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Part I: Origins and ancestors

Lilian Mary Olivia Cole was born on 4 August 1863 in Leixlip Castle, Leixlip, a town in County Kildare located just to the west of County Dublin. She was the only child of Edward Stuart Campbell Cole and Olivia Anne Cole (née Stevenson) who had married each other in Leixlip on 4 April 1861.

Lilian’s father, Edward Stuart Campbell Cole, was born in Ireland in 1831. He grew up in Moore Abbey in Monasterevin, County Kildare, the seat of the Marquess of Drogheda whose half-brother he was. Edward Cole was educated at Rugby School in the English county of Warwickshire and Eton College in Windsor. He gained the rank of captain in the service of the Oxfordshire Militia, held the office of Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire and was also a Justice of the Peace although, as a ‘gentleman’, he did not really practice a profession as such. In later life he lived in Hove, Sussex, where he died on 26 January 1898, leaving effects to the value of more than £20,000 in will.

Edward Stuart Campbell Cole was the son of Edward Henry Cole (b. 1804) and his second wife, the Honourable Mary Letitia Cole (née Parnell), daughter of Henry Brooke Parnell, 1st Baron Congleton and Lady Caroline Elizabeth Parnell (née Dawson-Damer). Lady Caroline was the daughter of John Dawson, 1st Earl of Portarlington and Lady Caroline Dawson (née Stuart). The aforementioned Parnells were related to the nineteenth-century Irish national politician Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-91).

Lilian Cole’s paternal great-grandfather was Stephen Thomas Cole (b. 1765). He married Lady Elizabeth Henrietta Stanley, daughter of Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, and Lady Elizabeth Smith-Stanley (née Hamilton) on 15 January 1795. Lady Elizabeth Hamilton was the daughter of James Hamilton, 6th Duke of Hamilton, and Elizabeth Hamilton (née Gunning), styled Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon. (More detailed information on Lilian Cole’s paternal ancestors in particular can be found at Main Page.)

Lilian Cole’s mother, Olivia Anne Stevenson, was born in Ireland in 1834, the daughter of the Reverend Joseph Roley Stevenson and Eliza Stevenson, who was born in Ireland in 1813. Joseph Stevenson was the son of Sir John Andrew Stevenson (b. 1761), who obtained a doctorate in music and died at Headfort House, Kells, County Meath, Ireland, on 14 September 1833. Lilian Cole’s mother, Olivia, died in Hove, Sussex, on 25 March 1898, two months after Lilian’s father had died in the same place.

Part II: Early life in England including marriage

In the 1881 Census of England, 17-year-old Lilian Cole was living in the village of Withycombe Raleigh, which is located a mile or so north-east of Exmouth railway station. Both of Lilian’s parents are listed on the census return, as is Eliza Stevenson, Lilian’s maternal grandmother, and a large retinue of servants, including a cook, a butler and a page. Edward Cole’s profession is listed as ‘Deputy Lieutenant (landed proprietor)’ while Lilian is listed as a ‘scholar’.

Lilian Cole married fellow lawn tennis player Charles Edward Pine Coffin on Tuesday, 18 August 1885 in Withycombe Church, Withycombe Raleigh. A detailed report of this marriage was carried in ‘The Devon and Exeter Daily Gazette’ newspaper on 19 August 1885 and is reproduced in part below, with some first names added:

“The marriage of Mr. [Charles] Edward Pine-Coffin, of Portledge, Bideford, to Miss Lilian M.O. Cole, daughter of Mr. Edward Campbell Stuart Cole, J.P., of Stoke Lyne, Withycombe, Exmouth, was celebrated at Withycombe Church yesterday. A large number of persons assembled to witness the ceremony. The service was choral. The Rev. George Carwithen, uncle of the bridegroom, officiated. Mr. Josceline Percy acted as best man, and the bride was given away by her father. In consequence of the recent death of Major-General [Henley Thomas] Bartlett – a near relation of the bridegroom – the wedding guests were confined to the immediate relatives of the bride and bridegroom.

“Among those present were Mrs. [Eliza] Stevenson (grandmother of the bride), Mr. Edward and Mrs. [Olivia] Cole, Mrs. Butler, Mrs. H., Misses, and Master Wright, Mr. and Mrs. Hoffmann, Messrs. A. and C. Hoffmann, Mr. Granville-Stevenson, Mrs. Denis Boles, Mr. A.B. Cane, the Rev. George Carwithen, and Mr. Josceline Percy. The bridesmaids were Miss [Julia] Pine-Coffin, sister of the bridegroom; Miss Wright and Miss R. Stevenson, cousins of the bride.

“The bride’s dress consisted of a bodice and train of the richest white satin, arranged with a skirt of handsome brocaded Ottoman silk of the same shade, and trimmed with Brussels lace and bridal flowers, the whole costume being completed with a veil and a bridal wreath. The bevy of bridesmaids – Miss Pine-Coffin, Miss Wright, Miss Stevenson and Miss Margarita Stevenson – were attired in exceptionally charming toilettes of crême embroidery, over which the now fashionable canvas material, the same shade, was artistically draped, with revers and trimmings of sky-blue satin merveilleuse; hats, &c., to correspond.

“The bride’s travelling dress was composed of vigogne, in the fashionable shade known as electric blue, arranged with panels of brocaded satin the same shade, relieved with a floral pattern brown satin. Hat, &c., en suite. The bride’s dresses, &c., and also those of the bridesmaids, were supplied by Mrs. J.T. Tucker & Sons, High Street, Exeter.

“During the afternoon the newly-wedded couple left Exmouth for London, en route to the Continent, where they intend spending their honeymoon. The wedding-cake was supplied by Messrs. Bolland, of Chester, and the bridal bouquets by Messrs. Veitch & Son, of Exeter. Flags and bunting were freely displayed from the church to Stoke Lyne, and mottoes, such as ‘God bless the happy pair’, ‘Happy may you be’, &c. Over the lodge-gate was a magnificent arch of evergreens, in the centre of which was the motto, ‘God bless the bride and bridegroom’.

“The following is a list of the wedding presents:- Mr. Cole, diamond dove and gold chain; Mrs. Cole, pearl ring; Marquis of Drogheda, pearl and diamond bracelet; Marchioness of Drogheda, diamond brooch; Lord Congleton, gold bracelet […]”

Part III: Charles Pine-Coffin and his ancestors

Charles Edward Pine-Coffin was born on 6 October 1862 in Exmouth, Devon. He was the eldest son of the Reverend Charles John Samuel Pine-Coffin, a clerk in holy orders (b. 10 February 1830 in Devon-d. 20 January 1871 in Woolston House, Kingsbridge), and Margaret Juliana Pine-Coffin (née Carwithen; 1832-1894).

The Reverend Charles John Samuel Pine-Coffin’s paternal grandfather, Reverend John Pine (1735-1824) had assumed the Coffin arms in 1796 after the death of his cousin, Richard Bennett Coffin, thus joining the Pine and Coffin families of Devon. The Pine-Coffin family lived in Portledge Manor in the parish of Alwington in Devon. The family was very wealthy and owned most of the land and property in the surrounding villages.

Following the death of the Reverend Charles John Samuel Pine-Coffin in 1871, Margaret Pine-Coffin remarried. Her second husband was Major-General Henley Thomas Bartlett (12 February 1824-26 July 1885 in Exmouth). They were married in 1874 in Saint George’s Church, Hanover Square, London. Major-General Bartlett was a retired lieutenant-colonel in the Bengal Staff Corps and a Justice of the Peace for the county of Devon. In the 1881 Census of England, the Bartlett family was living in a house in the village of Littleham in Devon.

Charles Edward Pine Coffin attended Marlborough College and, later, Cambridge University, where he studied law. Although he was admitted to the Inner Temple on 25 October 1883, he appears not to have practised law in later life.

Part IV: Later life in England

In the 1891 Census of England, Lilian Pine-Coffin was living on the Stoke Lyne Estate, which the Pine-Coffin family owned, in the parish of Withycombe Raleigh in Devon, with her husband Charles and her parents, Edward and Olivia. Edward Cole is listed as ‘Head’ of the family. Three female children were also present: 4-year-old Norma (b. 25 July 1886), 3-year-old Olive (b. 30 June 1887) and 1-year-old Nina Lilian (b. 1889). These three girls are listed as Edward Cole’s grandchildren and there is no doubt that they are the children of Lilian and Charles Pine-Coffin. All three of the children were born in Withycombe Raleigh. The same census return states that Charles Pine-Coffin was ‘Living on own means’ and also includes details of the family’s retinue of servants.

In the 1911 Census of England, 48-year-old Charles Pine-Coffin was living at an address in Seacroft, Exmouth, with his three daughters, 24-year-old Norma, 23-year-old Olive and 21-year-old Nina. Also present were four servants. Charles Pine-Coffin, who filled in the census form, states that he is living on ‘Private means’. No occupation is provided for any of his daughters. 47-year-old Lilian Pine-Coffin was not included in the census return and was probably away from home when it was completed.

Part V: Children and final years

Charles Edward Pine-Coffin died in Seacroft, Devon, on 31 December 1914 at the age of fifty-two. The following entry was subsequently included in the National Probate Calendar of England and Wales: “Pine-Coffin, Charles Edward of Seacroft, Exmouth, Devonshire, died 31 December 1914. Probate London to Lilian Mary Olivia Pine-Coffin, widow, and Mortimer Brutton, solicitor. Effects: £16324 11s 2d.”

Lilian and Edward Pine-Coffin’s eldest daughter, Norma, married Dr Edwin Lawrence Sturdee (1886-1962), a physician and native of New South Wales, Australia, in Saint Thomas’s Church, Devon, in 1913. Norma Sturdee died in Northampton on 17 March 1976 at the age of 89.

Lilian and Charles Pine Coffin’s second daughter, Olive, married Donald Annan Stewart, an engineer, on 23 April 1919 in Saint Peter’s Church, Kensington, London. This marriage produced one child. Olive Stewart died in Cheshire in 1966.

The youngest daughter of Lilian and Charles Pine-Coffin, Nina, married Lionel Scott Langley on 4 Apr 1917 in Saint Peter’s Church, Kensington, London. They had at least one child, a son. Nina Scott Langley died in Devon in 1964.

Lilian Pine-Coffin died on 16 June 1919 at the Vicarage, Cranley Gardens, London; she was 55 years old at the time of her death. The following entry was subsequently included in the National Probate Calendar of England and Wales: “Pine-Coffin, Lilian Mary Olivia, of the Vicarage, Cranley Gardens, Middlesex, widow, died 16 June 1919. Probate London, 3 September, to Arthur Berseford Cane, Esquire, and the Reverend Clifford Salisbury Woodward, Clerk. Effects: £2403 16s 2d.”

At the time of her death Lilian was probably living with her daughter Olive and her son-in-law, Donald Annan Stewart. Her funeral took place in Littleham Parish Churchyard, Devon, on 19 June 1919.

Part VI: Lawn Tennis Career

Lilian Cole’s lawn tennis career can be divided into two distinct halves, the first covering the years 1881-85, the second the years 1889-94. The break that occurred in the years 1886-88 was caused by her marriage to Charles Pine-Coffin and the birth of their three children.

Lilian Cole first appeared on the nascent lawn tennis scene in England in the late summer of 1881 when she took part in the second edition of the Exmouth tournament, which was held from 9-13 August and was practically a local tournament for her. The first edition of this tournament had been held at the beginning of August one year earlier, but had been a very modest affair although it did feature a women’s singles event, a rarity in those days. Lilian Cole did not take part in the first edition of the tournament which, like the second edition and future editions, was held under the auspices of the Exmouth Lawn Tennis Club, which had been founded circa the summer of 1880 and does not appear to have had premises in a fixed location during the early years of the tournament’s existence.

One of the notable features of Lilian Cole’s lawn tennis career is that she almost never took part in tournaments outside of Devon. Year after year she favoured the Exmouth tournament over the other tournaments in which she could have taken part. Even when a women’s singles event was added to the programme of the All England Club in Wimbledon in 1884, Lilian did not take part in that most prestigious of tournaments in that or in any other year.

Some of the very few other tournaments in which Lilian Cole took part outside of Devon before her marriage were the Cheltenham tournament of 1883, held in the second week of June in Montpelier Gardens in that popular English spa town, and the West of England Championships tournament of 1884, held in the town of Bath in late May/early June in that town in south-west England.

On returning to tournament play in 1889, after the birth of her three children, Lilian Cole Pine-Coffin, as she now was, continued to focus on the Exmouth tournament. In 1894, she won the women’s singles event there for the sixth and last time. In September 1893, she had also notably taken part in the Sussex Championships tournament in Brighton, winning the mixed doubles title with Ernest Renshaw and finishing runner-up in the women’s doubles event with Edith Cole. These were not her only successes in women’s doubles and mixed doubles events during the course of her lawn tennis career. (A list of the women’s singles finals in which Lilian appeared throughout her lawn tennis career can be found in Appendix I below.)

Part VII: Pastime Portrait (1895)

In its edition of 1 May 1895, the English publication ‘Pastime’ included a portrait of Lilian Cole Pine-Coffin, who by that time had reached the end of her lawn tennis career (she did not take part in any tournaments after 1894). The ‘Pastime’ portrait, a valuable record not only of her achievements but also of her style of play, is reproduced in full below:

Apart from their signal success as players, the brothers Renshaw probably earned greater distinction by their introduction of volleying into lawn tennis than by any other detail of their play. The credit of having been the first player to adopt volleying – i.e. genuine and systematic volleying – among ladies belongs to Mrs Lilian Pine-Coffin, who, from her earliest connection with the game – and she commenced tournament play when she was about thirteen – has resolutely maintained that ‘net play’ is the most effective, and has given ample practical proof of the soundness of her theory

Just when Miss Maud Watson began her extraordinarily successful career she met Miss Lilian Cole (now Mrs Pine-Coffin) in a private match at Cheltenham, and the result was in favour of her opponent. Later in the season (1883) these ladies again met at the Exmouth tournament, and great was the interest taken in the contest. After playing up well in the first set, Miss Cole fell off in the second and Miss M. Watson won.

In the following year they again played at Exmouth, and Miss Cole took a set from her redoubtable opponent. Prior to this she had taken part with success at the Bath tournament, and once competed at Cheltenham, but with these exceptions Mrs Pine-Coffin confined her play to the West of England until the last two years, when she has also competed at Brighton.

Notwithstanding the limited number of tournaments in which she has taken part, Mrs Pine-Coffin has won a considerable share of prizes. Her marriage to Mr Charles Pine-Coffin, who himself was a player of no mean ability, prevented her from playing in 1885, and it was not until three years later that she made a welcome reappearance at the Exmouth meeting. Naturally, after so long a rest, she was not in her best form, but she was only beaten by Miss Constance Bryan after a terribly long match of three sets, one of which was at ‘games-all’.

Even the next year saw no improvement, for she was beaten by Miss Katherine Hole in the final for the cup, which she had so long striven for. At last her pluck and perseverance were rewarded, for in 1890 she turned the tables on her conqueror, and her many disappointments were forgotten in the happy possession of the Championship trophy. This good luck was, however, but transitory, for in 1891 Miss Edith Austin defeated the holder. In 1892, the cup again rested on Mrs Pine-Coffin’s sideboard, and there it has remained ever since.

In the 1893 Brighton tournament Mrs Pine-Coffin made her first appearance at any but a West Country meeting, and she astonished those who had not previously seen her by her excellent form. Besides nearly defeating Mrs Hillyard in the open singles, she won the first prize in the mixed doubles with Ernest Renshaw as her partner, and the seconds in the ladies’ doubles and ladies’ singles handicap. Last year she was not at her best at Brighton, but she played very well at Exmouth, where she beat Miss Helen Jackson, and clearly proved her right to be classed as one of the first three or four lady players of the United Kingdom.

Although the strength of her play lies chiefly in her volleying, for she smashes hard and places her volleys with a crispness and force that make many men envious, Mrs Pine-Coffin is a very strong player from the baseline. Her returns are of excellent length, and whether backhand or forehand are made in correct style, and with a touch that shows a supple and powerful wrist. Her activity is remarkable, but all her movements are characterised by a quiet and modest grace.

As an opponent she is fair and generous to a fault, and her kindly and genial disposition has won her a host of friends and admirers. The effect of her example is shown in the play of many younger ladies who may aptly be termed her pupils at Exmouth, several of whom, notably the Misses Peck, Miss Bloxsome and the Misses Wright, have already had their names inscribed among the list of prize winners.

Although Mrs Pine-Coffin is devoted to lawn tennis, she indulges in it with discretion, and consequently she offers a practical illustration of the value of the game as an athletic exercise for ladies. She is now playing better than ever, and is as young and active in her movements as at any time during her lawn tennis career. This fact is demonstrated by first prizes won at Exmouth in 1881, 1882, 1890, 1892, 1893 and 1894.

With more numerous opportunities it can hardly be doubted that Mrs Pine-Coffin would have achieved even greater honours, and even now there is no reason why the championship should not fall to her lot if she could be prevailed upon to compete at Wimbledon.

Appendix I

Singles finals in which Lilian Cole Pine-Coffin appeared

Exmouth, Devon

1881 Lilian Cole d. Eveline Belfield 6-0 6-0
1882 Lilian Cole d. Charlotte Taylor 6-4 6-2
1883 Maud Watson d. Lilian Cole 6-4 6-2

1889 Katharine Hole d. Lilian Cole Pine-Coffin 2-6 7-5 6-4
1890 Lilian Cole Pine-Coffin d. Katharine Hole 6-1 5-7 6-4
1891 Edith Austin d. Lilian Cole Pine-Coffin 6-3 9-7
1892 Lilian Cole Pine-Coffin d. Constance Bryan 8-6 4-6 6-2
1893 Lilian Cole Pine-Coffin d. Constance Bryan 6-4 6-2
1894 Lilian Cole Pine-Coffin d. Helen Jackson 6-2 6-3

Teignmouth, Devon

1891 Violet Pinckney d. Lilian Cole Pine-Coffin 3-6 7-5 6-4

West of England Championships, Bath

1884 Edith Davies d. Lilian Cole 6-4 6-4

Appendix II

For some photos of Lilian Cole as a girl (in 1871) and on her wedding day, see:

Some information on Leixlip Castle, Lilian Cole’s birthplace can be found here: Leixlip Castle, Leixlip. County Kildare 1172 | Curious Ireland

Note: The place name ‘Leixlip’ [leeks-lip] comes from the Old Norse ‘lax hlaup’ which means ‘Salmon Leap’.
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