HC Deb 31 May 1883 vol 279 cc1311-2

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he has seen a statement in the "Cornish Telegraph" of May 24th, to the effect that, on May 19th, in the churchyard of Gwinear, Cornwall, the sexton, acting, as stated by him, under the authority of the vicar, endeavoured to prevent the Rev. J. W. Harbord, Wesleyan minister, conducting a funeral service at the burial of an unbaptised child, and proceeded to lower the coffin and to fill up the grave while the service was being read; and, whether he will make inquiry into the facts of the case; and, if they are found to be as stated, will cause legal proceedings to be instituted against the sexton for obstructing a burial under the Burial Act of 1880?


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the facts referred to in the following paragraph in the "Staffordshire Advertiser":— On May 3rd Mr. Joseph Kinsey, of Stafford, manufacturer, applied at the Cemetery for burial space for a deceased child, and wished to have the grave made by the side of that of his brother, who died some years ago, and was buried in the consecrated portion. Mr. Kinsey is a Wesleyan, and he stated to the registrar that the service at the grave would be conducted by the Wesleyan minister. To this the registrar objected, and declined to allow a Nonconformist service to take place on consecrated ground. In consequence of the registrar's refusal to sell him the site he preferred, Mr. Kinsey proceeded to select one in another portion of the Cemetery. At this moment two gentlemen, friends of Mr. Kinsey, challenged the registrar's ruling, and ultimately appealed to the town clerk, who, after consideration, modified the objection to the extent of allowing the funeral, but confirmed it as to selling the grave; and, whether the proceedings on the part of the burial authorities are not contrary to the provisions of the Burials Act; and, if so, whether the Home Office has any means of enforcing obedience to the law in favour of Nonconformists?


Sir, in reply to the first of these Questions, I have to state that I have received a letter from the vicar disavowing any responsibility for the sexton's action. The conduct of the sexton seems to have been very foolish and improper; but as this was the first funeral in the parish under the recent Act, I do not think we need take any further notice of the matter. To the second Question I have to reply that there seems to have been some misunderstanding between the parties referred to. I have a letter about the matter in which I find that no objection whatever was taken to the burial. A service had been conducted that very day in the cemetery by a Wesleyan minister, and there had been other services of that kind previously. The burial authorities at first doubted their power to sell the land; but that doubt was removed, and the land, instead of being refused, was actually sold, and a receipt was given.