The Statute 3 James I. c. 4, enacted that "if any subject of this Realme shall not resort every Sunday to some Church, &c, and there heare Divine Service," a Justice of the Peace could give warrant to the Churchwardens to levy "12d. for everie such Default by Distresse and Sale of the goods of everie such offender."

In 1615, it was proved that John Molyneux, Christopher Lee and William Cawthorne, all of Fledborough, and "the wifes of each of them nor any of them has gone to their parish church nor to any other Church Chapel or usual place of common prayer for the space of a month last past." A warrant was accordingly directed to the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor to distrain from each of them 8/-, i.e., 16/- from each married couple. At the next Sessions further Warrants were issued against all the three defendants and their wives for resisting the distress warrant above mentioned "by walking about with fowling pieces and other dangerous "arms so that no execution could be made thereof."

As there is no further entry in regard to the case, it may be assumed the money was ultimately paid.

In 1614, a warrant was issued against Edward Matthewes of Broadholme, gentleman, "for ordering his servants and tenants not to come to church."

Warrants were also issued against three men of Broadholme "for not repairing and coming to church."


In 1607, there were two Indictments for the offence "because his infant was not baptised" against Andrew Reynes of Darnthorpe, gentleman, and John Brown of North Marton.

On 11th July, 1611, Richard Barnard of Worksop, clerk, was indicted "for refusing to use reverence in administering baptism."

On 13th January, 1618-1619,Thomas Sowthorn of North Collingham, and George Bowre of South Collingham were indicted "for not receiving the Supper of the Lord and for not baptising a child according to the ordinances of the Church."


There were many Indictments or presentments: "that they refused to accept Sacrament"; "For refusing to go to Church and receive the Sacrament"; "For not taking Sacrament"; "For not accepting the Lord's Sacrament"; "For not receiving the Supper of the Lord"; "For not taking the Lord's Supper"; "For not receiving the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper"; "For not receiving ye Sacrament," &c, &c.

On 28th April, 1616, Lady Ann Markham, wife of Gervas Sanford of Arnold, gentleman, was presented "for not receiving communion at Feast of Easter last."

In 1653 (during the Commonwealth), Mr. Carborne of Kirton, clerk, was presented "for not administering ye Sacrament for a yeare."

On 3rd October, 1660, Henry ffeatley of Thorpe, clerk, was presented "for refusing to administer the Sacrament."


In the Sessions Rolls that have been preserved there are a few Certificates that persons named therein "upon the Lord's day comonly called Sunday," "immediately after divine service and sermon, did, in the parish Church, receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the usage of the Church of England." For instance:

William Wintringham, Minister of the Parish and Parish Church of East Retford, and John Cresswell, Churchwarden, certify that Wm. Nichols of East Retford received the Lords Supper on the 1st October, 1693.

Charles Freeman, Vicar of Lowdham, and Thomas Martin, Churchwarden, certify that Joseph Hawkins, Clerke, Vicar of Burton Joyce, received the Lords Supper in the Parish Church of Boulcoat on the 30th December, 1694.

Anthony Willson, Minister of the Parish Church of Everton, and two Churchwardens, certify that William Gylby of Everton received the Lords Supper on 10th July, 1698.

Appended to each Certificate is the evidence on oath of Witnesses who know the person named in the Certificate and did see him receive the Sacrament of the Lords Supper as certified and expressed.

A facsimile of one of these Certificates is shown below.

Facsimile of sacrament certificate.
Facsimile of sacrament certificate.


The following Indictments or presentments are recorded in the reigns of James I. and Charles I.:

On 15th July, 1618, George Burton of Sutton sup Lound, clerk, for "non-conformity in a Church." On 4th October, 1620, Bryan Barton of South Collingham, clerk, because he "did not use the book of common prayer."

On 11th April, 1621, Robert Hargreave of Marnham, clerk, "for nonconformity in Church."

On 10th July, 1622, Bryan Barton of South Collingham, was fined 10/- "for nonconformity in Church."

On 15th April, 1630, Humphrey Reynolds of Cropwell Bishop "for omitting prayers."

On 18th April, 1642, Robert Wallis of Sutton in Ashfield, clerk, " for refusing to read the book of Common prayer."

Unfortunately, after the Restoration in 1660, the records of Sessions were only kept for a short time; but during that period the names of the following clergymen appear as being presented "for not reading the Book of Common Prayer":

Henry ffeatley of Thorpe,
John Turner of Hawton,
John Jackson of Bleasby,
—  Ogle of North Collingham,
John Elliott of Calverton,
Joseph Trueman of Cromwell,
Thos. Rainbow of Truswell,
John Cromwell of Claworth,
Walter Barnett of Worksop,
— Rocke of Saundby,
Wm. Aspenwell of Mattersey,
Charles Fisher of Blyth.

It may be assumed that in 1661 and 1662 there were a large number of similar presentments.

In 1660, Gervase Reynes, a Juror, was fined 5/- for not presenting John Cromwell, clerk, Rector of the Church at Claworth, for not reading the book of common prayer;

And in the same year, a mercer of Bingham was indicted for disfiguring the book of common prayer.


Prior to the Civil War there were presentments: "For absence from Church, being sectary"; "For a Sectary refusing," &c, &c. A list of persons presented will be found in Appendix D (at page 162).

On 7th July, 1619, Charles Ridge of North Collingham, and George Bower of South Collingham, were sent for trial to the Assizes "for not accepting Sacrament, for not baptising a boy, and for having schismatic opinions."

On 12th January, 1634-1635, William Sore of Willoughby on the Wolds, was sent for trial at the Assizes "for obstinately refusing to go to his Parish Church, he being a Sectary."

On the 12th October, 1617, a man and his wife of Babworth, were presented "for Brownists," i.e., for being followers of Robert Brown, who lived in the sixteenth century and became one of the founders of modern Congregationalists.


The Conventicle Act of 1664 prohibited the assembly of more than five persons beyond the family living in one house in any place (other than a church of the Church of England) for religious purposes, not in accordance with the prayer book. The punishment for the first offence was a fine of £5 or three months imprisonment; for a second £10 or six months imprisonment; and for the third £100 or transportation for seven years.

A subsequent Act enabled every Justice to inflict penalties, which were divided into three parts—one-third to be paid to the King through the Court of Quarter Sessions, one-third to the poor of the Parish in which the offence was committed, and one-third to the person who had been diligent in the discovery, dispersing and punishing of the said conventicles.

The following entries appear in the records:

On 10th Jan., 1675-1676.
per Robt. Thoroton
{ Payd into ye Court for a conventicle of Rowland
{ Daubney of Cropwell Bishop ye 5th Sept., 1675.
for Rouland Daubney 0 6 8
for Jas. Coates & Joseph Walker 0 5 10
0 14 2 for ye wife of John Jackson 0 1 8
for Rouland Daubney 0 6 8 26 Septembris, 1675
for Edw Richardson 0 12 2
for Edw Richardson 0 6 8
for ffran Flowr 0 1 8
ye wife of John Jackson 0 3 4
for Will Maultby 0 5 0
1 18 10 for Joseph Watson 0 3 4
for ffran fflower 0 3 4 17 Octobris 1675
0 15 0 for John Jackson 0 1 8
for Will Reves 0 13 4 30 Octobris 1675
0 13 4 for Sam Brett 1 0 0
for George Peak 0 16 8 3 Novembris 1675
for Hen Halker 0 16 8
ffor Eliz Cunningham 1 10 0
for Mary Swanison 0 6 8
for Geo. P. Law & Thos. Wood 0 3 4
for George Peak 0 16 8
5 6 8 for Hen Halker 0 16 8

On 3rd April, 1676. Per Robt. Thoroton. Payd into ye Court for a Conventicle at Girton at ye house of Will Wilfour. [Here follows a list of payments.] 

On 2nd October, 1676. Payments made in respect of Conventicles at Hucknall Huthwaite, Oxton, Sutton in Ashfield and Eakring.

On 10th January, 1676-1677. Per Robt. Thoroton. Payments made in respect of Conventicles at Mansfield, Blyth, Sutton in Ashfield, Gringley Parva, Morney and Hucknall Huthwaite.

On 10th July, 1678. Monies paid by Robt. Thoroton, Justice of the Peace, by order of ye Sessions at Nott ye sum of £214 5 for Conventicles at Blyth and Rempstone levyd upon George Graves and others named.

On 21st April, 1680. Thos. Paggett of Balderton for keeping the Conventicles in his house.

On 12th July, 1680. Wm. Riches of Codgrave for keeping a Conventicle in his house on xxxi May, 1668.

On 2nd October, 1682. For a Conventicle at Adboulton paid to ye Sheriffe £4 fine.

On 10th January, 1682-1683. Payments for a Conventicle at Girton.

On 16th April, 1683. Paid to the Sheriffe for a Conventicle at Rempstone on the 24 Dec. 1682, £3 9 10 being the third part for the King.

On 1st October, 1683. Paid to Sheriff for a Conventicle at Adboulton.

On 27th April, 1685. £6 11 8 paid into Court to ye Sheriff by Justice Charlton for a Conventicle at Adboulton.

On 10th January, 1686-1687. Richard Stringer fined 5/- for her first offence for the default of his wife and Moses his son being present at a Conventicle.

On 4th April, 1687. Sir Tho Parkyns Bart paid this day £2 2 10 upon a conventicle held at Normanton on Soar.

The Toleration Act (1 William and Mary, c. 18) 1689, relieved all persons dissenting from the Church of England (except such as denied the Trinity) from such of the Acts against nonconformity as prevented their assembling for religious worship according to their own forms, or otherwise restrained their religious liberty—on condition, however, of their taking the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, and subscribing a declaration against transubstantiation, and (in case of dissenting ministers) subscribing also to certain of the Thirty-nine Articles.

No congregation was to be allowed under the provisions of the Act unless the place of their' meeting had been certified to and registered with the bishop or archdeacon, or at the Court of Quarter Sessions. The doors of the meeting houses were not to be locked, barred or bolted.

The following is a list of applicants, and of the houses, registered with Quarter Sessions in the years 1689 to 1698.

Parish or Place  –     –     –      Meeting at House of  
Ascombe  –     –     –  Jos. Turner
Barnby  –     –     –  John Kid
Basford  –     –     –  Olliver Cromwell
Bulwell  –     –     –  Wm. Medley
Calverton  –     –     –  Sam Wilkinson
Carburton  –     –     –  Richard Taylor of Wallingwells Esqre
Collingham  –     –     –  Robert Clarke
Collingham  –     –     –  Matthew Shepparson
Eakring  –     –     –  Edwd. Wood
East Leake  –     –     –  Richard Page
East Leake  –     –     –  Andrew Sheffield
Epperstone  –     –     –  Richd. Rowe
Everton  –     –     –  John Camselles
Flintham  –     –     –  Wm. Bradley
Goatham  –     –     –  Edwd Kirby
Gotham  –     –     –  Peter Hemsley } Presbyterian
Meeting House
Gotham  –     –     –  John Kitt }
Greasthorpe  –     –     –  Jane Smith
Great Markham  –     –     –  Joseph Rogers
Horringham  –     –     –  Robert Stocks
Hucknall in ye parish of Sutton  –     –     –  John Langford
Kilton  –     –     –  John Button
Kirsall  –     –     –  Solomon Johnson
Kneesall  –     –     –  John Machin
Laneham  –     –     –  Wm. Bartrupp
Langwith  –     –     –  John Fox
Leake  –      –     –       Andrew Sheffield { for a Presbiterian
Meeting House
Lowdham  –     –     –  Jane Bush, widow
Maplebeck  –     –     –  John Caunt
Marnham  –     –     –  John Deane
Newark  –     –     –  Samuel Spraggon
Normanton  –     –     –  Thomas Seywell
Normanton  –     –     –  Henry Hather
Normanton  –     –     –  James Duke
North Clifton  –     –     –  John Thorpe
North Collingham  –     –     –  Matthew Shepparson, carpenter
Oxton  –     –     –  John Oldham
Rempstone  –     –     –  Wm. Southernwood
Scaftworth  –     –     –  Robert Spavolds
Skegby  –     –     –  Wm. Mosson
Sturton  –     –     –  John Atkinson
Sutton  –     –     –  John Russell
Sutton Bonington  –     –     –  Wm. Sheppard
Sutton in Ashfield  –     –     –  Richd. Brandeth
Sutton in Ashfield  –     –     –  Mary Howitt
Walkeringham  –     –     –  Robert Williamson    
Wallinwells  –     –     –  Richd. Taylor, Esqre    
West Retford  –     –     –  Matthew Nicholson    
West Retford  –     –     –  Richard Somersall    
Widmerpoole  –     –     –  Henry Junson
Willoughby  –     –     –  Wm. Bosworth
Willoughby  –     –     –  George Cam


There are a large number of names of Dissenters who either took the Oaths of Supremacy and Abjuration or subscribed the Declaration after the commencement of the reign of William III. and Mary.

On the 8th April, 1690, a list of nearly 200 of these names appears.


The only entry in the records of the prosecution of Quakers is the following:

On 12th July, 1676, Thos. Eastwood, Roger Noble and John Machin, comitted to ye Gaole as Quakers.

The Toleration Act 1689 allowed Quakers to affirm instead of taking the Oath, and the following made the Statutory Declaration accordingly:

Arnold.—John Shortivant and Henry Wright

Balderton.—Thos. Harvey.

Barneby.—John Smith and John Pidd.

Besthorpe.—Robert Shaw.

Blyth.—John Wilson.

Bunney.—Tho. Hall.

Calverton.—Will Surgy.

Carlton.—John Hilton.

Caunton.—Thos. Howorth and John Surgy.

Clarborough.—Wm. Hudson of Moregate.

Cotgrave.—John English.

Cropwell Bishop.—Tho. Howit, Willm. Hankinson, Robt. Kirkman, and Edm. Kirkman.

Eastwood.—Elis England, Willm. Day, Jos. Potter, Lawr. Mee and Thorn. Mee.

Epperstone.—Richd. Rod and Steph. Dung. Flintham.—John Weightman.

Graysley [Greasley].—Adrian Dawes, John Dawes and Tho. Wright.

Gresthorpe.—Jos. Smith.

Gunnalstone.—Edwd. Howit.

Gunthorpe.—Wm. Kirke.

Knapthorpe.—John Ellemby and Richd. Burket.

Kneesall.—John Machin.

Lenton.—John Walker.

Maplebeck.—John Cam, Willm. Mosland, Roger Noble, Sol. Johnson and Thos. Ashwood.

Mattershaw [Mattersey].—Thos. Farnesworth.

North Collingham.—Robt. Carnell.

North Muskham.—Edwd. Lilley and Wm. Cropper of Basley [Bathley].

Norton Cuckney.—Wm. Hurst of Bonbuck.

Owthorpe.—Joseph Watson.

Oxton.—Wm. Scotherne, John Oldham, Fra. Scotherne and Thos. Lam.

Rempstone.—Will Southernwood and John Woodruffe.

Ruddington.—James Hand, John Locker, Matth. Soarsby, John Flinders, John Ottiwell, Edw. Taylor, John Rawson and Richd. Cripple.

Shelford.—Robt. Johnson, Tho. Burden and Charles German.

South Collingham.—Stephen Swinscoe.

South Leverton.—Thom. Sampson. Sutton on Trent.—Hugh Heale and Richd. Lacey.

Trowell.—John Martyn. Wellam.—John Richardson.

West Bridgford.—Geo. Garton and Saml. Garton.

Widmerpoole.—Peter Smith.

It will be noticed that many of these names appear in the list of those presented for absence from Church in the reigns of Charles II. and James II.

The following were registered as Quakers meeting houses:

Blyth.—At the house of Francis Cressey of Norney.

Clarborough.—At the house of Wm. Hudson of Moregate.

Everton.—At the houses of John Camsalls and Gervas Lamberts.

Laneham.—At the house of Gervas Harrison.

Mattershaw [Mattersey].—At the house of Thos. Farnesworth.

Scaftworth.—At the house of Robt. Spavolds.

South Leverton.—At the house of Thos. Sampson.

Wellam.—At the house of John Richardson.