Extract from diary kept by Thomas Blackett of Hamsterley b1722. referring to the suspension of a vicar of the place
I was brought up in the Established religion but our Parson was a man guilty of drunkenness and swearing and it was proved he was drunk when he gave the Sacrament, as was alleged against him by the officers of the parish in the Bishops Court yet they would not deal with him; but he having married a man & a woman without a licence and the court being informed they soon sent out a bull or something like it and another parson is appointed to take his place.
The day being known some came to see what stir would be; but I attended as usual. When I came into the church there was great contention before the place called the Holy Altar and the parson had his hands wrapped in the hair of the Head of the Parish and was striking his legs with his feet. While this bustle was, the Bishop’s servant stept into the Reading Desk & began Prayers.
For the time all was hushed & everyone went into their seats, and the old Parson that was fighting, took possession of the Pulpit.
When prayers was over the other parson stept up to the Pulpit, but as the old parson was above him he kept his place until he thought fit to give it up to the other.
After there had many words passed between the clergymen & some of the parish, the one endeavouring to pull the other out of the Pulpit & some other violent means used to no purpose, the whole congregation thrown into the greatest confusion some crying others laughing, myself was greatly afflicted to see the place and men that I had looked upon as holy as the Temple in Jerusalem thus polluted & filled with bad words and fighting.
(Contributed by Mavis Brown-Humes)