In Memory

Herbert Clifford

My great-grandfather Herbert Clifford, age 13 in 1904, photo © Barnardos

I’m dedicating my walk to the memory of my great-grandfather Herbert Clifford, who disappeared in 1920 and was never heard from again.

I once asked my grandfather about his Dad but he revealed very little and was hesitant to talk about him at all.  Details were thin on the ground: he was born in England, married in Canada, went off to war for half a decade and then abandoned his young family within months of returning. Times were tough but the family carried on, and as the years passed the memories of Herbert slowly faded away. But the mystery surrounding my great-grandfather has always intrigued me and I felt there must be more to his story – and indeed there is.

My search for Herbert began in the early 90’s but it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve made any significant progress.  It’s been a fascinating, and at times troubling experience, but one I highly recommend to others who share an interest in their ancestors.  I’ve devoted hundreds of hours to uncovering the truth and in the process I’ve grown quite close to Herbert, a positive side-effect of helping bring someone back to life.  One of the discoveries was that Herbert and I share a restless nature and a taste for adventure.

Somehow I just know he would approve of walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats and so his photo will accompany me on all 1100 miles.  And as I walk I’ll tell his story, or at least part of his story, because it has no ending – happy or otherwise – for now.

7 thoughts on “In Memory

  1. Pingback: I’ll be off before the milk is « End to End in 2010

  2. Hi Steve,
    exploring your blog we read about your goal to walk in the ‘atmosphere’ of your ancestors.
    A fine reason to walk. Hope you’ll find out more.
    greetings Lucie & Bert

    • Hi Bert & Lucie … up until now its been 95% walking and 5% research but I will have nearly two weeks to delve into it once the walk ends on Wednesday. Cheers, Steve.

  3. Hi Steve,

    I read in amazement of what you have done, my heartiest congratulations. I don’t know if any of my family as responded to you yet or not. Briefly my parents were Henry George Dobson “Harry”, Florence Louise Dobson, Alan Dobson, Edward Dobson “Ted”, Brenda Jean Dobson and myself Brian David Dobson. I emigrated to Australia in 1968 aged 18 and i have been here ever since.
    I would dearly love to see the family tree. If i can be of any assistance to you i am more than happy to oblige.



    • Hi Brian,
      It’s great to make contact with another long-lost cousin! I will follow up your post by email. Cheers, Steve.


    Hi steve
    I am to a clifford and have cliffords living in Canada also have a brother steven clifford. I have not got any news for you yet steven but will keep my eye out for you. there is an association called cliffford association they maybe Able to help you. I am new to family research and my cliffords came from lambeth area.
    the above website is interesting and would love you to share some of your letters to read.

    • Hi Gill,

      Thanks for your comments and the link to the website which I will definitely check out. I have exchanged emails with the Clifford Association in the past and plan to again since I’ve recently made some progress in tracing the Clifford’s of Gloucestershire. Unfortunately no new information on Herbert though.

      Herbert’s mother Sophia married a William Dobson in the late 1890’s and for a short time the family lived in the Lambeth area. Several years ago I spent a few hours looking for their old residence however the street had been redeveloped sometime in the 1930’s. Fortunately I did find some old photos in the Lambeth archives.

      Thanks again,

Leave a Reply to Gillian Roberts Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s