Lady Mary Leilah <I>Kirkham</I> Yarde-Buller

Lady Mary Leilah Kirkham Yarde-Buller

Death 15 Nov 1904 (aged 54–55)
Livermore, Alameda County, California, USA
Burial Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA
Plot Plot 6, Lot 172, Grave 3
Memorial ID 68191651 · View Source
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San Francisco Call, Volume 96, Number 171, Page 6, Column 2, Friday, November 18, 1904 -

Simplicity Marks the Funeral Services
That Were Held at St.
John's Episcopal Church
OAKLAND, Nov. 17. - The funeral of Mary Leilah Kirkham Yarde-Buller, who died Tuesday [15th] at the Livermore Sanitarium, was held this afternoon at 2:30 o'clock from St. John's Episcopal Church, the Rev. Edgar F. Gee, the rector, officiating. Only relatives of the once beautiful belle of two continents attended the services, which were marked by extreme simplicity. There was music interspersed in the reading of the Episcopal rites for the dead. Interment was in the Kirkham plat at Mountain View Cemetery.

Otago Witness, New Zealand, Issue 2328, 13 October 1898, Page 42 –
Blithe Leilah Kirkham, the loveliest belle of the military camp by the Golden Gate!
Beautiful Mrs. Yarde-Buller, most dazzling of all the fair women at the Queen's Drawing Room.
Sad Leilah Kirkham Yarde-Buller, most pitiable wreck at the madhouse in Paris!
So think those who have lived scarce a score of years, for the gamut from the frontier to the Queen's Drawing Room and back again has been run within their memory.
American heiress, reigning belle of San Francisco, one of the leading beauties of London, widow of a British consul to South Africa, wife of a member of a noble English family, political intriguante — all of these was Lady Yarde-Buller and the end of all was the madhouse.
It is an o'er true tale, with a moral.
Leilah Kirkham was the youngest and most beautiful daughter of General R. W. Kirkham, the commandant of the Presidio.
In the days of her babyhood and girlhood the Presidio was not the model military home of the present. It overlooked the Golden Gate locked Bay, with its placid blue surface gleaming through a mantle of golden sheen then as now, but instead of the pretentious modern houses were cabins of logs from the redwood forests. Instead of the well-kept, somewhat palatial lawns was a riot of natural bloom and fragrance. It was in the largest of these log cabins that Leilah Kirkham was born. It was among these flowers she flourished, her beauty no less than theirs, her personality as aggressive as their almost too insistent perfume.
She was a wayward, lovable child from the moment that her baby fingers clutched her father's military-looking imperial, and she laughed at his grimaces until she rolled a little pink heap of risibility upon his knee.
She had always a marked individuality. The little girls, who walked demurely to school in white pinafores and with hair braided soberly with narrow ribbons, were objects of mirth to her.
"See the little sheep, mamma," she said between her fits of laughter. "They are exactly alike. Oh, mamma, I want to be like nobody but myself. I want to do as I like, mamma, exactly as I like. The people who are like everyone else and do what other people tell them to, and because others do so, are very stupid."
Her black hair was never confined in braids. It floated free from her shoulders and blew about as wandered her gay, un-flattered thoughts. She would not wear pinafores. She refused to play with the demure little maidens of her own age. She laughed at them and they hated her.
As sometimes happens in families that seem well governed Leilah Kirkham grew up absolutely without parental restraint. Her father could control insubordinate soldiers, for there was the guardhouse, and, as a last resort, the court martial. But the guardhouse and the court martial were not for creatures as young, as beautiful, as utterly untamable as that beautiful daughter of his. The strong military disciplinarian proved the weak home ruler. It was not strange that his shrinking, delicate wife fled from the task which her husband abandoned. The older sister, who "was like other people and did as they did,'" was rather afraid of her buoyant younger sister. So Leilah Kirkham was left to be "like herself, only like herself," and as different from the "stupid people who were just like each other and did things because others did" as was possible. She came to do "what she liked, exactly what she liked." She was leaving the fair domain of liberty and approaching the dark borderlands of license, and there was no one to say her nay.
She was radiantly beautiful, despite the mocking daredevil in her brown eyes. There was a lissome, voluptuous grace in her young figure, a rare mingling of faultlessness of feature and vividness of coloring in her face, a union of mockery and winsomeness in her flute-like laugh.
She was the belle of all the military fetes in the log houses at the Presidio.
"The most original and the strangest girl I ever saw," said the observant at these fetes.
"An Ariel, with the possibilities of a Caliban," said the reflective.
"I don't know where she gets that queer taint in her blood. She is not like anyone else," said the frank.
Leilah's lifelong wish was being granted. She was "like herself," like no one else in her little world.
General Kirkham left the command of the Presidio and removed his family to a mansion built for them on the shore of Lake Merritt, in Oakland.
It was at the "housewarming" she met Boyle Blair, the young Englishman who had just been appointed to a consulship in South Africa.
She married him.
Mrs. Boyle Blair returned from South Africa in widow's weeds. With her were her two sons. Rumors as elusive as the breeze blown thistledown came from far-away South Africa.
The rumors described Mrs. Blair's conduct as erratic, her temper as ungovernable, her tastes those of a woman of pleasure.
When these rumors reached her ears Mrs. Blair only laughed. She was still "like nobody but herself." She did exactly as she liked.
They were a few months in the mansion by Lake Merritt. Then the family went to Europe. In England Mrs. Blair, the old Leilah Kirkham still, married the Hon. Walter Yarde-Buller. He was the brother of Lord Churston, of Churston Court. The Yarde-Buller's were an old Devonshire family with a fine estate surrounding Lupton House, in that county.
The Hon. Yarde-Buller said he loved the beautiful American heiress. He settled 32,000gs upon her at their marriage. Yet she avers that as they were driving through the streets of London a half hour after the wedding he struck her in the face because she had not brought with her enough money for their traveling expenses.
She says she hid this and other indignities.
It pleased her to shine for a time in British society. In this she easily succeeded. The year after her marriage she was presented at the Queen's Drawing Room, and English papers proclaimed that she was the most beautiful American seen at that notable function. She became a member of the Prince of Wales's set. For several London seasons she was voted the most beautiful woman of that set.
Her girlhood charms had developed into the riper, more exquisite attractions of a beautiful maturity. She was tall, and her lissome grace had given way to a half Spanish, languorous dignity. Her eyes had all of their old fire veiled by a newer tenderness. Her hair, coiled in the fashion of a coronet, was the burnished crown of a very queen of beauty. She still delighted in erratic manifestations of her desire to be herself and "like no one else."
She was guilty of little breaches of decorum, at which British society frowned and elevated its monocle, but straightened its brow quickly when the Hon. Mrs. Yarde- Buller was looking. She had a keen tongue and a merry laugh, and British society, not over brilliant at best, feared both.
She dressed with the taste of a French woman, coquetted with the inimitable grace of the Spanish woman, had the vivacity and self-possession of the American, and was in no wise like her English sisters.
Mrs. Yarde-Buller was a success.
London was surprised when Hon. Walter Yarde-Buller brought suit for divorce. San Francisco affected to be equally surprised, but those who remembered the vagaries of the Leilah Kirkham of 10 years before merely lifted their eyebrows.
Valentine Gadsden was named in Mr. Yarde-Buller' a complaint. He alleged that Mrs. Yarde-Buller had been overheard addressing Mr. Gadsden as "Dear Val." This Mrs. Yarde-Buller denied. She said that during a temporary estrangement from her husband she had employed Mr. Gadsden as her business agent.
Valentine Gadsden was an Englishman, who was little known in England, very much known in San Francisco. He fraternized with the Bohemian Club of the Paris of the West. He was young, handsome, of pleasing address, and it was he who introduced the costermonger songs among gentlemanly American roisterers.
One day Mrs. Yarde-Buller was missing from her father's home, where she and her lord had been visiting. Simultaneously Mr. Gadsden disappeared. Society talked about an elopement. The pair said that by the merest chance they had left San Francisco on the same train and New York on the same steamer.
Mrs. Yarde-Buller filed counter charges of cruelty and infidelity against her husband. The court granted her an absolute divorce, and the custody of her children.
While the divorce proceedings were going on General Kirkham died. Mrs. Yarde-Buller said her husband's cruelty to her had broken her father's heart.
Soon after the granting of the divorce Valentine Gadsden died. The physicians said he died of heart failure. It was whispered that Mr. Yarde-Buller had given him a mortal wound in a duel.
However that may be Mrs. Yarde-Buller caused to be sent out by the Associated Press this message: —
"Tell all the world that Valentine Gadsden is dead."
She came to America shortly afterwards. To the newspapers she gave out the statement: "Valentine Gadsden is dead. There is nothing left in life for me."
It was noticed then that to the youthful fire in her brown eyes was added a new and uncanny light.
It was then that she became noted as a litigant on both sides of the Atlantic.
She brought suit against Baron Tweedmouth for the payment of certain sums of money which she alleged the peer had covenanted to pay her for the "protection of the realm." The suit was dismissed. Then it was that the English papers were emboldened to say that the American heiress was crazy.
She brought suit repeatedly to recover what she claimed was her rightful share of her father's estate after her $1,000,000 dollars had been received.
She sued American and English newspapers for libel, and recovered nothing.
One evening she was found rambling aimlessly about Oakland. There was a dazed, strange look in her eyes.
"Come with me and I will show you a paper which Lord Salisbury has given me for my protection," she said to the officers who had found her. She raved about having saved the Czar from assassination by throwing her mantle about him. She said she was about to establish a European salon that should discount those of history. She screamed that she was to be queen of all the counselors of kings. She babbled that she was unlike everyone else. Yet the charge of insanity was dismissed. People whispered of morphine.
Mrs. Yarde-Buller — "Lady" Yarde-Buller, as she will always be known to her California friends — went to Paris a few weeks ago. Now comes the well-authenticated news that she is confined in a Paris madhouse, where the law requires that she shall remain in confinement for two years.
Stimulants and a stormy career have so undermined her constitution that Mrs. Yarde-Buller is said to be a pitiable wraith of her once beautiful self.
In the madhouse they say she murmurs a hundred times a day: "Valentine Gadsden is dead. Tell it to all the world, and say that this is the end of life for me."
In all human probability Mrs. Yarde- Buller will end her strange, stormy life in a madhouse.
The moral of it all is in her mad murmurings in the Parisian asylum — "I want to be like myself, only myself. The people who do what others do, just because they do so, are stupid. I want to do just as I like, mamma; always just as I like." — New York Journal.

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1849 - 1904

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  • Created by: alfred janske
  • Added: 10 Apr 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 68191651
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lady Mary Leilah Kirkham Yarde-Buller (1849–15 Nov 1904), Find a Grave Memorial no. 68191651, citing Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda County, California, USA ; Maintained by alfred janske (contributor 47432838) .