Headington history: People

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Mrs Maria Ballachey, née Lock (1797–1884)

Maria Lock (later Mrs Ballachey) (1797–1884) was born at 6 & 7 High Street in All Saints Parish in Oxford. She was the daughter of the banker and goldsmith Sir Joseph Lock and his wife Elizabeth Watson, and the family’s country estate was at Bury Knowle House in Headington.

At the time of the 1841 census, Miss Maria Lock was living with her 80-year-old father in his High Street home.

Two years later in 1843 Maria got married at the age of 46 to a widower, George Baker Ballachey. The marriage announcement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 13 May 1843:

MARRIED: On Thursday last, at the church of St. Giles’s, in this city, by the Rev. the Warden of Wadham College, George Baker Ballachey, of Edgefield Mount in the county of Norfolk, Esq. to Maria, only daughter of Sir Joseph Lock.

George Baker Ballachey's background

George was born in Oxford on 6 December 1782 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 7 January 1783, the son of George and Joanna Ballachey,

His grandfather was Panayoti Ballachey, a Greek who was described as being of St James's, Westminster when he was matriculated as a privileged fencing master to the University of Oxford on 8 June 1761. Parson Woodforde mentions Panayoti in his diaries many times, as they belonged to the same masonic lodge in Oxford.

George was a solicitor who had been active at Edgefield Mount in Norfolk and in London in relation to the agricultural depression and the enacting of the Poor Law, and was instrumental in organizing a significant percentage of English emigrants to Canada around 1840. He married his first wife, Mary Peace Holloway, at St Leonard's Church, Shoreditch on 15 March 1804, and they had a number of children. She died on 16 November 1837, and he was aged 60 at the time of the marriage to Maria Lock in 1843.

In January 1844, just ten months after the marriage, Sir Joseph Lock died, leaving his property in All Saints to his son Edward, and his property in Headington to his daughter Mrs Ballachey, who moved up to Bury Knowle House with her husband.

On 29 June 1848 at St Andrew's Church, Headington, George Ballachey's daughter by his first marriage, Sophia Holloway Ballachey, married the Revd Edward Hill, Curate of Ludwell, Wiltshire.

In 1857 George Ballachey's granddaughter Sophia Louisa Ballachey died at the age of ten. She was the daughter of his son John Panayoty Ballachey of Edgefield Mount, and must have been staying with her grandparents at Bury Knowle House at the time, and was buried in St Andrew's churchyard on 5 May.

Less than five months later, on 27 October 1857, George Baker Ballachey died at the age of 74 and was buried in St Andrew's churchyard on 4 November. His effects came to under £800, and his executor was his son John Panayoty Ballachey (the father of the residuary legatees Frederick Gurney Ballachey and Mary Eliza Ballachey, who were then both minors). (The administration expired and had t be regranted to Mary Eliza Ballachey in 1871.)

Mrs Ballachey was much more wealthy than her husband. The Return of Owners of Land of 1873 shows that she owned over 35 acres of land in Oxfordshire, which is more than her father was awarded under the Headington Enclosure Act; the extra land she owned may have been his property in Iffley. As well as the whole of the present Bury Knowle Park, she had land fronting the north end of Old High Street, and on the north-east corner of the main crossroads. She also had a large field of over five acres at the north-east end of Windmill Road. (The latter was sold soon after her death and is now occupied by shops and houses down as far as St Leonard’s Road, and by the whole of Holyoake Road.)

Mrs Ballachey could not have been more different from her father, and, possibly influenced by her late husband, she dedicated herself to helping the poor of Headington.

Old Headington & Barton Infant School was founded in 1840, just outside the side entrance to Bury Knowle House, and was supported by Mrs Ballachey for most if not all of its life.

British Workman plaque


Mrs Ballachey was also involved in the Temperance Movement, and in 1880 gave some land she owned in Old High Street for the establishment of a British Workman (now No. 67, but then numbered 27). Many lectures, meetings, concerts and entertainments were held there, including those of the Church of England Temperance Society (CETS).

Mrs Ballachey died on 7 February 1884 at the age of nearly 87. The following “In Memoriam” published in the Headington Parish Magazine of that month shows how much more popular she had been in Headington than her father:

The parish has sustained a loss during the past month in the death of Mrs. Ballachey, one of the oldest and most generally respected of its inhabitants, which took place on February 7th. Nearly all her life has been passed at Headington, and perhaps few, if any, parishioners can remember the time when she was not resident amongst us. Had she lived one month more she would have attained the great age of 87.

Of the many acts of generosity and kindness done by her in the parish it would be impossible to speak fully. Much was done by her for the good of others so quietly and unobtrusively that often, perhaps, it was almost unnoticed or unknown. She shunned we believe any kind of publicity or notice. We cannot forget, however, how long and generously she has provided for the education of the infant children of Old Headington and Barton, by giving the school buildings and supporting the school during her lifetime with £20 a year. We shall also long remember how kindly, year after year, she has given the use of her grounds for the annual school treat, the Band of Hope treats, and the Temperance fête. Another monument of her generosity and interest in the welfare of this parish is engraved in stone on the British Workman, which it is well to remember is built on a site given by Mrs. Ballachey.

And not only in her outward acts, but we believe in her character and conduct generally, she has set the example of a Christian life. Of a simple faith, with a rigid sense of duty, with a warm attachment to the Church and its Services, and a consistent supporter of all she believed right, the parish has indeed lost by her removal a great influence for good. All we can hope is that the good she has done in her lifetime may bear much fruit in our midst, now that it has pleased God to remove her hence.

Mrs Ballachey's grave


Mrs Ballachey is buried in a large vault (right) just behind St Andrew’s Church in Headington with her sister, Mrs Elizabeth Wilson, who died 42 years earlier in 1842. At that time Mrs Ballachey was still Miss Lock, and she must have planned then that she should be buried with her sister.

Her husband and his granddaughter Sophia, who both died in 1857, lie in more modest graves beside her.

Her personal estate came to £13,732 18s. 6d., and her executors were the Revd Edward Hill of Salisbury, John Lock Watson of Worthing, and Miss Mary Eliza Ballachey of Headington.

© Stephanie Jenkins

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