EASTWOOD: Eastwood Congregational Church History up to 1868.



Nonconformity first began at Eastwood in 1693, through the earnest labours of the Rev. M. Smith, of Mixenden. In 1699 a house was hired for a meeting-house, and several ministers were engaged as rotatory preachers, among whom were Smith, Wainman, Aldred, Stevenson, and others.

In 1712, Rev. JOSHUA CORDINGLEY was chosen the first pastor.

In 1719, a meeting-house, capable of holding 200 or 300, was erected at Benthead,*1 and Mr. Cordingley preached here in connection with Rev. John Smith of Warley, son of Matthew Smith. When the latter removed to Mixenden, to become his father's assistant, his successor, Rev. E. Stock, took his place at Eastwood. Mr. Cordingley died, much lamented, in 1734. Mr. Stock (at Mr. Cordingley's dying request) continued to preach to them in conjunction with Rev. Robert Eden. Robert Eden came from Elland, 1724. He was probably a pupil of Matthew Smith. He settled at Eastwood seven years, and during that time exchanged pulpits alternately with Mr. Cordingley of Warley.

  • Circ. 1739. THOMAS FARRAR succeeded for two and a half years. He exchanged with Mr. Stock, of Warley. Some dissensions arising between them and their several partisans, they both quitted their respective places. Mr. Farrar removed to Elland *2
  • 1739. Rev. ROBERT HESKETH (Glasgow, from Bolton, Lancashire). He held the pastorate for five years, and in 1744 removed to Northowram. Ob. 1774.
  • 1744. Rev. DANIEL PHILLIPS (first settled at Ripley). The introduction of Methodism, together with the ravages of an unusual mortality, much diminished the congregation, and in 1753 Mr. Phillips removed to Sowerby. An interval of a year and a half now occurred, which was again disadvantageous.
  • 1754. Rev. MICHAEL MAURICE. He removed to Pudsey in 1770, and died three years after.
  • 1771. Rev. DAVID LEWIS. He left for Peniston in 1777.
  • 1777. Rev. THOMAS ROBERTS. A promising and useful man. He died July 4, 1779. Buried at Eastwood.
  • 1779. Rev. DAVID SIMPSON. A Scotchman. He was educated at Newcastle; was supposed to be an Arian, and was, after much agitation, compelled to retire. He removed to Holcomb, Lancashire.
  • 1784. Rev. EVAN MATTHIAS, His stay was also brief. He retired in 1786 to Newcombe, Lancashire.
  • 1787. Rev. WILLIAM MAINE. Left for Holcombe after one year. The Rev. Thomas Jeremy preached for a few months; but his health was delicate and the climate unfavourable. He did not receive a call, and went to Uxbridge.
  • 1789. Rev. THOMAS FORDYCE, a man of considerable pulpit talent. He removed to Stand, 1791.
  • 1792. Rev. JAMES HENDERSON (Educated in Edinburgh). A diligent pastor. He died Aug. 26, 1804. Buried at Eastwood.
  • The church was now in a state of great depression; only four members remained. At this time the Rev. Joseph Cockin interested himself in the condition of the Eastwood congregation, and through him students from the Idle Academy began to preach. The congregation soon revived.
  • 1807. Rev. JAMES SCOTT (Idle Acy.). After his invitation, and before he had completed his term of study, a new chapel was projected, near to the present railway station, to be capable of accommodating 500 persons. It was erected and opened 1807, Mr. Scott raising contributions with indefatigable zeal. He was ordained in September following. His ministry was most acceptable and useful; he preached to crowded congregations. He removed to Cleckheaton, 1814.
  • 1817. Rev. ROBERT ALLATT. A state of discord now led to the church's dissolution. On its reformation, out of 102 members only twenty returned. Mr. Allatt removed in 1819 to Cannon Street, Manchester. Ob. 1834.
  • 1821. Rev. Amos BLACKBURN. The congregation now again increased. In 1826 a minister's house was built. The former building having been required for the railway, the present chapel was erected in its stead, and opened 1840, with sermons by Revs. R. W. Hamilton, J. G. Miall, and W. Thorpe.
    Mr. Blackburn was a valued minister. In 1863 he was chairman of the West Riding Congregational Union. On January 28, 1864, he was accidentally killed by a railway train near to the Eastwood station. His funeral sermons were preached by Revs. J. Parsons and D. Jones. 1866.
  • Rev. JAMES READ-the present minister (in 1868).
Eastwood has an annuity of £32 per annum by bequest from Mrs. Hutton. It has besides an endowment of £4 annually, payable from a farm in Stansfield.

* Aided by Rev. B. Dale, M.A., and Rev. J. Read.
*1 The old chapel is still in existence, with the old parsonage adjoining. Together they constitute four dwelling-houses, and have just been put into good condition. They are let at a low rent.
*2 Wilson's MSS.

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