Ernest Harold Pearce.

The Sons of the clergy, 1655-1904 online

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acquaint him with this vote." Boheme, also of Doctors'
Commons, was asked to become Assistant Register till
further notice, but in a few weeks (January, 1707) they
could recall their request, *'it appearing that the said
M** Tyllott is recovered of his aforesaid indisposition."


At the same time they raised his salary to ;^40 a year
*^for all manner of business to be done by him," and
demanded a bond of jf 500 '^ for his faithfull performance
of all business wherein he shall be intrusted." In the
latter part of 171 1 he died, and William Pocklington
of Doctors' Commons was elected in his stead, the
**sallary" remaining at ^0 as before.

The term *' Registrar" did not supplant the old title
of Register till 1794. In this and other ways a distinct
change has come by the beginning of the nineteenth
century. In the first half-century of the Charity's work,
the Register is frequently a member of the Court, and
his attendances are recorded. In the early part of the
nineteenth century not even a sub-committee is held
without the minutes stating ore rotundo that it was
held *'in the Registrarship of John Matthew Grimwood
Esquire," as who should say Consule Planco, It is a
change from the furtive activity of Thomas Tyllott.
So for the moment we return to him and to the type
of management which he set for those that came after.
In 1679 he starts his subscription book, and delivers
the money received to the Treasurers. He suggests
'* the forme of Acquittance " which is *' agreed upon to
be printed." When money is wanted to provide the
purchase price of desirable properties, it is Tyllott
who writes round to the friends to lend it. When it
is suddenly realised in 1683 that the precious Charter
is in the hands of one Michael Foster, an Assistant,
it is committed to Tyllott's care **to be putt into the


Chest among the writings of concernement." It is his
business to examine petitions from widows and present
them in due form to the Court, and the bundles of them
that have lately been found at Corporation House show
how carefully this part of his work was done. In 1691,
when they could look back on some years of useful
work, the Court bade him make a statement of the
moneys they had distributed and print five thousand
copies by way of giving an account of their steward-
ship. But a large part of his time was taken up with
watching for the gifts of the dead, which his close con-
nection with Doctors' Commons enabled him to do.
He was ''to continue an Interest with the Registers at
Doctors' Commons to have an Account of all Clauses
in Wills which relate to the benefit of the Corporation,"
and enter such clauses in a book. It is no discredit to
him that after his death other books of reference were
found to be necessary. Register Pocklington's duties
in the way of book-keeping comprised a book of bene-
factors' names ''with proper alphabetts to refer to them,"
a book of estates "with abstracts of Title, Conveyance,
etc.," a book of standing orders, which still survives,
a rental-book as well as minute-books for Courts and
committees, "the Senior Treasurer to have a duplicate
of each." He had to keep the estate-book "in some
place remote from the Deeds for greater security in case
of ffire or any other accident."

But the real test of the Register then, as of the
Registrar now, is his way of dealing with those whom


the Corporation so often calls ** proper objects of
charity," the widows and the children ; and for this
we must look at the letters he received. ^* Worthy Sir,'*
writes one old lady, *^God is pleased still to continue
my life notwithstanding all the hardship undergone by
Reason of my low and poore condition in the world,
and as long as I doe live I must make my address to
you. Sir, that you would be pleased to continue your
kindness and pity to me." Then she gives him the
usual information as to how her allowance can be for-
warded, and closes thus: *^My most humble services
to you, Sir, with my thankfull acknowledgments of
your pity for me and your remembrance of me now
I am at that distance from you, Sir, I subscribe myself
your poore obliged servant, Dorothy Kennett." He was
evidently liable to be sent to for any and every purpose.
His ''truly affectionate ffriend. Will. Beveridge," writes
to him in 1688 to say that if Tyllott has any money in
hand for Mrs. Smith, and will pay it to the bearer,
Anthony Smith, Beveridge will be obliged. In the
same year there is forwarded to him from *'the Rev.
Doctor Beveridges house in Corbett Court in Grace
Church Streete," a letter to one Samuel Ferrers from
a ''sequestered" widow named Newstead. The writer
sends her respects to Dr. Beveridge, and begs her
"Cousin Ferrers'^ to go and ask Tyllott "when the
money is paid for the releife of Sequestered Ministers
Widdows." To economise postage the same letter
covers a commission to "Enquire what will bee the


Price of a Silver Spectacle frame of beste Princes Metle
Copper or Steele, for I have broke the home that you
sent me ; the glasse fitts my eyes soe well that they will
last mee a long time iff they were sett in any of those
mettalls." Tyllott receives a call in 1694 froni a poor
body in trouble, and the result is a receipt in his hand-
writing with her signature for forty shillings ** towards
y releasing me out of prison." Another appears to be
in a like case, for she writes from *'Ludgatte. Sir,
I being now a close prisoner in Ludgatt because the
Judge is out of toune am faine to send my Daughter to
you for the mony which you ware plesed to say
I should have this day and hope you have obtayned
sum what for hir. This is all I have to troubell you
with. Your sarvant Anne ffarewell." Tyllott's cham-
bers in Doctors' Commons were in fact a cave of
Adullam, and he was a recognised welcomer of those
who were in trouble, paying for the funerals of some
and the lodgings of others. It is hardly to his discredit
that he should have obtained a Palmer pension for his
sister, whom he certified to be **an object of charity.'*
The fact may also serve to remind us that the custom
long prevailed of giving a preference to parsons' sons
in appointing to this and other offices. In 1803, when
Henry Stebbing was elected, the Court started its pro-
ceedings with a resolution **that, as it appears to have
been the usage of this Corporation to give a Preference
to the sons of Clergymen before any other Candidates
for the Office of Register, the same be observed in the


present Vacancy." The rule that the Register should
be of the legal profession, either barrister or solicitor,
is certainly more important.


The rest of the permanent staff must not detain us
long, though at least one of them served the Charity
rather longer even than the faithful Tyllott. When
they met in Jerusalem Chamber for their first election,
the Governors chose as their Messenger one Richard
Williams, citizen and Haberdasher. His duties, judg-
ing by his stipend, were hardly more than menial. The
Court fixed his fees in 1679 as follows: ^'For warn-
ing a Generall Court and his attendance thereon. Ten
Shillings," so also for a Court of Assistants five
shillings, and for a Committee half a crown. But
in the following year they commuted these separate
payments for an annual stipend of \2^ increased in
1684 to ;fi4, *'in consideration of all sorts of services."
He was thus about a year senior to Tyllott in the
service of the Charity and he survived him by about
the same time, dying in 17 12; but whereas Tyllott died
in harness, his subordinate had become a pensioner
some time before. His duties were evidently such as
his simple title implies. He had to summon the
members to meetings, and we have seen that he was
particularly charged to include the President when he
did so. It was evidently his business to recover the


taxes remitted to the Corporation as a Charity ; for in
1702 *'the Commiss''^ for the Land Tax sitting at the
Guildhall in London " were reported by him to have
*' refused to exempt two houses scituate on Snow Hill,"
and the Register had to display the deed of purchase
before they would relent. Various surviving receipts
in his name show that moneys were delivered to him
by the Treasurers for distribution to pensioners. But
with these exceptions the Messenger is an elusive
personage in the records till the day came in 1708
when, '^ considering the great age of Richard Williams
and the great decay of his memory, whereby he was
rendered incapable to execute the office of Messenger
of this Corporation, '' the Court ^*did discharge him
from any further duty but ordered his salary to be paid
to Christmas next." One Edward Anderton was chosen
in his place, and told to give ^ of his 14. sl year to
Williams during his life. In 17 10 the Court added
one of their pensions to the old man's retiring allow-
ance, giving him 2 sl year as a clergyman's son, *^in
consideration of his good services and being very aged
and poor." But in his declining years he suddenly
becomes interesting. There are suspicions at once of
his parentage and his orthodoxy. In 171 1 it was
resolved to give him notice that, *^an Information
being given to this Court that he is no Clergymans
Son, that he goes to Meetings^ has given ffortunes with
his Children, and is no proper object of Charity, that
he attends the next Court of Assistants to show cause


why his sallary should not be taken of." In fact, he is
to ^* bring a Certificate of his being a Clergymans Son
by Lady Day next." The report may have been due
to the decreasing protection of his old colleague,
Thomas Tyllott, or to the desire of the new Messenger
to cease the handing over of a considerable part of his
stipend. Anyhow one is glad to think that it came to
nothing. The reference was discharged before Lady
Day came, and when he died in 17 12 it was mercifully
ordered that ^^M*"^ Williams bee payd her husbands
Pention due at the Court of Distributions next after his
death towards his buryall."

One detail in regard to Anderton, the second Mes-
senger, illustrates the sort of work that might be
expected of him. With his consent, in 17 13, **it is
ordered that he bee disfranchised and struck out of the
list of Governors, To the end he may be capable of
being an Evidence for the Corporation." The Register,
no doubt, would conduct the case ; the Messenger must
be prepared to step into the witness-box, if necessary.
It is hardly likely that his wife could have done this
part of Anderton's work for him, but after his death the
Court gave her 1^ as **a gratuity for her Husband's
services and her own during his sickness."

Anderton was succeeded by Thomas Savage, whose
brother, Dr. Savage, was a member of the largely
attended Court at which the election took place. The
Messenger had now become a more responsible person,
for he and the Doctor had to provide a joint security


of ;"2CX) that *'all the rents and moneys" shall be
properly accounted for. His salary also rose to 20,
But barely two years passed before Thomas Savage
was a grave defaulter. He was called upon to account
for ;"243, and blandly ''declared he had used it in
paying some old Debts and furnishing his House."
Naturally Mr. Treasurer Pickering proceeded to "dis-
course Dr. Savage in relacion to the mony which his
Brother the Messenger had run out of the Corporation
Cash." The Doctor, it appeared, was willing to pay
interest on the principal sum, and agreed that the Cor-
poration should ''retain his [the brother's] Sallary of
20 a year till the debt is paid," but he put in a plea
"that the interest might be some way moderated in
regard he was at a constant charge in promoting the
Subscriptions in the University of Cambridge." I have
found his 1725 list of subscriptions, amounting in all
to ;^30 ; but quite apart from this the Court would
naturally sympathise with their colleague. He had
been Festival preacher in 17 15, he was chaplain to
Francis Atterbury, and was Master of Emmanuel
College at the time when his brother involved him in
this trouble. Happily by 1729 the sum "run out"
by Thomas Savage was all refunded, but not before
the defaulter had been dead for some years. For in
1724 he was evidently known to be in articiilo mortis.
The Court met on April 24th, and fixed April 25th for
the election of a Messenger, "in case M^ Savage is now
dead." Apparently he was, for on the day appointed,


Archbishop Wake being in the chair, they chose a
certain Babington Sybbald as Messenger * Muring the
pleasure of the Court of Assistants." They evidently
meant this time to have their man under better control,
and in a few months they laid down his duties in
greater detail. *'He shall be subservient," they said,
*'to the orders of the Trearer for the time being, and
attend the Sen'" Trearer every Monday and Thursday
morning for the Trearers orders in any business relating
to the Corporation and also call upon the Register to
know if he has any business to acquaint the Trearer


Another official, of greater importance to the public
welfare of the Charity, was one who went by the name
of the '* Sollicitor." It is obvious that he did not fulfil
the functions which are now associated with the word,
for these were clearly the business of the Register.
The need of such a functionary was felt first about
1684, when one of the Treasurers mentioned that they
were looking out for ^'a fitt person to be a Sollicitor
for this Corporation," and that he had himself ** dis-
coursed with one M*" Stubbs a Clergymans Sonne who
was willing to accept of that office," and who was there
and then appointed under the seal. Poor Stubbs was
dismissed in a few months without any cause being
assigned, and then came a more efficient appointment
in the person of Mr. William Middleton, whose selection


was probably due to Sir Christopher Wren. He was
a member of the Court of Assistants, and had been
Steward of the Festival in 1677. Now he *' offered
himselfe ready to serve the Corporation in the quality
of a Sollicitor and brought with him a forme of deputa-
tion to be by this Court granted to him and read the
same. Whereupon the Court being very well satisfyed
of the great ability honesty and industry of the said
M"^ William Middleton in the procuring and getting
in subscriptions towards the repairing of St. Paul's
Church," accepted him as *^ Sollicitor" of the Corpora-
tion. This entry makes it obvious that he was to be
what the societies of to-day would call a collector or
an organising secretary. But his work was varied.
In 1687 he was the recipient of a proposal from Herbert
Croft, Bishop of Hereford, with regard to a diocesan
effort, of which more elsewhere,* and in which it ap-
peared to the Court that Middleton had *' exceeded his
Commission." But they recognised that it was only a
case of trop de zele. A year later they were taking his
*^ great services" into consideration. As *Uhere was
as yet noe Sallary settled upon him," they *'did order
seaven pounds to be given to his Mother M^^ Elizabeth
Middleton besides the three pounds now given to her
as a Sequestered Ministers Widdow." At the same
time it was arranged that this \o should be a first
charge on **the subscriptions by him procured for this
Corporation in the Counties of Kent and Sussex."

* pp. 86-92.


This throws an obvious light on the development of
his functions. He was no longer a mere London col-
lector, but an Association Secretary for the Provinces.
He had received a letter so he reported **from some
Clergy-Men in Suffolke desiring him to come downe
into the County at the Archdeacons Visitation at
Easter " and was ready to go if the Court would allow
him ** his necessary travelling charges," an offer
which they at once accepted. There is one more refer-
ence of a humble nature to Mr. Middleton before he
disappears from the scene without even a successor
being appointed. It was reported to a Court of 1703
that he had *^ voluntarily sollicited the affair of M*^
Coborns Charity" and ^'was now attending without."
He was called in and told that the matter was now in
the hands of a Committee and was * desired to desist
any further acting therein." But this was not said in
anger. ^^They would the next Court day consider of
gratifying him for what he had done." And ^'thirty
shillings and the thanks of the Court" were the last of
Mr. Middleton.


A society whose financial interests were of a very
varied nature was not long in feeling the need for
financial method. In 1687 it was '^ moved in Court
that a good Accomptant might be procured to method-
ize the Bookes of the Corporation and to state their
Accompts," and that **one M'" Samuel South" should


be ** prevailed with" to undertake the work at a suit-
able honorarium. South had been a Steward in 1685,
and was then a member of the Court of Assistants,
but he leaves no further trace of himself, and the task
appears to have been left to the *^Comittee to Methodize
the Bookes," which was nominated at each November
anniversary. So the office was apparently in abeyance
till 1726, when once more the Court

took into their Consideration the nature of the
business of the Accomptant, and are of opinion
that he keeps a Journall and Leidger of all the
Revenues and also a Journall and Leidger of all
the Benefactions in possession or Revertion, and
that the same officer do address and make Applica-
tion to all subscribers to the Corporation, and that
the same person collect such Rents as the Trearer
for the time being shall direct, and that the
Accomptant attend such Coinittees as the Court
and Comittee of Accounts shall direct, and that
his Sallary be ^0 a year payable Quarterly. And
that a Convenient office together with a Lodging
be appointed for the Accomptant in the Corpora-
tion house by a Comittee to be appointed for that

Elections always brought a large attendance, and on
this occasion the Assistants included Richard Reynolds,
Bishop of Lincoln, nobly unmindful of the fact that it
would be the duty of the Accountant to call attention to
his lordship being himself in debt to the Corporation,


for he was ^*in arrear for his ffee farm rents for 3 years."
In any case the Court ** proceeded to recommend an
Accountant and considered it should be done by Ballot-
ting." Mr. Valens Comyn, who was in nomination
along with two others, ^' upon the Ballot had 20 votes"
and was elected. And they soon showed their satisfac-
tion with him. In the following May they ''entered
into consideration " of what he had done to justify his
election, and were *'of opinion that he very well
deserves a gratuity of One Hundred Pounds for the
very extraordinary Services and Business which he has
done for the Corporation."

For the amount of work and of financial responsibility
involved it cannot be said that the Charity was lavish
of salaries, even when the Register, the Sollicitor, the
Accomptant, and the Messenger are taken into con-
sideration. Notwithstanding the increase of work which
the years have brought, its staff remains at the same
number, though the duties may not be distributed
exactly as of old.



A STRANGER coming fresh to the consideration
of our ancient Charity naturally asks the meaning
of its name. He finds in the present day a number of
benevolent persons of all classes and certainly of more
than one creed banded together as the **Sons of the
Clergy." He learns that a prominent Wesleyan lay-
man, the son of a Wesleyan, is every year a Steward
of its Festival, and, if he went into its records, he would
discover that at the close of the eighteenth century the
Secretary of the Stewards expressed particular delight
at the generosity of a gentleman called Goldsmid, whose
name implies that he was one of those Jews whom
commercial success had not deprived of their native
large-heartedness. The fact is that from early times
the name **Sons of the Clergy," however appropriate
to the Wrens and the Henchmans and the Dolbens,
who were mentioned in the Charter, was not interpreted
to the rigid exclusion of anyone who in a practical way
was prepared to wish the clergy and their families good
luck in the name of the Lord. It will be seen that their
officials were chosen as a rule from clerical families, but



it was not long before the very Court of Assistants did
not clearly know its duty in the matter. In 17 19, when
the second generation was being represented by men
like Humphrey Henchman, Doctor of Laws and Chan-
cellor of the London diocese, the General Court referred
it to Sir Gilbert Dolben, their Vice-President, and
**such other members of the Court who are of the
Profession of the Law to Inspect the Charter and con-
sider whether any persons who are not Sons of Clergy-
men are capable of being Governors or Members of
this Corporation." The answer is not on record, but
it can easily be guessed at. The official title is **the
Charity for Releife of the poore Widdowes and Children
of Clergymen," and the Charter is addressed to persons
*^who are the children of Clergymen, and others.'''
Even as late as 1789 the question was still in debate.
A number of gentlemen were coming forward as
Stewards who were not sons of clergy. They were
all elected Governors, but could they be placed on the
Court of Assistants? So Chief Baron Skynner, the
Vice-President, was asked to look at the Charter once
more, and a day was appointed for the special considera-
tion of the question. In the end it was resolved unani-
mously **That it is both legal and expedient and will
be for the Advantage of this Corporation, to elect
Persons who have served the office of Steward of the
Feast of the Sons of the Clergy, though not Clergy-
men's Sons, upon the Court of Assistants."

Thus, whether accurate or not, the name *'Sons of


the Clergy " came early and came to stay. It is at least
one object of this story of the Charity to suggest that
in the present day, more than ever before, the title
should be an inspiration to those to whom it actually
belongs. It is recognised to-day, and recognised sadly,
that the sons of the clergy are not pressing into the
ranks of the clergy as they once did. They pass into
other professions, and, when their zeal in their calling
is equal to that of their father in his, they make their
way prosperous and have good success. But they are
still parsons' sons, and our Corporation has a claim on
them in their time of wealth. If one in ten of the
successful sons of the clergy in our midst would recog-
nise their obligations, the Corporation would not be
left complaining that its possibilities are less than its

Next to a name came the need of a Seal, which, as
elsewhere stated, was produced by Sir Christopher
Wren, and the coat-of-arms was not long in following.
In 1684 ^^S'^ Henry St. George, King at Armes had,"
it was announced, ** designed to give a Coat of Armes
to this Corporation." Sir Henry, who succeeded his
father as Garter in 1703, was naturally thanked for his
offer, and a deputation was nominated to ** consider with
him of a proper Coate." In a short time (1685) the
Court received information that ^^S'^ H. St. George,
Clarencieux," had designed *^the C* of Armes" and
it had been sealed by him and '' S' W^ Dugdale " with-
out any charge to the Charity as far as they were


concerned. All that must be paid would be *^the ffees
due to the Secretary of the Lord Marshall and the under
officers," which came to 6. It is interesting to think
of the great compiler of the Monasticon Anglicanum^
then eighty years of age, earning the thanks of a
Charity whose very existence implied that for Angli-
cans monasticism was indeed a thing of the past.
The Corporation, needless to say, has not changed its
**coat," which is heraldically as follows :

Lozengy argent and sable on a chief purpure a
cross patee or, between two books opened, argent,
the leaves, cover and clasps gold. Crest : The
effigies of Charity standing on a wreath of the
colours habited in a loose garment sable, her face,
breast, hands and feet proper, her hair dishevelled

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Online LibraryErnest Harold PearceThe Sons of the clergy, 1655-1904 → online text (page 4 of 19)