Eng. (Lancashire). Parish Bury.

The registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) online

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indebted to this excellent divine for the Holy Trinity Church, in
this town, which he erected at his own expense, thus evincing in
the most decided manner his laudable anxiety for the best
interests of his parishioners.

29. Samuel Knight, M.A. of Magdalen College, Cambridge ;
the first incumbent of Trinity Church above mentioned, was
instituted on the 29th Dec. 1817; died on the 7th January, 1827,
and lies interred in the Chancel. Being a native of the parish, the
reader is respectfully referred to the Biographical Notices for a short
memoir of this most exemplary divine.

30. Charles Musgrave, B. D. of Trinity College, Cambridge,
Vicar of Whitkirk, in this County, the present respected ^'icar,
was instituted on the 30th of March, 1827, and inducted on the
following day. This Gentleman has since been presented to the
Prebendal Stall of Givendale. in the Cathedral of York.


There is little on record respecting the history of the Parish,
during the middle ages, to call forth any historical remarks.
Situated in a rugged and mountainous district ; and in a remote
part of the country, out of the direct line of communication between
the Metropolis and the capital of the North ; the parish of Halifax,
does not appear to have been involved in any of those calamitous
wars which at various periods of our national history, but more
particularly during the middle ages, desolated the populous and
fertile districts of Yorkshire : not forgetting "that fatal quarrel,
which was not finished in less than thirty years — which was signa-
nalized by twelve pitched battles — which opened a scene of
extraordinary fierceness and cruelty — and which was computed to
have cost the lives of eighty princes of the blood ; and to have
almost annihilated the ancient nobility of England."

A commission was issued the 12th Henry VI, the main design
of which was to obtain a return of the number of Gentry within the
County who were favorable to the house of York. The return is
altogether disproportionate to the extent of numbers, there are only
two gentlemen returned as residents within this Parish, viz.
Robt. Pylkington de Ayringden, arm :
Thos. RadcliiFe de Bradley, arm :

During the civil war between Charles the First and the Parliament
Halifax identified itself with the cause of the latter, (this was gene-
rally the case with the manufacturing towns :) but it does not appear
to have suffered to the same extent with some of its contemporaries,
and this may have arisen, in a great degree, from the cause I have
before stated, namely, its untoward situation. From its locality it
was ill fitted by nature to act on the defensive in a state of warfare ;
we are nevertheless informed, that it was made use of as a garrison


against the king, and Clarendon, in speaking of the strength
which the Parliament had in the North in the year 1642, says
"Leeds, Halifax and Bradford, (three very populous and rich towns,
which, depending wholly upon clothiers, too much maligned the
gentry) were wholly at their disposal ;" and he represents the Lord
Fairfax as quitting Selby, Cawood, and Tadcaster, and retiring to
Pontefract and Halifax, and Drake in his Eboracum, observes, that
in tliat retreat,( which was after the battle at Tadcaster,) "Sheffield,
Wakefield, Leeds, Halifax and Bradford, and several other towns
and garrisons against the king, were in six weeks' space, by the
valour and conduct of the Lord General (Newcastle) reduced to his
Majesty's subjection ; but by the various chance of war, lost and
won again, sometimes by one party, and sometimes by another,"
and Yorkshire spite of all precautions, was for some time a scene
of bloodshed and misery. An obstinate action is stated to have
taken place on the top of Halifax Bank, adjoining the old road
leading to Wakefield, and the gTound retains the name of the
bloody-field, to this day. Dugdale in his Baronage, vol, iii. page
421, says, that William earl of Newcastle, obtained victories
among other places, at Tadcaster, Sheffield, Rotherham, Yarum,
Beverley, Cawood, Selby, Halifax, Leeds, and Bradford, all in
Yorkshire ; indeed the forces in these parts must have been consider-
able, to have given them the name of the Halifax army. The town
appears to have been strongly infected with republican principles ;
for Vicars in his Parliamentary Chronicle, p. 240, says, that in
December, 1642, when Bradford was attacked by part of the earl
of Newcastle's army, succour came in speedily from Halifax, and
other parts, and that they had borrowed a commander of Halifax ;
and in the next page, that "there came to their aid from Halifax,
some firemen and clubmen." Also when Leeds was taken by Sir
Thomas Fairfax, many of his men are said to have been inexperienced
fresh-water soldiers, taken up about Bradford and Halifax, on the
Saturday before the action. Again, when the attack on Wakefield
was resolved on by Lord Fairfax, an order was given for a party of
a thousand foot, three companies of dragoons, and eight troops of
horse, to march from the garrisons of Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, and
Howley. Lastly, it appeared from a letter in the possession of
colonel Goring, who was taken prisoner at Wakefield, that hi?


father, lord Goring, had advised him to get, with his forces, between
Bradford and Halifax, to separate the friends of the parliament, in
all their designs. Heptonstall, it appears, was a garrison for the
king. There is an entry in the register at Halifax in these words,
"Jan. 4, 1643, two soldiers were hanged on a gaUows made near
the gibbet, who were taken by Sir Francis Makworth's company,
from Heptonstall forces. They had deserted from the Halifax
army to Heptonstall, for which they were hanged the same night
they were taken prisoners." Tradition informs us that an action
was fought in that neighbourhood, between the roundheads and
cavaliers, and a great part of the town of Heptonstall was burnt ;
but as there are no written memorials to be found concerning this
encounter, we may suppose that it was not of much consequence.

The intrenchments, remains of which are still to be seen at
Camp-end, above Warley, were doubtless thrown up at that time ;
as also were two small redoubts on each side of the old road over
Blackstone-edge, just at the summit of the hill, which are said to
have been formed with great military sldll. That they were thrown
up in these troublesome times, appears from the following extract,
taken from the 16th page of a pamphlet entitled, "An historical
relation of eight year's services for king and parliament, done in and
about Manchester and those parts, by Lieut. Col. John Rosworm,
London, printed in the year 1649." "About July 4th, (1642) the
earl of Newcastle, with no small force, made an angry approach
towards Lancashire, our men (at Manchester) were sent out to
opjjose his passage ; the issue was, our men were soundly beaten at
Wisket-hill, in Yorkshire, and pursued into Lancashire by the
enemy, who quickly also possessed himself of Halifax. When I had
received this sad intelligence, I informed myself of the nature of
the passes, by which the enemy most easily could come in upon us ;
and finding them capable of a sudden fortification, by the consent
of the deputy lieutenants, I quickly helped nature with art,
strengthening Blackstone-edge, and Blackegate, and manning them
with soldiers, to prevent the earl's dangerous approach, by which
means being diverted, like an angry storm with a gust, he went to
the siege of Hull."

In the parliamentary history of England, Col. Birch is thus
represented as writing to the Parliament from Newcastle, Sepr. 9,


1657. "I think the Scots King (Charles II) came this day with
Lieutenant General Lesley, and Lieutenant General Middleton, who
were taken on Blackstone-edge, in the moors between Rochdale and
Halifax, and we believe that he escaped towards Yorkshire in some
disguise." This was immediately after the battle of Worcester.

It appears from Willis' Notitia Parliamentaria, that Halifax
returned a representative to Parliament at the time of the Common-
wealth, in the person of Jeremy Bentley, gent., in a parliament
which began at Westminster, Sepr. 3, J 654. He was also returned
a second time by the title of Jeremy Bentley, Esq., in 1656, but it
does not appear that he tooli part in any of the strange debates which
characterized the times. The reason for these unprecedented
returns may be seen in Rapin, Clarendon, and other historians.

In treating of this unhappy period of our national history, I have
exclusively confined myself to such matters of narrative, as related
more immediately to the history of the place.

Notwithstanding the part which the population of the manufac-
turing districts took in the great Rebellion, there is every reason
to believe, from the narratives of the best informed historians, that
it was with feelings of satisfaction and joy the great majority
of our countrymen in these parts, hailed the return of Charles II. to
the throne of his ancestors ; and well they might. They had seen
the destruction of order and the evil of confusion to their fullest
extent ; they had seen the possession of power thrown into the
hands, not of the best, but of the strongest ; they had seen the
laws over-ruled, and their rights abolished ; they had seen the
soldier seize upon their property, and the fanatic rush into the
church ; they had seen the power of faction, commenced by clamour,
promoted by rebellion, and established by murder, the atrocity of
which was only equalled by its cruelty, by murder not necessary
even to the safety of those by whom it was committed, but chosen
in preference to any other expedient for security ;* such were the
evils they had seen, well might they consider the "happy restoration"
of their exiled monarch an "unspeakable mercy."

To this period of our history may be traced the introduction of
Nonconformity into the district. In shortly treating of its rise and
progress, I shall as far as practicable confine myself to a simple
narration of facts,

* Or. .Tolni-;on,


It may be necessary to premise that on the restoration of king
Charles II, the terms of communion were purposely narrowed in
order to exclude many of the old ministers, who by remaining in
possession of their pulpits would have had too much influence over
the minds of the people. This exclusion arose from a non-compliance,
or in other words a non-conformity, with the requisitions of the
Uniformity act. This act enjoined that all those ministers who
would not comply with its terms should resign their situations in
the establishment, on the 24th August, 1662, and that their places
should be filled by others, in the same manner as if they were
deceased. In public commotions, as well as private contentions, it
is too frequently found that there have been grounds for censure on
one part, as well as the other. With respect to the occurrences
now referred to, a great diversity will be found in the sentiments of
writers of eminence and respectability. Bishop Burnet says, " many
of the ejected ministers were distinguished by their abilities and
zeal ;" and Mr. Locke remarks " Bartholomew day was fatal to our
church and religion, as throwing out a very great number of worthy,
learned, pious, and orthodox divines, who could not come up to
some things in the act of uniformity." On the other hand. Dr.
"Whitaker observes that "in this rigorous and exclusive requirement,
the government were justified by the necessity of the case : many
of these men were not only avowedly hostile to the new Govern-
ment., but joined in a perpetual confederacy against it, and therefore
deservedly excluded." The real hardship of the case was that of the
Presbyterians, who wished well to a limited monarchy, but covdd
not bring themselves to submit to an episcopal hierarchy. Two
thousand ministers at that time vacated their livings, many of them
very valuable, without any prospect of support, so, that in the
judgment of charity, there is reason to believe they were influenced
by principle, and not by sinister motives.

A great majority of the ejected ministers were attached to the
Presbyterian discipline, and the churches they formed were of
that denomination. Among the number of those who, in this district,
were ejected from their pulpits, in consequence of their non-con-
formity, the name of Oliver Heywood occupies a prominent place.
The public are indebted to the biographers of that gentleman, for


much information relating to the local history of these times,
selected from his diary.

The Reverend Oliver Heywood was descended from a highly
respectable family, the youngest branch of the house of Heywood,
an ancient esquire's seat between Rochdale and Bury ; at the age of
1 8 he was entered of Trinity College, Cambridge ; where he
remained until he had taken his bachelor's degree, and then returned
to his father's house. In the year 1650 he was invited to accept the
incumbency of Coley in this Parish, to which he acceded. The Pres-
byterian form of church government being at the time predominant
in England, he was ordained after the form of that church, by the
second class of Lancashire ministers at Bury. At the time he
undertook the charge of Coley he attempted to establish, as far as
existing circumstances permitted, the presbyterian discipline, in
which he partly succeeded : and when licences were granted, in
1672, he formed a church at Northowram, and conducted it on the
principles of moderate presbyterianism.

The arbitrary measures of Cromwell and his adherents had in-
duced the more respectable portion of the presbyterians to feel anxious
for the return of their lawful sovereign ; among the number of these
was Mr. Heywood, who really wished well to the reigning monarch,
but could not conscientiously comply with the requisitions of the
Uniformity Act, in consequence whereof he was ejected from his
incumbency, and his excommunication published in Halifax

In the year 1672, a Royal declaration was issued, suspending
the laws that had been passed against the non- conformists ; this
declaration acknowledged "that there was very little fruit of all
those forcible methods which had been used for reducing erring and
dissenting persons."

In the Northowram Register, p. 16. there is a considerable
blank, and at the bottom of the page, Mr. Heywood has A\Titten,
"This long interval of almost ten years I was parted from the
exercise of my ministerial functions by the act of Uniformity in
August, 1662 : restored again to my work, by the king's decla-
ration, March 12th, 1672, to ministerial employment in my own
house." In the following May he received the Royal licence, and
accordingly made use of it ; and on the r2th June, a covenant was


entered into between Mr. Heywood, and his congregation at North-
owram, and a church formed on presbyterian principles.

Prior to the formation of this church a congregational society
had been established at Sowerby Bridge, under the care of a Mr.
Root, of Magdalen College, Cambridge, who was for some time a
preacher at Halifax Church, and who collected a congregational
society at Sowerby Chapel in 1 645. These two churches of Sowerby
and Northowram joined in communion, and gained a considerable
accession of members, the society meeting at the house of Mr.
Heywood in Northowram.

This may be considered as the foundation of the first dissenting
society in the parish. Dr. Hook, at that time vicar, has been repre-
sented as manifesting a violent spirit of hostility against Mr. Heywood
and his followers ; but after all that can be said, his hostility (if the
performance of a duty can be deemed an hostile act) never exceeded
a very proper request that he might have a sight of Mr, Heywood's
licences. In Mr. Heywood's diary is the following entry ; "Mr.
Horton having erected a meeting place at Sowerby, and having
procured a licence, desired me to begin a weekly lecture, on Tuesday,
May 6th, 1673, which accordingly I did." This Mr. Horton is
represented in the Northo\vram Register, as a pious man, ajustice of
the peace who had £ 1 000 a-y ear . The father of Archbishop Tillotson
is stated to have been a member of this society. Scarcely a year had
elapsedsincetheissuingof the King's Royal declaration, but we find,
from the Rev. Gentleman's diary, that places of worship were erected
by the non-conformists, not only at Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, (this in
all probability was Northgate Chapel) and Wakefield ; but dissent-
ing Chapels were also built in the adjacent villages, atWarley, Sow-
erby, Eastwood, Mixenden, Kipping, Bingley, Idle, Pudsey,
Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike, &c, besides the chapel at Northowram.
The episcopal chapel at Morley, venerable for its antiquity, at that
time fell into the hands of the dissenters.

The liberty enjoyed by the non-conformists was not of long
duration. The king had unadvisedly outstretched his royal preroga-
tive ; the house of Commons voted the royal declaration illegal, and
were quieted only by the assurance that it should not be brought
into a precedent. At the close of the year 1674 the licences that
had been granted were recalled, the restrictive laws again put in


force, and the privations and persecutions of the non- conformists
were carried on in some places with increased severity. Among
other instances the following is recorded: — "Yesterday, August
19th, (1675) the pursuivants took up several persons at or about
Halifax, and are taking up others to day to carry them to York,
before the duke, on what account is not known."

In the year 1685 sentence of excommunication was pronounced
against Mr. Heywood in Halifax church ; and he was convicted at
Wakefield on the charge of having a riotous assembly in his house,
lined £50 and ordered to enter into recognizances for his good beha-
viour, and in default he was committed to York Castle, from whence
he was afterwards released on the payment of £30.

During his imprisonment, Charles II. died and was succeeded by
his brother JamesII. Little as the non- conformists had to hope from
Charles, they had no reason to anticipate more favorable treatment
from his royal successor, who was an acknowledged papist ; but
their fears do not appear to have been well founded. About two
years after his accession a declaration was issued, entitled "his
majesty's gracious declaration" " for liberty of conscience," in which
he gave liberty "to all his loving subjects to meet and serve God
after their own way and manner in private houses and places hired
and buUt for that purpose," No sooner was this declaration issued
than Mr, Heywood rented a large room near Halifax Bank Top,
where he commenced preaching, July 3rd, 1687, and officiated
every Sunday; here it appears "he had great attendance of
people," Emboldened by the liberty enjoyed through the king's
declaration, and encouraged by their increasing numbers, the
dissenters turned their thoughts towards the erection of a permanent
convenient place for public worship. Hitherto Mr, Heywood's
hearers had assembled in his own house which was not sufficient to
accommodate them ; various attempts appear to have been made to
erect a chapel, which was at last etfected through Mr, Heywood's
personal exertions, and he had the satisfaction of opening for divine
service on the 8th July, 1688, the chapel in Northowram, which
continues in existence to this day.

We have now brought down the period of our history to the
glorious revolution. "The alarm and danger (says Dr. Toulmin)
which the church of England felt during the reign of James II,


arising in a great measure from his precipitate and violent attempts
to introduce popery, contributed much to prepare the way for the
act of toleration ; by disposing the members and the clergy of the
establishment to make a common cause with the dissenters as
against a common enemy." " The prince of Orange" (says Burnet,)
" always thought that conscience was God's province ; and that it
ought not to be imposed upon ; and his experience in Holland made
him look on toleration as one of the wisest measures of government."
Previously to the revolution, the bishops and clergy with great
unanimity had acknowledged the necessity of widening the ecclesi-
astical foundation, and of forming a closer connection with foreign
protestants. In the language of lord Mansfield, "The toleration act
rendered that which was illegal before, now legal ; the dissenting
way of worship is permitted and allowed by that act ; it is not only
exempted from punishment, but rendered innocent and lawful ; it
is established ; it is put under the protection, and is not merely at
the connivance of the law." The act unquestionably reflected a glory
on the sera to which it gave a date, and laid the basis of that religious
liberty which has been the felicity and honour of succeeding times ;
" I will maintain toleration inviolable!" was the ever memorable
declaration of the "father of his people;" a declaration which it has
been the pride of his royal successors to confirm, and which we have
no reason to fear will be abrogated under the paternal sway of the
royal descendants of his illustrious house.

It is now my duty to return to the order of dates. About the
year 1693 a school was erected in Northowram, of which Mr.
David Hartley was the tutor ; Lord Wharton, a noted puritan of the
time, maintained six scholars at this school.

Public worship among the Dissenters being at this time protected
by the law, the number of meeting houses increased. In Mr. Hey-
wood's diary for 1 697 he says, that at Halifax the people have built a
large meeting place, and that several of his hearers at Northowram
were gone from them to Halifax. The following fact may not prove
uninteresting to some of my readers, shewing, as it certainly does,
not only what a minister was expected to tolerate at that period ;
but also the income of one who was exceedingly popular among the
non-conformists. At the close of the year 1697, Mr. Heywood thus
writes "I think I am put to more charges than any minister, my


house standing near my synagogue, there is scarcely a Lord's day
but I have six, eight, or ten persons at dinner at my table, besides
many others who have bread and broth. On sacrament days,
which are every eight weeks, we have usually about twenty that
eat with us :" speaking of his income he adds, " I have some yearly
rents coming in from Lancashire, about £14 a year ; £7 a year from
Sowerby ; and of late £7 15s. from Holdsworth. Lady Hewley
hath usually given me £5 a year, and Lord Wharton £3." Mr.
Heywood was a preacher fifty two years, and only about half that
number were years of liberty. From a regular statement it appears
that from 1665, at which time the conventicle act passed, till 1701
inclusive, a term of thirty seven years, seventeen of which only were
years of public liberty, and most of them after he had reached sixty
years of age, he preached on week-days, besides his regular work
on the sabbath-day, 3027 sermons, kept 1256 fasts, observed 314
thanksgiving days, and travelled on preaching excursions 31,345
miles. Mr. Heywood died May 4th, 1702, aged 73, audit is gen-
erally supposed he was interred in Houldsworth's chapel, on the
south side of the Parish Church. For a detailed account of this
excellent man, the reader is referred to his Memoirs, they may be
perused with considerable interest as giving an account of a most ex-
emplary Christian, who amidst a series of privations and suiferings
maintained a consistency of conduct, in every respect worthy of his
high profession.

The name at first given to the dissentients from the church of
England, after the re-establishment of the reformation from Popery
in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was that of Puritans. When the
Prince of Orange came to the throne, he found these dissentients
divided into several bodies, each respectable for number and influence,
and which, during the civil wars, and in the reign of the second
Charles, had risen to importance : these were Presbyterians, Inde-
pendents and Baptists : to them was added a sect of recent origin,
the society of Friends commonly called Quakers.

About the year 1735 there arose a sect called the Wesleyan
Methodists ; their origin may be considered as the commencement
of a new era in the religious world : comprising, as they now do, a
considerable portion of the population of this Parish, it may be

Online LibraryEng. (Lancashire). Parish BuryThe registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) → online text (page 13 of 52)