Agnes Madeline Dickins [sic] Scott
(20 August 1852 – 2 March 1935, 87 Burdett Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex)

Agnes was from a long-standing clerical and gentry family descended from John Scott, a grazier from Bratoft near Skegness in Lincolnshire. He had thirteen children, the tenth of which was Thomas (1747-1821). Thomas’ mother taught him to read and then sent him to a school in Scorton, north Yorkshire, 150 miles away. After an abortive apprenticeship with a surgeon he worked for his father as a labourer for ten years until taking orders in the Church of England. He did so as a career priest, but via a correspondence and friendship with John Newton (author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”) soon became a convinced Evangelical.

Thomas’ three sons also took holy orders – John (1777-1834) became vicar of St Mary’s Hull, Thomas junior (1780-1834) rector of Wappenham in Northamptonshire and Benjamin (1780-1830) vicar of Bidford and Priors Salford in Warwickshire. Benjamin studied at Queen’s College Cambridge and then served a curacy at St Mary’s Chapel, Whittall Street, Birmingham under Edward Burn, a noted Evangelical preacher. He then remained in the Midlands most of his life, moving to Redditch in Worcestershire before twelve years as a curate in Great Harborough, Warwickshire. In 1811 he married Anne Bartlett in Buckingham.

Benjamin was recommended to the vicarages of Bidford and Prior’s Salford, Warwickshire in 1828 by Lady Harriett Skipwith, wife of Sir Grey Skipwith of Newbold Pacey Hall, which was sited in the adjoining parish to Great Harborough. Later that year Benjamin’s wife died soon after giving birth to their seventh child. He quickly remarried but died in 1830 at Llandegley in central Wales en route to a seaside holiday for his health. Benjamin was buried there and his children seem to have been taken under the protection of his elder brother Thomas junior, who organised a volume of Benjamin’s sermons as a fundraiser.

In the words of Thomas junior’s obituary sermon for Benjamin, three of his children by Ann were “subjects of hopeless mental imbecility”1. Another of them was William Henry Scott (1818, Buckingham or Great Harborough-1882, Aylsham), baptised at Great Harborough on 7 April 1818. However, in all but the 1851 census his birthplace was given as Buckingham, meaning he might have been born in his mother’s original home there. He was sent to Ockbrook School in Derbyshire, which had been set up in 1799 by the Moravian Church, with whom Methodists and Evangelical Anglicans had sympathies2.

In 1840 William Henry married Helen, Dorothy Helen or Eleanor Panton (1815-1907) in the Chelmsford district of Essex – he had just become junior solicitor to William Repton, a solicitor in Aylsham, Norfolk and fourth son of the garden designer Humphry Repton (1752-1818). The couple seem to have moved straight to Aylsham, as their first child Helen Fanny Dorothy was born there in 1841. Dorothy was the name of William Repton’s father’s sister, who was the wife of John Adey – the childless couple had treated William as a son and made him a partner in Adey’s legal firm around 1804. Henry IV’s father John of Gaunt had become lord of the manor of Aylsham in 1372, making it the central town of the Duchy of Lancaster. It still retained that role in the 19th century, making it one of Norfolk’s legal hubs3.

Two local historians in Aylsham theorise that William Henry Scott’s wife Helen was the unmarried William Repton’s illegitimate child, baptised in Great Yarmouth on 12th January 1815, with William faking his profession as sailor and the mother Eleanor Panton (born 1788) falsely stating she was married to him. That same Eleanor (this time giving her name as Ellen) married James Abbs on 29th May the same year in her birthplace of Marsham, north Norfolk, where they also settled. William Henry Scott later referred to his wife travelling to Marsham in 1856 “to meet her mother” and they made frequent trips to Springfield and Cromer, home and summer home of William Repton’s unmarried sister Elizabeth (also known as Dorothy) from 1827 onwards. Elizabeth may have brought up Helen – William Repton paid the rent on the house at Springfield from 1856 onwards and Elizabeth made Helen her residuary legatee in her will. Helen also switched her birthplace from Great Yarmouth to Aylsham in the 1901 census, perhaps indicating she was born out of wedlock in Aylsham and taken away to Great Yarmouth for a quiet christening4.

William’s brothers John Adey Repton (1775-1860) and George Stanley Repton (1786-1858) were both originally assistants in the architectural studio of John Nash alongside the Gothic Revivalist Auguste Pugin (1762-1832). It was Auguste’s son Augustus (1812-1852) who inspired George Gilbert Scott (1811-1878) to join the Gothic Revival – George Gilbert later designed the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras. George Gilbert was the son of Thomas Scott junior, William Henry Scott’s uncle and guardian. This tangled web of social connections in the legal, architectural and gentry worlds may have combined with William Henry’s engagement to Helen to get him his role in William Repton’s legal firm.

In April 1843 William Henry was taken into partnership in the firm. This involved taking on the roles of Clerk of the Navigation and Clerk of the Turnpike, both of which included fees. He was also granted a salary and a share of the firm’s profits – initially one-third and from 1848 one-half. He and Helen had at least five more children – Dorothy Mary (1845-1904), William Henry Repton (late 1846-1872), Benjamin Charles George (1847), Mabel Neville (1851) and Agnes, the future nun. In the 1851 census William Henry gave his occupation as attorney and solicitor. He and Dorothy were then living with their children and five servants at The Orchards, a Repton property on Norwich Road, Aylsham – William Repton cancelled William Henry’s rent arrears on it in 1854.

Agnes was baptised on 29th September 1852, less than two months after her birth. Her parents were clearly fans of John Keats – Madeline is the name of the heroine of his 1819 poem ‘The Eve of St Agnes’. Adding a surname as a middle name was common practice at the time – Dickins was the surname of another local family which had business and legal dealings with the Reptons and Scotts. 5 By November 1855 William Henry was earning £300 a year from the firm and £250 a year from other duties. Even so he was considering emigrating with his wife and family in June the following year due to his fears that (in the words of William Repton’s diary) “the position his children have will always be a drawback to them when they learn the state of the case”, perhaps referring to their reaching an age at which he would have to tell them about their mother’s illegitimacy. Possibly won round by William Repton’s revelation that he intended to leave him his property and business, William Henry decided not to go and his income from outside the business had risen to £349 by December 1856, not including his interests in a local slate quarry.

William Repton died in 1858 and as promised William Henry Scott inherited his business and property. On 27 June 1860 in Aylsham his eldest daughter Helen Fanny Dorothy married William Pares (22 March 1837, Ulverscroft, Leicestershire – 9 January 1870, near Corwen, north Wales6) – he was the third son of a longstanding gentry family, which wielded major influence in local politics thanks to its longstanding and heavy involvement in law, banking and hosiery manufacture7 – it might have been through legal circles that William Pares met his future wife’s family. William was probably named after the Rev. William Pares (1759-1809), younger brother of his grandfather John Pares – this earlier William Pares had been Rector of Narborough, Leicestershire and Vicar of Selston, Nottinghamshire. 89

Helen Fanny’s future husband William Pares attended Harrow but spent only four terms at Christ’s College Cambridge. On census night, 7 April 1861, he simply gave his occupation as “Gentleman” – he and his wife were then living on Church Lane in Desford, about eight miles west of Leicester. Helen Fanny’s parents were also living with them on census night, but William Henry Scott was still working as a solicitor and so it was probably a flying visit, either to help set up their marital home or to congratulate Helen Fanny on the conception of her first child, which probably occurred around March 1861. That child was born in Desford on 25 December 1861 and named William Henry after his maternal grandfather10. He later went on to marry Heard in Rapid City, Manitoba, Canada on 17 November 1887 11

On census night in 1861, by contrast, William Henry Scott’s second daughter Dorothy Mary was still at home at The Orchards in Aylsham caring for her siblings Benjamin, Mabel and Agnes Madeline, assisted by a cook and two servants. All four siblings still gave their occupation as ‘Scholar’. Sometime between December 1861 and 1863 William Pares and his family moved to Hopwell Hall in Ockbrook, five miles east of Derby, one of the Pares family seats since 1786 and held by William Pares’ father Thomas and then his elder brother Thomas Henry. They had twins there on 11 March 1863, Reginald Edward and Thomas Alfred Berkam12, though Reginald died early the following year. They were followed by Helen Madeline (29 August 1864 13), Gertrude (1866), Arthur (1868) and Agnes Hester (10 July 187014). It is notable that two of these children were named after Helen Fanny’s sister Agnes Madeline.

On 12 June 1868 two Brougham carriages, a dog-cart, three hunting saddles and various pieces of horse harness and clothing were auctioned off in Derby on behalf of “William Pares, Esq. (who is changing his residence)”15. In reports of William’s sudden death in January 1870 (less than two months after Agnes Hester’s conception), it was stated that he “had for some time past resided” near Corwen, deep in north Wales but with a train station. He may have left his wife and children behind at Hopwell Hall, to which his body was brought16. The widowed Helen Fanny became the head of the household, which by 1871 had moved to Courts Hill, Thursley, Surrey. The eighteen-year-old Agnes Madeline Scott was also living there on census night in 1871.

Agnes Madeline’s father William Henry Scott was acting as Registrar for the County Court of Norfolk from 1862 and became clerk to the Guardians of the Aylsham Union in 1874. Around 1870 he and the family moved from The Orchards to Old Bank House, 3 Norwich Road, where he was living alone on census night 1871, possibly meaning he was rebuilding or redecorating – his wife and three of his children were instead at Ivy Cottage on Norfolk Road in Wroxham, eleven miles from Aylsham. He and his wife were still at Old Bank House in 1881 and he was still working as a solicitor. With them were their children Dorothy, Benjamin and Mabel – Benjamin was already one of the British Vice-Consuls in China but was stopping off with his parents on census night. William Henry Scott died a year later and was buried in the same plot as William Repton in Aylsham churchyard.

The Repton and Scott grave in Aylsham. (From Wikimedia Commons, used under a GNU Free Documentation License.)

Scott was remembered in Aylsham as ‘Lawyer Scott’, a sportsman, a keen gardener (the magnolia grandiflora outside Old Bank House in the village may have been planted by him) and captain of the 6th (Aylsham) Company of Volunteers, a part-time military unit raised in 1859 amidst fears of a French invasion. He was said to have cooked soup for the poor and to have been so fat that a chair had to be specially made for him – this survived at his firm’s offices until the late twentieth century17. However, not all the folk memory of him is reliable, since a history in 2000 erroneously stated he was Scottish and wore tartan trews18 – the second part could be true but at most this would only indicate that he had been swept up in the widespread Scotophilia popularised by Sir Walter Scott (no relation) and Queen Victoria. It might even be a garbled memory of his daughter Dorothy Mary, who was the head of a household on Shandwick Place in Edinburgh on census night in 1891. Living with her were her widowed mother Helen, a cook, a housemaid and a scullery maid. Dorothy Mary was then Superintendent of the Edinburgh School of Cookery and Domestic Economy, founded in 187519, now part of Queen Margaret University. By 1893 she was also Secretary of the city’s Medical College for Women, set up in 1889 20.

Detail from a photograph of the Aylsham Volunteers by Walter J Finch around 1872 – the rotund figure on the right may be William Henry Scott. (Norfolk Libraries, 00004047)

In 1871 Agnes Madeline gave no occupation in the census, presumably not yet having found her religious vocation. That vocation seems to have struck in the following decade, since in 1881 Agnes Madeline was living at 14 Teviot Street, Poplar with Ellen Hill (1856, Welshpool, Montgomeryshire, Wales). They both stated their occupation as “Sisters of Mercy” and the address also held four scholars aged between thirteen and sixteen. Just down the road at 12 Teviot Street was a household headed by another “Sister of Mercy”, Harriet Lloyd, dedicatee of our side-chapel altar. One visitor and two female servants were also resident with Lloyd. At one end of Teviot Street was another St Michael’s Church, formed as a new mission parish in 1861 and home to a string of mission priests such as George Reginald Preston Preston [sic]21 A Booth Notebook of 1897 noted “Alloa, Spey and Teviot Streets all respectable, Teviot Street being the best of them”, but nearby streets in the parish were classified on the Booth Map as “Poor”22.

By 1891 Lloyd, Hill and Agnes Madeline Scott had all moved to 183 King’s Road (now St Pancras Way). They formed a small community of nuns, with Lloyd at its head. Also resident at the same address were two “Paid Ladies” from Wiltshire, a cook from London and eight women between 11 and 16 all “Training For Domestic Service”. On her death in 1892, Harriet Lloyd made Agnes her executrix and left her most of her estate for the use of the “Community of the Saving Name” 23 By 1901, however, Agnes had moved back to care for her widowed mother, who was then going by the name Dorothy Helen Scott and “Living on Own Means” on Cromer Road in Aylsham. However, Agnes still gave her occupation as “Sister of Mercy” and they had one live-in servant, Edith S Brown (1880, Kentish Town), perhaps one of Agnes’ success stories from her time in north London. The 1923 History of St Michael’s records Mother Harriet and Sisters Agnes and Ellen as “among those who have gone to their rest to whom St Michael’s owes much” and that they all “did wonderful work in the early days”.

In 1903 the Anglo-Catholic church of St Alban the Martyr in Westcliff-on- Sea, Essex rented a house in the north of its parish as the basis for a mission church. Two years later, Agnes Madeline met most of the cost of purchasing a site at the junction of Salisbury Avenue and Cliff Avenue for an iron mission church to replace it, to be known as the Mission of the Sacred Name. She also donated an altar from a community of which she had previously been a member, perhaps that on King’s Road – it is now used at the high altar at St Alban the Martyr Church. She also agreed to the sale of the same site when it found itself sited outside the parish after a 1922 reorganisation, with the funds devoted to St Edward’s Hall and to the purchase of a house for the verger at 6 St John’s Road.24

Agnes Madeline cannot yet be found in the 1911 census, though she was probably living in Westcliff-on-Sea by that point. She was recorded in the 1923 History as “still living” and made her will in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex on 15 July 1929, setting up the Sister Harriet Frances Lloyd Trust. She amended the will on 31 August 1932 and it was proved on 10 March 1935 following her death. The Trust was administered by the PCC of St Alban the Martyr in the town but may have lapsed in 1978. The file containing it at the Essex Record Office also contains a contemporary copy of Lloyd’s will, made on 17th February 189125.

Agnes’ siblings seem to have been very tied up in the Diplomatic Service. On 19 July 1890 her sister Mary married Colin Mackenzie Ford (born Meerut, India), son of William Richard and Sarah Ford. He had been educated in the Gymnasium in Old Aberdeen and at Aberdeen University. He began as Student Interpreter in the Consular Service in Peking (1867-1869) and went on to be Assistant and Interpreter in Shanghai, Canton, Swatow, Kiungchow and Hankow (1869-1877), Acting Accountant to the Peking Legation (1877-1879), Acting British Consul at Chinkiang and Tamsui (1879-1880), Pakhoi (1880-1881) and Foochow (1886-1887), Vice Consul in charge of the Shipping Department at Shanghai (1883-1886), Vice Consul at Pagoda Anchorage, Foochow (1886-1887), Acting Consul-General at Seoul, Korea (1887-1888) and Consul at Wuhu (1888). After his marriage he lived in Wuhu from 1890 to 1893 and 1894 to 1896, serving as consul at Amoy (1893-1894). He was then appointed consul at Newchang but did not take it up as he was instead sent to officiate as consul at Swatow (1897-1899). He finally retired in 1899 due to ill health. He travelled widely, making several journeys through Japan, the USA, Canada and India, where he once reached Chamba in the north. He and his wife retired to Norwich.

Agnes’s brother Benjamin also became a diplomat and by 1911 was a “Pensioned Consul General”. He had been vice-consul in China (c. 1881) and Consul-General in Tientsin (1897-1899) as well as attending the diplomat Li Hongzhang on his visit to Britain in 1896. In 1911 he was living as head of household at 74 Madeley Road, Ealing with his wife Ada Elizabeth Tickell (1856, Mawlamyine/Moulmein, Burma), Ada’s widowed mother Maria Georgina (1827, Calcutta / Kolkata), his son Templer Henry Scott (1884, Shanghai – 1915, near St Jean, Ypres) and three servants (all from the Lawson family and all born in Sandy, Bedfordshire). He was buried at Hanwell Cemetery. His son Templer Henry Scott was at the RMC Sandhurst in 1901, a captain in the Indian Army in 1911 and was killed in action on 26 April 1915 as a Captain in the 87th Punjabis – he is buried nearby at Bedford House Cemetery.

  1. ‘Account of the Late Rev Benjamin Scott, M.A.’, from The Church Guardian, pages 425- 431
  2. William and Maggie Vaughan-Lewis, Aylsham: A Nest of Norfolk Lawyers (Itteringham History, 2014), pages 184-191
  3. William and Maggie Vaughan-Lewis, Aylsham: A Nest of Norfolk Lawyers (Itteringham History, 2014), pages 167-184
  4. William and Maggie Vaughan-Lewis, Aylsham: A Nest of Norfolk Lawyers (Itteringham History, 2014), pages 186-187
  5. William and Maggie Vaughan-Lewis, Aylsham: A Nest of Norfolk Lawyers (Itteringham History, 2014), pages 192-195
  6. Alumni Cantabrigenses, Volume 2, page 20
  7. Narborough Hall
  8. Edward Hale (at Eton College) to Thomas Henry Pares, giving report on his son’s drawing, 8 Apr no year (D5336/3/216/31)
  9. Pares of Leicester and Hopwell Hall
  10. Leicester Chronicle, 28th December 1861, page 5
  11. Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 22 November 1887, page 2
  12. Nottinghamshire Guardian, 20 March 1863, page 8
  13. Leicestershire Mercury, 3 September 1864, page 5
  14. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 14 July 1870, page 3
  15. Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, 6 June 1878, page 3
  16. Derby Mercury, 19 January 1870, page 5
  17. W F Starling, Memories of Aylsham, 2000, pages 100-101
  18. Ibid
  19. Edinburgh News
  20. Fantastic finds for International Women’s Day
  21. Vicar from 1904 to 1913; see his daughter’s autobiography – Eileen Baillie, The Shabby Paradise, 1959
  22. George H.Duckworth’s Notebook: Police Districts 11-13, 1897 (BOOTH/B/346), page 49
  23. Sally Mitchell, Frances Power Cobbe: Victorian Feminist, Journalist, Reformer, University of Virginia Press, 2004, pages 306 and 404
  24. St Alban’s Westcliff – Mission
  25. Wills of Lloyd and Scott