Rev.John Raper - Sheffield 1914 - Intrigue with a Parishioner's Young Daughter

I came across the following report when I was looking into events surrounding the onset of the Great War in August 1914. It is taken from The Times dated May 12th and is titled

DAMAGES AGAINST A CURATE

Intrigue with a Parishioner's Young Daughter

In the Under-Sheriff's Court at Leeds yesterday, the REV. JOHN RAPER, curate, formerly of Sheffield and Wigan was sued for damages for the seduction of Alice Kendrick, of 29 Oakdale Street, Sheffield.

The defendant did did not put in an appearance. He has been deprived of his living, and is said to have gone abroad.

For the plaintiff, Mr John Kendrick, it was stated that the plaintiff's family were worshippers at St Peters Church, Abbeydale, Sheffield and some four or five years ago the defendant who was then about 28 became curate at that church. He was admitted into the friendship of Mr Kendrick's household. At the time the girl Alice was away at a boarding school. She left school in May 1912, and she was then 16 years of age, becoming 17 two months later. Almost immediately she came home the defendant began making advances to her, and a month or two later he seduced her. the girl who was quite a child, made what resistance she could. Familiarity occurred on a number of other occasions, the last time about June 1913. The whole of this time the defendant was keeping up an apparent friendship with the father of the girl, and her parents did not have the slightest idea of what was going on. In July 1913 he got notice to leave his curacy and went to a church in Wigan.

Mr Kendrick stated that when he discovered his daughters condition, he went to Wigan to see the defendant. When he saw him he said "And you reckon to be a friend of mine. What do you intend to do now?." The defendant said "Well my parents have chucked me. What can I do.". the witness said "My daughter is here. It's my honour I'm thinking about." the defendant retorted "I've no money." The defendant then turned round to the girl and said "Will you marry me, Alice." The girl was so overcome she could not look at him.

When they got outside, the witness said " It's a most rotten piece of business on you part" to which the defendant replied "I ought never to have been a curate. I shall have to leave the church." He went on " If I hop it, that will do me no good, and prussic acid will do no good either" Mr Kendrick offered to set the defendant up in business if he would marry the girl, and he promised to think it over. He failed however to keep an appointment to announce his decision.

The jury returned a verdict for 400 damages. (which is the equivalent of approx. 26,500 at today's prices) 

The local press also carried a more detailed report of the court proceedings - the following is from the Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated 11th May 1914

Of course the real reason for the action was that the Reverend Raper had gone absent, leaving Alice a young pregnant mother. Whilst I was aware "Breach of Promise" was still on the statute books I was surprised that such an action was brought by Mr Kendrick. Most middle- and upper-class families were reluctant to use litigation, since it led to wide publicity being given to a scrutiny of intimate personal concerns, something which was strongly repugnant to the family feeling of the period (especially where young women were concerned). This coupled with the declaration by the Reverend that he had no money makes the case even more puzzling. I can only surmise that the father's prime motive in bringing the case was to name and shame the curate and ensure that he could no longer pursue his career in the clergy.

I do know why he was given notice in July 1913 but I can only assume "his intrigue with a parishioner's daughter" became common knowledge hence his departure to Wigan. The fact that Alice became pregnant and the Reverend signaled his intentions by omission, were the final straw for the father.

I would of course like to know what happened to all the protagonists' in this case. If anyone can supply me with any additional information please let me know.

Notes

1911 UK Census
Name Alice Kendrick
Relationship to Head of Household Daughter
Condition Single
Gender Female
Age 15 Estimated Year of Birth 1896
Occupation Dress Maker Apprentice
Employed Yes
Working at Home No
Place of Birth Yorkshire Sheffield
Enumerator Information
Address 29 Oakdale Road Sheffield Parish Ecclesall Town Sheffield
Type of Building Private House Number of Rooms Eight Inhabited Yes
Reference RG14PN27786 RG78PN1591 RD509 SD5 ED8 SN323 Administrative County Yorkshire (West Riding)
Registration District Ecclesall Bierlow Registration Sub District Ecclesall South Enumeration District 8

Her father John Kendrick is listed as a Steel Rolling Mill manager    

Raper is listed as a 29 year old unmarried clergyman living in 2 rooms at 140 Machon Bank Nether Edge Sheffield. His occupation is given as "Clergyman - Established Church"

Name John Raper
Relationship to Head of Household Boarder
Condition Single
Gender Male
Age 29 Estimated Year of Birth 1882
Occupation Clergyman Established Church
Employed Yes
Working at Home No
Place of Birth Yorks Oxenhope
Enumerator Information
Address 140 Machon Bank Sheffield Parish Ecclesall Town Sheffield
Type of Building Private House Number of Rooms 2 Rooms
Inhabited Yes
Reference RG14PN27784 RG78PN1591 RD509 SD5 ED6 SN393 Administrative County Yorkshire (West Riding)
Registration District Ecclesall Bierlow Registration Sub District Ecclesall South Enumeration District 6
 

Sources

Wikipedia - Breach of Promise

The Times dated May 12th 1914

Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated 11th May 1914

1911 UK Census

Return To Main Homepage

This page was last updated on 16/11/16 15:32