Page images

on the badge of Christ in Baptism. How fondly do many mistake here, deceiving and being deceived; dreaming that effectual grace is necessarily tied to the external administration of baptism (which, what is it but reviving the popish tenet of sacraments working grace ex opere operato -); and so every infant should be regenerated, not only (sacramento tenus) sacramentally, but really and properly, hence men do fancy that being regenerated already in baptism they need no further work.”


The Bible, and the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants."CHILLINGWORTH.

By Indentures of Lease and Release dated the uth and 12th of July, 1692, Philip, Lord Wharton, conveyed to (1) Sir Edward Harley, of Brampton Brian, Hereford, Knight, (2) Sir Thomas Rokeby, one of the Judges of the Common Pleas, Knight, (3) John White, of Cotgrave, Notts, Esquire, (4) Edward Harley, second son of the said Sir Edward, of Eywood, Hereford, Esquire, (5) Thomas Bendlows, of Howgrave, Yorks, Esquire, (6) William Taylor, of Wooburn, Bucks, Gentleman, and (7) William Mortimer, of Healaugh, Yorks, Gentleman, and their heirs and assigns, the capital messuage or grange and demesnes of Synithwaite, with the appurtenances, in the county of the city of York ; and also the demesne lands and outhouses, barns, stables, gardens, orchards, tythes, lands, tenements, meadows, pastures, woods, underwoods and hereditaments to said capital messuage or grange belonging situate in the towns, fields, parishes, territories or precincts of Bilton, Walton, Bickerton and Synithwaite, or any of them, in the said county of the City of York, and all other his messuages, &c., therein.

UPON TRUST that the rents and profits of the premises should be employed for the buying of ENGLISH BIBLES of the translation established by authority and CATECHISMS, to be distributed yearly to and amongst poor children who can read, in such towns, parishes, or places as the said Lord Wharton should by any writing under his hand direct; and likewise for the preaching of SERMONS yearly at such of the said towns, parishes, or places, and in such manner as he should direct; and it was directed that upon the death of any four or more of the trustees the survivors should convey the estate of the premises to other trustees to make up the full number of seven, and so on from time to time.

SYNITHWAITE, or Sinningthwaite, four miles from Wetherby, the same distance from Tadcaster, and ten miles from York, occupies the site of a priory founded by Bertram Haget in 1160 for nuns of the Cistercian order, and dissolved in 1534, when its revenues were valued at £60 gs. 6d. per annum.

Of the original buildings only a beautiful Norman doorway, part of the Priory Farm, now remains. In 1560, July 20th, the first Lord Wharton purchased of Robert Tempest (to whom it had been granted by Henry VIII. in 1539) “the house and site of the late monastery and priory of Sinningthwaite, and messuages in Walton, Bykerton and Bylton." And after the time of the fourth Lord Wharton this estate was commonly known as “ Bible Lands." Most of it was in the occupation of a family named Wilson for a very long period.

The annual rental in 1736 was £ 189. A survey, at the request of the trustees of the Bible Charity in 1787, states that it consisted of 72 closes of land (including the remains of the old Priory), containing 463 acres, 2 roods, and 24 poles; total value, £279 135. 10d. ; tenants, John Wilson and widow Mortimer. In 1790 the rent was £307. At a later date (1806), after making some alterations, and erecting new buildings, the trustees divided the estate, and let the same to Francis Wilson for £255, William Wilson for £245, and Samuel Stubbs for £12 125.; total, £512 12s. The timber on the estate was at the same time sold for £540.



1. Sir Edward Harley.

5. Thomas Bendlows. 2. Sir Thomas Rokeby.

6. William Taylor. 3. John White.

7. William Mortimer. 4. Edward Harley, M.P. Of the trustees appointed by the deed some further account must be given :

(1) Sir Edward Harley (1624-1700) was the son of Sir Robert Harley, a notable Puritan, who presented to the rectory of Brampton Bryan, Herefordshire, Stanley Gower, a member of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, who was minister there at the time when the castle was held for seven weeks by Lady Brilliana Harley against the Royalists (1643). He was himself a colonel in the Parliamentary Army, but subsequently opposed the proceedings of the Army leaders. After the Restoration he was made Governor of Dunkirk, and long sat in Parliament. Being a Presbyterian, he was closely associated with Nonconformist ministers in Herefordshire, and frequently attended the ministry of Richard Baxter in London. “He vigorously opposed all the Acts for persecuting Dissenters, and the Act that made the Sacrament a civil test (1673)

and foreseeing the King (James II.] would attempt to set up Popery, he declined all manner of public employment, and neither he nor any of his family ever took any oath to that King."*

Although often spoken of as “a mortal enemy of the Church,” he is called by Calamy “an ornament and support of religion.” He published “A Scriptural and Rational Account of the Christian Religion, particularly concerning Justification and Redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ,” 1695. Heywood notes in his Register : “Sir Edward Harley, a pious man, died December (8th), 1700, aged 80." He was father of Robert Harley, first Earl of Oxford, and Edward Harley, one of the original trustees of this Charity.

* "Memoirs of the Harley Family," by Edward Harley, Auditor of the Exchequer. (Hist. MSS. Commission, MSS. of the Duke of Portland, Vol. V., 1899.)

(2) Sir Thomas Rokeby (1631-99), whose father was an officer in Cromwell's army, and killed at the battle of Dunbar, was educated at Catherine Hall, Cambridge, admitted 1646, B.A. 1650, and Fellow of his College till Michaelmas, 1651. He chose the profession of the law, and was a student of Gray's Inn; and after he was called to the Bar he spent a considerable time in chambers, his country residence, when term was over, being at York, where his mother lived. Shortly after the Restoration he married Ursula, daughter of James Danby, of Newbiggin, near Thirsk; was confidential adviser of Nonconformists in the North, and did not himself altogether escape trouble on account of his Nonconformity. On June 22nd, 1684, the house of Mrs. Rokeby, without Micklegate Bar, York, was broken into by the constables, and thirty-five persons (including the Congregational minister, Ralph Ward) arrested for holding religious service there, several of whom were imprisoned in Ousebridge Gaol for a long period. The name of one of those arrested was John Gowland, probably the same as he who afterwards became secretary of Lord Wharton's Bible Charity. When Oliver Heywood was released, after twelve months' imprisonment in York Castle for a like offence (1685), he was entertained by lawyer Rokeby at his house at Lendal, York.

At the Revolution of 1688 Rokeby was appointed by William III. one of the judges of the Common Pleas (1689), knighted (October 31st, 1691), and made Judge of the King's Bench (1695). He was a very devout and generous man. In his “Memorabilia”he wrote, July 11th, 1688: “Having seen a book written by Mr. Heywood, I have purposed, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit of God, to renew my personal covenant with God in a more solemn and large manner, and to put it in writing under my own hand for the better preservation of the memory of it, and the stronger obligation of myself to keep it, which I humbly beg of God for Christ's sake to enable me to do. Amen.” After his raising to the bench he was constant to his principles, and regularly attended the preaching of Mr. Stretton at Haberdashers' Hall, where Thoresby saw him January 26th, 1695. He had the misfortune, by the fall of a scaffold, to break his thigh, so that he always went lame, and was obliged to have some one constantly to attend him. It was his custom to dispense in charity one-tenth of his annual income. And in his will (1697), commencing, “In the name of the Almighty and ever glorious God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and in a reverential fear of that infinite blessed, and glorious Trinity, I, Thomas Rokeby, Knight, do make this my last will," &c., we find the following provisions :

Item.-I give to every one of my brothers and sisters a Bible of 40s. price, to be clasped with silver; and I desire that in a leaf before every one of these Bibles these following words may be fairly written, 'The Word of God contained in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament is the only unerring rule of faith, worship, and manners.'

Item.-I give to poor ministers of the Gospel, and to the widows and children of such, the sum of One hundred pounds, and to poor people dwelling in the city or county of York the sum of twenty pounds."

He died at his lodgings at Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street, London, on November 26th, 1699, aged sixty-eight, and was interred in the Parish Church of Kirk Sandal, near Doncaster, his ancestral home. A monument was erected by his widow in the Rokeby Chapel there, with an inscription in Latin to the effect that he was distinguished by religion, love of country, liberality to the needy, fidelity to friends, prudence in civil affairs, in fine, every virtue that constitutes or adorns a good man.” His widow was an intimate friend of Lady Hewley, of York, the munificent benefactress of Nonconformists, and was appointed one of her executors, but died before her, August 10th, 1707.*

*A Brief Memoir of Mr. Justice Rokeby," by Canon Raine, 1861.Surters Society, Vol. XXXVII.

« PreviousContinue »