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Rectors at St Mary's
Rectors at St Mary's
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Many of the past Rectors of Old Swinford have been extremely influential personalities in their own right and the Rectory has been home to some colourful characters including Charles Henry Craufurd (right) who caused a major scandal in 1867 by marrying his cook!

Simon Ford D.D.
Devon-born Dr Simon Ford was a descendent of the founder of Wadham College and an acquaintance of many of the distinguished men of his day, including Sir Christopher Wren. In later life he became chaplain to the King and the Lord Mayor of London. Old Swinford was his last living, which he accepted in 1676, due to ill-health and when aged 57. He finally died at the age of 80!
Ford was a great scholar and fiery preacher. Many of his sermons were published nationally, especially those preached at times of great state occasions. One sermon, famous in its day, concerned the judgement of God on a Kingswinford man, John Duncalfe, who had first denied stealing a bible and predicted that his hands would rot if the accusation were true. Whereupon his hands and feet actually did begin to rot away, and this strange happening was witnessed by hundreds of people before he died in June 1677 after eventually confessing his sin.

William Halifax D.D.
Ford was succeeded in 1699 by Dr William Halifax, a Lincolnshire man who came to Old Swinford from Aleppo, where he had been chaplain to the British merchants in Syria. He was a scholar and Fellow of Corpus Christi Colleg, Oxford. He collected coins and manuscripts. Like many Rectors of his time, he was a pluralist and was buried at his other church, St Michael's, Salwarpe in 1722.

George Wigan D.D.
Dr George Wigan was then appointed to the Old Swinford living and held it for 54 years! He was also a learned man, having been a Fellow of Christ Church and Principal of New Inn Hall, Oxford.

Thomas Philip Foley
Thomas Foley was Rector from 1797 to 1835. He was a reather eccentric man. In his youth he was renowned for being the best-dressed undergraduate at Cambridge. It was in the 1790s that he met the prophetess Joanna Southcott in London. He became her most important supporter and for a few months in the summer of 1803 she came to live at St Mary's Rectory. It was here that her famous sealed box (containing the predictions that she made each year on 31 December) was deposited between June 1825 and Foley's death in 1835.
Foley is reputed to have kept his white horse ready saddled in the rectory stables, so that he might ride to the New Jerusalem once the Divine Shiloh (Messiah) had been born to Joanna. She believed herself to be with child when at the age of 64 her body began to swell in the spring of 1814, but alas it was a phantom pregnancy. She died the following January.

Charles Henry Craufurd
For a period of forty years following the dpearture of T.P. Foley, the living was held by the Rev'd Charles Henry Craufurd, the son of the gallant Major General Robert Craufurd of Peninsular War fame (nicknamed 'Blackjack' and killed at the capture of Rodrigo). Craufurds sermons were full of pungent wit. In 1865 he deliberately defied the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as his own diocesan bishop, when he refused to have a day of humiliation in the parish.
Two years later he caused a sensation when he married his pious but socially inferior cook, Mary. She was 27 years old at the time. On 29 March 1867 he delivered a sermon in defence of his marriage. It is said that the church was packed to overflowing an hour before the service began. He told his congregation that he preferred the company of a lady who dropped her aitches to that of a 'mushroom nobility'. The so-called scandal was reported in the national newspapers of the day.

A plaque on the west wall of the church lists the following Rectors and Patrons of Old Swinford:








Robert de Norwyco


Bernard de Bruys




Robert of Dunclent



John of Willeshampsted






Philip Lee


Hugh Burnel de Holgot and Weoley

John Hulle



Nicholas Aston


Hugh Burnel

John Burton


Johanna de Beauchamp

Lady de Bergavenny

John Hunt



Roger Tyrehere



Thomas Pereson


Dean and Chapter of Windsor

Richard Kynges


Anna Seyntleger and Margaret Boleyn

John Mungie



Richard Hall


Winefred Jerveys

John Laugherne


John Seyntleger

Richard Mauncell


John Lyttleton

Richard Hottofte


Muriel Lyttleton and Elizabeth I

William Harewell M.A.


John Hope and Job Best

Jervis Bryan  

(ejected in 1662)



Robert Peirson



Edward Eccleston


Thomas Foley of Witley

Simon Ford D.D.


Thomas Foley of Witley

William Halifax D.D.


Thomas Foley of Witley

George Wigan D.D.


Thomas 1st Lord Foley

Robert Foley M.A.


Thomas 2nd Lord Foley

Thomas Philip Foley M.A.


Thomas 4th Lord Foley

Charles Henry Craufurd M.A.


The Earl of Dudley

Henry Downing M.A.


The Earl of Dudley

Charles Samuel Wordsworth


The Earl of Dudley

Alfred Bell Timbrell M.A.

(Hon. Canon of Worcester)


The Earl of Dudley

Ithel George Owen M.A.

(Hon. Canon of Worcester)


The Earl of Dudley

Herbert Henry Williams M.A.

(Hon. Canon of Worcester)


The Bishop of Worcester

Arthur Vincent Hurley M.A.  C.B.E.

(Hon. Canon of Worcester, Canon Emeritus of Salisbury, Archdeacon of Dudley)


The Bishop of Worcester

Henry Lewis Davies M.A.

(Hon. Canon of Worcester)


The Bishop of Worcester

David Owain Bell M.A.

(Hon. Canon of Worcester)


The Bishop of Worcester

Greville Shelly Cross

(Hon. Canon of Worcester)


The Crown

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