Walter PEPPERCORN (1844–1911)
St Michael section: Row 16, Grave D49½

Walter Peppercorn








Walter Peppercorn was born at Eaton Socon, St Neots (oiginally in Bedfordshire but now in Cambridgshire) on 15 June 1844. He was the son of William Peppercorn (born in St Neots in 1804/5) and Jane Hutchinson (born in Durham in 1806/7) who were married at St Oswald’s, Durham on 4 April 1832, with an announcement in The Times. They had the following children:

  • Mary Ann Peppercorn (born at Eaton Socon, St Neots in 1833/4)
  • Jane Peppercorn (born at Eaton Socon, St Neots in 1834/5)
  • William Alexander Peppercorn (born at Eaton Socon, St Neots in 1835/6)
  • Twin: John Hutchinson James Peppercorn,
             aka John Hutchinson Fiennes Peppercorn (born at Eaton Socon, St Neots in 1837/8)
  • Twin: Emmeline Peppercorn (born at Eaton Socon, St Neots in 1837/8)
  • Walter Peppercorn (born at Eaton Socon, St Neots in 1844)
  • Alfred Thomas Peppercorn (born at Eaton Socon, St Neots on 5 May 1851 and baptised there on 2 June).
Walter’s father William Peppercorn

William Peppercorn was a solicitor, and his was an important family in St Neot’s (there is a Peppercorn’s Lane there, just as there is a Peppercorn Avenue in Oxford). His family firm had handled the abortive auction of Headington Manor House in 1836, and in 1848 he was Steward of the Manor of Headington, and in 1849 bought the Lordship of the Manor from Thomas Henry Whorwood. Walter’s father is listed in directories as one of the major landowners in Headington from about 1850, and the rent book of that year showed that he then owned the 120-acre Manor Farm in Headington; a brickyard comprising 129 acres on the Marston Road (formerly Tilehouse Farm); and other smaller properties, including as a house and land of 35 acres on Headington Hill. (Some of this he must have bought at the second sale of the Manor in 1846.)

Despite being Lord of the Manor, Walter’s father William Peppercorn did not own the Headington Manor House itself, and probably never lived in the area. He remained a solicitor in St Neots.

Walter Peppercorn

At the time of the 1851 census Walter (6) was living at Eaton Socon with his parents William (46) and Jane (44) and four of his siblings: Mary Ann (17), Jane (16), and Emmeline. His older brother John (13) was at John Thornton’s boarding school in St Neots, and his younger brother Alfred was born later that year.

Walter became a solicitor like his father. He never married, and the censuses indicate that he had no permanent home. At the time of the 1861 census, he was an articled clerk of 16, lodging in the home of a railway clerk at Burton-on-Trent. His parents were then still living at North Road, Eaton Socon with Walter's older siblings William (25) and John (23), who were both general clerks, Emmeline (23), and Alfred (9).

Walter’s father William Peppercorn died at St Neot’s on 18 July 1864, and his Trustees became Lord of the Manor of Headington. It was probably then that Walter Peppercorn became Steward of the Manor: he certainly had that role by September 1869.

Walter's mother Jane Peppercorn died on 27 August 1870. On 1 October 1870 his younger brother Alfred Thomas Peppercorn (19), who had been educated at Bedfordshire School and Uppingham, was admitted as a pensioner (commoner) at Jesus College, Cambridge.

At the time of the 1871 census Walter (26), described as a solicitor, was paying a visit to the home in Kingston, Surrey of another solicitor, Henry Beaumont. Webster’s Directory for 1872 lists “Peppercorn, W, solicitor” at the south-west end of Cornmarket, next to St Martin’s Church.

On 12 July 1876, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) recorded in his diary:

We [Charles Dodgson himself and his youngest brother Edwin] went by rail to Culham, walking back, but were so late at Iffley that we begged a lift, our friend was Mr. Peppercorn, a solicitor, and honorary secretary to the Dramatic Club.

By 1876 Walter Peppercorn was a member of the Apollo Lodge of Freemasons, and by 1878 he was Solicitor to the Oxford Conservative Registration Association, and in 1886 was the election agent for the Hon. Frank Parker.

In 1881 when he was 36, Walter was staying at North Road in his home village of Eaton Socon with his older brother John and his wife and five children.

His older brother William Alexander Peppercorn died on 19 September 1883.

On the census night of 1891 Walter (46) was staying at the Royal Bath Hotel, Bournemouth.

By 1899 Walter Peppercorn was listed as a solicitor at 27 New Inn Hall Street (now 17 St Michael's Street), Oxford, and he continued to act as Steward of the Manor of Headington.

By 1901 Walter Peppercorn had been appointed a director of the Randolph Hotel in Oxford and in that year's census was listed at living at the hotel.

His other two brothers died before the next census:

  • John Hutchinson Fiennes Peppercorn died at St Neots at the age of 69 on 19 August 1907;
    his effects came to £11,832 14s. 1d.
  • The Revd Alfred Peppercorn died at the Rectory, Stoke Poges, Leominster at the age of 56 on 14 February 1908; his effects came to £4,384 2s. 8d.

Walter himself died at his suite at the Randolph Hotel in 1911:

† Walter Peppercorn died on 17 January 1911 at the Randolph Hotel, at the age of 66 and was buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).

His effects came to £25,291 6s. 2d., and his probate record describes him as being “of the Randolph Hotel and 17 St Michaels-street”. It was the latter address that gave him the right to be buried in the St Michael section of the cemetery.

The following notice of his death was published in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 18 January 1911:


We greatly regret to record the death of Mr. W. Peppercorn, which took place last night at the Randolph Hotel, of which he was a director, and where he resided. Mr. Peppercorn was Lord* of the Manor of Headington. By profession he was a solicitor, having an office in St. Michael-street, but he never undertook Court cases, his practice being confined to non-contentious business. He took much interest in the Radcliffe Infirmary, and was a member of the Management Committee. In politics Mr. Peppercorn was a Conservative, and for several years he undertook the registration work of the Conservative party in South Oxon. He was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the “Oxford Times” Co., Ltd.

* That newspaper the following week published a photograph of Walter Peppercorn on horseback and described him as a prominent mason and Steward of the Manor of Headington, which is more accurate than the above notice; it was only his father William Peppercorn who was actually Lord.

Following Walter’s death his father’s Trustees auctioned the remnant of the Headington manorial rights at the Golden Cross Hotel in Oxford, and they were purchased by Colonel James Hoole, who already owned Headington Manor House.



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