Liverpool History Society Questions

A selection of Liverpool history questions submitted to the Liverpool History Society

Catherine Walters of Henderson Street Toxteth

Catherine Walters

Dear Rob,

I wonder whether you have any information on a relative of mine, Catherine Walters born in Henderson Street, Toxteth Liverpool.  The family history mentions she had quite a life following her move to London in the 1800`s.

Best wshes

Marg Leven

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20/03/2012 - Posted by | Catherine Walters of Henderson Street Toxteth, Uncategorized |


  1. Hello Marg,

    Catherine Walters, also known as “Skittles” (13 June 1839 – 4 August 1920), was a fashion trendsetter and one of the last of the great courtesans of Victorian London. Walters was rumoured to have had intellectuals, leaders of political parties, aristocrats and a member of the British royal family amongst her benefactors.

    She was born the third of five children at 1 Henderson Street, Toxteth, Liverpool, grew up in the Liverpool area and moved to London before her twentieth birthday. Her father was Edward Walters, a customs official, who died in 1864. Her mother was Mary Ann Fowler.

    Her nickname is thought to have originated from her working at a bowling alley in Chesterfield Street near Park Lane. (Skittles is the game which evolved into bowling.) At other times she was known as “Mrs Behrens” and “Mrs Baillie” but is not thought to have married.

    Her classical beauty was matched by her skill as a horsewoman, for which she was almost equally renowned. In the 1860s the fascinating sight of Catherine riding on Rotten Row in Hyde Park drew huge crowds of sightseers. Aristocratic ladies copied the cut of her perfectly fitting “Princess” riding habit, and she was well known as a trendsetter.

    She counted among her lovers Aubrey de Vere Beauclerk, with whom she eloped for some months to America in the second half of 1862; Spencer Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington (later the eighth Duke of Devonshire), whom she pursued to New York during the American Civil War; Napoléon III; French finance minister Achille Fould;[8] and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). She was also the first love of the poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, who remained infatuated with her for the rest of his life.

    During her life as a courtesan, her discretion and loyalty to her benefactors became the focal point of her career. There were many rumours about her being involved with certain wealthy men of the time, but she never confirmed or denied these. This gave her great weight in the courtesan lifestyle, and made her a sought after commodity. This also gave long life to her career, and helped her to retire a wealthy woman of society around 1890. Her estate was worth £2764 19s. 6d at her death.[9] As well as her home in Mayfair, which according to DNB she had from 1872, a court case in which she was sued for non-payment of a tailoring bill refers to her having other addresses, possibly properties she owned. Two were hotels, one in France.

    She died of a cerebral haemorrhage at her home at 15 South Street, Mayfair, and was buried in the graveyard of the Franciscan Monastery at Crawley.

    Regards Rob

    Liverpool History Society

    Comment by Liverpool History Society Questions | 20/03/2012 | Reply

  2. In the Censuses of 1911, 1901 and 1891 Catherine is shown at 15 South Street, St. Georges Hanover Square, London, but listed as surname Baillie. Her ages and stated birthplaces are works of imagination. The neighbours are something of a mixed bag but quite normal people for the area at that time.

    Comment by Anon | 18/04/2012 | Reply

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