Bingley was heretofore one of the most godless towns in the West Riding. Rev. Eli Bentley (ej. Halifax) was driven by the Five-mile Act to reside here. But he found the people (even in the house where he lodged) so hostile to religion that he durst not attempt to preach. The congregation arose out of the labours of Rev. O. Heywood, who gives in his diary some interesting particulars of the locality! Before the close of the century a meeting-house had been erected, which, now converted into cottages, is yet standing.
The pastors have been-
- 1695. Rev. ACCEPTED LISTER. For a time he preached here alternately with Kipping. Though supported on crutches in the pulpit he had much power over the passions of his hearers. He was highly esteemed and beloved. After great solicitation, he returned to Kipping in 1702. A great dispute arose in consequence. Lister's mother was buried at Bingley.
- About this time Matthew Smith (Mixenden) preached frequently at Bingley, where he was invited to settle, but declined.
- 1704. Rev. THOMAS WAINMAN (Frankland's Acy.). During his ministry the congregation amounted to about 250 persons, of whom 17 were freeholders. Mr. Wainman was on the Hewley fund. About this time the people from Keighley and Idle, who had hitherto worshipped at Bingley, formed themselves into separate bodies. Mr. W. died in 1746, and was buried in the parish churchyard.**
- 1746. Rev. -- FENTON, who exchanged pulpits periodically with Mr. Wainman, junior, of Pudsey.
- 1754. Rev. THOMAS LILLIE. A Presbyterian. He was on the Hewley list, 1774 and 1775. He wrote in Priestley's "Theological Repository," under the signature of "Cornelius." He published a sermon on the death of Mrs. Phillips; a well-composed discourse, but wanting in an exhibition of the doctrine of atonement, though the text (Ps. xxiii. 4) might have naturally led in that direction. He died May 3, 1797, after a pastorate of 44 years. His remains were interred in the old chapel, and a tablet to his memory still exists.
- 1799. Rev. WILLIAM STEPHENS. He had been heretofore on the stage. "Failing to prevail on the people to erect a new chapel, he gave up his ministry among them." He removed to Aberdeen, and "left the denomination."
- 1800. Rev. ABRAHAM HUDSWELL. A man of great zeal and piety. He removed to Morley, 1817.
- 1818. Rev. ABRAHAM CLARKSON (Idle Acy., from Mixenden). A pious and peaceful man. A convert of the ministry of Rev. T. Taylor, then of Ossett. His ministry continued during a period of nearly 20 years. Soon after his settlement a new chapel was erected. Sermons at its opening were preached by Rev. Messrs. Parsons, Scott, and Hamilton. Its cost was upwards of 41,200. Ill-health compelled his resignation. Removed to Batley, 1837, and died 1850.
- 1838. Rev. JOHN PROTHEROE (Newport Pagnel Acy ). Mr. Protheroe left for Bulford, Wiltshire, March, 1840.
- A chapel was now erected at Harden, and after three years a church was formed at that place.
- Jan. 3, 1841. Rev. WILLIAM ATHERTON (from Middleton). An attractive, impressive, and useful minister. He left for Idle 1848.
- During his ministry, 1845, a secession took place, and a chapel was built by part of the congregation at Morton.
- 1850. Rev. WILLIAM ORGAR (from Stubbin, Elsecar). Removed, 1861, to Rehoboth Chapel, Morley.
- 1863. Rev. E. H. HERON (from Ilkeston). The present minister (in 1868). In the year 1862, new school-rooms were built. A separation has taken place, and the new congregation are at present worshipping in the Mechanics' Institution.
* Aided by a pamphlet by Mr. J. Stephenson.
** A letter from Mr. Thomas Ferrand, of Bradford, addressed to Thoresby, March 15, 1703, gives some account of matters at this period 5 Mrs. Walker appears to have applied to Mr. Stretton for a grant of money to Mr. Wainman :-" Sir, -Mr. Lister is some time ago removed from Bingley, and they have there now, a very hopeful young man, one Mr. Thomas Wainman, whose ministry is so acceptable to the people, that the congregation is increased since he came there. I have sent your letter forward to Bingley, and I hope, good sir, you will pardon what the widow (Mrs. Walker) writ to you, for it's from a hearty zeal she hath, to propagate the gospel in that place. Sir, her husband built a chapel and lofted the same at his own charge, say for about LIS, as I remember he had from his father and an uncle. The salary, as I am told, is very small; not above 4r6 for a year, to the minister."