Russell 1827

‘ Ingram Rectory, Alnwick,1827 ’

by

Eunice Shanahan

This is a letter written from London to Alnwick in Northumberland dated 1827. It is addressed to Messrs Russell, Solcrs Alnwick, and the filing note is 12th April 1827 Messrs Bell & Brodrick.

The writing is harder to read than we have found with most of our letters.

Charge is 1/1d for a distance between 300 and 400 miles and Alnwick is 311 miles from London. The London evening duty mark is double ring in black, the year in full and identifying code letter N at the left. The date is AP 12, the same date as the letter was written. This type was in use from 1823-1828 and used the codes A-Z.

So now to the letter, transcribed as well as possible, the words in brackets show what the abbreviated word could be.
Bow Ch Yd 12 Apl 1827
Dear Sir

Ingram Rectory

You will say if it be wished that this shld (should) be again advertised. We have not had one application. The House of Lords has this week decided that all bonds for resignation are simoniacal & void, which somewhat militates agt (against) the value of Church property.

If an immediate Curacy could be added it is possible we might find a purchaser

We are, Dear Sirs
Yours truly
Bell & Brodrick



Notes :
1) Although this looks like a straightforward letter, it is surprising what information has become available for people who are interested in the past. For example, in the case of the word simoniacal in the letter. A check in the Oxford English Dictionary shows
SIMONIACAL = GUILTY OF THE NATURE OF SIMONY. Which required a further check. This showed
SIMONY = BUYING OR SELLING OF ECCLESIASTICAL PREFERMENT.

Notes : from the Encyclopaedia Britannica on line

Simony, buying or selling of something spiritual or closely connected with the spiritual. More widely, it is any contract of this kind forbidden by divine or ecclesiastical law. The name is taken from Simon Magus (Acts 8:18), who endeavoured to buy from the Apostles the power of conferring the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Simony, in the form of buying holy orders, or church offices, was virtually unknown in the first three centuries of the Christian church, but it became familiar when the church had positions of wealth and influence to bestow. The first legislation on the point was the second canon of the Council of Chalcedon (451). From that time prohibitions and penalties were reiterated against buying or selling promotions to the episcopate, priesthood, and diaconate. Later, the offense of simony was extended to include all traffic in benefices and all pecuniary transactions on masses (apart from the authorized offering), blessed oils, and other consecrated objects.

From an occasional scandal, simony became widespread in Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries. Pope Gregory VII (107385) rigorously attacked the problem, and the practice again became occasional rather than normal. After the 16th century, it gradually disappeared in its most flagrant forms with the disendowment and secularization of church property.

That explained the word simoniacal, the next thing to check was what legislation was referred to in the letter. An internet search for Hansard for the week which included 12 April 1827 gave us the website for Parliament, including both houses, with contact details.

We sent an e-mail to the House of Lords Archives, and they replied overnight with a link to the archives which are online. I put in the search query for April 1827, Simoniacal and it brought up the document within 10 seconds.

The relevant document has a reference number of HL/PO/PU/1/1827/7&8G4n120 and the description of this particular Act f Parliament is .

An Act for the Relief of certain Spiritual Persons, and Patrons of Ecclesiastical Preferments, from certain Penalties; and rendering valid certain Bonds, Covenants, or other Assurances for the Resignation of Ecclesiastical Preferments.

It is unusual to find a personal letter with links to an actual Act of Parliament, and the incredible expansion of the information on the internet has made research like this so simple and fast.

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