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Data from the 'Collectio Rerum Ecclesiasticarum' from the year 1842.

The place: HALIFAX.     Church dedication: ST. JOHN BAPTIST.     Church type: Vicarage in charge.

Area, 75,740 acres. Morley wapentake. - Population, 109,899 *1; Church-room, 1,900 *2; Net value, £1,678. -This Church was given by William, Earl Warren, to the Priory of Lewes, and appropriated thereto, and a Vicarage ordained therein, on the day of the Invention of the Holy Cross, A.D. 1274.

2nd Id. July 1275, a composition relative to mills, calves, &c., was confirmed by the Archbishop ; and another composition was made in December 1535.

At the Dissolution, the patronage came to the Crown, and also the impropriation.

In Pope Nicholas's taxation, the Church of Halifax is valued at £93. 6s. 8d., and the Vicarage at £16; in the King's books, at £84. 13s. 6d. Synodals, 4s.; Procurations, 7s. 6d.; and Pension to the Priory of Lewes, £14. 13s. In the Parliamentary Survey, vol. xviii. page 270, it is said : "The Vicar is entitled to small tithes, &c., worth about £240 per annum, but the dues are now withholden by most of the Chapelries in the parish. Dr. Marsh, a delinquent, was last Vicar there, but now the Vicarage is vacant, and supplied at present by one Robert Booth. The accustomary Rectorial tithes are worth £28 and a noble per annum. There are twelve Chapelries."

Inclosure Acts were passed 18th Geo. III. (Northowram), 47th Geo. III., 54th Geo. III. (Barkisland), 54th Geo. III. (Ovenden), 55th Geo. III. (Stansfield), and 56th Geo. III. (Stainland.)

Unreported decrees in the Exchequer, as to tithes, were made in Hilary Term, 8th Car. I., also in Trinity Term, 8th Will. III., and also in Trinity Term, 40th Eliz.

The impropriator is not entitled to the tithes of sheep, lambs, and wool, in the hamlets of Warley, Midgeley, Wadsworth, Heptonstall, Erringdon, and Stansfield in kind, but to certain moduses, as stated in the case, in lieu thereof.

The farm and lands, called Widdop, in the hamlet of Heptonstall, in the parish of Halifax, pay to the impropriator 1s. 8d. a year, on the 2nd of February, in lieu of the tithes of hay and corn thereon *3.

For the particulars of the endowment of this Vicarage, of the Chapels thereunto belonging, and a catalogue of the Vicars, see the Antiquities of the town of Halifax, by the Rev. Thomas Wright, page 36, &c., 12mo., Leeds, 1738 ; also the Rev. John Watson's History of Halifax, published in 1775 ; and Dr. Whitaker's Loidis et Elmete, page 369. Another history of the parish is in preparation, from the pen of E. N. Alexander, Esq., F.S.A. *4

In the 10th Geo. IV., 1829, an Act was passed for extinguishing tithes, and payments in lieu of tithes, mortuaries, and Easter Offerings, and other Vicarial dues and payments within the parish of Halifax, and for making compensation to the Vicar in lieu thereof, and enabling him to grant certain leases of lands belonging to the Vicarage.

The parish is divided into twenty-three townships, and there are fifteen Chapels, exclusive of Trinity Church and St. James's Church, both in the town of Halifax.

The Church is a large Gothic structure, and is supposed to have been built by the Earl of Warren and Surrey, in the reign of Henry I. It appears to have been re-edified at different periods, as part of the north side seems older than the rest. An organ was erected by faculty, dated 11th July 1766. Within the Church are two Chapels : the one called Rokeby's Chapel was erected in consequence of the will of Dr. William Rokeby, Vicar of Halifax, and afterwards Archbishop of Dublin, who died Nov. 29th 1521, and ordered that his bowels and heart should be buried in the Choir of this Church, and his body in the Chapel at Sandal.

Four Chantries are mentioned in the Valor Ecc.

Halifax has been well known for its Gibbet Law. It appears that the lord of the manor had anciently the power of inflicting the punishment of death on all criminals found guilty of theft to the value of thirteenpence-halfpenny ; and the punishment was inflicted by an axe (which is still to be seen in the gaol), which was put in action by removing a pin.

The Earl of Morton, Regent of Scotland, passing through Halifax, and happening to see one of these executions, caused a model to be taken, and carried it to his own country, where it remained for some time, and was first employed in cutting off his own head.

The model is still to be seen in the Castle at Edinburgh. At the commencement of the French Revolution, Dr. Guillotine made an improvement upon the model, and the instrument became known by his name ; and, by a very remarkable coincidence, the Doctor followed the fate of the Earl of Morton, by being one of its early victims.

If the felon had stolen a horse, or any beast, it was brought to the place of execution, and tied by a cord to the pin, and the bailiff then whipping the beast, the pin was plucked out, and execution done. If the felon happened to make his escape out of the limits of the forest of Hardwick, the bailiff had no power to apprehend him out of the liberties. The last execution took place in 1650.

A curious account of the Gibbet Law was published by John Bentley in 1761, and which is now extremely scarce.

In the civil wars, Halifax was garrisoned by the Parliamentarians, and to this place Sir Thomas Fairfax retreated after the battle of Adwalton Moor.

There is a glebe house fit for residence.

The Register Books commence in 1538, and include all the townships except those within the Chapelries of Elland and Heptonstall.

Free Grammar School, at Skircoat, founded by Queen Eliz., 15th Feb. 1585, for sons of the inhabitants of the parish, in grammar and classical learning. About thirty-five free scholars. Income : rent of 144a. 3r. 32r. of land, rent-charges of £8. 10s., and interest of £643, on personal security *5.

Nathaniel Waterhouse's charity, by will, dated 1st July 1642, and regulated by Act of Parliament, passed in 1777. The annual income in 1826 was about £1,000, being the rent of 46a. 3r. 39p. of land and sixty houses. The objects of the charity are various-such as the augmentation of the salaries of the preachers at the Chapels ; £4 to the grammar school ; £80 to the Blue-Coat Hospital (besides clothing) ; payments to poor widows ; repairs of highways, &c. The Report contains a very full account of this charity.

John Smyth's charity, by will, dated in 1726, for six poor children to read and write. Income : about £18 per annum.

Richard Somerscale's charity, by will, dated 17th March 1622. Rent of 7a. 2r. of land and two tenements, paid to the poor and needy.

Ellen Hopkinson's and Jane Crowther's almshouses, for twenty-one poor women. No income. 2s. 6d. each a month paid to them out of the Church-rates, and a gown once in two years. Mrs. Jane Crowther also left £5 per annum for instructing the children of the poor women, which is paid to a schoolmaster.

Alice Crowther's charity, by will, dated 12th October 1722. Rent of five cottages to poor housekeepers.

Brian Crowther's charity, by will, dated 9th September 1606. Rents-charge of £10 and £6. 15s. per annum for the poor.

Brian Bates's charity. 20s. per annum out of an estate in Blackledge-steel for the poor.

Rishworth School and Exhibitions. -See a very full account in the 17th Report, page 815, and also in Mr. Gilbert's Liber Scholasticus. At the time of the Report, the estate consisted of 447a. 1r. 7p. of land, mills, and other buildings, let for £1,774. 12s. 4d. per annum ; three houses, let for £154. 19s. per annum ; and dividends on £7,476. 7s. 9d. consols, in the name of the Accountant-General, subject to directions of the Court of Chancery.

Alice Haworth's gift to the aged and impotent poor. 20s. per annum.

John Turner's gift. 40s. per annum for bread for poor prisoners in Halifax gaol.

Isaac Bowcock's gift, by will, dated 11th February 1669, for apprenticing five poor children yearly, and relieving persons not having parochial relief, and setting up hopeful young persons in trade. Income : rent of house, barn, and garden, and 23a. 3r. 26p. of land. The land contains coal, which is worked, and let upon lease, which will expire 13th January 1855. -Vide 18th Report, page 560.

LECTURESHIP. -This is in the gift of the Vicar.

Torre's MS., page 809. Abp. Sharp's MS., vol. i. page 184. Watson's Halifax. Wright's Halifax. Crabtree's Halifax. Whitaker's Loidis et Elmete, page 369. Mon. Ang., vol. v. page 2. Bodleian MSS., Nos. 5,101, 8,518, 8,564.

*1 Viz.:- Barkisland, 2,292 ; Elland with Greetland, 5,500; Erringden, 1,933 ; Fixby, 348 ; Halifax, 15,382 ; Heptonstall, 4,661 ; Hipperholme with Brighouse, 4,977 ; Langfield, 2,514; Midgley, 2,409; Norland, 1,618 : Ovenden, 8,871 ; North Owram, 10,184; South Owram, 5,751 ; Raistrick, 3,021 ; Rishworth, 1,536 ; Shelf, 2,614 ; Skircoat, 4,060; Sowerby, 6,457; Soyland, 3,589 ; Stainland, 3,037 ; Stansfield, 8,262 ; Wadsworth, 5,198 ; and Warley, 5,685. Upwards of 1,200 men are employed in quarries and coal mines in this parish ; and of the labourers not agricultural in the township of South Owram, 237 are delvers.

*2 Estimated, in the return of 1818, at nearly 3,000.

*3 Cockcroft v. Utley, 2 Wood, page 220.

*4 An interesting history, by J. Crabtree, Esq., is also in course of publication.

*5 Mr. Gilbert states that this school is entitled, with those of Heversham and Leeds. to the three scholarships founded by the Rev. Thomas Milner, at Magdalen College, Cambridge. This information has escaped the notice of the Commissioners. -Liber Scholasticus.

From the original book published by
George Lawton in 1842..
OCR and changes for Web page presentation
by Colin Hinson. © 2013.