[The Daily News, 21. September 1869]

Eingeklebter Zeitungsausschnitt
Icon dass Zeitungsausschnitt symbolisiert
The Daily News. Nr. 7298, 21. September 1869. S. 2.
Icon dass Zitate symbolisiert



At the Hertford Borough Sessions, held yesterday, an elderly man named Bourchier, the son of a deceased Hertfordshire clergyman, but now an inmate of the Hertford Union Workhouse, was charged with insubordination in refusing to attend morning prayers. Bourchier had been taken before the board of guardians on Saturday, on the complaint of the master, and as he then stated that he should continue to refuse to attend prayers so long as they were read by the present master, the board directed that a summons should be taken out against him. Mr. Sworder, the clerk to the guardians, attended before the magistrates, and said that the prosecution was under the 124th, 17th, and 128th orders of the Poor Law Board. The 124th of the orders directed that prayers should be read before breakfast and after supper every day, and that all the inmates of the house should attend them except the sick, the infirm, persons of unsound mind, and young children, “provided that those paupers who may object to attend on account of their professing religious principles differing from those of the Established Church shall be exempt from such attendance.” The other orders applied generally to acts of wilful disobedience to the lawful orders of the master or other officers of the workhouse. In the present case the pauper, although by profession a Dissenter, had not objected to attending prayers on that ground, but had in fact regularly attended until Monday last. On that day, on the master entering the hall to read prayers, Bourchier got up and left; and on being afterwards spoken to about it, he said that the master was not a Christian and that he could not and would not attend prayers when they were read by such a man. On Tuesday and Thursday he repeated his refusal on the same grounds, and during the whole week he was absent from prayers. Under these circumstances Mr. Sworder submitted that there had been a violation of the 124th order, which required paupers to attend prayers, unless they objected on the ground that they were Dissenters; and of the other orders which relate to cases of wilful disobedience to lawful orders, the order being lawful in this case, since the only objection which could entitle the pauper to exemption was not raised. Mr. Wheeler, the master of the workhouse, having deposed to the facts stated by Mr. Sworder, Bourchier said in defense that on the 1st of August the gruel was burnt and spoilt by the burning of the bottom of the copper, and that, being unable to eat it, he asked the porter to get him some water. The master refused to allow this, and when he (Bourchier) attempted to go for it himself, the master stopped him. He considered this cruel, tyrannous, and unchristian conduct, and felt that he could no more attend at a religious service conducted by Mr. Wheeler. For some time after this occurrence, the master did not read prayers, and on his entering the hall on Monday for the purpose of doing so, he (Bourchier) felt compelled to leave. He did not object to the Church prayers, though he was a Dissenter, but he could not worship under the lead of the master and therefore now claimed exemption under the orders as a Baptist, which was the religious profession he made on entering the workhouse. The Mayor said there could be no doubt that the rules of the workhouse had been violated. Bourchier entered the house as a Dissenter, but he had never objected to attend prayers on that ground until the day in question, and could not therefore urge religious scruples in defence. If insubordination such as he had been guilty of were allowed, it would be impossible to maintain order in the workhouse. He must pay a fine of 2s. and 8s. costs or go to prison for seven days. A |43 fortnight would be allowed for payment. Bourchier asked the bench whether he might not, as a Dissenter, be excused from attending prayers in a future. The Bench replied they would give him no advice in the matter.


  • Social cases. 1869