Broad Street Wrington HISTORY
John Vane's parentage
John Gowar
5th June, 2008

It is gratifying to see that Carolyn Grant and Ron Tempest have each, independently, come to the same conclusion about the parentage of the Reverend John Vane as the one I expressed in my short article in the Wrington Village Journal of February 2006. Perhaps I may summarise the evidence that indicates, beyond reasonable doubt, that John’s father was Henry Vane (later Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, Bt.) and not William Harry Vane (later the 1st Duke of Cleveland and the holder of the Wrington estate).

John Vane was Rector of Wrington from 1828 until his death in 1870. He was also Perpetual Curate of Burrington from 1831. Biographical summaries of the principal events in his life appear in a number of sources. They contain several discrepancies. All have some omissions and all are incorrect in naming his father. Except for the Dulwich College Register, they follow Boase and state that he was the natural son of the Duke of Cleveland. Though incorrect, this is excusable, whereas Ormiston’s claim that he was the ‘acknowledged son of Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (afterwards 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, K.G., Sec of State for Foreign Affairs)’ is not. To my knowledge, no primary evidence has been cited to support either claim.

Sir Henry Vane-Tempest married Anne, Countess of Antrim, in 1799. Their only child was a daughter, Frances Anne, who was born on January 17th, 1800, and who was to become the 3rd Marchioness of Londonderry. The 7th Marchioness of Londonderry has written a biography of her husband’s ancestor, in which she makes four separate references to an illegitimate half-brother of Frances Anne. He was called Jack, was eight years older than her, was acknowledged by his father and ‘brought forward’. We therefore have a Jack Vane who was born in 1791 or 1792 and so is an exact match to the Reverend John Vane.

We may note that the Duke of Cleveland, whose family name was Vane, was godfather to Frances Anne and patron of two of John’s livings (Wrington and Wroxeter). Also, that the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, whom Frances Anne later married, was Lord Castlereagh’s step-brother. No doubt these were the origins of the confusions.

In his will, made in 1811, Sir Henry Vane-Tempest directed that John Vane ‘now at Cambridge’ be paid £5000. At his funeral in 1813, John Vane was one of the principal mourners. When news of Sir Henry’s final illness was received at his sister’s home, one of the guests was George Eden, who was to become the second Lord Auckland. In a letter to his father, preserved in the British Library he wrote about Sir Henry: ‘He will have … a natural son of whom he was very fond and who was at Ledstone with us & much liked by all who knew him’. This was clearly John.

John Vane was to be the executor and residuary beneficiary of the wills of Sir Henry Vane-Tempest’s sister and her husband, who had no children of their own but were very close to John and his sister, their nephew and niece. John Vane’s own executor and residuary beneficiary was Frances Anne’s eldest son, then called Earl Vane and later to become the fifth Marquess of Londonderry.

One of the items named in John’s will was the famous Hoppner portrait of his aunt (Sir Henry Vane-Tempest’s sister). He specified that it should be returned to Wynyard, the house in County Durham in which he and his step-sister had been brought up. It is now in the private collection of the present Marquess of Londonderry.

A summary of John Vane’s life

Born 1791; at Westminster School, 1801-08; admitted pensioner at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1809; B.A. 1814; moved to Magdalene College where he became a Fellow; M.A. 1817; appointed Schoolmaster, or Second Fellow, at Dulwich College, 1818-48; appointed Vicar of Wroxeter, 1823-8; appointed Vicar of St Giles, Camberwell, a newly created parish within which Dulwich College lay, 1824-32; appointed Rector of Wrington, 1828-70; appointed Perpetual Curate of Burrington, 1831-70; appointed Chaplain-in-Ordinary to the monarch, 1831-70; appointed Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons (James Abercromby), 1835-9; appointed Deputy Clerk of the Closet, 1839-70; died at Burrington Vicarage, 29th December, 1870.

Locally, he is known for his contributions to the founding of the schools at Burrington, Lulsgate and Redhill, to the founding of Christ Church, Redhill, and St. Katharine’s, Felton, to the restoration of All Saints' and the saving of its screen. He encouraged and supported many local societies, in particular the Wrington and Burrington Agricultural Association and the Wrington Female Friendly Society to which he donated six silver-plate teapots which are still in use.

John Gowar
5th June, 2008

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