Local History Society

 Families - Rev. John Warren Hayes




John Warren Hayes spent nearly 60 years in Arborfield, 40 of them as Rector, from September 1839 to 1879. 

According to Debrett's Baronetage, the Hayes family had been settled in Ireland from the period of the civil wars, in the time of Charles I. Edmund Hayes went over with Cromwell's party, and attained to the rank of colonel in his army. His son Daniel Hayes, of Mayvore, was a captain in the army at the battle of the Boyne. Daniel’s grandson Sir John Macnamara, M.D., was physician to His Majesty's forces serving in North America during the whole of the War of Independence, and was created a baronet. In 1787, he married Ann, daughter of Henry White, of the Council of New York. Their eldest son Thomas Pelham Hayes, born in 1794, succeeded to the title in 1809; he became a Writer in the Bengal Establishment. The second son was John Warren Hayes, born in London in 1799.

In 1832 John Warren Hayes purchased the living in Arborfield, but had to wait until the death of the incumbent Henry Hodgkinson before he could come to the Jacobean Arborfield Rectory in 1839; in the meantime, he was a Vicar near Bantry in south-west Ireland. Arborfield's Rectory was delightful but decrepit, and was replaced by the large Victorian building soon after.

In the 1841 Census, we find Rev. John Warren Hayes at the Rectory, still single, and his brother-in-law the Rev. Thomas Robertson with his wife Anna and three servants. John married Ellen Beauchamp of the Priory, Beech Hill, in 1844. They had a daughter Ellen Anne Hayes, born in 1846, and a son John Beauchamp Hayes in 1849. Sadly, Ellen Hayes died in August aged only 32, and was buried in the old churchyard on August 23rd 1849, just a week before her son was baptised.  

By 1851, Rev. John Warren Hayes was bringing up his son and daughter with the aid of seven servants. At the Census, his brother Sir Thomas Pelham Hayes, Bart., was visiting. Thomas died later in 1851, and John inherited the  title. Not only was the Rectory rebuilt, but in 1863 the old Church building was replaced by the Hargreaves family, the new owners of Arborfield Hall. Sarah Hargreaves was from the Washington Jackson family, so both John Hayes and Sarah Hargreaves had American connections.

John's daughter Ellen Anne married John Simonds of Newlands in 1868, but she only lived to 50, and died soon after her father in 1896. John and Ellen Simonds' son John Hayes Simonds carried the Hayes family name into the mid-1940s. 

On January 25th 1896, the 'Reading Mercury' reported:


Early on Thursday morning the venerable Rev. Sir John Warren Hayes, baronet, died at Newlands, near Arborfield, the residence of his son-in-law, Mr. John Simonds, where he had spent, in quiet retirement, the closing years of his long life. Sir John Hayes was in his 97th year, and though lately he had been very ailing and weak, he was in full possession of his faculties until the last.

He was born in 1799, and educated at Harrow and Wadham College, Oxford, and took his M.A. degree in 1824. After being ordained he was curate of Great Malvern, until appointed to the living of Shandrum, in Ireland, which he exchanged in 1839 for that of Arborfield, near Reading, of which parish he was rector for over 40 years, namely until 1880, when he resigned.

At the time of his death he was the oldest clergyman of the Church of England, also the oldest baronet, and the oldest Freemason in England, probably a unique coincidence.

In 1844 he married the second daughter of Mr. George Beauchamp, of The Priory, Berks, but was left a widower five years later. In 1851 he succeeded his brother in the baronetcy, which now becomes extinct, his only son having died some years since. His daughter, Mrs. John Simonds, and her husband have devoted great care and attention to him, in their pleasant home at Newlands, and have contributed much to render his declining years peaceful and happy. They were both with him, together with other members of the family, when he breathed his last. Throughout East Berks, Sir John Hayes was widely known and greatly esteemed.

The funeral will take place in Arborfield.

Sir John was initiated a Freemason in 1819, on the creation of the Apollo Lodge, Oxford. He took a leading part in promoting the interests of the Order in the province of Berks and Bucks, as Deputy Provincial Grand Master, during the rule of the late Sir Daniel Gooch, after whose decease the two counties were separated for Masonic purposes, and constituted district Provinces.

Sir John was the oldest living member of the Lodge of Union at Reading, having joined the Lodge on July 6, 1840, from the Foundation Lodge. He was also a Past Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of England, and his kind and genial presence was always most welcome at Masonic gatherings, whether in the metropolis or in the Provinces.

One week later, another article appeared in the 'Mercury':


The funeral of the Rev. Sir John Warren Hayes, Bart., whose decease was announced in last week’s Mercury, took place at Arborfield on Monday afternoon, in dull weather. The obsequies were plain and simple in character. There were no floral decorations in Arborfield Church, where the service was held, and where the deceased and venerable gentleman had once ministered for forty years. In the village there was every manifestation of respect, the blinds being drawn.

The cortège left "Newlands" about two o’clock, and at the church the coffin, covered with wreaths and crosses, was met at the doors by the Rev. J. Jones (Rector), and A. L. White, of Mortimer, a cousin of the deceased.

Mr. H. Webster, the organist, rendered Mendelssohn’s beautiful piece "The Lord is mindful of His own". The sacred building was filled with people. The Rev. A. L. White read the opening sentences of the service, and the congregation responded alternately in the reading of Psalm xx. The usual lesson, from the 1st of Corinthians was read by the Rector, and the hymn "The saints of God", led by the choir, was feelingly sung. After other prayers, the hymn "Peace, perfect peace", was softly rendered, and as the congregation were leaving Mr. Webster played "O rest in the Lord".

Then the graveside portion of the service was conducted, in the presence of a large gathering. After the final prayer the mourners threw in bunches of violets, and the Freemasons who were present dropped on the coffin sprays of acacia which they had worn. Sir John was at the time of his death the oldest member of Lodge of Union 414, as well as the oldest Freemason in England.

The mourners were:- Mr. and Mrs. Simonds, the Misses Simonds, Mr. J. H. Simonds, Master M. K. Simonds, Mrs. Hayes, Sir Frederick Fits Wygram, Mr. and Mrs. William Simonds, &c.

Carriages were sent by Mr. Simonds, Mrs. Simonds (Winnersh), Mrs. Martin Atkins, Mr. W. Simonds, Mr. A. F. Walter, Mrs. T. Hargreaves, Mr. Sanderson, the Rev. J. Jones, Mrs. Gray (Farley Hill).

[There followed a long list of clergy representatives, parishioners and Freemasons, plus floral tributes].

The coffin, which was of plain oak with elegant brass fittings, bore a massive plate on which was inscribed:- "The Rev. Sir John Warren Hayes, Bt., born 13 Aug 1799, died 23 Jany. 1896".

The entire management was carried out by Mr. W. Vincent, of Arborfield.

Soon after, on March 21st, the 'Mercury' reported:

ARBORFIELD: By his will, which bears date July 7, 1885, the Rev. Sir John Warren Hayes, third Baronet, who was born in 1799, and was from 1839 to 1879, Rector of Arborfield, appointed as sole executor, Mr. John Simonds, of Newlands, Reading.

Sir John Hayes, who died on January 23, bequeathed to the widow of his son, Captain John Beauchamp Hayes, £300; and he leaves the residue of his estate in trust to pay the income to her during her widowhood, and subject to her interest to hold the estate in trust in equal shares for her children (all of whom are daughters) by the testator’s said son. On failure of this trust the residuary estate is to be in trust for the testator’s daughter, Mrs. Ellen Anne Simonds.

The personal estate of the late Sir J. W. Hayes has been valued at £5,236. Morning Post.

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