Kate Smeed was the third child of Edward Smeed & Sarah Ann Hayward born November 24th, 1863 & christened December 27th, 1863 at St Swithun’s Church, East Grinstead.
In 1871 Kate was living with her parents at Fairlight Cottage where her father was a farmer on Fairlight Farm, East Grinstead. Kate had 1 brother & 2 sisters at home with her.
Kate was living in the High Street, East Grinstead in 1881 with her widowed grandmother, Ann Hayward, who ran a printers and stationers company. Kate was helping in the shop.
In July 1890 daughter Kate married Samuel Reuben Schofield at East Grinstead Parish Church. The marriage took place at 8a.m. & was followed by a wedding breakfast at Fairlight Farm. Samuel was born Oct-December 1866 at Sutton Wick, Berks, the son of Hannah & William Schofield, a sewing machine repairer. Kate, who wore a cream cashmere dress, tulle veil & orange blossoms, was attended by her sisters Alice & Carrie (Caroline) & cousins Mabel & Eva Smeed who were all bridesmaids. The couple honeymooned in Bournemouth. (Surrey Mirror, July 12th 1890). An article in the Sussex Agricultural Express of June 21st, 1890 reports that an unfortunate event prevented the marriage from taking place previously as had been planned. Kate had driven into town in a horse & cart to obtain medicine for her fiancée, Samuel Schofield, his illness being the reason for the postponement of the marriage. While she was shopping the horse bolted & Kate attempted to stop it by catching hold of the reins. Unfortunately she was dragged along the road & one of the wheels went over her leg causing bruising & swelling but happily no broken bones. She was able to return home later in the day.
In 1891 Kate & Samuel were living at Rock Cottage, Queens Rd, East Grinstead & Samuel was a chemist’s assistant.
Kate & Samuel were to have 2 children, Edward William Noel & Kathleen Mary before things went drastically wrong with their marriage. The Sussex Agricultural Express of September 19th, 1896 reveals ‘a romantic story’ concerning Kate’s husband that was published in the Daily Mail. The article mentioned that at this time Samuel was in the employ of a local chemist & was a well educated young fellow. As well as being a chemist in Horley, Surrey he was also a cat & dog doctor & in this capacity he was called in to treat some valuable pedigree cats belonging to 27 year old Miss Edith Jane Christophine Catherine Ursula Cockburn-Dickinson (known as Ursula!), daughter of Rev George Cockburn-Dickinson of Londesborough Lodge, Worcester Park, Surrey. Ursula was the niece of the Earl of Londesborough, and as such was heiress to a large fortune which according to her father was about £40,000. A close friendship developed between Samuel & Ursula & they planned to open a cat & dog hospital at Tooting together.
An unconventional character, Ursula decided to leave her father’s house & took apartments at York St, Portman Square, London with Carrie Smeed, Kate’s sister. Both Samuel & his wife visited the 2 young ladies there. Samuel took a house at Garratt Lane, Lower Tooting called ‘Grasmere’ & together with his wife, Carrie Smeed & Ursula & her cats they all moved into the house in July 1896. Ursula left on the morning of July 13th to visit Brighton, supposedly to meet up with her father. The next day Samuel left home presumably to do his usual dog-doctoring rounds, but that evening Kate received a telegram which said that he had to do another visit later & would not be home till morning. This was the first time since their marriage 6 years previously that Samuel had not been home by night time. He did not return in the morning & has not been seen since.
Subsequently Kate received 2 telegrams from Samuel saying he was alright & would be back on Friday. However, on July 17th, Kate received a letter which read ‘Dear Kate, As you have probably imagined before this I have gone off with Ursula. I know you will think it very hard, and that it is very wrong; but her influence over me was so great that I could not stay against it. I enclose blank cheque form for you to fill with the amount due from the bank & will send you some money in bank notes in a few days. You & Carrie can manage to carry on the cat business until I can find some way of providing for you & the children. We have taken a small hotel in the south of Wales. In case you want evidence for divorce proceedings I will send you the particulars, which will be suffient. Goodbye, & the dear children. Ben’
Kate wrote to Ursula’s father to say ‘Ursula has taken my husband from me & left me with my 2 little ones to provide for. They have gone to South Wales unless this is a blind.’ Rev Cockburn-Dickinson was heartbroken at the loss of his daughter & appeared to be unsympathetic to Kate, going to Grasmere & demanding from her Ursula’s boxes containing clothes books etc. Under advice Kate refused to give them up. Apparently Kate received none of the promised bank notes from her husband & when she took the blank cheque to the bank found it was only worth £3. Kate & her sister continued to live at Grasmere, living on Ursula’s cats which they proceeded to sell. The cats were orange Persians & quite valuable, but 2 ladies could not live long on 4 cats!
Samuel was a freemason, an officer of the Gatwell Lodge. Ursula’s father tried to follow the fate of his daughter with help of the Cardiff police but to no avail. Ursula had managed to obtain about £22,000 from her account at the bank & sold her investments.
Despite world-wide attention, nothing further was heard of the missing heiress & Samuel Reuben Schofield. A report in the New South Wales Clarence & Richmond Examiner of Saturday January 14th, 1899 noted that Ursula had still not been traced. The report stated that apparently Ursula was one of the originators of the British National Mouse Club, & the club has preserved her mouse ‘Champion Queenie’ in a glass case!!
The 1901 census shows Kate living at 3 Portland Rd, Aldrington, Hove, Sussex & listed as widowed. Kate was working as a manager of a milk dairy. With her were children Kathleen M (7) & Edward W N (5).
By 1911 Kate (again described as widowed) & the children were living with her brother George F Smeed, a stockman with the borough council. Kate’s widowed father Edward Smeed was also living with them at Great Lodge, Tonbridge.
Son Edward joined the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment in 1914, aged 19, at the start of WW1. Prior to joining the Army he was working in the office at the North Sewage Farm. Edward was taken ill with pleurisy in France & was invalided to the Military Hospital at Eastbourne. He died on March 12th, 1917 from pulmonary TB. At the time of his death his mother & sister were living at 69 Nursery Rd, High Brooms, Tunbridge Wells. Edward is commemorated at the Kent & Sussex Cemetery & Crematorium & buried at St Matthew, High Brooms, Tunbridge Wells.
Kate & her daughter Kathleen were still living at High Brooms in 1922 when they were mentioned as helping with decorations at a thanksgiving service at St Matthew’s, paying special attention to the war memorial.
The children of Kate Smeed & Samuel Reuben Schofield were:
sm.11.3.1 Kathleen Mary Schofield born September 30th, 1893 at Horley & christened November 12th at St Bartholemew, Horley, Surrey
sm.11.3.2 Edward William Noel Schofield born December 19th, 1895 at Horley & christened May 17th, 1896 at St Bartholemew, Horley, Surrey; died March 12th, 1917 at 69 Nursery Rd, High Brooms, Tunbridge Wells