Redmond Barton Cafferata - PART 1

Photo:Redmond Barton Cafferata

Redmond Barton Cafferata

Richard Cafferata

Photo:Tatiana and Gerald Cafferata

Tatiana and Gerald Cafferata

Richard Cafferata

Photo:Tatiana Cafferata

Tatiana Cafferata

Richard Cafferata

Photo:Tatiana with daughters Sonia (standing) and Tatiana (sitting on her mother's knee)

Tatiana with daughters Sonia (standing) and Tatiana (sitting on her mother's knee)

Richard Cafferata

Early Life

By Richard Cafferata

Redmond Barton Cafferata was born on 14th April 1878(1) in Newark, Nottinghamshire, the sixth child and third son of Redmond Parker and Ellen Cafferata. In the 1881 census he was listed as living at 23 Millgate, a fine three storey Georgian house which reflected the prosperity of the family. Here the children were looked after by a Governess, Maria Sulburn and a nurse, Susan Kebber. (2)

At the age of only seven years he was sent away to boarding school, following his brothers Hubert and Louis to Stonyhurst College, starting there in September 1885.At Stonyhurst, his teachers included Father McMullin and Mr George Gruggen. In Mr Gruggen’s Syntax class, Redmond was one of 33 boys. He was a pupil at Stonyhurst for eight years, leaving on August 1st 1893 at the age of 15. (3)

His elder brothers had joined the family firm, but Redmond set his own course, beginning a career in the merchant marine. He signed on as a cadet on the training ship HMS Conway. This was an old 90 gun ship of the line, launched in 1839 as HMS Nile and, when Redmond joined her, usually moored off Rock Ferry Pier on the Mersey. The fees on HMS Conway were £47 per year, along with another £4 for “extras” and £6 10s each year for clothing.

Redmond served on HMS Conway for two years and, as well as learning the nautical profession, he also took part in sporting activities, rowing as stroke in the annual race with HMS Worcester, which resulted in an easy win for HMS Conway. Aboard HMS Conway, there were two terms in a year and at the end of each, Redmond was given a naval and school report. In these, his naval ability and conduct were consistently described as “Good” or “Very Good” but his application was only “Satisfactory”. In his school work his conduct was usually described as “Good” but his ability and application varied between “Fair”, “Satisfactory” and “Good”. On graduating from HMS Conway in July 1895, Redmond received an Ordinary Certificate which stated that his conduct and ability were both very good. (4)  The HMS Conway Passing Out Certificate was an important one for all cadets, as it reduced the sea time needed to become a merchant naval officer from four years to three.

 Following his time on HMS Conway, Redmond then signed on as an apprentice on the ship Bidston Hill. Built in Liverpool by T. Royden and sons, Bidston hill was launched as a clipper but had recently been re-rigged as a four masted barque when Redmond joined her. Owned by the Price Line, Redmond sailed almost around the world on Bidston Hill, with the Glasgow Herald reporting the ship’s arrival in Port Pirie, South Australia on November 11th 1895, after departing from Bremerhaven, Germany. She subsequently called at Newcastle, New South Wales and then Manila in the Philippines, arriving there on April 6th 1896. Redmond’s voyage came to a premature end in Boston, USA, where he, along with many of the crew, went down with diphtheria. This resulted in a long stay in a Boston hospital and finished his career at sea. (3)

 Redmond ultimately arrived back in Britain as a passenger on board S. S. Britannic on the 4th January 1897. (5) Following his return he assumed his position in the family firm of Cafferata & Co., taking over the running of the Hawton quarry and works in Newark. Amongst other tasks, Redmond set up an industrial laboratory to address the quality control problems which affected the firm, experimenting with different chemicals to improve the setting time of the plaster.

The early years of the twentieth century were important times for Redmond personally; he met the daughter of the former Russian Ambassador to the U.S.A., Tatiana de Bartholomey and they were married in the Pro-Cathedral, Kensington on October 24th 1901 by Redmond’s uncle, Henry Cafferata.(6) They had a son, Redmond Randolph, on 18th August 1903 and spent time travelling in Switzerland where Redmond Randolph learnt to ski at a very young age. It was whilst the family was on one of these visits to Switzerland that Tatiana gave birth to a second son, Gerald Waterworth on 31st May 1906. A daughter, Sonia Helene was born in Newark on 14th January 1908 and another daughter, Tatiana, on 26th February 1914.

In addition to running a demanding business and bringing up a young family, Redmond was also involved in civic life in the years before the outbreak of war in 1914; he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the in 4th (Nottinghamshire) Volunteer Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters on the 19th December 1900 and in 1912 he was a Borough Councillor in Newark’s North Ward (7)

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 (1)   Passport No. 101720

(2)   1881 Census. RG11 / 3377 / 68 p25

(3)   Stonyhurst Magazine, 1936

(4)   HMS Conway Cadet Records, National Maritime Museum, Liverpool

(5)   UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960

(6)   Newark Advertiser 30/10/1901 p5.

(7)   London Gazette 18th December 1900 p16, Kelly’s Nottinghamshire Directory 1912 p129.


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