Records of the Family of Sclater

Claude Sclater


William Sclater (4), The Cavalier, and his Children

William Sclater (4) of Clerkenwell, c. 1623-1691

CHRISTOPHER’S only son, William, was born about 1623, probably at Leighton Buzzard, and always described himself as educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford1, though his name does not appear in Foster’s Alumni Oxonienses or in the College records which are incomplete. His studies were probably interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, when, like many other Oxford undergraduates, he sided with the King, and joined the Royalist Army as a Cornet of Horse.

He was named as one of 35 young students created B.A. by Charles I at Oxford after the battle of Edgehill2. During the remainder of the First Civil War he fought as a Cavalier and was promoted to Lieutenant. He may be identified with a certain Major Slater who was committed prisoner to the Tower in June 1646 for bearing arms against the Parliament3.

After the execution of Charles I on January 31, 1648/9, he “remained faithful to the heir in exile, and was captured while carrying out the orders of his Prince.” He was evidently implicated in some Royalist uprising and according to his own account was condemned to death in 1652, but no record of his trial has survived.

He is next heard of in March 1654/5 when he was appointed Headmaster of Barnet Grammar School4, probably through the influence of John Hayes, one of its governors, who owned property at Leighton Buzzard and must have known the Sclaters. A reference was provided by William Dugard, the Royalist Headmaster of Merchant Taylors’ School, where his cousin, William Sclater (3), was a scholar. William (4) had been married about 1649 and had two young children but was evidently now a widower for he was required to permit his predecessor’s widow to live in the schoolhouse to look after the boarders.

Some time before August 1658, when he was described as “clerk” in his stepmother’s will, he must have been ordained; possibly he was the William Slayter ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln on March 22, 1645/6, or more probably he was ordained by Robert Skinner, the deposed Bishop of Oxford, who continued to confer Orders according to the Church of England in secret during the Commonwealth5.

After the restoration Charles II was besieged with appeals for livings from Royalist clergymen, many of which he ignored, although those who had been evicted by the Puritans were given back their old parishes. William peititioned for the benefice of Barton-in-the-Clay, Bedfordshire, describing himself as “Schoolmaster in Barnet” and stating that he “was twice in imminent danger of life in the cause of the late King.” He apparently obtained a warrant but this was contested by the absentee Rector and William was unsuccessful6.

On July 5, 1662, William became Curate-in-charge of the parish of Monken Hadley7, near Barnet, on the presentation of Mrs. Margaret Hayes, widow of John Hayes, mentioned above, but he also continued as Headmaster of the school. Monken Hadley was a poor benefice, the income being only £35 a year. Religious feeling was running high and some Nonconformist parishioners did not welcome the new Church of England Vicar. A certain Richard Marshall appeared before the Justices of the Peace8, charged with molesting William Sclater during Divine Service, and was committed to the next Sessions of the Peace at Hicks Hall, Middlesex.

In March 1662/3 William resigned his post at the school and soon afterwards vacated the benefice, having decided to move to London with the idea of being nearer the Court at Whitehall, and of making his name as a preacher. His deed of resignation, sealed with the Sclater arms, is still preserved in the School Minute Book.

In the same month we find him describing himself as “B.A. of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and lecturer at St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London”, petitioning the King for the degree of B.D. on the grounds that he “was promised to be taken care of for his losses in the war; was condemned to death in 1652”.9 The King wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford requiring them to admit him as a Bachelor of Divinity, but there is no record of his degree being conferred on him.

In 1664 his loyalty was rewarded when he was presented by the Grocers’ Company to the Rectory of Northill in his native Bedfordshire probably, as in the case of his predecessor10, at the Request of the King. This was fortunate for the survival of the family since it removed them from St. Giles-in-the-Fields a year before the Great Plague, of which a hundred thousand Londoners died, broke out in that parish.

In 1665 he was recommended for the appointment of Sub-dean of the Chapel Royal as being “of pious life, good voice and excellent musical ability”, but nothing came of this11.

In September 1666 he was elected as Curate-in-charge of the excellent living of St. James’s, Clerkenwell12, then a fashionable suburb, whose parishioners had purchased the advowson and consequently could choose their own parson. On his arrival, shortly after the Great Fire of London which had not reached Clerkenwell, he found the parish full of homeless refugees and the Church filled with their salvaged goods.

Two years later William obtained a second benefice when he became Rector of Clifton, Bedfordshire, presented by Mrs Rolt, widow of the Patron. He appointed a Curate and continued to live in Clerkenwell.

In 1668 he petitioned the King for the degree of D.D. and this was conferred by royal mandate “for the loyalty and sufferings” at Cambridge in 1669, Oxford having “shut the doors” to such degrees13.

That his judgement of character was not infallible is shown by the following story of his meeting with the notorious imposter Titus Oates14, in a pamphlet entitled Intrigues of the Popish Plot by William Smith, M.A., published in 1685:

“All this while [about 1675] he [Oates] continued in the habit of a Church of England Man; and coming one day to see me at Islington, after we had dined, we intended to go into London to meet Medburne. But in our way passing by Sadler’s Musick-House we met Dr Sclater the Vicar of Clerkenwell, who complemented his seeming Brother Clergy-man very gravely and desired him to except a glass of ale with him, upon which, growing more familiar, he desired him to give him a sermon next Sunday, which Oates after much entreaty promised. But he thinking it might be only an excuse, resolved to accept Oates proffer, and accordingly Oates preached, and in his sermon speaking all along very bitterly against Calvin, he called him always Jack. This sermon gave very heinous offence to two great admirers of Calvin, Mr Barker and Mr Walsh, then in Commission of the Peace. Who therefore sending for the Dr. gave him a very severe reprimand; for suffering such a fellow to appear in his pulpit. The Dr. to excuse himself acquainted their Worships, ‘twas I introduced him; which story though false, proved very prejudicial to me, these persons being my utter enemies ever after. This sermon, by the way, after the Oates’ exaltation and renown of being a discoverer, for the credit of the Author was sold by him to Mr Sawbridge for 40 or 50 guineas”. One of William Sclater’s sermons15 was published, namely:

The Royal Pay and Paymaster or the Indigent Officers Comfort. Delivered in a sermon Preached before the Honorable the Military Company at St. Pauls Covent Garden, July 25th by William Sclater D.D. Minister of Clerkenwell. And now Printed at their earnest intreaty. London. 1671.

William was one of the “benefactors” of Richard Blome’s Britannia, published in 1673, and his coat of arms argent a saltire azure is one of many illustrated in the preface to this work. He became a member of the Court of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy, the well known charitable foundation, in 1685.

In 1688 there occurred the “Glorious Revolution” by which James II was driven from the throne, and the clergy had to take an Oath of Allegiance to William and Mary. The 400 who refused on the ground that to do so would break the oath that they had taken to James II were known as the Non-Jurors and were deprived of their livings. Evidently William took the oath as he retained both his livings until his death two years later.

William must have been married twice but details of his first marriage have not been discovered. His second marriage took place at St. Laurence Pountney in London on October 19, 1657, to Mary Walkley, who survived him and was buried at St. James, Clerkenwell, on December 6, 1700.

By his first marriage he had:

  1. Francis (c. 1650-1685).
  2. Elizabeth (c. 1652-1725).

William died and was buried at Leighton Buzzard on March 9, 1690/1. His will is dated December 26, 169016, wherein he describes himself as of the parish of St. James Clerkenwell, Co. Middlesex, D.D., and “being sicke and weake in body” he desires “to be decently buried in the grave of my Father in the chancell of the parish church of Leighton Budezart in the County of Bedford under a rough marble stone”. He requests that his executor “shall cause to be fixed upon the wall neare thereunto some small but dureable monument with an inscription in remembrance of my father, my grandfather and myself, in such words as I shall direct in a paper to be annexed to or found with this my will or in proper words for that purpose”.

To his wife, Mary Sclater, he leaves an annuity of £30 and his messuage or tenement at Clerkenwell Green “late in the occupation of Richard Haley, Esq. and now in the tenance of Mr Ramage” with remainder to his grandson William Sclater, son of his son Francis Sclater, deceased, and his heirs and assigns for ever.

To his grandsons, William and Christopher Sclater, he leaves £600 each in trust until they are 21, the income therefrom to be used for their maintenance and education.

To his granddaughter, Elizabeth Sclater, he leaves £10, stating that her legacy is not larger because he hopes that her mother will provide for her out of his son Francis’ marriage settlement.

He leaves £10 and his best silver tankard to his daughter Elizabeth Snagg, £10 and his white gelding to her husband Richard Snagg, £10 each to their infant children, William and Anne Snagg, £10 to his sister Frances Snagge, and £5 each to her three daughters.

To his above mentioned grandson, Christopher Sclater, are bequeathed all his books and papers; “but my desire is that he shall with his owne hands burne and consume all such notes and papers as he shall find written with my owne hand immediately after my desease”. To Mr. Mucedorus Burrup, his curate at Clerkenwell, are given “my best stuffe gowne and cassock, my best hat and my best shoes and stockings.” He also leaves £5 to the poor at each parish of Leighton Buzzard, Clifton and Clerkenwell, and legacies to his three servants.

Lastly he appoints his son-in-law Richard Snagg sole executor “desiring him for the sake of their father to take the best care that he can of my sayd Grand-children William and Christopher as if they were his owne. My will and desire is that their mother shall have nothing to doe nor be in any way concerned in the education or with what I have herein devised and bequeathed to them”. He appoints as overseers of his will Mr. Henry Mews of the parish of St. James, Clerkenwell, and Mr. John Duke of Corpus Christi College in Oxford, each with a legacy of forty shillings to buy them rings.

His will was proved by Richard Snagg, and the monument was duly erected on the north wall of the chancel of the parish church of Leighton Buzzard, where it still remains and provides the key to much of the early family history. The Latin inscription and a translation are given in Appendix I.

Since there is no mention in his will of the property at Leighton Buzzard which his father had left him we can assume that this was sequestrated or sold to pay fines for “malignancy” during the Civil War. However he was probably compensated after the Restoration, and he must have saved a considerable sum during his last 23 years when he held two livings, for his bequests are larger than might be expected.

It appears from his will that William did not entirely trust his daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, the widow of this son Francis. Little has been discovered about her, but she evidently remained on good terms with her son Cristopher, for she was living with him at the time of her death thirty-nine years later. Nothing further has been discovered about her other son William (5), who was not apprenticed to his uncle, the goldsmith, although one would have expected this, and it is presumed that he died young. This belief is strengthened by the fact that Christopher, shortly after leaving Oxford, was able to hand over the sum of £800 to the trustees of his marriage settlement. Since he and William had only been left £600 each by the grandfather William Sclater, it seems probable that Christopher received his brother’s legacy in addition to his own.

Francis Sclater of Netheraven, c. 1650-1685

THE only son of William Sclater (4) of Clerkenwell, Francis or Frank, was probably born at Leighton Buzzard though he is described as “of Luton” in the register of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, on his admission as a Scholar on May 10, 166717.

He probably received his early education at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Barnet, where his father was Headmaster from 1654 to 1663. He graduated B.A. from Corpus in 1671 and proceeded to the degrees of M.A. in 1674 and B.D. in 1682. He was elected a Fellow of his College and University Music Lecturer18 in 1675.

He is described by Anthony Wood as “an ingenious person”19, and there are several references to him in Wood’s Life and Times, from which he seems to have been one of the leading figures in the University.

Francis was ordained by the Bishop of Oxford on March 11, 1676/7, and, according to the College records, retained his Fellowship until January 8, 1682/3, when he resigned it presumably in order to marry. His wife’s name was Elizabeth but no other details of his marriage have come to light20 and it may have been performed privately by his father who forgot to have it entered in the Clerkenwell register. His father implied in his will that he had provided his son with a good marriage settlement, which indicates that he approved of the marriage.

On January 27, 1682/3, Francis was instituted to the perpetual vicarage of Netheravon in Wiltshire, presented by Prebendary Isaac Walton, son of the author of The Compleat Angler. Francis, however, soon appointed a curate and seems to have spent little time in the parish since his name does not appear in the register. He evidently preferred to serve in London and a few weeks later on March 7, according to the register of St. Mary Woolchurch Haw, he was officiating there at the baptism of “Marck Anthony an Indian”. This church had been destroyed in the Fire of London and the sister church of St. Mary Woolnoth had been damaged but restored by Sir Christopher Wren in 1677, the two parishes being united. Francis was formally licenced to the Curacy of the latter in November 168321, but he seems to have lived in the riverside parish of Allhallows the Great. There is one, possibly relevant, entry in the register of that parish, the burial on October 31, 1683, of “Frances Slater a Minister’s daughter”.

In May 1685 he died suddenly of small-pox and was buried at his father’s church of St. James, Clerkenwell. The register gives “May 12. Mr. Francis Sclater, Minister, buryed from Hicks Hall in the Chancle”. He left no will and letters of administration22, in which he is described as formerly of the parish of Allhallows the Great, were granted to his widow Elizabeth on June 30, 1685.

His early death ended a career that was evidently of considerable promise. His sorrowing father commemorated him in two ways. He erected a monument, bearing the Sclater arms, charged with a label of three points - the mark of difference for an eldest son - above a remarkable Latin epitath extolling his virtues, in the church of St. James, Clerkenwell (see Appendix I). He also presented to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, a fine two-handled silver gilt memorial cup, made by John Jackson in 1685, which is still a treasured possession of the College. It bears the Sclater arms and a Latin inscription which, translated, reads:

“A Loving Cup: The Gift of the Rev. Dr. William Sclater D.D. the most indulgent Father of the most loyal son Frank Sclater B.D. former Fellow of C.C.C.Oxon, most dearly beloved now most widely separated who died from small-pox on May 12, 1685, in his thirty-fifth year. Presented in 1687”.

During his short married life Frank had certainly three children, Christopher, William and Elizabeth, each named in the will of their grandfather William Sclater (4) in 1690, but details of whose birth have not been discovered. Of these William and Elizabeth died young, leaving only Christopher to perpetuate the family.

Frank’s widow Elizabeth lived to a great age and died at Chingford, where her son Christopher was Rector, in 1730. In her will23, dated February 19, 1726/27, and proved on May 25, 1730, she left him all her estate, both real and personal.

Elizabeth Sclater, c. 1652-1725

Richard Snagg, c. 1660-1716

FRANK’S sister and William of Clerkenwell’s only daughter, Elizabeth, was born about 1652, probably while her father was in prison for his Royalist activities. She must have been a remarkable woman for she outlived three husbands and survived to the age of 73.

Her first marriage took place at St. Sepulcre’s, Holborn, on October 15, 1670, to Samuel Sadler, bachelor of that parish. In the Bishop’s licence, now in the London Guildhall Library, she is described as a spinster aged 18, having the consent of her father, Dr. Sclater. No details have been discovered about the death of Samuel Sadler, but her second marriage to Francis Winton24, widower of Leighton Buzzard, was by Faculty Office licence dated November 22, 1679. He died and was buried at Leighton Buzzard on May 21, 1685.

Her third marriage took place at St. Bride’s, Fleet Street, on June 16, 1687, to Richard Snagg, bachelor, goldsmith, and in the Archbishop’s licence she is described as Mrs. Elizabeth Winton, of St. James, Clerkenwell, Widow.

Richard Snagg was the son of Richard Snagg, Vicar of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, and belonged to the distinguished Bedfordshire family which had provided a Speaker of the House of Commons during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. (Elizabeth’s aunt, Frances Sclater, had married a third Richard Snagg in 1653).

Elizabeth’s third husband was born about 1660 and apprenticed in 1675 to John Putnam, Goldsmith. In 1682 he was at “The Unicorn”, Lombard Street, with Alderman Backwell, and in 1683 set up on his own at “The Exchange”, Lombard Street, where he flourished. In 1687 he took up his freedom in the Goldsmiths’ Company and in 1691 moved to “The Flying Horse”, Lombard Street, as a Goldsmith and Banker.

In the same year, as executor of the will of his father-in-law, Dr. William Sclater of Clerkenwell, he became sole trustee of his nephews, William and Christopher Sclater, and erected the fine Sclater monument, which probably came from the workshop of Grinling Gibbons, in Leighton Buzzard Church.

In 1708 he was reported to have incurred a heavy loss through the defalcation of his clerk, Robert Yate, who absconded with a great sum of money25.

Richard and Elizabeth Snagg had six children according to the registers of St. Edmund King and Martyr and St. Mary Woolnoth. They were Charles (1688-1689), William (1688-1694), Ann (1689- ), Richard (1692- ), Elizabeth (1694- ), Charlett (1695- ).

Richard died and was buried at St. Mary Woolnoth on April 13, 1716, administration of his estate being granted to his widow Elizabeth, who died in 1725 according to a further grant of administration of his estate made in that year.


  1. Venn confuses him with another William Sclater, admitted Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1636, who was probably the younger brother of Sir Thomas Sclater (see Appendix III)
  2. Ath.Ox., Vol. 2, p.692
  3. H.C.J., Vol. 4, p.559
  4. C. L. Tripp, History of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Barnet (1935)
  5. Ath.Ox., Vol. 2, p.673
  6. C.S.P.D 1660-1, pp.126, 182
  7. F. C. Cass, Monken Hadley (1880)
  8. Middlesex County Records, Vol. III, p.312
  9. C.S.P.D 1663-4, p.68
  10. C.S.P.D 1661-2, p.514
  11. C.S.P.D 1665-6, p.153
  12. Vic.Gen. Exton
  13. C.S.P.D 1667-8, p.609, 1668-9, pp.31, 50
  14. In 1678 the whole country was deceived by Oates’s false accusations of an imaginary “Popish Plot” to murder the King and extirpate the Protestant religion
  15. According to W. J. Pinks’s History of Clerkenwell he also published a sermon on 1 John v.21, in 1663
  16. P.C.C. Vere, Folio 59
  17. There is no record of him in the Luton register and the Leighton Buzzard register of this period is missing
  18. O.H.S. Vol. XXI, p.546
  19. Ath.Ox., Vol III, p.229
  20. The register of St. Margaret, Westminster, gives the marriage of a Francis Sclater to Elizabeth Tew on April 22, 1656, but this is unlikely to refer to him unless the date is wrong
  21. Vic.Gen. Exton
  22. P.C.C. Cann, Folio 77
  23. P.C.C. Auber, Folio 139
  24. A Francis Winton, possibly the father of this one, was an overseer of the will of Elizabeth’s grandfather, Christopher Sclater, who died at Leighton Buzzard in 1642
  25. F. G. H. Price, London Bankers

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