Solving the Mystery of Lady Diana Taylour – In the beginning

It started off as a simple search to find some information on Lady Diana’s military history but it turned into a ten year search for the truth behind the myth of Lady Diana Taylour.

In 1999 I was asked by a friend to find out more information about a grave stone found in the Old Oakville/St. Mary’s cemetery. He felt that because of the inscription on the grave stone that she deserved a flag on Remembrance Day and the town would not do this without proof of her military service. The local paper only provided a basic death notice with no information on her military career. I said I would see what I could find and so started a journey that would take ten years to solve and provided twists and turns that were both frustrating and exhilarating.

A trip to the Toronto Reference Library provided the information needed to put a flag on her grave but it also raised more questions that needed answers.

A reference was found for Lady Diana Taylour in the Biographies of Canadian Women Index at the Toronto Reference Library. This is an index that can have a lot or a little information. In this case it was a reference to an obituary in the Toronto Telegram newspaper.[1] A search of the Biographies of Canadian Women microfilm provided a copy of this obituary.

The obituary stated a connection to the Marquess of Headfort’s family so a search was done in “Burke’s Peerage and Gentry” and “Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage.” She was not mentioned. A relation of the Marquess did live in British Columbia but research provided no link between the family and Diana Taylour.

In Ontario when applying for a death certificate you can only get a short form death certificate unless you are related to the deceased. The short form provides: name, date of death, place of death, age and gender. The name on the certificate was slightly different it was Katherine Diana May Taylour. [2]

Land records for her property in Oakville were searched. Diana bought the property in December 1936[3] with a friend Jean Riddell. Diana was listed as a nurse and Jean a dietitian. They went through foreclosure in 1954 but continued to live there until 1957 when a move was planned to Grimsby. Diana died just before they were to move. Jean went through with the move to Grimsby.

Since no place of birth was known the birth indexes were searched for Ontario, England, Ireland and Scotland from 1891-1901. There were no Diana Taylour’s and too many Katherine, Kate and May Taylor’s to distinguish which could be the right one.

The Oakville Historical Society was approached for information on Diana. Someone had donated a more extensive obituary that was found in the Hamilton Spectator newspaper.

The obituary provided new information. Early in 1914 Diana was in Paris at finishing school. She was engaged to a young man who was killed in the first few months of the war. She outfitted and ran a private ambulance herself. When the possibility of eviction from the house on Dundas Street was very real she stated “I will never leave this house.”

I was able to speak to a few people in the community who knew her. They said she walked at the head of the Remembrance Day parade with a chest full of medals. Ran a home for invalid men and if they could not pay she did not care. Diana provided nursing care to people in the community. She drank like a fish and swore like a banshee. She had dogs and a myna bird and was a good conversationalist.

Mary Ingham is a researcher who specializes in women, nurses, First World War and suffragettes. She found a war medal index card in the women’s index[4] and sent me a digital copy. The card showed Diana applied for a General Service Medal on 30 June 1919. The address provided was on Kirkstall Road in Streatham. The other research proved inconclusive.

The Men’s War Medal Index[5] cards were online so a search was done under Taylour to see if anything could be found on her brothers. Imagine my surprise when a card for Diana showed up! She had not only been in the women’s index but the men’s as well. The card on the men’s index gave me a more detailed look at her war efforts. K.D.N Taylour applied for the British War Medal on 30 June 1919. Theatre of war was home. The Corps listed were Canterbury Private Amb[ulance] Work and Canadian Forestry. The address was Kirkstall Road in Streatham. Since the cards make no reference to her receiving her medals I was told that she probably had not received them.

To be continued…

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved



[1] Lady Diana Taylour, obituary, 23 October 1957, Toronto Telegram newspaper, Biographies of Canadian Women, Toronto Reference Library, microfilm T686.3

[2] Katherine Diana May Taylour, Ontario death registration, 22 October 1957, registration #1957-05-039176, registration year 1957, Ontario Registrar General

[3] Ontario Land Records, Halton County, Trafalgar Township, Town of Oakville,  Part of Park Lot N, 24 Dec 1936,Instrument #11974, Halton Land Registry Office, Milton, Ontario

[4] Katherine Diana M. Taylour, WW1 Women’s Service Medal Roll Index, The National Archives of England, WO372

[5] WW1 Campaign Medals, The National Archives of England, Documents Online, digital image (http://tinyurl.com/aessz)  viewed 2005

  1. Brenda’s avatar

    Don’t keep us hanging, Ruth! More, please (even though I’d heard parts of this before).

  2. Ruth Blair’s avatar

    It’s coming in a few days Brenda.

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>