A history of the Trewby family through the twentieth century

This text is based largely on notes provided by Peter Padfield, as a contribution to a family re-union at Fenton House in London, in October 2015. This page is open to additional details about the families - please contact the editor, Tim Padfield (tim@padfield.dk). There is also a diagramatic family tree prepared by ? which also needs updating and a few corrections.

The re-union

The re-union is held at Fenton House, Hampstead, London. This house was once owned by George Careless Trewby. The marriage photograph of his eldest daughter, May, in front of the house, is the icon for this meeting of the descendants of May and of his other children.

Fenton House

Fenton House was built in the late 17th century. It was named Ostend House - later Clock House after the dial on the east front.

In 1793 it was bought by Philip Fenton, a merchant in the Baltic trade, and acquired its present name from him or from his son, James, who inherited in 1807 and made the Regency alterations which give the building its present character.

In 1884 the house was bought by George Careless Trewby, who was Engineer-in-Chief of the Gas Light and Coke Company of London, founded by Royal Charter in 1810. The Gas Light and Coke Company was the first company to supply coal gas via pipes to buildings.

The house remained in the family until the death in 1920 of George's widow Alice.

GEORGE CARELESS TREWBY 1838 (or 1839) - 1910

These notes begin with the career of George. He was the younger son of a coal merchant living and working at Millbank, near the present Tate Gallery, where at that time coal wharves bordered the river. In 1853 he entered the Gas Light and Coke Company as a pupil. He advanced quickly and in 1858 he was sent to Constantinople to advise the Turkish government on gas lighting. After two years in Turkey lighting up Constantinople he returned to company headquarters in Horseferry Road, Westminster, as resident engineer. In 1866 he married Alice Forsyth, whose father was described on the marriage certificate as 'gentleman'.

In 1870 he was appointed Superintendent of Beckton Gasworks, then under construction on marshland bordering the Thames east of the village of East Ham. Under his direction this grew to be the largest coal gas manufacturing plant in Europe, serving most of greater London. He lived on site with his growing family. In 1878, when the pleasure steamer, Princess Alice collided with another steamer on the river opposite Beckton he went out in his boat and rescued four passengers.

In 1884 he was transferred back to head office in Westminster as the company's Engineer-in-Chief. In that year he bought Fenton House as his family home. By this date he had seven children: May (1867), Edith (1871), Cora (1872), George (1876), Alice (1876), Lawrie (1877) and Arthur (1880).

He continued as Chief Engineer until 1904. In 1910 he died suddenly at Fenton House from a heart attack.

His wife, Alice, and their unmarried daughter, Alice, continued to live in the house until 1920. Two of May's children, William and Herbert also lived at Fenton house during their school holidays because their parents were in India.

The Trewby family lived the life of the upper middle classes in the late Victorian and Edwardian heyday of the British Empire. The boys went to Highgate School; the eldest, George, to the Britannia Royal Naval College. The girls evidently received a good education: Alice was a student at Royal Holloway College, London University, one of the first two colleges to award degrees to women. Social and musical accomplishments were important: two grand pianos graced May's living room in Shanklin, Isle of Wight, after her return from India. She delighted in playing duets with other pianists.


On 31 July 1902 George Trewby's eldest daughter, May, married William Herbert Greenland Padfield, graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and described on the marriage certificate as 'mathematical tutor in Lucknow [India]'. He came from a West-Country family from Frome, Somerset. The photograph below was taken at their wedding reception with some 200 guests seated before the South front of Fenton House.

May Trewby wedding

The couple spent most of their married life in India where, from 1908 - 1932 the Rev. William Padfield - as he had become - was Principal of the Lawrence Memorial School, Lovedale, Ootacamund. He is still remembered as the most significant early principal of the school.

Their first son, William Lawrence Notton ('Bobs') Padfield - named after the Lawrence School or its founder, General Sir Henry Lawrence - was born in 1905, and was sent 'home' to England at age seven. He boarded at Winchester House Preparatory School, Deal, then Marlborough College - some of whose horrors, vividly portrayed by his contemporary John Betjeman's autobiographical poem, 'Summoned by Bells', he later recounted to his elder son. He joined the Royal Engineers, trained at Woolwich and after a year at Selwyn College, Cambridge, departed for India on attachment to the Indian Army. Rising to captain, Royal Engineers, his final work was to prepare the Indian railways for the impending second world war. In 1939 he missed his vaccinations and died of typhoid fever.

His wife, Edna Abbott, took their two sons, Peter Lawrence Notton Padfield and Timothy Donald William Padfield to England by P & O steamship, and lodged with her mother-in-law, May Padfield, at Chineside, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, built by a former Bishop of the Isle of Wight - with a chapel in the garden where the son with birth certificate Donald William Padfield was christened with the additional first name Timothy, to soften the wound of Donald being named after a former boyfriend.

Peter Padfield married Jean Yarwood, daughter of a distinguished engineer and director of George Wimpey Construction.

Timothy Padfield is a research scientist in the conservation of antiquities. He married Frances Ilian, a librarian and teacher. They have one son, Nicolas, who is a laboratory leader at Roskilde University, Denmark. He married Pia Nielsen, a care worker, and they have two children, Olivia and Tobias.

The Rev. Padfield's younger son, Herbert Geraint Trewby ('Bertie') Padfield joined the Royal Navy via Osborne House, Isle of Wight, and the Britannia Royal Naval College. He served at sea throughout the second world war. Bertie reached the rank of captain; his last command was the research cruiser, HMS Cumberland.

Bill Padfield married Gloria Chavarro. They have no children.

Lois Padfield married Terence ('Terry') Driscoll. They have two children, Julia and Richard.


Edith Trewby married Harry Menzies of the Scottish Menzies clan; they had a daughter, Edith Ellen ('Nell'), who never married.


Cora Trewby married Warren Hale. They had 4 children. The youngest, John, joined the Royal Navy, serving as a Fleet Air Arm pilot during the second world war. He led the second wave of Swordfish torpedo bombers which crippled the Italian fleet in the heavily defended harbour of Taranto on 11 November 1940. On retirement he and his wife, Elizabeth, bought Letheringham water mill, near Woodbridge, Suffolk.


George Trewby entered the Royal Navy and served throughout the first world war, latterly as Flag Captain to the admiral commanding the 5th Cruiser Squadron. He retired in 1923 as a rear-admiral, subsequently advanced to vice-admiral. He married a South African, Dorothea Allen and they had two sons. The eldest, George Francis Allen Trewby entered the Royal Navy College. Specialising in engineering, he served throughout the second world war. Later he gained an international reputation for his work on gas-turbine propulsion for warships and after filling the highest engineering posts in the service, was knighted and retired as a vice-admiral. He married Sarah Stedham and they had two sons, John, who joined the Royal Navy, rising to rear-admiral(?), and Peter, who became a consultant physician. George Trewby the elder's younger son, David, went into commerce and on retirement served as secretary of the Hurlingham Club.


Alice Trewby never married. After her mother died she moved to a flat in Sloane Square. She lived to be 100.


Laurie Trewby followed his father into the Gas Light and Coke Company. He married Edith Wallis and they had two children; the eldest, Arthur Lionel Trewby was killed in the second world war, leaving his wife, Kathleen and three children, Anne, Barbara and Richard. The second son, Cyril Trewby, married Margaret Tisdall, and had two children, Brian Trewby - who has organised the Fenton House meeting - and Phillipa.


Arthur Trewby became an engineer, never married and lost his life in the first world war.

The people named in this short account, and those who knew them, are invited to amplify the information in this text. Please send contributions, and particularly pictures, to the editor (see the contact page). Meanwhile we must all thank Peter for his research and reminiscences.

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