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Canon Kewley & His Sisters
People who lived in the Matlocks : Photographs, Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings

The first two photographs below are of Reverend Canon James William Kewley who was the Rector of Matlock for 36 years and one of the friends of Mrs. Robert Wildgoose, whose photograph album these pictures are from. The remaining three pictures are of at least two of Canon Kewley's sisters. Marian Wildgoose, the photographer, lived at The Gables on Chesterfield Road and then at Stoneycroft, the house she had built on Cavendish Road.

The album now belongs to the Ash family and was in the possession of Ray Ash's step-grandmother Ash (Dora May Wheeldon before her marriage), who was for many years companion and housekeeper to Mrs. Wildgoose at Stoneycroft. Unfortunately Mrs. Wildgoose was not very good at putting dates in her album, so some of the dates are only approximations. The five photographs from the album are published here with kind permission of Ray Ash.

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Starkholmes Sunday School Picnic, about 1920/1

Mrs. Robert Wildgoose

Canon James William Kewley

Photographed in the grounds of The Gables, which later became part of Lilybank Hydro.

Canon Kewley was one of twelve children born to James and Eleanor Kewley at Castletown, on the Isle of Man. His father worked in the Rolls Office there and the family lived in a house within the castle walls that was originally built for Lord Derby. James William was their second son; he was born on 2 February 1846[1] and baptised 13 days later. He was the elder of two sons who survived their childhood and he had five older sisters. Several sisters came to Matlock to live with James at various times[2].

James had been a pupil at King William's College on the Isle of Man[3] and then studied at Lichfield Theological College[4]. In 1881 he was the Curate of St Werburgh's Church, Derby and was living in Friar Gate; he was also the Principal of Derby Diocesan Theological College[5] for six years. By 1887 he'd moved to a house at 73 Uttoxeter Road in Derby[6], which was close to where one of his sisters lived and worked. It was in the same year he transferred to Matlock and became the Rector[7]. In 1915 he was appointed an honorary Canon of Southwell Cathedral, in succession the late Canon Atkinson[8].

The above photograph was taken in the garden of The Gables, probably between 1900 and 1905.

In his time as Rector James Kewley was involved in a number of Church restoration projects (see links to more info lower down the page). For example Benjamin Bryan, writing in 1903, said that "the present rector having provided the means, the basement of the [church] tower has been opened into the nave by the erection of a four-centre arch of old oak under the front edge of the ringing chamber floor"'[9].

He was very supportive of the soldiers who volunteered and of their families when they were killed. At a Memorial service to commemorate the life of Samuel Henstock in 1915, Rev. Kewley stated that "Matlock is forming its list of young Christian heroes, its highest roll of honour. The names of Guy Bonham Carter, Walter Bagshaw, George Thompson, Sidney Smith and others are there already"[10].

Canon Kewley was to record a Roll of Honour for Matlock during the First World War. He also listed the names of 810 Matlock men who were in uniform in late 1917 and prepared a souvenir for the relatives of both those who were serving and those who had died in the conflict up to that point. It was given to people who attended a Memorial Service in the Church on 18th Nov 1917[11].

In 1920 it was reported that "Canon Kewley, rector of Matlock, is unable to retire because he cannot get a house to live in"[7]. When he finally retired on 21st December 1922[7] James Kewley did not leave Matlock; he moved to "Cronk Beg" on Church Street, not far from the Rectory. James and Harriett Kewley drew up their wills in 1930; they were almost, but not quite, mirror wills.

After he resigned William Nathan Statham wrote a fitting tribute, believing that Canon Kewley's departure would be regretted by "the whole of the inhabitants of the parish, of whatever creed or denomination"[12].

"During the 36 years of his Rectorship the power he had exercised to get the best out of all that were brought into contact with him, made it possible for him to have had the immense satisfaction of seeing more work carried to a satisfactory conclusion in the way of extensions to the Fabric and the beautifying of the same, than had been the case in any previous Rectorship. His great object was that of making God's House as good and beautiful as possible, as well as making his parishioners fit to go and worship therein[12]."

When he celebrated his 86th birthday in 1932 it was said that he then still has excellent health. According the the newspaper report the name of the home he shared with his surviving sister Harriett was named "Cronk-e-Creagh" meaning "Hill of the Heart" in Manx[13]. However, when he passed away almost three years later it was revealed that had been in failing health for some time, and had been very seriously ill recently. "His notable and arresting figure has been seen about town rarely of late" and his presence was clearly missed[14].

He died, aged 88, on 25 January 1935[15] and was buried in St. Giles' churchyard together alongside three of his sisters[16]. Dr. Pearce, Bishop of Derby, and Matlock's then Rector the Rev. Urling-Smith conducted the service. He was buried in the family vault, wearing his priest's cassock, surplice, slippers and stole. Amongst those present were W. N Statham who had been churchwarden for much of Kewley's incumbency, the Council Chairman Lubin G Wildgoose, Rev. Chippett of Riber School and W. H. Nixon of All Saints' Church as well as other local clergymen[17].

Another sister, Fanny Dodd, is also buried in the churchyard and his brother in law Thomas is mentioned on the headstone[16].

Amongst the bequests in James Kewley's Will was a gift of £800 to King William's College, IOM, to found an exhibition to Oxford or Cambridge and a £150 science prize from the income. Other gifts included £100 each to St. Giles' Church, St. Andrew's Home - for giving any boys a start in life (something he took a keen interest in), the Derby Diocesan College for Training Schoolmistresses and Ernest Bailey's Secondary School for the income for prizes for religious knowledge[7]. Canon Kewley was still president of St. Andrew's Home when he died[17].

Canon Kewley photographed a few years later.

Eleanor Christian Kewley (16 Feb 1837 - 6 Sep 1916)

Mrs. Wildgoose has labelled this picture "Miss Kewley" but it is a photograph of Eleanor Christian Kewley. It was the convention of the time to call the elder of spinster sisters "Miss" followed by her surname; to distinguish between them, the younger sister or sisters would have had her Christian name, or her initials, inserted into her title. The photograph was taken in the Rectory Gardens.[18]

Eleanor was a Certificated Teacher at Four Roads, Rushen in 1871; ten years later she was the School Mistress of East Street (or East Road) Girls School in Rushen, Isle of Man. She had retired by 1891 and was living with both her widowed mother and younger sister Harriet in Malew, Castletown. Some time after their mother died in 1893 the two sisters moved to Matlock[19] and Eleanor was with their brother at the Rectory by the time of the 1901 census[2]. She continued her work with children and was the superintendent of the Sunday School. In one obituary it was said that she had been ailing for some time[20].

Matlock & Matlock Bath Newspaper Cuttings, Jul 1914 - Nov 1918 has a brief report of her death in 1916.
Eleanor Kewley's Memorial in St. Giles' Church. She is buried in the churchyard.

Margaret Jane Kewley (11 Mar 1840 - 30 Jan 1922)

Margaret, too, had worked as a teacher. She was at her brother's home in 1891; it is assumed she was visiting him then, although the census does not say so[2]. There was a strong resemblance to her brother.

In 1881 she was visiting Canon Kewley's eldest sister, Mrs. Catherine Hurst, in Wigan; her occupation was given as School Teacher. Maria Goddard, another teacher, was also visiting the Hursts. The same year Margaret joined the staff of the Lichfield (later Lichfield & Southwell) Diocesan School or Training College in Derby[21] and by 1877 was employed as the lady superintendent[22]. She was living at 65 Uttoxeter Road, Derby, and was there in both 1895[23] and 1901[6].

After her brother left the College she "worked with three principals, her energy never slackening and her work maintaining its high standard"[24]. She retired in 1903, having been actively associated with the College for 22 years[25]. Her final home was in Matlock.

She was referred to as "Miss" Kewley after Eleanor's death. When she and Harriett attended the wedding of Miss Olive Marsden-Smedley in 1919 her attire was not mentioned, but Harriett's dress "was of black satin worn with a brown hat trimmed with ostrich feathers"[24].

Margaret was buried in St. Giles' churchyard on Thursday, 2nd February 1922 in the same grave as her brother and sister, named above, and her third sister Harriet Elizabeth. Rev. J. W. Chippett of Riber School conducted the service, assisted by Rev. Canon Bater (Principal of the Training College at Derby) and Rev. H. Pattinson. Amongst the floral tributes was one "From the Committee, Staff, and Ex-Students of the Training College, Derby, in remembrance of many years of devoted service and Faithful friendship. R.I.P."[21]

Margaret Kewley's Will details

Harriet Elizabeth Kewley (1851 - 15 Apr 1934)

Harriet Elizabeth[25] also did not marry; she and Fanny were still with their parents at Castle House in 1881 but she later lived with her brother and two of her sisters in Matlock[2]. In 1901 she was back on the Isle of Man, visiting their sister Fanny and her husband at their home ("Cronky Chree"). Katherine (Kate) H. Bailey, Ernest Bailey's sister, was accompanying her.

Following her death it was said that Harriett had kept house for her brother James for the greater part of half a century[26]. She was 82 years old when she passed away. Her friend, Mrs. Robert Wildgoose, was amongst those who attended her funeral on 18 April[27]. Although Kate Bailey had died in 1928, her brother was also at the graveside to pay his respects as were the two children of her sister Fanny. As Pamela Ward observed James outlived them all.

The following year the final home she and James had shared in Starkholmes, and which she owned, was auctioned at the Horse Shoes Hotel on Matlock Green by W. H. Marriott[28].

Photographed in the Conservatory at The Gables.
Presumably also of Miss M. Kewley although it may have
been Harriet.

There is a photo of Harriett, with her brother and their good friend Mrs. Robert Wildgoose.

Bible dedication and accompanying letter sent to a WW1 soldier

Canon Kewley encountered one of the former boy choristers of St. Giles' Church when he was home on leave in 1918. Arnold Hursthouse[29] was conscripted on 6 Oct 1917, about a month after his eighteenth birthday. Having previously worked at Lea Mills in the mechanics shop, this stood him in good stead when he entered the services as he became a fitter.

The Rector sent him a small New Testament which he dedicated to Arnold inside the cover (shown on the right). It eventually passed down to Arnold's daughter. The very warmly worded covering letter (below) was tucked inside.


James Kewley's letter to Arnold Hursthouse, 1918

Page 1   Page2
p1 p2

Page 3   Page 4

Canon Kewley wrote:
[page 1] The Rectory, Matlock
19th September 1918
My dear Arnold,
I send you the pocket Testament which I promised and which I am sure you will not forget to use.
I was much pleased to see you looking so well and happy, evidently
[page 2] a good and loyal soldier of the King and ready for such service as may be required of you. Don't forget that you are a soldier of the King of Kings as well, and that He values and remembers every bit
[page 3] of loyal service which you try to render Him. Commit yourself to His care, do your duty, and fear nothing.
We think of you all every day in Church, and I believe that already arrangements are being
[page 4] made for your Christmas presents. Matlock people think with great affection of their boys at the Front or preparing to go.
May God bless you.
Your sincere friend,
J. W. Kewley

View even more about the church by clicking on the images below:


You may like to read more onsite information:
Rectors of St Giles from 1300
Church Fundraising, 1859, 1886 - 1895: see Church Bazaar at Matlock, 1895
St. Giles Church Hatches, Matches & Dispatches

Photograph scans © Ray Ash.
Letter and Hursthouse information © Maureen Smith collection
Research provided by and © Ann Andrews..
Pamela Ward, a descendant of one of the Canon's sisters, has also provided some information.
Intended for personal use only.
If you have any further information about the identity of anyone in the photographs we would like to know. Please contact the web mistress who will pass it on to Ray Ash.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] From obituaries in the Matlock Visitor and the Derbyshire Times, with thanks to Pamela Ward. His christening took place at Castletown St Mary on 15 Feb 1846.

[2] Canon Kewley was living in Matlock with one or more of his sisters in both the 1891 Census and the 1901 Census. By 1911 three sisters - Eleanor Christian, Margaret Jane and Harriet Elizabeth - were living with their brother at The Rectory. He is also listed in the following on site trade directory transcripts: Kelly's Directory, 1908 (officials) | Kelly's Directory 1912 (Private Residents) | Kelly's Directory, 1916 | Kelly's Directory, 1916 (officials).

[3] King William's College register of former pupils, with thanks to Pamela Ward.

[4] Clergy List, 1896.

[5] 1881 census, Derby, RG11/3399 f32 p15 s74.

[6] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1887.

[7] "The Times", 25 July, 1935. Notices of Wills and Bequests.

[8] "Derbyshire Courier," 27 March 1915. Announcement of appointment. He continued in this position until 1925.

[9] Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited.

[10] "Belper News", 25 June 1915.

[11] Beresford, Charles (2007) "The Bath at War, A Derbyshire Community and the Great War", Country Books/Ashridge Press. ISBN 978 1 901214 91 8. Also see Matlock & Matlock Bath War Memorials

[12] "History of Matlock Parish Church ", W. N. Statham, (1925) Printed by Geo. Hodgkinson. Mr. Statham had acted as one of his churchwardens for many years.

[13] "Derbyshire Times", 30 January 1932.

[14] "ibid.", 1 February 1935. Death of Former Matlock Rector. James Kewley was almost 89 years old.

[15] "The Times", 29 Jan 1935. Death announcement, stating that he was Rector at Matlock 1887 - 1922. He had died at Matlock on 25 Jan, aged 88, and his funeral was the 29th. More than one obituary ("Sheffield Independent", 26 January 1935) stated that he was an authority on the Max language.

[16] Memorial Inscriptions, a Surnames Index. Also see: Matlock St Giles, MIs in the Church.

[17] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 26 Jan 1935 and "Nottingham Journal", 30 Jan 1935.

[18] Miss Kewley was christened at Castletown St Mary on 26 Feb 1837.

[19] "Isle of Man Times", 31 December 1898. Amongst a list of "school teachers on pension in the island" was Mrs. [sic] Eleanor C. Kewley. It is not clear whether Eleanor was still living on the Isle of Man at the time, although it is probable that she had not yet moved to Matlock Rectory.

[20] "Sheffield Independent", 8 Sept 1916.

[21] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 10 February 1922. Obituary for Margaret Kewley. The following year, in the same paper, on 30 June 1923 - "Twenty years ago" - also mentioned her and her retirement from the Derby college.

[22] 1901 census.

[23] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1895.

[24] "ibid.", 28 March 1919. Marriage at Christ Church Holloway. Miss Marsden-Smedley married Lieut.-Col. John Henry Foster.

[25] Harriett Elizabeth was baptised at Castletown St Mary on 3 Dec 1851.

[26] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 17 April 1934.

[27] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 19 April 1934. Matlock Funeral. Tributes to Sister of Former Rector.

[28] "Derbyshire Times", 22 February 1935. Sale notice. The Exors. of Miss H. Kewley, Deceased, were to sell "Cronk Beg" with Vacant Possession on completion.

[29] Arnold Walter Hursthouse can be found with his parents in the 1901 census. His RAF service number was 100806. He lived with his parents at 2 Dean Hill Villas and his father was already serving in the Royal Engineers.