Lord Wharton’s will

02 November 2006

Your answers

My mother’s Prayer Book (1904) and Bible (1906) were both given by the will of Philip, Lord Wharton, who died on 4 February 1696. Who was he? Is his will still honoured with respect to Sunday-school prizes? If so, are the terms as shown on the flyleaf of the Bible still being maintained, i.e. "The 1st, 15th, 25th, 37th, 101st, 113th, and 145th Psalms should be learnt, if possible, by the recipient"?

Philip was the 4th Lord Wharton, of Wharton Hall, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, where the family had lived from the 16th century and lived until 1728. He was a soldier and a preacher who was active in the Puritan cause; yet, although he was an anti-royalist in the time of the Civil War, he refused to assent to the execution of King Charles I.

In 1692, he left a legacy on his death for the distribution of an annual supply of 1050 Bibles to children who had memorised seven selected psalms and who lived mainly in the old counties of Cumberland, Westmorland, and Yorkshire. A few Bibles were also given to children who lived in Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. Prayer Books were distributed, too.

In Kirkby Stephen, where I was Vicar from 1982 until 1996, we gave them to children in the Sunday school and choir who had been very regular in their attendance. As the wording on the bookplates is exactly the same as it has always been, recipients were well aware of Lord Wharton’s wishes.

(Canon) Bill Greetham
Whittington, Lancashire

Philip, 4th Lord Wharton (1613-96), . . . went abroad during James II’s reign. He was a Privy Counsellor of William III, whom he entertained at his home. His charity continues. There are now seven trustees: four Anglican, and three Free Church. About 1000 Bibles are distributed annually to children. The clerk is Mrs R. J. H. Edwards (edwardsrjh@ btinternet.com), who can supply further information.


The original condition that each recipient should memorise seven specific psalms is no longer adhered to: instead, "greater emphasis is now placed on comprehension." The condition was evidently not applied when I, as an infant, received both a Bible and a Prayer Book from the charity at my baptism in 1935.

C. R. Calladine

Philip, Lord Wharton, married Jane, heiress of the Goodwins of Upper Winchendon and Wooburn, in 1637. He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire in the period before the Civil War.

Philip had become a peer in 1625, while still at university, and later became a strong supporter of the Puritan cause in the House of Lords. Wooburn House became a sanctuary for various ministers, and Nonconformity thrived in the area.

He is buried in St Paul’s, Wooburn. When the church was restored in 1858, the Vicar at that time, the Revd F. B. Ashely, described how "on removing the floor we came across his grave and coffin: there was much magnificence, the silk, crimson velvet and gold lace as fresh as if only just placed there."

Chris Berry (Churchwarden, StPaul’s with St Mary’s, Wooburn)
Wooburn Green, Bucks

 Your questions

What is the story behind the hymn "I danced in the morning"?

Would someone please explain the point of asking parents and godparents to make the sign of the cross on a candidate for baptism. Is not one cross, by the officiating priest, sufficient and impressive in its solemnity?

E. S. H

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 33 Upper Street, London N1 0PN.


The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Subscribe now to get full access

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read up to twelve articles for free. (You will need to register.)