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A Mediterranean Background

James Price Galliano was the youngest of seven children born to a Roman Catholic family in a well to do area of Clapham. His parents Victoria Mary née Price (known as Victorine) and Anthony Galliano were married sometime prior to 1864 in Gibraltar. Victorine was a British subject and Anthony a Spanish subject, both born in Gibraltar.

 Victorine’s father was a Merchant and one imagines that a business opportunity must have arisen in London for the whole family to move here. This must have happened just before James’s brother Charles was born in 1872 as prior to this all the older children were born in Gibraltar.

James was born on 31 January 1875 and was named after his maternal Grandfather James Price who was still alive at this point. The baby James was baptised at Our Lady of Victories church in Clapham on 11 March 1875.

The 1880’s

At the time of the 1881 census the family can be found living at 25 Gauden Road in Clapham. This house is in a middle-class area and a newspaper article from around the time describes it as “In a capital position close to the Railway Stations. 5 Bedrooms, dressing room, bath-room, drawing, dining and breakfast rooms and offices with a garden”.

Within this house was living James’s mother Victorine aged 47. His father Anthony must have been away from home at the time of the census. James’s Grandfather and namesake James Price aged 80 a retired Merchant. His older sisters Josephine aged 16, Twin sisters Victorine and Anita aged 15 and Mary aged 13. His two older brothers Domingo (Dominic) aged 11 and Charles aged 8. There was also a ”live in” domestic servant.

Sadly, James’s father died 14 May 1883 aged only 45 and he was buried at Kensall Cemetery. James was only 8 years old at that time.  The family continued to live at 25 Gauden Road and then Charles died aged 17 in October 1889. How this affected James we cannot be sure but Charles was the closest to him in age so he must have felt his loss.

The 1890’s

In April 1891 the household at 25 Gauden Road continued to be a busy full household as Josephine had married in 1888 and her family joined that of her mother. The family was recorded as: –

Victorine Galliano who was the Head of the house aged 55, Daughters Josephine married aged 26, Anita aged 25 who was an Insurance Clerk, Mary aged 23. Sons Dominic aged 21 a merchant and James aged 16 a Commercial Clerk. Son in law Joseph Valderrama Gil aged 42 a Merchant who originated from Malaga and a Grandson Joseph aged 5 months. There was also a nurse and a Domestic servant. 

Daughter Victorine who was one of the twins was now living as a Nun in Devon and this is where she spent the rest of her life.

By 23 October 1895 James’s mother Victorine passed away aged 63 and she is also buried in Kensall Cemetery. The probate of her will shows she left £753 which is equal to nearly £100,000 in today’s values. 

During the next few years up to 1901 the family continues to grow following Mary and Dominic’s weddings and Roman Catholic records show James to be involved with his family being a Godfather to some of his nephews and nieces. Sister Anita seems to have taken over the running of 25 Gauden Road and the next census shows the house to be very busy with the addition of young children.

The 1900’s

The 1901 Census

Head Anita single aged 35 working as an assurance clerk, Brother-in-law Joseph aged 53 a commission merchant working for himself, sister Josephine aged 36 and their children Joseph 10, Victorine 9 and Ani aged 6. James who is single aged 26 working as a merchant’s clerk. There is also a Spanish cousin who is staying with them and an Irish Governess and a servant.

Dominic and Mary are now married and living with their families.


Nothing further is heard about James until his marriage in a Roman Catholic ceremony on 13th January 1907 when he married Alice Hannah Harley aged 29, the daughter of Daniel Harley a Butler from Chelsea. In 1901 Alice had been working as a waitress so it is unclear what her social standing was at this point. The witnesses were Sean Kirk and Joseph Evans, unusually not anyone from the Galliano family.  On 25th June 1907 their son Victor James was born so it appears that Alice was pregnant when they married. He was baptised at Our Lady of Victories church on 21 July 1907 and given the Godparents of his cousin Joseph Valderrama Gil and Aunt Anita Galliano.

In the Electoral Register of 1908 James is shown as living at 91 Gauden Road. In fact the newly married Galliano couple lived there until 20 October 1907 when they moved to 25 Mercer Chambers, Neal Street, Long Acre, London WC where they paid 15/- a week rent. This was in the Drury Lane area.  On 26 July 1909 they moved back to Gauden Road at number 69 paying 11 shillings and 6 pence rent a week. (This information has been obtained from Alice Galliano witness comments on James’s admission to Wandsworth Union)

On 4 December 1909 poor James was brought to Wandsworth Infirmary from 69 Gauden Road and examined on 6 and 7 December. His wife’s witness statement confirmed their marriage and that they had one son. Alice states the wedding certificate cannot be produced as her husband had destroyed it. It begs the question as to why he would do this. She also confirmed all of James’s previous addresses. She stated that her husband had no money and that there was no one to assist with maintenance. This seems strange when we know the background of the Galliano family.  James also appears to have had constant employment as a clerk and his notes, although unclear, suggest he was a Spanish Correspondence Clerk. This would make sense considering James’s background.

James’s case notes

The examination states he has been suffering from what is supposed to be epilepsy for some months. It is stated he is dangerous to others and very violent.  He is described as clean but in poor bodily health and condition. He seems to have many abrasions and bruises particularly on the right side which suggests he may have fallen during an attack. James was in 

“a condition of acute delusional mania, quite incoherent, noisy and turbulent. He cannot be withdrawn from his frenzied and senseless ravings to reply sensibly. He makes purposeless attempts to injure himself and requires restraint. He has to be fed and ministered to generally” 

This must have been so frightening to his young wife and son who appear at that time to have no support from the Galliano family.

Admission to Horton and death

It was decided he was to be admitted to Horton Hospital and less than 3 months later he died 18th February 1910. 

Sadly, his death certificate reveals he died of “General Paralysis of Insane” what is now seen as untreated syphilis which he must have contracted at a young age. Its manifestation was violent, frightening and catastrophic.

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Author’s Thoughts

James was born into a Middle Class, fairly well-off family. Of the seven siblings Josephine, Mary and Dominic made good marriages into the same social group. Josephine marrying Joseph Valderrama Gil a Spanish Merchant who when he died had effects totalling nearly £500,000 in today’s money.

  Mary married Stanley Norfolk and Dominic married Nellie Norfolk who were both the children of Ernest Norfolk who was the Secretary of the Licensed Victuallers Protection Society of London and he was heavily involved in changes to Licensing laws so seemingly quite an influential man. 

Whereas James’s marriage to Alice seems out of sync. Did he marry her out of guilt because she was pregnant or did, he, genuinely love her? Or was he a bit of a “Jack the lad” who came unstuck? 

Before James’s death his wife stated he had no money and there was no one to assist in maintenance. This suggests they were estranged from the Galliano family although shortly before James’s admission to Horton Hospital they moved back into the same road as his family.

Tellingly after James’s death his child was not cast out from the Galliano family. In 1911 Victor can be found staying with Uncle Dominic and after that the electoral registers find him living with his aunts Josephine and Anita and his cousin Victorine Gil right up until 1939. It is unclear how much contact he had with his mother Alice, if any.

 In 1911 Alice was living with her brother’s family in Pimlico and in 1939 she was on her own, an unemployed Charwoman. It seems as if she had nothing to do with the wealthier better-connected Galliano family. Why did they not help her when James’s health spiralled out of control? 

Thankfully James did not pass on his syphilis to his wife and son and they both lived to a good age. 

 James’s desperate medical condition meant he could not be looked after at home and there was no option for him other than the asylum. His wife clearly could not cope with what was a frightening situation and it is not clear if she could turn to her husband’s family for help or chose not to.  His family either did not know what to do about him or did not know how unwell and dangerously ill he was. There are many questions unanswered.

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