Copy Letter

Scope and Content

From [George Booth, 2nd Earl of] Warrington to Mr Prescot concerning certain privileges he claims in Bowdon Parish Church, which have been challenged by one of the churchwardens, Robert Orrell, who has complained to Mr Chancellor.

Last year the parish incurred heavy expenditure in renewing the lead on the church roof, "for the people could not sit dry when it rained". Now one of the six bells is cracked, but at a parish meeting earlier this year it was decided not to raise additional church lays for its repair, with which decision G.B. concurred. Now Orrell says that Prescot will inform the Bishop [of Chester] of G.B.'s opposition. G.B. has written to the Bishop himself.

Orrell has also "reflected upon" G.B. by claiming that G.B.'s purported right to the custody of the parish accounts was against the canons of the church. G.B. defends his right by rehearsing his family's ancient privileges and rights with regard to Bowdon Parish Church, and by citing numerous cases of canons that are not strictly observed.

G.B.'s right to nominate the 4 wardens has been "nibbled at to be broken into obliquely tho' my right be too strong to be attackt directly". G.B. recently had his right confirmed by a decree of the Exchequer at Chester. The right of the Lords of Dunham to nominate the clerk has been lost by neglect, "which will give me warning to take better care to look after what priviledges still remain to me". As for the parish accounts, the wardens at the end of their year in office submit their accounts to the parish meeting and, once passed, they are delivered to G.B. and kept at his house, where they are open to inspection. However, "a project has been lately set on foot to worm me out of it [the right] by making a Parish Order to have a copy of every years Accounts lodged in the Parish Chest". Orrell, who tried to push the order through at an emergency parish meeting called at short notice, has misrepresented to Prescot the process by which the accounts are passed.

G.B. argues that even if his right to keep the accounts is inconsistent with the Canon, "yet as it is my Right by Immemorial Custome, I desire to be excused from desisting from what the Laws of England will defend me in". He lists many canons to show that "how much soever the Canons may be Revered in the Spirituall Courts, yet Custome prevails against them".

G.B. asks Prescot to show this letter to Mr Chancellor, hoping that it will persuade Mr Chancellor to withdraw the advice he earlier gave to Orrell on the Canon.

Dated at: Dunham.

Written in the hand of George Booth.

Acquisition Information

Received from Dunham Massey Hall on 24 January 1992; provenance: desk F335 in Lord Stamford's Study.