KEIGHLEY: Keighley Congregational Church History up to 1868.



A church was formed here at the beginning of 1700 by a number of friends then belonging to the church at Bingley. They first met in a barn belonging to Mr. Leach, whose house was afterwards the site of the new chapel.
  • 1742. The first minister was Rev. THOS. THORBURN, from Northumberland. He entered upon his work in 1742. In 1744, he removed to Sowerby.
  • An invitation was now given to Rev. James Scott, then of Horton, afterwards of Heckmondwike, which he thought proper to decline. It was signed by thirty-four persons.
  • 1745. Rev. GEORGE HAGGERSTON. He removed from Keighley to Hopton in the same year. He was a scholar, but probably an Arian.
  • An interval now occurs during which it appears that Rev. James Scott frequently visited Keighley, and preached there. He was invited repeatedly to settle as their minister, but declined. He introduced to them the next minister.
  • 1749. The Rev. JAMES SMITH, from London. This was, however, an unhappy connection, and was painfully dissolved. Smith published a sermon against Antinomianism. He calls it "The Poor and Imperfect Address of a Poor and Imperfect Man."
  • Rev. THOMAS MUSCHETT, from Scotland. After a stay of two or three years, he removed to Thornton (1757). He was a great catechiser, and took much pains with the religious education of the young.
  • 1756. Rev. JOSHUA NEIL. Mr. Neil was a young man who, having offended his Presbytery by marrying whilst at college, and having been expelled in consequence, had come from Scotland with views not favourable to Presbyterianism. He was ordained according to the Congregational pattern, and the congregation became united to the Independents. Whilst he was minister, the barn in which he had preached fell to the ground one Sunday evening after service. This led to the purchase by the congregation of Mr. Leach's property, and a more commodious house for worship was erected. Though a man of diligence and success, the smallness of his income
  • at length compelled Mr. N. to retire from Keighley and to return to Scotland (1770). He afterwards dedicated to the Keighley people a volume of sermons.
  • 1771. Rev. THOMAS HALLIDAY, classical tutor, of Daventry. His stay was very short. He left for Norton Hall, 1772. He is spoken of as "both original and eloquent," but he had a taste for speculation in business which ultimately ruined him.*1
  • 1773. Rev. SAMUEL PHILLIPS, from Wales. He was a Presbyterian. He had a school for boys, and by means of it, and some property he possessed, he lived in comfort. But circumstances of a nature deeply affecting his religious character peremptorily demanded his retirement, and Mr. P. was required to withdraw. He retreated to Leeds, and soon after died. On the Hewley list, 1774.
  • 1787. Rev. THOMAS LAIRD, from the Academy at Northowram. He had been for a short time at Skipton before coming to Keighley. His stay was short, and in 1792 he removed to Pudsey.
  • 1793. Rev. WILLIAM STIRRET, from Northowram Acy. After preaching for eight months, the day was fixed for his ordination. But on that very day he died.
  • 1794. Rev. DAVID DEWHIRST, also from Northowram. During his stay many changes occurred, all of them unfavourable to the interests of the congregation. He resigned his charge in 1821. In his time a considerable secession took place; a Baptist chapel was erected, and a new Independent chapel was commenced. He was on the Hewley list, 1795.
  • 1822. Rev. HENRY BIRCH, from the Academy at Blackburn. In his time school-rooms were erected on the chapel premises. In Jan., 1826, Mr. Birch retired to Bradford, where he vainly endeavoured to form a new Independent congregation.
  • 1826. Rev. WILLIAM TYLER. Mr. T. had been for a time assistant to Rev. T. Taylor, Bradford. Mr. T. left for Ossett, 1833.
  • 1834. Rev. JOSEPH TATTERSFIELD (Idle and Airedale Coils.). He was ordained Oct. 8 of the same year. During his ministry, a new large and beautiful chapel, with schools and a parsonage-house, have been erected, and a new Sabbath school-room at Utley. The church has been greatly multiplied, and success and progress have marked the period. The old chapel is rented to the Total Abstinence Society, and now bears the name of "The Temperance Hall." Mr. T. has just (1868) resigned from ill-health, and the pulpit is now vacant.

* Aided by Rev. J. Tattersfield.
*1 "Monthly Repository," 1825.

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