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Part of
Personal papers of Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853-1936)
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


HSW met Syrie, the daughter of the celebrated Dr Thomas Barnardo in 1897, when she was eighteen.HSW later destroyed all Syrie's correspondence with him, so the development of their relationship is hard to chart. In 1899 HSW rented a house near the Barnardos' in Surbiton, and it was probably during this period that his relationship with Syrie developed. When HSW was in Egypt in 1901, Syrie sailed out to meet him, and it is likely that they then decided to marry.

The marriage took place at St Mark's Surbiton on 25 June 1901, and in September they travelled to Paris to begin a European tour, returning to England in May 1902.Their son, Mounteney, was born in June 1903.

However, strain appeared in the marriage, aggravated by the 26 year age difference, and HSW's foreign travel and passion for collecting. In 1910 an argument erupted between HSW and Syrie in Ecuador, when HSW made jealous accusations against Syrie. She returned to London, and was never reconciled with HSW, despite her own efforts and those of friends.

A legal separation was agreed in 1910, and HSW's friend, Arthur Chune Fletcher acted as arbitrator in the settlement and as Syrie's only channel of communication with her husband. The Deed of Separation specified the terms of financial support for Syrie and her access to Mounteney. [For papers re Mounteney's upbringing see WA/HSW/MO].

In July 1915 Syrie gave birth to a daughter, Liza, by the writer Somerset Maugham. HSW sued for divorce, which was granted, uncontested by Syrie, in February 1916.

Syrie married Maugham in May 1917. By the time this marriage ended in 1929, she had become a successful interior designer. She died in 1955.

As HSW destroyed correspondence from Syrie, little remains of their early relationship. However, a few letters from Syrie and Dr Barnardo may be found in WA/HSW/CO/Gen, as can other correspondence relating to ordering jewellery for Syrie and household materials. The memoranda and correspondence in WA/HSW/CO/Bus/A relate to the Wellcome's tour of Europe in 1901-1902, and does include notes relating to the early months of their marriage


RB Fisher, Syrie Maughan, Duckworth, 1978

G Wagner, Barnardo, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1979.

Persons or organisations featured in this material include:

Fletcher; Arthur Chune (-1913)



Physical description

1 volume, 21 files

Acquisition note


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