William Douglas CAPEL (1871–1895)
St Giles section: Row 29, Grave J27

Capel grave

WILLIAM DOUGLAS CAPELL
ORGAN SCHOLAR, KEBLE COLLEGE
DIED FEBRUARY 14, 1895
AGED 23 YEARS

William Douglas Capel was born in Cambridge in 1871, the son of Arthur Douglas Capel (born in Salisbury in 1837/8) and Rebekah Mais (born in Westbury, Gloucestershire in 1835/6). His parents do not appear to have married in England and Wales, and the marriage may have taken place in Canada. They had the following children:

  • John Mais Capel (born in East Lennoxville, Canada in 1862/3)
  • Mary Lilian V. Capel (born in Wareham, Dorset in 1864/5)
  • Ethel Katherine Capel (born in Cambridge in 1865/6, reg. first quarter of 1866)
  • Ella Louisa M. Capel (born in Cambridge in 1867, reg. third quarter)
  • Lucy Douglas Capel (born in Cambridge in 1868/9, reg. first quarter of 1869; died aged one, death reg. first quarter of 1870)
  • William Douglas Capel (born in Cambridge in 1871, reg. second quarter)
  • Sophie Douglas Capel (born in Cambridge in 1872/3, reg. first quarter of 1873)
  • Arthur Geoffrey D. Capel (born in Cambridge in 1874, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Guy Christopher D. Capel (born in Cambridge in 1877, reg. third quarter; died aged two, death reg. Kensington fourth quarter of 1879)

William’s parents evidently started their married life in Canada, but by 1865 they were living in Dorset, and by 1866 in Cambridge. At the time of the 1871 census William’s father was Curate of St Mary the Less in Cambridge, living at Shaftesbury House in Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge with his wife and his first four children. The birth of William was imminently expected, so a monthly nurse was in residence as well as the regular servants (a cook, nursemaid, and two nurses). William’s maternal grandmother Mrs Sarah Reedy Mais (64), described as the wife of a clergyman, was staying with them. There was also a Canadian boarder and two pupils aged 19 and 16 in the house.

By the time of the 1881 census, William’s father was Curate of Friskney in Lincolnshire. He and his wife were living at High Road, Friskney with John (18), who was a student of music, and Ethel (15), Ella (13), Sophie (8), and Arthur (6) who were all at school. Also in the house were William’s mother’s sister Miss Anne Agatha Mais (39) and a pupil. The missing children were Mary (16), who was boarding as a pupil at Emmanuel House School in Cambridge, and William himself (9), who was living at 7 St Andrew’s Hill, Cambridge, and was one of the three pupils there of the Misses Kate and Sophia Dobson.

William is omitted from Alumni Oxonienses, but he must have come up to Keble College as organ scholar in the early 1890s. At the time of the 1891 census when he was 19 he was staying on his own at a boarding house in Fulham and described himself as an organist. Meanwhile his father Arthur, described as a Clerk in Holy Orders and mathematical tutor, was living at 28 Crondace Road in Fulham with his two daughters Ethel (25), who was a teacher of singing, and Ella (23). On census night William’s mother Rebekah was paying a visit to her eldest son John, a musician, who was living with his wife Tina and his mother-in-law Elizabeth Willows at 22 Farnley Road, Croydon.

William’s mother Rebekah died in Fulham less than two years later in 1893 at the age of 57 (registered first quarter). Two years after that in 1895 William himself died:

† William Douglas Capel died of rheumatic fever at the Acland Home in Oxford at the age of 23 on 14 February 1895 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

The first part of the funeral service was held in Keble College Chapel.The following report on his death and funeral appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 23 February 1895:

SAD DEATH OF A KEBLE COLLEGE UNDERGRADUATE. — Amid many signs of regret at his untimely death the remains of Mr. W. D. Capel, aged 23, Organ Scholar of Keble College, were interred on Saturday last in St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street. A short time ago Mr. Capel, who was extremely popular in the College, contracted a chill, which developed into rheumatic fever. He was removed to the Acland Home, where he received every attention which medical skill and careful nursing could suggest. A distressing circumstance is connected with his death. It is stated that on Thursday week Mr. Capel was so much better that his father, the Rev. A. D. Capel, of Fulham, who had been staying in Oxford in consequence of his son’s illness, left to catch a train for London, which, however, he missed. He accordingly returned to the Acland Home, and within half-an-hour Mr. Capel died. On Friday evening the body was removed to Keble College, where it was met at the gate by the Warden, Sub-Warden, tutors, and undergraduates of the college, and a short service was afterwards held, the coffin, which during the night remained in the chapel, being covered with a beautiful velvet pall. The funeral service began at twelve o’clock on Saturday, when the chapel was filled with members and servants of the college. The service, which was choral, was conducted by the Warden and Sub-Warden. At its conclusion, the undergraduates and servants filed out in procession, and, opening out, the coffin was carried between the ranks, followed by the principal mourners, the father and brother of the deceased gentleman. The cortège then proceeded slowly to St Sepulchre’s Cemetery, where the remainder of the service was read, and the body was committed to the grave. The funeral arrangements were entrusted to Messrs. Elliston and Cavell.

William’s father Arthur Douglas Capel died in Somerset in 1921 at the age of 84.


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