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…
…to those who have answered my plea for editorial assistance.
I am extremely grateful to you and the first pages will be on their way very soon.
(If anyone else wants to take a peek too, please drop me a line.)
Back to the ‘sgrochladh’…
As a result of several terribly kind people repeating their suggestion that I turn some elements of this blog into something more weighty, like a book, I am devoting my creative(?) energies to that task.
I would really appreciate it if some readers volunteered to take a look at bits and pieces as they slide from my typewriter and glide gracefully into a heap on the floor.
If you can spare a few minutes to help then please send me an email with the word ‘HARRIS’ as the subject and I will reward you with the odd page now and again.
Please don’t be shy!
It appears that this institution was the likely link between Harris and Herts. and I have uncovered a reference in ‘Womanhood 6’, the publication edited by Ada S Ballin, which states:
‘At the British and Irish Spinning and Weaving School, in New Bond Street, with its branch school at Bushey…’
In 1902 Volume 8 of this publication would refer to:
‘The stall for Harris goods, superintended by Mrs. Thomas…’
which I think was in regard to an Exhibition of Home Industries that had been held in Scotland and which links Fanny Thomas to the island and to Home Industries/Arts & Crafts almost up to the time of her death and certainly during the period when the School in Bushey was opening & operating.
In the previous piece on Tapestry Weavers I posed the question as to what had led the ladies from Harris to Bushey? A little further examination of that little village in Hertfordshire produced a possibility which, although highly conjectural, I thought I would describe:
In 1886 a remarkable house was conceived and by 1894 people were living in it. It was known as Lululaund and was built for the artist Hubert von Herkomer who was linked with the Arts & Crafts movement. Lululaund has been described as an ‘Arts and Crafts fairytale home’ .
In 1899, The Land Magazine had published the Duchess of Sutherland’s account of The Revival of Home Industries and the newly-founded Scottish Home Industries Association, inspired by Ruskin’s Arts & Crafts movement, had ‘Mrs S Macdonald‘ as its champion in An-t-Ob or ‘Obbe’. FWL Thomas had died in 1885 and in 1890 the widowed Fanny Thomas married James Flowers Beckett and moved from Leith to Sussex but remained linked to Harris at this time via her Tweed depot in London.
The pieces were in place, therefore, for seven skilled young ladies from Harris to find themselves working in Hertfordshire producing items for the extraordinary residence of an artist named Herkomer. I have no proof, and have contacted the museum in Bushey for assistance, but at least I now have a possible explanation where before there was none.
I was doing some highly focussed (OK, slightly random!) searching and came across four young ladies from Harris who in 1901 were employed as Tapestry Weavers.
What made this surprising was that the young ladies, aged from 15 to 25, were all credited with having been born in Obbe, Scotland but at the time of the census were boarders in the house of a 40 year-old Metropolitan Police Constable in Bushey, Hertfordshire.
Quite how this quartet came to be living at 39 Park Road, Bushey, situated a mile each way between Watford and Greater London, and precisely where they were employed remains unknown but this is the first time that I have seen such a group and hence I thought it worth a brief mention.
Ah, but what is this I see? Three more from Obbe but this time at 34 Silvester Terrace in Bushey, the Head of Number 32 being a local man, George Corney who was a Master Baker.
The two houses are home to George, his Wife and their Niece together with a Domestic Servant and no less than six Tapestry Weavers, four Carpet Weavers and two more who appear as Mixed Weavers.
Of this dozen, two are Blind and one is Deaf & Dumb.
Three of the Tapestry Weavers are 17 & 18 year-old young ladies from ‘Obbe, Harris, North Britain’.
So a total of seven female Tapestry Weavers from Harris, all specifying their birthplace as ‘Obbe’, were possibly working together but for whom and where is uncertain for, unhelpfully, the Baker lists the ladies relationship to him not as ‘Boarder’ or ‘Lodger’ but as ‘Weaver’.
I suspect that George was the landlord for the ladies at number 34, for it is clearly a separate household but the first person on the list is not shown as the Head of the Household which is the expected practice.
All rather confusing, but a tale worth the telling, nevertheless!
…that I thought I would mention as they might prove useful to other researchers.
The second, ‘The Belfast News-Letter’ , shows how a search of newspaper archives can supply some surprising information.
You might also like to read my transcript of the Stornoway Gazette’s obituary of Alexander John Kerr .
Seeing this photo of the lodge from one of my ‘Contacts’ on Flickr (Contacts are like Facebook Friends or Twitter Followers) inspired me to learn more about the story of the lodge.
I checked what, if anything, I had previously written and discovered just a passing reference to the name itself being derived from the Norse for ‘Horse Cliff’ (It may also appear spelt as ‘Horsaclett’ or ‘Horsaclete’).
However, I did find a comment at the British Listed Buildings site.
We are extremely fortunate to be able to access and contribute to these wonderful online resources and my aim in writing this is merely to highlight, & thereby encourage, such collaboration and cross-referencing.
Of course, we are also able to take a ‘virtual walk’ around the area thanks to Google Street View !