History Monthly: The Bishop of Guyana
Stone Historical Society chairman Philip Leason will be writing a special post each month for A Little Bit of Stone. This month, how a bishop from South America was actually born in Stone – and how people travelled to the town from all over the world more than 200 years later to see his birthplace for themselves…
On 7th November 1807 William Percy Austin was born in Stone at the Crown Hotel. His parents were travelling by coach from Scotland to Bath and his pregnant mother was taken ill and so stayed at the Crown.
While she was there she went into to labour and William was born. When she was strong enough the family returned to live in Bath.
William went on to become a priest and went to minister in British Guiana. British Guiana was the name of the British colony on the northern coast of South America, now the independent nation of Guyana.
He later became Bishop of Guyana and in 1844 founded Queen’s College, Georgetown – an all-boys school. He also founded a school for girls called Bishop’s School.
Queen’s College is still in existence and the old boys association is named the Alumni Association. There are various branches of the Association around the world and each year one of them organises an annual reunion.
This year it is the turn of the UK branch and they held the event in London and people travelled from Guyana, Canada and various countries in Europe to attend.
On Saturday 7th October members travelled up to Stone especially to see the birthplace of the founder of the school and have lunch there. They also visited St Michael and St Wulfad’s Church and the council chamber to meet the Town Mayor, Cllr. June Price.
Records show that William did visit the Crown again in 1831 on his way to his wedding to his cousin Eliza Piercy Henderson to see where he had been born.