The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Rev John Purchas

Rev John Purchas

Reverend John Purchas (1823-1872) was an Anglican priest who was prosecuted for Ritualistic practices. From 1861 to 1866 he was curate of St Paul’s in Brighton and in 1866 he became the perpetual curate of St James’s Chapel, Brighton. During his curacy at St James’s, he introduced the use of vestments including the cope, chasuble, alb and biretta and the use of lighted candles on the altar, crucifixes, images, incense, processions and holy water. On 27 November 1869, he was charged before the Court of Arches with infringing the law of the established church; he did not appear to answer, giving as reasons his poverty, which prevented him from securing legal assistance, and ill-health.

Decision was rendered against him on 3 February 1870, but in terms which did not please Colonel Charles James Elphinstone, who had brought the suit. Elphinstone appealed for a fuller condemnation, which was eventually obtained on 16 May 1871, the decision going against Purchas in all points. Purchas had put his property out of his hands, and so could not be made to pay costs, but he was suspended for twelve months. In spite of this, he continued his illegal practices and continued to conduct services until his death, in Brighton, on 18 October 1872.

Photographed by W. and A.H. Fry of 68 East Street, Brighton [Sussex].


Code: 123445
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