HL Deb 15 June 1857 vol 145 cc1742-3

presented a petition from the Burial Board of St. Thomas the Apostle, Exeter, praying for an alteration of the law respecting the closing of old and consecrating new burial-grounds. The noble Earl proceeded at some length, but in an inaudible tone of voice, to state that the Burial Board complained that the Bishop of Exeter had refused to consecrate a cemetery which had been opened by the parish as a substitute for the old ground, because, as he (the Bishop of Exeter) alleged, there was no sufficient division between that portion of the cemetery which was intended for the interment of Dissenters and that intended for the burial of members of the Established Church, whereas the Board contended that they had made a separation by means of a wall, and had done all that was required.


said, he had hoped that in the case referred to the Bishop of Exeter had taken counsel as to the exact meaning of the terms of the canon relating to burial-grounds. No doubt the right rev. Prelate had acted conscientiously; but nevertheless it would be found that the terms of the canon applied to the churchyards of parishes, the only places of burial which existed at the time the canon was framed; but as the law now stood, a certain portion of every burying-ground that was established was required to be set apart and distinguished from that portion which was not consecrated, and, as he understood, that course had been taken in the present instance, and the law had, therefore, been complied with.


said, he would abstain from giving any opinion on the present case, but he implored the House to take some means to amend the law, so as to prevent the occurrence of those distressing scenes that now so frequently took place in connection with the burial of the dead.


thought, with the noble and learned Lord (Lord Wensleydale), that there must in this case have been a misconception of the terms of the canon, and he trusted that means would be taken to prevent the deplorable scenes that now took place, and to put matters on a fair and equitable and consistent basis. That these disputes should cease was for the interest not only of the Church but of the community at large. It was a remark of the celebrated circumnavigator, Captain Cook, that whatever tended to shed a halo of sanctity round the graves of the dead was calculated to preserve the living.


said, that having brought this matter under their Lordships' attention last year, he felt it to be his duty to say a few words on the subject now. From the case then stated it was shown that the action of the Bishop had practically excommunicated the inhabitants of Tiverton. Such an aggressive policy would bring discredit rather than benefit on the Church, and was likely to tend to a severance of Church and State.


said, that no case of this kind had occurred in his diocese; but he would remind their Lordships that the Committee which sat upon the subject had recommended a separation between the consecrated and unconsecrated ground; and the Bishop in this respect had only acted in accordance with that recommendation.



Petition to lie on the table.