1916, 13 May – Batley News

Here is this week’s round-up of pieces from the Batley News relating to the parish of St Mary’s. As usual I have put in bold the names of those connected to the parish who served with the military. And, as ever, the spelling and punctuation matches that of the newspaper.

Two parishioners were in Batley Court on Monday, including the sister of Michael, James and Henry Groark/Rourke:

John William Cairns, miner, Victoria Street, Carlinghow, was fined 14s. for drunkenness and riotous conduct on Saturday night (third conviction).


BROKEN HER PLEDGE: GIRL’S PITIABLE BEHAVIOUR. —Ellen Elizabeth Groark, 7, Fleming Square, Batley, was summoned for a breach of recognisances. —Inspector Ripley reported that when summoned for drunkenness and riotous conduct she was – on account of her youth – bound over for 12 months to be of good behaviour and to abstain from intoxicating liquors. About 10.10 p.m. on April 26th, however, the Inspector and Constable Sugden received a complaint from the girl’s father, and at his home found defendant drunk and using very bad language. The father declared he dared not stay in the house without someone to protect him. Defendant refused to go to bed, and “carried on abominably.” A neighbour said defendant had been drinking with other women. Defendant’s father was a respectable man, who had four sons in the Army and three daughters at home. —The girl’s explanation was that her father insulted her because she stayed away from work on the Wednesday. “I plead guilty to kicking up a row, but I wasn’t drunk,” she added. It was stated that the girl had twice been placed on probation. Fined 10s.

Parish deaths included the following:

MORLEY. On the 6th inst., aged 7 years Joseph Morley, 13, Ambler Street.

Parish priest Father J. J. Lea was about to celebrate a very special milestone.

Father J. J. Lea, Rector of St. Mary to the Angels’ Catholic Church, Batley, is to receive a cheque for £120 and an illuminated address from his parishioners on Tuesday evening in recognition of the attainment of the silver jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood.

A lengthier piece followed, including a reference to John Foley – father of Thomas Foley, D.C.M.

Cheque for £120 for Father Lea.
Sixteen Years at St. Mary’s.

The Rev. Father John Joseph Lea, who has laboured devotedly at St. Mary’s, Batley, for 17 years and has had charge of the mission since October, 1902, celebrated the silver jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood on April 5th; and his parishioners are to honour the event – one of the most notable in a priest’s strenuous career – by the presentation next Tuesday of a cheque for £120 and an illuminated address.

When it is recalled that the subscription list for the handsome gift has been open only about five months, and that the whole of the money has been raised amongst the parishioners, some measure of the affection in which Father Lea is held by his people will readily be gleaned by the general community. The school children of St. Mary’s have already demonstrated their affection for Father Lea by handsome presents; and Father Lea is also to receive gifts from the Children of Mary Sodality; the Girls’ Guild; and the Boys’ Brigade.

It is hoped that the Bishop of Leeds (Dr. Cowgill) will be able to attend Tuesday’s proceedings, and the presentation is to be made by Mr. John Foley, father of Batley’s D.C.M. hero, and one of the best workers for the church as well as one of the oldest members of the congregation. The Presentation Committee is presided over by Mr. P. Grogan, with Mr. J. Deasy vice-chairman and Mr. J Hynes treasurer; and the secretarial duties are in the diligent charge of Mr. Andrew Cox.

Father Lea is the third priest in the Heavy Woollen District to celebrate his silver jubilee within the last two years, and it is interesting to note that he was at Ushaw with the other two reverend gentlemen, viz., Father Mitchell, St Paulinus’, Dewsbury, and Father Carr, St Joseph’s, Batley Carr, who have each received handsome testimonials from their respective congregations.

Father Lea, whose father was a convert to the Catholic faith, was born in Dublin. For some time he was at school in Bradford, and spent four years at Ampleforth College. He pursued his studies at the famous Ushaw College for 12 years, and was at the Leeds Seminary for some months prior to his ordination on April 5th, 1891, at the old St. Anne’s Cathedral, Leeds, by the then Bishop of the diocese (the late Dr. William Gordon), who was the rector of Batley mission from 1872 to 1878.

On his entry to the priesthood Father Lea supplied for a time at Ripon, and was curate for a short period at St. Mary’s, Halifax, under the late Canon James Gordon, who was subsequently rector of St. Mary’s, Batley. In three parishes Father Lea was Canon James Gordon’s curate. For two years he was with him at St. Mary’s, Sheffield, where Father Lea also laboured for a year with Dean Dolan, now a chaplain in the Army; and when Canon James Gordon was appointed to succeed his brother, Father Charles Gordon, at Batley in September 1899, Father Lea accepted his invitation to join him here.

In October, 1902, Canon James Gordon left Batley for Selby, and Father Lea was raised to the rectorship, with Father Russell, now of Birstall, as curate.

During his pastorate Father Lea has never spared himself in his efforts for the advancement of St. Mary’s mission, and by his devoted leadership has won the hearts of all his people. He is of a reserved disposition, and whilst he has not strongly identified himself with the secular affairs of the town he has served on the Board of Guardians, and was a co-opted member of the old School Board. The seven years he spent as a Guardian were marked by much usefulness, and his excellent record in the work of committees won him the admiration of his colleagues.

The most important development in connection with St. Mary’s during Father Lea’s rectorship was the constitution of Birstall as a district mission in 1905, with Father Russell as rector. Previously, Birstall was part of St. Mary’s parish, just as, until 1853, St. Mary’s was part of the Dewsbury parish. The Catholic School at Birstall was built by Bishop Gordon during his pastorate of Batley, and on October 11th, 1903, Father Lea said the first Mass in the school, which thenceforward served as a chapel on Sundays until the erection of St. Patrick’s Church.

Before the foundation of the Birstall parish Father Lea effaced the whole of the debt on the property there, and Father Russell has since built a new presbytery and church, whilst structural alterations have been made in the school and a new infant school added. The total cost of the new buildings and alterations was about £5,000. The church was opened on Easter Monday, April 12th, 1909.

Father Lea has worked zealously to reduce the debt on the Batley mission, and his efforts have been met with conspicuous success, thanks to the whole-hearted support of his congregation, which has been a constantly-growing quantity. When the last census was taken two or three years ago the total number of souls in the mission was 2,400, compared with 2,200 about five years previously.

For the last 11 years Father Lea has had the devoted help of Father McBride in the arduous work of the Batley parish. Father McBride studied at St. Mulcahy’s, Belfast,1 and at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Leeds, where he was ordained on July 23rd, 1905.

In his informative little book on “Catholicism in Dewsbury and District: Past and Present,” Father P. J. Ennis, of St. Paulinus’, Dewsbury, has some interesting notes on the Batley Mission. It was founded from Dewsbury in 1853, and Canon James Wells, who died at York in 1908, was the first rector. He was succeeded by Father Patrick Lynch, who was at Batley from 1860-67. The succeeding rectors were Father Thomas Rigby, 1867-72; Canon William Gordon (afterwards Bishop of Leeds), 1872-78; Father Charles Gordon, 1878-99; Canon James Cordon, 1899-1902; and Father Lea, 1902.

Father Lynch died on December 12th, 1869, and was interred at Batley Cemetery, where also lie the remains of Father Rigby, who was killed by a train at Lancaster Station on March 13th, 1872, after he had attended the funeral of Father Gibson, of Ripon. Father Rigby was 38 year of age. [For more details about Father Rigby, his death, and the opening of St Mary’s church, see The Priest Who Predicted His Death?]

Father Charles Gordon was the first curate of St. Mary’s (1874-78) and altogether laboured in the parish for 25 years. He is now living in retirement in Scotland. His successors in the curate at Batley were the late Father James Butler, 1878-79; the late Father Gerard Meyer, 1879-83; Father Martin Brey, 1883-90; Father John Kalb, 1890-99; Father William Dobson, 1896-98; Father Lea, 1899-1902; Father Peter Russell, 1902-05; and Father Peter McBride, 1905.

The dedication of the church of St. Mary of the Angels, Batley, took place in 1870. The Sisters of St. Paul came to the parish in 1875 on the invitation of Bishop Gordon, who provided the convent. Father Charles Gordon spent £6,000 upon the erection of the senior schools and the alterations in the infant school, which was the old church.

One of the largest demonstrations in Batley during Father Lea’s rectorship was the great protest meeting against Mr. Birrell’s Education Bill on Whit Sunday, 1906, when 7,000 Catholics from Dewsbury, Batley, Batley Carr, Birstall, Morley, and Heckmondwike passed a unanimous resolution that they were unalterably convinced that for them no Education Act could be just or final unless it recognised the parents’ right to have Catholic teachers in Catholic schools for Catholic children.

Father Lea has ever manifested a deep interest in the welfare of St Mary’s schools, and the attachment of the children to his lovable personality was reflected in their recent presentations in honour of his silver jubilee. That the reverend gentleman will be given continued health to pursue his assiduous labours in the Batley parish is the earnest hope of his people.

Father Lea

Locally Sinn Fein was condemned:

Batley Branch of the United Irish League have expressed their strong condemnation of the Sinn Fein revolt.


Local Condemnation of Sinn Fein

Local Irish Nationalists have been quick to express their condemnation of the Sinn Fein rebellion. At a special meeting of the executive of the Yorkshire Federation of United Irish League Clubs at Dewsbury on Sunday the following resolution moved by Councillor A. J. Flynn, Birstall (president), seconded by Mr. Owen Canning, Halifax, was unanimously carried: —“That we strongly condemn the action of a small section of the Irish people in trying to force Ireland into rebellion, as by their action they have proved themselves the enemies of Ireland and Home Rule, and we beg to assure Mr. Redmond and the Irish party of our entire confidence in them and their policy, by which alone we believe can be attained the peace, happiness, and prosperity of Ireland.”

Councillor Flynn presided over a full executive, which comprised Messrs. Martin Cain, Leeds (vice-president); Owen Canning, Halifax (treasurer); J. Jordan, Dewsbury, and P. Melvin, Birstall (trustees); and J. Brennan, Batley (hon. secretary).

A cordial vote of congratulation was passed to the President on his election to the chairmanship of Birstall District Council.

Mr. T. Finn presided over the quarterly meeting of the Batley (John Dillon) Branch of the United Irish League on Monday night, when, on the motion of the chairman, seconded by Mr. J. Deasy, and supported by Mr. John Phillips, a resolution strongly condemnatory of the Sinn Fein revolt was unanimously passed. The revolt was described as “the greatest blot in Irish history,” and the meeting tendered their sympathy to Mr. Redmond and the Irish party in this hour of great trial, and pledged their best support. A wish was expressed that the revolt would not in any way disturb the good relationships that exist between English and Irish people in this district.

The balance sheet, which was approved, showed the branch to be in a sound financial position, and it was decided to grant a wage bonus of 3s. a week to the caretaker (Mr. J. T. Munns), to be retrospective for six months.

1. Suspect this should be St Malachy’s, Belfast.