A Troublesome Priest Transferred.

Items of general interest

Moderators: Global Moderators, Pandabean

Posts: 617
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:42 pm
Location: Dorset, UK

Re: A Troublesome Priest Transferred.

Post by garibaldired » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:15 pm

He's even worse than I thought initially!

Posts: 3981
Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:49 pm
Location: Scotland

Re: A Troublesome Priest Transferred.

Post by nelmit » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:50 pm

Currie wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 1:43 am
Hello Meg and Sarah,

The story continues, and it appears that Father Scanlan is even more of a Cad and Bounder than he first appeared to be...........

One of the body there, high in office, told her that Scanlan had been sent off to America, not on account of his connection with her, but with a mill girl, and that he had been granted a character much better than he deserved, to procure him a charge there..................................

To be continued,

:shock: :x That sentence actually drew an intake of breath from me!

Poor Anne and her boys.


Posts: 3840
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:20 am
Location: Australia

Re: A Troublesome Priest Transferred.

Post by Currie » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:33 pm

Hello S, M & A.

The final part just covers the deliberations of the Greenock Parochial Board.

Finally, there appears to be no other course left this board, but to admit the claim of the children to support. The decision in the Court of Session, already referred to, appears to set the question at rest against Greenock. There would be no difficulty in proving that the mother of priest Scanlan's children came secretly to Greenock to give them birth; but then the difficulty is, that in the parish of Old Kilpatrick the mother had merely a residence, but no settlement; and, in fact, no settlement elsewhere in Scotland; and it does not even appear that she returned to Glenhead from Greenock after giving birth to her children. We therefore now have no doubt whatever as to our liability, and would not even recommend the expense of a submission.

If the committee have travelled beyond the mere legal view of this question in bringing the facts of the case somewhat lengthily before you, it is with a view of marking with a strong feeling of reprehension the conduct of a portion of a body of men who arrogate to themselves being set up as he spiritual guides and teachers of the people, but who are found taking advantage of their position to debauch and enslave the souls and bodies of those whom it is their bounden duty in an especial manner to protect. The evil does not rest here—the illegitimate issue of their immoral practices, with the stigma of pauper written upon their foreheads, are cast a burden upon society, like so many living evidences of the incompatability of priestcraft with sound practical morality.

Mr. J. Stewart said he had listened patiently to the whole if this very painful and distressing story, but as many of the statements in the report affected the character of men who were respected and esteemed by the people connected with their own body, he thought it was but fair that something should be said in their defence. At the commencement of the reading of the report Mr. Crawford seemed to be desirous of cutting a joke at the expense of certain Roman Catholic clergymen and their mistakes in spelling. Now they knew that the Rev. John Carolan was at present the much respected clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church at Port-Glasgow, and being so, must consequently be both a gentleman and a scholar, and surely quite capable of spelling a plain little English word of four letters in two syllables. The rev. gentleman was not present, but in fairness they should not endeavour to hold him up to the mockery of his neighbours merely because he might not be able to spell a little English word. They all knew that the Roman Catholic Church, with much discretion and prudence, took care that those of their students who could not spell or read were sent to the hills and the more remote districts of the country; while the more polite and accomplished scholars were located in towns such as Greenock and Port-Glasgow. Therefore, he was disposed to feel a little unpleasantness at this charge of want of scholarship on the part of any clergyman residing in the neighbourhood of Greenock, be he Roman Catholic or be be Protestant. But it seemed that, in one of the letters written by Scanlan, the word Trogans occurred. Now, he really thought that Mr. Crawford—

Mr. Brymner rose to order. Was Mr. Stewart favouring them with a dissertation on spelling, or was he speaking to the report? He thought the business of the meeting should be allowed to go on in a regular way, and not be interrupted by the interposition of matters totally irrelevant.

Mr. Stewart said he was speaking in defence of certain gentleman who were absent.

Mr. Brymner observed that the matter before the Board should be discussed on its own merits, and without reference to the spelling of any clergyman. If it were true that the Rev. Mr. Carolan could not spell a little English word, that was a point with which the Board had nothing to do.

Mr. Ritchie thought the simple question before the meeting was, whether the report of the committee should be adopted or not.

Mr. Stewart conceived it was necessary in the first instance to discuss the merits of that report, which affected the character of certain rev. gentlemen who were not present.

Mr. Brymner repeated that the Board had nothing whatever to do with that.

Mr. Stewart thought that they had to do with it. When interrupted by Mr. Brymner, he was proceeding to say that the word Trogans had a different meaning from that ascribed to it by Mr. Crawford; that, in short, it meant parties engaged in the buying and selling of old clothes. (A laugh.)

Mr. Brymner supposed Mr. Stewart meant that Trogans were not Greeks.

The Chairman was desirous of bringing this discussion to an end. The only question before the Board, as it appeared to him, was, were they or were they not, liable for the maintenance of these children? They had heard the conclusions of the report; they were informed by the committee that they were liable, and in these circumstances he thought they should at once adopt the recommendation of the report, and so have done with the case.

Mr. Patrick O'Neil, as the only Roman Catholic present, thought he was entitled to offer a few remarks on the report, which appeared to have been specially prepared for the purpose of throwing discredit on the Roman Catholic Church, and more particularly on one of the unfortunate clergymen of that Church. But, not content with bringing forward such a report, the parties who drew it up had secured the services of a special reporter, in order that all the details of the case might be published to the world, as if their own reporter—the gentleman connected with the Greenock Advertiser—could not do justice to their proceedings. It seemed to him that those parties had not acted with prudence. They had laboured to cast reflections on the character of the Rev. Mr. Carolan, merely because that gentleman had written a letter to a brother clergyman, recommending the unfortunate girl who was the immediate cause of these proceedings. For his own part, he knew the girl well; while residing in Paisley, she frequently came to his shop in the capacity of servant to Dr. Richmond; and he could tell the Board that at that period she was much respected by all who knew her, what ever her subsequent conduct might have been. Under these circumstances, he did not see the necessity for any criticism in regard to the letters of Mr. Carolan, nor did he think it was prudent to cast reflections on the character of that gentleman because one of his brother clergymen had formed an improper and unfortunate connection with a female. With respect to the dignitary so often referred to in the report, he presumed Bishop Murdoch was the person meant.

Mr. Crawford—Do you think so

Mr. O'Neil said he unquestionably thought so. Mr. Crawford was not entitled to throw discredit on the whole body of Roman Catholic clergymen because one of their number had unfortunately gone astray. Every Church had ministers who failed to act up to their professions, but surely it would be unjust to condemn the whole body on that account. During the last few years many Protestant clergymen had been deposed for drunkenness and other immoralities. Moreover, nobody ever said that the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church were impeccable, or not liable to fall into sin like other men. He could not understand why reflections should be cast on the character of Bishop Murdoch because a single member of the priesthood had committed an improper act. It appeared from the report itself that Scanlan was compelled to leave this country in consequence of his connection with the woman Johnstone or Brown, and that as soon as Bishop Murdoch knew he had proceeded to America, his lordship wrote a letter to the Right Rev. Dr. Hughes, of New York, instructing him to suspend Scanlan at once. What more could the Church of Scotland do in the case of one of its unfortunate ministers? He frankly admitted that Scanlan deserved to be punished as he had been, but that was no reason why the Roman Catholic clergy should be condemned as a body.

Mr. Crawford most distinctly denied that he had exhibited any levity in reading the report and relative documents, or that he had cast any reflection on the character of the Rev. Mr. Carolan. The letters of that gentleman spoke for themselves. Nor had he at all spoken with disrespect of the Romish priesthood as a body; and he could assure Mr. O'Neil and the rest of the Board, that the report would have been couched in the same terms though Scanlan, instead of a Roman Catholic, had been an Episcopalian or a Presbyterian.

Mr. Stewart could not assent to the ratepayers of Greenock being charged with the maintenance of Scanlan’s illegitimate children. It appeared to him that the Roman Catholic Church was bound to support the unhappy offspring of its own priests, if for no other reason than to prevent such miserable exposures of poor humanity.

The Chairman then moved that the Board approve the diligence of the committee, and empower the Law and Finance Committee to act in conformity with the recommendation contained in the report.

Mr. Brymner seconded the resolution, which was unanimously agreed to.

The Board then adjourned shortly before ten o'clock.


I don’t know what became of the Rev John Scanlan, and whether he really was kicked out of the Priesthood, or what became of the young woman and her two boys.

At first I was of two minds whether to post this story. But then I thought that, for political reasons, the two children may have been denied baptism, and that this could be the only existing record of their dates of birth etc., and decided to go ahead.

All the best

Posts: 617
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:42 pm
Location: Dorset, UK

Re: A Troublesome Priest Transferred.

Post by garibaldired » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:41 pm

I am glad you did, Alan.

Such a sad, terrible story.
We can only hope those two little boys managed to live fulfilling lives despite their inauspicious beginnings and that their mother's life did improve.
However I rather fear for them.
It'd be good to see if we could discover what did happen.

Best wishes,


Site Admin
Posts: 5592
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:47 am
Location: France

Re: A Troublesome Priest Transferred.

Post by SarahND » Mon Nov 04, 2019 6:43 pm

Sounds like they had a rollicking good time at the meeting of the Greenock Parochial Board :roll:

He arrived, as he said in one of his letters, on the ship John R Skiddy from Liverpool, on 25 June 1845. He is on the first page of the manifest, as “Rev. Jno Scalan.” He says he is age 27 (can he be that young?) a Rome(?) Priest, and that he comes from Ireland and intends to become an inhabitant of the United States.

It is such a common name that I don’t know how to identify him later, once he had been “deposed from the priesthood” as he supposedly was. One thing we can be sure of, is that he would not have remained single long and possibly had families in several different locations...

Best wishes,

Post Reply