Protestant Nonconformity in Ashby Parva

The village of Ashby Parva is in south Leicestershire, around 14 miles south of the county town and 3 miles north of Lutterworth.

A conventicle of around 20 people of the ‘poorer sort’, believed to be ‘Anabaptists’, met on Sundays in Ashby Parva in 1669 at the house of Roger Norman ‘an excommunicate person’. Their ‘teacher’ was husbandman Thomas Morris.[1]

The rector commented in 1712, ‘I have sufficient reason to Believe that several who pretend to be Dissenters in this Town, & several that don’t pretend to be Dissenters, seldome go to any place of publick Religious Worship: And I heartily wish some effectual Method might be contrived to restrain people from going to the Meetings, or pretending to go thither, to evade the penalty of the Laws’. He counted five families in Ashby Parva who were wholly dissenters and another five families where some were dissenters, all of whom were Presbyterians or Independents. No meeting houses within the parish are mentioned, but he had noted two licensed meeting houses in 1709, ‘but seldom used’, one for Presbyterians or independents, at which Peter Dowley (minister at Lutterworth) preached, and the other where Joseph Perry, a Particular Baptist, preached.  He counted around 8 Particular Baptists in the parish and 12 Independents or Presbyterians.[2]

No nonconformist congregation was recorded here in 1851, but a Congregational chapel was built in the village in 1868.[3]


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[1] R.H. Evans, ‘Nonconformists in Leicestershire in 1669’, Trans LAHS, 25 (1949), p. 133

[2] J. Broad (ed.), Bishop Wake’s Summary of Visitation Returns from the Diocese of Lincoln, 1706-1715 (Oxford, 2012), II, p. 836

[3]Kelly’s Dir. of Leics. (1881), 482

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