John Marriott DAVENPORT (1809–1882)
His wife Mrs Sophia Anne DAVENPORT, née Walker (1818–1916)
Their youngest son Arthur DAVENPORT (1855–1886)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 25, Grave G70

Davenport grave


In Affectionate Remembrance of


John Marriot Davenport
For fifty Years
Clerk of the Peace
of the County of Oxford.
Born 29 September 1809.
Died 31 January 1882.



Also of Arthur
his youngest Son
Born 14 December 1855,
Died 11 March 1886.



And Also of his widow
Sophia Anne
Died 1 December 1916. Aged 98.




John Marriott Davenport was born in Shirburn, Oxfordshire on 29 September 1809 and baptised there on 14 November. He was the son of the banker Richard Davenport and Jane Deveroux Davies, who were married at St James's Church in Piccadilly on 1 June 1805. His brothers included George Francis Davenport (born 1806), Robert Davenport (born 1816), Sir Samuel Davenport (born 1818), and Henry Devereux Davenport (born 1822). John Marriott Davenport became an Oxford solicitor, and also from about 1832 he was Clerk of the Peace of the City.

Sophia Anne Walker was born at Heath Farm in Bletchingdon in 1818, the daughter of the Oxford banker Richard Walker and his wife Susanna, and baptised there on 6 August.

On 11 February 1839 in Bletchingdon, John Marriott Davenport married Sophia Anne Walker, and they had the following children:

  • John Davies Davenport (born at the High Street on 15 July 1840 and baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 24 August 1840
  • Thomas Marriott Davenport (born at the High Street in 1841/2 and baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 6 January 1842)
  • Susannah Maria Davenport (born at 62 St Giles’s Street in 1843 (reg. second quarter) and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 29 March 1843)
  • Edward Davenport (born at 62 St Giles’s Street in 1844 (reg. second quarter) and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 24 April 1844)
  • Francis Henry Davenport (born at 62 St Giles’s Street on 20 September 1846 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 23 October)
  • Alfred Davenport (born at 62 St Giles’s Street on 5 May 1849 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 29 May)
  • Arthur Davenport (born at 62 St Giles’s Street on 14 December 1855 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 29 December).

At the time of the 1841 census John Davenport (31), who was a solicitor, was living at the eastern end of Oxford’s High Street with his wife Sophia (22) and their first child, John (11 months). They had one male and three female servants.

62-64 St Giles's Street


At some point between January 1842 and March 1843 the family moved to 62 Giles’s Street in St Mary Magdalen parish, where John Davenport was to spend the rest of his life, and which remained with the family until 1917.

It is the house on the right of this photograph (left). It was demolished with its two neighbours nearer the camera to make way for Blackfriars.


At the time of the 1851 census John Marriott Davenport (41) and Sophia Anne Davenport (32) were living here with their children Thomas (9), Susannah (8), Edward (7), Francis (4), and Alfred (1), plus four servants (a cook, housemaid, nurse, and general servant). John (10) was boarding at Mr Slatter’s school in Iffley.

In 1861 John Marriott Davenport was again at home in 62 St Giles’s Street with his wife and four of his children: Thomas (19), who was an undergraduate; Susannah (18), Alfred (11), and Arthur (5). The family had four servants (a cook, housemaid, nursemaid, and footman). Edward (17) was boarding at Rugby School, where Alfred was also to be sent two years later.

Four of the Davenport sons were matriculated at the University of Oxford between 1858 and 1868: John (Brasenose, 1858); Thomas (Pembroke, 1861); Edward (Trinity, 1863); and Alfred (Balliol, 1868); and on 3 November 1866 John Marriott Davenport himself was matriculated as a privileged person of the University at the age of 57.

In 1871 John & Sophia Davenport were still at 62 St Giles’s Street with three of their children: Thomas (29), who was now a solicitor himself; Susanna (28); and Arthur (15), plus four servants.

Davenport House

In 1871 their son Francis was farming and living at Davenport House on the corner of Headington Road and Pullen’s Lane in Headington (right).

John Marriott Davenport had built Davenport House in the 1840s, but although members of his family lived there, he himself appears to have only used it occasionally as a country retreat, and remained at 62 St Giles's Street. Davenport House had its own two-acre garden. and Davenport also owned the adjoining 19-acre “Oxford Field”, which stretched from Davenport House to the present Headley Way. (The house and land were bought by Headington School in 1920).

By 1881 all their sons had left home. John (36) was a barrister and married with children, living at 36 Lansdowne Crescent, Kensington; Alfred (31) was a solicitor, lodging at 8 West Chapel Street, Hanover Square; Thomas (29) was also married with children and living at 12 Canterbury Road, Oxford; and Arthur (25) was working at the Stock Exchange in London, but home on a visit. Later in 1881 Thomas Davenport succeeded his father as Clerk of the Peace for Oxford, and in 1882 he moved with his family into Davenport House in Headington.

John Davenport died in 1882:

† John Marriott Davenport died at 62 St Giles’s Street on 31 January 1882 at the age of 72 and was buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 4 February (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

He left a personal estate of £16,093 12s. 10d.

Memorial to John Davenport







Right: Davenport’s memorial plaque in St Mary Magdalen Church lists some of his many roles: Clerk of the Peace for the County of Oxford 1831–1881; Secretary to two successive Bishops of Oxford; and District Registrar of the Court of Probate.

The following obituary appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 4 February 1882:


We have this week to record, and we do so with much regret, the death of one of the oldest and most respected officials of the County of Oxford. We refer to Mr. John Marriott Davenport, who expired on Tuesday morning last, at his residence in St. Giles’s, in the 73rd year of his age. He had been for some months in failing health, and last week he was seized with an attack of paralysis, from the effects of which he never rallied. For upwards of half a century Mr. Davenport filled the office of Clerk of the Peace for the County of Oxford, besides taking a prominent part in other capacities in the administration of local affairs, and it may with truth be affirmed that his name had become a “household word” both in this and the adjoining Counties.

Mr. Davenport was born at Shirburn, in the County of Oxford, on the 20th of September, 1809. He was in due course articled to Mr. T. H. Taunton, Solicitor, of this City, who also held the office of Clerk of the Peace for the County. He applied himself with great zeal and diligence to the pursuit of his profession, and no stronger testimony can be cited of the reputation he had thus early acquired by his power of application, his practical knowledge, and his thorough mastery of details, than the fact that on the death of Mr. Taunton, he was appointed, in March 1831, although only 21 years of age, by the Earl of Macclesfield, the then Lord Lieutenant of the County, to succeed that gentleman in the laborious and responsible office of Clerk of the Peace of the County. Mr. Davenport’s early labours and duties were connected with the famous Otmoor Riots and the sweeping changes effected by the Reform Act of 1832; and since that date he has successfully organised and carried out the many important alterations in County administration which have from time to time been introduced by the Legislature. To enumerate the County business in which he took a more or less prominent part would be to write a local history of the last fifty years; suffice it to say that he performed his arduous duties with great ability, zeal, and discretion under four successive Chairmen of Quarter Sessions, namely, Mr. W.H. Ashhurst, the Right Hon. J. W. Henley, Mr. Hugh Hamersley, and Mr. C. E. Thornhill, with all of whom, as well as with the Magistrates, his relations were of the most intimate and cordial character. As a lawyer, Mr. Davenport was held in high esteem, not only by the members of the profession, but by the public generally, who had the greatest confidence in his opinion and advice. His long and varied experience in the conduct of County business gained for him a high reputation as a model Clerk of the Peace, and his opinion on intricate and difficult points of legal procedure and County administration was eagerly sought after by members of the profession filling similar positions in various parts of the Kingdom.

In the year 1855 Mr. Davenport was appointed by the late Bishop of Oxford as his Secretary, and under the rule of that able and energetic Prelate he laboured hard in conducting the business arrangements of the Diocese, and in assisting his Lordship in the organization of several valuable institutions in this and the adjoining Counties of Berks and Buckingham. On the translation of Bishop Wilberforce to the See of Winchester, Mr. Davenport was appointed Secretary to Bishop Mackarness, and held the office until 1877, when he was succeeded by his son, Mr. Thomas M. Davenport. From the year 1849 to the time of his death he filled the office of Deputy-Registrar of the Diocese, and among other important offices which he held was that of Clerk to the Committee of Visitors to the Lunatic Asylum at Littlemore from the foundation of the institution in 1846 to the end of 1881. For a long period he discharged the duties of Under-Sheriff of the County. He was first appointed to that office by the late James Morrell, Esq., of Headington Hill, in 1853, and such was the estimation in which he was held that he was reappointed annually by twenty-two High Sheriffs in succession, until 1875, when he relinquished the post, and was succeeded by his son, Mr. Thomas M. Davenport. His knowledge of the history and genealogy of the County families, titled and untitled, was as extensive as it was accurate and profound. This was displayed in an eminent degree in two works which he published a few years ago one being a complete list of the Lords Lieutenant and High Sheriffs of Oxfordshire from the Conquest to the year 1868, annotated with elaborate notes on County history, and “The Annals of Oxfordshire”, which appeared at a later period. These two works show considerable research, and exhibit in a condensed form a large acquaintance with local estates and the pedigrees of landed proprietors. They form a valuable addition to the history and records of this County. He was also the author of a history of the Oxford Militia, which is a very interesting and complete record of the origin and associations of the Regiment, and among other very useful works compiled by him were a collection of particulars relating to the Bridges of Oxfordshire, a history of the various Benefactions to Oxford County Prison, and “Notes upon the jurisdiction of the County Justices within the City of Oxford.”

Mr. Davenport was Registrar of the Court of Probate for the three Counties of Oxford, Berks, and Buckingham, having managed that well-conducted Registry for proving wills from the time of its creation in 1858. Amongst the Societies in which he took a lively interest we may mention the Society of Antiquaries, of which he was a Fellow, and the Incorporated Law Society of the United Kingdom. In 1876, when the latter Society held its annual provincial meeting in Oxford, Mr. Davenport read a valuable paper on “Oxford in reference to Law and Lawyers,” and at Cambridge in 1879 on “Bridges and Roads.” He was a Governor of the Radcliffe Infirmary, and also of the Warneford Asylum, in the management of which he took an active interest.

At the beginning of last year he was compelled by advancing age and infirmity to retire from the active and responsible duties in which he had been engaged for half a century. He accordingly resigned the post of Clerk of the Peace, carrying with him the respect of all with whom he had been brought in contact, and having the satisfaction of seeing his son, Mr. Thomas Davenport, elected his successor. At the Easter Quarter Sessions in April, 1881, the following resolution was unanimously adopted on the motion of Mr. Thornhill, seconded by the Marquis of Blandford:—

The Court desires to express to Mr. John Marriott Davenport (who has held the office of Clerk of the Peace since the year 1831) the grateful thanks of the Magistrates for the eminent services which he has rendered to the County and to the public during the past half century, and to place on record their complete appreciation of the energy, ability, and courtesy which he has on all occasions displayed in the performance of the duties of the office.

The Chairman (Mr. Thornhill) alluded in warm terms to the long and valuable services which Mr. Davenport had rendered to the County; and it is worthy of remark that only three of the Magistrates of the County now survive who were appointed prior to his entering upon the office of Clerk of the Peace in 1831, namely, the Right Hon. J. W. Henley, Lord Churchill, and the Earl of Abingdon. The general feeling of the Magistrates on his retirement was admirably expressed by Mr. Henley in his venerable age in a letter to Mr. Davenport, speaking as one who had personally known him from the commencement of his County duties.

The Magistrates’ Clerks at the various Petty Sessional Divisions in the County only a few weeks back presented him with a suitable testimonial, in which they acknowledged “the uniform courtesy and kindness extended to them in all official and private interviews.” If there has been one thing more marked in Mr. Davenport’s official life than his painstaking assiduity and conscientious devotion to the public service, it has been his unvarying courtesy, his suavity of manner, his kindly feeling and consideration towards others, as well as his tact and skill in dealing with those with whom he was brought in contact. His generous disposition, courteous manners, and geniality were characteristics which were fully recognised by the residents in the County, as well as his fellow townsmen, all of whom admired the strict integrity, honourable feeling, and undeviating rectitude of purpose which distinguished his long and useful career. It may further be truly said of him that in the discharge of his official duties he was strictly impartial, and never allowed party or personal considerations to bias his acts.

The funeral will take place this afternoon (Saturday) in the Saint Mary Magdalen Parish portion of Jericho Cemetery.

There was a report on the funeral in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 11 February 1882:

The funeral of Mr. John Marriott Davenport, who died on the 31st ult., took place on Saturday last at St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street, and was, in accordance with the wish of the family, of a simple and plain character. The body was conveyed to the Cemetery in a hearse, and the mourners walked behind it from the residence in St. Giles’s. Heading the procession were the Rev. W. E. D Carter, Rector of Sarsden and Rural Dean, the Rev. Edward Davenport (Wellington College), son of the deceased, and the Rev. H. E. Clayton, Curate of St Mary Magdalen, in their surplices, and the mourners were Mr. John D. Davenport, Mr. Arthur Davenport (sons of the deceased), Mr. Henry D. Davenport (brother of the deceased), and the Rev. George D. Davenport, Mr. H. J. C. Walker, and Mr. C. F. Venables, nephews. The service in the Chapel was impressively read by the Rev. W. E. D. Carter and the Rev. Edward Davenport, and at the graveside it was concluded by the former. A large number were present during the ceremony as a mark of respect, among whom were the Bishop of the Diocese, Sir Henry William Dashwood, Bart., Charles E. Thornhill, Esq. (Chairman of the Quarter Sessions), Herbert Parsons, Esq., the Rev. J. Griffiths, D.D., late Warden of Wadham, Major-General Rigaud, the Revds. J. C. Clutterbuck, W. Elton, F. Metcalfe, J. Dodd, R. St. John Tyrwhitt, J. Thorp (late Chaplain of the County Prison), W. W. Merry (Public Orator), J. Rigaud, and J. S. Treacher; Ald. Pike, Ald. Randall, Mr. W. H. Walsh, Mr. C. M. Owen (Chief Constable of the County), Mr. W. Ward, Mr. T. Hawkins, Dr. Ward (Warneford Asylum), Mr. E. Chapman (Frewen Hall), Mr. W. Peppercorn, Mr. W. B. Gamlen, Mr. J. W. Mawer, Mr. J. Briscoe, Mr. Emberlin, Mr. H. J. Tollit (County Surveyor), Mr. W. W. Robinson, Mr. Bruton (Diocesan Surveyor), Mr. Joseph Freeman, Mr. Patterson and Mr. Comfort (Churchwardens of St. Mary Magdalen), &c. Messrs. Bellman, Davis, Harris, Bossom, Barker, Green, Claridge, and Forty, clerks in Mr. Davenport’s offices, walked with the procession from St. Giles’s. Several beautiful wreaths of choice flowers were laid on the coffin previous to its being lowered into the vault; the coffin was of polished oak, with plain brass furniture, and bore the following inscription:—

of Oxford,
Born 29 September 1809,.
Died 31 January 1882.

The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Elliston, Cavell, & Son, Magdalen-street.

† Arthur Davenport, John Marriott Davenport’s youngest son, died at 62 St Giles’s Street on 11 March 1886 aged 31 and was buried with his father in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 16 March (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

His effects came to £16,093 12s. 10d.

At the time of the 1891 census Mrs Sophia Davenport (71) was living at 62 St Giles’s Street with three of her grown-up children: Susannah (48), Francis (44), who was an Inspector under the board of Agriculture, and Alfred (41), who was a solicitor. Also in the house were Alfred’s wife Sophia (40) and their children Frank (2) and Dorothy (1). They had five servants (a cook, parlourmaid, housemaid, groom, and nurse).

In 1901 Mrs Sophia Davenport (81) had only her daughter Susannah (58) living with her, plus three servants; but in 1911 she also had her son Francis (64), described as being of independent means. She died in 1916:

† Mrs Sophia Anne Davenport, the widow of John Marriott Davenport, died at 62 St Giles’s Street at the age of 98 on 1 December 1916 and was buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery with her husband and son on 5 December (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles Church).

Her effects came to £46,114 3s. 8d. Probably because of her advanced age, a photograph of Mrs Davenport was published in the Oxford Journal Illustrated of 13 December 1916.

See two separate graves in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery where three of John Marriott’s children are buried:

Francis Henry DAVENPORT (1846–1915) & Susannah Maria DAVENPORT (1843–1917)

Alfred DAVENPORT (1849–1932)

John Davenport’s eldest son John Davies Davenport was a Fellow of Brasenose from 1864 to 1875
and a Barrister at Lincoln’s Inn from 1866

More on his second son Thomas Marriott Davenport and his twelve children



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