1850 – 1871 Rev John Thornton

Rev John Thornton

The founder of Wycliffe Congregational Church, along with his brother-in-law John Hampson. Born on 4th June 1805 in Billericay, Essex, he was the son of a Congregational Minister and began work as Minister of Bethel Chapel in Darlington. From here he moved to the Tabernacle on Hillgate in Stockport in 1840. Following a disagreement, he left with a large portion of the congregation to found Wycliffe.

Whilst in Stockport, he and his wife Catherine lived on Greek Street and then Jessamine Cottage in Edgeley, which he extended and renamed Wycliffe Villa.

He retired from Wycliffe Chapel on January 1st, 1871. You can read more about his life here.

1871 – 1873 Rev James Lee, M.A.

Rev James Lee joined Wycliffe aged 48 at the end of 1871 and lived at 7, Hawthorn Grove, Heaton Moor. Born in 1823 in Newmarket, Cambridgeshire, where his father was minister, he had been minister of five other chapels before Wycliffe, the last being Broughton in Salford.

He had a large young family, including son William Corney, aged 16 when they arrived. William married Margaret Bower Corbishley from Heaton Norris in 1886, probably having first met during the family’s time at Wycliffe. William returned to Wycliffe following his retirement – see entry further down the list.

James Lee only remained at Wycliffe for a short time, resigning at the beginning of 1873 when he retired from active ministry. The family remained in the area for some time, living at 110 Wellington Road North, Heaton Norris, before moving to Salford.

Wycliffe was then without a minster for some time so, after much debate, the congregation decided to join with the ‘Mother Church’ – the Tabernacle.

1874 – 1886 Rev William Andrew Blake

Rev W.  A. Blake
Rev William Andrew Blake

Rev William Andrew Blake had just joined the Tabernacle as Minister in 1873 when the proposal to join with Wycliffe was agreed upon the following year. Aged 34, he had previously been pastor at Over in Cheshire, and then Crewe where he oversaw the building of a new Chapel in 1870. He was a strong supporter of the Temperance movement and the works of the London Missionary Society, who held meetings and events at Wycliffe.

Married to Frances Hall Glover, they had a daughter, Lillian May whilst in Crewe, and three more children whilst at Wycliffe. The family initially lived at 169 Wellington Road South (where the Guild Hall now stands) but moved to 85 Wellington Road North around 1880, which was a bit closer to Wycliffe.

When the Tabernacle and Wycliffe joined together it was also agreed to enlarge Wycliffe which closed for extensive works and reopened in April 1876 – see the History page. Rev Blake remained at Wycliffe for a successful 14 years when he resigned to take up the pastorate of Portland Street. Read his original resignation letter below: