William Hampton Pethybridge was born in 1866 at Launceston to William Ford (1834-1912) and Louisa Elizabeth Pethybridge (nee Grant 1841-1936). His father, brother to the Launceston banker Edward Pethybridge, was a farmer and also owned a tannery, which in 1871, employing 11 persons, and the family had 2 servants. He was educated at Dunheved College, and commenced work at the bank of Messrs. Dingley, Pethybridge, White, and Dingley, at Launceston, but later entered the legal profession after serving his articles with Mr T.C. Brian, of Plymouth, and Mr Graham-White, of Launceston, and with this solid grounding he left the town for Cardiff in 1890 where he soon worked up an extensive practice at 97, St. Mary Street.
The following is taken from the marvellous Greens on Screen website which detail’s the history of Plymouth Argyle and in particular, William’s involvement as the founder.
*It was whilst working for Mr. Brian in Plymouth, that William helped form Plymouth Argyle in 1886, being the first to make the suggestion. During the summer months of 1886, Francis Howard Grose, after leaving Dunheved College, Launceston in April, came to Plymouth to learn his profession in architecture and engineering. Here he met up with his friend and colleague William Pethybridge, who had left for Plymouth in 1884 to study Law with Mr. Brian. Both had been pupils at Dunheved College but school records show Pethybridge finished his school education in 1882, before Grose became a pupil; they had met later on the football and cricket field at Launceston. Grose played for the College, being described in the College magazine of 1883 as “a fairly good forward, but is rather slow and should pass more”. In the following year, he has gone into defence with the improved comment “very useful at back”. Pethybridge, though short in stature, was a good dribbler of the ball, playing on the wing for Launceston (Town) F.C. in season 1882-83 and captained the club 1883-84. The ‘Town’ club regularly played matches against Dunheved College. On meeting up in Plymouth they shared ‘digs’ in Radnor Place where they discussed at length which suitable club they could join to continue playing their favourite sport. The only suitable middle-class club at the time was Plymouth F.C. whose members were old boys from Plymouth’s middle-class schools. The Cornishmen were not invited to join, so William suggested they form their own club by recruiting old boys from the local Public Schools and Colleges. He knew from his two years in Plymouth several promising young men of their class in study or business in Plymouth. Howard Grose also knew suitable Plymouth players from the recent school fixtures he had played in for Dunheved College. They resolved to approach these young men for their thoughts on the subject. The majority were keenly interested, so Pethybridge and Grose arranged for the first conference to take place in their Radnor Place rooms. Further meetings were held at the homes of Alfred Dyer in Hill Park Crescent, Cornelius ‘C. C.’ Boolds at Seaview House, Lipson Road, and Ernest Harry Babb at 12, Portland Square, Plymouth. Lively discussions took place, including the choice of club colours, the favoured combination being green and black (hardly surprising as both leading local exponents, Plymouth F.C. and Mannamead School, wore green jerseys). Argyle Terrace was not the venue for any of the meetings; E. H. Babb re-iterated this in a letter written to the Western Morning News in 1934. Now assured their venture would go ahead the new group of friends arranged a meeting to form the new Association football club, which was held at the Borough Arms Coffee Tavern at 35, Bedford Street, Plymouth. The luxuriously furnished coffee tavern was designed to outdo the best public houses and taverns in the encouragement of temperance. Besides the saloon on the ground floor, it had rooms above that could be hired out and this is where Argyle were formed. William Pethybridge, as a Wesleyan Methodist, was a lifelong tea-totaller and non-smoker, and so probably was Grose as Dunheved College was for the sons of Wesleyan Methodists. In modern Plymouth, the site of the Borough Arms lies within the footprint of House of Fraser (Dingles as was), on the south side of the escalators (the next time you walk through men’s clothing, spare a thought for Argyle’s pioneers). The exact date of the meeting is not recorded but was probably the 1st, 2nd, or the 3rd September 1886. The motion to form a club was carried and the matter of the club name was discussed from which two suggestions came to the fore, ‘Pickwick’ and ‘Argyle’. Thankfully, those present, almost unanimously, decided the new club to be the ‘Argyle Football Club’ as the name was of “local application” whereas the other, coming from a Charles Dickens novel, was not. By this must mean Argyle Terrace, which was local to the prospective members. Though none are known to have lived in Argyle Terrace, attending was Charles Phillips, who was elected to the committee and became Argyle secretary for 1887-88, and he lived across the road at 7, Stafford Terrace. Another prominent Argyle Football member C. C. Boolds, whose residence had been used for a pre-Argyle formation meeting, had a Devonport born Uncle who, in the 1881 Census, lived in Argyle Street, Tynemouth, Northumberland. A lesser-known Argyle F.C. member in 1886 was a J. Reed who, a much later letter printed in the Western Morning News in 1937 claimed, was the originator of the name. This could be correct because at the time a builder named John Reed was living close by in Kirkby Place (1887) and Restormel Terrace (1889). Perhaps he built Argyle Terrace? Within six years of formation, nobody could remember the origin of the Argyle name because it was just plucked out of the air and chosen because it was suitably up-market for the club members social standing, as was middle-class Argyle Terrace; there was no deep reason. What is unusual today is that Plymouth Argyle held onto their original local amateur club name whilst most of today’s big town clubs have not. The fascination in the name is because of the geographically diverse juxtaposition of the two words ‘Plymouth’ and ‘Argyle’ and it seems to demand a specific explanation such as the ‘Argyll Regiment’ connection. From 1886 to 1903 when the name was just ‘Argyle’, there was no juxtaposition demanding explanation.
Extracts from a transcript of the letter written by F. Howard Grose to J. J. Pascho on March 25th 1934:
“And now about the Plymouth Argyle: Its story is woven with mine somewhat so you must excuse my writing in the first person. I left Dunheved College Launceston in 1885 where with my friend and colleague Mr. W. Pethybridge I took keen interest in football and cricket. Mr. Pethybridge left School before me and took up the study of law with a firm of Solicitors in Plymouth. I joined him there early in 1886 to learn Architecture and Engineering. We wished to take an active part in our favourite sports in Plymouth and to that end often discussed what Club we should join, but outside the Plymouth Town Football Club there was none that appealed to us.
I think it was Mr. Pethybridge who first suggested that it might be possible to form a new Club by recruiting the Old Boys from the neighbouring Public Schools and Colleges: We knew several promising young men of this Class engaged in Study or business in the Town and determined to approach them on the subject. The majority showed themselves keenly interested in the proposal and the first conference took place in our rooms – which Mr. Pethybridge and I jointly occupied – when it was arranged to call a meeting for the purpose of forming a Club. The meeting took place at the Borough Arms and it was decided to form a Club such as we had in mind. The question of what name the Club should be known by then arose and that of “Pickwick” was mentioned and found favour with several present. Others however objected as the name did not adapt itself to local application. I recollect holding forth on what our Club should aim at in achieving in the football world, viz: To emulate the style of Play adopted by the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders who I believe in the previous year won the Army Cup (this no doubt can be verified if so desired). I then explained that anyone who had watched them play would have been struck with the excellent team work shown, the fast low passing from backs to forwards, wings to centre followed by short swift shooting at the opponents goal – and we should endeavour to play on the same lines. Then someone said “why not a “Plymouth Argyle” that’s a name that could be applied locally”. The suggestion was well received and when put to the vote was adopted unanimously. Subsequently the meeting elected me as the first Captain of the new Club for the season 1886-7. We had no Club ground at first and were obliged to play matches on our opponent’s grounds. The team exercised on the then Freedom Fields (now Freedom Park) and so eager were members to get into condition that I remember several games taking place there by moonlight. Later in the Season permission was obtained to play on a ground at Mount Gould where several matches took place. From newspaper cuttings still in my possession it appears that the first match played was against “Caxton” on Oct. 16th 1886 which we lost by 4 goals to 2. On Oct. 23rd we played the Plymouth College which Argyle won by 2-1. The College side was captained by Mr. E. H. Babb who later in the Season joined our Club on leaving the College. During the season 17 matches were played. 7 were won, 8 were lost and 2 drawn. This record for the first Season was considered highly satisfactory as the team had previously no means of playing together and it took some time for individual members to find their proper place of play on the Field and get licked into shape.
The membership of the Club increased rapidly and in January 1887 a 2nd Eleven was organised and matches arranged. The 2nd Team did exceptionally well and won most of its games played.
For the Season 1889-90, Mr. Babb being absent, the records show that F. H. Grose was elected Captain with Mr. W. C. Hawke sub-Captain, C. W. Phillips Hon. Treasurer and H. M. Gibson Hon. Secretary. The teams had a successful Season and won the majority of the matches played. Out of 15 matches played 11 were won, 73 goals scored for the Club and 15 against. A record that many Clubs might envy today.
I left the District in 1890 and regret I cannot assist you in the subsequent history of the Argyle. I recollect however in the latter part of this Season we left the Mount Gould site and acquired a football ground at Marsh Mills where I played in several matches.
I am proud to think that from such small beginnings a club in which I was intimately connected should continue to exist and I hope may ultimately be seen in a leading position of the 1st league. There is room for improvement in their play before this can happen judging from present results.
I have no objection to your quoting me as to these notes which are based on existing records and so far as my memory serves me.”
The ‘Argyle Footbal Club(association)‘ announced its foundation in the Western Daily Mercury on Saturday 4th September 1886. The officers elected were Howard Grose (captain), Alfred Dyer (vice-captain), George Vaughan (treasurer), Charles Phillips (committee), Alfred Shilston (committee), and Walter F. Siddall (secretary, Bedford Park, Plymouth). Surprisingly there was no place for William Pethybridge though he is not known to have played football in the two years since arriving in Plymouth and, being slightly older than the others, was not in the same school matches that Howard Grose had played in against Plymouth based schools. The shortage of available suitable land determined that, on its formation, the Argyle Football Club had no ‘home’ ground and the first of at least six matches were away fixtures. The very first was played at Launceston versus Dunheved College on Saturday 9th October 1886. This fixture was only possible because of the railway; by road a horse and wagonette journey would have taken too long. In very inclement weather, the College won 4-1 according to the Launceston Weekly News in a report that the ‘home’ captain would have submitted; meanwhile in Plymouth a report submitted by the Argyle secretary in the Western Morning News gives the score as 2-0 to the College. Argyle were scheduled to play Hotspur of Devonport a week later but no reported result has been found. The next match was on Saturday 30th October 1886 versus Plymouth College, captained by Ernest Harry Babb, on their Ford Park ground. Argyle won a hard fought and exciting match 2-1, with goals from Grose and Chapman (junior). In the next match a week later at Granby Barracks, Argyle were only able to field 10 men but still beat the Royal Artillery 5-0 with William Pethybridge scoring a hat-trick. The first reported ‘home’ match was at Mount Gould on Wednesday 11th December in a disputed 5-1 defeat of Plymouth United. The match venue had switched from Freedom Fields on the insistence of substitutes playing for Argyle. At the end of the 1888-89, William Pethybridge, left the Argyle Football Club. He made at least 37 appearances and scored 20 goals for the First XI including the club’s first hat-trick. Despite being consistently Argyle’s best player in match reports, he never held an elected official position. He was an unassuming and modest man but also very determined. After a five-year apprenticeship with Brian’s, he left the Town. In the 1889-90 season, he played for the Old Dunhevedians before moving to Cardiff in 1890.
Whilst he stopped playing football, he remained keenly interested in sport as an enthusiastic cricketer, and became vice-president of the Roath and Mackintosh Bowling Clubs and a member of the Penylan Club. A lifelong Wesleyan, he served the denomination as a local preacher, Sunday-school teacher, and society steward. He was for years hon. secretary of the Cardiff City Mission, and was been actively associated with the Young Men’s Christian Association of which he was a trustee.
A Liberal in politics, Alderman Pethybridge was vice-president of the Cardiff ‘East Liberal Association’, and for years as a member of the Executive of the ‘Cardiff Central Liberal Association’. In 1909 he was elected to the Cardiff city council and after becomg an alderman in 1923, he served as mayor of the city in 1924 and 1925 and being a Batchelor, his sister Alice, was his mayoress. During his year in office, Cardiff City reached the final of the F.A Cup on 25th April 1925 at Wembley where they lost to Sheffield United 1-0. The Argyle Football Club founder, as Cardiff’s highest civic dignitary, figured prominently in the Press build-up to the game. He sat in the Wembley royal box with the Duke and Duchess of York, and Ramsey McDonald the leader of the Labour Party. Following the match the Lord Mayor held a Civic Dinner for the losing finalists and William was photographed in the centre of the Cardiff City team. Never marrying, William passed away on April 19th, 1944, aged 79.
Post & News article of 1923.
Cardiff’s New Lord Mayor. Alderman W.H. Pethybridge.
The new Lord Mayor of Cardiff is Alderman W.H. Pethybridge, who was installed in the civic chair last Monday in succession to Mr Sydney Jenkins.
In proposing the resolution electing Alderman Pethybridge as Lord Mayor for the ensuing year at a salary of £1,500. per annum, Alderman C.H. Bird, J.P., said that Alderman Pethybridge, as every one probably knew, had had a long term of service in the council. He had given fourteen years unbroken service, and this very fact showed the extent to which the ratepayers of the ward he had represented had appreciated his services and the way those services had been carried out. Incidentally, the speaker announced that the Mayor of Launceston (Mr William Barriball) had sent a congratularly letter to the effect –“that he sent his heartiest greetings on behalf of the borough to Alderman Pethybridge, whom they were proud to remember as one of the distinguished sons of the town. The name of Pethybridge would ever remain fragrant in the memory of all Launcestonians by reason of the magnificent public service rendered to the town by the late Alderman Pethybridge, J.P.
“Alderman W.H. Pethybridge, who has 14 years unbroken service as a member of Cardiff Corporation to his credit, came to Cardiff in 1890 from Launceston, Cornwall, of which he is a native. He was educated at Dunheved College, and commenced work at the bank of Messrs. Dingley, Pethybridge, White, and Dingley, at Launceston, but later entered the legal profession after serving his articles with Mr T.C. Brian, of Plymouth, and Mr Graham-White, of Launceston, and with this solid grounding he soon worked up an extensive practice in Cardiff.
A lifelong Wesleyan, the Lord Mayor elect has rendered conspicuous service to the denomination as a local preacher, Sunday-school teacher, and society steward. He was for years hon. secretary of the Cardiff City Mission, and has been actively associated with the Young Men’s Christian Association of which he is a trustee.
A Liberal in politics, Alderman Pethybridge is vice-president of the Cardiff ‘East Liberal Association’, and for years as a member of the Executive of the ‘Cardiff Central Liberal Association’.
He is a member of the Court of Governors of the University of Wales, and has served on the committee of the Cardiff Incorporated Law Society.
He is a lifelong abstainer and a none-smoker.”