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Discussion Starter #1
A Victorian scandal-the origins of Blanche "Gladys" Duddell Colston-Lady Roundway

Newmark has recently provided a good amount of detail on Mrs Blanche Gladys Colston, who was titled Lady Roundway from 1925.

Her maiden name was Duddell. Usually known by her middle name of Gladys, her aristocratic background hide a shocking backstory-for the details please see post #3.

25,282 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Re: A Victorian scandal-the origins of Blanche Duddell Colston-Lady Roundway

Her entry in our Encyclopedia gives an overview of her life and tennis career.

COLSTON, "GLADYS"(nee Blanche Gladys du Bois Duddell)
United Kingdom
Born 4 September 1879 in Brighton
Died 1 October 1969 in London
Married Edward Murray Colston, Lord Roundway, (28 April 1904, died 29 March 1944) 28 April 1904 at St George Hanover Square, London
Played lefthanded
[Active 1900-14 and 1919-1928]

1901 German Championships RU to Toupie Lowther.
1902 British Covered Courts RU to Toupie Lowther.
1922 British Covered Courts RU to Dorothy Holman (and thus a runnerup 20 years later in the same event!)

Blanche Duddell was the daughter of George Duddell, a wealthy businessman who had made most of his fortune in Hong Kong, and Frances Kate Duddell (née du Bois), who was also his great-niece. If this wasn't shocking enough it is highly probable he had fathered sevenchildren with his own niece Sophy, this in addition to a bastard he brought with him from Hong Kong. George and Frances married each other on 25 January 1881 in the Parish Chapel, Saint Pancras, London, when Blanche was nearly one-and-a-half year's old. George was 60 at the time of the wedding, while Frances was 28.

According to the records, another child, a boy named William du Bois Duddell, had been born to George Duddell and his great-niece in London on 1 July 1872, seven years before Blanche Duddell's birth. William Duddell would go on to have a distinguished career as an electrical engineer, physicist and inventor. The following is a link to a wikipedia entry on his life and career:

Following George Duddell's death in 1887, Kate Duddell married again. Her second husband was John Smithers, a stockbroker twelve years her senior. Their wedding took place on 31 January 1894 at Saint Peter's Church, Eaton Place, London. Kate Smithers died in London on 8 August 1931 at the age of 79.

As Miss Duddell she was a regular competitor in Germany. In the words of Heiner Gillmeister:

There were Bad Homburg habituees such as the Countess Clara von der Schulenburg and the Misses Toupee Lowther and Gladys Duddell. The last named was an agile and stylish lefthander endowed with such extraordinary good looks that all her matches were keenly watched by large crowds, and those who could not see her at Homburg stood a good chance of catching a glimpse of her at least on a postcard showing her and the German crown prince after a mixed doubles match. What aroused the curiosity of the Germans was the fact that, despite her elegance, youth and aristocratic good looks, she was in the habit of knitting socks whenever she was around the Homburg courts and not engaged in a match herself.--from p 280 of Tennis; A Cultural History
Blanche Duddell's husband, Edward Murray Colston, was born on 31 December 1880 in Devizes, a market town in the English county of Wiltshire. He was the son of Charles Edward Hungerford Atholl Colston, a Conservative Party politician, a member of parliament (MP) from 1892 to 1906, and later 1st Baron Roundway, and Rosalind Emma Colston (née Murray). In 1925, on his father's death, Edward Colston, a career soldier, succeeded to the title of 2nd Baron Roundway, of Devizes, Wiltshire. Blanche Colston thus also became Lady Roundway.

She competed at Wimbledon 6 times-in 1913, 1919, and from 1921 to 1925. She enjoyed competing on the Riviera-one finds her in draws as late as 1928. Though her proper name was Blanche, her name of preference appears to have been Gladys.

The Roundway title became extinct on Baron Colston's death on 29 March 1944 at the age of 63. Lady Roundway remained at Roundway House in Devries until 1949, when she sold the estate and moved to London.

The Colstons had had one child, a daughter named Lydia Betty Maria, who was born on 13 May 1910 in London. However, Lydia died on 1 August 1924 at the very young age of 14, in what was probably an accident (see below).

From "The Times", 5 August 1924:

"Girl's Fatal Fall from Window

"Sleep-walking suggested as explanation

"An inquest was held at the Hammersmith Coroner's Court yesterday on the body of [Honorary] Betty Lydia Maria Colston, aged 14, the only child of Lieutenant-Colonel Colston, D.S.O., Grenadier Guards, and Mrs Colston, of Hamilton House, Ashburn Place, Kensington.

"Lieutenant-Colonel Colston said his daughter came home from school last week in excellent health. She was of an exceptionally bright and cheerful disposition. On Thursday night she went to a theatre. When she returned home she was quite normal in every way, and went straight to bed. About 1 o'clock he was called by the butler, who said something had fallen through the scullery roof. The witness went up to the girl's bedroom and found it was empty. He then went to the basement and found his daughter lying on the floor of the scullery, the glass roof of which was broken.

"Answering the coroner, Lieutenant-Colonel Colston said there was a period five years ago when his daughter was given to occasional sleep-walking, but soon awakened. He was assured that as she got older she would grow out of it.

"Anne Bloomfield, lady's maid in the employ of Mrs Colston, said she attended Miss Colston when she went to bed last Thursday night. She was not at all excited. The witness had known her for about 16 months, but she had never known her to walk in her sleep. When the witness left her about 11.30pm, Miss Colston was in bed. The bedroom window was open from the bottom about 18 inches.

"Dr Howard Stratford, acting divisional police surgeon, said the skull was fractured at the back, but there were no other injuries. Death must have been practically instantaneous, and falling from such a height – about 50 feet – she would be unconscious before striking the scullery window. He was of the opinion that the child must have been walking in her sleep, and therefore quite unconscious of her actions.

"The coroner, in recording a verdict of 'accidental death', said the accident might have occurred while she was walking in her sleep, or it might be that she was trying to open the window wider on that close night."


Tennis: A Cultural History, by Heiner Gillmesiter, Leicester University Press 1997, pages 280 and 282.

George Duddell 1821-1887 : a Hong Kong pioneer and a Brighton notability, by Ken Vernon, 1990. [A biography of her father]

A Victorian scandal-the origins of Blanche "Gladys" Duddell Colston-Lady Roundway [A brief overview of the scandalous life of her father] (her husband) (the Colston familt estate-her home until 1949)

"Tennis fans get big laugh when Salm airs peeve". The Milwaukee Journal. 27 March 1928. [A controversial match from 1928 on the Riviera]

Photo with the Crown Prince of Germany on page 227 of Lawn Tennis At Home and Abroad.

[Thanks to Newmark and Rollo for this information]

25,282 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Re: A Victorian scandal-the origins of Blanche "Gladys" Duddell Colston-Lady Roundw

Her father George Duddell.


Queen's Park

George Duddell

George Duddell: purchased the estate c1863

By the age of thirty six George Duddell had made his fortune in Hong Kong by becoming an influential property owner. He then 'retired' to England and by 1863 had decided to give up his bachelor's life in London and settle down.

Moved to Brighton
Duddell had friends in Brighton and, just as today, it was a very attractive and fashionable place to be in. It was at Queen's Park that he saw the house where he would be able to live in the grand style he was accustomed to. After a loan from his wealthy friend, Mrs. Blake, Duddell was able to purchase Attree's villa and the Park.

Duddell's household
Duddell was unmarried but brought his niece Sophy to live in the villa with her four young children. Sophy was Duddell's eldest brother's daughter. Both of her parents died and Duddell became her guardian when she was sixteen. Though there are no records to prove it, it seems likely the four children were Duddell's. Duddell also brought his elderly mother and another illegitimate son, George Minza, his "adopted son" from Hong Kong.

A friend of the working classes
Duddell fully entered into Brighton life. He was elected to the Town Council and represented Park Ward for several years. He was a liberal and gained a reputation as a friend of the working class. He made a wide circle of friends in Brighton and soon became a well-known character there.

Produced the Brighton Mail
In Hong Kong Duddell had published the Hong Kong Times. In Brighton he continued this interest by setting up a small printing works in the 'Pepperpot' on his estate. He called it Tower Press and produced a daily newspaper called the Brighton Mail.

Complicated private life
By 1868 Duddell's great niece, Kate Dubois, was living at the villa. Duddell had offered Kate a home after her parents had died. The situation at the villa must have been very difficult and the arrival of this younger woman must have annoyed Sophy greatly. By now Sophy had had two more children, with Duddell being the likely father to most, if not all, of the six children. Interestingly none of them feature on the 1871 census.

The departure of his first 'wife'
By 1870 Sophy was pregnant for the seventh time. In the same year Kate, who was nineteen, also became pregnant! Her first child was William Dubois Duddell, with Duddell being named the father. By now the situation of the two mistresses in the same house had become too much for Sophy, so she took the children and left for London. Duddell supported Sophy financially and she subsequently married a clerk and had children with him.

Legally married in 1881
Kate gave birth to a daughter, Blanche, in 1879 at the villa. The birth certificate makes no attempt to hide the fact that Duddell was the father. Whereas Duddell could not legally marry Sophy he did eventually marry Kate in 1881. Duddell was now sixty and Kate was 28. Life settled down after the marriage with Kate now taking the responsibility of supervising and running the villa and the Park.

Dies aged 66 in 1887
The 1881 census shows that they had thirteen servants working for them. The couple continued to take part in Brighton's social life, giving dinner parties, meeting friends and taking part in local affairs. Duddell's health was steadily declining and it was beginning to slow him down considerably. Ten days after catching pneumonia he died at the villa on 31st December 1887 aged 66.

His widow
Kate was a wealthy widow now who lived at the villa for another three years before she sold the estate. After the sale she became even wealthier and went back to London. She married again and lived a full and happy life until she died aged 79.
'George Duddell' by Ken Vernon was referenced in the writing of this article.
By Andrew Bradstreet
This page was added on 22/03/2006.

Comments about this page
I was happily surprised to come acrsoss your Queen's Park web site. I know a lot about George Duddell from his Hong Kong days and after, and you have now happily added more material. Indeed, I have more, and I spoke to Duddell's daughter's companion in 1969. She was, as you could imagine, a little too old to speak to me. George Duddell arrived a few days too late to take part in the first land auction after the installation of the new government of Hong Kong, and he tried to make up for that desperately. He was never accepted in Hong Kong as a 'gentleman' but retired with a fortune. And that is where your story clicks in. I wrote many years ago to the Editor of the newspaper that Duddell started in Hong but received a negative reply.
By Dafydd Evans (08/02/2005)
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