Victorian Studio Photos
Victorian Studio Photos

Woodcote Park
Woodcote Park
Photograph courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

The Brooks family, of Woodcote Park, Epsom make a change from other mercantile worthies of Epsom and Ewell, in that they traded mainly with Australia rather than the East/ West Indies or North America. They were Robert Brooks & Co, Australia Merchants, and the firm was built from scratch by Robert Brooks Senior, who was born in Laceby, Lincolnshire in 1789/90, son of William, a yeoman, and Ann. According to a helpful document on the National Libraries of Australia website, Robert was apprenticed to a Hull timber merchant named John Barkworth, who diversified into shipping, and in 1814 he was sent on an expedition to Mauritius in one of Barkworth's ships. After a brief 'posting' to India he struck out on his own. By 1823 he had bought one of Barkworth's vessels. Whether by coincidence or not, Mr Barkworth is known to us already, as his daughter Emma married Augustus William Gadesden of Ewell Castle. Robert sailed to New South Wales and Tasmania (then called Van Diemen's Land), where he established trading links with local merchants: this was, it seems, his only visit to Australia. At first he imported timber from Australia and New Zealand and exported other goods to those places, but he ended up specialising in the import of wool, whale oil and whalebone. You can read all about it by accessing the National Libraries of Australia link, but the upshot is that he was very successful and three of his sons, Robert Alexander, Henry and Herbert eventually joined the company. In Robert Senior's time whale oil was used in oil lamps and to make soap and margarine; whalebone was used for all sorts of things where a strong flexible material was required and was probably best known for its indispensability to the construction of corsets.

Small waist sizes 15 to 23 inches
Small waist sizes 15 to 23 inches
1880s Newspaper advertisement via Wikimedia

Robert married Hannah Penny at St Martin Vintry, City of London, on 23 March 1833; she was born in London in 1803 and was the daughter of Joshua and Hannah (née Dowson) Penny. Joshua was a wine merchant in London and I believe he also had a house in Norwood, where Robert Brooks was living at the time of his marriage, so I imagine this is how he met Hannah.

Mrs Hannah Brooks
Mrs Hannah Brooks
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

There were eight children altogether, as shown below.

Robert AlexanderBorn 1835
HenryBorn 1836
WalterBorn 1838
JessieBorn 1839
ArthurBorn 1840
HerbertBorn 1842
MayBorn 1843
RosaBorn 1844; died 1847, aged 3. Buried Norwood Cemetery.

In 1859 Robert was elected Conservative MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, a seat which he held until November 1868, when he decided to stand down. He died on 5 June 1882 at Woodcote Park, leaving personal estate of nearly £ 379,000 (about £ 32 million in today's terms). Hannah remained at Woodcote Park until her own death on 22 November 1885. Robert had provided in his will that, when his wife's interest in the property ended, three of his surviving sons (Robert Alexander, Henry and Herbert, but not Arthur - see later) were to have the option of purchasing it 'in order of seniority'. The eldest son, Robert Alexander, followed his mother to the grave just a month later and Henry was already well-ensconced with his family elsewhere, so it was Herbert who took over Woodcote Park. For the average readers, as opposed to 'strictly historians', there is not much of interest to say about the Brooks progeny, other than that several of them carried on the family business and were very rich, but, on scratching the surface, you find that they and their connections were no less prone to what would nowadays be screamed from the tabloids than anyone else. Please read on.

Robert Alexander

Robert Junior married Katherine Pascal Geils at Queen Charlton, Somerset on 4 December 1862. According to a local press report it was a big affair, with the whole village turning out and an Italian nobleman as best man. There is a fascinating story attached to the Geils family, so we shall digress for a while.

Katherine came from a line of Scottish military men. Her great-grandfather was Lieutenant General Thomas Geils of the East India Company Army, who died in 1815. His son, Andrew (died 1843), by the General's wife, Mary Pascal, was also a soldier and, judging by his write-up in the Australian Dictionary of National Biography, something of a maverick. According to the biography he lost four of his sons in an 1815 shipwreck but the one who interests us, John Edward, did not drown: he took over the family estate at Dumbuck, Dumbarton (Dumbuck House is now a hotel and even has a Geils suite) and married Frances Victoria Dickinson in 1838.

Accounts suggest that money was scarce in the Geils family and that John Edward was after the Dickinson cash. This marriage did not go well, even though it produced four daughters, including the aforementioned Katherine Pascal. The attempts by Frances to extricate herself occupied many column feet in the newspapers about 10 years later, much of it concerning whether the Scottish or English courts were the correct jurisdiction. Mrs Geils made allegations of cruelty, adultery and unnatural practices and it seems that they hadn't got on from the start. With the newly-wed Frances having been a rather sheltered teenager, used to being the centre of attention, she wasn't happy about living in a fairly modest Scottish pile with the extended Geils family. The court proceedings began as an application for restitution of conjugal rights by Mr Geils, which Mrs Geils resisted by making accusations against him. There were many contradictory statements by various witnesses for each party and the sum total of it was that they were very different from each other and utterly incompatible. It took the judge more than 7 hours to sum up and deliver his verdict, with the upshot being that Mrs Geils got a legal separation. Divorce in England was a virtual impossibility back then, particularly for women, as it required a special Act of Parliament, so Mrs Geils, who obviously had smart legal advice, commenced divorce proceedings in Scotland, which is where all the jurisdiction issues came to the fore. It was ultimately ruled that Scotland was an appropriate jurisdiction - she got her divorce after several years and stopped Mr Geils getting any more of her money. At first I felt that Mrs Geils had been ill-used and effectively hamstrung by the position of women in Victorian society, which may well have been so, but I am not sure that she was the poor little innocent she made out, as subsequent developments will imply.

The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has a photograph of a lady who is believed to be another of the Geils daughters, Cecil: she eventually married a Spanish nobleman (the Marquis del Moral). And yet another daughter, Frances Clothilde, married the Italian Marchese Chigi early in 1863, with Robert Alexander Brooks as best man. I tell you all this to demonstrate that the Geils family was, shall we say, continental and colourful.

Probably Cecil (née Geils, later Dickinson)
Probably Cecil (née Geils, later Dickinson), Marquesa del Moral
by Camille Silvy. albumen print, 24 January 1862
Image source National Portrait Gallery (NPG Ax56773) (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

A book called 'The King of Inventors: A Life of Wilkie Collins', by Catherine Peters, says that Frances Geils was a friend of Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and the Trollope family, and something of a basis for plots in Collins' books. After her divorce, Frances apparently did some acting and went through a form of marriage, possibly abroad, with an unnamed doctor. Nothing seems to be publicly known about what exactly happened but Collins and Dickens had some knowledge and kept it quiet so that Frances could wed someone else. The 'someone else' was the slightly elderly and widowed Dean of Bristol, the Very Reverend Gilbert Elliot, and they were married in 1863, the year after he had performed the wedding ceremony for Robert Alexander Brooks and Katherine. In fact, Queen Charlton was such a tiny place that both marriage certificates, albeit separated by nearly a year, are on the same page of the register, with no marriages in between, and Frances is described therein as single. It transpires that she was then the 'Lady of the Manor' at Queen Charlton, and had inherited the Manor House.

Group Photo
The handwriting at the bottom of the above photo
is very difficult to read, but I think that Frances
is in the middle row, second right. The front row is
Charles Dickens and family with Wilkie Collins.
Image source National Portrait Gallery (NPG x45067) (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

You will not be amazed to learn that the marriage to Gilbert Elliot did not work out either, but at least it lent respectability to Frances, and it is impossible to imagine now the stigma that attached to a divorced woman in those days, even if she had been the innocent party. Ms Peters goes on to say that by 1866 Frances was 'trying to wriggle out of her marriage, while keeping her fortune intact, threatening to reveal the earlier "marriage", which would implicate the respectable dean in bigamy'. Dickens apparently tried to mediate and an arrangement was reached whereby Frances would live in Italy (she died in Siena in 1898) and put in an occasional appearance at the Bristol Deanery. She spent her time writing fiction, travel books and popular history, which sold successfully. Frances did have an amazing story, which is told very well on the website of the Wilkie Collins Society in an article by the aforementioned Catherine Peters.

Digression over, we return to Katherine Geils/Brooks: in the photo below she looks poised, assured and perhaps somewhat wilful, but we shall never know what she was really like, as she died at 30 Lansdowne Place, Brighton/Hove (which was her address at the time) on 19 January 1866, aged just 24; there were no children.

Mrs Katherine Pascal Brooks
Mrs Katherine Pascal Brooks
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Lansdowne Place
Lansdowne Place, as pictured in 2013.
Image © Linda Jackson 2018.

It appeared initially that Robert Junior had returned to Woodcote Park to live with his family, since that's where he was in both the 1871 and 1881 censuses, and on both occasions he was described as a widower. That was correct for 1871 but not for 1881. Had it not been for the fact that he left a very substantial estate, to the extent that details of the bequests were in the newspapers, I would never have known about the second Mrs Brooks. Then, courtesy of an error in the GRO index, I couldn't find the marriage record, but it turned out that the wedding took place towards the end of 1871 and the bride was Frances Gairdner. A tale then surfaced, not completely unlike the one we have just been through with Frances Geils/Elliot, which might explain why Mrs Brooks 2 seemed so low-profile in her role as the wife of a wealthy merchant. Certainly, this relationship seems to have been totally media-discreet, unlike some of the other revelations in this article.

Frances Gairdner was the daughter of auctioneer Edward John Gairdner and on 21 March 1864 at St Michael's Church, Liverpool she married cotton broker Richard Barnes Rowlinson. The brief marriage was a disaster. Although the days of needing an Act of Parliament had ended, it was still very difficult for a woman to get an English divorce because she had to have more than one ground, whereas a man didn't. So, for example, a wife would have to add cruelty and/or desertion to the adultery allegation. Mrs Rowlinson, by then an actress, did just that, describing a whole catalogue of drunkenness (his) and abuse, culminating in an allegation of adultery with a woman called Margaret Fenner. Mr Rowlinson appeared in person, having denied the cruelty allegations in an affidavit, but the judge was evidently unimpressed and granted a divorce. Shortly afterwards Mr Rowlinson married Margaret Fenner.

As luck would have it, the NPG has a photo of Mrs Brooks 2, who was known on the stage as Fanny Gwynne; she continued to act throughout her marriage to Robert and after his death.

Fanny Gwynne
Frances ('Fanny') Gwynne (née Gairdner)
by Elliott & Fry. Albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s
Image source National Portrait Gallery (NPG x36122) (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Robert died at Mercia House, Lansdowne Road, Hove (stated to be his residence) on 21 December 1885, leaving a fortune of about £ 175,000, which would be somewhere around £ 20 million today. As a footnote, Mercia House was only completed in 1880, so might have been built for him, and is in the Queen Anne Revival style: it's an unusual type of building for the area and looks rather like a schoolhouse from the front. Needless to say, it is now sub-divided into flats.

Mercia House, Lansdowne Road
Mercia House, Lansdowne Road, Hove
Photograph by Simon Carey © and licensed for reuse (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Mrs Frances Brooks died in Torquay, aged 89, on 12 July 1930 and was buried in Torquay Cemetery.


As mentioned earlier, Henry was in the family firm, but he started out as a barrister, having graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge. On 2 February 1861 at St James, Paddington he married Fanny Clifton Tabor (born 14 December 1837 London), daughter of banker Charles William Tabor. By 1871 the couple had set up home in Ashtead and there were seven children in the house, plus a nurse and several servants. More offspring arrived later and here is a list.

Harry TaborBorn 6.7.1862 London. Merchant, trading with the East, Australia and Africa. Married 1889 Elfrida Mary Terry (died 1899) and in 1901 married Charlotte Frances Lester, widow of an army officer (died 1938). Died 1943 Bracknell, Berkshire.
EllenBorn 22.12.1863 Marylebone. Married 1889 Rev.William Feltrim Fagan, Vicar of Hersham (died 1909). Died 1952.
ArthurBorn 1865 Ewell. Died 1926. Seemingly unmarried.
RobertBorn c.1866 Ewell. Married 1893 Florence Dowson (died 1960). Died 3.6.1915 General Hospital, Brandon City, Manitoba.
Evelyn RosaBorn 1868 Ewell. Married 1899 Frank Garrett, later Colonel Sir Frank Garrett (died 1952). Died 1951 Suffolk.
GodfreyBorn 27.6.1869 Ashtead; died of peritonitis 3.8.1905 Dimbula (tea) Estate, Kotagala, Ceylon.
Sidney FrancisBorn 4.12.1870 Ashtead. Lieutenant in the East Surrey Regiment; died 9.6.1900 at Newcastle, Natal of enteric fever, during the 2nd Boer War. Commemorated on a plaque at St Peter's Church, Hersham.
MayBorn 4.4.1872 Ashtead; died of consumption 1883.
ConstanceBorn 3.11.1874 Ashtead. Married 1903 solicitor Clement Crawley Robinson (died 1960). Died 21.10.1956 Wrecclesham Grange Nursing Home, Farnham, Surrey.
HildaBorn 1876 Ashtead. Married 1906 planter Philip Devereux Hickman (died 1926 Colombo). Died 1953.
Frank HerbertBorn 1880 Ewell. Became a rancher (according to 1911 census - location of ranch unknown). Probably died 1968 Kent.
Olive MaryBorn 1882 Ashtead. Married 1910 Rev. Wilfrid Paget Mellor (died 1948). Died 1960 Hythe, Kent.

We have a photo of one of the children as a baby and this was described as the baby of Henry Brooks with a nurse. I think it is most likely to be Harry Tabor Brooks, as we believe that the majority of the Cuthbert Hopkins portraits on glass negatives were taken between about 1862 and 1865, but I am willing to be convinced otherwise! If you have any information about the photo, please contact the webmaster.

'Baby of Henry Brooks' with nurse, quite possibly Harry Tabor Brooks.
'Baby of Henry Brooks' with nurse, quite possibly Harry Tabor Brooks.
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

In 1881 the family was living in Ewell, but by 1891 there had been a move to Hersham Lodge, Walton-on-Thames, with an increased battery of servants, and they remained in Hersham. Henry Brooks died on 1 January 1917 (effects = £ 106,742 - roughly £ 5.16 million today), followed by Fanny just six days later.

Memorial window to Godfrey Brooks   Memorial window to Sidney Francis Brooks
Memorial window to Godfrey Brooks (left) and
Sidney Francis Brooks (right) in St Peter's Church, Hersham
Image source


Further information about Walter and family appears in our Children of the Clergy article, but for present purposes we need to bookmark his wife, formerly Emily Grace Browning, as she will become relevant when we reach May Brooks a little later. Walter died suddenly at Woodcote Park on 29 December 1863, leaving one baby son, Ernest Walter.

Rev. Walter Brooks
Rev. Walter Brooks
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum


Jessie Brooks
Jessie Brooks
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Jessie married Augustus des Montiers Campbell (born 1841 Rome) at St Giles, Ashtead on 1 February 1866. Augustus was a son of merchant and landowner Robert Campbell (known as 'Tertius' to distinguish him from his antecedents), who had been a major figure at the Australian end of the Brooks & Co operations. Before we continue, the children of Jessie and Augustus were as follows.

Florence Mary/MayBorn 1868; died 11.1.1939, then living in Burford, Oxfordshire, unmarried.
EthelBorn 1869; married solicitor Leonard Jeffery (died 1922 Natal, South Africa) and died 18.2.1946 London.
MaudBorn 1870; married Brigadier General Charles Reginald Macgregor (died 1902), then Addison Yalden Thomson - see Mildred Muriel below - and died 30.7.1904 Assam, India.
AugustusBorn 1871. Died 30.11.1899 Newera Ellia, Ceylon.
DouglasBorn 1872.
Jessie SpencerBorn 1874; married solicitor Nicholas Goddard Jackson (died 1959) and died 21.12.1958 Stamford, Lincolnshire - lived at The Manor House, Duddington, Northants.
MaryBorn 1878.
Robert BrooksBorn 1878. Farmer; married Nora Sunderland and died 1947 Cheshire.
Mildred MurielBorn1881; married company director Addison Yalden Thomson (died 1931 and widower of her sister Maud) and died 7.1.1945 Ashampstead, Berkshire.

Note: I may have missed out one or two children and I have certainly lost track of a couple who definitely existed, but in censuses they were not usually together and enumerators had a knack of writing the names down incorrectly. For example, Mildred appeared as Matilda in one census.

Augustus Senior died of heart disease on 21 May 1899. He had a rather unusual funeral, by his own request, in that his body was borne from his home at Oakley House, Marcham, Berkshire in a black-draped wagon drawn by two farm horses and the coffin was carried into the church by six labourers dressed in smocks and straw hats. It is thought that this was a specific nod to a mode of rural life that had all but passed. Jessie died on 15 February 1915, then living at Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

To step back a little, on 21 September 1864, Jessie and her sister May, both as yet unmarried, were bridesmaids at the wedding of Augustus Campbell's sister Florence. This was a huge affair, with the ceremony being conducted by the Lord Bishop of Oxford at Buscot Church in Berkshire (Buscot is now in Oxfordshire), which was near to Robert Campbell's very stately pile - Buscot Park. Ordinarily, in a long article about a specific family I would not bother with a sibling of a subject's husband, but this one cannot be ignored, for she was to become one of the most notorious women in England and beyond - and still is for that matter. Florence's bridegroom was one Alexander Louis Ricardo of the Grenadier Guards, son of a deceased MP and of Lady Catherine Ricardo of the very stately Holkham Hall in Norfolk (you will gather that there was some hugely serious money floating about in these families). According to Mrs Robert Campbell, via evidence given at inquests, the newlyweds were happy together for some time, but in 1868 Alexander started to have money problems. Florence complained to her mother about his drinking, which Mrs C witnessed for herself, and it seems that he became violent towards his wife when inebriated. The Ricardos then went to Malvern to take the waters and the man administering the hydrotherapy was one Dr James Manby Gully. Dr Gully was married, although his wife had been in a mental institution for some time, and getting on in age, having been born in 1808, whereas Florence was approximately 37 years younger. To cut a long story a tad shorter, the Ricardos separated, reconciled and separated again: he had relapsed into his old habits and finally died at Cologne on 19 April 1871, a few days short of his 28th birthday. Meanwhile Florence and Dr Gully were having an affair and it is said that she had an abortion, performed by the latter; she had also developed a serious alcohol problem.

On 7 December 1875 at All Saints, Knightsbridge Florence married barrister Charles Delauney Turner Bravo; she was now ensconced at The Priory, Balham, a large castellated building which was soon to become as notorious as Florence herself. For, on 21 April 1876, little more than four months after the wedding, Charles died there, of antimony poisoning, whether self-administered or not being unclear. Several people were suspected of administering the poisoning, including Florence, Dr Gully and a middle-aged friend/companion/housekeeper called Mrs Jane Cannon Cox, but no one was ever charged. Mrs Cox was responsible for this horrible mismatch in the first place, since she had known the Bravo family and introduced them to Florence. It emerged that Charles Bravo was not the nice, eligible young man he had seemed to be: he had fathered an illegitimate child before his marriage and was after Florence's money in no uncertain terms. Mrs Cox was apparently due for the sack because Mr Bravo thought she was too expensive and the theories ranged from Charles trying to poison Florence for her money and then accidentally swallowing the stuff to Florence getting rid of him because of his sexual demands on her after she had suffered miscarriages and/or a conspiracy between Florence and Mrs Cox. Take your pick.

Charles and Florence Bravo with others
Charles Bravo, Florence (seated right) and Mrs Cox (presumably seated left)
by Unknown photographer, albumen carte-de-visite, 1876
Image source National Portrait Gallery (NPG x134662) (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

The Bravo poisoning case is one of those enduring mysteries that still produces new theories and 'solutions' from journalists and authors, but it doesn't matter that much at this distance in time. What is interesting is that, yet again, we have a Victorian woman on the receiving end of abusive and domineering treatment by her husband(s) and, whatever the rights and wrongs of it all, the woman tends to end up as the one who is ostracised by family and society, which happened to Florence in this instance. She became reclusive and suffered a bad end, dying at Eastney, Hampshire on 17 September 1878, allegedly of alcohol poisoning.


If there was a 'black sheep' in the family, it would have been Arthur: he was treated differently from the other sons in Robert Brooks' will, being left £ 8000 in trust (it seems also that Robert did not leave anything to his elder daughter Jessie, although she was alive, but this may have been because the Campbells were wealthy in their own right or perhaps as a consequence of the Bravo scandal). Arthur seems to have liked the horses and to have been bad with money, which may explain why he was left a limited sum in trust by his father. At a bankruptcy examination in 1870 Arthur explained that he had been in the 13th Hussars from 1858 to 1868, rose to the rank of Captain and then sold his commission to his brother (he had already mortgaged it to that same brother two years previously). All the while he received an allowance from Robert as well as his Army pay but he couldn't say how much that was. He had owned interests in racehorses, which he had sold, and had been betting very little since 1868. Robert did not give him a fixed income. His assets were nil.

The next sighting is at the parish church of Froxfield, Wiltshire on 12 January 1876, where he married Selina Harriett Kelly, daughter of the Rector of Mappowder, Dorset. I then lost them again and there comes a point in frustrating searches when you want to give up, but people like this don't just disappear off the face of the earth - they go abroad usually. And at last we pick up a child called Violet Eleanor Brooks, born 8 January 1885 in France and attending a National School in Bedford: this could make sense, since the family of her Aunt May (Brooks) lived in that general area. Then, Arthur resurfaced as a witness at Violet's wedding on 26 October 1905 at St Stephen's Church, Paddington. The bridegroom was Rolfe Arnold Scott-James, a journalist. And, in the 1911 census, Selina Brooks was living with the couple and their daughter, Violet Marie Livia (born 1907, married Royal Navy officer Revell Clayton Hannah and died 1956). A second daughter, Anne Eleanor, was born in 1913, followed by a son, John R, in 1915 (died 1957). Anne Scott-James was a well-respected journalist and the mother of Sir Max Hastings. I think that Mrs Selina Brooks died in 1926 and that Arthur may have died in 1921, but have no real proof. Violet Eleanor survived until 1942.


As mentioned, Herbert became the owner of Woodcote Park, but before that, in 1874, he had married Alice Buller at Lanreath, Cornwall. Alice was a daughter of the Reverend Richard Buller and a sister of James Hornby Buller of Down Hall, Epsom. This is the point where I usually say we'll list the children, but in this case there were none, which is something of a relief as we still have May and her offspring, one of whom is particularly exhausting, to come.

Apart from his business activities, which included being a director of the Bank of England, Herbert was a local magistrate, chairman of Epsom Conservative Association and a vice-president of the Epsom Conservative Club. He sold Woodcote Park to the RAC in 1913. Herbert and Alice look to have been scandal-free, as befitting their positions, and died in London on 10 October 1918 and 15 July 1923 respectively. The firm of Robert Brooks & Co continued until 1968.


If you recall, a long time ago I parked Mrs Walter Brooks, who was Emily Grace Browning, daughter of merchant Henry Browning. May Brooks married Emily's brother, Captain Hugh Edmond Browning of the Royal Scots Greys (2nd Dragoons). Hugh was born in London on 17 September 1838 and the wedding took place at St Giles, Ashtead on 2 August 1870, by which date he had just retired from the army. Before proceeding, I will show you a photo which I think is May, although the writing on the negative wrapper tends to mislead. The writing was originally Miss Brooks Junior, which is unquestionably May, but then someone came along and inserted 'Rachael' between the Miss and the Brooks. There was no Rachael Brooks, so I blew up the images of Jessie and 'Rachael' for comparison purposes and the resemblance is unmistakeable, from the dark circles beneath the eyes to the miserable expression around the lips. As usual, if you know differently, please get in touch.

May Brooks
May Brooks
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Hugh Edmond Browning.
Hugh Edmond Browning.
Image source: Baily's Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, February 1896

Hugh and May lived at Clapham Park, Bedfordshire, where it was a 'country squire' kind of life. Hugh became master of the nearby Oakley Hounds, a magistrate and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire (1895/6). The couple seemed to be free of scandal, but their eldest son certainly wasn't, becoming embroiled in an episode which the newspapers tagged as 'The Monte Carlo Romance'. So, the children were as follows and we won't 'do' everyone in great detail or we'll be here for days, but I will tell you about the Monte Carlo saga in a moment.

Hugh CampbellBorn 1871 London. See later.
Walter BuchananBorn 1874 Clapham, Beds. Sometime brewer/wine merchant etc, army officer, electrical engineer. Apparently unmarried; died 16.2.1947, then living at Moretonhampstead, Devon.
LilianBorn 1877 Clapham. Married Julius Arkwright (died 1926). Died 1963 London.
Charles HunterBorn 1878 Clapham. Eton cricketer and regular officer in the Royal Field Artillery. Served in South Africa 1899-1900. Reached rank of Captain and was killed in action at Le Cateau, France on 26.8.1914. Buried at Le Cateau Military Cemetery.
Herbert BrooksBorn 1884 Clapham. Taxi proprietor (1911) Served in both World Wars. Married Hilda Harriet Mason (died 1958). Died 28.9.1959 Southern Rhodesia.
May HelenBorn c.1886. Died 19.5.1964, then living at Weymouth. Unmarried.

May Senior died in February 1898 in London, aged only 57. Hugh, who had experienced some riding accidents in his time, which had left permanent effects, died at the home of his daughter, Lilian Arkwright, in St Neots, Huntingdonshire, on 18 December 1905. Both were buried at Clapham.

So, we are off to Monte Carlo now. This all ended up in a court case about probate, entitled Browning v Mostyn and others (Plummer intervening), Plummer being the significant party. Mostyn and others were mainly relatives of the testator who were challenging the will. The testator was Charles Stuart Coningham, who was born in Torquay in 1873. He had been thrown out of Sandhurst and had then gone up to Cambridge University (but only for 6 weeks, leaving before he could be sent down) and had a drinking problem. He soon took to gallivanting round the Continent, visiting casinos etc, and Hugh joined him. Miss Louise Plummer looked after a flower stall in a Monte Carlo hotel and Coningham became infatuated with her, taking her on his further travels and promising to marry her. He also said he would make a will so that she would be provided for in the event of his death. True to his word, he did so and the relatives didn't like it when they found out, claiming that Coningham was not of sound mind and had been unduly influenced by Hugh and Louise. It was certainly correct that Coningham had been a wild young man (on one occasion he had challenged Hugh to a duel, because he thought the latter was having an affair with Louise, and shots were actually fired) and there was evidence that he took drugs as well as copious amounts of alcohol. It was said that on one day alone he had ordered up a bottle of whisky, six glasses of whisky, a bottle of champagne, a bottle of sherry and a bottle of bitters, On the day he died - this was at Naples on 22 March 1896 - he appeared to have drunk sixteen glasses of whisky, half a bottle of champagne, a bottle of sherry, a glass of Benedictine and two bottles of hock. Unsurprisingly, he was found dying/dead beneath the bed of his hotel room.

Mostyn and others failed to get the will overturned and Miss Plummer walked away with a very large legacy. A few months later Hugh married Helen Lilias Watson and they eventually resided at Lapford, Devon. In 1918 he joined up but was almost immediately discharged as unfit for service. There were two sons of the marriage. Hugh died in 1922; Mrs Browning remarried and survived until 1984.

Linda Jackson 2018