Himbury History

Sir William Himbury

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William Himbury 1871 - 1955

Birth= 1871 Sherborne, Dorset, England

Marriage= 1899 and 1939

Death= 28th November 1955

Spouse=Laura Annie Eversden, and Elizabeth Crapper

Children= Reginald William Hayward (Rex), Alfred Lewis Paterson, Ralph 'Arthur Basil, and Dorothy Vera Patricia







Sir William Himbury. Came from very humble beginnings . . . . . .

Born in 1871 in Duck Street, Sherborne, Dorset, William Henry Himbury was the second of seven children born to John Himbury and Sarah Emma Eversden. William’s father John Himbury, was described as a general waiter on William’s birth certificate. William’s mother was a school teacher’s daughter. Somehow, William’s father managed to afford a private education for William as it is mentioned in The Guardian Newspaper Obituary that was printed on 30th November 1955. Or maybe by private education they mean that he was educated at home by his mother, who after all was a school teacher’s daughter?

William grew up and in 1899 William was working in West Africa in Sierra Leone, The Oil Rivers and Lagos (Nigeria), and the Gold Coast. He must have been a very tough, resourceful person because he was in charge of cable communications in a country where there were few roads and no railway communications.
He was responsible for the construction of Lagos hinterland telegraphs in 1897 after having survived the raid by the Brassmen on the Niger Company’s Depot at Akassa the previous year.

When William got married on 20th April 1899 to Laura Annie Eversden, his occupation is described as “Electrical Engineer”.
Laura Annie Eversden, curiously, was the half sister of William’s mother, William’s grandfather having remarried and had more children after being widowed in 1860. William and Laura were married, by licence, at all Saints Church in the Parish Of Fulham, in London. William’s father John was one of the witnesses and is described on the marriage certificate as a Gentleman, as is Joshua Eversden, Laura’s father.
At the time of his marriage William was living at 8 Gowan Avenue, Byfleet, in  Surrey.

How William progressed his career from an electrical engineer to Knight Chairman of the British Cotton Growing Association I do not know, but within 5 years of his marriage, he had joined them in 1904 and his career with them continued until 1938.

William travelled all over the world in his work for the British Cotton Growing Association and wrote comprehensive tour diaries which are now kept at Birmingham University. He travelled extensively visiting Africa, India, Iraq and Israel, overseeing experiments designed to discover which varieties of cotton were best suited to grow in the various countries. Following the 1st World War there was a world shortage of cotton and it was considered imprudent to rely on the American growers to supply the needs of The Empire.
From his tour diaries, letters to Lord Lugard, and numerous newspaper cuttings  it is clear that William moved in some very high circles which included Royalty both from England and from abroad.
The Guardian of Nov 23rd 1927 records the fact that King Feisul of Iraq visited Manchester as Sir William’s guest. Sir William travelled with him by train from Liverpool and later in the day Sir William Himbury and Lady Himbury went with him to the Town Hall and took tea with the Lord Mayor.


William and Laura had four children. Reginald William Hayward (Rex), born 21st March 1900 at Byfleet Road, in Surrey. Alfred Lewis Paterson, born in 1901 at Chertsey. Ralph Arthur Basil (Basil), born in 1907 in Stockport, and Dorothy Vera Patricia, born on 26th February 1909 at Springfield, Cheadle.


William’s wife Laura died of influenza on 5th February 1929 in London whilst William and his son Basil were away on business. William was knighted the following year, so unfortunately Laura never lived to see her husband honoured in this way. I have so far been unable to find any details about his knighthood, but it would have been for services to the British Empire I am sure!

In 1939 Sir William got married again to a friend, Elizabeth Crapper,  that he had known for 35 years. William had been living in a hotel for 5 years and was suddenly given 12 hours notice to leave. William had nowhere else to go as all his children were out of the country so he married Elizabeth and went to live with her. Presumably it would not have been considered correct to go and stay with her if they were not married. His new wife was 60 and a grandmother and indeed William too was a grandfather by this time. In a letter that William wrote to Lord Lugard William said that he expected they would get along very well indeed.

William died on 28th November 1955 at Southport General Infirmary, he was 84 and had retired from the Chair of The British Cotton Growing Association just one month before. According to the Guardian Newspaper of 9th March 1956 Sir William left £48,137 in his will on which duty of £14,196 was payable.










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