Rose Atcherley and her marital difficulties – Part 3

< Back to Part 2.

“In 1890, while in San Francisco we quarrelled because I wanted to go to England. He struck me at that time. He hurried me off to Salinas without permitting me to get proper clothing. He required me to live on a horse ranch in a cabin with no servant. I had to care for my child, then only fourteen months old. I wanted to go back to England and leave him. He made me sign what money I had, from an income of 60 or 80 pounds a year, over to him and when I got to San Francisco I hadn’t sufficient money to pay my way. The doctor followed me and we patched it up. We came back to Honolulu.” — The Honolulu Republican, 20 November 1900.

usa-san-francisco-1890sSan Francisco (1890s), a staging post on the Miners’ trips
between Honolulu and the interior of the USA

The testimony of Rose Miner (née Atcherley), as reported above, is only a partial account of one side of the story of the Miners’ unhappy holiday in the USA. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser’s account of Rose Miner’s allegations expanded a little on the first part of her statement:

The doctor outfitted himself before leaving Honolulu and told his wife she might get her necessary clothing in San Francisco. When they arrived there Dr. Miner insisted on going at once to Salinas, and would not permit his wife to secure suitable dresses. This she considered cruelty. At Salinas they lived in a log cabin on a ranch and Mrs. Miner complained that the doctor would not allow her to procure help, but made her do all the work with the assistance of the nurse, who was supposed to have the care of the little child, Gladys, who was then but 14 months old.

What was the truth of the matter? Passenger lists printed in The Hawaiian Gazette when the Miners’ departed from and returned to Honolulu in 1890 show them leaving with a maid, and coming back with a nurse. Undoubtedly it was the same woman who travelled with the family to Salinas and back, but was she a maid, a nurse, or both?

Doctor Miner’s version of events differed from that of his wife. Although the following, from The Honolulu Republican of 1 December 1900, begins “On going to England,” the context in which it appears indicates that it actually relates to the Salinas saga:

On going to England he bought his clothing here, because it was cheaper for him to do so and bought his wife’s clothing in San Francisco; he paid between $300 and $400 for them. On that occasion he did not strike her, he said. He said Mrs. Miner was never compelled to do any work; this in direct denial of Mrs. Miner’s testimony that she had no servant.

One thing which is not in doubt is that Rose eventually left Salinas and headed to San Francisco, with the intention of returning to England. Frank Miner testified in 1900 that this was one of two occasions when Rose had deserted him. On this particular occasion, she also deserted their baby. For the doctor, recalling these events ten years after they happened was a distressing experience. These paragraphs appeared in The Honolulu Republican of 1 December 1900:

Dr. Miner was on the stand to tell the story of the failure of his marriage. He was telling how he had been summoned from a hunting trip to Cottonwood, California, to his home at Salinas, by a telegram from his wife, saying, “Come home; little V. is very sick.” It seems that “V.” referred to little Gladys, whose real name [actually, her middle name] is Vera. He said he found the little one, then fourteen months old, lying on her stomach, arms and legs extended, pale and emaciated.

Here Dr. Miner broke down, as he did the other day when a witness spoke of the affection that had existed between himself and his child. He wept and appeared to have a mild attack of hysteria. It was a sad scene and to end it Judge Humphreys adjourned his court […]

Rose left Salinas, Frank, and Gladys for San Francisco “being unable to stand the life” according to The Pacific Commercial Advertiser of 20 November 1900. Another newspaper reporting on the Miner divorce hearing stated that witness Mrs A Long “said that when the alleged desertion of the baby took place at Salinas the father and nurse took care of the child.” Doctor Miner testified that he followed his wife to San Francisco “and after a long siege of earnest entreaty induced her to return and resume her maternal duties to the child.”

Having ‘patched up’ their differences, Frank and Rose Miner returned with daughter Gladys to Honolulu and family life probably continued much as it had before. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser of 20 November 1890 announced that Dr Miner had “returned from the Coast on the Australia and has resumed practice at his office and residence, Beretania street”. Among the cases he dealt with which made the local press, was the illness of a Lord Raynham (who Frank treated at the Hawaiian Hotel), and a native Hawaiian woman who had been “shot by a Chinaman” (Frank “extracted the bullet that had lodged rather to the side of her spinal column”).

In June 1892, it was Frank and his family who needed medical attention. They were driving in their horse-drawn buggy one Saturday night when “a native on horseback ran into the buggy, upsetting it. The occupants were thrown violently to the ground. The doctor escaped with a few bruises on the arm and hip, while Mrs. Miner sustained injuries to her arm. The little daughter was badly shaken up. The rider was picked up in an unconscious condition, and was found to have his jaw broken.” I guess the rider needed medical attention too.

hawaii-iolani-palaceIolani Palace as it appears today

Although Frank Miner later claimed that Rose “would not affiliate with Honolulu social circles”, this accusation does not appear to have been entirely true. The doctor and his wife were both on the invitation lists for a lavish fifth wedding anniversary celebration in November 1891, and a state ball at Iolani Palace in March 1892 – this does not necessarily mean that they attended either event of course. They were however present at the Accession Day reception held at Iolani Palace on 29 January 1892, for the names Dr and Mrs F L Miner were written in the register of those who were presented to Her Majesty Queen Liliʻuokalani. (The Queen had succeeded her late brother, Kalākaua, as ruling monarch of the Hawaiian Islands following the King’s death on 20 January 1891.)

The Miners appeared in a list of attendees at another function held at Iolani Palace, later in 1892: a grand ball given by the Queen on 19 August. Also at the ball (held in honour senior French naval personnel from the visiting French Flagship Dubourdieu) were the “Misses Leleo”. One of these young ladies was almost certainly Mary, also known as Mary Kinimaka, who was destined to become Rose Miner’s sister-in-law. I wonder if the paths of Rose and Mary crossed at this grand ball?

The ball was, in the words of The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, an “entire success”. “The interior of the handsome building was decorated and illuminated with wonderful effect. The throne room with its handsome furniture, crystal electric light chandeliers and floral decorations presented a most charming and attractive appearance […] Dancing commenced shortly after 9 o’clock, and what with the handsome costumes worn by the ladies and the uniforms of the naval officers, the scene in the throne room was very pretty. The arrangements were in every respect as perfect as possible […]”.

The days of Honolulu’s royal receptions and balls were numbered however, for the end of the Hawaiian Islands’ monarchy – not to mention their independence – was nigh. The writing had been on the wall for some time.  White people from American and Europe (haoles, in the local lingo), who constituted about 15% of the population, had long since taken control of most of the kingdom’s business interests and wealth. Sugar production, on plantations owned by haole growers, dominated the economy – but for it to thrive, the Hawaiian Islands would have to become a part of the USA.

In 1887 King Kalākaua, under threat of armed force, was compelled to sign what became known as the “Bayonet Constitution”. This stripped the monarch of most of his executive powers. Restrictions on who could vote meant that the Hawaiian Islanders were no longer in control of their own country – a haole-dominated legislature was in charge. However Queen Liliʻuokalani’s accession to the throne in 1891 brought the prospect of a change to this new order. Her Majesty received a petition, signed by two-thirds of the electorate, asking her to rescind the Bayonet Constitution, and she began work on a replacement.

liliuokalaniIn response to this perceived threat, some members of the haole community formed the ‘Annexation Club’ and, with support from the American Minister John L Stevens, began plotting the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani (pictured right). The Queen’s announcement, on 14 January 1893, that she intended to adopt her new Constitution, acted as the plotters’ call to arms. A ‘Committee of Safety’ was formed and a request for the assistance of United States forces, to put down the supposed threat to the lives and property of US citizens, was made. On 16 January 1893 a contingent of US marine forces landed at Honolulu. A new, provisional government was established the next day. The Queen had been deposed.

This change of regime had repercussions for the Miner family. On the plus side, the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Islands appointed Frank to its Board of Health, and then also engaged him as prison physician. On the other side of the coin, the way in which the new government came to power meant that distrust and suspicion were rife, and Frank’s appointment as prison physician was questioned by some. Was he a ‘friend of Government’?

The matter came up for discussion at a meeting of Council on 11 April 1893. In The Pacific Commercial Advertiser’s account of the proceedings, it was stated that “The Attorney-General said he had supposed that Dr. Miner was as good a friend of the Government as any physician here. He thought those who stated the contrary were in error.”

The Council meeting revealed more than just ananswer to the question of Dr Miner’s loyalty. Mr Emmeluth, who had raised the issue of Frank’s appointment, noted that “Dr. Miner had removed himself and family on 17th [March] to Judge Widemann’s.” In reply, “Mr. Tenney said Dr. Miner had been visiting at his house during the late war. His wife was timid and nervous, and so he had taken her at her request to Judge Widemann’s with his child, and came back himself.”

Was Rose’s nervousness behind the other news that came out of the Council meeting, news not only about the Miner family but also Rose’s brother, Dr John Atcherley? “President Dole—I understand that Dr. Miner is going away in a few weeks. Mr. Emmeluth—And I understand he has a brother-in-law waiting to take his place.”

These statements were confirmed in an announcement printed in the Honolulu Evening Bulletin of 19 April 1893: “Dr. F. L. Miner and wife will leave by the steamer Australia. After visiting the World’s Fair they will go to England, for the benefit of Mrs. Miner’s health. The doctor expects to return in three or four months. During his absence his office and practice will be taken by his brother-in-law, Dr. J. Atcherley, L.R.C.P., M.R.C.S., London.”

To be continued.

Picture credits. San Francisco, 1890s: Image from page 604 of Personal Recollections and Observations of General Nelson A. Miles, published 1896; taken from British Library Flickr Photostream, no known copyright restrictions. Iolani Palace: Photo by D Ramey Logan, taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licenceQueen Liliʻuokalani: Digitally restored and colourised version of a public domain work by Mark James Miller, taken from Wikimedia Commons and used under the terms of a Creative Commons licence.


(See also the references for Parts 1 and 2 of this story)

[1] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 20 Nov 1890, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[2] The Hawaiian Gazette, 17 Mar 1891, page 7. Lord Raynham is ill. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[3] The Hawaiian Gazette, 14 Apr 1891, page 7. The native woman, who was shot by a Chinaman … Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[4] Evening Bulletin (Honolulu), 20 Jun 1892, page 3. Street Accident. Copy viewed at
[5] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 10 Nov 1891, page 3. Wooden Wedding. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[6] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 18 Mar 1892, page 4. State Ball. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[7] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 30 Jan 1892, page 3. Accession Day. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[8] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 20 Aug 1892, page 5. State Ball. Copy viewed at
[9] Michael Kioni Dudley, Keoni Kealoha Agard (2002), A History of Dispossession, pages 315 to 320. In: Paul Spickard et al, Pacific Diaspora, Island Peoples in the United States and Across the Pacific. Copy previewed at Google Books.
[10] Daniel S Murphree (ed.) (2012),Native America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia. Page 263. Copy previewed at Google Books.
[11] J Kēhaulani Kauanui (2008), Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity. Page 27. Copy previewed at Google Books.
[12] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 6 Mar 1893, page 4. Official Directory, Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Islands. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[13] The Hawaiian Gazette, 4 Apr 1893, page 9. In The Council. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[14] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 12 Apr 1893, page 2. In The Council. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[15] Evening Bulletin (Honolulu), 19 Apr 1893, page 3. Copy viewed at

Rose Atcherley and her marital difficulties – Part 2

< Back to Part 1

Mrs. Miner’s story was in brief as follows: She married Dr. Miner In Leeds, England, in 1886 and they came to Honolulu within a year. Shortly after their arrival here they had slight tiffs, but the first serious trouble arose out of her going into the office one day while the doctor was treating a patient. He followed her from the office and accused her of prying and spying upon him. He struck her on the head and told her to “Get to — out of here!”—The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 20 November 1900.

I think it would be fair to say that the marriage of Frank Leslie Miner and Rose Atcherley did not get off to the most promising start, and that their relationship remained rocky thereafter. Perhaps the only surprise is that it was not until 1900 that divorce proceedings were initiated (by Rose). Although the local press reported on the court proceedings in detail, those details varied somewhat. For example, The Honolulu Republican’s account of the same evidence described by The Pacific Commercial Advertiser above (plus subsequent altercations) attributed the following words to Rose:

Our first serious trouble was in 1887, in Honolulu, less than a year after our marriage. He was furious over a trifling matter. He told me to go to hell and kicked me. Shortly after this he struck me behind the ear which left a scar that I still have. Another time I was fixing the mosquito screen to our bed and he took exception to something and called me a d–n fool and struck me on the head.

miner-f-l-the-daily-bulletin-14-oct-1889The office / operating room incident must have taken place during or after October 1887, the month in which Dr Miner moved his business (ahead of schedule) to the new family home, the Makee Residence. (The advert, shown right, is from The Daily Bulletin of 14 October that year.) The doctor’s recollection of the events described above was, as might be expected, rather different to his wife’s. His evidence, as recounted by The Honolulu Republican, was as follows:

His wife could not brook the idea of the doctor treating women. She became cold and [repellent]. When he approached her after using [the operating] table she would shriek ‘Don’t kiss me; you can’t kiss me; you have touched that woman; I can’t allow myself to love you,’ and so on. […]

Dr. Miner giving specific acts of violence committed upon him by his wife. Once when he had a woman on the operating table the wife forced her way into the room and he was forced to lead her out and lock the door. He did not swear at her and did not hit her or kick her. He said he never struck her with a bag of money behind the ear, as she has sworn that he did. He denied in toto the mosquito net trouble; did not call her ‘a d–n fool’ and did not strike her on the head.

Whatever the facts about their private troubles may have been, all that the Honolulu public were aware of at the time was that Dr F L Miner was engaged in business as a physician. For example, a little over a month after the Miners arrived in the Kingdom of Hawaii, Frank was one of two doctors who attended to a native Hawaiian named Akahi. A “heap of corrugated iron” had fallen on this unfortunate man, on the afternoon of 28 May 1887, leaving him with a jaw and nose which appeared to be broken and a tongue which hung several inches out of his mouth, while “thick blood streamed freely.” Both medical men decided that the case was hopeless.

An even more distressing case came the doctor’s way in July 1887. A three year old girl, Malie Pahiehie, was sexually abused by Liwai Kawaa, and Dr Miner was called upon to attend to and examine the child, then later give evidence in court. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser took the view that “The details of the affair are unfit for publication”, and I shall follow their lead (although at least one other newspaper of the time did not).

More medical misfortunes followed. In August 1888, “Prince Kunuiakea was roughly handled about midnight of Thursday near the boat landing in some kind of a row”, and “Dr. Miner, who attended him about one o’clock in the morning, found him pretty badly battered.” In July 1889, the superintendent of the Electric Light Station attempted to uncross tangled electric and telephone wires on the roof of the Merchant’s Exchange. The resulting burns to the fingers on his left hand were so bad that Dr Miner had to amputate one of them.

One Monday during the following month (August 1889), between 4 and 5 pm, “Dr. F. L. Miner received a telephone message to proceed at once to the house of Mr. George Wond on Punchbowl street.” On arriving there, Dr Miner found Mr Wond’s seven year old son “covered all over with blood, a small hole over his right eye and nose, another just over the heart, two in the end of his thumb, and his right leg and thigh peppered with holes.” The child claimed that another boy had shot him, but it turned out that he had found a large powder cartridge in the vacated yard next door, which had exploded while he was playing with it. Luckily the wounds were not serious and a reasonably rapid recovery was expected.

In September 1889, Frank attended to Joseph Palau, a member of a detachment of the King’s Guard. During the firing of a salute in honour of the King’s arrival, one of the guns went off prematurely and the charge struck Palau’s hands and chest. Due to the injuries to his fingers, it seemed likely that miner-rose-and-gladys-in-honoluluthis member of the detachment would ultimately have to undergo the detachment two or three of his own members.

Meanwhile, on 15 June 1889, Rose had given birth to a daughter, Gladys Vera Miner (mother and child are pictured left, in Honolulu – for a larger version see Fanny, Jessy, Rose and Lily Atcherley). This might suggest the possibility of improved relations between Dr Miner and his wife. Sadly, testimony given during the couple’s divorce proceedings indicates otherwise:

Mrs. Giles was the nurse to Mrs. Miner when Gladys was born. The father waited on the mother and was kind and considerate. She said Mrs. Miner was fault-finding and disinclined to be pleased with anything Dr. Miner would do for her. […] She said the only thing the doctor insisted on doing was to read a chapter from the Bible one evening. Mrs. Miner objected to this.

Although it seems that things were still dire domestically in 1889, Frank and Rose did attend the social event of October that year in Honolulu. On the night of the 23rd a grand reception and ball was given by King David Kalākaua and Queen Kapiolani at Iolani Palace, in honour of the Prince and Princess of Bourbon and suite (who were visiting the Hawaiian islands).

The reception began at 9 pm, when their Majesties the King and Queen “descended the grand staircase and entering the throne room took their positions on the dais.” They were accompanied by their Royal Highnesses, Princess Liliuokalani and Princess Poomaikelani, their Highnesses, Prince Kawananakoa and Prince Kalanianaole, and several attendants.

Iolani Palace must have presented quite a picture to the visiting  dignitaries and guests. Honolulu’s Daily Bulletin related that: “Every approach to the palace presented a scene of gorgeous resplendence. The illumination of the building and grounds has never been surpassed in style or degree. From basement to battlements on every side the noble pile was profusely hung with rows of colored lanterns […]. These myriad lights were interspersed with the glittering rays from the permanent rose-shaped incandescent lamps on the outer walls. Every door and window poured forth a welcoming glow from the electric crystal chandeliers richly bestowed within. The paths in the grounds were lined, the trees and shrubbery decked, with hundreds of colored lanterns closely ranged in right lines and curves, all with such consummate art as to yield an effect of exquisite harmony to every point of vision.”

hawaii-iolani-palace-kalakaua-on-steps-1882King Kalākaua (centre) with staff on the steps of Iolani Palace, 1882

After the reception, during which the royal visitors, diplomats and Ministers of the Crown, naval officers from the USA and Great Britain, and members of the general public were presented to the King and Queen, came the ball. Once again I will let The Daily Bulletin do the talking: “The throne room in which the dancing was done presented an entrancing spectacular view during the programme. Many of the ladies were richly dressed. The distribution of brilliant military and naval uniforms was in large proportion to the sober evening dress suits of civilians, while many a manly breast bore splendid decorations that scintillated with distinction at every moment. With the specious floor completely occupied a picture of kaleidoscopic beauty, combining the poetry of both motion and color, was displayed whenever the music sounded.”

For Frank Miner, this occasion was an opportunity to socialise with Honolulu’s elite, who no doubt included members of his clientèle, and a chance to escape the troubles of his daily life. Was it the same for Rose? I suspect not. One of the many things made public during her divorce case in 1900 was that Rose had little time for Honolulu or its people. The Honolulu Republican of 24 November 1900 observed that “Mrs. Miner showed a decided repugnance to Honolulu.” Earlier in November, before the court hearings began, Dr Frank Miner went much further:

The doctor, in his own answer, takes the Honolulu people into his confidence enough to let it be known that his wife does not like them a little bit. He says he has worked many years to build up a practice here but his wife has persistently tried to get him to leave Honolulu for good and all and to take her to England. He says she thinks the people of this city are not fit to associate with her. Hating them and the place as she does, she keeps him in hot water about leaving.

In 1890 the Miners did leave Honolulu, though only for a few months. On 24 August that year, “Dr F L Miner, wife, child and maid” were among the passengers departing “For San Francisco per R M S Alameda”. They arrived back at Honolulu, as passengers of the S S Australia, on 14 November. On the day following their return, The Pacific Commercial Advertiser reported that: “Dr. and Mrs. F. L. Miner have returned from their three months trip to the States, greatly benefited from the change.”

In reality, the Miners’ sojourn in the States had been one of the lowest of the many low points in the couple’s troubled marriage.

> On to Part 3.

Picture credits. Notice in The Daily Bulletin, 14 Oct 1887: Taken from page image at Chronicling America, no known copyright restrictions. Rose Miner, née Atcherley, and Gladys Vera Miner: Digitally restored image based on a scanned photograph kindly provided by Barbara Lang. Iolani Palace: Photo by D Ramey Logan, taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licenceKing Kalākaua with staff on the steps of Iolani Palace, 1882: Public domain image taken from Wikimedia Commons.


[1] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 20 Nov 1900, page 7. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[2] The Honolulu Republican, 20 Nov 1900, pages 1 and 6. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[3] The Daily Bulletin, 14 Oct 1887, page 1. Dr Miner Physician and Surgeon. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[4] The Daily Bulletin, 28 May 1887, page 3. A Hopeless Case. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[5] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 12 Jul 1887, page 3. A Brutal Outrage. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[6] The Daily Herald (Honolulu), 20 Jul 1887, page 3. The Outrage case. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[7] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 25 Aug 1888, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[8] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 27 Jul 1889, page 3. Electric Light Dangers. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[9] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 7 Aug 1889, page 3. A Dangerous Plaything. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[10] The Daily Bulletin, 17 Sep 1889, page 3. Accident at Kakaako. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[11] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 17 Jun 1889, page 3. (Birth notice.) Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[12] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 24 Oct 1889, page 3. Grand Royal Ball. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[13] The Honolulu Republican, 24 Nov 1900, pages 1 and 8. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[14] The Honolulu Republican, 17 Nov 1900, page 1. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[15] The Hawaiian Gazette, 26 Aug 1890, page 10. Shipping Intelligence. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[16] The Hawaiian Gazette, 18 Nov 1890, page 12. Shipping Intelligence. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[17] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 15 Nov 1890, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.

Rose Atcherley and her marital difficulties – Part 1

Rose Miner - Honolulu Republican, 20 Nov 1900Quote Mrs. Rose Miner told a long story of cruelty yesterday in the circuit court. According to her statements, and in part those of several witnesses, Dr. Miner, whom she is suing for divorce, has treated her in a most inhuman manner, kicking and beating her as he would a beast and using vile and unpalatable language privately and publicly. She says she fears him, that he has threatened to kill her, and that he has beaten their daughter in a most brutal manner. Unquote – The Honolulu Republican, 20 November 1900.

So began the legal battle between Rose Miner (née Atcherley) and her husband Frank, which lasted for just under three weeks and was accompanied throughout by detailed reports in the local press. It was, I guess, the ‘celebrity divorce’ case of its time and place, The Honolulu Republican noting that “it attracted attention because of the prominence of the parties to the suit.” The paper asserted that it was “the hardest fought divorce case in the records of the Circuit court of Hawaii” which had “in many ways […] become a cause celebre in the history of judicial procedure” in the Territory. It was “replete with sensational features and dramatic incidents.”

What is it about the relationship difficulties of others that excites the interest of so many people? Having been through an unpleasant relationship break-up myself, I see such events as a sad chapter in the lives of those involved. As a family historian however, I also see them as part of the wider story of our ancestors: not something to gloss over or ignore, but equally not something to sensationalise or revel in. The events were a consequence of what went before, and they shaped what came after, so it is important to look at these episodes in the lives of people past as part of the bigger picture (and also to treat the subject matter with sensitivity). It is in this spirit that I will tell the story of Rose Atcherley and Frank Leslie Miner. The quotes which follow, interspersing my own narrative, come from newspaper coverage of the Miners’ divorce case.

Mrs. Miner took the stand at 3:45 p.m. She is a typical English brunette, not uncomely, rather small in stature. Her face is sad and she speaks with reserve but with quiet frankness. …

Moving swiftly on from the The Honolulu Republican’s verdict on her ‘comeliness’, Rose Miner was small in stature: passenger lists in 1915 and 1933 recorded her height as 5 feet and either 2, 3 or 3½ inches. The same lists show that her eyes were grey, as was her hair – but now we know that before she greyed, Mrs Miner was a brunette. And of course, an English Rose.

Rose Miner was born, as Rose Atcherley, in Manchester, Lancashire, in May 1861. According to a short biography of her husband, Rose was the daughter of a “wealthy Manchester merchant” – a reference to John Atcherley, a silk mercer, who left a personal estate valued at “under £30,000” when he died in 1880. John’s wife, Rose’s mother, was Sarah, née Barkley.

Rose’s early education was with the Jebb sisters, Anne, Martha and Fanny, at the latter’s private school in Ellesmere, Shropshire. The 1871 census shows Rose Atcherley, her younger sister Lily, and 16 other girls aged from 7 to 17 as scholars at the Jebbs’ school, which was also staffed by a German governess and a housemaid. One of the other pupils, Mary Wall, was a third cousin once removed of the Atcherley sisters – I wonder if they knew? One thing I’m sure the Atcherley girls were aware of is that the Jebbs were their relatives, second cousins in fact.

Later, Rose studied music at Stuttgart in Germany, which might explain why I have not found her on the 1881 census of England and Wales. On 12 February 1886, Rose wrote a letter to her friend Charlotte Ainslie, describing a concert at which she “heard Professor Bruckner play with the orchestra”. She went on to say that Bruckner was “the first professor at the conservatorium now.” It was while she was studying at Stuttgart that Rose Atcherley met her future husband.

The witness said his name was Frank Leslie Miner, that he was born in Vermont and is 46 years old. He is a physician and surgeon, being a graduate of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, where he took a four year course. He was a practicing physician and surgeon when he first came here In 1878. He left here in the spring of 1880. He went hence to Canada to visit his parents, remaining there two years, resting and trying to regain his health. He then went to London, where he had been before, to work in the hospitals, to study medicine and surgery there. He continued there one year. Left London a second time, going to Heidelberg, Germany, to take up microscopy. Including vacations he remained there three and a half years. He took in the colleges and incidentally acquired a knowledge of the German language. On leaving Heidelberg he went to Vienna to do bedside work. Thence he returned to Heidelberg and London, in the latter city taking the degrees of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. While in England he was married at Leeds, in 1886, near which place his wife’s mother resides. After the wedding they went to Liverpool, where they remained one night sailing thence for Boston, the following day.

It appears that the marriage of Frank Miner and Rose Atcherley took place in a non-conformist church or chapel, or perhaps a Register Office, in Leeds, in the third quarter of 1886. It also seems to have been a low-key affair, as I have yet to find any newspaper announcements or notices relating to it. Neither do I have a record of the newlyweds’ departure from Liverpool, but that is because the passenger lists held by The National Archives begin in 1890. Fortunately, surviving records of passengers arriving on the other side of the Atlantic go back earlier than this.

Ship - Scythia

The passenger list for the Scythia (pictured above), arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 1 October 1886 from Liverpool, England included Frank Miner, 32, physician, native of Canada, and his wife Mrs Miner, 32, native of England. The intended destination for the Miners was Canada, and they were travelling with 19 pieces of baggage.

This information led me to a newspaper advertisement for the Cunard Line’s Royal Mail steamers in the Liverpool Mercury of 16 Sep 1886: the Scythia, under Captain Roberts, was due to depart for Boston on Tuesday 21 September. Prospective passengers were reassured: “With the view of diminishing the chances of collision, the Steamers of this line take specified courses according to the season of the year.”

Another newspaper, the Aberdeen Journal, shows that the Scythia called at Queenstown (nowadays Cobh), Ireland, on Wednesday 22 September, stopping there for an hour an half to pick up “passengers, despatches, &c.” before resuming its Atlantic voyage. Frank Miner would later testify that it was on this journey that the first hint of trouble between husband and wife arose.

The bickerings began early, the first outbreak, according to the doctor, occurring on the steamer as soon as the sea sickness had worn off, the third or fourth day out. The doctor said he asked his wife to play the piano, as he knew she could play two or three pieces very well, though he didn’t know anything about her musical accomplishments beyond that. She simply looked up cold and hard, throwing up her head and glaring at him. She said she couldn’t play, wouldn’t play and didn’t play. He brought all the persuasion of a newly married man to bear on her, but in vain and he was cruelly hurt. […] There were no other unpleasant scenes on the way over and the landing in Boston was safely made.

The short biography of Frank Miner, which I referred to earlier, states that after Frank and Rose sailed to America “the young couple spent the winter of 1886-1887 visiting friends in Canada and New England.” Both friends and family of the doctor were on the newlyweds’ itinerary: there were visits to a cousin, to the Montreal ice palace, and finally to Frank Miner’s father, when at least one social gathering was held. It appears that for the new Mrs Miner, these experiences were endured rather than enjoyed, and it is unlikely that she made any new friends. One report of the evidence given in court by Frank Miner, relating to this period, suggested that the further north the couple went, the colder it got – “atmospherically and conjugally.” The prospect of a move much warmer climes seemingly did little to thaw the frosty relations however.

Though it had been understood before the marriage that they were to come to Honolulu, she insisted on returning to England when the time to move came and it was only after long persuasion he induced her to come. He would not return to England because it was an old country, holding out no prospects for a man. Besides his health had failed there twice and here he knew he had a good opening.

Then came the trip here, a deal with Dr. Brodie, a chum and college mate, whose practice he was about to acquire…

The Miners arrived at Honolulu, aboard the S S Alameda from San Francisco, on Saturday 16 April 1887. It was soon announced in the local press that Dr Miner, who was well known in Honolulu as a prominent physician, would take charge of the practice of Dr John Brodie, “during the latter’s absence in the States for the benefit of his health.” About a fortnight later, a “fine bay horse” arrived for Frank, aboard the brigantine Consuelo.

F L Miner - Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 1 Jun 1887

From 28 May 1887, notices began appearing the Honolulu newspapers, advertising that “Dr. F. L. Miner will be at the office of Dr. Brodie until November 1st, when he will take possession of the Makee residence.” This building was a “fine residence on the corner of Beretania and Union streets”. Frank’s plan was to make “some few changes” before moving in to the house, “a portion of which will be devoted to his dispensary and consulting rooms.” The Hawaiian Gazette was of the opinion that “Dr. Miner has been particularly fortunate in securing this centrally located and well built edifice for a residence and the practice of his profession.” If Frank shared this view at the time, he would later change his mind.

[The] scene shifted to the house now occupied as a residence by the Miners. They occupied it in a hurry and it was fitted up in a hurry. Mrs. Miner seemed especially hostile to the operating table. Indeed, the doctor says that operating room has been the ghost in the family closet that never would [lie] down; that he has suffered from it ever since it was established.

> On to Part 2

Picture credits. Headlines from page 1 of The Honolulu Republican, 20 Nov 1900: Taken from page image at Chronicling America, no known copyright restrictions. S S Scythia: Image from Norway-Heritage website; use permitted for non-profit purposes including personal web pages provided credit and a return link are given. Notice in The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 1 June 1887: Taken from page image at Chronicling America, no known copyright restrictions.


[1] The Honolulu Republican, 20 Nov 1900, page 1. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[2] The Honolulu Republican, 7 Dec 1900, page 1. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[3] List of alien passengers applying for admission to the United States at the port of Montreal, Canada in 1915, entry for Rose Miner. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956.
[4] List of alien passengers applying for admission to the United States at the port of Montreal, Canada in January 1915, entry for Rose Miner. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956.
[5] Passenger list for the Lady Nelson, arriving Boston, USA 10 Apr 1933, entry for Rose Miner. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943.
[6] Birth of Rose Atcherley registered at Manchester, September quarter 1861; volume 8d, page 217.
[7] United States Census, 1900. Census Place: Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii Territory. Enumeration District: 16. Page: 2B. Head: Frank L Miner, born Jul 1854, Vermont, parents born Canada; age 45, married 13 years, immigrated to HI 1878. Wife: Rose A Miner, born May 1861, England, parents b. England; age 39, immigrated to HI 1887. Dau: Gladys Miner, born Jun 1889, Hawaiian Islands.
[8] Hawaii Medical Journal, 1956. Copy viewed at Mamiya Medical Heritage Centre website (page no longer online but archived at
[9] National Probate Calendar (1880), entry for John Atcherley. Copy viewed at Ancestry.
[10] Marriage of John Atcherley and Sarah Barkley registered at Bradford, December quarter 1849; volume 23, page 336.
[11] 1871 census of England and Wales. Piece 2788, folio 7, page 8.
[12] Steve Jackson (2016), Atcherley family tree v5 (RootsMagic file).
[13] National Records of Scotland item GD374/15: Letters to Charlotte E. Ainslie from friends in Germany, France and Switzerland, 12 Feb 1886 – 28 May 1887 (18 items).
[14] The Honolulu Republican, 1 Dec 1900, pages 1 and 8. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[15] Marriage of Frank Leslie Miner and Rose Atcherley registered at Leeds, September quarter 1886; volume 9b, page 748.
[16] Yorkshire BMD website (marriage index) shows marriage of Frank L Miner and Rose Atcherley at Leeds Registered Building (ref RB/88/132), 1886.
[17] Passenger list for the Scythia, arriving Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 1 Oct 1886, entries for Frank Miner and Mrs Miner. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943.
[18] Liverpool Mercury, 16 Sep 1886, page 8. The Cunard Line. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[19] Cobh, The Queenstown Story (website, accessed 28 Sep 2016).
[20] The Daily Herald (Honolulu), 18 Apr 1887, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[21] The Hawaiian Gazette, 19 Apr 1887, page 5. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[22] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 18 Apr 1887, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[23] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 29 Apr 1887, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[24] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 30 Apr 1887, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.

Major Llewellyn Atcherley and the elusive suffragette – Part 2

< Back to Major Llewellyn Atcherley and the elusive suffragette – Part 1

“For the fourth time during the course of her vivid career of militancy Lilian Lenton, the elusive suffragette, has escaped from the police.” So began a report in the Liverpool Echo of 20 May 1914. It was true – Llewellyn Atcherley had lost the elusive Lilian. I have a feeling that he had some harsh words for the Harrogate policemen, who were under his command.

HM Prison Leeds (Armley Gaol), old gateArmley Gaol (nowadays HM Prison Leeds), from where Lilian Lenton
was twice released under the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act

The Liverpool Echo’s report continued:

In accordance with the terms of the licence under which she was released from Armley Gaol, the police entered the “boarding-house” in Harlow Moor-drive, Harrogate, and found that the woman they had gone to re-arrest was not in the house.

The knock of the superintendent was answered by a maid, who brought Mrs. Cohen to the door. She smiled affably at the officers and said, “She’s gone!” The police then went inside the house and satisfied themselves that this was indeed the case.

The maid shortly afterwards frisked down the yard, and triumphantly flourishing her hand, hurled the petty taunt at the detectives outside. “Too late!” she jeered; “too late!” There was nothing more to do but to withdraw the guard of police.

Thus the suffragettes again get the laugh, and it is safe to say that the prowess of the “elusive Lenton” will be vaunted at the meetings of the militants. Miss Grew, the W.S.P.U. organiser, said the other day that it was a “sporting and interesting situation.” Lenton was the mouse and the police the cats.

When the disappointing issue of the week’s vigil was known, a Harrogate suffragette elaborated the sporting theory. “We can beat the police every time,” she declared. “The British bobby is a phlegmatic being who is tied by red-tape to such an extent that he has neither ingenuity nor originality left. Even with Major Atcherley’s aid, you see, they could not keep the little lady in Harrogate, and if the whole Leeds detective force had been called in to assist they would not have done any better.”

So how did Lilian Lenton disappear from the Pomona Food Reform Boarding House, run by fellow suffragist Leonora Cohen, under the noses of the waiting police? At the time, many believed that Lilian ‘did a runner’ during an elaborate performance which took place on the evening of Saturday 16 May (the modern-day equivalent of which might be the scramble scene in the film 2Fast 2Furious). According to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner:

Saturday night’s operation were conducted with great swiftness, and it is believed that they were a complete success.

Between nine and ten o’clock some forty or fifty men and women, the women being heavily veiled and the men with coat collars turned up and hats well down to hide their faces, suddenly sprang up on both sides of the house, into which they entered. [Note: Other reports only mention veiled women.] The police immediately telephoned for fresh officers to be sent, but before this could be done the lights suddenly went out in the house and the men and women emerged from the front door.


They dashed through the iron gates and onto the road, and then spread in all directions so as to confuse the officers. Some went up the hill and others down, and others went across the moors, which are just opposite the house.

It is believed that Miss Lenton was one of the party who dashed over the moors. It would be an easy matter for her to escape in a motor-car, as the moors give access to the road on three sides. All was confusion at the time, and the detectives were powerless, as they could not tell which party to follow. The confusion was made worse by the forty or fifty people spreading out.

Houses on Harlow Moor Drive, on a foggy day in 2012

Houses on Harlow Moor Drive, on a foggy day in 2012

The Yorkshire Post also told the story of Lilian’s vanishing act, but the following words appeared in brackets at the end: “We have reason for thinking she escaped earlier. Ed. Y.P.” The editor of the Yorkshire Post was correct. The scramble at Harlow Moor Drive had been put on merely to keep the police guessing – Lilian had already made her exit.

Accounts vary as to how and when the elusive suffragette was spirited away. Lilian herself said she went the day after she was taken to Leonora Cohen’s house. However the website How the vote was won states: “Over the next few days [after Lilian’s arrival], Leonora nursed Lilian back to health, and when she was strong enough, young Reg loaned her some of his clothes so she could disguise herself as a boy. Not wanting to take the risk of going out by the front door, even in disguise, Lilian went down to the cellar and crawled up the coal chute, and escaped through the back garden, thus eluding the police once more.”

“Miss Lenton Escapes. Police Again Outwitted by Young Suffragist”, ran the headline of a report in the Manchester Courier of 20 May 1914. The opening words of an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post the previous day were: “The comedy of the Harrogate boarding-house is over.” The bird had flown, leaving Chief Constable Llewellyn Atcherley and the policemen of Harrogate with egg all over their faces.

The opportunity to crack jokes at Llewellyn’s expense was, for some, irresistible – and not just those in the women’s suffrage movement. Alderman Hardacre, of the West Riding County Council, made the most of an opportunity presented at a meeting of the West Riding Standing Joint Committee held at Wakefield on 17 June 1914. The Leeds Mercury’s account of the committee’s proceedings included the following:

Upon a recommendation being submitted acceding to the application of the Harrogate Town Council for the appointment of a supernumerary constable to “protect public buildings” at their cost,

Ald. Hardacre asked: Is this in consequence of the raiding of the Suffragettes. (Laughter.)

The Chief Constable (Major Atcherley): No, it is not in consequence of that.

Ald. Hardacre: Then is it to try and catch the lady who escaped? (More laughter.)

Reginald McKennaSeven weeks later, Britain was officially at war with Germany and everything changed. On 10 August 1914, the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union), of which Lilian Lenton was such a prominent member, declared a cessation of militancy. On the same day the Home Secretary, Reginald McKenna (pictured left), announced in Parliament that he had “advised His Majesty to remit the sentence on all persons now in prison for crimes connected with the suffragette movement.”

Clarification of the nature of the amnesty for suffragettes was soon needed, following the re-arrest of a suffragette in Newcastle on the grounds that “she had no paper to produce.” A Home Office letter, stating that “the continued freedom of the Suffragist prisoners under the ‘Cat-and-Mouse’ Act, depended on the pleasure of the Home Secretary,” caused further dismay. For the WSPU there was only one way to deal with this situation – the Home Secretary had to be confronted.

A WSPU delegation, which included Lilian Lenton, descended on the Home Office on 27 August 1914 and demanded to see the Mr McKenna. Their purpose was “to obtain from the Home Secretary for themselves and all under the ‘Cat-and-Mouse’ Act, papers granting them the unconditional release, which [was] theirs under the King’s amnesty.” Receiving no reply to their demand, the suffragettes announced that they would wait until they got one, whereupon they were arrested and taken to Cannon Row Police Station. No charges were brought however, and it seems that the matter was later resolved, with all prisoners (including those on temporary release or awaiting trial) benefiting from the amnesty.

As the Great War raged on, more and more women – including suffragettes – became involved in war work (a fact which may have contributed to the Representation of the People Act 1918 being passed, giving the vote to about 8.4 million women over the age of 30; the vote was also extended to all men over 21).

Among the suffragettes who played their part was Lilian Lenton, although it was not until 1918 that she got involved (I think it is possible that she applied to help with nursing duties but was rejected because of her reputation as one of the more militant suffragettes). It appears that during the early years of the war, Lilian remained in London and was involved with the socialist organisation The Herald League. She was billed to appear (describing herself as “just a dancer”) at a concert arranged for 6 Feb 1915 by the League’s Bow branch, as a member of the “Merrymaids Concert Party”. In 1918 however, Lilian became an orderly with a Scottish Women’s Hospital (SWH) Unit in the Balkans. For her work she received a French Red Cross medal. (Lilian continued to devote herself to humanitarian and women’s causes after the war.)

The Great War also brought changes, and medals, for Major Llewellyn Atcherley (whose reputation as Chief Constable of the West Riding was secure despite the embarrassment of losing Lilian Lenton). Returning to the British Army almost as soon as Britain entered the war, Llewellyn was to take on a role which would earn him a new nickname: the “Pots and Pans General”.

> On to Llewellyn Atcherley’s World War One

Picture credits. HM Prison Leeds (Armley Gaol), old gate: Photo by ‘Prisoninfo’, taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for reuse, under a Creative Commons licence. Harlow Moor Drive: Image © Copyright Chris Heaton, taken from Geograph and adapted, used, and made available for reuse, under a Creative Commons licence. Reginald McKenna: Modified version of image ggbain-36347 at Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, no known restrictions on publication.


(See also the references for Part 1 of this story)

[1] Liverpool Echo, 20 May 1914, page 6. “Too Late.” Lilian Lenton Again Escapes the Police.
[2] Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 18 May 1914, page 1. Mystery of Miss Lenton.
[3] Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 20 May 1914, page 7. Lilian Lenton Disappears.
[4] Leonora Cohen. At: How the vote was won (website, accessed 22 Sep 2016).
[5] Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 20 May 1914, page 10.
[6] Yorkshire Evening Post, 19 May 1914, page 7. Lilian Lenton Escapes From Harrogate.
[7] Leeds Mercury, 18 Jun 1914, page 3. “Holy Unrest.”
[8] Elizabeth Crawford (2001),The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928. Copy previewed at Google Books.
[9] Leeds Mercury, 11 Aug 1914, page 3. Suffragette Amnesty.
[10] Daily Herald, 28 Aug 1914, page 7. Why They Did It. Amnesty Not In Real Operation.
[11] Suffragette. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 23 Sep 2016).
[12] Women and the First World War. At: The National Archives website (accessed 23 Sep 2016).
[13] The Herald, 23 Jan 1915, page 17.
[14] Jill Liddington (2002), Lilian Lenton (1891 – 1972). At: (accessed 23 Sep 2016).
[15] Jill Liddington (2011), Britain in the Balkans: The Response of the Scottish Women’s Hospital Units. In: Ingrid Sharp, Matthew Stibbe (eds.), Aftermaths of War: Women’s Movements and Female Activists, 1918-1923, page 395 et seq. Previewed at Google Books.
[16] Lilian Lenton. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 23 Sep 2016).
[17] Leeds Mercury, 6 Aug 1919, page 5. “Pots and Pans General.”

Major Llewellyn Atcherley and the elusive suffragette – Part 1

“I think that my speciality was escapes. That is, escapes from the houses to which I had been taken when released under this Cat and Mouse Act. These houses were surrounded by detectives, whose job it was to prevent my getting out before the day on which the police would have the right to come and take me back to prison.” — Lilian Lenton, speaking on BBC Radio, 1960.

Lilian LentonI’ll be upfront and confess right now that Llewellyn Atcherley features only fleetingly in this story. He had a part to play however, and I think the tale of one of his last major cases (as Chief Constable of the West Riding) before the Great War broke out, is one worth telling. The central character, the ‘elusive suffragette’ as she was known, was Lilian Lenton (pictured left, around 1912).

Born on 5 January 1891 in Leicester, Lilian was the daughter of carpenter and joiner Isaac Lenton and his wife Mahalah. According to Jill Liddington, writing in Rebel Girls: “The eldest of at least five children, she grew up amid Leicester’s shoemakers and hosiery workers. Lilian was slim, lithe and striking; and, with what must have needed considerable determination for a working-class girl, she avoided dressmaking or shop-work. Instead she trained for a career as a dancer.”

During the Winter of 1911-12, the direction of Lilian’s life was changed when she heard Emeline Pankhurst speak at a meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Lilian later said: “I made my mind up that night that as soon as I was twenty-one and my own boss and that I’d got through these examinations I would volunteer.” Within three months of her 21st birthday, Lilian was taking part in a WSPU window-smashing raid, for which she was arrested and later sentenced to two months imprisonment.

Thanks to her exploits, which escalated from window-smashing to burning empty buildings, Lilian quickly made a name for herself. In fact, she made several names for herself. A Home Office list of suffragettes who had been arrested recorded Lilian as “Lenton Lilian or Ida Inkley or Unknown Woman 249 or May Dennis”. It also listed five occasions on which she had been arrested: 5 March 1912 (at Marlborough Street, as Inkley), 20 February 1913 (at Richmond, as Lenton), 10 June 1913 (at Doncaster, as Dennis), 9 October 1913 (at Richmond, as Lenton), and finally 22 December 1913 (at Cheltenham, as Unknown). As we shall see, there is one arrest missing from this list.

Following her arrest on 20 February 1913, for burning down the tea pavilion at Kew Gardens, Lilian was remanded in custody and sent to Holloway prison. In protest at being denied bail, Lilian went on hunger strike. The last thing the authorities wanted was to be blamed for the death of a suffragette: force feeding was the response to those refusing food when in prison. The first attempt to force prison gruel into Lilian Lenton however was very nearly a disaster – the pipe was in error pushed down into her trachea and the food went into her left lung. The outcome was septic pneumonia for Lilian, and panic for the prison governor and the Home Secretary.

There was little option but to release Lilian, so that she could recover. Having done so, she disappeared from the house to which she had been taken – her first escape, and not her last.

Cat and Mouse Act posterThe risks involved in force-feeding uncooperative suffragettes in prison, as illustrated by the close call with Lilian Lenton, led to the passing later in 1913 of the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act. This measure permitted the temporary release of a prisoner whose life was endangered by hunger striking, only for them to be returned to prison once the danger was over. The police would keep a close watch on the released prisoner’s place of residence during their recuperation, in case an attempt was made to ‘disappear’. The legislation became known as the Cat and Mouse Act, and Lilian Lenton went on to become a mouse who made a habit of escaping from the waiting, blue-uniformed cats.

Lilian’s most celebrated escape was undoubtedly that which followed her release, under the ‘Cat and Mouse Act,’ on 17 June 1913. The Nottingham Evening Post of 21 June 1913 reported:

It was a bold plan which enabled Miss Lenton, the suffragist, to escape from the Leeds police […]. When she was liberated from Armley Gaol on licence on Tuesday morning, she was driven to a private house and at once put to bed, as she was extremely weak, after a fast of nearly nine days. A number of detectives surrounded the house.

In a few hours a grocer’s van drove up to the back door, and the call of “groceries” having been shouted, the van “boy,” who really was a young woman, got down from the van and carried a basket into the house. Soon afterwards the “boy” returned to the van, which was then driven off. But Miss Lenton was the “boy,” and sitting in [the] front of the van she safely passed the detectives.

votes-for-womenAs we have seen, Lilian was eventually rearrested (or, as the Manchester Courier put it, “Brought to Bay at Last”) in October 1913. Released once more on licence, Lilian naturally vanished again. But not for long. The police caught up with the elusive suffragette in December. You can guess what happened next.

Lilian remained at liberty for rather longer this time, but was eventually recognised and arrested in Birkenhead on 4 May 1914. She was taken to Leeds to face trial for an alleged offence committed at Doncaster. Disorderly scenes at Leeds Assizes on 8 May were summed up by the Sheffield Evening Telegraph with the following headlines:

Lilian Lenton Gets Twelve Months at Assizes.

Lilian was back inside, but prison food was off the menu. She was released on licence on 12 May – and found herself under the watchful eyes of Llewellyn Atcherley’s West Riding Police. The Yorkshire Evening Post of 15 May 1914 takes up the story:


There is a sporting interest Miss Lilian Lenton’a visit to Harrogate from Armley Gaol. When she was removed there in a taxi-cab, we chronicled the fact that in a Leeds club the betting was evens that the Suffragette got away from police supervision in a week if she stayed in Leeds, and ten to 1 on her getting away if she were located in Harrogate.

It is said that this bet has nettled the Harrogate police, and they are determined that so long as they are charged with the watching of her the little Suffragette shall not escape. But there is more than that behind the extraordinarily close watch set on the Pomona Food Reform Boarding-house in Harlow Moor Drive.

The Government would like to keep a hand on Miss Lenton. She is one of the very few who have defied the Cat and Mouse Act, and only this resourceful girl and her friends know what incendiarism she has been responsible for while at liberty since her arrest at Doncaster, and her subsequent release on licence some months ago. Major Atcherley, the stalwart Chief Constable of the West Riding, the very last man who likes to be beaten at anything he takes a hand in, has been to Harrogate to see the arrangements for watching the house.

Acetylene motor-car lamps are trained on the house back and front during the hours of darkness, and four police-officers are engaged day and night scrutinising everybody who leaves the house. A motor-car is at call ready to follow any vehicle that may be employed by Miss Lenton’s friends, and at first blush it looks like the Leeds better losing his wager.


But opinion at Harrogate does not wholly favour the idea that the bet will be lost. It is assumed that Miss Lenton is still in the house. One of our representatives, writing from Harrogate this afternoon, says the police are confident that the “bird is still in the cage.”

It would be an unpleasant shock to them to learn that the cage is already empty, and our representative, while without definite information, thinks this is within the bounds of possibility.

As has been stated previously, the house has been visited by numerous females, from old ladies with white hair, dressed soberly in black and bonnets, to fair young damsels dressed in the height of fashion. Everyone of these persons has been most closely scrutinised. Nevertheless one important fact has to be taken into account, and reporter learned of it to-day. It is this: Not a single Harrogate police-officer saw Lilian Lenton enter the house when she arrived from Armley. True, they are supplied with photographs, but looking at a photograph and looking at the original are two vastly different things—especially if the original be cleverly disguised, as it is within the capacity of Lilian Lenton to disguise herself.

As a matter of fact, when she arrived at Pomona House, followed by two Leeds detective officers, there [were] no Harrogate officers to await her. The young lady quickly dismounted from the cab, and just as quickly one of the Leeds officers ran round to the back door to see that Miss Lenton did not walk in one door and out of the other. It is safe to say that she did not do so, nevertheless, none of the Harrogate officers now watching have seen Miss Lenton in the flesh.

Who would win the battle of wits between Lilian and Llewellyn?

> On to Major Llewellyn Atcherley and the elusive suffragette – Part 2

Picture credits. Lilian Lenton: Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons. Cat and Mouse Act poster (1914): Public domain image from Wikimedia CommonsAnnie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst with Votes for Women placard: Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.


[1] Lilian Lenton (1960), interview with BBC radio. Listened to at BBC Archive.
[2] Death of Lilian Ida Lenton registered at Hounslow, December quarter 1972; volume 5c, page 1476; date of birth given as 5 Jan 1891. Indexed at FamilySearch.
[3] 1891 census of England and Wales. Piece 2525, folio 167, page 25. 14 East Goscote Street, Leicester, Leicestershire, England. Head: Isaac Lenton, 24, Carpenter & Joiner, born Deeping St James, Lincolnshire. Wife: Mahalah Lenton, 26, born Leicester, Leicestershire. Daughter: Lilian Ida Lenton, 3 months, born Leicester, Leicestershire.
[4] Jill Liddington (2015), Rebel Girls: How votes for women changed Edwardian lives. Copy previewed at Google Books.
[5] The National Archives, Kew, Suffragettes: Amnesty of August 1914: Index of Women Arrested, 1906-1914. Class HO 45, Piece 24665. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England, Suffragettes Arrested, 1906-1914.
[6] 1913 Cat and Mouse Act. At: (website, accessed 22 Sep 2016).
[7] Nottingham Evening Post, 21 Jun 1913, page 5. Suffragist as Grocer’s “Boy.”
[8] Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 9 Oct 1913, page 10. Lady Dick Turpin.
[9] Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 26 Nov 1913, page 11.
[10] Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 6 May 1914, page 8. Lilian Lenton Brought to Leeds.
[11] Derby Daily Telegraph, 12 May 1914, page 3. The Suffragists.
[12] Yorkshire Evening Post, 15 May 1914, page 7.

The ups and downs of the last Atcherleys of Stanwardine

As the fifth of six sons born to Thomas and Hannah Atcherley of Stanwardine in the Fields, Edward was not destined to inherit property and continue the family farm. Ultimately, however, Edward did farm at Stanwardine, and among his own children were the last members of the Atcherley family to live and die there. This story follows the family’s fortunes.

Baschurch All Saints

Edward Atcherley was baptised at Baschurch All Saints (picture above dated about 1803) on 21 October 1781. His father Thomas had married late in life (see Love and Marriage (Settlement)) and was 56 years old when Edward was born; he would go on to father another child at the age of 59. Thomas died at the age of 71 on 7 April 1796, when Edward was 14, having made various bequests in his last will and testament including £400 to be paid to Edward when he reached the age of 21.

Thomas had also taken steps to ensure that Edward could supplement his legacy with earnings from a trade. On 25 February 1796 an indenture was made binding Edward Atcherley to serve William Griffiths of Wem, a “Mercer &c.”, as an apprentice. This apprenticeship, which cost £63, lasted for seven years, which meant that by the time it ended in February 1803 Edward was 21 and entitled to receive his £400 legacy. I have found no evidence to show that he then became a mercer. He did however become a soldier, serving as an ensign with the 2nd Salop Regiment towards the end of 1803, but only very briefly.

What Edward really wanted to do was follow in his farming forebears’ footsteps – and that is exactly what he did. Precisely when he did so I cannot say, but when his marriage bond was drawn up on 24 May 1813, he was described as “Edward Atcherley of Weston in the Parish of Baschurch in the County of Salop Farmer”.

Edward wed Mary Morris of Birch Park, also in the parish of Baschurch, on 28 May 1813 at the church where both bride and groom had been baptised (in Mary’s case, on 27 May 1792). Mary was a daughter of Thomas Morris, a farmer, and Sarah. Thomas died in 1803, after making a will in which he bequeathed all his money and property first to his wife and then, after her decease, in equal proportions to his surviving children. There was also the discretion to give to any of his children who married when they came of age, “a reasonable sum of Money as part of their Portion”. This was conditional on the nuptials being approved by Thomas’s wife Sarah and his brother John (the executrix and executor of Thomas’s will).

Mary’s marriage to Edward took place 21 years and one day after her baptism. Did she have the blessing of her mother and her uncle, and was “a reasonable sum of Money” therefore paid as her marriage portion? Possibly so, despite – or maybe because of – the fact that there was little choice but to approve of the wedding. Mary was already pregnant with (or may even have given birth to) Edward’s first child!

Edward Atcherley junior was baptised at Baschurch on 26 June 1813, a little less than a month after his parents had tied the knot in the same church. We can only imagine the look on the face of John Harman, the curate who conducted both ceremonies. Whatever his private thoughts may have been, they did not make it into the baptism register. There, Edward senior was described as a Yeoman, and the family’s abode was recorded as Birch Park.

Another seven children were added to the Atcherley family over the next 18 years, and from their baptism records we can get an idea of the family’s movements over that time. The places where the first four of those seven children were baptised, the name of each child, the abodes recorded and the dates of the baptisms, were as follows: Oswestry – Sarah Atcherley, abode Woodhill (or Wood Hill, about two miles south-east of Oswestry) on 4 November 1814 (note that Edward Atcherley of Woodhill signed as a witness to a quitclaim document in March 1815); Baschurch – Mary Atcherley, abode Birch (probably Birch Park) on 6 October 1816; Ruyton XI Towns – Thomas and John Atcherley, abode Wigmarsh, on 14 June 1819 and 6 August 1821 respectively.

map-stanwardine-birch-park-wigmarshOrdnance Survey map showing Stanwardine, Birch Park and Wigmarsh.

The baptism of John Atcherley took place two months to the day after the burial, at Baschurch, of his maternal grandmother, 65-year-old Sarah Morris of Birch Park. Some time after this event, Edward Atcherley would have received his wife’s share of the money from the Morris estate. It was perhaps this inheritance that enabled Edward to relocate with his wife and children one last time: to Stanwardine in the Fields.

The last three children of Edward and Mary were all born at Stanwardine. Richard was baptised at Baschurch on 25 July 1824, Margaret on 16 April 1829, and Anne on 8 July 1831. The two youngest girls, along with their older sister Mary, were enumerated at Stanwardine in 1841 along with their parents. Edward Atcherley, by this time aged 59, was no longer a farmer but was “of independent means” – living on an income which was presumably derived from property or investments. It appears that the family was well off and that Edward and Mary’s children were set to lead comfortable lives. But was everything as it seemed?

“Mr. Edward Atcherley, of Stanwardine-in-the-Fields,” died on 27 July 1843 and was buried at Baschurch All Saints four days later. There is no gravestone at Baschurch for Edward however, no evidence that I can find that he made a will, and I have not found an entry for him the Index to Death Duty Registers. When the 1851 census was taken, the occupation of Edward’s widow Mary was recorded as “Cottage”. This might mean that Mary rented out a cottage as means of support. However I think it more likely that she was a cottager – a tenant of a small plot of land with a cottage on it, the land being used to grow vegetables and perhaps also to rear a pig or two or some other animals. Ten years later, in 1861, Mary was described as “Formerly Gamekeeper’s Wife”. Mary died in 1868, also without leaving a will. These facts do not suggest to me that Edward Atcherley ended his days as a wealthy man.

But what of Edward and Mary’s children? Their eldest, Edward Atcherley junior, became a tailor, and moved to Wolverhampton where he married in 1839 (the marriage register recording that his father was a farmer). Sarah Atcherley married John Skellorn, who worked variously as a publican, a shopkeeper, a porter, but mostly as a labourer. Both his and Sarah’s effects were valued at under £100 after their deaths in 1868 and 1865 respectively. Edward junior and Sarah were the only offspring of Edward and Mary Atcherley who married.

Of the remaining six children, three died during their mother’s lifetime. Daughter Mary passed away at Ellesmere aged 28 on 10 April 1845; she was interred at Baschurch on the 14th. Next to go was John, at Stanwardine, on 15 November 1854 (his burial following 5 days later). He was 33 years old and although described in the National Probate Calendar as a yeoman, the censuses of 1841 and ’51 showed him working first as a servant, and then as a labourer. Finally Margaret, after spending all her life in the family home (probably helping her mother), died at the age of 35, on 3 January 1865 at Stanwardine.

I have precise dates of death for Mary, John and Margaret Atcherley because one of their brothers, Richard, was granted letters of administration for the estates and effects of all three on 22 February 1869. As a result, entries for the trio appear in the National Probate Calendar. In each case the effects were valued at less than a hundred pounds.

Richard Atcherley declared that he was a yeoman when he applied for administration of his siblings’ estates, but he was more than likely a labourer. He worked at first as an ‘ag lab’ for his farming neighbours, John and Sarah Pembrey (1841 census), later as a general labourer in Shrewsbury (1851 census), but the censuses of 1861 and ’71 show that he returned to Stanwardine, and worked as a railway labourer. In 1861 he was living with his mother Mary and sister Margaret; ten years later he shared the Atcherley family home with his sister Anne. He died in 1878 and was buried on 19 February that year at Baschurch, his last abode given as nearby Milford in the parish of Little Ness.

On 11 October 1876, a little over a year before his death, Richard Atcherley had applied for letters of administration in respect of another of his deceased siblings: older brother Thomas. It appears that both Richard and Thomas had been living at Milford before Thomas’s death, and that Thomas had spent a while at Yockleton before that. In his application for administration, Richard stated that he was a farmer, but I doubt that he was. However his description of Thomas Atcherley as a farm bailiff was, amazingly, almost certainly true.

Thomas had, like Richard (and their brother John) started off as an ‘ag lab’ (he was working for the Pembreys in 1841, alongside the aforementioned brothers). But in 1856 he took over as bailiff at Broomfields Farm in the parish of Montford, which is where he was enumerated in the 1861 and ’71 censuses. Evidently the former bailiff was none too happy at being usurped. The following report appeared in the Shrewsbury Chronicle of 5 December 1856, and gives us a wonderful insight into how Thomas Atcherley spoke:

Before Sir J. R. Kynaston, Bart., and James Freme, Esq. …
Assault.—Thomas Powell, of Broomfields, was charged with assaulting Thomas Atcherley, at Broomfields, on the 22nd November. It appeared there had been some jealous feelings between plaintiff and defendant, in consequence of the latter succeeding the former as bailiff at Mr. Jones’s farm, and on the day in question, according to plaintiff, defendant met him in the road leading down to Captain Kenyon’s house at Grafton, “and tho’ a’ didna knock me, a’ rommed his fist right smack i’ my faes, and soor a’ ood knock me tith down me throat; besides telling me a’ ood fleay me i’ pieces, an’ cut me up into shrids.” This statement was stoutly denied by defendant, but he admitted putting his fist into Atcherley’s face. Fined £1, including costs.

Thomas Atcherley died on 22 September 1876. Before he was laid to rest, at Baschurch, on 26 September, an inquisition (inquest) into his death took place. This was held “at the House of Mr Richard Atcherley in the Township of Little Ness” on 23 September, with Thomas’s body “on view” before the Coroner, a witness, and twelve jurors. The verdict was that “the said Thomas Atcherley did from natural causes, supposed to the Heart decease.” His effects, when administration was granted to his brother Richard, were valued at under £300.

Ellesmere, Shropshire about 1824Ellesmere

The last surviving child of Edward and Mary Atcherley was their youngest daughter, Anne. It appears that she spent most of her adult life working in various forms of domestic service. In 1851, aged 19, she was a household servant for Mary Fallow in Watergate Street, Ellesmere. In 1861 Mary Drury of Quarry Place in Shrewsbury was employing Anne as a housemaid. Anne may have been between jobs when the census of 1871 was taken, or perhaps she was an unofficial housekeeper for her brother Richard at Stanwardine. However in both 1881 and ’91, Anne was working as a housekeeper for Edwin Dawson, a draper, in Cross Street, Ellesmere.

Dawson died in 1892, unmarried. My guess is that Anne Atcherley worked for him right until the end. After that? The 1901 census recorded Anne as a retired housekeeper, who was a visitor in the household of Annie Owens at Stanwardine. A decade later, Anne was enumerated as a visitor once again, this time at 1 Charlotte Row in Ellesmere, home of Emma Jones. Anne’s occupation this time was “Retired Cook”. When Anne died later that year, at Stanwardine on 27 November 1911 at the grand old age of 80, she left a will – and an estate valued at a staggering £2022 3s 4d! I wonder if her former employer, Edwin Dawson (who left an estate valued at £8333 3s 10d) had made a very generous bequest to his faithful housekeeper?

Anne’s burial at Baschurch All Saints, on 1 December 1911, marked the end of an era. There had been Atcherleys at Stanwardine in the Fields almost continuously since the fourteenth century, but now there were none.

Picture credits and references to follow.