I have prepared this file as a ‘thank you’ to Ernie Pollard, who has given me a lot of help with the family of GD members Cecilia Macrae and Florence Kennedy. He felt that I had not given Cecilia and Florence’s sister Mary Eliza enough coverage; and, having made an effort online and elsewhere over the last few weeks, I agree with him.

Just to make things clear: Mary Eliza was never a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.


I’ve already covered the family background of Cecilia and Florence in my files on them and on the Laing family. Here I’ll just repeat that Samuel Laing and Mary Cowan married in 1840. They had ten children, five boys and five girls; two of the boys died young. Mary Eliza Laing was the fifth of the ten, born in south London early in 1850, younger than Cecilia but older than Florence. Samuel Laing made a fortune from careful investments in railways and iron-working, and his children grew up in an affluent household.

In an interview given in 1893, Mary Eliza said that the Laing daughters were mostly educated at home by governesses; which is what you would expect for the daughters of wealthy people at that time. She described herself as doing very badly at lessons with a series of governesses, only responding to what she was being taught after she was sent away to school. In her late teens she spent time in Germany; whether this was also at school or with a family, improving her German, wasn’t discussed in the interview.

Mary Eliza Laing married Edward Kennard in 1870. They bought a house and some land, known as The Barn, in Little Bowden just outside Market Harborough. In 1893 the house was described as a hunting-box, giving me the impression of something quite small; and calling it ‘the barn’ these days has a ‘grand designs’ feel, of an ex-cowshed turned into a home. However, The Barn was a big house which sounds purpose-built, with fourteen bedrooms and five reception rooms; never mind all the outbuildings of stables and barns that would be needed to keep the household fed and able to travel and hunt.

Sources so far: information in my other files on various members of the Laing family; freebmd, 1911 census.

Notable Women Authors of the Day: Biographical Sketches by Helen C Black. Originally published Glasgow: David Bryce and Son 1893. Seen online in a version published Brighton: Victorian Secrets Ltd 2011; editors Troy J Bassett and Catherine Pope: pp177-85.

As at 12 October 2018 I haven’t found out anything at all about the school Mary Eliza was sent to; other than its name – St Germain’s - and that it was in Hampshire; information she gave Helen Black.

The Writers of Leicestershire by Michael Raftery. Leicestershire Libraries and Information Service 1985 p56.

THE KENNARDS had probably been business acquaintances of Samuel Laing for years by the time Mary Eliza married Edward.

The Kennards started their rise to wealth in the first half of the 19th century, as partners in the bank known from 1850 as Heywood, Kennards and Co. The partners in 1845 were William Joseph Denison, great-uncle of GD member Albertina Herbert; John Pemberton Heywood; John Peirse Kennard and Henry Hewitt Kennard.

Edward Kennard’s father was Robert William Kennard (1800-70), a son of John Kennard, the original Kennard member of the bank. Robert William didn’t go into the bank, but made (and lost) fortunes in iron-working, with foundries in Falkirk, Scotland and the Blaenavon works in South Wales, in which his descendants continued to be involved at least until the 1930s. From iron-working it was a natural step to investment in railways. Robert William Kennard began to buy shares in railway companies as early as the 1830s, and that will be how he will have come across Samuel Laing. Iron-working was a particularly up-and-down business, though, very dependent on the state of the world economy. In 1879 a short but severe recession caused the Blaenavon works to shut down and go into liquidation. Samuel Laing came to its rescue, forming a new company to buy the works. Other members of the Kennard family, including Mary Eliza’s husband and his elder brother, the second Robert William Kennard, were shareholders. Various Kennards continued to be directors of the company into the 1930s.


Some information on the history of the Royal Bank of Scotland at heritagearchives.rbs.com, taken from A Handbook of London Bankers by F G Hilton Price. London: Chatto and Windus 1876.

London Gazette no full date but 1845 p660 in a long list of banks: Denison Heywood Kennard and Co trading at 4 Lombard Street, with names of its current director/partners.

History of Technology volume 11 by Norman Smith published 2016 and already up on google: section on The Kennards and the Crumlin Viaduct.

At www.gwentarchives.gov.uk has an introduction to its archives of Blaenavon Ironworks, which cover 1696 to 1957.

At the National Library of Wales, papuraunewydd.llyfrgell.cymru - its collection of Welsh newspapers. From the Illustrated Usk Observer and Raglan Herald of 30 Mehfin [June] 1866.

Series of Times entries 1879 covering Blaenavon Iron and Steel Works being put up for sale; and being bought by Samuel Laing, several Kennards and others:

Times Fri 7 February 1879 p14.

Times Sat 22 March 1879 p17.

Times Mon 13 October 1879 p7.

Kelly’s Directory of Monmouthshire 1901 entry for Abergavenny and Blaenavon Co Ltd which owned 11000 acres, including the mineral rights of about 500 of the acres. There were currently 9 blast furnaces at the Blaenavon works, 3 rolling milles, 2 brick factories; and the works as a whole employed 5000 people.

In South Wales Coal Annual 1907 p105 a reference to the current Blaenavon Company Ltd having been formed in 1879, with Samuel Laing as its first chairman.

Stock Exchange Yearbook 1882 p247 lists the current directors of the Blaenavon Company Ltd: Samuel Laing who is chairman; J Brand; A C Kennard; H J Kennard, E F Quilter; W Smith; Capt F Pavy.

Mining Yearbook 1908 p650 has an advert-like entry for the Blaenavon Co Ltd. Current chairman is R W Kennard (Richard William the second). Other directors are: James R Baillie; A A Brand; E Kennard – that’s Mary Eliza’s husband; F J Gordon; and Charles Colin Macrae, husband of Mary Eliza’s GD member sister Cecilia. The company’s offices were in London, 86 Cannon Street.

I was more interested in the Blaenavon works but Edward and one of his sons were also actively involved with the Falkirk Iron Co Ltd also owned by the Kennard family. Edward had been a director; and his son Malcolm Alfred Kennard was its chairman when he died in 1934.

Foundry Trade Journal volume 50 1934 p205 obituary of Malcolm Alfred Kennard.


Edward’s parents, Robert William Kennard and his wife Mary Ann, lived at 37 Porchester Terrace in Bayswater, and at a country house called Theobalds, near Cheshunt. Edward was their youngest child, born at Theobalds in 1842. In the rearrangement of the family immediately after Robert William’s death in 1870, Edward was the family-member sent to be in residence at the Blaenavon ironworks. On the day of the 1871 census he and Mary Eliza were living at number 1 (of 3) Director’s Houses, at Blaenavon. Their staff were housed in number 1 and number 2: two butlers; a married-couple stable manager and housekeeper; and a general servant. At Blaenavon Cottage further down the street was John Paton, manager of the iron works and the mines associated with it; with his wife and family.

Edward may still have been Kennard-on-the-spot at Blaenavon in 1873, but I think that his elder brother, the younger Robert William Kennard, had taken over by 1881. By 1881, Edward and Mary had moved into The Barn, Little Bowden and Edward was never in charge at Blaenavon again. Although he was a director of some of the Kennard family businesses, Edward and Mary Eliza lived the lives of the wealthy leisured classes. They seem to have been a well-matched and happily married couple He painted in oil and watercolours, and was a keen photographer; and she was a keen and adept embroiderer. However, they were better known at the time, and there’s more information on them now, as members of the hunting, fishing and – later – motoring fraternity; all of them pursuits requiring a lot of money and a lot of free time. On the day of the 1881 census, they and their servants occupied three separate buildings at The Barn. In the actual house with that name were Edward; Mary Eliza; their sons Lionel (born 1872) and Malcolm (born 1876); the children’s governess and nurse; a butler; a footman; a cook; two housemaids and a kitchen maid. Elsewhere on the site, the coachman lived with his wife and three children. And in a third building four young men slept, all grooms and all described as lodgers, probably having their meals with the coachman. I make that 13 servants in all!

The births of her sons led directly to Mary Eliza’s career as a novelist: she began by making up bed-time stories for Lionel and Malcolm (later published as Travellers’ Tales) and started on her first full-length work (published as The Right Sort) when she found time hanging heavy after they had gone to boarding school.

LIST OF WORKS BY MARY ELIZA KENNARD IN BRITISH LIBRARY. The BL doesn’t have copies of all her works; and one non-fiction work was destroyed when the BL was bombed in World War 2. She’s in the BL catalogue as Mary E Kennard and as Mrs Edward Kennard, but the author’s name on her books seems always to have been ‘Mrs Edward Kennard’.

1883 Right Sort; or, a Romance of the Shires

London: Remington and Co

1884 Willie and His Pet Lamb. [A Tale]. This is a contribution to a book called For Their Sakes which is catalogued at the BL under Mrs R M Praed.

Rosa Praed, née Murray-Prior, was a fellow author and friend: she and her husband lived in Northamptonshire and a source from 1890 has her staying with Edward and Mary Eliza at Market Harborough during a race meeting. Mrs Praed knew Chapman of the publishers Chapman and Hall, who published her early works. She might have been responsible for Mary Eliza getting a contract with Chapman and Hall in 1886.

1886 The Girl in the Brown Habit. A Sporting Novel.

London: F V White and Co. This was also published in Toronto: National Publishing Co

1886 Twilight Tales. Illustrated by E Ellison

London: Chapman and Hall

1887 A Real Good Thing. A Sporting Novel.

London: F V White and Co.

1885 Killed in the Open. A Novel

London: Chapman and Hall. BL also has a 9th edition copy, published F V White and Co in 1893

1885 Straight as a Die: A Novel.

London: Chapman and Hall.

1888 A Crack County. A Novel.

London F V White and Co.

This was also published in Toronto: National Publishing Co.

1888 A Glorious Gallop. A Novel.

London: F V White and Co

1889 Landing a Prize. A Novel.

London: F V White and Co.

Another of several of Mary Eliza’s books that were published in Toronto: National Publishing Co.

A review of this novel from June 1889 says that it was set in Norway, on a river famous for its salmon-fishing. In her interview with Helen Black in 1893, Mary Eliza mentioned that she and Edward had spent several summers salmon fishing in Norway, and the obituary of their son Lionel stated that he too often fished there.

1889 Matron or Maid. A Novel.

Printed in Edinburgh. London: F V White and Co.

Another of several of Mary Eliza’s books that were published in Toronto: National Publishing Co.

1889 Our Friends in the Hunting Field. [Sporting Sketches].

London: F V White and Co

1890 The Mystery of a Woman’s Heart. A Novel.

London: F V White and Co.

1890 A Homburg Beauty. A Novel.

London: F V White and Co.

1891 That Pretty Little Horse-Breaker. A Novel.

London: White and Co. New edition 1921 London: Odhams

1892 Wedded to Sport. A Novel.

London: F V White and Co.

Another of several of Mary Eliza’s books that were published in Toronto: National Publishing Co.

And one chapter of The Fate of Fenella which was published in English in Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz 1892. 24 authors did one chapter each on the troubled marriage of Lord Frederick Onslow and his much younger wife Fenella. Mary Eliza wrote chapter 13 pp142-150, when Onslow was suffering remorse after neglecting Fenella for another woman. Fenella now lay dangerously ill and Onslow went to bring her son to her sick-bed; only to find that the other woman had taken him from the friends who were looking after him. For its time, the novel had rather an interesting ending: the death of Onslow, just as it appeared that he and Fenella were reunited. On the last page, Fenella went off with one of the other characters in the book, a man who had been her friend through all her troubles; likely to become her second husband.

Most of the 24 authors, I didn’t recognise; 2 were only identified by one-name pseudonyms in any case. Amongst the names I did recognise were: Fanny Trollope; Arthur Conan Doyle; and Bram Stoker. Also in the list was Justin McCarthy – see my notes on Rosa Praed.

1893 The Hunting Girl. A Novel.

London: White and Co

1893 Sporting Tales

London: F V White and Co

1894 Just Like a Woman. A Novel.

London: F V White and Co

1894 The Catch of the County. A Novel

London: F V White and Co

1895 The Plaything of an Hour; and Other Stories

London: F V White and Co.

1895 Fooled by a Woman. A Novel.

London: White.

According to one reference I found, this was about a woman who murdered her brother-in-law.

1896 The Sorrows of a Golfer’s Wife.

London: F V White and Co.

An original copy of this was for sale in October 2018 at www.harringtonbooks.co.uk. The website described this novel as the first publication by a woman to use a golfing theme. I got the impression, from its summing up of its plot, that it might have been a memoir rather than a novel. During an article published in Autocar volume 5 January-December 1900 p935 Mary Eliza declared that she had no interest in golf herself; she preferred motoring.

1896 A Riverside Romance. A Novel.

London: F V White and Co.

1896 A Guide Book for Lady Cyclists.

London: F V White and Co.

The BL’s only copy of this was destroyed in World War 2; which is a pity as it seems to be one of Mary Eliza’s few non-fiction books.

1897 At the Tail of the Hounds: A Novel.

London: F V White and Co.

1899 Morals of the Midlands: A Sporting Tale

London: Hutchinson and Co

1900 Tony Larkin, Englishman. [A Tale].

London: Hutchinson and Co

1902 The Golf Lunatic and his Cycling Wife. [A Novel].

London: Hutchinson and Co

1902 The Motor Maniac. A Novel

London: Hutchinson and Co

This book divided the reviewers into the car enthusiasts and the others: one of ‘the others’ found the books emphasis on the nuts and bolts of driving boring, and seems to have been unaware that Mary Eliza had put several of her motoring acquaintances into the book, thinly-disguised under slightly different names – Mr Pellin Sedge for S F Edge, for example. The reviewer in The Car illustrated liked the book better – he (I suppose it was a ‘he’) was impressed by Mary Eliza’s technical college and amused by the way the book’s heroine saw off the latest young woman to be her husband’s flirt. A very belated review in Motorsport June 1944 p17 also praised Mary Eliza’s “accurate mechanical and other detail” of the cars the heroine (Mrs Jenks) drove in the plot. They were cars Mary Eliza knew well: her husband’s Benz Ideal and Napier.

1903 A Professional Rider.

London: Anthony Treherne and Co

1903 A Son of the Fleet. [A Novel].

London: F V White and Co

That’s the end of the BL list. A late work which seems not to be in the BL catalogue is mentioned in Mary Eliza’s obituary in the Times. Apparently it was set in a German spa town just before World War 1 broke out. The Times didn’t give its title and (October 2018) I’m still trying to figure out how to search for it.

The publication dates of the BL list show clearly what an incredible outpouring of creativity Mary Eliza had between the late 1870s and 1903. She was helped by the fact that she was, really, writing genre fiction, where repeated elements of plot are expected; she didn’t really have to invent a completely new plot. Several reviews I read criticised her books for having similar plots and characters, and only slightly different settings: hunting, fishing and motoring. Readers didn’t seem to mind, though: Mary Eliza’s books were best-sellers; one at least went through nine editions to 1913 and by as early as 1893 she was well-enough known to be interviewed by Helen Black for her Notable Women Authors of the Day. Mary Eliza invited Helen Black to her home at The Barn. As well as the interview, Black got a tour of the house and stayed for dinner with the family.

After 1903, the BL catalogue doesn’t have any full length work by Mary Eliza. Perhaps she was just suffering from burn-out, but in the early 1900s a bad fall while out hunting left her unable to work at her desk for as long as she had been used to; and later in her life she went blind. She made a great deal of money during the 1880s and 1890s from her fiction; before being completely forgotten in her own lifetime, as so many widely-read 19th-century writers were.


In The Business of the Novel by Simon R Frost 2015, note 88 Mary Eliza’s 1896 The Guide Book for Lady Cyclists is listed with a similar publication, The Wheelwoman’s Handbook, published in 1897 by the Mowbray House Cycling Association. Frost describes both handbooks as being written by Mary Eliza. However, the BL catalogue doesn’t have an author’s name for The Wheelwoman’s Handbook; and follow up is now impossible because its only copy was destroyed.

And finally, a poem, catalogued by the BL as by Mary Kennard (no ‘E’). My Laing family contact thinks it is not Mary Eliza Kennard’s scene at all! But in case she had her poetic moments:

Rustle of Spring. Song. Words by Mary Kennard arranged by William Pearson. For voices and piano. Music by Christian Sinding 1856-1941.


Rosa Praed:

At //victorianfictionreseachguides, the guide number XV, by Chris Tiffin, is on Mrs R M Praed: born Rosa Caroline Murray-Prior, Queensland 1851, married 1872 Arthur Campbell Bulkley Praed. Rose and Campbell came to England in 1875 and settled in Northamptonshire, where Campbell Praed worked for a brewery.

At www.iapsop.com, Our Book of Memories: Letters of Justin McCarthy edited by Mrs Campbell Praed. Boston: Small Maynard and Co. The BL has the British edition: Chatto and Windus 1912: p258 letter from McCarthy to Mrs Praed 25 November 1890 was sent to her at Mary Eliza’s house; it’s about Irish politics after the fall of Parnell.

The missing novel set in Germany: Times Mon 9 March 1936 p8 short obituary of Mary Eliza Kennard.

A typical negative review, of Landing A Prize (1889):

Spectator 1 June 1889 p27. As well as criticising the all-too-predictable plot and main character-types, the reviewer thought a particular sub-plot with an unhappily married woman was superfluous to the plot in general; and that the dubious adventurer character had come to too melodramatic an end.


I haven’t come across very many, but the area is very difficult to research, with so few 19th-century magazines digitised. Google came up with a reference to one article in the National Review volume 3 March-August 1884 pp694-706. Google claimed it was by Mary Eliza; but when I looked in the copy in the British Library, the author’s name was N H Kennard. Pity really: the article was called Why Women Write, and ended by reminding its readers that writing was one type of work for which women got equal pay.

All the articles I have found were written for motoring magazines and so I’ve put them in that section.


Important source for Mary Eliza’s early life and writing career to 1893: Notable Women Authors of the Day: Biographical Sketches by Helen C Black. Originally published Glasgow: David Bryce and Son 1893: pp177-185. You can read online the edition prepared by Troy J Bassett and Catherine Pope and published 2011: Brighton: Victorian Secrets Ltd. See www.victoriansecrets.co.uk


Little Bowden, on the edge of Market Harborough, was in the depths of what was considered to be the best hunting country in England. Several books of hunting anecdotes mention both the Kennards as members of the famous Pytchley hunt; Mary Eliza’s youngest sister Theresa Byass also hunted with it regularly. The village of Pytchley, where the hunt met, was some way south of Market Harborough, so the Kennards were also members of the Billesdon Hunt which hunted the land near Leicester. They don’t seem to have been subscribers to the Billesdon Hunt as early as 1873, but they were by 1878 and probably for the 20 years after.

Helen Black went to interview Mary Eliza for her book on women novelists after a series of very hard frosts had made hunting impossible. Mary Eliza told her that during the hunting season and when the weather allowed, she would be out with the hounds three or four times a week. Not only was this level of commitment very demanding on Mary Eliza’s time, it also required a number of horses and the money to pay for stables to house them and staff to look after them.

Mary Eliza set many of her novels in hunting country, with characters who were part of the hunting set. In the one I read – Killed in the Open – incidents on the hunting field are used by Mary Eliza to bring out aspects of the protagonists’ characters, behaviour in the field being, she suggests, a good indication of likely behaviour in other situations, especially in crises.


Fox-Hound Forest and Prairie by Edward Pennell Elmhirst. London: Routledge and Sons 1892. Seen on web in edition published by Read Books Ltd 2013 with the author’s surname as ElmhUrst. I couldn’t find the page numbers but in a section covering 1887-88 with the Pytchley, a number of people were listed as being out with the hunt on one particular day, including Lord Spencer; the Duchess of Hamilton; Mr and Mrs Kennard; and Mrs Byass (Mary Eliza’s sister Theresa), whose horse Harlequin was particularly mentioned by the author.

Baily’s Magazine of Sports and Pastimes volume 72 1899 p435 also reminisces about a particular day out with the Pytchley; with Mary Eliza mentioned, but not Edward.

Car Illustrated volume 11 1904 p256 made a reference to Mr and Mrs Kennard, describing their days out with the Pytchley Hunt as much more dangerous than any journey by car.

Annals of the Billesdon Hunt 1856-1913 (Mr Fernie’s) compiled by F Palliser de Costobadie. London: Chapman and Hall Ltd. Leicester: Clarke and Satchell 1914. Book covers 1856-1913: pp143-46. Unnumbered pages at the end of the book listed those who had paid to have a copy of it; it was published in a limited edition of 500. No one called Kennard or Laing was on that list.

Notable Women Authors of the Day: Biographical Sketches by Helen C Black. Originally published Glasgow: David Bryce and Son 1893 Edited by Troy J Bassett and Catherine Pope for a new edition published 2011: Brighton: Victorian Secrets Ltd: pp177-85.

MARY ELIZA AND EDWARD FISHING with salmon the most mentioned fish in connection with them.

Fishing Rods and Tackle published annually by W J Cummins of Bishop Auckland though I couldn’t see which year this particular one was published. On p193 there were endorsements from Edward Kennard of the Anglo-American design of rod. Edward mentioned that Mary Eliza had landed a 36-pound salmon with one.

Spectator 1 June 1889 p27 review of Mary Eliza’s Landing a Prize. Though bored by the predictable characters and plot, the reviewer did say that the scenes of salmon fishing were “described with a great deal of vigour”.

Gamie Norge and 19th Century British Women Travellers in Norway by Kathryn Walchester 2014: pp161-162: entry for Mary Eliza Kennard mentions that her novel Just Like a Woman takes place at least partly in Norway, with a heroine who describes herself as like Hedda Gabler.


Mary Eliza’s handbook for women cyclists was part of a fad for cycling that came and went in the 1890s: Dr Sheila Hanlon, in an article on the gender politics of the craze, notes that membership of cycling clubs was in sharp decline by the end of the decade. To a woman as energetic as Mary Eliza was, cycling did have an appeal: in 1900, in an article on another subject, she mentioned in passing that she had cycled all the way from the Midlands to Midlothian on two occasions. There was also a period when she regularly cycled from Market Harborough to Coventry; and back, of course, feeling very tired by the end of the round trip. And when spending a month in St Andrews while Edward played golf, she hired a cycle to take the ferry to Dundee.

However, she moved on very quickly once motorcycles started to be built.

Source: www.sheilahanlon.com: Ladies’ Cycling Clubs: The Politics of Victorian Women’s Bicycling Associations.

Autocar volume 5 January-December 1900 p934.

The Car Illustrated: A Journal of Travel by Land, Sea and Air. Edited by John Scott Montague MP. First issue 28 May [1902]. Volume 2 number 22 issue of 22 October 1902 p290: Motor Bicycling for Ladies part 2 of 3.


In 1902 Mary Eliza wrote a three-part article for the new motoring magazine The Car. It was in the form of letters to “My dear Violet”, a young hunting acquaintance who was wondering if motorcycling was for her. Mary Eliza had recently bought an Ivel motorcycle, made for her by Dan Albone of Biggleswade. I think it was not the first motorcycle she had owned. By the time she wrote the articles Mary Eliza had already ridden 700 miles on it, starting the moment she took delivery of it with a 50-mile trip home to Market Harborough. She listed the features of the Ivel that made it an ideal choice for women; and in the course of describing several days out on it she listed the maintenance she did on it, as a matter of course at the end of each journey – except that she forgot to open the carburetter at the end of a trip to Coventry, to let the air in, and the engine wouldn’t start when she went to go home again. She had no doubt that Violet, with her interest in things mechanical, would manage to drive and look after a motorcycle without any problems. However in the third part of the article she described an accident she had when a cyclist tail-gated her on the way to Biggleswade and caused both vehicles to swerve and crash. She landed underneath. The cycle and motorcycle came off relatively unscathed; as did the cyclist. But Mary Eliza’s dress was torn to shreds and she had a gash in her arm that needed a doctor’s treatment. She went home on the motorcycle next day but was so stiff she didn’t use it again for a fortnight. The accident was worse, she thought, than any “spill” she’d had on the hunting field.

By 1906, Mary Eliza was writing about her sixth motorcycle, made by a firm in Northampton and designed to her own specifications. It would do 25-30mph and in a very revealing short article, she recommended motorcycling to other women as “far more exhilerating, dangerous and exciting” even than driving a car. A photograph of her with the motorcycle in question illustrated the article. I think she was wearing the costume she normally donned to go out on it: a long, figure-hugging jacket; a matching skirt, cut quite close to the body above the knees but flaring out below them for easier use of the pedals; and what looks like a totally impractical hat with a wide brim. A scarf wound over the hat’s crown and tied below her chin, attempted to keep the hat in place as she drove along.


The Car Illustrated: A Journal of Travel by Land, Sea and Air. Edited by John Scott Montague MP. First issue 28 May [1902]. Volume 2 number 14 issue of 27 August 1902 p16; number 22 issue of 22 October 1902 p290; and number 23, issue of 29 October 1902 p314. Three-part article by Mrs Edward Kennard: Motor Bicycling for Ladies.

The Car Illustrated: A Journal of Travel by Land, Sea and Air. Edited by John Scott Montague MP. First issue 28 May [1902]. Volume 18 number 229 10 October 1906 p327 a short article by “Mary E Kennard”: Motor Cycling for Ladies: A New Machine.


Both Edward and Mary Eliza started to get interested in cars in 1899. By the end of that year, Edward had bought two: a Benz Ideal; and the first car ever made by the firm Napier and Son, an 8hp vehicle he and Mary Eliza named “Sir Charles” although Mary Eliza was sure the car was a ‘she’. By mid-1900 they had also acquired George Brooks, a young man trained as an electrical engineer. Mary Eliza called him their chauffeur, though they seem to have done most of the driving themselves. He was really there to mend the cars when they broke – which was very often!

Mary Eliza took lessons to learn how to drive, probably from Mr Hankinson at the Motor Carriage Supply Co of Balderton Street in London; the firm she recommended when writing to Autocar in June 1900 about where the best lessons were to be had. She emphasised the importance of lessons, to teach good driving habits from the outset. By the time that letter was printed, in Autocar’s issue of 7 July 1900, the editor could describe Mary Eliza as “one of England’s most enthusiastic and skilful lady automobilists”; probably because (as she mentioned herself in a follow-up letter published 28 July 1900) she’d already driven herself from London to Market Harborough in her De Dion-Bouton voiturette. However, she later said of the three-wheeled De Dion that she had never liked it: it had a tendency to vibrate as you drove along, so that you were jostled in your seat. She also found, from experience, that it was too heavy for one woman to push uphill. She preferred motorcycles.

For April-May 1900 the Automobile Club organised a 1000-Mile Trial run to Scotland and back. Edward went as a passenger in his Napier with Selwyn Francis Edge doing the driving. Mary Eliza didn’t take part in the Trial; but later in 1900 she, Edward, and the chauffeur-mechanic George Brooks drove over most of the trial’s course, going from Market Harborough to St Andrews, and back again.

About a month before the trip to St Andrews and back, Mary Eliza had been a competitor in a ladies’ handicap race at the Ranelagh Club’s Automotor Gymkhana. In a close finish, she came second out of four, to Miss Weblyn who was driving a Daimler with a much bigger engine. And hardly had they got back from St Andrews when she and Edward were off by car again, this time with the Automobile Club on a group-tour of south Wales, during which they all stayed with Charles Rolls’ parents, Lord and Lady Llangattock, at The Hendre near Monmouth.

I know from my research on the car-driving life of GD member William Humphries that in motoring’s early days, you were a fool if you didn’t have a toolkit and some spare parts with you on every trip and the ability to fix problems with the works, at least so as to enable the car to be driven on to where it could be properly repaired. Mary Eliza wrote a long account of the trip to St Andrews and back, which was published in several parts in Autocar between September and December 1900. Her tale is full of break-downs and breakages; some of which were so bad that the Kennards needed to be grateful that Edward was a shareholder of the Falkirk Ironworks: the car was repaired there three times during their one-month Scottish stay. The photographs which illustrate her articles include one with Mary Eliza cranking the starting handle while Edward sits at the wheel; and another in which she is busily repairing a torn tyre, wearing the “blue engineer jacket” she already regarded as essential to every car journey. When the damage to the car was more serious, however, all she could do was stand by to hand George Brooks the tools he needed, while he did the serious repair work. The tour was packed with incident. Edward got into an argument with the driver of a gig who wouldn’t move over to let them pass; a dispute that by the time Mary Eliza was writing about it, had reached the stage of each side instructing their solicitor. They had two crashes, the second of which threw Mary Eliza and Brooks onto the road and wrecked an iron gate, but hardly damaged the car. And while driving home through the streets of Leicester, both Mary Eliza and Edward were hit in the face by a clod of earth, well-aimed (Mary Eliza admitted) by a youngster on the pavement. Edward jumped down and left the car in the middle of the road to give chase; but the child got away.

Mary Eliza seems to have loved it all. She put all her new-found enthusiasm for every aspect of motoring into the novel she had published in 1902 – The Motor Maniac; in which the maniac in question is a woman; her husband isn’t nearly so keen; he’s into golf.

By 1902 she had moved onwards and upwards (in terms of horse power and the number of wheels) from her De Dion-Bouton voiturette; and was having a 9hp Progress made for her in Coventry: she rode her new Ivel motorcycle there one day to have a look at how the new car was progressing.

After The Motor Maniac, Mary Eliza didn’t write much fiction. One source I read said that concussion after a fall in the hunting field left her unable to sit working at her desk for as long as in the past. That’s probably true, but after reading her articles in Autocar I wonder if hunting no longer had quite the lure of motoring, for someone so keen on speed and excitement.


Edward and Mary Eliza are both in www.gracesguide.co.uk, the website of Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History. Edward is listed partly as a co-owner of the iron-working companies at Blaenavon and Falkirk; Mary Eliza has an entry as a woman driver who wrote about driving.

There’s an article on Mary Eliza as a motorist at //nationalmotormuseum.org.uk; by the museum’s research officer Patrick Collins; with reproductions of articles by her, and photos of her with a motorcycle and in a car. However, some of what Collins says about Mary Eliza is contradicted by articles and letters by Mary Eliza published in Autocar in 1900.

Appearances in Autocar volume 5 Jan-Dec 1900; editor Henry Sturmey. Published Coventry and London: Iliffe Sons and Sturmey. It’s weekly.

- 7 July 1900 pp653-54 letters pages: Mary Eliza on Where to Have Driving Lessons.

- 14 July 1900 p670 Edward Kennard’s photograph of S F Edge’s Panhard with Mr C Jarrott of De Dion-Bouton in the driving seat; and Mary Eliza as a passenger. Sitting on the car’s step was a boy called Cusins who went with Edward and Edge on the 1000 Mile Trial.

- 28 July 1900 p728 letters pages: short letter from “Mary E Kennard, Market Harborough”: the New De Dion Tricycle. That’s not a tricycle with an engine, it’s what we would call a three-wheeled car.

- 25 August 1900 p819 a photograph of Edward’s 8hp Napier - the one that had gone on the 1000 Mile Trial – with Mary Eliza in the driving seat. And same issue pp820-21: a letter from Mary Eliza: The Tyre Difficulty, about a drive on a particularly hot day, when the glue in the car’s inner tubes melted.

- 13 October 1900 p996 long report on the Automobile Club members’ tour of south Wales.

Mary Eliza’s account of the trip she and Edward made to St Andrews and back. With illustrations, mostly photographs taken by Edward. All in Autocar:

Part 1 22 September 1900 pp911-12.

Part 2 29 September 1900 pp933-935.

Part 3 6 October 1900 pp957-959.

Part 4 27 October 1900 pp1033-1035/

Part 5 3 November 1900 pp1056-1058.

Part 6 29 December 1900 p1258.

George Brooks’ surname was wrongly spelled Brookes (with an ‘e’) in the Autocar articles. George Brooks, aged 23, unmarried, occupation – electrical engineer; born in Kent, was living as a member of the household of the Kennards’ coachman on the day of the 1901 census. I didn’t find any likely George Brookes with an ‘e’ in freebmd, born in Kent around 1877-78; but two George Brooks’s were born in Tunbridge during 1877. Brooks had left the Kennards’ staff by the time of the 1911 census. Mary Eliza may have decided to let him go after Edward’s death; but I think it’s more likely that he had left them for a better job – with skills and experience like that, he will have been very sought-after by others in the motoring community.

On S F Edge – Selwyn Francis Edge 1868-1940 – see his wikipedia page for his many contributions to the early years of motoring: as an agent for various car firms; as an entrepreneur; and as a rally driver and racing driver. There is a memoir: My Motoring Reminiscences published G T Foulis 1934. On my search through the 1900 volume of Autocar I saw his name in practically every issue.

Complaining about the three-wheeled De Dion: The Car Illustrated: A Journal of Travel by Land, Sea and Air. Edited by John Scott Montague MP. First issue 28 May [1902]. Volume 2 number 14 issue of 27 August 1902 p16: Motor Bicycling for Ladies: Part 1 of 3.

Mary Eliza is in Motoring Annual and Motorist’s Year Book 1904 as a pioneer of motor cycling and an enthusiast for what was still being called the ‘motor tricycle”.


Census day 1901 came a year or so after Edward and Mary Eliza took up motoring. They both were at home at The Barn Little Bowden on census day; with a guest, Richard Micklethwaite, a married man of independent means, born in Barnsley. On the 1901 census, as with all the other censuses she appeared on, the ‘occupation/source of income’ section is left blank in Mary Eliza’s case. She might not have wanted to give the census official this kind of financial information; but it’s more likely that she just wasn’t asked. On census day 1901 she was probably working on one of the two novels she had published in 1902. She also almost certainly had an income from the profits of shares held for her in a trust fund, aswell. All that financial information is missing from the census in her case; as it was in the case of many other women. Edward, of course, was asked what his sources of income were; he told the census official that he was an iron founder, which was leaving out a good deal; similarly, he’d told an earlier census official that he was a landowner. Both the Kennards’ sons had left home by this time: Lionel was in the army, Malcolm in the navy. Edward and Mary Eliza were still housekeeping on a fairly large scale, however, with a cook, two housemaids, a kitchen maid and (I couldn’t read the entry) either a butler or a footman. They were still hunting regularly, though as in 1881, their stable staff occupied a separate household.

Edward Kennard died in July 1910, while spending the summer in Freiburg. Mary Eliza and their two sons were his executors. As part of the winding up of his many affairs, Mary Eliza sent five hunters owned by Edward for sale at Warner Sheppard and Wade; and Malcolm (I think) took over his father’s position as director of the iron-working firm at Falkirk. The day of the 1911 census fell a few months after Edward’s death; and a few weeks after their son Malcolm had married the marvellously-named Favoretta Walterina Ingram. Mary Eliza was still living at The Barn Little Bowden on census day. As head of the household she filled in the census form herself; and still didn’t put any information in the ‘occupation/sources of income’ box. And despite having been born in England – admittedly to Scottish parents - and never having lived in Scotland, she described herself as “Scotch”. She had trimmed her household staff a little and was managing with a butler, cook and one housemaid.

Because sources from 1911 onwards are lacking and/or difficult to follow up, I don’t know when Mary Eliza left The Barn; though I can see that neither of her sons took it on after she moved out. She went to Leamington, and was living in Holly Walk in the early 1930s. A letter for sale on ebay in 2018 showed that Mary Eliza didn’t go to Leamington as a stranger. It was written from 10 Newbold Terrace Leamington and though it’s not fully dated, the arrangements Mary Eliza was making with a Mrs Beaumont indicate Edward was still alive. One of Mary Eliza’s sisters also chose to move to Leamington. Agnes Laing had married Charles Albert L A French in 1873 and spent the next decades in Ireland before returning to England, probably after Ireland gained its independence. Agnes died in Leamington Spa in 1933. Mary Eliza died on 3 March 1936; after both her sons. In her last years she had been blind or nearly so, and disabled as well, but she still liked to be active, doing some of her own housework; and she faced all the trials of old age with serenity.

Sources: probate registry entries 1910; 1933; 1936. Letter to Mrs Beaumont, dated 15 March but with no year; seen by my Laing family contact on ebay in November 2018.

Times Mon 19 Feb 1910 p18 Sales of Hunters: Leicestershire. There was no obituary of Edward in the Times.

Times Thur 5 March 1936 p1a: death notice for Mary Eliza as the widow of Edward Kennard.

Times Mon 9 March 1936 p8 short obituary of Mary Eliza, described as a “very widely read and prolific novelist of the mid-eighties – the golden age of the...circulating libraries”; though the Times also noted how completely she had since been forgotten as a writer.

EDWARD AND MARY ELIZA’S SONS, who were encouraged to work rather than be young wealthy men of leisure.

LIONEL EDWARD KENNARD was preparing to take exams to join a cavalry regiment when Mary Eliza was interviewed by Helen Black in 1893. He passed, and joined the 15th Hussars, known as the King’s Own. He spent a couple of years stationed in Ireland but by 1896 the regiment was back in southern England. It took part in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of 1897. In 1899 it was sent to India where it remained until 1909 before returning to England. One source I found said that Lionel had left the regiment by late 1911 and was already ill by August 1914; however, another source suggests that he had fought at least some of World War 1.

Lionel shared his parents’ sporting interests and added some others. In his twenties and thirties he did point-to-point racing. He shot, including big game in India; and he fished, in Norway and India. He was a good polo player though he only played regularly in his regiment’s team in 1903. Between 1902 and 1905, the 15th Hussar’s polo team was the best of all the British cavalry regiments in India.

In 1911, Lionel married Daisie de Pomeroy, who had been adopted as a child by Francis Tongue Rufford and his wife Jane, who was Daisie’s aunt. Francis Tongue Rufford had inherited his father’s works at Stourbridge; it made glazed bricks. In the mid-19th century his business partner, Walter Holcroft, had invented and patented a new way to make a porcelain bath; and the two men made a fortune from the invention. Francis Tongue Rufford died in 1899. When Daisie married, Mrs Rufford gave her and Lionel a country house, Cornwall Lodge at Kingston, with all its contents. Lionel and Daisie had one child, Francis, born 1915.

When Mary Eliza’s unmarried brother Malcolm Laing died in 1917, Lionel and Malcolm Alfred were his main beneficiaries.

Lionel died in December 1919, at Mudeford in Hampshire. He had been ill for several years. His executors were Malcolm Alfred, and James Ley Douglass, a solicitor based in Market Harborough, who had been a member of the Billesdon Hunt when Edward and Mary Eliza were, in the 1870s and 1880s. At some point in his life, Lionel had bought or inherited land in Kenya. I found an application to the Kenya High Court for Letters of Administration, made by his executors in 1921.

Sources for Lionel:

There’s a wiki on the 15th Hussars, whose history dates back to 1759. However, this website was more helpful about where Lionel was stationed and why – in consequence – I couldn’t find him on any census after 1881: //britishcavalryregiments.com, the webpages of Ross Barnett; article from 2018. In case Lionel was still well enough to fight in World War 1: the 15th Hussars was one of the first regiments to be sent to France in 1914. It fought on the Western Front all the way through World War 1 including at some of the most terrible battles.

Hart’s Army List 1895 15th King’s Hussars were in Dublin.

Hart’s Army List 1907 p94 Lionel is a long way from the top of the list of the army’s current majors. He still hadn’t reached the top of it – with its chance of promotion – by 1911.

Hunting shooting fishing… The Polo Monthly October 1919 p253 an obituary of Lionel Edward Kennard.

Daisie de Pomeroy and Rufford and Co:

Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History has entries for Francis Tongue Rufford, his father Francis and the various names of the family firm: www.gracesguide.co.uk

Google came up with an advert for the firm from 1854 when it was based at Stourbridge.

Census: 1891 at 1 Adelaide Mansions Brighton where the householders were Francis T Rufford and his wife Jane. They could afford eight servants; but Daisie was not living with them on census day.

Probate Registry 1899 entry after the death of Francis Tongue Rufford of 71 Upper Berkeley Street W1 and 1 Adelaide Mansions Brighton. Personal estate £215,147/12/5.

Census: 1911 at 71 Upper Berkeley Street London W1, which had 21 habitable rooms. Daisie Mary de Pomeroy, aged 21 and born in Clifton, Bristol, is listed as householder Jane Alice Rufford’s niece. Servants: cook, parlourmaid, housemaid, tweenie, page boy.

London Standard 20 September 1911 Court Circular: announcement of the engagement; with Lionel being described as “late” of the 15th Hussars.

Standard Fri 13 December 1911 Court Circular: an account of the marriage which had taken place “yesterday” at St George’s Hanover Square.

Will of Malcolm Laing dated 22 January 1917: copy sent to me by my Laing family contact.

Probate Registry entries 1920.

Annals of the Billesdon Hunt 1856-1913 (Mr Fernie’s) compiled by F Palliser de Costobadie. London: Chapman and Hall Ltd. Leicester: Clarke and Satchell 1914: pp143-46.

Kenya Gazette 28 September 1921 p894 applications to High Court in Mombasa.

At www.greatwarforum.org posted May 2014: information on 82 officers left ?at end of World War 1; out of 452 polo players. Lionel Edward Kennard is one of the survivors: by this time a Lieutenant-Colonel in C Squadron, 15th Hussars.

The web pages of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission are at www.cwgc.org Lionel is listed there but he’s not in a war grave, he’s buried at St Mark Highcliffe. I couldn’t find a date for Lionel’s listing.


There doesn’t seem to be quite so much evidence of Mary Eliza’s younger son as a hunting shooting fishing man; but perhaps I haven’t found the right sources. Malcolm Alfred went into the Royal Navy. He received his initial training at the training ship HMS Britannia, starting in 1888/89; having come 29th out of 45 who passed the competitive entrance exam. After acting up as a sub-Lieutenant, he was confirmed in the rank of Lieutenant in 1896 but with a promotion date going back to 1894.

In 1900 he was with his ship in Tasmania but apparently staying at Admiralty House, with Robert Hastings Harris, who was the son of a rear-admiral. Malcolm Alfred and the rear-admiral’s son were found guilty of assault, and fined £1 each, after ducking in the harbour the editor of a newspaper that had syndicated an article critical of the rear-admiral.

Malcolm Alfred was officer in charge of Devonport Signal School from 1906. He retired, as a Lieutenant RN, so soon after the death of his father that I get a strong impression he hadn’t wanted to go into the navy – or perhaps any profession – in the first place. He was gone by the end of July 1910.

Malcolm Alfred’s wife Favoretta Ingram was a member of the family which owned the Illustrated London News. The Ingrams and the Laings were already connected by the marriage of Mary Eliza’s niece Florence Laing (daughter of Henry Rudolph Laing) to Collingwood Ingram. Malcolm Alfred and Favoretta had already moved into their first marital home by census day 1911: they were at Beoley Hall, near Redditch; with a staff of cook and housemaid.

Malcolm Alfred and Favoretta had four children: Molly (born 1912); Edward (1913-45); Malcolm (1916-38); and Winifred (born 1919). Malcolm junior and Winifred were born in the Devonport registration district. I presume that the family had moved to Devon when Malcolm Alfred came out of retirement, at the beginning of World War 1, and went back on active naval service; he served throughout the war. After World War 1, he and Favoretta stayed in Devon, moving to a house called Wonham, near Bampton in Devon. In the 1920s Malcolm Alfred was a director of the Falkirk Iron Co Ltd, as his father had been; and he was the company’s chairman at his death in 1934.

Sources: freebmd, probate registry entries 1934, 1938, 1945.

At www.dreadnoughtproject.org cadets accepted to train on HMS Britannia; and Malcolm Alfred’s last posting; usingdata from Navy Lists.

London Gazette 24 January 1896 p424.

At //trove.nla.au.gov/newspapers the Examiner 20 March 1900 published Launceston Tasmania. On p3: long report on the trial of Malcolm Alfred Kennard and Robert Hastings Harris for assault; to which charge they pleaded not guilty.

I think the rear-admiral in question must have been Sir Robert Hastings Penruddock Harris 1843-1926, who had played an important part in the relief of Ladysmith and became commander of the navy’s South Africa section. A short wikipedia page outlines his career, whose upward progress doesn’t seem to have been impeded by whatever was said in the article Malcolm Alfred – and also the rest of the crew of his ship – found offensive.

London Gazette 5 August 1910 p5669: retirement of Malcolm Alfred Kennard, as of 29 July 1910; with the rank of Lieutenant.

Information on Favoretta Walterina Ingram by email 24 July 2018 from my Laing family contact, who told me an wonderful story about her father being cursed after disturbing an Egyptian mummy, and subsequently being killed by a charging elephant. The charging elephant is true! Not so sure about the curse, of course. Favoretta was born a few months after her father’s death. He was Herbert Walter Ingram, son of Herbert Ingram 1845-60. Herbert Walter married Ethelinda Favoretta Hemming in 1887 and was killed in Somalia in April 1888. Source for that: www.thepeerage.com and my Laing family contact.

Will of Mary Eliza’s unmarried brother Malcolm Laing, after whom Malcolm Alfred was named: both Mary Eliza’s sons were major beneficiaries. My Laing family contact emailed me a copy of it.

Directory of Directors 1927 p876.

Probate Registry 1934.

Foundry Trade Journal volume 50 1934 p205 short obituary of Malcolm Alfred Kennard, chairman of Falkirk Iron Co Ltd.


12 November 2018

3 July 2023

Email me at

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: