Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Warneford, Samuel Wilson

WARNEFORD, SAMUEL WILSON (1763–1855), philanthropist, was born at Warneford Place, in the hamlet of Sevenhampton, attached to Highworth vicarage, North Wiltshire, in 1763. His family, one of the most ancient in that district, owned the manor and all the land in Sevenhampton. Samuel Wilson was the younger son of the Rev. Francis Warneford of Warneford Place, who married Catherine, daughter of Samuel Calverley, a wealthy drug merchant of Southwark, residing at Ewell, Surrey. He matriculated from University College, Oxford, on 14 Dec. 1779, and graduated B.A. 18 June 1783, M.A. 23 May 1786, B.C.L. 10 July 1790, D.C.L. 17 May 1810; and he was ordained in 1790.

Warneford married, at Colney Hatch, Middlesex, on 27 Sept. 1796, when he is described as ‘of Broughton, Oxfordshire,’ Margaret, eldest daughter of Edward Loveden Loveden (afterwards Edward Pryse Pryse, M.P.) of Buscot, Berkshire, and his own property was augmented by his wife's fortune. She died a few years later, without issue. He held, on the nomination of Pembroke College, Oxford, the rectory of Lydiard Millicent, Wiltshire, from 1809 to his death, and from June 1810 he combined with it the vicarage of Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire. On the creation of honorary canonries in the cathedral of Gloucester in June 1844, his name was placed first on the list, and he remained an honorary canon until his death. He died at the rectory, Bourton, on 11 Jan. 1855, in his ninety-second year, preserving his faculties to the last. On 17 Jan. he was buried under a tomb in the church.

Warneford resolved upon distributing his superfluous means in his lifetime, and by gradual donations, so that he might be able in his later gifts to correct any errors of arrangement and disposition made in the earlier benefactions. The churches of Bourton and Moreton-in-the-Marsh were refitted and improved by him at a cost of 1,000l. each. He built and endowed at Bourton a ‘retreat for the aged,’ and at Moreton he erected school buildings for children and an infants' school with house for its mistress. He provided also means for securing medical aid for the poor of these districts. The whole diocese of Gloucester received large sums from him for similar purposes, and he gave numerous benefactions to the colonial sees of Sydney and Nova Scotia.

His first large charity was the ‘Warneford Lunatic Asylum’ in the ecclesiastical parish of Headington Quarry, near Oxford. He founded in 1832 the Warneford, Leamington, and South Warwickshire Hospital at Leamington, and left it at his death the sum of 10,000l. His benefactions towards the cost of new buildings at the Queen's Hospital at Birmingham and for the endowment of chaplaincies, a professorship of pastoral theology, scholarships, &c., at the Queen's College, represented a total of 25,000l. On King's College, London, he bestowed large sums for the foundation of medical scholarships and for establishing prizes for the encouragement of theology among the matriculated medical students. He gave the site of the new boys' school to the Clergy Orphan School near Canterbury, and at his death he left that institution the sum of 13,000l. He also contributed large sums, during his life and at his death, to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and the Corporation for the Sons of the Clergy. The total of such gifts is said to have equalled 200,000l.; and in fulfilment of his intentions his niece, Lady Wetherell-Warneford, bequeathed 30,000l., the income of which was to be applied in building churches and parsonage-houses in poor districts within the ancient diocese of Gloucester, and 45,000l., the accruing interest of which was to be expended for the benefit of the widows and orphans of the poor clergy in the same district. Warneford's correspondence with Joshua Watson [q. v.] on charities began in 1837 (Churton, Joshua Watson, ii. 59, 313).

Peter Hollins of Birmingham executed a bust of Warneford for the Queen's Hospital in that city, and a statue of him by the same artist was erected in 1849 by public subscription for his asylum on Headington Hill. An engraving, by J. Fisher, of this statue is prefixed to the memoir by the Rev. Vaughan Thomas.

[Gent. Mag. 1796 ii. 877, 1851 i. 295, ii. 629, 1855 i. 528–30; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 452; Burke's Landed Gentry; Stratford's Wiltshire Worthies, pp. 149–52; Memoir by Rev. Vaughan Thomas, 1855; Cox's Charter of Queen's Coll. Birmingham; King's Coll. Calendar, 1898, pp. 464, 498; Guardian, 24 Jan. 1855, p. 71.]

W. P. C.