Emma Datlen was born in Dover in 1843 the seventh of ten children of Robert and Mary Datlen. [possibly eighth of 13 children as reported by Andy Datlen]. She was baptised in St. Mary the Virgin Church, on 27th October 1843.
We are told that "Emma, a teacher, went to Paris in her early youth following a broken romance." Why Paris in particular is not clear, maybe she had relatives or friends living there. It is then said that "she entered the service of the Grand Duke Paul of Russia and was Governess-Tutor to his children." Again, there is no mention as to how this came about but by this time Emma must be in her fifties.
Now would be a good time to learn more about the life of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovitch Romanov so that we can see how Emma may have had the opportunity to work as Governess to his children and what life would be like in the Royal household at this time. I have written an account of Grand Duke Paul’s life which you can read by clicking your mouse here.
I am unable to find Emma in the UK censuses after 1881, which supports the supposition that she was working abroard during these years. A census was taken every five years in France and it would be well worth consulting the Paris censuses in particular the censuses of 1901 and 1906 for the Boulogne-sur-Seine area where we know that Grand Duke Paul was living in exile at the time.
Incidentally, the 1881 UK census shows that Emma’s sister Caroline Datlen was Living in Streatham, Surrey and employed as a Governess there. The earlier Paris censuses may answer the question as to where Emma was employed prior to her entering the Grand Duke’s service. She must have served at least twenty years service before Grand Duke Paul arrived in Paris.
VLADIMIR PAVLOVICH PALEI
It is most likely that Emma Datlen became Governess-Tutor to the children by Paul’s second marriage and not those from Paul's first marriage. "Emma was with Prince Paul who was married with a young son. The eldest son was one of the two who shot Rasputin." This eldest son would have been Dmitry Pavlovich from Paul's first marriage who did conspire along with Prince Felix Yusupov to murder Rasputin, and the young boy she was with would be Vladimir Romanov.
Vladimir was born in 1897 in Paris. His two sisters Irina and Natalia were born in 1903 and 1905 respectively Their mother Princess Paley wrote a book, “Memories of Russia 1916-1919”, in which she names her daughter’s English Governess as Miss White. So, we are left with the possibility that Emma was Governess to Vladimir.
During his exile Paul would often return to Russia. Emma may have travelled with him and in years to come "would talk of the days it would take her to go back overland on the Trans Siberian Railway". Grand Duke Paul and his family were eventually allowed to return to Russia and in 1914 they moved into a house at Tsasrkoe-Selo.
Was Emma still with the family during the 1917 revolution? Vladimir would be 21, Irina 14 and Natalia 12. The evidence suggests that she was and that they were living in Russia. "The estates were overrun by Bolsheviks in the October 1917 revolution" . "She was lucky to get out, maybe made her way up through Finland." What concerns me here is that although Irina and Natalia may still be young enough that their Governess, Miss White was still in attendance, surely Vladimir was in no need of a Governess at this time and even less so when we know he was actively serving in the military.
RETURN TO ENGLAND
We are told that Emma, now an old lady (aged 78), "had wondered around Europe until she eventually landed at Newcastle by a steamer". "Her sufferings impaired her mind, but she could say she was of Dover" and the police brought her to Robert Elgar (her brother's) house in Limekiln Street, and unable to take care of her due to her mental state went to St. Augustine's hospital and died there in 1921".
"Years before when she came on holiday to Dover, she was remembered for the flowing black silk gowns she wore". "and told stories of life in St Petersburgh in palace of 300 servants, the huge Siberian estates of the family and her travels on the great Trans-Siberian Railway". Her final story would be of her poverty and sufferings during the revolution, of her tiresome journey across Europe and her voyage aboard the steamer that brought her back to England and to her home in Dover.