Stevens 1886-08-04


Fine and warm. Drove to Swalcliffe and buried remains of Patience Wells an excellent old woman, of 83 or 84 years of age.

Met Canon Richard Payne and Miss A and Mr Henry Norris. After the funeral I called on the latter, and he talked with me about the difficulties in which the Churchwardens find themselves with respect to the “Living?” of Swalcliffe, there being three Curates to pay, and no money coming in. He had heard from the Warden of New College who told him that the College would do no more than pay for one Curate. The agricultural depression has reduced the value of the Benefice very greatly. When Payne took it, about 1836, it was worth £400 and since that time the College has added £200 a year. Now there is only the farm at Shutford which appears to be let at a very low figure to a man who cannot or will not pay his rent, and the “Parson’s Slipe” rented by Mr Mann and for which I believe he is to pay £80 a year.

Mr Norris said he was very glad to see me, as he was in a great fix, and his health was such that he could not stand much worry. “What about Epwell and Shutford?” he asked. They have Churchwardens of their own. Will not they be responsible for providing clergymen to take the duty there? “I think not,” I said; “they will be responsible for coming to you for the money to pay the clergy, that is all. For you, having sequestrated the living, will be in the position of Vicar of the parish who has, for time out of mind, paid the Curates of those parishes out of the endowment belonging to the mother parish. Their duties will, I suppose, and so far, end there. But it is only my opinion”.

“But I value your opinion as highly as that of any man I know,” said he, “Can they compel us to have a Curate if there is no money to pay him?”

“Certainly not, your responsibilities go only so far as there is money to meet them – unless you take them upon yourself.”

“Well,” he replied. “I would rather pay the money out of my own pocket than have all this trouble about it”.

He walked down the drive with me when I left and said something from which I inferred that if I would like to accept the Living of Swalcliffe, he would ask the College to present me. But I did not rise to the bait, as I cannot afford to take less income than I have now – indeed that is not sufficient for me, but if I had Swalcliffe with £250 a year I could increase it with pupils for which the house is fairly well adapted. I walked home.

Visited Joseph Dale’s wife and paid her the Penny Bank money 2/6 given to her child by the School Trustees. The child has not been to school for several years, and in all probability will not attend again. The mother asked me for the 2/6 some time ago when I declined to give it to her.

Visited old Sarah Hone and gave her money for mutton as she said she was very bad.

Mrs Isaac Padbury called about the cottage which Webb has lived in ever since George Harris took my land and cottage. The cottage, which belongs to Mrs Padbury’s father, Thomas Stock, was held in Webb’s name – but  I gave him the rent for it every half year.

It was agreed between Mrs Padbury and myself that I should take it at £4. 10 a year on a quarterly tenancy, notice of 3 months to be given by either party, expiring on any quarter day from October 10 next. The rent to be £4. 10 per annum.