Webber PATTERSON (1834–1886)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 29, Grave L69½

Webber Patterson

WEBBER PATTERSON / DIED APRIL 27 1886 / AGED 51 YEARS

[On Cross]: JESU MERCY [On short edges]: + I LOOK / FOR THE / RESURRECTION / OF THE DEAD // AND THE / LIFE OF THE / WORLD TO COME

Webber Patterson was born in Chatham in Kent on 30 June 1834 and baptised on 6 August that year. He was named after his paternal grandmother, whose maiden name was Webber. His parents were Robert Patterson (born in Brixham, Devon in 1801 and baptised there on 24 December) and Jane Bowman (born in Devonport in 1803/4). They were married at Minster-in-Sheppey, Kent on 11 August 1822 and had the following children:

  • Edwin Patterson (born in Sheerness, Kent in May 1823 and baptised there in 1824)
  • Robert Patterson (born in Chatham, Kent in c.1826 and baptised there on 17 September 1826)
  • Thomas Bowman Patterson (born in Deptford, Kent on 4 May 1828 and baptised there on 1 July 1829)
  • George Patterson (born in Deptford, Kent on 18 March 1830 and baptised at Chatham on 1 August 1832)
  • Jane Alice Patterson (born in Chatham, Kent in July 1832 and baptised there on 1 August with her brother George)
  • Webber Patterson (born in Chatham, Kent in 1834 and baptised there on 6 August)
  • Isabel Elizabeth Patterson (born at Chatham, Kent in 1836 and baptised there on 18 May)
  • Warren Patterson (born in Semer in Suffolk in 1839 and baptised there on 20 March).

When Webber was born in 1834 his father was working for the Convict Establishment as First Mate on the “Fortitude” prison hulk at Chatham. When Webber was three years old the family moved to Semer in Suffolk, where his father had been appointed Governor of the Cosford Union Workhouse; his mother took on the duties of Matron at that workhouse. At the time of the 1841 census Webber Patterson (6) and his brother Warren (2) were living with their parents in the workhouse staff accommodation.

Webber’s parents were still in charge of Semer Workhouse in 1851, and two other members of his family were now employed there: Webber’s brother George (21) was the schoolmaster, and his mother’s unmarried sister Isabella Gowman (41) was the schoolmistress. Webber himself, though, had already left home at the age of sixteen and was living in Oxford, where he was to spend the rest of his life: he was now a draper’s assistant, living over the original Elliston & Cavell shop in Magdalen Street with the family of John Cavell, who had also been born in Suffolk. Also living over the shop were 22 other draper’s assistants and an apprentice, two clerks, a cashier, and porter, and three house servants and a waiter.

In 1861 when he was 26, and in 1871 when he was 36, Webber Patterson was still an unmarried draper’s assistant, living in much the same circumstances with his employer and other assistants over the large Magdalen Street shop.

44 Broad Street

In the late 1870s Webber Patterson branched out on his own and took over Thorp & Waldie’s old business at 44 Broad Street (right). This was one of the large group of houses demolished in 1937 to make way for the New Bodleian Library.

Elliston’s & Cavell’s dealt with funerals as part of their service, and Webber continued this practice: at St Sepulchre’s, he organized the big funerals of Canon Mozley in January 1878, of Canon Ridgway in 1881, and of J. H. Parker in 1884; and also handled the funeral of the drowned undergraduate Edward Schönberg in 1886. He was probably responsible for many more funerals at St Sepulchre’s between 1878 and 1886, but only those of people with published obituaries can be identified.

Webber Patterson clock

On 11 May 1877 the Members of the Oxford Choral Society presented Webber Patterson with a clock (left, and inscription below).

Clock inscription

The two photographs of the clock, as well as some of the information on this page, were provided by a great-great-niece of Webber Patterson

At the time of the 1881 census Webber Patterson (46) was living over his shop at 44 Broad Street and was described as a mercer employing three men, two women, and a boy. A dressmaker, two draper’s assistants, a draper’s porter, plus a cook and general servant, lived over the shop with him. Meanwhile his brother Thomas Bowman Patterson (1829) was a draper in Fore Street, Tiverton, living over his shop with his wife Mary and their seven children.

In 1881 Patterson was appointed Churchwarden of St Mary Magdalen Church, and in 1882 he was elected a town councillor for the Central Ward.

About seven years after branching out on his own, Patterson died:

† Webber Patterson died at 44 Broad Street at the age of 51 on 27 April 1886 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 1 May (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

His personal estate came to £3,824 11s. 9d., and his will was proved by his brother Thomas Bowman Patterson, now a draper of Devon. The following report on his death appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 1 May 1886

DEATH OF MR. WEBBER PATTERSON. — We regret to announce the death of Mr. Patterson, which took place at his residence in Broad-street on Tuesday morning last, in the 52nd year of his age, after an illness of five months’ duration. Mr. Patterson was much respected in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, where he long resided, and for five years served the office of Churchwarden, and for upwards of 20 years was a member of the Parish Choir. He was also one of the representatives of the Central Ward in the Town Council, having been returned at the head of the poll in November, 1882, and was re-elected in November last, Mr. Sheard being returned on each occasion as his colleague. The funeral will take place to-day (Saturday), when the body will be taken to St. Mary Magdalen Church, and the first part of the Burial Service read at 12.15, and the concluding part will be said at the grave at St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street.

A report on Patterson’s funeral appeared in the next edition on 8 May 1886:

FUNERAL OF MR. WEBBER PATTERSON—The interment of the late Mr. Councillor Patterson, of Broad-street, took place at St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street, on Saturday last, at 12 o’clock. The first part of the burial service was celebrated in St. Mary Magdalen Church by the Vicar (the Rev. H. E. Clayton), and was attended by the Mayor, Sheriff, and most of the Corporation, as a mark of respect. The hymns sung in the Church were “Jesus lives,” and “Now the labourer’s task is o’er.” The mourners were Mr. T. B. Patterson (brother of the deceased), Miss and Miss Mabel Patterson (nieces), Mr. Mayne (uncle), and Mr. Ward and the employés at the deceased’s place of business. The coffin was covered with wreaths of choice flowers, among those who gave them being the Misses Patterson, the Clarendon Club, Mr. and Mrs. Evans, Captain Airey (primroses) and the employés above mentioned. At the conclusion of the portion of the service in the Church, the Dead March in Saul was played on the organ, and the body was taken to the Cemetery, and the remainder of the service was said at the grave by the Rev. H. E. Clayton. There was a large concourse of people in the Cemetery to pay a last tribute of respect to one who for many years was regarded with universal esteem in this City.

A letter written after his death said that at the funeral “The choir was strengthened by some voices from Magdalen College choir and several other friends of Webber”.

Richard Ward took over Patterson’s business for a year, then in 1890 an antique and furniture dealer moved into the shop.


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