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Charles Mawson Burgess (1868 - 1953) 

I have come across Charles Burgess in trying to eliminate him as a teacher at Ringstead School. I have posted this in case it is of any interest.

Charles Mawson Burgess (1868 – 1953)

Charles Mawson Burgess was born in Raunds in 1868, the son of Thomas and Ellen. In the 1881 Census for Raunds Thomas is a tailor and draper in Arnsby’s Hill (Manor Hill near Rotton Row). Charles was a clever pupil and, in May 1883, the Queen’s Prize was awarded to him by the Science and Art Department of the Council on Education in South Kensington (later this became Imperial College). By 1891 Charles had left home and was an Elementary School Teacher living in Barking in Essex.

The Portsmouth Evening News of 7th February 1900 reported that the Portsmouth School Board had appointed Charles Burgess as Assistant Master at Fratton Boys School. In the 1901 and 1911 Censuses he was still in the Portsmouth area and in the later Census he was 43, single, and still a “certified teacher” employed by the Town Council.

It seems that at some point he returned to the Ringstead and Raunds area for in October – December 1925 he married widow Elizabeth Ann Wyman in the Thrapston District. She had previously been married to local farmer, Charles Wyman, who had been born in Great Addington in about 1850. They had farmed in Newton Bromswold but in 1901 Charles and Elizabeth Wyman had been living at 26 Church Street in Ringstead. Charles Wyman died on 10th June 1906 and left his widow £1841 4s. in his Will. By 1911 Elizabeth, aged 54, is a farmer in her own right living at Middle Field Farm in Church Street, Ringstead. Living with her is her 93- year-old mother Mary Ann Smart.

Elizabeth’s only remaining child (her other child may have been Wallace who was buried in Newton Bromswold aged 7 months in 1880), William Beeby Wyman, had died on 1st April 1910 aged just 30 and her mother Mary Ann Smart died, aged 97, in 1914. Elizabeth had none of her family left alive. She was a churchwarden and, as Elizabeth Ann Wyman, donated a brass processional cross in memory of her husband and son to Ringstead Church on All Saints Day 1920.

In 1926 Charles Burgess bought the three cottages once owned by Chemist, Herbert Abington (the ironstone cottages, now combined, on the left of the Post Office) from one of Herbert’s descendants possibly for the couple to live in. It may be, however, that this was an investment for we know that they lived in Ringstead Cottage, a large building, now called Ringstead House, at the bottom of the hill from Raunds.


Charles in fancy dress (on the left)

In 1928 the Parish Church organised a fancy dress procession to raise money for the school. Could this have been the occasion?

My thanks to Jon Abbott for this photograph

We get an odd glimpse of Charles Burgess when the Northampton Mercury of 15th September 1933 reported that he was summoned for aiding and abetting a 15-year-old boy without insurance in driving a car at Woodford on 18th August 1933. There was a collision and the woman passenger of the other vehicle was thrown out and knocked unconscious. Charles was fined £10 with £1 5s 8d costs and had his licence suspended for 12 months. The boy was a shoe operative and does not seem to have been a relative. It raises a few unanswered questions although we know Charles was a good-hearted man and the boy (with insurance) could legally have driven at 16. He was only doing ten miles an hour at the time of the crash.

When they married, Charles would have been 57 and Elizabeth 68. Against the odds the couple were married for twenty years. Elizabeth died in Ringstead aged 89 on 28th May 1945 and left £3371 18s 1d with probate (Llandudno Probate Office?) to Charles. She was living in Ringstead Cottage at the time of her death.

There is a wooden plaque on the wall of the north aisle of Ringstead Church which states:

Pray for the soul of ELIZABETH ANN BURGESS who worshipped here for 55 years and who died May 28th 1945 in her 90th year. Electric light was installed in 1946 as her memorial. Paravi Lanternam Christo Meo*

*Paravi Lucernum Christo Meo is from an Ambrosian chant based on Psalm 131 and translates “I have prepared a lamp for my anointed”.

It seems that Charles Burgess left the area soon after his wife’s death. Older residents remember a sale at Ringstead House where Charles sold all his possessions. He laid out all his books on trestle tables and sold even the book he was given as his Queen’s Prize. He went as a brother to Nashdom Abbey near Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire. Certainly, we know that he was living there when he sold the three cottages in the High Street on 25th August 1949. Nashdom was a large house built by Sir Edward Lutyens, which had been taken over as a monastery after the First World War. It was there that Charles Mawson Burgess, aged 85, died on 16th February 1953 leaving just £784 0s 6d. The executors were a solicitor and William Joseph Freeman, a road foreman.

Was he ever a teacher in Ringstead? Certainly, he was not a head teacher, but it is thought that he may have done some supply teaching at the school.


Unbeknown to me Jon Abbott had already done some research and writing up of this story so my thanks to him for sharing his research and local knowledge to improve this biography.


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