Friday, February 25, 2011

Wolverton's Ecclesiastical History - VI The Quartley Years

After the death of Samuel Hale in 1794 the Trustees appointed Henry Quartley, a nephew of their former land agent, as Vicar. Quartley was a man of some energy, although his approach to the ministry was closer to that of an 18th century squire rather than a 19th century churchman. He enjoyed hunting and sat on the bench as J.P., where he was fairly unforgiving in his sentencing of the miscreants brought before him.

He re-opened the case for the lost tithes in 1797 and put his case that the living had no glebe to produce income nor tithes. The Trustees were willing to listen but would not take the matter further until there was proper documentation. Accordingly they authorized the secretary to the Trust, Thomas Wall, to inspect the ancient documents held in the Radcliffe Library. As a goodwill gesture, they doubled the stipend to £100.

The tenant farmers on the estate were less happy. What they foresaw was the likelihood of any imposition of tithes for Quartley as an additional tax on their own earnings and accordingly, when the matter was considered by a court it was expressed as a complaint between Henry Quartley and the principal farm tenants, Thomas Battams, Thomas Gleed, Thomas Ratcliffe and William Wilkinson and the Trustees as lay rectors. The Trust, as far as was possible, tried to stay impartial. The case was eventually heard on August 20th 1805 before a panel of 24 jurymen. They decided against the complainant and ruled that Henry Quartley was not entitled to receive any tithes.

This was the end of the matter. For those interested in the detail of this case, Edmund Escourt. the solicitor for the Trust, prepared the following summary.

Dear Sirs,

Battams ats. QuartIey, Clk.

I have much pleasure in informing you that the Issue directed in this Cause by the Court of Exchequer came on for Trial on Tuesday last at Buck­ingham before the Lord Chief Baron and a full and very respectable Special Jury of the County, when after a Hearing of upwards of seven hours a verdict was given in favour of the Trustees by which theyr Right as Lay Impropri­ator to all Tythes arising within the parish of Wolverton is fully established.

From the manner in which this Cause was conducted the Chief Baron took occasion to observe that the Trustees had acted in the most candid, open and liberal way, as well as having produced an old Terriar of the date r639 which was found amongst their manuscripts in the Radcliffe Library (and which as far as it went was evidence against themselves), as also in admitting copies of antient Papers of the Claim set up by the Vicar, instead of putting him to the expense of producing the originals extracted from the proper custody. He also observed that it was a very extraordinary Circumstance that in the year 1805 they should be called upon by the Vicar to enforce an Endowment of 1209 (but which was in fact no endow­ment but a mere Memorandum found in an antient Book without date or title, and by whom made, on what occasion, or when did not appear), when the constant usage had run counter to that Endowment ever since the Dis­solution of the Monasteries, at least except in one or two instances at the beginning of the last century, at which time by the depositions taken in a suit instituted by the then Vicar it appeared that two old men had once paid some small tythes to a former vicar. The acquiescence of the predecessor of the present vicar to the perception and enjoyment of the tythes of hay, as well as of the small tythes within this extensive parish by the Lay Rector for such a length of time, if there was any pretence for the Vicar's being entitled to them, he thought must appear also very extraordinary, when it was proved (as had been that day done by Mr Harrison) that the annual value of these tythes was considerably more than £200. He likewise com­mented on other parts of the evidence produced by the Vicar, observing that some documents contradicted others, and upon the whole he said he thought that upon such papers, such memorandums and such scraps as had been produced in this case, the Vicar had been rash or ill advised in commencing this suit, constant usage having been in the Lay Rector.

The Jury, when they delivered their verdict, said they very much lamen­ted that the Vicar had not made out a case, and as the stipendiary payment was so very small and insignificant they had unanimously agreed to express their most earnest wish that the Trustees would place him in such a situation as would enable him to support the character which he held in the church with that respect which belonged to it, and that they had thought it their duty to make this representation to His Lordship not doubting but that it would be communicated by him to the Trustees.

Mr Wilson (who led the cause for the Trustees) then informed His Lord­ship and the Jury that the Trustees were so well aware of the inadequacy of the stipend to the support of the Vicar that they had for several years past gratuitously made him an allowance of £100 per annum in addition to it, and that Mr Quartley was at that moment in the receipt of it, notwith­standing the pendency of the suit, but that he had abstained from making this observation to them before from motives of delicacy as well as from a wish that nothing should fall from him which could in the most remote degree interfere with the merits of the question to be decided by them. The Jury seemed very much pleased with this information, and the Chief Baron observed that the conduct of the Trustees and of those concerned for them in the management of their business deserved the highest encomions and that the Jury might rest perfectly satisfied from the high and dignified char­acters of the gentlemen in whom this property was vested, as well as from the specimen which they had had of the great liberality which had been already evinced by them (and particularly as the property so vested in them was for the benefit of an University) that they would do what was right and proper for the support of the Vicar and for the dignity of the church. I shall only add that I shall leave it to you to communicate the contents of this letter to the Trustees in such a manner as you shall think proper.

I remain, etc.


L.I.F. 24 July 1805

Beneath the delicacy of phrasing in this letter we can read that the Court was unimpressed with Quartley's case and that he would have been better advised not to have wasted the court's time. It is interesting to note that the Court felt that Quartley's predecessors had been content with the arrangement, and when it had been raised a century before by Thomas Evans, all the evidence they could summon was that of two old men with dim recollections.

The episode tells us something about Quartley's character which certainly contrasts with the meek and accommodating Edmund Green.

Quartley did, however, spearhead the building of the new church, about which, more in the next post.

In addition to the Wolverton post he was also Rector of Wicken and in 1832 became Rector of Stantonbury. The last-named parish was very under-populated but still had the church of St Peter at Stanton Low. Presumably this extra benefice brought additional income to the Reverend Quartley without too much extra work.

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