The first recorded rector, GUY DE TORNELLO arrived in 1256 and, although many of his 60 or so successors are remembered only as names, we do know a little more about the clergy of the past 250 years. Each has left his mark upon the church and influenced its worship and witness.
For almost four centuries from 1496 the parishes of Forncett St Mary and Forncett St Peter were united and shared a rector. In the 18th century the patronage of the living, with the right to appoint the rector, came into the hands of a diplomat who was Envoy to Brussels - the Hon Richard Hill of Hawkstone Park, near Hodnet, Shropshire. He appointed a family member as rector in 1725 and ordered that all future rectors should be fellows of St John's College, Cambridge. This continued for almost 200 years until the beginning of the 20th century.
This ruling brought to the living clergy from the college who were scholarly, talented and often well-connected men.
MOSES LLOYD (1730 - 1764)
ZACHARY BROOKE (1764 - 1788)
WILLIAM COOKSON (1788 - 1804) who has made Forncett a place of pilgrimage for lovers of William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy.
He was born in 1754 in Westmorland and grew up in Penrith. His older sister Anne married John Wordsworth and was the mother of William and Dorothy Wordsworth.
Before coming to Forncett in 1788, Dr Cookson had a distinguished academic career, including a period as tutor to the children of King George III. He had also tutored his niece Dorothy and when he and his new wife - Dorothy, daughter of the Revd John Cowper, rector of Penrith - settled into Forncett St Peter rectory, Dorothy Wordsworth joined them and stayed until 1794. During this time, William Wordsworth (see right picture) visited his sister at Forncett Rectory at least once when he was a student at Cambridge, as mentioned in Dorothy’s letters at the time. For more information on William Wordsworth's visit click on this link
THOMAS JACK (1805 - 1844)
JOHN DOUDNEY LANE (1844 -1847))
JOHN COLENSO (1846 - 1853). In 1846 St Mary's had its own rector again when John Colenso was appointed to the parish and became its most well known incumbent when he moved to Natal in South Africa to bring Christianity to the Zulu population.
JOHN EDWARD COOPER (1853 - 1908) oversaw the major church restoration during the Victorian era and remained in post until he died at the age of 91 in 1908. His grave and his wife's grave are (shown right)
THOMAS JACKSON BENTLEY (1908 - 1935)
JOSEPH FENNER SPINK (1936 - 1947)
FREDERICK ERCOLO VOKES (1947 - 1956)
COLIN FRANCIS SCOTT (1956 - 1959)
CHARLES HAMILTON ARNOLD (1959 - 1979)
THOMAS MARTIN WILLIAM FITZGERAL (1979 - 1982)
ROBERT DANIEL BLAKELEY (1982 - 1985)
THOMAS DENYS MILVILLE RAVEN (1985 - 1989)