My quest started when I made contact with Moira, my fourth cousin in Cornwall, who I met in Dorchester for the first time last Saturday. Moira had sent me a news clipping from the 1930s, celebrating an event which took place in 1839 at St Marys Church, Southampton.
|My ancestors would have walked through this door|
In 1836 England introduced the Tithe Commutation Act which replaced the ancient system of payment of tithes in kind (for example, produce) with monetary payments. So the issue of the fairness or otherwise of tithes was a significant issue in 1839 when this incident took place.
The rector, Francis North was the formal rector of a number of churches in Hampshire, and was in the habit of giving an annual sermon once a year, where he collected the tithes due to him. For the rest of the year, the church was left in the hands of a curate who was paid a lowly salary.
John Rose later wrote a poem, which he sold very successfully as a pamphlet. Here it is:
A letter to the Hon. And Rev. the Earl of Guil(d)ford (sic), Wiltshire Park, Dover
I’m certain your Lordship would hardly suppose
You’d receive an Epistle in verse from JOHN ROSE
Well-known in Southampton, whiled courting the muse,
As Father of Children and Vendor of News.
Ah, hinc illoe Lachrymoe! One thing is sure.
Though in young ones I’m rich, in the pocket I’m poor.
Sad drawback it is on connubial joys
Ten bantlings to rear – and the whole of them boys,
Everyone of them hearty, my Lord, and no question
With appetites keen and unfailing digestion;
And who, as to eating, though not over-nice,
Would make a sirloin disappear in a trice.
Your feelings, my Lord, I had no wish to shock
When I offered you lately a TITHE OF MY FLOCK –
A fine chubby lad which, as flower of the crew.
Guildford North I have christened him, in honour of you.
And I fervently hope, though the last of the race,
That – much honoured name he will never disgrace.
Now, My Lord, it would make my paternal heart glad
If you’d kindly consent to provide for the lad,
And to the rich bower, where your lordship reposes,
Would transplant this fair sample, the Flower of the ROSES.
But your Lordship may say: “Now my feelings you touch,
And truly John Rose, you are asking too much.
Were I to provide for each brat that is born,
Every ROSE in the lot would be turned to a thorn,
And the whole of the wealth of the County of Hants,
Would be quite insufficient to cover their wants.
This poem and a covering story was provided to the Southern Daily Echo by Mrs Frederick (Amy) Walbridge, a daughter of Guil(d)ford North Rose 1838-1900 in the 1930s. She well remembers her grandfather John Rose and her father having a chuckle about this story, especially when discussion of tithes arose.
When Ange and I went to look at the church yesterday and try and find the graveyard and parish workhouse, we were yet again astonished that this church was not destroyed in the 1940 blitz of Southampton. It is surrounded by buildings dated from the 1960s, a sure sign of the extensive bombing in that area.
John Rose's father Simon Rose was buried in the churchyard in 1820, but there is no sign of any graves.