Extracts from the Diary of the Rev. Robert Meeke (1874) - Diary Entries from 1691

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


January 1691.

6th. — There came one of my chapellry this morning to pay my landlord some money. He is a great deal behind in chapell wages to me; I desired him to pay some of it; instead of either promise or payment I got some hard words. Lord, grant me patience to put up with all unbecoming, provoking words, and give me wisdom how to answer, and to carry towards unreasonable men. Lord, fit me for my work, and give me grace to be faithful, and thou wilt provide for me both reverence and maintenance; though some will both despise me and deprive me of the customary dues. I bless God, I have enough for my present necessity, and more; but what I may stand in need of I know not, however, I would not, I ought not to be over careful for to-morrow, I trust the God of all mercies will provide what is convenient. I need not question it; if I first seek after the kingdom of Heaven and the righteousness thereof.

15th. — This morning was desired to preach a funeral sermon for Mr. Ramsbothom.[1]

17th. — Preached at Almondbury, from Philip. iii, 21, I bless God for his assistance. This is the first time I ever preached at a minister’s funeral. Lord fit me for what I am called unto.

22nd. — Mr. Broome and I went this forenoon, to Mr. Lockwood’s, the high constable of Blackhouse.[2] Dined there and returned homewards: called in Crosland, came home about 6 o’clock.

23rd. — This morning Mr. Bradley[3] came from Huddersfield to course with my: landlord. I rode with them, we found four hares and killed two. About noon we returned, had a shot of ale at Slaithwaite, came to our dinner, discoursed the rest of the afternoon; and thus I spent my time and was kept from better work. Lord pardon my vanities and sanctify all recreations unto me, that I may more cheerfully serve the Lord.

29th. — Was desired to go to G. Thorp’s to make his will, which I did, and while I was doing it, a messenger came to desire me to go visit James Bray’s wife. I went and found her very weak; O Lord, how frail and weak is man. Lord, sanctify thy providences. Some are sick and weak, others fallen asleep; O prepare me for my end, and while I live make me instrumental for thy glory.. Dined at John Dyson’s, of the Kitchen.

February 1691.

16th. — This morning although it hailed, rained and snew, I went to Lassells Hall, and baptized Ann, the fourth daughter of Mr. Richardson. Stayed all night.

20th. — This forenoon received a letter from my mother, who is in good health, blessed be God. She sent me word that my aunt Elizabeth Hyde[4] was married on the 12th of this month, which was strange news to me. Lord grant it may be for her good and comfort.

March 1691.

4th. — Went to the funeral of Michael Bottomley’s wife, of Broadlee: it was a very bad way [road]. Storm breaking.

6th. — Tho’ the earth was lately all covered with snow ― and a deep one too, yet to-day it is all well near gone, except some few [places] ― under walls and great banks. Psalm cxlvii. “He sendeth forth his word and melteth them: he causeth the winds to blow and the waters to flow.” It was to-day fair and windy. There came a traveller to beg something of me to relieve him and his fellows, I gave him what I could spare, he was thankful. Lord, make me thankful, I am not in his condition. I bless God and desire to do it heartily, that I am helpful and not needful. Lord continue it.

9th. — Preached at Slaithwaite, it being fair, many people were at chapell. Went to Westwood, dined there, and baptized Joseph’s child. Stayed until night with some company.

15th. — Preached from James v. 13, proved the duty of singing Psalms by several arguments: answered several objections which some have made against it.

16th. — This morning one told me he never heard that subject preached upon before, and that another said she thought I had lately met with some who had denyed the duty of singing. I confess that lately I have not, but some time formerly I have, and having preached on the foregoing words, I was minded to speak to the latter: but I am convinced that it is not good to speak of old errors, nor to insist much on controversies in public. Lord, teach me, therefore, pertinently and suitably to divide the word.

19th. — Arose in health, blessed be God, tho’ I came home late yester-night, staying on our neighbours. Lord, teach me to walk as becometh a minister of the gospell; to shine as a burning light, and to walk in such ways that others may safely follow, About 11 o’clock came Mr. Richardson to see me, and stayed until almost five. Lord, I praise thee, for love and respects which I have from friends.

20th. — It is very fine seasonable weather; we have now and then some cold storms, to usher in the spring. And so crosses sometimes go before comforts, First to taste of bitters maketh sweet more pleasant, Lord sanctify all providences.

21st. — This morning received a letter from bro. R., who acquainted me that sister Peggy hath been very ill, but is now something better. Lord, sanctify her affliction, and if it be thy will, spare her, however, fit her for thy will and good pleasure.

23rd. — Went to meet Mr. Broome at Almondbury, to appraise Mr. Rowbothom’s books. Lord, put me in mind of my own departure; give me time to prepare for it, and grace to redeem time, and prudence to set all things in order with respect to temporals, that the friends which I leave may with one consent know how to dispose of all things. I see by every day’s experience that the things of the world make great differences among friends, after the death of husband, wife, brother, sister, &c. Let me therefore be wise by others example.

28th. — It continueth very seasonable. Seed time maketh people very busy. Lord, bless the fruits of the earth, that in due time we may receive them. Lord, thou knowest my heart, and it is this morning far out of frame under a great temptation, prone to malice, wrath, envy, evil thoughts. Having ordered some things to be done in my chapelry which are not, or contrary to my mind. Sinful heart! proud creature! must all bow to thy will! Nay, it is more than such an unworthy sinner as thou art deserveth. “Be angry, but sin not.” “Give no place to wrath.”

April 1691.

1st. — This forenoon and part of the afternoon, prepared for sabbath; and afterwards read over a piece of W. P[enn’s], who professeth himself to be of that religion we call quakers, but many have thought him to be a papist, because he was so great a favourite with the late king; what he is I know not, but I take him to be a great politician.[5]

3rd. — To day went to my study. My knitter came who had knit me two pairs of stockings; I paid her 3s. 6d. for both, and yet she wanted twopence more, I thought she had enough and seemed not to be pleased, which displeased her, and thus the things of this world cause variance. I do not usually stand with any for their wages, every one ought to be paid for his work; but some are too unreasonable. Lord, teach me, enable me, to give each their due, and that I may do so, convince others that as I preach the gospel so I must live of the gospel. ― I Cor. ix, 13-14. Blessed be God, I have had hitherto sufficient and to spare. O let thy mercies endure for ever, that I may live to glorify thee here and enjoy thee hereafter.

8th. — Looking towards a hill called Deerhill,[6] this morning, I saw some reliques of the old snow yet unmelted, and a new snow which fell this last night.

14th. — Read a new pamphlet, it being a man’s speech condemned for treason and the answer to it. The state of affairs at present are out of order; many are under fears, others under discontent: we have many secret enemies against us, and a mighty aspiring ambitious neighbouring king,[7] setting himself wholly to oppose us and all [who] confederate with us. He obtaineth several prizes, sometimes by force, sometimes through bribes and treachery; he enricheth himself with large spoils, by this means, he hath gotten possession of a considerable garrison, viz:― Mons, which our king went to relieve but [it] was taken before he came thither: many are very much discouraged at this news, because that it is a great advantage to the French in their designs against the Netherlands, Holland, &c., and us. Lord, sanctify all thy providences. Still be our protector, counsellor and governor, the captain of salvation and victory over all thine and our enemies. Lord, strengthen the hands and succeed the conduct and government of our king. Weaken and disappoint his enemies; and grant if thy justice be not too much provoked by our sins, that quiet and prosperity may ere long flourish among us.[8]

20th. — This morning took a journey towards Lancashire, and blessed be God, found all in health.

22nd. — Stayed with my mother till after dinner, and then went to see uncle Hyde, who I found at Denton chapell.

23rd. — Returned towards Yorkshire.

28th. — Went towards York and called at Leeds: then to Tadcaster. Stayed a while and then to York.

29th. — This morning when I had refreshed myself, walked into the city to speak with one whom I had business with. I found him, and he came with me to my quarters, and then we walked into the garden. About 10 o’clock I went into the minster, heard one Dr. Burton preach from Psalm xxxv 13, an excellent good sermon, about compassion and having a fellow feeling with our brothers’ afflictions. In the afternoon I went to another church, by the shambles, when Mr. Jackson preached from Esth. viii, 6, a very learned discourse, shewing that great persons have a public duty, and are much concerned for the sufferings of, and endeavour to succour the church and people of God under them, and to help her out of them. This day was appointed to be a fast, a day of humiliation and prayer upon the account of cur present war with France. Lord, I have reason to be humble even for the sins of this day. Went into the city, bought some things and a book which I had heard of. When I had read it, I thought my money very ill bestowed. I set toward home.

May 1691.

21st. — I went with my landlord to Stoney Bank, dined there, and returned home about sunset.

23rd. — About 3 o’clock there came the constable and one taken with a warrant, who desired me to make an agreement between him and another. I went, and after much discourse, I did it, but I found those I had to deal with very unreasonable. Lord, give men more understanding and common graces than to strive and disagree for such small things. Lord, pardon their sins and reform them.

24th. — Preached at home; began to catechize. There were two who had learned the Exposition, and said very well. Lord increase their number, and incline parents to instruct and command their children to keep the way of the Lord, as I exhorted them unto, from Genesis xviii, 19.

June 1691.

2nd. — Went to the Crimble, to see Alderman Stanhope, who had been there, but was returned home.

11th. — Went to my study this morning, read part of a new piece concerning Christ’s Kingdom, by Mr. Baxter; it is something mysterious and hard to comprehend, being an answer to Mr. Beverly, who is for a millenium.

13th. — This day I saw a piece of land lying in Wakefield, sold, writings sealed, &c.: and so possessions go from one to another. Lord, grant me a title unto those inheritances which are unchangeable!

15th. — It is now hot weather. Lord, grant us a seasonable harvest, for hay and corn. The fields seems now to flourish with plenty.

July 1691.

27th. — Madam Ramsden of Longley, was buried to-day at Almondbury. Mr. Leake[9] preached from Numbers xxiii, 10. There was a very great congregation; and she was buried in great pomp. All her honours are now laid in the dust. Having laid all night at Mr. Richardson’s, of Lascelles Hall, whither I came yesternight. Blessed be God, Parose in health. Dined there and returned to Huddersfield.

August 1691.

5th. — Went towards Lancashire, it proved a good day. Yesterday was a great flood.

6th. — Rode to Denton, uncle Hyde was not at home. Notwithstanding, stayed all night, and had cousin Thomas Hyde’s company.

8th. — Kept house all day, sometimes discoursing with my aunt, sometimes reading a new piece she lent me, concerning death, writ by Dr. Sherlock.

9th. — Preached at Denton Chapell, Sir John Arderne[10] and his Lady were there. I thought I was not so ready in the forenoon as I would have been; when I would appear better than ordinary, having great persons to be my hearers, oftentimes I am worse, more stammering in utterance, and more confused in matter, both in prayer and preaching, though my sermons be noted verbatim, yet I am prone to use other words, and to overskip some sentences which spoil the dependance of my matter. Thus God, seeth it good to humble me, to show me my own weakness, and to prevent pride, self-conceit, and vain glory, which my corrupt nature would be prons unto; should I do or say anything praiseworthy. Lord, help and fit me for my work, but let me not be proud of the best work. What have I which I have not received?

12th. — Stayed at home with my mother, my sister being gone to the Spaw,[11] new found out near Middleton Church.

13th. — After dinner, rode towards Tintwistle, called at the parsonage, Mr. Ashton’s.

17th. — Having returned home; was desired to make away a difference between neighbours, who had reviled and spoken evil of one another. Mr. Broome and I concluded the business, though not to the content of both sides.

23rd. — Two friends came to see me, and stayed all night; Mr. Sagar, being one of them ― preached for me to-day, from John iii, 5.

27th. — This night we cut down all our corn, and many persons suppered here. It is commonly said that there never was a year in any man’s memory, when corn was all ripe together, as it is now. Every field is fit for the sickle, and all people are busy reaping.

30th. — I preached at home: there was a slender congregation. Many went to Meltham, Marsden and Ripponden, being the first Sunday after their Rushbearings.

September 1691.

2nd. — About noon went to John Mellor’s of Wellhouse, and baptized his second son John.

7th. — At home all day, was busy dressing my closet and ordering my books, placing some in a press, new bought. Lord help me to make use of them as I ought, for I have choice of books, a great privilege which many want. I know not how long I may enjoy them.

30th. — It was our court day, dined with Sir John Kaye and his steward of the court. It was a very hot day.

October 1691.

5th. — I and my sister Brooksbank and Billy, went into Lancashire, called at Brookbotham, and then homeward. Found my mother and relations in health. Blessed be God.

9th. — Went towards Tarvin with sister Bro[oksbank] and sister M., and left Billy with my mother. This was a fair and pleasant day, and we had a good journey, only sister M. got a fall in a dirty place, but was not hurt. Deo gratias.

10th. — After dinner went to Chester, Uncle Gerard and aunt went with us.

11th. — Preached at Tarvin. I bless God for his assistance and spirit of boldness which he gave me. I am not used to preach before such great persons as were there.

22nd. — I married a couple [at Slaithwaite] this day who came from Lancashire, and the groom gave me a guinea: a greater reward by far than I expected.

November 1691.

8th. — I preached and administered the sacrament. There were many to hear but few to receive.

13th. — This forenoon, I had a present brought me; an ancient woman of no great estate, and the lower rank, having heard me say I loved potatoes, she brought me about a peck of her own growing. I took it kindly, as if they had been of far greater value. None in my chapelry have been so kind except one. Nothing is given but the customed dues, not that I desire such presents, I need them not. I am no housekeeper, have no table to furnish, only I take notice of this good woman’s respects and kindness to me. Lord continue what love I have amongst my people and help me to take courage to win it and to increase it daily. Keep me from evil ways not becoming my place, lest the love of many wax cold. In the midst of my study this forenoon I suddenly fell into sin, indulging vain and sinful thoughts, O Lord, I have often resolved to keep myself from mine iniquity. I am afraid my heart is so hard, my corruption so strong, that sin will reign until I be some way or other softened by the hand of God. Lord, let it be by the finger of thy spirit, not by the heavy hand of thy wrath, Lord, work upon me by thy word and spirit, not by thy rod: but if I must be corrected before amended, in the midst of correction, O Lord, remember compassion.

December 1691.

2nd. — Stayed at home all day and studied till night, and then went to Mr. Broome’s to meet Mr. Thornton,[12] with whom I sat until 9 o’clock. Dined the following day with Mr. Thornton, at Linthwaite,

17th. — Being invited, I went to the burial of James Sykes,[13] of the Flathouse, who was buried at Almondbury: others’ deaths ought to put me in mind of mine own, but alas! I slight all amends, and am apt to promise more days. Lord, pardon my unsuitable carriage ― unsuitable to my profession ― unsuitable to my function.

23rd. — This morning, betime, before I got up, the Mr. Wilkinsons, of Greenhead,[14] came hither, and desired me to go coursing with them.

27th. — Went to Greenhead, stayed all night ― slept badly: it was a great wind, and the frequent clapping of a door kept me awake, so frail is the outward man, and so insufficient the comforts of this world, that a very small thing will hinder rest and comfort. Preached at Huddersfield, and helped to administer the sacrament. Dined with the churchwardens. Returned to Greenhead ― stayed all night.

28th. — Returned to Huddersfield, dined at the vicarage: then went to Mr. Bottomley’s Wake, lay all night as Wm. Pollard’s house, our friend’s house being so full of guests, he could not lodge us all; but in the morning returned to R. Hanson’s[15] where we supped. Dined there the following day, and towards night went to John Margeryson’s of Woodside, near Royds Hall ― lay all night.


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

[2] Mr. Abraham Lockwood, of Blackhouse, in Thurstonland, Yeoman, where he resided on his own estate. He died August 22nd, 1733, leaving no issue, his only son having been gored to death by a bull.

[3] The Bradleys, of Bradley Mills, Huddersfield, were engaged largely in business as drysalters.

[4] This was his mother’s youngest sister, ― the youngest of 15 children.

[5] The name of William Penn is so widely esteemed, that the questionable manner in which he is here mentioned, renders it necessary that some allusion should be made to it. Penn, was much in favour with king James II, and was frequently in attendance at court, and not unfrequently admitted into the presence of the king : he, therefore, came to be regarded by the general public as a “great politician,” by some he was also believed to be a “papist,” nay a “jesuit.”‘ These, and other charges which have been made against him are discussed at some length by Lord Macaulay, in his “History of England,” to which we must refer those of our readers who desire further information. It is, however, due to the character of Penn, to add, that as the founder and lawgiver of the state of Pennsylvania, we are impressed by his justice and humanity, while in its religious code, the sacred rights of conscience were respected.

[6] A high hill near Slaithwaite.

[7] Louis XIV of France.

[8] William III had gone to the Hague, where he had assembled the princes and ambassadors of foreign courts, for deliberation. Scarcely had they separated when William learned with surprise and vexation that the fortress of Mons, was besieged by Lewis. He hastened thither with all speed, but the fortress had fallen.

[9] This was probably the Rev. John Leake, who for 56 years was vicar of Warmfield, otherwise Kirkthorpe, near Wakefield. He died February 10th, 1740, in the 89th year of his age.

[10] Sir John Arderne, of Harden Hall, an ancient Elizabethan mansion, situated on elevated ground, on the banks of the river Tame, in the county of Chester. It was for many generations the residence of the Ardernes, but although it still continues in descendants of that name, it has long ceased to be a residence for the owners.

[11] This Spaw has long since disappeared and is forgotten, the name, however, continues to be preserved in connection with a contiguous farm, called “Spaw Farm.”

[12] This was Richard Thornton, Esq., the recorder of Leeds, and the intimate friend of Thoresby, the antiquary. He was a considerable antiquarian collector, to whose “noble collection of MSS.” Thoresby acknowledges his great obligation in compiling his “Ducatus Leodinensis.”

Mr. Thornton was the owner of the Linthwaite hall estate, which came by his grandmother, Margaret Lookwood, the daughter and heiress of John Lockwood, of that place, gentleman, who, or his father, built the hall: an Elizabethan mansion about half a mile from the village of Slaithwaite, on the opposite acclivity. Judging from the strong and durable masonry and the very large oak timbers of which it is composed, the builder would seem to have had a special desire that it should endure many generations. If such were his wishes they have been realized, notwithstanding that it has suffered much from neglect.

The Lockwoods acquired this estate from a family of considerable local importance, the de Lynthwaytes: they had been seated here from an early period of the Plantagenets, down probably to the middle of the 16th century ; during which period we find their names in charters, either as principals or as witnesses. The Lynthwaytes, in its collateral branches, did not become extinct in the neighbourhood till about 1615.

The estate passed from the Lynthwaytes to a branch of the Lockwoods, of Collersley, but whether by marriage or purchase is uncertain. From the heirs of Mr. Thornton, above mentioned, it was purchased by Mr. William Radcliffe, of Milnesbridge, an attorney, and is now the property of Sir Joseph Percival Radcliffe, of Rudding park, in this county, baronet.

[13] The family of Sykes, of Flathouse, or at least a member of it, removed from thence to Linthwaite hall about 1729, where they remained for four generations till 1847. ― Annals of the Church in Slaithwaite.

[14] Mr. John Wilkinson and his brother Mr. Thomas Wilkinson, were the sons of Mr. Matthew Wilkinson, of Greenhead, who had acquired a considerable property as an attorney. The elder son became a county magistrate. He probably rebuilt the mansion at (Greenhead, which now remains. He died 1727, aged 67 years. Mr. Thomas Wilkinson, the younger brother, followed his fathers’ profession, and died 1725, aged 59 years.

[15] He was doubtless of the family of Hanson, of Woodhouse, Rastrick, and of Brighouse, who for several generations had been engaged in the profession of the law, and of whom Mr. Hunter in his history of Clay House, near Elland, has given incidentally, an interesting notice. See The Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journal, vol. ii, pp. 144-5.

Extracts from the Diary of the Rev. Robert Meeke (1874) - Diary Entries from 1691


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