Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Of Walpoles, Beauclerks, Ramsays, Aclands, and Mills

Let's take a holiday break from the sordid tale of Robert "Robin" Horace Walpole—whose fate was lamented in our last post by an unnamed "London correspondent"—and recall why his proceedings against German governess and alleged 'adventuress' Valerie Wiedemann are anything more than an interesting sidebar to our research on George Mills.

Remember that Mills's grandfather had been Arthur Mills, a moderately powerful Member of Parliament, friend of Gladstone, world traveler, expert on colonization, and son-in-law of Thomas Dyke Acland, 11th Baronet, M.P. for Devon North and Somerset West, and Privy Counsellor.

George's father had been the Reverend Barton Reginald Vaughan Mills, an Anglican cleric (who was a practicing Catholic) with a checkered career who became a foremost scholar researching, interpreting, translating, and publishing the writings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Barton had two sons and two daughters, the first son having been born of his first wife, Lady Catherine Mary Valentia Hobart-Hampden, who was granted the rank of Earl's daughter at their wedding.

Barton's elder son, Arthur Frederick Hobart Mills [pictured, right, circa 1925], was born on 12 July 1887 after his mother had returned from Italy after surviving the February earthquake in San Remo, where Barton was apparently working as a chaplain. Lady Catherine would die two years later, an event that must have rocked the worlds of both Barton and young Arthur.

Barton eventually remarried, taking Elizabeth Edith Ramsay, daughter of Sir George Dalhousie Ramsay, C.B., as his second wife. "Edie" would give birth to Agnes Edith (1895), our George Ramsay Acland (1896), and Violet Eleanor Mills (1901).

Barton himself had married well, and his two boys would eventually do the same.

George, who became a schoolmaster masquerading as a graduate of Oxford, took the hand of Vera Louise Beauclerk, a society girl listed among the peerage in The Plantagenet Roll of Royal Blood, in 1925.

His half-brother, Arthur, had also married well, taking Lady Dorothy Rachel Melissa Walpole, elder daughter of our own Robert Horace Walople, 5th Earl of Orford, as his wife in 1916. Marrying Arthur, then an apparently impoverished commissioned officer and war hero in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, caused Lady Dorothy to become estranged from her father who insisted on a marriage to a more suitable [read: rich] match.

Lady Dorothy Mills [pictured, left, in 1924], of course, had been born and bred amid the turmoil and seemingly endless repercussions of the scandalous Wiedemann v. Walpole trials, and all of that could not have had any small impact on the entire family, including impressionable Lady Dorothy.

Nevertheless, the boys had done well for themselves in regard to matrimony, which is likely why we know so much about the family today. Even with such influential wives, the literary works of George and Arthur Hobart Mills have been largely forgotten. Having married into the peerage, however, assured that they had been recorded in the public record for posterity—at least the portions of their lives led within the duration of each man's childless marriage.

George's wife, Vera, died in 1942, after which George, in seriously ill health a year later, faded into almost impenetrable obscurity. He surfaced only as editions of his books from the 1930s were revived in the 1950s, as a summer instructor at the Ladycross School in Seaford, East Sussex, in 1956, and as an on-again, off-again croquet player in amateur tournaments around southern England while residing with his spinster sisters in Budleigh Salterton, Devon, where he passed away in 1972.

His brother, Arthur, was divorced by Lady Dorothy in 1933 after having been discovered engaging in an adulterous affair the previous year.

Arthur Mills did remarry later in 1933, but, like his brother, George, almost completely dropped off the proverbial map except to publish 14 lightly-regarded crime/spy novels. Apparently, Arthur primarily gardened, golfed, and spent time with his new wife, Monica, 17 years his junior, until his death at Winds Cottage, Downton, near Lymington, Hampshire, in 1955. George Mills appears to have never remarried.

The fact that we know so much about the Mills brothers, George and Arthur, is largely attributable to their "high profile" first wives.

There's still much to be known about Arthur's relationship with his entire family, and especially with his brother George [pictured, right, in 1956], whose 1925 wedding Arthur failed to attend.

We can glimpse some of what must have been Arthur's life through the eyes of Lady Dorothy, a prolific and extremely private travel writer, who left clues to her relationship with Arthur—a relationship that was certainly coloured by her own relationship with her father, the estranged Earl of Orford—bread-crumbed through her writings.

And so we have been exploring the relatively sordid roots of Lady Dorothy's family history for clues to both her relationship with her husband, Arthur Mills, and his brother, George.

There are still a few more twists and turns in the story of Robert Horace Walpole, the last Earl of Orford and father of our Lady D., and we'll examine them in upcoming posts, as well as linking interestingly ambiguous aspects of her autobiography to her father's life story.

And before I forget, many thanks to everyone who has helped me research the life and career of George Mills, and have a safe, healthy, and happy new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"One of the most melancholy figures to be seen in all London..."

This article, dated 2 October, appeared on 12 Whiringa-ā-rangi [November] 1891 on page 3 of New Zealand's Star newspaper. It is the last news story [although its journalistic integrity is clearly open to question] regarding the four years of courtroom wrangling between German governess Valerie Wiedemann and the heir to the Earl of Orford, Robert Horace Walpole, father of Lady Dorothy Mills.

Despite the icily acidic quality of the text, it's very much a heart-wrenching description the lengthy and scandalous proceedings had on Wiedemann in particular. One wonders what became of her. The immigration and travel records of describe none of her movements, nor any record of her birth, death, or marriages.
She seems to have disappeared from public records and memory—at least records and memories to which I have access. The same wire service report also appeared untitled on page 2 of the Bush Advocate on 3 Hakihea [December] 1891.

With that, here is the text from an unknown "London correspondent," professing to describe the last known condition of Miss Valerie Wiedemann...



London, Oct. 2.


One of the most melancholy figures to be seen in all London just now is a faded, rather bilious-looking young woman, with watery eyes and a monomaniacal expression, who haunts popular public resorts trying to sell tickets for some "French and German Readings," to be given next week at the Piccadilly Hall. This is none other than Valerie Wiedemann, the heroine of the notorious Walpole case. A sane person would have been content with the £300 which the last Jury who tried the breach of promise issue so very unjustly gave the plaintiff. But Miss Wiedemann is mad, a raving lunatic on this one subject, and she is trying to raise money for more litigation. I saw her outside the Stock Exchange in Throgmorton Street on Monday. She waylaid all the men she could and persuaded them to buy tickets. A few, a very few did so out of curiosity or pity or both, but the majority fled like frightened rabbits at her approach. The whole affair is frightfully hard on Mr Walpole, who, by this never-ending scandal, has literally been driven out of England, as well as made bankrupt. Hot blooded youths, tempted to youthful indiscretions, should bear in mind his story. One evening's folly has cost him a lifetime of misery. What the end will be who can say, for Miss Wiedemann is mad, and lives only for revenge.

The World in 1891

Here's some perspective on the world at the time of Robert Horace Walpole's 1891 appeal of a ruling in favor of Valerie Wiedemann, a decision that was overturned in the Court of Appeal. I'd meantl to post this before leaving town for Christmas and simply forgot. Here it is…

Deaths in 1891 included author Herman Melville, painter Georges Seurat, U.S. General William Tecumseh Sherman, poet Arthur Rimbaud, and Circus magnate P.T. Barnum.

Notable 1891 births included author Zora Neale Thurston, U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren, painter Max Ernst, composer Sergei Prokofiev, songwriter Cole Porter, wrestler Man Mountain Dean, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, author Henry Miller, and the last verified living person born in 1891,
Emiliano Mercado del Toro.

Events that occurred in 1891 included New Scotland Yard being named HQ of the London Metropolitan Police, James Naismith inventing basketball, the founding of Philadelphia's Drexel University and California's Stanford University, Maria Skłodowska [later Curie] entering the Sorbonne, Eugène Dubois discovering Java Man, John Heath scoring the first penalty kick awarded in a football [soccer] match, Liliuokalani being proclaimed queen of Hawaii, Thomas Edison displaying his prototype kinetoscope, Carnegie Hall opening in New York City with a concert conducted by maestro Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky [pictured, above left, in 1891], Nikola Tesla inventing the Tesla coil, and a New Orleans mob storming the Old Parish Prison and lynching 11 Italians arrested but found innocent of the murder of Police Chief David Hennessy.

In the world of art, Henri Matisse began his studies at Académie Julian, Claude Monet completed his Poplar Series [pictured, right] and began his Haystack Series, Paul Gauguin painted Femmes de Tahiti, ou Sur la plage [below, left], and the work of the Pre-Raphaelites was in bloom.

In music, Brahms debuted Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Opus 115, a fourteen-year-old Pablo Casals performed a solo cello recital in Barcelona, the Chicago Symhony Orchestra first performed, and Henry J. Sayers wrote the words and music of "

The U.K.'s Strand Magazine debuted a new character, Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Also published during 1891 were Ambrose Bierce's An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey, and Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and a single performance of the controversial play Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen was performed at the Royalty Theatre in London to avoid censorship.

In the U.S., the Wrigley Company was founded in Chicago. Abroad, the Paris-London telephone system was opened, fees for primary schooling in the U.K. were abolished, and the Great Blizzard of 1891 sunk 14 ships and killed 220 in South and West England.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Capt. Walpole's Pyrrhic Victory

There isn't much immediate reaction available on the internet regarding the success of Robert Horace Walpole's 1891 appeal, a victory which left Valerie Wiedemann in far more debt than she had ever been, having now been burdened with the court costs of that final appeal as well as legal fees for all of her proceedings dating back to 1888.

This excerpt appeared the same day as the judgment, 29 July 1891, in the New York Evening World, on page 3. Most of the world incorrectly assumed Walpole's wife, Louise Corbin, was a native of New York, although she had never been a resident there. Hence, some immediate interest interest in the proceedings was shown in the Big Apple.

Walpole, it seems, scored only a Pyrrhic victory. While he ended up owing Wiedemann nothing, the toll the scandal took on his marriage must have been terrible, as we shall soon see. And there is every reason to believe that it had a long term effect on the life of his daughter, Lady Dorothy Rachel Melissa Walpole, who would eventually become the sister-in-law of George Mills.

The Wiedemann v. Walpole Appeal: 30 July 1891, Part 3

Welcome to the third and last installment of what I believe are images of the final courtroom clash between Valerie Wiedemann and the Hon. Robert Horace Walpole, this an appeal of the ruling of the third trial.
Click to enlarge each image in a new window.

The Wiedemann v. Walpole Appeal: 30 July 1891, Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of what I believe are images of the final courtroom clash between Valerie Wiedemann and the Hon. Robert Horace Walpole, this an appeal of the ruling of the third trial.
Click to enlarge each image in a new window.

The Wiedemann v. Walpole Appeal: 30 July 1891, Part 1

This is the first part of what I believe are images of the final courtroom clash between Valerie Wiedemann and the Hon. Robert Horace Walpole from the London Times, this an appeal of the ruling of the third trial.
Click to enlarge each image in a new window.