About Sir Charles Elliott      Back to Main Index

(Extracted from spring 1957 Elliottonian Magazine)

This is a reprint of an article by Mrs Williams from the first Putney edition of the Elliottonian. It was published in the Spring of 1957, soon after the new school opened. The School badge bearing the elephant’s head is a copy of the family crest of the Elliotts. Mr. Charles Elliott, one of the governors, has declared the newly designed badge to be a close replica of his own crest, The name of the school, together with the crest, came to us in 1911 when Sir Charles Elliott, Chairman of the Managers of the school, then known as Southfields School, gave permission for the school to be renamed after him. Since that time the staff and pupils of the school have been very proud of the record of this distinguished man, and here in the first issue of the new magazine we might examine what type of man it was whose name we bear.

The Records of his family go back to the time of the border raids when the Scots would suddenly swoop down over the border and carry off the cattle and belongings of the English farmers, burning their farms and crops before they rode off. It is said that one of the Elliotts, Jock Elliott, was one of the most desperate of these raiders. All through the Elliott family history one feels this strain of adventure and love of danger, although it was harnessed to far more useful work than Jock’s. We hear of the Elliotts at the time of the Rising of 1715 when, as happened in so many families, the sons stood for the pretender and the father for the King.

Later in the story of the Elliott family we learn of Charlotte Elliott, a writer of beautiful hymns, including two well-Known ones, “Christians, seek not yet repose”, and “Just as I am, without one plea.” The Charles Elliott who died on October 15th, 1832, was one of the 17 original founders of the Church Missionary Society.

The Reverend Henry Venn Elliott who lived in the beginning of the 19th century was educated at the Trinity College, Cambridge, and won the Trinity Oration Cup, as did his son, Sir Charles, and grandson, Mr Claude Elliott. This clergyman’s youngest son was one of the first presidents of the English Alpine Club. He was killed while climbing the Schreckhorn and was buried at Grindelwald in Switzerland. His second son, Charles, entered the Indian Civil Service and went out to India in 1856. He was present at most of the fighting of the Indian Mutiny.

Like his forebears, border raiders, Sir Charles was a desperate fighter. One of the stories of his wonderful exploits tells how, hearing that a large band of mutineers was about to attack a loyal rajah, he rode out with his troop to intercept them. Sighting the rebels, he gave the order to charge, and led the way at a gallop. Before the moment of clash he glanced over his shoulder to see if the troop were in good order. They were in perfect order but at least a mile away and galloping hard towards the rear, and he was all alone!

There was only one thing to be done, and he did it. Setting spurs to his horse, he rode straight for the rebel leader and shot him through the heart with his single-barrelled pistol. The leader fell but was just able to complete a feeble stroke with his talwar. This, with its jewelled scabbard, remains a treasured possession of the Elliott family. The rebels, seeing their leader fall, turned tail and Sir Charles remained alone and unharmed on the field.

Later in his life Sir Charles became Lieutenant-Governor of the great Province of Bengal. Finally in the last years of his life when he had retired from the public service, Sir Charles was a member of the Finance Committee of the London County Council, Chairman of the Managers of the Southfields School, and in last year of his life gave his name to the School.

During the years between 1911 and today, members of the Elliott family have frequently visited the school. Sir Charles’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Frank Elliott, was constantly wandering in to the school and was on the Board of Managers, as also was Miss Doreen Elliott, who is reckoned one of the most accomplished ski- runners of the day, and who holds the distinction of having been the first British subject to win a Swiss Open Ski-Championship. Mr Claude Elliott, Provost of Eton, has twice attended speech Day of the school. Mr. Charles Elliott has been a School Governor for many years and has taken a very active interest in the creation of the new comprehensive Elliott School.

This, then, is the family to whom the school owes its name and crest. It is a family with a love of adventure, boundless courage, rich alike in achievement and scholarship. Its various members set a worthy example for the pupils of the school to emulate so that the new Elliott School can be something of which Sir Charles himself would have been proud.