Welcome to the Worldwide Greathead family my One-Name Study - Beresford Greathead
William James Percy Beresford Greatheed # 13213 - The story of his six year walk for a wager of $50,000. Often known as Beresford Greathead
William James Percy Beresford Greatheed


William James Percy Beresford Greatheed was born on 27 June 1862 in Efford Cottage, Milford, Hampshire, England.  He was the son of William Samuel Greatheed and Amelia Frances Baillie.  He was educated in Belgium

He left a will on 8 August 1885 while living in Mango Lodge, New Edinboro, St Vincent in the West Indies. He leaves everything to Miss Flora Battersby, who was known at the age of 14 at Honfleur, Calvados, Normandy, France "Maison Belle vue Mt Job" He asked that all his personal property as well as his share in the capital which was to be his on his mothers death, also whatever money he may have in the bank to go to her. He appointed a Bird Esq of 6 Bedford Row as executor of the will. William was listed as the head of the hosehold of on the census of 5 April 1891 in 13 Spencer Row, St Mary, Docking, Norfolk, England, He was a widower and listed as a West Indian Planter, living next door to his mother.  Did he ever marry Flora I wonder? 

In the Times (London) on 24 August 1891 the following appeared. I believe the report may refer to this gentleman, I continue to search for confirmation:
At Worship Street, Percy Greathead, 29, who was described on the police-sheet as a gentleman, living at Wood's Hotel, Furnival's-inn, Holborn, was charged before Mr. Montagu Williams, Q.C., with presenting a loaded revolver at Margaret Sweeney, at Queen Anne-street, Whitechapel. The prisoner (a powerfully-built man) was represented by Mr. Morris. The prosecutrix, a young Irish woman, living in Queen Anne-street, said that at half-past 2 that morning she was standing at her door, and the prisoner passed. A minute later he came back and put a revolver in her face. He did not say a word before he did it, but then said he would put a bullet in her. He walked away, and she and a man named Hayes followed and gave the prisoner in charge. Dennis Donovan, of Worsley's-buildings, Dockhead, said that he was standing with Sweeney outside her door, and as the prisoner passed she remarked that he was a detective. About the same time a man whom she knew spoke to her, and she called out to him, "Now, then, bighead, it is time you were in bed." Then the prisoner walked back and presented a revolver at her, saying if she meant him he would shoot her. She said she had not said anything to him, and he walked away. They followed him, and meeting a constable, told him, and gave the prisoner in charge. Police-constable Handley, 369 J, deposed that he asked the prisoner if he had a revolver, and the prisoner denied it. When taken to the station, however, he admitted that he had a revolver, and produced it. He admitted that he had put it to the woman's face, but denied that he meant to shoot her. Inspector Webb, J Division, said that the prosecutrix, when she charged the prisoner at the station, admitted having said as he passed, "Is that Jack the Ripper?" The revolver was fully loaded. Upon the prisoner was also found six cartridges and a huge bowie knife, in case. The latter weapon, which was produced, was evidently new, and Mr. Montagu Williams directed that inquiries should be made where it was purchased. The prisoner said he had bought it in the Strand a day or two ago. The revolver was evidently not a new weapon, and the prisoner's account of his night's proceedings was that, having a desire to see the scene of the Whitechapel murders, he had taken a cab to Buck's-row, and, leaving the vehicle there, had walked down it. He declared that he was sober, but admitted that he had been drinking heavily for some days. His nerves were affected, and a man walked towards him and said something which he took as referring to himself. The woman Sweeney was close by, and called out, "bighead." He thought "bighead" meant "Greathead"-his own name-and that there was an attack intended on him. He also heard the remark, "Here's Jack the Ripper," and, under the influence of the moment, produced his revolver. Mr. W.W. Lees, manager of Wood's Hotel, said the prisoner had been drinking heavily for a fortnight, and had been attended by a doctor. He had travelled a great deal, and was of no occupation. Mr. Montagu Williams remanded the prisoner for a week, refusing bail.

In 1895 two clubs in Vancouver, The Union and Vancouver wagered $50,000 on whether a man could walk around the world in five years leaving without money or luggage and depending entirely upon his own exertions. Four men were willing to enter, Beresford was chosen and started in August 1895. With only the clothes he stood up in, a rifle across his back and some ammunition, a leather satchel containing his notebook.

He walked across the American Continent, from Vancouver to Halifax Nova Scotia, a distance of 4,000 miles. He completed the journey in 12 months, averaging 22 miles per day. When out of touch with civilisation he survived on wild game and slept on the bare ground. The Allan line gave him a passage on the ship Numidian to England from New York. He walked from Liverpool to London, thence to John O’Groats and then to Lands End. Then back to London and over to Ostend, passing through Bruges where he was formerly at school and he met some of his old school chums.

He then went on to Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Roumania, passing through Odessa and eventually arriving in Manchuria. When he got there the war was on and he was taken prisoner and detained for two months before he escaped. Beresford had intended to g to Vladivostock and then Japan and back to Vancouver, but owing to the Chinese trouble he had to retrace his steps.

He arrived back in Southampton from Le Havre just before 29 November 1901. He explained that he was arrested as a spy many times and had to go to hospital once. He had been imprisoned in Manchuria. If he was given credit for these problems, he claims he had won the wager. Beresford lectured in many towns as he travelled and so obtained money for food and clothes, but he also relied on the god nature of those amongst whom he travelled. He declared that he had left evidence of his travels around the world and needed to collect them. It is thought he travelled 16,000 miles and by half way round it was reported that he had worn out nineteen pairs of boots.

He was a powerfully built man, said to be 15 stones in weight.  I suspect he returned to Canada, but as yet I can find no trace of his death, nor of his brother Hugh Bertie Greatheed who went to South Africa in 1896.

Anyone any ideas or pictures?