This is the second part of my life-by-dates of Golden Dawn member William Evans Hugh Humphrys (1876 to 1950) and covers 1907-09, the busiest part of his life. The first part covers 1876 to 1906. The third part covers 1910-50.
SO, CARRYING ON FROM PART 1, WITH 1907, an important year for William. If you’ve arrived at this file without seeing Part 1: the ACA I refer to continually below is the Automobile Co-operative Association, formed in 1906 to buy in cars and car parts at list price for its members.
EARLY IN 1907
William took over the magazine The Steam Car and Electromobile Review. He offered his new magazine to the ACA as its car magazine outlet. As part of the deal with the ACA William accepted a place on its management committee; and the ACA agreed to pay £20 per issue for 8 pages of coverage. George Polsue became a director of the limited company founded to run the new magazine; and his firm printed it, from its first issue until mid-1911. William was the new magazine’s managing director. He lent the limited company quite a lot of money.
PLEASE NOTE. Comment by Sally Davis on the clumsy name of William’s magazine: throughout its existence, it was always called The Automobile Owner and Steam and Electric Car Review. I’m shortening that to Automobile Owner....
Comment by Sally Davis on the agreement with the ACA: William later said it lasted only a few months; but even after those months had elapsed, the ACA had large adverts in most issues of William’s magazine and plenty of news coverage as well.
The Steam Car and Electromobile Review from February 1906 to January 1907.
Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 3 May 1910 p114.
For a possible reason why George Polsue might have been willing to sell:
The American and English Annotated Cases volume 4 1907 p373-77; and in
text books on the law of torts: Polsue and Alfieri Ltd v Rushmer of 1906. Rushmer was Polsue and Alfieri’s downstairs
For the change of ownership:
Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 9 November 1910 pp270-77, more or less verbatim report of legal proceedings in a libel case; including William and George Polsue giving evidence; and William being cross-examined.
Comment by Sally Davis. Anxious not to foist too much alienating change
of the readers of the old magazine happy, in his first few months William’s new
magazine kept pretty-much to the old one’s format. It had a similar high-quality paper, typeface
and layout on the page - but then, it was being printed by the same
printers. It managed to keep a lot of
the same advertisers; though I did notice that the Automobile Association
dropped out. It had the same rather
lavish use of photographs and diagrams; these didn’t come cheap, of course, but
a lot of the magazine’s articles were highly technical features on how to
understand and/or mend your own engine, and one diagram is worth a thousand
words. Authors like Geoffrey
Holden-Stone, David J Smith, and the writer identified only as ‘Generator’
continued their monthly columns at first, and though Holden-Stone’s column
ended, David J Smith continued to write regularly for William’s magazine until
it closed. William might have known
David Smith for several years already: Smith’s garage was the English agent for
Darracq-Serpollet cars and it was situated off
William did introduce some new features over the next few months: a series of profiles of well-known car owners; and a column for women drivers.
FROM FEBRUARY TO NOVEMBER 1907
Though not all of its readers were ACA members, Automobile Owner... did portray itself as the voice of the ACA.
Comment by Sally Davis: William was quite specific about when Automobile Owner... stopped describing itself that way - December 1907, probably when the £20-per-issue agreement he’d made with the ACA ran out. Although in the short term, being so closely associated with the ACA probably made William more secure about his magazine’s future, in the longer term, being seen as the voice of the ACA was more of a handicap than an asset.
Sources: Automobile Owner.. volume 5 number 9 November 1910. About the editorial independence of the magazine: p271 evidence of William; and p275 evidence of the ACA’s Secretary R G Whitcomb. And p272 that Automobile Owner... was not just the ACA’s members’ magazine.
The first issue of The Automobile Owner and Steam and Electric Car Review was published From 1907 to 1912 its editorial and publishing offices were at 67-69 Chancery Lane. At least until 1908, producing the magazine was the main task in William’s life.
Comment by Sally Davis. George Polsue might have insisted that some element of his original magazine name be kept, but that’s a long and clumsy title! I shall be referring to William’s magazine as Automobile Owner....
William will have known
Automobile Owner... cost the same as its predecessor for most of its existence - 3d per monthly issue - and up to mid-1910, it never made a profit. William later described himself as its managing director but he did a great deal more than that, especially during its first two years: he’s credited with a lot of the articles and from the style of many of the uncredited ones, I think he wrote a lot of those as well. In the magazine’s first year he did a series of interviews for a ‘prominent car owners’ column; though this column was dropped in 1908 perhaps because William didn’t have time for it. Although no editor’s name was given before October 1908, William may have done the editing and produced the short news reports from February 1907. As managing director he would have been in charge of the magazine’s finances, both incomings and outgoings. There’s evidence of his discussing with clients the layout of their adverts. I haven’t been able to discover how many staff William employed - whether he had a permanent typist, for example, or an accounts clerk. To keep his costs down, he might have done a lot of that kind of work himself. New technology was something he was interested in anyway, of course, but he was particularly keen to come across new processes that could make the Automobile Owner’s... production process easier. By June 1907 regular columnists were able to dictate their articles into a wax cylinder and send it direct to a typist.
Automobile Owner.. volume 2 number 1.
Automobile Owner.. volume 5 number 9 November 1910 pp270-77, more or less verbatim report of the legal proceedings in a libel case; including William and George Polsue giving evidence; and William being cross-examined.
For the new technology: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 5 June 1907 p147, p165.
William had two credited articles in the Automobile Owner’s first issue: Where the Click Came From, about his trip to the south of France; and the first of his profiles of notable car owners, which featured Sir Charles Knox, a hero of the Boer War who was on the ACA’s advisory council.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 1 February 1907: pp4-5 and pp6-8.
DURING MARCH 1907
William almost certainly went to
Source: no actual proof, but see March 1907.
William’s credited articles in this month’s Automobile Owner...
were a profile of Colonel W T Bosworth in the notable car owners series; and a
report on the Commercial Motor Vehicles show held at
Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 2 March 1907: pp38-39; pp 53-54; pp 54-55 motoring events. Just noting that on p53 there was a list of the newly-elected committee of the Royal Automobile Club: William wasn’t one of them.
William’s articles this month in Automobile Owner... were a report on Cordingley’s Motor Show; and a profile of the Hon Mrs Assheton Harbord, who was a keen balloonist as well as a car owner.
Comment by Sally Davis: just confirming that William did interview the notable car owners himself for that series of columns. He allowed Mrs Harbord a paragraph in her profile in which to protest against vivisection - she was a campaigner on the issue.
Sources: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 3 April 1907 pp78-80 for Mrs Harbord and pp88-91 for Cordingley’s Motor Show.
Sources for May Constance Harbord:
Familysearch has a birth date of 6 June 1866 for May Constance Cuningham, daughter of James MacNab Cuningham and his wife Mary née Falconer. She was born in Simla.
Website www.thepeerage.com which uses Burke’s Peerage as a source, says that May married Arthur Rankin Blackwood in 1885.
At www.familytreecircles.com, Arthur Rankin Blackwood died in Victoria Australia in 1905.
Website www.cracroftspeerage.co.uk on the barony of
Suffield: May Blackwood married Assheton Harbord, second son of the 5th
Baron Suffield, in
At www.gracesguide.co.uk, Grace’s Guide to
Industrial History, an account of May Harbord’s ballooning exploits which
included crossing the English Channel four times. In May 1912 she became the first woman in the
She died in 1928.
10 APRIL 1907
The Automobile Co-operative Association was registered as a limited company.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 9 November 1910 p270 Automobile Owner... v The Motor Trader evidence of William Humphrys. P273 evidence of William: as part of the founding of the company, money had been loaned to it by two people who were now debenture holders: William held the majority of the debentures - 400. The other debenture holder wasn’t named during the hearing. I suppose it’s most likely to have been George Polsue; though Viscount Massereene and Ferrard (see below) is another possibility. On p273 evidence of George Polsue: he was one of the directors of the limited company.
Comment by Sally Davis. William was another director of the company of course. No other directors were mentioned during the case so perhaps there were only the two of them.
22 APRIL 1907
The Times published a letter from Sir Wroth Lethbridge, writing as the
current chairman of the ACA; protesting that the officials who ran
Comment by Sally Davis: this was the sort of campaigning the ACA was doing for its members.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 3 April 1907: p88-91; p78-80.
Times Mon 22 April 1907 p17.
23 APRIL 1907
William may have attended the dinner which launched the Motor Club.
Source: see May 1907.
FROM APRIL 1907 TO AT LEAST NOVEMBER 1910
Whenever he got the chance, William bought up small numbers of shares in Automobile Owner... limited; so that by November 1910 he owned 10,000 shares in the company.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 9 November 1910 p270 Automobile Owner... v The Motor Trader p271 evidence of William. Unfortunately no one asked him how many shares there were in total; I imagine that he was the company’s major shareholder by November 1910.
The only article in May’s issue of Automobile Owner... which is credited to William is that month’s ‘car owner’ profile, which featured the recently-married Beatrice Wolseley who was an active member of the Ladies’ Automobile Club.
Comment by Sally Davis: this is just a hunch of mine, but I do wonder whether, during his interview with her, William asked Beatrice Wolseley if she’d like to write a column for his magazine. A series of articles for women drivers started up in Automobile Owner... very soon after this issue. The Ladies’ Automobile Club had been formed in a spirit of defiance by a group of socially well-connected women drivers who had been refused membership of the RAC. It’s possible that GD member Hon Gabrielle Borthwick was one of those annoyed women who went out and did something about being refused; though I have to say I haven’t actually found any evidence that she was definitely a member of the LAC.
Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 4 May 1907 pp112-13 for the profile of Beatrice Wolseley. And on pp118-119 an uncredited report on the dinner which launched the Motor Club; though there isn’t a guest list. Though Automobile Owner... never really went in for ‘letters from readers’; from this month onwards there, a few were published each issue (p122).
Beatrice, Lady Wolseley:
Dod’s Peerage issue of 1914 she’s Beatrice Sophia daughter of Colonel William Wallingford Knollys and niece of Baron Knollys. Married 1907 Sir Capel Wolseley who had succeeded as 9th Baronet in 1890. Via google I saw quite a lot of coverage of the wedding including the same photograph that accompanied William’s profile of Beatrice: the bride getting into a car after the ceremony.
She was a writer. The British Library catalogue had three works by her:
1893 as Beatrice Sophia Knollys. My Black Spirit. A Novel
1899 also as Knollys. The Gentle Art of Good Talking which went through two editions in that one year.
Then nothing at all until
1921 as Lady Wolseley. Rose Leaves from the
The Ladies’ Automobile Club:
A Monthly Magazine devoted to the interests of New York Athletic Club volume 12 1903 p20 describes looking down the list of members of the LAC as like reading an edition of Burke’s Peerage.
Good Housekeeping volume 38 1904 p343 names the Duchess of Marlborough as one of the the LAC’s members.
Via google I reached Gabrielle Borthwick was not on the list. where there was a list of the members of LAC in that year.
The Horseless Age volume 17 1906 p56 noted that the LAC had taken on an engineer to teach car mechanics, a Mr R Sedgewick Currie. P604 the LAC’s members had a special day at the Crystal Palace Show in February 1904.
The Auto: The Motorist’s Pictorial volume 12 1907 p329 gave a description of Mr Sedgewick Currie’s classes and the car the students worked on.
Automobile Topics volume 16 1908 p1157 the LAC was already organising races for its members.
Royal Automobile Club Yearbook 1908 p1 lists member clubs, which include the LAC. On p217 as with any gentlemen’s club, you had to be elected to be a member of the LAC.
And for Gabrielle Borthwick, a notable car owner and car mechanic NOT interviewed by William for Automobile Owner..., see my biography of her on my GD web pages.
??DURING MAY 1907
William might have attended Bexhill races, and been invited by someone he met there, to go on a weekend drive by a group of car owners, from Long Acre in Covent Garden, to Bexhill; and back.
Source: see June 1907.
William must have been working hard making the contacts and sorting out the legal and financial issues for the launch of Automobile Owner..’s own insurance service for motorists.
Source: see November 1907.
??SUNDAY 9 JUNE 1907
William might have gone on the Motor Club’s first organised group car trip, from Whitcomb Street in London to Brighton; as a passenger rather than a driver, in Mr Huntley Walker’s Darracq.
Source: see June 1907.
17 JUNE 1907
Brooklands racing track was formally opened as the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit.
Comment by Sally Davis: surely William must have been there. Brooklands had been made possible by the Motor Car Act of 1903 which abolished the 20mph speed limit on all roads that had been in force before. The idea of a car racing circuit was the brainchild of Hugh F Locke King.
Sources: there’s plenty on Brooklands on the web, even some film. For the history, see wikipedia; and www.brooklandsmuseum.com
28-29 JUNE 1907
The first competitive event was held at Brooklands - a 24 hour race involving three Napier cars.
William’s only credited article this month was a technical one about the
use of graphite as a lubricant. Though
the coverage was uncredited I think William must also have written the report
on the new Linophone technology system just installed at Automobile Owner...’s
printers (that’s Polsue Ltd) by the
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 5 June 1907. Pp141 for the weekend drive to Bexhill; and
p142 for the 9 June 1907 drive to
William’s credited articles this month were the profile of the well-known rower Captain W H Darell of the Coldstream Guards, for the ‘car owner’ series; and one on a group car drive to Hastings in which he made the trip to Kent in Mr D’Arcy Baker’s Fiat but came back in someone else’s Panhard.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 6 July 1907: p177; p184.
On one of his regular visits to
Comment by Sally Davis: there’s no evidence that William was involved at this stage; but he did get dragged in later on.
Since I was Twenty-Five by Frank Rutter.
Wikipedia has a short page on Naoum Aronson (1872-1943) who seems to be no relation to the better-known David Aronson.
At digicoll.library.wisc.edu, the Digital Library of Decorative Arts and Material Culture: an article on Aronson’s recent work, originally published in The Craftsman volume XIX number 1, October 1910 pp10-16; rather gushing in tone but most of it is illustrations including Aronson’s head of Tolstoy.
This month’s issue of Automobile Owner... saw the first fiction column, Cynical Short Stories. A short story was published every month from this month until 1912, with the most regular writer being someone with the professional name of John Vicarsfield. The issue didn’t contain any articles definitely by William.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 7 August 1907: pp239-47 for the short story.
Comment by Sally Davis: unlike some magazines designed for the wealthy, Automobile Owner... didn’t take a summer break. If William had holidays between 1907 and 1912 they must have been short ones as I don’t think he had anyone he could leave in charge of getting the magazine prepared and printed. And on the subject of John Vicarsfield: google didn’t have anything on such a person and the British Library has nothing in its catalogue but him - tending to confirm my feeling that it was a pseudonym.
It was in this issue of Automobile Owner... that the reduction of
the ACA’s management committee to
Comment by Sally Davis: I think William was the person whose three-week
search for one particular car that was parked in a garage somewhere in
Sources: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 8 September
1907. P269 for the reduction in ACA
management committee numbers; p279-81 for the garage search; p289 motoring in
For Vivinus cars see wikipedia.
There was no article credited to William this month but this issue did see the first column for women motorists: Musings of Miranda; which featured the members of the Ladies’ Automobile Club.
Comment by Sally Davis about Miranda: if I’m not right that Beatrice Wolseley was ‘Miranda’ it must have been someone she knew, another member of the LAC.
Sources: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 9 October 1907 pp334.
Comment by Sally Davis: Frank Rutter’s work in bringing contemporary
modern art to
For the Allied Artists’ Association:
Since I was Twenty-Five by Frank Rutter.
Comment by Sally Davis: Frank doesn’t mention exactly when he approached William to play a part in the financial and legal side of the AAA; but it must have been quite early on in the process.
For Jan de Holewinski:
Internationalism and the Arts in
The British Library has one work by de Holewinski in its catalogue: A Sketch of the History of Polish Art published by the Polish Information Committee in 1916. However, via google I saw mention of An Outline of the History of Polish Literature published George Allen and Unwin 1916.
11 NOVEMBER 1907 at the Criterion Restaurant
The ACA held its second annual dinner, which William ought to have gone to, as a member of its management committee; though he didn’t make any of the evening’s speeches.
Sources: Automobile Owner volume 2 number 9 October 1907 on p331:
an advance notice for readers who wanted to obtain tickets. The dinner was timed to coincide with the
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ car show at
See wikipedia for the Byzantine-style Criterion Restaurant of
The Automobile Owner... launched its own car owners’ insurance
policy. Users would receive one year’s
issues of the magazine as part of the deal and also a subscription to either
the Automobile Association or the Motor Union. This month’s preview of the International
Automobile Exhibition at
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 10 November 1907. PP364-65 for the insurance policy.
DURING NOVEMBER 1907
William went over to
Source: see December 1907.
William’s article in this issue of Automobile Owner... was
inevitably his report on the
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 11 December 1907. Pp418-20 William’s The Paris Salon and its Lessons; and note the use of the term ‘salon’ as if the car show was an art exhibition, perhaps it’s the influence of Frank Rutter!
Comment by Sally Davis: On p449 of this issue there was a long, uncredited report on the AGM of The Electrobus Co Ltd. Looking for the company on the web I came across plenty of reports on the legal cases that followed its demise in 1908 - prosecutions for fraud, embezzlement, patent fraud etc. I hope William hadn’t invested in it!
1908 was a very busy year for William Humphrys.
The only article credited to William in this month’s issue of Automobile
Owner... was one on how to deal with skids.
He might have written the report on the new Turner-Miesse steam car,
which was unusual for the time in being wholly manufactured in
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 2 number 12 January 1908: pp466-67 William’s Skidding and Non-Skids. pp489-91 is the report on the Turner-Miesse steam car, made by Turner’s Motor Manufacturing of Wolverhampton. And just noting firstly on p487 an advert for the Adams 10 horse-power car which emphasised that the car was simple enough (!!) for a woman to drive it and showed one doing so, the two-seater version was 195 guineas, you paid 250 guineas for the four-seater; secondly p494 an advert for David J Smith’s garage at Goswell Road which had second-hand Darracq-Serpollet cars for sale.
The magazine The Motor Trader published an article which William thought libelled the reputation of Automobile Owner.... It also published a list of firms who had done deals for the sale of their products through the ACA; causing some of Automobile Owner...’s current advertisers to cancel their adverts, and potential advertisers to change their minds, for fear of being black-listed.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 9 November 1910 p272, p273 Automobile Owner... v The Motor Trader, evidence of William Humphrys. The point he was making was that Automobile Owner... was dependent on its advertisers for the majority of its revenue. H E Morris gave evidence (p273) that you didn’t have to have done a deal with the ACA to advertise in Automobile Owner.... H E Morris and his brother ran a car manufacturing business in Stroud Green Road, north London. Their firm was not on ACA’s list of suppliers. In August 1910 (volume 5 number 6 pp184-187) Automobile Owner... ran a long, lavishly illustrated article on Morris’ brothers new model; and in October 1910 (volume 5 number 8 p252) printed an advert for it.
DURING JANUARY 1908
Almost certainly, William went on a motoring Sunday out to Hindhead in Surrey organised by the Motor Club; together with 13 other “leading writers on automobilism”. The 14 of them (all men of course) had their photograph taken outside the Moorlands Hotel where the cavalcade stopped for lunch.
Source: see February 1908.
Frank Rutter and Jan de Holewinski’s Allied Artists Association was launched. Its offices were at 67-69 Chancery Lane.
Comment by Sally Davis: Frank chose the AAA’s headquarters because it was a place he knew well as two of his friends already worked there - William, of course; and solicitor Eliott Gray who had been at Queen’s College Cambridge with both of them. Frank persuaded William and Eliott to go onto the AAA’s first management committee with him and Jan: Frank and Jan did the art, William did the finance, and Eliott gave legal advice. You can definitely detect William’s hand in the registering of the AAA as an industrial and provident association; and in the way it raised money - all members having to buy at least one share in the company, at £1 per share, and then paying a yearly subscription. Just like the ACA. Over the next few months Frank and Jan set about organising the first, huge exhibition of works.
Since I was Twenty-Five by Frank Rutter. London: Constable and Co Ltd 1927. Particularly pp182-83. Aware that William Humphrys wouldn’t be someone his readers would have heard of, Frank described him as a “motor expert and a director of several companies”.
For Eliott Gray (Frank spells his forename wrongly):
Some information on Eliott Cecil George Gray (1877-1944):
Like William, Eliott was the son of a Church of England cleric. But Eliott had been born in India. He graduated in 1898, like Frank but not like William; and went to London to qualify as a solicitor. Later in his working life he was a partner in Dennis and Gray of 3 Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Gerrard’s Cross. He served in the Middlesex Regiment and then the RASC in the first World War. He retired to Cambridge.
Sources for Eliott Gray:
Kelly’s PO London Directory issue of 1910 p241 street directory entry for 67-69 Chancery Lane lists only one solicitor: Philip John Rutland. Eliott Gray must have been a junior in Rutland’s practice at the time.
Alumni Cantabrigiensis seen via google so no volume number but p119 in that volume.
Another viewpoint on the AAA:
Walter Sicket: A Biography. Denys Sutton. London: Michael Joseph 1976; p144 but with the surname spelled HumphrIEs.
ALSO FEBRUARY 1908
This month’s article by William in Automobile Owner... considered the costs of motoring. This issue had more coverage of the ACA than usual, to promote its new Trade Information Bureau; and its new Motor Trade department, run by a Mr J B King who had been poached by the ACA from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 1 February 1908. On p12 William’s article: What it Costs to Run a Car. On p13, a photograph of the “leading writers on automobilism” outside the Moorlands Hotel at Hindhead during their day-trip from London. None of them are identified, alas, but surely William is amongst them. P29, p47 for the ACA’s latest ventures.
The problem of government taxation of motoring reared its ugly head in Automobile Owner... for the first time, in an article by William written on the assumption that a tax on cars would be part of the forthcoming Liberal Party budget. Automobile Owner...’s own booklet for car owners who employed staff to do their motoring for them - The Chauffeur’s Blue Book - was advertised, also for the first time.
Comment by Sally Davis: William’s views on the taxation of cars show (at least to me) that he wasn’t a slavish Conservative: he thought a tax on the cars of those who motored for pleasure, who were “able to spend money on indulgence” and still “afford to contribute handsomely to the National Exchequer” was fair. He suggested that the German method of a scale of payments based on the horse-power of the vehicle was a good one; and that - at least at first - was the method that the Liberal Party chose.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 2 March 1908. P51 for the Chauffeur’s Blue Book; which was obtainable from 67-69 Chancery Lane. Pp60-61 William’s article: The Problem of Motor Taxation.
26 MARCH 1908
The AGM of the ACA was held at its offices at 1 Albemarle Street. William made what I think was his only speech at the ACA’s meetings: a short reply to some praise of him by Jules de Meray in his speech as the chairman.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 3 May 1908 pp121-125. De Meray’s speech is the source for how William’s magazine and the ACA got together and William ended up on the ACA’s management committee. Most of the speech was outlining de Meray’s plans for greater cooperation between the ACA and motoring organisations in Europe and the USA; over the next year a lot of effort was put into this by the ACA though I don’t think William was much involved in it.
29 MARCH 1908
A Mr Humphrys (sic) was a passenger in a car which was driving through Albourne in Sussex when there was an accident in which several people were hurt. When the police arrived at the scene, the driver and his passengers argued that their car hadn’t been involved in the accident; but the police arrested the driver anyway. He turned out to be the brother of two well-known actresses.
Comment by Sally Davis: I think the Mr Humphrys who subsequently gave evidence when the case reached court, was the GD’s William, keeping up his Cambridge University habit of getting friendly with actresses. The two actresses on this occasion were Phyllis and Zena Dare and the arrested man was their brother John William Cecil Dones.
Source: Times Tues 26 May 1908 p14 and Motor Car Journal volume 10 1908 p290 which identified the two actresses.
The wikipedia page on Phyllis Dare also covers her sister Zena who doesn’t seem to have been so well-known.
At search.ancestry something dates for John W C Dones, known as Jack - 1888-1939 (so he’s considerably younger than William). And at discovery.nationalarchives.gov, the divorce petition (1922) of John W C Dones against his wife Buna Regina Dones; with a named co-respondent.
There was no issue of Automobile Owner... this month. William was just too busy, I suppose!
In addition to all the other things going on in his working life, he had to attend two more motor shows: Cordingley’s Automobile Exhibition, at the Royal Agricultural Halls; and the spring show at Olympia.
Sources: see May 1908.
Automobile Owner... reappeared, with one credited article by William: Comments on the Shows, by which he meant the Cordingley and Olympia spring shows.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 3 May 1908 pp105-06.
23 MAY 1908
A rather disparaging report on Cordingley’s Automobile Exhibition appeared in the Times. It’s possible William was the author - he was similarly less than enthusiastic in his article for Automobile Owner... - though the report was only credited to a special correspondent.
Times Mon 23 May 1908 p11.
26 MAY 1908 accident
John Dones had to attend the magistrates court at Haywards Heath to answer charges arising from the car accident in March. Mr Humphrys persuaded the judge that Mr Dones’ arrest was a case of mistaken identity - the car he’d been driving hadn’t been involved in the crash. All charges were dismissed.
Source: Times Tues 26 May 1908 p14. I think that the Mr Humphrys who gave evidence on John Dones’ behalf was the GD’s William.
Motor Car Journal volume 10 1908 p290 also covers the case; as a case of mistaken identity.
William’s only credited article in this month’s Automobile Owner... was a rather anxious one on the future of the Brooklands motor racing track, which was in financial trouble. However, an uncredited article on the Diamond Fire Extinguisher is almost certainly by him, the first indication of William’s involvement in the dry-powder fire extinguisher trade.
Sources: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 4 June 1908 p158. William might have been an investor in the track himself; but even if he hadn’t bought any shares he would certainly have known some of those who had. On pp144-145: The Newest Fire Extinguisher relates how a representative of Diamond Fire Extinguisher Ltd gave a demonstration of his firm’s product, in a bucket in the writer’s office. The writer was very impressed and persuaded the demonstrator to let him have several canisters to be assessed by some of his readers; though after several repeats of the demo, he was very glad to open the windows!
William was not the only person treated to a demonstration of this new product: the anonymous article in Automobile Owner... mentioned that earlier in the year, the Prince and Princess of Wales had watched a demonstration in the grounds of Marlborough House, their London residence. They had bought canisters for all their houses - an order of several hundred items.
Sources for the British Diamond Fire Extinguisher Co Ltd:
The British Diamond Fire Extinguisher Co Ltd existed by 1901, it’s in that year’s issue of Companies volume 10 issued by the Board of Trade; p51.
Via archive.commercialmotor.com to Commercial Motor volume 20 1908 issue of 18 June 1908 p924. This article gave the firm its full name - the British Diamond Fire Extinguisher Co Ltd - and its current address - 65 London Wall, a short walk from Chancery Lane. The Commercial Motor’s reporter wasn’t quite so enthusiastic as William was: he thought the canister would be more efficient if it had some kind of nozzle, to direct the powder onto the fire. But it was cheap and very light (weighing only three pounds).
16 JUNE 1908
There was a demonstration of the diamond fire extinguisher on the Strand near the Aldwych; with a lunch afterwards at which the Viscount Massereene and Ferrard was the chairman. Speeches were made at the lunch by Joseph Whaley, as the inventor of the dry-powder mix that the extinguisher used; and by a Mr Gomme representing the London County Council, one of the firm’s biggest customers.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 5 July 1908 p197.
Comment by Sally Davis: there’s not a full guest-list for the lunch, but if William was as keen on the product as he seems to have been (see below) he probably attended both the demo and the social occasion afterwards.
Was the British Diamond Fire Extinguisher Co Ltd’s product patented? It’s clear that some of the users thought it was. I didn’t find any evidence of such a patent, and a lot of evidence that one never existed; including some inadvertently provided by William. I think it’s telling that the British Diamond company didn’t sue makers of similar products for breach of patent; presumably because it had no grounds.
The Automobile Owner... promoted the Diamond fire extinguisher with full-page adverts and lots of mentions in the text of the magazine. And William got very heavily involved indeed with the firm: by September the address of its offices had moved from London Wall to 69 Chancery Lane so he may have invested in it and perhaps even become a director.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 7 September 1908 p258 and subsequent issues to December 1908 but not in 1909.
11 JULY-AUGUST 1908
The Allied Artists’ Association held its first, huge, exhibition, at the Royal Albert Hall.
Since I was Twenty-Five by Frank Rutter. London: Constable and Co Ltd 1927. Particularly p12, pp49-55; p76; p153.
Times Sat 11 July 1908 and two other days; p1 in the small ads Arts Exhibitions section: an advert for the exhibition on its first day, placed by Frank Rutter as the AAA’s secretary.
Times Mon 13 July 1908 p10d the Salon Review. An slightly disparaging assessment of the AAA’s exhibition; uncredited as usual.
Via archive.spectator.co.uk to the Spectator of 25 July 1908 p17 a more enthusiastic review by “HS” who considered that the exhibition had more than justified the AAA’s existence.
Both reviews commented that the Royal Albert Hall was not a good place to show art works except in having lots of room and wall-space.
This issue of Automobile Owner... is mostly notable for the amount of space in it given to the Diamond fire extinguisher. Though an article credited to William did discuss an anonymous Eastern potentate who owned two motor boats, one for himself and one for his wives.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 5 July 1908 p198 and passim for the fire extinguisher.
15 JULY 1908
Yet another demonstration of the British Diamond company’s fire extinguisher. This one was organised by the Motor Club and took place during the Club’s day-trip to Hastings.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 6 August 1908 p236-37, with a photo of one of the demos on the Strand. It’s not clear whether William was on the day-trip.
The August issue of Automobile Owner... strayed from its core subject-matter to give the Allied Artists’ Association exhibition some coverage. William was so busy this summer that there was no article credited to him this month.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 6 August 1908.
?8 AUGUST 1908 ??22 AUGUST 1908 (the Automobile Owner... and the Times don’t agree on the date of the race)
An unexpected boost for the British Diamond fire extinguisher came during the One Hour Record Race at the Franco-British Exhibition stadium in Shepherd’s Bush: it put out a fire in C E Bennett’s Mansfield motor cycle so quickly that he was able to get back aboard and carry on driving, coming in second.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 7 September 1908 p272.
From www.open.ac.uk the dates of the Franco-British exhibition which had been in preparation for several years: 26 May to 31 Oct 1908.
Wikipedia on the Franco-British exhibition which was held at the White City site later occupied by the BBC building and a housing estate.
Times Mon 24 August 1908 p11 Automobilism: Motor Cycling at the Stadium, about the motor cycle races held “on Saturday” [22 Aug 1908]. The main race was a one-hour one. The Times mentions a near-collision during the race between C E Bennnett and C R Collier; and that Bennett had to stop at about the 30mile mark because of “faulty contact breaker”; but it didn’t mention his bike catching fire.
Web page www.bennettracing.co.uk is a website prepared by C E Bennett’s son, who remembers the motorbikes in his father’s life. He was Charlie Bennett, known as ‘Wag’. After serving an apprenticeship Charlie went to work for the Mansfield cycle company in Canning Town, where he built his first motorcycle around 1907. He later raced motorcycles at Brooklands and on the Isle of Man.
An anonymous article in this month’s Automobile Owner... reviewed Frank Rutter’s The Path to Paris, suggesting that drivers use it as a handbook when making the trip from Le Havre to Paris. The reviewer knew the writer well enough to say that he was no motorist. William didn’t have any articles credited to him in this issue.
Comment by Sally Davis: William must be the reviewer, surely, neatly combining two of his current preoccupations - art and motoring - and promoting his friend’s new book.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 7 September 1908 p282 for the review; and p258 for a full-page advert for the Diamond dry powder fire extinguisher, with first mention of the firm’s address being 69 Chancery Lane - meaning William was in charge. I wonder what the firm’s original investors thought?
This issue of Automobile Owner... was the first to have a named editor; and it wasn’t William, it was the Viscount Massereene and Ferrard. On the back page of this issue and the next two, the British Diamond fire extinguisher company had a full-page advert. None of the articles this month were credited to William.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 8 October 1908 with the Viscount’s first editorial on p297. The magazine’s offices were still at 69 Chancery Lane; and Polsue Ltd were still its printers.
Comment by Sally Davis: Viscount M and F admitted in this issue that this was his first editorial. Up until September 1908, therefore, someone else had edited Automobile Owner... and though that person remained anonymous throughout, I can’t really think who else it could be but William. Now, though, William had so much else going on in his life - and he was probably already thinking ahead to yet another project - that something had to give. Under the Viscount’s editorship, the magazine went in some new directions, the most obvious being the increased coverage of aeroplanes (William doesn’t seem to have had any interest in planes); and greater use of the editorial and articles for campaigns on behalf of car owners. The editorials also got longer, the Viscount having more leisure time, I daresay.
Viscount M and F was on the advisory council of the ACA and had been promoting the rights of car owners for several years. He and William had things in common other than an interest in cars. They were near contemporaries (Viscount M and F had been born in 1873) and both families were landowners in Ireland, though the Clotworthy Skeffingtons were hugely more wealthy than the Humphrys family. Viscount M and F succeeded to his titles in 1905 and, sitting in the English House of Lords as Baron Oriel, was an opponent of independence for Ireland, a political view that William may have shared. In the 1920s he was an Ulster Unionist senator in the Northern Ireland parliament and got part of his house burned down by the IRA for his pains.
More information on the Clotworthy Skeffington family; and William’s editor who is Algernon William John Clotworthy Skeffington, 12th Viscount Massereene and 5th Viscount Ferrard.
At www.proni.gov.uk the introduction to the Foster Massereene Papers gives a detailed family history; dated November 2007.
Wikipedia has a list of the various holders of the three main family titles. William’s acquaintance - like so many of the other car drivers William knew - was married twice: in 1905 he married Jean Barbara Ainsworth; she died in 1937 and in 1941 he married Florence Clementine Vere-Laurie.
There’s a photo of him with his second wife, taken at the Bassano Ltd studios in 1940:
see www.npg.org.uk NPG X84223.
28 OCTOBER 1908
The ACA held its third annual dinner at the Criterion Restaurant. In his speech as the year’s ACA president, the Earl of Onslow mentioned that the ACA’s turnover in the previous year had been about £100,000. Amongst the other car-owning guests at the dinner, was William’s GD acquaintance, solicitor Percy William Bullock.
Times Fri 30 October 1908 p4.
For the guest-list including William, and Percy Bullock: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 9 November 1908 p354-56, which was uncredited. You didn’t have to be a member of the ACA to attend its annual dinner but I expect Percy was one. Just noting that Percy’s wife Pamela wasn’t with him at the do, although it was not a men-only affair, there are several women in a photograph taken during the evening.
This issue did have an article by William. He discussed the possibility of using liquid air (?) in internal combustion engines, as an alternative to petrol.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 9 November 1908 p352; back page for the British Diamond fire extinguisher advert.
DURING NOVEMBER 1908
As usual, William went with other writers on motoring for a preview tour of the Olympia motor show.
Source: see December 1908.
BY DECEMBER 1908
The ACA management committee had taken on some new members; all men, and most of them senior employees.
Source: see December 1908.
This month’s issue of Automobile Owner... had William’s assessment of the Olympia car show. It also had a new column for women drivers, the reverie of Rosamund.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 10 December 1908. Pp385-88 for William’s reflections on Olympia, with photos. P392 what I think is a first: an article (rather than just photos) on flying planes; focusing on the recent visit to Europe by the Wright brothers. On p393 the Reverie of Rosamund column; still anonymous but definitely by a new writer - it has a more gossipy tone, less coverage of the Ladies’ Automobile Club and more discussion of what women should wear to go motoring while still looking fashionable. I wonder if William was getting anxious about the Automobile Owner...’s finances? - on p394 the magazine offered its list of 15,000 readers to traders. On the back page, the last of three full-page adverts by the British Diamond fire extinguisher company. The advert was the last time the company was even mentioned in the magazine.
THROUGHOUT 1909 and EARLY 1910
There was no coverage whatsoever in Automobile Owner... of any fire extinguisher, dry powder or otherwise. It’s often difficult to spot an absence, but this one really caught the eye after the amount of space given to the British Diamond company’s product during most of 1908. However, the silence was definitely not the result of William no longer being interested; quite the reverse, I’d say.
William had articles on the same subject in the January, February and March issues of Automobile Owner..., looking ahead to a legal case being brought by the Mercedes car company, owner of a patent on a gate change.
Sources: Automobile Owner... volume 3 number 11 January 1909 pp425-26; volume 3 number 12 February 1909 p464 with a reply from Mercedes; and volume 4 number 1 March 1909 pp16-19, declaring that 50,000 motorists would be affected by the outcome of the case; and with many letters on the subject.
DURING MARCH 1909
Though it was rather outside his area of expertise, William went to Olympia to cover an aeroplane show for Automobile Owner....
Source: see April 1909.
PROBABLY 9 MARCH 1909
William was elected a member of the Institute of Journalists.
Comment by Sally Davis: within the Institute’s membership was a large sub-group of people based in London. This group had its own committee and held regular social events: a monthly meeting for example, conversaziones and an annual dinner. The Institute as a whole came together for an annual conference in August of each year.
Source for his membership: Scoop! database, held by the British Library, and based on the Institute of Journalists’ records. The database says that William was a member between 1909 and 1913. However, it doesn’t give the exact date he joined.
Source for the Institute’s social life; I only looked through 1909 but I daresay the events that year were typical of any year up to the first World War:
Times Sat 6 March 1909 p6 a London group conversazione 1430 at the Trocadero.
Times 9 March 1909 p8 a report on the day before’s meeting of the Institute’s London group. 27 new journalists were elected members, including the editors of Punch and The Observer. None were named; however, it’s likely William was one of them.
Times Sat 21 August 1909 p13 announcement of this year’s annual conference, to be held in Plymouth at the end of the month. 300-400 members plus guests would be attending. The announcement mentioned a decision reached at last year’s conference, to provide members with insurance against unemployment.
Times Mon 29 November 1909 p6 Public Dinners, including a short report on the Institute’s annual dinner at the Criterion Restaurant the previous Saturday. William isn’t on the list of named guests, which included the publisher John Murray and the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.
The Times is very well informed about the Institute’s events: I should imagine most of the newspaper’s staff were members.
Automobile Owner... company limited held its AGM. It was still running at a loss and William made up the year’s loss from his own money.
Source for the magazine making a loss: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 9 November 1910 Automobile Owner... v The Motor Trader p273 evidence of William Humphrys.
Comment by Sally Davis: I haven’t got a date for this, but the company’s AGM should have been held on or near the anniversary of its registration.
The ACA held its AGM at the Prince’s Hotel Piccadilly. In his chairman’s speech, de Meray announced that the ACA would be paying a dividend of 15% to its share-holders.
Comment by Sally Davis: a nice wind-fall for William.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 3 May 1909, Supplement pvii. And on pv of the supplement, a report on the ACA’s annual meeting held at the Prince’s Hotel Piccadilly.
William’s report on the Olympia air show included a confession that he didn’t know anything much about aeroplane chassis.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 2 April 1909 pp54-55: Castles in Spain and Motors Not in the Air.
Comment by Sally Davis: just confirming that when engines took to the air, they lost the interest of William Humphrys.
FRIDAY 9 APRIL TO MONDAY 11 APRIL 1909
William went to the Easter race meeting at Brooklands.
Source: see May 1909
William had two credited articles in this month’s Automobile Owner..., both of which involved worries about money. His report on the Brooklands race meeting noted that it had been crucial for the survival of the company that owned the track. And his article on the recent Budget said gloomily that he hadn’t expected car owners to be hit so hard. This issue had a supplement, which William would have had to put together for the printers in addition to preparing the main magazine: coverage of a dinner held in Brussels on 9 March 1909 to launch the International Co-operative Federation of Motorists. Most of the supplement was verbatim reports of the speeches made that evening.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 3 May 1909. Pp100-02 on the Easter race meeting at Brooklands. On p112: the Budget’s consequences for car owners. Supplement pi-vii.
Comments by Sally Davis: William’s suggestions (made in 1908) about taxing vehicles according to their horse power had largely been followed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. However, William thought that the lower horse-power vehicles were going to be charged at too high a rate; and the rise in the price of petrol from 1d to 4d per gallon was far too much, especially in one go.
This month’s supplement illustrates the type of reader Automobile Owner... had: the speeches of those who spoke in French, were printed in French with no English translation. The ICFM was the result of de Meray’s hard work in Europe over the previous year. He attended the dinner and made one of those speeches in French. There was a short list of the most important guests: Sir Wroth Lethbridge was on the list; but William was not and I don’t think he was there.
William had no credited articles in this month’s issue of Automobile Owner....
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 4 June 1909.
23 JUNE 1909
Jules and Mary Ann de Meray gave a reception at their house at 1 Rutland Gate Knightsbridge:300-400 guests were there. The evening included a concert and the display of Solomon Solomon’s portrait of Mme de Meray.
Source: see July 1909 though there was no guest list.
Comment by Sally Davis: unless he had a prior engagement it would have been rather rude of William not to attend this event. And I’m just noting here that of the three men who had run the ACA on their own for a couple of years, Jules de Meray was the only one with a functioning wife! William was a bachelor; and Sir Wroth Lethbridge’s marriage problems must have been well-known to his acquaintances by now.
If William had been a close enough friend of Frank Rutter, he will have been invited to Sussex to be a guest at Frank’s wedding to suffragette Thirsa Sarah Tiernan.
Source: freebmd but without the full date of course.
This issue of Automobile Owner... had an article by William in which he returned to the vexed question of patents, with a legal case involving de Dion-Bouton now pending as well as the earlier one brought by Mercedes.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 5 July 1909. Pp176-77 for William’s article on patents. P182 for the short, uncredited report of the de Merays’ reception, with a photo of the portrait.
William’s credited article in this month’s issue of Automobile Owner... was a cautionary tale about what happened if you didn’t take extreme car buying parts for your car.
Comment by Sally Davis: some time earlier William had been out on one of the group-drives that were so popular, when his car broke down to the extent that even he couldn’t fix it. He could see what was wrong - the coil had broken - but when he took it apart he found that was not at all what it had seemed when he had bought it. It had the name of an English firm on the outside, which he had taken as a guarantee of its quality; but inside it had French-made parts, held together with “the leaves of a French washing book” full of instructions on how to wash ladies’ underwear. What use - he wrote - was that to an English bachelor stranded on the roadside? Accepting defeat, he and his car underwent the ignominy of being towed to a garage by an ancient Panhard. Back in London, he took the offending coil to S J Williams and Co of Shepherd’s Bush and was shown how to make a coil properly.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 6 August 1909 p216
11 AUGUST 1909
Sir Wroth Lethbridge, representing all the directors of the ACA, gave evidence for the ACA in a court case brought by the IAG Syndicate Ltd.
Times Thurs 12 August 1909 p2 Law Reports on cases heard 11 August : IAG Syndicate Ltd v Lethbridge.
Comment by Sally Davis: the issues in the case aren’t important, but that such a case was brought at all illustrates the strong feelings aroused by the ACA in motoring firms; a hostility that William was to regret in 1910. IAG Syndicate Ltd’s case was that ACA should stop referring to itself in such a way that potential customers were confusing it with their firm. Perhaps references to the ACA in Automobile Owner... were amongst the references that IAG Syndicate Ltd considered were detrimental to their business.
William’s article in Automobile Owner... this month was about synthetic rubber and the chances that the use of it would lead to cheaper tyres.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 7 September 1909 pp256-57.
Automobile Owner... published another article in which William assessed the possibility that another fuel might supercede petrol. This time it was a gas made from solid fuel.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 8 October 1909 p300; William means coal gas, I would suppose.
William’s regular preview of the motor show was published in Automobile Owner..., focusing on points potential car buyers should watch out for.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 9 November 1909 pp336-37; with the dates of the exhibition from the back page which had an advertisement for Daimler’s stand at the show.
10 NOVEMBER 1909
The ACA held its fourth annual dinner at the Criterion Restaurant; on the same evening the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders held its annual dinner, and theirs got more coverage in the Times.
Times Thurs 11 November 1909 p10 reports on both dinners. Just noting for future reference that the ACA’s president, making the keynote speech this year, was the barrister Edward Marshall Hall. William was one of the named guests on the partial-list published by the Times.
Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 10 December 1909 pp394-98, including little cartoons of some of the notable guests. An important feature of this year’s dinner was the number of European notables who were present, some of whom gave speeches.
Comment by Sally Davis: two such organisations both holding an important event on the same evening does illustrate the depth of hostility the ACA aroused in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Or did someone in one or other organisation just make a dreadful administrative blunder, picking the same date?
12 to 20 NOVEMBER 1909
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders motor show at Olympia.
Source: see November 1909.
The Automobile Owner...’s report on the motor show was credited to a writer calling him or herself ‘Cynic’. No articles credited to William appeared in this issue.
Source: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 10 December 1909 pp380-81.
Comment by Sally Davis: This was the first time since the magazine had been published that the report had not been credited to William. Either he didn’t write it; or he did write it, but didn’t want his name to be associated with it in public. Not only were relations between the ACA and the Society of Motor Manufacturers very bad; but this year, William had his own reasons for feeling hostile towards them - for more on that, see November 1910.
For Part 3 of this three-part life-by-dates of William Humphrys, return to my GD introduction page.
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. 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 Howe’s 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; 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.
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.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
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: