The Twickenham Museum
People : Lawyers and Clergy

Rev Thomas Vialls
A wealthy parson
1768 - 1831

Radnor House in the 1720s, from Tillemans' view of Twickenham

The Rev Thomas Vialls, was curate of Teddington from 1801 until 1812 and Rector of Boldre, Hampshire from 1804 until 1819. He went to Westminster School and then Trinity College, Cambridge. He inherited Radnor House in Cross Deep from an uncle, Charles Marsh, FRS in 1812 and took up residence in that house until his death. He married Louisa, daughter of Samuel Marshall, Sergeant-at-Law, of Teddingon House, at St Mary’s, Twickenham on 1st July 1813, at the age of 45. They had three sons, Charles, Henry and George Courtenay (1824-1893) who joined the army and fought in the Crimea and in India during the Mutiny of 1857. In 1862, George inherited Teddington House from his mother, and resided there from 1877 onwards. He retired from the army with the rank of a Lieutenant-General in 1882.

Thomas’s mother was buried in the Holly Road burial ground in Twickenham. Mary Ann (née Marsh) Vialls aged 93 years old died on 1 May 1820. His father, Amos Vialls had died at the age of 80 years on 26 April 1813 and is also recorded on the grave stone though possibly buried elsewhere: there is no record of his burial in St Mary's registers. He was a coach-harness maker of St Martins-in-the-Fields.

Family trouble

A contretemps with Thomas's sister in law was reported in the Annual Register for 1824, Chronicle, page 26:

“14th February: BOW STREET. Assault. A charge of assault was preferred by Miss Marshall, daughter of the late Mr Sergeant Marshall, against the Rev Thomas Viall, of Twickenham, who had married one of her sisters. Miss Marshall stated, that as she was riding in her carriage near Teddington, on the preceding Thursday she was met by Mr Viall on horseback. Her carriage window was open, and as he passed he struck in at the window with his whip, which alighted on her muff and made a considerable mark; as he rode off he muttered something, but she did not hear what; she added that she was a good deal alarmed, and from other causes felt it necessary to take measures for the protection of her person from similar outrages. The Rev. Mr Vial denied that he had any intention to strike Miss Marshall; and said that, as he was passing the carriage which was on the wrong side of the road, he merely struck out with his whip, to make his horse, which was a spirited animal, get out of the way.

Miss Marshall, however, persisted in her charge of assault, and the reverand Gentleman was finally ordered to enter into sureties, himself in one thousand pounds, and two others in five hundred pounds, after which he was discharged.”

The size of the sureties suggests that there was more to it than meets the eye.

Thomas was reputed to be wealthy, and may have been involved in an earlier legal tangle. A former local librarian, Arthur Burrell, came across an obscure pamphlet in the British Museum and left a note concerning it in the Twickenham Library files [L.920 Vialls].The pamphlet, dated 1822, was entitled "Beef Beef Beef" and attacked the Rev Mr Vialls, a rich parson, for prosecuting his poor gardener, Sharpe, for the theft of two slices of beef. Sharpe was defended by a Mr Phillipps in the Court of King's Bench and was acquitted, having proved that he got the two slices of beef from an aunt in Camberwell. He had placed the beef in his tool box, where he usually kept his dinner, where it was found by Rev.Vialls who then wrongly accused him of theft. Vialls was described in the pamphlet as a man possessed of a fine house, who kept a carriage and 4 horses, and who employed 9 servants. Mr Burrell thought some of the details in the pamphlet suspect, but added that the King's Bench records of the case ought to be easy to trace. However, he does not appear have found them.

Thomas died at Marylebone on 7 May 1831 and was buried in the East Cloister of Westminster Abbey next to his uncle, Charles Marsh.


Addendum:

Venn's “Alumni. Cantabrigiensis” has 3 Vialls listed, all at Trinity: Thomas and his sons Charles Marsh (1819—1905), and George C Courtenay), the soldier(1824—1893).
The entry for the Rev.Thomas Vialls is as follows: ”Adm.pen.(age 19) at TRINITY May 22 1788, S.of Amos [coach harness maker of St Martin's—in—the—Fields] London (and Mary Ann Marsh). [B.Hov.14 l768 School Westminister. Metric.Michs. 1788: Scholar 1789; B.A. (16th Wrangler)1792; M.A.1795. Ord.priest (London) Sept.20 1795.R.of Boldre Hants 1804—19. Married July 1 1813, at Twickenham Louisa dau. of Samuel Marshall, Sergeant—at—law. Resided latterly at Radnor House, Twickenham. Died May 7 1831, at Marylebone; buried in the east cloister of Westminister Abbey. Father of the two above. (Record of Old Westminsters; P.E.Towell; G.Mag. 1831 1.647; Clerical Guide).”

George Courtenay Vialls appears in Boase' s Modern English
Biography 1851—1900,and also in the Times Obits.(13 November
1893 page 7).

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