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So the historian contacted me about Albert Baker Winnifrith - the defrocked vicar

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 27 June 2017

Was he by any chance a relation? Did I have a photo of him? The truth is that I did not have a scoobie but I knew a man who did. I called my father.

Indeed, great uncle Albert said my father. He was born in 1864 in Kent and like many in that branch of the family became a vicar. Sadly Albert fell for a married woman in his congregation and was defrocked. Worse still he found himself in Court on a matter relating to this, lied under oath and was sent down for 18 months for his perjury.

At that point, the story takes a rather happier turn. Assisted by his father ( a vicar) and my great grandfather (also a vicar and the father of my grand-father Sir John Winnifrith) Albert set up a prep school in Clap-ham and prospered. Moreover he did so with his new wife, yes that lady from the congregation. He died aged 86 in 1950. She died a month later. They had been married and happy for just shy of sixty years.

The historian got onto this tale when he was researching an unsolved murder from 1908 in the the Kent village of Ightham. I stress that there is no suspicion that any member of my family was involved but my great grandfather - Sir John's father - had "the living" there - that is to say his wife had bought the right to appoint the vicar of that parish. As it happens my father's brother is the current owner of "The living" and will leave it to one of his offspring. And so the vicar and his children - notably my grandfather and his sister Joan (the actress Anna Lee) came onto his radar and then so did brother Albert.

My father has a family photo and will be sending a copy to the historian. I look forward to reading his scholarly works in due course.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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