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100 years ago: The Lords and a Leeper

08 July 2022

July 7th, 1922.

THERE is nothing evasive about the Lord Chancellor. One of his latest downright Put-that-in-your-pipe-and-smoke-it — Comb-that-out-of-your-beard replies in the House of Lords was evoked by Lord Gisborough’s catalogue of alleged illegal practices by the Rev. H. H. Leeper, whom the Lord Chancellor recently presented to the living of Fincham St Martin with St Michael, Downham Market. From Lord Gisborough’s question, the Lord Chancellor said, “one would conclude that some official accusation had been made against Mr Leeper, but in the course of the inquiries of the Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Discipline it was found that a certain gentleman from Tooting in the employ of the Church Association — a body engaged in stirring up charges and bitterness against clergymen of a certain school of thought — went to the trouble of making a journey to Devonport (where Mr Leeper then was) — the emissary’s expenses having been paid — and made on his return certain charges.” Amidst laughter, the Lord Chancellor said that it would be ridiculous to recapitulate the charges made by “this Tooting pilgrim”. He also informed the House that the Church Association had offered the same material to more than one noble lord, who, however, had refused to use it. He concluded with a remarkable testimony to Mr Leeper, and said, “No passports can be more competent than that he has spent most of his life in arduous work, and it is amazing that after eighteen years this tittle-tattle from Tooting should be brought forward.” We are not surprised to read that Lord Gisborough, making “what appeared to be a protest at the Lord Chancellor’s language”, rose and left the chamber.

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