PONTEFRACT: Pontefract Congregational Church History up to 1868.



The congregation at Pontefract arose out of the operation of the Act of Uniformity in 1662. Rev. Joshua Farrett, minister of St. Giles' Church, a learned and useful man, was then deprived. He found refuge, however, in the house of Mr. Ward, in Tanshelf, where he preached to those who prized his ministry.

The Castle Chain House was used in the seventeenth century as a prison. Many Nonconformists were shut up there.

The ministers of the congregation thus formed have been-

  • 1662. Rev. JOSEPH FARRETT. He died the following year, 1663. Mention is made of a Rev. James Creswick, who died at Beal, near Pontefract, in 1692, æt. 75. "A worthy person, and a most earnest and faithful minister of the Gospel." ( Jonathan Priestley was his executor.) He published "Advice to an Only Child," with a preface by Heywood.
  • 1663. Rev. JOHN NOBLE (ej. from Smeeton). Calamy calls him "An excellent, useful, and solid divine," "an excellent disputant, who never lost or disparaged his cause or reputation by ignorance or passion." He began to preach at Pontefract. Mr. N. died 1679, æt. 68.
  • 1679. Rev. PETER NAYLOR preached,. here alternately with Alverthorpe. Mr. N. died 1690.
  • In 1691, Jeremiah Gill, afterwards of Hull, then a candidate for the ministry, was preaching here. (See Heywood.)
  • 1691 or 2. Rev. TIMOTHY MANLOVE. Removed to Mill Hill, Leeds, 1694. Author of "The Immortality of the Soul," and "The Soul's Preparation for Eternity."
  • 1694. Rev. JOHN HEYWOOD, son of Oliver Heywood, from Rotherham. Mr. H. died 1704, aet. 48.
  • 1715. Rev. -- SANDFORD. At this time the congregation, which was now Independent, included several families of influence. In 1721, a small endowment was left by Mary Reynolds. Mr. Sandford, who was a pensioner on the Hewley Fund, died 171.6. Then occurs a considerable interval.
  • Rev. JOHN COPPOCK (from Kendal Acy.). He was an Unitarian, and in his day the congregation greatly declined. He preached at Pontefract and Long Houghton. Ob. 1782 or 1789.
  • The old meeting-house was now repaired by some persons of Evangelical sentiments.
  • Rev. WILLIAM TAPP, a Trinitarian. A curious will case at York, 1809. Mr. T. removed, 1791.
  • 1792. Rev. BENJAMIN BOOTHROYD (Northowram Acy.). Mr. B. was ordained 1794. His stipend being small, he carried on the trade of bookseller. He was the author of "History of Pontefract," "Biblia Hebraica," after the text of Kennicot, "An Improved English Version of the Holy Scriptures," &e. &c. Mr. B. removed in 1818 to Huddersfield. During his ministry a new chapel became necessary. A sum of money was left for the purpose by H. Busk, Esq. It was opened in 1796. A Sunday-school was commenced in Mr. B.'s time.
  • 1820. Rev. JAMES RAWSON (Rotherham Coll.). He removed in 1835.
  • 1836. Rev. HENRY DOUGLAS. He left in the same year.
  • 1837. Rev. JOHN EDGAR MILLSON (Rotherham Coll.). Removed 1847. During his ministry, the chapel, which had been changed in Mr. Boothroyd's day from Newgate to Finkle Street, was enlarged.
  • 1847. Rev. JOHN HARROP (Rotherham Coll.), from Richmond. Mr. H. removed to Burton West, 1850.
  • 1852. Rev. THOMAS Ems. Mr. E. removed in 1855.
  • 1857. Rev. JAMES INNES (Glasgow Univ.). Mr. I. removed to Websey, 1861.
  • 1862. Rev. T. WILLIS (Airedale Coll.), the present minister (in 1868), during whose ministry new Sunday School-rooms have been erected.*

* By aid of Rev. T. Willis.

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