The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Infamous Life of John Church, the St. George's Fields Preacher

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The Infamous Life of John Church, the St. George's Fields Preacher

Author: Anonymous

Release date: October 3, 2018 [eBook #58019]

Language: English


Transcribed from the 1817 Hay and Turner edition by David Price, email

Public domain book cover

Entered at Stationers’ Hall.


St. George’s Fields Preacher,

Sent in a Letter to the Rev. Mr. L—, two days after his Attack on
Adam Foreman, at Vauxhall, with Clerical Remarks by the
same Gentleman; to which is added, his

Love Epistles to E**** B****.


Together with various other Letters, particularly one to Cook, of Vere-
Street Notoriety.






&c. &c.

It has been justly remarked, by a celebrated writer, that “a sudden rise from a low station, as it sometimes shews to advantage the virtuous and amiable qualities, which could not exert themselves before, so it more frequently calls forth and exposes to view those spots of the soul which lay lurking in secret, cramped by penury, and veiled with dissimulation.”

John Church, the subject of the following pages, was found, when an infant, on the steps, or near the porch of a church (some say that of St. Andrew, in Holborn;) and the overseers of the parish not being able to discover who were his parents, or by whom he was thus abandoned, had him sent to the Foundling Hospital, where he received that name, which bears the nearest analogy to the place where he was found.  Here he remained until he was nine years old, when a complaint to the Governors having been made against him by the nurses, that he was addicted to improper and disgusting practices, it was thought prudent to apprentice him out at that early age, to obviate the possibility of the contagion spreading amongst the rest of the boys who partook of the bounties of that charity.  From his evident illiteracy, and from the badness of his writing, it is certain that he must have quitted the Hospital at an earlier age than usual, because, in general, none leave it who are not good scholars.  He was accordingly placed out as an apprentice to a Gilder, in Blackfriars Road.  Before the expiration of his indenture, he married and quitted the service of his master.  Shortly afterwards, he worked for a composition ornament maker, in Tottenham Court Road.  This immaculate Minister of the Gospel here commenced his religious career, and, under the assumed garb of sanctity, took upon him the office of a teacher to the Sunday School, at that time established at Tottenham Court Chapel.  Thinking that preaching was a better trade than that which he was employed in, this precious teacher, together with two other young men, hired a garret in the neighbourhood of Soho, where they used to learn the method of addressing themselves to a congregation.  An old chair was the substitute for a pulpit.  p. 4He now began (to use his own expression) “to gammon the old women.”—Good fortune happened at length to procure him the notice of Old Mother Barr, of Orange-street, who, being interested in his behalf, allowed him the use of a room of hers, in which he treated her and a few other choice labourers in the field of piety with his rapturous discourses..  From this he used to hold forth more publicly.  His virtues and acquirements now recommended him to one Garrett, of notorious memory, who obtained him a living at Banbury.  It was at this place that he became obnoxious.  Having made several violent attempts upon some young men while at that place, he was driven out from thence, by the trustees of the chapel in which he preached, and ordered never to show his face there again.  He hastily decamped, leaving behind him his wife and children; and the police officers having been sent in pursuit, their searches proved fruitless, and it was a long time before he was heard of.  He once more retired into the country, but was called from his solitude, to use his influence in town, by a man of his own disgraceful kind, named Kitty Cambric, and well know at the Swan, in Vere Street.  It is proper to observe here that some of these wretches assume the names of women, and that they are absolutely married together, as will be shown presently, from Church’s having been the parson who performed the blasphemous mock ceremony of joining them in the ties of “Holy Matrimony.”  He now settled himself at Chapel Court, in the Borough, when his old friend Garrett, publicly charged him with a wicked and diabolical offence, as the law says, “not to be named amongst Christians,” and he was obliged to run away from this accusation.  By some fortuitous event he at length got possession of the Obelisk Chapel, where he began to deliver his doctrines to those who were foolish and ignorant enough to attend to his fulsome and incoherent exclamations.  Several young men, whose names are known to the writer, who were accustomed to hear him, were obliged to leave him in consequence of his having used them in a manner too indecent to be mentioned or hinted at.  E. B. a respectable tradesman, residing in the Borough of Southwark, has informed the writer of the present article, that this parson, or rather this monster, when be was about to preach, would frequently say—“Well, I am going to tip ’em a gammoning story; my old women would believe the moon to be made of green cheese if I was to tell them so; and I must tell them something.”  The writer has also been informed, from credible authority, that Church was a constant attendant in Vere-street, and that the gang of miscreants who met at the public-house there, some of whom stood in the pillory about seven or eight years ago, had nominated him to be their Chaplain, and that he officiated in that capacity.  By virtue of his functions in this situation, he was often employed in joining these monsters in the “indissoluble tie of matrimony!!!”  They were absolutely wedded together.  One evening, when Church visited this infamous place of resort, one of the gang observed, “Here’s Parson Church.  Aye, Parson, how d’ye do?  Have you come to see our Chapel?”—Church replied, “Yes, and to preach too.”

In addition to the above account is the following, communicated by the before-mentioned E. B. who happened, unfortunately, p. 5to be an attendant at Church’s meeting house, when the latter took notice of and formed an acquaintance with him, commencing as usual with pious exhortations, and then followed up by distrusting freedoms.  Mr. B. however, struck with horror at such conduct, abandoned the place, when he received two letters from Church, of which the following are copies:—

Dear Ned—May the best of blessings be yours in life and in death, while the sweet sensations of real genuine disinterested friendship rules every power of your mind body and soul.  I can only say I wish you was as much captivated with sincere friendship as I am but we all know our own feelings best—Friendship those best of names, affection those sweetest power like some powerful charm that overcomes the mind—I could write much on this subject but I dare not trust you with what I could say much as I esteem you—You would consider it as unmanly and quite effeminate, and having already proved what human nature is I must conceal even those emotions of love which I feel.  I wish I had the honor of being loved by you as much and in as great a degree as I do you.  Sometimes the painful thought of a separation overpowers me, many are now trying at it but last night I told the persons that called on me that let them insinuate what they would I would never sacrifice my dear Ned to the shrine of any other friend upon earth—and that them who did not like him, should have none of my company at all.  I find dear Ned many are using all their power to part us but I hope it will prove in vain on your side the effect that all this has upon me is to make me love you ten times more than ever, I wish opposition may have the same effect upon you in this particular but I fear not. however I am confident if you love me now or at any other time my heart will ever be set upon you nor can I ever forget you till death.  Your leaving of me will break my heart, bring down my poor mind with sorrow to the grave and wring from my eyes the briny tears, while my busy meddling memory will call to remembrance the few pleasant hours we spent together.  I picture to my imagination the affecting scene the painful thought, I must close the affecting subject ’tis more than my feelings are able to bear—My heart is full, my mind is sunk, I shall be better when I have vented out my grief.  Stand fast my dearest Ned to me I shall to you whether you do to me or no, and may we be pardoned, justified, and brought more to the knowledge of Christ.  O help me to sing—

When thou my righteous Judge shall come
To fetch thy ransom’d people home,
   May I among them stand,
Let such a worthless worm as I,
That sometimes am afraid to die,
   Be found at thy right hand.
I love to meet amongst them now,
Before thy gracious feet to bow,
   Tho’ vilest of them all;
But can I bear the piercing thought,
What if my name should be left out,
   When thou for them should call.

Learn these two verses by heart and then I will write two more, as they are expressions of mind fears sensations and desires—I must close, I long to see your dear face again, I long for Sunday morning till then God bless you.

3d March, 1809.

I remain unalterably thy dear thy loving friend,

p. 6The following, without a date, was written by Church to Mr. B. who received it on or about the 15th day of March, 1809:—

Dear Sir—Is this thy kindness to thy once professed much loved friend, surely I never, never did deserve such cruel treatment at your hands; why not speak to me last night in James-street when you heard me call, Stop! stop! Ned! do, pray do: but cruel, cruel Ned, deaf to all intreaties—O why was I permitted to pass the door of Mr. Gibbons when you and West were coming out.  Why was I permitted to tramp up and down the New Cut after you; I wanted to speak one bitter heart breaking painful distressing word, farewell: I only wanted to pour my sorrows into your bosom, to shake hands with you once more, but I was denied this indulgence.  I never, never thought you would deceive me—O what an unhappy man am I; the thing that I most feared is come upon me, no excuse can justify such apparent duplicity; O my distress is great indeed.  O my God! what shall I do?  O Christ!  O God! support me in this trying hour, what a night am I passing through; I cannot sleep, its near three o’clock; alas! sleep is departed, how great my grief, how bitter my sorrows, the loss of my character is nothing to the loss of one dearer to me than any thing else.  O let me give vent to tears; but I am too, too much distressed to cry; O that I could.  I feel this like a dagger; never, never can I forgive the unhappy instrument of my distress in Charlotte-street.  Why did my dear friend Edward deceive me?  O how my mind was eased on Wednesday night; alas, how distressed on Thursday.  I have lost my only bosom friend, nearest dearest friend, bosom from bosom torn, how horrid.  Ah, dear Suffolk-court, never surely can I see you again.  How the Philistines will triumph; there, so would we have it: how Ebeir, Calvin, Thompson, Edwards, Bridgman, all will rejoice, and I have lost my friend, my all in this world, except the other part of myself, my wife, and poor babes; never did I expect this from my dear E— B—.  O for a clam mind, that I might sleep till day light; but no, this I fear will be denied me.  How can I bear the piercing thought, parted; a dreadful word, worst of sensations, the only indulgence, the only confident, the only faithful, the only kind and indulgent sympathising friend, to lose you.  O what a stroke; O what a cut, what shall I do for matter on Sunday; O that I could get some one to preach for me, how can I lift up my head.  O Sir, if you have a grain of affection left for me, do intreat of God to support me; this is a worse affliction than the loss of my character nine months ago.  A man cannot lose his character twice.  O I did think you knew better: I did think I had found one in you that I could not find elsewhere; but no, the first object presented to you, seen suddenly, gained your mind, gained your affections; and I, poor unhappy distressed I, am left to deplore your loss.  O for submission, but I am distressed; woe is me.  O that I had never, never known you, then I should never feel what I do; but I thank you for your company hitherto, I have enjoyed it four moths exactly, but this is over for ever; miserable as I am, I wish you well for ever, for ever.  I write in the bitterness of my soul which I feel.  May you never be cursed with the feelings I possess as long as you live.  What a day I have before me; I cannot go out of my house till Sunday morning.  How can I conceal my grief from my dear wife? how shall I hide it? what shall I say?  I am miserable, nor can I surmount the shock at all.  I have no friend to pour out my sorrows to now, I wish I had; I am sorry you are so easily duped by any to answer their purposes; my paper is full, my p. 7paper is full, my heart is worse; God help me; Lord God support me! what shall I do, dear God!  O Lord! have mercy on me, I must close; this comes from your ever loving but distressed


For some years past, the person just named has been getting a living by preaching as a Minister of the Gospel in an obscure conventicle close to the Surrey Theatre.  In the mean time, reports had gone abroad that he was addicted to certain abominable propensities; and certain gentlemen in the neighbourhood, not actuated by any jealousy towards a successful “rival in the vineyard,” but dreading the disgrace and pollution which Christianity might suffer from the immoral character of any of its teachers, investigated these rumours; and the facts now related came to light.  James Cook, who kept the infamous house in Vere Street, was released from his two years imprisonment in Newgate, on the 21st of September 1812.  In the course of a few days after, he accidentally met John Church, and recognized him as the gay parson whom he had formerly seen at a certain house in the London Road, and at his own house in Vere Street.  A friendly correspondence then took place between these two old acquaintances.  About the 13th of October, Cook received a letter from him.  In this the Minister of the Gospel offers his assistance to the “Vere Street Culprit,” to enable him to set up another public house, as the reader will perceive from perusing the letter itself:—

Dear Sir,

Lest I should not have time to call on you or converse with you at I shall not be alone to Day I thought it But right to Drop you a Line I wish you all the success you can desire in getting a house fit for the Business in the public Line as you had a great many acquaintance, they ought not to fail you if every one acted right according to there ability I am sure you would soon accomplish it.  As I am by no means Rich, But rather embarrassed I hope you will accept my mite towards it 1l. 1s. and you shall have another as convenient wishing you all prosperity.

I remain Your’s, sincerely.


for Mr. Cook, at mr.  Halladays Richmond Budgs. Dean St.

There is another letter bearing the two-penny post nark of the 20th of October.—It is as follows:—

Dear Sir,

I received your note this morning in Bed, as I have contracted such a Dreadful cold Being wet on Tuesday I am very much grieved i have not been able to comply with the request concerning Mr. C— But I shall certainly keep my eye upon him and Do him all the Good it lays in my power where ever he is he knows my Disposition too well to impute any remissness to my conduct But I cannot do impossibilities as I have Lately had and have now Got so many Distressing cases in hand Beside, I will Be sure to call on you as soon as I can—But am not able to day

I remain Yours.  J CHURCH.

32 hercules Buildings

Badly directed to Mr. Oliver, or (Holloway) No. 6, Richmond’s buildings, Dean Street, Soho.

p. 8The next document it a letter dated March 7, 1810, from a person at Banbury named Hall, of which the following is a copy:

Honoured Sir—In reply to your letter concerning Mr. C. I can only inform you, there was a report against him of a very scandalous nature; but how far his culpability extends, it is quite out of my power to determine.  He was absent from hence when the rumour first spread.  The Managers of our Chapel took great pains to enquire into the origin of such reports, and the result was, they sent Mr. C. positive orders, never, on any account, to return to Banbury again; which advice he has hitherto wisely observed.  Now, Sir, after giving you the above information, I beg leave to conclude the subject, by referring you to your own comment hereon.

(Signed) S. Hall.

Banbury, March 7, 1810.

Then follows a letter from Wm. Clarke of Ipswich, a young man between 19 and 20 years of age, which contains an account of attempts too horrid to be published.  The written confession (frightful indeed it is) of this poor simple young man, whose mind was bewildered by the canting exhortations of Church; and the whole of his statements corroborated by the oral testimony of Mr. Wire, who resides at Colchester, and knows Clarke very well.  The circumstances related by Clarke would have furnished ample grounds for a criminal prosecution had he made his complaint immediately after the assault was committed:—but suffering under the influence of ignorance and fear, he kept it a secret too long, and afterwards accepted of a pound note from Church.  A case was laid before two eminent barristers, to have their opinion whether such a prosecution could be carried on with any prospect of conviction.  Their opinion, in writing, is, that after the long concealment of a Charge, a Jury would pay no attention to his evidence, unless he was confirmed in his story by other evidence.

Extract from the Confession of Wm. Clark, of Ipswich.

Having been called by Providence to Colchester, I went to hear John Church preach in a barn, was invited to Mr. Abbott’s; was prevailed upon to sleep with John Church; I did sleep with him three nights; after being enticed to many imprudencies, I was under the necessity to resist certain attempts, which, if I had complied with, I am fearful must have ruined both soul and body; the crime is too horrid to relate.

William Clark.

Richard Patmore
J. Ellison
C. Wire
H. T. Wire

P.S.—This took place in March last, 1812.

The peace of this poor lad’s mind however is completely destroyed, so fatally has the event preyed upon him;—so far so as to fill the bosom of his aged father with such a spirit of indignation and revenge, that he actually came up to London with a full determination to be the death of him who had thus ruined the peace of his beloved son, while the mother’s mind was not less distracted than that of the father.  In consequence of this, the father entered J. Church’s meeting house, with two loaded pistols, one in each pocket; but under the excess of agitation, he fainted away, and was carried out of the place.

p. 9The following will cast some light on the preceding:

Colchester, September 16, 1812.

Sir—Last evening I had an interview with Clark’s father, who wishes him to comply with your wishes.  I mentioned to him respecting Church’s conduct, and I find the last night to be the worst.  Likewise that he would have committed the act had not Clark prevented him.  The particulars I told you when in London, but find them worse than what I described to you.  They are not able to be at any expence; but if the Gentlemen wish to prosecute, and to pay Clark’s expences up to London, &c. he will have no objection to come when you please to send.  I need only say, I wish you to inform the Gentlemen, and give me a line.

I am, dear, Sir, yours, &c.
C. Wire.

The following is a narrative which Cook has given of his acquaintance with Parson Church; and which was taken down from his own dictation by Mr. E— B—:

In May, 1810, I was in company with Mr. Yardley and another young man by the name of Ponder.  I found after that the said Ponder was a drummer in the Guards; I called at a house in the London Road, where I saw Mr. Church the first time in my life: there was at this house about twelve or fourteen altogether, drinking gin, and Mr. Church handed me a glass of the same, which I took; Church behaved very polite to me, and said what a fine fellow I was; he pressed me very much to stop and get tea with them, for he said he would call and see me when I was settled in the house in Vere-street.  I stopped a little while, and was about to leave them, when Church said I should not go before I had tea, and flung down a dollar; and a man, by the name of Gaiscoin, took the money and went for the tea and other things, but I would not stay: Church came out of the room with me, and walked with me as far as the turnpike; there he met another gentleman, which I never saw before, and I went on and left him for that time; I think it was six or eight days.  I went to live at the Swan, and saw Church again; he came about three o’clock in the afternoon, and Mr. Yardley accosted him, “Parson, what! are you come to see the chapel?”  He said “Yes, and to preach too.”  Church asked me how I was; I said I was not very well: he asked me why I went away in that shy manner; I told him he was a stranger to me, and I did not like to be intruding on strange people: he said I was shy—he did not know what to make of me; he also pressed me very much to take a walk with him, but I declined it: he said I must go, but I still declined, and did not go with him: he staid some time, and joined the company in the back parlour—persons by the name of Miss Fox and Miss Kitty Cambrick was among them, and the Queen of Bohemia.  As Mr. C. was going away, he came to the bar and spoke to me, and said I must take something to drink, which I did, and he paid for it, and left the house for that time, in a few days he called again, in the afternoon, and there was not many people there; he asked if Yardley was at home; I said he was not: he said he was very sorry for it: I asked him what he wanted; he said he came on purpose for me to take a walk with him, but I did not go: he said he would wait until Yardley came in.  Church said I should do him a great favour if I would take a walk with him; I would not go—he still pressed me very much to go: I said I would if he would wait till I had cleaned myself: he waited more than two hours for me; I went to sleep because I would not go with him; and in the mean time he waited so long that he was tired; he sent the p. 10waiter to call me, which he did, and said the Parson wanted me, and had been waiting two hours for me; I said, let him wait, for I should not come; he returned, and said if I would but speak to him, he should go away happy: I found I could not get rid of him—I went down stairs; he said, well, sir, I hope your nap has done you good; I said, I don’t know, don’t bother me.  He said I was very cross to him; I told him there was other men without me; if he wanted to preach, not to preach to me about crossness.  He said, well, if that was the case, he was very sorry he had offended me; I told him he had not offended me nor pleased me; but as I was not well, the less any one talked to me the better I liked it; he said, if I was but friends with him, and shake hands with him, he should go away happy.  Mr. Yardley said he never see such a fellow as I was, for I had affronted every body that came to the house.  I then shook hands with the Parson, for at that time I did not know his name.  He shook hands with me, and we had something to drink, and Mr. Church paid for it and went away.  I never saw him until I came out of Newgate; I was talking to Mr. and Mrs. Holloway, and telling them there was a Parson somewhere about St. George’s Fields, but his name I did not know.  He asked me if I should know him if I saw him, I said I should; by that I went to the Chapel and saw Mr. Church, and then I asked the people what was the Parson’s name; they told me his name was Church.  I said he ought to be ashamed of himself to preach there, a *** and rascal, and left the place, and went home in the greatest pains I ever felt in my life, and was resolved to see him, which I did the next day, and give him one of the hand-bills; and the manner he received me, was like a young man would his sweetheart;—I begun my conversation: Well, Sir, I suppose you do not know me?  He said he did not.  I said my name was Cook, that kept the Swan, in Vere-street.  He said he thought so, but was not sure: he said, why did I not call before and shake hands with a-body.  I told him I did not know where he lived, nor I did not know his name until I went to the chapel and found him out.  He told me not to make it known that he ever came to my house, for he and Rowland Hill had daggers drawn, and that he should be obliged to indite Hill to clear up his character, and for God’s sake do not expose me.—(Here the narrative breaks off.)

There are various other documents which are too voluminous to notice at present.  The point to direct the attention of the public is, the extraordinary circumstance of a man continuing to exercise the functions of a christian pastor up to the present time, with such heavy imputations as these hanging over his head.  He knew that the whole neighbourhood rung with accusations; he knew that some hundreds of publications containing charges so severe, that any statements compared to them, “were lenity and compassion,” have been sold in St. George’s-fields.

The reader may probably have some curiosity to know what sort of a preacher this person is.  I have gone to hear him; and I pity his poor deluded followers.  He does indeed deliver himself in a full, clear, articulate tone of voice; but to criticise his style, or analyse the substance of his discourse, would be a fruitless labour: it would be like dissecting a cobweb.  Unmeaning rhapsodies, and unconnected sentences, through which the faintest gleam of morality is not to be traced, must, from their evanescent nature, set the powers of recollection at defiance; they even escape from the lash of one’s contempt.  p. 11In his countenance there is none of that dignified mildness, none of that subdued expression of piety which one often observes in Christian preachers whose habits of life are conformable to their precepts.  His manner is forward and imposing; and his eyes are continually employed in staring at some person among his auditors. [11]

The following Character is given of Church by Mr. George Gee and his wife, who live in the New Cut, Lambeth Marsh.

“Mr. Church the Minister lodged at our house a year and a half, and left last year at Lady-day.

“We were in hopes that we were about to have a godly praying minister in our house, and to be sure, the first night he had somewhat like prayer, and that and once afterwards, were the only times he ever went to family prayer in our house.  Nor could they have any prayer, as he would be frequently out almost all hours of the night, and would lie in bed till ten o’clock in the morning.  Several times he and his wife would have skirmishings and fightings between themselves, while their children would be left to run about the streets out of school hours, and allowed to keep company with children that would swear in our hearing most shockingly.  His children were always left to be very dirty, and would be sent sometimes three or four times in the morning for spirituous liquors of all sorts; as for reading good books or even the Bible, he scarce ever thought of it, but would spend a deal of his time in loose and vain talk, in walking about, and in fawning on young men, that was his chief delight.

“Sundays and working days were all alike to them, for they would send out to buy liquors and whatever else they wanted, on Sundays as well as other days.

“The house would be frequently more like a play-house (I might say a bawdy house) than a minister’s house, where a set of young people would come, and behave more indecently than ought to be mentioned.  Even one Sunday morning they made such an uproar, as that they broke one of the windows, and after that, they would go with him to his Chapel, and after that he would give the sacrament to such disorderly people, let their characters be ever so loose.”

“He was always ready to go fast enough out to dinner or supper, where he could get good eating and drinking; but poor people might send to him from their sick bed, times and times before he would come to them.  Seeing so much of his inconsistencies and shocking filthiness in their rooms, (though they always paid the rent,) we were determined to give them warning to quit our house, and we do think that a worse man or woman never came into any man’s house before, especially as Mr. Church pretended to preach the gospel; such hypocrites are much worse than others, and besides this, we never heard any man tell lies so fast in all our lives.  It is a great grief to us that ever we went to hear him preach, or suffered him to stop so long in our house.”


p. 12In addition to the above testimonies, the writer has received a very long narrative of atrocities committed by John Church while he resided at Banbury, written by a Minister at that place; but the facts are too disgusting and shocking to be published.


On the 6th of June 1813, the Grand Jury for the County of Middlesex found a Bill of Indictment against John Church for his attempt some years ago on a lad named Webster.  Incredible as it may appear, this very man, on the very evening of the day he was held to bail for trial on the most horrid charges, given on oath, had the impudence to go into his chapel and preach to a crowded audience.

At the Middlesex Sessions on Monday the 12th of July 1813, he was tried and acquitted.  Indeed, it was never imagined that any other verdict than one of acquittal would have been given.  If the reader looks back to the proceedings at Union Hall, he will find that this prosecution was ORDERED by the Magistrates of that Office, p. 13and did not originate with the prosecutor, William Webster, on whom the abominable attempt was alleged to have been made (now fourteen years ago).  The very mention of the attempt was a mere incidental circumstance arising out of another proceeding then before the Magistrates.  Let the Reader also take notice of the following sentence:—“The Magistrate observed, that from the length of time which had elapsed since the offence had been committed, he thought a Jury would not feel justified in finding him guilty.”  This William Webster, therefore, must be considered, in all respects, as an unwilling prosecutor.  He was supported only by one counsel, then of young standing (Mr. Adolphus), who had to struggle against two of the most able advocates (Messrs. Gurney and Alley) in the criminal courts.  It appears also that Webster gave his evidence with embarrassment and trepidation, and that he suffered himself to fall into some inconsistencies.  With this solitary and confused evidence, and after a lapse—after a silence of ELEVEN YEARS, was it possible to suppose that a Jury would have found any man guilty?  It must here be observed, that the decision on this solitary complaint of eleven years standing, does not in the slightest degree affect any of the numerous accusations of a more recent date which have been made against John Church.


Several persons have been at a loss to know by what authority this man presumed to take upon himself the functions of a Minister of the Gospel.  They have asked how could a man so profligate—so notoriously criminal, come forth to instruct others in religion.  The question is natural, and demands an answer.  The practice among Dissenters is, that when any man feels a strong desire to become a preacher, he communicates the same to several Ministers, who make strict enquiry into his qualifications as to piety, learning, morals, &c. and if they find these established on satisfactory evidence, they then confer on the candidate a sort of ordination, without which he can have no authority to officiate as a minister of the Gospel.  It seems, that Church did receive some ordination of this kind at the town of Banbury, in Oxfordshire, from which place he was driven away for his mal-practices.  Since then he has not been, under the controul, and has acted in defiance of all the ordinances of the Dissenting Church.  He has in fact gone about as a mere isolated adventurer; and no minister would preach in a pulpit belonging to him.  Yet he continued to preach, in defiance of Christian as well as moral ordinances, because he could not be silenced by any legal authority, and because he rejected all ecclesiastical government.

One character peculiar to the person we are speaking of is, that wherever he has been admitted as a preacher, he has disturbed the religious system, and upset the order of the place.  In Colchester he turned the whole congregation against their minister, by preaching doctrines tending to encourage licentiousness and to foster the worst passions.  All persons acquainted with history will recollect, that this mode of healing the consciences of profligate men was practised by the Romish Church before the Reformation, and when it flourished in its rankest state of corruption—when indulgences for sins to be committed, and pardon for sins past, were openly sold for money.  The manner in which the Obelisk Preacher has conducted the affairs of his p. 14chapel bears some resemblance to this practice; and for the purpose of increasing his revenue, he has even administered the sacrament to persons when intoxicated!!

However great may be the mass of folly, ignorance, and fanaticism, which prevail throughout most of the low conventicles of this metropolis, and however injuriously they may operate on the human mind, their effects are innocence and virtue, compared to the influence of that guilt which has so recently been exposed; and it is not too much to observe that the poor silly visionaries who deal in pictures, in miracles, and monstrous conceits, are not wilfully or practically vicious, and that they have lashed themselves into a belief of what they preach; therefore they cannot drag forward so close upon the heels of Mr. John Church as to hold out an appearance of their belonging to the same society.  After Church having been held to bail for the purpose of being tried on charges not to be named among Christians, he ought to have abstained from entering his pulpit, and shunned the very light, until his character was cleared up to the satisfaction of his congregation, who ought to have deemed it a sacrilege to be present while he attempted to promulgate the doctrines of Christ in a place of divine worship.  But one would think there was a congeniality of sentiment and of sympathy between the pastor and the flock!  Indeed this latter remark is founded upon something more than conjecture; for a great number of persons who are in the habit of frequenting his chapel, have taken up the cause of their preacher with a zeal that cannot easily be accounted for in any way but one.  They will investigate no charge; they reject all evidence.


The following Confessional Letter, from Church, was sent to the great surprise of the Rev. Mr. L—, two days after the offence had been committed.  It appears that Church was but very slightly known to the above gentleman, in consequence of some money transactions having passed between them:—

Dear Sir—Surely upon the reception of this short note you will say, ah.  Church is like all the rest of the parsons, promise much and do little, yea nothing: to your note I can only with a pained heart reply, I cannot indeed—I can scarcely write this note, my soul is too deeply pierced.  About eight or nine years ago Dr. Draper left the church in the Boro’, and God opened Chaple court for me, many attended and have been blest, now a singular providence but a most distressing one has occurred to take me shortly from my dear, dear family and beloved congregation.  But God has sent Mr. L— to preach all the truth to my poor dispersed flock, at least so it appears to me, and I would do all the good to promote the success of Mr. L— that my poor people might not be starv’d till I return to them in peace, which may be many months.  My heart is broken, my enemies have ruined me at last, and I shall never, never surmount it, an unpleasant affair happening at Vauxhall, is added too, and I must take the consequences: no arm can help, relieve, or deliver but the Lord’s, and I feel persuaded the Lord will not: judge my feelings if you can.  I shall secretly come and hear you, to get all the good I can to an heart deprest, disconsolate, and full of woe.  O the joy of my enemies!  O the distress of my friends!  O my poor heart!  Let a sigh go up to God for me when you can.

Yours in the utmost distress,
J. C.

p. 15The following are the remarks of the Gentleman to whom the above Letter was addressed:—

A self-sent divine and a beloved brother of the Reverend J. Church, whose name is T. A—, positively declared—(but a few weeks ago) that the very affectionate Vere-street “Mr. Church kindly put his arms round my neck and kissed me twice, and asked me politely to sleep with him.”  Lord, what has sin done!  However the Reverend brother T. A. further adds, “I declined the latter offer, of course,” &c. but how far this statement may be true respecting his declining the latter offer, after his allowing that pious brute to kiss him twice, must be left with the reader to judge for himself, as I am confident that none but those unclean birds, of the same nest, would in any measure wish even the slightest credit to be given to such a filthy testimony, by such an effeminate character as T. A.  Again, this brother in iniquity, when speaking of another brother, in the same line of uncleanness, whose name I understand is C—, who is a person very remarkable for using the words, (when speaking of his darling Church) “bless him,” being informed by his brother A. that brother Church was about to leave town, in order to evade further inquiries, the poor thing (woman-like) fainted and fell back against a wall; but his brother A. being near him, kindly took him by the hand and raised his drooping head (dear lamb), who, when he had a little recovered the shock, they affectionately walked off together, and the fainting brother took hold of his brother A.’s hand, (“bless him,”) rubbed it affectionately, and pressed it to his bosom, wishing to have a further intercourse with him!  Marvellous wickedness! may it not truly be said of such detestable monsters, in human shape, that God has given them over to vile affections and to all uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.  Burning in their own lust one towards another, men with men, working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which is meet.  How truly awful and equally disgusting that such vile wretches should be permitted to stand up with a pretence to preach the Gospel, or that they should even profess to be believers in Jesus, as without all doubt the sin of which they stand justly charged, was invented by the arch fiend of Hell, to prevent the appearance of the seed of the woman, [15] who was to effectually bruize his head.  O! my soul, come not thou into their diabolical secret!  I would advise all the true followers of the meek and lowly Lamb of God, who may hitherto have been deceived as to the real character of Church and his brothers who worship with him at the Surrey Tabernacle, in the language of the Angel to Lot—

“Haste, escape for thy life, tarry not in all the plain.”—See Gen. xix. 17.

Great credit is due to Mr. Patrick for the perseverance he has manifested in bringing this hypocritical wretch to justice.  Unmindful of the threats and abuse of a party, and not to be deterred by the heavy expences attending such a prosecution, he has, at length, finally triumphed over all the arts and intrigues that had been practised p. 16against his obtaining the desirable end, namely, in tearing off the mask from this pretended pious preacher, and rendering him amenable to the offended laws of his country.

It may not be improper to state one of the tricks made use of to throw the prosecutor off his guard.  A limb of the law it appears, of the Jewish persuasion, gratuitously offered to conduct the prosecution for the young man; but upon a refusal being given to him, on account of Mr. Harmer being selected for such purpose, it was ultimately discovered that this philanthropic Israelite had been exerting himself towards exculpating Church, with all the ingenuity he was master of in his defence, from the heinous offence alledged against him.  The “law’s delay” was resorted to, but only to put off the trial till the next assizes, but the expences materially increased, as a means of deterring the prosecutor from proceeding.  It is however lamentable to observe, that the charges in bringing such a wretch to justice, should amount to eighty or ninety pounds!

The wife of Church, upon being made acquainted with his diabolical propensities, became distracted, and was in a continual state of intoxication, till death relieved this unfortunate woman from her troubles.  But it appears that since he has been charged with the above detestable offence, in order (we presume under the mask of hypocrisy,) to rescue in some degree his character from the public odium with which it had been marked, induced him to marry a respectable woman, who kept a seminary for young ladies at Hammersmith.  The verdict of “Guilty” had been scarcely pronounced, when the relatives of the children, with the greatest promptitude possible, took them all away from the said school.

Notwithstanding the above confessional letter, (see page 14,) for the authenticity of which we can vouch, having the original in our possession, on the Sunday after it was sent, he had the audacity and wickedness to stand up in his pulpit, and endeavour to calumniate his accusers and assert his own innocence; but this effrontery, it seems, has at length left him, since the verdict of twelve impartial men have pronounced him guilty, that on Sunday last (Aug. 17.) he had not the temerity again to face the numerous audience that had assembled both within and without the walls of his chapel.

From the acknowledgment of this monster himself, the profits of this precious recepticle produced him from 1000l. to 1200l. annually.


Printed by HAY and TURNER, 11, Newcastle-street, Strand.

THE ONLY GENUINE EDITION OF THE TRIAL OF ROGER O’CONNOR, Esq.  At Meath Assizes, August 4 and 5, 1817; on a charge of Robbing the Galway Mail, by a Person who had been Thrice Reprieved on Offering to Make Disclosures.  Taken by an Eminent Short Hand Writer.  With Mr. O’CONNOR’s Interesting and Manly Address to the People of Ireland.  Price 4d.

The SPEECHES of Messrs. HUNT, WATSON, PRESTON, THISTLEWOOD, CLARKE, &c. given at a Dinner at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, to celebrate the Acquittal of the State Prisoners.  Price 4d.

The WHOLE of the TRIALS for HIGH TREASON at the Court of King’s Bench, June 9.  Price 1s.

The POLITICAL CHARACTER of T. REYNOLDS, Esq. containing an Account of his Transactions with the Rebellion in Ireland; with Observations on his Testimony, by P. CURRAN, Esq.  Price 6d.


[11]  A Gentleman who happened to attend two or three times at Church’s Meeting-house, took down the following sentences from his Sermons.  They may gratify the curiosity of the reader.

“God is frequently going forth, and we also are often going to the window to look for him; The more vile I am made to appear to the World, the more God will assist me.  Every citizen is a free-born.  Many have wondered how I could go thro’ so much trouble.  There have been a great many that have wished to see me—I can inform them I had much rather they had wished to see Christ.  People may be laughed at for being fools, but you may depend upon it the more God will like them.  All that believe not will certainly be damned.  The duties of Christianity are not to be preached to an ungodly world; John Church is very much spoken of, but they had much better speak of Jesus; the people of the established church feel no spiritual joy.  Spiritual discourse is enlivening to the senses, &c.  The bread of life is not to be given away to Dogs.  I am not going to turn auctioneer, but I am going to inform you that next Lord’s Day I am going to publish a book proving that God, the Son, and the Spirit, are all one great God.  My sermon will be good news and comfort to all poor sinners; Satan and all his spirits never sleeps; the power of life and death is only in the bands of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Devils are allowed to harrass the people of God day and night—no wonder they perplex those they cant destroy.  People are mostly liable to fall in their first love into awful heresies and temptation.  All the Lord’s people do not see into the glory of my text—’tis like a jewel in a rock of Adamant.  The worst sin was the murdering of God’s saints.  When I sit in darkness the Lord will be a light onto me.  Many men laugh at the doctrine of the new birth—are there not many learned Doctors that know nothing of it?  Let a man come under any circumstances, I will receive him—Don’t laugh at the doctrine of inspiration; be wise, it has often been preached by our church—I am never tired of preaching; and I believe my dear brethren are never tired of hearing me.  If every one that is saved should be as bright as the sun, what a place Heaven must be, where there will be so many millions!  Angels beckon me away, and Christ bids me come.  The sight of Christ, you may depend on’t, will be worth suffering for.  O that I had the voice of an archangel, I would indeed do wonders.  I doubt the inferiority of one angel over another in Heaven—Christ is entirely independent of or with God.  We must have the spirit of God before we are his people.  Believe in the predestination of eternal life, but not in eternal death; people that suffer were beforehand predestined so to do, by God.  Bad or horrid is the religion of a proud Pharisee.  That religion that is preached by the people of God is God himself.  There can be no going forth until the spirit of God has entered.  The mob is seldom stirred up but thro’ Priests; there is now a case of the very kind.  When envy bursts forth thro’ jealous and envious neighbouring Priests, and published by Deists, there can be nothing to fear; and I verily believe, that any thing prayed for to Christ will certainly be granted, as has always been the case with me.  Let us for ever endeavour to turn every thing, whether good or bad, into good.  I do not believe that God begot Jesus Christ—they say too that Joseph was an impostor at this very day:—every thing that is done against the church is done against Christ; also that which is done against Christ is done against the Church; and any thing done against the people of God is done against Christ.  It is a most blessed thing that we can throw our burthens upon Christ;—I do not care who hears me, whether God, or Man, Friends or Foes, Devils or Angels, or any thing else; and let them call me an Antinomian again if they please.  There must be spiritual life in the soul.  The Lord Jesus Christ and the people of God are one.  Christ has no sorrow but the people of God must sympathise with him; and the people of God have no affliction but that Christ sympathises with them.”

[15]  Gen. iii. 15.