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THEO, Walter

b.1871 – d.1918

Walter’s Father

John Theodoridi, Walter’s father was born in 1833 in Constantinople Turkey. He was a Greek gentleman, former Captain in the Russian army, a freemason of Royal Athelston Lodge, and became one of the first tobacco merchants in London.

In 1861 he opened his first cigarette shop in Leicester Square. John Theodoridi & Co is listed in the 1865 edition of the London City Directory. John Theodoridi’s grand enterprise employed no fewer than four table workers using Turkish tobacco and fitting cardboard mouthpieces. He had an eye for publicity, naming his cigarettes with such names as “The Cannon”, “The Rifle”, “The Zetland”, and “The Opera”.

On 13 May 1865 John Theodoridi was declared bankrupt. John Wood and Son, manufacturers of cigarettes, continued to promote their cigarettes as ‘late-Theodoridi & Co.’ thus benefitting from the brand.

1870s

In the 1871 Census John Theodoridi 38, Merchant & Commission Agent, was living at 3 St. Petersburg Terrace, Bayswater with his wife Georgiana 25, born in Battersea (1891 census), and his first child Gabriel 2, also born in Battersea.

On 9 June 1871 twin boys, Walter and Percy Theodoridi, were born to John and Georgiana Theodoridi. They were baptised on 10 August 1871 at St. Mathew’s Church in Bayswater. Their father’s occupation was given as a merchant, and their address as 3 St. Petersburg Terrace, Bayswater.

On 24 November 1879 Walter Theodoridi was enrolled at Hollydale Road School, Peckham. For some reason his elder brother Gabriel, and twin brother Percy were enrolled two weeks earlier on 10 November. The family were living at 51 Lugard Road, Peckham. The last school the boys attended was Harrow Green Road School in Bermondsey.

Sadly, Walter’s father John Theodoridi died in 1888. I can find no death registration.

In the 1891 Census the Theodoridi family had moved from Peckham, south of the River Thames to Walthamstow in Essex. They were living at 1 Belgrave Terrace, Church Road, Walthamstow. The head of the family is Georgiana Theodoridi 42, now a widow, her children are Gabriel 21, a clerk, Walter 18, a printer’s assistant, Percy 18, a book assistant, Lily 14, Oscar 7, and George 5, all at school.

1891 census

A life of crime

Unfortunately for Walter, and his twin brother Percy, both enter into a life of crime shedding their surname of Theodoridi and assuming a simpler surname of Theo. Their crimes appear to revolve around the stealing of furniture and fittings. 

Walter’s first known conviction occurs in 1894 and his crimes continue for eleven years until he is committed to a lunatic asylum. According to the records on Ancestry.com Percy racks up many more convictions than his brother, but this needs to be corroborated by further research into the newspapers of the times.

On 26 May 1894 at Guildhall, in the City of London, Walter Theo was convicted of larceny and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment. He was charged with stealing a table.

On 7 September 1894 at Bow Street Police Court, Walter Theo was convicted of larceny and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment. He was charged with stealing a table.

On 16 January 1895 at Guildhall, in the City of London, Walter Theo was convicted of larceny and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. He was charged with stealing a desk.

On 12 October 1895 Walter Theo was admitted by the Police to the City of London Union Infirmary, in Bow Street. He was 25, a porter, living in Old Broad Street. 

His disease was recorded as “insanity”, and his presumed malady was of “unsound mind”. He was discharged by the Magistrate four days later on 16 October 1895.

Oct 12 1895

Unfortunately for Walter, and his twin brother Percy, both enter into a life of crime shedding their surname of Theodoridi and assuming a simpler surname of Theo. Their crimes appear to revolve around the stealing of furniture and fittings.

On 12 November 1895 Walter Theo, height 5’2”, complexion sallow, hair dark brown, eyes brown, was convicted of larceny and was sentenced to 10 months hard labour in HMP Wandsworth. He was charged with stealing a bicycle.

On 11 September 1896 Walter Theo was release from HMP Wandsworth and commenced two years police supervision. His intended address was Spitalfields and intended occupation was a porter.

Warwickshire Herald, Jan 1898

On 6 July 1897, Walter Theo, otherwise Theodosia, was tried at Bow Street Police Court for larceny and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour at HMP Wormwood Scrubs. He was charged with stealing a chair.

On 18 January 1898, Walter Theo, alias Walter Theodosia, was tried at Bow Street Police Court for breaking and entering and was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment at HMP Wormwood Scrubs. He was charged with breaking into a counting house. He was released on 17 October 1898. His intended address was Shoreditch and intended occupation was a labourer.

On 24 January 1899, Walter Theo was charged at Lambeth Police Court with being a refractory pauper and was sentenced to 21 days hard labour.

Lloyd’s Weekly News, March 1899

On 23 March 1899, Walter Theo was charged at Southwark Police Court with unlawful possession.

He was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment with hard labour. His twin brother Percy Theo was charged and sentenced in exactly the same way.

Continuing into the new century

In the 1901 census Walter Theo 28, is a prisoner in HMP Pentonville. His occupation is recorded as a general labourer. Without further research in the newspapers of the time Walter’s crime is unknown.

On 3 February 1902 Theodorida Walters was charged at Bow Street Police Court with begging. He was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment at HMP Pentonville.

On 27 May 1902 Theodorida Walters was charged at the North London Sessions, Clerkenwell, with being an incorrigible rogue (begging). He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment at HMP Pentonville.

On 21 April 1903 Walter Shea was charged at the North London Sessions, Clerkenwell, with being an incorrigible rogue (begging). He was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment at HMP Pentonville.

On 19 January 1904 Walter Theo was charged at the North London Sessions, Clerkenwell, with being an incorrigible rogue (begging). He was sentenced to eleven months’ imprisonment at HMP Pentonville. (He had ten minor previous convictions for begging).

On 20 December 1904 Walter Theo was charged at Marlborough Street Police Court with being an incorrigible rogue for begging. He was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment with hard labour at HMP Wormwood Scrubs.

On 13 November 1905, Walter Theo was committed to the Surrey Pauper Lunatic Asylum in Croydon, Surrey. Walter was released on 23 September 1907, and his condition was recorded as Relieved (REL’D). He was transferred to Long Grove Asylum on the same day.

The entry in the Lunacy Patients Admissions Register has a date error on death. It states that Walter Theo died on 6 January 1917, when in fact the year was 1918 as recorded in the burial register.

He was buried four days later on 10 January 1918 in Horton Cemetery, grave reference #920a.

Further Information on the Theodoridi Family

On 7 March 2017 the BBC Television programme Heir Hunters featured a story on John Theodoridi who died intestate in 2016. His grandfather, Gabriel Theodoridi was Walter’s elder brother. Here is an extract from the transcription of the programme.

“Researcher Katie Peacock, of heir hunters firm Fraser & Fraser, is trying to find beneficiaries to the estate of John Theodoridi, who died in 2016 without leaving a will. His grandfather was known as Theodore Gabriel John Theodoridi, as well as being known as Gabriel Theodoridi, and John Frederick Theodoridi. The fact that he went by so many names was a concern for the team.” He is Gabriel in the 1891 census shown above.

“He was born as Theodore Gabriel Theodoridi, in 1869. But it was information about John’s great-grandfather that could have a huge bearing on this case. John Theodoridi, the great grandfather of the deceased, was a tobacco merchant…”

“John’s career in the valuable tobacco industry was forged in the 1850s, during the Crimean War. The British saw their Turkish allies and their Russian enemies smoking Turkish cigarettes. In 1861, John opened his first cigarette shop, in Leicester Square, it was a good business proposition…”

“The team established that one of John’s uncles called John Frank Theodoridi, married Eva Moore in 1924.The team discovered 19 heirs who will share John’s £80,000 estate.”


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