On my way to the CCS regional meeting in the UK in 2004 I called in at the village of Clavering in north Essex to see the tablet in memory of Mary Wales [see Cook’s Log, page 1362, vol. 20, no. 1 (1997)]. Mary was the wife of William Wales, the astronomer on the Second Voyage [see Cook’s Log, page 27, vol. 27, no. 1 (2004)].
Clavering is a pretty village with a lovely church tucked down a side street. Inside, on a wall, is a pair of plaques, the right-hand one being to Mary. But why is it here?
According to the 1855 edition of the Post Office Directory of Essex, "Clavering is a village and parish which was known in the reign of King Edward the Confessor, and is in Saffron Walden Union, Clavering Hundred, North Essex, 4 miles south-west of Newport station, 7 south-west of Saffron Walden, 8 north of Bishop’s Stortford station, and 40 from London, near the head of the river Stort…. The church of St. Clement has a tower with 5 bells. The living is a vicarage… in the gift of the Governors of Christ’s Hospital, the Rev. G.J. Brookes is incumbent."
The 1874 edition of the Post Office Directory of Essex, "the interior of the church has been restored and re-seated with open benches: the chancel was restored by the patrons, the Governor’s of Christ’s Hospital, an d the body of the church at the expense of the lady of the manor and the inhabitants of Clavering… The living is a vicarage… in the gift of the Governors of Christ’s Hospital, and held by the Rev. Thomas William Henry Gurney, M.A., of St. John’s College, Cambridge, formerly a master of Christ’s Hospital, London".
Alongside the plaque to Mary Wales is one to Revd. Lancelot Pepys Stephens, "late vicar of this parish and for many years one of the classical masters of Christs Hospital who died January 7th 1834".
Christ’s Hospital was originally in Newgate Street, London, moving to Horsham, Sussex, in 1902. It also had premises in Hertfordshire.
William Wales’ will of 1798 [see Cook’s Log, page 1851, vol. 24, no. 3 (2001)] begins "I WILLIAM WALES of the Parish of Christ Church Newgate Street and Master of the Mathematical School in Christs Hospital being of sound mind memory and understanding". He had been appointed soon after his return from the Second Voyage.
Did Mary move to Clavering after her husband’s death? If so, why? The two plaques are in the same style. Were they erected together? By whom? Why? When?
The inscription on the plaque reads:
Relict of William Wales Esq. FRS
Astronomer with Capt. Cook
In his Second Voyage round the World
Secretary to the Hon. Board of Longitude
And later master of
The Royal Mathematical School
Died 29th Jany. 1827
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 13, volume 29, number 1 (2006).
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