No 5 St Mary's Vicars Part 1

Discussion in 'Non Hampton and Richmond Borough FC related' started by Les 1949, Sep 6, 2017.

  1. Les 1949

    Les 1949 Member


    Things you may not know, or didn’t know you knew!

    No 5 St Mary’s Vicars Part 1

    For Heaven’s Sake, 1926

    The incumbent of St Mary’s Church, Derek Winterburn, has recently left his post (which he held for over 20 years) and has moved just down the road to St James in Hampton Hill. Derek’s replacement is Ben Lovell, however this is not about them as I am looking back to the 19th century which seems to have produced a few ‘dodgy’ clerics – or at least, that is how they are remembered.

    Edward Johnstone, born in 1812 - was the 41st vicar and was inducted on 31st December 1844 (the previous vicar, Samuel Goodenough, having been in post since 1803). Shall we say, to be generous, that the good reverend Johnstone put ‘people’s backs up’; he was also described as cantankerous, and didn’t seem to get along with his parishioners, maybe it was something to do with being foreign, he is variously described as being from Aberdeen or Dublin! Mr Johnstone doesn’t seem to have been someone you wanted as your local parish priest.

    The honeymoon period didn’t last all that long. The Hampton Literary Society, formed in 1853, didn’t survive Mr Johnstone’s ministrations very long. The Society was formed to provide a reading room, lending library and a place for conversation. Edward Johnstone was the first Chairman, but he very quickly resigned when he was extremely miffed that its leaflet and advertising printing had been given to a tradesman who Mr Johnstone was having an argument with. The Society quickly ceased just a year or two later.

    From 1859 onwards matters deteriorated. The churchwardens apparently refused to sit with Johnstone at the Vestry Meetings (think, council meetings). The Surrey Comet carried reports concerning rumours relating to the moral conduct and demeanour of the St Mary’s vicar. Matters came to a head when the Archdeacon was asked to act on behalf of the parishioners (they wanted him out!). The Archdeacon replied that he could not see any just cause to take any action. The Archdeacon’s decision wasn’t taken lying down and a public meeting was called and representatives were voted in to make a personal deputation to the authorities.

    In 1860 matters became extremely serious when a parishioner’s wife brought a case against Mr Johnstone alleging indecent assault. The case was heard in the Queen’s Bench in front of a jury. The jury were unable to come to a decision – it seems to have been a case of ‘he said, she said’ and Mr Johnstone was discharged.

    After the Case it would appear that none of the parties – Mr Johnstone, on the one hand, and the parishioners, on the other could come to any form of rapprochement. There was only one way out and that was for Mr Johnstone to be moved on by the church authorities. Eventually an arrangement was made for a switch to be made. In September 1862, using football vernacular, Johnstone was transferred to Warehorne in Kent whist their reverend, James Burrow made the trip in the opposite direction, no ‘fee’ being disclosed. It is known that Mr Johnstone lasted three years at St Matthews in Warehorne, whether he wore out his welcome there, or passed away I am unable to ascertain.

    Next time I will report on the next two inductees, the above mentioned Reverend Burrows and his successor, Reverend Robert Digby Ram.

    The Old Historian

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