Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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Henry Graham Dakyns


In a way Clifton Rugby Club can go back to one man, Henry Graham Dakyns. The masters and pupils of Clifton College founded Clifton Club in 1872 and in 1862 Henry Graham Dakyns started Rugby at Clifton College. He never did play rugby for Clifton.

He was born on the island of St. Vincent in the West Indies in 1838. Son of Dr Thomas Henry Dakyns and Harriet Dascent. His mother was the sister of George Webbe Dascent, translator of the Icelandic sagas. He was the second of six sons. He attended Rugby School and then Trinity College, Cambridge from 1856 (BA 1856, MA 1864). He was tutor to the sons of Alfred (later Lord) Tennyson in 1861 at Farringford House, Isle of Wight, now a hotel (, before becoming a Master at Clifton in 1862. He rose to become Deputy Head and left in December 1889).

Above Farringford House, Isle of Wight. A 1908 colour print by A. Heaton Cooper.

His brother, C.S.Daykyns, was a founding member of the Richmond club. Another brother was said to have enjoyed playing the game so much that he stayed at Rugby School until he was twenty, and eventually had to be asked to leave.

Standing (L-R): The ground man, E. Carleton Holmes (Captain), E.Rutter, M.Davies, ?, Hon.H.A.Lawrence, E.H.Ash, R.Murray, Collyer, Dawson, Lloyd. On Ground: C.S.Dakyns, G.Hamilton, S.Harper.

Above the 1868 Richmond side with his brother Charles Stewart Daykyns.

Above Dakyns from the photo of Masters of Clifton College in 1865 He married Margaret Elsy Pirie and had 2 sons and a daughter. Both his sons Henry Graham Dakyns (1888-1892) and Arthur Lindsay Dakyns (Jan 1900 - April 1900) attended Clifton College.

Dakyns was literally press-ganged into joining Clifton College by Percival. The following exchange was reported

'When can you begin, Dakyns?' 'Oh, quite soon', Dakyns replied; 'in two or three days at the most.' 'Theres a train in an hour's time,' said Percival; 'they are rather hard pressed down there. I think you had better take that.' And Dakyns did.

In 1872 Dakyns married Margaret (Maggie) Elsie Cay, born Pirie, widow of Charles Hope Cay.

Above the Dakyns children (L-R): Amy Cay (1869-1933), Dakyn's step-daughter; Frances Daykyns (1877-1960); Henry Dakyns (born: Jan 25th 1874, died Feb. 17th 1937) (Trinity, Cambridge 1892-95) (Time Obit Feb 19th 1937), the elder son. Circa 1882.

Above the Dakyns children (L-R): Frances Dakyns; Arthur Lindsay Dakyns the youngest son.

Dakyns wrote several books, perhaps the most major being his edition of the complete works of Xenophon, published by Macmillan, 1890-97 for which he took a break from Clifton College in Greece to write.

Above Dakyns walking in Scotland 1903.

Above Graham and Maggie Daykyns c.1906.

When Dakyns retired he bought Higher Coombe in Haslemere to be closer to his life-long friend Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Above Lord Tennyson's house at Haslemere, "Aldworth".

Above the Tennyson Window at Haslemere Church, where Dakyns was buried. Designed by Burne-Jones in . It depicts Sir Galahad at the chapel where he saw a vision of the Holy Grail. I Galahad saw the Grail, the Holy Grail descend upon the shrine, And in the strength of this I rode, shattering all evil customs everywhere. The Holy Grail was one of Tennyson's Idylls of the King (1869), which in itself was an allusion to The Holy Grail.

Above Higher Coombe, Haslemere. An architectural engraving by the architect Fred Banister, circa 1891.

He had a heart attack and died on the 21st June 1911 at Haslemere Station, Surrey on the eve of the Coronation while waiting for some visitors at Haslemere station. His splendid 'Tudorbethan' house in the town, Higher Coombe, (worth a few million these days) was sold and the effects dispersed among his children.

Above Haslemere Station where Dakyns died.

His obituary appeared in The Times on 26th June 1911. It said

Mr. Henry Graham Dakyns, of Higher Combe, Haslemere, who was for many years a master at Clifton College, died suddenly at Haslemere Station last Wednesday.

A correspondent writes :- "This fine scholar and most lovable man will never be forgotten by those who knew him. He was one of that rare company in whom 'the last infirmitty of noble minds ' (as Milton calls the desire of fame) appeared not to exist; though, indeed, he showed that he recognized the value of fame by desiring it for his friends. Time alone can show whether among his casual writings enough remains to give direct evidence to the public of what he was; of his power of eliciting the true worth which lay timidly in its immature beginnings; and again, of his non- concilliatory power, born of his just appreciation of the greatness of great man. He was incapable of hate: he seized hold of the great problems of life in the purity of their first natural meaning.

"Born in the island of St. Vincent in the West Indies in the year 1838, he was afterwards educated at Rugby and at Trinity College, Cambridge ; his degree, a second cla a in classics, showed that his practical readiness was not equal to his gifts of intellect and of spirit. In 1860 he became trutcr to the sons of the poet Tennyson (not yet a peer-of the realm); the present Lord Tennyson was his constant friend, as was .the other brother. Lionel, A well known passage in Tennyson's biography, relating to tbo Valley of Cauteretz, is evidence how Tennyson valued the delicate feeling shown by the subject of this memoir.

"For more than a quarter of a century Mr.Dakyns' was an assistant master at Clifton College. Among his intimate friends were Henry Sidgwick, John Addington Symonds, and the Manx poet, T. E. Brown. His own best-known publication is his translation of Xenophon, an excellent and very learned work, of which it. is to be hoped that Messrs. Macmillan will even now issue the last volume, which, it is understood, is fully existent in manuscript, though, perhaps, without. the final corrections of the author."

The funeral took place on Saturday at St. Bartholomew's, Haslemere. The Bishop of Hereford (formerly headmster of Clifton) officiated, assisted by the Rev G.H.Aitkin (Rector). Among those present were Lord Tennyson, Sir Archibald Geikle (President of the Royal Society), Sir Robert Hunter, Mr Mr.A.M.S.Methuen, Canon Selwyn, D.D., Mr. Arthur Ponsonby, Mr Aneurin Williams, Major S.L.Norris, Mr Martin Pirrie, Lady Atkinson-Willes, Mr.W.O.Moberly (Clifton), the Rev.T.M.Bromely, Mr.H.Beveridge, Mr.E.P.Arnold, the Rev.Sanders Etheridge, Mr.H.Joachim, and Mr.R.C.Trevelyan.

Above St. Bartholomew's, Haslemere from a postcard dated Spetember 24th 1912.

In July 1911 the Clifton College magazine, The Cliftonian, published reminiscences by former pupils.