Robert James Lees


The Children of Robert James Lees

There are differing and sometimes conflicting accounts of the children born to Robert and Sarah. Some of the following details may not be accurate. Further information and corrections are welcomed. This list may not be in birth order


Norman, Lionel, Douglass, Pearl and Muriel. - Descendants known and confirmed.

Viola - Known to have had children, but descent not confirmed.

Frank, Marmion, Iolanthe/Hypatia - Died in childhood.

Evelyn (Eva) - Did not marry. No children.

Claude - Married, but no children (not confirmed).

Aylmer - Had two daughters, Joan and Edna.

Ernest - Little known. Possibly married Jane.

Bernard, Wallace. No information.



Norman Albert Lees was the eldest child of Robert James Lees and Sarah Lees. He was born in 1873 in Birmingham (Warwickshire, England), and married Anna Casey. They had three children, Roland, Ethel and Robert James.

Roland married Helen Guilfoyle and had two children, Bernadette Jacqueline, now living in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Roland jnr now living in Ocala, Florida. Bernadette and Roland both have children. Bernadette also has grandchildren.

Ethel never married, and died some years ago.

Robert married Rose Veronica McGloin and had two children, Veronica born 17 May 1918 and Robert James (jnr) born 9 July 1920 who died 11 March 1930. Robert (snr) died 14 December 1948. Rose died 12 June 1971.

Veronica married Frank Thomas Keogh in Brooklyn, New York on 4 October 1941. His family came from Chicago. They were divorced 2 February 1972. They had four children:

Francis Thomas Keogh jnr (Tom) born 6 July 1944 now living in Bourne, Massachusetts.
Robert Lees Keogh born 2 January 1947 now living on the island of Guam.
Kenneth Paul Keogh born 22 September 1949 now living in Howell, New Jersey.
Kathleen Mary Keogh Hayden born 27 November 1951 now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Veronica also has seven grandchildren.

Veronica says she was told very little about her family when she was a child. She never met her grandfather (Norman) but remembers her grandmother Anna, whom she knew as `Grandma Rolly’. She lived with Veronica’s Uncle Rolly (Roland) who died when Veronica was six (in 1924 or 1925). It is her understanding that Norman moved to Australia.

In the Leicestershire Record Office is a letter from Norman to his brother Ernest, dated 16 April 1891, inviting him to join him in America to work. There is also a scrapbook of cuttings from American newspapers concerning Norman campaigning to stop `malpractice and ill treatment of inmates in Matteawan State Hospital’ where he had been confined in March 1910 after allegedly setting fire to his house in Brooklyn, New York. He had been released by February 1911, and achieved considerable success in improving conditions for prisoners.

Addresses for Norman and Anne at this time (from cuttings scrapbook):

Holland House, Fishkill-on-the-Hudson, New York.
131 Doughlass Street, Brooklyn (20 February 1911)
248 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn.

Norman was living with or close to his brother Lionel in Chicago in 1897 according to a letter to Lionel in their father's hand, dated 10 July 1897. Norman attended his mother’s funeral in Ilfracombe, England in February 1912. He rode in the second carriage behind the hearse with his sister Pearl, his brother Ernest, and Ernest’s wife. However, he did not attend his father’s funeral in 1931. On that occasion, a wreath was sent from "Douglas, Norman, Muriel, May and Wally, sons and daughter, Australia".


Born 12 September 1875, Lancashire. Married Jane (?)


Born 12 January 1877. Presumably died in childhood 1881 as Frank is not referred to in `The Heretic' and is not recorded in the 1891 census.


? (Was Marmaduke, Frank’s second name?)


Born 15 December 1877, Lancashire.
Living in Chicago in 1897.
Died 26 November 1953.

Lionel married Jessie Pearl Thorne (27 September 1877 - 1965) and had three children: Jessie Elma (26 September 1900 - 23 February 1992) who married Carl Carlson (4 June 1892 - 5 January 1955), Edith Louise (19 April 1902 - May 1903) and Herbert Wendell (15 December 1920 - 25 December 1995).

The Marriage Register for Halestown (West Penrith) has the following entry:

26 December 1899 by licence:

Lionel Herbert Lees, 22, bachelor, Grocer of Caerlym (Talland Road). Father: Robert James Lees, author.

Jessie Pearl Thorne, 22, spinster of Caerlym (Talland Road). Father: Cain Pearl, gentleman.

Witnesses: Janie Miller. (?) Lees.

Lionel secondly married Laura. He settled in America. Known as Bertie.


Born 1 December 1978, Surrey, Kent.


Eva was born on 14 November 1879 in Surrey, Kent and died in 1968, Leicester, England. A committed spiritualist, Eva did not marry, and remained extremely loyal to her father for his entire life. After her mother's death in 1912, Eva acted as nurse, secretary and companion to her father. After his death, Eva ensured the continued publication of Lees' works, and arranged for the setting-up of a Trust to extend this work after her own death. The Trust operated until the early 1970's.


Aylmer was born on 14 January 1881 in Forest Hill, Kent. He died on 21 December 1922 of pneumonia after, allegedly jumping off London bridge in a suicide attempt. He was known as ‘Ali’. He had two daughters, Joan and Edna. Edna married, and had one son, Andrew Lalonde. Joan (born 16 September 1915, died 14 September 2002) married firstly William James Vernham, and had one son, Christopher Vernham, born 8 August 1946. Joan married secondly Robert Warneke (see below under Douglas Percival Lees).


Douglas was born on 3 March 1882. He settled in Australia (Adelaide, October 1911) and died there on 26 December 1963 (Adelaide, South Australia). His daughter Elinor Mary (1920-1970) married Robert James Warneke and had three daughters: Christine Frances (who married Bob James and has one son) living in Stirling in 2002, Judith Rosalind (who has three sons and five grand-children) and Sara Mary, aka novelist Sara Douglass, and one son, Robert Paul (who has two sons). (Robert James Warneke lately married Joan, daughter of Aylmer Gordon Lees.)


Claude was born in 1884 and died on 23 October 1965. He married Emmie or Ettie and lived in Leicester from at least 1931 until 1965. A professional photographer by trade who worked in Ilfracombe as `Philips & Lees’, and in Leicester for `Fisher and Potter’. Kelly's Directory for Leicester (1957) describes him as Director of Fisher & Potter (photographers). His address is 103 Greenhill Road, Leicester; Fisher & Potter's trading address is given as 19 High Street. Claude also practised as a spiritual healer.


Pearl was born on 11 March 1886 in Acton, Middlesex and died in 1962 at Ryhall, near Oakham, Rutland, England. Pearl was married four times:

Firstly, to Herbert Webster in 1912, with whom she had two sons, Stuart who died aged ten years, and Garth who died in 1944 during his wartime service in the RAF. Garth lived for some time with Douglass in Australia.

Secondly, to Alfred Benjamin Vokes, with whom she had four daughters: Marian (born 23 November 1918), Amy who died of a stroke aged seventeen years, Helga and (Muriel) Kathleen (born 5 May 1922, died 15 October 2001). 

Helga was born 19 August 1920 and is now living in Johannesburg, South Africa, and had three daughters.

From her first marriage to Stefan Wasserberger, Elizabeth (5/02/51) married Bruce Robert Harvey and they have three children, Graham (31/03/76), Ian (24/02/79) and Janine (24/06/80). Michele (30/10/53) married Ernst Josef Stummer and had two children, Jenna (11/05/87) and Neil (14/11/90).

From her second marriage to Oresto Ugo Roberto (Pierre) Petrucci, Julie (7/06/65) married Johan Dafel and had two children, Alex (23/10/96) and Luke (26/10/99).

Marian had four children – Susan Pearl born 11 September 1945, Jane Marian born 7 July 1948, Andrew Garth Vokes born 7 January 1953, and Paul Joseph George born 25 January 1962. 

Susan married Michael Crawford Harland (May 1970) and have no children.

Jane married Christopher Moon (August 1969) and have two children, Benjamin Paul (born 12 July 1974) and Chloe Jane (born 7 April 1977).

Andrew (known as Garth) married Katherine (1978) and have two children, Samuel (born 3 September 1983) and Luke (born 12 February 1985).

married Gordon Kenneth Vokes. They had two children, Christine Margaret (born 8 March 1954) and Nigel (born 19 April 1950).  Christine married Julian van Geersdaele and had two children, Laura Katherine (born 12 March 1986) and Alice Sophie (born 23 April 1990).

Thirdly, Pearl married James Johnson (with whom Pearl lived in Narborough Road, Leicester.)

Fourthly, Pearl married Harold Cunnington (with whom she lived at Essendine, Rutland). Pearl was Harold’s second wife.


Viola was born on 8 May 1887. She married Edward Headley. They had two children and lived in Bournemouth, England. Edward is said to have been a director of Leicester City Football Club.


Marmion was born on 28 September 1892 and died in infancy aged seven months.


or Hyptia Hiantha Cornoa. Born 12 February 1893. Died at eight months.


Wallace was born on 2 November 1894 at Peckham Rye, South London.


Muriel was born on 14 April 1897 at St Ives, Cornwall, the sixteenth and last child of Robert James and Sarah Lees. She died on 15 March 1973 in Cairns, North Queensland, Australia.

Her daughter Barbara believes that Muriel was NOT a daughter of Robert and Sarah, but was adopted at the request or insistence of Queen Victoria. Barbara believes that Muriel was the illegitimate child of a grand-daughter of one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting. She further claims that Lees was given a Pension from the Queen's Privy Purse in order to maintain and care for the child.

Muriel married Walter Edwin Betts (1898-1981) on 14 April 1923 in Rochester, Kent and had two children, Barbara Gladys (born 1926) and Derek Charles (born 1928).

Barbara married Douglas Wiseman Holdsworth (1914-1989). Derek married firstly Florence Plane (born 1930) and had two children, Diana Rosalie (born 1949) and Joylene Sandra (born 1950).

Diana married Terence John Hills (born 1947) and have three children, Kelly (born 1972), David (born 1974) and Brett (born 1975).

Joylene married Jeffrey Hocking and have two children, Jamie (born 1975) and Nicole (born 1976).

Derek married secondly Elizabeth Mitchell (born 1935) and had one son, Roger (born 1970).


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© 2005 Stephen Butt