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John Edward Vize was born at the family home in Crawford Street St Mary-le-Bone on 7 March 1831, the eldest child of John Vize (1804-1840) of Rotherhithe, Surrey and Matilda Lucy (1797-1837) of Stratford On Avon, Warwickshire[1]. John was baptised at the local church of St Mary’s on 18 March 1831[2], and unusually, he was also baptised in Atherstone, Warwickshire on 8 January 1832[3]. It seems that John and Matilda went to visit Matilda’s sister Mary Power[4] at this time and the baptism may have been performed for the benefit of the Lucy family members in Warwickshire (Matilda’s mother was still living at this time).

Both families were relatively well-off middleclass tradespeople. Matilda received a financial settlement from her father’s estate when she married John[5]. He had funds sufficient to establish a business in 1830, prior to this he had worked as a schoolmaster[6].

At the time of John’s birth his father was working as a bookseller[7] and circulating library[8] operator in St Mary-le-Bone. By 1832 the business was not going well and John senior becames insolvent[9]. His father had to return to teaching[10] to make a living and it seems the family had to move to Mill Hill in Hendon, then a quiet rural area to the north of London. It was here that John’s brother William was born in 1833[11].

The family moved to Guildford Place, Kennington shortly after William’s birth and it was at St Mark’s Kennington Oval that he was baptised on 2 November 1833[12]. The parish register shows his father’s occupation as schoolmaster[13].

By 1835 the family had moved again, settling in Foster Place off Bedford Road in Clapham. John’s sister Lucy Lockwood Vize was born here and baptised at St Mark’s on 2 August 1835[14]. John’s father John continued to work as a schoolmaster at this time[15].

The family stayed on at Foster Place and in 1837 a third son was born, Charles Lucy Vize[16]. By this time John’s mother was quite unwell with tuberculosis[17], affecting both the health of the baby and her own. They both died within days of each other and were buried at St Matthew’s Brixton on 26 August 1837[18]. At this time John Edward was 6, William Henry was 3 and Lucy Lockwood was 2 years old.

In August 1938 John’s grandmother Esther Vize died[19], leaving to her three surviving children the assets from their father’s brewing business – mainly savings in the Bank of England. At this time the family was still living at Foster Place in Clapham[20].

John continued to work as a schoolmaster and moved the family to Tower Hamlets in South Hackney some time before March 1840[21]. Sharing the same tenement with the Vize’s was William Lockwood, probably Esther’s brother (John’s uncle) and his wife Ann[22]. William also worked as a schoolmaster[23] and the Lockwoods may have helped with the children.

On 28 March 1840 John died, also from tuberculosis[24], leaving the three children aged 9, 6 and 5 years, orphans. It was John’s uncle William Lockwood that registered his death[25]. John was buried at St Matthew’s with Matilda and Charles[26]. In 1841 they were still living in the tenement in South Hackney and described as having “independent means”[27]. This is most likely the funds left by their grandmother and grandfather. Matilda’s mother Ann also dies in 1840 and may have left small legacies to family members.

It appears that the children stayed on in Hackney, possibly under the care of the Lockwoods, as John Edward reportedly attended Hackney Grammar[28]. This would appear to be the Church of England Grammar School established in 1830 and later amalgamated with King’s College[29]. It was probably this amalgamated school the boys attended.

Lucy went to live with her aunt Mary Power (Matilda’s sister) in Atherstone, Warwickshire[30] and the two boys went on to their respective careers: John started out as an accountant[31] in London and William undertook an apprenticeship with a druggist[32].

By 1854, though not formally qualified, John was working as a curate in Bath[33]. Here he met Hannah Louisa Ashley (1818-1912)[34] and though she was considerably older than him, married in 1855[35].

Soon after this John was enrolled in Trinity College Dublin, where he completed a Bachelor of Divinity[36]. He and Hannah had a son Thomas Charles in 1857 in Dublin[37]. Whilst completing his studies, John took up duties as the Curate of Bray in County Wicklow. He was ordained by the Anglican Archbishop of Dublin in 1858 and became Vicar of Bray in 1859[38].

John and Hannah stayed on in Bray until about 1861 and three more children were born[39], though two died in infancy. The surviving child was Clara Vize born in about 1859[40].

Following his posting in Ireland, John returned to England where he completed a Masters in Divinity at Oxford University, graduating in 1863[41]. He was appointed to the Parish of Trowbridge in Wiltshire, followed in 1864 by an appointment to the Parish of Bath in Somerset[42]. From 1866-1869 he was Vicar of St Marys in Hulme near Manchester[43].

He became Vicar of Forden in Montgomeryshire, Wales in 1869[44]. He stayed on in Forden until his retirement, where he acted as both Parish Vicar and Chaplain for the Forden Union Workhouse[45].


JEVize slides

Rev Vize became somewhat of a gentleman philanthropist and naturalist. He worked hard to make improvements to the workhouse, where disease was taking a heavy toll on the inmates[46]. He was a well-known mycologist in the Wales and Shropshire area, and a member of the famous Woolhope Club[47]. He wrote many scholarly articles on fungi and molluscs and was able to make advancements in techniques for operating microscopes effectively[48]. He made a large collection of fungi from Wales and Shropshire, much of which is now stored in Kew Gardens[49]. John also published a book on the “Parish of Forden” in 1883[50].

On taking up their post in Forden, John and Hannah placed their son Thomas in a boarding school at Chipping Camden in Gloucestershire[51]. Clara spent some time staying with her maiden aunts Amy and Clara who ran an educational institution for girls[52], but returned to live with her parents before 1881[53].

After Thomas completed his schooling he took a post as a tutor at the Cotteswold Middle Class School in Cirencester, Gloucestershire[54]. He was working there in 1881. In Forden he had a reputation as a “bad egg”[55]. He took passage to South Africa in the early 1880s and ended up in Kimberley in Cape Province[56]. At this time, Kimberley was at the heart of the diamond rush[57], so Thomas may have gone there as a prospector. It seems he may have married Joanna[58] and had two sons before his death: Ernest and Walter[59], descendants of whom are still living in South Africa. Thomas died in Kimberley on 5 April 1887 age 30 and was buried the same day at St Cyprian’s churchyard[60].

Clara remained living with her parents and never married[61]. She worked as John’s assistant, helping him with his papers and labelling and organising specimens[62]. She also nursed her parents as they became elderly and unwell. John’s eyesight gave him problems[63] for many years and Clara would have been invaluable to his work at this time. She had a reputation for drunkenness in Forden and villagers recalled that she was often found lying in ditches having fallen down on her way home of an evening[64]. Following her parents’ deaths, Clara moved to Brighton where she died on 28 August 1953[65].

John and Hannah stayed on in Forden until about 1910 when John retired[66]. Hannah had been unwell for many years before this and was housebound for their last decade in Forden[67]. John’s own health was failing, especially his eyesight. He had been a familiar sight tearing around town in a small horse buggy[68], but for the last few years in Wales was not able to do this. John, Hannah and Clara moved to Bristol[69] where they lived quietly with Clara to nurse them.

Hannah died in 1912 age 94[70], and John followed he in 1916 age 85[71].


[1] St Mary’s Bryanstone Square baptism register

[2] Ibid.

[3] St Mary's Atherstone baptism register

[4] Parish marriage; 1841 England Census Mary Power, Atherstone

[5] See John Vize 1804-1840

[6] Holy Trinity Stratford marriage register

[7] St Mary Bryanstone Square baptism register

[8] circulating library ref

[9] The Times of London 21 April 1832

[10] St Mark’s Kennington baptism register

[11] 1851 England Census William Henry Vize, Tunbridge Wells druggist’s apprentice

[12] St Mark’s Kennington baptism register

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] England BDM Charles Lucy Vize

[17] Matilda Vize death certificate

[18] National Burial Index; St Matthew’s burial register

[19] Esther Vize death certificate

[20] Will of Esther Vize, widow of Edmonton, Middlesex

[21] John Vize death certificate

[22] 1841 England Census, William and Ann Lockwood, South Hackney schoolmaster

[23] Ibid.

[24] John Vize death certificate

[25] Ibid.

[26] National Burial Index; St Matthew’s burial register

[27] 1841 England Census John Vize, William Vize, Lucy Vize, South Hackney independent means

[28] Preece, 2000

[29] History of Middlesex – Hackney - Education

[30] 1851 England Census Lucy Vize Atherstone

[31] 1851 England Census John Vize, Islington accountant

[32] 1851 England Census William Henry Vize, Tunbridge Wells druggist’s apprentice

[33] Crockfords

[34] 1861 England Census H L Vize; England BDM Hannah Louisa Vize

[35] England BDM John Edward Vize and Hannah Louisa Ashley

[36] Alumni Dublinensis; Crockfords

[37] 1871 England Census Thomas Charles Vize, Chipping Camden scholar

[38] Crockfords

[39] 1911 England Census John Edward Vize Bristol retired clergyman

[40] 1871 England Census Clara Vize, place scholar

[41] Alumni Oxfordiensis; Crockfords

[42] Crockfords

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] National Dictionary of Biography

[46] Preece, 2000

[47] Ibid.

[48] Preece 2000; ref mollusc article, ref Kew

[49] ref Kew

[50] British Library check

[51] 1871 England Census, Thomas Charles Vize, Chipping Camden scholar

[52] 1871 England Census Clara Vize, place scholar

[53] 1881 Wales Census, Clara Vize, Forden daughter

[54] 1881 England Census Thomas Charles Vize, Cirencester tutor

[55] Judi or Dorothy?

[56] South Africa Archives

[57] ref re kimberley

[58] South African Archives Joanna Vize death

[59] South African Archives Ernest Vize death; South African Archives Walter Vize death

[60] St Cyprians‘s burial register

[61] 1891 Wales Census Clara Vize, Forden; 1901 Wales Census Clare Vize, Forden; 1911 England Census Clare Vize Bristol

[62] Preece, 2000

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid.

[65] England BDM Clara Vize

[66] Crockfords

[67] Preece, 2000

[68] Ibid.

[69] 1911 England Census John Edward Vize, Hannah Vize, Clara Vize, Britol retired

[70] England BDM Hannah Louisa Vize

[71] England BDM John Edward Vize

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