On this day … 8 May 1672

According to Henry Clemesha in his History of Preston, the town’s Nonconformists got their first legally sanctioned place of worship at the house of John Frankland, and their first minister, the Rev John Harvey of Tockholes.

They got it as a result of a Declaration of Indulgence by Charles II in that year, which licensed Nonconformist places of worship and their ministers. The declaration was officially withdrawn the year after, following objections from the Anglican establishment, but no action seems to have been taken to force the Nonconformists to close their conventicles, as their places of worship were known.

Royal approval for Nonconformist worship followed the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and William of Orange’s accession to the throne. Dissenters, who included Presbyterians and Quakers, were given legal sanction to worship publicly, although the Test Act still barred them from civil and military office.

The Kenyon Papers (Roger Kenyon was Lancashire’s clerk of the peace at the time) record that Preston’s Quakers could legally hold services at James Jamson’s house from 1689, and the Presbyterians could meet in William Holder’s barn in St John’s Weind and at Mrs Mary Preston’s house. Walton Hall in Walton-le-Dale was licensed as a meeting place for Dissenters.

Map of St John's Lane or Weind, Preston in 16

William Holder’s house in St John’s Lane (or Weind) is shown on the map (based on a 1685 survey of Preston) pictured. It would have been possible to approach his barn discretely by the footway at the rear, while worship there was still illegal. A Joshua Jameson was living two doors away, and that is a possible location for the house where the Quakers met, although there were two more Jameson families living at the bottom of Friargate on Fryer Weind (now Marsh Lane), who could also be candidates, see picture.

Map of Fryers Weind (now Marsh Lane) Preston in 1685

The upheavals following on from the Glorious Revolution had their impact on the Anglican Church as well. The Kenyon Papers contain a list of ‘conformable clergy’, that is Anglicans who had accepted William III as king, and their ‘chapels and meeting places in Lancashire’. They included George Sedgwick, curate at Broughton; James Butterworth, minister at ‘Goosenargh’; George Walmsley, vicar of Leyland; James Bland, curate at Preston; and William Coulton, curate at ‘Walton-in-le-Dale’.

Anglican support for William, and especially for his Hanoverian successors, the several King Georges, was not guaranteed. Many High Church Anglicans, and who were also Tories, felt guilty about abandoning the Stuart monarchy, and, along with Catholics, lent, usually, passive support to the Jacobites.

There was no hint of disloyalty at the parish church in Preston, where the Hoghton family had installed the Rev Samuel Peploe, fiercely loyal to the Hanovers and virulently anti-papist. Nor was there any when he was succeeded by his son, Samuel junior. He was appointed by the king.

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