William Eden, Esq.
3 April 1861
Volume 3, page 32, sitting number 2817.
[Identified as ‘W. Eden, Esq.’ in the Silvy daybooks, the preceding entry is ‘Major William Eden,’ this sitter’s father.]
William Alexander Delaselle Eden was born on 18 November 1844 and baptised on 24 December 1844 at Mhow in India, which had a long association with the Indian Army and thus with the Honourable East India Company.
He appears on the 1861 census, aged 16, living with his parents and two younger brothers at 19 Hamilton Terrace, Marylebone. The household included five servants.
On 28 September 1864 William enlisted as an Ensign (by purchase) in the 33rd Foot. In May 1867 he became a Lieutenant (without purchase) in the same regiment.
On 18 September 1867 ‘at Kurrachee’ [Kurachi] ‘Wm. Alex. Delsaselle Eden, Esq., H.M.’s 33rd (Duke of Wellington’s Own) Regiment, eldest son of Colonel Eden, agent for the Governor-General in Bajpootana, [married] Lilla, second daughter of John Scully, Esq., of Springfield House, Co. Wicklow’ (Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier, 1 November 1867).
In June 1869 he retired from the Army. For the rest of his life he described himself as a ‘Retired Army Officer’ when successive censuses were taken, though in fact from 1870 onwards he was working as an actor under the name Mr William Herbert.
When the census was taken in 1871 he and Lilla were living with William’s widowed mother at 58 Belsize Road in St John’s Wood. They were still living with the older Mrs Eden in 1881, only now the family had moved to 13 Victoria Street, Westminster. By 1891 William and Lilla had their own place at 1 Carlisle Place, Victoria (between Victoria Station and Westminster Cathedral). Their marriage does not appear to have produced any children.
William Eden died, aged 52, on 16 October 1895 leaving an estate valued at £9120. His address at the time of his death was still 1 Carlisle Place in Victoria but he died at his brother’s residence, Eden Lodge near Cromer in Norfolk.
‘Mr William Alexander Delaselle Eden, later of the 33rd Foot (Duke of Wellington’s Own), or, as he was better known, Mr William Herbert, died on Friday the 16th inst., after a comparatively short but painful illness. The doctors had decided that an operation was necessary, and although this was successfully performed, and much relief resulted to the patient, Mr Herbert, after rallying wonderfully, grew weaker and weaker, and died a week or so later. Throughout his illness he won the admiration and affection of doctor and nurses alike by his wonderful pluck and cheerfulness, and, perhaps, there were few amongst the hundreds of friends who sorrowed more than they when the end came. […] Mr Herbert’s death will be universally sorrowed for by the theatrical profession. Utterly unselfish, utterly self-denying, his sweet gentle nature, and sympathetic tenderness of heart will be sadly missed, and many a poor actor will find it difficult to replace the noble-hearted friend who has passed away’ (The Era, 24 October 1896). The obituary concludes with a long and detailed account of Eden’s theatrical career.