Sunday, May 28, 2017

Edward & Elizabeth (Willis) Naisbett

Before we look at Edward and Elizabeth (Willis) Naisbett we can go back a further 2 generations to:

*Cuthbert Christopher Naisbett born 1700 at Gateshead, County Durham, Eng.  Married unknown.

We do know Cuthbert Naisbett had 2 sons, Robert Aisbeth and John Aisbeth. (The spelling varies but I believe it is from the same family) .
*Robert Aisbeth born in Gateshead and died 17 June 1742 in Gateshead. Robert married Barbara Shaftoe born 1709 at Gateshead, County Durham and died 23 November 1771 in Gateshead on 24 December 1732 at St Mary's, Gateshead.

Together they had 5 children:
John Aisbitt born 1733 at Gateshead, County Durham married Susannah Arthur and had 2 sons.
*Edward Aisbett born 1735 at Gateshead, who married Ann Clennell and had 6 children. 
Ann Aisbitt born 1738 at Gateshead and died 23 May 1778 at Gateshead, Cound Durham, England.
Robert Aisbitt born 1740 at Gateshead, County Durham, England.
Alice Aisbitt born 1741 at Gateshead and married Joseph Gordon on 23 March 1761 at St Mary's, Gateshead, County Durham, England.

John Aisbeth, born in Gateshead married Elizabeth Hould on 27 December 1737 in Gateshead.
Together they had 9 children: (all born at Gateshead) 
Ralph Aisbeth born 1738, Mary Aisbeth born 1742, Barbara Aisbeth born 1743, John Aisbeth born 1743, Mary Aisbeth born 1744, Elizabeth Aisbeth born 1748, Edward Aisbeth born 1749, John Aisbeth born 1750, Elizabeth Aisbeth born 1752.

 Edward & Ann (Clennell) Aisbett

*Edward Aisbitt born 1735 at Gateshead, County Durham and died November 1784 at Wallsend, England.  Edward married Ann Clennell born 5 July 1741 at Whickham, County Durham and died November 1784 at Wallsend, England on 18 October 1767 at St Mary's, Gateshead, County Durham. 

Together they had 6 children:
Robert Aisbett  born 6 March 1768 in Gateshead, County Durham, England. Robert married Alice Pearson on 26 November 1785 at Jarrow, County Durham, England.

Anne Naisbett born 1769 in Gateshead, County Durham, England.

Barbara Naisbett born 10 December 1769 in Gateshead and died 23 November 1771 in Gateshead.

Richard Naisbett born 1775 in Gateshead and died 6 February 1835 in Easington, County Durham.
Richard married Ann Wall (born 1770 and died 1836) on 7 October 1798 at Chester le Street, County Durham, England.

*Edward Naisbett born 1776 in Gateshead and died 22 September 1841 in Urpeth, County Durham. Edward married Elizabeth Willis (born 1783 at Washington, County Durham and died March 1866 at Gateshead, County Durham) on 20 February 1803 at Chester Le Street, County Durham

Dorothy Naisbett born 27 June 1779 in Gateshead, County Durham, England.

Edward & Elizabeth (Willis) Naisbett

*Edward Naisbett born 1776 in Gateshead, County Durham, England and died 22 September 1841 in Urpeth, County Durham, England at 65 year.
Edward married Elizabeth Willis born 1783 in Washington, County Durham, England and died March 1866 in Gateshead, County Durham, England aged 83 on 20 February 1803 in Chester Le Street, County Durham, England.

Together they had 12 children: 
Ann Naisbett born 16 October 1803 in Chester le Street, Durham, England.

Michael Naisbett born 17 February 1805 in Chester Le Street, Durham and died 1876 in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England.  Michael married Ann Myers 20 July 1833 in St Andrew, Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

Maudin Naisbett born 14 November 1806 in Chester Le Street, Durham and died 22 November 1806 aged 8 days.

Barbara Naisbett born 14 November 1806 in Chester Le Street, Durham.  Barbara married 1. John Irwin2. James Watton on 9 May 1829 in St Nicholas, Newcastle on Tyne, Northumberland. 

Magdaline Naisbett born 30 January 1809 in Urpeth, Durham.  Magdaline married William Middlemas on 10 March 1835 in St Andrew, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, England.

*Elizabeth Naisbett born 2 May 1811 in Urpeth, County Durham and died 15 October 1871 in Upper Liverpool Street, Hobart, Tasmania aged 61 years.  Elizabeth married 1. William Davidson in St David's Church of England, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia on 1 September 1829.  Elizabeth married 2. Edward Allason in All Bowden Place, Davey Street, Hobart on 16 January 1843. 

Dorothy Naisbett born 1813 in Urpeth, County Durham.  Dorothy married Thomas Gibson

Edward Naisbett born 3 March 1815 in Urpeth and died 17 March 1815, aged 14 days.

Edward Naisbett born 1816 in Ouston, County Durham and died May 1818.

Richard Naisbett born 1818 in Ouston, County Durham, England.

Robert Naisbett born 1821 in Ouston, County Durham and died 1891 in Ouston, County Durham and died 1891 Chester Le Street, County Durham.  Robert married 1. Jane Newlands and  2. Jane Mean on 16 July 1843.

Hannah Naisbett born 1822 in Ouston, County Durham, England.

Now we can take a look at the early ancestors/family of Elizabeth Willis born 1783 who married Edward Naisbett born 1776 on 20 February 1803.

Edward & Elizabeth (Brown) Willis

Edward Willis born 1725 in Lanchester, County Durham, England married 1. Elizabeth Hickson in May 1840. Edward married 2. Elizabeth Brown born 1830 in Lanchester on 25 December 1748 in Lanchester. 

Together they had 9 children: (all born at Lanchester).
Edward Willis born 1749 in Lanchester and married Sarah Daglish born 1755 on 9 June 1774. 

*Michael Willis born 1751 at Lanchester County Durham married Magdalene Hutchinson born 1756 at Brancepeth, County Durham on 8 November 1779 in Lanchester.

Jane Willis born 1754, Sarah Willis born 1756, Anthony Willis born 1758, Addinel Willis born 1760, Isobel Willis born 1762, Thomas Willis born 1763, Hannah Willis born 1765.

 Michael & Magdaline (Hutchinson) Willis

*Michael Willis born 1751 in Lanchester, County Durham, England married Magdaline Hutchinson born 1756 in Brancepeth, County Durham on 8 November 1779 in Lanchester, County Durham.

Together they had 10 children:
John Willis born 1780 at Chester Le Street, County Durham and died before August 1812 at Chester Le Street.  John married Mary Willis on 29 November 1807 in Chester Le Street, County Durham and they had 4 children. 

Edward Willis born 1781 at Chester Le Street.  Edward married Jane Smart on 21 June 1806 at Chester Le Street, County Durham and they had 3 children. 

*Elizabeth Willis born 1783 in Washington and died March 1866 at Gateshead aged 83 years.
Elizabeth married Edward Naisbett born 1776 at Gateshead and died 22 September 1841 in Urpeth, County Durham aged 65 years. They had 12 children (see above).

Frances Willis born 1785, Magdalene Willis born 1787 married John Maddison in 1808, Jane Willis born 1789, Margaret Willis born 1791, Hannah Willis born 1793, Michael Willis born 1797 married Hannah Nesbit born 1799 and they had 3 sons, Sarah Willis born 1799.

Elizabeth Naisbett (nee Willis) born 1783 in Washington, County Durham married Edward Naisbett (1776-1841) on 20 February 1803 in Chester Le Street, County Durham, England.

Elizabeth Naisbett born 2 May 1811 at Urpeth, Durham and died at home on 15 October 1871 at 200 Upper Liverpool St, Hobart. Elizabeth married 1. William Davidson 1 September 1829 and 2. Edward Allason on 16 January 1843 in Hobart.

You might like to take a look at as that is the family of Elizabeth Naisbett's first husband, William Davidson.

If you have any additions or corrections please contact the author of this Blog, Joy Olney by email -

Saturday, May 20, 2017

History of Low Row United Reformed Church


History of Low Row United Reformed Church

The history of Low Row United Reformed Church has to start with Philip Lord Wharton who was born in 1613.  On the death of his grandfather in 1625 he became the fourth Lord Wharton, his own father having died when Philip was only nine years old. He inherited land, money and responsibilities, but all these were held in trust until he was 21 years old.  He entered Exeter College in Oxford at the age of 13, and later spent three years travelling on the continent of Europe with his brother Thomas and a Tutor. He was called to the Court of Charles 1 where he quickly became known for his abilities in dancing.  At the age of 19 he married.  All this before he was 21!

At the age of 21 (in 1634) he should have taken his seat in the House of Lords but could not do so because the King refused to call Parliament.  The House of Lords did not sit until 1640.  From then on Philip Lord Wharton was active in Parliamentary affairs.

In 1642 Philip Lord Wharton raised a regiment of foot and a troop of horse to fight in the Battle of Edgehill.  They behaved less than gloriously as Wharton himself reported later to Parliament. Lord Wharton not only ran away but is said to have hidden in a sawpit, thus earning for himself the parliamentary nickname of Sawpit Wharton.

In 1645 during the Commonwealth period Philip Lord Wharton wrote to Lord Fairfax concerning the vacancy in the Parish of Grinton. He inherited/owned land and property extensively in Swaledale, including Smarber Hall which had been used as a shooting lodge.

In 1690 towards the end of his life Philip Lord Wharton founded and endowed Smarber Chapel (later known as Low Row United Reformed Church). 

Smarber Chapel

Today, the foundation stone is found set into the surviving walls of the old Smarber Chapel up on the hillside above Low Row.  Philip Lord Wharton built the Chapel, appointed the first minister and endowed the church in 1690.
Site of the first Independent Church in Swaledale, founded by Philip Lord Wharton in 1690. The ruins of the old Smarber Chapel were on a hill above the present Church.

Joy visited the ruins of Smarber Chapel in 2007.

Site of the First Independent Church in Swaledale Founded by Philip Lord Wharton in the year 1690

Peter at Smarber Chapel, Low Row.  We found the ruins by walking up a track about 200 metres west of the Church, across two fields, remembering to shut the gates as we went. We saw rabbits and lots of wildflowers.

View across the dales from Smarber Chapel at Low Row was beautiful. Very green, grey stone houses and fences.  Swaledale River meandered it way below.

View from Smarbar Chapel, Low Row

John Allason wrote in 1821:
Smarber Hall Chapel was situated upon the side of a steep mountain in a central station for the accommodation of the surrounding population.  Being a large old thatched building much exposed to boisterous storms it was repeatedly unroofed and otherwise damaged particularly in 1739.  In 1759 it was nearly demolished.  The roof blown away and end wall destroyed.  A collection was made and 12 Pounds 15 shillings obtained,  In 1761 Thos Wainwright Esq of Hatton Garden, London, generously sent 50 Pounds for its enlargement and reparation.  In 1778 Mr Benn collected at Manchester 20 Pounds which was expended in rebuilding the north wall, then ruinous.  In 1810 in consequence of its ruinous and dangerous condition it was taken down and a new Chapel erected at Low Row which cost 500 Pounds – a debt of near 100 Pounds remains upon it”.

A new Chapel was built on the present site next to the main road in 1809.  The land was given by the Rev Thomas Smith, Lord of the Manor, and the building was registered or licenced in the Consistory Court of the Archdeaconry of Richmond on September 27th 1810.

The building was extensively renovated in 1874 at a cost of about 600 Pounds.  It was reopened on December 18th 1874. During 1875 some visitors to Swaledale wrote in the “Christian World Paper”:
“We noticed by the roadside a simple, substantial-looking little stone chapel, with a bell, and a much more ecclesiastical and comfortable aspect than is usual in such out of the way regions.  It has been nearly rebuilt and repewed, and now it is a model of simplicity and neatness, and we hear is well attended every Sunday.”

In the 18th century the Church was occasionally described as a Presbyterian Church but in the 19th century was clearly Congregational and a member church of the Congregational Union. In 1972 there was a national union of Congregational and Presbyterian churches to form the United Reformed Church, so the church fellowship is now United Reformed Church. 

From 1690 to our present time there has been 28 Ministers serving the Low Row area.

Rev David Simpson served from 1787 - 1807
David Simpson was born at Orwell, near Kinross in Scotland and was educated at both St Andrew’s & Edinburgh Universities before working as a domestic tutor in a nobleman’s family.  He came to England in 1780 and ministered at Eastwood near Halifax and Holcombe near Bury before coming to Swaledale on November 25th 1787.

He married Lydia Phillips who was the daughter of the Rev Daniel Phillips of Hopton, Norfolk.  The Rev Dr Nathaniel Phillips, Presbyterian Minister in Sheffield, was Lydia’s brother.

David Simpson ministered at Low Row for 20 years and died there on March 22nd 1808 aged 69 years.  He was buried at Smarber Chapel on March 25th 1808.  On his death he left 50 Pounds to pay a schoolmaster in Low Row.

Rev John Allason served from 1807 - 1835.
John Allason was born at Cotherstone, near Barnard Castle, and was educated at Homerton Academy.  He became a minister of a dissenting church in Uppingham Rutland in January 1802 and it was there that he met and married his wife Susannah Sewell on 21 February 1804 (she was 16 years at the time).  He left Uppington to come to Swaledale in 1807 as assistant to David Simpson.  After David Simpson’s death John continued as minister.  He started a day school and by 1833 there were 20 boys and 6 girls attending this school but most of the 50 Pounds left by David Simpson to pay for a schoolmaster had been spent on debts on the building.

John and Susannah Allason had eight children but tragically only three survived to mature adult life.  Susannah herself died in 1833 aged 43 years and John Allason died in 1836 at the age of 62 years. There is a monument to the Allason family on the wall of the present church.

A number of John Allason’s letters have survived showing him to have had a keen interest in, and knowledge of local dissenting church history, to have often been in poor health because of comsumption and lumbago, and to have often be seen seeking to improve his low income with applications for various grants and charities.  At the same time he generously sent gifts of grouse or cheese to his benefactors. 

Low Row United Reformed Church, built 1809. Joy & Peter Olney visited in 2007, 200 years after Joy's great great great grandfather John Allason was the minister from 1807-1836.

Interior of United Reformed Church in Low Row. Peter in the pulpit 200 years later. Memorial Plaque on the wall to remember Rev John Allason, his wife and 5 children who died between 1828 and 1836.

Rear of United Reformed Church in Low Row in 2007.

View from United Reformed Church at Low Row in 2007

Bible Charity established by Philip Lord Wharton.

Philip Lord Wharton also founded and endowed his Bible Charity in 1693, a scheme devised on a grand scale for encouraging children from poor families to read and study the scriptures. He left land near York which subsequently became known as the Bible Lands Trust.  His intention was to present Bibles to children to be their personal possession (not just for use in Sunday School or Church).  Initially Bibles were available in those parts of England where Philip Lord Wharton had lived or owned property but by the twentieth century this became expanded to include all parts of the United Kingdom.  The conditions were that the recipient had to be able to read, and to be able to recite from memory Psalms 1,15,25,37,101,113 and 145. 

Lord Wharton was a puritan and a non-conformist.  His original instructions were that the Shorter Catechism as approved by the Westminster Assembly of Divines (and still known today as the Scottish Catechism) should be distributed with the King James translation of the Bible to the recipients. Over the years the original trustees died and were replaced in the main by Anglican clergymen who misinterpreted Lord Wharton’s wishes and began including the Church of England Catechism instead of the Scottish Catechism, and by the nineteenth century the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer (sometimes in separate volumes, sometimes combined) were distributed almost exclusively through the Church of England.

However a few free church ministers (including John Boyd from Low Row in Swaledale) knew the history of the Trust and approached the Charity Commissioners for re-dress.  This was partially successful in that the Charity Commissioners decreed that the Trust should be divided into two - one half to be administered by the Church of England and the other half by the free churches.  Although at the time some free-churchmen still felt that they had been cheated it is to be remembered that Lord Wharton himself was always in favour of toleration and comprehension and so would probably not have disapproved of the present day arrangement.

Today the Trust is still alive and active and presents Bibles to under 18 year olds.  In keeping with modern educational practice the conditions now require bible study rather than too much learning by rote, and modern translations of the Bible are also available.

Many thousands have been presented through more than 300 years but it does show that the original recipients worked hard to earn their Bibles and will probably have treasured them for a lifetime.

Philip Lord Wharton died in 1696 and is buried in Woburn Parish Church, Buckinghamshire.

Portrait of Philip Lord Wharton by Van Dyk in 1632 at 19 years of age.

Portrait of Philip Lord Wharton by Kneller in 1685 at 72 years of age.

If you have any comments or corrections, please contact the author, Joy Olney by email:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Letters from John Allason to Joshua Wilson 1811 - 1835 

A number of John Allason's letters have survived showing him to have had a keen interest in and knowledge of local dissenting church history, to have often been in poor health because of consumption and lumbago, and to have often been seeking to improve his low income with applications for various grants and charities.  At the same time he gererously sent gifts of grouse and pheasants to his benefactors.

The letters also give a great personal insight into the sacrifices made by the Allason family as they ministered for the Lord in a very remote area of North Yorkshire moors. Rev John Allason lost his wife and 5 children between 1828 and 1834. He died 4 April 1836.

Extracts of Letters written by Rev John Allason

Extract from “The Evangelical Magazine” (p517f)  5 September 1811

The Rev John Allason was ordained Pastor over the Society of Protestant Dissenters at the new chapel, Low Row, Swaledale in Yorkshire.  Mr Prattman of Barnard Castle commenced the service of the day in the usual manner, delivered an introductory discourse from Acts xiv 23, and asked the questions etc.  Mr C Whitfield of Hamsterly engaged in the ordination prayer with imposition of hands and gave the charge from John xii 26.  Mr A Carnson of Cotherstone prayed.  Mr G Cook of Reeth addressed the people from Rom xv 30 and E Stillman of Keld concluded.

This interest is considered as one of the most ancient among the Dissenters in the north of England and was founded by the pious Philip Lord Wharton, lord of this and neighbouring manors.  His Lordship having been instrumental in adding to the population of this dale by the introduction of a great number of poor and ignorant people, who were employed in the lead mines, and there being no place of worship within six miles, he fitted up a chapel, which was occasionally supplied by his Lordship’s chaplains and afterwards more stately by some of the ejected ministers.  About the year 1690 he gave Smarber Hall Chapel, situated in the centre of a populous neighbourhood, and although it has been enlarged and repaired at different times, yet was become so ruinous and really dangerous to the crowds which of late resorted to it that a new place became absolutely necessary, and the present one was created in 1809 which will accommodate about 500 persons.

The congregation was reduced to the lowest state, and the place shut up during half the year when the present minister was invited in 1806 from Uppingham in Rutland to become assistant to the late minister.  The new chapel is well attended in the summer season but we are sorry to add that in consequence of the great poverty of the people a considerable debt remains upon the place.

The ministers who have successively laboured here were the Rev J Holland who removed, J Taylor died here, J Burgess removed, T Gardner died here, having laboured in the Lord’s work upward of 50 years, J Benn his son-in-law died here, A Meanly removed, D Simpson died in 1808.

Lord Wharton by a deed dated July 12 1692 appropriated an estate near York as a perpetual fund for the purchase of 1050 bibles, with other religious books yearly to be given to the poor children of certain parishes where he had property.

This article is not signed but it is highly likely that is was submitted by John Allason himself.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson, 11 Castle St, Finsbury Square, London 

Dated 26 May 1821.

Sir, I have been dilatory in answering you.  The fact is I have and still am very unwell, of a very dangerous complaint, which will soon kill me ie spitting blood…….

……. Allow me dear Sir to impose a little trouble upon you. Be so kind as to take the enclosed letter to Mr Field of Canonbury whom I presume is a Trustee of the Charity left by the Rev Mr Bearman an Ejected minister.  My predecessor was favoured by donations from the same which is a favour I at this time particularly need – should this not be the identical gentleman you can no doubt make him out or some other of the Trustees of that Charity to whom the letter may be presented.  You can favour me with the result as soon as convenient.  If I can be of any service to you you have only to command your willing servant.

John Allason, Feetham, Swaledale near Richmond, Yorks.


Letter from John Allason to William Field (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/3)

Addressed to Mr Field Esq or any other Trustee of Bearman’s Charity.

Dated 26 May 1821.

………Allow me in a few words to state a case …….. I am for some time assistant minister and afterwards succeeded the Rev David Simpson, Presbyterian minister of congregation in Swaledale, Yorkshire.   Mr Simpson died 22 March 1808 – has been minister here upward of 20 years – his wife Lydia sister of Dr Phillips – she died some years previous to her husband.  They never had any children.

My family consists of 9 persons – youngest son 2 years old – my salary has not averaged more than about 60 Pounds per annum over 14 years. While I have been here much of my time has been devoted to a small school consisting of poor lead miner’s children of which a trifle is obtained and nothing saved as I have many children of my own.

Am sorry to add that most unfortunately I have ruptured a blood vessel by exertion of preaching to numerous Congregation which has materially impaired my constitution and at times endangered my life especially when engaged in “best of causes”. My inadequate income delicate state of health and large family reluctantly compel me to applicate for abidance in my temperorallities.

I am induced to believe that you are the Gentleman who so kindly befriended my predecessor by granting him donations from a Charity at your disposal bequeathed by Rev Mr Bearman many years ago.

…….however small sum may be yet at this time it would be peculiarly reasonable.

John Allason, Feetham in Swaledale.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson Esq 11 Castle Street, Finsbury Square, London.

(Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/7)

Date 11 September 1821

(The main text is about ministers in Stockton)
…… Hope you will see Mr Field and if there is anything for me however trifling it would be a great favour or if at any future period that Gentleman have it in his power to serve me I hope it will for I much need it enjoying but a poor state of health.
Adieu for this time, John Allason.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/8)

Dated 28 December 1821.

(extracts)  Sir, my health of late has been indifferent preventing my writing.  I thank you for the trouble you have taken in seeing Mr Field and will thank you to hand him the letter which you will be so kind as to waxen having left it unsealed for your inspection.  


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/14)

Undated 1823

Sir, Have sent you what in part will yield you some information the bearer a neighbour of mine returns in the course of a few days when you can return the letters and your observations on my last communications.  Does Lord Wharton’s Will mention anything relative to the Charities to poor ministers.  The letters sent came into my possession on the death of our Vicar.  They must be returned as they may be of some use to me.  Pray call upon Mr Field and ask him if he received safe a brace of grouse which I sent him last November as the only acknowledgement I had in my power to make him for his kind present of 2 Guineas thro’ your hands.  Can you lend me the memoirs of the Marquis of Wharton send it per bearers it shall be returned.  I have a wish to send some account of the Bible Charity to be inserted in the Gentleman’s Mag in answer to some queries made last year.  I cannot refer to the page only having borrowed the work.  Such inscription with any query you think proper might drag out some further particular.  What think you of this?  The Congregation Mag I am too poor to take in but sometimes see it – excuse my paper I have no better. 

My health is moderate – my wife has added a 7th child to our family and I remain Dear Sir your willing servant.
John Allason


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/15)

Dated Swaledale November 28 1823

Dear Sir,
I received your last short note with the letters and very acceptable gift of a Sovereign for which I beg my best thanks.  In my last I desired you to take the trouble of calling upon Mr Field and ask whether he received safe and good order a Brace of Grouse which I sent him.  I fear he did not as I never heard from him. You will perhaps have no particular objection to enquire of him if there is any probability of my obtaining a little pecuniary aid from Bearman’s Charity his help and advice should be glad of in this matter you can if you please consult the other Trustees.  The Rev Dr David Simpson my predecessor enjoyed the Charity for many years down to 1806 and he received what is called Extra Benefaction of 5 Pounds from the Presbyterian Fund (last received 1806).  The Yorkshire ministers are not regular recipients of Presy Fund because of Lady Hewley’s Charity which is considered as confined to this county but that is not the case, it is all over England distributed to ministers and those denominated Presy are said to be served in the amplest manner.  Yorkshire ministers are allowed from the Presy Fund, London, what are called Extra Donations which are occasionally or annually voted for there at the instigation of some Member of the Fund Board. In 1805 an Exhibition of 5 Pounds was received by me predecessor being a part of the Rev Hen. Deerman’s Legacy at the disposal of the Presy Fund Board.  Have you no candid feeling acquaintance known of Dr.Rees or any of the members of the Presy Fund Board whom you could interest on my behalf in that quarter – several of my neighbours in less necessatious circumstances than your humble servant manage to obtain occasional benefactions. My income has decreased of late and must suffer much more in consequence of the reduction in value of lands my benefaction from Lady Hewley’s Charity has been reduced 5 Pounds per annum for the above reason. My family consists of 10 persons.  My two oldest I wish to place out as Apprentices.  There outfit will cost me at least 30 Pounds which I have not a prospect of raising without charitable abidance.  None that I know have made more sacrifices or suffered more privations considering my family circumstances than I have done to rescue an ancient decayed cause who had a noble and pious founder from the jaws of perdition. (during the past 17 years my salary has averages about 60 Pounds per annum). Can you give me any particulars relative to Durham ……

Last year in consequence of the decease of the Vicar of this Parish and removal of 2 Curates the returns for Lord Wharton’s Bibles fell into my hands.  I preached the Annual Sermon and have received 10/- for it from the Trustees.  At my request the 60 bibles sent into Swaledale have been divided into three equal parts and have been sent this year one to the Vicar, one to me and another to the Curate of the chapel of ease – this arrangement the church men do not like but they cannot hinder it – at least I hope so.

My health is very indifferent.  I have been much employed these last 3 months in supplying gratuitously a neighbouring congregation 8 miles distant their minister having off collecting for a new place and 2 of my children are under the Doctor.

Am glad to be able to send you a brace of grouse which will cost you more than they are worth hope to have a line from you soon which will oblige your poor suppliant.
John Allason.

Attached with a pin. Side 1.
I lately saw a copy of a return of the Names and Numbers of the Dissenting Congregational Ministers in the County of Durham sent to Wm Smith Esq MP.  I pointed out the deficiencies which will be rectified then a copy should be sent to you.  There are about 20 religious interests in the County, 12 Independent, 7 Baptists, 6 Scotch Presbyterian, and 1 Unitarian in Durham, one place shut up.  An old place in Hartlepool long unused Baptist I believe.

Side 2.
Perhaps you would oblige my numerous and very poor congregation by begging of some of your numerous friends who are members of the Book Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor any of the books would be useful here but more particularly Watt’s Psalms and Hymns Catechisms. I could get a friend to call and bring them at Xmas.  My Congregation formerly received donations of books from Dr William’s bequest but I have no friend in that quarter who can put a spoke in my wheel.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/19)

30 Nov 1828

My Dear Sir,
I do not forget the little acquaintance subsisting between us – hence I make an humble effort to keep up our correspondence.  I have sent you a Brace of Grouse with my afflicted daughter had given her by a neighbouring Gent. During the last two years my family has been literally a Hospital on account of Affliction.  My eldest daughter has been a severe sufferer for 2 years of a liver complaint and is now in a very reduced state not likely to survive the winter – my 2nd daughter a fine tall girl died in April after 28 weeks of painful indisposition first in the Typhus fiver and Consumption.  2 others of my child were severe sufferers of the same terrible malady my poor wife is laying this moment in a state of insensibility.  I have in my possession an account of Dr Richard Gilpin from the family, one of his descendants – Lord of the adjoining Manor who recently furnished me with a copy which I will send you shortly.

I remain, dear Sir, yours John Allason, Feetham, Swaledale.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/20)

Dated Swaledale 26 December 1828

My Dear Sir,
I am glad to have an opportunity of sending you the account of Dr.G.  I have an extensive Pedigree of the Gilpin family which if you wish to see I will send you when transcribed.

Please to accept of my best thanks for your highly acceptable pecuniary favour which was received quite unexpectedly but exceedingly opportunely – give my best respects to your venerable and benevolent Father – a thousand thanks for his commiseration to my deeply afflicted family – we are still in the furnace – my poor industrious wife in consequence of her indefatigable labour night and day has been dangerously ill – during more than a week she could not leave her bed – she is thro’ mercy in the way of recovering – my eldest daughter becomes weaker and weaker every day.  For your kind exertions with Mr Procter I feel exceedingly obliged, but I shall not send the requested documents till against the spring meeting of the committee of the Associate Fund lest I be considered as too clamorous.

I have no time to add more at present, then believe me dear Sir,
Your very thankful humble servant,
John Allason, Swaledale, 26 December 1828.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/21)

Dated Swaledale 18 March 1829

My dear sir,
Long protracted and deep domestic woes have kept me at home during the two past years so that I have paid but little attention to the subjects of our correspondence……….

………Perhaps you can obtain a few of the books given away by the Society for Promoting religious knowledge among the poor Tracts which will be exceedingly acceptable in this miserable country.  I saw at Ravenstonedale a copy of Dr Pichies application to the Ld Chancellor at the commencement of the lawsuit………

My eldest daughter finished a life of pain 19th January aged 23 she had been ill upwards of two years – a week after her burial our third daughter was attacked severely and we fear she will fall into a consumption we have had a most distressing house now for a long time and our troubles fall heavier and heavier upon us.

I remain dear Sir your humble servant, John Allason, Swaledale 18 March 1829.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/22)

Dated Swaledale 12 December 1829

My Dear Sir,
Having hastily transcribed the document relating to the Ravenstonedale litigation and having had 2 brace of Grouse sent me – I take the liberty of forwarding them to you who have been a kind friend to me in my troubles.

The hand of the Lord still lies heavy upon my domestic circle – our eldest daughter exchanged worlds in February she survived her next sister 9 months – our 3 daughter has never held up her head since the day of her latter sister’s interment – she is confined to her bed and may put on a few weeks longer.

My industrious wife who is in the family way after a pause of 8 years has been confined to her bed dangerously ill for a week and how her complaint will terminate is hard to say – the Game box may be returned with the Gilpin Pedigree and if you could fill it with a few books that may be useful for Sunday School of which we have one it will be a great favour.  The Box may be left at Mrs Calvert’s Fleet St Ivory Turner addressed to me to the care of Mr Knowles.

I remain Sir yours,
John Allason, Swaledale, 12 December 1829.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/23)

Dated Swaledale 19 March 1830

My Dear Sir,
Having to send our neighbour Mr Procter I have sent you some scraps which may be used as notes to what is recorded relative to the unfortunate Hicks who was a native of this part of the world – I beg my best thanks for the book tracts which I understand are left at Mrs Calverts in Fleet St.  I have requested a friend to forward them hither.

I had a painful office of committing to the grave my third daughter a few weeks ago she was hard by the side of her two elder sisters.  My poor wife is very ill and has been so more than three months – my Father upwards of 83 lies at the point of death my sorrows are many and great which prevent my lengthening my epistle.
John Allason, Swaledale, 19 March 1830.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/24a)

Dated Swaledale 5 November 1830.

Dear Sir,
I hope you will not think me negligent because I have not sooner acknowledged the receipt of the acceptable books and 3 Pounds in gold which you kindly sent me which came safe to hand.

My head, heart and hands have been full since I last wrote to you. My family circle has been increased and decreased – my dear wife was delivered of her 8th child a daughter on the 5th of April. Mother and babe died within a few days of each other and were interred in the same grave together on the 20th of last month. Mrs Allason was near 44 an excellent wife and mother much regretted by all her acquaintances and died full of hope as to a better world. During the short period of two and half years six of my family have sickened and died – my beloved partner to whom I was married when she was under 16 – my aged father upward of 83 and 4 amiable daughters.  My own state of health and that of my two eldest surviving children is very indifferent.  We have a dreary winter to encounter in an inhospitable climate – upwards of 300 people have emigrated from this township during the six month past in search of employment, the poor rates are 2 Pounds per acre upon some of the lands and the greatest distress prevails. 

I am glad to have it in my power to send you 2 Brace of Grouse.  I begged them for you of Mrs Gilpin the Lady of our neighbouring Manor. Please to accept of my best thanks for the money wh was exceedingly acceptable under our expensive sufferings which have been very considerable above my income & have involved me in some debts wh I cannot at present defray without the aid of my friends.

Should you never hear from me again believe me my dear Sir your truly grateful tho’ present sorrowing & suffering humble servant.

John Allason, November 5 1830, Feetham, Swaledale, near Richmond, Yorkshire.


Letter from John Allason to James Gibson Esq, Great St Helen’s, London (Dr Williams Library ref: L/53/3/68/1)

Dated 25 February 1831

Hon Sir,
I received your kind epistle in which you were so good as to permit me to draw upon you for the acceptable sum of 10 Pounds which I have done.  I now beg to return you a thousand thanks for your very opportune favour.  I regret to learn that you are again indisposed.  I can sympathise with you having been a suffered since Christmas.  By over-exertion in preaching I brought on a dangerous complaint to which I have been occasionally subject for 26 years – a spitting of blood which continued two days alarmingly.  I had recourse to Spruce on black beer which I believe relieved me – was next attacked by lumbago so severely as to be unable to walk without the aid of two stick.  Thank God I have been able to discharge my Ministerial labours.

I received a letter the other day from the friends of my dear wife, which says that they were glad to have it in their power to send you something, which they had sent carriage paid, but did not specify what was sent so that I cannot augur what the irregularity was to which you allude in your letter, unless that some part of the contents of the basket had been purloined.

Mrs Allason was a native of Uppingham in Rutland where I married her about 26 years ago.  There her friends reside.  There I ministered about 5 years as successor to Rev Wm Wardup, his being raised to the Classical chair at Wymondley College. My wife’s sister came to see her before she died.  I desired her to end you a Hare or brace of Pheasants or both by some safe hand as I was under very great obligation to you for the pecuniary favours you had sent to our poor suffering family.

During the short space of 27 years our domestic circle has suffered egregiously by Typhus and Consumption.  I have buried my father aged 83 – four daughters- but my most painful bereavement is the death of my dear industrious wife.  She exchanged worlds in a happy frame of mind aged near 43 after being mother of 8 children.  She and her infant 7 months were interred together – a trying scene. 

During the last 6 months upwards of 600 persons have emigrated in all directions out of this township.  They have been literally starved off.  Here is work enough but next to nothing for it.  The Miners dig and delve in the rocks 200 yards below the surface, but if they obtain no Ore they receive nothing for their dangerous toil.  Only 9d a month many have received.  Many have providentially met with employment in the Coal Pits, upon the line of the Stockton railway in the County of Durham where they obtain from 15s to 20s per week.

Have sent you a tasty trifle – a cheese and 3 tongues which I hope will come safe to hand and be acceptable.  My pen cannot describe in adequate terms the gratitude I feel for your commiseration towards me and my poor motherless children.  I beg you to excuse my prolixity & tautology. 

Believe me My Dear Sir, your very thankful but much troubled humble servant.
John Allason.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/25)

Dated Swaledale 10 November 1831

My Dear Sir,
I at length return you my best thanks for the kind and very useful donation of 3 Sovereigns which you sent me last year by Mr Procter’s parcel.  My health and spirits have been indifferent since the loss of my amiable wife.  I have many difficulties to cope with in my family in this poor wretched country out of wh an amazing number of people have necessitated to remove & my eldest son lately among them – he left his distressed parent bought baggage intending to embark for America.  He then married a wife who had engaged to go with him but they shall remain in England.  I am truly sorry to be so circumstanced as to be obliged to apply for help from the Associate Fund – have sent you some Grouse, some scraps & an old book.  I should be glad of a line when convenient. 

I remain yours etc, John Allason


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/26)

Received October 22nd 1832

My Dear Sir,
I have sent you a poor communication with some Grouse also my best thanks for the Sovereign & book you so kindly sent me by Mr Procter’s parcel.  My state of health is very imperfect – I fancy I shall not be much longer in this vale of tears.  I have 4 poor motherless children to leave behind me which troubles me much.

My eldest son by an accident received a confusion on the head wh has affected his brain & I fear rendered him useless.  This has been a source of much trouble & expense to me wh is likely to continue

Some of the ministers in this part of England suffer egregiously by the suspension of Lady Hewley’s charity.  Some of them are obliged to go round the country as Mendicants, a neighbour of mine is come to London to beg and being acquainted with Lord Brougham means to hear from this charity that truly philandthropic institution. The Associate Fund assisted some of us in our distresses, am sorry to say have withdrawn their charity from the North this altogether with the want of Lady H’s bounty  places us very awkwardly not knowing wh way to turn ourselves – near half the population of this neighbourhood are forced to to seek work & bread & such as remain are generally miserably poor, shall be glad to hear from you & it will afford me great pleasure to be able to furnish you with any information I can meet with – were I not much confined with a family I would go to the Antiquarians of Dm & see what they have relative to the University.
With due respect I remain yours etc.
John Allason. 


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson, Pinners Hall, London (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/28)

Dated Swaledale Nov 16 1833

My Dear Sir,
Am glad to have it in my power to send you a humble thank offering for your great kindness to me last year for 5Pounds procured from the Rev Gent at Redcross St.  I thank you for the books and Sovereign sent by Mr Procter.  The last and present years have been the most trying in my life in consequence of the affliction of my eldest son, who at times threatens to put an end to his life – my 2nd son in on trial as an apprentice to a Tailor to finish his outfit fee will put me about, excuse brevity and believe me your very grateful Servant.
John Allason.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/29)

Rec’d Oct 30 1834

Hon Sir,
I am glad to have it in my power to send you a humble thank offering for your kind remembrances of me and which is the only communication I have at this time.

I return you my best thanks for your short note and acceptable pecuniary contents forwarded to me my Mrs Procter’s parcel.  My domestic sorrows have been upward of 7 years duration.  My eldest son became deranged two years ago.  He has also been attacked with a liver complaint by which he has been dying by inches during 9 months past.  On the 10th he exchanged worlds and appeared well prepared for his great change. This long and severe family visitation has been a copious source of woe and expense to your humble servant.    John Allason.


Letter from John Allason to Joshua Wilson (Congregational Library ref: Hb 11/30)

Rec’d Nov 1835

Hon Sir,
I sent you 2 Brace of Grouse last year addressed to you at the Congregational Library.  Did you receive them?  I have sent you two more – was sorry to hear of your serious indisposition by Mrs Procter.  Hope you have recovered. 

I regret to say that I have been confined to my bed near 6 weeks – have suffered egregious pain and been compelled to have a great deal of expensive medical attendance and medicine wh I can ill afford.  My illness was occasioned by the severe labours of a Sabbath on which I preached twice at home and performed extra services, rode 10 miles in the evening and preached on my return in the evening I got drenched in wet wh brought on a severe and dangerous palpitation of the heart and my limbs became paralysed with rheumatism.

Mr Procter am sorry to say hints that I am not to expect any further relief from the A Fund because I have been so frequent a recipient and also because no money is raised for the fund by any of the opulent Congregations in Yorkshire.  I shall venture to send my Case and hope for some help however small as I shall have an ugly medical bill to discharge as soon as I can raise the money – should you have any parcel or communication for me please to leave it to the care of Mr R Knowles No5 Lawrence Lane and it will be sent hither.

I have much to ask but am indisposed that I must lay down my pen, hope to hear from you soon and believe me your most respectful, John Allason, Feetham, Swaledale near Richmond, Yorkshire.


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