The Marquess of Londonderry
presented petitions from the town of Darlington, from Slockton-on-Tees, from South Shields, and several places in the diocese of Durham, against the See of Durham Bill, and praying that no transfer of the revenues of that See might be made until the spiritual wants of the diocese of Durham had been fully provided for. The noble Marquess also presented a petition from the clergy of the county of Durham, praying for the delay of the legislative measures affecting the spiritual interests of the diocese of Durham.
§ The petition having been read by the Clerk,
The Marquess of Londonderry
said, that the petition which had just been read, and which emanated from that most respectable body, the clergy of the county 362 palatine of Durham, deserved the serious consideration of the House. He hoped that their Lordships would grant the prayer of those petitioners, and that they would agree to the motion for a Select Committee, to which this and other petitions of the same nature might be referred, with which it was his intention to conclude. He would not take up their Lordships' time unnecessarily, by making any remarks on the nature of the general advice given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but he would call their especial attention to the petition which had last been read, and to the parties from whom it came. They were individuals who well understood the situation in which the see of Durham was likely to be placed if the revenues abstracted from it were appropriated to general purposes; they were not uneducated men—they were, in fact, the parochial working clergy of the diocese, and they called on their Lordships not to sanction a departure from the principle which had been laid down in other cases, where surplus revenue was to be appropriated; they requested that their Lordships would not suffer to be done, with reference to the see of Durham, that which had not been insisted on in other instances,—in other words, they required, and nothing could be more reasonable, that the application of the surplus revenue of the See of Durham should not be applied to general purposes, until local purposes were fully answered. He felt that he stood in an embarrassing position when he advocated the cause of these petitioners, since, in doing so, it might be supposed that he wished to cast reflections on the Commissioners. He had no such intention; and he should state the object of the petitioners, without meaning to challenge the enlarged views of the Commissioners. He should confine himself to that one point, and harboured no intention whatsoever of animadverting on, or stating his general opinion of, the course which the Commissioners had recommended. He was sorry that the noble Duke (Cleveland), the Lord-lieutenant of the county, was not in his place to support the view which he took of this subject. The noble Duke was not, however, present; and if that noble Duke had received any intimation or any communication from the noble Viscount opposite as to the abstraction of the revenue of the See of Durham, or 363 upon any other point connected with that subject, he hoped the noble Viscount would state what that communication was. He had certainly heard that something had been communicated; but he should be sorry to state, in the absence of the noble Duke, that which he had heard. He feared that, in bringing this subject forward, he should be entirely bereft of aid; for he was informed that the opinion of the noble Duke near him (the Duke of Wellington) had been strongly given on the question. He should say nothing against the Report, generally speaking, of the Commissioners; but he objected to parts of it, especially that part which related to the See of Durham. He understood that the noble Duke near him did not hold himself responsible for any of the proceedings of this Commission. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Duke would look into this part of the subject, and extend the same support to the parochial clergy of the diocese of Durham, a diocese unequalled for its poverty, that was proposed to be extended to the clergy of other places. The great object of the second Report appeared to be to create new bishops, and not to extend the influence and efficiency of the parochial clergy. No; everything was to be grasped at for the purpose of creating two new bishops. The first Report did not by any means go to the extent of the second. The first Report said nothing about abstracting the revenues of the deans and chapters, which were now applicable to local purposes, for purposes of a general nature, which the second Report recommended, and then went to fix the amount to be abstracted from different sees, from Durham, London, Canterbury, &c. Part of the revenues thus abstracted was, it appeared, to be employed in assisting the clergy of Wales. But he could prove that there were livings in Durham as poor as any living in Wales. Now before they took, as was proposed, a surplus of 41,000l. from Durham, they ought to consider the actual wants of that diocese. Yes, the spiritual wants of the see of Durham required a sum very little short of 21,000l. The petitioners, by their concluding summary, showed that, on a moderate computation, not less than 21,000l. would be requisite for spiritual purposes. They argued that spiritual wants should first be provided for, before general purposes 364 were attended to, and they wished that an act should be passed for that object. The petitioners said, "Appropriate, if you will a certain portion of these surplus revenues to general purposes, but do not abstract the whole, and neglect the spiritual wants of the people, by neglecting the interest of the parochial clergy." The noble Marquess quoted a number of tables to show the spiritual wants of the See of Durham, of which the following is a summary.If the just and imperative, claims of the livings of the Bishop and the Dean and Chapter on the surplus funds were granted to the full amount required—*and if half the amount necessary for augmenting livings in other patronage than that of the Bishop and the Dean and Chapter were granted, on condition that lay patrons or lay impropriators furnish the remaining half, a principle now acted on by the Governors of Queen Ann's Bounty Fund, in augmenting poor livings—the following sums would be required, viz.:—
This statement shows that, on a moderate scale of augmentation, there ought to be a reservation of an annual sum of no less than 21,000l. out of the alleged surplus ecclesiastical revenues of the diocese. That the ecclesiastical wants of the diocese of Durham should be provided for in the first instance is but common justice, both as regards the inhabitants and the right disposition of the revenues left for its specific ecclesiastical requirements. The abstraction of its church emoluments, without first attending to its own necessities, will create, and justly so, universal dissatisfaction throughout the diocese. The livings in the patronage of the Bishop and the Dean and Chapter of Durham have an especial claim on the surplus ecclesiastical revenues of the Bishop and the Dean and Chapter. All the churches in their gift, under the amount specified, are situated in parishes which pay tithes, or otherwise contribute to the respective emoluments of the Bishop and the Dean and Chapter. It, therefore, cannot be satisfactory to the inhabitants of such parishes to see tithes and other property paid over to Queen Ann's Bounty Board, to be given to churches in London or elsewhere, while their own churches 365 remain so inadequately endowed. To abstract these revenues without first supplying the wants of such benefices from what was their original endowments would be an act towards them of the greatest injustice, and it is to be hoped that neither House of Parliament will sanction such a principle. Although the livings not in the patronage of the Bishop or Dean and Chapter have not an equal claim with those in their patronage, yet they certainly have a prior claim for augmentation to all benefices not within the diocese, and the plan suggested in this statement may obviate some difficulties which might arise as regards the claims of such livings on the surplus ecclesiastical revenues. The endowments required for new churches ought to be provided for out of the alleged surplus revenues in whatever parishes they are wanted. In general the poverty of the people, where new churches are needed, and where, consequently, very little can be expected from pew rents, renders the incumbents in a great measure dependent on the endowments for their support. From these considerations it appears highly important that a sufficient sum be secured for the diocese, by a special enactment of the Legislature. If this statement be productive of no other effect, it will tend to show the real wants of the diocese of Durham, and the justice of applying such of its ecclesiastical revenues as the Commissioners consider to be surplus to the real ecclesiastical wants of the diocese, before any of it be applied to the general augmentation of livings throughout the kingdom. The surplus of the revenues of the diocese of Durham, as stated by the commissioners, is as follows:—
According to the Archbishop's Act. According to the plan suggested. Bishop's Livings £3,252 £3,318 Chapter's ditto 5,423 5,419 New Churches 5,000 5,000 *Other Livings 7,645 6,940 Total annual amount required £21,320 £20,677"
If this amount of revenue were abstracted the parochial Clergy would have no confidence that any portion of it would hereafter be applied to the local necessities of the diocese. They very reasonably asked, that at least a certain portion of it should be left to be applied to the local wants and necessities of the diocese. He hoped that the local wants of the diocese would not be overlooked, and that the whole revenues of the diocese would not be seized upon by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the purpose of creating new Bishops. He had received a letter from a Clergyman in that diocese, which would show the manner in 366 which many of the parochial clergy of that diocese were provided for. The letter was as follows:—
From the See £11,066 From the Dean and Chapter 29,886 Total Annual Amount £40,952Hartlepool, July 12, 1836.My Lord—It is the humble request of my parishioners, the inhabitants of Hartlepool, that your Lordship will be so condescending and obliging as to present this their petition to the House of Lords. I regret that it is not more numerously signed, but a great majority of all who can write have signed it, and I am sure it has the good wishes of nearly all the rest. The death of our late lamented diocesan is, perhaps, a greater loss to Hartlepool than to any other place; for the endowment of the living (during the two years I have had it) exclusive of the surplus fees and Easter offerings, has scarcely realised 70l. per annum. At the end of the first year of my incumbency I laid this statement, with its various items, before the late Bishop, and he presented me with 100l., and as my health at that time was delicate he supplied me with a curate, engaging to do so during his incumbency. His Lord-ship intimated also that, as I have a numerous family, and have had a great deal of sickness in my house, with little or next to no private resources, I might always look up to him for assistance in my pecuniary difficulties. I never doubted of his Lordship allowing me a yearly sum to relieve my wants, but I have no express engagement in any of his Lordship's letters to that effect. From this your Lordship will perceive that Hartlepool, in a peculiar manner, and to a great degree, will suffer by the proposed abstraction of the surplus revenues of the see of Durham.—I am, my Lord, your Lordship's humble and devoted servant,R. TAYLOR.To the Most Noble the Marquess of Londonderry.In the diocese of Durham there were eleven livings under 70l. per annum, twenty-eight under 100l., six under 200l., and seventy-nine under 300l. Now, under the Act of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Durham was empowered to raise these livings to 300l. a year. There were many similar livings under the Deans and Chapters, and a very appropriate application of a portion of this surplus would be made in raising the amount of those livings. The Noble Marquess proceeded to read the following statement:—The population of Durham, in round numbers, is 350,000, and the number of scholars in the free schools of Catholics and Dissenters only amount to 500. Now, see the number educated under the Established Church. There are at present in connexion with the Diocesan School Society 309 schools, at which are educated 23,428 children, either altogether free of expense or on payment of a very small sum, say a penny weekly. Hence, by means 367 of this Society, upwards of 23,000 poor children receive an education which they otherwise would not receive, and the schools are maintained principally by the Bishop and Dean and Chapter; and thus it is obvious that if the income of the Bishop be reduced the Prebendaries abolished, and the money hitherto spent by them be carried to other counties, the Society must fall to the ground for want of funds, and the children of the poor will be deprived of the advantages of education. By transferring, however, the so-called surplus revenue of the Bishop and Prebendaries to the increase of small livings this result will be prevented; for the report shows that the parochial Clergy are as liberal, according to their means, as the higher dignitaries, in supporting the Society.He would ask the right reverend prelates whether they had been informed to this extent before they had seen the paper to which he had just referred? Their Lordships' Table was daily crowded with petitions from every part of the county of Durham; there were petitions both from the people and the clergy; and he trusted their Lordships would not disregard them. He hoped the House would consider whether, by some clause, or an instruction to a Committee, a portion of the revenues of this bishopric might not be reserved to augment the poor livings of the see. On this point he would read a paper sent to the late Bishop of Durham in April, 1835:—