Lilian May Smith

From 1931 VCW and Lilian May Smith lived together as man & wife (though not legally wed) until her death in 1954.

In 1928 Lilian May Smith lived at Flat 2, 95 Westbourne Terrace, London W2. She was the principal heir to her late father’s estate. He was a grocer with two shops in the Paddington area nearby, and had died in 1925 leaving an estate valued at £17,000 — a small fortune in those days. Under the terms of his will, the bulk of this sum was to be invested to provide a lifetime income for her. She appears to have had philanthropic leanings according to various mentions in the press of the time, and her Fellowship of the Zoological Society of London (taken in 1928) Vincent was to take over in 1950, with his book in preparation. Vincent moved in with her in or by 1931.

During his early years with Lilian, Vincent set himself up in business as V. C. Wellington Ltd (type of business unknown) circa 1930-33, as a ‘Fine Art Publisher’ (according one phone book entry) in 1934, and as a farm shop proprietor and butcher, with two business addresses nearby, an occupation which lasted two years or so to 1937. It is reasonable to assume that the last two of these business forays, if not all of them, were made with Lilian’s financial support, and the farm shop / butchery business may have benefited from her experience as a grocer’s daughter.

We don’t know exactly when Vincent took up angling; according to his book this was at least by the middle of the Second World War, and again Lilian’s support was likely to have been involved.

Lilian cropped

Lilian May Smith died in 1954 (aged we believe 68 or 69), as indicated in this entry in a public probate registry:

Lilian Death

— so ending Vincent’s apparently happy 23-year relationship with her, one which he would perhaps have expected to last him out, and ending his 10-year residence at 61 Palace Court. He moved out, at the age of 64, immediately or eventually to move to 50 Inverness Terrace, W2, where also lived Anne Ceinwen Jones, and to employment managing the London Welsh social club Clwb y Cymry in Oxford Street.

The Public Trustee is employed where the deceased left no will or there is dispute between beneficiaries. It is possible that Vincent was not a significant beneficiary of Lilian’s estate, as £7,000 would have set him up quite well in 1954. The ownership of the lease or tenancy of 61 Palace Court is not known for certain, but was likely to be Lilian’s; the flat has a market value, in 2013, of about £1.5 million.