H. B. (Holliday Bickerstaffe) Kendall.

The origin and history of the Primitive Methodist Church (Volume 1) online

. (page 43 of 54)
Online LibraryH. B. (Holliday Bickerstaffe) KendallThe origin and history of the Primitive Methodist Church (Volume 1) → online text (page 43 of 54)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


in 1843, they were taken over by the General Missionary
Committee.

THE DEED POLL.

The Scotter Conference of 1829 should also be remembered
as the Deed-Poll Conference. Alike in the origin of this legal

MB. WM. LAWSON.

instrument, and in the delay which attended its execution, we

may see a reflection of that Connexional crisis of which we have spoken. On
the authority of the late venerable Thomas Bateman we learn that the precarious
tenure on which our places of public worship were held had been so borne in
upon the mind of Hugh Bourne by one painful incident after another that, as early




THE PERIOD OF CIRCUIT PREDOMINANCE AND ENTERPRISE. 439

as 1823, he had become anxious for the preparation of a Deed of Settlement for the
Connexion similar to that Mr. Wesley secured for the Methodist Societies. He paid
several visits to Burland for consultation with Messrs. T. Bateman. and G. Taylor (who
afterwards became one of the twelve original permanent members of Conference), and
sought to interest them in his plans. The proposal of a Deed of Settlement " to
legalise the Connexion and secure its chapels," was brought before the Conference of
1823 at Loughborough, and a committee of five persons appointed "to see after the
execution of the Deed." Nothing, however, seems to have been done, and before the
Deed Avas really executed several members of this executive committee had disappeared
another proof of the unsettledness of the times. Again, in 1825, the necessity of the
Deed of Settlement was reaffirmed, and a fresh committee appointed to see after its
execution, consisting of H. and J. Bourne, "W. Clowes and James Steele. This
committee seems to have carried out its instructions, for, "an eminent attorney"
probably Mr. John Ward, of Burslem was employed to draw up a deed which was
presented to the Conference of 1826, 'and in the main approved, though various
modifications were ordered to be made. Then we hear no more of the Deed of
Settlement until the Scotter Conference of 1829. What is the explanation of the
delay ? Mr. Bateman is ready with the answer :

" A first draft was prepared, and the opinion of men learned in the law sought
thereon. But before the end of the year the Connexion was found to be in such
a state that no one could tell whether it would be entirely broken up or not. So
the deed was left in abeyance to await results. When the happy change came
and prosperity returned, the necessity for the deed became more than ever
apparent. It was again taken up and completed by the Committee, and finally
it was examined and passed by the whole Connexion, through and by their
representatives legally elected in Conference assembled at Scotter ; . . . and
a Mr. Wilks, of London, very generously undertook to put the matter into legal
form without charge." *

The Mr. Wilks referred to in the preceding extract was a man eminent in his day,
and interesting to us from his family connections and his associations with our Church.
John Wilks was the son of Matthew Wilks, minister of the Tabernacle, and father-in-
law of James Parsons, of York. When the Protestant Society was formed in 1811
for the protection of religious liberty he became its secretary ; and " Wilks and
Liberty " was the battle-cry of his supporters at the contested Parliamentary election
at Boston in 1830, in which he proved successful. Such was the public-spirited man
whose legal eye scanned and weighed every clause in the Deed-Poll. For that he
deserves mention here, and not only for that, but because afterwards he was the adviser
and befriender of Thomas Kussell in the time of persecution, giving his professional
services without fee or reward.

The Deed Poll was duly " signed, sealed, and delivered," by Hugh Bourne, James
Bourne, and William Clowes,! on February 5th, 1830, in the presence of John Ward,

* "Observations on, and Explanations of, the Deed Poll of the Primitive Methodist Connexion,"
by Thomas Bateman.

f James Steele, who would have been one of the signatories, died in 1827. See p. 107.



440



PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH.



Attorney at Law, Burslem and his clerk, and after enrolment was presented, read and
approved at the Leicester Conference of 1831. This should have been done at the
preceding Conference, but there had been some " delay in London," and the document
did not arrive in time for presentation. It does not belong to the purpose of this
History to analyse the provisions of the Deed Poll, which from first to last was some
eight years in the making. It may, however, be Avell to place on record the names of
the four ministers and eight laymen standing on the original document as " permanent
members of Conference"; for this and not "Deed Poll Members" is, throughout,
their legal designation.

Hugh Bourne, Richard Odlin,

James Bourne, George Taylor,

William Clowes, David Bowen,

Sampson Turner, Thomas Sugden,

John Garner, Ralph Waller,

John Hancock, John Gordon Black.



GRIMSBY CIRCUIT AND ITS OFFSHOOTS.

The history of Primitive Methodism in north-east Lincolnshire has had many
features in common with its history in the north-western part of the county. If

Market Rasen be substituted for Gains-
borough and Grimsby for Scotter, the
course of events relating to the four
circuits has Connexionally been much
the same. Market Rasen began as
a branch of Nottingham ; it soon yielded
the headship to Grimsby, and until it
achieved circuit independence for itself,
continued a branch of Grimsby the place
to which it had served as a stepping-
stone. In these respects the parallel
between Market Rasen and Gainsborough
seems complete. In other respects the
history of Scotter and Grimsby Circuits
offers a contrast rather than a parallel.
Grimsby has not been such a mother of
circuits as Scotter, nor did it sustain, or help other circuits to sustain, distant missions
in the early period, as did Scotter. Yet Louth (1823), Market Rasen (1854), Tetney
(1868), besides Grimsby, second and third circuits, have been formed directly from it,
and Alford indirectly through Louth (1860).

And yet, though this is no despisable record, Grimsby's distinction as a circuit rests
on other grounds. It is a good example of a circuit-town in which our Church has
conserved its gains. Amongst the towns we have considered, it stands almost alone in
having had no division or serious loss. With very few exceptions, the old families,




GRIME THE PIKATE.



THE PERIOD OF CIRCUIT PREDOMINANCE AND ENTERPRISE.



4-1-1



gradually rising in the social scale, have remained with us to the second and third
generations, so that our Church has struck its roots deep into the social and civic life
of the town. Eelated to the preceding both as cause and effect, it has made a vigorous
attempt to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population. Not only has it planted
its chapels betimes at strategic points, but it has made them so attractive that none of
its own people has cause to be ashamed of them ; and it has made them so commodious
and well-furnished that no one can justly complain of lack of facilities for carrying on
the spiritual and educational work of the Church. We should have some difficulty in
finding a town which, for its size, has put forth so much well-directed enterprise in
chapel building. In this respect Grimsby leaves little to be desired. It was not until
the middle of the last century was well turned that the need began to press to which
the building of Victoria Street Chapel in 1859 was the response. Since then, Grimsby




LOCK HILL, GRIMSBY.

From which Clowes sailed to Hull, and T. King and others afterwards. A favourite site for

open-air services.

has grown by leaps and bounds, and so has Primitive Methodism in the borough on its
material side, as the views of its many fine chapels, given on a later page, sufficiently
prove. Scotter Circuit had done much of its best work when Grimsby was just about
beginning the work which has given it distinction. The two circuits are almost coeval
and contiguous, yet historically the contrast between them is marked. Scotter shows
what a rural circuit did for the Connexion in the first period ; Grimsby is an object-
lesson as to what Primitive Methodism can do for the towns of even abnormal growth.
We begin, then, with Market Easen, as it was to this place already, or in
anticipation, a branch that Thomas King made his way when he began his ministry
in August, 1819, just after the Nottingham Preparatory Meeting of which he had been



442



PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHUKCH.



a lay-member. The success already reported in Scotter Circuit would naturally suggest
the desirability of missioning the adjacent part of the county, and there were good
reasons for making Market Rasen the first objective of the mission. Once more there
had been " preparers of the way." According to Herod, Ann Carr and Miss Healand
had preached at Market Rasen, Caistor, Tealby and Walesby in the summer of 1818.
This may have been the reason why John Harrison, shortly after his appointment to
Hull, spent some ten days in preaching at some of these places. He crossed to
Grimsby by packet on the 18th of May, and walked the twenty miles to Market Rasen
after four o'clock ! Next day he formed a society of eight members the nucleus of
the Market Rasen branch and all that was to come out of it. During these ten days




MARKET RASEN MARKET-PLACE.



John Harrison visited Middle Rasen and Nettleton, but especially Market Rasen and
Caistor, where the most interesting incidents occurred. It was at Market Rasen where
persecution of the rough and rowdy type seems to have played itself out so far as north
Lincolnshire is concerned ; for we do not meet with anything further north in the
county quite as bad as the scene witnessed in the market-place on May 25th. There
had been mutterings of the coming storm at the service held in the same place on the
previous Sunday morning. Timid friends, aware of the threatened interference, tried
to dissuade John Harrison from carrying out his announced intention of preaching on
the same spot on the Tuesday evening. But he was not to be intimidated, and taking
his " little Davids " with him, he began the service. One ruffianly fellow soon made



THE PERIOD OF CIRCUIT PREDOMINANCE AND ENTERPRISE. 443

himself particularly troublesome. He came up, making a " horrid noise," shook his
fist in the preacher's face, and tried to pull him off his chair ; but another man
constituted himself the preacher's champion and knocked down the persistent disturber.
It was not until he had been knocked down three times in succession that the man at
last desisted and turned upon his assailant. While a set fight was going on between
the two, Mr. Harrison carried his chair a little distance away and proceeded with the
service. When the fight was over, the man with the horrid voice returned and once
more tried to pull the preacher off the chair, but only to meet the same fate as before.
Then, and not till then, did he pick himself up and slink away. During the service
sticks and stones and shot were flung, though without doing much damage. Finally,
the clergyman gave orders for the church-bells to be set a-ringing, a proceeding that led
Mr. Harrison to make some plain observations on the use and mjuse of church-bells
and parsons. Despite these annoyances, the vast congregation listened intently and was
deeply impressed.

Caistor also was twice visited by John Harrison during this mission-round. Each
time, be it noted, he was accompanied by Miss Healand, whose home we judge to have
been in these parts. On their first visit they sent the bellman round to announce that
a service would be held in the middle of the market-place. Their reception was all
that could be desired. The people ran together "as if to a bull-baiting," until some
five-hundred persons were assembled who, while John Harrison preached, were as " still
as though he had been promising them an earthly inheritance on terms of their
obedience that night." Amongst those who listened were three clergymen and
a dissenting minister, the latter acknowledging that open-air services might be
iiseful to many who would not attend either church or chapel. This was on the
Friday, and on the following Wednesday, May 26th, a congregation double that of the
former one assembled in the same place to hear the two missionaries. The clergyman
of the place was present to hear and judge for himself, thus showing that he had the
true Beroean spirit and was "more noble" than he of Market Rasen. At the close of
Miss Healand's exhortation he shook her hand, remarking, he thought it an honour to
do so. "I heard," said he, "such an unfavourable account of the 'Ranters,' I thought
I would come and hear for myself, and I must say I heard nothing but the gospel from
your lips. I wish you every blessing."

Naturally it was deemed desirable to follow up the success already gained, and hence
from June 7th to llth, we find W. Clowes and J. Harrison in Lincolnshire purposing
to pay another visit to Caistor. But between them and their goal lay other villages
which were anxious to hear the Word of Life from their lips and would not be denied ;
and so they got no nearer than Limber. Here Lord Yarborough's lodge-keeper told
them the villagers had long been expecting them, and they had reluctantly to forego
their main purpose.

The June Quarterly Meeting of Nottingham Circuit almost immediately followed
this short excursion. By this time experience had shown both the desirability of
prosecuting the Market Rasen mission and the impracticability of Hull's undertaking
the work. Clearly the missionary should be located in the midst of his work and not
have to keep crossing and recrossing the Humber and then going twenty miles afoot



444



PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH.



in order to reach it. These considerations would have weight, and the same June
Quarterly Meeting which made Hull a Circuit urged Thomas King to enter the ministry
and probably assigned him the Market Rasen neighbourhood as his sphere of labour.

It is significant of the changes the years have wrought that Thomas King went to the
scene of his future labours on foot. He spent some days at Market Rasen visiting and
preaching, and then did the same among the dwellers in the " moors, Avoids, clays and
marshes." While so engaged he " heard of Grimsby" we are told. There seems
something odd in this way of putting it, as though Grimsby had been an obscure place
in some out-of-the-way corner that he had got to hear of by the merest chance. The
idea suggested is in the main a true one ; for the Grimsby of 1819 was, an obscure
place. In days gone by it had been famous. It had its legends of Grime the pirate
and Havelok the Dane. It had been favoured by kings, and given birth to famous
men : but it had fallen from its high estate. Its natural haven had silted up ; it had
no manufactures to export and
no means of forwarding imports.
We can form some idea of the
obscurity into which it had sunk
by the casual references made
to it by those who chanced to




know it in its low estate.
Thomas Mozley, speaking of
North Lincolnshire as he
knew it in 1819, intimates
that nobody went there except
on business, or to take the
ferry for Hull, or "to go to the
most dreary of all watering

places near what I remember as the miserable little port of Grimsby."* Wilkie
Collins makes one of his characters fly to Grimsby to be in safe hiding. William
Cobbett, in driving from Louth to Barton, changed horses and breakfasted at Grimsby.
Wishing to recall something that happened there he imagines his readers exclaiming
" What could you find there to be snatched from everlasting oblivion, except for the
purpose of execration ? " t When Thomas King heard of it, its population was barely
3,000, though that was an improvement on the 982 at which it stood in 1790. In short
the local historian says : " Grimsby was so obscure that it probably owed its place in
maps and topographical dictionaries to its privileges as a parliamentary and municipal
borough." The worst was past and Grimsby's fortunes were on the rise in 1849, when

* Mozley's " Reminiscences," etc., vol. ii. p. 11.
t Cobbett's " Rural Rides," vol. ii. p. 322. Edition of 1855.



THE PERIOD OF CIRCUIT PREDOMINANCE AND ENTERPRISE.



445



the foundafcion-stone of the Royal Dock was laid by Prince Albert. But even then the
" Times " correspondent on the occasion could write of Grimsby as " one of those places

that few of our readers have heard of, and
a less number have seen, but which I can
best describe as a place which a London
contractor woiild cart away in three
weeks." What the Church of England
did for it may be gathered from the fact
that so recently as 1828, "it had service
but once a day, and the minister served
Glee also."*

Such was the Grimsby Thomas King
DEANSGATE BRIDGE. heard the rumour of and determined to

Thomas King entered Grimsby by this road. visit. How different is the Grimsby of

to-day we need not stop to point out. All the world knows of its spacious docks,
its famous water-tower, its timber-yards and unrivalled fishing-trade. We can follow





THE OLD MARKET-PLACE, GRIMSBT (SHOWING OLD TOWN HALL).
Thomas King preached here in afternoon of October 31st, 1819, first day of his visit.

all his movements on the day he carried his determination into effect, which was
the last day in October, 1819. He had slept on the Saturday night at Barnoldby,
and left for Grimsby four miles off, accompanied by two men to show him the way.
But when they were within two miles of the town they^left him to enter alone.
Keeping his eye on the tower of the church, he pushed on for the morning was
cold and presently the church and adjoining town-hall and the market-place were
passed ; then Clayton Hall in Baxter Gate (now Victoria street), and tradition says
he drank at the pump then standing only a few minutes' walk from the spot where

* " Grimsby Methodism" etc., by George Lester, p. 45.



446



PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH.



he preached his first serrnon. This was on a piece of waste ground not far from where
the present Victoria Street Chapel stands. Thomas King stepped into a wheelbarrow
waiting to be ennobled by serving as a pulpit ; pulled a sevenpenny hymn-book out of
his pocket ; sang, prayed and preached without interruption or the occurrence of any
particular incident, save that the grandmother of George Shaw was present, ready to
become the first convert. The house where she and her husband lived became the
home of Thomas King and many of the early preachers, and served as an occasional
meeting-house.

A second open-air service was held in the " old town " in the afternoon according to
announcement. At its close "Farmer" Holt stepped up to the preacher, warmly




NORTH SIDE, BAXTER GATE EAST, LOOKING WEST.

grasped his hand and invited him as his guest to Old Glee. Incidentally we gather
that this was not the first time Farmer Holt had acted in a Gaius-like way to the
missionaries of the Connexion. Some time before, at his invitation, one such
missionary whom he had heard preach in a certain village, had visited Clee, preached
on the Saturday evening, and next day accompanied by his host had gone to Grimsby
to hold an open-air service. This fact, we may be sure, does not stand alone though
our records may often be silent. It would have been hazardous to affirm of any village
in Lincolnshire at any point between 1818 and 1820 "No Primitive Methodist has
ever come this way and delivered his message here." Skirmishers preceded the main
body, preaching whenever and wherever they found opportunity like the unknown
one who anticipated Thomas King at Grimsby and Clee.



THE PEKIOD OF CIRCUIT PREDOMINANCE AND ENTERPRISE. 44*7

When Thomas King reached Glee he found another service awaiting him, and the
congregation already assembling in the farm-kitchen ; but first he was shown by the
thoughtful housewife into the dairy and urged to help himself to anything it contained.
She, good soul, remembered that the dispenser of the bread of life could not himself
dispense with the bread that perisheth. But when, a little while after, Farmer Holt
put his head into the dairy to see how the preacher was faring, he found him on his
knees.

For a day or two Thomas King occupied the guest-chamber of the farm which for
many years was proverbial for its hospitality. William Holt was one of the makers of
Grimsby Primitive Methodism. His biographer, the Rev. Joel Hodgson, says of him :
" In the day of small things it was no doubt a recommendation of the new society that
Farmer Holt united with it. His social position, force of character, and religious real,




HOUSE OF MR. WILLIAM HOLT, OLD CLEE.
In which Mr. King preached on the first evening after visiting Grimsby.

placed him for many years in the front rank of the local preachers and leading officials
of the Grimsby Circuit." He and Thomas King became fast friends, and were often
companions in travel. Once they walked to Tunstall to attend the Conference of 1821,
and when the sittings were over they walked back again to Grimsby. After this we
can easily credit the statement that after preaching at Grimsby one Sunday evening,
Thomas King supped on bread-and-milk and set off to walk to Nottingham, arriving in
time for the opening of the Quarterly Meeting at ten o'clock next morning. William
Holt lived to see wondrous changes in the position of the Church he helped to found
in Grimsby and the neighbourhood, since he attained the ripe age of eighty-seven years
and died in the triumph of faith.

It was on Wednesday, November 3rd, 1819, the first society was formed in Grimsby.
Thomas King had spent the day in visiting, and at night he preached in a room



448



PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH.



procured by Farmer Holt "up the town." The society formed that night 'consisted of
eight members of whom W. Holt became the leader. The cold weather had already
begun, so that a shelter was essential, and yet the society had for a time to be content
with a stable, that being the best place obtainable. By September, 1820, however,
a room in a warehouse that stood back of the spot where Thomas King preached his
first sermon was secured. This was afterwards vacated for a disused chapel in Loft
Street, which, undergoing several alterations and enlargements, continued to be the
society's principal place of worship until the building of Victoria Street Chapel in
1859.

The plan of the Grimsby Branch, beginning October, 1st, 1820, with the side-lights

cast on it from other sources, is
instructive. When he made it,
Thomas King had just returned
from the Nottingham Quarterly
Meeting which had reappointed
him to the Grimsby Branch. He
was strong to labour and in a very
hopeful frame of mind ; and indeed
as we follow his incessant move-
ments, and notice his unfailing tact
and courtesy, his buoyancy of spirit
and how he never seemed to spare
himself in labour, he seems to us
to have been one of the most
considerable figures of this early
time, and a veritable missionary
bishop ; so that we are not sur-
prised the Nottingham Quarterly
Meeting of 1828 should have
seriously urged his appointment
as " District Superintendent."
Thomas King's colleagues on the
Branch were George Herod who
had been appointed some six
months before to assist him in missioning Louth and its neighbourhood and
Thomas Blades, who after being appointed to Belper, ''in 1835, passed off the stations,
George Herod began his ministry as a married man. An early usage made a distinction
between preachers who could be interchanged between circuits by any Quarterly Meeting,.
and those who could only be stationed by the Annual Meeting. The former were really
" hired local preachers," whose tenure of office was very insecure. This, those concerned,
who were chiefly married men, were fully aware of. As is shown by a circular now
before us of which Herod, S. Cookman, J. Brantfoot (sic), R. Hawcroft, and
J. Hutchinson are the signatories they convened a meeting of all the " hired local
preachers " at York on the 28th May, 1822, for the purpose of discussing their grievances,.




FIRST PREACHING PLACE, GRIMSBY.



THE PERIOD OF CIRCUIT PREDOMINANCE AND ENTERPRISE.



449



which were soon redressed by all preachers being placed on the same footing of a four
years' probation. Herod, we remember, had married Elizabeth Parrott of East

Bridgford, so that in his appoint-
ment the Grimsby Branch really
acquired two preachers. There is
a touch of pathos in the account of
the way husband and wife went to



Online LibraryH. B. (Holliday Bickerstaffe) KendallThe origin and history of the Primitive Methodist Church (Volume 1) → online text (page 43 of 54)