This is probably a good point to pause the Walmsley stories. Josh’s biography has come to an end. There is an up-dated version of the children of Joshua Walmsley posted fairly recently. If you haven’t seen it, it’s here. The only remaining thing to do is some faces to put to the names. By rights there should be at least one portrait of Adeline, and probably more of the girls, but they have yet to be unearthed.
This post seems to be getting rather more interest, and it is probably time to re-visit and revise it. It was published almost two years ago at the start of the whole thing. The original information came from a website called http://www.researchers.plus.com which is now, I think, rather moribund. Some of the information was a useful spur, some was a distraction, and some just needs more verification before it can be taken as solid fact. So this is a recent update and addition to the original from November 2016.
So lets start with some basics. Joshua Walmsley married Adeline Mulleneux at St. James’ church in Toxteth on the 24th June 1815, six days after the battle of Waterloo. They had eight children, five girls and three boys.
Elizabeth Walmsley b. 1817 – d. bef 1861
Joshua Walmsley II b. 1819 – d. 1872
Hugh Mulleneux Walmsley b. 1822 – d. 1881
Adeline Walmsley b 1824 – d. 1842 – died aged 18.
James Mulleneux Walmsley b. 1826 – d. 1867
Emily Walmsley b. 1830 – 1919
Mary Walmsley b. 1832 – d. bef.1851
Adah Walmsley b. 1839 – 1876
The eldest child, Elizabeth married Charles Binns (1815 – 1887) in 1839. Charles was the son of Jonathan Binns, a Liverpool-born land agent and surveyor living in Lancaster. The Binns were a fairly prominent Quaker family; Jonathan Binns was a Poor Law commissioner who did a survey of Ireland in 1835 and 1836 which was both insightful, and rather heart-breaking. His father Dr Jonathan Binns was an early slavery abolitionist, and later headmaster of the Quaker boarding school at Ackworth in Yorkshire. Charles was George Stephenson’s private secretary, and later manager of the coal mines and ironworks at Clay Cross, Derbyshire, which had been established by George Stephenson, and of which Sir Joshua Walmsley was a co-owner and director. The family connection with Clay Cross continued for almost a hundred years. Charles and Elizabeth had four children, all girls; but Elizabeth seems to have died in the early 1850s. Charles remarried in 1871, and died in 1887. Emily Rachel Binns, Elizabeth and Charles’s youngest daughter married Samuel Rickman. Her first cousin Adah Russell, the daughter of Adah Williams [neé Walmsley] had married Charles Russell who was a prominent London solicitor, the son of the Lord Chief Justice, and the brother and uncle of two more Law Lords.
Much less is known about Sir Joshua’s eldest son Joshua Walmsley II (1819-1872). He seems to have joined the Army, attaining the rank of captain. He lived in southern Africa for many years and served as a border agent in Natal on the Zulu frontier. He crops up as a peripheral character in some of the accounts of the British dealings with the Zulus, particularly the Battle of Ndondakasuka – 1856, and he employed a very strange man called John Dunn as a translator in his dealings with the Zulus. In the aftermath of the battle, the young Zulu King Cetshwayo was so impressed by the equally youthful John Dunn’s conduct in the midst of Zulu internecine clan bloodletting, that he invited the Scot [Dunn] to become his secretary and diplomatic adviser. Cetshwayo rewarded Dunn with traditional gifts of a chieftainship, land, cattle and two Zulu virgins to be his wives. This last gift greatly upset Catherine, Dunn’s 15-year-old mixed-race wife. But it did not deter him from taking at least another 46 Zulu wives. By some unofficial accounts, Dunn fathered 131 children by 65 wives, though his will records only 49 wives and 117 offspring. Catherine retained the title of “Great Wife”, giving her the privilege of being the only wife allowed to enter his presence unannounced. How, and why he [Joshua] went to South Africa is still unknown, but the Army, and then colonial service, was probably regarded as a step up from trade. It may well also have helped escape the shadow of his father.
He was buried at St Mary’s, Edge Hill [the same cemetery as his brothers, sisters, parents, and a large numbers of the Mulleneux family including his maternal grandparents] in Liverpool on 14th December 1872, having died at “Chantilly, Zulu Frontier, in South Africa” on 20th April the same year. He left his widow £2,000, so a fairly respectable amount of money.
Hugh Mulleneux Walmsley (1822-1882) also joined the Army. He served time with the 25th Bengal Native Infantry, and then volunteered to join the Bashi Bazouks, which was a semi-mercenary Ottoman force – the name literally translates as “crazy-heads”. The Bashi Bazouks mainly recruited Albanians, Bulgarians, and Kurds, and had a reputation for bravery, savagery and indiscipline. They weren’t salaried and relied on looting for pay. In due course he rose to the Ottoman rank of colonel, and described himself as such in the 1871 census ” Ret. Colonel Ottoman Ind. Corps, late 65th Foot [ie. a British regiment]”. So it doesn’t appear to be something he was ashamed of. On his return to England sometime in the 1850s he started to write. The books included several describing his own military service, a biography of his late father and also some adventure novels including The Ruined Cities of Zulu Land based on Josh junior’s travels. He married Angelina Skey (b 1826) in 1870 and moved to Hampshire close to his parents. He too was buried at St Mary’s, Edge Hill in Liverpool, along with large numbers of the family, on 12th December 1881. His burial record states he died at ” St. André “ in France, which could be any one of thirty-plus places.
The next child is another Adeline Walmsley (1824-1842), this is the second daughter born in 1824, in Liverpool. All the children are named either after their parents or grandparents, or other family members. Elizabeth is easy, named after both their mothers, this Adeline was named after her own mother. Joshua II, Hugh, and James are named after father, grandfather, and uncle respectively. There is very little to be known about this Adeline, she appears on the 1841 census when the family have moved out of Liverpool to Wavertree Hall, then in a country village outside the city. Her death is recorded in the autumn of 1842 in Staffordshire, just as the family had moved to Ranton Hall in Staffordshire
James Mulleneux Walmsley (1826-1867), by contrast to his brothers became a civil engineer.James aged 15 is shown at home at Wavertree Hall in 1841. In the 1851 census, he was lodging and working in Derbyshire. He was at Egstow House, very close to Clay Cross, suggesting he was involved with the family mining and ironworks business. His brother-in-law Charles Binns [Elizabeth’s husband] and family were already there living at Clay Cross Hall about a mile away. Ten years later, he is living with his parents, and two youngest sisters at Wolverton Park, in Hampshire. He died on December 6th, 1867 aged 41 and was buried on December 12th with his sisters [Adeline, and Mary] at St Mary’s, Edge Hill. He died in Torquay. James was unmarried, and his addresses for probate were given as 101 Westbourne Terrace, and also Wolverton Park, Hampshire, both his father’s houses, and “latterly of Torquay, Devon”. Probate was granted to his father’s executors because Sir Josh was the “Universal Legatee”. It wasn’t granted until 1874, about three years after Sir Josh’s death in 1871. James left a fairly respectable £2,000.
Emily (1830 -1919) the third daughter, in contrast to James lived until almost 90, and was a widow for almost forty years. She was the second wife of William Ballantyne Hodgson (1815-1880), who was a Scottish educational reformer and political economist, even though he spent more of his time working in England. In 1839, Hodgson was employed at the new Mechanics’ Institution (later Liverpool Institute) just before Sir Joshua became mayor, and went on to become its Principal. He married Emily in 1863 and they mostly lived in London till Hodgson was appointed the first Professor of Political Economy in Edinburgh University in 1871. After he died in 1880, Emily stayed on in Edinburgh with their children, it’s not entirely sure how many. The Dictionary of National Biography says two sons and two daughters, however I can only find Alexander Ireland Hodgson (1874-1958) and Lucy Walmsley Hodgson (1867-1931)
The youngest daughter Adah (b 1839) married a Welsh banker, William Williams, in 1866. They went to live in Merionethshire and had at least two daughters. Adah possibly died as early as 1876. Their daughter Adah Adeline Walmsley Williams (1867–1959) married Charles Russell in 1889. Charles Russell was a solicitor who worked for the Marquis of Queensbury during his libel case with Oscar Wilde. Charles Russell’s father was Lord Chief Justice between 1894 and 1900. The first Catholic to hold the office for centuries. Charles Russell was made a baronet in 1916, and then got the K.C.V.O in 1921, so I suppose that technically he was Sir Sir Charles, and Adah was Lady Russell twice over. Charles’ baronetcy was inherited by their nephew Alec Russell because he [Charles] had arranged a special remainder allowing it to be inherited by male heirs of his father. A nicely lawyerly touch given that he and Adah had a daughter, and by the time he was made a baronet it was extremely unlikely they would have a son. Adah was 49 at the time. But even better, because their daughter Monica married her cousin Alec, she, Monica, became Lady Russell as well because her husband inherited her father’s baronetcy
Gwendoline Walmsley Williams, her sister, married Denis Kane in 1897. He was an Army officer; the wedding was ” hastened owing to Mr. Kane’s being ordered to join his regiment at once in the Tirah Field Force on the Indian frontier. ” He survived that but died about a year later playing polo in India.
This painting is an autograph copy of the original painting entitled “The Honorable Mrs Charles Russell”, painted by Sargentin 1900, and is now in a Californian private collection. This copy was painted in 1908, and is in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.
The main reason for starting to work out who she was, came from Frank Purssell and Lily Kuyper’s wedding in June 1896. In the guests listed are Mr and Mrs Charles Russell, sandwiched between ” Mr. Everard Green,…. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Russell,…. Mr. Bradshaw Isherwood,”.
Everard Green was the Rouge Dragon Pursuivant in the College of Heralds 1893; and the Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries 1897. A convert to the Church, and one of the Catholic great and the good. Mr Bradshaw Isherwood was the uncle of Christopher Isherwood, the novelist and playwright. He was the elder brother and inherited the family estate at Marple Hall, near Stockport, eventually leaving the estate to Christopher. Henry Bradshaw-Isherwood married into the Bagshawes in about 1910 becoming the rather absurd Henry Bradshaw-Isherwood-Bradshawe on marriage.
So who were Mr and Mrs Charles Russell? They were guests at a grand society wedding, and a grand Catholic wedding at that. So working on that basis, and using our old friend the Catholic Who’s Who, the only realistic candidates are the Hon. Charles Russell (8 July 1863 – 27 March 1928) and his wife Adah Adeline Walmsley Russell, neé Adah Adeline Walmsley Williams (1867–1959). Charles Russell was a solicitor and local politician, and the second son of Charles Russell, Baron Russell of Killowen. His father received his peerage shortly before becoming Lord Chief Justice in 1894.
In 1896, Charles was still Mr Charles Russell, even if he was the Hon. Charles Russell from 1894, once his father had received his peerage. He was the second son, and third child of ten brothers and sisters. Rather neatly, five boys and five girls; at least three of the boys were lawyers, and Charles’s younger brother Frank became a Law Lord following in the footsteps of their father who was Lord Chief Justice, and he, in turn, was followed by his (Frank’s) son Charles who was made a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1975. All three took the same title of Baron Russell of Killowen.
So, Charles Russell was a successful lawyer in 1896, eventually receiving a baronetcy in 1916 when he became Sir Charles Russell. We’ll come back to him in another post
The next paragraph from the description of the picture on the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection website was slightly startling “Adah Adeline Russell, neé Adah Williams, was the granddaughter of Sir Joshua Walmsley, one of the founders of the London Daily News. In 1889 she married Sir Charles Russell, a union that produced a single daughter. Her husband was a solicitor, best known today as instructor for Lord Carson during the trial in which Carson successfully defended the marquis of Queensbury against the charges of libel brought by Oscar Wilde. The acquittal led to the writer’s own criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and early death in 1900, the year Mrs. Russell was painted.”
The Oscar Wilde bit’s interesting, but from my point of view the Joshua Walmsley bit was one of those weird coincidences that explode every so often. Is this the same Sir Joshua Walmsley we’ve come across before?
It is the same person, so we have, rather bizarrely, stumbled across a portrait of a first cousin [five times removed] whilst trying to work out who’s who at a great, great uncle’s wedding. Even better, and in an attempt to discover more about a one hundred and twenty year old wedding, we have the pleasing symmetry of this only being made possible by another wedding, sixty years later.
It worthwhile leaving the rest of the description from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection regarding the portrait, though I’m not entirely sure that I agree with all the phrasing………….
“John Singer Sargent first painted Mrs Charles Russell in 1900, exhibiting the portrait (San Francisco, California, Private Collection), among his eight entries at the Royal Academy the following year. He was at the apex of his career as a portrait painter, but would soon turn away from the profession, tiring of painting images of the fatuous elite. His portrait of Mrs. Russell, however, the critics quickly noticed, was a singularly haunting, introspective image, a portrait that provoke a number of unanswered questions. “What he tells us of this pathetic face is very interesting and very sad,” wrote one reviewer, while another observed that “the face is of extraordinary character, infinite pathos, and a masterpiece of painting […] the face haunts us, with its sad eyes and intellectual distress. Who shall read the secret so surely set there?” “
Little is known of the enigmatic sitter. Mrs. Russell, neé Adah Williams, was the granddaughter of Sir Joshua Walmsley, one of the founders of the London Daily News. In 1889 she married Sir Charles Russell, a union that produced a single daughter. Her husband was a solicitor, best known today as instructor for Lord Carson during the trial in which Carson successfully defended the marquis of Queensbury against the charges of libel brought by Oscar Wilde. The acquittal led to the writer’s own criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and early death in 1900, the year Mrs. Russell was painted.
Describing the painting in 1925, William Howe Downs wrote of the “nervous face, the long, slim neck, and the sensitive hands” as well as the sad eyes and mouth. The tense, nervous quality found in Mrs. Russell, recent scholarship has pointed out, is a salient feature in many of Sargent’s portraits. The perceptive critic, Royal Cortissoz, writing in 1924, considered it the very aspect that made Sargent “modern” and that it identified him with the spirit of his time. Each century, Cortissoz felt, had a prevailing impulse. While the mood of the 18th was “cerebral,” “nervous” was the quality of the 19th. “What Sargent has had to portray has been a restless race,” he wrote, “the conclusively representative Sargent in this matter of modernity is the alert ‘Mrs. Boit’ or the tense ‘Mrs. Charles Russell.”
Two drawings are known to exist which relate to the painting, one in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the other, in The Harvard University Art Museums. They capture the gesture of the sitter, but in each, the poignancy of Mrs. Russell’s features is only suggested. In the drawings, however, most noticeably in the Boston version, the hands assume a greater importance and reveal in a nervous fluttering of fingers, the apprehensive tenseness of Mrs. Russell.
The Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza 1908 replica of Mrs Charles Russell, painted at the very time Sargent abandoned his career as a portraitist, remains as puzzling as the sitter. No mention of it seem to have appeared in the Sargent literature. More vivaciously executed than the 1900 portrait, it nevertheless duplicates, almost stroke by stroke, Sargent’s handling in the earlier version. Only the lamp, which still remains in the artist’s family, is indicated in a more cursory manner. The signature, which has been questioned as unusual for the artist, is now placed below the ledge of the table rather than at the bottom left of the canvas-hardly typical in the work of a copyist. While few replicas of Sargent’s portraits exist, the artist twice painted Baron Russell of Killowen, Mrs. Russell’s father-in-law, in 1899 and a replica in 1900. The one clue to the painting’s significance, the inscription “Alice Copley, Boston” on the back of the canvas, has so far proven unproductive. “