1806, Oct

Henham Independent Chapel formed under the pastoral care of Joseph Harrison (the first Minister.)1

[Note: Joseph Harrison would have been 27 years old.]

1. Henham Independent Chapel Records, D/NC 36/1, Essex Records Office.

1807, Jan 13

Joseph Harrison is mentioned in a letter by Eliza Flower to her husband Benjamin Flower of Harlow. It seems that Harrison was going to visit the Hoddesdon congregation with Benjamin Flower of Harlow backfilling Henham whilst he was away. The Hoddesdon congregation however cancelled the visit due to their meeting house being under repair.

[Note: The letter is available on Dr. Timothy Whelan’s blog.  Click link for details. Also gives some information on the “Young Nottage.”]

[Note: The sub notes in the link incorrectly identify the “Mr. Harrison” as Joseph Harrison’s father (1749 – 1821) but it was in fact Joseph Harrison jr (1779 – 1848).]

1810, Dec 16

Meeting of Henham Chapel Members.

‘At a Meeting of the Members of the Church, and subscribers held agreeably to public notice given at the close of the afternoon service. Dec 16, 1810 Mr Flower of Harlow in the Chair It was stated that Mr Harrison had at a Church Meeting held on Friday evening the 7th Instant, preached a Farewell sermon, in which he gave notice “that his ministerial labours at Henham were at an end;” and that in consequence the people were left without any supply on the following Sabbath:Resolved Unanimously – That Mr Harrison, being present, be requested to give his reasons for resigning the Pastoral office, which he having done – after some discussion it was Resolved Unanimously That Mr Harrison’s resignation be accepted. Resolved Unanimously – That Mr Barker be requested to provide supplies on the Sabbath, till the church shall proceed to further discussion of its present state. Adjointed -‘1

[Note: Mr Flower of Harlow refers to Benjamin Flower (1755-1829), radical journalist and political writer, a vocal opponent of Britain’s involvement in the early stages of the Napoleonic Wars. Perhaps some political views that would rub off onto Joseph Harrison? The records show that Benjamin Flower was an original trustee of the church.]

[Note: Benjamin Flower edited “The Cambridge Intelligencer” from 1793 – 1803, and later, “Flower’s Political Review and Monthly Register” from 1807 – 1811, roughly the same years that Joseph Harrison was at Henham.]

[Note: In 1794, Benjamin Flower wrote a letter to President George Washington expressing his respect and esteem. The letter was accompanied by a copy of Flower’s book The French Constitution; with Remarks on Some of Its Principal Articles, 2nd ed., London, 1792]

[Note: Benjamin Flower’s brother, Richard Flower, migrated to Illinois, USA in 1818. He wrote a paper titled – “Letters from Lexington and the Illinois containing a brief account of the English Settlement in the latter Territory, and a refutation of THE MISREPRESENTATIONS OF MR COBBETT.” dated 1819. Cobbett emigrated to the USA in 1818 to escape prosecution but was critical of the settlement’s suitability for farming.]

1811, Jan 20

Meeting of Henham Chapel Members.

‘A Meeting was Held by the Members of the Church & Subscribers when it was agreed that Mr Harrison should answer to the charges Brought against Him he acknowledged 2 of the charges True it was agreed that the Meeting Should adjourn for One Month.’1

1. Henham Independent Chapel records, D/NC 36/1, Essex Records Office.

1811, Mar 4

Meeting of Henham Chapel Members.

‘At a meeting of the Members of the Church & Subscribers held agreeably to Public Notice as required by the Trust deed In all cases relative to the choise of dismissal of a Pastor a motion being made that Mr. Harrison be again invited to the Pastoral Office the same was objected to by Mr Flower Mr Nottage & others Principally for the Following reasons That Mr. Harrison at a Meeting on Dec 16th Positively Declared the reason of his resignation to be that Mr George Nottage a Member of the Church opposed him in such a manner & had so slandered his character that he could no longer remain Pastor now as the Church have not either excluded or Publicly censured Mr G. Nottage, Mr Harrison thus concurring, cannot if he was Honest in what he said again accept Of the Pastoral Office.— But the Grand and Principal reason for objecting to the said Resolution is the many sad instances of loose Immoral conversation and Indecent Behaviour on the Part Of Mr Harrison utterly unbecoming The Character not only of a Gospel Minister but of a man of common Decency. The truth & guilt of which have being at Different times acknowledged by Mr Harrison but which he in a declaration read this Evening affirmed when so many Stories brought up against him to Sacrifice an Innocent man—
After some discussion, the Question for Mr Harrison being as invited to the Pastoral Office was Put and carried in the Affirmative by a considerable majority—-‘1

1. Henham Independent Chapel records, D/NC 36/1, Essex Records Office.

[Note: Thomas Nottage born 1757, his son George Nottage born 1789. ]

[Note: George Nottage was arrested for debt in 1815 and spent time at the Marshalsea prison. His father Thomas Nottage revoked him as executor to his will in 1828, possibly due to his poor management of money.]

[Note: Timothy Whelan also notes that – “The ‘Young Nottage’ mentioned above and the Miss Nottage who appears in letter 118 are probably Thomas Nottage’s children. He may have been a descendant of the Rev. John Nottage (1720-76), who pastored the Baptist meeting at Potter Street, Harlow, from 1753 until shortly before his death in 1776. Nottage’s will, dated July 1774, mentions that he had three brothers-Joseph, Isaac, and Nathan-all living in Essex, where the family had originated. As this letter shows, the Nottages of Henham were much involved in Baptist matters in Essex.”
So given that family connection it’s possible that Benjamin Flower would side with George Nottage.]

1812, Oct 21

Formation of Littlemoor into a Church.

From the Littlemoor Chapel records:

‘The formation of a Church took place in 1812…The first pastor of the church was the Revd. Jos. Harrison who laboured in connection with it for about 5 years. His ministry was not a happy one. His conduct was not satisfactory. The peace of the church and the harmony of the congregation were destroyed. The life of Godliness declined and the congregation dwindled away.’1

1. Littlemoor Independent Chapel records, Derbyshire Records Office.

Harrison however refuted these allegations:

‘I certainly never violated the chastity of those females, neither do a I know whether they are males or females but by their outward appearance. There was one young Lady, the daughter of James Kershaw, of Charlestown, who was much given in joking and nonsense, and sometimes I so far lost sight of the gravity requisite in my situation, as to return joke for joke; but perceiving that it tended to destroy the order of my school, I determined to maintain order by keeping this young Lady attentive to her studies; this displeased the young Lady, and she began to tell tales to her parents, and to influence others to do the like. In a few weeks afterward, a friend was sent by Mr. John Kershaw to reprove me, in general terms, for indiscretion of conduct. This reproof was well received by me, and I returned Mr. Kershaw an answer the following day, frankly and unsuspectingly taking all the blame to myself, for I knew it was my duty and determination to maintain due order and decorum in my school. This was made a handle of by some – a thousand lies were circulated, and a few dissatisfied individuals began to complain of my large family, political principles, &c. I, feeling no disposition to contend, voluntarily resigned my charge about six months afterwards, and I appeal to that congregation, whether they did not censure my resignation as rash and hasty, and whether the congregation has been as large since I left, as when I was with them.’1

[Note: John and James Kershaw were cotton mill owners in Glossop and helped fund the church.]

1. British Press, September 16, 1819.

The Littlemoor Chapel records also list the names of the 12 original members of the church. Five of these were either removed or expelled so it seems the moral criticism experienced by Harrison was applied to the congregation as well.


Joseph Bowers – “Was excluded for immoral conduct and neglect of the ordinances of Jesus Christ. Dec 30 -1825”

Joel Bennett – “Was separated for disorderly walking and impenitency. Jany 31 – 1828”

Joel Lomas – “Was separated for having withdrawn disorderly and neglected the ordinances of Jesus Christ. Dec 30 – 1825”

Jas Higginbotham – “Was separated for causing division and walking disorderly. July 25 1833”

Jno Newton – “Was separated for living in sin. Dec 30 – 1825”

1814, Jul 6

Joseph Harrison ordination as pastor at Littlemoor Chapel, Glossop.

Read more about his joining the Radicals in Stockport…

One thought on “His Early Career

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