Walter Clopton Wingfield

Walter Clopton Wingfield, MVO, JP, was born in the Vicarage, Ruabon, in 1833 and attended Ruabon Grammar School in the 1840s. He was commissioned into the 1st King’s Dragoon Guards (KDGs) in 1851 and served as Cornet and Lieutenant in Ireland and England until 1858, when the Regiment was sent to India.
Promoted to Captain, he served throughout the China Campaign of 1860 and was present at the surrender of Peking. He resigned his commission in 1861 and returned to his estates in North Wales and Shropshire.
Wingfield – who served as a Justice of the Peace for Montgomeryshire and was also a Major in the Montgomery Yeomanry – is best known as the “inventor” of the game of Lawn Tennis.
Although he did not invent the racquet and ball, he nonetheless patented the game and drew up the first rules in 1874 and successfully marketed it throughout the world. He is thus acknowledged by the Lawn Tennis Association as “The Father of Lawn Tennis” with a club in the US dedicated to his memory.
Wingfield was a man of great energy and inventiveness. He was an early exponent of the new sport of bicycling and wrote a book “A Sportsman’s Guide, Bicycle Gymkhana and Musical Rides”.
He also founded a gourmet society – Le Cordon Rouge – and was for many years a vice president of The Universal Cookery and Food Association. A pipe tobacco, The Wingfield Mixture, was named in his honour in 1887 and is still sold today.
Wingfield died in his London home in April 1912 and he and his wife, who survived him until 1934, are buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.