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St Johns
An old print showing the Goldsmith's home in Westminster
below St John's Church Smith Square.
Charles and Elizabeth's children were baptized there.

Some contributors from the immediate UK family wish to remain anonymous. Their memories, given before the advent of the website, are displayed here without credits to enrich the site for our children and grandchildren.



We are now in friendly contact with all descendants of Charles Leonard Goldsmith's children.

Sadly, we cannot help you when it comes to the questions about the Goldsmiths, outside what we have already mentioned. Pam went to visit her Grandparents, first when she was very small and Grandpa was still alive, and later when in Primary School, to be with Grandma Clara in her old age. Westminster seemed a long way away. Of course, Uncle Charles and his family moved to Woodyates Road, Lee, so we saw a little bit of Charles and Nell, but Pam has no knowledge of Laurence, Mary Anne, Ruth and Frank:Sorry!

We will write separately about the War-time experiences, and Jim will give you a brief biography extending into our married life. What maybe of interest, is the series of events which led to our travels: all this later! Pamela & Jim ( Bertha's daughter )

Gertrude and Bertha

Gertrude and Bertha


In 1881 Elizabeth died on 15th November after giving birth, there is no record of the baby who was probably still born. It was just a 'fluke' that Laurence John Clarke was born to Clara at the same time. Therefore Lawrence was considered Elizabeth's child and his origins were kept as a tightly held secret by the family. I became very interested in Genealogy in the '70's when I started to trace the family tree. This was before the age of the internet so I travelled around personally to view the Parish Records etc. Many of the older members of the family were alive then but remained 'very tight lipped' when questioned about the past.There were many 'bastards' as we called them then in the Goldsmith family! Charles


For some unspecified reason, Lawrence birth appears never to have been registered - he apparently had trouble drawing his pension because he didn't officially exist. He was in the First World War as a driver and remained unscathed throughout. He worked as a horse and cart driver. Up until after the Second World War the Goldsmiths appeared to have lived in and around the Westminster area - the impression was in rented accommodation, the only exceptions appear, anecdotally, to be Lawrence's sons Tom and George. They owned two shops in Westminster. There may be some photographic records in Westminster Archives.It is surprising your Gertie never mentioned the rest of her family - she had 18 nieces and nephews. If her brother knew, I'd imagine she did. David

Laurance John, was my grandfather. He was originally told that his mother, Charles' first wife, died giving birth to him and in the confusion his birth wasn't registered. A couple of years ago a relative threw doubt on this and I did some further research. Although Elizabeth did die just after Lawrence's birth, partly through menorraghia, there was no mention of childbirth on the certificate. I then located Laurence's birth certificate in Somerton, showing Clara as his mother and an unnamed father. He was born on 14th November 1881 and in the 1881 census Clara was working as a servant to John Laurence Growse. Coincidence? I guess it may be no more than a coincidence than Elizabeth dying at the time a woman who would subsequently marry Elizabeth's widower gave birth.

She susbequently married Charles and he raised Laurence as his own.
(Confirmation - Laurence John Clarke birth registered Sudbury Suffolk Nov 1881)

Family history told of a split between Laurence and the older children because he was deemed to be the cause of their mother's death. Through census records we've shown this to be unlikely as Laurence went to live with his older brothers.

Personally, I think it's incredibly sad that Clara was apparently never able to acknowledge Laurence as her own son.

It was Aunt Kathleen Lawrences's daughter (who was known as Kitty and now as Kay) who went to the US after the war - she married an American serviceman. Nobody heard from her for 30 odd years until she suddenly turned up in Westminster and started asking around about what had happened to the family. Because the family tree had recently been put together,
someone local (it may have been the new owners of the Ponsonby Place shop) put her in touch with the compiler (which I guess must be Charles Leonard) and she was able to make contact with my Dad and her other surviving brothers/sisters. Kay is still alive and well and living in New York - she got shot last year (2006) when someone took a fancy to her car and preferred to shoot rather than risk fighting an elderly defenceless woman, but she's fine now.
Given that there's only Dad, Eileen, Vi and Kay now alive on my side there's very few people of that generation left to ask about the family. Luckily the older cousins, like Johnny (Charles Lawrence's son), still remember things and are happy to pass them on to us. Auntie Gertie (now known as Vi following her years in Canada!) is still alive - well, she was when I saw her last month! 95 and widowed twice.
Mum & Dad didn't marry until 1954. Dad was married prior to that (shh - we don't talk about that!) but I don't know where she and he lived. Mum was living in Hammersmith prior to the marriage and after they lived in Ponsonby Place (not the family home!). As far as I'm aware they didn't move to Streatham until the late '50s (I think my sister was born there in 1959).

Clara was working for GP John Lawrence Growse at the time of the 1881 Census which was taken on 3rd April, she would have already been pregnant.The 1911 Census shows that Lawrence did know he was born in Suffolk as he states his place of birth as Bury St Edmunds, therefore he and Clara must have kept this secrcet from the rest of the family. Janice


Mary Ann married Edgar Woodward aged 36 yrs at Westminster Registry Office on 31 August 1912. She gave her address as 215 Vauxhall Bridge Road, Gertrude and Harry's address. The couple had two children Emma and Ruth Mary, Emma was born on 6.11.1912 so Mary Ann was obviously pregnant like Gertrude when she married, Edgar was from Suffolk & resided at 32 Causton Street Westminster at the time of marriage. Edgar was born 1.10.1876 and died 1961. He was the son of Ezekiel Woodward Suffolk.

Sadly Mary Ann died after giving birth to Ruth at 72 Regency Street Westminster and was interred in Streatham Park Cemetery. After Mary died Edgar joined the army and Emma was sent to Suffolk to be cared for by relatives on the Woodward side, ( Baby Ruth remained in London perhaps she was brought up by her grandparents Clara and Charles or other members of the family) The two sisters saw very little of one another over the years. Later in life Edgar joined his family in Suffolk.
Emma married George Bryenton on 17.11.1934 in Cratfield Parish Church and continued to live in Suffolk, she was in service in a house in Southwold for a time before she married.

I suppose Emma was forgotten about when she was sent to Suffolk, as she does not appear on the tree. She often mentioned her Mother Mary Ann, and wondered what she was like, and
what she looked like. I can't think why Edgar didn't have a photograph of her. Valerie


My father, Tom Goldsmith, died in 1947 so it was just my mother and I who came to the U.S.A. in Sept. 1960. We sailed on the "SS United States" from Southampton to New York, stayed overnight, when we went to the top of the Empire State Building, then flew the next day to Seattle. The rest is history.. Sister Joyce worked for NATO in Paris for 2 years where she met her husband stationed at SHAPE Headquarters and came to Seattle in 1955. Unfortunately they divorced in 1963. She remained single. Joyce went to Greycoat Hospital after passing her elementary exams and matriculated at age 16. She spent the next year at City of London Business College and from there went to work for a couple of Law firms until she went to Paris. Charle's sister, Nell, also went to Greycoats. I spent 2 years at Pitman's College in Southampton Row, London, then went to work for a publishing company, from there worked for the airlines (BEA) now known as British Airways, for about 7 years, after which I a came to the U.S.A..
About the shop at no 42. I don't know when my parents moved into the shop but I'm sure it was before I was born in 1931. They had a successful business right up until 1941 or 1942 when the shop caught fire and Dad lost everything. He was insured but the agent kept the payments and ran off to Canada. My father never really recovered from the loss and disappointment.
As for brother Stanley's family. His wife died a couple of years or so before him (1997). I don't know when they left London but they lived their latter days in Wellingborough, Northants.
Their twins Nadine and Anthony, younger daughter Wendy are all married.


Gertrude Mary Goldsmith was my Aunt and I was born at Ponsonby Place, Westminster, the seventh of eleven. We cannot add anything more to your knowledge of Gertrude, other than confirming that she was a strict Vegetarian (nut) and, when she visited us once, supposedly for three weeks, but stayed for two months, we went vegetarian too! (Just for the duration of her stay!) This was before the war when I was about ten, so around 1936/7. Pamela

In later life Gertrude was moved to different members of the family, whoever could put her up at the time. She had no choice, they all looked on her as mother. She stayed with them all on and off including Thora and Dudley. It was just circumstance that she finished up at Ideen, they had a spare room & Maurice was always bitter at the way Harry Bird had treated her. Although there never seemed to be any animosity between Dorothy and her.

Gertrude was just pushed from pillar to post into any accommodation that was available and with whichever children required looking after at the time. Harry tried to keep her separate from Dorothy but often through force of circumstances they all lived together in the same house, this happened at Newholm, Esdaile and 200 Teignmouth Road. Gertrude always had her own small room and everyone called her 'othermum'. One daughter contracted scarlet fever at Newholm, there was a small bedroom at the end of the hall with a balcony. A sheet was put up at the door so no one could enter. She was put out on the balcony to take the air and another daughter was made to play in the garden below to keep her amused. Gertrude nursed her.

Lawrence Goldsmith - WW1 medals

Lawrence Goldsmith - WW1 medals

One of the two shops once owned by the Goldsmith family - Ponsonby Place

One of the two shops once owned by the Goldsmith family - Ponsonby Place
No 42 first appeared in the London telephone directory in 1948 and continued to be listed until 1977 under T E Goldsmith. even though Tom died in 1947. No 28a was owned by Charles Leonard Goldsmith and later taken over by his son Charles George.


Hello Janice, Firstly, welcome to the family...
There were quite a number of "Goldsmiths" in Ponsonby Place at 69, 42 and 30. I lived with
my parents at 42, Tom Edwin Goldsmith, Mabel Lilian (always known as Lily), brothers Kenneth Edwin, Stanley William, Lilian Joyce (always known as Joyce). I'm the only one left having lost my Sister in 2005.
I came to Seattle in Nov. 1959 to visit my sister (I worked for British European Airways, so travelled on a cheap fare) for 3 weeks and stayed 10! It's a wonder I had a job when I
returned to London! I met my husband-to-be, but didn't know it at that time. I decided to return to Seattle several months later, bringing my Mother, and in Feb. 1961 we were married. We celebrated our 47th anniversary last month.
My sister and I had a wonderful time in 1998 visiting Pam and Jim in Australia, along with the rest of the family. It was great meeting up with all the Robinson family. I'll never forget
seeing the beautiful golden sandy beaches, a sight for sore eyes. Margaret

When my father died in1947 my brother, Stan, after being demobbed, went into the business with my Mum and they were together until my Mother left with me in 1960 tocome to the States. Stan remained there with his wife and 3 children,then sold the business (sorry I don't know the year). Stan and family moved across the street to Mary Smith House which was a new complex on the corner of Ponsonby Place and Causton Street. In 1987 my husband and I visited London (the only time I got him there!) and it wasa Wine shop. Sometime later, sister Joyce and I went to London and 42 was a Dental Clinic. The owner showed us around the property and it was beautifully renovated. My bedroom was one of the surgery rooms and since there was no patient in there, got to have a look around. Everything was different except the windows. I told the owner I had cleaned those darn things many many times!! Talk about going down memory lane, it felt a little eerie! I was back in London in 2006 and again in 2007 and it was still the dental clinic. I've been back to London at least a dozen times, if not more, and there always seems to be a change of some kind. Margaret

Gertrude Mary Bird

Ideen - Gertrude's last home

Ideen - Gertrude's last home

81 Teignmouth Road
Named after the radical movement which began in Germany in the seventeen-nineties as "the only one which has an indisputable title to be called Romanticism, since it invented the term for its own use"

Link to Gertrude's thoughts




My Grandmother lived with us in a large bed sitting room at 'Ideen' 81 Teignmouth Rd. I was very close to her being the eldest. She died when I was almost 16. We spent much time together and she added an extra dimension to my life. She treated me as an equal. When she died in 1953 we children were not allowed to go to her funeral and our father cleared her room just when I was getting interested in her books, paintings and her life. With no chance to mourn her or celebrate her life there is a vacuum which is still with me today. Did she have any diaries?
My memories of 81 Teignmouth Road are of her room. A big oak double bed behind the door a large wardrobe and a table with an old typewriter on it. She had incense sticks in a jar and lots of long bead necklaces, amber, amethyst, rings and earrings. Many book shelves including a square one which rotated, old National Geographic magazines and Co-Op Women's Guild Magazines. We used to look at a large book of the Worlds Greatest Paintings. Years later at Peace Meetings in the Theological College in Aberystwyth I saw many of the books I was familiar with in her room including the Golden Bough by Fraser.
She was a theosophist, internationalist, feminist, a co-operator, pacifist, anti-vivisectionist and environmentalist and may have belonged to the WILPF.
On her typewriter she wrote letters to the papers, public figures and newspapers.
I was often dragged to her room to listen to her letters being read out on Freddy Grisewoods 'Any Answers' on the radio. She was a strong eccentric old woman and her ethos was to treat illness with herbs, diet and exercise. Pop Bird was a herbalist too. There was a horror and distrust of doctors and Roman Catholic midwives.
In the garden she grew deep blue Gentians by the cold tap, and orange brown chrysanthemums at the end of the path and tomatoes in the porch at the front of the house. In our orchard there were many wild flowers and all the poisonous ones, we were taught all their names using the flower fairy books and told not to eat the poisonous ones. Our large Victorian garden and orchard of 30 fruit trees and bushes was very private with high limestone walls with multi - coloured broken bottles stuck into the top. Slung between two Tzar plum trees was a hammock of strong white cotton canvas. In summer on early mornings I remember both of us going out sunburnt and naked to the orchard to water the sweet peas. She was the queen of the compost heap.The croquet hoops stretched to the end of the lawn and a sandpit halfway down.
We rarely wore shoes at home, grandmother believed shoes were bad for growing feet and was influenced by the American Indians and native peoples who were always barefoot. Although she had a rich brown beaver coat and a deep brown leather bucket bag, we often used to go to visit the auction rooms together and I grew to love and appreciate old furniture. We also went to the Theosophist Lodge together by the harbour. Their belief was to find the best in all religions. Grandmother believed in Fairies which I found difficult to understand and reconcile with the rest of her character.
We did sewing together often in her room or sitting on the bench in the warm glass porch with the ripening tomatoes and geraniums, making skirts out of shiny golden silk parachutes.
At some point she travelled, to the Scilly Isles, London and Edinburgh. I have postcards from her, some are in the National Library of Wales.
GMB read us two Books as Children
The Diary of Opal Whitely.... an educated child dumped on a loggers family in Oregon... a hard life made magical and The Cave Children,... a woman in Austria/Germany hounded out of her
Community finding refuge in a hidden valley... was she a witch or
refugee from religious persecution. That photo of the place where bad
women were put in the town square in the rGerman rothermel section is interesting!!! relevant ?
She also gave me a book on social reformers each chapter on a different person Elisabeth Fry.... prisons etc

Harry Bird did look after Gertrude financially for most of her life, he set her up in rented houses and she seemed happy to go along with it. It is thought that Dudley Childs was not particularly appalled by Harry's treatment of Gertrude but was probably fed up about the whole situation as he was so correct about everything and worried about his job. It is expected that after Thalia's death nobody else would , or could, take her in except Thora and Lillian and Dudley and Maurice had to go along with it. Warren's recollection of Gertrude is of a cruel woman when he was a child. They were fed on leaves and herbs all the week and on a Saturday morning were made to drink salt water to make them sick and were later given a pump enema to 'cleanse the system'. Nothing ever came out as they had eaten nothing of substance all week.
Gertrude finished up living with Maurice Childs' family in Teignmouth Road,they had also had Iris and John living with them after John came out of the Navy
Warren and Pauline

When the family first moved to Torquay Harry told everyone that Gertrude was his sister in law. The wife of his older brother who was killed in the war. At one point he moved her to a house in Brixham, then Mansands where she brought up the younger children who thought she was their mother for many years.

We all loved her and the rich knowledge and extra dimension she brought to our house. Education skipped a generation , my mum managed very little with all the troubles. Perhaps Harry didn't enjoy all the finer things that Gertrude's education gave her, or maybe he was threatened by it. I think Gertrude was with us ( at least) from 1945 until she died '53. Apparantly she lived with Thora too at some point before that possibly from about 1932 then Maurice picking it up as above. Spencer

I remember my mother and Gertrude always told me that she wanted to go to university and had great difficulty getting to school, but went to work in a hat shop. Thalia

[note; now having researched the family history and seeing what poor circumstances the Goldsmiths were brought up in around Westminster, it is now known that Gertrude was only educated until the age of 12 - her knowledge therefore could have only been gained later on by the reading of books and her involvement in her many interests and beliefs. Once married most of her early life seemed to be dedicated to the dellvering and bringing up of children and grandchildren and being pushed from pillar to post by Harry Bird]

I have very few memories of Gertrude, I only knew that my parents were very fond of her. My mother called her 'other mum' and she was known as Auntie Gertie to my brother and I. Mother said she brought them up and often mentioned that they didn't go to school and had a governess, I often wondered whether this may have been Gertie? Mother was left handed which wasn't allowed in those days. She told me tales of her left hand being tied behind her back when she was writing her lessons, and she was made to do everything with her right hand. She told me it had affected her all her life. Gertie came to London on a few occasions always in the summer, sometimes Norman came with her.She stayed with us and I can remember her sitting next to the radiogramme in the bay window in a cream silk blouse with lots of amber beads, brooches and a monocle hanging round her neck. She and Norman often took me back to Devon from Paddington on the train to spend the holidays with my cousins in Widecombe and Mansands. On asking who she was, the question was soon brushed under the carpet and the topic of conversation changed quite quickly. Alastair was told she was the wife of Harry's dead brother.

Gertrude oversaw all the births of most of the Birds and Childs babies, it was explained to me that she was treated very cruelly in childbirth and Roman Catholic midwives got the blame. She did not want her family to go through the hell she went through and she and my mother explained this to me by warning me not to be abused during childbirth. She wanted no more children after this cruelty and this is why Harry turned to Dorothy.

Gertrude and Fairies

Gertrude and Fairies
Grandmother believed in Fairies. As a child much as I loved her I always found this difficult to understand and reconcile with the rest of her character, political, environmental,anti-vivsectionist feminist and pacifist etc
The mass slaughter of the 1st world war turned people towards spiritualism
We had fairy pictures on the wall Margaret and Rosemary Tarrant, and books with fairies.
A poetry book by Rose Flyman - There are fairies at the bottom of the garden.
We learnt the names of wild flowers using Cecily Mary Barker's Flower Fairy books with flower fairy poems.
Her interest in other cultures, native peoples, animism was part of these beliefs as well as the influence of groups of back to nature/nudity/free love artists in Europe at the turn of the century.
For Example Gauguin who was imprisioned for supporting the native people in the South seas against the Christian Missionaries. His full life story rarely told .I gave an impromptu talk on Gauguin at The Gauguin Exhibition at Metropolitan Museum in New York. I was stung into
defending Gauguin against some vociferous young Feminists blasting him for all the sexist paintings.. gathered quite a crowd. His grandmother Flora Tristan an early Socialist who had a massive following in Europe with 50,000 at her Funeral in France...A book - My amazing Grandmother - tells her story.. which I shared with the people in The Gauguin Exhibition with much else. Flora was probably an influence on Gertrude
Bit of a digression Miles Malleson wrote the play Paddley Pools about an upper class boy
from a militaristric Family who falls asleep out doors and dreams about nature spirits Love and Peace.
I reconnected with all this in a strand at Greenham Common with the interest in Goddesses from all the religions. Some great songs!
My Grandmother would have just loved Greenham.There are things which I've already put in but not linked together - Grey owl.The English man who pretended to be an American Indian
promoting their culture was a celebrity of those days. Thalia

Link to the Cottingley Fairies Website


Children born of fairy stock
Never need for shirt or frock,
Never want for food or fire,
Always get their heart's desire:
Jingle pockets full of gold,
Marry when they're seven years old.
Every fairy child may keep
Two strong ponies and ten sheep;
All have houses, each his own,
Built of brick or granite stone;
They live on cherries, they run wild---
I'd love to be a fairy's child.

'This item is from The First World War Poetry Digital Archive, University of Oxford (; © [Copyright notice]'.

The Baptist Church

Charles Leonard and Elizabeth were C of E and all their children were christened in St John's Smith Square. Clara became a staunch Baptist and her children went to the Baptist Sunday School.
None of them were baptized as in those days only adults could be baptized into the Baptist Church, by the time they reached that age they gave up. Charles.

Throughout the seventeenth century Baptists were persecuted for their beliefs, being known as 'nonconformists' or 'Dissenters'. They refused to become members of the Church of England, saying Christ - and not the monarch - was head of the Church.

The nineteenth century saw a period of significant growth for the Baptist movement. Great preachers such as Charles Haddon Spurgeon in London and Alexander Maclaren in Manchester drew crowds in their thousands.

Gertrude and possibly her other brothers and sisters attended the Baptist Church in Romney Street Westminster.
Theosophy Gertrude Goldsmith, Harry Bird
and Dorothy Mazasitisz
became Theosophists
Some of the most influential people of the day were attracted to Theosophy - playwright Oscar Wilde, poet W.B.Yeats, author George Bernard Shaw and inventor Thomas Edison .

Warren Childs says Gertrude used to go to meetings with Thalia and Lillian. This was a religion based on the intuitive insight into the nature of the divine and followed the Hindu ideas of Karma , reincarnation and nirvana as the eventual aim.
Thalia tried to see the minutes at the Lodge in Torquay but they were all destroyed by the builders in the 1970's. she remembers going there with her on Sundays.