FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL was born on the 14th of December 1836, and was the youngest child of William Henry Havergal and Jane his wife. Her father was then Rector of Astley, Worcestershire. The names of her bothers and sisters, in the order of their birth, were:–
l. Jane Miriam, who married Henry Crane, Esq., of Oakhampton, near Stourport.
2. Henry East, vicor of Cople, Bedfordshire, who died 1875. Married Frances Mary, daughter of George J. A. Walker, Esq., Norton, near Worcester.
3. Maria Vernon Graham.
4. Ellen Prestage, who maried Giles Shaw, Esq., of Celbridge Lodge, county Kildare, now of Winterdyne, Bewdley.
5. Frances Tebbs, vicar of Upton Bishop, near Ross. Married Isabel Susan, daughter of Colonel W. Martin.
On the 25th of January 1837, Frances was baptized in Astley Church by the Rev. John Cawood, incumbent of St. Ann’s, Bewdley. Her godmothers were Miss Lucy Emra, of St. George’s Vicarage, near Bristol, authoress of “Lawrence the Martyr,” “Heavenly Themes,” and other poems; and Miss Elizabeth Cawood, whose clever and attractive brightness had ever great influence over her little goddaughter. Her godfather was the Rev. W. H. Ridley, rector of Hambleden.
In the “Ministry of Song” we read how Frances loved her name of Ridley, and that she bore it from one descended from the goldy and learned Bishop Ridley, of the noble army of martyrs.
“But ‘what the R. doth represent’
I value and revere,
A diamond clasp it seems to be,
On golden chains, enlinking me
In loyal love to England’s hope,
The Church I hold so dear.”
“Our sweet baby,” her father wrote, “grows nicely. She was baptized last Wednesday, ‘Frances Ridley.’ All are eager for her to be called Fanny, but I do not like it.” However, as a child we called her Fanny, but from the time of the publication of her first book, “The Ministry of Song,” Frances was her usual signature, and she much preferred her baptismal name. Her unique surname was spelt Heavergill in 1694, afterwards Havergill, or Havergall, but always Havergal since orthography in general ceased to vary. The derivation of the name is thought to be “Heaver-gill, the heaving or rising of the brook or gill.”
–from MEMORIALS OF FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL by M.V.G.H.