Yewdall family

The Yewdall family of Eccleshill, Bradford, was of Quaker descent, although a tradition that they were originally Huguenot is now taken to be erroneous.

The first of the family to become Methodists were Thomas Yewdall and his brother, Zechariah, who were mainly responsible for opening a chapel in Lands Lane, Eccleshill, in 1775/6 (now in secular use, having been replaced by one in Stoney Lane 1854-6, now Ukranian Orthodox). As at Birstall and Dewsbury, this bcame the centre of a dispute over the right to appoint preachers.

Zechariah Yewdall (1751-1830; e.m. 1779), was baptized by John Wesley despite his Quaker parentage, and joined the Methodist society in 1771. Becoming an itinerant in 1779, he travelled for 32 years. He was one of Wesley’s regular correspondents in the 1780s and was among the preachers named in the Deed of Declaration. He retired from the active work in 1811 and died on 3 February 1830.

The Yewdalls have a large number of descendants, some of whom seceded to the Wesleyan Protestant Methodists. David Yewdall (12 June1808 - 11 December 1874), a nephew of Zechariah, was one of the main supporters of the Victoria Road WMA (later UMFC), church, Eccleshill, opened in 1838. Being Calverley scribbling and fulling millers, this branch of the family were wealthy clothiers. David lived at ‘The Grange’, Rodley, and was elected as a Liberal councillor for the Bramley Ward, Leeds in 1857 and by 1868 was an alderman, continuing until his death. As he was the main source of financial support for the chapel, the society struggled financially after his death. The family also gave financial support to the now closed Rodley UMFC, opened in 1887. David Yewdall married Maria Cliff (b. 16 July 1808; d. 5 February 1883). The Wesleyan Cliff family of Wortley, Leeds, lived at Western Flatts, later Cliff House, built c.1843 and owned a brick and sanitary tube works in Wortley, later owned by the Leeds Fireclay. Their son was John Cliff Yewdall (d.16 April 1878, aet.35), who lived at ‘Oatlands’ and stood unsuccessfully as a Liberal for the Bramley Ward, Leeds, in 1871, but was elected at a by-election later that year. There was formerly a memorial to these Yewdalls in the Eccleshill UMFC chapel.

The Yewdalls’ successful cloth business centred on Calverley Bridge Mills, reputedly with 600 employees in 1861, and also at Waterloo Mills, Bramley. Subsequently the business went spectacularly bankrupt.

John Yewdall (1797-1848), David Yewdall’s brother, was originally a Leeds WM Local Preacher from 1819, and played a leading role in the Protestant Methodist secession in the town. In 1840 he became a trustee of the Park and Lady Lane chapels and from 1842 to 1844 served on the WMA Connexional Committee. A Kirkgate grocer, he originally came to Leeds to serve an apprenticeship with John Simpson, a grocer and future Brunswick trustee. Like the older James Sigston, he was a radical in politics and was active in the Vestry, campaigning against church rates, was elected a Poor Law Guardian in 1843 and from 1843 to 1846 was a Liberal councillor for the normally Tory and notoriously corrupt Kirkgate Ward, generally opposing council expenditure; he was not re-elected in 1846.

It has been suggested that the family’s Quaker background took them towards Dissent rather than making them main-stream WM. Another member of the family was a Primitive Methodist.

Sources
  • M. Johnson, ‘Mr. John Yewdall of Leeds’, in Wesleyan Methodist Association Magazine (1849) pp109ff
  • F. & S.A. Wilson, Souvenir Booklet, Victoria Road Methodist Church, Eccleshill, 1838-1938
  • David Eastwood The Yewdalls of Eccleshill and Calverley (privately printed c 1990)