Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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1862 - Clifton College founded on September 30th. Many of its tutors were instrumental in the formation of Clifton Rugby Club 10 years later.

Clifton College

Above an engraving of proposals for a new college at Clifton circa 1860

Above from a picture painted by Playmouth in 1830. On the site of the School House stood The Free Gardeners Arms which was demolished in 1862. The only building to be demolished to construct the new Clifton College.

Back Row (L-R): A.Marshall, Rev B.Hartnell, Rev M.H.Begbie, Rev T.E.Brown, Rev E.A.Abbott, C.G.Blackader, Rev R.B.Poole, W.R.Collyer, E.T.Marshall, H.G.Dakyns, P.A.Phelps. Front: Rev J.Percival (Headmaster)

Above Masters of Clifton College in 1865

If you could date rugby at Clifton back to one man it would be Henry Graham Dakyns, above. He started rugby at Clifton College in 1862 and the College in turn started the club. For more on Dakyns click here

Above Clifton College in 1866

Above Clifton College today.

The club crest and motto was adopted in 1873. It is not known what the origin of the motto, but at the time of the clubs formation the honorary secretary was A.C.St.Paul, ex Clifton College, a classical scholar perhaps, who turned the well known Latin saying Dum Vivimus Vivamus "Let us live while we live" (Let us enjoy life) into Dum Ludimus Ludamus "While we play let us play".

Above there are several crescent moons adorned on the buildings around Clifton College. The 1922 Club President Col. Castle thought is that it had been a happy flight of fancy possibly based on the heraldic definition of the crescent as "a bearing in the form of a young or new moon".

Crescent Moons were in the house badges of Russells and South Town at Clifton College.

Above left Russell's (Yellow and Black).

Above right South Town (Green and Black)

Above a room at South Town, Clifton College. Note Crescent Moons on fireplace.

The fact is that the Clifton RFC badge was copied from the symbol that adorns Clifton College. Clifton College, in turn, borrowed these symbols and several names from Rugby School. The first headmaster and many masters of Clifton College came from Rugby School and brought with them these names and symbols. There still exists in Rugby today a Crescent School. The Crescent was founded in 1947, originally to provide a place of education for the young children of the Masters of Rugby School, and was first housed there in the 'Old Sanitarium' on Horton Crescent. It is now an Independant Day School for 4-11 year olds, see However this symbol goes back much further. It is the house emblem for School Field (Rupert Brooke's House). It has been in existence since before 1852, when the current house was built at the edge of the School Close. House crests evolved in the 1840's, when sports dress came into being. Houses, which were created by Thomas Arnold, took the name of their House Master, and when Percival, Clifton College first headmaster, taught as an Assistant Master at Rugby School in the 1860's, the house was named Arnold's (after C.T. Arnold).

The club was also founded during a period in history when it was fashionable to have these Mediterranean symbols on crests and badges. Bristol Saracens were formed in 1896 and had the Crescent Moon as their crest. Bath were called on their foundation in 1865, Bath Zouaves (The name of an elite light infantry corps of the French army drawn from the Berber tribes of Algeria). They're colours even echoed the Zouave colours of dark blue jerseys and red caps. Brunels Clifton Suspension Bridge opened in 1864 originally had an Egyptian theme. Unfortunately the Egyptian ornamentation was removed to cut costs.


Left to Right: Charles Brandon Lea Tylecote, James Isaac Cohen, Alfred Wallis Paul, G.T.Clerk, Charles Gosse, Reginald Cox and Arthur Edward Peile.

Above the Clifton College "Caps of 1865". Cohen, Peile and Paul have the School House Anchor on their jerseys, Clerk has Brown's House Crescent and Star. None of these players went on to play for Clifton RFC, they had left Clifton College several years before the present club was founded. Although A.W.Paul was brother of the Clifton RFC player W.S.Paul who appears on the 1873-74 photo of Clifton RFC.

Charles Brandon Lea Tylecote

b.13.11.1847. d.?. Clifton College 1863-1867. Played cricket for Beds and Herts. Brother of England cricketer Edward Tylecote (also Clifton College).

James Isaac Cohen

b.19.4.1847. d 1927. Clifton College 1863-1866. Asst Master Rugby 1871-72. Became Vicar in 1893.

Alfred Wallis Paul

b.26.5.1847. d.1912. Clifton College 1862-1866. Diplomat in India and China. Member Council of Clifton College 1896-1902.


b.?. d.1897. Clifton College 1863-1865.

Charles Gosse

b.25.12.1848. d.1885. Clifton College 1862-1848. Doctor Adelade, Australia. Died from injuries received in a carriage accident, in which he saved his daughters life. He was one of the first intake of 76 pupils into Clifton College in September 1862.

Reginald Cox

b.?. d.?. Clifton College 1863-1865.

Arthur Edward Peile

b.24.8.1848. d.1874. Clifton College 1862-1866. Solicitor Bombay India. He was one of the first intake of 76 pupils into Clifton College in September 1862.

Our first international James Arthur Bush was awarded his Clifton College cap in 1867.

1869 - Clifton Rugby Club founded but disbanded after 2 seasons due to the lack of players. This club played in mauve jerseys with wide black diagonal stripes and a skull and crossbones on the left breast. After this club collapsed several of its players went on to help form the present club. It should be noted that the Skull and Crossbones badge is another Rugby School badge (School House) and was also used as the first badge of the Barbarians. So many rugby clubs have paid homage to Rugby School in this way. It should also be noted that England wear all white because Rugby School did and the England badge of a red rose is taken from the crest of Rugby School which in turn takes it from the coat of arms of its founder Lawrence Sheriff.

Among those that played for Clifton between 1869 and 1871 were

Frank William Wills Born 1852. Son of Henry Overton Wills. An Architect. Married Sara Rebecca Dobell (died 1930). Lord Mayor of Bristol in 1910-11. Knighted. Went on to play for the Clifton club founded in 1872. Died 1932. Son Frank Oliver Wills also played for Clifton.
Stephen Prust Wills Born 1847. Eldest brother of Frank William Wills. Son of Henry Overton Wills. Died 1922.
Francis Richardson Cross Brother of Joseph (see below). Born 26th November 1847 at Merriott Vicarge, Somerset. His father, Joseph, was vicar of All Saints Church, Merriott from 1832-1855. Educated at King's College, London. In 1881 living at 5 West Mall, Clifton. Surgeon & Dentist. Married Maria who died on 26th July 1864. Married Eva Beatrice (born 22nd Dec. 1881. Died 27th Dec. 1920). He was Sheriff of Bristol in 1897. He died on 12th July 1931 at his home, Worcester House in Clifton, Bristol after a bout of influenza. He was a famous occultist. His funeral service took place at Bristol Cathedral on 16th July 1931 and he is buried at Alveston, Glos. For more click here
Joseph John Cross Born 23rd February 1849, Merriott, Somerset. Master of Newton Abbott School. Played twice for Gloucestershire at Cricket in 1870. In 1871 an undergraduate in Oxford boarding with William Henderson (see below). Died 2nd November 1918, Lambridge, Bath.
Thomas M. Cross Brother of Joseph (see above). Born abt. 1851 Merriott, Somerset. Master of Blundell's School.
John Curtis
Born abt. 1851. Brother of Michael M. Curtis (see below). In 1861 living at Springfield Villa, Cotham Brow, Bristol. In 1871 the Curtis family lived at 101 Whiteladies Road, Clifton. Now a Corel Betting Shop. He married Beatrice Anna Fell from Ashby de la Zouch and, like his father (and grandfather) became an accountant. No children are associated with the marriage.
Michael Martyn Curtis

Born 11th November 1853. Educated Malvern College. Son of Public Accountant John Curtis of Bristol. In 1861 the Curtis family lived at Springfield Villa, . In 1871 the Curtis family lived at 101 Whiteladies Road, Clifton. Now a Corel Betting Shop.

Above 101 Whiteladies Road, Clifton. The shop front extensions did not exit in 1872

He became ill with "mania". He is recorded as being present in the Brislington House Asylum in the 1891 census.

John Edmund Jose Born abt 1847 in Clifton. A tobacco merchant. During the 1891 census living at Cressington Park, Garston, Lancashire.
Walter Stuckey Paul Born 4th Novemver 1849. Died 1925. Clifton College. 1863-1866. Architect and Surveyor, Bristol. Played rugby for Gloucestershire.

Above 13 Hurle Crescent, Clifton, home of W.S.Paul

His wife Marion Colthurst Paul died on Feb 15th 1940 at 13 Hurle Crescent. She was the daughter of James Godwin of Stoke Bishop. She was buried at St. Alban's Church, Westbury Park.

Charles T.Henderson Born 1849 in Bristol. A law student. In 1871 living at Flintham Lodge, Apsley Road, Clifton, Bristol.
Alfred Henderson Born 1852 in Bristol. In 1861 a boarder at Ellenborough Boys School, Westbury-on-Trym. A law student. In 1871 living at Flintham Lodge, Apsley Road, Clifton, Bristol.
William Henderson Born 1850 in Bristol. A law student. In 1871 living at Flintham Lodge, Apsley Road, Clifton, Bristol.
Frank Atkins Believed to be Francis Hardings Martin Atkins. Born abt. 1851 in Berkshire. In 1861 living at 2 Lansdown Place, Clifton, which is in Victoria Square. The Budd family were living at no. 13 at the time. His widowed mother, Caroline, is listed as a Landed Proprietor.