Hilda Wauton was born in London in December 1880, the daughter of Edward Brenton Wauton, a master at Uppingham School, Rutland and his wife, Elizabeth Anne Drewitt. At the age of nineteen in September 1900 she married Carl Leyel in St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. Carl, a young Nobleman of Swedish descent, was at the time secretary to Frank Benson and Hilda was a young actress in the Benson troupe. Their two sons Salvin and Christopher were born in 1902 and 1906 respectively.
Hilda Leyel devoted her time to organizing fancy-dress balls during World War I in aid of British servicemen. She had been a member (in 1911 the hon. Treasurer) of the Actresses Franchise League, an organization founded in 1908. The AFL was open to anyone involved in the theatrical profession and its aim was to work for women's enfranchisement by educational methods, selling suffrage literature and staging propaganda plays. The AFL neither supported nor condemned militancy. Membership of the AFL reached 550 in 1911 and by 1914 stood at 900. On the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 the AFL launched the Women's Theatre Camps Entertainments, which travelled round camps and hospitals. On 13th March 1918 the AFL took part in the victory parade organized by the National Union of Womens Suffrage Societies.
In 1920 Hilda Leyel was vice-chairman and organizer of the the Golden Ballot which raised over a quarter of a million pounds for ex-servicemen and various hospitals. Chairman of the Golden Ballot in 1920 was Major-General Sir Geoffrey Feilding who had served with distinction in the second Boer War and commanded a division of the Coldstream Guards in WW I. Joint treasurers were Robert Feilding, Earl of Denbigh and Desmond (ADC to King George V) and Sir William Tyrrell, then an assistant Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office. Despite the philanthropic activities to which the money was put, Hilda was prosecuted under the Betting and Lottery Acts. However she won the case, and in 1922 organised a New Golden Ballot. Summonses were issued at the outset by the Director of Public Prosecutions under the Lottery Act of 1823 and the Betting Act of 1853, but the defendants elected to be tried by Jury upon the latter charge. The outcome was that the holding of future ballots in order to raise money for charitable purposes was legalized in Great Britain.
Recently I discovered two British Pathe newsreel silent films that can be viewed from the internet. The first was made in 1920 and is entitled "THE LUCKY ONES. Mrs. C. F. Leyel - organiser - acts 'the Fairy Godmother' to the fortunate winners of the big prizes in the Golden Ballot." The typical winners cheques were for £2,500., a considerable sum for those days. See:
The second, entitled "A MODERN FAIRY GODMOTHER - Mrs. Carl Leyel presents the lucky ones of the Golden Ballot with their prizes.", was made in 1922. The gentleman following Hilda out of the taxi is most definitely NOT Carl Leyel possibly he is the treasurer Sir William Tyrrell. See: