Corley family

Ferrand Albert Corley (1841-1919) was a barrister's clerk who rose through the legal profession to become a taxing officer in the Royal Courts of Justice. He was also an active Wesleyan Methodist, serving as Chapel Steward at Finsbury Park, and magazine editor and Circuit Steward in the Finsbury Park Circuit in the 1890s and early 1900s. His wife was Mary Ann (Marion) Corley, née Tripp (1841-1922 [?]). Their fourth son Sydney Walter Corley (1878-1961) married Annie Louise, second daughter of the Rev. John H. Sholl (1842-1905; e.m. 1866), a former Superintendent Minister of the circuit; their son, Sir Kenneth Sholl Ferrand Corley (1908-2005) was chairman of Joseph Lucas (Industries), the vehicle and aircraft component maker. The fifth son, Douglas Hilary Corley, went to Canada as a Lay Agent in the Nicholsville Circuit, King's County, Nova Scotia, in 1901, subsequently studied at Bates College, Lewiston, graduated STB from Andover Theological Seminary (1915). He was awarded a scholarship (1916) and a Williams Fellowship in Divinity (1919) at Harvard, and taught at the American University of Beirut and the University of Louisville, Kentucky.

Their third son Ferand Edward Corley (1877-1937) was born in Islington on 22 June 1877. He was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, proceeding to St John's College, Oxford, as a Sir Thomas White scholar in 1896. His academic career was distinguished: he took a First in Classical Mods in 1898 and a First in Literae Humaniores in 1900, and in the same year was elected to a Fellowship at St John's. Corley was active in the college's debating and essay societies, and was also a member of the University's Wesley Guild (later the John Wesley Society), serving as a student representative on the committee of the Bermondsey Settlement. As a young Fellow of St John's, he supported a soup kitchen at the Nottingham Mission. His interest in overseas work was expressed in advocacy of the Student Volunteer Missionary campaigns, in membership of the General Committee of the WMMS and in work for the Helpers' Union.

In 1906 Corley accepted an invitation from the WMMS to succeed F.W. Kellett on the staff of the interdenominational Madras Christian College. He spent the next thirty years in India, writing for the Indian Review, serving on the Tamil Lexicon Committee, teaching history and editing the college's journal, the <span class="font-italic">Madras Christian College Magazine</span>. Contemporaries recalled his 'unrivalled gift for exposition' as a teacher, his commitment to his students and to village evangelism, and his key role as Acting Principal in taking forward the plan to relocate the college from its restricted site in Madras to a spacious campus at Tambaram, a scheme to which Corley gave generous financial support, and which he saw realised in January 1937.

Three months before his departure for India, Corley married, on 20 April 1906, Elsie Maria Early, daughter of Charles William Early of Witney. This brought connections to several prominent Wesleyan dynasties, including theVanners and the Chubbs. Three children were born to the marriage.

Ferrand Corley suffered a serious illness after a dozen years in India, and lived thereafter with considerable pain and disability. He retired in 1936 and died at Amersham on 13 July 1937.

  • The Times, 19 July 1937.
  • Methodist Recorder, 22 and 29 July and 12 August 1937.
  • Joshua Kalapati and Ambrose Jeyasekaran, Life and Legacy of Madras Christian College, 1837-1978 (2010).
  • The Finsbury Park Circuit Magazine, 1905-06