HC Deb 22 November 1830 vol 1 cc620-4
Mr. Spring Rice

moved that a New Writ be issued for the election of a Member for the County of Cumberland, in the room of Sir James Graham, who had accepted the Office of First Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty.

Mr. Phillpotts

, on the question being put, said, that a motion respecting the living of Stanhope had been put upon the books by the hon. Member who had now vacated his seat, and as that Motion could not now come on, for a short time at least, and, in the mean time, the right rev. Prelate referred to in that Motion, was subjected to the effect of those mistakes that had been circulated respecting him, he (Mr. Phillpotts) trusted that the House would indulge, him while he made a short statement of the real circumstances of the case: —The Petition from the inhabitants of Stanhope to his Majesty, praying that the Rectory of that Parish might not be holden in commendam with the See of Exeter, contained three allegations—and only three of any moment. They were as follows:— 1st. That "the population of which the Rector has the spiritual care, consists of 12,000 inhabitants."—2nd. That "he delegates the spiritual care of these 12,000 souls to a hireling."—3rd. That "the parish pays him a tithe of 4,000l. a-year, and therefore may claim the advantages of a resident Rector." Every one of these al- legations was substantially untrue. First, it was alleged that the population consisted of 12,000; whereas, at the last census, under the most extended description which could be given to the district, the numbers were no more than 7,341. But of these 7,341, the far greater part, no less than 4,994, were not placed under the spiritual care of the Rector. They belonged to an ancient Chapelry, locally situate indeed within the limits of the parish of Stanhope, but placed from the earliest times under a distinct minister, with a distinct endowment; and for many years past an entirely independent benefice. Within that Chapelry a second independent benefice had recently been erected. Over the incumbents of these two benefices, which, were indeed, in his patronage, he had no control whatever. In short, instead of 12,000 souls, as was asserted in the petition, 2,341 only were under the spiritual care of the Rector of Stanhope. The second allegation of the petition was, that the Rector "delegates the spiritual care of 12,000 inhabitants to a hireling." It had just been shown that the care of 2,341 only could be delegated by him at all. It was delegated, during the time of his necessary absence, to two resident Curates, both of whom were men of education and high character; one of them a man of independent fortune, who had resigned a small living of which he was incumbent, in order to become Curate at Stanhope. These Curates were not dependents; for when they were licensed, as they were bound to be, they were irremoveable, except for some fault of which the Bishop was the judge; and from his sentence they had an appeal to the Metropolitan. In short, therefore, instead of "the spiritual care of 12,000 inhabitants being delegated to one hireling," as was asserted in the petition, the truth was, that 2,347 are placed, during the absence of the Rector, under the charge of two licensed and responsible Curates. The third allegation was, that "the parish pays to the Rector a tithe of 4,000l. per annum, and therefore has a right to the advantages of a resident Rector;" whereas, in truth, the whole amount of what was paid to him by the parishioners was something between 500l. and 600l. per annum, hardly a shilling in the pound on the rental. The great bulk of the emoluments of the living arose from a payment not made by any inhabitants of the parish of Stanhope, nor by persons who could in any sense be called parishioners It was, in effect, an ancient donation from the See of Durham, made long before the restraining Statutes prohibited such an alienation of its funds. That donation conferred on the Rector of Stanhope a portion, nominally a tenth, of the ore raised from the lead mines of the See situate within the parish, which portion, amounting in value at present to about 3,000l. per annum, was paid by the Lessees of the Bishop's mines, who lived at a great distance from Stanhope. There were other considerable mines within the parish, especially those of the chairman of the meeting at which the petition was voted, but neither he nor any other proprietor, except the Bishop, paid anything whatever to the Rector on account of his mines. That payment, therefore, being the bulk of the income of the living of Stanhope, was taken from the revenues of the See of Durham; and that opulent See, so often as the Rectory of Stanhope was holden in commendam. contributes to supply the defective endowment of some poorer Bishoprick; an appropriation so fitting, that this Rectory has repeatedly been made the subject of a commendam. The three Rectors in succession who immediately preceded the last incumbent, held that living with their respective Bishopricks. 1st, Bishop Butler, the author of the Analogy—a man not more distinguished by his wonderful talents than by his pious and conscientious discharge of all his duties—with the See of Bristol. 2nd, Bishop Keene, with the See of Chester. 3rd, Bishop Thurlow, with the See of Lincoln. The See of Exeter, in consequence of the spoliation of its revenues, in the reigns of Edward 6th and Queen Elizabeth, was notoriously too poor for the maintenance of its Bishop. It had been the invariable practice to allow those who were raised to it to retain some or all of their former preferments. Since the commencement of the present century, there had been three instances of Bishops of this See holding livings; one of them. Bishop Courtenay, was Rector of the rich and populous parish of St. George's Hanoversquare, containing 43,936 inhabitants (though of this instance it was freely admitted, that the parish, being situate in London, might be superintended by the Bishop, during the months in which he attended in Parliament). 2nd, Bishop Pelham held a parish in Sussex of 1,907 inhabitants. 3rd, The late Bishop held a parish in Yorkshire, containing 841 inhabitants, the income of which, being small, was found not sufficient to make the revenues of the See of Exeter adequate to the demands upon him, though he was a single man. It must be observed, that when a poor Bishoprick was to be sustained by a commendam, the question, what that commendam should be, must be decided, generally, by the nature of the preferment previously held by the person nominated to the Bishoprick. In the present instance, besides this general reason, there were special circumstances of a very peculiar kind. When the present Rector of Stanhope succeeded to the living, he built a house upon it, at the requisition of the late Bishop of Durham, the patron of the living, and on a plan approved and settled by him. The charge of building that house and the premises annexed to it, together with a house, which, of his own accord, and without being required by the Bishop, he built for the residence of his Curates, has amounted to 12,000l.; which charge, equivalent to 1,000l. per annum, was not laid permanently on the living, but attaches solely to himself, and, of course would continue so to attach, even if he should cease to be Rector. In consequence, when his Majesty's gracious intention of raising him to the bench of Bishops was announced to him, four months ago, not having solicited, nor taken any step, direct or indirect, to obtain this or any other Bishoprick, he immediately felt it his duty to state the impossibility of his availing himself of his Majesty's gracious purpose, unless, like his predecessors, he should be permitted to retain his living in commendam, there being no other preferment vacant at the disposal of the Crown approaching to an equivalent for the sacrifice. It was after this communication that he was informed by his Majesty's Minister, that orders were given for preparing the proper instruments to enable him to retain the living; he, in consequence, no longer scrupled to accept the offered promotion. He trusted that this statement would be thought satisfactory, to the hon. Baronet and the country and that the House would hear no more upon the subject. He was quite sure that the hon. Baronet had no notion when he gave notice of the motion, of what were the real circumstances of the case.

Sir H. Hardinge

said, that as the circumstances attendant upon the promotion of Dr. Phillpotts were generally under- stood, he felt it necessary to say a few words upon the subject. He had the authority of the Duke of Wellington for stating, that he (the Duke of Wellington) was in communication with Dr. Phillpotts upon the subject of the Catholic Relief Bill, and that Dr. Phillpotts, instead of being, as was generally supposed, an approver of that measure, had been, in fact, an opponent of the measure, up to the time of the passing of it. He could further state, on the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, that it was the intention of Lord Liverpool to raise Dr. Phillpotts to the Episcopal Bench. The House should also, perhaps, be informed, that the Duke of Wellington made the usual communications to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, and that the noble Duke received the assent of those right reverend Prelates to the propriety of the appointment of Dr. Phillpotts to the See of Exeter. The right reverend Prelates had, indeed, said, that the appointment might be unpopular in the Church; but, as the noble Duke knew that the grounds on which Dr. Phillpotts was unpopular were altogether mistaken and erroneous, the noble Duke saw, that this could be no objection to the appointment. Let him observe that Dr. Phillpotts had fourteen children to provide for, and that he was compelled to lay aside a considerable portion of his income as a provision for his family, in the event of any accident happening to him. He did not appeal ad misericordiam in behalf of Dr. Phillpotts. They ought to recollect that Dr. Phillpotts had laid out 12,000l. on the living, and that he had all along been promised that he should hold the living in commendam with the See of Exeter. He had thought it his duty to state this to the House, in addition to the explanation which had been given by the hon. Member opposite, of the misrepresentations which had gone abroad on this subject.

Back to