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

Methodists & Methodism Washburn Valley – Castley to Norwood Bottom

By Stanley Merridew

The lower part of the valley was part of the Otley Circuit whose records are housed at Leeds Archives.


Isaac Atkinson is credited with starting Methodism in Castley around 1820, although a record of a chapel can only be gleaned from the name Chapel Hill Lane.  He was a tenant of Castley Hall farm and Castley Manor Farm.   I understand Chapel Hill Lane was diverted when the railway came, so possibly the chapel was pulled down at the time.  In 1851 the chapel census was signed by John Adamson.

From the Wesleyan Roll we can deduce the society was very active at this time judging by the number of names shown comprising the Dickinson, Hannam, Hutton, Mundell, Newby, Parker, Pickard & Rodgers families.


The village appears in the Keighley circuit records as early as 1760.  However, it is not until 1776 that the house of Joseph Mawson was licensed for preaching.  The applicants were Lee, Harrison, Brown, White and Rayner.    Later in 1799 the home of Robert Walker was licensed.  On this occasion the applicants were Potts, Brown, Stead, Richie and Armistead.  The chapel was erected in 1826.  The land was bought from John Stead and the cost was met by loans over many years from J Taylor of Weeton, W Clapham, T Renton and William Rodgers

At the time of the religious census in 1851 the steward was Joseph Kendall.   The following signed the Wesleyan Roll: Job Gill, Grace A Morrell, Joseph Kendall, Robert Kendall and several members of the Fearnside family who are shown as “of York, lately of Leathley.


The village is mentioned in the circuit records as early as 1785 although the chapel was not built until 1836, Licensed in the name of John Gill.  He appears in the Wesleyan Roll as “In memoriam – a faithful Methodist of the old school.”  Also listed is John Morrell, “In memoriam – One of the most earnest & devout Christians the Circuit has ever known,” plus Alfred Ingle and members of the Hutton & Wood families, including William Wood, shown as steward & leader.  The Religious census of 1851 was completed by Samuel Roundell.  The chapel records 1836 to 1975 are held at Leeds Archives.


There appears to be no record of a chapel at Lindley.  However, James Myers, “Eventide Review of Primitive Methodism in the Otley Circuit”, published 1920, mentions regular services held originally in the home of Rupert & Hannah Young at Lindley Wood and later in the farmhouse of the Davies family.


The hamlet appears in the early records but it was not until 1903 that a chapel was erected.   George & Ada Carver, James & Christopher Crabtree, William Dale & Mary Halliday appear in the Wesleyan Roll as of “Clifton.”   Mary Halliday is noted as having saved her guinea in threepenny bits.  Northallerton hold the marriage register for 1982-1983 only.

Norwood Bottom

The chapel opened on 1920 and is still in use today.  However the

Methodist cause was evident for many years previously.


 W F Seals, “Methodism in the Otley Circuit” 1974, mentions services held at the home of Mrs Davy from 1856.  This could be George & Jane Davy who were living at Brass Castle in 1851 but had moved to Leas Bank Hall by 1861.  By the turn of the century the Wesleyans were using the old banqueting hall at Norwood Hall, the home of the Smith and Shepherd families.

The Primitive Methodists held open air meetings at Sword Point in the middle of the nineteenth century and also at Bride Cross House above Dob Park Bridge. The Wesleyan Roll shows – Robert Smith of Norwood Bottom, “Steward, leader, upwards of 40 years ministers & local preachers have been welcomed in his house.   Norwood would be poor indeed without this family.”  Other members of his family are also listed along with Jesse & Ann Wall.


More From the Parish Chest

By Stanley Merridew

Before the introduction of the Poor Law in 1601 those falling on hard times relied on largely on charity.  Local charities were setup by benefactors and continued in some cases to the present day.  It is always worth checking if any records survive, although in my experience many give very little details of those receiving assistance.  The new act provided for the appointment of overseers in each township. 

Their duties included the collection of the Poor Rate and passing it on to those entitled to receive it. To minimalise the amount to be collected parishes restricted payments to those who were settled in the parish.  Entitlement was in varying forms: having previously paid the rate, being able to prove birth in the parish (which encouraged baptism), having completed an apprenticeship in the parish.  The rules did vary over a period of time.  It did mean that when a person became liable through sickness, unemployment, childbirth etc the parish officials were pretty quick to remove those not settled and attempt to return them to their place of settlement.

Bastardy Examinations:

Illigitimacy was an obvious target.  When a single woman without means of support became pregnant the Overseers would carry out a Bastardy Examination to ascertain the name of the father and place the responsibility of maintainence upon them.  An order would be passed to the Parish Constable to bring the named father before the Justices of the Peace to admit their liability.  Then a court order was raised to demand payment.

24 May 1755 Whereas Jane Smith daughter of John Smith of Guiseley fellmonger has lately been delivered of a female bastard in the township of Guiseley since baptised in the name of Isabella has become chargeable to the inhabitants thereof and whereas the said Jane Smith has charged Christopher Kirk the younger of Cookridge, yeoman with being the putative father of the said female bastard child and agreed to pay Jon Harrison and Matthew Craven (overseers) and their successors the sum of 1/- per week.

Guiseley Apprenticeship Indentures

Another method used to reduce the liability was to place illigitimate or pauper children in apprenticeships.  It gave the child an opportunity to learn a trade and gain settlement.  It also therefore transferred the liability from the parish to the master.   Sometimes the children would be placed with masters faraway from their home.  I can recall carrying out some research in Bedale  parish records.  Here the Overseers were sending pauper children to Hull.  In Blubberhouses the mill built an apprentice house to accomodate children from as far away as London to work in the mill.

Guiseley parish has a good collection of surviving indentures from 1741 to 1838:

date apprentice master Length
21 5 1741 Mary Gill John Harrison to age 21 or marriage
6 6 1741 John Chapman William Maude until age 24
9 6 1744 Martha Chapman Joshua Gibson until age 21
9 6 1744 Thomas Gill Joseph Whaley to age 24
1 3 1746 William Barret Henry Wickham until age 24
20 4 1758 Stephen Barrit William Squire until age 24
1 3 1763 James Brown Thomas Brown until age 24
9 1 1769 Grace Whalley John Blesard until age 21
4 10 1770 John Croft Abrahm Bailey until age 24
5 2 1782 James Roberts John Riley until age 21

Grace Whalley is shown as 8 years old at the time of the indenture!

I also found amongst the records :

28 Aug 1758 The complaint and information of John Yeadon of the township of Guiseley, Clothier taken upon oath before me Henry Wickham Clark one of his Majesties Justices of the Peace.  Who saith that on or about the 17th day of October past being a week before Old Michelmas day he hired Samuel Binns late of Baildon clothier from said time ………….. when the said Samuel Binns had served about 40 weeks he married by which marriage he is become less fit for this complainent’s service than when a single person.  Pray that the said Samuel Binns may be discharged from his service.  This was approved by the JP on the same day.

Settlement Examinations

The Overseers would have kept a watchful eye on any newcomers to the township in case they required subsistence.  Then a Settlement Examination would be carried out:

12 May 1741 The examination of George Birch of Guiseley, tailor.  He saith that he was born at Hebden in this Riding and that he was bound apprentice by indenture to Richard Overend of Rylston for seven years and stayed until the indenture expired.  Then he was hired to William Collison of Guiseley from Mayday until Martinmas following ….to have 20 pence a week and be at liberty of going away at weeksend.  Then at Martinmas he agreed with the said Collison for 2/- a week and to be back from his services at every weeksend and to receive his wages sometimes at weeksend and sometimes monthly and staid with the said Collison in that manner at Guiseley for 6 years but was then not hired by him or any other person for a year and since then has not done any act to gain a settlement.

When an individual’s settlement was finalised the parish or township would be asked to prove acceptance of the individual:

3 Feb 1729 to the Churchwardens & Overseers of Guiseley  –

We Abraham Smith and Richard Elgin churchwarden & Overseer of the township of Alwoodley do hereby certify that Ann Chambers widow is an inhabitant legally settled in the township of Alwoodley and whereas the said Ann Chambers is  desirous to dwell in the said  township  of  Guiseley for the better conveniency of living we do hereby promise to receive and provide for the said Ann Chambers   if ever she should become chargeable to the parish of Guiseley unless in the meantime she shall  gain a legal settlement there or elsewhere.

The poor woman had probably just buried her husband and was subjected to this scrutiny. 

Removal Orders

In some cases a Removal Order would be drawn up to transport the family back to their place of settlement:

Removal Order 20 Sept 1758

………….Samuel Binns and his wife came lately to inhabit in the township of Guiseley not having gained a legal settlement there nor produced a certificate owning to be settled elsewhere and that Samuel Binns and his wife are likely to be become chargeable to the township of Guiseley and that the last place of settlement of the said Samuel Binns and his wife is in the township of Morley.  We herefore request his removal from Guiseley to Morley signed by Henry Wickham and Thos Lee, Justices of the Peace.

As is apparent, Poor Law records can be very handy in locating those illusive forebears.  Many of those working as agricultural labourers or domestic servants would be employed on a twelve month verbal agreement, often at a Hiring Fair.  Therefore their burial or marriage can occur in a number of parishes.  Many of the Poor Law records have sadly not survived.  Within our cachement area probably Guiseley and Hubberholme have the best available records:

Guiseley at Morley (Leeds Archives)

 Apprenticeship indentures 1741-1838, bastardy papers 1755-1837, settlement papers 1703-1840.

Hubberholme Northallerton (North Yorkshire Record Office)

Records of poor law administration including apprenticeship indentures 1723-1801, settlement certificates 1720-1779, bastardy bonds 1761-1848.

When the New Poor Law came into effect from 1834 parishes were supposedly prevented from providing “Outdoor Relief” and all claiments were directed to Workhouses.  However, payments continued to be made in many areas.   It has been suggested that these payments came from local charities but it is often impossible to clarify if they were parish payments from the rates.  Alas few Workhouse Records are still in existence.  With the paucity of information in parish registers (baptised, married, buried), where they have survived Poor Law records can provide  wealth of information about our forebears¸ both for those administering the system and those on the receiving end.

Methodists & Methodism Upper Wharfedale

By Stanley Merridew

Methodists & Methodism Upper Wharfedale

By Stanley Merridew

Upper Wharfedale was originally part of the Haworth/ Keighley Circuit.  The earliest recording of Methodism in the area was at Skyrethorns in 1763.  This was followed by early societies forming in Burnsall, Grassington, Hebden & Skyreholme.  John Wesley preached in Grassington in 1780 and again in 1782.  No doubt this would have increased his followers in the dale.

As time progressed and the number of his followers increased, the size of the circuits reduced and in 1810 Grassington became the head of a Wesleyan Methodist Circuit stretching from Barden northwards, taking in Littondale and the hamlets beyond Buckden.

The Primitive Methodist sect were also active, opening chapels at Grassington in 1837, Hebden, Howgill & Threshfield.

The voluminous array of records for the Wesleyan Circuit is held at Bradford Archives but there is little documentation of the Primitive Methodist movement.

The Wesleyan Circuit Schedule Records for 1838 & 1841 show the following chapels and the number of members:

                                1838   1841                        1838  1841

Arncliffe 9 4 Linton 10 10
Barden 10 10 Litton 5 4
Buckden 9 20 Skirethorns 8 9
Burnsall 11 4 Skyreholme 8  
Conistone 9 10 Starbotten 3 3
Grassington 123 87 Thorpe 7 9
Hebden 18 30 Yockenthwaite 7 6
Kettlewell 32 49      

It would appear the opening of the Primitive Methodist Chapel had affected the numbers across the road at the Wesleyan Chapel.  Note also no figure is shown for Skyreholme in 1841.  Many of these meetings were at this early stage still held in homes or barns.  One surviving minute book lists subscribers to the building of Buckden new chapel in 1891 and Burnsall new chapel in 1901. 

From the circuit schedule books for 1907 it is possible to deduce the decline in the number of chapels:

September 1907

Grassington              W Foster                    4

T Foster                   14

Miss Foster               5

Mrs Powell             13

Minister                      6

Hebden                      W Johnson            15

Burnsall                     W Stockdale          11

Barden                       Mrs Croft                    3

Kettlewell                   Minister                      6

Buckden                    Minister                      5

Starbotton                  Minister                      2

Conistone                 W Ingleby                  6

Handily for family historians these show the names of the class leaders.  These records for the chapels continue to 1971.  Also available from a report in 1897 is a record of when the chapels were appointed:

Grassington 1810

Rock House Cottages 1878

Hebden 1877

Kettlewell 1835

Buckden 1892

Burnsall 1840

Barden Tower 1884

Starbotten 1860

Conistone 1885

Burnsall & Thorpe Overseers Records

Held at Northallerton Record Office

Rate books, sometimes referred to as Poor Rate books, detailing those who were paying the rate which was used at least in part to support the poor of the parish.  Here is an example:

Thorpe Rate Book 1869

Occupier Owner Description Situation
Rev Wm Bury himself tithe rent charge Thorpe
John Constantine Robt Proctor esq land & buildings Thorpe
Richd Constantine Robt Proctor esq House and garden Thorpe
Christopher Dean himself land  Colllin
Edward Green K Kitching esq land & buildings Thorpe
Stephen Herd himself land & buildings Thorpe
Stephen Herd Mr Horton land & buildings Cookram
Stephen Herd Mr Dawson land Pasture
Stephen Herd Mr Richd Hebden land Mickleflats
Anthony Hodgson Mr Hebden Hall House and garden Thorpe
Anthony Hodgson late Henry Featherstone Folly garden Thorpe
William Hodgson Rev J W Nowell land & buildings Essoe
W A Nowell Rev J W Nowell land & buildings Waddy
William Paley R Proctor esq land & buildings Langorton
Anthony Pinder late Sir E Tempest land Squire share
John Pinder R Proctor esq land & buildings Thorpe
Joseph Robinson Mr Thomas Lupton land & buildings Ings House
Joseph Robinson Linton poor land Poor grass
William Stockdale R Proctor esq land & buildings Thorpe
Bradley Simpson Mr Thomas Plets land Kay Cross
John Waite Mr Josias Atkinson land & buildings Thorpe

Signed by John Constantine & Stephen Herd, overseers and churchwardens.

The payments to individuals exempt from paying the rates are normally shown in the Overseers Accounts as it was the duty of the Overseers to collect the rate and distribute to the poor.  For example

Burnsall Overseers Accounts 1818/1819

Joseph Hudson house rent & turves £9-2-6
Ellen Knowles house rent & turves £9-17-4
Ann Hebdin house rent & turves £6-12-4
Hannah Kay house rent & coals £7-6-6
Margaret Knowles house rent £6-19-0
Henry Green Rent & trousers & clogs 18/4 £4-18-4
Dinah Verity house rent & coals £7-16
Nancy Pickover rent £4-17-6
Mary Nailor house rent & coals £7-16-0
Eliz Bumby house rent & coals £7-16-0

These records run from 1724 to 1869