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Fraudulent Deeds In Holy Orders

The story of a vicar and his fall from grace.

  In August 1868 Vyvyan Moyle was appointed Vicar Of Christ Church Eston, taking over from Thomas Irvin. Rev Moyle had been curate in the parish of Ormesby. The Rev Moyle came from Cornwall where his father and brother were both surgeons. In 1865 Vyvyan Moyle married Wilhelmina Elizabeth Wade in London. She was born in Ireland where her father was Inspector of Constabulary. They lived in Omagh Co Tyrone.

  From his early days in the North East he was involved with many things. In 1864 he gave a lecture in Newcastle on Egypt. He was president of North Ormesby Art & Industrial Institute and in 1867 they held an exhibition where he lent two portraits by Van Dyke (in view of what happened a few years later, these might not have been genuine). In 1868, he attended and took part in the proceedings of the Yorkshire Board of Education with a number of local MP’s – B. Samuelson, Isaac Wilson and J W Pease. He was made honorary chaplain of the East and North York Artillery Militia in 1869, he attended many functions in the capacity of chaplain.Vyvyan Mole seems to have been a 19th century “high flyer.” It was rumoured he was going to be appointed rural dean of Stokesley.

  The high life ended for Vyvyan Moyle in late December 1872 when he was arrested at his house in Normanby and charged with four counts of fraud, which included the forging of a scrip certificate, a deed and a signature. The amount involved was £22,000 which was a huge sum in the 1870s. The company he defrauded was Jackson, Gill & Co who were involved with building a new system of puddling furnaces.

  Vyvyan Moyle pleaded guilty to the charges, was remanded in custody and not given bail because of the seriousness of the charges. In March 1873 his trial started at York Assizes. Local dignitaries spoke of his previous good character but to no avail as the prosecutor said his crime “showed great premeditation and contrivance.”   A couple of days later Lord Chief Justice Bovill delivered his verdict. He said Moyle had “travelled to London and obtained a form of certificate under cover of a wrong name, and tried to induce the printer to suppress his own name and on another occasion procured a seal.” His sentence was seven years penal servitude, according to reports served in Pentonville.

  Whilst he was in jail on remand he was declared bankrupt and the contents of his home, Normanby House (now The Manor House) were auctioned. The items to be auctioned included Old Masters, oil paintings and church decorations. The sale was advertised to last four days, so there must have been plenty of items to sell. In newspapers Wilhelmina was reported to be a wealthy heiress. Their possessions suggest that Vyvyan was by no means a “poor country parson.” His stipend in Eston was only £290 per annum.

  This case caused quite a stir, the story and the subsequent trial featuring in all of the local and national newspapers. There was even a report in a New Zealand newspaper named Daily Southern Cross.

  Vyvyan Moyle seems to have survived his time in prison as on the census for 1881 he is living at Brook House, Burghfield in Berkshire and is listed as “Clergyman Without Care Of Souls.” His wife and family are with him. In 1885 Vyvyan was appointed vicar of St Clement Church, Ashampstead, Berkshire. He moved parishes sometime between 1891 and 1901 to Wood Green, Middlesex and was living at “Melrose” Alex Park Road. Wilhelmina must have separated from him as she was not with him on the census taken in 1891, and was living with son (also a vicar) in Horsham, Sussex in 1901.Whilst he was vicar in Ashampstead he wrote and published a book “Notes on the Ecclesiastical History of Ashampstead for the last 50 years.”

© Joan Outhwaite.   Normanby History Group

Manor House in 1960s

Front door of Manor House

Manor House today