FRANCIS WILFRID OSBORN
1903 – 1927
Keble College, Oxford (3rd Lit. Hum.)
Ordained deacon: 1886
Ordained Priest: 1887
1886 – 1889 Curate, Rugby
1889 – 1895 Curate, S. Michael, Camden
1895 – 1897 Vice Principal and Chaplain, S. Michael’s Theological College, Edinburgh
1897 – 1898 Assistant Missioner, Charterhouse Mission, Southwark
1898 – 1903 Vicar, S. James the Less, Plymouth
1903 – 1927 Vicar, S. Michael, Camden
1929 – 1938 Vicar-Warden of St Leonard’s Church and Beauchamp Almshouses, Newland, Worcestershire
He was the son of Montague Francis Finch Osborn (1824, Marylebone) and Catherine Barbara Marriott (1832, Leicestershire), who had married in Kensington district in 1861. His father was Rector of Kibworth in the 1861, 1871 and 1881 censuses. In 1871 Francis was living at 13 Church Road, Kibworth Beauchamp, Market Harborough with his parents, his four younger siblings, a cousin and three servants. In 1881 he was living at the Rectory in Kibworth with his parents, two siblings, a visitor and two servants and gave his occupation as “Undergraduate (Oxford)”. He was an exhibitor at Keble College, achieving 2nd class Mods in 1882, a BA (3rd class Literae Humaniores) in 1884. He attended Cuddesdon College in 1885 and was made deacon by the Bishop of Worcester in 1886, then priest by the same bishop a year later.
His first curacy was in Rugby (1886-89), followed by St Michael’s (1889-95). He also achieved his Oxford MA in 1892. His next role was as Vice Principal of the Theological College and Chaplain of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh (1895-97) and Assistant Missioner at the Charterhouse Mission in Southwark Diocese (1897-98). In 1899 he married Helen (1867, Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland), possibly in Scotland, since they do not show up in the England and Wales marriage registrations. Just before this he became Vicar of St James the Less, Plymouth (1898-1903), whose patron was his old college, Keble. In the 1901 census he and his wife were living at 4 Lansdowne Place, Plymouth with a cook and a housemaid.
Next he returned to St Michael’s, now as its vicar (1903-1927). In 1911 he was living at 10 Gloucester Crescent with his wife and two servants. They did not have any children in 1911 and it appears they had not had any prior to his departure from St Michael’s. On 12th July 1923 the parish held a celebration of his 25 years with them, at which Canon Hunter (the first assistant priest of the parish in 1877), Fr Keelan and Fr Kett were all on the platform. Keelan wrote an account of it, published in the magazine
“A blazing afternoon during the heat-wave in grey old Camden Town, saw a gathering of the clans from far and near … The heat was terrific, but the enthusiasm surpassed it, and the thunder of applause which greeted the Vicar’s appearance must of made him think that the notorious storm of July 10th was repeating itself, but no doubt he found the electrical disturbance less of an ordeal than the outburst of affection from S Michael’s people and the words of the Bishop of London. Sincere and manly and with all his ineluctable charm, the Bishop in his speech, said all the kind things he could think of [before he] … handed him a book in which the names of the subscribers had been beautifully inscribed, and, keeping itself warm between the pages, a nice fat cheque with the order to spend the money on himself. It was not an unpleasing thing to hear the Vicar being ordered about for once! Mrs Osborn also received a charming bouquet and made a charming little reply. Then came a speech from the Vicar, who was obviously moved and touched. … The whole occasion was just a big family party, full of human feeling and human affection; yet one did not have to strain to hear the under-song, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name give the praise.”
The November 1926 parish magazine carried Osborn’s resignation letter, which explained that he had not wished to ruin Michaelmas that year by announcing it any earlier. It also stated “For a long time past I have been feeling that the strain of keeping up the standard of work as it should be kept up was proving too much for me, and I am sure that in the best interest of the parish it is time for me now to make way for a younger priest.” All but one and a half of his thirty years in the London diocese had been at St Michael’s. In January 1927 a farewell letter from Fr Osborn appeared in the magazine, whilst the following month’s issue stated his wife had been given a handbag as a parting gift.
His later roles were as Honorary Chaplain to Bishop of Glasgow (1921-29) and as Vicar of Newland and Vicar-Warden of Beauchamp Almshouses in Worcester Diocese (1929-38) – at the latter he is mainly remembered for his lack of enthusiasm for plainsong and the choir school, where he stopped the choristers’ annual Christmas tea, filled in their swimming pool and enforced strict discipline. He left the post in 1938 and the 1940 edition of Crockfords states his address was Matching Green, Harlow, Essex.