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.