By Stanley Merridew
visiting Silsden Library on my quest for War Memorials I came across a real
SILSDEN PRIMITIVE METHODISTS by W J
Robson published in 1910
It gives a
detailed history of the Primitive Methodism movement within the former Silsden
Primitive Methodist Circuit. This included
chapels at the following places:
Addingham, Farnhill, Steeton, Cowling, Sutton in Craven, Eastburn &
interest to those with Wharfedale ancestors is the Addingham Chapel. The author states that, as with most early
Primitive Methodist communities, the early meetings would have been held in the
open air, but very early on they used a room at the Crown Inn. Surprising, given their abhorrence of strong
suggests the last link with those early days was a Mrs Richardson who died 13th February 1909 in her 79th
year. This could be Elllen Richardson born Addingham, shown in the 1901
census living at 4 Cross End with her husband William born Skyreholme. Previously I found her in the 1861 Census,
still single, living with her parents, John & Rachel Wilkinson, at “Rookery” in Addingham. By 1871 her husband William was also
there. Their marriage was not in the
parish church and unfortunately the Methodist records for Addingham at this
date have not survived. Ellen died as a
result of a fall at home and is buried in Addingham churchyard. Mi?
Mary Wall, born 12 Nov 1804, the daughter of
William and Grace Wall, was another early convert. According to the author, she was brought by
her Uncle William Procter, who was a
member of the Wesleyan movement. Mary
died young, on the 23rd July 1828. Her
burial is shown in the parish register on 24th July, age 24, living
at Walmsley Bridge. Other early converts
were Elizabeth Rooking who died in
June 1832 aged just 24 and Ellen Booth who died in 1847 aged 17.
the Quarterly Meeting reports in 1830 that “Bros Gill, Page and Fletcher of Silsden and Kenyon, Robinson, Smith and Brayshaw of Addingham form a committee
and do their best in getting a chapel at Addingham. In 1832 a Sunday school was started and
services were at this time held at Addingham Low Mill.
There is no
other mention of this until 1837 when it stated in the Circuit Report that
congregation at Addingham had purchased a plot of land and intended to build a
chapel. Then in 1838, “200 circulars are
to be printed……..and Messrs Butcher
and Fletcher follow these circulars
to raise subscriptions for the chapel.”
They must have succeeded as by 1839 the chapel was opened. However, there were several occasions when
appeals were made far and wide to help maintain the building, collections at
many of the local chapels and further afield.
One request was to the Manchester District.
In 1844 the
secretary was Jos. Harrison and the
treasurer was J Lister with T Gelard as his assisitant. There is further mention of Thomas Gelard,
“The former part of his life was spent wickedly in the Army abroad.” From 1839 until he died in 1848 he was the
In 1893 the
new trustees were J Newton, J Leadley ( Minister), A Gill, J Walmsley, GB
Prior, FH Smith, D Cotton, J Roe, J Clennie, T Jackson, R Fletcher, T Fletcher,
T Green, S Lund, B Binns. Many of these
may have been circuit officials from Silsden as several of the names do not
appear at a quick glance in the 1891 census for the village.
a Sale of Work was held, I assume to boost the chapel funds and Hebden Wall gave a calf for sale and a
resident named Williamson gave a bag
of soot and a bag of turnips. This could
have been John Williamson of School Bridge Back Street as his occupation is
shown as chimney sweep in the 1881 census.
There was a
custom within the Methodist communities to provide the preachers with their
meals as many had travelled long distances, probably of foot, there and
back. The author mentions Mr Barber (possibly Samuel), farmer of
Home House Farm carried out this function for many years. Later Nathan Smith (Main Street) formerly of
Silsden, continued this until his death.
Then Hannah Pickard, wife of
Abel, opened her home to the preachers.
also mentions individuals and families who have held positions such as class
leader, collectors for the missionary cause, stewards etc. These include: Barber, Brayshaw, Dunn, Ellis,
Harkness, Harrison, Hebden, Moorhouse, Parkinson, Prior, Walmsley, West,
Wynn. One former official, J Steele,
went to Australia and died there.
produced several notable preachers who travelled the circuit. The author named the following: Flesher
Bland, Mark Robinson (who later emigrated to America), Sarah Brayshaw, Ann
Robinson, W Hebden, T Tattersall, J Richardson, A Myers, A Dunn, J Read, J
Robinson, R Jarman.
gives Sarah Brayshaw special mention.
She was born in Addingham 10th February 1808, became a
preacher in 1831 and covered a wide
area, taking in the Grassington, Skipton, Keighley, Bingley and Otley circuits,
mainly on foot. She died 22nd
January 1890. The author devoted over
two pages to her, so if she is “one of yours” you are very fortunate.
family also get special mention. John Prior was awarded the sum of thirty
guineas in 1798 by the Society for Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and
Commerce. He was the first to invent an
escapement for watches. Later in 1811
his son George was awarded ten guineas for creating the striking mechanism on a
clock. Both awards would have been small
fortunes at that time. Evidently he was
asked to add the striking mechanism to Keighley Parish Church for a fee. After fitting they failed to pay him, so he
removed it until they settled. George
had a jewellery and watchmaking business in Leeds and is buried at Woodhouse
Moor. His gravestone states he was a
native of Nesfield.,
tale recounts how Abe Steel, a trombone player at the chapel who had lost his front
teeth, decided he would be able to play better with false teeth. So he made himself a set out of wood! However, not surprisingly, they failed to