Walter Shadbolt was born 1886 in Tewin, Nr Welwyn, Herts, the son of Arthur and Elizabeth Shadbolt. In 1891 the family were living in Tewin and his father was working as a gardener and domestic servant. By 1901 the family were living at Lower Green, Tewin and Walter was working as a gardener. In 1911 they were living at Haines Cottages, Tewin and Walter was a watercress worker. He married Rosetta Wilsher (formerly Croft), of Bridgefoot Villa, Datchworth, Nr Stevenage, Herts in 1912 and they had two sons, James Walter (1914) and Leslie Herbert (1916).