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P. 538, col. 1, twenty lines from the bottom, for "voluntary," read voluntarily,
History of the Presbyterian Chapel, Dukinfield, Cheshire, with the Succession of its Ministers.
ITH the commencement of tation in this place by a Mr. Barlow,
Mary began a system of moderation towards the scruples of Nonconformity, which greatly relaxed the ecclesiastical arrogance of the preceding sovereign. Episcopacy was abolished in Scotland, and toleration granted to Dissenters from the Established Church in England. The Act of Toleration was passed in 1689, and immediately after this, the Dissenters in all parts of the kingdom began to erect edifices exclusively adapted to their own forms of worship. As we have no earlier era to which the antiquity of any of our chapels can be referred, so a great number of them have their date about the commencement of the succeeding century. This in Dukinfield was erected, as appears by an inscription over the southern entrance, in 1707, upon a most beautiful and commanding eminence. A school was also about the same time built near to the chapel, but this was taken down some fifty years ago, to give the former building all the advantage of its peculiarly fine
This school is said to have flourished very much, particularly under the mastership of Domini Gee, specimens of whose superior penmanship in the Italian court-hand of that period, are yet in preservation. It is not unworthy of remark, that the widow of Domini Gee's son is yet a resident in the village, and possesses comparatively strong mental and corporeal energy, now in her 101st year. Not long ago, she was invited to the house of one of her descendants, where a meeting took place at a tea party of five generations in the same family. One of her grandsons is now the stone-cutter and officiating sexton belonging to the chapel-yard. Previous to this school, a seminary for the education of young gentlemen had been conducted with great repu4 3
in very great esteem. Indeed, such was his widely extended reputation, that several London merchants, as well as the neighbouring gentlemen, sent their sons to be educated by him. Amongst his pupils from London, a son of the celebrated critic John Dennis, was of the number. This boy is reported to have been a great oddity, whose peculiarities contributed in no small degree to the mirth of his associates.
As Colonel Dukinfield had taken so conspicuous a part in the troubles which happened in Charles the First's time, it may naturally be inferred that his son Robert, the first Baronet of that name, was not adverse to the efforts of the Dissenters in his neighbourhood, when they united their exertions for the purpose of completing the present structure. He gave them a lease for three lives (as the then custom of the manor happened to be) of the land whereon the chapel now stands, besides great part of the materials, free of expense. And although this lease was never renewed, no resumption of his right and title in the freehold was ever claimed by him or any of his descendants.
About the year 1767, this township and several other great estates belonging to the Dukinfield family passed into the possession of the father of the present proprietor, F. D. Astley, Esq., whose conduct towards the Dukinfield congregation has been marked with greater liberality than that even of any of his predecessors. He has added a large portion of land to augment the chapel yard, and, besides encouraging by his subscription an addition to the chapel of a newlyerected vestry and organ gallery above it, he has in the most disinterested manner conveyed the whole of the premises to trustees, in perpetuity for
the purpose of appropriating the chapel to the worship of God, unshackled by creeds and untrammeled by any vague dogma whatever.
There is an endowment belonging to the chapel, consisting of a freehold estate of about thirty-three statute acres, left thereto by Mr. James Heywood. He had acquired a competency in the village as a woollen-draper, and was one of the most ardent promoters of the undertaking. His name and that of his wife are yet remaining over the north and south doors of the chapel. They had an only son and heir, who, dying seven years after the chapel was completed, this estate was by them vested in feoffees, and the issues and profits of it appropriated to the augmentation of the minister's salary, and to the repairs of the chapel, so long as divine worship continues there to be celebrated.
The building of this chapel was attended with no common satisfaction to the harassed and persecuted Dissenters just emancipated from the fetters of the five-mile act, and that for the suppression of conventicles. Tradition can yet point out the place in a neighbouring wood, where on days set apart, under the watch of centinels, and at night fall, when they were less likely to be observed, the proscribed ministers were met by their faithful adherents, when the pious service of prayer, praise and exhortation had no other walls to surround it but the oaken thicket, and no other roof for its protection but the canopy of heaven. There was an additional satisfaction resulting from the completion of this structure, of which only its founders could be duly sensible. The Rev. Samuel Angier, nephew and formerly assistant to the Rev. John Angier, of Denton, was now a resident in the township, on an estate yet known as "Angier's tenement.' He lost no time in availing himself of the Toleration Act, to license his out-housing, and there he resumed his long-interrupted ministerial functions. The hay-loft was fitted up as a temporary gallery, and the family of the "Hall" were not ashamed there, surrounded by their tenantry, to attend upon his ministry.
He was the first pastor who dedicated this chapel to the worship of
God, and continued to discharge the sacred duties of his profession for about six years. A register in his hand-writing is yet extant, containing not only memoranda interesting to the congregation, but notices of remarkable events connected with that period, whether of local or national occurrence. An interleaved Bible purchased by him when a student at Christ Church, Oxon, in 3 vols. 4to. and dated 1662, is in the possession of the present writer. It is scarcely necessary to remark, that it is enriched by his notes and classical references in the course of frequent perusal down to the period of 1697. It exhibits its first possessor as a pious and diligent peruser, a candid inquirer, and a learned and critical annotator of the Holy Scriptures. He was interred at the south end of the chapel, and a Latin inscription, very beautifully engraved on his tombstone, designates with great propriety his character. A copy of this is to be found at the end of Calamy's Nonconformists' Memorial.
Mr. Angier's successor was the Rev. William Buckley. He happened to possess a patrimonial estate in the township, and when young, became enamoured of a daughter of the Baronet, whose demesne land lay contiguous to his own. The parties were prevented ratifying that union so much coveted by both, and the lady died soon after (in lovers' language) of a broken heart. He afterwards married a half-sister of the Baronet's, a daughter of Colonel Dukinfield in his old age, by a third wife, whose maiden name was Bottomley. The children of this marriage, six in number, are altogether omitted in the pedigrees of the family, as they are detailed in the Baronetage of the kingdom, One of the children, a brother of Mrs. Buckley's, Joseph Dukinfield, was educated as a Dissenting minister, but at the sugges tion of the then Archbishop of York, who promised to provide for him if he would conform, he was induced so to do, and became Rector of Felix Kirk, in the Archdeaconry of Cleveland, of which living the Archbishop is the patron.
Mr. Buckley was minister nearly forty years, and the subjoined docu
He has been mentioned as possess ing an influence over the manners and conduct of the inhabitants almost unbounded. An old native of the village described it to the present writer in the following manner: "If he shook his stick at the Hall Green, (the place of his residence,) the boys trembled as far as the town lane end" (distant half a mile). His tomb is near that of Mr. Angier, and is inscribed with an epitaph commemorative of his worth and usefulness.
After the loss of Mr. Buckley, a lamentable series of congregational divisions occur, and a manifest want of suitability in the ministers that were chosen to succeed him. Mr. Burgess and Mr. Stopford divided the congregation, but neither of them stayed long. The Rev. R. Robinson was next appointed, who left his previous situation at Congleton to settle here. He seems to have possessed much fondness for appearing before the public as an author. At Congleton he preached a sermon against “Popish Projectors," and drew up a small" Scripture Catechism," both of which he published. He removed from Dukinfield to Dob Lane, near Manchester, and there printed two sermons occasioned by the then high price of corn. This put him to some inconvenience, as it drew upon him the animosity of the interested and rich speculators in that commodity. His next removal was to Hatherlow Chapel, where he entered into an agreement with a Manchester printer, of the name of Whitworth, to edite for him a copy of the Bible. It was to appear in numbers, and he procured a diploma of D. D., that his name might come before the public with more advantage in the title-page of the work. He was interred in his own orchard at the parsonage of Ha
therlow, where his place of sepulture is yet to be seen.
The next was Mr. Gladstone, a Scotchman, whose extreme culpability in seducing the servant woman of the gentleman in whose house he boarded, soon drove him away. The next was the Rev. Mr. Helmie, who came to this place from St. Helens, in Lancashire, and, conformably to the wishes of the congregation, he was induced to resign in favour of the Rev. William Buckley, the only son of their former so much esteemed pastor. Mr. Buckley had quitted trade to which he had been destined, and at a mature age devoted himself to an academical education, for the purpose of healing the divisions of the congregation as their minister. He prosecuted his studies at Daventry, under the care of Dr. Ashworth, then the theological tutor,* for whose character he always expressed the highest regard. The tea-cup and saucer used by him at Daventry were the constant accompaniment of his breakfast service through the remaining part of his life. His ministerial labours were continued for about twentyseven years, and like a good pastor elsewhere,
He ne'er had changed nor wished to
change his place."
His studious, and sedentary habits in advanced life, rendered him too nervous and unfit to discharge his pastoral duties either with comfort to himself, or that satisfaction he had been accustomed to give to his flock. His resignation, therefore, elevated him in the esteem of those around him. He had through life sustained a most blameless and respectable character, was much esteemed by his brethren in the ministry, and the last mournful office that consigned his remains to the tomb was performed by his most particular friend the late Dr. Barnes. It may be remarked of this congregation generally, that the pastor has always been a character venerated and beloved by them, but the high priest has excited feelings of a contrary description.
Mr. Buckley's successor was a young man of much promise, from the academy at Swansea, the Rev.
See Mon. Repos. XVII. 164.
David Davies. Of him much was the hope, and great the encouragement that awaited his exertions. Unfortunately, habits of inebriety, early imbibed, blasted the promise of much utility. He became unfitted for his situation, and, quitting the country, it is said he died abroad. Of the succeeding ministers brief notices will only be given, as they are all alive, and most of them in the regular discharge of their allotted duties elsewhere. The Rev. Thomas Smith quitted this place after a two years' residence, and accepted a similar appointment at Stand, in Pilkington, where the literary society of the neighbourhood contributed for many years to his satisfaction. He published, besides an Essay on Avarice, in prose, two volumes of poetry, containing great evidence of a tender and fervent feeling operating upon a vigorous understanding. He removed from thence to Risley, and from the latter place to Park Lane, near Wigan. Some time ago he quitted his last situation and the ministry together. He now resides in the neighbourhood of Chester, near the place of his nativity, and divides his estimable society, when allured from the bosom of his family, amongst a few select friends long known, and long approved.
He was followed by the Rev. William Tate, who with brighter prospects after a half year's residence here, quitted the place for Chorley, where he now remains.
The next successor was the Rev. James Hawkes. He was the second minister this congregation received from Congleton. Accustomed when quite a youth to the tuition of children, he turned his attention to the instruction of the younger members of his flock, and immediately after his connexion with this society, commenced a Sunday-school. His success in this undertaking was more than he at first could anticipate. In a few years, more children attended than any private room could accommodate, and the necessity of a building to be appropriated to this purpose became every day more apparent. Mr. Hawkes had very judiciously commenced a small fund, accumulated from the children's halfpence who attended the school. This became a nest egg to the larger contributions of
the neighbourhood, and soon after was erected, in 1810, the Dukinfield Sunday-school. He remained long enough to see this design completed, but not to its present extent. Another floor has since been added, consisting of a large room over the whole of the premises, as a farther accommodation to the children, or occasionally a lecture-room for more general purposes. He removed to Lincoln, and carried with him the regrets of a large circle of young friends, many of whom will never forget the advantage his instructions were so well calculated to afford. His present residence is with the congregation at Nantwich.
After Mr. Hawkes, the Rev. Joseph Ashton here commenced his ministerial duties, it being his first settlement with a congregation after the completion of his academical course at York. He possesses many valuable requisites for great public utility, from which the Knutsford society, where he is at present settled, will doubtless derive much advantage.
The present minister is the Rev. John Gaskell, who completed his course of study at the University of Glasgow. His first settlement was at Thorne, then a newly-raised society, through the exertions of Mr. Wright, the Missionary. He united himself with this congregation about four years ago, and has a wide field of usefulness here opened before him.
THINK your correspondent E. (pp. 289, 290) too readily admits the inferential reasoning of Mr. Gurney, which is evidently founded on a misapprehension, or too literal acceptation of Jewish phraseology. If any of the Jews have degenerated in their original opinions concerning God, his Word, and his Messiah, it must be such Jews as Da Costa, his cousin Cappadoce, and other converts to the Platonic doctrine of a tripartite God. As to the pretended discovery of the sentiments of the old Rabbins, "respecting the Trinity and the divinity of the Messiah," the statement involves (like the heading of your correspondent's letter) a taking-for-granted of the very points to be proved; namely, the fact, that the old Jews ever dreamed of any Trinity at all, and the fact that they had any con