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SHEFFIELD: Sheffield-Nether Chapel Congregational Church History up to 1868.

Sheffield-Nether Chapel Congregational Church History up to 1868.


We have related the circumstances of the separation from the Upper Chapel upon a principle of essential importance -the right of the church to elect its officers. The seceding body was composed mainly of the middle class, in number about 200, and was led by Mr. Elias Wordsworth, a man of great piety and zeal. Mr. De la Rose was elected to the pastoral office, and a day was fixed for his ordination. On that day, the Rev. Messrs. Jollie, Hesketh, Allwood, Moult, Kirby, and others were present. But some ministers whose services had been calculated on never appeared. A strong letter was at the same time sent by Mr Wadsworth, of the Upper Chapel, entreating ministers to warn and protest against the sinful separation which was being perpetrated. Under these circumstances it was judged wise to defer the ordination altogether for the present, and to enter upon a solemn inquiry into the whole matter. Accordingly, in the following month (Nov., 1715), a number of ministers met, and fully investigated all the facts of this important case. After hearing both sides, they pronounced their judgment, "that the first breach arose from the precipitant acts of those who now adhere to Mr. Wadsworth, and that those brethren that now adhere to Mr. John De la Rose have a just and righteous cause," and they, therefore, joined in ordaining Mr. De la Rose to the pastorship of Nether Church. Unfortunately the signatures to this award have not been preserved, and we only know from other authority that at the ordination Mr. Moult, of Leeds, asked the usual questions, and gave the charge, and that Rev. T. Jollie, jun., preached on the following day.

The congregation, which at the first numbered about 200, had fitted up two houses for temporary worship, and had begun at once to build a chapel. It was finished in 1715, and from its situation in relation to the other sanctuary, was called the Nether Chapel. The ordination took place in it.

The Rev. JOHN DE LA ROSE was the son of a French refugee. He had a brother settled at Stockport. His preaching seems to have partaken somewhat of the character of Gallic oratory, and he was very popular. Yet he seems to have been wretchedly sustained by the contributions of his people, a fault for which Sheffield was remarkable about this time. He died Dec. 31, 1723, and was buried in the chapel yard.

The Rev. ROBERT KELSALL, from Cheshire. He was young, and though a worthy and able man, did not gain the affections of his people. He resigned 1726, and became minister of two congregations in Derbyshire. He died 1772. After his removal "great heats "are recorded to have taken place. This state of things exposed the congregation to much reproach.

  • Rev. OGLE RADFORD. He remained but a short time, then removed to Nottingham, where he died.
  • We have now mention of Rev.ROBERTS, then of Rev. -- SMITH. The latter, we are told, "lost the respect of his people, and died in great distress."
  • In 1748 a most worthy minister succeeded, in the person of the Rev. JOHN PYE. He was very Evangelical in sentiment, and devoted in labour. Mr. Pye's niece was married to Mr. John Smith, a respectable bookseller in Sheffield. Their son was the eminent Rev. J. Pye Smith, D.D., &c. Mr. Pye died May 24, 1773, aet. 55. He was infirm in body, but a truly pious and worthy minister. Mr. Pye was an intimate friend of Rev. James Scott, the tutor at Heckmondwike, who often preached at Sheffield with great acceptance.
  • May 4, 1774, Mr. Pye was succeeded by Rev. JOHN HARMER, (from Homerton Acy.), a relative of the author of "Illustrations of Scripture," afterwards minister at Gosport. Mr. H. was an Evangelical minister, but laboured with less success than his predecessor. He died suddenly from angina pectoris March 27, 1798. Rev. S. Boden preached his funeral sermon. He was celebrated for mechanical skill, and invented a machine for shearing and raising cloth, which proved of value.
  • 1798. Rev. JOHN DAWSON. He resigned about 1813, though he still lived at Sheffield.
  • 1813. Rev. JOSEPH GILBERT, then classical tutor at Masborough College. He was a man of great erudition, and of profound intellect. Whilst at Sheffield he married Miss Ann Taylor (sister of Isaac Taylor, well known by his numerous and important publications), herself an authoress.
  • Mr. Gilbert removed in 1817 to Hull, and afterwards to Nottingham.
  • He was succeeded in 1817 by Rev. THOMAS SMITH, M.A., ordained Dec. 9, 1819, who was also classical tutor at Rotherham College an office which he resigned Jan. 2 1850. Mr. Smith was an accom plished scholar, and a man of great power and eloquence when ade quately excited. During his mini stry the chapel was rebuilt an( opened Aug. 19, 1828. Mr. S. resigned his charge at Nether Chapel Nov., 1852, and died Jan. 28, 1853, æt. 69.
  • Oct. 16, 1853. Rev. HENRY BATCHELOR (Newport-Pagnell Acy.), from Fetter Lane, London. Mr. B. preached his farewell sermon on leaving for Glasgow Dec. 25, 1858.
  • July 30, 1859. Rev. T M. HERBERT, M.A. He was ordained Nov. 24, 1859, and removed 1863.
  • Jan. 11, 1864. Rev. HENRY QUICK (Hackney), from Bristol, the present minister (in 1868).
  • "In the burial-ground," says Hunter (from whom most of the foregoing particulars are derived), "are several tombs of the Wordsworth family, originally of the parish of Peniston. Some members of this family acquired great wealth in London. They have been considerable benefactors to the Society."

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