Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Wedding of an Unusual Character

St. Paul's Church, Buttershaw (Wibsey)
The wedding of the local vicar would always be an exciting day in any village but few such events were as tumultuous as what occurred in Yorkshire on 3 August 1875. 

The vicar of Buttershaw, near Bradford, was the 75-year old Rev. Robert Reynolds, a widower with ten grown children. For some time he had been seen to pay courtly attention to a local widow and when he announced from the pulpit that he had found a "loving companion" there was general delight in Buttershaw. But that changed when it was learned that the vicar's inamorata was not the old widow but her 32 year old daughter Elizabeth, the local schoolmistress. 

The night before the wedding, when the cases were being loaded to be taken to the station for the morrow's honeymoon journey, "a crowd of some hundred of persons assembled about the vicar's house and behaved themselves in a manner which was anything but agreeable to the rev. gentleman." Stones were thrown, the garden trampled and "uncomplimentary" ribald remarks were heard. In the morning, St. Paul's, Buttershaw, was filled long before the 8:00 start to the ceremony. The Rev. Mr. Ryan of Low Moor, officiating, had to appeal for order. The bridegroom, within his ecclesiastical powers, threatened to have the church cleared. The vows said, the happy couple, with difficulty, made their way through the shouting crowd to their waiting barouche and they were off to Bradford. 

The "intense excitement" of the day passed, as always. The Rev. Reynolds remained in Buttershaw until his death seven years later. There were no additional Reynolds children. The Victorian comic papers were delighted to report on this story from "Buttershaw - wherever that may be." Buttershaw has long been absorbed into Greater Bradford and the local housing estates had the worst reputation. However, "today millions have been pumped into the regeneration of Buttershaw Estate. It's been revamped and renamed and is now on the road to recovery." [All About Bradford]

Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Volume 1 is now available for Kindle and e-readers with a FREE app. and

Monday, December 19, 2016

THANK YOU and a reminder

Thank you for the visits to this blog in 2016. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are all welcome anytime. It's been an excellent first year and I am happy to report that this blog has been nominated for a 2016 Blog of the Year in the U.K. in the "Arts & Culture" category. 

This blog was initially launched to support the e-publication of my new book - Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Volume 1.

Unlike the short takes offered here on the blog, the book contains five full length accounts of some of the most sensational and interesting clerical scandals of the Victorian era. 

  • a vicar of Bracknell who was allegedly found in a copse with his Sunday School teacher. 
  • a curate of Camden Town accused of sending a "deplorable and obscene" letter to a housemaid with whom he was allegedly having an affair.
  • a married Yorkshire rector who ran off with his cook. 
  • a "foxy" curate in Alderley Edge named co-respondent in a wealthy cotton-broker's divorce action.
  • a curate in Leamington Spa whose lengthy and delightful correspondence with "Miss Lamb" became the talk of the nation in a sensational "breach of promise to marry" action.
Yes, this is a "Kindle" book but the Kindle app is readily available, free and easy to install on your mobile phones or tablet. 

Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Volume 1 makes an excellent gift for Anglophiles, church-crawlers, clergymen or women, Victorianists or those who enjoy reading a good period story or courtroom drama. It's just a quick click. The price is certainly right: $5.49 at or £3.99 at

Again, thank you very much. Merry Christmas and look for Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Volume 2 in 2017.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Rev. Mr. Robinson: "Cruel to be Kind"

The Royal Army Chaplains Flag
The Rev. Henry Robinson, Irish born, Dublin educated, had been a well-traveled army chaplain for ten years, including service in the Crimea. In 1859, widowed with two children, he thought of settling down with a church of his own. But his influence and connections were limited until he met Miss Elizabeth Paxton, a lady of "considerable personal attractions, well-educated and accomplished." She was also the niece of Sir Joseph Paxton, the celebrated gardener and architect of the Crystal Palace and dear friend of Dukes and Princes. Henry and Elizabeth exchanged numerous letters of an "endearing strain." There was talk of marriage. 

Elizabeth agreed to speak with uncle Joseph about finding some preferment for Henry. Alas, the baronet wrote back with £10 for her trousseau, but he could no offer no hope for ecclesiastical influence. Elizabeth's next letter from Henry was ardour-free: “Dear Miss Paxton, it would be desirable for our correspondence to terminate.” 

For Elizabeth, at 26, this was a severe blow and she promptly sued the chaplain for £3000 for breach of promise to marry. Robinson admitted the promise had been made but he ended it with "prudent resolve." More years of barracks service were ahead for him, thus he broke it off "without casting the least aspersion on her fair fame & character." A London jury quickly found for Miss Paxton in the amount of £300. 

In the (male) press, some thought the whole affair was foolish. If the clergyman had been cruel, "it was certainly cruel to be kind," sparing this gentlewoman from years of "poverty and trouble." To conclude, Rev. Robinson found a wife later in the decade and spent many years, far from the front, at churches in the south of England. No record can be found of Miss Elizabeth Paxton ever marrying.

The most famous case of a clergyman sued for "breach of promise" involved the Rev. Mr. Fryer of Andover. The romantic and humorous story is told in full in Volume 1 of Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series. Now available at and