The Eccentric Lincolnshire Vicar who keeps on giving

We have written about Samuel Oliver on a several previous occasions and as I keep saying, ‘he just keeps on giving’. Following on from how popular his comments were in the last article regarding the burial of his parishioners, here we go again with some more notes I have just found that were filling the empty pages of the baptism, marriage and burial registers for the parish of Whaplode, in rural Lincolnshire. If you wish to read the images more clearly, just click on them.

Quite a risky thing to do, but we begin with his justification for keeping notes about his parishioners – he thought they would be helpful to future incumbents of his post! I wonder if they were, of whether they were more a reflection on his personality.

The Church of St Mary, Whaplode. The east end of the church. © Copyright Dave Hitchborne (Geograph) and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
The Church of St Mary, Whaplode. The east end of the church. © Copyright Dave Hitchborne (Geograph) and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

He clearly didn’t approve of the school teacher’s morals, describing him as an infidel, so much so that Samuel felt the need to take over the running of the school himself. 

Sunday November 8th, 1818

In the afternoon of this day, during the time of divine service, Joseph Blacksmith (Farmer of the great Tythes) and William Heeley (acting overseer of the poor); grossly insulted me, whilst officiating afterwards, Heeley annoyed some of the congregation. But on Wednesday Mr Blacksmith came to me with much apparent contrition and gave me five pounds as a commutation for punishment, which I sent immediately to the Society for promoting Christian knowledge. Heeley also came the same day, but without any appearance of penitence, and gave me seven pounds, which I have appropriated, wholly, to the Poor of this Parish. Dec 2nd, 1818.

Fenland Scene by J. Lamnier. (c) Rossendale Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Fenland Scene by J. Lamnier. (c) Rossendale Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The saga didn’t end there though:

On Sunday, December 20th, 1818, Jane Blacksmith, the mother and Staveley Blacksmith, the brother of the above named Joseph Blacksmith; grossly insulted me, the moment I came out of the church, without any provocation or shadow of reason. This I reported to the Arch Deacon, who sent a severe monition to the Church Wardens, which threw the whole parish into consternation; and at two Vestry meetings, after Staveley Blacksmith, Thomas Allen and John Burton, had affirmed the grossest falsehoods, which Blacksmith ad Burton acknowledged themselves to swear in court. After bringing a Holbeach attorney into the vestry to intimidate me, they all to a man promised to protect me from all insult in future. Staveley Blacksmith declared he never thought of insulting me in his life!!! This was the consequence of truth and resolution on my part. Sam’l Oliver, Curate.

or even here:

Thursday October 7th, 1819

This day the aforesaid Joseph Blacksmith came to my house and with much fulsome compliment and pretended penitence for his improper conduct on the 8th November last, he sat and drank some ale; also about half a bottle of wine. When, upon going away, finding no person in the kitchen, he deliberately set fire to some linen which was upon the clothes horse, before the kitchen fire and then endeavouring to run off! But the kitchen door (going into the porch) being difficult for him to get open, and the servant maid coming suddenly upon him; he could not escape, without detection and his diabolical purpose of involving the premises in flames, proved abortive! – Thus was my family miraculously preserved. Sam’l Oliver, Curate.

Thursday July 20th, 1820

This day at the funeral of the widow Delia Rose, the aforesaid Joseph Blacksmith came into the church, walked in a becoming manner up the middle aisle, he passed the pulpit, entered his pew and sat down., but whilst I was reading the lesson he bawled out, in a hoarse voice, ‘aren’t I to speak‘, and shortly after, before the lesson was ended, he said something else, which I could not correctly understand, but he said it in a manner which evidently conveyed an idea of intentional insult. He then followed me to the grave of the said Delia Rose, where he twice attempted to push me down whilst performing the ceremony, by throwing himself with violence against the portable shed under which I stood, made an inarticulate noise to burlesque the service, placing himself before me with a horsewhip in his hand, which he has been in the habit of using upon other people very dexterously and therefore I felt myself extremely apprehensive of experiencing its effects upon my own shoulders, before I could finish the service and make my escape.

I will leave you read in his own hand, Samuel Oliver’ final thoughts on his parish!!!

10 thoughts on “The Eccentric Lincolnshire Vicar who keeps on giving

  1. all of them are against him.
    Everyone else insults him
    He is RIGHT and they are WRONG.
    Schoolmaster – you’re fired!
    Hmmm, narcissistic personality disorder anyone?

    I think if I lived in his parish, if I wasn’t already a Methodist, I’d become one

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah Murden

      It was very much a rural area, about 50 miles from Lincoln. It would appear that Oliver was appointed as he was experienced, he would have been in his late 50s, early 60s at the time of writing his notes, but this doesn’t seem to have been a happy place for him.


  2. pennyhampson2

    Whaplode certainly seemed to have more than its fair share of eccentrics, the vicar, Blacksmith family, and Heeley the overseer. Wonder how much we can rely on Samuel Oliver’s testimony?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah Murden

      I think it did at that time to be fair! I suspect it’s possibly six of one and half a dozen of the other really, but of course we only have one side of things don’t we?!


  3. Boy, does he sound like the kind of self important jerk every small town needs in a position of state sponsored religious authority.

    That last rant……..YOWCH! I do, however, like the almost jauntily defiant printed signature at the end. His last hurrah!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s interesting to me how you can be digging through old church records–Lancashire in one case, and the minister is recording Christenings…BASTARD. He Christened the BASTARD child of Ann so and so. I mean, it’s very important to know the child is a BASTARD so the Parish knows it will be a future burden for them, potentially, but for the purposes of infusing the little thing with the spirit of God, or whatever bit of light the church can spare, doesn’t that seem overly Oliver-ish?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sarah Murden

          It was quite common for illegitimate children to be identified as such in parish registers we’ve looked at around the country, but Oliver also added other comments to that fact – not always very politely! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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