HC Deb 27 February 1849 vol 102 cc1317-23

Motion made, and Question proposed—"That the Bill be now read a second time."


opposed the second reading of this Bill. It was promoted by the remarkably suitably named corporation "Brazenose College, Oxford," for the purpose of enabling the rector of St. Mary's to receive 1,000l. a year out of the poor-rates. The Bill was intituled "a Bill for extinguishing the rights of the Rector," but it would have been more properly intituled, "a Bill for extinguishing the rights of the parishioners." It was an attempt to induce the House to sanction a title which was disputed, and to enforce a commutation where there was nothing to be commuted; to lay a tax upon the householders of Whitechapel, where they said there never was any right to make a demand. Far from there being even immemorial usage for such a charge, the parish had been originally part of Stepney parish, from which it was separated, and the offerings made to the rector were only voluntary. The promoters of the Bill endeavoured to make out a title, by referring to the proceedings of a select vestry meeting held in 1818, whereby 300l. a year had been agreed upon by the inhabitants as the income of the rector. But, recently, the collector stated the offerings to be worth only 141l. If such a measure were allowed to pass, it would have the effect of hindering the people from paying the poor-rates; and nothing could be more discreditable to the Established Church than to have its rectors living upon the money given for the support of the poor. He should move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.


seconded the Motion.

Amendment proposed—"To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon that day six months.'"


thought that a more temperate mode of discussion, one dealing less in strong language, a more fair and candid consideration of the subject, would have tended more to the coming to a fair decision upon it, than the very animated language—to use no more expressive terra—indulged in by the hon. Member for Middlesex. That hon. Gentleman said that the principle of the Bill was to give to the rector of St. Mary's, Whitechapel, 1,000l. a year out of the poor-rates. He (Mr. Gladstone) said, that its principle was to extinguish the rights of the rector to the Easter offerings and the tithes, and to establish a fixed annual payment in lieu thereof. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Osborne) asked the House, would they pass such a Bill against the unanimous feeling of the parish, at the instance of the rector alone? But the hon. Gentleman knew very well that the parish was divided upon the subject. There was a petition in preparation, which would be presented in a day or two, signed by a large number of the most respectable inhabitants of the parish, including several Dissenters, a Dissenting clergyman, and some Jews, in favour of the Bill. He repeated, its object was to extinguish claims of a large and undefined nature, which could only be enforced by a suit in Chancery, at great expense to the rector, and at greater expense still to the ratepayers, but with the certainty of giving to the rector, finally, a very much larger income than he claimed under the Bill. [Mr. BERNAL OSBORNE: Yes, supposing him to get a 2s. 9d. rate.] Yes; a 2s. 9d. rate on a rental of 96,000l. would produce from 12,000l. to 16,000l. a year. All he asked the House was to go into Committee to consider the propriety of a fixed income in lieu of the present disputed rate. He would not pledge himself to the particular amount at which the income shall be fixed; because that point could be arranged in Committee; but in principle he said the principle was a reasonable one. What would be the consequence if it were rejected? The parish was at present under, he thought, one of the most devoted, pious, and active clergymen that ever existed. But he was much less regardful of his temporal interests than of his spiritual; and the consequence was, that the income of the parish was dwindling away in his hands. The last payment he had received was only 490l., whilst the average for the last ten years was 541l. But if he were to enforce his right, which was upon an extreme rate of 2s. 9d. in the pound, he would be entitled to 1,200l. or 1,500l. a year. There must be a limit to his patience and endurance. Much less would he continue his forbearance when he recollected that he was presented by the college, and that his right was a trust fund which he was bound to guard and hand down in its integrity to the future generation. The consequence would be, that if he could not enforce those rights he would resign, and another rector would be appointed, who would come in with the determination of enforcing and defending them. The parish would be obliged to go to law, and the end of it would be, that they would be obliged to pay more than 1,000l. a year, besides the expenses to which they would be put. He hoped that those hon. Gentlemen who were about to address the House upon the subject, would confine themselves to its merits, and not mix up their objections to the endowment of State churches with it. Whatever might be their opinions regarding the funds of the Established Church, they were public funds that ought not to be frittered away either by State or Church. He did hope, then, that a Bill like this, having for its object the simplification of the law, would receive the assent of the Legislature.


confessed that it was with pain and reluctance that he opposed this Bill; but he was under the necessity of stating to the House that the real case was this—it was the substitution of endowment, by the will of that House, for certain legal rights. If he were asked whether he would consent to the substitution for legal claims of an arbitrary determination to take a certain sum, he was compelled to say that he could not sanction such a principle. He could wish, perhaps, that the differences existing on the question could be settled by arbitration, but he saw many difficulties in the way of such a mode of settlement.


would venture to point out to the House the objections attaching to this measure, and also the course which he thought the House ought to pursue. It was true, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) stated, that under the Bill the parties concerned would be bound to pay only 1,000l. per annum. Yet the principle of the Bill was the substitution by the House of a certain sum in lieu of an undecided claim, and its effect would be the charging an ecclesiastical endowment upon the poor-rates. Now, many and grave objections must be entertained to the proposition for throwing on the poor-rates a charge of this description, while there would also be objections of an equally grave nature to any other rate—which must be in the nature of a church rate—being levied for the purpose. The rector did not allege that his claim was actually established; he only assumed that it was so; but even supposing such a measure founded upon such an assumption to be desirable, it ought to come before them in the shape of a general Act, extending over the whole of the city of London, and not as a private Bill, embracing only a single parish. He objected, however, to the Bill as it stood, because its very principle was to saddle the poor-rates with a claim which was not chargeable upon them; and he thought that the most satisfactory plan would be to postpone the second reading of the present Bill, for the purpose of introducing another, in which the right hon. Gentleman might distinctly state how he proposed to levy the rate for the commutation of tithes in the parish in question.


said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, seemed hardly aware that this case was not unprecedented, or one which that House had been called upon to affirm. In the case of the Bethnal Green rectory, no longer than two years since, this principle had been affirmed. If, as suggested by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay), this case were to be settled by arbitration, where could it be so well decided as before a Committee of that House? He supported the principle of this Bill, in order to enable the House to decide what ought to be the amount of compensation, and thus prevent litigation.


must oppose the Bill, in compliance with the wishes of a large number of his constituents, who, however, were influenced by no personal hostility to the truly exemplary and excellent incumbent. The parishioners, who were now pursuing an inquiry into the claim of that rev. gentleman, wished the Bill to be postponed until that inquiry should have terminated, when, should the result be to establish the claim, none would be more willing than they to recognise it. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) said the Bill was brought forward with a view to prevent litigation, and save the money both of the parishioners and the incumbent; but the parishioners were not afraid of litigation. There had been litigation before in this parish, and it had always resulted in cutting down the claims of the rector, and freeing large numbers of the inhabitants from the charges sought to be made upon them. The right hon. Gentleman, when he talked of the possibility of the rector maintaining a claim of six or seven times the amount now proposed, should remember that the late rector (Dr. Matthias) never put his claim at more than 1,100l., and never obtained more than 1,000l.


hoped the House would allow the Bill to go to Committee. He was connected with the district by business, and he considered that the claim of the rector should be commuted for a fixed sum, which could be easily settled in Committee. It was a great hardship that the rights of the rector should be allowed to lapse, because there was a difficulty in enforcing them. He was especially anxious that the present Bill should pass, because he had reason to believe that, were it to be thrown out, the present excellent rector would be obliged to resign his charge, and that another would be appointed who might be less scrupulous in asserting his rights. On that account he bogged the House would allow the Bill to go before a Committee.


said, the opponents of the Bill did not object to an amicable settlement, or to a settlement which should be satisfactory to the incumbent; but it should be remembered that they were now legislating for a parish, the majority of whose inhabitants were Jews or Dissenters. He suggested that the Bill should be postponed, in order to give time for an amicable arrangement between both parties. With regard to the feeling of the inhabitants, at a vestry meeting held on the 25th of January, a resolution was unanimously come to that was decidedly hostile to the Bill.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 70; Noes 89: Majority 19.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Heneage, G. H. W.
Anstey, T. C. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Ashley, Lord Herries, rt. hon. J. C.
Bailey, J. Hildyard, R. C.
Bailey, J., jun. Hogg, Sir J. W.
Baillie, H. J. Hope, Sir J.
Beresford, W. Hope, H. T.
Boldero, H. G. Hughes, W. B.
Bourke, R. S. Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.
Bowles, Adm. Lincoln, Earl of
Brackley, Visct. Lopes, Sir R.
Bramston, T. W. Mahon, Visct.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Mangles, R. D.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Masterman, J.
Campbell, hon. W. F. Meux, Sir H.
Carew, W. H. P. Miles, P. W. S.
Chandos, Marq. of Miles, W.
Chaplin, W. J. Napier, J.
Clements, hon. C. S. O'Brien, Sir L.
Clive, H. B. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B. Plowden, W. H. C.
Cocks, T. S. Pugh, D.
Cubitt, W. Reid, Col
Dodd, G. Sandars, G.
Duncuft, J. Seymer, H. K.
Du Pre, C. G. Sidney, Aldm.
Farnham, E. B. Stanley, E.
Farrer, J. Taylor, T. E.
Filmer, Sir E. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Forbes, W. Waddington, H. S.
Fuller, A. E. Wiloughby, Sir H.
Granby, Marq. of Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Greenall, G. Young, Sir J.
Greene, J.
Grogan, E. TELLERS.
Hall, Col. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Harris, hon. Capt. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
List of the NOES.
Anderson, A. Evans, Sir De L.
Bass, M. T. Ewart, W.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Fagan, W.
Birch, Sir T. B. Fordyce, A. D.
Bright, J. Forster, M.
Brotherton, J. Fortescue, C.
Brown, W. Fox, R. M.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.
Cavendish, W. G. Glyn, G. C.
Cobden, R. Greene, J.
Cowan, C. Grenfell, C. P.
Crawford, W. S. Grey, R. W.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Hardcastle, J. A.
Drummond, H. Harris, R.
Duncan, Visct. Hastie, A.
Duncan, G. Hawes, B.
Duncombe, hon. O. Henry, A.
Dundas, Adm. Heyworth, L.
Ellis, J. Hindley, C.
Hodges, T. L. Russell, F. C. H.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Rutherfurd, A.
Howard, P. H. Salwey, Col.
Hume, J. Scully, F.
Humphery, Aldm. Shafto, R. D.
Jervis, Sir J. Sheridan, R. B.
Kershaw, J. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Lennard, T. B. Smith, M. T.
Locke, J. Smith, J. B.
Lushington, C. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.
M'Gregor, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Maitland, T. Stuart, Lord D.
Matheson, Col. Thicknesse, R. A.
Moffatt, G. Thompson, Col.
Morgan, H. K. G. Thompson, G.
Morris, D. Thornely, T.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Tufnell, H.
Mowatt, F. Wall, C. B.
O'Connor, F. Wawn, J. T.
O'Flaherty, A. Willcox, B. M.
Ogle, S. C. H. Williams, J.
Pattison, J. Wilson, M.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Wyld, J.
Pilkington, J. Wyvill, M.
Pinney, W. TELLERS.
Roche, E. B. Osborne, R. B.
Romilly, Sir J. Clay, Sir W.

Words added. Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to. Second Reading put off for six months.