The church rate was a tax formerly levied in
each parish in England and Ireland for the benefit of the parish
church. Out of these rates were defrayed the expenses of carrying
on divine service, repairing the fabric of the church, and paying
the salaries of the officials connected with it. The
church rates were made by the churchwardens, together with the
parishioners duly assembled after proper notice in the vestry
or the church. The rates thus made were recoverable in the ecclesiastical
court, or, if the arrears did not exceed £10 and no questions
were raised as to the legal liability, before two justices of
the peace. Any payment not strictly recognized
by law made out of the rate destroyed its validity. The
church rate was a personal charge imposed on the occupier of
land or of a house in the parish, and, though it was compulsory,
much difficulty was found in effectually applying the compulsion.
This was especially so in the case of Nonconformists, who had
conscientious objections to supporting the Established Church;
and in Ireland, where the population was preponderantly Roman
Catholic, the grievance was specially felt and resented.
The objections of the Nonconformists were not
only on principle. The Church of England received financial
support from Parliament, while their own congregations were
totally dependent on voluntary contributions. They did not want
to have to support another parish as well as their own. Enforcement
of the rate was not uniform across the country. Resolutions
were passed protesting against the rate, and societies to abolish
the church rate were formed all over the country. In 1836 at
a public meeting in London, a central committee, the Church
Rate Abolition Society was formed to co-ordinate the efforts
of local Societies. In 1837, Parliament
made two concessions to the Nonconformists, a more acceptable
marriage ceremony, and the civil registration of births, deaths
and marriages. But the parish rate remained compulsory until
1868. The Whig leader in the House of Commons, Lord John Russell,
supported the rate. But in 1856 The Times called the government's
attention to what the editor believed was a civil war raging
throughout the country on the church rate question.
Eventually, in 1868, the Compulsory Church Rates
Abolition Act was passed. By this Act church rates are no longer
compulsory on the person rated, but are merely voluntary, and
those who are not willing to pay them are excluded from inquiring
into, objecting to, or voting in respect of their expenditure.
|Jonathan Hatton born
In the early 1860's here at Mattishall
Jonathan Hatton, together with other non-conformists
of the village refused to pay these rates. The Mattishall
church wardens took the matter to the courts. Jonathan
was singled out as an example and for the next seven years
the church wardens pursued him through the courts where
judgment went against him. The result was he was forced
into bankruptcy as the legal and court costs had continued
to increase. His business, home and land sold from beneath
him. The act was abolished in 1868 but the stress had
taken its toll and Jonathan died on July 17th 1870 aged
Jonathan was born in 1803 and baptised
on July 13th at All Saints Church, the son of Thomas Hatton
and Eunice Webster, they had married in the same church
on November 11th 1794. Jonathan became a baker by trade
and on January 22nd 1833 married Ann Phillips a single
women of Mattishall again at All Saints. They had three
children, Alfred born 1833, who was baptised at All Saints
but by 1836 when their son James was born they had joined
the Congregational Church on Badley Moor known locally
as Old Moor Chapel. Their daughter Clara was also baptised
there in 1839. From all account the family had the property
known as 'The Laurels' on what is now Dereham Road, two
doors up from The Eight Ringers puplic house and next
door to John Hoy a clock and watch maker. On the side
of the property was a bakers and shop, Jonathan was also
recorded as a farmer. Ann died in 1840 aged 36 and was
buried on Dec 17th at All Saints churchyard.
Jonathan remarried on October 24th 1844
to Charlotte Vassar, a spinster, by licence at All Saints,
they both signed. George Horne and his sister Emily were
witnesses. Charlotte was baptised at All Saints Church
Mattishall on August 23rd 1819, the daughter of George
Vassar a farmer of Mattishall and Mary Tooley. Jonathan
and Charlotte had no children. Following Jonathan's death
in 1870, Charlotte remarried to William Edwards a retired
farmer at Norwich in 1874 and lived at South Green Mattishall
next door to the White House puplic house. In 1901, Charlotte
now 81 was living at 87 Wodehouse Street, Norwich, where
she was recorded as living on own means. She died in 1908
Below are several newspaper article that followed
1861: Jan 12 - Norfolk News
- THE MATTISHALL CHURCH-RATE CASE.
This case came before the bench on Friday—the magistrates
present being G. L. Press, G. Hyde, and R. C. Browne. Esqrs,
before whom Mr Jonathan Hatton, of Mattishall, farmer, appeared
in answer to a summons obtained by the churchwardens of that
parish, to show cause why he refused to pay 11s 1d, for church-rates.
The form of notice and minutes of the vestry at which the rate
was made having been produced, the bench asked the defendant
his reason for refusing to pay the demand of the church-wardens.
Mr. Hatton replied that he considered it an unjust Claim.
The Chairman, - Do you question the validity of the rate?
Mr. Hatton - The amount is excessive, and a former rate is not
The Chairman - How do you show that the rate is excessive?
Mr. Hatton - I am prepared to do so, sir, if necessary. It is
not according to law.
Mr. Hatton then handed a document to the bench, of which the
following is a copy:
"To the Justices of the Peace, sitting at East Dereham,
in the County of Norfolk, on the 4th of January, 1861 - I Jonathan
Hatton, being summoned to appear before you for non-payment
of a certain church-rate, for the parish of Mattishall, alleged
to have been made on the 22nd of Nov last, I hereby give you
notice, that being advised that the said rate is not made according
to law, I hereby I formally dispute the validity thereof, and
require you to dismiss the summons, in accordance with the Act
of 53 George III, chap.127, sec 7. JONATHAN HATTON.” -
"Jan 4th, 1861"
The Chairman - You State that the rate has not been collected
according to law, but you don't say how.
Mr. Hatton - I considered before I came here that the court
could not adjudicate in the case. The ground on which I refuse
to pay is, part of the parish are excused; and if one person
can get off, surely another may. The sum asked for (£28)
is many pounds over the sum wanted.
The Chairman asked the churchwardens how much money was required
for the parish use.
A Churchwarden - About £17, but part of the parishioners
have been excused, although rated, on account of poverty.
Mr. Hatton - Who is so poor that they cannot pay a three-halfpenny
rate? I do not like to pay other peoples' share. If all paid,
a penny rate would be sufficient.
In answer to enquiries from the bench, Mr. Edwards, one of the
churchwardens, stated that no amendment was proposed at the
time the rate was made; it was carried by a majority.
Mr. Hatton – A protest was made.
The Chairman (to Mr Edwards) - When did you demand the rate'
from Mr Hatton?
Mr Edwards - On the Monday before the summons was taken out
- the 17th of November.
Mr. Hatton—I shall certainly appeal to the Ecclesiastical
Court if ordered to pay it.
The bench after consultation considered that they could not
adjudicate, and must therefore dismiss the case. Mr. Hatton
applied for costs, but they were re-fused.
1864: Mar 12 - Norfolk Chronicle
Several parishioners of the parish of Mattishall were summoned
for non-payment of church rates. The defendants are all dissenters,
and their names, with the amounts due from each, are as under:—the
Rev. Henry Kiddle, independent minister, 7d; James Darby, 5d;
Jonathan Hatton, is. 6s 8d; Stephen Dunthorne, Is. 2½d;
Peter Tooley, 4s. 03¾d; Alfred Hatton, 6¾d; Henry
Beckett, 10¾d; Robert Middleton, 10d; Christmas Toffts,
7d; Clare Fisher, Is. 5d; Thomas Fisher, Is. 0½d; Mr
Drake appeared on behalf of the churchwardens, who laid the
information; and Mr Chittock, instructed by Mr J H Tillett,
who was unable to attend, for all the defendants except the
Rev, H. Kiddie. The first case taken was that of Alfred Hatton
for refusing to pay 6¾ d, being the sum rated and assessed
upon him by the churchwardens on the 10th of September last,
and which was justly due. Mr Drake showed, from the evidence
of the churchwarden (Mr Edwards), that a notice had been placed
on the church door, on the 5th of September last, calling a
meeting on the 10th of the same month, for the purpose of laying
a rate, and that a rate of 1d in the pound had accordingly been
granted by a majority of the assembled vestry meeting, and the
rate book duly signed by the magistrates. He had afterwards
called upon Mr. Hatton for his quota of 6¾d and been
refused payment. Mr Chittock objected that the complaint had
been made by only one churchwarden, and also that the notice
did not specify whether the meeting was to be held in the morning
or afternoon; but the bench overruled the objection. Mr Chittock
then objected that the previous rate had not all been collected;
but in answer to the question Mr Edwards said he did not think
there was any of the old rate uncollected. He had himself paid
for several persons who had refused payment on former occasions.
The amount of the rate was about £13, being Id. in the
pound on the assessment of £4,488. Mr Chittock also submitted
that although his client had not paid Mr Edwards, it had not
been proved that he had not paid the other churchwarden, whereupon
Mr Gowing was then sworn, and deposed - I have not received
any rate from Mr Hatton. I have never demanded it. By the Bench
- I am not prepared to answer the question, whether I concurred
with Mr Edwards in making the demand on Mr Hatton (After some
hesitation) I do not approve of these proceedings in my personal
capacity, but I am determined to do my duty as churchwarden,
and as such I do concur with my fellow churchwarden. - Mr Chittock
voted from Prideaux, that if there be a rate uncollected, such
uncollected rate being sufficient, and the churchwardens able
by their own exertion, to collect it, the court would refuse
to recognise the validity of the new rate. Mr Edwards, by his
own admission, had neglected to ask for the old rate. Mr Hyde
observed that the witness had not said the rate would be sufficient
if collected. An order was made upon the defendant, with costs.
There being a refusal to pay, a distraint will be made upon
Jonathan Hatton, father of the defendant in the previous case,
was then called upon to show cause why he had not paid his church-rate,
amounting to 6s 8d. - Mr Chittock, on behalf of Mr Hatton, handed
in a protest against the power of the magistrates to adjudicate
upon the matter, as he intended to appeal to a higher court,
and stating as his objections to pay, that the rate was illegal,
because at the vestry meeting some persons had voted who had
not a right to do so, that the rate was excessive and unnecessary.
The protest was also endorsed by the following persons, who
had likewise been summoned: - James Darby, Peter Troley, Henry
Beckett, Stephen Dunthorne, Robert Middleton, Clare Fisher,
Christmas Tofts, and Thomas Fisher. - Mr. Drake submitted that
his friend, Mr Chittock, had made a mistake in having had the
previous case tried first, as in that it had been fully proved
that the rate was not unnecessary, as the churchwardens had
no funds in hand, neither were there any arrears of a former
rate that they could collect. That the rate could not be called
excessive, inasmuch as £13 was a vary moderate sum to
be asked for in a large parish like Mattishall; and that if
any persons had voted at the vestry meeting who were not entitled
to do so, the objection to those persons should have been made
then. - Mr Chittock urged that the first defendant had chosen
his own line of defence, but it by no means showed that weightier
objections could not be brought is the present case. It was
for a higher court to decide whether those objections were valid.
He should not go into the question before the magistrates, but
having protested against their authority to try the case, he
should leave them to adopt what coarse they thought proper.
- Mr. Drake argued that it was for the magistrate to decide
whether the objections were bona fide or not, and quoted the
decision of Mr. Justice Crompton in the "Reg v Blackburn."
- Mr. Chittock contended that it was not part of their province
to decide whether those objections were made bona fide or not,
- Chairman: Justice Crompton thought otherwise.—Mr. Chittack
could not understand the meaning of the act at all if that was
the case. The act said, "If the defendant disputes the
validity of the-rate, or his liability to pay it, the justices
must forbear to proceed." There was nothing as to justices
inquiring whether the objections were bona fide or not. He argued
that by each inquiry they would be undertaking the duty of a
higher court. - After some discussion, at the close of which,
in answer to the bench, Mr Chittock said his clients considered
themselves bound to go to the Ecclesiastical Court, the magistrates
declined to adjudicate.
The cases of Messrs. Darby, Dunthorne, Tooley, Beckett, Middleton,
Tofts, and C. and S. Fisher, were next called, and the some
objections were pleaded. - Mr Drake asked the justices to adjourn
those, in order. that some opinion might be taken on the disputed
point.—The magistrates consented to do so.
Rev. Henry Kiddle, dissenting minister, was then called upon
to show cause why be had not paid his rate of 7d. - Mr Drake,
as before appeared for the churchwardens; Mr Kiddie conduct
his own case. - Mr. Kiddie; My objections to pay are that a
church-rate is unscriptural, unrighteous, and unjust. I consider
it unjust to tax the whole of the community for the benefit
of one sect. I shall never pay. You may seize my property (and
it is not much) in my house or on my premises. - An order was
made for payment of the rate and costs.
1864: Mar 12 - Norfolk News
- THE CHURCH'S FOES - OF ITS OWN HOUSEHOLD
CHURCHMEN are complaining every dog of the assaults made on
the Church by the Liberation Society, political Dissenters,
and other enemies of its peace. We wish to set them right and
point them to their real danger. So strong is the Church in
its territorial power, in its interlaced and interlocked connection
the great families and many of the principle corporations of
England, and in its traditional hold on the affections of the
English people, that no antagonistic society, no attack from
without, could shake its deep foundations or tear apart its
mighty fastenings. It is a giant and stronger than a giant,
because rooted deep in the soil. It is as strong as Babylon
and three carriages abreast could course along the top of the
If the Church of England, as an Established Church falls, as
fall it assuredly will – it will not be in the hands of
the Liberation Society, or the political Dissenters, or of any
outside antagonist Treachery or folly from within will be its
ruin - its foes will be of its own household. The Popish continent
within the camp is at this moment under-mining it, and is in
active correspondence with the Romish forces outside. Brother
Ignatius is a foe in the household. The Tractarian contingent,
more cautious than the men in sacks, are working more effectually
still to ruin the Church. And the Rationalistic contingent -
perhaps the busiest of all just now - like ichneumon flies,
are eating out the vital principle of the Church's body of divinity.
These are your real foes, 0 much-distressed Church of England!
- by man established, but, it would seem, by God for a time
Matters will grow worse, before they grow better. The foes within
will grow bolder. The Church may look for trouble upon trouble,
if, as an Established Church, it be doomed to fall. Slavery
in America affords an illustration of the probable fate of the
spirit, slavery of the English Church under its civil rulers.
The South rebelled to preserve slavery. The North had no notion
of destroying it - only of recovering the seceded States. But
a higher hand led them by a way they knew not of, and is leading
them still. The Abolitionists - the Liberation Society of America—could
not have given the death blow to slavery. Its foes are of its
own household – of the Southern house of bondage. The
South by its folly will free the slave, rather than the North
by its power. So will it be with the "hereditary bondsmen”
of the Church of England – “themselves will strike
We must not overlook in our list of the Church's foes, the little
band of stretch-the-law tyrants, who, like the old Babylonians,
are persecuting at the very moment that they are being themselves
beleaguered and betrayed. There is a reverend rector at Mattishall,
of the name of Du Pont, who is setting the parish by the ears,
breathing out threatening and slaughter in his own pitiful,
or, rather, pitiless fashion. At this critical moment he puts
the law in motion against a number of his parishioners, particularly
against a poor, hard-working, ill-paid Dissenting parson of
the name of Kiddle, who we will answer for it does ten times
as much good as the lordly rector, for one-tenth of his pay.
And this poor Mr Kiddle is sued, and is to be distrained upon,
for a Church-rate of seven-pence, to pay for sundry little jobs
done to the Church, and for the gravelling of the walk along
which Churchmen go to worship the God of love and justice. The
proud follower of the meekest of masters seem to enjoy it as
a luxury, that he can make the little conventicler pay against
his conscience. A foe in the Church's household, still he may
think that he is helping the Church, by making a despot of it,
and by showing that the Christian dispensation is more rigorous
and exacting than was the Jewish. We would remind his "harder
than a Jewish heart," that the stern rulers of the bygone
dispensation would not have dishonored God by compelling contribution
to His service. This successor of the Apostles despises, too,
his great Christian predecessors, for the greatest of them all
said, "Let no Man give grudgingly " - yet he will
have his seven-pence, however grudgingly. Still ho may think
that he is a friend of his Church. We think he is one of the
bitterest of its foe, for were all clergymen like him, the Church
of England could not live through even the remainder of this
year of grace.
Mr. Du Pont, it may be, is not worthy of this notice; and were
it not that we know that some tens of thousands will read these
words of ours, and ponder them, we would not have troubled ourselves
about a man who could distress a brother-minister for a paltry
seven-pence, demanded and exacted in violence to his known conviction,
and in an unchristian spirit of disregard for his laborious
service rendered to the common faith.
We thus briefly point out to Church of England men where their
real dangers lie - in the inner Popery, the inner Rationalism,
the inner bigotry of their own communion. If these "devils"
be not exorcised, they will mangle the Church and tear it in
Some Churchmen may affect to laugh at this. It will be seen
one day who has the best right to laugh, if any should laugh,
where everything on all sides is serious enough. If the Church
of England, as it is, can stand - Romanized, Rationalized, and
bigot-ridden - it will effectually refute the Word, which has
declared that "a house divided against itself CANNOT STAND."
No house, since houses first began to be, was ever more "divided"
1864: Mar 19 - Norfolk News
– CORRESPONDENCE - THE MATTISHALL CHURCH-RATE.
To the Editor of the Norfolk News - SIR—May I trouble
you for a short space in your columns for a few remarks in reference
to the Mattishall church-rate cases, brought before the magistrates
at East Dereham on the 4th of this month. Being one of the parties
summoned, I desire to speak for myself, for the anti-rate party
at Mattishall generally, and for the interests of religious
The Dissenters of Mattishall are charged by the friends of the
church, with being the originators of the present strife, and
with designing the destruction of the church. This, I can most
emphatically deny. It is a base and wicked slander, got up with
a design to excite prejudice against Dissenter’s, and
to justify the unrighteous proceedings of compelling them to
pay for a system of religion in which they do not believe, and
from which they derive no benefit. There has been no necessity
for the making of this rate.
The feeling of the parishioners generally is against a compulsory
rate, and in favor of voluntaryism.
Mr Gowing, one of the churchwardens, would willingly have raised
the necessary funds by voluntary contribution, and I believe,
offered a handsome sum himself to begin with. The Dissenters
have never objected to a voluntary rate. They have no desire
to see the fabric fall into decay, and I do not know of one
who would not be willing to contribute voluntarily much more
than the amount of his rate, if needed.
It was clearly shown before the magistrates that the feelings
of the vicar's churchwarden were against suck unrighteous proceedings;
and if the parish churchwarden's statements, made elsewhere,
are to be credited, he is also opposed to them. The vicar of
Mattishall is therefore the principal originator of this conflict.
A word or two in reference to some statements made by Mr William
Edwards. He stated distinctly when cross-examined by Mr Chittock,
in reference to the collection of the old rate that he did not
ask me for that rate, but that he paid it himself for me. There
are many persons who heard him make this statement. Now, sir,
my name was not even on the rate-books of the parish at the
time. I was then living in the mill cottage belonging to Mr
E Sendall, I paid him so much per quarter for the house, he
paying all rates, &c. I have examined the rate-books for
the truth of this statement.
I am, &c yours, HENRY KIDDLE, Mattishall, March 15th, 1864.
1864: Apr 9 - Norfolk News -
MATTISHALL - DISGRACEFUL PROCEEDINGS.
On Tuesday last, the village of Mattishall, which has recently
been prominently brought forward by the notorious church-rate
proceedings, was the scene of a most disgraceful disturbance
in connection with the election of a churchwarden. The poll
was fixed by the vicar at the Swan Inn, between the hours of
ten and four o'clock. The adjournment of the vestry to this
place had been protested against by the liberal party, and most
likely a question will be raised upon this point as to the validity
of the election. It was arranged that none but ratepayers should
vote, but this condition, it is said, was afterwards broken
by the vicar. The reports which have reached us charge the supporters
of Mr Edwards with intimidation and other unfair and illegal
acts. From one o'clock up to the close of the poll voters for
Mr Hatton were insulted by drunken fellows, who flourished their
sticks, and yelled, shrieked, and groaned in a most horrid manner.
An intoxicated ruffian was swearing and using the foulest of
language, sometimes staggering into the room where the polling
was going on to the great annoyance of the voters. There were
numerous instances in which Hatton's supporters were collared
by people who bawled out, "You must vote for Edwards,"
and who then introduced then into the room as "Another
voter for Edwards." At the close of the poll it was arranged
that two half-barrels of beer should be brought into the street
to be given to these who had voted for Edwards - and thereupon
a scene took place which baffles all description. Some half
drunken wretches having bored holes through the ends of the
barrels put their months to the holes and sucked out the beer,
while others got it out of the taps and drank till they could
drink no more. Even young children were made beastly drunk.
A band of music arrived from Hockering. An effigy meant for
the independent minister, dressed in a black coat and trousers,
and a chummy hat, was carried round and round the church by
the drunken rabble, headed by the band, and then burned. A tea-pot
was tied round the neck of the effigy, and as the crowd followed
it, many blasphemous threats were uttered. A fresh order for
ten shillings' worth of beer having been given, the rabble started
off in procession, stopping at the houses of many of the Hatton
party, yelling and swearing, and sometimes throwing missiles
at the doors. On arriving at the residence of the Rev H Kiddle
another effigy was exhibited. The rev gentleman calmly walked
out of his study and crossed the road, but his present, checked
for a time the violence of the mob. On returning to the town,
however, every person with whom the rioters came into contact
was insulted notwithstanding the remonstrances of the curate
whose voice was drowned by hisses with which the crowd received
The night was finished up with ravelling, fighting and dissipation,
to the great annoyance of the peaceful inhabitants of the village.
Two persons in particular are said to have been most seriously
outraged during the disturbances. We have the names of the persons
who are said to have been at the bottom of these infamous proceedings;
and if they don't come before the public in another form, we
may ourselves give them the publicity they deserve. It is only
right for us to add that the above report comes from persons
who no doubt were aggrieved by the proceedings. We have every
reason to believe that the report is unexaggerated, but as we
trust that we shall always deal faithfully with facts, if the
vicar or his friends have anything to say, our columns are open
1864: Apr 20 - Norwich Mercury
- PETTY SESSIONS:
Friday. [Before G L Press, Esq. (Chairman), Captain Bulwer,
and George Hyde. and R C BROWN, Esqs.]
THE PROCEEDINGS AT MATTISHALL. - The greater part of the day
was occupied in hearing cases of assault, which arose out of
the recent proceedings in the village of Mattishall. The first
case taken was
Frederick Edwards, farmer, of Mattishall, charged by John Beckett,
coal carter, of the same place, with assaulting him on the 10th
Mr Chittock, of Norwich, appeared for the complainant and Mr
Drake for the defendant.
Mr Chittock said on Monday, the 4th inst, the election for a
parish churchwarden of Mattishall took place, and upon that
occasion a candidate was proposed by the Church, and another
by the dissenting party. One was Mr Edwards, and the other Mr
Hatton. Upon a poll being taken, Mr. Edwards was declared to
be elected church warden, and to celebrate their triumph, they
carried an effigy round the town and burned it. He should show
that there were two effigies carried round and burnt. After
the first had been burnt, some persons, who appeared to be very
liberal, gave three half barrels of beer to such persons as
liked to partake of It. One of the persons who appeared to be
very forward in all these proceedings was the defendant. He
went round the town with the first effigy, and, having partaken
of the beer, he followed the second. When the second effigy
was about a hundred yards from Mr. Kiddle's house, complainant
did throw a sod at it. It did not strike anyone, and that was
the only sod he threw the whole time the effigy was being carried
round the town. Defendant then 'struck complainant, blackening
his eye, which was the assault complained of. Complainant, a
lad, stated that on Monday, the 4th inst, a good deal of rioting
took place at Mattishall Mr William Edwards the successful candidate,
was uncle to the defendant. After the close of the pull he saw
an effigy carried past his house by young Edward Edwards. Defendant
was walking behind shouting "Kiddle-a-wink," &c.
The effigy was dressed in a suit of black, and a white cravat,
and when the procession drew near the Rev H Kiddle's house,
complainant threw a sod at it, but it passed over, not striking
anyone. When about 30 or 40 yards from Mr. Kiddle's house, a
lad named Laing pulled a sod from the roadside, gave him half
of it, and threw the other half at the figure, but could not
strike it. Defendant then turned round and struck complainant
on the temple with his fist, knocking him backwards. His eye
was slightly blackened from that blow. He then informed his
father of what had happened, and they both went up to defendant,
who said to Mr Beckett "I will serve you the same. I will
knock your b— skull off," at the same time "drawing
By Mr Drake - Did not see a sod strike Edwards; nor the dirt
on his back and neck. Saw only three or four sods thrown; there
might have been more. Edwards did not tell him not to pull his
father's bank about when he had the sod. He did not know what
he was going to do with the sod he had in his hand; he might
have thrown it at the effigy. Edwards never said anything to
him or Laing about throwing sods - he near said “If you
don't leave off throwing those sods I will serve you out."
Young Osborn, who was walking with Edward’s called out.
William Laing, of Mattishall, the lad who was in company with
complainant, said he saw the first effigy that was carried round
on the 4th instant. After that effigy was burnt he saw two half
barrels of beer brought out against the church wall. Defendant
was present and had some beer. After they had refreshed themselves
they had a band and went to Mr Culyer’s, where they had
another effigy, and when nearing Mr Kiddle’s house Beckett
threw a sod at the image which was dressed in black with a good
sized white neck tie. There was a paper upon it, with the word
"Kiddle-a-wink," it was said that it was intended
for Mr Kiddle; it was burnt. A tea pot was tied round the neck,
because he (Mr Kiddle) was a teetotaller. There was no name
upon the first effigy. Witness picked up a sod and gave Beckett
half, but be did not throw it.
By Mr Drake, - He heard the people say it was intended for Mr
Kiddie. Edwards said it was Mr. Kiddle, and halloed “Kiddle-a-wink"
They said it was Mr Kiddle, and “let us go to his house
and give him a groan” Mr Edwards and all the church party
called out "Here comes Kiddle." Witness threw two
or three sods, Beckett threw one; he did not see anyone else
Henry Beckett said his son (the complainant) spoke to him about
being struck by Edwards. When he asked Edwards the reason why
be did so, he replied that he would serve him the same, and
knock his b— head off in about two minutes. His son's
eye was blackened.
Cross-examined - Edwards did not say he would serve him the
same if he threw sods at him. He did not complainant had thrown
sods at him. He offered no justification whatever for striking
Mr Drake said he should contradict the statement which had been
made. He should show that on that occasion those boys followed
that procession - for a lawful or un-lawful purpose it was unnecessary
for that matter to inquire into - and that they, during the
whole time of the procession, were continually throwing sods
of grass amongst the crowd, until at last it became to great
a nuisance that Osborne, at all events, expostulated with then.
He should show also that Beckett threw one of those sods, which
hit Mr Edward, in the back of his neck, and Mr Edwards turned
round - having before cautioned him - and struck at him. James
Osborne, of Mattishall, who was walking beside defendant in
the procession, said Beckett and Laing, who were in the crowd,
threw sods. Edwards told them to leave off several times, but
they continued "sodding.' Beckett threw one after Laing,
and it hit Edwards on the head. Edwards "dropped unto him"
once, and said, "Now you have got it." Witness saw
Beckett throw that sod.
Cross-examined, - Some dirt fell upon witness when they were
throwing at the figure.
Thomas Brasnett, and another witness named Vincent, corroborated.
George Edwards, of Mattishall, farmer, pleaded not guilty to
a charge of assaulting Nicholas Tofts, a young man, a cattle
dealer, of the same place, on the 4th inst.
The same legal gentlemen appeared as to the last case.
Complainant and defendant were in the kitchen of the George
Inn, Mattishall, on the polling day. Defendant got up, as complainant
thought, to go, but as he passed him he cheered and put his
head close to his seeming as though he meant to spit upon him.
Edwards repeated this conduct over the settle, and then returned
to complainant, round whose neck he put his arms and rubbed
his coat buttons against his face. When defendant knocked his
ht off, he said to "Go on you silly —." Defendant
said, "I will put you up the chimney, or on the fire, which
you like." He told him which he liked, and thereupon defendant
said he would "give him one," and struck him on the
head. He had not given defendant the slightest provocation.
Cross-examined, - Defendant swore at him, but he did not abuse
defendant when he left the kitchen. He never told the defendant
that he would pull him for it, and if he could do more to him
than the magistrates he would do it. Culyer was not present,
and did not say, "You can do nothing to him, be hasn’t
hurt you, or imitated to do so." He did not tread upon
defendant's toes, act rudely to him, or touch him with his stick.
Francis Palmer was in the George public house at the time in
question, and saw Tofts and defendant. After defendant sat upon
complainant's knee and rubbed his face, complainant used the
expression before stated, when witness said, "Don't fall
Cross-examined, - He did not see Culyer present, he had been
there. They had been talking about Whigs and Tories, churchmen
and dissenters, but witness added, "If you are a Whig and
I'm a Tory, that is no reason why we should fall out."
(Laughter.) Witness thought it was a lark, "But larks,"
he observed with good humour, "sometimes turn out to be
Mr. Drake called for the defence.
Charles Culyer, who said he was in the George at the time complainant
and defendant differed upon the election question. When Edwards
was leaving the room Tofts said, "Go on you ---."
Edwards returned and took him by the neck and said he would
put him up the chimney, "but," witness added with
naïveté, “he didn’t." Edwards just
brushed Tofts' face and said, I have a good mind to hit you
but I won't." After that Tofts said if he could he would
pull him to a higher Court than the magistrate.
This case was also dismissed, the magistrates thinking it a
There was a further charge of assault laid by Nicholas Tofts
against the same defendant.
Mr. Chittock appeared for the complainant; and Mr Drake defended.
The particulars of this assault are shortly these - Mr Tofts,
on Sunday, the 8th of April, after the summons was served in
the last case, saw George Edward's in Mattishall. He did not
speak to him, but defendant, without any provocation, spat upon
his face and blew his nose upon his coat. He did not speak to
him at all. Charles Fisher corroborated.
Mr Drake said Edwards was smoking his pipe at the time - so
he said - and did not intend to do it. They had had complainant
before them in a previous case, and did not believe his testimony,
and he put it to them whether it was at all probable he had
told the truth in the case before them. Mr Tofts and Mr Fisher's
father were each summoned with reference to the church rates
Mr. Chittock, - What has that to do with it Mr. Drake said it
showed the animus will which these cases were brought before
the Bench, and he added they were not to perpetuate parish feuds
by giving the triumph to either party. He asked them therefore
to dismiss the summons.
Fisher (recalled) said defendant went up to complainant, and
commenced the assault,
Fined 5s, and £1 1s. 6d costs.
1864: May 25 - Teesdale Mercury
- Extension of the Church-rate War
The Liberator, the monthly organ of the Liberation Society'
chronicles nearly forty church-rate contests in the last month.
It appears that in many places these contests have taken place
for the first time, and the result has been in favour of the
voluntary principle. In come other town’s peculiar, but
not very pleasant, incidents have been introduced. Thus the
church vestry at Mattishall, in Norfolk, was celebrated with
barrels of beer opened in the streets, at which men and children,
according to a local report, were made drunk by the score. Afterwards
the dissenting minister was burnt in effigy.
Several other towns are mentioned ……………
At Dent, near Kendal, three dissenters have been elected churchwardens.
At Buntingford, the vicar and landowners have declared themselves
opposed to a compulsory rate. Other towns have for the first
time adopted without, pressure the voluntary system.
1865: May 6 - Berkshire Chronicle
- CHURCH RATE CASE
At the Arches Court on Wednesday two church rate cases were
decided, one of which was of a novel character. In the case
"Edwards and Mann v Hatton," the Dean of Arches said
the question was a peculiar one. The rate was alleged to be
bad in law, because the defendant was charged with a less sum
than he ought to pay. It was certainly the first case of the
kind, and the question was whether his responsive allegation
should be admitted. The plaintiffs were churchwardens of Mattishall,
in Norfolk, and the defendant one of the parishioners. The court
allowed the allegation to be admitted, and the case was ordered
to proceed to hearing. It would then be seen whether on the
novel question raised the rate was unequal or unjust. At present
the defendant could not be considered an aggrieved party.
1865: Nov 11 - Norwich Mercury
The Rev Henry Kiddle, congregational minister, having recently
resigned the charge of the Congregationalists in this place,
preached farewell sermons on Sunday last. The morning congregation
was huge, but in the evening the place was literally crammed,
and many could not gain admittance. The feeling in the evening
was very solemn; many persons wept aloud, Mr. Kiddle himself
being at times nearly overcome. The large congregation and the
great attention paid to the discourses, show the great respect
in which Mr. Kiddle is held by most people in the place. Mr.
Kiddie will for the present reside in Norwich.
1867: Jan 19 - Norfolk Chronicle - EDWARDS AND MANN
This was another suit to enforce a church-rate. The parties
the plaintiffs as churchwardens, and the defendant, a parishioner
lived at Mattishall, Norfolk. The defendant was directed to
pay the rate and condemned in the costs, amounting to £369
12s 11d. Mr Moore appeared as proctor, and to obtain payment
of the bill of costs, “porrected" it to his Lordship.
He swore that he had expended the amount mentioned in the bill.
- His Lordship asked whether anyone appear for the defendant.
- Mr. Moore answered in the negative. - The Dean of Arch, pronounced
for the bill of costs, and decreed payment against the defendant.
1867: May 18 - Norfolk Chronicle - COURT OF BANKRUPTCY,
LONDON. FRIDAY, MAY 10.
(Before EDWARD HOLROYD, Esq.) - RE, J. HATTON - The bankrupt.
Jonathan Hatton described as of Mattishall, in the county of
Norfolk, farmer, came up and applied to pass his examination
and for his order of discharge. He attributed his bankruptcy
to the - pressure of creditors and the proceedings of the churchwardens
of Mattishall, "Mr Renard (Treherne, Whites, and Renard),
of Barge-yard Chambers, represented the creditors' assignee,
Mr. William Runacres, of the city of Norwich, gentleman; and
Mr. Laurence, of Old Jewry Chambers, appeared for Mr William
Edwards and Mr John Mann. - The bankrupt stated his unsecured
debts to be £392 13s. 9d, and due to creditors holding
security £147 7s 10d, which he thus described, vis. -
Joseph Everett, merchant Norwich, and Sir Samuel Bignold, Norwich,
Knight, £147 7s 10d. "On the 19th of April. 1862,
I and my wife, Charlotte Hatton, executed a mortgage to the
above-named creditors to secure £400 and interest at 5
per cent per annum. The property comprised in such mortgage
consisted first of two tenements and bake-office in Mattishall
then belonging to me in fee. Secondly, the one-sixth part of
share to which my said wife is presumptively entitled in remainder
in fee after the death of her father, George Vassar, of and
in a farm-house and buildings and about 42 acres of land at
Mattishall aforesaid, and the adjoining parish of Welborne;
and also one-sixth part or share to when my said wife is presumptively
entitled in remainder in fee, expectant upon the death of the
said George Vassar and Mary his wife, in a cottage and eleven
acres three roods of land in Mattishall and Welborne aforesaid,
but subject to a power vested in the said George Vassar and
Mary his wife to revoke the trusts now affecting the said hereditaments.
Thirdly, the reversionary sixth part or share of the same as
one of the children of the said George Vassar, in certain trust
monies made payable to such children after the death of the
survivor of them the said George Vassar and Mary his wife. The
mortgage deed contains a covenant on my part for payment of
the said principal money and interest, and acceleration that
is between me and my said wife. The hereditaments firstly mentioned
should be solely charged with and liable to the said sum of
£400 and interest. The said mortgagees in September, 1866,
sold the tenements and bake-office and received the proceeds
in part discharge of their mortgage security. They had previously
sued me and signed judgment for the whole principal sum of £400
and interest, and under fear of their levying under such judgment
I sold part of my last year's corn and paid them further sums
on account, leaving the above balance of £147 7s, 10d
due to such mortgagees at the time of filing my petition. In
April, 1866, Mr E W Crosse, my proctor in the suit instituted
against me by Messrs. Edwards and Mann, obtained a judgment
against me in an action brought by him for recovery of his costs,
and I sold part of my last year's crops to make payments to
him on account of his judgment, but on the 11th of February
last the said Edward Crosse levied an execution and sold all
my remaining crops, stock and effects to pay the balance, £165
13s. l0d, of his judgment and the half-year's rent then due”
After a brief discussion the Court adjourned the bankrupt's
examination until the 20th of June next, at eleven o'clock,
in order that Mr. Laurence might have an opportunity of examining
the bankrupt's books.
Renewed protection from arrest was granted the bankrupt until
the adjourned sitting.
1867: Jun 26 - Norwich Mercury
Re J Hatton, - Bankrupt, a farmer, of Mattishall, applied for
his discharge from debts of £392. It appeared that having
resisted the payment of a rate due to the church-wardens of
the parish of Mattishall, proceedings were commenced against
him in the Ecclesiastical Court, and eventually an order was
made for payment of the rate (6s 8d.) and the costs of the suit,
which were taxed at no less than £369. This constituted
practically the only debt upon the schedule. The bankrupt to
his accounts made the following statement: - In April, 1866
Mr E W Crosse, my proctor in the suit instituted against me
by Messrs. Edwards and Mann, obtained a judgment again me in
an action brought by him for recovery of his costs, and I sold
part of my last year's crop to make payments to him on account
of his judgment ; but on the 4th of February last the said Mr
Crosse levied execution and sold all my remaining crop, stock,
and effects, to pay the balance (£l65.13s.10d), of his
judgment and the half-year's-rent then due." Mr. Reynard,
for the assignee, did not oppose; Mr. Bagley supported the bankrupt.
Mr Lawrance, for the churchwardens of Mattishall, opposed, on
the ground that the bankrupt, having exhausted his assets, had
vexatiously defended the suit in the Ecclesiastical Court. The
bankrupt in his evidence said that he was a Dissenter, and he
had refused to pay the rate because he considered it illegal
and unnecessary. By Mr Bagley, - He had occupied the farm at
Mattishall, in Norfolk, for 22 years, and during that time had
paid only one rate. He defended the suit upon the belief that
he had a good defence to it, and he had been completely ruined
in consequence. When the matter came before the magistrates
they declined to interfere on the ground of want of jurisdiction.
Mr Bagley said he was prepared to call Mr Crosse, the proctor,
who would prove that the defence was well advised, but the learned
Commissioner, after hearing Mr. Lawrance, said it was unnecessary
to adduce further evidence. He was of opinion that, although
the result of the suit had been most unfortunate and lamentable,
there was no proof that the bankrupt had acted vexatiouily.
The order of discharge would therefore be granted.
1867: Sept 28 - Norfolk News - THE MATTLISHALL CHURCH-RATE
CASE - To the Editor of the Norfolk
Sir - The following statement of facts respecting the late Mattishall
church-rate case may interest some of your readers and possibly
induce them to show their sympathy for the unfortunate defendant,
A large body of Nonconformists who reside in Mattishall and
the neighbourhood have long felt strong repugnance to church-rates,
whilst there, has been a firm determination on the part of members
of the Church to enforce them.
Proceedings were commenced and finally Jonathan Hatton, a small
farmer became defendant in suit in the Court of Arches, in which
probably not less than a sum of upwards of £1000 has been
Jonathan Hatton's means have been wasted in the payment of costs
incurred by him, and by an execution under which the remnant
of his affects were seized and the interest in his farm disposed
of by the Sheriff. He is now in a most precarious state of health
and his friends have advised him to endeavour to re-take the
farm, which the present tenant is willing to relinquish to him.
The advocates of church-rates have, from a firm conviction of
duty, subscribed to meet the churchwarden’s expenses;
and it seems not reasonable to appeal to the Nonconformist body
to help a poor man who has been bereft of all his property maintaining
his conscientious objections to the payment of church rates.
The facts of this case are well known to the writer, and you
are at full liberty to give his name to any one who desires
further information, although for the present he subscribes
himself, yours faithfully, A CITIZEN of Norwich - Norwich, 25th
1867: Dec 14 - The Suffolk Chronicle; or Weekly General
Advertiser & County Express
MEETINGS OF THE LIBERATION SOCIETY.
During the week a series of meetings have been held in St. Peter's
Hall, Norwich, in connection with the Society for the Liberation
of the Church from State Patronage and Control. On Tuesday afternoon
a conference was held, at which a large body of the ministers
and members of Nonconformist churches in the city and county
were present. On the same evening and on the following evening
public meetings were held in the same place. We give below reports
of the proceedings.
Quite a bit on other business at this point……..
Mr R TELLYARD next proposed a resolution in relation to the
Mattishall church-rate case as follows: - Mr Hatton, of Mattishall,
having been prosecuted in a suit for non-payment of a church-rate,
and having defended the suit under the advice of eminent counsel,
and the decision having been adverse and resulting in his entire
ruin, this conference recommends the case as one entitled to
the sympathy and help of the friends of religious liberty in
Norwich and elsewhere, and that a request be made to the Nonconformist
Congregations in the county to render assistance in this matter
by public collections.
Mr J COPEMAN seconded the resolution, and an animated conversation
Mr J H TILLETT said it would be a part of a most excellent scheme
if Nonconformists were to institute a system of collections
in all their churches to sustain those who fell in the church-rate
battle. They would then also prevent many an attack being made
upon poor and helpless men. In Norfolk they were priest-ridden
to a very great degree. They had High Churchism in some of its
very worst forms. He thought the blackest spot in that respect
in England might be found in the county of Norfolk. They ought
all to work together, and join hands and hearts in behalf of
their own weaker brethren who were fighting the battle in isolated
places. [Loud Applause.]
Mr J B ALLEN proposed and Mr. LIVOCK seconded - That a request
be sent from this meeting to the Nonconformist bodies in Norfolk
that collections should be made on behalf of Mr. Hatton.
The Rev Mr KIDDLE, of Mattishall, spoke highly of Mr. Hatton's
character, and of the distress that had fallen upon him in consequence
of the struggle in which he had engaged.
A number of gentlemen spoke on this case and it transpired in
the course of their remarks that the losses to which Mr Hatton
had been subjected were between 5 - £600. A general feeling
seemed to prevail that a subscription to the amount of £1000
should be at ones made to compensate the ‘'Mattishall
Martyr," for his loss of time, money, and health, and several
persons stepped forward to the chairman and handed up their
A committee was appointed to attend to this matter, and the
conference then adjourned to partake of a cold collation.
On Tuesday evening a public meeting was held in St. Peter's
Hall, for the purpose of discussing and adopting resolutions
in approval of the principles and action of the society. The
chair was occupied by Mr J H Tillett, and there was a large
attendance the body of the hall being crowded.