St Mary's Church in Thornbury

Early Vicars (to 1899)

St Marys Church – early vicars (to 1899) 2017-11-22T07:47:54+00:00

St Mary’s Church from the glebe

The earliest details of Vicars of Thornbury that we have traced so far were appointed by the Abbey of Tewkesbury. From 1546 they were appointed by the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church Oxford.

Incumbents list

A decorative list displayed in St Mary’s Church in Thornbury shows that “the Abbot and Convent of Tewkesbury received an Indult dated 5 Kalens 1221 from Pope Honarius II to enter and retain to their own uses when void the churches of Thornbury, Marshfield and others already granted to the Abbey by Pope Lucius (Larius III) on condition of their putting fit persons therein as vicar”.  We have a photograph of this list on the right.  We can only apologise that we have found it hard to photograph in a way that makes it fully legible.

British History Online explains that in 1314 a licence was obtained from Edward II for the appropriation of Thornbury by Tewkesbury.  This was allowed with immediate effect on the grounds that “although the monastery was amply endowed by Gilbert de Clare it was so much oppressed by misfortune and the attacks of enemies that speedy Succour was needed.”

The archives of Christ Church College Oxford hold copies of a document in Latin and other documents concerning a legal case of 1750 that refer to a letter from Walter, Bishop of Worcester dated 12th August 1315.  This letter says that the Parish Church of Thornbury had “recently” been appropriated to the Abbot and Convent of Tewkesbury by the Bishop of Worcester but that he (the Bishop of Worcester) reserved the power of ordering and taxing the Vicarage of Thornbury.  This seems to have given rise to the later disputes about what tithes were payable to the Vicarage and what to the Rectory.  Read more about tithes

We understand that it was the duty of the Abbott of Tewkesbury to send a chaplain to Thornbury every Sunday to celebrate service in the church.  Apparently there is a record in the manor court of Thornbury of the Abbot being fined £5 for neglecting to send a chaplain and some cattle were distrained to enforce the penalty.

The monastery at Tewkesbury was dissolved in January 1540 and its possessions surrendered, including the rectory of Thornbury.  In 1546 Henry VIII re-founded the College of Christ Church and it was at this time that the benefice of Thornbury amongst many others was transferred to Christ Church.  Probably at the beginning Christ Church took a large proportion of the tithes raised but it seems that eventually it almost gave up this right.  This was certainly the case by the 1890s although Christ Church retained its patronage.  A Gazetteer of 1894 described the living of Thornbury as “a vicarage in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol with a net value of £326 with residence.  Patron Christ Church Oxford.”  To this day the website of St Mary the Virgin says that the patronage of the Parish of Thornbury is with Christ Church Oxford.  This is reflected in the fact that the majority of the vicars appointed to this church were graduates of Christ Church.

Read about the vicarage in Thornbury

We have been able to trace a little information about most of the Vicars of Thornbury

William Pikerel.  William was described as Rector of the Church of Thornbury in a Commission dated at London the third of the Nones of November 1279….. A Certificate of his ordination to Priest’s Orders and stating that he had been presented to the Church of Thornbury by the Abbot and Convent of Tewksbury within a year was dated at Wyck the 15 Kalens of March 1283….. Episcopal Register, Worcester.  1297

John de Penbrok.  John’s name appears on the board in St Mary’s Church which also notes that it is more likely that that he was a parson of Thornbury in Hereford than Thornbury in Gloucestershire.

William de Cherington.  The Bishop conferred the vacant Church of Thornbury on William de Cherington priest on the 12 Kalens November 1297 ( Episcopal Register, Worcester. 1297).  A publication of the society of Thornbury Folk in 1948 quotes Epis. Reg. Worc. and tells us that: “the Bishop conferred the vacant church of Thornbury on William de Cherinton priest 12 Kal November 1297 but on Sunday the Vigil of St Katherine the Virgon in the same year (24th Nov) there were proceedings touching the said vacancy to which Peter de Leye (Leycestre) had been presented” (see below for more of the Peter de Leycestre story).

William appears to have been quickly compensated for the confusion over his appointment to Thornbury.  In the same year (1297) according to “a Little History of Cherington and Stourton, Warwickshire” by Margaret Dickins William de Cherinton was appointed steward over the lands of the Bishopric of Worcester.  By 1317 the Pope had confirmed that William was Abbot of Evesham.

Peter de Leycestre.  Peter was presented to Thornbury by the Abbot of Tewkesbury but the Bishop refused to institute him in 1297.  Peter then sued the Bishop and was inducted in 1298.

We know a little more about the interesting career of Peter de Leycestre from the cartullary of the Collegiate Church of St Mary in Warwick.  A cartullary is a medieval manuscript or roll containing transcripts of original documents.  Apparently Peter de Leycestre was appointed to the rectory of Hendon in Middlesex in 1271.  He was also vicar of Tardebrigge in Worcester and Wolfamcote in Warwickshire also prebendary of Bishopshill near Lichfield and of Westbury and Warwick.  In August 1303 he obtained a dispensation from Pope Boniface III for having obtained these posts without papal dispensation.

During Peter’s career in the diocese of Warwick (to which Thornbury was attached at that time) the Bishop was a very controversial character called Godfrey Giffard.  Bishop Giffard absolved a priest who had been excommunicated by the Canon of St Mary’s Robert de Plecy.  The animosity between the two clerics had a great influence on Peter de Leycestre who was a member of the household of Bishop Giffard. When Peter was appointed to the church at Budbroke Robert de Plecy opposed the appointment.  Peter was concerned about his position so he felt it necessary to apply to Bishop Giffard for an indemnity against any lawsuits brought against him by de Plecy.  Peter must have been placed in an even more difficult situation when he was appointed as the bishop’s proctor in a legal case between Robert de Plecy and another canon.  The Bishop eventually requested de Plecy’s removal and he was excommunicated in 1286.

Peter died in or before August 1304. His will appointed Richard de Vienne rector of Ulveston, William de Dalby and Robert de Wylewes as executors. These men were summoned to appear at the Court of Westminster to answer the auditors about the tithe lately imposed on the clergy in aid of the Roman Church.

William de Apperley.  The letters of Institution and Induction of William de Apperley subdeacon to the Church of Thornbury were issued from Kemsey on 13 Kalens of August 1304 (Episcopal Register, Worcester. 1305).

According to the Cartullary of St Mary’s Warwick William was ordained as a subdeacon on 13th March 1294 and as a priest on 27th February 1295.  He was warden of the Hospital of Kincardine in Neel, Aberdeenshire in 1298.

A newsletter published in 1948 by the Society for Thornbury Folk refers to the short-lived tenure of William de Apperley.  It quotes “Epis Reg” and tells us that in

“1304 Letters of institution and induction of William de Apperley subdeacon to the church of Thornbury vacant by the death of Peter de Leycestre the last rector were issued from Kempsey 13 Kal August 1304.  He died before 25th January 1304/5.  It was found by an inquisition held in the church of Wotton in full chapter on the morrow of St Oswald 1305 that the church of Thornbury had been vacant since the death of Peter de Leycestre the last rector who had formerly been Dean of St Mary’s Warwick.  The Abbot and Convent of Tewkesbury were the true patrons and made the last presentation and the church paid a pension of 63/- to the convent but the person was beneficed elsewhere namely in the church of Estletch with the dignity of Llandaff.  There was also trouble over a levy which should have been made on the goods of the said William de Apperley.

Roger le Mareshall.  According to a Writ received by the Bishop at Brendon on 2 Kalens of March 1305, Roger le Mareshall the new rector of the Church of Thornbury was acquitted of 63/4d demanded of him as a tenth of the said church (Episcopal Register, Worcester. 1305 & 1312).

The Society of Thornbury Folk published a newsletter in 1948 which offers a slightly different version of the above statement. It quoted Epis Reg Worcs as its source and said;

“According to a writ received by the Bishop at Bredon 2 Kal March 1305 to distrain the executors of Peter de Leycestre now rector of the church of Thornbury was to be acquitted of 63/4 demanded from him as a tenth of the said church.  He had a further acquittance in 1308 but he owed the same in 1309 when the Bishop reported that he had sequestered the goods of the parson of Thornbury to the value of 20/- but had not found a buyer.  A further return in the same year records : – But from the parson of Thornbury I could raise nothing because at the king’s command I released the sequestration imposed till after St John the Baptist and meanwhile the rector withdrew and removed everything so that afterwards I found nothing there whence I could raise any money .”

On 17th Kal July 1309 J…….. Bishop of Llandaff Suffragan for the Bishop of Worcester consecrated the great altar of the church of Thornbury.  In August 1312 Master Roger called the Mareschal rector of Thornbury and Thomas de Haselschawe rector of Pokelschurch were appointed commissioners to demand Richard de Paris clerk who had been committed to the King’s prison for the death of John Dyrwynne.”

Roger le Mareshall would appear to be the same Roger le Mareschal (sic) who built Tackley’s Inn in Oxford about 1320.  At that time Roger was the parson of Tackley.  This inn survives in Oxford at 106 and 107 High Street.  It is extremely significant because it is one of the rare surviving examples of the academic halls once scattered around Oxford that were built to accommodate the students.  This was the way most students lived until the sixteenth century when they were housed in colleges.

On 17 Kalens July 1309 J….. Bishop of Llandaff.  Suffragan of the Bishop of Worcester consecrated the Great Altar of the Church of Thornbury …. Episcopal Register, Worcester.

Robert Silvestre.  Robert was the Chaplain presented to the Chantry of St Mary in the Church of Thornbury in the King’s gift by reason of his custody of the lands and heirs of Hugh, Earl of Stafford, tenant-in-chief (Patent Roll. 1387).  See also The Chantry

Please note that although he was chaplain of the Chantry of St Mary, despite the fact that he appears on the list of vicars in the church, we do not have any information as to whether he was also the vicar of the church.

We know from Rudder’s account of the history of Thornbury that Hugh Earl of Stafford was 28 when he succeeded to the title.  When Robert died at Rhodes on his return from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the ninth year of the reign of Richard II, the King was “seized of Thornbury with its members Oldbury, Kington, Morton, Falfield and Mares and of the manors of Rendcombe and Estington.”  Robert was later succeeded in turn by three of his sons Thomas, William and Edmond.

John de Brampton.  Although Robert Silvestre (see above) was a chaplain of the Chantry of St Mary, it seems he was not the vicar.  An inquisition taken at Pucklechurch in 1379 says that

it would be no damage to the King or any other to allow William Wyryot and Margaret his wife to enfeoff John de Brampton vicar of the church of Thornbury and Roger de Dene parson of Siston with the manors of Alueston (Alveston) and Herdecote (Earthcott?) and Hundred of Langleye which are held of the King in chief for the purpose of re-enfeoffment to the said William and Margaret in tail with contingent remainder to the right heirs of Margaret.”

It seems that prior to this John de Brampton may have been a parson in St Peter’s in Bristol.  The University of Houston hosts an on-line project called WAALT(a website called Wiki for the Anglo-American Legal Tradition) which has the record of an inquisition or legal case between the Abbot of Tewkesbury and John de Brampton parson of St Peter in Bristol and John Wachet a tapermaker.  De Brampton was accused of taking 60 piglets and 80 geese at Mangotsfield in 1355.  He pleaded in regard to six piglets and six geese that the chapel of Mangotsfield is annexed to St Peter’s in Bristol and that the twelve animals were sent as tithes and so he took them.  It would be interesting to hear his explanation for the remaining animals.

Volume 32 of The Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society also mentions that John de Brampton had financial difficulties, at least whilst he was at St Peter’s. On 24th November 1353 soon after he had been made Rector there he acknowledged that he owed William de Hawkesworth, clerk, and Ralph de Houton parson of Morston Church 20/-.

Nicholas Foulere. Nicholas was the Chaplain presented to the Chantry of St Mary in the Church of Thornbury in 1389.  Again although he appears on the list of vicars in the church, we have no confirmation that being a chaplain also implied that he was also Vicar of Thornbury.

John Williams.  Ratification of his estate as Vicar of Thornbury was made on 3rd March 1395 (Patent roll).  John had a legacy of 12d by the Will of Agnus Dyers of Thornbury 1404.  He was described in the will as perpetual vicar of Thornbury.

Thomas …… Thomas was also described as a Perpetual Vicar of Thornbury.  He had a legacy of 3/4d by the Will of William Clevedon 1423.

John Greyve.  John was Chaplain of St Mary’s Chantry.  He was bequeathed 6/4d in the Will of Adams 25th September 1423.  Although his name appears on the board of vicars in the church we do not know whether being a chaplain implies that he was also the vicar of the church.  See also The Chantry

Thomas Hulpe. (or Hilpe)  Thomas was Chaplain of St Mary’s Chantry.  He was left 3/4d in the Will of John Adams 29th September 1473.  Although his name appears on the board of vicars in the church we do not know whether being a chaplain implies that he was also the vicar of the church.   See also The Chantry

Thomas With (also spelled Withe, Whith or Wyth).  The cartullary for Christ Church College Oxford refers to an indenture dated 16th June 1482 by which Richard Abbot of Tewkesbury

leases to master Thomas With, vicar of the church of Thornbury, John Pichare of the same, and Thomas and William his sons, and John Payne lately of Morton in the parish of Thornbury, the site of the rectory and all tithes etc for 40 years, if they live as long.

This is a reference to land that included what is now Glebe Cottage.  Read about Glebe Cottage and its tenants

We are grateful to Tina Kelly, another member of Thornbury Museum’s Research Group, for her research into the history of the church in Thornbury and its vicars.  Tina has been able to provide the following account of a turbulent period in the administration of the Church of England and how this was reflected in Thornbury.

John Sonager and John Collyns were, it appears from the records, interchanging vicars in Thornbury in the years 1540-1561.  The Alumni Oxfoniensis has an entry for John Sonager (Sonaker or Sonageyr) attaining a BA on 27 June 1522.  According to Bigland, he was appointed vicar in 1540 by Tewkesbury Abbey, and in the Church of England Clergy database (CCEd), a ‘Senagar’ was a vicar in ‘Barkeley under Thornebury’ up to 1548.  There are many instances of this family name in Berkeley, both before and after this period, and mentions of him as a witness to wills in 1542, 1544 and 1545 – all as “vicar of Thornbury”.

According to Bigland, John Sonager was deprived and removed from his benefice of Thornbury in 1554.  The CCEd has a series of confusing entries for him, and his successor, John Collyns in 1554 and 1555.  This was the period during the reign of Mary I (1553-1558) when Injunctions were issued which deprived married clergy of their benefices, as part of her attempts to restore Roman Catholicism to England.

John Collyns was appointed and instituted Perpetual Vicar on 27 September 1554 by the “Patron by advowson granted to Thomas and Edmund Tyndall by abbot and convent of Tewkesbury Abbey before its dissolution.  To be inducted by archdeacon of Gloucester.”  The reason for the vacancy given was that the previous incumbent had been deprived and removed because he was married.

Bigland also mentions John Collyns in 1554, as presented by “Thos Tyndall, Grantee of T.

[Tewkesbury] Abbey”.  Thomas Tyndall/Tyndale was elected MP of Marlborough in 1554; he was the son of Edward (Receiver-General of the Crown Revenues for Berkeley’s lands; Auditor and Seneschal of the Abbot of Tewkesbury in 1519, d 1546), and was granted Eastwood Park in Thornbury by the Crown in 1565.  There is no record of an “Edmund Tyndall”, but Thomas (d 1571) did have a brother called Edward (d 1582); it is possible that these two presented John Collyns to Thornbury in 1554.

On 27 September 1555, John Sonager’s name appears again in the CCEd, along with John Collyns (Collynge), stating that there was a vacancy/deprivation (of Sonager) followed by an appointment/institution (of Collyns).  It is not clear why John Sonager would be deprived again, and John Collyns instituted again.  The answer may lie in the reference for this entry (Returns to First Fruits Office) whereby some clergy were re-instated.  If Sonager was re-instated, then deprived again, Collyns was still available to be re-instituted.  However, the CCEd says Collyns was vicar in 1561, and may have continued in this post until 1571 when William Singleton (Shingleton) was instituted.

William Singleton or Shingleton Vicar of Thornbury from 1571 -1577.  The Alumni Oxonienses says that William was a scholar or fellow of New College from 1564-1571.  He graduated at B.A. in January 1566-7 and was awarded M.A in 1570.  After leaving Thornbury he was rector of Bishops Waltham 1577-1620, of Baghurst 1578-9, of Chilcomb 1598-1601 and Millbrook 1601-1620.  The Clergy of the Church of England Database refers to him as “Williehelmus Shingleton” and also has a note that he was a perpetual vicar.

John Moreton Vicar of Thornbury from 1577 -1602.  It is likely that John Morton was chaplain of New College in and before 1564.  In 1596 he was involved in a legal case concerning tithes payable by John Chewe.  The Clergy of the Church of England Database refers to his surname as “Mourton” as well as “Moreton”.  He appears to have been included in a “list of clerks admitted to benefices that have subscribed to the articles.”  The Church of England website tells us that these articles were introduced in 1562 and that these amongst other things allowed the clergy to marry or not according to their own consciences.  John Moreton died in 1602 and the living once again became vacant.  During the time that John Moreton was vicar in Thornbury we know that one of the curates in 1594 was called Thomas Pricharde.

John Sprint (or Sprynt) Vicar of Thornbury from 1602-1624.  John was the son of another John Sprint who was amongst other things Vicar of Berkeley and in his later years treasurer of Sarum (otherwise Salisbury) Cathedral.  The Dictionary of National Biography says that the younger John was probably born near Bristol.  However a court case of 29th March 1609/10 between Thomas Hill and Elizabeth and John Pearce says that by 1609/10 the deponent John Sprint, vicar of Thornbury had lived there seven years, having been born in Winchester Hants.  In 1610 he was 35 years old.

This would mean that Rev Sprint of Thornbury would have been born in Winchester some time about 1574/75.  We note that there was the baptism of a child called “John Sprinte” at Saint Swithun Over Kingsgate in Winchester on 4th December 1573.

John Sprint was a student of Christ Church and graduated with a B.A. in 1595-6.  He was awarded his M.A. in 1599.

The archives of Christ Church College Oxford that holds the living of Thornbury include a letter dated 18th May 1613 from a Thomas Tyndale to Dr Thornton.  The letter was written in very strong terms and began with “yr colege hath been wronged.”  It explains that Tyndale had compelled William Gwatkin, the then tenant of the Rectory to give up some “writings.”  The subject of the writings is never made clear but although Gwatkins can apparently be excused from having such papers he cannot be excused from holding on to them.  Tyndale seems to feel that this could be in contempt of the Chancellor.  The letter refers to Gwatkins’s “malice and shifting” and to his “trifling shiftings” that “will bring more damage and danger than he hath yet forseen.”  The matter is obviously very serious indeed and we can only infer the subject of these writings from his reminder that Christ Church College has put the care “of Thornburies soules upon the shoulders of Mr Sprinte” and they should “carefully provide that nothing bee taught in doctrine or acted in discipline contrarie to the Lawes of thice realm.”

This letter is interesting because The Dictionary of National Biography says that John Sprinte had attached himself to the puritan party and was a critic of the ceremonies of the Anglican Church.  It seems that he was called to account for this by John Howson the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and he was imprisoned.  The same source says that John Sprinte continued to hold these views but was persuaded to conform by Samuel Burton Archdeacon of Gloucester.

This may be the reason why he published “Cassander Anglicanus: shewing the necessity of conformitie to the prescribed Ceremonies of our Church in Case of Deprivation” in 1618.  The title does not seem to suggest that Sprint had become entirely reconciled to the Anglican rites.  It was later published together with two other articles on the subject, we understand that these argue that the rites were non-essential but no minister of the church is justified in abandoning his ministry simply because he is obliged to perform them.

Presumably John was married about the time he came to Thornbury, although we have found no record of his marriage at present.  He was certainly married by about 1603 as the records of St Mary’s Church in Thornbury show that on 7th April 1604 a child called John Sprint who was the son of John Sprint Vicar of Thornbury was buried.  Another son of that name was baptised on 22nd January 1605.  We have the record relating to Elizabeth Sprint who died in 1607.  This may have been the daughter of John Sprint but we have no confirmation of that.  There is also the baptism of Constance Sprint on 27th March 1608.  Constance and another daughter Sara were mentioned in the will of John Sprint.  Other children mentioned in his will were Zachary, Samuel and someone who may have been called Mark.

In 1609 and 1618 the Rev John Sprint was involved in a legal case concerning tithes payable in Thornbury by William Bower and John Leister respectively.  We know that he was one of the trustees of the Sir John Stafford alms houses in St Mary Street, Thornbury in 1620.

He died about 1623/4.  His will that was proved on 16th July 1624 appointed his wife Elizabeth the executor and allowed her the lease of a property in Rockhampton for her life time.  However the disputes about the tithes payable to him seemed to continue after his death.  Gloucester Records Office has three records of Elizabeth Sprint being involving in legal disputes over the payment of tithes in Thornbury and these are dated between 1623 and 1626.

One of John and Elizabeth’s sons, also called John, was a student of Pembroke College and also became a clergyman.  He had a more difficult time later in his career in the church.  He was a Dissenter and having been ejected in 1662 from Hampstead in Middlesex where he had served 29 years and from Tewkesbury, he was pastor to a dissenting congregation in Andover until his death. 

Another son Samuel had a stormy career as an Anglican Vicar and was ejected from the living of South Tidworth in Hampshire.

William Maxey (or Maxie) was Vicar of Thornbury 1624 – 1657.  We also note that the Clergy of the Church of England Database calls him “Gulielmus Mavey.”

We understand that he was born in Surrey about 1580.  He matriculated to Christ Church Oxford in February 1599-1600 aged 19.  He graduated at BA in December 1603.  He was awarded MA in 1606 and BD in 1617.  He became Rector of Frome St Quintin in Dorset in 1617 and of Blyborough the same year.

By 1630 he was mentioned as Vicar of Thornbury in the will of Richard Attwell and was one of the people to be given a pair of black gloves worth three shillings and fourpence a pair for his (Attwells) funeral.  We note that the Clergy of the Church of England Database says that he was noted as being “absent, reserved to next feast of St Bartholomew” in 1635.

William Maxie (sic) was involved in a legal case concerning the payment of tithes payable by John Oliffe in 1637.  In 1648 the will of William Edwards appointed the Rev Maxey one of his trustees in the charitable trust for Thornbury Grammar School.

We have his will dated 1657 in which he makes bequests to his sisters and their families and leaves 40 shillings to the poor of Thornbury to be distributed on the day of his burial.  The will was proved in London on 2nd October 1657.  We assume that he died in office in Thornbury.

Guy Lawrence was Vicar of Thornbury from 1657 -1701.  The Alumni Oxonienses has little information about Guy Lawrence. It seems he was the son of a gentleman and matriculated to Oxford in November 1651.  He graduated with BA in February 1654-5 and was awarded MA in 1657.  We also know from the Clergy of the Church of England Database that Guy was also a Curate of Oldbury on Severn.  The same database also says that by 1697 Samuel Lawrence was a curate at Oldbury on Severn.  We believe that this was a son of Guy (see below).

The archives of Christ Church College Oxford have a series of letters from Guy Lawrence to the College concerning the Rectory of Thornbury which Christ Church College leased to tenants at that time.  The tone of these letters is very striking today.  Even compared to the other letters of that time in the same file those of Guy Lawrence show unusual respect to the College and the representatives of the College.  The first letter begins

I have often esteemed it my duty out of that grate respect I owe and bear to that college where I received my Education and from which I had my presentation”.

The second letter is in a similar vein and was written “out of respect to that society wherein I received my education and from which I received the vicararidge of Thornbury”.

This theme is repeated again and again.  It is not clear whether Guy Lawrence is especially polite or whether there is another motive.  The letters are mainly about the “ruinous state” of the Rectory of Thornbury during that period.  The first letter on the subject from him seems to be 1685 and so some 28 years after he became vicar.  Mr Lawrence might be being ingratiating because he felt he had been remiss in not mentioning the problems before the College’s Steward John Cox had visited Thornbury to inspect the Rectory in person.  It is also possible that Guy Lawrence felt insecure in his post of vicar because he had been appointed whilst Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector and by the 1680s the political and religious climate had changed.  It could simply be that as it was implied later (see below) that Guy Lawrence wanted to please everyone.

Later correspondence from the tenant of the rectory, John Morse and John Brooks of Christ Church Oxford concerns the Modus that was drawn up of the parish of Thornbury during the time that Guy Lawrence was vicar.  This Modus led to many disputes about the tithes to be paid.  These disputes were settled in a case undertaken by Mr Jenkins acting for the Rev Willis by the legal opinion of the Lord Chief Justice.  A document in the case says that Guy Lawrence was presented to the living during the “usurpation of Oliver Cromwell” and he had the good luck to remain as vicar until his death in 1701.  The document was dated 17th July 1731 and so reflects the orthodox Anglican attitudes of that time.  It claimed that as Guy Lawrence was a Nonconformist he had little regard for the rights of the church and being a “weak easy man” made the terrier of 1696 with about 40 of his parishioners.  In this terrier (or so this document claims) those who were friends of the vicar were favoured and small sums of money were set down for them to be paid.  These low valuations were said to be the custom “time out of mind” in the modus whereas this was not actually the case.  The Rev William Forbes was even more forthright in his complaint of 9th November 1749 about the weakness of Guy Lawrence.  This says that the terrier of 1696 should be waived as it as it had been made by Guy Lawrence “who obtruded himself into the vicarage during the usurpation of Oliver Cromwell without presentation, was content with what the parishioners gave him, was related to many of them and was an old man at the time it was made.  The Dean and Chapter defended the late Guy Lawrence, who had after all been a student of Christ Church and was presented by the College to the parish of Thornbury.

Letters dated 1687 in the archives of Christ Church College Oxford make references to the fact that Guy is trying to bring his two sons up to the College where he himself was a student.  Something seems to be hindering this journey, perhaps Guy is too busy with parish affairs.  However he must have taken them there the following year.  Alumni Oxonienses says it seems likely that Guy was the father of two students at Oxford who were known to be brothers.  The older of these was Guy who was born in Thornbury and baptised there on 13th September 1670 and matriculated to Christ Church on 14th July 1688, being awarded MA in 1693.  Guy died 12th March 1700/1 and was buried on March 20th.  He is mentioned on the memorial to his father.  The other was Samuel born about 1672 who also matriculated to Christ Church in July 1688, graduated in 1692 and was awarded MA in 1698.  Samuel eventually became Vicar of Stonehouse in 1723.

The memorial to Guy Lawrence in St Mary’s Church in Thornbury says “here lieth the body of the Rev Mr Guy Lawrence A.M. who was some time student of Christ Church Oxon and Vicar of the parish 42 years. Obiit May 20th 1701.”  His wife Mary who also died in Thornbury was buried on 26th July 1706.

Of his children we know that ;

  • Hester was baptised in Thornbury on 16th September 1663,
  • Ellian was baptised in Thornbury on 9th November 1664,
  • Margrett on 13th March 1665,
  • William was baptised in Thornbury on 18th December 1667
  • Mary was baptised 10th November 1672.
  • Guy and Samuel.  Alumni Oxoniensis also indicates that two of Guy’s sons Guy and Samuel probably matriculated to Oxford in July 1688.  Samuel was the curate of Oldbury on Severn.  He was aducted deacon October 16th 1697 and priest on October 15th 1698.
    He became Rector of Lassington in Gloucestershire in 1709 and vicar of Stonehouse in 1723.

Ralph Grove Vicar of Thornbury 1701-1728.  He was born December 1673 in St Clement Dane in Middlesex.  He was the son of William Grove of London.  We are indebted to the Alumni Oxonienses website for further details of his education.  It seems that Ralph may have attended Merchant Taylors’ School in 1686.  He was a student of Christ Church College Oxford from 28th June 1693.  He was awarded his B.A. in 1697 and his M.A. in 1700.  He became Vicar of Thornbury in 1701.  He married Mary Glover at Hill on 2nd March 1704.  Mary was the daughter of Joseph Glover who was an apothecary in Thornbury.  Read about the Glover family

Their first child was William Grove who was baptised on 5th April 1706.  A daughter Mary was baptised on 8th May 1707 but sadly she died less than a year later on 25th April 1708.  She was buried at St Mary’s Church.  A second daughter called Mary (baptised on 19th January 1709) seems to have survived.  Joseph Grove, named presumably after his apothecary grandfather was baptised in July 1710 but was buried the next month on 31st August.  Martha Grove was not born until 11th October 1717, over seven years later.  Two Anns were born; the first baptised 16th January 1720.  We do not know when the second Ann was born but both appear to have died as the memorial to Ralph Grove in St Mary’s Church mentions two daughters called Ann, both of whom died young.

We have evidence in the documents held by Christ Church College that Ralph Grove experienced some difficulties in collecting the tithes that appear to be due from certain parishioners.  A copy of the Bill of Complaint made by him in 1705 shows that as vicar he claimed all tithe hay in the parish or a composition in lieu.  It seems that he had not received tithes to the value of £30 to £40 per annum from Mary Jennings, widow, Nathaniel Adams, Thomas Collins, Charles Morgan als Williams and Edward Bartlett.  These persons claimed that their land was formerly park and so exempt, from tithes, and though now “disparked” and worth £6O0 or £7OO a year it was for ever exempt, having once been so.  Ralph Grove requested evidence of exemption be produced and details of produce.  Sadly at this time we do not know the outcome of this dispute.

Ralph died on September 29th 1728 aged 54 years.  Mary died September 19th 1733 aged 50 years.  Their son William became an apothecary and died January 3rd 1749 aged 41 years and was buried with the rest of the family.  Read about William Grove and his family

Thomas Willis was Vicar of Thornbury 1728-1748.  He was grandson to William Beaw, Lord Bishop of Llandaff.  He married Ann Walker the granddaughter of Thomas Lushington of Sittingbourne in Kent and the daughter of George Walker and his wife Ann (nee Lushington).  Thomas and Ann Willis had three sons.  Sadly they all died young.  We know of the burials of two of them.  Thomas Willis junior was buried 13th May 1730.  A second son called Thomas Willis was buried 25th January 1736.  A memorial stone inside the church was recorded by Bigland and it is still visible today.

The Rev Thomas Willis died 26th June 1748 aged 50 and was buried on 28th June at Thornbury.  His will was proved on 4th August 1748.  It is held at Kew reference PROB 11/764/52. Ann, his widow was buried on 4th March 1755 aged 52 years.

William Forbes was Vicar of Thornbury 1748 – 1761.  We are grateful to “The Scottish Nation – Or The Historical And Genealogical Account of All Scottish Families And Surnames” by James McVeigh for the information that William was the elder son of William Forbes (the heir to the Forbes family of Tolquhoun) and his wife Anne, the daughter and heiress of John Leith of Whitehaugh.  His parents William (who died 1728) and Ann Forbes (who died 1738) are buried in the North Transept of Westminster Abbey.

William appears to have entered Christ Church College Oxford in June 1730 aged 19 and also known as “Williamson”.  He graduated with a B.A. in 1734 and became M.A. in 1737.

William Forbes became vicar of Thornbury on 21st October 1748 and by 15th May 1749 he was already writing complaints to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church about the non payment of tithes.  He named certain landowners who were refusing to pay.  He also said that that the lessee of the parsonage had been getting the tithes of peas and hay from most of the parish except the small amount that Ralph Grove had been able to claim back.

The Bulletin of the Society of Thornbury Folk dated June 1953 says that the Rev Forbes may have had problems with his clerk.  It says that the registers says “1751 Nov 22nd I appointed Thomas Lucas to serve the Office of Clerk to this Parish in room of Richard Champneys removed by William Forbes, vicar. ”  The next entry reads “1754 March 27.  I appointed Andrew Whitfield to serve the Office of Clerk to this Parish in room of Thomas Lucas removed by me for ill behaviour.”

The Rev William Forbes died in September 1761 without issue and was succeeded to the family estate by his younger brother who, as the heir of his mother (the granddaughter of 11th Lord Forbes) took the additional surname of Leith.  Sadly we have no further information or indeed confirmation of this account.  However we do know that there was a legal dispute in the Court of Chancery concerning the tithes to be paid while William Forbes was the vicar of Thornbury.

William Holwell was Vicar of Thornbury 1762-1798.  He was the son of William Holwell of Exeter and his wife Anne the second daughter of Offspring Blackall Bishop of Exeter.  He was baptised on 11th May 1726 at Exeter Cathedral.  The Dictionary of National Biography says that his mother was born Ann Blackall daughter of Offspring Blackall.

William matriculated at Christ Church Oxford in 1741 aged 15.  He graduated in 1745 and M.A. in 1748.  He became a Bachelor of Divinity in 1760.  He was a tutor to Lord Beauchamp (later the second Marquis of Hertford).

He was a prebendary of Exeter and some records indicate that he was at one time a chaplain to King George III.  According to Wikipedia, a prebendary is a post connected to an Anglican or Catholic cathedral or collegiate church and is a type of canon.  Prebendaries have a role in the administration of the cathedral.  A prebend is a type of benefice which was usually drawn from specific sources in the income from the cathedral estates.  When attending cathedral services, prebendaries sit in particular seats, usually at the back of the choir stalls.

William was appointed on 11th January 1762.  According to the Society of Thornbury Folk (June 1953) on 30th April 1763 Holwell wrote “I am just now in one of the pleasantest spots in the Kingdom with ye worst Parsonage House.  My curate lives in it and I board.  If therefore you come this way, you shall meet indeed with a most hearty welcome but I will not promise for the entertainment.”

His wife was Martha Thurston whom he married at St Mary Redcliffe on 3rd June 1771.  Martha was the daughter of Hugh Thurston.  William and Martha’s daughter Charlotte Eleanora Holwell was born at 3.40pm on 30th June 1772 and baptised in Thornbury.  Their second child and first son was born 12th March 1774 and named Edward Offspring Holwell.

William Holwell appears to have been an historian and academic.  He published his translations of extracts from the Iliad as well as a dictionary (” A Mythological Etymological and Historical Dictionary”) that was “extracted from the analysis of ancient mythology.”

We have a somewhat unfavourable account of the Rev Holwell and his vicarage in the Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford.

“I saw a paltry house that I took for the sexton’s, at the corner of the close, and bade my servant ring, and ask who could show me the Castle.  A voice in a passion flew, from a casement, and issued from a divine.  “What! was it his business to show the Castle? — Go look for somebody else!  What did the fellow ring for as if the house was on fire?”  The poor Swiss came back in a fright, and said, the doctor had sworn at him.  Well—­we scrambled over a stone stile, saw a room or two glazed near the gate, and rung at it. A damsel came forth and satisfied our curiosity.  When we had done seeing, I said, “Child, we don’t know our Way, and want to be directed into the London road; I see the Duke’s steward yonder at the window, pray desire him to come to me, that I may consult him.”  She went—­he stood staring at us at the window, and sent his footman.  I do not think courtesy is a resident at Thornbury.  As I returned through the close, the divine came running, out of breath, and without his beaver or band, and calls out, “Sir, I am come to justify myself: your servant says I swore at him: I am no swearer—­Lord bless me!  (dropping his voice) it is Mr. Walpole!”  “Yes, Sir, and I think you was Lord Beauchamp’s tutor at Oxford, but I have forgot your name.”  “Holwell, Sir.”  “Oh! yes.” and then I comforted him, and laid the ill-breeding on my footman’s being a foreigner; but could not help saying, I really had taken his house for the sexton’s. “ Yes, Sir, it is not very good without, won’t you please to walk in!” I did, and found the inside ten times worse, and He was making an Index to Homer, a lean wife, suckling a child.  He is going to publish the chief beauties, and I believe had just been reading some of the delicate civilities that pass between Agamemnon and Achilles, and that what my servant took for oaths, were only Greek compliments.”

On June 26th 1767 Rev Holwell wrote to the Duke of Norfolk with a complaint.

My Lord Duke, I am extremely sorry that I find myself obliged to bother your Grace by letter upon the most disagreeable of subjects that of complaint.  I proposed, had I found your Grace in Town in September, my month of waiting upon the King, to have paid my respects to your Grace, and acquainted you in person with things, as (I apprehend) of importance to your Grace to know.

The delicate matter William Holwell was introducing was the problem of sewage and its disposal

There is directly before the Parochial Church, and close adjoining to my dwelling house, a most insufferable nuisance which has been long a real subject of complaints and which is daily increasing by unusual, and, as I apprehend, illegal encroachment.  Your Grace’s Steward, Mr James Vaughan, who seems by his conduct to set every thing and person at defiance, has made the Church Way, and the King’s Highway, and part of the Green before the Church, the Common Receptacle of all the Filth of the Town.  Ancient water courses (contrary to express laws) have been stopped up, which used either to receive part of the washings, or decently to carry off the remainder into one of your Grace’s grounds, called the Pitties. Thus the King’s Highway is destroyed, and the Church insulted; my house is become offensive and the whole Parish scandalized by an instance not to be paralleled in this Kingdom. The Filth thus collected, and after some months offensive continuance, dug out, and laid in heaps by the Church and before my windows, is disposed of to cover the grounds rented by your Grace’s Steward.

We are unable to say whether the matter was resolved to the relief of all concerned but a proper sewage system was not installed in Thornbury until the mid 1930s.

William Holwell died on 13th February 1798 aged 72 and was buried in Thornbury on 17th February 1798.  The will of Rev William Holwell Bachelor of Divinity, Prebendary of Exeter and Vicar of Thornbury was proved on 26th July 1798.

Charlotte Eleanor the daughter of William and Anne Holwell married a widower Lawrence Short from Ashover in Derbyshire on 30th April 1801.  Their son Edward Offspring Holwell followed his father’s profession and he became Rector of Plymtree.  There are monuments to his wife Isabella and two of their daughters in Exeter Cathedral.

It is possible that there was an “interregnum” at this period.  According to a bulletin of the Society of Thornbury Folk in June 1953, William Llewellyn the curate may have conducted services from 1798 until 1803 when Slade was appointed.  However the Clergy of the Church of England Database shows that Richard Slade was appointed as Rector on 21st July 1798.

Richard Slade was Vicar of Thornbury 1798-1823 (but see above).  He was the son of Richard Slade senior of Westwell, Oxford.  He matriculated to Christ Church on 24th May 1783 aged 16.  He gained his BA in 1787 four years later.  He married Bidlake Hiron in 1798 in Bristol.  Sadly Mrs Slade died “after a lingering and painful illness” on 14th August 1810.  Richard then married Joanna Robinson on 28th September 1812 in Thornbury.  Joanna Robinson was the daughter of Colonel Beverley Robinson and his wife Susannah.  Joanna was born September 22nd 1763.  She came to Thornbury with her mother and sister after her father’s death in 1792.  Read about the Robinson family.

In 1806 Richard Slade wrote to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church suggesting that he as incumbent should hold the tithes due for the rectory as well as those for the vicarage.  This offer seems to have been accepted and by 1823 Richard Slade was letting the tithes together at £733 6s 8d.  We do not know if this was an increase in his overall income but the records held by Christ Church note that Slade spent much money improving the vicarage.

Rev Richard Slade died on May 5th 1823 aged 55.  His death was reported in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of May 17th 1823;

On Monday died after a short illness, at his house in Thornbury, universally beloved and regretted the Rev Richard Slade, A.M. (late student of Christ Church vicar of that parish, with the Chapels of Oldbury on Severn and Falfield annexed, Rural Dean of Dursley Deanery and one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the county of Gloucester.

His widow Joanna Slade went to live in Thornbury Cottage.  Read about Thornbury Cottage

Maurice Fitzgerald Townsend Stephens Vicar of Thornbury 1823 -1872 was a student of Christ Church Oxford.  In many records the spelling of Townsend appears as Townshend.  We have chosen the former spelling for simplicity.  He was born about 1792 in Ireland and he was the third son of Richard Boyle Townsend MP and his wife Henrietta nee Newenham.  Maurice was born with an unlikely link to Thornbury Castle as both his parents could claim descent from the Duke of Buckingham who caused Thornbury Castle to be built.  His home in County Cork also had more than one spelling in the records we have seen – being Castle Townsend, Castletown or Castle Townshend.  The family also owned property in Dingle in County Kerry.

Rev MF Townsend Stephens

Rev Maurice F. Townsend Stephens

We understand that whilst still at Oxford Maurice and his brother Boyle went to Portugal to visit their brother John Townsend who was a Lieutenant in the 14th Light Dragoons serving under the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular campaign.  It seems that he again visited his brother in Paris in July 1814.

After Maurice’s graduation he apparently spent much of his time in London.  According to one account we have found he was a member of the famous Almack’s which was a social club in London for the aristocracy.  He is reputed to have danced there in the first quadrille ever performed in England.

The Clergy of the Church of England Database says that Maurice was appointed on 12th September 1823.  A letter of January 10th 1824 held in the archives of Christ Church Oxford shows that Maurice was settling into his new vicarage and was involved in “all the horrors of painting and furnishing.”  He was beginning to collect the Great Tithes owed from the year before when his predecessor died.  Maurice commented that he was getting to know his parishioners and that many of them were Dissenters of all kinds but not Roman Catholics.

Maurice Townsend married Alice Elizabeth Shute in Thornbury on 16th May 1826.  Alice was described as niece and heiress of the late H Stephens of Chavenage House near Tetbury in Gloucestershire when the marriage was announced in the newspapers.  This was a reference to Henry Stephens who died intestate in 1822.  The estate passed to his sister’s children, first Richmond Shute who died in 1823 and then to Alice, the only daughter of Henry Richmond Shute of Iron Acton.  A provision in the will made by last of the elder line of this family, Henry Stephens (who had died in 1795), stipulated that an heir through the female line was to drop his or her own name and adopt by Royal Licence the arms and name of the Stephens family.  We understand that Maurice Townsend did this officially on 27th January 1827.

The couple’s first child was therefore baptised Henry John Townsend Stephens on 1st November 1827.  A daughter Geraldine Henrietta followed and was baptised on 12th February 1829.  Alice Gertrude Stephens was baptised 18th October 1830.

Maurice’s wife Alice died of a fever on 1st November 1831 at Castle Townsend in County Cork.  She was aged only 29 years.

In 1836 the Tithe Commutation Act replaced the paying of tithes in kind with sums of money.  Many meetings were held between Rev Stephens and the local landowners to sort out a deal.  Letters held by Christ Church Oxford show that it was agreed in February 1838 that £1061 was a reasonable representation of what the tithes amounted to and the tithe apportionment showed how this was to be divided amongst the property owners.  This could not be finally assessed until a new map was drawn up (the Tithe Map of 1840).

Letters held by Christ Church College between Rev Stephens and Dr John Bull give small insights into family life at this time.  We know that in October 1837 for example (which appears to have been a beautiful autumn with trees “groaning with fruit”) the children were all sent to Brighton for a month to get a a change of air and sunbathing!  Maurice’s son Henry had been sent to Brighton in March that year too, which was also the year in which he was sent away to school.  Maurice’s letter however shows how close he had got to Henry after his wife had died.  He calls Henry a “blessing and a comfort” and praises his “gentle nature.”  The same letter also mentions that he as “imported” a French governess for the girls.

Maurice seems to have involved himself in many aspects of parish life.  He was President of the Horticultural Society and according to a letter of November 1838 had planted 300 “tulip roots” in his garden.  The same letter talks of his involvement in music and that he is organiser (or as he puts it “head man, I want to say first fiddle”) of an oratorio to help pay for the new organ.

It is interesting to see that in a letter of 10th May 1839 from Maurice to Dr John Bull of Christ Church there is another insight into his life.  Maurice refers to the fact that he is knitting stockings.  This is not just a new hobby but, seemingly because he is headmaster of the school, he is teaching the girls at the National School to knit.  He writes that his own “three little lambs” have got over the measles.

The 1841 Census shows the family in the vicarage at Thornbury.  He was a widower aged about 45 years who lived with his two daughters; Geraldine aged 12 and Alice aged 10.  At the time of the Census his mother Henrietta was staying with the family.  The family had eight servants.

In 1844 Joseph Leech wrote “Rural Rides of the Bristol Churchgoer” which described a trip to Thornbury at Christmastime to attend the service at St Mary’s.  He gave us a brief description of the Rev Townsend Stephens and his sermon at that time.

“I hardly remember ever hearing a better reader…..he delivered in a distinct and sonorous voice, and with a clearness and correctness of enunciation …..He had other advantages too ..a good head and shoulders and he stood something like six feet, honest measure in his shoes.  His sermon, whether a holiday one or not, was a good one; and on the whole in pulpit and reading-desk, the Rev Townsend Stephens may take a very respectable stand amongst country parsons.”

Joseph Leech was not able to say more than what Mr. Stephens looked and sounded like because as he explained;” I know nothing about the vicar of Thornbury beyond what I saw and heard of him on Christmas Day and what a man told me on the road that personally he was exceedingly popular amongst his parishioners.

On April 22nd Maurice’s brother, Colonel John Townsend died aged 56 at Castle Townsend.

On 3rd October 1845 the Morning Post reported that the late Colonel Townsend of Castle Townsend in Cork had left the whole of his estates in England and Ireland to his brother the Rev Maurice Fitzgerald Stephens Townsend and appointed his sole executor of his will.  Colonel Townsend had left his brother Maurice his estate and asked him to make provision for his sister and younger brother.

The 1851 Census shows that Maurice was 60 years old.  His son Henry aged 25 was in the guards and Geraldine was 22 years old and living at home.  They had six servants.

By 1861 Maurice was 69 years old.  His daughter Geraldine was 26 years old.  They had six servants John Chitts Gastrell aged 25 a groom, Edwin aged 14, Hannah May aged 29 a cook, Charlotte Gaze aged 23 a lady’s maid, Elizabeth Smith and Ellen Payne both house maids.

The Society of Thornbury Folk Bulletin of April 1966 has extracts from the Thornbury Journal of 1869.  This tells us that the Rev Stephens who had at this point been vicar of Thornbury for 40 years was presented with a “testimonial” from the trades people of Thornbury who wanted to show their appreciation of the fact that he had spent his money in Thornbury rather than in Bristol.

As he was a rich man with “extensive estates in Ireland” this was much appreciated.  It seems from the article that the people of the Irish town of Skibbereen had also benefitted from his generosity as he had provided that town with amenities such as gas and water at no cost and in granting long leases at reasonable cost to themselves.  This is interesting as Thornbury people were experiencing a long struggle to get clean drinking water in their homes and the gas supply was neither cheap not reliable.  The inhabitants of Thornbury may have been hoping to benefit from similar generosity by their vicar.

The photograph above appears to show Rev Stephens in later life.  

The 1871 Census shows that he was aged 80 and his daughter Geraldine was 32.  At this time they had seven servants.

He died aged 81 on 21st March 1872 at the Vicarage, having been vicar in Thornbury for 48 years.

His daughter Geraldine married General Pierrepont Mundy.  Read about Geraldine Mundy

His son Henry John Townsend Stephens inherited the Manor of Horsley from 1848 when he attained his majority but he served in the army until 1857 after which he spent much of his life at Castletownshend.  He married Jane de Burgh on 29th September 1864.

 He died on 7th September 1869 at Castle Townsend.  His will was proved by his widow Jane Adeliza Clementina Hussey de Burgh Townsend.

Alice Gertrude Stephens married the Rev Courtney John Vernon, the son of Robert Vernon Vernon Baron Yveden of Lyvden on 25th March 1856.  She died in May 1913.

Thomas Waters, Vicar of Thornbury 1872-1886, was the second son of Randle Jackson Waters of St Margaret’s Westminster who was also a clergyman.  Thomas was a student at Christ Church Oxford and then vicar of Maiden Bradley in Wiltshire from 1864 to 1872 before coming to the parish of Thornbury, to which he was appointed in July 1872.  He married Barbara Bass Vessey the daughter of Samuel Vessey on 29th August 1872.  Barbara was born in Spilsby in Lincolnshire in 1845.  The register of visitors to the seaside town of Llandudno show that Barbara visited the town in July 1859 with a lady who appears to be her elder sister and who was described as Miss Vessey.  Their address was given as Halton Manor Lincolnshire.  It is also described as Halton-Holegate Manor House in Spilsby.

On 5th October 1873 George Thorold Waters, their first son, was baptised in St Mary’s Church.  Richard Vessey Waters was baptised the following year on 20th December 1874.  Two years later a third child Barbara Isabel Waters was baptised on 24th December 1876.

On 29th October 1873 Thomas Waters obtained a loan of £400 from the charity known as Queen Anne’s Bounty for “enlarging and altering the parsonage house and offices of the said Vicarage upon the glebe.” This was not paid off until 1901.

The 1881 Census shows that Thomas Waters was then aged 41 and living at the Vicarage in Thornbury with his wife Barbara aged 35 and from Lincolnshire.  Their three children were at that time; George aged 7, Richard aged 6 and Barbara aged 4.  The family had two visitors staying with them at the time of the Census.  Annie Warburton a rector’s wife from Lincolnshire and a widower Patrick King a clergy man without care of souls.  A newspaper article of 1886 shows that he was a member of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society and of the Ancient Order of Foresters.  

In 1886 Thomas Waters left Thornbury to go to Staverton in Wiltshire, where they appeared in the Censuses until that of 1901.

Barbara Waters died on 25th December 1903 aged 58.  Thomas Waters died in Wendover in Buckinghamshire at Ailsa House on 18th February 1909.  Administration was granted to his son George Thorold Waters who was a schoolmaster.

We know that Richard Vessey Waters the son of Thomas and Barbara Bass Waters joined the 69th Sussex Company Imperial Yeomanry on February 24th 1900 when he was aged 24 years.  He took the oath at Eastbourne.

Hodgson from a photo at GRO

Rev H Hodgson

Henry Bernard Hodgson was Vicar of Thornbury 1886-1897.  According to Wikipedia Henry Bernard Hodgson was born in Penrith on 10 March 1856.  He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Queen’s College Oxford and Christ Church College Oxford (1878 to 1885), being ordained in 1880.  He began his career as school chaplain of Elizabeth College, Guernsey after which he was Vicar of Staverton Northamptonshire then Headmaster of Birkenhead School from 1885-1886.

Henry Hodgson

Memorial to Henry Hodgson

He married Penelope Maria Warren the daughter of Richard Laud Warren on 1st June 1882 in Leamington Priors in Warwickshire.  Their children were Harry Courtenay Hodgson (baptised in Thornbury on March 2nd 1887, Stella Hodgson (baptised in Thornbury on 10th February 1891), William Noel Hodgson (baptised in Thornbury on 12th February 1893) and Arthur Bernard Hodgson who was born in the Daventry area in 1884.

In 1896 Rev Hodgson had a new vicarage built on the site of the older one which was considered insanitary.  Read about the vicarage

The Pall Mall Gazette of 31st January 1900 announced the appointment of Rev Hodgson “who a couple of years ago resigned the vicarage of Thornbury” to the living of Berwick on Tweed to be an honorary canon of Newcastle.  The 1901 Census confirms that the family had moved to Berwick upon Tweed in Northumberland. Henry was then aged 45 and his wife Penelope was 41. At that time they had two children in the household; daughter Stella aged 10 and son William aged 8 both of whom were born in Thornbury.  We have here on the right a photograph of  the Rev Hodgson.

He was the Archdeacon of Lindisfarne from 1904 to 1914 when he was elevated to the Episcopate as Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich a post he held until his death on 28 February 1921.  There is a memorial to him at St Edmundsbury Cathedral which is in Bury St Edmunds.  We have a thumbnail image of this memorial above on the left.  Please click on it to see a larger photograph.

His son William Noel Hodgson, the youngest of his children, volunteered for the army at the outbreak of war in 1914.  He served gallantly but was killed at the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916 aged 23.  His last poem ‘Before Action’ was written on the eve of the Battle.  His book “Verse and Prose in Peace and War” was published after his death in 1917.  The last line of his best known poem is “Help me to die, O Lord.”     Read about William Noel Hodgson

Alexander Nairne Scott was Vicar of Thornbury 1897-1899.  He was born about 1855.  He was ordained deacon in 1880 and a priest in 1881.  He was curate of St Mark’s New Swindon from 1880 to 1888.  He then became Vicar of Newland in the Forest of Dean, the church traditionally known as “the Cathedral of the Forest”.  In 1891 while Vicar at Newland and Redbrook he married Edith Jane Shute the second daughter of the Rev G H Hall and adopted daughter of Rev Harwicke Shute.  The 1891 Census shows that Edith had been living at South Lodge in Newland with her brother Lewis Hall before her marriage.  She was living there on her own means.

In 1898 Alexander Scott was made Vicar of St John in Redland, Bristol.  The 1911 Census shows that he was living in Kempsford in Gloucestershire aged 56.  His wife Edith was aged 63 by this time.  They had no children and had been married 19 years.  He died on 26th January 1921 at Ozleworth Rectory near Wotton under Edge.

Read about the Later Vicars

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