You are in [People] [Clergy & Teachers] [Curates of Hungerford] [Rev Edward Otto Trevelyan]

The Rev Edward Otto Trevelyan is listed as a Curate of Hungerford between 1837-40. (It seems that Rev Tagg's list from c1970 had wrongly had Edward's brother G O Trevelyan as Curate at this time).

Christopher Legrove, Organist & Choirmaster, St. Mary's Stogumber, kindly contacted the Virtual Museum (Sep 2017) with the following information:

"I have been researching the history of my village church, St. Mary's Stogumber, in West Somerset.

In the course of my research I have come across some correspondence in the Penny Catholic Magazine of April 25th 1840 from Edward Otto Trevelyan, who was curate of Hungerford 1837 to 1840, before going on to be curate of Stogumber, (acting as Vicar for his brother, George Trevelyan, who was said to be mentally unwell).

The various letters are published on the internet, (see below), but the gist of it was that Edward Otto Trevelyan objected to members of the Bible Society holding meetings in his parish because as the resident established clergyman he saw this as his job. He had the support of the Bishop of Oxford; but I wonder whether this controversy precipitated a move away from the Diocese of Oxford and into Bath & Wells?"

Bernard Lane had coincidentally also spotted the artice, and Iris Lloyd published an extract of it in The Hungerford Bridge, Oct 2017.

Rev Edward Otto Trevelyan's provocative letter:

The full text is transcribed here:



The rector of Hungeford, in Berkshire has published the following:-

"To the Parishioners of Hungerford.

BROTHER PARISHIONERS - A notice has been posted throughout this parish that a meeting of a society, called the 'Bible Society' will be held here on the 7th of April.

All of you who are sincerely attached to the Church will be surprised when I tell you that this  notice was issued without any reference to me as clergyman of the parish, or in any way; being well aware that the distribution of the word of God is committed to me alone in this parish by the bishop of the diocese, and that I am in the habit of furnishing bibles and prayer-books to any parishioners, at the reduced rates of the 'Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge'.

 But it is now fit that you shoudl know that the clergy who attend this meeting (if any do attend it) comeinto my parish against my consent. I made it known publicly that I disapprove the principle and conduct of the Bible Society, and I remonstrated with two clergymen who have, in past years, attended the meetings here. Neither of them would give me any assurance that they would refrain from their intrusion.I then laid the case of the parish before the Bishop of Oxford, as bishop of the diocese, who was pleased to approve of what I had done, and to express his surprise that a clergyman should conduct himself as it appeared that the clergyman, whose letters I shower to his lordship, had done. But as neither of the clergymen to whom I allude were beneficed in Oxford diocese, the Bishop of Oxford could not interfere with them.

Accordingly, with his sanction, I applied to the Bishop of Salisbury, who was pleased to express himself to the effect that the clergymen, whose letters the Bishop of Oxford had seen and sent him, would have exercised a better discretion by declining to be presentat those meetings in my parish. I am informed that both these clergymen intend to be here on the occasion advertised in the notice. If they, particularly the clergyman whose uncanonical and irregular conduct in this behalf has broguth upon him the reproving notice of two bishops, will continue openly to set at naught the authorities and the canons, which by their ordination they are bound to obey, they place themselves out of the reach of any means of coercion which I can command.

As I have for the present failed to protect you from the intrusion of clergy and others into my parish, for the purpose of supporting a society, which, according to the doctrine of the Church of England, is heretical, it only remains that I should earnestly intreat you to 'mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them'.

 The Bible Society is a league of all sects and shapes of misbelief, for the purpose of distributing the letter of the Bible without insisting on the belief of its spirit. Baptists, Independents, Methodists, Quakers, Ranters, Socinians, Presbyterians, belong to it, and there is no law of the society to forbid Infidels. Is this a Christian society? Can all these be right? Can they mean what you and I do in our reading and our circulating the holy bible? No, God forbid.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowshiphath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?

And what concord hath Christ with Belial; or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (2 Cor vi. 14,15)

I am, your affectionate parish priest and servant,


April 4th 1840."

Strong responses to Rev Edward Otto Trevelyans provocative letter:

The Morning Chronicle says "This is a strange document. If it contains a correct representationof the doctrine of the Church of England, the man who puts the Bible into the hand of another, except hebe authorised so to do by the bishop of a diocese, is guilty of a crime. The Rev. Edward Otto Trevelyan says 'the distribution of the word of God is committed to me alone in this parish;' and that it is heretical, according to the doctrine of the Church of England, for any person except himself to place a Bible in the hands of any parishioner of Hungerford.

 'The Bible Society', says the reverend gentleman, 'is a league of all sects and shapes and misbelief, for the purpose of distributiing the letter of the Bible, without insisting on the belief of its spirit. Baptists, Independents, Methodists, Quakers, Ranters, Socinians, Presbyterians, belong to it, and there is no law of the society to forbid Infidels.'

But what has this to do with the Bible? The Bible is either the word of God, or it is not. If the Bible be the word of God, how can that word be affected by the belief of individuals, who are merely accessory to its distribution? The reverend gentleman might just as well insist that the Bible ought not to be printed by any one who does not belong to the Church of England, as it should not be distributed by such a person.

Some people may perceive a difference between the doctrine of the Pope in his encyclical letters against the Bible Societies and that in the address to the parishioners of Hungeford; but we can perceive none. The Cathloic priest who told his flock to lay hold of a Bible with a pair of tongs, and not to touch it with his hand, had this to say in his defence, that the Bible in question was not the translation of which his church approved. 

But the incumbent iof Hungerford objects to the reading of the version of the Bible authorised by the Church of England. The reading of the Church's own Bible, according to him, is injurious, if the Prayer-book be not read at the same time.

We perceive here the same logivwhich would prevent all education, except it be received through the agency of the Church of England. More is unquestionably included in a good education, than the mere ability to read and write; but how the ability to read and write, andy more than the reading of the Bible without the Prayer-book, should be injurious, is what we are at a loss to understand. The man who is deaf is deprived of an inlet of knowledge; and we wonder that the high Church Clergy do not insist on the benefit of plugging up the ears of men, as, from the natural corruptnessof man, he is more likely to be injured by the bad which he may hear, than benefit by the good. A man who, in addition to being deaf, should also be blind, would be still better."


What right has the Church of England to any superiority over other sects? If antiquity gave such a claim, the Catholics have the right as the most ancient. If Scriptural purity be the condition, then the universal Catholic Church; and all the Protestant sects in the world; and all the Eastern Christians; and all the Mahometans, and Jews, and Brahmins, and Buddists, and Confucians, and Parsees, and all the philosophers of France and Germany, - all these, we say, concur in declaring the Church of Enland to be false. Now, shall that creed which the whole human race condemn as false, be declared true by the British Legislature? Such an idea is too monstrous to be conceived, and yet it is a fact. Not only does the British Legislature declare this ridiculous system to be entitled to support from the state, but actually gives to it immense and exclusive privileges. One tenth of all the produce of the kingdom is devoted to the propagation of this world-condemned error; a monopoly of educationis established in its favour; a body of menprofessiong this error and teaching it are allowed to sit in the House of Lords, and to opposem on every occasion, the cause of truth and justice. Frightful powers of imprisonment and fine and possessed and exercised by this Church of Englad; and men are actually, at the present moment, dying in dungeons by the vindictive exertions of these irresponsible powers. Is this free Britain in the 19th century? Is this the tenth year of emancipation? And do men still endure tithes and church rates? But wonders never cease. Not only do these things exists, but the system is to be extended. Sir Robert Inglis, the worthy tool of such a priestcraft, declares 16,000churches insufficient; 16,000 chairs of error and falsehood, supported by insolent robbery and oppression, are not enough; there must be more of them built - hundreds more! thousands more! each costing hundreds, or thousands of pounds, wrung out of the starving poor; out of the poor Catholic and Dissenter for the dissemination of doctrines which he abhors, and for the calumniating himself and the religion he revered. Shall we out up with this? No, by eternal justice - the cup of iniquity runs over. Let it be returned to their own lips. Let all free, good, and wise men, unite in opposing the monstrous tyrrany. Let them not stop there; let them not only oppose the increase of the evil, but hasten its diminution, and bring about its final extinction.

It is contrary to justice and to common sense, that there should be a state church in a mixed population. It ought not, it cannot be; it must not, it shall not be; but above all, iniquity is the Established Church of Englad. Founded on fraud, cemented with blood, prolonged by ignorance, existing throughout by more that Carthaginian perfidity and cruelty! "Delenda est Carthago" - Phoenix.

What was the result of Rev Trevelyans outburst?

Interestingly, Rev Trevelyan was not the rector of Hungerford, nor the vicar, but he was the curate. Perhaps the vicar at the time, Rev William Cookson, was not very impressed at the inflamatory correspondence. Anyway, Rev Trevelyan moved to Stogumber in Somerset shortly after the correspondence, in 1840.

There is much more correspndence on this topic here: A letter to the editor of the British magazine, on the proceedings of the Bible society and some clergy, members of it, in the parish of Hungerford, April 1840. (from Google Books)

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Christopher Legrove added: "I have just spotted another link between E. O. Trevelyan and Hungerford: On your website you note the similarity between St Lawrence's Parish Church and St. Mary the Virgin, Bathwick. Edward Otto Trevelyan was curate of Hungerford 1837-40 (at the start of his ministry) and was buried in the cemetery of St. Mary the Virgin, Bathwick, as he moved from Stogumber to Ashwicke Hall (Gloucestershire) and presumably his funeral was held in that church."

See also:

A letter to the editor of the British magazine, on the proceedings of the Bible society and some clergy, members of it, in the parish of Hungerford, April 1840. (from Google Books)