The Rev. William Hamilton Drummond and Another, - Appellants; Attorney General for Ireland, at the relation of George Matthews and Others, - Respondents

CourtHouse of Lords (Ireland)
Judgment Date31 July 1849
Date31 July 1849

English Reports Citation: 9 E.R. 1312

House of Lords

The Re
William Hamilton Drummond and Another
The Attorney General for Ireland, at the relation of George Matthews and Others

Mews' Dig. iii. 260, 330, 382. S.C. 14 Jur. 137; in Ch., 1 Dr. and War. 353; and cf. 3 Dr. and War. 165. See Westwood v. M'Kie, 1869, 21 L.T. 167; Shore v. Wilson, 9 Cl. and F. 355, and note thereto.

Deed of trust - Protestant Dissenters - Unitarians - Evidence.

IIH.L.C., 837 DRUMMOND V. A.-G. [1849] [837] The Rev. WILLIAM HAMILTON DRUMMOND and Another,-Appellants; The ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, at the relation of GEORGE MATTHEWS and Others,-Respondents [Feb. 24, 28', and 29, March 2 and 6, 1848; July 31, 1849]. [Mews' Dig. iii. 260, 330, 382. S.C. 14 Jur. 137; in Ch., 1 Dr. and War. 353; and of. 3 Dr. and War. 165. See Westwood v. M'Kie, 1869, 21 L.T. 167; Shore v. Wilson, 9 Cl. and F. 355, and note thereto.] Deed of trust-Protestant Dissenters-Unitarians-Evidence. In the year 1710 certain members of Protestant Dissenting Congregations in Ireland subscribed sums of money for charitable purposes, and for the management of the fund executed a deed, which recited that the objects of the trusts thereof were; 1st, to support the Protestant Dissenting interests against unreasonable prosecutions; 2dly, to educate youth designed for the ministry among Protestant Dissenters; 3dly, to assist poor Protestant Dissenting congregations; and 4thly; for such other pious and religious ends, and by such means as the subscribers should think proper for promoting these objects: Held-affirming the judgment of the Court of Chancery in Ireland-that Unitarian Protestant Dissenters were not within the trusts of the deed. The terms " Protestant Dissenters " not having' acquired a known legal meaning in 1710, evidence may be received to shew what was their meaning in a deed of that date,-such as contemporaneous documents and usage, the acts of the party, and the circumstances in which he was when he made the deed, but not his particular opinions or declarations. Although contemporaneous usage and long enjoyment afford grounds for the interpretation of doubtful words in a trust deed, they give no sanction to a breach of trust. A decree, which declares Trinitarian Protestant Dissenters only to be entitled to a trust fund, is right in removing from the trust such of them as concurred in the mis-application of the fund. This appeal was brought against a decree made by Sir Edward Sugden, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, in the year 1842, in a suit instituted there, by information at the relation of the respondents, for the purpose of regulating a charity founded in Dublin in the year 1710, for the benefit of " Protestant Dissenters." By the [838] decree it was declared that Unitarians were not entitled to participate in the charity. (3 Dru. and War. 165.) The information (filed in April 1840) stated, among other things, that on the passing of the Act of Uniformity (17 and 18 Car. II., cap. 6), several Presbyterian ministers, then in the enjoyment of parochial benefices in Dublin and other parts of Ireland, having declined to conform to the provisions of that statute, withdrew from their parochial cures, and with some of their parishioners, formed five Non-conforming or Protestant Dissenting congregations, agreeably to the Presbyterian form and discipline, and erected five meeting-houses in Dublin, viz., in Wood Street, in Cook Street, in New Row, in Plunket Street, and in Mary's Abbey: That these five congregations, being all agreed upon the doctrine of the Trinity as an essential article of faith, and their ministers having selected Godly persons out of their respective congregations as elders, after the manner of the Presbyterian Church, united in an ecclesiastical association, called a Presbytery, for the government of their internal affairs, known by the name of " The Dublin Association or Presbytery;" and that from their origin to the year 1702, the ministers of these congregations regularly taught and preached the doctrine of the Trinity: That in 1702, the Rev. Thomas Emlyn, minister of the Wood Street congregation, having avowed that he held Unitarian opinions, was removed by the Presbytery from the pastoral charge of the congregation, and was subsequently prosecuted, found guilty, and sentenced to fine and imprisonment for having promulgated Unitarian doctrines in a book entitled " An Humble Inquiry into the Scripture Account of Jesus Christ:" That the 1312 DRUMMOND V. A.-G, [1849] II H.L.C., 839 Presbyterians or Protestant Dissenters in Ireland, from the time of [839] their separation from the Established Church iu 1665, were all, except Mr. Emlyn, agreed amongst themselves, and with the Established Church, upon articles of faith and the objects of Christian religious worship, dissenting from the then Established Church only upon questions of Church government. The information further stated, that in the year 1710, Sir Arthur Langford, with others, members of the said five congregations, and believers in the doctrine of the Trinity, subscribed large sums of money for the charitable purposes thereinafter set forth, and that in order to secure the due management of the fund so formed, tbo founders thereof executed a deed of trust, dated the 1st of May, 1710, which recited that, " from a pious disposition and concern for the interest of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the welfare of precious souls, Sir A. Langford and Joseph Darner, Esq., with divers other well-disposed Christians, had designed and intended to set on foot a stock or fund for the support of religion in and about Dublin and the south of Ireland, by, first, assisting and supporting the Protestant Dissenting interest against unreasonable prosecutions, some of which they had lately been exposed to; secondly, for the education of youth designed for the ministry among Protestant Dissenters; thirdly, for assisting Protestant Dissenting congregations that were poor, and unable to provide for their ministers; and fourthly, for such pious and religious ends, and by such means, as should by the subscribers thereunto be thought proper and reasonable, for promoting the design and intention therein expressed: And that the several subscribers had mutually engaged to employ the utmost of their integrity and faithfulness, with all necessary care and diligence, in the pur-[840]-suit of the rules and methods thereinafter unanimously agreed to by them, and which should or might be thereafter added, for the accomplishing and carrying on so good a work." The deed then stated twelve rules or provisions (all which were set forth in the information) for the management of the fund then subscribed, and such additional funds as should from time to time accrue. The third rule proceeded thus: " and since a corporation by charter is not on this occasion to be expected or attempted, and seeing deeds of trust and conveyances are still liable to many contingent hazards and inconveniences, it seems best to place the great security of the present under taking (next to the blessing and protection of God) upon the faithfulness and integrity of the persons herein named to1 be trustees, being the ministers of the several Dissenting Protestant congregations associated in Dublin, and two out of each of their congregations, and the other persons hereinafter named, viz., the Rev. Mr. Joseph Boyce " (then followed the names of nine other ministers of the five congregations, and ten members thereof called elders, and seven other persons, also called elders, who subscribed large sums), " whom we do hereby constitute, etc. trustees and managers of the said fund, together with all and every the additions that shall be made thereunto; and that they, or the major part of them, being eleven at least of the whole number, duly summoned, who shall be in and about the city of Dublin, shall order, manage, and set out at interest, or otherwise to the best advantage, as to them shall seem most fit, the present fund, together with the additions and revenue thereof from time to time, to the uses, intents and purposes aforesaid." Tho eighth rule provided for a succession in the [841] trusteeship, by covenanting that, " as often as any of the said members " (the ten ministers and ten elders) " die or be displaced, that in the room of a minister, such other minister as shall regularly succeed to such congregation, shall succeed to the said trust; and in room of any of the said members of a congregation, one of the said congregation shall be chosen by ballot,--all which shall be done by the unanimous agreement of the said trustees, or three-fourths of them present," etc. The ninth rule was to the effect that as often as any deed, gift, etc. should be made for the use of this fund, it would be advisable " that it be made to two of the trustees, not ministers, and that it be expressed to be made to them, to such pious and charitable uses as they should think fit, without any mention of this fund; and that thereupon the same, as well as any already made, shall be taken to be to the uses of this fund, and under the regulations therein mentioned." The tenth rule was, that when any such deed or grant as aforesaid, be made, or any security by bonds, mortgages, etc., be taken, the same should be made to two of the said trustees, not ministers, and not many to the same persons. The eleventh rule required newly-elected trustees to endorse on the deed their H.L. ix. 1313 42 II H.L.C., 842 "bRUMMOND V. A.-G. [1849] acceptance of the trust, and to act with the other trustees with all diligence and faithfulness in the execution of the trust, according to the covenants and rules in the deed mentioned; and the twelfth provided for the investment of the fund, then amounting to £1500-"which sum, with the interest and increase thereof, with what additions should be made thereto by any person whatever, the trustees " (after declaring their...

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