Who was William Tong & what part did he play
in founding the Unitarian Church?
Joan answers: I am asked whether
William Tong was the first minister of Brook Street Chapel. Well,
probably!! It all depends on the date one accepts for the building
of the chapel.
The first licence is dated January 1694 though it
may be that it was in use before that but there was some reluctance
to register it officially.
the chapel celebrated its 250th anniversary in May 1939 (the Chapel
was not large enough for the event so the Town Hall was used) click
to view fullsize leaflet.
Henry Green in 'Knutsford: Its History and Traditions',
himself a minister of the Chapel, (1827 - 1873) wrote that it was
completed in 1688. Acts of Toleration were passed in 1687 and 1689.
Now, William Tong certainly ministered to the Knutsford
congregation from 1687-9 when he was called to the Great Meeting
House in Coventry. He was followed by Thomas Kynaston, named by
Green as the first minister.
So you see it is not easy to say who was the first
minister. Tong was remembered for his 'Life of Matthew Henry', and
noted for his bible commentary. Both men preached at Knutsford,
Tong returned several times.