The Mayor’s Committee 1914-1919

Updated 27 December 2016

The Mayor’s Belgian Refugees Committee

List of names (in bold) as listed in the Committee’s 1919 Report

His Worship the Mayor (Chairman)

Mr Charles Whitbourn EMSON of ‘Torrington’, 25 Broadwater Down

The Mayoress

Margaret Ella EMSON nee SMITH of ‘Torrington’, 25 Broadwater Down

*Mrs C.W. BURTON – House Sub-Committee

Alice Edith BURTON nee HOYLE of ‘Sobie’, 28 Broadwater Down

Mburtons-house-in-francearried to Charles William BURTON, they  retired to Tunbridge Wells in 1910 from Nogent-les-Vierges (now Nogent-sur-Oise), France, leaving their sons to manage the family engineering firm there, Maison Burton fils.  The family had lived there since the early 1880s, building themselves a home, the Chateau des Rochers,  which still stands and is now the town’s Cultural Centre.

Mr W.C. CRIPPS (Town Clerk)

William Charles CRIPPS, JP,  of  ‘The Lawn’, Camden Park


Robertina Mary CROTHERS of 72 and 24 Pennington Road, Southborough

born in Nice (France), a Doctor’s daughter.  72 Pennington Road was first used to house two Belgian refugee families before in 1915 becoming an Annexe to VAD Hospital Kent 94 known as ‘Crothers Hospital’.


probably Cecilia Harriet FERGUSON, nee JACOMB-HOOD, of ‘Elerslie’, 1 Garlinge Road, Southborough

who was Lady Superintendant and then Commandant of Kent 94  VAD Hospital at WestHall and later Bredbury, and its annexe Crothers Hospital, having first served as a Night Sister in the Royal Victoria Hall VAD Hospital, Southborough. She was the wife of retired brewer and local councillor Reginald FERGUSON, a Churchwarden of St Thomas’s Church for some years and Secretary of Kent 94.

*Mrs GUTHRIE House Sub-Committee, Clothing Sub-Committee

Nora GUTHRIE nee POWER, 7 Church Road

Sister of Susan POWER below, and wife of Dr Thomas GUTHRIE, one of the local doctors who volunteered his services to help the refugees.  Theatre director Tyrone GUTHRIE was their son.  Nora GUTHRIE was also on the Committee of the Quarry Road Soldiers’ Canteen


See Clayton’s Committee page

*The very Rev. Canon J. KEATINGE

Parish priest of St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church.  His brother William KEATINGE was a senior (and eventually the most senior) Roman Catholic Army Chaplain.

*Mr Councillor KELSEY (until July 1917)

Edward Maughan KELSEY of Culverden Glen, Culverden Down

eldest son of Edward and Lucy (nee MAUGHAN), and a member of the family firm of E. & H. Kelsey, Culverden Brewery in St Johns.  He married vicar’s daughter Beryl BUCKLE in October 1906 in celebration of which he threw a party for all employees of the Brewery and instituted a Saturday half-holiday (Courier 6 November 1906).  Edward KELSEY Jnr was elected to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in 1910 and served on the Works, Waterworks, and Cultivation of Lands Committees, as well as being a Commons Conservator.  In July 1917, at the age of 40, he volunteered and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Army Service Corps, serving in France, Belgium and Germany – from where he was invalided home in May 1918.  He never recovered from his injuries and died on 2nd October 1919.   The Courier wrote the following day: “Mr Kelsey may be said to have sacrificed his life for his country as much as if he had died on the battlefield, and a career of great public usefulness has been prematurely closed by his lamented death.”

Mrs LE LACHEURHousing Sub-Committee

Lydia Le LACHEUR nee DOMAILL , of The Wildernesse, Pembury Road. 

widow of John, mother of 8 daughters and 4 sons.  She looked after the Belgian refugees at Grosvenor Lodge on Grosvenor Road.  You can read more about the LE LACHEUR women on the University of Kent’s ‘Inspiring Women‘ website.


one of the 8 daughters of the above…


Belgian refugee Gabrielle LE JEUNE nee KREGLINGER, from Antwerp, living at Stanton House, Pembury

wife of future Belgian Senator Albert LE JEUNE.  The KREGLINGER family were of the German Protestant community in Antwerp, and among those who broke away to set up a French-speaking Protestant church community during the war.  In 1920 Mme LE JEUNE became a Deacon of the church in Antwerp, and was the first female Deacon on the National Synod.  During their stay in Tunbridge Wells/Pembury she and her husband played a very active part in the life of both Belgian and local communities.  After the war, they sent a cheque for £50 to be used for educational purposes in Tunbridge Wells, and so was born the Le Jeune prize for an Historical Essay which offered two annual prizes of One Guinea each to a boy from Skinner’s School and a girl from the County School (now Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar – TWGGS) for the best historical essay – a competition which continued until the 1930s at Skinners School and the 1990s at TWGGS [1].  Mr LE JEUNE was proud to have an English grandmother, but I haven’t traced her yet…


Katherine LEACH nee MARGARY,

wife of  William Henry LEACH


Louisa Gertrude LUSHINGTON of  ‘Templehurst’, Pennington Road, Southborough

was a close friend of Robertina CROTHERS with whom she lived from about 1929 until her (Miss LUSHINGTON’s) death in 1932. The two women were travelling together in Switzerland when war broke out and their safe return received extensive coverage in the local press.  Louisa was the daughter of the late Sir Franklin LUSHINGTON, friend and literary executor of artist and poet Edward LEAR; Sir Franklin was a barrister-at-law and later Chief Police Magistrate in London from 1899 until his death in 1901.   Her uncle was married to Cecilia TENNYSON, sister of the poet. Louisa LUSHINGTON was Organiser of the Tunbridge Wells War Hospital Supply Depot at 50 The Pantiles.

*Miss McCLEAN – Clothing Sub-Committee

Anna McLEAN of Rusthall House (not to be confused with Rust Hall)

daughter of the late Frank McLEAN, Civil Engineer and Justice of the Peace who had ‘retired’ to Tunbridge Wells in 1872 at the age of 36.  He died in Brussels in 1904 – somehow I feel that must be relevant to the Belgian refugee story.  During the war she worked as a Parlourmaid and Transport Officer at Rust Hall VAD Hospital (Kent 154) for which work she was mentioned in dispatches. 

Miss McLEAN and Miss POWER (see below) covered the rental costs of what was to become known as The Belgian Hostel at 47 Upper Grosvenor Road, and in 1919 Rusthall House was the venue for a farewell party for the Belgians, hosted by the ladies of the Committee at their own cost.

One of her brothers was the pioneering aviator Francis Kennedy McCLEAN who in 1912 flew a seaplane along the Thames, through Tower Bridge and under London Bridge…


probably Aimee Elizabeth Marjorie MOINET, Tonbridge Poor Law Guardian until 1919

daughter of Presbyterian Minister Charles MOINET of ‘Redcross’, Oakdale Road, Tunbridge Wells.  After her widowed mother’s death in 1914, the house was sold and she moved to 53 Mount Ephraim.  Her brother was married to the daughter of Dr and Mrs Claude WILSON  (see below).


See Clayton’s Committee page


There are at least 4 contenders:

– the Misses POTT of Bentham Hill House, Southborough, and later of  ‘Paveys’, Langton Green  – Ada and Evelyn who were daughters of vinegar manufacturer, the late Robert POTT; and

– their cousins Mary and Katherine, the Misses POTT of ‘Birchetts’, Speldhurst , and later of ‘Ickwell’, Langton- daughters of Robert POTT‘s brother, the late Rev. Francis POTT 

Ada Mary POTT (1853-1951) was the oldest of the four by more than 10 years and outlived the other three, dying at the age of 98, but beyond that I haven’t yet found anything about her.  As the oldest she would probably have particularly been known as ‘Miss POTT’.

Her sister Evelyn Mabel POTT (1866-1938) was a nurse at Bidborough Court  VAD hospital (Kent 74), “as a result of which she lost her forearm” (The Kent and Sussex Courier, 15 April 1938). Towards the end of the war, she organised an arts and crafts association for soldiers which was much appreciated.  In recognition of her work she was made an MBE.

Their cousin Katherine (‘Kay’) Frances Wilson POTT (1867-1946) was Commandant of Bidborough Court VAD Hospital (Kent 74).  She was Treasurer of the Speldhurst District Nursing Association, and also of the local Women’s Institute from its formation (1915?) until her death in 1941. She was awarded the Ordre de la Reine Elisabeth and made an MBE for her war work.

Mary Frances Wilson POTT  (1865-1941) was also Treasurer of the Speldhurst District Nursing Association.

I had thought Katherine POTT was the ‘Miss POTT’ on the Belgian Refugee Committee, as her VAD hospital took in wounded Belgian soldiers, but, although she received the Belgian Queen Elisabeth Medal for her war work, her name does not appear on the list of Committee members who received the award.

*Miss POWER Housing Sub-Committee

Susan Gilbert POWER, Ticehurst Poor Law Guardian, of  ‘The Crossways’, Frant Road

Sister of Nora GUTHRIE above. Miss POWER and Miss McCLEAN (see above) covered the rental costs of what was to become known as The Belgian Hostel at 47 Upper Grosvenor Road.  In 1919 she and Amelia SCOTT (see below) were the first women to be elected to Tunbridge Wells Town Council.

Read more about Susan POWER on the University of Kent’s ‘Inspiring Women‘ website.


Francis George Antonio RIVAROLA of ‘Bradstowe’, Linden Park Gardens

actually English, from Ramsgate, but of Maltese extraction, he moved  to Tunbridge Wells in early 1914. He was President of the Tunbridge Wells Branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society, St Augustine’s Roman Catholic  Church


probably Lucy Maud ROBERTS, of ‘Oaklands’, Langton Road (1901)

daughter of a former Vicar of Tidebrook, the Rev. Albert J ROBERTS. In the 1901 census, they were next door neighbours to ‘New Woman’ writer and suffragist Madame Sarah GRAND who lived at the Gray House on Langton Road from   c1898-c1903.  Reverend ROBERTS died in 1905 and interestingly his address was Stanton House, Pembury (see Madame LEJEUNE above).  I wonder where his daughter lived?  In 1911 she was visiting her widowed brother-in-law, Maurice LLEWELYN DAVIES (see below).

Her  brother, the Liberal politician Charles Henry ROBERTS, MP for Lincoln 1906-1918, was married to the daughter of the 9th Earl of Carlisle. Her sister married Maurice LLEWELLYN DAVIES, son of liberal churchman the Rev John LLEWELLYN DAVIES**, Rector of Christchurch Marylebone – who deserves a blog post all of his own, not least because of the family’s connection to JM Barrie and ‘Peter Pan’ as well to as the Women’s Suffrage movement… Anyone?

**Another of his children was social reformer and general secretary of the Women’s Co-operative Guild Margaret LLEWELYN DAVIES (Wikipedia Link), a woman Leonard WOOLF called ‘one of the most eminent I have ever known’.

Miss Monica ROBINS

probably Monica Gottfrieda ROBINS, of ‘The Hall’, Southborough, and later The White House, Tunbridge Wells.

Daughter of retired clergyman, the Rev. George Augustus ROBINS.  Miss ROBINS was a VAD nurse at Crothers Hospital (Annexe to Kent 94) from 1917 to 1919.

*Miss A SCOTT – Housing Sub-Committee

Poor Law Guardian, pioneering social reformer, and campaigner for women’s suffrage – read more about her on the University of Kent’s Inspiring Women website.

Amelia SCOTT was Vice-President of the local branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), Secretary of the local branch of the National Council of Women, and during the war also oversaw the setting up of the Soldiers’ laundries in the town.  In 1919 she and Susan POWER (see above) were the first women to be elected to Tunbridge Wells Town Council.


Louisa SCOTT  Sister of Amelia.

Writer Katherine Tynan who lived in Southborough for a short while in 1910-1911, and was famously critical of its inhabitants in her 1916 memoirs The Middle Years, found The Misses SCOTT ‘refreshing and remarkable’.  ‘With them,’ she wrote, ‘you touched the bigger interests of the life of the world.’

*Mrs C WILSON Furnishing Sub-Committee

Annette WILSON nee GUTHRIE,  of 9 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells

wife of Doctor Claude WILSON, and sister-in-law of Nora GUTHRIE above.

*Executive Committee members

[1] First winner at the County School was Enid Lakeman (in 1920)