More on England’s “Tithe War” of the 1930s

British newspaper archives seem largely behind paywalls, but I’m finding some more information about the Depression-era tithe war, which took place mostly in southeast England, as the news was carried on the wires to newspapers elsewhere: in this case, Australia.

These articles detail a splendid variety of tactics in use by the resisters as they stymied attempts by the government to retaliate.

From the Perth Daily News:

Tithe War.

Bailiff’s Victory

For two years residents in the district of Canvey Island (Essex) known as Oyster Fleet have dodged the payment of tithes, but at last the officials responsible for their collection have scored (says the “Daily Mail”).

Two years ago Southend County Court ordered that distraint should be issued on the occupiers of 100 acres of land. Since then the bailiffs have paid scores of visits, but always careful watch has been kept for them and doors and windows safely closed on each occasion.

But now the furniture of Mr. Arthur Groves, a retired postal official, has been seized, and he has been left with only a couple of beds and a box or two to sit on. His goods will be sold by auction to satisfy the warrant, a sum of £92 being involved.

A county Court official said: “Mr. Groves is suffering because he has been less watchful than his neighbors.”

Excerpts from the Mackay Daily Mercury:

Two hours before the sale began processions of motor-cars carrying farmers were moving slowly up a narrow lane leading to the farm, and on barns used as parking places, and other buildings, slogans such as “Never surrender” and “Britons never will be slaves” were chalked.

Prominent members of the tithe-payers’ associations mounted a lorry, and had with them Mr. Jones, a striking figure with iron-grey hair, who wore an army cap — he is an ex-Service man — and clothes which had seen better days. The auctioneer and his clerk took up a position by the lorry and an attempt was made to read the conditions of sale. Jeers prevented more than an occasional word being heard, until appeals were made for silence as the fight was not against the auctioneer. The first lot offered was the lorry then being used as a platform, and it was sold to Mr. A.G. Mobbs, the chairman of the Suffolk Tithepayers’ Association, for two shillings. A second lorry was knocked down at the same price as there was no higher bid.

…It is understood that the buyers of the various lots put up at the sale will lend them to Mr. Jones if he decides to continue farming.

From the Horsham Times:

Tithe Payments

Farcical Auction Sale.

A demonstration against the payment of tithe rent charges was made at an auction of furniture belonging to Mr. W.E. Crump, a farmer and grazier, of “Knockbridge,” Icklesham, England.

Acting on a distraint warrant, Mr. A. Saunders, court bailiff, offered the goods for sale to meet a sum of £7 11/9 due in respect of tithe and costs. For the whole of the contents of the house, excluding wearing apparel and bedding, only £1 10/6 was realised. Neighboring farmers made bids of 1/ or so — the highest was 7/6 — and as no further offers were forthcoming the lots were knocked down at these farcical figures.

When the court bailiff arrived at the farm there were about 50 people gathered outside the house. Last week a Rye and Northiam District branch of the East Sussex Tithe Payers’ Association was formed and a large number of farmers in the district have joined. Among those present at the sale was the chairman, Mr. G. Butcher, who introduced Mr. R.M. Kedward, M.P. A protest meeting was then held.

Outside the house, at the conclusion of the sale, cheers were given for Mr. and Mrs. Crump.

From the Townsville Daily Bulletin:

Tithe Rents.

Opposition in England.

Two hundred angry East Kent farmers poured a bucket of mud over the head of an auctioneer during a Canterbury sale to recover arrears of tithe rent against which farmers everywhere are rebelling. They stoned his police guard, and the sale was abandoned, the auctioneer escaping in a police car.

Another sale at Hastings was wrecked, the farmers stampeding bullocks put up for sale.

From an article in the Barrier Miner:

When the sale started Mr. Kedward [a resistance sympathiser] bid 5/ for a stack, a total stranger bid £5, then £10, and the crowd surged forward with cries of “Who is this man?” Mr. Kedward then bid £500. The stranger was thereupon attacked, and in spite of police protection, was heavily stoned, and mud and refuse were flung at him as he was hustled and jostled off the premises. The tyres of his car were punctured, and he narrowly escaped a ducking in the pond. He drove away amid a hail of stones and mud.

The auctioneer asked Mr. Kedward for the money, and a farmer also claimed a bid of £500. To settle the dispute the sale was started again and only 10/ was bid, the stack being sold to E.J. Haffendon, of Egerton, for that sum.

The next day, 200 farmers mobbed another auction. This time the auctioneer “announced that there would be no sale unless there was a reasonable bid.”

Mr. Wollatt, a farmer of Kennington, near Ashford, asked if anyone could make a reasonable bid. “Say I bid £5?” he remarked.

Mr. Kedward: You have the right to bid what you like.

Facing the crowd, Mr. Wollatt asked, “Will you act like men if I do?”

The crowd shouted, “We will.” Sensing hostility, Mr. Woolatt remarked, “I have read what happened to a bidder yesterday.” He made no bid.

There was no sale at this farm.

Another article in the Barrier Miner includes these details:

Cheers, hoots, and “catcalls” greeted [the auctioneer’s] attempt to start the sale, and when the third lot was reached there was a rush which swept aside the police cordon. The auctioneer was borne through iron railings and disappeared beneath a mass of struggling men. When order was restored he was seen to have lost his eyeglasses. The sale ended quickly, the auctioneer stating that all the lots had been bought by a man whose identity was not stated, and who intended to return the goods to the owner.…

Hilarious scenes occurred at a tithe sale which was attempted at Tokes Farm, Icklesham, near Hastings, when two bullocks were offered for auction in respect of a tithe debt of 30/. About 200 farmers gathered, and a strong contingent of police were in attendance. Bidding started at 1/, but there were genuine buyers present, and amid hostile cries the price rose to £3. Then there came a chorus of simultaneous bids from farmers of £20. “Who made that bid?” demanded the auctioneer, and again met with a chorus of claimants. He had no recourse but to restart the sale. This happened a dozen times, and on one occasion, when the figure reached £5000, the successful bidder confessed he had only 8d., and the sale began again. The bullocks stood peacefully in the ring until the farmers tired of their entertainment; then a concerted attack with sticks was made on the bullocks, which dashed from the ring, scattering bidders, auctioneer, and police, and vanished over the distant marshes pursued by the police. The sale was then announced to be off.

Another article adds some details to the first of the two cases described above:

When the auctioneer tried to leave the farm efforts were made to mob him, and in the struggles several policemen were knocked down and numerous blows were struck.

Mr. MacGowan [the auctioneer] had a bucket of mud thrown over him, and the Chief Constable of Kent, Major Chapman, had his hat knocked off with a wet sack. Clods of earth and other missiles were rained on the group, and they tried to get out past a barricade of hurdles.

From the Dungog Chronicle and Gloucester Advertiser:

Dead Sheep as a Tithe

Angry farmers were summoned by the tolling of church bells at Iden, near Rye, Sussex, on , when a man attempted to collect 130 sheep from Moat Farm in connection with tithe arrears.

The farmers punctured tyres of the man’s car, and placed a dead sheep in the front seat. “Take that one to the parson and tell him it’s all he’ll get,” they shouted.

The collector found the 130 sheep he sought — but they were mixed with 150 others. Eventually they had to drive away — sheepless — in his flat-tyred motor-car. Then the dead sheep was buried. Over it a wooden cross was erected bearing the words: “Queen Anne’s Bounty, R.I.P.

From the Brisbane Daily Standard:

Bells Peal Tocsin for Tithes Battle.

Church bells run by women sounded the tocsin and chimed a peal of victory at a new battle in the Suffolk tithe war , when farmers prevented a distraint by filling a private road with farm vehicles and fowlhouses.

The agents of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners tried to seize eight stacks, valued at £340, at Elmsett Hall, Hadleigh, near Ipswich, for a tithe debt of £127, but were frustrated by a dramatic mobilisation of farm workers.

Suffolk Tithepayers’ Association had been ready to make a mass protest, but the authorities tried to forestall them by a surprise move.

Telephone S.O.S.

Police and haulage contractors, secretly informed, arrived at , but the owner of the farm, Mr. C. Western, sent telephone messages that brought sympathisers from miles away in Essex and Norfolk.

His wife, who was the widow of a clergyman, tolled the parish church bells as an alarm, and car after car arrived.

Farmers gave their men a holiday to swell the number of protesters, and by midday hundreds of people crowded the narrow private lane down which the hay-stacked lorries had to come.

After three and a half hours’ labor the contractors gave it up.

Farm vehicles and fowlhouses were dragged into the lane and their wheels removed, and for a last barricade farm hands were felling a great elm tree to crash across the lane, when the haulage attempt was given up.

Cheers, speeches, and a tithe-protest meeting greeted the departure of the contractors, who managed to take only about £30 worth off one stack.

Women rang the church bells again, this time as a peal of triumph.

From the Brisbane Telegraph:

Auctioneer Seized by Crowd

Mr. Frank H. Budd, head of an Eastbourne firm of auctioneers, was seized by a crowd at a tithe sale at Broad Street Green Farm, Hooe, Sussex, recently (says the London “Morning Post”).

When he could get no better bid than £1 for six heifers he closed the sale.

The crowd then seized him, apparently with the intention of throwing him into a pond, but with the assistance of the police he was able to reach an inn, where he remained till the crowd dispersed.

A story in the Brisbane Daily Standard tells of the resistance of a Mr. E.A. Clarke of Little Melton (Norfolk, England):

Notice of distraint was served, and men arrived to take an inventory. They wanted to include three horses, but Mr. Clarke refused to produce them.

Two days later a bailiff and policeman appeared, and told Mr. Clarke that the Registrar had canceled the order about the horses.

They added, however, that the whole of the furniture would be seized.

Thereupon they walked towards the house — but found all the doors and windows barred!

Undeterred, the bailiff camped in a washhouse.

In a friendly spirit Mr. Clarke provided him with a bed and food, and, in return, the bailiff helped in household tasks — such as shelling peas.

After three days, however, the bailiff left — only to return with the information that the house would be left alone, but that the corn in the barn would be seized.

One intending purchaser of the corn, discovering that payment of tithes was involved, withdrew his offer and sent a guinea to the Tithe Payers’ Association fund.

But there arrived at the farm a motor lorry to take away the corn.

Mr. Clarke, nothing daunted, refused to allow it to be removed, as the sacks in which it was stored belonged to him.

And when this difficulty seemed to be overcome, he demanded that the corn should be weighed to make sure that there was no more than the stipulated quantity.

Of course, there was no weighing machine on the premises, and the lorry left — unloaded.

From the Brisbane Courier:

Tithe War.

“Battle” Near Folkestone.

Tactics Carry the Day.

Several hundred Kent farmers and their men successfully prevented the removal of stock which had been distrained on for non-payment of tithe in the Eltham Valley district, near Folkestone. Three large lorries were sent to collect the goods, but they were compelled to retreat without any of the eighty-nine lots.

The farmers had organised themselves on war lines. At each of ten farms where stock was to be seized a small body of men stood guard, while the farmers’ main forces, having been brought from all parts of East Kent, were concentrated in the village square ready to rush to any farm if attempts were made to remove stock. The signal for help from any of the farms was to be the firing of rockets.

The lorries, however, with a representative of Merton College, Oxford, to whom the tithe is payable, and a county court bailiff, turned back after getting into the “enemy” country, where they found themselves surrounded by superior forces.

After a consultation with some police officers the retreat commenced, and soon the farmers’ scouts on motor cycles brought in reports that lorries were on their way back to London. The farmers stood by until dusk in case of a surprise attack before dispersing.

From the Uralla Times:

Tithe Hunt

Fifty Police Bag Two Chickens.

After an arduous day, 50 policemen arrested a pair of chickens as the net result of raiding eight Kent farms with the object of collecting goods from tithe defaulters distrained upon by Mehrton College, which owns the right of tithes.

The force, under the leadership of two officers, a solicitor and a bailiff, mobilised at dawn, and hid in a variety of vehicles. Some were disguised as farm workers. All scoured the countryside, but drew blanks.

At one farm, where it was expected that there would be a mixed bag of livestock, the brakes of one four-ton van failed, and the vehicle careered downhill into Elham and crashed into a lorry. Twenty constables were thrown into a ditch. The bruised constables tumbled out gallantly and endeavored to apprehend 50 chickens on the last farm. They caught two after a desperate chase, placed them in a three-ton lorry, and drove triumphantly off after one of the birds had laid an egg.

An expanded version of that story, from the Brisbane Telegraph, adds:

At Stonebridge Farm Mr. Gammon, who had been offered the cost of keep since distraint, was asked to deliver up three cows. He disclaimed knowledge of them, and as it was impossible to identify them Mr. Henderson left empty handed. Other farmers adopted a similar attitude.

Comic relief was provided at River Farm, when Mr. B. Waddington was called upon to give up twenty-five white Leghorn hens. Crowds of farmers roared with delight, and almost collapsed with laughter, when the solicitor and bailiff attempted to secure the birds. Startled fowls flew clucking in all directions, dodging the hunters’ outstretched hands.

From the Brisbane Daily Standard:

Novel Protest

A man lay across the sleepers on a railway line in Sussex, England, recently to prevent goods bought at a tithe sale from being sent away.

From the Brisbane Telegraph:

Farmers and Tithes

Bitter Scene at Essex Distraint

Some 350 farmers of Essex and Suffolk, who rallied to the aid of a widow whose farm implements had been distrained on for tithes, prevented the removal of the goods from her farm (says the London “Daily Mail”).

The widow is Mrs. Gardiner, of Delvyns Farm, Essex, and Mr. M. James, of Swansea, whose tender for the implements had been accepted, came with a lorry to take possession, accompanied by a solicitor.

The farmers claim that the removal of the articles would have prevented Mrs. Gardiner from cultivating her land. Mr. James therefore found on arrival that:

About 100 cars were obstructing the stackyard and all approaches to a barn containing some of the implements;

A large straw baler had been placed in front of the barn entrance and one of its wheels had been removed;

The wheels had been taken off two tip-carts;

A hive of bees had been put near the barn.

Mr. James and the solicitor at once went to view the goods, their lorry remaining on the highway. They entered the barn, followed by the crowd of farmers.

There they were compelled to hear exactly what the farmers thought of the affair and the resentment against the Rev. H.M. Greening, rector of Gestingthorpe, for the action he had taken against the widow. For a moment the position was disturbing, but calmer counsels prevailed.

An offer of £20 was made to Mr. James to settle the £49 tithes due, but this was refused.

A stalemate was thus reached and Mr. James and his solicitor were kept in the barn for three or four hours. Eventually police, who had been in attendance on the highway, received orders to get them off the farm, but the farmers held on, stating that they were on private property.

Ultimately Mr. James and the solicitor were allowed to leave after the police had informed them that if they returned they would do so at their own risk. Several bad eggs had been thrown at them.

From the Brisbane Courier:

One day an auctioneer attempted to sell 10 cows belonging to Mr. Crees, of Manor Farm, an alleged tithe defaulter, but on arrival he found that the animals had been mixed with about 70 others. Amid much confusion he announced that the sale could not take place.

The next night a bailiff arrived at Manor Farm and sealed up the buildings. It was learned that the action was due to the fact that the animals had been sold by private tender. Early next day an auctioneer, a purchaser, drovers, and a posse of police swooped down on the farm, only to find their quarry again missing. Fences had been broken down during the night and the animals had been driven off and mixed with nearly 100 others on a neighbouring farm.

The auctioneer’s party went to this place, and the farmers in the district, who had been summoned by telephone, found great amusement in watching the visitors attempt to sort out Mr. Crees’ animals.

After three hours’ very arduous work in the blazing sunshine the “raiders” decided to stop and depart. Then they discovered that the lorries they had taken to the scene had disappeared. The drivers, on finding that they were to convey animals distrained upon, said they did not like the job and drove away.

From the Warwick Daily News:

Tithe War

British Farmers’ Protest

Three hundred farmers gathered at Trago Farm, St. Pinnock, Cornwall, recently, to support Mr. Jonathan Tamblin in his protest against tithe charges.

It was the first demonstration of its kind in the West of England, and is believed to be the beginning of a “tithe war” in the district.

The auctioneer appointed by the administrators of Queen Anne’s Bounty found it necessary to seek police protection. Barely had he announced details of the auction when he was knocked off his feet by a rush of farmers. Upon regaining his feet he announced that, so far as he was concerned, the sale was at a close. He was escorted to his car by the police amid hooting, cheering, and threats, and an ugly scene developed. It was found necessary to place two constables on each running board of the car while it passed through the crowd of farmers.

The amount of the tithe charged was £33. Farmers from a very wide area met on the spot later and held a protest meeting.

After attempts extending over three days by an auctioneer, bailiffs, and 20 police on the farm of Mr. S.B. Creen, South Weston, Lewknor, Oxfordshire, 10 heifers on which there was a distraint for tithe rent charges were captured. Four hundred farmers took part in the protest.

An excerpt from the Melbourne Age:

Referring to anti-tithe agitation, it is stated that many occupying owners were led to resist payment owing to a mistaken view that recovery of tithe by process of law had broken down. In there was disorder at certain auction sales in Kent and East Sussex where goods seized by the court bailiff on distraint for tithe had been put up for sale; and the sales were more or less abortive. Later, registrars of county courts in certain areas were asked not to proceed with orders for distraint pending further consideration, and this delay led to misunderstanding as to the effectiveness of the law. Ultimately, however, the governors succeeded in several cases in getting directions from the courts for sale by tender of goods distrained upon, thus avoiding a sale at auction, and in many areas directions for sale by tender are now given by the court in any case upon the court being satisfied that disorder at an auction sale might be expected.

From the Dungog Chronicle and Gloucester Advertiser:

Widow’s Crops Freed

Surprise in Tithe War.

Truce for the Time Being.

Dramatic and unexpected developments in the tithe dispute at Ringshall, Suffolk, last week, have brought hostilities to an end, in any case for the time being.

The police and bailiffs, who were encamped for 12 days on the oat-fields of Mr. Waspe, a widowed farmer, and the family informed officially that the authorities had released the standing wheat and barley which had been under distraint.

It is also stated — again officially — that the decision to release the impounded fields was made by the legal adviser to King’s College.

Mr. John Waspe state in an interview that as he was leaving one of the police officers said, “Get on with the harvest.”

Mr. Waspe added: “Nothing was mentioned about the King’s College claim. We do not know whether they will attempt some other method to collect from us. I think this sudden change in the situation is due largely to the publicity given to our plight; and support of the Tithe Payers’ Association; and the intensity of the feeling aroused among local farmers and workers.”

Before the decision to release the crops, and possibly in the belief that tractors to cut the crops were near, a barricade of telegraph poles, barrels, and coils of barbed wire was erected across the Ringshall and Wattisham roads.

Another article suggests that the authorities gave in under pressure from the fascist Blackshirts, who had threatened to send reinforcements from London to defend the farm.

From the Australian Worker:

Children “For Sale.”

2000 British Farmers Stop Tithe Sale.

Children were put up “for sale” at a tithe distress auction at Ewensyllt Hall Farm, near Wrexham (Wales) recently.

Cards reading “On sale to pay my father’s tithes,” were hung round their necks.

It was the first tithe distress sale in North Wales for 45 years — and it was abandoned.

The auctioneer, Mr. Aston, a former Wrexham mayor, afterwards signed a pledge that he would never conduct another tithe sale, and before leaving wished the farmers good luck.

When the sale began 2000 angry farmers besieged the auctioneer’s rostrum and sang:

God save us from these raging priests
Who seize our crops and steal our beasts.

The song was specially composed for the occasion.

The farmers refused to leave until the sale was canceled.

Explaining the “For sale” notices on his three daughters, the farmer on whom the distress warrant had been served, Mr. Edwards, said, “If they sell my stock they may as well take my children, because I shall not be able to keep them.”

An official of the National Farmers’ Union told the London “Daily Herald” that practically every Welsh farmer will now refuse to pay tithes.

The annual amount involved is £207,000.

From the Brisbane Telegraph:

Car Tarred and Feathered

Tithe Raid Fails

An auctioneer’s car was tarred and feathered during an effort to levy a tithe distraint recently at Slade End Farm, Wallingford, Berkshire, owned and occupied by Mr. Vernon Drewitt, who is chairman of a Tithe-Payers’ Association (says the London “Daily Telegraph”).

As the visit had been expected, all the cattle and other stock had been removed to a part of the farm which was in another parish, and therefore could not be seized. There was nothing left on which the distraint could be levied.

Mr. Wright [the auctioneer] explained afterwards that as the authorities are now obliged to give five days’ notice of an intended distraint, it gives the farmer an opportunity to make preparations to render any raid futile.

While the distraining party were in the fields Mr. Wright’s motor car, which had been placed in a shed belonging to Mr. Drewitt, was tarred and feathered. A complaint was made to Mr. Drewitt, who pointed out that he had no knowledge of the occurrence, and it was altogether against his principles to pursue activities of this nature.

Mr. Wright’s papers had been strewn about the car and covered with tar, while a travelling rug was spoiled. A tin containing tar and a brush were found in the car.

Excerpts from the Lachlander and Condobolin and Western Districts Recorder:

In some cases war-like barricades have been thrown up, trenches dug across farm approaches, and gates buttressed with tree trunks. In one instance, wire was strung along the entrance gates and electrified at a high voltage.

Hundreds of warrants for distraint have been issued by country judges, but auctioneers and officials who tried to enforce them have been set upon and roughly handled by the enraged farmers and their friends. At Castle Hedlingham, 37 farmers, including Lady Evelyn Balfour, comely 35 year old niece of the late Prime Minister Balfour, were committed for trial on a charge of unlawful assembly.

Tithe War in Cornwall. In certain parts of Cornwall farmers are taking a stand against the feudal custom of paying tithes to the ecclesiastical authorities, who in some cases have not hesitated to put the bailiffs into the homes of defaulters. Picture shows a unit leader of the British Union of Fascists with a farmer beside a gate protected with barbed wire, waiting to resist the bailiff.

The British fascists tried to exploit the movement. Here is an example from the Launceston Examiner:

Tithe War

Fascists Arrested

Obstructed Police

Fifty police raided a farm near Diss, Norfolk, where a “tithe war” was in progress, and arrested 18 black-shirted Fascists on a charge of unlawfully conspiring for the public mischief by obstructing the removal of pigs and cattle lawfully impounded under a distress warrant in default of the payment of £565. The bailiff alleges that the Black Shirts dug trenches and felled trees to obstruct the entrance to the farm and prevent the police from performing their duties. The defendants were remanded and bail was refused. The owner of the farm states that the Black Shirts were acting without his permission. The bailiffs subsequently seized 15 cattle and 143 pigs.

“A manifesto was issued from the Fascist headquarters in London,” says another article, reading in part:

Fascists will co-operate with you in picketing to see that if a bailiff impounds a field no supplies get to him. We ask in return that our discipline and organisation be allowed to prevent any unduly violent incident. You in your wrath may go too far, and there might be a bailiff less.

“As a result of this manifesto,” the article continues, “drinking water was brought to the bailiffs and the police camp all the way from Sudbury under escort.”

An article in the Brisbane Telegraph describes a successful seizure of 134 pigs and 15 bullocks in Wortham, Suffolk. But the process involved 50 men, accompanied by 100 police officers, the closure of roads in the vicinity to keep protesters at bay, the removal of obstacles like “trenches that had been dug round the buildings…[,] heaps of earth, a fence of tree trunks and barbed wire, elevators with no wheels, and a threshing machine” as well as “felled trees” that had to be cleared by saws and axes.

Excerpts from the Rockhampton Evening News:

So strenuous have been the objections of farmers in Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk, where the best corn-growing lands in England are located, that officers charged with collecting the tithe money were manhandled, pelted with eggs, and imprisoned in barns.

During one such riotous scene enacted on a farm in East Anglia, 36 farmers were put under arrest… faced with the serious charge of “unlawfully assembling together against the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, his crown, and his dignity.” Amongst these farmers was Lady Evelyn Balfour…

Lady Balfour, the officers stoutly insisted, endangered the peace of the King, by standing in a waggon placed against a barn door so that the tithe collectors couldn’t escape until the uprising farmers had warned them to quit their unwelcome visits…

That trial was held, and the courtroom was packed with curious people who were all agog at the possibilities of the case. For several hours they listened to evidence. The would-be tithe collectors were allowed to relate how they were jostled and egged and locked up. The farmers were given time to tell their side of the story, and Lady Balfour, in her cultured, even voice, set forth the inability of the depression-hit farmers to live up to the terms of a law that was archaic. She did not budge. She stuck with her corn-growing, cattle-raising neighbours, and made it plain to the court that she would take the fight to Parliament, whether she went to gaol or not.

The magistrates… found out which of the defendants had hurled the eggs, which had laid hands on the tithe collectors, and penned them up in a barn. Only seven of the 36 persons before the bar of justice could be adjudged guilty on this score. Lady Balfour and the other 28 farmers were cleared of guilt…

…[T]he judges saw nothing to be gained by putting any of the defendants in gaol, so they delivered a tolerant lecture on the wisdom of obeying the law and maintaining order, and required each of the seven “guilty” farmers to leave a deposit of £10 as a guarantee that they would behave themselves for two years, or forfeit the money if they again got rough with the duly appointed tithe-collecting officials.

Another article, from the Brisbane Telegraph, gives some more detail about the trial and about the threat felt by the auction team:

It was alleged at the first hearing that a solicitor, Mr. G.H. Gibson, and an auctioneer, Mr. M.L. James were “imprisoned” in a barn by a crowd and pelted with eggs. Mr. Gibson said there was some talk about releasing bees from a hive, and he thought the idea was to lock him and Mr. James in the barn with the bees to coerce a settlement.

From the Townsville Daily Bulletin:

Tithe Dispute.

Extraordinary Renewal.

After a truce due to the local cricket match, the tithe dispute at Ashford extraordinarily renewed itself. Farmers with their wives and daughters prostrated themselves before lorries conveying oats seized for tithe arrears from K. Edward’s farm. The screams and shouts of civilians and police increased the turmoil. The lorry drivers entered a potato field in order to avoid the prostrate farm folk, who then wildly pursued the lorries, which were forced to stop, until the police removed a heavy wagon impeding their exit from the field, allowing the lorries to depart.

From the Mount Gambier Border Watch:

“Taken for a Ride.”

Auctioneer and Tithe Sale.

A Worcester (England) auctioneer, Mr. W.P. Woodward, was kidnapped and “taken for a ride” of 70 miles as he was walking away from a farm where he had arranged to conduct a tithe distraint sale. Farmers waited in vain for the sale at Linaeres Farm, Claines, near Worcester, and when the auctioneer did not turn up enquiries were made for him at his office.

“Taken near Banbury,” read a telegram from Mr. Woodward. “Coming back by train.”

“I was passing through a wicket gate,” said Mr. Woodward, “when I heard a voice with a brogue saying, ‘Look out, this is him,’ and before I could turn round a sheet was dropped over my head. The sheet was pulled round me and a rope tied round my legs and arms so that I could not move my hands. I was carried a short distance and put into a car. I called out, and one of the men said, ‘Keep quiet and it will be all right. We are only going to take you for a little ride.’ I don’t know which way they went,” continued Mr. Woodward, “but when they stopped the car one of them said, ‘Here you are. You can get out now.’ They pulled me out of the car and undid knots in the cord and off they went. By the time I had got clear of the sheet the car had disappeared.”

(Another version of the story continues Woodward’s quote, making this more explicit: “Unfortunately, I cannot help the police, as I saw none of my assailants.”)

From the Hobart Mercury:

Seventeen out of 18 pigs on a Suffolk (England) farm which were seized for tithe arrears died mysteriously. A tender of £18 for the animals had been accepted when two of them died, and an order under the swine fever regulations prevented the removal of the rest. Of these 15 then died, so a post-mortem examination was made by a Ministry of Agriculture inspector. This revealed that all the 17 pigs had died from prussic acid poisoning.

From the Townsville Daily Bulletin:

Tithe Raid at Midnight

Tale of Masked Men.

An alleged raid by masked men at a farm at Shepherdswell, near Dover, after a tithe distraint, was the subject of charges at Dover (writes the London “News-Chronicle”).

A bailiff had seized “a bull, a fowl, seventy ducks, and other goods” but when he returned a week later, “he found the ducks swimming on ponds.” Fifty people, some wearing masks, said they had come to recover the seized property. “Next morning only one of the 56 ducks was left.”

Another account, from the Lithgow Mercury, says sixty ducks were originally seized, 100 farmers in black masks recovered them, and then they were recaptured by constables. Also:

When lorries loaded with oats which had been seized for tithe at Beechbrook Farm, Westwell, near Ashford, were about to drive away, a clash occurred between farmers and men collecting the oats, this leading to several fights.

Before the lorries moved off, R.M. Kedward, president of the National Tithepayers’ Association, asked Supt. W.J. Robertson if he would arrest the men for taking the property.

“They have no right to take this stuff,” declared Kedward.

The appeal was unavailing, and then, to a chorus of “Down, everybody, down,” Kedward and the crowd lay down on the cart track in front of the vehicles.

From the Rockhampton Evening News:

Tithe Sale Scenes

Archbishop’s Effigy Burnt.

Effigies of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Queen Anne were burned on a bonfire at Beechbrook Farm, Westwell, near Ashford, Kent, recently, following an abortive auction sale of nine cows seized for tithe.

There were no bids.

Mud, potatoes, and carrots were thrown at the effigies as they burned. Slogans were carried and three donkeys bearing placards headed a procession.

During the sale the crowd sang “Rule, Britannia” and “Pack Up Your Troubles.”

From the Brisbane Daily Standard:

Tithe Troubles in England.

Tithe due from E.B. Stickells of Pester Farm — £12 4s.

Cattle seized and auctioned on the farm — two bullocks.

Price obtained from local farmer — £20.

Then the large crowd which attended had an auction of their own, to help the Tithe Payers’ Fund.

The “lot” was just one goat, but the crowd made the most of it — they bought and resold it 25 times, says the “Daily Express.”

The fund benefited by nearly £3.

Placards around the farmyard read:–

“Talk of Al Capone? Nuts; Why he’s nothing on Anne. Her racket brings in the dough two hundred years after her death.”

The crowd sang “Rule Britannia” and “Pack Up Your Troubles;” Cheers were given for the farmer and boos for the people who had taken the cattle.

Mr. R.M. Kedward, president of the National Tithe Payers’ Association, addressing the crowd, said:–

“We cannot go on any longer paying tithe out of capital. I warn the Government that the tithe players are preparing to go a very long way to see that the church of the country is not borne on one set of shoulders.”