HC Deb 29 November 1888 vol 331 cc513-4
MR. BURT (Morpeth)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he has seen in The Newcastle Daily Leader, of November 19, a copy of the following letter, addressed to George Felton, by the Rev. R. W. Snape, Vicar of Lamesley, Gateshead, in reply to a notice of a burial under the Burial Act of 1880:— Lamesley Vicarage, Gateshead-on-Tyne, "October 30, 1888. George Felton.—As, by 'The Burial Laws Amendment Act, 1880,' the funeral which you propose to hold in Lamesley Churchyard on Thursday, November 1, is required to take place between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., I hereby give you notice that your burial party must be at the entrance gate of the churchyard not later than a quarter before 3. If you come after that time the interment could not be completed by 3. Not upon any consideration whatever will I allow you, or any person belonging to you, to enter my churchyard for the purpose of burial, either at 3 or after 3 o'clock. The sexton has instructions to receive from you the usual fee of eight shillings (8s.) before beginning to make the grave. R. W. SNAPE, Vicar of Lamesley. George Felton, Allerdean; whether the vicar was required by law to give, or was justified in giving, such a notice; and, whether he acted legally in insisting on the payment of a fee before the opening of a grave for the burial of a parishioner?


Yes, Sir; I have seen the letter in question. The law does not require such notice to be given as was sent by the vicar; but I am not aware that such notice is illegal. There is nothing in the Statute as to the manner in which the fee is to be collected. It is a question of Ecclesiastical Law, whether the vicar acted legally in insisting on the payment of the fee before the opening of the grave; and I must decline to give an opinion on that point. It is one over which I have no jurisdiction. The Statute says that he shall be entitled to the same fee as if the burial had taken place with the service of the Church of England.


asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that a Select Committee in 1882 inquired into the subject of burial fees, and reported that clergymen were not entitled by law to exact them beforehand?


I am quite aware that a Report was made to that effect.