Katherine, Lady Conway (Viscountess)

Lady Conway was the wife of Edward Conway, first Viscount Conway and first Viscount Killultagh, Secretary of State to James I and Charles I. He was the son of Sir John Conway, who was Governor of Ostend and the writer of devotional tracts and verses.

Lady Conway died at her house at Acton on June 30th 1639, and was buried in Acton Church. Lady Conway left £20 per annum to the Parish, £10 of which was to be distributed to the poor at Christmas and Midsummer, while the other £10 was allocated to teaching six poor children to read, and distributing bread to 21 poor people every Sunday. She also left the sum of £20 per annum towards apprenticing children.

The teaching of ‘6 poor children to read’ carried on until the 19th Century, giving hundreds of children a better start in life and improving their life chances dramatically.  

The following is inscribed in gilt lettering on the black marble of Lady Conway’s memorial tablet at St. Mary's Church, Acton:

The poore who did thy life with prayers befreind

And on thy funerall herse in teares Attend

Shew their deuotion still and send on high

Their prayses for thy blessed charitie

May thy example others teach to giue,
That when they die their fame (like thine) may liue.