The History and Topography of the Parish of Kirkburton and of the Graveship of Holme (1861) by Henry James Morehouse
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.
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.”
* 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.”
* 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.JOHN HIRST,
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
* 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:—
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.
* 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.“HEN. TEMPEST,
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.
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.
The register books for baptisms and burials commence in 1797.
For the endowment see appendix.
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, of Underbank, near Holmfirth ; and these are the more interesting as describing probably the last of these exhibitions here.
This town 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.
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.
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.
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’ (of Almonbury) half-pennies; it was coined in 1668, when shopkeepers had liberty to coin half-pennies.”