Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Rev. Francis Cruse of Worthing, Sussex

I’ve now been in touch with Mel McNaught who is also descended from the Cruse family of Rode in Somerset. Mel’s great grandmother Annie Florence Cruse was born in Ceylon in 1874. Annie was the daughter of Alfred Brace Cruse, a civil engineer who went out to India in 1860. Alfred married Elizabeth Ann Fonseca in 1864 in Madras. I shall look forward to learning more about the Indian connection in due course.

Mel has kindly sent me this wonderful photograph of Francis Cruse, who was for many years the vicar of Worthing in Sussex.

Francis was born on 4th January 1823 in Warminster, Wiltshire. He was baptised on 1st January 1824 at St Lawrence, Warminster, along with his sister Frances Ann, who is probably his twin. Francis was the son of Jeremiah CRUSE (1781-1861) and Elizabeth KNIGHT (1783-1840) and the grandson of Jeremiah Cruse (1758-1819) the land surveyor.

Francis went to St Edmund Hall, Oxford University, where he matriculated on 5th March 1846 aged 23. He was awarded a BA in 1851. He took up a position as a curate in Earlstoke, Wiltshire, in 1851 and was ordained as a deacon later that same year in the Diocese of Salisbury. The following year he was ordained as a priest. From 1852 to 1856 Francis served as the curate of Great Warley in Essex. In 1853 he married Charlotte Augusta Brace in Bath. In 1856 he moved to London to become the curate of the parish of St Jude in Southwark, where he remained until 1864 when he was appointed as the vicar of Christ Church, Worthing, Sussex. Francis was awarded an MA from Oxford University in 1875. Presumably inspired by his studies Francis wrote a book in 1879 entitled A Few Facts and Testimonies Touching on Ritualism which was written under the pseudonym "Oxoniensis". If anyone is interested in reading Francis's masterpiece the Trinity Library in Toronto have a first edition of the book available online in their open libary. I would, however, not recommend it as bedtime reading!

We are most fortunate to have a contemporary description of the Reverend Francis Cruse and his wife Charlotte from Helen Roberts who lived in Deverell Cottage next door to the vicarage in Worthing. Helen contributed a story called 'The Parlour' to the Past Times Project in which she provides the following description of Francis and Charlotte:
The Vicar, the Reverend Francis Cruse, who had long white hair and a rather sheep-like voice, 'took' young gentlemen who were reading for the Universities. His wife had long grey curls, and must have been the last gentlewoman in Sussex to wear ankle length pantalets. When she walked down the road thus attired, holding her voluminous black skirts high in either hand, she created as much interest as the young gentlemen boarders. They would go down to bathe with bright coloured towel round their necks, or hurry to some tennis party in soft hats embroidered, 'Oscar-Wildely', with sunflowers.
Francis died in 1891 at the age of 67 years.

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