Scandalous scene in a churchyard. Vicar and sexton fight by an open grave

On Saturday the Bullingdon Division Bench of Magistrates had before them a charge of assault against the Rev. George Moore, vicar of Cowley, near Oxford, the complainant being a young man named Matthias Lee, son of the sexton of the parish. Lee was also summoned for assaulting the vicar.

Lee, it appears, was filling in a grave, and was taken to task by the vicar for putting in stones. From words the two men came to blows. After telling Lee that if he did not go he would put him out, the vicar, according to the complainant, struck him on the forehead, knocking his hat off, and followed that up by two blows behind the ear, one of which knocked him down.

Lee told the vicar that he wanted no more than that, and that he should act in self defence. Thereupon Mr Moore said he would give him a beastly thrashing, and made a rush at him.

They had a scuffle, and both fell, the vicar being underneath. They fought three rounds, after which the vicar was alleged to have picked up a shovel with which he aimed a blow at Lee, whose finger was cut in warding off the implement.

Lee picked up a spade in self defence and poked the vicar in the ribs with it, and eventually he got away, leaving the grave not filled up.

In cross-examination, Lee said that te butler stood by while they fought the three rounds. After he had knocked the vicar down once, the butler stood between them to give his master time. In the third round, the vicar struck him in the mouth, and after the skirmish he said “have you done?” Mr Moore replied that he had had enough.

Eventually the Bench decided to dismiss both summaries.

The Evening Telegraph, Dundee, August 20, 1888.

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