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Rev. Thompson, Joseph Hesselgrave (1811 - 1889)


From a portrait in St Peter's Cradley


1811 Sculcoates (Hull)
1830 (about) Louth, Lincs
1840 Oxford
1845 Worcester
1855 Halesowen
1856 Cradley, Worc.



Additional links

Annotated family tree. (updated 2015.9.24) link
A more complete biography. link
British specimens held in the University of Hull Herbarium (HLU). link
A personal account of the character of Joseph Thompson as related by the son of his curate at Cradley. Transcribed from the Lichfield Mercury, 1922. link
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Biographical notes

Joseph Hesselgrave Thompson, botanist and geologist, was born in Sculcoates, now a part of Hull, in 1811. As a young man he acted as a private tutor before being admitted to Magdalen Hall, Oxford, graduating in 1845. On his graduation he was appointed curate to Rev Henry Havergal at St Nicolas' Church, Worcester, where he remained for the next ten years. After a disagreement with the incumbent, he was installed as vicar of Cradley Chapel (later St. Peter's) Cradley, Worcestershire in 1856, after a brief curacy in Halesowen. He spent the rest of his life as vicar of Cradley, Worcestershire although he was frequently absent on his continental ramblings.

He was a prolific collector of botanical specimens and his main collection is now held in the Worcester Museum herbarium. A considerable number of his British and continental plants are also held at Hull University (HLU) although most of these do not carry his name.

1811 April 21 : Birth He was baptised at St Mary's church, Sculcoates 1811 May 18, the son of Samuel Thompson, merchant's clerk and his wife Mary. The entry records his birthdate.
1833 February 8 :
¹The Hull Packet - 1833 February 8 -
"On Wednesday the 30th ult. About half-past seven o'clock in the evening, as Mr. Josh. H. Thompson, son of Mr Thompson, of Mason-street, in this town and tutor to the sons of H. Allenby, Esq., was on his way from Kenwick-house to Louth, he was attacked by four men, who pinioned him and searched his pockets. As, however, it is Mr. T's custom never to carry with him anything of value, they deprived him only of his purse, containing sixpence, his gloves, hat, and a book, which from having his name written in it, may possibly lead to the discovery of the delinquents."
1835 February : Louth ¹Stamford Mercury - 1835 February 13
… Another class for the study of Botany is to commence in March next, conducted by Mr. J. H. Thompson. Lectures are delivered monthly, to which the friends of the members are admitted …"
1837 March : Temperence Society ¹Stamford Mercury - 1837 March 17
…The business of the meeting commenced with prayer; and after a brief address by the Chairman, Mr. J. H. Thompson (secretary) read the first annual report, which had been drawn up by him with great care, and displayed the zeal and eloquence with which he labours in this good cause. …"
1845 : Oxford B.A. Graduated from Magdalen Hall, Oxford with fourth-class honours.
1845 May 18 : Deacon ¹Worcester Journal - 1845 May 22 -
"WORCESTER ORDINATIONS. - The Bishop of this diocese held an ordination at the Cathedral on Sunday last ... The following candidates were admitted into holy orders : - ... DEACONS ... Thompson, Joseph Hesselgrave, B.A. Magdalen Hall, Oxford ..."
1854 : Departure from Worcester The pamphlet - "Your Rector & Your Curate" by George W Hastings gives an account of the circumstances of Joseph leaving his curacy in Worcester. It may not be entirely impartial …
[Google Books]
1855 : Curate ¹Worcestershire Chronicle - 1855 January 31 -
"The Rev. J. H. Thompson. Last week Mr. Thompson received a letter from Archdeacon Hone, offering him in the kindest manner the curacy of Halesowen, and since that time we understand that the Archdeacon and the Rev. Lister Isaac, to whom Mr. Thompson was already previously engaged, have arranged together that Mr. Thompson shall take the duty at Pirton for three months, and then proceed to Halesowen. ... On Friday last the committee appointed at the meeting of parishioners of St. Nicholas, on the Ist of November last, presided over hy Mr. G. W. Hastings, presented the Rev. Mr. Thompson with purse of fifty guineas, and an address embodying their sentiments towards him."
1856 : Vicar ¹Worcester Journal - 1856 January 26
"PREFERMENTS - The Rev. J.H. Thompson, Curate of Halesowen, and formerly of St. Nicholas, in this city, has been presented by the Ven. Archdeacon Hone, to the living of Cradley, near Stourbridge."
1863 : Auvergne His trip to the Auvergne with Edwin Lees was documented in the pages of the Worcester Journal by the latter, under the pseudonym of A "faithful" correspondent, link
1888 : Pyrenees Botanical (and geological?) expedition to the Pyrenees with Dr John Fraser.
1889 April 18 : Death Joseph Thompson died of heart-failure on Thursday morning. Although performing his normal parish duties the previous week he had complained of some weakness... The linked document has transcriptions of newspaper reports. link

1 Transcription reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive

Managed by Richard Middleton; last updated 2017 January 21