Derbyshire, England

Timothy Staniforth's mark from his will.

Non-Conformism in England was on the rise during the 17th Century, and it should come as no surprise to hear the Staniforth family had their share of notable Non-Conformists that chose to turn away from the Church of England.

The most notable of these rebellious bunch of Staniforth’s is perhaps brothers Jonathan and Timothy Staniforth. They were the son of Richard, who is described as being an ‘ancient godly Minister’ in various publications, including writings by Joseph Hunter.

Richard himself appears to have been quite a character, he is cited during episcopal visitation in 1609 for ‘not wearing a surplice’ but was dismissed. During the same period in 1614, he is cited for not saying weekday prayers, for not baptizing with the sign of the cross and for not observing the form of service contained in the Book of Common Prayer.

On the 8th of October 1614 a list of articles states that he had refused women to enter the church and had allowed the building to fall into decay. He is quoted as saying ‘It is well-known to the parishioners of Breadsall that he hath not at all times neglected to wear the surplice’ and that ‘according to the ability of his discretion he hath administered the sacraments according to God’s word’. He also claimed that only a cottage that belonged to the rectory had fallen to decay.

Shortly after Abbot’s metro political visitation, he was excommunicated. The date for his excommunication is recorded as being 27th November 1616. During the episcopal visitation of 1620 he is once again cited for not wearing a surplice, for not signing with the cross during baptism and for allowing the chancel to fall into decay.

He is then suspended for contumacy on the 15th December 1620 and 7th April 1621, but on the 20th June 1621 he was absolved in the consistory court, as it was heard that his case had gone before the Court of High Commission.

There is one final court record that shows him appearing at the court of Eccleshall before the bishop however his offence is not noted.

We know that Richard was vicar of Owston, Yorkshire from 1598-1604 and that he married twice, with his first wife being buried at Breadsall on the 19th March 1617, he then married Elizabeth Dickinson on the 14th January 1623, and it is by this wife that he has Jonathan and Timothy. Jonathan would go onto become curate of Hognaston and Allestree, and timothy the curate of Allestree.

St. Edmunds Church, Allestree

Jonathan Staniforth was baptised at Breadsall on the 10th June 1625, and Timothy 8th Feb 1628. Other brothers include Daniel baptised 19th March 1616, Joseph 30th April 1615, Nathaniel 31st May 1612, Samuel 16th December 1610 and Josiah 12th June 1608. They also had two sisters, Sarah baptised 24th September 1609, and Elizabeth on the 4th March 1626.

Jonathan was educated first at Derby School, he was then administered at Christ’s College. When referencing the Cambridge University database, we see Jonathan Staniforth was administered aged 18 on the 19th September 1645, from Magdalene College. He earned B.A in 1649, M.A 1653 and it is noted he was the son of Richard, brother of Timothy and Preacher in Derbyshire. It also notes in the database that he was ejected in 1662. It is also recorded in other sources he was rector of Pontesbury, Shropshire for a period In1655. On 8th October 1653 he applied for ordination from the Wirksworth Classis as assistant.

Timothy was also educated at Derby School and administered at Christ College in 1648. Again in reference to the Cambridge University database, he was administered age 19 on the 28th April 1648, earned B.A in 1651 and is noted as being Vicar of Allestree, Derbyshire and being ejected the same year as his brother, 1662. He was also a teacher in 1669, at Colonel Saunder’s Conventicle at Little Treton and at Joseph Newham’s conventicle at Alvaston. He was arrested on the 7th July 1669 along with Daniel Shelmerdine at John Stone’s Conventicle in Stenson. He was teaching at Chaddesden in 1672 and finally his will is dated 22th October 1684. In his will he is living in Pentrich.

We also find mention of Jonathan and Timothy in the will of Jonathan Staniforth of Firbeck Hall in 1679. In his will he leaves a sum to be paid annually on the 24th of August for ten years, and amongst the listed men are Jonathan and Timothy Staniforth who he describes as ‘my kinsmen’

Jonathan was the son of William Staniforth and Isabel Hatfield from Rotherham, and had a number of notable sons including Disney Staniforth and Nicholas Staniforth, however it is unclear as to how he relates to Timothy and Jonathan.

There is references that state both Jonathan and Timothy died within a short time of each other, in the homes of an ‘obscure family’. Richard, their father died in 1630, in his will he mentions his son Timothy, a brother Laurence and his wife, it is unclear exactly where Richard and Laurence originated, however research is ongoing. There is a record showing a Laurence Staniforth being buried at Derby on 17 Oct 1644, this could well be his brother.