Records of the Family of Sclater

Claude Sclater

Sources of Information

FEW tangible traces of the clerics of the family remain. Their possessions have worn out or been discarded, no journals or private papers have survived, and even the parsonages where they lived have vanished. Only the churches where they ministered, a score of dusty books of sermons which they wrote, a tablet in Leighton Buzzard Church and a silver loving cup in an Oxford College remain as their memorials.

In spite of the difficulties enough information has been collected to make it worth while to set down their story, if only for the benefit of their descendants. Most of the material concerning them is the result of research into county and diocesan records, local histories, parish registers and wills, and the invaluable volumes of Alumni Oxonienses and Alumni Cantabrigienses.

After the family settled in Hampshire in the second half of the eighteenth century it becomes a little easier to gather information, though here again no member of the family, except Philip Lutley Sclater, is known to have kept a journal - at least none has been preserved - and nearly all letters and papers seem to have been destroyed, probably when the family moved from Tangier Park to Hoddington in 1833. It is fortunate that a few of the letters of Eliza Draper (Sterne’s Eliza) have survived, since these contain some revealing comments and opinions on her Sclater cousins. A number of interesting deeds and documents have been preserved but these throw more light on the various estates than on their owners.

The first to take an interest in their forebears were George and Philip Sclater who collected a certain amount of information, starting about 1850, when interest in genealogy became widespread. But they were both extremely busy men who set about it in a somewhat amateurish fashion and do not seem to have searched very thoroughly. The result was a pedigree with names and dates but little of human interest about the lives or characters of their ancestors.

William Lutley Sclater (2) was interested in the family but most of his research was devoted to other families allied with the Sclaters by marriage. In this volume I have concentrated mainly on the Sclaters and brought to light a considerable amount of new and interesting material about their careers and motives, and have tried to show how these were influenced by the background of their times.

My thanks are due to Mr. John Saltmarsh of King’s College Cambridge, who has helped me in deciphering ancient manuscripts, and to the County Archivists at Bedford, Exeter, Taunton, Lincoln, Lichfield, Chelmsford, Winchester and Salisbury, also to the Keeper of Western MSS. at the Bodleian Library and the Librarians of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the London Guildhall and the India Office, who have all provided valuable information.

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