Tetbury: Protestant nonconformity

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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'Tetbury: Protestant nonconformity', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 280-281. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol11/pp280-281 [accessed 21 April 2024]

PROTESTANT NONCONFORMITY.

A group of Quakers was established at Tetbury from the mid 1650s. The leading member was Nathaniel Cripps, a justice of the peace, whose house at Upton became the meeting-place and was visited several times by George Fox. Cripps and some other members were persecuted and imprisoned in 1660 but the meeting was still held in the 1670s. (fn. 1) A piece of ground owned by Cripps, adjoining the Bristol road south of the town, was used as a burial ground, and in 1691 a meeting-house was built on it. (fn. 2) The meeting flourished in the early 18th century when the leading members were tradesmen of the Lockey and Wilkins families (fn. 3) and Hopeful Vokins (d. c. 1730), who charged his Hillsome farm estate with £1 a year for poor members of the meeting. (fn. 4) The circular yearly meeting was held at the market-house in 1732. (fn. 5) In 1735 the Tetbury meeting had 22 members, (fn. 6) but it later declined and was discontinued altogether c. 1780. (fn. 7) The meeting-house was sold in 1811. (fn. 8)

Jonathan Smith, who was ejected from the living of Hempsted in 1660, licensed his house at Tetbury for use by Congregationalists in 1672. (fn. 9) Presbyterians under a minister, Thomas Jones, built a chapel below the Chipping c. 1705, (fn. 10) and other houses were registered in 1710 and 1724; (fn. 11) there were 235 Presbyterians at Tetbury in 1735. (fn. 12) Houses were registered in the name of Congregationalists in 1758 and of Independents from 1765 (fn. 13) but little is known of the fortunes of the chapel until 1851 when, styled Independent, it had a congregation of c. 130. (fn. 14) It was then in a period of decline which lasted until a change of minister in 1857. A new Congregational chapel, near the south-west corner of the Chipping, was opened in 1862 and had a congregation of over 200 in 1866. (fn. 15) In 1974 as the Tetbury United Reformed church it had a congregation of about 50. (fn. 16)

The Baptists, who were meeting in the town by 1725, (fn. 17) numbered 38 in 1735 (fn. 18) and had a minister, Nathaniel Overbury, in 1751. (fn. 19) In 1779 they built a chapel in Church Street. (fn. 20) It had congregations of over 200 in 1851, (fn. 21) but by 1974 there was no longer a settled minister and the congregation rarely numbered more than 12. (fn. 22) A group of strict Baptists or Calvinists was established in the town by the 1860s and built a chapel at the Green in 1872. (fn. 23) The sect survived until c. 1940, and later the chapel was used by the Roman Catholics. (fn. 24)

In the early 19th century there were fairly frequent registrations of houses for dissenting worship, including one in 1823 by a group of Tent or Independent Methodists. (fn. 25) Wesleyan Methodists built a chapel on the east side of Gumstool Hill in 1827 (fn. 26) but it attracted congregations of only c. 28 in 1851. (fn. 27) By 1897 the Wesleyans had moved to a building at the south end of Bath Bridge, which they used (fn. 28) until 1909 when they built the hall in Long Street (fn. 29) which remained in use in 1974. The Primitive Methodists built a chapel on Gumstool Hill above the workhouse in 1870 (fn. 30) and occupied it until the union with the Wesleyans in 1932. (fn. 31)

Latter Day Saints, numbering c. 43, met in Harper Street in 1851, and there was then also a sect describing itself as 'Catholic but not Roman' with a meeting-room in the Bath road. (fn. 32) The Plymouth Brethren were established in the town by 1856 and built a meeting-room in Chipping Street in 1860; (fn. 33) later they moved to the former Wesleyan chapel by Bath Bridge. (fn. 34) The Mullerites recorded in Long Street from 1897 were apparently the group later called Open Brethren. (fn. 35)

Footnotes

  • 1. Glos. R.O., D 2052.
  • 2. Ibid. D 1340/B 3/T 1; A 1/M 1.
  • 3. Ibid. B 3/T 1; B 1/M 1-2.
  • 4. Ibid. D 131/T 29.
  • 5. Ibid. D 1340/B 1/M 1; Glouc. Jnl. 12 Sept. 1732.
  • 6. G.D.R., vol. 285B, f. 19.
  • 7. Glos. R.O., D 1340/B 1/M 2; cf. ibid. M 3, entry for 1799.
  • 8. Ibid. B 3/T 1.
  • 9. Calamy Revised, ed. Matthews, 447; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1672, 44, 99.
  • 10. Glos. R.O., NC 19; Q/SO 3, 1705; cf. ibid. D 2052.
  • 11. Ibid. Q/SO 3.
  • 12. G.D.R., vol. 285B, f. 19.
  • 13. Hockaday Abs. ccclxvii.
  • 14. H.O. 129/339/2/4/11.
  • 15. Glos. R.O., NC 19.
  • 16. Ex inf. the minister, the Revd. D. H. Parry Jones.
  • 17. Glos. R.O., Q/SO 3.
  • 18. G.D.R. vol. 285B, f. 19.
  • 19. Trans. Bapt. Hist. Soc. vi. 148.
  • 20. Hockaday Abs. ccclxvii.
  • 21. H.O. 129/339/2/4/7.
  • 22. Ex inf. the caretaker.
  • 23. Glouc. Jnl. 29 June 1872; cf. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1894), 310.
  • 24. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1939), 340; see above.
  • 25. Hockaday Abs. ccclxvii.
  • 26. Glouc. Jnl. 17 Feb. 1827; Glos. R.O., photocopy 237.
  • 27. H.O., 129/339/2/4/10.
  • 28. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1897), 317; Glos. R.O., D 2487/ Z 2.
  • 29. Date on bldg.
  • 30. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1894), 310.
  • 31. Glos. R.O., D 2487/Z 2.
  • 32. H.O. 129/339/2/4/8-9.
  • 33. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856), 368; (1894), 310.
  • 34. Glos. R.O., D 2487/Z 2.
  • 35. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1897 and later edns.).