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23 Jan 2024
updated 23 Jan 2024

History of the Townend Family
Harry Townend, June 1961

The first record we have of the family is in the year 1365, when William Townende of Bradford in Yorkshire was fined forty shillings – for a misdemeanour of which we do not know the nature. It must have been a serious one. Forty shillings was a fortune in those days.

Next, Thomas Townende, who lived near Skipton, Yorkshire, of which we shall hear again later, paid poll tax by order of Richard II in 1377.

Then Richard Townend (the 'e' is now dropped) left a Will dated 1420; he was probably born around 1350. He had several sons, one of whom was probably the Edmund from whom we trace our descent.

Edmund, (died 1430?), had a son, William – it will be seen that William is a favourite Townend name, repeating itself throughout the generations – who lived at Elland in Yorkshire and died in 1528. His son was John, his grandson another William who left a Will dated 26 January 1577 and whose son Thomas was married on 13 July 1567 and died in 1631.

In turn, his son Thomas, another long-lived Townend, was born in 1572 and died in 1661. He was a barrister-at-law of Staples Inn and left a sum of fifty pounds for the poor of Sildsen, which brought in fifteen pounds a year.

This Thomas had twins, Simeon and Margaret. Simeon, again a long-lived Townend, born in 1610 and dying in 1690, survived the Civil War, in which he fought with bill and pike on the side of the Royalists at the capture of Skipton Castle. He became a woollen farmer and merchant of Haworth.

He lived at Haworth Old Hall, doubtless in some state, and had four sons, the third of whom was another William, born in 1642, who had a son, John, born 1685, and a grandson John, born 1709, who lived to the age of 89 at Middleton Hall just outside Hunsley, Leeds. A fine old place, its walls in parts nearly a yard thick, the Estate has long since been cut up for coal mines and clay works.

He had six children, one of whom – another William – was born in 1749 and died at the comparatively early age of 64. He had seven children, of whom William of Manchester, born in 1784 and dying in 1868 at the age of 84, was the grandfather of Townends living today. (What sent William to Lancashire? For five centuries the Townends had been Yorkshiremen.)

William had four children, two sons and two daughters. One of the daughters, Jane, married (secondly) Lieut. General the Hon. Augustus George Charles Chichester, second son of the first Lord Templemore. They had no children. She died on 29 August 1929.

(In 1960, a lady secretary who, after many years service with the firm of R G Shaw & Co, was saying goodbye to its Chairman – see later – told him that the only other post she had ever had was as secretary to the "Hon. Mrs Chichester". Scarcely believing his ears, he enquired further, and sure enough, it was his father's sister for whom the secretary had worked all those years ago.)

But to return to William. One of his sons was Alfred John, born on 5 July 1839 at Manchester. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and became an Army Chaplain, dying in 1911. He married (secondly) on 16 June 1880, Margaret Wiseman Stairs, daughter of the Hon. William John Stairs of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She was born on 26 March 1853 and died 23 September 1914.

They had nine children. There were no children by Alfred's first marriage.

  1. The eldest, William (Bill), was born at Halifax on 27 July 1881, 97 years after the birth of his grandfather, William. He was educated at Appuldurcombe, Isle of Wight, and Dulwich College1, 2. He went to California in 1910, to Vancouver in 1913, where he met his future wife, returned to England in October 1914 on the outbreak of the First World War, enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps in March 1915, went to France in June 1915, left France on 1 March 1917 to become an Officer Cadet at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and was commissioned in The Royal Welsh Fusiliers in May and served in County Cork until the end of the War. He became an author, with 45 (47?) books published up to the end of 1960. He married on 29 May 1915, Irene Violette Ellam. They had no children. Both he and his wife died at Folkestone in 1961 (he in Feb 1962?).
  2. The second son was Alfred Bernard Stairs (Barney), born at Halifax on 5 October 1882, died 25 September 1959. Educated at Appuldurcombe and Wellingborough1, 2, he passed into the Royal Navy in 1899, and saw service in Australia, the Mediterranean, China and in home waters, retiring in 1922 with the rank of Paymaster Commander, OBE. Settled at Great Leighs and took up poultry farming. He married on 25 September 1912, at Southsea, Grace Carina, daughter of Timothy Bevington, and they had three children. He died at Highways on the 47th anniversary of his wedding day.
  3. The eldest daughter, Alice Mary (Arla), was born at Halifax on 18 December 1883. She married Henry (Harry) Albert Kaulback, son of Archdeacon Kaulback of Nova Scotia, Canada. He was gazetted from the Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario, into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and on promotion to Captain in the autumn of 1907, transferred to the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. He served in Northern Ireland and in India, and went from India on active service to France in 1914, losing an arm in battle. He commanded the 1st Battalion at Aldershot and died in 1929.

    Harry and Arla Kaulback had two sons, Ronald John Henry and Roy James Alfred (Bill). Ron explored in Tibet, writing Tibetan Trek and Salween. Bill worked in the Middle East in oil.

  4. The third son was Francis Whitchurch (Frank), born at Halifax on 10 July 1885. Educated at Appuldurcombe and Dulwich College1, 2, he passed into the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich1, 2 (at the age of 16!) in the summer of 1901, and from there was gazetted to the Royal Engineers and posted to India. Good at all games, and a noted cricketer, he was one of the first specialists in radio-communications. He went on active service to France in October 1914, with the 3rd Sappers and Miners and died of wounds at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle on 29 March 1915, and is buried at the Military Cemetery at Bethune. He was not yet married.
  5. The fourth son, Herbert Patrick Victor, was born in Dublin on 11 March 1887 and was a Scholar of the Kings School, Canterbury1, 2, and a Scholar and Graduate of St John's College, Oxford1, 2. From there he passed into the Indian Civil Service and after a distinguished career retired with the rank of Commissioner in 1942, He married Lettice Joan Bevington, sister to his sister-in-law Grace, and they had three children.
  6. The fifth son, Roy Duncan Morrow, was born in Dublin on 31 January 1889. He died in 1951. He was a Scholar of Blundell's School1, 2 and a Scholar and Graduate (MA with a double First in engineering and maths) of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge1, 2. He became a schoolmaster and later a doctor of medicine. He married Eleanor Lillian Clayton West, herself a doctor, and they had three children, Francis William Philip, Helen Mary and Hugh Edward.
  7. The second daughter, Margaret Susan Catherine (Susie), was born at Gibraltar on 27 May 1890. She married William Green and they had two sons. She lives at Ealing.
  8. The sixth son, Harry Douglas, was born at Gibraltar on 29 December 1891. A Scholar of the King's School, Canterbury1, 2, and an Exhibitioner and Graduate of Queen's College, Cambridge1, 2, he joined the firm of Shaw Wallace & Co in India (where his two brothers and sister then were), becoming its Senior Partner in India and President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce in India. On his retirement after 33 years in India he was knighted, and joined R G Shaw & Co Ltd, London, becoming its Chairman from 1955 to 1961. On 15 July 1925 in Lysore, S India, he married Mary Winifred Edwards (Winsome) and they had two children.
  9. The seventh son was Gerald Arthur, born 3 October 1893 at Ealing. Educated at the King's School, Canterbury1, 2, and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, he was commissioned in the Prince of Wales' Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment) and served in France in the First World War, in India, the UK and again in France in the Second World War. He was killed on 1 October 1941 while commanding the 1st Battalion of his regiment. Awarded an MC.