Samuel Houghton


Samuel HOUGHTON (1871 – 1892)

Below is a transcript from the Runcorn Guardian of 10th February 1892 (kindly sent to me by Howard Peacock):


“This player, who has deservedly gained international and county honours, called forth the following notice and complimentary remarks in the football edition of a Liverpool contemporary, on Saturday evening: Born in the year 1871 he can only be said to have just reached the age of manhood – budding manhood if we may say so, judging by the shadowy streak of “down” which gracefully embellishes his upper lip; a moustache in embryo, as it were, which, no doubt, Houghton greatly cherishes and encourages. Our friend first saw the “light of day”, or as some people will have it, first commenced his troubles, in the salubrious town of Runcorn, so that he has got, what a good many county representatives boast of, a “birth qualification” for Cheshire. Judging from his powerful build and appearance, Houghton must have been a sturdy kicker in his infancy; but the earliest record we have of his attainments in this respect was when he was thirteen years old. At that age he was a member of the St John’s Juniors, a small local club, for which he played full back. From the Saints, he graduated to the Halton, then on to the Runcorn Recreation, so that in a brief season or two he had developed into one of the most promising young Ruby players in the district. It was while connected with the “Recs.” that Houghton first attracted the attention of the premier Runcorn club, by whom his services were secured to play full back for their “A” team – the nursery of the “Cheshire champions”. A season’s coaching was all that was necessary to make him a worthy successor to A W. Brazendale, who, it will be recollected, was at one time the ablest full back Cheshire county possessed. Houghton made his debut in the first team ranks of the famous Runcorn club against Birkenhead Park – their greatest rivals in the county – two seasons back, when he won bright opinions from the critics, and the quidnuncs predicted rightly that he was the “coming player”. Last season he first donned the Cheshire colours against the Midland Counties, though, if we recollect right, he refused the honour of wearing the jersey in a previous match. From that date, however, Houghton has taken part in all the Cheshire County fixtures. His meritorious performances in these engagements won for him the admiration of the Rugby world, and when the North Committee were called upon to select a team to oppose the South, Houghton’s claims could not be passed over. In this encounter, he added fresh bays to his laurels as a county man, and his play gave such satisfaction that it was said the young Runcornian would soon reach the top rung of the ladder in the Rugby field. It caused some disappointment to his club and county that he was not selected for the international match against Wales on January 2nd. But it was felt certain that his time would come before the present season closed. Those expectations have been verified, for today he figures on the England side against Ireland, and we shall be a little surprised if he is not chosen to do duty against Scotland later on, which is the most important of the three international games played.
As a player, Houghton is most unassuming. No matter how hard pressed, his temper always remains unruffled – a splendid characteristic in a football player and his face throughout the game is wreathed in a broad, beaming smile of contentment and satisfaction, which ensures confidence to his colleagues, as well as those who are watching at the ring side. Houghton’s play as full back is so well known in this part of the country, and the North generally, that it requires no recommendation from us. We shall, however, be making no exaggerated statement by saying that he has not a superior at the present day in the country as a Rugby full back.”

For the record, England played Ireland at Whalley Range (Manchester) on the 6th February 1892, where England beat Ireland by 7-0 . Sam also played full back for England in their match against Wales on the 4th January 1896, where England won 25-0.

Below is a team photo of the Cheshire players taken in 1892 prior to their match against Lancashire (thanks to Howard Peacock for providing me with a copy of this photo).


Cheshire rugby football team 1892
Cheshire rugby football team 1892














Aside from his football achievements, his obituary mentions that Sam was the licensee of the Egerton Arms in Bridge St, Runcorn and that he had previously served as a ship’s carpenter. He was also an enthusiast of bowling and had recently taken up motoring. That he also had a wife and family is mentioned in passing.

I am indebted to Steve Jones for providing me with the transcription of the headstone for Samuel and his family at Runcorn cemetery (the grave is located in plot 12, grave number 262):

Sam Houghton gravestone photo
Sam Houghton gravestone photo




















In Loving memory of


Son of Samuel and Annie Houghton

Born Nov 10th 1893
Died Nov 26th 1893

Also MAY, their daughter

Born May 1st 1895
Died August 26th 1896


Died August 17th 1920, aged 49 years

Also the above ANNIE HOUGHTON
Died June 9th 1954 aged 80 years

Grandson of the above
Died April 12th 1944 aged 9 weeks

Sam’s obituary, as printed in the Runcorn Weekly News on the 20th August 1920, is reproduced below – click the thumbnail for full size version. (My thanks to Howard Peacock for the cutting):

Sam Houghton Obituary
Sam Houghton Obituary







The Widnes Weekly News printed the following notice on 27 August 1920:

“The funeral of Sam HOUGHTON. Striking tribute to Runcorn international. Chief mourners were Messrs. Arthur HOUGHTON, Samuel HOUGHTON, Harry HOUGHTON and John HOUGHTON, sons; James HOUGHTON, uncle.”

On the 21 January 1921, they printed this in memoriam notice:

“In memoriam HOUGHTON. In loving birthday remembrance, 26 January, of my dear husband Samuel HOUGHTON passed peacefully away August 17th 1920, from his dear wife and children. Egerton Arms Runcorn.”

I’ve tried to build up a picture of the family through the snapshots provided by the censuses, although the picture does become somewhat fuzzy the further back I looked. Everything seems consistent until we get to 1871, where Joseph is suddenly 20 years older than he should be and is married to Sarah, not Eliza. Parents aside, the children do appear to be consistent:

1911 Census (Egerton Arms, Bridge Street, Runcorn)

Samuel HOUGHTON, 41, Licensed victualler, b. Runcorn
Annie HOUGHTON, wife, 37, b. Winwick, Lancs
Ethel HOUGHTON, dau, 12, b. Runcorn
Arthur HOUGHTON, son, 7, b. Runcorn
Samuel HOUGHTON, son, 6, b. Runcorn
Nellie WARBURTON, sister-in-law, single, 20, domestic servant, b. Runcorn

1901 Census (High Street, Runcorn)

Samuel HOUGHTON, 30, Licensed victualler, b. Runcorn
Annie HOUGHTON, wife, 26, b. Winwick, Lancs
Ethel HOUGHTON, dau, 2, b. Runcorn
Alice Wakefield, serv, 20, domestic servant, b. Runcorn

Searching Cheshire BMD, there is a record of a Samuel HOUGHTON marrying an Annie WARBURTON In Runcorn in 1893.

1891 Census (6 Hartley Street, Runcorn)

Joseph HOUGHTON, 56, General labourer, b. Great Budworth, Cheshire
Eliza HOUGHTON, wife, 51, b. Runcorn
Samuel HOUGHTON, son, 21, Carpenter, b. Runcorn

Next door at No.8 Hartley St are Joseph and Mary WARBURTON, with their 17 year old daughter Annie.

1881 Census (Hartley Street, Runcorn)

Joseph HOUGHTON, 45, cooper, b. Marbury, Cheshire
Eliza HOUGHTON, wife, 45, b. Runcorn
Thomas HOUGHTON, son, 20, general labourer, b. Runcorn
Eliza HOUGHTON, dau, 13, scholar, b. Runcorn
Samuel HOUGHTON, son, 11, scholar, b. Runcorn
Charles HOUGHTON, son, 10(?), scholar, b. Runcorn

Again, the WARBURTON family are living next door.

1871 Census (Mason Street, Runcorn)

Joseph HOUGHTON, 50, Chimy. works lab., b. Great Budworth, Cheshire
Sarah HOUGHTON, wife, 30, domestic, b. Cumberbach, Cheshire
Joseph H. HOUGHTON, 12, b. Halton, Cheshire
Thomas HOUGHTON, son, 9, b. Runcorn
Eliza HOUGHTON, dau, 3, b. Runcorn
Samuel HOUGHTON, son, 1, b. Runcorn

1861 (Robert Street, Runcorn)

Joseph HOUGHTON, 24, Dock porter, b. Great Budworth
Ann HOUGHTON, wife, 22, b. Grappenhall, Cheshire
Joseph Henry HOUGHTON, son, 2, b. Runcorn
William HOUGHTON, son, 1, b. Runcorn

More insight into Sam’s extended family comes from this obituary printed in the Widnes Weekly News on 28 June 1918:

“Mrs STUBBS of 4 Hill Cottages, Higher Runcorn, has received word that her brother, Private William HOUGHTON has been killed in France during, it is surmised, one of the German air-raids on British hospitals. He was the son of Mr and Mrs Joseph Henry HOUGHTON of Irwell Lane, Runcorn, and was 38 years of age. He emigrated to Canada some 7 years ago and joined the 36th battalion of Canadian forces in January 1915.  He susbequently participated in several attacks and was wounded 3 times. After spending some months in hospitals in England, he was transferred to the RAMC and met his death while serving in this capacity. He leaves a wife, who at the moment she received the notification of her husband’s death, was expecting word that he was coming home on leave. He had 3 children. Private HOUGHTON is a nephew of Sam HOUGHTON the well known Runcorn Northern Union player.”

I searched on The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and found a record for William which is reproduced below:

Name: HOUGHTON, William
Initials: W
Nationality: Canadian
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Canadian Army Medical Corps
Unit text: 7th Canadian Gen. Hosp.
Age: 40
Date of Death: 20/05/1918
Service No.: 406908
Additional Information: Son of Joseph Henry and Sarah HOUGHTON, of Runcorn, Cheshire; husband of E. HOUGHTON of 320, Britannia Avenue, Hamilton, Ontario.
Caualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: LXVII. D. 2.
Cemetery: Etaples Military Cemetery

Below are two census records for what appears to be William and his parents:

1881 Census (Mason St, Runcorn)

Joseph Hy. HOUGHTON, 23, Chemical labourer, b. Runcorn
Sarah HOUGHTON, wife, 21, b. Runcorn
William HOUGHTON, son, 1, b. Runcorn

1891 Census (6 Norfolk St, Runcorn)

Joseph H. HOUGHTON, 32, General labourer, b. Runcorn
Sarah HOUGHTON, wife, 30, b. Runcorn
William HOUGHTON, son, 12, Scholar, b. Runcorn
Elizabeth A. HOUGHTON, dau, 10, Scholar, b. Runcorn
Eliza HOUGHTON, dau, 8, b. Runcorn
Charles HOUGHTON, brother, single, 20, Cooper (apprentice), b. Runcorn
John HOUGHTON, uncle, widower, 40, General labourer, b. Frodsham

If you know of any other biographical information that could be included on this page (it would great to know more about Sam’s non-sporting life or get hold of a photo of him) or you have details of or are related in some way to members of his family (I’d particulary like to follow up on his nephew William who emigrated to Canada ~ 1911), then please get in touch.

9 Replies to “Samuel Houghton”

  1. Dear John,
    We were very interested to read your pages. My mother is Rona Lennon (nee Houghton), her father was Arthur Houghton. She remembers Grandma Houghton (Annie) well. My Mum has a photo of Samuel Houghton and also one of his Rugby caps for England. We could send images of these if you are interested.

    With best regards,
    Rachel Wolowczyk

    1. Dear Rachel,

      Thank you for getting in touch and I’m glad you found something of interest on my page about Samuel and his family. I haven’t checked recently to see whether there are any more up-to-date records available so I’ll remedy that soon and update my page accordingly. I have done a quick review online (you may recall that in the censuses, the name Warburton crops up a few times) and I’ve found a Samuel Houghton who married an Annie Warburton in Runcorn in 1893. This appears to be correct as I have found a public family tree on which has a Samuel Houghton and Annie Warburton with birth dates that are in line with what we have found. I have also found a probate record for Samuel that might be of interest: Samuel’s effects were £3291 7s which he left to his widow Annie.

      I would be delighted to receive any photos or images that you are able to send – I’ll contact you directly with my email address.

      Regards, John

    2. Hi Rachel. I am researching the men to have played rugby for England. I see you mention a photo of Samuel Houghton. Would it be possible to e-mail me a hi res copy of it please? It would be much appreciated.

  2. Hi John, my name is Darren from Queensland Australia, I am trying to find out who
    W. Houghton is. He played N.C.R.L and his team, Pomona F.C. were premiers in 1923.
    Any info would be appreciated.

  3. Hi there John,
    I came across William Houghton because we received information leading us to believe he was a British Home Child. I’m the Head Researcher of the First World War project with the British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association.
    Unfortunately, we couldn’t make a connection between the information provided by Perry Snow and what we were able to find of the Houghton family. We found your blog by chance in a google search.
    I have copies records for everything we recovered and would be glad to forward them on if you contact me via my e-mail address.

    In addition to what you found in census records – Which we also found and agree with, there was the following information.

    Full Military file.

    1901 English Census records place married Elizabeth M (24) and William Houghton (21, Runcorn, Cheshire) in Widnes, Prescot, Lancashire, England. William is a Chemical Labourer by trade.

    England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837-1915
    Name: Eliza Houghton
    Registration Year: 1902
    Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun
    Registration district: Runcorn
    Inferred County: Cheshire
    Volume: 8a
    Page: 429
    Spouse: Herbert Stubbs

    1911 English Census records place the family of Elizabeth Martha (34) and Willie Houghton (31) at 53 Moorfield Road, Crowood, in Widnes, Lancashire, England. In residence was widowed Boarder Mary Anne Jones (65) and Frederick William Jones (26). As well as the couple’s children Elsie (14) and Ethel (7). Willie was a Chemical Labourer by trade, born in Runcorn, Cheshire.
    The couple had been married 10 years with 3 children born to them, 2 were still living while one had passed away.
    Mary Anne Jones was the mother of Elizabeth Martha Jones, while Frederick William was her cousin according to a 1914 Boarder crossing into the United States of America.

    Attestation papers were signed 16 Apr 1915 in Hamilton, Ontario. William Houghton was born 5 Dec 1878 in Runcorn, Cheshire, England. He was a Skilled Labourer that worked on Engines by trade. His Next of Kin was Elizabeth Martha Houghton of 252 Brittannia Avenue, Homeside, Hamilton, Ontario. He appeared to be 36 years and 5 months of age, 5’8″ in height with brown eyes and dark brown hair. He had 4 vaccination marks on each arm. His religion was noted as Church of England.

    An additional address for his Widow, Elizabeth Martha Houghton was noted as 2 Harmony Ave, Homeside, Hamilton. She was willed his Medals and Scroll and all of his personal estate.
    Private Houghton had previously suffered a gunshot wound to his right shoulder and back 12 Aug 1916, he recovered and returned to duty. He also suffered Appendicitis and the Mumps while in service.

    Commonwealth War Graves Registers and Circumstances of Casualty state that he was Killed in Action when a bomb was dropped from a hostile machine during an air raid on a Military Hospital in Etaples, Nord Pas de Calais, France.
    Next of Kin was Mrs. E. Simpson of 320 Brittania Avenue, Homeside, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He was buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, Etaples, Nord Pas de Calais, France. Plot: LXVII. D. 2. Grave registration confirms that he was the son of Joseph Henry and Sarah Houghton, of Runcorn, Cheshire and the husband of E. Houghton, of 320 Britannia Avenue, Hamilton, Ontario.

    In addition to his Military memorial, his wife had written on his grave, “Thy purpose Lord we cannot see but all is well that’s done by thee”.

    Wife remarried: 1919 Marriage records for Wentowrth County, Ontario wed widow Elizabeth Martha Houghton (41) to Peter Simpson (39). Elizabeth notes her parents names were Mary Ann Cooper and Richard Jones, she was originally from England.

    Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928
    Name: Elizabeth Martha Houghton
    Age: 41
    Birth Date: abt 1878
    Birth Place: England
    Marriage Date: 30 Aug 1919
    Marriage County or District: Wentworth
    Father: Richard Jones
    Mother: Mary Ann Cooper
    Spouse: Peter Simpson
    Spouse’s Age: 39
    Spouse Birth Date: abt 1880
    Spouse Birth Place: England
    Spouse Father: Peter Simpson
    Spouse Mother: Margaret O’Brien

    1921 Canadian Census records place the family of Elisabeth (44) and Peter Simpson (40) at 320 Brittania Street in Barton Township, Wentworth, Ontario. In residence were Stepdaughters Ethel (17) and Hilda (7). The women note they came to Canada in 1912. Peter worked in a Factory as a Labourer by trade.

    Hopefully this adds to what you already know. Please don’t hesitate to write if you have any questions or would like copies of records.

    1. Jenn, I am very grateful for the detailed information you have shared and would welcome copies of the relevant records you have. As you suggest, I will contact you directly. Regards, John

  4. John,
    My great-grandfather, Ivie Heyes, played alongside Samuel for Birkenhead Wanderers in the 1895-96 season. I have a photo that I can send to you, if you wish.

  5. My grandfather, Henry Longton Houghton (Harry) was the nephew of Eliza Houghton (Stubbs) and lived with them at Hills Cottage, Highlands Road, Runcorn. She was the sister of William Houghton and Samuel Houghton was her uncle. We think Harry’s mother was Eliza’s sister, Elizabeth Anne Houghton who died in 1902/3 and that a Henry Longton was his father. My grandad used to attend many football matches when he was young and we wondered how he got the tickets, now we know! Harry Houghton had 3 children including my dad Neville, his brother Kelvin and sister Marjorie all had a middle name of Longton.

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