Family History Notebook

Mary Beatrix Nunns (Bulstrode)

Daughter of Reverend Robert Augustine Luke Nunns and Eliza Phillipa Hall born in 1869, baptised on the 8th of August 1869 in Appledram (or Apuldram) in Sussex

Herbert Timbrell BulstrodeMarried Herbert Timbrell Bustrode (1858 - 1911) in 18914

No known children

Married Edward Manico Gull c1914/19151

No known children

? Died at the age of 82 in Surrey7

Best known as 'Beatrix Bulstrode' for her account of a tour in Mongolia in 1913, Mary was the third of ten surviving children of the Reverend Robert Nunns and was brought up in Sussex at Appledram (also known as Apuldrum) and then near Ipswich in Suffolk. At 21 she married Herbert Bulstrode, the stepson of her aunt, who was an Assistant Medical Officer in London (1891 census) and later became a Government Health Inspector. They lived in a block of flats in Kensington, London in 1901.

After her husband's death in 1911, she undertook two trips into Mongolia, the first from Pekin in April and May 1913 and the second from Verkne-Oudinsk on Lake Baikal in July of the same year. The second trip was in the company of Edward Manico Gull whom she was later to marry, but on the first trip she had no European companion. These two trips were the subject of her book "A Tour in Mongolia", published in 1920.


In her book Mary mentions that she had been "travelling in foreign parts for 15 years" prior to her Mongolian trips . She was a Council Member of the Society of Woman Journalists both before and after her Mongolian trips so there are no doubt other writings to be discovered.


0    I assumed that Beatrix was a widow when she undertook her 'tours' into Mongolia reported in her book.(see note 2). She does not appear as Beatrix Bulstrode in the 1901 survey. However she is 'Mrs' Bulstrode in note 2 and in the introduction to her book.  She notes in her book that she had been travelling in foreign parts for 15 years - i.e. prior to 1901 - and therefore might not have been in England in 1901.  Information from Ray Howgego led me to discover the details of her birth and previous marriage.

1    On March 10th 1914 Mrs Bulstrode read a paper entitled 'A Tour in Mongolia' to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Among the papers of George Ernest Morrison in the Mitchell Library, Sydney,
there is a letter signed Beatrix Manico Gull and dated September 1915. So she must have married between March 1914 and September 1915.

2    In 1920 Methuen published "A Tour in Mongolia" by 'Beatrix Bulstrode (Mrs Edward Manico Gull)'. The introduction says that the book was sent to the publishers just before the outbreak of the first world war and consequently was not published till 1920.

2a  Headline from Milwaukee Sentinel - May 24 1914From 'The Milwaukee Journal' May 24, 1914
By Hayden Church
Copyright 1914 Curtis Brown

LONDON, May 23 - Special cable

It is getting so that one is no longer surprised at hearing that an American or European Woman either is setting out alone for, or just returning alone from, some wild uncivilised and little known region of the globe in which no traveler's life is safe. Since a Yankee woman in the person of Mrs. French Sheldon set the example by adventuring through central Africa the name of the fair ones who have followed her example has become legion and the list is being increased every day.
     It seems only yesterday, in fact, that the newspapers were full of the adventures of Mrs. Marguerite Robey, another darling daughter of the stars and stripes, who played the part of a "medicine woman" in the heart of the Congo and averted war between two powerful and savage tribes by arbitrating twixt their respective chiefs, and those of Beatrice Grimshaw, among the cannibals, sharks and reptiles of Papua.

To Cross Desert

Since then we have had the Experiences of Mrs. Amaury Talbot among the expert poisoners and torturers of the African district of which her husband is district commissioner, and seen the beautiful Countess Moliter setting off, almost blithely, in an attempt to cross the great desert of Arabia, where no European is known to have set foot and where almost certain death awaits the explorer.
     Worthy in every respect to be classed with the intrepid women mentioned is the latest femininetraveler in wild places, Mrs. Beatrix Bulstrode, an Englishwoman, who has just returned to this country after wanderings that have lasted almost two years in the least known, and, to a foreigner, most dangerous corners of the Chinese empire and through Mongolian wastes where rarely a white woman has been seen before, and where extinction in a variety of forms has to be taken into account by the traveller.

Makes Strange Discoveries

     Her adventures there include the discovery of what must be the most terrible form of punishment in the world and some of the queerest religious rites in existence, wanderings in regions infested with brigands of the 2White Wolf" breed and over seas swarming with pirates, and long and lonely journeyings through a land where civil war was raging and over ground that had recently been strewn with headless corpses.

Beatrix Bulstrode newspaper picture 1914Tall, fair and extremely good looking with masses of brown hair, intelligent eyes with determination in them and a bearing that suggests great placidity balanced by a keen sense of good humour, Mrs. Bulstrode considerably surprised her interviewer by decaling that, far from being an experienced globe trotter before she started to wander fare from the beaten track in China, she has, apart from some months in Canada and an intimate acquaintance with nearer Europe, traveled no further east from her native land than Genoa, the birthplace of another traveler not wholly unknown to fame - one Christopher Columbus.
     Later, on a 30 year old ocean tramp whose captain frankly owned it unseaworthy, the Englishwoman sailed once more, bound this time for the mouth of the Yangste-Kiang, and soon became aware that the possibility of their being robbed and perhaps murdered by pirates apparently was causing its skipper keen anxiety. Such a proceeding, on this route it seems, generally begins with a mutiny on the part of the native crew, when the vessel is captured and hove to, when adherents of the mutineers appear as if by magic in native craft, and strip ship and passengers of all their valuables the voyagers being uncommonly lucky if they escape with their lives.

Traveled Up Great River

     This time no such such attack occurred, however, and a few days afterward Mrs. Bulstrode was off on her 1,200 mile voyage up the great river of China, first in her "sampan" with a crew of native caramen, and then in a British Steamer officered by worthies who irresistibly suggested Cutliffe Hyne's famous Kettle and McTodd, and on which she spent her first Christmas in China in a fashion which doubtless will make an entertaining chapter in the chronicle of her adventures which Mrs. Bulstrode now proposes to write. Thus she penetrated west to sixt mles above Ichang, and then returning to Hangkow, made her way north to the capital, and eventually set out from Peking for southern Mongolia, travelling in a Peking cart and accompanied by two coolies. Mrs. Bulstrode had picked up only a smattering of Chinese, and so during the whole of her wanderings among the Mongols the little party had to depend mainly on the sign language.

Says Mongols Are Filthy

     It was in Mongolia that her queerest adventures befell the traveler. Perhaps the most vivid impression of the inhabitants of Mongolia which she brought away was their invariably filthy condition, for the Mongols, it seems, do not wash from one year's end to another. Quite possibly you wouldn't either if you held a similar belief to theirs, for the Mongols, according to Mrs. Bulstrode, are firmly convinced that if they make too lavish a use of water in this incarnation they will be fishes in the next, so they naturally take no chances.

Mistaken for Man

     All during her travels in Mongolia, Mrs. Bulstrode wore riding breeches and a long coat and rode astride, and this led to her being almost invariably mistaken for a man, a thing probably all to the good as far as her safety was concerned and that now and then had amusing results. Being a remarkably good looking woman, she naturally made an uncommonly personable man, and more than once she got the Mongolian variety of the "glad eye." At one point, too, she made quite a complete conquest, a quiet attractive Mongol girl, who belonged t a ama, falloing an instant victim to her "masculine charms," and insisting on carrying on an ardent flirtation. Referring to her attire, Mrs. Bulstrode remarked 'You trust your luck pretty much in Mongolia. You dont't do any undressing. You put on your big fur coat, clip a revolver under the pillow and go to sleep.'



macht sich Miss Beatrix Bulstrode von Peking aus auf den Weg, um die Wüste Gobi Richtung Urga zu durchqueren. Eine heikle Angelegenheit, denn China liegt mit der Mongolei im Krieg und umherziehende Banditenbanden machen das Land unsicher. Nachdem sie zwei Wochen in Ta-Bol, am Rand der Wüste festsitzt, muß die couragierte Engländerin ihren Plan aufgeben. Nach Peking zurückgekehrt trifft sie Mr. Edward Manico Gull, Angestellter im chinesischen Seezolldienst, "who, like myself, undeterred by the question of risks, was keenly desirous of crossing the Gobi and of visiting Urga." Man beschließt, Urga von Norden her zu erreichen und umfährt die Mongolei über Mukden und Harbin mit der Eisenbahn. Von der sibirischen Grenzstadt Kiachta aus erreichen beide schließlich mit dem Pferdewagen die Hauptstadt der Mongolei. Und noch mehr: Ihren Reisebericht publiziert die Autorin bereits unter Mrs. Edward Manico Gull.

Book Description: 8vo Methuen & Company ., 1920. 1st edition. Frontispiece, 27 plates of 48 photographs, map on endpapers. Blue cloth, rubbed, spotted and slightly shaky. xix+327pp. An excellent account of Mongolia at a critical time in its history by a determined lady traveller. With the Chinese fighting the Mongols she was denied a passport from Peking but went off by herself anyway into Mongolia. Later she reached Urga by way of Siberia with her companion, a Mr Gull 'a fire-eater in the pursuit of political developments'. And, reader, she married him.

The book is very readable and one must admire Beatrix's intrepid journeys.

4    The marriage of Mary Beatrix Nunns and Herbert Timbrell Bulstrode was registered in the district of Samford, Suffolk in the last quarter of 1891 (FreeBMD 4a 1617). Twelve years older than Mary, Herbert Trimbell Bulstrode was a doctor and became a Goverment Health Inspector. Known for his work on Tuberculosis and an investigation of an outbreak of typhoid fever after an oysters meal in Chichester, he also prepared a condemnatory report on health and sanitation in Whitehaven.

The death of Herbert T. Bulstrode at the age of 52 was registered in Kensington in the third quarter of 1911 (FreeBMD 1a 120)

I had thought that Beatrix was most likely to have married after the 1901 census (where she does not appear as Beatrix Bulstrode) and to have been widowed before 1913. This would have explained her independence. She certainly married Edward before 1920.  I was surprised to find she had married as early as 1891.

5    The re-election of 'Mrs Timbrell-Bulstrode, home from her travels in China' to the Council of the Society of Women Journalists was noted in the British Journal of Nursing on November 29, 1913. (

6    Staying with her aunt Elizabeth and uncle George Bulstrode at St Mary Stoke, Suffolk in 1881. She was to marry Herbert Timbrell Bulstrode, her uncle's son by his first marriage, later that year. George Bulstrode married Mary Timbrell Pierce in St Pancras, London in the last quarter of 1855 (FreeBMD 1b 177) and later Elizabeth Nunns at Ely in the 3rd quarter of 1876 (FreeBMD 3b 887).

7    The death of a Mary B. Gull aged 82 was registered in the fourth quarter of 1951 in the south western district of Surrey (5g 799).

8    A Beatrix M. Gull landed at San Francisco at some undisclosed (by Ancestry) date

9    Living with Edward in Lancaster Gate, Paddington in 1936 (Electoral REgisters) also 1939