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that if the same advantages attended marriages solemnised by Dissenters, as those celebrated by the Established Church, there would then be no occasion for licence or banns, for giving security that there were no legal impediments, but every one who should get himself introduced into a Dissenting Congregation might do what was right in his own eyes.''88
In the article referred to above there is a copy of a “ Marriage Covenant," engrossed on parchment and stamped with a five-shilling stamp, attesting the marriage of Francis Smith and Elizabeth Toone at the Independent Meeting-house at Melbourne in the county of Derby. The document is drawn up with a great show of technical legal accuracy, and is signed by twenty-two witnesses. It bears the date August 20, 1753. Lord Hardwicke's Act came into operation on March 25, 1754.59 The true state of the law before 1754 seems to be described in the following words :—“A Marriage by mere consent of parties, until the passing of the Marriage Act in 1753, constituted a binding engagement; though if application were made to the ecclesiastical courts for letters of administration, etc., under a title derived through such irregular marriage, these courts sometimes showed their resentment of the irregularity by refusing their assistance, more especially where the non-compliance with the usual formalities could be traced to disaffection to the Established Church." so
The churchyard was a source of considerable income to the clergy. In addition to their fees for reading the Burial Service, they received special fees for the right of making bricked graves and constructing vaults; for the right to reopen bricked graves and vaults; for the right to erect gravestones, tombstones, and monuments; and the fees were proportioned to the size of the stones and the monuments. When the churchyard was closed because it was filled, there were some persons who thought that this source of clerical revenues would naturally come to an end. But the Acts declare that the consecrated part of a public cemetery is to be deemed the Burial Ground of the parish or parishes” for which it has been provided ; and the incumbent is entitled to claim the same fees for performing the service in this part of the cemetery that he could claim for performing the service in the closed churchyard ; and he is to receive such fees in respect to vaults, monuments, gravestones, tablets, monumental inscriptions, etc., in the consecrated portion as shall be fixed by the Burial Board," with the approval of the bishop"; and, if
89 Sidhold's Reports, 119; Congregational Magazine (April, 1837), 232.
89 Ibid., 231-232. The details are taken from The General Baptist Magazine, i. 453
90 Standard Cyclopædia of Political Knowlebge : s. v. Marriage.
no scale of fees is agreed upon between the Board and the bishop, he is to receive such fees as he would by law or custom have been entitled to in the parochial churchyard. The claims of the parish clerk and sexton were also maintained.91 The interments in the consecrated portion of the cemetery ought, therefore, to be more expensive than the interments in the unconsecrated ; for in the unconsecrated portion the only charges are the charges due to the Burial Board ; in the consecrated portion there are, in addition to these, the charges due to the clergy. In some cases the Boards equalised the total fees, and some Boards gave to the Dissenting minister performing the service in one part of the cemetery the same fees for monuments, etc., that were given to the clergy of the parish in the other. But irregular charges still continued, and the attention of the Select Committee on Burial Fees (1882) was called to the fact that some Burial Boards illegally charged the same fees in unconsecrated as in consecrated ground, by including the clerical fees, and that the Home Secretary had improperly sanctioned the tables. The following table, dated March 1, 1883, and sanctioned by the Home Office, was in force at Mitcham, Surrey :
Ground for brick grave
with body stone
Clerk, £ s. d. I I O I 10 6 O 5 O 0 7 6 I I O
"Every one of the sums in the second and third columns is charged in the unconsecrated ground in distinct violation of the Act of Parliament." 92 It will be noticed that in every case the clerical fees are more than double the fees of the Board acting for the inhabitants who had paid for the ground.
15 and 16 Vict. cap. 85, $$ xxxii., xxxiii. ; and 16 and 17 Vict. cap. 134, § vii. The payment of fees to the clergy, except for services actually rendered in the consecrated part of public cemeteries, was abolished by the Burial Act, 1900. But monumental and other fees (not being service fees) in the consecrated part of cemeteries provided prior to July, 1900, were continued until the Incumbency was vacated, or for fifteen years, whichever was the longer period. The Act of 1900 did not apply to churchyards, where ecclesiastical fees are still payable.
92 Liberator, Nov., 1883. The Act referred to is the Act of 1857, the 17th Section of which enacted that “No fees shall be charged or received by any Burial Board in respect of any service done or right granted in the unconsecrated portion of any burial ground provided by such Board, but such as are identical in amount with the fees charged and received in respect of the same service or right in the consecrated portion of such ground, less any such portion of such corresponding fees or payments which may be received for, or on account of, any Incumbent, Churchwarden, Clerk, or Sexton." This section was repealed by the Burial Act of 1900, the provisions of that Act rendering it no longer necessary.
CONGREGATIONALISTS AND NATIONAL
BRITISH SCHOOLS—BROUGHAM'S COMMITTEE ON THE EDUCATION OF
THE POOR IN LONDON-BROUGHAM'S BILL-LORD MELBOURNE'S
ONGREGATIONALISTS were among the most ardent
advocates of popular education at a time when large and powerful classes of English society were sincerely afraid that if the children of the great masses of the people were taught to read and to write they would become a serious peril to the State. The British and Foreign School Society, established in 1808, found among Congregationalists some of its most earnest supporters. There were some Congregational Churches that opened day schools of their own ; but as the day school was never regarded by Congregationalists as an institution for training children in the principles of Congregationalism, it was more usual for them to unite with persons of other religious denominations in order to create and maintain what were called “ British Schools.” 1
1 The original name of the British and Foreign School Society was “ The Royal Lancastrian Institution.” It is described in the Rules and Regulations adopted in 1817-twelve years after its foundation-as “ The Institution for Promoting the Education of the Labouring and Manufacturing Classes of Society of every Religious Persuasion.” The National Society, founded in 1811, was established for the education of the children of the poor in the principles of the Church of England.
But on several critical occasions it has been their duty, in the interests of religious liberty, to offer the most vigorous opposition to measures which had for their object the extension and improvement of elementary education.
Their first struggle on this field was with a statesman who had many titles to their confidence and honour.
In 1816 Henry Brougham, who at that time was the boldest and most liberal as well as the most eloquent of the Whigs, obtained a Select Committee of the House of Commons for inquiring into the Education of the Poor in the Metropolis. It was his impression that there were educational endowments in London and elsewhere which, if honestly used for the purposes to which they were destined by their founders, would meet the whole cost of a system of popular education. The State might have to build schools ; but he believed that the expense of their annual maintenance could be borne by existing educational endowments which for many years had been either administered inefficiently, or wholly diverted from their original purposes. The inquiries of the Committee were mainly directed to this subject. The Committee was reappointed in 1818, and its attention was again directed to the subject of Charity abuses. The interest,” says Lord Brougham"excited by this investigation soon became so great, as to interfere with the other objects of the Committee's appointment; and everything that related to the extension of Education, otherwise than by improving the application of endowments, was either neglected, or lost in the anxiety to prosecute an inquiry which, detecting abuses of those endowments, promised to the curiosity or the malignity of the public, or the spirit of faction, the discovery of individual delinquency in persons of eminent condition.” 3
Although the Committee was appointed to inquire into the education of the poor, it found occasion—or, its enemies said, found excuses--for calling before it very eminent persons
It was incorporated by Royal Charter six years later. See Horace Mann, Education in Great Britain (Census Report, 1851), 12–13.
2 Parl. Debates (Hansard : F.S.), xxxiv. 633–636, 1230–1235.
3 Brougham, Speeches, iii. 4-5. Parl. Debates (Hansard : F.S.), Xxxvii. 817.
connected with some of the great public schools. Eton, Winchester, and the Charterhouse were compelled to answer questions about their charters and their revenues. The Fellows of Winchester declined to give evidence; and in justification of their refusal pleaded their oath, by which they were sworn not to reveal the secrets of their House ; the plea was overruled. The Committee even ventured to call before it the Master of St. John's College, Cambridge, to give an account of a school, with a large endowment, of which the Fellows of St. John's were the Visitors, and of which they had the exclusive patronage. Forty or fifty years before, the school had a hundred scholars; William Wilberforce was educated there ; of late years it had taught only a single boy, and the schoolroom had been used as a saw-pit. That so distinguished a person as the Master of an ancient College should have been called before the Committee raised a great outcry; "and it was much increased by the reverend person himself happening to burst into tears, upon a very simple and civil question being addressed to him in very respectful terms.”s
All the crimes of the Committee were laid to the account of Mr. Brougham, its chairman, who was charged with insulting and browbeating some of the most eminent men in the kingdom, and with intending to confiscate the property of the most ancient and venerable institutions. When he brought forward an Education Bill in 1820, he appears to have thought it necessary to soothe the fierce hostility which had been provoked by the proceedings of his Committee.
The necessity of some great measure for placing the means of education within the reach of great masses of the people was apparent. According to Parliamentary returns obtained
4 The Committee heard the objection, examined the oath, and found it to contain a saving clause, “Nisi aliqua necessitate cogente, seu utilitate suadente, de qua necessitate et utilitate ipsi judicent”; whereupon the Committee intimated to the witnesses that the necessity had arisen, and that it was expedient for them to decide upon complying therewith; but it also laid down as clear law, that, although there had been no such saving clause at all, the oath never could have protected them from answering whatever questions were put by a competent authority, such as a Court of Justice, or a Committee of either House of Parliament. Brougham, Speeches, iii. 5.
5 Brougham, Speeches, iii. 5-6; and see the Letter to Sir Samuel Romilly, ibid., 28-39, 53-55.
6 For Brougham's defence of the Committee against Peel, see Speeches, iii. 181-213.