Historical Notes on Sowerby Church
By Graptolite

The following extracts are from an exercise book found in Halifax library by Sue Johnson.

It contains a number of newspaper cuttings, and the text it sounds to have been written about 1879.

Historical Notes on Sowerby Church – Part 1

Built on the ridge of a rising eminence, Sowerby Church, with its massive masonry, is a prominent object from many points of view. Being equidistant from the converging valleys of the Calder and of Ryburne, whose waters join about a mile below in the rising "Venice of the Vale", the lofty fabric stands like a sentinel, guarding these two approaches to the neighbouring town. The position is commanding. Looking eastward is a long stretch of diversified scenery. At the foot of the hill is the prosperous town of Sowerby Bridge, where woollen, cotton, worsted, iron and other raw materials are worked up and adapted for the wants of man in many parts of the world. And beyond its boundary, marked by clusters of mill chimneys, the Calder is seen as it escapes into the green fields, and leaps over the dam stones, passing by the old corn mill, near which Laurence Sterne passed a portion of his youthful days; onward by the model village of Copley, with its Gothic church, winding by North Dean Wood till the hill in front prevents a further view. Standing in the churchyard, to the right is seen the rugged heights of Norland, and the church at Greetland; to the left the fairest portion of the "good old town," with the Octagon Tower in bold relief; and the Crossley Orphan Home in its fair proportions is distinctly seen. Looking westward, wild moors, covered with heather bound the horizon, whilst a nearer view to right and left reveals the grassy slopes of cultivated farms, belts of woodland, with here and there some ancient mansion. Such are the surroundings, though faintly portrayed, of St Peter's Church, Sowerby. Before dealing directly with the Church, it may not be uninteresting to mention some facts connected with the locality, as it is intimately associated with the history of the district.

It may be that the inhabitants of this wild district had a name and habitation even in Roman times, for in a letter printed in the second edition of Leland's Itinerary are mentioned several Roman coins discovered at Sowerby, a little above the town, nigh the highway, and some of them were given to Mr Richardson, of North Bierley, the author of the letter, viz., one of Nerva, one of Vespian, one of Trojan, and one of Hadrian, all of silver, and well preserved. Watson, in his History of Halifax, says that

the late Mr Richard Cooke, of Halifax, showed me a silver coin, in good preservation, which his father has told him was found at Sowerby

Watson thinks these coins were found a little below the town, in a place ever since called the Silver field. The site of an old fort or castle at the head of the village has been thought to be Roman, though it is not known when it was built or destroyed. On its site Castle Farm is yet standing. The road leading from Sowerby down to the Calder near Luddendenfoot is called Finkle street, a name common enough at Roman stations. Part of the old road from Sowerby Bridge to Sowerby is called Sowerby street. The following is a memorandum made in 1831, by the Rev W. H. Bull, a former vicar of Sowerby:

There is no doubt the old Roman road from Manchester over Blackstone Edge (part of which still remained paved) passing through Sowerby, down Sowerby street, up Bolton Brow, called the Causeway, through Halifax, passed by Lightcliffe on to other Roman stations in Yorkshire.


As additional evidence the Rev W H Bull gives the following:

In a field opposite this chapel (Lightcliffe Old Church) in 1827, as a labourer was digging for stone, he found a Roman urn containing several hundred Roman Consular coins of Julius Augustus, and Caius Caesar, &c., and several British coins of Boadicea. About forty of these are in my possession.


NB – Several of the same consular coins, with the same reverses, were found in 1832 at Felixstowe, in Suffolk, now in the possession of Mr Fitch, Ipswich.

It is known from old records that soon after the Conquest, Sowerby was a manor, forest, or free chase, severed from the manor of Wakefield, and part of the possessions of the Earls of Warren. It had a castle therein and contained

many great wastes, woods, mountains and hills, stored with wild and savage beasts, stags, bucks, does, wild boars, and other beasts of venerie

The forest was confined to what is now Sowerby, Erringden, and probably Warley; but the Earls of Warren had also a right to hunt in the neighbouring townships. The lords of the manor appointed foresters or keepers for the preservation of their game and wild beasts, and often went there for the pleasure of hunting. It appears, from a manuscript in Watson's possession, that in 1287 (16 Edward 1.) Geppe de Dene was elected forester in Sowerbyshire. The same years divers men were taken and imprisoned for beating and wounding Ralph, one of the foresters, in Sowerbyshire, and were fined 10/6d and found sureties body for body, if the said forester died before the arrival of the earl. Several men in Sowerbyshire were present when the forester was wounded, but they pretended not to know who wounded him, therefore they were all attached. Two men were fined because they refused to be foresters in Sowerbyshire. In 1306, Roger, the Vicar of Rochdale, was amerced in 20s for hunting and killing deer in Sowerbyshire. What a contrast between the Sowerby of today and Sowerby of the Conqueror's time, when these tracts of forest land were the resort of the wild boar, the stag, and other beasts, when only a few cleared spaces were cultivated, and when the people lived in comparative seclusion in wood huts, and managed to grow a few oats, which they made into bread. Before the Norman conquest, the houses contained, as a rule, but one room, spacious, but scantily furnished. There was little in them besides a few benches, some wooden chests, and a heavy table, used as a bedstead at night. The beds were bas stuffed with straw. The fire was placed in the centre of the floor, and logs of wood were used for fuel. The smoke had to get out as best it could, for there was no chimney. Drinking horns and wooden spoons were then used. But as the Normans settled in different parts of the country, many improvements were introduced, and Sowerby became an important place, and the ground was gradually cleared and brought under cultivation. Erringden was a park belonging to the lord of the manor, and taken out of Sowerby, and when Erringden began to be inhabited, there was no church at Sowerby, so that it was included in the parochial chapelry of Heptonstall. In 1314, there were 40 officers or servants of the lord of the manor in Sowerby, called graves, and these 40 graves were appointed to collect the lord's rents. So that even at that early date, there must have been a considerable number of occupiers of land and buildings, to have found work for forty such rent collectors. The survey of the manor in 1314, says that in the graveship of Sowerby, Will. De Towend, for his lands was bound to grind at the mill of Soland (Soyland), at the 20th vessel, to assist in making the eldest son of the lord a knight, in marrying his eldest daughter, and shall go out hawking with the lord as often as he shall come thither. There was in the forest an iron forge.

As to the religious worship in the forest of Sowerbyshire in ancient days, not much is known. There formerly was in existence a rough stone pillar, nearly six feet high, called the Standing Stone. Watson mentions this pillar and says it might have been an idol of the heathen inhabitants, or the burial place of some great person. This remarkable specimen of antiquity was ruthlessly destroyed and broken up within the last 50 years and the stone was used for two cottages, which were built on the site.

It is not positively known when the first church in Sowerby was erected. The present fabric was built in 1762 – only 117 years ago – when a former church had become very dilapidated. The former was not the earliest place of worship erected by the Church of England, for, (says Walton) "At White Windows, in Sowerby, is an original agreement, dated May 25th, 1622, to tax Blackwood, Sowerby; and Westfield quarters, £40 each towards enlarging, re-edifying, and beautifying the chapel at Sowerby Town." Wright, in his history of Halifax, says this chapel is of no older date than the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's reign. But this statement is shown to be incorrect by Watson, who remarks; "It is certain that it was in being before December 30th 1592, 35 Elizabeth for one Robert Wade, of Sowerby, whose will bears that date had surrendered £4 yearly out of his lands, to feoffees, in trust, that the same should be distributed to the poor of Sowerby, by the minister for the time being." It is also reasonable to suppose that in 1622 the Church must have been a moderately old one, or it would not have been found necessary to enlarge and rebuild it so soon. A deposition extracted from Dod's MSS, states that on the 1st day of July, 1580

Edward Firth, late of Toothill, born at Ryponden, of the age of 93 years, saith that he hath seen Sowerby Church and Ryboden Chapel to build

One Adam Morris, is said to have been curate in Sowerby in 1572, and the probability is that the church had not been in existence many years before that date, because in the first license for the celebration of masses and other divine offices in St Mary's chapel, Luddenden, it is stated that the inhabitants of Midgley, Sowerby and Warley erected at their own expense a chapel in the vale of Luddenden. The license is dated 1496. It is not likely that a church had been erected at Sowerby at that time, or it inhabitants would not have shared with Warley and Midgley the expense of building a chapel in Luddenden. Therefore, Sowerby Church would be erected about the middle of the Sixteenth Century.

In January 1626, the inhabitants of Sowerby made an application to have their chapel endowed with parochial rights, so that they would not be compelled to come from the top of Sowerby to the Halifax Parish church, when a couple wanted to be married, or for the purpose of a christening or burial. The original paper declares that the chapel of Sowerby was situated in a mountainous country, above three miles from its Parish church, at Halifax, by reason whereof some of the inhabitants of the same chapelry, dwelling five or six miles off (through foul and craggy ways) from the said church, were upon occasions of christenings, weddings and burials, put to great and extraordinary pains in travelling to and from the said church, which labour they might well be eased and much expense saved, if the said chapel could be procured to be a district parish church of itself, and endowed with parochial rights. But these efforts of the Sowerby people were not successful, and for another half century had the people to go over the foul and Craggy ways to Halifax, to christen an infant or bury the dead. The roads of those days would bear no comparison with the modern turnpike, and were not at all adapted for vehicular traffic, which would be a lot unknown in Sowerbyshire though a fair amount of business was done, carriage being effected by means of pack horses. The first coach used in England was in 1585. In 1639, John Taylor wrote a book under the title of "News from Hell, Hull, and Halifax" in which he tells us that having left Halifax

he rode over such wayes, as were past comparison, or amending, for when he went downe the lofty mountaine called Blackstone Edge, he thought himself in the land of Break Neck

No wonder he thus wrote, for the roads were narrow and rugged, often taking up the steepest part of the hills, and Sowerby could show several examples. Well might this traveller in later days make use of the couplet:

If you had seen these roads before they were made,
You'd lift up your hands and bless General wade.

Historical Notes on Sowerby Church – Part 2

The state of the roads in Sowerbyshire in 1639, was referred to in the last chapter, and there is no doubt that the tops of these hills of which Sowerby forms a spur, must have been almost devoid of anything like a good road, the "breakneck" way over Blackstone Edge perhaps being the best In the "Memoirs of a Cavalier," supposed to have been written by De Foe, the author refers to the district. Describing the escape of a number of the Royalists, after the battle of Marston Moor into Lancashire, where they were discovered, he says:

I took about eighty horse with me, among which were all that I had of my own regiment, amounting to above 32, and took the hills towards Yorkshire. Here we met with such unpassable hills, vast moors, rocks and stony ways, as lamed all our horses, and tired our men; and sometimes I was ready to think we should never be able to get over them, till our horses failing, and jackboots being but indifferent thing to travel in, we might be starved before we should find any road or towns, for guide we had none, but a boy who knew but little, and would cry when we asked him any questions. I believe neither men nor horses ever passed in some places where we went and for twenty hours we saw not a town nor a house, excepting sometimes from the top of the mountains, at a vast distance. I am persuaded we might have encamped here, if we had had provisions till the war had been over, and have met with no disturbance; and I have often wondered since, how we got into such horrible places, as much as how we got out. That which was worse to us than all the rest was, that we knew not where we were going, nor what part of the country we should come into. When we came out of these desolate crags. At last, after a terrible fatigue, we began to see the western parts of Yorkshire, some few villages and the country at a distance looked a little like England *** Halifax, they told us was on our right; there we durst not think of going *** Manchester's horse, which were sent after our party were then at Halifax in quest of us

During Mr Morris's term of office a Sowerbyite suffered the rigours of the Halifax Gibbet Law.

James Smyth, de Sowerby, was headed at Halyfax, 12th of February, 1574

Smyth was not the first, nor yet the last who thus paid the penalty for his misdoings. The very first mentioned in the register books at Halifax is

Ricus Bentley, de Sowerby decollat 20 die Martii 1541

Out of the forty nine who thus suffered the extreme penalty six are mentioned as from Sowerby. The last two named were John Wilkinson and Anthony Mitchell of Sowerby, who were convicted at Halifax of having on Tuesday, the 19th of April 1650, feloniously taken from the tenters of Samuel Colbeck, of Warley, 16 yards of russet coloured kersey. Abraham Wilkinson and Anthony Mitchell were also charged with having taken off from Durker-green, Sandal, two colts, on the 17th day of April 1650; and the former with having feloniously taken off the tenters at Brearley Hall a whole kersey piece. These two were sentenced "to suffer death by having their heads severed and cut off from their bodies at Halifax Gibbet." And the sentence was carried out on Saturday (being market day), April 30th, 1650. It is said that this custom gave rise to the beggar's petition,

From Hell, Hull, and Halifax, good Lord deliver us

In 1583 Mr Adam Morris left Sowerby, going as chaplain to a regiment in Ireland. He was buried at Halifax, September 24th 1591.

A stone coffin is said to have been found in the vestry, during some alterations. There were no remains in it, and it was thought to have been the coffin of one or the incumbents. If that were so it must have been one who lived before Morris's time.

John Broadley was the next minister of Sowerby, and evidently he was a noted divine. It was during his ministry that the old chapel became too small and dilapidated for the accommodation of the people, and it was decided to rebuild and enlarge it. The contract for the woodwork was let to a Warley carpenter called Shepherd. What the cost of this work was cannot be stated, but on the day the contract was signed – the 25th of May, 1622 – an agreement was come to that the three quarters into which the township was divided – Blackwood, Sowerby, and Westfield, should be taxed £40 each. A curious story is related to Mr Broadley, It is said the while the chapel was building he preached thirteen Sundays on a dial stone in the chapel yard, without so much as a shower of rain to disturb him. This is rather different from a story told of Sowerby Bridge. On arriving at the railway station, a passenger asked a rustic what place was that to which the reply was given

Put yo'r hand out, and if it rains it's Sorby Brigg

The Rev J. Broadley married the daughter of Henry Priestley, of Good Greave, in Soyland, who was then the owner of that place. Mr Broadley died in 1625, on the 14th of February, and his wife only survived him 16 days. In the register at the Halifax Parish Church he is called Pastor dignissimus, or most worthy pastor.

There is in the Parish Church, on a brass plate in the wall on the south side, the following inscription:

Mr Jo Broadley, late Minister at Sowerby Chapp., died Feb. 14, 1625, and Mary, his wife, also died March the 2nd, 1625, and here lie buried.

Here lies interr'd a zealous grave Divine,
Meek, loving, lov'd, only with sin at strife:
Who heard him saw life in his doctrine shine,
Who saw him, heard sound doctrine in his life;
And in the same cold bed here rests his Wife.
Nor are they dead, but sleep; for he ne'er dies
That waits for his sweet Saviour's word, Arise.

Amongst other papers and antiquarian lore collected by the late William Priestley, Esq., of Thorp Arch, and which afterward came into the possession of John Rawson, Esq., of Brockwell, was a poetical lament on the death of Mr Broadley, probably written soon after his death, and perhaps by one of the Priestley family, though no name is given. The poem, in three parts, was published in the Sowerby Magazine, edited by the Rev A L W Bean, in 1861. This quaint poetical effusion is too long for reproduction in a newspaper. It commences:

O! sinful Sowerby! Sorrow now,
They joyful days are done:
The time of trouble doth ensue,
Thy faithful friend is gone.

The preacher is delineated as a faithful pastor who published the Word in plainness and power. Though he did not parade his learning by using "a language strange of Hebrew, Greek, or Latin," yet by his excellent knowledge he was enabled to rightly divide the word of truth. His preaching and practice agreed. For 33 years he ministered to the people of Sowerby, and his presence was marked by gravity and grace. He denounced the superstitions of the Church of Rome, and was diligent in all his duties. In addition to preaching twice a Sunday, he had a short service spent in exposition.

During Mr Broadley's life, both the poor and the Church were remembered in the wills of several Sowerby people. In 1616, John Fourness left two cottages in Sowerby for the use of three poor men of Sowerby for ever. He also surrendered a messuage, garden, and four closes of land for the use of John Broadley, clerk, master of arts, and afterwards to the use of such persons as shall be masters of arts and a preacher at the chapel at Sowerby. If there happened to come a time when the preacher was not a master of arts, the money was to go to the heirs of Richard Brigg. Thomas Mitchell, of Sowerby, left £20 to be invested for the benefit of Mr Broadley and future preachers at Sowerby chapel, he also stipulating that the preacher must be a master of arts. A piece of ground was bought beneath Sowerby for the purpose mentioned. Thomas Mitchell also left £10 in trust to be lent to three poor handicrafts men in Blackwood quarter, Sowerby, without interest, but with security. By the will of Henry Haigh, of Sowerby, dated July 13th, 1634, 30½ acres of land was left for the benefit of the "Preacher of God's Word for the time being at the chapel of Sowerby aforesaid, being a master of arts," and preaching one sermon upon every second Wednesday in May, June, July, and August, the preacher to get 6/8d for each sermon. Thus the benefits have been insured to the inhabitants of Sowerby of having a minister who had received a university education.

Soon after the death of Broadley, a fruitless attempt was made to have the chapel endowed with parochial rights. The vicar of Halifax at the time was the Rev Robert Clay, DD. For some time afterwards the pulpit was occupied by strangers, as the verses of the above ancient bard of Sowerby seem to indicate.

In 1635, Nathaniel Rathband, MA, was the minister. Watson says that the endowment of Henry Haigh, amounting to 26/8d yearly, was withheld from Nathaniel Rathband for three years, notwithstanding the fact that he was a Master of Arts. Brearcliffe's MS. says the money was detained in 1651, by Samuel Foxcroft. However, this curate of Sowerby petitioned the Lord Keeper, Lord Littleton.

In 1643, the first interments are recorded in the register books, and yet Watson says that nothing was done till 1678. In a letter written by Dr Hook, vicar of Halifax to clear himself from being a traditor of the church's rights, he says

The inhabitants of Sowerby shall have liberty to bury their dead in the chapel, or chapel yard there, reserving for every burial the accustomed due of one penny to the vicar of Halifax, and to the clerk of Halifax twopence; and also to baptise their infants, reserving to the said vicar for each infant five pennies, and to the clerk at Halifax one penny; that no publication of marriage be but in Halifax church, nor any marriage of any inhabitant of Sowerby but in the said church; that the dues arising from Sowerby should be paid to the vicar quarterly, and that the churchwardens of Sowerby should attend, as formerly, the monthly meetings at Halifax, and contribute as before to all church dues

Thus, when Sowerby obtained these rights, the fees were ordered to be paid to the Vicar of Halifax, although the poor Curate of Sowerby did the work. The consent of Dr Hooke, dated October 8th, 1678, shows that the inhabitants of Sowerby petitioned the Archbishop of York mentioning

the great inconvenience and danger of bringing their dead to be buried and their infants to be baptised, unto Halifax, the Chapelry of Sowerby being three miles distant, and the greater part of the people living four or five miles from Halifax, and the way mountainous and uneasy

and very having obtained liberty from his Grace to bury their dead and baptise their children at Sowerby chapel. Dr Hooke gave his consent, on condition that the inhabitants of Sowerby should continue to pay, as they had done formerly, "all rights, dues, and customs to the Vicar and Church of Halifax, without diminution A close of land next to the Vicarage (the Vicarage was then the building adjoining to where Mr Saltonstall, the sexton, at present lives) was purchased by the inhabitants of Sowerby. This close was purchased of Nicholas Elberke, of Halifax, in 1668 for £31. The only explanation as to the Sowerby register of burials in 1643, is that the interments took place at Halifax. The first entries are as follows:

July 6 Mary wife of Samuell Hoyle, Milne bank buryed
November John Hoyle in Sourby towne
January James Hyhley of Hyley
John Wood, old John Wood in Sourby
Grace the wife of John Wood

In 1648, thirty burials are entered, and very likely these would be members of the most influential families in Sowerby.

Historical Notes on Sowerby Church – Part 3

Nathaniel Rathband, M A, who was known to have been a Presbyterian, was succeeded in 1645, by Henry Root, and the latter formed the first Congregational Church in Yorkshire, and that was at Sowerby Church. Roote was previously lecturer at the Halifax Parish Church. Brearcliffe's MS has the following:

Root came to Halifax, to be our minister, and went from us into Sowerby to dwell, 28th March, 1645. He is their minister unto this day

The period of Mr Root's appointment to the ministry at Sowerby was one of the most turbulent in the annals of the country, the kingdom being almost overwhelmed by civil and religious strife. It was only about nine months before his appointment when the Royalists sustained a terrible defeat at Marston Moor. Halifax itself was occupied by some of the Parliamentary forces, and Heptonstall by the Royalists about this time. At the beginning of the year (1645), a portion of the Scotch army were besieging Pontefract. A religious warfare was also being waged all over the country. On the 26th of the previous November, a new form of public worship, terms "The Directory" had Service, and for the Sacraments, allowed all the latitude in respect of ceremonies, gestures, and vestments, which the Puritans claimed. The Presbyterians denounced the Episcopalians, and threatened to extirpate Congregationalism.

It seems that Mr Root was born about 1590, and educated in Magdalene College, Oxford. In 1632, there was a design of placing him in the chapel of Denton in the parish of Manchester, where, however, Mr Angier was chosen, and Root was appointed to Gorton. In 1634, he baptised the daughter of Mr Angier, who afterwards became the wife of Oliver Heywood, the minister at Coley. Miall's "Congregationalism in Yorkshire," speaking of Sowerby, says "Congregationalism was established here in 1645 by Henry Root. This minister, who had travelled much in his younger years, had been for a time settled at Gorton, which place he left to become assistant minister at Halifax Parish Church. He afterwards removed to Sowerby. A controversy respecting Independency subsequently arose at Manchester. Samuel Eaton, just arrived from New England had learned there the principles of Independency, and became active in disseminating them at Duckinfield, his then residence. Root published, in 1646, "A Just Apologie for the Church at Duckinfield, which appears to have been intended to rebut some attacks made on Independency in Edwards" 'Gangraena Roots' 'gathered church' was formed whilst he was holding the (now Episcopal)  incumbency at Sowerby. It represented not a building, but a spiritual society. The formation of this society was, however, extremely distasteful to the Presbyterians. They not only remonstrated against Root's view of church order and discipline, but when his society advanced to the election of deacons, they instigated some of the inhabitants to close the church doors on Sunday, that the proceedings might not take place. And, when, on the following Lord's Day, the pastor exhorted the people to stand by each other in defence of their rights, as Abraham did by Lot, and Moses by the Hebrew captives, they tortured his meaning into an argument for armed resistance."

Amongst other important and influential members of Mr Root's Church, were Joshua Horton, Esq. JP, of Sowerby Hall; Mr Josiah Stansfield, Mr Richard Bentley, father of the Rev Eli Bentley, minister at the Halifax Parish Church; Mr Robert Tillotson, father of Archbishop Tillotson, and others.

Turning to the registers for this period the following occur, amongst others:

1650 Jany 27 Sarah Tilson buryed at Hallifax
1651 Jan 3 Wife of Mark Stansfield
1652 Oct 26 Elizabeth daughter of Mr Henry Root, Minister
Oct 27 John Farrar buried
1654 July 15 Richard Tillitson buried
July 20 Abraham Rawson the older
1656? June 25 John the son of John Mitchell of Fieldhouse

Sowerby seems to have been not at all unfavourable to the labours of the Nonconforming ministers in the church, at this time, for we are told that Oliver Heywood, who was a great friend of Mr Root, held a lecture every Thursday, for several years, at the house of one Samuel Hopkinson, at the Stubbing, in Sowerby, for which he had a consideration. At a later portion of his life, Heywood wrote to Mrs Hannah Stansfeld, in Sowerby. "I have now been above fifty years labouring in the Lord's vineyard, studying, praying, and preaching, at home and abroad, travelling where Providence hath called, and have arrived well towards two years beyond the age of man; now, at last, I am incapacitated for travel, not only with age, but a very shortness of breathing called the asthma, so that I am confined much to mine own house, only can study, preach in my chapel, and exercise myself in writing books and sermons for those that desire them."

In 1649, Mr John Tillotson (who subsequently became Archbishop of Canterbury) wrote from his college at Cambridge, to Mr Root, as follows:

For his much respected friend, Mr Roote, att Sorbey, are these. Hr. In Yorkshire.

To excuse the slownes and infrequency of writeing, is growne a thing soe complementall and common in the frontispeece of every letter, that I have made choice rather to put myselfe upon your candor to frame an excuse for mee then goe about my selfe to doe it. I cannot but thankefully acknowledge my engagements to you for your kindness showne to mee, both when I was in the country, and at other times; I shall not here let my pen run out into complementall lines, gratitude (and that as much as may bee) being all that I desire to expresse. As for University affayres, things as they was before I came into the country, only wee have lesse hopes of procuring Mr Tho. Goodwin for our Master then wee then had. Wee are in expectation of the Visitors every day, but what will bee done at their comming wee cannot guesse. The Engagement is either comming downe hither, or (as I heare)  already come, to which how soone wee shall bee called upon to subscribe, wee knowe not; as for myselfe, I do not (for present) at all scruple the taking of it, yet, because I dare not confide too much to my owne judgement or apprehension of things, and because matters of such serious consequence require no little caution and consideration, therefore I shall desire you (as soone as with convenience you can) to returne mee your opinion of it in two or three lines. Mr Rich. Holbrooke desired me to present his respects to you and your wife, to whom also I desire you to present my best respects, as also to your son Joh. Hopkinson, and his wife, Noe more, but your prayers for him who remaines,

Yours whilst

Clare Hall, Dec. 6, 1649.

What was the answer given by Mr Root is not known, but as Mr Root was one of the Puritans, it is probable that he would not dissuade Mr Tillotson from complying with that Engagement, which was an act substituted in the room of the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and was ordered to be taken by every one who held either office or benefice.

The Act of Uniformity came in 1662, but Henry root continued to preach for half a year after St Bartholomew's Day, when he was dragged out of his chapel and sent to York Castle, where he continued for three months.

Mr Root's son, Timothy Root, was the minister at Sowerby Bridge. He, too, was ejected from Sowerby Bridge. It is said

he was dragged out of the chapel, taken to York, kept close prisoner, put into the low gaol with twelve thieves, and had double irons on him four days and nights. He was twice a prisoner, and the whole of his confinement was near twelve months

But the "chapel" here mentioned was not Sowerby Bridge Church, for in Oliver Heywood's diary, under date August 28th, 1678, it is stated that "the younger Mr Root preached at Shadwell, when Lord Savile, Mr Copley, Mr Hammond, and forty of Lord Freschvile's troopers from York came, took Mr Root, carried him to York, and put him in the Castle. Timothy Root continued a Nonconformist for many years, partaking largely of the hardships of the times, but in 1685, he conformed and had the rectory of Howden. He died June 24, 1688, of dropsy, along with a wasting away, being some time not able to preach.

Mr Henry Root continued to preach, itinerating with his friends Heywood and Dawson. In 1663, what was called the Farnley Wood Plot, took place. Miall, in the work previously referred to, says that

Joshua Horton, of Sowerby, a man of no small influence in the parish of Halifax, was suspected, as was old Elkanah Wales. Henry Root, Dr Maud and others in the parish of Halifax were, with Captain Hodgson arrested, and carried to York, where, after an imprisonment of some duration, they were released without trial

The Rev B. Dale, of Halifax, in a work called "Jubilee Memorial of Sion Chapel," speaking of Henry Root, says:

At the Restoration he was marked out by the Royal party as a special object of suspicion and animosity. In this he was associated with Joshua Horton JP, of Sowerby, Captain Hodgson, Captain Pickeringe, John Greenwood of Redbrinke, John Lume of Westercroft, Josias Stansfeld and Mr Marshall (of Whitkirk) Mr Smallwood (of Idle) Mr Jolly, Mr Marsden, Mr Briscoe, and Mr Eaton,

all phanatique ministers

of whom the Government received information that

it was very much to be feared that they have designed to make a sudden insurrection if some speedy course be not taken to prevent it

The only danger from these good men, however, lay in the imagination of the informers. After enduring much, Henry Root died in 1669; and the members of his church united for a time in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, with the Church at Northowram. In 1673 license was taken out 'for a Presbyterian meeting in a new built meeting house of Joshua Horton's at Quarry hill, in Sowerby; and the Congregation which assembled there has continued to be present time

Original Document in State Paper Office

Oliver Heywood speaks of "being at the good old man's" (Henry Root's)  funeral.

The following brief entry in the register book at Sowerby records Mr Root's death in 1669:

October 28th, Mr Henry Root.

There is a lead pencil entry underneath, stating that Mr Root was the perpetual curate. He was interred at Sowerby. Mrs Root, his widow, afterwards joined Mr Heywood's society at Northowram.

Historical Notes on Sowerby Church – Part 4

Sowerby has the honour of being the birthplace of several eminent men, whose master minds have exerted a great influence not only in the times in which they lived, but on succeeding generations. Many of these were the sons of hard working men who belonged to the middle classes. Some of them were the sons of yeomen, who farmed a little land, and added to their limited incomes by manufacturing on a small scale, being better known as clothiers. They lived in a homely, frugal manner, and did their best for the education of their children. The most remarkable men that Sowerby has produced did not belong to the Elizabethan era, but to the more stirring, turbulent times of James the First, Charles the First and the earlier part of the seventeenth century. The Rev A. L. W. Bean (to whose kindness and assistance I am greatly indebted) says, in some Chapters on Sowerby, in the Sowerby Magazine, 1861

There has gone forth from the ancient dwellinghouses of this township many a man, with brains in his head and a renewed heart within, to care for his fellows and to work in the service of his God and generation

The birth place of Henry Tilson, DD, Bishop of Elphin, has been disputed, though he was admitted to have been a native of this parish. In the Sowerby registers the names "Tilson," Tillitson," and "Tillotson," occur frequently. A correspondent in the Halifax Guardian states he was the son of a Midgley man, whilst another claims him for Heptonstall. If he were not born in the township of Sowerby, the family have been closely associated with it. Originally the Tilsons and the Tillotsons were of one and the same family. Bishop Tilson had a most eventful career. He entered as a student in Baliol College, Oxford, in 1593, was made BA in 1596, and soon after got a fellowship in University College, and took his degree in MA. In 1615, he was made vicar of Rochdale. In a few years he was made chaplain to Thomas, Earl of Strafford Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who made him Dean of Christ Church, Dublin, and in 1639 Bishop of Elphin. The Rebellion soon broke out and Captain Henry Tilson (the bishop's son) joined Sir Charles Coot in opposition to the King's interest The Bishop had his library and goods pillaged by Boetius Egan, the titular Bishop of Elphin, and he sustained damages to the extent of £400. For safety he came to England, and settled at Soothill Hall, near Dewsbury, where he consecrated a room in which he privately ordained. He had a family of thirteen, and Sir Wm. Wentworth, out of compassion, employed him to preach at Comberworth. So that the poor Bishop became a country curate. He died the 31st March 1655, and was buried at Dewsbury church. His monument states that he was a loving parent, and a remarkable man, by reason of his learning and piety.

A monument in the Halifax Parish churchyard shows that in 1635, one Henry Crowther lived at Ball Green, Sowerby, where, probably he composed the quaint lines that appear around the border of his tomb, as follow:

Eighty four years I liv'd; Wouldst thou do so,
Be thou, as I, quiet, chaste, and temp'rate too.
Norland me gave, and Sowerby, took my breath,
Man knows the place of birth, but not of death.

Ball Green is a very ancient place. Watson thought that some of the foresters of Sowerbyshire must have lived here. The present mansion was built in 1622, and is now the property of J. Rawson, Esq. of Brockwell.

Henry Crabtree is another Sowerby man, who lived at the beginning of the 17th century, became known as a mathematician and an astronomer. He was initiated in school learning with Tillotson, at Sowerby. Afterwards he became curate of Todmorden, and published a Merlinus Rusticus, or Country Almanac, in which he predicted the fate of the Roman and Turkish empires. With respect to the latter, Crabtree was not the only one among the prophets.

Eli Bentley, who was born at Bentley Hollins, is another man who deserves honourable mention. He was the son of Richard Bentley, of Sowerby Dean. Entering Trinity College, Cambridge, of which he afterwards became Fellow, he met with Oliver Heywood, with whom he formed a friendship which continued throughout their lives. In 1652, Eli Bentley came to Halifax to assist Mr Booth, the vicar at the Parish Church, and he succeeded Booth on his death in 1657. On the 22nd of April, the same year, Oliver Heywood's mother died at his house in Northowram, and her body was interred in the Holdsworth chapel at the Parish Church, Eli Bentley preaching the funeral sermon. There was a story current in Halifax in Watson's time, that Dr Marsh, the ejected vicar, made his appearance in the Parish Church directly after the Restoration, on Sunday morning, September 16th, 1660, after an absence of 18 years, and again took possession of the church. Soon after Mr Bentley had commenced the service, Dr Marsh, in surplice and red tippet, with the Prayer Book under his arm, marched up the aisle, removed Mr Bentley from the desk, and conducted the service in the ancient manner. In consequence of the passing of the Five Mile Act, the Rev Eli Bentley went to reside at Bingley; but

he found the people (even in the house where he lodged) so hostile to religion, that he durst not attempt to preach

He afterwards returned to Halifax, where he was licensed to preach at the house of Timothy Bentley, his brother. The meeting house built at Quarry hill, Sowerby, by Joshua Horton, Esq, JP, was supplied with the services of Oliver Heywood, Eli Bentley, William Dawson and Timothy Root, who each received 10/- for conducting a service. The erection of the meeting house drew forth a strong letter from Dr Hooke, the vicar of Halifax, in which he asked Mr Horton for his authority. The Duke of Buckingham afterwards visited Halifax, and Mr Bentley complained to him of Dr Hooke's treatment of nonconformists. Eli Bentley died July 30th, 1675, in the 45th year of his age, and he was interred in the Holdsworth Chapel. In his last illness he observed

God will take a course with these unreasonable men that require such terms of communion as a man cannot with a safe conscience subscribe to

The Rev B Dale says

The persons who composed his meeting appear to have met afterwards at Old Bank top, near Godley lane, and ultimately erected the chapel at Northgate End (1696) 

In 1679, his widow married the Rev Edmund Hough, MA, vicar of Halifax. A contemporary of Bentley's passed upon him this high commendation,

he was a man of good parts, a solid, serious preacher, of a very humble behaviour, and very useful in his place; he lived desired and died lamented

Joshua Whitton, MA, another Presbyterian, was born at Sowerby. He was godfather to Archbishop Tillotson, and became chaplain to Lord Fernando Fairfax. Afterwards he became rector of Thornhill, from which place he was ejected. He did not preach after his ejection, being rich, yet he rendered great service to his poor brethren as a supply.

Joshua Hoyle, one of the most distinguished worthies born in Sowerby, was a man of great abilities. He received his first academical education at Magdalen Hall Oxford; but was afterwards made Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, where he was elected Divinity Professor to that university. In this office he expounded the whole Bible through in daily lectures, which occupied him for nearly fifteen years. Some time before he ended that work, he began the second exposition of the whole Bible in the Church of Trinity College, and within ten years ended all the New Testament. He took a leading part in some controversies with the Jesuits, and he seems to have gained the respect of Archbishop Usher. The Rebellion in Ireland in 1641 drove him over to England, and he became vicar of Stepney, near London; but it is said he was too scholastical for his parishioners. He became one of the Assembly of Divines and gave evidence against Archbishop Laud. Hoyle died on the 6th December, 1654. Daniel Greenwood, DD, was another man born in the township of Sowerby, who by his natural talents and industry rose to an eminent position. He was first fellow, and afterwards Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford. In 1631 he was made Vice Chancellor of that ancient university. He was ejected from Oxford on the Restoration, and died on the 29th of January, in the house of his nephew, Daniel Greenwood, rector of Steeple Aston, who was also a native of Sowerby.

Ely Stansfield was the name of a Sowerby musician who lived at the close of the seventeenth century. He published a book called "Psalmody Epitomises," of which a second edition was printed in 1731. Amongst several local tunes he has given us


Historical Notes on Sowerby Church – Part 5

John Tillotson, the son of a clothier, has shed a greater lustre on the township which gave him birth than any of the other distinguished men whom Sowerby has produced and as in the past, so in the future is it likely that the old mansion at Haugh End, where John, Tillotson was born will attract visitors from all parts of the kingdom. Many, too, will like to visit the church where Robert Tillotson an earnest, thoughtful Churchman, though a Puritan, took his son John when a boy to hear the minister of the parish, the Rev Henry Root, and where the said John, after he had become a Doctor of Divinity and Dean of St Paul's, afterward preached to a large congregation, many of whom knew him when a boy.

Robert Tillotson, the clothier, who resided at Haugh End, was descended from a family of the name of Tilson, of Tilson, in Cheshire. Robert's grandfather was Thomas Tilson, of Wookliff, in the parish of Carlton, in Craven, and he changed his surname to Tillotson. The son of this man, named George Tillotson, married Eleanor daughter of Ellis Nutter, of Pendle Forest, in Lancashire of whom was born Robert, the father of John, the future Archbishop. Robert married Mary, the daughter of Thomas Dobson, of Stones, in Sowerby, gentleman, a woman of excellent character. The parents of the Archbishop were more remarkable for their integrity and piety than for rank and fortune. Robert is said to have had a good understanding, and an uncommon knowledge of the Scriptures. He was a member of Mr Root's church at Sowerby, and embraced some Calvinistic doctrines. He had four sons – Robert, John, (the Archbishop), Joshua, and Israel. In earlier times few Scripture names occur in the parish, but about this time they became more common, and the mind of the father may be noticed in the names given to his children.

John Tillotson was born in September, 1630, at Haugh End. At that time the people of Sowerby were not allowed to baptise, marry, or bury at their own church, but had to go the Parish Church at Halifax. In the register there is the following entry:

Bapt. Octr. 3, 1630, John Robert Tilletson, Sourb

The story is told that when Robert wished to settle upon one or other of his sons to be brought up to a learned profession, he made them all read to him from the new Testament, and as John proved to be the best reader he was sent to school, and then to the university. John ever afterwards evinced a strong feeling of gratitude to his father for his self denying efforts in this giving him a liberal education, and the son was enabled in later days to return the kindness, both to his father and his brothers.

Young, the author of his life, says:

His first education and impressions were among those who were then called Puritans, but of the best sort. Yet even before his mind was opened to clearer thought, he felt some what within him that disposed him to larger notions and a better temper. The books which were put into the hands of the youth of that time were generally heavy; he could scarce bear them, even before he knew better things. He happily fell on Chillingworth's Book, which gave his mind that play that it held ever after, and put him on a true scent. He was soon freed from his prejudices, or rather, he was never mastered by them. Yet he still stuck to the strictness of life to which he was bred, and retained a just value and a due tenderness for the men of that persuasion

After passing through the Grammar schools, where he attained a skill in the learned languages superior to his years, he was sent to Cambridge in the year 1647, and on the 23rd of April of that year, was admitted a pensioner of Clare Hall, being then only 17 years of age. Here he was under the tuition of Mr David Clarkson, a Presbyterian. About two months after Tillotson was admitted, Charles the First went to Cambridge, and lodged at the house of Sir John Cuts, near the University, and the scholars went thither to kiss the King's hand. The author of a pamphlet referring to Tillotson, says:

He and some few more had so signalised themselves for those they then called Roundheads, that they were not admitted to that honour with the rest of the scholars

Replying to this assertion, the Bishop of Sarum wrote to the effect that after inquiry had been made into the truth of the above, it was found to be false. He also says:

It was no wonder if such a freshman was not admitted to the honour of kissing the king's hand, when he was in that neighbourhood two months after that. It is not likely that he pretended to it, or that it would have been denied if he had

In 1650 he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and was elected fellow before Christmas that year. The pamphlet above mentioned, in respect to this fellowship, says:

He got the Rump's mandamus for Dr Ganning's (which, I think, one of his own gang enjoyed a little before him) as a reward for his good affection to the cause. From that time to his discontinuance he governed the College, the senior fellows not daring to oppose him, because of the interest he had with his great masters; and so zealous was he for them, that the corner of the College, which he and his pupils took up in the new building, was called the Round Head Corner

Mr Denton, who was at Clare Hall at the same time as Mr Tillotson, says, in a letter, that he believed Mr Tillotson got his fellowship by election and not by a mandamus, and as to what was said about governing the college, &c, was very malicious and false, for, he continues:

He was not of an imperious humour but had then that sweetness of temper which he ever after retained, and was much respected by the senior fellows. He was, indeed, in those young years, of very great parts and prudence, and the senior fellows would always have his advice in what was done about college affairs, giving that great deference to his judgement

In 1654 he took the degree of Master of Arts. In his fourth year at college, his life was endangered by a severe illness, and he had to return home to Haugh End to re-establish his health. Whilst Tillotson was at college he enjoyed the friendship of many great and good men, with whom he had there become acquainted and these did much towards perfecting his mind. He also became a close and intimate friend of Dr Wilkins, who afterwards became Bishop of Chester.

In 1656, Tillotson became tutor to the son of Edmund Prideaux, Esq., of Ford Abbey, in Devonshire. Prideaux had been Commissioner of the Great Seal under the Long Parliament, and was then Attorney General to the Protector, Cromwell. Tillotson was in London at the time of Cromwell's death, September 3rd, 1658, and about this time witnesses a remarkable scene in Whitehall Palace.

On the fast day of the household the had to curiosity to go into the presence chamber, where was Richard Cromwell, the new Protector, with the rest of the family and six preachers. The extravagance of these men filled Tillotson with disgust. The time when he entered holy orders is not known, nor by whom he was ordained. The late Dr Halley, the author of "Yorkshire : its Presbyterianism and Nonconformity," in a letter to the Rev Bryan Dale, of Halifax, says:

I believe he (Tillotson) became Archbishop of Canterbury without ever complying with the Act of Uniformity. It is strange his biographer, Birch, could not describe by what bishop he was ordained. It is, however, certain he obtained his ordination from a Scotch bishop who required no subscription of any kind and it is doubtful whether he did not live and die a Nonconformist. The first sermon of his that appeared in print was in September 1661; it was preached at the "morning exercise," at Cripplegate, on Matthew VII. 12

At the time of preaching this sermon he was still among the Presbyterians, and as an auditor he attended the conference at the Savoy, for the review of the Liturgy in July, 1661. His first office in the church was the curacy of Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire in 1661 and 1662, and Dr Birch, his biographer, says he complied with the Act of Uniformity. In Young's life of Tillotson is the following:

Abundance of the parishioners of Cheshunt well remember Tillotson being curate there, particularly Mr Mott, the parish clerk and schoolmaster, who says that Sir Thomas Dacres gave him his board, and he lived at the great house near the church; that he behaved himself there exceedingly well, and did a great many good things; amongst the rest, by his mild and gentle behaviour and persuasive eloquence, he prevailed with an old Oliverian soldier, who set up for an Anabaptist preacher, and preached in a red coat, and was much followed in that place, to desist from that encroachment upon the parish minister

On the 18th of June, 1663, he was inducted into the Rectory of Ketton, in Suffolk; in 1664 he was preacher to that honourable society Lincolns Inn; and the same year was chosen lecturer at St Laurence's Church, in London. He now had obtained a reputation as a great preacher, and the clergy from all parts of the Metropolis attended the services at St Laurence Jewry for the purpose of forming their minds. As a preacher, Tillotson was little disposed to follow the patterns then set him, but formed one for himself, which was long esteemed as a model. Tillotson earnestly preached against the growing evils of Charles the Second's reign, atheism and Popery, and though his great abilities and constant labours procured him many friends, he was not without his enemies. He was charged by some with being a Socinian; and, the author of "some discourses upon Dr Burnet and Dr Tillotson," says that a great lady resorted to his church to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the irreverent posture of sitting. The former imputation has been proved to be unfounded by the Archbishop's published sermons, and the latter story was probably a malicious invention.

On the 23rd February, 1664, he married Elizabeth French, daughter of Dr French, Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, and niece of Oliver Cromwell. In 1666, he obtained the degree of Doctor of Divinity and in 1669, he was canon of Christ Church, in Canterbury. He was Prebend of Canterbury in 1670. Dean of Canterbury in 1672 and Prebend of St Paul's in 1675. He was also Chaplain to the King, though it is said that his great zeal against Popery was too great for him to be much of a favourite at court. He exercised great moderation for Protestant Dissenters, and in 1668 joined in a treaty for a comprehension of such as could be brought into communion with the church, and for that purpose he corresponded with Richard Baxter, but the attempt proved abortive.

In 1675, Dr Tillotson, then Dean of Canterbury, visited his father, for Oliver Heywood in his diary, says:

Dr Tillotson came to Sowerby, May 21, 1675, to visit his aged father, Robert Tillotson, who is eighty four; allows his father, who traded all away, £40 a year to live upon. Preached at Sowerby twice, on Lord's Day, May 23, being Whit Sunday, on 1 John, iii, 10, plainly and honestly, though some expressions were accounted dark and doubtful. May 30, he preached at Halifax

Watson, referring to this occasion, says that Tillotson preached before his father at Sowerby chapel, against the doctrine of Calvin, probably with an intent to rectify his father's notions, and one Dr Maud, who had frequent disputes with the Archbishop's father about predestination, asking him how he liked his son's discourse, the old man replied in his usual way, when he asserted anything with earnestness, "I profess he had done more harm than good."

Amongst other traditions preserved at Sowerby, is one that the fine yew tree in front of the mansion at Breck, formerly the residence of some of the Tillotson family, and now occupied by Colonel Blewitt, was planted by the Archbishop, when a boy.

On the 2nd of April 1680, he preached before the King at Whitehall, and the sermon was printed by his majesty's special command, under the title of "The Protestant Religion vindicated from the charge of singularity and novelty." About this time, Dr Tillotson gave £50 towards a fund for supplying a fair impression of the Bible and the Liturgy of the Church of England in the Welsh tongue. One thousand of these were freely given to the poor, and the rest were

sold to the rich at very reasonable and low rates, Viz., at 4/- a piece, well bound and clasped, which was much cheaper than any English Bible was ever sold that was of so fair a print and paper

With all Dr Tillotson's preferments, he did not advance his fortunes, and his labours were indeed great, for in addition to his ordinary duties he gave to the public from the manuscripts of Bishop Wilkins, a volume of 15 chapters and prepared Dr Barrow's sermons for the press, besides several of his own discourses.

The following amusing anecdote shows how the Dean honoured his father.

It is said that the old man set out from Sowerby to see his son John in London. Not troubling himself about exact proprieties, he appeared in the great metropolis in the dress of a plain countryman. Enquiring of a footman whom he met near the Dean's residence, If he could tell him "Where John Tillotson lived." The footman replied, "John Tillotson! You mean the Dean, my master? He lives here." "Aye, aye," said the clothier, "that's the chap I want; shew me to him." The footman was urging the impropriety of the rough Yorkshireman's address, when the Dean caught sight of the venerable old man opposing the remonstrance of his domestic. He quickly threw open the window, and cried out, "shew him in; he's my father." He then immediately went to the door, and in the presence of his servants and friends, fell on his knees and asked the old man's blessing

In Charles the Second's time, the story was circulated that Dr Tillotson had never been baptised. It was said "That we had a Father of our Church, who was never a son of it." To stop the mouth of his slanderers, the Marquis of Halifax, his patron and friend, applied to the minister and churchwardens at Halifax, who transmitted a certificate that Dr Tillotson was baptised at Halifax on the 3rd of October, 1630, and it was signed as follows:

Ita. Test { Jos. Wilkinson, Vicar   

          { Jo. Gaukroger, Cler. Paroch, de Halifax.

In 1689 came the Revolution, and Dr Tillotson was made Clerk of the Closet to William the third, who, with Queen Mary, were desirous of having him near them. To advise them both in public concerns and in their own private religious affairs. A day of better things arrived, and the Act of Toleration was passed. There can be little doubt that much is due to the influence of Dr Tillotson for the civil and religious liberties obtained in this reign.

In 1691 John Tillotson, the son of the Sowerby clothier, received the highest honour that could be conferred upon him, for he was made Archbishop of Canterbury. His predecessor Archbishop Sandcroft, with a number of other bishops refused to take the oath of allegiance to the king and were deprived, and the vacant sees filled up, and it was Tillotson who was chosen in these difficult times to sit at the head and govern the Church. He was consecrated to the office on Whit Sunday, May 31st in Bow Church, by the Bishop of Winchester. The promotion of Tillotson to so high a dignity drew down upon him the displeasure of a large party, who tried to heap calumnies upon him until the end of his days, and even afterwards. About a year after he had been settled in his see, he entered in short hand some reflections of his in his common place book. Here he says:

It is a very odd and fantastical sort of life for a man to be continually from home, and most of all a stranger at his own house.

It is surely an uneasy thing to sit always in a frame of mind and to be perpetually upon a man's guard; not to be able to speak a careless word, or to use a negligent posture, without observation and censure. Men are apt to think that they, who are in highest places, and the most power, have most liberty to say and do what they please. But it is quite otherwise; for they have the least liberty, because they are most observed

After a little over three years service as archbishop, he was seized with his last illness on Sunday, the 18th of November, 1694, whilst conducting divine service at Whitehall, and the illness turned to a stroke of palsy. He continued serene and calm to the last, and died on Thursday, the 22nd November, at five o'clock in the afternoon, in the 65th years of his age. He was buried on the 30th of the same month in the Church of St Laurence Jewry, and the funeral was attended by a numerous train of coaches filled with persons of the first quality. The only legacy the Archbishop left his family was the copy of his posthumous works, which was sold for £2,500. This was increased by an annuity to the widow by the king of £400 in 1695, and £200 more in 1698. A learned and pious divine, who knew Tillotson, says:

He taught by his sermons more ministers to preach well, and more people to live well, than any other man since the apostles' days; he was the ornament of the last century, and the glory of his function; in the pulpit another Chrysostom, and in the Episcopal chair a second Cranmer. He was so exceeding charitable that while in a private station he always laid aside two tenths of his income for charitable uses

Tillotson's sermons were translated into several languages after his death. As for the style of writing, Dryden avowed that if he had any talent for English prose, it was owing to having read the works of Archbishop Tillotson. Addison considered Tillotson's literary productions as the chief standard of our language. As to his personal appearance, we are told that his countenance was fair and very amiable, his face round, his eyes vivid, and his air and aspect quick and ingenuous. His hair was brown and bushy; he was moderately tall, and very slender in his youth; his constitution was but tender and frail to outward appearance. In after life he became corpulent. In 1672, Tillotson sat to a lady artist, Mrs Beale, for his picture, which afterwards passed into the family of Tillotson's friend, Dr Stillingfleet. Some time ago, it was presented to Sowerby Parsonage, where it now is.

Sowerby may justly be proud of such a man, and it is in his honour that a fine monument has been placed in Sowerby Church. It is a full length marble statue of the worthy prelate, in his robes, represented with one hand resting on the open Bible, and the other stretched out as though in the act of preaching. Beneath is the following modest inscription:

The Most Reverend
Born at Haugh end, in this township,
Archbishop of Canterbury,
In the reign of William and Mary.
Died November 22 1694,
In the 65th year of his age.

It was under the direction of George Stansfeld, Esq., of Field House, that this statue was placed in the church. He entrusted the work to a most eminent artist, Joseph Wilton, RA, who afterwards presented the owner of Field House with an exact model of the Archbishop's statue, and this model now occupies a prominent position in the entrance hall at Field House, the residence of colonel Stansfeld JP. Placed in front is the following inscription:

To George Stansfeld, Esq., under whose direction the marble statue of Archbishop Tillotson was executed and erected in Sowerby Church, this model, in sincerest gratitude, is respectfully dedicated by Joseph Wilton, RA, Statuary to the King, and keeper of his Majesty's Royal Academy, in London, the year of our Lord MDCCXCVI

Historical Notes on Sowerby Church – Part 6

From the time when Mr Root was ejected to May, 1664, there was no settles minister at Sowerby. In May, 1664, Edward Wilkinson was appointed. He only continued for one year, when he was succeeded by Christopher Jackson. The following curious entry, made in Mr Jackson's time appears in the register of burials:

March 8, 1667, James Hatt, with one eye

The inhabitants of Sowerby, in 1668, gave towards the purchase of a close of land by the Halifax Vicarage House, £7 10/- for Doctor Hooke's consent to their having a license to bury and baptise in Sowerby. The register of baptisms in Sowerby Church commences on the 13th of December in that year, and five baptisms are recorded in that month. The following are the earliest entries in 1669:

January 3 John sonne of James Bawme, bapt
3 Mary, daughter of Michael Ogden, bapt
10 Mary, daughter of John Chootham, bapt.
Feb 7 John, sonn of Michael Earnshaw, bapt.
7 Deborah, daughter of Heron Ramsbotham, bapt
Mar 28 Sarah, daughter of Richard Ogden
April 28 George, sonn of Abraham Riley, of ye Holme, bapt.
May 2 Joziah, sonn of Israel Tillotson, bapt.

Sowerby people will recognise the names of several families still represented in the district. Israel Tillotson was the youngest brother of Archbishop Tillotson. He married Mary, daughter of Samuel Mawd, of Sowerby, by whom he had Joshua(* Joshua is crossed out by hand and Joziah written in) whose baptism is recorded above and John. Joziah married Martha, daughter of James Stansfeld, of Sowerby, and thus the families of Tillotson ad Stansfeld became connected by marriage. Robert Tillotson, father of the archbishop, died in February, 1683. Oliver Heywood was invited to the funeral, but he did not attend.

Mr Boville succeeded Mr Jackson in the curacy of Sowerby, and he was minister from May 6th, 1668, to 1670. His successor, James Bowker, was appointed in May 1672. Probably he reason that no minister held the living for a long period after Mr Root, had been ejected, was that several of the principal families left the church, and the endowment was not of itself sufficient to maintain a minister. On the 18th of June, only a month after Mr Bowker was appointed, several members of Sowerby Church went to the house of Mr Heywood, in Northowram, and expressed their desire to join in communion with Mr Heywood's Church. The principal person from Sowerby who then joined the church at Northowram was Joshua Horton, Esq. JP, of Sowerby Hall. He had already opened a house for preaching in Sowerby, and in the following year he erected a Nonconformist chapel at Quarry Hill, and through Mr Heywood obtained a license for it. It was opened on Tuesday May 6th, and Mr Horton intended that a Tuesday lecture should be preached in it. It was his practice to attend the services at the church, except on one Sunday in the month, when he went to hear Mr Heywood at Northowram. He contributed £8 per annum towards Mr Bowker's stipend, and gave 10/- to the minister for each service in his own meeting house.

It was in 1673, that a Quaker named Joshua Smith, living in Sowerby, was served with a writ, apprehended and sent to York for refusing to take the churchwardens' oath, there being two wardens for each of the out- townships at that time. Oliver Heywood records the event in his diary as follows:

Monday morning, November 10, 1673, there came an apparitor from York, and another from Halifax and apprehended James Brooksbank and Robert Ramsden, two of our members upon a writ de Excomminicato capiendo; the occasion whereof was their refusing to take the churchwardens' oath; though they faithfully served the office. When they were excommunicated, as they call it, they consulted with us what to do, fearing this capias. We desired them to send to York and get it off, if a little money would do it; but Dr Hooke hath put a bar to that so that it could not be done, so that it ran up to this; and this day, November 11, they are gone towards York Castle, together with one Joshua Smith, of Sowerby, a Quaker, upon the same account; which they must do, unless they would have given £8 a piece for their release. God Almighty go with them. We had a solemn day of prayer at William Clay's the same day they were taken, and so sent them away with prayer

On their arrival at York, they consented to pay £6 each, and were released. This Joshua Smith is evidently the same person who erected the old hall near the bottom of the Sowerby old road (Sowerby street), and which was afterwards used as the Quakers' chapel, though it is now used as cottagers' dwellings. The following letters are carved over the entrance:

I S S 1679

which stands for "Joshua Smith, Sowerby, 1679".

At the early part of 1675, Daniel Greenwood DD, bequeathed 40/- a year for the minister of Sowerby church, and 40/- a year to be distributed amongst the poor of the chapelry.

In this year only five baptisms are recorded in the Sowerby registers. Three are in one handwriting and two in another. The Rev James Bowker was banished from Sowerby for immoral conduct.

Mr Christopher Etherington was inducted in May, 1676. He died suddenly January 4th, 1679, and was buried at Sowerby.

On the 7th of April, the same year, Joshua Horton, Esq., of Sowerby Hall, died at that age of 60 and was interred at Sowerby. Dr Hooke, the vicar of Halifax, preached on the occasion, and Oliver Heywood attended the funeral. The ancient family of the Hortons is still represented in this parish by Captain Horton of Howroyd, Barkisland.

In May, 1679, John Witter commenced his pastoral duties at Sowerby, which he continued for three years. He was buried at Sowerby, in 1697, as shown by the following entry:

Dec. 27 – Mr John Witter, minster at Sowerby Chappell

Then followed Mr Baron, and in 1701, William Midgley. The latter died of palsy in May, 1706, and he was buried at Halifax Parish Church, he being only 30 years of age. Archibald Young was appointed in 1708, and was compelled to leave early the following year. He was succeeded by Richard Marsden, who left Sowerby in 1710

A gallery for the use of the choir was erected about this time, at the cost of the young men of Sowerby, and the fact was deservedly recorded.

Memorand; Anno Dom., 1710 – The gallery over the loft at ye West End of Sowerby Chappell was erected as well with ye knowledge and approbation of his Grace Jno. Ld. Arch Bp. of York (Registrar) as with ye comfort of ye Curate of Sowerby and Parishioners of ye said Chappelry. At the proper costs and charges of some young persons in ye said Town. Fore ye possession and only use of such as understand ye singing of Psalms according to Art. A possession may be fully seen in a deed and Register kept for that purpose in ye Chief Proprietor's hands

In 1711, Nicholas Jackson commenced his ministerial duties at the Church, and marriages were first solemnized at Sowerby. It was in this year that Paul Bairstow, clerk, of Rochester, died, leaving an estate in Kent to his sister in law, but making provision for the property to be sold at her death, and the proceeds invested in freehold property near Halifax, for the purpose of paying £16 a year for the education of twelve poor children in Sowerby; 20/- a year to the minister at Sowerby, for preaching a sermon on the feast day of St Michel the Archangel; and the rest to be given to the poor. The Nether Headley estate, at Thornton, was subsequently purchased for £660, and has since become valuable property.

In 1722, Elkanah Horton, Esq. of Grays Inn, son of Joshua Horton, of Sowerby, in consideration of £200 from the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, and £100 left by Edward Colston Esq., of Surrey, made over to the Rev Nicholas Jackson, the curate of Sowerby, and his successors, Lower Langley Farm, in Norland; Birch Farm, in Sowerby and Lane Ends, Mr Horton himself allowing another £100 in the purchase. Elkana, who lived at Thornton, was buried at Sowerby, January 28th 1729. By his will he provided six almshouses for three poor men and three poor women of Sowerby, who are to be over the age of 60.

After eighteen years service amongst his parishioners at Sowerby, the Rev Nicholas Jackson died, and was interred at Sowerby on the 11th of February, 1729.

The Rev John Sheffield succeeded Mr Jackson, and he, too, finished his days at Sowerby, where he was interred November 23rd 1735.

The trade of Sowerby increased rapidly about this time. A large number of small manufactures lived in the district, and found employment for many combers and weavers. Watson give a list of mills in the parish of Halifax in 1758. Several of these are fulling mills in the Sowerby district, some being on the banks of the Calder, some on the Ryburn and some on the Turvin Brook, where water could be conveniently used. Crabtree says that a very considerable manufactory of kerseys ad half thicks, also of bockings and baize, was principally in the hands of merchants of property in the neighbourhood of Sowerby, and made in the valley of Sowerby Bridge to Ripponden. The whole of the British navy was clothed from this source. The shalloon trade was introduced at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and the manufacture of drawboys or Amens some time afterwards. On Saturday, the market day, the handloom weavers were stirring early, for the market at the Piece Hall opened at six o'clock, and if their piece were ready, it must be taken in before that time. In fact we are told that the butchers' shambles were often filled with cloth, which was disposed of before the regular cloth market commenced. The merchants attended these markets, and purchased for the Continental and American markets. The goods at the beginning of the century were generally sold to the merchants in an unfinished state. In the registers at Sowerby for the year 1732, nearly every other name is that of a clothier, comber or weaver. The following description of a clothier who united in equal proportions agricultural pursuits with manufacturing labour, and who regularly did business in the Piece Hall on Saturdays for many years, may be taken as a type of his class:

He is a fine specimen of the domestic manufacturer, clad in a drab coat and breeches of the olden cut, and with a waistcoat which would make two for our degenerate population. Add to this a face ruddy, round and smiling enough never to have known bad times, and never to have had to reduce the wages of his workmen and readers may fancy the sensation created in these bad times on beholding him standing by a large pile of his favourite pieces, all placed ready for delivery

These are narrow figured goods, commonly known as amens and the venerable manufacturer is, from them, often called "Old Amen" whilst the corner in which his room is situate is styled "Amen Corner."

On the 2nd of January, 1736, John Coggan was interred, but his ashes did not rest in peace, for at that time the sexton was in league with some resurrectionists, and "Coggan was stolen out of his grave by the sexton and some others, and was anatomised and made a skeleton."

Historical Notes on Sowerby Church – Part 7

The first marriages in Sowerby Church are thus recorded:

April the 21, Ralph Taylor and Sarah Swain
February the 16th 1712-13, Jonathan Rushworth and Sarah Hoyl
April the 6th, 1713, John Ogden and Martha Naylor
All six inhabitants of the township of Sowerby

In 1720 Sowerby "Chapel-house" or what would now be called the Vicarage, was erected on the north side of the old Church. The present Church at Sowerby does not occupy the same site as the old one, it being more to the west. The chapel-house is now occupied as a cottage, by Mr Thomas Helliwell, the building being separated from the grave yard by what is now called Flint street. The old Church tower came close up to the chapel house, and the fabric stretched across what is now the lower portion or north- eastern end of Sowerby church yard. Near the chapel house was the entrance to the Church, approached by a flight of steps, called Church Stile, by which the locality is still known. Even when the Rev W H Bull became minister of Sowerby, there was an arched gateway near the top of Flint street, opening into the church yard. Over the stone arch were three large balls for ornament, one on each side and one in the middle, The arched gateway was pulled down and several other alterations made when Mr Bull was at Sowerby.

On the 18th May, 1722, a great flood occurred in the Ryburn valley, doing considerable damage. Ripponden Church was destroyed, a well as many mills on the brook. Twelve persons, eight in one family, were drowned, and several corpses washed out of their graves. Thoresby entered in his diary, under date May 22nd, 1722:

Read and wrote till eleven; after abroad, inquisitive after the astonishing effects of the thunder shower last Friday (May 18, 1772)  in the Vicarage of Halifax, where it took down part of Ripponden chapel, bore down two mills, and several houses and bridges, about twenty persons said to be drowned; corpses washed out of graves, &c

Many other floods have occurred in this valley since that time.

In May, 1736, the Rev Christopher Gunby was appointed the perpetual curate of Sowerby, and the following year Mr John Sutcliffe was one of the chapel-wardens. About this time was entered in the register book a list of

Tombs and gravestones, by whom erected or laid down

This list includes the following:- Richard Ellam, Manchester; James Broadbent, Wadsworth; – Ogden, Midgley, John Whiteley, Warley; John Walton, Halifax; David Smith, Sowerby; Eli Mitchell, Carr; James Heap, Sowerby; George Holstead, Sowerby; Wm. Threapland, Leeds Pond; Thos. Milne, Warley.

The Rev C. Gunby was buried at Sowerby, as shown by the following:

March 21, 1744 C Gunby, Curate. Amos Ogden.
James Gledhill, Chapelwarden
Wm. Bramley, Chapelwarden

It was in this year that England was threatened with invasion. The French King offered to land 15,000 men in Kent, with Marshal Saxe, one of the ablest officers of his age, at their head. In 1745, the Pretender landed in Scotland, unfurled his standard, and not long after won the battle of Preston Pans. This naturally created considerable alarm in the provinces, and it was at this time that a beacon fire was lighted on Beacon Hill, for the purpose of signalling to more distant parts of the country. Before that time there had not been a beacon fire lighted on this hill for 130 years. Turning from the civil war, which ended ingloriously for the Pretender, to local affairs, a dispute may be mentioned, in which Sowerby took an active part. A memorandum, printed in 1764 (kindly lent me by John Rawson, Esq., of Brockwell), states that:

In 1748, some persons in Halifax took it into their heads that the bells wanted chipping; that a new wainscot ought to be put up in place of the tapestry in the chancel; and that a new pulpit should be erected in a situation agreeable to their own taste. These alterations were estimated at above £500; all to be laid upon the parish. Nine out of ten of the parishioners opposed this; but they were called cyphers, and it was boasted that the two churchwardens for the township of Halifax had all the power, and that the ten churchwardens of the tributary townships had only to raise and pay the money demanded of them. Upon this principle they chipped the bells at a venture. The parishioners refused to pay, upon which a lawsuit was carried on for six years together; at last, a verdict was given for the parishioners. Halifax lost the money expended in chipping the bells, and paid costs of suit

The idea of the new wainscot and the new pulpit soon after vanished away. The object of the Halifax churchwardens, no doubt, was a good one; but "The best laid schemes o'mice an' men Gang aft a'gley." The fact is that the churchwardens at Halifax and those in the out townships did not for many years work together in the most harmonious manner, as the above account and subsequent disputes will show. They have not been mentioned in our local histories; and as no harm can arise form a reference to events occurring so long ago, they will be give in their proper place. The Rev J Welsh, AM, was licensed curate of Sowerby by Matthew Hutton, Archbishop of York, on the 17th May, 1750; and in this year, George Stansfeld, Esq., who had erected the imposing mansion at Field House (now the residence of Col. Stansfeld JP), was chapel warden. During the ministry of Mr Welsh, the attention of the inhabitants was called to the condition of Sowerby Church, which had become much decayed in the roof and other parts; and the movement then commenced for restoring the fabric, ended in the decision to erect a new one – the present Church of St Peter, Sowerby, being the outcome of that effort. In this noble and laborious work, George Stansfeld, Esq., of Fieldhouse, entered with great zeal, and his persevering efforts were crowned with success. Not only did he help to initiate and mature the schemes, but he contributed liberally of his means, obtained subscriptions from others, superintended the works, and acted a hon. Secretary for the whole affair. Through the kindness of Col. Stansfeld, I am enabled to quote from the excellent memoranda of George Stansfeld, Esq. made at the time. He says:

The chapel of Sowerby being greatly decayed in the roof, and other parts thereof, some of the principal inhabitants resolved in order to ease the poorer sort of tenants to try whether a voluntary subscription could be procured, sufficient, without a particular assessment, to repair the same, and to make such further alterations and improvements thereof as should be judged expedient

Accordingly, the minister published the following notice in the chapel on Sunday, the 3rd December, 1758:

The inhabitants within the chapelry of Sowerby are desired to meet after evening service, both today and next Sunday in order to fix upon the properest and most convenient method of putting this chapel into more comfortable, decent, and commendable repair

Pursuant whereto a great number of the principal inhabitants met, unanimously approved of the design and in order to make it as much known as possible, ordered the meeting, published as above, for Sunday, the 10th December, to be again published during the service on the 10th of December. The meeting held hereupon was very numerous, and unanimously resolved to attempt the repairs and improvement of the chapel by a voluntary subscription, to be opened at the next meeting, on Wednesday, the 13th of December. And it is also agreed, that unless the sum of Eight Hundred pounds should be subscribed, the whole should be void. Mr Stansfeld was desired to provide an instrument, and the Rev Mr Welsh and Mr Greenwood the churchwarden to go in the interim from house to house to acquaint the inhabitants fully with the design and to desire their attendance." Accordingly, a most numerous meeting was held, and the instrument being presented, upwards of £800, the sum fixed upon, was subscribed. The document referred to, showing great consideration for the poor, commenced as follows:

Whereas the chapel of Sowerby, within the Parish of Halifax, in the County of York, is in bad repair, and in very indecent order, and at sundry meetings of the inhabitants of Sowerby aforesaid to take the same into consideration, and the best means of repairing an improving thereof. It hath been found indispensably necessary to mend the roof and other decayed parts of the said chapel and judged proper and determined to put the whole into more decent and commendable order, the charges whereof will necessarily amount to a very considerable sum of money. And it hath been considered that little relief can be had by means of a Brief, as that charity is too frequently abused by the collectors thereof. And yet, without some help the said charges would be grievous and intolerable to the poorer sort of the inhabitants of the said, township, who are liable to contribute thereto. And, therefore for their care and assistance, and in order that the said chapel may be well and sufficiently repaired and improved We the several persons who have duly executed these presents, being the principal inhabitants of or owners of lands or tenements within the said townships, and others, have mutually agreed by subscription to raise a sufficient sum of money for that purpose

The instrument then goes on to say that the persons who had executed these presents granted and agreed with George Stansfeld, Esq., of Fieldhouse, in Sowerby, and the Rev John Welsh, Master of Arts, curate of the said chapel, that they would pay to them the several and respective sums they had promised, at such times, by such payments, and in such methods as were thereafter expressed

To make the payments easy it was afterwards declared

That no call shall at any time hereafter be made on us or any of us, whose single subscription is five pounds or upwards, for any part of our respective subscription, but by an order of the majority of such subscribers


no such order should exceed 2/6d in the pound of subscriptions of £5 or upwards at any one call

All the meetings were held at the house of John Garnett, the King's Head Inn, Sowerby. Each subscriber of £5 had a vote, but none under that sum. The document was dated the 14th December, 32nd year of the reign of King George the Second, 1758. "On Sunday, the 17th, December, the subscribers met after the evening service, and appointed proper persons to go round every quarter, who accordingly went, and in the whole upwards of £100 was subscribed in small sums." At a meeting held on the 15th of January, 1759, a resolution was passed that the Rev Mr Welsh, and Mr George Stansfeld, should apply to Mr Mackley of the Court of York, for improvements, and to erect a gallery or galleries in the said chapel. John Walker, John Starkey, Elkanah Holroyde, William Starkie, Thomas Swaine, David Waterhouse, John Sutcliffe, L Greenwood, Jno. Welsh, and George Stansfeld are noted as having been present.

Historical Notes on Sowerby Church – Part 8

With regard to the proposal to enlarge Sowerby Church, in the middle of last century, it was thought that if the roof were taken off and the walls raised considerably higher, galleries might be erected, which would provide the additional accommodation required. It was not until considerable steps had been taken in this direction that it was found impracticable and then it was decided to adopt the bolder scheme, and erect a new church. From the extensive memoranda, made at the time by George Stansfeld, Esq., of Field house, to which reference was made last week, I find that a meeting was held on the 23rd of February, 1759, when a plan of the old building was produced by Mr Stansfeld, It was then decided that the plan should be re- drawn, with several proposed amendments, and laid before the next meeting. The following resolutions were also passed:

Resolved that John Law is a proper person to get the moor stones for the front of the steeple, the front and the east end of the chapel, and all the columns; and that he be allowed and paid one penny per foot to be measured when walled and according to admeasurement of the mason, on the following conditions:

  • To get the said stones in such place as the subscribers order, and in the manner and within the time they direct at their meetings
  • To lead them into the carts ordered to carry them away
  • To find all tools and utensils, except a trestle to hoist up the said stones
  • And to receive only such sums of money on account from time to time as the subscribers shall direct at their meetings

Stone merchants at the present day would think a penny per foot a curious price to receive for stone of sufficiently good quality for the walls of a church but even at this price the measurement was to be taken after the stones had been dressed and walled.

A meeting was held at the King's Head Inn, Sowerby on the 20th of April, 1759, when it was ordered "That Messrs Israel Wilde, Richard Thomas, John Butterworth, John Welsh, Joseph Wells, William Barker, William Starkey, Luke Greenwood, and George Stansfeld, or any of them lay in a quantity of timber not exceeding the value of £200, and about 500 of slate.

The quarry where it was decided to obtain the stone was on the moor at the top of Sowerby. At that time there was no proper cart road to it, and at a meeting held on the 4th of May, 1759, it was arranged that "any two of the said gentlemen do set out and make a carriage road from the Slack to the Long Causey." John Wilson was employed to do the dressing, walling, and finishing of the front, the east end, and west end, till he came to the steeple and he was to be paid as follow:

For the windows, the achlors between the windows, and the dados, 7d per foot; For the shafts of the pilasters and columns, within and without, 9d per foot; For the moulded work, 11d per foot; For the banisters, 5/- per banister; and for his care over and keeping an account of the labourers and others employed about the chapel, ten guineas, or twenty guineas, if he looses upon the whole

At a meeting held 1st June, 1759, it was ordered that such persons as undertake the carrying of stones from the Slack upon Blackwood Moor be paid the following prices:

For a man, horse and cart, bringing 48 square pounds, 10d per gate (or journey). For a man two horses, and cart, bringing 72 square pounds, 1/3d per gate; and one shilling per horse per day for any additional number of horses.

At a meeting of the subscribers on the 15th of June 1759, there were present Messrs, John welsh, George Stansfeld Israel Wile, David Waterhouse, Elkanah Holroyde, John Butterworth, Wm. Moore, Wm. Starkey, John Sutcliffe, John Tillotson, and John Garnett. It was ordered that 2/6d in the pound upon the subscriptions to be paid on Sunday, the 1st of July, after evening service, at the communion table!

A plan of the front of the building was laid before the subscribers, on the 13th of July, by John Wilson, the mason; and on the 27th of the same month he was ordered to prepare and lay before the next meeting a ground plan of a new church, to be the same length as the old one, but one yard wider; for it was thought that the old foundations would not bear the extra strain put upon them by raising the walls considerably higher. Whilst the plans for the new church were being matured, Geo Stansfeld, Esq., occupied no small portion of his time in obtaining additional subscriptions. The story is told of an old farmer living on his farm near Mytholmroyd who, when he saw Mr Stansfeld coming down the fields, guessed his object, and tried to hide himself. His fireplace was one of the old fashioned stamp, having an immense opening at the bottom. Into this opening the farmer got, but he was not sufficiently quick to get into the chimney out of sight. Mr Stansfeld caught him, and told him he wanted a subscription of a certain sum for the new church. Placing his sooty fingers on Mr Stansfeld's shoulder, on whose coat he left his mark, the farmer said

Nay Meister Stansfeld, aw connot doo't; aw connot doo't

Whether at last he managed to do it, the story says not.

On the 11th of January, 1760, another call of 2/6d in the pound upon the subscriptions was made, being made payable on the 27th of that month.

At a meeting on the 30th of May, 1760, as some disputes had arisen with John Law, the stone getter, concerning the bargain made with him, it was resolved that the said disputes be referred to Mr William Cockroft, Mr Stephen Atkinson and Mr William Whitworth, and that the determination be final. These arbitrators decided that the subscribers should take all the stones got by John Law, in consideration of £35 14/- already paid to him, and that all bargains and agreements betwixt the subscribers and John Law should henceforth cease and be of none effect. At a meeting of subscribers on the 12th of June it was ordered that John Wilson undertake the getting of the rest of the stones according to the late agreement made with John Law

On the 11th December, 1760, it was resolved, "that notice be given for the owners of seats in the chapel to appear on Sunday, the 21st of December inst. and the succeeding Sundays in the chapel, after evening service to make good their claims, in order to prevent disputes hereafter."

The following is a notice published in the chapel yard, on Sunday, the 22nd of March:

Notice is hereby given, that the foundation of the new chapel will be begun tomorrow, and it being holyday (holiday) time, if any young or well inclined persons are willing to give assistance, it will be taken very kindly

Pursuant to this notice, great numbers came on the Monday and Tuesday in Easter week 1760, and almost dug the foundation, so that wages began to be paid to labourers only on the Wednesday in Easter week. Thus the work of digging for the foundations of the present Church at Sowerby commenced on Easter Monday, March 23rd, 1760.

On the 30th of April, 1761, another call of 2/6d in the pound was ordered to be made.

The following is a copy or a petition sent to his Grace the Archbishop of York, May 8th, 1761:

To the most Reverend Father in God, John, by divine Providence Lord Archbishop of York, Primate of England, and Metropolitan.

The humble petition of the curate churchwardens, principal inhabitants, and landowners of and within the township of Sowerby, in the Parish of Halifax, in the County of York, and within your Grace's diocese of York, whose names are hereunto subscribed on behalf of themselves and others, the inhabitants of and within the said township.

Sheweth that there is within the said township of Sowerby an ancient but small chapel of ease, which by length of time is much decayed in the roof and other parts thereof. That by reason of the inhabitants within the said township, the said chapel is not capable of containing above two thirds of the inhabitants, who are desirous to attend divine worship therein, and for want of room many repair to Conventicles and Dissenters Meeting houses, that would otherwise attend divine worship in the said chapel, who have, in order thereto, contributed very considerable sums of money towards enlarging the same. Your petitioners therefore had intended to have raised the walls of the said ancient chapel so much higher, that they might have erected new galleries around the same sufficient to have contained all the inhabitants within the said township, but were advised to the contrary, because the said chapel stands on a steep declivity, very inconvenient of access to the said inhabitants, and difficult to be secured in its foundation. That the chapel yard or burying ground is so small that many of the dead are buried in the isles and under the seats within the said chapel, and the corpses of persons lately buried in the chapel yard are frequently mangled in digging to make room for others, to the great detriment and nuisance of the living.

That your petitioners being moved with a deep concern by these great inconveniences and frequent indecencies, and in order to remedy the same, as far as in them lies, and with a pious zeal and regard for the true religion of their country, have raised by a voluntary contribution among ourselves, the sum of one thousand two hundred pounds or thereabouts, and thereout have purchased and obtained a piece of ground adjoining the said chapel yard, containing 1,500 yards or thereabouts and in case your Grace be pleased to approve of their good designs, intend to build at their own expense, in and upon the said purchased piece of ground, an entire new chapel, sufficient to contain all the inhabitants within the said township, and to have the same, when built, consecrated to the honour and glory of God and for Divine uses; and they hope by entirely taking down and removing the old chapel, and thereby adding to the present chapel yard, sufficient room would be given for the burial of the dead therein. Therefore your petitioners most humbly pray your Grace's approbation of their designs, and that your Grace would vouchsafe to grant a license to take down and remove the old chapel, and to erect and build a new one on the said new purchased piece of ground, at the distance of 30 yards towards the south, from the said ancient chapel, together with seats and pews and lofts and galleries therein, for the use of the inhabitants of the said township, or give such orders and directions, in the premises as to our Grace shall seem most proper and convenient, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray for your Graces' welfare and prosperity.

Historical Notes on Sowerby Church – Part 9

The petition having been sent to the Archbishop of York, asking for permission to pull down the old church and to erect a new one, a list of names were sent to Mr Richard Mackley, Proctor, of York to be by him presented to the Archbishop, from which the latter could choose commissioners to enquire into the matter. The names of these gentlemen were the following:- Sir George Armitage, of Kirklees, Bart.; William Horton, of Chadderton, in the county of Lancaster; Joshua Horton, of Howroyde; Musgrave Briscoe, of Height; Richard Richardson, of Brierley; and Samuel Lister, of Horton, Esqs.; Dr Geo, Leigh, vicar of Halifax; Mr William Lamplugh, vicar of Dewsbury; Mr Samuel Sykes, vicar of Bradford; and Mr John Watson, curate of Ripponden.

The Commission received from His Grace the Archbishop of York was dated the 25th day of May, 1761, and concluded as follows:

That no detriment may accrue to the Mother Church of Halifax aforesaid, or the said chapel, or to the parishioners and inhabitants of or within the same or either of them, we have thought fit to issue this our commission impowering you, or any five of you, to take a view of the said chapel and new purchased piece of ground adjoining the said chapel yard, and enquire into the truth of the facts set forth in the above petition

On the 4th of June, 1761, five of the above gentlemen (the commissioners appointed) having examined the old church and the ground then recently purchased made a return to the Lord Archbishop of York certifying that the old church was in a bad state of repair, and placed in an inconvenient situation. The commissioners were Sir Geo. Armitage, Bart., Richard Richardson, Musgrave Briscoe, Joshua Horton, Esqs, and the Rev John Watson (the Halifax historian).

Again quoting from the memoranda made at the time by George Stansfeld, Esq., I find that at a meeting of the subscribers for rebuilding Sowerby Church, the meeting being held at the house of John Garnett, the King's Head, on the 11th of June, 1761, it was ordered.

That John Wilson be allowed and paid for getting, dressing, scouring, and setting the steps to go into the galleries, sixpence per foot, superficial measure. That Mr Jas. Whitworth, master of Sowerby school, be appointed, and he is hereby appointed, in the place of John Lumb, deceased, to confirm all orders and resolutions of the subscribers at their meetings, by signing the same in the book, in the presence of five or more subscribers

The license to take down the old church and build a new one, received from his Grace the Archbishop, was dated the 22nd of June, 1761, and was addressed

To our well beloved in Christ John Welsh, clerk, curate of Sowerby, in the parish of Halifax, in the county and diocese of York, George Stansfeld, David Waterhouse, Israel Wilde, John Priestley, Richard Thomas, John Lea, Wm. Moore, Joseph Wells, Jas. Riley, John Walker, Jas. Greenroyd, Elkanah Holroyd, Wm. Starkey, and Thomas Swain, inhabitants of and within the township of Sowerby aforesaid, greeting

It was resolved at a meeting held November 24th that

Mr John Sutcliffe be paid for the oak timber wanted from him at 1/6d per foot, to be delivered at the Church

At a meeting at Widow Garnett's, the 2nd July 1772, pursuant to adjournment

Mr Tillotson paid for the pew No. 51 below, for Breck, £5 5/-

On Thursday, the 16th July, 1772, Mr Tillotson paid the rest of his 10 subscriptions, £1 5/-. Mr John Tattersall paid balance of Church lay (rate) for 1771, £18 16/5d.

The Mr Tillotson here named lived at the Breck. He was the son of Joshua Tillotson (a nephew of the Archbishop), who married Martha, daughter of James Stansfeld, Esq., of Sowerby.

The following is a list of the subscriptions of £5 and upwards towards building Sowerby Church:

Name £
Geo. Stansfeld Esq 200
(for three of his sisters) 100
Israel Wilde 100
John Priestley, sen. & John Priestley jun. 100
Richard Thomas 60
William Moore 50
Joseph Wells 50
George Stansfeld for John Lea 50
John Welsh 20
James Riley 20
John Walker 20
James Greenroyd 20
William Barker 10
William Pollard 5
Thos. Swaine 10
Luke Greenwood 10
Elkanah Holroyde 10
John Butterworth 10
John Tillotson 10
William Starkey 10
James Farrar 10
John Sutcliffe 10
Michl. Norminton 10
John Smith 10
John Greenroyde 10
Mark Waddington 10
Geo Stansfeld for Miss Tillotson 5
Geo Stansfeld for E Stansfeld 5
David Waterhouse 5
Edward Wyld 5
John Riley 5
Thos. Greenwood 5
John Lumb 5
John Garnett 5
Samuel Wood 5
John Starkey 5
Cornelius Haigh 5
Simeon Eastwood 5
Giles Scott 5
Total £950

Afterwards Mr Wood, of the Street, subscribed £5 5/-, and Mr Israel Wilde, of Deerplay, £5. There were a large number of subscribers of smaller sums, and the total amount received, including the proceeds of the sale of the material of the old Church, amounted to £1,804 15/7¾d. It must be remembered that this amount would represent about three times the value it does at the present day, as is evidenced by the cost of labour and material in erecting this Church.

To show the rate of wages, &c, 120 years ago, the following items amongst other "small charges" may be given

    £ s d
MAY 21 Opening a road from Slack to the Long Causeway, one day, 31 men, and 1/8d Drinkings 1 14 3
July 24 Mending Road to Moor, 4 days   4 0
March 19 Two men, six days, getting Foundation stones 0 13 6
Sept 3 For getting Stones in Snape Wood, leading, and laying them in the foundation of the Steeple 11 13
  Leading Stones for the Steeple – To G Stansfeld for man, three horses, and cart, three days 0 13 6
  labourer 4 days 0 4 4
April 15 Man, 2 horses and cart, 1 day, leading Sand 0 3 6
  D Garnett, for himself and son, one day 0 2 2

The entire cost of building, Sowerby Church was £2,909 12/8¾d.

After the subscriptions has been expended, George Stansfeld, Esq., advanced the money as it was required; and in addition to his large subscriptions, he afterwards contribute a very large proportion of the total cost.

The contractors for erecting this Church, with the amounts of their contracts, are shown in the following summary of the whole accounts:

  £ s d
Timber for deals 604 12 11½
Timber for seats 38 12 0
John Emmet, glazier and plumber 128 5 0
John Wilson, mason's work 817 15 5
Carriage of stones 158 13
Joshua Wilson (shed walling 3/- a rood) &c 5 13 0
John Cockroft & Co. getting and dressing inside wallstones 52 10 0
Carriage of stones 27 14 9
North Gallery 25 16 9
Nathaniel Exley, plasterer 120 17 6
J & J Wilson, masons 10 14
William Bradley, joiner's work 186 6 3
Sundries 731 19
Total cost of Church 2,909 12

When the old Church was pulled down, the east window and other portions of the ancient fabric were purchased by George Stansfeld, Esq. and he had them removed to Fieldhouse, where they were again erected. Ever since that time these beautiful remains of Sowerby old Church have been carefully preserved, and today are objects of interest and beauty. The fine gothic arch of the east window divided into 27 lights by finely carved mullions, and having a circular light in the centre of the arch, is rendered more picturesque by the dark green foliage of the ivy by which it is mantled. The belfry, one side of which rests on the apex of the window and the other is supported by two pillars which rise for a considerable height from the ground, was formerly placed on the centre of the roof, but as it was subsequently feared that it would be too heavy for that position, it was removed to its present place. The longer a visitor views the symmetrical beauty of this piece of architecture, the more he admires its excellent proportions and its finely finished details. Two bells are hung in the belfry, one is dated 1770, and the other 1796, so that they could not have belonged to the old Church at Sowerby. One cannot but admire the feeling which led the owner to preserve these memorials of the old Church from the hand of the spoiler.

The two beautifully designed pillars, with caps, at the entrance to the new Sowerby Town House are stated by those who know, to be correct representative of two pillars which were removed from Sowerby old Hall, the property of John Rawson, Esq. and which probably were about the same age as the old Church.

The new Church (the present one) was dedicated, like the last, to St Peter, and was opened for divine worship January 3rd, 1763, though it was not consecrated until many years afterwards.

Historical Notes on Sowerby Church – Part 10

Sowerby Church having been erected, an attempt was made to obtain parochial rights and privileges for the new church, and at the same time to throw off all responsibility and surrender all rights, in connections with the Halifax Parish Church. A correspondence was opened with the Archbishop of York, and the scheme promoted by Sowerby was as strenuously opposed by Halifax. The following curious letters throw some light on these times, and show that the relations of some of the out-townships with the Parish Church at Halifax are not of the most friendly character:

Sowerby the 18th November, 1763. May it please your Grace, We beg leave to return you, our humble thanks for the favours receiv'd at Brodsworth; and as then directed, to lay before your Grace the following reasons for making our township into a distinct parish.

  1. Our Parish Church is not large enough to contain the parishioners to whom it belongs; and being distant three miles from the nearest part of Sowerby, and above seven miles for the farthest part thereof, is therefore not only very inconvenient for the inhabitants, but all publications of banns of marriage, being at the Parish Church, the intention of the act for preventing clandestine marriages is not answered; as the inhabitants of our own township do not resort thither to divine service
  2. Our township is from east to west, viz. from Sowerby Bridge (where the Calder Navigation is to end) to the upper part of Blackwood, above four miles; and from north to south viz. from Mytholmroyd Bridge to Soyland Mills Bridge, above three miles, has all its own parish officers; make all assessments within itself, distinct from the other townships of the parish; and is computed to contain above five thousand inhabitants, who carry on a great trade in different kinds of woollen goods, whereby the number of inhabitants has of late years very much increased, and is still likely to increase more and more every year
  3. By reason of which increase our chapel formerly built became too small, and our cemetery also not large enough for burying of the dead. We have therefore provided ground to enlarge the cemetery; and have thereon (as being a more convenient situation) built solely at the expense of our own inhabitants and landowners, and are now finishing, a sufficiently large and commodious church, computed with the pews, to cost above two thousand pounds; towards raising whereof we have not, nor do we intend to trouble the country with a brief
  4. Having thus built our selves a commodious church, we are very desirous to have it made parochial by act of parliament; and are willing to give up to the town of Halifax all our rights in our old Parish Church; which rights are only about forty shillings a year short of our usual quota towards the repairs of the said Parish Church. And should your Grace think us deserving of a Parish Church of our own we very humbly submit it whether our paying any thing besides giving up our rights to the inhabitants of Halifax, wou'd not be laying a burden upon us, to ease them at the same time that their church lay scarce amounts to one penny halfpenny in the pound
  5. In order to make the living also distinct, we hope to obtain (as in other acts of Parliament) the Easter dues (which we suppose are about £30 a year) as an augmentation, which with the lands now belonging the curacy will make £105 a year; and as we make so large a settlement upon the church, we farther hope with the assistance your Grace kindly offered us, to obtain as much from the governors of the bounty, as will make it £120 a year
  6. Being sensible (from what has happen'd in other places) of the confusion and disorder that may arise on every vacancy of a minister when the election is in the inhabitants; we never proposed having the patronage of our Church vested in our selves; but intending to pursue the plan of the acts for the 50 churches, and various others enacted for the service of populous trading places like ours; such as Bethnal Green, and St Philip and Jacob in Bristol. We had thoughts of having our living after a vacancy, under the same patronage as Halifax; but as hinted at Brodsworth, we should think ourselves peculiarly happy under the patronage of your Grace, and you successors Archbishops of York; as we should thereby have the strongest assurances and confidence that we and our posterity should always be supplied with able and discreet ministers, worthy of the maintenance we intend to secure to them
  7. We have in our township great numbers of sectarists of different denominations, who are rather moved to dissent from the Church by reason their own meeting houses have full as many privileges as our own chapel., but if parochial privileges were granted to us they would be strong motives to conformity to the Established Church

If my Lord, these improvements meet with your approbation, and you should advise us to lay our petition before parliament; we have yet another very important improvement of a different nature, which we desire to have included in the act, and which we therefore, thinking it our duty to mention. - We have, my Lord, in our township some waste barren moors, of little, or no benefit to us in their present state. But as lands are much wanted, if power was obtained to improve them; they would not only make room for an additional number of useful hands for the manufactory, but also produce some necessaries towards their subsistence, and be of public utility. These my Lord are the improvements which an industrious people earnestly wish to be enabled to make, and thereto humbly crave your Grace's advice and assistance.

We are, My Lord,

Your Grace's most dutiful and most obliged servants.

JOHN WELSH, Curate of Sowerby

on behalf of the inhabitants


PS We have taken the liberty to send your Grace under two covers, the act for dividing the parish of St Philip and Jacob in Bristol – We have also the acts for the 50 churches and various others, which we shall also send up, if your Grace pleases to permit us. In all these acts the new parishes are exempted from all charges and impositions to the old church, and the dues go to the new rector of vicar

Probably a copy of this letter was ordered by the Archbishop to be sent to the vicar and churchwardens at Halifax, for their remarks thereon. The following answer was returned by Halifax;

Halifax, Jan. 17, 1764

  1. The Parish Church may not be large enough to contain all the parishioners to whom it belongs, which is probably one reason (tho' not the principal one) why so many chapels of ease have been erected in the parish; but it is large enough to contain those who usually resort to it, and the inhabitants of Sowerby besides, shou'd they chuse to come to it, and may be still much more enlarged. They are constant attendants at Halifax markets weekly; and being in general within three or four miles of the church (the chapel of Sowerby being within three miles of the said church), and within about half a mile of another chapel, in the said parish; which other is within about two miles of the said church, and within about half a mile of another chapel, in the said parish; which other is within about two miles and a half of the said Parish Church, in a good turnpike road) can be in no danger of suffering any inconveniences from clandestine marriages; the intention of the late act is as well answer'd here, as in any large parish, and banns of marriage having never been published in Sowerby chapel previous to the making that law, they are not put into any worse situation by it. We humbly submit it to your Grace whether that law was ever intended as a foundation for the division of parishes
  2. Sowerby has not all its parish officers, neither does it make all assessments within itself; for it is connected with Soyland within the parochial chapelry of Eland, as to the constable tax; and is divided into four quarters or districts, viz. Sowerby, Blackwood, Westfield and Soyland, and has commonly been call'd Sowerby cum Soyland, Soyland having been reckon'd equal in value to any of the other three quarters or districts which are now all call'd Sowerby and has been assess'd accordingly; but great disputes have of late arise between the inhabitants of the districts, as to the particular value of each; and the method of assessing, much like those now on the carpet between Halifax and Sowerby. They have greatly mistaken the number of their inhabitants; for computing five to a family which we apprehend to be the common method of calculation in a case of this sort (tho'; in this particular case above the truth) they do not appear according to the vicar's list (which may be depended on), being yearly regulated with great exactness to be more than 2700, and if the lists deliver'd in on rising the militia are to be regarded (and surely they shou'd, for they are deliver'd in upon oath) and a calculation is to be made from them; the inhabitants of Sowerby including those of Soyland, which is part of their constabulary; and which contains about 1300 inhabitants don't amount to two thirds of the number they have stated
  3. The walls of the old chapel were extremely good, and the chapel was itself sufficiently large and commodious and more than capable in the state it then was, without adding an additional gallery, of containing all the inhabitants of the township, nay it was even capable of holding more than the new one in its present state; and as to what is said as to the cemetery being too small, is not founded on fact, for there was fresh ground sufficient to bury numbers in many parts of it, even immediately after the greatest mortality ever remembered in the neighbourhood, which happen'd just before they pull'd down their chapel. But supposing the cemetery had been too little, it might have been enlarged very conveniently without erecting a new chapel in new ground; which they say is a more convenient situation but in that we beg leave to differ from them, unless by convenient they mean ostentatious only
  4. They say their rights in the Parish Church are only about 40/- a year short of their usual quota towards the repairs of it. But to bring them so near upon a balance they have made use of various evasive methods; one of these evasions being that of refusing by their warden to consent to so much money being laid out in repairing the church, as has been necessary or the proper immediate support of the fabrick, over and above its other necessaries in repairs, &c, arising from neglects (those neglects arising from the perverseness of Sowerby, and of some of the other tributary unparochial townships) which other necessaries amount to one thousand pounds, as the very man at the head of these proposals to your Grace has acknowledged. Another of their said evasions being that of their making at every year's end unusual and arbitrary deductions from the accounts of what has been laid out; By means of which deductions the quota of Halifax is much increased, at the same time that the church is every year in worse repair than before, and the inhabitants of Halifax have for peace sake, and to avoid law suits, for several years last, submitted to reimburse their own wardens the sum of such unreasonable deductions, rather than they shou'd lose the money, which has in fact been giving up so much to Sowerby, and may probably have induced them, to expect the further gratuity they now seem to have in view; But even after all these unfair deductions, their rights in the church are above 40/- a year short of the quota they now pay; and they must have acknowledged them to be far more than 40/- short, had they not in their calculation supplied the offertory money they receive from the wardens of Halifax, not obligatorily but gratuitously, in part of payment; which we are well assured your Grace will think a very improper disposal of it. And tho' the church lay in Halifax may not be quite so high as the church lay in Sowerby, yet their ancestors paid their quota to the repairs of Halifax church, without making any deductions; well knowing they had purchased their estates subject to the payment of the church lay; and that it wou'd be iniquitous to withhold what they had had an adequate allowance for, in making those purchases
  5. The Easter dues arising in their township don't amount to so much by nearly one third, as they have stated; and several of the principal inhabitants who have been made acquainted with the scheme, and who 'till they heard of it at Halifax, were totally ignorant of it notwithstanding Mrs Stansfeld and Mr Priestly have sign'd the letter to your Grace on behalf of the inhabitants, and who utterly condemn the said letter and declare they are so far from being willing to charge their estates with £30 per annum, or any other sum for the purpose mention'd in the said letter, that they are determin'd never to consent to it
  6. With respect to the patronage, we can only say it is not in their disposal; and if it was, from the knowledge we have of the people we conclude they wou'd not be happy in having it vested in themselves. And whether the Vicar of Halifax for the time being, be not more likely to supply them with able and discreet ministers, and such as are suitable to their dispositions and the place (as having them more immediately under his eye) than the most worthy and prudent patron at a distance (unacquainted with them and the place, can be supposed to be; we beg leave to submit it to your Grace's superior judgment being well assured, that the hint given by them of their peculiar happiness under your Grace's patronage, will have no influence with you Grace in the determination of a matter so important to your people and their posterity
  7. We grant there are many sectarists in their township; and so there are in most trading places in this part of the country; far more in proportion in many places than in Sowerby, but it can never be believed that they dissented from the Established Church because their meeting houses had more (which we suppose to be the meaning of full as many) privileges than the late chapel at Sowerby; for it is very evident it is more expensive to be a sectarist there, than to resort to the Establish'd Church
  8. The inclosure of some of the commons and waste ground within Sowerby, to be annexed to the chapel, wou'd no doubt be a great improvement, and what the inhabitants may reasonably desire; but when it is consider'd, that by a law now in being they have a right to inclose sixty acres of their commons or wastes or a sixth part not exceeding that quantity, with the consent of the lord of the manor, and three parts in four of the freeholders, and others having right of common therein according to their number and the value of their respective estates, and to vest it in trustees for the benefit of their Minster pursuant to the statue of the 12 of Queen Ann, stat. 1 c 4. It is hoped no new law will be thought immediately necessary for such purpose; nor wou'd any act of parliament for a further inclosure be wanted for many generations, if ever, for such sixty acres (even taking the best of their commons) cou'd not be properly cultivated in a great number of years, and when cultivated would be so valuable that the curacy of Sowerby being at present about seventy pounds per annum, would stand in no need of further augmentation; And if the money which would be expended in an application to parliament shou'd your Grace advise 'em to prefer their petition (which we hope will never be the case) was frugally laid out in inclosing and cultivating their commons pursuant to the above statute, we humbly submit it to your Grace, whether it would not be a more eligible disposal of it as it wou'd tend to the certain private advantage of them and their minister, and to the good of the public in general; whereas an act of parliament for the purpose they desire would not only impoverish the vicarage, but tend to it's utter ruin without any real advantage to themselves. For if they obtain any such act, all the other chapelries in the parish (not to say every other chapelry in England, for no unparochial chapel can be more dependent upon and have stronger connections with its parish church that the unparochial chapel at Sowerby has with its Parish Church at Halifax) may with equal propriety ask the like( some have hinted that already) and as we may naturally conclude all of them may intend it; and if the whole attempt succeeded in this manner the mother church which is a very ancient, venerable, and cathedral like structure whose ordinary wants require at least one hundred pounds per ann, the burden of which is now divided among ten townships to supply them; must in a few years be reduced to ruins; for no tax in Halifax only, which wou'd have the least appearance of reason, wou'd be sufficient to support it; neither wou'd the profits of the vicarage maintain the Vicar and his family tho ever so frugal, and keep the vicarage house and building upon the glebe in tenantable repair

The hazard of future damages to the church by fire, tempest, and other unforeseen accidents, as well as the repairs immediately wanted, through the late designing neglects, may likewise deserve a very serious consideration; before any innovation can be admitted which would lessen the number of those persons who ought to contribute their rated proportion towards making good such damage and repairs; and wou'd increase the burden of those who are to be charged with the expense of other people's shares as well as their own, in the repairs and maintenance of such a large and costly church, as that of Halifax.

Add to this, that the first fruits and tenths of Halifax, paid by the Vicar, are rated remarkably higher than livings of above thrice the value of Halifax, this being charged in the king's books for first fruits at eighty four pounds, thirteen shillings and six pence halfpenny, and for tenths, eight pounds nine shillings and ten pence farthing

This is where the cuttings end

© Malcolm Bull 2024
Revised 22:00 / 2nd April 2024 / 137166

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