Friday, July 8, 2016

The Rector of Stone is Displeased.

St. Mary the Virgin, Stone-next-Dartford, Kent
In December 1869, Miss Constance Griffiths, a pretty girl of 16, was staying with her aunt at the Old Rectory in Stone, Kent. One day, a letter arrived:
"Dear Consey, I wish to see you. Excuse the writing. With best love, believe me, your affectionate lover and well-wisher. W.H.” 
The note was intercepted by Consey's vigilant aunt who passed it to the rector. The Rev. Frederick Murray stomped off to the village school, returning with the author, 13 year old Walter Hughes, a grocer's son. Walter said he'd been smitten at the sight of "Consey" in the rector's pew. The boy apologised but the rector still caned him, twelve times across the hands and six to the back of the legs. Walter was marched home to his father and denounced for his "most abominable" conduct. William Hughes took his son for treatment and later sued Murray for assault. The rector claimed he had the authority for the corporal discipline. It was a trifling affair, the boy did not cry and missed no school time. When asked why the note had upset him so, the rector said it was insulting for a tradesman's son to dare approach a young lady staying under his roof. But the magistrates found that Murray held no loco parentis standing with "Consey" and an admonishment of the lovesick teen would have been sufficient. He was ordered to pay the Hughes family £10 and their costs. Rev. Murray also endured countless editorial denunciations and hooting calls from the local "scholars."

Love letters also figure in the case of the Rev. A.G. Fryer, one of the stories in Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Vol. 1. 
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