This letter, dated April 10th 1711, from the Reverend Samuel Gray to Dr William Cave, Canon of Windsor, seeking financial assistance or a change of living, commences with an interesting approach:
As your great delight is in doing good, as Misery is the object of Mercy, your Reverence has a seasonable opportunity to exert your goodness, in the relief of (with his wife & 7 children) your distressed servant, Vicar of East Riston [Ruston]. A sad melancholy village on low sunken ground, overflowd with water one half of the year, & up to the ancles in mire the other; of near an hundred scattering familys, at a great distance from each other, very poor for the most part, & very sickly…… I am well assured that had your Reverences understood what a troublesome, unhealthy, mean Vicarage it is you had never sent me thither … [SGC XVI.3.7]
It seems that the Dean and Canons took pity on Samuel Gray’s financial plight, awarding him a special allowance of £10 in September that year [SGC VI.B.5] for which he was duly grateful, writing to Chapter on 22 October 1711: ‘Had it not been for your late Great Charity of 10 lib all my family must have perished, who by your undeserved goodness are now supported’. However, Gray does not seem to have moved from East Ruston in Norfolk until some years later – the next vacancy there was not to arise until 1714. By the time of his death, in 1719, he had become Vicar of Wennington. However, his widow and seven children were left in considerable debt and Mrs Gray was forced to appeal again to the Dean and Canons’ charity. She was awarded eight guineas, in addition to the two guineas she had apparently received earlier, on signing an agreement against future claims [SGC VI.B.6].
Clare Rider (Archivist and Chapter Librarian)