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Harry Gertrude and Dorothy

When lovely woman stoops to folly
And finds too late that men betray, -
What charm can soothe her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt away?

The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from every eye,
To give repentance to her lover
And wring his bosom, is - to die.
Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1797)

If Gertrude had not become pregnant with Thora, and 'had to get married' , if Harry had not turned to a young Dorothy. There was no possibility of divorce, only the Workhouse or giving your baby up for adoption, our fascinating story would never have been written..........

The only time when the secret was nearly spoken about was when Dorothy was in her last few days in hospital. She was sort of drifting in and out, and kept saying “What would people say if they knew”. When asked, the reply was, it was something to do with an” Upstairs Downstairs relationship” that Dorothy had when she was young!

We have no idea what happened to Dorothy between being listed on the 1901 Census and around 1912 apart from on the 1911 Census she was a Domestic Servant for a Surgeon Oskar Teichmann and his wife in Reading Berks. She must have known Harry by the autumn of 1912 as his son Norman was named Alexander Mazasitisz. Stories in the family say that she and her "first husband Mr Wallace" worked in one of Harry's shops. What stories we were told ! She was always very secretive about her past.......

This is ABSOLUTE PURE SPECULATION but an Alexander M Powell, American citizen sailed back to New York on 27.09.1905 on the ship 'Oceanic' from Liverpool - did he abandon Dorothy in London - or did he send her to a farm in Wales to be brought up, as she told some of her grandchildren? If so how did she manage to be in Westminster at the age of 16 having a liason with Harry Bird ? We shall never know .........

"The attainment of children by the man is impossible without the collaboration of another woman in a manner not outwardly recognised by our laws and customs. It is clear that to introduce the child of another woman into the home is demanding a much greater self-abnegation from the wife than is demanded from the husband in the situation. There is no joy and pride greater than of a woman who is bearing the developing child of a man she adores. It is a serious reflection of our poisoned 'civilisation' that a pregnant woman should feel shame to appear in the streets." Marie Stopes 1917

A child born out of wedlock is legitimated by the subsequent marriage of his parents
1837-1965 about 4-7% of births were illegitimate
Dorothy and Harry never married (they could not - Harry was married to Gertrude)
Bastard is properly the base child of a father of gentle or noble birth, but more generally any illegitimate child; child born out of wedlock, base-born child; basterino; pack-saddle child; natural child; of natural birth; unfathered, etc.
This is why the family kept the secrets and were so ashamed...

Aldermaston when Dorothy was there

Aldermaston when Dorothy was there
On the 1911 Census Dorothy aged 16 was working as a Domestic Servant for Surgeon
Oskar Teichmann and his wife in The Village, Aldermaston Reading. Oskar came from a very wealthy family, he was born in Eltham Kent at Sitka Lodge, a wonderful architect designed mansion, his father was a Fur Trader and was born in Wurttemburg Germany ( just like the Rothermels!)

Father Emil Teichman was no ordinary importer, even by Victorian standards. A true pioneer, he regularly braved high seas and inhospitable conditions on the dangerous journey to Alaska to secure the commodities that brought him his fortune. Erik and Oskar, his highly educated and extensively travelled sons clearly inherited their father's lust for life. Both were born at Sitka, the name given to the family home, in honour of the Alaskan city that had helped generate the Teichman wealth.

Max Teichmann Oskar's brother lived at 33 Grosvener Road Westminster very near to Harry's shop, he was a Partner in C M Lampson Co - Commission Agents, he had four servants living in on the 1911 Census, Lampsons were a very profitable Fur Auction House which traded with Canada, perhaps Dorothy later went to work for him or visited him and did the shopping in Harry's shop? We can only speculate......

Another peculiarity - Oskar married in July 1909 just like Harry and Gertrude in St Georges Westminster......

Link to the Oskar Teichmann Archive documents

Dorothy Harry and Gertrude were 'Wallaceites' after the Food Reform Movement . They served Reform and Vegetarian Food in their Hotel and Guest House Restaurants
Harry changed his name to William Wallace from 1914 to 1921 and Dorothy called herself Mrs Wallace. Five of their children carried Wallace as their names. This distinguished Dorothy from Gertrude who was the real Mrs Bird. No one possibly guessing that Harry Bird and 'William Wallace' were the same man.....
So many stories could have been concocted (of which there were) as to the relationship of the two women. Dead husbands on either side, which was perfectly feasible to the outdsider as so many men's lives were lost in the Great War
There were always two Mrs Birds in the family.


Is a name used by an individual as an alternative to their true name.

In most legal systems, a name assumed for a nonfraudulent purpose is a legal name and usable as the person's true name, which is however preferred or required for various official purposes. The most common example is when a woman assumes her husband's surname without resorting to the formal statutory process

If you were a conscientious objector or a deserter in WW1 it was a common tactic to change your name and move around the country, having an alias helped, most of these men moved out of London as their names were published weekly in the London Police Gazette. It published a weekly list of 'Deserters and Absentees from His Majesty's Service', covering all branches of the armed forces. The lists contained detailed information, arranged alphabetically by surname, relating to an individual's place and date of enlistment and desertion, regimental details, and, in some cases, a physical description including age, height, complexion, hair and eye colour, and distinguishing marks.
Some conscientious objectors did not want to fight but were keen to 'do their bit'. These people were willing to help in weapons factories and some went to the trenches to become stretcher bearers etc., though not to fight. Other C.O's refused to do anything that involved the war - these were known as 'absolutists' Those who claimed to be conscientious objectors had to face a tribunal to argue their case as to why they should not be called up to join the army. It was very tough and often appeals failed. Only Quakers were exempt.
Deserters if discovered were shot.

See the Family in WW1 click to read section for more information

Harry changed his name to William Wallace in 1914 and started moving the family around the south of the country , reverting back to Harry Bird in 1923. He last appeared in the London Telephone Directory in 1914 at his shop in Vauxhall Bridge Road, Tel no Victoria 4576. Dorothy during this period became Mrs Dorothy May Wallace. Places the family stayed in along the way were - Brighton, Hayling Island, Shoreham, Southampton,Wellington and Cannington, finally settling in Torquay.

1910 Stationer Newsagent - Harry Bird - London
1911 Master Stationer - Harry Bird - London
1913 Master Stationer - Harry Bird - London
1914 Electrical Engineer - William Wallace - Pinner
1916 Mechanical Engineer 'Munitions' - William Wallace - Brighton
1918 Electrician - William Wallace - Hambledon Hants
1919 Electrician journeyman - William Wallace - Cannington Bridgewater
1921 Conductor on Motorbus - Harry Wallace Bird -Torquay
1923 Booking Clerk Motor Garage - Harry Bird - Torquay

Many of these men became munitions workers in the vast factories together with those who were exempt on medical grounds. It has been reported by one of his sons, that Harry Bird only had one lung

After consulting an expert RR we had the following reply
" I think his views point strongly to a conscientious objection to WW1. Perhaps he realised that the Tribunals were very likely loaded against people like him and decided to lie low. "

When the family set off they had four babies under four and by the time they settled in Torquay they had seven with another two following shortly afterwards. They must have been desparate to have been on the move for the whole of the war years. Things were very hard and there were many shortages. Dorothy certainly would have needed Gertrude's help! Were they on the run?


Ian and I lived in Cannington in the early 1960s for three years . He was house master & biology master at the Brymore boarding school in what was the home of Pym the Parliamentarian. Ian replanted the pink and white chestnut aveune which led to the red sandstone big house. The boys grew them from Conkers in pots. I gave birth to Tom in our flat above the Work shops/ carriage house/ stables. The district nurse became a good friend. She lived in a cottage facing the ford in the small river which ran through the village.In the course of our family research we have discovered that Thalia Ideane Mazasitisz Wallace (Bird) my aunt was born in that cottage in Gurney Street in 1919 where I used to have a cup of tea with the distrct nurse. Thalia Campbell


Mead End Denmead - where their sixth child was born

Mead End Denmead - where their sixth child was born

London Telephone Directory

London Telephone Directory

William Bird Stationers Praed Street

William Bird Stationers Praed Street
I believe 133 Praed Street came within the ownership of the Great Western Railway, and if it was close to Paddington station it certainly did. RR

Gertrude with one of the babies

Gertrude with one of the babies

Thora the eldest could remember having to help look after them all

Thora the eldest could remember having to help look after them all
It must have been dreadful travelling around the country in those days with so many young children. Women's dresses were cumbersome and not at all practical, they always wore large hats. so just Gertrude's and Dorothy's luggage alone must have been quite an effort to transport as well as all the children's clothing and necessaties They must have had at least two prams to transport all the children
In the early 1900's women wore long dresses. It was not acceptable for women to show their legs. From 1910 women wore hobble skirts. They were so narrow women could only 'hobble' along while wearing them
Up until the early 1920s women still wore knickers that ended below the knee. However during the 1920s knickers became much shorter. By the late 1920s they ended well above the knee. Babies nappies were a square or rectangle of linen, cotton flannel, or stockinet was folded into a rectangular shape and held in place with safety pins.
Lots of washing !


We have asked extended family whether they have any recollections of Harry and the family during WW1 - here is a reply


One of Dorothy's Teapots

One of Dorothy's Teapots

Dorothy and Harry never married as he was the official husband of Gertrude Goldsmith they were together however as a couple for forty years.

A question to one of their sons 4.05.2003 - Did Harry and Dorothy ever marry as no-one has ever found a marriage certificate? " Oh yes I think so, we were led to believe they married the same year or the year after Gertie died. It was a very quiet arrangement. Of course we had all left home by then" (this is a fallacy as Harry died 3 years before Gertrude in 1950 )

Why did Harry turn to Dorothy? Perhaps because Gertrude had had bad experiences during childbirth and couldn't bear the thought of having any more children. She was three months pregnant when she married Harry at Westminster Registry Office in 1909.
Her sister Bertha married at 16 and immediately had her first child in 1911 at 69 Ponsonby Place Westminster at their mother Clara's house. Bertha and her young husband,also 16 when they married, went on to have 10 more babies. In 1949 they emigrated with some of their children to Australia.
Her sister in law Ellen, wife of brother Lawrence, had eleven children almost one every year, also either in Ponsonby Place or around the corner in Ponsonby Terrace where they rented rooms.
Her sister Mary Ann died in tragic circumstances after giving birth to her second child Ruth Mary in 1914. She had brain congestion and seizures as well as profuse bleeding - this would have been terrible to witness and a distressing ordeal for her family. Gertrude may have helped her mother deliver some of these babies and seen the suffering of the women in her family and decided she wanted something better for herself. It probably affected her deeply emotionally. She therefore banned Harry from the bedroom according to one of the sons. There was no contraception or the possibility of divorce for her in those days, the only possibility was to enter the Workhouse.
Roughly one quarter of all children died in their first year at the end of Victoria's reign as at the beginning, and maternal mortality showed no decline.
We presume Gertrude travelled with Dorothy and the younger children to various towns when she gave birth to Harry's children and dedicated the next few years to bringing up all the children together. No one quite knew who their true mother was.
This continued into the next generation when one of Harry and Dorothy's daughters tragically died in childbirth, another daughter took the babies on as her own.
Life was hard for a woman at the turn of the 20th Century in terms of freedoms and rights. They had no rights over their money or property, they could not stay in hospital or have an operation without their husband's consent and they had a legal obligation to follow their husband wherever he chose to live..
Now we are in contact with members of Gertrude's family it appears none of them quite knew what had happened to Gertrude after she moved 'South' the older generation were very 'tight lipped ' about her story. We now have some evidence that she did visit her family in the '30's.

Click to read the Goldsmith stories

Cots at the new Infants' Hospital Westminster. It is doubtful whether Gertrude and her sisters could have made use of this new facility. Dorothy certainly not as she was sent out of London to give birth to her babies presumably because of the shame it brought on the family.

Wet - nursing (speculation)

Wet - nursing (speculation)
Frida Kahlo - Pain and Passion
Famous artist born 1907 in Mexico was wet nursed as her mother was unable to breastfeed her because her sister was born just eleven months after her. The relationship in her painting appears distanced and cool, reduced only to the practical process of feeding, an impression heightened by the lack of eye contact and the mask on the nurse's face. The artist considered this as one of her most powerful works.
Not your mother's milk

Did Gertrude wet-nurse Dorothy's children? Is this why they were all so close and many of them thought that she was their mother? Dorothy gave birth and handed the babies over to Gertrude? It would not have been impossible for her as the births were very close together and the illusion would have been given to outsiders that the babies were really Gertrude's, Harry's legal wife. Wet-nursing would have happened as a matter of course if the mother was ill or did not wish to feed her babies as formula milk was certainly not available at that time.
It may be taboo but even today British women quietly breastfeed other women's babies, especially if there is failure to thrive or the birth mother is unable to do it. Although they acknowledge the practice they would not necessarily admit to it. Hiring someone to breastfeed your child is becoming increasingly popular in Hollywood. On one website "wet nurse" is listed right next to valet, chauffeur and chef.
Wet-nursing has gone on for centuries in the far east and Asia. Once wet-nursing was so commonplace that Jane Austen mentions it in Emma, for years it was a really good job for a woman, a wife could earn more than her husband as a labourer. If you were a Royal wet-nurse you would be honoured for life.
There is a 'special relationship - a bond - between the baby and the wet-nurse.
Even more intriguing than the actual practice itself is the way it has been reported in the West, with fascination disguised as disgust. Perhaps the intimacy of shared feeding enhances the taboo, it's always been practiced, it just isn't reported.

Is this why Gertrude called herself "Other Mammy" and Other Mum ? If she were the widow of Harry's dead brother surely the children would have naturally called her Aunty?

I think I've mentioned this before but I do remember Gertrude and mother both saying Gertrude was worn out by having too many children too close together . May be even with out the Pregnancy and births the continual breast feeding was draining.. more evidence to back the wet nursing.The emotional strain of the threesome too...Thalia


The 1908 Children's Act, also known as Children and Young Persons Act, part of the Children's Charter was a piece of government legislation passed by the Liberal government, as part of the British Liberal Party's liberal reforms package. The Act was informally known as the Children's Charter and surrounded controversy.
It established juvenile courts and introduced the registration of foster parents, thus regulating baby-farming and WET- NURSING and trying to stamp out infanticide. Local authorities were also granted powers to keep poor children out of the workhouse and protect them from abuse. The act also prevented children working in dangerous trades and prevented them from purchasing cigarettes and entering pubs. The act also prevented children from learning the "Tricks of the Trade" in adult prisons, where children were often sent to serve time if a crime had been committed. Instead the Children's Charter had allocated Borstals. It eventually led to many councils setting up social services and Orphanages.


Marie Stopes opened the UK's first family planning clinic, the Mothers' Clinic at 61, Marlborough Road, Holloway, North London on March 17, 1921. In 1925 the London clinic moved to its present site at 108 Whitfield Street, Central London. The clinic offered a free service to married women and also gathered scientific data about contraception. The opening of the clinic created one of the greatest social impacts of the 20th century and marked the start of a new era in which couples, for the first time, could reliably take control over their fertility.

Sadly too late for Gertrude and Dorothy

Mistresses and illegitimate children were worth nothing. Now there is an interest in tracing family trees it is coming to light that there were far more illegitimate children than we thought. They were unable to take the name of their father who was not mentioned on the birth certificate. Some of the mothers were prostitutes and housemaids, others were the 'true love' of the gentleman but marriage was impossible as although they may have been from a well to do family they brought no money into the relationship.

There was a web of connections and we find that payments, on examining old accounts and ledgers, were made for years to a mysterious person or persons. Some of these illegitimate children were handed over to foster mothers who were made payments for their upkeep. Children were sent away to other towns. It was one way for women to earn an income if nothing else was available

Illegitimacy brought a cloud of shame, illegitimate children were legal nobodies, non people and didn't exist in a point of law. It had a great effect on their characters, they were in limbo, not acknowledged and the whole thing was swept under the carpet.


A Little poem found in Gertrude's possessions dated 1942

A Little poem found in Gertrude's possessions dated 1942
Did Harry and Gertie love one another, or was their marriage a necessity?
"To use a homely simile - one might compare two human beings to two bodies charged with electricity of different potentials. Isolated from each other the electric forces within them are invisible, but if they come into the right juxtaposition the force is transmitted, and a spark, a glow of burning light arises between them. Such is love " Marie Stopes

After reading 'Love Child' by Sue Elliott and doing some research on the internet about adoption and unmarried mothers the Harry - Gertrude - Dorothy triangle was probably the best solution for all concerned at that time. Neither of the two women had to give up their babies for adoption or go into service or ghastly 'mother and baby homes' because they could not financially support them. They both could stay with their children and enjoy them as they were growing up, even though most of them didn't know who their real mother was. Sometimes due to circumstances they were all living under one roof. Harry worked all hours of the day to support the two women and his offspring. It was possibly the only way he could devise to keep his children together. Their solution was novel and imaginative, although may not have felt unusual for them as Dora and Bertrand Russel were their heros and the poet Shelley who had all led similar lives.
Janice and Thalia

See Bird Memories Page click to view

Family photos of Dorothy and Gertrude together

Family photos of Dorothy and Gertrude together
There are very few photos in the family of the two women together as Harry kept them separated as much as possible. Gertrude bringing up the children and Dorothy working in the businesses.