This post deals mainly with the life of John Wright Sandford Dracup (1857-1911) and several other third-generation Dracups living and working in India during the second half of the Nineteenth Century.
It includes material about their wives and families, so venturing into the fourth generation and featuring John’s eldest son – the splendidly named Athelstane Hamleigh Dracup – who rose to prominence in the first third of the Twentieth Century.
This is a companion piece and sequel to ‘A Dracup dynasty is founded in India’ (January 2017) which is about the first and second generations of the Indian arm of the Dracup family tree. That post deals with its founder Isaac (1770-1835) and his children, especially his two sons William (b.1820) and Isaac (1823-1912).
I have followed the practice I adopted for the previous post by including:
- A Google map identifying the principal locations mentioned in these biographies, with colour coding to distinguish those relevant to each principal character; and
- A genealogical chart showing how these generations shape up in my offline family tree.
The former is immediately below; the latter at the end of the post.
The evidence base for this post is drawn entirely from material available online. To the best of my knowledge all the illustrations are in the public domain. I welcome feedback, additions and corrections from those with a more intimate knowledge of these Dracups, who are amongst my more distant cousins. I will gladly add any photographs of them that readers are willing to share.
The origins of John Wright Sandford Dracup
John Wright Sandford Dracup – referred to as J. W. S. Dracup in most official documents but more familiarly known as Jack – was born on 6 November 1857 in Surat, in the Northern district of the Bombay Presidency.
His birth coincided with the Indian Rebellion, which began in May 1857. Although there was some unrest in various parts of the Bombay Presidency, much of it remained comparatively calm.
There was, however, attempted rebellion in Ahmedabad, just a little further to the north. This would have been an unsettling if not downright frightening period for the family.
This map shows the Surat district as it was in 1877. Broach abuts immediately to the North.
We know John’s birth date from a list of Bombay Gazetted Civil Servants published in 1899. His entry is reproduced below.
My previous post concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, John was William’s son rather than Isaac’s, because:
- Angeline gave birth to a daughter in July 1857, so could not have been John’s mother if his given birth date is correct.
- There is no record of a child born to Johanna between 1855 and 1859 – and this four year gap is the largest between any two of her children.
- Surat is close to Broach where William is known to have been working by 1859. He could certainly have moved there by late 1857.
- John married into the same Clifford family as one of Isaac’s daughters, Alice Edith. It would have been relatively unusual – though not unheard of – for a brother and sister to marry siblings.
- Both the Clifford family’s status and John’s subsequent career success were such that he is unlikely to have been illegitimate.
I have since discovered John’s marriage certificate which confirms that William was indeed John’s father.
John’s early career and marriage
We know from an entry in the Indian Biographical Dictionary for 1915 that John was educated in Bombay, where his family was resident from the early 1860s. I have not established which school he attended.
The record from the 1899 gazetted list says that he joined the Bombay Civil Service on 1 June 1875, at the tender age of 17.
It describes a lengthy 20-year apprenticeship during which he:
‘Held non-gazetted appointments in the Commissioner N.D.’s office from 1875 to 1886, and in the Revenue Department from 1886 to 1895 in the Kaira, Ahmedabad, Broach and Thana Districts’
This is supported by the Biographical Dictionary, which says he was appointed clerk of the Commissioner’s Office, Northern Division in 1875. The Commissioner had overall responsibility for the Division’s affairs and its headquarters were located in Ahmedabad.
This General Report on the Administration of the Bombay Presidency is contemporaneous with the beginning of John’s career. It provides a comprehensive picture of how the Presidency saw itself at this time.
An introductory section says:
‘The northern states of the Presidency are in many respects less advanced than the southern, though naturally wealthier. It is only recently that method has been introduced into the conduct of criminal and civil business, and an organized police exists only to a limited extent. Police and magisterial powers are not always distinct; jurisdictions are ill-defined; registration scarcely known; and the revenue raised for the most part by farming or received in kind…Much of the country is very wild and inhabited by tribes who prefer to settle a grievance by a border foray than by appeal to authority, while pillaging of villages and highway attacks are scarcely yet completely put down.’
John married in St Paul’s Church, Poona on 28 September 1886, at approximately the point of transfer between the District Commissioner’s Office and the Revenue Department. He was 28 years old.
But the marriage certificate gives his employment as ‘first class magistrate Gogo’.
This appointment is not included in the 1899 list or in the 1915 Biographical Dictionary, but Homeward Mail reports an entry in the Bombay Government Gazette for 26 February 1885: ‘Dracup J.W.S., is appd. probny. sub pro tem 4th grade mamlatdar of Gogha in Ahmedabad’
John and May Maria were certainly located there since their eldest child Athelstane Hamleigh was born in Gogo in October 1887. The birth was announced as a ‘Domestic Occurrence’ in the Times of India. But the Bombay Gazetter records that John had already been appointed a first class magistrate in Ahmedabad by September 1886.
Gogo was a small port, now called Ghogha, located on the West Coast of the Gulf of Khabat, opposite Baruch (formerly Broach) on the East Coast. Once a thriving trading centre, it had already seen better days, though still boasted a population of some 10,000 people.
At first sight John’s subsequent decade spent in the Revenue Department appears a backward step.
John’s wife May Maria Clifford was born on 29 April 1866 in Poona, so was some eight years his junior and aged 20 at the time of the marriage.
At her birth her father William’s occupation was recorded as ‘Assistant Superintendent of Army School’. He had risen from the role of army schoolmaster with the rank of sergeant.
Between 1865 and 1868 William served as Principal of Bishop’s School, Poona, founded only the year before for the children of warrant officers and NCOs. He went on to become Acting Superintendent of Army Schools, but died back in England as early as 1873.
May Maria’s mother Catherine had died some three years earlier and the nominal head of the family was eldest son William Julian (1859-1935). He was an army officer who married Millicent Windsor the year after John’s own wedding.
In 1903 the London Gazette announced his promotion from Deputy Assistant Commissary and Honorary Lieutenant to Assistant Commissary. Commissaries were responsible for supplies and procurement. He was promoted to Honorary Captain in January 1904 and full Commissary in 1906.
As noted above, another of May Maria’s elder brothers, Frederick Lakeland Clifford (1861-1941) married Isaac junior’s daughter Alice Edith (1858-1947), that ceremony occurring only three months later on 28 December 1868 in St Mary’s Church, Poona.
At the time of his marriage Frederick was an inspector in the Akbari department, dealing with taxes on alcohol, but by 1895 he had become a police inspector and rose to become a deputy superintendent, serving in that capacity in both Aden and Thana (Tanna).
John and May Maria had three further children during this period:
- Jack Clifford, born in August 1889, who died in infancy on 21 April 1890 in Borsad. The death was announced in the Times of India.
- Dorothy Mary (a.k.a. Dorothy May), born in 1891 according to her marriage record, location unknown. She married widower Lt. Col. Stanley Arthur Harriss of the Indian Medical service (1869-1942) in Calcutta in 1919. He died in Ascot, Berkshire, England in 1942.
- Harold Leslie, born in 1893 according to the record of his death in London in June 1934. He is buried in Hendon Cemetery. He had married Helene Hedwig Mehl in Aden on 18 January 1932. After his death she seems to have married his younger brother (see below).
John’s later career and younger children
Two further children arrived during John’s subsequent more successful period, making six children in all:
Doris Marie was born on 12 January 1899 in Ahmedabad and baptised there on 10 February. Father John’s employment is given as ‘Assistant Commissioner, Northern District’ and the family is resident in Ahmedabad.
I cannot trace what happened to her subsequently.
Ryder Carrel (or Caree) was born on 5 October 1902 in Bombay and baptised in the Mission Church of Girgaum on 29 November. John’s employment at this time is given as ‘Presidency Magistrate’.
Ryder became a doctor in the Indian Medical Service, marrying Hedwig Mehl (see above) in June 1935 in Dehra Dun, Bengal.
He reached the rank of acting colonel in the latter days of the War and in 1949, as lieutenant colonel, he became commanding officer of the military hospital at Kirkee in Pune.
The pair travelled to England on more than one occasion, sometimes giving their address as the Ascot residence of the Harrisses (see above). I could not trace a date of death, or any children.
I have combined these sources with the two documents mentioned above and other contemporary publications to generate the following record of the second half of John’s career.
|1 April 1895||37||Surat||Appointed 6th grade deputy collector and city magistrate (and additionally Huzur accounting officer for two weeks in April/May 1896)|
|1895||37||Borsad||Mamlatdar (Thackers 1895)|
|17 June 1896||38||Ahmedabad?||Appointed 6th grade deputy collector and assistant to the commissioner, Northern Division|
|1897||39||Ahmedabad?||Assistant to commissioner, Northern Division (Thackers 1897)|
|1899||41||Ahmedabad||Assistant commissioner, Northern Division|
|1899||41||Bombay||Third Presidency magistrate|
|1905||47||Bombay||Fourth presidency magistrate|
|1907||49||Bombay||Fourth presidency magistrate (Times directory)|
|1911||53||Bombay||Third presidency magistrate|
According to the Bombay Land Revenue Manual (1934), the 1879 Bombay Land Revenue Code prescribes that:
- Each divisional commissioner shall have two assistants, one in charge of the English branch of the office; the other in charge of the ‘vernacular branch’.
- Each district shall appoint a collector, subordinate to the commissioner, supported as necessary by assistant, deputy assistant and deputy collectors.
- The chief officer associated with the local revenue administration of a taluka (sub-district) shall be called the Mamlatdar.
Bombay Presidency Magistrates were appointed under Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1882 which established the Courts of Presidency Magistrates as third in the judicial hierarchy, preceded by High Courts and Courts of Sessions.
There were three Bombay Presidency Magistrates, though a fourth was added in 1892. The Chief Magistrate was the most senior, followed by the second, third and fourth respectively.
In 1910 the family’s address was 6, Club Road, Byculla, Bombay, which must have been adjacent to the Byculla Club.
John died on 21 December 1911, aged 54, of ‘pleuro-pneumonia’ and was buried the following day in Sewri Cemetery, Bombay. His wife outlived him, dying on 20 November 1937 in Belgaum at the age of 71.
John was by far the most prominent of this third generation of Indian Dracups and there is a certain irony in the fact that he was descended from the less successful of Isaac senior’s two sons.
Other members of this third generation included…
Edwin Arthur (1846-1909)
Edwin Arthur was Isaac and Angelina’s second child and oldest son, born in Dharwar on 7 January 1846. He is not mentioned in the 1863 edition of the Bombay Almanac, but the 1865 edition lists him as a clerk with the Branch Bank of Bombay in Belgaum.
This would have been a promising position. The Bank had been founded in 1840 and, by the 1850s, was becoming increasingly profitable. But in the early 1860s it began to undertake increasingly risky business and finally collapsed in 1866.
The 1868 Almanac places him as a clerk in the executive engineer’s office in Tanna.
The next record I have of him is his belated marriage in 1887, at the age of 41. The marriage takes place in Hyderabad, Sind where both parties are resident.
Edwin’s wife was Laura (Albina) Annette Adshead, nee Taylor, a widow aged 39 born in Madras. He is by this time a head clerk in the collector’s office in the district of Thar and Parkar, which was thinly populated and partly desert.
Unfortunately the marriage was shortlived. A daughter called Laura Sylvia was born on 3 January 1889 but, four days later, her mother died of peritonitis. The burial record gives her age as 37. Then daughter Laura died of diarrhoea on March 4, leaving Edwin completely alone. She was buried in Karachi.
Edwin appears in Thackers Indian Directory of 1895, his location given as Karachi, but no employment is mentioned. Then in the 1897 edition of Thackers he is listed as an Abkari inspector in Sukkur, also in the Sind.
Edwin died on December 20 1909 in Karachi at the age of 64. The cause of death is ‘inflammation of the kidneys’ and Edwin is described as a retired Akbari inspector.
Charles Stuart (1847-1901)
Charles Stuart, William’s second son and John’s elder brother, was born in Poona on 2 October 1847. His baptism record spells the family name with a ‘y’.
He too appears in the 1865 Bombay Almanac, where he is referred to as ‘Clerk, gun carriage agency, Lower Colaba’. The gun carriage agency was part of the Ordnance Department.
The 1868 edition of the Almanac describes him as a clerk in the office of the consulting engineer for railways, also in Lower Colaba. It is no coincidence that father William is listed as an assistant in the same office.
Charles married Mary Amelia (aka Amelia Mary) Millar on 2 February 1872 in St Thomas’s Cathedral, Bombay. He was 24; she 20. They had six children, though only two achieved adulthood:
- Joanna (aka Hannah) Amelia, born15 April 1873 at the Fort, Sonapur, Bombay. Her father’s occupation is given as ‘storekeeper supervisor – tending Engineer’s office’. In 1889 she married Benjamin James Knowles in Bombay. He died at sea in 1905 when chief officer on the SS Monsoori.
- Ada Ruth Sarah was born on 4 September 1874 in Bombay and baptised in Girgaum. Charles is listed as a storekeeper with the public works department. Ada died on 10 January 1898 at the age of 23, the cause of death given as heart disease. She is buried in Sewri Cemetery. The burial record describes her as the daughter of Mr A Dracup (presumably this should say Mrs.) An announcement in the Times of India says she died at her sister’s house in Byculla and was ‘the daughter of Mrs Dracup of the Cama Hospital’.
- Lionel Douglas Miller, born on 6 May 1876, he died on 22 September 1877 of diarrhoea. Father Charles remains a storekeeper at the public works department.
- Arthur Donald Millar, born on December 1877 he died in March 1878 of convulsions. Charles is still a storekeeper.
- Percival Stuart, born 1 April 1879 in Bombay where Charles continues as a storekeeper. There are references in the Times Directory for 1907 to a P Dracup working as a clerk in the chief auditor’s office of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India (BB and CI) Railway. He married twice and died in Hampshire, England in 1962.
- Archibald, born on 26 April 1880, he died on 6 August in the same year and is buried in Sewri Cemetery. Although still a storekeeper at the time of birth, father Charles is listed as unemployed on the burial record.
In March 1872 Charles and his younger brother Edward William jointly a filed a petition for insolvency. Their address is given as ‘Middle Colaba outwith the fort’. Bother are employed as ‘English writers’, Charles in the ‘Superintending Engineer’s Office’ and Edward at ‘Watson’s Hotel’.
Charles is one of three Dracups listed as privates in the Bombay Volunteer Rifles, dating from 1877-78. Unfortunately he attended only one parade while ‘L S Dracup’ (identity uncertain) managed 21 parades and ‘J Dracup’ (possibly John Wright Sandford) achieved 44.
Charles himself succumbed to diarrhoea on June 10 1901 at the age of 55. His occupation is given as ‘ex clerk’.
His wife Mary became a matron at Cama Hospital for women and children, which opened in 1886. She died on 13 February 1909 in Ajmer, where there was a large railway colony linked to the BB and CI railway.
Richard Henry (1853-1921)
Richard Henry, Isaac and Angelina’s seventh child, was born on 6 November 1853 in Poona. The first record I can trace is an entry in the 1884 Bengal Directory, where he is described as ‘clerk, manager’s office, Raj-Malwary, Ajmere’.
Ajmer-Merwara was a British-controlled district surrounded by several princely states which together constituted Rajputana, to the south-east of the North-Western Provinces (see map in the next section of this post).
By 1891 Richard was back in Bombay, since he married Anna Elizabeth Cruwys on 28 December in St Thomas’s Cathedral. He was 38, she some 15 years his junior. His employment is described simply as ‘Government Clerk’.
Richard appears in the 1895 edition of Thackers Directory, listed as a second class clerk in the public works secretariat. In the 1897 edition he is identified as a clerk with the public works department.
I found records of two children:
- Gladys May, born on December 14 1898 in Simla, a hill station in the Punjab, part of the Bengal Presidency, where Richard was employed as a superintendent in the public works office.
- Wilfred Cruwys, born on June 11 1901, also in Simla, Richard still occupying the same post.
In 1910 Richard joined the Himalayan Brotherhood Freemasons Lodge in Simla. He is now employed as a ‘Superintendent, Railway Department’.
But shortly afterwards he retired to England, appearing with his family in the 1911 census as a resident of East Dulwich, London. The entry describes him as a ‘Government pensioner, superintendent, state railway department, India’.
Richard died on 15 April 1921 in Herne Hill, London. His wife died in February 1949.
Samuel Spooner (1855-1909)
Samuel Spooner was born to William and Johanna in Belgaum in the south of the Bombay Presidency on 3 July 1855.
He married Mildred Isabella Killan Hardy, aged 29, on 15 May 1883 in Lucknow, Oudh, which had been annexed into the North-Western Provinces in 1857 and which had been the site of the infamous siege.
Charles was working in Lucknow as an inspector of engineering.
Mildred died of tuberculosis less than six years later in 1889 in Quetta Baluchistan, where Samuel was a clerk attached to the North Western Railway. There were no children.
Baluchistan consisted at this time of areas of direct British control and three Princely States. Quetta was located in the area of British control to the North.
Following his wife’s death Samuel opted for something of a career change, exchanging railway work for a livelier existence as head clerk in the office of the political agent for South Eastern Baluchistan.
The south-east of the territory was occupied by the princely state of Las Bela, to the west of Sind.
The Agent at this time was Major M. A. Tighe. One official army report published in 1910 describes unrest in 1896-97 when Samuel was likely in post:
‘In January 1896, Jam Ali Khan of Las Bela died, and was succeeded by his son Kamal Khan, the present ruler. This Chief was not given full powers at his succession, a Wazir being appointed by the British authorities to assist him in the government.
Intrigues at this time were known to be at work in Las Bela, and reports were current of large quantities of arms being imported from Kabul. In consequence the political Agent, Major M. A. Tighe, was ordered to proceed to Las Bela with a strong escort, commanded by Major J. 0. Mennie, consisting of 200 rifles, 130th Baluchis, and a troop of the Sind Horse…
On the 2nd November Major Tighe ordered the arrest of two of the Jam’s councillors who were known to have been intriguing. On the same day Major Mennie occupied the magazine near the palace. Here he found 100,000 rounds of ball cartridge, a much larger amount than the Jam was authorised to keep. Major Mennie removed this ammunition to his camp which had been pitched some two miles from the city. The next day the Political Agent released several men who had been imprisoned bv the Jam. These measures caused some unrest in the town, and Major Tighe considered it would be well to seize the gun ammunition.
Accordingly on the afternoon of the 3rd of November Major Mennie removed all the shells to the escort camp and destroyed three thousand pounds of powder which was found in a magazine about a mile from the city. The Political Agent now discovered that there were many more men under arms than were authorised for the Jam’s army and ordered the surplus to be disbanded.’
There were further skirmishes – in 1898 including an attack on a British-led surveying team which led to British reprisals – and again in 1901. Major Tighe was involved on both occasions.
We do not know how long Samuel was employed in the Agent’s office. He does not appear in the 1897 Thackers Directory and, on his death aged 54 in December 1909 in Lahore he had reverted to working as a guard on the North Western Railway. The cause of death was pneumonia.
Herbert Percy (1863-1898)
Herbert was born to Isaac and Angelina on 27 October 1863 in Dharwar, in the southern district of the Bombay Presidency.
He first appears as a member of the Friendship Lodge of Freemasons located in Ajmere (see above) into which he was initiated in January 1890 at the age of 26. His employment is simply ‘clerk’. He has most likely followed elder brother Richard to this location.
He too returned to Bombay to marry Hope Sarah Dwyer, aged 32, on 2 November 1899 in St Thomas’s Cathedral. He is again described simply as ‘Clerk’. They had three children:
- Beryl Gladys Edith, born in 1900 in Bombay.
- Merle Lilian, born in 1903 in Bombay.
- Denzil Herbert, born in 1906. The family’s location is given as Colaba Causeway, Bombay.
Herbert is described as an accountant on all three records, although the 1897 edition of Thackers Directory refers to him as a clerk in the audit office of the Rajputan-Malwa (R-M) railway. Similarly, the 1907 Times Directory describes him as ‘chief clerk, audit department, Bombay, Baroda and Central India (BB and CI) Railway.
Hope died on 15 April 1913 at the age of 46 and is buried in Sewri Cemetery. The cause of death is double pneumonia. Herbert is confirmed as a chief clerk belonging to the audit department of the BB and CI Railway.
He remarried in 1914 or 1915 to widow Bridget Georgina Westropp, aged about 25. She had been married in 1908 in Ahmedabad to Reuben Biddulph, a driver with the R-M railway.
Herbert and Bridget look to have had two further children:
- Percival Louis, born in November 1915.
- Lucilla Bridget, born 1920.
Herbert appears in the 1915 Thackers Directory, still as Chief Clerk with the audit office of the BB and CI Railway, though now located in Ajmer.
He died in Bangalore of influenza in September 1938. Bridget died in London in 1953.
Isaac, John Wright Sandford’s younger brother, was born on 20 March 1864, in Colaba, Bombay. He is not to be confused with his uncle.
He joined the North-Western Railway in 1880 at the age of 16.
He married twice, first to Clementina Adelaide Rex, born 1868 in Grant Road, Bombay, at some point between 1886 and 1890. They had two children:
- Clementina Adelaide Hilda, who was born on 9 January 1893 in Kotri in the Upper Sind and died the same day. Isaac’s employment is assistant stationmaster on the North-Western Railway.
- Sarah Hannah Adelaide, born on 5 January 1894 in Karachi capital of the Sind Division of Bombay Presidency.
Wife Clementina died shortly afterwards on January 16 1894, of acute peritonitis. Isaac is described on the burial record as the assistant station master at Karachi City.
His second wife was Clementina D’Cruze, a 28-year old widow. The ceremony took place on 28 April 1896 at Umballa (aka Ambala) in the Delhi Division in the Punjab. She is resident in Umballa, he in Sukkur in the Sind division of the Bombay Presidency where he is again an assistant stationmaster on the North-Western Railway. I can trace no children from this second marriage.
Isaac died of pneumonia on March 19 1913 at Sukkur, just before his 50th birthday. He was serving as full stationmaster at Sukkur. His employment record, which refers to him as ‘J N Dracup’ mentions his 33 years of service with the company. He was survived by his second wife but I cannot discover what became of her.
Athelstane’s education, first marriage and early career
Venturing finally into the fourth generation, the young Athelstane Hamleigh, eldest son of John Wright Sandford, enjoyed advantages that had not been available to his elders.
The British Library holds in its archive a letter dated October 1904 from his mother enquiring about his eligibility for the Indian police examination. He would have been 17 at this point.
But this early plan was superseded. According to a contemporary article in The Straits Times, Athelstane was the first Indian resident to be awarded a university scholarship for UK university study. The British Library dates the award to the period from 28 August 1907 to 27 November 1911.
Athelstane duly went to Cambridge. There is an entry for him in a biographical history of Gonville and Caius College which describes his education up to that point:
‘Educated at Bishop’s High School, Poona ; Education Society’s School, Bombay ; Wilson College, Bombay, under Mr D. Mackiehan [sic] ; Wren’s, London.’
As noted above, his maternal great uncle William Walter Clifford had been Principal of Bishop’s School some decades before his arrival there.
Wilson College, founded in 1831, continues to operate in Mumbai. This picture dates from 1893, a few years before Athelstane’s arrival.
Dugald Mackichan was Principal from 1884 to 1920 and also served as Vice-Chancellor of the University.
Wren’s was an infamous London crammer.
The biographical history continues:
‘Admitted 1 Oct. 1907. Kept four terms. Migrated to St Catharine’s College. B.A. 1910. Hist. Tripos, Part I, Class 3, 1909 ; Part II, Class 3, 1910.’
From which we can deduce that Athelstane was no great scholar.
There is an intriguing reference to a marriage that took place in Paddington, London in early 1911, shortly after his graduation.
Athelstane is mentioned alongside one man – Guy Latham Lutwyche – and three women – Margaret R P Kirkpatrick, Margaret R P Morris and Margaret M B Thomas.
Since some family trees mention that Lutwyche married Margaret Ruby Picton Morris, widow of Henry Pownall Kirkpatrick, Athelstane’s spouse is revealed as Margaret Thomas.
This is confirmed by an article in the Los Angeles Times dated Tuesday, 13 August 1918, reporting their divorce in a Los Angeles Court.
It says that:
- The couple have a 5 year-old child called ‘Delores’
- Athelstane (‘Athelstone’) is described as an ‘army polo player’ serving with the British Expeditionary Forces in Mesopotamia
- Margaret, described as ‘Margaret Blair Dracup’ was formerly resident in Vancouver, British Columbia but had come to LA to further her ‘artistic career’
- Margaret was born in Omaha, Nebraska but had been schooled in London and met Athelstane while he was at Cambridge
- ‘Delores’ was born in India and the family lived there for a time, but Margaret and her daughter transferred to the Americas when Athelstane was posted to Mesopotamia.
Further research reveals that Margaret Montrie Blair Dracup was born on June 25 1891 in Omaha to Adolphus Richard Thomas (1857-1941) and Alice Mary Blair Pollard (1858-1945). The family removed to Canada in 1896.
I can trace no further details prior to the marriage. The daughter, Dolores Margaret, was actually born in London on 19 January 1912 and baptised at St Matthew’s Church in Willesden. The family’s address is given as 40 Leinster Square in Bayswater. Athelstane’s profession is ‘deputy superintendent of police’.
We know that Margaret (giving her age as 19) and her infant daughter arrived in Montreal from London on the Corinthian as early as 28 September 1912, which might suggest that the split occurred far earlier than declared, possibly when Athelstane returned to India.
Margaret crossed into the USA in November 1916, heading for Los Angeles and giving her home address as Vancouver. Dolores followed, accompanied by Alice Thomas (her grandmother) in March 1917, giving Margaret’s address as a building in Hollywood.
Margaret clearly had aspirations to be a film star. She remarried, to Melville W Brown, a motion picture director, in October 1918, in Yuma County, Arizona.
But newspaper reports show her seeking a divorce from him in 1935. Here she is at the time of that second divorce.
In 1937 she arrived back from a visit to England with Dolores: in the 1940 US census she is described as ‘widowed’.
According to his India Office record, Athelstane joined the Bombay Civil Service in December 1913, so must have returned to India by that date. He is also described as a ‘widower’ on his 1930 marriage record (see below).
According to his India Office record, Athelstane joined the Bombay Civil Service in December 1913, so must have returned to India by that date.
In 1914, presumably on the outbreak of war, he became a second lieutenant in the Indian Army Officer’s Reserve.
He appears in Thackers Indian Directory for 1915 as a probationary district deputy collector in Sattara, in the central division of the Bombay Presidency. The later India Office record says he was appointed a deputy collector in December of that year.
He joined the Royal Artillery later on in the War, though I have not researched his service record, beyond establishing that he served in Mesopotamia.
On 15 September 1916 the London Gazette anoounced his appointment as temporary second lieutenant while serving with the Anglo-Indian Force. It later announced his promotion to temporary lieutenant with effect from 15 March 1918. Then he was briefly promoted to acting captain in November/December 1918 while second in command of his battalion. He completed his service as a temporary lieutenant on 12 April 1919, retaining the rank of lieutenant.
By 1922 he appears to have been a settlement officer, since I found reference to a report he wrote about settlements in the Karjat Taluka within the Ahmednagar District, also part of Central Division.
In 1923 he visited England for six months, arriving on 5 May and departing on 9 November. He travelled alone.
The 1925 edition of Thackers has him as a deputy collector in East Khandesh, once again in the Central Division.
However, the retrospective India Office record says that, from March 1925, he was an Under-secretary at the Bombay Government Offices, serving in that capacity in the general, educational, marine and ecclesiastical departments. One can find online several letters appended to official documents that are signed by him in this capacity.
He was promoted to captain in the Indian army reserve in 1928, but resigned his commission on 4 September 1939.
In 1930 he married again, in Poona, to Eugenie Honora Lynn Stradiot, a 48 year-old widow who had previously wedded Harry Burnett Smith in 1906.
Athelstane’s later career and retirement
Athelstane’s real claim to fame was established in 1931. In February of the preceding year he was appointed provincial superintendent of census operations for Bombay and held that post during the 1931 Indian Census, up to 26 May 1932.
The introduction to the Census says:
‘Mr. Dracup in Bombay had to contend with the most difficult and troublesome situations of all on account of the anti-census campaign in Gujarat. Bombay has a bad reputation for breaking the health of her Census Superintendents. The first Superintendent in 1911 broke down after the enumeration was over and the early death of the 1921 Superintendent must be imputed at any rate in part to the strain of that census. Mr. Dracup managed to carry on till the compilation was almost finished and his reports begun (for the Bombay post involved writing two additional reports, one for the Western India States Agency, the other for the Bombay Cities), but his health could not stand it; he suffered the chagrin of being beaten out the post, and had to make over his material to Mr. Sorley.’
The 1932 Times Bombay Directory shows him living at 24 Bombay Road, Poona while another record places him as collector in the Nashik District Central Division in 1933.
The retrospective record agrees that he was by this time a collector and district magistrate, being confirmed as such in December 1934. But by October 1933 he had transferred to Ahmedabad where he remained until October 1935.
In 1936 Eugenie travelled to England, since there is a record of her embarking for Bombay from Liverpool, giving as her UK address the imposing number 6 Lower Sloane Street in Chelsea.
At some point Athelstane had returned to Sattara, but he was again called on to act as census superintendent in 1941, combining the two posts.
A book called ‘The Census Administration Under the Raj and After’ by S Maheshwari (1996) suggests that the 1941 Census Commissioner, M W M Yeatts, would have preferred someone younger.
He quotes an internal note written by Yeatts:
‘I am bound, however, to put on record that failing Mr Streatfield, I would have preferred, if I had to have a deputy collector, a man below 40 to one over 50, who incidentally will prove much the most expensive of all the provincial officers. This must, I think, be the first occasion on which the same impression on me is that Bombay has served its own purposes rather than the best interests of the census when it suggested an officer within reach of retirement…I have the impression that they are saying good-bye to Dracup without regret.’
A late record of the Fourth All-India Food Conference, which took place in 1943, includes contributions from Athelstane, who is listed as Director of Civil Supplies (Delhi).
But to all intents and purposes he had retired in October 1942. He was awarded an OBE in the 1943 New Year’s Honours List.
On February 20 1945 he arrived in Glasgow with Eugenie to continue his retirement in the UK. The civilian residence register gives his October 1945 address as India House but subsequently he lived for many years in Pamber Heath, North Hampshire, dying there on August 25 1965.
He had been naturalised as a British subject on 13 August 1951.
Eugenie survived him, dying in 1974 in Maida Vale, London.
Here is the genealogical chart of the first, second, third and fourth generations of Indian Dracups as they appear in my family tree (please click to enlarge).
13 thoughts on “Dracups in India: The 3rd and 4th generations”
hi , I was just looking at my family’s genealogy and my great aunt Eugenie Stradiot came up as connected to yours , I know that Eugenie had a daughter called Margery who I met once in the early 1980’s when she lived in Chelsea . I don’t know if this will be useful to your research or not .I was a child when i used to write to Eugenie , and remember when she died as i was 10. I hope this is helpful to you , and if you have any further links relating to the Stradiots it would be helpful as the records I have found so far only go back to Eugene Stradiot who was my Great Grandfather .
Thanks for getting in touch and sorry it has taken me a while to respond. My family tree shows Eugenie married Harry Burnett Smith in November 1906 in Madras. Marjorie Eugenie Smith was born on 15 April 1919 in Bombay and married Douglas Yates Fell (1910-1979) in 1939 in Belgaum, India. I have three daughters: Hilary (b 1941), Virginia (b 1943) and Adrienne (b 1945).
Working backwards I have Eugenie’s parents as Eugene Clement Francois Stradiot (1850-1917) and Honora Hallett Lynn (1852-1899), who were married in 1881 in Madras. I have Honora,s father as William Lynn, but have not researched that line further back. On the other side I have Eugene’s parents as Francois Albert Joseph Stradiot (1820-1868) and Josephine (1813-1891). Francois’s tombstone records him as being born in Hal (Halle), Belgium. I haven’t traced that line further back.
Eugene is described on his marriage as ‘Director of music to the Right Honourable Governor of Madras’. Francois is similarly described on his tombstone as ‘Directeur de Musique du Gouverneur de Madras’. So the son clearly inherited the post from his father.
I haven’t yet included in my tree other descendants of the Stradiot line, so I’d welcome any further details you can provide. Best wishes
re this bit from the offspring of Herbert Percy:
“Beryl Gladys Edith, born in 1900 in Bombay.
Merle Lilian, born in 1903 in Bombay.
Denzil Herbert, born in 1906. The family’s location is given as Colaba Causeway, Bombay.”
I think I knew Beryl and Denzil who are both interred at Centennial Park in South Australia. Beryl died in 1994 and Denzil in 1982. I know little of Beryl and Denzil but I remember them very fondly as they were friends of the family. Denzil was a psychiatrist at Glenside Hospital in Adelaide. The other record of him can be found in some Indian Gazette when he was promoted as an officer in the Army in 1941. I guess he migrated to Adelaide after the war. Beryl had the surname Yates. The cemetery record has her second name as “Dinham”, no “Gladys Edith”. I might follow-up on that.
My best memory was visiting them when I was a child. They lived in separate houses in the Adelaide Hills (neither had a partner) and used to put on very lavish afternoon teas. That was in the 1960s to 70s. My family moved to Canberra in 1974 and that put an end to those wonderful occasions.
Hi Ed, Thanks so much for your memories of Beryl and Denzil, the children of Herbert Percy Dracup and Hope Dwyer. My offline family trees record Denzil’s date of death as June 20 1982, in Mitcham City, Australia, but I didn’t have a date of death for Beryl, or her change of surname (presumably indicating marriage at some point)? I’ve also inserted her new middle name into the entry. Thank you again for sharing. Best wishes,
I’m Richard Dracup born Adelaide 1958 son of Percy and Nephew of Denzil and Beryl. I would like to get some background on my family I was too young to k ow Denzil and Beryl personally. Nice if we can get in touch. Richard
Wonderful research you have done on the Dracup family in India! My mother’s aunt is Hedwig Mehl, who was married first to Harold Leslie, then to Ryder Carrel. Hedwig was a single woman, living in Dresden before meeting Harold. She owned a guesthouse of some sort close to the main train station where she rented rooms. That is where she met Harold. The two married and she went with him to India. But then his health failed only a few years later and he went to England to seek medical treatment and ended up passing away. Hedwig returned to India to tie up some loose ends, probably expecting to ultimately return to Germany, when Ryder asked her to marry him and she ended up staying. The couple never had children and lived in India for many years together. My mother kept in contact with “Tante Hedwig” and “Onkel Ryder” until Hedwig’s death. Ryder outlived her and ended up marrying an Indian woman after that.
I hope you find this helpful! I became interested in the Dracup family after traveling to India in February 2018. Fascinating country and incredible history.
Fairfax, CA, USA
Thanks, Angela, for sharing your memories of Hedwig Mehl and for your positive feedback on my post. I hadn’t been aware that Ryder remarried after Hedwig’s death.
Hello, I have been researching my family history recently and found that Francois Albert Joseph STRADIOT is my great, great, great grandad. His daughter was Mathilde Catherine Albertine Stradiot (who is a sister of Eugene clement francois Stradiot), and she married Charlies Alfred Thomas BALDREY. I know very little about Francois and cannot find any trace of his spouse so this really helps.
Hi Jenna, Glad to be of some small help. I remember researching the Stradiot connection and finding comparatively little of value. Best wishes, Tim.
Hi Jenna, The only information I have in my offline family tree is that Francois was born June 11 1820 in Hal, Belgium; died December 19 1868, Galle, Sri Lanka. His spouse was Josephine, born 1813, died August 17 1891. I didn’t keep a record of the source of that information but would definitely have found it online. Best wishes, Tim
Hello. You mention that a Guy Latham Lutwyche married the widow of Henry Pownall Kirkpatrick, Margaret Ruby Picton Kirkpatrick (nee Morris). He , Major Kirkpatrick, divorced Margaret in 1910 after she had an affair with Captain Lutwyche. Lutwyche married her the following year but never stayed faithful; had two more affairs ending with two more wives divorced by their husbands and fathered three illegitimate children.
I think he probably deserved to be called ‘a cad and a bounder’, don’t you?
I’m Richard Dracup son of Percy and Marjorie Dracup I’d love to meet you I’m hoping to come to the Eagles concert Hyde Park 26.6.2022 if you can hook up I’d love to meet you