Reginald Arthur Clayton HESLOP (1874–1890)
St Giles (Ss Philip & James) section: Row 51, Grave J30

Reginald Heslop



BORN SEP. 24, 1874

Drowned while bathing
in the River Thames



Reginald drowned in Black Jack’s Hole on the Thames (on the western side of Port Meadow) at the age of 15, and so inevitably the biography below includes more information about his father (a vicar and fraudster) and his siblings than him.

Reginald's father

Reginald’s father Robert Clayton Heslop was born at Chorlton, Manchester on 21 October 1849 and baptised at Manchester Cathedral on 20 December. He was the eldest child of Robert Heslop, described in the register as a student of medicine, and Susannah Bartley. At the time of the 1851 census Robert was 1½ years old, and he and his brother George (five months) were living at Stretford Road, Hulme, Lancashire with their parents: his father was now described as a proprietor of land, and the family had three servants. By 1861 his mother was dead and Robert was living at Fatfield House, Harraton, Durham with his father and their housekeeper and servant: his father was now described as a farmer of 435 acres employing seven labourers.

Robert was matriculated at the University of Oxford from St Mary Hall at the age of 19 on 31 October 1868. He probably completed his course in about 1872 (but did not collect his B.A. until early 1874). His first appointment was as Curate of Appleby in Westmorland, and then in June 1873 he was appointed Curate at Brough, also in Westmorland.

Reginald's mother

Reginald's mother Kate Faulkner was born in Oxford in 1846, the fourth daughter of Joseph Faulkner, who was the Manciple of Christ Church, and Ann Horn. In the 1851, 1861, and 1871 censuses she was living with her parents in St Aldate's Street.
For more about Kate’s family, see her parents’ grave.

On 23 December 1873 at St Aldate's Church, Oxford, Reginald's parents Robert Clayton Heslop and Kate Faulkner were married. Their marriage was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 27 December 1873 under the “CLERGYMEN MARRIED” heading:

Dec. 23, at St Aldate’s Church, by the Rev. A. M. W. Christopher, Rector, assisted by the Rev. H. Sturdy, Curate, the Rev. Robert Clayden [sic] Heslop, Curate of Brough, Westmoreland [sic], eldest son of Mr. Robert Heslop, Manchester, to Kate, fourth daughter of Mr. Joseph Faulkner, St Aldate’s, Oxford.

In the marriage register Reginald’s father was described as a surgeon, although he does not seem to have practised since his training.

They had the following children:

  • Reginald Arthur Clayton Heslop (born at Augill Castle, Brough-under-Stainmore, Westmorland on 24 September 1874 and baptised at Brough); his birth was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 26 September and the Morning Post on 28 September; and the Standard on 30 September
  • Ethel Maud Kate Heslop (born at Augill Castle, Brough-under-Stainmore, Westmorland on 20 December 1875); her birth was announced in the Standard on 22 December
  • Gerald Lowndes Abbott Heslop, sometimes known as Gerald Norman Abbott Heslop (born at Manchester on 20 January 1878 and baptised at St Paul’s Church, Holme on 7 March)
  • Alfred Herbert Heslop (born in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire on 5 March 1880 and baptised there on 11 April).

Reginald’s parents began their married life at Augill Castle in Brough, Westmorland: this had been built as a gentleman’s country residence in 1841.

In December 1874, soon after Reginald’s birth, his father was ordained Priest at York, and he served as Vicar of Stapleford, St Helen, Nottinghamshire from 1875 to 1876; but he kept on the castle, where he started up a school. The following advertisement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 27 February 1875:

PUPILS are prepared for the Public Schools, the Universities, &c., by the Rev. R. C. HESLOP, B.A., Oxon (assisted by the Rev. J. Wharton, M.A., Queen’s; First Class in Classical Moderations, 1857. Country very beautiful, and suited for delicate constitutions. Special classes for commercial boys. School Scholarships annual value £120. Moderate terms. Oxford references — W. R. Morfill, Esq., 2 Clarendon Villas, Park Town; Rev. R. Broughton, Fellow and Tutor of Hertford College; Rev. W. H. L. Cogswell, New Hincksey Vicarage; Rev. Professor Lucena, 4 Grandpont Villas. Next Term, April 13.
Augill Castle, Brough, Penrith

The following advertisement in the Undergraduates’ Journal of 1876 was aimed at men already up at Oxford and Cambridge:

GENTLEMEN OF BOTH UNIVERSITIES — Are prepared for the various PASS and other EXAMINATIONS by the REV. R. C. HESLOP, M. A., Oxon., assisted by the REV. J. WHARTON, M. A., Oxon. (First Class in Classical Moderations), and others.

Beautiful Country, close to the lakes; good grouse-shooting, & moderate terms. — Augill Castle, Brough, Penrith.

On 23 February 1877 The Carlisle Patriot reported on the Heslop v. Brackenbury case held at Appleby Assizes. Heslop, now described as the Principal of an Educational Academy, let out his house during the summer months and also offered “the rights of shooting over several thousand acres”. The Revd E. B. Brackenbury took the house in August 1876, and was “grievously disappointed” because the shooting was fifty miles away from the castle, not three miles as he had been told. There was a dispute, and Heslop sought to recover £86 14s. 10d. for arrears of rent and the loss of a horse.

On 24 February 1877 the following advertisement for his school appeared in the Northern Echo:

AUGILL COLLEGE, BROUGH, PENRITH. Principal: Rev. R. C. HESLOP, M.A., Oxon (First Classman.) Mathematical Master: ALEX S. MITCHELL, Esq., A.M., Aberdon. B.A. Cantab., late Scholar of Queen’s, High Senior Op. in Mathematical Tripos, 1875. Drawing Master: GEO. TURNER, Esq., School of Art, Kendal. French and German Master: Dr. SOHL, Ph.D., Heidelberg University. Drill Sergeant: Sergeant-Major SOAL late Royal Navy Artillery. Boys now admitted.

In November 1877 Heslop left Augill Castle and took his family to live in his father’s home at 366 Stretford Road, Manchester, where Reginald’s brother Gerald was born near the beginning of 1878. Heslop then went into lodgings at Aston in Birmingham on 8 February 1878, and on 19 February 1878 the Bury and Norwich Post, and Suffolk Herald reported his bankruptcy:

A BANKRUPT CLERGYMAN — In the Birmingham Bankruptcy Court, last week, Robert Clayton Heslop, clerk in holy orders, late of Augill Castle, Brough, Penrith, in the county of Westmoreland, but now of Richmond Villa, Frederick-road, Aston-juxta-Birmingham, filed his petition for liquidation, with liabilities estimated at £9,000, and assets not yet ascertained.

On 16 March 1878, the Lancaster Gazette and General Advertiser for Lancashire, Westmorland, and Yorkshire gave more details when describing the first meeting of Creditors. Heslop’s total liabilities were £8,500, and the assets £400, with Augill Castle mortgaged for £5,587. Resolutions were made to liquidate the estate.

By July 1878 Heslop was the Principal of Alston College, near Preston, Lancashire under the Rector, the Rev. T. Abbott Peters, M.A. By January 1879 he was the Head Master of the Classical Department there.

By July 1879 Heslop had opened a new school of his own Talbot House, Rickmansworth. He advertised regularly in the Belfast News-Letter, possibly hoping that the news of his earlier troubles had not spread across to Ireland. The advertisement on 24 July 1879 read:

Twenty one and a half miles from London (London and North-Western Railway)
Boys prepared for commerce, army, and navy, the learned professions, the Universities, public schools, &c. A beautiful, healthy country. Terms moderate, and inclusive. Next term, September 11th.
Rev, R. C. HESLOP, M.A., Oxon.

On 7 January 1880 at Manchester Cathedral. Robert Clayton Heslop officiated at the wedding of his brother Dr William Heslop to Jane Wainwright. His youngest son Alfred was born at Rickmansworth at around this time.

By the time of the 1881 census Heslop was back in Haigh, Westmorland, where he served as the Assistant Curate. He was now living more humbly at Curfew House in Haigh with his wife and their three sons Reginald (6½), Gerald (3¼) and Alfred (13 months), but they still had two servants. Their daughter Ethel was staying with her maternal grandparents in Oxford.

In April 1882 Reginald’s father Robert Clayton Heslop was appointed Chaplain of the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum.

In 1887 Robert Clayton Heslop was in the news again because of financial troubles, with the receiving order published 4 June 1887. On 18 June the Cheshire Observer reported on the bankruptcy of a Cheshire schoolmaster, William Thomas Sumner, who had got to know Heslop in 1881 when he was curate of Haigh. The report stated that Sumner had been “guarantor to the Rev. R. C. Heslop, late chaplain, Asylum, Wakefield, who has absconded” and that his liabilities of £3,003 were “incurred entirely on behalf of, and on the grounds of friendship only for, a Rev R. C. Heslop, whose dealings were largely with moneylenders. This valuable friend was chaplain of a lunatic asylum at Wakefield, but is now said to be in Peru”.

The first meeting of Heslop’s creditors was held on 28 June 1887, and the report in the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent the following day stated that “the Official Receiver showed that Heslop and his associates had carried on a systematic and wholesome fraud”.

When receiving orders for his bankruptcy were published, his address was given as Westfield Grove in Wakefield, which is probably where he lived when he was chaplain to the asylum in Wakefield and would have been his last known address. He does not appear to have returned to England, as no death is recorded for him there.

By 1890 Reginald’s mother Mrs Kate Heslop had moved back with her four children to her home town of Oxford and was living at 82 Kingston Road, a large semi-detached house (shown here on StreetMap, covered with climbing plants).

Reginald was working as a clerk in the Bodleian Library at the age of 15, suggesting that the family was in reduced circumstances. On the morning of Friday 18 July 1890 he went bathing with friends in the Thames at Port Meadow before work and was drowned at Black Jack’s Hole:

† Reginald Arthur Clayton Heslop drowned in the River Thames at the age of nearly 16 on 18 July 1890 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 22 July (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s and Ss Philip & James’s Church).

(This was very near the spot where Edward Schönberg, an undergraduate also buried in this cemetery, was to drown in 1886.)

An inquest was held at Reginald’s home, 82 Kingston Road, the following day, and was reported thus in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 26 July

Mrs. Kate Heslop, residing at 82, Kingston-road, deposed that the deceased was her son, and would have been 16 years of age in Sept. next. He was a clerk in the Bodleian Library, and had always had good health. He was able to swim very well, and was in the habit of going out to bathe before breakfast in summer time. She last saw him alive at five o’clock on Friday morning, and he was then going to bathe. His companions threw up at the window, and witness heard their voices. He had never had an accident before this, and she did not see him again until he was brought home dead. He had a season ticket, and used to take a punt. She did not know whether he always bathed in one part of the river.

By the Jury — He was not subject to fits or cramp, and he always enjoyed his breakfast after he came home from bathing. The last words she said to him were “Be sure you take something to eat with you,” and it all came home in in his pockets.

Frank Robinson, living at 21, St. Margaret’s-road, scholar at the High School, said that he had known the deceased for about eighteen months. Witness had been in the habit of going bathing with Heslop this summer – generally before breakfast. Deceased was a very good swimmer. On Friday they went to bathe as usual. They had a punt, out of which they jumped, near Black Jack’s Hole. They swam about 100 yards up the river, and had swum about ten yards back when the deceased called out for help. Witness swam up to Heslop and got to him as he was sinking. Witness saw he could do nothing for the deceased. There was a strong stream, and there were a lot of weeds at that spot. Deceased did not call out to anyone, but sank very quickly. Witness not having bathed with the deceased many times could not say how far Heslop could swim. They were all very tired after swimming up stream. Witness got to land, and Mr. Bossom came to his assistance. When the deceased was got out of the water he was quite dead.

Replying to the Coroner, the witness said that Heslop used to bathe by himself sometimes, and he had bathed with the deceased about half-a-dozen times.

By the Foreman — Deceased did not speak to witness when he swam to him. He was entangled in the weeds. They always bathed at that particular spot. There were five of them bathing together on Friday morning.

John Bossom, sen., University waterman, living at Medley Lock, said he had seen the deceased go up the river in a punt on several mornings as if for bathing. Witness did not know of any place being licensed for bathing. People bathed anywhere early in the morning. About a quarter to seven o’clock on Friday morning Robinson called witness, who was then in bed in his boathouse. Robinson told him that some one was drowned in Black Jack’s Hole, and witness dressed as quickly as he could and went off in a punt. The spot in which the body was supposed to be was pointed out to witness, who got the body out, and Heslop was quite dead. The deceased was in the Isis in Binsey parish, and he was in about six feet of water. Heslop was in the thick of some weeds, in which he was very much entangled. A good swimmer could hardly have got through the weeds.

His death notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal the same day read: “July 18, drowned whilst bathing in the Upper River, Reginald Arthur Clayton Heslop, of 82, Kingston-road, Oxford, aged 16 years.”

The same newspaper also gave a full report of the funeral:

The funeral of the deceased took place on Tuesday morning in St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street. The first part of the Burial Service, followed by the Holy Communion, was performed at St Margaret’s Church by the Rev. B. J. Kidd and the Rev. R. Hartley, and at 11 o’clock the funeral procession, at the head of which walked the Rev. E. C. Dermer, Vicar of St. Philip and St. James, started for the Cemetery, there being present, beside many members of the family, Mr. Nicholson (Bodleian Librarian) and Mrs. Nicholson, the Rev. Canon Christopher [who had married his parents], and several friends, together with members of the Bodleian staff and the Football Club of which he was a member, each of whom sent a wreath. The Rev. R. Hartley concluded the service at the grave. The coffin was of polished elm, with white metal furniture, and upon it were placed a large number of choice floral tributes of respect. Mr. Frank Burden, of St. Aldate’s, carried out the arrangements of the funeral in his usual able manner.

On 26 July a testimonial was presented to the Revd W. D. Macray congratulating him on fifty years of service to the Bodleian Library, and it was reported that “The recent loss of one of the youngest signatories to the address, that of the lad R. A. C. Heslop, was touchingly alluded to by Mr. Macray”.

Reginald's mother Kate Heslop

At the time of the 1891 census Reginald’s siblings Ethel (15), Gerald (13) and Alfred (11) were being looked in their home after by his mother’s sister Emily Faulkner. Mrs Heslop was still the head of the household at 82 Kingston Road, but was away on census night and is hard to find anywhere in England: there is a possibility that she was abroad visiting her husband. He was probably not as far away as Peru, and there may be a clue in the fact that his sister Jessie Louisa Heslop was married in Madeira on 15 June 1895.

In 1898 Reginald’s brother Gerald entered the University of Oxford as a non-collegiate student (St Catherine’s), and probably continued to live at home. His other brother Alfred was at the City Technical School, and would go on to St Thomas’s Hospital and Durham University to study medicine.

At the time of the 1901 census Reginald’s mother was aged 55 and calling herself a widow, although it is possible that her missing husband was still alive. She was living at 82 Kingston Road with one servant. Her son Gerald (23), an undergraduate, was paying a visit to a family in Chesterfield, Derbyshire and Alfred (21) was away. Ethel is hard to find: this was around the time that she got married (see below).

Her second son Gerald Lowndes Abbott Heslop was appointed Curate of Heavitree near Exeter in 1903, and in 1907 he married Maud Sweetland Grenfell, the only child of Captain Grenfell, R.N., in the St Thomas area of Devon.

By 1911 Mrs Heslop was living at 2 Clergy House, Exeter with one servant: she probably moved here to be near her son Gerald. She died at that address at the age of 81 on 22 January 1929, and her effects came to just £22 2s. 9d. Administration was granted to Gerald. She was buried in Heavitree and was described on her grave (see photograph) as the widow of Robert Clayton Heslop, M.A., Priest.

Reginald’s siblings
  • Ethel Maud Kate Heslop (born 1876) of 82 Kingston Road married Harold Frank Walton Butt, a bank clerk of 18 Frenchay Road and the son of the Revd James Aston Butt, at St Margaret’s Church on 30 April 1901. They had two children: Margaret Ethel Deacle Butt (born 1903) and John Francis Acton Butt (born 1907). At the time of the 1911 census Ethel (35) was living at 65 Holly Walk, Leamington with her husband Harold (37), who was a bank clerk, their two children, and a governess and two servants. Ethel was living at 16 Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds when she died on 21 August 1958 at St Mary’s Hospital there. Her effects came to £3,873 8s. 9d., and her widowed daughter Mrs Ethel Deacle Hodges was her executor.
  • Gerald Lowndes Abbott Heslop (born 1878) played cricket for Devon from 1903 to 1932. He was still Curate of Heavitree in 1911, when he and his wife Maud (27) were living there at 6 Midway Terrace with one servant. Their son Bevil G. Heslop was born in Exeter near the end of 1913. On 17 August 1915 he joined the army as Chaplain to the Forces (4th class) and continued to serve until at least 1929 (records in National Archives). He was living at Sunnymede, Clinton Terrace, Budleigh Salterton when he died at the age of 85 on 24 December 1963 at the Cranford Nursing Home, Exmouth. His effects came to £33,703.
  • Alfred Herbert Heslop (born 1880) served as House Surgeon at the Salop Infirmary, Shrewsbury, at the Durham County Hospital, and as Clinical Assistant at All Saints’ Hospital for Genito-urinary Diseases in Vauxhall Bridge Road, London (information from his page in Plarr’s Life of the Royal College of Surgeons). He entered the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Lieutenant on 30 July 1905 and was promoted to Sergeant. He was mentioned in dispatches four times in the First World War, and was awarded the DSO in 1916 and the MBE in 1919. He married Florence Madeline Mary Walter at Wandsworth in 1922, and their daughter Sheila was born in Woolwich in 1923. He retired on 2 October 1926 and because Surgeon to the County Hospital and Consulting Surgeon to the King Edward VII Convalescent home for Officers at Osborne. Alfred died at the age of 48 on 30 January 1929 at his mother’s house in Devon: he was probably staying there for her funeral, as she herself had died only six days previously: they were both buried in the same grave in Heavitree. His home at the time of his death was on the Isle of Wight (at Burghfield, Dover Street, Ryde). His effects came to £792 12s., and probate was granted to his widow, Florence Madeline Mary Heslop.



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