Morris Fuller: The Man behind the Scandal Part 5

 

Part 5

1873 - 4 

ANNUS HORRIBILIS

 

 

As we have already seen, Morris Fuller's forthright character and strong

opinions didn't always endear him to his parishioners. 1873 was not, on

the whole, a good year for Morris as he soon found himself answering a

summons from the Inland Revenue  at the Tavistock Petty Sessions on

June 18th:

 

 

 

 

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Not long after this the finishing touches to the the new Lydford rectory got

himinto conflict with the local Highway Surveyor as we read here in the 

Tavistock GazetteJuly 11th 1873

 

 

8th August 1873 Tavistock Gazette

 

THE LYDFORD ENCROACHMENT. 

 

Relative to the encroachment which it was stated has taken place at Lydford,

and which was discussed at the last meeting, the following letter was read : 

Lydford Rectory, Bridestow, July 14th, 1873. 

SIR,—My attention has been drawn to a paragraph in the Tavistock Gazette,

wherein I am accused of having encroached upon the Highway. Will you

kindly inform me on what point I am supposed to have transgressed. The

Rectory wall follows as near as possible the old boundary wall, and indeed

the wall which is now in building, is proceeding inside not outside the present

hedge, so that the highway will be a considerable gainer on that point. As you

may not know the locality, I enclose a sketch whereby you will see that

whereas opposite the Castle Inn (where would be naturally more traffic as

a place of halting) the highway is only 12 feet 6 inches; at the extreme

E. end of my wall, the highway has 21feet 6 inches, (the very spot marked

out by Mr Davy to my mason.) Opposite my gate the highway has 22 feet,

and at the extreme W end 19 feet. The bank which abuts on the highway

is now in existence, and I am not responsible for that ; but I propose to cut

this away, trim a wall [back to] the present hedge, thus giving the highway

three additional feet. How this clear gain to the highway can be looked

upon as an encroachment, according to the ordinary rules of addition and

subtraction, I fail to see. If the Board would rather  this earlier remain as it is,

I will not proceed with the wall, but I warn them the highway will miss a fine 

oppportuniity of improvement at this corner of the road.—

Yours faithfully, Morris Fuller

R. Buxton, Esq. 

This letter and the agreement entered into by the Surveyor with Mr. Fuller was

discussed at some length, when it was decided that the Surveyor's agreement

should be carried out, and the road made to his satisfaction.

 

 

5th September  1873

 

 

3rd October 1873

 

 

15th May  1874

 

LYDFORD IMPROVEMENT

 

In reply to the CHAIRMAN, the Surveyor statedthat the improvement at

Lydford had not been made as ordered. He had called upon the

Rev. M. Fuller on the matter, and that gentleman stated that he had

agreed to get the work done for £1, but the man had not yet

commenced operations.He  the Surveyor) offered to do the work for

13s.,but Mr Fuller objected to break the agreement he had made.

After some remarks relative to the time the job had remained uncompleted,

it was decided that if it was not commenced on the following Tuesday the

Surveyor should get the work done and make the charge to the

rev. gentleman.

 

************

 

Later that year, stimulated by a memorialists' petition, we hear of an enquiry

by the Bishop of Exeter into Morris's alleged irregularities and negligence.

In the process it stirred up "gagging the press" headlines and of course a

defence ofhis position by Morris. It seems to have started as a grudge

report on 19th September 1873 in support of a couple unable to be

married by Morris . It also reveals the friction between Morris and another

of his curates, the Revd George CookeMost of the information hit the press

on November 28th.

 

September 19th 1873 Dartmouth & South Hams Chronicle

 

 

September 19th 1873  Tavistock Gazette

 

 

 

To make matters worse also on September 19th 1873  Tavistock Gazette

 

 

 

Morris responds in the September 26th. issue of the Tavistock Gazette

 

10th October 1873 Tavistock Gazette

  

November 28th  Tavistock Gazette

 

 

November 28th  Western Morning News

 

 

November 8th Dartmouth and South Hams Chronicle.

 

 

 

 

In the following day's Western Morning News Morris defends himself in

the letters columns:

 

 

Morris was not entirely without support as former curate George Caffin

wrote to the rescue on Dec 4th  in the Western Morning News:

 

The following day Edward Urquhart another former curate (almost) put in

his two-pennyworth, again in the Western Morning News:

 

 

 

The Revd. Edward William Urquhart , the man who "left for another sphere

of labour" had been curate of Bovey-Tracy since 1866 and during that time

had been conspicuously vocal in espousing both Disestablishment and a

return to Rome. Both these standpoints would have been anathema to Morris

and so he must have been in too much need of a curate to refuse him the

job as we see in the Bradford Daily Telegraph on the 9th April 1869:

 

 

Morris Fuller as ever has to have the last word also on December 5th

in the Western Morning News:

 

 

I have tried in vain to find any press report which even summarised the

outcome of the Bishop's deliberations, but one is inescapably forced

to infer from the following press notices that some breathing space was

required by or allowed to the parties involved:

from the Exeter & Plymouth Gazette April 10th 1874:

 

WITH the consent of the patrons and the Bishops of Chichester and Exeter,

the Rev. M. J. Fuller, M.A. Rector of Lydford Devonshire, and the

Rev. A. A. Morgan, M.A., Vicar of St John the Evangelist, Brighton, have

exchanged benefices.

 

from the Daily Telegraph & Courier( London)  April 14th 1874:

 

The Bishop of Chichester has instituted the Rev M. J. Fuller to the vicarage

of St. John the Evangelist, Brighton in the room of the Rev. A. A. Morgan.

 

and in the Western Daily Mercury Monday 20th July 1874:

 

The REV. MORRIS FULLER, incumbent of the parish of Lydford, has

changedlivings with the Rev. Mr Morgan of Brighton, who commenced

his duties yesterday.

 

Neither of the swapping clergy seem to have made any press ripples

in their new ponds and  Morris appears to be back in circulation in

Lydford as early as January 1875 when he was elected to the Lydford

school board set up to build a new school in the town. By April, Morris

was nominated and succeeded in re-appointment to the office of one of

two Lydford Parish Guardians. Interestingly,  the addition of the

nomination by Mr Palmer (see above) of Mr Duke of Princetown

to the contest, forced an election because neither of the two sittng

Guardians would stand aside. Morris got 146 votes, Mr Duke just 70.

Nothing further is mentioned about the parish exchange and both men

vacated their original livings in 1879.

 

 

 

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