The Alabaster Chronicle
The Journal of the Alabaster Society
NUMBER TWENTY-THREE, AUTUMN 2004
by Laraine Hake - March 1996
A very warm welcome to Chronicle Number 23!
News from Around the World
Firstly let me remind you all that with the trauma of computer problems, etc., there was no Letters Page in the previous Chronicle, Number 22, hence my apologies that some of the communications below date back several months! I do hope they are of interest regardless. (As ever, anything in italics is my comment! -- Laraine).
Dr. Erica Alabaster (IIB) writes on the13th Jan 2004:
Ivor Smith (IV) July 7th 2004
Oriole Veldhuis (IIC) 21 st July 2004
Olivia Alabaster (IIA) 3rd August 2004
Charlotte Alabaster (Branch IV) 10th August 2004
Kelley Videbeck (IV) August 2004
Eileen Fowler (W ofW) 11th August 2004
Shirley Rowe (IIA) 15th September 2004
and ......................... found on the internet.......
Very many thanks to all of you who write to me and allow me to develop our correspondence into something of interest to others. As I have mentioned elsewhere, if members are willing to continue to send me letters, emai/s with news and comments then, as secretary, I will be very happy to continue to provide such pages for future Chronicles, with the Editor`s permission!
William Alabaster`s Stolen Letter and the Earl of Essex
by John S. Alabaster (I)
In the last number of the Alabaster Chronicle (Alabaster, John S. (2004) Postscript and Index to `A Closer Look at
William Alabaster`. Alabaster Chronicle, Spring/Summer 2004, pp. 1-5) mention was made of the possibility that a
letter, said by William to have been stolen from him, had been found and identified as his. It has, indeed, been found
by Professor Cyndia Clegg of the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. The news came from Professor Dana F. Sutton
of the University of California, Irvine (personal communication) who had identified it as William`s from its distinctive
capital As compared with those in a letter William wrote to Thomas Egerton. The same characteristic is found in the
script he used in two other letters to Cecil - from Framlingham (see inside the back cover of William`s biography
(Alabaster, John S. (2003) A Closer Look at William Alabaster (1568-1640): Poet, Theologian, and Spy. Occasional
Monograph No. 1. The Alabaster Society. 159 pp) and the King`s Bench, and also in his autograph on a copy of the
Greek Anthology by Henricius Stephanus, from which, incidentally, William based a love poem (No. XII). There are
other close similarities in script between all the documents.From the official account of William`s interrogation in the
Tower in July 1600 (Guiney, Louise Imogen (1938) Recusant Poets. XXXII. William Alabaster pp. 335-349. London &
New York: Sheed & Ward), it was obvious that he was involved in spying in some way, but it had been difficult to
decide exactly how. The letter, a personal statement, unsigned and not addressed to anyone in particular, taken at
face value, clarifies matters, and suggests that the official account was, to use a modem phrase, 'rather sexed up' by
the Attorney General, Sir Edward Coke! William appears as a loyal subject to the Queen, proposing to the Spaniards
to act as a messenger between them and Essex (who was then in Ireland), his object being simply to gain their
confidence and allow him to collect intelligence about their intentions against England.
The Alabaster Chronicle: Editor needed
We need a member of the Alabaster Society who is willing to edit the Alabaster Chronicle in the future. This probably
needs a bit more explanation! We are NOT looking for somebody willing to take on my role within the Society -
providing I get re-elected at the General Meeting next April (held as part of the Gathering) I would like to remain as
As per our constitution, the General Meeting held at the tri-annual Gathering, is where decisions are made that relate
to the future of the Society.
Alabaster Gathering - 23rd and 24th April 2005
The next Alabaster Gathering is a mere six months away - can it really be almost three years since we last met in
Hadleigh?! Building on the great success of the previous two meetings, we are once again "gathering" on Saturday
23rd in the Old School in Hadleigh - built on the site of the Alabaster School, provision for which was made in the Will
of John Alabaster in 1637 ......but even more to record and contribution to the history of the Alabaster family.the point,
welcoming hosts, pleasing facilities, good food all set in the heart of Alabaster country! A booking form is enclosed
with this issue of the Chronicle. I do hope you will make it a priority to complete and post it now, to let us know you
will be joining us on the day!
The Alabaster Chronicle Quiz Page
(intended for those of tender years)
Look back in Chronicle TWENTY-TWO to find the answers
1. Who is the secretary of the Alabaster Society
2. What illness did Nan Criddle develop on V.E. Day, May 8th 1945?
3. How many awards did R. Clifford Alabaster (IlIA) receive throughout World War II ?
4. How big was the diary that Angela Alabaster tells us was a Christmas present to Kerrison in 1898?
5. On what date in 1624 was John Alabaster baptised in Hadleigh?
6. How many children did Walter Goddard Alabaster and his wife Louisa, have?
7. What was the profession of Harry Alabaster who lived in High Street Hornchurch?
8. Where was Sir Chaloner Alabaster educated?
9. How much money was given as a donation to the Alabaster Society, as shown in.the accounts?
10. When will the next Alabaster Gathering be held?
A Word Search about Alabasters
See if you can find the following words:
ARCHER CROSSBOW GENES FAMILY
ARROW BOLT GATHERING TREES ANCESTOR
HADLEIGH ALABASTER SHIELD CHRONICLE
How many more can you fmd? We found seventeen, words like SAME and SAT
Henry William West Alabaster - Branch IV
by Ivor Smith
With acknowledgement to Ronald Alabaster West, and of course Laraine, for their assistance in putting this piece together.
This part of Branch IV begins with:
Robert Alabaster 1748 - 1826
The story of Robert Alabaster and Mary Ann West who had a total of 11 children appears in edition V of the Chronicle. Their descendants are spread far and wide around the world. This article however concentrates on the story of Henry William West Alabaster, their youngest son.
Robert Alabaster b: 23 January 1783 in Kessingland, d: 06 May 1850 in Yarmouth
Trying to piece together the story of my great great grandfather Henry William West Alabaster has been like trying to put together one of the hardest jigsaw puzzles I have ever tried. With more and more resources gradually becoming available online and accessible through the Internet, some of the more difficult pieces of the jigsaw are now starting to fall into place without having to travel up to London to view the records.
Henry was born on the 15th April 1828 at Yarmouth. It is important to bear in mind that the maiden name of his mother, West, is included in his full name. His early childhood must have been spent in Yarmouth but at sometime he moved to London. Perhaps he came to be with his older brother Samuel West Alabaster who was a baker in Widegate Street, Bishopsgate.
On the 5th December 1847 at the age of 19, he married Eliza Grey of full age (born 1821 at Chesterton Cambridge) at St Botolph Church, Aldgate. The marriage certificate shows that his father Robert Alabaster was a shoemaker and that Eliza Grey was the daughter of William Grey a baker. Both are shown as living in Aldgate. At the time of his marriage Henry’s profession is recorded as Baker. The certificate is signed by Henry Alabaster and Eliza Grey made her mark. The witnesses to the marriage are shown as a Mr Biggs and John Smith.
Henry and Eliza had two children, Horace Robert Alabaster (December 1850) and Virtue West Alabaster (July 1853). Little is known of what happened to Horace but through the internet Valerie Knobloch made contact with Laraine and has been able to complete a lot of details on this twig of the family as she is descended from Virtue and her marriage to John Haines at West Ham in 1872
In the 1851 census Henry Alabaster, baker aged 33 originating from Norfolk, was at Waterworks Row, Stratford. He had no family with him on the night of the census but they could have been elsewhere. The London post office directory of 1856 shows a Henry Alabaster, baker at Castle Terrace Stratford New Town and the 1861 census shows Henry Allibaster(sic) baker of 1 Castle Terrace. With him were his wife Eliza and two children Horace aged 11 and Virtue aged 9. It would appear that he had named his two children after his brother Horace and sister Virtue.
In 1866 according to the Will of his mother, Henry was living at 28 White Street, Borough, London, a Baker. White Street no longer exists but was a road to the east of Borough High Street, just north of the junction with Great Suffolk Street, Southwark.
You can find Eliza Alabaster aged 55 in the 1871 census as an annuitant living with her daughter Virtue W Alabaster, a dress maker aged 19, at 1a Charles Street, Plaistow. Searches of the available sections of the 1871 census have so far failed to find any trace of Henry or his son Horace.
It may be safe to assume that because she is shown as an annuitant that Henry had left his wife Eliza and daughter Virtue. What becomes of Horace, his son, remains a mystery. (Definition of Annuitant ~ The term annuitant could describe someone on an annual allowance as well as someone receiving annual income from an investment. Often however, it was also used for institutionalised pensioners.)
The next trace of Henry is at Portsea Island in Hampshire. I have obtained the birth Certificate of his son Henry William Alabaster. Henry was born on the 9th December 1872 at 80 William Street, Southsea. His father is shown as Henry William West Alabaster and his mother – Elizabeth Ann West Alabaster, late Coster formerly Lee. Henry’s occupation is given as retired baker (Master) after all he is 44 years of age! The birth was registered on the sixteenth of January 1873.
Henry William West Alabaster (1828-1893) (pictured, left)
Elizabeth was the daughter of James Lee a school slate maker of Lambeth, born on the 4th May 1845 at 53 Whitehorse Street, Waterloo, Lambeth. She was only 26 years of age when she gave birth to Henry, 24 years younger than Eliza Grey. She had married Edward Coster on the 17th February 1868 at St Saviours Southwark and at the time their addresses were given at Great Suffolk Street. Edward Coster’s occupation is given as baker and you would be forgiven for thinking of a link to Henry at this time as you will remember from a previous paragraph that Henry was a baker with an address at 28 White Street, quite close to Great Suffolk Street.
Elizabeth and Edward had a daughter whom they named Elizabeth Ann Coster who was born in 1866, and we can see that in the following years she stayed with her mother. What happened to Edward Coster? This is a piece of the jigsaw I still have to find but remember the name for later on in this story.
The indications are that after the birth of their son Henry, Henry and Elizabeth together with Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s daughter by her marriage to Edward Coster, decided to move to Cookham in Berkshire, where they settled and brought up the rest of their family whilst running a baker`s business at 5 Queens Street. They had a further five children listed below with Arthur (my great grandfather) Frederick and Walter all being named Alabaster West. It is interesting to note that whilst in Cookham they appeared to have used the family name of West or Alabaster-West as their family surname.
Descendants of Henry William West Alabaster and Elizabeth Ann Lee
Elizabeth Coster b: 1866 in Lambeth Surrey
The 1891 census shows that the family had returned to South London where, apart from the daughter Elizabeth who had married, they can be found living together at 178 Camberwell Road (West Side), Southwark. Henry is shown as being a Master Baker
At some point during the following two years Henry and Elizabeth moved to 10 St. George’s Place, Brighton. One can only speculate on the reason for this move but there followed, in 1893, three significant events.
Firstly, in the second quarter of 1893, Eliza, Henry’s first wife died in West Ham.
Secondly, on the 24th May 1893 at the Parish Church Brighton, Henry William West Alabaster aged 65, widower and retired businessman, married Elizabeth Ann Coster aged 48 a widow. Henry’s father is shown as Robert Alabaster deceased shoemaker and Elizabeth’s father is shown as James Lee deceased slate merchant. The marriage was witnessed by W. Robinson and John Henry Newman.
The third event was the death of Henry, himself, on the 13th July 1893
On the 19th December 1899 Elizabeth also died and is buried with Henry in a Victorian Cemetery at Worthing.
By using the surname West, Henry can be attributed with causing my part of the family some very early confusion, but the picture is becoming clearer as pieces of the jigsaw come together
The 1901 Census shows us that most of Henry and Elizabeth’s children were living in the Woolwich and Plumstead area of South London.
Next is an outline of the family with updates of my current research which has been gleaned from many of the on line sources, visits to records offices, certificates and a strict family history budget.
Descendants of Henry William West Alabaster and Elizabeth Ann Coster
1. Elizabeth Coster – Elizabeth was born in 1866. In the 1881 census at Cookham her name is shown as Elizabeth West. In December 1883 she married William Stanley a greengrocer of 11 Queen Street, Cookham and in 1886 gave birth to a son Charles William Stanley. Originally I could not find her name in the 1891 census but eventually tracked her down to The Signal Hotel, Portman Street, Croydon, where she was staying with her Uncle, William Coster, age 49, a Licensed Victualler, and his wife Mary Ann Coster. Also at the address was Harriet Hammerton, a widow, who is recorded as being the mother, but whether she had remarried or was in fact the mother of Mary Ann is not known yet. However, the information may help me eventually to identify Edward Coster and the rest of his family. I think a visit to the pub would be in order here, in the furtherance of my enquiries of course!
In the 1891 census, Elizabeth’s son Charles can be found staying with his grandparents, Henry and Elizabeth at Camberwell whilst her husband William is still at the Grocers shop in Cookham but in the 1901 census I cannot identify Elizabeth or William Stanley or any record relating to either of them.
In 1897 there is a death recorded in the last quarter of 1897 of an Elizabeth Stanley, aged 3,1 in Lambeth. This will need to be checked in next months FH budget.
Elizabeth’s son Charles, appears in the 1901 census at a boarding school in Margate and enquiries to trace him and/or his descendants continue.
2. Henry William West Alabaster b:9th December 1872 Southsea, Portsea Island Hampshire; d: 6th November 1959 in Middlesex
Some may say, like father like son but there are many unanswered questions about Henry. Having been born in Southsea, Henry lived his early life in Cookham where he can be found in the 1881 census. The 1891 Census tells us he was living with his parents at Camberwell and his occupation is shown as that of Baker`s Assistant.
In 1896 Henry married Edith Taylor at Cookham, Berkshire.
+ Edith Taylor b: 1871, d: 06 May 1898 in 163 Balls Pond Road Dalston m: December 1896 Cookham Maidenhead.
Little is known of Edith Taylor at the moment but it would appear she might have been the daughter of the local Police Superintendent (1881 Census). In 1898 Henry was living at 163 Balls Pond Road, Dalston where the death of Edith Taylor is recorded. She apparently left him nothing in her Will so this may not have been a very happy marriage. It is strange that I cannot identify Henry in the 1901 census but he does come to light in October 1901.
On the 26th October 1901 at St Nicholas Church, Plumstead, Henry married Jane Caroline Graham.
+ Jane Caroline Graham b: 9th April 1876 in St Saviour Southwark, d: 23rd June 1960 in Middlesex.
Jane Caroline Graham was the daughter of James and Caroline Graham (nee Bartlett). On her birth certificate, James is shown as a joiner and the family were living at 78 Manor Place, Walworth. In the 1881 Census she was living with her mother aged 30 and father aged 29 at 68 Cambridge St Newington. She had an elder brother Charles Graham, aged 6 and a younger sister Florence aged 2.
In 1891 she was living with her mother and father at 7 Fletton Road, Tottenham (near to Bounds Green Tube station) where she is shown as being named Jenny and a scholar. The family was still there in 1901 but Jane had left.
But here comes another mystery. Where were Henry and Jane on the night of the 1901 census? I still cannot identify Henry in the 1901 but whilst searching the index for Jane, I came across a Jenny Graham at 550 Kingsland Road Hackney. Jenny is aged 24, shown as being born in Islington, but the interesting bit is that she is also shown as being a servant at this address where the head of the household, Alice M Granger, is a Baker.
On the marriage certificate of Henry and Jane, Henry is shown as Henry William Westalabaster, a baker aged 28 and a widower, the son of Henry William Westalabaster (deceased - master baker). Note that he is recorded as being Henry William Westalabaster. Jane Caroline Graham is shown as being aged 25 a spinster, her father being James Graham, a Foreman Fitter. Both are shown as living at 79 Keavitree Road, Plumpstead. On checking a map you will be able to see that this address it is only a few streets away from the address of his younger sister Letitia. During their marriage Henry and Jane had four children Doris, Frank, Violet and Constance. But more about them in a later edition.
It would appear that Henry and Jane lived at various addresses in London and it was most interesting to note that there are references to him and Jane living in South London from the address book of his sister Letitia. where Jane is also referred to as Jenny.
Letitia’s address book gives various addresses for Jane. Henry is not mentioned specifically, but the entries read:
Mrs J West 124 Wickersly ??, Lavender Hill, SW,
Henry died on the 6th November 1959 at 15 Hampton Road, Twickenham. On the death certificate he is shown as being Henry William West-Alabaster known as Henry William West. He was aged 86 years when he died, a retired Baker and Confectioner. Death was due to aplastic anaemia and myslo fibrosis. The informant was his daughter Doris Stockham who was present at the death
Jane Caroline West otherwise Jane Caroline West-Alabaster died on the 23rd June 1960 at 15 Hampton Road, Twickenham aged 84. Her cause of death is shown as bronchopneumonia, and cerebral thrombosis, auricular fibrillation, pernicious anaemia. The informant for the death was her daughter Doris Stockham
To date I have not been able to trace their children, Doris, Frank, Violet and Constance but enquiries will continue and any information which can lead me to their descendants would be gratefully received.
3. Louise Alabaster West b: 1875 in Maidenhead Berkshire
I have traced a marriage on the internet at freebmd which records the marriage of Louise Alabaster West and Sidney Walter Turner Sept 1898 Camberwell 1D 1423. Despite this information I have not been able to trace either of them in the 1901 census so further enquiries will have to continue.
4. Letitia Alabaster b: May 1877 in Maidenhead Berkshire, d: 06 September 1969 in Victoria BC Canada
Letitia was born in Maidenhead in 1877 and appears in the1881 census at 5 Queen Street and in the 1891 census with the family at 178 Camberwell Road.(West Side).
On the 4th December 1895 at St Johns Church, Lambeth, she married Edward Coster
Edward is shown as being the son of Edward Coster (deceased master baker). At the time of her marriage Letitia is shown as living at 90 Waterloo Road, Lambeth. The witnesses to the marriage are Henry William Alabaster, Elizabeth Alabaster, Louise Alabaster and Mary Ashfield
It is perhaps worthy to note that at this marriage Letitia and her brothers and sisters used the surname of Alabaster even though through most of their life it would appear that they had been known as West.
The question is – who was Edward Coster and perhaps more importantly who was his father – remembering that Elizabeth (Letitia’s mother) was originally married to an Edward Coster. It is not the same one because of the age difference but this is one mystery which remains in the closet at the moment and is being very difficult to resolve.
To help with this enquiry you may also recall that I earlier mentioned that Letitia’s half sister Elizabeth Stanley (nee Coster) was staying with her Uncle William Coster of the Royal Signal PH Croydon. Despite this information it is still proving difficult to identify Edward.
Letitia and Edward gave birth to a daughter, Letitia Elizabeth, on the 3rd June 1897, whilst living at 18 Greyhound Road, Fulham, and on the birth certificate Edwards’s profession is shown as master baker.
The 1901 Census indicates that Edward and Letitia had moved to 157 Benares Road, Plumstead. This address is just a few streets away from Heavitree Road where her elder brother Henry lived at the time of his marriage to Jane Graham. Also registered at the address in the census is a Walter Coster shown as a nephew aged 15 born in Maidenhead, Berkshire. This compares favorably with the identity of Walter Leonard Alabaster West, the youngest son of this family (see below).
In about 1906 Letitia, Edward, and baby Letitia, moved to Canada. At first they settled in Winnipeg, but in 1912 Edward Coster died leaving both Letitias alone in Canada. The story could have ended there but for some letters my mother and Aunt Rene held which showed that “Great Aunt Letty” had family in Canada. Despite inquiries at the last known addresses and the finding of the death record of Letitia in Vancouver in 1969 the trail went cold. All I could find out was that Letitia’s daughter had married a Felix Turner and that they had a son Gordon.
Laraine suggested I contact Oriole Veldhuis a member of the Alabaster Society who lived in Winnipeg. Oriole came up trumps with a newspaper cutting of the death of Felix Guy Turner. This led to many other lines of enquiry as I tried to trace his sons, Gordon and Lawrence Turner, who were mentioned in the obituary Oriel sent me. Eventually, in desperation, and using the 411 on line telephone directory service, I picked up the phone and dialed a Lawrence Turner in Vancouver. He was Gordon’s younger brother – the grandson of Letitia Alabaster. Contact with this part of the family has now been established though enquiries continue to trace Gordon’s daughter Sharon.
Lawrence has been able to recall that after Edward Coster died, both Letitias met up with their future husbands, Lawrence McFadyen and Felix G Turner. Both served during the 1914 -1918 war in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and after the war, on the 3rd August 1919, both mother and daughter were married in a double ceremony at Assiniboia, Canada.
Letitia and her husband Lawrence McFadyen moved to Vancouver where they lived, until their deaths within a short period of each other in 1969.
Address book of Letitias? Yes. This has been kept and preserved in Canada by her grandson Lawrence Turner and his descendants. They were good enough to send it to me. It has now been scanned and has been sent back to Canada. The information in this address book has proved to be invaluable showing that her brother Henry lived in Wandsworth and Clapham Common before moving to Edmonton where he died in 1959
It is perhaps surprising that the address book only refers to Henry and Jane (Jenny), and my Great Grandfather, Arthur, Letitia's younger brother. Apart from a reference to my Grandfather Charles, and my Aunt Rene, there is no mention in it of any of the other members of the family.
NB –I find it interesting to note that there were many other Alabasters in Canada at this time – did they know each other?
2nd Husband of Letitia Alabaster:
5. Arthur Alabaster West b: 01 April 1878 in Maidenhead Berkshire, d:14 March 1957 in London Middlesex
My great Granddad. This twig of the tree has many off shoots which are all fully traceable and accountable. Arthur was a baker by trade and kept in touch with his sister Letitia who referred to him as Arthur West in her address book. Arthur married Ellen Booth at Lambeth in 1899 and they appear in the 1901 Census as living at 71 Childeric Road, Deptford.
+Ellen Martha Ann Booth b: Abt. 1874, d: 1953 in Wolverton Buckinghamshire
Ellen is believed to be the daughter of Charles and Mary Booth (nee Spencer) It’s at times like this that I realize that where one has concentrated on other members of the family I do not appear to have another side in complete order – (more work and another months FH budget). If I have the right Ellen Booth then she was born in Wimbledon. Her father and grandfather were London Carriers and the family all lived together at 28 West Place, Wimbledon (I bet she did not realise at this early age that she would marry a West).
In 1906 when my Grandfather was born Arthur and Ellen had moved to number 49 Childeric Road. Once again this address is just a few miles away from his sister Letitia and brother Henry in Plumstead.
Arthur was a Baker and I am the proud keeper of a watch which was given to me by my mother which is inscribed. Arthur West, London Exhibition, Foreman’s Prize, Hovis Championship 1907.
Arthur and Ellen had five children of which only two survived. Leslie Arthur Alabaster West born 1902 and Charles William Alabaster West (my grandfather) born on the 10th September 1904. Both were later separately awarded the MBE for public service.
Arthur served in the war as a Baker, firstly at Bath and then in France and his various addresses during the war are recorded in Letitia’s address book.
Arthur - Pte A.A.West, 359011 Baker's Section, 24 River Street, Bath
6. Frederick William Alabaster West b: September 1879 in Maidenhead Berkshire, d: in Redhill Surrey
Frederick married Ada Sear in December 1906 whilst at West Ham. Though not much has been done to follow the history through, his grandson’s wife Freda Amy Lillian Peat-Gordon has been traced and now lives in Hampshire. Contact has been made with her son Robert Alabaster and I will need to do further research.
+Ada Sear - 1965 d: 09 March 1965 in Redhill Surrey m: December 1906 West Ham
7. Walter Alabaster West b: 11 September 1885 at 5 Queen Street, Cookham Maidenhead Berkshire
My last mystery piece of the jigsaw which is not a straight-edged piece. Walter Alabaster West, the youngest son of Elizabeth and Henry, was born on the 7th September 1885 at 5 Queen Street, Cookham, Bray, Berkshire. His father’s details are shown as Henry William West a Baker (Master). Walter`s mother is shown as Elizabeth Coster formerly Lee. The birth was not registered until the thirteenth of November 1885.
In the 1891 Census, he was living at the family home in Camberwell where his name is shown as Willie. After the death of his father and mother it would appear that he lived for a while with his sister Letitia. In the 1901 census he adopted the name of Walter Coster and is recorded as living with her aged 15 at 6 Benares Road Plumstead whilst working at the Royal Arsenal.
Letitia and her husband Edward Coster went to Canada in about 1906, and I do not believe he travelled with her to Canada, but there is no trace of his name in Letitia's address book which I find rather strange.
During the First World War he apparently served with the RFC (Information from a Picture Goer interview). After the war and between 1919 and 1923 Walter went on to become a film producer and a director in the silent movies.
According to records at the British Film Institute and in several picture and film magazines of the time, he owned several film companies in the early 1920’s including his main company Broadwest Films.
The company owned cinemas at Walthamstow, Croydon and Kew where he also had his film studios. His leading lady at the time was Violet Hopson (see below) and there is quite a lot of information about her but no gossip. It would appear that she was an American who came over here to make silent movies. At one time Walter even owned a Rolls Royce, but with the onset of bankruptcy in 1923 something had to go.
His bankruptcy records are held at Kew and make interesting reading. They reveal that he had a wife named Anne and four children all at boarding school, and that she moved to the Isle of Wight. In the bankruptcy papers, she made an application for maintenance of £6 per week for 9 weeks, and it states that he had four children aged 8,9,11 and 14 years.
One of the creditors is the owner of the Calleva Hall, Boarding School, Harpenden Heights, Henley-on-Thames. The application relates to two of his children named Marjorie and Stanley. I have not bee able to trace Anne nor any of the children but another visit to Kew is required to obtain more detail.
Between 1925 and 1933 I cannot find anything relating to Walter except a reference to the making of one more film in 1933. There are several articles about him on the internet and in Picture Goer Magazine but no obituary. I believe he lived under the name of Walter West right up until 1937 when I have found a Walter West in Twickenham of the right age, but nothing more. Walter continues to interest me and will require many more enquiries.
Violet Hopson was very well known in the silent movie world. She originated from California and came to England in the early 1900s She starred in many of Walter's films and in the bankruptcy papers is referred to as his second wife. Despite her popularity at the time I have so far been unable to trace any further information about her after her career apparently ended in the late 1920s.
Whilst researching the film side of Walter’s life I read up about another Film Producer of the time, Hepworth, with whom Walter had a friendship. In one article I came across the name of Alma Taylor, a film star who was well know in the 1910s – 1920 as one of the Tilley Girls in Hepworth’s films alongside her co-star Chrissie White. At one point she is referred to as the wife of that prolific film director Walter West. Her obituary in 1973 makes no mention of this relationship so once again further enquiries have yet to be made.
Discovering this branch of my family tree has been fascinating. There are still many unanswered questions about the life of Henry and Elizabeth but I hope that in time more and more may be revealed as more and more records become available in the public domain and access to them becomes easier. The sequel to the story is yet to be written and contact with even more cousins must be made so that some of the unanswered questions can be solved.
News from Thailand
by Angela Alabaster (IIA)
August 2004 marks onc hundred and twenty years since the death of Henry Alabaster, founder of the Savetsila family of Thailand. Henry`s grandson, Khun Siddhi, writes, "We renovated the tomb erected by H.M. King Rama V, put new paint and redecorated his grave. Sixty to seventy members of the third, fourth and fifth generations of Savetsilas gathered to pay our respects to him in February. We shall go again in August."
Talking of anniversaries, Siddhi himself had his eighty-fourth birthday in January. In Thailand life is counted in cycles and Siddhi has reached the grand Seventh Cycle. In celebration, H.M. the King. granted a private audience to him, his wife Thida and all their sons, daughters, and in-laws, for one and a half hours. "We felt so proud for the auspicious occasion. Last year we went to Changmai to make merits to the Forest Buddhist Monk Temple."
Khun Siddhi has made a very important contribution to Thailand himself, having served as Foreign Minister for many years, as Air Chief Marshal and his is still a valued Privy Councillor. So, our congratulations to him!