Owston Ferry Grave
In 1874 H. Keet wanted to erect a gravestone over the grave of his 7-year-old daughter, Annie Augusta Keet. The proposed text read ‘Annie Augusta Keet the younger daughter of Revd. H. Keet Wesleyan Minister. The vicar of St. Martins church, Revd. George Smith refused to grant permission for the tombstone unless the words ‘Reverend’ and ‘Wesleyan Minister’ were removed. He also refused to communicate with Keet instead relaying information through the local stonemason, Charles Barningham. Keet applied to the Consistory Court to issue a citation to the vicar to explain why it was not to be allowed. The court refused stating the vicar was entitled to refuse the prefix as it implied that Mr Keets was in Holy Orders. Keets wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archibald Tait. Although he did not wish to comment on the legal question, he considered the vicars objection was not one which ought to be made. The case was eventually referred to the Court of Arches and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council who granted the use of ‘Reverend’ on the tombstone. This case caused a controversy at the time and was discussed worldwide as to whether they should be called a Wesleyan preacher or minister.
Image and text copyright of Isle of Axholme and Hatfield Chase Landscape Partnership.