by Nevil Harvey-Williams



The Rev.Thomas Williams and at least two of his children, Thomas and Rebecca, were Congregationalists, often described as Independents.  Sometimes they preferred to use the term 'Protestant Dissenting Church.' They were all Independent Congregations - dissenting from the established Church of England.

Congregational Churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing congregational church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs.

According to the congregationalist theory of the history of the Christian Church, the early disciples of Jesus had little or no organization. Congregationalists believe that in the centuries after the spread of Christianity, attempts to gain influence over all the churches were made by leaders in centres like Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Byzantium, and Jerusalem.  Typically, congregationalists view this supposed accumulation of power to be complete by the year AD 1000, with the bishop of Rome claiming authority over all Christendom, and many churches throughout the western part of Europe submitted to his authority.  The churches of eastern Europe, all of Asia, and Egypt likewise had been gathered under a hierarchy of bishops, but retained their independence from the pope, according to this view.

Congregationalists sympathetically interpret various dissident movements among the western churches, that were suppressed throughout the Middle Ages. By the sixteenth century, political and cultural changes had created a climate in which the Roman church could no longer suppress the protests of men such as John Wycliffe, John Hus, Martin Luther, and John Calvin against alleged church abuses.  These reformers advocated a return to the simplicity and sincerity they saw described in the New Testament Church, which congregationalists believe is fulfilled in the congregationalist model of church governance.

There are difficulties in identifying a specific beginning because Congregationalism is more easily identified as a movement than a single denomination, given its distinguishing commitment to the complete autonomy of the local congregation.  The idea that each distinct congregation fully constitutes the visible Church can, however, be traced to John Wyclif and the Lollard movement which followed after Wyclif was removed from teaching authority in the Roman Catholic Church.

Presbyterians, also, did not believe in bishops and local churches were organised by themselves, as far as choosing pastors went, with ultimate power in the hands of a national body of representative churchmen, less under state control than controlling the state.  Bishops had been abolished in Scotland in 1637.  Thus Presbyterianism was the lawful form of worship in Scotland and all the rest, including the Church of England, were non-conformists.  By contrast, Presbyterians in England were regarded as non-conformists.  Many Presbyterian chapels withered away in the 18th century; others became Unitarian, though they retained the name Presbyterian as it was illegal until 1813 to deny the existence of the Trinity.  By the end of the 18th century most groups that were still called Presbyterian were actually Unitarian.  In practice, English Presbyterianism had declined almost to extinction and the increasing number of Presbyterian churches built in the 19th century mostly catered for people who had come to England from Scotland and Ireland, where Presbyterianism continued to flourish.

Unitarians do not believe in the Trinity.  This was not a publicly acceptable position in the 16th and 17th centuries and it carried the death sentence.  Unitarians formed no early congregations under that name.  As a view, Unitariansm gained acceptance during the 18th century and many Presbyterians, in particular, became Unitarians.  There were middle-class 'academies' and some meetings, but Unitarians avoided the law by calling their groups societies.  The High Pavement Chapel in Nottingham, for instance, described itself as The Society of Protestant Dissenters.  From 1789 Unitarians were in the forefront of support for the French Revolution and were caught in the backlash when it became extreme.  They were seen as radicals and revolutionaries and English opinion turned against them.  They have always been very few in number.

Methodism is numerically by far the most important branch of non-conformity.  Yet theologically, it is not non-conformist at all and has nothing to distinguish it from evangelical Anglicanism.  Methodists believe in sacraments, ordain ministers and use the Anglican prayer books.  Methodism arose in the mid-18th century from the preaching of John Wesley, George Whitefield and, in Wales, Howell Harris.  Their aim was was to revive the Church of England, to persuade churchgoers to live their religion rather than just attend services.  This was seen as very exciting and refreshing by many; and as dangerous, emotional and uncontrollable by others.  The influence of Methodism revived and encouraged every branch of non-conformist Christianity, leading to the Evangelical Revival, which in Nottingham developed into a significant force in the first quarter of the 19th century.

In England, the Roman system of church government was taken over by King Henry VIII, who (because he wanted to legitimize his marriage to Anne Boleyn in 1533 after divorcing his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, without the blessing of the Pope in Rome) influenced Parliament to enact the 1st Act of Supremacy in 1534, which declared the reigning sovereign of England to be 'the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England', an act which is in effect to this day.

The history of the cleavage in the ranks of English Protestantism goes back to the reign of Mary Tudor, when the Protestant leaders who were victorious under Edward VI retired to Frankfurt, Zurich and other Protestant centres on the continent, and quarrelled among themselves, some inclining to the more moderate Lutheran or Zwinglian positions, others developing into uncompromising Calvinists.  When the accession of Elizabeth attracted them back to England, the Calvinist section, which soon acquired the nickname of Puritans, was the more fiery, the larger in numbers and the most in favour with the majority of the Protestant laity.  Elizabeth, however, who had very little personal religion, preferred an episcopal to a presbyterian system, as more in harmony with monarchism.  Accordingly she caused the religious settlement, destined to last into our own times, to be made on the basis of episcopacy, with the retention of the points of ritual above specified.  For those who held Puritan views she had a natural dislike, to which she sometimes gave forcible expression, but on the whole she saw the expediency of showing them some consideration, lest she should lose their support in her campaign against Catholicism.

These were the determining factors of the initial situation, out of which the subsequent history of English Protestantism has grown by a natural development.  The results during Elizabeth's reign was a state of oscillation between phases of repression and phases of indulgence, in meeting the persistent endeavours of the Puritans to make their own ideas dominant in the national Church.  In 1559, the third Act of Uniformity was passed, by which the new edition of the Prayer Book was enjoined, under severe penalties, on all ministering as clergy in the country.  In 1566, feeling that some concession to the strength of the Puritan opposition was necessary, Archbishop Parker, on an understanding with the queen, published certain Advertisements addressed to the clergy, requiring them to conform at least as regards wearing the surplice, kneeling at communion, using the font for baptism, and covering the communion table with a proper cloth.

With the death of Elizabeth the hopes of the Puritans revived.  Their system of doctrine and government was dominant in Scotland, and they hoped that the Scottish King James might be induced to extend it to England.  So they met him on his way to London with their Millenary Petition, so called though the signatories numbered only about eight hundred.  In this document they were prudent enough not to raise the question of episcopal government, but contented themselves for the time with a request that the ritual customs which they disliked might be discontinued in the State Church.  James promised them a conference which met the next year at Hampton Court to consider their grievances, and in which they were represented by four of their leaders.  These had some sharp encounters with the bishops and chief Anglican divines, but, whilst the Puritans were set more on domination than toleration, the king was wholly on the side of the Anglicans, who in this hour of their triumph were in no mood for concessions. Accordingly the conference proved abortive, and the very same year Archbishop Bancroft, with the king's sanction, carried through Convocation, and at once enforced, the canons known as those of 1604.  The purpose of this campaign was to restore the use of the rites in question, which, in defiance of the existing law, the Puritan incumbents had succeeded in putting down in a great number of parishes.  This result was effected to some extent for the time being, but a quarter of a century later, when Laud began his campaign for the restoration of decency and order, in other words, for the enforcement of the customs to which the Puritans objected, he was met by opposition so widespread and deep-rooted that, though ultimately it had lasting results, the immediate effect was to bring about his own fall and contribute largely to the outbreak of the Rebellion, the authors of which were approximately co-extensive with the Puritan party.

During the Civil War and the Commonwealth the Puritan mobs wrecked the churches, the bishops were imprisoned and the primate beheaded.  The supremacy over the Church was transferred from the Crown to the Parliament, the Solemn League and Covenant was accepted for the whole nation.  A religious frenzy seized the country, and sects holding the most extravagant doctrines sprang up and built themselves conventicles.  There was licence for all, save for popery and prelacy, which were now persecuted with equal severity.  When Cromwell attained to power, a struggle set in between the Parliament, which was predominantly Presbyterian, and the army which was predominantly Independent.  The disgust of all sober minds, with the resulting pandemonium, had much to do with creating the desire for the Restoration, and when this was accomplished in 1660, measures were at once taken to undo the work of the interregnum.  The bishops were restored to their sees, and the vacancies filled.

The Convocation in 1662 revised the Prayer Book in an anti-Puritan direction, and it was at once enforced.  All holding benefices in the country were to use this revised Prayer Book on and after the Feast of St. Bartholomew of that year.  It was through this crisis that the term Nonconformist obtained its technical meaning.  When the feast came round a large number who refused to conform were evicted.

The fact that they organized themselves outside the Established Church under the name of Nonconformists, naturally made them the more offensive to the authorities of Church and State, and, during the remainder of the reign of Charles II, they were the victims of several oppressive measures.  In 1661 the Corporation Act incapacitated from holding office in any corporation all who did not first qualify by taking the sacrament according to the Anglican rite; in 1664 the Conventicle Act inflicted the gravest penalties on all who took part in any private religious service at which more than five persons, in addition to the family were present; in 1665 the Five Mile Act made liable to imprisonment any Nonconformist minister who, not having taken an oath of non-resistance, came within five miles of a town without obtaining leave; and in 1673 the scope of the Corporation Act was extended by the Test Act.

The Test Acts were a series of English penal laws that served as a religious test for public office and imposed various civil disabilities on Roman Catholics and Nonconformists. The principle that none but persons professing the Established Church were eligible for public employment and the severe penalties pronounced against recusants, whether Roman Catholic or Nonconformist, were affirmations of this principle.

In 1672 Charles II attempted to mitigate the lot of the Nonconformists by publishing a Declaration of Indulgence in which he used in their favour the dispensing power, till then recognized as vested in the Crown.  But Parliament, meeting the next year, forced him to withdraw this Declaration, and in return passed the Test Act, which extended the scope of the Corporation Act.  James II, though despotic and tactless in his methods like all the Stuarts, was, whatever prejudiced historians have said to the contrary, a serious believer in religious toleration for all, and was, in fact, the first who sought to impress that ideal on the legislature of his country by his two Declarations of Indulgence, in 1687-88.  He dispensed Nonconformists just as much as Catholics from their religious disabilities, and his act was received by the former with a spontaneous outburst of gratitude.  It was not to their credit that, shortly after, they should have been induced to cast in their lot with the Revolution on the assurance that it would give them all the liberties promised by King James without the necessity of sharing them with Catholics.  This promise was, however, only imperfectly carried out by the Toleration Act of 1689, which permitted the free exercise of their religion to all Trinitarian Protestants, but did not relieve them of their civil disabilities.  Some, accordingly, of their number practiced what was called Occasional Conformity, that is, received the Anglican sacrament just once, so as to qualify.  This caused much controversy and led eventually in 1710 to the Occasional Conformity Act, which was devised to check it.  This Act was repealed in 1718, but many of the Nonconformists themselves disapproved of the practice on conscientious grounds, and, though it was often resorted to and caused grave scandals, those who resorted to it cannot be fairly taken as representatives of their sects.  The Test Act was not repealed till 1828, the year before the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed; the Catholics and the Nonconformists combined their forces to obtain both objects.

Some comments on non-conformity in Wales are perhaps relevant to this discussion and are appended here:

Non-conformist chapels in Wales

Pentwyn farm lies in the parish of Llannon in south-east Dyfed near the boundary of Llanedy parish, and overlooks the Gwili and Llwchwr rivers about a mile and a half east of the village of Llannon.  Here in the eighteenth century Samuel Jones established a minor academy.

Pentwyn Academy was founded at a time when there was a need for the preparation of young people to become Nonconformist ministers.  The older academies had almost all closed; they included the academies of Samuel Jones, Brynllywarch (1697), Rhys Prydderch, Ystradwallter/Aberllyfni (1699), Roger Griffiths, Abergavenny (1702), Rees Price, Tynton, who lost the support of the Congregational Board and the Presbyterian Board (1704), but carried on for some years, and James Owen, Oswestry/Shrewsbury (1706).  Nonconformists had, during the second half of the seventeenth century, founded and sustained these seminaries for ministers and laymen notwithstanding the opposition of the Established Church.  Their antagonists had realised that in order to stem the tide of Nonconformity it was essential to prevent the nurture of a new generation of erudite leaders.  History has confirmed the validity of their anxiety.  Only five per cent of the population was Nonconformist in 1700, whereas it has been stated by Prof. Dd. Williams that the proportion increased to seventy per cent by 1850.  The Established Church could not hold the loyalty of the parishioners without secular sanctions.

When Anne ascended the throne in 1702 the outlook darkened for Nonconformity once more.  She was a loyal supporter of the Established Church and was expected to take steps to discourage Nonconformity.

The Tories assumed power in 1710 and proceeded to make the Act of Uniformity unequivocal in relation to the Nonconformist academies.  They succeeded in persuading Parliament to accept the Schism Bill.  The Schism Act was intended to come into operation on 1st August 1714, but unfortunately for its sponsors the Queen died that very day.  Although this Act may have hindered the activities of some academies and even discouraged for the time being the founding of new ones, there does not seem to have been much enthusiasm shown towards persecuting the Nonconformists after the patronage of the Queen had been lost.  The Whigs abolished the Schism Law in 1719 and as the Tories did not acquire power during the next half century the Dissenters were free to establish academies and to increase their hold on religious life.

However, from accounts published in the Breconshire Historical Journal, Brycheiniog, it is apparent that non-conformism in Wales was well established by the middle of the 17th century and, although persecution was rife at the outset, this petered out following the Declaration of Indulgence proclaimed by James II on 4th April 1687.  The Act of Toleration passed two years later allowed Dissenters freedom to worship on condition that their meeting places were licensed and their preachers took out a licence as well.

Non-conformist gentry families were very common in parts of Breconshire from the the late 17th century to the early 19th century but, later, there was a drift towards the established church.  By 1690 a 'commodious place of worship' had been built for the Congregationalists at Tredustan, near Talgarth, described as 'the Jerusalem of the pious in all the parishes for miles around.' It was recorded that the average attendance at Tredustan was 250, of whom 40 were voters; in other words, among the more prosperous members of the community.

There were close ties between the Independents and the early Methodists of Breconshire in the 18th century.  Around 1700 David Price kept school at Llwyn-lwyd in Llanigon parish where Howel Harries (1714-73), the founder of Welsh Methodism, was educated.  Harris† was converted during a sermon at Talgarth Church and established a religious community at Trefeca in 1750.  William Williams of Pantecelyn (1717-91), the great hymn writer of the revival, who composed almost a thousand hymns in both Welsh and English (the most famous of which is 'Guide me oh Thou Great Redeemer') was converted by the preaching of Howel Harris.  Williams also finished his education under Price at Llwyn-lwyd Academy (1735-38).

Despite the irksome nature of the restrictions on non-conformists, they must be understood in the context of the political realities of the time.  An account of the reign of George III, [The Reign of George III; 1760 - 1815 by J. Steven Watson (The Oxford History of England)] tells us that 'It will be apparent that though their ways of life were so different, country squires and borough tradesmen were alike in their solid, self-assured, self-governing independence, and consequently both had an initial dislike of outside interference.  In this their practical experience and their constitutional theory marched together.  The conflicts over sovereignty which had made seventeenth-century history had been settled by the demonstration in the years following 1688 that parliament, the king, lords, and commons in parliament assembled, was a legally sovereign body.  But this sovereignty was not intended for everyday use.  Parliament was thought of as the final umpire in a dispute between established groups if they should conflict, not as an active ruler.  It was the liberties of the groups within the state which were considered to be the secret of English blessedness.  That parliament would not exceed its proper activity was, in practice, to be made certain by the predominance in parliament of one of the major groups with a vested interest in freedom from interference, the landed gentry. 

In practice England was not a unitary state but a collection of corporations and groups, each with a life of its own, cohabiting with the ease of long experience within the framework of the Revolution Settlement.  The church of England, as has been pointed out, had its higher dignitaries appointed by the Crown but went its own way without paying them much heed.  Even the dissenters had a place established for them by custom, a custom of ignoring the letter of the law which penalized them.

In the towns the protestant dissenters had no particular programme, save the desire to see the laws which nominally put them outside the constitution abolished.  But as they were not as a rule of the highest or wealthiest class; such matters as standing for parliament were in any case outside their range.  They were like an unfashionable social club, whose votes, where they had them, could be secured by decent civility to their leaders.'

Another view of this situation is given in a biography of William Pitt, written by William Hague.  'It is clear that Wilberforce considered Pitt to have given little reflection to religious matters.  When a delegation of Dissenting Protestants, who were not part of the established Church, came to see him in January 1787 to put their case for repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts which debarred them from a wide range of public offices, he gave them a polite hearing but no sign of enthusiastic support.  The champion of parliamentary, financial and administrative reform was not about to add the extension of religious toleration to his favourite causes.

On the face of it, Pitt would have been a natural supporter of the Dissenters' cause, and he had received strong support from them in the 1784 general election on the basis of his enthusiasm for parliamentary reform.  Their grievance was a powerful one.  The Corporation Act of 1661 required that all mayors, aldermen, councillors, borough officials and similar members of municipal corporations should take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and should have taken the 'sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the rites of the Church of England' in the twelve months before their election.  The Test Act of 1672 placed a similar requirement on those holding any civil office or a commission in the army or navy, except that it allowed the Anglican sacrament to be taken within three months of entry into office.  These Acts were designed to keep Catholics out of office.  Although the effects of the Acts had been partly mitigated since 1727 by annual Indemnity Acts, as well as by irregular enforcement, a sense of grievance at the anomalous and inconsistent results was powerfully felt.  It was possible, for instance, for a Dissenter to sit in Parliament for a borough in which he could not be a member of the corporation.  While some corporations seemed to draw most of their membership from Dissenters, others had used the Test Acts vindictively: in the 1740s the City of London had introduced heavy fines for refusing to take public office, and then nominated for office Dissenters who could not accept it.

To reform such laws would have been in tune with the more rationalist and tolerant attitudes of the late eighteenth century, but Pitt drew back from doing so.  The Anglican Church was powerful, and not likely to be in ready agreement with the removal of its privileges; many people were opposed to any weakening of the connection between Church and state.  Others suspected the motives of more radical non-conformist opinion, particularly in the aftermath of the American War, and feared this could open the door to the advancement of more secular and revolutionary views.  Pitt consulted the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Moore, who found that only two of the sixteen Bishops who attended a meeting on this subject favoured reform.

Pitt must have known what answer he would receive from the Bishops, but it was as well to seek their opinion, since he would have had little chance of carrying reform against the combined opposition of the Church, the King and the more conservative Members of Parliament.  He was not prepared to risk another defeat over a matter which failed to stir his own conscience and which seemed to make little practical difference to most people's lives.  As a result, when the repeal of the Acts was moved on 28 March 1787, Pitt followed the now ageing and blind Lord North, to whom he paid his first noticeable tribute, in asking the Commons to preserve the status quo. 'Were we', he argued, 'to yield on this occasion, the fears of the members of the Church of England would be roused, and their apprehensions are not to be treated lightly.  It must, as I contend, be conceded to me that an Established Church is necessary ... no means can be devised of admitting the moderate part of the dissenters and excluding the violent; the bulwark must be kept up against all.' Pitt found that opposition to reforms was safer ground than proposing them: the pleas of the Dissenters were rejected by 176 votes to ninety-eight.  Pitt would lead the Commons in delivering a similar verdict in future years; moderately so in 1789, and impatiently and emphatically so as the French Revolution gathered pace in 1790.'

   -he Reign of George III; 1760-1815 (Oxford History of England, by J. Steven Watson)
   -William Pitt the Younger, by William Hague
   -The Carmarthenshire Historian; 1976
   -Brycheiniog; Episodes in the History of Brecknockshire Dissent.

Compiled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (The Mormons)
(Augmented with information from other sources, such as baptismal registers on microfilm
held at the Public Record Office and other references.)

Lydia Isgar, daughter of John Isgar/Lydia, christened June 1700 at Holy Trinity, Gosport.

Lydia Isgar married James Hammond, 2nd June 1738, at Alverstoke.

James Hammond, son of George Hammond/Mary, christened 20th May 1692 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street.

James Hammond, son of George Hammond/Mary, christened 28th November 1698 at Gosport Non-conformist. (Same entry also gives 22nd December at Gosport.)

Lydda Hammond, daughter of James Hammond/Lydda, christened 25th December 1740, at Gosport Non-conformist.


Thomas Williams, married Rebecca Isgar, 6th August 1750, at Rowner.

Rebecca Williams, daughter of Thomas Williams /Rebecca, christened 23rd June 1751 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b.1st May 1751)

Thomas Williams, son of Thomas Williams/Rebecca, christened 8th July 1753 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b. 27th May 1753)

Thomas Williams, married Mary Marsh, 17th April 1783, at Gosport Holy Trinity.

Lydia Williams, daughter of Thomas Williams/ Rebecca, christened 24th July 1757 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street.


Henry Marsh married Molly Tyler, February 1750 at Dorking West Street Independent.

Edward Marsh, son of Henry Marsh/Mary, christened 27th December 1754 atGosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b. 24th November 1754)

Mary Marsh, daughter of Henry Marsh/Mary, christened 27th April 1756 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b. 10th April 1756)

John Marsh married Nancy Tyler, April 1762 at Dorking West Street Independent. (John Marsh was the nephew of Henry Marsh, above, and other sources give his wife's name as Ann.)

, son of John Marsh/Ann, christened 15th April 1764 at Dorking West Street Independent.

Mary, daughter of John Marsh/Ann, christened 25th January 1770 at Dorking West Street Independent.


John Voke married Rebekiah Williams, 10th February 1789 at Holy Trinity, Gosport.
From Holy Trinity Marriage Register;
page 161 entry 2:  John†VOKE†, purser on HMS Acteon & Rebekah †WILLIAMS†of this parish, by licence, in the presence of David†BOGUE† & Thos†WILLIAMS†February 10 1789
From Holy Trinity Burial Register;
page 187 no 1501:  John†VOKE†Stoke Road 2 May 1822 aged 73yrs
Page 230 entry 1839:  Ann†VOKE†of Gosport, aged 87, October 22 1828
From Asiatic Journal Vol:  17 page 144:
At Elliott Place, Bingham Town, near Gosport Hants, aged 84.  Mrs Rebecca Voke, relict. of Mr John Voke, late purser R.N.

John Fenn married Lydia Williams, 28th April 1784 at Gosport Holy Trinity.

Lydia Fenn, daughter of John Fenn/Lydia, christened 17th August 1785 at Gosport Independent Chapel.

Harriott Fenn, daughter of John Fenn/Lydia, christened 4th September 1786 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b. 23rd June 1786. John and Lydia Fenn described as 'of the parish of St. Peter's, Cornhill.')


George Coldham, of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, married Dorothy Wright of Diss by licence on the 23rd April 1765.  Witnesses: Elizabeth Dyson, William Taylor and Sarah Taylor.  (Parish Register, Diss - Marriages)

George Coldham, son of George Coldham/Dorothy, christened at Octagon-Presbyterian, Norwich 9th May 1766.

Dorothy Coldham, daughter of George Coldham/Dorothy, christened at Octagon-Presbyterian, Norwich 16th August 1767.

Wright Coldham, born 22nd January 1770 in the Parish of St. Stephen, Norwich.

Marianne Coldham, daughter of Wright Coldham/Anne, christened at Octagon-Presbyterian, Norwich 28th December 1793.

Caroline Humphrey Coldham, daughter of Wright Coldha/Ann Temple, christened at High Pavement Presbyterian Chapel 2nd March 1800.

Frances Fletcher Coldham, daughter of Wright Coldham/Ann Temple, christened at High Pavement Presbyterian Chapel 26th December 1800.

Frances Fleming Coldham, daughter of Wright Coldham/Ann Temple, christened 19th December 1802.

Sara Elizabeth Coldham, daughter of Wright Coldham/Ann Temple, christened 22nd October 1804.

Maria Matthew Coldham, daughter of Wright Coldham/Ann Temple, christened 16th April 1806.

Emily Temple Coldham, daughter of Wright Coldham/Ann Temple, christened 30th August 1808.

Ann Coldham, daughter of Wright Coldham/Ann Temple, christened 2nd November 1810.


Mary Williams, daughter of Thomas Williams/Mary, christened 18th April 1784 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b. 2nd March 1784. Thomas and Mary described as 'of the parish of Portsea.')

Thomas Sydney Williams, son of Thomas Williams/Mary, christened 5th January 1787 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b. 11th December 1786. Thomas and Mary described as 'of the parish of Portsea.')

Lydia Williams, daughter of Thomas Williams/Mary, christened 15th March 1788 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b. 17th January 1788. Thomas and Mary described as 'of the parish of Portsea.')

John Williams, son of Thomas Williams/Mary, christened 29th April 1789 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b. 22nd March 1789. Thomas and Mary described as 'of the parish of Kingston (Hants).')

Henry Williams, son of Thomas Williams/Mary, christened 13th April 1792 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b. 11th February 1792. Thomas and Mary described as 'of the parish of Kingston (Hants).')

Joseph Williams, son of Thomas Williams/Mary, christened 11th January 1794 at Gosport Independent Chapel, High Street. (b. 27th October 1793. Thomas and Mary described as 'of the parish of Kingston (Hants).')

William Williams, son of Thomas Williams/Mary, christened 30th October 1800 at Castle Gate Meeting Independent Chapel, Nottingham. (b. 18th July 1800.)


George Nelson, married Elizabeth Watson, 29th September 1759, at Nottingham St. Mary.

George Nelson, son of George Nelson/Elizabeth, born 26.03.1762, married Dorothy (Dorothea?) 29th September 1795, at Nottingham St. Mary.

James Nelson, son of George Nelson/Elizabeth, christened 16th August 1763, at Nottingham St. Mary, married 10th May 1791 to Anna Maria Dale.

Ann Nelson, daughter of George Nelson/Elizabeth, christened 19th September 1765, at Nottingham St. Mary.

Elizabeth Nelson, daughter of George Nelson/Elizabeth, christened 30th April 1767. at Nottingham St. Mary.

Jane Nelson, daughter of George Nelson/Elizabeth, christened 31st December 1768, at Nottingham St. Mary.

Harriet Nelson, daughter of George Nelson/Dorothea, christened 25th January 1797, at St Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham.

Sarah Nelson, daughter of George Nelson/Dorothea, christened 9th July 1798, at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham.

George Nelson, son of George Nelson/Dorothea, christened 26th June 1800, at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham.

Susanna Nelson, daughter of George Nelson/Dorothea, christened 19th August 1801, at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham.

Richard Nelson, son of George Nelson/Dorothea, christened 20th July 1803, at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham.

Thomas Charles, son of Geoge Nelson/Dorothea, christened 16th August 1804, at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham.

Ann, daughter of George Nelson/Dorothea, christened on 8th October 1805, at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham.

Elizabeth Dorothea, daughter of George Nelson/Dorothea, christened on 10th April 1807, at St. Mary Gate Chapel, Nottingham.

Elizabeth Nelson, daughter of James Nelson/Anna Maria, christened 19th November 1793 at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham. (b. 3rd November 1793.)

Dorothea Nelson, daughter of James Nelson/Anna Maria, christened 2nd March 1796 at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham. (b. 7th February 1796.)

Jane Nelson, daughter of James Nelson/Anna Maria, christened 19th July 1797 at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham. (b. 11th July 1797.)

Ann Nelson, daughter of James Nelson/Anna Maria, christened 29th September 1798 at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingam. (b. 12th September 1798.)

Jane Nelson, daughter of James Nelson/Anna Maria, christened 29th April 1801 at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham. (b. 5th April 1801.)

James Henry Nelson, son of James Nelson/Anna Maria, christened 5th February 1803 at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham. (b. 1st January 1803.)

Charles Nelson, son of James Nelson/Anna Maria, christened 11th June 1805 at St. Mary Gate Independent Chapel, Nottingham. (b. 29th April 1805.)

Anna Maria Dale, daughter of Richard Dale/Dorothy, christened 22nd October 1766, at Nottingham St. Mary.

Dorothea Dale, daughter of Richard Dale/Dorothy, christened 23rd June 1771, at Nottingham St. Mary.

Edward Garrard Marsh married Lydia Williams at Southwell. Two dates given; 7th July 1813 and 6th July 1814. Microfiche of Southwell parish register at Nottinghamshire Record Office gives 7th July 1813, by licence.
Edward Garrard Marsh of Nuneham and Lydia Williams of Southwell.
Vicar: H.Houson:
Witnesses: Henry Marsh and D.Evans.

From Alumni Oxoniensis (Joseph Foster)
Edward Garrard Marsh, son of John, of St. Thomas's, Salisbury, Wilts, arm.Wadham Coll. (Oxford). Matric. 19.7.1800 aged 17. B.A. 1804. Fellow Oriel Coll. 1804-14. M.A. 1807. Bampton Lecturer 1848. Preb. Of Southwell 1821. Vicar of Sandon, Herts. 1828 and of Aylesford, Kent, 1841 until his death; 20.9.1862. For list of his works, see Crockford.

He was also Curate of Nuneham, after graduating at Oxford and in 1820, when a proprietary chapel in Hampstead was put up for sale by the departing minister for about £3,000, he bought it for £2,900.

Thomas Williams, son of John of Henllan, co. Denbigh, cler.  Jesus College; matric. 13th May 1742 aged 17.  B.A. from Christ Church 19th Feb 1747-8. [This Thomas we researched in depth (as have other researchers) in 2010, for he was the closest lead we could find to being the Rev Thomas....But he turned out to be a Land Surveyor.]

From Gentleman's Magazine; 1770. p.280. Obituaries.
Rev. Thomas Williams, at Gosport. 19th June 1770.

High Street, Gosport,

deposited in the Public Record Office, London.
A register begun June 18 A.D. 1750 by me Thomas Williams. (In his own hand)
23.6.1751.Rebecca daughter of Thomas Williams and Rebecca his wife was born the first day of May in the year 1751 and baptised 23 June following.
8.7.1753Thomas the son of Thomas Williams and Rebecca his wife was born the 27 May and baptised 8th day of July 1753.
27.12.1754.Baptised Edward the son of Captain Henry Marsh and Mary his wife.
27.4.1756Mary daughter of Captain Henry Marsh and Mary his wife was baptised.
24.7.1757.Lydia daughter of Thomas Williams and Rebecca his wife baptised.
These entries made by Thomas Williams ceased after 24 May 1769, and his successor, James Watson, made a note against a number of entries after that date to the effect that they had been 'made up from entries in Mr Williams's pocket book.'
James Watson
1770 - 1776
David Bogue
1777 - 1825
18.4.1784Mary daughter of Thomas Williams and Mary his wife was born 2 march & baptised 18 April 1784.
5.1.1787Thomas Sydney son of Thomas Williams & Mary his wife of the parish of Portsea was born on 11 dec 1786 & baptised on 5 January 1787.
15.3.1788Lydia daughter of Thomas Williams & Mary his wife of the parish of Portsea was born on 7 January 1788 & baptised on 15 March 1788.
24.4.1789John son of Thomas Williams & Mary his wife of the parish of Portsea (Kingston) was born on 22 March & baptised on April 29, 1789.
13.4.1792Henry son of Thomas Williams & Mary his wife of Kingston born February 1792 (day not given) & bapt. 13 April 1792.
11.1.1794Joseph son of Thomas Williams & Mary his wife of Kingston was born on 27 October 1793 & baptised 11 January 1794.
Footnote: Birth dates in the I.G.I. abstract have been added from these entries in the baptismal registers. All the children of Thomas and Mary Williams who were christened at Gosport were baptised by the Rev. David Bogue.

Register of Births and Baptisms
belonging to
High Pavement Chapel, Nottingham

AD 1722 to 1837

The first date given is the date of baptism, and the name underneath denotes the officiating minister.
27th February 1793
G. Walker
Lucy daughter of John Attenburrow & Elizabeth his wife. Born Jan'y 23 1792
23rd June 1794
G. Walker
Indira daughter of John Attenburrow & Elizabeth his wife. Born May 7th 1794
2nd January 1796
G. Walker
Eliza daughter of John Attenburrow & Elizabeth his wife. Born Dec'r 3 1795
2nd March 1800
W. Walters
Caroline Humphrey daughter of Wright Coldham & Ann his wife. Born January 30 1800
26th Dec. 1800
W. Walters
Frances Fletcher daughter of Wright Coldham and Ann his wife. Born Dec 17th 1800
19th Dec. 1802
W. Walters
Frances Fleming Coldham, daughter of Wright Coldham & Ann his wife. Born ? 1802
22nd October 1804
J. Taylor
Sarah Eliza daughter of Wright Coldham & Ann (daughter of Robert Temple) was born 12th Sept. 1804 on Sion Hill in parish of Radford, Nottinghamshire.
16th April 1806
J. Taylor
Maria Matthew Coldham daughter of Wright Coldham & Ann his wife daughter of Robert Temple was born 13th April 1806 in Halifax Lane in the parish of St. Mary.
30th August 1808
J. Taylor
Emily Temple daughter of Wright Coldham & Ann his wife daughter of Robert Temple was born 29th Oct. 1807 in Halifax Lane in the parish of St. Mary. (The delay in baptising her not explained.)
2nd Nov. 1810
J. Taylor
Ann, daughter of Wright Coldham & Ann his wife the daughter of Rob't Temple was born in Halifax Lane in the parish of St. Mary 19th July 1810.

No Name Date of
Removal or Death
103 William Wilson.  Elected Deacon 1811 Dec 29th 1799 Resigned 4 Feb'y 1832
Died Oct 1833 Age 64
111 John Green.  Elected Deacon 1803 Nov 30th 1800 Died Aug 28th 1832. Age 80
133 Mr Williams.  Rec'd by dismission from Gosport May 30th 1802 Deceased
154 Mr Sidney Williams 1804 Withdrew
158 Mrs Williams 1804 Left
159 Miss Williams 1804 Left
175 Mr Marsh Apr 27th 1806 Withdrew

Extracts from the Church Minute Books

Page 80:
After the entry for April 12th 1795, there is the following footnote:-

Since the above, the method of admitting members has been fixed as follows -

The person desiring communion is proposed to the Church at a private meeting, if no material objection appears, two persons are deputed by the Church to converse with them for further satisfaction respecting their seriousness, doctrinal sentiment & C. If nothing objectionable appears, the matter is brought to the Church on that day Month when a written Account of the work of God upon their souls is read. If that is approved together with the acc't giv'n by those who were deputed to converse with them & C. they are then received as members with us.

Page 81: Oct 8 1795.
At the Quarterly Church meeting, (after prayer), it was agreed to omit the usual collection for the poor this Quarter and instead thereof to have a collection for the Missionary Society; next Lords day afternoon. Mr Alliott to preach a sermon suited to the occasion; notice of which is to be given in the forenoon.

Mr Alliott was requested by the Church to inform those Members of other Churches who have for some time had occasional communion with us that it is our wish that they should get their dismission and become members with us.

Mar 29 1798.
At the Quarterly Church meeting (after prayer) it was agreed that the usual Quarterly collection for the poor shall be omitted this Qr., and that a collection for the Missionary Society shall be made the third Lords-day in April.

Ap'l 15 1798.
The rev'd Mr Burder of Coventry preached a Sermon for the benefit of the Missionary Society, the Collection (which was made both in the afternoon & Evening) amounted to fifty six pounds - £56. (Note in margin: Collection for the London Missionary Society.)

Page 99. Jan 1 1801.
Mr Alliott was also requested to wait upon Mr Williams who has for some time been an occasional Communicant to let him know that it is the Church's wish that he should come into full communion; and also that some things which had been objections with him were removed out of the way.

Page 104. Dec 27 1803.
At the Quarterly Church meeting (after prayer) it was agreed that it would be for the good of the Church and Congregation to have a Committee chosen every year to conduct the affairs of the Church & C. and to assist the Deacons with their advice & C. when any cases occurred out of the ordinary way, respecting seats, Begging cases, repairs & C. The following persons were appointed; Mr Williams, Mr Thos Simon, Mr Wilson & Mr Gill. [Thomas Williams, sadly, died on 6th January 1804.]

Page 24. 1813
At a church meeting the following resolution was unanimously agreed to.

The peculiar exigencies of the times having produced many instances of insolvency and some cases having occurred of this kind among professors of religion, in which there appears to have been a culpable continuance in business, after it ought to have been given up, and an expenditure continued in, which must have been at the cost & loss of the creditors, the Church has thought it necessary in order to express its sentiments on the subject to resolve, that if any member of this Church shall hereafter become insolvent, such person shall be suspended from the communion of the Church, until such time as he shall either convince the Church that he is not guilty of wilful negligence, delay or extravagance, or has expressed such contrition & repentance as the nature of the case renders necessary.

It was then resolved that as Mr S. Williams and Mr Marsh, both members of the Church, have for a long time neglected to attend on any of the ordinances of religion amongst us, & reports being in circulation unfavourable to the Christian character of the former, the brethren Green & Wilson be requested to converse with them and report the result of their conversation to the Church. (After several discussions Messrs Williams and Marsh resigned their connection with the Church.)

List of the Members of the Church at Castle-Gate

After No. 41 appears the note: - The following persons have been admitted since the election of the Reverend Richard Alliott to the Pastoral office 1795. (He was inducted on 8th April 1795.)
Page 111 Mr John Green November 3 1800 Elected deacon 1803
Deceased Aug 28 1832.
305 133 Mr Williams May 30 1802 Dismissed from Gosport.
Page 154 Mr S. Williams March 1804 Withdrawn (or resigned - See Page 125)*
Page 158 Mrs Williams 1804 Left the town.
Page 159 Miss Williams 1804 Left the town
Page 175 Mr Marsh April 27 1806 Withdrawn (or resigned - See Page 125)*
* Note added in pencil. This obviously refers to the entry on Page 124 in which both Sydney Williams and Edward Marsh were required to resign.


The politics of Nottingham enclosure
Malcolm I. Thomis
Transactions of the Thoroton Society - Vol. LXXI 1967; Ps 92-5

The governing portion of Nottingham Corporation was, in the words of the 1833 commissioners, 'a close and self-constituted body'.  The Corporation's principal members were the Mayor, who was one of seven Aldermen, who also acted as town magistrates; the Aldermen were themselves chosen from 18 Senior Councillors.  The election of the latter was theoretically in the hands of the burgesses as a whole, who numbered approximately 3,000 in 1833, but in practice contested elections were rare by this date.  (Burgesses might inherit the right to be a freeman, earn it by serving an apprenticeship within the town, have it bestowed upon them for sevices rendered, or purchase it with a money payment.) The only people eligible for election were members of the 'clothing' or 'livery'.  These were people who had served in the office of Chamberlain or Sheriff of the town, both of which offices, light in the duties they entailed, were in the gift of the current Mayor.  It was this power of the Mayor, and the charter-provision restricting Senior Councillors to the 'clothing', which ensured the closed nature of Nottingham Corporation.  It was strengthened by the fact that the 'clothing' also elected the Aldermen from the ranks of the Senior Councillors.  Because of the small size of the 'clothing' group, estimated at around 70, it was usually possible to ensure that only as many candidates emerged as there were vacancies to fill.  Occasionally, a member would not wait his turn to get on to the Senior Council, or would quarrel with those who had given him his status, and then a contested election for a Senior Councillor would take place and the burgesses as a whole would be given a limited power of choice.  Usually, however, the circle of relatives and friends granted promotions amongst themselves, untroubled by such untoward occurrences.

The stranglehold of the oligarchy described by the Corporation Commissioners had not been built up quickly and had not been in existence long in 1833.  The system of co-option and promotion on which Nottingham operated involved nomination by the Mayor on to the 'clothing', election from the 'clothing' to the Senior Council, election then to the rank of Alderman, and the Aldermen became Mayor in turn, thereby acquiring the right to nominate to the 'clothing', thus setting the whole process again in motion.  It might take many years for a man to work through this sequence, and an indiscreet nomination to the clothing might threaten the harmony of the ruling group many years later.  There is plenty of evidence to show that the ruling group moved only slowly and hesitantly to its commanding position.  In 1787, the election of John Collishaw to the Senior Council was contested by Samuel Heywood, a 'clothing' member who had defected to the enclosing party and forced his former friends to an election.  The following year a more ominous contest occurred.  The Mayor's nominee to fill a vacancy was defeated by Henry Green, who proceeded to celebrate his victory with an 'elegant dinner' at the White Lion Hotel.  This was the customary headquarters of the Nottingham Tories and the 'clothing' should have taken the hint.  Instead, Green became an Alderman, in 1793 Mayor, and in 1794 emerged as a rabid anti-Jacobin Tory, the most notorious Mayor in Nottingham annals since the Jacobite Hawksley had drunk to the ' King across the water' in 1715.  In 1790, George Burbage, the editor of the Nottingham Journal, was elected to the Senior Council, and he was soon to be the principal spokesman for Tory views in Nottingham.  More care was now evidently taken with nominations to the Livery after this, though in 1819 the system again showed that it was not complete. Thomas Richards, a 'clothing' member, turned renegade, attacked the extravagance and corruption of the Corporation, and demanded its reform.  He was elected by 360 votes to 220, by a mixture of Tory and Radical voters; the former, glad to embarrass the Corporation oligarchy whenever they could, were wished joy with their new champion.

Over the final decade-and-a-half of the old Corporation's existence, oligarchical control was virtually complete.  Elections to the Senior Council in this period illustrate the fulness of control eventually exercised by the ruling group. Elections became pure formalities, and members of the 'clothing' were simply nominated by their fellow members for elevation.  In September 1821, as many as four of the 18 positions became vacant simultaneously; they were filled by the nomination of just the right number of candidates from the 'clothing'.  So smooth was this process that the expression 'elected' was often replaced by 'received the appointment'.  In May 1823, Alfred Thomas Fellowes was elected a Senior Councillor to replace his dead father, and in August of the same year Mr. Kirke Swann took the place of his deceased brother, Edward A. Swann, in the select body of Senior Councillors.  The 1833 commissioners remarked on the achievement of four families, the Allens, the Wakefields, the Fellowes and the Swanns, in holding down three-quarters of the positions in the governing body. Those not related could usually be relied upon, for they would never otherwise have penetrated the ranks of the livery.  They were products, said the Journal in 1825, of a system of favouritism long acted upon, which produced aspirants 'all of one party and ready for the purpose'.  And further incentives could sometimes be added.  John Coulshaw, elected Senior Councillor in August 1787, was, in the December, given a newly created post of supervisor of Corporation workmen, which brought him 40 guineas per year, 'the price of a servile vote', in the opinion of the Journal, 'the price for which the choice of the people is sold'.

The remaining members of the governing part of the Corporation were the Junior Councillors, six in number, who, like the rest, sat for life or until retirement, but who, unlike the others, required only the qualification of burgess to be eligible for election.  It was only after a long struggle to enforce the terms of the Charter that the Senior Council were forced in 1776 to accept Junior Councillors into Common Hall as part of the Corporate body.  This background to their arrival, against the wishes of the established body, ensured that the Junior Councillors would play an opposition role from the start.  They were almost entirely chosen at contested elections, though very occasionally an unopposed return would be made.  The Junior Councillors appear to have been the 'democratic', popular element inside the governing body, but they were, as the Commissioners pointed out, too few to have much influence.  Also, they were not eligible for senior positions.

The Junior Council was the only means of access to Corporation business, though not power, for those outside the magic circle.  Contestants for membership tended to call themselves, or be called, Tories, though they were also discontented Whigs and men fighting under the 'Radical' label.  All those elected in the period 1785-1835 were Tories, though the policies they pursued were anti-Corporation oligarchy rather than specifically Tory.  It was the Junior Council who took the lead in resisting the growing power of the oligarchy.  In 1777, soon after their admission to the Council, the Junior Councillors had attempted, unsuccessfully, to usurp the traditional right of the Mayor to nominate to the livery.  Had they succeeded, Nottingham might have had a Tory oligarchy in 1833.  In October 1789, it was the Junior Council who successfully invoked the Test and Corporation Acts against Mayor Smith, who, unlike most of Nottingham's Nonconformist Mayors, was unwilling to make his token act of conformity.  In 1807, Lewis Allsopp, on his election as Junior Councillor, refused to take the Corporation's oath of secrecy on the grounds that it was part of his mission to expose Corporation misgovernment; the Corporation were eventually directed to admit him in spite of his refusal.  Some gestures succeeded; other failed, such as the attemp.t in January 1803 to prevent the town magistrates from defending themselves at the public expense against charges of improper electoral conduct, under the pretence, said the Junior Councillors, of 'supporting the honour and dignity of the Corporation'.

What the commissioners, and later observers, failed to notice is that the Senior Council, knowing the powerlessness of the Junior body, made no attempt to control its composition.  There is no reason to suppose that elections to the Junior Council could not have been manipulated, like any other Nottingham event, by the Corporation.  In fact, the Senior Council remained aloof, allowing Tories, Radicals or anyone else to contest the representation, so that the Junior Councillors became virtually a tolerated, official opposition.  In the period 1785-1835, Tories won every election to the Junior Council.  In January 1794, when anti-Jacobin feeling was nearing its height, John James was returned unopposed, but this was unusual.  In 1798, Richard Hooton, a Tory, defeated Robert Brown, a framework-knitter, who stood as a Radical.  In 1801, the magistrates intervened firmly to ensure the peaceful, as well as comfortable, return of Charles Twells, an attorney, again a Tory, which suggests a certain disinterestedness in the outcome.  One of the classic contests for the Junior Council occurred in 1815, when James Dale, a Tory, beat Richard Bonnington, a Whig.  This was in no way a Corporation defeat, for Bonnington had mobilised on his side support and ideas which the Corporation could not tolerate.  Robert Denison advocated the right of burgesses to have more influence in; Corporation affairs, whilst Thomas Richards, proposing Bonnington, attacked the degenerate Corporation as unfit for the 19th century.  Two other contests of interest occurred in this period.  In August 1832, Richard Sutton, of the Nottingham Review, stood as a Radical and was defeated by Samuel Roberts, a Tory, and, in January 1835, there was a lively contest between two Tories.  The issue on this occasion was enclosure, and the supporter of enclosure was, almost inevitably, defeated.

It is clear that, although in many of these contests the good name of the Corporation Whigs was at stake, their electoral management was not in question. They were content that Tories should fight it out with Radical or Whig malcontents for positions which, when attained, gave members no practical control or influence over affairs of the town.  They were evidently considered worth having from a prestige point of view, since bribery went on extensively on these occasions.  William Parsons, for instance, the defeated candidate in 1835, believed that his father had spent about £1,400 on the campaign.

The powers and privileges of the governing group, on occasions challenged by members of the Junior Council, were also widely resented in the town at large, and sometimes challenged by groups from the body of burgesses as a whole, but two test cases in 1807 and 1809 served only to reinforce and formalise the powers which opponents sought to undermine.  In November 1807, John L. Darker challenged the exclusive right of the 'clothing' to present candidates for the Senior Council; though not a member of the livery himself, he offered himself for election and proceeded to campaign for burgess support.  When the day of the poll came, however, he was simply declared ineligible by the presiding official, and he could do little to take the matter further.  In 1809, a more. spirited resistance was made by a number of burgesses, who challenged the exclusive right of the 'clothing' to elect the Aldermen of the Corporation, which had been unsuccessfully questioned previously in 1791.  Having elected their own rival 'Aldermen', the burgesses secured the central government's support for their case, and the Mayor was compelled to defend his interpretation of the Charter against the Crown.  He won his case, and the burgesses continued to be excluded from all choice of Aldermen.  It was argued, in defence of this, that to allow the burgesses at large any say in the matter would bring inconvenience and the possibility of disorder upon the town; the Aldermen were in any case town magistrates also, and popular election of magistrates was not a notion to be encouraged.


S.D. Chapman
Transactions of the Thoroton Society - Vol. LXVI 1962; Ps 51-2

During the eighteenth century the Corporation of Nottingham had been largely monopolised by the "old" presbyterian nonconformity at High Pavement Chapel, (later to become the Unitarian Chapel), a congregation established by a group of wealthy and influential burgesses during the Commonwealth.  The first chapel was built around 1690 but even in its infancy, its congregations embraced some of the first rank families of the town; the Pierrepoints, Plumptres, Sherwins and Musters and included many men influential in Nottingham's affairs, especially in the business of the Corporation. This influence reached its zenith during the last quarter of the eighteenth century when among fifteen men who shared the mayoralty by rotation, twelve are known to have been leading members of High Pavement.  The influence of the High Pavement leadership is easily discernible in the utilitarian plans for reforming morals and so securing property, revealed in the foundation of the general town Sunday school and the High Pavement Charity School.  During the first three decades of the nineteenth century, and up to the close of the period covered by this study, the Evangelicals gradually manoeuvred themselves into the position of leadership in the Corporation once occupied by the Presbyterians.  During the first thirty-four years of the century there were six mayors who are known to have been Evangelicals; between them these six took the mayoralty fifteen times.  The most influential political figure outside the Corporation, though intimately connected with it, was Charles Sutton (1765-1829), the Radical owner of the popular Nottingham Review.  Sutton was a leading member of the Methodist New Connexion.  He was closely associated, with Alderman William Wilson (1769-1833), the leading Evangelical in the Corporation.  Wilson was a wealthy hosier and cotton-spinner and a member of Castle Gate Chapel, which came under Methodist influence towards the end of the eighteenth century.  Both Sutton and Wilson had been members of High Pavement, but had renounced their former connections; both were radical in their political and religious beliefs; both were enthusiasts for popular education. They sought to bring both spiritual and political enlightenment to Nottingham's proletariat.  The other member of the Evangelical movement who must be mentioned is Absalom Barnett (1773-1850), permanent Assistant Overseer of the Poor of St. Mary's parish, and the town's foremost authority on all social questions.

occasioned by a Letter lately sent to the Mayor and
some other members of the Corporation of that town.
by Gilbert Wakefield; 25th November 1789

Letter sent to William Smith Esq., Mayor, Nottingham

Nottingham 21st October 1789

The Junior Council present their most respectful Compliments to the Mayor of Nottingham; take Leave to inform him, 'tis with Pain they have observed, that a total Disregard to the qualifying Laws for Offices has for some time taken Place in this Town. They therefore give him this timely Information, that if he neglects to qualify for his office, they shall feel themselves obliged to enforce a Law, which they think founded in Wisdom.

In this address the Junior Council disclaim the smallest Animosity to the Mayor. They take up this Affair upon Public Ground - In Defence of the Laws and Constitution of their Country.

This provoked a furious response from Gilbert Wakefield. In his address, published as a pamphlet, he remarks:-

'Many of you, I daresay, are unacquainted with the Nature of the Test Act, to which our Junior Council are endeavouring to compel the Mayor and some of the Corporation to conform. (Later he admits that what he describes as the Test Act should, in the context of election to corporate office, have referred to the Corporation Act.) This Act, which was passed in the Reign of Charles the Second, directs, among other things, all officers civil and military, within six Calendar Months after their Admission to receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, according to the usage of the Church of England, in some public Church, immediately after divine service, and to deliver into Court a Certificate thereof signed by the Minister and Church-Warden, and also to prove the same by two credible Witnesses; upon Forfeiture of 500l. (£500) and Disability to hold the said office.

Such is the Injunction of this Act; and the Intention of it professes to be, "the security of the established Church against Perils of Non-Conformists of all Denominations."

Now it is well known that our present chief Magistrate, and many of his Brethren in Authority, are Dissenters from the Worship of the established Church, and addicted, we have reason to believe, to their own religious Faith with as much Attachment, and upon Inducements as conscientious, as a Church-of-England-Man to his. You see then the Difficulty, to which these Gentlemen are reduced by the Determination of the Junior Council. They must either conform to a Ceremony against their Consciences, and thus offend the supreme Being by a profane Prostitution of a most serious and solemn Act - or pay a Penalty of 500l. and give up an office to which they have been chosen by the proper Authority - or suffer the consequences of a Prosecution.

He then waxes forth for another 15 pages, expostulating against the iniquitous idea that "the Magistrate, or ruling Power of a Nation, has a Right to enquire into the Religious Opinions of his Subjects, to prescribe Rules for the Regulation of these Opinions, and to demand a Declaration of them."

He goes on to point out that "what is Non-Conformity in England is in Scotland the established Church; and we of the Church of England, as soon as we pass the Tweed, become Dissenters."

In his conclusion he asserts "that there are Duties, owed by us to God and to ourselves, antecedent and superior to all civil Power upon Earth; and that those injunctions of civil Magistrates, which contradict any explicit Doctrine of Morality, are from the first, to all Purposes and in every Sense, NULL and VOID.

In spite of Wakefield's tirade, the Nottingham Journal dated 31st October and 28th November records that the Junior Council were successful with their action.

Wakefield's fiery oratory landed him in serious trouble on another occasion.  In 1799 he was sentenced to two years in prison for seditious libel; he had characterised Pitt's government as ' the most pestilential ministry ever commissioned by the wrath of Heaven to sink a great but guilty nation in the gulf of disgrace and misery.' (A reply to some parts of the Bishop of Llandaff's Address) Another critic of Bishop Watson of Llandaff, described as a 'government apologist', was Benjamin Flower, editor of the Cambridge Intelligence, who was sent to Newgate for six months in 1799 for referring to the Bishop as a 'time-server and apostate'.


(Copy of entry in the Dictionary of National Biography)

Marsh,†John†(1752-1828), musician and writer, was born on 31 May 1752 at Dorking, Surrey, the first of the five children of Henry Marsh (1713-1772), captain in the Royal Navy, and his wife, Mary (Molly; 1715/20-1759)' probably the daughter of Edward Tyler, a dissenting tradesman of Dorking.  The loss of eleven days after the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in August 1752 resulted in John Marsh's celebrating his birthday on 11 June.  In 1757 Marsh's father was posted to one of the royal yachts at Greenwich, where in 1759 young John started his education at Greenwich Academy.  Five years later Captain Marsh was sent to Portsmouth, a move that led to Marsh's being sent to complete his education at Bishop's Waltham school.  In 1765 he commenced a diary, subsequently transferred to a series of journals, that would prove the foundation of his principal claim to fame.  These journals, or 'History of my private life', as Marsh entitled his work, were assiduously maintained until a few weeks before his death.  Running to thirty-seven volumes and a total of 6704 pages, the journals are now housed in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California, USA, which purchased them at auction in 1990.  The previously known version in the University of Cambridge Library is a much-abridged adaptation by Marsh's youngest son, Edward Garrard Marsh.

Today the journals are of value not only for the details they provide of Marsh's own life, but for the vivid account of life in the cathedral cities of southern England in which he lived and worked.  From them we learn that Marsh incurred parental displeasure by resisting attempts to persuade him to follow his father into the Royal Navy.  Instead in 1768 he became articled to a solicitor in Romsey, Hampshire, completing his legal training at the Inner Temple in London in 1773-4.  While Marsh was in Romsey he developed the early interest in music formerly discouraged by his father, teaching himself to play several instruments, inaugurating a series of subscription concerts, and making his first attempts at composition.  Returning from London, where he took every advantage to experience the vibrant musical life of the capital, Marsh set up as a lawyer in Romsey.  On 15 November 1774 he married Elizabeth Catherine Brown (1756/7-1819), daughter of a Salisbury apothecary, Henry Brown, and his wife, Dorothea.  Their first son, John (d. 1832) was born the following year.  He was followed by four other sons, and a daughter, of whom only Edward Garrard and Henry reached adulthood.

Feeling restricted by the small-town atmosphere of Romsey, Marsh moved his family to Salisbury in 1776, entering into a legal partnership.  He rapidly became fully involved in the thriving musical life of the city, playing in the subscription concerts and annual festival.  This fresh stimulus was conclusive in deciding where Marsh's true interests lay.  During the next seven years he was more likely to be found composing symphonies or anthems than attending to legal matters.  After inheriting a large family estate in Kent and removing his family to Nethersole House near Barham, in 1783, Marsh unsurprisingly gave little time to the legal profession.  He was now offered the management of the ailing Canterbury concerts, which immediately benefited from his organizational skill and ability to work with the sometimes uneasy mixture of professional and amateur players who performed in eighteenth-century provincial orchestras.  However, Marsh soon found the expense of running a large country house too great. Nethersole was sold and, after a short interregnum in Canterbury, the family moved to a house in North Pallant, Chichester, Sussex, in April 1787.  This remained his home for the last forty years of his life.  As at Canterbury, Marsh found concert life in Chichester in a poor state following a schism.  Here too he was offered management of the subscription concerts, skilfully reconciling the warring parties into a management committee while retaining overall control of repertory and the financial affairs of the orchestra.  The orchestra, utilizing the services of the wind and brass players of the local Sussex militia, was expanded in size, enabling Marsh to programme a judicious combination of the ancient (primarily Corelli) and modern styles.  Many of his own symphonies and other orchestral works were introduced into the repertory, along with those of J. C. Bach and Haydn.  Marsh's success in reviving concert life in Chichester is reflected in a report in the Sussex Weekly Advertiser of 14 April 1804, at the end of the 1803/4 season: 'The concert, as usual, was distinguished for the excellence of selection, under the influence of its leader and director, J. Marsh, Esq., an amateur of fortune, whose compositions and skill have long since obtained him the highest estimation'.  The Chichester concert continued in a flourishing state until 1813, when after twenty-five years Marsh finally stepped down from the directorship.

While music forms the principal thread running through John Marsh's life, it was by no means the only interest of the lively mind revealed in his writings.  A lifelong interest in astronomy was stimulated by a meeting with William Herschel in Bath and led to his publishing two books on the subject.  His other literary works included a satirical novel, A Tour through some of the Southern Counties of England, by Peregrine Project and Timothy Type (1804).  As a gentleman with a reasonably comfortable income from the Kentish estate retained after he moved to Chichester, Marsh was an inveterate traveller whose reaction to the death of his wife in 1819 was to undertake a tour to Scotland involving a round journey of some 1440 miles.  His observations on musical life in London, to which he was a frequent visitor, are among the most valuable of the period.  A staunch Anglican who in 1822 became involved with a society concerned with the conversion of the Jews, Marsh's faith did not preclude withering criticism of some of the clerics with whom he came into contact.  In his later years Marsh turned increasingly to charitable work, being involved with the first Lancastrian schools to be established in Chichester and the anti-slavery movement.  In accord with the times in which he lived, Marsh reveals little of his own emotions in his journals, but the picture that emerges is of a man of great energy, considerable leadership qualities, and an innate kindness which was not to be imposed upon.  A natural family man, his consideration for his frequently ailing wife is one of many endearing traits to emerge from his writings.

The catalogue of John Marsh's musical compositions, many of them now lost, is substantial.  It includes over fifty symphonies and other orchestral works, nearly thirty chamber works, organ music, a large number of services and anthems, and secular vocal works.  He died at his home in North Pallant, Chichester, on 31 October 1828 after a short illness, and was buried at All Saints, West Pallant, on 7 November. [Unhappily, the church is now de-consecrated and is the local office of the Red Cross.  The churchyard has been covered in tarmac and is a car park. John Marsh's tomb has long since disappeared.]
b Brian Robins

J. Marsh, 'History of my private life (1797-1828)', Hunt. L., MS 54457
The John Marsh journals: the life and times of a gentleman composer, ed. B. Robins (1998)
J. Brewer, The pleasures of the imagination: English culture in the eighteenth century (1997)
IGI Archives CUL, journals
Hunt. L., journals


An anonymous song consisting of seventeen verses of irreverent dialogue between Spintext, a drunken cleric, and Moses, his clerk.

At the sign of the Horse, Old Spintext, of course,
Each night took his pipe and his pot.
O'er a Joram of nappy, quite pleasant and happy,
Was plac'd this Canonical Sot.
Tol de rol de rol to dol di dol.

The evening was dark, when in came the Clerk,
With reverence due and submission.
First strok'd his cravat, then twirl'd round his hat,
And bowing, prefer'd his petition.

I'm come, Sir, says he, to beg, look d'ye see,
Of your Reverend, worship and glory,
To inter a poor baby with as much speed as may be,
And I'll walk with my lanthorn before you.

The body we'll bury but, pray, where's the hurry?
Why Lord, Sir, the corpse it does stay;
You fool, hold your peace, since miracles cease,
A corpse, Moses, can't run away.

Then Moses he smil'd,saying, Sir, a small child
Cannot long delay your intentions.
Why, that's true, by St. Paul, a dead child that is small
Can never enlarge its dimensions.

Bring Moses some beer and bring me some, d'ye hear;
I hate to be called from my liquor.
Come Moses; the King!; 'tis a scandalous thing
Such a thing should be put to a Vicar.

Then Moses he spoke, Sir, 'tis past twelve o'clock;
Besides there's a terrible shower.
Why Moses, you Elf, since the clock has struck twelve,
I'm sure it can never strike more.

Besides, my dear friend, this lesson attend,
Which to say and to swear I'll be bold,
That the corpse, snow or rain, can't endanger, that's plain,
But perhaps you and I may take cold.
Then Moses went on: Sir, the clock has struck one;
Pray, master, look up at the hand.
Why, it can ne'er strike less, 'tis a folly to press
A man for to go that can't stand.
At length, hat and cloak old orthodox took
But first cramm'd his jaw with a quid.
Each tip't off a gill, for fear they should chill,
And then stagger'd away, side by side.

When come to the grave, the clerk humm'd a stave,
While the Surplice was wrapp'd round the Priest.
Where so droll was the figure of Moses and Vicar,
That the parish still talk of the jest.
Good people, let's pray; put the corpse t'other way.
Or perchance I shall over it stumble.
'Tis best to take care, tho' the Sages declare,
A mortuum caput can't tremble.

Woman that's born of Man; that's wrong, the leaf's torn,
Oh!, Man that is born of a Woman,
Can't continue an hour, but is cut down like a flower;
You see, Moses, death spareth no man.

Here, Moses, do look; what a confounded book,
Sure the letters are turn'd upside down.
Such a scandalous print, sure, the devil is in't
That this Basket should print for the Crown.

Prithee, Moses, you read, for I cannot proceed,
And bury the corpse in my stead.
Amen ... Amen.
Why, Moses, you're wrong, pray hold your tongue,
You've taken the tail for the head.

O, where's thy sting, Death!, put the corpse in the earth,
For believe me, 'tis terrible weather.
So the corpse was interr'd without praying a word,
And away they both stagger together,
Singing tol de rol de rol to dol di dol.


City of Portsmouth City Records Office
3, Museum Road, Portsmouth POl 2LE
 (i)Phillimore; Hampshire Parish Registers - Rowner marriages.
 (ii)Record of gravestone inscriptions and Sexton's burial record for St. Mary's Church, Alverstoke. (Ref: 1148A/13 - Grave A129).
International Genealogical Index
Compiled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).
Complete sets for the U.K., on microfiche, are available in major public libraries.
 (i)Extracts for Gosport and Nottingham.
Dr. Williams Library
14, Gordon Square, London WClH OAG Tel: 0207-3873727
 (i) H. McLachlan. English Education under the Test Acts. (1931). pp 175-187; Homerton Academy.
 (ii) The Throckmorton Trust 1664-1941. pp 70-93.
 (iii) Minute book of the Congregational Society.
 (iv) Minute book of the King's Head Society.
 (v) Joshua Wilson. Manuscript memorials of the Dissenting Academies.
 (vi) Bogue & Bennett. History of the Dissenters: Vol. II (1809). pp 242-3.
 (vii) Memoir of the Rev. David Bogue D.D. The Congregational Magazine;
Vol IX, Nos. 13 & 14 N.S. (Jan & Feb 1826).
 (viii) Bogue & Bennett. History of the Dissenters: Vol. II (1809). pp 242-3.
 (vii) Induction of the Rev. Thomas Williams at Gosport.  A sermon preached at Gosport, at the ordination of the Reverend Mr. Thomas Williams, June 6, 1750.
Homerton College; 1695-1978
T.H.Simms; 1979
      The Founding of the Academy in London.  pp 6-11.
Public Record Office
Chancery Lane, London WC2A lLR Tel: 0207-4040741
The National Library of Wales
Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 3BU Tel: 01970-632800
Nottinghamshire Record Office and Southwell Diocesan Record Office
(Nottinghamshire Archives)
County House, Castle Meadow Road, Nottingham NG2 lAG
Tel: 0115 -958 1634 E-mail:
 (i)Registers of births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, on microfilm.
 (ii)Partnership Indenture between Wright Coldham and Francis Hart.
 (iii)Extract from the Will of Wright Coldham; 11th March 1816.
 (iv)Abstract of Deed of Assignment relating to the Will of George Coldham.
Local Studies Library, Nottingham Central Library
Angel Row, Nottingham NGl 6HP Tel: 0115 -915 2873
 (i)Microfilm of Nottingham Journal.
 (ii)Nottingham poll books.
 (iii)Nottinghamshire Directories - Pigot, White, Kelly
 (iv)Records of the Borough of Nottingham; Volume VIII
 (v)Microfilm of census returns for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901
 (vi)G. Carter. Pencil drawing of Plumptre House, east aspect; St. Mary's Church on left. 1844. (Ref: 18073).
Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Hallward Library
University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD Tel: 0115-9514565
 (i)Minute book and Register of Members of Castle Gate Meeting, Nottingham.
 (ii)Minute book and Register of Members of the High Pavement Chapel, Nottingham.
 (iii)Register of Births and Baptisms belonging to the Society of Protestant Dissenters, High Pavement Chapel, Nottingham - AD 1722 to 1837.
 (iv)'An Address to the Inhabitants of Nottingham', by Gilbert Wakefield.
Norfolk Record Office
The Archive Centre, Martineau Lane, Norwich NR1 2DQ Tel: 01603 222599
The Borthwick Institute of Historical Research
St. Anthony's Hall, York YOl 2PW Tel: 01904-59861 Ext. 274
Autobiographical diary of Edmund Sydney Williams 1867-1889
Notes compiled by Fritz L.Williams in 1973
Summarising research carried out by professional genealogists, Mr. Bernard Davis, commissioned by Hal Willlams in 1927-8, and Mrs Stowell of Southampton, commissioned by himself in 1969-70.
The Lives of Two Brothers
E. L. Gardner & F.Marsh, (daughters of Lydia and Edward Garrard Marsh).
 (i)Appendix IV, quoted by Fritz Williams.
The Diary and Autobiographical Journal of John Marsh (1752-1828)
37 volumes, each of c.180 pages; around 6,600 pages in total. The original Diary and Journal was bought by the Huntington Library, 1151, Oxford Road, San Morino, California 91108, in November 1990. (Ref: HM 54457). A microfilm copy has been deposited in the British Library, Great Russell Street, London WClB 3DG and a complete set of the microfilm, (6 reels), can also be purchased from the Huntington Library for bona fide research.
Autobiographical diary of Edward Garrard Marsh (May 1817 - May 1818)
Only one volume of these is known to have survived, covering May 1817 - May 1818. It was discovered in the papers of Dr. Henry Williams of New Zealand, after his death, by his nephew, Simon Williams. No one knows how it got there, or whether any other volumes exist and, if so, where they are. The abstracts referred to here have been incorporated with the abstracts from the Marsh Journals, at the end of Volume 31, which ends in December 1817.
The Pleasures of the Imagination - English Culture in the Eighteenth Century
John Brewer. 1997
Brief Sketches of C.M.S. Workers
Emily Headland (London 1897)
 (i)No. XXII - The Right Rev. William Williams D. C. L
A History of Cricket
Trevor Bailey. 1979
  Early cricket. pp.9-15.
Sussex Cricket in the Eighteenth Century
Timothy J. McCann. 2004
  E-mail correspondence with Nevil Harvey-Williams; 16th June 2005
English Social History
G.M.Trevelyan. 1978
 (i)Early cricket. p 362.
 (ii)Plight of the poor. p. 410.
History of England
G.M.Trevelyan. 1941
 (i)The Test Act. p 474.
 (ii)Agitation for Parliamentary Reform. pp. 561 - 563.
Erskine May
Vol. II, Chapter IX, pp. 278-292
An account of the alarms created by the seditious writings of Thomas Paine and other sympathisers with the Jacobin sentiments of the French revolutionaries in 1792, advocating parliamentary and social reform.
Nottinghamshire in the Eighteenth Century
J. D. Chambers (1832)
 (i)Early importance of capital. pp 101-105.
 (ii)Evolution of the capitalist hosier. pp 120-1.
 (iii)Formation of literary club by Wakefield and Walker. pp 312-5.
Framework Knitting
Joan Stevenson. A Sycamore Press Publication.
The Luddite Rebellion
Brian Bailey. Sutton Publishing Ltd. 1998
A History of Nottinghamshire
A. C. Wood (S. R. Publishers Ltd.)
 (i)Structure of the oligarchy. pp 298-301.
Nottingham Through 500 years
Duncan Gray (City of Nottingham).
 (i)Structure of the oligarchy. pp 34-7.
The Politics of Nottingham Enclosure
Malcolm I. Thomis. Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Vol. LXXI; 1967.
 (i)Structure of the oligarchy. pp 92-5. Also in his book, Politics & Society in Nottingham 1785-1835. pp 114-120.
Politics & Society in Nottingham 1785-1835
Malcolm I.Thomis
 (i)Religious evolution. pp 134-41.
The Early Factory Masters
S.D.Chapman.  1967
A Centenary History of Nottingham
Edited by John Beckett.  2006
The Lace Market, Nottingham
Geoffrey Oldfield; Nottingham Civic Society, 2001
The Evangelical Revival & Education in Nottingham
S.D.Chapman. Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Vol. LXVI; 1962.
 (i)Religious evolution. pp 36-7, 50-3.
Education and Society in nineteenth century Nottingham
David Wardle
 (i)Religious evolution. pp 54-5.
History of Castle Gate Church 1655-1905
A. R. Henderson
 (i)Appointment of Rev. Richard Alliott. pp 163-7.
The Date Book of Nottingham 1750-1850
J. F. Sutton
 (i)Reference to Rev. Richard Alliott. October 1794
Diary of Abigail Gawthorn of Nottingham 1751-1810
Thoroton Record Series, Vol . 33; 1978 & 1979.
 (i)Deaths of Mr. Whiter and Mr. Williams. pp 104-5.
 (ii)Death in childbed of Ann Coldham. p 149
History of Southwell
R. P. Shilton (1818)
 (i)Mrs. Williams school in the Old Palace. pp 130-1.
A Prospect of Southwell
Norman Summers (1974)
 (i)Description of the Great Hall of the Old Palace. pp 55-6.
Southwell Grammar and Song Schools
W. A. James
 (i)Biographical note on Edward Heathcote. p 120.
Centenary Souvenir of Holy Trinity Church, Southwell 1846-1946
Holy Trinity Church - Southwell. 150 Years; 1846 - 1996
Marjorie Hustwayte and Penelope Young.
Life of Henry Williams - Vol. I
Hugh Carleton. (1874) p 33
Through Ninety Years - 1826 - 1916
By Frederick Wanklyn Williams
The Turanga Journals - Letters and Journals of William and Jane Williams
Frances Porter. (1974) pp 19, 22, 24-6, 277, 583, 585.
Te Wiremu - A Biography of Henry Williams
Lawrence M. Rogers. (1973) pp 22-3, 286
Samuel Williams of Te Aute
Sybil M. Woods. (1981) pp 19-21, 141, 149.
Williams Family Letters
Many of the letters Mary Williams wrote to her two sons, Henry and William, have survived, as have also other family letters, notably from her daughter, Catherine Heathcote, to her brothers and their wives, in New Zealand. They are preserved in the archives of the Auckland War Memorial Museum Library, New Zealand, in the Algar Williams Collection of Williams Family Papers, under MS 91/75. A selection of these, and some from other sources, including Sybil Woods and Bishop Herbert William Williams, are recorded as references for this narrative in a separate file.
A Most Beautiful and Elegant Instrument - John Marsh; The Organ
Martin Renshaw. (2002)
Alumni Oxoniensis
Joseph Foster.
A list of students who had graduated from Oxford University between 1715 and 1886.
The Life and Times of J.T.Becher of Southwell
Julie O'Neill. 2002
The Life and Times of J.T.Becher of Southwell
Julie O'Neill.  2002
Georgian Southwell
Robert Hardstaff and Philip Lyth, and correspondence with Robert Hardstaff.