William Gore Alban (1860-1906) and his family

Tom Alban’s father, William G Alban, served in the British Army in the Sudan Campaign (1896-98) and was awarded a medal with clasp and the Khedive’s star in 1885.

A year later he married Kate Newman (1863-1946) in Paddington, London and a little over a year later their first son, Thomas Frederick William Steel Alban was born in St Petersburg, Russia while Lieut. William G Alban was serving in the 13th Bombay Native Infantry. I’m still trying to discover whether the 13th Bombay Native Infantry was stationed in St Petersburg or whether his wife went to St Petersburg to have her baby.

In 1885 Russia encroached into an Afghan area, Panjdeh and this nearly triggered a war between Russia and Britain. Afghanistan then became a buffer zone between British India and the Russian Empire. It is possible William G Alban served as part of a British military detachment in St Petersburg -if the two countries exchanged envoys.

By 1888 William G Alban is recorded in Hart's Army List as a Lieutenant in the Bombay Staff Corps, India (formerly the Irish Rifles). The Bombay Staff Corps formed part of the Bombay Presidency Army which had belonged to the
East India Company until the Indian Rebellion of 1857, when the British Crown took over the three presidencies - Bombay, Madras and Bengal.

In 1893 he is recorded on a passenger list sailing from Liverpool, England to Karachi, (then) East India - perhaps returning after home leave.

By 1895 he was a captain, ISO (perhaps this was Intelligence and Security Officer or Installation Supply Officer) officiating, second in command, 26th (Baluchistan) Regiment of the Bombay Infantry in Quetta in the North-West Frontier, now in Pakistan. The regiment had this name only between 1892-1901, during the rule of the Iron Emir, Abdur Rahman Khan. Quetta was then in Baluchistan in British India.

Three more sons were born: Everard Vernon Alban (1891, Mandalay, Burma), Harry Clayton Alban (1892, Mandalay, Burma) and John Francis Leonard Alban ( 1897, Quetta, India - now in Pakistan). Everard and Vernon died in infancy.

The  second son Harry Clayton Alban returned to England with the family. In 1901 he was a boarding pupil at Winchester House,  Eastbourne, Sussex, in the same census district - almost the same street – as his first cousin, Florence Elizabeth Mary Alban, daughter of Clifton Frederick Samuel Alban and Florence Louisa Bailey.

Later Harry C Alban attended Christ's Hospital school from 1903-1908. He joined the "family business" and in 1911 is recorded at a military training institution at Farnham, Surrey. He served in the Innis Fusiliers but, like two cousins, he was killed in action in 1915 during World War 1.

In the 1901 census William G Alban himself was shown as a retired major from the Indian Army, aged 40, staying at the Waterloo Hotel, Lambeth, London, near Waterloo Station, close to the south bank of the Thames at Westminster Bridge.

His wife Kate was living with their first son Thomas F W S Alban in Fleet, in the north of Hampshire. In May of that year William G Alban appeared before the Bankruptcy Court.

On 3 Dec 1906 he died after taking an overdose of laudanum (tincture of opium) at Harrogate Road Caversham, Oxfordshire where he appeared to be living alone. He clearly had financial problems, but perhaps there were additional problems.  

The inquest was reported in the Reading Mercury shortly afterwards. His doctor stated that he'd prescribed quinine for malaria. Major Alban had reported suffered from fits but never complained of pain which could account for the many empty bottles of laudanum were found in the deceased's room. The jury found that Major Alban had died from opium poisoning while in depressed spirits and of unsound mind.

 After the deaths of two infants in the 1890s and her husband in 1906 his widow would have struggled to raised their surviving children on the military pension. 

By 1911 Kate Newman and two of her children, Thomas F W S Alban (24) and Kathleen G Alban (9) were living in Reading. Thomas (Tom) was an art student. Her younger son, Harry had joined the Army. During WW1 both sons served in the Armed Forces, Harry C Alban dying at St Eloi, Flanders, Belgium while serving with the Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians). Elder son Tom returned from the war where he'd risen to Acting Major in the Camouflage Corps of the Royal Engineers. 

After the war in 1921, Tom emigrated and joined the Australian Army. Kate Newman's sister Emily Kirby (nee Emily Kirby Newman) also migrated to Australia with her daughter Kate Margaret Kirby (nee Kate Margarethe Schulz) in December 1920.  So, in January 1922 Kate Alban (nee Newman) and her daughter Kathleen also emigrated to Australia. The two widowed sisters did not live in the same Australian city. Kate Newman settled initially in Brisbane, Queensland while Emily Kirby Newman and her daughter made a new start in life 1700km away in Melbourne, Victoria, nearer her recently married son.

Kathleen Gore Alban (1901-1976)
Thomas’ sister, Kathleen Gore Alban, was born about 6-9 months after the 1901 census. Whether William was estranged from his newly pregnant wife in 1901 or merely in London temporarily, I cannot say. But in view of his bankruptcy and suicide it is likely that they were living apart.

Uncle Tom’s sister, Kathleen G Alban married twice but evidently no children survived from either marriage. Her first husband was Victor William Bowden, an Irishman, whom she married on the New South Wales border town of Tweeds Heads in 1922, the year she arrived in Australia.They had one still-born infant.

Victor was the son of a superintendent of Hotel Lodgings Royal College of Surgeons in Belfast, Ireland. After eleven years of marriage Victor W Bowden sued Kathleen G Alban for divorce on the grounds of desertion. The newspaper report of the proceedings suggests he believed that she had tired of Brisbane city life and had gone to the country town of Chincilla to stay with friends, now residing in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Of course this is his side of the story. 

Ten years after her divorce Kathleen G Alban married again in Katoomba, New South Wales, also in the Blue Mountains where her brother and mother lived. Like her brother, Kathleen and second husband Werner Augustus Gondolf (1905-1970) had no children - as far as I’ve been able to discover.