By Steve Smith
You can’t write about the history of Toc H without looking at Tubby as a person as well as the founding father of the Movement, and as a genealogist, I can’t look at a person without looking at their family and in Tubby’s case that’s well worth doing. This short blog looks at a few people from Tubby’s immediate and more distance family and gives a few very brief facts about their lives. It does nothing else except illuminate some of the interesting and amazing people around Tubby and in his life. It is certainly not comprehensive – I can’t tell you how often in reading Tubby’s words I see him mention a name and refer to him as a cousin – but it cherry-picks some notables.
Tubby’s parents were Reginald Byard Buchan Clayton and Isabel Byard Sheppard, the shared Byard being an older family name and a clue that the two were already related before they wed. For the purposes of this exercise all you really need to know is that the Claytons were essentially from Forty Hill in Enfield in more recent years whilst the Sheppards were very famous clothiers from the village of Frome in Somerset. It is this side of the family who turn up again later when we reach the cousins.
Without going in to immense biographical details, suffice to say businessman Reggie and his wife Isabel were living in Queensland, Australia and it was here that the Clayton dynasty we are looking at was founded.
Both of Tubby’s brothers, Hugh (Later Sir Hugh) and Jack (actually Reginald John but always known by the diminutive), had stellar careers abroad in the Indian and Malayan Civil Services respectively. Perhaps the fact that Hugh and three friends developed a form of Bridge that they called it S.A.C.C. after the initials of their surnames is a lesser known fact but we shall leave them there. Instead let us instead focus on Tubby’s sisters and sister-in-laws and their offspring in this part of the blog.
The first is person is noteworthy because she is so often overlooked. Tubby had a sister Mary, known as May, born some three and half years ahead of him. He never met her as poor May died at the age of sixteen months in August 1883, more than two years before Tubby was born. Her grave is in Maryland and she shares it with little Stuart, a cousin.
Of Tubby’s surviving sisters, we hear more of the eldest – indeed the eldest sibling of either gender – Isabel. Known always as Belle, it was her flat in St George’s Mansions that Tubby stayed at during periods of leave from the war and that inspired him to get his own flat just round the corner in Red Lion Square. Belle shared Tubby’s desire to work for humanitarian causes and had left home to serve the people of London as best she could. When Tubby settled on Tower Hill, Belle was at the heart of the League of Women Helper’s first premises at 50 Great Tower Street acting as hostess for the early hostellers. She also started a lunch club at No. 50 which inspired Barbara Sutherland to begin another, long-running affair, round the corner at No. 7. Sadly Belle’s potential with the Toc H and the LWH was never fully fulfilled. She died, never having married, in 1925 aged only 51.
The other sister, Ivy Francis Byard Clayton, lived a more ordinary life (Relatively speaking) but she still has a role in this genealogical journey. Marrying Robert Archer Lloyd in 1920, they had a daughter Joan, the following year. Joan later married John Stanley Davis and together, soon after the Second World War, they brought Peter Byard Davis into the world. Peter later emigrated to New Zealand where he married Helen Clark, a politician who became Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1999 for nine years.
Of his two sister-in-law’s let us talk first of Jack’s wife Beatrice because her maiden name was Dickens and she was indeed the granddaughter of the most famous Victorian writer of all. Beatrice’ father was Charles Culliford Boz Dickens, son of Charles Dickens. However it was to be Jack and Beatrice’s daughter Ivy Stuart Cecil Clayton, who carried the Dickens flame forward. Always known as Stuart, she became one of the most prominent experts on the great author and was a member of the Dickens Society. She spoke regularly on her pet subject to various groups and published the book Knock on the Nursery Door – The Story of the Dickens Children, under her married (and slightly derived) name of Stuart Dickens McHugh. She also contributed a chapter to Helen Cox’ book Mr and Mrs Charles Dickens Entertain at Home. Away from Dickens, Stuart wrote a children’s book called Kanchil The Wily One, based on tales of the Malaysian Mouse-Deer that she heard about whilst growing up in Malaya. The McHugh she married by the way was Terrence McHugh, a Marksman at Redville in Swindon.
Hugh and his wife Annie Nepean produced four children, though died as an infant. Hugh Thomas Byard Clayton (Known as Tom) remained quite close to Tubby and stayed in touch with the Movement after his uncle’s death. He himself produced two sons, Philip and Stuart, whom I met at the 2015 Centenary Celebrations in Talbot House. Hugh and Annie’s other son, Philip sadly died at the age of 24 from Infantile Paralysis (an old name for polio) which he contracted whilst teaching at Edge Grove Prep school. His father passed on just a few weeks later in 1947. Their other surviving child was Nancy Stuart Byard Clayton, known universally as Bubbles. Probably inspired by her famous uncle, Bubbles gave over most of her life to good causes. She never married but lived to the grand old age of 94 dying on 9th May 2012.
The Cousins & others
An important early member of Toc H, Stuart Morton Winter Sheppard was the son of Henry (Harry) and Rita Sheppard. Harry, a scholar of Hebrew, would himself become a Toc H man and would be responsible for building it up in Cambridge. Stuart though was born in Dawlish in 1895 and later served as an officer in the 12th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers in the Middle East. After the war he settled in Chelsea and became a solicitor. Tubby co-opted him to the Committee as one of the younger members and also persuaded him to edit The Christmas Spirit, the Toc H Annual of Christmas 1920. However it was in the Toc H sports’ associations that Sheppard found his calling. He started a Toc H cricket team which led to finding and renting in 1921 the Toc H sports ground at Folly Farm near Hadley Woods, Barnet. Sheppard was also secretary of the Toc H football team in 1927/8 when they played in Senior Division 1 of the Southern Amateur League.
In December 1922 he married Barbara Shepherd, daughter of Punch illustrator, J.A. Shepherd at Charlwood church in Surrey. Tubby, newly inducted as vicar of All Hallows, carried out the service. The Sheppards would have two children (See below) before dying tragically young on the 19th November 1937 aged only 42. His ashes are in the undercroft of All Hallows church.
Stuart’s daughter Mary worked for Tubby when she was younger and David spent a lot of time ‘on the Hill’ with Tubby accompanying him on visits. He was effectively one of Tubby’s ADCs. He later set up the Mayflower Centre in Canning Town and became a priest in 1956. He finished up as Bishop of Liverpool. Oh, all this and he was a first class cricketer for Sussex playing in 22 tests for England.
Another cousin who played an even more pivotal role in early Toc H was Hugh Richard Lawrie Sheppard, better known to all as Dick. Born in 1880 and educated at Marlborough then Trinity, Cambridge, Sheppard was Cosmo Lang’s secretary for a short while when Lang was Bishop of Stepney. After theological training at Cuddesdon Sheppard was priested in 1908. He became vicar of St Martin-in-the Fields in 1914 and began to turn into a true community centre. Although prone to exhaustion stemming from overwork, Sheppard spent six months of the war as a Chaplain in a military hospital in France. The experience almost broke him and certainly turned him into a staunch pacifist, one of the most well-known of the era. He found national fame in 1924 when he broadcast the first ever religious service on BBC Radio. Resigning because of his health in 1926 he later went on to help start the Peace Pledge Union and was appointed Rector of Glasgow University but died days later on 31st October 1937.
He was highly supportive of Tubby in the early days of Toc H allowing him to use the St Martin’s parish newsletter to spread the word and indeed, the church itself before Tubby moved to All Hallows. He also helped Tubby and Alec Paterson develop the Four Points of the Compass.
Other cousins included The Earl of Cavan (Frederick Rudolph Lambart) who Tubby knew in Flanders and who wrote the Foreword for Tales of Talbot House, and Peter Neil Le Mesurier who was Tubby’s ADC in 1938-9 and toured India with Tubby as well as helping out on Orkney.
So there we are – a little glimpse into a few of Tubby’s rellies from this complex and interesting family. It must have been very difficult keeping up with them all.