Diary of Rev Edward Stevens

1884, July 10, Thursday 

Attended Guardian’s meeting at Banbury, and in the discussion about the appointment of a Sanitary Inspector gave a brief history of the nuisance we had experienced at Sibford Gower.

Sent a hamper of fruit etc to Louie and a Box of Strawberries to Bessie.


Banbury Guardian, Thursday 17 July 1884, reporting on the Board of Guardians meeting of 10 July:


The usual fortnightly meeting of the above Board was held on Thursday. Mr. R. A. Cartwright occupied the chair, and there were also present—The Revs. W. A. Ayton and E. T. Stevens and Messrs. O. Ommanney, Colville, N. Stilgoe, W. G. Thomas. J. Carpenter, J. Luckett, E. Messinger, H. Horwood, A. Hobley, W. T. Warner, J. Wady, J. H. Douglas, J. Shepherd, G. Macklin, G. H. Hall, R. Gardner, J. W. Page, F. Fox, J. J. Chard, R. Gibbs, E. Wayte, R. Falkner, G. E. B. Fry, E. L. Fisher, P. W. Macgreal, J. Pettipher, G. Wyatt, J. Barett, and Wilks.


The out-relief cases were as follows :—Banbury, 23; Bloxham, 10; Swalcliffe, 6;  Cropredy, 7.


Mr. OMMANNEY rose and said that, us they knew, there was a very important committee appointed by the Board in the School Attendance Committee, and its duties were not only onerous but very unpleasant. Mr. Shepherd and Mr. Hall could bear him out when he said what a vast amount of time and trouble it took every gentleman who attended, and he thought they did their duty well and stuck to their work well. With such a large Board as this, it was to he expected that the outside public were generally prepared to cavil if the Board did not do their Work properly; but he must confess he had never hardly seen anything with more regret than the observations made by the head of the Education Department on his recent visit to Banbury. He thought that no man ought to have made such observations without being fully satisfied of their accuracy. Mr. Mundella said—“To-day they were in possession in that town of excellent elementary schools, and he knew, from the department over which he presided, that they had an excellent average attendance. The School Attendance Committee of the borough did its work very well. (He was going to lunch with them afterwards—a laugh). It could be done better, and no doubt it would in future. If parents would only cooperate with the School Attendance Committee and teachers, there would no doubt be a good attendance at the schools in this borough. He wished he could say rune for the urban part of Banbury as he could for the borough. He should like to remind them of the great importance of this matter, and if there was any member of the School Attendance Committee of the Banbury Union present, he hoped they would allow him to give them a hint, and kindly take it. They had the teachers, they had the expenditure going on, there was a voluntary effort, the clergy were making great sacrifices to maintain the schools, and it was deplorable that the children were not there, and he trusted that whatever could be done to amend this would he done by the School Attendance Committee of the neighbourhood.” He (Mr. Ommanney maintained that the head of the Education Department had no right to come forward publicly and make such an accusation against the committee with due inquiry. He maintained that the statement was wholly unfounded as regarded the committee ; and he considered that it was the duty of the head of a public department or his officials if they had any fault to find with the way in which the committee did its work to have brought the subject before the Board of Guardians, and then it would have been remedied. The circumstances of Banbury, he went on to say, were totally different from the rural part of the union. ’They had got the thing in their own hands, they had their own Magistrates, who sent a man to prison the other day because he would not send his child to school. The School Attendance Committee of the union was subject to different influences altogether, and if the thing had not worked well it was not the fault of the committee. He saw a case in which forty attendances had been made out of eighty, and when it came before the Magistrates it was simply adjournced, and he should like to know why these adjournments were made. It was not the fault of the union that there was not the proper Working of the Act, and he thought that Mr. Mundella should have made a little further inquiry before he made such a statement as he (Mr. Ommanney, had referred to. He was only sorry he did not happen to he at that meeting; if he had there would have been a little row—(a laugh). He then moved a resolution, stating that the Board was satisfied with the efforts made by the School Attendance Committee to carry out their duties, and that their non-success was owing to extraneous circumstances over which the Board or the committee had no control ; and he should also move that a copy the resolution be sent to the Eductaion Department.

The CLERK—You wish to send it to Mr. Mundella.

Mr. OMMANNEY—Yes, and I will take care that he has a copy of the newspaper. In reply to a question, Mr. Ommanney said he did not think it would be wise to say in the resolution that it was owing to the action of the Magistrates—(a laugh). There was also that case at Chipping Norton, where the Magistrates decided that a boy should attend school directly in opposition to Mr. Mundella’s instructions. This speech of Mr. Mundella’s had been circulated all over the county through the newspapcrs, all the ratepayers had seen it, and he thought they should take some action in the matter.

The Rev. W. A. AYTON—I quite agree with what. Mr Ommanney has said on this point, and I beg leave to second the resolution.

The Rev. E. T. STEVENS said that as one of the School Attendance Committee he could not very well vote against Mr. Ommanney’s resolution, which he thought was a very important one. It had gone forth over the whole neighbourhood by means of the local papers that the attendance of the children in the rural part of the union was far worse than in the town. As a member of the School Attendance Committee he felt that in the rural part of the district the attendance would bear most favourable comparison with the attendance of the children in the town. When he read the report of Mr. Mundella’s speech, he was very much surprised at seeing such a mis-statement, if the inference was that the attendance of children in the country parishes was worse than the attendance of children in the town.

Mr. WARNER said that he intended to have brought the matter up. He was glad to hear Mr. Mundella make such a statement about the School Attendance Committee in the borough, and he expected he would say the same thing about the county, but when he heard his observations about their School Attendance Committee he felt somewhat crestfallen. He (Mr. Warner) had intended to ask for an explanation if Mr. Ommannney had not brought up the subject, and he had much pleasure in supporting the resolution.

The CHAIRMAN said he was a member of the School Attendance Committee, and although he had not been able to attend lately, he could say that Neithrop, which was a portion of Banbury, caused greater difficulty than any other place so far as attendance was concerned. He thought, generally speaking, that the members of the Attendance Committee did their best to carry out the law, and no blame could be attached to them.

Mr. SHEPHERD said he was present at the time Mr. Mundella made the statement, and certainly he felt very much inclined to put him right in the matter, and should have done so but he did not wish to do anything which might look like disturbing the meeting. He felt that it he interfered in the orderly proceedings, he might have been called into question as a brawler, but he did feel very much inclined to get up and put Mr. Mundella right on the point. He quite agreed with the remarks which had been made with reference to the School Attendance Committee, and it was because the Magistrates did not carry out the recommendations of the Committee that he ceased to be a member of the Committee. It seemed to him to be a mere waste of time for gentlemen to come there and consider the cases, and when they picked out ten or a dozen of the very worst cases for prosecution, the Magistrates stultified their efforts by simply adjourning them. He quite approved of what Mr. Ommanney had said, and he thought the least they could do was to put Mr. Mundella right on the matter. The Committee should certainly not lie under the blame.

Mr. GIBBS said he thought there might be a little explanation of the matter. He remembered that at a meeting a letter was read from Mr. Ernest Samuelson with respect to the attendance at the Cherwell British School, and it caused some little discussion. Mr. Loveday was chairman when the matter was discussed. He fancied that that was the school Mr. Mundella was principally alluding to.

Mr. SHEPHERD—He made a charge against the School
Attendance Committee.

Mr. CHARD—I thought he was referring to the non-corporate part of the borough.

The resolution was carried, as was also a motion to the effect that a copy of the resolution be sent to Mr. Mundella.

Mr. FALKNER—–Let him come down here and find it out—(a laugh).


The CLERK having read the minutes of the last meeting of the Sanitary Authority, some difference of opinion was expressed as to the correctness of the figures he gave as to the motion for the appointment of the inspector, and Mr. Messinger remarked that there were 14 against it and 12 for it, and Mr. Fox said that he did not think the motion should he considered carried as it was such a small Board last week.

Mr. WYATT said he should like to ask whether the Chairman had a right to two votes—(a laugh).

The CHAIRMAN—Yes, a vote and a casting vote.

Mr. WYATT—I have been told you have no right to two votes—(laughter).

Mr. WARNER (to the Clerk)—What is your authority that the Chairman has two votes?

The CLERK—’I‘he Local Government Board.

Mr. OMMANNEY—It is in the rules.

Mr. WARNER—Some authorities go the other way.

Mr. WAYTE rose and said he considered it was scandalous to waste time in this manner—[hear, hear)—and he suggested tl1at they should get to business. … were people there who had business to, do although others had not.

Mr. WANRNER made an observation, evidently replying to Mr. Wayte, but it did not reach the reporter owing to the interruption prevailing in the room.

The CLERK then proceeded to read a letter from the Local Government Board, which stated that they would agree to pay half of the salary of £130, and

The Rev. E. T. STEVENS then moved that an inspector be appointed at £130 a year, and that they advertise in the two local papers and in two London papers. He did not think they should he limited to this particular neighbourhood, or that they should have an officer

Who had relations by the dozen
And uncles, aunts, sisters, and cousins

—(laughter). It was very important that the officer appointed should be a qualified man, a man who had some experience of the work, one who could present a certificate, or undertake to go up and pass the examination of the Sanitary Institute in London, a letter on which subject was read by the Clerk at the last meeting. They had men at them again and again, but it should be understood that they were not going to be pestered by a lot of applications and testimonials which were perfectly useless—testimonials of such a kind as they had heard of in that room a week or two ago—testimonials which were given to men irrespective of! their qualifications for this particular office. He thought they should proceed to appoint as quickly as possible, and that they should appoint a sub-committee to go through the applications and make a report the Board. As showing the necessity of proceeding as quickly as possible, he said that that very week he had been appealed to by a widow lady in his parish who had suffered from a terrible nuisance near her premises and one which was likely to be injurious to health. There was no sanitary officer to appeal to, and acting on advice he appealed to the Medical Officer of Health on Thursday and be came over on the Saturday. In the meantime, the lady, acting on the advice of her friends, took the law into her own hands, entered the premises, and found the cause of the nuisance to he theputrid remains of a cow which had been left there some weeks before to feed pigs. The pigs had been removed, and a large portion of the carcass was allowed to swelter in the sun, to the danger of the whole neighbourhood. There was no one to appeal to, the man had certainly committed a nuisance, and he got off Scot free—

Mr. FOX—You got the Medical Officer.

Mr. STEVENS—But it is not the Mediacl Officer’s business. Mr. Franey very kindly came over when I asked him, but he said it was not his business, and that if there was any repetition of it he would have to make some charge for his services. I don’t know whether he intends to send in a bill for attending. The lady entered the premises from which the remains were removed and buried in chloride of lime.

Mr. FOX—Perhaps she would. come as sanitary inspector—(a laugh).

Mr. STEVENS said that it was quite as important to keep the people in their union in a good state of health and strength as it was to give them food and raiment when they needed it. This question affected the whole community, and if they had an epidemic in their midst it would travel with giant strides.

Some conversation took place as to the papers in which the advertisement should appear, and, Mr. Stevens said he thought the two local papers, the Builder, and the Sanitary Record, were sufficient, which was agreed to.

Mr. WAYTE, as showing the necessity for a sanitary officer, said he knew a cottage in which there seven children, and a man and his wife, and they all slept in one room, the eldest girl being fifteen years of age.

The Rev. W. A. AYTON said that had also received complaints at Chacombe about the want of a sanitary officer.

Mr. STEVENS pointed out the necessity of having a committee to go through the testimonials. They could never do it with the whole Board, it would take them a day.

Mr. MESSINGER objected to the thing being … committee—(hear, hear).

Mr. OMMANNEY proposed, and Mr. STEVENS seconded that a committee of ten be appointed … through the applications; while Mr. MESSINGER proposed, and Mr. HALL seconded, that the whole board should perform this duty. The proposal for a committeeee was carried by 15 against 11. It was … the applications must be sent in by Tuesday …

The meeting then separated.

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Read about the Rev Edward Stevens here.