It is said of the monks and friars of the centuries gone, that they
were particularly careful in selecting the sites for their monasteries
and other religious houses; but certainly they were not peculiar in
this respect, as witness the case of the pleasant and unique village
whose name is at the head of this chapter. Fulneck is most beautifully
situated on the northern slopes of the Tong valley, forming the southern
boundary of the Pudsey Township. It has a perfectly open prospect to
the south, embracing a wide range of country, including Dudley Hill;
Tong, with its tree embowered hall, the seat of Sir R. Tempest-Tempest,
Bart.; Drighlington; Gildersome; Adwalton, with its historic moor; Morley,
Middleton, Farnley, etc.; and it would have been difficult for the founders
of the place to have chosen a spot in this district more desirable for
the purposes contemplated by them. Not inaptly may a part at least of
David's eulogy of Mount Zion be applied to this place:--"Beautiful
for situation." More especially was this the case when the site
was first selected, ere the pellucid and fish-inhabited stream, which
winds through the vale, had become black with nauseous drainage, or
the opposite slopes were disfigured by heaps of shale and other rubbish
thrown out from the pits, which have been opened of late years by the
Low Moor Iron and Coal Company, and the chimneys whose sulphurous smoke
pollutes the air, and destroys the trees of adjoining woods.
The establishment presents a fine imposing front when viewed from the
other side of the valley, and consists of a broken, yet not inharmonious,
line of buildings; having the chapel in the centre, which, however,
is not distinguishable as such on this side; the schools for girls and
boys; the residences for the principals of these schools; the Single
Sisters' and Brethren's Houses, the Lecture Hall, etc., the whole of
which are faced by a broad and level graveled terrace, from whence gardens,
orchards, fields, and forest trees, occupy the space down to the stream.
Although the beauty of Fulneck is seen in the front, it is at the back
where its specially unique features are most apparent. Here the line
of the buildings is considerably more broken than in the front, and
the chapel is conspicuous by its advancing entrance, surmounted by the
belfry and clock. A paved terrace having a rise of some yards above
the front one, runs nearly the whole length of this side, being shortened
by an enclosed yard, etc., belonging to residences of the Single Sisters
at the east end. From this terrace green slopes rise to the road or
street above, which at the centre is greatly above its level, and s
reached by flights of steps of varying heights. The west end of this
rising ground was, until a few years ago, occupied by a block of unsightly
cottages and other erections, partly used for a bakery, stabling, etc.,
the removal of which has added much to the cleanliness and appearance
of this part of the village.
Beyond the establishment proper, are the boarding-house, the ship, the
single Brethren's prayer hall, and cottages, which have been utilised
as a reading room or institute. On a lower level, and in front of these
latter, there are a few houses so pleasantly situated as to have acquired
the name of "Paradise." They are, however, only approachable
through a narrow entry on the low side of the inn, which covered passage
is therefore appropriately names "Purgatory." Yet let it not
be inferred from this that there was any justification for the popular
belief of their Romanist or Jesuitical character. At this end is a barrier
where a toll of 2d. is demanded for horses and vehicles passing through
the place. The whole of the private residences are on the opposite side
of the street, extending for the most part from the entrance gate on
the east to the bar above indicated. Although considerably above the
level of the establishment, the village is still much below the crest
of the hill in its rear, so that the whole place is well protected from
the north and north-east winds. From the style and arrangement of the
buildings the tout ensemble of the place is of a semi-continental character,
and cannot fail to impress the visitor by its neat, quiet, and almost
Some of the most modern additions to the requirements of the village
are, a capital Sunday School for boys nearer the top of the hill, and
one for girls at the back of, and adjoining the Sisters' House. The
Lecture Hall, also, was erected only a few years since on the site of
was once the boys' day school, which for many years was successfully
conducted by Mr. E. Sewell, who is now quietly passing the remainder
of his days amid the calm seclusion of his former activities.
The estate, as a whole, is of very considerable extent and value, reaching
from Hare Lane on the east to near Scholebrook Lane on the west, and
from the top of the hill on the north to the bottom of the valley, which
is its southern limit, embracing an area of 160 acres. This important
freehold, originally consisting of about 130 acres, was added to by
subsequent purchases or gifts, and when first acquired was mostly waste
or moorland, with one small farm and a malt-kiln. When the common lands
of Pudsey were enclosed in 1812, a great deal of this side of the Tong
valley was quite a wilderness of moorland, thickly covered with brambles
and briars. In this public spoliation the proprietary of the Fulneck
freehold came in for a considerable share. By the persevering industry
of the first settlers this was gradually changed into a well cultivated
and fruitful inheritance, such as but few religious communities of the
present day can claim to possess. This fine property is owned by the
Church of "Moravian Brethren," or, as they sometimes style
themselves, "Unitas Fratrum," whose history in connection
with this place we must now follow.
Previous to the year 1742, this church, influenced by a holy zeal, had
sent out Missionaries to different parts of the world, and had established
an English Conference, or Board of Direction, in London. It was in this
year decided by the Board that a staff of labourers-actually hand-working
ministers-should go and "take up their residence in some convenient
spot in Yorkshire, whence as a centre they could go forth to minister
to the societies." "The zeal of the Brethren was such, that
by the end of the following year they had organised forty-seven places
where the Scriptures were regularly read and prayer offered up once
in every three weeks." These places were divided into six districts,
in each of which was a preaching place, to which the societies might
resort on Sundays. Pudsey was one of these centres.
In March, 1743, Count Zinzendorf, who had devoted himself to the interests
of the Church, visited the brethren at Pudsey; and in order fully to
carry out their social as well as religious polity, fixed upon the hillside
then called Fallneck, which was then, or shortly afterwards, offered
for sale. This noble convert was a zealous and enthusiastic member of
the cause he has espoused, and did much, both by his labours and his
means, to advance the spiritual and material prosperity of the community
with which he has associated himself; one of its best known and perhaps
finest stations in Germany-Herrnhutt in Lusatia-being the fruit of his
generosity. By many this nobleman is thought to have been the founder
of the Moravian Church; but this is a great mistake, he only having
been a co-worker with others in the extraordinary revivals of the last
century. In fact, the Moravians claim to have been Protestants before
the Reformation, and to have kinship with those early martyrs, John
Huss, of Bohemia, and Jerome of Prague; with John Wicliffe, and others,
who heralded Luther in his noble work.
It is stated that 240 years previous to Zinzendorf's invitation to the
Brethren to form a settlement upon his patrimony, a number of Waldensian
refugees from Romanist persecution in Austria, fled for safety and protection
to the Church at Fulneck in Moravia; and although, from persecution
and other causes, the organisation was brought very low during the following
two centuries, yet it was from this same Moravian Fulneck that the first
colony was transferred to Herrnhut.
As yet no reference has been made in this history to the name, "Fulneck."
As afterwards stated, the place was called Grace Hall from the completion
of the chapel in 1748 until 1763, when the name of Fulneck was adopted,
in loving remembrance of the original home of the Brethren in Moravia,
which bore that name. Also, it is said, because the situation, or general
appearance of the two places, had some resemblance to each other. By
a curious coincidence, however-and this may have given some weight to
the new baptism-the spot had, for generations previous to the Brethren
becoming owners of it, been known as "Fallneck." Some previous
writer has endeavoured to find the source of this in Fall'n-Ake, or
Oak, from the Saxon ac, from the supposition that some notable tree
of that tribe had become prostrate thereabouts. Notwithstanding the
improbability of this derivation, it has been very generally accepted
by local antiquaries, perhaps without considering the value of the suggestion.
I venture, however, to offer what I think to be a much more plausible
indication of the source from whence it comes. Those acquainted with
the locality will know that between Nesbit Hall on this side, and Tong
Hall on the other, the valley opens out westward, dividing itself into
a fork or Y shape, one branch going up to Holme and Dudley Hill, the
other passing round the Tyersall Hill to Laisterdyke. The junction of
these two branches, then, is the head of the valley, and that portion
immediately adjoining, eastward, is the neck. This is the part wholly
included in the estate, i.e., from Scholebrook or Jackass Lane to South
Royd or Hare Lane. Did not the name, then, indicate the wide neck of
the valley, or Fullneck, as it was often spelt in the old writings?
The corruption from full to fall by the original inhabitants needs no
Yet another, and perhaps more likely origin, is communicated by Mr.
J. Cliff, of Nesbit Hall, from a note recently acquired by him. It is
extracted from the notes of a Mr. Samuel Hemmingway, who, along with
a Squire Sugden, who lived on the hill, inspected property which John
Holdsworth, then residing in the old "Bank-House," wished
to sell. After viewing West Royd, they walked on the "Fallneck
and Fall, Stubbs, and South Royd"-all significant names-"
and came up one side of the Calf Close: (sic. Hare Lane). Here, then,
we have the popular and strictly correct nomenclature-the steep slope
of fall at the NECK of the valley, this part being by far, steeper than
the land at either end; therefore, appropriately known as the "Fall."
At the time the Moravians were pushing on their work of preaching and
establishing societies, the Wesleys, with Whitfield and others, were
going up and down through the country, engaged to a much greater extent
in the same work. Among these, and for a long a coadjutor with them,
was the Rev. Benjamin Ingham. He was a native of Ossett, in this county,
was educated at Oxford, and ordained to be a minister of the Established
Church; but not waiting to be inducted into a living, and probably having
some private means, he commenced preaching, both in the churches and
in the open air, to large congregations which flocked to hear him, principally
in Yorkshire and the borders of Lancashire. He was an earnest and successful
preacher, and in a short time about fifty congregations or societies
were formed as the result of his labours. Probably he was a better preacher
than organiser, or, preferring the system and polity of the Moravians,
he persuaded his followers to unite themselves with the Brethren, and
with one consent they seem to have done so, to the extent of about a
thousand members. He thus became a man of considerable influence in
the combined societies.
Thus it was, that when the Board of Direction in 1743, acting upon the
advice of the Count, decided to obtain this site as a grand centre for
their work in Yorkshire, Mr. Ingham was commissioned to purchase it
for the Brethren, i.e., to pay down the purchase money, with the understanding
that the Board would take it over before the end of the year. This arrangement,
however, was not carried out, and subsequently there seems to have been
some difficulty in bringing the matter to a settlement; as a not under
date 1744 says, "No final agreement or bargain was made, but this
was at length, 1754, obtained upon a lease of 500 years (another note
says 999 years), after a good deal of trouble and many changes of Mr.
Ingham's mind." Count Zinzendorf, who was on a visit at the time,
exclaimed when the matter was settled, "I can now with freedom
lift up my eyes and pronounce this settlement a settlement of the Lord."
Subsequently the rights of Mr. Ingham's heirs in the estate were purchased
by the lessees, and the property thus became their freehold. This gentleman
appears also to have been subject to no small measure of religious impulsiveness;
for it is stated, under date Oct. 9th, 1745, or nearly two years after
he had bought the estate for the church,--
After a blessed Lovefeast with the single Brethren, Mr. Ingham fetched
a piece of ground from the field in which their house was intended to
be built, and gave it to them as a token of their henceforth having
possession of it. But this was afterwards returned, when the said field
was determined upon as the future place of the single sisters' house;
when Mr. Ingham gave them, in the same solemn manner, possession of
the ground of their present house and garden. He promised, moreover,
L100, either in money or bricks, towards their house.
The Brethren at this time lived in one or two small houses in connection
with a Meeting Room on the top of the hill, also apparently in a house
or houses at Bankhouse,--possibly at Nesbit Hall. The hill was then
called "Lamb's Hill," and at these two places they resided
for four or five years, while the chapel and houses were being built
for them. The first stone of the former was laid on May 21st, 1746,
by the brethren Foeltschig, Okershausen and Hauptman, with much solemn
religious ceremony, singing and prayer being continued in the open air
the whole of the night following. This place for worship was designated
by them "Grace Hall," and afterwards for some years was the
name by which the whole place was known.
One cannot but admire the ardent faith and burning zeal of this handful
of men, most of whom were strangers in the land, in starting to build
an establishment, calculated by themselves to cost L3,000, but which
others thought would reach L10,000; and which is stated finally to have
been as much as L15,000; and this upon land the tenure of which was
not fully secured to them, or had been forfeited by their non-fulfilment
of the terms of agreement. This Chapel or Hall was completed in 1748,
and solemnly consecrated on June 2nd, by John de Watteville and Peter
Bohler, two of the most learned and prominent labourers in the fraternity
at that time. The minister's house had been completed and occupied during
the March preceding.
The chapel organ was one of no mean repute, being built by Snetzler,
an eminent maker of his day; and as music has ever been a leading feature
in connection with the economy of their worship, it will account for
the fact that, although engaged in a great enterprise and with straightened
means, yet they succeeded in putting in this fine instrument in the
same year that the chapel was opened. * It was originally placed in
the east gallery, but was in 1802 removed to its present position opposite
This last named, and generally considered most important piece of ecclesiastical
architecture, seems to have been with them a matter of minor concern,
as it was not erected until 1750, when it was first occupied by the
gifted and learned preacher Benjamin La Trobe, who at that time was
stationed with the church as Brethren's labourer. His was a name of
Huguenot celebrity, which has been continued down to the present day
through a succession of talented, influential, and honoured generations.
Among the earliest of those who were connected with the Brethren, was
one Claudius Nesbit, who resided at Bankhouse, and built what is now
called "Nesbit Hall," at present owned and occupied by John
Cliff, Esq., R.R.Hist.S., who was himself educated at the Fulneck Boarding
School. A view of this finely situated, and lately much improved mansion,
will be found in this history. Doubtless it was with this same Claudius
Nesbit that Zinzendorf temporarily abode during his visits to the district.
A great mystery has always surrounded his last days. It is related that
going to London on business, he was never more head of.
In the year 1749 Zinzendorf, and his son Renatus, again visited the
settlement, and laid the foundation stones of the houses for the Single
Sisters and Brethren. The first is detached from the main block, it
built of bricks, and is an imposing termination of the façade
to the east. Through the space thus left open there is a delightful
and almost telescopic view of the front prospect; here also access is
had from the rear to the main terrace.
This noble promenade deserves more than a mere passing reference. It
is a well kept gravel walk, having an extension of about 240 yards and
a breadth of 8 yards. "It was in existence in a rude state in 1753,
and about the same time the gardens on the slope below were laid out."
About 60 years subsequent to the above date it seems to have been brought
somewhere near to its present condition of perfection, and is said now
to be "equal if not superior to that at Windsor Castle;" and
also to bear more than a favourable comparison with the famed parade
in front of Hampton Court. The houses above-mentioned were finished
and occupied three years later. It was also in the above-named year
that the Burial ground was laid out for its sacred purpose.
It is a long strip of land sloping gently down from the road to a considerable
distance below, and has within the last few years been enlarged by addition
of land from the adjoining fields. This holy resting-place for the dead
is to the east of the estate, and is overshadowed by many very fine
forest trees, which add much to its quiet and hallowing appearance.
Here some of the most sacred of their religious services were wont to
be held; and oft has the stillness of the early morning been broken
by the slowly measured and solemn music of their brass horns. More particularly
was this the case at Eastertide, when the burial and glorious resurrection
of our Blessed Saviour was celebrated with much that was, to the natives,
both strange and novel; and so much attention and curiosity did it excite
as to cause thousands to assemble to witness the uncommon spectacle.
This ultimately became, by the unruly character of the assemblies, so
great an annoyance as to compel the transfer of the service to the chapel.
Grace Clarke was the first interred in the burial ground.
It may not be out of place to state that the brethren and their general
economy were held in much esteem by that great apostle of the last century,
the Rev. John Wesley, and his equally and talented brother Charles.
Indeed, the former acknowledged that it was by communion with Peter
Bohler he was enabled to understand the plan of salvation as propounded
in the New Testament, and to realise that "peace of God,"
by faith in Jesus Christ, which he afterwards preached with so much
fervour, persistency, and success, and which became a leading characteristic
of his long and self-denying ministry. Further, it is, apparently, to
his intercourse with the brethren that the Methodist Church is indebted,
not only for the knowledge of this joyous fact of Christian privilege
and vital godliness, but also for much of its peculiar polity. Lovefeasts,
fellowship meetings, watch-night services, class meetings, circuits,
and districts, seem mostly to have been grafted from this source. He
visited Grace Hall in 1747, when he first preached in Pudsey at 8.oa.m.,
and upon other occasions during his busy life when at Pudsey, and although
the whole manner of their social arrangements did not commend itself
to his judgment, yet he was always glad of that spiritual intercourse
he found active amongst them. In reference to their social affairs he
says in his journal, April 17th, 1780-
I left Leeds in one of the roughest mornings I have ever seen. We
had rain, hail, snow and wind in abundance. About nine I preached at
Bramley; between one and two at Pudsey. Afterwards, I walked to Fulneck,
the German settlement, Mr. Moore shewed us the horse, chapel hall, lodging
rooms, the apartments for the widows, the single men and single women.
He shewed us likewise the workshops of various kinds, with the shops
for grocery, drapery, mercery, hardware, &cc., with which, as well
as with bread from their bakehouse, they furnish the adjacent country.
I see not what, but the mighty power of God, can keep them from acquiring
millions, as they (1st) Buy all materials with ready money at the first
hand. (2nd) Have above a hundred young men, above fifty young women,
many widows, and without any interruption, in various kinds of manufactures;
not for journeymen's wages, but for no wages at all, save a little very
plain food and raiment. As they have (3rd) a quick sale for all their
goods, and sell them all for ready money. But can they lay up treasure
on earth and at the same time lay up treasure in heaven?
The above interesting note will doubtless explain to a very large
extent how the community managed to possess itself of this fine property.
It was by the persistent self-abnegation of hundreds of people, industriously
pursuing this one end, with a religious fervour but rarely equaled.
Joyfully toiling, and under the most favourable conditions for success,
not for themselves, but the cause to which they were wholly devoted.
As an illustration also of the widespread interest felt in one another
by the members of the Church generally, a ship's cargo of timber was
sent as a present from Norway towards the erection of these buildings.
It will already have been observed from the note above quoted that the
object of the establishment was not merely a spiritual one. Employment
was to be found for the members, not only to provide for their own necessities,
but also that by their labours there might be a capital account for
the common good. They this occupied themselves in various trades and
manufactures, and became the pioneers of that principle of cooperation
which has spread so widely in later years.
The clothmaking business was commenced in 1748, and afterwards that
of worsted and gloves, tailoring, shoemaking, farming, etc., by the
brethren; and needlework, hosiery, and lace making by the sisters, were
all successfully followed for many years, but finally abandoned as unprofitable,
or impracticable when brought into competition with the ordinary outside
traders. Doubtless the novelty of the movement would attract many young
people at first, who were also the subjects of strong religious influences,
but the austerity of the life imposed on them being unnaturally severe,
would soon become irksome and intolerable; so that what was in the beginning
effective by the influence of an abnormal zeal, speedily failed when
worked under the conditions of ordinary and reasonable life. The building
at the extreme west end of the terrace was erected for clothmaking in
1758, and the business continued to be carried on by the Brethren, principally
under the direction of Br. Charlsworth, until 1780, when, for reasons
just given, it lapsed into other hands. It was, however, resumed by
them about 1823, and continued till 1837, when it was finally abandoned.
The temporary prosperity of the movement, however, aroused the jealousy
and anger of many in the district. This feeling was further increased
by the spreading of false and scandalous reports as to their political
and religious connections; while the fact of the great bulk of their
leading men being foreigners, was quite sufficient of itself to quicken
the suspicions with which they were generally regarded.
In the middle of the last century the partizans of the Pretender were
numerous and active, while Romanism, with which his cause was supposed
to be closely connected, was everywhere by the mass of the people bitterly
hated. It was, therefore, an easy task with the enemies of the Brethren
to accuse them as Romanists and Jacobites, while their peculiar religious
rites, and close mode of life, together with the aid they got from abroad,
served to convince the ignorant and vulgar, who are always superficial
in their observations and hasty in their conclusions, that these pious
and harmless strangers were in league against the throne and church.
They thus became subject to much annoyance and persecution; their meetings
were interrupted, their houses searched, and large mobs from Leeds and
elsewhere caused them much apprehension, and threatening serious riots.
These, however, seem to have been averted by some of their ministers
appearing before Sir Walter de Calverley and taking oath as to the loyal
and peaceable character of their work and people; furthermore, they
are said to have persuaded one or two magistrates to visit the settlement,
and have fully explained to them the nature of its economy. From thence
their way would seem to have been unmolested, save by such small matters
as occasionally arose from internal causes, or other and more perplexing
questions connected with the estate. An instance of the latter sort
arose with the owner of the opposite side of the valley, in relation
to the Brethren establishing a dyehouse for their cloth manufactory
on the stream dividing the two properties.
A note under date 1750 says-
The congregation enjoyed rest from without and within, excepting some
disagreeable disputes betwixt us and Mr. Tempest of Tong, concerning
the Dyehouse and the use of the brook near it, which came to a tedious
Again, in the next year, we find-
The disagreement with Mr. Tempest, in Tong, was finally settled at York
in July. Some matters in dispute were given in the right of Mr. Tempest,
and the right of the brook in favour of Fulneck Settlement. Br. Metcalf
was very much engaged in helping to terminate this disagreeable dispute.
Still another in the year following-
Those in the Economy at Holme had much to suffer by Mr. Tempest, who
threatened to turn them out of their house, and they were at last obliged
to move from thence to Pudsey town (1756).
Disputes and petty jealousies also between the foreign and English residents
were not unknown, and sometimes went so far as to create no small amount
of vexation and anxiety.
A congregation of the Moravians existed at Pudsey contemporaneously
with the one at Fulneck, but whereas the "Fulneck congregation
was confined to its own place; Pudsey congregation (1755) included Holbeck
(Leeds), Dudley Hill, Horton, and Baildon." This separate society,
with its constitution and privileges, existed down to the year 1811,
when, from constantly decreasing numbers, and to prevent an utter collapse,
it became amalgamated with the stronger section at Fulneck.
In connection with the Pudsey Society a boys' school was opened, and
as an indication of the value set upon their own services by the brethren,
it is recorded, Feb. 27th, 1784-just when they were about to begin the
erection of the large boarding school at Fulneck-
Brn. Watson and Collis had conference with the committee brethren touching
the boys' school to be begun, i.e., to settle the school wages. It was
thought readers only should pay 2 1/2d.; readers and writ4ers, 4d.;
and readers, writers, and cypherers, 6d. per week; and the schoolmaster
to have for the present 6s. per week; and as soon as the Schollers bring
in 7s. per week, then he to have 7s. per week!!
There had been an attempt to establish a school two years previously,
which failed for the reason that it was "very hard to get any house
as room in Pudsey, as they are all occupied, and the rents also are
very high." This was in March, 1782; and in July of the same year
it states, "we are much concerned that we cannot get a room to
keep a school in for our boys."
The minister at Pudsey at this time, a married man, only received 8s.
per week, and at the time of the union with Fulneck, as above, his salary
was but 12s. per week.
It was old widow Stephenson who received the Brethren when they first
came to Yorkshire (sic Pudsey), and in whose house they preached.
This junction of the societies "was settled with 150 persons present,
but there were as many as 345 souls in the society. Pudsey, 125; Dudley
Hill, 60; Great Horton, 70; Baildon, 30; Leeds and Holbeck, 60. The
average during the first ten years of these societies had been 660."
The labourers on the Pudsey plan resided together in a cottage yet indicated
in the street at Fulneck.
During the separate "existence of the Pudsey Congregation, the
number in Fulneck averaged 359 the first ten years, then rose to 425
as their highest average, and was probably not much under 400 at the
time of union."
This was undoubtedly the period of greatest energy in the church, not
only in this district but throughout all its ramifications. But we have
to do with Fulneck only, and what is said of the Yorkshire societies
generally is most fully applicable here, that from "1775-90 was
the time of greatest congregational activity; 1785-1825 the almost exclusive
educational period; 1825-1855 years of comparative inactivity."
(Cent. Job., p. 35.)
The first section was one of utter and general consecration, body and
soul, to the service of God and the church, wherein no labour was too
great, no sacrifice too much, if only the one would appear to benefit
thereby, or the other required it at their hands. Indeed, the brethren
seem at this time to have come as near as possible up to the standard
of the primitive church, when "all that believed were together,
and had all things common."-Acts ii., 44. "And the multitude
of them that believed were of one heart and soul, and not one of them
said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they
had all things common."-Acts iv., 32. Imbued with this noble charity,
and fired by such zeal to promote the spiritual and eternal welfare
of each other, and of the masses lying around them in the arms of the
Wicked One, it were a marvel, indeed, if, whiled sustained by this spirit,
the blessing of heaven had not crowned their labours with success. But
"a fierce fire needs much fuel," and humanity is none the
less human however sanctified and sustained by Divine grace. The three
great forty days of Moses in the mount, Elijah in the desert, and the
Saviour in the wilderness, all had an end; for no abnormal condition
of life, whatever good it may secure for the nonce, or promise in the
future, can possibly be upheld any longer than the fire which animated
it is kept fully alive. And to suppose such a state of living can be
continuous is to ignore the whole tradition of our being, and the noble
attempt of the early Christians which so soon collapsed.
From this universal experience the Brethren were not exempt. Here it
appears that within the short space of ten or fifteen years after the
settlement of our Congregations, the numbers reached their culminating
point. The fire proved in many places to be merely that of stubble,
quickly flaming, and soon burn down. Thus, though the number of additions
was at first great, --at that time tens were counted where we are contented
with units.-the number of those that fell off was proportionately large,
amounting (in some years) to between 40 and 60. From the simple accounts,
handed down to us, it is hardly possible to say who laboured most successfully;
all appear to have devoted themselves, soul and body, to the work. The
attractive eloquence of Br. La Trobe, and the loving words of the venerable
Bishop Traneker seem to have made particular impression.-(Cent. Jub.,
We should not lose sight of the fact that the later half of the last
century was a time of general revival of religion throughout this and
some other lands. Experimental and practical Godliness was almost extinct;
services were held in the churches, and sermons were preached; but the
first were coldly formal, and the latter not only insipid but in many
cases wholly hid under the bushels of morality and tradition.
The clergy proclaimed the "form of Godliness: without the power;
often spoke of virtue, but rarely exhibited the only saving foundation
of every Christian grace. The Independents had not developed the evangelical
spirit they have since displayed, and there were comparatively few Methodists
here to search out the poor and dispised, and to preach with rude but
earnest eloquence the terrors of "the wrath to come." Thus
the field was open; there were no rivals, and even the places of worship,
such as they were, were far apart and thinly scattered among an ignorant
Thus were the fields in this corner of Yorkshire ready for the harvest,
when Ingham and Delamotte, La Trobe and Traneker, Cennick and Hartley,
with others, put in the sickle and reaped a harvest of men; while some
of the brethren, as Boehler and Gambold were "compelling the attention
of Oxford to the truth by their Latin discourses, prayers, and extemporised
The foundations this laid in true piety, zeal and learning, cannot but
be abiding; and although for awhile, the superstructure may fall partially
into decay, yet with such a basement to work upon, and the same Divine
Power at the command of their faith, may we not at any time look for
a return to the old evangelistic activities, and as a consequence, the
former fruits. "Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem
be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in the ancient
years." Mal. iii., iv.
We must now glance at another branch of the work allotted to the place,
one which has far exceeded in importance, as it has outlived in time,
that of the industrial. I refer to the work of education. This has almost
from the beginning been a notable feature of Fulneck, and long ere the
value of a liberal education was generally recognised in this country,
the Moravians were careful to give it to their own children, as well
as to admit others to the benefits of their schools. It must also not
be forgotten that theirs was a Missionary Church many years prior to
the other Protestant Churches awaking to a sense of this branch of Christian
duty. This being so, the children of the Brethren engaged upon foreign
stations, where education was next to impossible, had to be cared for
at home, so that then, as now, many were sent to this country for that
purpose. At the period with which we are now dealing (about 1750)-
Day schools were set on foot in various parts for the use of the societies;
and the children of those brethren and sisters who were set apart for
the service of the church, were, together with some few whose parents
desired it, collected into one family, forming the nucleus of the present
boarding-schools at Fulneck. The children's ceconomy was at Broadoaks,
in Essex, in 1743, but the boys were afterwards removed to Buttermere,
in Wiltshire; and in 1748 were transplanted to Smith's House (Wyke),
in Yorkshire, and finally took possession of the rooms under the chapel
(1753), which were occupied by them until, 30 or 40 years afterwards,
the present Boys School was built.
It was two years after the arrival of the boys, that the girls were
also transferred from Church Lane, Chelsea, to the same rooms beneath
the chapel. In reference to a sad epidemic of smallpox, there is an
entry in the diaries, very characteristic of the simplicity of the times.
We read: "By occasion of the smallpox, Our Saviour held a rich
harvest among the children, many of whom departed in a very blessed
The first attempt by the Moravian brethren to establish a large public
school in Yorkshire was made at Fulneck about 1785, when "a few
children of parents who, without entirely connecting themselves with
our Church, yet kept up an intimate acquaintance with it, had been already
admitted to our schools. The increase of applications of this nature,
together with the great insufficiency of the accommodation for both
schools below the chapel, rendered an additional building requisite.
In August of the above year, the older portion of the present Boys'
Boarding School was solemnly opened for this purpose by Brother Traneker."
This movement was so successful that, from a beginning of from 50 to
60, the number had reached 200 in 1817. This result was partly due to
the fact of the Church's connection with the Continent, by which an
uncommon staff of good classical, mathematical, and language teachers
was readily and continuously secured. Among the most conspicuous of
these was "H. Steinhauer, who, inheriting his father's zeal, and
endowed with extraordinary acquirements in most departments of science,
imparted signal impulse to many studies, which, with classics, mathematics,
and the pursuit of the Fine Arts, enabled this institution to afford
a more liberal education than most others."
A Theological College was commenced here in 1809, for the training of
students for the ministry, but was discontinued in 1827, being fettered
in its usefulness by "numerous restrictions and inadequate resources."
It subsisted during these few years "under various names and arrangements,
and has not since been renewed," except for a brief period.
The union of this secular education with the church work, and spiritual
life of the congregation, was not in all respects considered satisfactory.
"The service of the schools swallowed up a great number of brethren,
without creating an equivalent supply of new members;" the spirit
of zeal and self-denial was declining; success had enervated the establishment,
"and the period of real prosperity had ceased long before the numbers
had reached their maximum." But the schools were popular, the pupils
were many, and the profits good; and the glamour of this success not
unnaturally dimmed the eyes of the Brethren, so that they could not
see to what an extent they were consuming the hard-won stock of spiritual
capital accumulated during the previous fifty years. "It seemed
as if the prosperity of the schools was, by its brilliant glare, to
hide every other defect, and we believe we are giving a correct impression
of the state of feeling, when we say that the first question of a visiting
brother was not, "What spirit animates the congregation?' but 'How
full are the schools?'"
They were also among the first of the Churches to enter upon that then
novel, but now most popular, work of Sabbath School teaching. In 1800
the exertions of C.I. La Trobe were successful in establishing such
schools at Fulneck. These, with a short break at the commencement of
the period, have ever since been in operation, and proved an incalculable
blessing to the whole neighbourhood. Following a principle which seems
to be incorporated into most of their religious and social activities,
the boys and girls are kept as much as possible apart from each other,
and separate schools have been erected of late years for their use;
that for the girls being in the street at the rear of the Sisters' House,
while the one for the boys occupies a commanding position nearer the
crest of the hill. This practice operates throughout their whole polity,
the sexes not commingling in any of their religious gatherings; in fact,
so far is this enforced at Fulneck, that the writer of this article,
having taken a seat upon one occasion, at a public service in the chapel,
on the very margin of the female side of the entrance, was peremptorily
told, three times over, "You must not sit there!" This division
is also strictly carried even to death, as in the burial ground one
half is set apart for males, and the other for females, so that husbands
and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters, whatever may
be their lot in Heaven, at least in Hades are kept apart. One is led
to wonder that, with such Benedictine practices, matrimony should be
Returning to the Sabbath Schools, it is claimed for them in an account
of the "Celebration of the Centenary Jubilee," that the Brethren
were not second in this popular and profitable field of labour. It says,
"We cannot refrain also from mentioning Bro. Steinhauer, whose
exertions show us how far even some of the so-called 'simple' brethren
of olden times were in advance of their age. Both as boys' labourer
in Fulneck, and as ministering Wyke (1773), he made use of his own press,
in order to circulate printed copies of hymns or addresses among the
children, thus anticipating by twenty years the work of Sunday Schools.
It would also further appear that this same "simple" brother
is responsible for the introduction of choir-singing into the services
of the church at Fulneck. To his also is given the honourable notice
of having, ten years previous to the above date, raised the standard
of instruction in the day schools from a "course of tuition at
first very limited, comprising little beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic,"
by the introduction of higher branches of study, as Latin, German, French,
music, etc.; which, of course, considerably encroached upon the time
set apart for manual labour; for even the time of the children was strictly
apportioned between school and work. Here we appear to see the first
germ of that modern system of education in connection with our Board
Schools-the half-timers-in operation at this out-of-the-way corner of
the world, a hundred years before the establishment of these institutions
was practically contemplated. Is there anything new under the sun?
The buildings for the boys' boarding schools were erected 1784-5, but
considerably enlarged in 1818. They occupy the space between the Brethren's
and the Directors' residences, and were "solemnly opened by Br.
Traneker, who at that time combined the functions of congregation-helper
and minister with those of school director." The ceremony of the
stone laying is referred to in the Diary under date April 19th, 1784:--
Being the anniversary of the settling of the congregation in Fulneck
up (on) the footing of a place congregation 29 years since. At 8 was
morning blessings; at 11 the congn. assembled in the Hall, when, after
singing some verses, i.e., "Unfathomed wisdom of our King,"
&c., reading the inscription to be put in the Leden Box, the foundation
stone of the House for the Boys' ceconomy was laid by Br. Traneker,
who, standing upon the foundation stone, offer'd up a prayer, and though
I (was) at a great distance to (from) him, yet the feeling I had was
sufficient to convince me our Savr. Was pleased with the whole transaction.
From hence have gone forth missionaries to the remotest parts of the
earth, not only to teach and preach, but often to work and maintain
themselves in desolate regions. Here too has been the chief seminary
in England for training of ministers for the home work, and a succession
of teachers for succeeding generations. The Centenary Anniversary of
the schools was celebrated on May 3rd, 1853.
It would be an incomplete notice of these old and important scholastic
institutions, were we to omit mention of a few of the names which stand
forth conspicuously in connection with them, as Directors, Tutors, or
Among the first of these is one whose name is constantly recurring in
the Diaries of the last century, the Rev. G. Traneker. As stated above,
his duties were duplex and onerous; yet discharged, evidently, with
conscientious faithfulness, and a general satisfaction to those among
whom he laboured. He was the first "Helper" under the new
settlement, April 14th, 1755, being appointed "Ordinary [Bishop]
of Fulneck, and of the whole," i.e., the other congregations in
connection with it, "and his wife also was to be a general labouress
or elder." He is specially mentioned with the brethren Johannes
de Watteville, La Trobe, and Charlesworth.-who is referred to as the
"Gaius" or "Congregation Innkeeper,"-as taking a
general and principal part in all the solemnities of the great Conference
where these and many other things of importance were settled, including
the appointment of Br. Planta as congregation physician. The Bishop's
first appointment was not of long duration, as he was succeeded in both
offices in 1757 by the Rev. B. La Trobe, but he returned to his old
duties twenty years later, 1776, and appears to have continued as School
Director till 1791, and was congregation-helper until the appointment
of the Rev. S. Benade, in 1801. This venerable and devoted servant of
Christ and the brethren died at Fulneck in the following year, and was
interred in the burial ground there. The jubilee of the brethren's and
sisters' houses was celebrated this year.
The Rev. Benjamin Latrobe, who has already been referred to, appears
to have been a man of first importance in the church of the Brethrens'
Unity, and a member of the Central Board of Direction in London. From
him descended a long line of worthy and notable men and women who have
continuously laboured in some way or other at Fulneck, and other places,
in the interest of the church.-Of his sons, Christian Ignatius, Peter,
and James; the first named was very actively employed both at home and
abroad, and was often at Fulneck during his busy life: in the latter
part of the year 1815 he visited the missions in South Africa, being
at that time Secretary to the Brethren's Missionary Society. Peter was
an eminent musician and composer; James, in 1788 was minister at Mirfield,
and in 1806 at Pudsey-at that time a bishop-with 8s. per week. His son,
James, was minister of Mirfield from 1836 to 1841. Another member of
the family, Joseph, who was educated at Fulneck, "rose to be Lieut.-governor
of Victoria, in Australia."-
The "settling" of Fulneck as a place-congregation was done
under his guidance, in conjunction with John de Watteville, or "Johannes,"
as he is usually called, during a visit which they paid apparently for
that purpose. He followed Mr. Traneker in the offices of congregation-helper,
and school-director at the end of his first term, 1757, and is said
to have been a gifted man and an eloquent preacher as before stated,
he was the first to occupy the pulpit of the chapel in 1750. His power
as a preacher is often spoken of, especially at the Easter Services,
when the assemblies were not only very large but tumultuous. He appears
from the tabular statement, in the Cent. Jub. account to have held the
above offices until 1768, or about ten years. A note under date July
31st of that year, says, "Bro. Latrobe held his last public preaching
for this time of his long sojourning in Yorkshire. A farewell lovefeast
was held Aug. 24th, before his setting out to London." He is, however
often mentioned as visiting Fulneck during the following years. He died
at Chelsea, 1786; and so great was the respect in which he was held,
that no less than 58 coaches followed his remains to the grave.
A curious note occurs a year previous to his leaving this place:--"May
15th, I kept the meeting at the girls' school, and acquainted them that
they must again move for some weeks to Jefferson's house, in Pudsey,
as Sister Latrobe would want that house in which they were during the
time of her lying in."
Passing over a host of names, worthy of note, we must come to one whose
long connection with the Schools endeared him to many, and whose cheerful,
active, Christian life, is yet fragrant in the memory of all in this
neighbourhood. The Rev. Joseph Hutton Willey, who for a long period
was director of both the Fulneck boarding schools, was born in Ballinderry
in co. Antrim, in 1820. His father was born in Fulneck in 1781, and
removed with his parents to Plymouth in July, 1783, who had completed
their appointment on the Pudsey plan. He was a minister in the Moravian
Church, as had been also his grandfather, a Yorkshireman who joined
the Brethren at their first coming into these parts about the middle
of last century, and was appointed minister at Pudsey, 1773. His mother
was a Hutton, of a good Dublin family; she was aunt of Sir W.R. Hamilton,
the celebrated mathematician, and Astronomer Royal of Ireland, who spent
some time in Fulneck on the occasion of a British Association Meeting
in Leeds. The late director had himself been a scholar at Fulneck, which
he left in 1835 to pursue his studies, at first in Dublin, afterwards
at the Moravian Church Schools in Nisky and Guadenfeld. After completion
of his studies, he assisted for three years in tuition at a school in
Holland, spending thus eight years in early life with what advantage
is to be gained from foreign training, and becoming conversant with
German and French. In 1848, Mr. Willey was ordained in Fairfield by
Bishop Essex, and after assisting in the ministry in Bristol, he was
appointed to the charge of the congregation at Gomersal. At the same
time, in 1851, he married Miss Jane Millar, a Belfast lady, who was
educated at Gracehill. Their stay in Gomersal was but short, for the next summer, 1852, saw their entrance upon the superintendence of the
schools at Fulneck, a work in which nearly 27 years were to be spent.
During this period there were, of course, many fluctuations, but the
general course of the Institution was very successful; the premises
were improved, and the playground extended, a swimming bath built, and
the financial state of the school much improved. At the first beginning
of the University school examination, Fulneck joined the movement heartily,
and won early honours, pupils receiving prizes from the hand of Lord
Palmerston in Leeds. Mr. Fitch, on behalf of Government, made a close
inspection of both schools, and sent in a most favourable report. At
the present time, 1887, two of the former pupils are valued members
During the period of Mr. Willey's directorship, above 1,000 young people
boarded and were taught in the schools; at least 120 teachers had been
engaged in the good work; above 200 domestic servants had followed,
as usual, in too rapid succession. The elevated and airy situation of
the school buildings was conducive to health, and for a long time there
seemed to be immunity from any serious ailment, but a rather severe
visitation of fever in 1878 checked prosperity for a time, and disheartened
those who had the serious responsibility of caring for the children
of absent parents, so that Mr. And Mrs. Willey were for some reasons
not sorry to take an otherwise regretful leave of friends in Fulneck
and neighbourhood, following a call to take charge of the congregation
in Gracehill, co. Antrim. This parting took place in March, 1879.
He was succeeded in the office of Director of the Schools by the Rev.
John J. Shawe, who had himself been educated at Fulneck, and in Germany;
afterwards was engaged as a teacher here, and Brethren's labourer about
1856. He then removed to Ireland for a few years, and subsequently returned
to Fulneck in connection with the Theological Institute, which had been
revived for a short time, but which was afterwards removed to Fairfield,
near Manchester. His term of labour in striving, under great difficulties,
to restore the Schools to some degree of the prestige they had lost
by a repetition of unfortunate epidemic visitations, was cut short by
almost sudden death, under circumstances most distressing. Staying with
his family at Morecambe in 1882, one of his sons when bathing, got out
of his depth and called to him for assistance. Both were nearly drowned,
but were rescued in a state of unconsciousness by a boatman, and afterwards
restored. In the case of Mr. Shawe, however, fever supervened, and the
shock to his system was so great, that although he partially recovered,
yet a relapse came on, and he died in about a fortnight after the sad
occurrence, to the great grief of all who knew him, and amid much sympathy
for his wife and family. He was a gentleman of great energy and devotion
to his work, of very considerable attainments, and as a preacher, eloquent,
impressive, and popular.
The Rev. William Titterington, another old boy and teacher, succeeded next
in 1882, and is at present in charge of the Boys' School, which now
numbers about 70 pupils, and under his able conduct, assisted by his
matronly partner, and a staff of efficient teachers, is regaining no
small amount of the favour it so unfortunately lost for a while. Miss
Shawe, sister of the above J.J. Shawe, has the management of the Girls'
Department. These biographical notes might be extended to a great length;
indeed, a volume of biographies of Fulneck worthies would in itself
be a work of large extent and very considerable interest. For beside
those who have had the direction of the Schools, many have been otherwise
associated with them who, in their day, were
men of influence, and have left impressions of their work, which are
yet, and must continue, "Footprints on the sands of Time."
One of these was Mr. William Nelson, who as a musician and an artist, was
well known and highly esteemed both in the schools and the neighbourhood.
He had charge of the chapel organ and the musical services for more
than 30 years, these services during that period being unusually famous.
As an extempore player he had few equals, and his method of accompanying
the services was marked by great judgment and taste. Nor was he less
known as an artist. His drawings were of the highest order, and much
sought after by those who had the opportunity of knowing him.
A few of these passed under the hands of the lithographer; perhaps the
best known to the public being a view of Fulneck, and a set of six views
of Kirkstall Abbey.
In many ways he did good work for the church of the Brethren, holding
sundry offices from time to time; and many who have passed through the
schools would testify to the care and attention devoted to them in connection
with these two branches of stuffy under his guidance. He died and was
buried at Fulneck in 1868, aged 58 years. His son, Mr. C. Sebastian
Nelson, architect, of Leeds, but who resides at Fulneck, in the pleasant
house formerly occupied by his parents, has now charge of the organ
and musical services of the congregation.
One other, whose long connection with the place and neighbourhood forbids
his exclusion from these pages, was born at Fulneck, Nov. 8th, 1820,
and educated at the school there. His father dying when he was but an
infant, EDWARD SEWELL became the special charge of a mother who devoted
herself to his welfare. He was intended for the ministry, and his early
education was conducted with that aim; but circumstances occurred ere
his arrival at manhood, which diverted him from this end, and finally
moulded his professional after-life very different from what he ever
expected. He began to teach in the Sabbath school when only 14 years
old, and for nearly 20 years pursued these labours "with abundant
In 1842, he was entrusted with the head-mastership of the day school
in Fulneck, a post he held for 27 years with unvarying prosperity to
all concerned, and with distinguished honour to himself. His name will
ever be remembered by hundreds of his pupils with sincere gratitude
During the first 49 years of his residence in Fulneck he filled many
posts of honour and trust in the church; twice he was called to its
service; for years he was conductor of the choral society, and chief
bandmaster. His townsmen also elected him to several public offices,
which he discharged faithfully and well. He was connected with the chief
improvements of his native place in every direction for the good of
his fellow-men. For 16 years he was the Hon. Secretary of the Literary
Union, held in Fulneck, and the papers he read before it deserve to
be more widely known than they have been as yet.
In connection with the Cent. Jubilee celebration, at Fulneck, Mr. Sewell
composed a "Cantata," which was performed here on April 21st,
1855, and was well received.
In the year 1869, he removed to Ilkley to establish a college for boarders,
which for awhile appeared to answer his expectations. Here he served
for some years upon the Local Board and the Board of Guardians. During
his residence in Ilkley he paid a visit to Italy and had the honour
of an introduction, as Grand Master of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows,
to the Pope Pius IX., who dismissed him with the remark:
I have been pleased to meet you.-your works of charity and love have
preceded you here,--go on in the great work in which you are engaged;
for charity knows no religion, no country, and heaven will assuredly
bless you. Farewell.
Mr. Sewell not only won the distinction just indicated in connection
with his Lodge, but also that of M.A., and many other inferior, though
not less honourable, trophies by his wonderful energy, talent, and perseverance.
Though now much enfeebled by affliction and misfortune, as before said,
his marvelously active life is declining in quiet, not many yards from
where he first drew his breath.
The festivals of Fulneck have always been a leading and characteristic
feature of the place, and when the work from this centre was more energetic,
and its influence more widely spread than it has been during the last
half century, these were times of stirring importance which excited
a large amount of influence, not only upon the members of the church
generally, but also upon those dwelling in the district who were merely
observers of their doings. Upon these occasions it was customary for
very many to come from Holbeck, Baildon, Wyke, Dudley Hill, Gomersal,
Mirfield, Heckmondwike, etc., to join in the sacred services which followed
one another at short intervals during the day.
Such constant gatherings partook very much of the character of the feasts
under the old Jewish economy; when every Jew, unless incapacitated,
was expected to go up to Jerusalem to the Temple Service. Fulneck, from
the time of its constitution as a place-congregation, became such a
temple to the scattered societies of the Brethren in these quarters,
who, like the ancient Israelites, might often be seen wending their
way in small parties along most of the roads converging upon their Hill
of Zion. These holy pilgrimages-long before stage coaches or railways
were thought of-must have tended very much to maintain and strengthen
the fraternal feeling among the locally divided members of the church,
and to encourage that sympathy and fellowship which was so strong a
bond to their political unity. It becomes, indeed, a question whether
the excess of this feeling has not degenerated into an evil, and that
partial isolation and exclusiveness for which the colony is somewhat
These festivals may be divided into two classes; those which are general,
or related to the whole community, and those immediately connected with
the individual congregation, although even these latter are as universal
in their observance as the former. The general festivals-all of which
are still sacredly observed, though not in the same degree-are,
1st. Beginning of the Building at Herrnhut, by the first emigrants of
Moravia. For June 17th.
2nd. The laying of the Foundation Stone of the first Meeting Hall and
Academy at Herrnhut. May 12th.
3rd. The Renewal of the Brethren's Church, 1727. Aug. 13.
4th. The Great Awakening among the Children at Herrnhut, Aug. 27th.
5th. Beginning of the Hourly Intercession. Aug. 27th.
6th. First Mission to the Heathen; the Negroes at St. Thomas, W.I. Aug.
7th. First Mission to the Heathen in Greenland. Jan. 19th.
8th. Powerful experience in the Unity of the Brethren, that Jesus is
the Chief Shepherd and Head of His Church. Sept. 16th and Nov. 13th.
The two first of the above relate to their temporal polity; the third
to their doctrinal unity, the fourth and eighth to special religious
experiences, and the two others to their work in the mission field.
The local or congregational festivities are much more personal and limited
in their scope, yet, as above stated, as wide spread in their observance,
i.e., wherever there is a congregation to which the individual members
can obtain access. For these annual ceremonials the church is divided
into what are called "choirs" or bands, all of which, with
one exception, are in relation to the state of marriage. Thus, there
1st. The Married Choir-Brethren and Sisters.
2nd. The Single Brethren's Choir.
3rd. The Single Sisters' Choir.
4th. The Widowers' Choir.
5th. The Widows' Choir.
6th. The Children's Choir.
In addition even to this large number of special services, there are
the local school and chapel anniversaries, and others still more sacred
in connection with the birth and death of the Divine Saviour, at Christmas
and Easter. And as in reference to the latter, there has been occasion
to remark upon the disorderly conduct of the crowds of people who annually
assembled to witness the novel ceremonials of the brethren; it is only
fair to add, that the upright and sincere conversation of the one, and
the good common sense of the other, at last prevailed to bring about
a better state of things. Thus the Diary of 1822 says: "Being Easter
Sunday we had, as usual, great crowds flocking to our chapel, who conducted
themselves with decorum, and, generally speaking, with devotion."
Again, in reference to the Christmas Eve of the same year, we find-Dec.
24th, "The public service this evening was attended by great crowds
of attentive hearers; many who came could not be admitted for want of
room. It is pleasing to observe that an improvement, at least in the
manners of our neighbours, appears to take place from year to year.
On such occasions they now disperse with great quietness and decorum."
Surely this is a red mark for Pudsey, 65 years ago, and at a time when
it is usually credited with lying in uncivilised darkness!
All these festivals partake very much of one character, excepting, perhaps,
those of the Sunday Schools and that at Easter, which is preceded by
a whole week of special services. As may be readily surmised, the diaries
of the place abound with references to their observance, nearly all
of which are expressions of gratitude and praise for spiritual blessings,
sometimes the texts discoursed upon, with brief comments on the sermons,
and often with references to the weather as affecting the attendance
from the outlying Societies. Very often heavy and continuous snowstorms
are noted as preventing the movements of the people; and at other times
the wind made it dangerous even for the local members to join in the
services. Let one extract suffice:--
Feby. 2nd, 1822. The wind resembled a hurricane, and rendered it dangerous
for our brethren and sisters to pass and repass to and from the Chapel.
Besides tiles and bricks being thrown from roofs and chimnies, especially
at the Single Brethren's House, a high chimney on the house of Brother
and Sister Jowett fell about 11 o'clock at night, broke through the
roof under which they slept, and spread a great number of bricks on
the public road, which must have occasioned the loss of life if it had
happened at a time when persons passed that way. The torrents of rain
at the same time were such, that when Brother Reichel, on the following
day, was on his way to Baildon, there to preach, he could proceed no
farther than Shipley, the whole valley of the River Aire being inundated.
The observance of the Festival days mostly commences with a short early
service, which is followed by an ordinary one and address. Then there
is often a lovefeast, succeeded by an evening service, and mostly the
Holy Communion. There are also particular matters connected with each
choir, which are introduced in their order, and which serve to vary
the general routine. There is, moreover, one thing which, perhaps, characterises
these solemnities more than anything else, viz., the passing round of
a loving cup, or, as it is termed, "The Cup of Praise," when
the whole choir, or congregation of members, stands, and, joining hands,
passes the cup from one to another, each, as he or she received it,
at the same time making a solemn promise to be wholly the Lord's. Two
or three notes from the records will convey a sufficiently good impression
of the whole of these high days, and also introduce a few names of those
belonging to the Society at that period, 1818:--
April 19th. Friday being the Anniversary of the Fulneck Congregation,
and the weather being fine, there was a good attendance of our brethren
and sisters, Eleven persons at their earnest request were joined to
our Society. The two married pairs, James and Ann Wood, Joseph and Elizabeth
Waterhouse; the two men, Robert Hall and James Walker; the widow woman
Elizabeth Clark and the three girls, Mary Proctor, Mary Webster, and
Sarah Wilson. The married man William Stowe, junr., was also readmitted
to the Society.
May 21st. The Single Sisters' Choir had a lively and blessed celebration
of their festival. The day being fine, there was a good attendance from
all the country congregations. The great girls, Han. Walker, Elizabeth
Stanhope, Sar. Nichols, Mary Wood, Eliz. Proctor, and Maria Pliscke,
were received into the Choir.
Mary 31st. The married man John Naylor; the girls Han. Man, and Sarah
Turner, were added to the Society. The married woman Sarah Cromack and
the married man James Bullock, were at the same time solemnly received
into the congregation.
July 29th. The two youths Chas. Sharman and Jos. Stocks * were received
into the Choir.
*=Still residing at Fulneck End in fairly good health and strength.
A more particular account of the observance of the great Centenary Festival
which commemorated the first establishment of the little church at Herrnhut,
when Christian David, the great apostle of its new dispensation, struck
his axe into the first tree cut down for building a dwelling, with the
exclamation from Psalm 84, v. 3, "The sparrow hath found her an
house, and the swallow a nest for herself," etc. These words were
the theme of a sermon on the 16th of June, 1822,
Which treated on the excellency of our religious ordinances, enjoyed
for 100 years, with full security under every government in whose dominions
we have been planted. In the evening the congregation met for a solemn
conclusion of the last century of the revived Brethren's Unity; a powerful
emotion pervaded the whole assembly, and we received manifest proofs
that the Lord still owns us as His flock and people.
On the following morning, the 17th, the tru memorial day-
As early as five o'clock we were, by musical instruments, roused from
sleep, and then already our distant brethren and sisters began to arrive
from various quarters. At eight we assembled for the morning blessing;
and at ten an extensive and very affecting narrative was read of the
events we commemorated. The meeting was opened and concluded with the
singing of some verses composed for the occasion by our brother James
Montgomery, in which the congregation joined with uncommon life and
spirit. The chapel could scarcely contain the congregation, especially
at the Lovefeast, when an ode was sung which was in substance a translation
of that which had been composed for the congregation at Herrnhut. Want
of room prevented us from admitting, with very few exceptions, any but
members of the congregation. The discourse was held on Gamaliel's words,
Acts 5, v. 38-39. That the cause committed to the Brethren's Unity is
of God we were most powerfully convinced, by tracing His way with us
hitherto. To belong to such a people becomes increasingly dear to us,
and at the "Cup of Praise" we covenanted with one accord to
be faithful to Him Who hath called us. We can hope, from our experience
of this day, that Our Saviour will grant to our Church a season of revival
and renovation. His Spirit was poured upon us from on high, and the
celebration of this jubilee will not soon be forgotten. For the purpose
of obtaining room in our chapel for these solemnities, the majority
of the boarders had been previously dismissed for the midsummer holidays.
A very brief account of the origin of some of the first-class Festivals
may not be deemed out of place in this short history, especially as
but few outside the inner circle of the Moravian community will have
any knowledge thereof.
(No. 1.) The one referred to above is at the head of the list, and as
more than indicated, commemorates the exodus from Fulneck in Moravia
of the three or four families which, under the direction of Christian
David, first settled upon the estate of Count Zinzendorf in Lusatia,
where they found a refuge from the persecutions of their enemies, and
began the work hereafter described. These persecutions had been maintained
during a whole century by the Romish Church, until that of the Brethren
and other Protestant professors was almost exterminated, and, by the
"craft of their adversaries," had been deprived "of their
religious liberty, their chapels, their ministers, and their books."
Yet there were many of them left, especially in the little town of Fulneck
and the adjacent villages, which had formerly been the parish of the
last Bishop of the Moravian Brethren, Amos Comenius. It was on Whit-Sunday,
1722, that C. David made known to a few members of this tormented flock,
that he had formed the acquaintance of the young Count, whom he described
as "a genuine follower of the Lord Jesus," and that he had
invited them to his estate at Berthelsdorf, with a promise of protection.
Two brothers, Augustus and Jacob Neisser, both cutlers by trade, at
once set out with David, who was a carpenter, for the new home accompanied
by their wives and children, including twins only three months old,
and two or three young persons besides. They were obliged to take their
departure under cover of the night, and without communicating their
purpose to any but their most faithful friends. These godly pilgrims
arrived at their destination without any mishap, and were welcomed by
the steward of the Count, he being away at the time. They were at first
lodged in "a lonely and deserted dwelling, which had been erected
70 years before, but never been inhabited." A cow was also given
them, "that they might be able to furnish their little ones with
milk." A spot being assigned them for their colony, and the trees
marked for their use, arrangements were at once made to commence clearing
and building. "The place which had been chosen was an extremely
wild and marshy spot, overgrown with bushes and briers, at the declivity
of the hill, called the Hutberg." Is there not here a striking
likeness to the site selected by Zinzendorf in Yorkshire for the headquarters
of the Brethren?
Here it was, then, that the three earnest men set to work, and on the
17th of June, 1722, felled the first tree for the first house at Herrnhut,
thus commencing a labour full of zeal, trust, and hope, which has been
the home of their church, and the glory of its members for more than
a century and a half. "This tree was afterwards formed into a pillar,
and required as much work and labour as five others, which circumstance
led them to many reflections." It was the pious steward, Mr. Heitz,
who gave the name to the place by which it has ever since been known.
This occurred in a letter from him to the Count, on July 8th of the
above year. On August 12th he wrote: "Yesterday the new building
erected on the Lord's Watch (Herrnhut) has been so prosperously finished,
that no person engaged in its erection has received the slightest injury."
In an article written by him relative to Herrnhut, he says, "We
gave to this new place, situated near the Hutberg, the name of Herrnhut
(Lord's Watch) partly because this name will remind us that the Lord
keepeth watch over us as our protector, and partly, also, because it
will bring to our daily remembrance our duty to watch and pray continuously."
(No. 2.) Meantime the persecution of the Protestants in Bohemia and
Moravia, etc., was carried on with increasing bitterness; for in the
There arose a great and most violent persecution. All those who even
attended the meetings were thrown into prison, and the jails being soon
filled with prisoners, the rest were confined in stables, or thrown
into offensive holes, where some of them nearly perished from suffocation.
Others were cast into cellars filled with water, in which they had to
remain in a standing posture till they were almost frozen to death.
Some were confined in the very depth of winter in the tower of the castle,
to extort from them, through the sufferings they had to endure in consequence
of the intense cold, a confession of what books they had, who attended
the meetings, etc. Some were sentenced to hard labour in irons for a
series of years; some, who had made a bold confession of Jesus, remained
imprisoned for life, others were transported to distant towns, or had
heavy fines imposed upon them. This was particularly the case with the
families of Nitschmann and Schneider. The house of one of the former
was levelled to the ground because he had lodged a Protestant in the
Upon one occasion more than 150 persons were assembled at the house
of David Nitschmann, on Easter Monday of the above year, in the village
of Kunewolde, when the Justice of the Peace, with his officers, came
furiously into their midst. The Brethren, however, so far from being
alarmed or taking to flight, commenced at once with a loud voice, to
sing that verse of Luther's,
And if the world with devils swarmed,
And threatened us to swallow,
We're not afraid, for we are armed,
And victory must follow.
When the Justice commanded them to be silent, they repeated the verse
once and again, which threw him into such a state of perplexity that
he flung down the books he had seized, in haste, and departed without
executing his purpose. And this was only during the first half of the
last century, in the centre of Europe, in the dominions of enlightened
and powerful Austria. Is not the beast with the seven heads the same
ravenous and cruel creature in all places, and at all times, except
when awed by superior forces, or restrained by a tiger-like lurking
policy? Oh, that men would dispassionately read, mark, and learn what
history so plainly teaches, and not be deluded by false charity, or
a political war cry, to place those religious and other privileges won
for us by the blood of our martyred ancestors, in jeopardy! Rome is
Rome all the world over; the same yesterday, to-day, and for as long
as God shall permit her to bear her iron scepter, and wear her triple
crown; whether in her own naked hideousness, or the snowy plumes of
a celestial form.
From this bloodthirsty tyranny others at this time were driven to forsake
their kindred, country, and possessions-for some of them were "sons
of opulent parents,"-and go forth not knowing whither. A party
started on this sad pilgrimage at ten o'clock at night, on May 2nd,
1724, and, that they might "not be overtaken by those who might
possibly be sent to pursue them, traveled across a pathless mountain
toward Silecia." On the 12th they arrived at Herrnhut, where they
were received by their old friends
With uncommon demonstrations of joy: but the room for dwelling and lodging
was extremely small, there being as yet but one of the houses finished,
and of that only the lower story. This was the day appointed for laying
the foundation stone of that large building, which was intended by the
Count, and his friends united with him, to be an academy for the young
nobility, and to be employed moreover for other general and useful purposes;
and in which a large saloon was appropriated hereafter for the meetings
of the congregation at Herrnhut.
Baron Frederic de Watteville, who was one of Zinzendorf's most devoted
friends and coadjutors, and whose successor, Johannes, is mentioned
often in connection with our Fulneck, resided at this time in the humble
dwelling of the Brethren. On this important occasion he had, "from
the earliest dawn of the day been in an extraordinary frame of devotion,
and to show how utterly he had renounced the world, "placed under
the foundation-stone all the jewels and costly things which were yet
in his possession." The Count's discourse and de Watteville's prayer
and devotion produced upon the minds of the new emigrants
The full conviction that this was the place where their foot might rest.
They had quitted their country with their staff in hand, with a view
to seek a place of rest for themselves, and for those of their acquaintance,
who, like them, could resolve to forsake all their possessions in order
to enjoy liberty of conscience. Now they had found what far exceeded
their expectations, and here they therefore erected their tents.
It may be proper here to mention that the grandfather of the then Count,--Erasmus,
Count de Zinzendorf,--had himself "emigrated from Austria for the
sake of the Gospel, and left all his estates behind him."
Others, arriving shortly after at the place, were employed as masons,
stone-cutters, carpenters, joiners, glaziers, potters, or assistant
labourers; so that the Academy and Hall was opened during the following
year. On the second anniversary of the stone-laying, May 12th, 1726,
"the pupils were solemnly assembled in remembrance of Lady de Gersdorf,
grandmother to Zinzendorf, who had departed this life the 6th of March,
on which occasion they delivered orations in the Latin, German, French
and Polish languages."
The celebration of this festival is thus referred to in the Fulneck
Diary for 1818:--
May 12th. We took notice of the various events which render this day
so important in the Brethren's Unity; and more especially of that which
makes it annually a day of particular blessing to the congregation at
Herrnhut, the first of the renewed Brethren's Church, and the germ whence
all the rest have proceeded.
It would be extending this little history very much beyond its scope
were we to enter into all the particulars of the causes which have given
rise to these memorial celebrations, more especially as they are in
fact a history of the Church, and bear no direct relation to Fulneck,
only as an important branch of that tree at whose roots they lie.
(No. 3.) This can be but very summarily dealt with, and must also suffice
as regards this feature of the Brethren's ecclesiastical history. Like
most other churches where any latitude has been given to individual
opinion, this had soon to lament over a strong disposition on the part
of many to introduce other forms and doctrines than those to which they
had already subscribed. Some of these, men of mark, piety, and influence,
became infected with the peculiar doctrine of Calvin, and wrought with
so much success that almost the whole community was drawn away from
the truth as held by their fathers. Matters indeed arrived at such a
pitch that it seemed more than probably the little colony would again
become scattered, or at best divided into sects. Many means were tried
to avert this evil, but apparently without avail; counsel, entreaty,
and prayer; were alike without effect; the leaders declared their purpose
rather to go again, with staff in hand, to seek another home than to
allow their new convictions to be brought under any restraint.
All of this was matter of intense grief to the young and pious Count,
who had done so much to promote the happiness and comfort of these strangers
upon his estate, not, as he says, that a new town might be founded,
but that it should be a congregation for the Lord. By great patience,
however, combined with consummate tact, and no small amount of humility,
he succeeded so far in winning back the malcontents that the breach
was healed; a constitution of liberal statutes drawn up and confirmed;
twelve elders elected by lot; the Count appointed warden or general
overseer, with the Baron de Watteville as his as assistant; all the
other offices "were filled anew, and Brethren and Sisters were
respectively chosen in the same manner as the choice of the twelve Elders
had been effected." This custom was also carried still further,
for when the Elders in their Conference failed to agree on any matter,
it was referred to the Count "to give the decision by the use of
the lot." Thus, as a contemporary records, the spirit of our fathers
"came again upon us, and great signs and wonders were wrought among
the Brethren in those days, and great grace prevailed among us, and
in the whole country. This is the re-union of the UNITED BRETHREN."
These must be accepted as indicating the character and source of the
whole, and are given that it may be seen from whence they have come,
and with what purpose they are so religiously observed, not alone at
Fulneck, but wherever the Church extends.
The decision by lot, just referred to, is one of the peculiarities of
the Fulneck community, and as such has often been a subject of curiosity
to those without the pale. It is stated in the above instance to have
been called into use for the election of officers, and the settlement
of differences. There were also other occasions when this peculiar method
of procedure was adopted, such as the selection of persons for the mission
work, and other extraordinary purposes, and not infrequently for partnership
in marriage. Whatever may be said for or against the practice, it cannot
be denied that the Brethren had scripture warrant for its use; while
the whole significance of it in their hands, was a testimony of their
absolute consecration to God, reserving no will of their own, but leaving
the whole disposing thereof with the Lord. It may then be taken for
granted, that it was always resorted to with the greatest reverence
and awe, and after much prayer for the divine interposition, the result
being ever taken with humility and an assurance of the Lord's will.
It may be added that this solemn practice is less seldom called into
requisition now than formerly.
Another distinctive feature of the Brethren is the Pedelavium, or feet
washing, which although confined almost exclusively to themselves, as
a section of the Christian Church, has a much more positive authority
than the former. For did not the God-man wash his disciples' feet? And
did he not say, "Ye ought also to wash one another's feet?"
This injunction is accepted literally by the Moravians. The Fulneck
Wednesday, April 11th, 1770, At the Pedelavium of the place, we, who
were to wash the feet of our Brethren of the Pudsey congregation to-morrow,
had our feet washed with the place, and those who washed them were also
to be washed with us to-morrow.
And on the following day it is noted-
At seven in the morning and at five in the evening was read this day's
portion of the Acts of the Son of Man, and presently after a suitable
discourse and prayer, kneeling, was the Pedelavium for the communicants
of this congregation, and for those of the place who had washed their
fellow members yesterday.
Just another quotation to show the importance attached to this ceremony,
as a matter of conscience and holy obedience.
Feby. 28th, 1778. Br. Sam'l. Fowler, a widower, had the "foot-washing:
previous to his going to the holy communion to-morrow, as he had exempit
himself from it for many years through unprofitable reasoning.
A few incidents selected from many which are recorded, will give some
little insight into the home life of the period and help to show that
notwithstanding all the great changes of this century, the daily life
of our fathers was not materially different to what it is at present.
Oct. 5th, 1775. A few days ago one of our communicant Brothers experienced
a particular preservation; he works in the coal mines, and came out
of the pit, and, contrary to his usual custom, ran directly under a
hedge to put on his clothes, and no sooner had he left the pit but it
Oct. 23rd. Br. Willey went to see Grace Hartley in or Society, whose
husband, a cloth maker, went to Leeds market on the 17th instant, and
has not been heard of since, which is a great trouble to his wife, who
thinks he's fallen into the river and drowned. Nov. 29th. Br. John Tordoff
gat very much hurt yesterday in a coal-pit, and it was a great wonder
to every one that knew it that (he) was not kill'd on the spot, because
a stone of more than a pack weight fell from the top of the pit more
than 20 yeards deep, where he was in the bottom, and it fell upon him.
Oct. 10th, 1780. I went a good round to visit the sick; this visit was
mor4e agreeable to the sick than to my poor old legs. (Br. Gossenbaur.)
We Fear that the following note would not apply to many horse-dealers
of the present day.
July 3rd, 1782. The corpse of the widower, Br. John Hinchcliffe, was
interred at Fulneck, and as he was a man much known (for he has followed
many years the trade of going to fares and markets to buy and sell horses),
and also a man much belov'd, there were a large number of people attended
his corpse to their resting place. There were people from Leeds, Bradford,
Halifax, and all round about. We have lost in him an excellent Committee
Br., and a Br. Who helped much in our outward matters.
The part taken by the Fulneck congregation in the mission enterprise,
demands a larger notice than can possibly be given to it in this brief
sketch. It will have been observed that two of the general festivals
relate to this important section of Moravian activity, and Fulneck has
not been behind any of its fellows in doing what it could to maintain
and extend this noble campaign. Besides which, its situation so near
to the centre of England, made it a convenient "house of call"
for those who were passing to or from the Continent in connection with
the various fields of labour, so that at one time or another it has
lodged nearly every person of distinction who has been set apart for
this wide sphere of Christian charity and self-denial.
It is a pleasing reflection, when one enters the precincts of the village,
to feel we are treading where so many holy ones have trodden in the
generations before us. Men who have gone forth as "ministering
angels: to the ends of the earth, "bearing precious seed,"
or who have returned therefrom "bringing their sheaves with them."
Unknown and unheeded they passed by the doors of the many, but once
at Fulneck they were welcomed with heart and voice, or dismissed with
the Cup of Praise; thus-
Feby. 26th, 1773. Late at night was the Cup of Covenant (Praise) with
dear Br. Meder, who sets out in the morning for London and Antigus.
Jany. 15th, 1777. The day was concluded in the Hall with the Cup of
Praise with our dear Brn. And Sts. Bound for St. Kitts, who are to set
out to-morrow,.. . . the people felt a good deal at parting with them
from this place, especially Br. And Sr. Birkby.
The principal stations occupied by the Brethren have been, and still
are, amongst the lowest and most needy tribes of the human family. This
has been the policy of their Church from the beginning.
As early as the year 1715 Count Zinzendorf, while yet at the Academy
at Halle, had entered into a covenant with the friend of his youth,
Fred de Watteville, to establish Missions, especially among those heathen
tribes which were totally neglected by others.
As the outcome of this resolve they first started to labour among the
degraded negroes employed upon our sugar plantations in St. Thomas's,
and afterwards in the other islands of the West Indies. Their next step
was to Greenland, where they have done much good among the Esquimaux
and other tribes in that most inhospitable region. They have also taken
ground at the very antipodes of this northern climate, and for generations
past have scattered the gospel seed, and taught the blessings of civilized
life to the Hottentots and Bosjesmans of Southern Africa. Thus, at a
meeting at Fulneck, April 18th, 1768, the Rev. B. La Trobe stated, that
since the "setline" of the place 13 years previously-
It had yielded 20 servants and handmaids who had gone from it to be
employed actually in our service, and that Samuel Isles, one of them,
had been the Apostle of the Blacks in Antego; and William Balmforth,
another of them, was now, with much diligence and success, employed
to carry forward the work of the Lord in Island (Iceland?).
Sep. 24th, 1769. In the afternoon was the General Meeting where sweet
accounts were communicated from the congregations among the Heathen.
1812. Br. And Sr. Kleinschmidt and family on their way from Greenland
on account of the war, to winter in Fulneck.
1846. Br. J.G. Herman, a member of the Unity's Elders' Conference, visits
Fulneck, previous to setting out with Br. W. Mallalieu on a visitation
of our Missions in the West Indies; and calls on his return (1847) with
Br. P.H. Goepp, member of the Provincial Helpers' Conference of Pennsylvania.
Nor were the labours of the Brethren unobserved or unappreciated by
other sections of the Christian church in this district. A very unusual
illustration of this is found in the note following, which occurs more
than fifty years later.
Br. Ramftler was invited by some Christian friends, at Leeds, to explain
at a meeting, convened for the purpose, the nature, progress, and management
of our Missions, which was done this day, and led to the formation of
a committee consisting of 12 gentlemen, who undertook to use their best
efforts for raising subscriptions and donations among their fellow-townsmen
for the support of our Missions. This, and other similar instances of
Christian benevolence and liberality, are to be more gratefully acknowledged
by us, because the several denominations of Christians have now Missions
of their own, which are generously supported by them.
It is gratifying to know that this same spirit is still active in Leeds,
being fostered principally by Miss Baines (a daughter of Sir Edward
Baines), and that only two or three years ago a similar meeting was
held in the Mayor's rooms, at the Town Hall, under the presidency of
the then Mayor, Mr. Alderman Edwin Woodhouse, promoted chiefly by Canon
Jackson, who has manifested much interest in the Church of the Brethren.
That the people of Fulneck did not fail in this part of their own duty
is evidenced by the fact that an entry in the Diary, four years previously,
says, "Two Sermons were preached on behalf of our Missions. The
collections amounted to nearly £40."
This godly charity has been well maintained by the community to the
present day, and the Missions in operation by the Church are not the
least of the works by which it is honoured, and which still preserve
to it no small degree of the glover of "the former days."
In April, 1822, a Ladies' Bible Association was formed for the township
of Pudsey, with the co-operation of Fulneck.
It has been before remarked that the polity of the Moravian and Methodist
churches is very closely allied. Another instance of this may be noted
in reference to the Synods of the one and the Conferences of the other.
These periodical gatherings in the Brethren's Church are, so far as
this country is concerned, quite supreme as a legislative assembly,
but have not power over any doctrinal, or radical form of church government.
Several of these important meetings, which are termed Provincial Synods,
have been held at Fulneck, the first of which was in 1750, attended
by de Watteville, Boehler, Nitchman (from Herrnhut), Abraham Taylor,
etc. Descending to more modern times, one was held here in 1868, presided
over by the venerable and Rev. Benjamin Seifferth, who had occupied
the same position in the six previous Synods, and who, although present
at the one following, had to decline the honour on account of the infirmities
of old age. At this meeting Robert Willey and Frederick La Trobe were
ordained Presbyters, and others to the Order of Deacons, by the Rev.
Jas. La Trobe.
The next was in June and July, 1871, presided over by Jas. La Trobe,
and attended by 56 representatives. The time occupied by the business
and services is usually about a fortnight.
At the following one, 1874, the Rev. W. Taylor was President. At this
Conference the Rev. W. Hasse was consecrated a Bishop by Bishop Jas.
La Trobe, assisted by two others of the same dignity. Of the meeting
it is recorded; "It has been distinguished by harmony and good
feeling throughout; moreover, many excellent measures for the good of
the church and our congregation have been devised." Fulneck was
further honoured with this solemn gathering in the years 1883-6. Synods
were also held here in 1795, 1835, 1853 and 1856.
Nothing has yet been said in relation to the ceconomy of the Single
Sisters, except as regards the building of their house. The early records
of the place say,
That the first company of Single Sisters associated together at Low-house,
but finding it too difficult to get their living here, they removed
to Chapeltown in Pudsey. The chief aim of these ceconomies was to be
as much as possible out of the way of temptation, to enjoy hearts' fellowship,
and to have better opportunity for attending the meetings.
There was also a dwelling for the Sisters at Holme, a little higher
up the valley. They had been removed there on account of the crowded
state of the house at Fulneck, but, as previously indicated, their residence
was made intolerable by the action of the owner of the Tong estates,
so that they were compelled to emigrate to Pudsey, into a large house
at Littlemoor, now the residence of Mr. Geo. Hinings. This house was
consecrated for their use, Nov. 28th, 1767, by "Our dear Br. Petrus
(Boehler) with a lovefeast, and we all wished them much blessing."
Interesting is the following as a combination of the social and the
Feby. 24th, 1777. Br. And Sr. Coldwell (the newly appointed labourers
at Pudsey) and Sr. Sally Bryant, spent the afternoon with the Single
Srs. At Littlemoor, to mutual satisfaction; and drank tea altogether
by way of a lovefeast, to make them welcome to this their Plan in Pudsey.
The next refers to the anniversary of their entering the house, when
Br. Coldwell again visited and dine with them, "as it was their
going day about 11 years ago." At the following annual celebration
we have "The S. Sisters in Littlemoor ceconomy had a lovefeast,
as this was the day, 12 years ago, when they came to live there."
They were subsequently all aggregated at Fulneck.
Although but little has been said in reference to the female portion
of the settlement, it is only because it has taken a secondary part
in the spiritual and social activities of the place. They-the females-have
not been idle nuns, wasting their time in mere sentimental contemplation
or devotion, but hard-working, pious, devoted women, consecrating themselves
as fully, and, in their sphere, as usefully, as their male brethren.
In the work of education there have been some of high intellect, and
members of the noblest families in their Church; while in their choirs
they have laboured persistently and with great success, by the needle
and otherwise, for the welfare of the community at home and abroad.
It would not be possible to say how many have renounced friends, country,
and almost all the comforts of life, for the inhospitable, and often
fatal regions in which the missionaries were selected to labour. And
whatever praise may be given to their more robust co-labourers, they,
as the weaker vessels, are deserving of more especial honour, who, so
far as they were permitted, have emphasised the zeal and devotedness
of their sterner companions.
At present, both the Single Sisters' and the Widows' houses are fully
occupied, but the Diaconies being long since given up, the industrial
activity of the choirs is less apparent, and probably confined within
more personal and semi-domestic limits. One might well imagine that
those whom these buildings are intended to accommodate, could not possibly
desire a more quiet, harmonious, and perfect refuge from worldly storms
than is to be found in the quaint interiors and beautiful surroundings
of their peaceful abodes.
Of the ministers and congregation-helpers (these last were general superintendents
of all the Societies in the district, and ex-officio presidents of all
choir and other meetings) but little has been related, nor will it be
possible to do more than mention the names of a few, this being but
a sketch and not a history of the place.
The Count Donha occupied this post in 1768, and in the following year
attended the Synod at Marienborm. 1788, the Rev. John Miller was the
minister, succeeded in 1791 by Steinhaur, already mentioned. 1797, Rev.
John Hartley honourably fulfilled the duties, followed, 1801, by Rev.
Samuel Benade, a man of some eminence. 1813, C.F. Ramftler held the appointment
for some years.
Holmes, Wilson, Smith, Essex, and Edwards, succeeded during the following
years to 1852, when the Rev. J.P. Libby received this high and sacred
call. This gentleman held the office for 13 years, during which time
he earned the respect and reverence which were due to his personal merits
as well as his holy calling. He died at a ripe old age in 1865, and
was buried in the ground at Fulneck.
The Rev. Godfrey Clemens was the next in order, being ordained to this
place in the same year, where he remained until his removal to London
in 1881, thus discharging the multifarious duties of the ministry here
for 16 years. Perhaps it would not be saying too much, to state that
no predecessor of his at Fulneck ever succeeded to a greater extent
in gaining the goodwill and respect of the neighbouring churches than
he. His kindly, gentle, unassuming manners, favourably impressed all
with whom he came into contact; and not infrequently was he requested
to take part in the religious services of other denominations in the
township. His tall, slender figure, and general Christian deportment,
are remembered by many; neither will the meek yet earnest accents of
his slightly toned foreign tongue be forgotten by the present generation.
He carried the savour of his Master's spirit into all the outer acts
of his life.
Yet if all be true we have heard, there was a vein of quiet humour within
him, like the thin white layer of the onyx. Thus it is said that at
a religious meeting over which he was presiding, a good Methodist, formerly
well-known and much esteemed in this neighbourhood for his piety and
zeal-was present, who could not restrain his usual exclamations of Amen!
Glory, etc. The good minister bore this strange interruption patiently
for a while, but at last was constrained to interpose by saying, in
his own quiet way, "if our good brother is poorly he had better
He was born in South Africa, May 1st, 1818, his father having gone to
that mission field with the Rev. C.I. La Trobe, in 1815. He was the
third of the name, his grandfather and great grandfather, both called
Gothfried, or Godfrey, being distinguished members of the Brethren's
Church during the previous 80 years. After an early training at home,
where he was "a good child," he was sent in 1825 with his
older brother to Europe for education. Their destination was in Saxony,
and here he stayed for five years, being then removed to a more important
academy at Nisky, where he pursued his studies till 1836. His first
visit to Fulneck was at Christmas, 1839. It was eight years later when
he received a call to Fulneck as Brethren's labourer, and in the following
year he was chosen to represent the Congregation at the General Synod
of the Brethren's Church. His labour for this time terminated at the
end of three years. It was here, however, that he was ordained a Presbyter
by Bishop Rogers, July 3rd, 1853.
After appointments at Baildon, Wyke, and Dublin, he came to Fulneck,
as stated, in 1865, being greatly encouraged in doing so by "the
manifestations of brotherly love and Christian regard for Br. And Sr.
Libby, who served Fulneck in the gospel, for the past 13 years."
Having been elected a member of the Provincial Elders' Conference in
1881, he removed to London. "A special valedictory tea party and
public meeting were held in Fulneck on Monday, Oct. 10th, and a handsome
presentation was made to him and Sr. Clemens." His health, however,
had been gradually declining, and not long after his arrival in London
utterly broke down. When told that his end was near, he calmly replied
"I am ready," and departed "to be with Christ,"
March 15th, 1882. A full and interesting account of his life is published
in a tract by Messrs. Hazell and Co., London.
The Rev. J. Baxter is the present esteemed minister of the Congregation,
he having succeeded Mr. Clemens in 1881. It would be impertinent further
to remark, than that the high character of the Fulneck ministry is fully
upheld in his hands, and that his own personality is not likely to take
anything from the halo of pure light which encircles the memory of his
The last of these brief notices shall be that of a man in quite another
walk of life, who although holding a professional appointment in the
congregation was neither minister, director, nor teacher. We refer to
the late Dr. Falcon, a man who for many years went about, day and night,
doing good. His plain unpretentious person was as well known at this
end of the township as that of anyone in the place; and his services
were as promptly rendered at the call of the humble, as in the homes
of the well-to-do. Unostentatious to a fault, he was kindly and generous
to the patients who needed his sympathy, while perchance somewhat abrupt
with others. He did not marry until quite late in life, July 13th, 1871,
and a few years after removed from here to Boden, the home his childhood,
where he died, leaving two children; his wife having only a brief time
before preceded him to the grave.
Quite a host of eminent and distinguished men have in one way or other
been in contact with Fulneck; many have already been named :-- James
Montgomery, the son of a missionary, was educated there. His patriotic
spirit, his poetic talents, and his powers as a journalist, won him
a name which was known and admired to the ends of the earth. The author
of this little history has often seen his rather diminutive figure,
enveloped in a long Spanish cloak, in the streets of Sheffield, more
than 30 years ago. His poem on prayer is a household word, and can never
die while the soul of man recognises its dependence upon God. Although
of a true catholic spirit, his heart was bound to this hallowed spot,
nor did he fail on many occasions to visit and take part in the occasional
services of the congregation of which he continued a member even when
residing so far away.
Edwin Atherstone and John Edwards were also educated here, both of them
poets of no mean repute. Among the visitors have been the celebrated
Dr. Chalmers; the renowned and eminent philanthropist, Wilberforce;
the great champion of the factory children, Richard Oastler, who was
a pupil in the school, and was present as a speaker at the Cent. Jubilee
in 1855. This honourable list might be much extended, but it is sufficient
to indicate the scope and results of the school training, and also the
wide-spread interest that is felt far beyond the limits of the settlement
in its old and influential economy.
It is mentioned in the early part of this sketch that the Brethren were
accused of disloyalty; let us justify them by one or two extracts from
June 4th, 1818. We remembered also in our prayers our aged and venerable
King (George III.), who to day has completed his 80th year. Again, Dec.
8th, 1818. This being the day appointed for the interment of our late
Queen, whose decease took place the 7th ult, we met at 7 in the chapel
to express our sympathy with the Royal Family; and to apply the mournful
subject to serious meditations on our mortality.
One of the periodic seasons of distress in Ireland arising from the
potato disease is referred to in the following, and helps to illustrate
how far the natives of that country have been oppressed by their Saxon
July 14th, 1822. After the public service, the present distresses of
the Irish peasantry, which have chiefly arisen from the failure of two
potatoe crops, and have reduced many thousands to a state of starvation,
were commended to the charitable consideration of the congregation;
and on the following day a collection was made, in this view, by application
from house to house. The voluntary contributions in all parts of England
for this purpose already amount to between two and three hundred thousand
While these sheets are passing through the press a service of much interest
has just taken place in that hallowed sanctuary which has witnessed
so many during the 140 years of its existence. On Sunday evening, May
1st, 1887, the chapel was filled with a reverent and mixed audience,--many
members of the congregations in the town being present, to witness the
ceremony of ordination, administered by the venerable Bishop England,
who conducted the whole service, and delivered the charge. The text
was appropriate, "And daily in the temple, and in every house they
ceased not to teach and to preach the Lord Jesus." The address
was delivered with much unction and force, and evidently with a deep
sense of the responsibility attached to the work of the ministry. At
the conclusion of the charge, which was given from a chair below the
pulpit, the Bishop, who wore a long white surplice, advanced, and laying
his hands successively upon the heads of the candidates, pronounced
over each the form of ordination. The subjects were three in number:--the
first, the Rev. Frederick Clemens, son of the late G. Clemens; he also
wore a white surplice, and was now ordained a presbyter in the Church,
the Bishop saying over him, "I ordain thee Frederick Clemens to
be a presbyter in the Church of the United Brethren, in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," etc. Mr. Clemens
has laboured for several years in the West Indies, and is shortly to
return thither; having been recently appointed a member of the Board
of Directors for those islands.
There were two others who, in ordinary dress, were, in exactly the same
manner, bowing themselves under the hands of the Bishop, inducted into
the office of Deacons; the only variation being that the word deacon
was used instead of presbyter. The names of these two were, Paul A.
Assmussen, and Henry England a son of the Bishop's. A short anthem,
with the congregation kneeling, and a verse or two sung standing, with
the ordinary benediction, concluded this most interesting and profitable