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Church of England, and the other half by Nonconformist bodies, and that the said sermon should be preached as to one-half by clergy of the Church of England, and as to the other half by Nonconformist ministers.
“The Charity Commissioners, by letter of the 6th of June, 1896, indicated their opinion that no scheme would be satisfactory which did not provide for the introduction into the body of the Trustees of representatives of the various sections of religious opinion comprehended in the Founder's design. By their reply of the 29th of June, 1896, the Defendants refused to assent to any alteration in the method of appointing new Trustees. The Charity Commissioners then certified the case of the said Charity to the Attorney-General under Section 20 of the Charitable Trusts Act, 1853."
The Attorney-General claimed that a scheme might be established by the Court for the administration of the said Charity (January 2nd, 1897).
THE DECISION OF THE COURT. “The Court will take account of the circumstances by which the author of an instrument for a religious purpose was surrounded at the time.”—Judgment of the House of Lords, 1843 (Eccles. Commission Reports, Vol. I., p. xi., 1883).
When it became known that the Charity was actually before the Court, considerable interest was excited in the case, especially among Congregationalists, many of whom, residing in the counties to which Lord Wharton's Charity pertained, had long and deeply felt the injustice of its diversion. The Deputies of Protestant Dissenters in London also interested themselves therein, and made application (March, 1897) through Mr. Alfred J. Shepheard for leave to intervene in the action, so that all the facts might be placed before the Court.
It was expected that full evidence would have been received, and the case argued on behalf of Nonconformists; but“ it was decided by the Master in Chambers that only parties to the action could be heard ”-viz. the Attorney-General and the Trustees.
Although no opportunity was afforded for the direct representation of Nonconformists before the Court, steps were taken to ascertain their views and aims with respect to the Charity; and when it was decided by the judge that a scheme should be established, the late Solicitor-General sent a communication to the central authorities of the principal Nonconformist Denominations, requesting them to offer suggestions with a view to the preparation of a scheme. On receipt of this communication (August, 1897) the Committee of the Congregational Union appointed a Special Committee for this purpose; which, after careful consideration of “the terms of the deed of foundation," the history of the Charity, and the changes that had occurred in relation to it during the last two centuries, made the following suggestions :
“ 1. That the Charity be deemed a Charity for the free distribution, among poor children of Bibles, either of the Authorised or Revised Version, and that the net income thereof be exclusively expended upon the purchase of such Bibles.
“2. That the Bibles be distributed in the four counties named in the Founder's Instructions, viz. : Yorkshire, Westmorland, Cumberland, and Buckinghamshire, according to the discretion of the Trustees ; but that no restriction be placed upon the religious denomination to which the recipients may belong.
“ 3. That henceforth the number of Trustees be seven; that a majority be Nonconformists; that when a vacancy occurs among these four, it be filled up by nomination, alternately, of the Committee of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, and of the Council of the Baptist Union; and that vacancies among the remaining three be filled by co-optation.
“ 4. That in the distribution of the Bibles, the Trustees be left entirely unfettered; being at liberty to undertake this personally, or through societies, Sunday-schools, or other organisations.
“ 5. That the Bibles be of a superior character, well printed and strongly bound, and bear a brief inscription as to their being given by • Lord Wharton's Bible Charity.'
“6. That the present expenses of administration be reduced ; that a reasonable limit be put upon office charges, and that the Trustees receive no remuneration beyond their actual travelling expenses."
With these suggestions the Council of the Baptist Union agreed. On behalf of the Presbyterian Church of England, it was claimed that the whole fund should be placed at its disposal. By the Wesleyan Methodist Church no special suggestions were furnished.
At length appeared a “Scheme for the regulation and administration of the Charity known as Lord Wharton's Charity, and for the application of the Income thereof, approved by Order of the High Court of Justice (Chancery Division), dated the 5th day of August, 1898, made in the action of Attorney-General versus the Right Honourable George Earl of Kinnoul, and others, 1896, A. No. 1494.” (Printed by Roworth & Co., London, 1898.)
SUBSTANCE OF THE SCHEME.
1. The Trustees shall be nine in number; five members of the Church of England and four Nonconformists, representing respectively the Presbyterian Church of England, the Congregational Union, the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and the Baptist Union.
2. Until the next vacancy among the six existing Trustees there shall be only three Nonconformists, to be agreed upon by the central authorities of the four denominations, and individually approved by the present Trustees. After the next vacancy, a fourth Nonconformist from the denomination hitherto unrepresented. Subsequently, one from each denomination respectively. All appointments must be approved by the Charity Commissioners.
3. After payment of necessary expenses, the surplus of the income shall be divided into two equal parts; one part to be placed at the disposal of a standing committee consisting of the Church of England Trustees; the other at the disposal of a standing committee consisting of the Nonconformist Trustees. Each of the committees shall apply the fund at its disposal in the purchase and distribution of Bibles and such religious books as shall be selected separately by cach committee, including, if desired, the Book of Common Prayer.
4. The Bibles and other books shall preserve as to the bindings and inscriptions the same general appearance as heretofore; and each committee shall determine the manner in which they shall be distributed and applications for them invited.
5. Prior consideration shall be given to applications from parishes in the counties of Yorkshire, Cumberland, Westmorland, and Buckingham.
6. The salary of the Clerk to the Trustees shall not exceed 6 per cent. on the income of the Charity. Investments: £49,328 6s. 1od. £2 ios. per cent. Consols. 3,274 45. 3d.
2 155. It should be mentioned that the Committee of the Congregational Union, on receiving a copy of the Scheme, and not being satisfied therewith, appointed a Special Committee to consider whether and what further
action should be taken; and on receiving its report to the effect that no action was likely to be successful at the present time, it passed the following resolution (December, 1898)
“That this Committee, while accepting the Report of its Special Committee, records its indignant protest against the Scheme of August 5th, 1898, as sanctioning an obvious perversion of the original Trust and a palpable injustice to Nonconformists.”
TRUSTEES UNDER THE NEW SCHEME.
1. Col. Rowley Hay, 1898. 8. R. W. Perks, M.P.
9. Bryan Dale, M.A.
1899. 5. J. G. Talbot, M.P.
11. Lord Teynham, 1901. 6. Lord Medway.
12. Canon Bristow, 1902. 7. W. Carruthers, F.R.S. 13. Percy W. Bunting, 1904. The Earl of Kinnoul having recently died, the six Church of England trustees remaining were: (1) Lieut.Col. the Hon. C. Rowley Hay, Harwood Lodge, Sunninghill, Staines ; (2) the Rev. Canon F. H. Murray, Rector of Chislehurst; (3) J. A. Shaw Stewart, Esq., 48, Chester Square, London ; (4) Col. Francis Haygarth, 24, Wilton Crescent, London ; (5) J. G. Talbot, Esq., M.P., 10, Great George Street, Westminster; (6) John Stewart, Lord Medway, The Grange, Benenden, Kent. To these were added, January 24th, 1899; (7) William Carruthers, Esq., F.R.S. (Presbyterian), 14, Vermont Road, Norwood, London ; (8) Robert William Perks, Esq., M.P. (Wesleyan), 11, Kensington Palace Gardens, London; and (9) the Rev. Bryan Dale, M.A. (Congregationalist), 29, St. Paul's Road, Bradford, Yorkshire. On the resignation of Col. Haygarth, his place was filled (March 17th, 1899) by (10) the Rev. John Howard Shakespeare, M.A. (Baptist), Church House, Southampton Row, London. More recently, on the decease of Mr. Shaw Stewart, the vacancy among the Church of England trustees was filled by the appointment of (11) the Right Hon. Henry John Philip Sidney, Baron Teynham, Lynsted Lodge, Sittingbourne, Kent. On the decease of Canon Murray (October 13th, 1902), a similar vacancy was filled by (12) Canon R. Rhodes Bristow, Rector of St. Olaves, Southwark; and on the resignation of Mr. Perks, (13) Percy William Bunting, Esq. (Wesleyan), 11, Endsleigh Gardens, London, N.W., was appointed in his stead.
After the Scheme was approved, Mr. R. H. Evans, who had acted as Secretary to the trustees since 1869, was unanimously appointed Clerk; and on his resignation, through failing health (1903), he was succeeded by his son, Mr. Richard L. Evans, B.A., LL.B.
Since the settlement of the Scheme the Church of England trustees have distributed Bibles and Prayer Books in various places as aforetime, but have discontinued sending out other religious books as rewards.
The Nonconformist trustees, on their part, seeking to carry out the Scheme, after careful consideration of the best manner in which they could fulfil the purpose of the Trust, agreed that for the present the amount at their disposal, about £, 600 per annum, should be employed (1) in the distribution of Bibles alone, (2) in the counties of York, Westmorland, Cumberland, and Buckingham, (3) among young people connected with Nonconformist congregations or Sunday-schools, (4) who might show the greatest proficiency in Scriptural knowledge in such manner as their minister or superintendent might deem best. Numerous circulars were issued inviting applications from Nonconformist ministers, congregations, and schools, in accordance with this decision, stating (1) the name of the place and religious denomination, (2) the number of the congregation and Sunday. school, (3) the number of scholars able to read the Bible, and (4) the number of Bibles desired, to be sent to the Clerk to the trustees.
At the first distribution (1899) the total number of applications for Bibles was 278 from Nonconformist