Scandal in the Church: Dr. Edward Drax Free, 1764-1843

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A&C Black, Jan 1, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 180 pages
Scandal in the Church reconstructs the extraordinary story of Dr Edward Drax Free DD, the Rector of Sutton in Bedfordshire, and the sequence of events that led, following a series of court battles, to his deprivation in 1830. Free is the only Church of England clergyman since 1800 to have rivalled the notorious Harold Davidson, the Rector of Stiffkey, defrocked in 1932 following the disclosure of his links with prostitutes. Dr Free was a Fellow of StJohn's College and Vicar of St Giles, Oxford, whose behaviour had been so outrageous that the college had considered expelling him. In the event, they were only too glad to appoint him the living of Sutton when it fell vacant in 1808. He soon offended his new parishioners, failing to perform his duties, selling the lead off the church roof and allowing pigs to desecrate the graveyard. Free quarrelled with all and sundry, both when sober and drunk. He kept pornographic literature and seduced a series of housekeepers, producing five illegitimate children, besides causing at least one of the women to miscarry. Extraordinarily, he would have probably kept his benefice had he not been inept enough also to offend the local gentry family, the Burgoynes, over a burial in their family vault. Montague Burgoyne laid a complaint on behalf of the village that eventually led to Free's deprivation in the Court of Arches.
 

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Contents

Sutton and the Housekeepers
15
The Parish Priest
35
Battling with the Burgoynes
57
The Trials of Dr Free
75
End Game
101
Epilogue
123
Appendices
141
Bibliography
169
Copyright

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About the author (1997)

Author deceased.

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