Laura Elizabeth Everett

#10769, b. 1 August 1858, d. December 1904

This photograph was taken in Whitechapel in 1904. It was published, as part of a series ""Gilding the Gutter: An Account of the Lives of the Costermongers" in Pearson's Magazine (London edition) from January to June 1905". See research notes regarding the female journalist Olive Christian Malvery

Individual's Timeline

Christening1 August 1858Laura Elizabeth Everett1,2,3
Death of Father12 December 1883Robert Last Everett4,5
Death of Mother1 February 1892Elizabeth Hephzibah Everett4
Death RegDecember 1904Laura Elizabeth Everett6

Primary events

Secondary circumstances

  • Name Variation: She was also known as Louisa Elizabeth Everett.

Census details

Some aspects of Laura Elizabeth Everett's life. The story below is about a lady journalist who was in Whitechapel working undercover on a story about poverty at EXACTLY the same time as Laura was there.
In May 1905, Archibald MacKirdy, son of the Rothesay agent of the Bank of Scotland, married Olive Malvery in one of London's more unusual society weddings. MacKirdy himself, although Scots-born, was the American consul to Muscat, in north-east Oman, a post he had held since 1893. Malvery wore a white silk Indian gown decorated with silver, roses, orange blossom and myrtle, and a string of pearls 10 feet long given to her by her new husband; she had coster-girls from Shoreditch as her attendants, and was given away by George Milne, former Bishop of Bombay.
The Bishop of London officiated, assisted by Canon Henson of St Margaret's Church, Westminster (the 'House of Commons church'). After all the trappings of the grand society wedding had been indulged, including a reception for 1,500 at Caxton Hall, the party moved in the evening to Hoxton Hall, Shoreditch (then operating successfully under Quaker auspices), where the couple entertained local factory-workers, flower-sellers and matchbox-makers – a quite different layer of society with which Olive in particular was unusually well-acquainted.
Olive Christian Malvery had been born in India, probably in 1876, the daughter of Thomas Malvery, a civil engineer, and Jessie Symonds; her grandmother, a Sinclair, was Scottish, and she was the grand-niece of Catherine Sinclair, the Edinburgh novelist, philanthropist and author of many popular children's books. Olive celebrated her Scots ancestry as much as the Indian heritage that she ascribed to 'an old Indian family' (although there seems to have been a French connection somewhere). Several sources describe her, from photographs, as 'part Indian'.
In October 1904, a few months before Olive's marriage, the quintessentially English but influential literary and cultural journal Pearson's Magazine, which had been founded eight years earlier, announced a striking new series of articles entitled 'The Heart of Things' by Miss Olive Christian Malvery. For weeks, she had gone undercover in disguise, investigating and recording the lives and conditions of London's poor – especially the women and children. Pearson's noted: 'Miss Malvery has spent whole nights with the tramps on the Thames Embankment, she has sold matches in the street, fruit from a coster's barrow, and made her living by taking round a barrel-organ. She has obtained employment in factories, shops, restaurants and milliners' workrooms. She has spent nights and days in the casual wards at workhouses and in the shelters'.
Malvery was acting in a new tradition of radical interventionist journalism, established by Nellie Bly in New York, who in the late 1880s had faked insanity to expose the workings of a mental institution. At the same period in London, William Thomas Stead, as editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, had personally intervened in and revealed the evils of the trade in child prostitution. In 1876, together with the radical journalist Adolphe Smith, the Scots photographer and travel writer John Thomson began the monthly journal 'Street Life in London', which pioneered the genre of photo-journalism combined with documentary prose. (A superb exhibition of Thomson's extensive photography in China from 1868-72 is at Glasgow's Burrell Gallery until 12 June).
This was no easy branch of the journalist's trade that had been opened. Malvery rejected her personal comfort and social standing in favour of employing complex disguise to 'become' one of the underclass. Her proclivity for publicity and 'performance' never far from her mind, she had herself somewhat theatrically photographed in a variety of lowlife settings in order to underpin the new heights of her investigative reporting and campaigning criticism. Photographs duly appeared in the seven-part series for Pearson's showing her as a street tramp, flower-seller, Covent Garden pea-sheller, street pedlar, barmaid and organ-grinder; there were also numerous photographs of the oppressed subjects of her various photo-journalism projects.
Malvery's writing on the plight of London's poor women and children, the slave traffic in women and on morals and manners generally, continued in the daily and periodical press. Her Pearson's series was revised and published in book form as 'The Soul Market' in 1906. She continued speaking and performing, constantly raising funds for the construction and running of shelters for the destitute.

From, where there is a fuller account of Malevery's family

I have been unable to find digitised copies of the magazine, but I do have her book "The Soul Market" which includes her experiences working undercover in the East End. It is PDF and is very 'readable'. I can forward copies to anyone who wants to read it.

Research Notes

  • Research note 02: In 1889 Laura was struck in the chest by lightening. Her watch chain melted, and she spent some time in a precarious state. The windmill, where she lived, was also struct and severly damaged..8
  • Research note 01: In 1901 Laura was living with a brother and 2 of her sisters, all unmarried, in Hempnall Road, Woodton. The ages as listed ranged from 54 to 41. Thomas, the brother, was a miller. The 3 ladies did not have occupations noted, but in various directories, he was listed as a miller and shopkeeper. All 3 were still alive when Laura (at least) went to Whitechapel. What on earth would take a single woman over 40 to such a place, and what did she die of? In 1911 the 3 other people from the 1901 census were still single and still living together. "The East End of London - The largest slum on earth in the heart of the capital of the richest + greatest Empire on earth."
    * It is interesting to note that there is a small link between unmarried ladies from this family (albeit at a later date) with the Salvation Army, and that Booth House is in Whitechapel Road. Is it possible Laura was there with the Army?
    * There is nothing in the probate database for Laura.


  1. Free parish registers, online,      Norfolk
    Place     Woodton
    Church     All Saints
    RegisterNumber     690
    BaptismDate     01 Aug 1858
    Forename     Laura Elizabeth
    Sex     F
    FatherForename     Robert Last
    MotherForename     Elizabeth Hephzibah
    FatherSurname     EVERRETT
    Abode     Woodton
    FatherOccupation     Miller
    FileNumber     8155.
  2. International Genealogical Index (IGI), Batch number: Dates Source Call No. Type Printout Call No. Type
    7734130 - 1126174 Film NONE
    Sheet: 36.

  3. Certificate or Original Parish Reg Entry, Extract from original records, Family Search web site image # 47.
  4. Copies of original certificates and docs.
  5. Free UK BDM index from 1837, online, dec qtr EVERRETT Robert Last 67 Loddon 4b 136.
  6. Free UK BDM index from 1837, online, EVERETT      Laura Elizabeth      45      Whitechapel      1c     224.
  7. Census data as per CD, 1891 Woodton

    Hempnall Road
    Elizabeth.H.EVERETT (75) widow born Woodton
    Emma Elizabeth EVERETT (38) daughter born Woodton
    Laura EVERETT (30) daughter born Woodton
    Aldiss EVERETT (32) son Miller born Woodton

    e-mail address.
  8. Find my past web sites, online or, Thetford & Watton Times and People's Weekly Journal. 15 June 1889.