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Help and advice for BRADFORD: Bradford Congregational Church History up to 1868.

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BRADFORD: Bradford Congregational Church History up to 1868.

Bradford Congregational Church History up to 1868.


In 1662 was living at Horton Hall, Bradford, a family of some importance, bearing the name of Sharp. The members of it were staunch Puritans, and the head of the family, John Sharp, had received a medal from Sir Thomas Fairfax for services rendered during the civil wars.* This John Sharp married Mary Clarkson, sister of David Clarkson, a celebrated Nonconformist Divine,** and had two sons, Thomas Sharp and Abraham Sharp (afterwards a celebrated mathematician). The elder son was educated at Cambridge, under the care of his uncle, and subsequently obtained the living of Adel (the former incumbent, Dr. Hitch, also rector of Guiseley, having been removed by the ordinance against pluralities). After the Restoration, Sharp was ejected. For a time he pursued his studies in the family house at Horton, usually attending the parish church, though preaching occasionally. Heywood mentions being engaged with Sharp in a public service at Bowling, and states that he (Heywood) was keeping a private fast at the house of John Smith, of Bradford, on the day before the welcome news of the indulgence (1672) arrived. On the occurrence of this favourable event, T. Sharp, his father being now dead, licensed his house at Horton Hall, and gathered a congregation, to whom he preached in his library. When, however, the licences were recalled in 1675, Sharp removed to Morley, and afterwards to Leeds. A meetinghouse was afterwards erected on Chapel Green, near Wibsey, on land belonging to Sharp, part of which building still remains.

Some uncertainty exists as to the pastorate of Horton after the removal of Sharp. Rev. Richard Whitehurst, minister of Kipping, is mentioned as, at least, a preacher.***

Jonathan Wright and Nathaniel Priestley ministered here about 1690, before ordination.

James (" History of Bradford ") says, "Samuel Hulme, a worthy man, of great repute among the Presbyterians, resided and held the office of minister at Little Horton, about the year 1700, and there his son, Dr. Hulme, the eminent physician, was born." Dr. Hulme was a resident in Halifax.

We can speak with more confidence of the following pastors :-

  • Rev. SAMUEL CROWTHER, who died 1706.
  • Circ. 1706. Rev. ELI DAWSON. He exchanged regular services with Rev. N. Priestley, of Halifax (who, with Jonathan Wright and Accepted Lister, had been ordained in this chapel, 1694). E. D. was the youngest son of Dawson, of Morley. He had seven sons, all of whom were brought up to the Dissenting ministry, but almost all, greatly to the disgust of their father's friends, abandoned it, and four conformed. The chapel received aid from the Stretton fund.
  • In 1716 the congregation is called Presbyterian, having 500 hearers, 40 of whom had County votes. In the Church Register Robert Banke and Christopher Nesse are named as ministers, a term then applied to periodical preachers.

* A younger branch of this family was Thomas Sharp, who resided at Woodhouse, near Bradford. He also was a Puritan. During the civil wars, Fairfax took up his head-quarters at his house, and offered him a commission in the army. His wife, however, who was a Royalist, persuaded him to decline the offer. Archbishop Sharp was the son of this Puritan, having probably learned conformity on the maternal side.
** Clarkson was born in Bradford. He was tutor at Cambridge to Tillotson. He was ejected from Mortlake, and became subsequently assistant to Dr. Owen. Bates says of him : "He was a man of sincere godliness and true holiness, which is the divine part of a minister. . . . Humility and modesty were the distinctive characters wherein he excelled. . . . He was of a calm temper, not ruffled with passions, but gentle and kind and good; his breast was the temple of peace." And Baxter describes him as "a man of extraordinary worth for solid judgment, healing moderate principles, acquaintance with the fathers, great ministerial abilities, and a godly, uptight life." Tillotson, whose tutor he was at Cambridge, always regarded him with the utmost respect. - "Noncon. Mem." iii. 206.
*** Rev. Jonas Waterhouse had been Vicar of Bradford, but was ejected. He continued to worship at the parish church, but attended also the Nonconformist gatherings. He died Feb. 13, 1757, aet. 90. He left part of his library to William Hodgson, Bowling.

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