WAKEFIELD AND ALVERTHORPE: Wakefield And Alverthorpe Congregational Church History up to 1868.



Mention has been made of a congregation which was gathered at Alverthorpe. Rev. Christopher Richardson, ejected from Kirkheaton, retired to his own house, Lassell Hall, where he preached on Sundays, and held a lecture once a month. This must have been considerably after 1672, for after the issuing of the Act of Indulgence, Richardson preached for some time in Castle Hey, Harrington Street, Liverpool. Among the ejected ministers in the neighbourhood was the Rev. Joshua Kirby, Camden lecturer at the parish church. "This brave and conscientious man was expelled from one living because he could not sign the solemn league and covenant;' he was driven from another because he could not sign the agreement;' and from his lectureship at Wakefield parish church because he could, not obey the Act of Uniformity.' When he was in the south, he was imprisoned at Lambeth; when he came into the north, he was im prisoned at York. He would publicly pray for King Charles in exile in the days of the Commonwealth, and he would not pray at all out of the prayer-book in the days of the Monarchy. * Kirby was a substantial preacher, quoting Scripture very abundantly in his sermons. He was a very holy man, of inflexible principle, and was remarkable for the plainness of his attire. After his removal by the Act of Uniformity, he preached in his own house. *1. Heywood often visited and assisted him. He died under a sentence of excommunication June 12, 1676, æt. 59, and was buried in his own garden, as was his wife after him."*2

Kirby was, after his fashion, a poet. Many specimens of his verses are still extant. An example or two may be given:-

"It yields joy now, and will do evermore,
To go to prison on my Master's score;
Whose honourable cause and pleasant face
Made me forget a prison was disgrace.
I never knew what Heaven was till I knew
The favours which in prison God does throw.
Prisons declare what pulpits are forbid,
And truth breaks out the more, the more 'tis hid.'


"Shall I recant, and wheel about and turn,
That I may say, un worthy right hand burn ?
Shall I deny my Lord, in hope that I
May go with Peter, and weep bitterly ?
Shall I, the fury of a man to shun,
Under the terror of Jehovah run ?
Shall I, when God says preach, and men say nay,
Take time to study whether to obey ?
Shall I, to feed a carcase that must die,
Nourish a worm to all eternity ?"

In 1672, Killice House, Flanshaw Lane, was licensed. A malt-house (I know not if this be the same) was about this time opened for worship at Alverthorpe. O. Heywood ministered there in the above year to many hundred hearers. He was preaching at the same place in 1674, when three bailiffs came in the morning, "and in the afternoon many profane persons from Wakefield, among whom was 'a wild young scholar, one Ratcliffe' (who must have been he who was afterwards the celebrated physician of that name), and who subsequently entertained his riotous companions with mimicry of Mr. Heywood's sermon, and the delivery of it."*3 The congregation at Alverthorpe had at first some divisions respecting the choice of a minister, but afterwards agreed, and forgot their differences.

Kirby died in 1677. After his death his widow, who survived him for twelve years, continued to hold the meetings at her house.

  • Rev. William Hawden, ejected from Broadsworth, was at a later period a preacher at Sherburn. On the landing of the Duke of Monmouth, he was sent as a prisoner to Hull and to York. But the matter was compromised. He was, probably, for some time preacher at Morley. During the latter years of his life he was blind. He died at Wakefield 1699, æt. 84 (Calamy says 88), and was buried at Morley.
  • 1672. Rev. PETER NAYLOR, an ejected minister, was pastor of the church at Alverthorpe. He had previously preached for Mr. Swift, at Peniston, during Mr. S.'s imprisonment. He ministered alternately at Alverthorpe and Pontefract. He died June 2, 1690, aet. 54.
  • During his ministry, Thomas Bradbury, whose father was a member of Mr. Naylor's church, came first into notice. "So tenacious was his memory at this early period, that he was employed by Mr. Naylor to report to him the state of public affairs, which he learned from a newspaper that was read aloud at a public-house in Wakefield."*4 He was sent to Jollie's Academy; went thence into the family of Mr. Whitaker, of Leeds, and became ultimately the eminent minister of New Court, Carey Street, London.
  • 1693. Rev. JOSHUA SAGAR, son of Rev. -- Sagar, Blackburn. He had been ordained in his father's chapel, but was at this time publicly recognised as pastor at Alverthorpe. He married Baptista,*5 daughter of Capt. Poole, Wakefield, cousin to the celebrated Matthew Poole, the commentator. She was sister to the wife of Lister, Topcliffe.

* Wicksteed.
*1 Kirby, in a letter to Thoresby, mentions a Mr. Edward Watkinson who, being in poor health and unable to attend worship, desired to have some minister like Elkanah Wales, who would take up his abode in his family. Wales preferred to live with his relations at Leeds.
*2 There was a Rev. Thos. Johnson, M.A., who resided at Painthorp, where he was born, and had an estate. He was for a time chaplain to Sir Edward Rhodes, and afterwards Vicar of Sherburn-in-Elmet, whence he was ejected, and where he remained ',teaching in private till the Oxford Act drove him to Wakefield. He preached at Bramham and Shadwell. After 1672, he went to Idle, and preached in the public chapel for about two years, no objection being made for a time, because he took nothing for his services, and rode over from Painthorp; but he was at length prohibited. He was a worthy man, though not a popular preacher. He received aid from the Stretton Fund.
*3 Hunter's Heywood, p. 260.
*4 Wilson's "Dissenting Churches," vol. iii. p. 504.
*5 A sister of this lady married Mr. Richard Milnes, of Wakefield. From this marriage descended R. S. Milnes, Esq , of Great Houghton and Frystone. He married Rachel Busk, who became sole heiress of the property of the Rich family. Lord Houghton is descended from this marriage.

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