Wednesday, January 30, 2013

HF Lawford 1851 - 1925




Herbert Fortescue Lawford - HF Lawford -  was born in 1851, the son of Thomas Acland Lawford, and the elder brother of General Sir Sydney Lawford and first cousin to my grandfather, Vincent Adrian. He attended Repton School and left in April 1868 and went up to Edinburgh University in October at the age of seventeen. He remained there for two years studying Logic, Rhetoric & English Literature, and Natural Philosophy but then left in 1870 without graduating, as seems to have been quite common with gentleman undergraduates at the time. He appears to have completed two years of a four year Master of Arts course although his principal activities seem to have been shooting, fishing and playing rackets. His study at Edinburgh was akin to the completion of his schooling.


To the best of our knowledge, Herbert then joined the family firm of Steer, Lawford and Cuerton, (stockbrokers), became a partner in 1874 and pursued a career at the London Stock Exchange until his retirement around 1908. He was almost certainly a member of the Drapers' Livery Company, in common with all the 'City' Lawfords at the time. He and his father appear to have taken up residence in Wimbledon in 1884 and he lived on there until about 1910 when he moved Scotland in retirement while retaining a London pied à terre.

His claim to wider fame is based on his prowess on the tennis court.  He was Wimbledon Singles Champion in 1887, runner-up several times, and winner of the Gentlemen's Singles at the Irish Championships in three successive years. He is noted in lawn tennis history as the first player to introduce topspin to the sport.


His house in Scotland was 'Drumnagesk', a substantial property near the town of Aboyne which had expanded greatly through royal patronage of Deeside – Queen Victoria’s property at Balmoral was some 18 miles further down the road and the royal trains used to disembark their illustrious cargo at Aboyne station. The Prince of Wales, later Duke of Windsor, and Prime Minister Asquith are both known to have played golf on the Aboyne Golf Club course, Asquith in 1912. Herbert seems to have led a highly sociable life among the local gentry with the best of shooting and fishing on his doorstep. His wife Edith died there in 1913. When he died in 1925 he left £86,000, a considerable fortune in those days. (From my cousin Nigel Lawford with some details from Jeremy Lawford)