Garston Church

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  Extract from letter 4/2/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            I have heard nothing from Mr. Gibson about the proposed allowance (£25) to his Curate but Mr. Fletcher says he does not think he will assent to the manner in which it is intended to apply the money

Extract from letter 9/2/1867 from Geo Whitley

            I cannot say how inexpressibly I was shocked yesterday morning by a visit from Mr. Gibson with the information that an awful scene had taken place at Garston Church, it appears that on Sunday last, particularly in the evening, a most unaccountable and overpowering smell pervaded the Church which was at last traced to Mr. Watt’s vault and on opening it the following day such a sight presented itself as it is needless of me to depict, suffice it to say Mr. W’s coffin had exploded, application was immediately made to Meredith who very properly employed the plumber at Woolton to make a new lead coffin and the remains were again enclosed. Disinfectants were liberally used and the Church has been whitewashed so I hope all is right again. I will make a strict enquiry into the circumstances and apprize you of the result. I strongly suspect the blame will fall upon the undertaker at Southampton.

            I do not think it will be desirable to acquaint Miss Watt of the circumstances and I have not mentioned it to Mrs. Hewson as I thought the knowledge of it would be better communicated through Mrs. Sprot or yourself, she is however sure to hear of it.

Extract from letter 9/2/1867 from Geo Whitley

            I sent over Mr. Shelmerdine to Garston Church to make a strict examination into the circumstances referred to in my letter to you of the 9th inst. and have since had from Mr. Meredith an awful revelation of the facts which are not even known to Mr. Gibson. I may perhaps be blamed for disclosing them to yourself but I did not like to be the sole depositary of such a case and therefore commit it to you, knowing well that you will deal with it in the most judicious manner with regard to communicating it to any of the family.

          Gas has just been introduced into the Church and the pipes are laid over Mr. Watt’s vault on opening which it was found to be on fire the coffins were ignited & as you may suppose a dreadful scene presented itself, the fire was put out when it was found that Mr. Watt’s coffin and that of his Father were both consumed with a great portion of the bones of the former and also two of the small coffins, that of Mrs. Watt and the older ones were uninjured, means were, as I before informed you immediately taken to enclose the whole of the charred remains in a lead coffin and the vault has been flagged over just above the coffins and at the entrance and the stones set in cement, every thing has therefore I think been effectually and decorously completed as may be.

            There was no service at the Church last Sunday and Mr. Shelmerdine says when he entered the Church the smell was still overpowering and cannot be got quit of without the introduction of ventilators either in the roof or the upper part of the walls which we have no authority to make but the Churchwardens must be consulted on the subject.

            Now as to the blame, none I believe occurs down here. I find from the undertakers’ bill at Cowes that the coffin made use of was “a patent metallic air tight” one to which I am told there is no objection, if so, no blame rests there. I enclose a copy of his bill from which it appears all care was taken. Mr. Shelmerdine says he knows for a fact that the bodies of all lusty persons are prepared in some way before being deposited in the Coffin and if this has been omitted he attributes the sad event in the present case to it. Be this as it may I consider we had best not probe the matter further as we may only give greater publicity to it and obtain no satisfaction.

            I trust we shall not see any notice of it in the public prints though we can scarcely hope that it may not be known in the neighbourhood of Garston.

            I must apologize for entering so minutely into the particulars of such a heart rending scene but I really considered it a duty not to withhold them from you

Extract from letter 19/2/1867 from Francis Watt

          I received yours with the two letters from Mr. Whitley, which I now return. It is indeed a shocking affair to have occurred. I quite agree that the least that can be said about it the better, but if any misstatement should get into print, it will be well to contradict it. There is but little doubt (I think none) that the gas pipes laid in the Vault over the coffins were the cause of it, or else the Stove Pipe if it has been introduced into the Vault. The heat from either would be quite great enough to gradually melt the fastenings & soldering of the lead & metal coffins, the gas from poor Richards’ remains would no doubt explode with that degree of heat and hence the catastrophy. I think great blame attaches to the persons who laid the pipes in the Vault without sufficient protection as there can be no doubt but that the coffins should have been flagged over before introducing any such things. I also certainly think the remains should have been washed with the sort of preparation Mr. Shelmerdine mentions. Depend upon it the extreme heat introduced into the Vault was the occasion of the horrid affair, otherwise the Gas would have burst the coffin placed there 14 months ago – long since I conclude by saying that very great blame attached to the persons who caused the pipes to be laid in the Vault. They had no right to invade the Vault at all without special permission which if they got bound them more particularly to prevent the possibility of the remains deposited being disturbed. This is all I can say on the subject and shall hope to hear no more about it.

Extract from letter from 23/2/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel 

            This unfortunate occurrence has again turned up. Mr. Thos. Atherton, who is one of the Churchwardens called on me today and

says the smell in the Church is still so very offensive that no service

can by possibility be held there tomorrow, he had been kept in total ignorance of the fact or he would have much earlier communicated with me, he wished me to say by whom the expense of purifying the Church (which the Health officer says can only be accomplished by placing ventilators in the ceiling taking out all the linings of the seats and destroying them and the cushions and every other vestige of woollen). I declined committing myself but told him plainly his duty was immediately to see that the Church was made fit for service the payment of the expenses being matter for after consideration. It seems not improbable the amount will be about £150. we must however I think see that Atherton is indemnified.

He also informed me there has been a notice in the papers of the circumstances but I could not procure a copy of it but will endeavour to do so on Monday.

Extract from letter from 28/2/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Church – The Vault

            This dreadful subject has, as might have been expected, become public.The only notice that I have seen in the papers is as follows: “To correspondents. I thinks the Vicar of Garston ought to know that his Church has been closed for 2 Sundays. There are, he says, good schoolrooms which might have been used for divine service” I have received such reports myself as to the state of the Church that I determined to take over a medical gentleman from Liverpool totally unconnected with the place and be guided by his judgement fearing that the matter might come before the Ecclesiastical authorities if nothing was done in it. A meeting therefore took place at the Church yesterday, there being present:-

The Curate – Garston                                   Mr. Atherton, Churchwarden

Mr. Harris, Surgeon, Liverpool                     Mr. Rathbone            do

Mr. Worthington, Medical                       Mr. Meredith

Officer Garston board of Health            .            G. Whitley

Mr. Shelmerdine.

A thorough examination of the Church was made (the smell being still very offensive) and the medical men made every enquiry, the result being that they gave the most unqualified opinion that the fire did not arise from spontaneous combustion, which they considered an impossibility & therefore that it must have been caused by light coming into contact with the gasses either accidentally or intentionally the only way of accounting for which would be by the use of pipes & tobacco by the workmen to destroy, not to be wondered at, the overpowering smell. That this was done is positively denied so the real cause is still a mystery. Mr. Harris says he has no hesitation in stating that the present bad odour is not caused by the decomposition of animal matter but by the carbolic acid and other disinfectants which have been used, nevertheless that the cushions &c have become so saturated with it that he would recommend their immediate destruction by fire. Mr. Gibson called on me this morning with his explanation but it amounted to nothing more than we all know. I arranged with the medical men that they should give me a joint report in writing a copy of which shall be sent to you as soon as received. The fire could not have been caused by an escape of Gas from the pipes or in connection with the stove I was pressed with regard to the payment of the expenses but did not choose to commit myself, I think however we are morally bound to meet them and if you are of the same opinion I should propose that whatever we gave should be accepted as a Donation only and not demanded as a right. I shall be glad to hear from you on this subject and that you approve of our proceeding.

Extract from letter from 28/2/1867 from Timothy Wainright

                                                              Woolton Feb 28th /67

Wardens of Garston Church

            I will do the following work at Garston Church – viz. wash off & prepare & whiten the ceiling 2 coats clean and prepare & twice color the walls paint part of the walls 4 coats as high as the hat rail, paint grain & twice varnish all wood & other work previously grained clean and varnish all oak work. Clean and frost two windows & part of two others repair 1 casement Color & paint the Vestry & Porch. Clean off the back of free seats & varnish do. For the

            sum of thirty pounds               £30
        Add for joiners work                £  5

                                                            David Wainwright

                                                                For Timothy Wainwright

Extract from letter from 2/3/1867 from Philip F Garnet

          Garston Local Board of Health

                                                               Grassendale. 2 March 1867


            The attention of this Board having been called to the very serious nuisance caused by the effluvium arising from the Vault or Tomb of the late Mr. Watt in Garston Church. I am to inform you that it will be the duty of the Board at their next meeting on Tuesday the 5th inst. to direct such steps to be taken against the proprietors of the Vault and the Minister and Wardens of the Church as are provided by law for the abatement of the nuisance unless they receive in the meantime a satisfactory assurance that prompt remedial measures will be voluntarily adopted by the parties concerned

Extract from letter from 4/3/1867 from Harris & Worthington, Rodney St Doctors

Watt deceased


                                                                                      March 1st 1876

            Copy Report Received 4 March 1876 G.W.

We, the undersigned, having on Wednesday, Feb 27th inspected St. Michaels Church Garston beg to report as follows-

1st.       There seems to be no doubt there was a fire on the morning of the 6th Feb in the Speke Hall family Vault & that the coffin & enclosed remains of the late Mr. Watt were to a great extent consumed.

            This caused in the Church a most obnoxious  and injurious smell & (notwithstanding the disinfectants which have been used) there still continues, evidently lingering principally about the woodwork and hangings, the latter especially, a strong and objectionable odour, such as we think precludes the use of the Church for the purpose of public worship.

            We recommend therefore that all the woollen materials including the baize coverings of pews, cushions and hangings should be removed and replaced by new ones if thought necessary.

            That the woodwork be repainted.

            The walls and ceilings be well whitewashed and a ventilator (if possible) be introduced in the ceiling and roof of the Church and that the lower side windows be made to open in the same manner as those near the Altar.

            In reference to the present condition of the Vault it has (according to the evidence of those who directed the work) been hermetically closed and no further trouble need be apprehended from it.

                                                Signed             J. Penn Harris F.R.C.S.

                                                                        J. Worthington            L.R.C.P.&c &c

L’pool 5, Rodney St                                                                    Garston

Extract from letter from 5/3/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Church – The Vault

            I send herewith copy letters from the Clerk to the Board of Health and of the Surgeon’s report the latter being very much what I expected. I could not see the Clerk yesterday but on calling on him again this morning I fortunately found with him Mr. Tinne (member of the Board) & the Surveyor and the matter was fully discussed. I stated my willingness to assist in any way in my power to abate the nuisance but declined giving any order for works in the Church which could only be acted on under the authority of Churchwardens. I promised however to see Atherton and endeavour to prevail upon him to carry out the recommendations in the report with as little delay as possible which I will do & assure him (without compromising any question as to repairs) that he shall not be a loser. The matters will be brought before the Board today and Mr. Tinne very civilly said he would make such a true representation to them as he thought would be satisfactory & with the object of avoiding any discussion in the public prints.

            I am very sorry to say Mr. Gibson still declines allowing divine service (under the Bishop’s license) to be performed in the school room which I believe has been a source of much regret to the congregation.

            I have received your two letters of the 1st and 2nd instant and agree with your views in the latter, namely, that the expenses had better be paid by way of gift or donation, if they were brought into the accounts of the Churchwardens at the annual vestry meeting at Easter it would cause a great commotion in the Township and lead to some very unpleasant observations. Mr. Gibson was not cognizant of the opening of the Vault and like myself did not hear of it for some days afterwards when it was then closed again, his curate was however present. There was no contact with the Gas pipes & the only solution of the mystery is the use of Tobacco, though still denied

Extract from letter from 7/3/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Church

            I have received your letter of the 6th inst and will make the enquiry as to the laying of the Gas Pipes. I have just had a long interview with Thomas Atherton who says he is convinced that the mischief was not caused by the Gas but by the use of Tobacco, the Vault was not disturbed when it was introduced as it was placed thus if you can understand my explanation which may not be a very clear one


                                                                        Level of Church floor


                                                                        Gas pipe



                                                                        Covering of the Vault




Be this as it may the Curate undertook the whole of the responsibility even to guaranteeing the entire expense, Atherton has procured estimate

of the necessary works as follows

            Wainwright’s a copy of which I enclose                         30---------
         New furnishing for the Church                                      108---------

the first is a fair one but the latter so preposterous that Atherton says he will undertake that the cost shall not exceed £60. If more he will pay the difference himself. I much fear if something be not immediately done the                                               matter will obtain

a most unpleasant

notoriety, & be brought

before the public. I much regret that you should be so much annoyed on such a sad affair

            Mr. Gibson was not cognizant of the opening of the Vault until several days afterwards & when it was again covered over.

Extract from letter from 9/3/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            I have this morning seem Mr. Hill, Plumber, Aigburth, who put the Gas into the Church & the following is the substance of his statement

            He declares that the Gas Pipes were and are perfect, and was ordered by the Curate to lay them down, says that if the Vault itself was full of Gas from the pipes it would not liquefy as the gasses      from the Vault could not have amalgamated so as to produce fire    but if a light had been introduced the consequence would have been an awful explosion which might have blown down half the Church I intend to go over to Garston again on Monday morning but much fear I shall not be able to gather much further information. There will be divine service tomorrow in the reading room

Extract from letter from 12/3/1867 from Geo Whitle

Garston Chape

            I am obliged by your letter of the 10th instant.

            I went over to Garston on Monday last and met the Curate, Churchwardens and Surgeon from Garston, found the smell still overpowering and that no means had been taken to abate it, strongly recommended the Churchwardens to carry out the report with the least possible delay and undertook on my own responsibility, but not as in any way connected with Mr. Watt’s estate to be answerable for the amount of Mr. Wainwright’s estimate for a new ventilator & for painting & whitewashing the Church leaving the question of refurnishing it for future consideration and until we ascertain that the present remedial measures will have the desired effect. Wainwright’s account will be about £40.

            We had also a meeting here yesterday and I had the opportunity of questioning Wainwright as to the origin of the fire but he knew nothing of the circumstances more than it had taken place when he arrived, we had now I think better let the matter rest and endeavour to allay the public feeling as quickly as may be

Extract from letter from 29/3/1867 from Geo Whitley

Gaston Chapel

            I went over there yesterday and am happy to say I found matters in a much more satisfactory state than I had anticipated. The ventilator was

Pi??shing, the entire seat linings, cushions and carpets, have been removed and the painting proceeding. There is still a smell in the Chapel but I feel convinced, in which I am borne out by the Clerk whom I called to my assistance, that it now only arises from the paint. I believe the ventilation has been more service than anything else. It is hoped the place may be ready for service in about a fortnight when I hope there will be no cause for further complaint.

Extract from letter from  8/4/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

Copy Opinion of Mr. Whitcombe

1.                  I think that the right of presentation to Garston Chapel was included in the devise made by the Codicil to the Will of Richard Watt of Jamaica & consequently was disentailed by the indenture of 7th March 1857 and is now vested in Miss Watt as devisee for life under the will of the late Mr. Richard Watt. The presentation should be made by Miss Watt as pointed out in my opinion p. 25.

2.                  I think that Mr. Watts’ estate is not liable for the repairs of the Chapel or to provide the articles enumerated at p.13* except as to the Clerks stipend

3.                  I think that the payment out of Mr. Watts estate of the expenses incurred under the circumstances here referred to** will not be an admission of liability to the general repairs of the Chapel so as to make such estate liable to those repairs hereafter. It will be desirable however to have it entered in the Chapel books that the payment is made under special circumstances & is not to be taken as an admission of liability to the repairs of the Chapel

                                                                                    J. Whitcombe

                                                                                                Sinc Yrs

                                                                                                  8th April 1867

*these were
Clerks stipend                       10.  0.0
organist and schools             10.  0.0
Sacramental Wine                  1.10.0              ** Refers to the Vault
Registry books when                                        at Garston Chapel                
required cost 14/- each              14.0
Surplice say 1 in 3 years         2.2.0
Cleaning the Church on          4.0.0
different festivals
Keeping roof in repair as
may be required                      _____
Edging Church cloth  
            3.0 0

Extract from letter from 7/5/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Church – The Vault

            I was this morning greatly annoyed by a visit from Mr. Worthington the Surgeon & Thomas Atherton to report that after all the appliances which have been used & the expense which has been incurred we are still in the same position, the smell of the paint has gradually diminished, the old one has again returned. Mr. Gibson insists upon having service in the Church next Sunday & Mr. Worthington declines giving a Certificate that the building is in a fit state. This may lead to a scene which must be avoided and I have therefore no other course to pursue than again to send out Dr. Harris to meet Mr. Gibson & Mr. Worthington and try to investigate the cause and they will accordingly have a meeting tomorrow the result of which I will inform you.

            The general supposition now seems to be that there may be some imperfection (say a soft brick or rotten mortar) in the wall surrounding the Vault which is only one brick thick and there may be therefore an escape from this source under the flags of the aisle to the stove No. 2 shewn in the enclosed rough sketch from which the gasses ascend into the body of the Church as the smell at this point is very offensive.

            There has been so much delay that I am almost fearful of an application being made to the Home Secretary which we must prevent if possible.

            I regret having again to trouble you on this unpleasant subject.

Extract from letter from 9/5/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Church

            I am truly happy to say this has been a false alarm.

            Dr. Harris called on me this morning and informed me that he had yesterday visited the Church and seen both Mr. Gibson and Mr. Worthington and after a most minute examination he was prepared to give a certificate, on which he would risk his professional reputation, that there was nothing which was prejudicial to health, that the remaining smell was the result of the free use of Carbolic acid in the first instance and certainly did not arise from any decomposed remains.

            This is so satisfactory that I really am not sorry the question has been again agitated as I shall have an answer to any further objections by the congregation.

            I received your letter of the 8th instant for which I am obliged and will thank you to let me know your future movements in case I should have to write again.

Extract from letter from 14/5/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            Underneath I send you copy certificate which I trust will set this unfortunate occurrence at rest for ever.

                                                                        I am Dear Sir

                                                                            Yrs. faithfully

                                                                                    Geo. Whitley

James Sprot Esqre.

Post Office


                                                                                    “Garston. May 13th /67

We the undersigned (having examined St. Michael’s Church Garston) hereby certify that there is nothing in its sanitary condition to prevent the holding of Divine service therein.

J. Penn Harris                                                 J. V. Worthington
F.R.C.S. &c                                                     L.R.C.S. &c &c”

5, Rodney St.


Extract from letter 5/6/1867 from Geo Whitley

Vault – Garston Church

I send Jeffrey & Co account                                       72.1.9
            Wainwrights’                                                               48.3.6

they are very heavy but must be paid

I must say the renovations have been handsomely & expensively done and less might I think have sufficed but under the unpleasant circumstances of the case and as the congregation have now expressed themselves perfectly satisfied I am afraid we must submit to be the sufferers with a good grace.

Extract from letter 18/7/1867 from Geo Whitley

          I enclose an extract from one of the Liverpool papers of this morning relating to the Vault. I very much regret this should have appeared, who can be the author or with what object the publication, after the lapse of time and when the occurrence had blown over, has been made I cannot conceive and can only attribute it to malice and ill will.

Newspaper cutting from “The Liverpool Mercury”


Marryatt nowhere draws more upon the credulity of his readers than in his description of the fate which befell the mother of Jacob Faithful. Her mysterious disappearance in the little cabin of the barge, leaving only a few ashes and a smell of burnt spirituous liquors to account for her fate somewhat resembles those middle-age stories which narrate how individuals who had entered into unholy compacts were carried off at midnight in a flame of blue fire, accompanied by a strong odour of sulphur. Cases of “spontaneous combustion”, however, as they are called, are recorded on what may be considered reliable authority, and Marryatt only turned to account an exceedingly rare but not impossible occurrence, to get rid of a perplexing personage from his story. If living beings, under peculiar conditions, are capable of generating large quantities of inflammable gases within themselves, it may be taken for granted that similar results will attend the process of decomposition in the dead. A curious story bearing upon this point, and therefore possessing considerable interest to scientific men, has just reached us. The scene of its occurrence is not many miles from Liverpool, but, for obvious reasons, it is not desirable to publish the names either of places or persons. About twelve months ago a gentleman died and was buried in the family vault at the parish church. His history was a sad one. He was born the heir to a large property, and, during a long minority, wealth accumulated immensely. With many good qualities, he was a man who had not learnt the responsibilities which attach to the possession of ample means. He was one of your “jolly good fellows” –one who, as the saying is, was nobody’s enemy but his own. He had a good heart, and was well liked in the neighbourhood where he lived, but he had not the steadiness of mind or purpose which is necessary to make a man actively useful in his generation. He married, and there were hopes that domestic life might give solidity to his character, but after a very brief period, his young wife died. They had been much attached to each other, and were always seen in company together, and the bereaved husband felt his loss intensely. He sought to drown his sorrow in excitement, but it was only for a short period, and he soon followed his wife into the grave. He died suddenly, in the prime of his youth, and in “full flesh”. His death took place at a distance from home, but his body was brought back and deposited in the tomb of his fathers, and he was passing out of memory, when an incident occurred which has been the material for much gossip in the place where he was best known. The body was, as we have already stated, buried in a vault at the parish church, it was inclosed within three coffins – one of metal and the others wood. The vault itself was first boarded over and then flagged. Some little time ago it was determined to hold evening services at the church, and gas was introduced with that view. While the work was in progress a peculiar odour was perceived in the building. It became unbearable to the congregation, and a search for the cause was instituted. The effluvium was found to proceed from the vault in which the body of the gentleman whose history we have narrated was buried. Those who are best acquainted with the facts are very reticent about what really occurred, but the popular tongue has it that there was an ignition of inflammable gases in the vault, and that the coffins in which the body was deposited were so injured as to render it necessary to enclose the remains within another receptacle. Certain it is that the gaseous matter let loose was of so strong and pungent a nature that it permeated the entire church, and by no process of ventilation could it be destroyed. The edifice was obliged to be closed for many weeks, and it was not until after various aromatics had been burnt in it for a considerable period, and other purifying processes taken, that the church could be reopened for Divine service. The incident, if it proves nothing else, shows the impolicy of burying the dead in vaults beneath the floor of a church. However securely they may be sealed, the gases evolved in the process of decomposition are almost certain to find their way, in smaller or greater quantities, into the body of the church, and prejudicially affect those who breathe the contaminated air.

Extract from letter 26/7/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Church

            Mr. Hewson called on me yesterday on the subject of the disgraceful statement in the Liverpool Mercury a copy of which I sent to you. Mrs. Gardner had unfortunately seen it and shewed it to Mrs. Hewson & both of them were of course exceedingly annoyed. It is in several points incorrect though in the main true and Mr. H desired me to ask you if you thought it prudent to notice the article by applying to the Editor for the name of the author and then setting the erroneous statements right by answering them in the same paper. My own opinion

is decidedly adverse to this. Generally speaking nothing is to be gained by a newspaper controversy and in the present case it appears to me that we should only be serving the purpose of the malevolent writer by entering into a correspondence with him. If not noticed as it is of no possible public interest, the subject will soon pass into oblivion.

            Mr. H remarked “can the author be the Curate? the article is well written and by a party who is cognizant of the facts”. I told him it was a little singular that I had received a letter from a gentleman (naming him) who stated that a similar idea had struck him.

Extract from letter from 7/8/1867 from Geo Whitley

The Monument

I have again seen Mr. Hewson and he says the Chester party still wish to retain the inscription as originally drawn. I am therefore rather at a loss what to do and return the papers and will thank you to say what alterations ( if any) you would wish to have made.

Inscription on tablet.

I thought the Inscription I suggested to the Memory of the late Mr. Watt

& -?- one – but never the less if Mr. & Mrs. Hewson & Mrs. G consider that his parentage should be omitted, I consent as for at least their Generation it will be well known who they were

Extract from letter from 27/8/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            Mr. Gibson called on me yesterday to shew me a letter from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners a copy of which I also send. His object in endeavouring to raise the endowment is a very proper one but the only means in his power, voluntary contributions being out of the question, is by selling or leasing a portion of the glebe lands (sat 3 or 4 acres) to which I see no objection and which would most probably meet the views of the Commissioners. The present income is so small that after payment of a Curate there is little or nothing for the incumbent. I took Mr. Gibson up to the Marble Masons’ to see Mr. Watt’s monument, which will be ready in a fortnight and to arrange for the erection of it. He says the Hatchment has not been removed from the Hall. Did you leave directions that this should be done?.

Extract from letter from 7/9/1867 from Geo Whitley

                                                                    Garston Chapel

            I annex copy of another letter from Mr. Gibson as to the augmentation of the living. I think he is right in assuming  that the sale of a portion of the Glebe lands might not be considered by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to be a fund raised from “non Ecclesiastical sources” and they might probably not concur in such sale. In whatever view, however it may be looked upon I do not consider that it affects Mr. Watt’s reps in any way. They have only to consider whether they, admitting the desirability of it, can legally carry out Mr. Gibson’s suggestion in raising the proposed funds to meet the proposition of the Commissioners. I do not conceive that they can, and therefore if you agree with me in opinion, will write to Mr. Gibson informing him of our determination and the reason why.

Extract from letter from 11/9/1867 from Geo Whitley

I have just received Mr. Smith’s a/c for the monument which I enclose & suppose must be paid. I was not aware the Vicar charged so high a fee as 5 guineas

Extract from letter from 19/11/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            Mr. Gibson called on me this morning and we had a long conversation on the state of the Speke schools. His present Curate (Mr. Casey) is now certainly leaving him and he proposes if we will pay him £25 p.ann. he will arrange with the new Curate as to Salary and undertake that he shall devote one day a week to the schools and in the evening of that day hold a service under the authority of a licence from the Bishop, he (Mr. Gibson) says the smallness of the Stipend arising from the living will not admit of a more liberal arrangement. I therefore think we had better accept his proposal as the present mode of carrying on the schools is most satisfactory

Extract from letter from 20/12/1867 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            Mr. Thos. Atherton brought me this morning the enclosed account relative to the evening service which he assured me had been highly appreciated by the inhabitants and had been regularly attended by many of the Speke Tenants. It will probably be now discontinued as the Curate is leaving but unfortunately there is a balance owing of £13.4.10. which has to be raised by subscriptions. They ask for assistance & though not really called upon don’t you think we might contribute a small sum? Please to return the account.

Extract from letter from 6/2/1868 from Geo Whitley

Garston Church Yard

            I am perfectly aware of the dangerous state of the wall alluded to in Mr. Gibson’s letter to you having frequently seen it. The Clerk also explained the circumstances to me a short time since and I desired him to tell Mr. Gibson. I thought he had better immediately apply to the Local Board, I include a copy of my letter to Mr. G.

Extract from letter from 6/2/1868 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            Mr. Sprot has sent me your letter to him without date (but I presume just received) as to the repairs of the wall at the North side of the Burial ground & desired me to answer it as the question is purely a legal one.

            It is admitted that the wall is in a dangerous state and if it was to fall down consequences might ensue entailing a most serious responsibility on the parties liable to the repair of it & which is not pleasant to contemplate.

            Then arises the question who is the responsible party? This I cannot answer not being cognizant of the affairs of the Township but if as it seems, it is intended to throw the onus upon Mr. Watt’s representatives I must on their behalf at once repudiate any responsibility whatever in the matter & decidedly decline to interfere in any way.

            You will I trust excuse me writing in strong terms but as the subject is one which in all probability may come before the public it is only right you should know our sentiments.

Extract from letter from 11/11/1868 from Geo Whitley

                                                                    Garston Chapel

            Mr. L informed me, & I have heard from other sources, that the Vicar is dangerously ill, he caught cold which brought on inflammation of the bladder & he has parted with much blood in consequence and recollecting that he is about 80 years of age his recovery must be doubtful. This warning may prepare you for a new appointment before long & you are aware that it is within yourself.

Extract from letter from 14/11/1868 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            I have not heard today the state of Mr. Gibson’s health but yesterday Mr. Hewson called on me and shewed me a letter from Mr. Gibson’s daughter giving a deplorable account of the state of her Father’s health though she still hoped he might rally. I am certain the nomination to the living would be acceptable, I don’t know the value of it but it might be considerably augmented by the sale or leasing of the Glebe land of which you will recollect there is a large quantity adjoining the Vicarage

Extract from letter 9/1/1869 from Geo Whitley

                                                                                    Garston Chapel

The Curate (Mr. Brack) called on me a few days since and I had a long conversation with him about the school and other matters. I told him I was going to explain to Mr. Gibson that Mr. Watts’ donation of £25 p. ann. was intended for the Curate in consideration of his services to Speke schools & not for the Vicar of Garston but he begged me to defer it for a short time as he thought it would cause a rupture between himself & his superior who pays him £100 p. ann. for all his services, which are very onerous, so that the extra £25 would be a real blessing to him, he is very well spoken of and is attentive to his duties.

            Yesterday the Clerk of Garston Chapel called at the request of Mr. Gibson, who is confined to the house, for the money (£25) but I put him off for the present, he says the roof of the chapel is bad, the rain has come in, the rafters are rotten and not safe & the wall of the yard adjoining the public road is positively dangerous – not a very pleasing prospect for a new incumbent as there is no fund for repairs and the matter may eventually fall into the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

                                           Chester – Febry 11th

Dear Mr. Whitley

            We have heard this morning of the death of poor Mr. Gibson – if my husband calls upon you tomorrow will you kindly advise with him about Garston?

                                                Yours very truly

                                                            Sarah Hewson

            P.S. About half past 11 in the forenoon


                                                            Liverpool. 12 Feb 1869

Dear Sir,

            After I had written to you yesterday I received the enclosed and this morning Mr. Hewson called upon me and we had a long conversation about Garston. As you will no doubt have anticipated he wishes to have the first offer of the nomination, not however binding himself to accept it but which there is little doubt he would do. He says he is an active man & thinks his services would be acceptable as Garston. I could gather that Mr. H would prefer remaining at Chester but would not object to remove for the benefit of the family – her objection might be that she would be too near Speke without having any authority in it.

Private                                                I am Dear Sir

                                                                Yrs faithfully

                                                                        Geo. Whitley

James Sprot Esqre                              Mr. Brack (the Curate) has just called

Conservative Club                              and tells me that the Tenants at Speke have raised £80 which was presented to him last night at the Hall by Mrs. Leyland, very gratifying and complimentary to him.

Dear Sarah

                        I received yours & now that I know your opinion about leaving Chester & that you think the living at Garston worth your husbands accepting I shall have much pleasure in presenting it to you, it must, however, be on the understanding if he does not keep on Mr. Brack as his Curate that he will devote as much time & attention to the Speke Schools as he has done. Mr. Brack I hear is very much liked and has been most zealous & persevering in his duties not only at Speke School in particular but to all the Tenants on the Estate, which is testified by the handsome testimonial with which he has just been presented. I suppose there are certain forms to go through and that Mr. H will have to be approved of & ---?---- by the Bishop before taking ------?-------

The House I understand was ----?---- in Part from Queens Arms

         Your ---?-------- --------400
Mr. Gibson      ---- --------500

I do not know if there is any part of Mr. Gibson’s payt. to be refunded, but if there is no doubt Mrs. G will not let it slip. Mr. Whitley will put all the information about it that he can, but Mr. G being such a reserved man never told us anything

Extract from letter from 19/2/1869 from Geo Whitley

                                                                Garston Chapel

                        I am in receipt of your letter of the 17th instant enclosing one to Mr. Hewson and on the best consideration I can give to the latter, though I think it could not be more correctly expressed, is that if Mr. H should wish to have the appointment he might fairly draw the inference from your letter that it would be offered to him. I therefore return the letter that it may be modified if you wish. The reason why Mr. Hewson has not written to you no doubt is that he told me he should prefer his ideas being conveyed to you by myself & in my letter to you of the 12th inst. I stated “he wishes to have the first offer of the nomination, not however binding himself to accept it”

            Excuse me from saying that under the present circumstances I should not name Mr. Brack as Mr. H might fancy we had been in communication with him on the subject which is really not the fact as he has not even alluded to a probability of having a chance.

            The living will ultimately, if the glebe land be sold or leased, become much more valuable than at present. There is no hurry about the nomination as you have six months from the day of Mr. Gibson’s decease to make it

Extract from letter from 22/2/1869 from Geo Whitley

                                                                                                                          Garston Chapel

            From my conversation with Mr. Hewson I feel that he expects the offer of the nomination – whether it would place his family in a pleasant position he of course is the best judge. The emoluments he receives from his appointments in Chester must I should think be quite equal to the present value of Garston. He has always been on intimate terms with Caleb Fletcher who once said to me “If anything happened to old Gibson, Hewson will of course get Garston” and I never heard anything to his disparagement. I think you are right in the first instance asking Mrs. H as one of the family what her own views and wishes are. It has always appeared to me that if the case were my own I should much prefer living at a distance than being in the neighbourhood of the old family mansion and estates which were in the hands of strangers but this is a mere matter of feeling.

            When you write to me keep a copy of your letter or send it to me and I will do so.

Extract from letter from 26/2/1869 from Geo Whitley

                                                                                                                    Garston Chapel

            I this morning received the enclosed note from Mrs. Hewson and Mr. H – afterwards called on me to explain his present position. He holds in Chester three preferment’s all uncertain and which he might have to relinquish at a short notice.

1.      St. Michaels Church of which he is not the
incumbent, merely holding it as the locum tenant
of the vicar who is a lunatic.                                      £100

2.      The Cemetery which he must give up in
consequence of the smallness and unhealthyness
of the residence                                                             £50

3.      The city jail (proposed to be amalgamated
with the county one                                                     £100

his position is therefore not a desirable one.

As to Garston he is informed by Mr. Gibson’s son in law that it is now worth about £250 p. ann. which would be a certainty and there being 33 acres (statute measures) of glebe land lying advantageously for building upon and a large prospective increase of fees from the burial ground with a good modern house he says he should feel perfectly justified in accepting the living of Garston according to the offer contained in your note to Mr. Hewson which he shewed me, & for which he desired me to express his warmest thanks. Mr. Chambers, Mr. Wm. Fletcher and many other friends in the neighbourhood have strongly advised him to accept the living if offered to him. He says whatever may be your wishes as to the conducting of the Speke Schools or on any matter connected with the estate it will afford him much pleasure in carrying out.

            Mrs. Gibson proposes to give up possession of the house in about a fortnight.

Extract from letter from 27/2/1869 from Geo Whitley

                                                                                                                   Garston Chapel

            I have received your letter of the 26th inst with its enclosures.

            In 1754 Lady Mary Beauclerk (who is now represented by the Watt family) obtained a Grant of the right of electing and nominating and the perpetual election and nomination from time to time and at all times thereafter of a fit person to be Curate or Minister of the Chapel of Garston when & as often as the same should be vacant to be admitted and licensed thereto by the proper ordinary. – This simply gave the Grantee the right of nominating a Minister but did not vest in him the rights and privileges of the living which would pass to such Minister subject however to the control of the Ecclesiastical authorities. The Governors of Queen Ann’s Bounty would I think in this case be the proper parties to exercise it as they in the time of Lady Mary augmented the living but as I know nothing of the facts I will write to the Secretary for information – one thing however is clear that the Minister for the time being could not exercise any improper control over the Glebe land

            Mr. Gibson’s’ house I always understood was built on part of the Glebe land partly from his own funds and from assistance from some of the Church building societies – this must be the case as the Widow talks of immediately giving it up.

Mrs. Hewson’s meaning as to making the living better must be from the sale of the Glebe land & the increasing fees arising from interments in the Church Yard.

            It is unfortunate that we have been left so much in the dark and that the late incumbent was so uncommunicative.

Extract from letter from 1/3/1869 from Geo Whitley

          Owing to our office closing at 2 o’clock on a Saturday I find that my letter to you of the 27th inst was by mistake not posted until this morning.

            Mrs. Gibson will have a sale in the course of the ensuing fortnight.

            I was right in my conjecture about the house –

The Governors of Queen Ann’s bounty contributed ……                   £450
Mr. Watt (Grandfather)……                                                              
Mr. Gibson…….                                                                                        £500
Towards the erection
On part of the Glebe land

Extract from letter from 3/3/1869 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            I wrote to you on the 27th Ult but my letter was not posted until the 1st inst when I again wrote to explain the cause & I hope you have now received both. I stated “that the Minister for the time being could not exercise any improper control over the Glebe land”. Mr. Watt’s Trustees (or rather yourself) have only the nomination & cannot interfere with the parties entitled to deal with the Glebe Land

            You are quite right in saying that your letter to Mr. Hewson of the 20th ult of which you sent me a copy, does not bear the interpretation put upon it as it was not an offer of the living but merely contained the enquiry “if you think it would be worth your Husband’s accepting as it is a poor living”

            As to the Vicarage, the new incumbent would not have any claim in the respect of the money contributed by Mr. Gibson.

As Mrs. Gibson will have a sale soon and the fixtures belong to her the proposed incumbent should have the opportunity of purchasing anything that might suit him & there may possibly be dilapidations to be looked after but in these matters I should have no right to interfere

Extract from letter from 6/3/1869 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            I have received your letter of the 4th instant and have forwarded the one to Mrs. Hewson – approved

            Mr. Brack called on me this morning and he told me that Mr. Hewson had accepted the living as he was so informed by Mr. Gibson’s daughter – this question is therefore ended. Mr. B says he shall be glad to enter into any fair arrangement with Mr. H & we thought if he could through Mr. H’s influence obtain any of his appointments in Chester an agreeable exchange might be made

Extract from letter from 22/3/1869 from Geo Whitley

                                              Garston Chapel

            In giving instructions to the Bishop’s secretaries to prepare the presentation to Mr. Hewson if became necessary to state the exact age of Miss Watt to show that she was a minor of tender years and therefore that the presentation must be made by her guardian and I therefore applied to the clerk for a copy of the certificate & to my utter astonishment it could not be found. To show that he was correct he brought over the original registers & I searched them myself with a similar result. The only entry has a private memorandum made by Mr. Gibson as follows “June 1st 1857 Mr. and Mrs. Watt’s first child a little girl was baptized this date at Speke Hall. Mary and I being present Mr. and Mrs. Watt & the nurse I. G.” the name of the child not being mentioned.

            For the guidance of the Trustees I intend to lay a short statement of the facts before Mr. Whitcombe a copy of which I send herewith which will inform you of all the circumstances of this extraordinary case.

                        I subsequently wrote to Mrs. Hewson to ask if she could give me any further explanation to which she replies “I am sorry I really cannot give you any further information about Miss Watt’s christening.”

                                                Garston Chapel. Presentation

            A greater astonishment still. On my landing from the Railway Boat this morning I met six familiar faces from Speke & Garston & on enquiring the reason of their appearance there I was informed that Mr. Hewson having determined to withdraw his acceptance of the living as appeared by his letters shewn to me, they were on there way as a Deputation to see Mr. H at Chester and endeavour to prevail upon him to alter his determination & promising to see me on their return.

4.30. The Deputation has just returned and Mr. Hewson has consented to adhere to his original determination & accept the living & I have been requested to withdraw letters from Mrs. Hewson addressed to you and myself which I have consented to do and perhaps had better not say any more on the subject. Mr. H says it was entirely owing to a misapprehended idea of the value of the living that he was induced to act as he had done. It is rather unfortunate as the circumstance is now generally known in the Parish. The consent of the Bishop to the change had been obtained and Mr. Shelmerdine had made an estimate of the dilapidations which are greater than expected

Extract from letter from 24/3/1869 from Geo Whitley

          Mr. & Mrs. Hewson came over here yesterday and I had a long interview with them when a full explanation was entered into and I was requested to acquaint you of Mr. Hewson’s final determination to accept the living but I strongly recommended that Mrs. H should also send you her own version of the circumstances and I then withdrew her former letter to you which I had not forwarded announcing that “he (Mr. Hewson) has come to the conclusion to withdraw his acceptance of the Living” dated 20th inst. and also a letter to myself of the same date stating that “we have decided not to go to Garston under any circumstances”

            On second consideration I have felt rather uncomfortable that these letters were given up without your approbation but I trust you will think I have not acted hastily in this matter or what would have been contrary to your wishes.

            I was told this morning by a gentleman who understood the living was not filled up & came to make enquiries about it that the iron works at Garston would shortly commence operations again on a large scale and would probably bring a population of from 3 to 4000 persons into the Township which will not improve the desirability of the living.

Extract from letter from 29/3/1869 from Geo Whitley

Garston Living

            I entirely agree with your arguments. The Vicarage dilapidations have been estimated by Mr. Shelmerdine at about £60 and Mr. Gibson’s Executors have employed another Surveyor to report to them and they will have to pay whatever the 2 Surveyors can agree upon, this will include all the repairs except those of ornamental description. The house contains a good dining room & a larger drawing room, kitchen, Butler’s Pantry etc on the ground floor and 5 bedrooms with attics & is a compact and nice house for the size of it. Mr. Shelmerdine has made a plan of it and the proposed addition of a study & 1 or 2 bedrooms would necessitate the entire rearrangement of the house and would be rather an expensive operation. Mrs. Hewson informs me that the income from the living is as follows:-

            Fees and Pew rents………………………         152.19.0
Speke grant…………………………                    25……
   Rent of Land……………………….                   100…….
           intended equalization of Pew rents…               40……

From this they seem to have made no allowance for outgoings. Pew rents are also a very dubious sort of income & the “Speke grant” is merely a gratuitous allowance. The glebe land when sold or leased would of course very materially add to this calculation


                                                                          March 8

Dear Mr. Sprot,

            I hasten to thank you for your letter to Sarah & for the presentation to the living of Garston. I am aware that the same desire which actuates you to do your best for the ‘Trust’ influence. I am in the discharge of your responsibility connected with the appointment of a new Vicar of Garston and this desire alone I am confident has induced you to express so strongly “you hope” that I shall devote as much time & attention to the Speke school as Mr. Brack has done that you will find in me a hard working Clergyman, one that will not shirk from the duties of his ---?--.

            I assure you My dear Sir that it will be my constant endeavour to fulfil the duties & onerous I know they are, to the very best of my ability & without wishing to disparage or underrate any exertions which Mr. Brack may have successfully made during his brief tenure of Deacon hoods for the benefit of Speke. I think I may safely say that after such a long experience of paid Church work in all its varied forms I shall not come to Garston ignorant of any work, still less inclined to be idle which would be simply to ---?--- the life I have spent so pleasantly because actively for so many years in Chester since my ordination in that city. I will only add that the Bishop is my Rector, that his household all of my Congregation that he has already approved me, that he regrets my departure from Chester, that he rejoices I am not leaving his diocese & that he will gladly I am sure if applied to by you testify to any qualifications for this office to which you have kindly presented me. Mr. Brack’s case is a singular one, it seldom happens that an incumbent dies leaving a Curate in the Diaconate  & the Bishop will shew Mr. Brack favour if he allows him to remain in sole charge until he takes -----?---- which, (if he does not fail) he may do on Trinity Sunday. I shall be happy to further his ----?--- in any way & to --?—him so I purpose seeing him tomorrow. Should he obtain --?-- --?—he will have no difficulty in getting a better curacy than Garston for the --?—of the best is scarce. I need not say that any suggestion from you or Mrs. Sprot with regard to Speke school shall have my very best attention

                                                            I remain
                                                             Yours truly
                                                                   C. F. Hewson

Chester March 23rd

My Dear Uncle,

                        We were both so disappointed & disheartened when we went over to see the vicarage & Garston. I found the wretched state of dilapidation the house is in & so very much smaller than we expected. I heard various accounts of the income that we seriously considered. We thought to withdraw our acceptance of the living. The distance from the Vicarage to the Church & Speke school in which I should feel particularly interested, is so great, I could be of no use in the Parish unless we kept a conveyance which the small income would not permit us to do. However a deputation of 8 persons came here to entreat us to re-consider the matter & from the very different light in which they have put things, we are induced to go & do our best. I enclose a copy of a letter received, it speaks for itself, the good feelings expressed & their proffers of kindness are very encouraging.

            One of the Mr. Atherton’s’ has given a pony the other brother offers a little carriage & say that if we only go, they will do anything for us.

            As regards the alteration of the house, we must consider the best means of enlarging it at the smallest cost, Whether from Queen Anne’s Bounty or other sources You may depend on Mr. Hewson doing his utmost for the benefit of the whole Parish & any suggestions you may like to make he will most gladly carry out.

            With best love believe me, my dear Uncle
                                   Yours affectly
                                               Sarah Hewson

Chester March 23rd

My Dear Uncle,

                        We were both so disappointed & disheartened when we went over to see the vicarage & Garston. I found the wretched state of dilapidation the house is in & so very much smaller than we expected. I heard various accounts of the income that we seriously considered. We thought to withdraw our acceptance of the living. The distance from the Vicarage to the Church & Speke school in which I should feel particularly interested, is so great, I could be of no use in the Parish unless we kept a conveyance which the small income would not permit us to do. However a deputation of 8 persons came here to entreat us to re-consider the matter & from the very different light in which they have put things, we are induced to go & do our best. I enclose a copy of a letter received, it speaks for itself, the good feelings expressed & their proffers of kindness are very encouraging.

            One of the Mr. Atherton’s’ has given a pony the other brother offers a little carriage & say that if we only go, they will do anything for us.

            As regards the alteration of the house, we must consider the best means of enlarging it at the smallest cost, Whether from Queen Anne’s Bounty or other sources You may depend on Mr. Hewson doing his utmost for the benefit of the whole Parish & any suggestions you may like to make he will most gladly carry out.

            With best love believe me, my dear Uncle
                                    Yours affectly
                                                Sarah Hewson

                                    Chester – March 30th

My dear Uncle,

                        I hope you will forgive us all the extra trouble we have caused you.

            It has been so hard to decide for the best, people saying here it was a mistake our leaving - & on the other hand & L’pool friends telling us the living is certain to become a good one & we should be mad to refuse it. I feel quite settled on the subject now. As regards buildings at Garston we can get what money we want from Q. A.s Bounty (this we have enquired) at  3½ percent here, if we were remaining we should be obliged two rooms, which would come out of our own pocket, therefore Garston being a permanency, we consider it better to build there, even if we had to spend some of our own money. We may as well make the house comfortable at once, as we shall, in all human probability, spend the remainder of our lives there.

There seems to be no certainty about the real value of the living, today Mr. Gibson’s Executor gave us a paper shewing there is a grant of £553 from Q. A’s Bounty, which no one knew of. Two of Mr. Hewson’s appointments are already promised, waiting to be confirmed until he is Instituted to Garston. Any increase to the population, will of course add to the value of the living by Fees &c. Mr. H is well used to Mrs. R & likes it & if the people choose to pay for a Curate, which we are told they wish to do, so much the better.

I hope you keep free from Asthma during these bitter winds; it is quite painful to be out of doors some days here.

Love to my Aunt & Ada
             & believe me
                  Yours affectly
             Sarah Hewson

Extract from letter from 20/4/1869 from Geo Whitley

                                         Garston Chapel

            I have had the Presentation settled by Counsel and it will be sent in a few days for the signatures of Miss Watt and yourself and I have also procured his opinion on the very extraordinary omission of the registration of Miss Watt’s birth a copy of which I send herewith. I shall of course comply with the suggestion of Counsel and take a declaration of the parties who were present at the baptism as the best evidence we can procure.

                                                The Vicarage

            Nothing further has been done with regard to the dilapidations but in this I cannot interfere. H is quite determined to make additions to the house, plans have been made and the alterations partially agreed upon, these Mr. Shelmerdine thinks will cost about £300, but no estimates have been procured, the amount, whatever it may be, is expected to be raised by a mortgage to the Governors of Queen Anne’s Bounty and Mr. Hewson called on me this morning with the printed queries sent herewith, which please to return, and requested me to call your attention to the 4th and to ask for your assent to the proposed mortgage.

Extract from letter from 26/4/1869 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel – 4th Query

Mr. Hewson could not get the advance without your consent and it appears to me a matter purely for his own consideration as he will have to bear the burthen. He expects to be able to borrow “about £400” but I much doubt if he will get it. He asked me (this is between ourselves) “Do you think Mr. Sprot would do anything for us?” I told him I was sure you had every disposition to serve him but as far as related to Mr. Watt’s estate you could not legally entertain the idea.

                        The Wall, Garston Chapel

            This subject has again been revived and I send herewith a copy of a letter from the Churchwardens on the subject. With your approbation I shall answer it by stating that Mr. Watt’s estate is not liable and that there are no funds belonging to it applicable for the purpose and recommend them to take proper advice & ascertain on whom the duty to repair the wall devolves and proceed accordingly. This Township is in a very peculiar position and as there are no Church rates considerable difficulty may occur. It was ill judged to appoint the two Churchwardens out of Speke alone.


                                                                                    Liverpool 24th April 1869

James Sprot Esqre        )
) Executors of the late Richd Watt Esq.
George Whitley Esq ) 


                        We beg to inform you that at a vestry meeting recently held in connexion with the Church of St. Michaels’ Garston, which was the first one in the last 14 years we were appointed Churchwardens, and as we have been called upon to build a wall on the North side of the Churchyard as well as to rebuild that on the north west side we venture to appear to you to assist us in doing so, as you are no doubt aware that there are no funds whatever belonging to the Church applicable to the purpose and the Congregation as a class being poor we despair of being able to raise the funds amongst them.

            It may be known to you that there is not any wall for the protection of the Churchyard on the north side, and it is here where we are required to build one, while that around the north west corner is considered to be in such an unsecure state that apprehensions are felt lest it should give way and the graves become exposed, this is the portion we are called upon to rebuild.

            The estimated cost is about £200 and in the circumstances in which we are placed we have no alternative but to appeal to you, as the representatives of the parties most interested in the Church in the hope that you will kindly take the matter into your consideration and see your way to assist us.

            It was at first proposed that a voluntary Church rate should be laid but as this could only be done as regards the parish of Garston proper which is now distinct from and altogether independent of those of Grassendale and Aigburth in which the wealthier portion of the inhabitants reside it was found that this would be quite inadequate to the requirements of the case and after a good deal of consideration it was decided that we should endeavour to raise the necessary funds by voluntary contributions.

            Some few of the gentlemen of Aigburth have been good enough to interest themselves in the matter and have promised some of them conditionally to make contributions and the inhabitants of the Parish of Garston will no doubt contribute so far as they are able but we cannot expect much from these sources and therefore our main dependence is upon you.

            The Church itself requires some repairs to the roof windows &c. but we shall probably be able to raise funds for the purpose amongst ourselves.

            We shall be much obliged if you will favourably consider the subject now brought before you & inform us of your decision at your early convenience.

                        We remain. Your Obedient Servants
                      Thomas Atherton        )
                                                          ) Churchwardens
                      Fredk. Geo. Byron      )

Extract from letter from 3/5/1869 from Geo Whitley

                   Garston Vicarage

            Mr. Caleb Fletcher called on me last week, and we had a long conversation on the subject of the enclosed letter which he said he had written but forgotten to bring, but afterwards sent. I explained to him that however desirous you might be to assist Mr. Hewson it was impossible for you to apply any portion of Mr. Watt’s estate to both Mr. & Mrs. Hewson. I do not hear that anything has been done either as to the dilapidations or the additions to the house. I have borrowed from Mr. Shelmerdine the plan of the house as it now stands & a tracing of the proposed alterations (which please to return) that you may be enabled to judge for yourself of the expediency of carrying out Mr. Hewson’s wishes. I have sent the Presentation to the Bishop’s secretaries so that the matter is now entirely in his own hands.

            I have written to the Churchwardens declining to assist in the rebuilding of the Church walls.

            Mr. Leyland has been very unwell and confined at home but he has not resumed business. His family go tomorrow to London for the season.

Extract from letter from 31/5/1869 from Geo Whitley

            I had this morning a deputation consisting of Mr. Thos. Atherton, Mr. Woods & Mr. Meredith relative to the Garston Vicarage, a new idea having struck them that I could borrow a sum of £200 on the joint promissory note of themselves & 4 other responsible persons which they would lay out on the house & take the chance of repayment from other persons in Garston, this I have no doubt might be done but I am very reluctant to mix myself up with the living of Garston at all. The application to the Governor of Queen Anne’s Bounty has not yet been which I told them was a preliminary and that as they had augmented the living it was probable they might interfere and not allow the outlay of the money to be received for the dilapidations to be expended with the money intended to be laid out in alterations and additions to the house, which would be making a sort of joint fund. The act directs that “all sums received for dilapidations are to be laid out on the premises”. Mr. H would have saved himself and others much trouble if he would immediately on his presentation have put his case into the hands of the Bishop’s Sect who would have filled up his papers for him. Mrs. H saw Atherton on Saturday and requested that all communications on the subject might pass through her hands.

Extract from letter from 12/6/1869 from Geo Whitley

                        Garston Chapel

            I quite agree with your observations. I have this morning had an interview with Mrs. Hewson, Mr. Thos Atherton, Mr. Wood & Mr. Meredith, on the hackneyed question of borrowing the money requisite for the alterations of the Vicarage and was asked the question “if I would sanction it” I declined giving anything of the sort or interfering in the matter and I presume they will arrange amongst themselves to raise the money. Mrs. Hewson has seen the Bishop and he tells her she may lay out as much of her own money on the house as she pleases (not very important information) but if the Governor of Queen Anne’s Bounty lend the money they will require all the plans etc to pass through the hands of their own surveyor and be guided by his report, this would of course cause much delay and Mrs. H has abandoned the idea of even applying to tem & she has given directions to Mr. Shelmerdine as soon as the money (£70) is received for the dilapidations to lay it out upon the house and afterwards to proceed with the alterations, she promising to provide with the means.

Extract from letter from 17/7/1869 from Geo Whitley

                      The Vicarage

            The dilapidations have been assessed at £70 & the estimate for the alterations has been reduced to £150 (making together £220) & for this amount the work is to be completed & is now carrying out under Mr. Hewson’s contract. The Vicar is not yet inducted but I hear proposes to be so prior to the 10th August.

Extract from letter from 31/8/1869 from Geo Whitley


                                    The Vicarage

            From what Mr. F told me the family will be able to take up their residence in the course of this week & that Capt. Watt had considerately presented Mrs. H with £100--.

            I hear that from her having made several alterations in the contract it will be voidable of the Contractor chooses to take advantage of their circumstance which I trust he will not do.

            Allow me to add that I feel much gratified and obliged to your kind offer but from what I have before stated I fear it will not be possible for me to avail myself of it – and believe me

Extract from letter from 16/6/1870 from Geo Whitley

The Vicarage, Garston

Bill for tiles for the sewer, Meredith in ignorance of the fact that Speke was totally unconnected with Garston and considering that the Vicarage was a portion of Me. Watt’s estate did give the order for the tiles, the bill for labour etc. which was very heavy, being a labour of love by other persons, the matter may therefore take its own course.

Extract from letter from 21/11/1870 from Geo Whitley

Garston Church

            I agree with you of the uselessness of again raising the question as to Mr. Watt’s promise of giving £500.

                                                                        Garston Vicarage,


                                                                            April 22

Dear Mr. Whitley,

            I am very sorry to learn that Mr. Sprot should entertain the idea that an insult had been offered to Miss Watt by the removal of the pulpit in Garston Church and placing it in its present position. Nothing could possibly have been further from our intention when making the alteration than to give offence much less to insult anyone. We specially refrained from altering the Hale Pew nr the pulpit (---) (---) immoveable, as I have already informed you & can as well be placed near the Vicarage pew as where it is at present as indeed in any other part of the Church should it be desired. So far from Mr. Leyland making any objection to it he actually contributed £20 towards making the alteration as you will see from the enclosed abstract of the Church Wardens accounts for the part year. Mr. Sprot must have made a very cursory view of the Church as he would have seen that the pulpit is not at the end of the Hale pew but at the side & separated from it & does not in any way obstruct the view of the occupants of the pew, it is the universal opinion of every one that the alteration has been an improvement so far as it was practicable to make in the old Church. The Bishops Secretary, Mr. (----) dined and slept here last evening he has seen the alterations and fully approves of them. It was useless to bring the matter before the Annual Vestry (which I never promised to do) as the main business was the consideration of the best way to obtain increased Church accommodation & the question of the position of the pulpit was never thought of while the building of a new Church was in contemplation. What I promised was that if Miss Watt & Mr. Sprot wished it the pulpit should & could be removed in a few minutes.

I am glad to find that you have in contemplation, the erection of a new Church for the accommodation of the inhabitants of Speke. I shall be delighted to aid it as far as I can (------) with my position as Vicar of the Parish. What a day Sunday was, we had a good few at (----) notwithstanding the bad weather. Mrs. Hewson & family are still Page 6 at (---------) & are better for the change. I hope Mr. Sprots' leg is better & that he does not now suffer much inconvenience from it.

                                                                        Yrs ty
                                                                     J. F. Hewson

Extract from letter from 6/7/1871 from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel


            Mr. Hewson has erected a number of new Pews, a Deputation has waited on me as to a donation towards a new Church & other matters which I have so often explained Mr. Watt’s estate cannot be called upon to interfere that I will not trouble you about them.

Extract from letter from 19/8/1871 from Geo Whitley

Mr. Hewson

            You will see from Mrs. H’s letter which I enclose a very unfavorable account of him, she herself has been very unwell.

Extract from letter from 21/9/1871 from Geo Whitley

            I have at length become located at Speke and yesterday called on Mr. Hewson & was glad to find him apparently in better health and spirits but has still his fearful operation hanging over him. We had a long conversation

            Garston Vicarage,

                                                                                    Oct. 25

My Dear Sir,

            With reference to your note of the 17th inst. I am anxiously waiting to know the result of your correspondence with Mr. Robertson respecting Speke School. I enclose a note from Miss Booker who supports a School in Allerton on the same system as that in Speke. You will see how she is inclined to view the Education Act & indeed to co-operate with it but I hope you will not for a moment suppose that I court their interference. Indeed seeing you are so opposed to it I should be glad to see things remain as they are & have done my best to keep them so. There are none of us however who can override an Act of Parliament which has been accepted as a compromise by all parties. With reference to our Religious Service in the School which I understand you are now also opposed to I (----) be allowed to remind you that on my appointment to the living of Garston you made it a (----) (----) (----) that I should carry on the services as they were in the time of Mr. Jones & Mr. Brack. This I have done with the exception to the alteration of Sunday & that only on the express and unanimous wishes of the people. The change has been most beneficial in enabling them to come who could not possibly attend in the week day & some of whom would doubtless spend their Sunday afternoon less profitably. The service is also a great help to the Sunday School which most of the children attend particularly the elder ones. At the Confirmation held in June last by the Bishop there were 27 from Speke, candidates, who had been regularly examined by myself in the School after the service for nearly 2 months previously. You did never take such interest in the service that before my time you have stated that you willingly could pay a Clergyman out of your own pocket than see the service discontinued. To close the School for regular service would therefore be in contravention of your own expressed wish, would be in opposition to the residents of the whole of the Township including your Co-Trustee (who has attended the service since his residence & who can vouch for them being indeed well attended & hearty) & also would deprive the poor classes generally & some of the farmers & their families from attending any place of worship & in the opinion of every one you would be committing an act of Grave responsibility in (th----ing) the Religious & Moral well being of the residents in the Speke Estate who have been committed to your charge, no doubt Mrs. Hewson & myself have large scope enough in Garston proper. In what little we may be able to do but we try to remember that Speke is a portion of Garston Parish & which was specially committed to any spiritual case when I received the living from your hands.

I have just appointed a Curate who has taken a house on the outskirts of Speke so that I hope that it can never be said that either of us will be unmindful of our duty.

The argument as to the size of the School tells most in my favour & against you shewing that the work is successfully carried on in spite of various obstacles & should there be any difficulty as to the cost of making the room larger for Religious Worship I think I could relieve you of any anxiety on that point.

So much as to Speke your inaction with respect to the living of Garston is a great evil, the inhabitants in Garston & its neighbourhood seem determined & very soon to build a new Parish Church independent of your patronage, the Commissioners & Bishop no doubt will allow this with my sanction but such a step would naturally lessen the value of the living to Miss Watt & her successors in every way by your giving towards a new Church the money promised by the late Patron £500. I believe the Patronage would still be vested in you for Miss Watt & in her successors & a great deal of ill feeling avoided. There is no doubt that My Lord Chancellor, who takes a great interest in such matters would fully approve of this course & indeed rather than see the Patronage go from the family I myself would become security for the money if ever called upon, with king regards to Mrs. Sprot & love to Ada.

                                                                        I am

                                                                           Yrs truly

                                                                                    J. F. Hewson

P.S. When the alteration of time in holding the

service was contemplated I wrote to the office

in Liverpool, knowing you in this, & in a

conversation held (----) the next day

at the Vicarage you gave it your full approval.

I also know that Richard had he been spared

would have built

intended /\ about  building a suitable

room to be used as a School & Chapel

he was greatly pleased with Mr. Jones & the

services & bought at considerable cost

the Harmonium at present in use.

Extract from letter 16/12/1871from Geo Whitley

Garston New Church

            My understanding has been that as there was a difficulty about raising the £500 subscription from Mr. Watt’s Estate the promoters would undertake the erection of the Church out of their own funds and keep the Patronage of it in their own hands independent of Mr. Watt’s representatives which they have full power to do, this would leave the Patronage of the old Church as it is but would certainly not deprive Miss Watt of it. What Mr. Hewson means, I take it, in his communication with you “that by refusing to assist in the building of a new Church the Patronage of Garston would be lost to Miss Watt” is that the Patronage of the new Church would be vested in Trustees who would most probably not present Mr. Hewson as the incumbent. Then he most probably would be driven to make an election which of the 2 preferments he would take.

            You have in my opinion taken a very correct view of the future and that such an estate as Speke should have “the benefit of a fit place of worship for the tenants of such a rich landed proprietor as Miss Watt” You say further that “if it is necessary for retaining the Patronage of Garston that £500 should be subscribed for this new Church I have no objection to do so” This is clearly not necessary and I do not see that the Garston people have a right to ask you to contribute.

Extract from letter 30/12/1871from Geo Whitley

Garston Chapel

            I had a long interview with Mr. Hewson this morning and told him the contents of your letter, he desired me particularly to explain to you that there was not the slightest intention of annoying any one by the removal of the pulpit to its present position and that if it was thought injurious to Mr. Watt’s seat he would, as it is only a removable one, at

the Vestry in April next apply to have it removed to the opposite side of the Church, he then enquired if the proposed subscription of £500 promised by Mr. Watt was abandoned, I said it was, owing to the legal impediment which had been so often mentioned. Mr. H has been very unwell.

Extract from letter from 9/5/1874 from Geo Whitley

Garston new Church

            I also enclose a cutting from the same paper, the old story over again and evidently written by a party who knows all the circumstances though affecting not to do so. The Committee I hear propose shortly to commence operations although they have not yet raised half the amount required (£5000)