THE ELOPING VICAR
A scandal has been caused by the disappearance of the
Rev. Albert Knight, Vicar of Christ Church Hunslet, Yorkshire.
Mrs. Knight stated that her husband fell from the cliffs at Flamborough Head,
which are 450ft. high, but other persons stated that he was seen later walking on
The chief constable of Leeds states that the Rev. Mr. Knlght has sent a message
to him, stating that he was not dead, but had left the country under an assumed
name. It is believed that he has gone to Australia.
The missing clergyman was a popular cricketer, footballer, and boxer.
He had lately, treated his wife violently, and behaved queerly.
On January 18 he compelled her to accompany him to Bridlington, where
they camped, and then walked six miles through rain and fog to a dangerous cliff
at Flamborough Head. He told her that he intended to disappear, carefully prepared,
the scene of his disappearance, left his umbrella and camera on the cliff,
and left, after instructing his wife to go to the nearest farm-house and tell
the story that she had seen him fall over, the cliff. She was terrorised, and
It is believed that he sailed by the R.M.S. Ballarat, accompanied by a school
teacher, both travelling under assumed names. His wife knew nothing of his
intentions or of his relations with,the school teacher.
The missing man is described as a highly strung, emotional preacher of the
revivalist type, who had raised his congregation from 20 to 600.
The marked attentions he had paid to the school teacher, whose name was
Fanny Grimes, had caused gossip, and divided the congregation into two groups.
It has been ascertained that Knight went from Flamborough Head direct to a
farm in Sussex, where he had been staying since October with the object
of learning poultry farming prior to emigrating. On January
22 he had his hair cut unusually short, Miss Grimes participated in a crusade
which Knight waged against ihe white slave traffic, her position in a clothing
factory being useful for the purpose.
ELOPING VICAR ARRIVES. REPAYS THE 10 pound "ASSISTED PASSAGE " AND
INTENDS TO GO ON THE LAND.
The arrival of the steamer Port Lincoln was anxiously awaited yesterday,
not only because she had nearly 600 nominated and assisted immigrants
for Victoria, but because among these were the Rev. Albert Knight
and Miss Grimes. The cables have kept the Australian public informed
of the circumstances under which this pair left England.
Mr. Knight, was vicar of Christ Church, Hunslet, Leeds.
On January 18th he and his wife visited Bridlington. Lincoln, Yorkshire,
walked six miles over muddy roads and in foggy weather, and were seen
in Flamborough Village together at 4 o'clock.
The vicar was an amateur photographer, and clambered down the steep
cliff of Flamborough Head.
From that moment he disappeared, and it was , reported that he
had met with a fatal accident.
A little later three men. who were described as trustworthy by their employers,
stated that they saw Mr. Knight about half an hour after the time at which
the accident was reported to have happened.
A reward of £10 was offered for the recovery of his body, and the
curate of the church, not only preached a memorial sermon, but
inserted some affecting notes in the "Church Monthly Journal."
Various circumstances afterwards, came to light, as the result of
which Mrs. Knight was interviewed. She then admitted that she knew
that her husband had hot been killed. but; that he had gone away with
a Miss Grimes, a school teacher with whom it was known that he had
formed a friendship.
Further investigations showed that he had booked two-assisted
passages, at the Victorian Government Agency for a Mr. and Mrs. Herbert
Knight He also lodged with Sir John Taverner some £370 for transmission
to Melbourne, stating that he was going on the land. This news was
conveyed to the captain of the Port Lincoln, upon which the pair sailed,
by wireless message. It was only communicated, however, to the chief steward.
The couple occupied a double berth cabin.
Upon arrival at Capetown the local journals published full particulars of
the facts and the general passengers were therefore informed of them.
On the voyage to Capetown Mr. Knight had made himself exceedingly popular,
singing at the ship's concerts, taking the chair at one, and making a
speech whenever it was necessary.
After leaving Capetown a number of the passengers held aloof from the
couple, but with the others they remained as popular as ever. They were
not so much in evidence, but at a mock Parliament which was promoted,
Mr. "King" made a speech in support of a Woman's Suffrage Bill, which
had been introduced by the "Government of the Day." His eloquence was
so great that the Bill was carried with hardly a dissentient voice.
For the most part, however. he kept himself to himself, conversing only
with Miss Grimes and with another passenger who had had agricultural
experience. Mr. Knight took something like daily lessons in the art of farming.
The Port, Lincoln was not signalled until 9.20 a.m. She came up the bay
by the south channel, and anchored off the Gellibrand Lighthouse about
SLIPS OFF AT WILLIAMSTOWN
The first Australians to board any incoming vessel are
the quarantine officers. No one is-allowed to board or to land, from
the vessel until these have granted her pratique. The inspection of
the 700 or 800 persons on board, occupied about an hour and a half.
At the end of that time Mr. Bramwell, the chief boarding officer of
the Immigration Department, went off to her in a launch.
He saw Mr. Knight and told him that the Government had decided that
if the difference between the assisted passages and the full fares
was paid that he and Miss Grimes would be allowed to land
where and when they liked, but that otherwise he had instructions to
keep them on board. Mr. Knight at once paid the amount they had been
advanced by the Agent-General £10.
The Immigration Department then washed its hands of the couple.
Permission had been given by the agents of the ship for them to
leave before the Port Lincoln was taken up the river, and they
immediately went ashore in the launch carrying the doctors, and
were landed at Williamstown. Their subsequent destination was not stated.
On leaving the ship, Mr, Knight was dressed in a pepper and salt suit,
and a dark bowler hat.
During the voyage he had grown, a fair moustache which, however, had
not made much headway. Miss Grimes was gowned in a navy blue tailor
made dress trimmed with green facings. She also wore a toque trimmed
with a white feather and purple velvet bow.
As the launch put off from the side they waved their handkerchiefs and
kissed their hands to those remaining on board, appearing quite cheerful
Miss Grimes is rather handsome, and apparently about 30 years of age.
According to the passengers Mr. King was very popular on the voyage.
Before leaving the boat, Knight in a statement to the captain, said
that Miss Grimes had done great work in respect to rescuing girls in
Leeds. The records of the National Vigilance Association would show
that for his work in this connection he had been specially
thanked. He had in cooperation with Miss Grimes, saved a very large
number of women and girls from a terrible fate.
The nature of this work, and Miss Grimes' co-operation with him,
was in a sense compromising that slanderous tongues began to work.
Eventually he was told that his work in this direction must cease,
or that his capacity for good work in the Church would be ruined.
This was conveyed to him indirectly from the Church authorities,
and the ruin of their reputation so weighed upon him that it overcame
all other considerations, and to prevent the impending ruin he took
the step he had taken.
If he carries out his original intentions the ex-vicar will breed poultry.
To the Agent-General in London he called himself Mr. King. and wrote
from a poultry farm of a somewhat extensive character and of undoubted
He satisfied the officers of the Emigration Department that he had been an
industrious student of poultry farming for a fairly long period, and backed
up his confidence in his capacity to follow that occupation in Victoria by
offering to put down a cash deposit of between £300 and £400.
Both Mr. King and Mrs. King attended at the office personally, and by
their appearance and demeanor convinced the officers of the Emigration
Department that they were of an eminently respectable class and of
exceptional physical and general qualifications.
Medical certificates were insisted upon according to the regulations
and these certificates being, of course, satisfactory,
there was no hesitation on the part of the Agent General's Department
in giving, an assisted passage to emigrants who were not only able to
supply evidence of their practical experience of poultry farming, but
were able to furnish substantial guarantees in the form of a £350 deposit.
Now a word from the press
Thursday. 13 March 1913
THE VICAR OF LEEDS
Mr. and Mrs. Herbert King, said to be known at Leeds as the Rev. Mr. Knight and Miss Grimes,
arrived by the Port Lincoln, at Melbourne, on Monday. On demand by a Government official the
amount paid to them as assisted immigrants was refunded, and the couple landed in a separate
From an English newspaper just to hand we take the followinig reference to the disappearance
of the Rev.Albert Knight: NO CLUE TO THE FLAMBOROUGH MYSTERY.
Saturday. 15th March. 1913
It is believed that the Rev. Albert Knight and Miss Fanny Grimes, who arrived by
the s.s. Port Lincoln on Monday, have taken lodgings in a quiet street in South Yarra.
Much of their time is apparently spent indoors. They appear to have made some friends, who visit them.
Even the New Zealand papers picked up the story
THE FLAMBOROUGH MYSTERY
Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Volume VIII, Issue 412, 8 April 1913, Page 7.
In an interview at Bolton (Lancashire) with Mrs Knight's parents the latter made some interesting revelations connected with the elopement of their son with the woman Grimes. The father stated that on December 20 last his son and daughter-in-law came to Bolton to see him on his 70th birthday. They went back on the Saturday night, and nothing further was heard of them until Sunday, January 19, when the following telegram was received from Mrs Knight:
Albert and I here for day yesterday. Albert had serious accident. Let parents know. Writing.
The following day (Monday) there arrived a letter from Mrs Knight. This(with certain matters of a private nature omitted) was as follows:
My dear mother, daddy, and all,
You will have got my telegram telling you of Albert's accident. But how can I tell you the worst? Yesterday we came over to Bridlington and Flamborough for the day, to look round, thinking we would bring Sonny over for a few days, and, as Albert has suffered so much with his head and dizziness lately, and I have had a severe cold and a touch of bronchitis, we thought a few days would set us all up before Lent came and Sonny began school again. We went over to the cliffs, as Albert wanted to take a flashlight photograph of the sea and cliffs, and after having done so, when turning, he either slipped or turned dizzy, and fell over, and oh, mother and daddy how can I tell you ? — we have not found him yet. It is the most dangerous part of the cliffs down here, and drops sheer down into the sea. I am nearly beside myself wondering about little Sonny at home, and know not what to do for the best. . . . I feel I cannot tear myself away from this place. It is foggy out at sea, and the sound of the foghorns nearly drives me mad. Try to be brave, mother and daddy, for you know he would wish that, and perhaps you will come to me at Leeds when I let you know I am home again.
Your brokenhearted daughter,
P.S. This time at Bridlington nothing has been heard.
Subsequently there came a telegram asking the family to "go to Leeds. This they did, and on the following Saturday the father and his son and daughter again journeyed to Leeds, ahd attended the memorial service. Meanwhile Mrs Albert. Knight had been seen by a doctor and a detective, and had confessed that her story about her husband's fall over the cliffs was false. She was advised to tell the family, and at the week-end they again went from Bolton to Leeds. After tea she called Mr Knight, sen., into another room, and said, "It is a long tale, but I must tell you. Don't be vexed with me. I could not help it. But Albert is not dead. He is alive, and gone to Australia," Asked why she did not tell sooner, she said, " I was afraid to do so." Her husband, she said, had attempted to take her life a time or two. After that she told the rest of the family, who were at the vicarage.
In the course of doing so, Mrs Knight said she related how her husband went down the cliffs and up the other side, and so got away. She waited half an hour to give him a start. He waved his hand to her, and she acknowledged it. It was further stated that the vicar's box had been packed quite a week prior to his departure. His parents knew nothing absolutely as to his mental derangement, but he had led such a good life, and done such good work, that they could not possibly think of any other cause for such peculiar actions. His father says that Mr Knight had behind his head a big dent, caused by the motor accident some five years ago. When he was last in Bolton he was lively enough, but his eyes seemed set and strange. He was not in any financial trouble. The mother said she said to Mrs Knight, (Rose), "We love you as one of our own. Why didn't you tell us before?" But apparently there was no reply. The mother added: "I made up my mind when they were married that I would be a mother to her, and not a mother-in-law.
A Whited Sepulchre.
It now transpires that a couple of months before the flight, it was some time last summer, Mr Knight was actually confronted with allegations of wrong-doing by his own church officials, but his "reply was that he supposed it all arose out of his efforts to stop the evils of the white slave traffic. He declared that Miss Grimes was simply helping him in his work, by taking notes of the conditions existent m the factories. "This explanation,"said the people's churchwarden " was accepted, but not unanimously."
Questioned as to Mr Knight's relationship with Fanny Grimes, Miss Suffield declared that she had been Fanny's friend and confidant for eight years, and she implicitly believed that there was nothing wrong between the vicar and her chum before the girl left Leeds. They Avere a great deal m one another's company, I know, because I was very often with them. She seemed to think a great deal about him, but I don't believe she was m love with him. He treated me just as he treated her, and I was not' m love with him, although I esteemed and honored him highly. She went to Bridlington on her doctor's orders. That is true. But after she went down to Ashurst there was a change. I corresponded with her, and addressed my letters to her as Mrs King, care of Mr Hodges, Knowle Poultry Farm, Heathfield. I revived many letters from her, and I know that he was living with her there as his wife. Meanwhile, Mrs Knight was at Nottingham. At weekends he came home to perform his duties. During the week he did not go, as was supposed, to visit his wife! Indeed, he could not, and as a matter of fact he went to Ashurst. When he was in Leeds Fanny sent her letters for him enclosed in/envelopes addressed to me, and he came and met me so that I could give him them. I have had a terrible time. Mrs Knight and myself were the only two people who knew the true story, and with everybody talking about it, it has 'nearly driven me crazy. Only last night, in the car, I heard people talking and saying that Fanny's chum ought to say what she knew, as she was bound to know all about it. Even now that I have told the truth I feel afraid. I wish I had never known anything about it at all.
Cruel Taunts in the Workshops
The Vicar of Leeds (Dr Bickersteth), preaching, at the Good Shepherd Mission Church on February 2, said he well knew the storm of ridicule and taunts to which many of those present were being exposed at workshops and factories owing to the terrible occurrence in connection with the neighboring parish, of Christ Church, Meadow Lime. Sorrow and sin invariably brought out the worst and the best in human nature; and it might well strengthen some young lad or girl to bear bravely reproach for Christ's sake and the sneers directed against Christians, if he told them that he personally, had been more touched than he could, say at the expressions of sympathy which had reached him during the last 24 hours from all kinds and conditions of men and women in Leeds. From the Lord Mayor of Leeds, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, the President of the Free Church Council, and other leading men of the city down to many a humble neighbor had come the assurance of true sympathy with the Church. In particular the President of the Leeds Congregational Council had written him the following letter, which had reached him : We desire to express through you to the clergy of Leeds our real sympathy in the sorrow which has befallen you. We sympathise with you very deeply in this defection, which brings distress not to you only but to all who are jealous for the honor of the Church of Christ. We assure you that very many today feel for you in this sad situation, and desire to extend to you their brotherly sympathy. Many outside your own communion will pray for you.