Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lottie Montal

Litigious Lottie, Lottie, the bender of the truth, adventuress and it must be said, woman of fortitude, forever remembered in English contract Law has never been recalled in photography. We have a black and white line drawing from Table Talk and one lithographic portrait of her en rôle and looking rather demanding. She does exist in photographic terms!

In a google search yesterday I had found out that someone had purchased a CDV of Lottie Montal. What? I check ebay's CDV and Cabinet photos EVERY DAY! The same thing happened with two CDV's of the Zavistowski sisters. I missed them as well!

It turns out Lottie was listed in the postcards, though it wasn't one although the sellers speciality was postcards. Damn it.

Eternal vigilance seems to be not the only requirement for finding what you are looking for. Imagining the infinite permutations of a seller or holder's mind must also be taken into account.
But the story has a good end. The buyer responded to my mail and is willingly to make a copy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fishing for Steele

Paul Herbert Steele, son of Herbert George Steele, grandson of Elizabeth Steele, who of course was Robert Sparrow Smythe's sister, Eliza, has made his presence known on Ancestry.com via the listing by one Margaret Parker. I have a picture of Eliza' Steele, so Mrs. Parker, if you see this post please contact me. He had a sister too, I think, one Hilda Mabel whom probably married and so disappears from my radar.

Then there are the cousins of Paul Herbert Steele, Arthur Edward Burrows, railway Porter (how VERY Ealing!) and Ella Bessie F. Steele, and the Bennett Cousins, Edith Bennett and Edward Bennett as well as the below mentioned Arnold Francis Steele M.B.E. none the less and sister Muriel Steele, wife of Dr. (Professor) John Rankin. (who I believe had a son, John F.A. Rankin and a daughter, Hazel)

I have got to find this branch of the Steeles!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Steeles

Frederic and Robert had a sister, Eliza who married Edward Steele who was in the drapery business. They produced quite a line of notables beginning with Francis Edward Steele 1863-1927 a man in banking who died in Nice, France within 12 months of his cousin Carlyle Greenwood Smythe, who died there also. Francis had two children I believe, Muriel Steele, who married Dr. John Rankin of Oxford, and Arnold Francis Steele MBE, CC, 1896-1981 who in turn had a son Francis Howard Steele, who has an alphabet soup after his name, to whit: F.H.Steele, A.C.G.I, B. Sc, F.R.T.S, F.C.G.I, C. Eng, F.I.E.E and F.I.E.R.E a man well accomplished in television's early explosive and exciting days who I think left two sons; Michael Steele and David Steele who are still, I hope, alive.

Where are the Steeles? Please email if you have found this page.

As for Arthur Frederic Steele of 90 Elmbourne Rd, Tooting who looked after his aged mother until her death in 1913, I have no idea if he married or left a line. He took care of Frederic and Robert's sister (sister also to the tragic and long since passed Edward Smith and the lost George Smith) and for that, I am, as I am sure, Smythe was, grateful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bookshop on the Strand

There is a family rumor among the Smiths that Frederic Smith and Robert Sparrow Smythe's Father owned a bookshop on the Strand. Given the passage of time there is probably a grain of truth in it, if not more than a grain and luckily, bookshop sellers on the Strand in the 19th and even 18th century are well documented and even include small biographies in many small compilatory publications. There are:

William Smith, map publisher who died Nov 10 1860 aged 54. The business was established in 1799 by HIS father Charles Smith who died just six years before aged 87. William's widow and the eldest son took over the business.

Francis Smith who died 1691, bookseller on the Strand. A Francis is also recorded as a son of Ralph Smith.

Richard Smith (son of the famous Ralph Smith) who had a shop at the Angel and Bible outside Temple Bar by 1698. In 1708 he moved to the Strand, then a few years later moved to Bishop Beveridge's Head in Paternoster Row. He died on April 18, 1732. His widow Mary took over the business, then her son Charles, and then Robert Smith.

Samuel Smith, who dealt in French and Latin books.

George Smith (1789-1846) who started a bookshop and continued by George Murray Smith (1824-1901)

Henry Walton Smith (1738-1792) whose son founded the dynasty of William Henry Smith (1792-1865) the largest bookselling and newspaper vending business. The grandson William Henry Smith Jnr. became a Member of Parliament.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Smiths a-go-go

R.S.Smythe, in his will, probated in 1917 left a sum of money to his nephew in South Australia, Lancelot Wellesley Smith. Now there's a name that history cannot sweep under the rug with the crumbs dropped by the last person to drop in for an afternoon tea.

So imagine my surprise quickly thickening to suspicion when I come across a Ralph Lancelot Wellesley Smith born in 1892 in South Australia. A few hundred tippity-taps on the old plastic clavier and I find he is the son of a Francis Stringer Smith (of the South Australian Telegraph department) and Maria Julia Blott, of Kooringa, now known as Burra) in South Australia. Now surely, this Ralph and by obvious connection his father and any other Smiths that might care to reveal themselves to me must be connect to Lancelot Wellesley Smith, Smythe's proven nephew.

So what is the connection? Obvious the families knew each other well enough to name a child after another family member. So, Francis Stringer Smith was born to Francis Smith and Eliza Stringer who married in Kooringa on the 14 of Dec 1880. Francis Smith I find was born in about 1815 according to a rootsweb entry. So, That makes Francis Smith an early pre-gold rush settler and probably Edward Smith of Crafer's, R.S.Smythe's and Frederick Thomas Smith's Uncle. Curiously there is a Francis Smith mentioned of Sydney of 1829 who had lately arrived on the "Henry Wellesley". I wonder if that is him?

But, I can find no verification of who Francis Smith was for although I think he died in 1866. I am not sure and an Andrew Mitchell, who has a tantalizing tree listed on Ancestry (which I cannot afford) doesn't seem to have broken that barrier either. South Australian certificates are among the most arid and scrooge-like in the world, bearing so little information that they are virtually a waste of money to purchase until they reach the 1880s.

Now where do I go? Who is Francis Smith? How is he related?

There are some volumes in our state library compiled by genealogists, who intent upon correcting the miserly record keeping of the 'governing' entity of the time, have left brilliant and proud volumes from which much may be gathered. I hope that they might give me some of the missing links, along with some 'Smiths' in England, doing the same.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ralph Lancelot Wellesley Smith

Who the heck is Ralph Lancelot Wellesley Smith, son of Francis Stringer Smith and Mary Julia Blott? Lancelot Wellesley Smith was Smythe's nephew and the Ralph Lancelot Wellesley Smith entry on Ancestry is beyond my access. So what is going on.

I'm being flooded by Smiths!

George Levey

Whereas Charles Robson was the brains behind the literary component of Robson, Levey and Franklyn, Levey was the machine man; the muscle and cog man. But, George Levey was the business man, the money man, and the impetus to survival.

George Levey was born in Northam, Devonshire, married to Anne Richards, a London girl and they had a small library of children, some of whom succumbed to the usual infant mortality statistic trotted out to illustrate the shadow of the Victorians. As far as I know it seems to be that George lent Charles the money to purchase Charles' share in the business, which makes perfect business sense but seems odd to us today. Obviously Levey needed to secure some brains. The loan became one of the dancing ponies at the dissolution and bankruptcy case that rent Robson and Levey asunder. George was the son of a Navy man, William (1776-1867 also born in Northam). All I know of his siblings is knowledge of but one, a Mrs. Elizabeth C. Clark, bookbinder.

Of present interest is the fact that four of his sons emigrated to Australia: George Collins Levey who married twice to women with interesting names and places of birth; Oliver who did not quite succeed as a printer's broker; William who died young in 1876 but not before having started up 'Bell's Sporting Life in Victoria" which was a popular rag in its time, and finally, James Alfred Collins, who married Sarah Elizabeth Grice (of a monied family) and who - God bless him - nearly reached one hundred leaving an informative obituary, a solid career in state service, and two daughters: Mrs. Robert Renton (Jean Athol Levey) and her older sister Marjorie Rhoda Grice Levey. Marjorie married the unfortunate Dr. Guy Miller who died in 1915 during the war, before marrying again to a man whose name I have misplaced.

And now it is their trail that I am on, hoping that the Levey's have photo's and information about the original George. I wonder if they know about William Levey R.N. ship's purser on "La Concorde" amongst others? Levey descendants please contact me.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Charles Robson

Charles Robson was a empirically verifiable mystery but not by other paths of probity. Happily and thanks to a friend in the USA I was able to get the obituary of Mr. Robson, native of Kelso, from his 1876 obituary in "The Bookseller."

He was the genial man I thought him to be. He was the self taught linguist memorizing vocabulary in Greek, Latin and Hebrew in between the dark fords between street lamps on his way home. There is no doubt in my mind that Smythe was inspired by his boss and was himself an autodidact with Robson merely adding force to the trajectory of Smythe's home environment where John Benny was a teacher. There is a rumour that Robert's parents owned a bookshop on the strand. That would make sense too.

From the 'Bookseller" of March 1st 1876.

"Feb. 10. - At 8, Union Rd, Tufnell Park, Charles Robson, aged seventy, of the firm of Robson and Sons, printers, Pancras Rd, and last surviving Member of the once well known eminent printing firm of Robson, Levey and Franklyn of Great New Street, Fetter lane. Born in Kelso in 1805, the eldest of a numerous family of brothers and sisters, he at an early age was broight to London to seek his fortunes. Entering Moye's Printing Office, Greville Street, Hatton-Garden, as a reading boy, his assiduity and intelligence secured for him in 1820 his indentures as a compositor, from which he was soon promoted to the reading closet. Here he soon saw that if her was to rise above his fellows he must become master of Latin and Greek, and others languages if possible. He Therefore se to work to teach himself, and to fighting out alone whatever he wished to learn, and a determination to arrive at exact knowledge, whatever trouble it might cost him, that his reputation in afterlife is attributed. Wholly self taught, he acquired a thorough knowledge of the Latin and Greek classics, as well as considerable proficiency in Hebrew, Arabic and other dead languages. So industrious was he, and such a utiliser of time, that when living about four miles from his business, and walking home often very late at night, his favorite practice was to take off a sentence of the book he was studying and con it over between the lamps. Not unnaturally feeling dissatisfied with his position as reader, he, in 1834, in conjunction with the late Mr. Levey, determined to commence business on his own account and a house was taken in St. Martin's Lane for the purpose. Here the correctness and carefulness of the work soon raised for the new firm a host of friends, and larger premises became necessary. These were found in Great New Street and many of the books published with their imprint are amongst the choicest productions of the press; especially may be mentioned "Poems and Picnics" published by Mr. James Burns in 1846, one of the best specimens of fine woodcut printing we are acquainted with. In the new office the whole surge of the reading was committed to Mr. Robson, and this naturally brought him into communication with many eminent men. In 1829 he edited Dr. Robinson's Lexicon to the Greek Testament, which is admitted by all students who saw the book to be invaluable, though from circumstances attending it's publication it never attained the publicity it deserved, and it was shortly afterwards pirated by Dr. Bloomfield. In 1855 he undertook for the late David Brogue the editing of Webster's English Dictionary, a work of great labour, many parts being published entirely rewritten; but the death of the publisher occurring soon after the completion of the work, this too, did not meet with the success to which it was entitled. Of kindly, unassuming disposition, nothing delighted him more than to give any one the benefit of his knowledge, which would always be thoroughly relied upon. Hence the esteem in which he was held by such men as Thomas Carlyle; Alexander Dyce who acknowledge in his preface the assistance rendered him by Mr. Robson on his edition of Shakespeare; and John Forester, all of whom fully appreciated his value as an accurate and learned printer. Like the two latter, he also now has passed away, beloved by all who knew him, full of years and honour."

Now, hows that for an obituary. Just as I recalled him to be. Now, it puts me in mind of the Levey's (George Levey's obituary surely must have made it into 'The Bookseller" ) but more of that anon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Smiths of Steele

Having had some success after using my message in a bottle technique on embloggations, I think I will give it another go.

Robert Sparrow Smythe (Robert Smith. Never 'Bob') had a sister whom I first found out about when Smythe remembered, in his will, of 1917, by bequest a handsome some to his nephew Arthur Frederic Steele of Elmbourne Rd. Tooting Common, for the care of said Alfred's mother, his sister Elizabeth who had died there in 1913.

Francis Edward Steele, whom Smythe does not mention in his will was the brother of Arthur and another nephew. Now, if I have my connections properly knotted, Francis (1863-1927), who died in Nice, where is buried also, his cousin Carlyle G. Smythe, was a banker and mentioned in the Times several...er...times including an obit in 1927 (April 18) and who seems to have made quite a career in banking matters, both privately and in counsel. His ashes by the way were scattered. No mention is made of his wife Ella Harriet, née FELLA (I assume this was her name)

But, Francis's big contribution to my tracking down of this branch of the family was Arnold Francis Steele M.B.E., C.C. none the less (1896-1981) with a long line of credentials and accomplishments. And it continues. His son (Francis) Howard Steele, A.C.G.I., B.Sc., FIK.K was an early and vital cog in the world of television who died not long after his father at the young age of 55. I don't even know his widows name. He worked for Sony, the BBC, the IBC, the ITA and was a member of the European Electronics council.

Now, somebody has got to remember that! So if you do happen to google upon this page please email me and then I have but two branches left, Edward and George Smith (husband of Caroline Stroud)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Grenfall Wellesley Smith

Grenfall Wellesley Smith, I have established through the kind telephone call of A Penrith Archaeological Society Lady, had owned once a property they were examining. He died at St. Leonards in NSW in the 1961. I learned that he had a family whose descendants are probably still living. Sadly, any boys would be Smiths and girls married and surnamed off the map.

Now where to go? I could get his death certificate; it might have some details on it. His wife was Grace Lavina née Bray and there was no record of her death so I think she died after 1970 when he NSW online search has drawn the line in the digital sand. There are post-office directories; electoral roles; phone books for Sydney. I could chase up the address, or even find the grave, but is it worth the expenditure of calories upon a line whom most likely knows naught about the interesting line of history behind them? It's unlikely they have any album full of Cartes de Visite over which I can have cardiac palpitations.

What has become of your family Mr. G.W.Smith and have they any idea of the London origins of the name Smith. It's a vexation within an irritation. So R.S.Smythe distant grand-nephews and grand-nieces have melted into the anonymity of Sydney.

So many threads...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dissecting Mrs. Cutter.

For those of us who spend our spare moments wafting about on a particular pond ( in my case, Melbourne) filled with the water of the 19th century, there comes a moment when we cast our rod into the water, lean back and wait for our trout. Well, there is a line I have been dangling in the water for many years.

I was fishing for Mrs. Cutter, only ever known here as "Mrs. Cutter, the American Contralto" whose christian name was never ever nibbled at my lure. She has remain annoyingly elusive but today she bit the hook and I have a trail.

She was born in 1840 in the United States under the name Cassie Dyer (probably Kathryn Dyer) and she married (in New York) a Boston born book-keeping bachelor of the same age named Arthur Hamilton Cutter in 1869, the very year they set sail for Australia on board the "Corea." They had only one child that I can find, born in 1871 names Cassie Everett Cutter, but who died just three years later of measles They had no more children.

An enthusiastic fellow fisherman (woman in this case) in Western Australia emailed me regarding Mrs. Cutter and there are now two lines in the water. She returned to the States sometime in the 1880's according to Thomas Harbottle Guenett and what happened from then on is a mystery, but now I am euphoric at knowing her name.

Another trout to mount on the wall.