In the spring of 1888, the first Lions tour made its way to Australia, fronted by Robert Lionel Seddon. Born in Salford, Manchester in 1860 to Robert and Ann Seddon (nee Lever), he grew up with four brothers – James, Edwin, Herbert and Arthur, and two sisters – Sarah and Annie. They are shown here on the 1881 England Census.
Like many in the Manchester area, Robert and his family worked in the cotton industry, and by the age of 20 Robert had become a Salesman in a warehouse.
An experienced rugby player prior to his voyage to Australia – hence the decision to appoint him as captain – Seddon arrived in Sydney with his teammates on-board the Zealandia at the end of May. Below is a copy of the NSW Passenger List that has the team travelling from New Zealand to Australia.
Standing at over 181 cm tall and weighing in at over 80kg, Robert was somewhat svelte by today’s standards but, on the basis of average heights and weights of the day, he would have been an imposing figure on the field. It’s somewhat difficult to imagine then how a manly man from the north of England could drown boating with friends on the Hunter River at Maitland NSW.
Apparently, Seddon was out on the river with teammates Anderton and Stoddart. Anderton and Stoddart had drifted down the river in an old punt and Seddon had taken off upstream in a row boat. After a short while his teammates went looking for Seddon and found him dead. The image below is from the NSW, Registers of Coroners’ Inquests, 1796-1942 which shows the Seddon entry. He was just 28 years old.
Seddon was buried at Campbell’s Hill Cemetery in West Maitland, some 10,500 miles from home.