The Reverend Frederic Edward Wigram was perpetual curate of Christ Church, Portswood (aliter Highfield Church) between 1864 and 1880. He was immeasurably well connected. His paternal grandfather was Sir Robert Wigram, Bart (1744-1830), merchant and shipbuilder with a personal fortune estimated in 1809 at over £500,000. With his second wife Eleanor (daughter of John Watts of Southampton, sometime secretary to the victualling office), Robert had 17 children, including 12 surviving sons. Edward Wigram - Sir Robert's 18th child and later Treasurer of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge - was father of Frederic Edward, born on 1 June 1834 in the 'Wigram enclave' in Walthamstow. His mother was Catherine, daughter of George Smith: member of a prominent Nottingham banking family, director (deputy chairman 1805-6) of the East India Company and MP variously for Lostwithiel, Wendover and Midhurst. She was also a niece to Lord Carrington. Frederic's uncles included Money Wigram, shipbuilder of Blackwall with, after 1850, a yard in Northam, Sir James Wigram, MP for Leominster and a vice chancellor in the court of chancery, and the Reverend Joseph Cotton Wigram, rector of St Mary's Southampton, 1850-60, and subsequently bishop of Rochester.

The latter two uncles each married into the Arkwright family of Cromford in Derbyshire. Frederic married into an equally wealthy East Midlands family. Frances Wright, who he married on 31 May 1859, was the third daughter of Francis Wright of Lenton Hall on the outskirts of Nottingham and, after 1849, of Osmaston Manor in Derbyshire. Frederic’s father-in-law was one of the three original directors of the Midland Railway Company, later becoming director and sole proprietor of the Butterley Company. St Pancras railway station is perhaps his greatest legacy. Francis's estate at death in 1873 was worth £1.4 million. Frederic was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge: alma mater to several of his relatives. Following an aegrotat degree in 1857 he entered the church, becoming assistant curate of St Paul's, Cambridge (1858-63) and curate of Wanstead, Essex before transferring to Portswood. He was an active supporter of the Church Missionary Society, becoming honorary clerical secretary of the Southampton Auxiliary in September 1872. He became honorary secretary of the national society in 1880 following the death of the then secretary - his brother-in-law the Reverend Henry Wright - in a swimming accident in Coniston Water: a tragedy compounded by the birth of his 12th child the following day. Frederic left Highfield on 4 December 1880 to devote the rest of his professional life to the work of the society. In 1887 he started a world tour to visit the society's principal stations. He is believed to have given £200,000 of his own money to aid its work. He resigned the secretaryship in late 1895 owing to ill health. The bishop of London, in recognition of his work, appointed him a prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral in December 1895. Frederic Wigram died at his home - Oak Hill House in Hampstead - on 10 March 1897, aged 62 years. Probate was valued at £123,116-8s-5d. His wife died on 16 February 1914.

Frederic and Frances Wigram had 11 children: Emily Francis (baptized January 1861 but died 1 day old), Edward Filmer (June 1862; died January 1867), Edmund Francis Edward (February 1865), Catherine Gillett (July 1866; died 1867), Eleanor Selina (February 1868), Beresford Edward (June 1870), Agnes Margaret (April 1872), Harold Frederick Edward (October 1873), Marcus Edward (July 1875), Loftus Edward (June 1877) and Amy Katherine (March 1881). Three followed their father's calling as a missionary. The eldest surviving son, Edmund Francis Edward, took holy orders and for 23 years was an honorary missionary for the Church Mission Society in India. On his return to England he became CMS Secretary for India. The eldest surviving daughter, Eleanor Selina, also became a missionary in India, before marrying the Reverend Edmund Carr of Tinnevilly [Tirunelveli] in southeastern India. Beresford Wigram became a missionary in Uganda.


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