, including photos.


WINTER 1902 with the same problem about which year.

William drove his de Dion-Bouton to the south of France.He sold it there to buy a bigger car and though it was unfamiliar to him he drove it back to England.

Comment by Sally Davis: William must have been confident about his ability to cope with whatever mechanical crises arose during his trip south.He did hire a mechanic in Nice for the return journey; but did most of the repairs himself as - too late - he found that the man could only speak the NiÁois dialect, not French or Italian, so they couldnít communicate.A strange clicking from behind him followed William for most of the way north, a clicking that didnít seem to be connected with any fault he could discover.Eventually he found a loaded gun in the pocket in the back, where the mechanic usually sat: the man had been cocking it ready to fire at times along the road.William dispensed with his services as soon as they reached Paris.The curious incident of the gun-toating mechanic proves that it wasnít a de Dion-Bouton car William was driving: de Dion-Boutons had a rather strange arrangement of seats, with the passengers sitting with their backs to where the car was going, facing the driver opposite them.


The Automobile Owner and Steam and Electric Car Review Volume 2 number 1, February 1907:pp4-5 article by William: Where the Click Came From - An Episode of My NiÁois Mechanic.The moral of the tale was: take care when hiring servants.

The Automotor and Horseless Vehicle Journal: A Record and Review of Applied Automatic Locomotion issue of 15 January 1902 p159, p173 forthcoming events: Nice week this winter would be from 6 to 18 April 1902, taking in a trip to Turin and Abbazia from 8 to 15 April.There would be an organised run of cars from Paris to Nice at the end of March.If this was the winter William meant, he might also have visited a motor show in Brussels which ran from 8 to 17 March 1902 before joining the run to the south of France.


BY 1904

William had moved a couple of streets to 10 Grayís Inn Place, a small enclave next to the buildings of Grayís Inn.

Source: Rugby School Register covering May 1874 to May 1904; p171.Unfortunately the School Register only gives Williamís address in 1904; the school doesnít seem to have known what he was doing.Just noting that Kellyís for 1904 shows a Mrs Rutter living at 3 Grayís Inn Place.This is probably Frank Rutterís widowed mother Emmeline and as Frank hadnít married as yet, itís likely he was living there with her.


ALSO BY 1904

William had been elected as a member of the Primrose Club.

The Primrose Club was at 4-5 Park Place St James.Like any gentlemenís club, it provided rooms for socialising, and good meals.It had been founded as a Conservative Party club, a kind-of Clubland equivalent to the Partyís Primrose League for women.I would suppose that no one who was not a supporter of the Conservative party would be elected as a member; and perhaps no one who was not a committed Party member.So it says something about the politics of William and his male acquaintances that he joined it; and I think itís likely he was first introduced to men he later did business with, through the Club.The most likely time for him to join a club like this was when he arrived in London.I daresay he knew plenty of men who were members already.

Sources: Rugby School Register covering May 1874 to May 1904; p171; and wikipedia for more on the Club.


??LATE 1904

William had an article published in the To-Day newspaper, on motor boats.

Comment by Sally Davis.Iíd like to say Iíve seen the article, but I havenít even tried to look for it as I donít know exactly when it was published.I can say that it was Frank Rutter who asked William to write it: on leaving Cambridge the year before William did, Frank had got a job as assistant editor of To-Day.Heíd moved over to the Daily Mail in 1901 but went back to To-Day in 1902 as editor, and was still there in 1904.The possibility of a motor boat race across the Atlantic was being mooted and Frank knew where to go for an expert opinion on the logistics of such a trip.Itís clear William thought the idea was a non-starter: he calculated that an engine of at least 100 horse-power would be needed; and 15 tons of fuel which would be stored - where, exactly?However, he worried that these difficulties wouldnít put people off trying.I donít know whether the race took place.


For Frank Rutter at the newspaper To-Day: wikipedia.

The coverage of Williamís original article in other magazines, some but not all of which give To-Day as the paper in which the article was originally published.You can tell they all have the same source because they all spell Williamís pesky surname HumphrIEs; following on, I suppose, from Frank Rutterís To-Day.

Monthly Consular and Trade Reports volume 76 1904 p59.This magazine is my source for William having left Cambridge with a degree in science; the Cambridge Alumni publication never says what subjects graduates had studied.

Daily Consular Reports number 2121 issued by US Department of Commerce 1 December 1904.

Via archive.org to Scientific American volume 92 number 4 issued 28 January 1905 p17; the best source for Williamís calculations and reservations; and for Williamís work with submarine engines.

Popular Mechanics January 1905; p129 article: Motor Boats for Ocean Races, which mentions that William had also raised the issue of the size of crew that would be needed for such a long and challenging trip: where were they all going to be stowed?

Everittís Encyclopedia of Useful Knowledge issue of 1905 p227.



William was a regular reader of The Steam Car and Electromobile Review.

Comment by Sally Davis.Coming across this magazine diverted William from however he was spending his time and set the course of his life for the next six years.He had nothing to do with the production of it: he was just a reader.The magazineís founder, editor, main writer and printer was George Larritt Polsue, who ran a printing company which had a variety of names down the years (always featuring his very unusual surname) but was always based in Gough Square, just north of Fleet Street (at this time still the centre of publishing in the British Empire) and a short walk from Chancery Lane.


The Automobile Owner and Steam and Electric Car Review volume 5 number 9 November 1910 pp273.

The Steam Car and Electromobile Review from February 1906 to January 1907.

The Automobile Owner and Steam and Electric Car Review volume 5 number 9 November 1910 p273 giving evidence in the libel case Automobile Owner... v The Motor Trader, George Polsue confirmed that he had been The Steam Car and Electromobile Reviewís only owner.


Some sources for George Larritt Polsue:

Heís in Scoop!, the database of journalists held at the British Library.

Using google you can find plenty of references to George Polsueís company under its various names.As Polsue Ltd, it was still in business around 1919-20 and had got the contract to publish the Athenaeum magazine.Most google references, however, are to an important legal case on the law of private nuisance: for example in The American and English Annotated Cases volume 4 1907 p373-77; and in text books on the law of torts.See February 1907.


MARCH 1906

The Automobile Co-operative Association was formed.

Source for its formation:

The Steam Car and Electromobile Review volume 1 number 4 May 1906 p100, p108.On p100 was an official announcement issued by the Automobile Co-operative Association of 1 Albemarle Street Piccadilly.

There was no coverage in the Times of the process of ACA being set up, but the Times Mon 28 May 1906 p1 had an advert (bigger than most adverts on this, the Ďsmall adsí page) inviting readers to become members.The advert had several quotes from other newspapers including one published in the Pall Mall Gazette of 12 April [1906] which said that the ACA opened up ďa brilliant vista for the motoristĒ.

Long comment by Sally Davis.The founders of the ACA were a group of upper-class car owners but it was not another club like the Athenaeum or the Primrose Club - the Royal Automobile Club, the Ladiesí Automobile Club and the Automobile Association existed already and there really wasnít a need for another such.The ACA was a provident or mutual society set up as a joint stock company with its members as its shareholders.It supplied its members with cars and car parts at list prices. It also gave advice, especially technical advice.It ran training courses in car mechanics.It acted as an insurance broker.It had a marine department for those interested in motor boats - Ernest du Boulay was its manager.And it held a dinner each year and had rooms above its offices where members could meet.The announcement in The Steam Car... was also a call for members.To be a member you had to buy at least one share at £1 per share; and pay a small yearly subscription.


Over the next few years and despite the opposition of groups like the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the ACA was very successful and it was still in existence even during the very difficult conditions of the first World War.


The public face of the ACA was an Advisory Council comprised of the original founding group and others who joined later.Its daily business was carried out by employees, with more and more taken on as the ACAís reach and membership expanded.Decision-making was in the hands of a management committee.In the first few months of the ACA the management committee had about eight members, but this was soon pared down to three, who remained at the helm for several years: Sir Wroth Periam Christopher Lethbridge, 5th Baronet who essentially represented the members and was probably typical of them; Jules de Meray, a City financier; and William Humphrys.


Sources for how the ACA:

Papers by Command volume 76 issued HMSO 1914 p206 the ACA is in a list of ďdistributive trading societiesĒ; thereís some financial information.

Friendly Societies, Industrial and Provident Societies issue of 1915: ACA is in this.

See coverage of the ACAís various AGMs for more information on turnover, number of members, assets.

And see below issues of the magazine I call Automobile Owner..., managed and part-owned by William.


The other members of the ACA management committee:

Sources for JULES DE MERAY

I looked for him on Familysearch.Couldnít pick him out but I did see mention of at least one family called de Meray living in south London in the second half of the 19th century.Although he said in his 1911 census form that he had been born in France and was still a French national, Jules was probably a member of that south London family.

Census 1911 at 1 Rutland Gate Knightsbridge.

Railway Times volume 58 1890 p87 de Meray as a partner in de Meray and Brooke at their offices at 5 Throgmorton Avenue EC.

Mining Manual... volume 5 1893 p367 de Meray as involved in a company set up to develop mines in Spain, Portugal and elsewhere and registered at Companies House in December 1888.

London Gazette 7 April 1893 p214 notices of partnerships dissolved includes one issued by Jules de Meray and Arthur Montague Brooke, trading as de Meray and Brooke, merchants and financiers, of 5 Throgmorton Avenue EC.De Meray would continue the business, on his own, at the same address.

The Electrical Engineer volume 31 1903 p167 de Meray listed as the chairman of Sir Hiram Maxim Electrical and Engineering Co Ltd BUT I think the firmís management is being sued by its investors.

Heís into chess as well as cars:

The British Chess Magazine volume 46 1926 p139 an obituary of Jules de Meray which throws a light on his personality which I find a bit alarming - but then I never fancied gambling with stocks and shares.De Meray had died on21 December 1925 at 48 Sussex Gardens.The obituary described him as a man of ďenormous energy, great inventive power and indomitable courageĒ.


Like Lethbridge, Jules de Meray was married three times; he was never divorced, though.The Madame de Meray of the ACA years is Mary Ann E Burton, whom he married in 1898.To celebrate the marriage the de Merays commissioned a portrait of Madame from the British artist Joseph Solomon Solomon who I think was a friend of theirs - he was a guest at several ACA dinners.

Academy Notes issued by the Royal Academies, issues 24-27 1898 on p30 part of a catalogue probably that of the summer exhibition: catalogue number 1024 is Solomonís portrait of Mme de Meray.

At artsalesindex.artinfo.com: the portrait of Mme de Meray by Joseph Solomon Solomon was sold at Sothebyís in March 1988.

Mary Ann de Meray died in 1923, aged 60; and in 1925 Jules married Annie Stack Lauder.He died a few months later.


Sources for SIR WROTH PERIAM CHRISTOPHER LETHBRIDGE (1863-1950) 5th Baronet:

Wikipedia on the Lethbridge baronetcy.Just noting that it was during the 5th Baronetís tenure that the ancestral home - Sandhill Park near Bishopís Lydiard - had to be sold.Car driving was an expensive habit; as was litigation; and divorce.

Times Fri 28 November 1902 p11 short obituary of the 6th Baronet, Wroth Acland Lethbridge, and of Wroth P C Lethbridge, his heir: army 1885; Captain 1898; currently in Grenadier Guards.

Times Sat 3 June 1905 p5 Law Reports.Coverage of case heard in Court of Appeal: Attorney-General v Lethbridge in which lawyers for the 5th Baronet were arguing that death duties were not payable on insurance policies set up by the trustees of the Will of the 2nd Baronet.The Courtís decision was in the Attorney-Generalís favour and the death duties had to be paid in full.Ouch.http://www.npg.org.uk

At www.thepeerage.com information on his three marriages.He was divorced twice - quite a record for the early 20th century.



The ACA held its first annual dinner.


Times Sat 27 October 1906 p14 Court and Social Column list of todayís events.

Comment by Sally Davis: I havenít found a full guest list for this or any subsequent ACA dinners.In some years, the more important guests are named; usually those who made speeches, which William never did.As a member of its management committee William ought to have attended the dinners, though, unless he had a prior engagement.


?15 NOVEMBER 1906

The Times printed a preview of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Tradersí 5th annual car show at Olympia.As well as describing the main features of the show, the report promoted the ACA, mentioning the temporary club-house it would have on the show-floor for the whole of the exhibition.

Source: Times Thurs 15 November 1906 p13: Motor Cars at Olympia.

Comment by Sally Davis.Like most newspapers, the Times didnít name its columnists at this time; the report is just credited to ďour special correspondentĒ.The focus on the ACA, though; and the lyrical praise of the ďgorgeous yellowĒ Daimler made for the Nizam of Hyderabad did make me wonder whether William was the writer and by this time, William did have one friend that I know about who definitely wrote for the Sunday Times at least and might have mentioned Williamís name when the editors of the Times were looking for someone to report on the car show:

For Frank Rutterís art columns for the Times: Times Monday 19 April 1937 p16 obituary of Frank Rutter.Rutter had started to write for the Sunday Times in 1904.



The next part of this three-part life-by-dates of William Humphrys covers 1907-09; return to my GD introduction page to find it.The last part covers 1910-50.


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; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burkeís Peerage and Baronetage; Burkeís 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.


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.



THE PROBLEM NOTEBOOKS: my anxieties about their authorship/ownership.They are in the Gerald Yorke Collection at the Warburg Institute: catalogue numbers NS59, NS60 and NS100 (the notebooks) and NS103 Item 7 (a typescript of some but not all of their contents).IF their author has been correctly identified, they might show what occult work William was doing in the months after being admitted to the GDís 2nd Order.But I have to say I am rather worried about them.Gerald Yorke bought them on the understanding that they were the work of William Humphrys but when I looked at them, I couldnít actually find any of that evidence that we historians like to see as some guarantee of authorship - names, addresses, Ďex librisí inserts, Ďto X on his birthday from Yí - that sort of thing.And the handwriting in NS59 is not all by the same person - at least, I donít think it is. Williamís GD motto has been written on the inside cover of the notebooks; but the writing (in biro) is Gerald Yorkeís.There were dates on some of the pages of some of the notebooks, in pencil like most of the contents and probably scribbled on around the time the contents were written down.The dates are all in July and August 1901.


Gerald Yorkeís interpretation of the contents of the notebooks was that they concerned the Enochian alphabet and its meanings.The typescript puts into readable form the handwritten notes in the notebooks, taken down during a series of sessions in which a medium, in trance, related to a scribe what she was seeing in her visions.Fair enough.

In his short introduction to the typescript Yorke identifies four people as being at the sessions: William Humphrys; a GD member whose motto was shortened to ĎVí and who Yorke thought was Joseph K Gardner; Florence Farr; and the medium, whom he couldnít identify beyond the initials of her motto (itís definitely a woman).Iíve got a lot of problems with Yorkeís identifications. Firstly, Humphrys: Yorke calls him the scribe and organiser of the sessions and see above for my worries about that.Secondly Joseph Gardner: his motto was Valet Anchora Virtus which was shortened to VAV, not V; in addition, he lived in Liverpool and had a full-time job there so he was not going to be available for evening sessions in London extending over nearly two months.In fact, reading the actual typescript (rather than the introduction) I saw that the person ĎVí hadnít actually been present at any of the sessions; Vís importance was in having a window in their house which had a design in it that the group used as the focus for the first in the series of rituals.I suggest that the ĎVí in question was ĎVigilateí - Helen Rand, a very active GD member who lived in Surrey and whose house many GD members had visited.Thirdly, Florence Farr: the typescript mentions specifically which sessions she attended and she was present at only three of the fifteen.Fourthly, and most troubling, the medium.A note by Yorke in notebook NS60 interpreted the scrawled two initials of her motto as ĎIOí or possibly ĎJOí.Actually the ĎIí or ĎJí letter looked more like a hastily drawn bass-clef symbol to me but I quite see that it canít be.Yorke couldnít figure out who this was, and I donít know of anyone in the GD up to 1901 whose motto would have those initials: not in R A Gilbert or my own list of mottos.It could be someone who was initiated after that.Or the little group might have brought in a good medium from outside the order but I canít believe they did that.




22 November 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: