An Extraordinary Charge Against a Clergyman is an excellent account of the fascinating and perhaps bewildering life of the clergyman the Reverend Edward Muckleston MA by Janet Mackleston.
I was already aware of the Reverend Edward Muckleston and his unusual life so I was intrigued to read this biography of his life.
We learn that he was a self-centred and rather selfish man who behaved in ways that seem, even to modern eyes, to have been antipathetic to his calling and vocation as a priest in the Church of England.
For example, how was he able to square with his calling and his own conscience the extraordinary fact that he declined to pay his washerwoman, was an inveterate dodger of fares on the railways or that he had deliberately and maliciously damaged the trees owned by a neighbour?
Edward was born into a family of well to do Shropshire landowners. But he managed to lose all of it, resulting in terrible suffering for his own family. Due to his rather unfortunate ways (to put it mildly) he was forced to resign from the parish in Shropshire and he was able to find a position in a smaller parish in the county of Warwickshire.
Despite the fact that he was the parish priest there for nearly 50 years (48 to be exact) he was forced to attend court many times to defend the validity of his appointment to that parish. In fact he died whilst serving as the priest there.
Janet Mackleston (who has a family connection to this story) is a member of the Shropshire Family History Society and was able to piece together his rather extraordinary life using stories from contemporary newspapers and local history archives.
She was surprised about what she found and is able to share this with her readers who will be as intrigued as I was.
This book is another of my picks for an ideal Christmas gift.
It's published by The Book Guild at £9.99.