A Most Indebted Clergyman
Henry Goddard, a pluralist clergyman, was imprisoned in the debtors’ prison of King’s Bench in 1817 (he was admitted 7 March).
At the time he was rector of Castle Eaton (from 1797), vicar of Longbridge Deverill with Monkton Deverill (from 1805) and curate of Maiden Bradley (from 1797), livings which he held until his death in 1829. His petition to the Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors is filed in the diocesan archives together with the various sequestration bonds and writs, which allowed for the income of the benefices to be diverted in for the benefit of the creditors of the incumbent.
The document provides a detailed record of his parlous financial position. The schedule of debts, amounted to almost £8000 (including £4000 due to rev Christopher Rigby Collins, Salisbury, for an annuity granted in 1811 who had sequestered Goddard’s livings in 1816 for arrears). In the list of 79 creditors are members of the local gentry, as well as Collins, who had loaned him money. These included JD Ashley (recte Astley) of Bury cottage, Warminster (£150), the executrix of William Hinton of Bishopstrow (£230), and Richard Long MP, Rood Ashton (£20). The vast majority of creditors were tradesmen for goods and services supplied. The latter are mainly from Warminster and its vicinity and illustrate the range of trades in this town (William King coach maker, William Cox cabinet maker, William Manley perfumer and toyman (seller of toys, fancy goods), Sampson Payne Glassman, a fruiterer, pastry cook, druggist, surgeon, hairdresser, tailor, pork dealer, milliner, seedsman, wine merchant and stationer). Several of these appear in the 1830 trade Directory of the town which gives addresses. Beyond the town the trail of debt reached millers, maltsters and innkeepers, as well as John Dwall (Doel), Horningsham, butcher, and Thomas Morsfield, Longbridge D, blacksmith, John Tucker Brixton Deverill, carpenter and John Heall, Hill Deverill, miler. It also reached to Bath and London and even touched Mr Sims, landlord of The Old Down Inn, outside Wells in Somerset. A former servant also appears: Ann Churchill, now at Capt Jennings at Chitterne, owed £10 for wages to 1816.
Evidence of his son’s education can also be gleaned through debts to: rev Rowlandson, Warminster in 1815 (£30 owed); rev John Cutler, Free Grammar SEast Woodhaychool Sherborne to Midsummer 1817 (£25), and then to Winchester College in 1817 (£6.18s). Tragically the boy, Henry William, whose was baptised in 1807, died, aged 13, and was buried at Winchester college in 1818 (both events recorded in the Longbridge Deverill parish registers).
Loans of money dated as far back as 1802; goods and services as back as far as 1812, which indicate the potential difficulties of cash flow that small independent traders faced.
The petition also provides details of his real and personal estate (including his clothes). His stay in gaol was short for he was back in Longbridge Deverill by 4 Oct 1817 when he officiated at a marriage.
His testimonials when ordained priest in 1782 gave no hint of the precarious state that his life would descend into. He was baptised in East Woodhay, Hants, 6th November 1782, the son of Edward Goddard, esq and Anne his wife. He studied at Merton College, Oxford. The college warden, sub warden and two fellows, stated that he had behaved piously, soberly and honestly, an opinion endorsed by the vicar of Longbridge Deverill, who appointed him his curate with a salary of £60, and the rectors of East Knoyle and Barford St Martin.
He ceased performing services in the parish in June 1826, and was buried there 27 Mar 1829, aged 72. He left no will or grant of administration of his estate, or any personal archive. However, his predicament left a fascinating group of official papers that are revealing about the clerical expenditure and local trades people in the Warminster area in the late 18th century.
Steve Hobbs, Archivist
- Tags: blacksmith, butcher, cabinet maker, carpenter, Castle Eaton, clergy, coach maker, competition, Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors, debtor's prison, Diocesan Archives, druggist, East Woodhay, Free Grammar School Sherborne, fruiterer, Henry Goddard, Horningsham, King's Bench, Longbridge Deverill, Maiden Bradley, Merton College, milliner, Monkton Deverill, Oxford, pastry cook, perfumer, pork dealer, seedsman, sequestration bonds, surgeon, tailor, toy man, trades, Warminster, Wiltshire, Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre