Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Deptford born academic lawyer and life-long Charlton Atheletic supporter Lord Wedderburn QC died on Friday. He was the son, grandson, great grandson and great-great grandson of scale makers.

Born Kenneth William Wedderburn in Deptford on 13th April 1927 Bill lived for most of his childhood above the family business F Wedderburn Scale Makers & Contractors at 467 New Cross Road. 467 is now part of that wondrous Deptford conflation Housemartins estate agents and Lewisham People before Profit's Come the Revolution cafe. I suspect that 467 has been rebuilt at some point since the second world war.

The earliest known scale-maker in the Wedderburn family was Jabez Wedderburn c1797 - 1880 whose descendants in Southampton and Australia are still in the scale-making business today. Jabez's fourth child and second son, also called Jabez 1827-82, arrived in Deptford from Islington sometime before the 1871 census that found him and his scale making business based at 9 Deptford Bridge. Jabez junior's son Frederick married Anne Coote at St Mary's Lewisham shortly after his father's death, but then disappears from the records before buying 467 New Cross Road in the mid 1890s. On 21st August 1895 his son Herbert John was baptised at St Paul's Deptford after being born on 27th July. Herbert followed his father into the scale-making business and after serving in WW1 married Mabel Ethel Hollands in 1924. Telephone directories show 467 New Cross Road as F Wedderburn Scale Makers & Contractors until and shortly after Herbert's death in 1978. Sadly, despite the business being at 467 for over eighty years I am unable to find a photograph.

Lord Wedderburn's son posted on a message board this morning that Herbert had first taken Bill to see Charlton when Bill was aged only two. This would place the young Bill at the Valley in Charlton's first season in Divison Two. A few up and downs since then, but Bill stayed loyal and when elevated to the House of Lords took the title Lord Wedderburn of Charlton.

The Guardian, Independent and Times obituaries, and this Telegraph article (but not the Telegraph obit) all make much of his purported ancestor, the radical black orator Robert Wedderburn. It is possible, but the evidence for a link to Robert Wedderburn strikes me as a bit thin, there were a number of Robert Wedderburns in London at the beginning of the 19th Century and many records from the time have been lost and those that we have lack detail.

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