Herbert George Radford, F.S.A. [Obituary]

Trans. Devon. Assoc.,  vol. 52, (1920), pp. 45-46.


Maxwell Adams (Ed.)

Prepared by Michael Steer

The Obituary was read at the Association’s July 1920 Totnes meeting. Mr Radford was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and an acknowledged authority on arms and armour as well as a Founder Member of the Meyrick Society. Initially, The Meyrick Club was an important collaboration of collectors and scholars with links to the British Museum and Tower of London. The Society was named for Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick who published in three volumes “A Critical Enquiry into Antient Armour as it existed in Europe, but particularly in England, from the Norman Conquest to the Reign of King Charles II, with a Glossary of Military Terms of the Middle Ages”. This obituary, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Mr. Herbert Radford, who became a member of the Devonshire Association in 1901, was born on the 24th July, 1860, and was the third and eldest surviving son of the late Daniel Radford, Esq., J.P., of Lydford and Mount Tavy, Tavistock. As a boy he was fond of outdoor sports, such as shooting, rowing, riding, and driving. His holidays were usually spent at Lydford, where he and his pony were familiar objects in the village, on the moor and in his father's woods.
He entered his father's office, and Mr. Plowden, F.S.A., Secretary of the Meyrick Club, - a club for lovers of armour, of which Mr Herbert Radford together with Sir Guy Laking, Messrs Seymour Lucas, R.A., and Arthur Radford were founders – writing of him says:-
"When the firm was amalgamated with that of William Cory and Son he became a Director from its inception as a Limited Company. He was possessed of great business ability, and his astuteness, sagacity, and enterprise contributed in no small degree to the success of this great combine; but he had other interests at heart; all his life he was an intelligent collector of objects of art, for which he had an intuitive perception; he was very rarely at fault, and whether it was armour, old furniture, clocks, or pictures, his judgment was equally keen and correct. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1902, and became a member of the Archaeological Institute in 1905. He was an original member of the Meyrick Society.
"He was a most generous, kindly, and devoted friend, and the writer of these lines, who knew him for nearly forty years, can say with confidence that he was one of the few men who never had any detractors. Popular with his employees and with his business clientele, he was loved and esteemed by those with whom he had a closer friendship. Socially, he was a most delightful and knowledgeable companion with a great sense of humour and a marvellous memory, but his humour was never mordant."
In Mr. Radford's collection of armour was a pair of spurs which is thus described in Sir Guy Laking's Record of European Armour and Arms through Seven Centuries." These spurs are remarkable examples of their kind, and may safely be assigned to the first half of the eleventh century" (Vol. I, p. 29). They are believed to be identical with those found in a stone coffin in Chardstock Church. See Pulman's Book of the Axe (Ed. 1875, p. 567).
Mr. Radford died after a few days' illness from pneumonia - on the 19th March, 1920, at his home, Lested Lodge, Well Walk, Hampstead.