Alexander Baguley

Alexander Baguley signed the Cocking parish register as curate for the year 1697/98, at which time he was rector of the parish of Burton with Coates, near Petworth.

Baguley was born at Oakenbottom, near Bolton, Lancashire in about 1649, the son of Alexander and Katherine Baguley. He matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford in July 1668 and graduated as a Bachelor of Arts in 1672.

He was ordained as a deacon by John Wilkins, Bishop of Chester on 19 September 1672 and as a priest by Wilkins’ successor, Bishop John Pearson on 14 June 1674. Two weeks later, on 27 June Baguley was instituted as rector at Aughton, near Ormskirk, by Bishop John Pearson. His patron was Gabriel Hesketh.

In May 1679, Baguley was deprived of his appointment on the grounds of simony.Note 1 According to the diary of Revd. Oliver Heywood:

Mr. Hesketh, a papist and profligate gentleman, lost the presentation at cards to Mr. BanastreNote 2 of Bank. The relatives of ‘young Baguley’ obtained it by giving £100 to Mr. Banastre, hoping to evade the law of simony by calling this sum the price of a horse they bought. The bishop refusing to institute except on a presentation by the true patron, the latter was induced to agree by a present of 20 guinea pieces.

The case against Baguley was brought at the Exchequer of Pleas (Court of Exchequer) by John Brownsword who was appointed to the rectory at Aughton as his successor.

Four years after being deprived of the rectory at Aughton, Baguley was appointed as curate at Woolavington (now East Lavington)Note 3 on 29 August 1683. The rector at Woolavington, Robert Leeves was also rector of Warminghurst near Storrington, and a canon at Chichester Cathedral. In May 1693, Baguley relinquished his appointment at Woolavington following the death of Robert Leeves and the appointment of Daniel Lafite as rector.

Baguley was also appointed curate at Duncton in February 1691, and appears to have retained this position until his death. The rector at Duncton, John Price was also rector at Petworth.

His first appointment to a living in the Chichester diocese came on 29 May 1693 when he was instituted as rector of the joint benefice of Burton with Coates by the Bishop of Chichester, Robert Grove. His patron was Sir William Goring, 3rd Baronet, of Burton Park, of which St Richard’s is the parish church. The other church in the benefice was St Agatha’s at Coates, about two miles to the east.

Baguley’s final appointment came on 20 July 1705, when he was appointed as rector at Upwaltham. At this time, it would appear that he was rector of both Upwaltham and Burton with Coates, as well as curate at Duncton, all within a six mile radius.

Baguley died in early 1706, never having married. In his will (which was proved for probate on 15 April 1706) after small legacies to his landlord, Nicholas Wiltshire and his wife Mary, and to the poor of the parishes of Upwaltham, Coates and Duncton, he left his estate to three friends, all priests: William Simcoe of Longhorsley, Northumberland (formerly rector at Coates), Charles Elstob of Tillington and George Goodwin of Graffham (who succeeded him as curate at Cocking).


Note 1      “Simony” is defined as “the act of selling church offices and roles” and was still prevalent in the Church of England in the nineteenth century. The most celebrated example was that of the Bishop of St Davids, Thomas Watson, who was deprived of his position on the grounds of simony in 1699.

Note 2      Baguley’s mother, Katherine, was the widow of Richard Banstre.

Note 3      The former parish church at Woolavington is now the chapel of Seaford College.