Eugène Henri Thiellay became a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden
Dawn in August 1888, a few months after the Order was founded. He was initiated at its Isis-Urania temple in
This is a short biography. There’s a lack of historical evidence for his life, for reasons which will become clear if you read through it. My basic sources for any GD member are in a section at the end of the file. Supplementary sources for this particular member are listed at the end of each section.
This is what I have found on EUGENE HENRI THIELLAY, who might have been called Henri or Henry rather than Eugène.
IN THE GOLDEN DAWN
No evidence that he was ever an active member and he may have resigned early in 1890, at the same time as he resigned from the Rosicrucian Society; for reasons he declined to explain.
ANY OTHER ESOTERIC INTERESTS?
The most common way into the GD in the first 13 years of its existence was via membership of the Theosophical Society. However, this was not the route that Eugène Henri took - he was never in the TS. His way in was through freemasonry.
FREEMASONRYit was all-too-easy to find Eugène Henri Thiellay - I got 401 responses to a search using his surname; and glancing through them it was obvious that he was very active, going to a great many lodge and other meetings, from the early 1870s to the late 1890s. I worked my way through the responses until the magazine reports started to get repetitive and there were no more new initiations - about the mid-1880s.
Eugène Henri may
have been a freemason in
April 1868 initiation was as a member of the Lodge of Prudent Brethren
145. As its low number indicates, it is
one of the oldest craft lodges in
In 1881 the lodge set up a benevolent fund to oversee the distribution to charity of 5% of its revenues. Lodge 145's had plenty of money to spend on charitable works, as it’s fees were high: in the 1880s it was charging 10 guineas for an initiation, a considerable sum at that time.
In December 1872 Eugène
Henri was one of those members of Lebanon Lodge 1326 who signed the petition to
the UGLE, asking permission to found an offshoot lodge as
In 1875 Eugène
Henri’s name headed the list of those that petitioned the UGLE to allow the
formation of New Cross Lodge 1559; and it was he who wrote the petition’s
accompanying letter. Also on the list of
petitioners were one member of Era Lodge 1423 and two from Lebanon Lodge 1326;
all acquaintances of his. The new lodge
was consecrated at the New Cross Public Hall on
This lodge was founded in 1884 by a
group of French businessmen living in
Although he never rose very high in
the UGLE’s national hierarchy, Eugène
Henri did serve in the
Family history information suggests that Eugène Henri was interested in the mystical side of Euclidean geometry, and wanted to get to know more about it. If you want to take your freemasonry further and explore its symbolism and rituals, the next initiation you need to undergo is one into a Royal Arch chapter. Royal Arch chapters are attached to craft lodges and have usually been founded by the lodge’s members. Although not all lodges have a chapter, two at least of the lodges Eugène Henri was a member of, did have one.
Prudent Brethren Lodge 145 had had a royal arch chapter in the early years of the 19th century. The Royal Arch Grand Chapter (royal arch’s governing body in England) removed the chapter from lodge 145’s control in 1866, so in 1869 the lodge members formed another one. Eugène Henri wasn’t one of its founding members, but he had joined by 1876 and was making his way up the chapter’s hierarchy of officers. He was the chapter’s Most Excellent Zerubbabel (MEZ) in 1878 and as with his years as WM in some craft lodges, reports of meetings during his year in office show it to have been a busy one, socially. In February 1878, Prudent Brethren Chapter 145 held a public night at the Freemasons’ Hall. Amongst the very long list of guests at this unusual freemasonry occasion was a William Kirby, who might have been the future GD member William Forsell Kirby. However, the chapter suffered from money problems, perhaps because of its very low subscription of 2 guineas a year (definitely not enough to hold a good public night on). There was also a lot of infighting amongst chapter members, leading to several instances of disputed elections to official posts.
A short note on disputed elections. My reading suggests that even having more than one candidate for any particular office, is very rare in freemasonry, these things usually being decided well in advance, at lodge or chapter meetings; and yet Eugène Henri was the member of one lodge and one chapter where they occurred at least once.
Lebanon Chapter 1326 was a more peaceful place than Prudent Brethren Chapter 145, and a more prosperous one. It met at the Red Lion Hotel in Hampton. Eugène Henri joined it in August 1875. His name was put forward almost at once for an official post at the Provincial Grand Chapter, and he served as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies.
A curious feature of this chapter was that its meetings got far more coverage in the freemasonry press than the meetings of its lodge did. Sir Francis Burdett took charge at its consecration in December 1876, at the King’s Arms Hotel in Hampton Court. Eugène Henri was made its Second Principal in the list of officers for the chapter’s first year; so that he will have served as First Principal (the equivalent to a craft lodge’s WM) in 1877-78. He was then the chapter’s MEZ until July 1879, when he was given a commemorative jewel by its other members.
After Royal Arch masonry, the next step into the esoteric side of freemasonry is via an initiation into a Mark Masonry lodge. Although it has antecedents in 16th century Scotland, English Mark Masonry developed in the mid-19th century - its first Grand Master was only appointed in 1856 and its earliest lodges date from 1857. It was and is separate from craft masonry with its own offices and national officers. In its early years it met in various freemasons’ halls until the early 1890s when it was able to afford its own hall, an ex-hotel on Great Queen Street Covent Garden.
Although I haven’t been able to discover the exact date, Eugène Henri must have been initiated into Mark Masonry - the correct term is ‘advanced’ - by 1871, when he was listed as a member of an MM lodge that had only just been founded: Northumberland MM Lodge 118. At the installation meeting in July 1871 he was made Junior Deacon for the coming 12 months. He should have served as WM in a year or two though I don’t know whether he actually did.
By November 1873 Eugène Henri had become a member of one of Mark Masonry’s most senior lodges, St Mark’s Lodge 1, founded in 1867. He served as its WM in 1877-78 and later as its lodge secretary. As a past WM of a Mark Masonry lodge he was eligible to join the MM Grand Stewards’ Lodge (which doesn’t have a number); during the 1880s he was working his way up the hierarchy there too.
From Royal Arch and Mark masonry there are a number of other routes a keen freemason can follow, depending on his particular interests and the opportunities that arise. However, these routes rely on personal introduction; and the orders often have quite demanding entrance requirements.
There’s evidence that this particular degree of freemasonry existed in some form in the 1790s but its governing body in England, the Grand Master’s Royal Ark Council, was not set up until 1871, a couple of years after Eugène Henri first got involved in freemasonry. The first Royal Ark lodge was founded in 1872. All candidates for initiation (correctly, ‘elevation’) into a Royal Ark lodge must be Mark Masons already.
In a list of senior officers in Royal Ark masonry, issued in 1871, Eugène Henri is the third-ranking of four men serving as Grand Stewards in the Royal Ark Council. He had been appointed in June 1871 when he attended the inaugural meeting of the Council. He was probably at the meeting on behalf of one of the groups that soon became the earliest Royal Ark lodges - Royal Clarence Royal Ark Lodge 1. That proto-lodge had held its third meeting in April 1871 in the Freemasons’ Hall in Basinghall Street, though as a fully-authorised lodge it moved to the Freemasons’ Tavern in Covent Garden (nearer where Eugène Henri worked - perhaps he had a say in the change of venue). He was also a member of another of these proto-lodges, the one that became Prince of Wales Royal Ark Lodge 2. I haven’t found much information on either of these lodges after their first few months in existence, so I don’t know how long he was a member of either of them; or whether he ever served as an officer.
The AAR is a form of craft freemasonry, with origins in the mid-18th century. It came to England and Wales from the USA in the early 19th-century and its governing body, the Supreme Council, was founded in 1845. It is separate from the UGLE with its own hierarchy, offices and initiations covering 18 to 33 degrees. Its equivalent to a craft lodge is known as a Rose Croix chapter. In becoming a member, Eugène Henri was joining an exclusive group: AAR initiation was by invitation only. All candidates had to have been freemasons for at least one year. To join the modern AAR candidates also have to profess belief in the Christian trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; in the 19th century, having to make such a statement wasn’t thought necessary.
Eugène Henri was initiated into the AAR’s rose croix chapter Palestine 29, which met at the AAR headquarters in 33 Golden Square. It had been founded in 1870 and he may have been a founder member (I haven’t found a list of the founders). Sir Francis Burdett who has been mentioned above, and William Robert Woodman who will be mentioned below, were also members of this chapter. To my surprise, so was the well-known spiritualist Rev William Stainton Moses - I hadn’t expected him to be a freemason. Though never a member himself, Rev Moses was acquainted with several people who were initiated into the GD. Eugène Henri was still a member of Palestine Chapter 29 in 1900 - he attended the installation meeting in December of that year - and had at some stage served as its WM-equivalent, its Most Wise Sovereign (MWS).
By 1876 Eugène Henri had undergone several more of the AAR’s initiations, to reach its 30º level. This was the highest level members could get to, without waiting upon dead men’s shoes: the 31º level had 81 members at any time and the 32º level only 45. Several other GD members had reached level 30º by 1888, when the GD was founded: Thomas Walker Coffin, Robert Roy and GD founder William Wynn Westcott. No one who joined the GD ever made it to the 32º level and only the Rev Thomas William Lemon got to level 31º; he had reached it by 1888.
This order’s full title, during Eugène Henri’s time in it, was the Imperial, Ecclesiastical and Military Order of Knights of the Red Cross of Rome and Constantine; which gives a flavour of what it was about. There’s evidence that the RCC’s basic rituals were in use in the early 19th century; but the groups using them were informal and self-governing, having no over-arching organisation or hierarchy until Robert Wentworth Little and others set up an RCC Grand Council in 1865. In the decades after that, the RCC expanded very rapidly both in England and abroad. The RCC’s equivalent to a craft lodge is called a ‘conclave’. All those wanting to be members of the RCC had to have been initiated into a Royal Arch chapter already.
The RCC has several smaller Orders contained in it, which only RCC members can join. I couldn’t find evidence of exactly when Eugène Henri joined the RCC but he was ‘admitted’ into one of those smaller orders, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre (KHS) at a meeting in May 1871. In August 1873 he was ‘received’ into another of these smaller orders, the Constantine Council of the Cryptic Rite; and at the same time he joined the Rosicrucian Society of which more below.
The first conclave that Eugène Henri joined in the RCC was its Plantagenet Conclave 2, which met at the Regent Street masonic hall. He was a member of that by April 1871 when he represented it at a meeting of the KHS Mount of Olives Sanctuary. He remained a member of Plantagenet Conclave 2 until the early 1880s at least and may have done his year as its Most Puissant Sovereign (MPS, its WM equivalent) though if he did do this, I couldn’t find out when. I have more information, however, on Eugène Henri as a member of the RCC’s Premier Conclave 1, which he joined in 1873. As their numbers suggest, both these conclaves were amongst the earliest to be founded. Premier Conclave 1 held its meetings at the Mark Masons’ Hall. GD member Nelson Prower joined it in 1886 and was its Most Puissant Sovereign (MPS, its WM equivalent) in 1891.
As with some of the other freemasonry organisations he was a member of, Eugène Henri was willing to do what many other freemasons were not - spend time, effort and sometimes money climbing the ladder of national office. He put more of this kind of effort into the RCC than any other of the freemasons’ orders he joined. He served a year as Grand Vice-Chamberlain in 1874. He did three separate sets of 12 months as a Grand Standard Bearer, in 1875, 1877 and 1879; most men just did one year in the post. As a senior member of the order it was probably part of Eugène Henri’s duties to help organise the annual balls that the RCC held during the 1870s. He definitely attended the one that took place in April 1876 at Willis’s Rooms in King Street, St James’s: 180 RCC members and their guests, including their women guests, were there, and the dancing went on until 4 in the morning. The guest list published in The Freemason only included the men who were there, not the women they had brought with them. For reasons that will be made clear if you read on, I would dearly love to know whether Eugène Henri brought a woman-guest with him; though I think he probably didn’t.
Eugène Henri was the RCC’s Grand Inspector of Regalia in 1880 - a job to which I think he must have been particularly well-suited. And in 1883 he was elected one of the 12 members of the RCC’s Grand Senate as its Grand Prefect; going on to do a year as its Grand Examiner in 1885. In 1886 he was Grand Historiographer and in 1887 he was Grand Orator; two more jobs I imagine he did well. He was the RCC’s Grand High Almoner - in charge of its charitable donations - in 1888. And in 1889 he made it onto the RCC’s most senior governing committee, its Grand Council, serving as its Grand Junior General for a year. This was as high up the RCC’s ladder as he got, but it was pretty high for someone not a member of the English aristocracy. In March 1890, at the end of his 12 months in that post, he attended the RCC’s annual meeting - its Grand Imperial Conclave - for the last time. He was still a member of the RCC’s Premier Conclave 1 in March 1899 though perhaps no longer very active in it.
This group of affiliated orders looks back to the military orders set up during the Crusades; though there is no historical evidence of any connection through the intervening centuries with those medieval organisations. The modern Grand Conclave which governs the orders was formed in 1791. Those hopeful to join the orders must be Christians; they must also be Royal Arch masons. The Order’s equivalent to a craft lodge is called a preceptory and its equivalent to a craft lodge’s WM is a preceptor. GD members Thomas Walker Coffin, William George Lemon, Thomas William Lemon and Nelson Prower were also members of the Knights Templar. The two men called Lemon, and Nelson Prower, were also in the Order of St John of...Malta.
Eugène Henri had been initiated - the correct term is ‘installed’ - into the Orders’ Holy Palestine Preceptory 129 by November 1874. He was its preceptor in 1888, the year he joined the GD. Holy Palestine 129 met at the AAR’s headquarters in 33 Golden Square. Eugène Henri also joined the Shadwell Clerke Preceptory on the day of its consecration, in January 1885; William George Lemon was also a member of this preceptory. However, Eugène Henri’s involvement with those two preceptories was the limit of his commitment to the Order: he was never an officer at national level; he didn’t join the Order of Malta as far as I can see; he didn’t go to any of the Order’s annual meetings; and was no longer in the Order at all by 1898.
This form of freemasonry arrived in England from the USA in the early 1870s, just after Eugène Henri first became a freemason. It grew slowly and by its annual meeting of 1888 had only 15 councils (its equivalent of a craft lodge) five of which were dormant. It was governed by a Grand Council and had its own offices, in the masonic hall in Red Lion Square. It was very London focused, with four of the councils meeting in the city. To be considered for initiation (the correct term is ‘received and acknowledged’) into the RSM, candidates need to be Royal Arch masons. Two GD members other than Eugène Henri were in the RSM - Nelson Prower and Rev Thomas William Lemon. They had both joined it by the annual meeting of its Grand Council in February 1888, which I think was only the first or second the RSM had ever held. Eugène Henri joined the RSM in March 1891, also at an annual meeting. He was still a member of RSM in 1899 but had never become a member of any of its 15 councils.
There is evidence that lodges belonging to the ROM existed in London as early as the 1740s and a grand lodge was created (in Edinburgh) in 1767; so this is one of the oldest forms of organised freemasonry. It struggled during the early 19th century but has been active since the 1840s. To join the ROM you have to have been a freemason for five years. Membership is then by invitation only, and is much sought after as the ROM works some ancient degrees. I found one piece of evidence for Eugène Henri as a member of the ROM in 1885: that July, he attended the annual meeting of its London lodges, in the AAR headquarters at 33 Golden Square. The meeting was followed by a trip down river to Greenwich and a banquet at the Trafalgar Hotel. I don’t think he was ever an important figure in the ROM, however: I would have found more evidence of his activities, if he had been.
Just after the start of his involvement in freemasonry, Eugène Henri became involved in an attempt to import into England the Ordre Maçonnique Oriental de Misraïm ou d’Egypte, thought to have been formed either in Italy or in France in the early years of the 19th century. The main mover in the attempt to establish it in England was Eugène Henri’s RCC-founding acquaintance Robert Wentworth Little, who was planning to draw the new Ordre in, as a sub-order of the RCC. With authorisation from the Grand Council of Rites for France, Little organised a meeting in December 1870 at the Freemasons’ Tavern to set up the Ordre in England. A hierarchy for the new Ordre was set up, with the Earl of Bective as its sovereign grand master in England, and Sir Francis Burdett as his deputy. And the Ordre’s first English lodge-equivalent, the Bective Sanctuary of Levites, was inaugurated. 80 freemasons attended the meeting; including Eugène Henri.
The new Ordre soon ran into trouble, however. The official policy of the UGLE seems to have been to ignore its existence, but individual freemasons in England were upset by the Ordre’s claim to work the same degrees as craft freemasonry does. They felt that Robert Wentworth Little - who was a UGLE employee - should not have involved himself with it. The Bective Sanctuary of Levites did hold a couple more meetings, but then the Ordre dropped out of the contemporary media and probably ceased to function in England; though it was still operative in France in the 1950s. During its brief English life, 37 freemasons were initiated into the Ordre; unfortunately I haven’t found a list of who they were so I don’t know if Eugène Henri was one of them. I think he might have been, though - especially as the Ordre was governed from Paris. He certainly attended the Ordre’s second English meeting, at the Caledonian Hotel Adelphi Terrace (just round the corner from where he worked), in January 1871. He also joined a committee that was raising money to give to Robert Wentworth Little; and contributed 1 guinea (which he could probably ill spare) to its fund. It’s not clear to me what the money was going to be for. As Little hadn’t been sacked from the UGLE, it wasn’t needed to support him through a period of unemployment. It might have been to help him bring an action for libel: the Freemason’s Magazine and Masonic Mirror had been making unpleasant comments about articles in other magazines on the more unusual types of freemasonry, published anonymously but known quite widely to be by Little. If that was the reason for the fund-raising, I don’t think the case got as far as going to Court. In February 1872 a dinner was held, at which the £300 raised by the committee was presented to Mr Little. Perhaps Eugène Henri and Robert Wentworth Little were friends. Even if they were not, Little’s death aged only 39 must have been a shock: he died in 1878.
When William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell Mathers founded the GD, it was as members of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia; specifically, members of its group in London, the Metropolitan College. Eugène Henri joined SRIA when it was still calling itself the Rosicrucian Society, in August 1873, being one of five men who did so at the same meeting at which he was ‘received’ into the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. In the early 1870s (though possibly not later) the Earl of Bective and Sir Francis Burdett were members of SRIA though unlike Eugène Henri they didn’t go to its London meetings very often. William Robert Woodman, Eugène Henri’s acquaintance from the AAR, was an active member of it. At that August 1873 meeting, Kenneth Mackenzie - who certainly would have been a member of the GD if he had lived that long - read a paper on Philosophical and Cabbalistic Magic. Perhaps what he heard that evening set Eugène Henri off on the path that led to his accepting an offer to become a member of the GD.
The Metropolitan College started to publish yearly Transactions in 1886, by which time Eugène Henri had been going to its meetings regularly for several years. He did not make his way up its hierarchy to serve as its equivalent to WM, however; instead he served as its president from April 1889 to April 1890. Perhaps his 12-months’ in charge had been difficult, however: he didn’t go to the meeting of April 1890, the one in which he should have handed the job to his successor. Instead he sent a letter, resigning from the College and from SRIA. No one at SRIA expected this decision, and in his letter, Eugène Henri asked not to have to explain it. He was elected an honorary member of SRIA but never renewed his ties with it. When he died, SRIA wasn’t told.
Evidence from the freemasonry magazines shows Eugène Henri continuing to go to the meetings of various freemasonry groups throughout the 1890s - excepting SRIA - though he didn’t serve in any official capacity in any of them during those years. Possibly the last freemasons’ meeting he attended was the December 1900 installation meeting of the AAR’s Palestine 29 rose croix chapter. He died a couple of months later.
Not all freemasons had obituaries in the freemasonry press, but The Freemason and The Freemason and Masonic Illustrated both thought Eugène Henri was sufficiently well-known, at least around London, to be given one. Both mourned him as a keen freemason, and as a childless widower.
It casts a fascinating light on how men were chosen to be freemasons, and how socialising amongst them was kept strictly to freemasons’ meetings, that Eugène Henri was able to get away with what the family history evidence suggests he got away with. Though I don’t understand how the members of New Cross Lodge 1559 didn’t realise - they lived in the same small district of London as him. Or did they wilfully ignore what was under their noses?
Evidence from the census, birth registrations, the probate registry and family history websites indicates that Eugène Henri had abandoned his wife several years before she died, to go and live with another woman and have four children with her. The other woman may or may not have been married already; as far as I can tell, Eugène Henri never married her. And through thirty years of involvement with freemasons, he kept that side of his life completely hidden from their view.
and take the option ‘Explore’. You don’t have to have a reader’s ticket to search the catalogue; or the other online resources which include online copies, digitised as far as 1900, of the main freemasons’ magazines, a very useful resource for some - but not all - freemasons’ organisations.
Lodge of Prudent Brethren 145: Historic Records 1775-1932 no publication details of the original but on p4 the Introduction was written March 1908. This was the 3rd edition, published 1932. Author of the original edition: Henry Guy, a PM of the lodge and PZ of its chapter, using original sources. He used the few existing original sources. Especially pp48-53; pp59-60; p92; pp101-108 for the history of its chapter.
Province of Middlesex: Era Lodge 1423: First 100 Years 1873-1973. No publication details or date; no author though booklet is signed off by F O Raynaud. History is based on lodge Minute Books. Pp1–6; p13; p15 for a history of Era Chapter; p19.
The New Cross Lodge 1876-1976. A very small pamphlet; no publication details or author’s name though the Foreword is by Bonnie Martyn. No page numbers. On [pp3-4] which includes the list of the original petitioners, with the lodges they were already members of.
Seen online: Statutes and Regulations for the Government of Royal Ark Masons which includes a history of the Order and lists of officials. Issued by the Grand Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners London: 1871. P7; p35; p45 and just noting here that all national officers had to pay a fee on taking up their appointment; p47; p54.
Rules and Regulations for the Government of the Degrees from the 4º to 32º Inclusive under the Supreme Council 33º of the Ancient and Accepted Rite [in the British Empire etc etc]; plus a List of Members. The earliest issue of this was published in 1864. I looked at the issues for 1880 to 1900. Particular references:
Statement of Accounts, Annual Report and List of Officers and Conclaves published London by George Kenning, who was a member of it. I looked at a Freemasons’ Library volume of these, supposedly covering 1868 to 1899 but actually lacking the reports for 1874 to 1887, if any were published during that time. Particular references:
The Freemasons’ Library has issues of the Calendar of the Great Priory published yearly for the Order. There was a name change, in 1896, to Liber Ordinis Templi. I looked through the issues of 1878 to 1900. Particular references:
There are a few letters, some issued by the Order and some by employees of the Freemasons’ Library, written between 1890 and 2015. There’s also a copy of part of a typed letter dated 18 April 1980 from the GD researcher and biographer Ellic Howe to an unnamed correspondent, in which he mentions the failed attempt to found the Ordre in London.
At www.iapsop.com, an edition of The Rosicrucian and Red Cross: A Quarterly Record of the Societies’ Transactions. No date on the cover but the volume covers meetings held during 1873. Printed London by Thomas Hearn: p25.
Virtually unknown I’m afraid: Eugène Henri Thiellay was born in France; I wasn’t able to find out exactly where. His age as given to various census officials varies a little, but he was probably born between 1834 and 1836.
The earliest record I could find which showed Eugène Henri living in England was the census of 1861. He was one of the two lodgers in the household of printer Charles Cole and his wife; in a house where there were at least six separate households. I couldn’t read the name of the street the house was in, but it was somewhere in the Tottenham Court Road area of central London.
In 1861 Eugène Henri was working as a perfumer. The 1861 census wasn’t one of those which asked whether people were self-employed or working for someone else; but at this stage I think he was an employee rather than a self-employed businessman. However, though he was living in England, he was also working with a colleague in France, a chemist called Léon Hugot. Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, even Neymar (briefly during the autumn of 2016) have cause to be grateful to Eugène Henri Thiellay and his chemist partner! At the 1867 International Exhibition in Paris, the partners displayed their Eau de Fontaine de Jouvence Dorée - a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide which dyed hair blonde. The product won a gold medal which well and truly launched it on the fashion scene. It was for use at home, though it needed four applications to work noticeably and cost (in France in the 1870s) as much as 20 francs a bottle. It was probably on the basis of its success that Eugène Henri set up his own business in the years soon after the Exhibition. He was one of the first professional hairdressers to hire a private room within a railway station. Eugène Henri’s business was in the Charing Cross Hotel - very convenient for commuters, day-visitors to London; and for going to meetings of freemasons, so many of which were held only short walks away, in Covent Garden and Soho. As well as doing people’s hair, Eugène Henri’s business also sold the hair dye, perfumes and other toiletries, which were kept in a warehouse in New Cross. The business dealt in wholesale as well as retail and was still going at Eugène Henri’s death in 1901; though it was wound up by his executors.
My experience of hairdressers is limited but surely if you want to be a successful one you must please a wide range of different customers. Around 1890, GD founder William Wynn Westcott described Eugène as having “genial manners”, and also as a “universal favourite”; proving that the same qualities are liked in freemasonry. You must also be able to keep a secret.
Chemical News and Journal of Industrial Society volume 32 1875 p286 issue of 7 January 1876. The continuation of a longer article by a Dr A W Hofmann: Development of the Chemical Arts During the Last 10 Years. Hoffmann says that the Eau de Fontaine de Jouvence was manufactured in England at least by Hopkin and Williams of London.
Hofmann’s article is the basis for a reference to Eugène in Hydrogen Peroxide by Walter C Schumb, Charles N Satterfield and Ralph L Wentworth of MIT. American Chemistry Society Monograph Series. Reinhold Publishing Corporation 1955: p18 in a section on the Technical Development of hair dye based on hydrogen peroxide. The authors give 1867-69 for the earliest dates at which the Eau de Fontaine de Jouvence might have been available.
Gender and Material Culture in Britain since 1600 editors Hannah Greig and Jane Hamlett. Published 2015. Seen online via google: p144 in an article Grooming Men: the Material World of the 19th Century Barbershop.
The Science of Hair Care editors Claude Bouillon and John Wilkinson. 2nd edition Taylor and Francis 2005: pp229-230 where they describe Hugot as the hairdresser and Eugène as the chemist though of course they may have both done both things; and pp232-237 on how hydrogen peroxide works.
Introduction to Cosmetic Formulation and Technology by Gabriella Baki and Kenneth S Alexander. Wiley 2015. In Chapter 5: Hair Care pp525-26 they give a quick resume of the extremely long history of dying your hair! Going right back to Mesopotamia.
The Year Book of Pharmacy issued by the British Pharmceutical Conference: issues of 1874, 1876, 1877, 1883; ie issue of 1875 p705 an advert for E H Thiellay’s Golden Hair Wash and his Eau Fontaine de Jouvence. He’s described as “Parfumeur, chimiste” from premises in the Charing Cross Hotel and an export facility at New Cross.
I couldn’t get this to download properly but at www.forgottenbooks.com there was a later edition of the Year-book of Pharmacy; perhaps from 1894-ish, with an advert for the Eau Fontaine de Jouvence in it.
In 1864 Eugène Henri married an Englishwoman of Scottish descent, Louisa McLacklan. They set up home at 103 Hemingford Road Barnsbury. There’s no evidence they had any children. Louisa was still living at the Hemingford Road house when she died, in December 1872. Eugène Henri, as her husband, was her executor. However, by 1869 at the latest, he and Louisa had separated and he had moved south of the Thames to set up another household with someone else. He and the other woman appear in the same household on three censuses, 1871, 1881 and 1891 - they were together a long time. They set up home near Eugène Henri’s warehouse, at 5 Amersham Road New Cross, and were still living there on the day of the 1881 census; by 1891 they had moved house, but only within the New Cross district.
Between 1869 and 1874, four children were registered in the Greenwich registration district (which includes parts of New Cross) with the two surnames ‘Thiellay Byngham’. They were all boys: Edward Henry, born autumn 1869; Euclide Horatio born early 1871; Archambaud Vivian born 1872; and Godfrey Rodolphus born 1874. It’s just possible that Edward Henry Thiellay Byngham was the son of Harriet and a man called Edward Byngham who died in the Greenwich registration district early in 1870, aged 45. However, all Harriet’s other children were born after he was dead. It seems pretty clear that all four boys were the sons of Eugène Henri Thiellay and the woman who called herself Harriet Byngham.
Two of the sons died, never having appeared on a census: Edward Henry died in 1870; and Archambaud Vivian in 1877. However, Euclide (usually written without the last ‘e’) and Godfrey survived and were living with their parents in 1881.
She’s very elusive! Despite being - with her two surviving sons - the only three people called Byngham with a ‘y’ in late 19th-century England. She’s obviously the same person on each of the censuses but each one spells her forename differently: in 1871 she’s Harriett; in 1881 she’s Harietta; and in 1891 she’s Harriet. Her surname is the same each time: Byngham, with a ‘y’. Eugène Henri and Harriet (I’m going to stick with the most common spelling). However, I’m pretty sure that ‘Byngham’ was a surname she had given herself.
Harriet’s surname was spelled with a ‘y’ by all three census officials, so she must have told them about its odd spelling. She also gave the three of them the same information on her age and place of birth: born in 1847/48 in Charlwood in Surrey. Charlwood is a village on the border with Sussex, near to what’s now Gatwick Airport. Her marital status, however, was not so clear: in 1871 and 1891 she said she was married, but in 1881 - despite admitting that the two children in the household were hers - she said she was not.
I went looking on freebmd for a female, surname Byngham with a ‘y’, born circa 1847. I didn’t find one so I looked for any likely candidates called Bingham with an ‘I’. I did find a Harriet Bingham whose birth was registered in 1846; she might have been the right person, but the birth was registered in Holborn not Surrey, and there’s the different spelling to overcome as well. Trying the census, I found on 1861 a Harriete Bingham (with an ‘i’) born Surrey circa 1848, in the household of Lydia Chapman at 168 Euston Road; working as a domestic servant. She might also have been the woman I was looking for and at least she was in the right place in 1861 - central London.
Just in case Harriet was married, to a man called Byngham - Edward Byngham who died in 1870, for example - I searched freebmd and Familysearch for any marriage of a man called Byngham between 1860 and 1869. There weren’t any in England and Wales, so if Harriet was legally married, it was not to someone called Byngham. She could have lived with this Edward Byngham without being married, of course; taking his surname - but when she lived with Eugène Henri she didn’t take his surname.
The only other thing that I’ve been able to discover about Harriet Byngham comes from the 1881 census. She told that year’s census official that she was working, as a perfume maker (in 1871 and 1891, she said she was the housekeeper). In 1881 she must have been working for Eugène Henri. Perhaps she had even done so before her first child had been born; and they had met when she applied for the job. It seems that in 1881 the money she was earning was making a difference to the household finances. In 1881 there was a live-in, general servant; in 1871 and 1891 Harriet was keeping house with no live-in help.
What about the children? In 1871 there was a new-born infant in Eugène Henri’s household; and in 1881 there were two boys of school age, Euclid and Godfrey. Eugène Henri told the census officials of 1871 and 1881 that he was a widower. He could have explained that the children were his sons by his dead wife. But he didn’t, and he also told the officials that the boys’ surnames were Byngham. So the census officials of 1871 and 1881 filled in their forms as if the boys were Harriet’s children but not Eugène Henri’s. In 1881, with Harriet having said she was not married, the column where Harriet’s ‘relationship to head of household’ should have been indicated was left blank. I think that year’s census official had a very good idea what was going on.
A list of pupils at Stanley Street school in 1881 also muddies the waters: Godfrey Byngham of 5 Amersham Road was listed. His next-of-kin was called Henry. But the list doesn’t give the fathers’ surnames - thinking them to be obvious, of course.
On the day of the 1891 census there were no children in Eugène Henri and Harriet’s household to be explained away: both Euclid and Godfrey were both living elsewhere. Harriet told the official that she was married; and what she said about her source of income caused him to write “housekeeper” as both her occupation and her relationship to the head of the household. Eugène Henri said yet again that he was a widower. The 1891 official probably understood the relationship between the two members of the household to be one of employer/employee.
In December 1872, Eugène Henri was freed by his legal wife’s death to marry someone else, if he chose. However, I couldn’t find a record of his marrying anyone at any time between then and his death; at least, not in England. Perhaps Harriet was legally married all that time; though not to somebody called Byngham. Or Eugène Henri and Harriet could have married some time after 1872, in France. Somehow I don’t think they did. They probably looked and acted married in the eyes of their neighbours, and that seems to have been enough for them; though it might have been very awkward for their children.
It’s not so much the breakdown of Eugène Henri’s legal marriage that makes me seeth. These things happened then as they happen now, and several GD members were divorced or lived apart from their legal spouse. It’s not even that he didn’t marry his Harriet when he was free to do so - as I’ve said above, perhaps she wasn’t free. It’s his secrecy about this second relationship: he conned his freemasonry acquaintances and allowed census officials to assume that Harriet - who stayed with him for over 20 years - was sexually licentious.
Neither of his sons went to work for Eugène Henri in the hairdressing and perfume business. By 1891 they had both left home. Godfrey Byngham was a grocer’s assistant and was living in Leyton with his employer, Henry Pegg Hurd, and his family. Euclid Thiellay Byngham was sharing a room in Lamb’s Conduit Passage while working as a cashier in a butcher’s shop. Eugène Henri and Harriet had also moved, to 3 Park Road New Cross.
The 1901 census came a few weeks after Eugène Henri’s death. Harriet Byngham’s appearance on the 1891 census is the last information I have on her. I couldn’t find a Harriet/Harietta/ Harriete Byngham or Thiellay in the UK in 1901 or in 1911. I checked to see if she had died in the 1890s or 1900s but I couldn’t find a likely death registration as Byngham or as Thiellay. I have no idea what happened to her.
Eugène Henri Thiellay died on 21 February 1901. As I haven’t seen the Will I don’t know who his beneficiaries were but it would be nice to think they were his common-law wife and children. His executor was a solicitor, Robert George Hovenden of Gardner and Hovenden, 16 Finsbury Circus, whose main task was to wind-up the hairdressing and toiletries business. Eugène Henri was buried at Brockley Cemetery. A lot of his freemason acquaintances went to the funeral and there were wreaths from Era Chapter 1423 and Red Cross of Constantine Premier Conclave 1. The chief mourner was a niece of Eugène Henri, come over from France: a Madame A Dilpick (sic). If Harriet and her sons were at the funeral, no one realised who they were; or did they realise and decide to keep it quiet? - “Deceased being a widower without issue” said The Freemason.
By 1911 Euclid Byngham was working as a commercial traveller for a drysalting company. He had married Esther Frost in 1894 and they had one child, Henry John Byngham, born 1896. They were all living at 33 Harcourt Road Brockley on census day 1911, with Esther’s mother, another Harriet. Euclid died in 1925.
Godfrey Byngham joined the 4th Hussars in 1892 and was always known by them as Bingham with an ‘I’. He was later a Chelsea Pensioner, and died in Montreal in 1920. Information at myheritage.com says that he married Hilda Moult in 1901. There’s no record of such a marriage in England and Wales so perhaps it took place in Canada. Perhaps the elusive Harriet Byngham went with Godfrey to Canada or joined him there after Eugène Henri had died. Godfrey and Hilda had three children. Their descendants are quite sure they are descended from Eugène Henri Thiellay.
Sources: probate registry 1901, 1925, 1950s. I couldn’t find Mme Dilpick on the 1901 census, nor anyone with a surname which might be written down wrongly as ‘dilpick’. I suppose she had returned to France.
Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert. Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986. Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914. The list is based on the Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its Members’ Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation. All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden. Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh were destroyed in 1900/01. I have recently (July 2014) discovered that some records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have survived, though most have not; however those that have survived are not yet accessible to the public.
For the history of the GD during the 1890s I usually use Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923. Published Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972. Foreword by Gerald Yorke. Howe is a historian of printing rather than of magic; he also makes no claims to be a magician himself, or even an occultist. He has no axe to grind.
Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.
For the GD and also for the freemasons in it, the various resources at the Freemasons’ Library: see the website at //freemasonry.london.museum. Its catalogue has very detailed entries and the website has all sorts of other resources. You can get from it to a database of freemasons’ newspapers and magazines, digitised to 1900. You can also reach that directly at www.masonicperiodicals.org.