ST. JOHNS CHURCH AND BUILDINGS.
The church of St. John, situated in the centre of an elegant suburb to the north-east extremity of the town of
Wakefield, is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the vicar for the time being. It is a handsome stone
edifice of Roman architecture, and stands in the midst of a spacious cemetery, surrounded on all sides by trees,
which shed a soft religious solemnity over the sacred enclosure.
This structure was erected at a cost exceeding £10,000, under authority of an act of parliament passed 31st
George III. The foundation-stone was laid by the Rev. Thomas Zouch, D.D., author of The Good Schoolmaster,
and several biographical works of great merit, all of which are collected together in two volumes by the late
Venerable Archdeacon Wrangham, who also was himself an elegant accomplished scholar and exemplary Christian. Shortly after its completion, William Lord Archbishop of York consecrated this church, which, being
dedicated to St. John, may "be considered as a revival of the old foundation;"—for from a will dated July 1,
1527, and proved September 25, 1528, it appears that "Thomas Ryther of Ryther, Esq., directs his executors to
apply the sum of £20" (a large bequest in that day) u to the edifying and founding one place of Freers Observants in Sainct John's Church in Wakefield; and if none hereafter be edified there, then to bestow the said £20
by the discretion of his executors."
The Rev. Richard Monkhouse, D.D., was the first incumbent nominated, not by the vicar, but by certain
commissioners appointed by the act referred to under a special clause, introduced for the purpose of securing the
first nomination. Being shortly afterwards translated to the vicarage, and the right of presentation devolving
upon him, he appointed the Rev. William Wood his immediate successor.
From a manuscript copy of a petition in my possession, dated May 13, 1799, presented to "the noble and
honourable trustees for executing the trusts of the will of the late John RadclifFe, M.D." (who was born at
Wakefield, and educated at the grammar-school), which petition was signed by 240 of the most respectable
residents, and countersigned by His Grace the Lord Archbishop of York, and his son, Robert Markham Clerk,
master of arts, archdeacon of York, both of whom strongly supported the prayer of the petition, it would appear
that the inhabitants of the town, feeling the spiritual destitution under which the parish had long laboured, from
the want of sufficient church-accommodation, had, as far back as the year 1725, and at various subsequent
periods, entered into large subscriptions for the purpose of building a new and commodious church, and establishing a competent salary for the maintenance and support of its minister.
From the same document it would also appear " that Mrs. Alice Newstead, widow, deceased, formerly an
inhabitant of the parish of Wakefield, by her will devised to His Grace the Archbishop of York, and others,
estates in the parish of Wakefield, in trust to apply the rents and profits thereof toward the maintenance and
support of the minister of a new church, then intended to be built at Wakefield, in case the same should be built
within a given period after her decease; but the said will being void by the statute of mortmain, the heir-at-law
of the said Mrs. Newstead and the devisee in remainder of the said estates agreed that the sum of £1000 should
be paid out of the said estates for or toward the maintenance of the minister of such intended new church when