Before I start I’d like to thank someone I’ve not had any contact with, for online postings about the Westcott family. Mary Haw of Durban KwaZulu Natal is a descendant of William’s aunt Ann Westcott. She has taken charge of family history items that William must have taken to South Africa with him in 1920.


The Westcotts were a west country family. William’s grandparents – Grace Martyn and the William Westcott after whom the GD man was named – were married in 1792 in Tamerton Foliot, now a suburb of Plymouth. Three of their children are relevant to the life of the GD’s William: his uncle Richard (born 1792); his father Peter (born 1793); and his aunt Ann (born 1797). None of them stayed in Devon; and in fact the family had a tradition of moving on: Westcotts had emigrated to America from Somerset in the 1630s.

RICHARD AND PETER WESTCOTT both became doctors in general practice.

They will have trained in the time-honoured way, via an apprenticeship with an experienced GP. In the early 19th century there was very little regulation of the medical profession but in 1819 both brothers were licensed to practice medicine by virtue of having passed the exams of the Society of Apothecaries, the only organisation offering any guarantee of standards at the time.

Richard practised medicine in Martock, just north of Yeovil; and Peter – for reasons I can’t explain – set up in practice in Oundle, Northamponshire.

Sources for their training:

Medical Directory issue of 1847, the first with a list of doctors practising outside London: p189; p297.

Richard Westcott Martyn’s Memoir of his Early Life; not published, now owned by Mary Haw.


Dr Peter Westcott married Elizabeth Mary Hill (who seems to have been called Mary) at Stamford in Lincolnshire in 1834. No doubt they had met through his practice in Oundle. Very little is known about Elizabeth Mary. She was probably born around 1816, and was consequently over 20 years younger than her husband. When she died, her executors were Wynn Hill, surveyor, of Easton Lincolnshire; and George Hill, a businessman with an address in the City of London; relations, obviously, perhaps her brothers.

One of several untrue things that William said about himself in a letter he wrote in 1875 was that he was an only child. Why he said that, goodness knows: perhaps it seemed like that, as his nearest sibling in age was seven years older than he. He was the youngest of six, possibly more; and though three of his older siblings had died by the mid-1870s, two others lived into the 20th century. The six were:

Ellis (1835-1872) named after a relation on Elizabeth Mary’s side;

an older William, born in 1836, who died young, probably in infancy;

Richard (?1837-1913) named for Peter’s brother;

Grace (1839-1907) named after her grandmother Martyn;

Eliza (1841-1872);

William Wynn Westcott himself, named for his dead brother and ancestors on both sides of the family.

William was born in December 1848, in Leamington Spa where his parents lived for the next 18 months or so, at Lansdowne Crescent. Most sources for William’s life say that Peter Westcott was a GP in Leamington, but I’m not so sure that he ever practised medicine after 1847: his entry in the medical directory for 1849 leaves off his Society of Apothecaries qualification; and that issue is the last in which he appears. The evidence from the 1850s suggests the Westcotts might have been in Leamington as patients rather than practitioners.

On census day 1851 they were in Easton in Lincholnshire, where Elizabeth Mary’s executor Wynn Hill also lived. William, Grace and Eliza were with their parents; but Ellis and Richard were not at home – at school, possibly, or already working. Elizabeth Mary was managing the household with just one servant, a nursery-maid. Peter Westcott told the census official that he was a doctor and surgeon but if he was still working, he gave up his practice there soon afterwards. He took his family to Martock; where his brother Richard was already living.

Elizabeth Mary Westcott died in Martock, early in 1853. If the birth-year of 1816 is correct, she was about 37; and William was 4. Peter Westcott died in Martock late in 1858, aged 65; William, aged 9, and his sisters Grace and Eliza were left to their uncle Richard’s guardianship and went to live with him, at Bridge House, on Water Street in Martock.


Richard Martyn Westcott was baptised with those names, in that order, in May 1792 at Tamerton Foliot; a few weeks after his mother Grace Martyn married the original William Westcott. The GD’s William Westcott once described him as a “half Uncle” and Richard’s own understanding was that he was not the original William Westcott’s biological son. However, the original William seems to have acted as a father to him in all other respects; and Richard and Peter Westcott – definitely the son of the original William – were close. So why the different order of surnames? In a Memoir of his early life, Richard wrote about absconding from an early employer – perhaps the doctor to whom he was apprenticed. He changed his surnames so the employer couldn’t trace him; and stuck with them once he set up in general practice in Martock.

Richard Westcott Martyn was licensed to practice by the Society of Apothecaries in 1819. Evidence for 1819-46 is lacking but I shall assume that he had always worked in Martock, just north of Yeovil in Somerset. By 1850 – probably by much earlier – he worked with one or more partners: Dr G Stuckey was the partner in post in the early 1850s when William Westcott came to live in Martock. By 1847 – again, probably much earlier – Richard also worked for Langport Poor Law Union, as Medical Officer to the Union’s workhouse. In 1859, conscious of changing times in his profession, he became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS).

I couldn’t find William’s much older sisters Grace and Eliza on the 1861 census. Richard Westcott Martyn was at home in Martock, living with two servants, both women. The tasks the servants did weren’t specified but a typical two-servant household would have had a cook and a general skivvy. William was a few miles away in Hayes End South Petherton, one of 17 pupils at the school run by Robert Billing, who had been born in Martock and was thus well-known to the Westcotts. Robert ran the school with the help of his mother Esther and two teachers. One of the two assistant teachers was Emile Filleul, born in Vibaye, in France; later on in life William counted the ability to speak French amongst his accomplishments.

After Robert Billing’s school William was sent to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Kingston-upon-Thames and it was this school, rather than Dr Billing’s, that William mentioned when asked about his education. This episode has been difficult to research, though, as the school’s old records aren’t online; so I don’t know when William was first a pupil there, or for how long. It can’t be a coincidence that William’s brother Richard was a living in Kingston by 1861, teaching classics and a second subject, possibly maths. Perhaps he was employed at the school but even if he was not, he will have helped William achieve the competence in Latin (and rather less in Greek) that he was able to claim in the 1870s and will have needed for reading old alchemical manuscripts.

From Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, William went on to University College London where he studied arts subjects before moving on to do medicine, doing his practical work at University College Hospital and St Mary’s (St Mary’s Paddington I presume that means – the sources aren’t clear). Obviously the plan was that he should follow his father and uncle into general practice, and there was a place in Richard Westcott Martyn’s practice waiting for him. I get the impression that William’s part in the plan was docile but unenthusiastic. The family was not a wealthy one and he would have to earn a living at something, but he might have followed a different career, given the choice. He was not an outstanding student at UCL and gave up being a GP as soon as he could. More details of that are in the work file.


I’m going to take time out here to talk about William’s older brothers and sisters.

ELLIS WESTCOTT was the oldest of Peter and Elizabeth Mary’s children, born in Oundle in 1835. Though he was working at Westminster Hospital in 1861 he was not a doctor; I haven’t found the evidence to prove it but two letters he wrote to The Lancet, in 1861 and 1865, suggest he was pharmacist. He got married in the Marylebone registration district of London in 1863; I think to Mary Ann Boxell. Mary Ann was not with him on the day of the 1871 census and she may have died in 1864. On census day 1871 Ellis had gone to see his family in Martock. He was staying at a pub in Stoke, just down the road.

RICHARD WESTCOTT went to university and became a teacher. By 1861 he was living in Kingston-upon-Thames, teaching classics and – I think – maths (the census official’s handwriting in 1861 was difficult to read). I’ve speculated above that he might have taught at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Kingston. It was probably his suggestion that William attend the school.

Richard never had his own household in Kingston, but lived as a lodger with a number of different landladies in the town. I’m not sure when he retired because he was not on the 1891 census; but by 1901 he had moved to 7 Vardens Road Battersea and was living on his own means. In 1901 he was employing Esther Greenfield, aged 50, as his live-in housekeeper. She was still with him on the day of the 1911 census and probably stayed with him until he died, in 1913. He never married.

GRACE MARY WESTCOTT was born in 1839 and her younger sister ELIZA WESTCOTT in 1841. Both were born in Oundle. Neither of them married, and on census day 1871 they were living with their uncle or half-uncle Richard Westcott Martyn at Bridge House in Martock. The household had two servants, a cook and a housemaid. Grace continued to live in Martock all her life, moving to North Street after Richard Martyn died; where she lived with one servant until her death in 1907.


William the unenthusiastic student of medicine passed the exams of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Society of Apothecaries in 1870; and in May of that year appeared for the first time on the General Medical Council’s list of those licensed to practice medicine. He joined his half-uncle’s practice, where he was the third listed of the three partners. Richard Westcott Martyn, in his late 70s, was listed second; and Dr J D Adams listed first, suggesting that the bulk of the work was falling on him until William arrived. As with Richard Westcott Martyn, Dr Adams worked for a poor law board as well as in general practice; he was Medical Officer for District 4 of Yeovil Poor Law Union.

Though being a general practitioner in a country village might not have been what William would have wanted, he did throw himself into local life over the next few years: he became manager of a local elementary school – that will have been under the 1870 Education Act; he joined the local fire brigade; he joined a local volunteer battalion and acted as its quartermaster; he organised local functions (fetes and harvest home come to mind); he played chess and a bit of billiards; he had a go at Mesmerism; and in 1871 he joined the freemasons.

On census day 1871, William was living with his half-uncle and sisters at Bridge House in Martock. He was probably working for his Bachelor of Medicine exams, which he passed that year. Ellis Westcott had come down from London to see his relations. Within 18 months of that day, both Eliza and Ellis Westcott were dead: Eliza, very suddenly in July 1872; and Ellis, in September 1872. Something started William off in the 1870s on a search for hidden knowledge and meaning which lasted the rest of his life and led – amongst other places – to the Order of the Golden Dawn; perhaps it was these deaths, only weeks apart, of two close relations only in their 30s. Perhaps it was having those two deaths take place on his patch as a GP – they both died in Martock – and not be able to save either of them.

1873 brought more change, though less grief. Richard Westcott Martyn had his 80th birthday; and William got married. That William was able to marry at the relatively early age (for the Victorian professional classes) of 25 was probably made possible being his half-uncle’s chosen successor as Medical Officer for Langport Poor Law Union – William had been elected to the job by 1874 and Richard Westcott Martyn was able to retire from it. Perhaps Richard Westcott Martyn ceased to play an active part in the practice, at least on a daily basis – over the next few years he had an article and a pamphlet published: On the Cure of Housemaid’s Knee (1873); and Poisoning by Opium and Alcohol (1879) – a subject that William later will have come to know more about than he had probably ever wanted to.


William’s future wife Eliza Burnett was a Londoner. Until her marriage she had always lived in the streets between Euston Road and Camden, on the fringes of Somers Town; very handy for University College and I imagine she and William met while he was an undergraduate at UCL. She won’t have been an undergraduate herself; and the census indicates she didn’t do any paid work before her marriage, either. As this was not a family that could afford any servants, Eliza probably helped her older sister Emily to run the household.

Urban Eliza and rather rural William had more in common than you would suppose: they were both by several years the youngest in their family; and their mothers had both died while they were very young. Eliza’s father, Edmund Crawford Burnett, was married twice. He and his first wife, Charlotte, had at least four children: Charlotte (born around 1835); Crawford (born around 1836); Emily (born 1839); and Louisa (born 1841). Edmund’s wife Charlotte died in 1846 and two years later he married Susan Prior. Eliza was Susan’s only child, born in 1851. Susan Burnett died in 1853 and from then on Eliza was brought up by her much older half-sisters.

Edmund Crawford Burnett, worked in the office of a printing firm. Crawford Burnett was a trained printer and compositor. William seems to have got on well with his father-in-law at least, and probably found those skills and that experience very useful when he started publishing books and pamphlets himself.

Eliza’s half-siblings Crawford and Louisa had married and left home by census day 1871 but they were both living quite nearby: Crawford and his family in Gray’s Inn Road; and Louisa and her husband Robert Reeves in Islington. The rest of the family were still at the house they had lived in for the past two censuses, 15 Charrington Street. This year the address had two households, with the Burnetts on the top floors.

Eliza Burnett married William Wynn Westcott on 18 February 1873 at St Matthew’s Oakley Square. In 1877 they were living in Bijou Cottage, Martock and I would suppose that they had been there since the end of their wedding trip if they had one. Their first child was born in the spring of 1874 – Edmund William Martyn Westcott who seems to have been called Martyn rather than Edmund. Ida Grace was born in the summer of 1875; and Elsie Bridget in the autumn of 1877. William was busy with the medical practice and his civic commitments. Eliza also had plenty to do: later census information suggests that the Westcotts always employed a minimum of servants. It’s hard to tell, of course, but I think Eliza – William called her Lizzie - didn’t want or need many interests outside home and family. She never played any part that got her noticed in the wider social and political issues of her day; nor in William’s occult life except, possibly, as a guinea-pig for his experiments with Mesmerism. Neither she nor her daughters joined the Theosophical Society or the Order of the Golden Dawn, though both those organisations welcomed women as members. She was probably just not interested, and that suited William very well. Evidence from the GD suggests he found it difficult to cope with the presence of women in it – his was a very male world.

Richard Westcott Martyn died on 11 April 1879, and William and Eliza acted so swiftly it suggests neither of them had been particularly happy in rural Somerset. By January 1880 William had resigned from the practice in Martock and the Westcotts had moved to Hendon, on the northern outskirts of London. WIlliam never worked as a GP again and the sources for his life in occult circles all say that for the next two years, he did no paid work at all while he studied alchemical texts and the Kabbalah.

None of my sources seem quite sure how William could manage the luxury of two years without any paid work. Perhaps they were financed by money left William in Richard Westcott Martyn’s Will, and/or money from the sale (is that how it would have been done?) of his stake in the Martock general practice. Eliza and William’s third daughter, Lilian Margaret, was born during this idyllic time (idyllic for William at least). On census day 1881 the Westcotts were still at Langley Villa, Sunny Gardens Hendon; where Eliza kept house with a children’s nurse and a cook. However, by 1883 they had moved much further into town, to 4 Torriano Avenue, just off Camden Road; part of a move back to a world where William needed to earn a living. He seems to have been determined not to go back into general practice; I think one reason may have been the long hours in which a doctor was supposed to put his patients first. William wanted the evenings, or at least some evenings, to pursue his esoteric interests. Employment opportunities were opening up for medically-qualified men, however, particularly in London, as local government expanded; and they didn’t all involve long and unpredictable hours.

Three events in 1883 established the pattern of William’s life, essentially to 1920: he started work as a coroner; he began to make contributions to a very successful medical reference work; and he and Eliza’s last child was born.

I go into much greater detail about William as a coroner in the file on his working life. Here I’ll just say that he started work as deputy coroner for the Central Middlesex district, probably in the spring of 1883 (one source I found said it was 1881); working from offices in Paddington. His boss was George Danford Thomas, probably a childhood acquaintance – in 1855, George’s father, Rev Richard J F Thomas, was appointed vicar of Yeovil. Though probably not ideal, being a coroner was the kind of job William must have been hoping for: the corpses could wait a few hours to be attended to; office hours were kept, in general, leaving the evenings free for his esoteric interests; if he was out of his office, no one was sure where, it was not surprising (inquests were held in a wide variety of locations); and there were opportunities to earn money from other work.

The same year saw the publication of the first issue of The Extra Pharmacopoeia, a digest for medical practitioners of drugs and their uses. I talk more about this in my files on William’s work, and those on his publications. The publication was the brainchild of William Martindale, who had taught materia medica at University College before leaving to set up his own pharmacy business; he had probably taught William. William was involved from the first edition, providing references to articles on the various drugs that had appeared in medical journals. The Extra Pharmacopoeia was a huge success: the first edition sold out in weeks, and updated issues were published long after the deaths of both the original contributors. William continued to work on editions of The Extra Pharmacopoeia until his death.

And George Wynn Westcott was born in the autumn of 1883, named for George Danford Thomas, I imagine. Two years later, William dedicated his first book, On Suicide, to George Danford Thomas. The book was based on data William had collected in his first two years of inquests.

When William and Eliza fled from Martock in 1879, they had positive reasons for doing so. Eliza could be nearer her family; and William could start to move in occult circles, something he had longed to do. In the 1880s he joined a number of freemasonry groups including Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA). He also went to meetings of the Hermetic Society, and became a member of the Theosophical Society’s Blavatsky Lodge. In 1888 the Order of the Golden Dawn started initiating its first members. He also began to get involved in more organisations connected to his working life. He went to meetings, he served as honorary secretary and honorary treasurer to some of them; he served on governing councils; he gave talks, he sat on committees. All this took time, after working hours. I wonder when he slept. Meanwhile, Eliza ran the home, with relatively few servants at any time, brought up their children and, no doubt, did other things that a late-Victorian housewife might be expected to do. Hardly ever did the two sides of William’s life cross over. I’ve found only a handful of occasions. In November 1895 craft lodge Quatuor Coronati 2076 held a conversazione evening to which non-members were invited, including women. Perhaps Eliza was ill; William took 20-year-old Ida to meet all those elderly men. Once or twice, during times of crisis, GD members called on William at home. And from the 1920s there’s evidence that Eliza and Ida knew ex-GD member Frederick Leigh Gardner and his sister quite well.

William did value his Sundays off; though even his day of rest was taken seriously. He was a member of the National Sunday League, which campaigned to have legislation changed to allow museums and galleries to open on Sundays, for the education of working people and to keep them out of the pubs.

Once settled in the north London borough of Islington William also got involved in local civic life. In 1889, possibly in 1886, he was elected to represent Ward 2, Lower Holloway, and served on the Vestry of St Mary Islington for several years, until 1892. It’s been rather difficult to find out which political party he stood for, and local parties in the late 19th century did not necessarily line up with the national ones; but in the 1870s William wrote that, politically, he was a “conservative Liberal”, so I suppose he stood for the Liberal Party. In 1891 he was made a member of the vestry’s new public health committee, and John Walker Smyth represented the vestry at the International Congress of Hygiene and Demography, a huge event held in London in August 1891. He also played some role in the founding of the Northern Polytechnic Institution – now part of Middlesex University; though I haven’t found evidence of exactly what he did.

In 1887, the Westcotts moved a short distance from Torriano Avenue to what was probably a new house, double-fronted, in the late 19th century Dutch gable style – 396 Camden Road, very near Holloway Prison. Eliza and William remained there until 1920. On the day of the 1891 census they were at home, with Ida, Elsie and George, all of whom were still at school; I would love to know where, but I haven’t found any information on that. Martyn and Lilian were not in the UK; again, I’d love to know where they had gone. Eliza was managing the household with the basic general servant.

1892 to 1894 were a restless period. During the first few months of 1892 William stood in for two doctors taking leave on health grounds: Dr Thomas Bramah Diplock, coroner for West Middlesex; and Dr Charles Meymott Tidy, Medical Officer of Health for Islington Vestry. It’s not clear to me whether he was also still working as a coroner in Central Middlesex. If he was, he was not intending to stay there: both men died; and William then applied for both their permanent posts.

The job of medical officer to a borough was not one that William had any experience of, and there were other men far better qualified for such a post – several applied for the temporary job. There was another big objection to William’s being given the job even on a temporary basis: to be employed by a borough where you were also a vestryman was against Byelaw 50. There were those on Islington Vestry who were willing to vote to suspend the byelaw to allow William to become medical officer; and William tried to make their position less assailable by resigning as a vestryman himself. However, there was strong and vocal opposition to the suspension of the byelaw, from other vestrymen; from the Local Government Board which oversaw the appointment of medical officers; and in the local and medical press. When Dr Tidy died and William applied for his job on a permanent basis, borough residents began to sense a stitch-up: questions were asked at public meetings; it became a divisive issue in that spring’s local elections; and though William’s supporters did get the byelaw suspended so he could apply for the permanent post, it was only by one vote after a very rowdy session of the Vestry and a boycott of the vote by some members. William lost out on the permanent job to Dr Alfred Edwin Harris, who had much better qualifications and who was already employed as a medical officer, in Sunderland. William then completed the picture some people were building up of a man with a thick skin, by standing for re-election to the vestry; he wasn’t elected.

As far as I’m aware, William didn’t apply for another job as medical officer to a vestry or borough. Instead he applied for a second job as coroner, the one covering the City of London and borough of Southwark. He didn’t get either job. Instead, he took the job as second-in-command in West Middlesex, offered him by Dr W B Gordon Hogg, who had been appointed instead of William.

What was the cause of these two years of chopping and changing jobs? I daresay there were good financial reasons for taking the medical officer job at least temporarily: the £600 per year salary would have made a pleasant addition to the family budget, even paid pro rata; and no one was objecting to William doing the medical officer’s job in addition to another – that was quite common at the time. I do think, though, that William was looking for a coroner’s job where he was the top man – where he would get the top man’s pay and wouldn’t have anyone in a supervisory role over him, even a friend like George Danford Thomas.

William probably never intended to stay working for Dr Hogg for long, but within only a few months another ‘top job’ coroner’s post came up. William beat 48 other applicants to the job of Coroner for North-East London, a district whose boundaries – unlike those of West Middlesex - were not too far from the Westcotts’ home. The salary was a good one - £1150 per annum - but I think William may have been expected to pay for the expenses of his office out of it, including wages for the staff. What seems to me an enormous salary for the time doesn’t seem to have made all that much difference to the Westcotts’ style of life, except in a negative way: William set up his office in 396 Camden Road so Eliza may have had to give up her drawing-room. It did make a difference to William’s reputation in Islington, however: the borough was not on his new patch, so inquests he presided over were no longer reported in the local press, keeping his name in the public eye. Tempers began to cool but even a few years later, in a short report on Elsie Westcott’s wedding, the Islington Gazette felt it should remind its readers of some good work done by William for the borough.

William was not quite done with civic life: in 1907 he became a justice of the peace for the County of London. He was still a JP in 1920 but I think he mostly did his work as a magistrate not in Islington but in Stoke Newington, the borough next door.

One thing that it’s really difficult to research when trying to describe the lives of the GD members is if they had holidays; and if so, where they went. I found a snippet of information on the subject for the Westcotts in 1897; but 1897 may not have been a typical year. In the spring of 1897, William had been sufficiently ill to have to spend a few weeks recovering by the sea, at Hastings. Hastings won’t have been a random choice for William: Eliza’s cousin Louisa Farrer had been born there, though she now lived in Tunbridge Wells; so the Westcotts probably had friends and maybe relations too in the town. William’s illness must have been severe – in April he missed the most important meeting of the year at Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia; a very rare occurrence. In September, Eliza took Elsie, Lilian and George to Llangollen for a holiday but William didn’t go with them. Perhaps the stay at Hastings had used up his leave for that year. Ida and Edmund also missed that holiday: Ida at least was probably already working – she was the noncomformist of the three daughters. And Martyn was in his last year as a medical student; perhaps he too couldn’t afford time off. Martyn qualified in 1898 and went to work for a series of steamship companies as a ship’s doctor; he continued to give 396 Camden Road as his address but was rarely at home.

1898 also saw the first wedding in the Westcott family; the first of only two during William’s lifetime: in the autumn, Elsie Bridget Westcott married Fergus Edward Hamel, who ran an import/export agency in the City.

On the day of the 1901 census, William was at home in Camden with Eliza, Ida and Lilian. Ida was working. Lilian was probably helping her mother run the house, because the Westcotts still only employed the one live-in servant; this particular year it was a young woman from Germany.

William and Eliza will have been looking forward, in the first few months of the year, to becoming grandparents: in the summer Elsie and Fergus Hamel had a son, Geoffrey.

1902 brought the second family wedding of William’s lifetime: Lilian Margaret Westcott married Albert Frederick Gee, a descendant of William’s aunt Ann Westcott Pollyblank. He had been born in KwaZulu Natal and worked for a railway company in Durban. Lilian returned with him to South Africa and Durban began to figure in William and Eliza’s plans.

In 1902, William was 52 and a well-established figure in his profession. It would be nice, therefore, for me to be able to spend the rest of this file celebrating his later years. Surely there must have been some celebration in them. However, the remainder of William’s life was coloured by family tragedies and failing health.

In January 1901 William was ill again; he was still not well enough to attend evening meetings in April. He was well again by the summer, but being ill in the winter was a recurring theme in the rest of William’s life. The family tragedies also began in 1901; I’ve only found one reference to this, and that not a contemporary one, but it seems that Martyn Westcott had to have a leg amputated that year.

William and Eliza’s youngest child, George, was a worry to them. Having started to follow father and brother into a career in medicine, he gave up his training, probably after just one year as a student. In 1906 he was described as a dental student, but I couldn’t find any evidence in contemporary sources that he was. He may have been too ill to study: during the winter of 1904/05, he began to suffer from what was variously described as a “haemorrhage of the lungs” and as “ulceration over the largest artery”. He spent most of the winter of 1905/06 in Hastings, receiving treatment. Perhaps George felt he would never recover: he killed himself in February 1906. About 18 months later, in September 1907, the older son, Martyn Westcott, died. This seems to have been a natural death but Martyn was only 33.

In 1911 William’s winter illness lasted a particularly long time; perhaps it kept recurring when he tried to go back to work. On census day, he and Eliza were at home at 396 Camden Road. The only other person in the household was their one, general servant. Three weeks later, William was not well enough to go to the SRIA Metropolitan College’s most important meeting of the year; and he also missed the meeting in July thorough “renewed illness”.

There were bright spots: in 1912, William went on a trip to Switzerland; he was unexpectedly “detained in Geneva” and had to miss the SRIA Metropolitan College’s July meeting. I wonder what that was about? In April 1914, William led the ceremony which installed his son-in-law Fergus Hamel as Celebrant at the SRIA Metropolitan College – its equivalent of a craft lodge’s worshipful master.

William and Eliza also made a series of visits to daughter Lilian and her family in Durban; going out in mid-April and returning in mid-July. During the visit of 1907, William also took a short trip to Ladysmith. From the visit in 1913 he brought back some photographs, including one of himself, Eliza and Lilian sitting in a rickshaw; perhaps taken by Lilian’s husband Albert as he wasn’t in the photograph himself. There would have been another visit perhaps in 1915 or 1916 but of course, World War 1 intervened. Though he was approaching 70 when the war began and might have been thinking of retiring at last, William continued his work as coroner right through the war, unable to take any time off as more and more of every coroner’s staff went to the fighting or joined the medical corps. In his spare time he was involved with the Red Cross in Islington.

William had been ill again in the winter of 1913; perhaps the trip to South Africa in the southern hemisphere autumn improved his health. He was ill again in early 1914, and again in early 1917 but there was no period of respite in Durban this year. Worse: in July, William and Eliza’s middle daughter, Elsie Hamel, took an overdose and died, aged 39. She had been being treated for a lung ailment and insomnia for several months, and had been told she might have TB, that most dreaded of slow killers. A second suicide amongst William’s five children must have come as such a blow. Elsie’s widower, Fergus Hamel, got married again within the year; which may have added a sense of insult and offence to William and Eliza’s grief.

There had been other deaths of course, but not like those two: William’s sister Grace had died in 1907; William’s friend and colleague George Danford Thomas had died in 1910; and his brother Richard had died in 1913. On Eliza’s side, her eldest half-sister Charlotte died in 1905 and half-sister Emily in 1915. Elsie’s death was a watershed however: William and Eliza now had only two children living, neither of them in England. There were other considerations too: William turned 70 in 1918; Eliza was going to be 70 in 1921. William may have already begun to suffer from Bright’s Disease – he was treating himself for the symptoms in the 1920s. Eliza had the symptoms of heart disease, including chest pains, and shortness of breath. There was nothing they could do about their situation until the war was over, but by December 1919 they had decided that William would retire at last, and they would move to Durban to be with Lilian and Albert Gee and their two children.

They set out for South Africa in March 1920, taking their furniture, which got badly damaged on the way. William had sent in his resignation letter, and they had a house waiting for them in Durban - when he wrote to ex-GD member Frederick Leigh Gardner on 30 May 1920 it was to report that they had just moved in to 37 Rapson Road. On the day they moved in, Eliza had a feverish cold. In his next letter, William complained about the hot nights and stinging insects. They had made up their minds, though: they returned to England in February 1921 for a few months only, to tie up loose ends, before setting out for South Africa again.

Another tragedy befell William - Eliza didn’t reach South Africa. In August 1921 she went to Tunbridge Wells to say goodbye to her cousin Louisa Farrer and Louisa’s family. This must have been a distressing visit, with its implication that the two women might never meet again, and while she was there, Eliza fell 40 feet from a window of the hotel in which she was staying; she was dead when medical help reached her. Writing to break the news to Frederick Leigh Gardner and his sister, William described Eliza’s death as “a happy release from great suffering”; I think he probably didn’t just mean Eliza’s health. Eliza was buried in England and a few days after the funeral William set out for Durban alone.

Still the list of deaths-while-young got longer. Early in 1922, both William and daughter Lilian were ill (not necessarily with the same illness). William recovered, but Lilian was still very ill after a month and a trip she and William had been planning to London later that year had to be abandoned. Lilian never got better: over the next two years William tried to treat his daughter’s illness but nothing made any lasting difference. She became bed-ridden, and died in February 1924. There was now only Ida alive of all William and Eliza’s children; and she was in the United States.

William’s letters to Frederick Leigh Gardner show that he was making the best he could of his increasingly desperate circumstances. He was still collecting esoteric books – William would send a cheque and Gardner would buy them for him in London. He was lionised by the local freemasons. He was a vice-president of both Durban’s Theosophical Society lodges and managed to get to some at least of their meetings. He still in touch with some past friends including some ex-members of the GD. He had his grandchildren: Lilian and her husband Albert Frederick Gee had two children, a boy and a girl (I don’t know their names). He also knew other members of Albert’s family, who were distant cousins of his own: he was godfather to Mary Haw’s father. As his kidneys failed, however, his health grew worse, with high blood pressure and albuminia. He was taking a purgative three times a week; and calomel once a week. During 1923 several of the letters he wrote to Frederick Leigh Gardner mention William having fevers, and by the middle of that year he had accepted that he would not be visiting England again.

William died on 30 July 1925. William probably hadn’t seen daughter Ida for several years, but she was granted leave from her job, to get to Durban in time to be with him during his last days;


Statement William Wynn Westcott sent to Francis George Irwin, now in the Irwin Letters at the Freemasons’ Library. There was a letter with the statement originally, according to R A Gilbert, who saw the two items together when preparing a talk given at Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 in February 1987; the letter had a date on it – 7 March 1875. Ars Quatuor Coronatorum volume 100 published November 1988: p6, footnote 2 p19.

18th-century marriage and baptism records of Tamerton Foliot, seen by Mary Haw and published in Westcott Family Quarterly issue of October 2010, the newsletter of the Society of Stukeley Westcott Descendants of America. See the newsletter at //

The Society has published a book as well: The Westcott Family Tree: Westcott Descendants from Stukeley and Juliana by Edna Jay Lewis and Roscoe Leighton Whitman. Published 2000.

Posting by Mary Haw at in February 2012 outlining her descent from Ann Westcott, who married Robert Pollyblank in 1825 and went with him to the Cape Colony. Some of Ann and Robert’s descendants will appear in my account of William’s children.


At a posting by Mary Haw in 2012: a sparse family tree for William Wynn Westcott but with portraits of both his parents, perhaps still in the family.

Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury 14 February 1834 p3: marriage notice: Elizabeth Mary Hill to Peter Westcott, 30 January 1834 at Stamford Lincs.

Freebmd; census 1841 though I couldn’t find them; 1851; 1861.

Births of:

Ellis: baptism record seen at Familysearch - England EAS-y GS film number 6128457.

The older William: baptism record Familysearch - England EAS-y GS film number 61228457. There’s no death registration for William; it’s likely he had died by September 1837 when the registration laws made it mandatory, but many children who died very young were just never registered.

Richard: no Familysearch baptism record for him but on several censuses he is listed as having been born in the Brompton district of west London; and being of an age to be born in 1837.

Grace: baptism record Familysearch - England EAS-y GS film number 6128458.

All the Oundle baptism records gave the parents’ names as Peter and Mary.

Eliza: freebmd 1841.

William: freebmd 1848.

Peter as a doctor towards the end of his life, based on the medical directories the first issue of which was published in 1846, listing London practitioners only.

Medical Directory:

1847 p297.

1848 Part 2 provincial list p287.

1849 provincial list p440 with Peter Westcott at Lansdowne Crescent Leamington Spa.

Issues of 1850-1853; and then 1856 – there was no listing for him. He never worked as a GP in Martock.

1859 volume covering England, obituaries p988 no entry for Peter Westcott.

Gentleman’s Magazine 1858 obituaries section p653 a death notice for Peter Westcott.

Probate Registry 1859 entry for Peter Westcott, who had died in Martock on 7 November 1858. Two of his executors had also been executors at his wife’s death: Wynn Hill and George Hill. Richard Westcott Martyn was also an executor; and there were others, apparently, but they weren’t named on the entry.


Marriage and baptism records for 1790s at Tamerton Foliot, Devon; seen online by Mary Haw.

A memoir written by Richard Westcott Martyn but never published; manuscript in the possession of Mary Haw by 2010 when she published an account of it in the Westcott Family Quarterly issue of October 2010. Mary Haw was also posted some of that information, February 2012, at

For the GD William’s reference to Richard as a half-uncle; his ability to speak French; and the earliest reference to him at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School: letter plus personal statement William Wynn Westcott to Francis George Irwin, now in the Irwin Letters collection at the Freemasons’ Library. When I was researching the subject in 2019 the letter had disappeared, but R A Gilbert saw it in 1986 or 1987 with the date 7 March 1875. Source for his seeing it: Ars Quatuor Coronatorum volume 100 published 1988; p6 and footnote 2 p19.

The medical directories are a good source of information on where doctors were working and who with; but the first directory was published in 1846, when Richard Westcott Martyn must have been in general practice for nearly 30 years. The first listing of doctors in the provinces was published in 1847.

Medical Directory entries:

1847 provincial list p189: for Richard’s whereabouts, his licence to practice; and his job with the Langport Union.

1848 Part 2 provincial list p199 and p415.

1850 is the first edition to show where doctors are listed by place as well as surname: p241 list for Martock; provincial list p379.

1851 p272, p438.

1852 p286, p454.

1853 p296, p492.

A pattern had been established so I next looked at:

1856 when it’s called the London and Provincial Medical Directory and is all by surname: p301


1861 census; and census information on Richard Westcott as far as 1881.

And Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Kingston-upon-Thames. The earliest published account of William as a pupil appeared in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum 1893 p205 in its profile of William as the incoming Worshipful Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076; based on information he had given the Lodge.

The school’s wikipedia page establishes it as one of the Tudor grammar schools; it was given its royal charter by Elizabeth I in 1561.

Contemporary books giving some idea of the school from shortly after William left it:

Our Schools and Colleges by F S D de Carteret-Bisson and published 1872: p247 a paragraph on Queen Elizabeth Grammar School whose address was Kingston Hill Surrey. There were 80 pupils who studied classics; maths; and English. If you paid extra, modern languages (unspecified) and drawing were available; and the school prepared pupils for the usual entrance exams. Current headmaster Rev William Rigg; who ran the school with 3 teachers who lived in and 7 others who lived out. The account didn’t give any indication of the fees. In 1871 and 1881 Richard Westcott was living in lodgings; so if he was a teacher at Quuen Elizabeth Grammar School he was one of those who lived out.

Educational Year Book for 1879 p113 entry for Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Kingston-upon-Thames shows a greatly-expanded curriculum and a new building. This book does give current fees but I’m not sure how relevant they would be to William’s much narrower education over a decade before: the basic curriculum and full board was £15 per term; day boys paid £3/10 per term.

British Medical Journal 1868 volume 1 of that year issue of 16 May 1868 p490.

Times 16 April 1870 p10 Apothecaries’ Hall. List dated Thurs 14 April [1870] of men who’d obtained its Cert by passing its exam “in the science and practice of medicine”.

General Medical Council Registers 1871: 1st registered 26 May 1870. MRCS and LSA both 1870.

Medical Directory

1872 p272 with William Wynn Westcott now as Bachelor of Medicine.



Seen at Familysearch: England EAS-y GS film number 6128457: baptism of Ellis Westcott 11 March 1835 at Oundle. Parents Peter Westcott and wife Mary.

The letters in The Lancet:

The Lancet 18 May 1861 p500 Ellis had written in with a recipe he used that would cure an ulcerated throat quickly. The address was Westminster Hospital where I guess he was working in the dispensary. The letter was picked up and reproduced in The Retrospect of Medicine volume 44 1862 p126 with him as “Ellis Westcott Esq”.

The Lancet 18 March 1865 p306 with Ellis again sending in a recipe in response to a request in a previous issue – suggesting he was a regular reader. This time the recipe is for treating heartburn in pregnancy. His address was now Ashton Terrace, Battersea.

I went through the Medical Directory looking for his name; searching from 1862 to 1871; but never saw an entry for him.

Freebmd for the marriage though unfortunately two women could have been the bride; the other was Emma Elizabeth Parsons. The death of a Mary Ann Westcott was registered in Marylebone Jan-Mar quarter 1864.

1871 census where I found the census official’s handwriting almost impossible to read. I’m fairly sure, though, that the first word in the ‘occupation’ box is “insufficient”; I suppose the pub landlord didn’t know what his guests did for a living.


Census entries 1861, 1871, 1881, 1901, 1911. There’s no probate registry entry for him.


Seen at Familsearch - England EAS-y GS film number 6128458: baptism of Grace Mary Westcott 9 August 1839 at Oundle.

Census 1861 – neither she nor Eliza were on it; 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901.

Probate Registry 1907.


Freebmd; census 1861, 1871.

Medical Times and Gazette volume 2 1872 p477 death announcements for Eliza Westcott; and Ellis Westcott.

Probate Registry 1872.



Baptism record for Emily Burnett 24 November 1839 at St Pancras Old Church. Parents: Edmund, clerk to a printer; and wife Charlotte.

1841 census, Seymour Street Somers Town, where there were several households.

1851 census at 15 Charrington Street Somers Town, where the Burnetts had rooms above Richard Farrell’s cake shop. Eliza’s sister Charlotte Burnett was working: she was listed as a “pianofortist”.

1861 census still at 15 Charrington Street but with the Burnetts now renting the whole house and having a lodger, Daniel Robertson, retired printer.

1871 census where the surname Burnett has been transcribed as Barnett with an ‘a’.

The Burt and Farrer families: census entries for both families 1851-1911; Familysearch and freebmd but I couldn’t tie down exactly how Louisa Farrer and Eliza Burnett were related; if indeed it wasn’t William who was Louisa’s relation. I think he wasn’t; I think the connection was between Eliza’s mother Susan Burnett née Prior, and Louisa’s mother Elizabeth Burt née Harrison, who were both born near Aldeby in Norfolk. Even if they were not related, Eliza and Louisa shared the great grief of children who died before their parents: Louisa had 11 children; seven had died by 1911 and at least one more had died before Louisa’s own death in 1934.


Eliza and Ellis Westcott died so close together that their two deaths were announced in the same item in the Medical Times and Gazette volume 2 1872 p477. Eliza died on 25 July 1872; Ellis on 19 September 1872. Both died at Martock.

Eliza left no Will but William and Richard Westcott were executors of Ellis’s Will.

William’s extra curricular activities: Ars Quatuor Coronatorum volume 38 1925 p226 obituary of William Wynn Westcott.

General Medical Council registers 1871.

Medical Directory

1872 p272, list for Martock with J D Adams, R W Martyn and W W Westcott in that order; p708.

1873 provincial list p523 with Richard Westcott Martyn listed as MRCS for the first time and the article On the Cure of Housemaid’s Knee, which had been published in the Associatio Journal.

1874 p291 in list for Martock; p522, p653.

1875 p295 in list for Martock.

1876 p302 in list for Martock.

1877 p310 and 1878 p308 lists for Martock

1879 p317 in list for Martock which is as 1876. On p580 entry for Richard Westcott Martyn. RWM’s personal entry.

1880 p337 in list for Martock: with J D Adams and E Price as the only partners. Obituaries p1316.

Marriage registration St Matthew’s Oakley Square 18 February 1873: William Wynn Westcott to Eliza Burnett


Address 1877: Letter Westcott to Francis George Irwin written 30 January 1877. In the Irwin Letters Collection at the Freemasons’ Library.

Probate Registry entries 1879: Richard Westcott Martyn of Martock

The move to Hendon:

Letter Westcott to Francis George Irwin 7 January 1880 from Sunny Gardens Hendon. Irwin Letters Collection, Freemasons’ Library.


Ars Quatuor Coronatorum volume VI 1893 p205: profile of William Wynn Westcott after his installation as WM of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 in November 1893. The speech was made by Robert Freke Gould and was based on information given him by William amongst others.

Sources for 1883-1920: freebmd, census, probate registry entries.

GMC registers: in 1883 change of address to 4 Torriano Avenue Camden Road.

Times 6 April 1875 p5 first coverage in Times of George Danford Thomas as deputy coroner for central Middlesex.

Times 28 March 1883 p9 first coverage in Times of William Wynn Westcott as deputy coroner for central Middlesex.


Change of address 1887: letter from William Wynn Westcott to unknown recipient, probably a member of the Swedenborgian Rite; dated 16 May 1887. Letter now in the Irwin Letters collection at the Freemasons’ Library.


William’s political leanings: letter plus personal statement William Wynn Westcott to Francis George Irwin, now in the Irwin Letters collection at the Freemasons’ Library. When I was researching the subject in 2019 the letter had disappeared, but R A Gilbert saw it in 1986 or 1987 with the date 7 March 1875. Source for Gilbert having seen it: Ars Quatuor Coronatorum volume 100 published 1988; p6 and footnote 2 p19.

Transactions of the 7th International Congress of Hygiene and Demography. Held London 10-17 August 1891. 13 volumes published London: Eyre and Spottiswoode 1892. Volume 13 list of British delegates p98 has John Walker Smyth LRCP LRCS of 13 Colebrooke Row Islington; p100 has William. List of speakers p300 doesn’t include William but that’s not surprising – this was a very high-powered event, with delegates from all over the world and a series of British sponsors and patrons that reads like a tour of British royalty and aristocracy.

Probate Registry entries 1892.

Islington Gazette Tue 8 March 1892 p2; 29 March 1892 p2; 27 April 1892 p2; 22 May 1892 p2; 28 June 1892 p2.

[London] Evening News 26 March 1892 p3.

British Medical Journal 1892 volume 1 of that year issue of 30 April 1892 p924.

Kentish Mercury Fri 13 May 1892 p5.

Hackney and Kingsland Gazette Wed 25 May 1892

[London] Evening Standard 16 July 1892 p5

British Medical Journal 1892 volume 2 of that year issue of 6 August 1892: 319, 330.

Medical Directory 1893 London list p415 entry for Alfred Edwin Harris.

West Middlesex 1893-94:

British Medical Journal 1893 volume 1 of that year issue of 14 January 1893: p80 announced the appointment.

North-East London:

British Medical Journal 1894 volume 1 of that year issue of 9 June 1894: 1267.

The 1895 conversazione: Ars Quatuor Coronatorum volume VIII 1895 p1.

Northern Polytechnic: the source for William’s involvement is a passing reference in an account of Elsie Westcott’s wedding, in the Islington Gazette 26 October 1898 p3. I haven’t consulted the archives of the Northern Polytechnic, now at Middlesex University; but accounts in the local press in the early and mid 1890s, when the institution was being set up and its building constructed, do not mention William at all. He was not on its board of governors, even in the first few months of the board’s existence.


SRIA Metropolitan College Transactions 1897-98 p3.

At National Library of Wales in the newspaper collection to view online: Llangollen Advertiser and…. 3 September 1897 p7 list of visitors to the town.


SRIA Metropolitan College Transactions 1901 p1, p3, p7.

Sources 1900s:

For his children see their sections below.

SRIA Metropolitan College Transactions 1907: p5, p28. William was at the meeting of 11 April 1907 but would be sailing within a couple of days”. He was back in England in time to attend SRIA’s next meeting on 12 July 1907.

SRIA Metropolitan College Transactions 1911 p19, p29.

SRIA Metropolitan College Transactions 1912 p35.

SRIA Metropolitan College Transactions 1913 p6, p21, p38, p64.

SRIA Metrop College Transactions 1914 p13, p71.

SRIA Metrop College Transactions 1917 p5.

As a Justice of the Peace:

British Medical Journal 1907 p329 reported Westcott being sworn in.

Pharmaceutical Journal and Pharmacist volume 104 1920 p292 mentioned that Westcott was still listed as a JP in a report about him about to go to Kwazulu Natal for “a long holiday”.

Elsie’s death: probate registry entries 1917; Times Mon 9 July 1917 p1. Uxbridge and West Drayton Gazette Friday 13 July 1917 p5: account of inquest on Elsie Bridget Hamel. The coroner was Mr J T Broad, who might have been a professional acquaintance of William.

Source for Martyn Westcott’s amputation: RAG Ars Quatuor Coronatorum volume 100 1987 p19 footnotes to an article on Westcott by R A Gilbert; saying it was in a bible belonging at time to Westcott but by 1987 in SRIA High Council library. However, Gilbert says she died in 1918.

The move to South Africa:

SRIA High Council Library ACTA. My thanks to Alistair Lees, librarian of the SRIA High Council collection, who sent me information from its archives.

SRIA Metropolitan College Transactions 1920 p5 et seq. William was at the meeting of 8 January 1920 but missed all the other meetings that year.

Times 12 March 1920 p13 reported that William would be sailing for South Africa “to-day”. This is also the source for William’s not having had a holiday since World War 1 had broken out.

For the damage to the furniture: SRIA High Council Library ACTA; thanks again to Alistair Lees.

Yorke Collection Warburg Institute: NS73 Letters to Frederick Leigh Gardner. Letter from William dated 30 May 1920 at 37 Rapson Road Durban.

Yorke Collection Warburg Institute: NS73 Letters to Frederick Leigh Gardner. Letter from William dated 25 August 1920 in which Eliza is mentioned as knowing Gardner.

SRIA Metropolitan College Transactions 1921 p32. William was back to attend the April meeting of the Metropolitan College but attended his last ever meeting on 14 July 1921; at Café Monico, by that time the usual venue.

Death of Eliza Westcott:

Times Wed 10 August 1921 p5 Fatal Fall into a Courtyard: Mrs Wynn Westcott Killed. Though it’s not specifically stated I think the report was based on the inquest. The verdict of the inquest was that her death was accidental.

Western Daily Press 11 August 1921.

Reports on the inquest were published in newspapers as far away as Ireland; with varying amounts of detail. William doesn’t seem to have given evidence; and none of the papers mention him even as being in the building when his wife fell. Perhaps he was staying elsewhere.

Freebmd; there was no probate registry entry for her.

Yorke Collection Warburg Institute NS73 Letter William to Frederick Leigh Gardner, written in England on 13 August 1921.

William left England for what turned out to be the final time, on 26 August 1921, and arrived in Durban on 17 September. Source for those specific dates is: ACTA of the SRIA High Council Library.

Bright’s Disease: see wikipedia. William’s letters to Gardner show he was aware that he had it and knew what treatments were being used in the 1920s.

William in South Africa: Yorke Collection Warburg Institute NS73 letters from William to Frederick Leigh Gardner: 12 November 1921; 7 February 1922; 7 May 1922; 12 June 1922; 6 August 1922; 20 April 1923; 7 June 1923; 20 November 1923; 1 April 1924; 12 July 1925. Letter Ida Westcott to Frederick Leigh Gardner 3 August 1925, letting Gardner know of William’s death and funeral.

Probate registry entry for William Wynn Westcott 1925 required because William still had personal effects worth £10779/18/3 in England. Son-in-law and cousin Albert Frederick Gee was his executor.

THE CHILDREN, none of whom joined either the Theosophical Society or the Golden Dawn. Neither of his sons became freemasons so they were not eligible to join Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia; though both his sons-in-law did. I think that’s oodd.


Born in Martock in 1874, the eldest of William and Eliza’s five children, and called Martyn by the family.

Like William, Martyn became a doctor; like William he studied medicine at University College London; but unlike William, Martyn was an outstanding student, winning a medal and a certificate during his time at university. He did his practical work at Middlesex Hospital and was licensed to practice, as MRCS and LRCP, in 1898.

Martyn worked in general practice for most of his short life, but not in England. Instead, he was employed as a medical officer by a number of different shipping lines, travelling to the Americas, South Africa and possibly Australia. He also worked for a Brazil-based telegraph company which was laying cables across the Atlantic from the east coast of South America. In 1904 he was living in Egypt during the winter, its main season for foreign visitors. He was employed on board the Amasis, a paddle steamer plying the tourist route along the Nile. Only once was he listed as working on land: in 1905 he was house surgeon at East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital, combining it with being assistant medical officer at Heigham Hill asylum in Norfolk.

When on shore in England he was an enthusiastic promoter of Esperanto, publishing a translation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; and preparing an introductory series of lessons in it for the magazine Womanhood. He was a member of the French Esperanto Medical Group, a society comprised mostly of French doctors based in Paris. In 1905 he was helping the Group as they worked on a medical dictionary.

He inherited his father’s writing abilities and from around 1900 articles by him, on medical matters and on Esperanto, were being published in several different journals. He was elected a member of the Medico-Legal Society and the Society for the Study of Inebriety, two organisations for doctors of which William was a prominent member. He also had some ability at drawing: a number of drawings signed “E.W.M.W.” are in the Golden Dawn papers of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA) the freemasons’ organisation of which William was the head. Martyn was therefore one of that select band of people who knew about the supposedly secret GD’s existence, while not being a member.

He died in Hampshire in September 1907.

Sources for Martyn:

General Medical Council Registers: first registered August 1898.

Medical Directories: 1900 p405; 1905 p344; 1906 volume 1 p337; 1907 p337; 1908 volume 2 obituaries p1827.

His address was always 396 Camden Road – the Westcott family home.

Information about Martyn Westcott’s amputation and Elsie’s death being suicide: RAG Ars Quatuor Coronatorum volume 100 1987 p19 footnotes to an article on Westcott by R A Gilbert; saying it was in a bible belonging at time to Westcott but by 1987 in SRIA High Council library.

The amputated leg is apparently also mentioned by R A Gilbert in his A Magus Among the Adepts published Teitan Press 2012; it publishes some of William’s talks. I haven’t been able to find a copy of the book to check it out. I can’t find any contemporary verification of the amputation.

Some publications:

1899 in Physician and Surgeon: Sea Voyages as Remedial Measures. I haven’t seen this article but it was mentioned in Martyn’s entry in the Medical Directory 1905 p344.

1904 British Medical Journal volume 1 of that year issue of 19 March 1904: 655-656: The Therapeutics of Sea Voyages.

1904 in General Practitioner that year: Study of a Philosopher.

1904 in Uric Acid Monthly 1904 p220 article by Martyn: A Case of Chronic Gout. Giving two addresses: London and Cairo.

1904 in the American Quarterly Journal of Inebriety issue of October 1904 p56; published in Hartford Connecticut: Martyn’s article Sea Voyages in the Treatment of Inebriety. Its publication was mentioned in the Journal of the American Medical Association volume 42 part 1 1904 p128. The article had begun life as a short talk Martyn gave at the Society for the Study of Inebriety in 1901. Source for the talk: Lancet 1901 volume 2 of that year issue of 26 October 1901 p1125.

Publicist for Esperanto:

In Womanhood magazine volume 13 1904 p51 first of series of Lessons in Esperanto; by Dr Martyn Westcott in collaboration with P D Hugon. Martyn recommends some text books available from British Esperanto Association of 14 Norfolk St. The British Library catalogue has issues of Womanhood from 1898 to 1907.

The British Esperantist volumes 1-3 1905 p4 Martyn helped to found an esperantist group in Hastings and was elected its first President.

British Medical Journal 1905 volume 2 of that year issue of 22 July 1905: 215.

A more recent reference: Literary Cosmopolitanism in the English fin de siècle by Stefano Evangelista: p240 in which Martyn is described as an “Esperantist” doctor. The reference is particularly to the Esperanto language course Martyn and P G Hugon prepared for Womanhood magazine. The author describes Womanhood as feminist in tone and focusing on women’s health.

Employment record, based on details from Martyn’s entries in the medical directories; with information about the years when Martyn was working:

Royal Mail Steamship Company, which had the contract for mail deliveries to South America and the West Indies.

Source: a blog focusing on the history of Southampton.

Aberdeen Line: sailings to South America, the Pacific, the West Indies and the Mediterranean; and regular sailings to Australia from 1842. The firm owned the great sailing ship Thermopylae.

Source: wikipedia.

Union Steam Ship Company. Several companies had names that could be shortened to that, but it’s likely Martyn worked for the one that was later well-known as the Union Castle Line after merging with the Castle Shipping Line in 1900. Awarded the contract to deliver mail to South Africa in 1857.

Source: wiki on Union Castle Line.

Western Telegraph Company; change of name mid-1880s from Brazilian Submarine Telegraph Co. Source: information at // on companies involved in laying telegraph cables down east coast of South America and across the Atlantic. As the Western Telegraph Company it first laid cables between these places: Para; Pernambuco; Maldonado; and Montevideo. In 1901 it began work on its own and in cooperation with other companies to lay cables on east side of Atlantic to Porthcurno via Cape Verde Islands, the Azores and Madeira; finishing with a connection to Buenos Aires via Ascension Island which began operating in 1910.

Nile SS Amasis: in August 2021 I saw a picture of it on ebay dated 1904. At it’s listed in a database of paddle steamers working on the Nile in 1904: built 1886 originally with another name. 1916-18 she and others did war work in Mesopotamia.

See Uric Acid article above address 1904 is Cairo.

His last known employment, in England: Medical Directory: 1905 p344.

On his not being a freemason: United Grand Lodge of England lodge members lists at Ancestry to 1921.

The GD drawings: mentioned by Alistair Lees, in the chapter on William in his book English Illuminati published 2019.

Probate Registry entry 1907.

Death notice: British Medical Journal 1907 volume 2 of that year issue of 14 September 1907:179. There was no obituary in the BMJ or the Lancet.


Ida was born in Martock in June 1875, the eldest of William’s daughters. She was the odd one out of the three; neither Elsie nor Lilian ever did paid work to my knowledge but Ida worked for a living probably from her 20s, certainly into her 50s. Ida’s aptitude for music will have been spotted first by her aunt, Eliza’s much older half-sister Charlotte Burnett, who had been working as a piano teacher since the 1840s. Charlotte must have given Ida her first lessons and been a role model for her too, as a woman who earned a living from music. The Burnetts were a musical family: Amy Louisa, daughter of Eliza’s half-sister Louisa Reeves, taught music until her marriage; and on the 1901 census Louisa’s son Frederick Reeves is listed as a professional musician.

There’s very little information on Ida’s life in the 1890s but I did find one brief glimpse of her, as a twenty-year-old, being her father’s guest when Quatuor Coronati 2076 craft lodge held a conversazione in November 1895. All the children knew, I imagine, that their father was a freemason, but they must only have had the vaguest idea of what this involved; and the conversazione was a chance for Ida to meet other freemasons in a freemasonry setting. I wonder what she made of it? And of them? It doesn’t seem to have inspired her with a desire to join the GD sufficient to overcome William’s likely opposition to such an idea.

Curse all census officials: in Ida’s census entry for 1901 the box for occupation/source of income has two words in it, beginning with “professional”. Professional what? There’s a bureaucratic splodge over the all-important second word and I can’t read it properly; I can only say that it doesn’t look like any of the words I was expecting – musician, governess, teacher. The next box I can read: she was self-employed so if she was a teacher, she wasn’t employed by a private school or by the London School Board but was giving private lessons. Despite the unhelpfulness of the census I’m supposing that Ida earned most of her income from teaching, as there is evidence from 1915 for that. However, I’ve also found two sets of a references separated by several years, to Ida Wynn Westcott as a singer, in revue and possibly operetta. Maybe, if she had had the breaks, she would have done this full time; as it is, she doesn’t seem to have been very successful and may not even have been fully professional.

I checked, but couldn’t find any references before 1901 to Ida as a singer or actress; the first set of references I came across were from 1901 to 1904. Just after census day 1901 Ida was listed amongst a large number of musicians who performed at a concert at Hanover Park south London. It’s not clear from the report I found whether she sang or was an accompanist to other singers. A year later, she had a supporting role in a production of The Arabian Nights at the Chelsea Town Hall; which might have been a play with songs, or an operetta – the report I found wasn’t very clear on that. In November 1904 Ida played Princess Vera in a two-act comic opera, The Shah’s New Suit; at the Court Theatre. This was a step up from the earlier references I found – the production was reviewed in the Evening Standard; however, the reviewer thought both the music and the libretto were poor, and noted that in the information he or she had been given, neither the composer nor the librettist had been named. He or she did say of Ida and the only other woman in the cast that they had “made the most of their opportunities to enliven the entertainment”. Oh dear! But perhaps it did indicate that Ida had some talent for comedy. The last of this early group of references was from November 1905: Ida sang a song called ‘Damon’ at a musical evening held by the Orpheus Operatic Society, a well-known group with a good reputation. The evening was probably raising funds for its forthcoming production of The Mikado; I couldn’t find a review of the production to see whether Ida was in it.

Ida was at home with her parents at 396 Camden Road on census day 1901. It was the last census day on which she was living in England. And after that reference to her at the Orpheus Operatic Society’s musical evening, I also couldn’t find any public appearances of this kind for her until 1913. At some point after 1901, Ida went to work for a missionary society; perhaps it was around 1905.

Ida was hired by an American missionary organisation, the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church . The Westcotts were Church of England without beating their breasts over it. I am rather puzzled as to how Ida came to the attention of her employers; perhaps she just wrote to them offering her services. In the perpetual need for funds, missionary societies were not coy about publicity. The Society started publishing its magazine The Heathen Woman’s Friend almost from the date of its foundation, and Ida could also have read a history of the Society so far, published in 1895.

No doubt she was influenced by a wish to bring Christian civilisation to non-Christian countries but missionary work could also give women the security of a regular income, however small – Ida would be making herself more independent of her parents. The Society had been founded in Boston Massachusetts, by women, for women. Surely that was another attraction. The Society used education, medical and settlement work to bring Christianity to ‘heathen’ women.

Ida was not in England on the day of the 1911 census. She was probably already in Malaysia, teaching music at one of the Society’s schools in Singapore.

In 1913, Ida reappeared in England in three productions by the Black Cat Club. They were all listed in The Stage Year Book for that year; though they were formal rehearsals rather than full-on stagings; they were only staged once, and I think none involved any music so Ida was acting not singing or playing. Oh! What A Surprise, a one-act farce, was put on at the Clavier Hall in April; Ida played Kate Seaton. Pretoria’s Love Story, a one-act play by Ivan Patrick Gore was staged in a double-bill with Stage Struck, in September. In the Gore’s play Ida played Pretoria but was listed last in a cast of four. In Stage Struck she was listed second, playing Nancy.

I couldn’t find any reports of Ida on the stage in England after the two plays of September 1913; perhaps she got involved with the Black Cat Club during a long leave from her job. She didn’t live in England, even temporarily, again.

In May 1915 she was on another period of leave, but in the United States where she attended the Society’s annual meeting as a representative of its North Western branch. At that meeting she was one of a group of women given permission to “return to the field” and probably spent three or four more years in Singapore before taking a job at the Society’s office in New York.

1920 was the year Ida’s parents went to South Africa, intending to live there. In 1920 Ida also accepted it was unlikely she would live in England again: that year, she took US citizenship. In 1924, she applied for an American passport so that she could visit William. She was able to get to Durban in 1925 in time to be with William when he died. After helping her brother-in-law Albert Gee with William’s papers and affairs, she returned to New York. She was the only one of William’s children to survive him.

Ida married William Lewis Smith, in St John New Brunswick, in October 1927. William Smith was an American and I think I saw at Familysearch evidence that he was a widower with grown-up children. Ida was 52 and her husband well into his 60s. Ida died at 37 Rapson Road Durban – William’s last home – in October 1934, presumably while on a visit to her relatives.

Sources for Ida:

freebmd; census 1901, 1911.

Ars Quatuor Coronatorum volume VIII 1895 p1.

Ida as singer and actress:

South London Press Sat 20 April 1901 p2.

The Era Sat 12 April 1902 p19.

London Evening Standard Tue 29 November 1904 p3.

Kilburn Times Fri 24 November 1905 Orpheus Operatic Society.

Search to 1910 didn’t produce any m responses.

At, The Stage Year Book 1913: p172 23 April 1913; p178 16 September 1913; p186 15 September 1913.

Google couldn’t find any more Stage Year Books for me. It’s possible that Ida was in similar productions in other years whose year books are beyond google’s reach at the moment (March 2022).

Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church:

wikipedia. And its Proceedings including its 46th Annual Report published 1915; seen via p32; pp42-43; p266. Although it had been founded in Boston its main office was now in New York, on 5th Avenue.

The Story of...1869-1895 by Frances Baker. Published Curtis and Jennings.

Ida might also have seen a slightly earlier pamphlet focusing on the Society’s medical work.

Familysearch: Ida’s naturalisation papers. In them, Ida’s DOB was given as 25 June 1875. Declaration of Intention 1920 volume 482 numbers 237236-237735.

At US Government archives reference number 576072: application by Ida Grace Westcott for Naturalization heard by US District Court for Eastern New York. Dated 1920.

Famlysearch has her American passport application: 1924, New York. Certificate number: 462296.

Yorke Collection Warburg Institute NS73 Letters to Frederick Leigh Gardner. Letter from William written in Durban 25 August 1920. In it, William asks Gardner if he can give Ida a hand with her tax affairs: she was now living in New York but was pretending she was still living in England so that she could have a tax rebate.

Yorke Collection Warburg Institute NS73 Letters to Frederick Leigh Gardner. Letter written by Ida Westcott at William’s house on 3 August 1925, to let Gardner know he had died.

Her marriage:

At Familysearch: Canada New Brunswick Provincial Marriages 1789-1950; FHL microfilm 2, 320,200: marriage of William Lewis Smith, born 1864 son of James Austin Smith and Mary Ann née Dunler. On 1 October 1927 to Ida Grace Westcott at St John New Brunswick. Certificate number: 2323.

Though information about people called Smith is always tricky, I think Familysearch had a record of the birth of a Mary S Smith in Chester Pennsylvania, in 1900. Parents: William L Smith and another Ida, Ida M Smith.

Ida Westcott Smith’s death:

At Familysearch: a death registration and a probate registration 1934 in the Pietermaritzburg Estate Files 1846-1950: Ida Grace Westcott Smith died 18 October 1934.

There’s also an English probate registry entry for her, from 1935. It confirms that her husband, William Lewis Smith, survived her.

William and Eliza’s two younger daughters were more conventional than Ida; at least, the sources I’ve been able to find for their lives suggest that. Except for one thing.


Elsie was born in Martock late in 1877. She married Fergus Edward Hamel in 1898.

Fergus Hamel’s parents, Ludwig and Clotilde, were both German, but Fergus was born in 1865 in Manchester. He moved to London and with a partner, probably William Herbert Drummond, founded Hamel and Horley, import/export dealers, in 1893. The firm’s offices were at London House, Crutched Friars, and the partnership continued until July 1913, after which Hamel ran the firm on his own.

Whereas neither of William’s sons became freemasons, Fergus Hamel was already one when he married Elsie: he had been initiated into Hampstead Lodge 2408 in 1896. The following year he joined Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 as a corresponding member. William was an active member of QC2076 himself and the two men might even have met that way. Fergus may have been a collector of the artefacts of freemasonry: he couldn’t get to QC2076’s meeting on 4 October 1901 but on his behalf William showed the members a freemasonry certificate Hamel had discovered, issued in Havana Cuba in 1763.

A few years after Fergus and Elsie were married, William proposed Fergus as a new initiate in SRIA’s Metropolitan College: Fergus was elected at the meeting of January 1903. I think William might have seen Fergus as a possible successor in SRIA – Fergus was soon on the lower ranks of the hierarchy of the College’s officers. A look through the minutes of the College’s meetings between 1903 and 1908 showed that Fergus did not attend very many meetings. However, he did reach the top of the College’s hierarchy and it must have given William great pleasure to instal Fergus as the College’s Celebrant (the equivalent of a craft lodge’s Worshipful Master) in April 1914. He resigned from SRIA in 1935.

Elsie and Fergus began their married life only a short distance from her parents, at 73 Hillfield Avenue in Hornsey. They were there on census day 1901, with one live-in general servant. They may have increased the number of their servants shortly afterwards, as Elsie was pregnant. Her only child, Geoffrey Fergus Wynn Hamel, was born that summer.

In 1906, Fergus Hamel spared his parents-in-law a terrible ordeal when he gave evidence on the family’s behalf at the inquest held to investigate George Wynn Westcott’s death.

Around 1908 Elsie and Fergus moved out of London. On census day 1911 they were living in Northwood, part of Watford; at the house called Chilterne in Eastbury Avenue. Elsie was keeping house with a cook and a housemaid but Geoffrey wasn’t in England or Wales – probably visiting relations in Germany.

Perhaps part of the reason for moving out of London was Elsie’s health. In 1917 a Dr Oscar Hilton was her GP and he described her as being used to taking medicines. During the first few months of 1917 he had been treating Elsie for a problem with her lungs. As she found it difficult to sleep, he had prescribed bromide and other preparations. In July 1917 Elsie was due to go to Bournemouth; presumably on Dr Hilton’s advice, to see if the sea air could improve her condition. She became very agitated, though, on the morning she was supposed to travel – Thursday 5 July. She changed her mind about going went upstairs to rest; and swallowed nearly a whole bottle of bromide. She died on the Saturday morning, aged 39. She had left a note asking that her husband look after Geoffrey and not tell him the truth about her death.

Fergus Hamel married Louie Winifred Wilson only a few months later. They had two daughters. Fergus moved back to Hornsey at some point and died there in 1942.

Elsie’s son Geoffrey became an engineer. At least in the 1920s he was working for the commodity brokers Edward Nathan and Co of Billiter Street, City of London. During that decade he made several trips to Buenos Aires; perhaps he worked mostly in Argentina. He married Grace Maud Morgan and they had at least one child, Elsie, born in 1928. In 1930 the family were living in Hendon but by September 1939 they had moved to Suffolk. On the day of the 1939 Register Geoffrey had already signed up to be an air raid warden; by early 1940 he had enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant. He died in 1982.

Sources: freebmd, census.

Fergus Hamel’s parents: entries at

I could see quite a bit online about Fergus’ mother’s family, the Heilbrouns, including more information on Fergus; but it was in German, which I can’t read.

For Fergus Hamel’s business:

London Gazette 29 July 1913 p5441 a list of partnerships dissolved includes that of Fergus Edward Hamel and William Herbert Drummond, trading as Hamel and Horley.

City of London Yearbook 1914 p124 lists Hamel and Horley of London House, Crutched Friars. Principle: Fergus Edward Hamel. There’s a date – 1893 – which I take to be the date the firm was founded.


At Ancestry, the list of members of United Grand Lodge of England to 1921.

Some details of Hampstead Lodge 2408 from Lane’s Masonic Records has it:

Hampstead Lodge 2408 was founded in 1891 so it was very new when Fergus Hamel was initiated. From 1894 it met at the Vestry Hall Haverstock Hill. I daresay William knew individual members of the lodge but he was not a member of it himself.

Ars Quatuor Coronatorum volumes 31-32 1918 p40 lists him and his joining date. QC2076’s constitution only allowed 40 full members at any time. William was one; Fergus was not.

till at the Chilterne address. He is QC2076’s member number 1301 w date ((of joining)) June 1897 ((that’s bef he marries Elsie)). As a member of 2408.

Ars Quatuor Coronatorum 2076 volume 14 1901 p172.

On 8 April 1920, Fergus Hamel joined Baltic Lodge 3006. Warrant and consecration 1903 so he wasn’t a founding member. It met 1911-41 at the Great Eastern Hotel Liverpool St, a popular venue with City-based lodges.

SRIA Transactions to end 1903: p1, with William as his proposer and long-serving member Dr Brindley James as seconder. Given that William was the head of the whole SRIA the members weren’t going to reject his son-in-law. As part of the initiation ceremony Fergus received a copy of William’s book on Numbers.

SRIA Metropolitan College Transactions 1903-08: lists of members actually present at the meetings.

Freemason and Masonic Illustrated volume 53 1914 p726.

Date of his resignation: SRIA Golden Book, q in Chapter on William Wynn Westcott in English Illuminati by Alistair Lees, librarian of the SRIA High Council library. Published 2019.

Elsie’s death:

Times Mon 9 July 1917 p1: death notice for Elsie Bridget Hamel. The Times did not have a report on any inquest that might have had to be held.

Medical Directory 1917 p480 entry for Oscar Hilton of The Corner House, Northwood, Middlesex.

Probate Registry 1917.

Uxbridge and West Drayton Gazette Friday 13 July 1917 p5: inquest on Elsie Bridget Hamel.

On freebmd: marriage of Fergus E Hamel to Louie W Wilson, Jan-Mar quarter 1918.

Probate Registry 1943 re death of Fergus Edward Hamel of 25 Ferme Park Mansions Hornsey.


Findmypast had 3 records of trips to Argentina, in 1924, 1926 and 1931.

Electoral rolls, 1930 and 1931; Geoffrey and Gladys Hamel were at 13 Goodwin Avenue Hendon. Seen at Familysearch.

Gladys Maud Hamel née Morgan has been hard to find. I couldn’t find a birth registration for her on freebmd; and there was no record of her marriage to Geoffrey there either. Perhaps they met and married in Argentina.

Edward Nathan and Co started out, at least, as a South African firm:

Cape of Good Hope Government Gazette Tue 7 July 1868 two notices signed by Edward Nathan anncg a change of name to Edward Nathan and Co of the firm trading f 13 years now as Graaff-Reinet; of Cape Town. Change as from 1 July 1868.

Chemist and Druggist 1928 p54.

1939 Register at a house called Fairfax, in Worlingworth in Suffolk.

London Gazette Supplement 12 March 1940 p1463.

Probate Registry entry 1982 f him: d 9 May 1982. Address: 3 Meadow House, Penywern Road SW5.


Lilian was born in March 1880 when William and Eliza were living in Sunny Gardens Hendon. In September 1902, at St Paul’s Camden Square, she married her distant cousin Albert Frederick Gee – usually called ‘Bertie’ like the royalty after whom he was named.

Albert Gee was a grandson of William’s aunt Ann Westcott (born 1797). In 1825 Ann married Robert Pollyblank. They went to live in South Africa, originally in the Cape Colony but later in KwaZulu Natal. Robert Pollyblank bought land at what is now called Mt Edgecombe and developed it as the Saccharine Hill sugar estate, using indentured labour from India and elsewhere. Ann and Robert had a daughter Mary Grace Pollyblank, who I think may have been an only child. She married Stephen Gee and their son Albert Frederick was born at Saccharine Hill in 1863. Stephen Gee took over as owner and manager of the Saccharine Hill estate when Robert Pollyblank died; but he got into debt, drank heavily, and had to sell the estate to his creditors in 1866. When Albert Frederick Gee married Lilian, he was living in Durban and working in the offices of a railway company.

I’m sure William Westcott would always have welcomed a visit from a distant relation, but he must have been the more pleased to find Albert Gee an active freemason in South Africa. His first initiation was in 1897, into Inanda Lodge 1192 which met at Avoca KwaZulu Natal. In 1900, he and several other members of that lodge petitioned the United Grand Lodge of England for permission to set up Stamford Hill Lodge 2864: permission was granted with a warrant dated 1900.

Around the time he and Lilian got married, Albert was initiated into SRIA’s Metropolitan College. In fact, his initiation predates Fergus Hamel’s, probably because Albert and Lilian would be leaving for South Africa soon. He was probably a member of SRIA’s Ladysmith College. Albert was a member of SRIA until 1919.

I’ve found it difficult to research GD members and their relations who were living in South Africa so I know virtually nothing about Lilian and Albert’s life there. I do know that they had two children, a boy and a girl; but I don’t even know their names. Things improve slightly when William finally moves in either to their house or the house next door, in Rapson Road Durban, and starts to write to ex-GD member Frederick Leigh Gardner in England. However, the letters don’t talk very much about William’s daily life with the Gee family. All that the letters mention is the decline in Lilian’s health, after a severe and prolonged illness in early 1922, and William’s increasingly desperate attempts to treat the symptoms. From William’s references to Lilian’s condition, it sounds like her illness was a process of slow, inexorable physical deterioration – multiple sclerosis, perhaps, or motor neurone disease. She became bed-ridden, and died in February 1924, aged 43.

Albert, though much older than Lilian, survived her. He died in 1934.


Lilian has a short entry at, with her full birthdate but without any details of her siblings. The entry gives Albert’s year and place of birth; and his death in Durban in 1934.

The wedding: The Gentlewoman Sat 4 October 1902 p42.

Albert’s line of descent from the Westcott family is part of Mary Haw’s article published in the Westcott Family Quarterly issue of October 2010 and available online at // Mary Haw is a great-great-grand-daughter of Stephen Gee; Albert Gee was her great-uncle.

Saccharine Hill:

Source for where it was: via to website Soul of a Railway.

British Settlers in Natal 1824-57: A Biographical Register volume 7 by Shelagh O’Byrne Spencer. University of Natal Press 1981: 64-65.

Documents of Indentured Labour: Natal 1851-1967 p554; the information is from 1871.

The South African Sugar Year Book volume 50 1979 p9.

Albert as a freemason:

At Ancestry, members of United Grand Lodge of England (and thereby of the Empire) to 1921.

SRIA Metropolitan College Transactions to end 1902 p7. He also got a copy of William’s book on Numbers as part of his initiation ceremony. The Metropolitan College Transactions to end 1919 still lists him as a member but he isn’t in the list published in Metropolitan College Transactions 1920 p53.

Lilian’s illness:

Yorke Collection Warburg Institute NS73 Letters to Frederick Leigh Gardner. Letters written by William at 39 Rapson Road Durban: 7 May 1922; 12 June 1922; 29 June 1922; 7 June 1923; 23 February 1924.

Probate Registry 1924


George was the last of William and Eliza’s five children; born in the autumn of 1883. It has been difficult to find out anything about him; short lives tend to leave little trace. This is what I have discovered.

Like his older brother Martyn, George began a medical training at University College; he was registered as a student there in 1901. He was also described in 1906 as a dental student. However, I can’t find any evidence for his being at UCL after 1901; he didn’t qualify either as a doctor or a dentist; and never practised medicine or dentistry. It seems likely that he quit his studies; probably to the great annoyance and anxiety of his parents.

Perhaps he would have preferred to work at the Natural History Museum: he was interested in molluscs and in November 1905 was elected a member of the Malacological Society of London.

At some point after abandoning his medical studies he went to Durban, probably living with Lilian and Albert Gee. While he was there, he discovered what was thought at the time to be a new species of mollusc. It was given the name Conus geographus by Edgar A Smith, the expert in the field, and details of it were published in the Annals of the Natal Government Museum.

George also collected weapons, particularly swords and knives.

Around the beginning of 1905 he began to suffer from what the surgeon who treated him, Edward Rosser Mansell, called “ulceration over the largest artery”, which caused frequent haemorrhages. For the winter of 1905-06 his parents sent him to Hastings, a place which they knew well and to which William had gone to recover from a serious illness. Perhaps George stayed in the same place William had, in Robertson Road. He was so ill at the end of February 1906 that a nurse was hired to care for him. She was sitting with him in the early hours of one morning when he suddenly leaped out of bed and headed for the window, knocking the nurse down when she tried to restrain him. She got up and grappled with him but was unable to prevent him getting a knife out of a drawer. He stabbed himself through the chest with it, and died a few minutes later. At the inquest, the jury’s verdict was suicide during a temporary spell of insanity.


Ancestry has a database of UK Medical and Dental Student Registers 1882-1937. There is one record for George Wynn Westcott in that database: as a medical student at UCL in 1901 having passed the preliminary exams in 1898. He was never listed in the GMC Registers or the UK Dentists’ Registers 1879-1942.

Via to Proceedings of the Malacological Society of London volume 7 1905-07 published London and Berlin. Seen at website of the Smithsonian Museum. On p5: minutes of the meeting of Friday 10 November 1905; George was elected a member at that meeting.

At, the text of On South African Marine Mollusca, With Descriptions of New Species by Edgar A Smith. This was obviously an important publication as you can find at several different websites. Smith’s long and detailed article was published in Annals of the Natal Government Museum 1908: p41, 42 and 61 mention the mollusc found by G W Westcott of Bluff Durban, given the name Conus geographus; p21 had a line drawing of it.

Even a brief moment of fame as the discoverer of a new species was taken away from George Westcott, though not until the 1980s: Records of the Australian Museum volme 33 1981 p270 had an article bringing Edgar Smith’s 1908 publication up to date in an Australian context: Smith’s Conus geographus had now been identified as an immature Tutufa bubo (Linnaeus).

His death: Hastings and St Leonard’s Observer 3 March 1906 p12: report on the inquest; though without specific dates so I’m not sure on which day he died. The surgeon who was treating him, E R Mansell, said that he thought George would recover from the illness in time; but that he had been suffering from “anxiety and disappointment” – I think we’d call that depression. Fergus Hamel gave evidence on behalf of the family. I presume it was him who mentioned George’s fascination with weaponry, though the report doesn’t specifically say so.

E R Mansell: Medical Directory 1905 provl list p789 Edward Rosser Mansell of 44 Wellington Square Hastings. The entry makes it clear that Mansell’s experience was virtually all in surgery rather than doctoring; so I wonder what sort of treatment George Westcott was receiving from him.

George Westcott was not in the United Grand Lodge of England’s list of members to 1921; at Ancestry.


30 March 2022

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