Protestant Nonconformity in Birstall

Birstall was a chapelry of Belgrave and is on the northern outskirts of Leicester, three miles north of the city centre.

Little is known of early nonconformity here. No illegal religious meetings were recorded in 1669,[1] and this village cannot be separately identified in the census of 1676. The 1712 visitation is the first to mention specifically the extent of nonconformity in Birstall, when three families of Presbyterians (out of a total of 44 families) were noted.[2]

A regular meeting of around 20 Particular Baptists was noted here in 1829.[3] They built a chapel in 1836 which could seat 80 people. The normal Sunday morning service in 1851 was attended by 50 people on average, but 60 on 31 March. No Sunday school met that day, although there was usually an attendance of 20 for a morning session.[4] There was also a Wesleyan Methodist Association chapel in the village, which had been built in 1847. It could seat 120 people, with 96 of these sittings being free. There was only an evening service on 31 March 1851, attended by 59 people. No Sunday school was recorded.[5]

 

Notes

[1] R.H. Evans, ‘Nonconformists in Leicestershire in 1669’, Trans LAHS 25 (1949), p. 121

[2] J. Broad (ed.), Bishop Wake’s summary of visitation returns from the diocese of Lincoln, 1706-1715. Part 2, Outside Lincolnshire (Huntingdonshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Leicestershire, Buckinghamshire) (Oxford, 2012), p. 812

[3] ROLLR, QS 95/2/1/65

[4] TNA, HO 129/416/63

[5] TNA, HO 129/416/64