I felt that I ought to jump on the Olympics bandwagon, but I have a complete lack of athletic prowess in my ancestry. However I have just discovered an interesting connection to a “sporting gentleman”.
I have been writing up notes about some of the people on a particular Madder family tree. This is always a good way of reviewing what information you have about a person and sometimes, as in this case, you can discover something new.
Amelia Madder was baptised in 1831 in Fakenham Norfolk, the daughter of Samuel Madder, a tailor, and his wife Frances (née Stolworthy). Therefore she was the granddaughter of Samuel the Soldier, about whom I have previously posted. Like most of her siblings Amelia went into service and in 1851 was a lady’s maid in Clarendon Square, Kensington in London. Ten years later she was apparently married and living in Chelsea, Her “husband” was Evelyn Mirehouse, a retired military officer and they had a one year old daughter, Evelyn Amy (Evey in the census – it is a bit confusing with Evelyn being either a male or female name!)
I couldn’t find any record of a marriage and eventually I realised this was a more unconventional relationship, although common at this time. After all, gentlemen didn’t normally marry ladies maids. She was his mistress, set up in a cottage in the then bohemian area of Chelsea. This was probably a good career move for Amelia. Her parents must have approved as her 14-year-old sister, Fanny was living in the household. And Evelyn’s elder brother, a barrister, was lodging with Samuel and Frances, in Fulham.
I found out a bit more about Evelyn Mirehouse:
Evelyn Mirehouse, born at Brownslade; educated at Eton, Lieut. 71st Highlanders, J.P. for CO. Pembroke ; died s.p., bur. at Brighton Cemetery, co. Sussex, in Aug. 1863. (Vol 5 of the Visitation of England and Wales (e-book))
An announcement “to be Ensign, by purchase”, in the 71st Foot (London Gazette (1851))
In 1854 he became Lieutenant, again by purchase.
Record of his Crimean War (1854-55) campaign medal (Ancestry.co.uk)
National Probate Calender – which gave his date and place of death and the fact that he had Effects under £100 (also on Ancestry).
So, as stated in the census, he was an officer who fought in the Crimean War. I had got a date of death, only two years after he was living happily with Amelia and their child. He also seems to have not had a lot of cash! Had he spent all his money on mistresses?
Also found in the London Gazette were notices (in 1864 & 1865) of the sale of land in the County of Pembroke “property of Evelyn Mirehouse, esq, deceased …. pursuant to a Decree in the High Court of Chancery, made in a Cause of Madder v Turnley”. Chancery documents can be found at the TNA and I obtained a copy. In among the legalese, I discovered that Evelyn had left an annuity of £60 per year to Amelia and his executors were to pay for the maintenance and education of his daughter. Unfortunately, due to the fact that his brother died a few months later and that all the property had been mortgaged, the executor had no cash to pay the legacies. Amelia had to go to court to try to get the money.
I don’t know if they got the money but Amelia had another child in 1865 and in 1867 married Thomas Rogers, a carpenter thirteen years younger than her. Evelyn Amy must have got her good education as in 1893 she married, at the age of 33, Samuel Wheeler, a 49-year-old widower who was Official Receiver, High Court of Justice.
That was where this rather interesting story had ended – until my research antennae started twitching! How had this ex-soldier died, aged only 30, at the Pier Hotel, Brighton? I sensed a scandal – was he “entertaining” another lady? How could I find out? Of course – any sudden death might be reported in the Newspapers. Thank goodness for my British Newspaper Archive subscription. What I found was even stranger than I expected.
The first entry I found was in the Morning Post of 11 August 1863 – in the Sporting Intelligence column!
Erysipelas is a nasty skin disease, but enough to kill him? I searched further, for “Mr Flutter” and found reports in a variety of Newspapers:
What a horrible death. I wonder if Amelia was with him in Brighton, or was it all over and he was buried before she knew?
Further newspaper searches brought up references to “Mr Flutter” in the racing reports. He seems to have owned several racehorses between 1860 and his death in 1863 – a few of them were even winers! No wonder his land was mortgaged and he had little money when he died.
Once again, looking in the newspapers had produced more information to add “colour” to my research.