Plundering Graveyards for Firewood: William Benbow’s Crimes of the Clergy and the Specter of the Evil Priest

Suzanne L. Barnett

The dead are sleeping in their sepulchres:
And, mouldering as they sleep, a thrilling sound,
Half sense half thought, among the darkness stirs,
Breathed from their wormy beds all living things around,
And, mingling with the still night and mute sky,
Its awful hush is felt inaudibly.
— Percy Bysshe Shelley

“A Summer Evening Churchyard, Lechlade, Gloucestershire” (1815)

Until the nineteenth century, the churchyard and its companion, the graveyard, remained the center—spiritual, social, and often literal—of English life. To cite merely one of the best-known examples, Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751) was immediately popular and cemented the graveyard school conceit of a speaker who stops in or by a graveyard and surveys the surrounding countryside, allowing him not only to ponder his own mortality but also to gain a god’s eye view of the society splashed around the cemetery’s borders.[1] When Gray’s speaker remarks on “some frail memorial” that “Implores the passing tribute of a sigh” (78-80), he recognizes that the English liked to keep their dead—or at least their memorials to their dead—close. However, for the free-thinkers and infidels of the 1800s-1830s, the kindly village clergyman of the eighteenth-century imagination had become a morally suspect figure whose allegiance to his supposed flock could no longer be trusted, his tidy churchyard a potential den of moral iniquity and venality. Reformer and publisher William Benbow’s The Crimes of the Clergy, or the Pillars of Priest-Craft Shaken (1823) exemplifies this growing distrust of the priesthood and changing attitudes towards the traditional English graveyard. The text’s salacious smorgasbord of clerical crimes—a type of Newgate Calendar of priestly offenses—both reflects contemporary anxieties about the questionable allegiances of the clergy and offers readers methods of resisting the Church of England’s hegemony.[2]

At the turn of the nineteenth century, the traditional image of village churches and graveyards as the sentimental and moral hearts of everyday Englishmen was challenged by two concomitant factors that forever changed the timbre of daily English life. The first was, of course, increased urbanization and the general population shift from the countryside to the city. An early-nineteenth-century villager could no longer assume that he would spend his life passing daily by the same cemetery in which his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were buried; he and his peers were more likely to leave their increasingly deserted villages to seek employment in the new factories of urban centers like Manchester, Liverpool, or London. Given that England was also at war with France for most of the first two decades of the nineteenth century, there was also a good chance that this hypothetical villager might die on the battlefields of Belgium or off the coast of Spain, and his body would never return to join its forefathers or become a pilgrimage spot for his bereaved survivors.

Another significant change to English attitudes towards cemeteries as centers of everyday life involves the clergy and both its role in the day-to-day lives of English citizens and its associations with the political and financial revolutions of the late Romantic period. The progressively urban populace generated a burgeoning middle class that was becoming increasingly fed up with their disenfranchisement and the draconian measures taken by the government to stifle speech, assembly, and the press, including the Two Acts of 1795 and the Six Acts of 1819. In this Romantic period of looming revolution and widespread momentums for political and social reform, Church of England clergymen occupied a vexed space in between the middle class and the gentry. On the one hand, clergymen were automatically considered socially “respectable” regardless of their birth—even Jane Austen’s haughty Lady Catherine de Bourgh, for example, deigns to recognize the odious Mr. Collins and his wife socially—and regardless of the revenues provided by their livings, which could range widely from a modest curacy of £50 per year to the lavish incomes of lucky bishops or opportunistic pluralists (who are discussed below). This automatic respectability was not a privilege afforded to the vast majority of aspiring-to-middle-class Britons and social reformers who had to struggle to be taken seriously by the upper classes. Moreover, the Church of England was (and to some extent remains) the state religion of Britain: the Supreme Governor of the Church of England is the reigning monarch, twenty-six bishops and archbishops sit in the House of Lords, and dissenters and other non-Anglicans who refused to accept the Thirty-Nine Articles were denied entrance to Oxford University until the University Reform Act of 1854 and unable to hold government positions until the repeal of the Test Act in 1824. So especially within reform circles, Church of England clergymen became increasingly suspect and viewed as potential government mouthpieces and tools of the state.

So-called “infidel” literature and lectures were increasingly common, especially in London, despite seemingly never-ending waves of government crackdowns; on any given day one could visit any number of radical publishers and procure a copy of Percy Shelley’s Queen Mab (first published by Shelley in 1813, then pirated by Richard Carlile throughout the 1820s), with its emphatic rejections of Christian doctrine, skeptical works by Thomas Paine, Baron D’Holbach, or William Drummond, or any number of works of comparative mythology or science that were throwing doubt on the biblical narrative of creation and suggesting alternatives to Christian dogma. Or one might attend a theatrical performance by Robert Taylor (also known as the “Devil’s Chaplain,” “His Satan Majesty’s chaplain,” and the “Archbishop of Pandameonium”), who took the stage in full priestly pontificals and performed a grotesque mock church service complete with fake communion while invoking “Satan, Beezlebub, Baal, Peor, Belial, Lucifier, Abbaddon, Appolyon, thou King of the Bottomless Pit, thou King of Scorpions” or engage in spirited debates in any number of coffee houses or zetetic societies that were proliferating throughout both rural and urban areas.[3] Alternatives to Christianity were emerging everywhere, and the fact that most of the radical speakers and publishers in this period were tried for the religious crime of blasphemy—which was considered an easier conviction for the government prosecutors than sedition or treason—implicitly pitted the reformers against the clergy in the battle of a free press and political reform. Many high-profile radical reformers (including Taylor, Richard Carlile, Eliza Sharples, and others discussed below) began to reject the state-supported Church of England as a corrupt government institution and organized religion in general as an unnecessary distraction from the real work of political and social reform.[4]

However, both custom and law still dictated the use of parish priests for certain rites and rituals, including marriage, baptisms, and de rigueur churchyard burials, and many radicals began to bristle at the idea of survivors paying priests for the necessity of laying the dead to rest. In the pages of the weekly newspaper The Isis, Richard Carlile—radical publisher and high-profile martyr to the cause of a free press—rails against both the practice of using scarce urban land for the disposal of corpses and the necessity of paying priests to accommodate such a necessity:

It is really monstrous and noxious that any small spot of artificial mould should be made a dunghill in the midst of a city, by the constant burial of human bodies, and this merely because of the clerical fees thereby derived. To bury the dead in the midst of a city, is a piece of reckless barbarism, connected with the corruption of the Christian church, and encouraged as a foul emolument to its clergy. No Pagan government ever tolerated such an evil, as that the dead should be constantly thrown up from the earth in the faces of the living, by having a few feet of ground devoted to the burials of a parish, on which the living inhabitants could not lie down side by side, and to be so confined, because this spot is the clergyman’s freehold property, and because he has performed an incantation over it! (359)[5]

Carlile here identifies the “clerical fees”—the clergy’s “foul emolument”—as the primary reason that this “monstrous” practice of urban churchyard burial is still the norm. He then relates a story from the True Sun newspaper about a baker who was laid to rest by his friends and a Methodist parson to avoid paying the local clergyman Mr. Wood “a fee of ten guineas for breaking the ground” in the churchyard (359). Carlile claims “this is how it should be,” since it is “nonsense to suppose that a priest can charm a piece of ground,” and he urges the English public to explore alternatives to traditional churchyard burials. Eliza Sharples, Carlile’s second wife and the “editress” of The Isis, echoes this sentiment in her address to her readers on September 22, 1832 when she praises the inhabitants of the parish of St. Giles in Cripplegate for refusing to pay tithes and church rates that she claims are exorbitant and destructive to the common good. While she acknowledges that fees for marriages and christenings are “at present essential” for practical and legal reasons, she urges her readers to boycott the practice of churchyard funerals: “I would prefer burial any where or any kind of disposition of the body to a burial with a heavy fee in a foul church-yard” (Isis 497). Carlile eventually enacted this philosophy by donating his body to science, as did his contemporary Jeremy Bentham, who took the idea perhaps even further by refusing to be buried at all: after his public dissection, Bentham’s remains were preserved and are still on display in a wooden cabinet at University College London.[6]

The church had filled a vital role in village life by providing a routine as well as a spiritual and practical hub, but such a hub, argued these urban radicals, was no longer necessary in the city, where the void could be filled by coffee shops, zetetic societies, meeting houses, lecture halls, debate clubs, and any number of activities that could bring together a populace without the expenses and—according to infidels like Carlile and Sharples—deleterious effects of organized religion.

A product of this environment, Benbow’s The Crimes of the Clergy, or the Pillars of Priest-Craft Shaken (1823) reflects the widespread dissatisfaction among working-class political radicals with the state-run church and its venal and corrupt clergy who, they suspected, no longer represented their interests. Benbow was a nonconformist preacher and radical publisher active in Spencean and trade unionist circles and, like most publishers of this era, occasionally published pornography to keep himself afloat financially.[7] Crimes of the Clergy initially appears to be an attack on the widespread practice of pluralism, when a clergyman holds more than one living and may be present little or not at all in one or more of them, generally hiring a curate to perform the minimum necessary duties associated with that living.[8] The frontispiece (fig. 1), entitled “Pluralists,” features a towering, overstuffed priest with a church in each palm, one on each shoulder, and another balanced on his head.

Fig. 1: Frontispiece to The Crimes of the Clergy, or the Pillars of Priest-Craft Shaken (1823). Image courtesy of Internet Archive: <>.

Piglets and fowl—presumably some produce from his multiple livings—peek from underneath his arms and from his pockets, and he proclaims “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” while the parishioners cower in terror beneath the pluralist’s haughty gaze and imposing bulk.

Despite this initial focus on pluralism, however, Benbow’s text eventually reveals itself to be not an attack on that practice specifically, and not even a general condemnation of the state of the clergy, but a specific, targeted attack against particular clergymen—called out by name and location—who have engaged in behavior that, according to Benbow, must be exposed to public attention. Of special interest to Benbow are members of the Society for Suppression of Vice (SSV), founded in 1802 to root out immorality and blasphemy in Britain; as a publisher, Benbow particularly chafed at the Society’s emphasis on suppressing the free press and enforcing the stamp duty on newspapers.[9] Benbow delights in pointing out the sins of SSV members—often high-placed men like “Shute Barrington, Vice-President of the Vice Society, Bishop of Durham, &c” (81)—of what he calls “a GANG” that is “in place of an exterminator, a hot-bed and a nourisher of vice and corruption in its most hideous forms” (82), and he elsewhere refers to the organization as the “Society for Spreading Vice” (170).[10] He argues in the introduction that “The demoralizing and persecuting disposition of the Clergy has done more to shake the pillars of religions in the estimation of many, than all the reasoning of a Hume, a Gibbon, a Priestly, or a Paine, ever spoke or wrote” and that Christianity itself is not the problem; it is the reprehensive behavior of a privileged and coddled clergy fed on the tithes of the common people that has sunk England into the muck of corruption and venality (2-3; emphases in original). What follows is an astounding and self-consciously scandalous collection of stories and rumors about specific clergymen who have engaged in a gamut of profane behavior from child molestation, robbery, drunkenness, rape, gluttony, seduction, and other acts of moral depravity, recounted in sizzling subtitles that read like the titles of juicy broadsides:

VILE ACTIONS OF THE REVEREND SEPTIMUS HODGSON, Child violator,             formerly Chaplain to the Orphan Asylum, Westminster Road (27-28)[11]

FATHER-IN-GOD, PERCY JOCELYN, LORD-BISHOP OF CLOGHER, Commissioner of the Board of Education, Member of the Society for Relief of Foreigners in Distress, Distributor of Bibles, and Member of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, charged with divers nasty, wicked, filthy, lewd, beastly, and unnatural practices (41-44)

PARSON CHISHOLM, Of Hammersmith, who has Five Bastard Children by Sarah             Heals, alias Mrs. Scott, who resides at No. 5, William Street, Pimlico (62-65)

THE REV. PARSON ROBSON, Rector of St. Mary’s, Whitechapel, Seducer of Innocence, Sojourner with Harlots, an Oppressor of the Poor, and Member of the

Vice Society (71-74)

Benbow not only identifies these wayward clergymen by name but is careful to update his readers on the priests’ current whereabouts, if known, making Crimes of the Clergy part public shame spectacle and part nineteenth-century To Catch a Predator (2004-2007), the hidden-camera reality television program that exposed sexual predators for both education and entertainment.

In exposing these “rotten sheep of the Lord’s fold,” Benbow participates in the widespread attacks on “priestcraft” and the organized church that were hallmarks of many radical reformers in this period—one could attend a meeting at Blackfriars Rotunda or visit the shops of Samuel Waddington or even Benbow himself and find numerous texts decrying the influence of the church or, as Carlile frequently stated, “DOWN WITH KINGS, PRIESTS, AND LORDS” (24).[12] But two of Benbow’s foci that recur throughout several of his tales of sinful clergymen are anxiety about graves and funeral rites and the sometimes cavalier attitudes demonstrated by priests towards this sacred duty, as well as hostility regarding the price of those supposedly necessary rites. One of the most sensational of Benbow’s fallen clergymen stories is “THE DEXTEROUS FORNICATOR; AN ACCOUNT OF T. HEPPEL, A Methodist Preacher, better known in the Northern Counties by the name of Miss Jane Davison,” the tale of an itinerant “Petticoat Minister” who was actually a man in disguise and used his privileged status to impregnate both daughters of the farmer Mr. Hastings, from whom he also stole twenty guineas (35-37).[13] The final straw, however, was when Heppel was caught “stealing dead bodies in York” and was subsequently transported (36). One “beastly drunkard,” Parson Griffiths of Manchester, is called out for being so intoxicated while performing a funeral that he fell headfirst into the open grave, then displayed “blasphemous wit” by joking about the “grave business” in which he was engaged (122). In the “ACCOUNT OF THE HONOURABLE AND REV. WILLIAM CAPEL. Rector of Watford, Hertfordshire, Bon Vivant, Fox-hunter, Farmer, Crop-buyer, Horse-dealer, and General Lover,” the good reverend was at his dinner when the funeral procession of a young woman arrived at his church. He said “let it wait, for I won’t leave my dinner to bury even the corpse of a Saint!” (28-30). After keeping the mourners waiting for four hours, he is only motivated by a note from the deceased’s sister who, as it turns out, was “the kept mistress of a nobleman high in the ministry: and he who feared not God, feared the ‘vengeance of a harlot,’” since the sister had used her influence to report to his bishop Capel’s lack of reverence for funeral rites (29).

One of Benbow’s longer and more pathetic tales about the priestly dereliction of funereal duties involves St. Ann’s Churchyard and the coffin of “the child of Mr. Nott, No. 5, Richmond Street,” which was “deprived of its covering, after being ten months buried” (58-62). Some children playing near the churchyard saw some scrap wood that had been flung aside for kindling, and they noticed that one piece was the lid of young Nott’s coffin. They took the lid to Mr. Nott, who convened a meeting of the vestry clerks, sextons, and other responsible parties, who assured Mr. Nott that the child’s body had not been removed, even though the coffin had been pulled apart for firewood—a common practice, they claimed—and urged Nott to keep the issue a secret (which, apparently, he did not). Benbow calls the clergymen “villains” for disturbing a child’s grave in order to save space and appropriate the coffin wood and exclaims that:

at this rate every one that buries his friend or relation in a coffin is only contributing to a stock of firewood for the kitchens of parish officers. The resurrection man is innocent compared to such body strippers,—he can plead the benefits accruing to anatomy and the future salvation of life for furnishing a dead body to the surgeons. (59)

Grave robbers at least contribute to society by providing the means of advancing scientific research; the villainous clergymen of St. Ann’s parish plunder child coffins merely for personal gain. Benbow identifies a triple-bodied “selfish motive” behind the clergy’s behavior: by smashing the used coffins, they gain a nearly unlimited supply of free firewood, they can resell the coffins either whole or in pieces, and in the process they can free up valuable churchyard real estate so that they can charge more fees for additional burials (59). Here Benbow quotes two lines from Gray’s “Elegy”—“Even from the tomb the voice of nature cries, / Even in our ashes live their hallowed fires” (95-96)—while he meditates on the St. Ann’s situation. Inspired by Gray, he muses on how “we are accustomed to look with reverence and respect to the place were repose the ashes of forms once so dear to us in a state of existence” and how a walk through a graveyard necessarily inspires “meditative moods” (59, 60).

He turns once again to Gray’s “Elegy,” quoting the four lines (“Hark! […] A grateful earnest of eternal peace”) that originally closed the early drafts of that poem and wonders how far we have fallen if the sincerity of Gray’s poetic graveyard has been replaced by one in which the grave of a child is “robbed to light a fire before which gluttons and drunkards assemble, where a future state is never thought of, and a breathless body held in contempt” (60). Benbow ends this story by calling out the St. Ann’s clergymen for what is at the very least “gross neglect” and urging the parishioners to exercise vigilance (60). But the very next section is entitled “TO THE PARISHIONERS OF ST. ANN’S SOHO, &c,” and not coincidentally, its purpose is to inspire those citizens to question their parish rates, which are “already almost too grievous to be borne” (61). He reminds them of the aforementioned “coffin plundering” as he urges them to consider that they pay for the attendance of the clergymen and should expect results—or at least basic decency—from their ten percent. Benbow returns to this topic with “THE BATTLE OF THE STUDENTS AT CAMBRIDGE, On account of the Petition Against the Tithe System,” which system he immediately identifies as “the primary cause of the dissentions between church incumbents and laymen,” and claims ominously that “Priest-craft will find that it has gone too far, when it proceeds to throw the mask of decency aside, and leave its pillars exposed to the shock of every rude invader” (91, 94).

This idea that citizens are already paying one-tenth of their income for tithes and as such deserve at least basic decency and competency from their clergy is another of Benbow’s targets. As with Sharples’s and Carlile’s criticism of the “foul emolument” of church fees on top of existing tithes, Benbow attacks the additional fees levied for basic, necessary services:

In the first place, the parson of my parish, ‘at one fell swoop,’ seizes the tenth of all I have got: would not any one conceive this a liberal payment for all the services he can make me in return, and a full acquittal of all demands upon me ? It is not so: if I wish to get married—if I have a child to christen—to confirm—to put in the grave—the parson must again be paid in fees, or I may, for aught he cares, live in fornication, my child be brought up an infidel, or remain unburied like a brute beast. These are facts which come home to every bosom, and bear the mark of imposition about them, like the brand of Cain, which all men may know. (104)

When Mr. Cott spoke out against this injustice of his son’s plundered coffin, he was “shamefully abused in the vestry room by the Overseers, Churchwardens, and others in conclave assembled” and “assailed in the streets with repeated abuse from the constables and others connected with the vestry” for allegedly bringing the parish into public disgrace (195). Benbow’s reaction is to print the street address of Cott’s shoe shop so that readers might patronize this “honest poor man who is the object of [the clergymen’s] vengeance” because he did “not patiently submit to the violation of his infant’s tomb, but expresses his manly indignation” at the injustice of a corrupt and uncaring clergy (195-196). So like Bentham’s, Sharples’s, or Carlile’s proffered alternatives to paying extortive burial fees, Benbow’s text suggests to readers small but effective means of resistance: remember the ostensible purpose of the communal graveyard, buy shoes from the beleaguered Mr. Cott, question clerical fees, and above all, keep a wary eye on your local clergyman.

Crimes of the Clergy offers a glimpse at some of the issues surrounding graveyards as centers of both meditation and controversy in the first decades of the nineteenth century. On the one hand, there remained the basic human need for mourning rituals and the tradition of clergy-led funerals in churchyards that were the center of English life; on the other hand, those churchyards had lost some of their centrality in the hearts and lives of English men and women, and the kindly parish priest was less universally revered than he had been even one generation earlier. Benbow’s repeated invocations of Gray’s “Elegy” serve to remind us just how far English society had changed since that meditation was written halfway through the previous century; it is difficult to imagine Sterne’s Parson Yorick smashing a child’s coffin for firewood so he might squeeze a few more fee-generating corpses into an overcrowded burial ground. But for the political radicals and free-thinkers of the early nineteenth century, the obligatory churchyard burial by a paid priest was becoming an option, no longer an inevitability, and the traditional centrality of the churchyard grave became another casualty in an era of skepticism and widespread social change.


[1] Charles Cudworth claims that “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” is “a work which probably contains more famous quotations per linear inch of text than any other in the English language, not even excepting Hamlet” Cudworth, “Thomas Gray and Music,” The Musical Times 112 (1541 (July 1971)): 646–648.

[2] The Clergy of the Church of England Database ( makes available over 130,000 public clerical records between 1540 and 1835 culled from over fifty archives.

[3] Christina Parolin, Radical Spaces: Venues of popular politics in London, 1790–c. 1845 (Canberra, Australia: ANU E Press, 2010).

[4] For more on the rise of atheism and secularism in the early nineteenth century see Colin Jager, Unquiet Things: Secularism in the Romantic Age (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015); Martin Priestman, Romantic Atheism: Poetry and Freethought, 1780–1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Robert M. Ryan, The Romantic Reformation: Religious politics in English Literature, 1789-1824 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); Daniel E. White, Early Romanticism and Religious Dissent (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

[5] The Isis. A London Weekly Publication, edited by a Lady [Eliza Sharples]. V.1, Feb. 11 – Dec. 15, 1832. (London: D. France, 1834).

[6] UCL’s Bentham Project website——provides a history of the auto-icon and a “Virtual auto-icon” feature that allows the user a 360-degree view of Bentham’s remains.

In spring 2018, Bentham’s auto-icon was moved from UCL for the first time; from March through July 2018, it was on display in New York at the Met Breuer’s show “Like Life: Sculpture, Color and the Body, 1300-now” [include hyperlink:]

[7] See: Iain McCalman, Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries, and Pornographers in London, 1795-1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

[8] In chapter 25 of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, Sir Thomas Bertram rails against this practice: “a parish has wants and claims which can be known only by a clergyman constantly resident, and which no proxy can be capable of satisfying to the same extent. Edmund might, in the common phrase, do the duty of Thornton, that is, he might read prayers and preach, without giving up Mansfield Park: he might ride over every Sunday, to a house nominally inhabited, and go through divine service; he might be the clergyman of Thornton Lacey every seventh day, for three or four hours, if that would content him. But it will not. He knows that human nature needs more lessons than a weekly sermon can convey; and that if he does not live among his parishioners, and prove himself, by constant attention, their well–wisher and friend, he does very little either for their good or his own.” Earlier, in chapter 9, Edmund had spoken out against the impersonality of urban curacy: “We do not look in great cities for our best morality. It is not there that respectable people of any denomination can do most good; and it certainly is not there that the influence of the clergy can be most felt. A fine preacher is followed and admired; but it is not in fine preaching only that a good clergyman will be useful in his parish and his neighbourhood, where the parish and neighbourhood are of a size capable of knowing his private character, and observing his general conduct, which in London can rarely be the case. The clergy are lost there in the crowds of their parishioners.” [Include hyperlink:]

[9] See M.J.D. Roberts, Making English Morals: Voluntary Association And Moral Reform In England, 1787-1886 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

[10] “The early days of the vice-president were one continual round of dissipation. His fame as a fox-hunter and gambler will be immortal in the North, where he was the Nimrod of the turf, and the Lothario of the drawing-room, for years. By his familiar name of Shute Barrington he is known to hundreds who would stare if told he was a bishop. His intrigues would fill a volume, and have furnished Newcastle, the metropolis of the North, with scandal, novels, and songs, for more than half a century. Many an innocent woman has lost her reputation from merely having once danced with him at a ball, or been whispered to by him in a box at the theatre: he was moreover a complete puppy in dress, and a jackanapes in manners. […] Mr. Barrington had as many nieces as Pope Alexander Borgio, and an equal number of grand children. Two of his house-keepers produced families in my day, and he, good easy man, promoted them to ‘eat of his bread, and drink of his cup,’ as though they were the fruit of his own loins.” (82-83; emphases in original).

[11] Of Hodgson—who impregnated a thirteen-year-old orphan in his care—Benbow writes, “The Monk of Lewis’s novel was not more infamous, and whilst outwardly attending to the salvation of the helpless Orphans’ souls, he was inwardly meditating the ruin of both body and soul” (27).

[12] “The priests of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, are as great an evil to the people of those two islands as the priests of Spain are to Spain [etc.]; and by priests, I mean, all who preach the name of God. […] The man is a social villain, a thief, a pickpocket, a cheat, a liar, who preaches to another man in the name of God. The priests teach nothing useful. They know nothing of what they do preach. […] Down with the priests. There can be no general human welfare, where they are allowed to hold influence.” Richard Carlile, “The consequences of having kings, and priests, and lords” (The Prompter, June 18, 1831).

[13] Miss Jane Davison “lived in the house with [Hastings’] two daughters, fine buxom lasses under twenty years of age; in process of time, they both proved ‘great with child,’ to the horror of their religious parent.” Davison “was in fact a man in woman’s garments, a real ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing,’ ‘seeking whom he might devour;’ he persuaded both these girls, unknown to each other, to confide to him the care of their wardrobes, and agreed to meet them at different parts of the town, where he was to convey them away; he never kept his appointment, but went off with their little all and twenty guineas, of which he had robbed the father” (36).