In 1820 an obituary for the Rev. John Tregonwell Lewis Napier. The hunting, shooting and fishing Rector of Chettle, Dorset, England was published in Volume 5 of the Sporting Magazine.
“In August last, died, in the prime of life, after a long and painful illness, the Rev. Tregonwell Napier, Rector of Chettle, Dorset. This gentleman had for several years the management, and also hunted Mr. Chaffin’s fox-hounds. Mr. Napier was as good a sportsman as ever entered Cranbourne Chase; he was an excellent fisherman and shot, but his favourite diversion was fox-hunting. He had a good head and a quick eye. The writer of this was very fond of listening to his sweet converse, which was exactly congenial to his own feelings and propensities; and the very many stories and anecdotes of his, Mr. N.’s exploits and performances in the sporting way, were very acceptable. Mr. Napier was an excellent classical scholar, was blessed with a retentive memory, and nothing which he ever read was forgotten by him. He was an excellent parish priest, very attentive to his duties, and very kind to the poor, and died much regretted by a numerous host of friends and acquaintance.”
John Tregonwell Lewis Napier was born on or about February 8, 1785 at Sutton Waldron, Dorset the son of the Rev. Edward Napier and his wife Elizabeth. His father had been the Rector of Sutton Waldron since 1782, a position he was to hold until his death at the age of 67 in 1816.
Little is known of his childhood at Sutton Waldron, where in 1878 a younger brother Henry Arichibald Napier was born, followed in 1791 by a sister Emma Rhoda Napier. In 1803 his elder sister Elizabeth died at the age of 31 and was buried at Sutton Waldron on November 4th.
It is not known at this time where he received his schooling, but on March 1, 1802 he was admitted, sizar, to Emmanuel College, Cambridge where he obtained his Batchelor of Arts degree in 1806. Under the patronage of William Chaffin, John Tregonwell Napier was appointed Rector of Chettle, Dorset on July 27, 1810.
September 26, 1812 saw him back at Sutton Waldron where he officiated at the wedding of his sister, Emma Rhoda Napier, to Phillip Lawrence of Fontmell Magna, Dorset.
The Salisbury and Winchester Journal on Monday, August 30, 1813 reported, “On Tuesday the 24th inst. was married, at Fordingbridge, by the Rev. P. Rideout, the Rev. John Tregonwell Napier, Rector of Chettle, in the county of Dorset, to Catherine, youngest daughter of Mrs.Skinner, of Redbrook, in this county.” The marriage was performed under a license Granted by the Bishop of Winchester on August 23 with William Skinner Jr., a tanner, as bondsman.
As previously noted John’s father, the Rev Edward Napier died in 1816 and was buried at Sutton Waldron on April 25th of that year. The service being conducted by Philip Rideout, Rector of Farnham, the same person who had married John and Catherine in 1813.
The Chettle parish registers record the burial of John Tregonwell Napier, rector of this parish on September 8, 1819 at the age of 33. It would be 6 months before he was replaced as rector on February 25. 1820
The burial of Catherine Napier of Redbrooke near Fordingbridge, widow of John Tregorwell, late rector is recorded on November 14, 1833 at the age of 45.