Marcus Worsley Blackden (known as ‘Worsley’ not Marcus) was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London on 27 August 1896.  Irene Augusta Lloyd was initiated as part of the same ritual, but I don’t think the two of them knew each other beforehand.  Although he had little occult experience, Worsley Blackden worked his way quickly through the study needed to be eligible for the GD’s inner 2nd Order, and was initiated into that on 6 November 1897.  He played a prominent role in the turbulent period 1900-1903, and then joined one of the two daughter orders that were founded in 1903.


BEFORE I GET STARTED a huge ‘thank you’ to MWB’s great-grand-daughter Nadine, of Ontario, Canada, for all the photos of paintings and family documents that she sent me.  There would have been much less of this ‘life by dates’ without them!


There are plenty of sources for some of the events in Worsley Blackden’s life, so I’ve decided to do a ‘life-by-dates’ set of three files; in which he’ll appear as ‘MWB’.  This is the first file: YOUTH and BACKGROUND.  The other two are: Egypt and the GD; and After the GD.  Standing rather outside the sequence are two examples of Blackden’s work on the Book of the Dead - translations of chapter 62; and of the Hymn to Osiris.




The wealth of the 19th and 20th century Blackden family was established by the latest of many Benjamin Blackdens born into the family, who bought the old City of London gates of Cripplegate, Aldersgate and Moorgate from the Corporation of London, with permission to demolish.


A Benjamin Blackden who may have been the same man as in 1761, or his son, obtained from the Corporation of London a lease of a thousand-foot length of frontage on Fore Street and Coleman Street, where the gates at Cripplegate and Moorgate had stood. 

A condition of Benjamin Blackden’s lease was that he develop the land within the next four years; a duty he carried out by building warehouses, residences and shops, rents from which formed the basis of the family income for the next 170-odd years.

Sources for 1761 and 1764:

Cripplegate: One of the Twenty-Six Wards of the City of London by John James Baddeley: p15, p244.  Privately printed; no date on title page but Baddeley’s introduction is dated December 1921.  Sources for individual items of evidence are not specified in the book but there are photographs of records now held by the City Lands Committee; and references to contemporary Wills.  Text of book seen at,.

Times Friday 3 August 1934 p6 Estate Market column.


APRIL 1824

Marriage (at St George’s Hanover Square) of MWB’s grandparents on the Blackden side: John Chalfont Blackden son of Benjamin; and Isabella Worsley.

Sources: Gentleman’s Magazine 1824 p368 marriages during April.  The New Monthly volume 12 1824 p277.


19 NOVEMBER 1825

Death of MWB’s great-grandfather Benjamin Blackden, the grandson or great-grandson of the 1761 Benjamin Blackden.

The marriages of the man himself (to a Cayley), his children and his grand-children, established the thicket of cousin-relationships between the Blackden, Cayley, Worsley, Hollond and Franklyn families; the Hall and Browne families were slightly less closely connected.

Source for his death: PROB 11/1705/322 Will of Benjamin Blackden of Hitchenden Buckinghamshire.  Now held at the Public Record Office; see

Sources for the inter-marriages: look on the web using the individual surnames.  For the Cayley family see Debrett’s Baronetage issue of 1828 p203 on the family of Sir Thomas Cayley 5th baronet.  For the Hollond and Franklyn families see A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry volume 3 p167; from which it becomes relatively clear that MWB and the woman he eventually married were related several times over.



Birth of MWB’s father Marcus Seton Blackden, second son of John Chalfont Blackden and Isabella née Worsley.

Marcus Seton Blackden had one older brother and one younger brother - Frederick and Walter; and three sisters - Mary Isabella, Fanny and Ada.

Source: Familysearch England-EASy GS film numbers.  Specifically for Marcus Seton Blackden: England-EASy GS film number 1279474 baptisms at Warfield Buckinghamshire.


11 JUNE 1862

MWB’s father Marcus Seton Blackden married Fanny Franklyn, daughter of Rev Thomas Ward Franklyn.  Fanny’s sister Sophia had already married Marcus Seton’s brother Frederick.

Sources: Gentleman’s Magazine vol 213 p97. A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry volume 3 p167.



Birth of MWB’s elder, military, brother, Leonard Shadwell Blackden.

Source: birth registration freebmd.


MWB’s aunt Mary Blackden died.  She lived at Radipole near Weymouth, and at 17 Wilton Crescent, with her brother Rev Charles Blackden; and he inherited some at least of her estate.

Source: Probate Registry.



Birth of Marcus Worsley Blackden, known as Worsley’.  His parents were living at Upton in Worcestershire at that time.

Sources:  A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry later ed 1937 p176 - children of Marcus Seton Blackden.


MAY 1866

MWB’s aunt Henrietta Blackden died.  Like her sister Mary (died 1863) Henrietta lived with her brother Rev Charles Blackden; and left him some at least of her money.

Source: Probate Registry.


MWB, his brother Leonard and his parents Marcus Seton Blackden and Fanny, were all visiting MWB’s grandfather John Chalfont Blackden, in Worcestershire.

Source: 1871 census.



GD member MWB’s sister Ada Mary born

Source: birth registration freebmd.



Death of MWB and Ada Mary’s mother Fanny Blackden née Franklyn, aged 41.

Marcus Seton and Fanny Blackden had moved from Worcestershire to Malvern, perhaps in search of better health for Fanny.  When Fanny died, they were living at Larch Hill Malvern Wells.

Source for the death: death registration freebmd.  Source for where MWB was living: The Malvern Register 1865-1904 originally compiled by L S Milward and E C Bullock; I saw the 2nd edition, updated by R T C Cookson and published in 1905: p98.

JANUARY TO EASTER 1876 - that is to say, around the time of his mother’s death.

MWB and his brother Leonard were day pupils at Malvern School.  Leonard had started at the school in September 1875; they both left at Easter 1876.

Source: The Malvern Register 1865-1904 originally compiled by L S Milward and E C Bullock; I saw the 2nd edition, updated by R T C Cookson and published in 1905: p91, p96, p98.



Death of MWB’s grandfather John Chalfont Blackden, at his house at Aspley Guise Woburn.

He left an estate worth over Ł50,000.  Marcus Seton Blackden and his two brothers were the executors of the Will; and I would imagine they were the major beneficiaries as well.

Source: probate registry.



MWB was a pupil at Repton School

Sources: Repton School Register Supplement to the 1910 Edition published by the School 1922, edited by the widow of Mr G S Messiter: p89, p94.  More generally on Repton School see its own website at and its wikipedia page.  Ex-pupils from later eras include Christopher Isherwood, Basil Rathbone, archbishop Ramsey, Graeme Garden and Jeremy Clarkson.



It was term-time so MWB was at Repton School Burton-on-Trent.  His widowed father Marcus Seton Blackden had gone to live with his uncle (MWB’s great-uncle) Rev Charles Blackden at 17 Wilton Crescent in Belgravia.

Sources: census.


2 JULY 1883

Death of MWB and Ada Mary’s uncle Rev Charles Blackden of Wilton Crescent Knightsbridge.

Sources: Times Wednesday 4 July 1883 p1 death announcements.

Probate Registry; death registration freebmd.

Illustrated London News of 8 September 1883 p246.

Comment by Sally Davis: inheriting money from his dead sisters Mary and Henrietta (see 1863 and 1866) in addition to his inheritance from his father, the Rev Charles left personal effects worth over Ł66,000, and his share of the family property on Fore Street near Moorgate.  The bulk of his property went to his nephews, Marcus Seton Blackden and his brothers Frederick and Walter.



MWB and Ada Mary’s father Marcus Seton Blackden married for a second time.  His bride was Mary Elizabeth Cotter (born 1851) whose mother was a member of the Hall family.

Sources for Joseph Rogerson Cotter the younger:

At a family tree of the elder Joseph Rogerson Cotter the elder (1790-1868) and his descendants through his 18 children.

For Joseph Rogerson Cotter the younger see which uses Burke’s Peerage as its main source.



Birth of Theodora Cayley Blackden, daughter of Marcus Seton Blackden and Mary Elizabeth; half-sister of MWB and Ada Mary.

Source: birth registration though without full names, freebmd.



Birth of MWB’s first cousin and future wife Hilda Alethea Franklyn.  Her parents were Hollond Franklyn, brother of MWB’s mother Fanny; and Hollond’s second wife Lottie née Alves Jones, the daughter of a businessman with interests in England and New York.

Comment by Sally Davis: at the time of Hilda’s birth, her parents were living at Waltham St Lawrence in Berkshire; Hilda’s brother Alwyn was also born there, in 1897.  They didn’t remain there long, however: by 1896 they had leased Longcroft Hall at Yoxall near Lichfield.

Sources: for the birth - registration freebmd. 

For Longcroft Hall see

* quote from History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire 1851.

* which uses Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales compiled by John Marius Wilson and published 1870-72.

* at Lost Heritage there’s a photograph of Longcroft Hall, looking rather grim; it has since been demolished.

* at there’s a transcription done in 2012 of Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire issue of 1896.



MWB came of age. 

Source: A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry later ed 1937 p176 - children of Marcus Seton Blackden.

Comment by Sally Davis: unless a different age was specified in the legal documents, on his 21st birthday MWB will have gained access to money and income left to him by the various relations in whose Wills he was a beneficiary.  The money was paid through a trust fund, and was enough to make him independent of his father; it also meant he didn’t have to work if he didn’t chose to.  One source says that later in his life he became a journalist; but at least during the time he was going to Egypt and being a member of the GD, he was not doing any paid work.


8 OCTOBER 1885

Death of MWB and Ada Mary’s grandmother Mary Blackden née Franklyn, of 6 Norfolk Crescent.

Comment by Sally Davis: Mary Blackden was the most seriously wealthy of all MWB’s relations: she left personal estate worth about Ł90,000.  Her nephew Hollond Franklyn (MWB’s future father-in-law) was one of her executors. 

Source: Probate Registry.


?1886 TO 1888

MWB studied drawing and painting at the Royal Academy Schools.  In his last (or only) year there he won a prize in the RA’s ‘painting of figure from the life’ section.  As it is not dated, I’m cautiously placing to about this time a self-portrait in oil and pastels that MWB painted.

Sources for the prize: The British Architect: A Journal of Architecture and its Accessory Arts volume 31 July-Dec 1888.  Published London: p431 in issue of 14 December 1888: Royal Academy Schools awards.  Frederick, Lord Leighton handed out the prizes, in a ceremony on 10 December 1888.  And The Magazine of Art London, Paris, New York, Melbourne: Cassell and Co Ltd 1889.  At the back in the Chronology of Art section: pxv.

Sources for the self-portrait: the painting, now owned by MWB’s great-grand-daughter. 



MWB exhibited one work at the Royal Academy and one at the Walker Art Gallery (possibly the same work).  The work at the RA was catalogue number 386: An Episode of the Deluge. 

Comment by Sally Davis: although MWB had an agent in 1890 - J B Smith of 117 Hampstead Road - he never exhibited any works after 1890.

Sources for what little art work MWB did exhibit:

Royal Academy of Arts.  Exhibitors 1769-1904 volume 1 A-D p206.

The Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940 published by the Antique Collectors’ Club 1976: p61.

Seen 19 July 2013, which lists 212,055 paintings now in public collections (though not necessarily on display).  The website has no works at all by MWB.



MWB’s sculpture Bather Surprised was exhibited.  It might be the work exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery.

98cm high by 20cm maximum width by 20 cm maximum depth; plaster finished with bronze; signed.

Sources are all websites of antiques dealers, and none give details of where it was exhibited.  The statue was sold by Bamfords Auctioneers on 12 February 2014; it had a reserve price of Ł200.  You can see pictures of it at and; and details of the sale at 



Birth of Seton Blackden, youngest child of Marcus Seton Blackden and his second wife Mary Elizabeth; half-brother of MWB and Ada Mary.

Sources: birth registration though without forenames, freebmd.


WINTER 1890-91

MWB was in Egypt - see that file for further details.


MWB hadn’t returned from Egypt yet.  His father Marcus Seton and his family - wife Mary Elizabeth, daughters Ada Mary and Theodora, and son Seton, were all living at 16a Oxford Square Paddington, where they employed a cook, two housemaids, a nurse and a nursery maid.

Not very many of the GD members came from a family which could afford that many servants.

Sources: census.




BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.


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


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


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


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


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


Catalogues: British Library; Freemasons’ Library.


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




18 May 2015


Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: