Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Sudden Death in a Questionable Setting

All Saints, Eyke, Suffolk*
The 12th century church of All Saints, Eyke, is slightly set back from the A1152. The church may once have had a tower but has none today, giving it what Simon Knott described as a “somewhat barnlike” appearance. Still, he believes it to be one of the more interesting churches in Suffolk*. 

The early Victorian rector, W.A, Norton chose to reside at Alderton and left the souls of Eyke to a curate. In 1842, the Rev John Pyemont had been in Eyke for three years. He lodged with Philip Braham, a local wheelwright. On a Saturday in January, he told his landlord that he would riding into Ipswich to dine “with a few gentlemen.” Pyemont was 36 and single. He was well known in Ipswich having spent some years as under master of the Grammar School. Pyemont said he would be home late and would Mrs. Braham be kind enough to light an early fire as he needed to finish his planned sermon for the Sabbath. The curate trotted away in the direction of Woodbridge and Ipswich beyond another ten miles. Alas, he never returned to Eyke. He died in Ipswich that night suddenly and under questionable circumstances.

The inquest was held on Monday morning and the late Mr. Pyemont’s movements on that Saturday were recreated. It had been a journey of over two hours from Eyke and he’d left his weary mount at the Horse & Groom on Upper Brook Street. He walked to the Silent Street home of Charles Pretyman, a solicitor. He’d arrived at five, Pretyman recalled. Four gentleman sat down to dinner. “We were all very temperate,” the evening’s good host insisted. After the meal, one or two rubbers of whist were played with nothing stronger than tea to be served. According to Pretyman, the curate left about ten, “perfectly sober and in good spirits.” He presumed the curate intended to retrieve his horse and return to Eyke. He was aghast to hear the news. 

Sophia Dallenger, a single woman, lived in Globe Lane, St. Margaret’s parish in Ipswich. She told the inquest that she had known the deceased for about five years. When he arrived at her door about eleven, she knew immediately that he had been drinking and was “the worse for it.” He said “You and I will have some wine together.” She let him in but told him there’d be no more wine that evening. She placed him in a small room and instructed one of the “servants” to light the fire. “Three minutes after I left, I heard a scream. I found him lying on the floor. I rolled him over and his face was blackened. I said, ‘Do not be frightened.’ I loosened his cloth and collar and put water to his temples. I sent for the doctor.” Miss Dallenger, whose name had appeared in previous police reports, steadfastly denied that any gentlemen used her premises for an immoral purpose. 

Miss Elizabeth O’Brien, who resided with Miss Dallenger, insisted she did nothing for the gentleman but light the fire in the room to make him more comfortable on the winter night. She was alone with him for no more than a few minutes when he suddenly “gave a loud groan, fell down and died.” 

The clergyman was “quite dead” by the time Dr. G. G. Sampson arrived. There were no signs of any violence, according to the doctor. As Miss Dallenger had sworn, Mr. Pyemont was still in his cloth and collar when found, that is, dressed. If she was to be believed. Sampson said he had no hesitation in concluding that the cause of death was apoplexy. The jury was so instructed and issued their verdict accordingly. 

In Eyke, meanwhile, Mr. Braham couldn’t account for the tragedy. He said his lodger’s conduct had always been “such as it should be.” He boxed up the clergyman’s effects for sale. 

In the early 1840’s, before the arrival of the more “public” prints, there was much less interest in raking up muck over clerical scandals. The case of the Rev. Pyemont was widely reported but his “awful death” went without censorious comment. 

If censorious comment is what you seek, please consider Clerical Errors, A Victorian Series, Volume 2, on sale now exclusively through and
Photo: Adrian Cable,

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Sermon-Monger Trade

A Lithographed Sermon
In Shaw's great play, Mrs. Warren's Profession, the Rev. Samuel Gardner has been visiting with his son Frank, an "entirely good-for-nothing young fellow." Also present in the scene is Frank's chum, Praed. Rev. Gardner eventually excused himself saying, "I must take the opportunity to write my sermon." The reverend having left the room, Praed said to Frank, "Curious thing it must be writing a sermon every week." Frank, who knew his father well, laughed and confided: "Ever so curious, if he did it. He buys 'em."

The trade in sermons in the Victorian church was a lucrative one. Purchasers were promised exclusivity in their county. There were sermons for all occasions: drought, great anniversaries, or local tragedies. The sermons were even lithographed in faux penmanship so that anyone close enough to see the manuscript from their pew would think for all the world that it had been handwritten by their beloved pastor. Once in the clutches of the "sermon-monger," the clergyman paid and paid, lest the matter be brought to law and his secret exposed. According to The Oxford Handbook of the British Sermon, the "cool impudence of the vendors [was] exceeded only by the transparent folly of the clerical customers." 

All Saints, Cople, Beds.
In 1861, the Rev. Henry East Havergal, Vicar of All Saints, Cople, Bedfordshire was taken to court for twenty sermons, at the cost of two shillings, sixpence apiece. The sermons had been written by the Rev Henry Rogers, a retired clergyman with offices at 7 Little Tower Street, London. Interestingly, no such clergyman appeared on the Church list but "Rev. Rogers" was well known in the trade. Rev. Havergal had been in Cople since 1847. A singer and musician, he had actually built the church organ. He sang. He rang the bells. But, he found himself "totally unable to write three sermons a week." Behind in his payments to "Rev." Rogers, Havergal decided to face him down “for the sake of warning his brethren and exposing a wolf in sheep's clothing.” 

"Rogers" did not actually appear in the Sheriff's Court in London but was represented by his literary agent. Mr. Marchmont insisted that it was a purely business transaction; the sermons were provided as requested and payment was due. These were simple "stock sermons," well suited to the needs of a country vicar and the charges were very reasonable; a sermon for a Bishop - and Marchmont knew of one - would cost as much as £5! The "extraordinary disclosures" produced as much laughter as anything else and in the end, poor, brave Rev. Havergal was ordered to pay the full amount due plus the court costs. His parishioners found no fault with his cribbed sermons; he remained there until his death in 1875.

The revelations of such sermon manufactories were troubling, to some. A writer in The Saturday Review called it a matter of trust between shepherd and flock, joking, "We have hitherto slept in dreamy but entire confidence in the integrity and authenticity of our spiritual adviser."

Another "sermon-mongering" clergyman, the Rev. Richard Marsh Watson, was involved in a much more outrageous scandal in 1877. His story is told in Clerical Errors, A Victorian Series, Vol 2, now available exclusively thru and

Thursday, February 8, 2018

"Unpleasant Rumours" in Cornwall

Constantine is a "picturesquely situated and usually quiet Cornish village." The church of St. Constantine enjoys a commanding position with excellent views. The Rev Francis Robert Hole had arrived in 1875 and, for a decade, his "exertions" were credited for the restoration of the church tower and the enlargement of the surrounding churchyard. The vicar and his wife were justly proud of the vicarage garden offering "shady walks, quiet nooks for study, talking, and whispering lovers." The garden wound through a secluded ravine, amid rocks, ferns and a small pond. On Sunday morning, 24 January 1886, the Rev. Mr. Hole made a determined effort to drown himself in that pond.

For the previous three weeks, there had been "unpleasant rumours" in Constantine linking the vicar with a local schoolgirl as young as twelve years of age. The Rev. Mr. Hole insisted the charges of misconduct were false and requested the Bishop of Truro to hold a formal inquiry, which was pending. But that Sunday morning, when the vicar personally rang the bell at eight for the Communion service, no one came to church. The obvious rebuff left the vicar "greatly agitated," said his wife. But she had not seen him leave the vicarage later that morning. Near noon, a manservant, checking on the livestock, heard splashing from the pond. The weather was quite cold and the pond was partially iced over. A human hand could be seen above the water. The servant was able to drag a gasping and weak Rev. Hole from the pond and then ran for help. The rescuer was horrified on his return to see the vicar once again in the pond. Again, the clergyman was pulled from the water and, this time, carried home where Dr. Haswell had arrived from Helston. “I did it in consequence of the rumors about me,” the vicar told him.

The Rev. Hole would recover. A report that he had also swallowed vermin poison was contradicted. The terrible drama of that Sunday morning was "the chief and almost the sole topic of conversation" across Cornwall. It was a crime to attempt suicide and the vicar of Constantine, still appearing pale and unwell, appeared before the Falmouth magistrates on 5 February. Rev. Hole made no statement and the magistrates dismissed the charge. The Cornish papers denounced the "sensational statements" carried elsewhere and reported that "expressions of sympathy are to be heard from all sides" for Hole and his family in "their hour of trouble." By 18 February, the Cornish Telegraph reported that "the rumours which caused the vicar of Constantine to attempt suicide are false."

The parishioners began to return to St. Constantine. A fund was started to help defray the vicar's medical and legal expenses. But in March, the Rev. Mr. Hole resigned. He sold up all his furniture. A devoted bee-keeper, he also auctioned "his fine stock of hives." A curate was assigned to Constantine but soon the unoccupied vicarage was the "very picture of desolation."

A new vicar arrived in 1887. By that time, the Rev and Mrs. Hole had found their new home in distant Manitoba, a prairie province in western Canada. He served there for many years as a "pioneer priest."

The rate of suicide among the Victorian clergy was a
great cause for concern. The story of the Rev. Joseph Weedow of Yorkshire is told in the first volume of Clerical Errors, A Victorian Series. NB: Volume 1 is available for Kindle readers only. Volumes 1 and 2 are sold exclusively through and

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Scandal in the Strand

St. Clement Danes
In 1885, the Rev John Lindsay, rector of St. Clement Danes, stood in the “first rank among London preachers.” Born and schooled in Edinburgh, Lindsay was ordained after his studies at St. Bee's Theological College, not to be mistaken for Oxford or Cambridge. But he had quickly won a provincial reputation for his "powerful preaching and impressive personality." He was just 27 when he first arrived at the old Wren church in the Strand. "Immense congregations" were soon drawn to hear the handsome Scot preach. He also spoke from the pulpits in the Chapel Royal and St. Paul's. In the civil world, he presided over the Strand Improvement Association (S.I.A.) The new Law Courts were under construction and Lindsay led the effort to co-ordinate the renewal of Dr. Johnson's famous but now somewhat forlorn haunts.

Suddenly, however, in March 1885, Lindsay was a central figure in a questionable "bill changing case" in the Lord Mayor's Court. The rector was sued by Albert Bernstein, the proprietor of the Rutland Club, a haughty title for a rather dodgy establishment off the Tottenham Court Road. He had come to the law for restitution in the matter of a £50 bill of exchange in the Rev. Dr. Lindsay's name and bearing the cleric's signature but which the rev-gentleman's bank would not honour. Bernstein claimed to have acquired the note from a young man named James Harris. Bernstein bought up the note from the desperate lad, Harris walking away with £20 cash and £20 in cigars.

The rector of St. Clement's insisted the note was a forgery and that Bernstein had threatened him with going public regarding the relationship between a young man of no certain employment and the incumbent of one of the best known churches in the realm. 

The featured witness in "the extraordinary action" was James Harris, who looked not much older than twenty. He had been employed in various jobs, meeting the Rev. Lindsay in 1883 while then working as a runner for lawyers in chambers. The rector had been very kind to him, letting him do some secretarial work at the church and the S.I.A. Harris admitted he had pawned one of the rector's watches and done little acts of forgery. Caught once, he swore never to do it again. But this bill in question, Harris insisted, was legitimate. The witness also copped to writing a letter to the rector that unless he honored the bill, he would publicly reveal things "between you and I." The full letter was read in court but was unfit for newspaper accounts. The umbrella term of "improper familiarities" would have to serve. Harris told the court that he was thoroughly ashamed of his conduct.

The Rev. John Lindsay DD
In the witness box, Rev Lindsay stated that he was a married man with young children. He admitted having taken a "fancy" to Harris upon their acquaintance and - as he did with many of the youth he encountered in his parish - he tried to assist in getting the young man on to the right path. His wife knew of Harris and warned him to be very cautious. After a first incident of forgery, he made Harris swear on the altar at St Clement's that he would never do it again. Harris was Jewish (but considering confirmation.) 

The Lindsay family home was in Gordon Square but, frequently, his work kept him at the church and he often stayed in his room at the rectory in Norfolk Street. The rector admitted that, on one occasion, he and Harris shared a bed. It was very late, other rooms were locked, the servants were all gone or asleep and there was nothing for it. Absolutely no impropriety had taken that place on that occasion or at any time during his friendship with this young person, Lindsay asserted. He rejected any suggestion that Harris had been given that sizeable bill to go away and say no more.

Lindsay's QC denounced the "base ingratitude" of Harris who betrayed an offer of sincere friendship and assistance and now made unspeakable accusations in an effort to cover up his crass crime of forgery. The jury agreed, informing the judge that they would require no instructions on the case; they were unanimous in their verdict for the Rev. Lindsay. The news was received with "marked approbation" in the courtroom filled with parishioners and fellow clergymen.

After the trial, the Rev Lindsay's career never recaptured its earlier momentum. The curious details of the case and the "one night accommodation" did not pass without notice. Lindsay soon left London for a small rural parish in Shropshire. He did eventually return to the capitol, spending his later years ministering on the docks in Limehouse. All in all, a much different setting from those halcyon days in the Strand: Let's all go down the Strand. Oh, what a happy land. That's the place for fun and noise, all among the girls and boys. So let's all go down the Strand.

Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Volume 2 is on sale now exclusively through and

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Poor Rector with a Rich Wife

The Hoopoe
By rail and by mail coach, they arrived. For months in 1839, in regular deliveries, caged and crated, came Cutthroats, Cardinals, Bishops, Hoopoes, Widows, Blackheaded Manakins, Nutmeg birds, Waxbills, Avadawatts, Quaker birds, Lorys, Love birds, Java Sparrows, Virginian Nightingales, Parrots, Paroquets, etc, more than 500 exotic birds shipped from London to the rectory at Milton Malsor. The Rev Edward Robert Butcher D.D. was the newly arrived rector of Holy Cross church in the Northamptonshire village, with his wife Caroline and their two daughters. Significantly, it was Mrs. Butcher who had ordered all these birds from the estimable Mrs. Freestone, a Dickensian figure who dabbled in native and imported birds for "the Nobility and Gentry" at her shop in London's St. Martin's Lane. 

In 1840, a lengthy dispute arose between the two ladies and Mrs. Freestone went to law. Relying on the common law principle that a husband shall be responsible for the debts of his wife, Mrs. Freestone sued the Rev. Butcher for goods (i.e. birds), sold and delivered, valued at £959 - close to a neat £100,000 in today's sterling. To which the country cleric replied, "Nunquam indebitatas." Not my debt, ma'am.

In the Court of Queen's Bench, the Rev Butcher explained that he was simply a "poor rector with a rich wife." Actually, he earned £400 a year. His wife was the sole heiress of a wealthy Middle Temple Barrister, with a separate bank account and fortune paying her £380 per year. In their marriage settlement of 1823, Edward and Caroline had agreed it was to be her money. Caroline's bird passion was solely her doing. Mrs. Freestone had come to Milton Malsor rectory several times to visit her great client but the Rev. Butcher swore that his wife had never troubled herself to introduce him to this curious woman "who dabbled in birds." The bills that steadily arrived were all addressed to "Mrs. Dr. Butcher."

Milton Malsor Rectory (Milton Malsor Historical Soc.)
The case of Freestone v Butcher has become something of a classic in the law of necessaries. Decades before "Married Women's Property" laws became a thing, tradesmen were permitted to rely on the husband to pay for his wife's "necessary" purchases - for her home and person, such as food and fashion suitable to their station in life. The wife, in such transactions, was considered to be the "agent" for her husband. But Lord Abinger, who presided in this case, thought this was a wholly different matter: "Here you have a married woman ordering, in about ten months, £900 worth of fancy birds." What if she suddenly ordered five puncheons (barrels) of rum? Nor was it enough for Mrs. Freestone to claim the rector, surrounded by an ever expanding aviary, "must" have known what his wife was doing with her money. His Lordship held that "it is the bounden duty of tradesmen (and, in this case, a woman) when they find a wife giving extravagant orders, to give notice to the husband immediately, if they mean to hold him liable." 

Sadly, the bird-hoarding Mrs. Butcher "shuffled off this mortal coil and joined the bleedin' choir invisible" in 1844. The fate of her collection is not known. Her husband left Milton for a new flock in Wandsworth in 1844.

Volume Two of Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series remains on sale exclusively through and

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"Opium is the Poison, We Suspect"

All Saints, Wigston Magna*
The 1860’s, of course, were the era of the great Victorian “sensation novel,” three-decker books with fiendishly complicated plots. There were mysterious wills, unlikely heirs, strange fortunes from the East, suspicious relations, whispers of poison, exhumations, etc. In 1863, one such tale – very much from real life – unfolded in the Leicestershire village of Wigston Magna.  

James Padley, a surveyor's son from Lincoln, was sent off to school at Oakham in Rutland in 1839 where he befriended a boy with the strangely similar name of Baddeley. Edward Baddeley was the only son and heir of twice-widowed Capt. Charles Baddeley of Wigston Magna. With a fortune amassed in India, the Baddeleys lived at Wigston Hall, “a building of considerable beauty with extensive well-timbered grounds.” 

James and Edward would both go on to Cambridge. James began his studies for the clergy. When Edward's health broke down, however, James went with his friend to seek the freshness of the sea air. Capt. Baddeley was understandably grateful for these kindnesses and he too soon fell under the spell of young Padley.

Padley was ordained in 1853 and married the following year. Alas, Edward wrote to say that he was dying and he begged his great friend to come to Wigston for a final visit. On his deathbed, Edward said that his only concern was for his aged father. He would die happy knowing that his dearest friend could care for his father with the tenderness he had always shown his son. Edward Baddeley passed away at Wigston. 

Capt. Baddeley now leaned heavily on the Rev. Padley, employing him as his private chaplain. The Padleys lived at Wigston Hall until 1856, leaving for a brief curacy in Devon. Rev. Padley then took a position as curate in Dalton-in-Furness in Cumbria. Capt. Baddeley let Wigston Hall and went off to live with the Padleys, renting a home in Rampside on Morecambe Bay and paying them £500 per year. After a stroke and paralysis, Capt. Baddeley died in 1863 at the age of 73. The Rev. and Mrs. Padley escorted the Captain’s body to Wigston for a Good Friday burial in the family vault.  

This tale of heartening friendship and devotion was a credit to the Rev. Mr. Padley. But some members of the Baddeley family were not quick to accept it. Dr. Henry Ralph Cooper, a surgeon from Ixworth in Suffolk, and a nephew by marriage, was the most outspoken. He saw a clergyman of modest means who befriended a dying youth and insinuated himself into the gratitude of a wealthy, lonely man, taking him "wheresoever he went." Now, not a decade later, the Baddeley fortune had been depleted to the point that there was now almost nothing left. The captain's will left the last £500 to the Rev. James Sandby Padley.  

The Leicestershire coroner received a letter from Dr. Cooper expressing his dissatisfaction with the stated cause of death. They "earnestly" sought an exhumation and an inquest. Dr. Cooper also shared his suspicions with the editor of his local paper: "Opium is the poison, we suspect. You may, if you wish, add these facts, as I know them to be true." Soon, all England was reading how the Rev. Padley was suspected of poisoning Capt. Baddeley. This occasioned "great excitement,” to say the least.  

Unfortunately for the more rabid readers of novels or newspapers, the coroner declared that there was absolutely no reason to question the circumstances of Capt. Baddeley's death and the request for an exhumation had been officially rejected. The attending physicians had seen absolutely nothing to raise any issues. The old man, wracked with gout, had died from the effects of a stroke.

In August of 1863, at the South Lancs Assizes, Mr. Padley sued Dr. Cooper for libel. "A more atrocious libel against any man --- (let alone) a clergyman --- could not be imagined," the clergyman's counsel thundered. The entire story of Rev. Padley's devotion to the Baddeleys, fils et pere respectively, was retold. The only person who had any suspicions about Capt. Baddeley’s demise seemed to be the defendant, Dr. Cooper.  

The proceedings had hardly begun before Mr. Henry James QC rose to state that his client wished to make a complete apology. Dr. Cooper was now “perfectly willing to admit that he had labored under a great error” and “regrets exceedingly” any offense given to Rev. Padley. Justice Mellor praised the Rev. Padley for his restraint. He was awarded a modest £150. However modest the judgment, it went unpaid as Dr. Cooper filed for bankruptcy and died the following year. Wigston Hall was torn down in the 1960’s and the site was used for a block of flats.

* The East window at All Saints, Wigston Magna was the gift of Capt Baddeley in 1854 to honour his second wife and his son Edward who had died that year.

Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Vol. 2 is now available exclusively through and

Thank you. Please leave any comments, corrections or suggestions below. Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Christmas Story

"The Old Vicarage, Edgton"*
Christmas 1892 was snowless but very cold in Shropshire. In the remote village of Edgton St. Michael, it was the first Christmas for the new vicar, the Rev. Morgan Jones, a 32-year old Welshman. On St. Stephen's Day (26 December), in his "delightfully situated" vicarage, he dined with Miss Helen Scholding, the newly hired schoolmistress. The unmarried vicar had seen to her every need in the village schoolhouse and helped her settle in the small but charming schoolmistress' cottage. Since her arrival, Helen (and he had dared to call her Helen) had dined every Sunday at the vicarage and he had drunk many cups of tea in her cottage. 

Surprisingly, early in the New Year, Miss Scholding abruptly left Edgton, saying she wished to be nearer her home (Essex). Edgton was a wee place and there were few secrets. Among the villagers unfriendly to the vicar, the word was that Miss Scholding had fled to avoid the vicar's efforts to seduce her. They whispered that all through Christmas, he had relentlessly begged the 33 year old spinster to sleep with him at the vicarage and remain as his mistress. He coyly pleaded, "I feel like I am in the Garden of Eden, but what is the point of being Adam if the fruit is denied to me?"

After Helen's departure, a new schoolmistress came to Edgton. Time passed. Only 200 people lived in the village but the Rev. Jones, alas, had not pleased them all. A common flash point in rural life was shooting rights - who had the right to go where to hunt. The vicar raised pheasants but not for game and he'd brought the law in on "trespassing" hunters. But when he opted to buy his butter from a different local farm, he made an enemy.

In 1896, two parishioners (including William Broome, the bitter butter-maker) went to the Bishop of Hereford to seek an inquiry, charging (three years after the fact) that Mr. Jones at Christmas 1892 had taken improper and indecent liberties with Miss Helen Scholding, he had asked her repeatedly to spend the night at the vicarage for an immoral purpose and he had offered her the position of being his mistress. 

A Consistory Court sat for four days in Hereford Cathedral. The first two days were spent hearing from Miss Scholding, who seemed unwilling to be there at all and made a rather poor witness. She did swear that the vicar had wooed her from the first. He walked her to her cottage and insisted coming in for tea. He even brought brandy with him. He begged her to move in with him; her little cottage was so damp and his roomy vicarage so warm. He touched her improperly. He put his arm around her and spoke to her intimately. This went on through Christmas and into 1893. But when she continued to spurn his advances, he turned upon her. He became very cold and critical of her teaching. He made her cry. He told her, "You might have been as happy as a Queen if you had done what I wanted." On cross-examination, Miss Scholding admitted her diary for that holiday period had gone missing. She had lost earlier positions because she was so easily troubled; she had once talked of suicide. In Edgton, Rev. Jones had cautioned her about some of the novels she read. And why did she not cry out when Mr. Jones touched her, there were servants around? When she left Edgton, why did she write the vicar a pleasant note thanking him for his kindness. Would a woman write such a note to a man who had tried to debauch her?

But there were supporting witnesses. Margaret Evans had been Miss Scholding's cottage servant (Margaret's father was one of the dissident parishioners). The girl swore that, while looking through a keyhole, she saw the vicar pulling up Miss Scholding's dress. The schoolmistress said, "If you don't leave me alone, Mr. Jones, I shall write home and tell my father," to which the vicar replied, "Oh, no, no, suffer the little children to play together." Miss Scholding's father said his daughter had complained to him and he had gone to Edgton but the vicar refused to see him. But, once his daughter left, he let the matter drop.

Given his turn, the Rev. Jones insisted the story of his amorous Christmas seduction was a "heinous lie." Of course, he had befriended her; Miss Scholding was an educated woman and without friends in a rustic village. He never made any propositions to her; it was all a tissue of falsehoods crafted by unhappy parishioners. He never compared himself to Adam in the Garden, etc. He never called her a "delightful child" or told her she was like a "sunbeam" in his lonely vicarage. He saw nothing unusual in a clergyman spending an hour and a half in a schoolmistress' cottage. In fact, it was a damp little place. They had tea but never brandy. 

The vicar's counsel urged the Consistory Court to agree that the entire case was a fabrication, a "cruel, unkind and un-Christian" cabal inspired by petty quarrels. All this because the vicar changed dairymen? Tittle-tattle three years forgotten had been resurrected. Poor Miss Scholding, a "nervous, hysterical" woman, had been used to attack a blameless clergyman. The woman read too many romantic novels. The great "keyhole evidence" was incredible; it was a physical impossibility for that servant girl to have seen any such thing. In the end, the wretched schoolmistress left Edgton to go home to her family, no other reason.  
St. Michael's Edgton.*

The Hereford court (a panel of laymen and clergy) took a fortnight before announcing their unanimous verdict that the Rev. Mr. Jones was not guilty on all counts. In Edgton, the vicar set about to entirely restore his tiny church. He was still in the village well into the new century (so were his accusers, Messrs. Broome & Evans.) The Rev. Jones never married; he lived alone with his younger housekeeper, Miss Boyer, who'd been with him throughout. 

For Anglophiles at Christmas 2017, please consider Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series (Vol. 2.) It is a collection of full length stories of similar personal predicaments besetting clergymen of the C of E. The book is sold exclusively through and