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12333 Rev. John Clay 1805-1908

(Ancestor of the Harden Clays)

John was the third and youngest son of Joseph Clay and Sarah Spender, and the younger brother of Henry and Joseph.  John was born at Burton and baptised there on 19 April 1805.  He was educated at Rugby and, like his brother Joseph before him, at St John's College, Cambridge, to which he was admitted on 10 June 1822, the year Joseph came down.  John became B.A. in 1829 and M.A. in 1836.  He was a Fellow of his College, and was ordained Deacon in 1835, and Priest at Lichfield the following year, before he moved to Stapenhill in 1837, where he remained as Vicar for the next 38 years, until 1875.  Many of the marriages in the Clay family during this period were performed by him.  In 1843, when he was 38, he married Jessie Harden, aged 29, at Miller Bridge, Ambleside, Westmoreland.

They had a son and two daughters :-

John Harden          born in 1848 

Jessie Caroline      baptised 27 September 1850, married in Stapenhill on 13 April 1871 the Rev. Frank Albert Mather (1838 - 1922) who was Curate at Stapenhill and later Prebendary of Wells. She died aged 72 at Hitchin, Herts, in 1923; they had three sons, John, James and Aubrey, and four daughters, Emily, Alice, Janet and Una.

(Mary) Jane           baptised 17 August 1856 at Stapenhill, married at Brathay Church in 22 April 1880 the Rev. (later Right Rev.) John (Nathaniel) Quirk (1849 - 1924), who had also been at St John's College, Cambridge, Curate of Doncaster and later Bishop, first of Sheffield, then of Jarrow.  Jane died aged 78 on 21 August 1934 at Lake End, Nibthwaite, Ulverstone. They had two sons, John and Robert, and a daughter Marjery

After he retired they moved to Ambleside, where John died, aged 72 on 22 December 1877.  Jessie died 31 years later, on 23 August 1908 at the age of 94;  they were both buried at Brathay Church.

It is, I think, fair to say that most of the marriages in the Clay family in the later years of the nineteenth century and the earlier years of the twentieth were conducted by one of the three brothers-in-law, John Harden Clay, Frank Mather or John Quirk.


Jessie Clay, née Harden

Jessie was born 30 January 1814, and was the daughter of a distinguished artist, John Harden of Brathay Hall, Ambleside.  She lived to be 94, and was visited in 1906 by Gerard and Violet Clay on their honeymoon, she having expressed a wish to meet the bride, as she had not attended the wedding.  Gerard recorded in his diary:-

 9 May    ... to Miller Bridge, Ambleside ... found Aunt Jessie looking well but very old (she was then just over 92) and very deaf, Aunt Carrie (Caroline Baskerville-Mynors) and two Mather girls, Lillian and Una (children of Jessie's daughter, then aged 30 and 24).  At night looked at old drawings of Aunt Jessie's father John Harden;  very interesting.  She is very proud of them.  What a wonderful old lady she is, still very active and interested in everything ...

11 May ... We (Aunt Carrie, Violet and I) drove over to the Quirks at Conniston ... Found the Bishop, Janie (his wife) and Margery (daughter, then aged 20) there, nice little cottage and charming views.  Took a short row on the lake, the Bishop and I at the oars, and Violet and Margery ...

14 May ... We left Windemere ... Aunt Jessie was very unwell with rheumatism and we did not see her ...

In the diary is a contemporary photograph of her, and a page from `Daily Light on the Daily Path' inscribed "Violet and Gerard Clay.  With warm love and prayers ...  from Aunt Jessie 13 May 1906

She was a friend of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Tennyson.

Jessie died in 1908 aged 94, and is buried at Brathay Church.



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