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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stella M. During

For our second bout of "Mysterious Tales of Romance Writers" we plunge back to another popular name from the past.

Stella M. During was another prolific romance writer, although, unlike Sybil Campbell Lethbridge, she never really made it as a hardback author, with only a handful of books to her name. She did, however, pen a lot of serial fiction and was a regular in D. C. Thomson romance papers, also writing for their Red Letter and Ivy Stories romance pocket libraries.

When John Herrington asked if I could track down anything on her, I already had a couple of notes since she had written for Gramol Publications, D. C. Thomson and Amalgamated Press--three publishers I've done quite a bit of digging into over the years.

The basic facts as I knew them were that she was born Stella M. Jocelyn in Wakefield, Yorkshire. She was attending Ripon Diocesan Female Training College, Ripon, York, in the early 1880s. Worked as a Board School teacher in London, later turning to writing full time. She married a German-born accountant named Paul George E. During in 1891 and had a son, Paul E. During (b. Hamptonwick, Middlesex, 1892?- ). In 1901 the family were living in Dartford and, in 1911, in Barnet. Paul During is listed as living at Elmira, Capel Road, East Barnet in the 1912 Kelly's Directory for Hertfordshire.

As John pointed out, there was no sign of her in earlier census records and the best starting point was the 1891 census where we find Julia S. Jocelyn, a 53-year-old widow who ran a boarding house in Bloomsbury, living with her daughter Stella M. (32) and son Laurence J. (29). Unfortunately, there seemed to be no record of the births of Stella or Laurence.

Mum was a Yorkshire lass, born in Bradford, although quite when is unconfirmed as her age drifted over the years. However, it's almost certain that she was born around 1835. Stella was also born in Yorkshire, but Laurence was born in Chipping Ongar, Essex. Actually, this is a slight error: he was actually born Lawrence (with a 'w' rather than a 'u') and he turns up in the 1881 census living in Chelsea, aged 19 and working as a draper's assistant to one George Ruscoe.

Lawrence John Jocelyn subsequently married Phoebe Louisa Milligan at Islington on 5 December 1891 and had two children. But finding his birth was still proving to be a problem.

The problem being that, rather than Jocelyn, the family name was Josling. I finally tracked the mother down in the 1881 census under the name Julia A. Josling, a school mistress in Kirkleatham in North Yorkshire. She was then living with two sons, Russel F. (17) and Thomson F. (14). Russel was also born in Ongar, Essex, which ties him in with Lawrence John Jocelyn.

With two more sons to work with, I was able to track Julia even further back. Under the name Stella Josling, she was living with her widowed sister, Annis Gorell (a lodging house keeper), in Liverpool in 1871. Stella (36) was listed as a widow and her children were all listed: Stella (12), Laurence (9), Russel (7), Thompson (4); a couple of other neices, Florence Wood (17) and Polly Wood (13) were also listed.

Which leads us backwards to 4Q 1867 when Julia Stella Smith married John Thomas Josling in Hackney, London. John Thomas died only a few years later, aged 31, his death recorded in Hackney in 4Q 1870. Julia—under the name Julia Stella Jocelyn—subsequently married John Oxford in Kingston-upon-Thames in 1Q 1895 and died in Uxbridge, 2Q 1908, aged 73.

But John Thomas Josling is unlikely to have been the father of any of her children if they only married in the latter quarter of 1867. By then she already had four children:

Stella Maria (c.1858/59)
Lawrence John (c.1861/62)
Russel F (c.1863/64)
Thomson F (c.1866/67)

Unfortunately, official birth records only began in 1837, so there is no record of Julia Stella's birth under her unmarried name. Annis Gorell died in Bradford (where, you recall, Julia Stella was born) in 2Q 1902, aged 83, so born 1818/19, in Milbourne, Derbyshire (nowadays known as Melbourne). She can be found in the 1861 census (aged 39 and already a widow) living in Bradford with her sons Austin, Harry and Walter. Interestingly, while Austin and Walter were born in Bradford, Harry was born in America. I believe I've also traced her to the 1851 census where she is living with her mother-in-law, Alice Gorell. She is recorded as Anice, but has two sons Austin and Harry, plus a daughter named Louisa... and a husband named George.

From this information it has been possible to track down their wedding, in Bradford in 1845, when George Gorell married Annice Smith. George died in Bradford in 1855.

All roads lead back to Smith: Annis/Annice Gorell was Annis Smith and Julia Stella Josling/Jocelyn was also a Smith. It looked very likely that Julia Stella Smith was the birth name of Stella Maria During's mother and that she reverted to her maiden name to marry John Thomas Josling.

And there I hit a brick wall. Until I took a punt with a couple of known facts. Julia was born in Bradford but her son, Lawrence, was born in Essex around 1861, the time of the census. Feed in Julia/Bradford/Essex and one name stands out: Julia Webster. She's married (although her husband is not present); she was born in Bradford, Yorkshire (check); she's the principal of a ladies' school (check: school mistress in 1871), she has a daughter born in Wakefield called Maria aged 4 (close: Stella Maria born in Wakefield around 1858/59); she's living with her sister, 19-year-0ld Adile Smith, born in Bradford (check: Smith is her believed maiden name, plus Bradford connection). At the time, she was living in Shelley, Essex, not far from Chipping Ongar.

Although I can't find a Lawrence John Webster born at the right time, I did find Thompson F. Webster, whose birth was recorded in Reigate, Surrey, 3Q 1866. Thomson Josling (with no 'p') was born in Redhill, Surrey, according to the 1881 census. A little logic can be applied here: if Julia Stella Smith married John Thomas Josling in 3Q 1867, a year later, she separated from or was widowed from her husband between, say, 4Q 1865 and 2Q 1867; I can't find any likely candidates in death records.

Could she be the Julia Smith who married Richard Webster in 2Q 1860 in W. London? That would royally screw things up. That could mean that the girl who eventually became known as Stella M. During, the first of Julia's children, was born either out of wedlock or during a previous marriage.

And if you look at the birth records there is a Stella Smith, although her full name is Stella Thomasine Smith, born in Wakefield 2Q 1859.

But whether Stella Thomasine Smith eventually became (via Maria Webster, Stella Josling, Stella M. Jocelyn) Stella M. During I cannot say. What I can confirm is that she died at the age of 74, her death registered at Poole, Dorset, in 2Q 1933.

Update: 22 December 2015. We can now rule out Stella Thomasine Smith as her baptism records are now available and show that her parents were Thomas and Catharine Smith. So unless Stella was subsequently adopted, that would seem to rule her out.

Between the Devil and the Deep Sea. London, A. D. Innes & Co., 1899.
Malicious Fortune. London, George Allen, 1901.
Disinherited. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott Co., 1907; London, John Milne, 1908.
The End of the Rainbow. London, Chapman & Hall, 1909.
Love’s Privilege. London, Cassell & Co., 1911.
In the Springtime of Life. London, Amalgamated Press (Daily Mail 6d. Novels 173), 1912.
The Temptation of Carlton Earle. London, Ward, Lock & Co., 1920.
Her Second Best. London, J. Leng & Co. (Ivy Stories 32), 1923.
The Girl Who Came Home. London, D. C. Thomson & Co. (Red Letter Novels 159), 1926.
Kitty’s Masquerade. London, D. C. Thomson & Co. (Red Letter Novels 203), 1928.
A Lover from the Clouds. London, D. C. Thomson & Co. (Red Letter Novels 209), 1928.
The Girl and the Gold. London, D. C. Thomson & Co. (Red Letter Novels 238), 1929.
Tessa’s Mistake. London, Gramol (Women’s Novel Library 13), 1930.
The One Who Knew. London, J. Leng & Co. (Ivy Stories 243), 1932.

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