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time), the result of Mr. Pegge's expectations was far from answering his then present wishes; for, when he thought himself secure by the Dean's nomination, and that nothing was wanting but the Bishop's licence, the Dean's right of Patronage was controverted by the Parishioners of Brampton, who brought forward a Nominee of their own.
The ground of this claim, on the part of the Parish, was owing to an ill-judged indulgence of some former Deans of Lincoln, who had occasionally permitted the Parishioners to send an Incumbent directly to the Bishop for his licence, without the intermediate nomination of the Dean in due form.
These measures were principally fomented by the son of the last Incumbent, the Rev. Seth Ellis, a man of a reprobate character, and a disgrace to his profession, who wanted the living, and was patronized by the Parish. He had a desperate game to play; for he had not the least chance of obtaining any preferment, as no individual Patron, who was even superficially acquainted with his moral character alone, could with decency advance him in the church. To complete the detail of the fate of this man, whose interest the deluded part of the mal-contents of the parish so warmly espoused, he was soon after c
suspended by the Bishop from officiating at Brampton*.
Whatever inducements the Parish might have" to support Mr. Ellis so strenuously we do not say, though they manifestly did not arise from any pique to one Dean more than to another; and we are decidedly clear that they were not founded in any aversion to Mr. Pegge as an individual; for his character was in all points too well established, and too well known (even to the leading opponents to the Dean), to admit of the least personal dislike in any respect. So great, nevertheless, was the acrimony with which the Parishioners pursued their visionary pretensions to the Patronage, that, not content with the decision of the Jury (which was highly respectable) in favour of the Dean, when the right of Patronage was tried in I748; they had the audacity to carry the cause to an Assize at Derby, where, on the fullest and most incontestable evidence, a verdict was given in favour of the Dean, to the confusion and indelible disgrace of those Parishioners who espoused so bad a cause, supported by the most undaunted effrontery.
* The Bishop's Inhibition took place soon after the decision of the cause at Derby, and was not revoked till late in the year 1758, which was principally effected by Mr. Pegge's intercession with his Lordship, stating Mr. Ellis's distressed circumstances, and his having made a proper submission, with a promise of future good behaviour. This revocation is contained in a letter addressed to Mr. Pegge, under the Bishop's own hand, dated Oct. 30, 1738.
The evidence produced by the Parish went to prove, from an entry made nearly half a century before in the accompts kept by the Churchwardens, that the Parishioners, and not the Deans of Lincoln, had hitherto, on a vacancy, nominated a successor to theBishop of the Diocese for his licence, without the intervention of any other person or party. The Parish accompts were accordingly brought into court at Derby, wherein there appeared not only a palpable erasement, but such an one as was detected by a living and credible witness; for, a Mr. Mower swore that, on a vacancy in the year 1704, an application was made by the Parish to the Dean of'Lincoln in favour of the Rev. Mr. Littlewood *.
In corroboration of Mr. Mower's testimony, an article in the Parish accompts and expenditures of that year was adverted to, and which, when Mr. Mower saw it, ran thus:
"Paid William Wilcoxon, for going to Lincoln to the Dean concerning Mr. Littlewood, five shillings.";
The Parishioners had before alleged, in proof of their title, that They had elected Mr. Littlewood; and, to uphold this asseveration, had clumsily altered the parish accompt-book, and inserted the words " to Lichfield to the Bishop," in the place of the words " to Lincoln to the Dean."
* We believe this witness to have been George Mower, Esq. of Wood-seats, in this county, who served the office of Sheriff in 1734. ¥ .
Thus their own evidence was turned against the Parishioners; and not a moment's doubt remained but that the patronage rested with the Dean of Lincoln.
We have related this affair without a strict adherence to chronological order as to facts, or to collateral circumstances, for the sake of preserving the narrative entire, as far as it regards the contest between the Dean of Lincoln and the Parish of Brampton; for we believe that this transaction (uninteresting as it may be to the publick in general) is one of very few instances on record which has an exact parallel.
The intermediate points of the contest, in which Mr. Pegge was more peculiarly concerned, and which did not prominently appear to the world, were interruptions and unpleasant impediments which arose in the course of this tedious process.
He had been nominated to the Perpetual Curacy of Brampton by Dr. Cheyney, Dean of Lincoln; was at the sole expence of the suit respecting the right of Patronage, whereby the verdict was given in favour of the Dean; and he was actually licensed by the Bishop of Lichfield. In consequence of this decision and the Bishop's licence, Mr. Pegge, not suspecting that the contest could go any farther, attended to qualify at Brampton, on Sunday, August 28, 1748, in the usual manner; but was repelled by violence from entering the Church.
In this state matters rested regarding the Patronage of Brampton, when Dr. Cheyney was unexpectedly transferred from the Deanry of Lincoln to the Deanry of Winchester, which (we may observe by the way) he solicited on motives similar to those which actuated Mr. Pegge at the very moment; for Dr. Cheyney, being a Native of Winchester, procured an exchange of his Deanry of Lincoln with the Rev. Dr. William George, Provost of Queen's college, Cambridge, for whom the Deanry of Winchester was intended by the Minister on the part of the Crown.
Thus Mr. Pegge's interests and applications were to begin de novo with the Patron of Brampton; for, his nomination by Dr. Cheyney, in the then state of things, was of no validity. He fell, however, into liberal hands; for his activity in the proceedings which had hitherto taken place respecting the living in question had rendered fresh advocates unnecessary, as it had secured the unasked favour of Dr. George, who not long after