Francis Kilvert

Robert Francis Kilvert (3 December 1840 – 23 September 1879), always known as Francis, or Frank, was an English clergyman remembered for his diaries reflecting rural life in the 1870s, which were published over fifty years after his death.

Kilvert was born on 3 December 1840 at The Rectory, Hardenhuish Lane, near Chippenham, Wiltshire, to the Rev. Robert Kilvert, rector of Langley Burrell, Wiltshire, and Thermuthis, daughter of Walter Coleman and Thermuthis Ashe. He was educated privately in Bath by his uncle, Francis Kilvert, before going up to Wadham College, Oxford. He then entered the Church of England and became a rural curate, working primarily in the Welsh Marches between Hereford and Hay on Wye. Initially, from 1863 to 1864, he was curate to his father at Langley Burrell, and in 1865 he became curate of Clyro, Radnorshire. Kilvert started his diary on 1 January 1870 whilst incumbent at Clyro and, from his writings, seemed to have basked in his life within the Welsh countryside, often writing numerous pages describing his surroundings and the parishioners that he visited. In late 1871 he fell in love with Frances Eleanor Jane Thomas, the youngest daughter of the vicar of Llanigon, a parish not far from Clyro, and asked her father permission to wed her. Due to his position as a lowly curate, Frances’ father looked unfavourably on the diarist and refused his request. After receiving this rejection he wrote in his diary that “The sun seemed to have gone out of the sky”. It was shortly after this, in 1872, that Kilvert resigned his position as curate of Clyro, and left the village forever returning to his father’s parish of Langley Burrell.[1] From 1876 to 1877 he was vicar of St Harmon, Radnorshire, and from 1877 to his death in 1879 he was vicar of Bredwardine, Herefordshire.

In August 1879 he married Elizabeth Ann Rowland (1846–1911), whom he had met on a visit to Paris, but he died a few days after returning from his honeymoon in Scotland from peritonitis, aged 38.