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Notable Individuals

This section includes the names of some of the more notable individuals in my family history. Notice that they are all from my wife's side of the family.... no notables on my side yet... but I'm not bitter!

On this page:

Victoria Cross Recipients:

Notable Individuals:

Notable Individuals

Portrait of Samuel Witterwronge Clayton

Samuel Wittewronge Clayton (1734 - 1795)

Relationship: Wife's 5th great grandfather

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Born in 1734 in Barbados, the second son of Samuel Calyton and Thomasine Wittewronge. He married Mary Walker daughter of Richard Walker on 21 May 1765 at St Saviours', Southwark. Died October 1795 and is buried in the family vault at St Giles Church, Camberwell.

He joined the Royal Navy at a young age, he was commanding officer of the Falkland islands until 22 May 1774, when he returned to England aboard the "Endeavour". As Commander he saw action in 1776 commanding the sloop "Otter" (10 guns) during the American war of Independence.

He was commissioned Captain on 23rd April 1778 and in 1780 he was Captain of HMS Victory.

Portrait of Gilbert Falkingham Clayton

Sir Gilbert Falkingham Clayton CMG CB KBE KCMG (1875 - 1929)

Relationship: Wife's great grandfather

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Born 6th April 1875 at Ryde, Isle of Wight. On 18th September 1912 he married Enid Caroline Thorowgood daughter of Frank Napier Thorowgood and Elizabeth Montgomery Hunter-Blair at St Peters, Cranley Gardens, London, the ceremony being performed by the Bishop of Khartoum.

He received his commission in the Royal Artillery in 1895, he served under Kitchener in the Sudan, seeing action in the battles of Atbara and Khartum, by 1900 he was in the employ of the Egyptian Army. in 1910 whilst still a Captain he retired and transferred to Sudan Government service becoming private secretary to the Governor-General of Sudan.

During the first world war he was appointed Director of Intelligence, with the rank of Brigadier-General, and had much to do with the Arab uprising against the Turks. Later he was appointed first Chief Administrator of Palestine. From 1922 to 1925 he was Civil Secretary to the Palestine Government and from 1925 to 1927 envoy to the Sultan Ibd Sa'ud of Nejd, where he negotiated the Bahra and Hadda Agreements and the treaty of Jeddah.

He was appointed High Commissioner to Iraq in 1928 where he died in service in 1929 of a sudden heart attack.

James De Carle Sowerby

James De Carle Sowerby (1787 - 1871)

Relationship: Wife's First Cousin 6x removed

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He was born 5th June 1787 in Newington Butts, Surrey, son of James Sowerby and Ann De Carle. On 25th September 1813 he married Mary Anne Edwards and together they had nine children.

He was an engraver and artist noted for his illustration of fossils and minerals. In 1838, with his cousin Philip Barnes, he founded the Royal Botanic Gardens at Regents Park of which he ramined secretary until his retirement. He was responsible for the description of mny taxa. In 1861 he sold the "Sowerby Collection" to the British Museum, he retired in 1869 and died in August 1871 in Kilburn, London.

James Sowerby

James Sowerby (1757-1822)

Relationship: Wife's Fifth Great Grand Uncle

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He was born 21 March 1757 in Fleet Street, London. On 9th February 1786 he married Ann De Carle, they had nine children, including James De Carle Sowerby (above). After Ann's death in 1815, he married mary Caterine Reynolds.

Educatd at the Royal Academy, London, he was a noted naturalist, fellow of the Linnean and Geological Societis. Sowerbaea (Vanilla Lily) was named after James by JE Smith and the cetatean Mesoplodon Bidensis still commonly known as Sowerby's Whale.

He died in 1822 in Lambeth, London and is buried in St Mary's church.

Rev Thomas Jackson

Rev. Thomas Jackson (1783 - 1873)

Relationship: Wife's 3rd great grandfather

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Born in Sancton, ER Yorkshire, on the 12th December 1783, the son of Thomas Jackson and Mary Marshall. He married Ann Hollinshead on the 21st November 1809.

While serving his apprenticeship, Jackson began to attend Methodist worship and in 1801 he was converted through the ministry of Mary Barritt. He began to preach soon after and entered the itinerancy in 1804.

As connexional editor he authored a wide number of publications and established himself as one of Wesleyan Methodism's greatest apologists and historians. He edited the journals of Charles Wesley, and the sermons and other works of John Wesley, while his two volume biography of Charles Wesley is still the most complete work about the hymn-writer and co-founder of Methodism. Jackson served as President of Conference in 1838 and 1849.

In 1842 he was appointed professor of divinity Richmond Theological Institute and served there for nineteen years until poor health forced him into retirement. He died 10th March 1873 in Richmond, Surrey.

John Bennet Lawes

John Bennet Lawes (1814-1900)

Relationship: Wife's 5th Cousin five times removed

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Born at Rothamstead, Hertfordshire in 1814 only son of John Bennet and Marianne Sherman. He married Caroline Fountaine in 1842 and they had two children.

He was educated at Eton and Oxford, though was not very successful. He engaged in practical and scientific farming. He founded the Rothamstead Experimental Station and systematically studied the effect of fertilizers. In 1854 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. In 1882 he was created first Baronet of Rothamstead

He died of dysentry in 1900.

John Mayall

John Mayall (1803-1876)

Relationship: Wife's 3rd great-granduncle

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Known locally as the "prince of cotton spinners". He had moved to the Mossley district in 1831 and by 1846 had established the company of John Mayall & Sons. A Congregationalist, he was instrumental in the building of Abney Church and, until the Church was completed in 1855, allowed services to be held in the Britannia Mill which he owned with his brother George. The Britannia Mill was extended several times, as well as suffering several disastrous fires, as did Mayall's other Scout Mill.

John Mayall was to build up a considerable personal fortune during his lifetime, much of which was invested in successful business concerns, including the District Bank, the National Newspaper League Company, the Midland Railway and the Thames and Mersey Harbour Boards. By 1863 it is estimated that 40% of the population of Mossley was in the Mayall employ. John Mayall retired in 1872 and passed on his properties to his sons.

Rik Mayall

Richard Michael "Rik" Mayall (1958 - )

Relationship: Wife's 5th cousin.

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Son of John Mayall and Gillian, he is a popular comedian/ actor particularly known for his comedy partnership with Adrian Edmondson.

He studied drama at the University of Manchester where he met Adrian Edmondson in 1975. Here he also met Ben Elton and Lise Mayer with whom he would later write The Young Ones.

In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. He was described as "putrid" by late comedian Spike Milligan!

Hugn Montague Trenchard

Hugh Montague Trenchard

Relationship: Wife's 2nd cousin 3x removed.

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Born 3rd February 1873, he was one of the principle army officers responsible for setting up the Royal Air Force, and keeping it independant from the Army and Navy, so much so he is known as the Father of the RAF.

He had a somewhat troubled academic career, struggling to gain a commission in the British Army. Initially an infantry officer he was posted to South Africa where he was seriously wounded during the Boer war and paralysed as a result. He recovered from the paralysis and later returned to active service in South Africa.

In 1912 he learned to fly and was appointed to the central flying school and then the Royal Flying Corps, he served during the first world war in various senior positions culminating in 1918 as Chief of the Air Staff

In 1920 he married Katherine Elizabeth Salvin Boyle, nee Bowlby, daughter of Edward Salvin Bowlby JP and Elizabeth.

He died 10th February 1956 and is buried in the RAF Chapel in Westminster Abbey.

Victoria Cross Recipients

Victoria Cross This section highlights members of the family who have been awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest medal for bravery in the face of the enemy the UK military issues, it can also be awarded to members of the military of other Commonwealth Countries.

The Victoria Cross came into existence by Queen Victoria signing the Royal Warrant instigating the award on the 29th January 1856, and then approving a specimen Victoria Cross on 3rd March of the same year. the first investiture took place in Hyde Park on 26th June 1857, where Queen Victoria personally invested the VC on 62 recipients. The remainder, who were stationed overseas at the time, were invested with their VCs by their GOCs

Currently there are three family members who have received this award and they are listed below:

Clifford Coffin

Sir Clifford Coffin VC CB DSO with Bar (1870-1959)

Relationship: husband of third cousin twice removed of my wife.

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Born 10th February 1870 he married Helen Douglas Jackson in 1894. Commissioned into the Royal Corps of Engineers in 1888 he served in the Anglo-Boer war 1899. During world war one he commanded the 25th Infantry Brigade, he was awarded the Victoria Cross on 2nd January 1918 for "conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty" in action on 31st July 1917 at Westhoek Ridge, Ypres. He was ADC to King George V from 1920 to 1924, he retired as Major General.

He died in 1959 and is buried with his wife in Holy Trinity Churchyard, Coleman's Hatch, Kent.

Geoffrey Charles Tasker Keyes

Geoffrey Charles Tasker Keyes VC, MC, CdeG (1917-1941)

Relationship: third cousin twice removed of my wife.

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Born 18 May 1917 he never married. He was commissioned into the Royal Scotts Greys and was later attached to 11 Commando which was sent to North Africa during world ward two. On the night of the 17/18 November 1941, as Lt Colonel, he led a raid on the 8th army headquarters in a bid to remove senior German officers, including Rommel from the war. The raid itself was largely a failure, much of the force was killed before reaching the objective and the attack on the headquarters itself was quickly overpowered by defending forces, resulting in the death of Geoffrey, it further transpired that Rommel was not in residence at the time.

He is buried in Benghazi War Cemetery, Libya, having been buried with full military honours on the orders of General Rommel.

More details of the raid, it's planning and aftermath can be found in this article: (in Dutch) or
view the article translated to English by Google.

Edward William Derrington Bell

Edward William Derrington Bell VC CB (1824-1879)

Relationship: Husband of the 6th cousin four times removed of my wife

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Born on the 18th April 1824 he married Alice Brooke in 1857. On 20th September 1854, in the battle of Alma during the Crimean War, as a Captain in the 23rd Regiment the Royal Welch Fusiliers, he was the "first to seize upon and capture one of the enemy's guns which was limbered up and being carried off. He moreover took over the command of his regiment, which he brought out of action, all his senior officers having been killed or wounded", he later achieved the rank of Major General.

He died in 1879 and is buried in Kempsey churchyard, Worcestershire.