Alfred Millard William CHRISTOPHER (1820–1913)
and his wife Mrs Maria Frances CHRISTOPHER, née Christopher (1816–1903)
Miss Eliza SETON (1782/3–1859)
St Giles section: Row 13, Grave B43
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF / MARIA FRANCES CHRISTOPHER
BELOVED WIFE OF THE REV. A. M. W. CHRISTOPHER M.A. / BORN 26 JUNE 1816, PASSED TO HER REST 10 JANUARY 1903
AND THE REVEREND ALFRED MILLARD WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER M.A.
HON. CANON OF CHRIST CHURCH AND 46 YEARS RECTOR OF ST ALDATE’S / 20 AUGUST 1820 – 10 MARCH 1913
BLESSED THE DEAD WHICH DIE IN THE LORD
[On reverse side, not shown]
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF / ELIZA SETON
ELDEST DAUGHTER OF THE LATE JAMES SETON, ESQ / OF HADLEY MIDDLESEX, WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE
AT RICHMOND LODGE, OXFORD NOV. 4 A.D. 1859, AGED 76 / JUSTLY BELOVED AND DEEPLY LAMENTED
See also the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for
Alfred Millard William Christopher, Church of England clergyman
(1) Miss Eliza SETON (1782/3–1859)
(buried in this grave before Canon and Mrs Christopher, and likely to have been a relation)
Eliza Seton was born in Middlesex (St Giles’s parish) in 1782/3. At the time of the 1841 census she was living at Earl’s Court with Philip Harden (a merchant) and his wife Caroline, née Seton, and was probably Caroline’s elder sister. Eliza’s connection with the Christophers arises from the fact that Caroline (who had married Philip Harden in January 1830) had previously been married to Thomas Christopher of Crutchedfriars, and her two sons by him were still living with her in 1841.
Philip Harden died in Kensington in 1850 and Caroline in Newington near the beginning of 1851, and Miss Eliza Seton appears to have remained in the house for a while: at the the time of the 1851 census, described as a fundholder of 67, she was living alone here (with a cook and housemaid) and was now the head of the household.
Eliza Seton evidently went to live with Alfred Millard William Christopher and his family, but it was probably only for a few months, as he and his wife had only settled in Oxford in August 1859 (on his appointment as Rector of St Aldate’s Church) after a period abroad, and she died that November:
† Eliza Seton died at the Revd Christopher’s home at Richmond Lodge, Park Town at the age of 76 on 4 November 1859 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 11 November (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).
The following announcement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 12 November 1859:
DIED, Nov. 4, at the house of the Rev. A. M. W. Christopher, Park Town, in this city, Eliza Seton, eldest daughter of the late Jas. Seton, Esq., of Hadley, Middlesex, aged 76.
(2) Alfred Millard William CHRISTOPHER and his wife Maria Frances Christopher
Alfred Millard William Christopher was born in Bloomsbury on 20 August 1820, the twelfth of the fourteen children of the wine merchant George Christopher and Isabella Frances Ashington, who were married at St Dunstan's Church, Stepney in 1800.
Alfred was admitted as a sizar to St John’s College, Cambridge on 13 May 1839, and migrated to Jesus College, Cambridge in 1840.
At the time of the 1841 census Alfred (20) was staying with his parents during the university vacation at their home at Paragon, Ramsgate. His father was described as independent, and his brother Arthur was now a wine merchant. Also at home was his brother George (a surgeon) and his sisters Louisa and Matilda. The family had one servant, and the house had its own lodge, occupied by a lodgekeeper and her children.
Alfred obtained his B.A. in 1843.
Maria Frances Christopher was born on 26 June 1816 and baptised at St Olave's Church in Hart Street on 22 July. She was Alfred's first cousin, being the daughter of Thomas Christopher of Hadley, Middlesex, who was the brother of Alfred's father, and his wife Caroline.
On 15 June 1844 at Chiswick, Alfred Millard William Christopher married Maria Frances Christopher, and they had the following children:
- Henry Seton Christopher (born in Richmond, Surrey on 15 January 1850)
- Alfred Charles Christopher (born in Richmond, Surrey on 28 March 1856).
In 1844 Alfred Christopher became headmaster of a school for Anglo-Indian boys in Calcutta. Following a fever he became partially deaf, and thereafter used an ear trumpet.
He had a conversion experience in about 1846, and when he returned to England he was ordained deacon on 8 July 1849, and priest on 7 July 1850. He served as curate at St John’s, Richmond from 1849 to 1855, and at the time of the 1851 census, when he was 30, he was living at 6 Park Shot, Richmond with his wife Maria (34) and their first child Henry (1). They had two servants.
From 1855 Alfred Christopher worked as an association secretary of the Church Missionary Society, travelling widely. On 27 August 1859 he was appointed Rector of St Aldate’s, then a poor area of Oxford, and the Christophers settled in a house in Park Town, which they named Richmond Lodge, presumably after their former home.
At the time of the 1861 census Mrs Maria Christopher was home in Park Town with their younger son Alfred (5) and her unmarried sister Caroline (42), and their three servants (a cook and two housemaids); and Alfred himself (40) was paying a visit with his elder son Henry (16) to his cousin Thomas B. Christopher (49), a retired Commander in the Royal Navy, who lived with his wife and young son at Sea Mount, Malew, Isle of Man, possibly with a view to getting Henry into the navy.
In 1862/3 the Revd Christopher rebuilt and enlarged St Aldate’s Church, and erected better schools in 1865 and a parish room in 1869.
Alfred and Maria Christopher were at home in Park Town with their younger son Alfred at the time of the 1871 census. Their elder son Henry, who was now in the Royal Navy, was probably in the United States: he was married in New York shortly after that census:
- On 27 April 1871 in New York, Henry Seton Christopher married Julia Lucena. (Julia was the daughter of Lorenzo Lucena of Oxford, also buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery).
On 15 January 1875 their younger son Alfred Charles Christopher (18) was matriculated at the University of Oxford from Christ Church.
In 1876 Mrs Caroline Gillman, a relation of the Revd Christopher’s wife, left her husband, the Revd John Fitzgerald Gillman, and the Christophers gave refuge to her in their home.
In 1878 the Revd Christopher and his family moved into the new rectory for St Aldate’s Church that had been built at 40 Pembroke Street. On the census night of 1881, Alfred (60) was away visiting the Dean of Ripon, but Maria (64) was at home with Mrs Caroline Gillman and two servants. Mr Gillman was not pleased that they had taken in his wife, and in 1882 and again in 1884 he published libellous statements about the Revd Christopher, who in the latter year took him to court. The full case is reported in Jackson’s Oxford Journal for 26 April 1884; but because the Revd Christopher appealed for mercy in the case, Gillman was only sentenced for three months as a first-class misdemeanant.
In 1886 the Revd Christopher was made an honorary Canon of Christ Church.
In 1890 Canon Christopher was instrumental in the building of St Matthew’s Church in Marlborough Road, south Oxford (a daughter church to St Aldate’s), and a plaque (right) in St Matthew’s commemorates this. The church opened in 1891.
At the time of the 1891 census Canon Christopher was at home in the Rectory with two servants. His wife was paying a visit to their former lodger Mrs Caroline Gillman, who now had her own home in Richmond.
In 1901, when Canon Christopher was 80 and his wife 84, they were both at home in the Rectory.
His wife died in 1903:
† Mrs Maria Frances Christopher, née Christopher died at St Aldate’s Rectory, Pembroke Street at the age of 92 on 10 January 1903 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 14 January (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).
Canon Christopher had moved to 4 Norham Road by 24 August 1910, when the Oxford Journal Illustrated published a photograph of him to celebrate his 90th birthday. He resigned as Rector of St Aldate’s the following year. At the time of the 1911 census Canon Christopher’s granddaughter Edith Christopher was keeping house for him, and he was evidently already ailing, because as well as his granddaughter and a general servant, a sick nurse was living with him at 4 Norham Road. Two years later he died:
† Alfred Millard William Christopher died at 4 Norham Road at the age of 98 on 10 March 1913 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 14 March (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).
The Oxford Journal Illustrated published a photograph of him on 12 March 1913 to mark his death, and on 19 March reported on briefly on his funeral. An obituary was published in the Oxford Magazine, 1912–1913, p. 285. His wealth at death was £2,093 2s. 1d.
The following full description of his funeral was published in the Oxford Times on 22 March 1913 (followed by a very long obituary, which is not reproduced here):
FUNERAL OF THE LATE CANON CHRISTOPHER.
AN IMPRESSIVE CEREMONY.
The funeral of the late Canon Christopher took place on Friday. The body had rested in St. Aldate’s Church overnight, the Rector (the Rev. G. Foster Carter) having received it and conducted a short service in the church on Thursday evening. Some considerable time before the commencement of the service on Friday, the spacious church began to fill with sympathisers, and there was hardly a vacant seat to be seen at twelve o’clock. The congregation was thoroughly representative of the church, academic and civic life of the city, and a noticeable feature was the presence of so many old parishioners of the late Rector, many of whom were visible affected. The chief mourners were Capt. and Mrs. Christopher, Miss Edith Christopher, the Misses Ada and Eleanor Christopher, Mr. Mordaunt Christopher, Sister Beatrice Anna, Mr. Freville Christopher, General Christopher, the Rev. Proby L’ Caultley, Mr. Percy Tatham, Miss Edith Frances Christopher, Mrs. Arthur Irwin (Southam), Professor and Mrs. Firth, the Principal of Wycliff Hall (the Rev. H. G. Grey), and Nurse Potter. Amongst those also present were the Dean of Christ Church (representing the Vice-Chancellor), the Master of Balliol, the President of Trinity, the President of St. John’s, the Provost of Oriel, the Warden of New College, the Provost of Worcester, the Warden of Keble, the Principal of Pusey House (Dr. Darwell Stone), the Rev. Canon Ottley, Rev. C. A. Marcon, the Senior Proctor (Mr. A. L. Farquharson), Col. Farquharson, the City Rector (Dr. A. J. Carlyle), Dr. Vernon Bartlet, Mr. Sidney Ball, Mr. F. Powell and Mr. J. Snow (St. John’s), Rev. C. R. Carter, Mr. T. E. Lawrence (Magdalen), Mr. J. Diggle, Rev. C. S. Woodward, Mr. J. S. Crisall (Wadham), Mr. R. J. Whitwell (Corpus), Mr. F. Sampston (Brasenose), Mr. F. A. Bellamy, the Archdeacon of Oxford, Rev. H. L. Wild, Rev. Canon Clayton, Rev. E. W. Cox, Rev. J. H. Mortimer, Rev. E. F. Smith, Rev. G. Moore, Rev. O. D. Watkins, Rev. C. A. Heurtley, Rev. H. D. de Brisay, Rev. Harvey Gem, Rev. H. Bazeley, Rev. H. O. Barratt (formerly curate of St. Matthew’s), Rev. A. L. Davies, Rev. A. Langdale-Smith, Rev. R. M. Langdale-Smith, Rev. R. W. G. Hunter, Rev. H. G. Johnson, Rev. D. H. D. Wilkinson (representing the C.M.S.), Rev. J. Foulger, the Sheriff (Councillor H. Lewis), Alderman the Rev. W. E. Sherwood, W. B. Gamlen, Councillors S. M. Burrows, T. Basson, J. E. Salter, and A. J. George, Mrs. Pilcher, Mr. K. Pilcher, Mrs. Foster Carter, Messrs F. Burden and A. Fogden (churchwardens), D. Swift, C. H. Brown, Thornton, Francis, Pritchard, Jones and Salmon (sidesmen), Keen and Fletcher (churchwardens of St. Matthew’s), Col. Eliot, Col. Le Mesurier, Major Drage, Mr. C. M. Vincent, Mr. Martin Sutton, Mr. A. Ballard, Mr. H. H. W. Sheard and Miss Sheard, and Messrs. W. L. Orpwood, H. R. Mainwaring, E. J. Rose, A. Wenham, P. H. Badcock, G. Taylor, F. Martin, A. R. Pumfrey, R. J. Grubb, C. Archer, H. Martyr, G. Pouncer, Stanley Cooper, W. Davis, A. W. Sansom, H. Clifford, Sergt. Hancock, Sergt. Major Owens and others. The Vice-Chancellor, Sir Henry Seton Karr, Bishop Ingham, Lord Radstock and Major Danby Christopher were unavoidably prevented from attending. Whilst the congregation were assembling, Mr. T. G. Osborn, F.R.C.O, the organist, played “O Rest in the Lord” and other voluntaries.
The service was fully choral, and was of a simple but impressive character. The officiating clergy were the Rector (Rev. G. Foster Carter), the Rector of Exeter, the Warden of Wadham, Rev. A. P. Cox (Cheltenham), Rev. Dr. Casher (Leamington), and the Rev. D. B. Griggs (Portland). The Rev. A. P. Cox read the opening sentences, after which the hymn, “Now the labourer’s task is o’er,” and the 90th Psalm were sung. The Rector of Exeter read the lesson from Corinthians, and this was followed by the singing of the hymn, “Peace, perfect peace.” The solemn cortege then left the church, whilst Mr. Osborn played Mendelssohn’s Funeral March. The coffin, which was covered with many beautiful floral tributes, was carried out of the church, and placed in a hearse. This was followed by four coaches, which were occupied by the chief mourners. The solemn procession, together with a large number of sympathisers, then made its way to St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street, where the interment took place. The Rector officiated at the graveside, and the hymn “Rock of Ages” was impressively sung. The coffin was of unpolished oak, and bore the following inscription:
ALFRED MILLARD WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER,
Born 20th August, 1820,
Died 10th March, 1913
There was a beautiful collection of floral tributes sent by the following:— Captain and Mrs. Alfred Christopher; Misses Ada, Eleanor and Edith Christopher; Mr. Mordaunt Christopher; Mrs. Henry Brooke, Hampton Court Palace (niece); Miss Violet Brook (grand-niece), Miss Frances Robinson (niece), Colonel and Lady Margaret Proby; Mrs. George Byron; Professor and Mrs. Firth; Mrs. Edwin Palmer; Misses Mary and Lucy Palmer; Rector and Congregation, St. Aldate’s Church, and St. Aldate’s Sunday School teachers and scholars; Congregation, St. Matthew’s Church, Grandpont; Teacher and Scholars, Grandpont; Rev. H. D. and Miss de Brisay; Mr. Henry Bazeley; Rev. J. H. Mortimer; Miss Brazier; Rev. H. L. and Mrs Barrett; Miss Hales, Mr. and the Misses Whitwell; Mrs. Pilcher, Dr. and Miss Pilcher; Mrs. Orpwood and family; Nurse Potter; Senior Staff of St. Hilda’s College, Durham; Dr Krebs, and Mr. Lawrence.
The funeral arrangements were entrusted to the care of Mr. F. Burden, St. Aldate’s.
Alfred and Maria Christopher’s two sons
- Henry Seton Christopher (born 1850), who had married Julia Lucena in New York in 1871, first served in the Royal Navy and then worked for 31 years as Secretary to the Trustees of King William’s College, Castletown, Isle of Man. They had six children: Ada Fanny Lucena Christopher (1872), Eleanor Caroline Christopher (1873), Edith Julia Christopher (1875), George Seton Christopher (1877), Selina Gertrude Christopher (1877), and Charles Mordaunt de Aguilar Christopher (1887). Henry died on 21 February 1911, and in the census just over a month later Julia was living with her daughter Ada (37), and herself died on the Isle of Man on 29 October that year.
More information about Henry Seton Christopher on this Tatham family history page
- Alfred Charles Christopher (born 1856) failed to get an Honours degree at Oxford. He joined the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, and served as an officer with the Seaford Highlanders until 1897. He married his first wife Melesina Ethel Maude Chevenix Trench of Botley in 1892. In 1893 he changed his name by deed poll to Alfred Charles Seton-Christopher. His first wife died in 1924. He served as Mayor of Chelsea in 1925/6. In 1927 he married his second wife, the widow Mrs Amy Johnstone (née Wauchope). He died at 40 Carlyle Square, Chelsea on 13 December 1934.
More information about Alfred Charles Christopher on the Tatham Family History page