Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Rev. John Woodcock, Vicar of Littlebourne, Kent.

St. Vincent's, Littlebourne
The village of Littlebourne in Kent has the only English church (or, at least, one of the very few) dedicated to St. Vincent of Saragossa, the patron saint of winemakers (and Lisbon). From 1824, the Rev. John Woodcock was the vicar of St. Vincent's. Alas, for three decades, “his conduct was so objectionable that very few of the parishioners would attend" his services. As a young cleric, he had been a minor canon at the nearby cathedral in Canterbury but he was given the sack by the Archbishop. Yet, Woodcock remained in his vicarage. It was not a happy home. He drove his daughter out of the house and onto the dole. In early 1859, new charges were raised, apparently having to do with a servant who left the vicarage enceinte. The new "imputations" were sent to the Bishop and an inquiry was demanded. The Rev. Mr. Woodcock went into his upstairs bedroom and shot himself in the head. A servant heard the shot and arrived to find Mrs. Woodcock cradling her dead husband's body. The vicar was so disliked that many villagers concluded that his wife had shot him and they quite understood why. But a coroner's jury concluded that the vicar of Littlebourne had died "while in a state of mental derangement caused by the shame and vexation of the state of things.”

For another clerical tragedy, see the case of the Rev. Joseph Weedow in the new Kindle collection, Clerical Errors, A Victorian Series, Vol 1.
Download a FREE Kindle app for your smartphone or tablet.
Photo, copyright N Chadwick and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.

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