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HALIFAX: Halifax-Square Chapel Congregational Church History up to 1868.

Halifax-Square Chapel Congregational Church History up to 1868.


Among the converts of early Methodism was the Rev. Titus Knight. He laboured for a time under Wesley, but became at length dissatisfied with the doctrinal views he had hitherto preached. Lady Huntingdon offered to procure for him episcopal ordination, but as some friends remained attached to his ministry it was resolved to fit up two cottages for a chapel and the exercise of his ministry among them. Mr. Grimshaw, of Haworth, undertook to beg for it, and obtained the name of Lady Huntingdon as his first subscriber. This building was in Chapel-fold, Gaol Lane. The lease bears the date of 1763. Among his hearers was Mrs. Kershaw, whose husband attended the then Unitarian chapel at Northgate End. He frequently accompanied her to listen to Mr. Knight, and the opinions of both underwent a total change. The small chapel soon became crowded, and steps were taken by Mr. Kershaw for the erection of a more commodious edifice. Square Chapel was accordingly projected. Great interest was taken in its erection by Rev. H. Venn, then at Huddersfield, who raised a contribution in its behalf amounting to £170. The chapel was opened in May, 1772. Its cost was over £2,000. The style of the building, so much surpassing most chapels of its day, excited not a little remark, especially among some of the London dissenters, who were solicited for aid. A letter from Ezekiel Off-wood, dated London, Jan. 24, 1792, says :-" The Londoners are displeased at Mr. Knight's grand. One minister said to me, It was pride, 'the door-post and lintel', he was told, cost £50, and the pulpit £100." In his memoirs of his father, Rev. John Cockin says : "The transition from the Conventicle in Jail Lane to the New Square Chapel was perhaps as great as minister and congregation ever made."

The ministers have been :-

  • 1772. Rev. TITUS KNIGHT. He was a stirring, energetic, and useful preacher. He was much associated with Whitefield, at whose chapels he regularly preached during two months in each year. He wrote the epitaph on Whitefield's monument in Tottenham Court Chapel, London. He was the author of several publications, among which were two volumes of sermons, "Dialogues on Important Subjects," &c. He resigned Sept. 13, 1791, and died at Halifax the following year, aged 74.
  • Mr. Kershaw was, during Knight's ministry, deacon of the church. His coadjutor in that office was Mr. Hodgson, whose father was a prominent member of the congregation at Heckmondwike.
  • 1792. Rev. JOSEPH COCKIN (Heckmondwike Acy.) from Thornton. He was a fearless, zealous, able, and devoted minister. He preached annually at some of the large chapels in London, where his ministry was very acceptable and useful. He also preached before the London Missionary Society in 1798, and was largely occupied in public services in his own county. He was, moreover, a most zealous itinerant (see p. 176.) Before his death a separation of part of his congregation took place, and Sion Chapel was built for their accommodation.
  • 1828. ROT. JOHN BARLING (Hoxton Acy.), who had been assistant to Mr. Cockin since 1827, became his successor. He was a man of much talent and virtue, but, having ultimately adopted Unitarian sentiments, relinquished his charge, 1833.
  • 1834. Rev. ALEXANDER EWING, M.A. On his accession several of the members withdrew, and formed a new congregation in Harrison Road. Mr. Ewing removed to Gosport in 1846. He published in 1839 a volume of discourses.
  • At this period the chapel was renovated and re-modelled, and day-schools were established.
  • 1848. Rev. &root MELLOR, M.A. (Lancashire Coll., and Edinburgh). During his ministry (1855) a new chapel, of large dimensions and considerable elegance, was erected, the old chapel being fitted up for school-rooms. It was opened July 15, 1855, the tower and adornments being special gifts of some of the worshippers. After a successful pastorate Mr. M. removed to Great George Street, Liverpool, 1861.
  • 1862. Rev. WM. ROBERTS (of Hackney College) from Southampton. Mr. Roberts resigned in 1866, and became pastor of a church at Upper Holloway, London.
  • 1867. Rev. ENOCH MELLOR returned from Liverpool to his former charge, warmly welcomed by his congregation. He is the present minister (in 1868).
  • In 1852 Messrs. Crossley purchased a piece of ground, and built a school-room at Rangebank, and appointed Rev. John Hopkins, of Ratcliffe Bridge, Lancashire, to preach here in 1855. On his leaving, he was followed by the Rev. B. Bond There is no church, but the place is a preaching station of Square Chapel.

* Aided by Rev. B. Dale, M.A. meeting.

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