The following text is transcribed from "The Illustrated History of Portsmouth by William Gates"
For the following interesting particulars of the Vicars of Portsmouth I am further indebted to Mr. Alfred T. Everitt :
1260. Thomas de Singleton
This Vicar was party to a deed of this date, by which he was to receive and enjoy all the tithes and oblations of the town of Portsmouth, on payment to the Prior and Convent of Southwick as Rector of the Church, the sum of one hundred shillings annually.
1374. 18th November. William Chamberleyne
1375-6. 28th February. Roger Puttenham
1378. 16th December. Thomas Andrew
1380. 15th December. John Bakere
1386. 23rd July. Thomas Skendelby
1388. 23rd July. Richard Wydebrigge
1404. 29th May. Walter Bury
1434. John Tone
This Vicar appears in a deed of this date, in which the Prior and Convent of Southwick agree to release the Vicar from the payment of the above mentioned 100 shillings per annum, on condition that he, " the said John Tone, and all his successors, Vicars of Portsmouth, shall repair and maintain for ever the chancel of the said church, in all its erections, windows, glass and other things thereunto appertaining, at their own cost and expense for ever."
1507. Robert Adam
This Vicar, who was appointed in May, 1507, was the chief instrument in securing the removal of the ban of the " greater excommunication" under which Portsmouth had lain for fifty years in consequence of the murder of Adam Moleyns, Bishop of Chichester. He was instituted to the Vicarage of Portsea in December, 1509, whereupon he resigned that of Portsmouth.
1523. William Watson
He is mentioned in the will of William Elyot, of Portsmouth, dated this year, in which a sum of 40s. was left to him to pray for William Elyot's " soule in the bedroll." There are some interesting bequests relating to St. Thomas's Church mentioned in this will, viz :—" To the High Awter, 20d. ; to our Lady Close light, 20d. ; to the Sepulture light, 12d. ; to the Rode light, 12d. ; and to every other light in the same church iiijd." These lights were large wax candles which were kept constantly burning before the " Rood" (a carved representation of the Crucifixion placed on a screen dividing the chancel from the nave) and other images in the church, and bequests for maintaining these votive lights were of frequent occurrence in pre-Reformation time.
1534. Nicholas Damyas
15—. Christopher Threder
He was presented to the Vicarage of Portsea on the 2nd November, 1563, but the date of his presentment to Portsmouth is not known. He died in 1579, and desired in his will to be buried in the Chancel of St. Thomas's Church. He appears to have been anything but a wealthy churchman, judging by the bequests in his will. To his only daughter, Elizabeth Penser, he left " the soneding bord in the parlour, and ii pewter platters, and ii pewter dishes, and one bacon hogg, a goose, and a gander," to the " Poreman's box " at Portsmouth he left 12d.,and a similar amount to the " Poreman's box " at Portsea.
1579. David Evans
He was instituted to the Vicarage of Portsmouth on the 28th October, 1579. He also held the Vicarage of Portsea, to which he was instituted on the 1st of October, 1579.
1605. John Ravenscroft
He is mentioned as Vicar of this parish at this date in the will of Joshua Saviour, the Master Gunner of Portsmouth. Nothing is known of him besides. It is possible he was a nonresident Vicar, for at this time one Mr. George Widley was doing duty here. Mr. Widley, who had been Minister of God's Word at Dartmouth, came to reside at Portsmouth in or before 1602, for in that year he was admitted to be a burgess of this Corporation. He appears to have been a very popular preacher, and Sir Benjamin Berry, the Deputy Governor of Portsmouth, who died in 1606, makes the following bequest to him in his will. "Moreover desiring the contynuance of Mr. George Widley, Preacher of the Word of God, his residence in the Towne of Portsmouth, I doe herewith freely give and bequeath him one hundred poundes sterling both for the bettering his maintenance, as also in testimony of my love to him, desiring him to bestow a funerall sermon at my buryall." Sir Benjamin desired also that his body be buried in " the Church of Portesmouth without anie ceremonie, save only black."
1637. Robert Halle
Vicar of Portsea, 11th October, 1634; Vicar of Portsmouth, 1637.
1641. Walter Flaye, M.A.
Instituted in this year, but the living was shortly afterwards sequestered by the Parliament.
1643. William Kingsmell
Presented to the Vicarage of Portsea in 1642. Mr. Kirby, in his " Winchester Scholars," gives his name as Vicar of Portsmouth, but mentions no date.
1644. Nathaniel Tucker
1656. Henry Bartlett
He was admitted a Burgess of the Corporation on 27th August, 1656.
1657. Benjamin Burgess
He was admitted a Burgess of this Corporation in 1659, Calamy refers to him as " a wise man, and very active, especially at the time of the Restoration. He preached a famous sermon before the Parliament at the Abbey in that juncture." The Presbyterians, to which party, no doubt, Benjamin Burgess belonged, are stated to have been the chief instruments in effecting the restoration of Charles II. Charles assured them that the existing state of the Church should not be altered ; yet within two years of his regaining the throne the Act of Uniformity was passed, which enjoined the sole use of the Common Prayer book in public worship, required from every clergyman a declaration of entire assent and consent to its contents, and an acknowledgment to the duty of passive obedience and non-resistance to royal authority under any circumstances. Mr. Burgess was one of the 2000 or more clergymen who would not conform to this, and on the 24th August, 1662, he was ejected from his living at Portsmouth, along with the Rev. Thomas Bragge, Chaplain to the Garrison. A few days later these two gentlemen, with a large number of the Aldermen and Burgesses of Portsmouth, about 90 altogether, were expunged from the Corporation as being " disaffected to his Majestic and his Government." Mr. Burgess appears to have committed some further offence against the new laws, for which he was imprisoned; an officer of the garrison, writing on November 9th of the same year, to Sir Charles Berkeley, Governor of Portsmouth, states that he has "taken bail of Mr. Burgess not to draw the inhabitants to Nonconformity ; he promises to leave the town speedily, and is released to prepare the sooner."
Although Mr. Burgess was so firm on this occasion, it would appear that he was not always as steadfast in his principles, if we may believe the following account which appears in the works of Pere Cyprian de Gamache :-
" In the month of February, 1661, the Queen left London to return to France. She embarked at Gravesigne (Gravesend) with the King, her son, who came to escort her. Madame Henriette, future consort of Monsieur the Duke of Orleans, was so sick at sea that it was necessary to land at Portsmouth. During the 15 days or thereabouts which their Majesties staved there I went several times to hear the minister of that Huguenot town preach, and had afterward some conferences (conversations) with him, the success of which was very satisfactory. Ile admitted that there was error in the religion which he professed ; that the Catholic was the safest, but that he could not follow it, having a wife and children, and no other means of subsistence but his living. I mentioned this to the Queen, who ordered me to assure the minister that, if he would become a Catholic, he should not want for assistance, and that, for her part, she would settle on him for life an annuity equal to the produce of his living. With many thanks to the Queen, he said that, being unable to execute his design immediately, he would take the liberty to write to her grand almoner and me, when we should have arrived in Paris. I know not whether his letter were lost, or whether he was induced to change his resolution — God so permitting — having refused His favours when they were offered to him. Be this as it may, when at a distance, we never could learn anything concerning him, nor ever heard talk of him through any that we met with. The illness of Madame Henriette rendered our stay at Portsmouth extremely dull ; and, beside, the place itself has nothing agreeable about it but a fine harbour, being destitute of all other amusing things."
Mr. Burgess died on the 24th November, 1673, aged 44, and was buried just within the chancel entrance of St. Thomas's Church, where his tombstone may still be seen.
1662. John Loton
Was recommended for the living by the Duke of York, but whether he obtained it is not rightly known. In any case he could have held it but a very short time, as Thomas Heather was appointed the following year.
1663. Thomas Heather, M.A.
Chaplain of the Garrison and Vicar of Portsmouth in 1663, where he remained for 33 years until his death. He also held the appointment of Chaplain to King Charles 1I.
Mr. Heather appears to have done much for the improvement of the Church, and the property belonging thereto, during the time he held the living. In addition to his efforts towards the rebuilding of the edifice he is said to have built a Vicarage house in the High-street, at his own expense. In October, 1691, being then about 70 years of age, he took unto himself a second wife, being married at St. Mary's Church, Portsea, to Mrs. Cicely Williams, widow of Alderman Samuel Williams, twice Mayor of Portsmouth. This lady died in June, 1695, and the Vicar himself died in December of the following year.
1697. William Ward
This Vicar was appointed to the living in compliance with the petition of the Mayor, John Muncher, and about fifty of the principal inhabitants of Portsmouth. All went well for a time. The Nonconformists, however, taking advantage of the " Toleration Act," were gradually working their way into the more important public offices. Henry Seager, a prominent dissenter, was Mayor in 1698-9, and rendered himself famous by carrying the Mace to the Presbyterian Meeting House during the year of his Mayoralty. Mr. Francis Williams, the Presbyterian minister, died in the early part of the year 1703, and was succeeded by the well-known Rev. Simon Browne, who, although at this time only 23 years of age, had acquired a considerable reputation amongst the Dissenters. With the advent of this gentleman Mr. Ward's troubles appear to have commenced. At the Easter Vestry in 1703, the Vicar's right to choose one of the churchwardens was questioned, and a controversy took place then, and at each succeeding Easter Vestry, until in 1709 the Vicar insisted on maintaining his right, and nominated one Mark Cullimore as his warden ; but a majority of " troublesome parishioners" excluded him, and chose Eli Stanyford and Anthony Colebrook ; and further, at the subsequent visitation, they induced the Archdeacon to swear their two nominees to the office of churchwardens for the year ensuing. Upon this the Vicar appealed to the Bishop of Winchester, who, on the 28th of June, inhibited Stanyford and Colebrook, pending the hearing of the appeal.
The following is from Mr. Ward's account of what happened subsequently : — " On Monday, the 4th of July, the inhibited churchwardens arrested the Vicar, as they pretended, for having in his possession the goods and chattels of the Church (whereas the Parish Plate and linen was in their possession and the ornaments for the Communion Table and Pulpit were in a strong chest fast locked in the Church, and only the surplice and hood remained with the Vicar) for keeping and using of which he was sent to Winchester with a Bailiff to attend him, where he remained prisoner 13 days, till he was set at liberty by a Supersedias, having first given, as was required, three hundred pounds bail."
Upon two occasions the Churchwardens refused the Vicar the use of the church plate. The first time this occurred the Sacrament could not be administered, but on the second occasion the Vicar chose to administer it in glasses rather than dismiss the communicants. " They even laid claim to the pulpit, and threatened to pull Mr. Cocking (Chaplain to Colonel Harrison's regiment) out of it if he presumed to preach for the Vicar in the morning, although they had given him leave to preach for Mr. Jones, the Lecturer, in the afternoon. Under the circumstances Mr. Cocking declined to preach, and Mr. Ward preached himself."
In August the Judge of the Consistory Court decreed " that the swearing of Anthony Colebrook into the office of Churchwarden was contrary to the 89th Canon, and therefore null and void ; that Cullimore, chosen by the Vicar, and not Colebrook, was legally chosen."
In the following month the churchwardens, with the consent of the majority of the vestry, seized on the Vicar's perquisites for burying strangers in the churchyard (the main branch of his income), and also confiscated the fees for " occasional sacraments in the Parish Church of Portsmouth, besides the monthly for qualifying gentlemen, both for sea and land, for their offices, who are very liberall in their offerings."
For fourteen months the churchwardens collected these fees, which they never refunded to the Vicar. It is possible they were expended in purchasing the large gilt ship which acts as a vane on the cupola of the church. On the flag at the stern of the vessel is the date " 1710," and also the letters " M.C.E.S.," evidently intended for the initials of Mark Cullimore and Eli Stanyford, the churchwardens.
For more than three years was the poor Vicar harassed with law suits—six different actions, in different Courts—until in March, 1713, Mr. Ward called the churchwardens to account at the Winchester Assizes, when " the Judge, upon a full hearing of the cause, which lasted three hours, did most pathetically charge the jury to consider the case, and give Mr. Ward adequate damages ; but though they were sent back, they would bring him in but £20, whereas £200 had been too little, considering the grievous expense Mr. Ward had been at in defending himself against a combination of the Church's enemies."
From this time forth Mr. Ward appears to have had a quieter time, although the troubles he had passed through probably shortened his life. He died on the 26th of March, 1724, at the comparatively early age of 50 years, and was buried under the altar of St. Thomas's Church.
1724. Anthony Bliss, D.D.
There was a grand wedding at St. Thomas's Church on the 27th of August, 1725, when this Vicar led to the altar Susanna, daughter of William Hamond, and sister-in-law of John White, then Mayor of Portsmouth. The marriage was solemnized by the Right Rev. Dr. Richard Willis, Bishop of the Diocese. Mr. Bliss thus became connected, not only with the Whites and Hamonds, but also with the Carter family, and the relationship thus formed doubtless accounts for the peaceful period enjoyed by the church during the time Mr. Bliss held the living. Dr. Bliss died in December, 1738, having had the misfortune to lose his wife some five years previous. They were both buried at St. Thomas's Church.
1739. William Langbaine, M.A.
This Vicar held the living for some time, when he is said to have gone into retirement, and refused to see any one for many years.
1745. Henry Taylor, M. A.
This Vicar was among the last of the Anglican divines of the Clarkean school, but he outran his master, openly espousing the Apollinarian heresy. This he did in a series of letters (1771-1777) purporting to be the " Apology" of Ben Mordecai for embracing Christianity. Like his father, he was also noted as a wit and a writer of humorous epigram. Desirous of doing all the good that he could, he was accustomed to occupy his congregation rather loriger than was the custom of his curate, so that it was an understood thing with the bakers, that when the Vicar preached; the joints and puddings of the parishioners should be ready for the table half an hour later than ordinary.
Mr. Taylor was the author of the following lines on a local incident :
Honest William, an easy and good-natured fellow, Would a little too oft get a little too mellow.
Body coachman was he to an eminent brewer, No better e'er sat on a box to be sure.
His coach was kept clean, and no mother or nurses Took that care of their babes that he took of his horses.
He had these—ay, and fifty good qualities more ; But the business of tippling could ne'er be got o'er.
So his master effectually mended the matter By hiring a man who drank nothing but water.
Now William, says he, you see the plain case, Had you drank as he does you had kept a good place.
Drank water quoth William, had all men done so You'd never have wanted a coachman, I trow.
They are soakers, like me, whom you load with reproaches,
That enable you brewers to ride in your coaches.
1785. Henry Oglander, S.T.B.
This Vicar appears to have resided for the most part at his residence at Fairy Hill, in the Isle of Wight, and in 1797 a Vestry was called for the purpose of inducing the Vicar, or an approved curate, to make the parish his constant residence. The Vicar thereupon appointed the Rev. John Garrett Bussell to be resident curate. Mr. Bussell was an energetic young man, and was the first to introduce evening services at the church, or as they were then called, " Evening Lectures." Mr. Bussell was resident curate here for 20 years. In 1799 he married Sarah, daughter of William Carter (four times Mayor of Portsmouth), and niece of Sir John Carter.
In 1804 the Rev. Henry Oglander resigned his Portsmouth living on his being appointed Rector of Widley and Vicar of Wymering.
1805. Henry Sissmore, L.L.B.
He belonged to an old Portsmouth family who were living here in 1666. He resided at Winchester, and there is a charge in the Churchwardens' accounts in 1807 for " expenses to and from 'Winchester to attend the Vicar on business, £3 11s. 6d." On the death of the Rev. Henry .0glander, in 1814, he was appointed Rector of Widley and Vicar of Wymering, and thereupon resigned the Vicarage of Portsmouth. During his Vicarship the duties were performed by the resident curate, Mr. Russell.
1814. Charles Brune Renville, M.A.
This Vicar was a wealthy man, and being without family he expended his wealth freely for the benefit of the parishes under his care. He built a new vicarage house in the High-street, subscribed £2.50 towards the building of St. Mary's Church as a chapel of ease for St. Thomas's, and afterwards endowed it with £1,000. He also contributed largely to the funds for erecting St. Paul's Church, Southsea, and All Saints' Church, Landport, and on their completion he presented to the former a silver Communion service for use in the church, and to the latter he gave the fine stained glass window at the east end of the church. I contemporary historian writes :—" Charles Brune Renville was certainly the most munificent churchman that from the foundation of the church by Richard Toclive, Bishop of Winchester, or its consecration by Bishop Godfrey de Lucy in 1196, to his resignation of the living in 1837, ever filled the vicarage of Portsmouth." On the 12th July, 1838, he was appointed Vicar of Ramble and Hound, and thereupon resigned his other benefices. After his death in 1849 his widow, who was a daughter of Dr. James Meik, Physician to Portsmouth Garrison, erected and dedicated to his memory the painted window in the south transept of St. Thomas's Church.
1839. John Poulett McGhie, M.A.
For two years before the resignation of the Rev. C. B. Renville, Mr. McGhie had been officiating here as curate, and it was at the earnest request of the inhabitants that the College of Winchester appointed him to the living. He died on the 13th of January, 1868.
1868. Edward Pierce Grant, M.A.
The late Canon Grant's family had long been connected with Portsmouth. His grandfather, Thomas Grant, Esq., held the important position of " Clerk of the Cheque" in Portsmouth Dockyard at the commencement of the present century ; his father, the Rev. Robert Grant, was the first Vicar of St. Paul's, Southsea, and his uncle, Sir Thomas Grant, Chief Resident Officer of the Royal Clarence Victualling Yard, was the inventor of the well-known machine for condensing salt water into fresh, and also the machine used at the Victualling Yard for the manufacture of biscuits for the Royal Navy. The Canon's maternal grandfather was Sir George Garrett, a prominent member of a family which can be traced back in the Portsmouth Records for more than two centuries.
A memoir of Canon Grant appeared in the Hampshire Telegraph on May 27th, 1899, from which the following concise summary of his life's work in this town is taken.
For more than a quarter of a century Canon Grant has taken a leading part in the religious, social, and political life of the borough, and his great influence for good has been felt in almost every direction. As a preacher he was plain, earnest, and convincing ; as a citizen he was ever to the fore in all social movements of a beneficial character ; and as a politician he sacrificed his prospects of promotion by his unswerving fidelity to the Liberal creed. With education and philanthropy his name hasbeen closely associated. He it was who was chiefly instrumental in revivifying the Grammar School ; and for many years he advanced the cause of primary education by his services on the School Board. In the Portsmouth Hospital he manifested abiding interest, and all works of true philanthropy found in him a ready and an effective helper. No man could well have been more popular, and certainly no one could have better deserved popularity than Canon Grant, whose death (which occurred on the 24th of May, 1899) is sincerely mourned by all classes of the community.
1899. Daniel Charles West Darnell
The present Vicar is a son of the Rev. Daniel Darnell, Vicar of Welton, in the county of Northampton. He was instituted to the Vicarage of Portsmouth in November, 1899.
Thus concludes the list according to William Gates. The following was compiled using the commemorative boards in the Cathedral.
1903. Robert Sumner Medlicott M.A.
1915. William Herman David M.A.
1924. Ernest Neville Lovett C.B.E., M.A.
In 1927 St. Thomas's Parish Church became the Portsmouth Cathedral and by virtue of their office the Vicar became the Provost. The incumbent vicar in 1927 was appointed the first Bishop of Portsmouth.
1927. Bernard Williams M.A.
1930. Thomas Heywood Masters C.B.E., M.A.
1939. Eric Noel Porter Goff M.A.
1972. Michael John Nott B.D., F.K.C.
1982. David Staffurth Stancliffe M.A.
1994. Michael Leslie Yorke M.A.
2000. William Taylor - Dean from 2001
1927. Ernest Neville Lovett C.B.E., D.D.
1936. Frank Partridge D.D.
1942. William Louis Anderson D.S.C., D.D.
1949. William Launcelot Scott Fleming D.D.
1960. John Henry Lawrence Phillips D.D.
1975. Archibald Ronald McDonald Gordon M.A.
1985. Timothy John Bavin M.A.
1995. Kenneth William Stevenson M.A., Ph.D., D.D.