Sunday, 5 June 2011

Warwick Brookes MP and the scandal of divorce!

One of the newspaper cuttings I hold about Warwick Brookes 1875-1935, MP, relates to a divorce scandal, details of which appeared in the Times.

Emile de Minciaky had petitioned for the dissolution of his marriage to Beatrice, nee Waldenstrom, by reason of her adultery with Warwick Brookes.

Emile, born in Russia in 1870, married Beatrice on 27th August 1892 at the Brompton Oratory, <Click>, and from the age of 19 had been an attaché at the Russian Embassy in Stockholm, and later worked for a copper rolling company in Manchester. But by 1894 was manager of the London office of the National Cash Register Company.

Beatrice, born c1872, was the daughter of Eric Waldenstrom b1838 and Elizabeth b1848. Eric, born in Carlstad, Sweden, was in 1881 living at 9 The Avenue, Broughton, Salford, and working as a civil engineer*.

It transpired that a child, John Charles Hugo, had been born illegitimately during Brookes' relationship with Beatrice, and this was also reported in the divorce case. The decree nisi was issued on 20th March 1900, and the decree absolute on 4th October 1900. Beatrice and Warwick were married in 1900, sometime after that. There was another child, Claire, who was born c1899. Claire appears as an adult in later photographs of Warwick during his election campaigns, but there is never reference to the son John. Only Claire attended her father's funeral in 1935. The only other mention of a son, is in one of the obituaries to Warwick's brother Gordon Byron, who was killed in action on the Somme, where there is mention of another family member "serving on the front". That being the son of Warwick Brookes MP. I would assume therefore, that he possibly didn't survive the war.

(**May 2012, I now know that John did survive the war, having served in the 2nd/4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment, (Prince of Wales Volunteers), having been commissioned on 30th June 1915 and assisted by his father Warwick's influence). On 15th February 1917 he was posted to France, and in May 1918 was hit in the head by shrapnel and transferred to Calais, his wound not serious enough to merit a return home. He returned to his Battalion on 22nd June. On 26th October 1918 he was commissioned in the Irish Guards in the 2nd Battalion. In 1925 he became a monk at Downside Abbey in Somerset, but returned to the Chaplaincy for the Irish Guards, in the second world war. As a novice monk his name was changed to Dom Rudesind Brookes. During active service at Anzio he won the Military Cross for extreme gallantry, and later in life was awarded the OBE. He became Abbot when he was appointed "procurator in curia" of the English Benedictine Congregation in Rome. In 1983, a year before his death, he narrated his biography to Anthony Wheatley, and this is published under the title "Father Dolly, The Guardsman Monk" which is still widely available from used book shops. Up until his 16th birthday he knew nothing of his past relating to his mother's previous marriage. He was then told that Warwick Brookes was in fact his step father, although, from the news report of the divorce which appeared in the Times, both Brookes and Beatrice De Minciaky admitted in open court that John was as a result of their union. The reason he didn't attend Warwick's funeral in 1935 is that he was out of contact abroad at the time).

In the above photograph, Claire, with the fur, is the lady on Warwick's left. The lady on his right, is his niece Lorraine Sandow. Claire was probably a teenager at the time of this photograph.

It was reported in the Times that Brookes and Beatrice subsequently lived maritalement in Bedford Court Mansions. Read about the area here:-
The 1901 census shows that Warwick, Beatrice, Claire (age 2), and John (Jack) Charles (age 3), were living at this address, (number 61), with one female servant.

*Eric Hugo Waldenstrom, although Swedish, lived in Salford, and is listed as a civil engineer. He is also believed to be an inventor, perhaps of a modified Davy miner's lamp, known as the Waldenstrom patent. This modification ensured the lamp was extinguished before it was opened, and was demonstrated by a member of the Manchester Geological Society, (Mr. Horsfell), at a meeting held at The Peter Street museum in May 1867. Whether the design is the work of Eric Waldenstrom remains unproven, however, another patent, for improvements in machinery involved in the production of bolts, rivets and spikes can be shown to be linked to Eric Hugo Waldenstrom in the following link. There is reference to him, again in an on line readable book, which lists alphabetically the people who registered or applied for patents of invention in the middle years of the 19th century. <Click>.

This is the modern location of The Avenue, Salford, which is the same as it was then, but changed beyond recognition by the type of property that is there now.

View Larger Map

At the time the Waldenstrom's lived here, The Avenue was tree lined, with a few terraced villas along the road, and although 40 years prior, was surrounded by parkland, was now beginning to be built up with additional terraced streets and factories surrounding it. In the 50's and 60's, the whole area was demolished and replaced with modern local authority housing.


Unknown said...

'Scandal of divorce', indeed! What's so scandalous about divorce? In fact, it is considered very fashionable nowadays. I wear the label with pride! Anyway, all kidding aside, I knew Father Brooks very well; so did countless scores of 'Old Edwardians'. If the narration is truthful, he was indeed a child of love AND HONOR: his parents never disowned him or 'put up a facade' to appease the finger pointing hypocrites. He exercised immense, lasting influence throughout our adolescence at St. Edwards: a dignified, humble, soft spoken man who threw a long shadow. It is an honor to have known him. God bless you Father Brooks. Waheed Khan.

Peter Berry said...

Divorce is certainly no scandal these days, but in 1900, particularly where children were also involved - another matter in a different era. Father Brookes was indeed an amazing person, and I have now managed to find out much more about his life from his direct family, my own 4th cousin. Father Brookes' grandfather, also Warwick Brookes, a Manchester photographer, was my own great grandfather's 1st cousin. Certainly his sister, Claire attempted to conceal her own birth date, which is incorrect on her own gravestone, proven by the birth certificate I have for her. Both children were the "victims" of circumstance which was not of their doing.