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The Journal of John Long
About the Early Days
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Perry, Oklahoma Conv, 1942

Newspaper Articles
1913
Revised July 23, 2014

Newspaper Articles for 1913

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The Church Without a Name, The Truth, Two By Twos, 2x2s


January 30, 1913 - Impartial Reporter - Cooney's tent burned

July 3, 1913 - Impartial Reporter - Convention at Crocknacrieve

July 10, 1913, p. 5 - Impartial Reporter - Convention at Crocknacrieve

July 12, 1913, p. 9 Bristol Times & Mirror and Western Daily Press (Burfitt v Hayward)

July 14, 1913, p. 9 - Bristol Times & Mirror (Burfitt v Hayward)

July 17, 1913 - Impartial Reporter (Burfitt v Hayward)
July 17, 1913, p. 8 - Fermanagh Times - Action by Pilgrims - English "Go Preachers" Awarded £50 Damages

July 24, 1913 p. 1 - Fermanagh Times  (Burfitt v Hayward)

July 31, 1913, p. 8 - Impartial Reporter - Convention at Crocknacrieve

December 12, 1913 - The Irish Independent - Cooney & List win law suit!

December 18, 1913, p. 3  Impartial Reporter - Cooney & List win law suit!

December 23, 1913, p10 - Freeman’s Journal - Cooney v Wilson Libel Action Settled.

 



NOTE:  See October 9, 1912 newspaper account about tent burning

January 30, 1913
THE IMPARTIAL REPORTER
Established 1808 Newspaper for Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
_____________
PILGRIM’S TENT BURNED. CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION.
MR. EDWARD COONEY IN THE BOX
INTERESTING EVIDENCE POLICE SERGEANT’S THEORY


An unusual case was heard at Fermanagh County Court, on Monday, before Judge Johnston, K.C., in which W. H. West and others sought compensation for malicious injury to a tent, belonging to applicants, which they alleged was maliciously set fire to and burned in October last, at Mackeny, between Irvinestown and Ballinamallard.

Mr. Clarke appeared for applicants, Mr. Falls defended for the County Council, Mr. Cooper, for the Irvinestown council, and Mr. O’Connor, solicitor, Omogh, for the Trillick Council.

In opening the case, Mr. Clarke said that the case was of an unusual kind.  It was a claim for the burning of a tent and not a building.  He did not know if his Honour had heard of the ‘Go-Preachers’ or ‘Pilgrims’ who were sometimes called ‘Tramp Preachers.’

Clerk of the Peace—‘Dippers.’
Mr. Clarke—And all sorts of names.
His Honour—What is the orthodox name?
Mr. Clarke—Go-Preachers or Pilgrims.
His Honour—That is very expressive.
Mr. Clarke said that Mr. Cooney had suggested that they be called ‘Tramp Preachers.’  He need not go into their religious dogmas.
Mr. Falls—I hope not.
His Honour—Perhaps for Mr. O’Connor’s sake you might.

Mr. Clarke detailed his clients case was, on the evening of the 6th October a meeting had been held.  The lamps were put out by Mr. Cooney and others at the conclusion of the meeting about 8 p.m.  Others passing at 10 p.m. saw no light in the tent, and at one a.m. the place went on fire like a lace curtain.  Two of the lamps had been smashed.  The lamps were suspended from a wire strung from one tent pole to the other.  One of these lamps, they said, was taken down purposely and the oil spilled over the place, for the top had been screwed out and the globe was found unbroken, whereas the other two lamps were smashed.

MR. COONEY EXAMINED

Edward Cooney was the principal witness, and swore that he had been holding meetings at Mackeny, in October last, in a field between Ballinamallard and Irvinestown, for some weeks.  For some years past he had been in the habit of holding meetings in Fermanagh at different places.

Mr. Clarke—You are one of the leaders of the pilgrims or Go Preachers?—I am a preacher in fellowship with others.
For some time past as soon as your doctrines became known there was a good deal of persecution?—Yes.
And some differed emphatically with you and your way of thinking?—Yes.

Witness proved that on the night of the 6th October, he saw the lamps put out.  There was 7 ft. between the roof of the tent and the lamps.  He also saw the stove extinguished and took a general look round and saw the whole place in darkness.  One thing noticeable was that the saw dust was practically intact, that was, if there was a fire in the saw dust and worked its way towards the canvas, but there was no such track.  There was a track along the side of the canvas and did not spread.  He had no doubt but that the lights had been extinguished.  When he heard of the fire, he first of all reported the matter to the police.  When he arrived at the place the canvas was all practically burnt and a little smouldering.  There was a burnt track at the door of the tent where the fire seemed to have originated, for it was more burned and the wind blew that way.  He found there one of the lamps, and away from it, the top unscrewed.

GOT ANNOYANCE

Mr. Clarke—Have you got a lot of scurrillous post cards and bills posted up about your sect? —Yes.
Mr. W. H. West is in sympathy with you?—He is in fellowship.
Does Mr. West own the tent?—He and others.
You send out missionaries all over the world?—To different parts of the world. (Here large placards were produced).
And these have been posted up accusing you of procuring girls for immoral purposes?—Yes.
His Honour—Are you in fellowship with the Baptists or Plymouth Brethren?—No.
Mr. Falls—With reference to those improper posters you know they are posted by a man not right in his head?
Witness—I believe he is right in his head.
It would be charitable to say that he was wrong in his head?—He is wrong in his heart.  (Laughter).
He has not been here for some time?—Excuse me, that bill is signed Isabella Harpur, Tullyhogue, Dungannon, who is in fellowship with that man who is persecuting us.
Mr. Falls read the imprint which stated that the posters were ‘printed and published for W. D. Wilson, Crettingham, Suffolk.’  It was printed and published by that man?—He is the originator.

THE SAINTS

Who is the owner of this tent?—Mr. West and others.
Who are the others?—The saints in community.
It is the property of the community?—Practically that.
You might put in any other name of the community in this application?—The fact is, Mr. West paid for the new tent.
All property used by the community is owned by the community?—Yes.
That is, you have as much right to that tent that was burnt as any other?—You are wrong there.  We preachers own no property and have no responsibility.  The farmers and others in fellowship with us own the tent and have the responsibility.

NO SUBSCRIPTIONS

I take it, it was bought by subscriptions?—No, there is no such thing as subscriptions.  All that comes in is voluntary.
It was bought out of the funds of the community?—Yes, as they came in.
Witness stated that on the night in question when he was preaching, sods and stones were thrown on to the roof of the tent.
His Honour—Was there any intervention on the part of the audience?—One of our hearers stepped outside for fear of possible violence.
Cross-examined by Mr. O’Connor, witness denied knowing Isabella Harpur and had no personal acquaintance with her at all.
What is the exact position of Mr. West in this organization?—In fellowship.
How many members are there in County Fermanagh?—A couple of hundred or more.
Mr. West was the community?—If you wish to describe him as such.
Mr. West is no more entitled to this tent than any of the other 199?—No, except that he put more money into it.

HAS NO MONEY

Did you put no money in it yourself?—No, I have no money.
You did not subscribe?—I have no money to subscribe with.
Where did the money come from?—Farmers and others.
If Mr. West secedes from the body, Mr. West could not take this property away with him—he is not the owner?—Only part.
His Honour—Are you going to involve us in the House of Lords and the Wee Frees.
Mr. Falls raised the question of the alleged malicious injury being committed in Tyrone and the information being sworn before Mr. Trimble, a County Fermanagh magistrate and quoted the section.  That left the case absolutely unsuitable.
His honour agreed, but decided to hear further evidence and give Mr. Clarke an opportunity of looking into the point.

OTHER WITNESSES

Thos. Bleakley proved to putting out the lamps at the end of the meeting, between eight and nine.
Do you know there was a good deal of feeling about this tent?—There was and on this night something rattled on the roof.  It was a ‘brave windy night and dry.’
John Irvine, who lit the lamps before the meeting, went out to see who was throwing sods at the tent.  When he returned he saw one lamp out, and he put one other and the stove out.
To his Honour—The tent was very dry, as there had been no rain.
To Mr. O’Connor—There was a large collection of hymn books, but they were untouched, also a jar with a little oil in it untouched.
To Mr. Clarke—The head of the lamps screwed on, and next morning they lay apart.
Thomas Walker, Mackeney, said he passed the tent about 10 p.m., and there was no light about it.  Witness was not a follower of Mr. Cooney’s.
W. H. West proved that the tent was vested in him.  The agreement was verbal.
Mr. Falls—The tent is the property of the community?—It was vested in me.
How vested?  Suppose you left the community?—I am not going to do that.
You could not take the tent with you if you did?—The sky might fall.
Mr. Clarke—You might see Mr. Falls in the community yet.  (Laughter.)
Mr. Falls—Perhaps you might.  (More laughter.)

THE DEFENCE

Mr. Falls asked that in justice to the people of the locality that the police sergeant’s evidence be heard, and his Honour assented.

Sergeant P. Dooley swore that when he visited the tent after the fire he found two lamps broken, and the other one not, but lying as if it had tumbled down.  He examined the lamps and found that the worm of the screw had become worn and if it tumbled down the head would come out.  The wick also was charred almost to the bottom.  It seemed to him that the lamp took fire and smouldered away down and got into contact with the canvas.
Could you find any trace to give evidence of malice?—I could not.  They have tents all over the district and they were never interfered with.
Is there any bitter feeling against the community?—They are not liked, but the hatred does not run so high as to do anything.
There was more feeling seven years ago than now?—Yes.
Cross-examined—Are you serious in suggesting that the tent was not maliciously burnt down?—Yes.
Do you suggest that these young men are perjuring themselves?  They swore they put out the light?—They seemed to have a very bad memory.  Witness added that they did not seem to know what they were swearing about.
Mr. Clarke—That shows your frame of mind.  Have you any imputation against them?—No.
You don’t ever get them in the lock-up?—No.
And they don’t slip past the police on account of being quiet fellows?—No.
They are very respectable?—Yes.
Did not Bleakley come back and tell you that there was a mistake as regards the putting out of some of the lamps?—Yes, and he admitted that he had had a chat with Mr. Cooney.
Do you insinuate that Mr. Cooney told this young man to swear anything incorrect?—Mr. Cooney was present when I took the statement from Irvine.  When the statement was conveyed to Bleakley he came back to amend his.
Mr. Clarke—Is Mr. Cooney responsible for this young man changing his story?
His Honour?—Oh no.
Mr. Clarke asked then why did the Sergeant make such an insinuation?

TRIAL OF STRENGTH

Mr. Clarke here handed up the lamp to the Sergeant and asked if the screw were so bad that when it fell the top jumped out, let him now try and pull out the screw.
Witness took the lamp and tried to pull out the head but could not.
Mr. Clarke—Where now is your story about the head being loose?
Mr. Falls interfered.
Mr. Clarke—Just let the Sergeant again try on the strength of the Royal Irish.
Witness told Mr. Clarke that he had fixed the lamp all right.
His Honour—I noticed Mr. Clarke and Mr. Gordon at the lamp for about five minutes.  (Laughter.)
Witness explained to the court how when the lamp would fall the globe and chimney would remain undamaged.
His Honour said that that was an inference he paid no attention to.
Mr. Clarke—I don’t like the Sergeant making those imputations.
Mr. O’Connor submitted that Mr. West was not the owner, and Mr. Cooper’s point was that where the tent was situated was over a mile from the Co. Fermanagh border, which Mr. West and other witness denied, stating that it was less than an English mile distant.

His Honour allowed the case to stand over for Mr. Clarke to look into Mr. Falls’ point about the swearing of the information.

Yesterday afternoon his Honour dismissed the action on the merits.



July 3, 1913
THE IMPARTIAL REPORTER
Established 1808
Newspaper for Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
_____________
 
PILGRIM CONVENTION AT CROCKNACRIEVE.
ELECTRICITY LINKED TO THE MEETING.
LEADERS TRAVEL ON MOTOR CYCLES.

The annual Convention for the ‘Pilgrim’ community was opened on Sunday at Crocknacrieve, the residence of Mr. John West, near Ballinamallard.  In the absence of Mr. Wm. Irvine, founder of the Pilgrims, the Convention was opened by Mr. Edward Cooney, formerly of Enniskillen.

Three meetings were held during the day.  Wm. Irvine was present at the mid-day meeting, accompanied on the platform by Messrs. E. Cooney and W. Gill, and some remarks which he made in his address would show that the Pilgrims have

NOT CHANGED

in their attitude towards the clergymen of the present day and all associated with them.  He was not sure yet, he said, whether God would ask him to forgive Scottish Presbyterian clergymen for the teaching they had given him until he was 30.  If there was anything pure in the human family it was

A LITTLE BABY,

and nothing made him so mad as to hear the people talk of its being born in original sin.  The baby, because of its human nature, very seldom got better,—very often worse.  People said they should not say anything against clergymen, but the serpent in the Garden of Eden got great denunciation, and religious people at the present day would be very angry if they were called the brood of the Serpent, as Jesus called the Scribes and Pharisees.

Dinner was served at mid-day to about 750 people, and the numbers which arrived later brought the gathering up to probably 1,000.  The ordinary observer is often at a loss to know how the cost of the upkeep of such a number is defrayed.  The community is, however, self-supporting.  About a month before the Convention began, numbers of these Pilgrims went to Crocknacrieve to make preparations.  Two large tents (instead of one as hitherto) were erected, each to seat about 800.  One is used as a meeting tent, and the other as a dining tent and overflow tent.  All the arrangements were carried out with neatness and foresight.

Around the large yard the various buildings are labelled as ‘Sleeping Accommodation Office,’ ‘Railway Inquiry Office,’ &c.  Various members of the community have been allotted certain duties.  They bake their own bread, kill their own meat, and have a dispensary for dealing with injuries.  A large staff of cooks and stewards look after their particular department.  A Post Office is also provided.  Tailors, carpenters, and all kinds of tradesmen (men who at ordinary times are ‘preachers’) all have their particular duties.  A number of cows have been provided by ‘the saints,’ and these provide milk and butter.

The whole establishment is lighted by electricity, generated by suction gas, and water is pumped by an electric motor.  In fact, the Pilgrims apparently believe in enrolling in the service all the products of modern civilization they can.  For instance, some years ago all ‘the workers’ journeyed about on pedal bicycles.  Now Mr. Irvine and some of the leading preachers travel on motor cycles.

On Sunday last a new hymn book, entitled, ‘Hymns:  Old and New,’ made its appearance.  This book, compiled by Edward Cooney and William Carroll, consists entirely of hymns taken from such collections as ‘Songs of Victory,’ ‘Redemption Songs,’ and ‘Songs and Solos.’  The ‘Go-Preachers Hymn-book’ is no longer used.

The Convention, which is attended by many from foreign lands, will continue for some weeks.



July 10, 1913, p. 5
THE IMPARTIAL REPORTER
Established 1808
Newspaper for Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
_____________
PILGRIM CONVENTION
A LARGE GATHERING
SOME OF THEIR METHODS.
SEPARATION OF WOMEN AND MEN
WHAT THEY CALL THE ‘JESUS WAY.’

The Convention of Go-Preachers or Pilgrims at Crocknacrieve was continued during the past week.

One feature of the meetings lately has been the story of the experiences in foreign fields of those who have lately returned from abroad.  Many of them speak of the most trying experiences in the extremes of heat and cold.  Some of them have travelled much.  Mr. William Irvine, in the course of visiting the scenes of work abroad, has been some seven times round the world, and was in San Francisco on the night of the famous earthquake some years ago.  Various nationalities are represented at the Convention, German, Dutch, American, Australian, &c.  Most of the foreigners speak English correctly.  Much of the music has to be committed to memory, as some among the Pilgrims are unable to read music.  Some of them, on the other hand, were well known for their musical ability before they were associated with the fellowship.

The Pilgrims dress extra plainly.  In some cases a tie is discarded; but all are well clad, and it has been observed that an improvement is noticeable in this line in recent years.

The Pilgrims have all things in common, so much so that they have been described as a socialistic community.  All who care to accept their hospitality are entertained.  It follows, therefore, that the cook-house is a busy corner of activity.  The cooking is done by three or four men.  Large boilers are used, and the place sometimes becomes so hot that an electric fan is kept in motion.  Plain food is the rule, and three meals a day are partaken of.

Baptisms took place on Saturday.  The Pilgrims immerse their converts, and a pond is used for this purpose at Crocknacrieve.  The ceremony is an interesting one.  The immersion is performed by one or more members of the fellowship.  The convert is caught by the arms and lowered backwards beneath the water for a few seconds.  The clothes worn are changed immediately afterwards in a tent provided for the purpose, and so, as a rule, no chill follows.

Every Sunday morning the Lord’s Supper is observed.  A piece of bread is passed from hand to hand, followed by wine in mugs.

One of the most notable things is the care which is taken to keep the men and women within their respective bounds.  One half of the large tent is set apart for the women, and various parts of the grounds are reserved for the same purpose.

THE SUNDAY MEETINGS

Three meetings were held on Sunday.  The speakers dealt mostly with the experience of their lives, and their hearers listened with rapt attention.  The morning meeting was mostly a ‘testimony meeting,’ when any who chose to do so spoke appropriately on their Christian experience.  Frequent appeals were made to any outsiders to become possessed with ‘the new nature.’  One speaker declared that if Pilate had asked what would they do with the Bible, the people would have refused to part with it; and if he had asked what they would do with the ‘clergy’ they would have declared that they were necessary, as they could not be buried without them; but when he asked what they would do with Jesus, they replied, ‘Crucify Him.’

An appeal was made by Mr. William Gill at the close of the evening meeting for all those who had not done so to become converted in what he called ‘the Jesus Way.’  Referring to the superstition that was around, he said they were all sensible people there that night, but a greater insult to the intelligence of Fermanagh could not be imagined than to ask them to believe that a little baby was made a ‘member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven,’ by having a few drops of water sprinkled on its head by a clergyman.  They might be hiding in the tree which they had climbed up, but God was willing to strip their religious covering off, as he did the fig leaf covering from Adam. 


  July 12, 1913 p8 - Western Daily Press
The Go-Preachers Alleged Libel: Somerset Vicar as Defendant

Repeated in:

July 12, 1913 p9 - Bristol Times and Mirror
Singular Action for Libel

Burfitt v. Hayward (S.J.)—Mr. Clavell Salter K.C. and Mr. Eames (instructed by Glover and Son) were for the plaintiffs and Mr. Foote, K.C., and Mr. Rainer Goddard (instructed by Messrs Dyne, Muller and Hughes) for the defendants. The action was for an alleged libel.

Mr. Salter said the plaintiffs were Joseph Burfitt, who was a substantial farmer and well known man, whose farm was known as Goodedge Farm, in the parish of Bruham, about two miles from Bruton, Somerset; Mr. Frederick Carter, a carpenter in the same parish; Mr. Escort Alfred Henry Burfitt and Miss Rosalie Ellen Mary Burfitt, the son and daughter of Mr. Burfitt, senior. The plaintiffs complained of a libel published about them by the defendants, who were the Rev. Douglas Llewellyn Hayward, the vicar of Bruton, in Somerset, and Mr. Richard Mainstone, a hairdresser, carrying on business in Bruton.

The libel was published by the two defendants, not in the sense that they wrote it, but gave it publicity. The matter arose in this way.  Some six or seven years ago there came to the village of Bruham an evangelist preacher named William John Gill who belonged to a sect or religious society, known popularly as the “Go-preachers”.  They were an evangelical society who considered that they were under an obligation in the words of the New Testament to go and preach the word, and apparently in that way they had acquired their popular title of “Go-preacher.”   They were a Protestant evangelistic body. 

Their tenets appeared to be based on a literal interpretation of the New Testament; their services and messages were of the simplest possible kind.  They had no clergy, no ministers.  Any persons of their body who pleased could take part in their religious services, but although they were called “Go-preachers,” they were not all actual preachers.  Only certain of them preach, and those of them who preached journeyed about the country preaching in twos, either two men, two women, or sometimes a married couple.  They went entirely without money, and they lived on such sums as they had given to them and they preached what they conceived to be the true Gospel.  They were an ordinary small Protestant sect, very like any other sect in their doctrine, and not altogether unlike the Society of Friends in the extreme simplicity of their observances and practices. 

One of the Go-preachers, Mr. Gill, arrived at Bruham and preached there, holding little meetings in a room in the village inn.  He apparently preached there with some success, because since his visit a considerable number, remembering the small place, joined that community.  Amongst those who were attracted by the preaching of Mr. Gill was Mrs. Burfitt, the wife of the senior plaintiff in this case, a responsible farmer’s wife.  They had 11 children.  Mrs Burfitt and some of the sons and daughters were deeply attracted from the first by that Church, and early she joined the community.  Mr. Burfitt did not do so for some time.  He was a reluctant convert.  He had been a very staunch member of the Church of England, and had been for a good many years vicar’s churchwarden of the parish, and his father had been before him.  It was only after great searching of heart and some lapse of time that he thought it his duty to leave the Church of England, and join with his wife and family in the small community. 

Another one who joined was the second plaintiff, Mr. Carter, a carpenter of the village, who was very active in the body, and set apart one of the rooms in his house as a meeting room, and once every week for the last six or seven years, and twice on Sundays they had held their religious services in Mr. Carter’s room. 

Mr. Burfitt’s son, who had a dairy farm, became with Mr. Burfitt’s daughter, preachers and traveled about the country, the lady in association with another lady and the son with another man convert. That became very well known, and that sort of preaching would incite considerable interest in a country place, and it was extremely well known, not only in Bruham, but in Bruton, locally known as Joey Burfitt, and others of his household had joined the Go-preachers. 

There were those who naturally viewed it without much pleasure.  For example, the vicar of Bruham naturally regretted the defection of a family from his congregation, and Mr. Burfitt was on less cordial terms than before with the vicar of the parish.  It was also known to the principal defendant in this case, Mr. Hayward, who was the vicar of Bruton, and also rural dean of the district in which Bruton is situate.  Counsel thought it would appear that Mr. Hayward also regretted, and regretted on a public occasion, the falling off of the Church membership at Bruham, which resulted in the success of the little sect. 

There was a very bitter enemy of the sect, a man named Wilson, who lived in Suffolk, and who at one time was rather in sympathy with the community; but several of his children, Counsel thought six of them, against his will, joined the community, and since then Mr. Wilson had been a bitter opponent and bitter persecutor of the community, following them with abuse and slander wherever their preachers had gone.  His attacks upon them had increased in virulence and gravity.  It began with charging them, first of all, with moral laxity, and then with actual Mormonism, and latterly he had gone even beyond that. 

In connection with the agitation about what had been called the white slave traffic, he had gone so far as to impute against those unfortunate people that under the cloak of religion they desired to abduct young people and send them abroad.  Some years ago Wilson was sued by a member of the community in the Irish Courts, and he was forced to publish in the papers a public apology for the slanders which he had disseminated.  The society hoped that they might be left in peace, but they were not, and he did not relax his persecution, and apparently wherever the preachers went he tried to stir up feeling against them. 

The practice of the little Church was to hold at intervals what they called conventions for the deepening of spiritual life.  These were in fact religious assemblies at which those members of the community, who could afford it came to a given spot for a space of a week or ten days and held religious services together, and tried to get the people in the neighbourhood to join them. 

One of those conventions was held at Mr. Burfitt’s farm in 1909.  In 1912 they held another convention at the farm.  They held them twice a year.  The convention was from the 14th to the 24th of June, the period of ten days covering two week ends.  Some 200 or 300 working people came there.  Carter put up 15 of them, others were put up in the village by others, and considerable number, over 100 were put up by Mr. Burfitt in his farm house and farm buildings.  The extremest care was taken to see that all the arrangements were proper and decent and right in every respect. 

The convention began and successful meetings were held on the weeks days and the first Sunday, June 16th, and on the 17th and 18th.  The members of the community heard on the 20th of June that a leaflet of the most serious kind had been exhibited, and was being exhibited in a very public place in the town of Bruton, a mile or two away.  It was being exhibited on a notice board outside the barber’s shop in a frequented street.  Counsel would say in a moment how it came to be there, and he would read that document, which had been put up, which had been admitted by the barber, upon the instructions of Mr. Hayward, the vicar of Bruton.  The document read –

“A grave warning, signed by overseers in 20 parishes and all the overseers in Ipswich.  We being the overseers of the poor in various parishes in Suffolk, England, feel it our duty to warn every man, woman and child against countenancing, or in any way encouraging those men and women who come amongst us and call themselves by various names, such as “Go-preachers,” “No Sect,” “No Church,” &c.  and endeavour to entice away our children especially our young girls under the cloak of religion.  Many girls have been induced to leave their homes to their great distress and sorrow.  We have seen letters from some of these girls which describe their painful experience amongst these people abroad. There can be no doubt that the religious ferovur (sic) and apparent zeal displayed by the people here may be treacherous baits to catch the unwary for an improper purpose.  No words of ours are sufficiently strong to describe this horrible work and in the interest of all we strongly and earnestly warn parents and children to avoid these so-called preachers as they would the most deadly plague.” 

It was this document that had been stuck up in the most public place in Bruton by the orders of Mr. Hayward.  He had published this vile slander upon a body of harmless people who carried on their religious services close by.  Counsel then dealt with other documents which Mr. Hayward had received from Mr. Wilson.  One of these referred to the white slave traffic and to Mormon propaganda.  Any educated man, Counsel said, who had read this farrago of unconsequential stuff would have considered that he had better be careful how he dealt with it.

Mr. Foote said the only thing Mr. Hayward did wrong about these letters was to disclose that he had received them.

Mr. Salter replied that he had read them only in his desire to deal fairly in the matter.  Before publishing them he thought Mr. Hayward should have made some inquiry about them.  If it had been done, he would have found that Wilson had been prosecuted for issuing them, and had been compelled publicly to apologise for the slander. 

What Mr. Hayward appeared to have done was go to the most conspicuous place in Bruton and exhibit this document on the notice board.  He also sent a copy of one of the leaflets to Captain Elgar who was the leading resident to Bruham and a magistrate there.  When plaintiff heard of what had been done, he went to Mr. Mainstone and the Rev D. L. Hayward and tried to induce them to have the document taken away.  Mr. Maidstone was anything by apologetic, and though Mr. Hayward was shown a copy of the paper, containing Mr. Wilson’s public apology, it did not induce him to occupy a yielding attitude.  On the contrary he refused to express regret or to take the notice down, and said he was not liable, the only person liable being Mr. Wilson. 

The result was that the libel remained on view so a solicitor was consulted, and a letter was sent to Mr. Hayward.  Having dealt with the correspondence Mr. Salter said those were the facts of the case.  Nobody contended now that this scandalous document had a word of truth in it.  No one would contend that there was any doctrine or practice associated with the sect which a goodly ordinary Protestant sect might not profess.  Two points had been taken by the defendants.  They said it was not a libel upon the plaintiffs and, further, that it was privileged.  He proceeded to deal with the law of libel and quoted a recent decision of the Lord Chancellor.

The Judge pointed out that no name was mentioned in this libel.

Mr. Salter said perhaps the case he had quoted was not upon all fours with the present one – it would be difficult to find one that was – but it contained a general statement as to the law of libel.  Here was a document published which said the Go-preachers were persons who carried on abominable misconduct, and at the time this was done the Go-preachers were holding meetings in the neighbourhood.  It was recognized as an attack on Joey Burfitt. 

With regard to the plea of privileges, there was no privilege about what had been done.  If the jury found that a libel had been published he asked for a verdict for the plaintiffs that would mark the sense of the jury upon the reckless injustice with which thousands of people had been treated.

Joseph Burfitt, one of the plaintiffs stated that his son Escourt (sic) was the first to join the Go Preachers. Then his daughter and wife joined, and finally he threw in his lot with them. That was six or seven years ago. At the Convention held at his farm in 1912, he put up about 80 people, and the meetings were attended by about 170. On June 20 during the Convention, he learned of the notice being exhibited at the barber’s in Bruton. As friendly efforts to get it removed failed, he instructed his solicitor.

Cross-examined. Nothing further was done in the matter till the following January. Witness was not a Go Preacher, but he was a member of the sect. They regarded Mr. Carter as their bishop; he took a leading part in the meetings. He was not fighting for heavy damages. He was fighting for his honour and his character. If damages were recovered they would go to him, and not to the community. He had been hit in this matter through the community to which he belonged being hit (sic). It was not one of the tenets of his sect that they did not like clergymen. They objected to clergymen upon the ground of their taking collections. The Go Preachers did not approve of collections. He paid £22 a year tithes, but he had no animosity to the clergy.

Counsel then read through the leaflet which was complained of, and witness admitted that it did not mention his name or those of his children. Since it had been published he had been treated differently, and now he did not care to go to market.

The Court adjourned til this morning.


July ___?, 1913
Publication Name Unknown
[Possibly Fermanagh Times]

LIBEL ACTION
Claim Against a Somerset Vicar
The Sect of “Go Preachers”

Mr. Justice Ridley and a special jury sitting in the Civil Court of the Bristol Assize on Saturday, further heard the libel action of Burfitt v. Hayward, in which Mr. Clavell Salter, K.C. and Mr. Eames instructed by Messrs Glover and Sons appeared for the plaintiffs, whilst Mr. Roote, K.C., and Mr. Goddard (instructed by Messrs. Dyne, Muller, and Hughes) were for the defendants.

The Plaintiffs were Mr. Joseph Burfitt, farmer, of Bruham near Bruton; Mr. Frederick Carter, wheelright; Mr. Escort Alfred Henry Burfitt, and Miss Rosalie Ellen Mary Burfitt, son and daughter of the first plaintiff. The defendants were the Rev. Douglas Llewellyn Hayward, vicar of Bruton and Mr. Richard Mainstone, hairdresser.

It was alleged that Mr. Hayward induced Mr. Mainstone to display in his shop a printed notice attributing immorality to a sect known as Go Preachers of which the plaintiffs were active and prominent local members.

Frederick Carter, one of the plaintiffs stated that he was a local preacher in the sect of Go Preachers, and the publication of the alleged libel caused him considerable annoyance. He had put up members of the sect at his house when conventions were held. After the notice complained of was shown in the hairdresser’s shop, people shouted after him in the streets and told him to “go down to that _____low lot.” People also used to attend their meetings and disturb them. Some people would have no business dealings with them.

In cross examination witness said he was locally known as the bishop of the GO Preachers. They were also known as Gillites after the name of a Mr. Gill who held an early convention. He never heard them called the Persecutist. He could not say his neighbours thought he was engaged in the white slave traffic because of what was stated in the homes. He believed some of them thought they were engaged in immoral traffic.

The Judge: What are the tenets of your sect?
Witness: The New Testament
[Judge:] Those are the tenets of all sects. What are your tenets?
[Witness:] We believe in Jesus, who taught people to go out two by two.
[Judge:] But they were sent to the lost tribes of the House of Israel. Are we the lost sheep of Israel?
[Witness:] I cannot answer that question.
His Lordship: No, and I don’t think of anybody else can.

In reply to Mr. Salter, witness further stated that the Go Preachers were persecuted, and the printed leaflet which was displayed alleging they enticed young girls under the cloak of religion made things worse for them.

Richard Knox, police inspector of Winchester said he was a member of the Go Preacher Society, though not a preacher. He visited Mr. Burfitt’s place for conventions 1909 and 1910. Mr. Burfitt asked witness to go with one of his sons to Bruton to request that the public notice be taken down. When he spoke to Mr. Mainstone the cutter replied, “Oh ---(illegible)”

Hayward replied, “I was now aware proceedings had been taken against Mr. Wilson. I cannot do anything until I have seen my solicitor.”

Counsel read the published apology of William James Wilson who withdrew his statements and undertook not to repeat them.

Witness continuing said that when he saw Mr. Mainstone again with Mr. Burfitt, Mr. Mainstone said, “I heard your people were drummed out of Suffolk, and you ought to be drummed out of here. ----?? Followers, silly enough to be led away, no wonder young girls were?

Mr. Burfitt said, “Why don’t you come and hear for yourself.”
And Mr. Mainstone replied, “I would not lower myself to go.”

Witness seeing the vicar again asked what he was going to do about the notice, and he replied, “You must proceed against the people whose names are on the leaflet. I am advised I am not responsible.” Mr. Hayward further told him that he received copies of the leaflet from Suffolk, and distributed them to various persons but understood that he was not liable. Witness answered that if the vicar took up that attitude it was useless to attempt to reason with him.

In cross examination, witness said the objectionable notice was still up next morning, but he understood it was removed later in the day. When he went to the vicar he said he had called on behalf of Mr. Burfitt and others. Mr. Hayward read Wilson’s apology. He was certain the vicar told him he had distributed leaflets in the town, and did not merely say he had handed copies to the magistrates clerk.

In reply to Mr. Salter, Witness said he had attended that court on subpoena. Mr. Burfitt and others felt that the leaflet applied to them and were very much aggrieved. They said people were talking about it, and they would be very much injured by it.

Corroborative evidence was given by Andrew Knox, who was with his brother.

Howard Joseph Burfitt, son of Mr. Burfitt, said the leaflet caused his father great annoyance, and he was afraid to go to market. People had asked witness how many children he had.

Escort Alfred Henry Burfitt said he joined the Go Preachers before his father did, and was a preacher. He spent most of his time going about preaching. The leaflet caused his father much annoyance.

Rosalie Ellen Mary Burfitt, sister of previous witness, said she seceded from the Church of England to join the Go Preachers and had since gone about preaching. It was well known in the Bruton district that the Burfitts were Go Preachers. She considered that the leaflet reflected on herself and her father. In cross-examination, witness said she was away from home about 11 months each year preaching.

William Irvine, one of the founders of the Go Preachers’ Society, said it was Protestant evangelical. Its tenets containing nothing relating to the sexes that was different from the teaching of other denominations. He considered the leaflet a reflection on Mr. Burfitt and other people thought the same. Witness further stated that he heard people talking about the leaflet, and a lady said, ‘Old Burfitt ought to be burnt. In cross-examination witness said he had never known of a new sect being founded without opposition.

Arthur Henry Biggs, another member of the sect, said he saw the heading on the leaflet, and was ashamed to read it down. He understood it was immoral. The leaflet was a matter of common talk.

Herbert George Miller, farmer, a member of the Church of England, said that when Mr. Burfitt was at market he heard people say ‘Here’s old Joey—he’s not much good now he’s gone in with that lot.’ That was after the leaflet was exhibited. He heard another person say ‘They only try to get girls away for immoral purposes.’ When witness read the leaflet containing the charges, he associated it with the Go Preachers, especially the leaders, of whom Mr. Burfitt was one.

In cross-examination witness said that after reading the leaflet he began to think the Go Preachers did get girls away under the cloak of religion.

Mr. Foote—Did you believe that Mr. Burfitt had been getting away girls for immoral purposes?
Witness—Not from Bruham.
Did you really believe it?—I cannot say I really believed it, but I thought there was something to it.
I suppose you "dropped" his acquaintance then?—No but I thought less of him.

In further cross-examination, witness said he thought the charges made in the leaflet, applied to the leaders of the Go Preachers including Mr. Burfitt, because it was posted at Bruton.

Herbert John Barnes, baker, said he also inferred that the leaflet applied to Mr. Burfitt and his family. In reply to Mr. Foote, witness said he was not a member of the Go Preachers’ Society, but members of his family were.

George Keevil, cheese maker, said that when at market he heard people speak of Mr. Burfitt in strong terms, and say he allowed people to go to his place for immoral purposes.

This completed the plaintiff’s case.

THE DEFENCE

Mr. Foote for the defence subitted that the plaintiffs had not made out their case. As regarded Mr. Burfitt se__?? all that had been proved was that he was a member of the Go Preachers community and owner of the farm on which convention was held. If it were to be held that the leaflet gave every member of that sect the right to bring an action (-------------several lines illegible here). The leaflet clearly referred to the “people here”—meaning Suffolk. Go Preachers in Suffolk might have the right of action, but not those in Somerset. There was no suggestion that the Go Preachers in Somerset were immoral, and nobody supposed they were. To establish a right of action, it must be proved that the leaflet stated the plaintiffs individually were immoral.

The Judge decided that he must leave the case to the jury though he felt that the point raised by Mr. Foote was an important one for the jury.

Mr. Foote addressing the jury submitted that the evidence was so slight that they ought not to find in favour of the plaintiffs. What they had to find if they decided in favour of the plaintiffs, was that the leaflet was a libel, not upon all Go Preachers, but upon Mr. Burfitt and the other plaintiffs individually. The plaintiffs ought not to have a verdict unless the jury found that because of the leaflet reasonable people would understand that the Burfitt family were given to immoral practices.

Counsel explained how the leaflet reached Mr. Hayward by post and said that in view of what he had read in the newspaper about the Go Preachers, he felt it his duty to make use of it, especially seeing that it was signed by a number of overseers and others in Suffolk. The visits of the Go Preachers to Bruham roused a great deal of opposition, and the leaflet, no doubt, attracted a great deal of attention, but nobody supposed merely because a few people called after Mr. Burfitt that they believed he and his family were guilty of immoral practices.

Counsel added that Mr. Hayward was willing to put up a notice in place of the leaflet stating that the latter did not apply to the plaintiffs, but the offer was not accepted, and the plaintiffs commenced legal proceedings. The plaintiffs stated that they brought the action to vindicate their characters but they had never been attacked by the defendants, and it would be unfair to find a verdict against them. He could only assume that the charges in the leaflet were the work of a disordered mind, and how it came to be signed by a number of overseers he could not imagine. At any rate, he thought the defendants were justified in urging that caution should be used in receiving Go Preachers at Bruham.

The Rev. D. L. Hayward, vicar of Bruton for 15 years, said he knew the sect referred to as Gillites, and he did not know Mr. Burfitt or any member of his family was connected with it.  He saw a newspaper article referring to a sect which was alleged to be sending young girls abroad.  That sect was styled ‘Tramp Preachers.’  He afterwards received the leaflet referring to the Go Preachers and thought it his duty to make use of it.  He asked Mr. Mainstone to exhibit the leaflet; another he handed to a magistrate whose advice he asked; and a third one he retained.  He did not distribute the leaflet as the plaintiffs suggested. 

When Mr. Knox asked him to have the leaflet at Mainstone’s shop removed, witness asked ‘Does this leaflet refer to you?’ and Knox replied, ‘People will think it does.’  Witness promised to consider the request.  At a second interview, Knox threatened that something would happen if the notice were not removed, and he then said he must consult his solicitor.  After doing so he asked Mr. Mainstone to remove it.

In cross-examination, witness said he had never discussed the Go Preachers with Mr. Burfitt.  The latter was a most respectable man.  He had never attacked the Go Preachers.  He knew them only as Gillites.

Mr. Salter—Have you never in an address regretted the falling off in Church membership at Bruham owing to the growth of this sect?
Witness—I do not recollect it.

In further cross examination, witness said he knew Mr. Burfitt had left the Church, but did not know he had joined the Gillites. He remembered receiving a letter saying a party of Mormons had gone from Debenham to Bruton, and had behaved badly to a number of girls. He thought it was written by a man “off his balance.” He received another letter full of serious charges, and thought the writer was a madman. The leaflet imputed the procuring of women under the cloak of religion and he exhibited it because the Gillites were about to hold a convention. He had no time to make inquiries, and thought that as the leaflet was signed by about 40 church wardens and overseers he was justified in using it. His object was to warn his parishioners against the sect which procured women for immoral purposes.

Mr. Salter: Did you think that of another Christian body?
Witness: It is a question whether it is a Christian body. At that time there was a great outcry against the Mormons.

In further cross-examination—Witness said he did not think the people at Bruham were immoral, but he wanted to warn his parishioners against the teachings of the Gillites.  He did not exhibit the notice with the object of securing rough demonstrations against the Go Preachers, but merely to warn his own people.  He did not remember Knox showing him Wilson’s public apology for his attacks of the sect. He refused to take down the notice until he could see his solicitor, because Knox threatened him.  He refused to apologise because he had not injured the plaintiff, and never intended to hurt him.  It might be that he owed an apology to people in Suffolk.

Mr. Salter—Do you believe now that any members of this sect procure women for prostitution, or preach that it is right to do so?—Certainly not.

The judge, in summing up, said nobody suggested that the plaintiffs procured women for immoral purposes, and the question was whether or not the jury thought the libellous words applied to the plaintiffs?  The words were libellous on the community, but were they libellous on the plaintiffs?  Had the plaintiffs suffered in the way suggested?  Some of the witnesses had said the leaflet led them to believe that the plaintiffs procured women for bad purposes, but could they be believed?  If the jury found that the charge of libel had been established, he suggested that moderate damages would be enough to mark their sense of the vicar’s indiscretion.

RESULT

The jury found for the plaintiffs awarding them £50 damages, and judgment was given for them, with costs.


  July 14, 1913 p9
Bristol Times and Mirror

The Go-Preachers and their Tenets – A Vicar Sued for Libel

The whole of Saturday—the closing day of the Bristol Assizes—was taken up before Mr. Justice Ridley and a special jury on the adjourned hearing of the action for libel Burfitt and others v. Hayward (S.J.)

Mr. Clavell Salter, K.C., M.P. and Mr. Eames (instructed by Messrs. Glover and Son) were for plaintiffs and Mr. Foote, K.C. and Mr. Rainer Goddard (instructed by Messrs. Dyne Muller and Hughes) were for defendants.

The Sect of “Go Preachers”

The case which was an action for libel, was opened on the previous day, plaintiff being a farmer and others at Bruham, near Bruton; the defendants being the vicar of Bruton and a hairdresser named Mainstone, in business in that town. The libel complained of was made up of the statements in a leaflet reflecting on the sect of Go-preachers of which plaintiffs were members.

Fred Carter, master wheelright, of Bruham, near Bruton said for seven years he had belonged to the Go-preachers, preaching occasionally in his own district, but not going further afield. Speaking of the Convention and its assembly, witness said he had put up 15 of those attending. He provided material for their use and made bedsteads. It was generally known in the district that he belonged to the sect. He had a large room fitted up at his house for worship. After the publication of the leaflet he was called upon when he walked about. It was shouted at him, “Get down along with that---low lot.” Such shouts took place after the Convention. He had been called at only once since the issue of the leaflet, and only once before. The annoyance outside his house during the Convention was such that he had to get the assistance of the police on the last Sunday.

In 1909 the annoyance was also considerable, but he could not state the cause of it, but the vicar was against the Convention and the weekly preaching. He was not personally aware that his family had suffered any annoyance after June last. Witness said when asked how he and his were treated, that they were slighted and called after when they were out.

The Judge: What do you mean by that?
They will not have any dealings with us.

Cross-examined: The sect was known as Gillites as well as Go-preachers. Witness was the person who had been described as the local pastor of the sect. He could not say that it was natural, nor did he expect persecution and ill will when he “took sides,” but he had experienced it. As far as the leaflet was concerned he complained of the imputations it contained as to his putting up members of the Convention.

Mr. Foote: Do you tell the jury that any of your members suspect you of being engaged in the white slave trade?
—They think very bad of us, but I cannot tell you exactly what their thoughts are. There are some of them I believe, amongst the members who do think that I am engaged in immoral traffic.

Pressed further on the point, witness said he thought that there were some who believed in the accusations in the leaflet.

PERFUTED BY THE JUDGE

The Judge: What are the tenets of your sect?—The New Testament.
The Judge: That will not do. Tell me what you believe in?—We believe in Jesus Christ and His command to go into the world and preach.
The Judge: But stop, that command was to go out and preach to the lost sheep of the House of Israel—Jesus said go out to the world.
The Judge: If you believe in a literal interpretation of the New Testament you are wrong. Do you take the text from Matthew? —Yes
The Judge: Let us read it. On it being read it was clear that the wording was as his lordship had said, upon which the learned judge asked witness if his contention was that “we are the lost tribes.”
Witness replied that he could not answer that.
His Lordship: I do not think that anyone could, and if you are literal interpreters, then I say the criticism is formidable.

Re-examined: Rightly or wrongly, our people think it right to preach the Gospel according to our lights. Before the leaflet there had been persecution, and since its issue that persecution had increased, the neighbours taking the statement in the leaflets as imputations on him and those associated with him.

Richard Knox, police-inspector, Winchester, said he had been a member of the Go-preachers for eleven years, but he did not travel as a preacher. He had attended Conventions in various parts, including the one near Bruton. He saw the leaflet. Speaking of an interview which took place with the defendant (the vicar) on the statements in the leaflet, witness said the vicar replied: “I hear that your people were drummed out of Suffolk, and you ought to be drummed out of here. If you are led away, is it any wonder that young girls are?”

The person accompanying witness said to the vicar, “Why do you not come and see and hear for yourself?” To which the vicar replied, “I would not lower myself so.” The vicar said he had taken advice on the matter and he understood that he was not liable in any way. The reverend gentleman said the responsibility for the statements in the leaflet was with the people in Suffolk, who had published the leaflet. The vicar then added that he had received the leaflets, and that he had distributed them in the town, leaving one with the barber to put up in his shop. Others he had passed on to the magistrates’ clerk, and the remainder to the Chief Constable.

Witness had called on the vicar in consequence of the exhibition of the leaflet at the barber’s. When the latter was asked to take the leaflet down, witness was referred by him to the vicar, with the remark, “I hope he will give you a good dressing down.”

Andrew Knox, a brother of the last witness corroborated as to the interview which had taken place with the vicar and the hairdresser.

Howard Joseph Burfitt, son of Joseph Burfitt, said he was a “Go-preacher,” and spoke of the interview with the hairdresser. He said that the leaflet had caused has father and the whole family a great deal of annoyance. His father did not like to go about the market now, and witness, since the publication of the leaflet, had been asked how many children he had.

Escortt (sic) Alfred Henry Burfitt said he had been an active preacher for the sect for at least five years. He went about the country, and was not back at the farm more than a month during the year. He spoke of the annoyance which the family was subjected to.

A WOMAN PREACHER

Miss Rosalie E. M. Burfitt said before her family joined the “Go-preachers,” she was a Churchworker and Church Sunday School teacher. She was now a regular preacher and came home for the Convention in 1912. It was well known in the district that her father and family belonged to the “Go-preachers.” The leaflet was shown to her and she regarded it as a reflection upon her father and herself.

Cross-examined, witness said she was 27 years of age and preached usually about eleven months in the year.

William Irskine [sic – should be Irvine]said he was one of the founders of the sect. He was a preacher, and went all over the world. The sect was Protestant Evangelist, and held no different views on the marriage question and the relation of the sexes than any other Christian body. Witness had seen a copy of the leaflet complained of at the time it was posted, and was, to his mind, a reflection on Mr. Burfitt, and so he thought all others who read it must. He had heard reflections made upon plaintiff on one occasion, a Sunday night during the Convention, two women called out as they passed along the road. They shouted out, “Old Burfitt ought to be burnt.” The Go-preachers’ meetings were always open to the public.

Arthur Henry Biggs, signalman, G.W.R., Bruton, said he saw the leaflet headed “A Grave Warning” in Mainstone’s window. He did not read it because he was ashamed to. Everyone said it dealt with things which were immoral. The leaflet was a matter of common talk in Bruton and district.

Herbert Geo. Miller, farmer, a member of the Church of England, said that when Mr. Burfitt was at the market he heard people say, “There’s old Joey—he’s not much good now he’s gone in with that lot.” That was after the leaflet was exhibited. He heard another person say: “They only try to get girls away for immoral purposes.” When witness read the leaflet containing the charges he associated it with the Go-preachers, especially the leaders, of whom Mr. Burfitt was one.

In cross-examination, witness said that after reading the leaflet he began to think the Go-preachers did get girls away under the cloak of religion.

Mr. Foote: Did you believe that Mr. Burfitt had been getting girls away for immoral purposes?
Witness: Not from Bruham.
Did you really believe it?—I cannot say I really believed it, but I thought there was something in it.
I suppose you dropped his acquaintance then?—No, but I thought less of him.

Witness said he began to believe that the Go-preachers and those who worshipped with them were immoral, because the leaflet and the general talk in the district were based on the statements in the leaflet. Having pointed out that he considered the paragraph in the leaflet which led to this belief.

Mr. Foote said that this referred to Suffolk.
Witness: Then why was it posted at Bruton?
Mr. Clavell Salter: A very good reply.
Mr. Foote: It may be, but it is no reply to my question.

Hubert Barnes, baker, and George Kuvil (?), cheesemaker, were also called. The latter deposed that when the daughters of Burfitt bathed in the river, imputations were made upon their chastity.

His Lordship said he did not regard this as evidence, and should make—of it. They were not to have all the objectionable language at Bruton placed upon them.

This witness’s evidence concluded the plaintiff’s case.

THE DEFENCE

Mr. Foote, on behalf of defendants, submitted that there was no case. All that had been pleaded and proved was that the plaintiff, Joseph Burfitt, was a member of the Convention and was the owner of the farm at which the Convention was held. He denied that if disparaging remarks were made on a sect that every member present had a right of action. If so, it would open a very wide field of litigation. Possibly no church had suffered so much from what had been said of it than the Roman Catholic, but no one had ever contended that every member of that Church residing in England had a right of action. The same might be said of the Protestant Church of England, the Wesleyan Methodist, the Quakers and other Christian bodies. The leaflet was issued in Suffolk, and dealt with matters which had occurred in that county, and could not be made to affect the people in Somerset. He submitted that there was no case for the jury.

Mr. Clavell Slater submitted that the case should be left to the jury.
His lordship concurred.

Mr. Foote, addressing the jury, said that he was going to put to them that the evidence was so slight that they ought not to find a verdict for plaintiffs. The real question was, Did the Leaflet libel Mr. Burfitt, his two daughters, and Mr. Carter individually? The real test was, Did reasonable people imagine that the leaflet reflected upon plaintiffs personally? Did it impute personal immoral practices? The jury must be persuaded that the leaflet would so be interpreted by reasonable persons, and they were not to be influenced by the shouted obscenities of a half-witted village boor.

Letters had appeared in the morning papers signed by clergymen and ministers, and the defendants Hayward, on receiving the leaflets from Suffolk did give one to Mainstone, but it was not exposed more than twenty-four hours, during which the harm done could not have been such as to offend the most susceptible, tender-feeling people. They had only to look at Burfitt, and no one would believe that he was engaged in immoral practices.

Of course, there was always some persecution when a new sect of Christians started, and the mere calling out after Burfitt was not a cause of action. Again, if this sect had done the things alleged in Suffolk, it was not to be implied that the placing of the leaflet at Bruton meant that plaintiff and his family were carrying on these immoral practices.

The offer made by defendant was to put up in the same place at Bruton a signed statement that the leaflet was not intended to apply to plaintiff and his family in any way. That offer should have led to the conclusion of the case in a manner honourable to all parties, but litigation was forced on defendant. There had been no attack upon plaintiff’s character, and if that was so, then there ought not to be a scandal against defendant to satisfy an animosity __ plaintiff; but of these who might __behind them.


DID HIS STERN DUTY

The Rev. Douglas Llewellyn Hayward, the defendant, said he knew the sect by the name of Gillites. He did not know that Burfitt and his family were members thereof. He had seen an article published, signed by twenty clergy—Church of England, Roman Catholic and Nonconformist ministers—warning people against the teachings of a sect which induced young girls to go abroad as preachers, and about whom information subsequently could not be obtained. Defendant said these people were known as tramp preachers, and on receiving the leaflet from Suffolk, he at once associated the Convention locally held with these people.

He only had three of these leaflets in all, one of which he gave to Mainstone and one to Captain Elgar, a magistrate, whose advice he asked. The third he kept. He denied that he had told Knox that he had distributed others. On the Saturday—two days after being first asked—he asked Mainstone to remove the leaflet, and this was done.

Cross-examined: He knew that Burfitt was a most respectable man. He had never heard the sect called Go-preachers; he had always heard it termed Gillites. He knew Burfitt had left the Church, but he did not know that he had joined the Gillites. Defendant had received communication warning him that notorious Mormons who had left Suffolk had been traced to Bruton. One was a telegram and two were letters. The latter seemed to be written by a man off his balance, yet he caused one of the leaflets enclosed in the letters to be posted up at Mainstone’s.

The content of the leaflets and warnings brought the most hideous charges which could be brought—namely procuring women under the cloak of religion. This leaflet was signed by upwards of forty church wardens. He posted this without inquiring of any of the signatures, because there was no time—the Convention was drawing to a close. No imputation was made by him against Mr. Burfitt and his family, but he believed that there were attending the Convention people from Suffolk who believed and practiced the detestable acts, which the leaflet alleged.

The Burfitts’ farm was out of his parish, but he thought his stern duty was to warn his parishioners against those doctrines. He meant by this the sending out of the country of young girls under the cloak of religion, but whose future was known in what was known as the White Slave traffic. Defendant was called on twice in reference to the leaflet. He expressed no regret for having caused the posting of the leaflet, and did not promise to take it down. When Knox threatened him defendant made no promise, but told him that he should take legal advice. The reason he refused to apologise was because he neither hurt, nor intended to hurt the persons complaining. He would say that he did not believe that the Burfitts were guilty of the practices said to have been followed in Suffolk, or that they were capable thereof.

That is your belief then? —Yes.
When did you change your opinion? –I cannot say, but possibly after the inquiry.

Mainstone, the other defendant, was next called. He said he put up the leaflet in his shop at the request of the vicar. Speaking of the visit of Knox, who objected to the leaflet, he (Mainstone) asked how it affected him. Knox said that it did affect him and all those who were meeting at the Burfitts. Defendant then said, “If you do those things you should be ashamed of yourself.” Knox said, “It is a lie.” Defendant then said, “Then go for the people who have signed their names to the leaflet, and not for me.”

Cross-examined: He knew that the Burfitts were Gillites, and did not associate them in any way with the persons alluded to in the leaflets. He put up the leaflet at the request of the vicar, and declined to take it down until the vicar asked him.

This was the defendants’ case.

LEADING UP TO THE VERDICT

Mr. Foote again addressed the jury, and said he desired to deal with the matter calmly and reasonably. The true issue was had the plaintiffs been injured, had they been libeled? Could anyone who read the leaflet believe that it was intended to convey the impression that Burfitt and his family were engaged in immoral practices? The vicar, in posting the leaflet, did so to let the Burfitts know that there were grave allegations against the Go-preachers in Suffolk, and that some of these were supposed to be coming to take part in the Conventions at Bruham. The vicar was warning the people of Somerset against the intrusion of outsiders from Suffolk, and then the Somerset folk turned round and said, “You are reflecting upon us,” whereas the vicar’s idea was for their protection. It was a distortion of language to say that the leaflet contained any personal imputation on plaintiffs.

Mr. Clavell Salter said he had to satisfy them not only that persons reading the bill would think it applied to the Burfitts, but that they reasonably thought so. The leaflet could give rise only to one application, and that was it referred to what was going on at the Convention on Burfitt’s farm. If that was so, then the Burfitts were libelled, and it was no defence to say that no libel was intended. All he said against the defendant—the vicar—was that he was reckless in exhibiting the leaflet, but he (learned counsel) did not allege anything against his veracity. He urged that plaintiffs were entitled to substantial damages, for they had been badly oppressed and hardly treated in consequence of the public posting of the leaflet. From first to last, there had been no expression of regret from the defendant.

His Lordship said the jury’s verdict would not affect the sect, which would go on, whichever way the finding went. The only questions the jury had to determine were: Do you think that the libelous words referred to plaintiffs, and if you do, what shall be the damages awarded. The words in the leaflet were libelous on the sect, but did they apply personally to the plaintiffs? If a sect was so assailed, individual libel actions could not be taken by the individual members of the sect. Did they think that the people in this neighbourhood believed that the Burfitts were procuring young girls? It was monstrous. Plaintiff certainly did not look a person against whom such an accusation could be made, and if he had felt that his character had been assailed by such a dreadful accusation, why did he wait twelve months before bringing his action?

The jury found for plaintiffs awarding £50 damages. Judgment was entered accordingly.

The Court rose at 4:45 p.m., and the business of the Assize was concluded.


(No publication name or date) 
Probable date of July 14, 1913
Burfitt v. Hayward

Go Preachers Libelled by a Vicar
Somerset Villagers Awarded Fifty Pounds Damages
Strange Sequel to a Revival

From Our Own Correspondent,
Bristol, Sunday

A remarkable libel suit affecting the religious sect known as the “Go Preachers” was heard at Bristol Assizes yesterday.

The plaintiffs were Joseph Burfitt, a substantial farmer of Bruton, Somerset, Escort Burfitt, his son, Rosalie Burfitt, his daughter, and Frederick Carter, a carpenter in the parish of Burham. The defendants were the Rev. Douglas Llewellyn Hayward, vicar of Bruton, and Richard Mainstone, a Bruton hairdresser.

Seven years ago, an evangelist named William Gill visited the old world village of Bruton and preached the Gospel according to the “Go Preachers” who considered they were under an obligation, in the words of the New Testament, to go and preach the Word.

The services and methods of the “Go Preachers” were simplicity itself. They had no clergy, no ministers. Those members who received the call went about preaching, generally in pairs, two men, two women, or sometimes a married couple.

They started without money, and lived on what was given them, the while they preached what they conceived to be the true Gospel.

The advent of Gill stirred up the village of Bruton, and he made many converts, among them several members of the family of Burfitt, who had previously been a churchwarden and earnest Church worker. Mrs. Burfitt led the way, but it was only after much heart searching that the elder Burfitt himself joined the community.

THE SEXES NEVER MINGLED

Carter, the carpenter of the village, also joined the Go Preachers, and set apart one of the rooms in his house as a meeting-place.

The movement grew apace, and in 1909 and 1912 conventions were held in the village, when some 200 or 300 adherents visited the village, and in the latter year, Burfitt housed over 100 of them in his farmhouse and farm buildings. Men and women sat apart, and the sexes never met, even at meals.

While the 1912 convention was sitting, the members learned that the following leaflet was being exhibited, by the instruction of the Rev. D. L. Hayward, vicar of Bruton, on a notice board outside the barber's shop of Mainstone, one of the most conspicuous spots in the village:

A grave warning, signed by overseers in 20 parishes, and all the overseers in Ipswich:----We, being overseers of the poor and various parishes in Suffolk, England, feel it our duty to warn every man, woman, and child against countenancing or in any way encouraging those men and women who come amongst us and call themselves by various names such as “Go-preachers,” “No Sect,” “No Church,” etc., and endeavour to entice our children, especially our young girls, under the cloak of religion. Many girls have been induced to leave their homes, to their great distress and sorrow. We have seen letters from some of these girls, these people abroad. There can be no doubt that the religious fervour and apparent zeal displayed by the people here may be treacherous baits to catch the unwary for an improper purpose. No words of ours are sufficiently strong to describe this horrible work, and in the interests of all we strongly and earnestly warn parents and children to avoid these so-called preachers as they would the most deadly plague.

The Vicar had received this document from a man in Suffolk, who, counsel said, had been prosecuted for issuing such leaflets and had been compelled to apologise publicly for the slander.

DIDN'T CARE TO GO TO MARKET.

The plaintiffs' case was that the leaflet constituted a libel on themselves, and that they had suffered by reason of its exhibition in the village. People received the impression that they were engaged in what was practically the white slave traffic.

Mr. Burfitt gave evidence, and said that since the publication of the leaflet he had been treated differently by people, and he did not now care to go to market.

Carter, who is regarded as the bishop in the community, said that after the leaflet, he was called after when he walked about.

“What do you believe in?” asked Mr. Justice Ridley.
“We believe in Jesus Christ and His command to go out into the world and preach” was the reply.

The Judge: But stop! That command was to go to go out and preach to the lost tribes of the House of Israel.
Carter: Jesus said “Go out into the world.”

The Judge: If you believe in a literal interpretation of the New Testament you are wrong. Do you take that text from Matthew?----Yes.
The Judge: Let us read it.

The passage was read, and then the Judge asked Carter if his contention was that “we were the lost tribes.”
Carter replied that he could not answer that.
The Judge: I do not think that anyone can.

Other members of the Burfitt family and members of the community gave evidence that they had suffered persecution through the publication of the leaflet in question, and that reflections had been made on their honour.

The defence was that the leaflet bore no reflection on the parties, and referred to matters which occurred in Suffolk, and could not be made to affect people in Somerset.

The jury found for the plaintiffs, awarding £50 damages, and judgment was executed accordingly.


July 17, 1913
THE IMPARTIAL REPORTER

Established 1808
Newspaper for Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
_____________
GO PREACHERS WIN AN ACTION
LIBEL IN LEAFLET
THE ALLEGED WHITE SLAVE TRAFFIC.
ARE AWARDED £50 DAMAGES
EXPOSING THE IGNORANCE OF A WITNESS.


Certain members of a singular sect known as the ‘Go Preachers’ brought a libel action at the Bristol Assizes, and were successful in obtaining £50 damages.  Mr. Justice Ridley who heard the case with a jury, made inquiry as to the tenets of the sect, and Frederick Carter, one of the plaintiffs, replied—‘We believe in Jesus Christ and his command to go out into the world and preach.’

‘But, stop’ exclaimed the judge, ‘that command was to go out and preach to the lost tribes of the House of Israel.’
Witness—Jesus said ‘Go out into the world.’
His Lordship—If you believe in a literal interpretation of the New Testament you are wrong.  Do you take that text from Matthew?—Yes.
The Judge—Let, us read it.
The passage was read, and the Judge then asked Carter if his contention was that ‘we were the lost tribes.’
Carter replied that he could not answer that.
The Judge—I do not think that anyone can.

The plaintiffs were a farmer named Joseph Burfitt, of Bruton, Somerset, his son and daughter, Escort and Rosalie Burfitt, and a carpenter named Frederick Carter, of Burham.  The Defendants were Rev. Douglas Llewellyn Hayward, rector of Bruton, and a hairdresser by name Richard Mainstone.

It appeared from a sketch of the history of the movement related in court that seven years ago an evangelist named William Gill visited the old-world village of Bruton and preached the Gospel according to the ‘Go Preachers,’ who considered they were under an obligation, in the words of the New Testament, to go and preach the Word.  The services and methods of the ‘Go Preachers’ were simplicity itself.  They had no clergy no ministers.  Those members who received the call went about preaching, generally in pairs, two men, two women, or sometimes a married couple.  They started without money, and lived on what was given to them, the while they preached what they conceived to be the true Gospel.

The advent of Gill stirred up the village of Bruton, and he made many converts, among them several members of the family of Burfitt, who had previously been a church warden and earnest Church worker.  Mrs. Burfitt led the way, but it was only after much heart searching that the elder Burfitt himself joined the community.  Carter, the carpenter of the village, also joined the Go-Preachers, and set apart one of the rooms of his house as a meeting-place.  The movement grew space, and in 1909 and 1912 conventions were held in the village, when some 200 or 300 adherents visited the village, and in the latter year Burfitt housed over 100 of them in his farmhouse and farm buildings.  Men and women set apart, and the sexes never met even at meals.

While the 1912 convention was sitting, the members learned that the following leaflet was being exhibited, by the instruction of Rev. D. L. Hayward, vicar of Bruton, on a notice-board outside the barber’s shop of Maidstone, one of the most conspicuous spots in the village:—

A grave warning signed by overseers in 20 parishes, and all the overseers in Ipswich—We, being overseers of the poor of various parishes in Suffolk, England, feel it our duty to warn every man, woman and child against countenancing or in any way encouraging those men and women who come amongst us and call themselves by various names such as ‘Go-preachers,’ ‘No Sect,’ ‘No church,’ &c., and endeavour to entice our children, especially our young girls, under the cloak of religion.  Many girls have been induced to leave their homes, to their great distress and sorrow.  We have seen letters from some of these girls, which describe their painful experience amongst these people abroad.  There can be no doubt that the religion’s fervour and apparent zeal displayed by the people here may be treacherous baits to catch the unwary for an improper purpose.  No words of ours are sufficiently strong to describe this horrible work, and in the interests of we strongly and earnestly warn parents and children to avoid these so-called preachers as they would the most deadly plague.

The Vicar had received this document from a man in Suffolk, who, counsel said had been prosecuted for issuing such leaflets, and had been compelled to apologise publicly for the slander.

For the plaintiffs it was stated that the leaflet constituted a libel on themselves, and they had suffered by reason of its exhibition in the village.  The impression was conveyed that they were engaged in what was practically the white slave traffic.

Mr. Burfitt, senr., stated that since the publication of the leaflet he had been treated differently by people, and he did not now care to go to market.

Carter, who is regarded as the bishop of community in the village, said that after the leaflet he was called after when he walked about.

Rosalie Ellen Mary Burfitt, sister of the previous witness, said she seceded from the Church of England to join the Go-Preachers, and had since gone about preaching.  It was well known in the Bruton district that the Burfitts were Go-Preachers.  She considered that the leaflet reflected on herself and her father.

In cross-examination, witness said she was away from home about 11 months each year preaching.

William Irvine, one of the founders of the Go-Preachers’ Society, said it was Protestant evangelical.  Its tenets containing nothing relating to the sexes that was different from the teaching of other denominations.  He considered the leaflet a reflection on Mr. Burfitt and other people thought the same. Witness further stated that he heard people talking about the leaflet, and a lady said, ‘Old Burfitt ought to be burnt. In cross-examination witness said he had never known of a new sect being founded without opposition.

Arthur Henry Biggs, another member of the sect, said he saw the heading on the leaflet, and was ashamed to read it down.  He understood it was immoral.  The leaflet was a matter of common talk.

Herbert George Miller, farmer, a member of the Church of England, said that when Mr. Burfitt was at market he heard people say ‘Here’s old Joey—he’s not much good now he’s gone in with that lot.’  That was after the leaflet was exhibited.  He heard another person say ‘They only try to get girls away for immoral purposes.’  When witness read the leaflet containing the charges he associated it with the Go-Preachers, especially the leaders, of whom Mr. Burfitt was one.

In cross-examination witness said that after reading the leaflet he began to think the Go-Preachers did get girls away under the cloak of religion.

Mr. Foote—Did you believe that Mr. Burfitt had been getting away girls for immoral purposes?
Witness—Not from Bruham.
Did you really believe it?—I cannot say I really believed it, but I thought there was something to it.
I suppose you "dropped" his acquaintance then?—No but I thought less of him.

In further cross-examination witness said he thought the charges made in the leaflet, applied to the leaders of the Go-Preachers including Mr. Burfitt, because it was posted at Bruton.

Herbert John Barnes, baker, said he also inferred that the leaflet applied to Mr. Burfitt and his family.  In reply to Mr. Foote, witness said he was not a member of the Go-Preachers’ Society, but members of his family were.

George Keevil, cheese maker, said that when at market he heard people speak of Mr. Burfitt in strong terms, and say he allowed people to go to his place for immoral purposes.

This completed the plaintiff’s case.

Other members of the community spoke to having suffered persecution and reflections upon their honour as a result of the leaflet.

For the defence, it was contended that the leaflet bore no reflection on the parties, but referred to matters which had occurred in Suffolk, and could not be made to affect people in Somerset.

THE DEFENCE

The Rev. D. L. Hayward, vicar of Bruton for 15 years, said he knew the sect referred to as Gillites, and he did not know Mr. Burfitt or any member of his family was connected with it.  He saw a newspaper article referring to a sect which was alleged to be sending young girls abroad.  That sect was styled ‘Tramp preachers.’  He afterwards received the leaflet referring to the Go-Preachers and thought it his duty to make use of it.  He asked Mr. Mainstone to exhibit the leaflet; another he handed to a magistrate whose advice he asked; and a third one he retained.  He did not distribute the leaflet as the plaintiffs suggested.  When Mr. Knox asked him to have the leaflet at Mainstone’s shop removed, witness asked ‘Does this leaflet refer to you?’ and Knox replied, ‘People will think it does.’  Witness promised to consider the request.  At a second interview, Knox threatened that something would happen if the notice were not removed, and he then said he must consult his solicitor.  After doing so he asked Mr. Mainstone to remove it.

In cross-examination, witness said he had never discussed the Go-Preachers with Mr. Burfitt.  The latter was a most respectable man.  He had never attacked the Go-Preachers.  He knew them only as Gillites.

Mr. Salter—Have you never in an address regretted the falling off in Church membership at Bruham owing to the growth of this sect?
Witness—I do not recollect it.

In further cross-examination witness said he knew Mr. Burfitt had left the Church, but did not know he had joined the Gillites.  He remembered receiving a letter saying a party of Mormons had gone from Debenham to Bruton, and had behaved badly to a number of girls.  He thought it was written by a man ‘off his balance.’  He received another letter, full of serious charges, and thought the writer was a madman.  The leaflet imputed the procuring of women under the cloak of religion, and he exhibited it because the Gillites were about to hold a convention.  He had no time to make inquiries, and thought that as the leaflet was signed by about 40 churchwardens and overseers he was justified in using it.  His object was to warn his parishioners against the sect which procured women for immoral purposes.

Mr. Salter—Did you think that of another Christian body?
Witness—It is a question whether it is a Christian body.  At that time there was a great outcry against the Mormons.

In further cross-examination—Witness said he did not think the people at Bruham were immoral, but he wanted to warn his parishioners against the teachings of the Gillites.  He did not exhibit the notice with the object of securing rough demonstrations against the Go-Preachers, but merely to warn his own people.  He did not remember Knox showing him Wilson’s public apology for his attacks of the sect. He refused to take down the notice until he could see his solicitor, because Knox threatened him.  He refused to apologise because he had not injured the plaintiff, and never intended to hurt him.  It might be that he owed an apology to people in Suffolk.

Mr. Salter—Do you believe now that any members of this sect procure women for prostitution, or preach that it is right to do so?—Certainly not.

The judge, in summing up, said nobody suggested that the plaintiffs procured women for immoral purposes, and the question was whether or not the jury thought the libellous words applied to the plaintiffs?  The words were libellous on the community, but were they libellous on the plaintiffs?  Had the plaintiffs suffered in the way suggested?  Some of the witnesses had said the leaflet led them to believe that the plaintiffs procured women for bad purposes, but could they be believed?  If the jury found that the charge of libel had been established, he suggested that moderate damages would be enough to mark their sense of the vicar’s indiscretion.

The jury returned a verdict for plaintiffs, and awarded £50 damages, for which judgment was given.


July 17, 1913, p. 8
The Fermanagh Times

Action by Pilgrims - English "Go Preachers" Awarded £50 Damages

Certain members of the sect known as the “Go Preachers” brought a libel action at the Bristol Assizes, and were successful in obtaining £50 damages. Mr. Justice Ridley, who heard the case with a jury, made inquiry as to the tenets of the sect, and Frederick Carter, one of the plaintiffs, replied—“We believe in Jesus Christ and his command to go out into the world and preach.”

“But, stop,” exclaimed the judge, “that command was to go out and preach to the lost tribes of the House of Israel.”
Witness—“Jesus said, ‘Go out into the world.’ ”

His Lordship—“If you believe in a literal interpretation of the New Testament you are wrong. Do you take that text from Matthew?”
—“Yes.”

The Judge—“Let us read it.”
The passage was read, and the Judge then asked Carter if his contention was that “we were the lost tribes.”

Carter replied that he could not answer that.
The Judge—“I do not think that anyone can.”

The plaintiffs were a farmer named Joseph Burfitt, of Bruton, Somerset, and his son and daughter, Escort and Rosalie Burfitt, and a carpenter named Frederick Carter, of Burham. The defendants were Rev. Douglas Llewellyn Hayward, rector of Bruton, and a hairdresser, by name Richard Mainstone.

It appeared from a sketch of the history of the movement related I court that seven years ago an evangelist named William Gill visited the old-world village of Bruton and preached the Gospel according to the “Go Preachers,” who considered they were under an obligation, in the words of the New Testament, to go and preach the Word.

The services and methods of the “Go Preachers” were simplicity itself. They had no clergy, no ministers. Those members who received the call went about preaching, generally in pairs, two men, two women or sometimes a married couple. They started without money, and lived on what was given them, the while they preached what they conceived to be the true Gospel.

The advent of Gill stirred up the village of Bruton, and he made many converts, among them several members of the family of Burfitt, who had previously been a church-warden and earnest Church worker. Mrs. Burfitt lead the way, but it was only after much heart searching that the elder Burfitt himself joined the community. Carter, the carpenter of the village, also joined the Go-Preachers, and set apart one of the rooms of his house as a meeting place. The movement grew apace, and in 1909 and 1912 conventions were held in the village and in the latter year Burfitt housed over 100 of them in his farm house and farm buildings. Men and women sat apart, and the sexes never met even at meals.

While the 1912 convention was sitting, the members learned that the following leaflet was being exhibited, by the instruction of the Rev. D. L. Hayward, vicar of Bruton, on a notice-board outside the barber’s shop of Mainstone, one of the most conspicuous spots in the village: —

A grave warning, s igned by overseers in 20 parishes and all the overseers in Ipswich— We being overseers of the poor of various parishes in Suffolk England feel it our duty to warn every man woman and child against countenancing or in any way encouraging those men and women who come among us and call themselves by various names such as “Go Preachers,” “No Sect,” “No Church,” &c., an endeavour to entice away our children especially our young girls under the cloak of religion. Many girls have been induced to leave their homes to their great distress and sorrow. We have seen letters from some of these girls which describe their painful experience among these people abroad. There can be no doubt that the religious fervour and apparent zeal displayed by the people here (meaning the Plaintiffs) may be treacherous baits to catch the unwary for an improper purpose. No words of ours are sufficiently strong to describe this horrible work and in the interests of all we strongly and earnestly warn parents and children to avoid these so-called preachers as they would the most deadly plague.

The vicar had received this document from a man in Suffolk, who, counsel said, had been prosecuted for issuing such leaflets, and had been compelled to apologise publicly for the slander.

For the plaintiffs, it was stated that the leaflet constituted a libel on themselves, and they had suffered by reason if its exhibition in the village. The impression was conveyed to people that they were engaged in what was practically the white slave traffic.

Mr. Burfitt, son, stated that since the publication of the leaflet he had been treated differently by people, and he did not now care to go to market. Carter, who is regarded as the bishop of the community in the village, said that after the leaflet he was called after when he walked about. Other members of the community spoke to having suffered persecution and reflections upon their honour as a result of the leaflet.

For the defense, it was contended that the leaflet bore no reflection on the parties, but referred to matters which had occurred in Suffolk, and could not be made to affect people in Somerset.

The jury returned a verdict for plaintiffs, and awarded £50 damages, for which judgment was given.


July 24, 1913 p. 1
The Fermanagh Times

THE  PILGRIMS
Their Beliefs and Practices As Stated by Themselves

IN LIBEL ACTION AGAINST CLERGYMAN

In our last issue we published a brief report of a libel action brought by the Pilgrim sect against an English clergyman for alleged libel in which plaintiffs were awarded £50 damages.  In opening the case on behalf of plaintiffs, Mr. C. Salter, K.C., gave an interesting outline of their beliefs and practices.

He said the plaintiffs were Joseph Burfitt, who was a substantial farmer and well known man whose farm was known as Goodedge farm, in the parish of Bruham, about two miles from Bruton, Somerset; Mr. Frederick Carter, a carpenter in the same parish; Mr. Escott Alfred Henry Burfitt and Miss Rosalie Ellen Mary Burfitt, the son and daughter of Mr. Burfitt, senior. 

The plaintiffs complained of a libel published about them by the defendants, who were the Rev. Douglas Llewellyn Hayward, vicar of Bruton in Somerset, and Mr. Richard Mainstone, a hairdresser carrying on business in Bruton.  The libel was published by the two defendants not in the sense that they wrote it, but gave it publicity. 

The matter arose in this way.  Some six or seven years ago there came to the village of Bruham an evangelist preacher named William John Gill who belonged to a sect or religious society, known popularly as the “Go-preachers”.  They were an evangelical society who considered that they were under an obligation in the words of the New Testament to go and preach the word, and apparently in that way they had acquired their popular title of “Go-preacher.”   They were a Protestant evangelistic body. 

Their tenets appeared to be based on a literal interpretation of the New Testament; their services and messages were of the simplest possible kind.  They had no clergy, no ministers.  Any persons of their body who pleased could take part in their religious services, but although they were called “Go-preachers,” they were not all actual preachers.  Only certain of them preach, and those of them who preached journeyed about the country preaching in twos, either two men, two women, or sometimes a married couple.  They went entirely without money, and they lived on such sums as they had given to them and they preached what they conceived to be the true Gospel.  They were an ordinary small Protestant sect, very like any other sect in their doctrine, and not altogether unlike the Society of Friends in the extreme simplicity of their observances and practices. 

One of the Go-preachers, Mr. Gill, arrived at Bruham and preached there, holding little meetings in a room in the village inn.  He apparently preached there with some success, because since his visit a considerable number, remembering the small place, joined that community.  Amongst those who were attracted by the preaching of Mr. Gill was Mrs. Burfitt, the wife of the senior plaintiff in this case, a responsible farmer’s wife.  They had 11 children.  Mrs Burfitt and some of the sons and daughters were deeply attracted from the first by that Church, and early she joined the community.  Mr. Burfitt did not do so for some time.  He was a reluctant convert.  He had been a very staunch member of the Church of England, and had been for a good many years vicar’s churchwarden of the parish, and his father had been before him.  It was only after great searching of heart and some lapse of time that he thought it his duty to leave the Church of England, and join with his wife and family in the small community. 

Another one who joined was the second plaintiff, Mr. Carter, a carpenter of the village, who was very active in the body, and set apart one of the rooms in his house as a meeting room, and once every week for the last six or seven years, and twice on Sundays they had held their religious services in Mr. Carter’s room. 

Mr. Burfitt’s son, who had a dairy farm, became with Mr. Burfitt’s daughter, preachers and traveled about the country, the lady in association with another lady and the son with another man convert. That became very well known, and that sort of preaching would incite considerable interest in a country place, and it was extremely well known, not only in Bruham, but in Bruton, locally known as Joey Burfitt, and others of his household had joined the Go-preachers. 

There were those who naturally viewed it without much pleasure.  For example, the vicar of Bruham naturally regretted the defection of a family from his congregation, and Mr. Burfitt was on less cordial terms than before with the vicar of the parish.  It was also known to the principal defendant in this case, Mr. Hayward, who was the vicar of Bruton, and also rural dean of the district in which Bruton is situate.  Counsel thought it would appear that Mr. Hayward also regretted, and regretted on a public occasion, the falling off of the Church membership at Bruham, which resulted in the success of the little sect. 

There was a very bitter enemy of the sect, a man named Wilson, who lived in Suffolk, and who at one time was rather in sympathy with the community; but several of his children, Counsel thought six of them, against his will, joined the community, and since then Mr. Wilson had been a bitter opponent and bitter persecutor of the community, following them with abuse and slander wherever their preachers had gone.  His attacks upon them had increased in virulence and gravity.  It began with charging them, first of all, with moral laxity, and then with actual Mormonism, and latterly he had gone even beyond that. 

In connection with the agitation about what had been called the white slave traffic, he had gone so far as to impute against those unfortunate people that under the cloak of religion they desired to abduct young people and send them abroad.  Some years ago Wilson was sued by a member of the community in the Irish Courts, and he was forced to publish in the papers a public apology for the slanders which he had disseminated.  The society hoped that they might be left in peace, but they were not, and he did not relax his persecution, and apparently wherever the preachers went he tried to stir up feeling against them. 

The practice of the little Church was to hold at intervals what they called conventions for the deepening of spiritual life.  These were in fact religious assemblies at which those members of the community, who could afford it came to a given spot for a space of a week or ten days and held religious services together, and tried to get the people in the neighbourhood to join them. 

One of those conventions was held at Mr. Burfitt’s farm in 1909.  In 1912 they held another convention at the farm.  They held them twice a year.  The convention was from the 14th to the 24th of June, the period of ten days covering two week ends.  Some 200 or 300 working people came there.  Carter put up 15 of them, others were put up in the village by others, and considerable number, over 100 were put up by Mr. Burfitt in his farm house and farm buildings.  The extremest care was taken to see that all the arrangements were proper and decent and right in every respect. 

The convention began and successful meetings were held on the weeks days and the first Sunday, June 16th, and on the 17th and 18th.  The members of the community heard on the 20th of June that a leaflet of the most serious kind had been exhibited, and was being exhibited in a very public place in the town of Bruton, a mile or two away.  It was being exhibited on a notice board outside the barber’s shop in a frequented street.  Counsel would say in a moment how it came to be there, and he would read that document, which had been put up, which had been admitted by the barber, upon the instructions of Mr. Hayward, the vicar of Bruton.  The document read –

“A grave warning, signed by overseers in 20 parishes and all the overseers in Ipswich.  We being the overseers of the poor in various parishes in Suffolk, England, feel it our duty to warn every man, woman and child against countenancing, or in any way encouraging those men and women who come amongst us and call themselves by various names, such as “Go-preachers,” “No Sect,” “No Church,” &c.  and endeavour to entice away our children especially our young girls under the cloak of religion.  Many girls have been induced to leave their homes to their great distress and sorrow.  We have seen letters from some of these girls which describe their painful experience amongst these people abroad. There can be no doubt that the religious ferovur (sic) and apparent zeal displayed by the people here may be treacherous baits to catch the unwary for an improper purpose.  No words of ours are sufficiently strong to describe this horrible work and in the interest of all we strongly and earnestly warn parents and children to avoid these so-called preachers as they would the most deadly plague.” 

It was this document that had been stuck up in the most public place in Bruton by the orders of Mr. Hayward.  He had published this vile slander upon a body of harmless people who carried on their religious services close by.  Counsel then dealt with other documents which Mr. Hayward had received from Mr. Wilson.  One of these referred to the white slave traffic and to Mormon propaganda.  Any educated man, Counsel said, who had read this farrago of unconsequential stuff would have considered that he had better be careful how he dealt with it.

Mr. Foote said the only thing Mr. Hayward did wrong about these letters was to disclose that he had received them.

Mr. Salter replied that he had read them only in his desire to deal fairly in the matter.  Before publishing them he thought Mr. Hayward should have made some inquiry about them.  If it had been done, he would have found that Wilson had been prosecuted for issuing them, and had been compelled publicly to apologise for the slander. 

What Mr. Hayward appeared to have done was go to the most conspicuous place in Bruton and exhibit this document on the notice board.  He also sent a copy of one of the leaflets to Captain Elgar who was the leading resident to Bruham and a magistrate there.  When plaintiff heard of what had been done, he went to Mr. Mainstone and the Rev D. L. Hayward and tried to induce them to have the document taken away.  Mr. Maidstone was anything by apologetic, and though Mr. Hayward was shown a copy of the paper, containing Mr. Wilson’s public apology, it did not induce him to occupy a yielding attitude.  On the contrary he refused to express regret or to take the notice down, and said he was not liable, the only person liable being Mr. Wilson. 

The result was that the libel remained on view so a solicitor was consulted, and a letter was sent to Mr. Hayward.  Having dealt with the correspondence Mr. Salter said those were the facts of the case.  Nobody contended now that this scandalous document had a word of truth in it.  No one would contend that there was any doctrine or practice associated with the sect which a goodly ordinary Protestant sect might not profess.  Two points had been taken by the defendants.  They said it was not a libel upon the plaintiffs and, further, that it was privileged.  He proceeded to deal with the law of libel and quoted a recent decision of the Lord Chancellor.

The Judge pointed out that no name was mentioned in this libel.

Mr. Salter said perhaps the case he had quoted was not upon all fours with the present one – it would be difficult to find one that was – but it contained a general statement as to the law of libel.  Here was a document published which said the Go-preachers were persons who carried on abominable misconduct, and at the time this was done the Go-preachers were holding meetings in the neighbourhood.  It was recognized as an attack on Joey Burfitt. 

With regard to the plea of privileges, there was no privilege about what had been done.  If the jury found that a libel had been published he asked for a verdict for the plaintiffs that would mark the sense of the jury upon the reckless injustice with which thousands of people had been treated.

The case, after evidence, resulted as stated.



July 31, 1913, p. 8
THE IMPARTIAL REPORTER
Established 1808
Newspaper for Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
_____________
GO-PREACHERS’ CONVENTION
SOME STRANGE SENTIMENTS
NEW VEIW OF DEVIL’S WORK.
FORGOT TO PASS ON THE ‘IMPARTIAL REPORTER.’

The Convention of Go-Preachers or Pilgrims at Crocknacrieve came to an end on Sunday after four weeks’ duration.  The numbers which attended during the day exceeded over 1,000.

The morning meeting was a ‘testimony’ meeting.  Mr. Wm. Irvine spoke at intervals.  He said that God could have no interest in a man that was indulging his selfishness, either in a saloon or in a ‘synagogue.’  The world was filled with hatred and pride.  ‘People were saying they would fight for their religion.  Whether they were Protestants or Roman Catholics that only proved they were human.  The devil’s work was to teach men how to be religious and how to get to Heaven—but not the way Jesus did.  But there would come a time when there would be no spires seen on this world, when Jesus came back to reign.  And the work of making men like Jesus would continue in every part of the universe.

Mr. E. Cooney spoke at the mid-day meeting, and in his address dealt with what appears to be the foundation of the Go-Preachers’ theology.  The world, he said, was full of idols—or things that occupy the attention of the heart of man.  Man was created so as to become a child of God, and grow up to be like God.  The devil was the adversary of the human race, and was very busy to keep man occupied with something else.  Perhaps there were some there who knew not the day of their visitation and so their house would be left unto them desolate.  They might leave the meeting in a condition in which God could not save them.

The closing scene at the meeting in the gloaming was impressive.  All the arrangements had been made for the departure of the ‘preachers’ to different parts of the world, and it only remained for the Go-Preachers’ founder to give to all the last words of counsel and farewell.  Mr. Irvine dealt mainly with the duty of those in fellowship towards one another and towards the outside world.  There was more heart for one another there, he said, than they would get in any community in all the world.  And what people had heard there during the Convention would either torment them in hell or make them glad in heaven, for the word would not return void.  They could do much to soften the hearts of the people with a little kindness.  Many of them got an IMPARTIAL REPORTER, and they never thought of passing it on to the fellow who had none.  They could do many little things among their friends and relatives.  The best use they could make of anything was to express a little love.


THE IRISH INDEPENDENT 
December 12, 1913, page 7

ALLEGED FREAK SECT
STRANGE STATEMENTS,
DAMAGES AGAINST NEWSPAPER.

An extraordinary story was told in the King's Bench Division, London, yesterday, when judgement was entered by consent for £100 and costs in favour of Ernest Walter List, of Debenham, near Stowmarket, and Edward Cooney, formerly of Enniskillen, against the "People," Ltd., for libel.

The allegation was that plaintiffs carried on the White Slave traffic under the guise of a religious movement. They were both members of a community known as the "Go" preachers, who took this name from Scripture, in which the Apostles were exhorted to go forth and preach to all the world. Mr. Cooney was one of its pioneers or founders, and the libel, which appeared in the "People" on July 14th, 1912, was headed "The Cooneyites." Mr. List complained that he was described as a "Bishop."

The article was also headed, “Charges Against the Tramp Preachers," and described their singular doing in Suffolk, referring to them as "Missioners of the tattered coat and empty pocket." It alleged that they proclaimed marriage, to be an institution which was to continue no longer. Many young women of mystical temperament lent, it was said, a ready ear to their weird teaching and wandering around the country.

DRIVEN OUT.

The preachers were driven from Sudbury by an "enraged army of 3,000 men and women" who objected to the preaching of what they called "free love." It. was also suggested that young women had been induced to go abroad for improper purposes.

The sect, the article said, were literally the last word in freak religions, filling their converts with the wildest and maddest fits of hysteria, accompanied by strange hymns, rolling on the ground, shrieks and groans. Two daughters of a Mr. Wilson having gone with the preachers, Mr. Wilson spent time and money in the attempt to drive them out of Suffolk. He swore a declaration that one of the statements of the preacher was that marriage was hammered out by the devil on an anvil in hell. Mr. Wilson also placarded the country with posters attacking the preachers as carrying on White Slave traffic, etc.

Mr. Eames, who appeared for plaintiffs said it was one of the tenets of this religion, which was founded on the New Testament, that they should not enter upon a lawsuit, but they had been persuaded to do so. The plaintiffs had recovered £50 damages and costs at the Bristol Assizes over a pamphlet which was hung outside a shop.

IRISH INQUIRIES.

One of the bills had been picked up in Parliament, and a question was put to Mr. Birrell, who stated that the police in Ireland had made inquiries, and said there was no truth in the matter. An action bought by Mr. Wilson was settled in Chambers, Mr. Wilson paying cost and apologising. A third action had been settled by a public apology in Ireland by Mr. Wilson and payment of damages.

Mr. List in his evidence denied the truth or the allegations in the article. He had got no ecclesiastical title. He had to oversee a dozen members, but nothing more, and all charges of impropriety were untrue. Mr. Cooney gave a similar denial, and said he was not the founder of the sect.



December 18, 1913, p. 3
THE IMPARTIAL REPORTER
Established 1808
Newspaper for Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
_____________
‘GO-PREACHERS’ AWARDED DAMAGES
MR. EDDY COONEY WINS.
ARTICLE IN A LONDON PAPER.
ALL THE CHARGES ARE WITHDRAWN.
APOLOGY AND AGREEMENT TO PAY £150 DAMAGES AND COSTS.

In the King’s Bench Division, London, on Thursday, before Mr. Justice Darling, a number of extraordinary statements were made in the course of the settlement in an action brought by Earnest Walter List, of Debenham, near Stowmarket, and Edward Cooney, formerly of Enniskillen, Ireland, against The People, Ltd., for alleged libel.

Mr. Eames for the plaintiffs, said the action was brought for libel, and the charge made against the plaintiffs was a very serious one.  It charged them with carrying on White Slave traffic under the guise of a religious movement.  They were both members of a community known as the ‘Go-preachers,’ who took this name from Scripture, in which the apostles were exhorted to go forth and preach to all the world.  Mr. Cooney was one of the pioneers or founders of the community, and the libel was headed ‘The Cooneyites.'  Mr. List complained that he was described as a ‘Bishop’ in the sect.

His Lordship—Does he complain that he is described as a Bishop?  You do not expect any ruling from me that the word ‘bishop’ is libellous, I hope.

Mr. Eames—Yes, he considered that in a sect carrying on practices as was alleged by the defendants, to say that he was a bishop was an even more serious reflection on him.  Continuing, counsel said the libel complained of appeared in an article which was published in The People, on the 14th July, 1912, and was as follows:-

‘The Cooneyites—Charges against the Tramp Preachers.  By Our Special Commissioner.  Rural Suffolk is in a ferment, caused by the singular doings of the tramp preachers who have established themselves in this country.  Also known as ‘The Cooneyites’ and the ‘Go Sect,’ these missioners of the tattered coat and empty pocket have succeeded in creating such a hubbub in Suffolk, that the wildest stories are afloat.  Disclaiming denomination, pouring contempt upon all organised forms of Christian worship, and proclaiming that marriage as an institution is to continue no longer, the ‘Tramp Preachers’ have now fixed their headquarters at Debenham, near Stowmarket.

Already they have laid hands upon one of the most prominent tradesmen of the town of Debenham, and have created Mr. List the carrier Bishop of Suffolk, whilst another (an agricultural labourer) had been elevated to the dignity of Archbishop of Norfolk.  Although their preaching contains the wildest statements, converts have not been lacking.  Many have been young women of that mystical temperament that lends a ready ear to weird teachings, and these have been induced to leave comfortable homes and throw in their lot with the tramp preachers.  For a time they had meetings at Sudbury, Suffolk, until they were driven from that quaint market town by an enraged army of 3,000 men and women, who alleged the preachers were preaching an evil system.

Then other places were tried with little better results, though the Cooneyites—so called from their leader, Edward Cooney—would be compelled to live up to their self-assumed title of the tramp preachers.  Nor can this be wondered at, because the sect are surely like nothing else under the heavens.  Literally the last word in freak religion, filling their converts with the wildest, maddest fits of hysteria.  Indeed so great has been the excitement that nearly 40 overseers of the neighbouring parishes have thought it advisable to issue a signed statement warning the country people against ‘the tramp preachers,’ while a number of ministers of various denominations have also signed a similar caution.  ‘Midnight meetings,’ mysterious midnight meetings, have been held in a large portable tent, to which all but the faithful are denied.  After singing strange hymns, the brethren and sisters abandon themselves to a species of religious hysteria.  Strong cries of ecstacy are succeeded by fits of what appears to the impartial to be madness, while the Cooneyites roll on the ground with dismal shrieks and groans.

The article went on to say that the chief enemy of the ‘tramp preachers’ was Mr. W. D. Wilson, of the Rookery Farm, Cretingham, a pretty village near Framlingham, and that two of his daughters had left with two Cooneyite preachers named Martha and Mary.  In consequence, he had conceived a violent antipathy to the sect, and had spent much money and energy in endeavouring to drive them out of Suffolk.

The article then proceeded:—

‘Among the female preachers was one, a pretty girl with a sweet voice.  Under a species of hypnotic influence she falls into a sort of trance, and it is gravely announced that she speaks by the spirits.

Mr. Wilson was said to have sworn a declaration asserting that one of the statements of the Cooneyite preacher was that marriage was hammered out by the devil on an anvil in hell.’

Mr. Eames said the whole of the article was absolutely untrue.  Mr. Wilson in Suffolk published the most foul libels on those people and everybody connected with them, the reason being that some of his children had joined the sect.  He had plastered the countryside with posters.

Mr. Eames said Mr. Cooney, along with others, was charged with carrying on a ‘white slave’ traffic.  It appears that this man Wilson was suffering from a form of insanity.

His Lordship—That is exactly what he states about Mr. Cooney.  (Laughter.)

Mr. Justice Darling—Is it all true about the rolling on the ground?

Mr. Eames said the whole of the article was absolutely untrue.  Mr. Wilson in Suffolk published the most awful libels on these people.  One of his posters was headed ‘White and Oriental Slaves.’ Counsel read the publication.  Cooney was charged, with others, in the poster with carrying on this white slave traffic.  Mr. Wilson had not dared to justify the charge.

Counsel said he had had difficulty in persuading the plaintiffs to go to law.  Their tenets were founded on the literal interpretation of the New Testament, and they thought it prevented them taking action in a court of law.  ‘But,’ added counsel, ‘I was able to quote a text of Scripture to them to the effect that there were times when it was their duty to do so.’

Mr. Justice Darling—Apparently they had never read that text.  (Laughter.)

Mr. Eames—I think they had, but they had not quite the same interpretation upon it that I did.  (Laughter.)

Mr. Eames said it was one of the tenets of this religion, which was founded on the New Testament, that they should not enter upon a law suit, but they had been persuaded to do so.  The plaintiffs had recovered £50 damages and costs at the Bristol Assizes for a placard hung outside a shop in Somersetshire. 

When the present case was first started the defendants had set up a plea of justification, but after making inquiries in America and elsewhere they had intimated that this plea would not be proceeded with, and said they had been completely misled by Mr. Wilson, and, therefore, they hoped there would be a settlement.  The terms had been arranged and it had been agreed that the defendants should pay damages of £100 and the plaintiff’s cost. 

Counsel added that an action was brought against Mr. Wilson, and that was settled in chambers, Mr. Wilson paying damages and cost, and giving an apology.
  One of the Bills had been picked up in the House of Commons, and a question was put to Mr. Birrell, who stated that the police in Ireland had made inquiries, and that there was no truth in the matter. 

A third action had been commenced in Ireland against Mr. Wilson, and that had been settled by a public apology in Ireland, and by payment of damages, and as a result of this third action these charges had been disproved.

TERMS OF SETTLEMENT.

Here counsel stated the terms of settlement arranged between The People and the plaintiffs.  He added that the plaintiffs wished to deny on oath that there was any truth in the charges.  Some of the posters published by Mr. Wilson were grossly indecent.

Mr. Justice Darling—Was it ever pleaded that this was a matter of fair comment and of public interest?

Mr. Eames said that in November 1911 an action brought against Mr. Wilson and the proprietors of the Ipswich Independent was settled in chambers, Mr. Wilson paying damages and costs, and an apology was advertised in The Daily Mail of most ample kind.

Mr. Justice Darling—Has Mr. Wilson published some of the placards since that time?

Mr. Eames—Only this year one of these red bills was picked up in the House of Commons, when a question was put to Mr. Birrell, who said there was no truth in the charges.  Mr. Wilson had settled a third action brought against him by an apology and the payment of damages.  As a result of these three actions it might safely be said that the charges had been thoroughly disproved.

Mr. Earnest Walter List, one of the plaintiffs, a contractor and job master of Debenham, gave evidence that there was not a word of truth in the libel.  Witness said he had not been created a Bishop of Suffolk, or been given any other ecclesiastical title.  A dozen members met in his house and he had to oversee them, but nothing more.  All the charges of immorality were untrue.  There was not a word of truth in the libel as regarded immorality.  He was never called ‘bishop.’

Is there somebody else who is known as the Archbishop of Norfolk?  (Laughter.)  I never heard of it until I read of it in the People.  Mr. Edward Cooney also gave evidence that the statement complained of was untrue.

Mr. Justice Darling—Were you the founder of this sect?—No, William Irvine was the first, about sixteen years ago.  I cast in my lot with him as a fellow-preacher, and preached a good deal in the north of Ireland.  I recognise the name, but others have nicknamed us ‘The Cooneyites.’  I do not like it myself.

Mr. Spence for the defendants, said his client received information from Mr. Wilson about the community, but before publishing anything they sent a representative to see him, and thought he was a responsible parson and having regard to the statement that there had been a document signed by twenty ministers and other public men, they came to the conclusion that the facts communicated by Mr. Wilson were true, and that the matter was one of public importance as well as of journalistic interest, in which they thought it their duty to publish a warning against this particular sect. 

When the letter was received from the plaintiff’s solicitors, they made inquiries in America, and received information that certain girls were said to have been taken to America for certain purposes.  That was what caused the defendants to say they would justify.  They made further inquiries however, and found that this information was not reliable, and upon the only defence put forward was a denial that the words complained of referred to either of the plaintiffs, or charged either of them with immoral conduct.  The People were satisfied that, after full investigation, these charges of immorality had no foundation at all, and they had been misled.  With regard to their comments on this sect as a religious body, he had nothing to say, because they were comments and not a statement of fact, and he had nothing to withdraw but he was there to withdraw the charges of immorality, and did unreservedly withdraw them, and expressed regret that they should have been made.

His Lordship assented to the course suggested.  He said the defendants were satisfied that with regard to Mr. List and Mr. Cooney there were no grounds for the charges that they led a movement which led, designed or otherwise, to the kind of immorality suggested, and that having been satisfied that Mr. List’s and Mr. Cooney’s characters were perfectly clear they consented to judgment in the action in accordance with the terms stated. 

Judgment was entered according by consent for the plaintiffs for £100 and costs.


December 23, 1913
The Freeman’s Journal

“The Cooneyites”
Libel Action Settled.

In the Nisi Prius Court yesterday, the case of Cooney against Wilson and another stood in the list for trial before Mr. Justice Kenny and a ___ special jury.

The action was one which attracted a considerable amount of public interest, being concerned with a peculiar religious sect of Evangelical preachers. The plaintiff was Edward Cooney, of Irvinestown, Fermanagh, who had given his name to the sect referred to, and the defendant was Wm. D. Wilson, farmer of Cretingham, Suffolk and William Henderson, bill poster, Enniskillen.

When the case was called, Mr. D. M. Wilson, K.C. with whom were Mr. Denis S. Henry, K.C. and Mr. W.E. Wylie instructed by Messrs. Clarke and Gordon for the plaintiff, said the case? had been settled.

Mr. Justice Kenny – What is the action for?

Mr. Wilson, K.C. -- The action was to recover damages for libel and the defendants are Mr. Wilson and Mr. Henderson and there were a series of libels on Mr. Cooney in connection with a Protestant Evangelical sect who were called Cooneyites.

Preach the Gospel Themselves

These were a sect of Evangelical Christians who believed in not having any paid ministers—but who preached the Gospel themselves and go in for having nothing of the world’s goods, but go preaching, as they thought according to the example of the Apostles relying on their own handiwork and the assistance they get from the community.

There was a series of libels and it was the object of the plaintiff to put an end to them, and it was necessary to take action in order to put an end to defamation. Mr. Wilson was an extensive farmer in Suffolk, in England and Mr. Henderson a bill poster in Enniskillen and the libels were published in the County of Fermanagh where Mr. Cooney resides and which naturally inflicted pain on him.

The defendant had now agreed to withdraw the plea of justification and to admit there was no foundation for the statements and to undertake not to repeat them. It was also agreed that all proceedings in the action should be stayed and to pay the plaintiff’s taxed costs. They had a memorandum drawn up embodying this understanding.

The Reasons

Mr. Justice Kenny—What were the defences?
Mr. Wilson—Justification and non-publication.

Mr. Justice Kenny—Have you agreed Mr. Powell?
Mr. Powell K.C. (who with Mr. W.U. Gibson, K.C. and Mr. Hubert Hamilton, instructed by Messrs. Hamilton and Craig, appeared for Mr. Wilson)—Yes, we agree.

Mr. Justice Kenny—Who appears for Henderson?
Mr. Powell, K.C.-- He never appeared, and nothing was done as to getting interlocutory judgment. He was merely a billposter. I do not think it necessary to say anything.

The Settlement

Mr. Justice Kenny said he would accept the memorandum signed by counsel, and it would be ordered that all further proceedings in the action be stayed save as to the taxation of costs and the necessary enforcement as to the payment of same.

Mr. Powell, K.C. said he did not wish the order to be regulated as a judgment against his client, as it might injure him in England. There would be an undertaking to pay the plaintiff’s taxed costs within two months.

This understanding was accepted, and the parties left the Court.

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Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the Truth?
Galatians 4:16

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Preserving the Truth
The Church without a Name
and its Founder, William Irvine



William Irvine
1863-1947


Founder of the
Church with No Name
aka 2x2 Church,
Friends & Workers Fellowship,
Cooneyites and "the truth"