Gerald Osmond Hubert Mollett
Southend-on-Sea, Dulwich, 1911-1917
Le Divorce Edwardian Style- an article on the excellent Edwardian Promenade site about love, marriage and divorce in Edwardian times.
For a time the young family may well have been happy in Southend - enjoying the beach and the Kursaal fun fair, and the fresh sea air. But increasingly it looks like all was not well with the marriage.
Some facts obtained from ‘real’ documents which support this theory.
• On March 22nd 1913 a girl child, Violet, is born to Maude Beatrice Mollett and Gerald Osmond Hubert Mollett at 386 Brockley Road, Lewisham.
• On October 19 1914 a boy child, Harry, is born to the same parents at 39 Blenheim Grove, Peckham
• On November 30 1915 Gerald makes a will, leaving everything to his three children (Florence Elsie, Hubert Stanley and Roland Harold). There is no mention of his wife Maude or of Violet or Harry. His two oldest brothers are executors, two sisters are witnesses and his address is now his mother’s house in Dulwich.
We had the will long before we had the two birth certificates, and were always troubled by the fact that Maude was not mentioned in it, although I think we thought then, that she must have already been dead, as we knew that she had died young. Then my brother let drop one day that our grandparents had divorced (not so I think as there appears to be no record of this), but the seeds were sown for the marriage breakdown theory. The almost accidental discovery of the two extra children only seemed to confirm it. Further, less exact, evidence might be that the names of the two children are slightly different from the names of the other children - no middle names and slightly less upper middle-class?, and that they were born back in south London, even though just two years before the family had been firmly ensconced in Southend (and indeed, Maude later returned there). This latter, is of course a very flimsy piece of evidence, because the family could easily have moved back to London. However, the house where Harry was born is, in fact, just around the corner from Maude’s parents.
Since I wrote up Gerald on my website, I have very excitingly found out what happened to those two children - and this will be written up in full on The Children page. Suffice to say that, it really doesn't look as if they were Gerald's.
And here is the will:
“THIS IS THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of me GERALD OSMOND HUBERT MOLLETT of Southbank Belvoir Road East Dulwich in the County of London Accountant I hereby revoke all former Wills and testamentary dispositions made by me and declare this to be my last Will and Testament I appoint my Brothers Frederick Lewis Mollett and Wilfred John Mollett to be sole EXECUTORS hereof and hereafter refer to them as "my Trustees" I give devise and bequeath unto and to the use of my Trustees all property of which I may die possessed whether real or personal and of every nature and kind whatsoever Upon trust to use the whole or such part thereof as they may in their absolute discretion consider necessary or advisable for the maintenance and advancement and benefit of my three children Florence Elsie Mollett Hubert Stanley Mollett and Roland Harold Mollett and any sum which may be remaining upon their attaining the age of twenty one years is to be divided equally between them and I appoint my Trustees Sole Guardians to my infant children IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my hand to this my last Will and Testament this Thirtieth day of November One thousand nine hundred and fifteen - GERALD OSMOND HUBERT MOLLET - SIGNED by the above named Testator Gerald Osmond Hubert Mollett as and for his last Will and testament in the present of us both being present at the same time who at his request in his present and the presence of each other have hereunto set and subscribed our names as witnesses - JESSIE KATHLEEN GERTRUDE MOLLETT Spinster 7 Belvoir Road East Dulwich S.E. - DOROTHY MILDRED MOLLETT (SPINSTER) 7 Belvoir Road E.Dulwich S.E. London”
Maude is glaringly absent - as are Violet and Harry. But Maude did not die until 1925, so she is not dead.
William Henri Colchester Mollett
Hubert Stanley Mollett
And what did happen to the three legitimate children? Did they leave with Gerald and go and live with their grandmother and their aunts in leafy Dulwich? Or did they stay with their now, probably impoverished and disgraced mother? There is also a family rumour of orphanages - but surely not? Who would have done that to them? The other family story that my father was brought up by his aunts, is rather more likely I feel.
But back to Gerald. Perhaps he believed that Violet was his child, or perhaps he forgave Maude, and took her back, but with the second child he must have been forced to admit that the marriage was over. Well perhaps. The birth certificates firmly state that he is the father of both after all, but I guess if he was not and if their real father, for whatever reason, did not want to own them, then it is logical that Maude, who registered their births, would have given his name. Maude may well have left him anyway, and merely used his name on the birth certificates to maintain her reputation.
And what troubles me is that my father was six when Violet was born. Surely he would remember her? But he never mentioned her or her brother. Although when we finally got in touch with Violet's descendants, they said that she had no idea that her parents were supposed to be the Molletts, so perhaps she never was acknowledged as a Mollett. Harry too.
Was Gerald's heart broken? Or had he too stopped loving Maude? And what happened to his own children? In those days, if there was a divorce (which there wasn’t) and if the woman had committed adultery (adultery was one of only two legal reasons for divorce, the other being cruelty), then she lost everything - money, home and children. I wonder whether his family pressured him to divorce her? It certainly seems that he went home to mum - the address on the will is 7 Belvoir Road, East Dulwich - which is where she lived with her unmarried daughters. Belvoir Rd is shown at left - rather empty looking don’t you think?