Records of the Family of Sclater

Claude Sclater


Younger Children of Christopher Sclater (2) and their Descendants

Christopher Sclater (3), 1713-1740?

CHRISTOPHER (3), the third son of Christopher (2) to survive infancy, was born at Loughton on April 18, 1713. He entered Winchester College as a Scholar in 1728, and then proceeded to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he was admitted as a Clerk on July 27, 1731. He graduated B.A. in 1736 but evidently died soon afterwards, since there is no mention of him in his mother’s will dated December 29, 1741.

Elizabeth Sclater, 1714-1769, and Thomas Pickering, 1699-1767

CHRISTOPHER’S eldest daughter, Elizabeth, was born at Loughton on May 16, 1714. She married on March 22, 17531, the Rev. Thomas Pickering, D.D., who had previously been engaged to her younger sister, Anne, when she died. Dr. Pickering had been Senior Fellow of St. John’s College, Oxford, and was Vicar of St. Sepulcre’s, Holborn, from 1748 until his death.

This was the church where the great bell was tolled whenever prisoners from nearby Newgate Gaol were taken to execution at Tyburn (near where Marble Arch now stands). The Pickerings did not spend all their time at the vicarage in this gloomy district but retired whenever possible to their country house at Chingford. They had no children of their own but made a home for the three orphan daughters of Elizabeth’s brother May Sclater, while they were home from India being educated from 1754 to 1757. The Pickerings also took care of their nephew Thomas and niece Elizabeth after the death of their father Richard Sclater in 1754. All their nephews and nieces were obviously devoted to them.

Thomas Pickering died on January 19, 1767, leaving all he possessed2 to his widow Elizabeth, who died two years later on February 5, 1769. In her will3 she left £200, her copyhold estate at Chigwell and her “chariott and horses” to her brother William Sclater (6), £20 to her nephew Joseph Sclater, and, after other small bequests the residue of her estate to her niece and goddaughter Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Sclater.

Anne Sclater, 1717-1749

CHRISTOPHER’S second daughter, Anne, was born at Loughton on February 17, 1716/17, and according to family tradition grew into a great beauty. She died suddenly on October 6, 17494, a few days before she was due to have been married to Dr. Pickering who four years later married her sister Elizabeth.

In the old parish church at Chingford is a memorial erected to her memory by Thomas Pickering. A translation of the Latin inscription reads:

“Near the place is buried the body of Anne Sclater. She was the younger daughter of Christopher Sclater, formerly Rector of this Church, and Elizabeth his wife. A good girl born of good parents by whom she was taught and educated, she learnt every domestic virtue including economy combined with liberality. She was elegant of form and most pleasing of manners. Alas, death lit his gloomy torch before her marriage. After a dire struggle bravely and piously borne she finally succumbed to the most cruel illness on October 6, 1749, aged 32.

Thomas Pickering, Vicar of the Church of St. Sepulcre, placed this token of faithful friendship and everlasting love.”

In her will5 Anne left £10 to her brother Joseph, small bequests to Mrs. Elizabeth May of Ramsdell and Mrs. Ben Cleeve, and the rest of her property to her sister Elizabeth. Her Sampler and two manuscript books, each containing about 200 remarkable medical recipes, collected by her and her sister in 1739 from their relations and friends, are still preserved by the family. A few examples, which illustrate the primitive state of medical knowledge of the time, are given on the next page.

For ye Falling Sickness.
Take a Live Mole bleed him in ye Neck and put him into a Crucible, let him burn ‘till he is dry enough to powder, then give of ye Powder as much as will lay on a 6d in any liquour 3 days before ye full Moon, 3 days at ye full Moon, and 3 days after it in ye Morning fasting.

For a Giddiness of ye Head of a long continuance.
Take ye Gall of an Hare, and as much Honey, beat ‘em well together a good while, anoint ye temples and forehead.

A Powder for Worms.
Take ye Herb called dead Man’s hand, infuse it 24 hours in Beer, drink it 9 mornings, make it as strong as you can drink it.

For ye King’s Evil.
Take ye Herb called dead Man’s hand, infuse it 24 hours in Beer, drink it 9 mornings together, make it as strong as you can drink it.

For the Black and Yellow Jaundice.
Four drams of new sheeps Dung in a pint of new Milk in ye Morning.

For ye Green Sickness.
Take of Brittany, Spearmint, Centaury, Savin of each a like quantity. ry it in an oven, make it into fine Powder, take as much as will lay on a shilling in Beer or Possett drink. Drink it in ye Morning fasting, take it 3 mornings and rest.

An Excellent Poultis for a Swelling.
Take a piece of new sheep’s Leather prick it full of Holes, spread on it white bread and Milk boiled ye thickness of a Poultis; pour on it Oyl of Lillys and Oyl of Roses, put it on as hot as you can.

For a Consumptive Cough
Take the Syrrup of Liquorice, Maiden Hair, Hyssop, Hore Hound and Colt’s foot of each a like quantity mix’d well together, then take it with a Liquorice Stick bruis’d at the end. Suck of it often.

Joseph Sclater (I), 1715-1767

JOSEPH, the fourth son of Christopher to survive infancy, was born at Loughton on September 15, 1715, and was apprenticed to his brother Richard as a druggist in 1731. In 1738 Richard made him a partner, and in 1754, after Richard’s death, he carried on the business at 102 Newgate Street in partnership with William Sheppard, their former apprentice. In 1759 he took on another apprentice, Charles Biker, to whom Eliza refers rather disparagingly in one of her letters as Mr. Bico6. Like Richard, Joseph was a member of the Court of the Grocers’ Company, of which he was a Warden in 1752. He was also a Common Councillor for the Ward of Farringdon Within and a director of the Equitable Assurance Office.

Joseph married on December 19, 1758, Elizabeth, widow of Richard Children (1714-1756) of Ramhurst in Lyghe, Kent. She was a sister of his apprentice, Thomas Hooker, and daughter of John Hooker of Tonbridge Castle, Lord of the Manor of Tonbridge, whose house among the castle ruins now contains the Urban District Offices. They had two children:

  1. Joseph (1760-1830)
  2. Elizabeth, born 1766, who married about 1805 a Mr. Chapman.


Joseph died on December 26, 17677, and his partner, William Sheppard, carried on the business until 1777, after which year it ceases to appear in The London Directory. In his will8 Joseph left all he possessed to his wife Elizabeth.

After his death his widow returned to Tonbridge and lived there until her death, aged 77, being buried there on April 4, 1805. In her will9 she divided her property between her son and daughter, and left a diamond ring to her nephew, Thomas Limbrey Sclater. One of her sisters was married to William Woodate of Summerhill near Tonbridge and there are several references to the Joseph Sclaters in A History of the Woodgates of Stonewall Park and Summerhill in Kent by G. M. G. Woodgate (1910).

Joseph Sclater (2), 1760-1830

JOSEPH’S only son, Joseph (2) was born in London in 1760 but lived for most of his life at Tonbridge. Nothing has come to light about his education or career. He was a fairly rich man until the failure of the Tonbridge Bank in 1816, when he and his Hooker and Woodgate relations lost most of their money. He apparently never married and died at the age of 70, being buried at Tonbridge on September 23, 1830. In his will10 he left legacies to his sister, Elizabeth Chapman and other relatives and friends in Tonbridge.

May Sclater (2), 1719-1746

THE fifth surviving son of Christopher was born at Loughton on October 29, 1719, and named May after his mother’s family. At the age of fifteen he joined the East India Company, in which his father was a shareholder. After a year’s training in the Accountant’s Office in Leadenhall Street he was appointed as a Writer in Bombay at a salary of £5 a year, but was unable to proceed immediately since, according to a letter from his brother Richard in the Company’s records, he had been “taken ill of the small pox”. However he soon recovered and arrived at Bombay in August 1736.

In 1738 he appears in the records as Assistant Secretary at Bombay and in 1741 he was transferred, as Secretary, to Anjengo, then one of the most important trading stations on the Malabar coast, near the Southern tip of India. Here he met, and in 1743 married, Judith, the daughter of his Chief, Charles Whitehill.

At this period officials of the East India Company were poorly paid but were free to supplement their salaries by private trading. It seems likely that May had been encouraged to go to India in order to act as agent for the supply of pepper, spices and other local products to his Druggist brothers. No doubt this proved a profitable arrangement until ended by May’s early death in 1746. Judith Sclater appears as a widow in the lists of European inhabitants of Bombay from 1746 to 1748 when she is believed to have died.

May and Judith left three orphan daughters, Elizabeth born in 1744, Mary born in 1745 and Louisa born in 1746.

Elizabeth Sclater (Sterne’s Eliza) (2), 1744-1788

ELIZABETH, the eldest of May Sclater’s three daughters, was born at Anjengo in India on April 5, 1744, and after the death of their parents the three girls lived with their grandfather, Charles Whitehill in India. They were sent home to a boarding school in England in 1754 spending the holidays with their uncle and aunt, Thomas and Elizabeth Pickering, when they met all their Sclater cousins. Eliza’s favourite was Thomas Limbrey Sclater (1741-1809), with whom she kept up an affectionate correspondence for many years, and met again on her subsequent visits to England.

Eliza and her sisters returned to their grandfather in Bombay in 1757, and there on July 27, 1758, when only 14 years old, Eliza was married to Daniel Draper (1726-1805), a son of William Henry Draper and cousin of General Sir William Draper, the hero of Manilla.

Eliza had two children, a son born in 1759, who died in England nine years later, and a daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1761.

In 1765 the Drapers visited England bringing their children home to be educated. Daniel returned to Bombay in the following year, but Eliza remained in England. Early in 1767 when staying at the house in Soho of her friend, Mrs. James, wife of Commodore, afterwards Sir William, James, she met the great novelist Laurence Sterne, then aged 54 and at the height of his fame.

Sterne had always been susceptible and he was quickly captivated by Eliza’s charm, vivacity and intelligence. Her upbringing had not instilled discretion; her self-esteem was flattered, and she did little to discourage the attentions of such a celebrated man. They met frequently, exchanged miniature portraits, and Sterne’s admiration seems to have turned into an obsession which he took no trouble to conceal. To his great distress Eliza had to return to India three months after their first meeting, and he died from consumption a year later without seeing her again.

After her departure Sterne brought out in his Sentimental Journey which contains some extravagant references to her, and the affair, though platonic, aroused considerable interest. He also wrote his Journal to Eliza part of which he sent to her, and the rest of which came to light when it was presented to the British Museum in 1894 by Thomas Gibbs of Bath, whose father had probably acquired it from the James’s. After Sterne’s death Eliza allowed ten of his letters to be published under the title Letters from Yorick to Eliza and succeeded in suppressing her letters to him, though some blatant forgeries were produced, probably by a certain William Combe, in a volume entitled Eliza’s letters to Yorick.

Having left her children with her grandfather, Charles Whitehill, now living in retirement at Worfield11 in Shropshire, Eliza rejoined her husband at Bombay, where he held the post of Accountant-General. In the following year she accompanied him, when, after a dispute with the Governor, he was sent to Tellicherry as Chief of the Factory, and in 1770 they were transferred to Surat, returning to Bombay in 1771. Here husband and wife became increasingly estranged. Besides keeping native women he seduced Eliza’s English maid, and the final break came in January 1773 when, after discovering this, Eliza fled from his house and took refuge for a time on board H.M.S. Prudent in the protection of the Commodore, Sir John Clarke. She never saw her husband again but the marriage was not dissolved and Eliza retained the custody of her daughter.

Eliza lived for her five remaining years with her uncle John Whitehill, then Chief at Masulipatam and afterwards Governor of Madras. They returned to Europe in 1776 and settled in Paris. Here Eliza met and made a profound impression upon the Abbé Reynal, who after her death wrote a remarkable tribute to her in his celebrated Histoire des Indes, for which she had provided him with much technical information.

In May 1777 Eliza crossed to England with her uncle “to seek the aid of English physicians” and they lived at 3 Queen Anne Street, London, where her sixteen year old daughter rejoined her. She became popular in literary society, being on friendly terms with the Burneys and John Wilkes among others. But her health was failing and in spite of the ministrations of three famous doctors, Hunter, Bromfield and Rowley, she became seriously ill. In June 1778 she went to Bristol for treatment at the Hot Springs. She died at Clifton on August 3 and was buried in Bristol Cathedral, where her uncle placed an elaborate monument by the notable sculptor, John Bacon. The inscription reads:

“Sacred to the memory of Mrs. Eliza Draper in whom genius and benevolence were united; she died August 3rd. 1778, aged 35.”

Eliza had genuine literary talents which were developed under the influence of Laurence Sterne. She wrote many long and interesting letters from India, vividly describing the life and customs, evidently with a view to future publication. Some of these have survived and been published with an account of her life under the title Sterne’s Eliza by W. L. Sclater in 1922. Thirty-seven other letters, written in the last two years of her life to her friends Mrs. and Miss Strange, were discovered later and published in 1944 by W. L. Sclater in Notes and Queries.

After Eliza left him Daniel Draper remained in the East India Company’s service until 1782, when he retired to England and purchased an estate at Great Stanmore, Middlesex. He died, a rich man, on March 20, 1805, and was buried at Great Stanmore. In his will he left bequests, totalling over £100,000, to his grandchildren, nieces and others, including an illegitimate son. His executor was Rawson Hart Boddam who had married Eliza’s sister, Mary. Portraits of Eliza by Richard Cosway and Daniel by an unknown artist are in the author’s possession.

Their daughter Elizabeth married on October I, 1785, Thomas Nevill, brother of Richard Nevill, M.P., of Furnace, County Kildare. She had a son, Daniel Draper Nevill, and two daughters, but their descendants, if any, have not been traced.12

Mary Sclater, 1745-1762

MAY Sclater’s second daughter, Mary, was born at Anjengo in 1745. She was married on April 2, 1760, at Bombay to Rawson Hart Boddam (1734-1812) who eventually rose to be Governor of Bombay from 1784 to 1788. Like her sister she had a gift for writing and a charming letter from her to her uncle, Dr. Pickering, is published in Sterne’s Eliza.

Mary died on July 9, 1762, and was buried in Bombay Cathedral, soon after giving birth to a son, Charles Boddam (1762-1811), who also made his career in India. He married in 1796 Charlotte, daughter of Colonel Barrington, and died at Calcutta on August 13, 1811, leaving a son, George Rawson Boddam and two daughters.

Rawson Hart Boddam married secondly Eliza Mary Tudor, a niece of Daniel Draper, by whom he had nine more children. After his retirement he settled at Bull’s Cross, Enfield, Middlesex. He died at Bath in 1812 and there is a memorial to him in Bath Abbey.

Louisa Sclater, 1746-

MAY Sclater’s third daughter, Louisa, was also born at Anjengo. She married in Bombay Colonel Charles Pemble, who in 1770 was Commander-in-Chief of the East India Company’s forces on the Coast of Malabar. He died intestate at Bombay and the administration of his estate was granted to his widow, Louisa, on June 27, 1770, after which nothing further is known of her.


  1. London Magazine, 1753
  2. P.C.C. Legard, Folio 108
  3. P.C.C. Bogg, Folio 59
  4. London Magazine 1749
  5. P.C.C. Greenly, Folio 57
  6. W. L. Sclater, Sterne’s Eliza, p.84
  7. London Magazine, 1767
  8. P.C.C. Secker, Folio 34
  9. P.C.C. Nelson, Folio 96
  10. P.C.C. Tebbs, Folio 729
  11. The Worfield register has an entry of the baptism on August 8, 1763, of “Elizabeth Riley Sclater, negro servant to Mrs. Draper”.
  12. [note by Niall Sclater] Four children (rather than three) are listed here:
    1. Daniel Draper Nevill of London (d 03.01.1816) had issue m. Frances Georges (b 1788-9, d 30.06.1814, widow of _ Combe)
    2. Caroline Draper Nevill (dsp 09.1818) m1. Thomas Sims or Symes (Colonel) m2. (10.1807) Ponsonby Tottenham (d 13.12.1818, MP)
    3. Augusta Nevill (a 1823) m. John Attersoll
    4. Georgiana Ann Nevill (a 1821) m. James John Bickford Heard (Major, son of Bickford of Ballintubber)

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