A set of unfinished biographical notes for Leadbeater by Maurice Warnon (1937-2011) provides some imaginative details. Warnon was a bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, formerly Regionary Bishop for The Netherlands, who resigned to participate in a dissident Liberal Catholic Church, of which he became Presiding Bishop. The following is an extract from the biographical notes:
The Leadbeater Family.
The Leadbeater family was Norman French in origin, with the name Le Bâtre (the builder), later Englicised to Leadbeater. The senior branch of the family settled in Northumberland, England; whence a junior branch established itself in Ireland. Some facts about this junior branch are given in the two volume of The Leadbeater Papers. The senior branch followed the fortunes of “Prince Charles” Stuart and became Jacobite; from that day on – though they later became loyal subjects of the British Crown – it was the custom of the family to christen the eldest son “Charles”.
Charles Webster Leadbeater was born on the 17th of February 1847. During his childhood, he and his younger brother travelled to Brazil, where their father supervised the construction of a railroad. His father, during his stay, contracted a tropical disease and the boy died just before the family returned to England, and his brother died accidentally.
Leadbeater’s Ministry in the Church of England.
Charles W. Leadbeater’s father died while his only surviving son was a teenager. The family was well-to-do, but a few years later, they lost all in the collapse of a great bank. This necessitated the young man going to work as early as possible. For a while he was a clerk in the well-known bank of William Deacons & Co., but the work was naturally cramping and uncongenial. Leadbeater was then very “High Church” in his ecclesiastic leanings, and was closely associated with the work of the Church of All Saints, Margaret Street, London. As his uncle had much influence in ecclesiastical circles, it seemed logical that the nephew should enter the Church. The Rev. W.W. Capes was Leadbeater’s uncle and the Rector of the parish of Bramshott, Liphook, Hampshire. He was also an Oxford “don”, being the Reader in Ancient History in the University, fellow and tutor of Queen’s College and of Hertford College, Junior Proctor, Select Preacher and Public Examiner. After the usual studies, the young Charles was admitted as Deacon by Bishop Harold Browne of Winchester on December 22, 1878, and ordained to the Priesthood on December 21, 1879, at the Parish Church of St. Andrew, Farnham, Surrey by Harold Browne, Bishop of Winchester. In the 1870’s Charles Leadbeater was a teacher at the school attached to Trinity Church in Tottenham, North London. He also officiated as Superintendent. He lived with his mother and is remembered as a bright and cheerful and kindhearted man. A testimony of his work is provided by one of his students, Mr. A.W. Throughton, sixty years later. (see his letter dated June 16, 1934 .)
When admitted as Deacon, the Rev. Charles Leadbeater was authorized to act as a curate in a parish in Hampshire called Bramshott, and lived with his mother at a cottage called “Hartford”, about a quarter of a mile from the small village of Liphook. The Rector of the parish was the Rev. W.W. Capes of course; his wife was Charles’ aunt. The other curate of the parish was Mr. Kidston who was married and lived further along the same road. There was also an old lay reader in the parish. When he died another curate named Mr. Cartwright came and shared the cottage with Leadbeater, now living alone after his mother’s death. During term time, the Rector was often away at Oxford on his University work, and the routine work of the large parish fell largely upon the two, later three, curates. The young Leadbeater was a very active minister. He opened several local branches of clubs and societies associated with the Church of England: first a local “study” clubs for boys, later the “Union Jack Field Club”, then the “Church Society”, and finally “The Juvenile Branch of the Church of England temperance Society” in March 1884. Astronomy was a favorite hobby of Leadbeater at the time, and owned a 12″ reflector telescope. During an eclipse of the moon, he saw a shadow that was noticeable before the eclipse fairly started, and wrote some paper as to this, and it was found to be, in all probability, the shadow cast by the Andes. At one point of time, Charles Leadbeater used to go to a good few spiritualistic séances in London and met William Eglinton, a famous spiritualistic medium and reported some of his experiences with this medium . He also organized meetings in his own cottage. It is through Spiritualism and psychic phenomena that Leadbeater came to discover Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society after reading the book “The Occult World” of A.P. Sinnett. He joined the Theosophical Society on November 21, 1883 at the same time as Prof. William Crookes, an eminent scientist, and his wife.. On November 3rd., 1884, Leadbeater invited the members of his parish to his cottage and treated them with a fireworks display, with tea and with cake. After the fireworks were over, he gave all his belongings (and his beloved cat “Peter”) to three boys of the village. He took the early train in the morning of the 4th of November to London, and left everyone (the boys excepted) in ignorance. This event, and a few others were reported by one of the three boys named James (Jim) W. Manley , who became a sailor, and later a planter in Papua. He died in 1939. One of the last ‘arrangements’ Leadbeater made before leaving was to make certain payments on behalf of young Jim Manley, so that he could be entered as a cadet in the Mercantile Marine in one of the principal lines, for the boy’s parents were not well off, and were unable to help their younger son to realize his dreams of becoming a sailor. Leadbeater left London the same evening for Marseille and reached it at 6 the next morning, and went on board of a French steamer for Alexandria. He embarked for a new life on a British steamer for Madras, in Port Said, in the company of Madame Blavatsky, after a journey by train, via Cairo. To many, the unexpected departure of Charles Leadbeater from Bramshott, abandoning his congregation and his career, may look like desertion.
However, his attitude is in concordance with what Leadbeater deeply believed in at the time. He had tried on March 3, 1884 to establish a form of communication with the Masters, as they were described by H.P. Blavatsky. He tried to use the “spirit guide” of Mr. Eglinton to dispatch a letter by an elaborate procedure , but no reply came for months. When he came to say goodbye to Madame Blavatsky just before he departure on October 30th and stayed the night with Mr. and Mrs., A.P. Sinnett, she informed him that his letter of March 3rd has been seen by the Master. On the morning of October 31st, Leadbeater returned to Bramshott by the 11.35 train from Waterloo Station in London, he found out that the reply from the Master has arrived to his home, and it is the content of that letter that made him decide to put an end to his career in England
The full text of the “Biographical Notes” can be found on-line at: http://kingsgarden.org/English/Organizations/LCC.GB/LCIS/Scriptures/Liberal/Leadbeater/Leadbeater.htm