The Reverend William Edward Thomas Seccombe Gray was always known as Tom. He and his wife Edith had two daughters, Mary and Jean, and one son, Gordon who was known as Peter.
He was Vicar of Hungerford from 1909 until 1924, and was much involved in the community life of the town during these years. He was the son of Rev WAG Gray, Vicar of Hungerford 1895-1900.
He was a very popular man and a keen sportsman, fishing and shooting being his special interests. Indeed he wrote a book on fishing under the pen-name 'Silver Devon' entitled 'Leaves from an Angler's Notebook'. He was an active member of the Hungerford Volunteer Fire Brigade, rising to the most senior rank of captain, and skillfully managed to combine his 'dog-collar' with his fireman's uniform!
E L "Jim" Davis wrote "His book "Pike Fishing" included "a vivid description of the killing of a 30lb female pike in teh river Wye on 16 Jan 1905" (the day Jim Davis was born!). He goes on to say "I moved to Hungerford in 1954 and shortly after visited the Railway Tavern where an old friend of mine, Percy Ecles, was Mine Host. Above the bar was a large cased pike, which upon examination proved to be the one I had read about - the one killed on the day I was born. I then learned that Thomas Seccombe Gray had been Vicar of Hungerford and that, upon leaving the parish, he had given the pike to the Hungerford Angling Association. The fish was kept as whichever inn the Association was currently using for their meetings. I last saw it at The Lamb Inn at the time when the late "Bill" Barnes was the Secretary, but its present whereabouts is a bit of a mystery. The Rev Gray ...fished the Kennet and went to Scotland regularly for the salmon. He devoted a few chapters of his book to the pursuit of salmon."
The 30lb Pike:
Alastair Honeybun kindly contacted the Virtual Museum (Apr 2014) having come across an auction catalogue dated 2008 with the following item on page 61:
"Lot 332: The highly important Reverend Tom Seccombe Gray's 30lb mounted Pike, set amongst aquatic vegetation within a gilt lined and bow front case with gilt inscription.
Caught at Horseshoe Bend Litton Court, River Wye, Hereford, 12.20pm, 16th January 1905, weight 30lbs, blue painted backboard with mounted with the nickel silver devon minnow, excellent overall condition, 53" wide (see illustration)". The PDF document is online at: http://angling-auctions.co.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2012/03/March2008catalogu e.pdf
Auction estimate: £3,500 - £5,500.
Further details about the life and times of Rev. William Edward Thomas Seccombe Gray were sent to the Virtual Museum in Mar 2011 Alastair Honeybun:
"He married Edith Mary Elworthy, daughter of John Elworthy on 4 February 1909 at St Barnabas, Pimlico, St George, Hanover Square in London.
Their three children: Mary, known as Diana, Gordon, known as Peter and Jean were all born in Hungerford.
Prior to his appointment as Vicar of the Parish Church of St. Lawrence, Hungerford, Tom Gray was the Curate at Kettering. In 1924 Tom and his family moved to Scotland where he was the Vicar of Old Deer Parish Church - St Drostan's Church and in 1932 became the Vicar of the church of St Thomas in Aboyne, Scotland.
Interestingly, both Tom and his father were appointed to St Thomas's in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland."
Robin Knight emailed (Sep 2019) to add: "Rev. Gray's son, GTS (‘Peter’) Gray, became a Rear Admiral, was Mentioned in Despatches five times and won the DSC in 1941. He died in 1997."
- Rev Tom Gray outside the Vicarage, c1920
- Rev Tom Gray in "dog-collar" and uniform of the Hungerford Volunteer Fire Brigade, c1920.
- Rev Tom Gray's 30lb mounted pike, caught 1905 - auctioned 2008.
- Rev Tom Gray, possibly in the Vicarage garden
- Rev Tom Gray in his study in the Vicarage
- Extract from "Scottish episcopal clergy, 1689-2000" by David M Bertie - Page 276. Contains a synopsis of the careers of both Tom Gray and his father William Arthur Gordon Gray. (Kindly sent by Alastair Honeybun)
- From "Brasenose College Register, 1509 - 1909, Volume 1." (Kindly sent by Alastair Honeybun)