Author Archives: Richard

Henriette de Bellegarde’s first marriage

The ever resourceful Jacky Fogerty has discovered  that another Ancestry user, BrianFreeman15, who seems to be descended from the second husband of Henriette de Bellegarde’s mother, has found Henriette’s divorce record from her first husband Julius Rudolph Erckens, and uploaded it to his public Bouwen Tree.

Ironically it has been sitting there in the UK High Court of Justice divorce proceedings, Erckens v Erckens, final decree 1 Nov 1887. We had not found it because we thought she was probably divorced in France.

Brian Freeman’s has tracked down Henriette’s (English) mother and sister Eugenie (who was a witness at Henriette’s wedding to William Domville Rowland) and documented their lives in England.

There is an article in the London Evening Standard which gives a colourful account of Henriette’s life with her first husband as follows:

High Court of Justice… Probate and Divorce Division (Before Sir J Hannen) Erckens v Erckens – This was a petition presented by the wife, Henrietta Eliza Suzanne Erckens, praying for the dissolution of her marriage on the ground of the cruelty and adultery of her husband, a chemical manufacturer. Mr Middleton said in 1880 the Petitioner was living in London with her parents, and the Respondent, HER COUSIN, came on a visit. The parties became engaged, and they were married in Saxony before the Burgomaster. They lived in Saxony till 1882. The Respondent then took out emigration papers from the German Government, and the parties so doing were prevented from living in Germany afterwards except as visitors, and in no case longer than two years. They some time after that took up their residence in England, but at the latter end of that year, 1882, they went to Mexico in order to look for employment. Nothing resulted from that visit. In November 1883 they again returned to England, and after a short residence the Respondent went to Vienna, where he remained until 1884. The Respondent left his wife at Vienna, where her mother resided, and returned to London. About Christmas that year the Respondent started for New Orleans, with the hope of getting employment at the Exhibition, the Petitioner being again left in England. In 1885 he again returned, and he and the Petitioner took up their residence at Hammersmith. The Respondent again went to New Orleans, but before he came back to this country last year she discovered that he had been on improper terms with a Madame Perron, and the present suit was instituted…case stood over

Jacky found a record for Rudolph Erckens travelling to New Orleans at the right time.

The above article mentions that her husband was her cousin, so Jacky looked at her mother’s family and has given a condensed version of a complicated story, which has interesting echoes of the Rowland story, as follows:

Matthew Urlwin Sears and his wife Susanna Caroline Smartt had an engraving and publishing business in St Pancras and by 1861 also had a country residence in Edmonton Middlesex. They seem to have had three children. Daughter Harriet Sarah married a German from Burtscheid Aachen in the Rheinland, Gustav Adolph Rudolph Erckens (called Rudolph) in 1851 at St Pancras Church – probably a trade connection of her father’s. In 1853 he was a banker in Paris and signed legal documents to terminate his partnership with his father Johann/Jean, who had died, and make Harriet Sarah his partner. Shortly after, son Julius Rudolph (also called Rudolph) was born, apparently in Paris (Brian Freeman has a date), and subsequently the family was back in Burtscheid Aachen having more children, whose birth and baptism records are on Ancestry with mother’s and father’s full names. A sister of Gustav Adolph Rudolph, Julienne, has descendants in the US with a family tree on Ancestry.

At some stage another daughter of Matthew and Susanna, Caroline Prudence Sears, somehow made her way from London to Gibraltar, where she married Jean Alexandre Paulin Niboyet on 25 Oct 1856. This is conveniently set out on a Geneanet page for the Niboyet/Mouchon families:

This also has a fine Niboyet/Mouchon family tree and two articles about Jean Alexandre’s activities as a French Consul and an author/playwright and a photo and summary about his mother from Wikipedia (fascinating family!).

Caroline and Jean Alexandre had two daughters, Henriette and Eugenie, but all did not go well and there was a divorce petition from him in London in 1863, co-respondent Chapotin. This did not result in divorce, but a subsequent petition from Caroline, alleging adultery and not defended, resulted in a divorce finalised on 26 January 1880.  A media report incorrectly states that there were no children from this marriage, despite the evidence of other official documents and the Geneanet page.

After the divorce, Caroline immediately married an entrepreneur called Charles Waller and both her daughters are living with them in the 1891 Census, Henriette under her maiden name. Ancestry had garbled both names and put them down with surname Waller, which is why they were not showing up on searching. Caroline died in 1893 and “Henriette Elise Susanne Erckens singlewoman” was her Executrix. Caroline was buried in St Pancras chapel, possibly a traditional burial place for the Sears family. Poor Eugenie did not marry and ended up as a servant to a bricklayer’s family in the 1911 Census, a very sad end.

Meanwhile, Jean Alexandre also quickly remarried, to a German woman, Stephanie Leser (there are good records for her family in Germany on Ancestry), and they had two children. The daughter, Pauline Niboyet Dubois, became a naturalised US citizen in New York in 1936 and died in 1937, in the US or France.

We do not know what happened to Julius Rudolph Erckens after the divorce. The article goes on to say that in 1887 he was helping his new lady friend, Madame Perron, with her glass engraving and silk painting business in Lambeth.



New Cousins


The Sadler connection


Followers of my tree will remember that Henriette Ditges wife of Alexander William Rowland died in 1851, giving birth to Henrietta. William Alexander did not remarry and he brought in Aunt Sophie to look after the children. However researches by Jacky Fogerty have revealed that he took a mistress, Caroline Sadler, widow of James George Sadler, a mariner who had died in 1844. With her, Alexander William fathered four children –


Alexis Caroline-1856


Ellen Maisie-1861

Alexander William was named on their birth certificates described as a gentleman, but all the children took the surname Sadler. Alexander William died in 1861-the Sadlers were not mentioned in his Will. Mrs Sadler lived in Deptford, not far from Lewisham, so I expect Alexander William would visit in secret in a hansom cab! Interestingly Robert named his father on his marriage certificate as James George Sadler, mariner . Perhaps he just wanted to avoid the implications of illegitimacy-it seems unlikely that his mother would have been able to cover up her liason with Alexander William for 10 years.

Robert Sadler had five children-

William Robert-1883

Bertram John-1884

Victor George-1885

Lily Ethel-1888

Mabel Violet-1871

Victor George spent time in Argentina, returning to Liverpool with his son Martin Gordon born 1931.

At this stage the trail runs cold-Martin Gordon Sadler would be my father’s third cousin.


The Niboyet Connection


Jacky Fogerty has located further information about Henriette de Bellegarde via research by Brian Freeman. I will post this separately. Also I was contacted by Claire Juliette Beale via my website for information about Henriette- she was her grandmother’s half sister, as explained below.


My grandfather, William Domville Rowland’s first wife was Henriette Niboyet, Baroness de Bellegarde. She inherited this title from her father Alexander Paulin Niboyet-it had been granted to his grandfather Colonel Jean Niboyet by Napoleon for services in the field. (readers of my website will remember that my mother in law Barbie Adcock was brought up by her Jomini cousins, whose celebrated ancestor was Baron General Jomini- again ennobled by Napoleon for services at Austerlitz, Ulm, Jena and Eylau. Despite his socialist leanings Napoleon had no problem garnering support by giving titles to his followers)


Alexander Paulin Niboyet had a second marriage to Stephanie Lesser who had two children-



Pauline would have been a half sister to Henriette and accordingly half sister in law to my grandfather William Domville.

Pauline’s granddaughter is Claire Juliette Beale who lives in the US –my new third cousin.

Welcome to the tree!


Mary Cherry

Mary Cherry died on 14 May 2015 aged 88. She had a distinguished career as a farming journalist and latterly as Chairman of Oxfam.

She also put together the Mawle family trees on this website.

Her obituaries can be viewed in the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian

Rev William John Rowland’s divorce

Jacky Fogerty has uncovered a newspaper report of Rev William John Rowland’s divorce from Annie Ellen Domville in 1881. We believed that he had spent some of his fortune obtaining the divorce. It now appears that he received damages of £400 from the co-respondent Dr Cornelius John McKenna. The report gives the evidence from the hearing-he was their doctor in India. In 1878 she admitted her misconduct to her husband, and he forgave her whilst staying at the Charing Cross Hotel. But she then eloped with Dr McKenna in 1881. Evidence was given by the manager of the Grand Hotel, Charing Cross that the couple “remained all night, occupying the same room, and left for Paris the next day”.

Clearly Charing Cross was a hotbed of passion.

Sir James Hannen directed the jury to award Rev WJ Rowland £400 damages and pronounced a decree nisi.

Press Report

Press Report


Dr Cornelius John McKenna

My great grandmother Annie Ellen Rowland (nee Domville) eloped with Dr McKenna in 1882 when he was Medical Officer for the Bengal 26th Native Infantry. After her divorce from Rev William John Rowland, they married in Marylebone in 1883. He became a Surgeon Lt Col in the Bengal Army and was retired and living at Beyres, Bayonne, France at his death in 1902.

His Will makes no provision for his wife; possibly they were estranged.It also seems likely that there were no children of the marriage, although Annie Ellen was only 30 at the time of her second marriage. The 1911 Census shows her living with her mother who died in 1914.

Annie Ellen died in 1932, being supported in old age by her daughter Lady Agnes Gibbs. I do not know whether she was ever reconciled with her other children.

As ever I am indebted to Jacky Fogerty for some of the details here.

N.W.R.(Billie) Mawle

I was recently re-reading Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis describing his adventures in the Royal Flying Corps in WW1. I remember my grandmother always wore her brother’s RFC “wings’ badge with pride. I googled him and found out that he was also a WW1 fighter ace. This was the time when new recruits to the RFC had an average life of three weeks. He started with  Se5 squadron 84 in Northern France on 17 July 1918. By 8 August, three weeks later he had 12 successful hits, amazingly shooting down 3 Fokkers (sic) on one day; he was then severely injured and invalided out. In November 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Uncle Billie was always kind to me giving me a 21st present of a sturdy leather suitcase with my initials on the side-we now keep dressing up clothes in it-later he gave me a leather writing case, also with my initials. At Cambridge I used a portable British Empire typewriter from his factory in Birmingham. I am sorry I never had the opportunity to hear his war stories. He came to my wedding on 25 September 1971 but died three months later.

Visit to the Bischofshof, Bad Honnef

On 10th June Philip and Melanie Gibbs and Richard Rowland replicated the visit in the 1920’s of Philip’s Great Grandfather Sir Philip Gibbs, and his wife Lady Agnes, Richard’s Great Aunt, to locate the so called “family schloss” of the Ditges family. Sir Philip was unable to find the “schloss”; perhaps if he had known in was the Bishop’s Palace he would have succeeded.

Of course our Australian cousin, Jacky Fogerty had already located it online, so our task was easy. Friederich Ditges, who was the agent for Germany and Switzerland for Rowland’s Macassar Oil, acquired the Bischofshof in 1825 when it was secularised. Alexander William Rowland visited it in the 1830’s and met his daughter Henriette; they were married in 1839. It remained in the Ditges family until 1917 when it became a school; in 1942 the Gestapo moved in, and in 2000 it became the IUBH-a privately owned international business school specialising in tourism management. It has 1800 students of which about 80% are German. All students live on the extensive campus in modern accommodation. Of the Bischofshof, only the gateway and the main tower remain. One of the rooms on the ground floor retains the original panelling.

Bad Honnef is said to house more millionaires than anywhere else in Germany. It is certainly a delightful old town, with winding pedestrianised streets and pleasant gardens fronting the Rhine. We cruised down past Rolandsect, site of Charlemagne’s palace where his general Roland was based. The past the site of the Bridge at Remagen to Linz where Philip and Melanie toured the town whilst I sampled the delights of a beer garden.

Later we visited the gothic fantasy castle Drackensfeld built by a banker who had financed the Suez canal. Apparently he never lived there.The cog railway goes up to the Drackensfeld mountain to a good newly constructed restaurant with panoramic views north to Bonn and south to Bad Honnef

Original panelling in the Bishops Room

Original panelling in the Bishops Room

Drackensfeld Castle

Drackensfeld Castle

Press Release


Visit by English descendants of the owners of the Bischofshof, Bad Honnef.



Richard Rowland and Philip and Melanie Gibbs are visiting the IUBH Business School, whose campus contains the Bischofshof, the family home of the Ditges family. In 1839, their relation, Alexander William Rowland married Henriette Ditges (see portrait) whose father Friedrich Ditges, a merchant from Cologne, had acquired the Bischofshof, after it was secularized in 1826.


The last attempt by the English family to locate the Ditges family home was by Philip’s relations Sir Philip Gibbs, the war correspondent, journalist and novelist and his wife Lady Agnes in the 1920’s. They had a drawing of the Bischofshof, but failed to find it. It is possible that by then the building had been altered. (see photo) Thanks to the internet it is now easy to locate.


Alexander William Rowland was the proprietor of Rowland’s Macassar Oil, a business founded by his grandfather in about 1800. It made and sold one of the first hair oils and was credited as being one of the first nationally advertised products. (see advertisement) Like the Hoover, its name became associated with the product. By the 1840’s the hair oil was being used by the Royal Family and nobility of England, as well as by several sovereigns and courts in Europe. The business was sold to Beechams, now part of Glaxo Smith Kline, in the 1940’s.


Alexander and Henriette lived in London and had eight children. Henriette died in 1851 giving birth to a daughter, Henrietta who became a celebrated social reformer and founder of Hampstead Garden Suburb and the Dame Henrietta Barnett School for Girls in North London. So Henriette’s name lives on.


Richard has recently published his family history, Fifteen Generations of the Rowland Family. It is available online at







The Bischofshof today

The Bischofshof today

The Bischofshof in 1910

The Bischofshof in 1910    


Dulcie Vaila Bonser

Happy to announce the birth of my daughter Tessa’s first child, Dulcie Vaila Bonser on 27 March 2014 at the Norwich and Norfolk Hospital. She was delivered by c-section weighing under 3 lbs. She is putting on weight and has been able to go home with Tessa and Richard.Dulcie