Poppy

First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Leonard Marriott DAVENPORT (1889–1916)

Some of this information is repeated under the entry for Leonard brother Hugh Davenport, who also died in the war

Leonard Davenport

Leonard Marriott Davenport was born in Davenport House at the top of Headington Hill in 1889, the fifth son of Thomas Marriott Davenport (born in St Peter-in-the East parish, Oxford in 1841) and Emily Jemima Clutterbuck (born in Watford in 1850 and baptised at Long Wittenham near Abingdon on 8 December).

Leonard’s father was a solicitor and Clerk to Oxfordshire County Council and the son of John Marriott Davenport, and his mother was the youngest daughter of James Clutterbuck, the Vicar of Long Wittenham, and his wife Louisa.

On 23 August 1877 at Long Wittenham Church, Leonard’s parents Thomas Marriott Davenport (35) and Emily Jemima Clutterbuck (26) were married. They had twelve children:

  • Henry Reginald Davenport (born at 12 Canterbury Road, Oxford in 1878 and baptised at Long Wittenham on 23 August); died aged 20 in 1900 and buried at Headington Cemetery on 13 January
  • Lucy Catherine Davenport (born at 12 Canterbury Road, Oxford on 10 November 1879 and baptised at SS Philip & James Church on 2 January 1880)
  • Gilbert Capell Davenport (born at 12 Canterbury Road, Oxford on 17 April 1881 and baptised at SS Philip & James Church on 22 May)
  • Robert Clutterbuck Davenport (born at Long Wittenham on 13 April 1882 and baptised there on 7 May)
  • Violet Louisa Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington on 17 May 1883 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 24 June);
    died aged ten in 1894 and buried at Headington Cemetery on 29 January
  • Norah Emily Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington on 6 October 1884 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 14 December)
  • Hugh Nares Davenport (born at Davenport House on 18 February 1886 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 11 April)
  • Evelyn Mary Davenport (born at Davenport House on 29 March 1887 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 30 April)
  • Leonard Marriott Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington on 8 April 1889 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 9 May)
  • James Salter Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington on 8 July 1890 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 12 August)
  • Cecil Thornhill Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington on 3 February 1892 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 10 March)
  • Rachel Margaret Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington on 15 April 1895 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 27 May).

When they were first married, Leonard’s parents lived at 12 Canterbury Road in North Oxford.

Davenport House

In 1881 Leonard’s father Thomas succeeded his own father, John Marriott Davenport, as Clerk of the Peace for Oxford, and in 1882 he moved with his family into Davenport House (left) at the top of Headington Hill, which had been formerly occupied by his brother. Its lands stretched as far as the White Horse pub.

At the time of the 1891 census Leonard’s parents were away from home at the Beach Mansions Hotel, South Parade, Portsea with Gilbert (9) and Robert (8). Five of their younger children, including one-year-old Leonard, were left at Davenport House with the family’s seven servants (a nurse, cook, parlour maid, house maid, kitchen maid, under nurse, and nursery maid); while Louisa (11) was staying at Long Wittenham with her widowed grandmother Louisa Clutterbuck (82).

His eldest brother Henry Reginald Davenport died of typhoid at the age of 21 at the Acland Home in Oxford and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 13 January 1900.

At the time of the 1901 census, Leonard himself (11) was Lockers Park School in Hemel Hempstead. Two of his other siblings were at boarding school: Norah (16) was at Cheltenham Ladies College and Hugh (15) was at Marlborough College. Two of his brothers were in employment: Robert (18) was a midshipman at sea on the Niobe, and Gilbert (19) was a trainee land agent lodging at South Damerham, Hampshire. Leonard’s parents were still at Davenport House with their other five children and six servants.

From 1903 to 1907 Leonard was at Rugby School, and he then spent four years in the South Eastern Agricultural College, Wye, Kent, obtaining his diploma there in 1910.

He then obtained a government appointment as a Surveyor, and in 1911 was sent to the Federated Malay States. He was therefore abroad at the time of the 1911 census, but his parents were still living in Davenport House with their daughters Lucy (31), Norah (26), and Evelyn (24). Their son Hugh (25 was a law student; Cecil (19) was an Oxford undergraduate); Gilbert (29) was a land agent near Salisbury (with a pupil of his own and two servants); Robert (28) was a naval lieutenant on the Blanche; and James (21) was probably abroad. Their youngest daughter Rachel (15) was boarding at St Winifred’s School, Eastbourne. None of the children was yet married.

Leonard Davenport returned home to Headington from the Malay States in April 1915 and obtained leave from the Colonial office to take a Commission.

Poppy Leonard Davenport was gazetted to the Royal Irish Fusiliers in June 1915 as a Second Lieutenant. He went to the Front in France in May 1916, and was attached to the 7th Battalion of his regiment. He took part in the Battle of the Somme, and his sergeant wrote as follows about his bravery at Loos in August 1916, ammunition had to be taken up to another regiment under the heaviest shell fire he had experienced:

Many a brave man felt the duty a very hard one, but Lieut. Davenport was undaunted, and, taking a box of ammunition himself, got over the top, thus inspiring the men, who were much attached to him, and followed him over, thus saving a serious situation. I shall always remember him as one of the bravest and best Officers I have served under.

Grave of Leonard Davenport

 

A month later Leonard Davenport was wounded at Falfemont Farm while leading his men up to their objective. He died of wounds at the 21st Casualty Clearing Station in France the next day (6 September 1916) at the age of 27.

He is buried in La Neuville British Cemetery, Corbie (II. C. 23).

He is listed on the roll of honour of All Saints’ Church, Highfield.

Left: Photograph of Leonard Davenport’s grave in Corbie, France, kindly supplied by British War Graves. The text reads:

[Emblem of the
Royal Irish Fusiliers]

SECOND LIEUTENANT
L. M. DAVENPORT
ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS
6TH SEPTEMBER 1916

FIFTH SON OF
THOMAS M. DAVENPORT
OF HEADINGTON HILL, OXFORD
AGED 27.

This is one of the 40% of war graves that bears a personal message at the end (for which the family had to pay 3½d per letter).

Leonard Davenport

Administration was granted in London to his eldest sister, Lucy Catherine Davenport, on 13 January 1917. He left £4,158 16s. 11d.

By 1915 all six surviving Davenport sons were serving as officers in the First World War. Leonard Davenport’s older brother Hugh also died in the First World War, at the age of 32 on 24 March 1918, but his other brothers survived. Gilbert Capell Davenport served with the 7th Hampshire Regiment from 1914 in India; and his youngest brother Cecil was a Second Lieutenant in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry by 1916.

Leonard Davenport’s parents were spared from seeing two of their sons killed, as his father Thomas Davenport died at Davenport House in 1913 and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 1 September, and his mother Emily died at the Acland Home in 1915 and was buried with her husband on 17 August.


Postscript

All Saints' board

Leonard’s surviving siblings
  • Lucy Catherine Davenport (born 1879) is the “Miss Davenport” listed at Davenport House in Kelly's Directory from 1916 to 1919. In 1920 the she sold the whole Davenport House estate to Headington School. She became a Justice of the Peace. She died in the Abingdon registration district on 23 February 1965 at the age of 85 and was buried in Headington Cemetery in the grave of her sister Violet (d.1894) and brother Henry (d.1900) No mention is made on the grave of her two brothers who died in the First World War and were buried overseas.
  • Gilbert Capell Davenport (born 1881) was a Land Agent. On 21st  June 1921 at Damerham near Salisbury he married Mrs Dorothy Fyffe Purcell née Fyffe Souter, widow of Major R.G. Purcell, M.C., R.G.A., and they had two children: Hugh C. Davenport (reg. Fordingbridge third quarter of 1922) and Dorothy M. Davenport (reg. fourth quarter of 1928). He came back to Oxford in the mid-1920s to open the Oxford office of Carter Jonas, and from 1936 he lived in Headington again, at Quarry House in Quarry Road. Gilbert Capell Davenport died at that address on 20 August 1946, and his wife was his executor.
  • Robert Clutterbuck Davenport (born 1882), who joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman at the age of 15, rose to be a Vice-Admiral. He married Mrs Gwladys Mabel Halahan (née Gwatkin-Williams, the widow of Robert Crosby Halahan) on 2 October 1917 at Stebbington, Hampshire, England, and they had just one son, Dudley Leslie Davenport (1919–1990), who became a Rear Admiral. Robert Clutterbuck Davenport died on 15 June 1965. See Who Was Who for both father and son.
  • Nora Emily Davenport (born 1884) never married. She became a technical illustrator and lived in London. She died on 23 March 1963 in Abingdon.
  • Evelyn Mary Davenport (born 1887) never married. She died at Bognor Regis on 21 February 1971.
  • Hugh Nares Davenport (born 1889) also died in the First World War: see separate page
  • James Salter Davenport (born 1890) was a professional soldier, and rose to be a Brigadier. He died in Wellingborough on 3 April 1954.
  • Cecil Thornhill Davenport (born 1892) became a District Commissioner in Kenya. He married Margaret Scott Pearson in Kenya on 12 July 1938. He died at 97 Barnham Road, Bognor Regis on 2 March 1975.
  • Rachel Margaret Davenport (born 1895) never married, and became a professional entomologist. She died in Reading on 10 July 1958.

See also

Back to All Saints’ Church, Highfield roll of honour

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website