The History and Topography of the Parish of Kirkburton and of the Graveship of Holme (1861) - Chapelry and Church of Holmfirth

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The History and Topography of the Parish of Kirkburton and of the Graveship of Holme (1861) by Henry James Morehouse

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This ancient Chapelry comprised the townships of Wooldale, Hepworth, and Cartworth, in the parish of Kirkburton; and those of Holme, Austonley, and Upperthong in the parish of Almonbury. The Vicar of Kirkburton being patron. But since the erection of three new churches, the chapelry has been subdivided.

Respecting the origin of this chapelry there is nothing with certainty known. I have, however, had occasion (pp. 48—51) to allude to this subject, and have given what appears a probable conjecture. Thither I must now refer the reader for further information.

It is certain that there was a chapel at Holmfirth in the reign of Edward IV. Dr. Whitaker observes, “there is extant a confirmation under the privy seal of Richard III., of a grant made by Edward IV. to the King’s tenants of Holmfirth, members of the lordship of Wakefield, of xls. per annum, towards an exhibition to mynestre devine service in the chapel there.”

From a series of original MSS. and loose memoranda, I am enabled to give many interesting historical particulars connected with this chapelry, from the early part of the reign of Elizabeth down to that of William III., but more particularly during the reign of Charles I. and the Commonwealth period, when the inhabitants were anxious to have the chapel made a parish church.

From these MSS. I shall quote largely, and in their own words, which will best preserve the spirit and character of the times to which they refer ; although doing this will necessarily involve some repetition, and a reference to matters which do not immediately bear upon the subject.

The first MS. from which I shall quote is entitled, “Some notes touching the Chapel at Holmfirth, and the chaplains or curates there ; what the inhabitants gave them, and how raised,” &c. It bears date' 1698, and has evidently been written by one who had been at some trouble to make himself acquainted with many of the circumstances recorded. This will therefore form the basis of the following historical account.

It appeareth by ancient writings that the said chapel was built by the mutual consent and at the charge of the inhabitants within the chapelrie, for a chappel of ease; and that no stipend or endowment was settled upon it by them or others.
That ye said inhabitants did by like consent, from time to time procure and agree with such as they thought fitt to be curates there, sometimes for a greater, and sometimes for a lesser sum of money, as may be seen by sundrie witnesses, sworn and examined touching these matters, by which it is manifest yt ye inhabitants gave the curates more or less as they pleased.

In the early part of the reign of Elizabeth the curates “had £6 13s. 4d. per ann. in money, and sent some persons up and down the chappelrye for what wool and oats the inhabitants would give them but to a Mr. Lord “they agreed to give £12 per ann.,” as “he esteemed it too low and base a thing to go from house to house for such wool and oats as the inhabitants would give him, and did desire them to let him have all in money.” “For the raising of which, they appointed tenn men to measure the chappel, and sett out to every inhabitant a yeard for everie penny tax (according to the ancient occupance tax), and for everie such yeard they agreed to give ye curate 12d. per ann., to make up the said sum of £12.”

About the year 1632 and 3, ye chappel was pulled down and re-edified, with the addition of about 132 seats; after that, one Mr. John Bynns was admitted to be curate, and in the year 1635, procured a commission out of the Ecclesiastical Court,* to diverse commissioners (without the consent of the major part of the principal inhabitants), to allot seats unto the inhabitants (being then few or none knew their proper seats as was then alledged), and to raise and fix a competent stipend for the curate. Which commissioners did meet to execute ye same, and thereupon made their certificate, by which they ordered the inhabitants to pay ten pence yearly for every seat,[1] with which the inhabitants most generally were dissatisfied, and refused to pay the same.

* The commissioners appointed were, “Mr. John Kay, of Denby Grange, and Thomas Thornhill, of Fixby, Esq. ; Gamaliel Whitaker, clerke, M. of Arts, Vicar of the Parish Church of Kirkburton; George Crosland, clerke, Vicar of the Parish Church of Almondburie ; Richard Sykes, clerke, Parson of the Parish Church of Kirkheaton ; and Anthonie Bennes, clerke, Parson of the Medictie of the Rectorie of the Parish Church of High Hoyland, of the Diocese of York,” who were directed as follows:—“ Whereas, wee are informed that the Chappell of Holmeforth, within the parish of Kirkburton aforesaid, hath of late bene enlarged and repaired, and the Stalls therein made decent and uniforme, and that fewe or none of the Inhabitants within the chappelrie doe knowe theire proper seates within the said Chappell, or at least have no seates or stalls assigned unto them by owr authority. By reason whereof, diverse Suites and differences are every day likely to arise and growe amongst the said inhabitants, if the same be not in time prevented.

“Wee, therefore, myndinge and tendinge the good and quiett of the said Inhabitants, and for the p’servation of Christian amity amongst the said Inhabitants, and of good order in the said Chappell, as alsoe for the p’vidinge of a competent yearly maintenance for the minister servinge from time to time at the same Chappell of Holmeforth, have thought good, and by these presents doe give full power and authoritie unto you, the said Mr. John Kay, Thomas Thornhill, Esq., Gamaliel Whitaker, George Crosland, Richard Sykes, and Anthonie Bennes, clerkes, or any fower or more of you, whereof the said Mr. Whitaker and Mr. Crosland to be two, to allott and assign unto the several Inhabitants within the said Chappelrie of Holmeforth aforesaide, such sittings and convenient stalls, pewes, or seates within the same Chappell, wherein to sitt, kneele, and heare Divine Service there read, and Sermons preached, accordinge to their respective degrees, Estates, and condi’cons as you in your judgements and discre’con shall think meete and convenient. And likewise to take order for a competent Annual Stypend to be raised and imposed upon the said, amongst the Inhabitants of the said Chappelrie, for and towards the maintinance of a ministre to serve this Cure of the same Chappell of Holmeforth aforesaid. And of your doeinges herein you are to certifie us or our lawfull Deputie in that behalfe, in the Consistorie place in York Minster, upon Friday next after the Feast of St. John the Baptist, next cominge or before ; together with these p’sents. Given at Yorke, under the Seale of our said office, the 12th March, 1635.

“The Execution of this Commission doth appeare in a Schedule or Modell of the said Chappell thereto annexed, attested by signatures of all the said Commissioners.”

Upon which the said Mr. Bynns corn’enced suit against divers of them, which continued until 1639; and then all matters in difference were submitted and referred to four arbitrators indifferently chosen, finally to judge of and end the same. Whereupon, the 10th day February, 1639, made and declared their award* in writing, by which they ordered yt ye Commission (which was the occasion of the suit), the Certificate also, and whatelse were done thereupon by the consent of the plaintiff and defendants, should be subducted and taken out of the Court, and made utterly void and of none effect.
And so every one was left in the same plight as they were before the said Com’ission was procured.

* We here give it at length.

“Decemo die mensis Febr., Ann. Dom. 1639.

“In the Cause of Difference betweene John Bynns, Cler., ministre and preacher of God’s word on the one pte., and Henry Jackson, James Genne, and Josa. Eamshaw on the other pte. We, whose names are hereunto subscrybed, being arbitrators indifferently chosen by the said p’ties for endinge thereof, doe order and award as followeth :—

“Imp’us. — We doe order and award that the said parties shall from henceforth become lov’rs and friends as it becometh Christians in the feare of God; and that all suits and controv’sies heretofore stirred up betwixt them, or any of them, shall now cease and determine.

“Item. — We doe order and award that these several notes, under the hands of the severall Inhabitants of the Chappellrie of Holmeforth, and the said Henry Jackson, James Genne, and Josa. Earnshaw, now tendered unto the said Mr. Bynns shall stand and be counted effectuall for the said Mr. Bynns to recover his wages by, for serving the cure at the said Chappell, of all such as have subscrybed thereunto without cleaving or flying to the Com’ission formerly granted concerning the same.

“Item. — We doe order and award that the said Henry Jackson, James Genne, and Jo. Earnshaw, or some for them to he elected and chosen, shall repayre to the Court at Yorke, and that the said Mr. Bynns, or some for him, shall lykewise at the same tyme be there, and that then they shall joyne and agree together to enter an order in the said Court, where the suyte concerning the Chappellrye and him is now depending, whereby the former division concerning the seatts in the said Chappell out of which the said wages must aryse, shall be by Mr. Chancell’r subducted, the plattforme remayning in Court taken off the roll, soe the said plattforme to be made voyd. And thereupon the aforenamed Com’ission and Certificate thereupon shall be alsoe cancelled and made voyd.

Item. — We doe order and award that Henry Jackson shall pay, or cause to be paid, unto the said Mr. Bynns, the sum of fiftie-seaven shillings of current money, in full satisfaction of all arrearages which should come and accreu unto him out of the Lands at Holmehouse given to the ministre of the said Chappell, by Jo.Tynker, deceased; and so, consequently, shall pay the same according to the said guift, at the end of every half yeare. The said arrearages to be paid im’ediately after their returne from Yorke, from finishing thereof.


Shortly after this, the civil war broke out, when many of the clergy withdrew from their cures, to join the King’s forces, or rendered other assistance — i.e. with money, arms, &c. This appears to have been especially the case in Yorkshire, as we find the Parliament passed an ordinance, dated 27th February, 1644, “authorising Lord Fairfax, with the advise of the assembly,” to fill up those places “with such learned, godly divines as they shall think fit.”

This afforded Mr. Binns’s opponents in the chapelry an opportunity, which they appear not to have allowed to pass, of trying to displace him, although he does not appear to have absented himself from his cure. It would seem they presented a memorial “to the Lord Fairfax and the standing committee at the city of York ;” but a counter-memorial was also got up and presented, which stated that

John Binns, of Bank-end, within the township of Thurstonland, clerke, is by and upon some informations intended against him, called before your Honrs, at the city of Yorke, and there resteth. We, whose names are subscribed, being neare neighbors to the said John Binns, thought ourselves in conscience bound to certify yr Honrs, the truth as concerning the doctrine, life, and conv’sation of the said John Binns, viz., that a great part of us have knowne him from his tender yeares; and that he hath served as minister of God’s word at the Chappell of Honly for the space of about eighteene or nineteene yeares, and since, at the Chappell of Holmfirth, some eight or nine yeares; during which time both we, his hearers, and others — Divines in the countrie, acquainted with him, — have adjudged his doctrine to be sound, orthodox, and profitable; and himself in his calling, painfull; and in life and conv’sation, peaceable ; ready to compose differences, and to set peace among his neighbours upon all occasions, and under whose ministry we have belonged to the Chappell of Holmfirth, [and] shall be willing to continue if it may stand with approbation of your Honrs. ; and in testimonie of the truth of the p’misses, have hereunto subscribed our names, humbly taking leave and resting your Honrs, in all service to be commanded.
“Not long after” this, “the curate Binns dyed.[2] After whose death, by virtue of a Commission under the great Seal of England, the Commissioners returned a Certificate into the High Court of Chancerie, hat they found belonging to the Parish Church of Burton a vicarage presentative, with cure of Soules, the profits thereof worth about eighty pounds per ann.
“Mr. Daniel Clarke is viccar, a painful preacher, who receiveth the profits.
“We find, alsoe, a Chappelrie in the said parish, and a Chapell called Holmfirth Chappell, four or five miles distant from the Parish Church, having no endowment: one Mr. Gamaliel Appleyard is preacher there, and stands at the benevolence of the people. We conceive it fit that the Chappelrie of Holmfirth be made a parish of itself, and Holme [Holmfirth] made a parish church, in regard to the distance from its parish church aforesaid.”
“And the like certificate was given by seven Justices of the Peace for the West-Riding of Yorkshire,* under their hands and seals.”

* The following is

“The humble petition of the poore Inhabitants of the Chappelrye of Holmefirth, in the parishes of Kirkburton and Almonburie, humbly sheweth that, whereas your poore petitioners dwelling a great way remote and distant from the churches of Kirkburton and Almonburie, have been compelled and oppressed to contribute and pay all such assessments as the churchwardens of Kirkburton and Almonburie have been pleased to impose upon them, for the maintaining of the Bells, Clocks, and every other ornament in the said churches ; and to pay wages for tenting of the said clocks, and other things as they please, to the great impoverishment and grinding of the faces of your poore petitioners, and contrarie to equitie and good conscience. Your poore petitioners never being chargeable to the said churches or parishes; there being no seates or roomes for your petitioners in the said churches. And your said petitioners not being able to goe to either of the said churches, but doe usually resort to the chappell within their chappelrie aforesaid, for the hearing of the word of God preached, receiving the Sacraments, and other divine worship.

“That your Honrs. would be pleased to grant an order forth of this Honourable Court, for your petitioners reliefs herein that they may be noe further compellable, but to the repayres of the roofe, windowes, and doores of the said churches, which your poore petitioners are very willing to doe, though they receive no profitt thereby.”

The inhabitants of the chapelry entered with much spirit into this proposal, and drew up petitions and memorials, which were presented to the authorities.

The following “certificate,” signed by 128 persons within the chapelry, was presented at this period:—

“These are to certifie all whom it may concerne, that the chappell of Holmefirth standeth about fower myles from the parish churches of Kirkburton and Almonburie, many of the Inhabitants dwelling five, six, seaven, and the nearest above three myles from the nearer of the said churches. Fower hundred Com’unicants repairinge to the said chappell upon the Lord’s-day, to heare the word of God preached. And there beinge noe meanes allowed the Minister of God’s word for servinge the Cure in the said chappell, Wee, the Inhabitants whose names are subscribed, doe humbly pray that the said chappell be severed, and divided from the said churches, and be made a parish church ; and the several hamletts of Wooldale, Hepworth, Cartworth, Holme, Austonley, Thwonge, and Scholes, within the Constablerie and Chappelrie of Holmefirth aforesaid, be annexed and appropriated thereunto, by reason of the larger and remote situation thereof; and that the small tithes and Easter duties yearly arissinge and ackrewinge within the said hamlets, may be established upon a preaching minister of God’s word for servinge the cure at the said chapell. All which we pray, and are readie to testifie, as your Honrs. shall thinke most meete, and as shall be for the glorie of God, and the furtherance of true Religion and virtue.”

The next document is a petition drawn up by “the Constables and Churchwardens of Kirkburton, and the Constable and Churchwardens of the Chappelrie of Holmfirth,” addressed, “To the Commissioners at Leeds.” The interesting and curious revelations which it makes, will doubtless be accepted as a sufficient apology for its length. It is dated June 8th, 1650.

That the said chappelry should be divided from the parish churches of Kirkburton and Almonburie, and made a parish of itselfe ; and Holmfirth Chappel made the parish church.
That the Right Honorable the Commissioners hath returned and confirmed the same certificate into the High Court of Chancerie, under their hands, as by the certificate appeareth, for that the said chappel standeth five myles from the nearest of the churches of Kirkburton and Almonburie ; many of the inhabitants living six, seven, and some about eight miles, and the nearest Inhabitants above three miles from the nearer of the said churches.
And that the people of the Chappelrie of Holmfirth have congregated themselves in the said chappell for to heare the word of God preached ; the time whereof the memorie of man is not to the contrarie.
That Mr. Daniel Clarke, then incumbent, did consent and agree, with consent of diverse of the best and well affected in the said parish, with Gamaliel Appleyard, minister of God’s word in the said chappel, for the cure of the Soules was soe many in the chappelrie that they could not resort to the said church, neither would the church contain them, and did invest upon him, the said Mr. Appleyard, the full moytie and half parte of all the tythes arisinge in the said chappelrie, for preachinge and officiatinge the cure in the said chappell : the said Mr. Appleyard did gather, divide, and enjoy the tythes with the said Mr. Clarke, with consent as aforesaid.
That Mr. Nathaniel Shirt, now Incumbent of Kirkburton, did consent and agree, with the consent of diverse of the best and well affected of the said parishioners, with Mr. Appleyard, now minister of God’s word in the said Chappell, and did contynue and invest on him, the said Mr. Appleyard, the full moytie and halfe part of all the tythes belonging to the vicarage of Kirkburton within the chappelrie of Holmfirth, for preaching and officiatinge the cure in the said chappell, and the said Mr. Appleyard hath gathered, divided, and enjoyed the same with the said Mr. Shirt’s consent accordingly.
The said Mr. Nathaniel Shirt did consent and agree, with the consent of severall of the best and well affected Inhabitants of the parish of Kirkburton, with the said Mr. Appleyard, that the said Chappell of Holmfirth should be made parochiall, with full consent on both sides : the said Mr. Shirt receivinge the one halfe of all the tythes within the said Chappelrie to the vicarage of Kirkburton aforesaid.
That all the well affected within the said chappelrie of Holmfirth, with consent of diverse others of the well affected of the said parish of Kirkburton (with jeynt consent), have petitioned and certified to this Honbie Com’ittee, that the said Chappell of Holmfirth be made parochial, as by their petition and certificate under their hands and certificate out of the Chancerie, and certificate under the hands and seales of several of the Justices of the Peace, within the West-Ridinge of the county of Yorke, remaininge in the office of the said Com’ittee, may and doth more at large appeare.
For that the said Inhabitants of the said chappelrie are not able to goe to the churches of Kirkburton and Almonburie, by reason that the nearest Inhabitants liveth above three miles from either of the said churches, and severall of the Inhabitants above eight miles, and the said chappell is above five miles, and that in the winter time when there have been great snowes, there are several men livinge that hath help’t to carrye corpes to the church, and were not able to reach that night, but lodged by the way, and made the best haste they could, and were not able to reach home the next day.[3]
That the Inhabitants of Holmfirth have alwayes, and still doth stand for the Parliaments* service, by reason whereof they had above Thirtie houses burned downe by the Armye against the Parliament, under the late Earle of Newcastle, five Regiments of the enemye’s foot, three of Horse, and two of Dragoones, came into the said Chappelrie, killed, and tooke prisoners, and plundered and tooke away all their goods, soe that many lyed in prison, and the rest were forste from their owne habita’cons, to the great impoverishment and hurt of the poore Inhabitants.
That the said Inhabitants of Holmfirth did make and set forth a hundreth Musqueteers for the Parliament’s service, by order of the late Lord General Fairfax ; and that there are severall of the sonnes and servants of the Inhabitants still in actual service of the Commonwealth.
That the said Mr. Shirt doth threaten the Churchwardens of the said Chappelrie of Holmfirth, to present them for everie month that they are absent from the church of Kirkburton. That the said Mr. Shirt hath read and preached in the church of Kirkburton, over several corps standing in the alley neare under the pulpit.
That the said Mr. Shirt hath not read the Act of Parliament for observinge the Lord’s day, dayes of Humilia’con and Thanksgivinge.[4]
That they continue up the Armes of the late tyrant[5] Kinge in both the churches of Kirkburton and Almonburie, contrarie to the Act of Parliament in that case made for abolishing of Kingship.
That William Hepworth is clarke of Kirkburton, and speaketh only for his owne advantage and benefit, for he hath troubled and sued severall of the poore Inhabitants of the said Chappelrie of Holmfirth, for two pence a person that were not able to goe to the church, and forced them to agree with him, for that he threatened them that he would doe mischieff to the Inhabitants of Holmfirth, if ever it lyed in his power.
That the said Inhabitants of the Chappelrie of Holmfirth hath a clarke at the said chappell, and that the said Hepworth was chosen clarke without their consent, therefore they ought to pay nothinge, for that they doe not resort to the church of Kirkburton, neither have they any benefit by him.
That Mr. Thomas Naylor, Incumbent of Almonburie, hath come forth of his owne parish to the said chappell of Holmfirth upon Lord’s-day, and reckoned with severall people for Lambs, sittinge and tippleing in a Com’on Alehouse, to the dishonor of God and evil example to others.
That the said Mr. Naylor threatened the churchwardens of the said Chappelrie for to fine them in five pounds everie man for everie month they were absent from Almonburie, and shewed them a statute, and tould them it was in force : which is repealed by Act of this present Parliament.
That several of the best and well affected of the parish of Almonburie hath and doth consent and agree with the Inhabitants of the Chappelrie of Holmfirth, that the said Chappell be made parochial], by full consent on both sides.”*
In the year 1651 or 2, the chappell was made parochial, and the chappell yard was walled in, and the doores set as they now stand ; and the yard was digged up a certain debth, and a great quantity of earth was led into it ; and the Curate or Minister there was authorized to marry, bury, &c., there ; and accordingly very many Inhabitants were buryed both in the Chappell and Chappell-yard.
When the Rev. Daniel Clarke was vicar of Kirkburton, he did condescend that ye Curate at Holmfirth should have and take the half of the tythes of Wool, Lamb, &c., of the Inhabitants of the Chappelrie, within the parish of Kirkburton, which accordingly the Curate had and enjoyed for severall years (but with some struggling); after which, ye matters in difference were referred to Wm. Bosvile and Thomas Westby, Esquires, who by their award, made in writing, under their hands and seales, did order that ye Vicar of Kirkburton should receive the tithes of the Inhabitants, and that he should pay yearly to the Curate at Holmfirth, £20 (deducting twenty shillings per ann. of the same, for and towards the four pounds payd to Dewsbury) ; which accordingly was paid for divers years. But afterwards Mr. Nathaniel Shirt refused to pay it, so doth his successor, the present vicar [Mr. Briggs], neither doth he pay any other gratuity or sum of money in lieu thereof.
And so now again the Inhabitants do pay to the Curate at Holmfirth, 5d. 8d. or 10d., some more and some less, as they please, and according to their discretion, and as they judge the Curate deserveth. And some others of the Inhabitants have gone to other Assemblyes, upon the account of Divine worship, and so have given the Curate there nothing at all.

* The foregoing petition educed the following official reply. Here, also, are subjoined a series of original evidences relating to these important changes at that period.

“By the Committee for Plundered Ministers, February 25th, 1651.

“Upon consideration of the Petition of the Inhabitants of the severall Hamlets of Wooldall, Hepworth, Cartworth, Holme, Austonley, Thonge and Scholes within the Chapelry of Holmfirth, within the vicarage of Kirkburton, in the West Riding of the county of Yorke. It is ordered, for the reasons in the said Petition contained, that the said Chappell of Holmfirth be made parochial, and the profits of the said Vicarage, arising within the said Hamlets and Chappelry, shall goe and be and allowed for and towards the maintenance of a godly and well affected Minister, to preach and officiate in the said Chappell, — unless good cause shall be showne to the contrary before the Committee, on the eighth day of April next; whereof the present Minister of Kirkburton, and all other parties concerned, are to have due notice.


This was finally determined and officially announced to the inhabitants before the close of the year.

“By the Trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers, October 29th, 1651.

“Upon hearing parties on both sides, to the inquiry made concerning the fittnes of dividing the Chappell of Holmfirth, within the parish of Kirkburton, in the county of Yorke, from the said parish: and due considera’con had of the certificate of the Com’issionrs. returned upon an inquiry made by virtue of a Com’ission under the great Seale of England, issued in that behalfe. It is ordered that upon good security given for the advanceing a competent maintenance for the Minister of Holmfirth aforesaid, in the said county, without taking anything from the vicarage of Kirkburton, or bringing any charge on the revenue, the said Chappell be divided from the said parish, and made a distinct parish of itself, endowed with such maintenance as shall be so settled and secured as aforesaid.

“R. A. HALL,

The following is an order for granting a stipend to the minister :—

“November 26th, 1651. Att the Com’ittee for Reformation of the Universities.

“Whereas, this Com’ittee, the 7th of March last, directed the Trustees for Maintenance of Ministers, the 6th of August last, to grant and pay for an Augmenta’con to such minister as shall officiate in the Chappell of Holmfirth, in the county of Yorke, the yearly sume of thirtie pounds; and this Com’ittee have this day received good certificate of the piety and abilitie of Mr. Gamaliel Appleyard, minister of the said Chappell. It is now ordered by this Com’ittee that the said yearely sume of thirtie pounds bee paid to the said Mr. Appleyard, and the said Trustees are to pay the same accordingly.


The following is a copy of the authority probably given by the churchwarden, to receive the aforesaid grant.

“October 1st, 1651.

“These are to certifie to the Right Honorable the Com’ittee, and to whom the same may concerne, that wee, the Inhabitants within the Chappelrie of Holmfirth, whose names are subscribed, do desire and empower Mr. William Williamson, clerke to the Right Honorable Sir John Bourchier, to receive one quarter of the yeare’s rent due before the date hereof formerly granted by the Honorable Com’ittee for regulating the Universities, to an able preaching Minister at Holmfirth Chappell, and to be payd by the Trustees, as by the same order may appeare to the use and behoofe of Gamaliel Appleyard, who doth officiate and preach in the said Chappell, who hath taken the engagement, and promised to be true and faithfull to this Commonwealth as it is now established. And we rest your humble servants.”

To complete the series of evidences of the Commonwealth period, connected with this ancient chapelry, I here give a copy from the original warrant given under the hands of two justices of the peace of the West-Riding, for the appointment of churchwardens to this church. One of the persons therein appointed being an ancestor of the author.

“To Thomas Morehouse, Abraham Jaggar, and Thomas Charlesworth.

“West-Riding of Yorkshire. Whereas wee, whose names are here underwritten, Justices of the Peace for the said Riding, are now certified by the Churchwardens of the Parochial Chapelry of Holmfirth, for the year last past, that the Inhabitants of the said Parochial Chapelry, have nominated and chosen you to whom these presents are directed to bee Churchwardens, or collectors of monyes for Churchdutyes, within the said Parochial Chapelry of Holmfirth, for the year following. Wee doe, therefore, according to an ordinance of Parliament, made for repairing of churches and payment of church dutyes, approve and allowe of the said nomina’con and elec’con; and doe alsoe authorize you, and nevertheless straightly charge and command you forthwith upon sight hereof, to take upon you the execu’con of the said office within your said Parochial Chapelry, for this present yeare ; and this shall be your sufficient warrant for the same; wherein faile you not, as you will answer the contrary, and avoyd the penalty and forfiture in the said Act limitted and appointed for contempt and neglect thereof.

“Given under our hands and seales, the 28th day of April, 1658.


At the restoration this church reverted to its former condition, in which it has since remained. From the increase of population, two new churches have been erected within its chapelry, and preparations are now being made for the erection of a third at Hepworth, to each of which, districts have been assigned.

This church suffered very considerable damage by a very large flood, which occurred in 1777 ; and the edifice having become much too small for the increasing population of the neighbourhood, the whole was taken down in the following year, and rebuilt in its present form, with the exception of the tower, which was erected at a somewhat later period, when a peal of six bells was added.

The present church is a large and commodious building in the Grecian style, but the tower, at the east end, is Gothic, with four crocketted pinnacles. In the interior it has two aisles, a chancel, and three galleries : the one at the west end contains a powerful and excellent toned organ.

The whole is preserved with neatness and order.

The situation of the church is very objectionable, it is crowded on every side with buildings; and by its projection into the street, renders one of the principal thoroughfares of the town very narrow and dangerous.

By an order in council dated 7th May, 1858, this church was constituted a perpetual curacy and district parish.

A Catalogue of the Curates of Holmfirth Chapel [Church], from the Reformation to the Present Time.

Humfray Castel, Thomas Didsburye, ___ Whywell, ___ Stancliffe, ___ Hoyle — These were “successively curates here at £6 18s. 4d. per ann. in money, and sent some persons up and down the chappelrye, for what wool and oats the inhabitants would give them.”

___ Lord — “The inhabitants agreed to give him £12 per ann.,” as “he esteemed it too low or base a thing to go from house to house for such wool and oats as the inhabitants would give him; and did desire them to let him have it all in money.”

Henry Hoult was next curate here, “with whom the inhabitants agreed to give him £10.” He continued curate here for about twelve years, till his death. He was buried 28th October, 1600.

Adam Mellor was the next, with whom they agreed also to give £10 per ann. He resigned on being inducted to the rectory of Cumberworth, on the presentation of Matthew Wentworth, of Bretton Hall, Esq., in 1602.

John Farney succeeded, “to whom the inhabitants gave £10 per ann., and wool and oats as aforesaid.”

Nathaniel Hunt was the next appointed ; but resigned.

Edward Broadehead became his successor : he also resigned.

John Hall was the immediate successor, and is supposed to have resigned. Nicholas Greaves, M.A., succeeded Mr. Hall : but resigned. He was afterwards presented to the rectory of Tankersley, on the 26th May, 1634, by John Kaye, of Woodsome, Esq., where he died.

Stephen Owen was the next. The five last-mentioned “received the same as Mr. John Farney.”

William Broadhead was next in succession. “The inhabitants agreed to give him about £20 per ann., and eight shillings payd by some persons that dwelt in houses built nigh the chappel.” He resigned.

John Binns, M.A., was the next. He was curate here about nine years, till his death in 1646.

Gamaliel Appleyard, B.A., was here in 1647, and it is therefore probable he was Mr. Binns’s immediate successor. He took the “engagement,” and he seems to have remained here till near the Restoration.

Thomas Didsbury was curate here in 1664.

John Savile was curate here, where he died, and was interred 12th February, 1685.

Edmund Robinson, M.A., was Mr. Savile’s immediate successor. He resided at Bank End, in Thurstonland: where more may be found concerning him.

Thomas Blythe was curate here in 1700. It is probable he immediately succeeded Mr. Robinson. He died here, and was buried 5th August, 1705.

___ Trighles was curate here in 1707.

William Thompson was appointed curate on the 25th March, 1711, and took possession on the 20th May following. He remained here till his death, on the 17th March, and was buried on the 19th, 1743 ; aged about 60 years. “He was interred under the communion table in the chapel ; Mr. Croft, of Honley, read the service. His funeral was attended by a numerous class of friends.”

John Harrop, B.A., was inducted on the 31st July, 1743. He died February 6th, 1795, aged 75 years.

Richard Cruttwell, LL.B., was appointed on the death of Mr. Harrop, and was succeeded by

The Rev. Richard Ebenezer Leach, the present incumbent, who has also been appointed a surrogate for the proving of wills.

Monumental Inscriptions.

M. S. Reverendi Johannis Harrop, Aub. Cath. Cantab., A.B., hujus Capellae de Holmfirth, per annos quinquagenta et quinque[6] Pastor fidelissimus extetit: Sacra Dei sanctissime coluit: Maritus optimus amicus carus. Suis amandus. Yixit omnibus defletus, obiit 6° Februarii, A.D. 1795 ; aetat 75.
Sarah, wife of James Harrop, of Holmfirth, daughter of the late John Kenworthy, of Hades, she departed this life April 10th, 1805 ; aged 46 years. Also the said James Harrop, son of the Rev. John Harrop, died 7th May, 1811 ; aged 54 years.
Sarah, wife of Thomas Dransfield, of Wooldale, died 25th April, 1829 ; aged 68 years. Also the said Thomas Dransfield, died 16th October, 1841 ; aged 84 years.
Joshua Wilson, of Holmfirth, died 23 October, 1768 ; aged 85 years. Also John Harrop, died 20th April, 1778 ; aged 23 years. John Wilson died 21st April, 1778 ; aged 60 years. Also Joseph Harrop, died 20th September, 1787 ; aged 23 years. Rachel, the daughter of Joshua Wilson, of Holmfirth, died 7th August, 1790 ; aged 71 years. Also Sarah, the wife of the Rev. John Harrop, departed this life 6th August, 1792 ; aged 71 years.
Frances, wife of John Wimpenny, of Booth House, died April 28th, 1804 ; aged 90 years. Also the said John Wimpenny, died July 14th, 1804 ; aged 90 years.
Hannah, wife of John Kenworthy, of Hades, died March 25th, 1780 ; aged 62 years. The said John Kenworthy died May 25th, 1785; aged 65 years.
The Rev. Joseph Broadhurst, of Holme, died 21st November, 1806; aged 57 years.
Hannah, wife of Joseph Hinchliff, of Stand Bank, died June 17th, 1812.
Cookson Stephenson, of Sands, departed this life February 29th, 1828; aged 61 years. Mary, his wife, died 22nd May, 1822 ; aged 59 years.
Sarah, wife of William Stephenson, of Holmfirth, solicitor, second daughter of the late Mr. Wordsworth, of Thorp Heys, surgeon ; she died 5th July, 1833, aged 37 years. Also the said William Stephenson, died 28th November, 1841 ; aged 46 years.
James Farrar, of Prickleden, died the 5th September, 1826 ; aged 52 years. Thomas, eldest son of James and Ann Farrar, died April 16th, 1836 ; aged 38 years.
Rebecca, wife of Benjamin Bates, of Winney Bank, died June 8th, 1797 ; aged 80 years. Benjamin, son of the above Benjamin Bates, died 9th March, 1776 ; aged 24 years. Hannah, daughter of the said Benjamin Bates, died March 17th, 1804 ; aged 60 years. Also the above Benjamin Bates, died April 23rd, 1808 ; aged 92 years.
Mary Green, widow of Christopher Green, of Austonley, died 5th of November, 1763, in the 80th year of her age. Anthony Green, of Austonley, died 8th of March, 1798, in the 78th year of his age. Edmund Green, of Austonley, died 26th of January, 1799, in the 77th year of his age. James Green, of Green House, died 27th of August, 1799, in the 73rd year of his age. Sarah, wife of the abovesaid Edmund Green, died September 27th, 1804 ; aged 77 years.
James Whiteley, of Lower Mill, October 4th, 1844 ; aged 64 years.
Mary, wife of Joseph Leak, of Holme, died September 16th, 1782 ; aged 20 years. The said Joseph Leak, died October 13th, 1831 ; aged 79 years.
Jonathan Brook, of Shaley, died July 12th, 1800 ; aged 68 years. Mary, wife of the said Jonathan Brook, died June 22nd, 1815 ; aged 77 years.
Mary, wife of William Duckenfield, died November 12th, 1822 ; aged 69 years. The said William Duckenfield, died April 3rd, 1829; aged 80 years.
Thomas Bray, of Cinderhills, died June 2nd, 1761 ; aged 73 years. Mary, wife of John Bray, of Back Lane, died April 26th, 1781 ; aged 50 years. The said John Bray, died July 21st, 1800 ; aged 76 years.
Martha, wife of Joshua Smith, of Hill, died March 2nd, 1774, in the 57th year of her age. The said John Smith, died March 15th, 1780 ; aged 64 years.
John Lockwood, of Moss Edge, January 1st 1822 ; aged 85 years. Martha, wife of the said John Lockwood, died January 24th, 1823 ; aged 67 years.
Sarah, wife of Robert Ramsden, of Cliff, died January 6th, 1848 ; aged 59 years.
John Hampshire, of Broad Lane, died January 12th, 1799 ; aged 66 years. Hannah, wife of the said John Hampshire, died May 3rd, 1812 ; aged 73 years.
John Hampshire, of Upperthong, died April 15th, 1830 ; aged 70 years. Mary, wife of the said John Hampshire, died March 1st, 1855 ; aged 77 years.
Rachel, wife of Edmund Leak, of Ramsden, died August 26th,. 1813 ; aged 32 years. William Leak, of Bawshaw, died February 17th, 1837; aged 82 years. The abovesaid Edmund Leak, died May 17th, 1844, in the 79th year of his age.
John Whitehead, of Upper Bridge, died December 26th, 1786 ; aged 72 years. Lydia, his wife, died August 3rd, 1789 ; aged 73 years.
Joshua Beardsell, of Underbank, died March 24th, 1833, aged 66 years.
Joseph Charlesworth, of this town, died 27th January, 1822 ; aged 61 years. Also Penelope, his wife, died 28th June, 1841 ; aged 72 years.
Ruth, wife of Joseph Charlesworth, died 16th September, 1830; aged 42 years. Also Anne, his second wife, died May 31st, 1851; aged 58 years. The said Joseph Charlesworth, died April 10th, 1852 ; aged 59 years.
Sarah, daughter of George and Sarah Farrar, of Prickleden, died 2nd June, 1827 ; aged 23 years. James HinchlifF, their son, died June 5th, 1830 ; aged 22 years. Joseph, their son, died December 2nd, 1832 ; aged 30 years. The said George Farrar, died May 6th, 1838 ; aged 65 years. Also Sarah, his wife, died 20th August, 1849 ; aged 72 years. John Hobson, son of the above-named George and Sarah Farrar, died June 3rd, 1854 ; aged 43 years.
James Stocks, surgeon, Holmfirth, died April 18th, 1832 ; aged 51 years. Ann, his wife, died August 4th, 1843; aged 57 years. John Howard, of Wood-hey Barn, died April 5th, 1825; aged 64 years. Mary, his wife, died April 16th, 1853 ; aged 90 years. Mary, wife of Francis Littlewood, of Upper-bridge, died June 14th, 1807; aged 56 years. The said Francis Littlewood, died April 21st, 1837; aged 85 years.
Josias Wordsworth, of Holmfirth, surgeon, died March 19th, 1807; aged 72 years. Elizabeth, his wife, died February 4th, 1811 ; aged 74 years.
Matthew Bower, of Upperbridge, died September 28th, 1829; aged 61 years. Mary, his wife, died March 27th, 1849 ; aged 77 years. John Boothroyd, of Holmfirth, died February 25th, 1825 ; aged 76 years. Nancy, wife of Richard Boothroyd, died March 11th, 1854; aged 80 years. The said Richard Boothroyd died April 17th, 1856 ; aged 83 years.
Alice, wife John Hinchliff, of Cross, died April 20th, 1843 ; aged 68 years. The said John HinchlifF, died March 25th, 1844 ; aged 70 years.

The register books for baptisms and burials commence in 1797.

For the endowment see appendix.

The Rushbearing.

In connexion with the chapelry may be mentioned the Rushbearing, which, a century ago, constituted one of the popular holidays and annual exhibitions of the district. It has been discontinued nearly eighty years.

For an account of the manner in which the Rush Carts were prepared and decorated, and for a description of the whole cavalcade, the author was indebted to the late Mr. Joseph Holmes[7], of Underbank, near Holmfirth ; and these are the more interesting as describing probably the last of these exhibitions here.

One of the most gorgeous displays of rural and vulgar pastime, which has now been discontinued above fifty years, was the Rushbearing. These gaudy and even costly amusements were not peculiar to our district, being common at that time at least in several parts of Lancashire and Cheshire.
To have any just idea of the imposing scene, a person must have been present ; words may represent the preparations and general process in getting up this grand show, but to see the idol in all its splendour, is vastly more striking. I have seen numbers, sometimes from three to seven in one day, got up in different hamlets, but all terminating at one point — Holmfirth parochial chapel.
Here the demolition took place, and the rushes were distributed in the different pews—perhaps by the occupiers of those pews, or by their orders ; which being during harvest time, the chapel having only a mud floor, must have been a very comfortable preparation for winter.
In preparing the Rush Cart much care and management were required : a common cart was used, upon which the rushes were built in the form of a loaded coach, or cart load of hay, overhanging both sides and ends, especially the latter.
The builder (a connoisseur, no doubt), being provided with several loads of rushes, cut and brought from the commons, together with small rods for prickers, and also cords. His assistants form the rushes into small tight bundles ; with these he fills the body of the cart, carrying up the sides and ends as already mentioned, to a considerable height, securing the whole by prickers and cord. Then the entire surface is shorn in the most regular and even manner, and the ends ornamented like carving. All this is only the mere groundwork. The ornamental part now commences. This consists of all the flowers the season and the surrounding gardens can supply, arranged with all the ingenuity and taste the builder is master of ; the whole being sprinkled with tinsel ornament.
Now for the procession. Here is the greatest attention to display. If the pageant is to be drawn along by horses, they are caparisoned with all conceivable splendour. But the Rush Cart is often drawn by young men. A fine clean linen shirt covers their other vestments ; this is all over ornamented with ribbons of every shade and colour, put on in every imaginable form : these are furnished by their relations, sweethearts, or by any of whom they can borrow for the occasion. When it is not drawn by men, they are employed to ride on horseback, decked out in a similar manner, and furnished with muskets, which they fire at short intervals : these precede the carriage. The procession is announced by beat of drum, — bands of music were not common here till the termination of the late French war. An old drummer from about Huddersfield, called Marlborough (from having served under that great general), was often engaged for these occasions.
One of these displays from Scholes, perhaps the last from that village, was preceded by from twenty to forty horsemen, equipped as above. It took place between sixty and seventy years ago ; I myself saw and accompanied the procession.

The Town of Holmfirth.

This town[8] is singularly situated in a deep and narrow valley on the river Holme, surrounded by three stupendous hills ; two of which having bold and irregular surfaces, rise rapidly from the banks of the streams to a considerable height; while the third, rising from the river with a more regular ascent to a less elevation, presents a verdant and pleasing aspect.

Holmfirth stands upon the verge of three townships, viz. : Wooldale, Cartworth, and Upperthong. The two former of these are separated by the Ribbleden brook, the last from them by the river Holme : but connected by three bridges.

Perhaps the first nucleus of a village here may date from the circumstance of the erection of the lord’s mill, for the grinding of the corn of the inhabitants of the graveship.

The more ancient, as well as the most populous part of the town, lies within the Wooldale division ; which comprises also the Underbank and Gully, — being a continuation of the same bold, ragged, and precipitous front, extending along the Ribbleden valley. At a somewhat higher elevation is seen the bold and rocky outline of Wooldale cliff ; beneath which, and along the Underbank, extending down into the valley, are numerous houses and groups of cottages, forming irregular terraces, which rise in rapid succession, crowding and overtopping each other, giving to the place a singularly striking, but not a prepossessing appearance.

The streets here are narrow, winding, steep, and dangerous, except along the turnpike roads, where a greater width is preserved, and where the houses are built with more regularity. In this part of the town stands the church, which is of ancient foundation.

On the Ribbleden turnpike road stands the National School, a large substantial building, erected in the year 1826, at a cost of £1,300, and which will contain three hundred and fifty scholars.

On the north entrance of the town is the Railway Station, and terminus of the Holmfirth branch of the Huddersfield and Penistone Railway, belonging to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company. This line was opened in 1850 ; since which time this part of the town has undergone considerable improvement by the erection of a number of superior houses and shops, and a large handsome hotel (Victoria), near to the station, built by Bentley Shaw, Esq., of Woodfield House, Lockwood. At a short distance also stands the “Druids’ Hall,” a large substantial building, erected by one of the secret orders — the “Druids” — at a cost of £1,800.

That part of the town which lies within Cartworth is comparatively small, and not having undergone much modern improvement, its appearance is very similar to the older part of the town already mentioned.

The most regularly built part of the town, as well as the more modern, is that within the township of Upperthong, sometimes called Newtown, together with Upperbridge. The streets here are wider, and the houses built with greater regularity.

The Huddersfield and Woodhead turnpike road passes through this part of the town, and runs parallel with the river. The east and west sides of the river are connected by three public bridges. The Victoria Bridge, and the handsomely built street of the same name, form the principal thoroughfare between the two sides.

Gas works were constructed here in 1840, for the supply of the town and neighbourhood with gas.

The Town Hall.

The History and Topography of the Parish of Kirkburton and of the Graveship of Holme (1861) - figure 24.png

Is a handsome structure, built in 1842, at the cost of £2,200, raised in shares.

In this part of the town is St. John’s Church. The Independent Dissenters, the Wesleyan Methodists, and Wesleyan Reformers have each handsome and commodious chapels. To each of these places of worship are attached Sunday schools. These will be more particularly noticed under the township of Upper-thong.

The Holmfirth Mechanics’ Institute was founded in 1844, and the Church of England Literary Society was established in 1847. Both are well supported.

Holmfirth was constituted, in 1837, one of the polling places for the election of parliamentary representatives of the West-Riding.

The magistrates of the district hold their Petty Sessions every alternate Saturday. The County Court for the Holmfirth district is held monthly in the Town Hall.

A Police Station containing three cells, with the inspector’s house, was built here in 1857, out of the fund of the county rate, at the cost of £1,000.

There is a society for the prosecution of felons : founded in 1813.

Three fairs are held in the year, viz., on the Saturday before the 31st March, Saturday after the 4th May, and the last Saturday in October. The first fair held at Holmfirth was in October, 1725.

The town of Holmfirth contains about 5,000 inhabitants.

Tradesmen's Tokens.

During the Commonwealth and in the early part of the reign of Charles II., many tradesmen were under the necessity of issuing halfpence, owing to the great scarcity of copper money; but in 1672, the government issued afresh supply, when the “tokens” were cried down by proclamation.

The History and Topography of the Parish of Kirkburton and of the Graveship of Holme (1861) - figure 25.png

We have been able to discover only one token issued here at that period. The only specimen we have seen is, unfortunately, imperfect, having lost the impression of one side, containing the name of the person by whom it had been issued. The side which is comparatively perfect, has the initials of the person’s name, and those of his wife, as shown in the subjoined sketch.

Mr. Jessop records in his diary, in 1740, September 17th, having received a “token,” which had been issued from Almonbury : “It is one of Nicholas Greaves’[9] (of Almonbury) half-pennies; it was coined in 1668, when shopkeepers had liberty to coin half-pennies.”


  1. “The old chapell contained about 480 seats, the new one 132 seats more, making in all 612 seats, which, at ten pence per sitting, amounted to £25 10s.”
  2. See more respecting him, at Bank-end, in Thurstonland.
  3. In the parish register of Almonbury the following circumstance is recorded, which seems to confirm what is here said:— “This year (1634-5), almost the whole winter was remarkable for frost and cold; the snow was in such abundance and so drifted, that it was scarcely possible to go out of doors to the corn mill or the butchers. Many travellers perished in the storm, through hunger and cold. At which time the inhabitants of Over-Thong bringing for burial the corpse of Marmaduke Pepper, were detained in Honley, and brought it to the church the following day. This winter was much colder than that of the year 1614 ; so that it might be justly called the greatest, the severest, and longest. It began on the 10th January, and lasted till the 3rd March.”
  4. Mr. Shirt was of a Presbyterian family, and did not sympathise with the party then in power, who had recently put Charles I. to death.
  5. The word “tyrant” has a dash put through it, in paler ink, in the original MS. copy from which I quote, and it may therefore be considered as objectionable to the views of some at least of the parties subscribing.
  6. This is an error : he was fifty-one years incumbent.
  7. He was a schoolmaster. The account was written in 1838. He died at an advanced age.
  8. In designating Holmfirth a "Town," it must not be understood in the literal sense of the word. Strictly speaking it is neither town, village, nor hamlet; neither does it possess any defined boundary.
  9. This Nicholas Greaves seems to have been the son of the Rev. Nicholas Greaves, who had been incumbent of Holmfirth, in 1630; afterwards rector of Tankersley, to which he had been appointed by John Kaye, of Woodsome, Esq.

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