Leadbeater “Vindicated”

Various attempts have been made by Leadbeater’s supporters to deal with the 1906 scandal, the committee of inquiry and what followed. Supporters of Leadbeater, past and present, have shown a remarkable incapacity for accurately representing inconvenient facts.

At the convention of the Theosophical Society in Australia held in Sydney at Easter 1922, with Mrs Besant and Leadbeater present for some of the time, heated debate raged about Leadbeater.

During a debate on what was essentially a motion of confidence in Besant and Leadbeater, Leadbeater addressed the 1906 issue by declaring that the proceedings of the 1906 committee had been reviewed by another committee, “including eminent judges and barristers”, in 1908 which had cleared him of all charges.

This was reported in Dawn. The Official Organ of the T.S. Loyalty League (Sydney) Vol 1 No 4, 1 May 1922:

While having no wish to revive what has become known as The Leadbeater Case, it is necessary to repudiate a brief statement made by Mr. Leadbeater at the close of the debate on the vote of confidence at Sydney Convention on Easter Monday. That gentleman stated that the evidence against himself was finally disposed of at an official enquiry held in 1908. Of such an official enquiry we can find no record. Presumably, Mr. Leadbeater referred to some enquiry arranged for whitewashing purposes, of a hole-and-corner variety. The little value of such enquiry, and its decision, can be best realized from the fact that as late as 1913 Mr. Justice Bakewell, in the Madras High Court, after an exhaustive hearing, held “that Mr. Leadbeater was a man holding immoral opinions, highly unfit to associate with boys.” There is much more that might be quoted in the judgment delivered later at the Appeal Court, Madras; but we refrain from saying more. The point we emphasize is that no judgments such as those of 1913 could have been possible had the case against Mr. Leadbeater broken down in 1908, as he would have had those present at Convention believe. Had the speakers against the vote of confidence on Easter Monday not been gagged, and tricked out of their right to give reasons why they could not support any vote of confidence in Mr. Leadbeater, many of these points would have been made clear to members present.

The story of the 1908 committee, “including eminent judges and barristers”, is a somewhat confusing one.

A committee was appointed at the annual convention of the British Section of the Theosophical Society in 1908 in response to ever-increasing hostility to the prospect of Leadbeater being re-admitted to the Society. It was established to consider the question of his readmission. The committee consisted of Mrs Maude Sharpe (the General Secretary of the British Section); Edith Ward; G.R.S. Mead; Herbert Whyte and Herbert Burrows. Ward, Burrows and Mead had already expressed, and published statements of, their strong opposition to Leadbeater’s re-admission. Whyte and Sharpe were known to be supporters of Leadbeater. Numerous pamphlets were circulated giving the broadest possible publicity to the opinions of the special committee’s members.  All the details of the 1906 trial were resurrected, copies of letters to and from Leadbeater were re-published, and emotions ran high. The committee prepared its report which the General Secretary and the Executive then suppressed by a vote of nine to five.

The nine members of the Executive the British Section of the Theosophical Society who voted to suppress the report – not the committee originally appointed by the convention –  then resolved that, having considered all the evidence in the case, there was no reason why Leadbeater should not rejoin the Society.

Much was made of this Executive resolution in later years, when it came to be interpreted as a re-hearing of the 1906 charges by a committee appointed for that purpose. It is therefore important to note who were the members of the British Executive Committee voting in Leadbeater’s favour:  Miss Esther Bright, Miss Green, Mrs Larmuth, Mr Alan Leo, Miss Hallett, Mr Alfred Hodgson-Smith, Mr James Wedgwood, Mr Herbert Whyte and Mrs Maude Sharpe. All had previously identified themselves as supporters of Leadbeater, and continued to be so in future years.

It is probably unnecessary to note that neither the original committee, nor the majority of the Executive which later came to be reinterpreted as that committee, included any judges of barristers, eminent or otherwise.

A second, equally imaginative, claim of vindication was published in the Theosophic Messenger in 1923 and reported in Dawn. The Official Organ of the T.S. Loyalty League (Sydney) Vol 2 No 8, 1 January 1923. The Police investigation into Leadbeater undertaken by the New South Wales Police, “brought about by the antagonists of Bishop Leadbeater, resulted in his exoneration.” The Minister for Justice found “no grounds for the base slanders” and, more impressively, “Now for the first time, the matter has come before a regularly constituted legal tribunal, and the result is that he is acquitted.”

A bit of thrilling news came by cable from Australia as the [American Theosophical Society] Convention was in session – that the police investigation, brought about in Sydney by the antagonists of Bishop Leadbeater, resulted in his exoneration. Cable news is necessarily abbreviated and details are lacking, but it seems that after his enemies had done their worst and the Department of Justice had made a prolonged investigation, the Minister of Justice finds that there are no grounds for the base slanders. For sixteen years the assailants of C.W.L. have slandered him in season and out, while he has gone calmly on with his work.

Now, for the first time, the matter has come before a regularly constituted legal tribunal, and the result is that he is acquitted. It is to be hoped that his defamers will now have the good sense to subside.

The “thrill” referred to owed its origin to a cablegram dispatched from Sydney by one, Dr. Lindberg, so it is stated in another column of The Messenger. Dr. Lindberg, it appears, is a “Liberal Catholic Church” priest. The message itself is not quoted, but it is described as “bearing the good news that Bishop C.W. Leadbeater had been officially cleared in the courts.”

This is the sort of misrepresentation that is ladled out to those who are satisfied to be credulous. It was at this Convention, however, that 27 delegates voted against the Resolution of Confidence in the same “Bishop” C.W. Leadbeater; so probably some, at any rate, who were present were not gulled by the cablegram. Let it be repeated that “Bishop” Leadbeater was not “exonerated” by the Police Enquiry in Sydney, nor was he “acquitted,” nor was he “cleared in the courts,” nor did the Minister for Justice find “that there are no grounds for the base slanders.” The Justice Department did announce that the Crown Solicitor has stated: “I am of opinion that there is not enough evidence available here to obtain a conviction on any charge.” (Italics ours. – Eds.)

In the same report it was announced that “the inquiry was conducted by the Criminal Investigation Department, that all the parties thought likely to be able to give relevant evidence were interviewed, and a number of boys who had been associated with Mr. Leadbeater were interrogated.” Mr. Leadbeater himself did not offer to give evidence, and as evidence was entirely voluntary and then not sworn, it will be gathered that the proceedings differed very greatly from a “court trial,” where witnesses are on oath and subject to cross-examination, thus The Messenger lets itself go when it announces that “the matter has come before a regularly constituted legal tribunal.”

As announced in the November issue of Dawn, the T.S. Loyalty League, through a representative, has had access to the evidence itself, and Dawn states without equivocation, in reply to these falsehoods published in America, that if the evidence is insufficient to obtain a conviction on a criminal charge it is amply sufficient to require a searching inquiry on behalf of the Theosophical Society and in the interests of its good name. If those in authority continue to throw dust in the eyes of members, and to ignore the demand for impartial enquiry, then it may become the painful duty of Dawn to give further information regarding the nature of the evidence itself. What the Theosophical Society wants to know is not whether a particular form of immorality is criminal in the eyes of the Law of New South Wales, but whether it is criminal in the sight of Heaven? Members want to know if people declared by their President as on the threshold of Divinity are that; or, lecherous adventurers deceiving her and through her them, and trailing their most sacred ideals in the mire to the dishonor of God and man.

What the New South Wales Police inquiry actually concluded can be ascertained from consulting the original documents of the case – Special Bundle 7792.2 – “Police enquiry into alleged immoral teachings of C.W. Leadbeater, “Bishop” of the Liberal Catholic Church (Enquiry held 1922)” – which are available in the New South Wales State Archives, see: https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/archives-the-state-archives-of-new-south-wales/

A detailed account of the investigation and its conclusions is found in Gregory Tillett “Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934. A Biographical Study” (PhD Thesis, University of Sydney, 1986) chapter 18: “Police Investigations” (pp. 639-693), text available on-line at: http://leadbeater.org/tillettcwlchap18.htm

The Police investigation was not a “regularly constituted legal tribunal”, nor yet a legal tribunal of any sort, nor were the results of the Police investigation submitted to any legal tribunal or court. Insofar as the Police made findings, they were all adverse to Leadbeater.

The Minister for Justice did not find that there were “no grounds for the base slanders”. He did not make any findings at all. As for Leadbeater having been “officially cleared in the courts”, given that the matter did not go before any court, such a statement is simply a falsehood.


The Call

A curious work on Leadbeater found in the Adyar Library is:

Thea Hehr “The Call” in The Light and Other Platform Plays Theosophical Press, Wheaton. 1940

The Light and Other Platform Plays is reviewed in The American Theosophist 1948 v36 i10 October p217

The play is set in the sacristy of the church of which Leadbeater was a Curate. Leadbeater tells a young woman with whom he was in love that he has received “The Call” to renounce the Church and leave his work with the choir, the young people’s club and the Boys’ League. He gives the young woman a copy of the Book of Common Prayer inscribed with his name and (what he claimed to be) his family motto: toujours prete (“always ready”).

Some other writers have made passing reference to Leadbeater giving up his hopes of marriage to a young woman with whom he was in love, but with the explanation that his financial circumstances would not allow him to support her in the manner to which he hoped she would become accustomed.

Salvator Mundi

Such Greek as Leadbeater used, and such theology as he referred to, notably in The Christian Creed. Its Origin and Signification Theosophical Publishing House, London, 1904, is drawn from Samuel Cox Salvator Mundi, or Is Christ the Saviour of All Men? C. Kegan Paul; London, 1877 (and subsequently published in multiple editions and reprintings, including in contemporary versions). This was the only theological work to which Leadbeater makes reference in that volume or in his manuscript, An Enquiry into the Failure of Christianity.


Salvator Mundi is available in digital form on-line at: https://archive.org/details/salvatormundior03coxgoog


Cox also wrote The Larger Hope: A Sequel to Salvator Mundi Kegan Paul, Trench & Company, 1883.


Samuel Cox (1826-1893) was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1852. He was notable as a writer for and editor of a number of non-conformist publications, and as a Christian Universalist. He received the degree of DD from St Andrews in 1882. He was the author of some thirty volumes and the editor of some twenty others. He was the founder and first editor of a monthly journal The Expositor (1875-1884).

Hamerster on Leadbeater

In the Adyar Library is a collection in multiple volumes of the writings of A.J.(Albertus Jacobus) Hamerster (1883-1951) – see: https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/hamerster-on-leadbeaters-early-years/


Volume IV [081 Ham CA 4.4] includes an account of Leadbeater’s early life, “C.W. Leadbeater” from the Round Table Annual (1932); a hagiographical account of Leadbeater’s life, “Hero, Saint and Sage” from The Theosophist (May, 1934); and a curious account of the methods Leadbeater used to teach his boys, “A Modern Socrates” from The Theosophist (February, 1937).

“Hero, Saint and Sage” offers an account of how Hamerster obtained the biographical material he used. He first met Leadbeater in 1926 in Australia, corresponded with him when Leadbeater was living at Adyar, and then met him again at Adyar. Being asked to give a lecture on Leadbeater’s life, and to provide it for publication in the Round Table Annual, he prepared a draft which he submitted to Leadbeater for comment and correction. Leadbeater “enriched the original manuscript with notes, corrections and suggestions”, and wrote to Hamerster on 15 April 1931 approving the text and agreeing that it was accurate.

According to Hamerster’s account, confirmed in writing as accurate by Leadbeater, Leadbeater had been born on February 17, 1847, into a family of “old Norman stock” which had gone to England at the time of William the Conquerer in the 11th century. The name of the family had been adopted from the French Le Batre.

When he was twelve (in 1859) Leadbeater had accompanied his parents and his seven year old brother to South America where they led a happy life. Leadbeater himself had driven a locomotive from the inland to the coast to capture a defaulting cashier. His brother had been “atrociously butchered” by “Red Indians and renegade insurgents”. The “Life in South American had made of the boy Charles a man.”

When the family (without the deceased brother) returned to England, Leadbeater’s father died of consumption and died in London.

Leadbeater had met Bulwer Lytton at his parents’ home and observed him demonstrate psychic powers.

Leadbeater was ordained a Priest in the Church of England in 1878 “having done a certain amount of work as a layman in the slums of London.” His mother was a “Puseyite” (a follower of Dr E.B. Pusey) and had influence him in choosing a vocation in the Church.

“Having begun to doubt the literal truth of the dogmas as taught in orthodox Christianity, he [Leadbeater] looked elsewhere for a solution to the riddles of life which would satisfy the wants of the intellect as well and not appeal to a blind faith alone.”

Fifteen years after his death in South America, Leadbeater’s brother was reborn in Ceylon as Jinarajadasa.

Hamerster’s account includes the usual story about the bank collapse the ended Leadbeater’s studies at the University of Oxford.

Volume VI of Hamerster’s writings includes accounts of the reincarnation of Madam Blavatsky according to Leadbeater. She had, Leadbeater said, been reborn into a male body directly after she died – the body of a fourteen year old Indian boy who had fallen into a river and drowned but was revived just before cremation. That body, however, had only been “tentative” until she finally took possession of it around 1900.

The reincarnated Blavatsky was to have nothing to do with the Theosophical Society in her new life but “she has often given us advice, I am glad to say, and has also dictated to us or written for us various teachings on different points.”

Leadbeater had told a group at Adyar on 12 August 1931 that he had met Blavatsky in her new body “not many days ago”.



An Enquiry into the Failure of Christianity

Following the publication of The Science of the Sacraments (1920) and The Hidden Side of Christian Festivals (1920), Leadbeater had intended to publish a third volume to complete a trilogy of works on the Christian sacraments, the Christian calendar and Christian theology. He had first published an account of his eccentric reinterpretation of Christian theology in The Christian Creed. Its Origin and Signification Theosophical Publication Society, London, 1904. A digital version of the second edition, revised and enlarged, is available on-live at: https://archive.org/details/cu31924095631291

The third volume in the proposed trilogy had been completed, but not published, by the time of Leadbeater’s death, and the manuscript can – or could in late 1979 – be found in the Theosophical Society Library at Adyar [Reference L*091 Lea SF]. The 194 page typescript manuscript of this proposed third volume has the title An Enquiry into the Failure of Christianity. That work was never published essentially because both James Wedgwood (Leadbeater’s predecessor as Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church) and Frank Pigott (Leadbeater’s successor as Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church) considered that Leadbeater’s inadequate knowledge of theology had produced a work which would cause embarrassment.

With the publication of “reconstructions” of An Enquiry into the Failure of Christianity the seeds of a mythical history of the work have been laid: see https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/christian-gnosis/

In a review (an extract of which is quoted below), Elwood (a Liberal Catholic Priest although not identified as such) refers to “The Christian Gnosis (as Leadbeater originally titled it)”, when Leadbeater did no such thing. He titled it, as the original manuscript clearly shows, An Enquiry into the Failure of Christianity. Ellwood also claims that “The book’s origins lie in an incomplete theological manuscript”, and a review by Nash (an extract of which is quoted below) declares that Sten von Krusenstierna “resolved to complete and publish the work”. But the work – that is, An Enquiry into the Failure of Christianity – was completed in manuscript form, and what von Krusenstierna  did, and what he said that he did, was to compile “the present book by extracting what he considered useful from that manuscript, adding to it articles from The Liberal Catholic magazine, plus various unpublished talks and sermons.” He did not, and did not claim to, publish Leadbeater’s original work, An Enquiry into the Failure of Christianity.

Leadbeater wrote a work on what he considered to be theology, An Enquiry into the Failure of Christianity, the completed manuscript of which exists. I have seen it, read it, and taken detailed notes (which follow) of its contents. The primitive resources for photocopying at Adyar at the time (late 1979) made copying the manuscript impossible. Presumably a copy was made for von Krusenstierna to allow him to work on his revision. Perhaps the Theosophical Society at Adyar might now be prepared to make a digital version available?

The first such “reconstruction” of Leadbeater’s work was published by the St Alban Press under the title A Christian Gnosis (1983), although the title on the cover was The Christian Gnosis, edited by then then Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, Sten Von Krusenstierna.

Now a new “sanitised” version is available, with a foreword by, and presumably edited by, Richard Smoley: Christian Gnosis (neither A nor The Christian Gnosis) Quest Books, 2011. This contains the full text of the 1983 edition. The original brief biography of Leadbeater by Sten Von Krusenstierna (then Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church) has been replaced by Smoley’s foreword which contains basic, and factual, biographical material.

The following is an outline of the manuscript of An Enquiry into the Failure of Christianity:

Part I: An Enquiry into the Failure of Christianity

Chapter I: Why is Christianity not more successful?

Leadbeater answers this by declaring that orthodox Christian doctrine is “repugnant to reason and common sense, and furthermore much of it is obviously untrue” [p.2] and is a “farrago of blasphemous nonsense” [p.3]. He refers to the doctrine of the Fall as “that silly old story of Adam and Eve eating an apple” [p.6]. He declares:

In this volume I make an attempt to sift out those dogmas of Christianity which are expressions of universal truth from the monstrous accretions which are our heritage from ignorant medieval theologians, and are still so dear to the heart of uninstructed orthodoxy. [p.8]

Chapter II: God’s attitude to Man

Chapter III: The scheme called salvation

The Bible is no more useful than any other scripture. In orthodoxy, salvation means escaping from hell.

Material in these two chapter are essentially drawn from Samuel Cox’s Salvator Mundi; or, Is Christ the Saviour of All Men? (1882)

Part II: The Divine Plan

Chapter IV: The descent into matter [essentially as contained in Leadbeater’s The Christian Creed]

Chapter V: The method of human progress.

Leadbeater defines this as evolution through reincarnation in different “races”.

Chapter VI: Reincarnation

Chapter VII: A Rational Creed

Clairvoyance is here argued as the means for establishing evidence.

Chapter VIII: The real meaning of salvation

Leadbeater uses the analogy of a “school-room” which lessons being learned through reincarnation.

Chapter IX: The meaning of “Eternal”

Leadbeater claims that “Many have lost their sanity worrying about the sin against the Holy Ghost”. He argues that “the Christ” is one manifestation of “the World Teacher”.

Part III: The Hidden Side of Christianity

Chapter X: The inner teachings of early Christianity

Leadbeater refers to “Pistis Sophia” as “another Gospel” and refers to “Gnosticism” (which, alas, he does not understand, and which he assumes is a form of Theosophy in the first centuries).

Chapter XI: The origin of the Creeds [essentially as contained in Leadbeater’s The Christian Creed with “evidence” based on clairvoyant research]

Chapter XII. The Father Almighty [essentially as contained in Leadbeater’s The Christian Creed]

This refers to either (i) the Absolute “of which we can postulate nothing”; or (ii) the Solar Logos in the Trinity.

Chapter XIII: The Son

Under the Solar Logos and the “King of the World” there are various “ministers” with different responsibilities, including the “World Teacher” who is “the Minister for Religion and Education” who took over the body of Jesus when he was 30 years of age and did the same with Melchizadek.

Chapter XIV: The Incarnation [essentially as contained in Leadbeater’s The Christian Creed]

Leadbeater argues for the 105BC theory, claiming that the popular (and scholarly) account of the historical Jesus was a result of “copyists’ errors”.

Chapter XV: The Crucifixion [essentially as contained in Leadbeater’s The Christian Creed]

Chapter XVI: The descent into Hell [essentially as contained in Leadbeater’s The Christian Creed]

Chapter XVII: The Resurrection [essentially as contained in Leadbeater’s The Christian Creed]

Chapter XVIII: The Ascension [essentially as contained in Leadbeater’s The Christian Creed]

Chapter IX: The Holy Ghost

Chapter XX: The Holy Catholic Church and the Communion of Saints

Chapter XXI: The Remission of Sins

Chapter XXII: The Resurrection of the Dead

Essentially, the work is a collation of Leadbeater’s previous writings on Christianity, notably The Christian Creed – see: https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/the-christian-creed/ – with material drawn from The Inner Life (based on lectures given in 1910) and The Science of the Sacraments (1920) and The Hidden Side of Christian Festivals (1920).

The whole work is fundamentally flawed by both a manifest gross ignorance of Christian theology, and by the use of “straw man” arguments. Leadbeater defines some (supposed) Christian doctrine (inevitably in a way that none but the most primitive and theologically illiterate, and usually “primitive” Protestant, sect would teach) and then demonstrates how irrational it is. His assumption that “Christianity”, as a single, monolithic doctrinal structure actually exists only further demonstrates his utter ignorance of his subject.

Of course, he cites no references, other than “clairvoyant investigations” to support his arguments. His defective knowledge of Greek – already established by The Christian Creed – is here confirmed, as is his ignorance of early Christian history.

Annie Besant: A Letter…….1908

One of the essentially unknown writings of Annie Besant in support of Leadbeater’s return to membership of the Theosophical Society following his resignation in the wake of the 1906 scandal was:

Annie Besant A Letter to the Members of the Theosophical Society from Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society author, Adyar, 7 September 1908 The letter was also published by the author in London, November 1908.

The letter began:

An appeal has been made to the General Council and to myself, by the British Section in Convention assembled, to take action to put an end to the painful conditions of affairs which has arisen in consequence of certain pernicious teaching ascribed to Mr. C. W. Leadbeater. The General Council does not meet until December next, and will then take such action as it may deem right. The appeal to myself I answer, after such delay as has been imposed on me by the fact that I was in the Antipodes, on the Society’s business, when the appeal was made, and could not complete my reply until I had verified certain data by reference to documents not then within my reach.

My wish is to lift the present controversy out of the turmoil of passion in which all sense of proportion has been lost, and to submit the whole case to the judgment of the Theosophical Society, free from the exaggerations and misunderstandings which have surrounded it. I recognise fully that those who denounce Mr. Leadbeater are inspired, for the most part, by an intense desire to protect the purity of public morals and the good name of the Society, and are therefore worthy of respect. I ask them to believe that others may have an equal love of purity and of the Society’s good name, while not accepting their view of Mr. Leadbeater’s advice, and while considering that they have been misled by exaggerated and distorted statements, as I was myself. I even ask them whether they seriously think that I, after nearly twenty years of unstinted labor for the Society, and of a life more ascetic than

lax, am likely to be indifferent either to purity or to the Society s good name ? I ask them to give credit to others for good intent, as they claim good intent for themselves.

Besant noted that:

…occultism condemns “Neo-Malthusian practices” as tending to strengthen the sex passion… it condemns the medical advice to young men to yield to their ‘natural passions’;  it condemns solitary vice as only less harmful than prostitution; all these things are degrading, unmanly, unwomanly.  It exhorts man to remount by self-control the steep incline down which he has slipped by self-indulgence, until he becomes continent, into incontinent, by nature. On all this, Mr Leadbeater and myself are at one.

She dismissed the 1906 Committee hearing with ridicule:

The so-called trial of Mr Leadbeater was a travesty of justice.  He came before Judges, one of whom had declared before hand that ‘he ought to be shot’; another, before hearing him, had written passionate denunciations of him, a third and fourth had accepted, on purely psychic testimony, unsupported by any evidence, the view that he was grossly immoral, and a danger to the Society…

She similarly dismissed the suggestion that Leadbeater had ever given the advice to boys who had not sought it, and likewise dismissed the “cypher letter”, saying that, when he had seen a copy of it, Leadbeater had “repudiated it in its present form”;  Mrs Besant did not explain what that phrase may have meant.

She admitted that Leadbeater and his boys used a cypher (more accurately, a code) in their personal correspondence, and declares that the so-called “Cypher Letter” was referring to an “astral experience” and did not have the “foul construction” that had been placed upon it. She does not, however, provide any explanation as to the meaning of the letter or the section in “cypher”.

Besant referred to the letters published by Weller van Hook, and said by him to have been inspired by the Masters, but neither supported nor denied such van Hook’s claim.

Besant called for Leadbeater’s reinstatement, and asked that the convention of each Section of the Society should request her to invite him back to membership.  She also challenged the Society to disapprove of her own position by demanding her resignation, in which case she would seek the Master’s permission to resign.  Mrs Besant concluded with the assertion that the trouble was confined to “a small number of American and a considerable number of British members”.  She called upon all the members who had overwhelmingly voted for her as “chosen by the Masters” to lead the Society, to accept her direction.

The letter concluded with what can only be regarded as an ultimatum:

Mr. Leadbeater resigned two and a half years ago in the vain attempt to save the Society from this dissension; he does not ask to return. I am not at liberty to resign, being where I am by my Master s order, nor am I at liberty to ask him again to take his place within the Theosophical Society without a vote of the Theosophical Society. If the Theosophical Society wishes to undo the wrong done to him, it is for the Convention of each Section to ask me to invite his return, and I will rejoice to do so. Further, in every way that I can, outside official membership, I will welcome his co-operation, show him honour, and stand beside him. If the Theosophical Society disapprove of this, and if a two- thirds majority of members of the whole Theosophicai Society demand my resignation because of this, I will ask my Master s permission to resign. If not, is it not time to cease from warring against chimeras, and to devote ourselves wholly to the work? The trouble is confined to a small number of American and a considerable number of British members; can they not feel that they have done their duty by two years and a half of protest, and not endeavor to coerce the remainder of the Society into a continual turmoil? The vast majority of you affirmed last year that you regarded me as the President chosen by the Masters to steer what They have called “our Theosophical ship”. In Their name I call on all, who are loyal to Them and to Their choice, to work for Them, each in his own way, but in charity with all.

A copy of this publication was consulted in the Archives of the Theosophical Society at Adyar. It does not seem to be included in the catalogues of the libraries of the Theosophical Society in the USA (Wheaton) or Australia (Sydney). It appears to be included Kurt Leland’s exhaustive bibliography of Besant’s works – http://www.kurtleland.com/annie-besant-shrine-m where it is found in the section X. Theosophical Pamphlets (1891-1932)http://www.kurtleland.com/annie-besant-shrine/pamphlets/61-x-theosophical-pamphlets-1891-1932 – where it is shown as 1908 A Letter to the Members of the Theosophical Society [from the President and Vice-President]. No publisher listed.

The full text of the pamphlet is quoted in “JUSTICE”, Editor of [Dr T.M. Nair]: 1918 The Evolution of Mrs Besant, Being the Life and Public Activities of Mrs Annie Besant, Secularist, Socialist, Theosophist and Politician, With Sidelights on the Inner Workings of the Theosophical Society and the Methods by Which Mr Leadbeater Arrived at the Threshold of Divinity. Editor of “Justice”, Madras: pp.255-260

A digital version of The Evolution of Mrs Besant is available on-line at: https://archive.org/details/evolutionbesant00anonuoft





Leadbeater: The 1906 Case and Subsequent Controversies: A Bibliography

I am very grateful to the many people who have offered comments and suggestions, both via group e-mails and via individual e-mails to me, on the proposed project for the compilation of a bibliography for the 1906 case involving Leadbeater, and subsequent controversies. I have sought to incorporate all these into another (I hope, penultimate) schema for such a bibliography, which follows. Please offer any further comments, suggestions or criticisms!

Once a final schema is developed, I will begin “filling in” the structure. I have very large amounts of material – much of it already published on https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/ – which can be added, plus considerable additional material. I will then distribute draft versions of the bibliography for comments, corrections, suggestions and additions.

Obviously, this is a work which is beyond my individual capacity, and I seek assistance from those who have access to important material – notably, references to material in The Theosophist and other journals – to which I do not have access.

It may be that the final work will be suitable for separate publication (for example, in the Theosophy History monograph series – so Professor James Santucci is being kept informed of this project). I have no desire to lay claim to any legal rights in the end-product, other than by way of being able to protect it against misuse. Collaboration is essential and desirable, and must be acknowledged.

Your comments, suggestions and additional information can be sent to me: gregory1@pacific.net.au


A summary chronology of Leadbeater’s life (with relevant events in the Theosophical Society), 1900-1925

A. Primary sources [including locations, where known, of the original documents and sources in which they have been reproduced]


(1) The original allegations (including the Dennis correspondence), 1906

(2) Leadbeater’s initial defence, 1906

(3) The “Cypher Letter”

(4) The Committee of Enquiry (including the transcript), 1906

(5) Leadbeater’s resignation, 1906

(6) Mrs Besant’s initial responses, 1906

(7) Jinarajadasa’s defence of Leadbeater, 1906

(8) Correspondence between Leadbeater and Besant, 1906-1907

(9) Correspondence between Leadbeater and Olcott, 1906-1907

(10) The “visit” of the “Masters” to Colonel Olcott (“The Adyar Manifestations”), 1907

(11) The Van Hook correspondence, 1908

(12) The British Section Special Committee, 1908

(13) Annie Besant “To The Members of the Theosophical Society”, 1908

(14) The General Council Resolution, December 26, 1908

(15) Leadbeater’s reinstatement, 1908

(16) Resignations following Leadbeater’s reinstatement

(17) Biographical data on the boys involved in the allegations

Douglas Pettit

Robin Dennis

Howard Maquire

George Nevers

(18) Biographical data on the key figures in the case

Helen Dennis

E.W. Dennis

Alex Fullerton

Helen Chidester

Frank Knothe

Dr Eleanor Hiestand-Moore


B. Publications relating to the 1906 Case (including journal articles)


(1) 1906-1910

Works published 1906-1910 (as a rough end-date) in response to the original case; these were most often published in response to Leadbeater’s return to the Theosophical Society.


(1.1) Works published 1906-1910

(1.2) “The Theosophic Voice”, 1908-1909 (Dr Eleanor Hiestand-Moore (1859-1923))


(2) After 1910

These include works published in response to the Krishnamurti “emergence”, the Krishnamurti custody case, the appearance of the Liberal Catholic Church and “neo-theosophy”, and allegations and police investigations in Australia, many (if not most) of which also dealt with the 1906 case and some of which reproduced the earlier works. Works will only be included in this section if they contain significant material on the 1906 case and related issues.


(2.1) Works published after 1910: general

(2.2) Works relating to the Krishnamurti custody case, 1912-1914

(2.3) Works relating to “The Antiseptic” (Dr T.M. Nair) defamation cases, 1913

(2.4) “The O.E. Library Critic”, 1912-1925 (H.N. Stokes)

(2.5) Works hostile to the Liberal Catholic Church

(2.6) Works relating to the Australian scandals of the 1920s

(2.6.1) The Sydney Police investigation of 1917

(2.6.2) The Sydney Police investigation of 1922

(2.6.3) T.H. Martyn (1860-1924)

(2.6.4) “Dawn”, 1921-1924

(2.6.5) The Kollerstrom defamation case, 1926

(2.7) Alice Leighton Cleather (1846-1938)


D. Other allegations of sexual misconduct by Leadbeater

(1) England, 1888

(2) Ceylon, 1886-1889

(3) Basil Hodgson-Smith (1887-1929)


D. Significant historical studies dealing with the 1906 case and others. Works will only be included in this section if they contain significant material on the 1906 case and related issues.


(1) From within the Adyar Society, including:

Jinarajadasa The Golden Book of the Theosophical Society. A Brief History of the Society’s Growth from 1875-1925 Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1925

Josephine Ransom A Short History of the Theosophical Society, 1875-1937 Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1938

Joy Mills 100 Years of Theosophy in America Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton ILL, 1987

(2) From within other Theosophical Societies, including:

The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925. A History and a Survey New York, E.P. Dutton and Company, 1925

The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950. A History and a Survey Los Angeles, The Cunningham Press, 1951

(3) From non-Theosophical sources, including:

Arthur Nethercot The Last Four Lives of Annie Besant University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1963; Rupert Hart-Davis, London, 1963

(3.1) Biographies of Colonel Olcott

(3.2) Biographies of Annie Besant

(3.3  ) Biographies of C.W. Leadbeater



Dr Eleanor Hiestand-Moore

When Leadbeater began writing what turned out to be a massive amount of material on past lives – The Soul’s Growth Through Reincarnation; “Rents in the Veil of Time”; Man, Whence, How and Whither; and the Lives of Alcyone – he used what became known as “Star Names” to identity the (for want of a better term”) “souls” whose reincarnatory journeying he described. Some of the then earthly identities of those to whom “Star Names” were given were generally known. However, as the number of “Star Names” increased, and such public identification was withheld, there was considerable speculation as to the identities. See: https://cwleadbeater.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/in-the-lives-in-the-lives/

Various lists, public and private, of “Star Names” and their current incarnations appeared. In the course of research for my biography of Leadbeater, The Elder Brother (1982), all but one “Star Name” had been identified. Indeed, despite all the efforts that had been made by various Theosophists eagerly following the past life accounts, no-one had ever been able to find the identity of that “Star”: Scorpio.

If the Lives gave great scope for the creation of heroes, they also allowed for clearly defined villains.  Great mystery surrounded some of the obvious villains, readily identifiable in every life as evil, and an enemy of the Theosophical heroes. The principal villains were Ursa, Cancer, Hesperia, Lacerta and, the most evil of them all, Scorpio. This little cluster was found in numerous lives as malcontents, trouble-makers and the tools of the Black Powers.  Whereas others rose and fell with different incarnations – or, as sceptics remarked, as they pleased or displeased Leadbeater – these five remained in the depths of nastiness.

The identity of the first four are relatively clear:  Dr Elizabeth Chidester or Robert Dennis (Ursa), Mr Knothe (Cancer), Mrs Helen Dennis (Hesperia) and Mrs Kate Davis (Lacerta).  These are all the “villains” of Leadbeater’s 1906 “troubles” in the United States, and its aftermath.

Scorpio has been identified with Dr Eleanor Hiestand-Moore, but however much Leadbeater may have hated her for her vitriolic attacks on him in the Theosophic Voice, the journal she established for that sole purpose, she remained an improbably insignificant figure and the beginnings of her anti-Leadbeaterian wickedness is too late. It is far more likely that Scorpio was retained as a mysterious, never-specified villain, capable of being recognized in anyone who filled the role at any time, a subtle threat to any would-be enemies who might have found it uncomfortable to have been so identified in Theosophical gossip.

Eleanor M. Moore (1859-1923) was the daughter of Wylie and Ann Blair. She married, first, J. Howard Hiestand in 1879, and, second, William Moore in 1892. She studied at Pennsylvania College, Vassar College and Bryn Mawr College, and the Womens Medical College of Pennsylvania (founded in 1850 as the first medical school in the world for women,) from which she obtained her MD in 1890. She was the assistant Editor of the Medical Register, 1887-1889; and demonstrator of chemistry at the Womens Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1890-1895. Thereafter, she worked as a public lecturer, press correspondent and magazine writer. She was an enthusiastic activist for the cause of womens suffrage. She was also a supporter of Buddhism in the USA, also she described her religion as Episcopalian: see Thomas A. Tweed The American Encounter with Buddhism 1844-1912 University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1992:63-64.  She had a great interest in the genealogy of the Blair family (from whom her father descended): see Eleanor M. Hiestand-Moore The Genealogical File of Dr. Eleanor M. Hiestand-Moore G. Carlisle, 1990.

Dr Hiestand-Moore (as she became known) founded The Theosophic Voice, a journal essentially dedicated to criticizing Leadbeater and publishing material hostile to him, including reproductions of some of the more significant material relating to the 1906 crisis. The three issues – 1/1, May 1908; 1/2 August 1908; 1/3 November 1908-January 1909 – are available on-line in digital form at: http://www.iapsop.com/archive/materials/theosophic_voice/


An independent, unofficial journal, published in the interests of the American Section of the Theosophical Society.
For Theosophy and for America!
1908–1909 Quarterly
Chicago, IL. Publisher: Theosophic Voice Publishing Company, in the Interests of the Theosophical Society in America. Editor: Eleanor M. Hiestand-Moore, M.D.
1/1, May, 1/2 August 1908, 1/3 November 1908-January 1909. 24-56 pp. (varies), distributed free of charge.

Three issues only, although there is internal mention of an issue for October 1908, which is almost certainly an error since its existence would confound the issue numbering. This was a “little independent, unofficial journal” put out “in the interests of” disgruntled members of the American Section of the Theosophical Society who disagreed with the official position of the Section, set out in the Theosophical Messenger and in a flurry of pamphlets, in approving by implication C.W. Leadbeater’s teaching of masturbation to young boys and telling them, in coded letters, to conceal his instructions from their parents and others, and attributing the practices directly to the Theosophical Masters. Its broader complaint was against the growing autocracy and rigid dogma of Annie Besant and her followers and the elevation of Besant and Leadbeater to the status of “popes”:

“‘The Theosophic Voice’ is established as a protest against autocracy, lax morals and superstition. It will oppose attempts to compromise with wrongdoing in the interest of ‘harmony.’ The gravity of the present situation in the Theosophical Society stultifies the loud appeals for peace uttered, for the most part, by those who are willing to let the great issues we have lately made, rest without settlement. ‘The Voice’ represents an element in the American Section which would rather see the Theosophical Society disintegrate than compromise the high ideals which have hitherto determined its course.”

Both sides of the internecine war escalated their rhetoric, with the journal moving from defense to open, ever broader attacks, and the Society explicitly equating opposition to Leadbeater with rejection of Mrs. Besant and the Masters; “The Enemies of Mrs. Besant Are the Enemies of Charles W. Leadbeater, of the Masters and of the Future Religion of the World.” One of Besant’s stalwarts “explicitly threaten[ed] with repression by Natural Law those malevolent Theosophists who impede the efforts of leaders, and announce[d] that ‘the Masters will no longer tolerate interference with their plans.'” The tone of the debate was not raised when the contents of the famous cipher letters from Leadbeater to a boy began to be known publicly in the summer of 1908 and became a rallying cry against him (“Glad sensation is so pleasant. A thousand kisses, darling!”) and stories began to emerge of Leadbeater’s sleeping in the same bed with boys. The journal for a time favored the formation of a dissident branch of the Theosophical Society, the Inter-State Theosophical Society, but that came to naught and Leadbeater was re-admitted to the Society in February 1909, causing a large number of Theosophists to resign worldwide. It is invaluable for its compilation of the letters and ephemera of the Leadbeater Affair. The editor of the journal was a homeopath and universal reformer chosen for the position because she happened to be in Chicago at the time the scandal broke–lecturing on the evils of self-abuse. In 1926, the three issues of the journal were “reprinted” by “a member of the Hamilton [Canada] Lodge,” and it is probable that these issues are from this reprint. Yale University; National Library of Australia.  http://www.iapsop.com/archive/materials/theosophic_voice/

The Theosophic Voice attracted the attention of Mrs Besant, who wrote to Dr Hiestand-Moore:


Adyar, Madras,

27.1. 1908.

Dear Madam:

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your circular letter of December, 29th, 1907.

I am sorry that you intend to carry on an organized opposition, but you are within your right, and I am bound to suppose that you consider it your duty to do so. It is possible that your view may be modified by the statement which will appear in the February number of “The Theosophist.”

There is one thing which perhaps you should consider before beginning a renewed attack on Mr. Leadbeater. Hitherto his friends have not de­fended him by a statement of the facts of the case, for he has desired, and still desires, to shield the boys concerned. But if his assailants re­new the attack and strive to blacken him further, it may become neces­sary to drop this merciful silence, and to let the world, so misled by the statements publicly made, know the facts hitherto concealed.

Sincerely yours,


P. T. S.


Alice Leighton Cleather

Alice Leighton Cleather (1846-1938) was a prominent early member of the Theosophical Society.  She was the wife of Colonel William Barclay Gordon Cleather (1837-1919) of the 79th Foot Regiment, within the ranks of which he had risen since his enlistment in 1855.  He retired on full pay in 1918. They had one child: Thorsten Gabriel Gordon Cleather (1885-1906).


Cleather joined the Theosophical Society in 1885 and the Esoteric Section in 1888, and was admitted to the Inner Group in 1890 where she had instruction from Helena P. Blavatsky. Cleather was given the task of recording the meetings and her careful notes were used in 1940 for a report in the Theosophical Forum (Point Loma). For the Inner Group, see: http://world-news-research.com/blavatskysfinalwork.html  and H.J. Spierenburg The Inner Group Teachings of H. P. Blavatsky to Her Personal Pupils, 1890-91: A Reconstruction of the Teachings with a short historical introduction by J.H. Dubbink San Diego, Calif., Point Loma Publications, c1985.

During this period Cleather wrote a number of articles, most importantly those published in The Theosophist from March 1890 to August 1895 under the title “Theosophy in Western Lands”.

In 1895 William Q. Judge broke from the Adyar Theosophical Society and Cleather became a close associate of Katherine Tingley, Judge’s successor, accompanying her on her world tour and remaining in Europe to lecture on theosophical subjects.

In 1899 Cleather disassociated herself from the Theosophical Societies based at Adyar and Point Loma on the grounds that they were deviating from the pure Blavatsky teachings.

In 1920 Cleather was one of five Europeans to take Buddhist vows at Buddha Gaya under the auspices of Geshe Rompoche at the Donkar monastery, Chumbi Valley, the first Europeans so to do. At the end of 1925 she journeyed to Peking and met the Tashi Lama.


This led to the production of The Voice of the Silence, Translated and Annotated by H.P. Blavatsky. A faithful reprint of the original edition with an autograph foreword by H.S.H. The Tashi Lama of Tibet. Notes and Comments by Alice L. Cleather and Basil Crump H.P.B. Centenary Edition, Peking, 1931.


Cleather was given a special passport for Tibet and, in company with Basil Crump and her son, travelled into Tibet and then down the Yellow River, finally arriving at Sining in North West China after six months of exhausting travel. Having returned to Peking, she published two pamphlets in Chinese: Why I Believe in Buddhism, and Some Thoughts on Buddhism.

Together with William Kingsland, Cleather founded the H. P. B. Lending Library, and in 1923 she established the Blavatsky Association. She died on May 4, 1938, at Darjeeling, India.

In her early Theosophical period, Cleather had developed a close relationship with Basil Woodward Cramp (1866-1945), a barrister of the Middle Temple, and a graduate of Jesus College, Cambridge, who by 1900 had become the editor of the Law Times. Crump was a boarder for a time in the Cleather family home, and co-authored a number of books with Cleather.




Cleather’s Theosophical works include:


1922 H. P. Blavatsky, a Great Betrayal Thaker Spink and Co., Calcutta.

Digital version available on-line at: https://archive.org/details/hpblavatskygreat00clearich

Text version available on-line at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/36373/36373.txt

1922 H. P. Blavatsky: Her Life and Work for Humanity Thaker Spink and Co., Calcutta.


1923 H.P. Blavatsky As I Knew Her With An Addendum by Basil Crump Thacker, Spink and Co, Calcutta, 1923 – text available on-line at: http://blavatskyarchives.com/cleatherknew/cleatherhpbasIknewhercontents.htm

1929 The Pseudo-Occultism of Alice Bailey Thaker Spink and Co., Calcutta (by Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Crump.) Text version available on-line at: https://blavatskytheosophy.com/the-pseudo-occultism-of-alice-bailey/

Cleather’s other works written with Basil Crump, include:

(1903) The Ring of the Nibelung; An Interpretation Embodying Wagner’s Own Explanations Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Woodward Crump New York, G. Schirmer

1904 Parsifal, Lohengrin, and the Legend of the Holy Grail Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Woodward Crump New York: G. Schirmer

1905 Tristan and Isolde: An Interpretation, Embodying Wagner’s Own Explanations  Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Woodward Crump London: Methuen and Co.

1913 Lohengrin and Parsifal: Described and Interpreted in Accordance with Wagner’s Own Writings Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Woodward Crump London: Methuen

1928 Buddhism: The Science of Life  Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Woodward Crump. China Booksellers

Crump was also the author of:

[n.d.] The Secret Doctrine on the Problem and Evolution of Sex Victoria, B.C.: H.P.B. Library

1926 Did Jesus visit India and Tibet? Buddha and Christ: Confusion between person and principle Peking: The Far Eastern Times

Alice Leighton Cleather—Defender of H. P. B.

Mrs. Alice Leighton Cleather, one of the most valiant defenders of H. P. Blavatsky, died suddenly at Darjiling, India, on May 4th, aged about 84 years. She was born April 24, 1854, Even at this advanced age she was still actively engaged in the defense of H. P, B. and in opposing the corruptions introduced by Mrs. Besant.

Mrs. Cleather was the daughter of a Church of England clergyman and the wife of Colonel William Barclay Gordon Cleather, a British army officer who had seen active service in India. She contacted Theosophy through reading Sinnett’s Occult World in 1881, and joined the Theosophical Society in 1885, but did not meet H. P. B, until 1887, under circumstances which she has interestingly narrated in her book, H.P. Blavatsky As I Knew Her. She became deeply attached to H. P. B., a feeling which was reciprocated, and was one of the famous “Inner Group” of twelve members who received special instructions not given even to general members of the E. S. T. Of this group she and E. T. Sturdy were the last survivors, and her intimate relations with H. P. B. placed her in a position to speak authoritatively regarding her teachings and the corruptions introduced by Mrs. Besant.


For Edward Toronto Sturdy (1860-1957) see: http://theosophy.wiki/w-en/index.php?title=E._T._Sturdy

At the time of the Judge trouble Mrs. Cleather took the side of Judge and joined Mrs. Tingley’s faction, accompanying her on the famous “crusade”’ around the world. Later she became dissatisfied with the leadership of Mrs. Tingley and resigned from her society (Point Loma) in 1809, thereafter remaining aloof from the several theosophical societies.

Mrs. Cleather’s closest associate was Mr. Basil Crump, a London barrister who for eleven years was editor of the London Law Times and who survives her. Mr. Crump was a close friend of the Cleather family, being draw n to them not only by a common interest in Theosophy, but also by common musical tastes, and as regards Colonel Cleather, by their being Masons. Mrs. Cleather and Mr. Crump traveled extensively, lec­turing on the music of Richard Wagner and the symbolism of the Wag­nerian dramas. Jointly they published four books on Wagner, which have gone through several editions, are still in print and regarded as authoritative.

Colonel and Mrs. Cleather, their son Gordon Cleather and Mr. Crump traveled extensively together, an association which was continued after the Colonel’s death in the w inter of 1918-19, which prevented his joining them in India, as intended. Young Cleather became proficient in Tibetan and Chinese, a qualification which rendered great service to his elders.

Disillusioned and disheartened by the continual discords in the Theosophical Movement Mrs. Cleather and Mr. Crump withdrew from all public theosophical activities for a time, going in 1918 to reside in India, accompanied by Gordon Cleather, where they became deeply interested in Buddhism of the Mahayana type and took pansil, as had H. P. B. and Col. Olcott before them. It was during this residence in India that Mrs. Cleather had her interest in theosophical activities revived through reports of the antics of Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater and their com­ing World Teacher Krishnamurti, and decided on a vigorous campaign in defense of H. P. B. and in opposition to the doctrines of Neo-theosophy, to say nothing of the doings of the sex-pervert Leadbeater. I was informed by Mrs. Cleather in one of her earlier letters that it was the reading of the [O.E. Library] Critic which in some way came into her hands, that caused her resolution to come out of her long retirement and to work openly in defense of her old teacher H. P. B. and her doctrines.

In pursuit of this aim Mrs Cleather first published in India, in 1922, a book, H. P. Blavatsky, A Great Betrayal, which is one of the most scathing exposures of Besant-Leadbeaterism, the World Teacher delusion and the inroads of sex-perversion doctrines into the T. S. that has appeared. This was followed in the same year by her H. P. Blavatsky; Her Life and Work for Humanity, originally published in the Maha Bodi Journal, and written at the request of the Ven. Anagarika Dharniapala [i.e. Anagarika Dharmapala] , and in 1923 by H.P. Blavatsly As I Knew Her originally written as part of a proposed volume by Mrs. Laura Langford (the Laura Holloway of The Mahatma Letters), but as the Langford book was delayed, and in fact never actually compiled by Mrs. Langford, this was published separ­ately by Mrs. Cleather for reasons stated therein. About one half of this book consists of a criticism by Mr. Crump of Sinnett’s sour post­humous volume, The Early Days of Theosophy in Europe, in which H. P. B. was maligned. These three books, published in Calcutta, are still available (see list) and constitute a highly important contribution to “Back to Blavatsky” literature.


For Anagarika Dharmapala (Sinhalese: අනගාරික ධර්මපාල; 1864-1933), the Sri Lankan Buddhist revivalist and writer, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anagarika_Dharmapala

During her stay in India Mrs. Cleather undertook a trip to Australia, where she lectured much to the annoyance of Mrs. Besant, Mr. Leadbeater and the Liberal Catholic faction which has taken deep root in Australia.



Australian Worker (Sydney), 10 August 1927

Having become deeply interested in Buddhism and the Tashi Lama, then all exile from Tibet, the Cleather party, Mrs. Cleather, son Gordon Cleather, Mr. Crump and Miss Cristobel Davey, left India in 1925, going to Peking, where they resided for several years and frequently con­tacted the Tashi Lama. It was during this time (1928) that Mrs. Cleather and Mr. Crump published their reprint of the original edition of H. P. B,’s Voice of the Silence at the direct request of the Tashi Lama, who endorsed it as a correct exposition of the Mahayana Buddhist ethics.


For the 9th Tashi Lama at the time, better known as the Panchen Lama (Tibetan: པན་ཆེན་བླ་མ), the highest ranking Lama after the Dalai Lama in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, Thupten Chökyi Nyima (1883–1937), see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thubten_Choekyi_Nyima,_9th_Panchen_Lama

At that time and until very recently this was the only edition of The Voice of the Silence exactly as H. P. B. approved and published it. A later version, edited by W. Q. Judge and still popular, while not altered in any really essential particulars, contains as many as 665 emendations and cannot be designated as the book as H. P. B. wrote it…

During their Peking sojourn Mrs. Cleather and Mr. Crump published Buddhism the Science of Life (1928), and Mr. Crump alone in 1930 Evolution as Outlined in the Archaic Eastern Records, which has been designated as “The Secret Doctrine in 200 pages”. All of these books are still available. There were also some minor publications, including The Pseudo-Occultism of Mrs. A. Bailey.

In 1933 the Tashi Lama having decided to return to Tibet, the Cleather party undertook a perilous journey to Kum Rum with the aim of meeting him as he had directed. At this time Mrs. Cleather was about 79 years old and endured the hardships of the journey like a far younger person. Unfortunately the death of the Dalai Lama caused complications which frustrated the meeting and the party had to return to Peking disappointed. A most interesting account of this pilgrimage, with many photographs by Mr. Crump, was published in Chinese period­ical Caravan (in English), February to May.

In 1923 there was founded in London The Blavatsky Association, the object of which was the defense of H. P. B. and the propagation of her teachings. While Mrs. Cleather was actively associated in organizing this her name does not appear in the records of the Association as “Founder”. It was the work of a number of students, especially William Kingsland, long its president and Mrs. Cleather.


For William Kingsland (1855-1936), English engineer, scientist, author and Theosophist, who was President of the Blavatsky Lodge in London and was present in the meetings where H. P. Blavatsky answered members’ questions on The Secret Doctrine, see: http://theosophy.wiki/w-en/index.php?title=William_Kingsland

In 1937, there being finally a prospect of the Tashi Lama returning to Tibet, the Cleather party left Peking and returned to Darjiling in northern India, whence they expected to cross the border and contact him, a plan which was frustrated by his untimely death. Shortly before leaving Peking Mrs. Cleather met with a serious accident, including a broken arm, recovery from which was hampered by her advanced age. She was, however, able to make the journey, but never fully recovered. It is possible that the bitter disappointment caused by the unexpected demise of the Tashi Lama contributed indirectly to her death.

The determined defense by Mrs, Cleather of H. P. B. and her unsparing attack on the Besant-Leadbeater corruptions of her teachings and on the Leadbeater “morality” inculcated openly in the Adyar Society naturally aroused resentment in that quarter. More bitter, however, and the more unexpected as coming from a source which should be friendly, were two anonymous articles in the U. L. T. magazine Theosophy (October, 1923, p. 536, and January, 1929, p. 101), purportedly the exponent of Blavatsky Theosophy. Nothing I have ever read surpassed these attacks, especially the second, in the way of virulent denunciation, libelous accusations and flagrant falsification. Mrs. Cleather very rightly did not reply, but the first article was dealt with in a pamphlet, “Un­published Letters in Reply to a Theosophical Attack on Mrs. A. L. Cleather’s Books”, written by Mr. Kingsland. Mr. Crump and the Victoria Lodge, Independent, and published by the H. P. B. Library, while the second was dealt with in the Critic of March and April. 1929 (reprinted as a pamphlet still obtainable). These attacks, apparently instigated because Mrs. Cleather did not see eye to eye with the anony­mous writer in Theosophy on the sacrosanctness of W. Q. Judge, aroused great indignation among the friends of Mrs. Cleather who knew the facts and the falseness, yes, even indecency of some of the charges, and afforded a striking illustration of how personality worship may eclipse the better theosophical instincts. But enough of that. Those who knew Mrs. Cleather and her work know that no more loyal, devoted, sincere, honest and unselfish pupil of H. P. B. could be found anywhere.

Despite her illness Mrs. Cleather was able to contribute recently to The Canadian Theosophist two extremely valuable articles, the one (March, 1938, pp. 6-20) being a complete, unabridged copy of H. P.B.’s wonderful Preliminary Memorandum prefacing her E. S. T. “Instruc­tions No. III”, which contains the gist of the theosophical ethics, includ­ing the so-called “Golden Stairs”, the other (December, 1937), being an exposure, substantiated by photographic proof, of Mrs. Besant’s unscru­pulous tampering with and alteration of II. P. B.’s teachings as pre­sented in the so-called Volume III of The Secret Doctrine, which Mrs. Ransom would have us believe to be an authentic portion of the work (May Theosophist, p. 153). Mrs. Cleather was as closely associated with H. P. B. as was Mrs. Besant; Mrs. Cleather knew what H. P, B. taught and stuck to it; Mrs. Besant also knew what she taught, and altered it to suit her own caprices. The forthcoming Adyar edition of The Secret Doctrine will doubtless bear witness to this, if we can judge by the prospectuses. Had Mrs. Cleather lived she would unquestionably have been able to present further evidences of this.

From The O.E. Library Critic Vol XXV No 8 April May 1918 – digital version available on-line at: http://www.iapsop.com/archive/materials/o_e_library_critic/oe_library_critic_v25_1937-1938.pdf