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Mary Alice (née Chandler), Lady Caine

(1863-1932), Wife of Sir (Thomas) Hall Caine

Sitter in 3 portraits

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Mary Alice (née Chandler), Lady Caine, by Bassano Ltd - NPG x28374

Mary Alice (née Chandler), Lady Caine

by Bassano Ltd
whole-plate glass negative, May 1911
NPG x28374

Sir Walter de Frece; Mary, Lady Hall Caine; Vesta Tilley; Gordon Ralph Hall Caine, copy by Bassano Ltd - NPG x44221

Sir Walter de Frece; Mary, Lady Hall Caine; Vesta Tilley; Gordon Ralph Hall Caine

copy by Bassano Ltd
whole-plate film copy negative, 1931 (17 July 1935)
NPG x44221

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Jacqueline Bates

16 July 2019, 08:38

Mary was born 21 April 1863 and on 10 May 1863 at St Mathias, Tower Hamlets, Bethnal Green was baptised Mary Ann. She was the daughter of Mary (nee Quince) and William Chandler who was a General Dealer. They lived in Barnet Grove. This is recorded in the parish records. In the 1871 census when Mary was 7 years-old the Chandlers lived at 5 Boreham Street in Bethnal Green with their other children Esther(15), William(12), John(10), Henry(3), Jane(8½ months). Richard was born the following year. William became a Poulterer and moved to 107 Driffield Road North Bow. He died 15 November 1873. Mary’s mother married John Ward, a Poulterer, on 22 May 1874 at St Saviours Church in Shoreditch. At the time of the 1881 census Mary and John Ward had moved to the City of London and John had become a Hawker. Jane(10) and Richard(8) Chandler, Mary’s youngest siblings were living with them. 17 year-old unemployed barmaid Mary was visiting her married eldest sister Esther Crumpton.

Hall Caine moved into 18 Clement's Inn in July 1882, sharing rooms with his journalist friend Eric Robertson, where they often hosted intellectual gatherings. They frequently had their evening meals delivered from nearby Clare Market, which were brought by two young women; one being the 19-year-old Mary Chandler who was to eventually marry Caine.

Months after Mary had first met Caine, John Ward and the other girl's father confronted Caine and Robertson demanding marriage, claiming the young women had been ‘ruined’. According to Caine's biographer, nothing more than 'a bit of flirting' had taken place. Refusing to marry, Caine went to Liverpool to deliver lectures, returning to London in early December 1882. Upon Caine's return Mary's stepfather abandoned her at Clement's Inn. Mary went to Sevenoaks, Kent for six months to be educated, financed by Caine; she had received little education as a child. Robertson moved to Redhill, Chislehurst and remained a bachelor. Their first child Ralph Hall was born in 1886 when Mary was 21. On the birth certificate Hall Caine registered her as Mary Alice Caine, formerly Chandler. Mary had taken Caine’s name in order to appear married and avoided the scandal of having an illegitimate child. Secretly they married two years later in Edinburgh in 1886. Caine was 33 and Mary was 23 the ages given on their marriage certificate. Publicly they said they were married in 1882. Their second child Derwent Hall was born in 1891.

In her will Mary made a bequest to her sister Jane (known as Jennie), married to Edmund Manderville, “to help her bring up her large family” of ten children.

Mary’s date of birth carved on the Hall Caine monument over her grave is 25 May 1869, 6 years less than her recorded birth date of 21 April 1863. When she died in 1932 her age was incorrectly given as 64 when her death was registered by her nurse. For a 69 year-old lady shaving 6 years off her age is flattering but for a 19 year-old having 6 years shaved off her age, making Mary out to be a child of 13 when she met Hall Caine and 15 when she gave birth to their first child is a great injustice to Mary Chandler and Hall Caine.

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