Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Naughty vicar was persecuted

I just found another, final article about Mr. de la Mothe. This time with his reaction to his sentence. Along with some background on Dogmersfield which make some of the questions during the trial more understandable.

""Persecution" protest from banished Rector
Hampshire, Monday.

IN this feudal village where the children and the villagers still curtsy or touch their forelocks when "the lady of the manor” passes by, there have been six rectors in little more than twenty years.

Yesterday, villagers were asking, “Where can we get a rector who will stay?”

The present rector, the Rev. Hugo de la Mothe, 54, lasted four years. By decision of the Bishop of Winchester, following a consistory court judgment that he was guilty of resorting to taverns and "tippling,” he has been “banished from the diocese.”

“Unhappy Parish”
The Bishop announced today the sentence of deprivation on him, which deprives Mr. Mothe of all benefits appertaining to the parish church of Dogmersfield, and he will be unable to accept another appointment in the diocese of Winchester.

The church organist for the last twenty years, Mr. W. Wilson, told me: “The rector before Mr. Mothe stayed a year before resigning. The one before him lasted six years, but then there was a scene at the church meeting, and he, too, resigned. It has been a most unhappy parish for our rectors.”

Tonight Mr. Mothe, wearing a peaked collar and striped tie, returned to the village from Winchester, where he had gone to hear his bishop’s decision, and called at the Barley Mow, which figured in the evidence at the Consistory Court trial, to tell some of his parishioners the result.

There he told me: “I have been banished, and in many ways I’m glad that I will be leaving this living. I have had nothing but persecution for the last two years here.

“No wonder that rectors won’t stay here. But I’m not going to be beaten. I’ve taken my last service in Dogmersfield and as soon as I have packed my traps I am off to take up another living in some other part of the country.

“Tippling has never been defined and I have been convicted of something nebulous.” 

Want Inquiry

Sir Anthony Mildmay, Bart., patron of the living, when asked if he cared to express an opinion of the sentence, said: “I had nothing to do with the Rector’s appointment. I was away at the time and it was made by my mother and the late Rector.”

Mr. Walter C. Trimmer, people’s warden, said: “It fills me with disgust to think that I knew nothing of what was going on until about a fortnight before the trial."

General opinion among the villagers was that the ill-feeling which has existed in the parish over a number of years, even before the Rector’s appointment, should be the subject of an inquiry by the Bishop of Winchester."
Daily Mirror - Tuesday 19 December 1944, page 8.

 It sounds like the local nobs had been unsettling the parish. Knowing this, it makes the defence's line of questioning more understandable:

"Mr Benson — Were all these reports from various members of his flock, or did they emanate from the big house, to put it bluntly? 

Dr Sheppard — They emanated from the parish. 

Mr Benson — They did not come from the patron house? 

Dr Sheppard — No.
Dundee Courier - Saturday 25 November 1944, page 3.

 It would be nice to know more about the Barts. Did they really keep pissing off vicars? How long did a rector usually remain in his post?

Mr. de la Mothe implies that he had already found another parish. Was that true? I'm not sure how I can find out.


The Flat Hat said...

The source for CofE clergy is Crockford's Clerical Directory https://www.crockford.org.uk/, sadly the online stuff only goes back to 1968 and is pay by subscription.

Dan Klingman said...

The vicar made the comment "...as soon as I have packed my traps I am off to take up another living in some other part of the country.", with "another living" making it sound to me like he was looking for another line of work. And what is a "patron of the living"?

Chap said...

The Flat Hat: According to Crockford's Clerical Directory 1947, the Reverend Hugo did his training for the ministry at Bishops' College, Cheshunt (1937) and Chichester Theological College (1939), becoming a deacon (the lowest level of Church of England clergy) in 1939 and a priest (next level up) in 1940. In 1939-40 he was the curate (i.e. assistant clergy) of Bideford in Devon, and from 1940-44 he was the Rector of Dogmersfield. Given the three-year gap and the fact that he isn't recorded at any other parish, it looks as if his clerical career had come to a stop. Crockford's records him as living at Bayonne, Haven View [Road], Seaton, Devon: is it just a coincidence that the house bears the same name as the French town that his great-great-great grandfather Dominique La Mothe hailed from (30 November)?
Dan Klingman: In the Church of England, the term 'living' means 'job as parish priest'. It is an alternative for 'benefice', more formally defined as a position in which the holder is expected to perform defined spiritual duties while being supported by the revenues attached to the position. In the past, those revenues might have been generated by parishioners' tithes (one-tenth of income), by the rents from ecclesiastical properties (glebe), or by the congregation. These days, parish clergy are supported by a stipend paid by the diocese.
In the Church of England, the patron of a particular living or benefice is entitled to 'present' (i.e. appoint) a priest to fill a vacancy. In about 50% of parishes, the right of patronage rests with the diocesan bishop; in the remainder, the patron may be, depending on the parish's history, the Crown, an Oxbridge college, a body corporate or even an individual. Patronages cannot be sold, but they can be inherited, and to be a patron imposes a certain responsibility, both in making the appointment and in providing wise counsel to the officeholder during his/her incumbency. Both in leaving the appointment to his mother and in his apparent indifference to the whole mess, the patron of the living at Dogmersfield seems to have been remiss, to say the least.

Chap said...

Hugo's time as a District Officer in Nigeria is touched on in a 2011 book entitled 'Berengario Cermenati among the Igbirra (Ebira) of Nigeria: a study in colonial, missionary and local politics, 1897-1925'. Partially available on Google Books, it concerns what seem to be a series of disputes between Catholic missionaries, Protestants, the British colonial authorities, tribal leaders, the military and everyone else under the sun. Even though Hugo came in towards the end of the disputes, the Catholic missionary who is the book's protagonist (Berengario Cermenati) apparently wrote of him 'I ask God to give me the grace to resist the very strong temptation to physically attack that scoundrel and liar de la Mothe. My hands and fists are itching in an uncontrollable way.' The day after he wrote that, Dominic Laitu, a local who led a Protestant community that defected to Roman Catholicism and who was now helping the missionary, was sentenced to nine months hard labour for defaming the District Officer – Hugo.
De la Mothe had previously alienated the Catholic community when a group of locals who had not been converted objected to Catholics holding a noisy prayer meeting during which a bell was rung loudly. The affair was referred to de la Mothe for his adjudication, which the Catholics interpreted as being asked to renounce their faith. They then complained that, when they refused, they had been carried off in chains on the orders of Hugo, who had also used highly offensive language. The story ends with a broken-hearted Berengario Cermenati becoming the only Catholic missionary ever to have been expelled from Nigeria. So Hugo de la Mothe was not unused to being the subject of complaints.
Incidentally, the family in the 'big house' was the Mildmays – the abbreviation 'Bart' indicating that Sir Anthony is a baronet and not a knight. In contrast to knights, baronets are hereditary. Completely off-topic, it was thought at the time that this was why, in 1990, John Major recommended that Margaret Thatcher's husband Denis be made the first baronet since 1964 – it would ensure that her son Mark would inherit a title and be known as 'Sir Mark'. (In 2004, Major admitted that he had been lobbied by 'influential figures' within the Conservative Party, and had made the recommendation against his personal preference.)

Edd The Brew said...

Hi Chap,
The sale of rights of living was only made illegal in 1924 by the Advowson Act 1924 ,

Ciaran said...

It's interesting to note that his brother, Godfrey De La Mothe was an officer (Captain) in the King's Liverpool Regiment and the King's West African Rifles. He'd joined as a private in 1915 and rose to the rank of Captain by the war's end. He served in France, Flanders, West Africa, Egypt and Palestine. He saw plenty of action, being wounded twice and was also badly gassed too.

After the war, he joined the Colonial Civil Service and was posted to West Africa. He was invalided out of the service shortly afterwards and came back to England. He sadly died from complications from Blackwater Fever and Malaria at the young age of 28. The only mourner from his immediate family to attend the funeral was his brother Hugo - the infamous drunk!