Gertrude Glyn

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This postcard, published by Artistphot Co., Ltd. of London, is titled Gertrude Glyn. The image sits on a recessed card and appears to be a glossy photograph. Whether it is a colored photograph is up for debate, and this is based only on an assumption that it is not a hand-colored picture.

The card was mailed from Haddington in Scotland to North Berwick. Both towns are located in East Lothian and are slightly East of Edinburgh. It is addressed to Miss A Kirkpatrick at Canty Bay and has the short message, “The promised P.C. from you know.”

The card was purchased for two reasons. First was that the name Gertrude Glyn was unknown, and I like the challenge of discovering stories of new people, and the second reason was that the colored image is fascinating.

Miss Glyn was a well-known star of the Edwardian stage but apparently not well known enough that neither Wikipedia nor IMDb had prepared a biography of her. I was therefore pleased to discover that the website for the National Portrait Gallery included the following information. (The gallery information was added recently by Mr. John Culme.)

The comments have been added in response to a ‘Tell Us More’ request and as they are publicly available and carry no reference to copyright, they are repeated here and we are indebted to the contributor.

Gertrude Glyn’s real name was Gertrude Mary Rider. She was born on September 26, 1886 at Hanwell, Middlesex. Gertrude was the youngest of the nine children of James Gray Rider (born 1847), a civil servant at the treasury of His Majesty’s Customs) and his wife, Elizabeth (b. 1848).

According to reports, Gertrude began a singing career at age 14. In December 1899 she secured a small part in The Snow Man, a fairy-tale play at the Lyceum Theatre in London. After other engagements, including an understudy position to Ellaline Terriss in Bluebell in Fairyland at the Vaudeville Theatre in London, she joined the cast of The Orchid at the Gaiety Theatre of London that opened on October 26, 1903 and ran through to  May 24, 1905, where she was a member of the chorus and understudy at various times to Gertie Millar and Gabrielle Ray.

Miss Glyn was also in the cast of The Merry Widow at the Daly’s Theatre in London that opened on June 8, 1907, where she was one of the several understudies to the leading lady, Lily Elsie. By chance Gertrude and Lily were personal friends.

Miss Glyn’s theatrical career came to an end when she married Captain Walter Beresford Bulteel on May 9, 1918. She died at White Waltham, near Maidenhead on October 16, 1965. Contrary to a misunderstanding, Gertrude Glyn was never a performer on any music hall stage.

Despite all these details, Glyn was found in only one census – 1891. She was four years old.

There are many newspaper articles that feature Miss Glyn, and a significant number of photographs accompany those articles.

The Daily Mirror of May 8, 1918 advises that “The Army has made another advance to the Stage. [It is now heard] that Miss Gertrude Glyn, of musical comedy, is to marry a soldier – Captain Bulteel, of the Scottish Horse. Miss Glyn was last seen in Pamela and was at Daly’s before that. She is close friend of Miss Lily Elsie, whose parts she has played on tour.”

The Sketch of May 15, 1918 reports that “A THEATRICAL AND MILITARY WEDDING: THE BRIDE – MISS GERTRUDE GLYN (RIDER). The wedding of Miss Gertrude Mary Glyn (Rider) to Captain Walter Beresford Bulteel, Scottish Horse, was arranged for last Thursday at St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge. The bride is the youngest daughter of the late Mr. James Grey Rider, and of Mrs. Rider. Captain Bulteel is the youngest son of the late Mr. John Bulteel, of Pamflete, Devon.”

The Bulteel family of Pamflete was found in the 1881 census. The house was occupied by John Bulteel, a Justice of the Peace, his wife, Euphemia, and eight children. This is not a family who wanted for much since there were 15 domestic servants on the property.

The newspapers and internet contain numerous references to Walter Bulteel as an amateur jockey who turned professional in 1908. There is however only one website which names a jockey as Walter Beresford Bulteel and refers to his army service and his marriage to Gertrude Glyn.

The surname ‘Bulteel’ is not common and while there is no reason to doubt that the jockey later became the husband of Gertrude Glyn, it should be cautioned that genealogy links are often assumed and later found to be incorrect. However, on the assumption that this is the same person, it can be said that he competed in the Grand Nationals of 1906, 1907, and 1908.

Also found in the The Sportsman of July 4, 1907. “WALTER BULTEEL. TO THE EDITOR OF “THE SPORTSMAN.” Sir, I am writing to ask you whether you would be kind enough to put a short notice in your paper about my brother, Walter Bulteel. He has not been well for some months, owing to repeated injuries to his head while steeplechasing, and on Sunday last was suddenly taken ill and is now in a private nursing home, where he is lying in very serious condition. His memory is entirely gone, and there is no doubt he is suffering from brain trouble. My reason for asking you for this short notice is that my brother is riding for some foreigner in Germany whose name and address I do not know, so am unable to communicate with him regarding my brother’s condition and absence.” – Yours faithfully. J. G. BULTEEL.

In 1919, the Birthday Honors listed Walter Beresford Bulteel of the Scottish Horse. He was awarded an M.B.E. for valuable service rendered in connection with military operations in France.

At the time of the 1939 register Walter Beresford Bulteel is a 64-year-old wine merchant living at the cottage, White Waltham, Cookham, Berkshire, together with Gertrude Mary Bulteel.

It seems that Walter died in 1952, and Gertrude passed in 1965.

Years later more was discovered concerning Walter Bulteel’s military service in that his regiment served with pride at Sulva Bay, Gallipoli.

In summary, it is a generally accepted truth that when writing about a woman in this era of history, when across the entire English-speaking world, that wives were always referred to by being the Mrs. of a known gentleman, e.g., Mrs. George Smith was always known as Lucy Brown until her marriage. Hence, since George was well known his wife faded into oblivion. And was often forgotten.  

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My mother was born in 1935, and announced “This is Mrs. Lawrence Kozak calling” when she went through the names on her list of women to call for PTA-related business.

Gertrude Glyn lead an interesting life. ¹#

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