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Author Topic: Church Scandal - Canons, Bishops, Vicars and Women (1908-19 Medway, Rev. Martin)  (Read 776 times)

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Offline Leofwine

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A more detailed account of the trial:

London Evening Standard - Wednesday 14 July 1909 (p. 9)

Divorce Division.
“LADY’S HALLUCINATION”

REMARKABLE CONFESSIONS IN A CLERICAL SUIT.
The Rev. Canon Edward Lionel Gedge, the rector of Gravesend, who is blind, was the unsuccessful petitioner, before Sir J. Bigham, for divorce on the ground of the alleged misconduct of his wife, Mrs. Beatrice Frances Josephine Gedge, with the co-respondent, the Rev. Herbert John Martin. Both denied the charges. Mrs. Gedge said that the misconduct, if any, had been condoned by her husband, and that he had been guilty of cruelty, which was denied.
Mr. Priestley, K.C., and Mr. Willis were counsel for the husband; Mr. J. Harvey Murphy for the wife; and Mr. Low, K.C., and Mr. Pitman for the co-respondent.
Mr. Priestley, opening the case for the husband, said that Mr. Gedge married his wife on December 31, 1884, and there were three children, the eldest being 23 years of age and the youngest 10. For many yean the petitioner had been absolutely blind, and he had considerable cause to complain of his wife’s conduct, in particular her extravagance, which had cost him thousands of pounds, including handsome gifts from his parishioners in paying her debts. In the spring of last year she was neglecting her home duties very much. She had a season ticket between Gravesend and London, and the petitioner had reason to doubt her fidelity him. When he spoke to her she confessed that his suspicion was true, but the offence was looked over by the petitioner, although not condoned. Later, on September 13, 1908, she was in bed during the afternoon, and requested her husband to sit by her side.
THE CONFESSION.
She asked him not to make a "fuss," as she had something very important to tell him—that she had committed adultery with the co-respondent, Mr. Martin, the vicar of Holy Trinity, Old Brompton, Chatham. Mrs. Gedge said that she had met Mr. Martin on July 29 at a cricket match; that they got talking together, and that he paid her great attention. The result was that the co-respondent wrote to her making an appointment meet him at the railway station as he was passing through to London on Aug. 1. They met and proceeded to London together, where they visited her solicitors, he remaining outside. Afterwards she took him to her ladies’ club in Dover-street; he made great love to her, and proposed that they should stay together for the week-end at the Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria. They went and ordered rooms in advance for August 8, the lady assuming the name of "Mrs. Jones, 43, New Cross-road,” the co-respondent passing in his own name. During the visit of August 1, the co-respondent brought the lady a gold pencil case, and on August 6 she visited Mr. Martin his own house in Old Brompton, and took tea. On August 8 they went to the Grosvenor Hotel, the rooms being on separate floors. They went up in the lift, but, instead of getting out at the fourth floor, where his room was, the co-respondent went up to the lady’s room, where misconduct took place, so the lady told her husband this interview. Afterwards they dined at a restaurant near Victoria Station, visiting it subsequently on several dates. On the Sunday of this visit the same sort of thing happened, and the co-respondent asked her to meet him the following Saturday at some rooms Mrs. Gedge had taken in Grosvenor Mansions, Victoria-street. On August 11, however, the lady received an invitation to pay a visit Ireland, and she sent the corespondent a postcard giving her address, and received a reply on August 13. Some of the letters which passed had been copied and photographed, and in them the co-respondent wished terminate what had been going on. She was vexed (so she said), and on Sunday, August 16, she went to Old Brompton to reproach the co-respondent with attempting to give her up. Mr. Martin asked her to communicate only very rarely, and when she did so to write in shorthand, which apparently both understood. She wrote a bitter letter, she told her husband, to the co-respondent, and had also written the Bishop, telling him the whole story of the meeting in London with the co-respondent, and denouncing him. On August 18 she wrote certain postcards relating to this matter, which, said counsel, were undoubtedly of a libellous character. The Bishop then insisted upon a retractation of the statements which she had made about Mr. Martin, with the alternative of proceedings under the Church Discipline Act or a prosecution. Subsequently, at the solicitor’s office, her husband begged his wife to withdraw what she had said, but she refused, saying that it was absolutely true. Mrs. Gedge was threatened with proceedings for criminal libel at the instance of the co-respondent, and her husband thought it his duty to protect her so far as he could, and connived at her going away to avoid the prosecution, telling her if there was a scandal he would have to take divorce proceedings for the sake of himself and the children, however much he regretted it. In the early part of November Mrs. Gedgo gave herself up to the police, and there was  a letter of November 14—one of many—which clearly showed that the lady had misconducted herself. The letter read:—
PATHETIC LETTER.
My dear husband,—I earnestly ask you to put aside your distrust of me and believe I am absolutely sincere in this letter. To cast me out into the world now is more than to kill me right out. I can only say I have no excuse, and as God’s minister have mercy upon the woman who has borne you children, and who so tenderly nursed you when you lost your sight, and whose only fault was extravagance until a few months ago, when, rendered reckless by your alienation and utter loneliness, I went astray. I ask you once more to forgive and excuse me, because I was mad in my mind by my misery and humiliation.
The letter concluded, said Mr. Priestley, with a request that her husband should not divorce her or separate from her. Mrs. Gedge was put on trial November 17 before Mr. Justice Riley, who, however, postponed the matter, as he thought it better if possible that the Bishop should investigate the affair as between these two clergymen. On December 17 the petitioner determined after all that had happened that he would take proceedings in this court, and on December 23 a petition was filed. On January 14, 1909, the wife sent to a newspaper the following retractation:—
I, the undersigned, Beatrice Frances Josephine Gedge, of The Rectory, Gravesend, do hereby publicly apologise to the Rev. Herbert John Martin, vicar of Holy Trinity, Old Brompton, for the libellous statements I made and published concerning him in September last; and I hereby declare that the charges against him contained in such statements were false. —€”Dated January 13, 1909.
Afterwards Mrs. Gedge wrote another letter to her husband:—
It would be waste of time for a deed to be preparod until have agreed upon the conditions. You, perhaps, think that I desire to discuss divorce proceedings. You are mistaken. I have retracted because I could not bring myself to ruin Mr. Martin’s wife and children. Had I desired to save myself from divorce I should not have held out for four months. I went to his church on Sunday. There were only 30 people, and there used to be 300, and be depends upon pew rents for his daily bread. Let the world despise me, but I will not open my lips in a divorce against Mr. Martin. I am not here to discuss divorce matters, but practical matters.
At one time, went on Mr. Priestley, both husband and wife lived in the same house, although there was no cohabitation. Mrs. Gedge, in fact, had separate estate of about £200 a year.
His lordship.—Did she write letters in one room and send them to another room?
Mr. Priestley said he was informed that the petitioner for a while left his home. In another letter the lady said:—
I wish to God I had retracted last December, and saved you and the children all this pain and publicity. I could not see that it was my duty to commit moral suicide, even for children... After seeing his empty church and sad, hopeless face, I felt I could not ruin him at the cost of his and his children's bread. I was told originally that he had private means; but it is not so. Now I have done it, not because it is right or wrong. I do not care whether is right or wrong. I cannot deliberately ruin these poor Martins; but I will give him up if you wish. People often take their lives when threatened. You know I never did anything wrong, save to be extravagant, until this past year. You told my trustees so, and you said I was not a bad woman.
On January 18 there was an answer to the petition of the husband, admitting adultery, which, she declared, had been condoned, and charging the petitioner with conduct conductive and cruelty, saying that her husband had forgiven her. Mrs. Gedgo alleged that her husband "received her coldly" when she came back to the house, and would not speak to her.
His lordship.—ls that all? 
Mr. Priestley added that there was no physical cruelty charged at all. There was nothing the petitioner need be ashamed of, even if the wife’s charges were true.
The petitioner, who was led into the witness-box, gave evidence bearing out counsel's statement. The canon is of medium height, with iron-grey beard and moustache, and with his sightless eyes, presented a most pitiful figure. He told how he had to complain of his wife's extravagance. In September last his wife sent for him, and confessed to her conduct with Mr. Martin on the visit to London, with “all the frightful detail."
His Lordship.-Did you know your wife had the flat in Grosvenor-mansionsŸ?—€”Not until I found a label with the address of a flat upon it.
Mr. Willis.-Did she say what the flat was taken for?-It was taken for the purpose of meeting Mr. Martin.
Did she tell you why she had written to the Bishop?—Because she was determined to be revenged on the man who had seduced her.
His lordship.—Did you believe her when she made the confession ?—Absolutely; I knew she was speaking the truth.
MRS. GEDGE'S DISGUISE.
When Mrs. Gedge was urged to sign a retractation of the charges she made against Mr. Martin, she said: "You are asking me to sign a lie." After the proceedings for criminal libel were commenced, Mrs. Gedge, after going away, returned disguised in a motor get-up and wig.
His lordship.—What was the wig like?—The witness: I not know. His lordship.—Did you not see it.—The witness (pathetically): I cannot see.
His lordship.—Oh, I beg your pardon.
Counsel.—Where did your wife go after these proceedings had been instituted Mr. Martin?—First to Hampstead, and then to Geneva.
Counsel read a letter of Mrs. Gedge's to her husband, in which she said:—
I will give all the evidence you require, because I think it so unfair that the world should think I lied. It is only fair for the world to know that the woman who broke her marriage vows was tempted by a clergyman... But do not let me be bullied or subject to cross-fires of a divorce trial.
An official from the Grosvenor Hotel produced the books of that place showing the signatures of "Mrs. Jones" (the name under which Mrs. Gedge passed) and Mr. Martin. The items charged were:— "Mrs. Jones, one double-bedded room for two nights"; and Mr. Martin, "The Rev. H. J. Martin, one single, at 5s. 6d. for two nights." Mrs. Gedge identified in court as the Mrs. Jones who stayed at the Grosvenor Hotel.
BISHOP IN THE BOX.
The Bishop of Rochester spoke of a conversation he had with Mr. Martin when that gentleman mentioned how he had met Mrs. Gedge at a garden party. She spoke to him, and mentioned that she had recently joined the Roman Catholic Church, and she wished apparently to talk the question of religion over with him. Mr. Martin (went on the Bishop) said he suggested she had better consult her own husband, and she gave him to understand she had already done so. Afterwards she asked Mr. Martin to make an appointment in order to talk the matter over at greater length, and so he wrote her making the appointment at Gravesend Station. Finally they met, and Mrs. Gedge took Mr. Martin her ladies' club on August 1.
His lordship.—Did he admit that be had misconducted himself with this lady?—Certainly not; he denied it.
Continuing, the Bishop added that Mr. Martin told him that he mentioned to Mrs. Gedge that he was stopping the week-end at the Grosvenor Hotel, and when got there on August 8, his great surprise Mrs. Gedge was there anxious to talk about religious matters. They went up to her room to have a quiet conversation.
Mr. Priestley.—Was the conversation inside or outside her room?—I do not know.
Other witnesses were called to prove the visit of Mrs. Gedge and the co-respondent to the hotel and a restaurant.
At the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. J. H. Murphy submitted there was no case against his client (Mrs. Gedge).
His lordship.—l certainly think there is.
CHARGES ABANDONED.
Subsequently, on consulting his client, Mr. Murphy said that he did not think he would be justified in calling the lady in regard to the adultery charge, but there remained the allegations of cruelty.
His lordship.—You abandon the plea of conduct conducive?—Yes.
His lordship remarked that, after looking at the particulars as to the alleged cruelty, he suggested that part of the case should not proceeded with either.
Having consulted his client on the subject, counsel finally abandoned the cruelty charge as well.
Canon Gedge was again led into the witness-box for cross-examination by Mr. Murphy. The witness denied that he was aware that his wife complained that he was neglecting her until 1894, when he discovered his financial position. It was then she made a grievance of their living separate, which they had done since the year 1888.
Did she complain that a Miss X., as we will call her, was your constant associate and companion as your secretary?—l have had more than one Miss X.
Did she complain of many Miss X.s?—Yes.
Did she complain anybody who was friendly with you?—Yes. Had your wife very bad health at times?—l cannot say. It was not true that she complained of not getting enough to eat. Mrs. Gedge was a vegetarian, and preferred keep herself, as she had means of her own. During an absence from home the witness had asked a neighbour to supply her with food. She had reduced us to the extremist poverty (went on the canon), and we were fighting for a bare existence. Mrs. Gedge was a very able woman.
By Mr. Priestley.—Have you any reason to think that Mrs. Gedge would invent a story of the kind have heard?—I have never noticed anything to suggest it. Mrs. Gedge did things which might seem extravagant, continued the witness, but she had no religion, no belief in a world to come or a God to guide her, and so her conduct would sometimes seem extraordinary, she having "no check as we have." Yet she was very shrewd woman. "Any one who has known her knows she has played this game steadily the last card."
RESPONDENTS DENIAL.
The Rev. H. J. Martin, the co-respondent, then went into the witness-box. Mr. Low, K.C., his counsel, said:—Mr. Martin, I have only one question to ask you. Is there any truth whatever in the suggestion or assertion that you have committed adultery at any time with this lady?—None whatever.
Mr. Priestley cross-examined with regard to a note the witness wrote Mrs. Gedge, saying:—"I feel very unhappy that I cannot come to the place arranged."
His lordship asked:—Was this lady trying to make love to you?
The witness.—Well, I was not sure. From the first letter that I received one could see she was making a clandestine appointment, which upset me.
Mr. Priestley.—Did you know she was passing as Mrs. Jones at the hotel?—No.
Did you go up to her room?—Yes.
Did you go into her room?—No, although she suggested I should, but I told her it would not be right.
His lordship.—She was discussing religious matters?—Certainly. Mr. Martin acknowledged a letter to Mrs. signed "H." which was his initial. As a matter of fact, he desired to break off the correspondence, as he was informed Mrs. Gedge was rather a dangerous woman to have anything to do with.
Did she call you Herbert the flat?—No, but in some letters.
Did you ask her to correspond with you shorthand?—No.
Why did you disguise your hand writing?—Because of the letter I received, which I thought was making a clandestine appointment. I did not want any one else to get the letter.
At this stage of the proceedings hit lordship remarked that in his opinion the lady's statements about Mr. Martin were not be relied upon. He was also of the opinion that the co-respondent had acted foolishly, but in no way improperly.
Mr. Priestley suggested that his lordship should find misconduct as against the lady only, and not against the co-respondent.
The President said that he understood he could do that in law, but would require a great deal to induce him to so find in the present case. The letters which had been put in only formed part of the lady's hallucination.
Mr. Priestley argued that the wife had committed adultery with some one, and probably had tried to foist it on Mr. Martin.
PETITION DISMISSED.
His lordship thought the petition should be dismissed. The evidence consisted the lady's own confessions. But having heard the evidence and the cross-examination of the husband, and the testimony of the co-respondent, he was satisfied that Mrs. Gedge was not at the time she made the confessions in a state of health to enable herself to be mistress of what she was saying. It was a matter of common knowledge that at certain periods, and especially at certain ages, women were, unfortunately, the victims of their own imaginations. Therefore satisfied that the lady did an injustice to herself and a great injustice to Mr. Martin when she made the confessions. In the face of the retractations Mrs. Gedge made at different times the court would not be justified in using what she had said against herself. "I wish to state in the presence of the husband himself that I have satisfied myself in connection with the matters which have been brought before me that there is, in fact, no infidelity by her."
As to Mr. Martin, while saying that he had acted foolishly in several matters, it appeared that throughout the co-respondent acted with a sincere desire to assist this lady in her supposed mental, religious doubts. Mr. Martin must have seen that the lady was showing some affection for him — something to make him desirous of putting an end to the communications which were passing between them. In the letters Mr. Martin wrote there was no evidence at all of impropriety on his part, and in the circumstances he was not to be blamed too severely because at one time he denied the authenticity of the letters. One could understand the difficulty in which the co-respondent was pieced. Having taken all these matters into consideration, added the learned judge, he wanted it to be understood that, in his opinion, Mr. Martin had not misconducted himself in any way that would assist the petitioner in the case at all. The petition would be dismissed.
On the question of costs, it was decided that the wife should pay her own; while the petitioner would pay the costs of the co-respondent.

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Offline Leofwine

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Western Gazette - Friday 19 December 1913

VICAR AND BISHOP.
SANDWICHMEN PARADE TO CALL ATTENTION TO GRIEVANCE.
To attract public attention to the affairs of Holy Trinity Church, New Brompton, a number of sandwichmen on Friday paraded through the main streets of New Brompton. Chatham, and Rochester, and outside the Archdeaconry of Rochester, where the Bishop was announced to speak. One of the posters read:—
To the Bishop of Rochester, —We want your help at Holy Trinity, New Brompton.
Another inquired:—
Why does tbe Bishop deny the right of confirmation to the candidates at this church?
The Rev. Martin, the vicar, told a Press representative, "We are obliged to resort lo these extreme measures because the Bishop ignores all letters sent to him, and declines to come near the church? Why should the Bishop boycott the church and the vicar?
Other notices exhibited were strongly worded, and spoke of persecution, false accusation, great suffering, and financial distress.
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Offline Leofwine

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As can be seen from the previous newspaper articles, what started out as a local matter soon made national news!
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Liverpool Evening Express - Monday 23 February 1914

"I PROTEST."
EXTRAORDINARY INCIDENT IN A CHURCH.

BISHOP'S REPLY TO INTERRUPTER.
PARISHIONER'S ACTION ON BEHALF OF VICAR.
An extraordinary incident, occurred in St. Nicholas’ Churoh. Strood-next-Rochester, at the morning service, a member congregation rising from his seat and addressing words of protest to the Bishop of Rochester (Dr. J. R. Harmer) on his Lordship ascending the pulpit to preach.
The Gentleman who made the protest was a M. Edwards, a member of the congregation at Holy Trinity Church, Old Brompton, Chatham, his object being to draw public attention to an alleged grievance which the vicar of that Parish (the Rev. H. J. Martin) has against the Bishop. This grievance is a sequel to certain accusations made against the vicar, which led to legal proceedings, in which Mr. Martin was successful. He alleges, however, that, notwithstanding his success, the Bishop intimated his intention of instituting proceedings against him under the Clergy Discipline Act. These have never been taken, and in A Petition to the Bishop. recently promoted, which is said to have been signed by some 600 parishioners and others, it was asked either that the charge should be proved or that the stigma should be removed from the parish and church. The Bishop, however, refused receive the petition.
Rumours had gained currency that a deputation from Holy Trinity, Brompton, intended to visit Strood to make a demonstration against the Bishop, and precautionary measures were taken. A number of members of the Church of England Men’s Society escorted the Bishop from the vicarage to the church, and others acted as "scrutineers" at the entrances to the building during the time the congregation were assembling. Meanwhile several Brompton men were busy outside the church distributing copies of a leaflet which set forth the grievances of Mr. Martin.
The Protest.
The service proceeded without interruption until Bishop was about commence his sermon, and then the words "I protest" were uttered in a loud voice in the body of the church. It was seen that Mr. Edwards was standing up in one of the pews. "I protest” he said. "Against your Lordship preaching God's Holy Word whilst you have malice in your heart against the vicar of Holy Trinity, Brompton."
A detective officer of the Rochester City Police and two or three vergers promptly left their seats and advanced towards the interruptor, but were restrained the Bishop, who said, “Let him remain.” Then, addressing Mr. Edwards, his Lordship remarked, "You have made your protest, and made it in a very orderly way. I thoroughly believe in your sincerity and the sincerity those acting with you, but with regard to the service, speaking to you as a fellow-Churchman, I feel sure you desire that it shall go on.”
Mr. Edwards, who had resumed his seat, then got up as if to leave. The Bishop said to him: “Won't you remain?" He replied: No, Sir," and took his departure. The service proceeded without further incident.
At the close of the evening service at Holy Trinity, Brompton, correspondence between the Petition Committee and the Bishop was read.





Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 29 May 1914

THE BISHOP OF ROCHESTER AND THE VICAR OF BROMPTON.
To the Editor.
Sir,—ls it not surprising that, in spite of the number of times that the circumstances of.the Holy Trinity scandal have been described on the platform and in the public Press, thai still people take up a standpoint based upon ignorance of the facts?
The expression of sympathy passed at the Diocesan Conference, held at the Caxton Hall, Westminster, is a case in point. Did the clergy who were so enthusiastic really know the facts? I am convinced that if they had known them they could not conscientiously have taken up the attitude they did. In the first place the Bishop's treatment of my church and myself is a much wider Question than one of Church government, which the wording of the resolution alleges the case of Holy Trinity to be. It is, on the other hand, a matter of an unfounded accusation the Bishop against my moral character. Will the clergy and others do me the justice to bear in mind this resume of the facts?
Four years ago the Bishop called upon me to resign my benefice, and formally charged and threatened me with proceedings under the Clergy Discipline Act, naming an elderly spinster, who states she was bribed to bring false charges against me, and also that it was a plot to try and ruin me. This was scattered broadcast, which drove away my congregation, and thereby made lose a considerable part of my income derived from pew rents, and obliged me to remove my six children from the Rochester Grammar School, for I was unable any longer to pay their school fees. After considerable delay, which caused untold sufferings to my wife, family and myself and the death of my eldest daughter, the Bishop, being asked either to go on with proceedings or withdraw the charge, wrote saying that he had since made further investigations, and found that the evidence did not justify proceedings against me. From that time, notwithstanding repeated appeals by my parishioners and myself, no steps have been taken by the Bishop to redress, so far as is now possible, the great wrong done to my church and myself, and the pain and loss caused to my wife and family by this unfounded accusation. On the contrary, he cowardly persists in persecuting and boycotting both me and my church, deliberately implying by his actions that he knows of something against me.
All who know these facts—which have never been, and cannot be, denied—and who love fair play, hold that in the interests of common justice and Christianity, the Bishop, whose intimation of intended proceedings has had such mischievous and deplorable results, is in honour and duty bound to lend his aid to the church, and to make me due amends.
Yours faithfully,
H. J. MARTIN.
Vicar of Brompton, Chatham.


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Globe - Monday 24 March 1913

VICAR AND BISHOP.
AFFAIRS AT OLD BROMPTON CHURCH (CHATHAM).
In a letter to "The Globe" the Rev. A. W. Gough, vicar of Holy Trinity Church, S.W., points out that the statement received from a news agency, and published on Thursday, with reference to affairs at Holy Trinity Parish Church, Brompton, might be taken to refer to the London church. It should be made clear, however, that Holy Trinity Church, Old Brompton, Chatham, is the church concerned, and it may be noted that yesterday the Rev. H. J. Martin, the vicar, stated to a large congregation in the church that, although he had repudiated in the Divorce Court allegations made against him, yet the Bishop the diocese (Dr. Harmer) would not help him, and the church was now in a ruinous condition.
The parishioners afterwards held a public meeting, and passed a resolution stating that they had confidence in the vicar, condemning the Bishop for his alleged injustice and neglect of the parishioners, and calling on him to make reparation. It was also decided to ask the Prime Minister to demand reparation from the Bishop.
The Rev. A W. Gough, in his letter to us, says that the communicants at Brompton Church yesterday numbered 1,324; and, at the 11 a m. service—though many people were away for the Easter holidays—the church was, as usual, crowded, with some 1,400 people present. The Bishop of London’s recent Lent Mission made its beginning this Church.
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The Rev. Herbert John Martin became vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Brompton in 1907. He came with his wife and eight children from St. Gerrans, Portscathro, Cornwall.  Rev. Martin seems to have quickly fallen out with the Diocesan authorities over funding for the church. A long stream of very public letters went back and forth between him and the Diocesan offices, published almost weekly in the local press from 1907 until April 1919. This continued lack of funding from the Bishop, perhaps aggravated by Rev. Martin's very public feud and allegations of scandal against him, led to the vicar gradually refusing to open the church and carry out most of his duties. This made him quite unpopular with many of the locals and in mid-1919 things came to a head in another very public scandal. Rev. Martin was accused of assaulting one of his housemaids with a 'forceful kiss on the neck'!  The case went to court, he was found guilty and the whole affair was well publicised by the local press. The church had to close for almost 18 months. Rev. Martin was removed from his post, eventually had to appear before an Ecclesiastical Consistory Court and was removed from office.

West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser - Thursday 05 November 1908

AN EX-RECTOR OF GERRANS.
WARRANT FOR ARREST OF A CANON’S WIFE.
Considerable sensation has been caused by a case which came before the Chatham Stipendiary Court last week, in which the Rev. Herbert John Martin, who was for several years rector of Gerrans, was the prosecutor. The Rev. H. J. Martin, about a year ago exchanged livings, and is now vicar of Holy Trinity, Old Brornpton. He had secured a warrant for the arrest of Mrs. Francis Gedge, the wife of the Rev. Canon Gedge, the blind rector of Gravesend, whose address was given as 16, Ulysses-road, West Hampstead, on a charge of having uttered defamatory libel concerning him (the Rev. H. J. Martin).
It appeared that the accused was away for a little while, but when she heard that a warrant was out for her arrest she voluntarily returned to answer the charge. The prosecutor applied for remand till next week. Mr. Clarke Hutton, of Gravesend. solicitor to the defendant, acquiesced, but asked that his client might be admitted to bail in her own recognisances. The case was adjourned accordingly. It is believed that portion of the charge will turn on what was known as the "Portscatho Sensation." In November, 1906, a married lady of Portscutho. who acted as deputy organist at the Gerrans Church, and also governess to the rector’s children, had some difference with the rector. She left a note at home, and delivered a letter to the rectory. The note for her husband contained the words: — "I can bear it no longer; I am determined to settle it once for all. If you find my dead body, bear and try to be as happy as possible under the circumstances.” A night search was made for the lady, and eventually she was found on the beach with her clothes saturated. Many reports were circulated, and the rector’s version of the affair was published in the local Press at that time. On the following Sunday the reverend gentleman preached sermon on "the evils of gossip,” in which  he upbraided his parishioners for indulging in scandal.
The case came up at Chatham Police-court, on Monday.
Mr. Pitman, in opening, said it was a painful case, which Mr. Martin was very reluctant to bring before the Court, because it was one that could not help doing harm the Church of England.
The Rev. H. J. Martin then went into the witness box and produced two postcards, which, he said, were in the handwriting of Mrs. Gedge. Four other postcards shown to him, he said, were Mrs. Gedge's writing.—Arthur Day, legal secretary to the Bishop of Rochester, produced four postcards, which were addressed to the Bishop. They were all dated September 18th, and bore the Chatham postmark. Prior to the receipt of the postcards the Bishop received a letter from Mrs. Gedge marked "Private." The Bishop, witness added, declined to produce it, on the ground that it was privileged.— The Magistrate said his lordship was wrong in his law, and if the letter was required it must be produced.—Mrs. Frances King, of Garden-street. Old Brompton. produced a postcard she received on September 20th; it was in defendant's writing.
The Rev. Gardner, curate. Saint Crysostom, Peckham, produced a letter addressed to "The Curate," which he received on September 20. — The Rev. C. H. Muspratt, curate, Holy Trinity, Old Brompton, said he received an anonymous letter on September 21st, and handed it the Rev. Mr. Martin (his vicar). Those two letters were identified by prosecutor as in Mrs. Gedge's writing. The postcards and letters were simply handed to the magistrate, and not read in open Court.
The Magistrate said prosecutor was charged with the gravest immorality by a succession of most scurrilous and horrible letters, which might or might not be true. Obviously it was a case for prosecution, if ever there was one the world. -The magistrate committed Mrs Gedge for trial at the Kent Assizes, allowing her bail in her own recognisances.


Northern Daily Telegraph - Wednesday 14 July 1909

DIVORCE COURT DRAMA.
BLIND CANON AND HIS WIFE.
CONFESSION REJECTED BY THE JUDGE.
One the most extraordinary stories ever One the most extraordinary stories ever told in the Divorce Court was related to Sir John Bigham, the President, yesterday, when the blind rector of Gravesend, Canon Edward Lionel Gedge, petitioned for a divorce from his wife, alleging that she had misconducted herself with the Rev. Herbert John Martin, vicar of Holy Trinity, Old Brompton.
Mr Priestley, K.C., opening the case, said the petitioner married his wife on December 31, 1884, and there were several children, the eldest being 29. For many years the petitioner had been absolutely blind, and he had considerable cause to complain of his wife’s conduct, in particular her extravagance, which had cost him thousands of pounds, including handsome gifts from his parishioners; in paying her debts. In the spring of last year she was neglecting her home duties very much. She had a season ticket between Gravesend and London, and the petitioner had reason to doubt her fidelity to him. When he spoke to her she confessed it was true, but it was overlooked by the petitioner, although not condoned.
Later, on September 13,1908, she was in bed during the afternoon, and requested her husband to sit by her side. She asked him not to make a "fuss," as she had something very important to tell him. She then made a detailed statement in which she said she had misconducted herself in London with the Rev. H. J. Martin, vicar of Holy Trinity, Old Brompton, Chatham. Eventually, she added, the corespondent wrote expressing a wish to terminate what had been going on. She was vexed, and on Sunday, August 16, she went to Old Brompton to reproach the co-respondent with attempting to give her up. Mr Martin asked her to communicate only very rarely, and when she did so to write in short-hand, which apparently both understood. She wrote a bitter letter (she told her husband) to the co-respondent, and had also written to the Bishop telling him the whole story of the meeting in London with the co-respondent and denouncing him. On August 18 she wrote certain postcards relating to this matter, which, said counsel, were undoubtedly of a libellous character. The Bishop then insisted on a retraction of the statements she had made against Mr. Martin with the alternative of proceedings under the Church Discipline Act or a prosecution, but she refused, saying it was absolutely true. Mrs Gedge was threatened with proceedings for criminal libel at the instance of the co-respondent, and her husband thought it his duty to protect her as far as he could, and so he connived at her going away to avoid the prosecution, telling her if there was a scandal he would have to take divorce for his own sake and the sake of the children, however much he regretted it. In the early part of November Mrs Gedge gave herself up to the police, and there was a letter of November 14 which, said counsel, clearly showed that the wife misconducted herself.
The letter concluded, said Mr Priestly, with a request that her husband should not divorce her or separate from her. Mrs Gedge was put on trial on November 17 before Mr Justice Ridley, who, however, postponed the matter, as he thought it better, if possible, that the Bishop should investigate the affair between these two clergymen. On December 17 the petitioner determined after all that had happened that he would take proceedings in this court, and on December 23 a petition was filed. On January 14, 1909, the wife sent to the "Times" the following statement: "I, the undersigned, Beatrice Francis Josephine Gedge, of the Rectory, Gravesend do hereby publicly apologise to the Rev. Herbert John Martin, vicar of Holy Trinity, Old Brompton, for the libellous statements I made and published concerning him in September last, and I hereby declare that the charges against him contained in such statements were false."
The Bishop of Rochester was called, and detailed what Martin had said when summoned to his presence. He told him that he had had  trouble in getting rid of the importunities of Mrs Gedge, whom had met at a garden-party. She had told him that she had recently become a Roman Catholic, and he had expressed his regret. She had said that she wanted to talk these religious matters over with him. He had told her to consult with her husband, but had been finally persuaded to have an interview with her.
The President: Did he admit what she said? ??- No, he denied it. Mr Martin had further told the Bishop that when he went to the Grosvenor Hotel, where he stayed when he was taking duty in London, he was surprised to find Mrs Gedge there. She renewed her conversation about her religious difficulties.
The Rev. H. J. Martin, giving evidence, denied misconduct.
Counsel: What did you mean when you wrote to Mrs Gedge, "I feel more and more unhappy"? - I felt that she was inviting me to meet her in clandestine manner.
The President: Was the lady trying to make love to you? — I was not sure. I felt I must have no more to do with her. I had been told she was dangerous woman.
Had you asked her to correspond in shorthand? — No.
Why did you disguise your handwriting? — I had made up my mind that I must put her off.
The President in giving his decision said: In justice to this lady I will not accept her evidence. It is part and parcel of what I regard as hallucinations. This petition must be dismissed. I am satisfied that this lady was not guilty of the misconduct charged against her. I am satisfied that by what she said she did a great injustice to herself and a greater injustice to Mr Martin. With regard to Mr Martin, many of us do foolish things sometimes. He acted foolishly in saying that he did not write the letters, but I am not disposed to blame him too severely. I find no evidence of impropriety in those letters. In my opinion, Mr Martin has not misconducted himself in any way.
His costs were awarded to the co-respondent, and those of Mrs Gedge were ordered to come out of her separate estate.




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