HC Deb 11 July 1851 vol 118 cc572-97

Order for Committee of Supply read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the case of the Rochester Cathedral Grammar School, and to the administration of the Educational Trusts confided to the Cathedral Establishments of the Kingdom. The subject was not altogether alien to that just discussed, and was one of the greatest reproaches to the Church of England. Though his Motion related to the oppression which had been suffered by an individual in a good cause, it was intimately connected with the question of education generally, in which all parties and classes in this country had of late interested themselves. The particular case he would dismiss in few words. Early in 1848, the Rev. Mr. Whiston, then head master of the Rochester Cathedral Grammar School, applied by letter to the dean and chapter, under whose more immediate authority he held his office, representing to them that the fittings and other ordinary necessaries of the grammar school were defective, and pointing out that the four exhibitions attached to the school—which he hoped to make one of the great inducements to the gentry of the neighbourhood and the middle classes to send their sons there—were altogether insufficient, and unsuitable to the necessities and wants of the parties holding them. He pointed out that, although in 1542, when the school was endowed, in common with the cathedral institution, of which it formed a part, the sum of 5l. allotted to each exhibitioner was amply sufficient, being equal to about 80l. at the present day, yet that it was now palpably inadequate for the purposes for which those exhibitions were originally established. But without the smallest reference to the manifest intention of the donor, or the increased value of the estate, the literal 5l. only was continued to be doled out. The dean and chapter answered, to the effect, that although they admitted the facts to be substantially correct, he (Mr. Whiston) was wrong in the inference drawn as to the obligation imposed upon them by the statutes. Mr. Whiston replied by quoting at length and verbatim various extracts from the statutes by which the cathedral and grammar school of Rochester were founded and endowed by the munificence of Henry VIII. The dean and chapter cut the matter short by desiring Mr. Whiston, as one who was in their service and employment, and consequently from whom they had a right to expect deference and obedience, to close the correspondence. He, having at heart the welfare of the school, appealed instead to the public. He first, however, made some further efforts to arouse the dean and chapter to a sense of their duty; and, amongst other steps, he submitted a case to the then Attorney General, Sir John Romilly, and another eminent lawyer, Mr. W. D. Lewis of the Equity bar, inviting their opinion as to the construction of the statutes. Finding, however, single-handed and powerless as he was, that he was unable to obtain redress from that wealthy body, he ultimately published a work, entitled, Cathedral Trusts and their Fulfilment, having for its object to arouse the attention and invite the sympathy of the public on behalf of a cause so well advocated, and its interference between himself and the Dean and Chapter of Rochester. For this offence, as they were pleased to term it, they dismissed him from his office, alleging that a man capable of making statements reflecting indirectly so grossly upon the character of the clergymen composing the deanery and chapter of Rochester was altogether unworthy to be entrusted with the instruction of boys at that grammar school. Such a conclusion as that would altogether depend on the truth or otherwise of the facts put forth in the rev. gentleman's work, and on the spirit in which he commented upon those facts, supposing them to be true. If any obloquy attached to the dean and chapter, it was simply because the facts were true and undoubted, and not because of any comments which he had thought it his duty to make. The facts themselves were of so damning a character to that body, that any comment on them was superfluous. This case was of necessity mixed up with the question of the administration of educational trusts by the cathedral bodies of the kingdom generally; and it was impossible to treat of this single case without touching on the grammar schools connected with other cathedral bodies. The preamble to the general statutes regulating cathedrals stated, amongst other things, that these bodies had been founded and endowed for these purposes— That youth might be liberally trained, old age provided with things necessary for living, that there might be liberal largesses of alms to the poor—for the repairs of roads and bridges—and that other offices of piety might thence flow abroad far and wide to all the neighbouring places, to the glory of Almighty God, and the common welfare and happiness of the subjects of these realms. The words of the Rochester statutes plainly showed that the grammar sshool boys, and the four exhibitioners, had a claim upon the foundation for their "sustentation," in the words of the statutes. In page 89, it was stated, "We ordain that there shall be for ever, in the founder's church at Rochester, twenty poor boys maintained out of the cathedral revenues." That was repeated in the statutes half a dozen times, in one shape or another. A few lines further was the following: "We will that these boys be maintained, or have their alimony at the cost of our church at Rochester." In page 10, again, it spoke of those boys as "those who are maintained at the charge of our church." At page 96, they were spoken of as "the boys learning the grammar, and having their victuals or living given them for nothing." Subsequently, in page 107, it spoke of "the four students or scholars sent with exhibitions to the two universities." It said, "We ordain that out of the funds of our Church four poor scholars be always maintained in our universities." The revised cathedral statutes of Elizabeth, confirming those in all essential points, had these words, in reference to the same subject:— Moreover, we ordain that out of the whole number of the grammar boys who have their sustentation in our Church, there be for ever maintained of those who have made greater progress than the rest—where fifty scholars, ten students; where forty scholars, there eight students; where twenty-four scholars, there four students; where eighteen scholars, there two students in our university at Cambridge, and the same number at Oxford, to whom let the usual stipend be paid annually, for six years, unless they shall have gained a fellowship in any one of the colleges. Again, in the 25th chapter of the Elizabethan statutes, relating to the duties of the dean, were these words: "Let him also look after the health of those boys, whose liberal bringing up, both in learning and at the table, we commit to his honour." It was to be regretted that the founder had not provided a better security for the fulfilment of his wishes than this frail reliance. The fresh statutes of Charles I. and II. were to the same effect. These were again ratified by Act of Parliament, 6 Anne, cap. 21, confirming the rights of the boys, and repeating the very words of the statute. The Durham statute contained the following:— We direct and ordain that there be for ever in the said church one dean, twelve prebendaries, twelve minor canons, one deacon, one subdeacon, ten clerks, one master of the choristers, ten choristers, two teachers of the boys in grammar, and eighteen boys to be instructed in grammar. The words of the Canterbury statutes were similar, the number of scholars varying. He would now cite the part of the Rochester statutes allotting precise amounts to each of these classes:— The dean is to have 100l.; six prebendaries, each to have 20l.; six minor canons, each 10l.; the master of the grammar school to have 13l. 6s. 8d.; the master of the choristers, 10l.; the second grammar master, 6l. 11s. 10d.; twenty grammar boys, each to be allowed 1l. 13s. 4d.; four students at Oxford and Cambridge, each 6l. 13s. 4d., or 26l. 13s. 4d. These sums, though small in the present day, were of about sixteen times the value in 1542, and thus formed an adequate remuneration to the respective officers. The House must admit that the fact contended for by Mr. Whiston as to the construction of the statutes was established—that the endowment of Henry VIII. in 1542 made express provision, foremost among other things, and only second to the more important spiritual objects contemplated, for the training and education of youth. The educational trust was, beyond all question, contemplated as one of the most important committed to the care of these bodies. Though he had specified the Rochester case particularly, his facts and arguments applied to all similar trusts. The charters were in the form of deeds of trust, requiring them to undertake the care of the schools, which was then, as now, thought a subject of vital importance. The effect of twelve or thirteen trained grammar schools upheld by these cathedral bodies, would, were the trusts properly executed, form a nucleus in all the large towns whence the most beneficial effects would flow. The cathedral of Canterbury was required to provide sustentation for fifty boys, for which 4l. each, or about 60l. at the present day, was allotted. Those boys, in the skeleton of a school at Canterbury, had been cut down from 4l. to 1l. 8s. 4d. Westminster had funds, and was enjoined to provide for forty boys. It had carried out to a great extent the intention of the founders, although of late years it had levied 3,500l. from the boys, on the plea of extending the building—notwithstanding that in the endowment express provision had been made for all wants relative thereto. Worcester had reduced the stipend of its forty boys, and probably the number, from 2l. 13s. 4d. to 5s. 10d. Ely, which had no less than 300 scholars in the 16th century, had now only twenty-four; Peterborough had twenty, and Rochester had either eighteen or twenty, making in the whole 212 free scholarships, and between fifty and sixty exhibitioners to the universities. There were, besides, twenty-four scholars at Chester; twenty at Bristol; twenty at Carlisle, where a few years ago the school was shut up altogether; and twenty at Gloucester. The whole number to be provided for by the statutes of these eleven cathedral bodies was 296, and about fifty-six exhibitors. Such a provision as this could not possibly be overrated in the present day, when the want of education was so much felt. Had the cathedral bodies carried out their trusts? He would now refer to the opinions of the Master of the Rolls and Mr. W. D. Lewis, who was an ornament to the legal profession. The questions and answers were as follows:—

  1. "1. Are the Dean and Chapter of Rochester under a legal obligation to allow the four university students, created by their cathedral statutes, a yearly sum of money out of the common funds of the cathedral, sufficient for the 'alimony' or maintenance of the said students, so long as they comply with the conditions of the statutes, in respect of residence at the university, and provided they take the degrees of B. A. and M. A. at the usual times?
  2. "2. Are the said dean and chapter under a legal obligation to provide for, or to defray the costs of the maintenance of the twenty foundation scholars created by the said statutes, out of the common funds of the cathedral?
  3. "3. Does not the word 'alere,' used in those statutes, impose upon the dean and chapter the legal obligation of providing for the said four students and the said twenty scholars what may be called 'alimony' to the extent of board and lodging at least?
  4. "4. Do the terms of the grant by which the cathedral lands, &c., are given to the corporation of the dean and chapter, or does the fact of 5l. being assigned as a pension or stipend to the said four students, and 10d. a week for commons, with 8s. 4d. a year for livery, and 1s. 8d. for stipend to the said twenty scholars, or does desuetude, or any other legally valid plea, release the dean and chapter from the obligation of providing for the maintenance of the four students, and the twenty scholars, to the extent of board and lodging at the least?
  5. "5. Is an appeal to the bishop of the diocese the proper step to take in the event of the dean and chapter refusing to provide the maintenance aforesaid?"
We have met in consultation on this case, and are of opinion—
  1. "1. That the Dean and Chapter of Rochester are, by virtue of the letters-patent and charters 577 of Henry VIII., respectively called the 'Fundatio,' 'Dotatio,' and 'Statuta,' under an obligation in the nature of a trust, to allow, out of the common funds of the cathedral, to the four university students nominated from time to time, pursuant to the statutes, a yearly sum of money sufficient for their maintenance at the university, subject to their complying with the conditions of the statutes in respect of residence at the university and taking their degrees. The treasurer of the cathedral is, by the statutes, the officer appointed to make these payments.
  2. "2. We are of opinion that the dean and chapter, upon the same letters-patent and charters, are under an obligation in the nature of a trust, to provide for, or to defray the costs of the 'maintenance' (according to the language of the statutes) of the twenty foundation scholars, nominated pursuant to the statutes, out of the common funds of the cathedral. The treasurer is also the officer appointed to make these payments.
  3. "3. We think that the proportion of the increased income applicable for the maintenance of the university students and foundation scholars is to be regulated by the proportion which the statutable stipends assigned for their benefit, bear to the other stipends assigned by the statutes. Should the share thus ascertained be found more than adequate to provide board and lodging for the four university students and twenty foundation scholars, it may be doubtful whether the surplus would go in augmentation of their 'maintenance,' or in the extension of the limits of the charity, to other students and scholars.
  4. "4. We are of opinion that, in this case, desuetude would not constitute a valid plea to release the dean and chapter from the obligation which (as above stated) the statutes impose upon them. With regard to the terms of the grant (dotatio), we think that there is nothing in it to conflict with what we have already stated to be, in our opinion, the proper interpretation of the statutes. On the contrary, as the grant was made in puram et perpetuam eleemosynam, and as the dean and chapter were empowered to hold lands by the "Fundatio," subject to the observance of the ordinances which the founder then had in contemplation, and as the then annual value of the estates was exhausted by the statutable allowances and apportionments, we think that the increase of the rents became applicable to the augmentation, pro rata, of the various specific payments directed by the statutes, or to corresponding purposes, upon the principle of cy-près applied to charities.
  5. "5. Should the dean and chapter or the treasurer refuse to provide for the purposes above specified, application should, in the first instance, be made to the Bishop of Rochester, as visitor, to correct the evil: but probably the visitor, in the exercise of his discretion, would think it proper that the matter should go to the Court of Chancery, to be adjusted there, and would so act as to effect that object.
JOHN ROMILLY, WILLIAM DAVID LEWIS. Lincoln's Inn, November 25. He thought if any doubt had existed in the minds of hon. Gentlemen, they should be put an end to by these plain, decided, and unequivocal opinions, coming from such high legal and equitable authorities. That being the case, he would now state what had been the conduct of the Dean and Chapter of the Rochester Cathedral with respect to the education confided to their trust. The sum of 53l. 6s. 8d., allotted to that school in 1542, would, at the present day, amount to about 853l. 6s. 8d.; that was to say, that if the dean and chapter had allotted pro rata the funds intrusted to them, it would have been their plain duty to have allotted at least that sum to the support of the two masters, the twenty boys, and the four exhibitioners; or, if they had increased those stipends in the same ratio as they had increased their own, the sum to be allotted would amount to 1,812l. 13s. 4d. But during the years 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, and 1838, the sums which they had paid for this purpose out of their prodigiously increased revenues were severally 9l., 6l., 5l., 5l., 6l., 3l., 1l., and 1l., until at last, in 1839, there was neither scholar nor school at all. They had pulled the building down, sold the site, and there was no boy to receive anything. That was the manner in which these gentlemen discharged the trust confided to them; though, as he had before stated, they had increased their own stipends by thirty-four times the amount originally intended for them. In a short time subsequently, being alarmed by the commentaries of the press on the subject, they built another school, and gave as a reason for disposing of the old one, that it was out of repair. He believed that during the present century the Dean and Chapter of Rochester had divided among themselves the sum of 5,000l. which ought to have been devoted to educational purposes. Now, he felt bound to observe that the Dean and Chapter of Rochester had not disputed any of these facts; and he could not help thinking that the mere statement of the facts, as far as they went, by any person, could not form a sufficient justification for the dismissal, by the dean and chapter, of the individual who might give publicity to them. But it so happened that the dean and chapter did dismiss Mr. Winston, the head master of the school, for publishing these facts, stating that, in their opinion, the man who could make use of the language which he did in his work on the subject, was unworthy to discharge the functions of head master of the Rochester grammar school. Now he (Mr. Mowatt) referred with confidence to that work, and defied any hon. Gentleman to point his finger at any phrase therein not justified by the facts of the case. It was true that it characterised the conduct of the dean and chapter as unbecoming that of gentlemen, much less clergymen and trustees, bound to administer money placed in their hands for educational and charitable purposes. Mr. Whiston certainly did make use of strong language; but then that language was pertinent, and strictly applicable to the facts brought forward. No remedy whatever existed for this case of oppression. First, the dean and chapter had the power to dismiss Mr. Whiston; and next, it was impossible for the bishop to interpose in his behalf without bringing on himself the most signal condemnation, since the Bishop of Rochester was himself previously Dean of Worcester, and, in that capacity had sanctioned similar misappropriation of the funds of that Church. Whilst Dean of Worcester, he had cut down the stipends allotted for the support of the scholars from 2l. 13s. 1d. to 5s. 10d. However, Mr. Whiston having made an appeal, not with reference to his dismissal, but with reference to the dean and chapter declining to fulfil their proper functions, the bishop, after keeping him some months in correspondence, and in suspense, finally said, "I think, after all, your best way is to go to Chancery," meaning, probably, by that, that he might go to some other place not mentionable to ears polite. So that it was no far-fetched deduction to say that it would be idle to apply to a man to decide as a judge whose antecedents made it impossible for him to decide without condemning himself. Fortunately for the scholars, Mr. Whiston was a man not disposed to yield tamely to such proceedings, and he consequently appealed to the public, through his work entitled Cathedral Trusts and their Fulfilment, which had, however, meanwhile the effect with his self-constituted judges of confirming his dismissal. In that state of things he applied to the Court of Queen's Bench, and obtained a mandamus, compelling the dean and chapter to restore him to his office, or to show cause for not complying. He might observe that Mr. Whiston adopted that course more with the hope of inducing his opponents to meet him on the merits of the case, than with any other intention. But they abstained from putting in their case the opinions of their counsel in relation to the matter; and, therefore, he thought he might conclude that these opinions were confirmatory of those which he had already quoted as expressed by the present Master of the Rolls and Mr. Lewis. The dean and chapter met him, however, on technical grounds, stating that he should have applied in the first instance to the bishop, as visitor, and in case of his refusing to entertain the case, then he (Mr. Whiston) would have been justified in going before the Queen's Bench. Now, in his (Mr. Mowatt's) opinion, that was an admission of the substantial merits of the case. He would refer to a table showing the comparative value of the cathedral endowments in 1542, when they were founded, and at the present day, with accounts of the sums drawn by the dean and chapter for their own emolument, and also of those expended upon schools. The original endowment of the Cathedral of Canterbury was 2,547l. 18s.; the present value, 84,525l.; gross receipts, as returned by the dean and chapter, on an average of seven years ending 1834, were 15,463l. In 1542 the sum expended on schools was 430l., or one-sixth of its total revenue; in 1834 the chapter expended only 1–464th part of its revenues on educational purposes. The original endowment of Bristol was 6881. 9s. 9d.; its value by the last returns was 24,780l.; the proportion received in this case by its dean and chapter was 4,489l. The amount expended upon schools at the period of its foundation was 20l., or 1-34th of the revenues; it was now only 1–279th part of the revenues. He would not weary the House by going over all the cases. He would take that of Rochester, with which he was more immediately concerned. The original endowment of Rochester Cathedral was 820l. 10s.; by the last return the value was 29,538l., out of which the dean and chapter took directly, 7,099l. The amount expended in 1542 on the school was 99l. 18s. 6d., or one-eighth of its whole revenue; whilst the proportion expended in 1834, before the school was closed, was 1–233rd part. With more or less variation, the same enormous disparity existed in all the other cases. He would refer to the return of the Cathedral incomes for the two periods, because it showed the distribution of the revenues amongst the different dignitaries and officers of the chapters. In 1542 the Dean of Canterbury received 300l.; in 1831–1849, his income averaged 2,050l. In 1542 the Dean of Rochester received 100l., in 1840 he received 1,426l. In 1542 the Dean of Peterborough received 100l.; in 1849 he received 1,166l. In 1542 the Dean of Gloucester received 100l.; he received 1,100l. in 1840. In 1562 the Dean of Worcester received 123l.; at present he received 1,486l. The canons of Canterbury, in 1542, received 40l. 2s. 11d.; in 1849, 1,010l. At Rochester, the stipend of each prebendary was 20l. in 1542; whilst, in 1840, it was 680l. 19s. At Peterborough it was 20l., in 1542, and 539l. at present; and so on all the way through. He might be allowed to read the words of the oath taken by the deans and canons of cathedrals, that the House might see how badly, even according to their own interpretation, they fulfilled the duties that devolved upon them by virtue of their offices:— I, A. B., who have been nominated, elected. and instituted canon (or dean) of this cathedral church, having in my hand the Holy Gospels of God, swear that I will keep all and every one of the statutes and ordinances of King Henry VIII., our founder, and will take care that they shall be kept by others, so far as in me lies; and that I will not hinder what may be lawfully done for the profit and honour of this church, but will study and promote its interests. All and every one of these things I will take to mind, study, and observe, so far as in me lies. By way of contrast, he wished to refer to the management of Trinity College, Cambridge. The sixty scholars in that College were each originally allowed only 3l. 18s. 4d. per year as their total stipend or allowance; but that sum had been increased to 64l. 7s. 8d. each. In Winchester school the increase had been from 3l. 6s. 8d. per scholar per annum to 50l.; and in Durham school the increase was in like proportion. It was not his (Mr. Mowatt's) intention to go into evidence of the other abuses that existed amongst these cathedral bodies, and the violation of their trust in other than educational matters; but he thought he might contrast their conduct to the scholars with that which they pursued in their own individual cases, to show that they were not altogether insensible of the advantage of possessing money. It was remarkable, as an illustration of the value set upon money by the members of these institutions, that a prebendary of I Canterbury, who had put himself forward conspicuously with his comments on the case of Mr. Whiston, whom he accused of forwarding the cause of atheists and levellers, was a pluralist, who, far from being content with his prebendal income of 1,000l., held benefices and preferments of various kinds amounting to the yearly value of 6,217l. 5s. With regard to the Dean and Chapter of Rochester, he only wished to add that they—robbed, he was going to say—but not liking to make use of strong language, he would merely say that they appropriated to themselves the funds set apart for the benefit of the students; and although their statutes expressly set forth —"that in order that the minor canons and priests of the church may diligently attend to the duties of the church, we allow them licence to hold one and only one ecclesiastical benefice with the aforesaid services, provided that such benefice is not more than twenty-four miles from Rochester. Still, nevertheless, the three prebendal priests of the church held benefices more than one in number, and at more than 100 miles' distance from the cathedral. The value of the livings held by the deans and five canons was returned at 7,740l., exclusive of their own immediate revenues as deans and canons of that cathedral, amounting to 4,830l. per annum; or a total income of 12,570l. They had also appropriated the funds of a lepers' hospital of which they were patrons, as successors of the former priors of Rochester, to such an extent that from 1822 to 1835 the dean received, for fines for the renewal of leases alone, no less a sum than 5,707l. 7s. 10d. Besides all this, the value of the patronage in the hands of the dean and canons, and enjoyed by their connections, was 4,940l. As an additional instance of the rapacity of the dean and chapter, he begged to state the following case to the House. A few years ago, one of the canons died, and his canonry lapsed to the Ecclesiastical Commission, so that a dean and five canons were left for the "spiritual services," at the rate of 4,830l. a year for what they might do. Accordingly, on their praying to he relieved from the additional duty by the appointment of a substitute, the Commissioners consented, and allowed 50l. a month for it. The chapter then selected, and the bishop approved as a substitute, the most heavily burthened canon of those who had prayed to be relieved from labours which, for the most part, were now discharged by the minor canons, but without any of the 50l. He would state another case, reflecting, in his opinion in like manner, on one of the prebendaries of Rochester. The Charter House provided an exhibition of 20l. a year for eight years "for the children only of such as have not the means to bring them up." Now, one of the pre- bendaries of the cathedral, who enjoyed an income of 2,251l. and a living worth in tithes 953l., and who solicited an increase of stipend from the Lepers' Hospital, got an exhibition of 100l. a year for his own son for the eight years, whilst he refused to admit the allowance beyond the original 5l. to the poor scholars, and which by the charter they were to be allowed to enable them to pursue their studies at the school. Just fancy a man with such an income quartering his own son on the establishment with an exhibition of 100l. a year, and yet having the heart to confine the others to 5l. He was now about to ask the House to address the Crown for a Commission to inquire into the administration of the educational trusts confided to the cathedral establishments of the kingdom, and he hoped that no member of Her Majesty's Government would offer any objection to the proposal. He would not beforehand, at all events, do any member of the Government the injustice to suppose that they could be so indifferent to the interests of the country, in so far as they were connected with education, as to throw the slightest impediment in the way of any bonâ fide remedial measure that might be proposed to the House, unless it were open to some very strong objections. He inferred, however, that this Motion would be opposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn). He had no desire to speak disrespectfully of that right hon. Gentleman, nor would he say it offensively, but he must remark that he thought that right hon. Gentleman stood in a false position with respect to this question, for he stood in the position of the hired advocate of the Ecclesiastical Commission, and had always in that character advocated all the abuses that came within the cognisance of that commission. Now, although Henry VIII., when he founded these cathedral bodies in 1542, had passed statutes for their government, he never intended to part with the control over them, for, within four years after their establishment, a Commission was issued to inquire into the manner in which the trusts confided to them had been carried out. He thought that, when such maladministration as he had shown existed, it was quite consistent with the obligations of the Crown to grant such a Commission of inquiry as he sought. He could not be met by the assertion that this was a trifling matter, or one in which the Government were not interested; for he would ask if it could be considered as a matter of trifling importance the scandalous misappropriation he had demonstrated of the munificent endowments created for the education, to a certain extent, of the people of the present and all future ages? In the words of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, "What advantage is there to the community that might not flow out of these establishments, if they had been properly administered?" Let any man reflect upon the advantage which it would be to have a first-rate grammar school in every cathedral town throughout the kingdom. It would be difficult to over-estimate the beneficial results that might he expected from such academical establishments, so managed as to serve as models for similar institutions all over the country. It was impossible to give an impetus to the education of the upper classes without its exercising a great influence upon the lower classes.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That' to the, end of the Question, in order to add the words, 'an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to appoint a Commission to inquire into and report upon the administration of the Educational Trusts confided to the Cathedral Establishments of the Kingdom.'


seconded the Motion.


could assure the hon. Member who had just resumed his seat that he had no doubt whatever of the purity of his motives, and his anxious desire, in bringing forward this Motion, to promote that which he felt to be a great public end; but, on the other hand, he (the Solicitor General) was entitled to ask from the hon. Member a little forbearance and consideration with reference to the motives of others who might not precisely agree with his views upon this subject, and towards whom he had used expressions which were hardly justifiable. The hon. Gentleman had termed the Dean and Chapter of Rochester robbers, and had also said that the Bishop of Rochester had so conducted himself that it was impossible for Mr. Whiston to obtain justice at his hands. The hon. Gentleman had also said that the right hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Goulburn), from whom he seemed to expect some opposition, was not to be credited on a subject of this kind. [Mr. MOWATT: No, no!] The hon Member said, at least, that that right hon. Gentleman had placed himself in a false position in that House, because he was receiving an income as one of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The real question before the House, upon which the hon. Member had moved his Amendment, was whether they should go into a Committee of Supply. Of course, it was quite competent for the hon. Member to bring forward such a Motion upon such an occasion; but it was equally competent for persons who might feel the deepest interest in education (and quite apart from any objections that might be urged to the Motion), to say that, at this period of the Session, they thought it more important that the House should go into a Committee of Supply, than that it should enter into an inquiry of this particular description. He should not, however, rest the question there. There were other objections to the Motion which must be apparent to every one. The hon. Member had rested his Motion so entirely upon the case of the dean and canons of Rochester that, during an address of more than two hours, he had not devoted more than ten minutes to other bodies, while the rest of his speech was occupied with the case of the Rev. Mr. Whiston. Now the work which that gentleman had published was unquestionably a very able one, and contained a great deal of valuable information; but it would have had much more weight had he confined himself to a statement of facts without disfiguring it with the admixture of sharp reprobation of all those with whom he had had any difference. He was not going to enter into the points of dispute between Mr. Whiston and the dean and the canons of Rochester; but he thought that the first objection which presented itself to the Motion was that it really was a Motion founded entirely on a matter now in course of adjudication before a proper tribunal; and if there was one thing more inconvenient than another, it was that, when a gentleman had unfortunately got involved in a course of litigation, and was dissatisfied with the course which it was taking, he should think it desirable that the whole of his case should be brought before that House, and that Motions should be founded on that which was in course of being determined by a competent tribunal. The Rev. Mr. Whiston had in the first instance brought his case before the Court of Chancery, where it was decided that he had taken an improper course, and that he should have applied to the Bishop as visitor; and the same deci- sion was subsequently given by the Court of Queen's Bench. The question at issue, namely, whether Mr. Whiston had been unduly removed, was referred to the visitor, before whom it was now pending, and who had the legal assistance of Mr. Baron Parke, and of Dr. Lushington, the Chancellor of the diocese of Rochester. He (the Solicitor General) thought that the case of Mr. Whiston was therefore safe in the visitors' hands, and that it was undesirable to issue a Commission to inquire nominally into the administration of the educational trusts confided to the ecclesiastical establishments of the kingdom, but clearly and distinctly into this particular case of Mr. Whiston. But the fact was, that our past legislation with reference to the cathedral funds had rendered this Motion most inappropriate altogether, irrespective of the time at which it was brought forward. The proper tribunal to inquire into these trusts, if they were such, was of course the Court of Chancery, which investigated all questions relative to trusts. And if they were not trusts in the strict sense of the word, the visitor was the proper person to apply to to correct any faults in their administration. There was nothing left for a Commission to do in this matter, as Mr. Whiston had rendered inquiry utterly needless by publishing a large portion of the statutes of the different cathedral bodies, and pointing out where the rest might be obtained. So that it was easy for any body so disposed to arrive at all the necessary information with respect to these educational trusts, if trusts they were, which this information would show. He believed that it would have been wise, not as a matter of trust, but of policy, if the Legislature, before passing the Act to which he was about to refer, had taken care, in arranging the distribution of the cathedral property, to make due provision for the education of the people in connection with these collegiate establishments. But by the 3rd and 4th Victoria, c. 113, the Legislature had fixed the income of every dean and prebendary in every cathedral, and had handed over the whole surplus to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, by whom it was to be applied, after all due charges were paid (according to the 67th section), in relief of the spiritual destitution prevailing in various parts of the country. There was another provision in the 49th section, relating to grammar schools—that nothing in that Act contained should be construed to affect the right of any chapter, according to the customs and laws of that chapter existing at the time of the passing of the Act, to make due provision out of the corporate revenues for the maintenance of the fabric, the support of the grammar school, and all other necessary and proper expenditure. The effect of this clause was merely to give the dean and canons the power of spending money on grammar schools according to the statutes and customs prevailing at the time the Act passed. Complaints had been made of the conduct of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, who, instead of applying 200l. a year to the education of forty boys, had appropriated to that purpose from 1,600l. to 1,800l. a year. Mr. Whiston, in the second edition of his pamphlet gave the dean and chapter due credit for this expenditure; but in the third edition, after some letters had appeared on the subject in the Times, he retracted a great portion of his praise, because the dean and chapter had compelled the boys to pay some 1,600l. or 1.800l. a year for other purposes wholly besides those of the original foundation. He (the Solicitor General) would only say that the statutes of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster contemplated a totally different class of scholars from those now receiving the benefits of the foundation. Those statutes referred to boys accustomed to live in the roughest manner, and who were to have no other attendance than that of three servants to the whole number of forty scholars. When increased accommodation was considered necessary for the boys, a large and commodious building was erected, and in order to pay off the charge of that building, and especially the expenses of erecting a sanatorium for sick scholars, it was requisite that a payment should be made by the boys upon the foundation; but the dean and chapter still continued to pay 1,800l. instead of 200l. a year towards the maintenance of the school. It became necessary, therefore, to insert a saving clause in the Act, or they would have taken away from the Westminster boys that 1,800l. a year, which would have been handed over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The deans and canons, whose salaries wore fixed by this statute, could not be affected by the inquiries of the Commission; and, supposing that the Commission should decide that there were grammar schools which were not now kept up according to their ancient statutes, the question would be, if they were not trusts, whether it was more expedient that the surplus arising from the chapter estates should be devoted to the grammar schools, or to the relief of spiritual instruction in populous places. Of course, if they were trusts, they were capable of being enforced; but whatever money was obtained for them must come from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and must be deducted from the funds appropriated to the relief of spiritual instruction.


said, the case of Mr. Whiston was mixed up with a very important subject. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mowatt) had used Mr. Winston's case as an illustration of the general subject, and had brought forward the question with respect to the Dean and Chapter of Rochester as only part of the whole subject. He agreed with the hon. and learned Solicitor General that as the case of Mr. Whiston was now sub judice pendente lite, it ought not to be inquired into by that House. That individual continued to act still as master, and instructed a portion of the scholars who were voluntarily sent to him by their parents. He (Mr. Bernal) deeply regretted that such things should become matters of open scandal, and injurious to old and valuable institutions, doing no good, but exciting feelings of disgust and contempt. There had been a point referred to that night which was not sufficiently understood by the House or by the country at large—he meant the construction put by the hon. and learned Solicitor General on the statute of 3 and 4 Victoria, c. 113. If the doctrine advanced by the hon. and learned Gentleman were right, the fund was completely removed from the control of the ecclesiastical body. He agreed in thinking that the form in which the Motion was put, was not, perhaps, convenient, but the terms on which he had based it were of the greatest importance. These were points to which every Government should give their most earnest attention, and they should not allow those grievances to be bruited abroad for another year. The Church of England wanted support out of doors; it wanted that attention and reform which nothing but the action of the Government could sufficiently effect. He would ask the hon. and learned Solicitor General to explain to him how he conceived that the Dean and Chapter of Rochester could pay the salaries of six almsmen, to whom reference was made the other evening by the hon. Member for Marylebone (Sir B. Hall), if all the surplus funds be- yond the salaries of the dean, archdeacon, and prebendary were expended?


I said, after all due charges were paid; and every such charge must come of course out of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Fund. That is liable to make good the deficiency.


thought, that whether in the shape of a Commission or an inquiry, the Government was imperatively called upon to look into this matter. No ecclesiastical body in the kingdom should withhold its compliance from the duo objects of the original holders; and if they did, it would he necessary for the Government to see that the trusts pointed out by the founders should be conscientiously observed. Whatever they thought or decided in that House, there was a spirit of inquiry and investigation abroad, and if they did not properly direct it, it might lead them into a sea of trouble and anxiety: but if they at once manifested a kindly yielding to, and a genial harmony with, the spirit of the age, they might proceed with safety. If they slumbered on in an uncertain kind of life—at times defending the ecclesiastical bodies, at others carping at them, but doing nothing—they would be behind the spirit of the age, and do their best to destroy the bulwarks of the Church, and that general spirit of religion that was inherent in the bosom of every British subject.


begged to bear his testimony, the result of a long and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Whiston, to that gentleman's ability and excellent character. If in his pamphlet Mr. Whiston had used any phrases which appeared to partake of unnecessary acerbity, hon. Gentlemen should not forget that that pamphlet was published only as a last resource, and after every attempt had been made on his part to bring about what he conscientiously believed to be just by fair and courteous means; and, secondly, that, when summoned before the chapter, he stated in the most positive way that he extremely regretted any violent expressions which he might have used, and that he entirely disavowed any intention of injuring or insulting any member of that body. And he (Mr. Milnes) could not but think that the chapter would have done greater justice to the religion they professed, and the establishment to which they belonged, if they had treated Mr. Whiston in a different spirit, and met his advances in an- other manner. If the ease was as it had been stated by the hon. and learned Solicitor General, then indeed they had nothing whatever to do with the matter, and they would have had merely to refer Mr. Whiston to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and to say that they would be extremely glad to dispose of a larger portion of the cathedral funds in favour of this educational establishment, but they were prevented by law from doing so. The fact was, however, he could not find that the dean and chapter had ever used that argument. On the contrary, so far from that, they had always, in their communication with Mr. Whiston, stated that the question of increasing the advantages of this educational establishment was one to which they were not opposed, and to which they were perfectly willing to direct their attention. They never seemed to think for one moment that the case was out of their hands. There could be no doubt that the legal question had gone against Mr. Whiston—that the question whether these cathedral trustees were trustees in a legal sense or not had been decided against him; and his removal from the office of master was a secondary matter to that. Mr. Whiston had certainly failed legally; but that was no reason why, upon a representation of the case before the House of Commons, some remedy should not be applied to the difficulty. In asking for a commission, his hon. Friend (Mr. Mowatt) had done no more than the circumstances of the case fairly warranted him in doing; and if he went to a division, he (Mr. Milnes) should certainly vote with him. Mr. Whiston's case appeared to him to he one of very peculiar hardship. He, in fact, created the school at Rochester. It had been allowed to fall into decay and disuse. The cathedral body represented that it was beaten out of the field by good proprietary schools in the neighbourhood; but it was their business to see that it did not fall into that position. It was in a generous spirit that Mr. Whiston took up the case, and he had been hardly dealt with by them for it. If the present debate was followed by no other consequences, he trusted that, at any rate, it would reach the ears of that important body the Dean and Chapter of Rochester that it was the opinion of this House that Mr. Whiston's case was deserving of at least very generous consideration; and he did hope they would see that it would be becoming in a great body like them to act above all suspicion of petty motives, personal feelings, personal pique, or personal profit. He trusted that they would see that they could not do greater justice to themselves than by putting the most lenient, even though it might not be a strictly just, interpretation upon the past, and by retaining Mr. Whiston in the situation to which he had done so much honour, really confer honour upon themselves.


considered it was much to be lamented that when hon. Members desired to bring forward Motions involving general propositions for the advantage of the Church and of the country, they should take these as opportunities for attacks upon individuals, named or not named, most unjust in principle, probably most unjust in their application to the individuals, and which those individuals were not present to answer. The offence imputed to the Dean and Chapter of Rochester had been this—that there being certain statutes which provided for various excellent purposes that had fallen into decay, as well as for the maintenance of deans and canons, the deans and canons allowed some of those purposes to fall into decay, while others beneficial to them had been kept up. This practice had been enduring for centuries, and now it was made the subject of imputation against certain individuals who at a given moment are found administering the trust. The law of the country sanctioned usages of that kind; in numerous cases, similar to this, it was held that where certain deeds give certain money charges to a certain amount, and the rest of the property to individual use, the legal right to keep the whole surplus without increasing the fixed payments was one vested in the persons to whom the property is entrusted. How, then, could it be expected that the members of a corporate body should open their eyes to the duty of turning reformers, the law saying they were not bound to do so—the law sanctioning the present administration of the trust. It must be remembered that the question did not affect schools only; there were exhibitions to the Universities and so forth. If the chapters were now to be called upon to appropriate their funds to the revival of decayed but useful branches of the original foundations, according to the statutes and the intentions of the founders, the whole of the funds would be absorbed which were reckoned upon as available for the augmentation of poor livings. There were many other original objects besides schools and scholars; and he was disposed to think, that by a much closer adherence to the intentions of the founder than was provided for in the statute, at least an equal amount of spiritual good might be effected. Nothing could be more proper than to guard against any undue divergence of Church property into particular hands, so that the funds of the Church would be made the means of accumulating large fortunes; but at the same time there should be an abstinence from attacks on individuals because they did not originate reform or restoration. The hon. Member (Mr. Mowatt) might have done considerable service by introducing the subject, if personal matter had not been so largely mixed up with it, and if the general policy had formed the staple of the argument; but the subject was a very large one. He (Mr. Palmer) would say, with regard to it, that he thought the course the Legislature had taken in the direction of Church reform had been too much in the nature of a divergence from the original destination of Church property. The cathedral bodies derived large incomes from tithes of parishes, and it might have been thought an obvious thing to restore the tithes to the parishes that paid them, at least so far as to provide for the spiritual wants of those parishes. But that was a principle not recognised upon the face of the Cathedral Act, though perhaps more acted upon than it had been. [An Hon. MEMBER: It is recognised.] Well, if recognised, it was not made incumbent. It was a very serious question, how far the power of these bodies had been diminished by recent legislation as to schools of this kind; and it seemed unjust to introduce such a subject to the consideration of the House in language which implied that wrong had been done by individuals, and that they had acted unconscientiously, when they had merely abstained from taking upon themselves an extensive system of reform in the shape of a revival or restoration of institutions which had remained in their present state from a period dating from long before these parties came into possession. It was much to be regretted that Mr. Whiston did not bear those views in mind, and consider what was due to individuals from those who desired to reform abuses. He might have done great public good without suffering any injury himself if he had addressed himself to the law affecting the subject, or the expediency and policy of a reform of the system of cathedral schools. It was to be regretted that he should have proceeded in the spirit of attack upon individuals who were, after all, his superiors, to whom he was subordinate, and who, if they had the feelings of men, could not but expect from him some degree of consideration for the position which they occupied.


said, the hon. and learned Member who last addressed the House had talked of the unfairness of making charges in that House against absent individuals. He (Mr. Hume) would ask that hon. and learned Member if he meant that they were to wait until the bishops came into that House to defend themselves? If he did not mean that, what did he mean? He (Mr. Hume) admitted that for centuries abuses had existed in the Church. There was, therefore, the greater reason that those abuses should be reformed. He was one of those who thought that the clergy were always opposed to all Church reform; and though there were many estimable men among them anxious to promote the real interests of the Church, yet, as a body, there was no class of men more disposed to hold fast what they had got. He contended that Mr. Whiston had been most unjustly treated, and in consequence of that treatment the dean and chapter had exposed themselves to public notice. He hoped the noble Lord at the head of the Government would consent to the appointment of a Commission—a Commission composed of laymen, for he wished to see no more Clerical Commissioners—for the purpose of inquiring into the abuses connected with these trusts, and not only of inquiring into them, but of correcting them. That was the way to bring the Church into good character with the country, and he did think the noble Lord at the head of the Government would be disposed to listen to the suggestions which had been made in the course of the discussion. Where, as in this instance, education was the object in view, and where it was manifest that funds had been misapplied, surely the noble Lord, as a friend of the Church, would agree to the inquiry which was sought.


said, he must preface the few words he had to say, by calling the attention of the House to the fact that this was an Amendment in order to prevent the House going into Committee of Supply. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mowatt) who had moved the Amendment objected to the House going into Committee, and said, let them rather consider the question of Education in connection with the cathedrals of this country, and more especially with that of Rochester. He (Lord John Russell) was disinclined to enter into that particular case; but, supposing the Government were disposed to entertain this question, there was a question which had been put by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Roundell Palmer), and which it would behove the House seriously to consider as a separate question, and seriously to deliberate upon it, before they decided on the course which had been suggested by some hon. Members, and especially by the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means (Mr. Bernal). There was an inquiry begun by the Commission appointed during the short Administration of the late Sir Robert Peel in 1834–5. That Commission was continued with some alteration of the Members, and they made several reports. He (Lord John Russell) had the honour to bring in a Bill founded on one of those reports, and he had succeeded in carrying that measure. What those Commissioners specially pointed out as the great evil which it was their bounden duty to inquire into, and which it was the bounden duty of Parliament to attend to, was the spiritual destitution in different parts of the country; in parishes originally having a population perhaps of 15,000, which in the lapse of time had increased to 40,000, 50,000, or 60,000, and even more in some cases; and they gave the population of Middlesex, Yorkshire, and Lancashire, and showed what was the number of churches as contrasted with the population of each parish. They said that was the main evil to be remedied; that, whatever other evils or defects there might be, that was the primary evil, and until that had been remedied, the Legislature ought not to attempt to carry into effect other changes or reforms. All the measures of the Commission were directed to that purpose. The principal object they had in view was to obtain funds for the purpose of remedying the spiritual destitution which existed, by erecting new churches in populous districts, and by appointing clergymen to minister in those churches and districts. For that purpose, and with that view, the number of canons in cathedrals was diminished, certain sinecure rectories were abolished, and various other changes were made. That, at all events, was a clear and definite view. Of course there would be much difference of opinion as to the mode of carrying it into effect, but it was a definite view of what should be done with regard to Church reform. Some hon. Members had other views on that subject; they said, Rather let the House restore those cathedral establishments; do not cut down and reduce them so as to make them unsuitable to their original purpose; but look at that original purpose, and restore to its former vigour that which has been lost sight of by means of defects, abuses, or malversations. But when that proposal came before the House, although it gave rise to much discussion, and several powerful speeches were made in support of it, there was, on a division, few Members who voted in its favour. With regard to one question to which the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. Roundell Palmer) had alluded, there was certainly a general recommendation on the part of the Commissioners with respect to the sources and places from which the funds had been derived; and he (Lord John Russell) remembered that was a question which occasioned a good deal of discussion in the Commission. The late Archbishop of Canterbury and the Earl of Harrowby, both exceedingly competent to give their opinion, and desirous to promote reform in the Church, had occasion to state their views as members of the Ecclesiastical Commission. The result of that discussion was, a resolution that the funds should, as far as possible, be applied to remedy spiritual destitution, but with a view to the benefit of parishes from which the funds were derived. As he had understood the business of the Commission—for, not having acted as a member of it for a long time, he did not speak from present experience—the question they had to determine was whether, and how far, they were to take into consideration the wants of parishes from which tithe would be derived to be applied to the purposes of the fund under the control of the Commissioners. But, with respect to the other object involved in proposals made for the restoration of cathedral establishments, bestowing large sums to support schools attached to them, and applying the funds derived from cathedral property to give more efficiency to the establishment of cathedrals, which should have a large body of canons attending to the wants of cathedral cities, that was neither recommended by the Commission nor adopted by Parliament. When the House came to the discussion of that question, it would be for Parliament to consider whether they were to reverse what had been agreed upon with a full view of the consequences. If they believed the Church revenues might be and were absolutely required for the division of large into small parishes, for the erection of new churches, and for the payment of the stipends of the clergymen, these revenues would continue to be dealt with as they were dealt with at present. If, on the other hand, it were thought better to restore the cathedrals, and recur to the policy which was followed in founding them—if it were thought that they might be reformed, and a plan were laid down for effecting that object, then that plan would have to be pursued. But if the latter course were taken, they must not expect to realise the former. They must renounce that object which Parliament and the Commission had steadily had before them. He did not think it requisite to enter into the question whether or not the Dean and Chapter of Rochester behaved properly in this matter, or whether they were bound by ancient and existing customs. That was a question into which he did not think fit to enter, because it was really not in a state on which the House of Commons could pronounce any opinion: It was now a question which would be heard, and heard not only by the bishop, but by Mr. Baron Parke; and when the opinion of the bishop and of that learned Judge had been pronounced, it would be time enough for the House of Commons to come to a decision upon it.


thought, that considering the change of views and circumstances which had occurred since the cathedrals were founded, he did not see how those establishments could be placed in the same position in the nineteenth century which they occupied before the Reformation. They were founded in times when people desired to have masses said for their souls; but there was no reasonable probability that the people of England would again become Roman Catholic. The tendency, indeed, was rather the other way. He thought it would be of great advantage if a Commission were appointed to consider how schools which had endowments connected with cathedrals could be rendered efficient. If they were so, subscriptions now required would be superseded, and the schools would be found to form a nucleus for an improved system of education. He felt that the hon. Member for Penryn (Mr. Mowatt) had placed the House under an obligation by calling its attention to this subject.


, in reply, said, it had been supposed by the hon. and learned Solicitor General, that he had characterised the deans and chapters as "robbers." He had spoken indeed of the plunder they had committed—an expression which he acknowledged was almost as strong. Respecting the position of the deans and chapters subsequent to the passing of the Act, he wished to know what were the views of the hon. and learned Solicitor General.


said, after the passing of this Act, the position of the deans and chapters, with reference to their property, was this—it became a matter of account. They had to account to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the surplus fund as soon as they came under the operation of the Act, and some of them had not yet come under it. [Mr. MOWATT: Rochester has not.] Looking to the number of years which have elapsed since the Act was passed, and remembering the age at which these persons generally arrived when they were appointed to the offices, they would soon all come under the Act. They would be allowed to charge the sums legally paid for the schools; but, if there was no school existing at the time of the passing of the Act, he should think the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would act very wrongly if they allowed the charges for these schools.


said, he did not intend to divide the House on his Amendment.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.

Main Question put, and agreed to.