"Show me the man you honour, I know by that symptom better than by any other, what kind of man you yourself are." "Only the man of worth can recognise worth in men."


Gervase de Wilford was Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 24 Edward III (1851). A branch of the Clifton family kept the surname of Wilford.

Gamaliel Clyfton was Rector of Wilford in 1508. He became Canon of Windsor in 1522, Dean of Hereford 1529, was buried in Hereford Cathedral 1541. He was of high repute as a Canonist, and was one of the lawyers concerned in the divorces between Henry VIII. and Katherine of Aragon, and Anne of Cleves.

Robert Waring. "The third William Darwin (born 1655), whose mother was a daughter of Erasmus Earle, serjeant-at-law, married the heiress of Robert Waring, of Wilsford, Notts., who also inherited the manor of Elston, near Newark." A marble slab on the right of the altar tells that Robert Waring died in 1662.

Henry Handley, Esq., of Bramcote, who died June 10th, 1650, was the son of Eichard Handley, Esq., of Wilford, and his son Henry was the founder of the Hospitals, or Almshouses, in Stoney Street, Nottingham, since known as Handley's Hospitals. A picture of them is given in Deering's History, page 151. They were pulled down about 1850, and rebuilt in Wollaton Street. He gave £5 per year to the poor of Wilford, and £20 per annum for a lecture to be preached weekly at St. Mary's Church, in the forenoon, for ever. He also gave £4 per annum to be divided, four times a year, among the prisoners at the County Gaol, and other charities.

Gervase Handley gave two houses in Ruddington Lane,, called Glebe Cottages, the rents of which are given to poor widows.

The Rev. Benjamin Carter was Rector of Wilford from 1694 to 1732. In 1727 he conveyed to Trustees property in St. Giles', London, of the annual value of £55—where Messrs. Crosse & Blackwell's works now are. He founded the parochial school, and by a deed directed that £30 per annum should be paid to the schoolmaster, appointed by the Rector, for teaching poor children, £5 for books, £5 to the poor, and £10 to St. Giles', in London, and out of the remainder of the income a boy was to be put apprentice to a trade. By his will he gave £200 to erecting a school, and convenient lodging, and £400 as augmentation to the Charity (see page 260). He also built the Rectory, with its barn, stables, and dovecot. He gave a set of Communion plate, and beautified the chancel, and left a sum to beautify the church, and bequeathed many other charities. He died in 1732, and was buried in the chancel, but no stone marks his resting place. As he has been Wilford's greatest benefactor some memorial in the church should remind the children of the man to whom they are so much indebted.

John Deane. The record on his tombstone is:— "Beneath lieth the Body of John Deane, Esqr., who from the years 1714 to 1720 commanded a Ship of War in the Czar of Muscovey's Service, after which, being appointed by his Britanick Majesty Consul for the Ports of Flanders and Ostend He resided there many Years, and by His Majesty's leave retired to this Village in ye yeear 1738, where he died August the 18th, 1761, In the 82nd year of his age. His Wife, Sarah Deane, lies here also interr'd, Who departed this Life August the 17th, 1761. Aged 81." That is, within one day of each other the aged couple passed away. May we hope that it was true of them, as was said of others—

"Lovely and pleasant in their lives In their deaths they are not divided."

Throsby says:—"He wrote a book of his life, in which it appears that he was once cast upon a desert island, where the crew cast lots for their lives; one was to die to save the rest, dreadful alternative!"

Other particulars are given in Wylie's "Old and New Nottingham," page 146.

The popular writer for boys—Mr. W. H. G. Kingston— has woven the story of Deane's remarkable life into a book forming one of the "Boys' Own Favourite Library." It is entitled "John Deane; Historic Adventures by Land and Sea," and published by Griffith, Farran, Browne & Co., Ltd. In the preface it is stated that Deane was born at Nottingham in 1679. "Though of gentle parentage, in his early days he followed the occupation of a drover. He then went to sea, and became a captain in the Navy; after which he was a Merchant Adventurer. He next took service under Peter the Great, and commanded a Russian Ship of War. On leaving Russia he obtained the post of British Consul at Ostend, held by him for many years. Returning home, he was made a Burgess of his native town, and took up bis abode at the neighbouring village of Wilford, where, in 1760, he died. In the quiet churchyard of that sweet spot his tomb, and that of his beloved wife, Elizabeth, are to be seen.

"His age, fourscore years and one." "After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well."

The book, of 416 pages, must be referred to by those who enjoy fact and fiction blended. It ends with the words: "A more fitting spot in which to await the last hour of life than Wilford can scarcely be imagined, nor sweeter place than its churchyard, in which the mortal may lay down to rest from toil till summoned by the last trump to rise and put on immortality."

Gilbert Wakefield was a scholar at Wilford School in 1765. He was the son of the Rector of St. Nicholas, was a precocious child, who at the age of three could spell the longest words, and at seven was "Instructed in the Latin language"; at sixteen went to Cambridge University, at twenty published a small collection of Latin poems; was ordained at twenty-two, and became a great controversialist, but lacked discretion, and, while aiming at promoting the good of the people, he used such strong language as damaged the causes he advocated. His most successful work was A New Translation of the Testament, with Notes, in three volumes. He was in 1799 prosecuted for libellous and seditious language, and was imprisoned for two years in Dorchester Gaol. His literary labours—Mr. Brown, in "Notts. Worthies," states—included fifty works of different kinds, besides many pamphlets. He died at forty-six, leaving a widow and six children.

Kirke White.
Kirke White.

Henry Kirk White is so thoroughly identified with Wilford, that although he resided here only a short time, yet he, by his poetry, has illuminated the village, and rendered it of much greater interest to inhabitants and to visitors, who even  now come from a distance to visit the  scenerydescribed. "The Homes and Haunts of Henry Kirke White," by John T. Godfrey and James Ward, Nottingham. H. B. Sax-ton, 1908, devotes 27 pages to Wilford, and 35 to Clifton, and 14 of its illustrations refer to these places. The work has been done so well and thoroughly that readers will do well to consult the book to which the writer of these pages is much indebted. Kirk White (the e to Kirk was not used) was born in a house in the Shambles, Nottingham, opposite to the Flying Horse Hotel, in 1785. His parents afterwards resided at No. 17 High Pavement. On Saturdays he had to carry meat to his father's customers. At fourteen he was apprenticed to Messrs. Coldham & Enfield, attorneys, whose office was in Rose Yard, now called King John's Chambers, Bridlesmith Gate, then a very narrow yaid, with inferior houses. The office hours in the legal profession were then very long, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with no friendly half-holiday, and here young White worked with a will at his legal studies, and at Greek and Latin, as well as in living languages. Even his relaxations were in scientific pursuits. At sixteen he was a contributor to the current periodicals, and at 17 published a volume of poems. In 1803 he published "Clifton Grove," with other poems, and shortly afterwards he resolved to leave the law, and go to Cambridge, to study with a view to the ministry. His health, however, began to fail, and his mother took lodgings for him in a little cottage at Wilford, which Captain Barker in "Walks round Nottingham, by a Wanderer," (page 60) 1835, says adjoined the old house at the corner of the road turning to Clifton. It is now pulled down. He also says (page 56) " The first house on the right from the (church) avenue standing immediately on the banks of the river, is the Manor house * * under whose roof Kirke White resided some time." The correctness of this statement is questioned. His illness is easily accounted for. A delicate constitution was not improved by the insanitary house where he was born, nor afterwards by his study, "just six feet by four, with whitewashed walls and plaster floor," and crowded with books, on rotten shelves, nor by his office hours, nor by the location of the Town Clerk's office, nor by his studies continued till one, two, or three o'clock in the morning. No wonder he became pale, thin, and weary, and wrote those sad lines in Wilford Churchyard:—

" Here would I wish to sleep. This is the spot
Which I have long marked out to lay my bones in ;
Tired out and wearied with the riotous world,
Beneath this yew I would be sepulchred,
It is a lovely spot."

At Winteringham he studied fourteen hours a day, and in 1805 he proceeded to St. John's College, Cambridge, where he continued a year, and died October 19th, 1806, and was buried in All Saints' Church, aged twenty-two. There is a marble tablet to his memory, with a medallion portrait by Chantry, R A., afterwards removed to the ante-chapel of St. John's College. Lord Byron sympathetically wrote:— "Unhappy White, while life was in its spring,

And thy young muse just waved its joyous wing,
The Spoiler came."

The Rev. William Leeson.  In the house now called the Grange, south east of the Almshouses, lived a noted lawyer Robert Leeson, whose brother, the Rev. William Leeson, was a clergyman, who occasionally performed duty at St Peter's, and at Wilford, and was the companion of Henry Kirk White. "He helped me out of my bed," remarks White in one of his letters. A Greek Testament in which White had written his autograph, adding "Winteringham," was presented to Mr. Leeson, and is now in the possession of Mr. Beecroft. His mind unfortunately gave way, and he was drowned near to the upper ford, August 19th, 1824.

John Smith Weight, Esq. In "The Beauties of England and Wales," 1812, Wilford House, "a neat modern building" is named as then the seat of Mr. Wright. He was High Sheriff in 1815, and was then described as of Wilford, a man of high character and active benevolence. See "Mapperley," page 166.

Anthony Hervey, the Author, of "The Sherwood Gipsy," which passed through forty-seven editions, died at Wilford, in 1850. See "Mapperley" paper, page 168.

Charles Robinson was for over thirty years master of the Wilford School. In the churchyard, near to the chancel, is an inscription which tells that he was affectionate and beloved. He was born at Kingston-upon-Hull, and died in 1852, aged 69. He was fond of sketching and painting. There was published a view of the Church in 1825, drawn on the spot by him, and afterwards done by the aquatint process by J. Reeve. The old grave-digger is shown in the foreground, near to some children reclining. A bed of flowers is to the left of the path from the Rectory. A vigorous ivy is growing to the right of the chancel door. The elms on the western bank are as tall as the church, but very slender.

Mr. Robinson was proud of the fact that he was a descendant of John Bunyan, of immortal "Pilgrim's Progress " fame, and that in him the family likeness continued. In the "Works of John Bunyan," by George Offer, published by Blackie, 1853, pages 75-6 of the Memoir, is given a picture of Bunyan's pocket knife with spring, his apple scoop curiously carved, a larger knife without spring, kept open or shut by turning a ferrule, a pocket box of scales and weights for the purchase of old gold, and dipped, or worn money, with the figures of the coin on each weight, in the reign of James I. "These were given by Robert Bunyan in 1839. then sixty-four years of age, to a younger branch of the family, Mr. Charles Robinson, of Wilford, near Nottingham (his sister's son) for safe custody. He died in 1852, while his aged uncle remains in good health, subject to the infirmities of his seventy-eighth year." "Those relics are deposited in a carved oak box. They were sold with the late Mr. Robinson's effects in January, 1853, and secured for me by my excellent friend, James Dix, Esq., of Bristol, who met with them immediately after the sale, on one of his journeys to Nottingham." Another item is "John Bunyan's son Joseph, settled at Nottingham, and marrying a wealthy woman conformed to the Church." To him appears to have been given, by his father, a quarto Bible, published by Barker & Bill, in 1641, and this, Mr. Offer says, he had also obtained. One of the curios offered at Mr. Robinson's sale was Lord Byron's snuff box, which being handed round to the company mysteriously disappeared, causing, says Mr. Thomas Marshall, father of the Postmistress, Miss Betsy Marshall, consternation and annoyance to the company.

It was to be hoped that the Bunyan relics would be found in a Museum, but Mr. R. H. Poynter, Bunyan Lecturer at the Moot Hall, Elstow, writes that when Mr. Offer died his effects were advertised for sale, including the forenamed articles, but a fire at the auction room destroyed them all.

Mrs. Ann Beecroft, prior to the erection of the Infant School in 1828, taught the infants in a house at the corner of the cross roads, now pulled down. In consideration of her services Lady Lucy granted her an annuity. She died in 1858. Her son, William Beecroft, was Guardian, the first Rural District Councillor, Overseer, Member of the Parish Council, etc., and was highly respected.

Samuel Wilkinson was many years the Ferryman in charge of the barge that, crossed and re-crossed the Trent, near to where the present bridge stands, and which structure superseded the boat. Edward Hind, in "My Magazine," page 314, wrote a farewell sonnet to the late ferryman, commencing

" Farewell, my worthy!   wherever you wander We wish you good luck, lad, and lots of it too,"

and two other lines tell of the man and his deeds,

" You're a man every inch of it can't be denied,
Who has thrice preserved life, as your annals can show."

Old people remember with pleasure the annual cherry eating, the first week in July, in James Wilkinson's orchard, with the lofty chestnut tree—eight cherries for a penny.