Solving the Mystery of Lady Diana Taylour – The mystery is solved

The story of Lady Diana Taylour is a wonderful adventure. Click here to read part one and here to read part 2.

A search of the 1901[1] England census proved a little confusing at first. Benjamin Taylor was found and he was born in Langham Norfolk. He had a son Edward born in Norfolk but no daughter Kate. His wife is not Kate but Emmeline. There are three new sons Harry, John and Frank. Benjamin and Frank were found in Toronto with Diana. The age difference between Frank and Harry is 7 years. This is the right family because the ever faithful servant Emma Buttle is still with them. A marriage record was found for Emmeline and Benjamin. They married in 1898[2]. Kate Taylor had died in 1896.[3] She had caught measles while pregnant and as a result of a premature birth and congestion of the lungs she did not survive.

Benjamin was known to be in Canada in the 1930s. I have his wife and sons names so did a census search. The 1906[4] Northwest Canada census was online and indexed at this time. I did not know where in Canada Benjamin was but took a chance because Diana’s obituary said she came from western Canada and Benjamin and Frank were living with her in Toronto. The chance paid off when I found Benjamin and his wife Ree along with his sons John, Harry and Frank in Winnipeg Manitoba. The family arrived in Canada circa 1905. In the 1911[5] Canada census Benjamin and his family were found in West Kildonan, Selkirk, Manitoba.

Since the family was still all together in 1911 a search was done of the First World War Canadian Expeditionary Force[6] attestation papers to see if John and Harry could be found. Harry was with the Cameron Highlanders and John with the Quebec Regiment.

Harry came home but John died of influenza in December of 1918. John had been wounded in the shoulder and had several different maladies during his service. Frank was too young to fight.

Diana’s grave marker has O.B.E. after her name so a researcher in London was hired to search the records for the Order of the British Empire. They did not find anything for the O.B.E. but did find an entry in The Times newspaper which was interesting. Katherine Diana Taylour was fined for drunk driving while driving for the Canadian Forestry Corps in January 1919. [7]

In the meantime I had been going through every Oakville[8] newspaper from 1936 to 1957 to find information. Diana was found advertising her business selling Avon products and giving a donation to the new cenotaph. The papers were checked for each Remembrance Day but no pictures and very few references to the parade were found.

She was mentioned twice in the Court Reports once as the prosecution and once as the defence. Diana was accused of not paying someone but was let off when it was noted that she had written paid in full on the final cheque.[9] The other one was far more interesting. P. Tiny Walker[10] was accused of assaulting Lady Diana Taylour and Jean Riddell. He threw fruit and slapped them.

An Archivist at Library and Archives Canada helped me find a reference to the Women’s Legion in the Canadian Forestry Corps records. There were three boxes and a reference was found for a Miss K. Taylor[11] who joined the Corps as part of the Women’s Legion on 14 August 1918 just before the end of the war. I was not sure it was her.

Then a reference was found to the drunk driving charge and the Forestry Corps did not seem to make much of it in the documentation. They were more concerned with the license and car numbers being correct. The report of the drunk driving charge is the first time we find Diana calling herself Taylour instead of Taylor and she was recorded as being with the Canadian Forestry Corps. Diana was discharged from the Canadian Forestry Corp in March 1919.

More research into the Stone family found that Diana’s maternal aunt married Edward Stone who was also the executor of her grandfather’s estate. When the 1911 England census was released Diana was found in the household of her aunt Annie Stone and is called May Taylor. I finally found her in the 1901 England census. The Stone family was found living in Beckenham Kent. Edward Stone was a director of a drapery company. Diana is again referred to as May Taylor.

Diana was found on the passenger lists arriving in Canada. The entry said she was Katherine Taylour, age 30, going to her father in Winnipeg and leaving her aunt in Streatham. She arrived in Quebec on the Montclare on 22 October 1926.[12]

After the First World War many women reinvented themselves and created a new life. Two million women were to be forever single and without a family due to the loss of men during the war. Kate Taylor was one of many women whose personal history was changed by events and themselves.

Her new life was actually created from the lives of many who were close to her. She was born Kate May Taylor. Her new name became Katherine Diana May Taylor. It was discovered that her grandmother Bishop was called Diana. The addition of Harwood in the 1940 National Registration Questionnaire is a tribute to her aunt Anne Bishop Stone, Harwood was her middle name. She added a ‘u’ to Taylor and took a peerage family as her own.

As for the medals, well she applied for them. They could have come from her brothers. It is not known what happened to Edward Taylor so she may have gotten some from him. She had four brothers, but only two that we know of fought in the war, and she lost one brother at the end of the war. She didn’t drive an ambulance at the front during the war but in Canterbury.

Diana did move to Oakville from Western Canada as she was going to Winnipeg in 1926 when she arrived in Canada. As to loosing money in the stock market we will never know.

Lady Diana Taylour was not the youngest nurse in the military and did not get a medal from Joffre in the field of battle. Her brother John was wounded in the shoulder during battle but it seems unlikely that Diana was wounded.

The story does not end here however. I found a member of Diana’s family. They knew of Diana but they did not know much about her.

No picture has been found of Lady Diana Taylour so I still do not know what she looks like. I have been told she was short, stocky and always wore a green khaki uniform probably from her Women’s Legion days.

It took ten long years of research and thinking outside the box but I finally found the real story behind the myth of Lady Diana Taylour. I am very glad I followed my instincts as I wouldn’t have missed this ride for anything in the world.

NOTE: Do you or anyone you know have any information on Diana’s brother Edward Benjamin Taylor? He was born 18 June 1888 in Mautby and the birth was registered in The Fleggs County Norfolk. If so please contact me as I would love to learn more about him.

 

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved



[1] Benjamin Taylor household, 1901 England census, London, Wandsworth, Fairfield, page 36, household 273, digital image (www.ancestry.com) viewed 2005

[2] Benjamin Taylor-Emmeline Matilda Clara Louisa Burges, England marriage certificate, 31 July 1898, Surrey, Clapham, St. Paul’s Church, entry 228, General Register Office of England

[3] Kate Taylor, England death certificate, 14 March 1896, County of London, Kensington, Brompton, entry 332, General Register Office of England

[4] Benjamin Taylor household, 1906 NorthWest Canada census, Manitoba, Winnipeg, page 4, household 58, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed 2005

[5] Benjamin Taylor household, 1911 Canada census, Manitoba, Selkirk, West Kildonan, page 27, household 285, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed 2005

[6] Soldiers of the First World War -Canadian Expeditionary Force database, Library and Archives Canada, digital image (http://tinyurl.com/nd59cw) viewed 2005

[7] The Times newspaper, London England, 17 Jan 1919, page 5, issue 42000, col F, News in Brief, digital image (http://gale.cengage.co.uk/times.aspx/) 2005

[8] Oakville Record Star, Oakville Journal, Oakville Public Library, Local History Room, 2006

[9] Lady Taylour Dismissed, Oakville Record Star newspaper, 18 March 1954, page right B, column 7, Police Court Report, Oakville Public Library, 2006

[10] Assault Case Conviction, The Oakville Record Star, 13 October 1949, Police Court, column 6, Oakville Public Library,2006

[11] Women’s Legion Drivers from Jan 1st 1919 to April 30th 1919, Library and Archives Canada, RG9, Series III B1, volume 2660, file W-10-30 Vol 5

[12] Katherine Taylour, Canadian Passenger Lists, 22 October 1926, Montclare, digital image (www.ancestry.ca) viewed 2008

  1. Brenda’s avatar

    Massive research, Ruth! Congratulations. One thing confuses me: did Lady Diana not have to be residing in Canada (1918) to join the Women’s Legion Drivers of the Canadian Forestry Corps? i.e. why does LAC have these records, or are they copies of British-based records with a Canadian name? Maybe it was only “associated” with the Canterbury Private Ambulance service? … wondering if she had come to Canada before the War and then re-emigrated in 1926.

    Regardless, what a story! Seems it’s never too late to reinvent ourselves :)

  2. Ruth Blair’s avatar

    Thanks Brenda.

    The Women’s Legion was British. They sent their members to military groups that needed assistance during the war. The Canadian Forestry Corps headquarters was in London so when they needed extra drivers they went to the Women’s Legion.

    Since the Corps is Canadian their records are held at LAC. The archivist was able to find a small group of files referencing women in the Corps records. When I checked it out I found these little gems.

    I had fun researching Lady Diana Taylour and I would love to find a picture of her.

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