Headington history: People

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Samuel Warneford (1763–1855)

Samuel Wilson Warneford was the younger son of the Revd Francis Warneford of Warneford Place in the hamlet of Sevenhampton, which was attached to the Vicarage of Highworth in Wiltshire. His mother was Catherine Calverley, daughter of a wealthy drug merchant of Southwark.

Samuel Warneford

Head of Warneford’s statue



Above: Marble statue of Samuel Warneford in the entrance hall of the Warneford Hospital, Headington. It was sculpted by Peter Hollins of Birmingham in 1849, when Warneford was 86 years old


Right: Detail of the same statue showing Warneford’s face

Warneford matriculated at the University of Oxford from University College on 14 December 1779 and obtained his BA degree in 1783, his BCL in 1790, and his DCL in 1810. He was ordained a priest in 1787, and became curate of Norton Broyne (now Brize Norton).

He was living at Broughton when on 27 September 1796 he married Margaret, the eldest daughter of Edward Loveden Loveden (later Edward Pryse Pryse, MP) and his wife Margaret. His wife was 21 but a sickly ward of court, and her father was opposed to the match: but eventually a marriage settlement was reached linking the two families. Their wealth increased when Margaret was left £34,000 by her grandfather.

In 1809 Warneford bought the advowson of the rectory of Lydiard Millicent in Wiltshire and held the rectorship until his death; and in 1810 he also bought the advowson of the vicarage of Bourton on the Hill in Gloucestershire. He was also an honorary Canon of Gloucester Cathedral from 1844 until his death.

Warneford’s wife Margaret died in 1840.

Warneford became one of the governors of the Radcliffe Infirmary, which in 1812 appointed a committee to establish a lunatic asylum for persons “who though poor were not Paupers”. He subscribed to this project and joined the building committee, working with Vaughan Thomas on its development. The Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum eventually opened in Headington in 1826. His donations amounted to over £70,000 in money and property over his lifetime, and in 1843 it was renamed the Warneford Lunatic Asylum.

The 1851 census shows Samuel Wilson Warneford as a widower of 88, living alone at the Rectory at Bourton on the Hill, Gloucestershire with five servants (a butler, coachman, housekeeper, cook, and housemaid). Less than four years later, on 11 January 1855, he was to die there at the age of 91, and was buried in its church.

The “Will of Reverend Doctor Samuel Wilson Warneford, Doctor of Laws of Bourton on the Hill, Gloucestershire” (date of probate 8 February 1855) was deposited at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury: ref PROB 11/2207.

There is a much fuller entry on Samuel Warneford in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
The ODNB online is available free to many public library users, including those in Oxfordshire:
enter L followed immediately by your library ticket number in the “Library Card Login” box

© Stephanie Jenkins

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