The Penance of Christopher Pell, St Michan’s, 1725

The interior of St Michan’s, Church Street. Image via HipPostcard.

From the Drogheda Argus and Leinster Journal, 10 November 1877:

“The Prime Minister Mr Gladstone spent Tuesday in visiting various places of interest in Dublin.  Having inspected the graving dock at Dublin Port, the party returned towards the city, Mr Gladstone proceeding alone to St Michan’s Church, where he was joined by Lord Monck. 

The church is remarkable in many ways.  The registry dates back to 1636 and contains the entry of the baptism of Edmund Burke.  The Church was founded by a Danish bishop in the year 1095, and contains many ancient relics of plate including, among other things, a gold cup supposed to have been taken from the Spanish in the time of the Armada and which was presented to the church in the last century by Captain Proby…Mr Gladstone was shown the old vestry book, and his attention directed to a particular entry, which he read throughout, and which recorded the penance of Christopher Pell in 1725. 

Christopher Pell, it appeared had offended the rector, the Rev Hugh Dawson, by refusing to allow him to read the burial service over the grave of his son.  Mr Dawson cited the offender before the Archbishop, and Mr Pell, in answer to the charge, urged that as his son had never had the ministrations of Rev Mr Dawson in his lifetime, he would not allow him to read the burial service over his dead body. 

The Archbishop having taken evidence on the subject, declared himself fully convinced of ‘the rude turbulence and misbehaviour’ of Mr Pell and of his ‘falseness, wickedness and insolence’ towards a Christian minister, ‘sharply admonished and reproved’ him telling him that he was liable to a fine of 100 marks, to be imprisoned for six months, ‘which he did well deserve’ but, having regard to his circumstances and family, his Grace would, on submission, waive a prosecution and accept his confession, ‘after sorrow being testified at St Michan’s before the minister and congregation in satisfaction of his office.’

In pursuance of this order Pell attended on the 11th of August, 1725, and having first signed his confession in the vestry ‘did stand at the west door of the church, conducted by the four sidesmen, and being placed before the minister, he did audibly repeat his confession in the presence of a numerous congregation, after which he was, by sidesmen, put into a pew, where he remained during the rest of the service…’”

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

Leave a Reply