The Reverend Roger Carus Wilson

The Reverend Roger Carus Wilson was Vicar of Preston from 1817, when he was only 25 years of age, to 1839. In the years 1830-31 he built the present number 7 Winckley Square.

Due to the growth of the cotton industry in Preston and the consequent increase in the town's population, his incumbency was remarkable for the great increase in churches built to answer the spiritual needs of the workers. The Reverend Roger Carus Wilson was responsible for the building of five new churches within the Borough of Preston. These were St. Peter's in 1825, St. Paul's in 1826, Christ Church in 1836, St. Mary's in 1838 and St. Thomas's in 1839. He also purchased, in 1838, the Primitive Episcopal Church which became St. James's, and in Ashton, then beyond the Preston boundary, he built St. Andrew's Church.

The Reverend Roger Carus Wilson died very suddenly on Sunday afternoon, the 15th December 1839. He was a very energetic man, with an impressive and beautiful style of delivery who enjoyed the esteem and affection of his congregation. To that congregation in 1839 he appeared to be a very healthy man with a long life before him, and so stunned were they to hear the news of death "that for some time the rumour was not credited, and Winckley Square was, until about four o'clock, completely thronged by inquirers, anxious to learn every particular of the melancholy circumstance." These were dramatic indeed.

During the previous week the Vicar had been much exposed to the cold and inclement weather, and on Saturday afternoon, went to bed with what he believed to be a slight cold. Dr. Moore was consulted and confirmed this. The Vicar slept soundly till Sunday morning and, feeling better, decided to get up and preach at Grimsargh. He was, however, persuaded to stay in bed and again fell asleep until between two and three o'clock in the afternoon when he awoke, feeling worse. He asked his wife to send for a neighbour and when the lady arrived she 'immediately perceived that the lamented gentleman was on the eve of dissolution'. She voiced her fears and the Vicar asked that the Reverend Thomas Clark of Christ Church be sent for, these being 'the last words he ever spoke'. He died about three-thirty p.m. just before the arrival of the Reverend Clark who had been preaching to his congregation when summoned.

On the south wall of Preston Parish Church there is an elaborate memorial to the Reverend Roger Carus Wilson 'erected to his memory by those who loved him living and mourned him dead'. At the base of this memorial are shown in relief the five new churches erected through his exertions within the Borough of Preston.

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© Marian Roberts 1996