Your issue of December 29 carried the invariably interesting Charterhouse Chronicle by Patrick O'Donovan. In the course of the article it is stated of Bishop Baines that "he practically dismembered the community and school of Ampleforth, enticing many of both south, and bringing a lot of their monastic cattle and property with them".
A two page document printed at the office of The Monmouth Merlin in August 1835, contains the following:
"It is well known that during the last five years, rumours haver been widely spread in the Catholic Body, importing that various injuries had been inflicted upon the Benedictine monks by the Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, and particularly that property to a great extent had been unfairly removed from Ampleforth to Prior Park, upon the transfer of the Rev Messrs Burgess, Rooker, and Metcalfe, from the former to the latter establishment.
"In justification of his own character and that of the above named three gentlemen, the Right Rev Dr Baines obtained from the Holy See an order that a formal investigation into the truth of these rumours should he made; and the Right Rev Dr Briggs, with the Rev Dr Youens, on his part, and the Right Rev Dr Walsh, with the Very Rev Charles Brooke, SJ, on the part of the Benedictine monks, and the Right Rev Dr Scott, chosen by both parties, were accordingly
appointed as a Commission of Inquiry and Arbitration".
The Merlin then prints a 32line agreement which had been signed by the Benedictine President-General and monks of Ampleforth, and by Burgess, Rooker, and Metcalfe, who were leaving. The agreement was dated May 13, 1830.
Immediately after the text of the agreement, the Merlin continues: "On the same sheet of paper is written the schedule mentioned above, of the cattle, and the prices at which they were valued to Dr Baines, and paid for by him to the College of Ampleforth, amounting in all to £797 2s.
"This valuation was made by Mr Hunter, a respectable farmer in the neighbourhood of the college, and agreed to by both parties. These were the cattle which report said were forcibly and fraudulently taken away".
On page 2 of the same document is the concluding statement of the arbitrators: "It appears to the arbitrators that no part of the property of the Monastery of Ampleforth was taken away by Messrs Burgess, Metcalfe, and Rooker, nor received by Dr Baines ...
"The arbitrators further add that in the course of their inquiries they have not met with anything to impeach the character of either Dr Baines or of Messrs Burgess, Metcalfe, and Rooker."
The statement was signed at Clifton on August 22, 1835, by Bishop Thomas Walsh, Vicar
Apostolic of the Midland District; Bishop Andrew Scott, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District of Scotland; Bishop John Briggs, Bishop of Trachis, and Coadjutor Bishop Northern District; the Rev Dr Thomas Youens, and Fr Charles Brooke then Provincial of the Jesuits.
The final passage ends on a friendly note: "As a public act of friendship and open testimony of satisfaction at the result of the investigation, the Right Rev and Rev Arbitrators dined with both parties at Prior Park, and the day following at Downside College".
Should the foregoing statement not be easily available to anyone particularly interested, a photocopy can be willingly supplied by me.
(Fr) Justin McLoughlin, OFM
Stratford Priory, London, E15.
Mistake about post
May I point out a slight mistake in your piece "Varying views on birth control" in your December 15 issue?
1 am not in any way connected with the Vatican. I have never been spokesman for the Vatican on population. I left the Vatican Justice and Peace Commission in 1973 to become -Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the UN Bucharest World Population Conference of 1974.
(Fr) A. McCormack London, NW7.