Rev. William Grimshaw

The Reverend William Grimshaw, who encouraged the local growth of the Methodist movement in the eighteenth century, died at his home, Sowdens, off Dimples Lane just outside Haworth, on the 7th April 1763.

Brochure and Guide to Haworth, A. H. Preston (John W. Parker, Haworth, 1950): “The ministry of William Grimshaw in the mid-eighteenth century proved another great epoch in church history at Haworth… Although the people had Puritanical tendencies, their code of living embraced a throwback to their Norse ancestors, and their religion did not work downwards into their lives. They drank and gambled, spent their Sundays in frivolous fashion… Such was the Haworth to which, in 1742, the Rev. William Grimshaw came to minister. His earnestness of purpose, combined with stout arm and ready horse-whip, did much to offset the riotous living of the time.

“Although an Anglican, William Grimshaw attended Methodist Conferences, and actually became first Superintendent of the Haworth Circuit… He allowed the large kitchen of his house at Sowdens to be used for Methodist preaching and was instrumental in building the first Methodist Chapel and preacher’s house in West Lane in 1758…

“In the Spring of 1763, Haworth was afflicted by a putrid fever which was highly infectious. Grimshaw caught the infection in visiting his sick parishioners… he succumbed to the epidemic after twenty-one years devoted service at Haworth. He was interred at Luddenden Church, near he remains of his first wife…

“Grimshaw was the means of bringing to Haworth, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitfield, John Fletcher, and many other notable preachers of the day, and these visitors certainly left their mark, for after Grimshaw’s death, Haworth seems to have settled down to a period of quiet, although the sturdy independence of the natives frequently asserted itself.”

Sowdens was occupied by Grimshaw from 1742 to 1763. The house can still be seen today and is now a Grade II listed farmhouse. It includes a reused datestone of 1699. The end gable holds a stone tablet, installed in 1963, that reads: “Sowdens Parsonage, William Grimshaw, 1742-1763. Here stayed John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, John Newton, Henry Venn.”

The Lilywhite Photograph post card was published in the 1930s and is from the personal collection of Tim Neal. The modern photograph was taken by Tim in 2022. Researched and collated by Tim Neal.

Rev. William Grimshaw and Sowdens.

Author: Admin Tim

Tim is a committee member of the Keighley and District Local History Society, with responsibilities for archiving the physical and digital collections, and managing some of the social media channels. He moved to Keighley about 15 years ago and joined the Society to learn more about the area.

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