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Hoskyns, Chandos Wrenlocked

  • Nicholas Goddard

Hoskyns, Chandos Wren (1812–1876), agriculturist, was born on 15 February 1812 in Herefordshire, the second son of Sir Hungerford Hoskyns, seventh baronet (1776–1862), of Harewood and Morehampton Park, Herefordshire, and his wife, Sarah née Philips (d. 1860). He was educated at Shrewsbury School and at Balliol College, Oxford, and obtained a second class in classics in 1834. He then entered the Inner Temple and was called to the bar in 1838. Although he did not long practise law, he later took a close interest in the legal aspects of agricultural affairs. On 20 April 1837 he married Theodosia Anna Martha, the daughter and heir of Christopher R. Wren, the last direct descendant of the celebrated architect. They had a daughter, Catherine. Hoskyns assumed the additional surname of Wren by royal licence on 15 April 1837, and after his marriage took charge of his wife's extensive family estate of Wroxall Abbey, Warwickshire. His wife's illness interrupted Hoskyns's legal career, and for several years he resided with her in Madeira and other health resorts. Following her death on 25 March 1842, Hoskyns married, on 9 July 1846, Anna Fane (d. 1881), daughter of Charles Milner Ricketts; they had a son and two daughters.

Hoskyns made extensive contributions to the Agricultural Gazette from its inception in 1844, and was concerned to improve the popularity and accessibility of agricultural writing. In the preface to his A Short Enquiry into the History of Agriculture in Ancient Medieval and Modern Times (1849)—originally a course of lectures given at the Manchester Athenaeum—he made the observation that, 'English publishers say, despondingly, that agriculturists are not a reading class. What have they ever had to make them so?' His work had a wry character and exhibits a humour reminiscent of his ancestor, Sergeant John Hoskins. The best exemplar of his agricultural writing is Talpa, or, The Chronicles of a Clay Farm; it was published as a book in 1852, having first appeared in series form in the Agricultural Gazette of 1847. His other early contributions to the paper include 'Anomalies of agriculture' and 'Tales of a landlord'. Hoskyns also made a number of contributions to the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, which he helped to edit (with H. S. Thompson and Thomas Dyke Acland) between 1855 and 1858 following the death of the society's first editor, Philip Pusey.

Hoskyns was interested in all forms of agricultural progress and in the 1850s campaigned for the official collection of agricultural statistics. His lifelong associate and friend John Chalmers Morton (editor of the Agricultural Gazette, 1844–88) recognized him as helping to bring about an early acceptance of free-trade opinion among agriculturists. Later he turned his attention to the land laws and land system in England. In a number of publications—Land in England, Land in Ireland, and Land in other Lands (1869), The Land Laws of England: Systems of Land Tenure in Various Countries (1870), and A Catechism on the English Land System (1873)—he advocated an extensive reform of the real property laws of the country, a restriction of entail, and a reduction in the cost of land transfer. Hoskyns also wrote the introductory essay, and the contributions on education and the landlord, for Morton's Cyclopaedia of Agriculture, published in 1855. Hoskyns took a close interest in history, and his published lecture The Battle Line of History (1864) is a good example of his numerous attempts to popularize the subject. Hoskyns represented the City of Hereford in parliament from 1869 to 1874, but made little impression in the House of Commons apart from some contributions on agricultural topics. He died at 41 Eccleston Square, London, on 28 November 1876, having suffered a growth in his larynx for eighteen months.


  • Agricultural Gazette (7 Jan 1871)
  • Agricultural Gazette (9 April 1877)
  • J. S. Arkwright, ‘Introductory note’, in C. W. Hoskyns, Talpa, or, The chronicles of a clay farm: an agricultural fragment (1903)
  • d. cert.


  • Hereford RO, family estate papers


  • engraving (after photograph), repro. in Agricultural Gazette (7 Jan 1871)

Wealth at Death

under £20,000: probate, 29 Dec 1876, CGPLA Eng. & Wales

J. Burke, A general [later edns A genealogical] and heraldic dictionary of the peerage and baronetage of the United Kingdom [later edns the British empire] (1829–)