§ MR. HALLEY STEWART (Lincolnshire, Spalding)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the following facts:—That on the 1st June last the Rev. W. G. Jolly, the minister of the Methodist Free Church, Spalding, attended at the Spalding Cemetery to conduct the funeral of Mr. J. Rose, at the request of the deceased's friends, in ground allocated by the Town Improvement Commissioners for the use of members of the Established Church, which ground is unconsecrated:That, notwithstanding the presence of the Rev. W. G. Jolly, who was in attendance to officiate, the service was conducted according to the rites of the Church of England by the Vicar of the Parish (the chaplain of the cemetery), or by his appointee, and the fees received by him;whether there is any such right attaching to the Vicar of the parish in ground unconsecrated; and whether Nonconformist ministers, when so requested by the representatives of the deceased, have the right to officiate at funerals in the unconsecrated ground of the cemetery, and to receive the fees, although no notice of burial may have been given to the Vicar of the parish (the chaplain of the cemetery)?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
I have made inquiry into the facts of this case; and, as far as I can learn, the whole circumstance seems to have been due to a misunderstanding between the cemetery porter and the friends of the deceased. The porter assumed that, as the mother of the deceased had been buried in the adjoining piece of consecrated ground, it was the wish of the relatives that the son also should be be buried near her, and in the same manner. He accordingly gave the usual notice to the clergyman, not being aware that the minister of the Methodist Free Church wished to conduct the service. Under the circumstances, the Vicar did not intentionally exceed his rights; but I presume that, had he known the real facts of the case, other arrangements would have been made for the burial of the deceased. The question as to the person entitled to the fees, and as to the right of Nonconformist ministers, depends on the Regulations of the Spalding Commissioners, in whom this cemetery is vested by law, and is not for the Secretary of State. I must refer the hon. Gentleman to the Spalding Improvement Act, 1852, and to the Cemeteries Clauses Act, 1847.