Thursday, December 08, 2016

Origin of the name 'Lawford'

This surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from any of the various places called Lawford which have as their component elements the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Lealla", cognate with the Old High German "Lallo", and the Olde English "ford", a ford. These places include: Lawford in Essex, recorded as "Lalleford", circa 1042 in the Anglo-Saxon Wills Records, and as "Laleforda" in the omesday Book of 1086; Church and Long Lawford in Warwickshire, appearing as "Leileforde, Lilleford" and "Lelleford" in the Domesday Book, and respectively as "Churche", and "Long Lalleford" in the 1235 Charter Rolls of Warwickshire; and Lawford, a locality in the Williton rural district of Somerset. Locational surnames such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. On December 2nd 1589, Thomas Lawford and Isabella Holbech were married at Fillongley, Warwickshire. Dr. Richard Lawford, an early settler in the New World, appears on a List of the Inhabitants of St. Michaell's Town, Barbados, in 1680. A Coat of Arms granted to the Lawford family is an azure shield with seven silver crescents, three, three and one. Symbolically, the crescent is associated with Faith and Hope. An arrow point downwards and palm branch in saltire all proper is on the Crest. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Lawforde, which was dated November 9th 1569, marriage to Elizabeth Carlett, at St. Giles' Cripplegate, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603.  Internet Surname Database

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Life in Wine

Koko, a bruschetta and a sauvignon
I've never been much of a drinker and indeed was teetotal until I was about 25 and drank mainly coke.  I never acquired a taste for beer, probably because my father hardly drank it, and didn't like the effects of alcohol - and still don't. But after I was given champagne at Annie Ommanney's wedding and became laughing drunk, I took up drinking wine which I came to love. My friend Charlie Skipwith sent into the wine trade at the end of the 60s and went to study at the Ginestet's at Chateau Margaux and I visited him and became interested in its production. By the 70's I was spending quite bit of time reading about wine and visiting wine regions in France. My bible was a book by Alexis Lichine called 'An Encyclopaedia of Wines and Spirits'. He endeared himself to me by writing: 'How does one drink a Chateau d'Yquem? On one's knees with one's head bared'. Hugh Johnson on Wine was another regular source of information - and my father made me a member of the Wine Society whose catalogues were most informative.

Soulutre in the Macon 1979

In time I started to acquire some serious wines and even kept a cellar book at Harvestgate. Charlie Skipwith gave me a dozen Leoville Las Cases and Nick Duke and I bought a case of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1970 to share and these and other wines were stored in my father's cellar st Stocks. There were two drawbacks to this. One was that he would go down and help himself to them (and why not?). The other was that the cellar flooded in wet years and many bottles lost their labels (though this also encouraged one to draw their corks to see what they were....)

The first two pages of the cellar book dated December 1979
The first two pages of the cellar book dated December 1979
For a while I also bought wine at Christie's wine sales with another friend, Bruce Harris, but our enthusiasm dimmed somewhat when we paid quite a bit for a 1961 Chateau Tasta which turned out to be undrinkable.

I was lucky to be introduced to Australian and New Zealand wines early on. Once I spent a happy afternoon with a business colleague at Len Evans's wine bar in Sydney drinking Petaluma riesling and on another memorable occasion my brother-in-law, Peter Crittle and I selected three bottles of Grange Hermitage from his extensive cellar, drunk them at a sitting and ended up sleeping face-down on the lawn. In New Zealand, our business was looked after by Ian McKay, a well known local figure who had a share in the Cloudy Bay vineyard that began that country's rise to wine prominence.

In Japan, I soon grew to love sake (more properly a beer rather than a wine) and sought out the finer drier sakes from Niigata (like Hakubai) to go with sashimi and other delicacies. I still love them though find them impossible to get at home, even in good restaurants.

Devil's Lair

I no longer maintain anything like a cellar, but I do buy small quantities of wines that I really like and which are worth opening with friends who appreciate them. Although with the right food it's difficult to beat the mouth-filling properties of Yarra Yering 'Agincourt' (Cabernet Merlot), mostly I prefer to drink lighter wines, preferably Pinot Noir, the best of which I think come from Central Otago - like Mt Difficulty, Neudorf or Felton Road. My favourites whites are Devil's Lair from Margaret River. Far Niente from Napa (both chardonnays) and the exceptional new Spanish whites such as Lapola. All winemaking seems to have undergone a great transformation in recent years and lovely wines at reasonable prices abound, and although one can still find absolutely delicious French wines (such as Gevrey-Chamertin) at a price, I do still have difficulty with many French wines that seem not to meet the taste grade.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bill Birch Reynardson

Bill Birch Reynardson and Peter Wright (foreground) 

This post is about Bill Birch Reynardson, who was the 'original cause' of my joining Thomas Miller and my subsequent 39 year career in the  City. How this happy occurrence took place was that one of my father Patrick's closest friends was Colin Balfour. Patrick was asked shooting with him one day in the autumn of 1966 and met Bill, who was also an old friend of Colin Balfour's.  They got talking and my father mentioned that I was reading law and intended to practice at the bar. 'I wouldn't do that', said Bill. 'I was at the bar for a while; very dull. I'm now with a firm in the City called Thomas Miller. Tell Herry to come and see me.' Needless to say, we made some enquiries (from the likes of John Colgrave) as Thomas Miller was a firm that no one appeared to have heard of, but they revealed the intriguing information that the Millers (Dawson and Cyril) ran something called a Shipowners' Mutual or 'P&I Club' and were two of the richest people in the City, had racehorses and a chateau in France, and the firm was known as one of most successful and prestigious in the world of shipping law and insurance.  And so I came up from university for a few days and was shown (by Terence Coghlin, another important mentor) the files relating to the current legal 'cause celebre', the 'General Guisan' - otherwise known as 'Suisse-Altantique' -  a case involving the issue of fundamental breach, and another enormous set of files involving an even more important case, the 'Wagon Mound', a Privy Council decision on remoteness of damage, which had been handled by Frank Ledwith. You can imagine how fascinating it was to be suddenly at heart of such momentous legal decisions, seeing how the relevant partners had handled the cases and guided the shipowners concerned in their appeals - with the Club in these cases paying their legal costs*.

Bill lived at Adwell House, an ancient pile in Oxfordshire that had been in his family since the late C17th and was once a Civil War prison. There is a good description of the house and the family's history here. Having joined Thomas Miller in October 1967 I was placed in Frank Ledwith's training room with my colleagues Stephen James, Francis Frost, Christopher Bird and Roger Day, with Nigel Lindrea, who had joined a year earlier, nominally looking after us (but in fact getting mercilessly ragged). Bill was a partner then and so soon was Terence Coghlin, and it was with Terence I initially sat, after the two- year training period, and only later with Bill. But almost immediately, Bill began to take me on business trips, particularly to Yugoslavia, often accompanied by his wife Nik (and sometimes his daughter Juliet), and of course I got to know them well as a result. Later on we visited India, Iran and Iraq, as well as Japan, but it was to Yugoslavia we went most often and we also dealt with their shipowners' annual renewal as well as their cases.

Bill was a good lawyer and negotiator was consummate at large international gatherings. He was for many years president of the CMI (Comite Maritime International) from which new international shipping laws emerged. When the Torrey Canyon spilt its cargo of oil on the Scilly Isles in 1967 and it was realised that there was no international regime to determine who paid for the consequences of an accidental oil spill, Bill got together with Lord Diplock in his kitchen and drafted what became the Civil Liability Convention on which most international oil spill compensation law has been based since 1970.

Bill later became senior partner, and I continued to travel with him in places like Japan, where he used to go off to have dinner with his old friend the ambassador, and I made the rounds of the shipowners. Here we are at the top of the Palace Hotel - where we always stayed - giving lunch to a Japanese lawyer and his colleague. The lawyer was a crucial link to the top echelon of the top Japanese shipping line and was a good friend as well. The photo includes Terence Coghlin who was revered in Japan.

I also learned how to travel: we went to the races in Baghdad (Bill in a grey flannel suit with brown hat and shoes), and took time out of a visit to Tehran to visit Persepolis, the year after the Shah's incredible party, coming home via Rome and staying in the Hassler. At the Taj in Bombay, Bill would invite the senior figures in the industry to dinner in his suite. They all came.

Bill put me in charge of a new insurance Club in 1984, and supported me against those who thought I should have stayed in the main P&I business. But TIM was successful and by1991 having completed a merger with a competing mutual and making the combined entity ITIC the largest insurer of such risks in the world, Herry returned to P&I.

Bill retired in 1992 and was made a CBE. He was a consumate countryman and sportsman and rode to hounds until late in life (before being nearly killed when his horse fell out hunting), was chairman of Garsington Opera for years and was very well-connected both in the City and society generally. His lovely garden at Adwell was being constantly expanded and is open annually for charity.

A vignette will put Bill into better context: his father had made friends in the South of France with the Swedish royals and Bill continued the relationship. One day in 1970 he invited me to dinner at Adwell and told me to stay the night and bring my black tie. It was a fascinating evening as the guest list included the King and Queen of Sweden, Princess Margareta and John Ambler, Lord Carrington and his wife and one of the Swedish princesses, who was my age. I very much enjoy the evening but have never encountered one quite its equal since.

* In both these cases the shipowners were insured by the Club only for their legal costs as the principal losses - time, (in the case of the "General Guisan') can't be insured - and physical damage to the ship itself (in the case of the 'Wagon Mound') is covered by the ship's hull policy). Of course the Club covered a multitude of types of loss to third parties, from oil spills to death and injury to passengers and crew, to cargo loss and damage, fines and penalties and many more esoteric claims.

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Cmdr Colin Balfour, RN, DL 1924 - 2009

Colin and Prue Balfour

Cmdr Colin Balfour, RN, DL, who died on 19th July 2009 after suffering an eight-year illness brought on by a fall, was a most charming and amusing man and, with his wife Prue, one of my parents' closest friends. He was brought up in Oxfordshire and was an early friend of Bill Birch Reynardson's and was with him at Eton. Both of them went to war in 1942, Colin joining the navy and Bill the army, and saw a great deal of action (and Bill was wounded). Colin retired from the navy in 1952 and took up farming on his family's estate at Wintershill and in Scotland, which he loved. He was for many years chairman of the govenors of the local school, chairman and treasurer of the Parish Council aand a church warden at Durley Church for 24 years. An excellent shot, a superb mimic and story-teller (and mathematician) and a kind and generous man, he and Prue maintained a wonderful social life in Hampshire and in Scotland. Among my parents' fondest memories (apart from many hilarious dinner parties) were when they visited them in the South of France and the annual cricket matches against the village, played on the pitch at Wintershill.  Prue, the daughter of an admiral, who died in 2016 was as charming and gregarious as he was and both enhanced the lives of all those around them.
I have a particular reason to be grateful to Colin and Prue as it was when my father was shooting at Wintershill that he met Bill Birch Reynardson who offered me a job at Thomas Miller where I happily remained for 39 years.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

General Sir Sydney Lawford 1865 - 1953

General Sir Sydney Turing Barlow Lawford KCB

The General’s Sword

Dear Mr. Lawford,

Firstly, please allow me to introduce myself;

My name is Troy Zwicker. I am a Deputy Sheriff who resides in Nova Scotia, Canada. One of my hobbies is collecting British military swords, which is the reason I am writing to you.

I discovered your blog while conducting research into a Wilkinson sword in my collection. I read your articles on the Lawford connection to the Draper's Guild with fascination, not least because your articles helped confirm in my mind my working theory on the original owner of said sword.

I have enclosed a link to an on-line article that was put together by a very good friend of mine on his blog regarding the sword in question and its connection to a member of the Lawford family.

Might I prevail upon you to peruse the article and share your thoughts with me regarding my deductive reasoning on the purchaser and owner of this fascinating historical artifact?

Here is the link to the article;

In closing Sir, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to you for your efforts in making available to the world (including amateur historians such as myself!) the fascinating history of your family.

Respectively yours,

Troy Zwicker
Nova Scotia,

5th August 2016

to which my cousin Jeremy replied: 

I am sure Troy Zwicker’s conclusion is correct, and that this was indeed Sydney’s sword.  And he is right that Sydney’s father had died just a few months before, so it is not unreasonable to assume that a relative might have bought 19 year old Sydney his regimental sword.

However, my first thought was that there are no Lawfords in that period with those initials – indeed, there are few apart from Sydney himself who had as many as three initials,   And Troy Zwicker is absolutely right that Sydney was the only Lawford in the Royal Fusiliers.  Certainly not second cousin Percy (who had no other initials anyway),  nor his father’s cousin George (ditto).

So I looked again at the initials in the Wilkinson ledger, and I think the answer may be quite straightforward.  The first initial could be almost anything, but it is certainly not a ‘P’ and I don’t think it’s a ‘G’ either.  If anything it looks like the sort of terminal small case ‘s’ that I was taught to form at Miss Melsom’s school in Deddington 70+ years ago.  The second letter is, I think, a ‘T’ rather than an ‘S’.  And the third letter, which is unquestionably a ‘V’, was written down in error when Sydney gave his name as S T B Lawford.  Not much difference in sound between B and V, as anyone who has tried learning modern Greek will know!

So the purchaser, in my opinion, was S T B Lawford of the 7th Fusiliers, which was, I believe, the battalion to which he was attached after gaining his commission in the Royal Fusiliers on 5th February i885.  The service record which I attach indicates as much.

Jeremy Lawford
8th August 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mario de Pace 1943 - 2015

Mario de Pace

Mark Holford has sent in a piece on the influential former IT partner of Thomas Miller who died after Christmas at the age of 72 in St Agnes, Cornwall:-

Mario de Pace was born and grew up in South Africa, coming to the UK as a young man. He joined Thomas Miller in 1975 in their Cockfosters office and throughout his 25 year career was Head of IT. As the importance of IT grew, so did his role and eventually to such an extent he became a partner in 1988.

I knew nothing of Mario when I was appointed by the then Thomas Miller Senior Partner, David Martin-Clark, to work with him in 1990 on an IT strategy. In fact most of the things I had heard were negative. How wrong they were. He was the best colleague to work with. Always wise and supportive. It was a "marriage" made in heaven: we each complemented our strengths and weaknesses. Mario was a past master at ensuring that everyone was on side before a meeting took place, while I was good at presentations, which he did not like doing. In fact the first illustrated presentation ever made to the Thomas Miller Board / Partnership was our 1990 IT Strategy – we used 35mm slides made from a PowerPoint type presentation package; we created it together and I delivered it, heavily rehearsed by Mario!
 Mario, Sam Ignarski and myself turned our IT Strategy into a competition entry on a vision for the London Market. It won the first prize, which included a pair of video conference phones – we never used them!
 Mario was a visionary. We were one of the first London insurance companies to get internal email in the very early 90’s (actually 1987). He then suggested that I look at a product called Lotus Notes (eventually taken over by IBM). It took me 6 months to grasp why it was so powerful, but he had seen it immediately. Only now is Thomas Miller ceasing to use it. 
Arising out of the IT Strategy Mario and I created some very big projects, including “Guide”, a complex underwriting system, that had its challenges. Yet he always was clear-sighted, encouraging and helped me through some difficult times to a satisfactory outcome. “Oasis”, our largest project, was designed to make Thomas Miller’s claims paperless and to control the entire claims documentation process. This was radical in 1995 and the size of the project was ambitious. Mario was taken to Peterborough by IBM, our project partner, to see how the Sun Alliance handled 2m motor claims. When he commented that we only had 85,000, the IBM executive said”… but you have more documents than they do!” Despite its size and complexity, the project was a great success and won a number of awards. My colleague Kim Vernau (now the CEO of a major Thomas Miller subsidiary, BLP Insurance,) ran the project and remembers “how supportive Mario was during the project, both in terms of advice and in managing the Budget!”. Mario always had money squirrelled away and would find the funds – sometimes large sums – to do things. We never knew how he hid them from the Finance Director, Bruce Kesterton (now the Thomas Miller CEO). Despite, or probably because of, this, his projects were always on or below budget.
 A young Swedish lawyer, Åke Nilson, joined Thomas Miller in the late 80’s and left in 1992 to start a business in shipping EDI using technology to connect businesses. Mario had the foresight to stay in touch with Åke, who was developing a project to create paperless electronic bills of lading. In 1996 he said to me that Åke needed help to fund the business, christened Bolero. Between us we managed to persuade SWIFT (the banks’ payment network) and the TT Club (Thomas Miller’s second biggest mutual) to invest $5m each. Bolero still exists today.
 The last thing we did together was Transactio. In 2000, the middle of the dotcom bubble, Mario and I, along with two other Thomas Miller executives, decided that we should try to use Thomas Miller’s connections to create Transactio, a shipping portal dotcom. As always Mario was a core part of the vision. The deal was that if we got funded the four of us would leave Thomas Miller. We drew up a pragmatic and modest plan and set out to raise money but we could not find funding. I always said that we failed was because we were not prepared to lie and say we would get £50m of shipping advertising - everybody else did. Had we got funded, there is no doubt that we would have been the oldest “dotcommers”; all the rest even in shipping were in their 20’s. It is interesting there were over 200 shipping dotcoms by the end of 2000 and only about 5 survive today. Following our failure to find funding, Thomas Miller decided to invest in one of these survivors, ShipServ, a shipping ecommerce business.
At this point Mario took the wise decision to hang up his IT / Thomas Miller boots and retire to Cornwall. Despite illness, he took up another challenge, driving the renovation and conversion of the St Agnes Miners’ & Mechanics Institute into a successful community centre. In this as in all his projects he showed great drive and determination, despite failing health.
 Finally the other thing I remember was his vicious one fingered typing; he would destroy a keyboard a year. He wrote 7 IT help books this way. I am pleased to see that they are still available on Amazon. Like many of his achievements he was very quiet and modest about his writing career.
Thomas Miller owes him an enormous debt of gratitude; all the systems we put in place in the 90’s are still there and only just now being replaced. It is a testimony to their quality and inspiration that they have been difficult to supplant. To me he was a wonderful colleague and friend. Our careers were inextricably linked for 10 years and I owe him a huge amount. All my retirement activities are involved with IT and without Mario I would not be doing any of them. I know that you will be watching over us and ensuring that we apply your wisdom. R.I.P.

[Your editor is also highly indebted to MdP for his wise guidance over many years, not to mention his friendship]

[nb Mark Holford is the Chairman of]

Reprinted from The Maritime Advocate 12th January 2016

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