A conventicle in Ewell in 1669

1997/5 p9

 

A conventicle in Ewell in 1669

 

In 1660, after the Restoration of Charles II, Gilbert Sheldon was appointed Archbishop, and nine years later he ordered a report on all conventicles or meetings of nonconformists throughout his Province. The agents were instructed to learn the places where the congregations met, to what religious body they belonged, their numbers, the quality (i.e. social status) of the people attending, and the names of their preachers.

 

The returns show a variety of nonconformists in Surrey, including ‘Monarchy men’, Quakers and Anabaptists. St. Olave’s Parish in the Deanery of Southwark had as many as 1,000 of the latter. Ewell had only 50 Presbyterians, and they met ‘sometimes at the house of Mr. Cutler, a brewer, some [sic] of one Mrs. Holmes a widow’. The ‘Heads and Teachers’ are given as ‘Mr. Symes from Wimbledon, Mr. Batho from London and Mr. King formerly att Ashtead’.

 

The Hearth Tax returns of 1664 show a Timothy Cutler with 13 hearths (the largest house in Ewell). There is no Mrs. Holmes listed, but there is a Mrs. Hulme, with 7 hearths, and, given the erratic spelling of the day, this could well be the Mrs. Holmes at whose house the conventicle met.

 

Charles Abdy