Extracts from the Diary of the Rev. Robert Meeke (1874) by Henry James Morehouse & Charles Augustus Hulbert
10th. — Rode to Kirkheaton, where there was a Commission sat, about the right of patronage to the church; a jury consisting of nine gentry and nine clergy were sworn. Counsel pleaded on both sides, viz., for Sir M. Wentworth and Mr. Beaumont. At last the jury were to bring in their verdict. They could not agree; but twelve were for Beaumont and six for Wentworth.
11th. — Dined at John Dyson’s, of the Kitchen.
28th. — Preached at Huddersfield, and Mr. Clarke, at Kirkheaton, having received induction yesterday.
29th. — Dined at Greenhead.
7th. — Was desired to make away a difference between neighbours, which I undertook to do, going with another. We made an end. Lord, make me willing and useful unto, and successful in peacemaking, betwixt men, according to justice, betwixt thee and sinners, according to the gospel.
12th, — The weather is seasonable. Seed-time promising, and at present plenty of corn, though trading is so bad, and money so scarce that the poor can get neither work nor wages. Lord, pity the poor, for thy mercy’s sake, and put an end to our wars, which may occasion our ruin.
21st. — Studied little, having occasion to ride to the Slack, and from thence to Houlhouse; and about six returned.
28th. — Our Vicar came to-day, to administer the sacrament, and to receive his dues. He preached a good sermon, from Col. i, 14. After dinner I went to the funeral of Michael Pugson, at Marsden.
30th. — Went to Deanhead: the Vicar preached from Matt. ii, 6. Dined at Holebottom.
1st. — Preached at home, the chapell was full, for there was no minister at Deanhead or Marsden.
2nd. — Prepared for tomorrow, being desired to preach for Mr. Philipson, at Holmfirth. O Lord, write upon my own heart what I speak to thy people, lest while I preach to others, I myself be a cast away.
3rd. — This morning I rode to Holmfirth, and preached there, from Luke xxiii, 33. Administered the sacrament. Dined at Thom. Greaves; afterwards went to visit several sick persons, who desired the sacrament of communion.
4th. — Rode to Marsden and met some friends there, who came to the marriage of cousin Alice Hollingworth. Called as I came home at Booth.
5th. — A very pleasant day. Seasonable and hopeful time for a forward spring. Yesterday, I heard that my old friend Mr. Leech is dead; he hath left a widow and eight children; was some years ― two or three ― younger than I, and now he is gone. Lord put me in mind of death.
8th. — Preached at Kirkheaton: administered to a great congregation. I bless God, who enabled me; for I was very weary and faint before I had done.
11th. — Rode to Halifax, to an auction; stayed all night.
12th. — Went again to the sale of books by auction; bought as many yesterday and to-day as came to 24s. 2d.
14th. — Accidentally, I found a piece of my mother’s letter, sometime writ to me, it put me in mind of her good counsels in life ― upon her death-bed; my own resolutions also then, to follow her advice to us her children. I called to mind the impressions which her dying speeches had upon my spirit: but to my own shame and grief also, I remember my faults this day: my breach of purpose, my revoltings, and the speedy wearing off of those good affections and intentions. Lord, humble and help me.
16th. — A forward spring. The law being made very strict about highways, Sir John Kaye came to-day to view them betwixt Crosland Moor and Standedge. I was desired to go and meet him, but because he was upon public business and public charge, I thought it not convenient, and therefore went not.
18th. — As I was at my study this afternoon, I heard a poor man talking to my landlady, under the window, and telling her he had been four days at market with a piece, and could yet receive no money; that he was forced to buy bean-meal to make bread. Oat-meal being dear; and nothing almost got for work. Lord, pity the poor, put an end to wars. Give rulers prudence to consider the state of the nation.
22nd. — Preached at my chapell, many people were there, it was as hot as at midsummer. There is much difference betwixt this April and last ― this very hot and dry, the last cold, and almost every day wet.
23rd. — Preparing for a journey into Lancashire. It was a very hot day. About 10, set forwards, and when I came to Clayton Bridge, found my sister and other friends in some measure of health.
24th. — After dinner, went to Denton, found friends well there also.
27th. — Returned into Yorkshire, lay all night at Bro’ Brooksbank’s.
29th. — I preached partly new and partly old preparations: in the forenoon, was dull ― wanting words ― matter, and method. I was ashamed of myself. Lord, let this be a warning to me to make use of time before it is gone and past. In the afternoon, blessed be God, I hope I was more plain and profitable.
1st. — The weather is now changed. It began to rain yesterday, and raineth to day. It is very seasonable weather: the earth began to be hot and dry. These showers from heaven refresh. O Lord, pour down in season, the cooling, refreshing, fructifying, showers of thy grace upon my hard, barren, unfruitful heart, which is inflamed with the raging heat and fire of sin and lust.
2nd. — This morning, arose betime, and went to the visitations [at Wakefield.] Dined at Widow Smirfield’s, returned back with Mr. C. [larke]: lay with him in the parsonage of Kirkheaton.
8th. — Rode to Huddersfield: dined at the Vicarage: about 3 o’clock went to Leeds. Lay all night at Mr. Stanhope’s, junr., whither I was invited to see a gentlewoman, Mrs. Stanhope, mentioned to me by some friends, because she was a little one. I spoke to her, but very coldly-knew not well what to say, for resolving not to dissemble, and having no inclination to love, or like the person, I was put to a stand.
10th. — From Leeds to Bradford, thence returned home.
11th. — Went to see sister Brooksbank, whom I found much out of order. Mr. Broome prayed, with her.
12th. — Rode to Halifax: bought Will. M[eeke] some clothes. I praise God, as yet, I have been very helpful to him. Lord, continue temporals unto me, that I may live comfortably myself and helpful to others. Billy is now fallen heir to an estate, which through God’s blessing may maintain him, but a bad knavish tenant enjoys it. Lord, order all things for the best. Thou art the best help in temporal as well as in spiritual trouble.
13th. — Preached at Meltham: at noon a friend came to sit with me. I bless God for friends. Make me, O Father, an instrument of doing good to many, and I shall have many friends. Lord, forgive my enemies, and give me prudence so to carry to them, that I may gain them. Praised be God, my friends are many, my enemies few, and those that are most unkind, they give no great reason for it, and do me little harm. If I had not some to reflect upon me, and deal unkindly towards me, I should not know my own temper, nor how I am inclined to carry towards an enemy.
17th. — Rode to Stoney Bank: dined there. It was a very rainy day. Stayed all night.
18th. — Dined at Daniel Cartwright’s, about 4 o’clock returned homewards.
19th. — Set to my studies Prepared for tomorrow. My landlord sent two men to seek two horses, which we rode on to Stoney Bank, but strayed from thence; they returned at night, but found none.
20th. — Preached at home, by God’s assistance. Lord, bless my labours. Sent notes to three chapels to enquire for the horses, and two men went out again: at night brought them home.
28th. — I rode with my landlord and landlady to Wike. Stayed all night.
29th. — This forenoon, to Royds Hall, dined at John Hanson’s; from thence to Huddersfield, supped at Greenhead; returned home.
30th. — Was desired to visit a sick aged woman, I went; she sent for some neighbours and relations in, I prayed with her and returned. Yesterday I met with an old acquaintance, a nonconformist, who told me there was an ordination of ministers by Presbyters, at Mr. Thorp’s, of Hopton. There is much difference among learned men about ordination, some are for bishops, some for presbyters, some for the congregation, and lay elders. Lord, promote true religion by men of thine own sending, and by what hands thou pleasest, in thine own time; grant a greater union in judgment amongst the learned, and in practice amongst pious and religious men.
1st. — After dinner, I went with Mr. Br[oome] to Netherton, to see a young scholar, newly beneficed and marryed.
4th. — This morning read an old letter from my father to my mother’s father, before marriage, where he apologized for himself about some things which happened in that affair; and I find he giveth this character of himself:― “I am, naturally, of a foolish, bashful disposition, which maketh me close and secret in all my carriage, many times to my own disadvantage, and is as a seal to my lips, that I cannot speak my mind. I am also of a fearful temper, even to a sinful distrust, an apprehension of danger sticks close to my spirit, and maketh me slow in my actings towards that which carryeth in it the occasion of my fears; and that is the reason why I have been so slow to change my condition, and in matters thereunto belonging.” I am his express image in this character, I experience in myself both the propertiee ― foolish bashfulness, and distrustful fear ― or else, I believe, I had before this time been in another condition. Lord, when thou seest good, thou canst change these qualities. Lord, keep me from sin, and thy will be done.
5th. — Studied some little this forenoon: made some addition to my sermon for Sunday next. After dinner read upon several subjects, and at last, having occasion, read part of my father’s diary, and my own. I am afraid my love to goodness is colder than sometimes it hath been. I am not so cautious and tender conscienced as at first, when I came to the knowledge of myself and religion. Lord, renew and revive the grace of thy Spirit in me.
6th. — At noon went to Smith Riding, [Linthwaite], dined there, returned about five. Found a young man, related to my landlord, who had been beyond the sea, taken by the French, and set at liberty.
9th. — Richard Bowkerlay with me, my landlord’s nephew, who being bound apprentice to a merchant, was sent a voyage into Virginia and Barbadoes: as he returned, the ship, where he was, all the men and goods were taken by the French, and carried prisoners to Saint Malos, lay some four or five days there, and then were exchanged.
10th. — Preached at home in the forenoon; in the afternoon at Meltham. Mr. Broome being among his friends.
11th. — One came to speak to me about some small reckonings betwixt us, wherein I thought there was a mistake, but the other being positive on the contrary, I was provoked to passion: I spoke unadvisedly with my lips. The Lord pardon me, and give me power over my passion, and over all sins, for I am prone to, and often overcome, by divers lusts. Was overtaken deliberately by one this afternoon; I gave a little ground in the beginning, thinking that I would not be overcome, and yet was conquered.
13th. — It being appointed to keep this day as a public day of humiliation, I preached and performed the public office in the congregation, which was considerable. Lord, affect their hearts by my labours, and grant such a reformation among us, that we [may] see our desire ― peace in the church ― and settled tranquillity in the state.
15th. — Went to see Mr. Broome, who had been in Cheshire. I expected news but heard none.
17th. — Preached, I hope, profitably. It was extremely hot. In the afternoon many at the chapell. At night when I was praying with the family, I was suddenly taken with such a hoarseness, I could not speak without very great difficulty. O Lord, how sinful and frail I am. I confess I am unworthy to open my lips.
18th. — This morning there came one unto me desiring to discourse with me privately. The first thing he said was to desire me to pray against witchcraft, both privately and publicly. I asked him the reason: he told me he could not sleep in the night, and was troubled. He had met once or twice men he liked not. We had other discourse, but I could not apprehend the reason of his trouble, nor fully the trouble itself, so wavering and inconsistent his discourse. Lord, pity him and help him, and bring him to the sight and sense of his sins, to repent of them.
20th. — Studied all forenoon. After dinner read in the garden until almost five, then recreated myself. Lord help me to study and make moderate recreation: sober and temperate in all earthly enjoyments.
24th. — Preached at home. Lord, make thy word in my mouth powerful to convince, convert and confirm.
25th. — We began to mow to-day: dark and cloudy, but fair. It hath been very seasonable weather, the earth is full of fruit.
28th. — It began to rain, but as hitherto, thou hast so granted us seasonable weather, that we may have plenty of food ; for money is scarce, trading worse and worse, the poor ill set to live.
4th. — A gloomy but fair day. The things of the world are like the weather; sometimes when they look at the worst, with the darkest countenance, they prove better; and on the contrary, when they promise the fairest, they sometimes disappoint the soonest.
6th. — A little before dinner came Mr. Smith, the author of “The Patriarchall Sabbath.” He took me wholly from my study.
7th. — Read all forenoon; after dinner, Mr. Smith and I went down to the town, sent for Mr. Broome. Stayed till towards night.
8th. — Preached at Deanhead. Dined at George Hoyle’s. After the evening sermon, many came to stay with me before I took horse. Lord, make me thankful for friends, and teach me to walk friendly, christianly, and gravely, as becometh a minister of the gospel.
9th. — Walked to Mr. Br[oome’s] whom we found ill; other two friends followed me to Mr. Broome’s we dined there. Stayed till night.
10th. — I went with Mr. S[mith] homewards, it was a stormy day, being on foot, we called at several houses for shelter. As I returned, called and discoursed about an hour with a plain, good old woman. I find it convenient upon several accounts to be familiar with and to visit my chappelrie. Lord, give me christian wisdom and prudence in all places to behave myself as I ought.
12th. — I went to dire at Edmund Hirst’s. Stayed too long: complying too much to the company. The Lord forgive me. I desire to be more exemplary: private christians should be so, much more ministers; but the Lord knoweth many ministers come short of that piety, charity, and sobriety, which may be seen in some of their people.
14th. — Very hot-seasonable for the husbandman. Blessed be God for all his mercies. My neighbour, Mr. Broome, having been ill this week, I promised to preached for him to-morrow, in the afternoon.
15th. — Preached this morning upon a text something suitable to what happened; one being to do public penance. Preached from I Tim. v, 20, which I prepared yesterday. In the afternoon, preached at Meltham.
18th. — Lay long this morning, when I should have performed my morning duty to my Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor; was dull, distracted, disordered in my thoughts and affections. Lord, grant me a spirit of prayer and praise. Give me all grace to do thy will, and to behave myself as a minister of Christ, both in thy sight, and the sight of men. Was reading a piece of the Government of the Tongue. My own conscience convinced me of some sins therein exposed. I sometimes speak rashly, unadvisedly. Lord pardon me, and give me prudence to refrain.
20th. — This forenoon, took up some time in writing to my friends; time and distance of place, almost weareth out the remembrance of relations, but, Lord, no time or place can separate me from thy loving kindness.
21st. — Went to my studies. It is a dark day, and maketh haymakers dubious what to do. Sometimes God’s providence seems to be so, and good men are put a little to the stand; but thy law is a rule at all times. Lord, teach me to understand it. Many things I understand better than I practice; for I know I ought not to do many things which I do.
25th. — To-day was our feast. Many were at our house. Relations stayed all night. I sate up late.
27th. — We got all our hay in, but some few cocks. It has been a plentiful, seasonable haytime.
29th. — This morning when I first awoke, I forgot it was Sunday-began the day with sin ― when my conscience awaked, was sore troubled, for my aggravated transgression; humbled myself and acknowledged my provocation. Prayed for mercy and grace.
30th. — Went to my study. Set myself to some further preparations, designing a journey on Wednesday. It is cloudy, thick and foggy weather. Lord grant me a seasonable, comfortable journey. I take such great journeys seldom.
1st. — I set forwards this morning, having my landlord’s company, towards Leeds. Dined there, and thence to York. Lodged all night ― was very weary.
2nd. — From York we went to Kilham, dined there, and thence to Flamborough. Blessed be God, in good health, but sore and extremely weary in my bones. Went to bed without offering up any prayer or praise to God: but my heart, O Lord, was towards thee; and with my mind and affections I gave thee praise for thy good providence.
3rd. — This morning I was stark, but we walked out into the fields on the sea-side: saw where Flamborough men had engaged a French pyrate, who had run an English ship ashore, with a design to plunder and burn; but the townsmen beat them off, and killed and wounded about fourteen French, without any loss of their own men. They gave me one of the French bullets, which was found near the place.
4th. — Saturday. We rode to Bridlington, and met with company there, and stayed all night.
5th. — Preached at Flamborough, both ends of the day. I bless God for his assistance.
6th. — Rode to Skipsey; dined with some relations: should have received £11 rent, and received no more than 34s. Lord, grant thy favourable providence about temporals, that I may have, as hitherto, a competency for myself, and those that I have care of. After dinner rode to Hull, lodged there.
7th. — In the morning we rode towards Howden: dined there, and thence to Turnbriggs, lodged all night.
8th. — In the morning to Wakefield, thence to our own habitation.
From this date to the 26th, the Diary is lost.
27th. — Fair day and pleasant. Many are busy in the fields, which are white for harvest. Lord, thou art merciful and heareth prayer, which yesterday was put up by the congregation.
29th. — Being invited to dine at Mr. Broome’s, my landlord, his wife, and I: about 12 we went, and returned at five.
30th. — About 9 o’clock I rode towards Tintwistle and came thither at 2, found all well, blessed be God. Went to see a new chapel, which is built for a non-conformist: who is tabled at my aunt’s. There are since the Toleration, many chapells builded. Lord, grant it may be for the good of souls. We all preach the same doctrine, pray for the same things; all the difference consists in garments, gestures and words; and yet that difference breedeth heats, dissensions, divisions, prejudices, jealousies, suspicions, censorious judgings, strangeness [estrangement] and coldness of charity and christian affection amongst friends. I am afraid this is the effect of such separate meetings, and different modes of worship. Lord, take away all matters of contention ― occasions of division, and let there be one plain and indisputable method established according to the Gospel, in such decency and order, in which, all pious, peaceable and sound divines, may agree to worship the sacred Trinity with reverence and godly fear. In the meantime, teach persons of all persuasions, to know where consisteth the true knowledge of Christ, and a sound profession of the Faith. O that every one would rightly apply that of St. Paul, Rom. xiv. 17.
31st. — My aunt paid me £14, which was part of a legacy left me by aunt Gr. ― I received £7 short of what I ought to have done ; because the executors pretended the estate left would not reach to pay the full. I bless God for what I have. My heavenly father, who hath taken care of me, and found me friends ever since I was fatherless, is the principal donor; to him be praise for all his benefits. If any unjustly make them less, Lord, grant me patience and them pardon. The money being left in my aunt’s hands, and an acquittance with it, I signed it, and received the money with a small legacy for my nephew. Went to Denton, dined there, was told the executors had assets in their hands. Who is in the fault, I know not, but that in this world we meet with many temptations. The things of the world are bones of contention, which breed many quarrels between brother and brother, neighbour and neighbour, but I desire to prefer love and peace, before a few worldly trifies Lord, teach and incline my heart always to choose the best things. Amen.
Thus ends the portion of the diary contained in this volume ― which was originally occupied by Latin alletaphysics, very beautifully written, in the handwriting of Mr. Meeke, and probably his father or elder brother.
 This arose in consequence of the death of Dr. Shippen, rector of Kirkheaton, when Richard Beaumont, Esq., of Whitley hall, presented to that rectory the Rev. Thomas Clarke, then vicar of Huddersfield: but his right to do so was disputed by Sir Matthew Wentworth, of Bretton hall, bart., hence the Commission here referred to.
Mr. Clarke was appointed vicar of Huddersfield in 1675, and to the rectory of Kirkheaton in 1693, both of which he held till his death in 1707. His son, of the same name, was a clergyman of some eminence, who succeeded him in the rectory of Kirkheaton, and was master of the grammar school in Wakefield for 20 years.
In 1749 he was appointed by Sir William Lowther, Bart., to the rectory of Swillington, when he procured a dispensation to hold the two livings. He was also chaplain to his grace the duke of Devonshire.
He preached a sermon, before the judges, at the Assizes held at York, in August, 1731: On the Divine Institution of Government: which was published at the request of the grand jury, to whom and the high sheriff it was dedicated. He died in 1756, aged 80 years. A monument was erected to his memory by his widow and two daughters, in Kirkheaton church, with a Latin inscription.
 “The Kitchen” was a house nearer to Slaithwaite, originally belonging to Linthwaite Hall, as the kitchen, or servants’ residence; occupied until a few years ago, by a John Dyson, and still gives name to the neighbourhood.
 No record appears of an ordination at Hopton, of this date; but on the 6th of June following, an ordination took place at Horton, near Bradford, in which the Revs. Richard Frankland, Oliver Heywood, and Richard Thorpe, of Hopton, took part along with other ministers. It would seem to have been the first public ordination in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in connexion with Presbyterian dissent, and no doubt it occasioned general remark. The persons ordained were Messrs. Jonathan Wright, Nathaniel Priestley, and Accepted Lister, who had completed their education for the ministry under Mr. Frankland. It, therefore, seems very probable that Mr. Meeke’s informant had been in error both as to the time and place.
 Robert Hyde, of Hyde hall, Cheshire, Esq.
 “The Patriarchall Sabbath” was published about 1683, while Mr. Smith resided at Bolton, in Lancashire, as lecturer at the parish church. The work caused some opposition and controversy among neighbouring ministers, of which mention is made in “The Life of the Rev. Adam Martindale, written by himself,” edited by the Rev. Richard Parkinson, B.D., canon of Manchester, and printed by the Chetham Society, in 1845.
Mr. Martindale observes that “there were many things of bad consequence in it,” of which “I made bold to tell the author, when I met him at Manchester;” having been desired by his friends “to write against it,” which at first he declined, being still urged, he decided to do so: his MS., however, was given into the hands of a worthless printer, who not only neglected to fulfil his engagement, but also failed to return it.
Canon Parkinson has added a note respecting the author of “The Patriarchall Sabbath,” and although he had not seen the work (neither have we) he assigns it to the Rev. Matthew Smith, a native of York, a Presbyterian minister. This, however, is erroneous, as the real author was the Rev. John Smith, a clergyman of the church of England, who, after retiring from Bolton, removed to Huddersfield, and became incumbent of Deanhead chapel, in Scammonden, where he resided in 1689, and where he died, as the following entry in the parish church register attests:― “Mr. John Smith, curate of Scammonden, [buried] May 19th, 1699.” Mr. Matthew Smith was, however, the author of a work “On the true notion of Imputed Righteousness and Justification, &c.,” printed in 1701. This work also gave offence to many of his dissenting brethren, and was the occasion of some controversy.