ISABEL DE STEIGER part 1: from her birth to mid-1878; two more parts follow this one.† She had a long life! ††And thereís a separate file giving some information on her work as an artist.
Isabel de Steiger was one of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawnís earliest members, being initiated at its Isis-Urania temple in London in October 1888.† She chose the Latin motto ĎAltiora petoí.† She took her time over the learning and exams required for the GDís inner, 2nd Order and was initiated into it in May 1896.† She moved out of London and was a member of the GDís Horus temple in Bradford for a time; and then (in the late 1890s) of its Amen-Ra temple in Edinburgh.
REVISION NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2015
A big update seemed to be the appropriate response when I was contacted by Richard Duboug, descendant of a family who were friends of Isabel in her last years.† Richard Dubourg sent me a copy of Isabelís Will, which revealed the names of several more friends Isabel had, that Iíd never seen mentioned in any other source.† The Will also prompted me to dig a bit deeper with Isabelís family and to include them in the life-by-dates.† Thanks to Richard Dubourg, the life-by-dates below is much more comprehensive than it was.† And a lot bigger!†
Three cheers for Isabel de Steiger!† One of only four GD members to write a long memoir; the only woman to do so.† The three men were W B Yeats, Aleister Crowley and A E Waite.† I have based my account of Isabelís life on her Memorabilia: Reminiscences of a Woman Artist and Writer; however, I have encountered a few problems with doing so.†
Isabelís intention in writing Memorabilia was not so much to keep an account of her own life but to say what she knew about three remarkable women she had been friendly with, whose contributions to the occult and to western esotericism were (she felt) in danger of being forgotten.† The memoir concentrates very much on the three - Mary Anne Atwood, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Anna Bonus Kingsford.† Other people are not written about in such detail and many of Isabelís other friends and acquaintances were left out altogether.† In particular, thereís hardly any mention of Isabelís family and her relations with them after her marriage.
Isabel began keeping a journal in her teens and wrote it up regularly; but most of her early journals were probably destroyed in 1900.† Memorabilia is mostly written from memory.† By the time she was finishing it off, in the mid-1920s, Isabel was looking back at 90 years or so of life, and she gets confused sometimes, especially about dates, and where she was living at particular times.
The memoir was written in three stages, and Isabel didnít bother to do much revision when going back to it (twice) after gaps of many years.† She began Memorabilia around 1912 and got as far as the 1870s before putting it aside to concentrate on another project.† She took it up again at the end of 1918; then worked at it on and off over the next three years; before leaving it again until having her last go at it, and finally getting it finished, in 1925-26.† She only revised one or two chapters of it, and the manuscript doesnít seem to have been edited by anyone else either.† It was published as she had left it, with some events mentioned twice but remembered rather differently, and some conflicting accounts of particular events.
Despite these snags, I am very grateful to have had Memorabilia to work on, and to get to know Isabel better than I will be able to know any other GD member.
The memoirís full publication details: Memorabilia: Reminiscences of a Woman Artist and Writer.† Isabelle de Steiger.† London: Rider and Co.† The book doesnít have a publication date but thereís a British Library stamp in it saying ď27 MAY 27".
THE LAYOUT BELOW which I hope isnít too difficult to read.
What Isabel was doing, tends to be in italics.† My comments, and the sources, are typed in my usual Times New Roman.
Lastly, before we start, a quick note on her name: she was baptised with it spelled in the French way - Isabelle - and did return to that spelling from time to time in her life.† For most of her life, however, she used ĎIsabelí and Iíll stick with that.
ISABELíS LIFE IN DATES
PREAMBLE - Isabelís ancestors
Isabel was a daughter of Joshua Lace (whose father had the same name so Iíll call this one Ďthe youngerí and his wife Helena Elizabeth, nťe Cameron.
Sources: Memorabilia p2, p5 and website for Hector Lochiel Cameron.
On her motherís side, Isabel was descended from Scottish and Irish professional families, with the men often in the British army or clerics in the Church of England.† Isabelís motherís father was Colonel Hector Lochiel-Cameron (1777-1833), a veteran of the Peninsular War.† In 1797 he had eloped with Elizabeth Lovett, daughter of Rev Dr Verney Lovett the dean of Lismore, county Waterford.† Hector and Elizabeth had two daughters and four sons.† Helena Elizabeth (born 1816) was the younger daughter.
Memorabilia does not mention where the Lace family came from originally.† Itís an unusual name in England but while I was trawling the census I noticed that itís quite common on the Isle of Man; so Iím assuming that itís the Isle of Man that Isabelís ancestors came from, on her fatherís side.† A man called Ambrose Lace, who is probably Isabelís great-grandfather, had moved to Liverpool by 1787 and was a partner in the solicitorsí firm Aspinwall Roscoe and Lace.†
Sources, all seen on the web:
The Herculaneum Pottery: Liverpoolís Forgotten Glory by Peter Hyland 2005.† Chapter called Renaissance 1833-36: p195 footnote 1.
Liverpool as it was in the last quarter of the 18th century by Richard Brooke pubd 1853.† In Chapter 6 p469 and p649 footnote 1 which has a reference to the firm appearing in Liverpool Directory issue of 1787.
Liverpool, the first 1000 Years by Arabella MacIntyre-Brown 2001: p143 in a section on Liverpool Law Society which was founded as the Law Library in 1827.† Its first President was Joshua Lace (thatís Isabelís grandfather, not her father - Joshua Lace the elder).† The modern Liverpool law firm of Berrymans Lace Mawr is a descendent of the 18th century Aspinwall, Roscoe and Lace.
A Treatise on the Office and Practice of a Notary of England by Richard Brooke pubd 1838.† In an Appendix, p82: Joshua Lace (thatís Isabelís grandfather) mentioning that heíd been a Notary for over 55 years.
Source: Memorabilia p13
Inevitably, the families of the partners in Aspinwall Roscoe and Lace became related by marriage: Joshua Lace seniorís daughter (Isabelís aunt) Margaret married Edward Roscoe.
Joshua Lace the elder and his wife Margaret had at least two sons: Ambrose and Isabelís father Joshua the younger; and at least one daughter, Martha.† Ambrose was considerably the older of the two sons (born c 1793).† Joshua Lace who was Isabelís father was the younger son, born in 1805.†
Source for birth of Joshua Lace the younger: via familysearch to England EAS-y GS film 1068893.
Both Ambrose and Joshua the younger went into the family firm and qualified as solicitors.† However, Ambrose was by far the more committed to his work.† He was an active member of the Liverpool Law Society and served as its president in 1832-33.† He married Margaret Clarke in October 1822.† As far as I can tell they had no children; but after his brotherís death, they took in some of his children including Isabel.
1) Liverpool Law Societyís website at , the page on the Societyís history:
2) marriage registers of the church of St George Derby Square Liverpool; Marriage Register 1813-83 p16 entry 47 transcribed at † Ambrose and Joshua the youngerís sister Martha Lace was one of the witnesses..
Isabelís father was a very cultured, artistic man temperamentally unsuited to work as a lawyer.† Before his marriage heíd travelled in Europe, spending time in Paris, Italy and Switzerland.† He collected paintings, china, sculpture and ivories and amassed a good library of classics.† The Lace family owned property in Liverpool and thus had income from rents.† And in the 1830s at least, they succombed to the frenzy of investment in the latest method of transport, and bought shares in a railway company.
Source: Memorabilia p8, p13.
Sources for the investments of Ambrose and Isabelís father Joshua Lace the younger:
The Herculaneum Pottery: Liverpoolís Forgotten Glory by Peter Hyland 2005.† In Chapter 16: p210 the final years meaning 1836-40.† The pottery made earthenware goods.† It rented prop in Toxteth Park from Ambrose Lace and Joshua Lace the younger, who granted the firm a new lease in 1836.
Parliamentary Papers House of Commons volume 48 1837 p32/pvii, part of a list of shareholders in the Cheltenham, Oxford, and London and Birmingham Railway.† Joshua Lace the younger has 10 shares for which he had paid £1000; Ambrose Lace has bought 20 shares at £2000.
Isabelís parents were distantly related to each other, through the Pigott family.† They met during a visit made by Helena Elizabeth to her relations in Liverpool.† The marriage didnít meet with unqualified approval in either family, mostly due to religious differences: the Camerons were Evangelicals; the Laces, on the other hand, had relations who were Unitarians though Joshua Lace the younger was Evangelical himself.
Source: Memorabilia p5.
Comment by Sally: this was a big divide, at the beginning of the 19th century.† Evangelicals believed that the Bible was the word of God and thus beyond question or change.† Unitarians didnít believe that Jesus was the son of God and so rejected the idea of the holy trinity; many Christians thought them barely Christian at all.†
I could not find a record of the marriage of Joshua Lace the younger to Helena Elizabeth Cameron.† It probably took place in 1831.† They had two boys and four girls (Sources are via familysearch):
Joshua Verney Lovett Lace 7 June 1832†††††††††††††††††††††† England EAS-y GS film 1546288
Constantia Margaret Lace 24 July 1833††††††††††††††††††††††† England EAS-y GS film 102362-2
William Henry Lace 3 April 1835††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† England EAS-y GS film 1546288
Isabelle (sic) Elizabeth 29 June 1836†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† England EAS-y GS film 1546288
Helena Cameron Lace (Nina) 5 July 1838†††††††††††††††††††† England-ODM GS fukn 1546288
Elizabeth Rosamund Lace 10 Sep 1840††††††††††††††††††††††† England ODM-y GS film 1546288
All the Lace children were baptised at St Brideís, the new Church of England church which had a series of Evangelical clergy including (in the late 1830s) the Rev John Ellison Bates father of GD member Emily Katharine Bates.†
0832GMT 28 February 1836 at 2 Canning Street Liverpool: Isabelle Elizabeth Lace was born. †Isabel gives some astrological details: Aries Rising, Sun-Mercury conjunction, Moon-Jupiter conjunction in Cancer.† All Dr Kingsfordís social circle had their horoscopes done.
Source: Memorabilia p247, p276.
Comment by Sally: ransacking my brain for memories from the time when I knew more astrology than I do, I printed Isabelís chart and itís quite a dynamic one.† Isabel would not have been using the planets beyond Saturn - thatís a 20th-century add-on to time-honoured astrology.† So she would not have been aware that her Sun-Mercury conjunction has Uranus in the middle of it; the three-planet conjunction straddles Aquarius and Pisces and is part of a grand trine in water signs with Jupiter and Saturn.† Isabelís Moon-Jupiter conjunction is not a conjunction by modern standards, the two are a little too far apart; however they are linked together by both being square to a Venus-Pluto conjunction in Aries in the first house.
Isabel knew Anna Bonus Kingsford in the 1880s (see Part 2 of this biography).† She would also have needed to provide her birth data as part of the GDís vetting process for potential initiates.
The Lace family continued to live at 2 Canning Street.† Amongst their neighbours were the Gladstone and the Duckworth families.† Summers were spent with relations in Waterford and Scotland (her motherís family) or the Isle of Man (her fatherís family).† In 1844, however, they opted to go abroad instead; Isabel remembered visiting the Waterloo battle site.
Source: Memorabilia chapters 1 to 5, which were written c 1911.
Source for the environs of Canning Street: visit to Liverpool August 2012 by Sally Davis and Roger Wright.† 2 Canning Street is on the corner with Gambier Terrace, on the edge of a district of Georgian houses and above where Liverpoolís CofE Cathedral is now although the building hadnít even been started when Isabel lived there.† Behind those streets was the newly-built St Brideís church where Isabel and her siblings were baptised.
The Lace family and the Rathbone family knew each other.† Isabelís father was a friend of William Rathbone.
Source: Memorabilia p47, p101.
Comment by Sally: the friend of Isabelís father Joshua Lace the younger is William Rathbone V 1787-1868, partner in the family import/export business and also in the insurance broking and ship-owning partnership of Rathbone Martin and Co.† The most well-known William Rathbone is the Vís son, 1819-1912, partner in Rathbone Brothers, MP and philanthopist, father of Eleanor Rathbone.† Isabel knew William Rathbone VI.
Source for Rathbone Martin and Co:
London Gazette 21 May 1867 p2949 dissolved partnerships: includes a notice issued 30 April 1867 announcing that the partnership Rathbone Martin and Co had been dissolved due to the retirement of Samuel Martin.† The business would continue with the remaining partners: William Rathbone; Philip Henry Rathbone; and Robert Topham Steele.† They worked as insurance brokers, underwriters and ship-owners.
Comment by Sally: at the end of the 19th century, Isabel became a close friend of Robert Topham Steeleís second wife, Lťonie.† Lťonie was one of the two executors of Isabelís Will.
Isabelís mother Helena Elizabeth died during the spring.† Helena was only 27, Isabel was six.†† Isabelís father had always had a reclusive tendency and this became more pronounced after his wifeís death.
Sources: freebmd, Memorabilia p13.††††††††
Isabel and her sisters began their education at a day-school in Percy Street in the village of Rock Ferry on the Birkenhead side of the Mersey, then very rural.† The school was run by the Hackney sisters.† Pupils were taught grammar, writing, arithmetic to long division standard, geography and history, music and singing.† Much of the teaching was rote-learning but Isabelís poor memory meant that later on in her life she couldnít recall any of the poetry sheíd been forced to memorise.† It was at this school that she had her first drawing lessons, from the landscape artist Andrew Hunt, father of Alfred William Hunt.† He thought Isabel had talent and told her to tell her father to arrange for a proper training; but Isabel didnít enjoy his drawing classes, she preferred the music lessons, so she never passed the message on!
Source: Memorabilia eg p14, p41 although Isabel doesnít give exact dates.
Comments from Sally: the curriculum at the Hackney sistersí school was much wider than was normal in schools for girls at that time.† Just noting, too, that Isabel always had fond memories of Rock Ferry and returned there to live, at least twice, much later in her life.
??LATE 1840s TO 1855
Joshua Verney Lovett Lace, the elder of Isabelís two brothers, was in business with William Lawford as an importer and crusher of seeds to make vegetable oil; at 18 Kent Street Liverpool.† Their partnership was dissolved in late 1855.
Source: London Gazette 5 November 1855 p4155.
Isabel began keeping a journal; a practice she continued throughout her life; though a lot of volumes of it were destroyed in 1900.
Source: Memorabilia pxx
ALSO DURING 1850
Rudolph Adolf von Steiger von Riggesberg arrived in Liverpool and found work with the cotton-broking firm of Melly, Forget and Co.† Rudolph had been born in Bern, Switzerland.† His family owned land outside the town but their wealth and social position were in decline.† The family was Calvinist, and spoke French, German and Romansch.
Source: Memorabilia p63-64, p279
Comment by Sally Davis: the late entertainer George Melly was a member of this Liverpool Melly family.†
UNKNOWN DATE BUT BEFORE 1851
Isabel continued her art education in the way recommended to students in this period - she copied paintings owned by her father, which were themselves copies of originals by van Dyck and Kneller.
Source: Memorabilia p57
Isabelís father, Joshua Lace the younger, died aged 47 on 28 February 1851.† The house at 2 Canning Street was sold; so were all its contents including the library.
Sources: Source: Memorabilia p13, p32, p16; freebmd, census etc.† Isabel had lost both her parents by the age of 17.† She and her siblings went to live with their fatherís elder brother Ambrose Lace and his wife Margaret, at their house called Beaconsfield in the village of Little Woolton (then on the outskirts of Liverpool).† Isabel and her siblings were part of Ambrose and Margaretís household on the day of the 1851 census, a few weeks after Joshua Laceís death.† However, I think that the household didnít last very long in the form it had on that day, because (although I am not certain about the identification) Ambroseís wife Margaret may have died in 1852 - another death for Isabel to cope with before she had even left school.
1851 to ?
Isabel attended Avon Bank school just outside Stratford-upon-Avon.† Effie Gray had been a pupil there.
Source: Memorabilia p16.
Comment by Sally: I presume Isabelís sisters also attended the school.† Effie Gray, of course, was later the wife of Ruskin and then of Millais.
Sources for Avon Bank school:†
Website bristowefamilies.com/avonbank.html has a transcription of the 1841 census entry for Avon Bank School.† Euphemia Gray aged 13 is amongst the pupils.† The household is headed by the schoolís headmistress Maria Byerly, followed by Jane Byerly; and Mary Ainsworth and Alicia Ainsworth, all described as governesses.† The website says that the Byerly sisters were nieces of Josiah Wedgewood.
Wives and Stunners: the Pre-Raphaelites and their Muses by Henrietta Garnett 2012 footnote 24 but I couldnít see a page number on the snippet: the original owners of Avon Bank were Maria and Jane Byerly.† They retired in 1840 and handed the school on in 1841 to the Ainsworth sisters.
The 1851 census listing for Avon Bank Old Stratford has Mary Ainsworth as its head and principal of the school.† Her sisters Harriot, Alicia and Helen all work as schoolmistresses.† The pupils are listed next - 29 of them, all girls of course, the majority between 15 and 17 years old.† Then there are the names of two more teachers, one born in Paris the other born in Dresden.† There is no one in the household called Lace or Smiles.
As well as Effie Gray, Elizabeth Stevenson Gaskell had been a pupil.† Sources:
Elizabeth Gaskell by Angus Easson p3 says she left the school 1827.† The schoolís curriculum when Elizabeth was a pupil included dancing, drawing, Italian, French and music.
Mrs Gaskell: Novelist and Biographer by Arthur Pollard 1965 pix Stevenson was a pupil at Avon Bank 1825-27; page makes clear it was her only formal schooling.
Faith, Duty and the Power of the Mind: the Cloughs and their Circle by Gill Sutherland 2006 p73 author is discussing the education of middle-class girls in the early part of the 19th century.† She uses Avonbank to illustrate the best education that was available.† Samuel Smilesí sister Julia went to the school.
Comment from Sally: Ambrose Laceís decision to send Isabel away so soon after her fatherís death was harsh.† Even at the end of her life she found it hard to deal with.
?UNKNOWN DATE,† TO ?1854 ?1855
Isabel was sent to Miss Stevensí school at North End Road, Fulham.† The only thing Isabel could remember that happened while she was there was her refusing to do the art classes because they involved more copying.
Source: Memorabilia p47, p53.
Isabel Ďcame outí in Liverpool, where the social scene focused on balls in the Wellington Rooms.† It was at one of the dances there that she met Rudolph von Steiger.
Source: Memorabilia p47, p53.
AFTER 1855 UNTIL BEFORE 1871
Isabelís brother Joshua Verney Lovett Lace was in business as an importer of goods from the East Indies.
Source: 1861 census.
Isabelís younger brother, William Henry Lace, followed his uncle Ambrose and his father Joshua into the family solicitorís firm.† As the rest of the family began to scatter through England and elsewhere, he remained in Liverpool.
Source: 1861 IF this is the right person, but the William Henry Lace who is one of the lodgers at 4 York Street Liverpool is described as a ďgentlemanĒ not as a solicitor.
Isabelís brother Joshua Verney Lovett Lace married Theodosia Fanny Walker, in Liverpool.† They went to live at Christleton Old Hall on the outskirts of Chester.† They had three children: Charles Verney Lace; a younger Theodosia; and Josephine.
Source: freebmd; 1861 census.
Sources for Christleton Old Hall: wikipedia with a list (not entirely accurate) of who lived there; and www.christleton.org.uk/site/oldpics/images/oldhall.htm which has a photograph probably taken around 1908.
Isabel and her sister Helena were living at 57 New Bath Street Southport, where they employed one general servant.
Source: 1861 census.† Comment by Sally Davis: as was all-too-usual, the census official doesnít seem to have asked either of the sisters for the details of their sources of income.† Isabel was listed as head of household, I supposed because she was older.† I donít know how long Isabel and Helena had been living there, but as Isabel was about to be married, I presume they left the house within a month or two of census day.
Isabel Lace married Rudolph von Steiger von Riggesberg at the fashionable All Saints Childwall Church in Liverpool.† They went to Switzerland immediately afterwards so that Isabel could meet his family.† She never got on with them, especially with his mother - communication was part of the trouble though so also was Isabelís lack of interest in domestic matters and the fact that she wasnít Swiss.† Despite these difficulties, Isabel did continue to visit Rudolphís family at least until the 1880s.
By the time Isabel and Rudolph were married, Rudolph had left Melly, Forget and Co and set up his own business, selling American cotton to manufacturers in Germany, Switzerland and France.† He had also begun to manifest the coughing-up of blood that was one of the early symptoms of TB.
Source: Memorabilia pp54-55, p59; and freebmd.
For All Saints Childwall: wikipedia and www.allsaintschildwall.org.uk
Several comments from Sally Davis:
Firstly about that surname: Isabel always used Ďdeí rather than Ďvoní when writing her surname, so I shall do so.†
Secondly: it was most likely to be as a wedding present that Isabel was given a signet ring bearing the von Steiger family coronet.† She still had it in the 1920s though she bequeathed it back to Rudolphís family in her Will.† Source: Will of Isabelle Elizabeth de Steiger dated 6 March 1924.
Thirdly, it was not the best time to be marrying someone involved in the cotton industry - at the time of the marriage, Rudolphís business must have been badly affected by the American Civil War.† However, Isabel makes no mention at all of the war in Memorabilia.††
Back in Liverpool after their honeymoon trip, Isabel and Rudolph de Steiger set up home in the Liverpool suburb of Aigburth.† They were rich enough to afford to have a one-horse carriage, which Isabel learned to drive; and to employ a groom.† As a married woman without children, and not wanting to be involved in the minutiae of running her household, Isabel had a life of ďrather lonely leisureĒ during the first years of her marriage.† She tried to get involved with some local charities including the Cancer Hospital in Hope Street, and William Rathboneís home nursing scheme, but her involvement didnít last; she ďhad...no affinity or ability for a truly practical schemeĒ something she felt guilty about as ďone of my many defects of characterĒ.† Source: Memorabilia p55, p59, p66, p100-101
Comments from Sally: although she doesnít say so in so many words, Isabel gives the impression that she resented the amount of time Rudolph had to spend on business matters.† The Rathbone Isabel means is William Rathbone VI, who set up what was the first district nursing scheme after the death of his first wife.† And on the question of servants: because Isabel and Rudolph never appeared on the census as a married couple, I donít know how many servants they employed.†
Isabelís youngest sister Rosamond (sometimes spelled Rosamund) Elizabeth married Edmund Charles Burton, solicitor, of Daventry, Northamptonshire.
Comment by Sally Davis: Rosamundís husband was the third generation of the Burton family to be a solicitor and act as town clerk of Daventry.† The head of the family lived in the town at the house called The Lodge; though until his father died Rosamund and Edmund lived in a house on the High Street.† Rosamundís husband was important in the social life of the district; a regular Church of England church-goer; a member of the Pytchley hunt and of the National Hunt Committee.† When he died, the town paid for a memorial to him which is now in Daventryís Market Square.† Rosamund and Edmund Charles had four daughters and one son, Edmund Gerald, who took over the family solicitorís firm on his fatherís death.
Sources for Edmund Charles Burton (1826-1907):
At www.waymarking.com a photo of the Burton Memorial in Market Sq Daventry and some details of his life.
Via www.genesreunited.co.uk to issues of the Northampton Mercury during the late 19th century, with quite a lot of coverage of the Burton family and their social set in Daventry.† Including:
- ††††††††† issues of http://www.genesreunited.co.uk8 September 1883 and 15 September 1883 on the marriage of Evelyn Margaret Burton to Thomas William Thornton of Kingsthorpe Hall.† The Thorntons were another prominent local family.
-†††††††††† issue of 2 February 1889 which has a report on the Pytchley Hunt Ball: Mrs E C Burton and her unmarried daughters Rosamund, Constance and Blanche were all there.
-†††††††††† issues of 25 July 1890 and 1 August 1890 on the marriage of Rosamond (sic) Burton to William Rhodes of Floore Fields Daventry.
POSSIBLY AS EARLY AS 1864 although Isabel writes as if it was 1883
Isabel met Christian David Ginsburg through her friends William and Fanny Crosfield.
Source for her knowing him through the Crosfields: Memorabilia p169 in pages where the rest of the action is taking place in 1883.
Comments by Sally Davis: Isabel could have read some of Ginsburgís work as early as 1864 and 1865 - two papers by him, on the Essenes and on the Kabbalah, were published by the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool.† However, she writes of him in Memorabilia as if she only knew his work in the 1860s, that she had not met him in person until 1883.† This is a bit puzzling because the Crosfields knew Ginsburg from the late 1850s.† The Crosfields were Quakers, owners of a sugar importing and grocery business in Liverpool.† The family were active supporters of the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Among the Jews.† It was that Societyís mission in Warsaw that had convinced the Jewish David Ginsburg to convert to Christianity in 1846 and receive the new forename ĎChristianí.† He later worked as a missionary for the Society, firstly in London and from 1857 to 1863 in Liverpool.† Ginsburg married William Crosfieldís sister Margaret in 1858.† Margaret died in the summer of 1864, giving birth to their daughter, and in 1868 Christian David married Emilie, daughter of Friedrich Hausburg of Woolton, Liverpool.
Sources for Ginsburg: Memorabilia and his entry in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography volume 22 p337, which lists several more published works than are listed in the British Library catalogue.
British Library catalogue has these two early works:
Essenes: their History and Doctrines: An Essay, reprinted from the Transactions of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool.† London: 1864.
The Kabbalah: its Doctrines, Development and Literature† London and Liverpool: 1865.
Spending time in Switzerland, Isabel and Rudolph visited Davos.† On their return to England Isabel wrote an article about their time there which became her first published piece of work.† It appeared in the magazine The Queen; under the pseudonym Esmť Suisse.
Source: Memorabilia p57 however, at November 2015 Iím no longer sure that Isabel had got the right year for her stay at Davos and her article about it.† I looked through issues of† The Queen volume 40 - August to December 1966 - and couldnít find any references to Davos let alone an article on it; nor any articles under the pseudonym Isabel chose.† Iím sure she and Rudolf did go to Davos one summer; perhaps it was 1867 or 1864.
Comment by Sally Davis: Iím assuming that Isabel chose to send her account of Davos to The Queen because it was a paper she read herself.† The full title of the weekly newspaper usually known as The Queen is: The Queen: The Ladyís Newspaper and Court Chronicle.† It purported to be aimed at a wealthy, leisured female readership with strictly feminine interests and narrow horizons.† Several pages in each issue were given over to court and social news at home and abroad (there was no political news); several more to fashion, particularly Paris fashion; and several more to sewing - that is, embroidery, not making your own clothes.† There was some coverage of sport, mostly archery and hunting, with a bit of croquet.† There was a page on housekeeping but written on the assumption that the reader would be supervising her housekeeper, rather than do any of the job herself.† All such magazines are upwardly mobile, of course, but this one cost 6d, 7d if you had it posted, and thatís a lot of money for a weekly paper in 1866.† In September and October of 1866 there were several very short articles probably written by readers about places they had visited in Europe but like every other column in the magazine, they were published anonymously.†
All in all, The Queen casts a surprising light on Isabel in her early 30s.†
Constance Helena Burton was born, daughter of Isabelís sister Rosamond Burton.† Constance was a beneficiary of Isabelís Will, though rather belatedly, in a codicil drawn up two years after the main body of the Will.
Sources: Familysearch for the baptism; I havenít been able to find a birth registration.† And: codicil to the Will of Isabelle Elizabeth de Steiger, signed 28 August 1926.
UNKNOWN DATE to LATE 1860s
As the decade progressed, Rudolphís TB got worse and eventually he and Isabel decided to move to a climate that might arrest his decline.† Rudolph closed down his business in Liverpool and started up again in Alexandria, Egypt.† Rudolph and Isabel lived in the suburb of Ramleh, which was popular with Europeans.† They didnít meet many Egyptians though they did attend balls and receptions given by the Khedive.† The ex-pat community was small, and mostly made up of business people.† Everyone spoke several languages; Isabel got used to conversing in French and Italian and even tried to learn some Arabic.† She also took painting lessons from Dunelli, an Italian artist who specialised in Ďpicturesqueí scenes.† Isabel at least (she doesnít talk about her husband) was still a regular church-goer at the Protestant church in Alexandria, where she was in the choir.† Amongst the people Isabel met at this time were Charles Gordon (Gordon of Khartoum) and Lady Anne Blunt.
Source: Memorabilia p59, p73-77, p90.
Comment from Sally: as at July 2013 Iíve been unable to identify Dunelli.† I canít find anything about him (or possibly her) on the web.† Iím also slightly puzzled that Isabel says she met Gordon of Khartoum because according to his wikipedia page, he didnít arrive to begin working for the Khedive until 1874.† If Isabel met Lady Anne Blunt she almost certainly met her husband Wilfred Scawen Blunt as well; the two were married in 1869.† By the time Isabel was writing the Memorabilia, however, Wilfredís serial adulteries had caused them to be divorced and Isabel probably preferred to forget she ever knew him.
Isabelís sister Helena Cameron Lace married Rev John Turnbull.
Comment by Sally Davis: I would suppose that Isabel wasnít able to attend this marriage as she and Rudolph were in Egypt by this time.† Rev John was the son of Robert Turnbull of Hackness in Yorkshire.† After Cambridge University he had been ordained in 1862/63 and spent some time as a curate in the Isle of Man, before becoming curate of All Saints Childwall in 1864, a bit too late to marry Isabel to Rudolph.†
Sources for Rev John Turnbull:
Alumni Cantabrigiensis seen on web so no volume number visible, but p244 in that volume.†
At www.tenews.co.uk, the Temple Ewell Newsletter has a short article on Temple Ewell church, which was restored from a delapidated state, 1875-75, largely due to the efforts of Rev John Turnbull.†
Proceedings of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East published by the Society 1881 p79: Rev John Turnbull organising a collection for the Society after Sunday service.
Helena and John Turnbullís eldest child was born: Constance Mary Verney Turnbull, who became the residuary legatee of Isabelís Will.† Also born that year was Rosamond and Edmund Charles Burtonís daughter Blanche Isabel, who had two aunts Isabel - my Isabel and Edmund Charlesí sister Isabel Burton.
Sources: freebmd; Will of Isabelle Elizabeth de Steiger 1924.
Comment by Sally Davis: Blanche Burton was the most likely of all Isabelís nieces to have been her god-child.† However, you would expect in that case that Isabel would leaver her something in her Will; but she didnít, it was Blancheís sister Constance who was the only Burton beneficiary.†
Isabelís uncle Ambrose Lace died.
Source: freebmd, probate registry.
Rudolph was too ill to run his business properly, and it was also badly affected by the Franco-Prussian war in Europe.† Isabel was his chief nurse.
Source: Memorabilia p73.
Isabelís brother-in-law Rev John Turnbull became vicar of Temple Ewell, just outside Dover.† He remained in post there until 1900.
Alumni Cantabrigiensis seen on web so no volume number visible, but p244 in that volume.
31 DECEMBER 1872
Rudolph von Steiger von Riggesberg died in Alexandria. †Rudolph von Steigerís Will had set up a trust fund to provide his widow with an income and at least for the next few decades Isabel was able to live independently provided she was careful.† The trust fundís sole trustee was Henry Cassels Kay, a friend of Rudolph and Isabel in Alexandria.
Immediately after Rudolphís death, Isabel left Alexandria for a trip to Minet-el Basal and the Egyptian desert.† As was proper, she began to wear black, but she didnít wear the full widowís weeds as strict observance of mourning wasnít much bothered with amongst the ex-pats of Alexandria.† She carried on not wearing widowís weeds when she returned to Europe, and her refusal to do so did cause comment there.† Isabel was never a regular Christian church-goer after her husbandís death.
Probate registry.† Rudolph appointed three executors to put his Will into effect: Charles Forget; William Crosfield; and Isabelís brother Joshua Verney Lovett Lace.†
Memorabilia p73, p87, p90, p102.
Sources for Forget and Crosfield: census etc
Comment by Sally Davis: I give short biographies of the trustee and the executors because all three were important to Isabel in the coming years and were friends of hers as well.
The Trustee: HENRY CASSELS KAY and see 1903 in this life-by-dates.
Henry Cassels Kay was of Scottish descent, the son of a businessman who lived in Antwerp.† He was born in 1827 and educated in Belgium.† In 1844 he went to Egypt to work for Briggs and Co of Alexandria and Cairo, a leading bank.† In 1854 the Times appointed him their correspondent in Alexandria.† After a brief period working at Briggs and Coís offices in London, Cassels Kay returned to Alexandria as an employee of Tod, Rathbone and Co and it was during this period of his working life that Isabel and Rudolf knew him and his wife.† As well as speaking several European languages, Cassels Kay studied literary Arabic.† He retired and returned to live in Campden Hill (in 1874) but kept up a keen interest in Egypt: he worked at Arabic translation and articles on Egyptian culture and in 1880 he was elected a director of the Bank of Egypt.† He was a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and of the Royal Asiatic Society whose Council he served on.† He collected Islamic and other art.† In 1859 he married Jane Ann Edmondstone Aytoun; they had one son.
Times 9 June 1903 p10: obituary.
The Bankerís Magazine volume 39 1880 p66 announcement of his election as a director of the Bank of Egypt.
As a collector of art:
Via www.christies.com/lotfinder to sale 5644 13 July 2005: a table clock owned by Henry Cassels Kay and in his family until this sale.† Made about 1900: inlaid mahogany w brass mountings.
Via google to Islamic Art catalogue for a sale 9 October 1900 published Christie Manson and Woods Ltd: p122 lots 162-64.
The Executor: CHARLES FORGET and see other entries in this life-by-dates
Charles Isaac Forget was probably a partner in the firm Melly, Forget and Co.† He definitely served as Swiss Consul in Liverpool.† He and his wife were both Swiss by birth though they lived in England for many years.† Forget had died by 1885 but the closeness between the Forget and Lace families had continued: in 1885 Charlesí daughter Cťcile Marguťrite married Charles Verney Lace, Isabelís nephew, the son of Joshua Verney Lovett Lace and his wife Theodosia.
The Executor: WILLIAM CROSFIELD but see also subsequent entries in this life-by-dates.
There are two William Crosfields, father and son.† They ran a sugar-refining and grocery business in Liverpool.† The older William was an anti-slavery campaigner and friend of William Lloyd Garrison.† Rudolphís executor was the son.† William the younger married Fanny Elizabeth Job, in Liverpool, in 1865.† Both William and Fanny were about Isabelís age - born around 1838.† They had one child, Dora, born 1867.
ISABEL AT A CROSSROADS
Comment from Sally: Isabel never mentions having had any children.† She may have chosen not to mention in Memorabilia that she had had children that had died; but I get the impression that she had never been pregnant.† After all, for most of her marriage her husband was seriously ill.† On a wider level, when she looked back at her twenties and early thirties after many decades, Isabel was rather ambivalent about her marriage and about being married.† In Memorabilia p56 she describes herself as in a state of arrested development at the time.† And on p73, of her early widowhood, she even says, ďStrange to say, for the first time in my life I began to feel that I was really alive...I conclude that it was because, for the first time, I had to plan and decide a great deal for myself, with only my own judgement to rely uponĒ.† However, she reiterates many times in the book that the next decade was a time of restlessness, and grinding loneliness.† From the vantage point of the early 1920s, she saw her life in the 1870s in spiritual terms.† On Memorabilia p125 she describes the decade as one with a great deal of action but also as a period of ďalmost spiritual deathĒ with time passing in ďa sort of spiritual sleepĒ.
Isabel decided to train properly as an artist and to make a career for herself as a painter.† She began by returning to England and enrolling as a student at the Slade School of Art, where she soon discovered how much she had to learn.† However, she found it lonely in London lodgings, knowing no one, and soon left, to go to Florence to study with Belucci.
Source: Memorabilia p78 but Isabel doesnít give a date and I do find her exact whereabouts at any time over the next few years rather hard to follow.
Comment from Sally: as with Dunelli, I havenít been able to identify an Italian artist of the mid-19th century called Belucci.† The spelling seems odd - BelLucci is more Italian.
Isabel spent some time studying painting as a member of Carolus Duranís atelier in Paris.
Source: Light: A Journal Devoted to the Highest Interests of Humanity, both Here and Hereafter.† London: Eclectic Publishing Co Ltd of 4 New Bridge Street Ludgate Circus.† Volume 1 January-December 1881 p87 issue of 19 March 1881, letter from Isabel: Ancient Mysteries.
NOT a source for this: Memorabilia, in which studying in Paris, and studying with Duran, is never mentioned.
Comment from Sally: thereís plenty of coverage on the web of Carolus Duran, who is the dapper-looking man, painted by John Singer Sargent and shown on the front cover of the catalogue of the 2015 Sargent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.† If Isabelís period as a pupil of Carolus Duran lasted into 1874 she might have coincided with John Singer Sargent, who began work in Duranís atelier in the middle of that year.†
Having been unable to settle in either London or Florence, Isabel returned to Egypt and spent the winter there, thinking about her long-term future.† This period of reflection resulted in her rejecting the idea of moving to Paris and choosing instead to return to England and make a better go of things in London.
Source: Memorabilia p78.
Comment from Sally: Iíd say Isabel had been a bit too keen to move on after her husbandís death.† Always an active woman, she had needed something to do, but it was too soon to be deciding what and where, with her husband not properly mourned yet.
Henry Cassels Kay retired from Tod Rathbone and Co and returned to England.† He and his wife Jane Ann went to live at 11 Durham Villas Kensington.
Source: Times 9 June 1903 p10: obituary of Henry Cassels Kay.
Isabel returned to London and found rooms, firstly in Young Street off Kensington High Street, and later elsewhere in Kensington, at 8 Hornton Street, a house owned by another woman artist, a Mrs Charity.† She spent one term at Heatherleyís School of Art, where artists could go if they were more or less trained but as yet had no studio of their own.† She settled down to improve her figure-painting technique and to do some oil paintings of a high-enough standard to be exhibited.† She also began to build a new social life for herself, singing as a contralto in the choir which was based in the new Royal Albert Hall; and joining the Wagner Society.
Source for Isabel in London: Memorabilia p90, p92-93, p107, p123.
Source for founding of the Wagner Society in England:
The Pursuit of High Culture: John Ella and Chamber Music in Victorian London by Christina Bashford 2007.† On p304 London Wagner Society founded 1872 by Edward Dannreuther.
For Heatherleyís see its website at www.heatherleys.org.† A list of its well-known ex-pupils includes Byrne Jones, Millais, Leighton and Kate Greenaway.
Comment by Sally Davis: though Isabel wasnít at Heatherleyís for long, she might have coincided there with two other future GD members: Henrietta Farr and Henry Marriott Paget, who married each other in 1879.† I havenít been able to tie down exactly when the Pagets were students, but it was some time during the 1870s.†
Source for Henrietta and Henry at Heatherleyís: The Correspondence of Samuel Butler with his Sister May edited and with an introduction by Daniel F Howard.† University of Cambridge Press; University of California Press 1962: p80, letter dated 21 August 1879 and written while Butler was in Switzerland; and footnote 2 on p81.
Isabel also joined the British National Association of Spiritualists (BNAS).
Source for BNAS: its descendant, the College of Psychic Studies.† See its website at †† The College has the archive of BNAS and a complete run of its magazine Light, first issued on 8 January 1881 and still being published now.† The BNAS was founded in 1873.
Source for Isabel joining it: Memorabilia p139.
Comment by Sally on the importance of the BNAS to Isabel: although she doesnít mention it specifically, itís clear from Memorabilia that Isabelís membership of the BNAS led to many friendships, and helped her settle to life in London.† However, most of Isabelís spiritualist friends are not mentioned in Memorabilia.
1 JANUARY 1875
The Theosophical Society was founded in the USA by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott.
Sources: I got the information from www.open.ac.uk/researchprojects/makingbritain/content/theosophical-society
Isabelís younger brother, the solicitor William Henry Lace, died, aged 40.
Source: Probate Registry.
Comment by Sally Davis: almost certainly (and like his father) a most reluctant solicitor, William Henry was the last member of the Lace family to work for the family legal firm; though out of respect especially to Isabelís uncle Ambrose Lace, the name was kept in the firmís title for many years.† I canít find any evidence that William Henry married - he certainly hadnít by census day 1871 when his sister Constantia was keeping house for him.
Isabelís sister Helenaís son Verney Cameron Turnbull was born, in Ewell in Kent.† The only other member of the Lace family to publish a book, he was one of Isabelís beneficiaries in her Will.
Sources: freebmd and Will of Isabelle Elizabeth de Steiger dated 6 March 1924.
PROBABLY MID-LATE 1870s
Isabel waded into the ongoing debate about whether women could paint great art - or at all - by rebutting some criticisms of works by women in the Royal Academy shows.† She wrote letters to the papers saying that if women paintersí technique was poor it was only because the RA wouldnít let them train in its school.† As a result (she thought) not only did the RA refuse to show any of her work for many years, she was also rejected by the Society of Women Artists.† Eventually, the RA did exhibit one of Isabelís works but they got her name wrong, reading it - and consequently labelling it - as by ďMiss F SteegerĒ.
Source: Memorabilia p107, p110, p130-31
Comment by Sally: I wonder if the RA would have accepted Isabelís painting, if theyíd got her name right?!† Paintings by Isabel from this period include one called Cleopatra and the Priestess - perhaps the first of several Isabel painted which featured Cleopatra as the major figure - and another entitled Aurora at Dawn.† However, Isabel doesnít say which painting sneaked into the RA show, or when it was exhibited.† I need to do more work on all the artists who were in the GD so I might be able to find out later.
AGAIN PROBABLY MID-LATE 1870s
Isabel read at least some works by the French spiritualist and writer Allen Kardec.† She read them in the translations by Anna Blackwell (who later joined the GD) though she doesnít seem to have known Blackwell personally.† Kardec had invented the concept which Blackwell translated with the word Ďspiritismí, which attempted to put together spiritualism with reincarnation.
Source for Blackwellís translations of Kardec into English: British Library catalogue.
1875 Spiritualist Philosophy: the Spiritsí Book
††††††††††††††††††††††† 1876 Experimental Spiritism: the Mediumís Book
††††††††††††††††††††††† 1878 Practical Spiritism: Heaven and Hell.
Source for Isabel reading Kardec: Memorabilia p153 but she doesnít mention which of these she read; perhaps she read all of them as they were meant to be read as a set.† Despite Blackwellís efforts, spiritism didnít catch on in the UK even amongst spiritualists.
BEGINNING OF 1877
Isabelís sister-in-law Theodosia Fanny Lace died (wife of Joshua Verney Lovett Lace), aged 42.† Isabelís eldest sister Constantia moved in with her brother at Christleton Old Hall to look after his three young children.
Sources: freebmd and census 1881.
12 FEBRUARY 1878
Theodosia Laceís widower, Isabelís brother Joshua Verney Lovett Lace, died aged 46.† Constantia became legal guardian of her two nieces and her nephew.
Probate registry information including the guardianship of Theodosia Catherine Lovett Lace, Charles Verney Lace and Josephine Constance Stanley Lace, all still minors.
London Gazette 23 April 1878.
Comment by Sally Davis on this sequence of deaths: there seem to be two trends in the Lace family: one is to die very young - which doesnít just affect the men; and the other is to live to a remarkable age.† Isabelís sister Constantia stayed living with at Old Christleton Hall with her nieces and nephew until **WHEN EXACTLY DO THEY LEAVE??† All three of the children died relatively young.
A RATHER SORRY NOTE ON WHICH TO END ISABEL DE STEIGER PART 1.
ISABEL DE STEIGER PART 2 COVERS MID-1878 TO MID-1891
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.† As far as I know, the records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have not survived either.
Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burkeís Peerage and Baronetage; Burkeís Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.
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.† Very good on bankruptcies!
Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD.† Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.† Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.
Catalogues: British Library; 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.
COPYRIGHT SALLY DAVIS
5 January 2016
Email me at AMandragora@attglobal.net
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: