Monthly Archives: June 2018

Partridge and Walford

Banner is Cornelius Walford; Witham House; and grandfather Arthur Partridge Stevens’ serviette ring.

My grandfather’s name was Arthur Partridge Stevens and my great-grandfather’s name was Richard Walford Stevens. Why Partridge and Walford?

It seems likely that the second name, Walford, was derived from Cornelius Walford who was Richard Walford’s uncle and married to his mother’s sister at the time of his birth. A not uncommon naming practice at the time was to give a child its godparents’ surname as a second or third name. The likelihood, therefore, was that Cornelius (2 April 1827 – 28 September 1885) and Jane (neé Malyon; 1827 – 1 January 1863) Walford were Richard Walford’s godparents.

Cornelius was a very interesting person. He was clearly talented with a wide range of interests and aptitudes. He was involved with building societies and insurance in Witham and had an abiding interest in shorthand. He went on to become a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries (as I did 120 years later) with a significant career in insurance, including managing some significant companies of the day. He was also a Fellow of the Statistical Society, a Fellow of the Historical Society and a barrister. He published work for both Societies and the Institute including a year book on insurance.

It seems almost certain that Richard Walford named his son Arthur Partridge after his next eldest brother of the same names. Arthur Partidge died at the age of 22 in September 1878 on a steamer between Melbourne and New Guinea, at about the same time that Richard Walford arrived in South Africa. The question, therefore, is why Richard and Eliza Stevens named their third son Arthur Partridge at about the same time as Cornelius and Jane Walford named their first son Richard Partridge?

The likely source of the name is Robert Partridge who was a real estate and land agent of prominence in Witham. He and his wife occupied Witham House (57 Newland Street), a grand house with extensive land including a cricket pitch. He acquired the house from the Pattisson family who had built it in about 1750. Jacob Pattisson was a prominent merchant and well respected, but his great-grandson, also Jacob, was not of the same calibre. He was a solicitor and was, in 1852, publicly accused by Cornelius Walford of inappropriate dealings with the funds of the Witham Building Society. He survived this accusation, but in 1859 went bankrupt and fled Witham and Robert Partridge acquired Witham House.

Witham House is not far from Batsford (100 Newland Street, the Stevens family home) so it is probable that there was interaction between the families. The Partridge children were of similar ages to the Stevens children and later history shows a fairly close connection between the Stevens and Partridge boys involving cricket.

The likelihood, therefore, is that Robert and Jane Partridge were the godparents to Arthur Partridge.

©Alun Stevens 2018

The Drake Crimean Letters

My MA thesis was largely based on original letters written by William Henry Drake and his wife, Louisa, during the Crimean War. I also used a transcript of the Journal Drake kept during his time in the Crimea and after.

I have always felt that these letters should be made available to those who study the history of the Crimean War and to family historians interested in the Drake family. They provide a unique perspective on the conduct of the war from the viewpoint of a Commissariat officer, and also of the family interactions of that officer and the perspectives of his wife and daughter who joined him in the theatre of war.

I had toyed with the idea of trying to find a publisher, but wondered why any publisher would wish to publish such a large collection of letters, the subject matter of which has such a small audience, especially in this era of ebooks. That is why, having done all this work, I am thrilled to say that the Crimean War Research Society has agreed to publish them.

In transcribing the letters, I investigated all the places, events and especially people mentioned and have annotated the letters accordingly. I have also included ancillary documents, such as newspaper articles surrounding some of the events that occurred, as well as the evidence that Drake gave before the McNeill/Tulloch commission, and the Strathnairn committee of enquiry. These, I feel, provide context for the letters and will assist readers interpret and appreciate them.

The letters can be found here.

My thanks to web master Tom Muir for uploading the letters to the Crimean War Research Society web site.

©Megan Stevens 2018