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Jonathan Hatton
1803 - 1870
'Mattishall Martyr'
& The Mattishall Church-Rate Case

The church rate was a tax formerly levied in each parish in England and Ireland for the benefit of the parish church. Out of these rates were defrayed the expenses of carrying on divine service, repairing the fabric of the church, and paying the salaries of the officials connected with it. The church rates were made by the churchwardens, together with the parishioners duly assembled after proper notice in the vestry or the church. The rates thus made were recoverable in the ecclesiastical court, or, if the arrears did not exceed £10 and no questions were raised as to the legal liability, before two justices of the peace. Any payment not strictly recognized by law made out of the rate destroyed its validity. The church rate was a personal charge imposed on the occupier of land or of a house in the parish, and, though it was compulsory, much difficulty was found in effectually applying the compulsion. This was especially so in the case of Nonconformists, who had conscientious objections to supporting the Established Church; and in Ireland, where the population was preponderantly Roman Catholic, the grievance was specially felt and resented.

The objections of the Nonconformists were not only on principle. The Church of England received financial support from Parliament, while their own congregations were totally dependent on voluntary contributions. They did not want to have to support another parish as well as their own. Enforcement of the rate was not uniform across the country. Resolutions were passed protesting against the rate, and societies to abolish the church rate were formed all over the country. In 1836 at a public meeting in London, a central committee, the Church Rate Abolition Society was formed to co-ordinate the efforts of local Societies. In 1837, Parliament made two concessions to the Nonconformists, a more acceptable marriage ceremony, and the civil registration of births, deaths and marriages. But the parish rate remained compulsory until 1868. The Whig leader in the House of Commons, Lord John Russell, supported the rate. But in 1856 The Times called the government's attention to what the editor believed was a civil war raging throughout the country on the church rate question.

Eventually, in 1868, the Compulsory Church Rates Abolition Act was passed. By this Act church rates are no longer compulsory on the person rated, but are merely voluntary, and those who are not willing to pay them are excluded from inquiring into, objecting to, or voting in respect of their expenditure.

Jonathan Hatton born 1803

In the early 1860's here at Mattishall Jonathan Hatton, together with other non-conformists of the village refused to pay these rates. The Mattishall church wardens took the matter to the courts. Jonathan was singled out as an example and for the next seven years the church wardens pursued him through the courts where judgment went against him. The result was he was forced into bankruptcy as the legal and court costs had continued to increase. His business, home and land sold from beneath him. The act was abolished in 1868 but the stress had taken its toll and Jonathan died on July 17th 1870 aged 67.

Jonathan was born in 1803 and baptised on July 13th at All Saints Church, the son of Thomas Hatton and Eunice Webster, they had married in the same church on November 11th 1794. Jonathan became a baker by trade and on January 22nd 1833 married Ann Phillips a single women of Mattishall again at All Saints. They had three children, Alfred born 1833, who was baptised at All Saints but by 1836 when their son James was born they had joined the Congregational Church on Badley Moor known locally as Old Moor Chapel. Their daughter Clara was also baptised there in 1839. From all account the family had the property known as 'The Laurels' on what is now Dereham Road, two doors up from The Eight Ringers puplic house and next door to John Hoy a clock and watch maker. On the side of the property was a bakers and shop, Jonathan was also recorded as a farmer. Ann died in 1840 aged 36 and was buried on Dec 17th at All Saints churchyard.

Jonathan remarried on October 24th 1844 to Charlotte Vassar, a spinster, by licence at All Saints, they both signed. George Horne and his sister Emily were witnesses. Charlotte was baptised at All Saints Church Mattishall on August 23rd 1819, the daughter of George Vassar a farmer of Mattishall and Mary Tooley. Jonathan and Charlotte had no children. Following Jonathan's death in 1870, Charlotte remarried to William Edwards a retired farmer at Norwich in 1874 and lived at South Green Mattishall next door to the White House puplic house. In 1901, Charlotte now 81 was living at 87 Wodehouse Street, Norwich, where she was recorded as living on own means. She died in 1908 aged 89.

Below are several newspaper article that followed the proceedings:

1861: Jan 12 - Norfolk News - THE MATTISHALL CHURCH-RATE CASE.
This case came before the bench on Friday—the magistrates present being G. L. Press, G. Hyde, and R. C. Browne. Esqrs, before whom Mr Jonathan Hatton, of Mattishall, farmer, appeared in answer to a summons obtained by the churchwardens of that parish, to show cause why he refused to pay 11s 1d, for church-rates. The form of notice and minutes of the vestry at which the rate was made having been produced, the bench asked the defendant his reason for refusing to pay the demand of the church-wardens.
Mr. Hatton replied that he considered it an unjust Claim.
The Chairman, - Do you question the validity of the rate?
Mr. Hatton - The amount is excessive, and a former rate is not yet collected.
The Chairman - How do you show that the rate is excessive?
Mr. Hatton - I am prepared to do so, sir, if necessary. It is not according to law.
Mr. Hatton then handed a document to the bench, of which the following is a copy:
"To the Justices of the Peace, sitting at East Dereham, in the County of Norfolk, on the 4th of January, 1861 - I Jonathan Hatton, being summoned to appear before you for non-payment of a certain church-rate, for the parish of Mattishall, alleged to have been made on the 22nd of Nov last, I hereby give you notice, that being advised that the said rate is not made according to law, I hereby I formally dispute the validity thereof, and require you to dismiss the summons, in accordance with the Act of 53 George III, chap.127, sec 7. JONATHAN HATTON.” - "Jan 4th, 1861"
The Chairman - You State that the rate has not been collected according to law, but you don't say how.
Mr. Hatton - I considered before I came here that the court could not adjudicate in the case. The ground on which I refuse to pay is, part of the parish are excused; and if one person can get off, surely another may. The sum asked for (£28) is many pounds over the sum wanted.
The Chairman asked the churchwardens how much money was required for the parish use.
A Churchwarden - About £17, but part of the parishioners have been excused, although rated, on account of poverty.
Mr. Hatton - Who is so poor that they cannot pay a three-halfpenny rate? I do not like to pay other peoples' share. If all paid, a penny rate would be sufficient.
In answer to enquiries from the bench, Mr. Edwards, one of the churchwardens, stated that no amendment was proposed at the time the rate was made; it was carried by a majority.
Mr. Hatton – A protest was made.
The Chairman (to Mr Edwards) - When did you demand the rate' from Mr Hatton?
Mr Edwards - On the Monday before the summons was taken out - the 17th of November.
Mr. Hatton—I shall certainly appeal to the Ecclesiastical Court if ordered to pay it.
The bench after consultation considered that they could not adjudicate, and must therefore dismiss the case. Mr. Hatton applied for costs, but they were re-fused.

1864: Mar 12 - Norfolk Chronicle - CHURCH-RATES
Several parishioners of the parish of Mattishall were summoned for non-payment of church rates. The defendants are all dissenters, and their names, with the amounts due from each, are as under:—the Rev. Henry Kiddle, independent minister, 7d; James Darby, 5d; Jonathan Hatton, is. 6s 8d; Stephen Dunthorne, Is. 2½d; Peter Tooley, 4s. 03¾d; Alfred Hatton, 6¾d; Henry Beckett, 10¾d; Robert Middleton, 10d; Christmas Toffts, 7d; Clare Fisher, Is. 5d; Thomas Fisher, Is. 0½d; Mr Drake appeared on behalf of the churchwardens, who laid the information; and Mr Chittock, instructed by Mr J H Tillett, who was unable to attend, for all the defendants except the Rev, H. Kiddie. The first case taken was that of Alfred Hatton for refusing to pay 6¾ d, being the sum rated and assessed upon him by the churchwardens on the 10th of September last, and which was justly due. Mr Drake showed, from the evidence of the churchwarden (Mr Edwards), that a notice had been placed on the church door, on the 5th of September last, calling a meeting on the 10th of the same month, for the purpose of laying a rate, and that a rate of 1d in the pound had accordingly been granted by a majority of the assembled vestry meeting, and the rate book duly signed by the magistrates. He had afterwards called upon Mr. Hatton for his quota of 6¾d and been refused payment. Mr Chittock objected that the complaint had been made by only one churchwarden, and also that the notice did not specify whether the meeting was to be held in the morning or afternoon; but the bench overruled the objection. Mr Chittock then objected that the previous rate had not all been collected; but in answer to the question Mr Edwards said he did not think there was any of the old rate uncollected. He had himself paid for several persons who had refused payment on former occasions. The amount of the rate was about £13, being Id. in the pound on the assessment of £4,488. Mr Chittock also submitted that although his client had not paid Mr Edwards, it had not been proved that he had not paid the other churchwarden, whereupon Mr Gowing was then sworn, and deposed - I have not received any rate from Mr Hatton. I have never demanded it. By the Bench - I am not prepared to answer the question, whether I concurred with Mr Edwards in making the demand on Mr Hatton (After some hesitation) I do not approve of these proceedings in my personal capacity, but I am determined to do my duty as churchwarden, and as such I do concur with my fellow churchwarden. - Mr Chittock voted from Prideaux, that if there be a rate uncollected, such uncollected rate being sufficient, and the churchwardens able by their own exertion, to collect it, the court would refuse to recognise the validity of the new rate. Mr Edwards, by his own admission, had neglected to ask for the old rate. Mr Hyde observed that the witness had not said the rate would be sufficient if collected. An order was made upon the defendant, with costs. There being a refusal to pay, a distraint will be made upon defendant's goods.
Jonathan Hatton, father of the defendant in the previous case, was then called upon to show cause why he had not paid his church-rate, amounting to 6s 8d. - Mr Chittock, on behalf of Mr Hatton, handed in a protest against the power of the magistrates to adjudicate upon the matter, as he intended to appeal to a higher court, and stating as his objections to pay, that the rate was illegal, because at the vestry meeting some persons had voted who had not a right to do so, that the rate was excessive and unnecessary. The protest was also endorsed by the following persons, who had likewise been summoned: - James Darby, Peter Troley, Henry Beckett, Stephen Dunthorne, Robert Middleton, Clare Fisher, Christmas Tofts, and Thomas Fisher. - Mr. Drake submitted that his friend, Mr Chittock, had made a mistake in having had the previous case tried first, as in that it had been fully proved that the rate was not unnecessary, as the churchwardens had no funds in hand, neither were there any arrears of a former rate that they could collect. That the rate could not be called excessive, inasmuch as £13 was a vary moderate sum to be asked for in a large parish like Mattishall; and that if any persons had voted at the vestry meeting who were not entitled to do so, the objection to those persons should have been made then. - Mr Chittock urged that the first defendant had chosen his own line of defence, but it by no means showed that weightier objections could not be brought is the present case. It was for a higher court to decide whether those objections were valid. He should not go into the question before the magistrates, but having protested against their authority to try the case, he should leave them to adopt what coarse they thought proper. - Mr. Drake argued that it was for the magistrate to decide whether the objections were bona fide or not, and quoted the decision of Mr. Justice Crompton in the "Reg v Blackburn." - Mr. Chittock contended that it was not part of their province to decide whether those objections were made bona fide or not, - Chairman: Justice Crompton thought otherwise.—Mr. Chittack could not understand the meaning of the act at all if that was the case. The act said, "If the defendant disputes the validity of the-rate, or his liability to pay it, the justices must forbear to proceed." There was nothing as to justices inquiring whether the objections were bona fide or not. He argued that by each inquiry they would be undertaking the duty of a higher court. - After some discussion, at the close of which, in answer to the bench, Mr Chittock said his clients considered themselves bound to go to the Ecclesiastical Court, the magistrates declined to adjudicate.
The cases of Messrs. Darby, Dunthorne, Tooley, Beckett, Middleton, Tofts, and C. and S. Fisher, were next called, and the some objections were pleaded. - Mr Drake asked the justices to adjourn those, in order. that some opinion might be taken on the disputed point.—The magistrates consented to do so.
Rev. Henry Kiddle, dissenting minister, was then called upon to show cause why be had not paid his rate of 7d. - Mr Drake, as before appeared for the churchwardens; Mr Kiddie conduct his own case. - Mr. Kiddie; My objections to pay are that a church-rate is unscriptural, unrighteous, and unjust. I consider it unjust to tax the whole of the community for the benefit of one sect. I shall never pay. You may seize my property (and it is not much) in my house or on my premises. - An order was made for payment of the rate and costs.

1864: Mar 12 - Norfolk News - THE CHURCH'S FOES - OF ITS OWN HOUSEHOLD
CHURCHMEN are complaining every dog of the assaults made on the Church by the Liberation Society, political Dissenters, and other enemies of its peace. We wish to set them right and point them to their real danger. So strong is the Church in its territorial power, in its interlaced and interlocked connection the great families and many of the principle corporations of England, and in its traditional hold on the affections of the English people, that no antagonistic society, no attack from without, could shake its deep foundations or tear apart its mighty fastenings. It is a giant and stronger than a giant, because rooted deep in the soil. It is as strong as Babylon and three carriages abreast could course along the top of the Babylonian ramparts.
If the Church of England, as an Established Church falls, as fall it assuredly will – it will not be in the hands of the Liberation Society, or the political Dissenters, or of any outside antagonist Treachery or folly from within will be its ruin - its foes will be of its own household. The Popish continent within the camp is at this moment under-mining it, and is in active correspondence with the Romish forces outside. Brother Ignatius is a foe in the household. The Tractarian contingent, more cautious than the men in sacks, are working more effectually still to ruin the Church. And the Rationalistic contingent - perhaps the busiest of all just now - like ichneumon flies, are eating out the vital principle of the Church's body of divinity. These are your real foes, 0 much-distressed Church of England! - by man established, but, it would seem, by God for a time forsaken.
Matters will grow worse, before they grow better. The foes within will grow bolder. The Church may look for trouble upon trouble, if, as an Established Church, it be doomed to fall. Slavery in America affords an illustration of the probable fate of the spirit, slavery of the English Church under its civil rulers. The South rebelled to preserve slavery. The North had no notion of destroying it - only of recovering the seceded States. But a higher hand led them by a way they knew not of, and is leading them still. The Abolitionists - the Liberation Society of America—could not have given the death blow to slavery. Its foes are of its own household – of the Southern house of bondage. The South by its folly will free the slave, rather than the North by its power. So will it be with the "hereditary bondsmen” of the Church of England – “themselves will strike the blow."
We must not overlook in our list of the Church's foes, the little band of stretch-the-law tyrants, who, like the old Babylonians, are persecuting at the very moment that they are being themselves beleaguered and betrayed. There is a reverend rector at Mattishall, of the name of Du Pont, who is setting the parish by the ears, breathing out threatening and slaughter in his own pitiful, or, rather, pitiless fashion. At this critical moment he puts the law in motion against a number of his parishioners, particularly against a poor, hard-working, ill-paid Dissenting parson of the name of Kiddle, who we will answer for it does ten times as much good as the lordly rector, for one-tenth of his pay. And this poor Mr Kiddle is sued, and is to be distrained upon, for a Church-rate of seven-pence, to pay for sundry little jobs done to the Church, and for the gravelling of the walk along which Churchmen go to worship the God of love and justice. The proud follower of the meekest of masters seem to enjoy it as a luxury, that he can make the little conventicler pay against his conscience. A foe in the Church's household, still he may think that he is helping the Church, by making a despot of it, and by showing that the Christian dispensation is more rigorous and exacting than was the Jewish. We would remind his "harder than a Jewish heart," that the stern rulers of the bygone dispensation would not have dishonored God by compelling contribution to His service. This successor of the Apostles despises, too, his great Christian predecessors, for the greatest of them all said, "Let no Man give grudgingly " - yet he will have his seven-pence, however grudgingly. Still ho may think that he is a friend of his Church. We think he is one of the bitterest of its foe, for were all clergymen like him, the Church of England could not live through even the remainder of this year of grace.
Mr. Du Pont, it may be, is not worthy of this notice; and were it not that we know that some tens of thousands will read these words of ours, and ponder them, we would not have troubled ourselves about a man who could distress a brother-minister for a paltry seven-pence, demanded and exacted in violence to his known conviction, and in an unchristian spirit of disregard for his laborious service rendered to the common faith.
We thus briefly point out to Church of England men where their real dangers lie - in the inner Popery, the inner Rationalism, the inner bigotry of their own communion. If these "devils" be not exorcised, they will mangle the Church and tear it in pieces.
Some Churchmen may affect to laugh at this. It will be seen one day who has the best right to laugh, if any should laugh, where everything on all sides is serious enough. If the Church of England, as it is, can stand - Romanized, Rationalized, and bigot-ridden - it will effectually refute the Word, which has declared that "a house divided against itself CANNOT STAND." No house, since houses first began to be, was ever more "divided" than this.

To the Editor of the Norfolk News - SIR—May I trouble you for a short space in your columns for a few remarks in reference to the Mattishall church-rate cases, brought before the magistrates at East Dereham on the 4th of this month. Being one of the parties summoned, I desire to speak for myself, for the anti-rate party at Mattishall generally, and for the interests of religious equality.
The Dissenters of Mattishall are charged by the friends of the church, with being the originators of the present strife, and with designing the destruction of the church. This, I can most emphatically deny. It is a base and wicked slander, got up with a design to excite prejudice against Dissenter’s, and to justify the unrighteous proceedings of compelling them to pay for a system of religion in which they do not believe, and from which they derive no benefit. There has been no necessity for the making of this rate.
The feeling of the parishioners generally is against a compulsory rate, and in favor of voluntaryism.
Mr Gowing, one of the churchwardens, would willingly have raised the necessary funds by voluntary contribution, and I believe, offered a handsome sum himself to begin with. The Dissenters have never objected to a voluntary rate. They have no desire to see the fabric fall into decay, and I do not know of one who would not be willing to contribute voluntarily much more than the amount of his rate, if needed.
It was clearly shown before the magistrates that the feelings of the vicar's churchwarden were against suck unrighteous proceedings; and if the parish churchwarden's statements, made elsewhere, are to be credited, he is also opposed to them. The vicar of Mattishall is therefore the principal originator of this conflict.
A word or two in reference to some statements made by Mr William Edwards. He stated distinctly when cross-examined by Mr Chittock, in reference to the collection of the old rate that he did not ask me for that rate, but that he paid it himself for me. There are many persons who heard him make this statement. Now, sir, my name was not even on the rate-books of the parish at the time. I was then living in the mill cottage belonging to Mr E Sendall, I paid him so much per quarter for the house, he paying all rates, &c. I have examined the rate-books for the truth of this statement.
I am, &c yours, HENRY KIDDLE, Mattishall, March 15th, 1864.

On Tuesday last, the village of Mattishall, which has recently been prominently brought forward by the notorious church-rate proceedings, was the scene of a most disgraceful disturbance in connection with the election of a churchwarden. The poll was fixed by the vicar at the Swan Inn, between the hours of ten and four o'clock. The adjournment of the vestry to this place had been protested against by the liberal party, and most likely a question will be raised upon this point as to the validity of the election. It was arranged that none but ratepayers should vote, but this condition, it is said, was afterwards broken by the vicar. The reports which have reached us charge the supporters of Mr Edwards with intimidation and other unfair and illegal acts. From one o'clock up to the close of the poll voters for Mr Hatton were insulted by drunken fellows, who flourished their sticks, and yelled, shrieked, and groaned in a most horrid manner. An intoxicated ruffian was swearing and using the foulest of language, sometimes staggering into the room where the polling was going on to the great annoyance of the voters. There were numerous instances in which Hatton's supporters were collared by people who bawled out, "You must vote for Edwards," and who then introduced then into the room as "Another voter for Edwards." At the close of the poll it was arranged that two half-barrels of beer should be brought into the street to be given to these who had voted for Edwards - and thereupon a scene took place which baffles all description. Some half drunken wretches having bored holes through the ends of the barrels put their months to the holes and sucked out the beer, while others got it out of the taps and drank till they could drink no more. Even young children were made beastly drunk. A band of music arrived from Hockering. An effigy meant for the independent minister, dressed in a black coat and trousers, and a chummy hat, was carried round and round the church by the drunken rabble, headed by the band, and then burned. A tea-pot was tied round the neck of the effigy, and as the crowd followed it, many blasphemous threats were uttered. A fresh order for ten shillings' worth of beer having been given, the rabble started off in procession, stopping at the houses of many of the Hatton party, yelling and swearing, and sometimes throwing missiles at the doors. On arriving at the residence of the Rev H Kiddle another effigy was exhibited. The rev gentleman calmly walked out of his study and crossed the road, but his present, checked for a time the violence of the mob. On returning to the town, however, every person with whom the rioters came into contact was insulted notwithstanding the remonstrances of the curate whose voice was drowned by hisses with which the crowd received his observations.
The night was finished up with ravelling, fighting and dissipation, to the great annoyance of the peaceful inhabitants of the village. Two persons in particular are said to have been most seriously outraged during the disturbances. We have the names of the persons who are said to have been at the bottom of these infamous proceedings; and if they don't come before the public in another form, we may ourselves give them the publicity they deserve. It is only right for us to add that the above report comes from persons who no doubt were aggrieved by the proceedings. We have every reason to believe that the report is unexaggerated, but as we trust that we shall always deal faithfully with facts, if the vicar or his friends have anything to say, our columns are open to them.

1864: Apr 20 - Norwich Mercury - PETTY SESSIONS:
Friday. [Before G L Press, Esq. (Chairman), Captain Bulwer, and George Hyde. and R C BROWN, Esqs.]
THE PROCEEDINGS AT MATTISHALL. - The greater part of the day was occupied in hearing cases of assault, which arose out of the recent proceedings in the village of Mattishall. The first case taken was
Frederick Edwards, farmer, of Mattishall, charged by John Beckett, coal carter, of the same place, with assaulting him on the 10th of April.
Mr Chittock, of Norwich, appeared for the complainant and Mr Drake for the defendant.
Mr Chittock said on Monday, the 4th inst, the election for a parish churchwarden of Mattishall took place, and upon that occasion a candidate was proposed by the Church, and another by the dissenting party. One was Mr Edwards, and the other Mr Hatton. Upon a poll being taken, Mr. Edwards was declared to be elected church warden, and to celebrate their triumph, they carried an effigy round the town and burned it. He should show that there were two effigies carried round and burnt. After the first had been burnt, some persons, who appeared to be very liberal, gave three half barrels of beer to such persons as liked to partake of It. One of the persons who appeared to be very forward in all these proceedings was the defendant. He went round the town with the first effigy, and, having partaken of the beer, he followed the second. When the second effigy was about a hundred yards from Mr. Kiddle's house, complainant did throw a sod at it. It did not strike anyone, and that was the only sod he threw the whole time the effigy was being carried round the town. Defendant then 'struck complainant, blackening his eye, which was the assault complained of. Complainant, a lad, stated that on Monday, the 4th inst, a good deal of rioting took place at Mattishall Mr William Edwards the successful candidate, was uncle to the defendant. After the close of the pull he saw an effigy carried past his house by young Edward Edwards. Defendant was walking behind shouting "Kiddle-a-wink," &c. The effigy was dressed in a suit of black, and a white cravat, and when the procession drew near the Rev H Kiddle's house, complainant threw a sod at it, but it passed over, not striking anyone. When about 30 or 40 yards from Mr. Kiddle's house, a lad named Laing pulled a sod from the roadside, gave him half of it, and threw the other half at the figure, but could not strike it. Defendant then turned round and struck complainant on the temple with his fist, knocking him backwards. His eye was slightly blackened from that blow. He then informed his father of what had happened, and they both went up to defendant, who said to Mr Beckett "I will serve you the same. I will knock your b— skull off," at the same time "drawing his guard."
By Mr Drake - Did not see a sod strike Edwards; nor the dirt on his back and neck. Saw only three or four sods thrown; there might have been more. Edwards did not tell him not to pull his father's bank about when he had the sod. He did not know what he was going to do with the sod he had in his hand; he might have thrown it at the effigy. Edwards never said anything to him or Laing about throwing sods - he near said “If you don't leave off throwing those sods I will serve you out." Young Osborn, who was walking with Edward’s called out.
William Laing, of Mattishall, the lad who was in company with complainant, said he saw the first effigy that was carried round on the 4th instant. After that effigy was burnt he saw two half barrels of beer brought out against the church wall. Defendant was present and had some beer. After they had refreshed themselves they had a band and went to Mr Culyer’s, where they had another effigy, and when nearing Mr Kiddle’s house Beckett threw a sod at the image which was dressed in black with a good sized white neck tie. There was a paper upon it, with the word "Kiddle-a-wink," it was said that it was intended for Mr Kiddle; it was burnt. A tea pot was tied round the neck, because he (Mr Kiddle) was a teetotaller. There was no name upon the first effigy. Witness picked up a sod and gave Beckett half, but be did not throw it.
By Mr Drake, - He heard the people say it was intended for Mr Kiddie. Edwards said it was Mr. Kiddle, and halloed “Kiddle-a-wink" They said it was Mr Kiddle, and “let us go to his house and give him a groan” Mr Edwards and all the church party called out "Here comes Kiddle." Witness threw two or three sods, Beckett threw one; he did not see anyone else throw any.
Henry Beckett said his son (the complainant) spoke to him about being struck by Edwards. When he asked Edwards the reason why be did so, he replied that he would serve him the same, and knock his b— head off in about two minutes. His son's eye was blackened.
Cross-examined - Edwards did not say he would serve him the same if he threw sods at him. He did not complainant had thrown sods at him. He offered no justification whatever for striking the boy.
Mr Drake said he should contradict the statement which had been made. He should show that on that occasion those boys followed that procession - for a lawful or un-lawful purpose it was unnecessary for that matter to inquire into - and that they, during the whole time of the procession, were continually throwing sods of grass amongst the crowd, until at last it became to great a nuisance that Osborne, at all events, expostulated with then. He should show also that Beckett threw one of those sods, which hit Mr Edward, in the back of his neck, and Mr Edwards turned round - having before cautioned him - and struck at him. James Osborne, of Mattishall, who was walking beside defendant in the procession, said Beckett and Laing, who were in the crowd, threw sods. Edwards told them to leave off several times, but they continued "sodding.' Beckett threw one after Laing, and it hit Edwards on the head. Edwards "dropped unto him" once, and said, "Now you have got it." Witness saw Beckett throw that sod.
Cross-examined, - Some dirt fell upon witness when they were throwing at the figure.
Thomas Brasnett, and another witness named Vincent, corroborated.
Case dismissed.
George Edwards, of Mattishall, farmer, pleaded not guilty to a charge of assaulting Nicholas Tofts, a young man, a cattle dealer, of the same place, on the 4th inst.
The same legal gentlemen appeared as to the last case.
Complainant and defendant were in the kitchen of the George Inn, Mattishall, on the polling day. Defendant got up, as complainant thought, to go, but as he passed him he cheered and put his head close to his seeming as though he meant to spit upon him. Edwards repeated this conduct over the settle, and then returned to complainant, round whose neck he put his arms and rubbed his coat buttons against his face. When defendant knocked his ht off, he said to "Go on you silly —." Defendant said, "I will put you up the chimney, or on the fire, which you like." He told him which he liked, and thereupon defendant said he would "give him one," and struck him on the head. He had not given defendant the slightest provocation. Cross-examined, - Defendant swore at him, but he did not abuse defendant when he left the kitchen. He never told the defendant that he would pull him for it, and if he could do more to him than the magistrates he would do it. Culyer was not present, and did not say, "You can do nothing to him, be hasn’t hurt you, or imitated to do so." He did not tread upon defendant's toes, act rudely to him, or touch him with his stick. Francis Palmer was in the George public house at the time in question, and saw Tofts and defendant. After defendant sat upon complainant's knee and rubbed his face, complainant used the expression before stated, when witness said, "Don't fall out."
Cross-examined, - He did not see Culyer present, he had been there. They had been talking about Whigs and Tories, churchmen and dissenters, but witness added, "If you are a Whig and I'm a Tory, that is no reason why we should fall out." (Laughter.) Witness thought it was a lark, "But larks," he observed with good humour, "sometimes turn out to be linnets," (Laughter.)
Mr. Drake called for the defence.
Charles Culyer, who said he was in the George at the time complainant and defendant differed upon the election question. When Edwards was leaving the room Tofts said, "Go on you ---." Edwards returned and took him by the neck and said he would put him up the chimney, "but," witness added with naïveté, “he didn’t." Edwards just brushed Tofts' face and said, I have a good mind to hit you but I won't." After that Tofts said if he could he would pull him to a higher Court than the magistrate.
This case was also dismissed, the magistrates thinking it a trumpery charge.
There was a further charge of assault laid by Nicholas Tofts against the same defendant.
Mr. Chittock appeared for the complainant; and Mr Drake defended.
The particulars of this assault are shortly these - Mr Tofts, on Sunday, the 8th of April, after the summons was served in the last case, saw George Edward's in Mattishall. He did not speak to him, but defendant, without any provocation, spat upon his face and blew his nose upon his coat. He did not speak to him at all. Charles Fisher corroborated.
Mr Drake said Edwards was smoking his pipe at the time - so he said - and did not intend to do it. They had had complainant before them in a previous case, and did not believe his testimony, and he put it to them whether it was at all probable he had told the truth in the case before them. Mr Tofts and Mr Fisher's father were each summoned with reference to the church rates
Mr. Chittock, - What has that to do with it Mr. Drake said it showed the animus will which these cases were brought before the Bench, and he added they were not to perpetuate parish feuds by giving the triumph to either party. He asked them therefore to dismiss the summons.
Fisher (recalled) said defendant went up to complainant, and commenced the assault,
Fined 5s, and £1 1s. 6d costs.

1864: May 25 - Teesdale Mercury - Extension of the Church-rate War
The Liberator, the monthly organ of the Liberation Society' chronicles nearly forty church-rate contests in the last month. It appears that in many places these contests have taken place for the first time, and the result has been in favour of the voluntary principle. In come other town’s peculiar, but not very pleasant, incidents have been introduced. Thus the church vestry at Mattishall, in Norfolk, was celebrated with barrels of beer opened in the streets, at which men and children, according to a local report, were made drunk by the score. Afterwards the dissenting minister was burnt in effigy.
Several other towns are mentioned ……………
At Dent, near Kendal, three dissenters have been elected churchwardens. At Buntingford, the vicar and landowners have declared themselves opposed to a compulsory rate. Other towns have for the first time adopted without, pressure the voluntary system.

1865: May 6 - Berkshire Chronicle - CHURCH RATE CASE
At the Arches Court on Wednesday two church rate cases were decided, one of which was of a novel character. In the case "Edwards and Mann v Hatton," the Dean of Arches said the question was a peculiar one. The rate was alleged to be bad in law, because the defendant was charged with a less sum than he ought to pay. It was certainly the first case of the kind, and the question was whether his responsive allegation should be admitted. The plaintiffs were churchwardens of Mattishall, in Norfolk, and the defendant one of the parishioners. The court allowed the allegation to be admitted, and the case was ordered to proceed to hearing. It would then be seen whether on the novel question raised the rate was unequal or unjust. At present the defendant could not be considered an aggrieved party.

1865: Nov 11 - Norwich Mercury - MATTISHALL
The Rev Henry Kiddle, congregational minister, having recently resigned the charge of the Congregationalists in this place, preached farewell sermons on Sunday last. The morning congregation was huge, but in the evening the place was literally crammed, and many could not gain admittance. The feeling in the evening was very solemn; many persons wept aloud, Mr. Kiddle himself being at times nearly overcome. The large congregation and the great attention paid to the discourses, show the great respect in which Mr. Kiddle is held by most people in the place. Mr. Kiddie will for the present reside in Norwich.

Jan 19 - Norfolk Chronicle - EDWARDS AND MANN v. HATTON.
This was another suit to enforce a church-rate. The parties the plaintiffs as churchwardens, and the defendant, a parishioner lived at Mattishall, Norfolk. The defendant was directed to pay the rate and condemned in the costs, amounting to £369 12s 11d. Mr Moore appeared as proctor, and to obtain payment of the bill of costs, “porrected" it to his Lordship. He swore that he had expended the amount mentioned in the bill. - His Lordship asked whether anyone appear for the defendant. - Mr. Moore answered in the negative. - The Dean of Arch, pronounced for the bill of costs, and decreed payment against the defendant.

May 18 - Norfolk Chronicle - COURT OF BANKRUPTCY, LONDON. FRIDAY, MAY 10.
(Before EDWARD HOLROYD, Esq.) - RE, J. HATTON - The bankrupt. Jonathan Hatton described as of Mattishall, in the county of Norfolk, farmer, came up and applied to pass his examination and for his order of discharge. He attributed his bankruptcy to the - pressure of creditors and the proceedings of the churchwardens of Mattishall, "Mr Renard (Treherne, Whites, and Renard), of Barge-yard Chambers, represented the creditors' assignee, Mr. William Runacres, of the city of Norwich, gentleman; and Mr. Laurence, of Old Jewry Chambers, appeared for Mr William Edwards and Mr John Mann. - The bankrupt stated his unsecured debts to be £392 13s. 9d, and due to creditors holding security £147 7s 10d, which he thus described, vis. - Joseph Everett, merchant Norwich, and Sir Samuel Bignold, Norwich, Knight, £147 7s 10d. "On the 19th of April. 1862, I and my wife, Charlotte Hatton, executed a mortgage to the above-named creditors to secure £400 and interest at 5 per cent per annum. The property comprised in such mortgage consisted first of two tenements and bake-office in Mattishall then belonging to me in fee. Secondly, the one-sixth part of share to which my said wife is presumptively entitled in remainder in fee after the death of her father, George Vassar, of and in a farm-house and buildings and about 42 acres of land at Mattishall aforesaid, and the adjoining parish of Welborne; and also one-sixth part or share to when my said wife is presumptively entitled in remainder in fee, expectant upon the death of the said George Vassar and Mary his wife, in a cottage and eleven acres three roods of land in Mattishall and Welborne aforesaid, but subject to a power vested in the said George Vassar and Mary his wife to revoke the trusts now affecting the said hereditaments. Thirdly, the reversionary sixth part or share of the same as one of the children of the said George Vassar, in certain trust monies made payable to such children after the death of the survivor of them the said George Vassar and Mary his wife. The mortgage deed contains a covenant on my part for payment of the said principal money and interest, and acceleration that is between me and my said wife. The hereditaments firstly mentioned should be solely charged with and liable to the said sum of £400 and interest. The said mortgagees in September, 1866, sold the tenements and bake-office and received the proceeds in part discharge of their mortgage security. They had previously sued me and signed judgment for the whole principal sum of £400 and interest, and under fear of their levying under such judgment I sold part of my last year's corn and paid them further sums on account, leaving the above balance of £147 7s, 10d due to such mortgagees at the time of filing my petition. In April, 1866, Mr E W Crosse, my proctor in the suit instituted against me by Messrs. Edwards and Mann, obtained a judgment against me in an action brought by him for recovery of his costs, and I sold part of my last year's crops to make payments to him on account of his judgment, but on the 11th of February last the said Edward Crosse levied an execution and sold all my remaining crops, stock and effects to pay the balance, £165 13s. l0d, of his judgment and the half-year's rent then due”
After a brief discussion the Court adjourned the bankrupt's examination until the 20th of June next, at eleven o'clock, in order that Mr. Laurence might have an opportunity of examining the bankrupt's books.
Renewed protection from arrest was granted the bankrupt until the adjourned sitting.

Jun 26 - Norwich Mercury
Re J Hatton, - Bankrupt, a farmer, of Mattishall, applied for his discharge from debts of £392. It appeared that having resisted the payment of a rate due to the church-wardens of the parish of Mattishall, proceedings were commenced against him in the Ecclesiastical Court, and eventually an order was made for payment of the rate (6s 8d.) and the costs of the suit, which were taxed at no less than £369. This constituted practically the only debt upon the schedule. The bankrupt to his accounts made the following statement: - In April, 1866 Mr E W Crosse, my proctor in the suit instituted against me by Messrs. Edwards and Mann, obtained a judgment again me in an action brought by him for recovery of his costs, and I sold part of my last year's crop to make payments to him on account of his judgment ; but on the 4th of February last the said Mr Crosse levied execution and sold all my remaining crop, stock, and effects, to pay the balance (£l65.13s.10d), of his judgment and the half-year's-rent then due." Mr. Reynard, for the assignee, did not oppose; Mr. Bagley supported the bankrupt. Mr Lawrance, for the churchwardens of Mattishall, opposed, on the ground that the bankrupt, having exhausted his assets, had vexatiously defended the suit in the Ecclesiastical Court. The bankrupt in his evidence said that he was a Dissenter, and he had refused to pay the rate because he considered it illegal and unnecessary. By Mr Bagley, - He had occupied the farm at Mattishall, in Norfolk, for 22 years, and during that time had paid only one rate. He defended the suit upon the belief that he had a good defence to it, and he had been completely ruined in consequence. When the matter came before the magistrates they declined to interfere on the ground of want of jurisdiction. Mr Bagley said he was prepared to call Mr Crosse, the proctor, who would prove that the defence was well advised, but the learned Commissioner, after hearing Mr. Lawrance, said it was unnecessary to adduce further evidence. He was of opinion that, although the result of the suit had been most unfortunate and lamentable, there was no proof that the bankrupt had acted vexatiouily. The order of discharge would therefore be granted.

Sept 28 - Norfolk News - THE MATTLISHALL CHURCH-RATE CASE - To the Editor of the Norfolk
Sir - The following statement of facts respecting the late Mattishall church-rate case may interest some of your readers and possibly induce them to show their sympathy for the unfortunate defendant, Jonathan Hatton.
A large body of Nonconformists who reside in Mattishall and the neighbourhood have long felt strong repugnance to church-rates, whilst there, has been a firm determination on the part of members of the Church to enforce them.
Proceedings were commenced and finally Jonathan Hatton, a small farmer became defendant in suit in the Court of Arches, in which probably not less than a sum of upwards of £1000 has been spent.
Jonathan Hatton's means have been wasted in the payment of costs incurred by him, and by an execution under which the remnant of his affects were seized and the interest in his farm disposed of by the Sheriff. He is now in a most precarious state of health and his friends have advised him to endeavour to re-take the farm, which the present tenant is willing to relinquish to him.
The advocates of church-rates have, from a firm conviction of duty, subscribed to meet the churchwarden’s expenses; and it seems not reasonable to appeal to the Nonconformist body to help a poor man who has been bereft of all his property maintaining his conscientious objections to the payment of church rates.
The facts of this case are well known to the writer, and you are at full liberty to give his name to any one who desires further information, although for the present he subscribes himself, yours faithfully, A CITIZEN of Norwich - Norwich, 25th September. 1867.

Dec 14 - The Suffolk Chronicle; or Weekly General Advertiser & County Express
During the week a series of meetings have been held in St. Peter's Hall, Norwich, in connection with the Society for the Liberation of the Church from State Patronage and Control. On Tuesday afternoon a conference was held, at which a large body of the ministers and members of Nonconformist churches in the city and county were present. On the same evening and on the following evening public meetings were held in the same place. We give below reports of the proceedings.
Quite a bit on other business at this point……..
Mr R TELLYARD next proposed a resolution in relation to the Mattishall church-rate case as follows: - Mr Hatton, of Mattishall, having been prosecuted in a suit for non-payment of a church-rate, and having defended the suit under the advice of eminent counsel, and the decision having been adverse and resulting in his entire ruin, this conference recommends the case as one entitled to the sympathy and help of the friends of religious liberty in Norwich and elsewhere, and that a request be made to the Nonconformist Congregations in the county to render assistance in this matter by public collections.
Mr J COPEMAN seconded the resolution, and an animated conversation followed.
Mr J H TILLETT said it would be a part of a most excellent scheme if Nonconformists were to institute a system of collections in all their churches to sustain those who fell in the church-rate battle. They would then also prevent many an attack being made upon poor and helpless men. In Norfolk they were priest-ridden to a very great degree. They had High Churchism in some of its very worst forms. He thought the blackest spot in that respect in England might be found in the county of Norfolk. They ought all to work together, and join hands and hearts in behalf of their own weaker brethren who were fighting the battle in isolated places. [Loud Applause.]
Mr J B ALLEN proposed and Mr. LIVOCK seconded - That a request be sent from this meeting to the Nonconformist bodies in Norfolk that collections should be made on behalf of Mr. Hatton.
The Rev Mr KIDDLE, of Mattishall, spoke highly of Mr. Hatton's character, and of the distress that had fallen upon him in consequence of the struggle in which he had engaged.
A number of gentlemen spoke on this case and it transpired in the course of their remarks that the losses to which Mr Hatton had been subjected were between 5 - £600. A general feeling seemed to prevail that a subscription to the amount of £1000 should be at ones made to compensate the ‘'Mattishall Martyr," for his loss of time, money, and health, and several persons stepped forward to the chairman and handed up their subscriptions.
A committee was appointed to attend to this matter, and the conference then adjourned to partake of a cold collation.
On Tuesday evening a public meeting was held in St. Peter's Hall, for the purpose of discussing and adopting resolutions in approval of the principles and action of the society. The chair was occupied by Mr J H Tillett, and there was a large attendance the body of the hall being crowded.




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