HC Deb 21 March 1849 vol 103 cc1072-5

rose to move, pursuant to notice, to refer the above Bill to a Select Committee, by which means it would be advanced more rapidly. While doing so he would take that opportunity of referring to a statement made in one of the leading journals of this city, with respect to the case of a rev. gentleman, for whom that Bill was said to have been intended—he meant the Rev. Mr. Shore. Now as the statement made was directly at variance with the fact, he would briefly set the matter right by mentioning what were the real circumstances of the case. He found it mentioned in a morning paper— That the object of proceedings taken against the Rev. Mr. Shore in the Arches Courts, was not the imprisonment of that gentleman, nor for the purpose of deposing him from his functions as a clergyman, but because having been cautioned against doing so, he still persisted in officiating in an unconsecrated house of worship without a license from the Bishop. Now, without insisting upon it that the proposed divestment of holy orders would relieve the rev. gentleman from his liability in the Ecclesiastical Courts, he (Mr. Bouverie) would simply state that the allegation contained in the paragraph which he had read was not the fact, but the very contrary to the fact. He happened to have in his possession the form of proceedings taken in the ecclesiastical courts, which had been laid before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. He found there, that, according to the prayer of the articles exhibited against the Rev. Mr. Shore, it was to the effect— That that gentleman should be admonished to abstain from publicly administering the sacraments, preaching or performing Divine service in the said chapel; and that if he should refuse compliance with that admonition, he might be dealt with and punished in proportion to the nature of his offence, according to the provisions and extent of the law. Then he found in the judgment delivered by Sir Herbert Jenner Fust a full confirmation of what he asserted. The hon. Member here read an extract from the judgment referred to, and concluded by observing that the object of the proceedings in the Ecclesiastical Court was to depose the Rev. Mr. Shore from his clerical functions, and therefore the statement alluded to was not only not the fact, but decidedly contrary to the fact.


said, he was glad that the hon. Member had determined to move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee; and he hoped, if it went there, that a provision would be introduced into it by which a clergyman might be divested of his office by the same authority which had invested him with it. The Bill, as it at present stood, almost enabled a clergyman to divest himself of his office with as little trouble as it would take to blow his nose; and he thought that was far too summary a proceeding for so serious a business. A military officer was obliged to resign his office through the hands of the same authorities who had appointed him to it; and that principle might very properly be extended to ecclesiastical matters.


did not wish to anticipate the result of the deliberations of the Select Committee; but he rose to make some observations upon what had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock. He could not help thinking that his hon. Friend had not perfectly understood the bearing of the form of the proceedings in the ecclesiastical court. He did not know in which of the morning journals the statement had appeared to which his hon. Friend had referred; but he understood the writer of the article to contend that the object of the proceeding by the Bishop against the Rev. Mr. Shore, was practically to depose him from the office of a minister of the Church of England. His hon. Friend did not seem to be aware that the Bishop could not pray for the Rev. Mr. Shore's deposition, on account of his preaching in an unlicensed chapel. All, therefore, that he could possibly do was to avail himself of the existing provisions of the law, and to go into the ecclesiastical court, and pray for such punishment as the law of the land directed. It did not appear to him, therefore, that any observation fairly arose out of the form of the proceeding upon the statement to which his hon. Friend had referred.


remarked, that in the course of the judgment, the learned Judge who presided said, that, as he understood, the prayer of the Bishop's counsel was to the same effect as the prayer of the articles.


said, that was a matter of course.


said, that, lest he should be supposed to concur with the hon. Member for Henleyshire—[Laughter]—Oxfordshire, he should say—he must declare that he saw no reason why the least obstacle should be interposed to a clergyman's quitting the Church, when he could not conscientiously continue to hold its doctrines. Any other course would encourage hypocrisy; and he hoped that the Committee upstairs would place every facility in the way of a clergyman's leaving the Church under such circumstances.


wished it to be clearly understood that he did not concur in the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for Montrose. He would submit it to the hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill, whether, instead of going into a discussion on the details of the Bill, it would not be better merely to consider the question as to sending it before a Select Committee?


referred to the case of a clergyman who had left the Church, and had become a Roman Catholic layman. He had been appointed a Government inspector of schools, and had been gazetted to that office as an esquire. He wished to know whether that gentleman could not, under the provisions of this Bill, be elected a Member of that House?


observed, that he had given notice on the Paper that this Bill should be referred to a Select Committee; but he was happy to find that he was anticipated in his intention by his hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock, who had charge of the Bill. He had received communications from various parts of the country respecting this measure, and from them it appeared that there was no objection to the principle of allowing clergymen to leave the Church; the only question was, as to the mode of doing so.


asked when the proper time would arrive for presenting a petition in favour of this Bill, which was agreed to at a public meeting at which upwards of 5,000 persons were present, and which he wished to have referred to the Select Committee on the Bill.


observed, that a Motion to that effect could not be made until the Committee on the Bill was appointed.

Order for Committee read, and discharged. Bill committed to a Select Committee.

House resumed.