Benjamin Ingham

Pastor Kevin Price's Lectures notes, used at the  Strict Baptist Historical Society, 2016. 

Pastor Price gave this same talk at Martin Top in 2018. It is shared here with his permission. 

'Benjamin Ingham - The Yorkshire Evangelist'


The name of Benjamin Ingham - ‘The Yorkshire Evangelist’ is largely unknown in the professing Christian world of the twenty-first century.  Even in the scene of his labours, the former counties of Cumberland, Westmorland, and the West Riding of Yorkshire, he seems to have been forgotten, except perhaps amongst those congregations whose history was influenced by him, and the one remaining chapel that still bear his name.

If little is known of Ingham himself, then even less is known concerning the denomination he was instrumental in forming, and its subsequent connections, although now almost extinct.

Written material on Ingham and the Inghamites is sparse, and he receives only the briefest of mentions in most dictionaries of the Christian Church.  Often this pertains only to his associations with better-known figures of that period.  Serious students can consult two manuscripts in The John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester, written by William Batty, compiled from Ingham’s diary and the conference reports from some of the chapels.

Religion at the beginning of the eighteenth century was at a low ebb in England, and the ‘Age of Reason’ had largely robbed the churches of an experimental and vital religion of revelation.  Benjamin Ingham was used by God, at the middle of that century, to bring about the beginnings of a period of revival in the northern counties, which prepared the way for later efforts by others.  ‘For a period of twenty-five years, Benjamin Ingham, as such an instrument, was used in calling men out of darkness into the glorious light of the kingdom of God’.  (1).


Benjamin Ingham - The man:

Benjamin Ingham was born on 11th June 1712, at Town End, Ossett, in  the West Riding of Yorkshire. 

The actual house has been identified with accuracy in recent years.  He was the third son of William Ingham , a farmer and hatter, and his wife Susannah.  He was said to be ‘too handsome for a man’ (2) . 

His education was at Batley Grammar School, where he matriculated in 1730 and at Queen’s College, Oxford, where he graduated BA in 1734. 

It was whilst at Oxford that Ingham met John and Charles Wesley, ‘an encounter which led him to become an ‘Oxford Methodist’ and to adopt a disciplined lifestyle in the pursuit of holiness’. (3)

Although in 1734 Ingham speaks of a ‘resignation to God’ (4), he does not appear at this time to have undergone a conversion experience.  In this he was not unlike John Wesley, who later had the experience when his heart was ‘strangely warmed’.  We might conclude that Ingham had a sincere but formal religion at this time, and it appears it was a religion of self-effort and works.

He began to keep a diary, in the pattern adopted by Charles Wesley, and this makes for fascinating reading.  On the day of his ‘resignation to God’, Good Friday 12th April 1734, we read:

‘Set my larum at 3 but was disturbed by drunken persons (so) that I could not sleep, could not rise till 5; disturbed also with dreams...............12.45 Prayer for my resolutions and protestation, and resigned myself.............I washed myself to represent my repentance and hatred of my past life, and my resolution of becoming a new creature’. (5).

These ‘resignations’ consisted of Ingham considering ‘the shortness and uncertainty of life, the emptiness and vanity of the world, and all the things of the world...........I see it’s absolutely necessary to live a holy and religious life......I utterly renounce all pleasures and diversions which are obstructive of the love of God, especially shooting etc..........I give up baked pudding with fruit, etc...................I’ll not suffer myself to eat one bite at table before I’ve first fixed the quantity; not to pick, or eat between meals...............every breach of this resolution shall be sconced one pence or the next meal.......set apart some time every day for doing good.  Set apart a full hour morning and evening and a quarter-hour at noon for devotion’  (6)

After obtaining his degree, Ingham returned to Ossett, where he held services in his mother’s home, but after eight months he returned to Oxford in June 1735, there to be ordained into the Church of England ministry by Bishop Porter at Christ Church Cathedral.  He immediately went to London and later to Matching as schoolmaster and curate.

After a very short time in this position, he set sail for Georgia in the USA, with the Wesleys and Charles Delamotte in October 1735.  Delamotte eventually joined the Moravians and ‘after a long life of piety and peace, died at Barrow upon Humber in 1796’  (7).  The purpose of this journey was to preach the gospel to the native population, but the mission did not succeed and early in 1737 Ingham returned to England in order to recruit helpers for Georgia..  A year prior to this, he had moved to Irene, near Savannah, to work with the Indians in America.

About a month before his return to England, Ingham found rest for his soul in a profound evangelical conversion experience.  John Wesley was not to receive the full assurance of salvation until a year later.  Whilst abroad, Ingham had met the Moravians, who greatly impressed him, and he believed them to be more representative of primitive Christianity.  He was impressed at that time by their piety and passivity, and perhaps there was also something of the mystic in Ingham which drew him to them.  He applied for reception into their community but for some reason was rejected.

Late in 1737, Ingham was to return to Ossett, where a sermon he preached in Wakefield Cathedral caused an uproar.  In a letter to Charles Wesley, he says: some say the devil is in me; others that I am mad.  Others say no man can live up to such doctrine, and they have never heard such before.  Others, again, extol me to the sky. 

Tyerman says: His preaching caused great sensation, and his private labours, among his neighbours were not without results.  A man with a soul like his - burning with a zeal that would have led him gladly to sacrifice his life among the wild Indians of America - could scarcely fail to be an earnest, successful evangelist in his own country.  (8)

In 1738 Ingham was to set sail again, with John Wesley, for Germany, to visit the Moravian communities there.  He was pleased with the Moravians and was allowed to partake of the communion with them, whereas Wesley was rejected.  The was because Ingham was already showing signs of leaving the Established Church, but Wesley was not, and it was felt by the Moravians that ‘his head had gained an ascendancy over his heart’.  (9)

Wesley had spoken of his concerns about certain aspects of Moravian piety, namely their passivity and a tendency to antinomianism: Ingham and Zinzendorf, in their turn, did not share Wesley’s doctrine of Christian perfection or his emphasis on discipline in the daily life of the believer. 

Relations therefore between Ingham and Wesley became somewhat strained.  Wesley was also worried at the Moravians’ lack of aggressive evangelism, in favour of the setting up of closed societies in selected locations.

Whilst in Germany, Wesley and Ingham visited Marienborn, the residence of Count Zinzendorf.  They were accompanied by John Toltschig, who greatly influenced the English Moravians and who later became Ingham’s co-evangelist in Yorkshire.  It was at Marienborn that Ingham’s heart ‘burned within’. 

Wesley and Ingham were not alone among the Oxford Methodists to associate with the Moravians, and Whitefield, Westley Hall, Kitchin, and Hutchins were all present at a Moravian lovefeast in Fetter Lane on 1st January 1739. 

Wesley records that ‘about three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground’.  (10)


His message - early days of ministry:

So far, we have considered those events that led up to him commencing his own ministry in his native Yorkshire.  Upon his return to Ossett in 1739, he took up his labours once more with renewed zeal and he preached mostly in churches and chapels in the Wakefield, Dewsbury and Leeds area.  A number of private religious meetings were also held, and many hearers were brought under deep conviction of sin and converted.  It was, as Tyerman records ‘a day of divine visitation’. (11)

However, on 6th June that year, Ingham was prohibited, at the Wakefield Visitation, from preaching at any of the churches in the Diocese of York.  Wesley had already been placed in this predicament in London, and thus two ordained ministers were unable to occupy pulpits in the Established Church.

Ingham thus began to preach wherever he could find an opportunity. Village greens and streets, fields, barns and cottages all served as ‘pulpits’ to him.  It is said that he travelled around two hundred miles each week.  His circuit soon extended from Nottinghamshire in the south to Cumberland in the north, and within a short time at least forty congregations had been formed in his local area.  The ministry that was to lead to the founding of a new denomination, and yet to know such decimation, had begun.

At Dewsbury, in 1740, riots ensued following Ingham’s preaching, yet in all this he exhibited a fine Christian spirit in all the persecutions that came his way at this time. 

By this period, the Wesleys were in conflict with the Moravians.  Wesley’s doctrine of the witness of the Spirit had been further confused by their teaching and Ingham travelled to London to reconcile brethren. Wesley, however, was expelled and the Methodist Society born.  George Whitefield even became involved, writing a ‘Calvinistic and not too luminous epistle’ (12) from America.

Ingham was by now virtually the leader of the Moravians in Yorkshire and was close to schism with the Established Church.  He was very much the accepted leader of his group of societies and he did not willingly share this position with another man.  John Nelson, a convert of the Wesleys, had worked closely with him and was allowed to exhort his societies, but later Nelson’s authority to do this was withdrawn, possibly because of the threat to Ingham’s authoritative position as head.  Nelson was a Yorkshire stonemason, and when he was engaged in building Somerset House in London he had come into contact with the Wesleys; his relationship thereafter with Ingham became strained, as also did that of the Wesleys with the Moravians in London.

Although Ingham was instrumental in bringing the Moravians to Yorkshire, William Batty  (13)  records that he ‘declared himself neither a Methodist nor a Moravian......but that his design in going about was to bring souls to a saving knowledge of the Gospel’.  Soon, because of his extensive travels, he had over two thousand hearers in sixty locations, mostly in West Yorkshire.

On 24th August 1740, Ingham had a further spiritual experience when he received ‘the full assurance of salvation’.  This took place at Ossett, when ‘the Lord appeared for him in a particular manner................the great Mystery of godliness was made clear to him.  He then experimentally knew what ye White Stone meant, and the New Name and ye Passover and the Blood of Sprinkling.  From ye beginning of ye year 1737’ he had had a lively hope of his interest in Christ which had grown up in him stronger and stronger so that he was freed from doubts and fears about his salvation.  But now he was fully assured of his eternal salvation’.  (14).

Although Ingham had done much to introduce the Moravians to Yorkshire, he had some uneasiness about their doctrine, particularly the ‘stillness doctrine’, which taught that those who lacked the full assurance of salvation should engage in no spiritual activities. In other words Bible reading, prayer and attendance at the Lord’s Supper were to be forsaken until such assurance came.  The Moravians also taught that assurance was the essence of true faith, and that the existence of doubts and fears was a sign of the absence of such faith.  Ingham had spoken against these perceived errors publicly.

A second division was looming in Ingham’s association with the Methodists.  In 1741, he broke his connection with the Wesleys over the doctrine of entire sanctification.  When Wesley visited Yorkshire, he and Ingham never met and none of those connected with Ingham’s societies attended the Methodist services.  Many of Ingham’s supporters claimed that Wesley preached false doctrine and that it was not safe to hear him. 

The foundations were therefore being laid for the rise of the Inghamite denomination, especially in some of the fruits from this period of Ingham’s ministry.  Mention has already made of Charles Delamotte, who accompanied Ingham on his mission to Georgia; Ingham was instrumental in the conversion of several of the Delamotte family, including William, brother to Charles, who in turn began to preach, and some of the family became members of the London Moravian society. 

William Delamotte was used in the conversion of Lawrence Batty, who went on to influence others in his own family, the Batty family in due course becoming closely associated with Ingham’s rising group of societies.  William Delamotte and Ingham preached much together, and Pickles says that ‘by their preaching in Bedford in the late 1730’s (they) have been acknowledged as the founders of the Moravian community there’ (15).

In 1741, Ingham married Lady Margaret Hastings, sister-in-law to Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, and thereafter resided at Aberford Hall, near Tadcaster.  Although he had been comfortable financially before his marriage, he was now in an even more prosperous position.  He was thus able to pay the expenses of his preachers in the newly formed societies and he frequently gave away any spare money he had, being given to good works of various kinds.  Lady Margaret Hastings was one of the daughters of Theophilus, Seventh Earl of Huntingdon, by his second wife and, with her sisters had been to hear Ingham preach in neighbouring parishes to Ledstone Hall, where they lived. 

Lady Margaret Hastings was one of the first in the family to be converted and she introduced Ingham to the Countess of Huntingdon.  Although the Countess was impressed by Ingham, she and others in the family did not consider ‘a wandering Methodist’ as a suitable person for the titled Lady Margaret to marry.  ‘.....Ingham’s worldly prospects, as an itinerant preacher, hardly looked promising’.  (16).

Their only child, Ignatius, was born in 1745; his son, to become Judge Theophilus Hastings Ingham, lived until 1900 and attended the Salterforth Inghamite Chapel, where Benjamin Ingham’s Bible was preserved.

In 1742, Ingham handed his societies, about fifty in number, over to the Moravians.  He wished for their help in maintaining them, but they would do so only if the control of the work was passed to them.  Tensions continued between himself and the Moravians for some years before his separation from them in the late 1740’s, although he did attend the Moravian Synod in Germany in 1747.

In 1744, Ingham had negotiated, on behalf of the Moravians, the purchase of a twenty two acre site at Fulneck, near Pudsey, and this was leased to them by Ingham.  It was to become the base for their operations, and the centre of their community. 

It appeared, however, that the German Moravians were intending ‘to oust him from the area in which he had originally preached’.  (17)


His ministry - the rise of a denomination:

As the responsibility for the societies was no longer in his hands, Ingham was freed from much of the administrative work and began to turn his attentions to preaching further afield, having received a call to preach in the Craven area of the West Riding in 1742.  He did not bring the Moravians or the Methodists into this work, which was to see the Inghamite denomination formed.

At Lanshaw, near Settle, he preached to Mr and Mrs Gyles Batty, who, together with their sons, had been brought into spiritual concern by William Delamotte in 1740.  He then preached at Settle, Wray, Newby and Austwick where the gatherings were much blessed.  He met the famous William Grimshaw, Vicar of Haworth, who invited him to preach in his parish.  As a result of Grimshaw’s preaching in the area, meetings were springing up outside the parish church.  Ingham went on to preach at Wycoller and Colne, and the area around Trawden, which later became the location for a number of his chapels.  An interesting fruit of Ingham’s ministry in the Colne area is that four of his converts went on to become prominent men in Particular Baptist causes; two of these, Joseph Gawkroger and Richard Smith, became ministers, the former at Bridlington, and the latter at Wainsgate, where he exercised a zealous Calvinistic ministry.

Ingham’s ‘circuit’ was all the time expanding and in 1746 he preached in Lincolnshire, especially in the Isle of Axholme area, where some meetings were established, a meeting room being built at Newbiggin.

In 1749 he preached at Dent, in the Yorkshire dales, and from there he began to preach in the former County of Westmorland, which was a most fruitful scene of his labours.  He was invited by Edward Simpson to preach at Roundthwaite, near Tebay, where about eighty people gathered, and then at Leck, near Cowan Bridge, where he again met up with Christopher Batty.

The burden of the work, and especially the travelling, often in atrocious weather conditions, began to tell on Ingham, and it is said he suffered from ‘ye ague’ and constant chills caught in his battling through snow drifts to preach God’s Word at remote locations. 

During these years he began to have less and less contact with the Moravians; he later withdrew his son, Ignatius, from their school at Fulneck, and resisted any attempt to involve them in his newly established work.  The final break came in 1751 when Ingham resolved ‘to break off his connection with ye Moravians on account of their extravagances, pride and arbitrary proceedings’.  (18)

Ingham’s preaching ‘circuit’ continued to expand, with the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland being regular areas where his ministry received a warm welcome.  William Grimshaw preached regularly for him, as did George Whitefield on his visits to northern England and in later years William Romaine, who highly regarded Ingham’s ministry.

Ingham’s connections with the Batty family, through William Delamotte, has already been noted.  The Batty family were closely associated with Ingham and became leading figures in the Inghamite denomination.  They lived at Newby Cote, near Settle, and founded a chapel at Thinoaks on Newby Moor.  Lawrence Batty and his brother, Christopher, preached with Ingham at Colne in 1743; later another brother, William Batty, was brought into concerns about his soul and, through reading a hymn on the blood of Christ, experienced a manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The area around Colne became the most fruitful ground for the Inghamites.  Several chapels came to be built later and the one remaining place of worship in the denomination is to be found in this area.  Richard Smith, already referred to as one of Ingham’s preachers, co-founded with Ingham the chapel at Winewall (closed in around 2002), near Trawden, having preached there with Ingham earlier.  Smith became pastor at Winewall in 1750, although later he became a Particular Baptist minister.

The other most prominent preacher associated with Ingham was James Allen, who had been born in 1734 and at an early age became concerned about his soul’s welfare when he heard Ingham preach.  Having attended Cambridge University, he backslid, but in 1752 heard the Inghamite preachers again and was led into a full profession of faith.  He later built a meeting house at Gayle, near Hawes, which is now used as the local institute, and Allen is buried in the little chapel yard there.

These years were the period when Ingham was experiencing the most blessing in his ministry.  Converts were multiplying and an era of chapel building was to begin with the erection of the chapel at Wheatley Lane, near Barrowford.  This chapel continues to this day, although far removed from its original ethos, as part of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches.  It retains the Inghamite name, has its own minister and chapel house, and vast burial ground, where the remains of many of the earlier Inghamites await the resurrection morning.

Some of Ingham’s spirituality can be gleaned from an address to his fellow-labourers at Winewall in 1753:

‘......In the first place, preach Christ crucified as the only foundation; let His Godhead, blood and righteousness be the chief topics of your discourses.  In the next place preach such points of doctrine as are essential to faith and practice, as the corruption and weakness of man’s nature; the necessity of God’s Spirit to call, enlighten, convince, and convert sinners; justification and sanctification as inseparable, for where Christ’s righteousness is imputed His life, Spirit and nature are imparted.  Preach repentance and obedience as concomitants of true faith, and good works as the fruit thereof.  Denounce curse, wrath, and damnation against all wicked, wilful and impenitent sinners, and proclaim mercy and salvation to all penitent, humbled and broken-hearted sinners that come to the Lord Jesus.........lay the axe boldly to the root of the tree and declare boldly and roundly that nothing but an experimental knowledge of Jesus Christ in the heart can make us happy either here or hereafter......’   (19)

There are thus signs that Ingham had moved from his Moravian and Methodist influences to a more Calvinistic understanding of his faith.  In an interview with one of the few remaining ‘true’ Inghamites, I learned that Ingham could be regarded as a moderate Calvinist, with an experimental understanding of the Doctrines of Grace.  The years around 1748-50 are regarded as the most sound period in Ingham’s ministry, doctrinally speaking, I understand.  It seems that Ingham’s Calvinism may have been kindled by his association with the Countess of Huntingdon and her ‘Calvinistic Methodism’. 

It is interesting that many writers who mention Ingham briefly do so in a Methodist context.  Some refer to his denomination as ‘Calvinistic Methodists’; others, such as the late Professor Alan Sell refer to ‘two varieties of Methodism - those associated with Benjamin Ingham and George Whitefield’.  (20)  Sell also comments on Whitefield’s Methodism being Calvinistic but Ingham’s as being influenced by Moravian piety. 

Other writers treat the Inghamite denomination as being a split from Methodism, or a sect within Methodism, or emphasize minor distinctives, such as the lack of a trained and paid ministry.  These fail to give place to the heart religion that Ingham preached, the doctrines of grace preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the workings of a precious Christ in the heart.  Others, because of the limited geographical influence, know little of the rise of this small, but precious, group of churches.

Other names associated with this period of Inghamite history are William Blades, Samuel Meggott, Samuel Mortimer and Stephen Brogden.  Christopher Batty eventually removed from Newby Cote to Kendal, where he became elder at the chapel there.  Kendal was a fruitful place for the Inghamites, and Ingham had preached there with evident blessing earlier.  A chapel, known as the Pear Tree Chapel, had been built (the pear tree nearby was later blown down in a gale) and this became a leading cause in the denomination.  The work at Kendal continued until around 1970, when the last elder, Richard Thompson (author of ‘Benjamin Ingham and the Inghamites’) died, the building being converted to residential use.  As late as the 1950’s it had a flourishing Sunday School, and the annual conferences of the Inghamite churches were often held there.  I spoke briefly to Mr Thompson’s son, a retired estate agent living locally, about his father’s ministry there.  A former Inghamite informed me that, on a visit to the Kendal chapel in 1945, Mr Richard Thompson preached at the morning service and in the evening read a sermon by C H Spurgeon.  The ‘strictness’ of the gathering there was apparent in that one of their young men appeared with his fiancee who was from the Presbyterian Church, but she was not allowed to join the Inghamites at the Lord’s Table.

The Inghamite connexion continued to grow, although at this stage it was not officially part of dissent.  Ingham, unlike Wesley, was not skilled in organization, and there was little in the way of planning to unite the societies. 

Ingham had been willing to hand over the organization of his earlier groups to the Moravians in West Yorkshire, but now he was working in more rural areas, and plans for the various preachers began to be a necessity.  Pickles says: ‘In 1748 began the organization of ‘Societies’ following the example of other branches of the revival movement’. (21)

The first Society to be thus settled by Ingham was at Thinoaks, where 25 people committed themselves to the cause of truth there.  Among the names was that of Richard Faraday, a relation of Michael Faraday, the well-known scientist.  Michael Faraday became a Sandemanian, which is particularly interesting in view of what was to happen to the Inghamite denomination.

In 1753, the question of Methodist-Inghamite Union was considered by the Wesleyan Conference, but the answer received was: ‘We may now behave to him (ie Ingham) with all tenderness and love, and unite with him when he returns to the Old Methodist doctrine’.  (22)

The Countess of Huntingdon was keen that the union should take place and it was therefore raised again at the Conference in Leeds two years later.  Charles Wesley favoured union, but John did not, possibly because Ingham was perceived to be somewhat unstable in what had happened to his earlier societies.  He lack of organizational skill would not have appealed to John Wesley, with his clear and defined structures.

The Inghamite denomination was now officially set up and ordinations of elders began.  80 people meeting at Wheatley Lane formally left the Church of England and declared themselves to be Dissenters.  At this time, Societies were settled in Slaidburn, Newby Cote, Aberford, Pendle and Trawden Forests, Paythorne, and Chipping.  There were upwards of a thousand hearers in the Craven area, and preachers were to visit these once a fortnight.  Strict rules of admission to membership were put in place and discipline was enforced.  All members were expected to speak to Ingham personally twice each year; failure to do so, unless explained by letter, would result in the member being publicly ostracized.

On his visits to the Societies, Ingham reproved and disciplined members.  The minute book records how at Salterforth he ‘reproved Wm Lofthouse for backsliding and admonished Edmund Harrison for neglecting to reprove and correct his son’.   (23)

Sometimes, as at Paythorne, a Society was formed in a house, on this occasion consisting of 36 souls where Ingham records that ‘there was a sweet feeling of grace among them and all seemed peaceful and happy’.  (24)

As is the case in many groups, troubles often arose.  At Paythorne, despite a good beginning, a member claimed the preaching was legal and had kept her in bondage was for years, she claimed new and startling revelations, whilst interpreting the Scriptures in a surprising manner.  It appears there was a strong desire for an experimental ministry here.  Others became influenced by Wesley’s Christian perfection teaching, and this caused some dissent too.  Such dissenters were often suspended from the lovefeasts by the General Overseer (Ingham).

After 1748, reference is found to Societies being settled at York, Tadcaster, Barnoldswick, Rodhill, Leck, Birks, Butterwick and Grayrigg.  In the Birks records there are mentions of transfers from the Roundthwaite, Bampton and Swaledale Societies, but it is not possible to say how many Societies existed at this time.

The chapel at Birks has a most interesting history, and its registers have been transcribed.  It was a leading location in the Inghamite denomination, yet it closed as long ago as 1816.  Today it is used as a barn and only by careful searching can one discern where the pulpit stood on the far wall.  The burial ground is unmarked, but stood immediately adjacent to the chapel.  The baptismal font found its way down the hill (allegedly it was rolled down the hill) but was given to the Kendal Chapel around 1938.  It takes some imagination to picture the earnest believers making their way to this remote location for the regular worship, but come they did, and if not ‘the joy of the whole earth’, as Zion was, it was at least the joy of those who loved her - 'beautiful for situation'.

The influence of Birks extended from Stainmore to Shap and the Inghamites even managed, as a missionary effort, to have a footbridge erected ‘over the Eden at Sandford for the convenience of their members who lived at Hilton and Murton’.  (25)

Ingham visited Birks in 1760, the year the chapel was registered with the Bishop of Carlisle.  Christopher Batty and James Allen also preached there; their names appear as officiants at baptisms, of which 121 are recorded. 

The last minister at Birks was a Mr Capper, who also kept a school, and the Inghamites at that time also had meetings at Crosby Garrett and Asby. 

Ingham’s travels took him to Derbyshire, Cheshire and South Lancashire, although it does not appear that any Societies were settled there.  James Allen took the Inghamite message into the Lake District proper, preaching at Hawkshead Hill, Torver, Borrowdale, Dunnerdale, Penrith, Keswick and Appleby.  Although none of these places had chapels built, it is interesting to note that in some of them, notably Hawkshead Hill and Torver, these places later became the scene of Particular Baptist activity, as also did some of the North Westmorland places where Ingham laboured, especially Asby and Crosby Garrett.  These were some of the very few places of Baptist influence ever in Westmorland, an area of strong Methodist teaching even to this day.

The growth of the Societies brought external problems too in the form of persecution, and sometimes this was from professing believers.  At Kirkby Lonsdale, the local vicar hired a mob to hound Ingham out of town; he eventually walked over the fells to Slaidburn to escape.  On the vicar’s instructions, a mob attacked two of the preachers and damaged nearby property, shouting ‘We want no vendors of new notions.........Let us keep off the hereticks’.  (26)

At Slaidburn itself there was a spate of persecution when William Batty preached and he was ‘made a gazing stock’........the mobbers ‘Swearing, huzzahing, throwing sticks and beating a drum....the chief cause of this tumult was two clergymen who lived in the town and stirred up the people both by words and liquor’.  (27)

The writer of historical fiction, Robert Neill, speaks of a man in Colne ‘who didn’t attend Church...........he was an Inghamite’.  (28)  We can thus see the mounting influence of the denomination in this period in the northern counties.

In 1748, Ingham published ‘A collection of hymns for Societies’, and around this time the Moravians also published their own collection.  The choice of hymns in Ingham’s book show a strong Moravian influence, although of course at this time he was distancing himself from them.  Contributions by John Cennick, Isaac Watts, and Charles Wesley are present.

In 1757, the ‘Kendal Hymnbook’ appeared and this was almost exclusively made up of hymns by Inghamite authors.  There are no names appended, but it is generally known that the hymns are by James Allen, Christopher Batty, William Batty, Thomas Rawson, James Hartley, John Green, Alice Batty, and Benjamin Ingham.  (Ingham’s only other published writing is his ‘A Treatise on the Faith and the Hope of the Gospel’ , 1763).  The title page runs: ‘A Collection of Hymns, for the use of those that seek and those that have Redemption in the Blood of Christ’.  Some of these found their way into Whitefield’s Tabernacle Collection and those used in the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion.  There are still six in common usage today, in Gadsby’s Hymns, numbers 41, 158, 415, 741, 950 and 952.    (29)

Pickles says: ‘The Kendal Hymnbook is an important historical document as it is the only surviving evidence, apart from contemporary opinion, of the nature of the religious profession in the Inghamite denomination during its most spiritually prosperous era’.    (30)

The Kendal Hymnbook has, in recent years, been beautifully reproduced by Dr Matthew Hyde, together with an introduction, and this is a most profitable volume.

Probably the most well-known hymn is that which today begins ‘Sweet the moments rich in blessing’; it was revised in later years by Walter Shirley.  The original version, by James Allen, is as follows:

‘Oh how happy are the moments

Which I here in transport spend

Life deriving from His torments

Who remains the sinner’s Friend.


Really blessed is the portion

Destin’d me by sovereign grace

Still to view divine compassion

In the Saviour’s bruised face’.


Benjamin Ingham - his mistakes:      

The 1750s’ were, without doubt, the best years for the Inghamite denomination, both in terms of numerical growth and spirituality.  There was a sweetness about the fellowship, God was moving in their midst, and converts were being added to the churches.  There was to come, however, what has been referred to often as ‘The horrid blast from the north’, which decimated the denomination in the 1760s’.

The trouble seemed to be inflamed by a certain jealousy on the part of James Allen towards the leader, Benjamin Ingham.  It arose initially on matters connected with church order but the doctrinal basis was then threatened.

As has already been noted, Ingham did not possess organizational skills.  There was little definite church order, although discipline was strict.  Candidates for membership had to relate their experience, and some were rejected, or deferred.  The movement had been held together by only a few itinerant preachers in relation to the size of the gatherings.  It is thought that Ingham intended to organize the churches, with elders, preachers and teachers over each of them, but there was a lack of suitable candidates for these ministries.  It was therefore decided to continue with the itinerant system for a little longer. 

Ingham’s position as General Overseer was in jeopardy and James Allen (ordained by Ingham in 1756) was increasing in influence.  He was a powerful preacher, much loved, and of exemplary conduct.

In the meantime, Ingham had read John Glas’s ‘The Testimony of the King of Martyrs concerning His Kingdom, John 8:36-37, explained and illustrated in Scripture Light (1727) and Robert Sandeman’s ‘Letters on Theron and Aspasio’ (1757).  He was so impressed by these works that he sent two of his preachers to Scotland, James Allen and William Batty, to meet Sandeman in Edinburgh and Glas in Dundee.

John Glas had ministered at Tealing, in County Angus, but had been expelled as a Church of Scotland minister for his views on the Church-State connection.  He had then set up his own denomination of ‘Glasites’, in which there were a number of churches, which he believed were a return to primitive Christianity.  His son-in-law, Robert Sandeman, was an elder in one of these churches. 

The Glasites or Sandemanians as they are sometimes called are now extinct as a body; their last church, in Edinburgh’s Barony Place, closed in around 1990.  The building is listed and therefore preserved.  I attended worship here in 1989, with the congregation of five.  The only male present read five portions of Scripture - no sermon being permitted due to the lack of an eldership - and singing was unaccompanied.  I was allowed to examine the upper room, where the lovefeast was formerly held - the table set out and the vestry, bed and toilet for the visiting elder to use - but all never to be used again.

The chief practices of the Glasites were, amongst others, the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, the lovefeast which all must attend, the kiss of charity, abstinence from blood and things strangled, washing each other’s feet, the plurality of elders in each church, and the presence of two elders at the Lord’s Supper or any act of discipline.  The elders were ordained by fasting, prayer and laying on of hands.  A second marriage disqualified an elder.  Unanimity in church matters was essential, and they separated themselves from all bodies who did not appear to them to profess this ground of their hope.

Ingham never did actually meet Glas or Sandeman, but sent his envoys to ascertain details of this Scottish sect, after having read their works.  These works had been precipitated by the writing of an Anglican clergyman, James Hervey, on the subject of justification by faith.

Allen and Batty returned to England thoroughly converted to the theology and discipline of the Sandemanians.  Tyerman says that, at this point, ‘warm debates took place in Ingham’s societies respecting the nature of a true church, and respecting their former views of religious experience’.  (31)

As well as the debate on church government, there was also a doctrinal issue involved.  The Sandemanians believed that mental assent to the doctrines of the Gospel was sufficient to possess saving faith; a man need claim only that he was willing to be led by the Scripture.  The place of conviction of sin was therefore not found.

Lloyd-Jones says: ‘John Glas is undoubtedly the father of Independency as far as Scotland is concerned.  He was not only a Calvinist, but a very High Calvinist’.   (32)

It is somewhat puzzling to note that Sandemanianism can co-exist with either Calvinistic or Arminian theology.  It is more puzzling to ponder how it was that Glas moved to his view of saving faith, considering the experimental views he clearly has in some of his hymns.  The Glasite hymnbook bears some testimony to this.  Consider:

‘Where is this Rock of matchless worth

Where tott’ring feet may stand?

‘Tis not in distant regions plac’d

But in Immanuel’s land.


The Lord conducts His lame and blind

And leads them by His hand

there’s ne’er a wand’ring straggler lost

Of all His helpless band’



The Sandemanian teaching provoked a reaction from Andrew Fuller, who dealt with it in an Appendix to his book ‘The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation’.  It is a teaching that has been present through the years and has influenced much of the Gospel preaching between then and now, especially in the view of Gospel preaching propounded by Charles G Finney and many of the revivalists who followed him.. 

Lloyd-Jones says: ‘Those holding Sandemanian views are always opposed to warm, emotional preaching, and any preaching which would have the effect of bringing people to a feeling, and a sensible knowledge, of the fact that they were sinners, and the terrors of the Law, and that they were to face a holy God, and that they would have to be holy before they could face Him.  So it has this great influence at once upon evangelism and preaching’.  (34)

Ingham had always contended for an experimental religion and was thus in line with Cennick, Whitefield, Romaine, etc.  Sandeman did not appreciate heart religion, but emphasized that he magnified the atonement thereby.

Attempts were made to reconcile the differences between Allen and Ingham over these matters.  The Countess of Huntingdon wrote several letters, Romaine paid a personal visit, Whitefield prayed and wept, but to no avail.  Disputes followed, with many excommunications and soon the societies over which Ingham had so closely watched were all but wrecked.  Of the ninety societies, only 13 remained loyal to Ingham.

James Allen severed his connection with the Inghamites, after a meeting at Thinoaks in 1761.  He took his own church at Gayle, together with Kirkby Stephen, Kirkby Lonsdale and a few others into full Glasite order and he adopted the Sandemanian view of faith. 

Allen later wrote his ‘A Treatise on Redemption in Four Parts’, last published in Edinburgh by Robert Forrest in 1927.

These places of worship did not continue as long as the remaining Inghamite ones, and Allen died in 1804 without allegiance to any denomination or sect.

Thompson comments that Allen’s journal is no longer available.  Had it been ‘handed down to posterity’ it would have been most enlightening (but) ‘he left it in his will to his third child, Oswald, exhorting him that after reading the journal he destroyed it as “it was fit for no one’s personal use’.  (35)


Ingham’s memorial:              

We might well wonder what happened to Ingham’s once flourishing group of societies, after this ‘horrid blast from the north’.

Many of the people who gathered were undoubtedly scattered throughout a variety of denominations.  Some remained for a while with Allen in his Sandemanian causes, but the post-1762 Inghamites continued, albeit in a much reduced condition. 

It is thought that these churches would have been characterized generally by High Calvinism of an experimental nature.  Ingham himself was never swayed by Sandemanianism, although the Inghamites as a whole never publicly renounced it.  Many of the societies adopted a quasi-Glasite form of church order.  Ingham continued to oppose Wesleyan perfectionst teaching.

Sadly, the last days of Ingham were marked by a dark cloud over him.  He never fully recovered from the collapse of his denomination, although he continued as elder at Tadcaster.  The events of recent years left him with a feeble mind and he was liable to sudden transitions from high spirits to the utmost depression, suffering from sudden attacks of melancholy.  Lady Huntingdon wrote several letters to him and these were blessed to his soul, helping him to accept his calamities as in the purposes of God. 

In 1768 Lady Margaret Ingham died, and this was a severe blow to him.  She had died with great serenity, aged 67.  ‘On her coffin were inscribed the words “Christ’s precious blood and righteousness, Her clothing were, her wedding dress”.  (36)

Benjamin Ingham survived Lady Margaret by four years and, on 8th December 1772, his death was announced in the Leeds Intelligencer:

‘On Wednesday last died, at his house at Aberford, Rev. Mr Ingham, a learned and excellent Christian’.

In 1813, there was a union with the Old Scots Independents, a sect with remarkably similar views to the Inghamites.  they were called ‘Old’ in order to distinguish them from the newer body of Independents or Congregationalists formed by the Haldane brothers.

The union came about largely through the efforts of a John Pearson, who was a respected member of the Kendal Inghamite Chapel.  The Kendal Chapel, up until its closure, had on its notice board the inscription ‘Old Scots Independent or Inghamite Chapel’, although many of the former Inghamite places of worship continued to simply use that appellation.

From 1890 onwards, the chapels became largely influenced by modernism and Arminianism and no longer possessed any real distinctives.  A number of interesting circular letters are preserved which were sent around the chapels, between the 1813 union and 1890, and these at least show a spiritual concern and a scriptural basis of faith.

At the time of union, there were 13 chapels remaining.  These were found at Kendal, Nottingham, Bulwell, Tadcaster, Howden, Leeds, Wibsey, Todmorden, Salterforth, Rodhill, Winewall, Wheatley, and Haslingden. 

Wheatley and Winewall were the strongest in terms of membership, having 56 and 41 members respectively.  By 1873, it was reported that there were only seven remaining chapels, at Kendal, Salterforth, Winewall, Wheatley, Todmorden, Tadcaster, and Leeds.  I am told that, in the 1950s’ there were also seven chapels remaining, at Wheatley, Salterforth, Winewall, Kendal, Nelson, Colne and Cottontree Lane.  This last named chapel is possibly the last to have fully embraced the old Inghamite order and the pre-1762 experimentalism.

In 1997, there were only three remaining, namely Wheatley Lane, Salterforth and Winewall.  The last two named have since closed.  Salterforth was a new chapel only erected in 1933  and the minister for over half a century died in 1995.  Only Wheatley Lane remains, proclaiming on its board that it is an Inghamite Chapel.

Pickles poignantly says: ‘By 1814 when the Historical Sketches of the rise of the Scots Old Independent and Inghamite Churches was published, marking the union of the two bodies the previous year, it is very evident, nor is it surprising, that Sandemanian influence had reduced the denomination to a cold, formal, unexercised profession of Calvinistic doctrine very different to its former lively, experimental character.  Another hymnbook, more consistent with the changed views, had ousted the Kendal.  This, with various additions made from time to time has continued in use to the present day’.  (37) 


Concluding assessments:

Without doubt, Benjamin Ingham was a remarkable man, called of God and equipped for the task.  He was greatly used of God in the establishment of a large number of societies where the power of God was frequently manifested, to the changing of the lives of many individuals.

What can we say of its lasting effect?  As has been noted, Ingham’s work and that of his preachers did lay foundations for later Particular Baptist work in North Westmorland and in the Furness area of Lancashire.  Probably the largest influence is found in the blossoming Methodist Societies in rural Westmorland and many of these continue to this day.  Following the ‘horrid blast from the north’, many of Ingham’s followers simply returned to the Methodist societies which at one time had been closely connected with him.

Ingham bore witness to an experimental understanding of saving faith, and the Inghamite gatherings knew something of the power of God in their souls.  There has often been a strand of this teaching in the Church down through the centuries.  We might even wonder if any of the Inghamite influence was felt 70 years later, when J C Philpot separated from the Church of England, contending for a religion of an experimental character?

We might well learn from Ingham’s mistakes.  Perhaps he was too trusting in the authority he gave to his preachers, such as Allen and Batty, in their visit to Scotland.  Ingham’s lack of expertise in the field of organization was made up for by Wesley, and no doubt this helped to integrate the Inghamite members after the split. 

It is a lesson for all churches to be very careful not to be taken up with every wind of doctrine but to ‘try the spirits’ more often.  Church government must be based on the Scriptures, but the form of godliness evident among the Sandemanians, without the power, should have been shunned.

We shall let Romaine have the last word:  ‘If ever there was a church of Christ upon earth, that was one.  I paid them a visit and had a great mind to join them.  There was a blessed work of God among that people, till that horrid blast from the North came upon them and destroyed all’.



1 Pickles, H M.  Benjamin Ingham; Preacher amongst the Dales, Forests and Fells.  An overview of his life and connections.  Coventry, H M Pickles.  1995. p18

2 Dictionary of National Biography.

3. Lewis, Donald M editor.Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical Theology.  1730-1860.  Volume 1 A-J. 

4. Heitzenrater, Richard P.  Diary of an Oxford Methodist; Benjamin Ingham 1733-34. 

             Durham, Duke University Press.  1985 p161

5. ibid p161

6. ibid p165-7

7. Tyerman, Rev L.  The Oxford Methodists.  Memoirs of the Rev. Messrs Clayton,               Ingham, Gambold, Hervey and Broughton, with biographical notices of others.  London, \Hodder and Stoughton.  P85

8. ibid p86

9. ibid p86

10. John Wesley’s Works volume 1 p16

11. Tyerman op cit p90

12. ibid p97

13. Batty, William.  Church History.  (In Rylands Library, Manchester). P36

14. ibid p5

15. Pickles op cit p28

16. ibid p31

17. ibid p32

18. Batty  op cit p15

19. ibid p2

20. Sell, Alan P F.  Church Planting; a study of Westmorland Nonconformity.  H E Walter, Worthing.  1986.  p48

21. Pickles op cit p60

22. Sell op cit p49

23. Pickles op cit p22

24. ibid p22

25. Sell op cit p52

26. Thompson, Richard W.  Benjamin Ingham and the Inghamites.  R W Thompson, Kendal, 1958.  p52-3

27. Batty op cit p16

28. Neill, Robert.  The Mills of Colne.  Doubleday & Sons, Garden City, New York.  1959

29. Gadsby’s Hymns.  Gospel Standard Trust Publications, Harpenden, 1990.

30. Pickles, H M.  A Historical sketch of the Inghamites..H M Pickles, Coventry.  nd

31. Tyerman op cit p145

32. Lloyd-Jones D Martyn.  The Puritans; their origins and successors.  Addresses delivered at the Puritan and Westminster Conference 1959-78.  Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh.  1987 p171

33. Christian Songs in two parts.  Song XXXIII.  Morison and Duncan, Perth 1872.

34. Lloyd-Jones op cit p185-6

35. Thompson op cit p89

36. Pickles op cit p122

37. Pickles op cit p21


Also consulted:

Circular correspondence between the churches commonly known by the name of the Old Scots Independents or Inghamites scattered throughout England, Scotland and America.  Kendal,Thompson Brothers.  1856

Bingham, Roger.  Kendal; a Social History.  Milnthorpe, Cicerone
Press.  1995

Burgess, John.  A History of Cumbrian Methodism.  Kendal, Titus Wilson.  1980

Oates, P J.  My Ancestors were Inghamites.  London, Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd.  2003

Heitzenrater, Richard P.  Wesley and the People called Methodists.  Nashville, Abingdon Press 1995

Hylson-Smith, Kenneth.  The Churches in England from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II.  Volume II 1689 – 1833.  London, SCM Press.  1997.

Kevin M Price also visited the Inghamite Chapels at Birks, Salterforth, Wheatley Lane and Winewall and the former Kendal Chapel.

He conducted interviews with a former member of the Inghamite denomination, and a present member.  Also attended the Sandemanian Chapel in Edinburgh. 

He is most grateful for the help given by the late Mr Malcolm Pickles of Coventry.