St. Vincent Beechey

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St Vincent Beechey (far left, seated) at the wedding of his granddaughter Mabel Champion Jones, in Camberley, Surrey, on 27th of July 1898. Mabel Champion Jones was the daughter of Beechey's daughter Charlotte.

St. Vincent Beechey (7 August 1806 – 19 August 1899) was a nineteenth-century vicar of Fleetwood and Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire and later of Worsley, Lancashire. He is known for founding Rossall School in Fleetwood, Lancashire in 1844 and was also President of the Manchester Photographic Society.[1] At the time of his death, it was believed that Beechey was the oldest clergyman in England, being 93 years old.[2]

Early life[edit]

St. Vincent was born in London the twenty-first child of William Beechey, court painter to King George III and Ann (née Jessop) Beechey. He was also named after his godfather, John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent, in recognition of his great naval victory in 1797. There is a painting of his godfather by his father.[3] St. Vincent Beechey was also brother to Frederick William Beechey the great naval commander and Richard Brydges Beechey, painter and Admiral.[4] He was educated in Sidcup under a Mr. Knowles and at Caius College, Cambridge.[5]

He married Mary Ann Ommaney in 1836. They had seven children.


Beechey memorial, St Marks, Worsley

Rossall School[edit]

St. Vincent was called to a meeting at the North Euston Hotel in 1844 by a young Corsican by the name of Zenon Vantini who was looking to make money through an educational insurance scheme. He had proposed two schools of five-hundred pupils in the Fylde area - one for boys, the other for girls.[8] St. Vincent soon rose to prominence in the scheme when it became apparent that any schools founded would be of Anglican foundation. The idea for a girls' school was dropped and it was decided that a school of 200 students was to open under the name of the North of England Church of England School - this later became Rossall School.[4]

Beechey had to raise funds for the opening of the new school and got the financial support of Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood, The Earl of Derby as patron, the Duke of Devonshire as vice-president and Archbishop Sumner, then Bishop of Chester and later Archbishop of Canterbury, as visitor. The school opened on 22 August 1844 in the grounds of Hesketh's Rossall Hall, with a 21-year lease on the aforementioned property and an option to purchase after ten years for £7000.[4] Beechey remained on the board of governors until 1856 at which point his association became a more informal supervisory one. He continued this role until his death in 1899. His views on the early days of the school can be read in his book - Rossall School Its Rise and Progress.[9] There is a memorial to him in St Mark's churchyard, Worsley, Lancashire.


  1. ^ Early Photography - Photographic Societies - Committee Members in the 1860s - Societies M N
  2. ^ a b c Microsoft Word - BJPAsummary.doc Archived 24 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ John Jervis by William Beechey, GAC, Retrieved 2 May 2017
  4. ^ a b c The Centenary History of Rossall School, William Furness, (Gale and Polden, 1944) p.5
  5. ^ "Beechey, St Vincent (BCY823SV)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  6. ^ Hilgay - Kelly's 1883
  7. ^ Townships - Newton | British History Online
  8. ^ The Centenary History of Rossall School, William Furness, (Gale and Polden, 1944) p.4
  9. ^ Rossall School, Its Rise and Progress - Canon St Vincent Beechy (1894)

Further reading[edit]

  • Canon St Vincent Beechey, Rossall School, Its Rise and Progress, 1894
  • John Frederick Rowbotham, History of Rossall School, First ed. 1895, John Heywood.
  • W. Furness, The Centenary History of Rossall School, 1945, Gale and Polden
  • Peter Bennett, A Very Desolate Position, 1977, Rossall Archives
  • Peter Bennett, Rossall Will be What You Make it, 1992, Rossall Archives
  • Derek Winterbottom, The Tide Flows On, 2006, Manx Press)