Category Archives: Stevens

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

1868 Indigenous cricket tour to England

On 10 April 2018, Cricket Australia announced the men’s and women’s teams that will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1868 tour to England by an indigenous team from Australia – the first ever overseas sporting tour by Australians. Ashleigh Gardner will captain the women’s team and Dan Christian the men’s.

This news prompted me to write this short blog and finalise an article on my Stevens ancestors of Witham, Essex, and their involvement in cricket, because this involvement included organising and playing in one of the matches against that touring indigenous team in September 1868.

My great-grand-uncle, Charles Richard Stevens (1851-1910) helped organise the match between the tourists and the ‘gentlemen’ of the Witham Cricket Club. He also played in the match. He only scored 4 and 6 as the tourists went on to win by an innings and 43 runs.

Judging by the members of the two teams soon to go to England, the current gentlemen of the Witham Cricket Club would seem unlikely to do as well against the tourists as their predecessors did in 1868.

The field on which they played still exists and cricket is still played on it as my photograph, taken in August 2016, attests. But it will not feature in this year’s tour.

My overview of the 1868 match and the involvement of the Stevens family in cricket in Witham can be found HERE.

©Alun Stevens 2018

Trip to Witham

My great grandfather was Richard Walford Stevens. His parents were Richard Stevens and Eliza Ann Malyon. Richard practised as a solicitor in Witham, a small town in Essex, as well as in London. He was initially articled to Edward Banks in Witham and lived with him at his residence in Newland Street. Once qualified, he became Edward Banks’s partner and eventually took over the practice and the residence.

Eliza Ann grew up in Witham and was, at one stage, a servant to Edward Banks and his clerk, Richard Stevens, whom she eventually married. Their family arrangements were interesting in that Eliza Ann and the children lived in London while Richard continued to live and practice with Edward Banks in Witham.

Richard Walford was born in London in 1859, the youngest of their eight children. His mother died soon afterwards and he and his siblings moved to Witham. The 1861 census shows them living in Newland Street with their father, an uncle, a cousin and four servants. The residence was therefore reasonably substantial.

In August 2016, Megan and I went to Witham to trace the family home and any other information we could find on the family. Janet Gyford, a local historian, very kindly showed us around and provided us with a lot of local knowledge.

We found the old residence. It was indeed a substantial building and still is. It is located at 100 Newland Street and, at the time the Stevens family lived there, was called Batsford. It is now a Wetherspoon public house.

This means that the building has had a number of additions and alterations, but much of the original building remains and it retains its character.  The advantage of it being a pub is that we could just wander around and look at the building. We were also able to have dinner in the front room – probably close to where the family had had their dinners back in the mid to late 19th century. It was quite atmospheric.

I took a number of photographs and Janet Gyford provided a lot of historic detail about the house which can be found HERE.


©Alun Stevens 2018