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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 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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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 Elinor 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.

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].

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[10].

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.

He died, aged 88, on 25 January 1935[11] and is buried in St. Giles' churchyard together with three of his sisters[12]. 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[13].

Another sister, Fanny Dodd, is also buried in the churchyard and his brother in law Thomas is mentioned on the headstone[12]. Amongst the bequests in James Kewley's Will were gifts of £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. This last sum was to be applied in prizes for religious knowledge[7]. Canon Kewley was still president of St. Andrew's Home when he died[13].

Canon Kewley photographed a few years later.

Eleanor Christian Kewley

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.

Eleanor (16 Feb 1837 - 6 Sep 1916) was the School Mistress of East Street (or East Road) Girls School in Rushen, Isle of Man in 1881 but was living with her brother at the Rectory in Matlock by the time of the 1901 census[2]. She continued her work with children and was the superintendent of the Sunday School.

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

Both sisters spent part of their lives in Matlock. Margaret (11 Mar 1840 - 30 Jan 1922), who was also a School Mistress, was in Matlock with her brother in 1891[2]. There was a strong resemblance to her brother.

In 1881 she was visiting Canon Kewley's eldest sister, Mrs. Catherine Hurst, in Wigan; the same year she joined the staff of the Lichfield (later Lichfield & Southwell) Diocesan School or Training College in Derby[14] and by 1877 was employed as the lady superintendent[15]. She was living at 65 Uttoxeter Road, Derby, and was there in both 1895[16] and 1901[6]. She is buried in St. Giles' churchyard, in the same grave as her brother and sister, named above, and a third sister Harriet Elizabeth (1852 - 1934) who also lived with her brother in Matlock[2]. After her death it was said that Harriet had kept house for him for the greater part of half a century[17]. She was 82 years old. Her friend, Mrs. Robert Wildgoose, was amongst those who attended her funeral[18].

Margaret Kewley's Will details

Photographed in the Conservatory at The Gables.
Presumably also of Miss M. Kewley.

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


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

Image scans © Ray Ash. Research provided by and © Ann Andrews
Intended for personal use only.
Pamela Ward, a descendant of one of the Canon's sisters, has also provided additional information, including amending some dates given in earlier versions of this page. Please note that at the time of updating this web page the dates given in the IGI for the family are given as birth dates, but it is assumed they are actually dates of baptism.
If you have any further information about the identity of anyone in the photographs we would like to know. Please contact both the web mistress and 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.

[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, 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] 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
[11] "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.

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

[13] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 26 January 1935 and "Nottingham Journal", 30 January 1935.

[14] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 10 February 1922. Obituary for Margaret Kewley.

[15] 1901 census.

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

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

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