The parishioners, violently excited at the time about the law of patronage, received him with open hostility; and tradition asserts that his uncle defended him on the pulpit stair with a drawn sword.
Hawker described the bulk of his parishioners as a "mixed multitude of smugglers, wreckers and dissenters of various hues."
The church is cruciform and the altar stands beneath the eastern lantern arch, a fine rood screen separating off the choir, which was devoted to monastic use, while the nave was kept for the parishioners, in consequence of a dispute between the vicar and the monastery in 1499.
He was sued for libel for printing a rebuke to some of his parishioners who had travestied the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; and after several years in the courts he was ordered to pay damages of £150, which was raised by his parishioners.
A protest was at once signed and published by a large number of his parishioners against the prosecution.