FRANCIS WILFRID OSBORN
1903 – 1927

Fr-Osborn

Keble College, Oxford (3rd Lit. Hum.)

1884 – 1886 Cuddesdon Theological College

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

1927 – 1929 Hon. Chaplain to Edward Reid Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway

1929 – 1938 Vicar-Warden of St Leonard’s Church and Beauchamp Almshouses, Newland, Worcestershire

On his father’s side Francis was descended from Peter Osborn, treasurer’s remembrancer of the Exchequer and Keeper of the Privy Purse under Edward VI and High Commissioner for Ecclesiastic Affairs under Edward’s half-sister Elizabeth I. Peter had bought the family seat of Chicksands Priory in Bedfordshire in 1576. At Francis’ birth it was held by his paternal uncle Sir George Osborn (29th October 1813 – 11th January 1892), 6th Baronet, who was a Lieutenant in the 85th Regiment of Foot (1832-1835) and a Justice of the Peace. The family also owned the advowson of Campton and the manor of Hawnes Grange in Haynes, all in Bedfordshire, thus making them patrons of the livings in Campton and Haynes. Campton and Haynes were both held in the late 19th century by two of the 6th Baronet’s sons, the former by George Montagu Osborn (1846-1902) and the latter by Arthur Edward Danvers Osborn (1850-1888)1.

Francis was a family name – the first Francis Osborne (1593-1659) had been a noted author and essayist2. Francis Wilfrid’s father Montagu Francis Finch Osborn (1824, Marylebone – 14th December 1895, The Vicarage, Embleton, Northumberland) was Rector of Kibworth, Leicestershire in the 1861, 1871 and 1881 censuses. There he met Catherine Barbara Marriott (1832, Kibworth – 1907, The Vicarage, Embleton), whom he married at Holy Trinity Brompton in Kensington on 5th June 1861. Catherine Barbara’s parents were the surgeon John Marriott (1793, Kibworth – 1880, Kibworth) and his wife Georgiana Boulton (1796, Oxendon, Northamptonshire – 1884, Kibworth). This made her sister to the surgeon Sir Charles Hayes Marriott (1832-1910) and Richard Walker Marriott (1830 – 18th December 1910), vicar of Aldborough, North Yorkshire for twenty-four years and rector of Shelton, Nottinghamshire for ten years3.

Francis Wilfrid was born to Montagu and Catherine on 22nd April 1862 and baptised on 29th May 1862, both at Kibworth Beauchamp in Leicestershire. Four more children arrived between 1862 and 1871, by which time the couple and all their children were living at 13 Church Road, Kibworth Beauchamp – also resident was a cousin of Francis and three servants. In 1881 Francis 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 and a BA (3rd class Literae Humaniores) in 1884. He attended Cuddesdon College from 1884 to 1886 and was made deacon by the Bishop of Worcester in 1886, then priest by the same bishop a year later. In the meantime Francis Wilfrid’s father Montagu had become Vicar of Embleton in Northumberland (1884-1895) and Honorary Canon of Newcastle Cathedral.

His first curacy was in Rugby (1886-89), followed by St Michael’s (1889-95). He also achieved his Oxford MA in 1892. He was presented to the family benefice of Haynes by his cousin Sir Algernon Osborn, 7th Baronet (1889-1976) in 1895 but does not seem to have taken it up4. Instead he went to be Vice Principal of the Theological College and Chaplain of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh (1895-97), Assistant Missioner at the Charterhouse Mission in Southwark Diocese (1897-98). He then became Vicar of St James the Less, Plymouth (1898-1903), whose patron was his old college, Keble.

On 18th January 1899 Francis married Helen Osborn Lamb (14th July 1866, Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland – 3rd April 1953, Fingask, Scotland). The wedding took place at St Mary’s Church, Broughty Ferry, a suburb of Dundee in Scotland. The service was taken by Canon Gough of Newcastle Cathedral and the Rev Dr Mackness5. She was the daughter of David Lamb (died 6th January 1895, New York) and his wife Mary Honiball (maiden name unknown; 1844, Scotland – 4th August 1890, Dawlish, Devon). They seem to be the Mary Buik and David Lamb who married in Dundee in 1856. David traded as part of the Robert and David Lamb Company (registered in New York and Dundee) until 1883 and is referred to in his death notices as a son of a “David Lamb of Brechin” – this may be a man of that named recorded elsewhere as based in Glasgow as “a gentleman in the American trade” around 17996 McGavin’, Glasgow Gazette, 17th August 1850, page 1].

David and Mary are recorded in immigration records as arriving in New York on 26th April 1881. Helen’s sister Edith died at Cold Spring, New York on 3rd August 1864, however, suggesting that David and Mary were in the United States long before 18817 Baptised in Dunkeld in 1866, Helen was living on Latch Road in Brechin, Forfarshire in 1891. There she was a visitor in the household of the linen manufacturer James H Lamb (1837, Angus, Forfarshire – 1904, The Latch, Brechin) and his wife Catherine (1839, Angus). Also resident were three servants, another visitor Dorothea Lamb (1876, Angus) and James’ six children. James may have been an uncle of Helen and Dorothea a sister, but neither of these hypotheses is yet proven. James’ death notice recorded him as “the third son of the late Mr David Lamb, one of the founders of the firm of Lamb & Scott, linen manufacturers”8. The first mention of the firm dates to 1853. The youngest son of the firm-founding David Lamb was George Scott Lamb (1843-1933), who lived in Broughty Ferry9 One of George’s brothers was Dr Martin Brydon Lamb HETLS.

In the 1901 census Francis and Helen were living at 4 Lansdowne Place, Plymouth with a cook and a housemaid. Next Francis returned to St Michael’s, now as its vicar (1903-1927). At the Feast of the Annunciation in 1909 he presided and preached at the annual service of the Embleton parish branch of the Mother’s Union, which had been founded by his mother. At the same service a stained glass window was installed in the south aisle of Embleton Parish Church, commissioned from Kempe and Co. in memory of Barbara by Francis and his four siblings10. 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 retired to Essex. In the 1939 Register just after the outbreak of war and in the 1940 edition of Crockfords he and his wife were living at Honington House, Matching Green, Harlow, Essex. They were bombed out of that house by a land-mine explosion during the Second World War and later moved to Fingask, Errol, halfway between Dundee and Perth in Scotland. He died at Fernbrae Nursing Home on Park Road in Dundee on 30th September 195111. His widow died two years later at Fingask – her funeral was held at All Saints Church, Glencarse four days after her death12 She is buried at the Western Cemetery in Dundee.

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  1. ‘The Osborn Family’, Bedfordshire Archives
  2. ‘Death of Sir George Osborn, Bart.’, Bedfordshire Times and Independent, 16th January 1892, page 8
  3. ‘Strange Clause in a Will’, Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, 4th March 1910, page 8; details his bequest of £1000 each to Barbara and Sir Charles, out of his total estate of £17860; also mentions his insistence in his will that “none of his property had been derived from the Church, whose earnest but unworthy minister he had been for so many years, but that all of it had come from his near relatives”.
  4. ‘Haynes’, Bedfordshire Mercury, 9th February 1895, page 7
  5. ‘Marriages’, Dundee Courier, 19th January 1899
  6. ‘Walks in the Necropolis – Sigma Continued – Biographical Sketch of Mr [William
  7. ‘Deaths’, Dundee Courier, 23rd August 1864, page 4
  8. ‘Death of a Brechin Manufacturer – Mr James H Lamb – A Notable Career’, Dundee Evening Telegraph, 10th May 1904, page 5
  9. ‘Handsome Bequest to Brechin Infirmary – Native’s Tribute to Parents’ Memory’, Brechin Advertiser, 16th May 1933, page 5
  10. ‘Embleton Parish Church’, Morpeth Herald, 3rd April 1909, page 3
  11. ‘Retired Vicar Dies in Dundee’, Dundee Courier, 2nd October 1951, page 3
  12. ‘Deaths’, Dundee Courier, 6th April 1953, page 8