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An Essex Memorial - More Information


Ian Boreham asked several questions at the end of his article about the Memorial in Clavering Church, Essex to Mary, wife of William Wales, astronomer on Cook’s Second Voyage, and the plaque alongside to Rev Lancelot Pepys Stephens [see Cook’s Log, page 13, vol. 29, no. 1 (2006)].

William and Mary Wales had four sons and three daughters. The youngest daughter was Mary Judith Wales, who was baptized in 1778 at Christ Church, Newgate Street, London - the Church of Christs’ Hospital School. At this time William and Mary and the rest of the family were living within the precincts of Christs Hospital; the house went with William’s job as Mathematical master.

In 1812 Mary Judith Wales was married by licence to Lancelot Pepys Stephens at St Botolph’s Church, London. The ceremony was performed by Rev. A.W. Trollope, who was head of Christs’ Hospital School and husband of Mary Judith’s eldest sister Sarah. By this time William had died and she was of the parish of St John Hackney. Mary Judith’s three sons were all christened at St Botolph’s Church.

Lancelot Pepys Stephens was christened in 1766. He was the son of Mary West Stephens, who died in April 1768, and Lancelot Stephens (1736-1775), shopkeeper and combmaker of London. In his Will of 1775 he is described as a Coffee Man; he owned the Coffee House known as Tom’s. This then became the famous Grecian Coffee House, in Devereux Court off the Strand, in the parish of St Clement Danes. There is a plaque on the wall of the old Grecian, now the Devereux stating “the present buildings date from 1676 and were originally probably two houses. These soon became the famous "Grecian" Coffee House - one of two in Devereaux Court - the other being Toms”. The Grecian was the oldest coffee house in London. The joining of these two houses is also mentioned in Lancelot Stephen’s will.

After the death of his mother, L. P. Stephens was entered into Christs’ Hospital School, where he progressed to Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1784. Eventually, in 1796 he became Under Grammar Master at Christs’ Hospital, where he met Mary Judith Wales who was living there with her parents. He left Christs’ Hospital in 1817 to live at Clavering where he was incumbent. L.P. Stephens died in 1834. By 1839 Mary Judith was living at Bromley College, Kent with Mary Clare, the sister of A.W. Trollope. Bromley College remains a retirement home for ex-clergy and their wives. Mary Judith died there in 1865 at the age of 87 years.

Mary Judith’s mother Mary Wales died in 1827 at the ripe old age of 88. Her Will describes her as a widow of Clavering, Essex. She bequeathed "all my furniture and plate to Lancelot and Mary Stephens as recompense for their kind and affectionate conduct towards me". Rev L P Stephens was sole executor. I suspect Mary Judith arranged for the plaques to be placed in the church after her husband’s death. The plaque of L.P. Stephens includes the name of his sister Elizabeth Catherine Stephens and the date of her death in 1831, aged 70.

The children of William and Mary Wales were

Sarah born 1767, William born 1768,
Ann Hagley born 1770, Joshua born 1776,
Mary Judith born 1778, John born 1780 and
James born 1783.    



Young William, having shown great promise, sadly died in his lodgings at Cambridge University in 1789. Ann Hagley married a wine and brandy merchant of London, William Eyre. Joshua apparently died young; he was not mentioned in his father’s will of 1798, and although John and James were mentioned in their father’s will, they were not mentioned in their mother’s, which was dated 1825. We can speculate on the derivation of the names of the children of William and Mary Wales. John and Sarah were probably named after William’s parents. Joshua and Ann were probably named after Mary’s parents. William was presumably named after his father, and Mary after her mother. This then leaves James, a name that does not appear in the family, so was he named after James Cook?

William and Mary’s 4x great Grand-daughter Jenny Elliston, CCS member from Melbourne, Australia, and myself were able to give a lot of information on the family to the Clavering local historians in 2004. The result can be seen on their website. It is item 516 on our Links Page or go to:


Click an image below for a larger version

Clavering Church

Plaque to Lancelot Pepys Stephens

A view of the west end, with the two plaques on the right

Wendy Wales

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 26, volume 29, number 2 (2006).

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