HC Deb 06 July 1854 vol 134 cc1241-67

Order for Second Reading read.


having presented a petition from forty-cue incumbents in the City of London, in favour of this Bill, said he should now move that it should be read a second time. As several lion. Members had signified their intention to oppose this Bill, and an hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. R. Phillimore) had given notice of an Amendment, he should not now occupy the time of the House, but would wait until he had heard the objections to the Bill, merely stating at present the grounds on which the Bill rested. Those grounds were, that in the City of London there was an amount of church accommodation much greater than was required by the wants of the population; while in other parts of the metropolis just the opposite was the case. This Bill proposed to make the City of London contribute to the relief of the spiritual destitution of the neighbourhood, by providing that superfluous churches might be pulled down, the sites and materials sold, I and the money realised applied to the building of churches in other districts. These provisions had been sanctioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and by the bishop of the diocese, the Bishop of London; and he had just presented a petition in their favour from forty-one of the City clergy. They were not new provisions, but mainly an extension of a principle which had already been put in practice on many occasions for secular purposes.

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


said, that an unfair and dishonest attempt had been made to prejudice the House against the opposition to this measure, by representing that it proceeded only from a particular party in the Church. He observed that one of the first communications he had received in writing against the measure was from a Dissenter, and that one of its earliest opponents was Mr. Hartwell Horne, a gentleman well known for his piety and learning, but certainly not attached to any extreme views of church government, doctrine, or discipline. He (Mr. Phillimore) admitted that the Bill came down to the house with great recommendations. So far as the character and authority of the promoters of it were concerned, he had no pretensions to compete with his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich, in ability, station, and influence in the House; who again had received the Bill from a right rev. Prelate, to whose untiring zeal, great energy, sincere piety, and munificent charity, he bore a willing and honest testimony. Nevertheless, the Bishop of London was not without infirmities, and, with all reverence be it spoken, this measure bore the impress of them. The end was unquestionably excellent. The means were most objectionable. The evil sought to be redressed and proposed by him was terrible; and it pressed so much upon the Bishop's mind, that he had not examined with sufficient calmness or care the remedy which he proposed to apply. Moreover, if the principle of the Bi11 were a good one, it ought to be extended to all the country, and not to particular towns; but if, on the contrary, it were a bad one, it ought not to be put in practice anywhere. He should contend, first, that there was no evidence before the House that the alleged desertion of the City parishes by the inhabitants dill actually exist; secondly, that, admitting the evil of spiritual destitution in other parts of the diocese, the remedy was fraught with mischief in its principle and in its consequences. At the outset he wished to state what he did not contend for—he did not contend that under no imaginable circumstances could a church he removed. or a consecrated burial-ground be applied to secular purposes. He did not contend against the measure principally or especially upon what might be called æsthetic considerations. Whit he did contend was, that the sanctity of consecrated ground was the rule, and the desecration of it the rare exception, justifiable only by invincible necessity, the burden of proving which lay upon those who promoted this measure. sow, the promoters of this Bill said that the churches in the metropolis were almost without parishioners, but there was no averment of depopulation in the preamble of the Bill; he would admit that in many there might be a very scanty attendance; but what were the causes? It had happened in the City of London, undoubtedly, that a great social change had taken place. The rich had removed their residences to the suburbs, retaining only their counting-houses and places of business in the City, but he denied that it was any reason, because the rich man had left the City, he should take the church of the poor man away with him. He said that the obligations of the rich man followed him, and it was his duty to dedicate, as his forefathers had done, a portion of his wealth for the erection of a new church in the place where he had fined his residence. There was no evidence to show that the poor had migrated with the rich. He had admitted that there might be a scanty attendance in many of the churches, but if in coexistence with that fact it was also found that many of the clergy were not resident in their parishes, that the poor of the parish were not visited, and that there was no proper accommodation provided for them in these churches, they ought not to spring hastily to the conclusion that, because these churches were not properly attended, therefore there were no congregations left for them in the City, and that they ought, therefore, to be removed. He held in his hand a letter from one of the City clergy, the Rev. M. Gibbs, who said:— The doors of my pews have a small handle inside, and are generally opened by the pew-opener with a hey, and to a stranger would give the impression of their being locked. This has given rise to the erroneous remarks on the subject; but these, however, though not quite correct in point of fact, seem to me to have a good deal of truth in them, and our City churches are, as there represented, models of exclusiveness. A 'Pew Amendment Bill' is very much needed for us. Most of the pews in my church are allotted to parishioners, and when they are not present strangers are put in them. But I agree with the opinion that the pews in the City churches are hostile to the attendance of the working classes. The free seats and pews are in striking contrast one to the other. The seats are allotted only to rate-payers; all others, therefore, must feel that they have no scat in our parish church; where seats are not hired, except free seats, and many are above occupying them. He would cite another authority to the House—it was from a little work, with the authors of which he differed materially upon all questions of church government, but the accuracy of the facts stated by them he had no reason to question—they had visited the poor in the places about which they spoke, and they gave evidence to which the House ought to listen, especially in the absence of any contrary testimony. Mr. Phillimore here read:— THE RELIGIOUS STATE OF 'THE CITY WITHIN THE WALLS.' We might suppose, when we hear that in the city of Rome every thirtieth person devotes the entire time to the interests of religion, the state of religion in that city would be more favourable than in any other town in Europe; but such is by no means the case. Where the ministers of religion are Protestants, the expectation is still more natural. But even here this is not precisely the case; and there are many parts of the metropolis in which the state of religion is far higher than in the small parishes of the City within the walls, although their official staff of teachers is very—very far less. We write, however, we would wish to observe, chiefly of the poor; and we write without desiring to cast blame. The frets, indeed do show blame; but our object in stating the filets is not to be accusers of others; it t only to make manifest the great call that there is for the efforts of the Mission in this wealthy domain. It is also to be remembered that in a large number of the parishes there is no resident clergyman, and the people do not know where to find a minister when they want one, most of the City rectors living at some distance away. Practically, the ordained agency which so largely exists in 'the small parishes of the City Within the Walls,' most certainly does not reach the homes of the poor. It admits, of course, of many and honourable exceptions, which deserve to be acknowledged with all praise. But these are the exceptions; and we have arrived at the conclusion that, writing generally, no part of the metropolis is less visited by the ministers of religion than 'the City,' notwithstanding the smallness of the parishes. We are bound to state the fact, but we make no comment upon it. Many persons were found, in our late survey, who had lived a long period of years in a small City parish, and had never seen a minister within their doors. And others, who had before lived in large parishes, expressed surprise that they should be so much more neglected in the small parish than in the large one. The testimony is so general that there can he no doubt of the fact, painful as it is. We give a few extracts, purposely concealing the name of the parish, because our object is not to give offence:—1. 'The only parties who visit regularly from house to house in this ward are ladies, who come round every week with tracts.' 2. 'There is no other religious visitation from house to house in this ward, but by the missionary, although the clergy come in cases of sickness, when they are sent for.' 3. Small as is this ward, there is no Christian visitor in it, so far as I could learn, nor are the poor visited by the parish minister. Many of the poor are without the Word of God.' 4. 'There is nothing like regular visitation in this ward, although so small. In—Lane, there are about fifty visitable families; these are very accessible, every door being open. All took tracts, thanked me for my visit, and said they would be most thankful to have a missionary. Several asked me in, and handed me a chair. I might have stayed with nearly every family here an hour, expounding the Scriptures. I found here adults also who could not read. But I had no sooner left a tract than I heard the daughter read it aloud as I was departing, to her mother. Visitation appeared quite a new thing to the people. Some thought I had come begging, and others that I had come to sell tracts.' 5. 'This ward appears to be most deplorably neglected. The universal testimony of the people was that they were never visited, although the parishes are so very small. In one ease I found a young woman suffering from illness. She requested that I would read and pray with her. It would have rejoiced any subscriber to our society to behold her joy when I told her that a missionary might possibly be appointed to visit in that part. I never experienced so eager a desire for tracts. On giving to one family it was made known to others quickly, and I had them following me to ask for a like favour.' 6. With a large number of the families here there is no regular visitation, except by a few voluntary tract distributors from—Chapel. In—Street, I met with a poor afflicted woman, who had recently lost her sight. She welcomed me, as did her daughter. I had some talk with her on the great salvation. She said, "No one came to visit her, not even a tract distributor called; but when she resided in another part of London she received missionary visits. She HOW needed them more than then, but she was neglected." On asking another woman whether she was visited, she replied, "No, indeed; I have been here a year now, and never had a visit from any one. I consider the poor are quite neglected in the City. It was not so in Lambeth, where I lived before. The spiritual wants of the poor there are much better looked after. In our large parish church, in the summer, there are not inure than thirty people. There is no one to stir up the people to come." I met one day with some ladies who were tract distributors. Finding who I was, they said, "There is great ignorance and formality in the City. We know a woman round the corner who has frequently gone from minding her fruit-stall on the Sabbath to take the Sacrament, saying, 'I must go, or else I shall not get the bread.' You will be sure to find the widows and old ladies going to church at this time of the year, but after Christmas you will find them all at home."' That these extracts are truthful is evident by the destitution of the Scriptures among the poor which prevails, even in these very small parishes, in many of which there are not more than from twenty to fifty poor families, and in some not even so many. Of the 3,999 families, 427 were found to have no Bible! These are all being immediately supplied from the late magnificent gift of the British and Foreign Bible Society. The following is a list of the wards, and their destitution:—Aldgate, there were 123 families without Scripture; Bishopsgate Within, 22; Bread Street, 30; Broad Street, 30; Castle Baynard, 70; Coleman Street, 20; Dowgate, 1; Farringdon Within, 21; Langbourne, 2; Lime Street, 9; Queenhithe, 99:—427. These 427 families are, probably, 1,600 persons out of 54,702 without the Bible in the City Within the Walls. The British and Foreign Bible Society's house stands partly in the ward of Castle Baynard, and partly in the ward of Farringdon Within. It is an illustration of the condition of home, that while the whole world is being supplied with the Word of Life from that depôt, there were 91 families in the wards in which the depôt exists, who were destitute of the treasure. They are all now, however, thanks to that honoured society, being supplied. THE RELIGIOUS STATE OF 'THE CITY WITHOUT THE WALLS.' But it is in the wards of the City Without the Walls that there is the most extensive need of missionary labour. Its parishes and the wards are much larger, and the statistics of irreligion are larger. This so far shows that the large body of the clergy in the City Within the Walls has not been altogether without its advantages. There are 9,181 visitable families in the five large wards without the walls; and the families found without the Scriptures in them were, in—Aldersgate Without, 6; Bishopsgate Without, 224; Cripplegate Without, 369; Farringdon Without, 648; Portsoken, 619:—1,866. These also will be immediately supplied with the Sacred Volume. It will be observed that there are more than one family in every five without a Bible in this part of the City. How fearful a fact, considering the centrical situation of the City, its large amount of wealth, and the great numbers of Christian persons who live within its boundaries, or carry on their trade there. Surely it is highly discreditable to such a portion of the metropolis of a Christian land. In the entire City there are 2,293 families without the Scriptures, or very nearly 10,000 individuals. On the 9th June he (Mr. Phillimore) had moved for returns relating to the number of churches, of resident and non-resident incumbents, residences, accommodation, and free sittings, services, and average attendance, &c., in the City of Loudon. Address for, 'Return, in a tabular form, from the churchwardens of the City of London, of the names of the churches in the City of London of which they are churchwardens; the names and residences of the clergy of the parishes of which they are churchwardens, specifying whether the clergymen reside in their parishes or in the City of London, or elsewhere, and whether there be a residence provided for them, and, if so, whether any portion of it be let, and for what sum; the amount of each clergyman's income, including fees, taking the average of the years 1851, 1852, and 1853, exclusive of allowance for house-rent, and whether any and what allowance be made to him for house-rent; the accommodation in each church, and the number of fire sittings allotted to the poor; the average attendance, including children, taking the year 1853; the average number of communicants in 1853; what Sunday and week-day services there were in each church in January, 1854, and whether performed by incumbent or curate; what fees were received for baptisms, churchings, and marriages, in January, 1854; the number of births and baptisms in each parish in 1853.' He complained that, before this return could be made, the House should be called upon to legislate upon this measure. He had received a letter from an incumbent at Norwich, one of the cities to which this Bill applied, which contained a similar state of facts accounting for the nonattendance of the poor. He said, then, that, before you proceed with the extreme measure of pulling clown these churches, you should try what might be done by a reform of these abuses—you should make your services attractive and frequent—your clergy at once resident and missionary—your seats open, free, and accessible to the poor—you should drive away your purple, pursy, pampered beadle—you should make your church what it ought to he, the poor man's home, a place in which social distinctions, however necessary without those walls, were to be forgotten within them—in which the poor and rich were to be reminded of only one distinction, the distinction of greater obe- dience to the will of their one Divine Master. He said, try this reform first, whereas you were doing the very reverse. The inhabitants remained—the class was changed—you kept up the aristocratic interior, the lofty and poor-repelling pews, and then proposed to pull down the churches because the poor did not frequent them. He said, the poor should be heard, at least before they did this act. And here he must remind this House that it was an essential principle of this Bill that the parishioners were not to be heard, were to have no voice in the decision as to the pulling down of their parish church. It had been distinctly stated in the house of Lords, that if this ancient and just principle were recognised, the promoters of the Bill would abandon it, and this notable reason was alleged, that the parishioners were interested parties, and would be sure to object to the Bill. One word more before he passed from this branch of the subject. He had in his hand a letter written by one who had clone duty for the incumbent of a City parish, in which he said that at one church the afternoon service was on one occasion performed by locking the door and ringing the bell; while at another church, at which his brother preached, the sexton once said, "There are only ten old women waiting for the sacrament; I suppose, Sir, you won't have any." Before passing such a Bill as this, the House ought to take evidence on these points. He passed on to another part of the Bill. By the tenth clause the parishioners, who were to express no opinion as to whether their church should be pulled down, would have power to sell the plate and furniture of the holy communion to any tavern in London. He objected to the Bill, too, because it removed the restrictions on the holding of pluralities, and, also, because it would extend the borders of simoniacal transactions. He commented on the clauses which gave power to transfer the endowments, and asked whether it could be expected that the inhabitants in the City would continue to pay tithes, or minister's money, or church rates, to incumbents in the suburbs? The provision, however, which had justly given the greatest offence to men of all sects and parties, was that which referred to the sale of burial-grounds. The end of the Bill could not be obtained without a wholesale excavation of the remains of the dead. The ground, it was said, was very valuable, and it was to be sold for the sites of taverns, shops, and for other commercial purposes, as a resource for getting money, and not for any great objects of public convenience or public health. as had been the case of the Sewers Acts which had been cited as precedents. He said, though aware that he exposed himself to the charge of morbid sentimentality, that it was a shocking thing that power should be given in the way proposed, to disturb the remains of men's fathers and forefathers; he said, that the feelings which revolted against such an act were implanted for the wisest purposes by the Creator in the hearts of his creatures; that the respect for the dead tended greatly to the civilisation of the living, that to trample on those feelings would barbarise and heathenise men to a greater degree than any pecuniary advantage would be able to compensate for; money was bought at too dear a price by such a violation of the deepest feelings of our common nature—it would redound, not to the advantage, but to the injury of the Church of England—it was not a case of invincible necessity, touching public convenience or public health. but to obtain money, however excellent the destination of it when obtained, wits the end of all this unhallowed, unconstitutional, and unecclesiastical machinery. O cities, cities, quæreda pecunia primum! That was the satire of a Pagan philosopher. It was. he must say, though admitting the good use to be made of the money when obtained, nevertheless a bad pastoral from a bishop to his people; against such a sentiment he, for one, must ever continue to protest. It was an unworthy principle, an ignoble sentiment, and he hoped the House would stamp it with its strongest reprobation. An anonymous writer, in adverting to this subject, observed that it was a common answer, when attention was called to the slight hold which the Church had upon the people, to say that it was owing to the insufficiency of the staff of the clergy; that if there were five clergymen where at present there was only one, the state of things would be greatly different. Now, in the City of London there was what was said to be wanted throughout the country—namely, an efficient staff of clergymen—but they were looked upon as useless, and were allowed to spend their time in idleness away from their parishes, and it was therefore concluded that the churches themselves were as useless as the incumbents. He hoped before the House conceded these extraordinary and unusual powers it would consider what powers were at present possessed. By the existing laws of the land a parish church could be removed from any one part of the parish to another without a new Act of Parliament being required, but a law was now asked for to remove a parish church out of the parish altogether, and to place it in another part of the diocese. But why should the removal be confined to the diocese, and not be extended to the whole of England, or even to New Zealand or Canada, or Edinburgh? The Bill destroyed the principle that the parish church should belong to the parish, and, if once adopted, it was impossible to say where it would end. He could not believe that the wealthier population and the rich merchants of London would refuse to provide for the spiritual wants of the suburban districts; and they were indebted for the churches in the City to that feeling of the Greshams and great City merchants, that warned them they could not expect to enjoy their affluence unless they consecrated a portion of it to the service of God and the good of their poorer fellow citizens. But be this as it might, he said that it was not a justifiable proceeding to seek, as this measure did, to relieve those whose duty it was to provide spiritual accommodation for destitute districts, by destroying the churches of other parishes which the piety and munificence of their own wealthy inhabitants in bygone times had built for the benefit of the poor. But if they adopted the principle of this Bill, where were they to stop? They said that they wanted to raise money to relieve the wants of suburban parishes—that they must have Rem—quocunque modo rem. Well, if this doctrine was thus to be laid down—if law, and feeling, and usage, were to be trampled upon to establish it, he must say, though he held the episcopal order in the highest respect—though he was not a person to join in any clamour against the possessions which the law had given them, yet he must say that the suburban palaces of bishops would form as righteous a fund for relieving the spiritual destitution of suburban districts as the sale of metropolitan churches and churchyards. He said that this project would dry up the fountains of private charity which had flowed so largely of late years, and to which the Bishop of London himself had nobly contributed; these waters had flowed ever since the Parliamentary grant, which in the present religious state of the country he hoped would not be renewed, had ceased. He referred to the example of Mr. Hubbard, the Governor of the Bank. He had been abused in the newspapers for presiding over that meeting in the City, from which he (Mr. Phillimore) had presented a petition, this day. It was said that he lived in the suburbs, and had nothing to do with the church accommodation of the City; but he was now building and endowing a church in the suburban district in which he lived, imitating in his conduct the noble example of the ancient City merchants, who almost invariably hallowed their wealth by dedicating a portion of it to the House of God. Mr. Hubbard, indeed, made one condition; it was that all the seats in his church should be free. He was doing this good work anonymously; he was one of those who Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame. He (Mr. Phillimore) hoped Mr. Hubbard would forgive him for having discovered and disclosed his benefaction. Mr. Phillimore then commented, with some severity, upon the non-resident London clergy, whom he thought, from a pamphlet which he had seen, appeared to think that, through the agency of this Bill, they might obtain livings of increased value in a fashionable circle as a compensation for the unfashionable incumbencies which they had deserted in the City. He (Mr. Phillimore) would say nothing on the sanitary part of the question—whether it was or was not desirable that the remaining open spaces in the City of London should be built upon. He would say nothing of the machinery by which the Bill was to be carried into effect, but he had certainly no great love for the Church Building Commissioners; and he wished to point out that, notwithstanding their life was to be very brief, they were the principal parties to whom the working of the machinery of the Bill was to be intrusted. He said it would have been a very different thing if a Bill had been produced—after evidence had been taken—after a case of invincible necessity had been made out—after the parishioners had been consulted, in which a particular church had been mentioned in the schedule, in which due regard had been had for the holy communion plate and the burial-ground. He would leave to other hon. Members the task of defending the churches of those cities mentioned in the schedule; but he must call the attention of the House to the legitimate consequences of the precedent which would be established if this measure passed into a law. The most ancient churches in the country might be pulled down whenever it could be shown that a pecuniary advantage would result therefrom, which might relieve the spiritual necessities of other places. He did not see the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton in his place, but the churches of Rumsey, of Malmesbury, of Tewkesbury, would be victims to the principle of the Bill. Nay, there was no reason why the Cathedral of St. Paul's itself should not be pulled down and sold—the site would be extremely valuable—for what it would fetch; and as to any consideration that the bones of Nelson and Wellington were deposited there, that would, no doubt, be denounced by the newspapers as a piece of foolish sentimentalism. This was the extent to which the measure went, and it would be at once seen how dangerous it was to attempt to attain an end without considering the principle involved in its attainment. He hoped he had advanced no extravagant opinions in the observations which he had addressed to the house, and he had carefully abstained from any undue sentimentalism with respect to historical associations or other questions of that nature. He opposed the Bill because he believed it to be one to relieve the rich at the expense of the poor, because it wantonly violated some of the best feelings of our common nature, because it dealt an unnecessary blow at the parochial system; and, above all, because it severed the laity from their proper share in the management of the concerns of their various parishes, and by so doing it dealt a heavier blow at the Church Establishment than could be compensated for by any emolument which could be derived from the ingenious device of turning the burial-grounds of the metropolis into sites for shops. It was, therefore, with confidence that he called upon hon. Members, belonging to whatever political or ecclesiastical party they might, to join with him in rejecting a measure which was at once harsh, cruel, offensive, arbitrary, and unconstitutional in principle. He begged to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.


said, he would beg to second the Amendment because he objected to the Bill on general and public grounds. If it passed, it would be a dead letter. It related to the churches in no less than eight different cities, leaving the bishop the power to give an order to the Church Commissioners to deal with these churches, to sell them, and apply the money for the purposes mentioned in the Bill. Now the power of these Commissioners, limited to two years, might by the Act be concluded to-morrow. How was it possible the Commissioners could therefore exercise this power? Besides, the Bill would scarcely get into action ere their powers would expire. The powers of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners—which were not only extensive, but most injurious—had been condemned from all parts of the country, and he had been requested to use his influence to get those powers rescinded, and to call fur returns to show the inconvenience, expense, and delay, resulting from their exercise, and especially to show the hindrances which they threw in the way of building new churches. What was required was a consolidation of all the Acts relating to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, which, affecting though they did the interest of the Church, no one could understand. He thought the time had come when the influence of those Commissioners should cease for ever, and he altogether objected to further influence being placed in their hands. Although differing strongly from the Established Church in her doctrine and discipline, he was desirous to remove from her all weight and incumbrances impeding her free action, and retarding her in running a successful race with the Dissenting bodies in the great work of evangelisation. He would also oppose this Bill, because he wished to preserve the noble monuments of Sir Christopher Wren's genius from the grasp and cupidity of the prelates of the Established Church.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day three months."


said, he must readily acknowledge the great ability with which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Tavistock had opposed the Bill. In doing so he had touched upon some of the deepest feelings of our nature, and had introduced opinions which they all held in common in reference to a matter upon which he was sure they were all equally anxious to arrive at a right and proper conclusion. In bring- ing forward this measure, he (Sir J. Pakington) felt he had undertaken no slight responsibility, but he thought he should be able to show that the hon. and learned Gentleman, however unintentionally, had in many respects misrepresented the contents of the Bill, and that he had led the House away from those points upon which they had really to decide, by dwelling upon matters which, however necessary for consideration in Committee, ought to have no influence, and had no proper connection with that decision upon the principle of the Bill which they were now called upon to give. They were about to consider a most important proposition—namely, how they could best provide for that fearful amount of spiritual destitution which was to be found in the metropolitan districts around them. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman when he said they ought to approach a subject of this magnitude in a calm and dispassionate spirit; but he was sorry to see the hon. and learned Gentleman, after having given expression to that opinion, led away by his zeal against the Bill to indulge in an attack upon the clergy of London, which he (Sir J. Pakington) thought was misplaced and most unjust. The hon. and learned Gentleman attacked the clergy of the City of London for being absentees, and for living, as he called it, in the suburbs, and out of the reach of their parishioners. In some degree, though not altogether, nor indeed to any great extent, this was true, because the clergy had no houses in the City to live in, and the object of the Bill was to attend, not only to the spiritual destitution of the metropolitan districts, but to provide parsonage houses in the City, so that a clergyman might live near his cure. Another portion of the hon. and learned Gentleman's attack upon the clergy was still more offensive, and he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman would regret having used the words he did. The House would remember that he (Sir J. Pakington) had that day presented a petition from forty-one incumbents of the City, praying for this Bill, on account of the spiritual benefits it would confer. The hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to this important fact, and then he proceeded to state that the petitioners prayed for the Bill in order that they might be enabled to put money into their pockets. This was a most harsh, ungenerous, and cruel thing to say, because it was impossible that the clergy could put money into their pockets. Their existing rights only were preserved to them; and though, perhaps, at some distant period some one or two clergymen might find their income increased by the union of parishes, yet, as a general rule, the assertion was utterly groundless. And, while deploring the injustice of the hon. and learned Gentleman's assertions, he had been no less surprised at the rashness of the opinion he had expressed that there was no evidence of a superfluity of church accommodation in the City, or, at all events, that the facts to prove a superfluity were not given. Now, it was notorious that in the City of London there was a great superfluity of church accommodation, while in the adjacent districts there was a want of it, and the object of the Bill was to remove the superfluity, and provide for the want. In the time of Charles II., before the great fire of London, there were no less than ninety-two churches in the limited district with which the Bill proposed to deal. Eighty-six of those churches were either destroyed or greatly injured by the fire, and at the rebuilding of the city the rebuilding of the churches became necessary. By the Act known "the Fire Act" of Charles II. it was enacted that, in place of the eighty-six churches destroyed, thirty-nine should be erected, but, owing to some cause or other, it was found difficult to confine the number to thirty-nine, and fifty-one were, therefore, rebuilt. The result of the fire of London was this, that in no less than thirty-four instances the amalgamation of parishes sought to be effected by this Bill was carried into operation. The hon. and learned Gentleman had doubted that there had been any falling-off in the population of the City, and said he should like to know what the number of baptisms were in 1853. He (Sir J. Pakington) would take six parishes, and would show the actual diminution of the population since the fire of London. In the parish of St. Michael, Wood Street, in 1693, there were fifty baptisms and thirty-four burials; in 1853 there were six baptisms and two burials; in the parish of St. Catherine Crec, the baptisms in 1693 were sixty-one and the burials sixty-six; in 1853 there were thirteen baptisms and nine burials; in the parish of St. Mary Woolnoth, in 1693, the baptisms were thirty-two and the burials thirty-six; in 1853 the baptisms were four and there were no burials; in St. Vedast, in 1693, there were thirty- eight baptisms and sixty-three burials; in 1853 there were four baptisms and one burial; in St. Michael, Cornhill, in 1693, nineteen baptisms and twenty-five burials; in 1853, eight baptisms and two burials; in Allhallows Great and Less, in 1693, fifty-one baptisms and sixty-seven burials; in 1853, seventeen baptisms and no burial. The aggregate grave, for the six parishes, a diminution in baptisms from 251 to fifty-two, and in burials from 291 to fourteen. With regard to the number of houses, the diminution diving the last twenty-five years, from 1829 to 1853, in nine parishes, was as follows:—In 1829 there were 645 houses, in 1853 only 481; twenty-two had been removed entirely, and 142 had been converted into warehouses. It was also conclusively proved by figures that the numbers who attended divine worship in the City churches amounted to a mere nothing. Indeed, the average attendance in the churches proposed to be removed was only thirty-three. The population in many of the parishes which the Bill would affect, as compared with the population of the adjacent districts, was ridiculous. He found, on looking through a return, that in the parish of St. Michael, Wood Street, the present population was 596; in St. Ann and St. Agnes, 696; St. Matthew, Friday Street, 397; St. James Garlick Hill, 520; and in St. Stephen's, Walbrook, 467. With these facts staring them in the face, it was absurd to talk of pews and of the poor being shut out for want of accommodation. He thought he had sufficiently proved that the present church accommodation provided in the City of London was superfluous, and he would now turn to the question whether or not there was a deficiency of accommodation in other parts of the metropolis. From an advertisement published by the London Diocesan Church Building Society it appeared that the provision for public worship of all denominations of Christians throughout England and Wales was 57 per cent, but in the metropolitan parts of Middlesex and Surrey it was under 30 per cent. The provision in churches throughout England and Wales was 29 per cent, but in the metropolitan parts of Middlesex it was 17.5, and in those of Surrey 17 per cent. In fact the whole number of persons for whom spiritual provision of any kind was made by the Church of England or by Christians of other denominations was—in Shoreditch, 19,614 out of 109,257; in Whitechapel, 19,903 out of 79,759; in Marylebone, 39,565 out of 157,696; and in St. Pancras, 51,275 out of 166,956. He thought the figures he had now laid before the House were sufficient to establish his position that the church accommodation in the City was superfluous, and that in the immediate neighbourhoods there was a great want of it. It was urged that in those places where church accommodation was required it must be furnished by the exertions of the parishioners. In many parishes the cause of the poor had not been pleaded in vain. In the parish of Bethnal Green alone, during the last twelve years, more than 106,000l. had been collected for the purpose of providing additional church accommodation. The population of this parish was increasing most rapidly, and called loudly for every provision that could be made for meeting the spiritual destitution of the poor. In 1840 the number of baptisms in the parish of Bethnal Green in two churches was 768, and the number of marriages 270; in 1850 there were twelve churches, and the number of baptisms was 2,030, and the marriages 1,028. From the Report of the Subdivision of Parishes Commissioners it appeared that in the parish of St. George's in the East there were 38,000 inhabitants and five churches; in Whitechapel, 109,000 inhabitants and eight churches; in Limehouse, 22,000 inhabitants and one church; in West Hackney, 18,000 inhabitants and one church; in St. Paul's, Deptford, 24,000 inhabitants and one church. In Marylebone five churches were required, in St. Pancras seven, and in Stepney four. This showed how necessary it was to afford every available means of meeting the spiritual destitution that existed. He now came to the question whether the means proposed by the Bill were legitimate, or whether they were open to the objection which his hon. and learned Friend had urged against them. He was glad that the hon. and learned Gentleman did not dwell upon the opinion entertained by some people, that when once a building was consecrated to divine worship nothing could justify the devotion of that building to any other purpose. Such had not been the opinion of the country; if it had been, he should certainly have hesitated in being the first to infringe it. The churches of St. Benet Fink and of St. Bartholomew were taken down at the rebuilding of the Royal Ex-change, and both sites were used for City improvements. The Sun Fire Office now stood upon the site of St. Bartholomew. St. Michael's, Crooked Lane, was taken down when the new London Bridge was built, and the site thrown into improvements. St. Bannet's, Gracechurch Street, was about to be removed to make way for City improvements; St. Christopher-le-Stocks was given to the Bank of England, and now formed part of it; St. Katharine-by-the-Tower was sold under the powers of an Act 6 Geo. IV., and the site and burial-ground were used in the construction of docks; the burial-grounds of St. Martin Ongars and St. Botolph's, Billingsgate, were taken possession of and used for the London Bridge improvements; St. Ewen, in Newgate Market, and St. Nicholas, in the Shambles, were taken down, and the parishes formed into Christ Church, Newgate Street; and in the Act for building the new Post Office power was given to use the site of the burial-ground of St. Leonard's. The Post Office now stood upon it, and there was a record kept in the parish showing that the corpses were solemnly removed, and that the remains without coffins were placed in new coffins. In the City of London Sewers Act a provision was made which empowered the Commissioners to take burial-grounds for the purpose of effecting public improvements, and the hospital of the University of London was built upon the site of a disused burial-ground. In these cases the burial-grounds were taken for the improvement of the health of the people, and would it be contended that their spiritual welfare was not as important an object? It was said that churches would be pulled down and graveyards appropriated without the consent of the parishioners, but, if hon. Members would refer to the Bill, they would find that provision was made for due publicity to be given of the intention to unite parishes, and that the parishioners would have full liberty to express their opinion. It appeared to him, from the observations made by the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock, that the appropriation of burial-grounds for a dock, bank, bridge, or post office, or for the formation of common sewers, was to be allowed; but it was to be refused when the purpose for which it was required was to provide for the spiritual instruction of the poor. He trusted he had convinced the House that there was a pressing necessity for the adoption of some such measure as that which he proposed, and he hoped that they would not feel disposed to reject the Bill.


said, that the statistics which had been read by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) were contained in a pamphlet, by the Rev. Charles Hume, a non-resident clergyman, in support of a proposition which would have the effect of raising his income from 300l. to 600l. a year. He (Mr. Moffatt) denied that the clergy of the City of London were in favour of the Bill, and that was shown by the result of a meeting of that body at Sion College. He knew that the inhabitants of the City objected to this Bill because it was so indefinite, and vested the freehold of every site and burial-ground in the Commissioners to deal with as they thought fit, without the intervention of the parishioners; and no one was to be responsible for the vast sum which this Bill would place in the hands of the Church Building Commissioners, a sum of about 500,000l. or more. The working Commissioners, although they were a numerous body, resolved themselves practically into the Earl of Harrowby, and Mr. George Jelf, the secretary, and he thought such a responsibility ought not to be practically delivered to those gentlemen. If this Bill passed, it would have the effect of stopping the large donations given for building churches in the suburbs. The citizens of London had no intention of opposing a fair inquiry into the matter, and there would not be any objection to some modification of the proposed plan, or to the removal of some of the churches which were certainly useless.


said, he was opposed to the measure, but he put his objection to the Bill on higher grounds than had been urged by the hon. Member for Ashburton (Mr. Moffatt); for he believed that it was calculated to subvert the whole parochial system of the country. If churches were unnecessary in one place it and required for another, bring in a Bill specifying those churches which were to be removed and those which were to be built. But the principle of this Bill, if carried to its full extent, would, as he had previously stated, entirely subvert the parochial system. Every parish was entitled to its church, and so long as a few persons went to the church, you had no right to deprive them of it, without their consent. The principle was as applicable to any part of the country as to the metropolis; and he was not prepared to sanction a principle which was confined to one part of the country. The particular churches to be removed ought to be specified, as they were in the cases to which his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) had referred, but as it stood there was nothing to prevent any churches in Lincolnshire being taken down and erected in Lancashire.


said, that in the observations which he should make to the House he should avoid going into those matters of detail which had been advanced against the Bill, and which were rather questions to be discussed in Committee. He thought the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) had been perfectly successful in establishing the fact that in the City at the present moment, from a change of circumstances and from the course of trade, a state of things existed which was unparalleled in any other part of the country—namely, that there was an immense aggregate of churches to which there were not congregations, and even parishes in which there were scarcely any parishioners. He concurred with the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore) in condemning sinecure and non-resident clergymen, and he thought the right hon. Member for Droitwich had brought forward a means whereby non-resident and sinecure clergymen in the City of London might he got rid of. In the place of a church without a congregation and a non-resident clergyman, the right hon. Gentleman proposed to extend the blessings of the Gospel to those who were in the grossest ignorance, and to supply churches in which there should be congregations and where the clergy should be resident. The non-residence of the clergy was the natural result of a want of population. He believed the population of the City had rapidly decreased of late years, and, indeed. the right hon. Member for Droitwich had shown by statistics that year by year houses were being polled down and converted into warehouses, containing not Christians and souls, but bales of cotton, sarsaparilla, and God knows what. There was no pretence that there would ever be a population in the City which would require the church accommodation at present provided, while outside the City walls there were parishes containing 18,000 and 20,000 inhabitants, and but a single church. To show the condi- tion of the suburbs, he would only refer to what had already been done in the parish of Bethnal Green. A clergyman in that parish stated that when he first went there the great difficulty was to collect a congregation—there were plenty of parishioners but no congregation—and even when a congregation was collected a great difficulty was experienced in inducing them to behave in church with ordinary decency and decorum. They had never been to church before, and they therefore did not know what they were to do when they got there. During the service the whole place was filled with a buzz of conversation; in addition the congregation employed themselves in cracking nuts, and every day after the service was concluded, orange-peel and nut-shells were swept out by basketsful. After a few years this want of respect and decorum disappeared in proportion as the people became better instructed. The hon. and learned Gentleman had applied to this plan, as a term of reproach, the word "utilitarian." Certainly he (Mr. Herbert) never before heard that word so misused as when it was applied to the spreading of the Gospel to the benighted population of our suburbs. His right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Christopher) complained that the Bill did not specify all the churches which were proposed to be pulled down, and that it was not sufficiently extensive.


I did not say that; but what I said was, that if the principle was good for one place it was good for another.


Lincoln and several other places were included in the schedule to the Bill, and whether they ought to remain there or not was a fair question to be discussed in Committee, when the House would be enabled to have the opinion of many authorities to guide them upon the matter. In the City of London, however, the case was different, and every one must feel that that was a case in which the principle of the Bill could be adopted with eminent success. The hon. and learned Member for Tavistock asked why the revenues should be taken from the City churches for rectories and vicarages in the suburbs of the metropolis, and why the principle should not rather be acted upon of dealing with the greater magnates of the church and going to the episcopal and capitular property. That was what was being done every day. The incomes of the Bishops had already been reduced, and would in some cases be still further reduced, so that there was no ground for taunting the promoters of the Bill in this respect. With regard to the churches themselves, one argument which had been adduced against their removal was their great architectural beauty. He confessed that in his mind the fact that a church was built by Sir Christopher Wren did not carry with it any great conviction that it was to be maintained by reason of its architectural beauty. He believed that Sir Christopher Wren had never built a theatre, but whatever talent he possessed for theatrical architecture he appeared to have bestowed upon his churches. He (Mr. S. Herbert) had himself visited one or two of the churches which the Bill would affect at the time service was being performed, and he found there were only the clergyman, the beadle, and ten or twelve, or thirteen persons, and for those ten or twelve persons you were to maintain empty churches and non-resident clergymen, while in the suburbs there were masses of people in a state of spiritual destitution. The hon. Gentleman behind him (Mr. Moffatt) said that if the sum of money proposed to be raised by means of the Bill was obtained, it would dry up the sources of church-building in the suburbs derived from the theological tendencies of different individuals. He (Mr. Herbert) did not think you would get 500,000l. from any one's theological tendencies; but it did not follow that the obtaining of this sum would have the effect stated by the hon. Gentleman, for it had been seen that in cases where sums had been granted for building churches, it had had the effect of drawing out larger contributions from individuals than would have been got in any other way; and, therefore, it was probable that the plan of this Bill would tend to increase private benevolence. He should lament to see this project at once crushed. There might or might not be too many powers given to some of the bodies constituted by the Bill, but that was a question of detail for the Committee; and what he desired to see was the affirmation of the principle, believing, as he did, that they would incur a heavy responsibility by refusing to adopt it. He most strongly urged the necessity of providing for the spiritual wants of the growing population of the country, and the increase of the country, and the increase of the working clergy, and as regarded the question of dealing with consecrated buildings he would beg to point out that the people were not for the churches, but the churches for the people, and he would ask whether, if any of these churches were burnt down, would it be built up in the same place? He gave his hearty support to the Bill.


said, it appeared to him that the promoters of the Bill had entirely passed by the real principle involved, and had only dwelt upon collateral subjects. He did not deny that spiritual destitution existed in the suburbs, and the necessity of using every exertion to meet it. But he would remind the House that they had not examined into this question—that no Commission or Committee had inquired into it; and yet they were called upon to authorise the removal of a number of churches in the City without hearing one word of evidence upon the question. That seemed to him to be a perfectly unexampled system of legislation, and, for his own part, he could not consent to place so much power in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He thought it would be highly improper to place the rights of individuals who had not been heard in their defence in the hands of a Commission which at the end of two years would cease to exist. Such a course was one which the House had never pursued hitherto, and which they were not accustomed to pursue, even in the diversion of a road or the cutting of a canal. He should certainly oppose the second reading of the Bill.


said, he must deny the assertion of the hon. Member for Ashburton (Mr. Moffatt) that the citizens of London were opposed to the principle of the Bill. He had lived amongst them for thirty years, and knew that, although they objected to some of its details, they did not, as a body, object to its principle. On the contrary, they viewed that principle with cordial favour, and were well aware that there was in the City a superfluity of church accommodation, which ought to be devoted to the purpose of supplying the deficiency which unhappily prevailed to so distressing an extent in the suburban districts. This was a sentiment which they would echo almost as one man.


said, he believed that in every one of the cases alluded to by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) the churches which were removed were removed under the authority of private Bills, in respect to which all persons who had objections to urge were fairly heard. Now, it was quite the reverse with the present Bill. No one was more disposed than himself to agree with the opinion which had been expressed, that a large amount of spiritual destitution existed in certain parts of the metropolis; but, when the question of a superfluity of church accommodation in the City was touched upon, the utmost case made out was, that there were certain parishes in which there were only 500 or 600 inhabitants. If the principle were adopted of removing the parish church from all parishes with a population of 500 or 600 inhabitants, how would it act in other parts of the kingdom, where there were many parishes of three and four miles in extent which only possessed a population averaging from 100 to 200 and 300 persons? If the argument were good for anything at all, it would be as applicable to the provincial districts as to the metro polis. Another ground of his opposition to the Bill was, that there was nothing contained in it which told hint what churches it was proposed to deal with, and what was intended to be done with the money which would be raised. The right hon. Baronet also said that the consent of the parishioners would be necessary. The Bill only provided that the consent of the parishioners was necessary for the union of parishes, but certainly not for the pulling down of their churches. He objected to the Bill laying down a general principle. If they wanted to remove particular churches, they ought to introduce a private Bill for the purpose, in which case all persons who had an interest in the matter could be heard and the question fairly considered. If they could prove in such case that the removal of the churches was necessary, and that the parishioners were in favour of such a course, then there could be no objection to such a measure. He should vote against the second reading.


said, he entirely differed from the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Thomson Hankey), as to the opinions of the citizens of London. He had been in communication with the authorities of the different localities on the subject, and he believed that the citizens generally were adverse to the principle of the Bill.


said, that, from his knowledge of the citizens of London, he could confirm the statement of his hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Masterman). He should himself vote against the second reading of the Bill.


said. that it was hardly necessary, after the statement made by two of the Members for the City of London, for him to say anything in opposition to this Bill, and he merely rose to state what he believed to be the opinions of a great portion of the citizens of London who were resident in Islington; they were decidedly opposed to this Bill. They considered it a disgrace to those who brought it on. It would be considered a scandal to the Parliament that passed it. About, ten days or a fortnight ago. a Return was moved for by an hon. Gentleman who sat on the opposite side of the House, asking for a list of the churches intended to be pulled down under the operation of this Bill. No such return bad been made. No authentic return on which the House could act would be made, but the supporters of this Bill ought, at all events, to give them some idea of the churches they intended to pull down. Under this Bill he had very little doubt that the Bishop of London would have the power to pull down St. Paul's, and the Archbishop of York to pull down York Minster. There was no great congregation; he believed they might count out the congregation at either of them any day. He believed that, with regard to many of these churches. it depended a great deal on the person who was in the pulpit as to whether a congregation would assemble, very much as it did on the individual who addressed that House as to the number of Members who would stay to hear him. He was not sure even if the right hon. Member who introduced this Bill were to get up and preach that even he would draw a congregation. He should like to see the experiment tried. But at all events he was satisfied if they would allow the citizens to elect their own pastors, and not have those that were imposed upon them by the Bishop of London, they would have good congregations in these at present deserted churches. As the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had properly stated, the churches that had been taken down in other instances had been taken down under local Acts. If they were not to have local Acts in reference to these churches, at all events let them have a schedule. Give them an idea of the churches on which the Bishop of London had fixed his eye; let them know who were the patrons, and who were the present incumbents. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) asked if it was intended to be argued that the health of the people is of more consequence than their spiritual condition? He did not say it was, but he said they ought to have some regard for their feelings. Though he might be accused of what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War called sentimentalism on this subject. he. nevertheless. should oppose this Bill. both now and hereafter, and he should oppose it on the same principle that he opposed a Bill in the early part of the Session. called the Stoke Newington Church Bill. The House most properly threw that Bill out without even a division on it. The parishioners were against the pulling down of their church, taking away the tombs, and desecrating the churchyard. Notwithstanding that decision the Bishop of London and certain parties brought in a Bill to remove the Church; that Bill, however, was thrown out on the second reading. The feeling, and he said it to their credit, of the greatest portion of the citizens of London was against the desecration of the dead. What had happened lately? What was called the New Bunhill Fields Burial-ground was closed, and it must be remembered that this burial-ground was unconsecrated. There appeared to have been a mortgage on it, and the mortgagee wanted to foreclose, and said the property should be used for building purposes. What was the consequence? The poor people who had buried their relatives there were much excited, and there was something like a riot for two or three mights. He put a question to the Secretary for the Home Department on the subject. and his answer was, that steps had been taken to prevent the removal of the bodies, that the police had been instructed to prevent any further disturbance, and that he had taken the opinion of the law officers of die Crown whether this burial-ground could be sold at all. There seemed to be, then, some doubt about it, but he believed the opinion was that it could not be sold; and these parties had not been able to sell the ground, but were precluded from doing so. Well, then, why was the Bishop of London to do that which the Dissenters ware not allowed to do? Under this Bill the Bishop of London was to pull the churches down and sell the sites, and then this desecration would take place. It was the strong feeling on the part of the people of this country, their love for the memory of their relatives, that caused this great opposition to this Bill. The Bill had been smuggled through the House of Lords. There was no published debate upon it. It had been two years before the House of Lords, but they were afraid to proceed with it. It did not apply only to the metropolis. There were seven other towns that would be affected by it. When this Bill got into Committee, if it ever did get there, and he hoped it would not, the right hon. Baronet would find such disclosure made with regard to the intentions of these parties that he would be obliged to give it up.


I will ask the promoters of this Bill one question—if this is the way to treat consecrated ground, what is the use of the farre of consecration? And when they have answered that, I will ask another question—what is the use of a Bishop except to consecrate?

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

The House divided:—Ayes 59; Noes 143: Majority 84.

Words added; Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.

Bill put off for three months.

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