The vicar, the hat and the black eye

Wakefield Free Press
Saturday 26 October 1878


To the Editor of the Free Press.

Sir, My attention has been called to a paragraph in your last week’s issue, headed “A Fracas at Potovens.” I shall be obliged if, in the interests of truth, you will correct in your next certain mis-statements of your correspondent.

I can hardly be wrong in supposing that I am the “clergyman” referred to; but I did not say to anybody, “Is that all the respect you have for your clergyman!” I did not “knock” the hat off the offender’s head. No “row” took place in the schoolroom, and no “young lady hailing from Silcoates,” nor any one at all, “received a fine black eye.”

I must decline to enter into any further correspondence on the subject.

I am, sir, yours, Francis Dudley,
Vicar of St. Anne’s, Wrenthorpe.
Wrenthorpe Vicarage, Wakefield, Oct. 23rd, 1878

{We gladly give insertion to the above, and are pleased to learn that no row took place in the schoolroom. The rev. gentleman is perhaps discreetly silent as to what took place outside the school but immediately adjoining. We may state further that the person referred to as taking part in the above, and described as wearing her Majesty’s livery, was not Police-constable Hollis, or indeed any one connected with the constabulary; and we regret that this much respected officer should have been mistaken for the person intended. – Ed. W. F. P.}

The Rev Dudley clearly doesn’t want to be associated with the nonconformist Free Press. Looking back at the previous week’s edition of that newspaper, we read:

Wakefield Free Press
Saturday 19 October 1878


A Wrenthorpe correspondent writes: “Our city is becoming somewhat famous for its strange goings on and its pugilistic qualities. On Monday evening last a bazaar was held in the Church School-room, when a little scene took place. A young man in walking up and down the room had the temerity to do so with his hat on, which brought out the ejaculation ‘Arthur, is that all the respect you have for your clergyman!’ The said clergyman without more to do, is alleged to have knocked the hat off the offender’s head, and tried to exclude him by force from the room. This was resisted and a regular row took place, during which a gentleman wearing Her Majesty’s livery struck at Arthur, but missing his mark, a young lady hailing from Silcoates received a fine black eye.”

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