Mrs Catherine THOMAS née Johnston (1792/3–1871)
Her sister Miss Jane JOHNSTON (1798/9–1877)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 4, Grave D70
IN MEMORY OF / CATHERINE WIDOW OF VAUGHAN THOMAS, B.D.
LATE FELLOW OF CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE, OXFORD / AND VICAR OF YARNTON, OXON.
DIED MAY 8, 1871, AGED 80
O LORD, MY STRENGTH AND MY REDEEMER
[Other side of vault] ALSO OF /
JANE JOHNSTON HER SISTER /
DIED MARCH 17, 1877, AGED 78
Catherine Johnston was born in the East Indies in 1792/3, and her sister Jane Johnston in Sittingbourne, Kent in 1805/6. They were the daughters of Lieutenant-General G. Johnston.
Catherine Johnston’s future husband Vaughan Thomas (born at Kingston-on-Thames in 1775) had been appointed a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford and Vicar of Yarnton in 1803; and he had also held the livings of Stoneleigh, Warwickshire from 1804 and Duntisbourne Rouse, Gloucestershire from 1811. He continued to live in Oxford, but resigned his fellowship in 1811 in order to marry his first wife Charlotte Williams. They had no children.
It was Vaughan Thomas who prompted his friend Samuel Warneford to endow an asylum for the insane at Oxford, and served as chair of its management committee; and in 1832 he had been appointed chairman of the board of health formed at Oxford upon the outbreak of cholera.
For a full biography of Catherine Thomas’s husband, see Thomas, Vaughan (1775–1858),
Church of England clergyman and author, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Vaughan Thomas’s first wife Charlotte died at Holywell Lodge on 31 July 1843 and was buried in a vault in St Peter-in-the-East churchyard on 7 August.
On 4 December 1845 at the British Embassy at Brussels, Catherine Johnston (53) became the second wife of Vaughan Thomas (70). The announcement in The Times on 10 December 1845 read as follows:
On the 4th inst., at the British Embassy, Brussels, by the Rev. William Drury, the Rev. Vaughan Thomas, of Oxford, to Catherine, third daughter of the late Lieutenant-General G. Johnston, of Norbiton-hall, Surrey.
By 1846 Catherine and Vaughan Thomas had moved to Magdalen Gate House at 60/61 High Street, overlooking Magdalen Bridge. The 1851 census shows Catherine (57) and Vaughan (74) living there with four servants (a butler, cook, footman, and housemaid).
Catherine's husband Vaughan Thomas died at Magdalen Gate House on 26 October 1858 at the age of 83 and on 2 November he was buried with his first wife in the churchyard of St Peter-in-the-East, and on 30 October his obituary appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal. His effects came to under £18,000.
The widowed Catherine Thomas and her unmarried sister Jane Johnston are hard to find in the 1861 census, but in 1871 they were living together (with a ladies maid) at a lodging house at 7 Beaumont Street in the parish of St Mary Magdalen, Oxford. Catherine died shortly after that census:
† Mrs Catherine Thomas, née Johnston died at Beaumont Street at the age of 80 on 8 May 1871 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 13 May (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).
A brief death notice was inserted in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 13 May 1871: “May 8, Catherine, widow of the Rev. Vaughan Thomas, Vicar of Yarnton.” Her effects came to nearly £800, indicating that only a fraction of her husband’s wealth at death had come her way. Her brother William Frederick Johnston of 23 South Street, Grosvenor Square dealt with her probate.
Her sister Jane remained in Beaumont Street and died there six years later in 1877:
† Miss Jane Johnston died at Beaumont Street at the age of 78 on 17 March 1877 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 23 March (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).