Author Archives: Ginestra Ferraro

Information For Librarians

CCEd is a valuable online resource for librarians and their readers.  Those interested in clerical biographies, local or family history, the professions, or the institutional history of the Church of England and the wider culture of the period will find resources here to explore.

The CCEd consists of two linked elements: a relational database and a website.  The database gathers in one place archival material documenting clerical careers between 1540 and 1835 gathered from over fifty widely scattered repositories. There are, of course, many printed lists of incumbents for English and Welsh dioceses, but coverage is far from universal for the period included in the database, and even those that do exist can be supplemented, and quite often corrected, by the evidence it contains.  However, we have also reconstructed the careers of curates and chaplains to gaols, workhouses and hospitals, often rather transitory and poorly-recorded figures who have been ignored in most published lists of clergy.  Additionally, the database has fairly full records of ecclesiastical patronage, not just by the crown and bishops, but by many individual lay people, including women, which adds new information to their biographies.  The database also contains many records about schools (private, charitable or petty) and school teachers, which adds considerably to our current knowledge in printed sources.

The CCED website which houses the database itself also contains essential information about the structure of the Church including its complex types of location, the stages of the clerical career, glossaries of terms, lists of bishops, dioceses and parishes, and, for each diocese, we have begun providing maps, histories, lists of links and lists of manuscript sources and bibliographies of printed sources.  Readers should find must of use here on the Church as an ecclesiastical and social institution, and on the history of the clerical and teaching professions, which complements and augments existing resources in print.

It is recommended that librarians directing their users to the CCEd for more information point out to such users the various introductions provided here, and also the very important ‘How to use the Database’ section of the website, which provides vital information on how best to interrogate and then interpret the vast body of data the CCEd now contains. It is important, for example, that users under the nature of the ‘career narratives’ which the Database provides rather than biographies; it may also be helpful to recommend to users to consult CCEd in combination with resources such as Venn and Foster’s lists of alumni of Oxford and Cambridge, the volumes of the Victoria County History and The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

George Pretyman, bishop of Lincoln, and the University of Cambridge 1787-1801


This article examines the role of George Pretyman, bishop of Lincoln, as church appointments adviser, and the complexities of ecclesiastical patronage during the first administration of William Pitt the Younger. The criteria for patronage will be illustrated using three case studies from the University of Cambridge, an institution which emerges as a key concern in the patronage networks of Pitt and the bishop.

Citation Information

To cite this article: Reider Payne, ‘George Pretyman, bishop of Lincoln, and the University of Cambridge 1787–1801’, CCEd Online Journal 3, 2008.



This article will examine George Pretyman, bishop of Lincoln (1750–1827) ((George Tomline from 1803. But he will be referred to throughout the main body of this chapter as Pretyman. He was bishop of Winchester from 1820. For an overview of the bishop’s career, see Grayson Ditchfield, ‘Sir George Pretyman-Tomline (1750–1827): ecclesiastical politician and theological polemicist’ in Religious identities in Britain 1660–1832, ed. William Gibson and Robert G. Ingram (Aldershot, 2005), p. 277. I am most grateful to Professor Ditchfield for sending me a copy of this chapter before its publication.)) and the complexities of ecclesiastical patronage under the first administration of William Pitt the Younger (1783–1801). In order to show the range of issues and considerations which surrounded the disposal of Church appointments at this period, I shall focus on three specific case studies involving the University of Cambridge. ((For a thorough analysis of crown patronage under the first duke of Newcastle, see Stephen Taylor, ‘Church and state in the mid-eighteenth century.:the Newcastle years 1742–1762’, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1987.)) The first case study surrounds the appointment of a master of Trinity College in 1788; the second Pretyman’s relationship to Isaac Milner, the president of Queens’ College. The final case looks at the appointment of Peter Peckard to the deanery of Peterborough in 1792. Pretyman, appointed in January 1787 to the see of Lincoln, with the deanery of St Paul’s in commendam, was a central figure in the political and ecclesiastical worlds of the late-eighteenth century. Once appointed by Pitt to a bishopric, Pretyman became in all but name the first minister’s ecclesiastical appointments’ adviser. ((Pretyman would effectively eclipse the primacy of John Moore, archbishop of Canterbury. For an example of the archbishop’s weakness, see The National Archives, Chatham papers, PRO 30/8/161, fo. 9: Moore to Pitt, 19 Jan. 1792. For earlier examples of ecclesiastical advisers, see Taylor, ‘Church and state in the mid-eighteenth century’, p. 109, on Bishop Gibson’s eclipse of Archbishop Wake; see also pp. 108–10 for the roles of Gibson, Thomas Sherlock and Thomas Secker under Newcastle.)) The two men had become close when Pitt had gone up to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge in 1773, where Pretyman, who had gained his degree in 1767, had been elected a fellow. During their time at Cambridge, Pitt and Pretyman would forge a lifelong friendship which would only be broken by the First Minister’s death in 1806. ((See Pembroke College Annual Gazette (1934) pp. 12–13. Pretyman became Pitt’s unofficial secretary in 1784 with apartments in Downing Street. His first preferments came rapidly – a stall at Westminster in 1784 and the rectory of Sudbourne, Suffolk, in 1785.))

The University of Cambridge emerges as an important consideration in the patronage relationship between Pitt and Pretyman, both Cambridge men. Pitt represented the university in the Commons from 1784 and was elected High Steward in 1790. Many positions at the university were in the hands of Anglican clergy, and Cambridge clerics were to the forefront of those approaching Pitt for patronage. One Cambridge graduate, Henry Gunning, wrote in 1854 about Pitt’s visits to the university. He reminisced that on such occasions it ‘was evident the rulers of the University could not forget they were in the presence of a man who had the power of dispensing Bishoprics and Deaneries’. ((Henry Gunning, Reminiscences of the university, town, and county of Cambridge from the year 1780 (2 vols, London, 1854), I, 182.)) Conversely, a detailed analysis of the correspondence between Pitt and Pretyman illustrates their desire to stand well with the university. ((Pitt’s letters to the bishop are in the Pretyman papers, at the East Suffolk Record Office [ESRO] in Ipswich; Pretyman’s to Pitt are largely in the Stanhope of Chevening papers, at the Centre for Kentish Studies [CKS], Maidstone.)) For example, in 1787, Pitt was anxious not to cause offence to ‘our Cambridge Friends’ over an episcopal appointment, while another letter in 1797 showed Pretyman’s desire to find suitable preferment for Philip Douglas, the master of Corpus Christi College, simply because ‘the University would be pleased’. ((ESRO, HA119 T108/42: Pitt to Pretyman, 4 Nov. 1787; CKS, Stanhope Papers, U1590 S5 34: 5 Feb. 1797. Douglas actually received no further preferment after 1796.)) It is this centrality of the university which makes it an important snap-shot on Church patronage under Pitt and Pretyman.

There are hints of a tendency to neglect Oxford University in the two men’s patronage calculations. For example, a 1795 letter from Cyril Jackson, dean of Christ Church, to the third duke of Portland, chancellor of Oxford University, grumbled about the calibre of appointments made to canonries of Christ Church by Pitt. ((Nottingham University Library [NUL], Portland Papers PIC 51/5/1: 15 Mar. 1795.)) Further, Jackson seemed not to hold that high an opinion of Pretyman himself – possibly because of his role as Pitt’s appointments adviser. ((See NUL, PwF 5765/1: 23 Oct. 1794.)) While Pitt and Pretyman were keen to preserve the traditional balance on the bench of bishops between the two universities, what emerges clearly in the letters of the two men is that the affairs of Cambridge and the careers of its clergy were uppermost in their minds.

The three patronage examples in this article are well-placed to draw out the calculations that Pitt and Pretyman needed to make when distributing preferment. The importance of Trinity to Pitt’s calculations becomes apparent in the complex manoeuvrings to dispose of it satisfactorily. Trinity also sheds light on the administration’s relationship to two of the most prominent latitudinarians of the late-eighteenth century – John Hinchliffe and Richard Watson, bishops of Peterborough and Llandaff respectively. The case study of Isaac Milner again demonstrates the importance of Cambridge politics and illustrates how Pretyman encouraged those who fought heterodoxy and radicalism. It further sheds light on the bishop’s attitude to evangelical christianity, as represented by Milner. Both cases are a long way from the political calculations that will be demonstrated in the promotion of the distinctly heterodox Peter Peckard to a deanery.

The theology of George Pretyman

At this stage, it would be beneficial to look at Pretyman’s theological opinions as they would have a bearing on his conduct during the three Cambridge case studies illustrated in this paper. Pretyman has been termed a high churchman. ((See Peter Nockles, The Oxford movement in context. Anglican high churchmanship 1760–1857 (1994; rev. edn, 1997), p. 29n. See also Robert Hole, Pulpits, politics and public order in England 1760–1832 (Cambridge, 1989), p. 79; John Gascoigne, Cambridge in the age of the Enlightenment (Cambridge, 1989), p. 218.)) Peter Nockles has stressed the common outlook of many high churchmen of this era, which included maintaining the doctrine of apostolical succession, the ‘supremacy’ of scripture, a high regard for the writings of the early fathers and a belief in ‘the divine rather than popular’ origin of political allegiance. However, there were varying strands of high church thought. ((Nockles, Oxford movement, pp. 25–6; see pp. 25–32.)) For example, Grayson Ditchfield tempered notions of Pretyman as a high churchman, notably in his attitude to the executed Charles I. ((Ditchfield, ‘Pretyman-Tomline’, pp. 285–7)) This was given full rein in his 30 January 1789 sermon before the House of Lords. ((See Ditchfield, ‘Pretyman-Tomline’, pp. 286–7.)) This sermon condemned Charles I as a man who ‘avowed the most unconstitutional principles’. The king was also criticized for failing to discourage Catholicism, and for continuing ‘to employ Papists in situations of trust and importance, and in offices of honour about his own person.’ ((George Pretyman, A sermon preached before the Lords spiritual and temporal in the Abbey Church of Westminster on Friday January 30, 1789 (London, 1789), p. 13.))

Pretyman, as illustrated in his 1789 sermon, was strongly anti-Catholic. In his 1797 thanksgiving sermon, for victories at sea, he again attacked Catholicism. ((George Pretyman, A sermon preached at the Cathedral Church of St Paul, London, before his majesty, and both houses of parliament, On Tuesday, December 19th 1797 being the day appointed for a general thanksgiving (London, 1798), pp. 11, 22.)) Pretyman also expressed contempt for the methodists and in his 1800 Charge to his diocesan clergy, warned of those whose ‘especial call or gift of grace … supersedes the necessity of education and of the regular ordination’. The danger from these individuals was that they ‘profess to believe all its [anglicanism’s] doctrines, and yet renounce its authority and revile its ministers’. ((George Pretyman, A charge delivered to the clergy of the diocese of Lincoln, at the triennial visitation of that diocese, in June and July 1800 (London, 1800), pp. 18–19.)) However, especial targets for Pretyman’s ire were the Evangelicals within his own church, especially as their theology ‘tended towards a moderate Calvinism’. ((Grayson Ditchfield, The evangelical revival (London, 1998), p. 107.)) John Gascoigne described Pretyman as a ‘declared foe’ of such clergy, although Grayson Ditchfield noted that Pretyman’s dislike of evangelicalism was not absolute.  ((Gascoigne, Cambridge in the age of the Enlightenment, p. 257; Ditchfield, ‘Pretyman-Tomline’, p. 294.)) However, the bishop was quite capable of blocking the advancement of undesirable Evangelical clergy in his own diocese as seen in a letter from William Hey to William Wilberforce in 1794, complaining of the ‘mischievous opposition your friend the Bp of Lincoln is now making to the religious clergy, and pious candidates’. ((Bodleian Library [Bodl.], Wilberforce Papers, MS Wilberforce d.15/1, f. 40, 26 Oct. 1794.)) The term ‘friend’ had many connotations in the eighteenth century. Although Hey may simply be referring to Pretyman as a political ally, it is more than possible that he cannot resist a little sarcasm in this description. If so, it is an early indicator of evangelical distrust towards the bishop.

The 1790s and the 1800s saw the start of a battle for the Church’s soul, waged, as one correspondent wrote to The Christian Observer in November 1803, between ‘orthodox Calvinists and orthodox Non-Calvinists’. ((The Christian Observer (Nov. 1803), p. 694 (anonymous letter).)) The debate over the Calvinist interpretation of the Church’s Articles, notably over the nature of justification seen in numerous reviews and articles of the opposing camps, filled the pages of such periodicals as The British Critic, The Anti-Jacobin, The Orthodox Churchman’s Magazine and The Christian Observer.

John Overton’s True Churchmen Ascertained (1801) was the most thorough contemporary attempt to explain these Calvinist precepts, including justification by faith. He argued that the tenets of the English reformers were ‘those now usually termed Calvinistic’. ((John Overton, The true churchmen ascertained; or,an apology for those of the regular clergy of the establishment, who are sometimes called evangelical ministers (1801; York, 1802), p. 54.)) He further expanded on justification:

What WE mean by this faith is well expressed in the definition of it in the homily on salvation. ‘The right and true Christian faith,’ it is here affirmed, ‘is, not only to believe that holy scripture, and all the foresaid articles of our faith are true, but also to have a sure trust and confidence in God’s merciful promises to be saved from everlasting damnation by Christ: whereof doth follow a loving heart to obey his commandments.’ It is a cordial belief of God’s testimony and a reliance on his promises… Justifying faith, therefore, especially implies, a receiving with interest and approbation, ‘the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son,’ and a sure trust and confidence in God for salvation through Christ Jesus. ((Overton,True churchmen, p. 188.))

Overton strongly believed that the Church’s doctrines did not state a belief in justification by faith and good works. Indeed, he argued ‘is it not very strange that in none of her express writings on the subject she should have affirmed this?’ Time and again he emphasized that justification was by faith alone. ((Overton, True churchmen, p. 218; see pp. 178–219)) Overton’s work was intended as a riposte to Charles Daubeny, who in turn had criticized the views of William Wilberforce.

It was the publication of William Wilberforce’s Practical view (1797) that had helped to ignite the debate. He castigated the established clergy, a stance which would not have endeared him to Bishop Pretyman. ((William Wilberforce, A practical review of the prevailing religious system of professed christians, in the higher and middle classes in this country, contrasted with real christianity (Dublin, 1797) , p. 47.)) He also urged the reformation of religious teaching in the schools and universities. ((See Wilberforce, Practical view, p. 304.)) Although Nancy Murray has argued that many Evangelicals were Arminians, rather than Calvinists, ((See Nancy Murray, ‘The influence of the French revolution on the Church of England and its rivals, 1789–1802’, unpublished D.Phil dissertation, University of Oxford, 1975, p. 292.)) Practical view laid great stress on the one error ‘generally prevalent’. This error was ‘of exaggerating the merit of certain amiable and useful qualities, and of considering themselves sufficient to compensate for the supreme love and fear of God’. Wilberforce then went further and argued ‘That in short it is by FAITH IN CHRIST only that he is to be justified in the sight of God’. ((Wilberforce, Practical view, pp. 179, 237.))

Wilberforce’s book was answered by Charles Daubeny’s Guide to the Church (1798). ((Charles Daubeny, A guide to the Church in several discourses; to which are added two postscripts; first to those members of the Church, who occasionally frequent other places of public worship, the second to the clergy. Addressed to William Wilberforce Esq (London, 1798) pp. 91–2.)) Daubeny stressed the need for good works and acknowledged his disagreement with Wilberforce over the word ‘faith’. ((See Daubeny, Guide, pp. 273–381)) He further reminded the author of Practical view that ‘railing against the clergy of the establishment, has been that prepatory step to its subversion’. ((Daubeny, Guide, p.379.)) Pretyman was also heavily involved in these Calvinistic debates. He detested the theories of Calvin and in his first major work Elements of christian theology (1799) sought to downplay the Calvinist tones of some of the Church’s articles. For example, in dealing with the seventeenth article ‘Of predestination and election’ he argued thus:

God, is represented in Scripture as having pre-ordained the redemption of mankind, through Christ, before the foundation of the world. This redemption was to be in the nature of a covenant between God and man; and the salvation of every individual was to depend upon his observance of the proposed conditions. Man in consequence of their free agency would have it in their power to accept or reject this offered salvation; and God by his prescience foresaw who would accept, and who would reject it. Those, who he foresaw would perform the conditions of the Gospel covenant may be said to be predestined for life, ’for whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate’. This appears to me, the only sense in which predestination is reconcilable with the attributes of God, and the free agency of man… ((George Pretyman, Elements of christian theology (2 vols, London, 1799), II, 299–300.))

Pretyman maintained that ‘the doctrines maintained’ in this article were ‘by no means conformable to the principles of Calvin’. ((Pretyman, Elements, II, 311; see pp. 297–316)) He also praised the twelfth article ‘Of good works’, stating that the performance of such works was ‘indeed the test and criterion of genuine faith’. ((Pretyman, Elements, II, 268; see pp. 265–71.))

Pretyman’s Refutation of Calvinism (1811) gave full voice to his anti-Calvinist sentiments. In this work he again criticised Calvinism’s belief that ‘God has eternally fixed the future destiny of every individual of the human race; that he has irrevocably decreed to bestow everlasting happiness upon some, and to consign others to eternal misery, without any regard to their merit or demerit.’ Pretyman, ever mindful of any dangers to the established law and order of the kingdom, was quick to condemn this doctrine as a danger to both.  ((George Tomline, A refutation of calvinism (London, 1811), p. 269.)) Pretyman was also far from impressed with those who ‘profess a sort of moderate Calvinism … purged of its most offensive tenets’ while ‘retaining only those which are less revolting to reason and common sense’. ((Tomline, Refutation, p. 569.)) The bishop was concerned that the Church was ‘in no small danger from the active hostility of those who profess Calvinistic doctrines’. ((Tomline, Refutation, p. 284. This was condemned by Isaac Milner, see Mary Milner, The life of Isaac Milner D.D., F.R.S. (London, 1842), p. 445)) He again stressed the christian’s need for justification through good works and argued that if these came to be regarded as ‘of little comparative importance’ the result would surely be ‘a laxity of principle and a dissoluteness of manners’. ((Tomline, Refutation, p. 172.))

Pretyman was also to be seen by contemporaries as a man who set his face against earlier latitudinarian theology. John Gascoigne defined latitudinarianism, ‘coined to suggest theological breadth of vagueness’, as characterized by clergy who ‘tended to emphasise those doctrines’ on which most protestants could agree ‘rather than on the theological points that were likely to cause divisions’. ((Gascoigne, Cambridge, p. 4. See also Martin Fitzpatrick, ‘Latitudinarianism at the parting of the ways: a suggestion’, in The Church of England c.1689 – c.1833. From toleration to tractarianism, ed. John Walsh, Colin Haydon and Stephen Taylor (Cambridge, 1993), p. 209.)) It has been argued that latitudinarianism ‘shaped the education of generations of Cambridge ordinands under the first two Georges’. ((John Walsh and Stephen Taylor, ‘Introduction: the Church and anglicanism in the “long” eighteenth century’, in Church of England, ed. Walsh, Haydon and Taylor, p. 37.))  A number of these Cambridge clerics were certainly behind the unsuccessful 1772 Feathers Tavern petition, seeking reform of subscription to the Church’s Thirty-Nine Articles. Such a relaxation to subscription went to the heart of latitudinarian thinking. One such Cambridge man, Robert Plumptre, president of Queens’ College, was a noted supporter of the petition. Plumptre questioned ‘whether some other Expedient, than such Subscription to Articles may not be substituted in its Place’ which could be ‘as effectual to the Preservation of the Church of England, and not so burdensome to its real (perhaps best) Friends, who wish its Amendment and consequent Prosperity, not (as they have been reproached) its Destruction’. ((Thoughts on the dangers apprehended from popery and sectaries, by abolishing subscription to the Thirty-Nine Articles in a letter to a friend. To which is added a letter first published in The General Evening Post under the signature of Probus [identified as Plumptre] (London, 1772), pp. 29–30.)) Latitudinarianism though was in retreat by the 1770s. As F. C. Mather argued, it had ‘lost the battle for the soul’ of the Anglican Church. ((F. C. Mather, High church prophet. Bishop Samuel Horsley (1733–1806) and the Caroline tradition in the later Georgian Church (Oxford, 1992), p. 21. See also Gascoigne, Cambridge, p. 194.)) George III took a dim view of those suspected of latitudinarian tendencies, and under Lord North’s administration (1770–82) a number of high churchmen had been promoted, although this period should not be seen as simply an era of orthodox reaction. ((John Green, bishop of Lincoln, earned royal disfavour after voting for the Dissenters’ Relief Bill of 1773. Notable high churchmen who were promoted included George Horne and Nathan Wetherell. For a balanced essay on the North era see G. M. Ditchfield, ‘Ecclesiastical policy under Lord North’, in Church of England, ed. Walsh, Haydon and Taylor, pp. 228–46.)) Pretyman’s role as adviser would consolidate this process further. Indeed, his Elements endeavoured to show that the Articles were ‘founded in Scripture, and conformable to the opinions of the early Christians’. He believed that if any clergyman dissented from a single one ‘no hope of emolument or honour, no dread of inconvenience or disappointment should induce him to express his solemn assent’. Every Anglican clergyman should ‘from his own conviction maintain the purity of our established religion and sincerely and zealously enforce those points of faith which our church declares to be the revealed will of God’. ((Pretyman, Elements, pp. 566–7.))

His reputation as a champion of Anglican orthodoxy can be seen when he was singled out for an indirect attack by the unitarian Joseph Priestley in 1787, in his condemnation of Pitt’s rejection of the attempts to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts. The reason for Pitt’s mistake in this, argued Priestley, was due to his having been educated by clergymen ‘who are interested in the support of the present establishment, and whose minds may therefore be supposed to be biased in favour of it’. In short, the minister had been misled by his ‘education and connections’. ((Joseph Priestley, A letter to the Right Honourable William Pitt (2nd edn, London, 1787), p. 2.)) It would not take much for contemporaries to link this criticism to Pitt’s former tutor. This 1787 debate saw the reprinting of Bishop Sherlock’s arguments against a repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts (1718), with a dedication to Pitt. ((Bishop Sherlock’s arguments against a repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts (1st pub., 1718; this edn, London, 1787), pp. iii–iv.)) Pretyman’s role in this affair was possibly of a double significance. The guiding force behind this reprint was discussed by two historians. F. C. Mather believed that the Oxford high churchman George Horne managed the affair while J. C. D. Clark stated that it was ‘possible that Pretyman was responsible for its publication’. ((Mather, High church prophet, p. 67; J. C. D. Clark, English society 1688–1832 (Cambridge, 1985), p. 341n.)) Whatever the truth of this, Pretyman was seen as having played a major role in dashing the dissenters’ hopes. Theophilus Lindsey complained to William Tayleur on 2 March 1787, of Pitt’s being ‘at first rather inclined’ to support repeal, but having then changed his mind. The reason for the change of heart was that ‘Bp Prettyman, I am well assured, one day read over with him the republication of Sherlock’s in favour of the Corporation and Test Acts’ which ‘are said to have swayed not only the Minister, but all his young friends as they are called’. ((Letters of Theophilus Lindsey, ed. H. McLachlan (London, 1920), p. 64. See, e.g., Bishop Sherlock’s arguments, pp. 22, 30–6.)) The actual influence on the minister is impossible to ascertain, but what mattered to individuals such as Lindsey was the perception of Pretyman as the agent of orthodoxy. ((See also John Rylands University Library, Lindsey Letters, iii: Theophilus Lindsey to William Tayleur, 16 July 1791.)) This reputation was not misplaced and will be shown in Pretyman’s actions over Trinity and Queens’ Colleges, while his attitude to Evangelical christianity will also be seen at play in his patronage relationship with Isaac Milner and William Wilberforce.

Pretyman and Trinity College, Cambridge

The mastership of Trinity College was one of five crown appointments in the university in this period. ((The others being the regius professorships of divinity, civil law, physic and modern history. The crown’s patronage in the gift of the king included the bishoprics, deaneries, some cathedral stalls (such as the three residentiaryships of St Paul’s), the university posts and parochial livings valued at over £20 in the King’s Book of 1535. However, it should be mentioned that the majority of the crown’s parochial livings were in the gift of the lord chancellor. See Thomas Bateman, Royal ecclesiastical gazeteer (London, 1791) and The correspondence of King George III from 1760 to 1783, ed. Sir John Fortescue (6 vols, London, 1927–8), I, 33–4 for a full breakdown. The percentage of parochial livings in the gift of the crown in 1742 has been estimated at 9.6. See D. R. Hirschberg, ‘The government and church patronage in England 1660–1760’, Journal of British Studies, XX (1980), 111–13.)) As with other ecclesiastical appointments in the gift of the King, Pitt and Pretyman were often given a free rein in its disposal, and George III rarely intervened in the crown’s lower church patronage. It has been argued that the king’s illness of 1788–9 diminished his aptitude for interference, and politically, the king knew that a termination of Pitt’s first ministry would likely result in the hated Charles James Fox taking power. The king was capable of decisive interference when necessary, as in the case of insisting on Henry William Majendie’s appointment as a residentiary of St Paul’s in 1797. ((See BL, Add. MS 35405, fo. 286, 26 Nov. 1797. Majendie had been tutor to the King’s third son.)) However, it is to Pretyman that any historian of the late Hanoverian Church should turn in order to understand the mechanisms which underlay the appointment of clergy to the crown’s preferments. Trinity was an early and significant opportunity for Pretyman to use his influence as Pitt’s ecclesiastical adviser.

The death of William Digby, dean of Durham, in September 1788 not only involved the necessity of filling the vacant deanery but also encompassed the mastership of Trinity College, Cambridge. Pitt lost no time in writing to his bishop:

I have written to the King, proposing to give it to the Bishop of Peterborough, which He will of course agree to. – A decision must therefore be taken respecting Trinity College – Pray let me know what you think will be best. – [William] Preston seems out of the Question unless the Bishop of Peterborough keeps Trinity till there is some Vacancy on the Bench. ((ESRO, HA119 T108/42, [Sept. 1788]. Preston, a Trinity man, was bishop of Killala (1784) and subsequently of Ferns (1787); he died Apr. 1789.))

George III did accept Pitt’s recommendation and John Hinchliffe, bishop of Peterborough and master of Trinity, who had already been offered and refused the deanery of St Paul’s, received a coveted piece of crown preferment. The bishop’s promotion had been eagerly sought by his patron, the third duke of Grafton. In November 1786 the duke wrote to Pitt soliciting the see of London for Hinchliffe, in case of a vacancy, adding that the bishop’s mastership ‘would be vacated’. ((TNA, PRO 30/8/139, fo. 177: 28 Nov. 1786.)) The duke wrote further in November 1787, on hearing of the death of Robert Lowth, bishop of London, to request this bishopric once more for his client. ((See TNA, PRO 30/8/139, fo. 187: 4 Nov. 1787.)) This too failed and Grafton’s next letter did not hide his disappointment, while he told the minister that ‘To be disengaged from the Mastership of Trinity is more the Bishop’s wish, than the translation from his present See.’ ((TNA, PRO 30/8/139, fo. 191: 30 Apr. 1788.)) Hinchliffe himself had also told the minister of his willingness to give up Trinity. ((See TNA, PRO 30/8/145, fo. 87: 23 Jan. 1788. However, the bishop had also sought a translation to the bishopric of Worcester.))

A prominent latitudinarian, Hinchliffe had been raised to the bench by the duke of Grafton in 1769, and was a man whose theology and political opinions were not favoured by George III. ((See, e.g., Ditchfield, George III, p. 93.)) In a sermon to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in February 1776, the bishop of Peterborough had told his listeners of his hopes for the kind of religion which should be preached by the missionaries. He gave them a latitudinarian manifesto: ‘Nor let it ever be objected to our national church, that we mean to inculcate a narrow spirit of forms and ceremonies, in preference to the more essential substance of our holy religion.’ ((John Hinchliffe, A sermon preached before the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts; at their anniversary meeting in the parish church of St Mary-le-Bow on Friday February 16 1776 (London, 1776), p. 15.)) Hinchliffe’s religious outlook had also been allied to opposition to the policies of the king and government of Lord North, most notably over the conduct of the American War – opposition which he vocally expressed in the House of Lords. Bearing in mind that his theological and political positions would not have endeared the bishop of Peterborough to his monarch, the true reasons behind such preferment were not altruistic and explain why Pitt knew he could take the king’s acquiescence as read.

What emerged was a double strategy; the first involved taking the opportunity to remove Hinchliffe from Trinity College, Cambridge, where he had been master since 1768. Trinity was seen by the 1780s as in need of new direction and reform, with the bishop seen as a hindrance, as he was regarded as having neglected college business through his political activities. ((Gascoigne, Cambridge, p. 224.)) Hinchliffe’s willingness to relinquish this appointment was a godsend. George III’s hopes for Trinity, through the removal of Hinchliffe, were clear from his reply to Pitt’s request on 20 September 1788:

It is impossible to propose an Arrangement more proper on the Death of the late worthy Dean of Durham, than the offering it to the Bishop of Peterborough, and I trust Mr Pitt’s real love for Cambridge will make him recommend for Head of Trinity the person who is likely to enforce discipline and Learning. ((TNA, PRO 30/8/103, fo. 308.))

The other ideas behind the appointment were political and practical. As Pitt explained to George III, the bishop’s patron, the duke of Grafton would find the arrangement ‘in the highest degree gratifying’ and would also ‘be the means of preventing any application for his farther advancement on the Bench’. ((The later correspondence of George III, ed. A. Aspinall (5 vols, Cambridge, 1962–70), I, 395: 20 Sept. 1788.)) As has been seen, Grafton had been keen for his episcopal client to receive some mark of preferment. Pitt’s fellow MP for Cambridge University, the earl of Euston, was Grafton’s heir and a political supporter. More significantly, Pitt wanted to encourage Grafton, a former first minister, to take up a post within government. He had offered him a place in 1783 and in 1788. He obviously still hoped to entice the duke to accept, as he would invite him into the cabinet again in 1790. Hinchliffe’s appointment would be seen as honouring his patron, while also ensuring that the bishop of Peterborough would not receive a translation. At least this way, Pitt could remove any chance of offending Grafton or Euston – a clever stroke of realpolitik.

This left the problem of the disposal of Trinity College. One candidate was Richard Watson, the son of a Westmorland clergyman, who had been educated at Trinity and had risen to become regius professor of divinity at Cambridge and bishop of Llandaff. ((Regius professor since 1771.)) Watson’s reputation was well known to the political world, from the king downwards. In the posthumous Anecdotes (1818) Watson recounted that George III believed the rumours ‘of my being a favourer of republican principles’. ((See [Richard Watson], Anecdotes of the life of Richard Watson, bishop of Llandaff (2 vols, London, 1818), I, 313–14. The bishop refuted such accusations, see Richard Watson, A charge delivered to the clergy of the diocese of Landaff, June 1791 (London, 1792), p. 5n.)) Watson, like Hinchliffe, was a prominent latitudinarian. Writing in his anonymous persona as A christian whig, he asserted that the Church’s Thirty-Nine Articles ‘no longer’ influenced the clergy ‘either in their Belief or Composition, farther than each Individual finds them conformable to his own Interpretation of Scripture’. Watson further acknowledged ‘no Criterion of Orthodoxy but Scripture’. (([Richard Watson], A letter to the honourable house of commons, respecting the petition for relief in the matter of subscription (London, 1772), pp. 20, 33.)) He also openly advocated full toleration for dissenters. For example, in a sermon of 1776, he argued that ‘the time, however, may come when the wisdom of government may grant full relief’ to the dissenters as a reward for their ‘loyalty and zeal for the protestant succession’. ((Richard Watson, A sermon preached before the University of Cambridge on October 25 1776, being the anniversary of his majesty’s accession to the throne (Cambridge, 1776), p. 13.)) He was also prepared to go further and in a Charge of 1791 argued that when ‘Unitarians and Trinitarians … Churchmen and Dissenters speak ill, and think worse of each other’ they miss ‘the main points in which they all agree’. ((Richard Watson, A charge delivered to the clergy of the diocese of Landaff, June, 1791 (London, 1792), p. 16.)) The comment on Unitarians was especially surprising, when Joseph Priestley’s beliefs were openly ridiculed by high-church Anglicans. ((See [George Horne], A letter to the Reverend Doctor Priestley. By an undergraduate (Oxford, 1787).))

Promoted to the see of Llandaff in 1782, Watson had shown his independent line by voting in favour of the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in 1787. He had come forward and wrote to Pitt, on 9 February 1788, expressing a desire to secure preferment sufficient to allow him to resign his regius professorship. Stressing his regard for Pitt, he further assured the minister ‘that I have never been an Enemy to Mr Pitt either in his private or public capacity, tho’ I have had occasion on some political points to differ in Opinion from him’. ((TNA, PRO 30/7/3, fo. 149.)) Pitt obviously took this letter into consideration and sent a remarkable letter to Pretyman on 25 September 1788 with regard to the mastership:

It has struck me, in considering this Thing over, whether it would be risking too much to give it to the Bishop of Landaff. We think exactly alike about Him; but if there was a probability of his being secured by it, He seems in some respects fit for the Situation and a Bishop is always something gained – At all Events I am clear I should if possible take a Trinity Man. ((ESRO, HA119 T108/42.))

Watson would have been a risk, but the bishop was undoubtedly a man of great talents and would be a welcome addition to Pitt’s supporters, and both minister and bishop clearly regarded him as a potential master of Trinity. The king had made it clear to Pitt the kind of person he wanted to see as master. Watson was far from those royal ambitions. Indeed, Watson’s Anecdotes suggested that, although Pitt was happy to place Watson in the mastership, it was George III who had vetoed these discussions. Watson’s close friend, the duke of Grafton, told him in 1807 that Pitt had seen Watson as a suitable master of Trinity ‘but said that a certain person would not hear of it’. Watson remarked of the King, with some bitterness, ‘I ought to say with St Paul, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.’ (([Watson], Anecdotes, II, 329–30. See also Timothy Brain, ‘Some aspects of the life and works of Richard Watson, bishop of Llandaff (unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1982) p. 264.))

Thus, church opinions could be put to one side as Pitt and Pretyman were prepared to put Watson in Hinchliffe’s place – clearly a rigid attitude did not always exist towards latitudinarianism at the end of the eighteenth century. This flexibility and willingness to think strategically was especially remarkable when the importance of securing Trinity to the administration can be seen in a very candid letter from Pretyman to William Wilberforce of 2 September 1788. Wilberforce had put forward the claims of his client, Isaac Milner, to the mastership. The letter was dated before the discussion on Watson quoted above, which would explain the doubts mentioned over finding a Trinity man. Significantly, the letter also reveals the degree of Pitt’s control over the university at this time:

I am clear that the College would be better pleased if a person belonging to their own Society were made Master, & it is at present Pitt’s object to find such a person who is suited to the situation. Whether he will succeed in his Endeavors I much doubt. He is aware that it is a matter of great Importance to his own Interest. I agree with you that he would have the compleat command of the University if he had a Master of Trinity who was attached to him, & who had that degree of Influence which every Head ought to have in his own college.

Pretyman agreed that Milner was ‘the only person at Cambridge whom he could bring forward with credit … so barren is the University of literary merit, or indeed of any Character eminently good’. The only serious bar to this promotion was that Milner was not from Trinity, although Pretyman added that ‘if a foreigner must be taken Milner’s appointment would I should think be more satisfactory than that of any other person.’ ((Bodleian Library, Wilberforce MS d.13, fos 350–1.))

Cambridge had come a long way since its heyday of latitudinarianism in the earlier Hanoverian period. However, there had still been a hope that Watson would make an ideal master of Trinity and bring this prelate into the heart of government plans for Cambridge. It could of course be reasoned that Pitt’s letter to Pretyman was an attempt to silence Watson and ensure his support, and that the needs of Trinity were to be subordinated to political considerations. Watson’s independence was well known and it is likely that both Pitt and Pretyman realized that his views could never be fully curbed, and yet he was still regarded as a serious contender. It was natural that they hoped that the bishop would become a regular supporter through this preferment, but such an outcome was by no means guaranteed. Further, a cynical interpretation does not stand up in the light of Pretyman’s letter to Wilberforce, which showed the importance of Trinity to Pitt. Watson, a man of great talent, intimately connected to the college, would have been a remarkable choice for Trinity.

Watson’s latitudinarianism was becoming a rarity on the bench; indeed, after Hinchliffe’s death in 1794, Watson was left as ‘the sole surviving Latitudinarian’ amongst the bishops. ((Mather, High church prophet, p. 212.)) Watson himself remarked that he ‘possessed not the talents of adulation, intrigue, and versatility of principle by which laymen as well as churchmen, usually in courts ascend the ladder of ambition’. (([Watson], Anecdotes, II, 278–9.)) Perhaps he had a point. Watson would publish works supportive of government, but these never led to further promotion. ((See Richard Watson, A defence of revealed religion, in two sermons preached in the cathedral church of Landaff; and a charge delivered to the clergy of that diocese in June, 1795 (2nd edn, London, 1797).)) The most notable of these is his Address to the people of Great Britain (1798). In this book, the bishop of Llandaff came out in support of the war but then propagated arguments that the king or Pitt most likely did not want to hear by defending the dissenters and those who advocated parliamentary reform, while downplaying the dangers from those who believed in republicanism. ((See Richard Watson, An address to the people of Great Britain (London, 1798), pp. 11, 16–19.)) In the end, Watson’s latitudinarianism and his independent political line had apparently made him ineligible to receive patronage in the eyes of the king, and he died as bishop of Llandaff, with no further preferment, in 1816.

The man chosen to be master of Trinity was Thomas Postlethwaite, a member of that society. Samuel Ryder Weston, a Cambridge client of Philip Yorke, MP for Cambridgeshire, wrote to his patron in June 1789, stating that ‘Mr Pitt could not have established his interest in Trinity so effectually as by giving them Postlethwayte for their Master.’ ((BL, Add. MS 35405, fo. 172: 16 Jun. 1789.)) On Postlethwaite’s death in 1798 a new master was appointed, who was certainly a proven defender of church and state, William Lort Mansel. Mansel had played his own part in combating radicalism in the shape of the Foxite whig, Francis Russell, fifth duke of Bedford. When the duke addressed a political meeting in Cambridge in the 1790s, Mansel made a powerful speech against him. An eyewitness, Clement Carlyon, reported that Pitt ‘thought the affair of so much consequence, that Dr Mansell, the triumphant orator, was soon after made Master of Trinity College.’ ((Clement Carlyon, Early years and late reflections (4 vols, London, 1856), I, 51. See Gascoigne, Cambridge, p. 219. Mansel was later bishop of Bristol (1808).)) Indeed, in soliciting preferment in April 1797, Mansel had informed the minister of his work as a magistrate and his loyalty as a staunch Pittite. ((See TNA, PRO 30/8/155, fo. 242: 11 Apr. 1797.)) Mansel was appointed on 25 May 1798. Pitt and Pretyman had obviously discussed the reception of the news, as the minister wrote to the bishop on 30 May, saying ‘I am very glad Indeed of the Account you send me from Trinity.’ ((ESRO, HA119 T108/42.)) The college had most assuredly been secured to Pitt and Pretyman.

George Pretyman and Isaac Milner

Another important recipient of Pitt and Pretyman’s largesse was Isaac Milner, mentioned above in the context of the mastership of Trinity. Milner had been forced to leave school at ten and had become apprenticed as a weaver. Helped by his brother, Milner had gone to Queens’ College, Cambridge, and had become the first Jacksonian professor of natural philosophy in 1782. ((Jacksonian professor until 1792.)) In terms of this paper, his importance was as a leading evangelical. Milner argued that Britain needed ‘The revival of pure Christianity which took place at the Reformation’, otherwise ‘we shall, in no great length of time, be found to have let go the substance, and retained only the shadow of Protestantism.’ ((Sermon of 30 Jan. 1807 from Isaac Milner, Sermons (2 vols, London, 1820), I, 22–3.)) Milner argued passionately for his belief in the doctrine of justification by faith. In praising the beliefs of his brother, in his Practical sermons by the late Rev. Joseph Milner (1801) he advocated this doctrine of justification and lavished his approbation for the Church’s eleventh article ‘Of justification of men’. He wrote approvingly of his brother’s belief that ‘in justifying faith, the true believer received Christ in all his offices, as King, Priest, and Prophet’. Through this doctrine, a believer ‘committed himself wholly’ to Christ ‘and depended entirely on him, not only for pardon, peace of conscience and eternal life, but also for deliverance from the dominion of sin, and for all holy affections, – in one word, for a NEW HEART.’ As for Good Works, Milner noted his brother was ‘pointedly distinct and guarded…in assigning to the fruits their right place in the Christian scheme; – that is, in shewing that they are the evidence of a vital union with the Saviour; not the ground of acceptance before God.’ Milner also criticized opponents, dismissing their ‘stale, hackneyed objections of preaching Faith only, and of telling men that, if they did but believe, they might continue to be as wicked as they pleased, and still go to Heaven, were so unfounded in truth and had been so often answered and confuted’. ((Isaac Milner, Practical Sermons … to which is prefixed an account of the life and character of the author (1st pub., 1801; Cambridge, 1804), pp. xxx. See Tomline, Elements, pp. 170–2, for a propagation of this view.))

Milner’s college, under the presidency of the latitudinarian Robert Plumptre, had gained a reputation for heterodoxy. ((Mary Milner, The life of Isaac Milner, DD, FRS (London, 1842), p. 4.)) Milner was ‘not only a committed evangelical but a stern opponent of the kind of anti-trinitarian heterodoxy which had flourished in the university in the preceding decades’. ((Ditchfield, Evangelical revival, p. 107.)) Barbara Melaas-Swanson has argued that Milner was the college’s obvious choice for president. ((Barbara Melaas-Swanson, ‘The life and thought of the very reverend Dr Isaac Milner and his contribution to the Evangelical revival in England’, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Durham, 1993, p. 87.)) This post would be the stepping-stone to crown patronage. He was elected unopposed as president of Queens’ in succession to Plumptre, who died in October 1788. ((See Peter Searby, A history of the University of Cambridge. Volume III: 1750–1870 (Cambridge, 1997), p. 326; John Twigg, A history of Queens’ College, Cambridge 1448–1986 (Woodbridge, 1987), p. 159; Melaas-Swanson, ‘Isaac Milner’, p. 87.))

Isaac Milner had played a leading role in the conversion of William Wilberforce to evangelicalism, during two trips on the continent, notably on their second journey of 1785. ((I am most grateful to Gareth Atkins for his insights into Wilberforce and the Evangelical clergy.)) Wilberforce, as Milner’s patron, was keen to secure some preferment, as seen in Pretyman’s letter regarding Trinity in September 1788. Wilberforce continued to press his suit, for example he noted in his diary for 10 June 1790: ‘Travelled on all day – calling at Bishop of Lincoln’s – talked about Milner.’ ((Robert Isaac Wilberforce and Samuel Wilberforce, The life of William Wilberforce (5 vols, London, 1838), I, 271)) The deanery of Carlisle was soon secured in late 1791, through the good offices of Pretyman, for which Milner sent his effusive thanks to the bishop on 19 November. ((See Cambridge University Library [CUL], Pitt Papers, MS 6958 (5), fo. 1016. See also Milner, Isaac Milner, p. 71.)) Wilberforce, an intimate friend of Pitt and staunch political loyalist, would expect to see his clients rewarded with patronage. However, this affair is of far more significance than a political ally receiving government patronage.

Melaas-Swanson argued that Milner helped secure this deanery by writing to Pitt in late 1791 downplaying his evangelicalism. She saw this subterfuge as vital, in order to overcome Pretyman’s bias. ((See Melaas-Swanson, ‘Isaac Milner’, p. 124.)) Milner’s letter to Pitt of 7 November 1791 certainly made no mention of his theological opinions. Milner expressed his wish to have time to produce a major philosophical work and appealed to the minister’s ‘regard for science’ which he remembered ‘to have been told long ago by one, who had a good opportunity of knowing [i.e. Pretyman], that at a very early period of life, he discovered a strong taste for Algebra & some other abstruse parts of science.’ ((TNA, PRO 30/8/158, fo. 197.))

However, the desire to encourage Milner’s work in rooting out those who held unorthodox religious or dangerous political opinions would undoubtedly be of great importance. As with Watson, Milner’s religious beliefs would surely have been well known to George Pretyman. As John Twigg argued, in 1786 Milner ‘nailed his colours to the [evangelical] mast … when he kept his act for the degree of BD on the theme of justification by faith alone.’ ((Twigg, Queens’ College, p. 173. See also Searby, University of Cambridge, p. 326.)) It is very likely that the Cambridge educated Pretyman, a personal friend of Milner’s, would be aware of such theological opinions. Melaas-Swanson is quite possibly performing an injustice to Pretyman, a man whose correspondence indicated that he was well informed.

Thus it is possible to see Pretyman ignoring Milner’s Calvinism in order to ensure that the work of making Queens’ favourable to the government in terms of its religious and political outlook could be achieved. Indeed, as early as September 1788, this fact was recognised by Pretyman in the letter to Wilberforce quoted above, which noted the importance of securing Trinity for the administration. As this was written when Robert Plumptre was still alive, it supports Melaas-Swanson’s argument that Milner was the expected successor, and suggests that Pretyman was aware of the intricacies of the politics of this college. If Pretyman had doubts of securing Queens’, a major centre of old Cambridge latitudinarianism, to the cause of political and theological orthodoxy, he would surely have mentioned this in his letter. Further, although Plumptre died on 29 October 1788, his demise was not a surprise, as Henry Gunning noted that in 1787, Plumptre’s death ‘was daily expected’. ((Gunning, Reminiscences, I, 261.)) Milner’s expected succession also gives another reason why Pitt and Pretyman really wanted to give the mastership of Trinity to a member of that college. Although Pretyman lavished praise on Milner (and such language would be expected in a letter to his patron, an intimate of Pitt), the bishop surely had his eye on him as a future president of Queens’. If the deanery was meant to be an encouragement, Milner did not disappoint.

It should also be noted that the link of personal friendship between Pretyman and Milner cannot be ignored as a factor in the promotion. This is demonstrated vividly in Milner’s letter to the bishop of 7 November 1791. It makes clear that Milner believed he had been recommended to the deanery solely for reasons of friendship – the two men had been well known to each other as members of Cambridge’s Hyson Club (as both had been ex-wranglers). In this letter, Milner also portrayed himself as totally dependent on Pretyman’s good will and he hoped that the bishop would ‘throw in a word concerning the particularity of my case, the feelings of an Invalid & the pressure of such circumstances’. ((CUL, MS 6958 (5), fo. 1017.)) Thus ties of friendship did play their part, but it must be the case that this preferment was primarily thought of as encouragement in the work of reforming Queens’ College. Pitt and Pretyman were aware of the need of securing Cambridge and neither the first minister nor his adviser would necessarily have spelt out their desires to Milner so crudely.

Milner soon set about his work of reforming Queens’. ((See Melaas-Swanson, ‘Isaac Milner’, p. 90.)) Indeed, in a short while, Milner would transform Queens’ College into ‘an Evangelical stronghold’ by filling tutorships with his own candidates. ((Searby, University of Cambridge, p. 326.)) He had a further very important opportunity to demonstrate his use to the government in the university over the expulsion of William Frend. Frend had been educated at Christ’s College but had moved to Jesus where he had become a college tutor. In 1787 he had converted to unitarianism and the following year proclaimed his beliefs in his Thoughts on subscription to religious tests (1788) disparaging Trinitarian doctrine and arguing that ‘Jesus Christ was a man like ourselves, sin only excepted, through whom by the free gift of God, those, who are obedient to his precepts, shall obtain everlasting life. ((William Frend, Thoughts on subscription to religious tests, particularly that required by the University of Cambridge of candidates for the degree of Bachelor of Arts, In a letter to the Rev. H. W. Coulthurst BD fellow of Sidney College and member of the Caput Senatus (St Ives, 1788), p. 26.)) This work resulted in Frend being removed from his tutorship. After briefly travelling on the continent, he returned to Cambridge where his troubles started in earnest. ((See Arthur Gray and Frederick Brittain, A history of Jesus College, Cambridge (rev. edn, Cambridge, 1988), pp. 119–37.)) In February 1793 he published a pamphlet Peace and union in which he advocated political reforms, the abolition of the Test and Corporation Acts and urged both the opponents and supporters of the status quo in Britain to come together, ‘firmly united to preserve an improving constitution, and to promote the publick happiness’. ((William Frend, Peace and union recommended to the associated bodies of republicans and anti-republicans (2nd edn, Cambridge, 1793), p. 61.)) However, although he was far from advocating a repeat of the events in France for Britain, in the political atmosphere of the 1790s, this pamphlet, published shortly after the start of the French Terror and the execution of Louis XVI, was not likely to escape serious criticism. ((See Frend, Peace and union, pp. 5–6.)) Indeed, Frend himself gave plenty of ammunition to his opponents. He denigrated the Church of England’s liturgy as ‘derived from the mass book of Rome, over which if it has in some respects a manifest superiority, “it is very far from that standard of purity in its arrangement, language, or doctrine, which is required from such compositions.”’ ((Frend, Peace and union, p. 41.)) Frend also criticized the effects of hostilities with France on the poor and refused to condemn the execution of Louis XVI (referred to as ‘Louis Capet’), arguing that ‘It is, in short, no business of ours, and if all the crowned heads on the continent are taken off, it is no business of ours.’ ((Frend, Peace and union, p. 64.))

James Yorke, bishop of Ely, the visitor of Jesus College, read the pamphlet and believed it contained ‘obnoxious principles’. However, he believed that the question of what to do with Frend required ‘grave & regular consideration’. ((Jesus College, Cambridge, Archives, Master & Fellows 2, 1775–1850: J. Yorke to William Mathew, John Plampin, Thomas Bayley, and Thomas Castley, 12 Mar. 1793.)) On 3 April 1793 the master and a majority of the fellows decided against Frend and judged that his pamphlet contained passages which ‘have a tendency to prejudice the clergy in the eyes of the laity’ and ‘a tendency to degrade the publick esteem [of] the doctrines and rites of the Church of England’. In addition the pamphlet was judged to disturb society and damage the interests of the college. ((Jesus College, Cambridge, Archives, Master & Fellows 2: judgment contained in Frend’s appeal to the bishop of Ely, 20 Apr. 1793.))

Isaac Milner, serving that year as vice-chancellor, did not stand idly by and he was prepared to play a full part in the downfall of Frend. On 3 May 1793 Frend was summoned to the vice-chancellor’s court. He was condemned for his pamphlet and on 30 May, Frend was further called upon in the vice-chancellor’s court to retract. On his refusal Milner, with the majority of the college heads, banished Frend from the university. In his judgment, Milner took great pains to assert that his actions were of great importance to the university and nation and stressed that Frend was ‘well qualified to make impressions upon the unsuspecting minds of youth’. ((Milner, Isaac Milner, p. 90)) Milner then went further and proclaimed that his services had preserved the students at Cambridge from corrupting influences which could damage ‘the future support and ornaments both of the civil and ecclesiastical establishments of England’. ((Milner, Isaac Milner, p. 97. Frend would later attack Pretyman – see William Frend, Animadversions on the elements of christian theology by the Reverend George Pretyman DD, FRS, lord bishop of Lincoln; in a series of letters addressed to his lordship (London, 1800).))

Arthur Gray and Frederick Brittain detected a note of cynicism in Milner’s actions, arguing that it ‘was pretty well understood that he desired to stand well with the Ministry, and after the trial took pains to impress on Pitt that the expulsion of Frend had caused the downfall of Jacobinism in the University’. ((Gray and Brittain, Jesus College, p. 129.)) This cynicism has been echoed by Peter Searby who noted that Milner’s ambition for Trinity ‘made him keen to show his loyalism’. ((Searby, University of Cambridge, p. 417. The subject of Trinity College had appeared in Milner’s correspondence as early as 1788. See Bodl., MS\Wilberforce c. 47, fo. 116: Milner to Wilberforce, 6 Dec. 1788.)) However, if this was the reasons behind Milner’s actions, it came to nothing as no further church appointment was given to him, and he would never be made master of Trinity.

In June 1796, Wilberforce was writing to Pretyman attempting to secure a residentiaryship of St Paul’s for Milner, as his health was suffering from his journeys to Carlisle. Milner had informed his patron that the bishop of Lincoln had expressed himself to him ‘in very friendly Terms’ which thus confirmed Wilberforce’s ‘intention of throwing out these Ideas to your Lordship & begging any information counsel or assistance with which you can furnish me’. ((CKS, U1590 S5 04/12: 30 Jun. 1796.)) Milner though had to be content with being elected Lucasian professor of mathematics in 1798. Pitt and Pretyman may have shared a genuine belief that Milner’s good work had been already amply rewarded with the deanery of Carlisle – although the most likely explanation is that Milner’s brand of evangelicalism barred his chances of higher promotion.

Wilberforce and Pitt had their political differences over the French war in the 1790s, although they remained friends. ((See Wilberforce and Wilberforce, Life of Wilberforce, II, 71.)) Wilberforce believed he still had influence, and in 1797 felt free to give Pitt advice on church patronage. On 1 August he advised Pitt, on the verge of making an episcopal nomination, that he should ‘consider well whom you appoint’. Wilberforce further added his belief that the minister should appoint a bishop who could adequately oversee the clergy, arguing that if they ‘would be brought to know & to do their Duty, both the Religion & civil state of this Country would receive a principle of new life’. ((TNA, PRO 30/8/189, fo. 175: 1 Aug. 1797. The letter concerned the vacancy at Chichester.)) This interference could be seen as an unwelcome interference by the bishop of Lincoln. However, the appointment of William Lort Mansel to Trinity in 1798 was significant. Mansel’s new post was not to Wilberforce’s taste and he complained to one of his correspondents in May 1798. The letter shows the general disillusionment of the Evangelical Wilberforce with the distribution of ecclesiastical preferment – and a clear moment of annoyance at Pitt and Pretyman. He wrote that Mansel’s appointment was ‘I must say, by no means such as I could approve.’ He further noted that ‘Various Circumstances & Considerations concur to render me less & less disposed to ask favours of Administn.’ ((Bodl., MS Wilberforce d. 15/2, fo. 220: Wilberforce to Dr Frewen, 16 May 1798.)) Wilberforce’s estrangement from Pretyman and others on the bench was illustrated by F. C. Mather, who noted that while he was researching his Practical view Wilberforce ‘admitted to a desire to conceal’ from Samuel Horsley, bishop of Rochester and dean of Westminster, the volumes he was using at Westminster. Additionally he asked Beilby Porteus, bishop of London, rather than Pretyman as dean of St Paul’s, for permission to use the cathedral library. Mather saw this as evidence of ‘the mistrust existing between Wilberforce and the High Church prelates over his writing the aggressively evangelical Practical View’. ((Mather, High church prophet, p. 236. The bishop of Rochester traditionally held the deanery of Westminster in commendam.)) Indeed, Wilberforce himself, writing in 1800, confided that until one meeting with Pitt, he ‘never till then knew how deep a prejudice his [Pitt’s] mind had conceived against the class of clergy to whom he knew me to be attached’. Wilberforce also wrote that ‘the prejudice arose out of the confidence he reposed in the Bishop of Lincoln’. ((Wilberforce and Wilberforce, Life of Wilberforce, II, 364. This is contained in a private paper concerning parliamentary proceedings against the itinerant preachers; Wilberforce viewed this as a threat to the toleration act, and saw Pretyman’s hand behind it (pp. 361, 363). See also Gunning, Reminiscences, II, 280.))

By 1799, he was still seeking preferment for Isaac Milner, but only if the dean of Carlisle had reasonable chances of a long life – friendship was not to be put before the needs of the faith. He wrote to Milner’s physician, William Hey, on 27 July 1799, knowing that the dean had recently seen him. Wilberforce told Hey that he ‘had a Wish to try to remove him [Milner] to the Deanery of York from that of Carlisle’. However, he asked Hey if Milner was likely to live long enough to enjoy the deanery, as Wilberforce frankly acknowledged that he ‘might not be able to supply the next Vacancy’. If Milner were to die early in post ‘the Injury might be great to the Interest of Religion … from putting in a man whose Life in the Businesslike phrase, was worth only a few years purchase’. ((Bodl., MS Wilberforce d. 15/2, fo. 168.))

This letter showed that Wilberforce’s requests could still get a hearing from Pitt. ((See, e.g., CUL, MS 6958 (13), fos 2537, 2554 (26 Oct., 14 Dec. 1799).)) However, Milner was to receive no further preferment and died as dean of Carlisle and president of Queens’ in 1820. Milner himself was undoubtedly unaware of Wilberforce’s letter to Hey and only had a sense of bitterness towards Pitt, telling his patron in February 1806 that he believed that ‘the domineering spirit of Bishops &c &c … had faster hold of P’s mind than you had.’ ((Bodl., MS Wilberforce c. 47, fo. 142, 10 Feb. 1806.)) It would not take much to see in this comment a far from subtle criticism of Pretyman and reflected his own patron’s failure to sustain a successful connection with the bishop of Lincoln. Wilberforce’s attempt at interference over the disposal of Chichester in 1797, and his hostility to appointments of the calibre of Mansel would surely not have endeared him to the bishop of Lincoln. However, Wilberforce’s position amongst Evangelicals and his Practical view with its attacks on the established clergy and its views on ‘faith’ surely go a long way to explaining Pretyman’s wariness of Milner’s patron As Gunning wrote in 1854, Pitt maintained ‘a rooted dislike of what was called the “Evangelical Party”’ – a rooted dislike that was undoubtedly the work of his adviser, George Pretyman. ((Gunning, Reminiscences, I, 280.))

Peter Peckard and the deanery of Peterborough

We have seen two case studies intimately connected to the great theological issues of the late Hanoverian period. It is also important to see how Cambridge patronage was linked to Pitt’s political considerations as MP for the university. The clearest illustration of this is in the surprising appointment of a cleric well known for heterodoxy, Peter Peckard, master of Magdalene, to the deanery of Peterborough in 1792. In this instance, the appointment to a deanery had nothing to do with theology, as Peckard was a significant Pitt supporter at the university.

Peckard, the son of a cleric, had been educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He had become master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1781. He was a man who joined the unitarian Society for Promoting Knowledge of the Scriptures ((See Ditchfield, ‘Ecclesiastical policy under Lord North’, in Church of England, ed. Walsh, Haydon and Taylor, p. 231.)) and was described by John Gascoigne as ‘liberal to the point of heterodoxy’ in terms of religion. ((Gascoigne, Cambridge, p. 224; see pp. 222–4 on Peckard’s career at Cambridge.)) An anonymous 1776 work showed the depths of his religious radicalism. Perhaps one of the most contentious phrases was his hope that ‘An Athanasian, an Arian, a Socinian, a Lutheran, a Calvinist, an Arminian’, although separated by disagreement ‘in some particulars’, could ‘mutually advance toward each other’. This could be achieved by ‘disregarding that formal species of external uniformity the object of human impositions, the object of subscriptions’ – in other words the Church’s Thirty-Nine Articles. (([Peter Peckard], Subscription. Or historical extracts humbly inscribed to the right reverend the bishops. And, to the petitioners; shewing the impropriety of their petition (London, 1776), p. 181.))

Peckard’s name emerged in discussions between Pitt and Pretyman in February 1792. The two men were discussing the promotion of Charles Manners-Sutton, dean of Peterborough to the bishopric of Norwich, vacated by George Horne’s death the previous month. The bishop wrote to the Minister:

For the Deanery of Peterborough you have applications from Dr Peckard & Dr [Everard] Buckworth: the latter has considerable Interest in the City of Lincoln which has always [been] exerted in your favor, & has also a very large estate in the County; & moreover he is willing to give you for it a Prebend of Canterbury, which is, I believe of greater value than the Deanery. You best know whether you can afford to give such a piece of Preferment to Dr Peckard; if you cannot, I hope that you will oblige Dr Buckworth whom I know to be a very respectable man. ((CKS, U1590 S5 34: 5 Feb. 1792. Everard Buckworth, son of a lawyer, educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, LLD (1768), prebend of Lincoln (1773) and Canterbury (1775); died 3 Oct. 1792.))

Charles Manners-Sutton was indeed promoted to the see of Norwich, freeing up his post at Peterborough. The bishop’s caution over Peckard’s promotion was apparent – but despite these reservations this heterodox cleric would indeed be promoted to the deanery of Peterborough.

John Walsh argued that the deanery was ‘a surprising appointment for an elderly heretic’. He further stated that ‘Government prejudice against notorious liberals … was strong, and clerics of Peckard’s type were usually denied the richer prizes of Crown patronage.’ ((John Walsh and Ronald Hyam, Peter Peckard, liberal churchman and anti-slave trade campaigner (Oxford, 1998), p. 14.)) However, the motivation behind this appointment was to reward political loyalty. There was also no danger of Peckard’s theology causing harm to the university. Magdalene, which flourished under Peckard, was Cambridge’s ‘first major centre of evangelicalism’. ((Gascoigne, Cambridge, p. 224.)) Further, John Gascoigne argued that Peckard’s influence within the university and his college also ‘appears to have diminished’ in this period. ((Gascoigne, Cambridge, p. 223. Peckard had also been vice-chancellor of Cambridge in 1784.)) Walsh was somewhat kinder to the master of Magdalene, noting that his ‘Latitudinarianism fortunately proved broad enough to comprehend even Evangelical Moderate Calvinism.’ ((John Walsh, ‘The Magdalene Evangelicals’, Church Quarterly Review, CLIX (1958), 504.)) Indeed, Peckard and Fellows enjoyed a harmonious relationship.

An analysis of Peckard’s letters to Pitt in the Chatham papers reveals the history behind this promotion and explains why Pitt and Pretyman moved to give him a significant piece of crown patronage. In November 1787, Peckard had come forward seeking preferment from Pitt, stressing that he had ‘endeavour’d’ to serve the minister ‘from principle’. ((TNA, PRO 30/8/165, fo. 156: 12 Nov. 1787.)) He wrote again in June 1789 stressing his loyalty politically to Pitt, and this time asked the minister to approach Bishop Hinchliffe for a stall in Peterborough cathedral. He believed that Hinchliffe would be happy to accede, as he had recently received ‘magnificent preferment’ in the shape of the deanery of Durham, and would further be ready to acknowledge Peckard’s help to Lord Euston – heir to Hinchliffe’s patron, the duke of Grafton, at the last election. ((TNA, PRO 30/8/165, fo. 158: 9 June 1789.)) Peckard had stressed to Pitt his services as a political supporter in the university – he clearly felt that his potential influence as master of Magdalene entitled him to a mark of government approbation. He was to be proved correct in his assumption. Those clerics who were politically important would make sure these credentials were laid before Pitt. For example, Thomas Rennell, educated at King’s, and a future master of the Temple and dean of Winchester, was careful to preface a request for patronage with his willingness to support both Pitt and Lord Euston in the 1790 election contest at Cambridge University. ((See TNA, PRO 30/8/170, fo. 293: Rennell to Pitt, 11 Apr. 1790. He also used this letter to request the post of chaplain in ordinary to the king; Rennell was BA (1777), MA (Lit. Reg. 1779), DD (1794).))

Peckard’s requests were ignored – a clear breakdown in the Pitt and Pretyman partnership. When Pitt wrote to Peckard in 1790, requesting political support for the Cambridge University contest in the general election, Peckard responded by expressing his disappointment to the minister for not giving any reward for his past services. His letter of 16 March 1790 complained of his being ignored for preferment and told Pitt that ‘my situation prevents me from making any positive engagement’. ((TNA, PRO 30/8/165, fo. 160.)) The evidence for Peckard possessing some political clout at the university was confirmed by Pitt’s next action, as the minister moved quickly to resolve the situation, as a later letter from Peckard, dated September 1791, made clear. The minister had smoothed Peckard’s ruffled feathers and the master of Magdalene now took the opportunity to request the deanery of Peterborough, as he believed the present incumbent, Manners-Sutton, would soon be promoted. ((See TNA, PRO 30/8/165, fo. 164: 8 Sept. 1791)) It was in this context that Pretyman and Pitt discussed his candidacy. It should also be mentioned that Peckard was in his seventies, and, as John Walsh noted, his ‘tenure of the deanery turned out to be brief – as perhaps he and his patrons knew it would be.’ ((Walsh and Hyam, Peter Peckard, p. 14.)) Indeed, he died in December 1797.

Peckard could still be a thorn in the side of government. In February 1795, he would use a sermon at Peterborough cathedral to condemn the war with France and hope for a return to peace. ((See Peter Peckard, National crimes the cause of national punishments. A discourse deliver’d in the cathedral church of Peterborough on the fast-day, Feb: 25th 1795 (Peterborough, 1795).)) However, in a crucial respect he remained a loyal Pittite at the university. In November 1795 he wrote to Pitt warning him of a seditious pamphlet in circulation at the university attacking him as ‘a determined enemy to the Liberties of your Country’ and ‘no longer fit’ to be an MP for the university. Peckard did not know if Pitt would face opposition in the next election, but vowed that ‘I will serve you to the utmost of my power as much from affection as from gratitude.’ ((TNA, PRO 30/8/165, fo. 166: 27 Nov. 1795.)) Again, this phrase indicates that Peckard could wield influence at the university and, moreover, was an active supporter of the minister. It is hard to imagine that Pitt would have been so concerned to prefer Peckard had he not possessed influence which he actively engaged on the minister’s behalf. Peckard’s appointment had reinforced his sense of loyalty politically. Pitt and Pretyman had clearly calculated that promotion to the deanery at an advanced age could cause little harm to the chapter at Peterborough, while he was also only a titular head of his college – with Magdalene in the hands of evangelicals, there was no way in which Peckard could alter the theological complexion of the college.


Church patronage was part of the currency of influence in the Hanoverian period. The case studies discussed in this paper have revealed the complexities faced by those who had a hand in distributing such patronage as well as giving us an insight into the national theological and political trends of the late-eighteenth century. The need to appoint a master of Trinity College in 1788 had arisen through the promotion of the latitudinarian John Hinchliffe, bishop of Peterborough. On the surface, this would seem an unusual choice, as Hinchliffe’s religion and politics would not have endeared him to the king or to Pitt’s adviser, George Pretyman. However, the bestowal of the deanery of Durham, a rich piece of crown preferment, was designed to instigate reform at Trinity – as an influential college in Cambridge, one of the seminaries for the clergy, such reform would be of future benefit to church and state. The name of Richard Watson as a candidate for Trinity would seem rather surprising in this context. The importance of securing this college to administration had been spelt out by Pretyman to William Wilberforce. The fact that Pitt and Pretyman still contemplated Watson as a suitable master suggests that latitudinarians could still be considered for preferment. Watson’s independence was well known and perhaps it was hoped he would become a supporter. However, both were too wise simply to believe that Watson would jettison his views – he was genuinely seen as a suitable candidate for the mastership, as a man who could bring more rigour to a college seen in need of reform.

Isaac Milner’s theology was put to one side in the cause of rooting out heterodoxy at Queens’. As an encouragement, he received the deanery of Carlisle. Such encouragement was an inspired decision from the administration’s point of view as Milner did not disappoint by reforming Queens’ or showing his determination in expelling William Frend. However, for all of his work in promoting orthodoxy, Milner did not achieve more in the Church. His brand of evangelical christianity undoubtedly put paid to that and he, like Watson, had to languish in a relatively poor crown appointment – in his case, the deanery of Carlisle. This also reflected the failure of Milner’s patron, William Wilberforce, to influence either Pitt or Pretyman into giving his client further promotion.

Richard Watson’s theological and political views cost him the chance to achieve far greater things in the Church than a poor Welsh bishopric, a see normally seen as a stepping stone to a richer translation. It was an unfortunate end to the career of the last latitudinarian prelate. The increasing religious controversy over Calvinism, which eclipsed the earlier battle between orthodoxy and latitudinarianism, put paid to the chances of further preferment for the loyalist Isaac Milner. Pretyman would undoubtedly not wish to see such a prominent evangelical clergyman promoted too far in the Church, although Milner’s failure to achieve more can also be seen as a possible reflection on Wilberforce as much as on Milner. Wilberforce’s espousal of evangelicalism, his attack on the standards of the clergy and his attempts to give advice on church patronage would surely not have pleased Pretyman. Thus, a minor deanery was undoubtedly the most that Pretyman was prepared to give as a reward.

Pitt and Pretyman had successfully consolidated their interests at Cambridge in this period. At Trinity, the removal of Hinchliffe and the appointments of Posthlethwaite and, more significantly, Mansel brought the college within Pitt’s influence. With Milner, Pitt and Pretyman had encouraged him to go on the offensive against heterodoxy at Queens’ and in the university generally, which further strengthened their interests. The promotion of Peter Peckard, though, would seem to buck this orthodox theological trend. A man who held well-known radical theological views would not normally have expected to receive crown patronage in the era of Pitt and Pretyman. Peckard’s use was as a political supporter in the university. His promotion could not harm the Church. Although the appointment may seem on the surface like an exercise in cynical political jobbery, it is unthinkable that Pitt, and most especially Pretyman, would have placed Peckard in a situation where he could cause any damage to the Church. His age alone would prevent him from influencing the chapter at Peterborough, while his college was already a stronghold of orthodoxy. The use of a crown appointment to reward one of Pitt’s political loyalists was expected in the patronage system and would undoubtedly encourage others to maintain their support.

Reider Payne

Reider Payne obtained a PhD from University College London for his work on Anglican patronage networks. In 2010 his Ecclesiastical Patronage in England, 1770-1801: A Study of Four Family and Political Networks was published by the Edwin Mellon press.



Samuel Reveley [cce-id 6229], vicar of Crosby Ravensworth, Westmorland 1757-1809: an exiled cleric


Ralf Lawson Reveley researched the history of the Reveley family for twenty years, and published the American Reveleys in 1987. He always hoped to establish our English connection, but passed away before he had the opportunity. In 2001 I began the task for Ralf, and, thanks to Ted Relph of Crosby Ravensworth, I was able to find out about Samuel Reveley, Thomas Reveley’s young son who returned to England. The Record Offices in Whitehaven and Kendal, Paul Reveley and his nephew Graham Barnes, and my internet genealogy friends provided me with information, and I thank them all.

Sarah Reveley, 2006

Citation Information

To cite this article:
Sarah Reveley, ‘ Samuel Reveley [cce-id 6229], vicar of Crosby Ravensworth, Westmorland 1757-1809: an exiled cleric’, CCEd Online Journal N&Q 1, 2007.



Tombstone of Samuel Reveley

Fig. 1. Tombstone of Samuel Reveley in Crosby Ravensworth churchyard

The Rev. Samuel Reveley reached Crosby Ravensworth in Westmorland and the diocese of Carlisle in a most circuitous fashion.

Samuel was born in Cumberland in 1757, the youngest son of Thomas and Elizabeth Reveley. ((Cumbria Archive Service, Westmorland IGI.)) The Reveleys were in the iron trade at Low Mills near Egremont, ((Cumbria Record Office, Kendal, WDX264, Acc. no. 650, ‘Papers of the Reveley family’, uncatalogued [hereafter RF].)) close to the Cumbrian coast and in that part of the county then situated in the diocese of Chester and archdeaconry of Richmond, and decided that there were better opportunities in the colonies. Thomas and his children and their families left for America in 1765. ((Ralf Lawson Reveley, The Reveleys of America (1987) [hereafter RA].))

Samuel was the youngest of the family, only 8 when the family emigrated. Francis, 12, would be remembered by family on both sides of the ocean for his service in the American Revolution in the Maryland regiments. His brother John, 33, was an accomplished forge man and brought along his wife and son Joseph. Mary Reveley Purdy came without her husband. George came with his wife and two sons, and daughter Elizabeth was born in Virginia. William, 22, moved to Spotsylvania County, Virginia and became a well-to-do farmer. Samuel’s sisters Sarah and Nancy emigrated as well. ((RA.))

Some of the Reveleys stayed in England. James, 29, and his family stayed in Whitehaven, a bit further up the Cumbrian coast from Egremont, but still in the diocese of Chester. Elizabeth Reveley remained in England with her husband, George Hudson, a school teacher, but after George died in 1787, Elizabeth and her daughters joined her family in America. ((RA.))

The Reveleys made their home in Stafford County, Virginia, near the town of Falmouth. They called their home Woodend. It was near the Rappahannock River, across from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and upstream from George Washington’s mother’s home, Ferry Farm.

They were successful in the iron forge business, and in 1775, when it was time for Samuel to receive his formal education, he was sent back to England to attend school at St. Bees, situated in close proximity to Whitehaven. ((RA.)) The family had not dreamed that the next year the American revolution would keep Samuel from returning home to Woodend. The Reveleys in America were patriots, and fought for American independence. Samuel’s brother John was commissioned by the Continental Congress to build a forge at Westham, near Richmond Virginia, to produce cannonballs. His brother Francis enlisted for the duration of the war, and received a musketball in his chest that eventually caused his death.

In 1778, the following poem appeared in the Cumberland Pacquet:

For the CUMBERLAND PACQUET The following lines were written by a Youth who came from America to England, for Education: and now detained on Account of the present disturbances. ((The words ‘Mr Reveley’ have been added in pen and ink to the copy now held in the Kendal Record Office Reveley folder.))
LONG have I labour’d big with anxious Care,
Rack’d by two passions, Hope and dull Despair;
Far from my Kindred and my native Home,
Doom’d a sad Exile, in strange Lands to roam:
Not the soft language of a feeling Friend,
To ease my sorrows one sad sigh to lend;
Nought but fell rumours of a horrid War,
Of slaughter’d Thousands, and of civil Jar;
Of bleeding Heroes, and of death-bed Groans,
The Shrieks of Orphans, and the Widows Moans ;
Of Fathers weltering in their Children’s Gore;
All is Distraction and confus’d Uproar!
Such Ills, alas! – what pious Soul can name,
And not be struck with Dread and inward Shame!
That Men, like Beasts, should on each other prey,
In search of Honours and imperial Sway;
A Heap of Bubbles, that are blown away!
O thou Almighty! hear a Suppliant’s Pray’r,
And place a Period to a Load of Care;
Let Peace and Plenty now, once more abound,
The Bow be broke, the Trumpet cease to sound.

St. Bees ((RF.))

It is not known how Samuel returned to England, or with whom he stayed. Family stories differ. One says he was accompanied by his brother James, and there was a James Reveley in Whitehaven. Another has no mention of James and says Samuel never came to America because he was studying to be a vicar. ((Robert Croughton, Reveley – Croughton History (1858).)) There were Nicholsons in Blasterfield, in Crosby Ravensworth parish, but it is not known if they were related to his mother Elizabeth Nicholson from Frizington just to north of Egremont. It is assumed that Samuel attended St Bee’s School and boarded there, but no documentary evidence survives. Samuel’s sister, Elizabeth Reveley Hudson, was also in England, but her whereabouts were unknown. She emigrated to America when her husband died in 1787. ((RA.))

There is a letter in the Reveley file in the Kendal Record Office dated 1756. ((RF.)) Was it a letter originally meant for one of his older brothers, John, George, or William, and Samuel took it back with him as a reference?

Carlisle, July 18th 1756
To the Reverend Mr. Gillbanks at Wetherall [probably George Gilbanks]
Good Sir,

The bearer is the young man, whom I am encouraged to recommend to you, and by your means, to the gentleman of Crosby Ravenside, as their Schoolmaster. You are so kind, as to tell me, in your obliging letter of yesterday, that you are confident, I would not recommend any person I did not think deserving. Indeed, I would not, and therefore it may be less necessary to inform you, with regard to the young man who presents this to you, that he is a sober, studious, sensible Lad, and a good scholar. As to what concerns this last article, however, it is but justice to this kind recommender to inform him that he has not gone through very many Classics, either in Latin or Greek; an objection which, whatever some others might think of it, will, I am confident, appear very slight in your eye, who will know, how greatly preferable a thorough acquaintance with half a dozen good authors is to the superficial reading of half a hundred indifferent ones. He is besides very tolerably versed in the subject of Antiquities, Geography, and History; ancient as well as modern, which he has had an opportunity of collecting from some of the best English authors upon the respective heads; having enjoyed the privilege of my own library, ever since he was under my care. In a word, if he is not at present all that I could wish him, I am confident his sober, diligent turn, added to a retentive memory, and solid parts will enable him, in a very short time, to answer every reasonable expectation of his patrons.
I am, Sir,
Your Obliged Humble Servant,
N. Wennington [probably Miles Wennington, shortly thereafter appointed a minor canon at Carlisle cathedral]

Samuel is first recorded at Crosby Ravensworth in the diary of the Rev. George Williamson, the vicar there since 1747, on 25 June 1779, and was obviously staying at Barnskew (a local farm) with the Holmes family, the immediate family of Williamson’s wife. On the 26th, Williamson noted ‘Mr. Reveley here Vesperi.’ ((These details are drawn from Barnskew transcriptions by Ted Relph.)) These evening visits to the vicarage, about five in all, continue until the end of the year. Many clerical careers began with a period of schoolmastering at the time, and several teachers at Crosby Ravensworth were in orders. And this was how Reveley’s professional association with the parish commenced:

Oct 8th [1779] Mr Reveley elected schoolmaster.
Oct 17 Mr Reveley & others vesperi…

Two years later, Samuel was ordained to deacon’s orders by the bishop of Carlisle, Edmund Law, on 29 July 1781 in the chapel of Rose Castle, the episcopal palace of the bishops of Carlisle [CCE Record ID: 13658]. His title was Williamson’s nomination to the assistant curacy of Crosby Ravensworth to which he was licensed by the bishop on the same day [CCE Record ID: 26360]. A year later he took priest’s orders at the same venue and from the same hands on 18 August 1782, again on the title of his assistant curacy [CCE Record ID: 13687].

Licensing of Samuel Reveley to the curacy of Crosby Ravensworth

Fig. 2. Licensing of Samuel Reveley to the curacy of Crosby Ravensworth, 1781. Cumbria Record Office, Kendal WDX264: Acc no. 650, ‘Papers of the Reveley family’, uncatalogued.

Institution of Samuel Reveley to the vicarage of Crosby Ravensworth

Fig. 3. Institution of Samuel Reveley to the vicarage of Crosby Ravensworth, 1783. Cumbria Record Office, Kendal WDX264: Acc no. 650, ‘Papers of the Reveley family’, uncatalogued.

In 1783 his fortunes changed with the death of Williamson in post. On 18 August 1783 the episcopal register records that Law instituted Reveley to the vacant vicarage of Crosby Ravensworth on the presentation of Lady Mary Howard, Viscountess Andover, née Finch (1716-1803) ((Early portraits of Viscountess Andover can be seen on the National Portrait Gallery website).)), who resided some distance away at Elford Hall near Tamworth in Staffordshire [CCE Record ID: 26551]. Just over two years later, however, the 22-year-old Cambridge graduate James Dowker was instituted to the vacant living following Reveley’s resignation [CCE Record ID: 26448], being ordained priest on the title having previously served as a curate in Norfolk where he had been ordained deacon 8 months previously. This was not to be the end of Reveley’s association with the parish, however, for just four years later Reveley was once again instituted to the living on 17 December 1789 by John Douglas, the newly appointed bishop, once more on Lady Mary’s presentation, the unfortunate Dowker having died before he saw 30 [CCE Record ID 26551]. Reveley would now remain in continuous possession of the post for the next twenty years.

How do our sources shed light on this slightly curious sequence of events? It is clear that Reveley’s promotion related to local rather than Staffordshire connections, and a clear hint of his assimilation into the Crosby community and its continuation beyond his resignation in 1785 is given by the fact that on 26 June 1786 he married Ruth Williamson, George Williamson’s daughter. The couple had five children – Thomas, born 1787; Elizabeth, 1790; George, 1791; Francis, 1795; and Ruth, 1796. ((Cumbria Archive Service, Westmorland IGI)) Perhaps the most likely explanation of his resignation is ill health, which was to vex Reveley in subsequent years. He took on his first curate, the literate George Smith, who was ordained deacon on the title in August 1794 [CCE Record ID: 14006], probably after his illness developed.

Revd Mr REVELEY [Householder] M
[unnamed] REVELEY Wife F
[unnamed] REVELEY [Son] M

Mrs WILLIAMSON[Householder]Widow F
[unnamed] WILLIAMSON [Daughter] F


Reveley’s surviving papers throw interesting light on the transatlantic connections which could matter even to an incumbent who remained unmoving in a remote parish in the north west in the immediate aftermath of the American revolution. In 1789, Samuel received news from America concerning his brother William. William Reveley owned three pieces of property. The first was at Woodend, 144 acres where the Reveley family lived and where the Reveley cemetery lies unlocated. William also had tobacco plantations at Pinnfield, 446 acres, and New Port. He had married the widow Ann Towles Carter c. 1782-3. But now Samuel learned that his brother was dead. The letter came from Eliza Hudson, daughter of Samuel’s sister Elizabeth who had emigrated with her daughter Margaret on the death of her schoolmaster husband George in 1787, and told Samuel of his brother’s death the previous year:

20 January 1789

With pleasure could I address my dear Uncle if I was not the Harbinger of news that distresses me even to think of. Alas you have lost a brother [William], he has left two fine children and a sufficiency to support them. At his dying moments he requested that my Mamma might have the use of his plantation until his son [Thomas, then 3 years old] is at an age which will enable us to live without the fatigue and toil which I have hitherto been obliged to labor under … never if you value your own happiness come to this country, for I had rather live in a cottage at home than possess riches that would enable me to live here without industry… I have not seen or heard from Cousin Tommas [Thomas] since my arrival in Virginia. Uncle Frank [Francis] is very well and is at present living with us. Aunt Newall [Nancy, married to Adam Newall] and Robinson [Sarah, married to Israel Robinson] are well.>

P.S. Uncle Billy’s complaint was consumption. Margaret is always writing letters to you but somehow or another they never are sent off. Mrs. Reveley received the clock and other items and will return a remittance by post. ((RF.))

William was buried at Woodend, but his family moved to Pinfield, closer to Ann’s family, who lived in neighboring Orange County. Elizabeth Reveley Hudson, William’s widowed sister, remained at Woodend, as did Frank. ((RA.)) The clock Mrs. Reveley received is still in the family and stands proudly in Seattle, Washington.

The Reveley family clock

Fig. 4. The Reveley family clock.

The Reveley family clock, detail

Fig. 5. The Reveley family clock, detail.

In about 1794, Samuel Reveley suffered an unknown illness that left him paralyzed, according to the introduction to his Treatise Against Forestalling and Monopoly, written in 1801.

The author of the following discourse humbly hopes ——— that the candid public will consider his sincerely good intentions and debilitated State of Body as a sufficient apology for any Inaccuracies and Imperfections which may appear therein. The Author has been, for more than seven years, unable to write so much as his own name; having entirely lost the use of all his limbs: And the only Means he had of bringing forth the following literary Production was by communicating his thoughts to his son, (a Boy of little more than 12 years of age) in order to have them committed to paper. ((Samuel Reveley, A Moral and Religious Treatise against Forestalling and Monopoly (Penrith, 1801), pp. iii-iv. ))

His illness left the doctors mystified.


Dear Sir,

I am extremely sorry that absence from home, on indispensable professional duties, has, for a few days, retarded my answer to your very accurate narration of the case of Mr Revely… The case is not only extremely interesting, but of a rare and very complicated nature. I should suspect the affection to be compounded of Rheumatism and Herpes: but whether by long continuance of disease ancylosis may not have taken place in some of the joints you will be best enabled to determine: but I should suspect that, in most of the joints, their immobility may be owing merely to rigidity and want of muscular action.

From the history of the case I dare not form any conjecture concerning the remote cause of the disorder. If the patient had been exposed to catch cold, there would be reason to suspect the pains at first to have been Rheumatism – if the patient, on the contrary , had not been exposed to cold, but had been born of Gent[lemanl]y parents, or had lived in a luxurious manner, the pains in the joints might more reasonably been imputed to a Gent[lemanl]y habit. I shall not take up time with offering any theory concerning the Cutaneous affection, for, however troublesome it may be, I consider the general diseased state of the joints, to be the more formidable part of his distemper.

For the removal of so complicated and so long a continued affection, I should place the chief dependence on Mercury, pushed to such an extent as intimately to pervade the system. With this view let the patient take Two of the Pills * [* R Calernilanes.; Sulph. praecip: ant aa 13; Cons: Nescr q.s. f. Pilullee. No. Lx] every night and morning, giving an adequate Opiate every night at Bedtime. If the Pills do not occasion a soreness in the mouth in a reasonable time, the dose should be increased. But if they run to the bowels, in spite of Opium, then let Mercury be used in the form of Inunction. But whether the one or the other be preferred, let some degree of salivation be induced, and the action of the medicine be kept up for several weeks. At the same time, the patient should go into a Bath of water, heated to about 96 degrees every second night; and he should drink a Bottle of the Decoction of Mezeon (made agreeably to Edinburgh Pharmacopeia) milk warm every Twenty four hours. During the Mercurial course, the strength should be supported by Broths, Jellies and wine in Sage, Saloep &c. taken very frequently.

With respect to your enquiry in your P.S. give me leave to inform you, I shall think myself amply rewarded if I can be of the least service in restoring the gentleman to health or to usefulness. From a Clergyman, of his preferment in the Church, I am not in the custom of accepting fees: therefore I beg that you may write to me as often as you please.
I am yours very truly,
John Clark ((RF.))

The apothecary’s suggestions did not cure Samuel, and more family problems were occurring with Samuel’s relatives in America.

It appears that Samuel was financially involved with his late brother George’s property in Virginia, and George’s daughter Betsy was very concerned. George’s son married Martha Lakeland, and her family may have been the Lakelands that helped them buy the property. Charles Croughton, who had married Margaret Hudson, the daughter of Samuel’s sister Elizabeth, was also trying to get the property.

Portsmouth, Virginia, 14th March 1801

Dear Uncle,

I have repeatedly wrote to you, and am very much surprised, at not having received my answer. I wish to know wheather you purchased that house, and half an lot of ground, from Lakelands heirs or not, that my father lately occupied ~ as I understand that you purchased it for my Father, and he not having settled with you for it ~ if you will send over the title papers for it to any person you think proper, in this part of the world; I will give you the price it first cost, with interest from that time untill I receive the papers ~ for which sum you may draw on me for at any time you please, as the money is ready for you.

I understand that Mr. Charles Croughton has applied to you for it which I think is very wrong in him, as I have possession and my father and all my relations are buried on the spot makes it of more consequence to me than to anybody else. I am a widow and have one child to support and no income, I think it was very ungentlemanly in him to attempt getting possession ~ I suppose that you have been informed that Mr. Croughton has married Cousin Margaret Hudson. My father has been dead five years and his widow has been dead three.

If you could write by the return of this ship I should be certain to get your letter as I am intimately accuainted with the Captain, he will be in Liverpool sometime ~ Direct to Captain Richard Owen on board ship Juno. My love to my aunt and all my [letter ends]
[Betsy Linnel] ((RF.))

Charles Croughton had received the deeds from Samuel’s son Thomas, but had no authority to proceed as indicated in a letter to Thomas:

Fredericksburg 28 June 1801

Dear Sir:

Your two much esteemed favors in September and October last were received and also the deeds respecting the property in Portsmouth to the care of Mr. Maury were received. Betsy Reveley still is in possession of the house and will no doubt keep it until the law disposseses her, which I hope the writings received will be competent to effect ~ hitherto nothing has been done in the business ~ in my next, perhaps I may have it in my power to communicate something certain on this read, in the meantime your father may be assured that the interest he claims in the property shall not be neglected. We sincerely hope his health by this reestablished and that he will long enjoy it. His relations here are in tolerable health and join me in kind and affectionate remembrances to all of you at Cosby. Soon again I shall repeat this pleasure-in-task.
I am Dear Sir
Yours Sincerely
Charles Croughton ((RF.))

In 1806, however, Samuel’s American relatives were still fighting about the property. Thomas had been ignoring them. Obviously unfamiliar with the Westmorland Reveleys, Croughton sent another letter, explaining in detail how the problem must be resolved.

Fredericksburg Virginia 30th July 1806

Dear Sir,

I had the pleasure of writing you some years ago, acknowledging the receipt of John Lakeland’s Deeds of Lease & Release to you of a house and lott in the town of Portsmouth and also of your deed for the same to your Sister Hudson. Since then I have written you that your brother George’s daughter refuses to relinquish possession of the premises, to which letters we have not been favoured with a reply. At the particular and urgent request of Mrs. Hudson I went a few days ago to Portsmouth for the purpose of knowing what she had to depend upon respecting that property. George’s daughter is married again to a Mr. Clements ~ they both refused giving up the house and lott to any person not legally authorised, they have possession and know the papers in our possession are not sufficient to eject them. They reside in the same town in a house of their own and rent yours out. The Tarr Pitts are filled up and one of the outhouses (of wood) Mr. Clements has sold and removed from off yours to the adjoining lott. Upon reference to Counsel I find the papers beforementioned forwarded by you are insufficient to convey the property even to yourself which therefore remains in John Lakeland or his heirs, the best mode therefore to adopt now will be to obtain his deed at once to Mrs. Hudson which will lesson or prevent any dispute between you and your brother’s heirs and the expense & trouble of you executing a deed to her will be avoided.

You have herewith a deed of conveyance made out which you will please get John Lakeland to execute by his signature and seal, the blank in the third line is left for the purpose of filling up with the wife’s name (if he has one) thus ‘and Mary (or whatever her name may be) his wife’ ~ the blank in the last line but one is left for the same purpose and the two other blanks in that and the last line are left to be filled up with the singular or Plural Pronoun, with the word ‘his’ if unmarried and ‘our’ if married, in which latter case his wife must also sign the Deed and seal it. When this is done, John Lakeland must go before the Mayor of Appleby and acknowledge the execution of the deed, the mayor will then write underneath the deed as follows viz:

Appleby Westmorland County England to-wit~

John Lakeland personally came before me the Mayor of the Borough of Appleby in the County of Westmorland in that part of Great Britain called England and presenting the above writing, acknowledged it to be his act and deed, and that he delivers it to the use and behoof of the Grantee therein named ~signed by the Mayor of Appleby and the corporation seal to be annexed. Should John Lakeland be a married man, his wife must be examined by the Court, Mayor, or Chief Magistrate separate and apart from her husband, as to her willingness to execute the same (it being made & sealed by both) and the Certificate of the Mayor should also go to that point.~

Should John Lakeland not go himself to the Mayor for the purpose, the deed must be acknowledged before three witnesses who will sign their names under the words ‘signed, sealed, and delivered in presence of~’ then three witnesses must then go before the Mayor and make oath that John Lakeland acknowledged the writing to be his act and deed and deliver it as such to the use and behoof of the grantee therein named in their presence, which must be expressed and the witnesses named in the Certificate of the Mayor, instead of the name of the Grantor. The certificate must express they made oath and must be signed by the Mayor and sealed as in the first instance. Should John Lakeland be dead, this business must be done by his next heir. Should his wife object he execute the deed, have it notwithstanding executed by him, and put your son or some person to copy the deed now sent and have them both execute in the same manner and at the same time, which may be forwarded by different conveyances in case one should be lost in the passage. No stamp is requisite here. The deeds thus executed you will lose no time in forwarding for unless recorded here within a certain time from the date, they cannot be admitted to be read as evidence of title in our court, to which as Mrs. Hudson’s friend I will have recourse should possession be denied her, and when obtained forward you or yours the money required.

I forward this under cover to James Maury Esq of Liverpool, to whom I also returned Lakeland’s Deed of Lean and Release to you, and your Deed of Conveyance to your sister. The letters enclosing the Deed, to be executed, you can send to that Gentleman requesting him to forward them to me immediately by different vessels. By this, we all here hope your health is reestablished and that your good Lady and family are also well. You know not the pleasure it would afford Mrs. Hudson to hear more frequently of you and them. It is getting late ~ the person who is the bearer of this across the Atlantic starts before day, I must therefore assure you how much I am, Dear and Reverend Sir,
Your Obligated and Honorable Servant,
Charles Croughton ((RF.))

Croughton had two drafts of this letter, one added the phrase, after no stamp is required: ‘You should in dispatch for the property belonging to an alien, they were talking when I was at Portsmouth of confiscating it, and Clements who may injure the property, I am afraid will too soon not be in circumstances to make reparation. The original deeds forwarded by you may be had of Mr. Maury if wanted.’ The second copy was sent by different vessel, and forwarded to Reveley in a correspondence amply illustrating the difficulties involved in such long-distance negotiation:

Fredericksburg 30 July 1806

Dear Sir,

I take the liberty of troubleing you with a deed of lease & release from John Lakeland to Samuel Reveley and his deed to Mrs. Hudson for a house and lott in Portsmouth in this state. Possession without any right in the property is kept by another & the papers are insufficient to eject them. I will thank you to retain them in case they should be wanted, and forward the inclosed letter to some friend in Appleby to be delivered to Mr. Reveley whom I am afraid from his situation some years ago when we last heard from him, may be dead, in that case will you be so obliging as have the enclosed letter delivered to Mrs. Reveley, his widow, informing him or her of the papers you retain & which if required you may deliver to them only.
Charles Croughton

Liverpool 12th Sept 1806


Annexed you have the copy of a letter I have lately received from Mr. Charles Croughton of Fredericksburg in Virginia & herewith the letter he alludes to. I am ready to deliver up the papers in the manner he has directed.
I am your most obedient servant,
James Maury

Liverpool 15th October 1806


I send by a private conveyance to be delivered at the Bank of Messrs. I & I Wakefield in Kendal the documents which I received from Mr. Croughton as annexed. Very respectfully I am Sir
Your most obedient servant
James Maury


Lakeland to Reveley conveyance

Samuel Reveley to Elizabeth Hudson

Lease for a year

Lakeland to Reveley ((RF.))

A year later the irritation in the correspondence was rising, with Croughton waiting until the end of the letter before relaying news of the deaths of Samuel’s brother John and niece Margaret, Croughton’s wife. In fact Croughton was married to both of Elizabeth Reveley Hudson’s daughters, having married Margaret only when Eliza died. Here, for the moment, this story peters out. Croughton owned a large plantation in Virginia which I have seen, so his concern over this property remains a mystery.

Fredericksburg 25 April 1807

Dear Sir,

I received a letter today from your son Thomas dated the 6th February last acknowledging the receipt of the deeds of your property in Portsmouth. The deeds themselves, as to the mere wording of them would have done, the fault was in their execution. In that letter is this observation, speaking of their defect ‘you say the Legal Estate still remains vested in Lakeland or his heirs, in what particular part this defect is to be found, you do not acquaint us, consequently we are not able to rectify it provided it should become necessary.’ ~ A reference to mine to which that is an answer fully points out the defect and its remedy. In order to convey a fee simple right to real property in this state, certain legal requisites are necessary, the form of the deed I wrote and sent is without any lean or stamp at best, the same number of witnesses, the same acknowledgements of those witnesses or of the parties executing the deed which are mentioned in my letter as requisite from John Lakeland to Mr. Hudson, as necessary to be observed in the conveyance of him to you, which not having been done, the property is still in him instead of you. To save trouble, expense therefore, and with no other view, it was proposed that Lakeland should in the manner therein pointed out convey it at once to Mrs. Hudson but should John Lakeland so convey to you, you must in the same manner convey to your sister, taking especial care to have the deeds dated as forward as possible because if not recorded within a certain time from their execution, they cannot be read in evidence of a right, should that right be contested, and it is probable the present occupant may keep adverse possession ~ in that case he can only be ejected by a suit of law, when we shall be put to the proof of the right being in Lakeland who conveys to you, or Mrs.Hudson as the case may be.

Now in tracing the title down to him we must prove his identity ~ also that his brother was entitled to and had a right to bequeath this property to him ~ for as Clements and his wife have acquired the Lease possessions, the law will suppose the right to be in them unless a better right in us shall be proved. Thus in purchasing this estate we also probably purchase a Law suit and therefore I do not think you should exact payment before possession. If you choose to make or have the conveyance made in the manner fully pointed out in my last letter, and your sister in consequence obtains possession, the sum requires vis sixty guinea (£63 Sterling) shall most assuredly be immediately forwarded to you, to the payment of which the sum I hereby bind myself, my heirs so, provides I am constituted the attorney to receive and deliver possession of the tenement to Mrs. Hudson, in the manner expressed in the deed written by myself and forwarded to you. You are to recollect that I am in fact doing your business, for your right must be established if your sister is to hold under you, before she can have any, and the stir we have made in the affair has given use to those offers you have since had ~ the expenses of postages, lawyers fees, traveling from this to Portsmouth 200 miles & back, have already cost me one tenth part of the purchase money. A power of attorney from you to some person here to dispose of it would be a nullify until you were in legal possession yourself, and to that power what respect would be paid by Mr. & Mrs. Clements, after the treatment your conveyance to your sister met with because it was legally informal?

Not a moment’s time shall be left in availing ourselves of the conveyance to take the property if you choose to send them in as directed ~ it is indeed a pity so much has already been lost, and is certainly prejudicial to your interest, for from recent circumstances, I do not believe Clements (if you should be disposed to let him have it, after I have had so much trouble and your sister or me has incurred so much expense in the business) has it in his power to purchase it properly.

Situated in a remote corner of the island where commerce has not made large sums familiar, it is perhaps natural that so great a stress should be laid upon the small consideration of 60 guineas, which however, as aforementioned, you may rely shall be forwarded to you through some safe channel at Liverpool.

Your brother John died at his Sister Hudson’s the 10th day of April 1804 aged 71 years, and was by his own request buried at the feet of his mother. Margaret Hudson also departed this life in the month of October 1805 of a Phthisis Pulmonalis, so that the old lady has only heaven & herself to rest upon. She is truly sorry for your present imbecility of body & prays for the return of all your powers ~ With compliments to all your family and wishes for their and your happiness & health I have the honor to be Dear & Reverend Sir,
Your Obedient Humble Servant,
Charles Croughton ((RF.))

Knowing he was in poor health, Samuel had a will prepared:

In the name of God Amen. I Samuel Reveley of Crosbyravensworth in the County of Westmorland Clerk, being not well in bodily health but of perfect Understanding considering the uncertainty of this a Mortal Life and being desirous to leave that fortune which God has been pleased to bless me with, in my family, with as much peace and union as may be. I do make this my Last Will and Testament in manner following, hereby revoking all former wills made by me. And first I resign my soul to the great and merciful God who made it, in hopes of eternal life & happiness through Jesus Christ our Lord, and my body to be decently interred at the discretion of my Executrix hereinafter named, as for my Temporal estate I give, devise, and dispose of the same as followeth.

First I give, bequeath, and devise to my Eldest son Thomas Reveley and his heirs forever all that my freehold estate called Blasterfield with the appurtenances situate lying and being in the Parish of Crosbyravensworth also one other close or Inclosure of Freehold Land called Barncroft with the appurtenances situate lying and being in the Parish of Crosbyravensworth aforesaid, subject to the payment of all my just debts – and certain Legacies hereinafter Mentioned, which the better to enable him to do. I also give him the sum of Ninety pounds, sixty-five of which sum is now in the hands, or lodged upon the property of the late John Yates of Kirkbystephen by mortgage, and Twenty five pounds, which will make up the remainder is due to me by a security on the Borrowbridge Turnpike Road both which sums of money he shall have a just right to receive when my youngest daughter Ruth Reveley shall have arrived at the age of twenty-one years.

I also give and bequeath to my son George Reveley the sum of four hundred and fifty pounds. I also give and bequeath to my son Francis Reveley the sum of four hundred and fifty pounds. I also give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Reveley the sum of four hundred and fifty pounds.I also give and bequeath to my daughter Ruth Reveley the sum of four hundred and fifty pounds, all which above mentioned legacies I will shall be paid to them by my son Thomas Reveley when my youngest daughter Ruth Reveley shall have attained the age of twenty one years, or when she would have attained if living. I also will that my wife Ruth Reveley shall have a right and full power to receive all the rents profits, and interests arising from all my above mentioned lands & money and to dispose of the same at her own discretion, to her own and my children’s use as may appear to her most prudent and necessary, till my youngest daughter Ruth Reveley either shall or would have attained the age of twenty one years.

And lastly as to all the rest, residue, and remainder of my property of what kind or nature soever they be. I give and bequeath the same to my beloved wife Ruth Reveley whom I hereby appoint sole Executrix of this my Last Will and Testament, she paying all my funeral expenses.

And it is my further will and desire that my wife shall have power to name and appoint another Executor and in case of her death before all my children are become of age, that the whole income arising from all my estate personal and real may be applied to the maintenance and support of my children in manner above mentioned, till my youngest daughter Ruth Reveley shall or would have attained the age of twenty-one years. And when my children shall all have received their several legacies, their respective claims upon the income at large shall cease. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fifth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and nine.

Samuel Reveley X his mark and seal

Signed, sealed published & declared by the above named Samuel Reveley to be his Last Will and Testament. In the presence of us who have subscribed our names as witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other,

Thomas Gibson George Gibson Ann Jackson

proved 3rd July 1810 ((Carlisle Record Office, will of Samuel Reveley.))

The will clarifies the property Samuel had accumulated in his lifetime. In 1800, Samuel had purchased farmland in Blasterfield, which was leased to others. Blasterfield Farm lies exactly two miles, as the crow flies, SSE of Crosby Ravensworth Church, adjoining the part of Crosby Fell which forms Orton Scar, and is in the parish, township and manor of Crosby Ravensworth. Most probably purchased as an investment, Blasterfield was a source of worry for Samuel’s wife Ruth.

Crosby Nov 6

My Dear Son,

The miller did not receive the deeds till last Sunday when I got your letter: he has said nothing of paying yet. We are still very badly off as we get so little from Blasterfield. Elen still continues to stand Appleby market she sent me down on Sunday £2 in values which I sent to old Susan Ded which she objected takeing particularly two 5 – 6 pence she demands full interest without alowing any thing for the property two which I should think must be wrong as I payed it in July tell me what you think. I got Dr. Beatham to go up to Blasterfield on Sunday to look at the houses he says he thinks there will be no danger till spring when something must be done at them. I do not know what to advise about leting the farm one never can get them to say what they would give we shall now want a full years rent and Dr. Beatham tells me that Tomey Tothergill about a £ 100 he had nothing to show for it. They have now given him a note for it and he said he was determined to have it payed soon. So that with what we want now and another year I fear they would not have to pay without things sell better than they do at present. I hope you will have some chaps at the fair and you must do what way you think best yourself. G. Wilkinson will be at the fair and I should think Cagestick the man from Bampton had said at Blasterfield he thought his wife would not like it but he said no such thing hear nor found fault with anything we thought him a very nice man indeed,if you let it I would not wish you to grant a long lease for there never sure can be worse leting. Crosbygate is again advertised. Mr Preston estate was not let there was not a single chap except a son of Tomey Swansons. I cannot expect to hear any thing from you by Jim but you can perhaps write by Rudick and let me know how you have come on. You have never sent the flannel waistcoat to make one by. I cannot get any yarn yet for your gloves but will as soon as ———.

Your sisters begs if you have any ——— trowsers that you have done wearing you would send them. I think I have now nothing more to add but that I ever remain
your affectionate Mother,
R Reveley ((RF.))

Another letter was written to John Richardson regarding the Farm:

Crosby June 24 1805


Mr Reveley having been informed that the writing concerning Matthew Hewartson to which he affixed his name some time since has been looked upon by Lord Lowther and you as a recommendation of him respecting his Farm. He desires me to inform you that he did not consider the writeing alluded to in that light. And therefore he begs leave to withdraw his name from the paper as he will not in any shape be answerable for any consequences that may arise from Matthew Hewartson’s conduct.
I am Sir With the greatest Respect Your Obet. Sert.
R Reveley ((RF.))

Samuel left Blasterfield to his son Thomas, and it remained with his family until Thomas’s great nephew Thomas Reveley sold it to Robert Nicholson of Gilts, the tenant in 1904. It was mortgaged for some years but redeemed eventually. In 1898 the field called Ox Close, which had belonged to the Gathorn Hall Estate was purchased for £200 and became part of the farm. ((Barnskew transcriptions by Ted Relph.))

In spite of his illness, Samuel continued to hold the vicarage. In 1801 he wrote A moral and religious treatise against forestalling and monopoly which was published at Penrith and sold for the benefit of the poor of his parish, a conventional wartime protest against those profiting from the emergency. Save for his signature to the customary address congratulating Archbishop Vernon on his appointment printed in the Carlisle Journal in 1808, the other most enduring evidence of Reveley’s tenure at Crosby Ravensworth is that he appears to have been, with George Gibson of Oddendale, the instigator of well-meaning, if perhaps mediocre, alterations to the church, although the work had barely begun at the date of his death, according to the Chronicles of Crosby Ravensworth. In the Vale of Lyvennet, the alterations are described.

The next most important change in its architectural history was in 1811. In this and the following year it was in a great measure rebuilt. The roof of the old church was leaded, and where the present new chancel Arch is, near to the roof, were twelve small round-headed windows, representing numerically the twelve apostles; these were entirely removed. Most of the other windows were also taken out and replaced by the present ones, which are of a character that deservedly comes under the style The Debased. At this time the embattlements were removed from the tower, and some elaborate work introduced surmounted by pinnacles ornamented with crotchet work; many of the buttresses are also surmounted by similar ones. The porch and chancel doorway were ornamented with elaborately carved work, which though highly creditable to those engaged in the good work of remodelling the sacred edifice, are far from being in accordance with ecclesiastical architecture of the present day. The interior sittings, pulpit, &c., were refitted at the same time, and the interior decorated with texts from Scripture, scroll work, &c., chiefly done by George Gibson, Esq. ((John Salkeld Bland, The Vale of Lyvennett, its picturesque peeks and legendary lore (Kendal, 1910), p. 49.))

Samuel Reveley died on 11 November 1809 at the age of 52. After Samuel’s death, Ruth lived in the cottage called ‘The Fernery’ next to the Vicarage on Post Office Lane in Crosby Ravensworth. It is basically Georgian but whether Williamson or the Reveleys built it is unknown. It was built on a field which had belonged to the church; Williamson records making hay in this field. The present owners had new windows put in and gave local historian Ted Relph one of the old sashes which has some names or initials scratched on the glass, possibly done with a diamond ring! Ruth died on 5 April 1830, at the age of 72.


Ralf Lawson Reveley researched the Reveleys for twenty years and published the American Reveleys in 1987. He always hoped to establish our English connection, but passed away before he had the opportunity. In 2001 I began the task for Ralf, and, thanks to Ted Relph of Crosby Ravensworth, I was able to find out about Samuel Reveley, Thomas Reveley’s young son who returned to England. The Record Offices in Whitehaven and Kendal, the Clergy of the Church of England Database, Paul Reveley and his nephew Graham Barnes, and my internet genealogy friends provided me with information, and I thank them all.


Clergy lists, chapels and curates: some observations made and problems defined from Derbyshire 1558–1662


This paper examines some of the problems involved in creating full and accurate lists of the clergy in the early modern period. It highlights both the shotcomings of the sources and also the fact that the parochial structure was not as rigid as is often assumed.The latter part of the article discussed the evidence for the behaviour and discipline of the unbeneficed clergy in the archdeaconry of Derbyshire.

Citation Information

To cite this article:
Richard Clark, ‘Clergy lists, chapels and curates: some observations made and problems defined from Derbyshire 1558–1662’, CCEd Online Journal 2, 2007.


To compile lists of beneficed and unbeneficed clergy for one archdeaconry – Derby – may appear to be a simple task, given the relative abundance of diocesan and associated records. In fact it is fraught with difficulties and reveals much about the record-keeping practices and priorities of local administrative units within the reformed Church of England; the case-study also has implications well beyond the archdeaconry of Derby.

The archdeaconries of Stafford and Derby, the core of the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, share some characteristics of the five dioceses within the northern province of York: substantial upland areas, dominated at the time by pastoral farming and mineral extraction, as well as lowland districts with more agrarian economies. The former was characterized by parishes of large extent and sparse provision for worship. ‘What have we here a church… Have you churches in this country, sir?’ asks the wayfarer, traversing the upper reaches of the Dove Valley, in Izaac Walton’s The Compleat Angler. The angler replies ‘You see we have; but had you seen none, why should you make that doubt, sir?’, to which his companion retorts, ‘Why… I’ll tell you. I thought myself a stage or two beyond Christendom.’ They were near the parish of Hartington whose vicar in 1705 described it as ‘a very large one, twelve miles and upwards in length, and between three or four miles in breadth, containing in it at least fourteen villages, hamlets or townships and one chapel.’ ((Quoted in M. Austin, ‘Religion and society in Derbyshire during the industrial revolution’, Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 93(1973), 75; Lichfield Record Office [LRO], Queen Anne Bounty Returns, 1705, B/A/13ii.)).

Another feature of these two archdeaconries was the relative paucity of benefices. In extensive areas the provision of worship depended both on churches and chapels of varying non-beneficed status and considerable numbers of unbeneficed clergy serving them. In this paper I want to focus on both of them and the impact of one more trait of the archdeaconry of Derby on effective clergy listing: the relative poverty, thinness and incompleteness of records available.

At any one time in the archdeaconry there were just over a hundred benefices, almost evenly divided into rectories and vicarages. There were a dozen or so livings, some in extra-parochial areas, variously described as perpetual curacies and donatives where vicarages had never been established, and up to fifty chapels with full parochial rights and of varying degrees of dependency under their mother churches. In addition there were more than two dozen chapels in which public worship was at sometime in the period conducted or probably so. Some of these lacked full parochial rights, others had an uncertain or shadowy existence and a few sat on the dividing line between public place of worship and private domestic chapel.

In drawing up lists of clergy under the places where they ministered, two features emerged from attempts to identify, enumerate and categorize places of public worship within the archdeaconry. The first was that the parochial structure of the Church of England at this time was less rigid than I had first appreciated; the second that I remain unsure how many places of public worship operated at any one time.

With regard to structure, some places of worship rose in status, others declined; some disappeared, others emerged; a handful were just ill-defined. A few benefices, all ill-endowed vicarages, fell under lengthy periods of sequestration and were served by curates in place of instituted clergy. Bishop Overton listed five vicarages in a certificate to the Fruit and Tenths Office of 20 November 1596, describing them as vacant for years and under sequestration because of their poverty and arrears of tenths to the crown. ((The National Archives [TNA], PRO E331/Coventry and Lichfield/8 Oct 1595- Oct 1600 (Certificates to the First Fruits and Tenths Office); PRO E112/9/36: Petition to the court of Exchequer, Robert Croftes clerk v John Walton clerk. Robert Croftes, instituted to the vicarage of St Michael’s in Derby in 1588 after a vacancy there of nearly two decades, petitioned the court of Exchequer to insist that he was not liable for the arrears of clerical tenths. With what success is uncertain but he soon found another benefice, leaving the vicarage vacant for another twenty years. R. Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergymen: parishes D’, Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 126 (2006), 182.)) In all eleven benefices before 1662 fell under lengthy periods of sequestration, three of which lasted continuously more than a century. Two cases occurred before the Reformation, the rest in the third quarter of the sixteenth century, indicative of the financial pressures on benefices at this time, particularly caused by the impact of clerical taxation. ((Institutions to Sawley ceased during the fifteenth century and the last institution to Church Broughton was in 1502. There were significant gaps in the institutions to Bolsover, Castleton, Derby St Michael and St Werburgh, Dronfield, Kirk Hallam, Scarcliffe, Swarkestone and Willington.))

There were, on the other hand, attempts from 1587 to 1631 to institute clergy into four livings never recorded before as benefices and an effort to prise the rectory of Mapleton from the vicarage of Ashbourne to which it had been united in the late thirteenth century. But, like entry to the Premier League, promotion was usually followed by relegation. All, except one, were unable to sustain their place, thwarted, by the vicar of Ashbourne in the case of Mapleton but owing to unknown factors in the two other cases. ((The cures concerned were Mapleton, Ockbrook, Osmaston by Derby, Stanton by Dale and Willesley.))

There were additions to the stock of places of public worship in the period; at least four chapels were built anew from 1593 to 1657, three enjoying full parochial rights. ((These were Edale (consecrated 1634), Buxton (1625), Peak Forest (1657), and Risley (1593). The chapel of ease at Dore was possibly established in this period but confirmatory, documentary evidence is lacking. A private, domestic chapel had been constructed at Catton by the late 1620s.)) On the other hand six chapels of ease and one parish church, certainly in existence in the 1540s or in 1553, disappear from the record in the following decades and at least two more chapels later on. When the chapels of Foremark and Ingleby became ruinous; Foremark was rebuilt by Sir Francis Burdett and consecrated in 1662, but Ingleby was abandoned. ((The chapels of ease identified as disappearing in the period are Catton, Clifton, Codnor, Coton-in-the-Elms, Creswell, Cromford, Ingleby and Little Eaton; the parish church at Duckmanton also fell out of use when its vicarage was united to the rectory of Sutton Scarsdale in 1559.))

Although the parochial structure in the archdeaconry was not completely rigid, the changes that did occur were limited and ambivalent in their impact. They did little to strengthen or enhance provision for worship to any significant extent before 1642 nor to diminish it. On the other hand more negative developments to the structure seem contained to the period before 1580 and more positive ones thereafter.

How many places of worship operated at any one time remains unclear. The hope that the visitation call books or libri cleri or the various occasional surveys of the clergy might provide a complete list of places of worship along side the names of active ministers, was soon dashed once the information from these books was tabulated and compared with other sources. Some chapels appear in the visitation call books and then disappear, sometimes reappearing several years later; others known to have existed, are never named in them at all during this time. These chapels are all in the group of the two dozen chapels of ease described earlier as having a shadowy existence. For example, Calke Chapel was listed in most, though not all, call books, from 1558 to 1614 and never afterwards. Alderwasley was listed from 1558 to 1605, Dethick from 1558 to 1586, reappearing in the call books of the early eighteenth century, Brimington from 1558 to 1614, reappearing from 1662 onwards and Holmesfield appearing only in 1616 and then not again until 1701.

There is also the problem of when is a chapel a public place of worship, which one would expect to see listed in visitation records, and when is it a private, domestic oratory which one would not. The existing records suggest no clear definition. The chapels at Chatsworth, Hardwick and Haddon, the last two with good early seventeenth-century fittings, never appear in the call books. Nor does the chapel built in the 1620s at Catton Hall. On the other hand Calke and Dethick, both chapels to major gentry households and constructed by their owners, are listed. After the Restoration the Gilberts of Locko built a chapel attached to their house and that too appears in call books. More disconcerting to the obsessive clergy lister by place of worship is the appearance for the first time of five chapels in the Parliamentary survey of livings, undertaken upon the orders of the Rump in 1650. The commissioners declared three ‘fit to be disused’, something of a shock when one had not been aware that two of them had been in use in the first place. ((N. Pevsner, rev E. Hallam, The buildings of England: Derbyshire (London, 1986), pp. 226, 236, 264; Lambeth Palace Library [LPL], Comm. XIIa/6, 363, 441, 459, 467, 471 (parliamentary survey of parishes 1650).))

There are, perhaps, two explanations for these patterns and omissions in the visitation call books. First, the diocesan officials conducting these visitations were more interested in recording clergymen than places of worship. Their concern was to check that the clergy cited before them had appeared in person or by proxy, had presented their letters of ordination and institution and their licences for inspection, and had paid their visitation fees. Chapels of ease, lacking a permanent minister, or where worship was irregular or served by the incumbent of the mother church, were of less interest, hence their omission. Riddings Chapel was only ever listed in the visitation records of 1620 when it had its own reader, Richard Cope. Perhaps at other times the chapel, if functioning, was served by visiting clergy or the vicar of Alfreton, the incumbent of the mother church. ((LRO, B/V/1/37 (visitation call book 1620).)) The only problem is that this is surmise, not recorded certainty.

The other explanation lies probably in the way that the libri cleri or call books were drawn up. Diocesan officials clearly used one or more call books from previous visitations to draw up a book for the current visitation. The series of call books to 1616 can all be shown in their use of the similarly and strangely ordered listings of parish livings to have used earlier books going back to the first surviving one, drawn up in 1558. As a result omissions or redundant entries recurred. So Coton-in-the-Elms appears up to 1616 when finally ‘no prayers’ is written against the name. ((LRO, B/V/1/2, 4-5, 7-9, 11, 13, 15-16, 23-5, 28, 32 (visitation call books 1558, 1560, 1561, 1570, 1573, 1576 (fragment), 1579, 1581, 1584, 1586, 1597, 1605, 1609, 1614, 1616).)) In the call book for Bishop Morton’s visitation in 1620 the order of the listing of parishes under deaneries is so different, though still inexplicable, that it was clearly an attempt to work from scratch and from this point a number of chapels cease to be listed. For the visitations of 1636 and 1639 an effort was made, not entirely successfully, to draw up call books in which parish livings were listed in alphabetical order under their deanery. The book for 1639 was clearly the model for the call books of 1662, 1665 and thereafter. ((LRO, B/V/1/37, 57, 62, 67 (visitation call books, 1620, 1636, 1639, 1662).))

As the call books do not provide a completely reliable guide to all the places of worship in operation at any one time in the jurisdictions visited, so they omitted a few unbeneficed clergy serving in them at the time of the visitations. Thomas Saunderson, cited to the diocesan visitation of 1626 as curate of Alderwasley, was not listed in the call books of 1616 and 1620 even though he appears as curate there in probate acts from 1615 onwards. William Mower, named as curate of Holmesfield in the 1616 call book, was omitted from visitation records in 1620 and 1626 but appears in a probate act as curate there in 1627. Nicholas Yeallott appears in Hathersage parish register as curate of Derwent from 1637 onwards but is not listed as such in the diocesan visitation call book of 1639. ((R. Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergymen: parishes A-B’, Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 105 (1984), 27; Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergymen: parishes D’, 189; LRO, B/V/1/32 (Visitation Call Book 1616), B/C/10/14, 50v (probate act book).))

The imperfections of the visitation call books are perhaps only apparent at the peripheries of the ecclesiastical structure in the archdeaconry. Even so, this is unfortunate; in the absence of a complete set of diocesan ordination registers, subscription books and licensing records, the surviving call books with the surveys of clergy from 1593 and 1603, 1650 and 1651/2 are the most important source of names for the unbeneficed clergy of the archdeaconry during this period.

The call books score ‘a double whammy’ in that in most visitations for which they survive, diocesan officials used them as registers of appearance of clergy at the visitation court rather than as a means for recording their details of educational attainment, ordination, institution and licensings. They were, in effect, documents of administrative processing rather than of reference. There are only four, surviving exceptions – the call book of 1584 with details of the clergy’s dates of ordination and institution noted, an incomplete call book of 1597, and the call books of 1639 and 1662, though after this date more detailed call books eventually became standard practice. As a result sources of any additional evidence about the unbeneficed clergy such as details from probate records and parish registers become especially helpful. The limitations of the call books also suggest that the diocesan authorities lacked a full grasp of the ecclesiastical structure of the archdeaconry and the clergy serving in it. ((LRO, B/V/1/15, 23, 62, 67, 77, 79, 89, 93, 96 (visitation call books); archdeaconry records for the period do not survive, but there is no reason to think the archdeacon of Derby was any better informed.))

When the diocesan registrar in September 1662 petitioned Bishop Hacket on behalf of Sir Francis Burdett and the inhabitants of Foremark and Ingleby to seek his approval and consecration of the new chapel at Foremark, not only was the irreparable and ruinous state of the former chapels alleged. It was also claimed ‘there is no endowment for a minister to perform divine offices for the said inhabitants, but that which was done was done by such mean and stipendiary clerks as did rather redound to the dishonour of Almighty God and contempt of his holy worship…’ Burdett had not only offered a newly built chapel ‘furnished with a chancel or seats, a belfry and bell’. He had also granted ‘at his very great cost’ a yearly stipend of £20 out of the impropriated tithes of Milton upon condition he could nominate the curate who thenceforth had to be a university graduate. ((LRO, B/A/1/17, 17-19 (Bishop Hacket’s register).)) Despite its special pleading, the petition encapsulates many of the criticisms that both contemporaries and later commentators have levelled at chapelries and their non-beneficed curates; that chapelries were impoverished and insufficiently endowed; that their ministers were dependent, for example of the offerings of the laity, and insecure in their employment; that they were inadequately qualified, and seldom graduates; that the pastoral care they offered was third rate, ignorant or ineffective.

A good deal of this picture sticks for the archdeaconry of Derby. Chapelries were poor; so were their curates, although with a good deal of variation. Most information about the value of chapelries is later than 1662 and more detailed than anything surviving before. The only contemporary, incomplete data comes from a survey of the clergy made on Archbishop Whitgift’s orders of May 1603 to his diocesans and in the comperta of the 1639 diocesan visitation in response to Bishop Wright’s new article about the value of appropriations and vicarages. In the former the value of chapelries varied from the forty shilling stipend of the curate of Normanton-by-Derby to the £13 6s 8d (20 marks) in tithes enjoyed by the curate of Smisby. In the latter the range was from the £5 stipend paid to the curate of Allestree to the £20 ‘and his table’ provided the curate of Foremark cum Ingleby by Sir Thomas Burdett. ((LRO, Dean and Chapter Records, AA11 (survey of clergy 1603); B/V/1/64 (visitation acta and comperta); Visitation Articles and Injunctions of the early Stuart Church. Volume II, ed. Kenneth Fincham (Church of England Record Society, 5, 1998), p. 70. The figures for curates’ incomes given probably represent sums to which they were legally entitled rather than their actual total, annual gross earnings which would have included a variety of fees and in some chapelries voluntary contributions. For the last documentation before 1662 is lacking.)) Sir Francis, his son, was clearly being less magnanimous than suggested in the petition to Bishop Hacket.

It is said that if you pay peanuts you end up employing monkeys, an aphorism somewhat belied by the universities of the United Kingdom. With regards to behaviour and discipline, ‘monkeys’ can certainly be found among the curates. John Goostree of Chaddesden was cited in 1623 as ‘a haunter of alehouses and a misdemeanerer’ and Thomas Foljambe of Stanton by Dale as being given to drunkenness and haunting alehouses in 1614. More bizarrely, in 1639 Edward Hollingshead of Brassington was described as, ‘who being (as we verily believe) distracted, said he lived incontinently with one Jane Bount and further said he was dead and buried and that he was the Messiah and that whoever believed not in him was damned’. ((R. Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire Clergy: parishes C’, Derbyshire Archaeological Society, 124 (2004), 266; LRO, Visitation Acta and Comperta B/V/i/28, 29; Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes A–B’, p. 56.)) But such cases were exceptional. The commissioners of parish livings in 1650 made more frequent, curt, scabrous comments (‘insufficient and a drunkard’ for John Botham of Allestree, insufficient for George Hill of Barlow and ‘scandalous’ for Thomas Alsop of Brassington and so on) without substantiating or defining their claims. ((Clark, ‘List of Derbyshire clergy: parishes A–B’, pp. 29, 42, 56.))

Less scarce were less sensational breaches of ecclesiastical discipline such as problems about licences, failure to read prayers on Wednesdays and Fridays and, above all, a propensity to perform clandestine marriages. The surviving diocesan court records throw up relatively few examples (eleven or so) of curates operating in chapelries without a licence in response to visitation articles. Even so, some of these cases suggest a potential for disorder in the chapelries from unlicensed ministers and raises the suspicion that the limited, surviving evidence might disguise a more substantial problem. Some occur in chapelries where the turnover of curates was high and the search for replacements (with consequent temptations to resort to the unlicensed) frequent. In 1601 a Humphrey Bradbury was cited and excommunicated for reading prayers unlicensed in Charlesworth chapel in the parish of Glossop, the first evidence that the chapel had survived in any form of use after the Reformation. Some inhabitants of Stanley disputed the right to nominate a curate there in 1637 and procured, according to interrogatories against them, ‘a kind of wandering minister to come to the chappell to preach’. They tried to browbeat the curate, with whom they were in dispute, to permit him though ‘he could or, at least, would not shewe any licence to preach’. Unlicensed ministers were clearly available. These villagers were careful to have another alternative candidate as curate licensed though ‘on false grounds’. ((Clark, ‘List of Derbyshire clergy: parishes C’, p. 268; LRO, Consistory Court Cause Papers B/C/4, 1637.))

The temptation of fees from clandestine marriages was too great for around fourteen curates serving chapelries; at least three of them were serial offenders, the penalty of suspension for this misdemeanour presumably exacerbating rather than deterring recidivism. ((The serial offenders detected were John Stansall, curate of Wingerworth, Edmund Nickson, curate of Chapel-en-le-Frith (appears as Whickson in the Calendar of State Papers), and John Stevenson, curate of Osmaston by Derby. TNA, PRO, SP 16/292, 128; LRO B/C/3, 14, 16, 17; B/V/2/11.)) This group probably represents a tip of an iceberg, if only because the diocesan archive is so incomplete. In quantitative terms about 73 of the approximately 650 (nearly 11.5 per cent) curates listed in the relevant livings either appear in the surviving church court records as having breached some aspect of ecclesiastical discipline or received curt, unsubstantiated, partisan reports in the survey of parish livings of 1650.

Even though the link between ill-endowed chapelries and ill-disciplined clergy is not fully sustainable, it is possible to support an association between impoverished curates, potentially inferior pastoral ministry and more limited educational attainment. Some chapelries, though not all, were likely to have been in the hands of proverbial ‘dumb dogs’, though the nature and limitations of the surviving records make an assessment of ministry a speculative and uncertain undertaking and observations tentative in their nature.

Because of my dependence of visitation call books to supply the names of clergy who served the chapelries of Derbyshire, one point I can categorically make is that the resulting lists of clergy are in most cases incomplete, some seriously so. ((The lists for chapelries in peculiars within the archdeaconry are especially incomplete because of an absence of sources.)) Even so, a comparison of these lists with those for benefices reveals that the turnover of clergy in chapelries on average was higher than in the latter. Curates of chapelries tended to move on. To cite extremes, from 1558 to 1662 there were three incumbents of the rectory of Stanton-by-the-Bridge while at least eighteen curates served Chaddesden and twenty Newton Solney. Whatever the quality of pastoral care, there was a lack of continuity in some chapelries.

On the other hand in a handful chapelries the same minister can be found ministering in the same place for years. Edward Newsham served Alvaston for the best part of forty years; Church Broughton had just three curates in more than ninety years, Scropton four in over eighty years and Smisby two in over sixty years. ((Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergymen: parishes A–B’, p. 30; idem, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergymen: parishes C’, pp. 265-6, 274-5; lists for Newton Solney, Scropton, Smisby, Stanton-by-the-Bridge in Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergymen’, Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, forthcoming.)) Clergy listing has revealed the diversity among livings and emphasized the dangers of drawing too sweeping generalizations.

Another generalization for which many exceptions can be found, is that curates who served chapelries tended to be in the early stages of their clerical careers and were likely, if not late ordinands, to be relatively youthful. Their age and experience presumably affected the style of their ministry and their skills of pastoral care as well shaped the social dynamic between themselves and their congregations with regards to the negotiation of levels of respect and deference by each side. How effectively was a curate able to establish himself when he might be deemed ‘wet behind the ears’? Unfortunately surviving records do not enlighten us much. What they do show is that many started their careers in a chapelry before going on to a benefice whereas others remained curates, so far as they can be traced, and went from one chapelry to the next until they disappear from the record. Much depended on luck, connections or endeavours in gaining the appropriate patronage, and especially on the location and character of one’s first chapelry and on who possessed the right of nomination to it.

A number of curates of Baslow and Edensor went on to benefices, presumably benefiting from their connections with the Cavendishes nearby at Chatsworth. Four curates who served Bretby Chapel on the estate of the Stanhope earls of Chesterfield became incumbents of livings, three of which were in the patronage of the family. ((Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes A–B’, pp. 59-60; Edensor in Clark, ‘Lists’, forthcoming.)) On the other hand where noble and gentry influence was weaker and communities less hierarchical, for example in some of the lead mining chapelries of the Peak District, curates could languish in a succession of schoolmasterships and curacies. On 13 June 1656 John Cantrell recorded the peregrinations of his thirty-year ministry in the parish register of Beeley chapel: curate and schoolmaster at Darley 1627-32, a private schoolmaster at Stanton in the Peak in the same parish 1633-4; back to Darley again 1636-44; curate and schoolmaster at neighbouring Ashover 1645-6; at Hucknall, Nottinghamshire 1647-8; and back to the Peak at Elton 1649-52, where the parliamentary commissioners in 1650 described him as ‘scandalous and insufficient’, Parwich 1653-5 Chelmorton 1656 and Beeley 1656. ‘Sic transit tempus vitae humanae’, he added without developing upon his state of mind. Diocesan records show William Higson first as schoolmaster at Ashford in the Water and thence as curate successively at Earl’s Sterndale, Stoney Middleton (twice), Mellor and Elton and Winster, all more or less in a ten mile radius. ((J. C. Cox, Notes on the churches of Derbyshire. II: The hundreds of High Peak and Wirksworth (Chesterfield, 1887), pp. 68-9; LRO, B/V/1/24, 25, 28, 32, 37 (Visitation libri cleri); B/V/4 (citations 1626), B/C/10/14, 70 (probate act book).))

A third generalization about those serving chapelries is the comparative modesty of their qualifications and educational attainment. The only readers listed in the visitation call books all served chapelries or benefices under long-term sequestration. It is not possible to assess how much use was made of lay readers in the archdeaconry. In some of the visitation call books the minister is simply listed by name rather than by office and in others the word curate is not always used to distinguish a clerk in holy orders from a lay reader. In a few cases someone described as a curate is later listed as a reader, perhaps because the diocesan authorities for the purposes of visitation were not concerned to discriminate too carefully. ((The cases uncovered are Thomas Gratton, curate of Belper 1605 and 1615 but reader in 1620, Robert Cartwright, curate of Normanton by Derby in 1603 but reader in 1609, and Nicholas Rowes, curate of Osmaston by Ashbourne in 1603 and 1605 but reader in 1616. Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes A–B’, p. 46; LRO, Dean and Chapter Records, AA11, 13, 17; B/V/1/27, 32 (visitation call books 1609, 1616).)) Whatever the case, there was a group of uncertain size, providing pastoral care yet lacking the minimal attainments to qualify for holy orders.

The clergy lists reveal that some readers were either ‘training on the job’ to attain holy orders or that they were marking time as readers until they attained the minimum canonical age for ordination to the diaconate and priesthood. Ralph Bowker was licensed to Heage in 1597 only on condition that he proceeded to ordination. Robert Gaderne, serving Church Broughton from at least 1570, was not ordained deacon until 1584. John Ridge, already serving Allestree in 1595, was not ordained deacon until 1597. Geoffrey Plattes at Denby by 1614 was ordained deacon in 1615 and Edward Goodwin at Littleover by 1579 was not priested until 1584. ((Clark, ‘Lists’, forthcoming (Heage and Littleover); Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes C’, p. 274; Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes A–B’, p. 29; Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes D’, pp. 173-4.))

Another feature of the chapelry clergy lists is the number of names appearing in them as a single reference. Over a quarter of the 650 individuals appear once in one particular place. As many of these names occur from the period when the Lichfield diocesan records are at their thinnest, the easiest explanation is the deficiency of the archive. It also highlights that limited extent to which I have been able to cross-reference clergy of the same name in other jurisdictions. On the other hand it is possible that within this group were individuals who only undertook pastoral responsibilities for a short time, perhaps because either they were readers, unable or unwilling to proceed to orders, or because, though ordained, they left a formal, active, official ministry. About these individuals no more can be said; but a few, better-recorded individuals have been traced who possibly followed these courses. Robert Campion witnessed wills as a cleric in the 1560s and was curate of Osmaston by Derby in 1570. He thereafter ceases to appear in visitation records, witness lists of wills and clerical subsidy records, but was buried in Derby in 1579 as ‘Sir’ Robert. He is described as a minister in his inventory but its details reveal his interests in malt rather than ministry and a personal estate of over £400. Along with his father, he was one of the first large-scale producers of this growth industry in the town. William King, a priest of the Holy Cross Gild in Chesterfield at its dissolution and curate of Barlow up to 1558, thereafter disappears from the visitation records, but the burial of William King ‘priest’ at Barlow is recorded in 1586. Here, perhaps, the explanation is religious rather than secular: withdrawal in the face of Elizabeth’s protestant settlement. ((LRO, B/V/1/7 (visitation call book); B/C/11 (wills and inventory: John Dasone of Osmaston 1562, John Sadler of Allestree 1565, John Robinson of Mickleover 1567); TNA, PRO, E179/19/516 (clerical subsidy assessment 1568 curate at Breadsall); LRO, B/C/10/7, fo. 163v (probate act book); B/C/11 (inventory of Robert Campion 1579); Derbyshire Record Office (DRO), D1145A/PI1 (Derby St Werburgh parish register); Clark, ‘Derbyshire clergy lists: parishes A–B’, p. 43.)) These two examples re-emphasize the potential importance of records other than those of ordination, subscription, licensing and visitation for exploring clerical career patterns.

The ideal of a learned clergy, educated to graduate level and able to preach, was late in being established in the archdeaconry of Derbyshire, and even later in its chapelries. The surveys of clergy made in 1593 and 1603 reveal that the few graduates and preachers there were, were concentrated in its benefices. In the 1593 list ninety-one clergy are listed and assessed by name; twenty-five were graduates and five more had attended university without graduating; thirteen were preachers. Of the thirty with some university education only five were unbeneficed and of these two served prestigious parishes in Derby. Only one of the preachers was unbeneficed but he served All Saints, Derby’s main church. The survey also contained notes about their scriptural learning. Of the fifteen described as ‘mediocrely learned’, eight were serving chapelries, though another eight non-beneficed clergy received more complimentary notices from exercised or versed to well-exercised, laudably versed or studious in Holy Writ. ((LPL, Carte Antique et Miscellanea, XIII, 37, 3, 11-14.)) In 1603 138 ministers were named and listed, 45 of whom had degrees and 22 of whom were licensed to preach, but of degree-holders all were beneficed except four. Five unbeneficed clergy were licensed preachers, but of these two served parishes in Derby. ((LRO, AA11, 8–17 (records of the dean and chapter of Lichfield).))

The educational attainment of the Derbyshire clergy was improving. Of those noted as mediocrely learned in Holy Writ, a majority had been ordained by Thomas Bentham the first Elizabethan bishop whereas William Overton, his successor, had ordained just one of them. Of the curates of chapelries exercised or well versed in the scriptures, two had been ordained by Bentham and four by Overton. ((These figures give a more positive view of Overton than that suggested by Burleigh’s accusation that he ordained unworthy men for personal gain. Rosemary O’Day, ‘Overton, William (1524/5?–1609)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) [, accessed 13 Oct 2007].)) Under Bishop Morton (1619-32) most Lichfield ordinands were graduates or non-graduates who had attended university. By year they never fell below 63 per cent (1626) of all ordinands and for most years of his episcopacy were above 80 per cent. ((LRO, B/A/4/18 (subscription book).)) As a result increasing numbers of them came to serve chapelries in the diocese in the 1620s, 1630s and 1640s. Nevertheless it was in the chapelries that non-graduate clergy continued to operate. Even as late as 1727 it was still felt that an otherwise under qualified candidate might serve a certain type of chapelry. Then William Bainbridge who owned the nomination to the populous, lead mining chapelry of Brassington, wrote from his Leicestershire home to Bishop Chandler, recommending Humphrey Simkin as curate. Despite his lack of university education and not being so well qualified ‘as you and I could wish’, given the necessity of the vacancy and ‘so small an income that scarcely anybody will accept of it’, he ‘hath discharged well his duty in teaching a school and been very charitable in teaching poor boys gratis which will without doubt render him very acceptable to that people who are ye greatest part of them very poor…’ ((DRO, D944/PI17 (Brassington parish records, letter of 6 Apr. 1727).))

One should not assume that the chapelries were a uniform pastoral desert, structurally impoverished and weak and staffed by an ill-qualified, even inept, clergy. There was more variety than that among them. Sometimes this feature is brought out by diocesan records, but more often one depends on less formal sources, particularly the biographical notices of clerics written by later, often dissenting, ministers.

Some of these livings were the focus of ‘godly’ endeavour, especially where sympathetic patrons offered support. At Calke Julines Herringe, chaplain of Robert Bainbridge, ministered for about eight years before 1618, according to Samuel Clarke, people flocking to hear him. ((Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes C’, p. 258.)) John Walker was less successful at Brampton; his tactlessness towards his congregation and their perception that he neglected his duties, resulted in his suspension for nonconformity in 1605. He was possibly the protégé of Godfrey Foljambe and Isabel, his wife, of nearby Walton Hall. Foljambe had also established a lecturer in Chesterfield, the next town, with George Tuke, another nonconformist, as the town preacher. In the 1630s John Shaw was appointed lecturer in Brampton to work alongside John Wood, ‘the reading minister’. ((Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes A–B’, pp. 54-5.)) At Buxton a chapel was built in the 1620s to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the spa, serviced first by Charles Broxhome, a nonconformist firebrand until his suspension in 1635, and then by Robert Constantine, a Glasgow graduate of English origin, who, according to William Bagshaw, the later nonconformist, who knew him as a youth, built on his predecessor’s foundations. ((Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes A–B’, pp. 60-1.)) Robert Porter, his biographer and younger contemporary, recorded how John Hieron, as the household chaplain of the Leighs of Egginton, had preached in Newton Solney chapel and at the countess of Chesterfield’s Friday sermons in Bretby chapel, more evidence of the Stanhopes’ patronage of younger clerics. He also attended the exercise at Repton, a perpetual curacy, which flourished from at least the early 1600s until 1633. Later in his career he established a monthly lecture at Dale Abbey, a chapel in a peculiar, ‘kindly embraced by the people of Dale and … well frequented’ until a ‘Church and king’ mob from Derby forced its closure at the Restoration. ((Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes A–B’, pp. 32, 58; idem, ‘Anglicanism, recusancy and dissent in Derbyshire 1603-1730’, University of Oxford, D.Phil. dissertation, 1979, pp. 110, 119; DRO, D632/PW1 (churchwardens’ accounts, Repton 1623-5, 1627, 1633); Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes D’, p. 171.))

In his De Spiritualibus Pecci (1700) William Bagshaw had kind words for a number of non-beneficed ministers of Peak chapelries, even if, unlike him, they had conformed in 1662. Robert Craven of Great Longstone and Anthony Mellor of Taddington were both ‘labourers in the Lord’s vineyard’ and he recalled how Mellor’s enemies had ‘declaimed against him … being for the strict observation of the Lord’s Day and against the profanation of it by Sports or pastimes’. Mr Cresswell at Edale was ‘worthy’ and Robert Wright, his successor, ‘tho’ less furnished than many with a desirable library and falling short of not a few as to outward estate, was diligent in service and patient in suffering for God’. ((William Bagshaw, De Spiritualibus Pecci (1700), pp. 14, 16, 25-7.))

The problem of such biographical sources is that they cover not only a tiny proportion of the non-beneficed ministry, usually briefly and in passing, but also partially and long after the events in pursuit of their own, post-Restoration, nonconformist agendas. Their reliability is open to question. John Shaw claimed in his Memorials that Bishop Morton was initially suspicious of, but eventually impressed, by his youthful abilities. As a result he omitted to demand subscription from him and permitted him to preach anywhere in the diocese soon after his arrival at Brampton in 1630. This account is undermined by Shaw’s signed subscription in the bishop’s book, dated 31 January 1632 for preaching specifically at Brampton. ((Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes A–B’, p. 55; LRO, B/A/4/18 (subscription book).))

Occasionally visitation and consistory court records permit glimpses of personalities, voluntary activities, practices and events which hint that pastoral conditions in some chapelries were more varied and less bleak than cold, statistical analysis might first suggest. They reveal Walter Hieron was able to survive for forty years as a puritan nonconformist minister, first sheltered as a curate in the vicarage of Stapenhill by a sympathetic and pluralist residentiary canon of Lichfield cathedral and then, until his suspension in 1636, as curate to the curate of Chellaston who was also farmer of the tithes there and pastorally neglectful, having ‘for many years received the fleece and starved the flock’. ((Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes C’, p. 269.)) The call books show that Repton was occasionally served by the headmasters and ushers of the school, possibly including Thomas Whitehead, a famed schoolmaster in his day. ((A. MacDonald, A short history of Repton (London, 1929), pp. 98-9, 244; LRO, B/C/10/14, fo. 15v, B/C/10/15, fo. 284 (probate act books); B/C/11 (will and inventory of Philip Ward 1640); B/V/4/18 (subscription book); B/V/1/62 (visitation call book 1639); B/V/4 (visitation citations 1626).)) In 1636 Adam Blakeman was listed as lecturer in Heage chapel. He soon fled ‘from that storm that began to look black upon him’, turning up in New England soon afterwards along with other emigrants from Derbyshire. ((LRO, B/V/1/57 (visitation call book); C. Mather, Magnalius Americana or the ecclesiastical history of New England (Hartford, 1853 edn) and personal communications from Dr William M. Baillie and Jane E. Wilcox.)) Then on 11 February 1639 William Montgomery appeared before the diocesan consistory court. There he recounted how he had been present in Scropton church to hear divine service and heard Emmanuel Heywood curate of Church Broughton declaim from the pulpit against impenitents and incorrigible sinners. So effective was Heywood’s preaching that Montgomery confessed to his sin of fornication with one Anne Barlowe alias Robinson eighteen years before, a confession he repeated to the court. Heywood was, so far as we know, a non-graduate who, when he first appeared at Church Broughton in 1620, was listed as a reader. ((Clark, ‘Lists of Derbyshire clergy: parishes C’, pp. 274-5.)) So much for the pastoral ineffectiveness of the ‘dumb dogs’ of puritan propaganda, though the parliamentary commissioners of 1650 thought him ‘insufficient’!

Heywood appears among Walker’s suffering clergy as a committed Prayer Book man. Forced from his rectory at Barton Blount by the local parliamentarian garrison, he returned to Church Broughton nearby. There he conducted a baptism, wearing a surplice and using a Book of Common Prayer; the soldiers discovered him and destroyed both book and vestment. ((Bodleian Library, Walker MS C5, 83.)) When William Derbyshire curate of Stanley died in 1674 he was described on his memorial inscription as ‘a learned man, worthy of holy orders and skilled in the art of healing, distinguished in knowledge as well as virtue’. ((C. Kerry, ‘A literal transcript of the oldest register of West Hallam, Derbyshire’, Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 9 (1887), 110.))

One feature of these Derbyshire chapelries is how little complaint there was about them and the clergy serving them from those at the receiving end of pastoral care. On occasion in visitations parishioners in chapelries might complain about the deficiencies of repair or furnishings in the chapel and particular disciplinary failings of their curate, but not about the structure and system behind their pastoral provision in general. There is little idea that living in a chapelry and being served by a curate was per se being pastorally short-changed. Such concern seemed to come more from above – from bishops and their critics and later historians reading back concerns about parochial provision to an earlier age.

This view might well be a distorted one, the result of studying a modestly sized archdeaconry with an even more modest archive. Alternatively, perhaps the lack of protest resulted from a lack of a suitable forum to express it. On the other hand parishioners, served by chapels and curates, might not have regarded themselves as underprivileged in comparison to others. Pastoral experience in chapelries was far from uniform and, perhaps, was not recognized as clearly inferior to conditions in under-endowed vicarages or in rectories served by underpaid curates of non-resident rectors.

When in the 1640s and 1650s augmentation grants were made to some parish livings, the reasons for their selection is never fully clear in the surviving order books. There is little evidence in the order books that the grants were made in response to popular pressures in the livings themselves. They seem to have resulted from the availability of sequestered funds and through clergy who ministered in or near the source of those funds and who had the approval of current local power brokers. The parliamentary commissioners of 1650 made all sorts of recommendations about the union of chapels, their disuse, their setting up as independent parishes, but the survey contains little about whom they consulted and how they made their decisions. Only once is there a suggestion of popular concern about ecclesiastical provision when they reported that the inhabitants of Beard in Glossop Parish would be willing to erect a new church at their own expense. ((LPL, Comm XIIa/6, 443 (parliamentary survey of parishes 1650).))

Bishop Wright had interdicted the chapel of Stanley in 1637 for the meagreness of the curate’s stipend and imposed an agreement that parishioners paid an annual stipend of £10 to a curate, henceforth nominated by the vicar of the mother church of Spondon. A group of leading inhabitants resisted for the next two years. They intruded their own candidate into the pulpit and locked out the curate nominated by the vicar. They were still refusing to pay their contributions to the curate’s stipend in 1639. They preferred to defend their own dubious rights to nomination rather than have a better remunerated, more attractive curacy. ((LRO, B/V/4 (consistory court papers 1637); B/V/1/64 (visitation acta and comperta); even though in the previous decade this had led to at least one curate of doubtful character, one whom by chance we know was old, poor and blind and who conducted at least one clandestine marriage, for which see Nottingham University Manuscripts Department, PB302/1621 (archdeaconry of Nottingham presentments).))

So, far from producing order by listing clergy under parish headings, something less tidy has emerged: no definitive list of places of public worship, let alone a complete list of names. The structural deficiencies of chapelries have been highlighted, but so have the flexibility and variety within the structure. The weaknesses of the ministry in them is apparent but so is the rise of a largely graduate clergy by the 1620s and 1630s and the strengths and integrity of several individuals. The incompleteness and complexity of the surviving diocesan records leaves much about the Derbyshire chapelries that is unclear or unanswerable. Casting the net more widely and using a broader range of sources appears a way forward but produces its own set of problems and renders the initial objective of listing by name under parish subject to a law of diminishing returns.


This paper was given to the Clergy of the Church of England Database Conference, The Northern Diocese’, 27 October 2006, University of Manchester).