Extracts from the Diary of the Rev. Robert Meeke (1874) - Diary Entries from 1689

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Extracts from the Diary of the Rev. Robert Meeke (1874) by Henry James Morehouse & Charles Augustus Hulbert


The first two leaves of the Diary are lost, so that the first entry now appears on the 21st May, 1689, when he records a visit to Clayton Bridge, near Manchester, to see his Mother; it is probable, however, that it was begun on the 1st of that month.

May 1869.

21st. — I stayed at home with my mother and sisters: in the afternoon walked into the fields.

22nd. — Mr. Leech came to dine with me. After dinner Cousin Heywood came to see me. I bless God for good company and the favour of friends.

25th. — Went again to Manchester, and bought me a gown of Mr. Chadwick.

26th. — Preached at Newton. Some friends came out of the town and dined at our house. Lord, I praise thee for thy assistance this day, and for strength afforded me in my work.

30th. — After dinner I went to Taunton, and so to Ashton; brother Ralph with me, and so to Tintwistle, where I found all well ― blessed be God.

31st. — After dinner I set forward towards Yorkshire, and came to Cousin A’s, in good time. I have now removed my quarters; my old landlord hath broken up his house, and I am at present at the Hill Top. Lord, I desire thy presence with me, wherever I be.

June 1869.

1st. — I went down this forenoon to the Water-side, my books being yet there, and other things. Lord, make me thankful for all mercies, at home and abroad, amongst relations, friends, strangers, and acquaintances; continue thy goodness unto me, O Lord, let everything work together for good, and do others good by me.

2nd. — I preached at home to-day. Lord make me thankful for thy help and assistance, and succeed my labours.

4th. — Stayed at home all forenoon, but after dinner went to see some friends ― my sister and Mr. Broome.[1]

5th. — Followed my study; but being desired to go baptize a child at Outlane, I was forced to break off my study.

6th. — I studied something this forenoon: but after dinner I went with my Sister[2] and Billy Meeke, to a woman having skill in Chirurgery: he hath a bruise in his right leg by the fall of a gate upon it; but blessed be God by means used it is much better and almost healed. Lord, have him in thy keeping: be a Father unto him, for he is without an earthly father. O Father give him grace to please Thee, and thou wilt take care of him.

7th. — Stayed at home all day, only went to the next neighbour to see a poor caitiff who hath lyen long in bed of a sore leg, which puts her in great pain. Lord pardon her sins, and pity her whilst she is here.

8th. — Stayed at home until noon: then went to Slackthwait[3] to bury a corpse, and after to baptize a child at Holthead.

11th. — Fetched my books from the Waterside and have now set them in a new closet. Lord be with me in all places; let me have thy blessing and I shall want nothing.

13th. — Went after dinner to bury a corpse at the chappell. Lord, put me in mind of death, and grant that that solemnity used at funerals may be used, not only formally and customarily, but sincerely and profitably.

17th. — Was busy preparing for a day of humiliation, appointed to be on Wednesday next.

19th. — There was a great congregation. I preached. Lord hear the prayers put up to Thee, this day, and succeed thy word.

21st. — I stayed at home and studied all forenoon; after dinner went to meet Mr. Broome, at Slaithwaite, and to see Mr. Remington;[4] stayed too long, Lord pardon my sins ― misspense of time, &c.

22nd. — Arose this morning sooner than I would, being desired to certify that W.Q. took such an oath about burying in woollen as the law requires.[5]

23rd. — Preached at home. Read a brief for Irish protestants; and began to catechise in a longer catechisme.

27th. — Went to Halifax and bought Billy Meeke some new clothes. I praise God that I am rather helpful than needful.

29th. — To-day also was much what spent in study. Lord pardon my inclination to sins, and my readiness to fire with every spark of temptation.

July 1869.

1st. — Studied none to-day,-was busy ordering my books in my closet all forenoon. After dinner, I went to meet some friends at my brother Brooksbanks.

2nd. — About ten o’clock, began to study, and stayed at home. I am afraid I gave some occasion to a friend to-day to think worse of me than I deserved; my countenance I preceived, plainly, to change when we were in discourse about some things; but whether any notice was taken, I know not. I am sure I was no way guilty of such things as were mentioned, God is my witness; though for other faults I deserve to bear blame and shame, but if my heart deceive me not, I am heartily sorrowful, and I hope the Lord will pardon me, through Christ.

4th. — Went to Huddersfield, preached at the funeral of one John Haigh, from Eccl. viii. Stayed all night at Mr. Clarke’s.[6]

8th. — I went this morning towards Lancashire, and took Billy Meeke with me. We called at cousin Heywood’s; and riding through the gate Billy knocked his head against the top. Blessed be God he was not more hurt, it might have endangered his life; but the eyes of the Lord are over all his works.

11th. — Returned to Yorkshire; came home in health. Blessed be God. But being come home it pleased God to bring me under some trouble, which I must confess I have brought on myself, through my own vanity and folly. The Lord forgive my sins, and remove this present affliction from me if it be thy will; sanctify it unto me in the meantime. Lord, I hope it hath already done me good.

12th. — I studied none, there being a workman here making me a casement and mending other windows for my landlord. O what temporal mercies do I enjoy. Lord give me grace to improve them; but let not temporalls be my portion; grant me also, I beseech thee, an interest in better treasures.

15th. — Stayed at home all day; read and studied until middle of the afternoon, and then walked out. Began to prepare for Sunday, choosing a new text, and looking some commentators upon it. O Lord, many are thy mercies, but yet for my sins thou art pleased to correct me, and to bring me under such a trouble as I never was before. Lord, thou art just and wise. O that I could walk suitably under thy providences.

17th. — I studied some little this forenoon, but being invited I went to dine at Mr. Broome’s, with a gentleman coming thither.

18th. — This morning went to Leeds. The general Sessions being holden there, and all clergymen met to take the oath of allegiance to king William and queen Mary. Many appeared.

19th. — Lay all night at the sign of the George, at Mr. Croft’s, and blessed be God arose in health. This forenoon, I and some other neighbouring ministers went into the court, and before the Justices of Peace there, we took the oath of allegiance and subscribed a declaration against transubstantiation. Lord grant that our ministers may be unanimous in the things which be good, and O that God would be pleased to take away all occasions of difference!

23rd. — Fell to my studies, but Lord thou knowest my sinful heart. Lord pardon my sins.

25th. — To-day is our doings[7] at Slaithwaite. Some friends came to our house and I studied little.

27th. — Kept at home again till noon; then some friends came to a neighbour’s house, I was invited to dinner. Sat with [company] all afternoon, and was persuaded to go down with them to Slaithwaite. Stayed too long. I should have been about other work: but, Lord, how easily do temptations prevail!

28th. — There was to-day as great a congregation as I have seen, but I am afraid that many came more to see than hear, more for pleasure and curiosity than anything else: but, Lord, if thou be pleased to do them good by my labours, how much shall I be engaged to thankfulness; blessed be thy name. Thou didst help me in my work especially this afternoon, above my deserts.

August 1869.

4th. — Preached to-day. There were many strangers at the chapel who came to fetch Mrs. S.D. unto her husband’s house.

5th. — Blessed be God, I rose: in health this morning. Stayed at home all day but studied little. My heart, O Lord, is still impure. O create in me a humble and contrite ― a holy and clean heart; let not sin reign lest it bring my ruin. O Lord, by thy providence about me I am convinced that thou art omniscient, omnipresent, pure and holy, but merciful, pardoning iniquity, transgression and sin.

6th. — It is very seasonable weather, though there be not much hay this year; yet it is very good, well got, and most [people] have got all housed. Lord, continue thy loving kindness unto the children of men.

7th. — Sir John Kaye came to Slaithwaite, with whom I dined.

11th. — Went to Huddersfield. Preached for Mr. Clarke. There were many soldiers in the town quartered, and many at church in the forenoon.

24th. — I was invited this morning to dine at Yeoman Taylor’s, of Meltham.

September 1869.

1st. — Preached at Honley, it being a rainy, windy day, there were few at the chapell, but bless God he afforded me his help.

5th. — I heard this morning that a great scandal is cast upon me, many talk of it. I do protest I am innocent, and nothing deserving such a report. Lord, in thy own time cause it to vanish, lest it be a prejudice to my ministry. I confess I have deserved shame and greater punishment. The Lord pardon them.

8th. — It was a rainy day, not many at the chapell in the forenoon, but blessed be God I received strength and assistance for my work. Lord grant also success: for Paul may plant and Apollos water, but thou only maketh fruitful.

9th. — I published[8] an Almanack for Mr. Wilkinson, which I promised him a good while ago. Went to Huddersfield, called at Greenhead and gave him the Almanack, teaching him how to use it.

11th. — I was busy looking at the perspective glass which I received yesterday, and paid 10s. for. Blessed be God. I have not much money to spare; many poor persons want to buy bread, but I have to buy delights. Lord, I hope moderately. Set my mind on such things, so that they be unto me rather helps than hinderances in my general and particular calling.

15th. — I published [preached] what I had prepared. I bless God who helpeth me, and I thought I was more plain and profitable in the afternoon than in the forenoon. Lord, grant me the tongue of the learned and the door of utterance for thy people.

16th. — After dinner went to see old Sarah Mellalew, who is very weak.

17th. — Went to Huddersfield with an intent to get the Vicar’s hand to a certificate, and from thence to Honley, to desire the same from the Vicar of Almondbury. There was a race there. I rode with them amongst the crowd looking for Mr. Philipson, but found him not. Afterwards I found him, and he granted my request. There was multitudes. O how fond is the generality of men to see such vanities! More prone to meet on such occasions, than for spiritual things.

20th. — This morning set forward towards York, went through Dewsbury, called at the Vicar’s house to desire his hand to a certificate, he did so. Came to Leeds about 12 [o’clock], dined there and thence to Tadcaster, where I lodged at Mrs. Hartley’s house.

21st. — Arose in health ― blessed be God ― and went to York. Kirst got some refreshment, and so to Bishopthorpe. I was afraid I had been too late, it being almost 11 [o’clock], but I came in good time before the examination was over. Went to the Archbishop[9] who examined me in the Greek Testament, and his chaplain, Dr. Palmer, in divinity. Afterwards we dined with his grace, and then I went back to York, it being a rainy afternoon.

22nd. — Went to the Minster, Mr. Burton preached from these words “Feed my lambs,” which he applied to catechising, and pressed the necessity of it. After sermon there were 22 ordained, some deacons and some priests. I thought the Archbishop was very solemn and serious in the office of ordination. Lord, hear the prayers of the church for us, and give us grace to mind the duties we were told of. After ordination we received the Sacrament. In the afternoon went to another church, the minister preached from these words, “Nevertheless, I have something against thee, because thou hast lost thy first love.” After sermon a friend called on me and I went again to Bishopthorpe, and through some acquaintance with the secretary, we procured our instruments to-night, and returned back to York.

23rd. — Arose in health, went into the town [city], visited some friends, came away, called at Tadcaster, and then went to Leeds, stayed all night.

24th. — This morning set towards home. Mr. W. being with me. I called at his house, dined there; after dinner went to an alehouse, stayed some time and then forward home.

25th. — Arose in good health, through God’s mercy, and wrote these last days’ diary.

October 1869.

4th. — One came for me to go visit Ab. Br., whom I found very ill, prayed with him, and afterwards he was much better and cheerful. This morning one came to me and told me something what persons say of me, and that many are afraid I should be concerned with one who is not suitable for me. O Lord, I beseech thee put a stop to that discourse, and those thoughts among my friends. Thou knowest my heart, that I never designed such a thing, neither have I given occasion for such suspicion. I confess my sins and vanities may have brought this evil report upon me justly, but what persons surmise in untrue and unjustly reported. O Lord, I beseech thee take off this scandal, and give me wisdom and grace to walk circumspectly, as much as in me lieth.

7th. — Read this forenoon and until three in the afternoon, then, being invited, I went with Cousin Æn. and his wife unto the Crimble, we stayed too late. How prone am I to comply to the vain courses of this world. Wrote a letter to my mother’s tenant in her name and my own name also, he being slow in paying the rent. This afternoon there came some friends and neighbours hither to take leave of us, one being about to be married, and to remove far from hence; she is one for whom I have more than an ordinary kindness; I heartily desire her welfare ― Lord, grant it.

12th. — Bro. Brooksbank who desired me to go down to Slaithwaite, for his mother designed to be married to-day. I went and met her and her intended husband in the chapell, and married them. Some speak well and some very ill of him; what he is, I know not, but desire he may prove well both for her and her children’s sake.

14th. — I went to Meltham, dined at Yeoman Armitage’s[10]; Dame Shaw and her sister Mortimer being with me. I had thought to have met my Uncle Hyde, but he came not. I believe the extreme wetness of the weather prevented him.

17th. — I married Mr. Dewhurst and Mrs. Susan Dyson, she was one whom many thought I would have applied myself unto, but they were mistaken. I must confess I could have liked her well for a wife, if I had been resolved to change my condition, I should have chosen such a one sooner than another, but as yet I am unresolved to marry. Lord thy will be done.

21st. — I went to Mr. Ramsbothom’s[11] to dinner; his daughter being baptized, for whom I stood as a witness and sponsor, being requested by the father. This is the first that I am engaged for. Lord, grant the child may have thy grace renewing and regenerating, so that the benefits of baptism may be confirmed.

28th. — Arose betime this morning, went with my landlord to course, put up a hare, the dog ran a long way, but lost her at last. I have not seen a coursing before, this many years. Lord grant that I may rightly use and not abuse lawful liberty. Some question whether hunting or coursing be lawful, but I am satisfied in this, that thou, O Lord, hast given all creatures for man’s use, some for food, and some for other services. These wilder creatures for food could not be taken if it were not by the means of stronger and swifter and tamer creatures which thou affordest us to pursue them, and therefore it is lawful for one creature to destroy another for man’s use. We ought not to take too much pleasure in this enmity that there is betwixt them, for I believe that sin brought it, and hath made the whole creation to groan; but we may take some delight in seeking after such things as God affords us, for if man had not sinned, I am prone to believe there would yet have been some creatures for food, which man must have been forced to pursue with others as he doth. It is true he would have had a greater dominion over the creatures than now, by far, but not so great as to command the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field to come at his pleasure. As man in innocency was to dig the garden, in order to its fruit-bearing, so no doubt he might have used other means for the obtaining other food.

November 1869.

2nd. — I began to prepare a sermon for Tuesday next (5th) being the thanksgiving for the discovery of the Powder Plot. Lord help me in all preparations and succeed my labours.

6th. — After dinner went to see Abraham Broadbent, one of my collectors, who taketh much pains for me, and yet many pay him badly. Lord, grant me, and continue to me a comfortable sufficiency and I am content. Bless God for what I have, which is more than I deserve, and yet not so much as my due according to ancient custom. I have more than I improve, and yet the Lord is pleased to afford it to me. O what am I bound to return!

11th. — This morning went towards Lancashire, found some friends in Ashton, which caused me to stay longer than I intended, so that I went with Cousin Smith to his house and lay all night.

12th. — Rose in health, blessed be God, and went home; found my mother and the family well.

13th. — This forenoon uncle Hyde came to see my mother. He dined with us. After dinner I returned towards Yorkshire, and came home about 5 o’clock, it being moonlight.

20th. — I went to Lassells Hall, found not Mr. R[ichardson][12] at home, and therefore stayed all night.

21st. — This morning I went with Mr. R. to some persons who had a piece of land to be sold, he bought it, and I drew up a bond for performance of agreement. After dinner returned home, and Mr. R. came back with me to Huddersfield.

23rd. — About 2 o’clock I went with a friend to Stoney bank, near Holmfirth, and lay all night there, found an old acquaintance who was come to preach at Lydgate, a place licenced for private meeting: he and I lay together, blessed be God.

24th. — Arose in health in the morning. I went towards Holmfirth and he to Lydgate, Lord, in thine own time take away all differences amongst thy people, and grant that we may be willing to meet in one place and join in one way of worship.[13]

25th. — It rained very much, which prevented my returning back. After dinner I went to Hollingreave, and stayed until supper, then returned to my former quarters.

26th. — This morning it rained, but being resolved to return I prepared, about 11 o’clock, set forwards and proved fair all the way home. The Lord be praised for all his mercies at home and abroad.

30th. — About 10 o’clock one came with a letter desiring me to exchange with Mr. Philipson,[14] of Almondbury; I was at first in a study what to do, at last I promised. Lord fit me for to-morrow’s work, and grant me thy assistance, both in my outward and inward man, for I have far to go in the morning.

December 1869.

1st. — I went to Almondbury this morning, and came thither about 9 o’clock, began speedily after. Preached from I. Cor. xi, 20, it being a Sacrament day. After sermon, I administered. There were not many or else I should have been very much wearied. Blessed be God, who helped me both in body and spirit.

5th. — Stayed at home until night, then walked out to see Mr. Remington, who was come to receive rents.

10th. — Went to visit Mr. Broome, and dressed his clock. I have some skill in tempering clocks, I wish I had wisdom to redeem time.

17th. — It is very pleasant weather. This winter hay is very scarce, and it pleaseth God to grant very moderate weather, so that cattle are much help without.

23rd. — About three o’clock walked out to refresh me. Long and close study doth much weaken, having tender eyes. No quick invention, nor sharp wit, but an infirm body,[15] and yet, blessed be God, who in some measure fits me for my work.

28th. — I went to see Abraham Broadbent, who continueth very weak; baptized a child, new born, and buried a corpse. So, in this world, one generation cometh, another goeth, and these that continue a while are full of trouble.

31st. — I am this day three and thirty years of age. It is high time to wake out of sleep. If I should live to the age of man, almost the half of my day is gone: it is within a little of noon, and, therefore, time to work, but seeing I cannot promise to myself a minute of life, how diligent should I be in preparing for death. Lord grant me that wisdom.


[1] The Rev. Randall Broome was Incumbent of Meltham. He resided at Linthwaite Hall. There was then probably no convenient house at liberty at Meltham for a married clergyman. Mr. Broome was a native of Cheshire, and was appointed to Meltham in 1684. He died 17th December, 1705, in the 63rd year of his age, and was interred at Meltham, where a stone records his memory.

[2] This was his sister-in-law, the widow of the Rev. William Meeke, his deceased brother and predecessor at Slaithwaite, who died in 1684 (he was B.A. of St. Mary’s Hall, Oxford, October 30th, 1677), leaving an only child, whom he called “Billy Meeke,” and for whom he was guardian. She married again, a person named Brooksbank, whom he calls “brother.”

[3] What were Mr. Meeke’s views respecting the origin of the name of Slaithwaite, or “Slackthwait,” as written by him, it is not material here to enquire. In future, in the spelling of names of places, the editor will adopt the now generally received mode, although in some instances there may still be a difference of opinion as to their correctness.

[4] Mr. James Remington was steward to Sir John Kaye, of Woodsome, Bart., and died in 1697. This person, of whom it is related that “he was no unjust steward to his master,” was, however, “a decided friend to the tenantry.” His name has, notwithstanding been aspersed by the ignorant and superstitious in an extraordinary degree. Various are the stories of his ghost having haunted Woodsome; and of the dark closet he occupied in that ancient hall, which is still known as “Remington’s room.”

[5] In 1666 and 1678, acts were passed requiring that none should be buried except in woollen, under a penalty of £5.

[6] Vicar of Huddersfield.

[7] The village feast, still kept on the Sunday next after St. James’ day, July 25th, old style.

[8] What is here intended to be conveyed is not very clear, that he printed an Almanack is very doubtful. On the 15th of the month he records that he published what he had prepared, meaning that he preached, thus giving it publicity. Most likely it was a M.S. in Roman characters, printed with the pen, often so used by schoolmasters.

[9] This was John Sharp, D.D., who had recently been elevated to that see.

[10] This was Mr. John Armitage, of Thickhollins, where his family had been residents several generations. He died in 1700, and was buried at Meltham Chapel.

[11] The Rev. William Ramsbothom, curate of Honley.

[12] The Rev. Christopher Richardson, M.A., who had been ejected from the rectory of Kirkheaton, in 1662, by the Act of Uniformity; after which he resided for many years at Lassells Hall, in that parish. He subsequently became minister of a Presbyterian congregation at Toxteth Park, near Liverpool, where he died in 1698.

[13] This was at the house of George Morehouse of Stoney Bank, the editor’s ancestor, where he was not an unfrequent, and always without doubt, a welcome guest. After the lapse of nearly two hundred years, it is gratifying to the editor to discover an intimate friendship between these good men. Mr. Meeke’s record here is so pleasing and unaffected, and displays so much christian charity and good-will, that we feel charmed and instructed by his christian example. It is also a gratifying coincidence that a successor of the one, and a descendant of the other are thus associated in this publication.

George Morehouse had been brought up with a decided attachment to the Established Church, and the change which took place in his views was not made without a painful struggle, and involved great sacrifices. But participating in the deep anxiety and dissatisfaction with which many of the more intelligent laity regarded the conduct of many of the Bishops and clergy, in upholding arbitrary power, and enforcing upon the people the “divine right of kings,” and the duty of “passive obedience,” together with other Romish teachings, during the last years of Charles the Second’s reign, and in that of his successor James the Second, whose intention to supplant the Anglican by the Romish church, was but too apparent; he was led to forsake its public services, which had in consequence become distasteful to him; and to associate himself with those religious teachers with whose efforts for resisting the encroachments of the most dogmatic and intolerant of all churches, he cordially sympathised. George Morehouse died 24th May, 1726, aged 78 years.

Although the Presbyterians were then under the ban of the law, they were not unobservant of the times, nor were they silent as to the intentions of the King. When the history of Presbyterian Dissent, is closely examined, it is evident that it was not the question of Episcopacy, which caused so large a number of the gentry and yeomanry to join its ranks; nor was it from any preference they entertained for the Presbyterian form of church government, over a moderate Episcopacy. Many of those who seceded from the Episcopal Church, manifested their attachment to it, by an occasional conformity. A remarkable change had, however, taken place between the Presbyteranism of the reign of James the Second, and that of the Long Parliament, in church discipline, as well as in the toleration they accorded to other protestant sects.

[14] The Rev. Carus Philipson, M.A., was appointed vicar of Almondbury in 1682, on the death of the Rev. John Robinson. He was a younger son of John Philipson, Esq., of Calgarth, in the County of Westmoreland (on the banks of Windermere), by Dorothea, his wife, daughter of Christopher Crackenthorpe, Esq., of Newbiggen, in the same County. Calgarth is stated to have been “a fine old building,” and was long the residence of the Philipsons, “an ancient family.” Near the end of the last century this estate was purchased by the celebrated Dr. Richard Watson, Bishop of Llandaff, where he built a handsome mansion, and greatly improved the estate. Here he took up his residence, which he designated Calgarth Park, where he remained till his death.

Mr. Philipson, shortly after his settlement at Almondbury, married Dorothea, the daughter of Mr. Joseph Haigh, of Netherton, in his parish, by whom he had issue. He died and was interred at Almondbury, January 3rd, 1705-6. His widow survived him many years, dying May 24th, 1740.

His will was made 22nd of August, 1703, and proved at York; by which he devised ― “My freehold estate at Almondbury to John Philipson, my son and heir, when he is twenty one; and after the decease of his mother, my freehold estate in Honley, my copyhold estate in Almondbury, except the tenement at Broken-crosse, I give unto him my globes and all my glasses, quadrants and mathematical instruments, and all my bookes in my library, except only such as his mother and sisters shall desire to make use of for their own private devotions, physick, and cookery, which I give them. I give him my great silver tankard and my great silver tumbler, which have my coat of armes engraved on them; desiring him as he tenders the welfare either of his soul or body, to behave himself piously towards God, dutifully to his mother, kindly to his sisters, and that hee bee carefull and live warily, prudently and honestly in this wicked world. To my daughter, Mary Philipson, one hundred markes out of my freehold estate at Almondbury, when twenty one. The same to my daughter, Dorothy Philipson. To the poor of Almondbury five pounds, to be added to the poor stock left by Mr. Robert Nettleton.

[15] He seems to have been of a delicate constitution, which necessitated much care and self-denial. Notwithstanding we find he occasionally suffered from bilious attacks, which drew from him expressions of self-abasement, forcibly reminding us of his Puritan origin.

Extracts from the Diary of the Rev. Robert Meeke (1874) - Diary Entries from 1689


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