Louis de Luze Simonds (1852-1916) was born in New York to Frederick William Simonds (1819-1896) & Sophie Elizabeth De Luze (1824-1910) the daughter of Louis Philippe de Luze, the Swiss Consul in New York and who Frederick had met through the Ogden family on the ship that took him to New York in 1841.
In 1871, Louis’ uncle Henry Adolphus Simonds (1885-1904), then a Partner in the family brewery H & G Simonds, visited his brother Frederick William Simonds in New York to seek help because he had no son and heir. They agreed that Louis, then aged just 19, would be invited to the UK to be trained to eventually take on the running of the family business. Louis took quite some persuading, initially rejecting the offer. In a poignant family letter of November 1871 that you can read HERE, Louis recorded his very natural concerns at the move, but agrees to go. So it was that, ‘after one last Christmas at home’ and in January 1872, Louis arrived in Reading and started work as a trainee under the watchful eye of his uncle Henry. He continued working there up until his death at Audleys Wood from pneumonia in 1916, where his Coat of Arms still decorates the hall windows.
In January 1880 Louis married Mary Elizabeth Turnbull (1857-1930)
Mary was the daughter of Gavin Ainslie Turnbull (1826-1890), Surgeon General who served in the Crimea, at Sebastopol and in India and Mary Isabella Myers (1827-1869). Mary was descended for the ‘Duncan’ clan of famous Naval Officers and from The Chief Rabbi Aaron Uri Phoebus Hart (1670 Breslau – 1756 London) (Hebrew: רבי אהרן אורי פײבוש הרט) who was the first Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Rabbi of the Great Synagogue of London from 1704 until his death in 1756.
Louis & Mary first lived at a house called ‘The Point’ at 120 Bath Road, Reading that was probably built for them. It is now a small hotel. He named it after his family holiday home on Long Island, New York because he had such happy memories of summertime by the seaside. It was conveniently located next door to his uncle Blackall Simonds at ‘The Priory’ and within easy walking distance to the brewery for them each day. Louis & Mary were married in 1880 and moved in here about then, since the 1881 census shows them in residence with the baby Frederick. In the same census, Louis is found with his uncle Henry staying at a guest house in Tiverton, Devon – clearly on a business visit to local businesses together. 4 more children followed in 5 years, so they built on the ‘West wing’ to accommodate them.
When his family outgrew it, they moved in with his generous uncle Henry Adolphus Simonds at Audleys Wood, outside Basingstoke in August 1900.
Henry Simonds and Blackall Simonds, then the partners running the Brewery, both died childless and Louis took up the reins. First as Company Secretary when H&G Simonds was first registered in 1885, then as Chairman from 1872 – 1916. He died suddenly in the flu epidemic, whilst still in office. So that his family portrait had to be made from a likeness on a black & white photograph.
He travelled widely for business & leisure. Returning to fish for the large salmon that famously visited the River Orkla of Trondheim, Norway. A bundle of his letters home from 1881 to 1916 just before he died are on the bookshelf below.