This is the third and last part of my life-by-dates biography of Golden Dawn member

William Evans Hugh Humphrys. It covers 1910 to 1950.The two earlier parts cover 1876 to end 1906 including his period in the GD and 1907 to end 1909 the period for which there is most evidence and during which he was most busy.

To look at those, return to my GD introduction page and follow the links there.


Three short-forms used a lot in this file are:

1 = ACA.Thatís the Automobile Co-operative Association, formed in 1906 as a joint-stock company and friendly society, to supply its members with cars and car parts at list price.William Humphrys was on its management committee and Automobile Owner... magazine was very closely associated with the ACA.

2 = Automobile Owner....Thatís short for the full title of Williamís magazine: The Automobile Owner and Steam and Electric Car Review.William was a part-owner of the magazine, one of its main creditors, and its managing director between 1907 and mid-1912; he wrote a lot of the articles that were published in it.

3 = Viscount M and F is the Viscount Massereene and Ferrard, editor of Automobile Owner... from late 1908 to mid-1912.For a fuller account of him, see Part 2.††††††††††††††††††††


CONTINUING AT 1910, a year which for William was dominated by court cases.


10000 readers of Automobile Owner... were ACA members.

Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 9 November 1910 Automobile Owner... v The Motor Trader p273.No one was asked to give a figure for the total readership, unfortunately.



The Automobile Owner... had no articles in it which were credited to William.A new, uncredited column started up in the February issue: Law and Locomotion.

Sources: Automobile Owner... volume 4 number 11 January 1910; volume 4 number 12 February 1910 especially p484; and volume 5 number 1 March 1910.Some uncredited articles in these issues do look like his work, the kind of uncredited news items that heíd probably been writing since the magazineís first issue; though I donít think he was writing Law and Locomotion.


MARCH 1910

The price of Automobile Owner... dropped from 3d to 1d per monthly issue.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 1 March 1910, front page.



The ACA held its 4th AGM.In his speech as its chairman, Jules de Meray said that business during 1909 had been twice that of 1908.As a result, the ACA had plenty of capital and also some cash in the bank. William would have been at this meeting though no guest list was published.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 2 April 1910 p48.


APRIL 1910

A new fire extinguisher was advertised in this monthís issue of Automobile Owner... after 15 months in which no fire extinguishers of any kind had had any coverage in the magazine.The new one was made by the Radium Fire Extinguisher Co, of 67 Chancery Lane.Also in this issue was an uncredited article on the companyís product, claiming that its fire-extinguishing powder was 700 times more effective than similar powder-based products; and that (unlike similar products) its powder did not absorb water.

Comment by Sally Davis: for 67-69 Chancery Lane, see the two previous files.On the 1911 census form William said he was the proprietor of a company that made fire extinguishers; and the Radium Fire Extinguisher Co has got to be the one he meant.The British Diamond Fire Extinguisher Co still existed; in 1912 it was re-registered; and it only went into voluntary liquidation in 1928.So Williamís company was making a rival product to the one his magazine had promoted so vigorously in 1908.The existence at the same time of two companies making dry powder fire extinguishers does suggest that the basic formula for the powder wasnít patented.And in fact there was a third company making a similar product, the Kyl-Fyre company of Eastbourne.

Why call it the ĎRadiumí fire extinguisher?Itís most unlikely that the dry powder mixture contained any radium - see wikipedia for why.Radium was new though (discovered 1898), exciting but puzzling; it was news.I think William chose the name with that in mind: Ďradiumí would catch the public eye and stick in the publicís mind.


Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 2 April 1910 p38 for the advert which asserted that one canister of Radium Fire Extinguisher powder could put out flames 30 feet high in 10 seconds.Canisters cost 7/6 each or you could buy 12 for £4.It became clear later on that used canisters could be sent back to the firm to be refilled.†† P43 for the article on the Radium fire extinguisher; which was about a recent demonstration.It mentioned the powderís inventor, a Cambridge University chemistry graduate.The inventor wasnít named but might have been one of Williamís fellow students.I donít think William invented the product himself, though: the article described the man who had invented it as having devoted himself to the study of how to put out fires; which doesnít strike me as a good description of what William had been doing since he graduated.What the powder was made of was not discussed, of course.The only thing the article would say was that it worked by producing a gas which took oxygen out of the nearby air.The Radium fire extinguisherís main claim to fame, according to the article, was its ability to resist water, making the powder more effective and longer-lasting when stored.

Kellyís PO Directory 1911 Trades Directory p1581 fire extinguisher makers has The Radium Fire Extinguisher Ltd at 67-69 Chancery Lane.Itís also there on the street directory p241, together with the firm Automobile Owners (London) Ltd.There must have been a separate depot where

the powder was prepared and the canisters filled and stored; but I havenít found out where it was.


The continued existence of the British Diamond Fire Extinguisher Co Ltd:

Redbooks of the British Fire Prevention Committee volumes 120-129 issued by HMSO 1907 p366 an account of a meeting of the Committee named P E Parr, Robert Paterson CA and Joseph Whaley as representing the British Diamond Fire Extinguisher Co.

Redbooks of the British Fire Prevention Committee volume 127 issued HMSO 1908 p20 the same three men from the firm were at a meeting held on 4 March 1908, around the time of the demonstration to the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Via google a snippet showing several adverts by Automobile Owner...ís insurance business in The Englishman issues 1-22 1908 p39, p63, p111; announcing that you could get a 25% rebate on your insurance payments if you used the British Diamondís fire extinguisherin your car.

Just glancing at to its New Zealand newspaper collection: several references to the diamond dry powder fire extinguisher appeared in papers in November 1908.

This is more problematic: I noticed several references during 1909 to a Diamond Dry Powder Fire Extinguisher Co in publications of the Legislature of the Province of Ontario: was this the British Diamond... company setting up a sep firm to promote and sell its fire extinguisher in Canada?Or is it a Canadian based rival producer?

Website has a booklet publicising the Diamond dry powder fire extinguisher, as supplied to the king (thatís Edward VII).The booklet isnít dated but thereís a list of the firms using the product, with testimonials; including a satisfied letter from Mann and Overtons dated 22 January 1909 and sent to the Manager, British Diamond... at 69 Chancery Lane WC.List of customers pretty impressive.William must be the Manager referred to.


The company appears in a list in Papers by Command House of Commons issued HMSO 1914 volume 79 p104.

London Gazette issue of 6 November 1928 in list of liquidations: the British Diamond Fire Extinguisher Co (1912) Ltd was going into voluntary liquidation.A meeting of shareholders and creditors would be held at 52 Bedford Square on 10 December 1928 at which the liquidator would make his last report and bring the process to an end by getting those present to decide how to dispose of the companyís assets.The Bedford Square address is the office of the liquidator; no address was given for the company which perhaps had not actually been in business for a while.


Did William buy shares in the British Diamond Fire Extinguisher Company in 1908, when its offices moved to that 67-69 Chancery Lane address?He must have done, surely.But then, between the end of 1908 and mid-1910, he upped and got involved with a rival product and set up and invested in a rival firm.Maybe the British Diamond... company didnít much like it when this newcomer started making suggestions about how to improve the product, so he and his fellow Cambridge graduate went off on their own.And after he had started a firm to make a rival product, did William still have shares in British Diamond... in 1912, say, when it was re-registered as a limited company?The records are all thrown away now, so Iíll never know.


On the third dry powder fire extinguisher firm I found from Williamís time, Kyl-Fyre:

Kyl-Fyre is the only one of the three firms to be in Graceís Guide to British Industrial History, see its pages at, by virtue of being listed in Whitakerís Red Book: Whoís Who in Business issue of 1914, which the website uses as a source.You canít see the original text, unfortunately but the firms featured in it are listed by the type of product or work they do.Kyl-Fyre were based at 12 Elms Buildings Eastbourne.They specialised in extinguishers and other fire-fighting equipment for cars.

Seen via google: Kyl-Fyre make fire blankets too.

The earliest mention of Kyl-Fyreís dry powder product that I could find was in the Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene volumes 12-13 1909 p297 issue of 1 October 1909: coverage of a demo.

I saw it mentioned in The Spectator volume 115 1915 p412 with the firm claiming their product was the ďoriginal dry powder extinguisherĒ.

The ACA promoted Kyl-Fyre but not the other two products: Automobile Co-operative Association Review, beginning with issue number 7, December 1911 (p17) and continuing to its last issue, of October 1912 (p33).It suggests to me that the ACA had done a deal with Kyl-Fyre to be the only dry powder fire extinguisher supplied to its members; perhaps because unlike the other two firms, Kyl-Fyre also made other fire-extinguishing products.I wonder how William felt about that?


Finally, just confirming that in the midst of all this hubbub over a different company, that Automobile Owner... magazine was still being run from 67-69 Chancery Lane, and William was still in charge of monthly production.


Frank Rutter found Williamís involvement with fire extinguishers completely mystifying!Source: Since I was Twenty-Five by Frank Rutter.London: Constable and Co Ltd 1927: p54.



The Radium Fire Extinguisher Co and its fire extinguisher were mentioned in every issue of Automobile Owner....Most issues had a full-page advert; but there were also small news items about the product, and mentions of it in some editorials.

Sources: see rest of 1910 below.

Comment by Sally Davis: perhaps the Viscount Massereene and Ferrard had invested in Williamís company.


APRIL 1910

The Motor Trades Association was founded by the main car manufacturers to stop the ACA and other organisations like it setting up deals to get discounts for their members.

Times Mon 18 April 1910 p12.


30 APRIL 1910

Automobile Owner... v The Long Acre Autocar Company was heard at Westminster County Court.Jules de Meray gave evidence; and probably William too.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 4 June 1910 p114, an uncredited account of the trial.

Comment by Sally Davis: the relationship between Automobile Owner... and the ACA had always been very close and Automobile Owner... was widely seen as the publishing arm of the ACA.The Long Acre Autocar Company Ltd had bought some advertising space in Automobile Owner... on the understanding that doing so would commit the ACA to buying 10 of its cars.When the ACA didnít buy any cars from them, they refused to pay the bill for the adverts.So William sued them, possibly on the advice of Jules de Meray whose barrister was anxious to emphasise the harm done to the ACA by the case.The Judge decided that The Long Acre Autocar Co must pay up because ACA and Automobile Owner... were independent organisations.However, the idea that they were essentially the same thing wasnít that easily killed off.


MAY 1910

A series of full-page adverts for the Radium Fire Extinguisher began inside Automobile Owner...William hadnít had time to write any credited articles for this issue.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 3 May 1910 p76.


JUNE 1910

A small paragraph appeared in Automobile Owner..., inserted at the request of the Radium Fire Extinguisher company, denouncing rival powders which used sand, oxide of iron or ashes in their mixture, none of which resisted water.This was another issue which didnít have an article credited to William.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 4 June 1910 p115.


22 JUNE 1910

The Radium Fire Extinguisher Co Ltd staged a demonstration chimney fire on the Strand near the Aldwych.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 5 July 1910 p135.


JULY 1910

William was back writing for Automobile Owner..., arguing on behalf of owners of steam cars against the yearís change to the way motor tax was assessed, saying that it penalised steam in favour of internal combustion engines.In subsequent issues, there were other articles and letters on this theme; the beginnings of a campaign.This issue and the next few all had a full-page advert for the Radium fire extinguisher on the coveted back page.Viscount Massereene and Ferrardís editorial mentioned the Radium fire extinguisher as the only one capable of putting out a petrol fire.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 5 July 1910.Pp140-41 for Williamís article: New Motor Taxation.The Injustice to Steam.How Owners Should Act.For the editorial comment p135.


12 JULY 1910

Williamís acquaintance from Cambridge University days, Charles Stewart Rolls, died of head injuries when his aeroplane fell out of the sky at the Southbourne Aerodrome in Bournemouth.

Source for the death: Times Thursday 14 July 1910 p4 - short report on the inquest.

Comment by Sally Davis: Rollsí death - one of the first in a flying accident - received a great deal of press coverage; as did his funeral, at his parentsí home at Llangattock; and the memorial service at St James Piccadilly, both of which took place on Saturday 16 July.†† The Times reports on these had comprehensive guest-lists but I couldnít see William on either of them.Williamís 1907 interviewee for Automobile Owner..., Mrs Assheton Harbord, and her husband, were amongst those sending a wreath to the funeral.

Times Monday 18 July 1910 p13.



An article by Viscount Massereene and Ferrard was printed - a rarity, as he usually stuck to just being the editor.It published a letter he had sent to the Treasury about the taxing of steam cars.There was no article credited to William in this issue.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 6 August 1910 p171; on p179 a lot of aggrieved letters on the subject were printed.



No articles credited to William appeared in this issue but there was a review of GD member Florence Farrís book Modern Woman.Her Intentions.The back-page advert for the Radium fire extinguisher had been altered to feature the demo of June; and there was first mention of a publicity booklet for it.A new series began: Confessions of a Motor Trader.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 7 September 1910 p213 the review of Florence Farrís book was uncredited but I canít imagine who else but William could have written it. I havenít found a copy of the publicity booklet issued by the Radium Fire Extinguisher Co Ltd but I daresay it looks very like the one issued for the British Diamond... company when William was manager of it.



The Radium fire extinguisher was demonstrated to a group of potential and actual customers, by the Thames at Millbank.

Source: Automobile Owner...volume 5 number 10 December 1910 p292.



The campaign against the new motor tax continued in Automobile Owner... but mostly through articles and comment by Viscount Massereene and Ferrard; once again William had no articles credited to him in this monthís magazine.Radium Fire Extinguisher Co Ltdís full-page advert was back on the inside pages of the magazine.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 8 October 1910 p236.



Automobile Owner... v The Motor Trader reached court.William was suing the trade magazine for libel.ACA member Edward Marshall Hall was the other sideís main barrister in the case.Williamís magazine lost.

Sources: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 9 November 1910 pp270-77.The main witness for Automobile Owner...ís side of the argument was William himself.George Polsue gave evidence about the take-over of the previous magazine.Robert George Whitcombe, company secretary of the ACA, spoke about the editorial independence of Automobile Owner...And Harry Edward Morris confirmed that despite having no connection with the ACA, his firm had been given coverage by Automobile Owner... and had been able to advertise in it.


For Edward Marshall Hall see his wikipedia page.He must have cost a lot to hire!Though he was not yet as famous as he was to become.

Comment by Sally Davis.The case was about words published in an issue of The Motor Trader as long ago as January 1908.Judge Ridley decided that the article that had worried William so much contained neither a special nor a general libel; and even William had been obliged to admit when heíd been giving evidence, that what heíd taken exception to in the article was insinuation and innuendo, not insult in so many words.The usual procedure in this kind of case was that the losing side should pay both sidesí costs; serious money for Automobile Owner... which William might have paid up out of his own funds.The great thing about the case from my point of view

was that it all hinged on how independent, financially and otherwise, the magazine was from the motoristsí association.So a lot of financial and legal information came out in the evidence that I could never have found anywhere else.



Williamís yearly preview of the motor show at Olympia was published in the Automobile Owner... but most of the issue was taken up with a verbatim report ofAutomobile Owner... v The Motor Trader.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 9 November 1910 pp267-69 for the preview of Olympia.And pp270-77 for coverage of the libel case.On p263 the issueís advert for the Radium fire extinguisher had a photo of a motor cycle burning after an accident on the Brooklands race track.The fire had been put out using the ďnew Radium methodĒ.



After several months in which individuals had lobbied the Government about its heavy taxation of steam cars, the idea of forming an official pressure group began to surface.In this monthís issue of Automobile Owner...,William published his usual article summing up the Olympia motor show.And the full-page advert for the Radium fire extinguisher featured the September demo at Millbank.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 10 December 1910 p293 in Viscount Massereene and Ferrardís editorial; and volume 6 number 2 April 1911 p57.



During which, some outcomes of the recent libel case began to affect Automobile Owner...ís financial position.


With the court case over, William was able to go back to writing regularly for his motoring magazine.This month he wrote about how to make solid petrol.The Radium fire extinguisher was advertised on the back page of this issue; and all subsequent issues this year; with references to users such as electrical companies, railway companies and the tube.This yearís Automobile Ownerís Chauffeurís Blue Book had gone on sale.

Source: The Automobile Owner and Steam and Electric Car Review (just reminding readers of the magazineís full name) volume 5 number 11 January 1911.On p329 Williamís Solid Petrol and How to Make It (which sounds very dangerous).Advert for the Blue Book: inside the back page.



In this monthís issue of Automobile Owner... William wrote a short follow-up to the previous monthís recipe for making solid petrol.He also considered whether nitrogen could be used to power cars; his conclusion was that it couldnít be (it certainly hasnít been).And he also wrote his assessment of the most notable cars likely to be produced this year.There was an advert for the new steam car pressure group, the Steam Car League; and also an article on it, uncredited but likely to be by William as he was its honorary secretary, to Viscount Massereene and Ferrard and Sir Charles Knox as its vice-presidents.The back-page advert for the Radium Fire Extinguisher Company listed some of its users for the first time and they were an impressive bunch: the War Office; Vickers Sons and Maxim; St Thomasís Hospital; City and South London Railway; the London General Omnibus Co; and the London County Council whom William must have poached from a rival as they had previously been customers of the British Diamond fire extinguisher company.

Comment by Sally Davis: I might be making too much of this, but on this monthís back page the Radium fire extinguisher companyís address had changed from 67 Chancery Lane to 67a.Perhaps William had decided to rent another room in the building for his multi-farious business concerns.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 5 number 12 February 1911 pp360-61 for nitrogen powered cars; p367 for the follow-up on solid-state petrol; pp378-379 for the Steam Car League. Those who paid their 5 shillings to join the Steam Car League would receive one yearís-worth of issues of Automobile Owner... as part of their membership.Back page for the list of firms using the Radium fire extinguisher.


MARCH 1911

As part of its promotion of the Steam Car League, in this monthís issue Automobile Owner William returned to the question of how the Government taxed motorists.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 6 number 1 March 1911 pp8-11.


22 MARCH 1911

A group of steam car owners crowded into Williamís rooms in 69 Chancery Lane to attend the first formal meeting of the Steam Car League.William described himself as an ardent believer in steam, when he gave the talk explaining the Leagueís aims.William became the Leagueís honorary secretary.

Comment by Sally Davis: just noting that a few of the Leagueís founding members were women.There were no women on its committee but that was usual in this kind of group at that time.

Source: Automobile Owner volume 6 number 2 April 1911 p57.



On the day of the 1911 census, William was living in two habitable rooms at 67 Chancery Lane.He was the only person in that household.His sources of income were: as a journalist on a monthly motor magazine; and as a manufacturer of fire extinguishers.He didnít give a name to either the magazine or the fire extinguisher but their details both appear in Kellyís PO Directory.In both cases he was an employer of others, not an employee; and he worked at home.


1911 census data.Just noting that he was the only member of his immediate family who was in England on that day.I presume his parents (both still alive) were in Ireland.

Kellyís PO Directory 1911 street directory p241 listing for 67-69 Chancery Lane which begins with the Allied Artistsí Association; and also has the Automobile Owners (London) Ltd; and the Radium Fire Extinguisher Ltd.William Humphrys is also listed separately from all those.

Comment by Sally Davis: I havenít been able to discover how long William had been living on top of his work in this way.Perhaps he had been there since 1907 when heíd taken over George Polsueís magazine.I canít shake off the feeling that it might have been a temporary arrangement, though; and after losing the case against The Motor Magazine he might have decided to doss in his office rather than continue to pay two sets of rent.


Perhaps here is as good a place as any to put in what little information Iíve been able to find on Williamís younger brothers Julian and Hugh:

Julian Shirley Lombe Humphrys.

While checking him out Familysearch I saw a lot of references to arrivals by sea at New York City and other ports; and eventually he took up permanent residence in the USA:

Familysearch had a marriage registration for him: on 18 March 1930 in Manhattan, he married a widow, Ethel Tod McBride.

US Census 1940 Digital Folder 005456307; Julian appears on it in a household in Pasadena California.His wife wasnít with him.

Although he seems rather old to have been called up, Familysearch had a draft registration for him, dated 1942 in New York City.This gave his full date and place of birth: 6 June 1882 in East Dereham Norfolk.

I wasnít able to find, from any of those sources, what if anything Julian did for a living.


Hugh Everard Humphrys was in the army for a while before emigrating to New Zealand.He has descendants there:

He appears on the 1901 census as a pupil at Oundle School.Dublin University Calendar volume 2 1907; Hugh was an undergraduate there: p18 and p94.

Times Sat 16 June 1906 p13 quoting the London Gazette of 15 June 1906: Lt H E Humphrys had been appointed Instructor in Musketry in the Royal Canadians Regiment.

Times Sat 22 August 1908 quoting London Gazette 21 August 1908: Lt H E Humphrys had been promoted to Captain.

Although I searched the Times for several years after 1908 I didnít find anything more about Hugh Humphrys in it.

Via evidence that Hugh was living in New Zealand in 1916, and had married.His war service number was 22538 and he served with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.He left New Zealand with the NZ expeditionary force in August 1916 and survived the fighting. His pre-war occupation was given as farmer.

Use google to find evidence that he returned to New Zealand after the war and was still living there several decades later.



APRIL 1911

For the rest of 1911, Automobile Owner... carried full-page adverts for the new Steam Car League.As the Leagueís hon sec William probably wrote the uncredited report on its meeting of 22 March.He also had a credited article, mostly photographs, describing the amenities of the Royal Automobile Clubís new headquarters.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 6 number 2 April 1911.Pp45-46 for Williamís report on the new RAC building; pp56-57 for the Steam Car League.


28 APRIL 1911

The divorce proceedings between Sir Wroth P C Lethbridge and his wife Alianore reached court.She brought the petition, on grounds of desertion and adultery which he did not contest.The divorce was granted.

Comment by Sally Davis: Iím not sure how far a divorce would have hampered Sir Wroth Lethbridgeís social career; it certainly will have hampered his wifeís, even though she was acting the injured party role in the case.I do wonder whether the Steam Car League might have decided against having Sir Wroth too obviously involved; and in any case, the costs of a divorce case were only one of Sir Wrothís problems at the time and he may have had little time to spare for worrying about the taxation of cars.Later in 1911 he more or less confirmed his wifeís allegations by marrying Kathleen OíHara, possibly the woman heíd been spotted with in a hotel in Hamburg during 1909.

Times Fri 28 April 1911 p3

See for the marriage of Wroth Lethbridge to Alianore Chandos-Pole.They had three children.


MAY 1911

The Automobile Co-operative Association published the first issue of its Review.Its editorial thanked Automobile Owner... for its support in the past; but declared that it was time that the ACA published its own magazine, which members could use as a forum.

Source: Automobile Co-operative Association Review issue 1 May 1911; p3 for the editorial.One copy of the new magazine was sent to Ham House where the Earl of Dysart was a member of the ACA despite being unable to drive (he was blind).The Earl was the employer of GD member Wilfred Praeger.See - records of the Tollemache family.

Comment by Sally Davis: William was still a member of the ACAís management committee but the decision to start the ACAís own magazine canít have been one he welcomed from a financial point of view.It certainly showed the motoring world that the ACA was not the same entity as the Automobile Owner.. magazine, after the libel case of November 1910; which was presumably what the ACA wanted.It also meant that Automobile Owner... could no longer rely on the ACA for quite so much advertising and copy as the ACA had paid for in the past.Since the management committee had been expanded to include several senior ACA employees, the influence William had had before had been watered down.The ACA Review was trying to be different from Automobile Owner... - it had adverts for products not directly concerned with motoring, for example - cigarettes, luggage.It was printed on cheap paper and had very few photos, at least to start with; and it was not printed by Polsue Limited which printed the Automobile Owner...And it never had an advert for the Radium fire extinguisher; I suppose William wouldnít or couldnít pay for one.


MAY 1911

There was no article by William in this monthís issue of Automobile Owner...

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 6 number 3 May 1911.



During the year, the ACA moved further away from its original focus on motoring.By December 1911 it had set up ACA (Auxiliary Supply) Co Ltd, which sold household goods and gardening equipment on the basis of the same kind of deal with suppliers that the ACA had had with cars and car product makers.The ACA also added a fire extinguisher firm to its sales base: Kyl-Fyre of Eastbourne, whose dry powder fire extinguisher was a direct rival to Williamís Radium fire extinguisher.

Sources: Automobile Co-operative Association Review issues 1-7, May-December 1911.



Automobile Owner... magazine wasnít issued at all.During this time William abandoned Polsue Ltd and went to a new firm of printers.

Source for the new printers: Automobile Owner... volume 7 number 1 August 1911 back page: The Chancery Lane Press (Bonner and Co) 1-3 Rolls Passage Chancery Lane.

Comment by Sally Davis: the libel case decision and its consequences were beginning to bite Automobile Owner... hard.And I donít know where the new printing deal left George Polsue - head of the jettisoned printing firm while also being a shareholder in and possibly a creditor of Automobile Owner...Perhaps William bought Polsueís shares.



Williamís magazine reappeared after its two-month absence.Williamís article in this issue was about a new lighting system for cars.

Comment by Sally Davis: some things hadnít changed when Williamís magazine reappeared after its unannounced two-month absence. It still had its original title: The Automobile Owner and Steam and Electric Car Review.It was still being edited by Viscount Massereene and Ferrard, it was still being run from 67-69 Chancery Lane, and William was still writing regularly for it.But after the two-month hiatus, the magazine had started with a new volume number, as well as new printers, and the quality of paper was noticeably lower from now on.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 7 number 1 August 1911. Pp10-11 for Williamís article.



William Humphrys married Jessie Alice Holliday at Holy Trinity Kingsway London WC.

Source: freebmd but also Times Fri 1 September 1911 p1a for the venue; though it didnít give the date of the marriage.

Comment by Sally Davis: William Humphrys, his solicitor acquaintance Eliott C Gray, and his wife Jessie, all had one thing in common: a father who was a Church of England clergyman.But the ways and places in which the three of them grew up illustrate just how much difference there could be between one career in the established church, and another.


Jessie Hollidayís father Ezra was the son of a working man, William Holliday, who was employed as a labourer in an iron works in the Wisbey district, later absorbed into Bradford Yorkshire.By 1861 Ezraís sister Alice, 14, was working as a worsted spinner; his brother Nathaniel who was only 10 was working at a coal mine (though not, presumably, at the pit face); and Ezra (aged 16) was clawing his way out of this grim background by way of being an apprentice teacher in a National School.Ezra married Margaret Alice Stephenson in 1869 when he had left Bradford for a job at Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire; Iím presuming he was still a teacher at this time.Ezra and Margaret had four children: Margaret; Jessie; Clara Annie: and James Harry.Jessie was born in 1875, so she was a little older than William Humphrys.Ezra Holliday never went to university but there were some rather limited ways in which a non-graduate could follow a Church of England vocation, and (though I havenít been able to find out the details) Ezra must have taken advantage of one of those ways: he was ordained as a curate in 1878 and as a priest in 1880.After two short periods spent as a curate, at Linthwaite in Yorkshire; and at Rawtenstall in Lancashire, where he founded a day-school, in 1883 he was appointed vicar of Dale Head, Clitheroe.In 1886 he was moved on to become vicar of Cloughfold in Manchester where he stayed until being promoted to be rector of St Lukeís Miles Platting Manchester.He died in December 1903, still only in his 50s.


I find it a curious feature of the Holliday family that in 1911, Jessie, her mother, and her unmarried sister Margaret could all claim to be living off private means - it niggles at me that I donít know where the private means might be coming from, in a family with such a modest social background.On the day of the 1911 census the two Margarets (mother and daughter) had moved to the Fairhaven district of Lytham and could afford, between them, to employ the one basic general servant.Clara Annie had married Rev Charles Paul Keeling in 1903; they were living with their three sons at Todmorden, where he was the vicar.James Harry had qualified as a civil engineer in 1898; I couldnít find him on the 1911 census so he may already have moved to Canada, where he died in 1929.Perhaps Jessie was the most adventurous of the Holliday daughters.She was living in London on census day 1911, lodging in the boarding house run by William Henry Warren at 45-46 Guilford Street Bloomsbury, only a short walk from Chancery Lane.


How did Jessie and William meet? - two single people living very near each other in London but from such radically different backgrounds?Mr Warrenís lodgers at 45-46 Guilford Street were a diverse bunch which included some actors - perhaps the actors were friends of William.Or did Jessie work as a volunteer somewhere in London? - for the WSPU, like Frank Rutterís wife Thirsa?Or even the Allied Artistsí Association? - I imagine that in the weeks before its annual exhibition, the AAA needed all the volunteers it could get.Or did William and Jessie just meet in a local cafť where both of them regularly ate lunch?Weíll never know; but meet they did.


Despite the problems Automobile Owner... was having, Williamís income from other sources must have been good, because at some point between 1911 and 1916 he and Jessie moved out of London, to Hendon; and the most likely time for a clean break like that is immediately after their marriage.When they moved there, Hendon was a rather isolated area, with poor public transport links, on the very far outskirts of London, but William at least is likely to have known it and perhaps visited it, as the site of several car factories and a couple of airfields.Hendon had been popular since the Middle Ages as a place for London residents to spend the summer, and there were plenty of villas to rent, often standing in large gardens.William and Jessie moved into Cranbourne Lodge, one of a group of houses built in the 1820s (all since demolished).In 1908 barrister Ernest Bevir and his family had been living in it; but by census day 1911 they had moved to another house in Hendon.Perhaps Cranbourne Lodge had been empty for a few months when William and Jessie moved in.


Sources for the Holliday family:

Familysearch England-EASy GS film number 1470816 for the marriage of Ezra Holliday to Margaret Alice Stephenson 21 September 1869 at Oswaldtwistle Lancs.

At a history of Rawtenstall.

Crockfordís Clerical Directory 1886 p579.

Crockfordís Clerical Directory 1901 p666.

Probate Registry 1904, 1919, 1939.

For James Harry: Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers volume 131 issued 1898 p270.

Source for Hendon:

Middlesex volume V in the Victoria History of the Counties of England series.Published Oxford University Press and the Institute of Historical Research University of London; 1976: pp3-28.Cranbourne Lodge is not mentioned by name in this account; neither is the house that Ernest and Ellen Bevir were living in in 1911.I conclude that neither house was very big, or of any particular architectural or historical importance.

Cranbourne Lodge:

Gentlemanís Magazine 1825 shows that it was already in existence at that date.

Royal Blue Book issue of 1908 p642 has barrister Ernest Bevir, living at the address.††

Seen via google: a house called Cranbourne Lodge with the address 1 Cranbourne Gardens NW11.From its photograph, the house doesnít look like something built in the 1820s, more like a house built with the rest of the Gardens, in the late 1920s.



William did manage to prepare an article for this monthís Automobile Owner....He began a two-part series on a problem his readers will have been all-too-familiar with - how to start an uncooperative engine.The second part appeared in the October issue.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 7 number 2 September 1911 pp32-33; and volume 7 number 3 October 1911 pp56-67.



There was a large exhibition at Olympia of the latest developments in electricity supply.Some at least of the exhibitors had been given Radium fire extinguishers to display on their stalls.

Source for the dates and exhibitors: Times Monday 25 September 1911 p4 Electrical Science and Industry.The report mentioned that both Marconi and Edisonís firms would be exhibiting; and that visitors would also be able to examine the first ever storage battery to go on public display.The Times had produced a supplement to go with the exhibition, focusing on telephone and telegraphic equipment.

Source for Radium Fire Extinguisher Coís involvement: Gas Journal volumes 115-116 1911 p61.Comment by Sally Davis: my science advisor, Roger Wright, tells me that a powder fire extinguisher would be particularly good at putting out electrical fires.Given Radium Fire Extinguisherís involvement - which presumably William had negotiated - and the work he was doing around the first World War, Iíd be surprised if William stayed away from this exhibition.The Times felt a visit to it was a must for anyone working in the industry or excited about the latest technologies.



In this issue of Automobile Owner William did his customary preview of the Olympia motor show.The full-page advert for the Radium fire extinguisher added some new customer names for its list: the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary; Great Western Railway; Great Northern Railway; Great Eastern Railway; and the Metropolitan Railway in London.

Source: Automobile Owner...volume 7 number 4 November 1911 pp80-81 and back page.



William must have bought some shares in the Automobile Co-operative Associationís new venture, the ACA (Auxiliary Supply) Co Ltd; because he had been elected onto its board of directors.He was also on its management committee which was essentially the same men as were on the ACAís management committee.

Comment by Sally Davis: surely it must have been rather galling for William to find his own Radium fire extinguisher being ignored by the ACA in favour of its Kyl-Fyre rival.In this monthís ACA Review there was an article praising it.

Source: Automobile Co-operative Association Review issue no 7, December 1911, back page and p17.



Williamís article in this monthís Automobile Owner... reported on the general feeling of discontent amongst car owners at the lack of cars for sale at the Olympia show.

Comment by Sally Davis: the UK was actually in the middle of an economic slump at this time; obviously car owners werenít feeling it as much as car manufacturers.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 7 number 5 December 1911 pp104-105.




The British Diamond fire extinguisher company may have been re-registered at Companies House.

Source: London Gazette issue of 6 November 1928 the British Diamond (1912) is in list of liquidations.

And just confirming the continued existence of the Radium Fire Extinguisher Co:

The Railway News volume 98 1912 pv it was in a list of 4 firms making ďfire appliancesĒ; the British Diamond company was not in the list, perhaps because it didnít pay to be listed; or because it didnít happen to have any railway companies its customers.

Comment by Sally Davis: itís been impossible to discover whether William still had anything to do with the British Diamond fire extinguisher company.This whole business of why William should be involved with two rival fire extinguisher companies is very puzzling.



Frank Rutter got a job as curator of Leeds City art gallery.He and his wife Thirsa left London.As part of the move, Frank resigned from his job as secretary of the Allied Artistsí Association, where heíd been responsible for organising its yearly exhibitions.

Since I was Twenty-Five by Frank Rutter.London: Constable and Co Ltd 1927 p193 for his resignation.

Wikipedia for the new job in Leeds.


3 JANUARY 1912

An insurance company staged a demonstration of the Radium Fire Extinguisher companyís fire extinguisher on waste ground near Lambeth Bridge.

Source: Automobile Owner... pp132-33 and p131 for a full-page advert with Ďsatisfied customerí letters as well as a full-page advert on the back page.The insurance companyís representatives built a wooden shed, filled it with inflammables of all sorts, dowsed it all with petrol and set it alight.Although employees of the Radium firm had offered to do the work of putting the fire out, the insurance company preferred to ask a youth from the crowd to do it, which he did very quickly, using only two canisters.



Automobile Owner... magazine cut its price to 1d per issue.Williamís article was on what was likely to go wrong with a carburettor.There was a report on the Chancellor of the Exchequerís committee of enquiry into car taxation; it was uncredited and I think that Viscount M and F was its most likely author.

Source: Automobile Owner.. volume 7 number 6 January 1912 pp128-29 for William on carburettors; p136 for the Committee of Enquiry article which encouraged readers to join the Steam Car League.



There was no issue of the Automobile Owner... this month.


MARCH 1912

Automobile Owner... was published again and William began a series called Motoring for the Beginner; which continued until July and would have gone on longer but July 1912 was the last issue of the magazine.In his first article for the series, William considered Cost.There was a small item reminding Steam Car League members that their subscriptions for 1912 were due; uncredited but must be by William, still the Leagueís honorary secretary.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 7 number 7 March 1912 pp152-53 Motoring for Beginners; 162.


APRIL 1912

Williamís article in the Motoring for the Beginner series was a very detailed comparison of car insurance policies.He mentioned in passing how often cars caught fire after a collision.This month he had a second article printed, in which he called for a Government effort to secure a home-based supply of oil; suggesting benzol as a good one.

Comment by Sally Davis: the fighting in north Africa had got William worrying about security of oil supplies - he mentioned in his visionary article that oil-fuelled aeroplanes were being used to bomb Tripoli.The Government didnít heed William, and chose another route to secure supplies - meddling in the Middle East; the consequences of which we live with, daily.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 7 number 8 April 1912 pp176-78 for Motoring for the Beginner; and p179 for William on security of oil supplies.Radium Fire Extinguisher Co still had its advert on the back page but there was no coverage of it inside, in this and the last two issues.


MAY 1912

Williamís Motoring for the Beginner series considered which car was the most reliable for a first-time buyer and simplest for them to repair when necessary.Even many years after he had probably ceased to drive them, William unhesitatingly recommended the De Dion-Bouton.

Source: Automobile Owner... volume 7 number 9 May 1912 pp195-96.


JUNE 1912

For the second time that year, there was no issue of Automobile Owner... in June.


JULY 1912

Automobile Owner Steam and Electric Car Review was published for the last time.Williamís article in the Motoring for the Beginner series was on Maintenance.He stressed the importance of the owner knowing more about maintenance than the chauffeur, if they employed one; if your chauffeur knew more than you, it would lead to unnecessarily high bills.He also advocated the Ďlittle and oftení approach to keeping the bodywork and engine clean.This neednít mean getting messy yourself: William explained that he didnít employ a chauffeur, but he didnít clean his car himself either.

Comment by Sally Davis: now William was married and living in a large house in the suburbs, I imagine he employed a handyman to do things like cleaning the car.As for the end of Automobile Owner... I canít believe it came as such a surprise to its producers; but there was no indication at all in the July 1912 issue that it would be the last - not one word.Quite the opposite: William had promised that his Motoring for the Beginner series would have an article on tyres; but in July 1912 the series hadnít got as far as that.On p217 there was even an advert for Automobile Owner...ís insurance service.How long did that carry on for, I wonder, without the magazine?


Source: Automobile Owner Steam and Electric Car Review volume 7 number 10 July 1912.On pp211-12 Motoring for the Beginner.On the back page was the usual full-page advert for the Radium fire extinguisher.And inside the back page there was the usual full-page advert for the Steam Car League, with William still as its honorary secretary.



The Automobile Co-operative Association Review also published its last ever copy; again with no indication that no more issues would be printed.

Source: ACA Review issue 15 October 1912.

Comment by Sally Davis: Automobile Owner... had its own problems, and perhaps so did ACA Review.But the magazine, Motor Car Journal, which was published by Cordingley and Co, also printed its last issue in 1912.The earliest years of the 20th century had seen a huge boom in motoring and the motoring industry; this was followed by a decline - a relative one only, but people are so quick to get used to Ďboomí as the norm!

Source for the relative slump: The Transport Revolution 1770-1985 by Philip Bagwell.Routledge 2002 p30.


Comments by Sally Davis: how much influence did William Humphrys have on the sudden cessation of two magazines he was associated with?He might not have much say at ACA Review but he was still Automobile Owner..ís managing director.However, he was also very likely its major creditor, still, and perhaps this tipped the balance.I havenít found any evidence that the magazine went bankrupt or even into voluntary liquidation; the company was wound up (I donít know when) with less hubbub than that.But I doubt if William came out ahead; and he lost a regular advertising outlet for his fire extinguisher firm.


And with Automobile Owner...ís demise I lose my most exhaustive source for Williamís life.After World War 1, 100-year rules, copyright issues and the way the electoral roll had been organised and kept, mean that there are fewer sources anyway.So my evidence for the rest of Williamís life - nearly 40 years of it - is pretty threadbare and tends to feature death far more than it ought.


ANOTHER DATE DIFFICULT TO ASCERTAIN but probably after William and Jessie moved to Hendon

William began to investigate electricity and wireless, particularly valves.

Source: see June 1914.

Comment by Sally Davis: I rather suppose that William didnít have any room for this kind of research until he was living at Cranbourne Lodge.It was probably while doing this research that he began to see himself as an engineer rather than as a journalist; though he still had the entrepreneurial touch and still wrote articles for magazines from time to time.


1913, which involved further cutting of the old cords that had bound together Williamís working life during the 1900s; and saw him embarking on a new phase of his life.



The Institute of Journalists seem to have lost sight of William, suggesting that he stopped being a member.

Source: Scoop! Database at the British Library.



The ACAís offices were shaken by accusations of financial irregularities; ending with theprosecution of two senior employees

Source: Times Fri 22 August 1913 p6.

Comment by Sally Davis: as William was still a member of the ACAís management committee, this crisis will have landed in his lap as well as in the laps of others.One of the men suspected had joined the management committee recently; presumably William had taken part in the recruitment process that had ended with his being offered the job.The decision to bring the police into the matter will also have been one that William helped to make.



At the annual meeting of the Allied Artistsí Association, William, and his solicitor acquaintance Eliott Gray, were voted off its management committee.

Since I was Twenty-Five by Frank Rutter.London: Constable and Co Ltd 1927: p195.Frank doesnít name the ďtwo old friendsĒ, ďbusiness menĒ who were dumped from the committee, but William, and Eliott Gray, must be the people he means.


JULY 1913

The London Wireless Club was founded in West Hampstead, as a forum for amateur wireless enthusiasts.In 1922 it changed its name to the Radio Society of Great Britain and at least in 1924, William seems to have been a member.

Source for the founding of the club: wikipedia.The Society still exists - see its website at



The prosecution of ACA employees Robert George Whitcomb or Whitcombe, and Henry Evans Walmsley, for embezzlement reached court.†† Court proceedings went on from time to time for the next three months.

Sources: Times Fri 22 August 1913 p6 and 27 November 1913 p14.The reports are very short items.They donít give any detail of the cases and they donít name any witnesses.Exactly what the cases were against the two men is not clear.



All the charges against the ACAís Whitcomb or Whitcombe and Walmsley were dropped for lack of evidence.

Times 27 November 1913 p14.

Comment by Sally Davis: so the trial petered out with neither man found either guilty or innocent - the most unsatisfactory result that could have been imagined, for all concerned.I presume neither man was still working for the ACA.It all gives me the impression of an organisation that had most decidedly lost the plot, for which William had to bear his share of the blame.The ACA did survive this calamity and the unwelcome publicity, however, and still existed during the first World War.



14 JUNE 1914

William made the first of two applications to the British Government for a patent on a new design of thermionic valve (a piece of equipment known in the USA as a vacuum tube).

Source: via, to the Espacenet database of past patent applications, which contains 7 made by William.See GB221571 (A) which includes a short abstract and a diagram.The patent was granted and until it ran out, William would have had an income from anyone using his design in their equipment.



What William did during the war is almost a complete mystery.

Comment by Sally Davis: if William volunteered or was conscripted, he did not fight - the records of serving soldiers in World War 1 are well-covered on the web and William isnít in them.Itís possible that he volunteered or was called up, but failed his medical.Given his expertise and experience, he would have been wasted in the trenches anyway.I canít quite see him standing aside and letting the war go on without him.Roger Wright and I have talked it over and we agree that William did do war work of some kind; but that either it was a secret, or the records of it have been lost, or both.


One thing William might well have been doing is using his wireless equipment to intercept messages being sent by the German army in Flanders.At the beginning of the war, many members of the Radio Society of Great Britain were recruited into MI8's branch, the Radio Security Service, to use their home-built equipment to listen in to enemy transmissions.See 1924 for some evidence that William was a member of the Society, at least during that year.

Sources are rather hard to find for this kind of work during World War 1: World War 2 is far better covered.But see the wikipedia pages on MI8 and on Radio Society of Great Britain for brief mentions of it.



While still living in Leeds, Frank Rutter took over control of the Allied Artistsí Association again.

Source: Frankís biography in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography volume 48 p421 although the AAA, like every other such organisation, was in all-but-abeyance for the duration of the war. William and Eliott Gray are not mentioned in the ODNB coverage of Frank so I suppose that neither of them had anything more to do with the AAA after they had been ousted in 1913.†† The AAA was wound up in 1919 and Frank - back in London again - founded the Adelphi Gallery instead.

JUNE 1915

William made patent applications to the authorities in Britain and Switzerland, for a device that could strengthen a ďcushion tyreĒ (ďtireĒ in the USA) to make it more able to withstand pressure at its edges.

Comment by Sally Davis: just noting that the strengthened tyre was not something William invented for any war work he might have been doing; any such invention would be the Governmentís property not Williamís personal property.


Britain: via to Espacenet. GB191508950 (A) which includes an abstract of the original information that accompanied the application.

Switzerland: again via to the Espacenet database.See application (in German) CH90825 (A) dated 17 June 1915; published 17 October 1921.


More detailed information on the device is available from Williamís US patent application:

JUNE 1916

William made an application for his cushion tyre/tire device to the patent authorities in the USA and France.


USA: patent number US1248863, dated 15 June 1916 at and also via to the Espacenet database.US patents are well-covered on the web, so itís also at which gives fuller details of the device, Williamís address when he made the application (Cranbourne Lodge Hendon) and his current occupation (engineer).Although I think it must have run out, this patent was important enough to be referred to as part of the examination of US patent application (US3234989 made 1963) for a missile-proof ground wheel.

France: via to the Espacenet database.See FR482058 application (in French) dated 16 June 1916.



William and Jessieís son was born - Hugh William Humphrys, named after his father, and his Humphrys grandfather.

Comment by Sally Davis: when Hugh was born, Jessie was 41 and William 40.I did check as far as 1920 without finding any other children born to them.Given Jessieís age, itís likely Hugh was an only child.

Source for DOB: death registration for Hugh William Humphrys, registered October-December 1970 in Hove Sussex.



Having lived in New Zealand for several years, Williamís brother Hugh arrived in England with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, on his way to the war.

Comment by Sally Davis: perhaps William and Hugh were able to meet, briefly.

Source: via to service record of Hugh Humphrys, service number 22538.He survived the fighting but returned to New Zealand.See google for evidence that he was still living in New Zealand several decades later.



Frank Rutter resigned from his job at the Leeds art gallery.

Source: wikipedia andFrankís biography in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography volume 48 p421.Throughout his time in Leeds Frank had continued to write on art for a wide range of newspapers and magazines, so he was able to just carry on doing so when he returned to London.



Williamís patent application to the US authorities was finally granted.


See June 1916 above

Patent Office Journal issued by the US Government Printing Office volume 9 1920.


1 JULY 1918

Jessieís mother, Williamís mother-in-law Margaret Alice Holliday, died, in Prestwich, Lancashire.

Source: Probate Registry records for 1918.Jessieís sisters Margaret and Clara Annie were the executors.



London began to engulf Hendon.

Source: Middlesex volume V in the Victoria History of the Counties of England series.Published Oxford University Press and the Institute of Historical Research University of London; 1976: pp3-28.Early moves towards this had been made with the Hampstead Garden Suburb Act of 1906, and building had begun in what is now Golders Green in 1911.Stopped dead by the war, in the 1920s the expansion started up again, concentrating now on Hendon.The Underground Electric Railway (now the Northern Line) was extended from Golders Green to Hendon Central in 1923; but in general car ownership was assumed, with Hendon Way and the North Circular Road being begun in 1924 and the Great North Way in 1926.



Evidence that William was still doing the odd spot of journalism - he was asked to comment on the new, cheap, ďSpeedy CarĒ for the Pall Mall Gazette.

Comment by Sally Davis: Williamís comments, and those of other journalists who wrote about motoring, were taken up by the firm that made the car, and put into a full-page advert which appeared on p17 of the Times on Saturday 25 October 1919.There had already been a smaller advert for the car, on p5 of the Times Saturday 13 September 1919.The Pullinger Engineering Co was the manufacturer and they would be selling it at 110 guineas - 10 guineas in advance, in cash, to their registered office at Holborn Viaduct; and the rest when the car was delivered.What William had written in the Pall Mall Gazette could have applied to any such car: ďA post-war scheme of this kind is what is wanted to bring down car prices and encouraging cheap motoringĒ.He had not seen the car - and thereby hangs a tale because the Speedy Car was a scam!See Times 10 November 1919 p26 for a big advert for the Pullinger Engineering Coís share issue; and for the Timesí financial reporterís reservations about it; and

The Transport Revolution 1770-1985 by Philip Bagwell.Routledge 2002 pp30-31 (I think though I found it hard to see the page numbers on the snippet I found) for the story of how the attempted fraud was exposed by the magazine The Motor.


If William could see what the consequences of bringing down car prices and encouraging cheap motoring - for example, the west-bound M4 at the start of the Easter weekend - he might have thought again!


18 OCTOBER 1919

Jessieís sister Clara died in Stockport where her husband, Rev Charles Paul Keeling, was the Rector; she was only in her fifties.

Source: freebmd and Probate Registry records but not until 1939 - see 1939 below.In 1921 her widower, the Rev Charles Paul Keeling, married Hilda Drinkwater.



The Radium Fire Extinguisher Ltd was still in business providing William, Jessie and son Hugh with part of their income.

Source: The Electrical Review volume 87 1920 p270 listed the Radium Fire Extinguisher Ltd as one of the creditors of W Dennell and Co, engineers, of Sheffield, which had just gone bankrupt; so it wasnít all plain sailing for William and his fire extinguisher company.


JUNE 1920

William, Jessie and Hugh were still living at Cranbourne Lodge.


Patent Office Journal issued by the US Government Printing Office volume 9 1920.This is also a source for William describing himself as an engineer; though of course you wouldnít want to call yourself a journalist while applying for a patent on a piece of electrical equipment.


31 JANUARY 1922

Williamís father, Canon Rev Hugh Humphrys, died while spending a few days in Leamington Spa.At some point after his death - probably quite soon after - Williamís mother Louisa settled in Golders Green.

Comment by Sally Davis: probate was to Williamís mother and was granted in Dublin; so I take it that most of what the Rev Hugh had to leave was in Ireland.He left relatively little property in England - personal effects worth about £5000.Louisa Humphrysí income after her husbandís death was probably from sources in her own family.


Times Friday 3 February 1922 p1a death notices.

Probate Registry 1922.



William was one of a group of journalists who were present when a statue of Frederick Henry Royce, one of the founders of Rolls-Royce, was unveiled.

Via google to, copies of Archive, the newsletter of the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust.Newsletter 92 2013: The Unveiling of the Royce Statue.It was a very unusual occasion - the subject of the statue was still alive.Itís a pity that the article doesnít give a date for the ceremony; though beginning on p11 it does list all those people who were invited.William was representing Pall Mall Gazette.A special train was hired to take the London-based guests to Derby.The Earl and Countess of Birkenhead were the most senior guests and the Countess unveiled the statue.


JUNE 1923

William made a second patent application for a design of thermionic valve (vacuum tube in the USA); presumably an improvement on the patent of 1914.

Source: via to the Espacenet database.See GB223337 (A) priority date 25 June 1923, with an abstract and a diagram.

The Year-Book of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony 1925 pubd by The Wireless World mag; Iliffe and Sons Ltd of Dorset House, Tudor St EC4.On p813 in its list of British patent specifications published during 1924.Just noting what a large number of these were held by individuals rather than companies.






Building began on what is now known as Cranbourne Gardens, and Cranbourne Lodge was knocked down.

Comment by Sally Davis: this is a bit speculative; but I think the houses of Cranbourne Gardens were built on the site of the old Cranbourne Lodge and its gardens.Using google you can see a house thatís called Cranbourne Lodge, but Roger Wright reckons itís a 1920s building.Iím not so sure but it doesnít look much like a house built in the reign of George IV.††

Source for the building of Cranbourne Gardens: Middlesex volume V in the Victoria History of the Counties of England series.Published Oxford University Press and the Institute of Historical Research University of London; 1976: footnote on p14 quoting the planning permission given by the local Urban District Council.I couldnít find direct information that Cranbourne Lodge was knocked down; nor that Cranbourne Gardens is on its old site; but there are plenty of references to old houses in the Hendon area being replaced by new streets of houses.



JULY 1924

Williamís drawing of a valve socket was the illustration to an article (by someone else) on how to built your own crystal unit.

Comment by Sally Davis: Iím basing my assumption that William was a member of the Radio Society of Great Britain on the fact that he was asked to contribute to the Societyís official weekly magazine, Wireless World and Radio Review.The Society was very active in north London, with branches in Golderís Green, North Middlesex and Hendon; it held more formal meeetings in central London.

Source: the article for which he supplied the drawing was: An Experimental Crystal Unit, by an author just described as ďS.A.C.ĒWireless World and Radio Review volume 14 part 2 issue of 23 July 1924 pp482-484; with Williamís drawing on p484.And for the local societies and their busy programme of meetings: p31; and Wireless World and Radio Review volume 14 part 2 issue of 9 April 1924 p59-60.Though I must note that I didnít find Williamís name in any issue of the magazine in 1924.


?MID-LATE 1920s

William, Jessie and Hugh moved to 32 Sunny Gardens, Hendon.

Source though not for the date they moved there: Probate Registry 1950.


21 DECEMBER 1925

Williamís old colleague on the ACA management committee, Jules de Meray, died.

Source for the date: The British Chess Magazine volume 46 1926 p139 obituary of Jules de Meray of 48 Sussex Gardens.



William made his final patent application, showing that wireless equipment was now his main interest.The application was for getting rid of background noise when using wireless equipment plugged into the mains supply.

Source:via to the Espacenet database.See GB262979 (A) priority date 27 January 1926, with an abstract.

Comment by Sally Davis: Williamís son Hugh was now 10.He became a professional engineer so perhaps he was involved in these experiments with wireless.I think the application also indicates that wherever the Humphrys were living, it was a house fully wired with an electricity supply.Perhaps it was at Williamís instigation that Cranbourne Lodge - if thatís where they still were - had had electricity installed.



William had an article on Ďthe wireless engineerí published in the magazine Electronic Technology.

Source: Electronic Technology volume 4 1927 p189 originally published March 1927.The British Library doesnít seem to have copies of this magazine, at least not from around this time; so I havenít been able to check out the contents.It is a pity as this looks like the last piece of writing he ever had published.



The British Diamond Fire Extinguisher Co (1912) Ltd went into voluntary liquidation.

Source: London Gazette issue of 6 November 1928 in a list of liquidations there was advance notice of the final meeting to be held by the liquidator, at 52 Bedford Square on 10 December 1928.IF William still had any shares in this company, he will have needed to be at the meeting to help make the decisions about how the companyís assets should be disposed of.


JUNE 1929

Jessieís brother James Harry Holliday died in hospital in Montreal.

Source: Probate Registry 1939.


11 JULY 1934

William (but apparently not Jessie) went to the funeral of Walter Beresford Annesley, the 7th Earl Annesley.

Sources for the funeral and Williamís presence at it:

Times Tues 10 July 1934 p21 and Times Thursday 12 July 1934 p17c a very short report of the funeral, which had been held at the burial ground in Eversley near Basingstoke.Very few of the mourners were named in the report.Most were close family, of course.

Comment by Sally Davis: while Iíve been searching through my sources for William Iíve kept an eye out for this man but not seen a single mention of him.Thatís not to say he wasnít an investor in one or more of Williamís businesses; but Companies House doesnít keep that kind of evidence for very long after a small company has ceased to trade and been wound up.The 7th Earl was a much older man than William - born in 1861 - so he wonít have been a contemporary at Rugby or Cambridge.He doesnít seem to have been interested in cars; that is, not more than any man who has to drive one.So how did the two men know each other?Iíve got two suggestions, both with an Irish connection.Although the 7th Earl was born in England and spent most of his life living there, the peerage that he inherited (unexpectedly in November 1914) was an Irish one, with estates at Castlewellan, county Down.So thatís one way.The other is by a family relationship more distant than Iíve investigated; perhaps through the Mears family, several of whom were at the funeral.

More about the mysterious Earl:

Times Tues 28 August 1934 p3 an notice under the Trustee Act 1925.Such a notice indicates that the late Earl had been receiving income from a trust fund; probably an Annesley family one.

Wikipedia on the Earls Annesley, though thereís no additional page for the 7th Earl so he was not a public man.The 7th Earl did have an heir; but the 8th Earl died in 1957 without any children.

How the 7th Earl inherited the title from a very distant cousin: Times Wed 9 December 1914 p10.

Who Was Who 1929-40 p29 does have an entry for the 7th Earl but with very little information in it and nothing which sheds any light on how William might know him.

At has a bit more on how he was descended from earlier earls but nothing showing how he might be related to the Humphrys family.

Probate Registry 1934, which shows that the 7th Earl left virtually no personal effects.


JULY 1936

William attended the triennial dinner of the Rugby School old boysí society, at the Cafť Royal, Piccadilly.

Times Saturday 11 July 1936 p19d.


18 APRIL 1937

Williamís old friend Frank Rutter died.He and his second wife had been living in Golders Green, and on the south coast where Frank used to go to get some relief from bouts of bronchitis.

Times Tue 20 April 1937 p1 death notices; with details of the funeral to be held on 21 April.And see part 1 of this life-by-dates for the sources for Frankís life.


26 FEBRUARY 1938

Williamís mother Louisa died, at 41 Woodstock Road Golders Green.

Comment by Sally Davis: though I suppose it must have been divided between William and his two brothers, Louisaís personal estate was valued by the probate registry at over £40,000 - a very nice sum in those days.William - the only one of her children still living in England - was her only executor.By this time, William was describing himself as a ďradio engineerĒ.

Probate Registry 1938.


22 DECEMBER 1938

Jessieís elder sister Margaret Stephenson Holliday died, in the Hendon Cottage Hospital, Hendon Way; leaving Jessie the sole survivor of her siblings.

Comment by Sally Davis: since their motherís death Margaret Holliday had been living in Sutton; perhaps she became ill while on a Christmas visit to her sister, brother-in-law and nephew.Probate was granted in May 1939 and seems to have led to the tidying up of two estates left very untidy for many years: those of Clara Keeling (dead since 1919) and James Holliday (dead since 1929).Jessie took the lead in sorting out Jamesí estate, the most complicated of them all as he had left no Will and had died abroad.

Sources: Probate Registry 1939 for Margaret Stephenson Holliday; James Harry Holliday; and Clara Annie Keeling.Clara Annieís husband, Rev Charles Paul Keeling, died in August 1941.



William and Jessieís son Hugh married Doris Hackett.They donít seem to have had any children.

Source: freebmd.



There was what seemed to be a reference to Williamís thermionic valve (vacuum tube) holder in the magazine The Electrician.

Comment by Sally Davis: I came across the reference while googling on the web.When I checked it out at the British Library, the volume numbers didnít match and the magazine had no index, so I wasnít able to find the reference.The Electrician was a weekly magazine, published by Benn Brothers Ltd of Bouverie House, 154 Fleet Street and aimed at professionals in the field.


21 MARCH 1950

William Humphrys died, suddenly, at home at 32 Sunny Gardens Road Hendon.He was cremated at Golders Green on Monday 27 March.

Comment by Sally Davis: Williamís personal estate was valued at about £63000.In the terms of the time, he was a wealthy man.It would be interesting to know how much of it was his inheritance from the Evans-Lombe family; and how much was his own doing, from the Radium fire extinguisher and his patented inventions.


Times Thursday 23 March 1950 p1a death notices; emphasising the Evans-Lombe inheritance.

Times Friday 24 March 1950 p1a death notices: emphasising Hugh and Louisa Humphrys; and as the ďdear husbandĒ of Jessie.

Probate Registry 1950.



The Radium Fire Extinguisher Ltd, which William had founded to sell a dry-powder fire extinguisher, was wound up.

Source:London Gazette 9 December 1958 p7515.


Jessie Humphrys continued to live at 32 Sunny Gardens until her death in December 1962.Hugh William Humphrys died in 1970.

Sources: Probate Registry 1963 for Jessie.Hugh Humphrys was her executor, described as an ďengineerĒ.And freebmd for Hugh.



BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.


Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert.Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986.Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914.The list is based on the Golden Dawnís administrative records and its Membersí Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation.All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but itís now in the Freemasonsí Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden.Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh were destroyed in 1900/01.I have recently (July 2014) discovered that some records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have survived, though most have not; however those that have survived are not yet accessible to the public.


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


Family history: freebmd; (census and probate);; familysearch; Burkeís Peerage and Baronetage; Burkeís Landed Gentry; Armorial Families;; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.


Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD.Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.


Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette.Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.


Catalogues: British Library; Freemasonsí Library.


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




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: