Minchinhampton: Protestant nonconformity

Pages 204-205

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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Thirty nonconformists recorded at Minchinhampton in 1676 (fn. 1) were probably Quakers or Baptists. A number of Quaker families associated with the Nailsworth meeting were recorded from the 1660s, among them the Fowlers, of whom John Fowler, a mercer, was mentioned in 1684. Daniel Fowler (d. 1740), who was John's son and followed the same trade, built a house in the town for a Quaker meeting which was licensed in 1731, (fn. 2) and in 1746 the market-house was licensed as a meeting-place; (fn. 3) in 1735 the meeting had 40 members. (fn. 4) Quakers were recorded in the parish until the early 19th century (fn. 5) but the local meeting appears to have lapsed after the mid 18th century.

Baptists registered the house of Giles Mason at Forwood in 1699 (fn. 6) and in 1728 they registered a house at St. Chloe; (fn. 7) 17 Baptists were enumerated at Minchinhampton in 1735 (fn. 8) and were presumably, as later, attached to the Shortwood meeting at Nailsworth. In 1765 Benjamin Francis, minister of Shortwood, promoted the building of a meetinghouse at Minchinhampton, which was regularly served from Shortwood until the end of the 18th century. Subsequently the meeting dwindled but it later revived and a separate Baptist church for Minchinhampton was formed in 1824. (fn. 9) In 1834 a new chapel was built on the south side of Tetbury Street on land given by David Ricardo, (fn. 10) and it had congregations of 150-200 in 1851. (fn. 11) The community was styled Particular Baptist in 1882. (fn. 12) In 1973 the church had an adult membership of 68 (fn. 13) and congregations averaged about 40. The old chapel still survived near the north end of Workhouse Lane. (fn. 14)

Wesley and Whitefield both drew large crowds when they preached on Minchinhampton common in 1739 and 1742; (fn. 15) the spot from which Whitefield preached became known as Whitefield's Tump and was still preserved by his followers as an outdoor preaching-place in 1820. (fn. 16) Whitefield influenced Thomas Adams, a last-maker, who formed a Methodist society and registered his house at Well Hill for its use in 1743, (fn. 17) but the society met with considerable opposition among local people and in the same year a riotous mob attacked the house and assaulted Adams; the ringleaders were successfully prosecuted by Whitefield at the assizes. (fn. 18) Whitefieldian Methodism still had a following in the parish in 1820 when the minister of Rodborough Tabernacle registered houses in the town and at Littleworth, and two years later a group was meeting at Dyehouse Mill. (fn. 19)

Wesleyans built a chapel at Littleworth in 1790 (fn. 20) and its minister registered an additional house in the hamlet in 1820; (fn. 21) the chapel drew congregations of up to 170 in 1851. (fn. 22) In 1973 the congregation was c. 12. (fn. 23) Another Wesleyan chapel was built at Brimscombe in 1804 and had congregations of up to 190 in 1851. (fn. 24) In 1973 there was an adult church membership of 45. (fn. 25) Another house in the parish was registered by Wesleyans in 1835. (fn. 26)

Primitive Methodists built a chapel at Brimscombe in 1838, a short way above the Wesleyan chapel; it had congregations of over 100 in 1851. (fn. 27) A group described as Independents or Housekeepers registered a house in the parish in 1792. (fn. 28) A congregation of c. 30 Latter Day Saints were meeting in part of a building in the parish in 1851. (fn. 29) Between 1723 and 1841 16 other meeting-houses were registered in the parish, most of them presumably used by the denominations already mentioned; they included in the early 19th century four at Box, two at Littleworth, and one at Pinfarthings. (fn. 30)


  • 1. Compton Census.
  • 2. Glos. R.O., D 2052; for the Fowlers, cf. ibid. D 1297, Nailsworth deeds 1693-1798.
  • 3. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 4. G.D.R. vol. 285B, f. 18.
  • 5. Glos. R.O., D 2052.
  • 6. Ibid. Q/SO 3.
  • 7. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 8. G.D.R. vol. 285B, f. 18.
  • 9. Souvenir of the Church at Minchinhampton (1924), 1-5: copy in Glos. R.O., NC 35.
  • 10. Glos. R.O., P 217/CL 1, p. 43.
  • 11. H.O. 129/338/6/1/6.
  • 12. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Glos. XLIX. 12 (1885 edn.).
  • 13. Ex inf. the minister, the Revd. J. A. L. Edwards.
  • 14. Cf. Glos. R.O., P 217/CL 1, p. 10.
  • 15. Ibid. D 2052.
  • 16. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 17. Glos. R.O., D 2052.
  • 18. Glos. Colln. R 205.2.
  • 19. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 20. Date on bldg.
  • 21. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 22. H.O. 129/338/6/1/5.
  • 23. Ex inf. the Revd. E. D. Edwards, of Far Oakridge.
  • 24. H.O. 129/338/6/1/7.
  • 25. Ex inf. the minister, the Revd. J. P. le Sueur.
  • 26. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 27. Ibid. 1838; H.O. 129/338/6/1/8.
  • 28. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.
  • 29. H.O. 129/338/6/1/4.
  • 30. Glos. R.O., Q/SO 3, 1723; Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiv.