Protestant Nonconformity in Harby

Harby is a village in north Leicestershire, 9 miles north of Melton Mowbray.

The house of husbandman Christopher Levis was used in 1669 for meetings on about 20 Quakers ‘of the poorer sort of people’. Their ‘teachers’ were said to be William Smith, Elizabeth Hooton and Leviston Patrick.[1] By 1676 there were said to be 47 nonconformists in the village, and 138 who conformed.[2] There was no meeting house in 1706, but the rector reported five families of Quakers in the parish, and in 1709 gave the number of Quakers in those families as 22.[3]

Two nonconformist places of worship submitted census returns in 1851. A Calvinist chapel had been built in 1824 to accommodate 100 worshippers, although only 14 attended the only service on census Sunday.[4] The other chapel was Wesleyan Methodist, built in 1847 with a Sunday school building, with 300 sittings, 190 of which were free. There were morning and evening services on Sunday 30 March, attended by 60 and 185 people respectively, with 65 attending the morning Sunday School.[5]  The Wesleyan chapel stood on land given by John Orson, who had also contributed substantially towards the cost of £400.[6]

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[1] R.H. Evans, ‘Nonconformists in Leicestershire in 1669’, Trans LAHS 25 (1949), 141

[2] A. Whiteman, The Compton Census of 1676: A Critical Edition (London, 1986)

[3] . 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), pp. 763-4.

[4] TNA, HO 129/418/65

[5] TNA, HO 129/418/64

[6] White, Hist. Gaz. & Dir. Leics. (Sheffield, 1863) p. 353

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