Charges laid against Mr Hill, the vicar of Ellastone
Charges laid against Mr Hill, the vicar of Ellastone ( Click to zoom in )

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Charges laid against Mr Hill, the vicar of Ellastone, 1642

SRO Q/SR/251
©Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service

The complaints of the inhabitants reveal the complex tensions in local society as national politics moved towards civil war. The inhabitants favour the parliamentarian reforms of church furniture in article one but reject the names puritan and roundhead as insults in article 2. The widespread fear that under Charles I and his Archbishop of Canterbury , William Laud, Roman Catholicism was secretly favoured was going to be strengthened by Mr Hill’s familiarity with local Catholics as well as his preaching of one of Catholicism’s key doctrines that a priest could absolve sins.

The powers of the state in religion are seen in article 4 and 5 where the inhabitants’ attempt hire a preacher more to their taste is prevented by the rights of the vicar to maintain the monopoly of preaching in his parish and his involvement of the church courts to enforce doctrinal conformity would be another source of resentment. 20 nobles is a sum of £13 6s 8d


Some thinges in discovery of the quality of Mr Hill the vicar or pastor of Ellason Submitted to the right worshipfull his Majestie’s Justicis of the peace

1. The raile above the Comunion table haveing been removed by the Church wardens according to the direction of the parliament and the table sett in due place, the said vicar sett it agayne to the wall alter wyse & saide it should stand soe and soe still remaineth.
2. Dyvers of the inhabitants subscrybeing to a petition directed to the parliamt for redresse of greevanis: the said vicar blamed those that subscribed & called one Raph Salt puritan Roundhead and foole for soe doinge with other reviling speeches
3. In a sermon on the Lords day he taught confession of sinnes to a preist that he might absolve them
4. Being moved by sundry of the inhabitants for his leave that an able preacher might be hyred by them & the choyce of dyvers names to that purpose he answered that none such should teach in his Cure
5. That hee sollicits sutes in Lichfeild Court and being trusted by one to procure his absolucion whoe gave him a Considerable summe of money to that purpose Hee nevertheles neclected it but caused the excommunicat to frequent the church 3 monthes space in which tyme the Chancellor signified him and an excommuncato capiendo comeing to the sherreffe it cost him 20 nobles the discharge
6. That hee usually frequents the company of popish recusants both in the alehouse and bowling ally & bowles butty with them loseing such protestant money as bet on his side

Attested by us

Richard Etherington
Thomas Hickenbotham Thomas Woodward
John Bull Thomas Smith
William Etherington John Sallt
John Ractlyffe William Hurd
Humfrey Langford
John Etherington

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