Archdeacon Colley resists Queen Anne’s Bounty

This is the first mention I’ve heard of “Queen Anne’s Bounty” — a tax on Church of England clergy that was redistributed to poorer clergymen. Apparently one of those taxed didn’t much care for it. The following letter was found in the Leamington Spa Courier of :

Archdeacon Colley: A Passive Resister

Archdeacon Colley, Rector of Stockton, near Rugby, read from the pulpit the following letter he had sent to his Diocesan, the Bishop of Worcester:–

My Lord Bishop, — As a fortnight ago I wrote of the possibility of soon being taken to Warwick Gaol, so the Sheriff’s Officer here at the Rectory to-day has again served me with a Writ in the matter of the iniquitous demand of the Queen Anne’s Bounty. For five years ago I was served with a like Writ, and the Sheriff’s Officer then said he must attack me personally and take me to Prison. But having that afternoon and evening confirmation classes to attend and instruct, I paid the monstrous ecclesiastical tax under protest.

Two years ago, also, I was served with another Writ, but being at the time ill in bed the Sheriff’s Officer reluctantly took the cheque I again paid under protest, as he could not well take me bodily from my sick bedroom.

Now, seeing that my paying this scandalous impost under protest does no good, and having appealed against it to your Lordship, as well as repeatedly to the Bounty Office, that taxes Stockton double what other Rectors are assessed at, whose official income is three times that of mine, I have to-day been ready, as I told your Lordship, to go to Warwick Gaol rather than submit to the inequitable and iniquitous impost that was made by the Bishop of Rome — the Pope — to carry English money out of the country to foreign lands — to Italy, as Peter’s Pence in pre-Reformation times.

The Sheriff’s Officer, coming to Stockton to-day on bicycle from Leamington, could not well take me back with him in that way to Warwick Gaol, and therefore took my son’s Silver Cup instead from the Library shelf.

As a “Passive Resister” I could not actively resist this wrong. But it was a cruel thing to see done. For this Silver Cup bore the chased engraving and embossing of your Lordship’s Mitre and Shield — the Bishops of Worcester having been Visitors of the Leamington College when my son won it there as a First Prize, the engraved inscription being as follows:– “Leamington College Sports, 1½ mile Steeplechase (open), Obstacle contest direct to the goal: Through Two Ponds; Wind; Rain and Snow. 1st Prize, Clarence Christopher Colley; time, 11 minutes 25 seconds.[”]

My son, an Artillery Officer, would redeem this at twenty times the cost of the Sheriff’s Writ, served at the instance of the Queen Anne’s Bounty people, did I permit it, and did he not also stand up for me in my fight against this unjust claim, which they themselves publicly in the London newspapers two years ago admitted to be a tax too heavy to be levied on incomes under £200 a year, like Stockton, Warwickshire, in your Lordship’s Diocese.

It will, therefore, be a scandal second only to that of my being taken to Warwick Gaol, if this Prize Cup my son won at the Leamington College, under your Lordship’s Mitre and Shield as College Visitor, should be sold to pay this inequitable and iniquitous impost I myself am determined not to pay, even as a “Passive Resister.” I told the Sheriff’s Officer this afternoon he might, by the power of the Writ Served, take me, meek and unresisting, to Prison.

Archdeacon Colley then added:– “The Bishop’s answer I may not read, not yet having his Lordship’s permission to do so. But, while regretting to hear of my trouble, our Diocesan does not hold out any hope, either of being able or willing, under Mitre and Shield my son won the Silver Cup, to Shield the Father from the wrong done to me, to which, as an Englishman, am I expected tamely to submit? Nay, verily; ‘God do so unto me, and more also,’ if I remain Rector of Stockton under such conditions. I will tell you, my parishioners, more when further developments occur, and then, perhaps, enlist your help, that other Rectors following me here may not be subject to the plundering of those who have publicly acknowledged its inequity that virtually amounts to iniquity.”

It must have been fun to sit in the pews and listen to this fellow go on about his grievance with the church not leaving him enough money and about his son’s precious school-days sports trophy.

A Stockton Oddities web page says:

Archdeacon Colley… was rector . He was deeply interested in spiritualism and conducted séances in the rectory. He was notorious for having himself carried round the church during an evening service in a glass-topped coffin, which he kept in the music room at the rectory. He was also a keen musician and occasionally summoned the congregation to worship by blowing a cornet from the church porch or delivered baritone solos from the pulpit. In spite of his eccentricity he served the people of the village diligently, visited the sick and dying and was particularly good with children, for whom he gave lively parties. He rewarded those who could say their catechism by rolling apples or oranges down the “speak-pipe” from his summer-house.

Most of what I find on-line about him has to do with his obsession with the spirit world — seances, “spirit photography,” reincarnation, and the like.

From the Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser:

“Rebecca” Committed to Prison.

On , David Evans, farmer, of Penlan, in the parish of Llanfihangel-Yeroth, was committed by J.L. Davies, Esq., to Carmarthen Gaol, for inciting persons, by threatening letters, &c., to destroy Llanfihangel gate, last summer, and acting as Rebecca on the occasion.