Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Rev. Hamilton Young of Alne, Yorkshire

St. Mary, Alne, Yorks.
The pretty village of Alne, near York, and its ancient church of St. Mary's, is an unlikely setting for one of the longest lasting and costliest Victorian clerical scandals. The Rev. Hamilton Young and his wife, Sarah, came to Alne in 1895. The living had been purchased by Richard Kershaw, Mrs. Young's industrialist father. But things did not go well. Soon, the vicar accused his wife of having an affair with Thomas Mintoft, a churchwarden. Mr. Young was opposed to divorce so he and his wife lived separately. Then came village rumors linking the vicar to Miss Cissie Burton, the Sunday School teacher. The gossip was traced back to Kershaw. The vicar sued his father-in-law, winning heavy damages. By 1900, the Rev. Young had triumphed over his religious scruples and he went into civil court to divorce his wife, citing her continuing affair with Mintoft. Mrs. Young counter-sued accusing Miss Burton of having had the vicar's child in Brussels. A slew of sleuths employed by either side combed the village for all the tawdry details. The trial lasted three weeks, the judge took a whole day to sum up but the jury needed half-an-hour to find Mrs Young guilty of adultery with Mintoft but finding the vicar innocent of both cruelty to his wife and adultery with Miss Burton. An estimated £10,000 was spent by the Youngs (more than £1,000,000 in today's money.)

Gossip about a clergyman and his Sunday school teacher was an occupational hazard of sorts. Read the story of the Rev. Howes and Miss Beechey in Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Volume 1.
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Picture: alnevillage.co.uk
My thanks to Dr. Robert Brech. chairman of the Alne Parish Council.

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