Three Ecclesiastical Parishes

In 1855 St. Mary's, Old Malton, was considered the mother church for both St. Michael's and St. Leonard's. Rev. W. Carter was the incumbent of the united parishes. His resignation (the living at nearby Slingsby was conferred upon him), prompted the ecclesiastical separation into three separate parishes, each with their own church and incumbent.

Wide Choice

Maltonians have traditionally had a very wide choice of places to worship. Trade directories have listed these from mid-Victorian times. The Malton Messenger 25th October 1902 lists 10 places offering services.

My Image
1857 Locations
  • The Catholic Chapel, neat but plain brick building erected 1841
  • Baptist Chapel, plain brick building, adjoins the Catholic Chapel on the south side
  • Independent Chapel, in Saville Street, a good brick building capable of seating about 700 persons
  • Unitarian Chapel, is in Green Gate, and will seat about 500 hearers.
  • Wesleyan Chapel, in Saville Street, was erected in 1811, and is a large commodious building, capable of accommodating up to 1,00 persons. the pulpit is handsome, and there is a good organ on a tribune behind it. *Primitive Methodist Chapel, is a large but plain stone building, on the north side of the town. Friends' Meeting House, in Green Gate, is very neat but characteristically plain.

Transcribed from City and Topography of the City of York and North Riding of Yorkshire by T. Whellan & Co, 1857

St Michael's'

St. Michael's stands in the Market Place and has Norman origins but very few parts from this date remain. The tower was added in the 1400s and there have been a series of restorations since. Two of the three main bells date back to the late 17th century. Not surprisingly there have been a number of restorations over the years.

St. Michael's re-opened after a major restoration, in May 1858. This was funded largely by subscription and the names of the subscribers appeared in the final statement and was published in the local paper. Image on the left ©British Library, Malton Messenger 10 December 1859 [2] The scope of the work, some controversial, and criticism of the final result, is described in the newspapers of the time [1]. It included replacement of the pews and floor. During this work, excavations revealed vast quantities of human bones close to the surface, indicative of the former practice on interring the dead in churches.

A further restoration, costing £2,500, commenced in 1882, the church re-opening in September 1883 [3]. In January 1886 there was still a debt of £850 [4]

  • [1] Yorkshire Gazette, 22 May 1858
  • [2] Malton Messenger, 10 December 1859
  • [3] Yorkshire Gazette, 15 September 1883
  • [4] Yorkshire Gazette, 16 January 1886
My Image
My Image
St Michael's Incumbents
  • 1591 - 1624 William Walker
  • 1625 - 1637 Francis Proud
  • 1637 - 1671 Henry Paget
  • 1671 - 1684 William Mason M.D.
  • 1684 - 1689 George Winshopp M.A.
  • 1689 - 1707 William Perse
  • 1707 - 1723 Henry Walmsley B.A.
  • 1723 - 1757 Peter Walmsley
  • 1757 - 1773 Geoffrey Walmsley B.A.
  • 1773 - 1818 John Cleaver M.A.
  • 1818 - 1822 Richard Davies
  • 1822 - 1838 William Flower M.A.
  • 1838 - 1855 William Carter M.A.
  • 1855 - 1896 George A. Firth M.A.
  • 1896 - 1903 Herbert E. Gaussen
  • 1904 - 1911 David Barclay M.A.
  • 1911 - 1921 Hugh L. Ogle M.A.
  • 1921 - 1929 Alfred J. Walker M.A.
  • 1929 - 1937 R.F. Cardale M.A.
St Leonard's

St. Leonard's is of late 12th century origin but did not get its' spire until the 19th Century. Like St. Michael's it was a lesser church to St. Mary's in Old Malton. Located in Church Hill, it passed to the Church of England on the dissolution of the Monasteries and was 'returned' to the Roman Catholic church in the early 1970s. Inevitably there have been a number of restorations. The scope of the 1855/56 restoration of St. Leonard's is described in the Yorkshire Gazette, 15 November 1856.

The leader of the Malton Messenger of 23 June 1860 referred to the scheme to restore the clock faces on the tower of St. Leonard's Church and announced that the MP of the time, James Brown had presented £100. As a result of this it had been decided to include a wooden steeple in the plans. The whole height of the structure was proposed to be 130ft from the ofundation to the pinnacle. The church previously was notorious for the ugliness of its spire and due to that unsightliness and its unsafe condition it was pulled down some six years ago. [1]

There was a public meeting in May 1896 to discuss the dangerous state of St. Leonard's tower. Earl Fitzwilliam agreed to contribute £500 if the parishioners could raise £500 to effect the repairs [2]

  • [1] Malton Messenger, 23 June 1860
  • [2] Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 29 May 1896.
My Image

Primitive Methodists

The Chapel has moved around a bit! The chapel now in use had 'become far too small' when the Borough Bailiff, Jno. Hopkins, a Quaker, laid the foundation stone for a new chapel on 11th July 1866. The site was provided by Earl Fitzwilliam, in Wheelgate, next to the Cross-Keys [1] Services in the new Chapel started on Wednesday 22nd May 1867 [2]

The first Primitive Methodist Chapel at Malton was opened on 22 October 1822, there being 96 members. The interior cost £225. Earl Fitzwilliam built the shell and charged £10 a year rent. There is no lease, and the Earl can claim back at any time. It stands in Spital street, and is now used as a Parish Hall.

The present chapel was erected in 1866. The original cost was £1,834, and the original and subsequent cost being £2,250, there being a debt on the building when finished of £984. Under the Rev. P. Gibbon's ministry the freehold was bought for £250 [5].

The Reverend Gibbon was also instrumental in remodelling the steps at the front of the chapel and installing new iron gates and unclimbable iron rails to take the place of the 'old clumsy work', and an entrance made direct into the chapel. The alterations, together with the erection of the new Post Office building were said to 'make a decided improvement to Wheelgate'. The gates were opened on Thursday 26th August 1909 [3]

The Sunday school was started on 12 October, 1825. The first school was held in a small day school in the Back Lane near the Cattle Market used by Mr. Coates, then in a day school used by Mr. G. Haley until 1834, when a new school was built behind the old chapel. In 1844 there were 30 teachers and 160 scholars, and in 1921 12 teachers and 83 scholars.

In 1872 Mr. W. Gibson was asked by the Quarterly Meeting to try and organise a singing class out of the Sunday school. For some years a string band supplemented the choral efforts. Later a harmonium was bought and afterwards a pipe organ. The chapel at Norton was built in 1864, and that at Old Malton in 1857, the latter costing £172, being leasehold [3]

  • [1] York Herald, 14th July 1866
  • [2] York Herald, 25th May 1867
  • [3] Malton Messenger, 28th August 1909
  • [4] Taken from a cutting, possibly Yorkshire Gazette 24 Nov 1928
  • [5] Malton Messenger, 16 October 1909
My Image

The original chapel was built in 1715 (in Wheelgate, according to the Unitarian Historical Society), partially restored in 1824 and thoroughly restored in 1877. Early in 1878 there was a three day bazaar in aid of the restoration fund [1].

A report late in 1837 [2] states that ' . . . delivered the first of a series of five lectures on the Unitarian doctrine of Christianity, in Wheelgate chapel, Malton . . . '

The 1953/54 Malton Town Guide refers to 'a Unitarian Church in Greengate close to the Friends' Meeting House'.

  • [1] Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 12 January 1878
  • [2] York Herald, 4 November 1837

The foundation stone of the Independent chapel was laid on 30th June 1814, by Mr. Joseph Rider, 'on a site liberally granted by Earl Fitzwilliam for 999 years as a pepper corn rent, when asked for' [1]

The one time Minister of the Malton Independent Chapel, the Rev. George Schofield emigrated to Newfoundland, Canada, in approximately 1849 according to an 1857 newspaper report [2]. Four columns in the publication 'Newfoundland Express' of April 29th 1857 are devoted to testimonials as to his life there. He was Minister of the Queens Road Independent Chapel, St. John's.

  • [1] Yorkshire Gazette, 9 June 1888
  • [2] York Herald, 6 June 1857


The origins of the Malton Baptist Church were in a plan submitted in 1821 to the Baptist Itinerant Society (of North and East Ridings) in 1821 for commencing preaching in Malton. Later in 1821 six people were baptised in the Derwent by the Rev. John Hithersay, of Hunmanby. In 1822 the church was formed, regular services were taking place and an effort to raise funds for a chapel were made. A site was secured in Wells Lane and a foundation stone laid in 1823 for a building to seat 250 to 350 persons. The Rev. C. Morrell was ordained the first pastor of Salem Baptist Church. Wells Lane Malton in 1823. In 1857, membership of the church was reported as 42, with attendance in the morning of 40 and for the evening service of 80 [1]

In August 1860, 3,000 people gathered in the railway goods warehouse to hear the preachings of a Reverend C. H. Spurgeon. [2]

  • [1] A Brief History of the Malton Baptist Church, 1908
  • [2] Yorkshire Gazette, 28 October 1905
Baptist Pastors
  • Rev. C. Morrell 1823 to 1827
  • Rev. L. Shaw 1827 to 1831
  • Rev. E. Godson 1831 to 1832
  • Rev. J. Rouse 1833 to 1840
  • Rev. Boyce 1840 to 1843
  • Rev. W. Hardwick 1843 to 1850
  • Rev. J. Bane 1853 to 1855
  • Rev. B. Shakespeare 1857 to 1863
  • Rev. J. Clough 1863 to 1865
  • Rev. W.H. Allen 1866 to 1868
  • Rev. W. Turner 1869 to 1870
  • Rev. J. Chadwick 1870 to 1872
  • Rev. R.J. Beecliff 1874 to 1875
  • Rev. W. Smith 1875 to 1879
  • Rev. J. Rigby 1879 to 1893
  • Rev. J.O. Ogilvy 1894 to 1902
  • Rev. E. Smith 1903 to ?

John Wesley visited Malton and preached in the first Methodist Chapel which was in Old Maltongate. This Chapel was bartered to Earl Fitzwilliam for the ground on which the present Chapel now stands in Saville street, and which was built in 1811. At the same time two ministers houses were built, one each side of the Chapel. These were used until houses were built on The Mount. The architect of the building was Mr. J. Jenkins of London. During the building work a slater fell from one of the ceiling joists to the chapel floor, Mr. John Temple, surgeon, was paid £4 4s for services in attending him [1].

On Wednesday evening the Wesleyans of Malton celebrated their chapel anniversary ' . . . the public meeting was held in the chapel, Saville street . . . ' Mr. W. Wilson mentioned that it was 76 years ago last month since their chapel at Malton was opened [2]

A History of Wesleyan Methodism in the Malton Circuit during the last thirty years: its past and present financial position, fluctuation of members, with various suggestions for placing the circuit on a more substantial basis. Author J. Collier, 1864.

  • [1] Malton Wesleyan Circuit Magazine, May 1911
  • [2] York Herald, 22 June 1888

Religious Society of Friends

Quakers have worshipped in Malton since 1650. They acquired their first Meeting House in 1677, in Spital Street. This was replaced by the Meeting House in Greengate in 1823


This opened on 19th April 1815 and the first pastor was appointed on 18th August 1815. Prior to that the Congregationalists had the church now used by the Unitarians. [1]

  • [1] Malton Gazette, 22 April 1905

The York Herald of 8 June 1839 reports that 'it had heard that a new Catholic chapel is about to be erected in New Malton . . . When this is effected there will be no less than nine different places of religious worship . . . in the town, which will be thus well provided, seeing that there is only a population of about four thousand.'

1851 Religious Census

At the same time of the 1851 Population Census, enumerators distributed forms to all churches and chapels for the purposes of collecting statistics on attendances at services on 'Census Sunday' (March 30th, 1851). The forms asked for slightly different information depending on whether the recipient was Church of England clergy, Nonconformist ministers, or to Quaker meeting houses. Request was made also for information about the date when the church/chapel was built, for average attendances and capacity. This Census revealed that out of a population of nearly 18 million, only 5.2 million attended Church of England services, with 4.9 million attending other Christian places of worship.  A Maltonian at that time had a great number of choices as to their place of worship.

NOTICE is hereby given that a separate building, named the Protestant Dissenting Chapel, situated in New Malton, in the parish of St. Leonard, in the county of York, in the district of Malton union, being a building certified according to law as a plaace of religious worship, was, on the 16th day of February 1844, duly registered for solemnizing marriages therein, pursuant to the Act of the 6th and 7th of William 4, chap. 85.

Witness my hand this 17th day of February 1844 Alfred Simpson, Superintendent Registrar.

The London Gazette, 23 February 1844

This website is constructed using RapidWeaver. Specific theme design is © Copyright ThemeFlood