Skip to main content
View of Terrington used as page banner

Samuel Wimbush - rector of Terrington from 1865 to 1908

The following is adapted from a talk given by Gerry Bradshaw to Terrington Local History Group in April 2015.

Introduction to the diaries

Captioned photograph
Samuel Wimbush

Samuel Wimbush was rector of Terrington from 1865 until his death in 1908 and is particularly interesting for the daily diary he kept during most of this period. The diary is mainly factual, simply recording what he did each day, with little in the way of comment, thoughts, opinions or feelings about people or events.

However, Samuel was involved in so many aspects of village life that we learn from the diaries much about life in a rural community in later Victorian and Edwardian times. In addition to insights into his family life, his leisure interests and his relations with the community, we see him going about his duties as clergyman, as farmer, and as chair of the Church of England school committee.

This was a time of great change in rural society, with increased travel by railway, car and bicycle, a communications revolution with the coming of the telegraph, improvements in farming through mechanisation and the use of artificial fertilisers, entertainments such as the phonograph and cinematograph, and the beginnings of sanitary district authorities from 1875, county councils from 1888, and parish and district councils from 1894, taking over functions previously the province of the Church.

The diary entries, though, tend to be repetitive: he “took his duty” twice on Sunday and, usually, once on Thursday; and he records the calls he made and received and the walks he made, though he was probably writing in the expectation that the diary would be read by outsiders, even to the point of having its volumes bound.

We also have the diaries of his daughter, Mary, from the age of 13 in 1883 until 1907, which often shine a different light on things.

Samuel’s background

Samuel was born in 1833 to a prosperous Finchley family of job masters (a job master was a keeper of a livery stable who rented out horses and carriages). He and his brother, Barnes, seem to have spent some four years at Pytchley, Northants with the local parson, a form of boarding education. After the death of their mother, his father married a lady from Slingsby and fairly soon the brothers are moved into the care of the Revd Charles Raw in Coneysthorpe, and subsequently of the Raws at Ainderby near Northallerton.

Samuel then went to Brasenose College Oxford and, after graduating, took holy orders. After being a curate at Scalby near Scarborough, where he met Kate Nicholson, his future wife, he was curate in charge at West Heslerton, between Scarborough and Malton from 1861, before becoming Rector of Terrington in March 1865. The patronage was then in the hands of Samuel's father, Samuel, and uncle, Henry. – a normal device to find a living for a church-minded son of a prosperous father.

Samuel’s family

Captioned photograph
The new rectory, now Terrington House

Samuel, his wife Kate and their two boys, Samuel and William, moved into the rectory (now Terrington Hall) in April 1865. He found the house to be too big, so sold it to Marcus Worsley in October 1865 and moved out into Rectory Farm on the opposite side of Main Street, until a new and smaller rectory (with only 9 bedrooms) could be built (now Terrington House). This involved pulling down a small red brick cottage near the entrance which Samuel owned and which was let to Aaron Walker and purchasing the site of the Primitive Methodist Chapel, which joined Aaron Walker’s cottage. The Chapel was pulled down and a new one built on Mowthorpe Lane. The family moved into the new rectory in November 1869.

Samuel's wife Kate died in August 1883 of 'inflammation of the lungs'. Samuel married again in February 1885 at Chester to Mary Elizabeth Harris, the former governess and eldest daughter of the late Revd James Harris, head master of the King's School, Chester.

Samuel had ten children, nine by his first wife and one by his second. Four of the boys, Willie, Sam, Christopher and John succumbed to tuberculosis in their 20's or 30’s and one of his daughters died in infancy. Three of the five survivors spent much of their young adulthood overseas: James was a missionary in Rhodesia, Eleanor, having trained as a nurse, became matron of a hospital in Savannah, Georgia; and Anthony joined the Indian Civil Service. Both his other daughters, Dorothy and Mary, seem to have survived TB and settled in the South of England.

James Wimbush succeeded his father as Rector of Terrington and James’ son, Richard, became Bishop of Argyll and the Isles.

In the 1891 census Samuel, 68, wife Mary, 41, and 7 children are at home. Samuel's second son William had died in 1890. His oldest son, Samuel, 28, is a medical student and third son James, 25, a theological student, and Christopher, 20, is a bank clerk. Daughters Mary, 21, Eleanor, 18, and Dorothy, 14, have no occupation, and Samuel and Mary’s son Anthony is aged 4. Son John Bourchier, 23, is away from home and is a solicitor in Helmsley. There is a governess from Leominster, a housemaid from Yearsley, and a cook from Barton-le-Willows.

Samuel died in 1908 and was succeeded by his son, James.

Children of Samuel: Samuel (1862-1896), William (1864-1890), James Sedgwick (1866-1941), John Bourchier (1867-1905), Mary (1869-1962), Christopher (1871-1902), Eleanor (1872-1966), Marjory (1874-1876), Dorothy Alice (1876-1947), and, with his second wife, Anthony (1886-1980).

Samuel as Priest

One of Samuel’s first tasks, as well as building a new rectory, was the extension and restoration of the church, which included building the south chapel and porch, re-roofing the church, external works on the Tower, and a new pulpit, lectern and desk. The diary often reports the number of communicants which is very variable partly on account of the upper echelons of Terrington society usually spending the winter on the coast at Scarborough, the south of England, Nice, or Italy.

In addition to providing Church services, Samuel visited the dying and helped with tasks such as writing wills or writing names in the family bible. He oversaw the distribution of parish charity funds to the poor and frequently organised teas and outings for the choir (eg to Fountains Abbey).

One of his later tasks was to oversee the closure of churchyard and the creation of the new burial ground in Mowthorpe Lane in 1905.

Samuel as Farmer

Samuel was responsible for the running of church interests, particularly church farmland, in the parish. Indeed, the income from this was his “living”. There were three main farms: Rectory Farm, which he managed directly through his farm manager; West Moor farm, on the Dalby Road; and Cotril Farm to the north of the village. West Moor and Cotril were occupied by tenant farmers. He also had a quarry which was only used from time to time.

For much of his time as rector there was a farming crisis due to falling income and migration from the land. The two tenant farmers were frequently asking for, and getting, a reduction in rent. He once tried to sell West Moor Farm to Mr Fitzwilliam at Wiganthorpe Hall but he declined.

The diary contains mention of routine events such as buying and selling hoggs, loading hay and corn, oats, barley, and gathering mushrooms, but mechanization was coming in and by 1871 he was cutting oats with a machine and there are mentions of the use of artificial fertilisers.

Role in education

Samuel’s other main responsibility was managing the church school, for which his responsibility was very direct, initially with little oversight except a few governors, though he often comments that management meetings were not quorate.

His duties included hiring and firing teachers, setting school fees, and organizing annual school feasts. On several occasions he notes that the school was closed by the sanitary authority because of scarlet fever or measles.

In the 1880s school inspectors were instituted and these led, in 1888, to the school building being condemned as unfit. After much argument in the village (see The Battle of the Schools) a new Church of England school was built in 1890 (the current village school).

Samuel was also Secretary of the Castle Howard Reformatory, at Crambeck, a social experiment founded by the Howards. He also served as secretary to the newly-instituted parish council.

Samuel’s relations with the community

Samuel maintained close relations with the gentry, particularly with the Thompsons and Kinnears at Terrington Hall, and Mr Kinnear seemed, in Samuel’s later years, to take over much of the running of the school. Visits to and from the occupants of Cliff Hall and Wiganthorpe Hall are common and the Worsleys at Cliff Hall and Mr Fitzwilliam at Wiganthorpe Hall are frequently called upon for support (eg in getting a telegraph office in Terrington).

He was a supporter of Mrs Rosalind Howard (later Lady Carlisle) in her Temperance campaign and was happy when she managed to close down the Cross Keys pub and replace it with a reading room and temperance hotel.

In 1885 Samuel received a letter from Mrs Howard asking him to invite farmers and cottagers to board poor children from Leeds and Bradford for 3 weeks in the summer at 6 shillings each. This became an annual event, and, no doubt, a useful cash crop for the poorer villagers. In one year he reports that 36 children from Leeds came to Terrington.

There are more references in the diaries than one might expect to people being accidentally shot, drowning themselves, or cutting their throats.

Spare time

Among Samuel’s pastimes he mentions trout fishing on the Rye and shooting: kestrel, kingfisher (sent to the curator of the Scarbrough Museum to be stuffed), heron (very sorry afterwards, but also stuffed), crows (as “scare crows”), partridge, pheasant, hares, rabbits, wild duck, woodcock, and wood pigeons are all victims mentioned.

Almost every year, there are weeks in winter when he and the rest of his acquaintances skate on Castle Howard and Wiganthorpe lakes, and he records being given skates for Christmas. There was even a cricket match in February 1879 on the ice at Castle Howard.

He swam in any water: Castle Howard Lake, the Brent at Finchley, the Rhone, Lake Geneva, the Thames, Venice, the Wharfe. On his honeymoon, in May, he swam in the sea at Dover.

He bought a second hand telescope, with which he reports seeing Sutton upon the Forest church from the top of the village.


Samuel took travel for granted, eg to Fylingdales where his wife’s family lived, to York, to Leeds, to Hull, just as day trips or overnight. In 1877 he reports going to York and seeing the new station: ‘it was opened last Monday - it is said to be the largest one in the world’.

And trips to London were becoming easier: first train to York (from Castle Howard station?), have breakfast at the new Station Hotel at York, take the 10:15 from York, and arrive at Finchley station at 4:06.

In 1885, on honeymoon, he walked to the Britannia tubular bridge over the Menai Straits, which was guarded for fear of Dynamitards.

His sons James and John went to Scarborough to see the Australian cricketers play, and son Willie went to Godesberg near Bonn on the Rhine with two fellow pupils.

Comparison with life today

What would Samuel and his family and the villagers have made of life today? Most of his parishioners would be astonished at what we take for granted today, from good health and education to technology, travel, and food.

But Samuel? He’d be delighted at the health improvements, but he’d known motor cars, farming technology, the telephone, a railway system little improved on, the London excitements of electric light and modern water and sewerage. His family travelled the world in Imperial safety, they even used the telegraph like text messages. And he was of course, a pre-digital blogger. So might he not say that he was disappointed that after more than 100 years, this was the best we could do?

©Gerry Bradshaw & Terrington Arts
This page last updated: 21st December 2021

Back to top of page