Monday, 30 November 2020

Naughty vicar?

Looking in various newspapers, I've found several similar reports to the one I published yesterday. With some sections identical and others unique. It looks like they are all based on a longer agency article, which has been edited down in different ways.

These paragraphs give us a pretty good clue as to the swear word the rector used:

 "Mr. Benson: Do you sometimes use strong language? 

The Rector; Not normally. I have called a man ____ fool. I expect I shall do it again. I have no priggish qualms about that. 

The rector said the use of one word which he admitted using, but not frequently, “was a habit with real men.” 

Mr. Richardson; Do you know is is a contraction of the sacred oath “By our Lady”? The Rector" I am priest, and I have never heard that explanation before."
Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Saturday 25 November 1944, page 8.

All this fuss was about occasionally saying "bloody"? Disappointingly innocuous.

There are some new characters and also an intriguing revelation about the rector's past:

"The rector said: “I have had my drink. I am like an ordinary normal man when have had it. I hope." He said he did not like Mrs. Marshall. She came between Mr Van Eyk, "who was very nice man.” and himself. 

The rector said he knew what drunkenness was “because he had been a judge of the High Court of Nigeria." 

Evidence that they had never seen the Rector under the influence of drink was given by Major William Elgy Freeman, of Fleet, Hants, formerly of the Indian Army, who said he had rooms at the Rectory from 1943 to May 1944, and Mr. William B. Farrant licensee of the Bailey Mow. "
Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Saturday 25 November 1944, page 8.

Who the fuck were Mrs. Marshall. and Mr Van Eyk and why were they living with the rector? This is all getting way too complicated.

And the rector had been a judge in Nigeria? WTF?  

Yet another lodger in the form of Major Freeman. Was the rector running a boarding house?

The rector doesn't sound such a bad chap, does he? Wait until you see how another reporter write about the case.


Michael Foster said...

We've got the bones of a good Netflix drama with this.

Chap said...

I wonder if this is the same Hugo Dominique de la Mothe who was adjudged bankrupt in 1934, when he was a schoolmaster in Kent, and discharged from his bankruptcy in 1942 (source: The London Gazette). In those days it was not uncommon for schoolmasters to have been ordained, especially in the private sector, and he could have applied for a parish after being declared bankrupt. I know that this is extreme conjecture on my part, but could the demon drink have contributed to his bankruptcy as well his subsequent shaming in the consistory (church) court?
Assuming he is one and the same, his financial woes may explain his taking in lodgers. Before it started selling them off after the Second World War, many of the Church of England's 18th and 19th century rural vicarages and rectories were large, imposing buildings with commensurate heating and maintenance bills which the Church and its ministers were increasingly unable to afford. Today's Tundry House in Dogmersfield is a large Regency-style (1836) mansion described by its hosts on AirBnB as a Georgian rectory, so one has to assume it was the Rev. de la Mothe's residence while he was the incumbent at All Saints' Church. From the photos on AirBnB, there is clearly enough room for him to have anticipated the current owners and taken in what used to be known as PGs (paying guests).

Chap said...

Re Michael Foster's comment on yesterday's instalment - this story was also reported in the Royal Gazette and Colonist Daily of Hamilton, Bermuda (on 7 December, 1944), and it had nothing to do with any of the players hailing from Coventry. As Ron said today, it was an agency report that was seized on by newspapers - around the world - looking for a bit of salacious gossip to spice up the news. They still do it – just Google "vicar" and "affair with", and you'll come up with a veritable host of similar stories. Agencies are essential sources of newspaper stories but readers don't normally notice their contribution. Incidentally, it was the Reuters White House correspondent who made the news the other day, being admonished by Trump with the words "You’re just a lightweight ... I’m the President of the United States."

Chap said...

A bit off topic – apologies – but there was a Hugo Dominique de la Mothe born in 1890 on the Isle of Man, which – same unusual name, right age – would surely make him the same person as in these newspaper reports. His family history is, to put it mildly, unusual for a Manxman, in that his great-great-great grandfather Dominique La Mothe was a third-generation surgeon from Bayonne. Commissioned as a ship's surgeon on a French privateer during the Seven Years War against Great Britain, in 1760 his ship the St Lawrence had taken six English vessels and kept the captains and men of four of them on board as prisoners. Some 1,500km south-west of Lands End, the British prisoners turned the tables on their captors and gained control of the French ship, sailing it to Douglas in the Isle of Man and turning their captives – including Dominique - over to the Manx authorities. In 1761 the prisoners were repatriated, but Dominique La Mothe had taken leave of absence to explore the island and was not on the quayside when the captain, not wanting to miss the wind, set sail. Dominique was released soon afterwards, stayed on the Isle of Man, practised as a doctor for 47 years, married a Manx girl and founded a Manx dynasty. A bit sad to see one of his descendants in the dock.

Anonymous said...

Historians of language seriously doubt the story about "by Our Lady" being the root of "bloody" and treat it about as likely as the story about "for unlawful carnal knowledge."

Ron Pattinson said...


it must be the same person as the name is so unusual - at least for the UK.

Interesting that he was a schoolmaster. But he wasn't ordained at that time.

He did complain that he couldn't afford to keep up the vicarage on his salary.