Robert Stephen Hawker
Known to his parishioners as Parson Hawker, he was thought to be somewhat eccentric (mad) as he kept a huge pet pig and had cats in his pulpit.
As a child he was naughty, he painted the local doctors horse like a zebra. He sent an undertaker to measure up coffins for two women who he felt were interested in his guardian (the person responsible for him as both his parents had died).
At boarding school he was naughty and ran away.
On his honeymoon in Devon he wrapped an oilskin round his legs, seaweed round his shoulders and then sat on a rock in the bay. Holidaymakers thought he was a mermaid especially as he sang until he was hoarse.
He became the vicar of Morwenstow Church in 1834 for about 40 years during which time he wrote poetry in a hut, which he had built out of driftwood over looking the sea. You can still visit the hut today it is about a mile way from the church.
He is credited for the introduction of organising burial gangs so sailors who were shipwrecked and whose bodies floated ashore were given a proper Christian burial in the churchyard. Up to then they were buried on the beach, as they could not tell whether or not they were Christian men.
He is also credited for being the first vicar to wear a cassock and have the collection of offertories (money) during the service.
It is said that when he was dying he changed from being Church of England to Roman Catholic and his ghost can be seen walking the lanes of Morwenstow wearing a fisherman jersey and wellington boots.