Farnhill Primitive Methodists

By Stanley Merridew

Readers of both the Wharfedale and Keighley journals may recall my previous articles regarding the Primitive Methodist movement in both Addingham and Eastburn.  In both I referred to “Silsden Primitve Methodists” by WJ Robson published in 1910.  This gives a detailed history of the churches and chapels within the former Silsden Primitive Methodist Circuit.

Farnhill was also part of the Silsden Circuit with evidence of a chapel from the early part of the nineteenth century, although it may have spent sometime in the Keighley Circuit.  This is apparent from the Keighley PM Circuit Roll Book dated 1833 which shows the following as being members at Farnhill:

John Todd (leader), Mary Todd William & Rachel Law, Henry, Elizabeth¸ Ann, Martha, Hannah, Peter & Holdgate Green, Jane Dinsdale, Jane Wilson, Martha Hewett, James & Henry Harrison, George Laycock¸ Robert & Sarah Lightfoot, Ann, Margaret  & Isabella Wilson, Isaac & Mary Overend, Elizabeth Bannister, Jacob & Thomas Lilley, William, Margaret & Thomas Spencer,  Hannah Day, Judith Parkinson, John Hill, William Shuttleworth, Lambert Smith, John Sutton, Peter Pedley.

A later entry in the same book for 1839, shows the congregation considerably reduced:

John Todd, James Harrison, Judith Parkinson, Mary Overend, Jacob Lilley, William Spencer, Thomas Spencer, Edmund Tempest, Margaret Todd & Robert Townsend.

The reason for the downturn is not apparent but could have been due to a reduction in employment in the village.  These early services would, according to the 1851 Census of Religious Worship, taken place preaching room was erected in Starkey Lane about 1830.   (I understand this was next door to the Wesleyan Chapel.)  This was enlarged on a number of occasions before being replaced c1899 by the building shown below on Main Street, backing onto the Leeds/Liverpool Canal.  This was still in use until very recently.  However a planning application for conversion into apartments is currently under consideration.

According to WJ Robson the superintendents of the Sunday School up to 1910 had included John Hill, Isaac Overend, Smith Laycock, Heaton Mosley, John Green Mosley, Anthony Spencer, Robert Mosley and Jabez Birtwhistle.  He gives some biographical detail and photographs of those involved with the chapel for example:

John Todd, born at Lotherdale, died 2 May 1854

Judith (wife of the above) died 17 October 1829 aged 39

Matthew John Barron, local preacher, founder of the Sunday school at Farnhill, died aged 80, 23 December 1898 at the home of his daughter, Mrs Cooper of Ash Street, Crosshills.

Jacob Lilley, local preacher for 39 years.

West Yorkshire Archives at Bradford hold many records concerning Farnhill chapel.  The following may be of most help to family historians:

Seat Rents 1864-1957, Sunday School Record Books 1926-1941, Attendance Registers 1936-1971, Roll Books 1939-1945, Choir Attendance Register 1923-24

Rathmell Holy Trinity Church

Died WW1

Captain John GELDARD Royal Marine Light Infantry son of Christopher & Janet S Geldard died on Active Service 26th August 1918.

2nd Lieutenant Ernest PARSONS West Riding Regt died and buried Salonica 25th August aged 25 years.  Son of Richard & ML Parsons of Rathmell

Private Robert PARSONS 8th North Staffordshire Regt son of Robert & A Parsons died at Wineroux, France of wounds received in action 24th April 1918 aged 31 years ,interred at Boulogne.

2nd Lieutenant Gordon SANDERSON Indian Army only of son W Sanderson Killed in Action 13TH October 1915 aged 28 years.

Gunner Thomas SIMPSON RFA son of James & Ellen Simpson OF Sheepwash died from wounds in action in France 24th October 1917 aged 21 years.  Buried in the British Cemetery Dozingham.

Horsforth National School Logbook Extracts 1899

1st May 1899.  ……..In all seven children have been transferred to the Mixed Dept. on account of their age.  Arthur Maude on examination in addition sums and notation was fairly good.  Alfred Watson, Walter Wilson, Ernest Appleyard, Leonard Wright are found to be only poor while J Wm Bolton is very backward.  Ada Cooper is bright girl over seven years of age and was sent up because it seemed a shame to keep so promising a girl back.  With the exception of A Cooper the reading of these children was dreadfully bad……

Horsforth National School Logbook Extracts 1916

3rd April 1916 These children have been examined by me and I find the following much behind the rest of the class in attainments;  they have come directly from the 2nd class in the Infants School but owing to their age it has been thought advisable to promote them now:

Harry Hawkshaw, Hugh Roddam, Sam Stones, Chas. Houlden, Wm Conn, Jesse Gaunt, Marg. Croft, Phyllis Britton

Hannah Holmes has not been to school since before Christmas.  Florence Lawson has been absent from the Infants School for eight weeks.


Standard 1       Mrs M Grimshaw CA  52

Standard 2       Miss M Waller CA       44

Standard 3       Mrs AB Horner CA      43

Standard 4       Mrs HA Hancock UA   46

Standard 5       Mrs N Murgatroyd CA 47

Standard 6       Mrs Bertha Jordan CA 45

Standard 7       WN Smith H7              39                   

4th July Winifred Young away from school suffering with diphtheria.  Attendance has fallen considerably.  Twelve children are absent from StV.

Mavis Fowler away – diphtheria.  George, Annie, Margaret Naylor have left the school.  Harry Green away for school suffering with German measles.

14th July During the week attendance has fallen considerably.  Two children Clarence Longfellow and Irene Levitt, Dickinson Street have been excluded from school since Tuesday because there has been a case of diphtheria in the street.  The following children are away from school for the reason stated:

Emily Winterburn    diphtheria St4     

Harry Green    German measles   St4

Bertie Holland   chicken pox     St4      

Clifford Vicars diphtheria     St5

Kathleen Hixon      diphtheria       St5      

Mabel Ashby diphtheria      St5

Mavis Fowler     diphtheria       St5      

Winifred Young diphtheria         St5

Edgar Wade      doubtful           St1

Horsforth National School Logbook Extracts 1914-1915

21st May 1914. The following children have passed the written examination for County Minor Scholarships: Gordon HUTCHINSON, Albert JOHNSON, Joseph LEEMING, May BINIAS, Elsie HICKINSON, Nellie HENSON.  All the above six children are to attend Guiseley Secondary School to undergo examination in practical work.  The date for the oral examination is not yet fixed.

16th October 1914. The following children have all been absent from school suffering from the diseases named:

V11        Marjorie HIXON          Measles               absent since 24th Sept

V1           Dorothy REEVE          Heart trouble     absent since 1st October

V             John THORNTON     Scarlet Fever      absent since 16th October

V             Lucy HOLDSWORTH         Scarlet Fever      absent since 25th Sept

111         Kath HIXON                        Measles               absent since 24th Sept

11           Howard NAYLOR              Scarlet Fever      absent since 5th October

11           Flor. RHODES                     Scarlet Fever      absent since 16th October

1              Hy. MARSDEN                   Whooping Cough absent since 9th Sept

1              Mary KITCHING                Whooping Cough absent since 9th October

1              Hilda HICK                           Whooping Cough absent since 13th October

1st June 1915 On 13th February eleven children from this school sat the written part of the examination for County Minor Scholarships.  Notice has been received today that nine have passed this written examination and have been instructed at various times this week to attend Guiseley Secondary school for the Oral Examination.  The nine are:


Sam NEWTON and Eva HERBERT failed to satisfy the examiners.  The night previous to the examination Eva HERBERT injured her right hand very seriously.

30th August 1915 Three children Wm J HIXON, Herbert BUSFIELD, Kenneth WILLOUGHBY have been transferred too this department form the Infants School.  They appear to be three bright boys and are now quite fit for promotion.  Henry SODEN has been transferred from St3 to St4.

Fred GRIMSHAW, Kathleen HICKINSON and Hazel HARTLEY have been transferred from St1 to St2.

Also Admitted: Flor. BOLTON St5, Jim BELL St1, Margt. RHODES St3, Jos. PEAT St1, Amy DAVIES St1V, Eric RHODES St1.