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"Spen Valley"
by T.W. Thompson
"Nonconformity in Spen Valley"
by Frank Peel

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The books on this CDrom will be of interest to anyone researching their ancestors in the Heckmondwike, Cleckheaton and Liversedge area of Yorkshire. The whole of both of the books are machine searchable.

If your interests are in the Spen Valley, please see also "The Spen Valley" by Frank Peel, or if your interests are in nonconformity, please see also the Northowram/Oliver Heywood CD.

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There is no index to "Nonconformity in Spen Valley", and no list of Contents in "The Spen Valley", however these omissions are more than compensated for by the books on the CDrom being searchable.

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Nonconformity in Spen Valley: contents of chapters:


Spen Valley the metropolis of Dissent-The yeoman clothiers of West Yorkshire formed the backbone of the armies of the Commonwealth--Puritan psalm singing still a marked characteristic of the dwellers in Spen Valley


The Puritans, the pioneers of civil and religious liberty -Hume's testimony-The Mother Church of Congregationalism in these parts-The Rev. Christopher Marshall, of Woodchurch and the Church at Topcliffe-Farnley Wood plot The Topcliffe burial ground-Its desecration-Appeal to Nonconformists.


Persecutions after Cromwell's death-The Liversedge Quakers-George Fox visits Hightown - " A murdering man " - James Naylor- " Persecuted, afflicted, tormented "-A Quaker Confessor.


The Separatists-Nonconformity no new thing-A thorough Reformation demanded -"Ye Closes' the first Nonconformist meeting house at Cleckheaton Rev John Holdsworth, preacher and schoolmaster-The Cordingleys of Liver- sedge and Heaton--A Spen Valley wedding in the olden time -Services at Liversedge Hall and Millbridge.


Scanty records of the early Nonconformist churches-Difficulties of the early ministers to find safe places in which to hold meetings-No Nonconformist meeting house in Heckmondwike in 1670-The barn at Chapel Fold-John Peebles, " the devil of Dewsbury," a great persecutor -Oliver Heywood's first recorded visit to Heckmondwike-Abraham Nayler 's house the first meeting place-Rev Josiah Holdsworth settles in Heckmondwike-King Charles's Declaration of Indulgence


The first Nonconformist church at Heckmondwike, not Presbyterian, but Independent-" Congregational,' an older term than " Independent "-The Independents," the militant section of the church-The Rev Josiah Holdsworth, the first pastor of Heckmondwike - Not an " Ignorant sectary "-The little church at Swash-The King's " Indulgence " withdrawn -General agitation amongst Nonconformists-Local persecutors-An unworthy trio Conference of Nonconformists at Lower Blacup-Oliver Heywood exhorts the brethren- The pastor of Heckmondwike in the hands of the persecutors.


Fast at John Cordingley's-Oliver Heywood again at Heckmondwike - Effects of Titus Oates's revelations Fines tor attending preaching- Fasts at Cleckheaton and Hightown-Meat for Fast day " Thanksgivings' and " Exercises ' a " painful divine "-The old Puritan liking for long services-The spies abroad- Services at dead of night at Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike Church discip- line -A curious case- Fast at Liversedge Hall-The pastor of Heckmondwike again in trouble-Sad persecuting time-All the meeting houses shut up -Death of the Rev. Josiah Holdsworth.


The Rev. David Noble chosen pastor of the Heckmondwike church - His imprison- ment in York Castle - Recognition of the new pastor - The "chapel at Chapel Fold " a myth - Troublous times - Nonconformists refuse the bribe of liberty of worship, to help the king to rule without Parliament - Flight of the king - Toleration - Return of the Heckmondwike Nonconformists to their old preach- ing room - Proposed union of Presbyterians and Independents - Peace at " Ye Closes "--Rev. D. Noble on prophecy - Death of Oliver Heywood - Building of a chapel in Chapel Lane - Death of the Rev. D. Noble.


The Rev, John Kirkby appointed pastor of the Heckmondwike church - The Arlan heresy and the Presbyterians - Religious persecution rampant still - The Mansion House built out of scandalous fines on Nonconformists - Death of the Rev. John Holdsworth, of '' Ye Closes " - Repairing the Heckmondwike meeting house --Death of the Rev. Richard Thorp, of Mirfield - Building of Hopton chapel - Progress of the church at Heckmondwike under Mr. Kirkby - The Priestleys and the Keighleys - A scattered congregation - The Holy Club - The Rev. Mr. Ingham in Spen Valley - Field preaching - Opposition of the Rev. John Kirkby.


New pastors at " Ye Closes " - Joseph Priestley (afterwards Dr. Priestley) comes to reside at the Old Hall, Heckmondwike An apt scholar - Rev. John Kirkby instructs him in classics - Discussions at the Old Hall - Priestley trained for the ministry - Heresy hunting deacons - Dr Priestley's testimony to the excellency of the Rev. John Kirkby s church - John Nelson, the Methodist stone mason, encounters the Rev. John Kirkby in discussion.


John Nelson and Methodism in Spen Valley - Calvinism and Arminianism confront each other - Slow progress of Methodism in Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton - Methodist preaching rooms in Spen Valley - Rapid Progress of Methodism in Birstall - Increase of Mr. Kirkby s congregation - A " loft " put into the chapel - Low wages and cheap provisions - Rev. John Kirkby's health fails - Rise of the "gifted brethren " - The Rev. John Whitford, the first Independent minister at Cleckheaton.


The Rev. John Kirkby's last illness--The services conducted by the "gifted brethren " The Rev. Alvery Jackson visits Heckmondwike and mentions the Nev. James Scott as being a likely minister to succeed Mr Kirkby - Deputation sent to visit Mr. Scott - The Rev. J. Scott's first visit to Heckmondwike - Is invited to be- come pastor and declines after some consideration - The church persist in their invitation - Mr. Scott objects on account of the "gifted brethren," whose pro- ceedings he dislikes - Rev. John Pye uses his influence - Mr. Thomas Armitage, "a gifted brother," writes strongly urging Mr. Scott to accept the invitation and pomising his co-operation - Mr. Scott accepts the call - Death of the Hey. John Kirkby.


The Rev. James Scott pastor of the Heckmondwike Church - Biographical sketch - Pastor of Stanton, Horton. and Tockholes - Low state of religion in the Churches - The "gifted brethren" introduce dissensions into the church at Heck. mondwike - The Sandemanian heresy - A pharisaical sect.


Deacon Joseph Priestley and his relations - Visit of the Rev. Edward Hitchen to Fieldhead - Extracts from an old diary - A perilous journey - Conference on the low state of spirituality in the churches - Spread of Socinianism - The establish- ment of an Academy for the training of orthodox Ministers first suggested - Rev. James Scott undertakes the superintendence - The first Academy opened at Millbridge.


Mr. Hitchen arranges with the London society for supporting the new academy.. Letter from the Rev J Scott-Mr. Scott's confession of faith-The course of studies-Dr. Walker's system of tuition-Two candidates -Visit of Mr. Pye.- Dr. Priestley.


The first three students -Contrast between two famous brothers The " gifted brethren " once more - Proposal to build a new chapel-The " gifted brethren " wish it to be built on Heckmondwike Green-Deacon Joseph Priestley perplexed and troubled by the opposition -The " gifted brethren" leave the church -Erection of a new chapel-Mr. Scott's new friends.


Mr. Timothy Priestley's eccentricities-Mrs Scott's health fails-Mr. Waldegrave and Mr. Priestley accepts calls-'The academy bears good fruit and proves itself a bulwark of orthodoxy-Death of Mrs Scott-Mr. George Lambert and Mr. Toothill admitted students-Peeping into futurity-Great popularity of the students-Purchase of Southfield and removal of the college to that place-List of students-College removed to Heckmondwike Market-place-Rev. James Dawson, of Cleckheaton.


Enlargement of the Heckmondwike Chapel-Providential interposition - New regulations-Mr Wm Birkhead and his son-in-law -The champion of Metho- dism in Spen Valley-A remarkable jump -Thomas Wright makes strong assaults on Calvinism-Building of the " Theyked Chapel," at Hightown- Death of Deacon Joseph Priestley-Extracts from his diary -Death of the Rev. James Scott-The Rev. Jonathan Toothill preaches Mr Scott's funeral sermon.


The Rev, William Booker installed pastor of the Heckmondwike Church-An.. eccentric divine-A division in the Church-Building of a second Independent Chapel at Heckmondwike-The Rev Obadiah Bennett chosen pastor of the old chapel-An eloquent divine-Curious texts The Rev. Matthew Hale succeeds Mr Bennett-Miss Parsons and the Poet Knowles-Hard times- Mr Hale's sickness and death -Rev Mr Kerby becomes pastor of the New Independent Chapel -The Town's School used as a Sunday School by both Congregations-Rev William Honeywood and the Rev. Spedding Curwen- The Rev. Josh Mather and the singers-The Wedding Anthem


Rev. Mr. Dawson, of Cleckheaton, succeeded by the Rev John Ralph-The Rev. Thornhill's Kidd's successful ministry-The Res'. James Scott, of Cleckheaton -His difficulties with the Southcottians and Antinominians-A long and successful ministry--Methodism in the Birstall circuit-The persecutions endured by the early Methodist preachers-Methodist Chapels built at Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton.


The New Circuit-List of the ministers who have laboured in it-Brief notices of some of the most prominent -The " Penny Preacher "- Illness of Mr, Bramwell at Gomersal-The dreadful accident at Heckmondwike Wesleyan Chapel-Erection of Wesleyan Chapels at Hightown and Gomersal-Squire Brooke's efforts--Building of a Wesleyan School at Gomersal, and a school-chapel at Little Gomersal-Samuel Senior, Richard Starkey, and Joel Allott-The Methodist New Connexion, at Heckmondwike-Rise of Primitive Methodism in Spen Valley.


Oliver Heywood's services at Gomersal-Mr Taylor and his chapel --Remarkable singing - Movement to erect a Congregational Chapel at Gomersal Services at Pollard Hall-Opening of Grove Chapel-The Rev. J. H Cook appointed first minister-Erection of a Sunday School-Death of Mr. Cook- Mr. McMillan appointed minister--His removal-The Rev J. A Savage -Erection of an organ-Appointment of the Rev. C. Craddock-Erection of class-rooms-Mr. Craddock resigns-The Rev. H. Hewitt-The Rev. Albert Lee becomes minis- ter-Prosperous state of the interest.


The vacancy in the pulpit of the Upper Chapel-Mr Henry Bean receives a call and accepts the invitation-The Dex Family--Mr. Bean's early life-A period of great prosperity-The old chapel becomes too small--Miss Parsons exhorts the people to arise and build-Erection of a new chapel and schools-Mr. Bean a " born preacher," and model pastor - Death of the Rev. Henry Bean. -Regret of the West Riding Churches.


The universal respect in which Mr. Bean was held shown in a marked manner-A day of general mourning -The funeral procession-Eloquent address in the Chapel by the Rev. Robert Bowman-The interment.


Changes during Mr. Bean's ministry in the town and the neighbouring churches- The Rev. Robert Martin becomes the pastor of the Lower Independent Chapel -Sketch of Mr Martins early life-Educated a churchman, he becomes a Congregationalist, and enters the ministry-Opens his ministry at Ripon and afterwards removes to Heckmondwike-A long season of prosperity followed by a time of trouble and perplexity, ending in Mr. Martin's death under very painful circumstances


The Rev Charles Atmore at Heckmondwike-The Rev. John Brown's text- Erection of the Centenary Chapel at Roberttown.-Uneasy Feeling amongst the Methodist Societies-The Littletown Methodists-'They decide to build a school -The expulsion of Everett, Dunn and Griffith strongly condemned in Spen Valley-The Heckmondwike Reformers worship in the Town's School- Building of the Reform Chapel-They Join the Methodist Free Churches- Erection of a new place of worship-The Littletown Reformers meet at Lawford's factory-They buy back their old chapel.


The Cleckheaton Wesleyan Reformers join the Methodist Free Churches-The Rev John Myers becomes the pastor-Great activity in the Church-Erection of the Central Chapel-The great work being done here-The Rev. B. J. Tungate-Hightown and Gomersal Reform Chapels--The Heckmondwike Wesleyans build a new Chapel and clear it from debt-Erection of minister's house-Millbridge chapel-The Bible Christians of Cleckheaton-The New Wesleyan Chapel, at Cleckheaton


Erection of George Street Chapel -The Rev. R. Bowman becomes pastor-Brief biographical sketch- Great success of Mr Bowman's ministry-The Chapel debt paid off Mr. Bowman's health unsatisfactory-An eloquent preacher- Mr. Bowman becomes rapidly worse-His death-The Rev. L. Porter-The Rev. H. H. Oakley accepts the pastorate-An able and scholarly divine-The present pastor.


The Rev. M Howard chosen pastor of Westgate Chapel, Heckmondwike-New life in the Church-The old chapel pulled down and a new one erected on the site-Trouble with one of the deacons-Celebration of the 21st year of Mr. Howard's pastorate-Mr. Howard resigns on his 62nd birthday - His death- The great respect in which he was held-His successor, the Rev. C. E. Darwent. M A.


Close of Mr Scott's ministry at Cleckheaton-The Rev. R. Cuthbertson chosen pastor-Erection of Providence Place Chapel-Paying off the debt-Resignation of the Rev. R. Cuthbertson-The Rev. T. Nicholson-Erection of Westgate Chapel, Cleckheaton-Resignation of Mr. Nicholson-The Rev. W. Jansen Davies--The Rev. Henry Simon accepts a call to Heckmondwike- The Rev. Allan Mines, B.A.--Mission Chapels at Norristhorpe and Healey-Resignation of Mr. Mines -The Rev. F. Hall succeeds to the pastorate of the Upper Chapel-A New Chapel built--Last words.

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