Lidget in Clayton
(First published in 1962 in volume 8, pp. 30-38, of the second series of The Bradford Antiquary, the journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society.)
The small farmstead of Lidget in the township of Clayton in the parish of Bradford possesses no arresting feature which might indicate a link with bygone days. It, has, in fact, been given but scant mention by local historians. But in this small farmstead there lies the nucleus of one of Bradford's most populous districts - Lidget Green. As at Kipping in Thornton during those troublous days of the seventeenth century that followed the passing of the Act of Uniformity, a church was formed at Lidget under the leadership of one Richard Whitehurst, and a congregation of Dissenters drawn from Horton, Allerton, Clayton and the heights above, met there for worship in an outbuilding.
It would seem that Lidget has its origin in the remote past. The name is by no means uncommon; in etymology it indicates loud water, or roaring-water, the peoples' well or the gateway to the peoples' well. Places so named are usually located near to an ancient highway where, probably from time out of mind, there could be found in all seasons a plentiful supply of water. We have similar examples in Ludgate and Luddenden. A never failing supply of water was of paramount importance to the folk of bygone days; where such an abundance was found a man built his house - it was the deciding factor in choosing the site - and in times of plague and pestilence a great boon. Such a place must Lidget have been in past centuries.
The farmstead stands alone at a point where the Bradford Road in Clayton dips down between two low hills. Between those hills, and adjacent to the farm, runs a stream called Lidget Beck which runs northward for a little distance where it enters Bullgreave Wood and there it is known as Bullgreave Beck. Still a little further north it joins Bradford Beck. In addition to the Beck, Lidget is supplied with water from several springs or wells.
Lidget is frequently named in documents which refer to the upkeep of the old highway between the farmstead and Clayton town. There is also evidence that during the seventeenth century a road or track led from the Yate to the lower fields, and from there to Crosley Hall and Allerton.
The earliest mention I have found of Lidget is in the roll of the Clayton Court Baron of John Watmough for the year 1630.1 In this roll is the entry:
That those persons to whom one yate called Lidgetyate doth belong shall keep the same up and in good repair as well in the Wynter tyme as in the Sommer tyme upon paine of penalty of iijs. iiijd.
The earliest large scale map I have seen of Lidget is dated 1844.2 This map shows the farmstead standing exactly as it does to-day. There is the house in the centre and a barn built on to the west gable.A few feet away from the east gable there is marked an old cottage of a single room, now used as a dairy. The interior of this tiny building is only interesting in so far as the roof timbers, which are well preserved, are a good example of the structural simplicity of this type of dwelling; there is an open fireplace and broken mullions to the windows.
It would seem that early in the seventeenth century Lidget-yate was part of the lands of John Holling of Langhamberries (now Langberries), in Clayton. The Hollings, Hollins or Hollyns family settled in Clayton during the sixteenth century and became prominent in township affairs. A century later we find from various indentures that descendents of this family migrated to adjacent townships; for example, Allerton, Thornton, Manningham and Bingley. A Clayton Muster Roll of Henry VIII records Richard Hollyns as being one of seven men who could provide a horse.
According to a roll of the Court Baron of John Gledhill3 we find that in the year 1653 Lidget was sold by John Hollings. The entry reads:
Abraham Nailor claims to hold of the Lord of this Manor one messuage called Lidyat in Clayton purchased of John Hollings by deed bearing date 23rd of March 1653 and the jury do find the said messuage with all those appurtenances to be held of the Lord of this Manor by fealty suite of court and the rent of 3s. 2d. and the said Abraham Nalior hath appeared at this court and hath done his fealty but his reliefs is to be assessed at the next court according to the value of his rents.
The Nailors, later spelt Naylor, into which family Lidget had now passed, were freeholders in Clayton during the seventeenth century. A Commonwealth assessment on Clayton township in the year 1651, when the levy at this date was 2s. 2d. for each landowner shows that only three persons could pay that amount. Abraham Nailor was assessed at sixpence for his lands at Moor Houses, now a part of Queensbury, and fourpence for his lands on Clayton Heights.
It is interesting to note in a later roll of the Clayton Court dated April 20th, 1655,4 that Abraham Nailor was one of the jurors of the Manor Court. We also find his name included in the Clayton Booke of Freeholders, bearing date 1658, and also in the rentals of the early part of the eighteenth century.5 His rent of 3s. 2d. for Lidget was paid in two instalments - 1s. 7d. at Whitsuntide and the same amount at Martinmas.
Abraham Nailor had numerous children, several of whom predeceased him, including his eldest son, Abraham. His wife, Grace, died on November 15th, 1704. Nailor himself lived to a green old age; he died on May 30th, 1711, and was buried at the Bradford Parish Church.6 His son, Isaac, inherited Lidget.
The steading of Lidget had several owners before it became part of the estate of the late Mr J. Atkinson Jowett, from which it passed into the hands of the present owner a few years ago.
There are in existence a few deeds to which I will draw attention. The first, an indenture of lease,7 is dated January 6th, 1727:
Isaac Naylor of Lidget in Clayton in the Parish of Bradford leases to Thomas Littlewood of Great Horton (Worsted Weaver), all that messuage and dwellinghouse which Isaac Naylor doth now inhabit and dwell, one barn and other buildings (except two cottages) ... situated and lying in Clayton aforesaid and all those several closes of land, meadow and pasture called by the names of the Ing, the Thompson Close, the Brow, the Brow Bottom, the Long Brow, the Paddock, the Croonook[?], the Croonook Bottom, the Long Close, the Little Field, the Calf Croft ... together with ... ways and watercourses (except reserved to Isaac Naylor and his heirs and whosoever friends as he think fit shall have the liberty at all times to take up water from the draw well) ... to hold the said messuage, ... barn and closes of land from February 2nd, 1727, for 21 years, (rent, 13li. 9s. yearly) ...
It will be seen from the clause relating to the draw-well that there actually existed at Lidget, early in the eighteenth century, a source of water not limited to the owner's private use. Also this indenture points to a steading at the old Lidyate now grown in size. It is interesting to note that most of the above-mentioned closes of land may be identified to-day.
Isaac Naylor, by his will dated March 30th, 1743,8 left Lidget (still having as tenant Thomas Littlewood) to Abraham Aikroid, perhaps a relative, for there appears to have been no issue of the marriage. Naylor's wife, formerly Catherine Barker, also of Clayton, who survived him, was to receive the sum of 45s. annually from Aikroid, and there were certain other reservations in her favour.
A later indenture, dated November 12th, 1767,9 giving extracts from the will of Thomas Littlewood, shows that at the date of his death he was the owner of Lidget. Did he purchase.the farmstead when his lease expired in 1748?
There appears to be no direct evidence that Abraham Nailor took up residence at Lidget when he purchased it from John Hollings in 1653. It is probable that he, or John Hollings, built a dwelling-house at Lidget. The farmstead we see to-day, though it has obviously been rebuilt more than a century ago is constructed of ancient stones, as is also the barn at the west gable. And it is this barn which now claims our attention for we read in the Diary of Oliver Heywood that Richard Whitehurst built a meeting-house at Lidget.
At this point it is interesting to recall certain events in the history of nonconformity relative to Bradford-dale and Richard Whitehurst's association with the church at Kipping and, subsequently, Lidget. We must not, however, confuse the Lidget in Clayton with the Lidget at Kirkburton where Godfrey Armitage built a meeting-house.
Until John Ryther went to Kipping in 1668 as regular minister, the church had been served by visiting preachers. Ryther stayed but one year and was succeeded by Richard Whitehurst, the ejected minister of Laughton-en-le-Morthen.
Whitehurst must have been a familiar figure in Bradford-dale during the latter half of the seventeenth century. He was an old and respected friend of Oliver Heywood who describes him as 'An honest Non-conformist'. On horseback, often in the company of Heywood, Whitehurst preached in various meeting-houses in and about Bradford-dale, and we gather from the pages of the Diary that he was a man of no mean talents. It is quite probable that it was Oliver Heywood who prevailed upon him to take Ryther's place as Pastor to the flock at Kipping, where, like his predecessor, he lived with John Hall and his family at Kipping House.
For several years all appears to have gone well and the congregation grew in number. But, after a time, there came a serious breach between members. of the church. Joseph Lister has something to say of this breach in his Autobiography and he puts the blame on Richard Whitehurst. Oliver Heywood was called in to assist in healing the trouble but those pious folk nursed their grievances - the breach widened and proved irreparable. The outcome was the establishing of the church at Lidget by Whitehurst and his followers.
We find in Oliver Heywood's Diary10 a more. detailed account of.the breach at Kipping:
September 3rd, 1678. I went according to promise to visit Mr. Whitehurst [at Lidget] and he being not at home (though his wife sent for him to Bradford and he came) his wife and I walked out to see the meeting-place, &c. Walking in the garden she told me of some fruit trees her husband had brought into this country and set them in the garden at Kipping. John Hall's son, Zelophead, a youth of 9 or 10 years old, cut them unhansomely; being asked why he did so he said he did it on purpose, for, said he, what hath he to do to set trees in our garden?
This, she said, was the first occasion of their vast difference and irreparable breach in their churches which is grown so high that though means have been used for healing, yet things grow worse and worse and more incurable daily; they desiring a dismission, the other will not grant it, they take it, bitter speeches proceed out of their lips against each other ...
From many subsequent entries in Heywood's Diary we see that he spared no effort to bring peace between the members of the church at Kipping and those now at Lidget. But his efforts came to nothing. Under the leadership of Whitehurst the new church at Lidget flourished, and Oliver Heywood and many ejected ministers preached there constantly. A note in the Diary reads:
March 12th, 1680. Mr. Dawson and I rode to Lidiat, Mr. Whitehurst's meeting place, where Mr. Jolly preached out his text begun at my house.
During the dark and perilous days for Dissenters Whitehurst's wife sickened and died. Her death has been briefly recorded: "July 20th, 1686. Buried in her husband's meeting-place."
With the passing of the Act of Toleration the days of peril for Dissenters came to an end. It was then that Richard Whitehurst certified to the Quarter Sessions at Leeds in July, 1689:
An assembly of Dissenting Protestants in and about Bradford-dale do make choice of the house of Richard Whitehurst, clerk, Lidgate, Clayton.
Whitehurst ministered for fourteen years at Lidget (1678-1692). At the end of that period he moved to Bridlington where he died on September 5th, 1697.
The question now arises: Is the barn which stands to-day at Lidget the same structure which Whitehurst built as a meeting-place in 1678? It would seem to be, for it is contemporary with that at Kipping. It is built in the same style, with the wide gable and the low-pitched roof, though this has obviously been raised several feet. Inside, old beams support the roof.
Lidget was ideally situated for the cause of Dissent, there in the little valley it lay hidden from the world outside, though many narrow trackways would be used by the devout folk who worshipped in Whitehurst's meeting-place.
The suburb of Lidget Green grew out of old Lidgate, and our city's boundaries, since the Industrial Revolution, have rapidly spread up the hills and joined hands with it. In due time, Progress may possibly swallow up this ancient landmark.
© 1962, Ivy Holgate and The Bradford Antiquary