Before the Whitehaven magistrates yesterday, the
Rev. John Henry Latrobe BATEMAN, vicar of Haile, Cumberland, was charged, at the
instance of the Treasury, with solemnizing matrimony between Robert LITTLE, aged
18 years, and Mary Jane COCKBAIN, without licence or certificate, without due
publication of banns, and without permission of LITTLE's parents; also, with
inserting in the register of marriages a false entry relating to the marriage on
the 9th of May last. It appeared from the evidence that the couple who were
married had formerly been in the rev. gentleman's service. Notwithstanding the
strong remonstrances of LITTLE's mother, Mr. BATEMAN married them. The matter
was reported to the Bishop of Carlisle and the present proceedings were
instituted. Evidence was given that neither of the parties married resided out
of Egremont for three months prior to the marriage, and that the banns were
never published. The defendant was committed for trial at Cumberland Assizes on
the first charge, bail being accepted. The second charge was adjourned for a
fortnight on a legal point.
The Rev. James H. Latrobe BATEMAN, vicar of
Haile, was prosecuted by the Treasury yesterday, at Whitehaven Police-court, for
feloniously inserting, or permitting to be inserted, in the register of
marriages at Haile a certain false entry relating to a marriage. Mr. HODGSON
prosecuted for the Treasury; Mr. PICKERING defended. A fortnight ago Mr. BATEMAN
was committed for trial at the assizes on a charge of solemnizing matrimony
between Robert LITTLE and Mary Jane COCKBAIN without licence or certificate,
without due publication of banns, and without the consent of LITTLE's parents,
he being a minor. A second charge was adjourned, notice being served upon
defendant to produce the marriage register. Yesterday the marriage register was
not forthcoming. A certified copy of the marriage from the Registrar-General was
put in, showing that the marriage had been solemnized after the publication of
banns. The prosecution contended that there was no publication of banns.
Evidence having been given by a witness who was at the marriage that Mr. BATEMAN
made the entries in the marriage register, the magistrate committed the
defendant for trial at the assizes, bail having been accepted - defendant in
£200 and one surety in £200.
ILLEGAL SOLEMNIZATION OF MARRIAGE. - At Carlisle Assizes yesterday, before Mr.
Justice DAY, the Rev. J. Henry Latrobe BATEMAN, vicar of Haile, near Whitehaven,
was found guilty of having feloniously solemnized a marriage between Robert
LITTLE, a youth, under 18 years of age, and Mary Jane COCKBAIN, without licence
and without previous publication. He was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment
with hard labour, the Judge remarking that he had failed to show any honest
excuse for the violation of the law.
ECCLESIASTICAL APPOINTMENTS. -
The Guardian gives the following list of appointments: -
Rev. A. H. COOPER, curate of Holy Trinity, Carlisle, vicar of Haile,
Cumberland - patron, Lord LONSDALE;
For obvious reasons, a vacancy had arisen at Haile as the previous vicar was
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - At the last Carlisle Assizes held before Mr. Justice DAY a clergyman was
convicted of felony in solemnizing a marriage without licence or publication of
banns. It appeared in the evidence that the banns were published at an afternoon
service, surreptitiously held for the purpose of defeating the parents of the
young man, who was a minor, in their intention to forbid them. The Judge ruled
that this was no publication in law. The jury recommended the prisoner to mercy
on the ground that he believed the publication to be legal, though not moral.
His counsel thereupon claimed an acquittal, but the Judge sent the jury back,
and after an hour's delay they brought in their verdict without the
recommendation. He was sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for 18 months.
I read in The Times of yesterday that the same Judge passed the same sentence at
the Central Criminal Court on a man who attacked a young woman with a knife for
refusing to fulfil a promise of marriage, stabbed her three times in the back,
and when the blade broke knelt upon her chest to strangle her, saying he meant
"doing" for her. The defence was that "he was in a temper at the time." Is this
Your obedient servant,
Beeford, Dec. 17.
P.S. - The clergyman's benefice is forfeited by the conviction.
04 Jan 1887
THE SENTENCE ON THE VICAR OF HAILE.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - I am very glad to notice that Dr. TREVOR has introduced to the powerful
columns of The Times of December 25 a reference to the astounding sentence
passed by Mr. Justice DAY on a Cumberland vicar for having irregularly married a
young couple after irregular publication of banns and in spite of a relative's
protest. Of course such a dereliction of duty ought to have its punishment, but
18 months' imprisonment with hard labour for an educated man is equivalent to
I need hardly remind your readers of the fact that a Roman Catholic priest, the
Rev. Father FAHY, has recently been released from prison after a few weeks'
incarceration, and he was charged with the far more serious offence of
instigating an ignorant population to the committal of robbery and murder.
The unprecedented case of the Cumberland clergyman has already been mentioned in
the Church newspapers more than once, and nothing seems to be done. I have
always maintained that the clergy have less esprit de corps than any other class
of the community, and the apparent indifference with which this affair seems to
be regarded goes far to prove it. Fancy, if a similar sentence, under similar
circumstances, had been passed on a military or naval officer, a medical man, or
a lawyer, what an immediate stir would have been created with a view to its
What is the Bishop of Carlisle about, or the high dignitaries of his diocese,
that they do not approach the Home Secretary, or, failing him, Lord SALISBURY
himself, about this most distressing business?
I am yours, &c., W. R. HOPPER.
Holy Trinity Church, Wakefield.
07 Jan 1887
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - In a letter which appears in The Times of January 4 the writer asks,
"What is the Bishop of Carlisle about?"
I am quite cognizant of all that has happened, and regret to say that the
circumstances of the case are such as to render it quite impossible for me to
intervene on behalf of the (late) Vicar of Haile.
I am, your obedient servant,
Rose Castle, Jan. 5.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - The severe sentence of 18 months' imprisonment with hard labour passed by
Mr. Justice DAY on the vicar of Haile for solemnizing a marriage after undue
publication of banns, commented upon in your columns by Dr. TREVOR and Mr.
HOPPER with a view to obtain a mitigation of the sentence, suggests reflections
on the unsatisfactory state of the law in relation to possible sentences for
It was within the statutary power of the Judge to have sentenced the vicar for
this act, which until Lord HARDWICKE's Marriage Act, 1753, was purely an
ecclesiastical offence, visited by the canons only with suspension for three
years, to 14 years' penal servitude. The possibility of a clergyman or of any
man being liable to such a sentence for such an offence cannot be felt to
constitute a satisfactory state of the law.
In recent times it has been the increasing disposition of the Legislature to
make acts not criminal at common law criminal by statute either as felonies or
as misdemeanors - in the latter case punishable by fine or imprisonment from one
day to one or more years, and with or without hard labour. Thus for the same act
committed under circumstances almost identical one Judge may pass a sentence of
a fine, another of imprisonment for one day, and a third of imprisonment with
hard labour for months or one or more years.
The measure of sentences must to a great extent be left to the discretion of the
Judge, but when an act is constituted for the first time a criminal offence by
statute provision might and ought to be made to protect the accused from an
excessive sentence, especially where a violation of the law was not intended by
him, or where the act has not done or was not intended to do a serious injury to
an individual, or where the verdict of the jury is accompanied with a
recommendation to mercy. In such cases the infliction of hard labour might
properly be excluded from the sentence.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
The Temple, Jan. 6.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, I think that every clergyman will agree with Mr. HOPPER about the case of
the Vicar of Haile that it is a "most distressing business;" but I wish to
refute, if possible, his contention that the fact of the clergy not agitating on
behalf of the Cumberland clergyman proves that as a body the clergy are wanting
in esprit de corps.
The sentence passed by Mr. Justice DAY is in its severity an exemplary one, and
was evidently intended to be so, and I do not doubt that if the knowledge of the
laity were commensurate with that of Mr. Justice DAY and of the Bishop of
Carlisle, as to the facts of the case, they would judge the punishment to be, if
not absolutely merited in the individual case, at any rate needed upon public
grounds. Clergymen generally have a great respect for the wisdom and good sense
of the Bishop of Carlisle, and probably he desires nothing better now than that
this good should rise out of this evil - viz., that the clergy of the Church of
England should learn the lesson which an able English Judge has thought it
requisite to teach them. Mr. HOPPER's allusion to the Army and Navy and to the
medical and legal professions is unfortunate. Nothing can be more certain than
that officers belonging to both services have been dismissed the service of Her
Majesty the Queen upon evidence of a lesser breach of discipline than that
committed by the Vicar of Haile; and it is notorious that the medical and legal
professions know how to judge their rolls of members who are guilty of worse
conduct than mere breach of etiquette. I can but hope that the silence of the
clergy about this breach of discipline, which is in reality a serious breach of
social order, means that we do not wish to condone lawlessness in our own ranks
which we are ready enough to condemn when it exists elsewhere. We have seen
enough of the evil consequences which ensue when those who ought to be
responsible for public order allow a breach of discipline or an act of
lawlessness to become a precedent instead of a warning to evil-doers.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
A. L. BARNES-LAWRENCE.
Aberford Vicarage, Yorkshire.
11 Jan 1887
THE CASE OF THE LATE VICAR OF HAILE.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - Though my letter appeared in your columns on Christmas Day it was an
appeal for justice rather than mercy. I knew that the recommendation of the jury
was not shared by the Bishop of the diocese. A Commission under the Church
Discipline Act had previously been issued under much heavier charges, which if
proved would have entailed the sentence of deprivation in the Ecclesiastical
Court. It failed, as such Commissions often fail, from the tendency of the
ecclesiastical mind to abide by its own convictions in the teeth of the evidence
demanded by law. A conviction for felony under the Marriage Act having now
secured the desired result, I asked - and I ask still - if justice requires the
further infliction on this degraded clergyman of the same punishment which the
same Judge awarded for an attempt to murder?
The Marriage Act was passed to stop the irregular and clandestine marriages
which caused so much misery, uncertainty, and litigation under the previous
state of the law. Even so the penalty of 14 years' transportation is one which
the Legislature would not sanction in the present day, and could never have been
intended for anything short of the most wilful and criminal defiance of the law.
In this case the marriage was solemnized in the church, in the appointed form,
duly registered, and is beyond all question good and valid, notwithstanding the
previous defect in publication of the banns. The offence consists in depriving
the parents of their legal right to forbid the banns; but as this is not felony,
and indeed is often accomplished by other means without any legal offence, it
was necessary to rule that the irregular publication was "no publication in law"
to obtain a conviction at all. The jury, in accepting the Judge's ruling,
recommended the prisoner to mercy on the ground that he thought his action was
within the law. To my mind, as to that of his counsel, this amounted to an
acquittal; but the jury were overruled, and I leave that point to the lawyers.
My question, however, remains - and I put it to the lawyers rather than the
clergy - Is it justice to inflict on a clergyman for mistaking the law, however
grievously, in addition to the loss of his living, the penalty which the law
assigns to an attempt to murder - a penalty which, having regard to his age and
condition, is, as Mr. HOPPER observes, little short of death? If he survives it
he must end his days in a workhouse.
I submit that it is no answer to my question that the excellent Bishop of
Carlisle is "quite cognizant of all that has happened." So am I. But the trial
was fully reported in the Carlisle paper, and it is not justice to try a man for
one offence and punish him for another. If Mr. BARNES LAWRENCE read the report
he would probably have less respect for the "lessons which an able English Judge
has thought it requisite to teach" the clergy. Among the grounds on which Mr.
Justice DAY rested his ruling were these: - That the clergy are bound to know
the law, that sleeping in a parish is not legal residence, and that it is
illegal to read the Communion Service in the afternoon. While I say nothing
against any of these rulings, I should not think it justice if Mr. BARNES
LAWRENCE were subjected to the same "exemplary severity" for unknowingly
solemnizing a marriage between persons not legally resident or for wilfully
celebrating the Holy Communion in the evening.
Your faithful servant,
GEORGE TREVOR, D.D.
Bedford, Jan. 8.