©St Neots Local History Society
last updated 4 Dec 2010
The final plaque of 2009 was unveiled to GEORGE CORNELIUS GORHAM (1787-1857), who produced our first written history, entitled History and Antiquities of Eynesbury and St Neot’s in Huntingdonshire and of St Neots in the County of Cornwall. It was initially published in 1820, and reissued with a second additional volume in 1824.
Gorham’s main claim to importance lies not so much in his local history writing as in what became known as ‘the Gorham Controversy’, something that rocked the Church of England and led to a number of high Anglicans converting to Roman Catholicism. It crystallised the growing rift between the evangelical and tractarian wings of the church over the nature of baptism. In 1847 the Bishop of Exeter, Henry Phillpotts, refused to induct Gorham as vicar of the small, rural parish of Brampford Speke in Devon claiming that he was unsound doctrinally. Gorham appealed against this and the case dragged on for four years with appeals to the Court of Arches and the Privy Council, before the final verdict went in Gorham’s favour. The costs had been enormous and the volume of articles and books that it gave rise to was huge. The Norris Museum holds a substantial collection of these.
Gorham was vicar of Brampford Speke for seven years, during which time the church was rebuilt. There is a marble memorial to him on the east wall of the transept.
The plaque is to be found on 22 Market Square, the house in which George Cornelius Gorham was born. It was unveiled on Friday, 23rd October 2009, by David Bushby, President of St Neots Local History Society.