Among all of our closer relatives, probably the most colourful name was that of my great-aunt Mary /Marion/Marianne Weldon / Lindsay O’Toole /Stomm / Carr – and her life was at least as interesting.
Mary, as she was called by her family, was the youngest child of the ten children of Matthew Weldon and Catherine Quinn. She was born in Port Elizabeth in 1880, just a year later than my grandfather, John Charles Weldon. A confusing feature when I first came across her, was that she was not the only Mary Weldon of the family. There had been another some born years earlier, who had died aged just four or five. In keeping with common practice, the name was later repeated with another daughter. (My grandfather John Charles was likewise the second John in the family. John Flood Weldon had died when less than a year old).
Mary was just ten when her father Matthew died, but even while he was alive she is unlikely to have seen too much of him. After a colourful life of his own, Matthew had spend the last years of his life as a transport rider, serving especially the new malaria ridden gold fields in the Eastern Transvaal. There, he died in 1990, a mining camp called French Bob, near Barberton. After his death, his widow Catherine relocated to East London up the coast, presumably taking with her those of the children who had not yet left home – including Mary, and probably John Charles.
Ten years later, still only about twenty, she suffered two further bereavements. Early in 1990, her older brother Patrick Matthew died at Spioenkop (Natal), fighting for the British in the Anglo Boer War. A few months later, her mother also died, aged about sixty..
Just a couple of years later, in April 1902 she Charles Lindsay-Toone, who was then a lieutenant (presumably in the British army). Sometime within the next ten months, they must have made the move to England, because in February the following year, the birth was recorded of their daughter, Enid Rylda Aileen Lindsay – Toone, in Addlstone, Surrey. (Addlestone is just the neigbouring town to Woking, where I lived for a time early in my time in the UK).
However, the marriage did not last. In 1914 she divorced Charles and in 1917 married the rather grandly named Count Paul William John Augustin Stomm, and by the following year they were living in a property near Guildford called “Shoelands“, which is now a listed building. I have no information on the issues around the divorce and remarriage, but suspect it may have had something to do with her acting career, and the relative status of the two men concerned: on the one hand, an army lieutetant, on the other, a “count” (at least, as described in a note in the National Portrait Gallery).
At some point after her arrival in England, but before the divorce, Mary (who by now preferred to be known as “Marion”, began an acting career – described in some sources, as in “musical theatre”. There is confirmation of this in the National Portrait Gallery, which has in its “Theatre and live entertainment” collection, three photographs of Marion Lindsay Toole. On Ancestry UK, the Shaw Halett family tree states that she :
Went on stage as Miss Marion Lindsay. Was one of the original Gibson Girls. 13 of the most beautiful women in England. [In the production, Gaiety Girls]
The National Portrait Gallery has three photographs in its “theatre and live entertainment” collection.
Elsewhere, there is a pencil sketch by Norman Lindsay of the “Gaiety Girls”. It’s fair to say this is somewhat risque, rather than mainstream serious theatre.
Her marriage to Stomm ended with his death in 1923 , Many years later, she married again, to Phillip Carr in 1944.
Ten years later, in 1954 shee died in Richmond, Surrey,