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Friday, February 13, 2009

Louise Heilgers

For our third episode of "Mysterious Tales of Romance Writers" we present...

Louise Heilgers. Again, I have to thank John Herrington for getting this one started, as it was he who did the initial research.

"According to the 1911 census, this seems to be Louise Helene Henrieth Heilgers, aged 28 and described as an author, living with her mother in Fulham," says John. "I found her birth on FreeBMD which is 1882 and lists her as Louise Henriette Heilgers. I assume Henriette is correct—I haven't subscribed so cannot see original document. She married in 1919—as Louise H. H. Heilgers. But the groom is odd: he is listed as both Charles Hosken and Charles Granville. Also a Louise Heilgers is born in Fulham in 1913—mother's maiden name given as Heilgers. Since Louise Heilgers was in Fulham in 1911, seems likely this is her child."

Potentially there's lots of fun to be had here.

First thing that strikes me is that Heilgers is a very uncommon name and a quick dig around the internet showed that one Frederick William Heilgers ran a successful shipping business between London, Calcutta and Australia. They get a brief mention in Montague Massey's Recollections of Calcutta for over Half a Century...
F.W. Heilgers & Co., in the far distant past, were known as Wattenbach Heilgers & Co. When I first remember them they had their offices in an old building occupying the site of Balmer Lawrie & Co's handsome new premises, after which they removed to 136, Canning Street, where they remained for a very great number of years, until the Chartered Bank of India, etc., built their present offices when they took over and rented the whole of the second floor.
In the 1850s, Wattenbach, Heilgers & Co. commissioned Rickmers to build three cargo ships, the Winterthur (1853), Ida Ziegler (1854) and Augustus Wattenbach (1855). They also had interests in jute mills in Calcutta. Augustus Wattenbach eventually left the partnership in 1872. Frederick William Heilgers also became a director of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and Chine.

When Frederick William Heilgers died on 15 February 1885, he left over £100,000. The company then passed to William Heilgers and Robert Philip Heilgers who had previously been partners in F. W. Heilgers & Co. The business was subsequently taken over by Alexander Frederick Heilgers, who later became sole head of the firm when Robert Philip Heilgers (c.1855-1922) retired in April 1894. It would appear that the Heilgers family's last connection with the firm ended in 1917 when Frank Julius Frederick Alexander Heilgers (at the time a Lieutenant in the army) ended his part in the partnership that ran the firms based in Calcutta and London.

The one easily noticeable thing about Louise Heilgers is that she doesn't seem to appear in any of the UK census records until 1911. Indeed, the Heilgers' barely appear on any of the census returns. To take a quick sampling in the 1881 census we find only two families:

Elm Lodge, Champion Hill, Lambeth
J. H. [actually F. W.] Heilgers (head; 67) b. Germany
Helene Heilgers (wife; 51) b. Germany
A. F. Heilgers (son; 13) b. Lambeth, Surrey
L. L. [actually F. F.] Heilgers (son; 12) b. Lambeth, Surrey

5 The Terrace, Champion Hill, Camberwell
Robert P. Heilgers (head; 26) b. Camberwell, Surrey
Louise Heilgers (wife; 21) b. Marseilles, France

In 1871, Robert can be found as a scholar at Brighton College and, in 1891, Helene Heilgers is widowed but still living in Camberwell. But other than that, no more Heilgers. It seems almost certain that they must have spent much of their time abroad, almost certainly in India

Frederick William Heilgers (c.1815-1885) and his wife Helene Amalie Gesina Heilgers (c.1829-1894) had a son, Adolphus Augustus William Heilgers, born 19 Nov. 1848 in Calcutta, India. At least three more followed:
  • Walter Leopold Heilgers (born ?. Died Shanklin, Isle of Wight, 9 Sept. 1856.)
  • Alexander Frederick Heilgers (born 8 Sept. 1867. Married 1891. Died 1905, aged 37.)
  • Frank Fehrman Heilgers (born 26 March 1869. He died of typhoid fever at Cannes on 2 April 1890, aged 21.)
A daughter was still born on 31 Dec. 1870. It would appear that the family continued to expand, although I've not been able to confirm the parentage of the following births, all of which were recorded in Camberwell:
  • Frederick William Heilgers (1879)
  • Elizabeth Helene L. Heilgers (1881)
  • Louise Henriette Heilgers (1882)
  • Helena Lisette F. Heilgers (1884)
The family tree is further complicated at a later date, especially shortly after the First World War when, with feelings running high against Germans, a number of people with the surname Heilgers began changing their names by deed. A few I have been able to trace are: Gladys Verena Louisa Heilgers changed her name to Hillyers in 1917; Reginald Fehrmann Heilgers changed his name to Hillyers in 1918; Frederick William Heilgers changed his name to Hillyers in 1919; and Norah Heilgers changed her name to Chater in 1924.

Even so, for such a large family with important business connections, the Heilgers seem to have left remarkably little trace of themselves across the internet. Robert Heilgers was a consul in Calcutta from around 1885 (although would appear to have later been sued by Henry William Crane, a publisher, in 1896; his address at that time was formerly 24 St. James's-square, London, but his "present residence the Judgment Creditor is unable to ascertain"). I don't know if this is Robert Phillip Heilgers.

Let's get back to Louise Helene Henrietta Heilgers, because I'm likely to be going off at another tangent in the not too distant future. As was previously mentioned, she does not show up on census records until 1911, so confirming her family background is almost impossible. However, is has now been confirmed that she was the daughter of Robert Philip Heilgers (1855-1922) and his French-born wife Josephine Louise (nee Bertrand, 1860-1935).

Louise Heilgers was a popular author, contributing stories and articles to Punch, The Bystander, Sketch, Blue Magazine, Novel Magazine, Eve, Royal Magazine, and others. She was a contributor to the Sunday Herald, where she published a series of war stories that, I believe, were reprinted as Somewhere in France. Her earlier collection, Tabloid Tales, was favourably reviewed in The Equinox (v1 #8):
To quote the preface of Horatio Bottomley, "Louise Heilgers is the only female writer of short stories of the present day." She is in truth one of the ten million, her heart is their heart, her mind is their mind, and consequently her thoughts are thier thoughts. She will soon be acclaimed as a popular author. It is refreshing indeed to find somebody writing direct from the heart without in any way striving after originality. Excepting as to their length, these stories do not in any manner resemble those of Baudelaire.

Novels & Collections
Stephen the Man (as Henrietta Heilgers). London, John Long, 1909.
Vain Tales from "Vanity Fair". London, John Ouseley, 1909.
Tabloid Tales. London, 1911.
The Naked Soul. Three years in a woman's life. London, Stephen Swift & Co., 1912.
More Tabloid Tales. London, Odhams Press, 1914.
Rose and Grey. A further collection of short stories. London, Dryden Press, 1914.
Somewhere in France. Stories of the Great War. London, Dryden Publishing Co., 1915.
Babette Wonders Why. London, Dryden Publishing Co., 1916.
Sackcloth and Satin. London, Dryden Publishing Co., 1916.
That Red-Headed Girl. London, Herbert Jenkins, 1917.
Further Tabloid Tales. London, Dryden Publishing Co., 1918.
An Officer's Wife. London, Herbert Jenkins, 1918.
The Green Heart. London, Odhams Press, 1921.
Love and Life. London, Cecil Palmer, 1922.
The Humming-Top. London, John Long, 1927.
The Dark Lamp. London, John Long, 1927.

How to Write Stories for Money. Richmond, Louise Heilgers Correspondence College, 1920.

The latter non-fiction title was the result of another string Louise Heilgers added to her bow. The Louise Heilgers Correspondence College Ltd. was based at Parkshot House, Richmond, Surrey and advertised in various newspapers. The following adverts from 1921 is typical:
LEARN WHILE YOU PLAY.—One 5s. P.O. will bring you "STORYTELLING" designed by Louise Heilgers, which is two things in one. (1) The most amusing of indoor games. (2) The finest lessons ever given in story-telling, and worth guineas to you. £105 are offered to players of "Storytelling." Conditions of the Competition are sent with every set. Send your 5s. Order to-day.—The LOUISE HEILGERS CORRESPONDENCE COLLEGE Ltd., Richmond, Surrey.
The company went into voluntary liquidation and began winding up in January 1922 and was eventually struck off the company's register in March 1925. Not that the closure of the Correspondence College stopped Heilgers as she continued to advertise herself in newspapers (e.g. The Times, 1 February 1923):
ADD to INCOME by writing for the Press and Magazines. Personal tuition by Louise Heilgers. Apply L.H.C.C. Ltd., 7 Parkshot, Richmond, Surrey.
The L.H.C.C. also published its own magazine: The Louise Heilgers Magazine ran for six issues between September 1920 and February 1921 before being relaunched as The Writer in March 1921, although with issue 5 it was taken over and published by Hutchinson & Co. in London.

Louise Heilgers was chairman of the L.H.C.C. under her married name of Louise Granville, which is where a twist is added to our story. In May 1919, Mrs. Charlotte Mary Hosken sued for a divorce from her husband, journalist Charles Hosken, on the grounds of his desertion and adultery with Louise Heilgers. Hosken was also known as Charles Granville, under which name he had written a number of novels.

Charlotte Mary Hosken (nee Taylor) had married Charles Hosken at Helston Parish Church, Cornwall, on 5 October 1892 and the couple had one child, a boy, who was killed in action in 1917. She had lived with her husband after marriage in Cornwall and various places abroad. In 1907, when they were in Germany, he had deserted her and had, she said, never since contributed to her support.

Charlotte had been living in Brussels in 1915 at the time of the German occupation and had escaped to England early that year to find that her husband was living in Hurlingham Court Mansions, Fulham, with Louise Heilgers. Mrs. Hosken only sued for divorce four years later when she produced a certificate recording the birth of twin daughters on 28 February 1918 (Elizabeth M. Granville and Mary D. L. Granville, born in Fulham) on which the father's name was given as Charles Granville. The two were living together as man and wife—the mother's name given as Louise Helen Henriette Granville. Although not mentioned, a daughter, Dorothy E. L. D. Heilgers, had been born in 2Q 1913, although her birth was not registered until 3Q 1915; the birth was cross-referenced under both Heilgers and Granville.

Not surprisingly, the judge granted Charlotte Mary Hosken a decree nisi, with costs.

This was not the first time that Hosken had been in court over his marriage. Or, rather, marriages, because he was a serial bigamist.

The story starts in 1912 when an author and publisher by the name of Charles Granville, of Waltham House, Epsom, was charged on remand at Bow Street with fraudulently converting to his own use the proceeds of a cheque for £1,500 entrusted to him by Mr. Richard Johnson Walker, editor and proprietor of the Oxford and Cambridge Review. In early 1912, Walker became acquainted with Granville through his connections with Stephen Swift Company Ltd. and agreed to buy 3,000 £1 shares in a new company that was being formed, Swift Press Ltd. The first half of the transaction went through without any problems in early September and the company was duly registered on 30 September. On that day, Walker gave Granville a cheque for the second half of the money due, which Granville promptly paid into his own account.

The following morning, he withdrew £1,400 in cash. On 2 October, Granville departed from the Hotel Victoria, where he had been staying since 10 August, and—accompanied by a lady who was purportedly his wife—fled abroad. In Spain he had taken the name of Godwin and had travelled to Tangier where he was eventually arrested on 28 October; £1,200 was recovered. Granville's own private accounts on 30 September was overdrawn to the extent of £677 19s. 11d. and £163 11s. 5d. and that of Stephen Swift & Co. overdrawn by £1,309 5s. 9d. The cheque Granville paid his hotel bill with bounced.

By now it was known that "Charles Granville" was actually an author and publisher by the name of Charles Hosken, who had been in bankruptcy since 2 May 1898 and had never secured a discharge. A number of further outstanding warrants were added to the charges against Hosken: of obtaining £20 by false pretences from Emily Esther Parker at Porchester Square, Paddington on 7 November 1905; of feloniously intermarrying Mrs. Parker at Paddington Registry Office on 18 November 1905; and of feloniously intermarrying Mrs. Caroline Leontine Fawcett at Edinburgh on 3 November 1908. His lawful wife, Charlotte Mary Hosken, as we have seen, was very much still alive and remained with him until he "deserted" her in 1907 (although, as we shall see, he continued to forward money to her until at least 1912; how aware Mrs. Hosken was of her husband's activities we will never know).

Between December 1904 and November 1905, Charles and Charlotte Hosken had been living in lodgings at Seymour Place; after some time their son, aged 10 or 11, joined them. The couple left without notice, owing the landlady, Mrs. Ada Elizabeth Carter, £15. She had been told by Hosken that he was a clerk in a solicitor's office in Westminster. However, under the name Henry Charos James, Hosken was the principal of the Rapid Language College in Great Quebec Street. It was here that the recently widowed Mrs. Parker came to learn French. She had a few resident pupils at her house in Porchester Square and "James" suggested that they should combine their businesses. James proposed marriage and subsequently began borrowing sums of money; she also paid the license fees for their marriage. The marriage took place on 18 November 1905, after which "James" went to lie down; around 2 o'clock that afternoon, he borrowed 10s. from his new wife, left the house and did not return. The newly married "Mrs. James" then visited the lodging house where Hosken was living, but saw no one except the woman she now knew to be Mrs. Hosken.

Hosken subsequently, as Charles Granville, litterateur and widower, married Mrs. Caroline Leontine Fawcett at Portobello near Edinburgh. The new Mrs. Granville claimed that her husband was devoted to literature and the best man that anybody could wish to know; she had been uncertain about marriage but had been persuaded by her parents after she had announced that she intended living with "Granville". She had lived with him until August 1912 and would stick by him; indeed, she had posted bail for him when he was brought back from Tangier. Since 1908, she had advanced him some £3,000 for his business and, she said, she would have given him as much as he liked to ask for if she had it.

The real Mrs. Hosken, meanwhile, had last been seen by her father in February 1912 and he understood her to be "somewhere on the Continent" and making a living by giving lessons in English. According to her letters, Hosken was providing her with money.

The various cases dragged on and yet another indictment was added, charging Hosken with obtaining £2,000 from actor, journalist and playwright Mr. Joseph Edward Harold Terry by false pretences. The case was livened up one day in early July when an elderly spectator inadvertently wandered into the jury box when trying to find his seat, leading one of the prosecuting councils to joke that "The 13th juryman is on the Bench I always understood." "I hope not," replied one of the councils for the defence.

Eventually, on Friday, 4 July 1913, the trial ended. Hosken was found guilty on all charges. He was sentenced to six months hard labour, both sentences to run concurrently, on the bigamy charges; on the other charges he was sentenced to fifteen months hard labour, the whole of the sentences to run concurrently.

The birth of Dorothy E. L. D. Heilgers shortly before Hosken was sentenced suggests strongly that the "young lady" with whom Hosken (as Granville and then Godwin) had fled to Tangier was, in fact, Louise Heilgers and that the two had been living together as Mr. and Mrs. Granville at least as early as 1912.

Their relationship continued after Hosken was released from jail. The two married in 1919 and, with Louise Granville as chairman, the Louise Heilgers Correspondence College was set up. The company was registered on 14 September 1920 and, as previously mentioned, began winding up in January 1922. A new company, Louise Heilgers Correspondence Courses Ltd. was registered on 1 February 1922.

Louise Granville eventually petitioned for a divorce from Charles Granville in 1928. She was still only about 46 but vanishes from the literary world as far as I can see.

Louise Granville died on 28 October 1954 in Eastborne, her death registered as Louise Granville, with no middle initials, hence earlier problems tracing her death. Her age was given as 61, but probate records confirm it is Louise Helen (sic) Henriette Granville. She was actually 71. A Dorothy E. Granville married in 2Q 1930 to a Mr. Smith in Hackney and Mary died, unmarried, in 1992, aged 74.

Charles Hosken, born in Helston, Cornwall, in 1867, the son of William H. Hosken (an iron founder) and his wife Martha, also disappeared. Mind you, with so many different aliases that might be no surprise. From the 1890s on he was most commonly known as Charles Granville. It was under this name that shipping records noted his return from Gibraltar to London on 7 December 1912 in the custody of Detective Sergeant Cole and Detective Crawley.

Granville was a contributor to such magazines as Western Review and New Age and his novels were, in their time, well regarded. I rather think that one title—The Indissoluble Knot—rather summed up his life.


Richard said...

What great detail, and a very interesting name - extremely unusual surname.
Why not add it too my Rare Names Index?

Robert D said...

I was very interested, very being an understatement,to find this most informative article. I have spent years on Internet trying to find out more about my ancestors, even going to Calcutta two years ago and to Darjeeling. I found both the Original Offices of FW Heilgers and the tea estate in Darjeeling where the family repaired to during the summer.
My Maternal Grandmother was Henrietta Frederica Indiana Heilgers, daughter of Robert Heilgers. She was born in India and baptised in the garrison chapel in Calcutta. Because of Indian bureaucracy, born of the Raj, I suspect, I was unable to view the registar or obtain a copy.
My Grandmother was I suppose what we would call today 'eccentric' but she was wonderful to me and my elder brother Ian Alfred [we have not spoken for 20 years or so]Now that they are all dead I understand the reason My Mother Rosemary Jeanette Heilgers was born as a result of an affair that my Grandmother had with a ' Mr Edwards' a wealthy Newspaper owner, editor of the Daily Mirror [I think]I know he was a race horse owner and owned the Derby Winner Signoretto. Unfortunately none of this was ever discussed but much of it was verified in a bundle of documents kept in a black briefcase by my Grandmother. I can remember seing a huge vellum document appointing her Father Robert F Heilgers as consul to the Austro/Hungarian Empire in Calcutta.
Personally I have always longed to find out more, but as the article says the 'Heilgers name is very rare and hard to resource.' I also was surprised to see thatMy Grandmother and mother retained the name through 2 world wars. Naturally I could go on and on but would love to know of any further connections to my family history, I am a pensioner with litle resources now but do have a real interest in this name.
Dr. Robert Douglas Moore
Robert for my Great Great Grandfather, Douglas for my father Douglas William Moore.

kd said...

Steve ... Wonderful detailing and great find. Thanks! Had always wanted to know more and this is fabulous.
Robert ... Thanks for your insights. I actually grew up in one of the Heilgers jute mills on the banks of the Hoogly. One of the largest and most beautiful of places. But now in great ruin! A sincere thanks to your forefathers for having given me and many others a wonderful carefree childhood years after they had constructed the place.

Anonymous said...

Louise Henrietta Heilgers was my great aunt, sister of Sona Heilgers who was my paternal grandmother. She and Louise appear in 1901 census, living with their parents Robert and Louise, both girls born in Calcutta. This fits with Robert Heilgers being in Calcutta in 1885 - I think this is Louise's birthyear not 1882. She appears as Henrietta living with her parents at 62 Perham Road aged 25, single, novelist, in 1911 census.

More colourful history. Sona was married to David Ramsay and had 3 sons. In 1927 she was murdered by her lover who then committed suicide - a cause celebre at the time as reported in the Times and the Sydney Morning Herald in June 2-4. Murder at the Magic Lantern cafe in Broadstairs.

My father, Robert David Gordon was only 12 at the time and Grandmother Heilgers appears as witness in the court case regarding her daughter Sona's death. He told me of Louise as a famous novelist of her day who went off with some 'cad' As you can imagine the family closed ranks and never talked about any of this.

I am fascinated to see how rich the Heilgers were. Sona was married to an invalid, my grandfather who was a war veteran and ran a cafe presumably to make ends meet. Her mother was helping her certainly up till her death in 1927. Hope somebody else comes up with more pieces of the jigsaw. Victoria Joyce

Steve said...

Hi Victoria,

Fascinating facts... and what a tragic end for Louise's sister! Since the piece was written in February 2009, quite a few more records have appeared online so I will have to revisit my research when I get the chance and see if I can give the posting an overhaul, weeding out some of the speculation.

If you have any more jigsaw pieces you care to share, please do get in touch - my direct e-mail address appears below the photo, top left.

Tina Joyce said...

Thank you for this fascinating story! I have been helping Victoria (a/a) to rsearch her family history, in particular her grandmother, Sona HEILGERS, who died such a tragic death.

I have found one more reference to Louise in the London Gazette in 1933, when, as debtor, she filed for bankruptcy. Like her sister she had become a café propietor, running cafés in both Ilkley and Harrogate, Yorkshire and had then moved to Bradford.

I am stuggling to find anything for her after that, and have found nothing conclusive for her children, nor for Charles after 1929.


London Gazette Issue 34011, 2 January 1934:

GRANVILLE, Louise Helen Henrietta (feme Sole), 128 Manningham lane in the city of Bradford, lately residing and carrying on business at 17 The Grove, Ilkley, in the county of York and Montpelier Parade, Harrogate in the county or York. CAFE PROPRIETOR.
Court: LEEDS.
Date of Filing Petition - Dec 29 1933
No. of Matter - 111 of 1933
Date of Recieving Order - Dec 29 1933
No. of Recieving Order - 99
Whether Debtor's or Creditor's Petition - Debtor's


Out of interest, Charles Hosken's son was Basil Raymond N Hosken aka Granville, 1904 - 1917. He was living with his aunt and uncle in Bristol in 1901, and later assumed the surname, Granville.

Charles claimed his son's Victory Medal in 1929, his address given as Parkshot House, Richmond. CHarles was also mentioned in his son's probate record in 1917, address at that time 3 Hurlingham Court Mansions, Fulham.

Another note of interest is the "Mr Edwards" mentioned in the comments above by Henrietta's grandson.

The owner of the winning horse of the 1908 Epsom Derby, Signoretto, was one Eduardo (aka Edward) GINISTRELLI, the son of the Newmarket racehorse owner, Chevalin GINISTRELLI, an Italian, born in Naples.

Eduardo's mother was French, he himself was born c1888 in Paris and educated in England. Shipping records in 1919 note his occupation as "Law Student". I haven't been able to confirm as yet a newspaper connection.

Finally, the eldest sister of Robert Heilger's four daughters, Elizabeth Helen Louise HEILGERS, who was also a writer, married Stafford Henry NORTHCOTE in 1907.

She had 3 children, the youngest in 1912, and she died at the age of only 32 in 1914.

I hope this is of some interest!


Tina Joyce said...

Just a couple more points to clarify:

Robert and Josephine (aka Louise, née BERTRAND) HEILGERS had four daughters:

Elizabeth Helen Louise HEILGERS, born c1881 in Camberwell, christened on 20 Nov 1881 at Saint Paul, Herne Hill, Camberwell. Died 1914. (My apologies - it was Louise and Henrietta who were both writers, and not Elizabeth).

Louise Helene Henriette HEILGERS was the second of the four daughters. She was born in Denmark Hill c1882 and christened 7 January 1883 at Saint Paul, Herne Hill, Camberwell.

In 1901 she is recorded in the census as "Hellen" along with her parents and 3 sisters, Elizabeth, Henrietta and Sona.

In 1911 she is living in Fulham with her sister Elizabeth who is now married to Stafford Henry Northcote.

Henrietta came next - born January 1885 in Calcutta, in 1911 it was she who was living with her parents at 62 Perham Road, Fulham, her occupation was Novellist / Jornalist.

Finally Sona was the youngest, born on 16 December 1890 and chrstened on the 10 January 1891, also in Calcutta and died in 1927 in Broadstairs.

Also of note:

The girls' first cousin, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Frederick Alexander HEILGERS 1892 - 1944 was a Conservative MP and was killed in the Ilford Rail Crash in 1944.

Frank was the son of Robert's brother, Alexander Frederick HEILGERS 1867 - 1905.

Robert D said...

You are a genius!! How you ever gleaned all this information I will never understand.

Couple of points due to this 'Bear Alley' blog I am now in touch with two other Heilgers family members, thank you Steve.

One BIG thing I do not understand. How and when did they obtain British Citizenship.

When I was in Calcutta I heard from a very elderly Indian gent that the family were in trouble in 1914 because they had allowed one of their ships to take a cargo of coal from one of the Heilgers coal mines to the Keisers Navy in Swarkopmund which was then German South West Africa.

They really were an extraordinary bunch and it seems that at e very turn there was more intrigue and mystery. Neither my Mother, Rosemary nor my Grand Mother would ever talk about 'The Family'.

One other little piece of information about My Grand Mother, was that apart from being a journalist and an author she also wrote verse for greetings cards and worked for the famous Raphael Tuck company.

She also ran away to work as a voluntary nurse for the Red Cross in France during 1914-15 and she kept many post cards from her patients many of whom were from the Moroccan Regiment of the French Army.

Thanks to all for continuing to unravel the Heilgers Mystery!!!

Robert Moore

Robert D said...

You are a genius!! How you ever gleaned all this information I will never understand.

Couple of points due to this 'Bear Alley' blog I am now in touch with two other Heilgers family members, thank you Steve.

One BIG thing I do not understand. How and when did they obtain British Citizenship.

When I was in Calcutta I heard from a very elderly Indian gent that the family were in trouble in 1914 because they had allowed one of their ships to take a cargo of coal from one of the Heilgers coal mines to the Keisers Navy in Swarkopmund which was then German South West Africa.

They really were an extraordinary bunch and it seems that at e very turn there was more intrigue and mystery. Neither my Mother, Rosemary nor my Grand Mother would ever talk about 'The Family'.

One other little piece of information about My Grand Mother, was that apart from being a journalist and an author she also wrote verse for greetings cards and worked for the famous Raphael Tuck company.

She also ran away to work as a voluntary nurse for the Red Cross in France during 1914-15 and she kept many post cards from her patients many of whom were from the Moroccan Regiment of the French Army.

Thanks to all for continuing to unravel the Heilgers Mystery!!!

Robert Moore

Lawrence Dreadon said...

Thanks for the wonderful story - and I can add a little to the background of Charles Hosken as he descends from my own family, the Drydens of Northamptonshire & Cornwall. His brother was James Dryden Hosken, a "minor" English Poet who visited Australia in 1912 and gets a mention there as an Australian Poet.
The Hoskens boys' father was William Henry Hoskin of Helston Cornwall, probably a Blacksmith as many of his wife's family were. William's wife was Martha Dreadon - a variant spelling of Dryden, and the reason for the "Dryden" publishing company name, as mentioned in your article.
The Dryden family has a history of literary connections going back several centuries to John Dryden the Poet Laureate (1631-1700) and his cousin Jonathan Swift author of Gulliver's Travels, who no doubt would appreciate this surreal story too.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I can shed a little more light on the Heilgers least on the four daughters of Robert Philip Heilgers. There were four daughters: 1..Elizabeth (known to the family as "Elsie",) who married Stafford Northcote, had at least one daughter, Joy, who lived in Lower Kingswood Surrey and who died tragically young of TB.
2..Louise,( known to the family as "Loulie", whose chequered career is set out in detail above,
3.. Henrietta Frederica Indiana, (known to the family as "Popsy".. who was my grandmother and
4. Sona, who was tragically killed.

My mother, Rosemary Heilgers, had a very unhappy marriage to my father...nowadays the amount of physical, mental and emotional abuse that she suffered would not be tolerated...I mention this because, to extricate me from the often violent situation she left me in the care of her mother, Henrietta, who spoke to me extensively of the family history. Consequently I am able to add to what is known, although, at the age of 7 to 13, it can be imagined that some of it went over my head.
But I do remember hearing of the sad death of the eldest sister and the sensational death of the youngest sister. My mother, too, spoke about her aunt's murder, something unusual because, as my brother noted above, she was usually completely unwilling to talk of family history. I think she found it shameful. However, my mother was close to Sona's younger sons and remained in contact with them until John's death in New Zealand and her own death in 1999.

A lot of confusion on the internet has arisen because Louise had the name Henriette as a second name and my grandmother was Henrietta, and both had writing ambitions, although it is only fair to say that Louise enjoyed considerably more success.
My grandmother lived a life of considerable privilege. She never really worked in the modern sense of the word, but lived on a very generous "allowance" from her millionaire first cousin, the MP Colonel Frank Heilgers. I well remember the day of his death in the train grandmother was DISTRAUGHT! She became increasingly emotionally unstable, vacillating between living in the Channel Islands (on Sark...she claimed the Dame of Sark as a personal friend) in Clovelly Cornwall, and in various Kensington apartments..all rented.She also vacillated between being a sad recluse, receiving only myself, my brother and mother,and enormous bursts of energy when she would embark on efforts to trace family members, often taking me with her. I sometimes, even at the age of 9 or 10, realised that she was often FAR FROM WELCOME!!!
I recall strained visits to her niece, Joy, to "Aunt Sophie" Frank's mother, a ghastly old woman who lived out her remaining years in her huge estate Wyken Hall in Suffolk and then she was always planning to visit Harrogate to search for her long-lost sister Loulie, and then changing her mind at the last minute, sometimes even after buying the train tickets!! But then she told me a great deal about her sister...mainly about the totally evil man she was involved with...Charles Granville.
My grandmother said she had broken with her sister over her treatment of their mother, who was living in very reduced circumstances in Adelaide Road, Hampstead. (My mother, unusually, corroborated this.) Louise had three daughters, Dorothy, and twins, Elizabeth (known as Betty), and Mary. I never did make their acquaintance.

Ian M

Anonymous said...

I further recall frequent visits to an elderly lady, Gladys Sington, invariably known as "Sington" who lived in some style in a large Hampstead mansion with her kindly but slightly eccentric housekeeper, Minnie.
My grandmother seemed to share a sort of friendly rivalry with "Sington" over the care of Sona's sons. As I recall, the eldest, David, was Sington's favourite, while Robert and John spent more time with their grandmother in Adelaide Road, where they came into contact with my mother and formed loving cousin relationships which lasted all their lives.

Another of these visits was to my grandmother's cousin Gladys Hillyer (this branch of the family had changed the name during WW1...out of shame?? But after all only following the example of our august royal family.

Gladys was a prominent member of the nursing profession, as Matron of the prestigious St Thomas's Hospital in London...see internet entries. I remember her as invariably kind and welcoming.

My grandmother seldom referred to my mother's father, and then as "Hamilton Edwards"...a big noise in Fleet St..(Daily Mail)?? and sadly for my mother he occupied a prominent place together with my own father and the dreadful Aunt Sophie on my grandmother's list of undesirables!!

On a more positive note, I recall that her nephew Robert Ramsay's wife, Delia Brittain was one of the relatively few people in the family of whom my grandmother wholly approved!!

Ian M

Steve said...

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone - especially family members - for their generous help in vastly expanding my knowledge of Louise Heilgers and her family. Who would have thought that the little inquiry John made would lead to so much correspondence?

One thing I believe still missing (and I hope I've not overlooked it) is confirmation of Louise's date of death. I originally put forward two possible years: 1945 and 1954, with the former the more likely. I've not had a chance to look into this further, but perhaps someone reading this has a date to hand.

Osmund Bullock said...

What an extraordinary story - or series of stories. I am deeply impressed by your detailed research, Steve, and fascinated by the additions and reminiscences since added to it.

Family members may be interested to know that a fine 1879 marble bust of Frederick William Heilgers (1814-85) is coming up for auction at Sotheby's in London very shortly - Oh, heavens, I now see it's TODAY! See:

He was a splendid-looking fellow with long hair and a full beard. I was puzzled to see you say that he left over £100,000 - the National Probate Calendar says £79,400, though even that is worth something like £33 million today using an average-earnings multiple (usually a better guide than the Retail Price Index).

[For speed I'll email a copy of this to Robert Moore as he has kindly left an email address]

Eric Hollerton said...

Notes from the Whitley Seaside Chronicle; weekly; Whitley Bay -
The Dark Lamp, by Baroness Louise von Heilgers; other novels The Humming Top, Babette wonders why; Mrs Granville recently purchased the Esplanade Hotel. WSC 29.1.1927
new play, Pickings, by Baroness Louise Heilgers, at [Tynemouth] Plaza, by Harry A Vernham's London Players; Mrs Granville, proprietor and licensee of the Esplanade Hotel. WSC 18.2.1928
protection order for Esplanade Hotel; Granville North Eastern Hotels are not registered owners, in name of Mrs Louise Granville. WSC 26.5.1928

Tina said...

Steve - re Louise's death.

She died in Eastbourne, Sussex on 28 October 1954, aged 61. At the time she was resident at 17 Jevington Gardens. Her estate, worth just over £25, was handled by two of her daughters, Dorothy and Elizabeth, by then both married.

Steve said...

Hi Tina,

Thanks for the continued updates. Such a tiny estate ... I wonder if she kept up her writing under a pseudonym or two. Storypapers thrived until the war, were less successful afterwards due to the paper shortage. If her income was from writing, that might explain why she struggled for money.