Thame Local History
The Vicars of Thame

The following details of the vicars of Thame is taken from the sources listed at the foot of this page, and is predominantly derived from Lee. The list includes a number of known 'surrogates', who acted on behalf of the vicar at various times. The date ranges are estimates and based on best information.

Aelfric 1066?
There are on record some notes believed to have been made by a scribe of Remigius between 1067 and 1072 referring to a 'clerk' at Thame called Aelfric (Elurich in the Norman spelling). There is also mention in these notes of a priest or 'presbiter' called Wulfric (Uuluurich in Norman spelling), but he is not directly associated with Thame.
Remigius was the Norman Bishop of Dorchester who had succeeded to the see of Dorchester, and was about to transfer the seat of the see from Dorchester to Lincoln. It is just possible that Aelfric was an Anglo Saxon clerk, or cleric, at Thame at the time of the Norman Conquest.

Stephen de Langford (1273 - 1293?)
Presented by Richard Meopham, Dean of Lincoln Cathedral, presumably the first vicar under the new vicarage, which was instituted in 1274.

Jacobus de Freston or Alfreston (1293 - 1318)
Presented by Thomas de Sutton, prebendary of Thame and Archdeacon of Northhampton. Would have taken up his duties during or just after the forces of Edward St John had been driven from the church.

William de Romseye (1318 - 1324)
Presented by Gilbert de Middleton, prebendary of Thame and Archdeacon of Northhampton.

Robertus Leuce (1324 - 1326)
Presented by Gilbert de Middleton, prebendary of Thame and Archdeacon of Northhampton.

Richardus de Conyngesby (1326 - 1340)
Presented by Gilbert de Middleton, prebendary of Thame and Archdeacon of Northhampton.

Richard Elys (1340 - 1361)
A local man, member of a prominent Thame family of landowners and merchants (mentioned in the VCH, not Lee).

Nicholas Bricklesworth (1361 - 1376)
Presented by Hugh Pelegrini, proctor of the Bishop of Albano, Cardinal and prebendary of Thame.

William Weltone (1376 - 1378)
Rector of Surfleet in Lincolnshire, exchanged his rectory for the vicarge of Thame with Nicholas Bricklesworth on 27th March 1376.

John de Towersey (1378 - 1414?)
A local man, may have been the John Lucas below (according to the VCH).

John Dormer (1414 - 1440)
Presented by John Walkelyne, prebendary of Thame.

Sir John Lucas(1440 -1448)
No record of presentation, styled ' vicar'.

Sir John Dormer (1448 - 1452)
No record of presentation.

Robert Sybford (1452 - 1454)
Presented by William Chedworth, proctor of John Chedworth, prebendary of Thame from 1458.

John Mason (1454 - 1469)
No record of presentation, styled 'parson'. There are many references to 'Jon Mason' in the Churchwardens accounts of 1443, when the Churchwardens were rebuilding part of the church. George Neville became the prebendary in 1454, the year that John Mason is mentioned as 'parson'.

John Alderson (1469 - 1503)
Buried in Thame Church.

George Perey (1503 - 1503)
Presented by Adrian Tabarde, prebendary of Thame.

John Parker (1503 - 1536)
Presented by Adrian Tabarde, prebendary of Thame, and accused of dealing in counterfeit money. His living in the valor ecclesiasticus was valued at 18 a year.

Richard Martyn (1520)
Not a vicar, but the Chantry Priest, perhaps carrying out some of the duties of the vicar.

William Goodrich (1536 - 1541)
Appointed in 1536 by John Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, through a grant from the prebendary of Thame, Dr John Rayne, who was killed in 1536 during the Lincoln uprising.

Robert Willerton (1541 - 1546)
Appointed by George Henneage, Dean of Lincoln and prebendary of Thame.

Edward Daiborne (1546 - 1550)
Appointed by George Henneage, Dean of Lincoln and prebendary of Thame.

John Collyns (1547)
Not a vicar, but the Chantry Priest, perhaps carrying out some of the duties of the vicar. Appointed in 1547, the year in which the chantries were dissolved, so he would not have been Thame Chantry Priest for very long.

John Lamnott (1550 - 1551)
Instituted vicar in 1550.

William Forrest (1551 - 1552)
A former Cistercian monks at Thame Park Abbey, dissolved in 1539. Wrote a poem concerning the visit of King Henry VIII to Thame in 1530 with Anne Boleyn and Katherine of Aragon, sympathising with Katherine.

Edward Fellowes (1552 - 1557)
Instituted vicar in 1552.

Francis Hall (1557 - 1588)
May have been deprived of the rectory of Aston Sandford by Queen Elizabeth I for 'favouring the old order' in 1558. Signed 'vicar' at Thame in 1557, but not instituted at Thame until 1559. Possibly acting as vicar at Thame at a time when the advowson had lapsed.

Thomas Hall (1588 - 1589)
Styled 'minister' in 1588. The adowson had lapsed. Francis and Thomas Hall may have been related and may have been recruited by the Thame Churchwardens.

John Trinder (1589 - 1629)
Instituted vicar of Thame in 1589, and died in 1629. Listed as a surrogate vicar in 1602. Also in his time, Anthony Maunde was a surrogate in 1619 and Giles Sweet was surrogate in 1631.

Thomas Hennant (1631 - 1662)
Thomas Hennant's role as vicar of Thame in the run-up to and throughout the Civil War period is perhaps crucial in any quest to understand how Thame's sixteenth century conservatism and resistance to Church reform was overtaken by a fair measure of Puritan zeal.

He was the first vicar presented to Thame by the post-Reformation owner of the advowson and rectory of Thame, Sir John Thynne, the grandson of the Sir John Thynne who had acquired the prebend of Thame in 1547. The vicars presented by Sir John Thynne, starting with Thomas Hennant, were chosen on the basis of their education, as well other factors. Thomas Hennant was a graduate of Trinity College, Oxford.

In 1630 a house in Thame churchyard, known as Church House, was granted to Thomas Hennant by the Churchwardens for life, in return for his keeping the church accounts.

Hennant was vicar at Thame throughout the whole period of the Civil War and Commonwealth. He is himself listed as a surrogate in 1634, and Gregory Ballard is a surrogate in 1647, with Thomas Bouchier acting as surrogate in 1662.

Hugh Willis (1662 - 1675)
The first vicar to be appointed to Thame following the Restoration of King Charles II, Hugh Willis was again presented by Sir John Thynne, lay owner of the advowson of Thame. He was a reputedly a staunch royalist during his time at New Collge, Oxford, and was headmaster of Thame Grammar School from 1655 to 1675.

His time as vicar must be seen as something of a turning point in the nature of the ministry being offered by St Mary's, which had suffered during the Puritan years. It was during his time that the very near monopoly of Christian worship up to then held by St Mary's began to be threatened by the growth of nonconformist worship.

William Clerke (1675 - 1722)
In 1693 William Clerke also became vicar of Long Crendon, and seems to have had several surrogates acting for him at Thame. Nicholas Villett was surrogate in 1679, and Thomas Middleton, then headmaster of Thame Grammar School, acted as surrogate in 1687.

Samuel Thornbury (1722 - 1751)
A graduate of University College, Oxford, Samuel Thornbury was appointed to the vicarage of Thame by Lord Carteret, Earl Granville, who had acquired the advowson. He was also sometime Rector of Stoke Talmage. He was buried in the choir of St Mary's Church in 1751.

Sampson Letsome (1751 - 1761)
A non-resident and possibly elderly vicar who had been chaplain to Earl Granville, who owned the advowson and was therefore patron of Thame church.

John Newborough (1761 - 1795)
A graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, John Newborough was also appointed to the vicarage of Thame by Lord Carteret, Earl Granville. He was also sometime vicar of Long Crendon and Aston Rowant.

Timothy Tripp Lee (1795 - 1841)
A native of Thame, and the progenitor of several Lee's who were to serve St Mary's Church in various capacities, 'TT' Lee was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, and was appointed to Thame by John Blackall, of Great Haseley, who had acquired the advowson and was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire.

TT Lee was instrumental in the campaign to found Thame's National School, providing elementary education to the children of the Anglican flock, and himself headmaster of Thame Grammar School from 1841. In 1808 William Stockings acted as surrogate, and in 1832 Frederick Lee acted on TT's behalf, for example in dealings over the National School.

James Prosser (1841 - 1872)
A man who had entered the clergy somewhat late in life, James Prosser graduated from St Katherine's College, Cambridge and was presented to the vicarage of Thame by Dr Richard Barry Slater of High Wycombe, who had purchased the advowson of Thame and several other livings.

It was at the time of the appointment of James Prosser to Thame that the parish of Thame was divided into separate livings, with the former chapelries at Towersey, Tetsworth and Sydenham becoming parishes in their own right.

Able to concentrate on ministering to his flock in Thame only, James Prosser increased the number of services at St Mary's, but his theological views attracted not a little criticism, being described as a man with 'pronounced Calvinistic views'. Church attendance at St Mary's, despite the extra services, declined.

Prosser was also criticised for rebuilding Thame Vicarage at a cost of 2000. When several new Nonconformist places of worship opened in the town, the Anglican community forced James Prosser to resign, taking the view that his views had fostered Nonconformist opinion in Thame.

Prosser is listed as a surrogate in 1842.

Elijah Bagot Corbett (1872 - 1893)
Dr Richard Barry Slater had vested the advowson of Thame in a committee of trustees, known as the Peach Trustees. In 1872 it fell to them to appoint a new vicar, and presumably in the wake of the criticisms levelled against James Prosser, there was no shortage of advice on what kind of new vicar the town needed.

The people of Thame were not disappointed and under the Rev. Corbett the congregation of St Mary's began to increase. Within a few years a new organ was installed in the north transept of St Mary's and the church bells were recast. With the area around Thame's railway station being developed, a Mission Church was opened in Chinnor Road in 1884.

Three of Vicar Corbett's sons became well known and accomplished soccer players.

Lee lists Corbett as a surrogate in 1878, and he is one of several vicars to be listed by Lee as acting as surrogate for himself.

T I Cohen (1893 - 1898)

W Hewetson (1898 - 1905)

G C Bowring (1905 - 1934)

C N Middleton-Evans (1934 - 1960)

R H Faulkner (1960 - 1973)

F.G. Lee, 'History and Antiquities, The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Thame', 1883
The Victoria County History for Oxfordshire, Volume VII, 1962
Margaret Bowker, 'The Henrician Reformation, The diocese of Lincoln under John Longland 1521-1547', CUP 1981
Brown and Guest, 'History of Thame', 1936

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