Brett Volume 10: Chapter LXXI - St. Leonards 1864
| This is a verbatim transcription of Brett’s work, which comprised both manuscript and typescript cuttings, and therefore reproduces Brett’s variations in style, capitalisation, punctuation and spelling. The only alterations made have been to the pagination and images whereby both page titles and images have been moved to the most appropriate paragraph as opposed to where they were pasted into the texts by the author. Where possible, personal names have been checked against census, parish records, contemporary newspaper reporting and the Central Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths. A number of footnotes have been inserted by the transcriber when this has been thought to be useful.
Generally the transcription follows the guidelines set out by the National Archives. Work is in hand to identify and annotate hand-written sections and other annotations within the transcriptions, the main difference being that hand-written sections are indicated by a Cursive font on screen. If any portions are
Chapter LXX Hastings 1863
Accidents and Fatalities
An Unfortunate Church
Workman alias Rawlings
Mr. Workman inhibited by the Bishop
Letters and Replies re the St Leonards Church
Attempted Murder and Arson – Burglaries
Mose v. Gas Company
Sale of Archery Grounds – Archery Gardens Company – Scripture Readers Society
Balls and Fashionable Parties
The Board of Guardians
Battle and Sedlescombe New road
Churches and Chapels
Dissolution of Marriage
Fires and Fire Brigade
Influx of visitors
East Sussex Fox Hunt
The Health of the Borough
An Industrial Exhibition
Loss of Sheep
Lord's Day Observance Society
The "New Old Roar"
Fancy Fair at the "New Old Roar"
Powder Mill Explosion
Visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales
St. Leonards Commissioners
St.Leonards Total Abstinence Propaganda
Temperance Hall and Working mens Institute
The Permissive Bill
Temperance and Total Abstinence
Editorial Comments, Temperance versus Total Abstinence
Temperance Hall Festival
The Turkish Bath opened
The Sheffield Disaster
Another Great Calamity
A Tarry Subject
The Tarred Hedge
"Guy Fawkes Re-enacted".
[ 157 ]seeing the imminent danger of his friend swam out again, but without success, and returned greatly exhausted. The unfortunate gentleman was the third son of Mr. Theodore Bagster, of Great St. Helens, who, with an elder son, was sitting on a machine at the time and witnessed the painful occurrence. £10 was offered for the recovery of the body.
An Unfortunate Church.
What with the repeated falls of cliff, the crushing in of the building, the several disputes between incumbents, organists and others, together with the generally unfortunate position of the first built place of worship, it is neither irrelevant nor irreverent to bestow upon it the epithet of "An Unfortunate Church". Details of the circumstances to which reference is here made may be found in the earlier volumes of this history. But there was probably, no event in which the worshipers at that church were so painfully interested as in the story now to be told of the pulpit being occupied by an incumbent who, as it turned out, was a returned convict, and who had assumed a name that was not his own. The story is here commence with the reproduction of a leading article in "Bretts St. Leonards Gazette", of May 22th, 1864. An unfortunate church! a truly unfortunate church! Such is the expression which continues to escape the lips of our townspeople in connection with the original edifice devoted to sacred purposes in St. Leonards on sea. And such, indeed, has been the significant qualification as applied to that building almost from the commencement. Well we know that there are unfortunate ships and unfortunate people, but why they should be unfortunate may ever continue to be less within the scope of mortal ken. Someone has somewhere said that our patron saints were not equally good, and some not good at all. If then, it be true - forgetting for the once, the paradox - that there are good saints and bad saints, it may be logically inferred that there fortunate saints and unfortunate saints. Granting, for the sake of argument, that such is the case, it would seem to follow as a reasonable sequence that our unfortunate church must have been dedicated to an unfortunate saint. Assuming then without stopping to enquire who and what St. Leonard really was that the dedication of our church to that saint was an unfortunate mistake, we seem to get, as it were a sufficient due to the lack of good fortune ever attendant on the building under consideration. It appears never to have been the right church in the right place. Local history tells us that the foundation of the church was originally laid on the high ground of the West cliff, and that Mr Burton was induced to abandon the site in consequence of objections to its exposed situation. Then, as it could not be on the hill, it must be under the hill; and so, instead of having its light to shine before men on a hill of Zion,[ 158 ]it was made to flicker merely under a bushel Placed in an out of the way situation, in an unsightly recess, and exposed to the fury of southern gales, intensified by the contracted space in its front, the church has been from its earliest career in an unfortunate predicament. The cliff in its rear would crumble to its base, the long flight of steps to its entrance would prove tedious to invalids, and the contracted strong currents of wind would continue to inconvenience female worshippers. By degrees, however these difficulties, if not entirely surmounted, were considerably modified; yet, other difficulties arose and misfortunes multiplied. It might require a volume to recount the thousand incidents of trouble, annoyance, inconvenience, acrimony, recrimination, sacrilege, alteration and change to which the church and its associations of pastors organists schools &c. have been subjected; and we shall, therefore wisely abstain from entering upon such a task. We may say, however, that there are few, if any, places of worship that in the space of thirty three years have undergone so many and varied vicissitudes as the church of St. Leonards-on-sea.
Its revenue appears never to have been sufficient to meet the requirements; and had it not been for the private wealth of the several clergymen into whose hands the incumbency has successively passed, we do not see how the establishment could well have sustained even its present dignity. But then, the private wealth, so called, while it has been, perhaps, a blessing to our poor, has given its possessor a position sufficiently independent to be, at least in some cases, distasteful to our rich. Hence, it may be that our clergymen from Leslie to Tilson-Marsh, have failed in their ministrations to unite in the bonds of christian fellowship the bulk of the St. Leonards community. And yet -judging from one's own observations during a period of twenty-four years - there appears to have been no lack on energy on either side to accomplish the desired end; and one is therefore forced to the conclusion that either the said energy has been mispent in regretable(sic) antagonisms, or that the persistent statement of an unfortunate church has really some foundation in fact.
Let us go a little farther. Some six months back, as is pretty well known, the then incumbent, Mr. W.N. Tilson-Marsh, after unsuccessful attempts to secure the sympathy and earnest co-operation of the parishioners, and with impaired health to boot, sought in the usual clerical channels for a surrogate. It was not long before a gentleman offered himself for the situation and the required stipulations entered into. The principal point in these stipulations - if our information is correct was that the new incumbent or surrogate was to pay £250 as rent of the church for one year, and if at the end of the year a continuance could be agreed upon, the annual payment was to be increased to £300. But, not to trouble our readers [ 159 ] with details of this clerical arrangement, let it suffice to say that the new clergyman entered upon his duties with a great show of energy, and effected very considerable changes, all of which appeared to meet with the appreciation of a majority of persons interested in the church. It was said that, mutatis mutandi, there were better preaching, better singing, and greater comforts in consequence of these changes Certainly the religious ordinances were better attended, the worshippers were more numerous and regular, and the new pastor became suddenly popular. He even had the honour of preaching before Royalty,, and our townspeople were quite jubilant. But, mirabile dictus! our clerical hero, after some months of petting and other kind attentions, us a "dear, good man! was discovered to be one who had suffered the legal penalty of a grave misdemeanor. The fact and the thought of it were alike horrible to those who had been taking him by the hand, and but little consultation, we presume, was required to arrive at the conviction that a man whose antecedents were thus unfavourable to his morality had better withdraw from the sacred avocations of the pulpit.
We are not among those who, because a man had once transgressed and paid the full penalty of the offence, would brand for ever as a felon; nor would we object to his assuming a new name is avoid recognition, as long is we could be sure that his after conduct was such as to justify a belief in his sincere repentance, and such also as would place him above suspicion. But if, as in the present instance, the conduct - supposing all that is rumoured be true is not of a character to warrant so favourable a construction, then we say the sooner the public is disabused of its misplaced confidence the better. Personally, we have to regret that much of the odium attached to this scandal of the church has been thoughtlessly thrown upon a gentleman whose ireproachable character ought to be a sufficient warranty of his inmocence in the matter. That a clergyman so esteemed and so careful as Mr Tilson-Marsh is known to be should be suspected of a dereliction of duty in handing over of souls to a stranger without taking some steps to enquire into the status of he man is barely conceivable, Yet, so it is, and without waiting for any communication with that gentleman on the subject, we are almost tempted to become his apologist, and to rebut the insinuation of improper conduct on his part.
In conclusion, we shall probably, not be far wrong in describing the present situation to a two great precipancy in taking into our confidence a stranger whose credentials we never asked for, and whose walk in life we never waited to see developed.
Article No.2. (from the Gazette of June 11th.)
"How often slender is the peg on which there hangs a tale. and taking up the poet's strain we may say now often slender is the mind that [ 160 ]cannot bear reproof! The suggestion comes to us forcibly whilst reflecting for a moment on some ill judged criticisms that, a few days since, were given utterance to anent[a] our editorial remarks on a recent local event and which are referred to in common parlance as the "Church Article" That in these days of reading and reflection, the critic should himself be criticised is but a natural inference, and therefore it is that the publicist or the ordinary journalist expects his writings or deductions to be scanned by the scrutinising eye of the public. It is well that it should be so, it is, indeed, a legitimate and healthy state of things, and far be it from us to desire its abrogation. A public writer, notwithstanding that he may be more skilled and more thoughtful in matters pertaining to his profession than a majority of persons for whom he writes, would be more than mortal did he not sometimes err; yet, as a rule, if he possess any mental calibre above mediocre, his perpetual round of thought and a means of observation must necessarily lead him to more correct conclusions than would usually be arrived at by those whose opportunities do not lie in the same direction.
Thus much by way of introduction, and now for the "Head and front of our offending". The charge against the Gazette is that it has raked up things that it had no business with, and if its editor had not been a foolish fellow, he would have seen that his living was at stake by such conduct. Now, if we were disposed to treat the matter facetiously (as our humour might sometimes incline us to do), we should say Good gracious! how alarming! - how dreadful? But as we are just now in a more serious mood, we will simply indulge in a little expansion of our own views on the matter, in justapositon to those of our would be censor. Yet us say then, firstly, that we had neither part nor parcel in the "raking up of things" beyond the mere record of recent doings as associated with certain other events of local importance in the history of one of churches, and, secondly, that in so far as our conduct lies, we have reason to be satisfied with the comments and compliments which it has elicited from those a goodly number- whose minds are sufficiently educated, and, above all, sufficiently free to form a correct estimate of our intentions as well as of our duties. We wrote both temperately an truthfully - not to say charitably- and have not one word to retract.
If a local journal submits to the dogma that it should not comment on local occurrences, but should simply confine itself to the mere record of what commonly called news, it surrenders at once its highest prerogative and sacrifices its power for the public good, which was, or ought to have been the chief incentive to its establishment. Such a condition may be borne - because compulsory - under [ 161 ]the censorship of continental despotism, but can never be tolerated in the land of liberty-loving England. That newspaper criticisms are not always tempered with so much charity and sagacity as might be wished none than ourselves will be more ready to admit, but that a due regard to at least the first of these qualifications has always been shewn in the conduct of this journal is, we think an an acknowledgement due from those who have longest been acquainted with it. It is an acknowledgement, too, which we are proud to say has been on many occasions freely conceded. We need only refer the unprejudiced reader to our remarks on the "Unfortunate Church", the condemnation of which by a select few has prompted us to return to the subject, as proof of the justness of our claim. We never indulge in personalities in the sense in which that term is generally, but somewhat unintelligibly employs and we never resort to vulgar abuse; but amidst all the difficulties which usually, beset a local journal we follow the bent of our inclination with a due regard to the duties require of us, and with a freedom compatible with unfettered thought and an untrammeled position.
It may not be out of place in these remarks to correct an erroneous impression which we find has been made in some quarters as to our "Church Article" having been written by a clergyman; and we do this by the solemn avoival that all comments on local matters emanate solely from the office of our journal; that all our social, local and meteorological (Mr White’s Weather Theories excepted) are written by ourselves; that most of our political and metrical effusions are also derived from the same source, and that no person has access to our editorial column who is not connected with the paper. Thus it may be seen that we accept the bona fides of all that we publish without sign or signature; and for the edification of such persons as are curious in the matter, we complete our information by an assurance of an opposite character - namely that everything which bears a signature, seal or assured, whether it be is in our present issue, a Greek symbol, or any other distinguishing adjunct, it is to be, regarded as a contribution, and not an office production. With this candid statement we hope to have made less difficult task of any busybody who may wish to speculate as to the conduct of the St. Leonards and Hastings Gazette. In bringing these remarks to a close we cannot but express a hope that we have not raked up things that we had no business with whilst we reiterate a determination to disseminate truth to the best of our ability (howsoever distasteful it may be in some quarters), and to study the morality and general interest of a community whose welfare is identical with our own.
We shall therefore, continue our present course, undeterred by the animadversion of opponents, and without being too greatly elated by [ 162 ]the approval of friends. We are sufficiently sensible of our position and influence not to attempt to make more secure the one or more effective the other by any than the independent but unostentious means hitherto employed.
A Lament (contributed to the Gazette
Unlucky flock, unlucky church
just now, as ever, in the lurch
Tossed by an unresisted fate.
From Surrogate to surrogate!
We plot, we labour and contrive
In vain to make the parish thrive
For some good reason or another,
Each new misfortune has a brother
Till the poor fold beneath the rock
With all its unregarded flock.
Is filled with bleatings wild and strange
At shepherds that for ever change.
Meantime the sects and parties all
Thrive by this unseemly brawl
our enemies look up and smile
Or shed the tears of crocodile,
Delusive over our hapless state
That seemed so flourishing of late
The Papists love to point at us
With all our scandal, feuds and fuss,
And show how peace and work are found
united on their special ground.
Though all our workmen cant be named,
A, those who nee not be ashamed,
According to St. Paul, tis strange
No labourer even had the range
of this, our fair St. Leonards field,
But soon or late he had to yield,
And own, that whether rough or tame
Savage or mild, twas all the same!
Those sheep within the sandy nook
are difficult for pastor's crook.
and twill be long eve they can find
The sort of man that suits their mind
letting them think they have their way
(yet bearing undisputed sway.
Tharp and yet easy, - close, yet free,
All things to all men quick to be;
And also harder far to do
Be all things to old women too.
The mediaeval Bethels use,
Souring aloft Cathedral- wise
and flout the paltry gap we spare
Of space from dingy house of prayer.
Carpenter gothic dark and dank.
Cooped up beneath the sandstone bank
Inside and out, a mere disgrace!
It shows its dirty crumbling face,
Fit only for the pick and crown
Blest be the hand that lays it low!
St. Leonards, June 6th, 1864
It should be stated that since the above lines were contributed the church has been in every way greatly improved.
The Church Again
How matters stood at the end of three months after the first article on the church difficulty appeared may be learnt from the following extract from the St. Leonards Gazette, of August 6th.
Next, to reverential thought of the great God we worship should be our veneration of the place in which we worship Him, nor should a conception so deeply tinged with holiness be permitted to dwarf into mere sentiment. For sanctuary should be jealously guarded within and without from [ 163 ]schism and its attendant evils, and a practical test of sincerity should be manifest in our everyday walk as we pray for deliverance from all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred and malice and all uncharitableness? That all should be sunshine and fair weather in this as yet unmillennial age is perhaps, more than we have a right to expect; but, as professing Christians we should at least be free from storms which at our own hands involve the destruction of the sacred fabric appears to be within the scope of human ability to effect. Starting, as it were from these premmises, let us see how best we may avert the commotion which through the agency of certain clerical movements is imminent in this locality. Our readers will at once recognise the threatened rupture as connected with the St. Leonards incumbency which we believe a large majority of the parishioners had devoutly hoped would have been transferred to other hands, but in which hope then have been grievously disappointed by a printed manifesto specially addressed to them. The document in question - freely exhibited and criticised by those into whose possession copies of it have fallen is of interest not only to the parishioners and the town-ship generally, but also to the occasional and permanent community within and around. On this account, and to enable the parties thus interested to judge of the situation we deem it right to furnish some extracts from the manifest alluded to. It bears the signature of J. M. R. Workman, a clergyman who was once known as the Rev. James Murray Richard Rawlins, and who, under that appellation was been recently discharged from the Court of Bankruptcy. This gentlemen in the document referred to appeals to his "dear parishioners" and goes on to say that about two months ago when some circumstances in my past life became known to you, it was my immediate wish and intention to resign the Incumbency of St. Leonards. My means of information were then few, but I heard that this was also your wish. With a view, therefore, of enabling me to resign as soon as possible. I consented to a proposal being made to the patron that he should pay, the money expended on the church and so release me from all liability. This was a mere act of justice, as he alone could have the value of the various improvements. It was, moreover a proposal made by his own friends, and I believe, universally admitted to be the right course for him to adopt. However, the proposal has never been accepted throughout this protracted delay, and now the opportunity is lost; indeed there was an evident wish to take advantage of my trouble by attempting to force a resignation, and so obtain the church improvements for nothing. At least I was threatened with proceedings on account of certain liabilities unless I did resign. I cannot characterize such a threat made under such circunmtances. However, it left me but one course, and pence the protection I have [ 164 ]recently sought."
Mr. Workman does not enter into an explanation of what he calls "the circumstances of my past life. On the contrary, he says I will not attempt to be a judge of my own case, and I shall therefore abstain from any mention of the circumstances to which I refer it might be objected - and, indeed, has been - that as the scripture moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness with an humble, penitent and obedient heart so ought a clergyman, above all others, to make no reserve in the confession of his misdeeds.
But were this a rule to be observe with undeviating consistency, we fear there are many among both clergy and laity, whose numerous instances of departure from a course of rectitude would place them ill at-ease before the exactions of a rigid morality. We would be charitable in this matter, - not perforce not from a craven fear of litigation with which we are threatened, nor of the very serious consequences to which (if it be meant for as) we have exposed ourselves in what we have "said and printed" – but because it is our wont to be so. We would even reiterate our own remarks of the 28th of May last namely, that We are not among those who because a man had once trangressed and paid the full penalty of the offence, would brand him for ever as a felon; nor would we object to his assuming a new name to avoid recognition, so long as we could be sure that his later conduct was such as to justify a belief in his sincere repentance and such also as would place him above suspicion. Nor we have not the slightest objection to call Mr Rawlings by his adopted nane of Workman, nor do we refuse to recognise the two additional initials which still more recently appear as prefixes to the latter name. True, we may have some misgiving as to the alleged justice of Mr Patron being called upon to relieve Mr Surrogate or Mr. Incumbent of heavy pecuniary liabilities contracted in opposition to Mr. Patrow’s wishes; and we may have even stronger doubts of the universally admitted justice of such a course? Yet, we are determined to be charitable, and if the reverend gentleman smite us on one check, we will turn to him the other also. We will however, indulge in a gentle intimation that the smiting process may extrude some tears of pity, but it can never seal the month against the free, respectful utterance of opinion in matters of public importance. The pulpit and the press have each an onerous duty to perform, and if it be allowable - as it undoubtedly is sometimes the practice for the first to censure the shortcomings of the second, it should be equally the privilege of the second to criticise the performances of the first.
In alluding to his bankruptcy. Mr. Workman says. "I may here renwark that the liabilities arose from my connection with a literary paper which failed several years ago, and by which I lost a large sum of money. With these exceptions and the bills due for the church I owed nothing [ 165 ]at all. I am always very careful not to contract private debts. Sympathy with our fellow-tradesmen who have suffered loss in the execution of Church improvements; would make us regret the circumstances, whether it resulted from the contraction of private or any other description of debts; and when we find not in Mr. Workman's statement, but in the columns of a contemporary that the claims of unsecured creditors amounted to £2278 11s 6d, and that the assets in the shape of property held by the assignees and creditors, amounted to only £30, we are almost constrained to regard the difference between the two sums as one of very considerable disparity, and at the same time to believe that the pecuniary suffering in one direction or another must have been in similar proportion. As, however we still desire to be charitable, we will not obtrusively venture any remarks of our own on this point, but simply quote those of Mr Commissioner Goulburn, who, in granting the discharge of the banrkrupt, said The court has sometimes to animadvert upon the conduct of the uneducated and ignorant; but it was much more reprehensible in a gentleman of position and intelligence like the bankrupt to get so largely into debt and without assets to pay anyone!
Turning again to Mr. Workman's letter to his parishioners, we find him saying For the sake of those who consider my resignation a duty, I have done all I could, but in vain. An unconditional resignation would have been not only impossible, but unjust, and even immoral. It would have involved a reckless sacrifice, not merely to myself, but of interests far dearer to me than anything personal, and of the interests also of others to whom I am pledged to protect. I feel the more strongly with regard to this reimbursement, because a very hard bargain was forced upon me. The Patron did not carry out his original arrangement; and after a long delay, by which I was put to great expense, and when I had gone too far to withdraw, it was insisted that I should pay £250 for the first year, and £300 for all subsequent years of my incumbency. I have since ascertained that £250 is the maximum ever paid by any previous incumbent, even or when the burial fees existed and afforded a considerable revenue. Here or then is a large source of income cut off, and yet I have to pay more for my tenure or to resign and sacrifice all that I have spent in order to make the tenure available! Again, he says "I have incurred severe censure in consequence of a letter which I am informed has given rise to much scandal. Allow me to state that that letter was written on Sunday, Feb 7th, the fifth day after my late accident, and when I was suffering so severely with my head that ice applications were necessary from hour to hour. The party addressed had, as I thought at the time, "undergone some annoyance on my account, and I [ 166 ]wished to make what reparation I could. Beyond this I have nothing to say. I regret the letter most deeply, not because harm was meant by it, but because harm has been made of it, and it has been open to misconstruction.
Then, in a concluding paragraph, Mr. Workman states "It is my determination, God helping me, to persevere in the steady discharge of my duty, and all I ask of you is to judge me thereby, and by my daily life among you. On every ground of Christian principle I feel that I may ask so much, and I ask no more."
We have quoted largely from Mr. Workman's letter, and by, so doing we shall have been the means, as we conceive, of helping that gentleman to put his own case before the public, and shall also have assisted the public in forming an estimate of some of the relations recently an presently existing between Mr. Workman and his Patron. Mr. Workman and his work people, and Mr Workman and his flock. It will be seen that - nothing daunted - the reverend gentleman is determined to resume his ministration, but it is not so clearly set out what will be the effect. Our own opinion is that the "tug of war" is yet to come, and that, whatever may have been the dissensions hitherto, there will yet be a wider breach than ever. We have several communications lying before us which, for the present we withhold from publication, but which impel us to the conclusion that Mr. Workman's resumption of pulpit duties in St Leonards is viewed, not only with disfavour, but in a spirit of decided opposition. In one of these the writer says several ladies, with myself, are earnestly wishing that the weight and influence of your journal will be brought to bear against the scandal being enacted in our church. In another, the writer informs as that Mr. Workman or Rawlings is again at Leonards, and in defiance of public opinion, is going to officiate to officiate[sic] next Sunday. A third writer - an invalid lady stating her communication from a distance is afraid she will not be able to take her old lodgings at St. Leonards, as wishing to be near a church and not liking to sit under Mr. Workman's preaching, after all that has taken place, she is likely to spend the season elsewhere.
The whole affair is very regretable, and we do sincerely hope that Mr. Workman - who by this time must be convinced that his presence here has been a mistake from first to last will renounce his intention of continuing his ministrations in a sphere where they cannot fail to be distasteful to his friends and obnoxious to his foes. A house divided against itself cannot stand; and as there is already a talk in influential quarters of school room preaching (and iron churches, the now unpopular gentleman must either withdraw from his present occupancy or incur fresh liabilities which someone must pay or someone must lose. [ 167 ]In the next article quoted as under from the St. Leonards Gazette, it will be seen that Mr. Workman alias Rawlins, has put himself further in the wrong. The said article - the whole of which is here produced, asks, under date of August 13th, "What shall we do with our church and what shall we do with our churches the question by everyone who meets his fellow one in this good town of ours". It is a question of hourly repetition, the sole response to which is a mocking interrogative 'Ah what, indeed?' With unsatisfied persistence the querist then asks, will Mr. Workman resign his incumbency, or will he obdurately invoke the hatred of even would be friends until a storm of indignation overwhelms him which he may have case to with he had averted by a timely and peaceful withdrawab2 Who shall solve this all important problem, or who shall relieve the now scattered flock of a great an serious difficulty? Would that it were in our own power to accomplish a thing so devoutly desired? Would that we could be instrumental as we have already striven to be - in inducing an unpopular clergyman to study his own interest in receding from a position which can never again be either pleasant or profitable to him! Did Mr. Workman imagine that we were not serious when, last week, we intimated that his presence in St. Leonards was a mistake from first to last? Or, did he suppose we were trifling when we pronounced an opinion that the resumption of his ministrations would lead to a wider breach than ever between pastor and congregation? If the reverend gentleman did really harbour the that he would be welcomed back to St. Leonards after all that had happened, the events of Sunday last should have been sufficient to to undeceive him under an impression that Mr. Workman to preach on that day, an extraneous congregation, from motives of curiosity attended the service, whilst the recognized flock scattered in various directions were crowding to inconvenience other places of worship, under feelings of offended morality and a painful sense of duty to withdraw from the ministrations of one whose conduct they could neither approve or condone. And then, as if that was not sufficient to convince the by no means obtuse intellect of Mr. Workman of the unfavorable feeling that prevailed, an unmistakable manifestation was apparent when even the exemptitious congregation refused to do the bidding of Mr. Workman who by the month of his clerical assignee, requested them to keep their seats during the collection of the offertary.
It would appear from the course Mr. Workman is pursuing, that he is hopeful, by, a resolute persistence, of ultimately regaining the sympathy an confidence of the now scattered congregation, or [ 168 ]failing that by dint of energetic action and his reputed astuteness, to become the shepherd of a new flock in the same fold. But in this, we have reason to believe, he will be sorely disappointed. His every movement will be closely watched in order to test the genuineness of his professions, and his past and future career will, we opine be associated in such manner as to militate against the successful discharge of his clerical duties. already his pastoral address has provoked a reply from the Rev. Tilson-Marsh’s solicitor - a reply, which we are not at all - surprised to find is placing Mr. Workman still deeper in troubled water. As we did the latter gentleman the justice to insert the greater portion of his address in our last impression, we are not slow to accord a similar privilege to his respondent in our present issue. The subscription to the said reply is that of Mr. Bridges, a respectable legal practitioner, of Red Lion Square, London who thus commences: "A pastoral, addressed to the parishioners of St Leonards, dated August, 1864, an signed J.M.R. Workman, has been place in my hands as solicitor to Mr. Marsh, the patron of the church, and I feel it only right, in Mr. Marsh’s interest to point out some very serious mis-statements which it contains.
Mr. Bridges then refers to the writer of the letter, and tells us that he shall speak of him by his true name of Rawlins, and not Workman, and after quoting a paragraph of said letter, goes on to say "The first inference to be drawn from the statement is that Mr. Rawlins had been always ready to resign on terms which would have been acceptable to the congregation, approved of by the patrons friends ran just to himself and the particular creditors, but that up to the present time Mr Marsh has refused to adopt any such terms or a suggestion more contrary to the real facts of the case was never made. The actual facts are there:- On the 6th of June Mr. Marsh informed me of the extraordinary disclosures connected with Mr. Rawlins past history which had been made; of his Mr. Marsh's earnest desire in the interests of the congregation and the church generally that what appeared to be a public scandal should at once be removed, and stated that he wishes to settle such liabilities connected with the chapel as had been bona fide incurred provided he could thereby secure the resignation, and that it could be lawfully arranged. The next day I sought an interview with Mr. Hughes, Mr. Rawlin's London solicitor, who had acted for him in the previous arrangements, but owing to his absence I had no interview with him till the day following, when I stated Mr. Marsh'’s readiness to meet the case fairly and to relieve Mr. Rawlins of such liabilities as were properly incurred [ 169 ]He was to write to Mr. Rawlins and get general instructions. The same day (the 8th of June) I caused a communication to be made to Mr Axford, the incumbents churchwarden, to the following effect: that if it could be made clear that the bills in question had been long fide incurred, Mr. Marsh was prepared (if need be) to undertake to settle with the creditors, provided that by so doing he could at once secure the removal of the present incumbent. On the 10th of June I received in reply a letter intimating that Mr. Rawlins had left Hastings before my letter arrived, and that Mr. Axford did not know his address. I wrote two subsequent letters to Mr. Hughes, and on the 17th I received from him the letter which I subjoin as addendum to this statement.
[The letter referred to, which appears in the printed circular, we are compelled to omit, for the want of space. This communication seems to preclude all prospect of arrangement, notwithstanding this - when Mr Rawlins was gazetted a bankrupt, I found out and called upon the solicitor whom he employed to take him through the court, and this eventually led to an interview with a Mr. Gardines (the accountant employed by Mr Rawlins and his friends) on the 6th of July. Mr Gardiner then and there stated that there appeared to be but one course under the circumstances, viz, that Mr. Rawlins should resign but that some consideration should be shewn him by discharging the bills for repairs, though it would not be prudent for Mr. Rawlins to resign until after the final meeting in Basinghall street, which was fixed for the 30th of July. I admitted there was some reason in this, and stated Mr. Marsh’s readiness to assume the liabilities referred to on his furnishing me with particulars, which he promised to do), and provided there was nothing illegal in the transaction. I have since written two letters to Mr. Gardiner for such particulars, but have never received from him any communication whatever. It is difficult to see what more could have been done by Mr. Marsh to meet the case, or how in common honesty can now intimate that on the part of the patron the proposal has never been accepted throughout this protracted delay and that there was an evident wish to force a resignation and obtain the church improvements for nothing. It is but just to Mr. Marsh to add that the alterations, &c, for which the incumbent claims compensation, were objected to and protested against by Mr. Marsh, thro' my intervention while they were being incurred, and were such as the incumbent had no legal right to make. It is therefore a hardship on the patron to be now saddled with the expense of them. The second inference from Mr. Rawlins's statement is that Mr. Marsh threatend him with proceedings unless he would resign" .As a matter of fact Mr Marsh never did anything of the kind, and I challenge some verification of this unworthy insinuation. It is highly probable [ 170 ]that the Diocesan, in his sense of what was due to the church may have intimated a prospect of proceedings, but this is no concern of mine to ascertain or discuss. A third statement contained in Mr. Rawlins' address is that the terms on which he holds are unduly hard. This is, of course, beside the question, but I may observe that he was represented in the transaction by his own solicitor, who gave him, as I know, tho best advice, and Mr Marsh, so long as April last, offered virtually to release him from his agreement, which by the bye was never intended to bind both parties for more than a year. One more point, and that is a practical one Mr. Rawlins says "now the opportunity is lost?" If he means that Mr. Marsh is still unwilling to accept the proposal to which he refers, I trust I have said enough to rebut such a suggestion, but if he means to say "I will not give you the opportunity" the remark, coupled with the facts I have detailed, carries its own condemnation? It has, I believe been suggested that Simony Laws[b] would have made it difficult to carry out the proposal; it would be relieving the incumbent from certain liabilities on condition of his resigning. That objection, if a valid one two months ago, cannot prevail now, as Mr. Rawlins has obtained through the Bankruptcy court a discharge from all such liabilities, and therefore there seems no impediment to Mr. Rawlins doing all that his congregation have a right to expect of him. It may now. I think well be left to the judgment of the parishioners, whether Mr. Marsh has not abundantly done his part towards removing removing the unhappy scandal which has been created; while, on the other hand, with a real reluctance throughout to resign, may, I not almost doubt if the ever meant to do it. Mr. Rawlins has been seeking to establish his position by disparaging, without regard to facts, the conduct of others. It is right that I should say, Mr. Marsh had wished to address to a circular to the parishioners himself, but I have taken upon myself to dissuade him from embarking in a paper controversy with Mr. Rawlins. He will not see my statement before it is printed, as he is not on the spot, and I consider that no time should be lost in contradicting the incumbents circular, it will be seen that the facts are within my own knowledge.
Aug. 8th, 1864 Nath. Bridges
We would not willingly add to Mr. Workman's embarrassment by any apparent autagonism of our own, preferring rather (as we have all along endeavoured to show) to put the most charitable construction upon his motives; but the peace of the town, and, above all, the unity and sacredness of the church, demand that we shoutd reiterate our conviction that he is now unwisely prolonging a contest in which he can achieve neither honour nor success. We have the satisfaction of knowing that a very large majority of our fellow-townspeople and many of the visitors are in perfect accord with us in [ 171 ]wishing Mr. Workman to resign, as the only apparent solution of the difficulty, and as the best thing that can be done for all parties. We have also the opportunity of knowing that in the event of that gentleman's continued refusal to leave the church other means will be resorted to secure a suitable place for the peaceable worship of the parishioners.
The Incumbent Inhibited. Says the St. Leonards Gazette. of August 20th - As intimated in our second edition of last week, the Rev. J.A. Hatchard and the Rev. J.A. G. Colpoys, by request of the Lord Bishop of the diocese, have undertaken the duties at the St. Leonards Church until the difficulties originating with Mr. Workman have been put an end to. How soon that may be depends on Mr. Workman himself. At present his proceedings do not appear calculated to do other than intensify the estrangement from the offended parishioners. He has issue another printed address; also a sort of financial statement, both of which are receive by the public either with a knowledge or a grave suspicion of their incompleteness and incorrectness. He has also taken some legal steps which it is believed will ultimately lead to disclosures which cannot fail to place him in a still more unenviable position. For the present, however, he and his curate (the Rev. Mr. Willis, who never sought the requisite permission of the Bishop) are restrained by a letter of inhibition from taking any part in the sacred functions of the church; and it was under the Bishop & instruction that these two gentlemen were courteously informed on Sunday last that they would not be allowed to officiate. Thus far, we conceive, the churchwardens, Messrs. Peerless and Axford, have nobly performed their duty; and the re-occupation of sittings in the church by the regular worshippers since Mr. Workman’s prohibition has become known may be taken as an earnest that the present churchwardens and officiating clergymen will not lack the support of the public.
Further Remarks. On referring again to the Church difficulty, the Gazette of August 27th, observed - In the remarks which appeared in our last issue touching the condition of the St. Leonards church, we intimated that since Mr. Workman's prohibition had become known, the regular worshippers were reoccuping their seats. This statement was literally true; an it was not until after those remarks were printed that we had an opportunity of knowing that the Rev. Dr. Willis had obtained or would obtain the Bishops license as Mr. Workman’s curate, and that he (Dr. Willis) would conduct the services of the ensuing Sunday on the strength of our remarks we have since been assured that many persons went to the church on Sunday morning who would otherwise have stayed away, This would seem to receive a corroboration from the fact that the evening service was very thinly attended. The absence of
References & Notes
- anent - concerning, about (editor)
- Simony Laws - the prohibition on the sale of ecclesiastical offices and privileges - Editor