Protestant Nonconformity in Witherley

Witherley is about 17 miles west of Leicester.

In 1669, a group of about 40 Presbyterians were said to meet illegally in the village at night, in the home of John King, who with his wife had ben excommunicated by the Anglican church in about 1663. Their preacher was said to have been an ejected Anglican minister, although his name was not known to the informant. Their number included Hugh and Anne Kiffe, who were clearly fairly well off, as their house had been assessed for three hearths in 1670.[1] John King’s house was licensed for dissenting meetings in 1672.[2] Interestingly, no nonconformists were noted in 1676.[3] There were three Presbyterians living in the parish in 1706.[4]

The only religious group meeting in 1829 were ‘Methodists’, who numbered about 50.[5] It is likely they were Wesleyans, as a separate building was opened for Wesleyan services in 1820, although it was not used solely religious worship. It had 50 seats, and had afternoon and evening services on 30 March 1851, attended by 26 and 44 worshippers respectively.[6]

No other records of nonconformity have yet been found for this village.


[1] R.H. Evans, ‘Nonconformists in Leicestershire in 1669’, Trans. LAHS 25 (1949), p. 128

[2] F. Bate, The Declaration of Indulgence 1672: A Study in the Rise of Organised Dissent (London, 1908)

[3] A. Whiteman, The Compton Census of 1676: A Critical Edition (London, 1986), p. 332

[4] 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. 889

[5] ROLLR, QS 95/2/1/196

[6] TNA, HO 129/397/21


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