I was conducting a search of The National Archives when I happened upon Item reference J 77/327/9839 :
Divorce Court File: 9839
Appellant: Horace Willi Kemble
Respondent: Kythe Agatha Kemble
Co-respondent: C A Murray, Earl of Dunmore
Type: Husband’s petition for divorce
I think it is clear that Horace William Kemble, a Captain in the 2nd Battalion of the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, was wanting to divorce his wife for allegedly having committed adultery with Charles Adolphus Murray, the 7th Earl of Dunmore, who was a Colonel in the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the same regiment. It appears that Horace was appealing against a judgement made by a lower court, presumably having failed to secure his divorce?
As I was unable to access the record I decided to see what evidence the censuses might provide regarding the outcome of this case:
In 1881 Mr and Mrs Kemble were living in Heathbourne, Bushey, Hertfordshire with their 3 year-old daughter Lucinda Dorothea and her baby sister Hilary Olive (The same Bushey that would become home to the Tapestry Weavers in 1901).
A decade later, and some seven years after the divorce petition, Horace, still soldiering, had moved to Knock Farm on the Isle of Skye and taken-up farming. He was alone there apart from his five female servants and a young male farm servant and remained there until his death at the age of 80 in 1935.
Mrs Kemble, meanwhile, was living with her widowed Mother-in-Law (Horace’s mother) in Kensington, London in 1891 together with her four children, the youngest two of which were born a year either side of the 1884 court record. She had moved to her own widowed mother’s house in Enfield by 1901. In both records she is shown as remaining married.
Kythe Agatha Hanbury Kemble died in 1947 at the age of 94 and, having been the main beneficiary of Horace’s Will twelve years earlier, it is perhaps not too surprising to learn that she, too, ended her days at the family farm on Skye.
A newspaper notice described her as the widow of the late Lieutenant-Colonel H W Kemble.
The thing that makes this story slightly more intriguing is that in 1904 little Lucinda Dorothy Kemble (now aged 26) was married in London. Her husband was one Alexander Edward Murray, the son of the very same man that her father, twenty years earlier, had accused of having had an affair with her mother…