While cataloguing the Wynnstay estate records some years ago, I made a note of a tale which concerned a Montgomeryshire clergyman in the mid-seventeenth century. It was the record of a case brought in 1647 before Edward Vaughan of Llwydiarth and his fellow JPs at ‘The Red Castle’ (Powis Castle). At this point I must adopt the tone of a television announcer and warn my readers that this post ‘contains strong language’. Statements asserted that Edmund Hall, rector of Llansantffraid, was A quarelous person, a lewd liver and producer of causeles (causeless) suits amongste his neighboures as appeareth by these articles following….
Mr Hall was said to have commenced a lawsuit in the Court of the Exchequer against Walter Griffithes, following a persecution campaign for the non-payment of tithes which he had imposed unfairly on his hapless neighbour. In addition, he disregarded his legal and moral obligation to observe every fast day and insteade of preaching upon the last day in August last 1647, hee the said Mr Hall tooke his recreacion by playing most of the said day att Chiffleboarde (shuffleboard) in the house of Edward Harry in the said parish.
Likewise on the next fast day, instead of preaching, he was found to be drinking at an alehouse and was confronted by one of his parishioners:
One John Powell of the said parish, demanding of the said Mr Hall att the said alehouse whether hee would preach that day, hee the said Mr Hall in a drunken humor said to the said Powell that if hee would not hould his tounge that hee would whipp his... [we’ll leave that one there!].
On the next fast day, the rector was playing bowls. To add to his catalogue of misdemeanours, upon the previous Whitsuntide he was very drunke att the house of one Richard Ashley in Dythur insomuch that he could not substancially stand to make water in a chamber pott but reeled about the roome.
At Welshpool in the house of Maurice Lloyd, far into the night he was desperatly bent (beinge farr in drinke) and it was alleged that he challenged one of the company to a fight, offering five shillings to anyone who would duel with him.
This story is contradicted by the document which accompanies it, signed by several respectable citizens of the rector’s previous parish at Montgomery, a testament to his blameless life, sober, worthy [of] his calling, free from scandal….laborious in preaching his doctrine, being sound, orthodox, free from heresy….
So, which story was true?
I was unable, in the limited time available, to discover anything else about Edmund Hall. Does anyone out there have further information about the so-called drunken rector of Llansantffraid?
Reference: Wynnstay estate records JA1/3