Sham Marriage 1891 - two press reports

William Gregory Tyler, alias C. W. Tyler, 29, of William's Cottages, Boreham Wood, described on the charge sheet as a clergyman, and having recently been acting as curate of Elstree, was brought up in custody at Barnet sessions and charged with having obtained a situation as curate or servant to the Rev. P. H. W. Peach, rector of Elstree, by false representations, and by means of a forged certificate of character. Further charges of forging the certificate and various letters, and obtaining from the Rev. Mr Barclay, of Amwell, a sum of £10 14s by false pretences, and of uttering a forged certificate of marriage, were now added. The evidence taken at previous hearings, and now read over, was to the effect that in October last the Rev. P. H. W. Peach, rector of Elstree, advertised in the Church Times for a temporary curate in full orders, and prisoner applied for the appointment, representing that he held the necessary qualifications, and had sole charge of the parish of St. Paul's, Bermondsey, during the temporary absence of the vicar, the Rev. S. M. Mayhew. He gave an address said to be that of Mr Mayhew, and a letter sent there elicited a confirmation of prisoner's statements, and was so eminently satisfactory that he was at once appointed. When he had been a short time at Elstree Mr Peach became suspicious that all was not right, and investigation showed that Mr Mayhew had never lived at the address given, that the testimonial was a forgery, and that prisoner had similarly imposed on at least one other clergyman. The facts having been established, Tyler was apprehended on a warrant, and Police-Inspector Nutt searched prisoners lodgings, in company with Detective-sergeant Bradbrook. They found a book containing marriage-certificate forms, some of which had been torn out without entries being made on the counter-foil. They also found a certificate purporting to be signed by Mr Registrar Hazzard, and recording a marriage between William Gregory Tyler and Ada Emily Hall, solemnised at the registry office, 228, Gray's Inn Road, W.C. There was no such registry office, and there was every indication that the certificate was in Tyler's own handwriting. There were, further, found among his effects several ordination forms, some blank and others partially filled in. One, which purported to be signed by a bishop of the Reformed Episcopalian Church of America, licensed William Gregory Tyler. Investigation showed that Dr Richardson had ordained a priest of that name, but immediately afterwards withdrew the licence.

Ada Emily Hall, a young lady of prepossessing appearance, said she was a school-teacher. She first made the acquaintance of the prisoner in September, 1889, when he was editor of the Hampshire Herald. She was then, as now, living at Alton. She frequently met prisoner, and he became at lodger at the house of her parents. They grew very friendly and became lovers, prisoner proposing to marry her. He wrote several letters after leaving Alton, and in some of them — particularly those of Jan. 11, 13, and 15 of the present year — pressed her to marry him. In consequence of his representations she went to London on the following Saturday, and was met at Waterloo station by the prisoner, who took her to 47, Tennyson-Street, and thence to the picture gallery at South Kensington. At about three o'clock in the afternoon they went to a place which she was led to suppose was Doctors Commons for the purpose of being married; but Tyler said the license had not come and they must call again. They returned to Tennyson-street, and later in the evening the accused went out and said on his return that the license had arrived, and he, as a clergyman, might then perform the ceremony. He produced a book, in which she signed her name, at his direction, and he then opened a prayer book and read the portion beginning take thee to be my wedded wife etc., and she repeated the words with the necessary variations. Using the words With this ring I thee wed etc., prisoner placed a wedding upon her finger. She was to have returned to Alton that night, but prisoner assured her she had lost the train, and she passed the night with him as his wife. The certificate produced in court was that which she signed. The marriage took place with the consent of her parents, but it was arranged not to make it public just then, because of what the school-managers might say. Her husband stayed in London and she returned to Alton. She had not the slightest suspicions that she was not the prisoner's legal wife till the Rev. Mr Barclay, of Amwell, made a communication to her. While her husband was a clergyman at Amwell she visited him and stayed with him for a few days.

Arthur Rogers, registrar of marriages for the county of London, was called to prove that no such marriage as that deposed to had been legally solemnised in his district. If the ceremony were performed as the last witness stated it would be illegal. The certificates was a fraud and a forgery, and there was no registry office at the address appearing upon it, nor any such registrar as John Hazzard.  Sergeant Bradbrook having given evidence as to the arrest, prisoner was committed for trial, and reserved his defence.

ROMANCE OF REAL LIFE. The various charges brought against Mr. William Gregory Tyler, at Barnet, opened up exceedingly grave issues. Boreham Wood is where Mr. Tyler, by what are alleged to be false testimonials and certificates, got himself appointed by the Vicar of Elstree to act as his curate, and to take charge of a mission hall at Boreham Wood. The pretty village appears to have been the scene of something approaching rival activity between the Church people and the dissenters.

The Vicar of Elstree on his part was determined not to allow the work of the Church to fail. As a Church Army missioner proved unsuccessful, he dispensed with his services and advertised in the Church Times for a duly qualified curate. Mr. William Gregory Tyler replied to the advertisement, and at the same time (about the 11th of November last) sent a letter and certificate of character purporting to come from the Rev. Samuel Martin Mayhew, vicar of St. Paul's, Bermondsey. The vicar of Elstree, the Rev. Philip Herbert Wentworth Peach, was so pleased with the testimonials that he engaged Mr. Tyler as his curate at £125 per annum, and he entered on his duties. He took lodgings at 2, Williams Cottages, where for two rooms he agreed to pay 15s per week. The vicar took him round the district and introduced him to some of the principal families and tradesmen of the place. Then afterwards Mr. Tyler called again himself, and did his best to persuade them to attend his church. Many accepted the invitation. The new curate had such winning ways, and the church mission hall was much fuller than it had been for a long time before. His first sermon was a great success, and the general opinion expressed was that there had never been such a powerful and impressive preacher at Boreham Wood before. The Church party were unanimous in their opinion that they had secured an able champion at last. Some of them just peeped in at the dissenting meeting-house a little higher up the road, and they were struck with the fact that it was not so full as it was before.

While at tea with some of the families of the district the new curate discussed the best means of pressing forward the mission, and he was particularly anxious to enlist the services of the young ladies in active village work. He told them of the great good that had been accomplished by ladies during the ministrations at other places where he had held various kinds of special services. He produced different printed bills, and urged that similar onea should be printed and circulated in the district of Boreham Wood.

Various young ladies acquiesced in the proposition, and efforts were at once made to extend the mission. When the new curate preached the second time the church was crowded; and the sermon was pronounced a greater success ever than before. He took for his text, Awake from thy sleep, and after showing the various kinds of spiritual sleep, urged all to be up and active in the work of God and His Church.

After a promising ministry of nearly three weeks, however, there came a sudden reverse. On the evening of December 4th last Mr. Tyler was met in Shenley Road, Elstree, by Detective-sergeant Bradbrook, who produced a warrant for his arrest, and at once took him into custody. The prisoner pleaded very hard to be allowed to get his box away first, but this the officer refused and he was taken to the station. The news spread with great rapidity through the village, and when it was rumoured that the new curate had been arrested at the instigation of the vicar, there was much consternation. At first the rumour was that, not being a duly qualified clergyman in holy orders, the charge against him was of endeavouring to obtain his salary by forgery and fraud. Some of tho ladies wero inclined to be indignant with the vicar for what they considered his arbitrary conduct. Others expressed tho opinion that they thought it was a great pity to arrest him. He was really a nice, clever, and educated man, and had all tho ability for making a splendid preacher. They had never had such a preacher before, and it was much to be regretted that the Church had lost so good a man.

In course of conversation the vicar frankly said that giving the prisoner into custody had caused him very great pain, but he felt it was his duty to do so in the interest of the public. He considered it was his bounden duty to do as he had, in consequence of a communication he in the first instance received from the Rev. Charles Wright Barclay as to some of the man's antecedents. Then when he began to make further inquiries for himself he learned a very great deal, which, convinced him that the fellow was an impostor, and not fit to be trusted in the position in which he had been placed, even if he had been duly qualified. He rather blamed himself now for not having looked into his credentials, and for not having asked to see his ordination papers. It was not, however, always customary to do so, as it was usually thought that a clergyman ought to be above suspicion. This man, however, was not a clergyman, but an impostor of a very dangerous kind. The rev. gentleman then produced letters and post-cards, which he had received since the prisoner had been in custody, thanking him for what he had done, and in order to show the character of the man the writers gave the names of various young ladies who had reason to deeply regret meeting the supposed curate. The prisoner, he said, was a kind of lay reader about 1882 under the Rev. Samuel Martin Mayhew, vicar of St. Paul's, Bermondsey. There was then in the parish a very respectable young lady, who took much interest in mission work. Prisoner became very friendly with her, and they were engaged to be married. In the meantime the prisoner fell ill, and was admitted to Guy's Hospital, and while there the young lady who was greatly attached to him, visited him. One day, however, another young lady also came to see him, who claimed to be his wife, and the two ladies afterward met, and a great scene occurred at the hospital.

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