Tytherington Vicars


Church Life

Battle between Squire and the Vicar

List of Tytherington Vicars 1578 to today

Allan Baddeley describes some of Tytherington's past vicars

Through the centuries, Tytherington has had forty or fifty vicars.. but of these only one has come down to us through the years as a real person. Most are no more than names. Two or three receive passing mention in the records. John Lacy's bishop found him, in the 16"-- century, 'not a graduate, not a preacher.' Thomas Price, vicar from 1570, owed Thomas Smith, yeoman, some £20 at Smith's death, and owed Smith's widow £7 at her death. William Elbridge spent £133 on a new vicarage in 1662. William Jones, a graduate of Balliol, vicar from 1615, was recorded in 1650 as 'a man of note, a prominent Puritan ten years earlier.' Thomas Bin, vicar from 1679-1708, added many provocative remarks in the Baptism register, such as 'reputed wife of’ and 'supposed son of'. But in no case does a real man emerge.

A lucky break, however, lets us see much more of George Wade Green, vicar of Tytherington from 1817 to 1830.  Glancing idly at the Visitors' Book while sidesman in the church one evening, I saw a brief entry 'Thomas Lloyd, a descendant of Reverend G W Green.' A contact then established led me to the estate in Dyfed to which Green moved on leaving Tytherington, still occupied by his descendants, and to private papers about his life.

1817 was an important date for the church in Tytherington, for it marked the beginning of a short but stimulating interlude in its life. For almost a hundred years, the Lord of the Manor had been the patron of the living, and had appointed various of his relatives to the benefice. This was a period when the Hanoverian church lost touch with its people, when many clergymen lived away from their parish, and were pluralists (by holding more than one benefice simultaneously), and when there was great disparity between the income of the wealthy clergy and the miserable stipends paid to curates. As an example, Thomas Shellard, vicar 1750 - 1785, was also Rector of Rendcombe some 30 miles away. His Tytherington stipend was £95 p.a. For 35 years he had a curate who was paid £30 p.a. Early in the 19th century the Reverend James Hardwicke had for years obtained his bishop's permission to live in Bristol, not Tytherington, 'on account of the insufficiency of the house of residence and from his inability from ill health to undertake any regular duty'. No doubt Sopworth, of which he was Rector at the same time, also managed with a curate. He died in 1817, at an unfortunate time for the patron of the living, who was running out of ordained relations, and whose son, destined for the living, was only eleven years old. The patron's wife, Mrs Hardwicke, had a niece recently married to a young curate in Chippenham named Green; he was persuaded to take the living of Tytherington on the understanding that when the young Hardwicke was ordained, he would resign. In 1817 he was instituted to the church of Tytherington.

George Wade Green was born in Islington in 1785, the sixth of eight children of well-to-do parents. He was a scholar at Westminster School, a King's Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was ordained in 1808. Five years later, he married Mary Ann Key, daughter of a Lord Mayor of London, a wealthy stationer. The marriage settlement from his father was £5000, from his father-in-law £3500. But, curiously, his Trustees had to buy a curacy for him, first at Marlow, and then at Chippenham. Then in 1817 he agreed to come as vicar of Tytherington.  Green was one of the clergy who began to change the ways of the established church, with a sense of responsibility and with professionalism. He clearly intended to live in his village, and, the vicarage being old and probably run down, he proceeded to rebuild it, retaining some parts at the rear but renewing the front. Its appearance is almost unchanged to this day, apart from a recently added portico (It was renamed 'The Manor' some seventy years ago when a new vicarage was built.) Within the church, he added a vestry and, possibly, the gallery at the west end which was removed at the restoration of 1884. He planted trees in the churchyard: it is very likely that the chestnuts date from this time, as does the beautiful copper beech in the vicarage garden. The Green's first two children had been born before the Tytherington days, but the next seven (of twelve in all) were born here. One of his sons, in later years, wrote about his parents, and I quote from his notes:
 `My dear Father, Mother and Aunt were much liked. My Father in sickness or health visited his poor people. My good Mother always had her medicine chest at hand to relieve their bodily wants and the poor considered her equal to, if not better than, the doctor. She was clever and successful in her treatments and that was sufficient. My aunt, Miss Elizabeth Key, was better than any curate and visited the poor people at their houses, reading to and comforting them, as she only could, in her quiet way. She went daily to see the children at school when weather permitted, teaching them all that was good and the girls sewing to make them useful housewives.'
The main part of the house is as it was rebuilt in 1819, though with late Victorian accretions. Another contemporary photograph shows that at the back some of the original 1663 Vicarage still existed. This was removed in 1925 when the interior of the Vicarage was remodelled and the house renamed The Manor. 

Green's account book has some interesting entries; for instance:
24 flints 3s 0d,
2 lbs of gunpowder 9s Od
reminds us that flint and steel guns were then in general - and skilful - use, it seems, for he records the size of a heron which had been shot, 4 ft 1 in high, 5 ft 5 in from wing-tip to wing-tip.

 Other items in the account book were:

12 lbs bacon 16s 4d,
a bushel of barley meal 8s 6d,
2 lbs black tea 16s
Bought in London were a pair of black silk stockings 15s, a pair of silver knee buckles 5s, and a pint of rum 3s. The rum was doubtless welcome in bleak winter evenings in a large vicarage. In 1818 a top for Frank (the eldest boy) cost 2s 9d and, later, marbles were bought for him though the cost was not recorded. 'Killing mad dog 1s' is somewhat enigmatic; it does not seem to be a very munificent reward considering the risk, but possibly it was no more than a contribution to a subscription list. In 1827, we have 'Matches for instantaneous light 1s 0d', which indicates that this was the transition period from flint, steel and tinder box to the 'Lucifer' match with combustible head. The change is underlined by the drop in the price of flints; in 1827 12 flints cost no more than 3d. There are payments to governesses (there were three changes within five years; were these nine children too much for them?), and, later, fees were paid to Joseph Helm who kept a school at Aust near the New Passage, which the eldest boy attended. Was the `Parrot £2-10s' bought to interest the children? Green's grandson Francis remembered it from his childhood, as he did also the 'Single gun and caps £8-10s' bought in 1828 and with which forty years later he made a wonderfully long shot at a woodcock. One of the last entries made while in Tytherington was 'Rabbits for Frank 3s-0d'. Frank was by then 14 years old.

The vicar had the benefit of 61 acres of glebe which, in the previous period of absentee incumbents, was let to one of the farmers in the parish. In 1789, John Smith paid £44-2s rent for the glebe. Green, however, was interested in farming and especially in pure bred livestock and probably retained for his own use the nearer fields, while letting some of the more distant land such as the Bockneys by Midsummer bridge. In 1826 he paid 3s-9d for shearing 14 sheep and shortly afterwards bought 'two Spanish lambs' for two guineas. Was this to improve the wool by introducing Spanish merino blood? The Napoleonic Wars had severely interrupted the supply of Spanish merino wool, at that time the preferred wool for the Stroud cloth industry. In the same year, he bought a Devonshire cow and calf for ten guineas, and in the next year a Spanish ram for the seemingly low price of 15s-Od. It was in 1826 that a severe drought occurred and Tytherington suffered badly. We read in his son's notes 'The cattle and sheep had to be driven three miles for water and came back as thirsty as they went'. Perhaps they found water in the mill pond at Tortworth. After this, Green `caused a well to be sunk nearly opposite the entrance gate to the Vicarage and put up an iron pump for the use of the inhabitants', and it is there today on Duck Street, pictured below.

By this time, after ten years in the village, Green and his patron the Lord of the Manor, Thomas Hardwicke, were no longer on the best of terms. Green found himself disapproving of the young man who, it was planned, was to take over the living. He began to look for other benefices. His wife was a grand-daughter of Bluett Jones of Iron Acton who had many close relationships in West Wales, and their thoughts turned in that direction. One day, after young Mr Hardwicke had taken Holy Orders, the patron asked Green to give the young man a title, in other words to take him as curate. Green declined to do so and resigned the living.
After searching North and West Wales and Devonshire, Green found a suitable property at Court Henry, some ten miles from Carmarthen, in an area in which Mrs Green would have found many friends. Travelling, a century and a half ago had its problems. Their furniture was loaded on wagons, taken to Bristol docks, shipped to Carmarthen, and then taken on again in carts. The Green entourage went by road, taking five days. The second night was spent at The Castle Hotel in Brecon. Behind the carriages were the horses, and behind them were driven the cattle.  George Wade Green had twelve children and forty-five grandchildren, many of whom had distinguished careers. A grandson became the first Archbishop of Wales. Two of his sons served with distinction in the British Army in India: one led the 2nd Punjab Regiment 'with great heroism and distinction throughout the Indian Mutiny 1857-1858' and became Major General Sir George Wade Guy Green. The other son, besieged in Lucknow during the Mutiny, lost his newly-wedded wife there. On returning to England, he remarried and lived for a while in The Grange in Tytherington, chairing a vestry meeting in 1864. This was the family's final link with the parish.

Their departure left Thomas Hardwicke in a quandary, and he was driven to enter into another formal Bond of Resignation, this time with a young parson of 27, William Henry Moncrieff Roberson. Fate was unkind to Thomas Hardwicke, and to Tytherington. Scarcely had Roberson been instituted when young Hardwicke died. Roberson was asked to resign in accordance with the Bond, to make room for the patron's next appointee; but he refused to go, arguing (correctly) that his resignation was required only when young Hardwicke, and only he , was ready to be appointed. The squire was understandably furious, and verbal tradition in the village has kept warm many stories of the subsequent rows between squire and vicar, culminating, it is said, in a victory in the courts for the vicar. The squire never attended church again, the vicar settled down to a very comfortable living to which ordinarily he could never have aspired. The parish in West Wales received a sympathetic and active parson; on the material side, a new church was built, also a new bridge over the river, and Green is credited with having established in his parish the first Benefit Club in the country. In Tytherington he had filled the church. Many years later his son re-visited Tytherington and finding a very small congregation in the church spoke to one of the older villagers, named Taylor (perhaps James Taylor of Tower Hill Farm). His reply was `Ah! It is not as it was in Parson Green's time. Then we were glad to get a seat on the gallery stairs or the pulpit steps, it was so full'. No doubt his Welsh parishioners responded in the same way. He died in 1868 age 83. Roberson in Tytherington also stayed, for 50 years, until his death in 1881 but he was scarcely such a success in the parish. A book entitled The Church Goer was published in Bristol in 1850. Its author, J Leech, went out on his horse on Sundays to visit and, as it were, to report on a variety of churches, one of which was Tytherington where Roberson was vicar. His article is a formidable indictment of the state in which he found the church. On his way he enquired of villagers at what time the service began, but no-one could tell him 'I can't tell you, indeed, Sir, 'tis so long since I was there. I have not been at Church since Mr Roberson came.' His next enquiry produced no result, `...for it is a place, Sir, I don't often go to.' Having heard that the incumbent of Tytherington was `remarkable for the dispatch with which he went through the prayers', our visitor was surprised to hear the service read in a decorous and devotional tone and with feeling. But the officiating clergyman was a stranger to the congregation of twelve, brought in at short notice as Roberson was elsewhere. Talking to a farmer in a blue coat, the visitor found that there was no sermon and no singing. 'How is it that you have no singing?' `I don't know. There are some who do be for having it, but they are not encouraged. Mrs Morrish and Mr Honnywell I believe offered to get books for them, but Mr Roberson does not see the use of it.' Our visitor derived some consolation by riding up to the hill and finding there 'a noble view'.