|Methodist Society Members 1781-1802: Low Moor|
John Nelson, the stone mason preacher from Birstall, first bought Methodism to Low Moor at the invitation of Betty Firth, sometime after his imprisonment at Bradford in the 1744 and a society was formed. In 1747 John Wesley himself made the first of his visits and "regularised" the society. We are told Betty Firth married Thomas Worsnop and that he together with Ebenezer Pyrah were the first Society Stewards. Both are in these class lists, where membership is known from 1781 to 1802. Thomas Worsnop died in March of 1782 and appears only on the first list and is marked "dead". Ebenezer Pyrah was a Circuit Steward for the Bradford Circuit and died in 1810. At first they met in houses, and one such was Lower Park House, now called Prospect House. It was the house of George Hoyle, the class leader, was used when visiting preachers came.
When the Low Moor Company built its foundry on the common at Low Moor in 1790 some of the first workers were Methodists and as the classes in the district grew they begged the use of the Old Laithe Barn and converted it for worship. Eventually in 1809 a purpose built church was erected on land given by the Low Moor Company. It was designed by Thomas Woodcock who had been the architect of the first furnaces. His father, Richard, can be seen on the class lists.
Although there were other classes at Oakenshaw and Wibsey churches were not built there until much later in the 1800's.
The table here is extracted from entries in the books of the Methodist Society in Bradford Archives. The unlined and unnumbered pages carry the information of all the local societies in the Bradford area and sometimes beyond.
The book gives the state of class membership for thirteen separate years over a 22 year period. A grey cell means that person is listed as being amongst the membership for that particular year. The initials in the cell shows whose class it was. In 1781 there was only one class of 33 members with George Hoyle as leader. By 1783 there were four classes;
There was a good deal of movement of members amongst these classes so all four have been included here.
In the period covered, only one leader was replaced, this being Abraham Howgate in place of Moses Gomersal.
Very often over the years, the names the classes were listed under differed. Henry Butler's Oakenshaw class was later often listed as 'North Bierley' or 'Bierley'. To further muddy the waters, the North Bierley class was often entered as just 'Bierley'. Luckily the consistency of a hard core of members in each class easily identifies which class is which. Low Moor is occasionally listed as 'Wibsey Moor'.
In 1800, Henry Butler's class was missed off but a note states that the class had 13 members. The probable members for that year are marked with an asterix *.
The listings were usually made in June. The earlier records give the most information while the latter years just give name and surname.