Milton: Nonconformity

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Milton: Nonconformity', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds, (London, 1989) pp. 190. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol9/p190 [accessed 18 April 2024]

NONCONFORMITY

The lord, Henry Cook, was a confirmed recusant, being regularly presented for absence from church from 1579, (fn. 1) and his land being leased by the Exchequer in the 1590s. (fn. 2) His son John was likewise a recusant after 1600. (fn. 3) The Cooks' successors as lords of the manor, the Harrises, were also papists. By 1637 Margaret and John Harris held at farm from the Crown the two thirds of their estate forfeit for their recusancy, (fn. 4) and in the 1630s the family and their servants regularly failed to go to church. Only the disinherited eldest son Simon attended in the manorial pew. (fn. 5) John Harris and his mother suffered sequestration as recusants c. 1650. (fn. 6) In 1665 John's widow Martha and son ohn and her kinsman Alexander Tempest were still reckoned papist recusants, their children being baptized privately. (fn. 7) After the Harrises quitted the parish in the 1670s no Roman Catholicism was recorded.

About 1669 the Independent preachers Holcroft and Oddy were occasionally holding conventicles at Milton, attended by many 'mean folk', mostly from outside the parish. (fn. 8) In 1686 seven people were not coming to church, (fn. 9) and in 1728 there were six dissenters. (fn. 10) Thereafter Milton had no organized dissent until after 1800. (fn. 11) Thomas Morris registered his house for dissenting worship in 1801 and 1808, (fn. 12) with John Nunn, whose house was being used by Methodists in 1810. (fn. 13) Later registrations in 1821, 1835, and 1837 were probably of the Baptist chapel, (fn. 14) opened before 1820. In 1851, when it could hold 100, the minister from Landbeach, who served it, claimed an attendance of 87 at the single evening service. (fn. 15)

The Particular Baptists rebuilt their chapel in 1865 at the south end of the high street, on the east side, to contain 150 people. (fn. 16) In 1865 as later the chapel was commonly served by the minister of the Histon Baptist chapel. (fn. 17) By 1873 two afternoon services were held each Sunday. In 1897, when the building was also supposedly used by Wesleyans, Milton had c. 90 dissenters, of whom 20-30 adults were unbaptized. (fn. 18) Membership of the chapel, in the early 1940S better attended than the parish church, mostly ranged in the 20th century between 20 and 25, rising to 38 in 1955. (fn. 19) By the 1970s, when it was served by a lay pastor, membership had fallen to 12. (fn. 20) The Baptist chapel was still open, with its own pastor, in 1985. (fn. 21) A Salvation Army hall, opened in 1887, had closed by 1895. (fn. 22)

Footnotes

  • 1. e.g. C.U.L., E.D.R., D 2/10, ff. 180v., 252; B 2/11, f. 149; . vi. 17; cf. . ed. Gibbons, 48.
  • 2. , i (Cath. Rec. Soc. xviii), 13; iii (Cath. Rec. Soc. lxi), 7, 137.
  • 3. e.g. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/18, ff. 27, 38v., 42; B 2/28, f. 100v.
  • 4. P.R.O., C 66/2728, pt. 4, no. 14 (from MS. cal.).
  • 5. C.R.O., P 104/3/1; Cambs. Village Doc. 68; cf. B.L. Add. MS. 15672, f. 46.
  • 6. Cal. Cttee. for Compounding, i, pp. 539, 722; ii, p. 2889.
  • 7. Cambs. Episc. Visit. 1638-65, ed. Palmer, 116; cf. P.R.O., E 179/84/437, rot. 65.
  • 8. Orig. Rec. of Early Nonconf. ed. Turner, i. 38.
  • 9. C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/70, f. 50.
  • 10. Ibid. B 8/1, f. 24.
  • 11. Cf. ibid. B 7/1, p. 25; C 1/4.
  • 12. P.R.O., RG 3½, Ely dioc. nos. 169, 207.
  • 13. Ibid. Ely archdeac. no. 29; cf. Tice, Methodism in Cambs. 43, 62.
  • 14. P.R.O., RG 3½, Ely dioc. nos. 383, 610, 613.
  • 15. Ibid. HO 129/186 (2), f. 3.
  • 16. Camb. Chron. 26 Aug. 1865; cf. Clay, Milton, 32; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1904-37).
  • 17. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 16631; Baptist Handbk. (1871), 120; (1885), 172; (1915), 47.
  • 18. C.U.L., E.D.R., C 3/25; C 3/38.
  • 19. Baptist Handbk. (1944-6), 29; (1955), 84; (1965), 113; cf. Milton Regional Development Scheme (1942-3), p. 15.
  • 20. Baptist Handbk. (1972), 128; Baptist Union Dir. (1981- 2), 55; cf. Camb. Ind. Press, 10 Dec. 1972.
  • 21. Town Crier, 27 Apr. 1985.
  • 22. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 29976.