Extracts from the Diary of the Rev. Robert Meeke (1874) by Henry James Morehouse & Charles Augustus Hulbert
30th. — I preached though there were not many. Lord pardon all our backwardness to duty. It was a very warm day, and now looks sometimes like spring. Lord make us thankful for all mercies.
3rd. — About 10 o’clock there came a neighbour to desire me to go to his house, to meet our vicar. I went and met him and some other friends, who were come to the marriage of Mr. Clarke’s daughter. We went to the chapell, Mr. Clarke himself joined in marriage his daughter and Mr. Empson. From the chapell we went to Huddersfield; dined there. Stayed at the vicarage all night.
5th. — Read in the forenoon a new piece in defence of the Oath of Allegiance to K.W. and Q.M. [King William and Queen Mary.] Lord direct the hearts of the people of these nations to that thing which is right. Establish truth and peace amongst us.
6th. — About 5 o’clock there came a man with two letters, to desire me to go and preach at Penistone, (their minister being dead) for they desire I should be their vicar. I promised to preach, but as for residing with them, I would consider on it. Lord direct me! I have no inclination at present to remove.
9th. — Preached and published what I had prepared. Lord succeed my labours; without thee I can do nothing; fit me for Every work I am called unto.
12th. — I had a tailor to mend my clothes. I wish I were as careful to mind what is amiss in my life as in my habits.
14th. — This morning I went towards Bullhouse. At Holmfirth, met a man who came to guide me over the moors. About 4 o’clock came to Bullhouse, a place where I never was before.
15th. — Stayed all day at home discoursing with Mr. Riche and some other company, who were earnest with me to be their minister. I gave some reasons against their request, but they seemed unsatisfied and still urged me.
16th. — Preached at Penistone, from John iii, 5. At night some desired me to baptize a child, which I did. At noon, dined at Waterhall: returned back to Bullhouse.
17th. — Blessed be God, arose in health and stayed until after dinner, then a man guided me towards Holmfirth again. Stayed there awhile, and returned home.
19th. — Arose about two o’clock this morning and went with Mr. Broome towards York. About 10 we came to Leeds, and refreshed ourselves, and then to Tadcaster: about 5 came to York.
20th. — Blessed be God, arose in some good measure of health, tho’ I was something wearied; about 9 we went into the Castle Yard, to shout for the Knights of the Shire, viz.:― Lord Fairfax and Sir John Kaye. They were both chosen, none opposed them. About 11 returned back, called at Tadcaster and then to Leeds.
21st. — Arose in health again, praised be God, tho’ yesternight, through company, I stayed too late up: about 11 we came out of Leeds and went to Brighouse, where we called, and then homewards.
23rd. — I preached at home. In the afternoon, I gave notice that I intended to administer the Sacrament the next Sunday. Some think it will put the town to much charge, and were against it; Lord make us better christians, and teach us our duty: but alas, we love this world better than heaven, our bodies better than our souls. ‘The Lord forgive us, and form our hearts anew.
25th. — Sent a letter to Mr. Riche, in answer to their request about my going to Penistone; I gave a negative, being at present well settled. Lord give me grace to mind my duty here, and I hope thou wilt bless me in my labours here, as well as elsewhere.
5th. — After dinner went to a friend to whom I had lent some money: but the cloth market being so bad, he could not sell, and therefore paid me but part of what he should. Lord grant us an established peace, that persons may reap more fruit of their labours: at present it is a hard and difficult time for poor labouring men.
11th. — I went to visit some sick persons: prayed with them and ‘for them, and advised them to be mindful of their duties and death; but how unmindful am I of these things. God be merciful unto me; for where thou giveth much thou expecteth much; but alas! little do I for thine honour and mine own happiness.
16th. — Arose betime this morning, and being desired by Mr. Broome, I went to Honley, and preached there, from John iii, 5; and Mr. Broome preached here in my stead. At night there came unto me a man desiring me to go and baptize his child, being weak, I I did ‘so, and rode from Honley to Botham Hall, where he liveth, and then home, but it was late.
24th. — Arose in health, blessed be God, prepared for a journey into Lancashire, about 10 o’clock set forth with sister Brooksbank, and when we came to Clayton Bridge, found my mother from home, but at last they came.
29th. — Returned homewards, brother Ralph came with us to the Brook Botham, where we parted.
31st. — This morning there came one to make affidavit that Sam. Sykes was buried in woollen, he was not long since married : had designed to keep house at May-day. Now the Lord hath cut him off. He was married by me privately, without the consent of his wife’s father, though I thought her father had known something, though it seems he did not, and now it hath pleased God to chastize the daughter for too much slighting her father. Lord, teach me to take notice of all thy providences, and to learn something by them.
7th. — It is now very pleasant weather, and a forward hopeful spring; the Lord be praised, for many want hay extremely.
8th. — Lord, thou art pleased to manifest thy displeasure towards me, and again bring me under sorrow of heart, and trouble of mind. Thou hast formerly heard my prayers and removed the like trouble, and granted me some favour; but I grew wanton and forgot my duty, and thy loving kindness, and returned again unto folly. O Lord, I humbly beseech thee, pity me. Spare me once more ― hear me ―restore unto me peace, and joy and comfort. Sanctify thy hand and humble me, and do me good by all thy providences about me and others; more especially about with whom I am concerned upon any account.
9th. — Mr. Clarke came to-day to administer the sacrament at this chapell, and to gather his reckonings, according to custom. He preached, and I helped to administer.
10th. — Being desired, I went to draw up an inventory of W. Quarmby’s goods, ― being deceased. Lord fit me for my end, and grant that I may be neither worldly nor wasteful; but give me wisdom to manage what yearly I receive, that I may both use it comfortably, and also spare something for necessary expenses after my death.
13th. — Preached, by God’s assistance. Read a proclamation for a fast, in the forenoon, and the King’s letter to the Bishops.
14th. — Went to the funeral of Sarah, wife of James Shaw, of Birches. Mr. Clarke preached. Lord put us in mind of death.
4th. — Preached at home. I received a letter to invite me to the funeral of Cousin Ann Hyde, of Denton. It was sudden news to me. After sermon, in the afternoon, I went to the Brook-bothom. Stayed all night. Was much wearied, but blessed be God, in good health.
5th. — Arose in health and went to Denton. About 4 o’clock, Cousin Ann was buried. Mr. Hyde preached. A great number of people were there.
8th. — This morning returned homewards; called at Brook-bothom. Lord sanctify this breach. Fit me for death!
28th. — Being invited, I went with my Cousin Elizabeth Bottomley to Stoney Bank, to dine at George Morehouse’s; was there about 12. After dinner sat with company, and discoursed of this and that, with company. O Lord, make me always to set a watch before the door of my lips. About 6 o’clock returned home.
18th. — It being the fast I preached at Slaithwaite, and after dinner went to see Mr. Richardson, who was come to Brother Brooksbank’s. Stayed all night there.
28th. — About 12 o ‘clock went towards Tintwistle, and found friends well.
29th. — Preached at Motteram, from Rev. iii 20. There was a small congregation in the forenoon, but more in the afternoon.
30th. — Stayed at Tintwistle all night. Went to see Mrs. Kinsey, where I saw two children in one cradle, which she had at one birth. Their maintenance is but small. Lord provide for them. Marriage is honourable and comfortable, but many cares and straits attend it.
4th. — About noon returned towards Yorkshire, and brought Billy Meeke to his father Brooksbank’s.
25th. — Some friends came this morning, it being our rushbearing. I went not out of the house.
3rd. — Preached at Slaithwaite. Our chapel had been very ill-used with rain; for there was, last week a great flood, which ran into the chapell.
6th. — To-day many people went to meet Sir John Kaye’s son, who being lately married, brought his wife to Woodsome. I went with Mr. Broome and my landlord. Called at Woodsome, met with more company; with whom we went to one Holden’s, on Wooley Edge. Stayed awhile, then went further to Staincross Moor, where we met all the company, and then returned with them to Woodsome. Stayed little there, but came to Almondbury; called at Mr. Gibson’s, and so home. There were a many horses. Lord make me thankful that I came home safe, not hurt any way.
13th. — The latter end of our corn was cut down to-day, and some friends were invited to supper, as the custom is. Blessed be: God for seed-time and harvest, for peace and plenty.
15th. — This forenoon, about 10 [o’clock], I went with Mr. Broome to Deanhead, it being their rushbearing. Mr. Ashton preached, from Ecel. x11. 1., a good and learned sermon. O set it home on the hearts of young persons for their good.
26th. — Stayed at home, it was a rainy day. Much corn is housed, and for such, rain is seasonable and acceptable. Others have some out of doors; such think rain cometh too soon. God’s providences, though wise, yet never please all.
28th. — Went to Royd House, to baptize a child of Wm. Quarmby’s, and from thence to Lassells Hall. Stayed all night.
29th. — This morning Mr. Richardson and his wife came with me hither. Dined here, and returned home in the afternoon. To-day we had a second rushbearing, because the water had been in the chapell.
9th. — Sister Margaret went home; I went with her. It was a wet day, but blessed be God I got no cold.
11th. — After dinner went to Manchester to see the Dean of Chester.
13th. — Returned towards Yorkshire.
23rd. — This morning I went with some [friends] to course a hare. We found one, but the dogs never saw her. I was very much wearied. That which to some is a pleasure is a toil to me, habet sua quemque voluptas. No pleasure in this world doth please all, and therefore there is no true happiness to be found.
25th — This morning I had a symptom of a disease I had heard of, but was never acquainted with. O my God, who art the most skillful physician, prevent, I beseech thee, the growth of the malady. Sanctify thy rod and every stroke, though never so gentle; and I humbly beg that my sins may not be punished deservedly, lest my estate be miserable. Lord correct me; but in mercy, and with tender pity, and gentle compassion, for my Saviour’s sake. Amen.
7th. — It being our court day, stayed with Mr. Brooke, the steward, and then with the jury.
10th. — This morning there came a man to me desiring me to write a letter to the Lord Savile, Marquiss of Halifax. I seldom write to such honour able persons. I know not how to court or address the great ones of this world: however, when he had acquainted me with his business, I composed a letter, as I could. Lord, teach me how to make my address to thee, who art the Lord of Lords, from whom all profit and preferment cometh.
14th. — Stayed at home and studied all forenoon. After dinner walked out to see my Brother and Sister Brooksbank. At night my landlord brought me a new saddle which cost 13s. 6d.
30th. — I went to day to gather in some chapell wages. In one part of my chapelry, received some more than I did think I should, but far short of what was owing. Lord make me thankful for, and wise to improve what I have; and I trust thou wilt provide what is wanting.
5th. — I read the form of thanksgiving newly appointed for this day, and though there was but a slender congregation, yet I preached from 2 Sam. vii. 14.
6th. — Yesterday and to-day have been like summer days, and they are the more pleasant because they immediately follow such rainy, stormy weather.
11th. — This morning set towards Lancashire, came to my mother’s about 3 o’clock ― found all well.
14th. — After dinner, went to Denton; found relations well. Stayed all night.
15th. — Arose in health, but most of the family were up before me. They rise early, and have morning prayers before seven.
16th. — Preached at Denton, from 1 Peter iv. 18. I praise the Lord for his assistance.
17th. — Stayed till after dinner, and then my Uncle Hyde was pleased to go with my Brother S. and me to I. Law’s, where we stayed too long, until it began to be dark. As I rode home my horse starting at a stoop in the way, gave me a fall, in which fall one of the hinder laps of my coat was quite rent away. I never missed it until I came home. I sent to seek it in the morning but found it not. O Lord, I praise thee for thy special providence in preserving [me] from hurt under so great a danger. A limb might have been maimed, as well as part of my garment lost.
20th. — After dinner my brother went with me to Cousin Heywood’s, of Taunton, whom I found much out of order.
21st. — Returned towards Yorkshire.
25th. — Read some part of Mr. Baxter’s English Nonconformity; it is sad to read ― to consider of the divisions which are amongst us. Lord remove the cause, and grant us peace. Let not things indifferent cause so much difference. Let there be no such Act of Uniformity, to occasion our deformity. Take away such unnecessary terms of union as breed divisions. Though I can submit to many things which others cannot; yet I would not have able and worthy men to be cast out of the church, because they cannot. Lord grant to England’s rulers a spirit of wisdom, to know and heal our distempers, and unite their hearts to make up our breaches.
25th. — I preached, for Mr. Broome to-day at Meltham, and he for me. I took a guide with me over the moor because it was a snow and a thick mist.
 The Rev. Henry Swift, who died 31st October, 1689, had been 40 years vicar of Penistone, having been allowed to remain, although he had never complied with the Act of Uniformity, in 1662. The Rev. Oliver Heywood, who had been ejected from the chapel of Coley, near Halifax, was Mr. Swift’s intimate friend, and frequently preached in the church of Penistone, after his ejectment from Coley. This unusual laxity in regard to the church of Penistone, may probably have arisen from the fact that the patron, Mr. Godfrey Bosvile, of Gunthwaite, was favourable to nonconformity. His grandfather had been a member of the Long Parliament, and colonel of a regiment of foot in the Parliamentary army.
Mr. Wordsworth, of Waterhall, who was lord of the manor of Penistone, had been, also, attached to the same cause. Mr. Elkanah Riche, of Bullhouse, was similarly affected, his grandfather had been a captain in the Parliamentary army, under Sir Thomas Fairfax. On Mr. Swift’s death, it would seem, the patron of the living was disposed to leave the next presentation in the hands of the principal parishioners, and with this view Mr. Meeke was invited to preach; on which occasion he records his visit to Bullhouse, and their earnest desire that he should accept the appointment. Mr. Riche was attached to Presbyterian nonconformity; this was probably strengthened by his marriages. His first wife was a daughter of the Rev. John Shaw, vicar of Rotherham, whose strong Puritan views rendered his ministry very unsettled. She died in a few years; he afterwards married a daughter of the Rev. Richard Thorpe, of Hopton, near Mirfield, also a Presbyterian divine.
Mr. Riche, and many of the parishioners, were thus anxious to secure the settlement of a peaceable and liberal clergyman, but the overtures made to Mr. Meeke, were, after mature consideration, declined; and we do not find their efforts were afterwards more successful. It seems not improbable the parishioners did not afterwards agree respecting the candidate, so that in consequence of the delay, the presentation lapsed to the crown, for we fined that the Rev. Edmund Hough, a high churchman, was appointed. He is reported to have been “a man of considerable learning and attainments;” and is said “to have kept the town and parish in great order.”
Shortly after this appointment, Mr. Riche built a chapel of his own at Bullhouse, which was completed in 1692, and which still exists. From a portion of a letter, addressed by Mr. Riche to his cousin, Mr. Aymer Riche, of Smallshaw, in the same parish, respecting a pew in the parish church, he writes, “My father, mother and myself, sat there, in Mr. Swift’s time, that is, while we went to the church: until they carried things so high and were so full of ceremonies, that we resolved to provide a better way of worship at home. I shall, therefore, not sit there as they manage the church, but if you like their doings I had rather you sat there than any person.” ― Hunter’s South Yorkshire, vol. ii. 362.
 So very characteristic of that ancient custom.
 This may have led him, when making his will, to devise “nine pounds to be placed in good hands,” the interest of which “to be paid yearly to buy wine for communion.”
 This was probably the Rev. Mr. Hyde, of Salford.
 This was the marriage of Arthur Kaye, Esq., only son of Sir John Kaye, of Woodsome, Bart., who, on the death of his father, succeeded to the title and estates. He married Anne, one of the daughters and co-heiresses of Sir Samuel Marrow, of Birkswell, in the county of Warwick, Bart. He had an only child, Elizabeth, who married Lord Lewisham, eldest son of the right hon. the earl of Dartmouth, whose issue succeeded to the Woodsome and other estates, but the title descended to another branch, the Kayes of Denby Grange, in this county.
 The Rev. Peter Ashton, M.A., was incumbent of Elland, to which he had been appointed in 1667, he was interred there November 3rd, 1698, aged 55 years.
 This was the Rev. Dr. Arderne, probably a near relation of Mr. Meeke’s stepfather. He died in the following year, August 18th. A monument, which records his bequests, was erected to his memory, in the cathedral at Chester.
 He had estates in Golcar, and was lord the manor.