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William Henri Colchester Mollett  Death 

London 1903

,At the age of 44 in 1892, William Henri made his will.  I doubt he had intimations of mortality - it was probably just what a sensible Victorian accountant did.  Still you would have to wonder why he did do it at that point.  He left everything to his wife, and, moreover,  she was the sole executrix.  Did he have no faith in his children?  Did he think they did not need his help?  Or was he merely providing for his wife and assuming that the children would be OK and that she would do the right thing by them anyway?  It doesn’t even contemplate the possibility that she might be dead too.  Although now that I think about it, this is probably a standard thing to do, although there's usually something about dividing it amongst the children if she is dead..  I do not have the original but here is a transcription:


This is the last Will and Testament of me William Henri Colchester Mollett Chartered Accountant now living at Melton House 101 Grove Lane Camberwell I devise and bequeath all the real and personal estate to which I shall be entitled at the time of my decease unto my wife Caroline Margaret Mollett (née Smith) of the above address absolutely and I appoint the said Caroline Margaret Mollett sole Executor of this my will hereby revoking all former testamentary writings In Witness whereof I have hereunder set my hand this sixth day of April 1892 - W.H.C. Mollett - Signed by the said testator as his last will and testament in the presence of us present at the same time who at his request in his presence and  in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses - W. Barrett - Herbert J. Watt.


On the 14th day of October 1903 Probate of this Will was granted to Caroline Margaret Mollett the sole Executrix.”

The witnesses are unknown to me, so I assume that they are either business associates or solicitors.   William Henri died on 10th August 1903, so his affairs did not take long to wind up - and I do wonder whether it is remarkable or not that his wife was the Executrix.  Normally, it seems to me, these things are left to sons or to professionals.  He left her the princely sum of £440 6s which is £25,251.21 in today’s money, according to the National Archives historical currency conversion table.  Not really a very princely sum at all - difficult to live on I would think.   Did it include the house they were living in?  And as an aside, and perhaps as a clue to why she was the sole Executrix, by the time Caroline died in 1929 she had somehow made that money grow to £1,115 3s 5d (£38,605.81), whilst presumably spending some of it on living expenses for herself and at least one of her daughters (Jessie), who was still living with her when she died.  Maybe she was a better money manager than William Henri.  And, of course, maybe the sons helped out too.

Some time between the census of 1901 and 1903, when William Henri died, the family must have moved to 12 Therapia Road, East Dulwich.  This is the address given on his death certificate and Gerald, and at least one other son (Wilfred, the oldest) were also living there at the time, so one must assume that the whole family had moved there.  Was this a step slightly down the social ladder?  The photo at left is of a Victorian mansion in the street.  I don’t know what number it is, but I guess they lived in a house something like this.  Must get my sister to go and check it out some day.  They might have been downsizing as the children gradually left home, although this particular house looks pretty sizeable.

William Henri died in the Great Ormond St. Homeopathic Hospital of gradual cerebral thrombosis over a period of 14 months, paralysis for one month and exhaustion.  Somewhat drawn out, which is probably why he was in hospital, although for how long we do not know.  So what is cerebral thrombosis? - well, a stroke basically.


“Cerebral thrombosis is the official name for the most common type of stroke. This condition occurs when a clot of blood forms locally in one of the arteries of the body that supplies the brain. The clot actually blocks the artery and keeps it from functioning. This creates a similar, yet differentiated condition from cerebral embolism, which is another form of stroke. Like a cerebral embolism, however, the effect is the cutting off of nutrition and blood flow from one part of the brain.  The formation of a blood clot in a cerebral vessel ordinarily takes place only if there has been damage to one or more of the arteries. This is usually caused by a condition called atherosclerosis. the vessel may be degenerated, hardened or otherwise damaged. This is one of the reasons that cerebral thrombosis occurs in elderly people and individuals who have problems with known high blood pressure and a hardening of the arteries.  Symptoms will depend on how large the vessel and the clot are. If one of the main arteries supplying the brain is blocked, then the individual affected may lose consciousness and be paralyzed on one side of the body. This would also result in loss of speech if the left cerebral hemisphere is affected. Symptoms may resemble those of cerebral embolism, but the onset will be less sudden and may include warning signs and a period of time lasting up to a few hours where the individual will feel faint, dizzy, and potentially have a headache. However, this condition also tends to occur when a person is resting or sleeping as mentioned earlier.”  Associated content article by Kory Rodley Irons (This may not be as official as some, but it was the clearest definition that I found).

Given that the last address the Chartered Accountants had for William Henri was his home address, and also given the length of time for his condition on the death certificate (14 months) one can only assume that William Henri had his first stroke fourteen months before his death, and that his condition deteriorated from then on.  He must have been nursed at home by his wife and daughters, with some help from the servants.  That was my guess anyway.  Nowadays it seems that cerebral thrombosis is, generally speaking, easily treated but there were not so many treatments available in those days.  So eventually like many Victorians the family sought help in homeopathy

But now a new story has come to light.  It seems that whilst at the Stock Exchange one day my poor great-grandfather was top hatted by some young guys - this means his top hat was pulled down over his eyes.  This resulted in a fall - presumably because he couldn’t see where he was going, from which he died.  Now this does not quite tally with the death certificate, but I guess the stroke could have been brought on by the fall and therefore it did indirectly cause his death.  I wonder if the young men in question were reprimanded in some way.  You would think there would be some newspaper mention somewhere but so far I have been unable to find anything. 

Homeopathy was a typically Victorian thing, though it began back in the 18th century and continues today.  Apparently it was successful at the time - some say because it was less aggressive and intrusive than other contemporary medical treatment.  One statistic I have found states that, “according to the Registrar-General, the rate of mortality in the allopathic metropolitan hospitals is 7.5 per cent, the deaths in the Homeopathic Hospital, including those from cholera, have not exceeded 4.6 per cent.”  The hospital is still there, though I think it is now a hospital for alternative therapies of all kinds.   The hospital in which William Henri was a patient was the second in Great Ormond Street and was opened in 1895.  It was state-of-the-art, financed by private donations and with 100 beds for in-patients as well as an out-patient department.


“The West Wards are 29 1/2 ft. long, 28 ft. wide, and 13 ft. high, and contain eight beds, and open into the large wards of the New Wing to be described later. The East Wards are 50 1/2 ft. long, 28 ft. wide, and 13 ft. high, and contain 14 beds. Each bed is separated from the next by a window, and each patient has about 100 Square feet of floor space, and about 1,400 cubic feet of air. The walls and ceilings are of Keen's cement, painted and varnished, of a duck-egg green shade. The floors are of polished oak and teak, the floors and walls being finished with rounded angles. Each ward is supplied with a kitchen with gas range, and necessary cleansing and other arrangements on the latest approved model. Everything possible has been done throughout to prevent lodgement of dust and dirt and to facilitate easy cleaning and ensure sanitary conditions.

Ventilation is effected by means of a central open stove, admitting, from the exterior, warmed air in winter and cool air in summer; the smoke is extracted on the opposite side of the stove along flues in the floor to the chimney-stacks outside, thus keeping it clear unobstructed view of the wards; also by glazed hopper lights above the windows, and by lifting sashes. Both sections of each window, being on central swivels, afford summer ventilation as required, and also can be easily reversed to allow of cleaning from the inside.

A series of lifts for food, medicines, and goods serve every floor.”

But it wasn’t just for the rich - many of the services were free.  And I have no idea whether William Henri and his family paid for his treatment or whether he was a free patient



The London Homeopathic Hospital- an article from the Illustrated London News of April 1858.

The History of the London Homeopathic Hospital - a website by Peter Morrell and Sylvain Cazalet.  There are links to their own websites, with much more information about homeopathy.  A bit of a treasure trove, with many illustrations.

So a pillar of the community.  A typical Victorian.  My dad did say that the family fortune was lost through gambling - more likely his own dad than William Henri - but maybe he lost it on the stock exchange? 

A genial family man - at least that is the impression we have.

When I visited England in 2012 we found his grave.  He is buried with his wife, but I am ashamed to say I cannot remember which cemetery it was.  One of those big Victorian ones - maybe Norwood.  He is buried with his wife.  There was a cross on the top but somebody had recently been through the graveyard and knocked off all the crosses.

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