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SUSAN (FIELDEN) SCHOLFIELD

1711 to 1791

 

Susan Fielden married James Scholfield at ST. CHAD'S in 1731. They lived a middle-class life as hill farmers on the top of the eastern slopes of the Walsden valley. Financially they were comfortable, but life was none the less hard.

   

Calflee Farm before 1900

They were both of yeoman farming stock, the Scholfield family owning the land and farms at CALFLEE and Scout Top in Walsden aswell as probably Lodge Hall, and were leaseholders of the land and farm at KNOWLTOP.
   
After their marriage, James and Susan settled first at Lodge Hall Farm, later moving to the larger homestead at Calflee.

Lodge Hall before 1900

   

Susan in particular was a very devout Christian, and both she and James attended Church on every possible occasion. About 1734, after over 2 years of marriage, Susan gave birth to a daughter, Mary. This little girl died suddenly in her cradle at the age of 5 weeks, before they could have her baptised, and the whole episode made Susan totally distraught. All she and James coud do was call for the curate of St. Mary's church. This was William Grimshaw.

The Rev. William Grimshaw was of a similar age to the Scholfields. He was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge where he was expected to train as a cleric. It was whilst at Cambridge that Grimshaw began to associate with unworthy companions and took to drinking and frivolous living. This style of living in those days was no barrier to ordination into the church and he readily admitted that his main motive for entering the church was to obtain a comfortable and secure parish where he could mix an empty routine of parish duties with fox hunting, gambling and drinking. After a short stint at Rochdale, he was sent to Todmorden. A casual, sport-loving young man, he did little for his first parishioners at Todmorden, spending his time playing cards, hunting, fishing and socialising. To refrain from entering the pulpit drunk was the highest extent of his resolutions, until God intervened in his life in a remarkable way.

   

Calflee Farm , where the Revd. Grimshaw

met James and Susan.

Unable to provide James and Susan with suitable pastoral care, he was only able to tell them to go out and enjoy themselves and forget their sorrow, eat, drink and be merry was his main advice. This was shallow advice indeed for a couple with such deep religious conviction having just lost their first child without a baptism, and served only to make Susan worse.
   

James and Susan ignored Grimshaw's advice and prayed long and hard for forgiveness and mercy. Susan did eventually rid herself of her turmoil, and was certain her prayers had been answered a year later when she gave birth to a healthy daughter, Susan.

Grimshaw was well aware that he should have been able to provide the solace that was needed, and the whole experience filled him with remorse and shame for his own inadequacies. He was amazed at the peace and assurance that Susan believed she received from God in contrast to the pathetic advice he had given. It changed his life completely. In an account he wrote later, Grimshaw described feeling like someone who has "looked into the bottomless pit, has seen his own offences tormented in others, and their brands shaken at him"

Grimshaw had become close to the family by now, believing them to be his own salvation. He renounced his playboy life style, read the bible, and embraced his work. He always acknowledged that his new life was brought about by the inspiration he received from the devout and Godly minded Scholfields. Grimshaw later wrote to James and Susan:

 

"What a blind leader of the blind I was when I came to take off thy burden, by exhorting thee to live in pleasure and to follow the vein amusements of the world! But God has in His mercy pardoned and blessed us all three. Blessed be His great name."

 

Grimshaw became friends with John and Charles Wesley in due course, and it may be he who introduced the idea of Wesleyism to the Scholfields. Certainly someone did. Just after her distress and subsequent forgiveness, about 1745, she went to listen to a sermon by John Wesley who was visiting the Parish, and from her came the first spark of Methodism in the area. She became the first member to join the Wesleyan Society and she attended the first meeting at Longfield. William Grimshaw died whilst at Haworth and has a memorial urn in the churchyard.

Rev. William Grimshaw's memorial

Both Susan and James lived to be old people, leaving behind 4 spinster daughters, 2 married sons and 14 grandchildren. These surviving children and grandchildren were long connected to Wesleyanism and the LANEBOTTOM CHAPEL and school in particular.

 

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