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CORRESPONDENCE. BRAWLING IN CHURCHES. TO RUN EDITORS OF THE GAZETTE ft GUAIIIHAN OiiNTLEMEN,—The shameful meeting mentioned in your last, as having been held in Merthyr Church. causes me now to address you on the subject, giving a slight account, of the law to be put in force against the desecrators of the House of God. The sanctity of places dedicated to the Almighty II as al wa" been protected from violation,and the Courts Christian ave always taken cognizance, not only of actnal breaches of the peace, but also of violent and abusive language, when used in a sacrelI editice For the sup- pression of these enormities the 5th and 6th of Ed. VI was passed, and is still unrepealed. Mere quarrel- some words, not to be regarded elsewhere, are punish- able if occurring in sacred places. (I Hawk. P.C.) Liy section 1. of c. 4, of the above statute. it is enacted That if any person shall by words only, quarrel, chide, or brawl in any church, or churchyard, it sliill be lawful for the ordinary of the place, by two wit- nesses, to punish either layman or clerk." This statute was passed to repress the violation of sacred edifices, but the act did not create the offeuce, as it subsisted by the common law before the statute was enacted, and in the year 1415, Lord Strange, hi.s wife, and others, were made to do penance, and fined, for this oilence. A party, therefore, may pro ceed either on the common law or the statute. (Hutchins v. Dun ford, 1 Phil. '283.) If you proceed under the statute, two witnesses are required, but otherwise at common law. Words of a passionate tenor, though expressedwitttout any tone of passion, are helll to be within the statute. (Cox v. Guodain, '2 Hag. 138 ) No meeting shall be held of a riotous nature in a church nor yet shall indecorous behaviour be allowell in a vestry. (3 Ucty. 3.51), S-c-) tupro ceedingon this section the ordinary may use a convic- tion at common law, so that i iiiiiii may be convicted in the Temporal Courts, and punished in the Spiritual. (1 Burr. '243) Even brawling ill a vestry, attended by only five persons, and not attached to the church, but standing within the churchyard, was lielil to be within the statute. (3 Hag I(i9.) By '27 George III., c 44, it is enacted, that no suit shall he hrought in any Ecclesiastical Court for striking or brawling in ar.y church or churchyard, after the expiration of eight calendar months the time when the offence was committed. No prohibition lies in proceedings under statute. As the object of the statute, as well as the general law, is to protect the sanctity of places set apart for the worship of the Supreme Being, and the repose of the dead, in which nothing but religious awe and good will between men should prevail, it is no part of the inquiry, where more than oue person is implicated in the transaction, which is most to blame or which began.—l1 aimer v ""tli,y, 2 Aci(l. 1-14, 2 Lee, 514. p T))eo!.jectufthe statute is not to protect individuals from personal offence, but to guard the place from profanation, and to preserve decency. (Austen v Dagger, 3 PIÚlimore, 1-2()). The motives of the promoter must not he vin- dictive but from a regard for the sanctity of religion, but the presumption will always be that he proceeds on honest motives until strong proof of the contrary be shewn. (3 Hag. Sti'J ) Nor is it any defence under the statute to shew that the promoter was the aggressor. (Ifuet V. Dash, '2 Lee, 514) The court has power to fine to any reasonable amount, in adlli- tion to the usual punishment, but generally nomine expensarum. The statute 5 and (i Edward VI not having directed who shall prosecute, any partv what- soever may do so. 514.) The Ecclesiastical Courts are inclined to admit suits of this kind, for it is as necessary now as the lt,v %vas made to prevent the profanation of sacred places, and to repress such conduct at meetings, where party and passion ought to find no plact" (Sir John NicfiolPs judgment in Lee v. Mathews, 3 Hag. 170 ) As to the costs in suits for brawling or chiding the expenses arc to bt borne by the offender, but the court has discretion to mitigate. Any public notices, except what are strictly ecclesiastical, are prohibited from being lead or pub- lished in churches by 1 Vic c. 45. The above observations are al ) our service,nd if vou think them of any service, iu repressing such cnormi ties as were reported in your last, you will, perhaps, insert them in your next. I could have wished to have been more diffuse on this important subject; but the limited columns of a newspaper lorbid it. In conclu- sion ( Gan ouly express a hope that the transactiolls in Merthyr church wiii n »t be allowed to pass un noticedhy our ordinary and others, whose duty it is to guard and protect the edifices set apart for the worship of'our nod, 1 remain, Gentlemen, yours obediently, Colhough Point, Feb, 24'Ji, LS11. D. C. L. TO THE EDITORS Of 11112 GAZETTE & GII AUDI \N. GUNTUCMHN, — With very deep pain and concern have I read in your paper the report of the proceed ings which link place in your Parish Church — proceedings illegal in themselves, anù alt ogether disgraceful to the parties concerned. ^It might have been hoped that the prosecution which was commenced against a churchwarden of Merthvr ten years ago, in 1831, and which was dropped in consequence of his public acknowledgment of sorrow and regret for his conduct, might have operated to prevent a repetition of similar enormities, and that common decency would have restrained the assem- bling in tlae House of Prayer for such purposes, or, when assembled, would have restrained the individuals present from outrage and violence, that would not have heen endured in a playhouse. In 1831, Mr Joseph Coffin, one of the churchwar- dens, permitted a public meeting to be lielil in the Church, whi. h had been convened for the considera- tion ol the subject of Reform. At this meeting much occurred that was tumultuous and indecorous, both in the use of improper language, as well as in the mani- festation (It opinion —one common feeling of offence was created among all the well thinking people of the country, aud a prosecution was loudly called for by the public voice. Proceedings were accordingly instituted in the Episcopal Consistory Court of LlamlalY against Mr Joseph Cofhn, in the brat instance, for having so far olate(I his duty as churchwarden as to consent to the meeting being held within the sacred edifice. An opinion had been obtained from Dr Lushington on the subject, which 1 have seen, and a portion of which I wiil transcribe l £ states as follows: — It 4 am of opinion that, provided it can be proved by evidence, tint Mr Collin gave permission for the meeting to be held in the church, and was present thereat, he may be prosecuted in the Consistorial Court for so doing. There must also be evidence generally, not particularly, of what passed at t.h meeting. The proceedings must he by articles, with which the citation must correspond, and the offence charged should be, not merely a breach of the 88th canon, but also generally for allowing persons to in. ct in the church, for purposes not consistent with the uses for which it is appropriated. If the necessary evidence be adduced, 1 am of opinion that such pro secution must be successful. "Jan. 31, 1831." S. LUSIUNGTON. Alarmed at this clear testimony, and persuaded of the illegality of his conduct, of which he was not conscious before, Mr Coflin, with perfect readiness and candour, consented to make an apology, and publicly to express his regret that he had assented 10 the meeting being held in the church. This .< apolog. appeared in the newspapers, duly signed by Air Collin, and it is dated Merthyr Tydvil, ifiih February, 18:H. Tlw measure satisfied the prosecutor and the pro- ceedings were withdrawn. As the very words of this document may be satis- factory to your readers, I will here supply them — APOLOOY. 1, JOSEPH COFFIN, one of the churchwardens of the parish of Merthyr Tydvil, am anxious to take this public opportunity of testifying my regret, that any tiling should have induced me to give my consent to a meeting being held in the PARISH CHURCH. for the purpose of taking into consideration the pro- priety of pelitioning. Parliament on the subject of Reform, a purpose inconsistent with the uses for which such sacred edifices are appropriated. "1 was not aware at the time of my doing wrong, having given my consent hastily and without proper consideration. I did not intend the least oftence; but feeling I have transgressed the duties of my office, I readily declare my sorrow for having so done, and I sincerely lament, that, under any circumstances, topics should have been agitated, and language used, wholly at variance with the sacred object for which the Church was designed. I lament that a Building, SOLEMNLY CONSECRATED AND SET APAltT FOR CHRIS- TIAN WORSHIP AND INSTRUCTION, should have been converted into a theatre for public debate and contro- versy) and that politics and secular matters should have been discussed in a place, where religious feeling and unanimity should prevail, and party and passion have no share. (Signed) "J:ISEPH COFFIS." Having laid these documents before you, I shall conclude with again expressing my regret that such scenes should be permitted within a building dedicated to holy purposes only. I am, Gentlemen, yours, A. CHURCHMAN. ",#'I.##.


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