Vestry, 1865

Church rates were a controversial issue in the 1860s until their abolition in 1868. They were entirely for the purpose of maintaining Church of England buildings but all parishioners including Nonconformists had to pay them. The Bucks Herald was a pro-Anglican, Conservative paper, but the Bicester Herald and even more the Oxon Telegraph were pro-Nonconformist and Liberal. The "poetical scribe" was probably Silvanus Jones.

Bucks Herald, 23 Sep

  CHURCH-RATE.- On the 14th inst., a meeting of the rate-payers was convened at the vestry room, pursuant to notice, for the purpose of considering the desirability of making and raising a church-rate at 2d. in the pound.  The Rev. A. M. Preston, the vicar, occupied the chair; and there were present also, the Rev. J. W. Hanson, curate; W. Selby Lowndes, Esq.; D. T. Willis, Esq.; Messrs. T. P. Willis, Johnson, Monk, Rand, Woodward, Jas. King, Wigley, G. Mayne, C. Mayne, Elliott, J. S. T. Wynter, J. L. French, &c.  Mr. G. Mayne, churchwarden, proposed, and Mr. John Smith seconded, that a rate of 2d. in the pound be made, and Mr. Wm. Johnson moved as an amendment, that no church-rate whatever be levied, which was seconded by Mr. Monk.  Mr. Elliott protested against any rate being imposed.  Upon a show of hands, there were for the amendment 38, which left a minority in favour of the rate.  Mr. James King demanded a poll of the parish, which was seconded by Mr. J. S. T. Wynter.  The poll was opened at one p.m. on the same day, and continued until seven p.m.  It was resumed on Friday at ten a.m., and closed at seven p.m., when there appeared for the rate, 30; against, 90.

Bicester Herald, 22 Sep

 The Bicester Herald printed the above report and also the following "from another Correspondent".

  On Thursday, the 14th instant, a vestry meeting of the ratepayers of Winslow, convened by notice given by the churchwardens was held in the parish church, for the purpose of making a church rate at 2d. in the pound.
  The Rev. A. M. Preston, vicar, in the chair.
  Mr. George Mayne, churchwarden, proposed the rate, seconded by his brother officer, Mr. Charles Mayne. 
  Mr. Johnson then moved an amendment, that no rate be allowed, seconded by Mr. Henry Monk.
  The amendment was then put by the chairman, when, by a show of hands, there appeared in favour of it 38.  The original motion for the rate was then submitted, when 8 only supported it.
  Mr. James King, seconded by Mr. Alfred Barton, then demanded a poll, which commenced at one o’clock the same day, the vicar sitting in the vestry to receive the votes till seven that evening; the poll was opened the following morning at ten o’clock, and closed at seven in the evening, when the members stood 36 for a rate, and 93 against.
  So much for the struggle on church rates in Winslow.  The more quiet churchmen of the parish were decidedly opposed to the attempt being made to impose a rate, while the fiery ruperts of their party were only happy to cry “havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.”

Oxfordshire Telegraph, 20 Sep

  A poll on the Church Rate question has been taken at Winslow.  The result is against a rate.  A poetical scribe commemorates the event by the following verses:

“We’ve lick’d them clean and handsome,
  And fought the battle out,
With three to one majority,
  We’ve put them to the rout.

By show of hands we beat them,
  Then by the King’s control,
We met them on a broader field,
  And thrash’d them at the poll.

Two parsons in the strife appear’d
  To give the Rate their aid,
Perhaps they thought a Parson’s frown,
  Might make us all afraid.

Let those who love Old Mother Church,
  Their free-will offerings make,
But Jacks in office shall no more
  By law our pennies take.

Hurrah for Winslow ! let her name
  Stand high in freedom’s cause,
And may she ever boldly stem
  Injustice and bad laws.

Now to a grave five fathoms deep,
  Let Church-Rates be consign’d,
And never more the hated theme
  Distrust the public mind.”

“Winslow, Sept. 18th, 1865.”

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Copyright 31 May, 2020