Gilbert C Vassall, an Oxonian Rambler

When the Vicar of Hardington Mandeville, William Vassall, died in 1883 his Widow Martha –  living by Private Means – moved her family from Somerset to Surrey so her sons could live at home while attending Charterhouse School. They would become one of the most famous sporting families of the late Victorian era and at least one of them is known to have played for Liverpool Ramblers.

Gilbert Claude Vassall, born 5th of April 1875, attended the Godalming location where he quickly established himself on the football field. During the Summer of 1895, he was instrumental in the formation of Yeovil Casuals AFC (Today’s Yeovil Town) and played for them before “going up” to Oxford, during the Michaelmas term, where he attended Oriel College.  Gilbert went straight into the University association football side where he joined his elder brother Archer who was in his second year at Keble College. On the 29th of November, Gilbert accepted an invitation to play for Liverpool Ramblers when they made their annual visit to Charterhouse. He scored a hat trick in a 5-3 win against a School side that included his younger brother Spencer.

On the 22nd of February 1896 -while still a Freshman – Gilbert C Vassall won his first “Blue” when selected to captain Oxford, against Cambridge, in the annual “Varsity Match”. It took place at the Queen’s Club in London and his side won 1-0. He also distinguished himself on the University athletic field by winning the Long Jump for Oxford against their Light Blue rivals. His skills on the football field were noticed by the FA who – on the 19th of February 1899 – invited him to take part in the international match between England and Ireland that was to be played at Sunderland. The date, however, clashed with the game between Oxford and Cambridge so he declined the offer in order to gain his third “Blue”.

On leaving Oxford, Gilbert appeared in an Old Carthusian side that contained such England Internationals as Gilbert O Smith and Charles Wreford-Brown. They shared the inaugural Arthur Dunn Cup final with Old Salopians and won the contest outright for the next three seasons. Gilbert would also make an occasional appearance with Yeovil Casuals where he played alongside his younger brother Leonard. He also became a member of the Corinthians and joined them -1904 – on a tour of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – where they won all six games – that concluded with a victory over the German champions, Leipzig.

According to the 1901 census, the Old Carthusian is living, with 2 servants, in Oxford and is employed, as a School Master, at the local Dragon School. On the 7th of January 1902, Gilbert Claude Vassall married Rosa Mary Cotter at Holy Trinity church in Yeovil. Her late Father was a Clergyman and the service was performed by her brother who was also a Clerk under Holy Orders. Gilbert- when he ended his football career with Yeovil Casuals – was playing cricket for the West Coker club from where he made six first-class appearances for Somerset.

The 1911 census finds the couple living on Charlbury Road in Oxford – where they are waited upon by 3 servants- and Gilbert is now joint Headmaster at the Dragon School. Following the death of Rosa in 1928, he married Brenda O Ferrall, the daughter of a Clergyman, in a quiet ceremony near Uckfield in Sussex. Gilbert C Vassall was living in Oxford when he died on the 19th of September, 1941, and was survived by his Wife and Daughter.

Footnote. Also in The Ramblers side that visited Charterhouse in 1895 was the Honourable Reginald Francis Bootle Wilbraham. He was born, 21-6-1875, at Mary-le-Bone in London and was the 4th son of the 2nd Earl of Lathom. According to the 1881 census, he and other young members of this family are residing at Portland Place in London under the supervision of a Governess. Reginald next attended Eton College before being admitted to Cambridge University, at Michaelmas Term 1894, to study at Trinity College. On leaving Cambridge he held a Colonial Government appointment in Sierra Leone before returning to England where  – on the 18th of March 1903 – he married Lillian May Holt whose Father is a Major in the H A C.  They then left England to fill a Colonial Government post in Somaliland town of Berbera.  The Honourable Reginald F B Wilbraham was residing at this location when suddenly died of a heart attack on the 21st of June 1912. He was just 37 years old.