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The Fry Family

The Reverend John Fry was Rector of Desford from 1801 – 49 and his family was researched by the late Betty Dickson.


John Fry senior was a prosperous farmer who lived in Kent in the 18th century. He married twice, had 10 children and was buried at Frant, near Tunbridge Wells, in 1802. His children included: John 1775 – 1849, George born 1781, Lydia born 1783, Matilda, Caroline 1787 – 1846.

As far as we know, George and Lydia did not marry. Lydia was still living in Desford in 1845, when she was 62. Matilda was married by her brother at Desford in 1817 to Sir John Hare of Bedminster, Bristol.

Caroline became an author, poet and theologian. She was married by her brother at Desford to William Wilson in 1831 but returned to live in Tunbridge Wells.

Rector John Fry.jpg

Rev, John Fry

John Fry junior studied Classics at University College, Oxford, graduating in 1798. In 1801 he was instituted as Rector of Desford. He married Martha Larkin, daughter of Nicholas Larkin of Ewehurst, Sussex and they had 9 children. All of them were baptised by John at Desford and some were buried here.

The eldest son, John, was born in 1802 and followed his father into the church. He became a Naval Chaplain and sailed to South Africa. In 1828 he was married in Cape Town Cathedral to Catherina Reinera de Wet, of Dutch farming descent. Catherina died in 1839 when their son, John Larkin Fry, was only 3. John became Rector of St Paul’s, Rondesboch.  He married again in 1851 to Jane McCabe, daughter of an army officer.  Jane died in 1858 and in 1861 John married Louisa Elliott. John’s health was poor and they decided to return to England but he died at sea in October 1861. A porch was erected at St Paul’s Church in his memory.

John Larkin Fry married Jane Elizabeth Armstrong and they had a daughter, Miriam.  A descendant of this branch of the family, Rupert de Koch, visited Desford in the mid-twentieth century and met Betty Dickson and Kathie Emmerson, who were guardians of Desford history at the time. He also managed to visit the grave of John Fry, his x4 grandfather in Kent.

The second of John and Martha’s children was George, baptised in 1804. He served in the Royal Navy and died at sea in 1832.

Next was Mary, baptised 1806 and buried in 1810. There is a memorial tablet to her on the south wall of the chancel.

The fourth child, Augustine, baptised in 1808, became a GP and surgeon and married Frances Blount of Birmingham. In 1851 they were living at Bushloe End, Wigston with their children John B (c1841), Mary A Frances (c1844), Caroline (c1845) and Alfred (c1848). Augustine died in 1858 and was buried at Desford.

John B became a doctor and had a daughter, Augusta, who married Edward Hall and in turn also had a daughter. Mary Frances married Thomas Howard but had no children. Caroline married and it was her granddaughter, Miss E Cadbury, who presented the portrait of Rev John Fry to St Martin’s. Alfred emigrated to Australia, had a son and two daughters, then one grandson who had no children, so the line died out.

John and Martha’s fifth child was Amelius, baptised in 1810. He served in the Army and died in India in 1834.

Next was Elizabeth, baptised in 1811.  In 1836 she married Robert Chamberlain, son of Henry (see Lucius below). Robert was curate at Woodstone. They had two sons and two daughters. Elizabeth died in 1848 and is buried at Desford.

Number seven was Caroline, baptised in 1813 and buried in Desford in 1834.

The eighth child was Stephen, baptised in 1816. He became an architect and lived in Leicester. In 1841 he married Eliza Sykes Barber and they had a son, Augustin Barber and daughter Harriet Eliza. Stephen died in 1850.

The ninth child was Lucius, baptised in 1820.  He entered the church and became his father’s curate. He married Mary, eldest daughter of Henry Chamberlain, a wealthy Desford landowner and farmer. They had two sons: Lucius Chamberlain (1845-48) and Lucius George (c1851). Lucius died in 1854.

Martha died in 1824 and Rev John married Ursula Dorothea Perry, daughter of John Perry of Hereford. They had a daughter, Ursula Perry (1832 – 34).

John died in 1849 and his memorial tablet on the north wall of the chancel refers to his wives and children who had predeceased him. He may have been buried beneath the altar. 

For those who enjoy genealogy, there is scope to do further research.


Further information:



Caroline Fry, Poet & Theologian, and Her Links with Desford  by Caroline Wessel

In the Archives

The Fry Saga by Betty Dickson (History Series)

In the archives there are copies of the will of two John Frys, a family tree and correspondence with the descendants in South Africa.

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