Project Canterbury

A Tractarian at Work: A Memoir of Dean Randall

By J. F. Briscoe and H. F. B. Mackay

London: Mowbray, [1932]

Chapter VII. Lavington (III)

IN 1858 and the following year came the greatest troubles of Randall's time at Lavington. Mr. Edward Randall had arrived as curate in the autumn of 1856. He was no relation of the Rector's, and for convenience sake he was addressed as Mr. Edward. He was a quaint and eccentric person, and it subsequently transpired that, some years before, he had laid aside his clerical dress and gone about the country as a book-hawker. When his turn came to preach, he not seldom found himself unprepared; but this presented little difficulty to his eloquent Rector, who would take his place at a moment's notice, and record the fact serenely in his diary. In January, 1857, a Mr. Marigold was appointed to be master of the school, and about the same time Randall, whose musical enthusiasms were now at their strongest, obtained the services of a Mr. Harding, who undertook to maintain an efficient choir for the plainsong from among the villagers.

Mr. Edward, Mr. Marigold, and Mr. Harding were not in real sympathy with the Rector's ideals; they did not understand his aims, and they were not slow to discover signs of discontent among the parishioners. The people disliked the severe Gregorian music; they could not join easily in an intoned service; they were not sorry to have an excuse for shirking the very exacting demands made on them by the Rector's teaching.

To supplement the book he was using for the religious instruction of the children, Randall gave the schoolmaster a short statement explanatory of the five lesser sacraments. Mr. Edward obtained possession of the paper on the understanding that he would only use it for the purpose of referring it to a friend skilled in ecclesiastical law. But while Randall was away from home he sent it to two 'friends'; one was the Bishop of the Diocese; the other was The Times. This happened on February 3, 1858.

On receiving Mr. Edward's letter, the Bishop of Chichester, who did not know that Mr. Randall had returned home, wrote to Mr. Edward to ask if the schoolmaster was prepared to make an affidavit that he had been required to teach the children the contents of the paper. This greatly grieved Mr. Randall, and on February 9th he wrote a strong protest to the Bishop at his having communicated to the schoolmaster through the curate without first asking for explanations from himself. On the 10th Mr. Randall received a letter from the Bishop in which he accepted Mr. Randall's explanation and disclaimer 'so far as they go,' and asked why he had thought it necessary to trouble and perplex the minds of master and children over 'such nice and abstruse points.'

On the same day a letter came from Archdeacon Randall from London. The Bishop of Oxford and he had seen the Bishop of Chichester, and the Bishop of Oxford had defended 'the soundness and loyal Anglicanism of the Rector's views on the Sacraments.' The Archdeacon says that the Bishop of Chichester quite fully realizes the gross impropriety of the curate's conduct and would himself be entirely satisfied of the innocence of the Rector's intentions in the matter; but that he is very much afraid of having the matter brought out in The Times. The Bishop of Chichester had asked why the children should be taught anything about other sacraments; the Bishop of Oxford answered that it was necessary because of the Romanists near by, who were always taunting the Church of England with doing away with five sacraments.

The next stage of the Lavington case concerns the strange conduct of Mr. Edward. Mr. Edward had failed to get from the Bishop of Chichester the summary denunciation of the Rector's teaching for which he had hoped, and The Times had not inserted his letter. He had addressed a further letter to Lord Shaftesbury, but that peer, who rarely bent to the inferior clergy, had so far made no sign.

On Sunday the 14th Mr. Edward appeared at church, but sat in the congregation and refused to receive the Holy Communion from the Rector. The Rector was deeply wounded when the controversy was thus brought into the sanctuary. He observed that Mr. Edward was miserable and unhappy, and in a friendly way he begged him for his own comfort, and also to avoid the scandal which his refusing communion might cause in the parish, to resign his curacy and leave. Mr. Edward, however, declined to leave; he went off on a holiday but proposed to return when it was over. Meanwhile the following letters came from Bishop Wilberforce and Archdeacon Randall.

This is the Bishop's letter:


I would advise you to write to the Bishop of Chichester not so much with a Confession of Faith. I would write saying that having no leaning to Rome, no temptation to disloyalty to England, you feel that in your great anxiety to guard your people against the Roman objection you were too incautious as to such expressions because you knew you had no tendencies that way. That you have never for an instant taught that there was an}' Equality of Seven Sacraments, but have strongly brought out the two. That you were trying only to guard your children against the objection actually made that we had deprived them of five Sacraments. That you have really said not one word more than Thorndyke said. But that you trust you have learned a lesson which you shall always be the better for, and that if the Bishop can set you free from the charge and from your curate, you trust you shall have learned so much as to enable you to give him no more trouble on a matter as to which you confidently assert that you have not even a temptation to be unsound.

I am just off to Cuddesdon, and write in haste.

I am,

Ever your affec.


The Archdeacon wrote:


I do not think there is a single Point in your Doctrine as to the No. of the Sacraments as contained in your letter, which a Minister of the Church of England may not honestly hold and safely avow.

Safely, I mean, as to any danger of ecclesiastical censure; for the absolute correctness of some of them may be doubted, and much more the expediency of openly teaching them. The whole difficulty arises from the equivocal use of the word Sacrament, which not being a scriptural word, nor having so far as I know any certain signification fixed to it by any high primitive Authority, is used in different senses by different Persons. In my opinion the Church of England wishes her children to limit the use of the word Sacrament, taken per se and in its strictest sense, to the two only that are generally necessary to Salvation; but that she would not deny that in a qualified sense the term might be applicable to other Ordinances; but she would rather have it limited as above, for the sake of avoiding confusion, and the danger of equalizing all, if all are comprehended under the same term. On the other hand I suppose the Church of Rome would not deny the higher dignity of the Two, but is rather pleased to call all by the same name, that the glory of the five, as especially penance, etc., may be exalted. I therefore, as a matter of expediency (not temporal, but spiritual) prefer to confine the use of this word, which otherwise is in danger of being abused through the false doctrine grafted on it by Rome, to the two Sacraments, still not denying that the other use, if properly guarded by explanation, is legitimate.

On the 21st the Rector wrote to the Bishop of Chichester and told him that it was not possible for him to allow Mr. Edward to officiate again in the parish, and he begged the Bishop to advise him at once to give up his curacy since nothing but harm could come of his remaining at Graff ham. But the Bishop appears to have felt it safer not to intervene. The violence of the Protestant agitation at the moment was great, and it would be easy enough to make a pretty story out of the action of a bishop who had dismissed a curate who reported to him that his rector was teaching the Romish doctrine of the Sacraments.

Indeed a story was already in the making. Mr. Edward had written to the choirmaster after his interview with the Bishop of Chichester and told him that the Bishop was countenancing false doctrine. This brought a very strong letter to him from the Rector which had first been weighed and approved by Bishop Wilberforce and the Archdeacon. 'It is time to call upon you solemnly to remember,' writes the Rector, 'that you are answerable in the sight of God for these slanderous words which you are recklessly throwing about.' But by this time Mr. Edward had reached Oxford and had fallen into the arms of Mr. Golightly, a clergyman resident in Oxford, notorious since 1837 for his violent and bitter opposition to the Catholic movement. The first sign of this is a short and sprightly note:


I am detained waiting for a degree day, but shall return when that is over.

Faithfully yours,


PS.--We have discovered the original Latin to that miserable paper, I mean the paper that has made us all so unhappy, and the words are now arranged in parallel columns.

This means that Mr. Golightly had explored Roman Catholic manuals of dogmatic theology and had found that Mr. Randall's short paper was a free adaptation of the definitions in Dens.

The Bishop of Oxford and Archdeacon Randall felt that the time had come for them to deal so far as they could with Mr. Edward. Both had furnished him with testimonials; they now wrote and cancelled their testimonials and required Mr. Edward to return them. The Bishop also wrote to Mr. J. W. Burgon, Fellow and Tutor of Oriel, Mr. Edward's college, and told him the story and begged him to show Mr. Edward the error of his ways. [Afterwards Dean Randall's predecessor at Chichester.] But poor Mr. Edward did not improve. On receiving the strong remonstrance from the Rector which has been alluded to, he wrote on March nth:


I will not now enter with you on matters which only excite us. You know of course the provisions of Act 1 & 2 Vic., c. 106 and we must abide by that.

Nevertheless, if you will send me my clerical testimonials properly signed and countersigned we can see what may be done.

As ever, very truly yours,


On seeing this the Bishop of Oxford wrote advising Randall not to sign Mr. Edward's testimonials, and to pray the Bishop of Chichester to withdraw his licence. The Lavington trouble had for the moment become a disagreeable conflict between individuals. Mr. Edward was about to return to the parish as an unofficial agent of Mr. Golightly and the militant Protestant party.

On March 17th Mr. Randall received from Mr. Burgon of Oriel the following amusing and characteristic criticism on the whole case:

Private. ORIEL.

March 16, 1858. DEAR SIR,

The part of worldly wisdom would be for one in my position to write a few colourless lines to the Bishop of Oxford; to write nothing to yourself, and to turn to the many pressing engagements which surround me. Do not, I beg, make me repent of my resolution to follow the dictates of a warm heart. I shall write a long letter to you; a very short one to the Bishop; and expose myself to the risk of pleasing nobody.

In consequence of a letter from the Bishop of Oxford, I sent for E. R., and really I did not spare him. In the course of a very long conversation, I took occasion to apply to his conduct the epithets 'treacherous,' 'base,' and 'ungrateful.' I showed him that he had played the part of a viper towards those who had cherished him, that unbounded impudence and inordinate conceit had characterized his conduct, and much beside. Far, far more did I tell him than I can repeat. He has never, I think, been so spoken to before. My object was to get him to resign his curacy, and write a letter of apology to you and the Bishop of Oxford.

I elicited from him that he had made the matter very public at Cambridge, and especially had enlisted Selwyn on his side. Here in Oxford he admitted that he had been equally promiscuous in his communications, and told me that Golightly had taken a copy of your paper on the seven Sacraments. I did not fail to point out to him the great wickedness of thus going about casting fire-brands in every direction. A man with a spark of modesty would have been crushed with the bitter taunts I flung in his teeth--armed as I was with his college antecedents, and many other awkward reminiscences. I taunted him too with his ignorance, and unfltness to play the censor of anybody. He asked time to think it all over.

'I thank you very much for your kind advice,' he wrote to me next day, 'and would willingly follow it to the full as far as a change of place is concerned '; but he goes on to say that he proposed to consult a lawyer in London, as to-day, 'in company with another clergyman,' to ascertain if he had not a case against you!!!

I need not say that I sent for him instantly. His conduct, I explained to him, was worse and worse. Some evil spirit, I said, is surely urging you on. You labour under some horrid delusion, and display yourself in the light of a vindictive mischief-maker.

You have been snubbed by one Bishop, severely reprimanded by another--and he no ordinary one nor ordinarily interested; you have the virtual rebuke of an Archdeacon; I--who am willing to be your friend still, I--who know nothing of Mr. R. R., I--reasoning merely from your own ex parte statement, condemn your conduct as unprincipled, and your present temper of mind as most disgraceful and detestable. Against all this, you are setting up yourself like one possessed, and pursuing a course which can be productive of good to no one, of mischief to many, and of ruin to yourself.

'Ah! but still,' he rejoined with vehemence, after a long pause, 'I cannot let this matter rest. The Bishop of C. has been tampered with; the Bishop of O. cannot know the whole truth.'

'But, Sir,' I replied, 'you talk as if you had a grievance. You have none!' This led to a long debate, and I forced him to admit he had none. I then insisted that you had a grievance, and he could not deny it. 'You talk too as if you had a case. But again you have none!' This also led to a long debate. He ended a long conversation by insisting that he had a case. This was on Saturday.

This morning (Tuesday) I thought it right to make a further move. I sent him a note requesting to see him before he left Oxford. My servant brought me a verbal answer: 'Mr. R.'s compliments, and he feared he could not see me before he left Oxford, as he had so much to do.'

'Where was he when he gave you that message?' 'He was just going to breakfast with Mr. Golightly.' This, I felt, put an end to the negotiations It is quite plain that G., smarting under the result of the Cuddesdon business, and always on the look-out for troubled water, is the instigating person here. [For an account of what Dr. Liddon called 'The Cuddesdon Row,' see J. O. Johnston, Life and Letters of Henry Parry Liddon, Chap. II.] I shall be able to do no more good, not at least at present. There is, I feel, no time to be lost in writing to acquaint the Bishop and you of the position of the affair.

I do not think it will come to anything, for E. R. certainly has no legal case. But there can be no doubt whatever that a great deal of mischief will be done by the gossip of that inveterate mischief-maker, Golightly, I would gladly call on him, for we are on very amicable terms--and I really believe him to be, in his peculiar way, a good man--but I should not be able to do you any good, in the present state of my information.

Will you suffer me now, in all candour and simplicity, to say a few words on the other side of the question?

You must have acted with singular want of judgement--you must indeed--in this entire business. Why, in the name of common sense, give a parish schoolmaster (!) an account of the 7 Sacraments (!) literally translated in part from Dens' Theology? If it was a mere student's paper, then why not threaten (against this the Bishop of Oxford has written, 'I do not agree with this ') E. R. with an action for defamation of character, and by the affidavit of the schoolmaster prove him, on the spot, to be utterly in error, and insist on his making an instant apology? But E. R. declares that when he asked the children how many Sacraments there are, they answered 7. And this before he found that paper! He declares that you told him you had taught in Church, in the Bishop of Oxford's presence, the doctrine of that paper, without reproof from his Lordship. He is ready to take his oath that in a set of Beatitudes of your own, preached to the children, last S. Thomas' Day, you said, 'Blessed is the child who believes that the Body of our Lord is present on the Altar although he sees nothing'! Many similar charges he brings against you.

Pray believe me when I say that I do not believe him. But still, something must have been said or done a little like all these things, or it is incredible that a man in his senses could have such a list of charges. And I would respectfully ask, Can it be wise or right, in these days of rebuke and suspicion, at Lavington of all places, and connected with the Bishop of Oxford as you are, of all persons, Can it be wise or right to do or say anything which shall at all appear like coquetting with the impurities of Romish Doctrine?

I take it fully for granted that I address one who regards all Romanizing as rank treason; who would cut off his hand rather than promulgate the distinctive teaching of that corrupt communion. Else, of course, all that I have to say falls' to the ground. But I am confident I do not err in assuming that you are thus honest and true-hearted as the day.

Then pray consider further, how great an injury you may do to the Bishop of Oxford, your friend and patron, by an act of indiscretion which in any of your neighbours might be unproductive of evil. If this scandal spreads, it is he, not you, whose name gives zest to the accusation. He has many and warmly attached friends here--among all the younger men he is especially popular--but the older sort are not by any means disposed to view him with unmingled favour. His popularity, his eloquence, his success, his zeal, all stir up opposition, and provoke a species of envy or suspicion which I heartily deprecate. Now the very good he is doing to the whole Church may be marred or retarded by the indiscretions and errors of his known friends. Such considerations alone should make you doubly watchful.

And after all, what time have you for such topics as those which lie on the debatable ground between England and Rome? Unreclaimed louts, girls becoming mothers before they are wives, unbaptized persons or unconfirmed or non-communicant, the union, the infirmary, the jail, the night school, the day school, the infant school, self-culture, for which the parish priest never has enough time--O my dear Sir, what time can we, with all these claims and calls before us, spare for the 7 Sacraments, and for all the lifeless work of controversy so drying, so deadening:--How can we afford to waste an hour with squabbles and misunderstandings and breakings of the Law of Love, the sure consequences of a single step out of the common straightforward teaching of our own beloved Church as it is embodied in the Prayer Book?

To conclude.

Whatever the rights of the matter may be, pray--for Heaven's sake--be very much on your guard indeed, for the next few weeks and months! Nay, turn over a new leaf, and preach to yourself a stricter rule of caution altogether. I feel sure that you will be watched. (Why need it breed the least sense of discomfort in your mind? Who cares for anything but for vacant places in church?) But pray be doubly careful and vigilant, and defeat the faintest pretext for an accusation by making your teaching quite beyond suspicion.

The writer is the weakest and least worthy of your brethren. He asks forgiveness if he has annoyed you. No one shall see or hear of this letter except one to whom you feel a son's affection, the Bishop of Oxford. Do not be at the trouble to answer it, but when you are coming this way come and make me--your friend!

Tell me freely if I can be of any use to you.

To this letter Mr. Randall returned a cordial reply, in which he disclosed something of his personality to Mr. Burgon. His letter greatly gratified Mr. Burgon, who wrote as follows:

March 20, 1858.

I must not lose an instant in thanking you for your letter, which gave me a livelier pang of pleasure than I can well express.

The God of Heaven and Earth will infallibly accept such sacrifice. He will not forsake you in your need. You will infallibly surmount this difficulty and then (D.V.) you will be strong.

I cannot tell you how much your letter redounds to your honour. Yes, my friend, give to the winds all that nameless kind of thing (for we will give it no name) and stick to the immense reality. Do your people kneel in Church? Do the girls walk about at night? How about the bedrooms? What about family prayers in Lavington? Are you sure that there have not slipped through your net 59 unconfirmed persons, and 5 unbaptized? Have you had a loving but grave interview with all the children confirmed this time last year, and ascertained how they are going on? Did you ever test the private prayers (so-called) of your school children? O the sweet rewards that come from this laborious work! And I am sure from your letter that you are the man for it, too.

Let me know if I can in any way serve you. I know Golightly--if you apprehend anything from that quarter (which I do not)--and could write to E. R. Query whether he would not accept a present of money and retire?

In haste, my dear Sir,

And sincerely desiring to know you,

Ever yours most faithfully,


Mr. Edward now re-established himself at Lavington. He had announced his arrival on the 18th in a note to the Rector:

I have now returned and am ready to fulfil the duties of my office as assistant curate.

You are no doubt aware of the provisions of the Act 1 & 2, Vic., c. 106. I shall wish to avail myself of the protection these afford me, viz. six months' notice. I shall be obliged by an answer by bearer.

Mr. Randall interviewed him next day. Mr. Edward professed himself prepared to abstain from discussing recent events and to receive Holy Communion. The Bishop of the Diocese, on being consulted, advised that he should be allowed on these conditions to minister for the present but not to preach. Mr. Edward made himself as difficult as possible; he refused to receive any message from the Bishop through the Rector; he absented himself from church, and his presence in the place was the source of much gossip and disturbance. There was only one method by which he could be got rid of. The Bishop could revoke his licence. The Bishop wrote to him threatening to do so unless he specified a time at which he should leave the parish. Mr. Edward thereupon gave the statutory three months' notice, but graciously announced that he would leave earlier if he succeeded in providing himself with a curacy. The Bishop felt it best to leave things at this.

'Satisfied as I have become,' he wrote to the Rector, 'that misstatements of your tendencies and teachings have been unjust towards you, I doubt whether a public discussion of the whole matter, which would probably follow from my recalling his licence, would be advantageous for you or for the good of the Church.'

Bishop Wilberforce wrote as follows:


I truly grieve for you. I will make one more effort with the Bishop of Chichester, and with that foolish Connor. Meanwhile do not be cast down. The same afflictions are appointed unto your brethren. Do not you think that the very same temptation is constantly on me? Yet the yoke--the yoke--the yoke of Christ. We must bear it on and on and He will come, and no fear, no cry, no sorrow be lost. All ripened into pearls of price in the sea of His Love. All given back to us. Are not His Hands pierced and His Side? And how can we follow Him otherwise than bare-footed over thorns. My heart quite bleeds for you. Yet all this will pass and leave the sky brighter, purged by clouds and washed by storms. May God, my dear Friend, comfort you.

I am, ever affec. yours,


The early days of May were occupied by a tiresome correspondence with Mr. Edward, who became more eccentric every day. On May 7th the Bishop of Chichester wrote:

It may be some comfort to you to know that on Wednesday morning Mr. Edward Randall applied for my written permission for him to leave your curacy before the expiration of the time mentioned in his formal notice to me. I scarcely need say I gave it with much alacrity. His mode of applying unavoidably gave the impression that he must be insane.

The next event is that Mr. Edward departs suddenly in the night, leaving no address; so ended his share in the Lavington story.

The militant Protestant party embarked now on another effort to wreck the peace of the parish. On August 28th an article appeared in The National Standard headed 'The Bishop of Oxford and more Tractarian Exposures.' The article announced that Mr. Randall had been recommended to the Bishop of Oxford by Archdeacon Manning as a suitable successor to himself at Lavington, and proceeded to charge him with 'sundry most unchurchmanlike irregularities.' He had been observed to cross himself, to make the sign of the cross upon the water at baptism, to mix water with the wine at the eucharist and to 'bow to the elements after consecration.' It then told the story of the paper on the lesser sacraments, after its own fashion. 'The Bishop,' said The National Standard, 'wrote to the Rector for an explanation. This was given, and it satisfied him. No steps were taken by the Diocesan to expose this treachery; on the contrary he sided with the Rector, and took a strong front against the curate, threatening to withdraw his licence if he did not resign his curacy immediately.'

In a later number The National Standard returned to the charge under the impetus of a letter from the 'Clergyman of the Diocese of Oxford to whom the Rev. Edward Randall, Curate of Lavington, communicated certain important facts relative to the proceedings of the Rector of that Parish.' The 'Clergyman' called loudly upon the Bishop to deal with the sign of the cross, the mixed chalice, and the 'bowing to the elements at the eucharist after consecration.'

The National Standard further asserted on unquestionable authority that immediately after the Bishop of Chichester had forced Mr. Edward Randall to resign his curacy, Mr. Edward was sent for by one of the Bishop of Oxford's friends and told by him that 'the Bishop believes him to be under the influence of an evil spirit and that if he attempted to bring the matter to a trial, the Bishop of Oxford would cut him up root and branch, and that he himself would leave him no rest for the sole of his foot in England.' It is evident that here we have Mr. Golightly's impression of Mr. Edward's impression of his very bad quarter of an hour with that designing Jesuit, Mr. J. W. Burgon of Oriel. A fortnight later, 'an English Churchman' collected the various articles and letters into a little pamphlet which he edited in a highly inflammatory manner and 'submitted to the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Chichester.' Copies of this were distributed to all the cottages of Lavington and Graffham.

The Bishop of Chichester now felt obliged to deal with the ritual charges brought against Mr. Randall by the 'clergyman of the Diocese of Oxford,' whom without presumption we may call Mr. Golightly. In reply to the Bishop, Mr. Randall said it had been his custom to make the sign of the cross at certain times, but he had given up the practice as it had been misunderstood; that he made the sign of the cross when blessing the water before baptism, and had continued Archdeacon Manning's practice of mixing the chalice, and that he did not bow to the elements after consecration.

Bishop Wilberforce, who strongly objected to all these practices, wrote the Rector one of his tender, fatherly letters.

October 28th.


You must bear up. If there was, as I think there was, error in your ministry, its being thus dragged to day and pounded to pieces is a proof of God's love to you, of the value of your ministry, and the Blessing will come. Only bear up and go on, and do not fear to learn. There was only one thing I regretted in your letter to the Bishop. I wish you had added as to the Cross on the water and the mingling of the cup, that should he desire it you should be glad to abandon them on his Fatherly and Godly Exhortation. I wish you would write this yet, God bless and uphold you, my dear Friend,

And on November 6th:

If you like to meet me at Godalming, or if the rail is then open at Witley on Wednesday night the 15th, I will come down that night and spend Thursday with you. Then take your father about the parish [the Archdeacon was staying at Lavington] and ask neighbouring clergy, laity, and others to dinner, and show that they are coming round you just as usual. I think you are mistaken in not at once giving up those things, if you can get your Bishop to write you a short note saying that he is convinced you practised them from the best motives but that he recommends you to drop them, and then read this in a sermon explaining your course. You must bear up. You are true to the Church of England and truth must prevail. Lying lips are but for a moment. God comfort you.

Mr. Randall now wrote a very long justification of himself and all his controverted acts to the Bishop of Chichester. The Bishop of Oxford disapproved of it. 'It opens a multitude of questions,' he wrote, 'and shows too much of the wounds of a tender, loving heart.' The Bishop drafted a short letter which he suggested Mr. Randall should make his own and send to the Bishop of Chichester. 'You will soon live this down,' he concludes, 'if you will not (1) dress peculiarly, (2) read nothing but Romish books, (3) try in preaching, manner, etc., to be less priestly and more like others, and may God ever bless you.' [The Bishop's construction is faulty but his meaning is plain.] Invited by the Rector to criticize his 'manner' in detail, the Bishop felt puzzled. 'Perhaps,' he replied, 'it is a little brusque.'

On December 8th Mr. Randall sent a letter to the Bishop of Chichester which he had framed with the help of Bishop Wilberforce and Archdeacon Randall. It was written with a view, if necessary, to publication, although the Archdeacon deprecated publishing anything if it could be avoided. 'Your enemies will find points of attack,' he wrote, 'in anything that you can say, and you will only be keeping the sore open.'

Mr. Randall began by stating in a succinct form the truth about the paper on the sacraments. He said that in giving the children a list of the names by which the Holy Communion has been called, he gave and explained the word 'Mass' as one of those names and pointed out to them the presence of the name in such words as Christmas and Michaelmas, but that it was not true that the children had been taught or had learned ordinarily so to call the Holy Communion. He denied that he believed or taught Transubstantiation. He denied that he bowed to the elements after consecration, either to the outward and visible sign of bread and wine, or to any carnal and local presence of our Lord's Flesh and Blood. He said that he continued the use of the mixed chalice which he found at Lavington and justified his practice from the example of post-Reformation divines and from primitive custom. He justified the use of the sign of the cross, but offered to follow the Bishop's direction on the point.

On December 23rd the Bishop of Chichester sent Mr. Randall a lengthy reply. It acquitted him of any disloyalty to the Church of England. It said in effect that he had tried to teach his people too many things. 'You cannot make skilled controversialists of plain English labourers and their children. They do not understand what you are about.' In fact it invited Mr. Randall to practise that reserve in the communication of religious knowledge for the supposed use of which popular prejudice condemned the Tractarians. It censured all the ritual practices under discussion, and required their discontinuance. Taken altogether, the letter was a warm, personal tribute to the Rector and a severe and elaborate condemnation of his teaching and methods.

Archdeacon Randall said it must not be published and distributed in the parish as 'it would appear to give judgement against the Rector on all points which the people could understand.' The matter appeared to Bishop Wilberforce so serious that with his usual unwearying kindness he made a special journey to Lavington, bringing Archdeacon Randall with him. Together they prepared certain modifications of the Bishop's letter which the Bishop accepted. Mr. Randall's reply to his Diocesan was then jointly framed and received the Bishop of Chichester's approval. The letter ran as follows:


Dec. 30, 1858.


I hope you will allow me in closing this correspondence to thank you for your kind answer to my letter and for your permission to publish it. It is a great comfort to me that your Lordship will thus be able to state publicly that, having carefully examined the whole teaching on the subjects in question, you are satisfied that I have taught no Roman doctrine whatever, but simply what is taught by our Reformed Church. As regards the other matters about which you write, I had already given up the use of the sign of the Cross in those instances of which you have now expressed your disapprobation, as soon as I found that it caused offence. I will at once, at your desire, give up mixing water with the wine at the Holy Communion. Only, in giving up these practices, suffer me once more to say that it was from no inclination to any Romish customs that I ever used them. Honestly, I do not believe that they are Romish. On the contrary, I believe them to be both lawful and good in themselves; but as they have been misunderstood, I see the wisdom of your decision, and would far rather give them up than cause offence to any one's conscience by persisting in them. On matters non-essential, it is my undoubted duty to obey your Lordship, and consult the good of my parish by relinquishing any private preferences of my own. I trust that my doing so will re-establish the confidence of any of my flock who may have been led to mistrust me in consequence of the false reports that have been spread against me. It has always been my earnest desire to bring them up as devout and faithful members of the Church of England, to teach them to value her pure faith and strict rule of life, and as nothing would grieve me more than to see them wandering away from God, so nothing would give me greater comfort and happiness than to be the means in God's Hand of teaching them to live in His love and service. I pray that they may always humbly study the revealed Word of God, and duly value the sound teaching of the Church, the solemn services, and the Holy Sacraments administered by her; that they may earnestly and constantly seek the grace of our Blessed Lord in them; that their souls may be cleansed and prepared by Him for that everlasting glory which He bought for them with His precious Blood.

I remain, dear Lord, Your most faithful and obedient servant,


This correspondence was printed and circulated. The parish had by this time become affronted and discontented. The farmers left off coming to church. Certainly an opportunity was provided for a little holiday from complying with the somewhat strict demands which their parish church made on masters and men. Mr. Randall faced the future with the prospect of having to do a certain amount of re-conquest. The niceties about the paper on the sacraments the farmers could not understand. They would be pretty clear that the Rector had said that there were more than two. It was no good his trying to get out of it. The Bishop had stopped all those new-fangled acts in church. That was a good thing, but that ugly chanting remained, and therefore the fact that they no longer had a hearty, plain service. The chanting, which was the apple of poor Mr. Randall's eye, was not yet publicly attacked. He hoped to preserve all that still remained of his services which he loved so well, but he must reconquer his farmers at any cost.

On February 4, 1859, Mr. Golightly wrote to the Bishop of Chichester from Oxford and informed him that he had sought legal advice in London about Mr. Randall's case, and that in compliance with it he now formally called upon the Bishop to issue a Commission of Inquiry upon Mr. Randall under the Church Discipline Act. He added that as it might be more agreeable to the Bishop to proceed only under Mandamus from the Court of Queen's Bench, he had taken advice concerning that step also, and was prepared to apply for one if it should be necessary. Mr. Golightly reiterated all the previous charges against Mr. Randall and added that he elevated the Cup over his head in the service of Holy Communion, and also used a hymnal which contained the Pange, lingua of S. Thomas Aquinas. The Bishop requested Mr. Randall once more to place his defence and submission before him in such a form as could be forwarded to Mr. Golightly, and to give up the hymnal.

Mr. Randall repeated to the Bishop his former assurances and added that he did not elevate the chalice at the consecration, that the elevation referred to meant that he held the Cup somewhat raised in his hands when bearing it to the communicants' rail. He pleaded vigorously for the retention of the hymn book. The book had been in daily use for six or seven years. It had been gratuitously distributed through the cottages. Every child carried it to church. He offered to use a version of the stanza, Verbum caro panem verum, in the Pange, lingua which was in use at Cuddesdon instead of the translation in the book.

This letter greatly angered the Bishop of Chichester and he wrote to order Mr. Randall into his presence for the purpose of solemn submission. Archdeacon Randall thought it would be probably wiser for his son to yield the point, and Bishop Wilberforce had no doubt as to his duty to do so:

'You yield nothing to God by yielding all to your Bishop,' he wrote; 'only fancy one of Cyprian's or any other Bishop's presbyters using a private collection of Psalms he forbade. My dear friend, you are still too fond of sticking to your own liking. You ought to remember that a Commission will mean infinite triumph to Golightly, a deep blow to the Church, a wound to me, and that only by enabling your Bishop to say, 'he has yielded to my Godly Judgement,' can he meet the Mandamus. Yet it is not too late. You have been obstinate. Go straight over to that really kind old man and put all in his hands by a son's submission.'

Mr. Randall was not moved by this appeal. He had no doubt as to the opinion of Cyprian or any other bishop of the undivided Church on the subjects over which he was engaged in controversy, and he had no more ardent desire than that that blessed martyr should return to earth and discuss the Lavington case with the Bishop of Chichester; in default of this, he went over to see the Bishop, and obtained his consent to continue the use of the hymnal.

The Bishop of Chichester succeeded in averting Mr. Golightly's attack; in July the judges refused the Mandamus, and the Protestant party had played what proved to be its last card. But the parish was now full of disaffection. Mr. Harding, the ex-choirmaster, had persuaded the farmers to cease attending the church some months before, and this had caused great mischief among their men. After Easter Mr. Harding paid two visits to the parish, and immediately afterwards a petition was circulated for signature among the cottagers 'praying the Bishop to appoint a Commission to inquire into the present lamentable state of things connected with the church in their parish.'

Mr. Randall was away at the time. On his return he went round the parish and forwarded to the Bishop a report of what he found. The farmers had carried the address round and pressed people to sign it. They found fault with any who refused. They persuaded some who had no notion of what they were doing and who afterwards wished to withdraw their names. Some had signed for fear of not getting employment, some were Dissenters, others were so irreligious that they had not been to church for years. The Rector found many in great distress at this fresh disturbance; the general impression had been that it was a petition against so much singing in church, and in leading the people to say more than they meant to say, the Protestant opposition over-reached itself, and there began to be signs of the dawn of a genuine peace.

The Bishop of Chichester returned an admirable reply to the memorial, and the Rector was left with the task of meeting his parishioners in the one matter about which they had had any serious differences with him, the 'fully choral' service. He had given up one of the choral services on Sunday at the beginning of the year. He was now pressed to give up more.

'I honestly believe,' wrote the Bishop of Oxford, 'that the parish hates your intoning and always will hate it, and that without the sacrifice of that you never will have their hearts and might have them at the price of that sacrifice. I should greatly prefer your giving the plainer service except at the daily service and the great Feasts themselves. The Saints' days are so little known that there will always be disappointment from their uncertainty, so it is as to the Octaves of the Feasts. I particularly object to the singing of the Communion responses (i.e. the Kyries). Prayer is not prayer to our people when so treated. Praise is quite another matter. Then, my dear friend, what do you mean by' say'? The greatest objection by far of the people and what I specially dislike is your intoning. I know you would have me say the simple truth. Your reading is quite admirable; your intoning as intoning is really very bad. It is a sort of falsetto which is very provoking to many ears, producing on them the same effect certain notes produce on dogs when they make them howl. Now if you really want to give full peace, do, my dear R. R., do what you do thoroughly and liberally; you are sacrificing a great deal; do it so as to get the great spiritual return of saving your people. Read the service in the most unmistakable reading tone, and do not let them think you are going as near the wind as you can.

I am, ever yours very affectionately,


This letter nearly broke Mr. Randall's heart. He mistook what the Bishop meant about the Saints' days and he saw the whole of his much-loved service disappearing in an era of restored Protestant simplicity. The letter he wrote to the Bishop must have been a touching one, for the Bishop replied:


Your letter has quite melted my heart. I do not change my view. But as to the Saints' days I only meant when they fell on Sundays I would not intone. Believe me, my dear R. R., I do not judge you harshly. I do not see a multitude of faults; very, very, very far from it. I do feel your difficulties, trouble, annoyances, and value most highly your affection, and am yours very affectionately,


Mr. Randall rearranged his Services as follows: on Christmas, Easter, Ascension Day, Whitsunday, on the Sundays following, and on Saints' days the service was to be chanted. On all other Sundays the Canticles only and the Kyries were to be chanted, the rest said.
The following letter to Randall from Bishop Wilberforce has no date, but belongs to this time:

Remember how down to the least things (the Glorias) you have always maintained your view against mine, and then remember that when the storm broke on you, I gave no hint of all this, but defended you and mainly got your own bishop to defend you, and have borne all the brunt really of 'the Lavington case.' I say all this, my dear Richard, because your words seem to me to forget it, and you must remember it to judge fairly in this case.

Remember I was attacked in 'facts and documents' for your acts. I could not justify your acts. I had publicly stated over and over that the acts did not mean Romanizing in you; answering my officers I could not enter into a detail on that subject; all I could do was either (i) to justify the acts or (2) say (the truth) that I had always disapproved them and had no jurisdiction over you (which you certainly have never forgotten). I quite understand your feeling, but I think it quite unjust to me, and so I openly tell you so.

Thank God about the------, and with love to your wife and prayers to God to bless your work,

I am, very affectionately yours,


PS.--I will add that I have been told in my Diocese that the one weak point in the 'answer' is that it is incredible if the Bishop of Oxford really disapproved of the Lavington practices that he could not have stopped them. You know how the impossibility of my doing so has been one of my main troubles for these last months.

Thus ended 'the Lavington Case.' The parish now gradually recovered its happiness and unity, as the following extracts from the Journal of 1860 show:

'Christmas has been a blessed season. There have been more communicants than I ever remember. They amount to nearly 140.' 'Good Friday. H.C. at 9. Mattins and Litany at 10.30. The Church fuller than I ever remember it. The people very attentive. The boys quiet, thoughtful, and well behaved throughout.' 'The most blessed Easter I have had at Lavington.'

On Low Sunday appeared 'on the altar a cross of white violets with a centre of red flowers, the whole enclosed in a circle of box with knots of primroses.' For Christmas 'the Church was very prettily decorated with devices and trellis work at the east end, and a text on each side of the nave.'

The parishioners had not been unwilling to join in the fray when the Rector was attacked, but there was no malice in their hearts, and now Randall had won their respect no less by his courage and calm than by his concessions to the Bishop and to themselves.

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