Monday, 31 December 2012

Chapter 21. "My intense exertions"

In Mr Barlow's notebooks we can catch a glimpse of his interests and activities in the latter part of his life. 

In the Middleton Book in his early years in the village he had written out a "Catalogue of Books", which appears to be a record of his library.

It naturally included the classical authors and a range of religious works, such as Hebrew grammars, a Hebrew Psalter, sermons, commentaries, and Waldo on Liturgy [1], but also poetry and French authors such as Pascal, Racine and Mme de Sévigné, together with dictionaries.  There were also works by the Evangelical philanthropist Hannah More, who had sought to counter the arguments of Tom Paine (the author so admired by the radicals of Stokesley) with her Cheap Repository Tracts urging the poor to work hard, respect the gentry and trust in God – views echoed in Barlow's sermon of 1833.

However Mr Barlow, though classically educated, was not interested in the usual pursuits of the scholarly Victorian cleric.

He had little interest in theological debate, and the great questions of his day that had tormented so many – from the Tracts for the Times to Essays and Reviews – seem to have made little impression upon him.

Practical matters and technology fascinated him above all, and, as can be seen in the draft of a letter [2] entitled "Suggestions upon the construction and armour of ships of war", his preoccupations were not those normally expected of Victorian clergy.  The letter must date from the mid-1860s, as the Armstrong gun itself was only introduced in 1859:
My Lord Duke.  Having carefully studied the experiments lately made at Shoeburyness upon the Hercules target which resisted a 300lbs shot propelled by a 60lb charge target coated with 9in armour backed by wood and iron the bolt having merely penetrated the 9in plate … and finding that such target resisted a 300lb Armstrong gun with a charge of 60lbs of powder …
… bearing all this fully in mind I am of opinion that the plan I now submit to your Grace will in several respects be found superior to the Hercules target.  On the other side I give the sketch of a ships side from which it will be seen that my plan is to reduce the vital part of a ship to a minimum and to surround that portion with an impregnable belt …

In the same book there are numerous notes of the occasions when he cut the hedge at the vicarage.

For years he and his neighbour William Jackson were at loggerheads, producing such entries as:
June 16th 1859
I myself cut my hedge at the foot of Wm Jacksons garth in the presence of Henry Elliott who was at the time ploughing my field  Wm Jackson himself was looking on almost the whole time and was dreadfully abusive but I made him no answer
R J Barlow

I cut my hedge at the end of Jacksons Garth in presence of John Grundy and eight women who were gathering potatoes Oct 62
Jacksons wife saw me and abused
R J Barlow
Mr Barlow may have been concerned about possible encroachment onto glebe land; attempts at encroachment are mentioned in the replies to the 1857 Visitation.

Another problem with neighbours arose over a right of way across Belle Vue farm.  Mr Barlow used a footpath (shown on the Tithe Map and still to be seen on today's Ordnance Survey map) to reach his glebe land on Parsons Back Lane.  The Rickatson family, who farmed at Belle Vue in the 1860s and 1870s, apparently blocked the path on occasion:
Crossed from my farm thro’ the old styles in Rickatsons farm Feby 13th 1863 to keep up my right of way Feby 13th 1863 R J Barlow
Crossed all the styles through Rickatson farm to keep up my right of way during the last week in May and first 3 weeks in June 1863 mostly twice a day when repairing the farmhouse and building
R J Barlow …
I crossed by the old style way through Rickatson farm to my farm White house upon Easter Monday 1874 and I pulled up some stakes that were blocking up and inside style
R J Barlow
April 20th 1874
also twice in Octr 1875
There are also many notes showing how Mr Barlow dispensed the Sacrament money to the poor.  They give the impression that Mr Barlow gave the money away almost on impulse, handing it out to any needy person he met in the village:
Acct of Sacrament money given away by me
 Feby    Dinah Sidgwick ill     2 – 6
             Maclean son ill         2 – 6
             Bag for Poor women …
It is interesting to note that Charles Maclean was one of the trustees of the Wesleyan Chapel in the mid-1850s.

In 1873, Mr Barlow made a note of the total received during the year:
Sacrament Money
 1st Sunday in Lent                  10 – 5
 Given by Mr Mease                 2 – 6
 Easter                                1 – 0 – 0
 Whitsun                             0 – 7 – 0
 July 27                                   14 – 4
 Oct 12                                   12 – 2
 Decr 21 given by Miss W         2 – 6
 Xmas                                 1 – 4 – 8
                                          4 – 13 – 3 [3]
This is followed by notes of names including Ramshaw, McGarry, Harper, Flounders, Jackson, Bessy Gears, Old Charlton and "Blind Woman", alongside amounts varying from one shilling to two shillings and sixpence.

From his arrival in the village, Mr Barlow had given generously of his own money to the poor, and he was acutely disappointed when his loss of income prevented this.  His replies to the Archbishops' Visitations, his pamphlet and his novel show a constant awareness of the problems of the poor. 

The presence of Irishmen in the village – several Irish drainers were recorded in the 1861 census – can also be seen in the notebook, and one imagines Mr Barlow may have been glad to hear Irish voices again: 
June 19th – 1858
I myself cut my hedge at the foot Wm Jacksons garth in presence of four Irishmen  Anthony Wiles of Hutton being in the field at the time – to whom I then mentd that I had cut the said hedge
By 1861, household finances at the vicarage had worsened, and the census shows that in place of the cook, housemaid and groom present in 1851, the only living-in servant now employed was a fourteen-year-old maid of all work.

For a time a couple called Kavenagh worked at the vicarage.  Their wages are recorded in the notebook – for work on the garden and farm, Mr Kavenagh was paid about eight shillings a week, while his wife worked five days a week in the house for 3s 4d.  The date of this is not clear from the notebook; it is probably a coincidence that an Eleanor Kavanagh had been one of the witnesses of John Wilson Barlow's will in 1837, but it is possible that they kept in contact with people who had worked for the family in the past.

The shortage of money at the vicarage, as the continued lack of income under James Barlow Hoy's Will began to bite was possibly made worse by Nanny giving up income to her son.

It would become more painful as time passed, as the Barlow household was left behind while the standard of living of the middle classes changed rapidly.  It has been estimated that between 1850 and 1870, while retail prices rose by 5%, the middle classes increased their domestic expenditure by some 50% [4].  This richer standard of life was much commented on at the time, with discussion in the press of the expectation amongst the young of a standard of comfort which their parents had only achieved after years of work [5]

By 1868 Mr Barlow travelled on foot between the vicarage, the church and the chapel to take the services on Sunday, "a walk of ten miles". [6]

The distance was by no means unusual at a time when people were accustomed to walking long distances as a matter of course, but Mr Barlow felt his position acutely because he had previously done the journey by some sort of horse-drawn conveyance, probably a dog cart.

Keeping a horse in a rural parish was inexpensive and clergy on lower incomes than Mr Barlow's contrived to manage, so it seems highly likely that Mr Barlow's problem was an inability to afford the wages of a groom.  Unlike boys growing up in the country, who could handle, ride and drive horses from an early age, Mr Barlow must have had little opportunity to learn.  His youth was spent in genteel poverty in the city of Dublin, leaving him dependent on a groom in later life.

A list of parishes written out in the notebook with the value of each living and their respective populations appears to date from the last ten years of Mr Barlow's life.  Many of these are situated in the West and East Ridings, most are in the patronage of the Archbishop or other church dignatories, and they appear to be taken from a directory – possibly the Post Office Directory of 1872, as the values correspond. 

It seems that Mr Barlow was still brooding on lost opportunities and current unfairnesses – or possibly his interest was now aroused on behalf of his assistant.

At some point between the Archbishop's Visitations of 1868 and 1871, Mr Barlow engaged the Revd George Sanger to act as his curate "to take a 3rd volunteered service which I am no longer able to perform" [7].  (One suspects that George Sanger actually took the service at Middleton or Rounton, rather than the popular evening service at Rudby.) 

Archbishop Musgrave died in 1860 and was succeeded briefly by Longley, who spent two years at York before passing on to become Archbishop of Canterbury.  In October 1862 William Thomson was appointed to York.  He
belonged to the evangelical and low church school … sensible and efficient, he was also on the whole remarkably tolerant, except towards ritualists [8]
Mr Barlow's answers to the Queries of Archbishop Thomson's Visitations in 1865, 1868, 1871 and 1877 give us another glimpse of his character. 

Where other clergy took pains with their replies, his seem to have been dashed off rather carelessly.  He also had a tendency to make sweeping statements, some of which were not in fact quite true.  In 1865, he replied to a question about dissenting places of worship,
There are two Dissenting Chapels a few years back the whole Parish were Dissenters – now scarcely any,
and again in 1868,
There is a Ranters Chapel [ie. Primitive Methodist], a Calvinist meeting, and a Methodist chapel – when I came here 37 years ago the whole Parish was in dissent now the number of Dissenters is insignificant. 
Ten years after this was written the Wesleyans built a new chapel at a cost of £838, while in 1861 the Primitive Methodist chapel had 53 members, an average Sunday congregation of 180 and a weekday congregation of 60 [9], and in 1871 the chapel had "the largest congregation in their station" [10].

His replies make an interesting contrast with those of the Revd Joseph Ibbetson.

Both men approved of Archbishop Thomson's improved arrangements for confirmations – he would travel to any village, provided the incumbent could muster ten candidates, and he favoured confirmations every three years in rural areas.  Neither of them belonged to the High Church party (which will have pleased the Archbishop), holding communion services half a dozen times a year.  Mr Ibbetson's replies are generally more considered and show a greater responsiveness to the Archbishop's interests. 

The Archbishop was very keen to promote religious education.  To his query as to daily schools for adults, Mr Barlow replied there were none, whereas Mr Ibbetson had
no adults at present – but cottage meetings for the aged.  
When asked whether he was able to retain young people in his Sunday School after they had left the day school, in 1865 Mr Barlow made the cryptic reply,
They go to service where they ought to go
All the children go to work or service early from our school and therefore no means of keeping up communications with them. 
To "Have you adopted any other mode of retaining them?" he replied in 1865 briefly, "No", and to a similar question in 1868 as to methods employed to retain the young, he replied,
so far as my experience goes in other places there is no good result. 
On the other hand, an Anglican Sunday School was at last in existence, with "a good attendance of about 50"; this is almost certainly a result of lay involvement. 

When asked if they had a consultative body of laymen "with whom you confer on Church affairs" (the Archbishop proposed the establishment of parochial church councils), Mr Barlow replied,
No – if the Church be true to itself it wants no consulters, it will commend itself to the good sense of the nation.  I am my own counsellor in all Parish matters. 
The next query was, "What is your opinion on the usefulness of such a body?", to which Mr Barlow replied, "Very poor."

Mr Ibbetson, on the other hand, "consulted well disposed friends in whom I can confide", and thought the "difficulty is in finding such a body of persons of sober and repected Christian judgment – willing to take the trouble", while the vicar of Brompton consulted only with his churchwardens and "should very much question the usefulness of such a body unless composed of bona fide churchmen".

This was a time of increasing interest in church collections, to make voluntary contributions to church expenses in place of pew rents and to raise funds for missionary work and the like, and another query asked the clergy about collections taken in their church, and the purposes to which these were put.  To this Mr Barlow asserted in 1865,
I have no collections – collections don't answer here.  People are too poor
while in 1868 he declared,
I have scarcely any collections at all – I deem it enough to induce my people to contribute (which they cheerfully do) to the wants of this once benighted Parish
To a similar question in 1871 he replied,
I have not had any collections, because the resources of the Parish are exhausted in providing for its own wants, restoration of the church – enlargement of the church yard and support of school without Govt aid. 
These assertions rather conflict with the accounts in the letters quoted earlier showing the attendance of the middle classes and gentry at Rudby, and contrast oddly with the collections made by the Wesleyan Methodists for many years.  There is also a possible contradiction with Mr Barlow's statement that,
Church Rates are abolished but my churchwardens find no difficulty in collecting sufficient for the church expenses. 
Want of money and the poverty of the parish was his regular theme even when conditions in the parish had changed.

In 1865 and 1868, he declared that the only impediment to his ministry was "want of money", when Lord Falkland had donated the land for the churchyard and Miss Righton had paid not only for the legal work and the building of the wall.  Mr Ibbetson, on the other hand, took collections, and the vicar of Brompton took collections for missionary organisations and a quarterly collection in place of the Church Rate.

In answer to queries about the number of people taking communion, Mr Barlow's figures are rather vague, but he seems to have expected between 20 and 35 according to the importance of the festival.  He held a communion service at Rudby church six times a year, alternately with the chapels at Middleton and East Rounton.

In the diocese at this time the High Church clergy, greatly to the annoyance of the Archbishop, had significantly increased the number of times they administered communion – at East Coatham, for example, Mr A E Clement Smith held a daily Mass. 

Mr Barlow's replies to queries about the number of people taking Holy Communion show a noticeable difference from today's church.

Nowadays most of those attending the weekly communion service are communicants.  In 1865 Mr Barlow's usual congregation was very much larger than would now be seen – he said it was "About 100 in 'the morning' about 300 in the Evening" (the church in 1889 could seat 350 people [11]).  He estimated he had "about 30" communicants at the great festivals and 24 at other times. 

In 1868, his communicants numbered "about 35" at great festivals and "about 20" at other times – he noted that "there used to be more but the population has decreased" (though there is no indication of this in the 1861 and 1871 census figures), and at the Rounton and Middleton Chapels there were "from 20 to 30".  This was from a congregation of "about 150" in the morning and "about 250" in the evening – that is, as he pointed out, "more than a fair proportion" of the village population.  Victorians dearly loved a good sermon, and evidently Mr Barlow could command a wide audience.
A characteristic flourish is Mr Barlow's answer to the query in 1865 as to whether the church was in good repair:
First rate – it was very like a cowhouse when I came here – now it is the first in the District owing to my intense exertions.
Another hint of activities at the vicarage comes in a joky letter written by John Watson to his sister Dorothy on 9 July 1862.

John was then twenty years old and Dorothy sixteen; she frequently visited their stepmother's family, the Garbutts of Hutton Grange, and would eventually marry Thomas Garbutt.  It seems from John's letter that the vicarage was quite a social centre, with the remarkable Mr Barlow a main attraction:
When I come to Hutton next time I must see this wonderful Mr Barlow and will make most minute enquiries respecting the way in which you spend your time when you are there.  I think it will be one continual trot between Thomas’s and the parsonage if I may judge from what they say at Hutton [12]  
When Thomas had the misfortune in 1866 to lose 38 cattle in the outbreak of rinderpest, Mr Barlow donated £2 to the private subscription raised by his friends.

Hector Vaughan must have visited his mother and family at the vicarage whenever his army service allowed, and we may imagine that they were very proud of him.

He married in his early thirties, his wedding to Wilhelmina Christiania Mathews taking place at Walton-on-Thames in September 1866.  Perhaps it was at this time that Mr Barlow's photograph was taken, by Monsieur Louis in his premises at 374 Euston Road.

Revd R J Barlow

There is a suggestion of energy about the portrait, and the head is not fully in focus – as though Mr Barlow had been unable to prevent himself from speaking.

Sadly, Nanny Vaughan was not to see her grandchildren.

In October 1867 she suffered a stroke, and forty hours later, on Monday 21 October, the doctor certified that she had died.  Again, it was not one of the family who registered the death but Jane Hunt, who must have been working for the family at the time [13].
Marianne Barlow had been buried in a kerbed plot beside the church door, but the inscription on the wall nearby suggests that her husband and his sisters had decided on a family vault for their own burials.  Its location is now unfortunately unknown.

Nanny's property must all have been in Ireland, as no Probate can be found in England, and her affairs there must have been wound up by Hector Vaughan, who was conveniently stationed at the Curragh in the late 1860s [14].

The existence of an office copy of Probate of the Will of his father, the Revd Vaughan, taken out in 1909 and "ordered by Vaughan", suggests that property in Ireland remained in the family until the 20th century.  The Vaughan in question was probably one of Hector's daughters, who possibly required it for conveyancing reasons.

Robert Barlow continued in sprightly good health until the end of the 1860s.

He was certainly in Saltburn on 7 January 1869 when two of the hounds of the Cleveland Hunt "rowld over the Cliff with the fox, and Boath kild; 2 of the Best Hounds", in the words of the huntsman Tom Andrew [15].  Mr Barlow relates the tale in his novel – with embellishments, as in his version the entire pack go over the cliff.  He may have chanced to be on the spot at that moment – or, given his sociable and talkative nature, he may have gone to see the meet and still been by the beach some hours later when they returned nearly to their point of departure, after a circuit of some twelve to fifteen miles.

After this time, his health began to suffer.  By 1871 he had engaged as curate the Revd George Sanger, vicar of Carlton, to take some of the burden of work.

Sanger was about twenty-five years younger than Mr Barlow, and like him was not a local man, having been born in Salisbury in Wiltshire.

He was in an awkward position as an Anglican clergyman because he suffered under the social disadvantage of being both a convert from Wesleyan Methodism and a non-graduate.  His family background is not known, but in all likelihood he was not a gentleman by birth and seems to have had no private income.  He had not attended one of the universities, but had trained at the theological college of St Aidan's.

He served first as a curate in Stokesley and in 1865 was appointed to the living of Carlton-in-Cleveland.  This was a poor living – in 1868 it was worth only £56 a year [16], which seems to have been increased by 1872 to £92, with residence and 22 acres of glebe [17].

The parish had previously been accustomed to a vicar with sufficient private income to be able to allow his poorer parishioners to use the glebe land for allotments to supplement their income, and to award them prizes for their produce [18].  The contrast would certainly place Mr Sanger at a disadvantage.  


[1]  either Peter Waldo's Commentary 1813 or Lectures 1821

[2]  in the notebook held by Hutton Rudby Primary School

[3]  his arithmetic was, as was spotted by Lynda McPhie, incorrect!  The correct total is £4-13-7d

[4]  Prosperity and Parenthood: a study of Family Planning among the Victorian Middle Classes by J A Banks, 1954, quoted by Robson, see below

[5]  Marriage or Celibacy?  The Daily Telegraph on a Victorian Dilemma, by John M Robson 1995

[6]  Answer to Archbishop's Visitations 1868

[7]  Answers to 1871 Visitation

[8]  Ebor: A History of the Archbishops of York 627-1908 by A Tindal Hart 1986

[9]  Rudby-in-Cleveland: Local Government and Society c1600-1900 by R P Hastings

[10]  ibid

[11]  Kelly's Directory 1889

[12]  Letters to a Miller's Daughter: Dorothy Caroline Watson of Stockton-on-Tees and Hutton Rudby c1860-1893 by J Beryl Turner 2000, p60.

[13]  Jane's daughter Margaret Hunt later married Denton Fortune. The registrar in 1867 was George Laurence, as Thomas Harker had left the village for York, where he died in 1855.

[14]  his letters to the official historian of the Crimea giving details of the battle of Inkerman was written from Dublin in the first half of 1869

[15]  The Cleveland Hounds by Alfred E Pease: extracts from the hunting diary of Tom Andrew. The hounds were Seabright and "Splender": "Splender is Buried in the Garden at White House. Seabright was sent to be stufed for Mr Wharton", and could still be seen in his glass case at Skelton Castle at the time of publication of Pease's book. I am greatly indebted to Jacky Quarmby, who found me this reference almost instantly.

[16]  National Gazetteer

[17]  Post Office Directory 1872

[18]  Stokesley Repertory 1845

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