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Frederick William Strange
Founder of Collegiate Sport Rowing in Japan
The story of  Frederick William Strange first came to my attention whgen I was contacted by  Dr. Richard D. Lewis IV, D LTC POJ ; he copied his enquiry to: Norio Kimura, International Director of JARA Director of Yokohama Rowing Association:

Subject: Frederick William Strange Founder of Collegate Sport Rowing in Japan
I am attempting to determine some information on Mr. Frederick William Strange, born about 1854 (in the UK?), was a good rower, is credited for starting the college rowing program in Japan, is said to be from Devonshire, and was said to have attended Eton. However, upon research Eton has no record of his attendance. Mr. Christopher Dodd Historian of the Henley Museum did a bit of research on him back in 1982 but to no avail. No tracks could be found of him anywhere in the UK. I am hoping that the Strange family historians and genealogists may be able to provide some clues to his background. 

This is briefly what is known about Mr. Frederick William Strange:  In 1858 the Edo Shogunate concluded commercial treaties with five Western Nations, resulting in 1860 of the appearance of a western settlement in Yokohama, Japan. A European rowing club was established in 1866 which at some later time became the Yokohama Amateur Rowing Club (YARA). The boat house facilites evidently lasted until WWII, as the structure and club was used to intern Australian Nurses captured in WWII. In 1873 the young (about 18 years of age) Mr. Frederick William Strange arrived in Yokohama, Japan, supposedly arriving in country alone, to make his own way. It is not positively known, but second hand sources say that he was educated at Eton and was a native of Devonshire. He obviously came to Japan as an experienced rower, a well educated young man, a gift for language, and with some means to start a life as an expate. He joined the YARC and rowed at Yokohama. In 1875, Mr. Strange obtained a position as an English instructor at Hitotsubashi foreign language school, which was later part of the Imperial University. A leisure rowing program was established at the school in about 1877 but in 1884 Mr Strange supervised the construction of some six-oared boats and established a competitive rowing program at the University. Evidently there may have been some government sponsorship as the shogun wished to have a stronger Imperial Navy in Japan. In 1885 the first International Race was held near the Yokahama Hotel between YARC and the Imperial University.  Mr. Strange was evidently a man with the right sort of stuff, as he rowed out in the lake at Hokone (a European style hot spring resort and lake area close to Yokohama) to save and rescue his future bride, Ms. Edith.  Soon, in 1881 at the age of 26 he was married to Ms. Edith and in 1885 and 1888 a son and daughter were born. On July 5th 1889, Mr. Strange died of heart disease and was buried in Aoyama Cemetery, Tokyo.  Frederick William Strange is the recognized "Father of Rowing" in Japan, but almost nothing at all is known about his background, school, or family in England or Wales. Any information concerning his public school rowing, background, and family history would be of keen interest to the National rowing organization in Japan. In the past, inquires had been made at Eton, but no record of his attendance was found. Hoping that you may be of some assistance in the background of young Frederick.

Christopher Dodd at the Henley Museum writes: I checked out Strange as much as I could when writing The Story of World Rowing. He's strange indeed. None of the institutiions where he claims education of loinks have heard of him. I'll have another think, but what I learned about him is in that book (Stanley Paul, 1992), now sadly out of print, but I can send you a photocopy of the relevant bit by snail or fax if you wish. Chris Dodd

Many thanks, Hope someone in the Strange family can shed some light on the background of Frederick William Strange. 


The first part of the story was to be unravelled by Pat de Haer; she said here goes with some of the information I sent Richard Lewis.  If anyone else can help, Richard would be most grateful as he is trying to find current members of this family.

Frederick William Strange birth registered Dec quarter 1853 St Pancras.  Baptised 24 March 1854 at Old Church St Pancras. Parents James Thompson Strange and Martha Strange nee Kemp. He died 5 July 1889 in Tokyo Japan.  His death was reported in the Japanese newspapers and the North China Herald. He was a teacher and rower and whilst in Japan had received the Order of the Rising Sun. Married Edith Dwight Sandford (born c1857, American citizen) on 29 December 1881 in Japan.Two children were born into this marriage, firstly Frederick Baily Strange c1885 at Yedo (now Tokyo) Japan and secondly a daughter who has not been traced. After Fredericks death Edith remarried in Japan.

James Thompson Strange baptised 14 Sept 1817 St James Westminster, parents James Strange and Elizabeth Baily Strange nee Thompson. Married Martha Kemp Sept quarter 1846 Kensington. Martha was born c1819 Islington. James died age 51 on the 28 April 1869 at 19 Alfred St Tottenham Court Rd. He left a considerable will of £8,000 to his wife Martha and children James Walter, Orlando Baily, Frederick William and Elizabeth Patty. Also mentioned is his brother Francis Thompson Strange. His death reported in the Times of London on the 4 May 1869 says he was a wine merchant and formerly a Professor of Mathematics at the late College of Civil Engineers Putney. The 1861 census shows part of the family living at 19 Alfred St, but the 3 first born sons were not living there, were they away at boarding school ?. In the 1862 Kelly and Co directory of London it shows James at 'Marlborough Arms' 19 Alfred St, wine merchant and counting house. Three years later he is still at the same address but has added importer of foreign wines and spirits to the list. Martha his wife died 6 Dec 1884 at 42 Appach Rd Brixton Rise, Surrey and left a very small sum to her daughter Elizabeth Patty. The two of them can be found living at that address in the 1881 census. Children born to James and Martha:  James Walter Strange birth registered Jun quarter 1847 Kensington, married ? Dec quarter 1871 Pancras. Orlando Wilfred Strange also known as Orlando Baily Strange born June quarter 1851 Pancras (baptised 5 Sept 1851 Old Church), married ? Sept quarter 1882 London City. Died age 42, registered June quarter 1894 Alderbury. The only trace of him has been found in Kellys London directory 1892 living at 36 Deacon St Walworth Surrey. He is under Strange O--- Baily, surgeon. No will has been traced for him. Frederick William Strange, please see above. Elizabeth Patty Strange birth registered Sept quarter 1855 Pancras (bapt 1 Oct 1856 Old Church), married Edward Joseph Deer, Sept quarter 1881 Lambeth.

Kemp George Strange birth registered Dec quarter 1856 Pancras (bapt 5 Oct 1859 Old Church) and death registered Sept quarter 1861 Pancras. Frank Hastings Strange ( middle name of Hastings could be because his fathers brother, Francis lived in Hastings) birth registered Dec quarter 1859 Pancras (bapt 5 Oct 1859 Old Church). In the 1881 census he is found living as a boarder at 26 Keens Rd Croydon Surrey and his occupation is Commercial Clerk. Married ? Sept quarter 1887 Croydon. Death registered Sept quarter 1912 at Croydon, he was aged 52 years.

James Strange born c1797, no death date known. He married Elizabeth Baily Thompson on 26 October 1816 at St James Westminster. Children as follows; James Thompson Strange baptised 14 Sept 1817 St James Westminster. Married Martha Kemp 1846 and died 1869. Julia Anne Strange baptised 25 May 1819 St James Westminster, buried All Hallows Bread St London 1820 re City of London burial indexes 1 and 2. Emily Mary Strange baptised 10 Nov 1820 St James Westminster. Married ? Archer March quarter 1842 Greenwich. Francis Thompson Strange baptised 14 May 1823 St James Westminster. Married Charlotte M N ? Sept quarter 1851 Tavistock Devon, died 27 Nov 1893 Hastings. Frederick Metzner Strange baptised 23 Jan 1825 St James Westminster. Married Sabina Sarah Jones 9 Jan 1894 St Pancras, died Sept quarter 1886 Lewisham.

The family of Francis Thompson Strange. In the 1881 census Francis and wife Charlotte (she died Sept quarter 1919 age 88 Tonbridge) can be found at 7 Stratford Place Hastings. Francis is a Hosier and Glover. His wife Charlotte says she is born c 1831 at St Clements Danes London. By 1891 they have moved to 42 White Rock Place Hastings where they have living with them their granddaughter Ethel Lilian Rodder age 10 who was born East End London. When Francis died on the 27 November 1893 at Hastings, probate was left to his son Alfred Wellesley Strange, Hosier.

The children traced so far as regards Francis Thompson Strange and wife Charlotte; Alfred Wellesley Strange birth registered March quarter 1853 Clerkenwell. He married ? June quarter 1890 Hastings and died March quarter 1935 W Ashford Kent age 82 years. Frank Edward Strange birth registered March quarter 1872 Hastings (Silverhill), married ? Sept quarter 1893 Hastings and died Sept quarter 1957 Hastings age 85.

There are several more births found at Hastings in the GRO from 1891 to 1894 but without buying the certificates we can only guess which children belong to Alfred and Frank. Those children are as follows; Lilian Sept quarter 1891, Frank Sept quarter 1893, Francis Allen Dec quarter 1894 and Gladys Mary Dec quarter 1894.

The family of Frederick Metzner Strange. Frederick married Sabina Sarah (Sarah Sabina) Jones March quarter 1849 St Pancras. Sabina (Sarah) was born c 1825-1833 Westerham Kent and died June quarter 1897 Godstone age 64. In the 1881 census Frederick is found at Tormoham Devon as F M Strange and is a Commercial Traveller living at the Queens Hotel. At the same time Sabina/Sarah is found living at 24 Amersham Road Deptford Kent with 3 of her children. In the 1862 Kelly and Co directory of London, Frederick is quoted as a oil and lamp importer at 3 Adelaide Pl, EC and by 1865 he has moved to 15 Cannon St. The name "Metzner" can be traced back to the sister of Elizabeth Baily Thompson (above, wife of James Strange), who was Mary Thompson who married William Lloyd Metzner 11 Dec 1814 St James Westminster.  Children traced so far to Frederick and Sabina; In the 1881 census, 1. Sybil Emily Strange birth registered March quarter 1850 Sevenoaks, 2. Nina Strange c 1859 Islington (not traced on GRO), 3. Franklin Christopher Strange birth registered Dec quarter 1861 Godstone (born Wallingham).

These two I found whilst researching the above families but so far they haven't fitted in:
John Bailey Strange baptised 3 June 1797 Lechlade Gloucestershire, parents Robert Strange and Mary. Married Charlotte Clarke 16 Aug 1830 Old Church St Pancras. John died March quarter 1838 Bishopsgate. In the Pigot's directory of London 1839 he runs the Bartholomew Arms. Children to this couple found so far.

Frederick Bailey Strange baptised 9 Oct 1831 St John Bapt Shoreditch. See below. William Strange baptised 17 May 1833 St Bartholomew the Great. Frederick Bailey Strange married Mary Overell (born c 1837 High Ongar Essex) March quarter 1858 Ongar. Frederick died 9 May 1889 at Bournemouth. His estate was left to his wife Mary and James Bacon of the Olives Dunmow Essex. His death is mentioned in the Times London of the 15 May 1889 and his funeral took place at Old Southgate Cemetery. Frederick is recorded in the Kelly's London directories thus; 1862 at the Cherry Tree (PH), 111 BackChurch La Whitechapel. 1865 at the Northumberland Arms (PH) 141 King's Cross Road. 1873 at the Red Ho (PH) 2 College St Chelsea. 1880 at the Clarendon Hotel (PH) 85 Clarendon Rd.

In the 1881 census the family can still be found at 85 Clarendon Rd Kensington, but the surname is spelt 'Strangs' and Frederick B comes up as Frederick 'D'. They had 8 children, Charlotte Mary 1858 Whitechapel, died 1859 Whitechapel, Lewis Frederick 1861 died in 1862 as Louis Frederick at Whitechapel. Then baptised at Old Church St Pancras were Emma 1865 and Elizabeth 1868. Florence was born 1870 Chelsea, Kate 1873 Chelsea, Frank 1875 Hackney and Harry (Herbert Henry ?) 1877 Hackney.

Just an update "Emily Mary Strange married a Thomas Archer Mar 1842 Greenwich".

Also in a recent e-mail from a Paul Strange he mentioned a will for Elizabeth Bailey Strange which came up on your will indexes. She died 1 December 1847 but administration of her personal estate was not granted till 19 March 1878. Makes you wonder what the delay was!.


The second part was to come from Rae Fether  on 5th October 2003

My mother was Majorie Strange and I have been researching the family for several years. and have information regarding Frederick William Strange; he was a younger brother of my great grandfather James Walter Strange.

Here is an update on the the search for Frederick William STRANGE, ‘father of Japanese rowing etc’ and younger brother of my g grandfather James Walter STRANGE.

Since contacting Richard D. Lewis, I took up the challenge where Pat de Haer left off and made some progress:

After the death (1869) of their father, James Thompson STRANGE, wine merchant and licensed victualler, Frederick William’s family is found in the census 1871 at Oxford Lodge, Spencer Road Chiswick. This was part of the Grove Park Estate, near the river and being newly developed by the Duke of Devonshire to attract sports loving folk with boathouses, cricket fields etc.

James Walter STRANGE, Head, 23 yrs, Wine Merchant
Martha, Mother, 52 yrs, Annuitant
Orlando B., Brother, 19 yrs Medical Student
Frederick W., Brother, 17 yrs, Clerk to Wine Merchant
Elizabeth, Sister, 15 yrs, Scholar + Cook, Housemaid and male servant described as Groom (Domestic).

Frederick William, I assumed would be working for his brother James Walter whose wine business was at 42 Ludgate Hill in the City. Missing is the youngest brother Frank Hastings age 12 yrs. James Walter marries Emily JONES in Dec 1871 at St Lukes Kentish Town and moves to 56 Hilldrop Crescent Holloway.

Records for Frank Hastings and Frederick William attending University College School in 1868/9 have been found by the Japanese while researching the history of the first Japanese scholars sent to study in England. There were a group of thirteen of them at UCS at the same time as Frederick William.

The Japanese thought that Frederick William came from “Devonshire”. Chiswick Local History Library had archive records of a F. Maynards Boat builders, The Devonshire Boathouse, Chiswick in Grove Park close to where Frederick lived. Among these was Frank Maynard’s 1871 diary/account book with (amazingly!) references to ‘Mr Strange hire of sculling boat for the season - £5.0.0’ among others. Research in ‘Rowing Almanacks’ at the British Library showed all three Strange brothers at one point, Orlando, Frederick and Frank Hastings (as the cox) rowing for the “Grove Park Rowing Club” from 1870 –73 which was based at the Devonshire Boat House . The family then moves to 17 Bridge Avenue Hammersmith around 1874 and just Frederick is found rowing out for the Hammersmith based “North London Rowing Club”, in 1874. I think the Japanese were pleased to find his rowing club and more about his family but a bit disappointed that he hadn’t gone to Eton or University.

The Japanese record him arriving on the P & O ship S.S. Orissa at Yokohama on 23 March 1875. P & O ships ran on a two week schedule; if he did not stop off on the way, he would have taken the ship Malwa from Southampton on 28 January to Brindisi, Suez and Galle where he would have picked up the ship Khiva to Hong Kong, then the Orissa to Yokohama. Quite an adventure for a young man. Sadly no passenger lists exist.

His older brother Orlando Bailey qualified as a surgeon in 1876 and around 1880 became medical officer for the Jorehaut Tea Company in Assam. He came back to England to marry in 1882, returning to Assam and stayed there until around 1889. He married again in June 1892 to Ann Elizabeth BIRD in Worcs, had a daughter in Oct 1893, Gladys Gertrude married name SIMS, and died in 1894. I am stuck on finding where he studied medicine as unfortunately the Royal College of Surgeons are no longer doing ‘in depth’ searches for family history researchers due to lack of resources.

I intend to search the University College School archives when I have time, to see if there is further information to be found on the Strange brothers and any sign in particular of my g grandfather James Walter Strange.

Pat de Haer referred to their grandparents (my 3 x g grandparents) James STRANGE and Elizabeth Bailey STRANGE, married 1816 St James Westminster – James was deceased at the baptism of his last child Frederick Metzner in Jan 1825 - I finally found an administration for him, dated 9 Dec 1824 from the London Consistory Court, to his wife Elizabeth Bailey, no date of death unfortunately, but a sum of under £1000 sworn.

The estate Duty Register however was odd - no estate duty was entered as paid and no other details given apart from a signed note - “£29 ?et’d (could have been ‘returned’ or ‘retained’ or something else ) on the grounds of Debts”.

There is a family anecdote that some relative in Regency times got in trouble over gambling debts, intended to run away to the Continent but shot himself at Dover. Maybe this is him – it had seemed unlikely as James was a plumber and glazier - not exactly a ‘Regency Rake’. No inquest records or local newspapers survive for Dover. Any suggestions on how I could pursue this would be appreciated!

The will index from which James death was identified was compiled by a Dr David Wright of Whitstable (, from nine smaller London Courts excluding the PCC. He has also produced an East Kent burial list. He searched ‘STRANGE’ for me in both indexes with following results:

London Probate Index (excluding PCC wills) STRANGE 1750-1858

George May 1826 Will Commissary
George Sept 1840 Will Consistory
Issac May 1811 Admin Consistory
James Sept 1819 Admin Consistory GIMS ‘Durnira’
James Dec 1824 Admin Consistory
Jane Costebadie May 1724 Will Commissary
Martha o/w Lestrange Mar 1795 Will Consistory
Mary Jan 1816 Admin Consistory (Surrey)

East Kent Burial Index 1813-1841 STRANGE
Ann 10 Sep St Lawrence, Thanet Ramsgate 5 weeks
Henry 17 Jan 1822 Maidstone County Prison 24
Henry 31 Aug 1826 St Alphege, Canterbury King Street 33
James 17 May 1830 Margate Zionists London 11
John 2 Nov 1834 Dover St Mary Over the Wall 40
Mary 17 May 1825 St Lawrence, Thanet otp infant


From John Francis Sims, May 2005
Orlando Bailey Strange
I Believe married twice firstly to Margaret Fry at St Rides Church ,London 1882 September 20th with witnesses Edward & Rosinn Metcalf his father is mentioned as James Thompson Strange Professor of Mathematics  Henry Fry father of Margaret Fry was a Builder.The application no of the certificate is U13984 25TH November 1987 The second Marriage was to Anne Elizabeth Bird in the Parish of Upton Warren County Of Worcester on the June 6th 1892 residing at Sparkbrook,Upton Warren.application no R32928 25TH April 1985 his Profession is a Surgeon I believe he was Practicing in Birmingham. My Grandmother was Born of this union in 1893 on the 28th October Gladys Gertrute Strange she died 27th December 1964 in her maiden name.

From Ed Hanson
Orlando's next younger brother was a well-known sportsman in Japan, Frederick William Strange (1854-1889).  There is a short booklet on this family, The Stranges of Tunbridge Wells by Charles Hilbert Strange [ca 1948].  Copy at Society of Genealogists, Family History Tracts, vol. 38.  There seems to be no particular indication that the name had been changed from L'Estrange.

James Thompson Strange, bp St James, Westminster, 14 Sept 1817; d 19 Alfred St, Tottenham Court Road, London, 28 April 1869; m [Sept quarter 1846 Kensington] Martha Kemp, b Islington, c1819, d. 42 Appach Road, Brixton Rise, Surrey, 6 Dec 1884. He left a considerable will of £8,000 to his wife Martha and children James Walter, Orlando Baily, Frederick William and Elizabeth Patty. Also mentioned is his brother Francis Thompson Strange. His death reported in The Times of London on the 4 May 1869 says he was a wine merchant and formerly a Professor of Mathematics at the late College of Civil Engineers Putney.  The 1861 census shows part of the family living at 19 Alfred St, but the 3 first born sons were not living there. In the 1862 Kelly and Co directory of London it shows James at 'Marlborough Arms' 19 Alfred St, wine merchant and counting house. Three years later he is still at the same address but has added importer of foreign wines and spirits to the list. James Thompson Strange.  Effects under £6,000.  27 September.  The Will with two Codicils of James Thompson Strange late of 19 Alfred-street and of 5 Francis street Tottenham-Court-road in the County of Middlesex Wine and Spirit Merchant deceased who died 28 April 1869 at 19 Alfred-street aforesaid was proved at the Principal Registry by the oaths of Martha Strange of 19 Alfred-street and of 5 Francis-street aforesaid Widow the Relict, James Walter Strange of the "London" Coffee House Ludgate Hill in the City of London Wine Merchant the Son and Francis Thompson Strange of 7 Stratford-place Hastings in the County of Sussex Hosier the Brother the Executors. Martha Strange.  Personal Estate £330.8s.1d.  17 February [1885].  Administration (with the Will) of the Personal Estate of Martha Strange late of 42 Appach-road Brixton Rise in the County of Surrey Widow who died 6 December 1884 at 42 Appach-road was granted at the Principal Registry to Elizabeth Patty Deer (Wife of Edward Joseph Deer) of 42 Appach-road the Daughter one of the Residuary Legatees.

James Strange, bp Tunbridge Wells, 25 Sept 1792; d 1824; m St James, Westminster, 26 Oct 1816 Elizabeth Bailey Thompson, d. at Brompton, Middx., 1 Dec 1847. Elizabeth Bailey Strange.  Personal Estate under £450.  19 March [1878].  Administration of the Personal Estate of Elizabeth Bailey Strange late of 11 Pelham-place Brompton in the County of Middlesex Widow who died 1 December 1847 at 11 Pelham-place was granted at the Principal Registry to James Walter Strange of Upper Tulse Hill in the County of Surrey Gentleman one of the Executors of the will of James Thompson Strange the son and one of the Next of Kin.

Edward Strange, bp Tunbridge Wells, 10 Dec 1737; m Ann Taylor of Ightham.  He was the proprietor of the lodging house, "The Green Pales," Tunbridge Wells

William Strange, m Mary


Rae Fether later said in May 2005:
The information from Ed that there is a booklet on the family of Frederick William Strange, the sportsman, is very exciting as my great grandfather James Walter was his elder brother and son of James Thompson Strange. My research has covered the same ground up until his grandfather James Strange, married in 1816 to Elizabeth Bailey Thompson, a plumber and glazier with premises in Oxford Street.

There I was stuck until I made a circumstantial but now I know, incorrect connection to a John Strange, " son of ..... Westminster, Middlesex, (deceased)" apprenticed to a citizen and glazier, of the Glaziers company, who gained his freedom in August 1781. He apparently married Ann, having sons James b. May 1785, in Stepney, St Marys Whitechapel and John Briscoe b. May 1787 at no 33 High Street, Aldsgate. John Strange died in July 1790.  Ann Strange, who must have been a resourceful lady, took an apprentice, a Joseph Ambrose, son of a weaver, "to Ann widow of John Strange. 6 Sep 1790, Glaziers Company".  She carried on the business and there are yearly directory entries in Kents from 1792 for 33 Aldsgate:  "Strange Ann, Crown Glass Warehouse".  In 1795 it changes to "Strange and Westell, glass cutters with the last entry in 1798. In 1794 Ann Strange married at St Botolph Aldsgate, Lewis Charles Miles, a silk merchant . He, a member of the Gold and Silver Wyre Drawyer's company in turn took her son John Briscoe Strange as an apprentice in 1802.  Fire insurance records from 1818 - 1820 show John Briscoe Strange and Lewis Charles Miles Junior together as merchants of 3 Tokenhouse Yard.

I had imagined this James Strange, might have joined his mother in the glass business and could have been my 3 x great grandfather James Strange, later the plumber and glazier of Oxford Street. But the research was fun even if fruitless.