Letter by Benjamin Hoadley (1676-1761), Bishop of Salisbury, to the Reverend Mr Kay of Fittleton, in Wiltshire.

This is a true copy of the Bishop of Sarum's Letter to Mr Kay concerning non-residence. The letter itself is left with Mr Coster my curate.

July 4th 1728

Dear Sir,

I am heartily sorry that you have so just an excuse for your non-residence, as you have, from so much illness and so bad a state of body. I pray God restore you to a better. I should most gladly have sent you the Dispensation you desire, in due form, did I not apprehend that it would, in your case, be of the least force; and in me would look like an attempt of an irregularity. For, as you are living in a Rectory and not a Vicarage, you took no oath of recidence at Institution as vicars do; in which oath the Salvo of the Bishop's dispensation is alwaies expressed. A Rectory therefore, as I at present understand the matter, is not at all helpd by the Bishop's dispensation, not at all hurt, for want of it, but must stand or fall by the particular Laws of the Land wich affect Rectors of Parishes particularly. It cannot enter into my heart, that any man, or Body of men, can be so wicked as to give you any of the least Molestation. I think it must be something worse than Humane Malice, that can attempt to hurt so worthy a man in the decline of his Life, after so long a course of care and diligence in his care. For my selfe, I will only say that I think it your Duty for you to look after your health, according to the directions of your Physician. I do heartily approve of your design of doing so, and of your non-residence, which you shall find necessary for that purpose, and for the other very good and charitable purpose you mention.

And should any Persons be so wicked as to attempt to give you the least Unkindness, I assure you, I will be alwaies ready to testify in publick this my approbation of your non-residence, and to joine in defending you against all such unjust attacks. And therefore Sir I beg of you to be easy in the Method of Life you are now going into, out of necessity and not of choice; and to take all possible care of your health; with assurance that the Law would relieve any person so attacked, in the case you are in, of old Age, and bad health.

I entreat you to give my service to Mr Coker when you see him, with my thanks for his Letter; and to believe me with a more than comon respect, to be, Dear Sir,

your very affectionate Brother and servnt

B Sarum