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CONTINUATION OF PART FIRST.
This work, since I first consented to superintend it, has, from various unforseen circumstances, some of which have been explained, undergone important modifications. The historical notes, for instance, extracted by the late Mr Greswell from various sources of information, had received a far more than treble addition from my own researches, when one of the most extensive collections which I have any where seen made towards the history of an individual town, (I allude to the library of Mr Heywood of Swinton Lodge,) was liberally offered to me for consultation. My task then became formidable in the extreme, and I found, that, on account of my various other engagements, it was impossible for me to do more than to confine
labours to the History of the Collegiate Church. The rest of the work has accordingly been entrusted to other gentlemen, who are qualified to do justice to their respective undertakings.
In the meantime, the Publishers have evinced such anxiety that the volumes should have every possible advantage which they could derive from the store of historical knowledge offered to them during the progress of publication, that I may perhaps be excused some remark on their public-spirited conduct, as due from myself.
The late Mr Greswell has certainly been the first, since the time of Mr Whittaker, to contemplate a History of the Church of Manchester ; nor have any subsequent attempts to this effect been made, if we except the few occasional notices of a higher cast which are interspersed in the recent very useful, yet unpretending Account of
Lancashire, written by Mr Baines of Leeds. But the desideratum would have been rendered abortive, if it had not met with support in an unexpected quarter. Messrs Agnew and Zanetti have appreciated the true value of such a publication, and have endeavoured, under the most adverse circumstances, to put it into execution. The splendid manner in which they have prepared the embellishments for the present work will, at a future period, distinguish them in the annals of Manchester as the most successful illustrators who have yet appeared of its very interesting topography; and, as this has been accomplished at an expence so enormous as to preclude any reasonable hopes of pecuniary remuneration, the publishers are fully entitled, on this account, to the lasting gratitude of their townsmen.
S. HIBBERT, M, D. Edinburgh, February 16, 1830.
HISTORY OF THE COLLEGIATE CHURCH,
ANNALS OF THE WARDENSHIP OF NICHOLAS STRATFORD, M. A. AND SUBSEQUENT
LY D. D.—ANNO DOM. 1667 to 1684.
Written by Dr HIBBERT.
In the year 1667, Nicholas Stratford, M. A. a Hertfordshire man, and fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, was, through the influence of the Bishop of Rochester, nominated to the wardenship of Manchester College."
During the first years of Mr Stratford's wardenship, the events of most consequence relate to the prosecutions against the non-conformists. Many of these were mitigated by the exertions of some few individuals in power, whose minds were bent upon bringing into the House a bill of comprehension and indulgence, which, by giving up certain principles of dissent, was intended to invite the non-conformists to again enter within the pale of the English church ; but the object failed by the determined opposition of the majority of the bishops. In the north of Lancashire, the justices were very earnest in rooting out non-conformity, and so many fines and imprisonment took place by virtue of the Oxford act, that an apprehension was excited that similar prosecutions would be attempted in the south. As a prudential method, therefore, Mr Newcome thought fit to quit the town of Manchester, and remove to Ellenbrook, where, nevertheless, he continued to preach, though privately. But the greatest number of prosecutions in Lancashire lay against the Quakers, who, when imprisoned, would neither petition to be set at liberty, nor pay the fines set upon them, even so much as the jail fees; protesting
a Nicholas Stratford was born at Hampstead in Hertfordshire. On the 17th of June 1650, being then seventeen years of age, he was admitted scholar of Trinity College, Oxon, and in 1656 became fellow and master of arts. Having married a relative of Doctor Dolben, Bishop of Rochester, he obtained, by this family influence, the Wardenship of Manchester College.
that they would not disown their right to meet together in a peaceable manner to worship God. With this class of dissenters the castle of Lancaster was filled.
But more troubles still awaited the non-conformists. In the year 1670 a clause was added by the Parliament, that any one who made part of a convention composed of more than five persons, exclusive of a family that met for the purpose of prayer, was liable to a fine of five shillings as an amend for the first disobedience, and to forty shillings for the second; all the illegal number of hearers and the preacher being alike subject to the same. It was again enacted, that, if any dispute arose about the interpretation of the act, it was to be explained in a sense less favourable to conventicles, because it was the wish of Parliament to suppress them.
It may be now remarked, that amidst all the prosecutions instituted against the dissenters of Lancashire, Mr Stratford showed great forbearance. Though himself tenacious for the observance of the due rites and ceremonies of his church, and naturally anxious that all the clergy who officiated in his parish should govern their flock without any dereliction from principles held by him to be orthodox, he still could make a generous allowance for such of his clergy as had been formerly avowed non-conformists, and had a lingering attachment to the principles of the Presbyterian discipline. Omitting, however, no opportunity to chide when animadversions were judged necessary, it is said of him, that, while he was especially tender of all his clergy, whom he loved and treated as brethren, he never rebuked but in the utmost spirit of meekness. At the same time, he was faithful to his trust ; true to the interest of his church, and zealous for it, even, as it is added, “ to the conviction of gainsayers, and to the encouragement of those who trod in
This very learned and good man has been also commemorated as a frequent preacher in the Manchester Church ; " zealous in the pulpit, and exemplary out of it; a workman that need not be ashamed.” He was a most fervent advocate for the forms and tenets of the Church of England, as by law established ; and when the arguments which he used in support of his doctrines became recommended to adoption by the truly excellent private character of the preacher, can we wonder that principles of non-conformity, however firmly they were rooted, should in time give way, and that the established church should be placed in Manchester on a firmer foundation than ever ?
But, besides the anxiety evinced by the warden for restoring all such disputed points of Church discipline, as had been dispensed with since the time of the civil wars, he sought for every opportunity to improve the constitution of his college in Manchester by new laws, which he, in conjunction with the fellows, had the power to frame"; subject, however, to the approval of the Bishop of Chester.