Walter Cecil Hay

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Born: 1828

Died: 1905


Water Cecil Hay was born in Shrewsbury to clockmaker Thomas William Hay (1791–1856) and Cecilia Carbin (1798–1888), the third of seven children, all baptised in a non-conformist independent church. The eldest boy, John (1821-1821) died in infancy. The next oldest son, Arthur Kenneth (1824–1839), committed suicide at the age of fifteen. The youngest son, Thomas William (1836–1873), followed his father into the clock-making business. His three sisters, Francis Ann (1830–1884), the novelist Mary (1839-86) and Susan Elizabeth, an artist (1840–1908) remained unmarried and continued to live at home with their mother. His father died in 1856 aged sixty-five and his mother took control of the business, despite financial difficulties, passing it to her son Thomas in 1872. He became the third generation of clock-makers in the family. After this date Mary, her two sisters and her mother moved to Chiswick and later took a house in West Sussex.[8][9]

Walter was a concert master, a composer, the Diocesan Inspector of Choirs for the Rural Deanery of Shrewsbury, organist at St Chad's Church, Shrewsbury and a music tutor. One of his best known pupils was the composer Edward German. In 1855 Walter married Emily Henshaw (1828-1903), whose father, Thomas Northage Henshaw (1799-1871) was the teacher of Writing and Accidence at Shrewsbury School from 1847 to 1870. Emily was a good amateur artist and painted several studies of the old buildings in Shrewsbury, many of which can be seen on the Darwin Country museum and library website. Emily and Walter's granddaughter was artist Margaret Dovaston RA.

In 1857, Walter organised a summer fete in Shrewsbury that included music from Monsieur Jullien. The event was in a location referred to as the Isle of Poplars, and access to it was via a temporary pontoon bridge constructed across the River Severn for the event. In the evening, as the visitors started to return home across the bridge, it gave way and ten people, including women and children, were drowned. At the inquest, the mayor of Shrewsbury told the jury that he had given Walter permission for the pontoon, only on condition that the construction was placed in the hands of a suitably qualified person. Hay was exonerated by the jury because it was deemed that he had given the contract for the construction of the bridge to such a person. However, the weight of people using the thoroughfare had been underestimated by the contractor and crowd control had been inadequate.[16]

He was a fellow of the Royal Academy of music.

(Extracted from the Wikipedia article on Maary Cecil Hay, his sister)

View the Wikipedia article on Walter Cecil Hay.

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