Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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William Octavius Moberly



Career Record: P1, W1, D0, L0, Tries 0, Cons 0, Pen 0, DropG 0

5th Feb 1872 v Scotland (The Oval, London) W W 1G,1DG,2T-0 (Att 4000)





William Octavius Moberly selected for England. Born 14th November 1850 at Shoreham-by-Sea. Died 2nd February 1914 at Polurrian, Mullion, Cornwall. His only cap was in the 2nd international fixture in history while he was playing for Ravenscourt Park. A game more noted for its controversial refereeing than anything else. Moberly was an Oxford Blue in 1872. He captained the Oxford rugby XV at the very first Varsity match v Cambridge on the 10th February 1872 at the Parks in Oxford. On November 7th 1869 Oxford University made a set of rules at the foundation of their rugby team. Rule 2 stated "that the Captain be always a Rugbeian". Rugby School provided captains for Oxford from 1869 until 1933.

Moberly's Great Grandfather, Edward, was a merchant in St Petersburg, Russia where he married Sarah CAYLEY (the daughter of the Consul-General). When war endangered St Petersburg, the family returned to live in Ham, England, but in 1814 things seemed safer, so Edward and Sarah and their daughters returned to Russia, leaving the boys at school in England. He became British Consul in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1820.

His father, Rev. Robert Charles Edward Moberly married Catherine Temple on 3rd July 1849. His father, born on 18th May 1820 in Newington, Middlesex, the son of William Moberly and Anna Prescott; he attended Balliol College, Oxford, matriculating on 8th March 1837 aged 16. He was a Scholar from 1838 until 1844 and graduated BA in 1841 and MA in 1856. According to the 1851 Census, his father was a Priest and Schoolmaster at Park House School, New Shoreham, Shoreham, Sussex. He was Assistant Master at Rugby School from 1859 until 1879, then Rector of Coln Rogers, Gloucestershire from 1874 until 1883.  Charles died on 19th July 1893 in Headington. His mother, Catherine, was born on 6th August 1812 in Malta and died on the 11th August 1892 aged 73, also in Headington.

Above St. Andrews Church, Coln Rogers, Gloucestershire where William Moberly's father was rector.

He joined Clifton RFC in 1876

Standing (L-R): J.A.Body (Gipsies), F.I.Currey (Marlborough Nomads), S.Finney (R.I.E. College), H.Freeman (Marlborough Nomads), F.W.Mills (Marlborough Nomads), A.St.G.Hamersley(Marlborough Nomads), F.W.Isherwood (Ravenscourt Park), A.G.Guillemard (West Kent), W.W.Pinching (Guys Hospital), P.Wilkinson (Law Club), J.E.H.Mackinlay (St. Georges Hospital), F.Luscombe (Gipsies), C.W.Sherrard (Royal Engineers). Seated: F.B.G.D'Aguilar (Royal Engineers/Bath), J.A.Bush (Blackheath), F.Stokes (Blackheath), T.Batson (Blackheath), J.E.Bentley (Gipsies), William Moberly (Ravenscourt Park). Absent: D.L.P.Turner (Richmond)

Above a photo of the England team v Scotland on 5th Feb 1872, which also included future Clifton players J.A.Bush and William Moberly. Note this was a 20-a-side team, one player, Turner, is missing from the picture.

W.O.Moberly also played cricket for Gloucestershire between 1876 and 1887 and holds the 5th wicket highest partnership record for that county when on 17th August 1876 with W.G.Grace, 261 runs were made at College Ground, Cheltenham against Yorkshire. Eventually W.G.Grace made 318 n.o. (this is still the highest number of runs scored by an individual for Gloucestershire) and W.O.Moberly made 103. The match was drawn. He was a right-hand bat and occasionally kept wicket.

FIRST-CLASS (1870 - 1887) William Moberly












Batting & Fielding

































W.G.Grace’s 318 n.o. in the Yorkshire match on 17th August 1876 had come 2 days after he made 177 for Gloucestershire against Nottinghamshire and two days prior to that he had made 344 for the MCC against Kent at Canterbury. In three consecutive innings in 5 days he had scored 839 runs. The 344 for the MCC was his highest ever score and the third highest individual score made in a big match in England up to the end of 1901.

William Moberly was the son of the Rev.C.E.Moberly, an assistant master at Rugby School, he was educated at Rugby School, where he was a member of the cricket eleven 1868-69. He went up to Balliol College, Oxford, and played cricket for the University in 1870, but did not win a blue. He did however win a blue at rugby football and also played for England at this sport in 1872. He played in 66 first-class cricket matches 1870 to 1887, 64 of them for Gloucestershire. He also played for Warwickshire 1869-72 and for Leicestershire in 1872. In January 1874 he was appointed an Assistant master at Clifton College, becoming house master in 1883 and later second master. He coached cricket there for many years and only resigned to retire in December 1913. He appears in the 1881 Census in residence at Clifton College, College House, unmarried, aged 30, an assistant master Clifton College, M.A.

Gloucestershire CCC County Champions for the second year in a row. A side that included the 3 Clifton RFC players James Arthur Bush, his younger brother Robert Edwin Bush and William Octavius Moberly. Picture below does not include the Bush brothers.

Standing, left to right: W.O.Moberly, W.Fairbanks, G.F.Grace, F.G.Monkland, W.R.Gilbert, W.Midwinter. Seated, left to right: Captain H.B.Kingscote, F.Townsend, R.F.Miles, W.G.Grace, E.M.Grace.

Above Gloucestershire CCC - County Champions 1877 with Clifton RFC players William Octavius Moberly and Walter Fairbanks

On July 30th 1884 William Octavius Moberly married the sister of fellow Clifton RFC player and Glos cricketer, Edmund Junkin Taylor (Clifton College 1864-1867), Emma Florence Taylor. Married by the Bishop of Exeter with the chaplin being the Headmaster of Clifton College from

An entry in the School Master's Diary reveals the following wedding to have taken place on July 30th, 1884......Newspaper cutting attached to page 152... 1884 Marriage of Mr WO Moberly and Miss Taylor. Yesterday morning there was a large assemblage at Frenchay Church to witness the marriage of Mr William Octavious Moberly, of Clifton College, the well-known amateur cricketer of the Gloucester County Eleven, son of the Rev CE Moberly, formerly master of Rugby, to Miss Emma Florence Taylor, second daughter of the late Mr Thomas Terrett Taylor, of Stoke Bishop. There was a choral Service, and special interest was given to the ceremony by the presence the Lord Bishop of Exeter, Dr Temple, uncle of the bridegroom, who officiated, attended by his chaplain, the Rev JM Wilson, Head Master of Clifton College, and assisted by the Rev CE Moberly, father of the bridegroom and the Rev CS Taylor, a brother of the bride. The Rector, Rev FE Warren, also took part in the Service. As the bridal party was assembling at the West door, the Organist, Mr JH Anger, was playing Haydn's 'Creation'. The other selected piece before the ceremony was Wagner's 'Bridal March', from 'Lohengrin'. Mr ED Mansfield, of Bracknell, Berks, was the 'best man'. The bride entered the church with her brother, AT Taylor, who gave her away.

Detailed description of the bride's dress. Her bracelet of gold & pearls and diamond was a wedding gift from her uncle, the Bishop of Exeter. Her necklace of Indian work, silver & gold and jewels, was a gift of Mr & Mrs Arthur Baker, of Clifton. She was attended by the following bridesmaids:- Miss AS Taylor, Miss EM Taylor and Miss M Taylor, her sisters; and Miss F Moberly, sister of the bridegroom. Detailed description of the bridesmaid's dresses. Descriptions of the dresses of Mrs Temple, Mrs Arthur Baker and Miss Tanner. Description of the Service. Mendlesohn's 'Wedding March' was played as the bride & groom left the church, whence the wedding guests were conveyed in several carriages to Newlands, the residence of the Bride's mother, Mrs Taylor. Here the wedding breakfast was served, and amongst the guests and relatives were:- DR & Mrs Temple, Rev & Mrs CE Moberly, Mrs Terrett Taylor, Rev CS Taylor, Mr Alfred Taylor, Rev JN Wilson, Mr & Mrs Joseph Lucas, Mr Edward Mansfield, Miss Agnes Taylor, Mr WS Hume, Miss Mary Taylor, Mr Edmund, J Taylor, Miss Moberly, Rev & Mrs TS Hughes, Miss Tanner, Rev & Mrs FE Warren, Mr Harvey Moberly, Miss Rose, Miss Thomas, Mr & Mrs Arthur Baker, Mr Colthurst Godwin, Miss F Moberly, Miss Thomas, Miss Moline, Mrs Douglas Wilson, Miss Moberly, Mr Arthur Tanner, Miss Mildred Taylor, Mr Ernest Moberly and Mrs Reece. After the breakfast, Mr & Mrs WO Moberly left for York, en route for Norway, for their honeymoon. The weather after the mist of early morning having cleared proved delightfully fine, and there was nothing to mar the enjoyment of the numerous guests who assembled at Newlands in the afternoon in the beautiful grounds close to the romantic glen of the Froom. The happy event will deprive the Gloucester County Eleven of the valuable services of Mr Moberly in the home matches at Clifton this month. The bride is a sister of EJ Taylor, also a member of the Gloucester County Eleven.

Above Frenchay Church (circa 1906) where Moberly was married.

His sister, Frances, born 31st March 1854, died on 14th September 1888. She never married.

Above left William Moberly and right his wife Emma in 1891 at Clifton College

Above William and Emma Moberly outside their house at Clifton College with some of his pupils.

In 1891 William Moberly was a founding member of Bristol and Clifton Golf Club

Standing (L-R): J.Carter (Tenant of Farm), Tom Cartwright, E.H.C.Smith, John Wheare (Steward), A.Goss (Professional in Clubhouse), H.L.Vaughn, W.H.McPherson, W.O.Moberly. Seated: G.H.Clark, M.B.Clarke, F.F.Cartwright, Capt. Broke, H.C.Barstow.

Above the original clubhouse in 1891 with some of the founder members of Bristol and Clifton Golf Club. Moberly is standing far right.

His mother, Catherine, died on 11th August 1892 aged 73, in Headington.

His father, Charles, died on 19th July 1893 in Headington.

In 1911 the Moberly's had been married for 26 years and were living at 1 Worcester Crescent, Clifton, Bristol.

Name Relation Age Occupation Where born
William Octavius Moberly Head 60 Schoolmaster Shoreham, Sussex
Emma Florence Moberly Wife 55 Bristol
Agnes Sarah Taylor Wife's Sister 53 Stoke Bishop, Glos.
Ada Selina Burchell Servant 30 Cook (Domestic) Swindon, Wilts
Florence Kate Davis Servant 23 Parlourmaid (Domestic) Roath, Glamorgan
Maude Annie Greenaway Servant 22 Housemaid (Domestic) Stroud, Glos.

Above William Octavius Moberly's signature.

Above William Octavius Moberly taken about 1912. He joined Clifton RFC in 1876 after having played for Oxford University, Ravenscourt Park and England at Rugby. He played Cricket for Gloucestershire between 1870 and 1887. He was the captain of Oxford rugby XV at the very first Varsity match v Cambridge on the 10th February 1872 at the Parks in Oxford. In January 1874 he was appointed an Assistant master at Clifton College, becoming house master in 1883 and later second master. He coached cricket there for many years and only resigned to retire in December 1913. This photograph must have been taken just before his retirement. His reminiscences formed part of the 1913 book "Fifty Years of Sport at Oxford and Cambridge" edited by A.C.M.Croome.

William Octavius Moberly died on 2nd February 1914 at Polurrian, Mullion, Cornwall. His obituary appeared in the Times on the 3rd February 1914 and said

Mr W.O.Moberly

Mr William Octavius Moberly, until recently senior assistant at Clifton College, died suddenly at Mullion, Cornwall, yesterday, aged 63.

Mr Moberly had been a master at Clifton since 1874, resigning owing to failing health last Christmas. He had served under every headmaster, having been appointed by Dr. Percival (the present Bishop of Hereford), who was the first head. He was at Balliol, where he obtained second classes in two classical schools, and took his degree in 1873. Among his contemporaries were a great many other fine cricketers, and he was undoubtedly one of the best batsmen who ever failed to gain a place in the University Eleven. He was also splendid in the field. His duties at Clifton kept him out of first-class cricket until late in the season, but he played regularly for Gloucestershire with the brothers E.M., W.G., and G.F.Grace. In 1876 he had an average of over 40. This was his most successful season as regards average, but he was often seen to advantage against the best bowlers of his day. His last season in important cricket was that of 1886, and then at Clifton he made 60 against the Australians.

As a Rugby footballer, also, Mr Moberly earned considerable distinction. He played in the seasons of 1872, 1873, and 1874 for Oxford against Cambridge; captaining his side in the first match contested by the universities. He was one of three backs in the first match, there being as many halves, and 14 forwards. Next year, when 15 played on each side, Mr Moberly was one of the three half backs, two full backs and 10 forwards completing the side. In his third match 20 were again played by each university, and he returned to his first position. In 1872 he gained his cap for England against Scotland, playing in the second match between the two countries, and helped his side to win by two goals and two tries to one goal. In this match he was wing-three-quarter. In club matches he played for Ravenscourt Park.

His death was announced in The Times on 4th February 1914 and said

MOBERLY.- Suddenly, at Mullion, Cornwall, WILLIAM OCTAVIUS MOBERLY, late assistant master at Clifton College, aged 63. Funeral at Mullion today (Wednesday), the 4th

Above the church of St. Mellanus, Mullion.

His wife, Emma Florence Taylor, died on 12th February 1925. They had no children. Her obituary appeared in The Times on both the 14th and 16th February 1925 and said

MOBERLY.- On the 12th Feb., at St. Ives, Cornwall, EMMA FLORENCE, widow of W.O.MOBERLY, for many tears a master at Clifton College, aged 69. Funeral Monday morning at Mullion, Cornwall.

His sister, Mary, born on 23 March 1852, in Winchester,  died on 4th August 1940,  unmarried.  She was Head Mistress of a Girl's School in Gateshead which later moved to Jesmond, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Her obituary appeared in The Times on 6th August 1940 and said

MOBERLY.-On Aug. 4, 1940, at 28 Lansdowne Gardens, Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, MARY MOBERLY, daughter of the late Rev. Charles Edward and Catherine Moberly, of Rugby, in her 88th year. Internment at St. Andrew's Cemetery, to-morrow (Wednesday), at 12 noon. No flowers, by request.

This part of the Moberly line ended here. His Aunt, Emily Frances Moberly, born on 6th September 1823, died on 19 Jun 1906, aged 82 in Tunbridge Wells. Emily married Rev. Charles Walford, Vicar of Weathampnett, Chichester, and was the only close relative to marry.