Charles Ray (1749-1789)

Charles Ray was the 5th son of the 14 children of William Ray of Worlingworth, grocer and draper, and his wife Rebecca Smyth. He was born in Worlingworth in 1749.

He was at school in Wyverstone, under Mr Steggall, and matriculated in 1768 when he was admitted to Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He achieved a B.A. in 1771 and an M.A. in 1774. He was ordained as a Deacon in Norwich on 14th July 1771 and a priest in 1773.

He was curate of Bures St. Mary, Suffolk from 1771 to 1773 and curate of Weybread from 1773 to 1775. He became rector of Hawridge, Buckinghamshire from 1775 to 1778.

On 21st October 1771 Charles was appointed Chaplain and Schoolmaster of the Old Chapel of St. John the Baptist, Harleston, Norfolk. He lived in Harleston until he moved to Hoxne in 1777. Although he had already given up the position of schoolmaster he continued to perform 3 services a week at the chapel until 1785.

The Norfolk Chronicle of 30th December 1780 reported that:

"On Wednesday the Rev. Charles Ray, M.A. of Hoxne, was instituted to the Rectory of Whissonsett, Norfolk, on the presentation of Lady L'Estrange."

On 3rd July 1781 Charles was married to Jemima Gurdon (1754 - 1817) at Bures St. Mary, Suffolk. Jemima was the daughter of the Rev. Philip Gurdon of Bures.

In November 1786 Charles Ray was instituted to the vicarage of Hoxne with Denham on the presentation of Thomas Maynard. However from the churchwardens' accounts Mr Ray had been paid expenses since 1778 when the vicar was William Reeve. We can only assume that Charles Ray was his curate. The last expenses claimed by William Reeve were in 1777.

On lists published of the members of the Hoxne Association for Prosecuting Felons in 1783 and 1785 Rev. Charles Ray appears under Hoxne and Rev. William Reeve under Harleston, his family home. See biography of William Reeve.

Charles died at Hoxne on the 7th October 1789, age 40, and was buried on 14th October at Tannington, Suffolk. He had no children and in his will, proved on 7th December 1789, he left all his goods to his wife and various sums of money to his wife, brothers, sisters, nephews and aunt. Jemima died, age 63, in Colchester, Essex in 1817 and was buried with her husband in Tannington on the 9th May.