The Drake Family Bible Etc.

In our last post we indicated that we had been contacted by an antique dealer who had come into possession of a a collection of Drake family memorabilia including the Drake Family Bible. We bought the collection and it has now arrived.

We are slowly working through the material – collating, organising, photographing and scanning. There is quite a lot of stuff so this will take some time to complete. We have started with some of William Henry Drake’s awards and the family Bible.

The Bible is a lovely old leather bound book printed in 1747 in Oxford. A King James Bible in old English script and still in very good condition. The pages are still white and the leather is still smooth and flexible.

The fore and aft pages have been used to record births, deaths and marriages from 1743 through to the early 20th century mainly related to the families of the eldest sons of each generation. The fore pages are not in as good a condition as the rest of the book as they have become detached and worn where they have stuck out from under the cover. Nonetheless, they are legible and present some interesting genealogical information for those interested in the Drakes.

I have photographed and transcribed all of the fore and aft pages and have put them together here. Have a look and let us know what you think.


I have also photographed the “Warrant granting to Deputy Commissary General William Henry Drake the dignity rank and privileges belonging or appertaining to … Companions of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath.” Another interesting document. In flowing Victorian prose and prominently signed by Victoria herself (naturally), and also by Albert. Rather than create a new web page to display the document, I have added it to the existing page that discusses the award when Henry was in the Crimea. The award can be seen on the updated page here. If you click on the images, they will expand to full size.


©Alun Stevens 2018

Drake Collection

We having been watching the traffic to Down Rabbit Holes with some interest. Visitors from all over the world following up on our blogs and also now finding us via online searches and the links on the Crimean War Research Society web site. Visitors as expected from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States, but also from France, Greece, China, India and Canada amongst others.

On Tuesday we had an interesting visitor. Instead of just reading our material, he also contacted us to tell us that he had a collection of Drake family documents from a deceased estate and was looking for a home for them. The collection includes:

  • The Drake family Bible dating from 1747 with records of births and some deaths
  • The warrant from Queen Victoria granting William Henry Drake the rank of Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath
  • Photographs
  • Family letters
  • Many other things.

This was all too tempting so we have bought the collection and will know its full extent when it arrives in the near future. From what we have seen, there will be some interesting new information to add to the family story which we will publish in due course.

It is good to see the web site helping uncover these hidden collections because without it we would not have been visible on Google.

As we say on the Home page, family history is like exploring rabbit warrens.

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

More enjoyable times

On 21 February 1856, Henry was informed that he had been appointed a Companion of the Bath. He was justly proud of the award and in writing to his parents said, “I shall want a bit of ribbon, C.B. colour to put on my coat. So you see with my Red Ribbon, my Chevalier Cross and Medal & three Clasps, I shall make an imposing appearance!”

Louisa sewed “Henry’s Red Ribbon on his Coat” and wrote to Henry’s parents that she “thought it looked very well and I am not a little proud of it.”

The war was coming to an end and the Drake’s enjoyed entertainment, theatre and the Grand Races on the Tchernaya River which was a great festival reportedly attended by some 100,000 people.

Peace came with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on 30 March 1856, but news only reached the Crimea on 2nd of April. Nonetheless, the Drakes attended the Great Ball on board the Bruiser on 31 March with Henry reported in the Illustrated London News as proposing the toast to the Captain and his wife.

More celebrations followed including an “excellent dinner” on board the Ottawa. The only sour note was that that night the Drakes’ stable burnt down singing Louisa’s horse, Jack.

The Drakes then went home via Kertch, but not before Louisa had “mustered Courage … to call on Miss Nightingale” who she regarded as “one of the Lions of the present day.” They stopped off in Constantinople, where Henry had some duties to attend to, and visited the tourist attractions. They eventually left on 21 July and arrived in London in early August and took up residence at 21 Regents Park Terrace where neighbours were to play a part in introducing their younger daughter Charlotte Augusta Dring to her future husband, Charles Henry Marshall.

The detailed description of these events can be found HERE

©Megan Stevens 2018

Balaklava, Kertch and the spoils of war

The first letter Henry wrote to Louisa following his arrival in Balaklava contains the sketch in the banner showing the layout of the town and its harbour. The painting below it by William Simpson provides a better view of what Balaklava was like.

Henry’s letters and Journal at this time contain interesting descriptions of his domestic arrangements. He talks of his accommodation, his furnishings and his servants.

He mentions ongoing contact with William Howard Russell of the Times.

He also starts raising with Louisa the possibility of her coming out to the Crimea while leaving the younger girls in England to continue their education.

On 14 November 1854 he writes to Louisa to describe “One of the most miserable & wretched days.” This was the hurricane that destroyed and damaged many ships in and near Balaklava harbour and caused the loss of significant amounts of food, clothing and equipment just at the beginning of winter.

Henry worked and waited through the winter and in April 1855 heard that Louisa and their daughter Louisa Maria would leave Southampton at the end of the month. They arrived on 18 May, just in time to accompany Henry on the expedition to capture Kertch along with William Howard Russell and William Simpson.

The upper centre image in the banner is Simpson’s depiction of the burning of Kertch. The image below it, also by Simpson, shows the battleship HMS Agamemnon and the steamer Hope passing by Prince Woronzoff’s Palace near Yalta on the return voyage. The Drakes were onboard the Hope so would have enjoyed this view.

Not long after they returned, the British Commanding Officer, Lord Raglan, died. Henry was called on to provide lead for the coffin so that Raglan’s body could be returned to England. Louisa and Louisa Maria went to view the funeral procession which is depicted in the lithograph by William Simpson.

The cannon stands outside Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire and was one of those captured by the Allies and distributed by the Commission Mixte of which Henry was a member.

The new sections I have added are:

Balaklava and the Crimean Peninsular

Kertch

Death of Raglan and the spoils of war


©Megan Stevens 2018

More on William Henry Drake

Here is the next instalment in my updates to the information on William Henry Drake and his family.

My last blog provided links to a short summary of his life and information on his early life including his posting to the Swan River Colony (Perth, Western Australia).

The Drakes were transferred from Perth to Hobart, Tasmania, where they stayed for two years. Henry was then posted to St John, New Brunswick, Canada, but had the opportunity to spend some time in England on the way which allowed his family to meet his parents.

He was also not in Canada for long and was transferred back to London, but did not spend any time there as the Crimean War began while he was in transit and he was rerouted.

He travelled to the Crimea via Greece (Piræus) and Bulgaria (Varna). He met a number of historic figures along the way and even banqueted at the Acropolis.

The updates can be found here:

Hobart

London and New Brunswick

Crimea

I have also added some navigation links so that you can move backwards and forwards through the various articles.


©Megan Stevens 2018

Updating William Henry Drake’s information

My thesis contains a lot of information about William Henry Drake and his family, but there was a lot of information that didn’t make it into my thesis because of the tight requirements for the word count of theses. Since completing my thesis, I have also found a lot more information about their lives. My aim is to make this information available here.

I am, therefore, writing a series of blogs on various aspects of the family and will be publishing them as they are completed. I have started with three articles.

The first is a short summary of Henry’s life which provides a framework for the other articles.

The second covers the movements of Henry’s family following his birth in Portugal until, as a young man, he went to the Swan River Colony (Perth, Western Australia).

The third looks at his time in WA including his marriage and the birth of his children.

Other blogs will follow in due course.


©Megan Stevens 2018

Another Glengallan painting

Since posting the Conrad Martens sketches and Henry Grant Lloyd watercolours, we have received permission to publish another painting of Glengallan from the mid 19th century.

This painting, titled Glengallan. Darling Downs. 23 June 1858, was painted by Charlotte Augusta Dring Marshall and presents a slightly elevated view of the farmstead in quite vivid colours.

The painting is owned by a family member in New Zealand who is happy for the painting to be published here. Please check copyright conditions.

The painting has been included with the Martens and Lloyd pictures and can be seen HERE.


©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

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