Madge Gill as a child with her grandparents William Baxter and Caroline Eades and their children including Madge’s mother Emma. Circa 1890
Image courtesy of Roger Cardinal

1823 Caroline Eades – nee Wright (Madge’s Grandmother)  was born in Hertfordshire

1827 William Baxter Eades (Madge’s Grandfather) born in Godalming, Surrey.

1848 January Caroline and William marry and go on to have the following nine children:

1849 William Isaac Eades (Madge’s uncle) born in Hertfordshire – Clerk – Died 29th Aug 1898

1850 Kate Matilda Eades (Madge’s aunt and mother-in-law) was born in Hertfordshire. She was one of only two children to marry , but was sadly widowed after a few years of marriage. Died 1929

1852 Tom Edward (Madge’s uncle) is born in Hertfordshire (not much is known about Tom so it is probable that he died in childhood.)

1854 Emma Elizabeth Eades (Madge’s mother) was born in Godalming, Surrey. Died in 1913

1856 Walter John Eades (Madge’s uncle) was born in Lee, Lewisham  – Ship’s Steward. Died in 1913

1859 Henry (Harry) Ernest (Madge’s uncle) was born in Lee, Lewisham – Clerk

1860 Caroline Christiana (Carrie) Eades (Madge’s aunt) was born in Lee, Lewisham. Died in 1940

1863 Alfred George (Madge’s uncle) was born in Lewisham – Dentist (died in 1939) Died in 1939

1865 Alice Sophia (Madge’s aunt) was born in Lewisham. Alice and Kate were the only two children to marry.

An outline of the Eades and Gill Family:

1851 Census states William Baxter Eades was living at 58 Fishpool Street with Caroline in St Albans with children: William (2) and Kate (6 months)

1861 Census states William Baxter Eades, now working as a labourer, is living with Caroline at 40 Dacre St, Lee, Lewisham with their children William, Kate, Tom, Emma, Walter, Henry and Caroline. 

1871 William Baxter Eades is working as a caretaker of a synagogue at 2 Charlotte St with Caroline and children Kate, Emma, Walter, Harry, Carrie, Alfred G and Alice S.

1877 Kate Matilda Eades (Madge’s aunt) marries Henry Gill, a decorator, in Lewisham and moves to 73 Malham Road. They had four children, one of whom died at a young age. Henry Albert was the eldest and born on August 10th 1879 followed by Tom Edwin (Madge’s husband) on March 21st 1882 and Kate Alice on March 17th 1884. In 1883, while pregnant with Alice, Kate was widowed while the family were living at 2 Whatman Rd, Forest Hill. She continued to live there until at least 1887. 

1881 William Baxter Eades is living at 2a Charlotte St (now Hallam St) with Caroline and children: William (bank clerk), Harry (Stock Exchange Clerk), Carrie (Ladies companion), Alfred (Dentist’s assistant) and Alice (scholar). Madge’s mother, Emma, is living with relatives in South London. She gets pregnant while living there and the father, possibly a relative, is a cause of shame for the family. Madge is her only child.

1882 January 19th Maud (Madge) Eades was born at 173 Marsh Street (now High St), Walthamstow, Essex at the home of Joseph and Sarah Leakey and their children. Her birth certificate states that her mother was Emma Eades and her father’s name and occupation were left blank. Emma left Madge to be fostered by the Leakeys and returned to the family home near Great Portland St. Hiding Madge away could have been because of Victorian moral values, but also because she was reported to have been a feeble character and unable to bring up a child.

1891 Census states Henry Albert Gill (11) had been sent away to school in Skircoat, Halifax, Yorkshire at the Crossley and Porter Orphan Home and School. His widow mother, Kate was living at 9 Sylphide, Westbourne Rd, Forest Hill, Lewisham as a boarding house keeper with second son Tom (9) who is at school and Kate Alice (7) who was a patient at the home and infirmary for sick children in Sydenham, Kent. William Baxter Eades is still living in Marylebone with wife Caroline and children; William (clerk), Emma, Harry (clerk), Caroline (Ladies Companion) Alfred (Dentist) and  Alice. Walter is away working on ships and returns in 1892.

1891 Madge aged 9 is placed in Barnardos at Barkingside after her grandfather William could no longer afford to keep her fostered with the Leakeys. 

1894 Barnardos sent her to Canada with thousands of other underprivileged children. Madge worked as a servant with several families, but at the first opportunity she returned to England saying what memories she had there, she left behind.

1897 Death of grandmother, Caroline Eades followed a year later by the death of her uncle William Isaac. 

1900 November  – Madge arrives home from Canada and stays with one of the Leakey daughters – a Head Mistress called Mary A Leakey. They are living in Erskine Road, Walthamstow not far from where Madge was born. Madge is working as a blouse machinist with Mary’s niece, Edith, Madge finds a job as a nurse at Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone.

1901 Census states that Madge’s aunt, Kate Gill, is living with her son Henry Albert who is now 21 and working as a merchant’s clerk at Fence Piece, The Laurels in Essex. There are several lodgers staying with them and also Madge’s mother, Emma Eades. Another sister, Carrie Eades is living nearby at Avenham Villa, 1 Primrose Road, South Woodford, Essex with brother Harry Ernest Eades, a stockbroker’s clerk and Kate’s daughter, Kate Alice Gill. 

1901 December – Madge’s Grandfather, William Baxter Eades dies.

1906 Madge is in a relationship with her cousin, Tom Edwin Gill. They have a child illegitimately in September called Lawrence (Laurie) Edwin Gill.  

1907 January 1st – Madge marries Tom at Chelsea Town Hall, Tom Edwin Gill states his occupation as a Stockbroker’s Clerk. Maud is now calling herself Madge Ethel Eades. They were living together at 185b Kings Road, Chelsea. Tom’s father is stated as – Harry Gill, Musician – deceased. Madge’s father is recorded as being William Frederick Eades lived on independent means and now deceased. This is probably a fabricated name. They state their ages as Tom – 24 and Madge 25. Madge was actually 25 a few weeks after on 19th January. 

1908 – Madge’s sister in law, Kate Alice Gill marries Herbert John Waller (1885-1979) in West Ham. Madge and Tom are living at 19 Chetwynd Road, Kentish Town not far from Kate Gill who is living at 9 Lamble Street.

1910 April 27th – Madge gives birth to Reginald Alfred Gill in Wanstead, Essex

1911 Census states that Madge and Tom are living at Geraldine, Pelham Road, South Woodford E18. It states that they have been married 6 years which is incorrect as they were married in January 1907. It is possibly trying to cover up that their first son, Laurie, was born illegitimately. Living nearby at Avenham Villa, Primrose Road, South Woodford are Madge and Tom’s two boys who are staying temporarily with their aunt Carrie. Also living there are Madge’s mother, her uncle Harry Ernest as well as two cousins, Rose and Sidney who were the youngest children of her aunt Alice Sophia. Kate Gill is keeping house at Thorngrove Rd, Upton Park for her brother, Walter. Madge referred to him as uncle. She and her sons were nervous of upsetting him as he as given to outbursts of temper. He was said to be a ship’s captain and a lonely man. It says on the census that Kate had had 4 children in total with 3 still living. She is living with two of them: Henry Albert, aged 31, working as a stock jobber’s clerk and Kate Alice Waller aged 26 married to Herbert John Waller, aged 25, and their daughter Iris Vera Waller aged 5 months who had been born in Plaistow.

1913 November 8th Madge’s son Leonard Eric (Bob) Gill is born. It is the same year as her mother (59) and uncle Walter (57) die.

1917 Madge was living at 19 Marlborough Rd, South Woodford, E18 (There is a postcard in the Grosvenor Gallery archive which is addressed to Laurie at this address on 20th September 1917.) Tom was away fighting in the war from May. His military records describe him as 5’8” 37 chest, Brown hair, grey eyes and has an olive complexion.

1918 October 27th Reggie died of the Spanish Flu causing great stress for Madge, shortly followed by Madge’s cousin and sister-in-law Kate Alice Waller.

1918 October Henry Albert Gill places an announcement in the Occult Review that he is establishing The British College of Astrology and acting as Secretary from 7 Thorngrove Road, Upton Park. This is one of the first signs that the family are interested in esoteric studies. There were also family reports that his mother Kate Gill was also a Spiritualist.

1919 – Bert Gill join the Theosophical Society in Bow, Lon

1919 Madge’s mental health causes concern for her husband Tom who is back from the war. He struggles to find employment and money is short. Later on Madge states that her creative inspiration started in March of this year, but reports from her medical file and by her son state it was March 1920.

1920 Madge has an operation to remove her eye after a diagnosis of cancer. 

1920 March 3rd – One morning, while singing Home Sweet Home at the top of her voice, Madge is impressed to go out into the garden with her sons and saw a glimpse into another world when she saw Christ on a cross in the sky surrounded by angels. It was at this moment that her creative inspiration begins and she starts to draw, knit, sing, sew and write automatically.

1921 Birth of stillborn girl. Madge very ill after and her mental health deteriorates. Tom reaches out to the medical profession and is fortunate to find help in the form of Dr Helen Alice Boyle from the Lady Chichester Hospital for the treatment of early nervous disorders in women and children. 

1922 January – Madge is accepted as an inpatient at the Lady Chichester Hospital in Hove.  It is a ground-breaking establishment that was established in 1905. While there Madge is cared for physically and mentally. She continues to draw automatically and speak in strange languages. She also happily reads the characters of staff and other patients. She also writes long letters containing streams of consciousness and examples of automatic writing. Dr Helen Boyle takes an interest in Madge and consults the Society of Psychical Research in London.

1922 April Madge is discharged from hospital and with Tom, Laurie and Bob moves in with Bert and Kate Gill. Here she finds a sympathetic surroundings for the creativity which includes automatic writing, drawing, embroidery and knitting.

1922 November – An article appears in The Sunday Express and the following week in the Spiritualist newspaper, Light, entitled Eden Revelation by Postcard – Spirit of High Priest in Upton Park giving details of an interview with Madge about her mediumistic activities. Light was a popular Spiritualist newspaper in Britain at that time, edited by David Gow. It was affiliated with the London Spiritualist Alliance known now as the College of Psychic Studies. The article on Madge would have been seen by many prominent Spiritualists.

1923 One such Spiritualist was William Tylar from Bournemouth who published his book The Spirit of Irene in July. It uses Madge’s artwork for the front and back covers and inside gives a short dedication to the artist praising her mediumistic talent. It is the first known illustration of her art.

1923 September Tylar is obviously a champion of Madge’s art and selects her as one of the artists for an exhibition he is arranging as part of the International Congress of Spiritualists in Liege, Belgium. Another artist was Flora Marian Spore, an American lady later known as Marian Spore Bush. In attendance from England were David Gow and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous inventor of Sherlock Holmes. This is the first record of Madge exhibiting her work and discovered while researching for Madge’s Spiritualist connections in July 2018. Together with the article in Light/Sunday Express it proves that Madge from early on in her career was interested in esotericism.

1924 Laurie Gill joins the Theosophical Society with Madge and Bert as his sponsors showing that esoteric interests are very much a family pastime. To be Laurie’s sponsor Madge must have joined around 1922 which coincides with the time she moved in with Bert at Thorngrove Road.

1925 – A large exhibition called Objects of Psychic Interest was arranged by the London Spiritualist Alliance at the Caxton Hall extended to the Alliance premises with over 5000 attendees. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle becomes President of the College of Psychic Studies.

1925-31 After the success of the Congress several more took place in Paris (1925), London (1928) and Holland (1931) with exhibitions as a regular feature. It is not known if Madge took part in any of these

1925/26 Nov-March According to Madge’s son, Laurie, Miss Mercy Phillimore refused his request to exhibit works by Madge at the London Spiritualist Alliance and prompted Laurie to write a letter of complaint followed by a copy of his broadsheet, Myrninerest the Spheres, sent in March 1926. Laurie Gill printed a total of three broad streets – Public Messenger with himself as the editor ‘L.E.GILL F.T.S’ showing he was a fellow of the Theosophical Society.  They Included No.1 March – Myrninerest the Spheres, 3rd April – Public Opinion and 24th July – Supplement No 7 Art Issue. Only Myrninerest the Spheres has survived and is in the archive of the College of Psychic Studies in London.

1929 Kate Matilda Gill dies and was buried on March 12th, 1929 at City of London Cemetery. She was 78 years old and living at 7 Thorngrove Rd, Upton Park. In the same year William Tylar died followed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1930.

1930/31 Madge’s son, Leonard (Bob) described as a tall, thin, dark, good-looking with brown eyes had an accident at the age of 17 when an uncle from the Woodford area (probably Harry Ernest or Alfred George) bought him a motorbike. He suffered a broken neck and for two to three years Madge nursed him, often spending hours next to his bed drawing in semi-darkness. 

1932 – Madge exhibits at the Whitechapel Gallery for first time in the 1st East End Academy Exhibition for amateur artists that live within 10 miles of the Aldgate Pump. She is singled out as remarkable in the press and the Glasgow Herald mentions her artwork Reincarnation measuring a staggering 18ft long. She was a regular participator from 1932-47. On occasion her sons also submitted artworks.

1933 – Madge’s husband Tom Edwin Gill dies in West Ham of lung cancer.

1933 – 2nd East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

1934  – 3rd East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

1935 – Nov 21st to Dec 21st 4th East End Academy & Essex & Toynbee Art Clubs Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery.

1936/37 Dec 15th to Jan 16th 5th East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery.

1937 March – Prediction Magazine published an article on their interview with Madge called the Problem with Inspired Art. It was Madge largest interview in her career.

1937 Nov 9th – Dec 23rd – 6th East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery. There is no sign of Madge in the catalogue for this show. 

1938 Madge advertises in a few Essex local newspapers her expertise in astrological readings. She charges a modest sum and calls herself Kharmastra. This fact was discovered in 2018 when I was researching for the article: The Art and Spirit of Madge Gill published in June 2019 by the College of Psychic Studies. It is an indication that Madge tried to earn money from her esoteric studies. It is well known that Madge refused to sell her artworks.

1939 War census states: Henry A Gill Stock jobber’s clerk born 10th August 1879 (Single), Madge Ethel – Domestic Duties 19th January 1882 (Widow), Laurence – Commercial traveller in umbrellas born 1906, Leonard Commercial traveller in umbrellas born 8th Nov 1913

1938 Nov 3rd to Dec 17th – 7th East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

1939 Nov 6th to Dec 22nd – 8th East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

1939 Madge’s uncle Alfred dies, followed the year after by her Aunt Carrie.

1940 Madge, Bert and her sons move to 37 Plashet Grove, Upton Park.

1942 July 1st – August 4th Madge exhibits a large calico at the Artists Aid Russia Exhibition at The Wallace Collection in Marylebone. Psychic News covers the story. Later that year on Nov 11th to Dec 19th she participated in the 9th East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

1944 Jan 28th to March 11th – 10th East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

1945 Nov 21st to Dec 30th  – 11th East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

1946 May 16th – June 29th – 12th East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

1947 June 19th – August 30th – 13th East End Academy Exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery.

1948 December 14th Madge’s largest supporter, cousin and brother-in-law, Henry Albert Gill (Bert), died at the age of 69. He was buried on 18th Dec at the City of London, Cemetery. He was buried in the same plot as his mother, Kate Gill. In his will he left £2228 to his nephew Lawrence Edwin Gill

1950 Dec 31st Death of Madge’s son, Leonard (Bob) He left £2129 to Madge.

1957 Nov 20th Death of Dr Helen Alice Boyle the doctor who helped Madge in 1922

1958 Reportedly the date of the last work by Madge

1961 Jan 28th Madge died at Langhorne Hospital, Leytonstone. Effects to Lawrence Edwin Gill, £2451 12 s 11 d. She was living at 37 Plashet Grove, Upton Park. The hospital had become a geriatric hospital in 1948. Before it had been a large hospital for the chronically sick, aged and infirm.

1963 Laurie, convinced of his mother’s genius, gives a large amount of Madge’s artworks to East Ham Council under the care now of Newham Archives and Local Studies Library. They were looked after by James Green.

1964 September 29th Lawrence Edwin Gill died at St Andrew’s Hospital, Bow. He was living at 370a Romford Road, Forest Gate. He left no will. The London Gazette printed an announcement by the treasury on July 30th 1965 looking for kin stating the amount was £800. Records show no family came forward and so the money went to the crown.

1966 Jan 19th Eric Estorick bought the artworks by Madge after someone came into the Grosvenor Gallery and offered them to him. He bought all of them. They were apparently sold by someone who had helped clear the house after Madge had died.

1968 May 29th to June 29th The Guided Hand Exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery in London. Charles Spencer from the Grosvenor Gallery wrote to the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain and on 21st March 1968. T Ralph Rossiter replied saying “Madge Gill is unknown to us”. Charles Spencer reached out to everyone that may have been in contact with Madge and made an appeal in the press. Several members of the public contacted the gallery.

1969 Fulfilling his promise to Laurie, James Green from the East Ham Council stages an exhibition of over 200 artworks by Madge. It is the largest exhibition within her community to date.

1972 Roger Cardinal publishes Outsider Art by Studio Vista. It devotes a chapter to Madge Gill

1979 Groundbreaking Outsiders Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery curated by Roger Cardinal and Victor Musgrave. Centre stage was Madge’s longest surviving work, Crucifixion of the Soul measuring over 25 feet.

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