Assistant Priests [Work in Progress]

The project to trace the assistant priests of St Michael’s is ongoing. If you have any details to add to what is found here, please contact us

Vivian Leatham Keelan
1873, Dominica, British West Indies – 6 May 1938
St Michael’s 1904-10

His parents were Nicholas Walter Keelan MD and Rosabella Leatham (1851, Dominica – 1930, Wandsworth), the second daughter of the late Charles Leatham of Dominica. They had been married on 24th May 1870 at St George’s Cathedral, Georgetown, Guyana by the Venerable Archdeacon Jones, MA. None of the family appear in any British censuses before 1901, so they were all probably resident in Dominica before that date. Nicholas died before 1901, possibly triggering his widow to move to England with their children. Vivian had at least one sibling, a younger brother Claud Charles Keelan (1877, Roseau, Dominica-11 August 1916, Western Front).

Vivian graduated BA from Cambridge in 1893 and was deaconed in 1895 and priested the following year, both by the Bishop of Exeter. He was a friend of Fr Merritt, possibly from their time in Cambridge. His first curacy was at Dawlish (1895-1901). In 1901 he gained his Cambridge MA and in the census that year he was living at Bridge House, Myrtle Cottage, Dawlish, Devon with his widowed mother. His next curacies were at St James’ Devonport (1901-04) and St Michael’s (1904-10).

The July 1910 parish magazine reported on his holiday in Devon, Berlin and Dresden, from which he wrote “They don’t make fun about war here … They glorify it. Even their Angels stand on cannon-balls! I hope we may never have to fight them.” Later in 1910 he was appointed London Diocesan Home Missioner to Golders Green, then in the first stages of its development. The October 1910 parish magazine for St Michael’s Camden Town stated he officially left the parish on 15th September 1910 to take up residence at Golders Green, but returned the following Sunday to help at St Michael’s Camden Town since his temporary iron church was not ready yet. It was then due to be dedicated on 1st October by the Bishop of Islington, with St Michael’s Camden Town providing a choir for the occasion. He wrote a letter to St Michael’s which was published in the November 1910 parish magazine, thanking them for their “over-generous [farewell] gift”, saying that he was missing “S. Michael’s and its stately services and the familiar friendly faces” and mentioning that “We had a Harvest Thanksgiving when we were 13 days old. Wasn’t that ambitious?”.

In the 1911 census Vivian was single and boarding at 33 Montpelier Rise, Golders Green with the 29-year-old Clapham-born “merchant’s clerk and organist” William Cave and his wife Clara Winifred. Later in 1911 he married Emily Grace ‘Toots’ Williams (31 January 1891, North Lawton, Devon – 1959 or 1968, Haringey district) in Bedford district. She was the daughter of Henry Clissold Williams (1848-1927) and Mary Fulford (1854, North Lawton, Devon – 1928). Emily attended Bedford High School for Girls and in 1911 was living at 2-4 Clapham Road, Bedford with three siblings (including one born in Assam, India in 1890), two servants and her mother – her father was absent, probably in India, where he worked as a civil servant. Emily’s birthplace makes it likely the couple first met during Vivian’s first curacy in Devon. They had their first child two years later, Patrick Robert Leatham Keelan (23rd July 1913, Bedford district – 1973, Wandsworth district).

The parish magazines for St Michael’s Camden Town state that St Michael’s Golders Green was consecrated on 1st February 1914. Vivian’s Church Times obituary stated “He quickly endeared himself to the people, who rallied round him to such effect that the foundation-stone of the permanent church was laid on June 9 1913, by [Isoline Harriett Perrin, nee Bailey] the wife of the late Bishop [of Willesden William] Perrin [who had died in 1934]. The following year the Bishop of London [Arthur Winnington-Ingram] dedicated the first part of the permanent church.” That dedication was reported in the parish magazines for St Michael’s Camden Town, dating it to 1st February 1914. His obituary adds that “Mr. Keelan’s magnetic personality made him a well-known figure in the district, not only by his own congregation but by representatives of all denominations, who found him always ready to help with kindly words and encouragement.”

Vivian’s mother had moved to 53 Wymering Road Mansions, Maida Vale by 1911, where she was living in the household of Vivian’s younger brother Claud, a commercial clerk who served in the London Rifle Brigade from 1909 to 1912. He then enlisted into the Honourable Artillery Company on 8th September 1914 at Armoury House on Finsbury Circus, giving his occupation as ‘registrar of a company’ or ‘clerk’, with his address as ‘The Knole’, St John’s Road, Golders Green, perhaps close to or with Vivian. He sailed from Southampton to the Western Front on 29th December that year. A rifle bullet hit him in front of his left ear at Dickebusch (also spelled Dikkebus) on 25th March 1915, leaving him with a wound to the head and face. He was sent to Bailleul then Le Havre, from which he sailed on the ‘Asturias’ on 29th March. He was admitted to hospital on 31st March “with wounds very septic and looking in a general septic condition”. He improved well until 11th April, when his mastoid opened up, abscesses started to develop and his right eye muscles became paralysed. The wound also caused pyaemia and left him with fixation of his right knee and very little movement in the left knee. He was discharged as no longer physically fit for any form of war service (even home service) on 28th June and died on 11th August 1916. He is commemorated at the CWGC’s Brookwood Memorial in Surrey and his death was recorded in the RIP list in St Michael’s parish magazine.

Vivian himself served as an Acting Chaplain for the Royal Navy during the war, spending time on the hospital ship Rewa, which ferried the wounded from Gallipoli to Malta and Alexandria (1915-16). The September 1915 magazine mentioned he had been back in England briefly once during his time as a chaplain, but not long enough to visit St Michael’s. His second son Michael Vivian was born in 1915 during his absence and had been christened by Fr Osborn, who was also one of the godfathers. The following month’s magazine stated Vivian had been home on leave for nearly a fortnight but had left on 24th September to return to the Dardanelles. He had a third child, Bernard Claud Leonard Keelan (19th October 1917, Hendon district – 1980, Brighton district), probably given his second name in honour of Vivian’s dead brother.

Apart from its tower, the church in Golders Green was completed and consecrated in 1926. Vivian’s Church Times obituary states that “At Michaelmas, 1935, he was taken suddenly ill, and in spite of many endeavours to return to his work, he was compelled to retire from the parish in 1937, after completing twenty- seven years of devoted service.” The St Michael’s Camden Town parish magazine of June 1938 parish magazine reported Vivian’s death “after a long and painful illness”, which his Church Times obituary of 13th May 1938 stated he had “borne with great courage and patience”.

Vivian’s Church Times obituary stated that “On Monday [9th May] last Vespers of the Dead were solemnly sung at St. Michael’s Church [Golders Green], and an unbroken watch was kept throughout the night. Masses of Requiem were said on the day of burial at 6, 7, and 8 a.m., and these were largely attended. The church was crowded at the funeral service, at which the Bishop of Willesden gave a short address, referring to the wonderful work which Mr. Keelan had done in Golders Green and the high esteem in which he was held by all. After the service a private cremation was held at the Crematorium and his ashes were interred in the floor of the Lady-chapel of the church which he built and loved.”

Vivian’s son Michael attended Haileybury School, rose to the rank of Major and was awarded the MBE. He married Rosemary D Phillips (1925-1998) in Kensington district in 1945 and had two children, Alicia and Paul. Vivian’s son Bernard married Joan Lydia Yorke (born 1918) in Surrey in 1952 and had two children, Emily Charlotte Lydia Keelan (1953, Hampstead district) and Adam John Yorke Keelan (1958, Wandsworth district). Emily Charlotte Lydia in turn married Thomas Richard Dening (born 1955/56) and had one daughter, Elizabeth Laura Dening (born 1986).

Cyril Isherwood
6 July 1887, Regent’s Park or St Pancras district – 1980, Henley district, Oxfordshire
St Michael’s 1919-1923

He was the son of another clergyman, Richard Isherwood (1846, Lancashire) and his wife Maria Emilie Moxon White (1855, City of London), who had married in the Strand district of London late in 1876. Richard had been 26th Wrangler at Rossall School in Lancashire and graduated from St John’s College, Cambridge in 1866, the same year as he was ordained. He served only one curacy, at St Martin in the Fields (1869-1886). Cyril was baptised at St Martin in the Fields on 28 July 1887. Richard became vicar of Stoke Row, Henley-on-Thames in 1890. Cyril was living with his parents in 1901 at the Rectory in Meppershall in Bedfordshire.

Cyril was Canon Scholar at Lincoln in 1907. He was made a deacon in 1911 and a priest the following year, both by the bishop of St Albans. On census night in 1911 Cyril and his parents were all boarding at 2-3 Torrington Square, Bloomsbury. His first curacy was at St Barnabas in Little Ilford, Essex (1911-1915), followed by ones at Emmanuel Church, Holloway (1915-1916) and All Saints, Islington (1916-1918). He arrived at St Michael’s in 1919, where his duties included visiting the sick and continued Sister Faith’s women’s bible classes. He remained until 1923 – the parish magazine in July that year reported he would be leaving in September, whilst that in October confirmed his departure date as 1st October and gave a short account of his work at St Michael’s.

His next curacy was at St Saviour’s in St Albans (1924-1937), living at 45 Walton Street. His first parish as vicar was at St Thomas, West Hyde in St Albans diocese (1937-1940), living at the vicarage in Rickmansworth. He then became vicar of Stoke Row in the Oxford diocese in 1940, where he stayed until at least 1975.

Robert Bartlett
1877, Gillingham, Dorset – between 1940 and 1947
St Michael’s, c.1921

He was the son of Robert Bartlett (1841, East Chinnock, Somerset) and his wife Elizabeth Poole (1845, Hardington Mandeville, Somerset), who had married in Yeovil district in 1876. The 1881 census records his father as a farmer of 63 acres employing 2 men. In 1881 and 1891 he was living at Bugley Farm, Kinebush Lane, Gillingham, Dorset with his parents, two younger brothers, a widowed maternal grandmother, his father’s maiden aunt and two servants – both his grandmother and his great-aunt were annuitants or living on their own means, signifying wealth in the family. He was still with his parents at that address in 1891, by which time this had risen to three younger brothers and the aunt and servants had moved out or died.

Robert was a Theological Associate of King’s College London in 1910, the same year as he was made a deacon. He was ordained priest the following year, whilst serving his first curacy, at St Michael and All Angels, Bromley (1910-1914). In 1911 he was living at 1a Teriot Street, South Bromley, with the vicar, another curate and two servants. His next curacies were at St Anne’s, Limehouse (1914-1916) and St Matthew’s, Westminster (1916-1920). He then became chaplain to the Sisters of Bethany at Lloyd Square in London (1920-1924 and 1927 onwards), living at 9 Lloyd Street.

He was also made an honorary chaplain to the Bishop of Glasgow around August 1921 and around the same time acted as a part-time assistant priest at St Michael’s. The November 1921 parish magazine reported that the parish was £100 behind with its Assistant Clergy Fund contributions and so would have to part with Bartlett’s help – it stated he had “given great assistance in re-starting the Men’s Ward of the Guild, and in revising the Guild office”. The magazine stated he was moving to Holy Cross, St Pancras, though Crockford’s only states he was given permission to officiate in that parish between 1927 and 1933 – in the meantime he had been chaplain to St Mary’s School in Wantage, Oxfordshire (1924-1927).

Thomas John Hardy
1916 Crockfords – St Mary’s, Surrey Road, Bournemouth
St Michael’s, 1911-12

He gained his BA at Queen’s College, Cambridge in 1891, though only got his Cambridge MA in 1919. He was ordained deacon in 1892 and priest the following year, both times by the Bishop of Manchester. He went straight to his first curacy at Holy Trinity in the Lancashire town of Darwen, (1892-94) before moving to another at St Alban’s, Rochdale (1894-97). He then moved into non-parish ministry as Acting Chaplain to Malacca, a British colony in what is now Malaysia (1897-98), before becoming a licensed priest in the Chichester diocese (1899-1901). Next he served in the Surrey village of Frensham (1908-11), where he wrote his first book. “The Gospel of Pain” (1908). He was then given Permission to Officiate at St Michael’s (1911-12).

He next served another curacy at St Peter’s, Bournemouth, Hampshire (1913-17), during which he was living on Surrey Road in the town and wrote two further works, “The Religious Instinct” (1913) and “Catholic, or Roman Catholic” (1916). His final role seems to have been as Managing Warden of St Mary’s House on Regent’s Park Road (1917-25), living at 84 Regent’s Park Road. During that role he was also made a licensed priest in the dioceses of London (1918) and Exeter (1925). He wrote five more books – “A Vision of the Catholic Church” (1918), “Spiritism” (1919, on the rise of spiritualism during and after the mass bereavements of World War One); “Christianity Misunderstood” (1923); “The Secret of Progress” (1926); and “Books on the Shelf” (1934). He retained the license in Exeter diocese until at least 1930, when his address was given in Crockfords Clerical Directory as Benet Wood, Middle Warberry Road, Torquay, Devon. This was also given as his address in 1935 but he had disappeared from the Directory by 1940, either due to death or retirement.

Edward Alfred Somerset Allan
1887, Streatham Hill – 1961, Royal Sussex Hospital, Brighton
St Michael’s, 1923-1926

His father Albert Philip Wriothesley Allan (1852-1904) and his paternal grandfather George Allan (1797-1898) were both also priests. George had been born in Aberdeen but later had parishes in Lambeth and High Wycombe – Albert was an associate of King’s College London, ordained in 1878 and began serving his first curacy in Sutton Valence, Staplehurst, Kent the year before Edward’s birth. His mother Harriet Sophia Van Ness Tucket (1854-1943) was also Scottish and had married Albert in 1877.

Edward was living with his parents on Danewood Street, Crundale, Kent in 1901 and boarding at 91 Sackville Road, Hove in 1911. He was made a deacon in 1914 and ordained priest the following year, both in Chichester diocese, where he also served his first two curacies, at St Barnabas, Hove (1914-18) and in the West Sussex village of Nuthurst (1918-24). He married Isabella Kate Bunston in 1918. The parish magazine of November 1923 announced him as the replacement for Cyril Isherwood at St Michael’s, with his arrival scheduled for mid January 1924. That of January 1926 stated he had been nominated to be London Diocesan Home Missioner of St Hilda’s, Tottenham but would probably stay at St Michael’s until Easter.

St Hilda’s was a newly-established mission church on the corner of White Hart Lane and Great Cambridge Road, which as yet only had a hall but no church. The magazine of April 1926 added “We wish we could have kept [Fr Allan] with us, but the ‘Spurs’ have been too strong for us, and have enticed him away to Tottenham. We are sure that he will play the ‘forward’ game there as energetically as he has played it here”. It noted that the hall in his new parish was “shortly to be opened” and that Allan would build a church there shortly after arriving. The April magazine noted that he was given an oak wafer box with silver partitions by the Catechism members on Palm Sunday, for use at the altar credence – the June magazine also noted further gifts of a cheque for £22 at the Parish Church Council on May 4th and a pipe from members of the Men’s Social Club at one of their meetings on May 21st.

He was St Hilda’s Missioner until 1929, then its minister from 1929 to 1933, living at St Hilda’s House on Creighton Road. His next parishes were St John’s, Uxbridge Moor (1933-44) and Albourne, West Sussex (1944-c. 1957). From 1955 onwards he was also Sequestrator of Woodmancote, West Sussex.

William Benjamin Hine
1882, North Kensington – 1948, Oxford district
St Michael’s 1926-30

He attended Wycliffe Hall in Oxford in 1909 and graduated BA from Marcon’s Hall, Oxford in 1910, the same year as he was made a deacon by the Bishop of Liverpool. His first curacy was at Christ Church, Everton, Liverpool (1910-1911).

He was ordained priest by the same bishop in 1911 (when he was boarding 160 Great Mersey Street, Liverpool with a 50-year-old widow and her six children) and gained his Oxford MA in 1912. He did not find another parish until 1913, but in the interim was given Permission to Officiate at St Cleopas, Toxteth Park, Liverpool. His next curacies were at St Mary’s, Peckham (1913-1917) and South Elmsall (1917-1918). He then took up teaching – his registration as a teacher in 1922, whilst resident in Camden, gives 1918 as the year of his first teaching post. He held three teaching posts in succession – as Assistant Master at Eastbourne College (1918-19), at Dulwich College (1919-21) and as Assistant Master and Chaplain at Savoy School (1921-1924).

He became a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society or the Royal Astronomical Society in 1924, the same year as he was given Permission to Officiate in the Southwark and St Albans dioceses (1924-26). The St Michael’s parish magazine reported that he and his wife had settled in after his arrival as assistant priest (1926-30) – in 1930 they are recorded as living on Regent’s Park Terrace. Afterwards he moved to St Luke’s, West Holloway (1930-32) and All Hallows, Tottenham (1934-37). He finally became rector of North Newnton in Wiltshire (1937-39) and priest of Fifield with Idbury in Oxfordshire (1939-45). He seems to have retired by 1948, when he was living at 104 Woodstock Road, Oxford.

Angus Elor Palmer
1908, Geelong, Victoria, Australia – c.1980
St Michael’s, 1933-36

He was the only child of James Henry Palmer and Rankin Sarah Jane Palmer. He graduated from St John’s Theological College, Morpeth, New South Wales in 1928 and gained an Australian Capital Territory Theological Licentiate in 1931, the same year as he was made a deacon by the Bishop of Melbourne for the Bishop of Wangaratta. He was ordained priest in 1932 by the Bishop of Wangaratta. His first curacy was in Longwood, Victoria (1931-33), after which he came to a temporary post at Holy Cross, St Pancras.

On October 21st 1933 he was appointed provisional assistant priest at St Michael’s, having previously held a temporary appointment at Holy Cross, St Pancras (which does not show up in Crockfords). The December 1933 parish magazine confirmed he would be staying on permanently at St Michael’s. He is recorded in 1935 as living at 146 Camden Square. He took a party to watch the Silver Jubilee procession for George V from a window on Ludgate Hill (reported in June 1935) and on 3rd June the same year took 8 boys from the school to see Trooping of the Colour. The latter group included William Kelly (aged 13), who wrote “After the processions we went into Lyons [Tea Shop] and had some ice-cream and came home”. He left the parish on 29th February 1936 to sail for Australia after saying his last mass there at 7am that day.

His next curacies were at All Saints, Brisbane (1936-37) and All Saints, St Kilda, Victoria (1937-39). He was then curate-in-charge of St Bartholomew’s in the Melbourne suburb of Burnley (1938) and curate of Broken Hill (1939-40). His first posts as priest in charge were at Allansford with Panmure (1940-41) and All Saints, Bal and Wendouree (1941-44). He became a chaplain to the Australian Imperial Force late in World War Two (1944-46), returning to become priest in charge of Skipton (1946-48) then chaplain to the Mission to Seamen in Hobart (1948-53). His next role was as rector of Launceston, Tasmania (1953-57), overlapping with time as chaplain to Geoffrey Cranswick, Bishop of Tasmania (1954-57). He then became incumbent of St Martin’s, Hawksburn in Melbourne diocese, where a stained glass window is dedicated to him and his wife Sylvia. His final parish was St James, East St Kilda (1970-72), though was given Permission to Officiate in Melbourne diocese from 1973 until at least 1980. In 1980 he is recorded as living at Flat 2, 30 Denby Road, Armadale, Victoria – he seems to have died some time after that year.

Arthur Baldwin Davis – dedicatee of the St Michael statue in the nave
December 1870, Peckham – 24th April 1938, 3 St Mark’s Square, London
St Michael’s, 1927-1936

His parents Edward Charles Davis (1844, Camberwell – 12 December 1897, Peckham Rye) and Elizabeth Baldwin (1846, Woolwich) married in Lewisham early in 1864 and seem to have moved from Gillingham to Peckham between 1867 and 1870, judging by their children’s birthplaces. As was then common, Arthur was given his mother’s maiden name as a middle name. He was four months old at the time of the 1871 census, when he was living with his parents, three elder sisters and his mother’s unmarried younger sister on Gordon Road, Camberwell. The census gave his father’s occupation as a ‘Bunkersmaker [?] employing 15 men’.

In 1891 Arthur and his eight siblings were living at 191 Barray Road, Peckham Rye with their parents and two servants. Arthur gave his occupation as “Student of Mathematics” and his father was now rich enough to state his occupation as “Living on Own Means”. In 1892 Arthur graduated BA (Junior Optime) from Trinity Hall, Cambridge, gaining his Cambridge MA from there in 1896. The following year he was made a deacon by the bishop of St Albans, who also ordained him priest in 1895. In 1897 he acted as his father’s executor, but his first curacy only came in 1899, at St Ives, Huntingdonshire (1899-1902).

1899 also saw Arthur marry Rachel Mary Rivers Thompson (1869, Calcutta) in Tunbridge Wells. She was probably the daughter of Augustus Rivers Thompson (1829-1890), an Old Etonian from an Indian civil service family, who was Secretary to the Bengal Government (1869-75), Chief Commissioner of British Burma (1875-1878) and Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal (1882-1887). In 1911 Rachel gave her occupation as ‘Private Means’.

Arthur’s next curacies were at St Alban’s, Fulham (1902-05) and St Michael and All Angels, Notting Hill, then known as North Kensington (1905-12). In 1911 he and his wife, two servants (a cook and a parlourmaid) and a visitor (Bertha Rivers Thompson, 1871, Calcutta – possibly his wife’s sister) were living in a 10-room house at 60 St Marks Road, North Kensington. They seem to have had had no children – certainly they had no children born alive by the time of the 1911 census.

Arthur then seems to have left parish ministry and instead was given Permission to Officiate by the London diocese (1917-27). This was probably because of the failing health which also forced him to give up his role as Secretary-General of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament in 1922. His obituary stated “From that time until his death, he was a sufferer. He seemed to go from one illness to another, but nothing quenched his cheerfulness, and his wonderful patience was an inspiration to all who knew him.” He had recovered enough by 1927 to take on regular duty at St Michael’s and “with remarkable bravery he stuck to his post so long as he was able to drag himself to the Altar. Sometimes he could not do this for months on end, but again and again he came back.” He was officially made an assistant priest in the parish in 1933 and remained so until his death.

However, in 1936 it became “clear that he would never officiate again” and he celebrated his last mass on Christmas Day that year. He was then bedridden and “in constant pain” until his death. Fr Davis had once commented that a sermon preached at St Michael’s on “All my fresh springs shall be in thee” was “one of the best sermons he had ever heard” and in his obituary in the June 1938 parish magazine Fr Merritt stated that he felt that “no words could better describe the source of Fr Davis’ own outstanding characteristics”. Two days after his death his body was brought into St Michael’s and Vespers of the Dead were said. The Vicar held a sung requiem mass for him on 27th April, followed by the Absolution of the Dead. The vicar then said the first part of the burial service, with the lesson read by Fr Webb Bowen, and the committal (again by the vicar) at Golders Green Crematorium.

The May 1938 parish magazine carried the brief notice that he had “passed to that rest he so much desired. May he rest in peace.”. That of September 1939 stated “The Memorial to Fr Davis, which will be a large statue of St Michael and is being given by Mrs Davis in memory of her husband, is to be dedicated on the Eve of the Festival of St Michael at the first Evensong of the Festival at 8pm. The statue is a very beautiful one and is being made by the Faith Craft-Works. It will stand in front of the second pillar on the right hand side of the Nave.” It was dedicated at the 11.15 Sung Mass on Sunday 1st October 1939.

Thomas Henry Kett
1864, Norwich – 1928, Shadwell
St Michael’s, 1902-1919

He was the son of William Woodhouse Kett (1818, Thorpe, Norfolk-1890, Norwich) and his wife Maria Neale (1820, St Giles, Norfolk-1882, Norwich) – they had married in Norwich in 1846 and Thomas seems to have been the youngest of their eight children. In 1861 William and were living at 2 Exchange Street, St Peters Mancroft, Norwich with five children, five staff at William’s shop, two servants and one apprentice. In the 1871 census Thomas was living with his parents at 2 London Street in St Peter’s Mancroft parish of Norwich. His father was then a draper employing 3 assistants. In 1881 Thomas was an assistant at a school called Chorlton House on Portland Street in Leamington Priors (now Royal Leamington Spa) in Warwickshire, whilst William and Maria were living on London Street, Norwich with four of their children and five servants, shop assistants and porters. In 1901 Thomas was living as a ‘Visitor’ at 4 Rectory Grove in Clapham whilst studying for the priesthood.

Thomas was at St Michael’s from his ordination in 1902 until 1919, when he became Rector of St Paul’s Shadwell. He sailed from Liverpool for Cape Town on the ‘Suevic’ on 4th June 1908 to spend until Christmas that year on a holiday chaplaincy at Roodeport, South Africa, where he saw his two sisters and brother for the first time in 25 years. In 1911 he was living at 69 Albert Street, St Pancras, at a boarding house run by Harriet Klein, an 84-year-old German widow from Wurtemburg. The June 1913 parish magazine carried a report of him walking beside a canal (“the report that Mr Kett lost his bicycle on that occasion is unfounded”) when he noticed a boy drowning. He dived in fully clothed, brought him up off the bottom and tried artificial respiration, but it proved to be too late. He also founded the St Michael’s company of the Church Lads’ Brigade.

The September 1919 magazine reported “There was a chance at one time of his going out to S Africa, but an offer [to Shadwell] has come instead”, calling him “the most reliable Priest that any Parish could have. Always to be depended on, always reverent in his conduct of the services, always ‘our handyman’ in any emergency.” He attended Fr Osborn’s 25-year-anniversary in 1923 and was an old friend of Fr Merritt, Fr Osborn’s successor. The July 1924 parish magazine at St Michael’s reported that he had fallen 20 feet down the belfry of St Paul’s Shadwell in 1924, breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle. His obituary appeared in the August 1928 parish magazine.

Olive [sic] Edward Gittins
3 or 15 May 1882, Northop, Flintshire – 3 August 1950, The Mount, Buckley, Flintshire
St Michael’s, 1911-1917

He was the son of John Gittins (1856, Buckley, Mold, Flintshire – 1931, probably Bistre) and Mary Elizabeth Hewitt (1866, Ewloe or Buckley, Flintshire – 1951, Hawarden district), who had married in Chester district in mid 1880. Olive was baptised at Northop, Flintshire, Wales on 23rd July 1882. Olive does not seem to be an error for Oliver, since this is the name given in several sources such as Crockford’s Directory, his Church Times obituary and the Keble College Oxford Register.

John was the innkeeper at the Black Horse Hotel in Buckley, where he was resident with his wife in both 1901 and 1911. Olive had only one sibling, a younger sister Hilda May (1885, Buckley), who was living with their parents in both 1901 and 1911. Olive is recorded as attending Hawarden Grammar School in 1899 and 1900 and was living with his parents in 1901, giving his occupation as ‘Under Tuition for Clergyman’. He graduated BA from Keble College Oxford in 1904 and attended Wells Theological College that year. He was made a deacon in 1905 and a priest the following year (both by the Bishop of Chester), serving as curate of St Mary’s, Liscard in Merseyside (1905-07). His next curacy was at St Mark’s, Noel Park, Wood Green, London (1907-09) – his Church Times obituary states “like many of the younger priests of his day he was attracted into the diocese of London by Bishop Winnington-Ingram”. He also gained his Oxford MA in 1908.

Olive served a third curacy at St Alban the Martyr, Fulham (1909-11), as senior curate to Fr Tritton – Gittins’ Church Times obituary calls this “a difficult parish in an extremely poor district, where the teaching and ceremonial of the Church were under constant attacks from Protestant factions; but the steady, unflinching teaching was not without its fruit.”. The 1911 census has him boarding with Mary Kingston, a 69 year old Irish spinster, at Polvarth, Keith Road, Hayes, Middlesex. He then became an assistant priest at St Michael’s, Camden Town in 1911 – his obituary states that during his time in the parish “he had charge of a small mission room in a neighbourhood of squalor and wretchedness”. The St Michael’s parish magazine of June 1915 states he had gone to be an Temporary Chaplain to the Forces for the duration of the war, adding that he was stationed in Portsmouth and that “Though he volunteered some time back, he had no word till a fortnight ago to say if he had been accepted, and then he had to pack up and be off at three days’ notice. He has paid us a flying visit in uniform since then, and tells us he finds his post most interesting. He is attached to 13th, 14th, and 15th Battalions of the Army Reserve.” He had been moved to Portsmouth by the time of the July 1915 magazine.

The October 1915 magazine states he was now in charge of No 10 Stationary Hospital in France, its previous chaplain having been sent to the trenches. “He is billetted with an old French lady, whose husband has been killed in battle and who has four sons at the front … The London motor bus is to be seen everywhere. It has now become a vehicle of war” The Bishop of Khartoum and Father Waggett were also serving at that hospital. The May 1916 issue carried a letter from him:

“I spent a good part of Good Friday in the trenches, arranging for Easter Communions, and on Easter Day I celebrated in a large ‘dug-out’ that would hold 40 or 50 men, and also took the Reserved Sacrament to a good many. It was a most inspiring sight to see the men in their well-stained clothes kneeling on the earth in a long cave to receive their Communion, and the whole atmosphere was pervaded with a wonderful sacredness, and the men seemed so thoroughly earnest. On Palm Sunday we were out of the trenches, having an eight days’ rest, and I took a sung Eucharist in a very large barn, which nearly the whole battalion attended. It was a special commemoration service for those who had fallen in the battalion since March 2nd. I am attached at present to the 1st Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. Please convey my affectionate regards to all at S Michael’s.”

In November 1916 he was reported to be back from the front for a few days, but the following month’s issue stated he was in hospital himself at Boulogne “suffering from internal trouble owing to the wet and exposure of the last few weeks since he returned to France. He is going on well, however, and is to recruit at a Convalescent Home on the Riviera when he is well enough to leave the Hospital”.

The March 1917 issue reported that Fr Gittins had told Fr Osborn that he did not intend to return to St Michael’s post-war, despite his post having been kept open for him and despite its parish priest Fr Osborn trying to talk him out of it. It added that the last news of him was that he was going to Devon “to recruit after his illness in the Officers’ Hospital in Surrey”. In the December 1917 issue it was stated “We hear that Mr Gittins has quite recovered his health and has now gone out to Palestine.” The Keble Collge Register states he was “D. Palestine 1918”, possibly standing for Dean. His World War One medal card gives his rank as Honorary Chaplain to the Forces, with Crockford’s Directory stating he was awarded that title in 1919, when he left the Army Chaplaincy Department.

His first post-war role was as vicar of Germiston, Transvaal, South Africa (1920-24), succeding Fr Biggart, CR. He then returned to Britain and Cheshire to become rector of Outrington (1924-30), during which time he was also Procurator of the Convocation of Chester (1929-30). Next he was vicar of St Mark’s, Noel Park, Wood Green (1930-39), where he had served one of his curacies. His obituary stated that his incumbency there was “ the principal work of his life” and that compared to his time there as a curate “the church had much changed and a Protestant section of the parish was in opposition. By steady and patient hard work he gradually built up a loyal congregation, who became deeply attached and devoted to their vicar.”.

His final roles were as vicar of Holy Trinity, Reading (1939-46) and Holy Trinity, Ryde, Isle of Wight (1946-50), resigning the latter only a few months before his death. He was buried on 7th August 1950 at Bistre, Flintshire, probably at Emmanuel Parish Church and probably with his parents, who were also registered as being buried there. His Church Times obituary of 11th August 1950 stated he “belonged to a generation of older Catholic priests who did yeoman service for the Church. [and] … was known as a wise confessor, and other priests were accustomed to send penitents to him.”

Rev R D Marshall

Mar 1917
Rev R D Marshall to leave after Easter, “in accordance with the Bishop’s request that no Parish shall have more than two Priests, unless the third Priest is doing some kind of National Service work.”

Thomas Ronald Godfray
born 1891, St Helier, Jersey – probably between 1930 and 1940; or possibly in Wayland district, Norfolk, 1955
St Michael’s, 1919

The son of a commercial traveller, he was living with his parents, three younger siblings and a servant at Bon-Air Pontac Jersey, St Clement, Jersey in 1911. In that year’s census he gave his occupation as ‘Clerical Student’, shorthand for his time as a Classics Exhibitor at Jesus College, Oxford, from which he graduated BA (3rd class Cl Mod and 2nd class Theology) in 1913, the same year as he attended St Stephen’s House. He was made a deacon in 1914 by the bishop of Willesden and a priest the following year by the bishop of London. His first curacies were at St Thomas the Apostle, Acton Vale (1914-16), St Michael and All Angels, Bromley (1916-17) and Holy Trinity Hoxton (1917-24). During the third of these he also assisted at St Michael’s Camden Town from July until August or September 1919. He gained his Oxford MA in 1922.

He was then given Permission to Officiate at St Agnes and St Martin, Scilly Isles (1928-29) before becoming vicar of Millbrook in Truro diocese from 1929 to at least 1930.

Edmund Ronald James Henry
1905, Swansea –
St Michael’s, 1930-33

He was the son of Edmund Daniel Henry (1876, Llanelly, Carmarthenshire – 18 December 1946) and his wife Sophia Jane Jones, who had married in Lampeter district in mid 1904. Edmund Daniel was also a priest – his 1947 entry in Crockfords Clerical Directory states he gained a Licentiate in Divinity at St David’s College, Lampeter and was made deacon in 1900, then ordained priest the following year, both in St David’s diocese. Edmund Daniel’s first curacies were all in Swansea, namely at Kilvey (1900-02), St Mark’s (1902-04) and St Mary’s (1904-12). He then became vicar of Llandyssul with Capel Dewi (1912-15), before serving at Holy Trinity, Swansea (1915-36) and as rector of Ilston with Pennard (1936-44). In 1947 he was living at 21 Goitre Fach Road, Killay, Swansea, probably after his retirement. He was buried at St Mary’s, Pennard

Edmund Ronald was baptised at St James’s, Swansea on 26th June 1905, during his father’s third curacy. In 1911 he, his parents and one servant were living at Jork House, Constitution Hill, Swansea. Edmund Ronald graduated from Keble College, Oxford in 1924 and St Stephen’s House in 1925. He was made a deacon in 1928 by the bishop of Oxford and ordained priest the following year by the bishop of Buckingham. His first curacy was at Clewer St Andrew’s in Oxford diocese (1928-30) and his second was at St Michael’s Camden Town (November 1930-February 1933). He next remained in London at St Saviour’s, Pimlico (1933-37) and St Silas, Kentish Town (1937-38), before shifting to the Church of the Annunciation in Brighton (1938-42). He returned to Wales in 1942 to become Curate-in-charge of St Thomas, Overmonnow, Diocese of Monmouth, where he remained until at least 1947.

Clement Geoffrey Whitaker
1876, Holcombe, Somerset –
St Michae’s, 1933

Originally a scientist, he graduated BA (2nd class Natural Sciences) from Keble College, Oxford in 1900, the same year as he attended St Stephen’s House. He was made a deacon in 1901 and ordained priest the following year, both by the bishop of Oxford. His first curacy was in the Oxfordshire village of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell (1901-03) before becoming Assistant Curate at Holy Trinity Church in Bath (1903-12). During the latter post he married Margaret Patience M Daniel in 1910 in the Frome district of Somerset – they were living at 25 Charles Street in Bath in 1911.

He then moved to St Gabriel’s, Birmingham (1912-14) then Odd Rode in Cheshire (1914-22). Two service records seem to survive for his time as a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps from 1915 to 1919, though his entry in Crockford’s Clerical Directory does not seem to show this gap in his clerical posts.

He was next at St Andrew’s Wolverhampton (1923-24) before becoming rector of Coppenhall or Crewe (1924-26). He then moved to South Africa to serve at St Augustine’s, Kimberley (1927-28) and as chaplain of the Community of St Michael and All Angels, Bloemfontein (1928-32). He gained his Oxford MA in 1931. He returned to Britain to become curate of St Mary’s, Tyndall’s Park in Bristol (1933-34), though during that role he also assisted at St Michael’s Camden Town (February to September 1933).

He then became Rector of Butcombe in Somerset (1937-42) before being curate of St Martin’s, Knowle, Bristol (1942-44). He next moved to Holy Trinity, Taunton, Somerset (1944-45). His final parish was as rector of Tickencote in the East Midlands (1945-47). He returned to St Mary’s, Tyndall’s Park in 1947, when he was given Permission to Officiate there – he gave his address that year as Tyndall’s Park Road – and it lasted until at least 1955. He seems to have died between 1955 and 1965.

Basil Thomas Bean
1915, Greenwich district – 1987, Worthing district, Sussex
St Michael’s, 1939-45

He was the son of Harry Edmond Bean (19 December 1881, Clapham – 1971, Chichester district) and Martha Goodley (1882, Edinburgh – 1958, Chichester district), who had married in the Camberwell district in 1908. Harry had been living with his parents on Wellington Road in Lambeth in 1891 and at 27 Talfourd Place, Camberwell in 1901 – they were Ann Elizabeth Twaits (1864, King’s Lynn, Norfolk) and her husband Edmund Evison Bean (1861, Faversham or Canterbury, Kent – 1921, Lewisham district), who had married in King’s Lynn district in 1881 (another part of the Bean family seems to have come from Norfolk). Edmund worked on the trams, in 1891 as a conductor and in 1901 and 1911 as a ticket inspector. In 1911 Ann and Edmund were living alone at 105 Ringstead Road, Catford – they had had 11 children born alive by that point, of which 2 had died.

Martha’s parents were Thomas Goodley (1850, Gateshead, Northumberland – 1917, Epsom district, Surrey) and his wife Isabella (1857, Glasgow), who had married in 1875. They show up in Edinburgh in the 1881 census and had their first four children there before moving to East Dulwich between 1884 and 1887. In 1891 and 1901 Martha was living at 38 Muschamp Road, Camberwell with them and her five siblings. Thomas was a “Hatter Shaper” (1881), silk hatter (1891), “Hatter (Journeyman Shaper)” (1901) or “Journeyman Silk Hatter” (1911). Martha’s elder sister gave her occupation as “Mother’s Carer” in 1891, but in 1901 both she and Martha were “School Board Pupil Teacher[s]”. By 1901 Martha had eight siblings. In 1911 Martha’s parents were living at 13 Edith Road, Peckham with five of their children.

In 1911 Harry and Martha were living at 14 Waller Road, New Cross and both working as elementary school teachers for London County Council. In 1916 his parents were living at 60 Headcorn Road, Thornton Heath. His father served from 10th February 1916 to 1919 as a Second Corporal with the London Electrical Engineers, a unit of the Royal Engineers.

Basil had one elder brother Alan E Bean (1913, Greenwich district). Basil graduated BA from Christ’s College Cambridge in 1936 (1st Class History Trip pt I and Hist Scho) and 1937 (2nd cl Hist Trip pt ii). He attended Ely Theological College from 1937 to 1938 (the September 1938 magazine stated he was still there “finishing his training for the ministry”) and was deaconed by the Bishop of London on 18th December 1938. He came straight to St Michael’s, where he remained until 20th May 1945. He was priested by the Bishop of London in 1939. He was presented with a testimonial on 13th May 1945 and left seven days later. In his letter of thanks (June 1945 parish magazine) he stated he was “buying a red stole, to be a constant and fitting reminder, in his future work as a priest, of his friends at St Michael’s”. After leaving he went to “take up his training for work amongst the Deaf and Dumb”, which took the form of being chaplain to schools for the Royal Association for the Deaf and Dumb (1945-55). Late in 1951 he married Freda Bass in Cambridge district – they do not seem to have had any children.

During the same period he was given permission to Officiate by the Diocese of London (1953-55) whilst serving as a Public Priest in the Diocese of Southwark (1953-55). His next post was as Chaplain and Superintendent Sussex Diocesan Association for the Deaf and Dumb whilst living in Worthing (1955-80). He seems to have moved his parents down to live close by, judging by where their deaths were registered. In 1980 Basil retired and was given Permission to Officiate in Chichester Diocese. In 1985 he was living in Pulborough.

John Hampden Thompson
1876, St Petersburg, Russia – 25th February 1946, St Luke’s Hospital, after a short illness
St Michael’s, 1939

He was born in St Petersburg whilst his father Arthur Steinkopff Thompson (27th December 1835, Bloomsbury – 27th April 1919, White Cottage, Shanklin, Isle of Wight) was chaplain to the British Embassy there (1864-1877). The son of the famous physician Theophilus Thompson, Arthur had been baptised at St George’s, Bloomsbury on 29th February 1836 and attended Wadham Collge, Oxford, graduating BA 3rd class in Law and Modern History in 1858. He was deaconed in 1859 and priested the following year, both by the Bishop of London. In 1861 he gained his Oxford MA. His first curacy was at St Marylebone (1859-63), followed by his time in St Petersburg. In 1869 he became a Bachelor of Divinity and on 15 June 1875 he married Ellen Jameson in the Wandsworth district of London. He was next Minister of St John the Evangelist in Littlehampton (1877-79), vicar of Arundel (1879-87), vicar of Baulking with Woolstone, Berkshire (1890-92), curate of Little Marlow (1887-90) and vicar of the same parish (1892-1905). In the census of 1911 Arthur was a widower living alone in the vicarage at Claydon, Oxfordshire and in the 1917 Crockfords he was living in retirement at St Edmund’s Lodge, Haslemere. He was also an author, producing “Semons preached abroad to English Worshippers” (1875).

John Hampden Thompson graduated from Trinity College Oxford BA (3rd class Modern History) in 1898, the same year as he attended Cuddesdon College. He was made a deacon in 1898 by the Bishop of London and sent straight to St Michael’s (1898-1902). During his time there he was priested in 1900 by the Bishop of Stepney and gained his Oxford MA in 1902. In 1901 he was living with his widowed aunt Constance Mary Cholmeley (1842, St George’s, Bloomsbury-1924, St Pancras) at 35 Lyme Street, St Pancras, as a “Clergyman – Established Church” – she was “Living on Own Means”.

John’s next curacies were at Christ Church Clapham (1902-08), St Saviour’s, Hoxton (1909-10) and St Barnabas, Hove (1910-13). In 1911 he was still living with Constance, now at 113 Sackville Road, Hove. His final curacy was at St Mary Magdalene, Paddington (1913-17). He then became Vicar of St Mary’s Somers Town (1917-29) and chaplain at Amalfi, Italy (1929-30 Rector of Ashington with South Fambridge (1931-39). He moved to a house close to St Michael’s in November 1939 and the December 1939 parish magazine reported he was “helping with some of the weekday Masses and also has promised to come and help us at the Christmas Festival”. In 1940 Crockfords gave his address as St Edmund’s Lodge, Haslemere, Surrey, so he seems either to have moved back out of town (perhaps due to the Blitz) or to have had a London and a country residence. His funeral was at St Mary’s Somers Town.

John came from a highly clerical family – not only his father, but also his aunt Constance’s husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law were all clergyman. Constance’s husband Robert Cholmeley (1819, Croft, Lincolnshire-1880, Thakeham district, Sussex) had been a clergyman – he was a graduate of Wadham College, Corpus Christi College and Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating BA in 1840. He was made a deacon in 1841 by the Bishop of Oxford and gained his Oxford MA in 1843. From 1843 to 1858 he was a Fellow of Magdalen College. He then graduated Bachelor of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity in 1858, the same year as he was priested by the Bishop of Oxford. From 1854 to 1855 he was Senior Proctor.

In 1860 Robert became Vicar of Findon, West Sussex and in 1871 he and Constance were living in the Vicarage there with his two younger sisters, his niece and three servants at the Vicarage in Findon, West Sussex. She was a widow by 1881, when she was a visitor in the household of Charles Humphrey Cholmeley (1829, Lincolnshire – 1895, Amersham, Buckinghamshire), the Vicar of Dinton and Teffont Magna, who seems to have been a younger brother of her late husband. In the 1841 census Charles Humphrey seems to be still living with their father Robert Cholmeley (1781, Lincolnshire) in Wainfleet St Mary, Lincolnshire, yet another clergyman, but Robert was not.

Charles Humphrey was a Fellow of Magdalen College Oxford, having graduated BA in 1851 and MA in 1853, been deaconed in 1857 and priested the following year, both by the Bishop of Oxford. In 1882 he became prebendary of Bedminster and Redcliffe in Salisbury Cathedral and in 1885 rector of Beaconsfield in Oxford Diocese. He was then perpetual curate of Horspath, Oxfordshire (1858-59), rector of Sherborne St John, Hampshire (1864-1865), Senior Proctor in the Oxford Diocese (1868-69) and Vicar of Dinton with Teffont Magna,Wiltshire (1868-85).

In 1891 Constance was at 1 Girdlers Road, Hammersmith as the sister of the head of household, which also included a Constance M Thompson (1877, Clapham Park), given as the daughter of the head of the household. The head of the household was absent, but judging by the 1901 census he was John Hampden Thompson’s father Arthur Steinkopff Thompson.

B R Davies
St Michael’s 1937-8

He spent 18 months at St Michael’s, where he held his last mass on 25th January 1938. The parish magazine in February 1938 stated “the state of his health was such that it was felt to be imperative that he should seek work in a less strenuous parish. This decision was only reached after much consideration and consultation with the doctor, who had specialist’s opinion, and finally with the Bishop of Willesden… We wish him every blessing in his work in his new parish.”

R R Somervell
St Michael’s, January to August 1939

G F Heslop
The August 1938 magazine reported he “has been suffering these last few weeks from the results of a bad accident, when he fell and fractured his ankle badly. He is at present away in the country, but we hope to see him about during August, although the leg will still be in plaster. By September, however, we hope that he will have recovered the proper use of his ankle and will be able to “carry on” as usual.”

Francis Bale
The March 1938 parish magazine announced he would be coming from St Mary and All Angels Potter’s Bar on Low Sunday and that he had “worked mainly at St Faith’s, Stepney, where he received his title and which place he left in order to get married”. However, the following month it was announced he would not be coming to St Michael’s “as he had found it impossible to secure the accommodation which he required”