MINNIE CONSTANCE LANGRIDGE
Minnie Constance Langridge was initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn at its Horus Temple in Bradford West Yorkshire, in September 1891. She chose the Italian motto ‘che sara sara’. She worked her way through the GD’s occult curriculum in less than two years, a fairly typical length of time for someone who was keen, or who (as in her case) had a head start on some subjects. Amongst the GD papers at the Freemasons’ Library is a receipt dated April 1892 that Minnie left with William Wynn Westcott when she borrowed some lectures he had written up as texts for initiates to copy and return; no clue as to what the lectures were about, alas! By this time she was living in London, and was a member of the GD’s Isis-Urania temple. She was initiated into the GD’s inner, Second Order in June 1893. It’s not clear from the records that have survived exactly when Minnie ceased to be a GD member; but she didn’t join either of the daughter orders that were formed after the collapse of the original GD in 1903.
There’s more on Minnie’s involvement in the occult world of Bradford, London and Edinburgh below but here I’m going to begin this short biography with a bit on her family background; thanking as I go the family historian/blogger at genealogy.kipling (for the full website see the ‘sources’ section below) for interesting information on Minnie’s ancestors, which shed new light on her life. The Langridges – men and women - had been in business as corset and stay-makers and sellers since the late 18th century. They were a Wiltshire family and their business was based in Salisbury until the early 19th century. By the middle of that century, it had moved it to Bristol.
Minnie’s father James Langridge was born in 1819. He went into the family business, George Langridge and Co, wholesale stay-makers, with a relation, R Langridge, probably the Richard Langridge who was also living in Bristol by the 1860s. In 1853, James was granted a patent for improvements to stays and corsets. By 1861 the firm was employing 400 people at its premises in Temple Street in the middle of Bristol. However, things went wrong; in 1877 the firm went into voluntary liquidation. From the point of view of the citizens of Bristol (I’m a Bristolian myself) the tale had a happy outcome: by spring 1878 the firm was hiring again. However, James Langridge had no further involvement with it, and the episode was a defining moment in the lives of his children.
James Langridge married a cousin, Elizabeth Gibbons, in Plymouth in 1846. They had the typically large mid-Victorian family. However, it’s been hard to identify all of Minnie’s siblings; there were several families called Langridge living in Bristol at the time and I also think several of James and Elizabeth’s children may have died as infants during the 1850s – there don’t seem to be enough of them listed on later censuses. On the day of the 1851 census James and Elizabeth were living in Totterdown, with Minnie’s eldest sister Florence Drew Langridge, born 1849. The success of George Langridge and Co allowed James and Elizabeth to move to an older and wealthier suburb of Bristol. On the day of the 1861 census they were at Winceby House, on Victoria Boulevard in Clifton. Minnie had been born there in February 1861 and Elizabeth was managing the household - which had fewer children in it than I would expect - with a cook and a housemaid.
By 1865, when Minnie’s youngest sister, Mabel, was born, the family had moved again, further out of Bristol to the still-separate village of Westbury-on-Trym. Minnie’s youngest sibling, Frank Towsey Langridge, was born there in 1869, the only son born to James and Elizabeth who survived to adulthood. On the day of the 1871 census the family were at home in Westbury-on-Trym: James and Elizabeth; Minnie aged 10 and her sisters Florence 22, Blanche 18, Kate 8 and Mabel 5; and Frank, aged 1. As well as a cook and parlour maid, the Langridges were also employing a nursemaid for Frank. Minnie, Kate and Mabel were described by the official as “scholar” – the catch-all term used throughout the late 19th century, giving nothing away about where and what the children so described were learning and who was teaching them it. Florence and Blanche were not described as ‘scholar’ and were ‘out’ – going with their mother into the family’s social world, where they would in due course be expected to marry suitably.
James Langridge seems to have lost everything in the collapse of George Langridge and Co and the family dropped out of the comfortably-off middle classes. The house in Westbury-on-Trym was sold and the family left Bristol. After living in Weston-super-Mare for a short while, they moved to west London. Elizabeth had relations living in Twickenham, but the Langridges settled in Westbourne Park.
I never cease to be amazed that families like the Langridges did so little to prepare their daughters in case a disaster occurred and they needed to earn their own living: so many cases of ideology trumping reality. That’s a very 21st century, feminist view of course; one that families like the Langridges could probably not even comprehend. I can see that dropping very suddenly out of the comfortable middle-classes into the on-the-edge lower-middle-classes below might have opened up possibilities for their daughters that would not have been available otherwise. Before finally returning to her roots, Minnie lived in more places than she would have done as a daughter of well-to-do residents of Westbury-on-Trym. She met people that she would not have come across otherwise – members of the GD, for example, and members of the Theosophical Society. She earned her own living as an occultist for several years; and she wrote a book. Not things that would have happened if George Langridge and Co hadn’t gone all-but-bankrupt. But at the last I still think the Langridge daughters, Florence and Minnie in particular as they did not marry, were left at the mercy of events beyond their control. Census information does give some clue as to what accomplishments the Langridge daughters had been taught; but it was difficult to earn a living from them; competition for the jobs that were available was very great.
After James Langridge lost his money he seems also to have lost his nerve, and Minnie’s mother Elizabeth became the main breadwinner in the family by running a boarding house at 2 St Stephen’s Square, where the Langridges were living by 1881. James Langridge had died there about two weeks before the day of the 1881 census. Minnie and her younger sisters Kate and Mabel were at home at St Stephens’ Square on that census day; none of them gave the census official any details to indicate that they were working, though they may not have been asked – women often weren’t. Also in the household were Elizabeth’s six boarders; a father and daughter, and four young, unmarried women. To help run the boarding house Elizabeth was employing a nursemaid, a cook and a housemaid.
Minnie’s older sister Blanche had married Charles Henry Frampton, in 1878 but the eldest Langridge daughter, Florence, was still single and earning her own living in one of the few ways open to her. She was employed as a governess in the household of Howard and Edith Caudle or Caudler (I couldn’t read the census official’s writing) in Uppingham, Rutland. Howard told the official that he was a mathematics teacher and he may have been on the staff of Uppingham School. He and Edith had five daughters aged from 13 to one year; and one son.
The only male boarder at 2 St Stephen’s Square on census day 1881 was George Forbes, a professor of music. Perhaps Elizabeth Langridge had come to a useful arrangement with him about his rent and teaching her daughters, because on the day of the 1891 census, Minnie told that census official that she was working as a music teacher. She may also have been earning money from something rather less reputable by that time; but if she was, she didn’t mention it or the census official didn’t note it down.
Governess; music teacher. These were occupations often trudged into by young women in the Langridges’ situation, educated for the drawing room but now needing to earn an income. However, the opportunities for home-schooled workers in both occupations were diminishing as both became more professionalised. Trying to earn her living from teaching other young women music, Minnie will have found herself in competition with graduates of the music colleges – the Royal Academy had been opened as long ago as 1822 but both the Royal College and the Guildhall School were set up around 1881. The competition was probably greater in London than elsewhere, as music college graduates working as musicians – a very precarious profession especially for women – sought to stabilise their income by giving lessons on the side.
It took 18 months to obtain probate on the tangled affairs of James Langridge, but Elizabeth was able to give up the boarding house and move further out of London, to 2 Cleveland Villas, Barnes. Minnie was there on the day of the 1891 census, between moves from and to other places. I couldn’t see Florence Langridge on the census that year. They may not have been asked but neither Elizabeth nor Mabel gave the census official any details of whatever income they may have had.
In 1890 and 1891 Minnie was moving around a lot; if she was working, each place of employment only required her for a few weeks or months. In February 1890, when she joined the Theosophical Society, she was in the Prestonfield district of Edinburgh; by census day 1891 she was back in London only to have left it again by September 1891 for Huddersfield, where she was staying when first initiated into the GD. She was short of money at the time of her initiation: her annual subscription was waived when she joined the GD, on grounds of poverty, though she could have reached an agreement with the members to pay in kind.
Minnie continued on the move throughout the 1890s but around central London rather than around England and Scotland. In 1892 she was at 10 Stafford Street near Edgware Road station, either living there or renting a room as a consulting room; her sister Florence was giving the same address at that time. In 1892 Minnie was in the midst of changing her source of income. If she was still giving music lessons they were taking a back seat to a different skill altogether – that year she began advertising her services as a palm-reader.
Why take to making money by reading people’s character and future in their hands? There were a number of good reasons. Firstly, anyone could do it or attempt to do it. Unlike tarot cards it didn’t need any equipment. Unlike reading someone’s horoscope, it didn’t need data provided in advance so that mathematical calculations could be done. Text-books for tarot and astrology were in short supply but you could learn the basics of palmistry from easily-available books and there’s plenty of evidence that Minnie learned that way. As a professional she used vocabulary that was invented or reinvented for contemporary palmistry by Edward Heron Allen in his 1885 A Complete Practical Handbook of the Twin Sciences.... Once you had run through those basics, it was up to you to practice, to use your intuition, and be convincing.
Palm-reading has a long history, but an article by Joan Navarre shows that in the 1880s it became a craze, at least in England and the US, encouraged by two friends who were enthusiastic men-about-town and could spread it around any number of social circles - Oscar Wilde and Edward Heron Allen. Wilde’s short story Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, published in 1887, describes the kind of event where palmistry could thrive: a high society evening party where everyone was having their hand read. Wilde’s original subtitle for it was “A Story of Cheiromancy”. Edward Heron Allen was one of those who would spend such an evening reading people’s hands.
By the end of the 1880s palmistry seemed to be everywhere. At a party in September 1886 when Wilde and George Bernard Shaw were fellow guests, Heron Allen read GBS’s hand. In 1887 future GD founder Samuel Mathers also read George Bernard Shaw’s hand at an evening party, this time a soirée organised by future GD member Joseph Fitzgerald Molloy. In 1889 GD member Albertina Herbert had her hand read by Anna van Rensselaer one boring Sunday while they were both guests at a country house in Cheshire. And though I haven’t got proof, I would suppose that Minnie Langridge was reading the hands of her friends and fellow guests, getting plenty of practice and wondering if she could turn professional like one or two were doing.
Edward Heron Allen worked for the family legal firm, Allen and Son of Soho; he never charged for his palmistry. But William John Warner proved and more that you could earn a living from reading people’s hands. He used the professional name Cheiro, from ‘chiromancy’, the Renaissance term for palmistry given a new lease of life by Heron Allen. Though dates for Cheiro’s career reading the hands of the great and good are difficult to come by, in his memoir he mentioned that he first read the hand of the Prince of Wales in 1891. He was another who read Oscar Wilde’s hand and on the fringes of the occult world he also read the hands of W T Stead and Ella Wheeler Wilcox. His career was something for other palmists to aspire to – he made a lot of money; and didn’t need to advertise his services very often.
So many people were reading people’s palms that in 1889 a group led by Mrs Katharine St Hill founded the Chirological Society to set standards, particularly for professionals. Those applying for membership of the society had to take an exam; if they passed the exam they had to promise to take a second set of exams within 12 months; if they passed those they would be admitted as a Fellow. The society’s members meant their society to be exclusive, both in terms of standards and in terms of class. Socially, the society was several levels above the likes of Minnie Langridge, more in the realm of Oscar Wilde and Edward Heron Allen (though neither became members as far as I can see). During 1894 it was holding its meetings in Knightsbridge, and it had funds enough to hire the rooms of the College of Arms in Sloane Street for a conversazione and exhibition. That shouldn’t have prevented Minnie trying for membership, though it might have prevented her paying the membership fee regularly. Minnie doesn’t seem to have sat the exams, however, at least not in 1894 or 1895, and reading through issues of its journal for those years I think its members may have regarded her as a member of the opposition; and as part of the problem of standards and training the society had been founded to root out.
Minnie had been reading people’s palms for several years when she started to charge for her services and to advertise for clients. When she did start advertising, she paid for a small ad in the Morning Post, a newspaper read by the wealthy; and for the first couple of years she described herself as a ‘cheiromanciste’, one of several variations on Heron Allen’s word that practitioners were using. The adverts were not in every issue of the Morning Post – that would have been very expensive – and a few months often went by without any adverts from Minnie. She was timing her adverts for when the upper classes were in London rather than abroad or at their country estates.
The basis of Minnie’s small-ads was roughly the same from 1892 for the next few years. They began with the words “scientific palmistry” – a phrase first used by Edward Heron Allen and taken up as a clarion call by the Chirological Society and other professionals. Minnie’s charges stayed the same throughout the 1890s, at 5 shillings for one session. The adverts always listed special hours during which Minnie would see clients without an appointment. The actual hours did vary from year to year, and they were also on different days of the week in different years, but they were always in the afternoon; suggesting she was either seeing clients by appointment in the mornings, or wanting to give that impression while she was actually working in the mornings at something else entirely – teaching music, for example.
As the years passed, some things in the adverts did change. From 1892 to 1896 Minnie was careful to hide her gender in her adverts by calling herself ‘M C Langridge’. In some years but not others, the small-ads advertised Minnie as a teacher, either one-to-one or in small classes. After 1894 when she published her book, “author of the Key to Palmistry” featured in the small-ads for as long as they continued to appear.
Minnie’s The Key to Palmistry didn’t attempt to rival the works of Heron Allen or Katharine St Hill; she described it as “simple and concise foundation” which readers could use as a base from which to do their own further research. In her introduction Minnie mentioned the history of palmistry and drew the reader’s attention to its occult connections, particularly with astrology, in which individual planets ruled various parts of the hand and planetary influence provided the basis for interpretation. Following the definitions used by Heron Allen, Minnie described the reading of someone’s palm as divided into two aspects: chirognomy – the subject’s character and disposition; and chiromancy – life events as shown in the subject’s palm and lines. When in her adverts Minnie described herself as a ‘cheiromanciste’, perhaps she was thinking that predicting life events rather than character analysis was where her skills lay.
The main body of Minnie’s book took up about 30 pages and was followed by a short series of line drawings. It really was a very short introduction to the subject. In the preamble to the main text of The Key to Palmistry Minnie wrote that she hoped to publish a “fuller and more complete work” in due course. As far as I can tell, she never did publish that sequel, which would have had to tread the path already taken by Heron Allen, St Hill, Cheiro and others.
The Key to Palmistry did get a review in the Chirological Society’s journal, but it was a very negative one. The review was anonymous but as Mrs St Hill was the journal’s main editor, it was probably by her. Minnie’s work was criticised on a number of grounds including being too generalised and lacking originality; but mainly for not being sufficiently up-to-date, for including in the text “old readings, many of which have proved faulty”. Reviews were rather more positive in journals without such a stake in high standards for palmistry. The one in The Astrologer’s Magazine was particularly good, saying that it was “well written and illustrated”, a good book for beginners; and – naturally – commenting favourably on Minnie’s description of palmistry and astrology as “inextricably connected”. The Astrologer’s Magazine was closely connected to the Theosophical Society so perhaps its reviewer actually knew Minnie.
Probably Minnie was hoping for a review in Light, the most widely-read spiritualist journal: she invested in advertising her “scientific palmistry” services in its small ads for a few issues in May 1894, the month in which The Key to Palmistry was published. No review appeared in Light, but in the issue of 26 May 1894 it was listed with other books recently received.
The Key to Palmistry was published by T Nichols and Co of 23 Oxford Street; a small company run by a husband-and-wife team and specialising in books on alternative health. Publishing a book with any of these small publishers, the work’s author usually paid part at least of the production costs; perhaps one reason (there were others) why Minnie stopped paying her TS subscriptions that year. To keep costs down, such books were small in terms of numbers printed and often small in size as well. Minnie’s book is tiny, but that was an advantage – it was suitable for keeping in a pocket or handbag.
Minnie’s small-ads show her professional address continuing to change regularly: 6 Hazlitt Street West Kensington in 1892; 10 Stafford Street during 1893; 31 Southwick Street by 1896; and in 1898, 59 Regent Street. All those streets were on the fringes of the Mayfair and Belgravia areas where the wealthy lived; close to Minnie’s desired clients, without being so expensive to rent that she lost all her profits. Looking in the GPO’s street directory for 1894, I could see that Stafford Street and Southwick Street had more commercial properties than residential addresses; and many properties were untenanted. What did clients who’d answered the advert in the Morning Post make of them? Minnie’s room or rooms in Regent Street sounded less down-at-heel, just along the west side from Swan and Edgar’s department store and above Skinner and Grant the tailors.
By 1896 Minnie had stopped referring to herself as a “cheiromanciste” in the small-ads. Half-way through that year the adverts she also changed her name from ‘M C Langridge’ to ‘Mademoiselle Marguerite Langridge’ – the name Marguerite definitely French sounding but actually borne by one of Minnie’s nieces, the very English Marguerite Blanche Frampton. The sudden leap into French-ness was probably also to make sure Minnie’s advert attracted the eye of the Morning Post’s readers; because she was one of several women palmists regularly advertising in it in the mid-1890s and the others managed to sound rather more exotic. In 1894 there was Madame Bernhardt, who despite the name and the association with the great Sarah, was actually from Australia; and Contessa Carlotta. By 1896 the Contessa was gone but had been replaced by Loretta Vita “chiromancienne”.
Minnie was definitely moving in occult circles by February 1890, when she joined the Theosophical Society in Edinburgh. At that time, potential members had to have two sponsors. Minnie’s were John William Brodie-Innes and his wife Frances, the doyennes of both the TS and the GD in Scotland. It’s likely that they gave Minnie useful introductions to acquaintances in London and Bradford that led to more work for her as a palmist and to her being offered GD initiation. In its turn, the hermeticism studied by GD initiates should have enhanced Minnie’s palm-reading and given it an extra dimension in a profession that was becoming very competitive. For a while, Minnie was active in the TS, in Edinburgh; and then at its Adelphi Lodge in London at the same time as she was busy in the GD. The Adelphi Lodge had several GD members in it, including founder William Wynn Westcott. Florence Langridge also joined the TS, a few months after Minnie, and the two sisters sponsored the membership of their friend Nettie Stern. I’ve mentioned already that Minnie stopped paying her TS annual subscription around 1894. There might have been financial reasons for that, but she was one of hundreds who did so at the time, during a dispute about the TS’s direction after the death of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in 1891.
Minnie’s youngest sister Mabel married Edward Richard Frewer in 1896. Late the following year Elizabeth Langridge died. On the day of the 1901 census Minnie was staying with Florence; she was listed as a visitor in the household so this was not her usual address. I wonder where she was actually living? Florence was now at 4 Callow Street, off Fulham Road. She had four boarders, and was still working as an artist. I think it’s likely Minnie had gone to be with her sister because Florence was ill and was struggling to manage her work and large household; Florence died a few weeks after census day.
The information about income that Minnie gave the census official in 1901 has a big, bureaucratic ‘x’ right across it but you can just about see ‘ologist’ at the end of the one word. I think Minnie told the official she was a chirologist or cheirologist. There was no mention of music lessons and perhaps it was now a few years since Minnie had needed to give any. However, her career as a cheirologist had begun to falter as the craze for palmistry began to fade away. She had no small-ads in the Morning Post during 1897, the year her mother died; perhaps that might be expected. She was back in it in 1898 but that was the last year she advertised in that newspaper, almost the last time she advertised anywhere. Perhaps she was so well-established that adverts were no longer necessary: she was able to get her customers by recommendation and had as many as she could cope with. You can read the lack of adverts in other ways, though.
In April 1899 Minnie departed from the routine which she seems to have followed since 1892: she went to Ireland; and she booked a stall for her palm-reading at a public event. She hired the stall at the Exhibition Hall in Earlsfort Terrace, central Dublin, Ireland’s premier exhibition venue. The main attraction while she was working there was a set of waxworks but there were plenty of other things for visitors to look at, including a stall rented by the Edison Bell Consolidated Phonograph Co. A report in the Irish newspaper the Freeman’s Journal described Minnie as the “Queen of Palmistry”; which sounds to me like a title Minnie had given them to attract attention to a first visit to Ireland. If she was thinking of making regular trips to read hands in Ireland she may have been disappointed: though there are not many Irish papers in the British Newspaper Archive, I couldn’t find adverts from Minnie in any of them.
After Minnie’s visit to Ireland she didn’t advertise in any newspaper for 15 months. In July and early August 1901 ‘Marguerite Langridge’ the well-known London palmist spent a few weeks reading palms in Jersey; advertising almost every day in the Jersey Evening Post. That seems to have been her last flourish as a palmist, though. I couldn’t see any more adverts from her.
Although she lived for another 40 years, after 1901 Minnie made hardly any appearances in the historical records. It’s a problem with all my GD members because 20th century records are so often still embargoed, or not easy and cheap to access.
The details filled in by Minnie on the next census make it clear that a lot had happened in her life between August 1901 and April 1911. From the 1890s both her married sisters, Blanche Frampton and Mabel Frewer, were living in London; by 1911 Blanche was in Dulwich and Mabel was in Tooting Bec. However, Minnie – always independent – had decided to leave London behind her. The genealogist at the kipling blog mentioned that in 1905 Minnie was left £40 by her aunt Catherine Gibbons. With that money and any her mother and sister had left her, Minnie went back to Bristol and trained for a third profession, one less creative, perhaps, but more future-proof than either music or reading hands. On the day of the 1911 census “Minnie Langridge (Miss)” – no more Mademoiselle Marguerite - was living at 15 Tredegar Road Fishponds. She was head of household for the first time in her life; and she was apparently living alone. She was working from home as a self-employed typist.
Looking at the actual records of all my GD members on the 1921 census would be a very expensive business and I’ve decided not to do it. I have looked at its index though and I could see Minnie, still living in Bristol. This census day there other people living at the same address; perhaps she was taking in lodgers.
By the day the details of the 1939 Register were collected, at the end of September that year, Minnie had gone more or less full-circle as regards addresses: she was at 23 Southleigh Road in Clifton, near where she had lived as a child. Mary Chiddy, a widow a few years younger than Minnie, was living with her. Minnie herself had retired but Mary Chiddy was still doing work by the day, perhaps as Minnie’s housekeeper. The Watts family - John and Dorothy, John’s father and probably one child – may have been living in the house.
Minnie Langridge died in the spring of 1941.
In the Order of the Golden Dawn:
R A Gilbert The Golden Dawn Companion p136. The book lists members of the two daughter orders Stella Matutina and the Independent and Rectified Rite, as far as they are known. Minnie isn’t in any of those lists and I think she had probably left London by 1903, when the GD as founded in 1888 collapsed.
Freemasons’ Library GD collection call number GBR GD2/2/8a Receipts for items borrowed from the occult library of GD founder William Wynn Westcott during the period 1891-1892.
In the Theosophical Society:
Theosophical Society Membership Register January 1889-September 1891 p149 Miss M C Langridge and p240 for Florence Drew Langridge.
The sisters’ sponsorship of Mrs Nettie Stern, who was later a member in Australia: Theosophical Society Membership Register June 1893 to March 1895 p92.
Adelphi Lodge and its members in 1894:
Light: Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research. Volume 14 January-December 1894. Published for its proprietors (the London Spiritualist Alliance) at 2 Duke St Adelphi. On pi small ads issue of Sat 5 May 1894 a list of forthcoming talks at the TS’s Adelphi Lodge: on 7 May 1894 Isabel Cooper Oakley on Practical Devotion. On 28 May 1894 GD member Percy Bullock on Marcus Aurelius. For William Wynn Westcott and Adelphi Lodge see my web pages.
Palmistry and other forms of divination were not illegal during the time Minnie Langridge earned her daily bread that way. It’s clear, though, that a lot of people thought they were. Amongst those who wished to give the other impression was the high society palmist Cheiro. In his memoirs he gave his readers to understand that in reading people’s palms he risked his life, as palmistry was still governed by a law passed during Henry VIII’s reign which made divination of all kinds punishable by death.
Questions were asked about the legality of palmistry in the House of Commons in 1893 and 1911. The replies were that divination of all kinds was now covered by the Witchcraft Act 1735 and the Vagrancy Act 1824. In response to the 1911 question, the relevant clause of the 1824 Act was read out: “every person using any subtle craft, by palmistry or otherwise, to deceive and impose on any of His Majesty’s subjects is to be deemed a rogue and a vagabond, and to be subject on conviction, to imprisonment”. Telling someone’s fortune was not illegal, it was the attempt to impose your fortune-telling on another person that mattered. If people made an appointment with a palmist, they were not being imposed on.
//hansard.parliament.uk Volume 25 question asked by John Cathcart Wason MP Tuesday 9 May 1911.
At archives.blog.parliament.uk an entry by one of the Parliamentary archive staff gives more details of the Henry VIII act. Passed in 1541, the Act Against Conjurations… attempted to ban any practice that might be harmful to the realm or to its subjects. Offences were punishable by death, and also by forfeiture of property.
Cheiro’s Memoirs: Reminiscences of a Society Palmist. London: William Rider and Son Ltd 1912. Definitely in the business of myth-making rather than biography. His wikipedia page – again very short on details of his life – does say that he ended his career in Hollywood. A fitting place for him!
Cheiro doesn’t seem to have advertised his services very often: for example, I never saw an advert from him in the Morning Post in any of the years Minnie was advertising there. He did pay for an advert over several months in Light in 1892, but not in any other year, I think.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research. Published London: Eclectic Publishing Co Ltd of 2 Duke St Adelphi. Volume 12 January-December 1892. Issue of Sat 23 July 1892 pi in the alternative practitioner/spiritualists small ads: one for Cheiro at 5 Conduit St Regent St. Daily 11-2, 3-8 or by appointment. The advert appeared every week until the issue of Sat 13 October 1892 but not after that. I think it is relevant that from July to October London was more or less empty of the social class of people Cheiro’s memoirs suggest most of his clients came from.
Wikipedia pages on palmistry; and on William John Warner aka Cheiro and Count Louis Hamon.
Palm-reading in fashion:
Edward Heron Allen (later Heron-Allen) 1866-1943. See his wikipedia page for more on this interesting polymath. Also his entry in Encyclopaedia Iranica at www.iranicaonline.org. Edward went to Harrow School and then into the family firm of solicitors, qualifying in 1884. His entry says that he was married twice. His first wife (1891) was Marianna daughter of the German-born painter Rudolf Lehmann.
From my own GD notes: Marianna’s mother was Amelia, daughter of Robert Chambers of Edinburgh, founder of Chambers’s Journal. GD member Violet Chambers (later Tweedale) was Marianna’s first cousin.
Heron-Allen’s obituary as a Fellow of the Royal Society was in FRS Obituaries volume 4 number 12 November 1943: pp446-54. There’s an article on him, based on the obituary, by R A Gregory, at jstor. The family firm was founded in 1780 by Emanuel Allen.
Allen and Son moved around Soho but in 1883 their offices were at 17 Carlisle Street. Source for that: London Gazette 4 May 1883 p2398 official notices of sales following judgments in the High Court of Chancery.
Oscar Wilde, Edward Heron-Allen and the Palmistry Craze of the 1880s. Joan Navarre in English Literature in Transition 1880-1920 volume 54 part 2 2011: 174-84. University of North Carolina. For Edward Heron Allen’s reading of GBS’s hand: Source for GBS’s hand being read: George Bernard Shaw; The Diaries 1885-87 annotated and edited by Stanley Weintraub. University Park Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press 1986. Volume 1 p198. And for Samuel Mathers reading GBS’s hand: Volume 1 p303 entry for 4 October 1887.
GD member Albertina Herbert’s fellow house-guest has a go: National Library of Wales catalogue number NLW18744B Albertina’s diary entry for Sunday 29 September 1889. She was at Oulton Park in Cheshire, the home of her sister Henrietta and Henrietta’s husband, Sir Philip Grey Egerton.
The Key to Palmistry. By M C Langridge. London: Nichols and Co 23 Oxford St 1894.
The Chirological Society: the wikipedia page on palmistry.
The Palmist and Chirological Review. I looked at its volumes 2 and 3, covering 1894 and 1895.
Editors at the time and at least for the next couple of years were Mrs Katharine St Hill; and Charles F Rideal who was the owner of the Roxburghe Press. Published at The Roxburghe Press of 3 Victoria St. The hostile review of Minnie’s book: Volume 2 issue of July 1894 p53.
Volume 3 1895 January 1895 end pages: despite the bad review there was an advert for Minnie’s Key to Palmistry. Minnie had not placed it; it was there as part of a bigger set of adverts for T Nichols and Co. It was just below a bigger advert for Katharine St Hill’s own book: The Grammar of Palmistry now in its 12th print run at 1000 copies a time. Price 1 shilling. Obtained from The Roxburghe Press.
In both volumes those who pass the Society’s exams are named: Minnie’s name wasn’t listed in either of the volumes; I guess it could have been in volume 1, 1893, but I think Minnie didn’t attempt to become a member of the Society.
Venues for the Society’s meetings during 1894:
Light: Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research. Volume 14 January-December 1894. Published for its proprietors at 2 Duke St Adelphi. Issue of 26 May 1894 p258.
Some more positive reviews of The Key to Palmistry:
The Astrologer’s Magazine volume 4 1894 p280: with a small ad from Nichols and Co of 23 Oxford Street, a one-paragraph, anonymous, review describing it as “little” but as “well written and illustrated” - a good book for beginners.
TS member Walter Gorn Old was one of the founders of The Astrologer’s Magazine; its editor was TS member Alan Leo.
The Bookseller issue in June 1894 I think it’s the 8th but the snippet was hard to read; p483.
Via iapsop.com to The Two Worlds number 342, volume 7 issue of Fri 1 June 1894 p264 brief review which assumes ‘M C Langridge’ is a man. As better value for money than higher priced volumes with greater pretentions.
Borderland volume 4 1897 p455 might have listed The Key to Palmistry; I couldn’t read the snippet.
Minnie and her book in Light:
Light: Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research. Volume 14 January-December 1894. Published for its proprietors at 2 Duke St Adelphi. I couldn’t see a review of The Key to Palmistry but in the issue of Sat 26 May 1894 p248 it was in a short list of books recently received. Minnie in Light’s small ads: issue of Sat 19 May 1894 pi; editorial of that issue is at the bound volume’s p229. Though it contains a plug for the book, Minnie’s advert is in the regular list of practitioners. Same advert in small ads pi of Sat 26 May 1894. There was no advert in any 1894 issue after that and in looking through volumes of Light from the late 1890s I never saw an advert from Minnie.
Other books on palmistry from Minnie’s time:
1883 and later editions. Chiromancy, or the Science of Palmistry. Henry Frith and Edward Heron-Allen. London: Routledge and Sons.
1885 and later editions. A Complete Practical Handbook of the Twin Sciences of Cheirognomy and Cheiromancy… . By Edward Heron Allen writing on his own this time. London: Ward, Lock.
1889 and later editions. The Grammar of Palmistry by K St Hill – like Minnie, Katharine was disguising her gender. London: George Redway 1888. By 1896 this was on its 28th edition. William Wynn Westcott had a copy of it in his occult library; he didn’t have a copy of Minnie’s book.
By William John Warner, working and writing as Cheiro.
1892 Cheiro’s Book of the Hand. London: Record Press.
1895 and later editions. Cheiro’s Language of the Hand: Compl Practical Work on the Sciences of Cheirognomy and Cheiromancy. New York: Transatlantic Publishing Co.
Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research published for its proprietors at their offices 2 Duke St Adelphi. Volume 16 January-December 1896. In issue of Sat 30 May 1896 p260 an anonymous review of Papus’ Premiers Eléments de Chiromancie.
Papus was the writing name of Dr Gérard Encausse, a well-known occultist based in Paris and known to several GD members even before he became a member of the GD’s Paris temple.
1900 The Laws of Scientific Hand Reading. William Gurney Benham. G P Putnam’s Sons. The Knickerbocker Press. London and New York.
Minnie in the Morning Post. Using the British Newspaper Archive I did check the years from 1890 to 1901; but I didn’t note down the details of every advert Minnie had during that time. There were no adverts from Minnie until 1892 and the search didn’t come up with any adverts in other newspapers except one set from 1901.
Morning Post issue of 7 July 1892 p1 was the earliest I spotted. Issue of Thursday 8 December 1892 p1 had the first for a while, saying that M C Langridge was returning to town for the winter season.
1893 Morning Post issues of 2 March 1893 p1 with classes; 24 July 1893 p1.
1894 was where I looked first; I took the advert in the small ads of the Morning Post issue of 21 August 1894 p1 as typical. I also looked at issues of Tuesday 19 June 1894; Thursday 9 August 1894; Tuesday 4 September 1894. Then there was a gap of several weeks until the issue of Thursday 22 November 1894; 31 December 1894.
I looked next at 1896: Morning Post 28 January 1896 p1. The new name of Miss Marguerite Langridge was first seen in the issue of Thursday 4 June 1896; Thursday 18 June 1896 p10 announcing she was about to leave town. There were no other adverts from Minnie that year and none in 1897.
Morning Post Tues 8 Mar 1898 p6 and Fri 27 May 1898 p1 still as Marguerite Langridge but also as “celebrated”.
1899. There were no adverts from Minnie in the Morning Post.
The trip to Ireland:
Freeman’s Journal Monday 17 April 1899 p5. It’s not an advert. Minnie is mentioned in a report on the forthcoming exhibition.
Earlsfort Terrace Exhibition Hall: www.nch.ie and via google plenty of information on individual exhibitions at the Hall over the years.
1900 – no adverts in the Morning Post.
The trip to Jersey:
Jersey Evening Post Thursday 18 July 1901 p1 and then virtually every day until Jersey Evening Post 3 August 1901 p3 with address 3 Victoria Terrace and announcing that Miss Marguerite Langridge would leaving Jersey shortly to fulfil engagements elsewhere.
GEORGE LANGRIDGE AND CO the family firm
Many thanks to the compiler of www.genealogy.kipling.me.uk The Langridges and the Gibbons. It traces the Langridges of Wilton Wiltshire, corset and stay-makers, back to the mid-18th century and the family forward to Minnie’s sisters; and her brother Frank who spent many years working for Sassoon and Co in the Middle East.
James Langridge had a patent though it’s not clear what it was for: Repertory of Patent Inventions 1853 p199 one granted to James Langridge of George Langridge and Co, stay manufacturers. Issued 17 December 1852.
Matthews New Bristol Directory 1863 p165 George Langridge and Co wholesale stay and corset makers and manufacturerrs by machinery: 102-03 Temple Street. Also listed: a Richard Langridge of Drayton House, Arley Hill, Redland Road.
Salisbury and Winchester Journal Sat 17 February 1877 p8: in list of liquidations: J Langridge and R Langridge trading as George Langridge and Co; wholesale stay makers. Liquidations by arrangement: Fri 16 February 1877.
Western Daily Press Thur 30 May 1878 p2: advert for staff to work for George Langridge and Co; still at the Temple Street address.
Belated legal notice about the liquidation:
Record Failures and Liquidations… 1885. In the General List of failures, which is alphabetical; p239 George Langridge and Co of Bristol dated 16 August 1877.
Freebmd, Ancestry, Findmypast. Censuses 1861-1921.
Matthews New Bristol Directory 1863 p165 gives James Langridge’s home address as Winceby House, Victoria Boulevard, Clifton.
Probate Registry 1882 re death of James Langridge; previously of Bristol but recently of 2 St Stephen’s Square Westbourne Park.
Florence Drew Langridge as an artist
I searched V&A’s database for Florence Drew Langridge but there was no entry for her.
The Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940 is based on contemporary exhibition catalogues. On p300 Miss F Langridge of 4 Callow Street, South Kensington as an exhibitor with the Society of Women Artists in 1901 SWA; that’s her only entry.
You could earn money as an artist without exhibiting many works and without your name being widely known. See my biography of GD member Kate Broomhead Rowe for more on Kate’s husband Cosmo Rowe who was a designer and painter of china with the Royal Doulton pottery firm.
A word on Blanche Langridge and her daughters. In 1878 Blanche had taken another of the few options open to the women in the Langridge family after the failure of the family firm. She had married Charles Henry Frampton, a man who in 1911 was aged 72 to her 53. Perhaps Blanche was the driving force behind decisions the Framptons made to ensure that their two daughters, Marguerite (born 1886) and Rachel (born 1887) had more choices, beginning by giving them both a wider and more systematic education. On the day of the 1911 census both of them were working, at two of the options available to them that hadn’t been available to their mother or their aunt Minnie. In 1903 Marguerite had won (by competitive exam) one of two positions available at the GPO, as a post-sorter. By 1911 Rachel had been to university and was teaching in an elementary school. Work options for women were still limited, hedged around by legal and social prohibitions; but at least some now existed. The marriage bar is one of the best-known of those prohibitions. Rachel married Arthur Battersby in 1914 and will have had to give up her job at that point.
Via findmypast to the 1939 Register; entry for 23 Southleigh Road Clifton. The Watts family are next on the list after Mary Chiddy and are listed as if they were residents at number 23; but there’s no entry for anyone living at 21 Southleigh Road so they may have been living there.
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.
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.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
19 November 2022
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