Revd. Claud Brown MA, 1850-1929
First Vicar of Verwood and West Moors

Claud Brown was the third son of John Wyld Brown and Mary Mackellar and was born at Woolloomooloo near Sydney docks, in 1850.  His father John and family established a successful merchanting business from Leith, Scotland to Australia; Tea proving a profitable commodity.  "They were Presbyterian and Claud Brown was brought up on the Shorter Catechism.  He was a religious boy and knew his Catechism well but he used to manage always to get stumped by the last question to avoid being put onto the Longer Catechism!"  Later this Scottish family (their original name was Broun) settled down in London at Lancaster Gate and the family conformed to the Church of England.  Claud Brown went to school in Highgate and then to Wadham College, Oxford, where he read Theology, and after a course at St John's College, Highbury, was ordained deacon in Lent 1874 and priest in Advent the same year.  Claud Brown served curacies at St Leonard's, Hythe in Kent, Much Wenlock in Shropshire (whilst there in 1875 he married his 2nd cousin Marion Janet Wyld in London).  They went to Harmondsworth in Middlesex where his first son (Claud) Leonard (a Reader here in West Moors in 1903, later to become Revd. Canon) was born on 31st July 1879.  Sadly Marion died a fortnight later, after just 3 years of happy marriage.
 
Claud Brown
"Shortly after, my father became curate of St James' Newlands in West London, where he stayed five years; he taught me the rudiments of cricket (of which he was very fond) in Kensington Gardens.  When old and blind he had to be read out the complete scores of all first-class cricket from the Times daily, a job given to his granddaughter Marion much against her will!  Both my mother and father were devoutly religious.  I have a copy of the Vulgate (i.e. Latin Bible) given to my father in 1864, when he was fourteen, a proof of the bent of his mind already at that age.  In 1887 my father accepted the living of Verwood and West Moors, in Dorset, where he maintained three churches and three schools almost entirely out of his own pocket, besides building a new Chancel (1892) and Vicarage at Verwood, (St Michael & All Angels, pictured right) and a new stone church at a cost of 8,000 (St Mary the Virgin 1896), and School (St Mary's) with houses for the Curate and Schoolmaster at West Moors (both pictured below)."  This was particularly altruistic as the West Moors population was very low at the time.  Over 100 years later, the people of West Moors are still blessed through the school and church building that he provided in the late 1800's.  "Claude Brown was a very high churchman and indeed used up the not inconsiderable family fortune in restoring his three churches, as well as those of high church friends, to a more catholic style."
 

St Michael and All Angels
St Michael and All Angels

St Mary's School
St Mary's School

St Mary the Virgin 1896
St Mary the Virgin


In 1882 Claud Brown married again - Georgina Florence Stephens Hyde from Southampton; Verwood's 1891 census, lists the Verwood Vicarage as home to Claud Brown 40, Georgina 35, Claud known as Leonard aged 11, Philip aged 2 and Mary aged 8 months old.  There were also five servants; a cook, housemaid, nurse, under nurse (Eliza Jacobs, 13 from West Moors) and a parlour maid.  The coachman and his wife lived in the coachman's house together with a 'boarder, 19' from Oxford who was listed as Sacristan (perhaps an ordinand?) - presumably supported by Claud Brown.  By 1911 Emma Cuthberta Darke, niece, 33, single, & Philip Polhill Darke, nephew, 29, single, both born Salisbury lived with the family.  We know that Claud Brown would only walk on Sundays, often three times on a Sunday, down to Three Legged Cross, All Saints Church, which originally was a metal building built 1893 as pictured below.  Here also is Claud Brown's Three Legged Cross School and School House.  Revd. Claud Brown left us in 1917 after 30 years, but his foundations remain!
 

Three Legged Cross School and School House
Three Legged Cross School and School House

All Saints Church
All Saints Church


Please remember Revd. Claud Brown when you enter the churches and schools he generously established! 

Research by Revd. Andrew Rowland.(All quotations from Revd. Canon Leonard Brown source http://www.my-broun-wyld-stewart-lang-ancestry.org.uk.  Photographs from Verwood Historical Society and West Moors Parish websites.)  For more information see also St Michael and All Saints churches website.