Thursday, 26 May 2016

Week 21: Sir William Palin Elderton KBE PhD

Last week I mentioned that Gilbert Palin wrote to Sir William Palin Elderton and discussed family History.  Gilbert also wrote that he wished William would continue with the family research because William “has clerical facilities”.   What did he mean by that and how is this Sir William Palin Elderton related?

To find how William Palin Elderton is connected we need to go back to the “Portrait Palins”.  Thomas Palin and Elizabeth Smythe had 13 children.  From these 13 children there are three distinct branches.  John Palin born 1749 (my branch), Thomas Palin born 1754 and William Palin born 1758.  William Palin Elderton is a descendant from Thomas Palin born 1754. (see picture at bottom)

Thomas Palin, born 1754, married Elizabeth Ellis in Gloucester in 1781 and they had 5 children before her death in 1801.  One of these children was Frances Palin born 1800 in Gloucester.  Frances then married Charles Elderton in 1851 and they had ten children.  One was William Alexander Elderton and he was born in 1839 and he married Sarah Lapidge in 1875 and they had eight children, one of which was William Palin Elderton born in 1877 in London.
Sir William Palin Elderton
We are able to find William Palin Elderton in the 1881-1911 census and in the 1939 Registry.  It was written that “It had been intended that Elderton should go up to Cambridge after leaving school, but the untimely death of his father meant the abandonment of the plan and Elderton went perforce straight from school into business life.”  In the 1891 census we find William living with his Aunt and Uncle, Mary and Alfred Wilmot, in London and his occupation is insurance clerk.  In the 1911 census he is again living with his mother and siblings and his occupation is Actuary with Star Life Assurance.

Actuary: a person who compiles and analyzes statistics and uses them to calculate insurance risks and premiums.

According to Wikipedia “In 1900 when he was training to be an actuary Elderton met Karl Pearson and was drawn into the University College statistical group. In 1902 Elderton computed the first tables of Pearson's chi-squared and in 1907 he published an exposition of the Pearson curves for actuaries. His sister Ethel M. Elderton worked for Pearson, and together the Eldertons wrote an introduction to the new ideas in statistics.

William Palin Elderton wrote 3 books
  • (1906) Frequency-Curves and Correlation. London: Charles and Edwin Layton, 172 pages
  • (1909) Primer of Statistics. London: A&C Black Ltd (written with sister)
  • (1914)The Construction of Mortality and Sickness Tables : a Primer. London : A. & C. Black.

I was lucky to find a 7 page memoir written by H J Tappenden about William Palin Elderton that was published in the Journal of the Institute of Actuaries  Vol 88 1962.  I am not going to add all of that here but if any of you want a copy of that – just let me know and I can email it to you.   In an excerpt taken from that memoir we can learn much more about the man, his interests and his family.

His interests outside professional life were as varied and far-ranging as they were within it.
He had an intense love and an intimate knowledge of the countryside, its villages and particularly its churches, which had been fostered by his having, in youth and early manhood, spent his week-ends and holidays walking and camping. In his early business life, he lived at Streatham but some time before his marriage he purchased an old cottage and some acres of land at Amersham; he modernized and enlarged the building and brought a considerable area of the land under cultivation. The garden was an abiding joy to him; the house at Amersham was his home for some 40 years and he left it only a few months before his death, when his health was beginning to fail. He was fond of sketching and painting and had some considerable talent, exhibiting a number of watercolours at the Buckinghamshire Art Society, of which he was for a time President. He was a great reader and a lover of the poets and, with his superb memory, could quote extensively from them; in his youth he had himself tried his hand at composing poetry.
He took a considerable interest in genealogy; he became a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists and contributed to that Society a paper on the family connexions of William Morgan.
He was married in 1920 to Enid Muriel Podmore, whose home before her marriage was at Grange-over-Sands; she and her family were interested in teaching. It was an ideally happy marriage; many of Elderton’s interests he shared with his wife-his love of the countryside, of his home, of literature and the arts. She was a great support and comfort to him; a good linguist, she was able to lend him practical assistance in his reviewing of some of the foreign actuarial journals. Lady Elderton, who was some years younger than her husband, survives him. There was one child of the marriage, Hubert, who followed his father to Merchant Taylors’ School and later went up to Oxford before service in the Armed Forces during the Second World War; he is now living in South Africa.

As also seen in the above mentioned memoir

During the First World War Elderton served with Sir Alfred Watson as statistical adviser to the Ministry of Shipping, and his work was recognized by the award of the C.B.E. after the cessation of hostilities. He was also honoured by the French Government, who made him a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. He carried out similar duties in the Second World War, ultimately becoming chief statistical adviser to the Ministry of War Transport when that organization came into being as a result of the merging of the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Transport. For his services in this capacity, he was created a K.B.E. in 1946; a knighthood had already been conferred on him in 1938.

So as we learned last week, Gilbert Walter Palin may have initiated William Palin Elderton’s interest in the family history or at least added to it.  I would love to see if I could get a copy of that genealogy paper that Sir William Palin Elderton submitted to the Society of Genealogists.  I wonder how far back he could trace his Palin side of his family tree.

I also wonder if Sir William Palin Elderton ever met Thomas Basset Macaulay, President of Sun Life Assurance.  Not only were they both esteemed actuaries but they were also related by marriage.

If anyone can assist me with the above two queries, please, please contact me!!

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