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Saturday May 12th, Samuel Charles Whitbread, Esq., M.P., in the unavoidable absence of lord John Russell, M.P., in the chair. John Wilkes, Esq., one of the secretaries, in a most eloquent and forcible speech, gave a detail of the proceedings of the committee during the past year; from which it appeared that their interference had been highly useful and successful in a variety of cases, in which the rights of Protestant Dissenters had been infringed. Several recent instances were related of attempts to assess places of worship to the support of the poor, the church rate, and the house and window tax. Demands of mortuary fees, Easter dues, tolls on going to chapel, and the ballotting ministers for the militia, were also stated, and properly commented on; as was the punishment in several cases of persons disturbing congregations of Dissenters, in the exercise of their worship, in places regularly certified according to law. Statements were then made of the illegal conduct of a clergyman in Devonshire, and another in Wilts, in declining to read the service of the church over the bodies of those who had not received the rite of baptism from episcopalian hands; and especially of the refusal of a vicar, in the county of Huntingdon, to anarry a couple, because the bridegroom, being the son of a Baptist Dissenter, had never been baptized; with the applications to their several bishops, and the apologies' which the clergymen had been compelled to make. Wishes were also expressed, that by the burial of Dissenters in their own cemeteries, they would diminish the vexations which so many clergymen continued to exert; and among these, the prohibition of a Berkshire vicar of the tolling of the parish bell at the funeral of the wife of a Dissenting minister, was particularly noticed. Amongst the resolutions unanimously passed by the meeting were the two following: “That this meeting deeply regret the continued aggressions of the clergy of the Establish: d church ou Protestant Dissenters, by renewing their refusals to read the burial service over their dead, and to celebrate their marriages, and by sanctioning many proceedings hostile, not only to their useful labours, but even to the toleration they are entitled to enjoy: but that they cheerfully acknowledge the courteous conduct of the bishops of Salisbury and Lincoln, who, at the request of the committee, interfered to restrain some clerical aggressions of which they complained.”—“That, regarding Henry Brougham, Esq., M.P., as an eloquent, benevolent, and enlightened friend to civil and religious freedom, and obliged by his exertions to correct the abuse of educational charities, this ineeting deplore that a bill should have been introduced by birn to Parliament, as to the education of the poor, that would injuriously increase the power of the Established church, and largely to the load of the public burdens, augment the degradation and evils of which Dissenters complain, and lessen that general, extending, and beneficent instruction, which honourable zeal, and Christian philanthropy, abundantly supply; and that the comunittee for the ensuing year be directed strenuously to oppose the progress of the measure whenever revived.”
Continental Society.--This society held its third anniversary meeting at Freemasons' llall, on May 16th, sir Thomas Baring, Bart., president, in the chair. The report stated, that notwithstanding the smallness of its funds at home, and the prejudices with which it had to contend abroad, the society had various agents in its employ. Two of these are stationed at Paris, one of whom (M. Mejanel) was present at this meeting; two in the neighbourhood of Orleans; one on the bauks of the Rhine; another in the Pays de Vaud; others near Amiens, in the valleys of Piedmont, in the vicinity of Noireau, Valenciennes, and Normain, with all whom they hold correspondence, and who are actively employed in the manner above stated, It is added, that the expenses of last year amounted to nearly £1000. ;
whereas the stated subscriptions did not exceed £200. The rest had been made up by donations. The auniversary sermon was preached on the preceding evening at Blackfriars' Church, by the Rev. W. Marsh, of Colchester.
Buptist Missionary Society - The public services connected with the twenty-ninth anniversary of this institution, commenced on Wednesday, the 20th of June, when the Rev. S. Crisp, of Bristol, preached at Great Queen Street Chapel, and the Rev. Joseph Ivimey at Sion Chapel. On the following day the meeting for business was held at Spa Fields Chapel, Joseph Guttridge, Esq., in the chair. From the statement of accounts, it appeared that the receipts of the society had amounted to more than £13,000., being considerably more than was received in any former year; but that the payments having been upwards of £17,000. there was a balance of about £3,500. due from the society. The collection at this and the other services connected with the society, amounted to nearly £400., exceeding what had ever been received at any previous anniversary. Port of London Society.—July 19, the day of the coronation, the
Port of London Society, and the Bethel Union Society, met on board the Floating Chapel on the Thames, to implore the blessing of Almighty God upon the monarch of these realms, then ratifying, in the solemn act of coronation, the compact made with his people. The assembly was composed of many seamen, masters of ships and their families, with many persons from the shore. At the commencement of the service, a letter from Leith was read, stating that the seamen of that port would assemble, at the same time, on board their Floating Chapel, for the same purpose. The Rev. Mr. Angas commenced with prayer, and the 100th Psalm being sung, the most comprehensive prayer by King Solomon at the dedication of the Temple was read in a very impressive manner.
The Rev. G. Smith followed in prayer. The treasurer of the Port of London Society then read a letter from New York, stating the encouraging progress of the work of God anong seamen at that port; and that, on the Sabbath preceding the date of the letter, the Mariners' Church, which would hold upwards of 1000 people, was crowded. It further stated, that ministers of all denominations, who preached Jesus Christ, and him crucified, as the only way of salvation, willingly gave their services to the people, and merged all minor differences of sentiment in the great purpose of urging sinners to flee from the wrath to come. The Rev. Č. Hyatt then read the 67th Psalm; and the Rev. Mr. Jeffreys, missionary to the Island of Madagascar; lieutenant Nicholls, R. N., secretary of the Bethel Union Society; and captain Simpson, of the Juno, (on board of which ship the first prayer meeting for sailors was held on the River Thames,) engaged in prayer.
Church of Englund Tract Society.-By the report of this society, it appears that several new tracts have been published during the past year, and that the whole number of tracts distributed during that period are as follows: Sold
95,407 Distributed gratis...
160 14 6
In the Report it is also stated, that, by one of the society's tracts, persons were awakened to serious attention.”
Street Preaching.–Tue KING, ON THE PROSECUTION OF SAMUEL NewTON, against SAMUEL Waller.—This was an indictment against Samuel Waller, a respectable cotton-spinner at Manchester, and a lay-preacher amongst the primitive Methodists; and the indictment charged, that he, the said Samuel Waller, on the 17th June last, in a certain public street and king's highway, in the parish of Ashton-under-Lyne, did unlawfully and injuriously cause and procure a great number of persons, to the number of 200 or more, to assemble together, and did, for a long space of time, to wit, for the space of two hours, obstruct the said public street, to the great damage and common nuisance of the liege subjects of our lord the king, and against the peace of our said lord the king, his crown, and dignity. The second count charged the defendant, with divers other persons, to the jurors unknown, with making a great noise, riot, tumult, and disturbance. The third count charged the like riot, &c. to be by shouting and singing, and wholly choking up and obstructing the street and highway.
The trial of this indictment came on at the Midsummer Quarter Sessions for the county of Lancaster, held by adjournment for the hundred of Salford, at the Sessions-house, Salford, adjoining Manchester, on Monday the 230 of July, before the Rev. W. R. Hay, clerk, vicar of Rochdale, Lancashire, and rector of Ackworth, in the county of York, chairman of the Court of Quarter Sessions for this hundred ; James Norris, Esq, barrister at law, stipendiary inagistrate of the town of Manchester and Salford; and Ralph Wright, Esq. Thomas Starkie, Esq. appeared as counsel for the prosecution; and Philip Courtenay, Esq. and James Baldwin Brown, Esq., L.L.D. for the defendant. The court was crowded by some of the most respectable inhabitants of Manchester, especially amongst the various denominations of Dissenters, several of whose ministers were also present.
Mr. Starkie stated the case to the jury, and gave the substance of the indictment as above. The defendant, he informed them, and persons of his class, had been in the habit, for some time past, of visiting Ashton-underLyne, and there holding forth in the public streets, to the great annoyance of the inhabitants of the town. On the day mentioned in the indictment, Mr. Newton, the constable of Ashton, finding the defendant (who was what is called a Ranter) roaring and making a great noise within about 20 yards of the church-door, approached him, cautioned hiin of the illegality of his proceedings, and ordered him to desist. This he refused, saying, Christ and his disciples did so, and he had a right to do it: that he was a licensed preacher, and considered it his duty to continue the service.“ Now,” said Mr. Starkie, if any one will produce me a text from Scripture to support this practice, though it will not alter the law of the case, I will consent to an acquittal.” The defendant, in consequence of his obstinate perseverance, was summoned to appear at Oldham, where he accordingly attended before the magistrates, on Thursday the 21st, and when bound over to take his trial at the present sessions, he refused to pay the expense of the recoguizances. Thus he was made of opposition stuff throughout; but his (Mr. Starkie's) advice was, that if, in any future case, persons situated as the defendant was, refused to pay those fees to the magistrates' clerk, that he was authorized, by act of parliament, to demand, they should be left to draw their own recognizances themselves. Certainly the clerk was not called on to afford thein the facilities of pen, ink, and paper, or to give bis labour, and it was at their own peril if they drew their own recognizances wrong. The defendant in the present case stood upon his right, but though he would have the very able assistance of two of his learned friends who appeared for him, and who, as his counsel, would, he was sure, do every thing that could be done, he hoped the verdict of the jury. would be such as to convince him that neither he nor any other person, not even a minister of the church of England, if it were allowable to conceive that a clergyman could ever so far forget his duty, had a right to obstruct the public highway, ranting and roaring to the common nuisance of his Majesty's subjects, on pretence that he thought it his duty to do so. With respect to the law of the case, it was not a little reinarkable, that it had been decided in that very court, nearly a century ago, and he had a record of it, with which he should shortly trouble the court and the jury. It was a narrative of the life of John Murlin, wherein it was stated, that, " at Oldham, about seven miles from Manchester, (a place famous for daring and desperate wickedness), we had heavy persecutions for a season; as I was going to preach in the street one Sabbath-day, two constables, with a great mob at their heels, took me into custody, for riotous behaviour, in singing a hymn as the people were coming out of church." “ The constables and their assistants were special drunk,” (he, Mr. Starkie, supposed they were special constables), and began a quarrel, during which the parish clerk's son broke the drunken constable's head with hris own staff. “ The next day," says Murlin,“ I was taken before a justice, and bound over to the Quarter Sessions ; but I traversed, and had it tried at the Assizes; from thence it was sent back to the Sessions, where it was given against me.”—He did not mean to deny the defendant's right to preach—he had a right to preach in proper places, and there let him rant and roar as he pleased; but this was a public nuisance. Would it be said that a mountebank, who might be as good a sort of person in his line, as the defendant was in his, had a right to set up a stage in the public street, and obstruct it by bringing together a numerous company? Why, a man had been indicted and convicted for making noises with a speaking trumpet and that was surely a less, nuisance than an obstruction to the street.
He knew not what doctrine the defendant brewed, it might be very
wholesome or very bad, it might be strong or small beer; he had no concern but with bis conduct, none with his principles. He had recently seen a case reported in the papers, which occurred in London, where it appeared that a family were very much disturbed by noises which proceeded from a chapel.
On inquiry, it was found that this place, which was used for worship on Sundays, was on other days the residence of a bear; he did not know indeed whether the bear was one of the congregation ; however, he was a vost unpleasant neighbour, for one day the poor woman of the house, opening the door of her cupboard, found his head in her provision warehouse. Legal proceedings were instituted, and the animal was accordingly reinoved. In like manner, he trusted the verdict of the jury would convince the defendant, that if he was determined to rant and roar, he must do it in proper places.
Samuel Newton stated, that he is deputy constable of Ashton. On Sunday the 17th of June, he went into the street-saw Samuel Waller standing on Jonathan Whisker's steps--there were other persons with bim, he supposes 200 or more. They were about 20 yards from the gate of the churchyard. Whilst they were there, a hearse came from Droylsden with a funeral : the hearse came to the church a different way with the corpse, from what it usually would have done. Went to Waller, and told him his orders were from the constables and churchwardens to make bim desist. Waller refused to do so. Got a summons for him to appear at Oldham on the 21st, when Waller said what he was doing was lawful. They sung, and made a great noise. The tunes were common song tunes, such as are sung by factory lads in the street. Before the magistrate, Waller said he would persist. The practice has been continued every Sunday since. Waller has not been there': they come for opposition it appears ; they are more than twice as numerous now as when Waller preached. Mr. Waller said he was a licensed teacher.
Examined by Mr. Courtenay.-Witness is a churchman ; never was a Methodist; has often gone to Methodist chapels, but never was a member of their society; was not then a constable; now he is a man in office, thinks it bis duty to go to the church of England. Samuel Waller did not stand himself in the public highway; was, in fact, on the steps of a doorJonathan Whisker's he believes. Information was brought to him of the disturbance from the public-house opposite; a gentleman said, if it were not stopped, he would remove, Witness beard nothing offensive or wrong. They were singing to merry tunes; song tunes. Knows, in point of fact, that they were singing psalms or hymns. The words were given out by defendant. The Ranters have come in a double body since defendant was taken before the magistrates. Defendant has never been at the meetings since. Mr. France, the curate of Ashton, and the churchwardens, directed witness to give him notice the Sunday before, that if he did not remove, he would be taken up. Was sent for by the ostler of one of the inns to a gentleman, about getting the defendant away. There is a public-bouse opposite, where defendant stood, which was open; the gentleman who sent to him was not a publican. The hearse from Droylsden did not come the usual road; witness supposed, on account of the preaching. Re-examined by Mr. Starkie.—The hearse did come an indirect road. The noise was to the great disturbance of those who had to perform the ceremony of the interment; was sure it must be. Mr. Courtenay objected to this as new matter, and the inquiry was not pursued.
The chairman here said, It surely is not intended to deny that this is a nuisance.
Mr. Courtenay answered, that he certainly was prepared to deny it, and, he doubted vot, with success.
James Ogden was then examined by Mr. Starkie, and stated, that he lives at Middleton; is not in any business. Remembers Sunday the 17th of June. Was in the street on that day. Saw Samuel Waller preaching at Jonathan Whisker's door. There was much noise and rabble; about 200 or 300 people were assembled. Waller was preaching and singing. There was a great deal of shouting. They sung merry tunes. Sung like, ballad-singers down the street. The street was crowded up. When the hearse came, Waller preached louder,— witness “ thout it reather hawkward.” It was a great nuisance.
Cross-examined by Mr. Brown.—Is a member of the Established church. Is at present out of employ. Does not kuow Samuel Waller. Did not hear his words distinctly; be made no more noise than was necessary to make the people hear; made too much noise for witness. Remembers no other carriage passing but the hearse. If any carriage or horse had come, they might have inade an opening, and very likely would. Heard them singing like lads in factories. Has no doubt but that they were singing psalms or hymns, though not to the tunes which he had been accustomed to at church. He saw nobody interrupted in passing, nor any vehicle.
Mr. Starkie. — That is my case. Mr. Courtenay said, be rose to address the court and the jury on behalf of the defendant, under great anxiety and embarrassment; greater, indeed, he believed, than it had been his lot to feel with respect to any other case erer confided to his care. His anxiety, however, did not arise from any doubt as to the righteousness of his cause, for it was the cause of religious liberty; nor from any doubt as to the lawfulness of the conduct pursued by