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Rev. John Till, Incumbent at St Lawrence, 1845-1901

The Rev. John Till, c.1810-1901, was the incumbent at St Lawrence, Gnosall for 55 years, a ministry stretching almost the entire length of Queen Victoria’s reign. He was responsible for the fine Tudor-style ex-parsonage by the churchyard. According to the censuses, John Till was born about 1810 and baptised at St Mary’s, Stafford. In 1841 a 30-year-old Clerk called John Till was living with parents Thomas and Mary Till (farmers) near Eccleshall, and the 1851 census showed a retired farmer Thomas Till with wife Mary living in Gnosall village (near Michael Belcher and grocer Thomas Blackband). It’s possible these were his parents. John Till was admitted to Queen’s College, Cambridge, on 2nd June 1835, ordained deacon (Lichfield) 1840, gained his BA in 1841, was ordained priest (Hereford, for Lichfield) in 1843. He was curate of Adbaston, 1840-2, curate of Standon, 1842-5, and gained his MA in 1845 1 In 1845 Rev. Fearon Jenkinson died, and John Till took over as Perpetual Curate of Gnosall with Knightley. The Standon congregation presented him with a farewell gift of a plate worth 13 guineas. 2 In 1847 when Queen Victoria sent out a letter urging churchgoers to contribute to help the suffering “Irish and Scotch”, John Till preached sermons at Gnosall and Knightley, and collected £21. In 1850 he had the “good parsonage house, in the Elizabethan style” (now Parkside), erected in 1850, at the cost of £1100, to which he contributed £400 and the rest was subscription. 3 John had married Elizabeth (possibly nee Hill, in Stafford, 1842). On most of the censuses it says she was born in Willenhall (between Wolverhampton & Walsall) in about 1820, but the 1871 census gives Kirk Langley, Derbyshire, and the 1891 one, Gnosall. They had children: Mary Alice (born 2 nd July 1846, baptised 25 July), John Stanley (baptised 16 July 1850), Frances Catherine (1854), Emily (1856), Thomas (1858), Richard (1859), Annie (1861) and Augustus George (1864). In November 1871, John Till wrote to the Manchester Evening News with reference to the incomes of English clergymen, saying he had been incumbent of a large agricultural parish with two churches and 1800 people for thirty years. His income was £120 p.a. and by the time he had paid his curate, he had £40 left for himself. The Wrexham Advertiser replied, commending his devotion but saying that “Somebody of course – we don’t know who – has got hold of the great tithes of Gnosall or the vicar would not be so badly off”. In May 1880 his eldest daughter Mary Alice married Henry Stair Sandys, Commander Royal Navy (ret’d) at Gnosall church. They had their son James Del baptised there in 1885. In 1890 the Manchester Courier reported that a silver inkstand had been presented to John Till to celebrate his 50 th year of ordination. In October 1890 his daughter Catherine married William Fortescue Bearcroft, a vicar’s son, in Malta. In June 1895 John’s wife Elizabeth died. John’s eldest son John Stanley had followed his father to Cambridge and gained his BA in 1877. He was ordained a deacon, and a priest in 1879; had been a curate in Kinoulton, Nottinghamshire and became curate of Knightley with Gnosall, 1877- 1902. He shared the Gnosall baptisms with his father, and was doing the majority of the baptisms and nearly all the burials by the 1890s, finishing in 1897. In 1898 a new curate Anthony C Deane (an author and poet) took over from John Stanley Till. John Till officiated at his last burial in June 1901, and died aged 91 on 18 July. He left an estate of £1715 9s 1d; his executors were surgeon Walter Goodall Copestake and his daughter Mary Alice Sandys. In September 1902, a meeting of parishioners resolved to restore the ancient chapel in the north transept of Gnosall church in memory of John Till’s 60 years ministry. John Stanley Till went to be a clergyman in Sussex (1901) and died in Berkshire in 1905. Another son, Richard Henry, was ordained a deacon in Worcester, and worked as a curate in Yardley, but died in 1884. He is recorded performing a baptism at Gnosall in September 1883 as “Curate of Yardley”. Felicity Potter 1 Cambridge University Alumni, via Ancestry. 2 Derby Mercury, 8 Oct 1845 3 Gnosall Trade Directory 1851.
John Tills signature in 1859
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