Some Account of the Rev. Charles Allen, Rector of St. Anne, Sutton Bonington, 1755-1795.
By Rev. W. E. Buckland, M.A. Rector of St. Anne's.
THE "Common Place Book" of this priest living in the second half of the 18th century, which is the property of Mr. Edward Hall, of 134, Park Grove, Barnsley, throws a light on the state of the church in the villages and the life of a country parson at that time. It is bound in vellum, a little under quarto size, written from both ends, and records many of his cash receipts and payments, memoranda and doings at the beginning, and verses in English and Latin, and recipes at the end.
English verses to Martin Gutteridge at Thorpe, dated 1740, signed by him and verses to "Mr. Charles Allen, Curate of Loughborough," show that he was then in orders and must have been born about 1717. On June 22nd, 1743, he married the widow of R. Bakewell, a solicitor at Loughborough, whom she had married on October 20th, 1731, and who died in July, 1737, leaving an only son Robin, and was buried at Swepston on August 3rd, 1737, at the cost of £44 0s. Od. Bakewell owned two farms at Swepston, one of 133 acres, 1 rood, 21 poles, let at £90 0s. 0d., the other let at £74, which with some other assets were left in trust for Robin, subject to an annuity of £40 0s. 0d. to his widow. Robin was finally articled at a premium of £200 to Saul Harris, attorney in Castle Yard, Holborn. During his minority the estate brought in £2,499 9s. 0d. with expenses £1,787 4s. 5½d., leaving balance with interest £1,049 11s. 0½d. By his wife Allen had a son Charles, born in 1747, and a younger daughter Nanny.
Allen and his wife had a good social position. He was a friend of Sir Thomas Parkyns, 3rd Baronet, of Bunny, and visited Mrs. Herrick of Beaumanor and at Kedleston and stayed at Buxton at "Hodgeson's" and "the White Hart," where the visitors included the Archbishop of Tuam, three peers and a family with "coach and six." At Leicester he was a member of the Card Assembly. He kept a horse and a man and a maid, which were changed at least once a year. He rode everywhere but mentions no carriage for his wife. He gives a list of nineteen horses, bought at prices varying from £5 5s. Od. to £14 14s. 0d., and sold at a total loss of £23 1s. 6d. "One eat ewes and died." "N.B. I generally lose on expensive horses." He weighed 12 stone, 13 pounds. The man and the maid were paid £2 10s. 0d. to £4 10s. 0d. a year. He seems to have had some private means as he enters interest received and loans made, one of £360 to a Miss Clarke, but he often borrowed £10 or £20 from Mr. Pare, his solicitor.
Allen was a well educated man and knew Latin and Greek. There are copies of English verses by himself and others and of good Alcaic and Elegiac Latin Verses by Bartin Gutteridge, "in obitum Eliz. : Close," and "Gilberto Suo." He was member of a Book Club which circulated in the villages round Loughborough such works as Butler's "Analogy," "Julian," "Life of Homer," Horace "Ars Poetica," Pliny's Letters; Voltaire's "Letters on the English nation," the lives of Colley Cibber and Nell Gwyn, Fielding's " Amelia," and "Peregrine Pickle."
Allen was a sporting parson. "Went to Derby races," "The hounds at Sutton: dined with me," "At Lester fair," "Went to hunt," "Went a coursing," "Went to Beaumanor to go a stag-hunting." At races he betted a little in shillings. His gun cost £2 5s. 0d. and he records a meagre shoot at Sutton in August (!) of partridges with a hare and quails. He played cards for money. In the Card Assembly at Leicester he won "Eight pounds which covered all expenses." "Went to Kedleston. Won all expenses and a pound over." "Dick Weston did not pay me the crowns I won of him in the Card Assembly, £l 10s. 0d." "Went to Upingham Race with Will Herrick. Dined at the ordinary with the Earl of Exeter, Gainsborough, Lord G. Manners, Mr. Noel, etc. Minuets danced by Lady Cullen, 4 Miss Noels, Miss Cockeir, Miss Roberts, etc." "Dined at King's Mill with a fishing party." He farmed, buying and selling cows, sheep and pigs, and entered recipes for the ailments of men, horses and dogs.
In 1748, residing at Loughborough, he served Quorn and Woodhouse as Curate, receiving £5 3s. 4d. for six months. In this year Sir Thomas Parkyns gave him the benefice of Thorpe-in-the-Glebe. Thoroton wrote of it, 1677, "There is not a house inhabited," and "a shepherd kept ale to sell in the Church." Throsby added "The Church is about to meet its complete annihilation." The income was a modus of £10 0s. 0d. a year paid by Sir Thomas Parkyns. He was instituted at Nottingham on May 15th, 1748, and held that sinecure till he died. In 1925, Church, plate, registers and modus are gone and Thorpe is worked by the Vicar of Wysall.
In 1750, Henry Hascard, Rector of St. Michael's, Sutton Bonington, died and Edward Whitley, a member of an important family at Merriott and Vicar of Merriott, 1768-1775, was instituted on August 5th. Allen visited Whitley at Merriott, was appointed Curate of St. Michael's, moved into the Rectory on May 28th and bought more furniture at "the Anchor." His stipend was £30 0s. 0d. a year with the Rectory and "The Glebe and Churchyard for nothing, which are usually reckoned at per annum £3 5s. 0d., and the surplus fees." While there he received the tithe for Mr. Whitley £123 0s. 0d. a year with Easter dues £l 12s. Od, modus 14s. and 3s. 4d. and served Gotham for thirteen Sundays for £6 16s. 6d.
In August, 1753, Whitley decided to reside and Allen moved to Mancettur, near Atherstone, where he served Mancettur, Sheepy and Ratby. In 1754 "Charles entered at Atherstone School under Mr. Biddle." But in July, 1754, he moved to Norton-by-Twycross near Atherstone and in July, 1755, he moved to Leicester, where no doubt he served some church not mentioned.
On August 6th, 1755, Richard Wenman, Rector of St. Anne's, Sutton Bonington, died. It must have been known that Wenman was dying and Allen's "good friends, Sir Thomas Parkyns and Mr. Farmer," had already applied to the Patron, the Lord Chancellor, and got his promise to present him, for on August 12th, 1755, Allen went to London and paid to "Thomas Berry Esqre., private secretary to the Lord High Chancellor," fees for Presentation £16 14s. 0d. and travelling expenses £3 7s. Od. Then on August 31st he went to Bishopsthorpe for Institution by the Archbishop of York and paid fees £1 9s. 0d. and expenses of
Journey and Induction treat £3 5s. 7d. Total £30 15s. 10d. Starting on Sunday night on horseback he lay at Loughborough, 1s. : Monday at Rufford 3s. 6d. : Tuesday at Ferrybridge 5s. 10d. : and reached Bishopsthorpe on Wednesday at noon, 107 miles. Wednesday night at York 6s. That evening he went to a "Consort " in the Long Room. He left on Thursday at 4 p.m. Thursday night at Ferrybridge 4s., Friday at Palethorpe 3s., Sutton on Saturday. "Preached in my Church on Sunday;" was inducted on Monday, "Mr. Buttery, Mr. Bird, Mr. Topham (Curate of Leke), Mr. Hastings and self dine at my Parsonage House," "Induction Feast at Loughborough 7s. 6d."
"Then he had to get a Dispensation to hold Thorpe with St. Annes which cost him £29 4 0. On Oct. 7th. took ye oaths at ye Sessions and subscribed with a parcel of new justices."
Wenman had resided in the Rectory. So on November 14th he settled with his widow, "She to receive her proportion of rent from Lady-day to ye 6th of August, the day of her husband's decease, after ye rate of £48 per ann and to have allowed me for Dilapidations Twenty pounds," and in April, 1757 he finally settled accounts with her : thus
|"To a year and a half rent of New Tenant||£40||10||0|
|To Corn-tithe of eight yards-lands and a|
|To a year's rent of tithe due||31||0||0 "|
But in July, 1756, he spent £53 9s. 3d. in "Altering ye Parsonage" and being resident at Leicester paid Mr. Whitley "to take care of my church at 5 shil per Sunday." He then estimated whether he should live in a Boarding House at Leicester at the cost of £72 0s. 0d. per annum or reside at St. Anne's at the cost of £50 0s. 0d.
and decided on the latter, for he moved from Leicester, fetched Charles "behind me" from Atherstone School and in October, 1756" Began to preach for Mr. Whitley at St. Michael's, Oct. 9, to have ten shillings per Sunday. At Ratcliffe and Kingston, November 20th to have after ye rate of £15 per annum." Mr. Whitley was then non-resident, as was "Old Pointon" of Ratcliffe and Kingston, and Allen was serving St. Anne's, St. Michael's, Ratcliffe and Kingston and holding the sinecure of Thorpe-in-the-Glebe. No doubt, however, the populations were very small, that of St. Anne's being about one hundred.
In 1759 this restless man was again on the move. Having sent his wife to her sister's lodgings at Loughborough, Nanny to a boarding school at Leicester and Charles to an uncle at Harborough, he moved into lodgings at Leicester paying 7s. 6d. a week and in October took "a house" at Leicester at £6 10s. 0d. a year. There on "April 13, 1760, Began with Stoughton and Thurnby," receiving from Mr. Matthews, the Incumbent, £30 0s. 0d. a year. But "Toby Matthews" died. So he took on Scraptoff and Feb. 2, 1768 "Recd, for serving Scraptoff till the 30th of November £21 0s. Od." In 1768 he "Began with Enderby at New Michaelmas," and "Began with Branston at Old Michaelmas."
As for St. Anne's, Mr. Whitley having returned to St. Michael's, Allen paid him £13 0s. 0d. a year to serve his church. In 1766 he paid Mr. Topham, Curate of Leke, "for serving my Cure till New Year's Day, 1767" and on March 8th "for serving my Curacy, £2 10s. 0d." In 1768 Mr. Whitley became Vicar of Merriott and he and Allen paid Mr. Whistler and other curates whose names occur in the registers of both Churches : "1770,
Mr. Whistler begins with my Church at Sutton on Sunday July 22, 1770 to have £15 per ann and Surplis Fees. Topham's last sermon ye 1st of July wh, ought to have been ye Sunday before, viz., 24th of June."
The "Common Place Book" ends here, being full up, but he held St. Anne's and Thorpe-in-the-Glebe till 1795, having resided only three years, 1756-1759. His signature does not occur later in the registers and he was not buried here, so, no doubt, he continued to enjoy himself at Leicester, to serve the churches of other nonresident incumbents and to leave his own to the care of a poor curate, to whom he paid £15 0s. 0d. a year, which Mr. Whitley made up to £30 0s. 0d. to serve St. Michael's.
The only other trace of him is a Terrier written in his clear legible hand in the Hardwick Marriage Register, dated 7th June, 1764. This Terrier shows that the Glebe consisted of about 120 strips, none exceeding one acre, amounting to about fifty acres, scattered all over the Parish, as was usual under the tenure of land prior to the Enclosure Awards. The strips were in the "Mid sumer Ground," the "Meadow Ground," "The Neatherfield," "The Rundle Field," and "The Standard Field." The common rights were "One Inmate and a Croft containing about half an acre of land, Twelve Beave Pastures, Six Horse Comons, four Score and ten Sheep Comons, the Tythe of fifteen Yardlands and an half and four acres lying in the Liberties of Sutton." As his glebe consisted of fifty acres in 120 scattered pieces and his tithe was collected in kind from 15½ yard lands, bundles of thirty scattered strips of an acre each, finances must have been complicated. The Terrier also gives the Glebe Buildings and the Parsonage House in detail and particulars about the Church and Churchyard.
There are many interesting entries which illustrate life in the 18th century, of which I give a few. 1770, "My daughter Nanny inoculated by Mr. Holbrook. God send her good success." "The inoculation repeated in both arms on ye 18th. Neither of wh. had any effect." "Charles to Dr. Smith at Coventry for his eyes." "Mem. Promised my Wife, please God she should die first, yt. nobody shall ever wear her Close but her little girl." "R. B. came from London to Sutton, Mastr. B. vy affronted." "Recd. of Brother Allsop in right of my Wife £100 0 0." "Recd. of J. Kirkland half a year's Income of Wife's annuity due at Lady-day, £20 0 0." "Made an end of Brother John by selling him my House at Thurcarton; and recd. of him a Bond for £70 and an acquittance for £20 being a legacy intended for him by my Father, in all £90 0 0." "My living of St. Ann's, Sutton, upon Searching ye Office of Firstfruits was discharged." "1751. Sent the newspapers first to Sutton." "ye News ye first week in ye month." "Bought Pope's works 10 Vol, 16/-. Pope's Iliad, 4 Vols. 7/9. Gulliver's Travels, 1/-." "Pictures at Dunington Park. A Harry ye 8th. aged abt. 35. I daresay by Hans Holbein: he drawing ye King's pictures several times. See Walpole's Anecdotes." 1767. "List of Officers in the Esperance prisoners at Leicester." "Coins put in my drawer: 12 Six and Thirtys. Fifteen Guineas. One Seven and Twenty." "Charles's Board at Atherstone, 6 months £5 2 0." "A wig & year's shaving £1 6 0." "Charles Wig 8/6" Mowers were paid 1/6 a day. Labourers 1/-. Tea cost 10/- a lb. Coal 5¾d. a cwt. Wheat 6/8 and 4/6 a quarter: Oats 1/4 a strike: Hay £1 10s. 0d. a ton.
The scandal of non-residence was stopped by the Pluralites Act (1 and 2 Vict: ch. 106, Sec 80). The effect on Church life must have been deadening. During the forty years he was Rector he resided only three and during those three he served four churches, riding from place to place and taking one service at each at different hours. During the years 1756-1760 he took five marriages and one in 1762. The rest to 1795 were taken by Edward Whitley, Rector of St. Michael's, John Topham, Curate of Leke, and Webster Whistler, Henry Bynes, Charles Allsopp, Julius Hutchinson, and W. Quinton Wild, Curates in charge of St. Anne's and St. Michael's at a stipend of £30 per annum. The Registers of Baptism and Burial at that time were not signed; in them Allen's writing occurs 1756-1760 and no more. The populations were no doubt very small. During Allen's forty years there were 141 Baptisms, forty-two Marriages, and ninety-one Burials. Signatures in the Marriage Register show that thirty-three per cent of the people could not write their names, though the Church of England Schools had been built and endowed in 1718. The old Church Book of St. Michael's shows that Holy Communion was only celebrated at Easter and Christmas and very little spent on the maintenance of the Church and the Services. With Rectors non-resident, Curates underpaid, Churches un-repaired, unwarmed and unlighted, Services ill-provided, populations small and illiterate, Church Life must have been practically moribund. Good Christians craved for more and Nonconformity began to live and grow and build Chapels. Indeed if the Church had not been Divine, Church Life in the 18th century must have died.