HC Deb 04 June 1858 vol 150 cc1522-6

said, he rose to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what special reasons the recent appointment had been made to the Deanery of York? It was not his intention to speak with the slightest disrespect of the rev. gentleman who had been appointed, but on occasions of this kind reasons ought to be assigned or be assignable. In making this inquiry he was not influenced by any other motive than the interest of the Church, and through that of the country. The Church Commissioners in their Report in 1836 said:— The advantages resulting to the interests of religion from the existence of this species of preferment, when conferred on clergymen distinguished for professional merit, and too obvious to require illustration. And in 1852 that— In considering the employments of deans and canons we are of opinion that it is one distinct purpose of cathedral institutions to make provision for the cultivation and encouragement of theological learning. The onus probandi was on the Government. It rested with them to show that the recent appointment was made in conformity with the rule which had been observed in reference to former appointments. He admitted that distinction as a parish priest would render a man eligible for such a Deanery as well as great learning. Could not the Government have selected one amongst the distinguished parish priests of this country, many of whom were passing their lives in poverty?


wished, before the right hon. Gentleman answered the question of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ewart), to say a few words on this matter. He had nothing whatever to do with the appoint- ment. Neither bad he any interest in the appointment, except that interest which, he trusted, was shared by every one in the county of York in seeing the deanery filled by a respectable man, and the beautiful fabric which was the pride and ornament of the county, and which was placed under the Dean's charge, duly cared for. When he saw the hon. Gentleman's notice on the paper, it occurred to him that the hon. Member had been led to imagine that the Deanery of York was an office which had been recommended to be suppressed, or that the hon. Gentleman had some cause for alleging that the individual appointed was an improper person. He knew that the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart) was an individual of an inquiring mind, always anxious to add to the large store of information upon every subject which he possessed; but he would ask the House to remember into what a large field of inquiry they would enter if the Government—he cared not of whom composed—were to be called upon to state the specific grounds upon which every appointment was made. If the question were put to any hon. Gentleman, what were the special grounds on which he was appointed to a seat in that assembly, he would probably state, not because he was the fittest person that could be found in the United Kingdom, but because the constituency thought him the fittest of those who offered themselves for their suffrages. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells (Sir W. Hayter) were called upon to state the special grounds upon which all the numerous appointments were filled up by him during the five years be was in office, the result would at any rate be the production of a document which would excite as great curiosity as any document which had ever been produced. He was in entire ignorance of the reply which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give. He had ventured to form his own opinion upon the appointment; and, as he should take the liberty of stating it, the House would judge whether it was a sound one or not. In the first place, the individual who had been appointed Dean of York was a man of blameless and irreproachable character. He had long been one of the honorary canons of York, and was therefore well acquainted with all the duties of the deanery. In the second place, he was an honest and conscientious man, of sound religious convictions, although he belonged to neither of the extreme parties of the Church, whose fierce contentions he (Lord Hotham) thought were not the best calculated to produce all the advantages which they themselves professed a desire to attain. There was another consideration which ought not to be disregarded in this matter. Many hon. Gentlemen, no doubt, were under the impression that the deanery of York was a piece of valuable preferment, a much richer prize than in reality it was, the fact being that it had pleased Parliament so to reduce its emoluments that no person who had not private means of his own to fall back upon, could live in that deanery in the manner he ought to do. The county and city of York had lately seen with regret the deanery of that cathedral let year after year, and constantly held forth to the public as a desirable residence for any gentleman who wanted hunting quarters in the city. In mentioning this, he (Lord Hotham) did not mean to make it matter of reproach against any one; but having happened in one case, he thought it was desirable that care should be taken it should not occur again. Looking, then, at the three points to which he adverted—that the new Dean of York bore a blameless and irreproachable character, that he was unconnected with any extreme party in the Church; and that he would be able to preserve in a proper manner the dignity and appearance of the deanery, he ventured to say that he had come to the conclusion that in this matter the Queen had not only been faithfully but judiciously advised in the appointment she had made.


said, that he was very glad that the noble Lord had addressed the House on this subject, and he thought his observations, coming from a Member of such weight and of such great local knowledge, must be satisfactory to the House. [Mr. EWART: No.] Well, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) hoped that what he had to say would make it satisfactory. In answer to the hon. Gentleman's inquiry, he was not prepared to state what were the special grounds on which Her Majesty had been advised to make this appointment; but those who advised Her Majesty believed it was an appointment which it would be for the advantage of the country to make, and therefore it was made only on public grounds and in consideration for the public welfare. The noble Lord (Lord Hotham) had alluded to circumstances which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) should have felt some embarrassment in bringing before the House, but on which he now felt bound to touch. There was a great misconception in supposing that the Deanery of York was a piece of rich preferment, for which there were many candidates who would have filled it in a satisfactory manner. The fact was that the income bore no proportion whatever to the expenses in which the gentleman was involved who happened to fill the office. Under our system of Church Reform, with which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was not prepared to find any fault, we had greatly reduced the income of the Dean of York. Originally that dignitary enjoyed, upon the average, the large income of £3,000 or £4,000 a year; it was now reduced to £1,000 a year. He was not questioning the propriety of that arrangement, but he thought it was much to be regretted that the establishment required by the Dean of York for the residence in which he was called upon to live, and the expenditure consequent upon that establishment, had not at all been changed with the reduction of his income; and that expenditure was upon a scale which could only be maintained by a clergyman in possession of an almost episcopal income. The House would therefore see that the range of selection was much limited by that fact. The late Dean, besides his salary, had a considerable piece of preferment; yet he found it impossible to maintain the position which, as Dean of York, fell to his lot. In the present case, whatever the other recommendations of Mr. Duncombe for the office, he certainly had the advantage of possessing ample means; but he begged the House to believe that that was not the primary consideration, though, in the ultimate selection of that gentleman, it was from necessity one of the considerations which must have been in the view of the Minister who recommended the appointment; for it turned out that a sum amounting to many thousand pounds was required to be expended by the new Dean before he could enter upon his residence. Still he could assure the House that these were only secondary, or rather tertiary, considerations. The only object which the Earl of Derby, who recommended Her Majesty to make this appointment, had in view was that an individual should be selected who in himself, on the whole, united all those qualities which could best satisfy the requirements of the position. With the permission of the House he would read a letter which had been addressed to the Earl of Derby by the Archbishop of York, who, he need not remind the House, had no political connection with the Earl of Derby, and with whom the Earl of Derby had not the honour even of being personally acquainted:— 41, Belgrave Square, May 4, 1858. My Lord,—I have reason to know that an application for the vacant Deanery of York has been made to your Lordship on behalf the Hon. and Rev. Augustus Duncombe, one of the non-residentiary canons of the cathedral, and I hope your Lordship will not deem me presumptuous in offering my humble testimony on the subject. Mr. Augustus Duncombe is a most amiable and respectable man, of sound and reasonable opinions, of irreproachable conduct, and an excellent clergyman. His appointment would, I am sure, be very acceptable to the diocese and of advantage to the Church. The high estimation in which he is held, and his family also, in the county of York, may serve to convince your lordship that I do not err in expressing these sentiments, I have the honour to be, my Lord, Your Lordship's most obedient servant, T. EBOR. The Earl of Derby. That was the letter of the Archbishop of York, who felt it his duty, though personally unacquainted with the Earl of Derby, to make this representation generally, on behalf not only of the clergy, but of the county of York; and it was only after due consideration, after encountering very great difficulties in ultimately fixing upon this selection, and animated only by one feeling—namely, that of making an appointment which on the whole would be most advantageous to society, and one which on the whole would most adequately fulfil the various requirements thought necessary—that, sanctioned by the appeal he had read from the Archbishop of York, this appointment was made, and he believed it, was one which would give general satisfaction.