This is the second of my three files on Florence
Elizabeth Sherard Kennedy, who was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the
Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London,
in May 1891. As well as Florence, five other
people were initiated that evening: Florence’s
sister Cecilia Macrae; Cecilia’s sister-in-law Louisa Ida Macrae; Augustus
Montague Cooper; Agnes Alicia de Pallandt; and Emily Katharine Bates.
Florence chose the Latin motto ‘Volo’. She was not the first person
to have opted for it - Oliver Firth, initiated in 1888, had got there first.
However, Florence was allowed to have her choice
because Firth was a member of the GD’s Horus, temple in Bradford,
so that references to them weren’t likely to get mixed up.
Florence and her sister were committed Isis-Urania temple members
during the 1890s. They both did the necessary study and were initiated into its
inner, 2nd Order, in the autumn of 1892. However, whereas Cecilia
Macrae was involved with Stella Matutina, as late as the 1920s, Florence did not join any
of the GD’s daughter orders.
Believe it or not, this is one of my short
biographies. It covers Florence’s
life until the death of her first husband. She lived for 50 more years! With
access to Florence Kennedy’s papers, I am sure I could have written a
full-length book. However, the papers are in Athens. I’d love to go and work through them,
but I can’t afford to stay in Greece
long enough to do them justice.
Short it may be, but this biography is still in
- the Laings, which you
can find on my GD Index page under ‘the two Macraes’. It includes coverage of
Cecilia, Florence and their siblings growing up
in a very wealthy family; and also of their first cousin Agnes Cathcart, née
Baxter, who was a GD member in Edinburgh.
This file is the second one of the three:
in the GD and TS, and her early art training.
And then there’s the third one:
and her husband Edward Sherard Kennedy; their work as artists; and the last few
years of the marriage.
My basic sources for any GD member are in a section
at the end of the file. Supplementary sources for this particular member are
listed at the end of each section.
Just reiterating here that his
is the second file of three: what I have found on FLORENCE ELIZABETH SHERARD
KENNEDY, née Laing; who was known as Flo or Floy to her friends.
IN THE GD
Florence and her elder sister Cecilia joined the GD together and
they tended to act as a duo within the Order. In order to be allowed into the
GD’s inner, 2nd Order, members had to study a wide range of occult
texts and pass a series of exams. In May 1892, Cecilia borrowed a large number
of manuscripts from William Wynn Westcott’s unofficial GD library (essentially,
his own collection of occult books) in order to begin this daunting programme.
I’m sure she intended to work through them with Florence. The careful study of difficult
documents, and the being examined on them by experts in the field, were not
something either sister is likely to have done before. They both passed the
exams, though, and became 2nd Order members in the same month.
In 1893, with the GD looking for a new set of
rooms for meetings and rituals, the sisters were entrusted with the task of
inspecting a possible venue in Albert
Street, just behind Mornington Crescent station. They visited
it together, and agreed that it wasn’t suitable. The search eventually ended
with the renting of rooms in Oakley
Square, a few minutes’ walk away.
They also tended to act as one during the various
controversies that engulfed the GD in the mid-1890s.
The first of those was GD founder Samuel Liddell
Mathers’ expulsion of Annie Horniman from the GD in the autumn of 1896. It was
thought at the time, and has been the general view since, that Mathers did it
because Annie had stopped paying him and his wife Mina/Moina the allowance she
had been giving them for the last few years. I think there’s also evidence that
Mathers felt threatened by Annie’s increasing influence within the GD, where
she was respected for her understanding of magic and as a hard-working member
of Isis-Urania temple.
Mathers tried to out-flank those who were likely
to criticise his decision, by widening his field of attack - he made charges of
insubordination against quite a few other GD members, including both Florence and Cecilia. The
sisters were some of Annie’s many personal friends in the GD - presumably
that’s why Mathers accused them. But it was Florence
that Annie wrote to later, telling her that the cutting off of her supply of
money to the Mathers was the real reason why she had been ejected; which
suggests that Florence
was the sister that Annie knew best. In December 1896/January 1897 Frederick
Leigh Gardner organised a petition that pleaded with Mathers for Annie to be
and Cecilia both signed it; but when Mathers made it a matter of obedience that
the petition be dropped, both submitted to his authority. However, the
necessity for submission to Mathers had made Florence
very angry, more so than Cecilia: Florence
had thought that the wording of the petition had been sufficiently humble to
appease even Mathers, and was disgusted to find that it wasn’t. She went to
William Wynn Westcott (the other founder of the GD) to ask him to intervene;
only to find Westcott doing what he usually did in a GD crisis - nothing,
thereby avoiding conflict with more aggressive personalities. Westcott told Florence that the GD
members should bow to Mathers as a great magician, even on issues that didn’t
really involve magic.
Mathers’ fury at Annie Horniman’s refusal to finance
him any more was because he had no other income. He did not intend to get paid
work and perhaps even thought it was his and Mina’s right to have their magical
work supported by the Order with money. The end of Annie’s funding meant that
for the rest of the 1890s, GD members regularly found themselves having to send
money to the Mathers, to finance their occult work, their rent and their other
expenses. Though it must have gone against the grain with her, Florence did send £10 to them to tide them
over one of these crises, in 1897.
The later 1890s in the GD’s Isis-Urania temple
were characterised by the growth of groups within the larger group, where small
numbers of members would meet regularly to pursue particular interests. The
first such group was begun by Frederick Leigh Gardner and Frederick William
Wright, in the spring of 1897. They invited Westcott to join them, he invited
Reena Fulham Hughes and Cecilia Macrae to join, and the group ended by being
Westcott’s group. Florence
was the last to be recruited into this sub-group: I expect Westcott was aware
that he had disappointed her in the uproar over Annie Horniman. She agreed to
join, though, provided the group met at times that were convenient. Monday
afternoons were convenient to her and during 1897 the group mostly met at those
times. However, by March 1898 Florence and Mrs
Fulham Hughes had both given up going; Florence
possibly doing so for reasons not connected with the GD.
Florence and Cecilia got on reasonably well with Frederick Leigh Gardner,
but they seem to have been in a minority. Others - particularly the younger
women - complained so often about his rudeness, arrogance and militaristic way
of ordering the rituals, that in the end, in 1897, Florence Farr (now in charge
of the GD’s daily administration) decided she couldn’t have such a divisive
personality in the Isis-Urania temple any longer, and sent him to run the Horus
Temple in Bradford instead.
It was Florence Kennedy that Gardner wrote to on 14 October 1897,
complaining that Florence Farr had made her decision without hearing his side
of the argument, and demanding that he have his say. But it was Cecilia who
wrote back to him to say how sorry she was to hear that he had been ordered out
of Isis-Urania. Cecilia was wondering how much longer the GD could continue in
the face of so many upheavals and arguments. The sisters discussed whether they
should both send in their resignations. In the end, they decided they wouldn’t,
in case their departures should be the final straw when it seemed that the GD
might unravel at any moment.
Cecilia sent a second letter, telling Gardner what she and Florence
had decided to do. The letter didn’t contain any suggestion that Florence shared her sadness at Gardner’s enforced departure. If Florence wrote back to
him, the letter hasn’t survived. There were reasons for why Florence’s views may have differed from
Cecilia’s on this issue. Florence may have
shared the majority view of Gardner’s
behaviour. It’s also likely that Florence
would have supported Florence Farr’s decision in any case: the two Florences
had become good friends. I’m sure Gardner was
aware of this, which is why it was Florence’s
help he had tried to obtain, rather than Cecilia’s, in fighting his dismissal.
In the late 1890s Florence Farr often visited Florence and Edward Kennedy at their country home - The
Cottage, Edenbridge, in Kent.
In fact, Florence Farr had written the letter dismissing Gardner
from the Isis-Urania temple, at The Cottage, when she was staying there in
August 1897; and had probably discussed the problems caused by Gardner’s behaviour with Florence Kennedy.
Florence Farr went to stay with Florence Kennedy for a longer period in 1900, to support her in the months after husband had died.
The friendship between the two Florences made it
inevitable that Florence Farr should invite Florence Kennedy to join her Sphere
Group, set up to delve further into Egyptian magic, a branch of magic that
Florence Farr had researched. The records of this group - if there were any -
haven’t survived, but it’s thought to have been in existence between 1897 and
1901, and the members of it are known, more or less, as Robert Felkin made a
note of their names. As well as the two Florences, and Cecilia Macrae, there
was Marcus Worsley Blackden, another expert on Egyptian magic and one who had
actually been to Egypt;
Harriet Butler; Robert Felkin; Edmund Hunter; Dorothea Hunter; Henrietta Paget;
Helen Rand; Robert Palmer Thomas; and Ada Waters. Though Felkin didn’t include
her name in his list, it’s possible that Reena Fulham Hughes might also have
been in the Group. When Mathers himself was ejected from the GD in 1900, it was
members of the Sphere Group who took over the management of the Order; though
Florence Kennedy was not one of those appointed.
AFTER THE GD
Florence’s husband Edward died in January 1900 and she was not an
active member of the GD after that. However, friendships made through the GD
were still important to her. In 1902, W B Yeats mentioned in a letter that Florence had been paying
£3 a week for the last year, for Althea Gyles to be cared for in a sanatorium.
Margaret Alethea Gyles, known as Althea Gyles (1868-1949), was from an
Anglo-Irish family and was a related to Florence and Cecilia in a distant way;
but she was also a friend of Annie Horniman; and for a short while had some
kind of relationship with Aleister Crowley, who was in the GD from 1898 to
1900. She was an artist and illustrator, poet and novelist; but her chaotic
lifestyle and self-neglect made her the despair of all who knew her and were
probably the reason why she was not thought suitable to join the GD herself. In
1900 she had been sent to the Hospital for Diseases of the Chest, on City Road in London, and perhaps this was the treatment that Florence’s money was
funding. I don’t know how long the payments went on.
ANY OTHER ESOTERIC INTERESTS?
It’s possible that Florence Kennedy was a member
of the Hermetic Society. No list of the members of the Hermetic Society was ever
published, however, so only a few names of members are known. The Society was
founded by Anna Bonus Kingsford and her occult co-worker Edward Maitland, for
the study of western esotericism. It met between April and July in 1884, 1885
and 1886. In 1886 if not before, both founders of the GD were members: William
Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell Mathers.
The membership registers of the Theosophical
Society show both Florence
and Cecilia joining the TS between 1898 and 1901. That registers may not tell
the whole story though. Handwritten notes on Florence’s record describe her as a
long-serving member, and as a member of London Lodge. London Lodge was founded
in 1876, before the TS itself was set up in London, and for many years it held itself aloof from the TS in general, had its own finances
and kept its own records. So there’s actually no telling when the sisters first
joined the TS. Later on (the TS’s records don’t say exactly when) Cecilia and
Florence moved from London Lodge to join Blavatsky Lodge, where Helena Petrovna
Blavatsky herself held sway from May 1887, when she settled in London, to her
death in May 1891, around the time the sisters joined the GD. William Wynn
Westcott and Samuel Liddell Mathers were both active members of Blavatsky Lodge
during the 1880s, and that it was most likely through them that Florence and
Cecilia were invited to join the GD.
The GD records that have survived don’t seem to
know about Florence’s
remarriage (in December 1902); but the TS knew her new surname. In December
acted as co-sponsor for a new member, so she must still have been going to TS
meetings regularly at that time. The new member was Miss Margaret Scott-Kerr of
St James’s Park; Florence’s
co-sponsor was Katherine Burke. Florence
continued to send the TS a £20 donation/subscription each year until February
1909. At that point she resigned, one of the many members to do so when Annie
Besant was elected TS president for life, in succession to Colonel Olcott.
Cecilia resigned a few weeks later. Despite the change of lodge, and despite
her resignation from the TS, Cecilia kept up a friendship with Alfred Percy and
Patience Sinnett, who had been London Lodge’s foremost members in the 1880s. Florence, however,
doesn’t seem to have been particularly friendly with the Sinnetts.
Except in a few cases, where they were actively
involved in the most prominent spiritualist societies, it has been difficult to
tell whether GD members were spiritualists. Most spiritualism went on in people’s
homes and was not reported even to local spiritualist newspapers. However,
during a run through copies of the magazine Light I found that Florence did attend two
seances, and went to one meeting of the London Spiritualist Alliance; all
within a few weeks at the beginning of 1887. The LSA meeting she went to took
place at the LSA’s usual venue, the banqueting hall of St James’s Hall (which
had entrances on Piccadilly and Regent
Street). She went with Edward, and Cecilia and
Charles Colin Macrae, on Friday 28 January 1887. The speaker that night was
Charles Carleton Massey, who spoke on The Application of Spiritualism to
Scientific Research. After any talk at the LSA, time was allowed for meeting
and greeting; so the Kennedys and Macraes could have been introduced to future
GD members Isabel de Steiger and Catherine Amy Passingham, both of whom also
attended that talk. I don’t think the LSA impressed Florence and Edward: they never went to
another event organised by the LSA. Cecilia did go to a few more talks during
the spring of 1887, however, and could have met future GD members Dr Edward
William Berridge, Henry and Rose Pullen Burry, and Agnes Alicia, Baroness de
Pallandt – initiated at the same ritual as Florence and Cecilia - at one or the other of
Florence’s sudden, brief, interest in the doings
of the LSA must have come about because in mid-January 1887, the Macraes had
invited the well-known professional medium William Eglinton, to lead two
seances at their house, 6 Cambridge Terrace Regent’s Park; and Florence was
present at both seances. Eglinton was best known as an automatic writing medium
but in the seances at the Macraes’ house he also made lights and a ghostly
figure appear, moved furniture about the room, and levitated to the ceiling
before collapsing, too exhausted to continue (not surprising under the
circumstances). On 16 January 1887, two days after the second séance, Charles
Colin Macrae wrote an account of what had happened, from notes he’d made at the
time. He sent it to Light, with a paragraph of corroboration by Cecilia and a
had sent him about how she had experienced what had gone on. All three pieces
of writing were published in Light’s issue of 19 February 1887. Florence’s letter
attested to the furniture which moved about the room; and stated that she had
kept hold of Eglinton’s hand throughout, even when he levitated almost to the
ceiling. She agreed with Charles Colin’s description of Eglinton as having
spasms of trembling during the séance which went “all up one arm, and down the
other”. Perhaps Florence
was more sensitive than either Cecilia or Charles Colin Macrae, though, because
unlike them, she had seen “an indistinct white form, taller than my head”. It
had spoken to her. She had asked it to touch her and had felt her own cheek
rubbed by another cheek. She had exclaimed “Oh, can’t you see it?”; but neither of the Macraes had been able to. The figure
shrank to become a white globe about the size of a head, and had then faded
away altogether. Florence
also heard voices – indistinct and at a distance - which neither Charles Colin
nor Cecilia had heard.
There’s no clue in the joint article in Light as
to whether this séance with Eglinton was the first that Florence, Cecilia and Charles Colin had ever
attended. My own feeling is that they were not regular séance-goers: if they
had been, I think I would have seen them mentioned in Light more often.
Freemasons’ Library: GD collection GD2/2/8a
Receipts for items borrowed from William Wynn Westcott during period 1891-1892.
Receipt signed 1 May 1892 by Cecilia Macrae.
Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and
Priestesses by Mary K Greer. Rochester Vermont:
Park Street Press 1995: p184 quoting Yorke Collection: New Springback Folder,
letter Florence Kennedy to Frederick Leigh Gardner 6 January 1897. Beware her
p246 though: she says that Florence Kennedy died in 1900; it was Florence’s husband who
Howe (publication details in Sources section):
p102; pp142-44; p170; p173; pp181-82.
Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection
catalogue number NS73 - letters mostly to Frederick Leight Gardner, but
occasionally copies of letters sent by him:
- copy of a letter from
Frederick Leigh Gardner to Florence Kennedy 14 October 1897.
- letters William Wynn Westcott to Frederick Leigh
Gardner 17 May 1897 and 31 May 1897 about the group Gardner and Wright were
trying to bring together.
- two letters from
Cecilia Macrae to Frederick Leigh Gardner, 19 October and 24 October 1897; from
FLORENCE’S EGYPTIAN/SPHERE GROUP:
Cauda Pavonis was the newsletter/journal of the Hermetic Text Society. At www.alchemywebsite.com/cauda.html there is a list of articles published in it, beginning 1982
but it’s not published any longer. When it was published it was issued by the
Department of English, Washington State University
at Pullman. Volumes 11-16 1992 pp7-12 article by Sharon E Cogdill on Florence
Farr’s Sphere Group.
The Alchemist of the Golden Dawn: Letters of
the Revd William Alexander Ayton to Frederick Leigh Gardner and Others
1886-1905 edited and with introduction by
Ellic Howe. Aquarian Press 1985: p93, letter from William Alexander Ayton to
Frederick Leigh Gardner of 9 October 1900.
There’s a wikipedia page, saying that she moved to
London in 1892
and studied at the Slade. She’s also in ODNB.
There’s no mention of Florence Kennedy in Collected
Letters of W B Yeats Volume I. Collected Letters of W B Yeats Volume
II 1896-1900 does mention Florence
and Althea Gyles on p611 footnote 8.
Collected Letters of W B Yeats Volume III 1901-04 p32 footnote 4 another list of Sphere
Group members, with the same 12 names but also suggesting p33 Reena Fulham
Hughes, who is not on the Cauda Pavonis list. Florence’s payments towards Althea Gyles’
treatment: P198 and footnote 1; letter dated 9 June 1902.
The founding of the Society in spring 1884, and
its meetings over the next three years, were covered
by Light; but only to the extent of announcing dates of meetings and speakers;
and publishing the texts of talks that weren’t going to be published elsewhere.
In 1884 when the Society was founded, some of the committee members were named
in Light. After that, only the speakers at meetings, and some people who took
part in the subsequent discussions were named. From those meagre pickings I
have been able to discover that future GD members William Forsell Kirby and
Isabel de Steiger were members. I can hazard a guess at some other people but
the Society was a private one and no full list of members was ever published in
Light or elsewhere. So if Florence
was a member, I haven’t come across any proof.
I did a sweep through issues of Light from its
first year, in 1881, to 1890; and also read 1894, 1897 and 1900. 1887 is the
only year Florence Kennedy appeared in it. Light: A Journal of Psychical,
Occult and Mystical Research published by the Eclectic Publishing Company
of 16 Craven Street London WC; which had close links with the
London Spiritualist Alliance. The account of the séance with Eglinton: pp83-85
issue of 19 February 1887. Massey’s talk at the LSA: p61 issue of 5 February
1887. Cecilia attending talks which Florence
didn’t go to: p121 issue of 19 March 1887; p227 issue of 21 May 1887; p313
issue of 9 July 1887.
Theosophical Society Membership Register June
1898-February 1901 p37
Autobiography of Alfred Percy Sinnett, unedited version published by the Theosophical History
Centre London 1986. Mostly written 1916 but an addition
starting again from p1 at the end. There’s no mention of Florence in this account,
though several of Cecilia. A P Sinnett was still going to stay with Cecilia and
her husband as late as 1918.
Cecilia Macrae (born 1848) and Florence Kennedy
(born 1853) were two of the five daughters of Samuel Laing (1812-97) and his
wife Mary Dickson Cowan (1819-1902); there were also five sons, three of whom
FLORENCE AS AN ARTIST: PART 1
I’ve said in my file on the Laing family that I
haven’t got any certain information about how the Laing sisters were educated:
what they learned and who taught it them is a mystery. However, in the 1880s
paintings by Florence
were accepted by major galleries for exhibition; and she must have learned that
standard of painting somewhere. This is a piece of speculation, but I’m going
to suggest that Florence attended painting
classes in Dresden
during the winter of 1869-70. She certainly was in Dresden at that time, because she met the
American artist Anna Lea (later Anna Lea Merritt) there that winter. Anna had
gone to Dresden
specifically to learn to paint in the studio of Heinrich Hofmann. In her
Memoir, Anna doesn’t actually say that Florence
was a fellow art student; but I think it’s a reasonable assumption to make.
Heinrich Hofmann was famous for most of his career
as a painter, but changing styles in art were making his work look very
old-fashioned by the end of his life and have caused him to be forgotten since.
After a training in Germany,
Belgium and Italy, he settled in Dresden in 1862 and remained there until his
death in 1911. His religious paintings were much admired at the time and much
copied, especially his paintings of scenes from the life of Jesus. He was
appointed to a professorship at the Dresden
academy, but not until June 1870; so Anna Lea - and Florence, if my hunch is correct - must have
been private pupils, working in his studio.
Florence was the only member of the Laing family that Anna Lea says
she met that winter. Anna’s Memoir reads as if Florence
was in Dresden
on her own, but I’m sure she was not - she was only 16. The Laings often
and had many friends there. I doubt if Florence’s
parents would have let her go to Dresden
for a stay of - possibly - several months, if she had not been able to stay
with people they knew.
Anna Lea left Dresden
for Paris early
in 1870. She was settling in nicely there when the Franco-Prussian War broke
out and caused her to have to opt for England as the place to continue
her painting lessons. Hearing of Anna’s unexpected arrival in London,
invited her to Sunday tea with the whole Laing family. In her Memoir, Anna
describes both Florence and Cecilia Laing (later Macrae) as becoming life-long
friends as a result of that tea party; but in the Memoir Cecilia is mentioned
far more, and Florence not at all after around 1900. It’s likely that Anna Lea
Merritt and Florence Kennedy were close friends in the 1880s. However, a break-point
in their relationship came in 1891, with both Anna and Florence renting houses in the country but
not near each other. Anna moved permanently to Hurstbourne Tarrant on the edge
of Salisbury Plain; she mentions Cecilia visiting her there, but not Florence. Florence and her husband took a house in Kent near the border with Surrey; while keeping
a house in London
In the 1880s Anna Lea Merritt was living in Tite Street Chelsea,
where her friends included the artists Whistler, Burne-Jones, G F Watts, Lord
Leighton, Holman Hunt and others. It’s possible (see the third file in this
sequence) that Florence
knew them already but if she didn’t, she could have met them through Anna.
As part of her training, Anna Lea asked many of
her acquaintances to sit for their portrait. She was especially pleased with
the one she did of Florence, and Florence allowed it to be shown at the Royal Academy
If Florence and
Anna continued to train as painters together, in England, in the early 1870s, Anna
doesn’t mention it in her Memoir. One critic spoke in 1879 of Florence’s painting A Quiet Corner as being
“French-like in execution”. He also described her technique as “delicate” but
that doesn’t mean anything in particular: it was something frequently said by
male critics of paintings by women, signifying that their work had not stepped
outside the allotted female sphere of the small and the un-heroic. I haven’t
come across anything that says where, when or with whom Florence
might have acquired the ability to paint in a style that British critics
associated with France;
though I do put forward some suggestions below, in my third file on Florence
Love Locked Out: the
Memoirs of Anna Lea Merritt with a Checklist of Her Works ed Galina Gorokhoff. Boston:
Museum of Fine Arts. No publication date but the
British Library stamp has “Sep 83": pxiv for Anna’s account of her art
training, and the sudden enforced move to London.
On pxv: Anna Lea married the painting conservator and art critic Henry Merritt
in 1877 but he died only a few months afterwards. On pxvi for Anna’s Chelsea based artist
friends. Ppxix-pxix: the move to Hurstbourne Tarrant, where died on 7 April
Mentions of Florence:
p55, p77, p81, p195. Just noting here that Edward Sherard
Kennedy is not mentioned at all in Anna’s Memoir.
The books’ checklist of paintings begins p239 with
works from 1867. Anna’s portrait of Florence Laing: p241.
Anna Lea Merritt’s portrait of Florence must be the one you can see at this
Florence kept it and it is now in the Gennadius
Library in Athens.
See also www.ascsa.edu.gr
On Heinrich Hofmann, there’s a wikipedia page with
the correct training and professional details but the wrong name: Heinrich Karl
Johann Hofmann. The man who taught Anna Lea Merritt and perhaps Florence Laing
was Johann Michael Ferdinand Heinrich Hofmann.
Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler. Siebzehnter Band 1924 p260 in German so
I couldn’t read the list of his works.
Benezit Dictionary of Artists
volume 7. Published
Gründ 2006 in English: p196 with the same name as in the Lexikon but with very
Building News and Engineering Journal volume 38 p535: review of the 1879 exhibition at the
Grosvenor Galleries. Florence’s
oil painting A Quiet Corner was in the exhibition.
The third file in this sequence on Florence
Kennedy looks at the years 1879 to 1900, the period in which Florence was married to her first husband,
Edward Sherard Kennedy.
BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.
Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn
Companion by R A Gilbert. Northampton:
The Aquarian Press 1986. Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names,
initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and
1914. The list is based on the Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its
Members’ Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed
their name at their initiation. All this information had been inherited by
Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of
England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden. Please note, though, that
the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh
were destroyed in 1900/01. I have recently (July 2014) discovered that some
records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have survived, though most have not;
however those that have survived are not yet accessible to the public.
For the history of the GD during the 1890s I
usually use Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary
History of a Magical Order 1887-1923. Published Routledge
and Kegan Paul 1972. Foreword by Gerald Yorke.
Howe is a historian of printing rather than of magic; he also makes no claims
to be a magician himself, or even an occultist. He has no axe to grind.
Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census
and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s
Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family
trees on the web.
Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of
course, but very useful even for the female members of GD. Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography. Who Was Who. Times
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.
For the GD members who were freemasons, the membership
database of the United Grand Lodge of England is now available via Ancestry: it
gives the date of the freemason’s first initiation; and the craft lodges he was
a member of.
To take careers in craft freemasonry further, the
website of the the Freemasons’ Library is a good resource:
//freemasonry.london.museum. Its catalogue has very detailed entries and the
website has all sorts of other resources.
You can get from the pages to a database of
freemasons’ newspapers and magazines, digitised to 1900. You can also reach
that directly at www.masonicperiodicals.org.
Wikipedia; Google; Google Books
- my three best resources. I also used
other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view
- they vary in quality a great deal.
To put contemporary prices and incomes into
perspective, I have used www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare which Roger Wright found for me. To help you interpret the
‘today’ figure, measuringworth gives several options. I pick the ‘historic
standard of living’ option which is usually the lowest, often by a considerable
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
26 July 2018
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: