Rev. Edward Nares D.D. (1762-1841)


A Miniature by Anna Dovetin, 1827


Edward with his elder brother George in c.1775.
The artist is thought to be J. Hamilton Mortimer 1744-89.
The boys are wearing their Westminster School clothes and are
standing in front of their home, Warbrook House, Eversley, Hants.

The third son of Sir George Nares, born on 26 March 1762, in Carey Street, London.  He was taught to read by his mother, to whom he was devoted, and sent to Westminster School, which was the only school he ever attended.  He became a fellow of Merton College, Oxford and Regius Professor of Modern History and Modern Languages.  Subject of "A Versatile Professor", by George Cecil White, he was the (anonymous) author of "Thinks I to Myself".  In 1803 he published "Eis Theos, Eis Mesites", in which he examines how far the philosophical notion of the existence of other worlds is consistent with the Scriptures!  He expanded on this subject in the Bampton Lectures he gave in 1805.  We also have a short handwritten document, which I have transcribed, outlining some family history, which has been very useful historically and also has some very poignant moments - click here to read it.

In June 1792 he took Holy Orders, something he had delayed doing, not for any lack in faith but because of the possible opportunity for a diplomatic post as well as a candidature for a Merton Fellowship.  He was Curate-in-Charge of St Peter's in the East, Oxford from 1793. Then Rector of Biddenden in Kent from 1798 and then New Church, Romney in Kent from 1827.


Lady Charlotte Spencer Churchill
from an engraving showing her in theatrical costume (see below)

He was married first, on the 16th April 1797, to Lady Georgiana "Charlotte" Spencer Churchill, daughter of George - the 4th Duke of Marlborough.  He had made friends with Georgiana's brother, Henry, at Oxford and had eventually given in to repeated invitations to join the family at Blenheim to take part in the theatrical events staged by the family.  These were quite elaborate events, attended by the press and several performances being given of each production in the 200 seat theatre at Blenheim.  He found he had an undiscovered talent on the stage, though he was very modest about it, and became a very popular guest and a frequent visitor at their various households.  It was often assumed that he held a post there, either as tutor or librarian, but this was not the case as the Duke valued his company as a visitor rather than an employee and the Duchess once declared that "it was impossible for her to express how much they appreciated the pleasure of his company, and the more he could make it convenient to be at Blenheim the more happy he would make them".  It was not surprising that an attachment formed between Georgiana and Edward and they assumed that her parents were aware of this.  It came as a surprise, therefore, that they refused to consent to their marriage when approached, though they did allow them to continue corresponding.  Edward, at some point, wrote somewhat hasty letter to the Duke, expressing his frustration, to which the Duke took great offense.  After a few months, seeing that their daughter's mind was made up, they allowed the marriage to take place quietly at Henley, though none of her family were present.  They did continue to invite Georgiana to Blenheim, but as Edward was never included in the invitation she never accepted and never set foot in the house again.  Fortunately, the rest of the family were very welcoming and though rumours were spread about the relationship between Edward and her family he was at pains to deny that he had anything but the greatest respect for them.  It has been said that they had eloped, but this was probably an elaboration based on the quite widely held opinion that the Duke was unreasonable in not giving his consent.

In 1798 they had a daughter, Elizabeth Martha who went on to marry her cousin, Lord George Henry Spencer Churchill. They lost a son, in infancy, the following year and had another daughter, Charlotte Maria (b. 30 July 1800) who died, aged 3, on 22 Dec 1803.  (There is a Memorial Inscription on a slab in Biddenden Church, below).

Charlotte suffered from "spasmodic rheumatism" and, after a prolonged period of suffering, died in 1802 in Bath, where she had been taken in the hope that her health might improve.  In 1803 he married  Cordelia Adams, and their 4 children were Rev. Edward Robert Nares b.1804, George Walter Adams Nares b.1806, Mary Ann Rolls Nares (b.1808) and Caroline Louisa Nares.

Cordelia died on 6th May 1856, aged 75, and Edward died on 23rd July 1841 and was buried at Biddenden church, (above), in Kent, where he had been rector for 43 years!  (There is a Memorial Inscription to him before the altar and a tablet on the North Wall).