The Bishop of Chichester
presented a petition from the churchwardens and inhabitants of the parish of Lindfield, Sussex, which petition had remained in his possession for a year and a half. Thinking, however, that some steps would have been taken to remedy 313 this grievance, he had declined to present it. The case he considered to be one of such great hardship, that he could no longer refrain from pressing it upon their Lordships' attention. The petitioners complained, that the entire business of providing for their parish church, and for all that was connected with their spiritual wants, depended upon the will of a lay rector, who was totally exempt from episcopal jnrisdiction. This lay impropriator had not, for two or three years past, made any provision for the discharge of ministerial duties in the parish; and the sick, if visited at all, were visited by clergy from the adjoining parishes. The entire sum expended during that period for spiritual purposes by the individual to whom he referred was only 30l., although he was in the receipt of nearly 600l. a year from tithes. There were several noble Lords present connected with Sussex, who could bear testimony to the accuracy of this statement. He would suggest, that a clause should be introduced into the Benefices and Pluralities Bill to provide for the relief of these petitioners.
§ The Duke of Richmond
felt it to be his duty, as a magistrate and land-owner in the county of Sussex, to corroborate the statement of the right rev. Prelate. This was a parish in the eastern division of Sussex, containing a population of 1,600 souls; and, in consequence of its having a lay rector, the people were not only deprived, frequently, of the advantage of having any church service, but they had not even the benefit of the attendance of clergy upon them during sickness, unless when some neighbouring clergyman attended from motives of charity. The petitioners, he would observe, were highly respectable. He trusted, that the most rev. Prelate, who had the charge of the Benefices and Pluralities Bill, would put in a strong clause upon this subject.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
said, that there could be no doubt of the great hardship and crying scandal of the case which had been stated by the right rev. Prelate. There could be as little doubt, that the conduct of the impropriator was very much to be condemned. He was quite disposed to favour the very reasonable views which the petitioners entertained.
§ Petition to lie on the table.