Copford: Nonconformity

Pages 152-153

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.

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One recusant was recorded in 1596. (fn. 1) John Argor (d. 1679), who had been ejected from Braintree church, was licensed in 1672 as a Presbyterian teacher at his own house and Hezekiah Haynes's. (fn. 2)

There was a Copford Quaker preparative meeting from 1667 and a Quaker burial ground from 1668 at Millfields north of London Road, but between 1708 and 1723 the meeting was known as Birch meeting. (fn. 3) In 1727 on part of the burial ground an addition to a cottage was provided as a meeting house, and meetings resumed at Copford, which became a centre for Quakers from surrounding parishes. (fn. 4) Preparative meetings of 3 to 5 people, recorded from 1759, appointed representatives to the monthly meeting and collected and distributed money to the poor. Some building work was carried out on the house in 1771. Meetings continued there until 1827 when they were transferred to Layer Breton, and Copford meeting house closed. (fn. 5) There was some revival in the later 19th century and Copford meeting house was used again but proved inadequate. In 1879 a new meeting house was provided by building a new room adjoining the west of the existing house, but thereafter the Friends' activities gradually declined. The meeting was closed in 1951 and the building sold in 1956. (fn. 6)

By 1810 there were a few Methodists and Anabaptists. (fn. 7) In 1841 the Methodists had a licensed room for c. 20 people, and Primitive Methodists were meeting at Copford Green in 1859. (fn. 8) Wesleyan Methodists had a preaching place from 1870. They apparently met in the new Friends' meeting house from 1879, and in 1884 erected an iron chapel west of the Friends' meeting house. (fn. 9) That iron chapel apparently became inadequate and was moved in 1903 to the new Marks Tey Wesleyan Methodist church less than a mile further west to serve as a Sunday school building; the congregation presumably transferred to the new church. (fn. 10)


  • 1. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1595-7, 236.
  • 2. Smith, Eccl. Hist. Essex, 361; Cal. S. P. Dom. 1672, 576; Davids, Nonconf. in Essex, 355-6.
  • 3. S. G. H. Fitch, Colch. Quakers, 23; E.R.O., D/DU 161/159.
  • 4. Notes on Essex chapels in possession of Ms. R. Kaye; Essex Map (1777); Fitch, Colch. Quakers, 104; E.R.O., D/DU 609/15; A. F. J. Brown, Prosperity and Poverty 1700- 1815, 115.
  • 5. E.R.O., T/A 424/1/4/-5; ibid. D/DU 564/19; Fitch, Colch. Quakers, 27-9.
  • 6. R. Kaye, Chapels in Essex, 59; notes on Essex chapels in possession of Ms. R. Kaye; Fitch, Colch. Quakers, 104-5; inf. from Valerie Graves, archivist to Colch. Meeting; below, plate 17.
  • 7. Lamb. Pal. Libr., Randolph Papers 9, vol. 3.
  • 8. E.R.O., D/ACM 12; ibid. D/NM 19/1/3. For Eight Ash Green Methodist chapel, see below, Fordham, Nonconf.
  • 9. E.R.O., D/NM 2/1/4; O.N.S. (Birkdale), Worship Reg. no. 28060; E.R.O., Sale cat. B4816; below, Stanway, Nonconf.
  • 10. [R. Searles and S. Humm] Marks Tey Methodist Church 1903-93, 4-5.