GOLDEN DAWN: CHARLES HENRY ROSHER – PROFILE AND PUBLICATIONS
with some coverage of CAROLINE LILY ROSHER
Compiled: July and August 2023
IN THE GD
Charles Rosher was initiated into the GD at its Isis-Urania temple in London in May 1894. He had chosen the motto Aequo animo. Initiated on the same evening was Charles Weekes, a friend of W B Yeats from Dublin. Charles was a relative newcomer to the occult; despite this, he completed the programme of study new members were expected to follow in about 18 months and was initiated into the inner, 2nd Order in September 1895. He was a fairly active member over the next few years but didn’t join either of the GD’s two main daughter orders; instead he maintained some kind of friendship with Aleister Crowley and may have been a member of Astrum Argentum.
The woman who was understood by GD members to be Charles’ wife – Lily Summers Rosher – did not play so active a role in the Order. She was not initiated until November 1896, at the Isis-Urania temple and on the same night as Vyvyan Dent, who was in London on leave from his job in China. Lily reached the Practicus, 3=8, level but didn’t go further so she was never in the 2nd Order. She had chosen the motto Constantia and continued to use it after the GD, when she may have been in Astrum Argentum.
Charles was not yet a member of the 2nd Order when he was invited to play a part in a ritual invoking the malevolent spirit of the planet Mercury. The Great Spirit Taphthartharath ritual, devised by Allan Bennett, took place on 13 May 1895. As well as Bennett and Charles, Frederick Leigh Gardner and Florence Farr were the other participants; with Farr, who had acting experience, leading the invokation and Charles playing the role of magus of the fire.
In December 1896 Samuel Mathers expelled Annie Horniman from the GD for reasons that were petty and nothing to do with the occult. Charles signed the petition that Frederick Leigh Gardner organised to have Mathers reinstate her. Lily, who had only been a GD member for a few weeks, didn’t sign the petition. The petition’s only effect was to cause Mathers to make the issue one of unquestioning obedience to his decrees. But Charles then wrote to Mathers, making a direct, personal plea to him, praising Annie as a teacher and reminding Mathers of how hard she worked for the Order. Mathers still didn’t budge.
Around the time of Charles’ appeal to Mathers’ better nature, William Wynn Westcott’s employers at the London County Council demanded that he resign from all the posts he held within the GD. These included the keeping of the administrative and financial records of the Isis-Urania temple. Westcott wrote to Gardner to tell him the news. Westcott suggested that Gardner himself, with Charles, and Ada Waters, divide between them all record-keeping he had been doing. This didn’t happen: Mathers appointed Florence Farr to replace Westcott and she made other choices about the temple’s admin.
Aleister Crowley joined the GD’s Isis-Urania temple in November 1898 and Charles and Lily probably met him soon afterwards. By the end of 1899 Crowley had learned a great deal about magic from Allan Bennett, and wanted to undertake the Abramelin set of rituals translated by Samuel Mathers. He bought Boleskine, a house on Loch Ness, as a suitable place to carry them out. Thinking he had better have an experienced occultist with him during the process, he firstly approached George Cecil Jones. Jones was unable to go, so Crowley asked Charles if he would go, and Charles agreed. But according to Crowley, a month into the rituals, Charles deserted him – leaving Boleskine without any leave-taking or explanation. Perhaps I should say here that the only source for Crowley’s attempts to find a minder for himself is Crowley’s own Confessions, written many years after the event and never intended to be an accurate account of Crowley’s life.
In 1900 a crisis developed in the GD that resulted in the expulsion from it of Samuel Mathers, Crowley and several others; and the setting up of a Council of 2nd Order members to run the Isis-Urania temple. Until this point officers in the GD had been appointed by Westcott or Mathers, but in April 1900 elections were held for positions on the new Council. Charles was elected to one of the Council’s teaching posts; to teach symbolism. I’m not sure how active he would have been able to be during the next three years, however; he may often have been out of the country. When the original GD fell apart in spring 1903 he did lend obvious support to any of the factions that were arguing about the GD’s future.
Sources for Charles and Lily in the GD
The GD Companion by R A Gilbert. Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press 1986: p152 for Charles with Charles giving his business premises at 39 Victoria Street as his address; p157 for Lily who gave what was their home address at the time.
The Great Spirit Taphthartharath:
Though he was not a member of the GD in 1895, Crowley was told about the ritual by Allan Bennett. Bennett gave him the text of it and Crowley later published it. It appeared in Crowley’s magazine The Equinox volume 1 number 3 1910. That article can be read online now, for example at //hermetic.com/crowley/equinox/i/iii.
John L Crow has been working on the life and writings of Allan Bennett for many years and has made an in-depth analysis of the Great Spirit Taphthartharath ritual. See Crow’s The Life of Allan Bennett, Bhiddu Ananda Mattreyya volume 1: Biography and Collected Works, editors John L Crow and Elizabeth J Harris. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing Ltd.
Annie Horniman’s expulsion:
The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923 by Ellic Howe. Published Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972. Foreword by Gerald Yorke: p139 for the dates most people signed the petition; p143 for a list of signatories.
Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number NS73 - Frederick Leigh Gardner, letters to him but also some copies of letters by him and others. Amongst the copies is one Charles made and sent to Gardner of the letter he composed in March 1897 to send to Mathers in Paris. Torquoise ink, large letters with flourishes, blots – the letter fits how I see Charles Rosher very well! Unlike other members of the GD, Charles had not got enough personal experience of Samuel Mathers as its leader to compose his plea carefully so that it wouldn’t set up Mathers’ back. His letter praised Annie’s “uniform kindness, firmness [and] painstaking thoroughness which characterised her work as a teacher”; her “exemplary devotion to our beloved Order”; and her readiness to set aside personal interests for the GD’s good. Rosher felt her expulsion “almost as a personal blow”. He said how “sad” everybody was at what had happened. He thought that her place would not be easily filled. He ended the letter with a cheery “fraternal good wishes, now and for all time!” and described himself as “Your earnest disciple”. It’s a pity in a way that there’s no record of any reply to Charles that Mathers might have sent!
As a possible replacement for William Wynn Westcott:
Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number NS73 - letters to Frederick Leigh Gardner. Letter from Westcott to Gardner, dated 17 March 1897.
Crowley and Abramelin:
The Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage translated by Samuel Mathers. London: John Watkins 1898. See p43 of Tobias Churton (publications details below): Mathers’ source was a manuscript in the Bibliothèque de L’Arsenal in Paris.
The Spirit of Solitude. An Autohagiography. Subsequently re-antichristened The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. London: Mandrake Press 1929: p268 for Crowley’s account of Charles, most of which is not quite accurate; p261 for “the Operation of the Sacred Magick” (Abramelin), for which Crowley found Boleskine in August 1899; and pp269-270 for the drop-out rate amongst Crowley’s assistants; and that he and Charles met up again several years later. Crowley doesn’t mention either Charles or Lily as members of the Order Astrum Argentum and Lily’s not mentioned in the Confessions at all.
Tobias Churton’s Aleister Crowley The Biography: Spiritual Revolutionary, Romantic Explorer, Occult Master - and Spy. London: Watkins Publishing 2012. Rosher is not in the index and doesn’t figure in pp 43-57 and p121, Churton’s account of Crowley’s attempt to do the Abra-Melin rituals at Boleskine House. Crowley was still trying to complete the set of rituals in 1906.
AFTER THE GD
Charles and Lily may have been members of Astrum Argentum, which can be seen as one of the GD’s daughter orders though there was more Buddhism in its teaching than was true of the 1890s GD, a legacy from Crowley’s friendship with the GD’s Allan Bennett. As far as I know, no lists of the Order’s members exist now, and as neither Charles nor Lily are mentioned in Crowley’s documents from the period, evidence for them as members can only be speculative. My hunch is based on the friendship of both Charles and Lily with Ethel and Eugene Wieland who were very close to Crowley. There’s evidence from 1915 of this friendship. It is in the Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number DD17b, which is mostly poems written by Ethel Archer Wieland with some items by her husband. The evidence is in a letter; its writer and recipient are not named but Gerald Yorke pencilled in Charles as the writer and Ethel as the recipient as part of his cataloguing efforts. Charles had written the letter on 19 October 1915, on hearing that Eugene Wieland had been killed in the war. He addressed Ethel as “Care Soror” and used the Order’s short-form title. Mention was made in the letter of ‘Constantia’ – Lily’s GD motto – and of ‘Bogie’ – perhaps a pet dog – and there was even a hint that Ethel may have known Charles’ mother.
For Astrum Argentum:
Tobias Churton’s Aleister Crowley The Biography: Spiritual Revolutionary, Romantic Explorer, Occult Master - and Spy. London: Watkins Publishing 2012: pp123, pp129-31, p140 for the early days of Astrum Argentum; on whose curriculum Crowley worked with ex-GD member George Cecil Jones.
For the Wielands:
1911 census at 124 Victoria Street where the head of household was Aleister Crowley. Eugene Wieland (31), Ethel Archer Wieland (25) and Victor Neuburg are all listed as visitors. Eugene Wieland’s occupation was described by Crowley as ‘private secretary’ – presumably Crowley’s; Neuburg’s was described as ‘private chaplain’.
Wikipedia’s page on the magazine The Equinox, founded by Crowley in 1909, shows that the issues from autumn 1911 to autumn 1913 were published by Wieland and Co of 3 Great James Street, Gray’s Inn.
The British Libary catalogue has some volumes of poetry by Ethel Archer Wieland, and a novel called The Hieroglyph.
Sources for Eugene Wieland’s involvement in World War 1 are rather sparse. He’s listed as a Sergeant in the 19th Battalion, London Regiment, with the date of death, at //astreetnearyou.org. The Imperial War Museum doesn’t seem to have information on him; and there was no probate registry entry.
A SHORT – actually fairly lengthy! - LIFE-BY-DATES of this multi-talented and much-travelled man. The layout is: what was happening in Charles’ life in italics; sources, explanations etc in my usual Times New Roman.
Birth of Caroline Lily Porter, who was usually known as Lily. She was the eldest child of Thomas and Isabella Porter. Thomas worked as a house painter and decorator
Source: freebmd, census 1861.
Charles Henry Rosher born
Source: baptism record seen at Familysearch.
Charles was the eldest child of Frederick Rosher (1829-97) and Mary Sophia White (1833-1918) who had married in 1857. The Rosher family were dealers in lime, wood and coal; all needed in the construction and other industries. The business had started out in Gravesend and Northfleet but by the mid-19th century was based in Limehouse and Poplar. Charles and his next brother Percy never played any active part in the business.
The Clock Tower: Newsletter of Friends of Medway Archive Issue 9 February 2008 pp41-47 The Rosher Family: From Gravesend to Hollywood by Amanda Thomas. Read it at www.foma-lsc.org/Downloads/Issue9.pdf The article has much more information on the family, going as far back as the 18th century and as far afield as Monmouthshire and Suffolk.
In 1895 the family business was turned into a limited company, perhaps looking to the future on Frederick’s retirement to Sussex. Source for that: Times 17 December 1895 p4: share issue for Rosher and Co.
Some members of the Rosher family were supporters of the Royal Homoeopathic Hospital in Bloomsbury though Charles himself was not involved:
The Royal Homoeopathic Hospital Great Ormond Street London 1849-1949 printed for the hospital by Maxwell Love and Co: on p21, H Rosher was the hospital’s treasurer from 1859 to 1880. On p22 future GD member Charles Lloyd Tuckey is listed as having joined the hospital’s medical staff in 1878.
Caroline Lily Porter married Frank John Summers
1878 to ?1880; then possibly 1884 and 1885 in legal actions
Charles was working as an engineer with Mark William Household, making and installing steam valves for tramway cars
That they worked on tramway engines: The Law and Practice of Letters Patent for Inventions 1897 by Lewis Humfrey Edmunds and Thomas Moffitt Stevens: p170.
For Mark William Household apparently of Birmingham:
Irish Builder and Engineer issue of 1 August 1887 p223 New Patents: one for Mark William Household (not including Rosher) of 6 Livery St Birmingham.
The Brewer’s Guardian issue of 16 April 1889 p124 patent application from lawyers at 47 Lincoln’s Inn Fields representing Mark William Household: improvements in apparatus for raising or forcing liquids.
The Engineer volume 68 1889 p151 the Jet Pump Co Ltd, newly registered and either seeking or already with capital of £30,000. The company would supervise the patent rights of William Johnson and Mark William Household. Rosher was not in the short list of subscribers to the share issue, which was headed by Mark William Household of Pershore Road Birmingham.
1891 census for a house in Edgbaston where Mark William Household and his wife Mary were boarders. He was aged 60, born Hastings; describing his occupation as engine and machine maker.
September 1880 to April 1881 – which are the dates of the war; not necessarily the dates of Rosher’s involvement
Charles was working as a special correspondent for the Eastern Province Herald newspaper; covering the Basuto Gun War
Source: the dates of the war – wikipedia; Rosher’s involvement as a war correspondent - The Literary Year-Book 1921 editor Mark Meredith. Published London: George Routledge and Sons Ltd and New York: E P Dutton and Co. On p293 in the list of authors and journalists: entry
for Charles Henry Rosher FRGS.
The Eastern Province Herald still exists and is still based in Pretoria. Charles may have gone to scene of the war with the 4th Service Detachment of Prince Alfred’s Guard, which left Pretoria on 25 September 1880 and returned there on 15 May 1881.
Source for the newspaper and the involvement in the war of Prince Alfred’s Guard: the history and events pages of its own website at www.pe.org.za/historicalfacts.html
Charles’ brother Percy married Mary Burns (known as ‘Pumps’), adopted daughter of Frederick Engels
Charles was not in England on census day; presumably still in Africa
Source: census details.
Charles married Emily Frances Bevan (born 1859), daughter of retired ironmonger Matthew Bevan of Gravesend and his wife Emma or Emily
For the Bevans: freebmd; 1861 census; 1881 census; Hall’s Gravesend, Milton and Northfleet Directory 1862 p2.
Details of the marriage seen at FindMyPast: 28 September 1882 at St Matthew’s Oakley Square St Pancras.
Rosher was working as an engineer in partnership with W J Bennett; the pair designed railway carriages and equipment for them and had offices and workshops in Fulham
Sources; though I haven’t been able to find out anything definite about W J Bennett
“Bennett and Rosher’s patent safety railway carriages”:
Engineering volume 34 issue of 1 September 1882 p221 the patent application; also reported in The Engineer volume 54 issue of 1 September 1882 p167.
The Railway Engineer volume 4 1883 p208: report on the Engineering and Metal Trades’ Exhibition including coverage of the patented railway carriage, a summary of the thinking behind it; and a description of how it would work in a crash. Illustrated by a drawing; same as the one in the advert in the Railway Times see below.
The Engineer volume 55 Jan-June 1883 p330: Bennett and Rosher; rolling stock.
Railway Locomotives and Cars volumes 56-57 1883 p267 Messrs Bennett and Rosher are at Church Street Chelsea.
The Railway Times issue of 29 September 1883 p976 an advert for Bennett and Rosher’s Patent Cylindrical Compartment Safety Railway Carriage. Office at 75 Church Street King’s Road though described as pro tem so they might not have stayed there.
The Scientific Review and the Scientific and Literary Review which is the Journal of the Inventors’ Institute. Volume 18 number 11 November 1883 pp121-22 article: A New Safety Railway Carriage.
Journal of the Statistical Society of London volume 46 number 4 December 1883 pp721-38: list of recent additions to the Society’s library includes Railway Collisions a 12-page pamphlet on the patent safety railway carriage, written by Rosher – see the Publications list below.
Charles and Emily Frances Rosher’s daughter Ethel Lacey Rosher was born; she died shortly after birth, but both parents still remembered her in 1911
1884 and 1885
A legal case about alleged patent infringements by Mark William Household and Charles Henry Rosher in 1878 and 1880 finally reached court. After a series of hearings, Household and Rosher were found not to have infringed the patent rights of Fairburn and Hall
Seen via //academic.oup.com Reports of Patent Cases issue of 17 July 1885 p140 an action in the High Court heard 30 April 1885: Household and Rosher v Fairburn and Hall. There was an action; and a counter-action.
The full case: The Law Times 13 December 1884 p498; the case had been heard on 8 May 1884.
Reports of the outcome, which created a precedent:
Reports of Patent, Design and Trade Mark Cases volume 3 1888 p2.
The Law and Practice of Letters Patent for Inventions 1897 by Lewis Humfrey Edmunds and Thomas Moffitt Stevens: p170.
Charles exhibited at the Inventions Exhibition a metal mock-up of a new design of ‘chair’, a device which can be attached to railway sleepers
Engineering issue of 9 October 1885 p341: report on the Inventions Exhibition which gave some details and had a picture of a metal “chair” designed by Rosher. Rosher’s current address: 23 Fulham Park Gardens and there was no mention of any involvement by W J Bennett.
Birth of Charles and Emily Frances’ only surviving child, the cinematographer Charles Gladdish Rosher
Sources: freebmd and family trees at Familysearch and Ancestry.
Emily Frances Rosher had a miscarriage while Charles was staying with Frederick Engels in Eastbourne
Source for this indication that Charles and Emily were still living as husband and wife:
Marx, Engels: Collected Works volume 48: Letters from Frederick Engels January 1887 to July 1890. London: Lawrence and Wishart 2002. On p92 letter written Eastbourne 4 August 1887 to Marx’s daughter Laura Lafargue.
Charles was issued with another new patent, this time for an “improved mechanism for operating a pair of cranks by means of levers”
Source: The Money Market Review issue of 15 September 1888 p488 New Patents.
?1888; by 1889
Charles and Emily Frances Rosher’s marriage broke down. Emily Frances took their son and returned to live with her parents. She petitioned for divorce. Charles set up house with Lily Summers, whose marriage had also collapsed by this time. Lily took the surname ‘Rosher’
The divorce petition: at FindMyPast, Divorce Index 1889. In petition number 3070 Emily Frances Rosher is the petitioner and Charles Henry Rosher the respondent. It’s not clear from the entry whether a co-respondent was listed; or whether the divorce was granted.
For Charles and Lily being a couple widely understood to be husband and wife, see sources below. Sources for the start of the relationship are inevitably difficult to find, but when Lily Rosher filled in the 1911 census form she completed the boxes so as to give the impression she had been married since 1888. As far as I can tell, Lily Summers was never divorced from Frank.
Just noting here that I haven’t found any evidence that Charles Rosher was interested in the occult prior to his setting up home with Lily Summers Rosher.
Charles and Lily were not in England on census day
Source: census details.
Charles and Lily Rosher joined the Theosophical Society as members of Croydon Lodge. At that date they were living at 34 Northcote Road Croydon.
Source: Theosophical Society Membership Register January 1889-September 1891 p236 entries for Charles H Rosher and Lily Rosher. Applications dated 6 July 1891.
At that stage, would-be members of the TS had to have two sponsors who were members already.
Charles and Lily’s sponsors were brother and sister Sidney and Frances Coryn. The Coryn family of south London were very active members of the TS in the early 1890s. Sidney, his brother Herbert and his sister-in-law Jessie Horne also joined the GD.
Herbert and Sidney Coryn in the TS: Theosophical Society Membership Register January 1889-September 1891 p100 applications of Frances, Herbert and Sidney Coryn. Herbert and Frances are of Brixton Lodge; Sidney is of Croydon Lodge.
Charles was granted another patent for apparatus which improved the purification and heating of air
Mining Journal, Railway and Commercial Gazette volume 63 1893 issue of 16 December 1893 p1389: New Patents.
Charles founded and then was chairman of the Rainbow Engineering Company of 9 and then 39 Victoria Street Westminster
Public Health volume 3 number 11 1890 p256/pxi an advert for the firm, which installed the “Rosher system” (that’s the advert’s quotation marks) of heating and maintaining water temperature in local authority public baths. The firm also installed and maintained equipment in Turkish baths; hot-air drying apparatus; filters and appliances for purifying water; pumps; low water alarm systems; and jet condensors. Current address: Westminster Chambers 9 Victoria Street.
Seen at Familysearch: voter details 1890 and 1892 (but not before or after) for St Margaret Westminster Ward 3: Victoria Street. Charles Rosher at Westminster Chambers 9 Victoria Street.
The Electrician volume 32 1894 issue of 5 January 1894 p250: Rainbow Engineering Company in a long list of companies each having an amount of capital listed to the right of them – it’s not clear whether they have the capital in hand, or are seeking investors. Rainbow Engineering Company’s figure is £20,000.
Transactions of the Sanitary Institute p116 in the Transaction’s Division C Class III Section 1: mentions a medal won in 1890 by the Rainbow Engineering Company; report includes drawings and a description of how the system works.
The Electrician and Electrical Trades Handbook 1895 p576 in a list, probably of engineering firms or perhaps public health contractors: Rainbow Engineering Company Ltd of Albany Buildings, 39 Victoria Street.
Kelly’s Directory of London 1896 street directory p7245 entry for 39 Victoria Street showing it to be occupied by about 40 different businesses and charities. It doesn’t look as though anyone lives there. The businesses include that of Charles Henry Rosher, civil engineer.
1893 (no more specific date)
Charles was initiated as a freemason in craft lodge Royal Hanover 1777, which met at the Town Hall in Twickenham. He was never a keen freemason, fell behind with his yearly subscriptions and was deemed to have resigned a few years later
United Grand Lodge of England membership details to 1921, now on Ancestry.
Lane’s Masonic Records at www.dhi.ac.uk
In 1895 Charles used his membership of lodge 1777 to become a corresponding member of craft lodge Quatuor Coronati 2076 which had been founded to study the history and symbolism of freemasonry. GD founder William Wynn Westcott was a very active full member of this lodge.
Source: Ars Quatuor Coronatorum 2076 volume 8 1895 endpapers which list current full and corresponding members: p47. Charles’ address for correspondence was c/o the National Liberal Club.
Charles’ GD initiation
Source: R A Gilbert see the GD section above.
Rosher and Lily Rosher were deemed to have left the TS as they had not paid their annual subscription for three years. Later, a note “W Q Judge” was added to their membership records
Theosophical Society Membership Register January 1889-September 1891 p236 entries for Charles H Rosher and Lily Rosher. The cryptic note added to their record indicated that the Roshers had supported the losing side in a battle for control of the TS worldwide which began after the death of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in 1891. W Q Judge – William Quan Judge – was an American who had been a member of the TS since its formation in the 1870s. The Coryn family also supported Judge, against Annie Besant who had the backing of the British and European divisions of the TS. The Coryns were not active in the TS in England after 1895.
Source for the Coryns as Judge supporters: Theosophical Society Membership Register January 1889-September 1891 p100: notes of subscriptions received – none after 1895; and “W Q Judge” written across the records of Frances, Herbert and Sidney Coryn.
1895 to 1897
Charles and Lily Rosher were living at 342 London Road Croydon
Voter details for St Margaret Westminster Ward 3 1895, 1896 and 1897: home address for Charles Rosher whose business address was Victoria Street.
13 May 1895
The night of the Great Spirit Taphthartharath GD ritual, with Charles but not Lily taking part
The Equinox volume 1 number 3 1910. That article can be read online now, for example at //hermetic.com/crowley/equinox/i/iii. The date and timing of the ritual had been calculated using astrology.
The Rainbow Engineering Company had to be wound up for lack of capital
London Gazette 23 June 1896 p3659: In the Matter of the Rainbow Engineering Company Ltd. Two meetings of shareholders were held as the company ran out of money. Charles chaired both of them and was appointed the firm’s liquidator. After the collapse of Rainbow Engineering Charles doesn’t seem to have gone into business again, either on his own or with partners.
Lily’s GD initiation. At the time, she and Charles were living at 24 Barrow Road Streatham Common
Source: R A Gilbert see GD section above.
They do get around!
Charles signed Frederick Leigh Gardner’s petition to reinstate Annie Horniman, expelled from the GD by Samuel Mathers
The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923 by Ellic Howe. Published Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972. Foreword by Gerald Yorke: p139 for the dates most people signed the petition; p143 for a list of signatories.
Charles’ personal appeal to Samuel Mathers to reinstate Annie Horniman into the GD
Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number NS73. Copy of Charles’ letter to Mathers; incorrectly dated to 1896.
Charles was suggested as a possible administrator of Isis-Urania temple
Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number NS73. Letter William Wynn Westcott to Frederick Leigh Gardner; dated 17 March 1897 and marked “Private”.
Charles and probably Lily too were in Morocco where Charles was working for Sultan Mulai Abd-el-Aziz as an engineer and surveyor, based in Fez. While they were there Charles (and presumably Lily too) met Robert Cunningham Graham
Charles’ book Light for John Bull… for the full publication details see the Publications section. For Charles’ job-titles in Morocco (though he doesn’t give any dates): Cunningham Graham’s Preface p14; and for their meeting there p15 though Lily isn’t mentioned.
Charles’ employer Sultan Abd-el-Aziz (1881-1943) had succeeded to the sultanate of Morocco on the death of his father but ruled with the help of a regent until 1900. Sources: wikipedia on Abdelaziz; and on Morocco.
For more on Robert Bontine Cunningham Graham (1852-1936), another much-travelled man, see his wikipedia page; and //dgl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk
Glasgow Digital Library’s copy of Who’s Who in Glasgow originally published 1909.
Other GD members know Robert and/or his wife:
Collected Letters of W B Yeats volume 1 1865-95. Editors/compilers: Eric Domville and John Kelly. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1986. On p55 GD member W B Yeats met Cunningham Graham’s Mexican wife in 1888, at a socialist tea party held at Kelmscott House, home of William Morris.
Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 annotated and edited by Stanley Weintraub. University Park Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press 1986. On p352: Shaw had met Robert Cunningham Graham by February 1888 though they didn’t know each other well. If Shaw was acquainted with Cunningham Graham it’s possible that friends of his who were in the GD – Florence Farr and Constance Wilde for example – had met him too.
1897/1898; winter/early spring. I’ve done this in more detail as the GD members were so interested in the magic of ancient Egypt
Charles and Lily were in Egypt, at Dendera. Charles had been hired by Sara Yorke Stevenson of the American Exploration Society to do some survey work at Dendera. He learned some excavation techniques from Flinders Petrie. While carrying out the survey, he also did some excavation work and drew plans of some of the tombs on the site
Most sources describe Charles’ work at Dendera as a survey only; but there are artefacts at the University of Pennsylvania Museum that are labelled “Rosher Excavation, 1898”.
Sources, which don’t all agree on the details of Charles’ work at Dendera; nor about the exact order of the events:
Flinders Petrie: A Life in Archaeology by Margaret S Drower. University of Wisconsin Press 1st ed 1985; this is from 2nd edition 1995: pp245-247 confirms that both Charles and Lily were at Dendera. Mrs Stevenson reached Dendera in February 1898 having already made contact with Charles, who seems to have been there already. Charles learned the basic excavation techniques at Mrs Stevenson’s request. She also asked Charles to negotiate with the French authorities that controlled archaeology in Egypt for permission to take finds back to the US. He made a mess of the talks, getting people’s backs up, and she had to go to Aswan to smoothe the situation out.
Scholars, Scoundrels and the Sphinx: A Photographic and Archaeological Adventure up the Nile by Elaine Altman Evans. Catalogue of an exhibition at the Frank H McClung Museum, University of Tennessee. Published: University of Tennessee 2000: p50, information on University of Pennsylvania Museum catalogue number E3757; and p55 for what Charles was doing in Egypt.
Website www.penn.museum/collections-list/236-manuscript-collections.html: a reference to catalogue number 1007 which suggests Charles Rosher was at Dendera in 1896 as well as 1897/98.
There’s some information on Charles at Dendera in Dendera in the Third Millennium BC by Henry George Fischer. Published Locust Valley New York: J J Augustin 1968. An online source quoted pp15-18 in Fischer’s book for this information:
- that Charles and Lily were only at Dendera at the same time as the Flinders Petries for two weeks before the Flinders Petries left for Europe;
- that Charles’ survey and digging work was all carried out on the southern-most of the two mastabas on the site; and
- no excavations took place at Dendera between 1898 and 1915; meaning that Charles didn’t return to Dendera after that one visit.
I haven’t been able to find a copy of Fischer’s book yet to check out the information.
Expedition volume 21 1978 p6 reports that the only record of Rosher’s work at Dendera in 1898 was a single drawing, now in the archives at the University of Pennsylvania.
Website www.penn.museum/sites/egypt/dendereh.shtml is the site of Expeditions Past and Present to Dendera.
There’s an illustration of Charles’ drawing of Dendera on the web pages of the University of Pennsylvania museum: www.penn.museum and then take option ‘collections’, option ‘museum archives’ and search using ‘Rosher’.
Web pages Breaking Ground www.brown.edu where the page on Mrs Sara Yorke Stevenson says that 42 boxes of artefacts from the work done at Dendera in 1897/98 by Flinders Petrie and Charles Rosher were sent back to the University of Pennsylvania.
Probably November 1899
Charles’ short period with Aleister Crowley at Boleskine
Tobias Churton’s Aleister Crowley The Biography: Spiritual Revolutionary, Romantic Explorer, Occult Master - and Spy. London: Watkins Publishing 2012. Rosher is not in the index and doesn’t figure in pp 43-52 the account of Crowley’s attempt to do the Abra-Melin rituals at Boleskine House in 1899. If Charles did go to Boleskine, he left pretty quickly. A replacement for Charles was at Boleskine by mid-December 1899 – GD member William Evans Humphrys whom Crowley had known at Cambridge University. NB that Churton spells Humphrys’ surname wrongly as HumphrEys – a common mistake in the sources for Humphrys.
In the shake-up which followed the expulsion of Samuel Mathers, Aleister Crowley and others from the GD, Rosher was appointed the GD’s teacher of symbolism
The GD Companion by R A Gilbert. Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press 1986: p228 for the date of the elections; p78 for the names of those elected.
Charles and Lily Rosher were living in an unnumbered house on Gordon Avenue Hendon
Source: census 1901 where Lily was listed as the head of the household; and Charles’ occupations were described as ‘civil engineer/architect’; he was listed as an employer. They didn’t have any live-in servants.
Charles returned to Morocco
Source seen at FindMyPast: list of passengers on the Forwood Brothers and Co’s ship Zweena, leaving London for Morocco on 9 April 1902. Charles, described in the list as an “artisan”, left the ship at Larache. Lily didn’t make the trip with him. I guess Charles’ return means that he was still doing work for Sultan Mulai Abd-el-Aziz.
Charles was the resident at 17 John Street, Holborn
Source seen at FindMyPast: Electoral Registers for Holborn Polling District number 2. Charles is listed at the address in 1902 but not before or after. Presumably Lily lived there while Charles was in Morocco.
Charles gave a talk on his time at Fez
Times 11 November 1905 p7 To-day’s Arrangements. Charles’ talk was entitled ‘Fez. Some Personal Experiences and Impressions’. The venue was Ye Old Bell Hotel Queen Victoria Street but the Times didn’t give any indication as to what society had organised the talk. Though there was not much interest in Morocco amongst members of the British public, Charles was getting a reputation as an expert on the country. A few years later he gave author Donald Alexander Mackenzie a plan of the city of Fez, and was thanked by Mackenzie for other information on Morocco.
The Khalifate of the West: Being a General Description of Morocco by Donald Alexander Mackenzie. Published London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Co Ltd 1911. Preface pviii for Charles giving Mackenzie the plan of Fez; the plan is at p40.
1906 and 1907
Charles exhibited some paintings at the Dudley Art Gallery and the Institute of Oil Painters
Sources, assuming the exhibitor is the GD’s Charles, not his son or any of the other ‘charles roshers’ living in England at the time:
Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940 which is based on contemporary exhibition catalogues: p437.
Just noting, however, that there is no entry for anyone called Charles Rosher in Dictionary of British Art. Volume IV: Victorian Painters I: The Text. By Christopher Wood. Antique Collectors’ Club 1995: p449.
The Royal Institute of Oil Painters’ wikipedia page says that it was given ‘royal’ status by Edward VII in 1909; so in 1907 it wasn’t ‘royal’ yet.
Charles and Lily were living at 2 Orchard Studios, Brook Green in Hammersmith
Source: via Familysearch to voter details for Brook Green [Hammersmith] Polling District 1 including 2 Orchard Studios which was described as a “dwelling house” (that is, not as an office or business/industrial premises; nor an art studio despite its name). Charles Rosher was listed as the resident at the address in 1907 only; not before and not after. Lily was living there with him, I daresay, but of course, she couldn’t vote.
?1908 to ?
Charles and Lily may have been members of the magical order Astrum Argentum.
Source for the founding of AA: Tobias Churton’s Aleister Crowley The Biography: Spiritual Revolutionary, Romantic Explorer, Occult Master - and Spy. London: Watkins Publishing 2012: pp123-131. The order’s curriculum was compiled jointly by Crowley and GD member George Cecil Jones.
Sunday 2 April 1911
Charles Rosher spent the night of census day 1911 at his mother’s house, 6 Kidderminster Road West Croydon; and was listed as ‘son’, not ‘visitor’. Lily Summers Rosher was the sole occupant of 69 Waldo Road between Kensal Green and Willesden Junction. She was earning money as a self-employed dress and mantle maker
Census forms for those two addresses, which of course do just describe the situation on the night of census day. That Lily filled in the box about income I find intriguing. She could have wanted to record for posterity the work she had done back in the 1870s before she married Frank Summers. On the other hand, Charles told his mother to write ‘artistic and literary’ as his source of income. Perhaps Lily had gone back to work to supplement with some money of her own Charles’ rather unpredictable earnings. I wonder if Lily ever met Charles’ mother Maria Sophia Rosher? Given Victorian moral attitudes, there’s a good chance she never did.
For Charles and Lily still being a couple: Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number DD17b: papers by and about Ethel Archer Wieland. Letter probably from Charles to Ethel Archer Wieland, written aboard the City Line’s City of Paris “at Sea nearing Marseilles” 19 October 1915. The letter’s writer and recipient are not stated but Yorke wrote a pencil note on it, identifying both of them.
December 1912 to January 1913
Charles was a member of the London-based Albanian Committee
Albania’s Greatest Friend: Aubrey Herbert and the Making of Modern Albania; Diaries and Papers 1904-23 by Aubrey Herbert MP and Noel Malcolm, edited by Bejtullah Destani and Jason Tomes. London and NewYork: I B Tauris and Co Ltd in association with the Centre for Albanian Studies. 2011: pp65-66; p75; p83. The committee was set up to defend Albania’s interests in peace negotiations which were going on in London, attempting to end the Balkan War. The negotiations broke down in January 1913 following a coup d’état in Turkey.
Charles was working for the African Times as an editor
Source: The Literary Year-Book 1921 editor Mark Meredith. Published London: George Routledge and Sons Ltd and New York: E P Dutton and Co. On p293 in the list of authors and journalists: entry for Charles Henry Rosher FRGS.
I’m not sure what newspaper this was. The British Library’s Newspaper Catalogue has one called The African Times, published in London; but that ceased publication in 1902. It also lists an African Times and Orient Review “devoted to the interests of the coloured races of the world”, which perhaps is the one Charles worked for. It was published for a few months only, in 1912. The BL doesn’t give the place of publication.
Charles went to a meeting of the East India Association at which the Earl of Ronaldshay gave a “lantern lecture” he called ‘Impressions of India’
Asiatic Review formerly the Asiatic Quarterly Review is the magazine of the East India Association. Volume 6 number 15 issued April 1915 p270 report of the meeting held at Caxton Hall on Monday 15 February 1915. I took a look through volumes 6 and 7 but there was no indication that Charles was a member of the Association. He didn’t attend any more meetings in 1915; probably because he’d gone abroad.
1915 and early 1916
Charles was in Alexandria working as an editor of the Egyptian Herald
Source: The Literary Year-Book 1921 editor Mark Meredith. Published London: George Routledge and Sons Ltd and New York: E P Dutton and Co. On p293 in the list of authors and journalists: entry for Charles Henry Rosher FRGS, which notes that the newspaper was published daily, in Alexandria, but only in 1915.
Lily didn’t go with Charles to Alexandria, but they were still a couple. Source for their continuing relationship, and for Lily’s decision to remain in England: Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number DD17b: papers by and about Ethel Archer Wieland. Letter probably from Charles to Ethel Archer Wieland, written “at Sea nearing Marseilles” 19 October 1915. The letter’s writer and recipient are not stated but Yorke wrote a pencil note on it, identifying both of them.
Charles was at sea, probably making a trip back from Alexandria
Warburg Institute Gerald Yorke Collection catalogue number DD17b: papers by and about Ethel Archer Wieland. Letter probably from Charles to Ethel Archer Wieland, written aboard the City Line’s City of Paris “at Sea nearing Marseilles” 19 October 1915. The letter’s writer and recipient are not stated but Yorke wrote a pencil note on it, identifying both of them.
January-March quarter 1916
Lily Summers Rosher died
Source: freebmd. The death was registered in the Marylebone registration district; she was not with Charles in Alexandria.
?late 1915 ?early 1916 to April 1916
Charles was in Egypt again. He arrived in Liverpool on the City of Exeter having joined the ship at Port Said
Source: UK and Ireland Incoming Passenger Lists seen at Ancestry.
Charles gave a talk – ‘Gun War in Basutoland’ – to a Veterans’ Club
Source: Times 7 January 1919 p9 To-day’s Arrangements.
Emily Frances Rosher went to live in the United States
Source seen at FindMyPast: list of passengers on the Nieuw Amsterdam, leaving Plymouth on 7 November 1920 for New York. In Emily’s case the column “country of intended future permanent residence” was filled in: USA. I assume she went to live with Charles Gladdish Rosher in Los Angeles.
On census day, Charles Henry Rosher was living in the borough of Islington
Source: index details seen at FindMyPast. I can’t get any more details without paying.
Charles published a design for a purpose-built cinema
Charles’ interest in designing a good cinema must have come from keeping an eye on the career of Charles Gladdish Rosher in Hollywood - he had been working at United Artists filming Mary Pickford (its most popular star) since 1919.
For the drawing see the Publications section below.
imdb biography of Charles Gladdish Rosher.
Information on Charles Rosher’s last years is very sparse. I’ve searched with Familysearch and FindMyPast but he doesn’t appear even in electoral registers.
Charles Henry Rosher died
Source: freebmd. There’s no Probate Registry entry for him.
PUBLICATIONS with the early works as by Charles Rosher; and the latest two by Charles Henry Rosher. But they are the same person.
London: Haas and Co of 2 Langham Place. With illustrations by Rosher.
1925 Filia Maris a poem dedicated to the sacred memory of Mary Sophia Rosher née White
29 July 1833 to 11 April 1918.
London: The Pharos Publishing Company. This is Rosher’s ‘in memoriam’ poem to his mother.
1883 Railway Collisions
London: probably privately printed. 12-page description by Rosher of Bennett and Rosher’s patent safety railway carriage. Bennett and Rosher sent a copy to the Statistical Society.
Source for that copy:
Journal of the Statistical Society of London volume 46 number 4 December 1883 pp721-38: list of recent additions to the Society’s library. Perhaps the copy is still in the Society’s library. Let’s hope so because I haven’t come across any copies elsewhere.
On North Africa and Contemporary Politics:
1903 Sketch of a Gateway in Fez
London: The Graphic.
Light for John Bull on the Moroccan Question with a Note on Tripoli by CR. London: Hendersons of 66 Charing Cross Road. 1911. By Rosher as “Mohandis to the ex-Sultan of Morocco”; with a Preface by R B Cunninghame Graham; and on p10 a note from Edward Westermarch. There’s a hand-written note inside the British Library’s copy, noting that Rosher had presented it to the Library himself.
Plan of the city of Fez
In The Khalifate of the West: Being a General Description of Morocco by Donald Alexander Mackenzie. Published London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Co Ltd 1911: p40.
1912 The Red Oasis: A Record of the Massacres Perpetrated in Tripoli by the Italian Army October 23rd to 28th 1911.
London: Century Press Fulham.
An Engineering Design:
Design for a cinema
Catalogued as: Tentative Scheme for Kinema Hall designed optically for True Horizontal Projection on a Vertical screen
London: privately printed on an A4-sized sheet. It’s not a full-bodied architect’s drawing for a cinema that’s about to be built. The plan is marked ‘copyright’ and “Rosher System”, and there’s a note that a patent has been applied for. The plan in the British Library, now in a book with other architectural drawings, is probably a copy of one Charles sent to the patent office as part of his patent application. On bottom right it’s signed “Charles H Rosher CE and Architect” with the date underneath - “Oct 1922". Below the date, in pencil: “115 John St Bedford Row WC”.
I haven’t found any evidence that the patent was granted.
Libretto for a Song
1909 The Fair Truant
London: Goodwin and Tabb. There must be at least two settings of Rosher’s words, all with music composed by William Yeates Hurlstone: worldcat has
The Fair Truant: Song
The Fair Truant number 1 in D major
The Fair Truant number 3 in G major.
William Yeates Hurlstone (1876-1906) was the son of a surgeon who had died while William was a child. His mother was a piano teacher but William was his family’s main financial support. He studied music at the Royal College of Music where he was taught composition by Stanford. He died as the result of an asthma attack. Source for Hurlstone: wikipedia page.
DIFFICULT TO DATE
Literary and artistic contributor to: The Graphic; Pictorial World; Illustrated London News; Seafaring; Asiatic Review; Near East - etc. Contributor, special arts to: Daily Chronicle; Daily Mail; Manchester Guardian - etc. Also design and art work: cartoons, cover designs, land and sea scape, symbolic designs, maps, perspectives etc in colour, wash or line.
Source though without any specific dates:
The Literary Year-Book 1921 editor Mark Meredith. Published London: George Routledge and Sons Ltd and New York: E P Dutton and Co. On p293 in the list of authors and journalists: entry for Charles Henry Rosher FRGS; and p377 in the list of artists and illustrators p377. He had an agent for his illustration work: Truman and Knightley Ltd, 158-162 Oxford Street.
In Evelyn Waugh: A Literary Life by David Wykes 1999 p41 in a section covering 1924, Truman and Knightley are described as “scholastic agents, finding jobs for private school teachers and teachers for schools with vacancies”.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
16 August 2023
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