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BEFORE THE CHARITY COMMISSIONERS, 1894. “The majority of the Trustees have no power under the Trust Deed to alter or divert the purposes of the institution.”—ŞIR SAMUEL ROMILLY, 1833. IN January, 1894, when an inquiry was held by the Charity Commissioners at Bradford, Yorkshire, and this Charity was mentioned, the Commissioner remarked that he had not heard of it before; and it was claimed by the late Canon Bardsley, the Vicar of Bradford, as a Church of England Charity, on the ground that it required the Catechism to be taught; but no further information was afforded at the time. Some correspondence on the matter subsequently took place in the local newspapers, and a memorial was addressed to the Charity Commissioners, January 14th, 1895, setting forth the nature of the original Trust, the injustice done to Nonconformists by its mal-administra. tion, and their claim to participate in its management and benefit. This memorial was signed by Bryan Dale, M.A., and James Browne, B.A., Congregational ministers, Bradford. It was, after a time, at the desire of the Commissioners, laid before the trustees; and copies of Lye's Catechism and Alleine's “Sure Guide," of which the trustees said they had no knowledge, were placed before them. But it was not until after much correspondence between the Commissioners and the trustees, and nearly a year and a half had elapsed, that the trustees, whilst expressing their willingness to admit Nonconformists to participate in the benefits of the Charity, definitely declined (May, 1896) to apply for a new scheme, and further action became necessary.
SECOND REPORT OF THE CHARITY COMMISSIONERS, 1895.
Meanwhile the Reports of the Inquiry of the Special Charity Commissioners were published. The Bradford Report, after referring to the first Commissioners' Report in 1820, and giving additional particulars, stated: “The substitution of the Book of Common Prayer for the Catechism mentioned in the original deed (which was not the Church Catechism) is said to have been made about the beginning of this century. It is also alleged that the restriction of the Charity to the Church of England is contrary to the original Trust and to the intentions of the Founder.”
In the Halifax Report, which was issued later, it was stated that there were sent to the incumbents of thirtyone churches in that parish belonging to the Church of England, in 1893 : 397 Bibles and Prayer Books and 37 Reward Books; and in 1894: 435 Bibles and Prayer Books and 45 Reward Books. At the inquiry the Vicar of Halifax said that the Bibles and Prayer Books which he received he gave to the children attending the three Sunday-schools connected with the Parish Church. According to information supplied by the secretary of the trustees, notice of the instruction respecting the preaching of a sermon on the Holy Scriptures was "regularly sent to the Vicar of Halifax every third year, but payments for sermons or distributions are only made when applied for, and the Vicar of Halifax has not applied for several years."
It was further stated in this report: "The Catechism prescribed by the above-mentioned Instructions was not the Church of England Catechism, but the Grounds and Principles of the Christian Religion contained in the Shorter Catechism, with the Proofs thereof out of the Scriptures, otherwise known as the Shorter Catechism, a Presbyterian compilation drawn up by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, of which Lord Wharton was himself a lay member. The Book of Common Prayer is now distributed instead of this Catechism. The Reward Books prescribed in the Instructions were Joseph Alleyne's 'Sure Guide to Heaven,' and Thomas Lye's • Principles of the Christian Religion. Those now given are Bishop Oxenden's Pathway of Safety,' and the
Imitation of Christ,' by Thomas à Kempis. The Instructions also prescribed that when the sermons were preached there should be conceived (ie, extempore) prayers by the minister who should preach the sermon, before and after the same.” Finally, it was added in a Note: “In consequence of representations made to the Commissioners as to the present method of administering this Charity, and upon the refusal of the trustees to apply for the establishment of a scheme, the case of this Charity has been certified to the Attorney-General (October 16th, 1896).”
According to the return of the annual income and expenditure of the Charity to June, 1896, it appeared that the amount invested in 2} per cent. Annuities and in Consols was £52,602 vis. Id., and the dividends paid during the year preceding June 27th, 1896, were £1,323 45. 8d. Bibles, Prayer Books, and rewards were sent to twenty-three places, and in every case (with one exception previously mentioned) these were sent to clergymen of the Church of England, who were paid small sums for distribution, varying from 25. 6d. to £i 12s. 6d. (Sheffield), and in six instances ros. each for
Five of the trustees received £4 each, and one £ 2, for attendance “to audit the accounts." The Secretary was paid £75 as salary and £20 as an honorarium. The remainder of the expenditure was for Bibles (4,600), Prayer Books (4,600), Bishop Oxenden's
Pathway of Safety” (260), the “Imitation of Christ' (210), and various other expenses, carriage, &c., amounting to £ 1,220 25. 8d., and there was a balance in hand of £1,044 75. 2d.
In the absence of information concerning the result of the certification by the Charity Commissioners, Mr. Albert Spicer, M.P., asked the Attorney-General, in the House of Commons (March 12th, 1897), whether he had received an intimation from the Commissioners to the effect that an information should be instituted in connection with the Charity, and if so, what stage the proceedings had reached? And to this question the
Attorney-General replied: “I have received a certificate from the Charity Commissioners relating to Lord Wharton's Charity. Under my directions an action for a scheme has been commenced and a statement of claim delivered. I am now waiting for the statement of defence of the defendants."
BEFORE THE COURT OF CHANCERY, 1896. "Against the Attorney-General no time will run, for he represents the Trust."-LORD COTTENHAM, 1844.
An action was brought in the High Court of Justice (Chancery Division), before Mr. Justice Chitty, between Her Majesty's Attorney-General, Plaintiff; and the Right Hon. George, Earl of Kinnoul, Lieut.-Col. the Hon. Charles Rowley Hay, the Rev. Canon Francis Henry Murray, John Archibald Shaw Stewart, Col. Francis Haygarth, John Gilbert Talbot, and the Hon. John Stewart Gathorne Hardy (commonly called Lord Medway), Defendants. Writ issued, November 26th, 1896. The statement of claim set forth the main facts pertaining to the Founder of the Charity and his Trust Deed and Instructions, the same in substance as stated in the memorial addressed to the Charity Commissioners, and was as follows:
“ The said Lord Wharton was an Independent, and a personal friend of Oliver Cromwell, and was a lay member of the Westminster Assembly of Divines. He took an active part on the side of the Parliament in the Civil War. After the Restoration he was, and continued till his death in 1696 to be, a friend and patron of the Nonconformist ministers who were ejected from their benefices in consequence of the passing of the Act of Uniformity, in 1662, and assisted them in the holding of meetings for Nonconformist worship. After the passing of the Toleration Act, in 1690 , he founded meeting-houses for Protestant Nonconformists. It is stated by the Defendants that he also endowed and presented to certain benefices of the Church of England, and was buried in the church at Wooburn,
“ The Catechism mentioned in Clause 2 of the said Instructions appears, from the close similarity of the title, to be what is known as
The Shorter Catechism,' drawn up, in 1648, by the Westminster Assembly of Divines, which was constituted almost entirely of
Presbyterians, and other Dissenters. The said Shorter Catechism was in general use by Nonconformists at the date of the said Indenture and Instructions, and is believed to be still used by the Presbyterians and otlfer Nonconformists.
“The said Joseph Alleyne and Thomas Lye, whose works are mentioned in Clause 12 of the said Instructions, were Nonconformist ministers who were ejected from their livings in consequence of the said Act of Uniformity. The book entitled “The Principles of the Christian Religion,' by the said Thomas Lye, contains the said Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly, with a commentary thereon."
After referring to the correspondence of the Defendants with the Charity Commissioners to this effect : that Bibles and the Church of England Prayer Book, together with other religious books, were annually sent to certain places; that the distributors appointed were as a rule (but not invariably) incumbents of parishes; that the Shorter Catechism before mentioned was not distributed and the works of Alleine and Lye were out of print; that this method of administering the Charity had been in operation for at least one hundred years, except that Church Catechisms were at one time distributed instead of Prayer Books; that in substance the benefits of the Charity were enjoyed exclusively by members of the Church of England, but that a few applications had been received from Nonconformists, some of which had been granted ; and that the Defendants were, it was believed, all members of the Church of England, the statement of claim went on to say:
“On the 14th of January, 1895, a Memorial was presented to the Charity Commissioners by certain Nonconformist ministers at Bradford, claiming that Nonconformists in the places mentioned in the said Instructions ought to participate in the benefits of the Charity. After the said Memorial had been communicated to the Defendants, the Charity Commissioners, by letter of the 4th of March, 1896, indicated their agreement with the views expressed in the said Memorial, and requested the Defendants to apply for a Scheme to be established by the Commissioners. In their reply of the 11th of May, 1896, the Defendants refused to make a request for a Scheme, but stated they would consent that half the income of the Charity should be distributed in the form of Bibles among children of the