Malcolm Bull's Calderdale Companion : Foldout

Dr John Fawcett

Dr John Fawcett was born in Lidget Green, Bradford [6th January 1739] – see below.

He was the son of Stephen Fawcett and brother of Rev Richard Fawcett.

In 1758, he married Susannah Skirrow [1745-1810].


He was a convert of the well-known Methodist Rev George Whitefield. In 1764, he was invited to become minister of the Hope Baptists at Wainsgate Baptist Church.

In 1769, he co-founded the Heptonstall Book Society.

In 1772, he was invited to move to Carter's Lane Baptist Church in London, but the grief of the local people – just as he and his family were packed up and ready to depart – caused him to stay at Wainsgate, Hebden Bridge for the rest of his life, and inspired him to write the hymn

Blest be the tie that binds our heart in Christian love

In the Spring of 1776, he had a serious illness and moved to Brearley Hall shortly after taking charge of Wainsgate.

Around 1776, he established an academy at Brearley Hall for training Particular Baptist ministers. This was at Ewood Hall from 1786.

In 1777, he and a number of other members left Wainsgate to establish a new Meeting House – the Ebenezer Baptist Church – for the growing population in the valley and remained as Minister there until his death.

In 1793, he was awarded the degree of Master of Arts.

In 1804, the Northern Baptist Education Society undertook the work of training Baptist ministers, and Fawcett – then his son John – carried this on. It merged with the new Horton Academy in 1804.

In 1805, he built Machpelah to which he retired from Ewood Hall, and also owned Peel House, Warley.

He wrote and published many poems, books and essays, including

His educational work at Brearley Hall and Ewood Hall, training young men for the Baptist ministry, led to the establishment of the Northern Baptist Education Society.

In 1811, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity

He died on 15th July 1817 and was buried at Wainsgate Baptist Church, Hebden Bridge.

In a lecture entitled Dr John Fawcett and the Fawcett family given at a meeting of the Bradford Historical & Antiquarian Society, Professor Federer of Bradford said

[The Fawcett] family do not appear in Bradford parish earlier than 1705, in the person of Stephen Fawcett, of Wibsey, who had one quarter of a sitting in the Bradford Parish Church allotted to him in the appropriation of pews made in that year.

He probably came from Shelf, as his grandson, Dr John Fawcett, had a county vote for freehold land there.

Stephen Fawcett had two, if not more sons, Stephen and John, besides two stepsons, also bearing the names of Stephen and John, who lived, respectively at Lower Park House and Woodhouse, North Bierley.

Stephen Fawcett, son of the first named Stephen, had a small farm at Lidget Green and died in 1751, having a large family, of whom two, John and Richard, were directly or indirectly destined to exert great influence over the spiritual and temporal interests of Bradford and its immediate neighbourhood.

But for John, who, as minister at Wainsgate, held all the threads of the Baptist organisation in the West Riding in his hands, the Dissenting element in Bradford dale would not have gained the predominance which it now possesses; and but for Richard's son Richard, appropriately named the Factory King, in all probability Bradford would not now be the great manufacturing centre that it is

See Elland Particular Baptist Church, Fawcett tomb, Wainsgate, William Hartley, John Fawcett Centre, Hebden Bridge, Rev John Parker and Poem about Rev Oliver Heywood

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© Malcolm Bull 2017 /
Revised 16:04 on 14th August 2017 / x82 / 9