Records of the Family of Sclater

Claude Sclater


Christopher Sclater (2) and his Sons, William and Richard

Christopher Sclater (2) of Loughton and Chingford, c. 1683-1737

The date and place of the birth of Christopher, the only child of Francis known to have survived infancy, have not been discovered. According to the inscription on his tomb he was 58 at his death in 1737 but this seems unlikely since it appears from the College records that his father remained a Fellow of Corpus Christi, Oxford, until January 1682/3. Fellows were not allowed to marry so, unless Christopher was born out of wedlock or his father was secretly married while holding his fellowship, he could not have been born until 1863. Furthermore he entered Corpus as a Chorister in 1700 and this is more likely to have been at the age of 17 than at the age of 21. Choristerships were in the sole gift of the President and it seems unlikely that Thomas Turner, who was a strict disciplinarian, would have admitted him had there been any scandal about his birth.

Christopher had entered Winchester as a Scholar soon after his grandfather’s death in 1691, being described as “of St. Dunstan1, London” and his name appears in Long Rolls from 1692 to 1699. No doubt his uncle Richard Snagg, who had been appointed his trustee and made responsible for his education under his grandfather’s will, had decided this.

He graduated B.A. from Corpus in 1703, becoming M.A. in January 1705/6. In the same month he was appointed Chaplain of the College, but six months later he was presented to the Rectory of Loughton in Essex by John Wroth, the patron. He retained this living until 1735 when he resigned it in favour of his eldest son William. He was enabled to do this because John Wroth had, by his will made in 1717, only two years after the Jacobite Rising of 1715, when a majority of the population were Jacobite sympathizers, settled the next presentation:

“on any son of Mr Sclater that shall be in orders and of a sober, virtuous behaviour, and capable to supply the cure, and who shall give sufficient testimony of his being well-affected to our present happy Establishment in Church and State”.2

In 1722 Christopher had obtained a second living, that of the neighbouring parish of Chingford, to which he was presented by the patron, Thomas Boothby. In those days Loughton and Chingford, though only ten miles from London, were remote villages cut off from the outside world by the marshes of the Lea and the fastnesses of Epping Forest. Here Christopher remained until his death in 1737 and we can picture him clad in brown coat and leather breeches, carrying his gun like a prosperous farmer. In addition to his glebe he acquired and farmed copyhold land in the manor of Chigwell, and his accounts3 show that he averaged an annual profit of £40 after supplying his own household. Fat calves seem to have been most profitable and each cow is entered by name: Stately, Forward, Quince, Cheery and Brown, while his horse is named Wag. From this we may infer that he had a sense of humour and a genial affection for his animals4.

Christopher married at Worting, Hampshire, on February 2, 1707/8, Elizabeth, the eldest daughter and, after the death of her brothers, John and William, co-heiress of John May (1652-1722) of Worting, by his wife Elizabeth (1667-1722), daughter of William Coleman5 (1630-1700), Steward to the 1st Duke of Bolton. Christopher probably met her through William Wither of Manydown who was his contemporary at Winchester and Oxford and a trustee of their marriage settlement.

The Mays were small squires who originally came from Wiltshire and had leased Worting Wood Farm from the Withers of Manydown for about a century. They also owned freehold and leasehold property at Ramsdell and Wootton St. Lawrence. John May was the last of the Worting Mays and, after his death in 1722, 365 acres of his land were sold by his four daughters for £5,600. May’s Farm at Ramsdell however belonged to his younger brother Thomas, from whose widow Elizabeth it passed to the Sclaters, who retained it until about 1890. Through the Mays the family were related to the Harwoods of Deane, the Russells of Ashe and other respectable local families.

A copy of the marriage settlement of Christopher Sclater and Elizabeth May shows that Christopher undertook to deposit £800 with the trustees, William Wither and Charles May6, while John May agreed to contribute £80, £100 more at his death, and the title to a further £200 plus interest.

Christopher and Elizabeth had thirteen children of whom seven attained maturity. The births of the following are recorded in the Loughton or Chingford registers:

  1. Frank (1709-1711)
  2. William (1709-1778)
  3. John (1710-1711)
  4. Richard (1712-1754)
  5. Christopher (1713-1740)
  6. Elizabeth (1714-1769)
  7. Joseph (1715-1767)
  8. Anne (1717-1749)
  9. John (1718-1718)
  10. May (1719-1746)
  11. Margaret (1721-1721)
  12. Robert (1723-1740), apprenticed to John Elliot, citizen and draper of London, and
  13. Jane (1723,1723), twins.

In addition to this large family Christopher had his widowed mother living with him until her death in 1730, when she left him all her estate, both real and personal. Her will was witnessed by Catherine Greene and Daniel May, probably the son of Charles May, mentioned above. Her real estate was probably the freehold estate at Windsor mentioned in the Will of her grandson William (6), but there is no mention of the family in the registers of the Windsor parishes.

He obviously planned the careers of his sons with great care and foresight. William and Christopher were scholarly and destined for Oxford and the Church, though the latter died before being ordained. The others were shrewd and practical and seemed likely to succeed in business. At this time England was experiencing a period of great commercial expansion. There was not then the snobbish contempt for trade that developed in the Victorian era, and younger sons from manor and rectory were flocking to London to seek their fortunes. Country parsons’ families had to be specially skilled in healing and the lore of herbal remedies for the benefit of their parishioners. The Sclaters were no exception as witness the Commonplace Books of Doctors’ Remedies compiled by Christopher’s daughters and still preserved by the family. It was accordingly a natural step for Richard to be trained and set up in business in London as a Druggist, and for Joseph to become his apprentice and partner. Robert was to become a linen draper and May was to go to India, the source of supply of much of the raw materials for both businesses. To this end his father bought £400 of East India Company Stock, worth about £600, in August 17327, the possession of which paved the way for May to obtain the coveted post of a Writer in the Company two years later. This far-reaching scheme, which might have enriched them all, failed partially through the early deaths of Robert and May, but nevertheless Richard and Joseph achieved remarkable success in their short careers.

Christopher died on May 7, 1737, and was buried at Chingford. His tomb still stands on the south side of the Old Parish Church, formerly in ruins but now restored. It bears the arms of Sclater impaling May and the following inscription:

“The Revd. Mr Christ. Sclater, M.A. late Rector of the Parish, died 7 May 1737 Aged 58. Here likewise is interred the body of Mrs. Eliza Sclater his widow who died Febr. 3. Ann. Dom. 1743. Aet 59. And near this place lies the body of Robt. Sclater their youngest son died Dec 18 Ann Dom. 1740 Aet. 17.”

Christopher’s will8 is dated February 7, 1723/4, and was proved on June 4, 1737, by his widow, to whom he left all his property, desiring that she should in due course divide it between his surviving children.

Elizabeth’s will9 is dated December 29, 1741, and was proved by her daughter Elizabeth on March 30, 1744. In it she leaves £20 each for mourning to her surviving sons, William, Richard, Joseph and May, £200 to be divided between her six surviving children and the rest of her property, including her copyhold land in the parish of Chigwell, to be equally divided between her daughters, Elizabeth and Anne.

Christopher’s portrait was painted but the original has disappeared. An engraving from it was found in an old cottage at Loughton and given to his descendant, Philip Lutley Sclater, but this was destroyed by a bomb in 1944.

William Sclater (6) of Bow Church, 1709-1778

CHRISTOPHER’S eldest surviving son, William, was born at Loughton on December 6, 1709, and, like his father, was a Scholar at Winchester. His name appears in Long Rolls from 1723 to 1727.

He matriculated from Corpus Christi, Oxford, in 1727 and graduated B.A. from Trinity, Oxford, in 1731, proceeding to the degrees of M.A. from New College in 1734, and B. & D.D. in 176910.

He became curate to his father at Loughton in 1732, and succeeded him as Rector in March 1735, retaining the living until his death in 1778. Thus father and son between them held this benefice for a total of 72 years, one year longer than the period for which Anthony and Christopher Sclater had held the living of Leighton Buzzard.

In 1750 he became “lecturer” (a preacher chosen and supported by the Parish) of Christ Church, Newgate Street11, London, the parish in which his brothers, Richard and Joseph, lived, and in November 1769 he was appointed as Chaplain to the Lord Mayor, William Beckford, at whose marriage on June 8, 1756, he had officiated.

In 1771 he was selected by the Grocers’ Company to become Rector of the famous City Church of St. Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside to which it was their turn to present. No doubt the fact that his brothers, Richard and Joseph, had been influential members of the Company until their deaths (in 1754 and 1767 respectively) was partly responsible for this preferment, but he had a considerable reputation as a preacher. St Mary-le-Bow ranked first after St. Paul’s Cathedral of all the London churches, and in it was established the ecclesiastical Court of Arches which held jurisdiction over the diocese of Canterbury.

His portrait by Nathaniel Hone, R.A., holding his spectacles in one hand, is in the possession of Lord Basing, and there is a fine mezzotint engraving of it by J. R. Smith, published in 1777. It shows him looking younger than his years with brown hair, showing flecks of white at the temples, falling nearly to his shoulders. He has the broad brow of a scholar, wide nostrils, and the serene confident expression of a man at peace with the world, smiling slightly to himself.

William married Susanna, daughter of John Eyre of Loughton, and had an only child John, born on December 14, 1735, who died in infancy and was buried at Loughton on August 10, 1736. His wife died and was buried at Loughton on March 7, 1765. William died on February 11, 1778. An account of the accident which caused his death is given in The Gentleman’s Magazine12, as follows:

“Wednesday February 11. A fatal accident happened to Dr Sclater as he was coming up St Mary Hill between two and three o’clock in the afternoon, by a sack of carroway seeds falling upon him from the slings as they were craning into a grocer’s warehouse, which killed him upon the spot. By his unfortunate death the united livings of St Mary-le-Bow, St Pancras Soper-Lane, and All-Hallows, Honey Lane are in the gift of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop presents twice (the two former being his peculiars) and the Company once. A dispute arose concerning the presentation in 1771 when at length it was determined to be the Company’s turn who presented Dr Sclater.”

His niece, Eliza Draper, wrote13 to a friend after his death:

“My black Seal is occasioned by the loss of a very dear Relation, a most worthy old Man who was killed upon the Spot very lately by a bale of Goods falling upon his head out of a crane as he was walking in the Street. I revere his Memory and should grievously lament his loss, if I did not think it wrong to do so, as I have no doubt but he was as well prepared to quit the World as any Person who ever entered it.”

According to family tradition no Sclater has been able to eat seed cake ever since.

William was buried at Loughton in the grave of his wife in the old churchyard in accordance with his wishes expressed in his will dated February 28, 177414, but no memorial or tombstone remains. He bequeathed his personal estate and all his goods to his niece Elizabeth Sclater, daughter of his brother Richard, who had kept house for him after his wife’s death, and his freehold estate at Windsor “now in the tenance of William Coombs, Ironmonger” to his nephew Joseph, son of his brother Joseph. His will was proved by his niece Elizabeth, sole executrix, on February 25, 1778.

Richard Sclater the Alderman, 1712-1754

CHRISTOPHER’S second surviving son, Richard, was born at Loughton on February 23, 1711/12, and was the first member of the family not to enter the Church. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed for seven years to Thomas Fulkes, a wholesale druggist in Newgate Street, for a consideration of £84. Mr. Fulkes was the Treasurer of that well known charitable organisation, the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy, and doubtless this influenced him to take on a parson’s son. Also he was probably a friend of the family for we find a Thomas Fulkes witnessing the will of Richard’s grandfather, John May, in 1718. Thomas Fulkes died in 1728 and Richard was then committed to his successor, Charles Deacon, “citizen and chirurgeon in Newgate Street, druggist.”

Under the law an apprentice lived in his master’s house and the master, in addition to giving him his training, assumed full responsibility for his physical and moral welfare. Richard must have been well taught and cared for by his two masters, and he was clearly an apt and industrious pupil for, when Charles Deacon died in 1731, he was judged by the Worshipful Company of Grocers, which controlled druggists, to be qualified after only five years apprenticeship to take over the business which his father then bought for him.

Before being allowed to trade within the precincts of the City it was necessary to be a Freeman, and at the age of nineteen Richard purchased his freedom in the City and also in the Grocers’ Company. It is interesting to note that Richard became a druggist and not a surgeon or apothecary. At this period apothecaries were functioning as general practitioners, attending patients and prescribing drugs, and had their own City Company or Guild which had broken away from the Grocers in 1617. It seems that Richard had decided to avoid medical practice and confine himself to preparing and dispensing drugs. Like other druggists he would have dealt in tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, and also spices and other eastern products supplied by his brother May in India.

Another brother, Joseph, became his first apprentice in 1731 and his partner in 1738. The business evidently flourished and by 1749 Richard is described in The London Magazine as “the emminent druggist of Newgate Street.” At that date houses were not numbered and shops were only distinguished by their signs. After numbering had been made compulsory in 1762 we find Joseph Sclater’s address given in The London Directory as 102 Newgate Street, but the original house no longer exists.

According to The Grub Street Journal and The London Evening Post for November 16, 1737, Mr Sclater, a druggist in Newgate Street, possessed the ticket for the first prize of £500 in a lottery drawn at Stationers’s Hall. If this is true perhaps it was a turning-point in Richard’s career, but he must also have been able and ambitious for it is otherwise impossible to account for his rapid progress to high City office and prosperity.

His reputation is shown by the high premiums he was able to charge his apprentices15. These were:

1737 Hasledine Pemberton £200
1740 John Turner £300
1744 William Sheppard £350
1752 Thomas Hooker £315

He was a liveryman and member of the Court of the Grocers’ Company, becoming Second Warden and Auditor in 1743. He served as Treasurer of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy from 1747 to 1752, the office which his old master, Thomas Fulkes, had previously held. He was elected a Common Councillor for his Ward, Farringdon Within, in 1736 at the age of 24, Deputy Alderman in 1741 and Alderman in 1754 only three months before his death. Had he lived he would have become Lord Mayor of London by rotation within a few years.

An account of his election is given in The London Magazine for February 4, 1754, as follows:

“The right Hon. the lord mayor held a ward mote at Christ’s hospital for an election of an alderman of the ward of Farringdon Within in the room of the late Sir Henry Marshall, knt, deceased, when Richard Sclater, Esq., deputy thereof was unanimously chosen. He afterwards thanked the ward for the honour they had conferred upon him; and several of the gentlemen advising him not to give any entertainment he acquainted them that he would give a sum of money to be distributed among the poor housekeepers; which met with universal approbation”.

Richard was married twice and both his wives came from well-established land-owning families. He must have met his first wife, Magdalen Limbrey, when visiting his mother’s relations in Hampshire, since the Limbreys lived at Tangier Park in Wootton St. Lawrence, the same parish as the May property. Magdalen was a daughter of Sir John Husband, First Baronet of Ipsley, Warwickshire, and of Hurstbourne Tarrant Manor, Hampshire, which he had inherited from his mother Jane, the daughter of Lord Charles Paulet. The marriage took place on November 2, 1738, at Wootton St. Lawrence, and by it Richard had four children baptised at Christ Church, Newgate Street, as follows:

  1. Husband Richard - November 15, 1739.
  2. Thomas Limbrey - April 5, 1741.
  3. Elizabeth - April 21, 1742.
  4. Richard - July 20, 1743.

Magdalen died and was buried at Upton Grey, near Basingstoke, on February 11, 1747.

Richard married secondly on April 30, 1751, Penelope (1712-1796), daughter of Philip Lutley16 (1667-1731) of Bromcroft Castle and Lawton Hall, Shropshire, and Henwick, Worcestershire, by his wife Penelope (1685-1745), only daughter and heiress of Richard Barneby of Brockhampton, Herefordshire. By his second marriage Richard was the father of Penelope Lutley (1752-1843), and Bartholomew Lutley (1753-1804).

A portrait of Richard, wearing a brown coat and red waistcoat with silver facings, by George Beare17, and his silver coffee pot, engraved with the arms of Sclater impaling Lutley, are in the author’s possession. A portrait of his first wife Magdalen is in the possession of Lord Basing.

Richard died on May 4, 1754, and was buried at Upton Grey by the side of his first wife in accordance with his wishes expressed in his will18 dated July 23, 1750. To his children, Thomas and Elizabeth, he leaves £2,500 and £1,000 respectively and equal shares in the rest of his estate in trust until they are 21. But if Thomas should die Elizabeth should have £7,000 only and the rest be divided between his brothers and sisters of their representatives.

He leaves £20 each to all his brothers and sisters for mourning, 10 guineas to his apprentice, William Sheppard, £20 to his maid, Jane Harding “for her faithfulness to and care of her late mistress and my children” and six months wages to all his servants.

He directs his executors to let his brother Joseph have £1,000 free of interest for seven years after settling the accounts of the partnership between them.

He expresses a wish that his son Thomas “should be apprenticed to a Chemist if he liked it and my executors can meet with a proper Master and then being out of his time shall come home to my brother Joseph”.

In a codicil added after his second marriage he leaves £4,000 to his second wife Penelope, with remainder to his children by her. He also leaves her his household goods, coach and horses and “the four diamond starrs and diamond pompadour”, with remainder to his daughter Elizabeth.

The will was proved on May 31, 1754, by his executors Edward Hillersdon, a Hamburg Merchant, and Jenner Swaine, a Distiller in Newgate Street.

After Richard’s death his widow Penelope returned to Henwick, near Worcester, with her two children and lived there with her spinster sister, Margaret Lutley, until her death many years later. She was buried in Worcester Cathedral on December 12, 1796. In her will19 dated April 22, 1784, she left £1,500 to her son Bartholomew and £2,500 to her daughter Penelope, the rest of her estate to be divided equally between them. She left her gold watch, jewels and china to her daughter, her family pictures and plate to her son, and all the rest of her household goods to be divided equally between them.

Her jewels included the “Penelope Pearls” which had been given by Sir Edwin Sandys to his daughter Penelope on her marriage to Sir Nicholas Lechmere in 1642, and have been left from one Penelope to another ever since. They are now in the possession of Penelope Fitzgerald (née Crofts), but are said to be discoloured and worthless.


  1. Neither the parish registers of St. Dunstan-in-the-East nor St. Dunstan-in-the-West contain any mention of the family
  2. W. C. Waller, Loughton in Essex
  3. Essex Record Office. Ref. D/P 233/3/6
  4. W. Addison, The English Country Parson
  5. See J. E. Millard, History of Basingstoke
  6. Charles (1661-1714), the cousin of John May, was Mayor of Basingstoke in 1711 and the ancestor of the Mays of Basingstoke, brewers
  7. Information from the Bank of England
  8. P.C.C. Wake, folio 144
  9. P.C.C. Anstes, folio 79
  10. Al.Ox.
  11. London Magazine Vol. 19, p.141
  12. Vol. 48, p.93
  13. N. & Q. Vol. 187, p.52
  14. P.C.C. Hay, Folio 84
  15. Genealogical Society. Apprenticeship Index 1710-1774
  16. A history of the Lutley family is given in Bromcroft and its owners by Evelyn H. Martin, and their pedigree was entered in the Visitation of Shropshire, 1623
  17. Illustrated in Country Life, May 8, 1958
  18. P.C.C. Pinfold, Folio 150
  19. P.C.C. Harris, Folio 638

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