Another Keighley Local Studies Archive Treasure

What’s in the Box?

BK15, The 1763 Keighley Methodist Records.

When, in 1763, William Grimshaw, the famous perpetual curate of Haworth died, John Wesley sent in some quite capable preachers to take control of the Methodist Circuit built around him. The superintendent he chose was William Fugill, who, although of a dissolute character (he was sacked shortly afterwards for drunkenness and immorality), was an extremely capable organiser. The circuit, based on Keighley was enormous, stretching from Elland through north west England to Longtown at the Scottish Border. In total there were 63 societies and 1804 members. Fugill followed Wesley’s instructions and the preachers visited each society every quarter and interviewed the members, recording their names, marital status, occupation, residence, and their spiritual attainment, which the superintendent copied into a register. That register is held in the Keighley Local Studies Archive and is the earliest full record in existence in the country holding more than simply members’ names. This is a gold mine for researchers and has been used several times in the past to understand something of what Methodism meant to the ordinary people in the mid eighteenth century. A treasure indeed!

A workshop, illustrating these records will be held via Zoom at the Really Useful Show of the Federation of Family History Societies on Saturday, 12th November.

Robert Schofield,
Editor, E-Bulletin, Family and Community History Research Society.

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