A question that is frequently asked is, ‘are any of Dido Elizabeth Belle’s descendants still alive?’ The answer in short is no. Today, I thought it worth providing a somewhat lengthy, but nevertheless potted genealogy, to explain how her family line died out. Be prepared, it’s not always an easy read in parts. At the end is a family tree for reference.
We begin with the birth of her 3 boys. In 1795, Dido, by then simply known as Elizabeth, gave birth to twins, John and Charles Daviniere. Nothing is really known of what became of John, although it would appear that he died when relatively young, although exactly when remains unknown. It is now known that he was still alive after Dido’s death in 1804, but for how long we have no idea.
Their third child, William Thomas Daviniere, was baptised on 26 January 1800 at St George’s Hanover Square, London. His date of birth is less clear from the parish register, it was either 17 December 1799 or 17 January 1800*.
William Thomas and his family appear to have simply melted into history leaving little trace of their existence, with many places simply noting that William Thomas:
joined the East India Company, married a widow, Fanny Graham, and had a daughter, Emily. Emily died unmarried in 1870, several years after the death of her parents.
Was that the entirety of a life, just a couple of sentences to cover the lives of three people? Surely, there had to be a little more to the lives of Dido’s boys.
It is probably quite safe to assume that William would have undertaken his education with his older brother, Charles, at a school for young gentlemen in Pimlico, where they studied, amongst other subjects, mathematics. That would have William in good stead for his future employment. However, whilst evidence survives for Charles, no similar account has survived for William Thomas, but it’s unlikely that one son attended school and the other didn’t.
In 1811, Charles joined the East India Company and was sent to India as an ensign in the army. William Thomas would have been still living at the family home, 31 Edgware Road, London, with his father John, Jane Holland (his father’s new partner, as they didn’t marry until 1819), and his two half siblings, Edward and Lavinia.
Whilst still in India, in 1817, Charles achieved promotion to lieutenant, but it would be a further 10 years before he achieved further advancement. Unlike his grandfather, Sir John Lindsay, Charles didn’t achieve rapid promotion. It was the same year in which Lady Anne Murray, niece to Lord Mansfield died, leaving £50 to each of Dido’s boys.
On 16 December 1818, the day before his 19th birthday, William Thomas was appointed to the post of a writer, in the Bengal warehouse of the East India Company, in London. He remained in this post for just two years before transferring to the Tea warehouse on 5 January 1821.
In 1823, Thomas was also a beneficiary in another will. This time he was joint beneficiary with a George Bremner, the godson of a Mrs Susan Douse, nee Awood. Susan’s late husband was Thomas Douse, who had worked for Lord Mansfield at Kenwood House for a number of years.
Susan appears to have had little to leave, but what she did have was split between the two young men. William Thomas also received her books and a miniature portrait of the late Earl of Mansfield, who had died a few years prior to Williams’ birth, but Susan must have thought it important enough to leave it to him, perhaps as a reminder of his late mother and her connection to Lord Mansfield.
What this will tells us is that despite Dido’s death, at least one servant’s wife retained contact with one of Dido’s boys, but it’s curious that Susan left nothing for Charles. Perhaps this was either because he was in India and she didn’t think given how little she had, that it was not worthwhile, or maybe she was just closer to Dido’s youngest child. It has always struck me as curious that Dido wasn’t mentioned in either her father’s will or that of his wife, Lady Mary nor the will of 2nd Lord Mansfield, so it’s lovely to see that someone close to the family remembered her.
Three years later, on 20 August 1824, William Thomas progressed in his career and was appointed as an extra clerk in the auditor’s office. Then, just one year later, he applied for and achieved the vacant post of established clerk in the Accountant General’s Office. He took up this post on 10 August 1825, his skills having been assessed by an accountant, Daniel MacLaurin, as can be seen below. He clearly demonstrated that he was the ideal candidate.
83 Lombard Street
10 August 1825
These are to certify that I have carefully examined Mr W.T Daviniere as to his knowledge of book-keeping by double entry and have found him fully competent to explain and properly to state any question put to him upon that subject.
The company was owned by Duncan MacLaurin until his demise in December 1823, at which time his brother, Daniel, took the reins. There’s no explanation offered as to why MacLaurin made the assessment though.
In 1834 Charles returned from India for two years, perhaps on leave or possibly for health reasons. As to where he stayed in England remains unknown, but presumably at the family home.
There is an interesting baptismal entry for a William Charles Graham, on 25 July 1834 stating that his parents are William Thomas (gent.) and Fanny Matilda Graham of Regent Street. More about this curious entry later.
It was in 1836 that, whilst in England, Charles married Miss Hannah Nash, a young woman some 20 years his junior. The couple were married by licence at St Mary Abbot’s church, Kensington. Whilst it’s not been possible to ascertain anything further about Hannah’s background, her father, John Nash who was named on the marriage certificate, lived at 119 Crawford Street. Hannah appears to have been the youngest of 10 children.
The wedding was very much a family affair with Hannah’s brother Rev. George Edward Nash conducting ceremony, and, along with others, William Thomas was present. Following the marriage, the newlyweds returned to India, where Charles resumed his army post. Just over a year later, Charles and Hannah’s first child, Ada Hannah was born, but tragically she only survived for five months.
In September of 1837, William married Miss Fanny Graham, the daughter of the late William Graham of Portsmouth, about whom nothing seems to be known as yet. William Thomas’ half-brother, Edward, returned from Ducey, France, where the family were now living, to witness the marriage, along with Elizabeth Graham, one of Fanny’s’ sisters.
In 1838, Charles and Hannah had their second child, another girl, Lavinia Hannah, again, born in India, and the following year they produced a son, Charles George, both of whom we will return to later.
It would be a just a few months later, on 17 January 1840, whilst living at 25 North Bank, London that William and Fanny had their one and only acknowledged child, Emily Helen perhaps taking her middle name Helen, as a nod to her maternal aunt.
Their little family appeared together on the 1841 census. Living with them, apart from their daughter Emily, was another child, the William Charles Graham, previously mentioned. Sadly the 1841 census was fairly basic and provided little information about family relationships, so no clues there, annoyingly.
By the end of 1841, Charles, still in India, had eventually been promoted to Major, but was subsequently reported to have been an invalid and no longer on active duty. In 1845 he retired on health grounds from the army. The family returned to England and set up home at 2 Lansdowne Villas, Kensington, before moving around 1851 to number 5 and eventually settling at number 10 Lansdowne Road. It would appear that poor health had been an issue for much of his career.
By the 1851 census, there was no sign of the William Graham living with William and Fanny, so it has to be assumed that he had been sent off to school somewhere. Later that year, William Thomas applied for a passport, so presumably he was he planning a trip over to Ducey, France, to sort out the estate of his late step mother, Jane née Holland, who had died in March. His father, John Daviniere having died several years previously.
The following year a report was published by the Select Committee on Indian Territories which showed that William Thomas was earning a good salary in his role in the Accounts Branch. His annual salary was noted as being £600, which equates to around £50,000 in today’s money.
In April 1860 Charles’ son, Charles George, aged 20, had joined the Civil Service as a temporary clerk. It seems clear that he would follow in his uncle’s footsteps rather than joining the army as his father had done.
According to the 1861 census William Charles Graham had reappeared back at the home of William Thomas, as their nephew and was working as a commercial clerk. If William Charles was their nephew, then who and where were his parents? Fanny had two siblings, Elizabeth and Helen Graham, neither of whom married. Could one of them have been his mother, but was presented for baptism by Charles and Fanny using Fanny’s maiden name? A mystery which may well never be solved.
That year, William Thomas’ published salary, having worked for 41 years, had risen to £900 per annum with an associated pension of £800 per annum. This would have left William Thomas and his family quite comfortably off. It was during that year that William Thomas retired. They were living at 18 Blomfield Road, Paddington, along with their daughter, Emily and William Charles Graham. The family had two employees, Anne Hoare, their cook/domestic servant and Jemima Lock, housemaid.
In May 1862 William Thomas was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society. Perhaps on retirement he had found a very enjoyable pastime. From the very helpful RHS Library staff we now know that:
Members, or Fellows as they were officially known from 1809, had to be proposed by three or more Fellows, and elected by ballot; the membership fee on admission was five guineas, with annual supplements of two guineas (raised to three in 1818). A Fellow could make a single payment of twenty guineas (raised to thirty in 1818), thereby becoming a Life Fellow. Such fees could only be afforded by the well-to-do.
Sadly, they hold no further information about his membership, so whether he only remained a member for the one year, or until his death, the records don’t tell us.
In addition to his work and hobbies, this he was also the company secretary of the Hendre DDU Slate and Slab Quarry Company in Wales.
We know very little about William Thomas’s family’s social life apart from one small mention in the Brighton Gazette, 6 April 1865, which refers to fashionable arrivals. This would indicate that Fanny, Emily and William Charles Graham went off to Brighton without William Thomas. They stayed at the Cavendish Mansion, a boarding house on Cavendish Place run by divorcee Mrs Mary Ann Wrench and her partner Julia Hely.
William Thomas died on 10 September 1867. His death certificate gave cause of death as paralysis for 5 years, 2nd attack, 2 years and final attack 3 hours. The term paralysis could well have meant that he had suffered several strokes leading ultimately to his death. Present at his death and informant was not his wife, but William Charles Graham who was still living with the family at that time.
His death was followed just 18 months later by the death of his beloved wife, Fanny, the cause of death being attributed to ‘general decay commencing 5 years ago’ – a euphemism for old age, Fanny was 69. It sounds as if the couple suffered from poor health for the final years of their lives with no chance to enjoy their retirement.
William Thomas left a will in which he ensured that both his wife and daughter were provided for. Their ‘nephew’ William Charles Graham was provided for separately.
Tragically, their daughter Emily Helen, who inherited from her parents, was not to live much longer either and at the tender age of 30 died on 2 March 1870, whilst living at 13 Montpelier Road, Brighton where she was being cared for. The cause of death was given as a disease of the brain and extreme prostration. As Emily died intestate, her estate was administered by her uncle, Charles Daviniere.
Their nephew, if that’s what his relationship was to the family, William Charles Graham, a clerk, died a few weeks after Emily, on 10 September 1870 at the Middlesex hospital, exactly 3 years to the day after William Thomas died. Although not clear when he left the family home, he was living at 4 Upper Westbourne Terrace, Middlesex, until his demise. An inquest carried out by Edwin Lankster, determined the cause of death as being due to pneumonia, following an injury to his throat caused by a razor. His death was deemed to have been suicide, so it is highly unlikely that his true relationship to William Thomas Daviniere will never be known.
It makes you wonder what drove him to such an action. Was it that the rest of his family were dead, or had he found out that William and Fanny were his parents? Guesswork here, of course.
Clearly his demise was planned, as the day before his death he wrote his will, leaving it in part to his friend, Charles Davinier junior and also the Charles’ sister, Lavinia, along with the family servant, Anne Hoare, who had worked for Daviniere’s for a number of years and to his aunt Elizabeth who was living at 27 Thayer Street, Manchester Square, with her sister Helen, of whom he made no mention. Elizabeth died the following year and her sister Helen, was beneficiary of her will.
Therefore, within a three year period an entire branch of the Daviniere family was gone. That left just Dido’s son Charles, his wife Hannah and their 2 children, Charles George and Lavinia Hannah.
In the midst of all this grief, Charles’ son, Charles George Daviniere, married Helen Marion Parkinson on 30 August 1870. Helen was the daughter of dental surgeon, James Parkinson who hailed from a long line of dentist/surgeons of Racquet Court, Fleet Street. Helen joined him at his home, 22 Addison Road, Kensington. A little under a year later, the first of their children, Charles Lindsay Frederick was born, followed a year later by their first daughter, Marion Julia.
In January 1873, Dido’s eldest son, Charles died after a long suffered illness affecting his lungs, leaving his widow, Hannah to survive on an army pension of just £196 per annum along with Charles’ estate, as sole beneficiary, apart from a few small items such as his watch which went to his son.
In June 1874, Charles George and Helen had another daughter, Eva.
On 4 May 1875, Charles senior’s daughter, Lavinia Hannah married Dr James Dickson Steele, the prison doctor at HMP Woking. It’s lovely to note that his brother, William Johnstone Steele and wife, Catherine gave birth to a son about the same time, who they named James Dickson Daviniere Steele, an acknowledgement of his brother and soon to be sister-in-law. However, this joy was to have been very short lived as their son only survived just four months, dying on 22 August 1875.
In January 1876, Charles George and Helen produced another daughter, Maud Florence Mary. More tragedy was just around the corner for the family, when Charles George’s sister, Lavinia Hannah died on 20 February 1876 aged just 37 from myeloma and purpura. Her death took place just ten days before after her mother, Hannah, wrote her will, appointing her son, Charles George Daviniere and her nephew, Francis Charles Bescoby, the son of her sister, Charlotte, as her trustees. She couldn’t possibly have been aware of what was to come, but she never amended her will after the death of her daughter, so the estate went to her son in its entirety when she died on 14 November 1883.
In 1877, Charles George and Helen had a second son, Herbert Lionel, closely followed on 20 August 1878 by another son, Percy Angus. Sadly, shortly after his birth Herbert Lionel died.
In 1880, the couple had another daughter, Maud Florence Mary. By the 1881 census this ever growing family moved to possibly a larger property at 15 Norland Square, Kensington. Three years later another child was born, Glady Annette Louis. The name Louis was perhaps a nod to her great grandfather, Dido’s husband, John Louis Daviniere.
Their final child, yet another Charles, this one being Charles Crawford, was born on 19 October 1886.
In 1895, their eldest son, Charles Lindsay Fredrick, always referred to, at least by his siblings, as Lindsay, set sail for South Africa as a sergeant in the army. Whilst there, in 1911 he met and married Lilian Raddrock and the couple had Harold Charles Bertrand Daviniere in 1913 who was to become Dido’s last surviving descendant.
Charles George Daviniere died on 16 January 1899, aged 59 at 54 Lansdowne Road, formerly of Addison Road. His estate was left solely to his wife Hannah. Hannah then moved to 15 Ladbrooke Square, Kensington.
What became of Charles George and Helen’s other children?
Percy Angus attended St Paul’s School, London until 1892 and died unmarried in 1904, just before his 26th birthday, and almost 100 years after the death of Dido Elizabeth Belle. His death was registered by his mother, in London. The cause of death being phthisis (tuberculosis) and his estate such as it would have been, given his age, was left to his mother.
There is an entry for Percy Kelly’s Trade Directory 1904, the year he died, at Duxford, Cambridgeshire as what appears to be, the joint licensee of The Red Lion, Whittlesford Bridge, along with a Helmuth von Bühler, son of a captain of the German army. Despite this entry for The Red Lion, Percy was employed as a clerk in the Union Bank of Scotland, so it has to be assumed that he was in Cambridge briefly, perhaps somewhere to escape the smog of the city or perhaps he and Helmuth were business partners, since Helmut lived in nearby Norland Square.
In 1932, Charles George’s wife, Helen died. Their second daughter, Eva never married. Itt would appear that she had been a language teacher, but by 1939 she was a patient in St Bernard’s’ hospital, Southall, a psychiatric hospital, where she remained until her death in 1946, aged 72.
Marion Julia, their first daughter, never married. In her 40’s she became involved with the Church League for Women’s Suffrage. She died on 29 February 1940, aged 67 and left her estate to her siblings Maud, Gladys and Lindsay and also in trust for Lindsay’s son, Harold Charles.
It is known that Charles Crawford attended the Sir John Gresham Grammar School at Holt, Norfolk for a couple of years from 1901-1903. As to what occupation he followed after leaving school is still to be uncovered. He died, unmarried, in 1937. He had been living at 9 Inkerman Terrace, Kensington with his sister Marion Julia.
He left £50 to be split equally between his brother Charles Lindsay, but should he be dead prior to this it should go directly to his wife Lillian and their son Harold, split equally. To Harold he left and additional £50. To his sister, Florence, he left her 2 shares in Army and Navy Stores, plus his gold cufflinks and is small signet ring. To Marion, his large signet ring and pearl pin. To Maud his amethyst tie pin and onyx studs and buttons. To Gladys £100 a pair of cuff links and a small French clock. To her husband Charles Pletts £10 and his silver wine taster and silver wine strainer. Apart from a few gifts to friends, the remainder of his estate was to be sold and the money split between his siblings, with the exception of Eva. Her share was to be used by the trustees for her benefit, so we can only assume this was because she was deemed mentally incapacitated by this time.
Gladys Annette married an army officer, Charles Menham Pletts and died in 1958, but the couple had no children, so her line died out with her.
In 1911, Maud was working as a school matron at the South Acton Day Nursery which had opened in 1908 in the poorest part of Acton. The post of matron was funded by Norland who have very kindly confirmed that Maud began her training there in December 1895 and awarded the Norland Institute certificate on 9 December 1896, so they would have had a hand in appointing Maud to this post. By 1939 she was described as being a retired welfare worker and again, unmarried. Maud died in 1970 at Smiles Home for Invalid Ladies, Maybury Hill, Woking. Her will made provision for her nephew, Harold Charles and several cousins, who appear to be to have been related to her sister, Gladys’s husband side of the family.
Charles Lindsay’s son, Harold Charles Bertram Daviniere was in the army as a private, during WWII, and was a prisoner of war in Stalag 342, Lamsdorf, Poland from 1942.
After the war he returned to South Africa and married an Elma Beeton in 1949, in South Africa, where he worked as a motor mechanic and lived at 1 Doreen Court, 68 Garden Street, Rosettenville, Johannesburg. He left an estate worth 4,750 rand, which, at the time of writing this equates to about £250. He and his wife had no children. Elma died shortly after her husband.
Therefore, the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle began with her mother Maria Belle, a slave and ended on 17 February 1975 in South Africa, with Dido’s great-great-grandson a former prisoner of war.
If this piece whetted your appetite to find out more about Dido, you will find more articles here on All Things Georgian by clicking on this highlighted link.
This will be the last post until September as I’m taking a summer break, but I’ll return early September with more stories from the 18th century. Enjoy the summer everyone and stay safe.
City of Westminster Archives Centre; London, England; Westminster Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: CCDS/PR/3/4
University of London; London, England; The East India Register and Directory for 1826 Mason, A.W. and Brown, G.H.; Reference Number: Rb1696511 1826
Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 11; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1665
London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; London Church of England Parish Registers; Reference Number: P89/MRY1/035
London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; London Church of England Parish Registers; Reference Number: P89/CTC/064
London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; London Church of England Parish Registers; Reference Number: P89/MRY1/101
London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; London Church of England Parish Registers; Reference Number: P89/CTC/049
Class: HO107; Piece: 678; Book: 2; Civil Parish: St Marylebone; County: Middlesex; Enumeration District: 2; Folio: 12; Page: 18; Line: 12; GSU roll: 438794
Class: HO107; Piece: 1491; Folio: 546; Page: 29; GSU roll: 87819-87820
Class: HO107; Piece: 1468; Folio: 791; Page: 53; GSU roll: 87790-87791
Class: RG 9; Piece: 14; Folio: 156; Page: 22; GSU roll: 542556
Class: RG 9; Piece: 5; Folio: 66; Page: 7; GSU roll: 542554
London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: DL/T/041/038
London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: DL/T/041/035
1871 England Census; Class: RG10; Piece: 38; Folio: 46; Page: 5; GSU roll: 838761
London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: DL/T/041/037
Deceased Online; United Kingdom; Deceased Online Burial Indexes (Emily Helen Daviniere)
London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: DL/T/041/038
* Etienne Daly is of the opinion that William Thomas was born on 17 December 1800 as noted on his grave and that the baptism record of 26 January 1800 must therefore be incorrect, this would mean that William Thomas couldn’t have been baptised in January 1800 and that the date of birth on his gravestone must be the correct one. His death certificate, however, confirms his age at death as 67 i.e. born either at the end of 1799 or the beginning of 1800. He also notes that William Thomas was baptised on 26 January 1802, although there is no supporting evidence for this in the baptism registers. The census returns give his estimated age as – 40 in 1841, 50 in 1851 and 60 in 1861, so it leave a slight mystery as to which information was correct.