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Help and advice for YORK: York Congregational Church History up to 1868.

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YORK: York Congregational Church History up to 1868.

YORK:
York Congregational Church History up to 1868.

YORK.

" In this city we find several indications of the existence of a spirit of reformation and improvement in religion, long before the fatal Bartholomew Act in 1662 had compelled so large a portion of the pious clergy and laity to become Dissenters. Many of the ministers in and around York were inclined to Puritanism; and though, of course, it would follow that such principles would be carefully and vigorously opposed, they appear nevertheless to have made converts.

" Edwards, in his Gangræna, refers repeatedly to York as a place where sectaries of various opinions had busied themselves to diffuse their sentiments. If credit is to be given to him, there were Independent churches gathered in many other towns in Yorkshire, as well as York in itself.

" After the bill had been brought in for establishing episcopacy, the different parishes were allowed to elect their own ministers, who were afterwards, if the Westminster assembly approved them, confirmed in their benefices by the Parliament. An ordinance of Feb. 27, 1643, authorized Lord Fairfax to supply the vacant pulpits in Yorkshire." (Neal, ii. 75.)

" On the reduction of York, says Calamy (I presume in 1644, after the battle of Marston Moor), 'the State supported four ministers in the city, with honourable stipends, to preach in their course at the Minster. Among these were the ejected Edward Bowles, son of Oliver Bowles, of the Assembly of Divines, born 1617,* Thomas Calvert, and Richard Perrot. The plan is given, Cal. iii., 455-6. Mr. Perrot received this appointment in 1658, but Mr. Calvert and Mr. Bowles had their appointment from the commencement. Their associates were Mr Rathband*1 and Mr. Herring. Mr. Calvert had held a living in the city as rector of Christchurch so early as 1638. After Mr. Rathband's removal Mr. Peter Williams was appointed.'"

" Bowles was a man of great influence. It is said by Calamy, that whilst his preaching was much esteemed, his prayers were much of a piece with his sermons.' There were four things which he particularly prayed for-sound doctrine, purity in worship, true Christian liberty, and the power of godliness."*2

When General Monk was on his way to London, a sermon was preached before him at the cathedral, and Bowles, as chaplain of Lord Fairfax, was the preacher. Several private interviews followed between Monk and Bowles, the latter pressing the General to declare for the king. Bowles was, a little later, one of the deputation who visited Charles at Breda. '

It is recorded that the Deanery of York was offered him, but he refused to conform; he was therefore removed from the Minster at the Restoration, though he continued to preach at Allhallow's, and afterwards at St. Martin's. The parishioners of Leeds elected him vicar; but Dr. Lake, afterwards Bishop of Chichester, was appointed. Bowles was a great friend of Drs. Tillotson and Stillingfleet, who much desired to induce him to conform; their efforts were, however, in vain. In his last illness he was asked, "What of Conformity he disliked ?" and he replied, "The whole." He died on the eve of St. Bartholomew, and desired to be buried without ostentation; there was, therefore, no funeral sermon. It is supposed that the enactments of the Act of Uniformity greatly oppressed his spirits, seeing he had taken a conspicuous part in bringing about the Restoration, and that he died almost brokenhearted at the anticipated consequences of that measure.

The name of Christopher Cartwright appears among the Puritan worthies of this period. His funeral sermon was preached by Edward Bowles, who published it in I 680. Cartwright left his papers of Rabbinical learning to T. Calvert, saying that he was the only person who could understand them.

There is no record of any of the parochial clergy of York having been ejected by the Act of Uniformity. Several lecturers and others were, however, removed.

Thomas Calvert had been formerly in the family of Sir Thomas Burdett, in Derbyshire. He afterwards removed to York, where he was one of the preachers in the cathedral, officiating also at Christ Church and All Hallows. He preached and published a course of lectures on Is. liii., which he entitled "Mel Coeli," or "Medulla Evangelii," 4to. He published previously, in 8vo, "The Blessed Jew of Morocco; or, the Blackamoor turned White." This book, which showed abundance of learning, gained him the title of "Rabbi Calvert." After his ejection, he lived in private, doing what good he could. He was driven from the city by the Five-mile Act, and removed to Lady Berwick's, near Tadcaster. He returned, however, to York before his death, and published many works. He died of a fever April 15, 1679, æt. 72, and was buried in Allhallow's, Pavement.

Peter Williams remained in safety under the protection of Sir John Brook, carrying on a week-day service at Lady Lister's. He died 1680. Richard Perrot, after practising medicine at Barniston, died at York, in 1671, aet. 41 *3. Many other ejected ministers resided at York-Stephen Arlush (ej. Howden, East Riding), who died in 1680; Joshua Whitton, M.A., godfather to Archbishop Tillotson (ej. from Thornhill), who died 1680; - Plackstone (ej. Sherringham), who died 1686; Matthew Hill, once of Helaugh (ej. Thirsk), who after having preached for a time with much risk in the city, and undergone great straits, at length removed to Maryland, and died there. We have also the names of Parrett, who died 1666, and of Hasle, of whom we know nothing.

But the first Nonconformist congregation owed its existence principally to Rev. RALPH WARD. This laborious minister was born in the parish of Peniston, and began his ministry in Denby Chapel. He was ordained in Newcastle 1653, but had been driven from Hartborn, in Durham, soon after the Restoration. He subsequently became chaplain to Sir John Hewley, and was much honoured in that family. He preached, alternately with Mr. Williams, at the house of Lady Watson (who died, according to the Northowram Register Oct. 6, 1679). Though driven from his post for a short season by the Five-mile Act, he returned and preached in private. It does not, however, appear that any Nonconformist meeting-house was erected, during his life, in this city.

The first congregation probably met at Micklegate, at the house of Mr. Andrew Taylor, a spirited merchant, who afforded refuge to the persecuted Nonconformists. Heywood mentions his having paid a visit to Ralph Ward and Mr. Taylor, in Ousebridge Gaol. This was the result of one of a series of persecutions to which the Nonconformity of these good men exposed them. After being excommunicated, being subjected to a writ of capias, being fined succesively in the sums of £20 and £40, and after having his doors broken open by night, Ward was seized in 1684, and accused of a riot. The case was brought before Judge Jefferies, who railed at him, in his usual style, and sentenced him to be imprisoned upon Ouse Bridge. But he was allowed to preach to his visitors. At length he was liberated by the special order of James II., the prosecution being found illegal. Though his long confinement had much injured his health, he resumed his public duties. Thoresby mentions that he heard him and Mr. Bloome (of Sheffield) preach in 1681. Mr. Noah Ward, not a relation, was his assistant. He died March 13, 1691, after a thirty years' pastorate, æt. 62. "He resided at one of the Askham's villages, near York." (Hunter's Heywood, 334.)

Heywood furnished much of the above information through Thoresby to Calamy. He says, in writing to Thoresby : "Sir, some that have seen my catalogue of York ministers, advise me to expunge three of them, Mr. R. Town, Mr. Core, and Mr. Robinson, because they were Antinomians."

There were in York many Nonconformists of eminent zeal and piety. Among these was Lady Watson, of whom the following account is taken from one of the Thoresby MSS. "Her father's name was Nelson, born in Westmoreland. Was married at eleven years old; her first husband lived but two or three years after they were married. Was married by Stephen Watson, of York, who was Lord Mayor in King (illeg.) days. Was eminent for piety and hospitality. His lady lived about eighteen years after his decease, in times of greatest trouble and persecution, when liberty was most restrained. She kept her doors open for both Lord's-day and week-day meetings; Mr. Ward on Tuesdays, Mr. Williams on Thursdays. And in times of trouble, when York Castle was filled with prisoners, very liberal and bountiful to prisoners in the Castle, and improved her interest in procuring their liberty, and was very successful in procuring liberty or divers. She died Oct. 4, 1678, aged 80 years."-(Letter from Joseph Jackson, Upcott Coll.).

Oliver Heywood, in his diaries, enables us to form some notion of the persons conspicuous for their nonconformity in the city of York. He lodges at Sir John Hewley's, preaches at Lady Watson's, spends the evening at Lady Hewet's. Some of the persons he visits at York are, Lords Clifford and Fairfax, Sir Gilbert Gerherd, and Sir John Brooke. Among the favourers of Nonconformity in the city, were also Mrs. Hutton,*4 of Poppleton, sister to Lord Fairfax, called in the Northowram Register, "a gracious woman;" Alderman Dawson, "an ancient professor;" Mr. Samuel Smith, who married a daughter of the Tutor Frankland, and Mr. Pailer, "a good man," near York, whose wife had been Lady Carey.

Rev. Timothy Hodgson was chaplain to Sir John and Lady Hewley. He and his father, Captain Hodgson, had been originally members of the church at Sowerby, which was distinctly Congregationalist. He seems never to have had any pastoral charge. He died in December, 1717.

NOTES:-
* Bowles was the author of several publications, "The Mystery of Iniquity," &c. We have elsewhere related that he was one of the ministers sent to welcome Charles II
*1 The son, probably, of the Rathband who wrote against Brownists.
*2 Scales' MSS. These are the only sentences which Mr. S. appears to have really prepared for his projected work.
*3 Andrew Perrot, perhaps some relation, was High Sheriff of York in 1670, and Lord Mayor in 1693.
*4 Mr. Bowles married one of this family, viz: Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Hutton, of Poppleton. This family was connected by marriage with the descendants of Dr. Tobias Matthews, whose children and grandchildren married into Dissenting families.


Transcribed by Colin Hinson © 2014
from the Appendix to
Congregationalism in Yorkshire
by James C. Miall, 1868.