Thomas Gilbert Griffith was born in London in 1794, the son of Thomas and Jane Griffith. He was baptized at St Giles in the Fields, Holborn, on 28th April 1794. He was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, gaining his BA in May 1825. Shortly after this he went abroad for a few years.
In October 1833, Thomas Griffith was ordained a priest at Exeter Cathedral. On 22nd January 1835, Thomas, then of Bridgwater, Somerset, married Charlotte Pender Phillott at Dawlish. A newspaper report of 2nd February 1835 said that he had been lately licensed by the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells to the Mastership of the Free Grammar School, Bridgwater. Their first-born son, Charles, was born there in about 1837.
In June 1839, Thomas was appointed Curate of Badsey and Wickhamford. His wife, Charlotte, was the daughter of the absentee Vicar, Charles Phillott. The previous Curate, Charles Bloxham, had left in April, and services had been covered by Reverend Benjamin Hemming of Honeybourne and then, most unusually, by Reverend Phillott himself.
During his 5½-year period at Badsey, Thomas conducted the following number of services, the first taking place on 1st July 1839 and the last on 3rd November 1844: baptisms (87 at Badsey, 14 at Wickhamford), marriages (13 at Badsey, 2 at Wickhamford), burials (40 at Badsey, 11 at Wickhamford).
Whilst at Badsey, two more sons were born: Trevenen Phillott Gilbert (1841-1886) and Thomas Frederick (1844-1896). Trevenen’s baptism was conducted by his grandfather, the Reverend Charles Phillott – this was the only baptism which Reverend Phillott did at Badsey during his 43-year tenure (he also conducted a baptism at Wickhamford the following day as he was in the parish). Reverend Griffith left Badsey in November 1844. It was not until March 1845 that the new Curate, Henry Hasted Victor, arrived, so services were covered by locums.
The Griffith family moved to Wickford, Essex, where Thomas was Curate. It was whilst at Wickford that Reverend Griffith was embroiled in a court case about non-payment of a debt relating back to his student days at Oxford in 1823. A report in The Oxford University and City Herald on 25th March 1848 gave full details in which Reverend Griffith was ordered to refund the full amount of £35 4s 11d with costs. A footnote in an article in The Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette records that the plaintiff’s solicitor was instructed to propose £2 a month but, after consulting with Reverend Griffith’s solicitor, it was agreed he should pay 30 shillings a month, His curacy bringing him in only £80 a year to support himself and family. By a strange coincidence, just three months later, the previous Curate of Badsey and Wickhamford, Reverend Charles Bloxham, also appeared before the courts because of non-payment of a bill – the lot of the Victorian Curate was obviously not an easy one, particularly with a family to support.
At the time of the 1851 census, Trevenen, the middle son, was a pupil at Christ’s Hospital, Hertford. The Griffith family remained in Wickford until Thomas’ death in August 1855. Charlotte then moved to London, where she and her youngest son, Thomas, were lodging in Marylebone in 1861. By 1871, Charlotte was living at 16 Cumberland Terrace, Paddington, with her son, Thomas; her eldest son, Charles, was visiting. By 1891, Charlotte was boarding at 156 Queens Road, Paddington. She died in the Lambeth district of London in 1894.