THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: School master takes legal action against Protestant minister

From the News Letter, January 6, 1869

Wednesday, 6th January 2021, 6:00 am

The News Letter on this day in 1869 reported on “novel case” which had been heard at the Markethill Quarter Sessions. The case had been taken by Mr George McDonald who was a teacher in a school at Mullavilly in Co Armagh against the Rev Dr Charles Henry Groves.

The News Letter reported that Mr McDonald had taken the legal action in order to recover £12 “being for two years’ salary for teaching and instructing the children of the Sunday school at the defendant’s request, up to and ending June 17 last [1869], and for work, labour and services done and rendered by the plaintiff as a school-master for the defendant at his request”.

During testimonies the Rev Groves said that he was unaware of Sunday school teachers being paid.

Main Street, Markethill, Co Armagh. Picture: News Letter archives

He said: “I have a good deal of experience and I have never heard of Sunday school teachers being paid. What I had said to the plaintiff and his daughter was that I was unwilling to hold out to them any inducements beyond those contained in the appointment, but I was sure if they conducted themselves properly the emoluments would be increased.”

After listening to the three testimonies the judge delivered his judgment.

The News Letter reported it as follows: “His Worship did not think there was a specific contract proved, and as the services were such as were not usually paid for, the plaintiff not having made any demand on the several occasions he was receiving his salary as clerk, he [the judge] would dismiss the case on the merits.”