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Help and advice for HALIFAX: Moor End United Reformed Church, Mt. Tabor - Mixenden Chapel, Halifax

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HALIFAX: Moor End United Reformed Church, Mt. Tabor - Mixenden Chapel, Halifax

a brief history and list of Trustees

Moor End URC, Mt. Tabor
Born at York in 1650, the Rev. Matthew Smith MA worked with the Dissenters in York and met with great persecution. About 1679 the Church Establishment offered him a Living of £200 p.a, but he refused to conform. Instead, he accepted an invitation from the Dissenting Congregation at Kipping, Thornton by Bradford, and after several years was invited to preach by the people of Mixenden and Warley. He did this privately, often at night to hide from the Civil Magistrates. He preached at Mixenden and Kipping on alternate sabbaths for 2 or 3 years, and after some difference of opinion with the people at Kipping moved to Mixenden, taking under his protection the people of Warley.
Map showing Moor End

1688 - The changes in the laws regarding non-conformism brought about the congregation building their own chapel [date unknown] which was situated on the west side of Mixenden between Teeming Hill and Mixenden Fields.

1716 The First Trustees were appointed.

1717 Mr Smith paid for and built a new chapel measuring 12 by 10 yards on his own land at Hill End (now Moor End). The old chapel was converted into cottages, all burial remains being removed to the new chapel.

1732 Second Trustees were appointed.

1736 Matthew Smith died on 29 April and was buried inside the chapel. Another Rev Smith became preacher and educated several students, including his two sons John and Isaac, who both became Ministers. John preached for a time at Warley and remained a Dissenter but Isaac conformed and settled at Howarth. Rev John Smith MA immediately succeeded his father and worked at Mixenden for 17 years.

1753 John Smith moved to Bradford where he worked for 15 years, until his death on 7 April 1758 aged 53. He also was buried at Mixenden Chapel. Mrs Smith survived her husband nearly 15 years and was buried beside her husband inside the chapel on 15 October 1783.
James Richie MD was John Smith's successor for about 10 years, died on 15 October 1763 and was buried in the chapel.

1764 29 June Thomas Evans came and ministered about 15 years.

1765 Third Trustees 17 December.

1769 The Sunday School established.

1779 Rev Thomas Evans died 25 May aged 65. His last sermon was from the text "I have seen an end of all perfection."

1780 Rev Daniel Gronow came at the beginning of the year but left in October 1782. It is believed he came known as a "tramping parson from Wales." Cottages were built at Sandyfore, a dwelling house for the Minister with a room the length of the building for a school, to be occupied by the Minister. This school existed for about a hundred years. Several Ministers came and went over the following 3 years.

1783 Rev Daniel Jones came from Wales and stayed for more than 8 years, leaving in March 1791.

1791 Entry in Chapel Book reports "He returned to Wales, and it is hoped, declined the Ministry: for he was a disgrace to it. He might preach up virtue: but he practised vice." Daniel Jones became known as the "Drunken priest" as he was often intoxicated in the pulpit. The Congregation were frequently left singing, while he ran to Sandyfore to fetch his forgotten sermon. His wife and a son are buried in the Chapel.

1791 Rev James Rattray, a Scotch Calvanist who stayed less than 2 years, abandoned by his Congregation shortly after his arrival.

1793 Rev John Bates stayed until June 1796. It is said that when he embraced the doctrine of adult Baptism by Immersion and was baptized amongst the General Baptists at Queenshead (Queensbury) and worked for time at Haley Hill.

1796 Mr David Howard, a local preacher with the Wesleyans in Ripponden. He was not ordained and exchanged with Rev J Harrison of Wilsden on Sacrament days. There for almost 6 years and engaged in the corn trade where something unpleasant happened and caused him to leave the neighbourhood. He moved to Wortley and drowned when crossing a river.

1802 Rev John Bates returned but was often absent due to his interest in a school in Halifax. No evidence exists of his ordaination although he did administer the Lord's supper to communicants. Love Feasts were held in the Chapel causing the withdrawal of Lady Hewleys Charity.

1809 Renewal of the Trust

1810 Chapel rebuilt on the same site

1813 Sandyfore trustees appointed.

1815 Rev Bates died on Sunday 23 April aged 63. He had said "There will be a division at my death: for one part are Calvanists and others Arminians." Apparently, the Wesleyans sought the Chapel, the Unitarians wanted possession, and a few wanted his son, J O Bates, as their Minister but application was made to Idle Academy where the Rev Wm.Vint, Tutor, decided that students should supply the pulpit. One of the students, Rev Abram Clarkson, was invited to stay and commenced in December. A few in favour of J O Bates left and joined the Methodists who built a Chapel at Mount Tabor.

1817 Mr Clarkson formed a Church on the Independent plan but did not stay long enough to train the people to Independency as he moved to Bingley in September, not having been ordained.

1818 Assistance was again sought from Idle Academy and the service of Mr William Gibson was requested. He agreed to commence the following summer. He was sent to Sutton near Thirsk for 2 Sundays at Christmas but stayed 18 weeks against the wishes of his Tutor, neglecting his studies and Mixenden.

1819 A deputation was sent from Mixenden to Sutton to find out when he intended to commence his work. He returned with the Deputation and began at the end of May or beginning of June. He was ordained in October. He soon began to differ with the people and moved to Hall Fold near Rochdale.

1821 Rev Gibson preached his farewell sermon on 25 November. Immediately afterwards a meeting was convened in the vestry when William Smith, the Clerk, affectionately exhorted them to be peacable, went home and died the same evening.

1821 Sunday School. The School Room "belonging to the Independent Chapel, Moor End" was buiit in the year 1821 and conveyed to Trustees by Rev Thomas Smith (son of John Smith, grandson of Matthew Smith) for £1 of lawful money in consideration of land furnished by him to build it upon 16 April 1822. Thomas Smith lived at Mixenden Hall, the former home of Matthew Smith. First Trustees appointed.

1822 Being without a Minister several candidates were recommended and tried. It was agreed to apply to Idle Academy (Airedale College) again. In the Autumn Mr John Preston, a student was invited and acceded.

1823 Mr Preston commenced on 11 January and was ordained on 4 September.

1836 A declaration of the Principles and Doctrinal view of the Independent Chapel, Mixenden were laid down on 8 November. The roof of the Chapel was considered unsafe and, at a meeting of the Trustees and Pew Letters it was decided to enlarge the Chapel when the roof was replaced.

1837 The Chapel was re-opened on 12 May.

1841 Rev John Preston left on 11 May and moved to Warley.

1842 Mr Isaac Brierley of Rochdale preached at the Chapel on three occasions and was invited to become pastor. He commenced on the first Sunday in May.In the winter of 1842/43 upwards of 300 yds of land was purchased from Mr William Thompson to enlarge the burial ground. The purchase price and fencing cost about £60. 1/6d a yard.

1843 Subscriptions were collected towards liquidating the Chapel and School room. Mr Wm. Appleyard said that if the debts could be removed he would contribute £80. With great effort and help from friends in Halifax and Rochdale the debts were canceiled. These amounted to about £400.
At a meeting on 2 November it was, decided that as nothing had previously been paid for graves in the old burial ground the sum of 5s should be paid for each new grave, plus the digging. If a grave was re-opened it would be at the owner's expense. Anyone who paid over ten shillings towards the new graveyard be allowed one grave free. Re-opening a grave in the old burial ground be charged two shillings.

1846 On 12 February a Certificate was issued registering the Chapel as a place of public worship for Protestants.

1848 Under Mr Brierley's ministry the Sunday school had increased to such an extent that children were being taught in the aisles of the Chapel and Mrs Brierley taught some in their house. It was decided to enlarge the Sunday School, the roof to be taken off and the front wall removed to double the size of the building. Mr Wm Appleyard said he would pay for the mason and the roof of the enlarged building if, the costs of the interior could be raised by the people. The cost was about £130. John Appleyard subscribed £20, Richard Aked of Wainstalls £20, friends of Mr Brierley over £30 and a few small amounts from the Congregation. This was a time of great depression with distressed poverty amongst the people of Mixenden which accounts for their very small contribution.

1862 To commemorate the bi-centenary of the Act of Uniformity the Chapel was extensively repaired, cleaned and redecorated.

1864 Fifth set of Trustees appointed on 26 February. On the same date the third Trustees of Sandyfore and the second Trustees of the Sunday school were also appointed.
Isaac Brierley left in May for Great Ayton and died in 1873.
The pulpit was supplied chiefly by students from Airedale College and by neighbouring Ministers.

1868 On 7 October, Lower Highfield Farm, also known as Sunny Bank Farm, and premises in Ovenden were given in trust by Joshua Appleyard of Clare Hall in memory of his mother and father who had attended Mixenden and were buried there. A Thanksgiving tea meeting was held on 24 October. 17 October a portion of moorland adjacent to the schoolroom was purchased for a new burial ground of the Executors of the late M H Wadsworth for £60. The area was 1 acre, 2 roods, 38 perches.

1869 On 2 June, George Hunsworth MA was ordained as Minister. The Chapel was well filled at afternoon and evening services with about 300 persons taking tea in the schoolroom.

1870 It was announced at the Annual Church tea meeting on 1 January that the money for the new cemetery had been raised and thanks were given to Mrs Richard Aked of Halifax for her gift of £200.

1871 On 1 January the Chapel was lighted with gas for the first time. At morning and evening services the collections of £12 were taken towards the costs. Gas was put into the school at the same time.

1872 Mr Hunsworth preached his last sermon on 30 June to a very large Congregation and left for Kidderminster.

1873 Students from Airedale College again supplied the pulpit and a Mr Joseph Poynton who had preached on four occasions was invited to be Minister. He commenced on 28 July and was ordained on 1 October.

1876 At the Annual tea meeting it was proposed, seconded and carried that a certain lady be suspended for three months for pregnancy before marriage.

1879 Several meetings were held regarding the financial affairs as the yearly income did not meet the yearly expenditure. Debt had been avoided from savings made when there was no Minister. This state of affairs had existed since 1869. Boxes were placedvat the door for voluntary collections over and above pew rents. Rev Poynton preached his last service on 28 December to a large congregation and left for Wibsey the following February.
Mr Poynton's successor is not mentioned but a Rev Jas Nelson signed the register at a christening in April I882 and the burial register I882-84. He could have been a visiting Minister.

1885 Rev T Baron of Forton was invited to be Minister at a fee of £100 a year plus a house. If any monies were left after the years expenses this would also be his. If he wished he could apply to the Union for a grant. He conducted his first service at Mixenden the following February.

1888 Following various meetings, two schemes were put forward for renovating the Chapel - a "whole scheme" costing £750 and a "half scheme" costing £350. Some wanted one, some the other. £130 had been promised if the first scheme was implemented. The half scheme was decided upon but this was not unanimous. At a later date the whole scheme was decided upon as £200 had been raised by one gentleman. Mr Garnett of Wainstalls offered £100 and an unknown lady £100. The Chapel closed on 14 July 1889 and work began the following day.

1890 The Chapel re-opened on Good Friday - 4 April.

1895 The chapel organ was built by Messrs Driver and Haigh.

1904 Rev Baron left for Keld in Swaledale.

1915 Rev A J Davies commenced his ministry, He left in 1917 for Cheshire but did not agree with the people at his new church having their names on pews.

1918 Rev T N Oliphant came to the chapel and left in 1924.

1927 The Rev J G Davies was appointed joint Minister with Highroad Well Congregation Church. Induction service was held on Wednesday 15 November at 7.30 pm at Mixenden. Highroad Well held their induction service the following evening.

1938 Mixenden Congregational Church celebrated its 250th Anniversary. Services were held on Sunday 15 May, Saturday 21 May and Sunday 22 May. The services were accompanied by augmented choir, organ and orchestra, conductor, Soloists: soprano, contralto, baritone. 0rgan recitals were given during interval, following tea.

1939 Rev Davies ceased his Ministry at Mixenden.

1944 At several meetings a joint pastorate with Harrison Road was discussed and a friendly meeting was held with the Deacons of Harrison Road. It was finally decided that a merger would not be practical. The Deacons were again asked to find a Minister and a salary of £4 a week was suggested. The state of the chapel roof was frequently discussed. Bad weather and illness during the winter affected attendance with the preacher, organist and 2 deacons being present for Communion and little better at other services. Numbers rose rapidly in the 1950s as a new housing estate was built in Mixenden. There was great emphasis on youth work.

1947 On 18 October the electric lights were switched on.

1951 Rents at Sandyfore Cottages were increased 2/6d a month.

1951 Rev E Sunter of Booth Congregational Church agreed to oversee Mixenden for twelve months, conducting one service a month. Payment of £26 for the year and a taxi would be paid for in bad weather. Rev Sunter actually retained the oversite until 1962.

1957 The Manse, which had been shared with Highroad Well Congregational Church was sold to them.

1958 The Sunday school had 100 children on register with 10 teachers. Attendance at Communion services averaged 20. A Girl guide company was formed.

1962 Rev Sunter left and Mr L J Collins commenced as Lay Pastor.

1964 A Brownie Pack was started about this time. Plays were often performed and were an enjoyable source of income. Rev Collins resigned as Lay Pastor. There was a thriving Sunday school, youth club, life boys, boys brigade, girl guide company, brownie pack and a ladies guild. Numbers gradually dwindled following the opening of a Community Centre in Mixenden.

1967 Sandyfore properties were sold.

1970 The girl guides and brownies ceased their activities and the Ladies guild was wound up the following year.

1971 Rev E Smith became joint pastor of Mixenden and Providence (Ovenden). The Congregational Church joined with the Presbyterians and became known as the United Reformed Church.

1976 Rev E Smith left Moor End and moved to Sheffield.
NB The first Chapel built about 1688 was at Mixenden; whereas the Chapel built in 1717 was at Hil1 End (now Moor End), hence the change of name.
Throughout the 1970s there was much discussion about how to maintain both the chapel building and the Sunday school.

1980 It was with deep regret that the decision was made to close the chapel building and adapt the Sunday school into a dual purpose building.

1981 The former Sunday school building now became the dual purpose building and was registered on 27 April for church and marriage services.

1982 Moor End United Reformed Church, Mount Tabor.
Much renovation was undertaken in the dual purpose building with a new carpet, modern organ, the chairs were upholstered and Mr J H Lumb transferred the pulpit and woodwork from the old chapel into the new and the walls were boarded and decorated. New lights were i.nstalled and a large modern blind was fitted to separate the pulpit from the main hall for non-religious functions.

I985 Following agreement between the Charity Commissioners and Mr Geo Smith (a descendant of our Founder) the proceeds from the sale of the chapel building were shared equally.

1988 300th Anniversary Year. Services on the 17 April to be conducted by Rev D H Hilton BA, the Yorkshire Province Moderator. Harvest service to be taken by Rev L Burton, the first Ecumenical Officer for West Yorkshire. Sunday school 219th Anniversary services on 19 June to be conducted by Rev J Durell.

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First Trustees - March 1716:
The new chapel was put in trust by indentures of lease and release bearing the dates 13th and 14th of March 1716, made between the Rev. Matthew Smith on the one part, and on the other by the following persons:

John Ferguson of Halifax, gentleman
Jonas Foster of Haworth township, yeoman
John Watkinson of Ovenden, yeoman
Edmond Pollard of Sowerby, yeoman
Jonas Thomas of Sowerby, yeoman
James Swift of Sowerby, yeoman


Second Trustees - 1732

The deed required that within three months after the deaths of four trustees, new trustees should be appointed. This provision having been neglected, it was 4 December 1732 before the chapel was again put into trust, the agreement being between the Rev. Matthew Smith on the one part, and on the other part by the following persons:

John Ferguson of Halifax gentleman
Jonas Foster, snr., of Warley, gentleman
Jonas Foster, jnr., of Warley, yeoman
John Watkinson of Ovenden, yeoman
Nathaniel Fletcher of Ovenden, cloathier
William Smith of Warley, cloathier

This indenture sealed and delivered in the presence of Ambrose Patchett and John Wood.


Third Trustees

Jonas Foster
Fox Smith of Little Horton, woolstapler
John Cockroft of High Field, Ovenden, shalloon maker
John Foster of Bankhouse, yeoman
Matthew Patchet of Cold Edge, yeoman
Samuel Garforth of Wainstalls, shalloon maker.


Renewal of the Trust - 8 May 1809 & Sandyfore Trustees - 31 May 1813

William Foster of Midgley, yeoman
John Garforth of Ovenden, cotton manufacturer
William Thompson of Warley, maltster
William Appleyard of Warley, cotton manfr.
Thomas Murgatroyd of Warley, cotton weaver
John Greenwood of Warley, cotton spinner

The same men along with Robert Thompson of Warley, maltster, were appointed Trustees of Sandyfore on 31 May 1813


First Sunday School Trustees - appointed 1821

John Garforth of Ovenden, cotton mfr.
William Appleyard of Warley, manufacturer
William Foster of Warley, maltster
Thomas Murgatroyd of Warley, mfr.
John Alderson of Ovenden, weaver
Nathaniel Priestley of Ovenden, weaver
James Priestley of Ovenden, weaver
William Calvert of Warley, weaver
David Greenwood of Ovenden, mfr.
John Walton of Ovenden, mfr
Thomas Greenwood of Ovenden, farmer
William Thomas of Ovenden, weaver

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Fifth Trustees - appointed 26 February 1864
Edward Crossley of Halifax, carpet mfr.
William Appleyard Nicholl of Halifax, worsted spinner
George Appleyard of Wainstalls, worsted spinner
Gerbacio Protacio Appleyard of Halifax, banker
Henry Hooson of Mixenden, stonemason
Samuel Rothera of Sandyfore, schoolmaster

at the same time the trust deed for Sandyfore was renewed and the same trustees appointed along with Thomas Murgatroyd.


List of Ministers 1686-1962
Rev. John Smith1736-1753
Rev. James Ritchie1753-1763
Rev. Thomas Evans1764-1779
Rev. Daniel Gronow1780-1782
Rev. David Jones1783-1791
Rev. James Rattray1791-1793
Mr. John Bates1793-1796
Mr David Howard1796-1802
Mr John Bates1802-1815
Mr Abraham Clarkson1815-1817
Rev. William Gibson1819-1821
Rev. John Preston1823-1841
Rev. Isaac Brierley1842-1864
Rev. George Hunsworth1869-1872
Rev. Joseph Poynton1873-1879
Rev. James Nelson1882-1884
Rev. Thomas Baron1886-1904
Rev. A J Davies1915-1917
Rev. T N Oliphant1918-1924
Rev. J G Davies [joint pastorate
with Highroad Well]
1927-1938
Rev. E Sunter [minister in charge]1952-1962
Mr. L A Collins [lay pastor]1962

Some Christenings from the first page of the register:

"The Register of ye Children Christened at Mixenden Chapel
Christened in ye year of Our Lord 1742"

Baptised May 16, or some other date, Matthew ye son of ye Ref. John Smith
Mark ye son of Abram Farrer,
Betty ye daughter of William Brigg
Fox ye son of Nathaniel Fletcher born half an hour past four in the morning


© 2000 Tana Willis Johnson