Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Revd R J Barlow & funerals in the 1840s and 1850s ...

Oh dear, Mr Barlow ...

Mr Barlow's carelessness in keeping records is evident from the parish registers and his eccentricities are known, as can be seen in my book, Remarkable, but still True.

But a search of the newspaper archives – more and more of them are available online – reveals that matters were rather worse and that some people were not happy at all:-

York Herald, 28 September 1850
Negligence of a Clergyman
To the Editor of the York Herald 
Sir,– On account of the negligence of Mr Barlow, rector of Hutton Rudby, where the corpse of my wife was interred, the funeral was detained two hours and a half, when a messenger was despatched, and he made his appearance, and the body was interred.  This is neither the first nor second time that he has kept funerals waiting until the evening.
Cannot the parishioners of Hutton Rudby have this amended?
I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
John Reed, 
Pickton*, Sept. 24

York Herald, 5 October 1850
To the Editor of the York Herald 
Sir,– Had Mr Reed confined himself to truth, I should have passed over the paragraph in your valuable journal as the result of the boiling indignation of a man too self-important and passionate to listen to reason.  That the funeral was kept waiting is true, and originated solely in a defect of memory, which is the more excusable as the person did not belong to my parish; but that I am in the habit of keeping funerals waiting, or that I ever did in the course of eighteen years keep one waiting, is perfectly false. 
Mr Reed at the conclusion of his letter puts a very silly question - "Cannot the people of Hutton Rudby have this amended?" 
The very interrogatory must prove to any sensible man that the parish do not suffer as Mr Reed would have the public to believe, or they would be unjust to the community to have such an habitual evil remedied.
But I would beg to inform Mr Reed that my parishioners are too sensible not to listen to reason, and have too much forbearance and good temper to fly into a passion without just cause.
I have the honor to remain,
Your obedient Servant,
R J Burton [sic]
Vicar of Hutton Rudby
Rudby Vicarage, October 2nd

York Herald, 12 October 1850
Negligence of a Clergyman
To the Editor of the York Herald 
Sir,– It probably would have been as wise had the Rev R J Barlow passed over my letter, which was inserted in your valuable columns of the 28th ult. The Rev Gentleman asserts, "that he has not, during the course of eighteen years been in the habit of keeping funerals waiting." The following proofs, will, I have no doubt, satisfy the public whose statement is the most correct.
"On the 10th of January, 1843, my son was interred at Hutton Rudby church. We were detained two hours at the church gates, by the non-attendance of the Rev R J Barlow, until it was dark. The coffin was then placed within the church to remain until the following morning, and the company were leaving when the Rev Gentleman arrived. Witness my hand, the 8th day of October, 1850.
Thomas Seamer,
Hutton Rudby"
"On the 30th of May, 1847, my mother's funeral took place at Hutton Rudby church, at which place we arrived at ten o'clock, A.M., and had to wait until twelve for the Rev R J Barlow to read the funeral service.
Witness my hand, this 7th day of October, 1850.
David Smith,
East Rounton"
I could mention more instances of similar inattention, my own grievance excepted, but trust the preceding proofs of Mr Barlow's negligence of the burial of the dead at the time appointed, will satisfy his insatiable thirst for truth, and be the means of a speedy amendment.
I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
John Reed, Pickton, Oct 9th, 1850
(Thomas Seymour or Seamer was a handloom linen weaver who lived in North End.)

York Herald, 19 October 1850
To the Editor of the York Herald 
Sir,– In reply to Mr Reed, who charged me with habitual neglect of funerals, I stated that so far from its being my habit to do so, I had not kept one waiting during eighteen years.
Mr Reed has attempted to falsify my statement by the production of two instances, bearing respectively the signatures of Smith and Seymour.  I beg, therefore, to analyse the statements of those people.  And first as to Smith.  On Sunday morning, May 30th, 1847, at his own desire, I agreed to bury his mother before church, but instead of the funeral being at the church at or before ten o'clock, it actually did not arrive till I had entered the reading desk, at half-past ten o'clock, to commence the morning service; therefore it was my duty to defer the funeral till after church, and not keep my congregation waiting.  Thus it appears that William Smith first commits a fault himself, and then very good-naturedly wishes to charge me with his own neglect in not being punctual. 
Now as the second case of Thos Seymour bearing date January 10th, 1843.  When I first came to this parish, now nearly nineteen years ago, no honest man in Hutton Rudby will attempt to deny that the people of Hutton Rudby were not only in the habit, but in the perpetual habit of keeping every funeral waiting from one to two hours or more, even when the death occurred in the village.  As this was a most unnecessary as well as disagreeable waste of my time, I found it absolutely requisite to set the matter right.  At first I calmly remonstrated, then gave them the choice of any hour from morning till night; in fact I tried all means, gentle and simple, and for years, but in vain.  At last I was most reluctantly compelled to adopt the following plan, namely, whenever they wilfully and without good cause kept me waiting, I kept them waiting exactly the same length of time; and this plan very speedily rectified the inexcusable evil. 
Now it happens that I very well remember, in those bygone days, that this very Thomas Seymour always growled most whenever I insisted upon punctuality; and therefore it is very probable that in the case of January 10th, 1843, I was constrained to keep this man waiting, as I had others in order that I might teach him punctuality, which he was so unwilling to learn. 
Thus again, in this second instance of Mr Reed's testified neglect of duty, the chastisement designed for me recoils upon the evidence.  It would be well, therefore, if Mr Reed would select better evidence in future, for verily he has this time leaned his whole weight upon a broken staff and truly it has wounded himself, and only proved his overweening desire to make a mountain out of nothing. 
I now thank you, Sir, for your good feeling in inserting my former letter in your valuable columns.  In my opinion it is a pity that your paper should be taken up by a base wrangle about nothing; for my part I have neither time nor inclination for such idle cavilling and disputation and therefore in future I shall leave Mr Reed and his coadjutors to themselves.
I have the honor to remain, Sir,
Yours much obliged,
R J Barlow
Rudby Vicarage, Occtober 12th, 1850

*now spelt Picton

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