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An accusation, 1868


In 1868, the Pastor of the Baptist Church was the Rev Henry Hardin. Born 24 Mar 1838 in Woolwich, the son of a builder, he was originally destined to be a doctor. He attended the Baptist College, Regents Park College (now re-located to Oxford) with the famous preacher C H Spurgeon, from 1858, and was called to the pastorate of the Baptist Church in Towcester in 1861, where he commenced his ministry on 20th October. He was married to Jane Grey 6 Feb 1862 by Spurgeon.


While he kept a diary, the major incident in his career in Towcester does not appear in the extracts we have from it. Other items can be found here.


Henry Hardin later moved to the Somerset village of Montacute, where he fulfilled a dual role of doctor and pastor, and was beloved by many. He spent the rest of his life ministering there. His daughter Helen later wrote a book about him, The Life Beautiful


The following is copied from the Towcester Church Book

1868  Church Meeting 16 Feb

          The Pastor stated that certain charges had been brought to him against Eliza Dunkley; that while engaged in investigating them, she had retorted with a charge against him; that he therefore desired these charges to be investigated, but they were too indecent to mention in Church Meeting. Mr Ancell proposed that it be referred to the Deacons and Brethren Ancell and Powell to investigate. The investigation to be in the same form as a court of Law.


1868  Special Church Meeting 24 Feb

          The report to the Church Meeting of the meeting last Monday past in the Pastor's house.

          That Mr Tite suggested Mr Hardin retire, but the majority decided he remain. That thereupon Mr Tite refused to proceed with investigation and left. That the remaining brethren Pilgrim, Ancell and Powell decided they were bound to proceed. That on Mr Hardin's application Henry Dunkley was allowed to remain to see that everything was fair, and to cross-examine on Eliza Dunkley's behalf, he himself stating that he had no evidence to give as he only knew what had been told him. Mr Hardin brought 6 charges against Eliza Dunkley, and she admitted them all except one.


          In the opinion of the investigators all charges are proved.


          Eliza Dunkley had a most patient hearing. She stated the first time Mr Hardin insulted her was on Little Fair Night - October 30th- and the second time was on the day after his child was born - October 2 - or 27 days before. After a most careful investigation extending over five hours they were convinced she was not speaking the truth.


          Tonight (24th) a person had made and signed a statement to the effect that Eliza Dunkley had told him Mr Hardin was going to call a Church Meeting about her and that if he did she would say she insulted her. That he said "But that isn't true, is it?" and she replied "No, he knows no more about me than you do, but I'll say it about him, if he says anything about me."


          The charges against Mr Hardin are most satisfactorily disproved.


          This church is exceedingly grieved but is compelled for the sake of the honour of Christ and of his church to express its opinion that Eliza Dunkley has been guilty of gross indecency and resolves that she be forthwith expelled as being unfit for the communion of the church.


          Henry Dunkley enquired how long she was set aside for, and being informed she was finally expelled, said "Then you may serve me the same, please." and left the meeting.


          The Pastor then stated he had a charge against Joseph Dunkley for using profane language and being guilty of riotous conduct before his house on Monday evening past. It was decided that Joseph Dunkley should be informed of the charge against him, before it be proceeded with.

          It was proposed by Brother Pilgrim, seconded by Brother Ancell that it be publicised that Mr Hardin was not guilty.


1868  Church Meeting 26 Nov

          It was reported that Joseph Dunkley and Henry Dunkley have been guilty of conspiring with Eliza Dunkley and others to defame the Pastor's character with a view to protect the said Eliza Dunkley from the consequences of her sins of which she has been guilty.


          The aforesaid Joseph Dunkley has been guilty of immoral conduct, and Joseph Dunkley and Henry Dunkley have brought a reproach upon the name of Christ.


          The persons aforesaid have been guilty of insulting the church and refuse to hear the church and are determined to persevere in their wicked and malicious courses. This church, acting in the name and the spirit of Jesus Christ and from a desire for His glory, hereby solemnly adjudges the aforesaid Joseph Dunkley and Henry Dunkley to be unworthy of fellowship and expels them from its communion. The church expresses its very great grief at being compelled to withdraw itself and prays most earnestly for God to extend forgiveness and bring them to repentance.