John Wild – A Biographical Note (from Glenside August & October 1995 : 22/12/11 : MG)
Written by T.M. Crompton …
John Wild was officiating curate at St James’ Church, Castle Bytham from 1864 to 1870, and was one of the first inhabitants of the old vicarage at Castle Bytham which was built in 1859. His years in the village must have been busy ones; in addition to writing the ‘History’ he had his regular duties as curate-in-sole-charge, and he was also a school trustee.
Wild was too modest when he referred to ‘The History of Castle Bytham’ as a ‘little work’. To complete it he adopted the roles of historian, archaeologist, writer, excavator, researcher and fund-raiser all in one.
Apart from the basic facts, and whatever else can be gleaned from ‘The History of Castle Bytham’, nothing is known about John Wild’s time in the village. Research at Lincolnshire Archives, Lincoln, has revealed information particularly concerning the thirty years at Tetney where Wild was vicar from 1872 until his death in 1902. I am indebted to Mr Alan Barton, Tetney local historian, for the large amount of material hat he has contributed and also for his help in putting flesh on Wild’s bones.
Born at Old Radford, Nottingham on August 14, 1826, John Wild was the son of George and Ann Wild. The entry for his baptism on the Register of St Peter’s Church, Old Radford, is dated 1 September, 1826 and shows his father’s occupation as ‘Lacemaker’. Wild became a Deacon in the Church of England and a curate at St Peter’s, Old Radford, in 1855. How he then, in 1856, obtained a BA degree from Trinity College, Dublin is a mystery!
Wild was ordained Priest at Lincoln in 1857. Further curacies followed; at St James’ Church, Grimsby (1858 – 61), East Drayton (near Retford) (1861 – 63) and then Castle Bytham. He subsequently moved to the Church of St Mary Magdalen, Newark (1870-72).
It was in 1872 that Wild became vicar of Tetney, a village south of Grimsby, where he remained until his death thirty years later. By the time of his arrival he was already married to Cecilia Maughan, daughter of a local landowner. Cecilia, born in 1810, was sixteen years Wild’s senior; there were no children from the marriage.
At Tetney the building of a large new vicarage was finished in 1874, it having two servants rooms, spacious stables, a pig sty and a large cellar. In his time at Tetney Wild was to invent and patent a grass reaper which he hired out to villagers for a shilling a time! He was also an expert bee-keeper and enjoyed fishing.
By 1878 Cecilia’s health was causing concern. A letter from her doctor survives; he ‘strongly advised a change to warmer parts of the country where she will not be so constantly exposed to north east winds which are very prevalent on this coast during the winter’. The climate plus a ‘feeble heart’ predisposed her to ‘repeated attacks of bronchitis’. Wild therefore applied to the Bishop of Lincoln for an eighteen-month ‘Licence of Non-Residence’ in order to take Cecilia south.
Lincolnshire Archives holds several letters from Wild to a ‘Mr Moss’, who it seems to have been a Diocesan secretary. In August 1878 Wild writes that he is ‘anxious to meet with a suitable and thoroughly trustworthy person to leave in charge’ of the church of St Peter and St Paul, and the 927 parishioners, in his absence. Later he reports that he is ‘advertising in the Guardian and replying to likely advts’.
A suitable curate was at length found, at a quarterly stipend of £115. Wild’s Licence was granted in April 1879 and in August he writes to Mr Moss from Maida Vale, London : ‘I am glad to say the change has so far been beneficial to Mrs Wild and I hope she will still improve’. He is helping, he says, at St Stephen’s Church, Regent’s Park, but, ‘As the winter comes on, we must go further south west again’.
In 1885, back in Tetney, Wild was made Rural Dean of one of Grimsby’s two deaneries; in 1887 Cecilia died, aged 76. Within a year Wild had married again, this time to a woman 33 years his junior! Maria was born in 1859 and was, like Cecilia, a native of Tetney. She went on to have three sons of whom two, John and George, died in infancy. The third, William, was born in 1890 and ‘Master-Willie’ was to become at the age of seven the youngest bell ringer in the country!
Following many years of research Wild published his second book, ‘The History of Tetney’, in 1901, thirty years after the appearance of ‘The History of Castle Bytham’.
John Wild died on 21 May, 1902, aged 75, and is buried in Tetney churchyard. In his will he left his money, the sum of £1,281 8s. 4d., to Maria who moved down to Lympstone, Devon, and lived on until 1923. Her remains were returned to Tetney to be interred near those of her husband.
Added : 22/12/11 : MG